The Birth of My Little Big Man

It feels like it has been EONS since I was pregnant and I feel like my memory of all the drama that goes into having a baby has faded a bit, but I’m going to do my best to recollect.

My last 4 weeks of my pregnancy were filled with chiropractor appointments, prenatal massage, induction massage, acupuncture, long walks, Non Stress Tests, OB Checks and membrane Sweeps. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I had vowed not to go crazy with the natural induction methods because of how things went with Charlie (she got stuck in my pelvis). Now, clearly, I wasn’t just sitting back on the couch waiting for things to happen, but I was a little less intense (ie: I did NOT drink castor oil this time… although I was close to doing it).

On Friday, May 27th, I had a Non Stress Test (NST) (maybe my 3rd or 4th?). After my NST, my doc came in and stripped my membranes. For those of you who have not had this lovely procedure done, it’s essentially an excruciating “procedure” where the doc reaches all the way up to the back of your eyeballs, via your lady bits, to attempt to detach your water bags from your uterus using her fingers. Lovely, as you can imagine. The point: induce labor.

Anyway, I definitely felt things moving on Friday… not crazy, I’m in labor moving… but contractions. I went back in on Tuesday afternoon (5/31) for another NST and another lovely sweep. This time, it was probably only about an hour or so until I felt things starting to pick up. It wasn’t crazy levels of contractions, but they were there and consistent. This was probably around 5pm. I went grocery shopping, made dinner… no biggy.

By around 7pm, they were getting more uncomfortable. I had Mark take the lead putting Charlie to bed. This is when things become blurry. Essentially, from this point until around 12:30pm the following day, I STRUGGLED through labor at home. Mark was amazing. I was literally awake and in severe pain all night. Mark brought one of our bar stools into the bedroom for me, lined it with pillows, so I could try to close my eyes and be comfortable between contractions. I was having such back labor that I literally couldn’t lay down. The pain was excruciating.

We called our doula sometime in the morning. Mark’s mom came to take care of Charlie so Mark and I could labor in our bathroom/bedroom. Somewhere around 10, my contractions became super regular… 3 minutes apart, over a minute in length, consistent for 2 hours. My doula came over sometime before noon.

By around 1, we finally left to go to the hospital. I felt like things were close… or at least I had hoped that they were. I remember being SO afraid of being in the car, getting in the car, everything. But, we made it.

The nurse checked me when we got there, although, I asked for her to keep my dilation to herself… I didn’t want to know. Unfortunately, I totally expected (or hoped) that she would say, “ok, it’s time to push”… but she didn’t. Between the total lack of sleep and exhaustion from the previous 15+ hours of laboring at home, I was already feeling defeated. From the minute we got to the hospital, I was talking about the epidural. I just could not get my head in the game. I remember with my labor with Charlotte, I got so deep inside myself. I just couldn’t get there this time.

But, I pushed forward. I went in the shower and labored in the bathroom for another 6 hours. Finally, I asked to be checked. I needed to know where I was because I was losing it. I was crying and just struggling. I was so tired. Feeling like I was falling over when I tried to stand, just totally fading and exhausted from the pain.

When I was checked… after 20 hours… I was at 5 cm.

I melted down and demanded the epidural. I was done.

Let me just tell you one thing about the epidural… GAME. CHANGER. I literally napped… for hours! I had my legs propped up on a ball in every which way and just slept. I was happy and great. Every so often, those pesky contractions would come back and the anesthesiologist would give me another dose. It was great.

Check upon check, no change. They pumped me with pitocin, clocked nice and strong (and consistent) contractions, but no change. I literally hung off the bed in some weird Welchers position, laid on a birthing ball for hours, squated, etc… no change. I stayed at 5 cm, -3 station until my water finally sprung a leak, for 10-15 hours. I labored a bit more after my water broke. Henry had moved down a little bit (not much), but I still had no further change in dilation and my cervix started to swell.

With my last labor experience with Charlotte weighing on all of us, my doc urged us to consider a c-section. Mark and I talked (and cried) and gushed over the details, but ultimately, the decision was easy. It wasn’t worth the risk to Henry. It was time to call it and time to meet our baby.

