Charlotte’s Big Day

Monday, February 11, 2013

Doesn’t that sound like the name of a children’s book?  Don’t you think Charlotte is the sweetest name ever?  Yeah, me too.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two weeks since baby girl made her big arrival!  Every second of that day is still crystal clear in my mind—apparently no amount of sleeplessness drowns out that memory.  But that may not always be the case… So here goes.

{Warning: This is a long, TMI post…}

Last we talked, I’d just packed my hospital bag and visited the doctor for my 39 week appointment.  That afternoon, I was 2 cm dilated and 80-90% effaced but the doc really didn’t make us feel like her arrival was imminent and I didn’t feel any different than I had in the previous weeks.  I’d just been at the gym the day before!  We scheduled an induction, just in case, for February 5th.

We had someone come clean the house top to bottom that morning, I’d just gotten a pedicure a few days prior, and I’d finally packed my bag, so Charlotte must have sensed we were ready!  Tyler and I stayed up later than usual that night painting a monogram for her room while watching Matt Damon kidnap Jimmy Kimmel on TV.  We got in bed around 12:30 but I never really fell asleep…

I’d been having Braxton Hicks all week and thought I was feeling them that night.  I was uncomfortable enough that I couldn’t really fall asleep but Tyler was also sick and coughing a lot, so I figured that’s why.  Around 4am, we both gave up sleeping and turned on the TV.  Tyler was thinking my contractions were the real thing, but I still wasn’t convinced—they weren’t getting any stronger or increasing in frequency.  I took a shower hoping I would feel better, but unlike previous times, the hot water did nothing to change how I was feeling.

Tyler convinced me to call the hospital around 5am.  I spoke with the doctor on call and explained to her my symptoms, still feeling silly for calling.  Despite that, the doctor told us to come to the hospital in the next two to three hours.

Holy. crap.

I dried my hair and got dressed.  Tyler packed his bag.  I emailed my co-worker to let her know I wouldn’t be at work that morning {despite me promising her at 8pm, I’d be there for my last day!}.  I tried to eat some yogurt and applesauce, knowing I wouldn’t be allowed anything once we were at the hospital {word to the wise—eat more than that if you think you’re in labor!}.  Despite the flurry of activity, I couldn’t cognitively wrap my brain around what was happening.  In the hour after we called the hospital, my contractions definitely worsened and became more uncomfortable and I found myself feeling very grateful Tyler had made me call.

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We left the house around 6:30am on January 25th.  It was dark and very cold outside.  And I was exhausted.  I’d been awake for almost 24 hours and the idea of a long day of labor ahead of me sounded miserable.  The contractions were uncomfortable but tolerable, and I went into the hospital very quiet and feeling a little stoic.  I started to cry as we walked through the doors of the maternity floor at Virginia Hospital Center, but quickly checked myself.  I continuously reminded myself that I had a long day ahead of me and I needed to keep it together.  I literally could not focus on what was happening at the end of this day or I would have had an emotional breakdown… It was just too much.

As we checked in, Tyler and I both felt like no one was taking us seriously {In retrospect, they were probably just doing their job…couples in labor walk in constantly. NBD.}.  We were put in a triage room—less intense than it sounds, it was just a private, bare bones hospital room—and waited for the doctor on call.  I think since I was so quiet, no one expected me to have progressed much.  They said they would examine me but we’d likely have to walk the hospital for awhile.  I was quickly admitted once they found I was already 5cm dilated though! {“You hide that really well!”}  Everyone immediately started to react—I was given an IV and hooked up to fetal monitoring while we waited for a labor & delivery room to be prepared for us. It was a busy morning, four babies were born since midnight.  I was still having difficulty processing that this was really happening.  There’s just no way to prepare for d-day.

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We were in our delivery room by 8:30 or 9 and met our wonderful nurse Marnie, who took great care of us.  My doctor also poked her head around then—she was on call that day and I was so glad she would be there to deliver me! I was still SO tired and relieved to be settled into bed.  I was also starving but limited to clear liquids so I drank as much apple juice and Sprite as I could {Marnie could not deny that chardonnay fell into this category but still denied me…}.  Contractions remained uncomfortable—they were getting worse but not coming more often.

090{Both of my doctors were actually on call that day!  Dr. P {left} popped in just to say hi.  Dr. C {right} is who delivered me.}

Around 11am, my doctor came in again to examine me.  I was already 7 cm and they recommended getting an epidural now, before they broke my water, if I was going to get one.  I was slightly conflicted because I wasn’t on the brink of a breakdown and so far everything had been easier than expected.  But I decided I had nothing to prove and I really had no interest in experimenting with these more intense and frequent contractions.  So I took the epidural.

Best decision ever.

