Where do I even begin…
Before I even went into labor I imagined writing Charley’s birth story. All these weeks of pregnancy leading up to the delivery of my precious baby girl. I ‘stressed’ about how I wouldn’t be able to be the photographer, and I even looked into hiring someone. As it turned out, I was blessed with not one, but two photographers…in the forms of my good friend and neighbor and one awesome labor and delivery nurse who stayed over an hour past when her shift ended. Blessed is an understatement.
It all started the Thursday before Charley was born…
I was getting antsy because I didn’t have another appointment with Jan until the following Thursday. Charley was making this weird fluttering movement which deep down I knew was normal, but I really just wanted to be seen by someone. So I pulled the ‘frantic mama card’, and pretty much made them fit me in the schedule that day. Jan wasn’t there, so I saw a new doctor…Dr. Garcia. As soon as he walked in I liked him. I was greeted with a, “Good news…you’re pregnant!” Everything checked out fine, and he assured me that all was well…although I already knew that was the case. This was not just a routine visit, though. I am almost certain it was Dr. Garcia’s cervical check that sent me into labor because not an hour later I experienced my first ‘painful’ contraction.
I arrived home and saw Charley’s tree.
I continued to feel contractions every now and then…and an hour later I looked outside.
I knew I was in labor. I always said that Charley would be born once her tree bloomed.
The next 24 hours were spent timing contractions and embracing the excitement of knowing that ‘this was it’. My parents loaded up the car from Tennessee, and Andy’s mom started her journey from Ohio. It was surreal, but I was calm. Once my parents arrived we walked around the neighborhood, and I baked mini blueberry muffins for the nurses I would meet later on…some last minute nesting.
I remember asking Jan a couple weeks ago how I would ‘know’ it was time to go to the hospital. It’s crazy how right she was. She said that it doesn’t matter what part of the world you are from…there will be a time when you notice you can’t walk or talk through your contractions. I hit that point around 7:30pm on Friday. Armed with a newly downloaded contraction timer app on her new ipad, my mom helped me time my pressure waves as I tried to find new positions to breathe through them…Mulan playing on the tv in the background. I was doing it. With every contraction I focused on my Mamaw…
…and her voice saying, “you did just great”.
*side story*–When I was learning to potty train, Mamaw would help keep me. Apparently I was being stubborn, and she wanted to show me how ‘Mamaw could use the potty’. Once she was finished she said I walked over to her, patted her shoulder and said, “You did just great, Mamaw”. She had told that story to me so many times, and for some reason it was that phrase that almost put a smile on face during my contractions.
Around 11:30 we made the decision it was time to head to the hospital. I prayed that I wouldn’t get there and be told I was 1cm dilated or something crazy like that, so it was music to my ears to find that I was 5cm and 100% effaced. Two hours later I was at 6cm. This is where time becomes a blur…because for the next 10 hours I remained at 6. With every contraction I closed my eyes and breathed…focusing on my Mamaw and giving all the pain to Jesus.
Between contractions we still had some fun.
And yet…we still waited…
…except now my anticipation had started to be replaced with frustration. I was still breathing through my contractions, but I wasn’t making any progress. I had already gone through a shift of midwives and nurses, and I was still no further along. To my surprise, I found out that the new on call doctor was none other than Dr. Garcia…a blessing that I would come to realize later on. I had always said that no matter how much I wanted a natural childbirth I would keep an open mind and listen to my body as well as the advice of my doctor/midwife. Dr. Garcia explained that at the rate I was going I could be at 6cm the next day and that an epidural could allow my cervix to relax and dilate more, but that he would support any decision I made. I seriously love this man.
One of the main reasons I didn’t want an epidural was I didn’t want to stall my progress…and as Dr. Garcia pointed out, “you can’t stall out from a stop”…which is where I was. So after some talking with Andy and my mom, we all three decided that the 10 hours of no progress was my body’s way of saying it needed some help. As it turns out, I only got about three hours of relief from it. After getting a little rest I was checked again two hours later only to find out I was still at 6cm. At this point the epidural had quit working, and because of the pitocin I was on, I had begun hyper-contracting, with contractions less than a minute apart. Dr. Garcia checked me and made the discovery that Charley was in a type of transverse position. Rather than being face down, her face and shoulders were sideways, preventing me from dilating anymore. This is where I found out what a true blessing it was that Dr. Garcia was the doctor on call that day. Where most doctors would have prepped an OR for me to get a c-section, Dr. Garcia attemped to internally rotate Charley’s head…while still at 6cm. If you’re thinking, “ouch, that must have been pretty painful”…you’re right, but it worked…sort of. He was able to move her head to ‘sunny-side up’. Not ideal, but much better than the position she was in. It was at this point my body began to break down. Between the lack of sleep, the pitocin induced hyper-contractions, and the frustration of not making any progress for 12 hours, my body began to shake uncontrollably. With the help of my God-sent labor and delivery nurse, Amber,and my mom, I was able to sit still enough to get a second epidural.
Not soon after that, I was at 10 cm.
I didn’t realize at the time, but apparently my 2nd epirdural had been turned off. I just figured it wasn’t working again. Either way, I without a doubt was able to feel everything…which is how I originally wanted it. Everything really does happen for a reason.
And poor Andy. As soon as they said it was time to start pushing he about went down for the count.
These pictures break my heart, but 10 minutes later Andy was beside me, strong as ever…coaching me. He was a rock.
Let me just say that trying to push a sunny-side up baby out with no pain medication is no piece of cake.