At 10:30 am on Thursday, June 2nd, we met our little man. 10 lbs, 5 oz and 22.25” long. Born after nearly 42 weeks of pregnancy (original due date: May 20). It should be noted, that Henry came out howling! He was screaming on and off for the duration of the c-section (post birth). Little man was hungry and cold and wanted his mommy.

It’s interesting because the c-section experience was so different and just the whole thing felt so incredibly different. With Charlotte it was intense all the way through. There were no breaks. Just from one high intensity moment to the next, until we finally got her in our room, after she spent 5 hours in the NICU. With Henry, it was calm. I was rested. We had an easy c-section. They put him on me right after they weighed (and wiped) him. I was irked that they cleaned him off, but whatever. The frustrating part is that the anesthetics made me SO incredibly shakey. My whole body. I felt like I was freezing and just couldn’t calm my body down. Ultimately, I had to ask Mark to take Henry from me because I felt so unstable. But regardless, it was wonderful to have our sweet boy in our arms.

And then, just like that, we were four.


The C Word

Throughout my pregnancy, I refused to even say the words “cesarean section” let alone actually consider the possibility of having one. To me, that was just about the furthest thing from what I wanted. As someone who had never been a patient in a hospital before and really, never experienced much worse than a broken finger, I just could not get over the idea of someone cutting me open and stealing my baby out of me. Stealing my childbirth experience. Preventing my baby from receiving the benefits of a natural childbirth. Preventing my baby and I from sharing those first minutes of skin-to-skin time.

With that said, I have to admit, when we were discussing a c-section and finally agreed upon it as the next step, I barely felt an ounce of anxiety surrounding the surgery. My only concern was the skin-to-skin time, which unfortunately, I was told was not a possibility. However, the nurse agreed to bring the baby up to my face so I could kiss her and meet her. So, how did that anxiety magically disappear? I’d say 20 some hours of crazy ass labor and the fact that the contractions and pain were still very much a battle until I received the spinal. The only anxiety I could hold onto was the worry that I would contract as they were putting a needle in my spine.

The plan was for me to go in with a nurse, the anesthesiologist, my doc and maybe a couple others and that once I had the spinal, Mark would be allowed in. He was worried about me. He held onto me and said, “Don’t worry. If you get scared, just look at Sarah. She’ll be in there with you.” Me: “Who’s Sarah?” Mark: “She’s the nurse who has been with us for the past 12 hours…” (as he points at her.)

I literally did not recognize her at all. My eyes had been shut for a solid 15-20 hours. I think MAYBE I opened them 5 times, very briefly, during the entire experience. Sorry, Sarah. (Honestly, I don’t even remember if that was her name??)

Anyway, I survived the spinal and was finally able to relax a little. However, the anesthesia was making me very shakey. It was as if I was freezing. My entire body was quivering uncontrollably. They assured me this was normal. Then, Mark was by my side.

They strapped my arms down to the table so they made a “T” with my body. Thinking back, I’m surprised this didn’t make me uncomfortable. Somehow, I just wasn’t able to think of anything but my baby. This was it. The pain had finally stopped and I was going to meet my girl.

Now, we had skipped the class about C-Sections and I truly didn’t really know what to expect. The doctors started the surgery and everything seemed to be going fine. Then, there was a ton of movement. My whole body was moving and it felt like a lot of pressure and tugging. At one point, the entire table moved, at which point I heard my doctor snap at someone to lock the table down.

Things started to seem as if they weren’t going well. I heard them discussing options. Let’s try to dislodge the head by pushing up from the vagina. (I was so zoned that somehow this didn’t send me into a panic. I just looked at Mark and he seemed calm, so I stayed calm). Somebody step in, I need backup! Let’s try pulling her by her leg!

So much was going on and it felt as if it had been hours.

After what felt like a long while, she was finally out… but there was no crying. I instantly became alarmed. I started asking “everyone” why she wasn’t crying. (Mark informed me that while it felt like I was asking many people, I just kept asking the anesthesiologist who would walk out and back into my view.)

They took Charlotte to a table behind me. I was desperately trying to look over my shoulder to see what was going on, but couldn’t see. I’d look at Mark, he just kept saying everything was okay.

