Charlotte Eden's arrival into this world was both everything and nothing that I expected it to be.
When I was over halfway through my pregnancy, we found out Chuck was going to be deployed for the birth. I had already hired a doula, but I still couldn't imagine giving birth without my main support person there. I immediately hired a birth photographer and set about psyching myself up for a "solo" birth and being a mom to three with my husband on the other side of the world.
The rest of the pregnancy was kind of... weird. Preparing for the deployment and life on my own was the priority and pregnancy became something that was in the back of my brain. When I was pregnant with Jade, I read all the books, the articles, the blogs... everything. With Piper, I figured I remember everything because it was so recent. With Charlotte, I barely had time to think about being pregnant. I prayed for peace of mind and the baby and waited anxiously for his/her arrival, but I never focused and prepared for delivery like I did with the others. I felt guilty about this, but also knew that my body and mind were capable and it's not like I was being lazy, I was simply human and busy.
By 35 weeks I was ready for the kid to get here. Both Jade and Piper arrived at 38 weeks so while I was trying hard not to assume this baby would too... I certainly thought she would. But 38 weeks came. And went. I was having braxton hicks, but nothing like the pre-labor I had with Piper and I began to think I was going to be pregnant forever. When I made it to 39 weeks, I was truly baffled. I know many moms go past their due date, but I had started to think that my body just baked babies faster and that this kid missed the memo.
At my 39 week appt, I was 5 cms dilated and had my midwife sweep my membranes. She told me that generally people went into labor within a couple days of having that done so to be ready. My response? Bring it on. I had been ready for weeks.
That afternoon, I started having random contractions. They felt nothing like the contractions I had when I was in labor with Jade or Piper so I couldn't really decide if they were real or if it was simply cramping from having my membranes swept. We went to Target and to dinner and I was contracting throughout but nothing too serious. They hurt worse than the Braxton Hicks had, but I still wasn't positive I was even in labor- not exactly a problem I expected to have with my third kid. When we got home, I had my mom put the girls in bed and I decided to take a bath, knowing that would slow things down if I wasn't in labor. I called my midwife before I got in and told her I wasn't really sure what was going on but that I might be in labor and I would let her know what was going on after I got out of the tub. And she told me she was at a birth 3 hours away. Uh. Not what I wanted to hear. She called her backup midwife and let me know that she could be there in about half an hour and just to let her know when I wanted to make that call. So I climbed into the tub, both hoping I was and was not in labor.
The contractions continued while I was in the tub and after I got out, so I called Dawn back and let her know. She told me Yvonne (her backup) and Taryn (assistant) would be on their way soon. Then I called my doula. No answer. And the birth photographer. No answer. Um. Backup midwife, no husband, no doula? Not my plan. I told my parents that I was definitely in labor and to start filling up the tub. They were great and pitched in immediately. And then I remembered that I had a tub liner (borrowed tub). So they had to empty the tub pot by pot. Oops.
While they were doing this, I went to my bedroom and called Chuck. He was super groggy (it was 5 am his time) but it was so good to hear his voice and he seemed happy to finally be getting "the call". I told him that I felt alone and he said "well, yeah, I think that's understandable with everything going on". We talked for a while and then I told him that I needed to go. He said he wouldn't go back to sleep and to let him know when I was ready to FaceTime. I came back into the family room and shortly after, Taryn and Yvonne got here. Yvonne apologized about 30 times in the first 5 minutes she was here that she wasn't Dawn. I kept assuring her it was ok and then I just kind of zoned out for a bit. Taryn gave me my antibiotic shot for Group B strep and they told me they would get ahold of Heather (Doula) and I talked to Tavia (Photographer) during this time.
I turned on Gilmore Girls and sat on the exercise ball and watched TV for a while. I still wasn't in active labor and I was starting to freak out that I had called everyone too soon and they were gonna be at my house for 3 days. I knew that when active labor kicked in, I would move pretty quickly, but I was beginning to lose faith active labor was ever gonna come. Sometime during my second episode of Gilmore, Heather got here looking very sheepish and apologetic for not answering the phone. She turned the lights off in the family room and we chatted a little bit. I told her I was starting to feel like the stupid first time mom that shows up at the hospital at 2 cms and she assured me that wasn't the case and things had probably stalled because nothing was going as planned.
