Henri’s Birth Story

Happy 1st Birthday Henri Streicher Lenser!

A gentle flowing stream, running smoothly along and then out of nowhere comes a long rushing, WILD waterfall.

In our first birth class our instructor asked us to illustrate how we felt about pregnancy and childbirth. That’s what I drew, a waterfall. Little did I know on February 28th at 2 AM, a week before my “guess” date, my water would break like a surging waterfall. I was peacefully sleeping and POP-GUSH! I hopped to the bathroom trying stop the raging amniotic fluid from getting all over our bed and carpet. Too late.

Of course, in excitement, I woke up my David. “Honey! Honey! my water broke! The baby is coming!”. Then I began running around like a mad woman. I simply lost my mind. Not in a bad way. I just began waddling around barking orders at David to set up the bedroom for the birth. I was running circles around him. He finally ordered me to stand in one spot on a towel because I was still losing water, turning our house into a pond- the hallway, the nursery, our bedroom floor…ok just about everywhere. Poor David.

We finally got all the proper covers and sheets on the bed, I showered, oh and we re-booked our doulas flight from North Carolina (that is a story all on it’s own-just imagine me on the phone with a United Airline agent at 2 AM telling her I was in labor). David reminded me that our midwives had strictly instructed us to go back to bed if I went into labor in the middle of the night. OOOOOOK. We texted the midwives to give them a heads up and then David fell back asleep almost instantly. I sneakily downloaded a contraction app on my phone. Well, trying to time my contractions worked better than counting sheep(nothing really happening) and I was out until morning.

David’s alarm went off around 6:30 and he tried to turn it off and go back to bed. I rolled over and woke him back up. “Sorry honey but I don’t feel much of anything you better go to work.” He looked at me in disappointment but got up to start getting ready. Jennifer, one of our wonderful midwives called at 7:00 to check on us. We chatted for a bit and she said she was going to come by at 8:00. David stayed home with me until she came by. It was extremely reassuring to have her come over. She offered me some herbs to help speed labor up since my water had broken but said she thought I would be just fine without them. I decided to let me body do what is was going to do and passed on the herbs. I’m so glad I did.

I texted everyone I wanted to tell (maybe everyone I know?) that my water had broken. They were all super excited and everyone wanted to know when I was going to have the baby. Ummm? My sweet mom offered to come over and hang out with me for the day which I gladly accepted. I informed her that I had a busy day planned and would love her help. She was a bit surprised when I told her I needed to go to Target and the grocery store but thankfully just went with it. My contractions (yes, I had been having contractions!) went from “is that a contraction?” to “Uh yeah I think that is a contraction”. Honestly, I still wasn’t really sure if I was experiencing labor or if my mind was just playing tricks on me. We spent the morning at Target getting baking supplies and toiletry supplies for Kellay; our doula and good friend who was coming to stay with us for the birth and a couple weeks after. Next we went to Raley’s (a local grocery store). I’m not sure what I bought besides some lunch meat for David. The delicatessen told me that her belly button popped out when she was pregnant too. I laughed and looked down at my protruding belly button. She said a British man told her she was going to have a boy pointing at her belly button and saying, “…because I can see his tallywacker (the belly button)”. I blushed and chuckled telling her that we didn’t know the gender of our little one but would find out soon. I forgot to mention the fact that I was currently in labor!
We went home to meet David for lunch. I made tuna. Just a tidbit of wisdom for my fellow mommies: Don’t eat tuna while you are in the early stages of labor, alright? It might sound appetizing but you’ll regret it later. Trust me.

After lunch David headed back to work telling me to keep him posted. My mom asked if she could paint my toenails YES! It became clear that things had really picked up because I went on my hands and knees through a contraction at one point and completely ruined a couple of freshly painted toenails.

