Emily Henderson

Charlie's birth story … and how its going now

Well, folks. We had our baby, Charlie, and because it’s the biggest accomplishment of my life I’ve decided to write a super long post about it. These details aren’t going to remember themselves so one must write them down … and then publish them online for hundreds of thousands of people to read. Naturally.

First, lets recap … having a baby is like watching an average season of Mad Men. It starts off with a bang (we’re pregnant!!!!) – lots of excitement and intrigue for what is going to come. Then nothing happens for months and months and months. You start questioning whether you are wasting your time; whether or not its been worth putting in the effort. And then WHAM!!! The season finale comes and hits you so hard that you forget all the non-events that year. It’s somehow all worth it.

pregnancy announcement

The birth is just like that – it takes you by surprise, slams you in the face, and leaves you forgetting anything negative that really happened in the last 9 months. I didn’t particularly like being pregnant but I’d do it all over again right now if I got another Charlie.

Brian Henderson baby
Photo by LK Griffin Photography

Last friday during the day we shot my maternity photos with Katherine and Luke of LK photographs. More on that later, but they were awesome and I can’t wait to show you. We did, however do some light ‘bouncing on the bed’ as seen in this photo which may have contributed to Charlie’s early arrival.

emily henderson
Photo by LK Griffin Photography

Well that night at around 2 am I started to feel some heavier contractions – ones that seemed beyond Braxton Hicks (which are basically practice contractions). After about 20 minutes of these (3 minutes apart) we called our doula and she walked us through making sure it wasn’t false labor. I got in the tub, timed them, etc and we really didn’t want to go to the hospital in the middle of the night if it was false, so we waited. My water hadn’t broken so I got back into bed and just kinda waited it out. It hurt, but was bearable.

Around 5:45 I heard a pop and gush; sounds like a disgusting dance move, I know. Miley loves the pop and gush. My water official broke.

It was ON. We grabbed our bags, got dressed and were all a flutter with excitement. I just kept thinking It’s finally, FINALLY happening. I’M GOING TO HAVE MY BABY!!!!!!!! It was an awesome feeling knowing that sometime in the next 24 hours (if I was lucky) Charlie would be in my arms.

Then the contractions came on fast and furious before I even left the house and I immediately started chanting, Brian, I really, really want an epidural and I’m not just saying that ok?. I said it in between contractions (in the car) as well as during them just so my needs and wants were VERY clear. It’s not that it hurt that bad but I knew that if it hurt this bad this early than  I was totally screwed and that there was simply no need to endure such extreme pain for what could be 10 – 20 hours. Oh, hell no.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 am and I was in full labor – contractions were a 1:20 apart, and lasting 45 seconds. Unfortunately it was shift change time (7am) which is the worst time to EVER go to the hospital. They of course thought I was just being a first time mom and didn’t believe that my body had the sense of urgency that it had, but like his mom, Charlie apparently had little patience and I knew that he was coming  and coming fast. I was stuck in triage as they didn’t even believe that my water had broken. I told them about the pop and gush, but they weren’t impressed. My doula came and coached me what to scream to get them to listen (Its in my BUTT!!! There’s pressure in my BUTT!!) then they knew that I was getting close to giving birth and not just having some early contractions. When I arrived at the hospital I was dilated to 4 (scale of 1-10 for those of you who don’t know, 10 being when you give birth), but I didn’t know how long from 4 – 10 would take and i wanted that epidural STAT.

They kept saying in a very condescending way, ‘There are things that need to happen before you can just have an epidural’ and I just didn’t feel like they understood the amount of pain I was in. I mean, I’m not sure how much you guys want me to write about the pain nor do I really know how to do it in a way that could possibly do it justice, but in short, its blinding. It’s unbelievable pain that you can’t even fathom. Far worse than I had predicted and I had predicted it to be unbearable – which is why I went into it with such a loose birth plan. When I had my miscarriage last year It was extremely painful and I remember during that pain I told myself, Emily, when you do have a baby you are going to want the epidural because if this is just a small percentage of the pain you’ll feel then you are screwed. I had a sense of what type of pain it would be, just not the level of pain. Its unbelievable. I don’t mean to scare you, I just think that having high expectations (or low) is helpful so you aren’t totally thrown and can instead really prep for pain management. You have options, be open to them.

ANYWAY, turns out that I was actually already dilated to 9.5 and it was time to push – that’s why the pain was so extreme. I thought I was at the beginning of labor but I really was at the end. I guess that in that one hour since I had arrived at the hospital everything escalated really fast which is why the pain was so blinding so early on – I was moving from 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, in a matter of minutes, and it was time to push. No time for an epidural, but at that point I just wanted the baby out.

Brian and my doula, Carmen, were perfect, so supportive and kept me from pushing too early and too fast.  Then when it was time to push I closed my eyes and I contracted my entire body, turned purple and 7 pushes later Charlie was laid on my chest.


All pain was gone; only pure relief and then total surrealness was felt. He was a conehead, he was grayish purple, but he looked just like I had pictured and he was nothing short of amazing. You just can’t believe that moment is actually happening. You see it in the movies and all of your friends tell you about the moment, but until you experience it you really can’t fathom it’s actually happening.

emily henderson baby

The second the birth is over is incredible, but too weird to fully process. It’s later that day, or probably the next day that the joy and happiness really sets in – at least that’s how it was for me.

But back to the details:

No, I didn’t have an epidural, but not because I didn’t want one. Its like I went to Barney’s ready to spend $1200 on a coat and then as I got up the register it was on sale for $300. Sweet. So everyone is fawning over how amazing it is that I had a natural birth, but I really was just given a natural birth. I had a 3 hour labor. I won the labor lottery. Water broke at 5;45 and Charlie was on my chest at 8:39am. I am absolutely one of the lucky ones so for me to ever say in any sort of bragging way that I had a natural birth is so offensive, I would even punch myself. I had a natural birth because I only had a 3 hour birth. I’m a bad ass, yes, but so is every woman who has ever felt a real contraction or hell, ever gotten pregnant. It’s all a feat.