I swear it felt like 20 minutes, but finally, I heard her. Her sweet cry. I was so excited! I kept saying, “she’s crying!” After however many more minutes, they brought her over to us. We kissed her face. It was totally unreal. They said that they had to clean her up and take her to the NICU. I clearly was not fully understanding the severity of the situation, because I asked them to bring her back over before they took her to the NICU. Mark said that they had to take her right to the NICU. We would see her after. Then, he told me that he was going to stay with me instead of going with Charlotte to the nursery as we had planned.

Hello, sweet girl!!

Hello, sweet girl!!

I was still so incapable of actually thinking through things, I agreed and said that he’d go there after. The doctors continued to put me back together for the next hour. Then, finally it was over.

The room looked like a total blood bath. There was this weird hanging organizer that looked like one of those over the door shoe racks. Each clear pocket was filled with what the doctor informed me was bloody gauze. Gross.

I was wheeled back to my room where we were informed that I would have to stay for the next couple hours. Charlotte was in the NICU. I was in my room. I started to freak out. Through tears I begged my doctor to just wheel me over to the NICU so I could be with my baby. It was pretty heartbreaking. Not only were we not able to have our skin-to-skin moment, but I wasn’t even able to be with her. It was so crazy to me. I had experienced nearly 43 weeks of pregnancy; this crazy, intense, unimaginable labor; a VERY intense surgery… and now, I was supposed to just sit in an empty room? Charlotte was born at 5:17 am and at this point, it was around 6:30.

They said they’d come back at 8, but I would need to be able to get up for them to take me there. Of course, I immediately start hitting my legs in attempt to get feeling back.

I sent Mark to the nursery and I stayed with our doula-in-training, Jennisee. It was really helpful to have her there. In the moment, she was driving me nuts because she kept talking about stupid stuff that I had no interest in (aka: it wasn’t about the baby I had just birthed), but in hindsight, it kept me distracted.

Once Marky got settled in the NICU, I was able to FaceTime with my sweet girl. Mark took the iPad and put it in her NICU bassinet and I used my phone. Talk about an Apple commercial waiting to happen.

Talking to my baby.

Talking to my baby. Such a glamour shot.

Welcome to the world, tiny person!

Welcome to the world, tiny person!

Finally by around 8:30, I was cleared to go see her. Yes, just 3.5 hours after major abdominal surgery I was walking. Crazy what a little motivation will do to a person.

We spent the next 1.5 hours in the NICU with our girl. The lactation specialist came by and using a little colostrom that I had pumped while trying to induce labor, I was able to get my sweet little princess to latch (we dripped some colostrom onto my nipple). It only took 15 minutes of trying and from then on, she was a pro. We got our skin-to-skin time. I kissed her face and her fingers and her toes. Everything was so quiet. Just Marky, Charlotte and I. It was what I had been longing for for the past 10+ months.

Finally, we were all together.

Falling in love.

Falling in love.

Thinking about her very tough little day.

Thinking about her very tough little day.

Daddy snuggles in the NICU.

Daddy snuggles in the NICU.

So, it turned out that our sweet girl was stuck in my pelvis. Typically, it takes 30 seconds to deliver a c-section baby. They simply slip a hand/finger under the baby’s head and deliver head first. However, the tiny lady was stuck. They tried everything to get her out and finally were able to dislodge her by pulling her out by her arm. In fact, once delivered, they x-rayed the arm to make sure there was no damage. Thankfully, none.

It took them 6-10 minutes to deliver her (compared to the average 30 seconds). The trauma of the c-section was a lot for Sweet Charlotte. When she was born, the only thing she had was a heartrate of 50. In anticipation that she would not be breathing, they immediately hooked her to oxygen and began the process of resuccitation. It took them 4 minutes to bring back our girl, and once she was back, she was great. They took tests and monitored her in the NICU, and thankfully, everything was perfect. Our girl is a fighter. Later, our doctor would tell us that our surgery was one of the most difficult she’s experienced in many, many years. They did a little extra cutting on me to get her out, but all in all, it was a great success.

By 10 am, they released Charlotte from the NICU and let us take her back to her room. Finally!

Loving my girl.

Loving my girl.

As a whole, our journey was pretty crazy, but when I look back, it somehow still seems beautiful. I was able to experience the craziness of pitocin, the beautiful rhythym of natural/unmedicated labor, and the partnership bond with my amazing husband and my beautiful girl… More importantly, we were staffed with an amazing group of individuals who took care of my baby and me. I wouldn’t change our experience. It is ours and I cherish that.