Hello Charlie: A Birth Story
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Once we decided to start trying for kiddo #2, it didn’t take long for us to get pregnant again. I blame Hubby’s side. They have fast and determined swimmers over there. Not that that’s a bad thing. I just expected it to take a little more time. We’d only been trying for about a month and a half when I noticed one day that a felt a little . . . off. The feeling was ever so slight. A tiny bit . . . not even nauseous, just . . . gross, I guess. And my head was just a teeny bit fuzzy. Like it was just a touch harder to concentrate. I recognized these feelings. I hadn’t expected them so soon, but I was pretty sure I knew what they meant. So I swung by the store on my way home from work and picked up a pregnancy test.
Not only was I surprised that it had happened so soon, but I was doubly surprised when I realized when my due date would be . . . May 8th. Exactly one week later than my May 1st due date with Emma. These babies could share a birthday! Hubby (who’s a twin) thought this was great! Me . . . not so much. I spent the next 9 months praying to God that they’d be born on different days. Please, Jesus! Not on her birthday! Please don’t let me give birth on her birthday!
This pregnancy was a lot like the last . . . but worse. The sickness started early and hit hard. At 6 weeks, I had to make a trip to the ER for dehydration since I’d been unable to keep anything down for a couple days. After a couple bags of fluids, I left with a prescription for some anti-vomiting meds that did absolutely nothing for me. It was terrible. I remember lying in bed and sobbing because I felt like I was dying. Just slowly wasting away. I prayed so hard that I wouldn’t miscarry, because if I did, I knew I wasn’t going to try again. Emma would be an only child. Pregnancy hates me. And I hate pregnancy. I cannot even fathom being pregnant again. That’s a hard NO from me. Never again!
Thankfully, about a week after my meltdown, I had my first prenatal appointment where my wonderful midwife prescribed me a new medication that actually helped. I was still super nauseous all the time, but at least I could hold down my food. But I had to keep taking it the whole 9 months or things would get bad again. Thank God for modern medicine!
With the sickness came the traditional pregnancy exhaustion, made extra unbearable by having a tiny little vampire who, I swear, sucks out all my energy my osmosis! Gone were the days of 3-4 hour naps, like my first pregnancy. This time around, I was pretty much a walking zombie.
And everything hurt. All the time. I feel like, because my body had done this once before, it remembered and decided that instead of taking it’s time to expand slowly, it would just explode! I swear to you, I left work one day still in the “I look chubby” phase, and two days later, when I came back, I definitely looked pregnant. My co-workers were shocked at how quickly I popped out. And it hurt. It hurt so much. Add to that with some pretty gnarly hip pain and super sensitive boobs (that didn’t happen the first time around), and I was just one big ball of OUCH!
After the chaotic aftermath of Emma’s birth (a dozen people invading my room immediately following her arrival), I opted to go a different route with this pregnancy. I decided to forgo the traditional OB/GYN and instead enlist the help of the midwives at a local birthing center. I wanted this birth to be calmer and quieter and I wanted more say in what was happening to me. Hubby wasn’t comfortable with the idea of my giving birth anywhere other than a hospital and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was willing to give up my beloved epidural. Thankfully, the midwives had the access to deliver babies at a hospital right down the street from their office (the same hospital I was born in, as a matter of fact). So it was a win/win for both of us.
I checked out of work two weeks before my due date. In that time, Hubby and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, held Emma’s birthday party (a week early, cuz let’s not tempt fate), I finished the nursery, and scrubbed the garage (What? Doesn’t everyone clean the garage while nesting? Just me? Hmm).
Then Emma’s actual birthday rolled around. Hubby was at work so the tot and I spent the day eating Birthday Cake pancakes, playing at the Children’s Museum, and scarfing on McDonald’s. Her day. Whatever she wanted. Around 7:30 p.m., right before bed time, I started to have some pretty bad pain in my hips. It felt like the baby had wedged herself sideways and was trying to push my hips apart. The pain would come and go, but when it came, it was hard to breath. After about an hour of this I realized that the pain was ebbing and flowing fairly regularly . . . like contractions. With Emma, my water broke before contractions started and they gave me an epidural right away, so I didn’t really have much experience with exactly what to expect. Was “hip labor” even a thing? Back labor is a thing, so why not hip labor, right? So I Googled it, and it turns out, it is very much a real. At this point I was pretty sure I was in labor. Then the pain switched from my hips to my stomach. Yup. Definitely labor.
