Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Charlotte's Birth Story

This will probably be a hard one for me to write and it'll be pretty long. It's not a day I go back to often. Charlotte's birthday was the best day of my life while simultaneously being the worst day of my life. This post is poorly written and basically everything I can remember. I wish it were a beautifully written story, but this is all I can remember.
{FYI - Some of the pictures are a little graphic, but there's no nudity.}
I had my last doctor's appointment on July 24th. When we scheduled that appointment on the 16th, I remember telling my doctor rather pessimistically that I'd see her on the 24th. She laughed and hinted at the possibility of me going in to labor before the next appointment. I laughed back and said "see ya on the 24th." So on the 24th, we discussed being induced. Early on in the pregnancy I asked her "how early would you let me deliver and how late will you let me go?" Her answers - she wouldn't stop labor after 35 weeks and we wouldn't go past 41. So here I was, 40 weeks, 5 days pregnant talking induction. She pulled out her calendar and said, "I work these three days, pick when you want to be induced." I chose the 27th because it was the soonest. Why waste anymore time? I'd come to the hospital Sunday night at midnight, start Pitocin, and she'd check on my progress during her morning rounds at 9. It was all planned out. I left there knowing I'd have a baby by Monday night.
After my appointment I headed to Ethan's sister's house to have dinner with all his family. His parents were in town to visit with their newest granddaughter. Only problem was their newest granddaughter was still snug as a bug. Can't blame them. They scheduled their trip for the week after my due date. We all assumed she'd be here by then. I remember telling them I'd be induced Sunday night and they joked they'd stay till then. Ethan and I headed home for our "last Friday night" before the baby. This crazy Friday night was us watching a movie and subsequently both falling asleep on the couches. Hashtag wild and crazy. I just wish I had known how wild and crazy things were going to get.
I woke up at 2 a.m. Saturday, July 25, because I thought my water broke. It was actually kind of funny. To me at least. Being nearly 41 weeks pregnant, it took me roughly 5 minutes to get out of chair under normal circumstances. When I felt my water break, I was in the bathroom before I realized it. Seriously. I must have transported or something crazy like that. I remember sitting there on the toilet smiling like an idiot. My water broke. This was it. I wouldn't have to be induced and that thrilled me because I'd always been told letting your body take control was much easier labor than being induced. The only problem was that my doctor was not on call for the weekend. Which we had talked about and she was convinced now that we had scheduled an induction day that I'd go naturally over the weekend. Guess she has a 6th sense about these things!
So there I am, water broken and so ready to meet our girl. I go back to the couch where Ethan is to wake him up and tell him. Funny thing is he thought I was waking him up to go to bed since he had a 7 a.m. tee time to play golf that morning. No worries - I told him it was ok to golf that morning. He goes super early and is home before I'm even out of bed. Win-win. I'll never forget how fast he shot up off the couch when I said "baby, I think my water broke." It really was comical. I told him to not panic and that I was getting in the shower. If I truly was in labor, I wanted to look good doing it. Haha! So I took a shower, blow-dried and straightened my hair and we were in the car about an hour later. Ethan was so funny the whole time. He was rushing me and telling me to hurry. I knew the baby wasn't coming that fast. My contractions had been about 8-10 minutes apart at this point. Close, but not close enough for me to make him speed to the hospital in a panic.
{Snapped this horrible picture before heading to the hospital}