No, we didn’t circumcise. We debated for weeks and ultimately neither of us felt there was a compelling enough argument for it. We actually don’t think it’s that big of a deal so I’m not here to tell you to do it or not, but we figured unless one of us felt strongly about it we shouldn’t do it.  We feel really good about the decision.

Yes, we filmed the whole thing and Yes it will be edited and posted on the blog. I doubt there will be anything too graphic (aka, my lady party) but I’m so incredibly happy that there is going to be a video of that hour. (Stay tuned)

emily henderson baby

Brian was amazing, and yes he was down at the business end helping leverage my legs and encouraging me to push. He saw everything and isn’t freaked out at all. I know it’s not for all men, but I think it’s often an unnecessary fear by both sexes that once they see your parts like that they’ll never see them/it the same again. What they get to witness is f*&king amazing and it’s also so different from how they normally see you. Brian says he really can separate it, and he’s not just saying that. He’s psyched he got to see our son being born and brags about it constantly. He was blown away by what he saw and I’m pretty sure his high respect for me just sky rocketed up. To see Charlie come out of me and to hear the sounds that came out of my mouth (tribal) – I mean, I’m pretty much a goddess to him right now. And rightfully so.

So, folks, Charlie was born at 8:39 on December 7th and he is perfectly healthy in every way. We are extremely lucky and dare I say even blessed. We stayed in the hospital over night and were home the next morning. My, my, how life can change in 24 hours …


So, the week after birth was totally magical. We had just moved into our new house. I had just finished one million projects and had already prepped out the blog for the month. We have been able to lay around and hang out with our new baby as a family and properly obsess about this little miracle. Brian’s mom has been here helping (which has been just so incredible) and we’ve had a ton of very wanted visitors. So far its been totally manageable I think because Brian has been here every single second, changing almost every diaper, up with me every minute during the night and just being so incredibly sweet. Here’s to hoping it lasts.

baby charlie

My question to you:

How can something so trite, something that is done sooooooooooo often – millions of births a year, 100,000s of births a day, still feel so special and unique? I’ve struggled with how to write about it all pregnancy. I’ve searched for metaphors or analogies that could help people understand how amazing it is, but there just isn’t any. It stretches your parameters of happiness far beyond what you knew existed. And at the same time there begins an underlying uneasiness. Its as if I just realized that if something ever happens to him I will never, ever, ever recover. The thought of living is totally unbearable. And I don’t mean unbearable like Kate Winslet talking about how humble she is, or Gwyneth talking about how her kids only watch french tv – but more like I think my life would be over. It’s an emotional responsibility that I’m not sure you feel until you are a parent. It’s just terrifying. And it’s caused 2 pretty huge uncontrollable weepfests (update … now 4). I fear I might love him too much.

baby charlie

Ten days later I’m feeling a bit less terrified although I have felt some of the baby blues, for sure.  He’s been sleeping fine and crying very little, but my hormones are still totally insane and there are times when I  just spiral into a unconsolable mess for no rational reason. My doula told me this was perfectly normal as my body is still trying to make the perfect milk so it’s adjusting and pulling different hormones from my body, leaving me with a splitting headache and severely weeping. Nothing to be worried about yet and I’m pretty sure its normal (although you can help me attest to that). These hormones are pretty amazing and brutal at the same time. I just feel so happy and high in one hour and then just so sad and full of self-pity the next for no rational reason. Very irritating. I have cabin fever for sure, but I’m still loving spending every second with Charlie. Its like I’m 14 and in love for the first time, times 1 million. Obsession beyond comprehension.

But ultimately, there is really nothing to cry about when these two dudes exist:

Brian and Charlie brian and henderson

Brian is already an amazing father, possibly the best I’ve ever seen (although my dad is pretty great, too). I knew it, I did. I married him for one million reasons and one of them being that he would be an incredible father. He’s so involved, supportive, selfless and considerate already. He’s absolutely perfect. Dangerous words, I know

I know that the next 18 years are going to be full of challenges and life won’t always feel so happy and good, so I’m really trying to appreciate every single second right now – I literally just stare at him and think/chant to myself my god, I’m so lucky over and over.

emily henderson family

So life is just good. Nay. GREAT (besides those annoying occasional baby blues). Gushing is officially over, although probably just for now. I know that this kind of bliss is the not the case for everyone and it won’t last forever, so while this post is full of mostly happiness and some accidental bragging, if and when trials and challenges occur I’ll be open about those as well. I promise.

emily henderson baby
Photo by Megan Gray Photography

I just feel lucky. Charlie has no idea how much we love him. The bond that I feel with him is beyond how anybody has described it. I miss him when I’m right next to him. I stare at photos of him when I’m in the next room. Every time I kiss his cheek I get a rush of happiness. Every second of every day feels like an 8 year olds first Christmas right now.

It’s going to be a totally magical Christmas. I am officially the luckiest person on the planet (she writes, while weeping :))

Maternity photos by the lovely LK Griffin Photography (more on those later), and last photo by Megan Gray, thanks Megan!

Still curious? Read the pregnancy announcement, watch the gender reveal video, read my 5 favorite things about being pregnant , check out my maternity must haves, see my first baby shower (second to come in January) and read my birth plan.

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  1. Beautiful pictures! Beautiful family! I am pregnant and looking for something vintage-y and chic to wear for photos… where did you get that amazing robe in the belly picture?