Harrison Karl : A Birth Story


Harrison Karl Hartley
January 30, 2018, 3:29 pm
7 lbs, 1 oz, 20 inches long

Three weeks ago my life was flipped upside down again in the best way when we welcomed our second baby boy into the world.  Though you may have already seen pictures of this beautiful little boy on my Instagram or Facebook page, today I wanted to share how he came into the world - in a completely different labor than the one I had with Henry.

Beginning from the time I was around 34 weeks, my doctor told me he didn't think I'd make it to 40.  And because Henry was early, we expected it even more so.  I began having daily contractions around that time and assumed the doctor was right.  Frustratingly, the contractions never got consistent and though I was already dilated to 3 cm, that's where I'd stay.

At my 38 week appointment, my doctor told me if I didn't go into labor on my own over the weekend, that the following Monday (a day before I'd be 39 weeks), we'd start other measures to hopefully "get this show on the road".  I assumed that meant he'd strip my membranes and I'd have to hope it would work.  I was still hoping to go into labor on my own so over the weekend we did everything we could think of to jumpstart labor.  But, nothing worked.

So I headed to my Monday morning appointment with Brandon.  At the appointment, I was checked and found to still be at 3 cm and nearly fully effaced.  The doctor insisted that if I just had three regular, strong contractions, I'd go into labor.  But it hadn't happened yet so he asked me if I wanted to be induced and have the baby the next day.  I was completely shocked since I didn't think a doctor would induce you until you were late.  But with him insisting it was safe and an option, I wholeheartedly said yes.  We did an ultrasound to make sure all was well with baby and during the ultrasound I couldn't believe we'd be meeting that little baby the next day.


Because the doctor had mentioned jumpstarting labor, my in-laws came to town on Monday which ended up being incredibly helpful so that we didn't have to figure out what to do with Henry when the time came - which had been a huge source of anxiety for me the whole time.  Even if we did have friends all set to help us out.

With our orders to report to the hospital at 9:15 the next morning, we were sent home to prepare.  Our bags were already packed and at one point as we sat in our living room chatting, I felt like I should be doing more.  We were about to welcome a PERSON the following day and yet everything felt strangely calm.  In hindsight, knowing when you're going to deliver is awesome.  That night, we went to a great Italian dinner (my choice) with my in-laws and then went home for the last time as a family of three.

The next morning as we got prepared to leave the house, I was a huge mess of emotions.  I was nervous, I was excited, I was terrified, and I was also overcome with this longing to hold onto Henry just a little bit longer because I knew how drastically all our lives were about to change.  I wanted to enjoy the last minutes of him being my only baby.  We left him with Grammie and Papa, and I'm not sure he even noticed we were gone, but the pang in my chest was strong enough for both of us.

As we slowly made our way to the hospital (it had snowed a lot the night before, just as it did when Henry was born), Brandon and I didn't talk much.  I think we were both overcome with what was about to happen.  When you go into labor on your own, you don't really have the time to think about the magnitude of it all.  But this time it's all I could think about.


We showed up to the hospital and were taken to labor and delivery where we were the only patients.  We had three of the nicest nurses I could ask for and they kept us laughing all morning.  My mom arrived at the hospital shortly after we did and we all settled in for the day.  After some testing and labs, they started my pitocin drip around 10:45 am and I received my epidural shortly thereafter.  Just as with last time, the epidural shot was incredibly painful but I'm so glad I got it.

And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.

My morning nurses were to leave at 3:00 and since they had been with me all morning, I was really hoping they'd be there when I had the baby.  Plus, they all wanted to know what I was having as much as I did.  We all took guesses throughout the day and it was nearly unanimous that we thought the wriggly one in my belly was a girl.  I was convinced the entire time the baby was a girl and mentioned how shocked I'd be if it was a boy.

After hours and hours of waiting with contractions that were strong but tolerable, at 3:00, things began to shift and I was in a lot of pain.  By that point, my sister was also there and as I started to writhe in pain, she tried to gather the nurses and doctors to come in.  When they weren't showing up, and I started saying I needed to push, she got really nervous and ran to the hall telling them I needed to push.  Within a couple of minutes, my mom and sister were out of the room, and the room was suddenly filled with at least ten medical professionals.


At this point, I was in pain like I'd never felt before.  My labor with Henry was pretty simple.  I'm not sure if by this point the epidural was beginning to wear off, but the pain was absolutely awful.  Luckily after about five pushes, at 3:29 pm, the baby was out and I've never felt so relieved to have something be over.  They picked him up and said "it's a boy!" and I nearly burst into laughter.  I was so convinced he was a girl that I was overly shocked.  I looked up and saw that my three nurses from the morning had stuck around so that they could see me through the labor as well and find out if we had a boy or girl.

Throughout the pregnancy we had a few names picked out for either gender, and at the end had settled on Samuel Karl for a boy.  But when he came out and was laid on my chest, something in both Brandon and I insisted that he was a Harrison, another name that had been on our list previously but we had mostly given up on.  And even now, he feels like he was always meant to be Harrison.  Karl is my grandpa's name (one of the most important men in my life) and finding a name that sounded good with Karl was surprisingly hard.  But Harrison felt right and I'm so glad that's what we went with.

At this hospital, they promote an hour of skin to skin contact before they take the baby to be weighed or cleaned off and I'm so glad we had that time with him.  Plus, it distracted from all of the after birth procedures they had to do.  After I was cleaned up, Brandon sent a text to let my mom and sister know it was okay to come up from the waiting room, but we didn't tell them if he was a boy or girl.  When they walked in, I said "please meet Harrison Karl Hartley".  They were as shocked as we were that he was a boy but immediately fawned over him as I knew they would.


Shortly after, my mother and father in law arrived at the hospital with Henry and we got to have the moment I had been looking forward to.  Brandon went to get Henry from the hall while everyone else left the room so we could have a moment all to ourselves, just the four of us.  When Henry walked in I got to introduce him to his little brother and he climbed up and snuggled in with me and the baby and I have never been happier than in that moment.  Because Brandon's parents still didn't know what we had, we sent Henry back out to the hall to tell his Grammie and Papa that he had a baby brother and then they came in to meet him as well.

They kept us in the labor and delivery room for a couple hours after the birth.  Eventually we were moved to the recovery room and at that point, all our visitors left the hospital as well, including Henry.  Brandon and I spent that night enjoying our newest little man, and sleeping very little, but also being over the moon.

I am so glad that our newest (and last) baby is in the world with us.  Today he is three weeks old and I couldn't be more excited to see who he becomes and to see his relationship with Henry as they get older.

Welcome, Harrison.  You complete us.