{3:01 a.m. - leaving for the hospital}
 Driving in the middle of the night to the hospital because you think your water broke is a surreal moment. I remember imagining that moment, but when it actually happened it was so different. You know your driving to the hospital to meet your baby. You know that within 24 hours you'll hear a baby's cry. You know this is it. This moment leads up to bigger moments.
We got to the hospital and went to the ER. From there they checked me in and wheeled me up to triage to check my progress. By this time my contractions were getting closer, so I was pretty certain this was it. Sucky thing is when they checked to make sure my water had ruptured - it hadn't. I'm pretty convinced these days that the "water breaking" moment I had was the mucus plug coming out. Sorry, TMI, but no one told me it wasn't an actual "plug" like a wine cork. While in triage they monitored me and Charlotte for about an hour and since my water wasn't actually broken {"bulging" in the words of the nurse..} and I was still only 2 cm dilated, they sent me back home. That was the worst feeling. Feeling like an idiot because I couldn't tell if my water broke.
By the time me and Ethan got home it was nearly 7 a.m. I laid on the couch for a little bit while Ethan got me something to eat. I remember sitting on the couch and having that same "water breaking/gushing" feeling with stronger contractions. Weirdest feeling ever. After I ate we decided to try to go back to bed and get some rest. Especially since we had been up since 2 a.m. Ethan got rest, but I most definitely didn't. By then my contractions were getting stronger and more frequent. Not frequent enough to go back to the hospital, but enough to not allow me any rest. Top it off my back labor was getting increasingly intense. One thing about back labor - I would not wish it on my worst enemy. Seriously. It's that bad. The best way I can describe it is a sword slicing you in half at your back - not stabbing, but being dragged long ways along your lower back. I never really got stomach contractions. It was 100% in my back. The doctor said the back labor was due to Charlotte's positioning. She was "sunny side up" or nose/chin up, instead of chin tucked.
Ethan woke up again around 10 and I told him we needed to get off the beach. Where we live is on island that's connected to the mainland by one bridge. And July 25, 2015, happened to be a gorgeous summer day! Again, I wasn't going to be the girl that got stuck in summer beach traffic and gave birth on a bridge on her way to the hospital. Since the foundation for our house was being poured we decided to go check that out first and then head to my Mom's house. A lot of people think this was weird, but it worked for us. The excitement of the foundation being poured sort of took my mind off the intense pain I was in. I hung out with my Grandma and Aunt for most of the time while we were there. {We're building on a lot next door to both of them.} They were both so excited that I was in labor and couldn't wait to meet Charlotte later on.
Once my contractions were getting too uncomfortable for me we headed to my mom's house. I was more comfortable being there. It's just something soothing about having your mom there to help you. I laid on her couch for awhile with a heating pad and winced with every back contraction. My sister-in-law Alexis was there and she kept saying how bad it looked to be in labor. At this point we still weren't sure if my water had broken. I kept getting the gushing feeling with stronger contractions, but didn't want to make a second trip to the ER if it wasn't the real thing. I ended up texting my cousin who's an OB nurse to ask her what she thought. With all my symptoms and how close my contractions were she said it sounded like my water had broken. That's all the info Ethan needed to hear. With my next intense contraction, he had me packed back up and in the car heading to the hospital for round 2.
Once we were back in triage, the nurse checked me again. This time my water had broken and I was admitted. I remember saying "Hell, yes." when the nurse told me the great news! I didn't even care that I was still only 2 cm dilated. It was better than being told to go home for a second time! They got me all checked in, took some blood work, got my IV, and walked me to my room. Once I was settled in the nurse asked if I wanted an epidural. I honestly did want to try natural, but I really underestimated back labor. At this point I had been laboring with real back labor for 12 hours. I was tired and I was done with the pain. Knowing that the epidural process takes about an hour, I decided to order it right away. The anesthesiologist is still my favorite person to this day. Once that sweet medicine started working, I was a different person. I laughed, made jokes, and could carry on a conversation. Pre-epidural I was in tears. Since I wasn't very dilated, the nurses started Pitocin on me. I've heard horror stories about pit, so I really didn't want it, but my reaction to it wasn't a bad one. Probably because I had my epidural, but it wasn't bad for me.

The rest of the afternoon was spent laboring. The epidural allowed me to enjoy the time by relaxing. My nurse was the sweetest and she'd check on me often. We called the birth photographer and she came up once I was 5-6 cm. Looking back, having a birth photographer was the best decision I made. Charlotte's birth didn't end the way I had envisioned, but I'm glad I have the pictures Katie of Annabelle Rose Photography took to look back on the happier moments of delivery. It would be a shame to forget all the good that happened before everything went crazy.


My nurse joked with me that I was too happy to be in labor and that we would all know when it was time to push because my mood would change.

God bless my mom for being there for my entire labor. Anything I needed she had. She even did my hair and makeup! Haha! I wanted my bangs braided because I knew pushing would make me sweat, so I didn't want to deal with that and makeup.. well, I'm vain. There's I said it! I wanted the first pictures of our family of three to look good. Poor Ethan was so tired at this point from all the excitement that he napped for a long time while I labored. I remember thinking it annoyed me a little bit that he could rest, but not enough to wake him up. I know that sounds bad, but I couldn't hate on him for that. It's not like he missed anything exciting!