My first emotion was relief. Unless my labor delivery went super fast, I was pretty confident that my babies would not be sharing a birthday. Yay! Then I did exactly what the midwife told me I should do, I rested.
Ba ha ha ha ha! Not!
I immediately started trying to finish up the house cleaning. Ridiculous? Probably. But the idea of coming home to a dirty house made me anxious, so a mama’s got to do what a mama’s got to do!
After the laundry, vacuuming, and general picking-up was done, I did actually get in bed and try to get some sleep. But after an hour it became clear that I would definitely not be sleeping through these contractions. So I got up and called the Hubby and told him to head home. I labored on the couch for about another hour and a half. At this point it was about 1:30 a.m. and I decided that I needed to call my midwife and head to the hospital.
When I arrived, I was dilated to 5 cm and the contractions were pretty strong. I hadn’t decided one way or the other on the epidural, so i was just going to see how far I could go without one. The only way I could keep my body loose enough to ride through them was to shake my whole body. Head, back, hips, even vibrating my lips like a horse. I just had to shake and shimmy. Like one giant shiver. They signed me in and took me to my room.
A woman that I know from our local babywearing group is a L&D nurse and was on shift when I arrived, so she popped in to say “Hi” and give me some encouragement. That was a nice surprise. I tried laboring in the tub because I loved the warmth of the water, but I just couldn’t seem to get the leverage I needed to try and ride out the contractions. So after about 30 minutes, I came out.
It was easier for me to ride out the waves of pain when I was standing up and bent over the bed. But at this point, it was after 3 a.m. and I’d been up since 7 a.m. the previous day, with no nap. I was exhausted. Too exhausted to stay standing. So I laid in bed, on my side, and grabbed the bed rail to try and breath through the contractions. But the more intense they got, and the more tired I became, the harder it was to not tense up during the contractions.
Finally, about 5:30 a.m., I called it quits and asked for an epidural. At that point the midwife measured me at 7cm and decided to break my water to see if we could speed things up. Once the epidural was in, the intense abdominal pain was gone, but it was replaced by wave upon wave of pressure which just kept getting more and more intense.
Then shift change rolled around. A new midwife came in to introduce herself and let me know that she was running down the street to their birthing center because another mother was in labor. I guess I made a face as another strong wave of pressure hit me and she asked me if the epidural was working. I explained that it was, but that the pressure had been getting stronger, so she decided to check my progress.
“OK, there’s baby’s head and . . . I don’t feel a cervix. OK. Just a sec.”
Then she grabbed her phone and called the birth center to let them know she’d be a little bit. It was time for me to start pushing. With Emma, I pushed for what seemed like an eternity. The longest hour and a half of my life. Then, the pressure never ebbed and flowed. It was constant, intense pressure All. The. Time. I couldn’t tell when I was contracting and so I didn’t know when to push. This time, I could tell when I needed to push, and so I did. For 13 whole minutes. Then my baby girl was in my arms. Whoa! That was fast!
10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes. After 40 weeks of hell, I finally had my prize. And, oh, was she worth it! Born at 7:33 a.m., just one day after her big sister’s birthday, little Miss Charlotte came into this world weighing 7 pounds 15 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long.
The hospital I choose to deliver at has a “Golden Hour” policy. That means baby is given to the mother to hold and cuddle for an hour before they take the baby to have him/her weighed. So I got plenty of snuggles, before she was taken for her measurements.
This time there was no parade of nursing students. No room full of people all trying to talk to me at once. It was quiet and calm and just how I’d wanted it.
Introducing Emma to her new sister was a bit nerve wracking for us. During the pregnancy, she’d gone back and forth between being super excited about being a big sister and whining that she wanted to be the little sister. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t one of those picture perfect moments you see on TV. One minute she wanted to see and hold and kiss the baby, the next she was crying that she didn’t want the baby to come home. In reality though, we think she was just upset that she couldn’t be with us. She wanted us to either go home with her or she wanted to stay at the hospital with us. She just wanted her Mommy and Daddy. Now that we’re all home, Emma has been a great big sister. All the hugs and all the kisses all the time. And I do mean All. The. Time. We’re constantly having to tell that kid to leave her sister alone and let her sleep! She just loves her so much!
(photo credit: Birdie Fyffe Photography)
And now here we are, 3 months later and I can barely remember our life without little Charlie. She lights up our lives with her little smiles and relaxed disposition. I’m so thankful that she’s ours! You were worth it all, baby girl. So very worth it!
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