It wasn’t just the relief from the contractions.  I was immediately relaxed.  I wasn’t freezing anymore.  I was in a better mood and chattier with everyone around me.  I didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom every five minutes!! And most importantly, I was able to take a nap! {At this stage in the game, my nurse predicted I’d be pushing around 7pm, so I was still pacing myself…}

The next few hours were blissfully uneventful.  I may as well have been at the Ritz, I was so comfortable.  I slept, watched TV, and longingly watched Tyler eat lunch.027

At 2:00, Doc was back and announced I was between 9 and 10 cm and we were ready to push.

WHA???

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I reached for my PCA pump to up my epidural but everyone said not to—the more I could feel, the better I’d be at pushing. Great.  Around this time, the snow started to fall, which I thought was fitting.

“This girl is going to love snow, just like her mom…”

At 2:10, I started pushing.  And let me tell you something about pushing.  There is NO modesty in pushing.  There is no Tyler-standing-at-the-head-of-the-bed.  There is no sheet draped over your legs.

imageTHIS is all I kept thinking about… {Hahaha}

And regardless of the epidural, you feel pushing.  There is no amount of numbing that blocks the pressure and intensity of birthing a kid.  It was not fun.  But my coaches—the nurse, the doctor, and Tyler were amazing—they made me feel like every push was the best push ever pushed in the history of pushing.  This was the part of labor that was everything depicted in the movies.  Groaning, pushing, convinced I was going to die of an aneurysm if I pushed any harder. 

In between contractions, everyone would chat about football until I meekly announced another was coming.  After about five sets of pushes, it was suddenly clear this baby was about to come because the doctor was like, “Whoa! This baby is about to come!”  Everyone sprang into action, starting breaking down my bed, and getting the baby equipment ready.

And just as they predicted, at 2:37 pm, the next set of pushes welcomed our baby girl into the world.  I couldn’t see what was happening {by choice}, but I could hear the wonder in Tyler’s voice as he said, “Oh babe. There she is!”  I’ve never heard him say anything or react in such a way.  True wonderment is the only way to describe his voice.  It was so sweet.

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Charlotte was immediately given to me and Tyler dutifully cut the umbilical cord {which the doctor commented was unusually short}. 

Everyone asks what it’s like when you hold your child for the first time.  To be honest, it was different than I expected.  There was no outpouring of emotion, no sobbing—I only teared up a little bit.  The whole experience was so overwhelming, both emotionally and physically, and there’s so much that happens immediately after they’re born, I just couldn’t process it all.  Cognitively, it was difficult to even comprehend that this little baby was the baby that I’d felt kicking from within for so many months. This was my daughter. {Our bonding came later in the middle of the night, when I was the only one who could get her to stop crying… And it finally sunk in that this baby was not a stranger. She really knew me.}

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I didn’t hold her for long before the nurses took her from me to clean her up and examine her.  She wasn’t crying like they expected and was having trouble clearing fluid from her lungs and nose.  They continued to reassure me she was okay and her APGAR scores were high, but they continued to make calls for assistance from a pediatric nurse and use special suctioning to try and clear the fluid. They eventually sorted it out and I fully assure you—the kid can cry.

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The next two days in the hospital were a whirlwind of poking and prodding to both me and Charlotte, consults with pediatricians and lactation nurses, paperwork, frustrating nursing sessions, a few visitors, a post-partum massage, and a way-too-soon overwhelmed mom experience {think a screaming baby, mom trying to go to the bathroom {no quick or easy feat one day post-labor}, a failing hospital gown, housekeeping walking in and NOT getting the cue to LEAVE and telling me in Spanish I need to feed my baby… {Tyler was driving my mom back to our house for the night, for those wondering}}.

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By Sunday afternoon, we thought we were ready to head to the comfort of our own home.  After passing her hearing test and getting her blood drawn to check her bilirubin level, we were finally discharged!  You think you want to go home, but you really don’t because you don’t realize, even psychologically, how much you rely on the nurses.  Once home, there is no one bringing you your baby in the middle of the night, there is no nursery, there is no one helping you with feeding.  And that baby will cry whenever she wants! {That said, my mom was a champ that first week about taking Charlotte at 3am when she was crying and we just needed a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.}

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But we’re doing it!  My mom waited for us at home, having adorned our front walk with pink ribbons, a beautiful “welcome home” banner in the front hallway, and a wreath on the front door.  Our neighbors came out and met us and peeked into her carseat and brought us flowers.  We are settling in nicely as a family of three, living on new baby adrenaline, little sleep, and home cooked meals lovingly brought to us from family, friends, and our church. 

We are so, so, so blessed by our love for Charlotte and the love others have shown to us. Thank you, Lord.

{Next up: Charlotte’s First Week}

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