The farther along in labor I got, the hotter I got. So much that they had to get me a cool rag and keep it on my head. I developed a low-grade fever, but nothing they were concerned about. I just remember it being miserable how hot I was. It was around this point that the nurse started to check me more regularly to see my progress. She said my mood was definitely different and I was transitioning into the type of labor you have to be in to push.

Finally it came time to push. The nurse said I was a 10, 100% effaced, and the baby was engaged. She said she would call the mid-wife to let her know and when she came back we'd do some practice pushing. One thing I wish I had known about practice pushing is that it's not "practice 1-2-3" then pull out the stirrups and let's go. We practice pushed for over an hour. It was miserable. And hindsight I wish I had spent a little time working out while pregnant. I was so weak that I couldn't pull myself up to push. Ethan and my mom had to hold me.

Finally after enough practice pushes, they called the midwife in and they set up the stirrups. The great thing about epidurals these days is that they don't completely numb you to where you're useless during labor. I could feel the contractions and knew when it was time to push. They weren't as intense as they could have been, but they definitely were enough to let me know my body was ready. After the fact I thought my epidural had worn off, but that's just how it was supposed to work.

The next part is the hardest for me to get through. For nearly 2 hours I had been pushing and the baby was finally crowning. I remember thinking I can't do this anymore. I'm so tired. My mom, Ethan and Alexis were there watching. They would tell me how great I was pushing and that Charlotte was crowning. I specifically remember thinking if you can see her head then grab her and let's get this over with. They told me she had hair, which even in my delusional moments of giving birth I remember thinking how great that was. There was mention of getting the vacuum to help her out, but the next thing I know the midwife was cutting me. I felt that. I felt the sting of the scissors and let out a scream. After the fact I was told that this was the point where we think something went wrong. My blood pressure and the baby's heart rate were great up until this point and the "emergency episiotomy" was necessary. I can't remember if it were before or after the episiotomy, but my mind did think "meconium" while I was pushing. Because of that I pushed harder.

After she was out I expected her to be thrown on my chest like a normal birth. It's what I wanted, but the next thing I know Charlotte is across the room in the incubator. I remember looking up at Ethan and asking if he cut the cord. He shook his head no. I remember being annoying and thinking "well, guess I should have told them I wanted Ethan to cut the cord." I also remember asking why she wasn't crying. I needed to hear that cry. She was grunting a little, but no real cry. My mom assured me that sometimes it takes babies a little time to cry. She only cried once. I remember watching through the bars on my bed. I could see the nurses working on her. Using their suctions to clear her lungs. But then things weren't good. There was yelling and a lot of scrambling around. Eventually a nurse ran her out of the room. I never got to hold her. I never got to see her. From there I lost it.