After my nails had dried we decided to take a little stroll around the neighborhood. I began stopping during contractions on the walk but at this point we weren’t really timing anything. This really helped me to just go with it and let each contraction come and go without any stress or worry. I still thought there would be hope that the baby might not come until our doula flew in the next morning so I was perfectly content in labor (for the time being). I know that sounds CRAZY but using the techniques I learned in hypnobirthing helped me tremendously. At some point I tried to take a nap but that didn’t work for me. I wanted to stay MOVING. My body knew that movement was going to help the baby come down faster. Moving also felt best.

I decided to start making cookies. My birth instructor, Anita had instructed us to make cookies in labor to give us something to do. She also recommended taking these bake goods to the hospital to get the nurses on our side for a natural birth. This part didn’t apply to me but I still liked the idea of keeping busy. I was really intensely laboring and intensely making cookies. It went like this. “1 cup of flour-MOOOM hit the contraction timer!!!” Then I marched around the living room a couple times. “OOOK! It’s over! Now ¾ cup of sugar”. The cookies never got finished, the partially made dough sat in the kitchen aid until a kind soul cleaned it out days later. At some point during the baking process, around 5 o’clock, I called David telling him, “Come home NOW!!!!! But not before you go buy some more sugar- I’m all out and I have to finish my cookies.” Poor guy was getting mixed messages.

I had several conversations with our midwives Jennifer and Tuesday (yes, that’s her real name) throughout the day, they would listen to me experience a contraction over the phone and at some point, probably 5:30, they said they were on there way. I remember at one point talking to Tuesday and she said I wasn’t “out of breath enough” for her to come over but apparently at some point we chatted and she thought it was time. She couldn’t have been more right.
I think at this point I finally realized our doula, Kellay was going to miss the birth! Thankfully she stayed with us in spirit and had several conversations with David throughout the evening which helped us so much in getting through the birth. If you want to read about David’s birth experience click here ( and scroll down a little bit).

So David arrived at home with the brown sugar that we never used and Tuesday instructed us to eat some dinner. My last meal before I was a MOM! My mom made us quesadillas but i’m not sure that I ate but a couple bites. Things were really intensifying for me. I started to feel strong back labor and instructed David to pound on my back during contractions. I used our staircase to kneel as he punched my back. I remember saying “David! Harder!”.
Ding dong! The midwives were here! Even though things were intense I turned to them and smiled. They had become old friends. We had spent countless hours in their office over the past 9 months and here they were!

Mentally I was in a great place. I was excited! My hypnobirthing relaxation CD was on repeat annoying the daylights out of everyone else but helping me immensely. The CD had soft music playing with birth affirmations (phrases of encouragement) like “I am happy my baby is finally coming to me” and “with each surge of my body my baby moves down” or “my body knows exactly what it is doing”.

Alright I feel compelled to share this next part because no one told about this part of labor. Between my amazing doula, wonderful midwives, my mother, my mother-in-law, all the birth books, videos, and blogs, and every other person who has ever given birth I didn’t hear that throwing up was a very normal part of labor. Apparently throwing up usually means you have hit transition and you are getting closer to meeting your baby. So it is a good thing! Well in my head I thought it meant something was terribly wrong. I remember saying to David as I pulled my face out of a barf bowl. “David, do the midwives know I’m throwing up??” He said he would make sure they knew. Jennifer walked through the room and he turned to tell her and I remember her saying “Oh that’s great!” UM WHAT?? Remember how I mentioned tuna was probably a bad lunch choice? Now you know why.

