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Charlotte’s Entry to the World

I feel that birth stories, and other important moments are best recorded soon after occurring to ensure the details aren’t lost. This is the story I’ll tell Charlotte on her first birthday.

At four in the morning exactly one week after she was supposed to arrive, I started day dreaming about her birth story. I told myself “Your mom got a stomach ache and started thinking of you.” Unable to sleep, I got up and experienced the undeniable feeling of water breaking, which is a weird phenomenon since my cervix was at 0 cm the checkup before.

I walked over to Chris and asked him what he thought I should do. He looked up groggily and said, “sleep,” with a happy little smile on his face. Of course I ignored his not-so-sage advise and called the midwife on duty that night. I swear she didn’t believe me. She told me to rest and call in the morning. So I looked at pretend houses online and researched silly things until I could fall back asleep.

At 9am, Michelle, the new midwife on duty, called me and told me to meet her at the birthing center at 10. We packed our snacks and special pillows and met her there where I started taking herbs and waiting for labor to begin, which it did… sorta.

Throughout the day I was hit with waves of really serious contractions every two minutes that took full concentration and many back rubs and breathing techniques. But alas, after checking I was still at less that 1cm and the pains hadn’t sent me into active labor. So we waited and labored and breathed.Chris was phenomenal. He was receptive and attentive and gave me all the support I could have asked for. We listened to our ipod and laid on the big queen sized bed waiting for the next series of contractions to begin.

We labored like that for hours and hours. At some point I took castor oil. Bad plan. No one should ever take it, even if it is said to work. (More on that later.) The castor oil didn’t really kick in and I continued to have very painful contractions that were sadly going nowhere.

And at 8pm, after sixteen hours of labor, we decided it was time to go in to the hospital. Our other option was going home and hoping these excruciating pains would result in active labor, but at this point I was already pretty tired so we made the executive decision to get this baby on her way.

The car trip was terrible as is expected when having contractions every two-three minutes. As soon as we pulled into the drop off, I had a contraction and the castor oil decided to kick in… a full six hours after taking it.

I moaned/waved to Sam, the fantastic midwife who had arrived to assist and I hobbled/ran into the very public restroom at the hospital and proceeded to have contractions and other yucky stuff for what felt like hours. Eventually, I made it out and we got me to the labor and delivery room.

At this point I was still not dilated at all and it was past the 9:00 hour, but I was still having steady contractions. Dr. Sorin came in and let me know we were going to start Petocin and hope for the best. He really didn’t seem to hopeful. The drip started at 2 (out of 10?) and the contractions were completely manageable. At some point the nurse increased it to six and the contractions became over the top painful. What honestly made it fifty times worse was I had to get up regularly to go to the bathroom since that stupid castor oil was working through my system. I’d have to get up with my IV, roll it forward a few feet, have a contraction that crippled me, then get to the door of the bathroom, have another one and finally get to the toilet and have one or two more. Terrible.

Finally I asked for an epidural. At the point I asked, the nurse had checked me and I was at 2cm which on one hand was a hell of a lot better than 0 but was nowhere near 10. So I asked and waited for the relief to come. That 30 minutes was loooong. And they came and put a long crazy needle in my back and I waited and waited for the pain to subside.

They checked me after this and I was at 6cm. So in the span of the hour or so I’d been there I’d gone from 0 to six. The medication gave me the chills and I sat shivering in bed for what felt like ages waiting for relief. Finally it came. I still felt the contractions and was able to participate since there was pressure-related pain.

The baby started to show some troubling heart tones so I was put on oxygen and told to labor on my side so she would have the best blood flow. I also started to run a fever which can be a side effect of the epidural. This part was a little fuzzy since they weren’t spelling out what was potentially wrong with my little one and I was busy with labor but I continued breathing slowly and steadily and the chills stopped.

At some point the contractions changed. I felt a pressure in my nether regions and realized with glee what this meant. I told Sam I thought the baby was about to emerge and she said, “If the baby wants to come out, let her.” So I sat and rested while feeling the urge to push but knowing it wasn’t quite time.

About 45 minutes later, doctor Sorrin arrived saying, “Let’s have a baby.” A team of what felt like a million nurses came in and we got ready to push. When the contraction came, I pushed like hell. I asked Chris to cheer Charlotte on and he did like a champion. He held my hand and kept me encouraged through it all. After only three pushes, her head emerged. Another push got the shoulders out and before we knew it, she was on my chest gaping at the world. She was born at 5:14am, 25 hours and 14 minutes after my water broke. That was the longest day of my life with by far the best reward.

She took to the breast immediately and we quickly established her as a “good eater.” Chris then went with her to be weighed and we politely declined the offer to bathe her since we wanted her first bath to be with us.

Samantha was a life saver for me but more importantly, she kept C sane. He says he couldn’t have done it without her. I completely agree and thank our lucky stars she was the midwife there for my birth. (Note to self: send a card!)

The stay at the hospital was invaluable. The nurses helped me through the rough 24 hour period following delivery and everyone had great advice about breastfeeding and taking care of myself once I got home. I liked all of them and thank them for all they did for Charlotte and myself. Recovery hasn’t been easy and requires almost 24 hour bed rest at this point but we have much to be thankful for so I’ll attempt to take my bed rest gracefully. I’m thinking of reading every Jane Austen novel…

And so here we are a week and a day later. I keep asking myself what I would do if I had the choice next time: natural birth or hospital… and I still don’t know. Luckily we have many, many moons to think about it. More than anything, we are ecstatic that our baby girl is lovely and healthy and I can smile and gaze into her little eyes all day long and wait for the day when she smiles back.

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