The next 6 hours in the hospital were the worst of my life. While Charlotte was in the nursery, the nurses would walk in and check on me, but they weren't allowed to tell us how Charlotte was, only the pediatrician could. He came in one or twice and told us she had inhaled meconium and would be taken to Sacred Heart (our local hospital that has an amazing NICU) and that she was sick. Since I had had an epidural I had to stay in the bed, but Ethan went to the nursery to see Charlotte. I sometimes wish he hadn't because what he saw has scarred him for life. Not that I can blame him. I'm happy I didn't get to see her like he did. Once the Sacred Heart team got to our hospital, they worked on Charlotte until they had her stable enough to be transported. They told me they might be able to wheel her by me before she left, but she was too critical to take time to do that. The only person I saw from Sacred Heart that night was the neonatal paramedic that told it to me straight. She said she wasn't sure if my baby would live, but they would try their hardest. I appreciated the bluntness. I didn't need anymore false hope. They gave Ethan the option of going with Charlotte, but he chose to stay with me. I needed him more at that point. It's not like he could do anything to help Charlotte. When they left life became a blur. I've never cried that hard in my life. Or pleaded to God more. My parents left and it was just me and Ethan. He climbed in the bed with me and we just cried. It was the worst hours ever. Everything felt numb. I had cried so hard for so long. I had been up for at least 24 hours in labor and had just given birth. I know I was exhausted, but the tears kept coming. I kept begging, pleading with God to spare Charlotte. I begged for His mercy. I begged that He let her live. The hours ticked by slowly. We didn't know what was happening to/with Charlotte and that was the worst. Around 6 a.m. my friend Taylor stopped by with breakfast. She works at the hospital and had made plans to come in early to see the baby and bring us breakfast. She cried with me some, prayed with me and left for her job. I remember receiving one phone call from Sacred Heart that morning. They needed my permission to give her a blood transfusion. The next call we got was Ethan's dad. He told us that they had told him to get in touch with us and that we needed to be at the hospital. Looking back things make more sense. The blood transfusion meant she was hemorrhaging. The phone call to us to get to Sacred meant they didn't expect her to live.
I was discharged from my hospital around 8 a.m. the same day Charlotte was born. I cleaned up my face, threw my sweat knotted hair in a bun, put on the clothes that I had labored in back on and hobbled out of the hospital. I remember packing the bags while Ethan went and got our car. I remember walking over to the incubator where she had been only hours earlier and touching its edges. It was still dirty from the hours before. Leaving the hospital without a baby is the most unfair thing in life. It feels unnatural. It's not right. The ride to Sacred Heart was awful. We didn't know what to expect or even where to go. It was the first time I was going to get to see my daughter.
I know this isn't the happy birth story everyone is used to reading. The moment she was born may not have gone the way I wanted it to go, but God had a plan for her. And looking back now it's easier to relive those moments because I know how the story ends. Or better yet, that her story didn't end. Right now she's a thriving beautiful 3 month old little girl. She's taught me so much in her little life and I'm so blessed to be able to call her mine. I'll continue to share her story as I can. I don't necessarily want to remember the hardship she went through, but I do want to remember everything she overcame.
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  1. God bless you and thanks for sharing! So you were overdue and then the baby ingested meconium which caused all of these problems? I'm piecing this together as I read; I'm an older mother and I was never aware of this possibility, though I was overdue by 10days for 3 pregnancies. I'm learning for my future grandbabies.

    Hugs and kisses!!!

  2. I was fine unti I read th part about Ethan climbing in the bed, then I lost it. I'm so glad Charlotte's story didn't end there and continues to thrive.

  3. I'm so proud of you for reliving all of this and sharing your and Charlotte's story! I'm so sorry her birth ended up being such a terrifying experience but so glad Char is here and healthy and happy! You and Ethan are such amazing parents and I am so thankful all of the prayers worked and she's doing so well! Love ya Momma!!

  4. Read every word. So, so glad I know the happy ending, and so amazed by you! Hugs, mama!

  5. Wow! What an amazing story. I cried through the whole ending of this post. Becoming parents is such a wild ride and I'm so thankful that you were surrounded by a great medical team to care for baby Charlotte. Thank you for this update and I'm so glad that your precious girl is thriving!!

  6. What a story! I do have one question, you said a midwife delivered, so I'm confused, were you at a different kind of hospital since they took her to SH?

    I love seeing Charlotte thrive through your pictures on other social media. Always best wishes to your family!

  7. This is so heartbreaking to read, but it's amazing to know that she's doing great now!

  8. This is the saddest story! I am so sorry that you guys had to go through this but I am glad that Charlotte is okay! Hugs and thank you for sharing! xo

  9. I cried, and I knew she turned out just fine in the end. I can't imagine your emotions when it was happening.

  10. I can't imagine what you two went through, and I am so glad she's ok now. <3 Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. You are so, so, so strong. I followed along on your journey and prayed along with you for Charlotte's strength. It makes me so happy to see her thriving and smiling today. God is good. You are one mighty mama!!! Xx

  12. I cannot imagine having to go through all of that. Even knowing how it all turned out & that she's now a gorgeous healthy baby I still cried.

  13. I followed your story via Instagram, and have loved your blog for awhile now. Im so over the moon happy that this wasnt where Charlotte's story ended - she (and you and Ethan) are so blessed to have one another! xoxo

  14. Even though I followed her progress on instagram, my heart hurts when I read this story. I am so happy Charlotte is alive and thriving. I prayed everyday for your family. Even though her story started off scary, it gets better everyday. I had twins in December 2014 (I was 6 weeks early) and my twins were whisked off to the NICU. We spent 4 long weeks there with our little ladies. Now they are thriving 10 month olds. Crazy how life works out and what God's plan is. Thanks for sharing.