Time became a blur but at probably 7PM I got into the birth tub with David. I had originally told David I thought it would be weird to have him in the tub with me, but when the time came I wanted him as close as possible. He continued to help relieve my back labor with pressure through every contraction. All of the birth videos I watched showed women peacefully floating in the tub. Well let me just tell you, that was not my experience. The time in the tub was a very intense couple of hours. My body had taken over and all I could do was let it. As the contractions grew in strength and length I began to panic a little. I never thought “I can’t do this” or “ I want an epidural.” Instead I wanted to escape the process completely. David said through a couple contractions I looked like I was trying to escape my body, like I was going to jump out of my skin. And then I let out one blood curdling scream. That didn’t help either. Tuesday my midwife very sternly said “Stop it! You are scaring yourself!!”. That pulled me out of my moment of darkness. Jennifer then sprayed some herbal potion in my mouth and David’s mouth too. We all laughed about that later as we couldn’t figure out why the foul tasting spray was given to David as well. It was pretty gross but I got my concentration back and instead of fighting the contractions I worked with them. The midwives told me after that they just loved how verbally encouraging I was for myself. It makes me wish I had videotaped the birth because I talked our baby and I through the entire experience. The same way an experienced climber helps a novice up a mountain. I told our baby (ok maybe I yelled to him) that he was totally safe and that it was okay to move down the birth canal. I told him I couldn’t wait to meet him. I told myself that each contraction brought me closer to meeting him.

I also remember asking Jennifer and Tuesday, “When is the baby coming out?” They both calmly smiled at me and said, “Soon”. Not what I meant you guys! I wanted a time estimate. Are we talking 15 minutes soon or 2 hours soon? In the back of my mind I was wondering if our baby would come before or after Leap Day. I wanted him to come before because who wants to be in labor any longer than necessary but before labor began I was secretly hoping for a Leap Year little one! I asked several times what time is was and always shocked how quickly time was passing. What felt like 5 minutes was usually more like an hour. I’ll take it.
It’s funny, I’ve never seen a live birth…the only birth I’ve been to has been my own so I have nothing to compare it to. At some point I started pushing. No one told me it was time but my body did. It was so instinctual and I couldn’t stop myself. At some point during this phase Tuesday told me to reach down and feel my babies head. I did and immediately said “No, no! It doesn’t feel like a head.” Honestly I thought I might be giving birth to an alien at that point. They said, “Yes it is.” FINE.

The pushing segment of my labor didn’t seem like it lasted long at all. Before I knew it I was experiencing that “ring of fire” you hear about. Yep, it burned. But I was actually so much more comfortable because my contractions were less intense through the pushing and it felt like a break. Not to mention we were about to meet our child for the first time! Afterwards the midwives informed me that the pushing lasted about 30 minutes. So much longer than it felt at the time! Before I knew it the midwives told me his head was all the way out and with one more big push I felt the rest of him shoot out of my body. It really felt like he flew out of me!
I reached down and Tuesday helped me pull him straight to my chest. It was the most incredible moment of my life, even better than marrying the man of my dreams. I felt such a rush of love for the little being on my chest, someone I had never seen in my life. He let out one little cry and it was such a sweet, sweet sound to know he was breathing! Perfect in every way.

We didn’t know what our little man was at the time. David admitted to seeing that he was a boy as he was pulled up to my chest but I didn’t notice. It took me at least 5 or 10 minutes to even ask myself if he was a boy or a girl. I opened one of his itty bitty legs and shouted “It’s a BOY!” Just as I had thought all along. My little man! He was born at 10:48 PM, just two hours before leap year.
I’m not sure how long we adored him in the birthing tub but we all started getting cold once the adrenaline of the birth started to slow down. I stood up with Henri in my arms and delivered the placenta and then we moved to the bed. At some point (30 minutes later?) David cut the umbilical cord and Henri latched on for the first time. It was so exhilarating to see him nurse like a pro.

All of his grandparents showed up to adore him. I held him close smiling with pride! The midwives performed the newborn evaluation at this point. They checked him from head to toe to make sure everything was right. 6 pounds 8 ounces of perfection. They finished and gave him back to me. I wasn’t quite ready to share him yet. I had waited 9 months to meet him and we had a lot of catching up to do.

