Friday, September 19, 2014

Charlotte's Birth Story

I guess I have baby on the brain...probably because there is only one more week until we find out who this baby is. But I have nothing more to prattle on about this yet-to-be born babe at the moment so I have decided to finally share Charlotte's birth story here. (Poor neglected middle child.)  Gory details and all. But first a little timeline and background information. Because context is important!

My graduation for my master's degree (Physician Assistant) was on May 15th, 2010. 

On May 24th I took my 8 hour long boards exam (which coincidentally was our 7th wedding anniversary as well). I passed!

Oh yes, somewhere between the 15th and the 24th Joe also took his MCAT in order to apply to medical school. 

May 27th was my due date. 

Not terribly relevant but June 1st was my 27th birthday.

Yeah. We cut it close. Very very close. Especially considering Isaiah arrived 10 days early! But this sweet baby girl took her time making her grand debut because...

On Thursday June 3rd I had my 41 week appointment with my family doctor, a third year resident. 41 weeks! I had never before (nor since) been that pregnant and miserably uncomfortable. Isaiah and I walked to my clinic that morning (after he finger painted my belly). My doctor ordered a non-stress test and ultrasound that morning. Both of which would have been a pleasant, relaxing experience had I not had a two year old with me to entertain (while strapped to a machine). We both survived. And naively I thought my doctor was going to send me on my merry way and see me again in a week. I had sort of resigned myself to being pregnant forever at that point! Instead she informed me that she had scheduled me for an induction the next morning at 7 am. That was Plan A. Apparently I had polyhydrammios, excessive amniotic fluid, and birth was the best solution. According to the ultrasound baby girl's estimated weight was 7 lbs (+/- half a pound). 

I left the clinic with a sense of urgency. It was my LAST DAY as a mom of one. It was Isaiah's LAST DAY as an only child! This day seemed too precious to waste. And yet our entire morning had been spent in the clinic (which felt wasteful). After calling my mom and telling her to pack her bag and make the drive to us and calling Joe's mom to tell her about the scheduled induction, I asked Isaiah what he wanted to do. I told him we would do ANYTHING he wanted. Without any hesitation he chose to go to a garage sale. I of course had no problem obliging him. I pushed him in the stroller to the first sale I could find. A church garage sale just a few blocks from our house. 

What I remember from that sale is that I found an adorable 6 month sized hot-pink-but-I-thought-it-was-red-cardigan for my not-yet-born daughter AND Isaiah had a (potty) accident all over the floor and announced it loudly to everyone in the church gym. I quickly wiped him and the floor up...the best I could with the three remaining baby wipes I had in the stroller, paid for my purchases and made my hasty waddle/run and red-faced exit. Oh and grabbed a headband with bunny ears from the free box on my way out:)

The rest of the day consisted of lunch, nap time, family dinner and finally miniature golf as a family of three. (I guess we were trying to sweeten the becoming-a-big-brother deal?!?) My mom arrived that evening and we stayed up WAY TOO late chatting. It was definitely after midnight when I crawled into bed next to a sleeping Joe. 

A little after 1 am I was woken by a strong wrapping around my belly and including my back contraction. It lasted for what felt like an eternity. And then two minutes later it happened again. I was reluctant to believe that labor was truly beginning. But at the same time these contractions were INTENSE. Take your breath away and stop everything you are doing painful. I slowly made my way to the bathroom and filled up the tub with warm water. (Joe was still sleeping and completely oblivious to my change in condition.) After about 15 minutes and half a dozen strong contractions in the tub I decided to call labor and delivery and ask for their opinion on my situation. After a few questions the nurse interrupted me and instructed me to come to the hospital immediately. I was a bit surprised as I had only been in labor for about 30 minutes but at the same time I was concerned if I didn't move right then I wouldn't be able to get out of the tub later (because the contractions were so strong and close together). 

I somehow managed to get out of our claw foot tub, get dressed, take a last picture of Isaiah as an only (sleeping) child, and wake Joe. His first response was "Ok. Well just wake me when we need to go in" and he rolled over and went back to sleep! A few minutes later I had Joe fully awake and convinced it was the real deal. He went to the basement to update my mom on the situation and then we took this last belly picture between contractions...

(a much cuter picture. Isaiah's last picture as an only child.)

It was (and is) a horrible picture of me! And I didn't even care. That should have been my first clue that this labor was really happening!  At this point Joe still wanted to walk to the hospital. We only lived four blocks away and he thought it would be fun to someday say to our daughter, "Your mother walked to the hospital when she was in labor with you. So what was your complaint again?" I refused. So he drove me and my big old contracting belly there. 