It was then that Dr. Garcia and the nursing staff got to meet my ultimate stubborn side. My body could not get a grip, and I flat out told them I wasn’t pushing. I knew that my body would push on it’s own, and my concentration had gone out the window. The back of Charley’s head was pressing down on my tail bone so that even when I wasn’t having a contraction, all I could feel was unbelievable pressure and pain. Dr. Garcia then internally rotated Charley again into the correct ‘face down’ position…again, not the most pleasant experience, but once he rotated her I got my ass in gear and was able to focus. I’m telling you…this man is a miracle worker. Not only did he prevent me from having a c-section, but he became another cheerleader in the room.
Looking back at the whole delivery, we laugh like it’s a memory from a vaction. Despite all the chaos the atmosphere was still incredibly positive and fun.
You know how they say modesty goes out the window when you give birth? Totally true, although I didn’t have much modesty going in. At some point during pushing, I said, “I need to be naked!”
Not only did I need to be naked, but I needed to be cooled down. One of my nurses, Valerie, was feeding me ice chips and giving me cold washcloths to put on my forehead and on my stomach and breasts. I finally just said, “pour the ice on me”.
Valerie later told me that in all her 11 years of nursing she has never been asked to pour ice water on a patient. At least I’m unique.
For the next hour I pushed. It really is amazing what the human body is capable of. Amber would tell me when to take a deep breath and push…but I was in a zone. It was like my body was involuntarily pushing Charley out.
I wouldn’t have been able to not push if I had tried at this point.
Once I saw Dr. Garcia ‘suiting up’, I knew Charley was about to make her grand entrance.
At one point when I was pushing, and Charley’s head was crowning, Dr. Garcia got paged to triage. He threw a towel over her head and said, “don’t push” and then left the room. I’m pretty sure this picture was taken after he said that.
I’ve heard how it’s pretty much impossible to tell a woman to stop pushing. I can personally attest to that because while Dr. Garcia was gone the towel that was covering Charley’s head began to move. She was coming out no matter what, and soon after, Dr. Garcia arrived.
This was it.
I was about to meet my baby girl.
And with a couple more pushes…
She was here.
My emotions flooded.
I couldn’t believe that this pink little thing was what had been inside me for 9 months.
It’s true what they say. It’s the quickest pain you will forget.
And just like that…I was hooked.
I was absolutely in love with this little girl.
8 lbs of squishy baby wonderfulness.
So many things were laid into place for this birth to happen the way it did. I stressed and stressed for weeks about how I wanted Jan to deliver Charley…and while I still would have loved for her to be there, I know Dr. Garcia was meant to be the one.
I feel like I need to hand out thank you cards for the wonderful people that played a role in making my difficult delivery, one of the most joyous occasions of my life.
To my mom:
Thank you for being my coach…for helping me believe that I can do anything I set my mind to…and for supporting me and the decisions I made. You stood by me through every contraction, and stood strong when I had my break down. I love you so much, and I’m so glad you are staying with us.
Thank you for sticking with me through your entire shift…and beyond. Your fun attitude and sense of humor helped me so much, and I am so thankful to have had you as my nurse. I am even more thankful to have gained you as a friend.
Thank you for being you…for bringing humor and spunk into the delivery room, and for taking pictures of Charley’s birth (even though you had a momentary freak out once Charley was born and Amber had to take over). These are pictures we will treasure forever. And also, thank you for the post delivery cupcake.
To my mother in law:
Thank you for making the trip from Ohio to witness Charley’s birth. It would have felt like something was missing if you weren’t there. I’m so glad everything fell into place, and you were able to witness your son become a daddy.
Thank you for catering to my crazy demands…like pouring ice water on me during delivery, and spot checking Charley’s heart rate because I ‘needed’ the fetal moniter off my belly. You’re sweet personality was so soothing.
Although you weren’t there when Charley was born, you helped so much in the days following when we had to make the difficult decision to let Bela pass on to a more peaceful place.
You were right there with her when she passed on and told her she was a ‘good dog’. I know that must have been heart wrenching, but I know Bela was so glad to have someone she loved with her for her last moments.
To my dad:
Thank you so much for just being you…for vacuuming our entire house after Charley was born, for helping with Bela while we were gone, for getting my first meal after giving birth, I could go on and on. I love seeing you with Charley. Watching the two of you interact is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.
To Dr. Garcia:
Words cannot express how thankful I am to have had you as my doctor. Thank you so much for supporting my desires to go natural and for letting me try for 10 hours to get past 6cm on my own. Thank you for trying everything possible to avoid a c-section. Thank you for bringing a sense of humor into the delivery room, and thank you for cheering me on during the final hours. Any woman would be lucky to have you deliver their baby.
And last, but certainly not least…
To my husband, Andy:
You thought you wouldn’t be able to handle childbirth. You always said you wouldn’t be in the room when Charley was born…but you proved yourself wrong. Even though you had a few shakey times…
…you ended up being a rock. You stood by my side and cheered me on. You called me your hero, when in fact, you are mine.
I never thought I could love you more than I already did, but seeing you with Charley makes my heart explode.
So there it is…
The story of my daughter’s birth. It didn’t go as I had ‘planned’, but it went exactly as God had planned. The experience has left me feeling stonger and more empowered than I ever thought possible.
And look what I got out of it.
I’m so in love with her…it makes the 36 hour labor seem like 5 minutes. I mean…look at that face.
And look at what Charley’s tree looked like when we came home.
I almost forgot.
Thank you, Charley…
…for making me a mama.