So now our little Henri is 1 today and it seems like just last week he was born. He has brought us more joy than we could have ever imagined. He lives life with such enthusiasm and glee. He’s such a character with so much spunk. He’s adventurous, curious, and sometimes, if i’m lucky, a little snuggle bug. He smiles so big that his eyes disappear into his face. I had no idea my love for him could be so big but I’m crazy about him. When he goes to bed at night David and I sit on the couch and laugh about his cuteness. So here comes a photo bomb of my baby. Happy birthday Henri!

birth announcement photo
These two are the best of friends. Seeing how happy they make each other melts my heart.
picnic with mom
Just “hanging” out with dada

Henri and his beautiful doula!
Bath time
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He hated swimming in Cabo. Maybe this year?

How do you say no to that smile?
Hanging out with King in Cabo
Soaking up the sun in CABO
Henri in a box!
Looking snappy in his puppy hat.
We love our morning walks
This is just another day of awesome nap hair.
Christmas 2012 Picture wearing his Uncles Johnny’s baby outfit. C-U-T-E
Looking good in some overalls
8 months old!
Couldn’t be any cuter if he tried!
The Lenser circus act!
Just rubbing breakfast in my hair! No big deal!
Gotta love those baby blues!
One week away from the big 1

17 Comments

  1. Love it! Our midwives are the best aren’t they? I wrote my birth story awhile ago and reading this makes me want to read mine again! Happy Birthday Henri!

    • Yes they are awesome! Thank you! I’d love to read your birth story! Do you have a link?

    • You never forget the details of giving birth. I’m now 75-years old and when I was in labor with my first child, I was throwing up. My mother said, “The baby is not going to come out that way. They have to come out the same place they went in.” I’ve laughed about it for years. He is 56-years old now, an old man. My grandmother was the town mid-wife so all of us kids were born at home.

    • That is too funny! How wonderful that you were all born at home!

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  3. Julia that is an absolutely amazing story! You are an incredibly strong woman and I hope this inspires more women to natural birth. The overall experience sounds very peaceful despite the moments of pain you went through. I love that you were running errands and attempting to bake cookies while in labor! Sounds so much better than laying in a hospital bed where the pain of contactions and how slow time is moving is the only thing you can think about. Happy Birthday to your little one and congrats on such a huge accomplishment!

    • Thank you Genna! This comment made my day! It is my hope that my story encourages other women to see a different side of birth. It was one of the best days of my life and I’m honestly excited about giving birth to another baby(the labor part too!).

  4. Loved reading your birth story Julia! Chris and I are both very excited to meet our little Grayson Gene Pargett. Have you ever watched the documentary The Business of Being Born? You should check it out. Chris and I actually watched it a few years ago, just after we had gotten married. It really opened my eyes up to many of the misconceptions about birthing and has given me a lot to think about. We will be doing a hospital birth this time, but I have not ruled out using a midwife and doing an at-home birth down the road with our future children. Wish Henri a wonderful and Happy Birthday from us!

    • So very excited for you and Chris! I can’t wait to meet sweet baby Grayson too!
      I love the film the Business of Being Born. Incredibly eye opening! I think it’s great that you and Chris have already watched it together. There is actually a sequel called More Business of Being Born-I think it’s also available on Netflix. It’s about 4 hours longs but it’s also great.
      Have you and Chris considered hiring a doula? It’s something I HIGHLY encourage if you are giving birth in a hospital setting. They will truly be your advocate and make sure you get the birth you want. Email me or facebook me if I can help in any way! Congratulations again!!

  5. What a beautiful birth story! I laughed and cried at different points! I loved getting to hear a home birth perspective! I’m sorry I didn’t warn you about throwing up 🙂 Happy Birthday sweet Henri!!

  6. Erin Anderson

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I came across this because I found your sourdough french toast recipe on Pinterest. I am hoping to have my next birth at home after my first 2 were in the hospital. I love reading natural birth stories but especially home births. I wrote my natural birth story after my second was born here, http://wertheandersons.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-birth-story.html.

  7. Tracy

    Oh please birth happens every day. Get over yourselves!

  8. Roxie

    What a wonderful experience! I enjoyed reading this very much. Henri looks like such a happy baby!

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