I distinctly remember seeing the time on the clock when we arrived. 2:23 am. And I remember trying to be pleasant with the desk attendant. I also remember being annoyed that she pushed me so slowly to labor and delivery. I just wanted to be there already! Once we arrived at the promised land of L&D the nurse I had spoken to brought me to my room, gave me instructions to "take everything off and put on the gown, opening in the back". I went into the bathroom and tried to be obedient. I really did. But those darn contractions were making it impossible to undress! Finally I emerged with the my sports bra still on and the gown haphazardly draped across my body. Joe gently reminded me that I was supposed to be completely undressed under the gown. I growled at him and gladly climbed into the hospital bed.

The nurse returned and got me all hooked up and settled in. Another nurse immediately came in and started filling the birthing tub (right next to my bed). I was planning on a water birth. Plan B.  It was at this point I was informed that my doctor had been called and she was on her way. All without anyone checking a single contraction on the monitor (or my dilation for that matter!). I was shocked. And felt that maybe they were being a bit hasty?!? At the same time I was beginning to accept the fact that this was really happening and fast. Besides the ridiculously painful and frequent contractions, my biggest clue was the fact that the nurses never left my room. (Thanks to my OB rotation in PA school and from my previous labor experience, I knew that meant the end was near...the nurses don't stick around unless its go time.)

My doctor arrived around 3:15 am. By that point I was in my birthing zone. We had the radio playing softly in the background. My nurse was a constant presence on my right. And Joe was to my left putting pressure on my lower back. She checked me and declared me at 8-9 centimeters. What?!? I was in disbelief. That was amazing good news. But there was bad news. I wouldn't be able to attempt a water birth because baby girl was a "hand presentation". Meaning she was trying to come out hand first. So that moved us to Plan C, regular vaginal delivery sans water. After a few more contractions and (internal) manipulations by my doctor, baby girl pulled her hand in and was declared a "head presentation". But I still wasn't allowed to get in the tub:(  I vaguely remember being told baby wasn't in the perfect position and I was asked to go on all fours on the bed and "relax". Ha! Again I tried to be compliant. But it felt like torture. All I wanted was to lie down on my right side and have Joe apply pressure to my lower back. So that is exactly what I did. 

Around 4:30 am I was declared complete and the pushing began. During one of my first "practice pushes" my water broke and sprayed (like a hose!!) all over my still-in-her-regular-clothes doctor. Oops. I felt terrible (for her) but the relief it gave me was phenomenal. That's when things got real. My doctor changed into scrubs and all the birthing + baby paraphernalia was wheeled into my room. I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. But it felt wrong to me. It felt different than my first delivery. And it felt like it wasn't working. This "wrong" feeling I had also made me afraid. Afraid of what I am not quite sure. Somewhere in middle of this pushing my doctor explained to me that the baby was OP (occiput posterior) - in layman's term she was sunny side up - but angled to one side. She also had her head arched back instead of tucked in. So instead of being able to feel her fontanel (soft spot) my doctor could feel her forehead and then eventually her eyebrows/sockets. It was at this point, nearly an hour into pushing that the on-call OB came in and gave his opinion of the situation.

He felt a c-section was necessary. And despite really not wanting to undergo surgery (especially after experiencing labor and an attempted delivery), I agreed immediately. I was given the option to try a bit longer, but I just knew baby girl needed a different escape route. It felt like the right choice. I immediately had peace with the decision.

What didn't feel right was being told to stop pushing and just relax. Um yeah! That felt impossible. My contractions were right on top of each other. I was fully dilated. And my body wanted that baby OUT! I literally had to cross my legs to stop myself from pushing with each contraction. I had not had any pain medication (nor an epidural) at this point because I hadn't needed it. NOW I NEEDED IT and made my request known. Unfortunately I got nothing until 30 minutes later when I was rolled into the OR and my spinal was placed. That blessed spinal. It was the best. I immediately relaxed and was so excited to meet my daughter.

What felt like hours later (oh the anticipation!) but was in fact only minutes later at 6:26 am I saw her for the first time...

My daughter. 

And then just like that they were whisking her away. I assumed something was wrong so I sent Joe to be with her. He returned minutes later to inform me everything was great. No problems. When I asked further he told me she looked like a bulldog. My NEWBORN BABY a bulldog?!? What?! This description prompted me to send him back out to take more pictures of my baby so I could more accurately assess this situation. He returned with this picture...

I agree her face was a little swollen and red, but a bulldog? I think not. I thought she was (and is!) the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen!

Joe again went to be with our yet-to-be-named daughter while the surgeon was putting me back together. I thought I was going to be anxious to get out of the OR and reunited with my daughter, but I was strangely calm and relaxed. I think I might have even dozed off once or twice:) Joe returned to me one more time to inform me that our baby weighed in at 9 pounds even and was 21 1/4 inches long. I didn't believe him. I thought he was joking. (The ultrasound they day before estimated her weight a whole two pounds lighter!) Getting out of surgery and seeing and holding my daughter was THE BEST moment.  

Almost as good was introducing Isaiah to his new baby sister...Charlotte Esme. 

Officially a family of four!

Want more birth stories? 
Baby #1...HERE
Baby #3...HERE

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