When the second episode ended, I got up to go to the bathroom and realized my calves were killing me from the way I had been sitting on the ball. I told Heather I definitely needed to change positions and she suggested that I call Chuck. So I went into the bedroom and closed the door and called him on the iPad. We talked for about 15-20 minutes I think and I just told him I was so frustrated and I was never gonna have the baby and everyone was gonna be there for 3 days and they were all gonna hate me and blah blah blah. You might say I was feeling a bit emotional ;) He assured me that they all chose the profession they were in and they were there for me and no one hated me and I was going to have the baby soon. While we were talking, I realized my contractions were coming much more frequently and I was having to stop to breathe through them. I didn't wanna jinx myself, so I didn't say anything but when I came back out to the kitchen, Taryn obviously noticed a difference and told me she was gonna call Tavia to come on over. I was thrilled because apparently things were actually going to progress forward. Heather informed me that it was the oxytocin from talking to Chuck.
At that point I kind of just walked around the kitchen talking to everyone and stopped and leaned on the island for the contractions. Chuck had gotten in the shower when we got off the iPad and he called back at some point. Or I called him. I truly don't remember. Either way, this is when everything really got started. Things were getting pretty intense and I decided to get in the tub. It took about 10 minutes to get the iPad set up where Chuck could see me. I think we wound up using a kitchen chair, one of the girl's booster seats, Yvonne's iPad case and a couple DVDs to get it to the right level where he could see me. Tavia got there sometime after I got in the tub and started snapping pictures.
This is where I lose all concept of time. I would guess I was in the tub for about an hour. The contractions were intense but the water really does an amazing job of taking the edge off. At some point, I started thinking that I probably needed to get out and change positions. I decided to ignore that urge because I knew it would hurt to get out. Unfortunately (ok, not really, but ya know), Yvonne has done this before and suggested a change of position. She told me I didn't have to get out but that if I stayed where I was, baby was gonna stay where they were.
I had been squatting for an hour and when I tried to move my legs completely gave out. I became all sorts of whiny and told them I couldn't move because my legs were shot. So they grabbed a rebozo, wrapped it around me and hauled me into another position like I was a whale. I had a couple contractions like that and I think we all kind of knew at that point that I needed to get out. So then they really picked me up like I was a whale because there was no freaking way I was gonna get out by myself. Yvonne mentioned that it had been a while since I went to the bathroom and I needed to try to empty my bladder.
I made it from the tub (which was in my kitchen) to my bedroom before another contraction hit. I leaned on the side of the changing table and realized I was actually having an urge to push with contractions. I think I was in the tub but this is the first one that I was like "ok, it's definitely there". After the contraction ended, Yvonne said, "ok, go sit on the toilet". When I was in labor with Jade I sat on the toilet for a good 10 minutes needing to pee and not being able to, so when she suggested sitting backwards I thought "huh, ok, maybe that'll work". Of course, it was also incredibly painful. But I was also actually able to go and then I had a contraction on the toilet which made me feel like punching the wall. The second it ended, they helped me get up and I shuffled my way back into my bedroom. They asked if I wanted to get on the bed and I think I kind of laughed and said no. I leaned on the side of the bed and they scrambled to put towels and stuff underneath me to protect the floor.
Someone set Chuck up on the bed so that he could see me and I could see him. I remember crying a few times that I needed him and really didn't want to start pushing because I hate pushing and he reminded me that if I didn't push I wasn't gonna get a baby so I should probably change my stance on that. At some point during all this, I looked over and noticed mom had slipped into the room. Apparently I was being loud and had woken her up. Go figure ;) I quickly re-focused on what I was doing and kind of forgot anyone was there other than Chuck. Everyone else was talking to me and encouraging me, but all of their voices kind of became one and I really just focused on him.
I feel like I pushed forever, but I'm pretty sure it was about 20 minutes. My water still hadn't broken and I remember everyone talking about how I might have a baby born in the caul. I said "hey, I've always thought that was super cool" and they said "you might get it!" then on the next contraction my water broke everywhere. Dang. The feeling of my water breaking was TONS of pressure and I had so been hoping it was the baby so when instead I just got a loud POP and water going everywhere I was a bit upset.
One or two contractions later, the baby was crowning. They kept telling me to pant and not to push and I was like "I can't!" I knew I was probably going to tear but I truly felt like this baby was gonna keep coming down whether or not I was actively pushing or not. SO different from Piper who hung out in the birth canal forEVER.
After the baby crowned, it took two more pushes to get the rest of the body out. I was so excited to reach down and pull her up but apparently my body produces really short umbilical cords so I was all hunched over trying to hold a baby at my stomach. Because the cord was so short and thick, I couldn't tell if it was a boy or a girl and couldn't hold her up to show Chuck. Apparently the midwife spilled the beans pretty quickly but I was kind of out of it and didn't notice. We didn't want to cut the cord until it quit pulsing and it felt like it pulsed FOREVER just because I was in such an awkward position and really wanted to be able to really look at and hold my baby.
Finally, the cord quit pulsing and my mom cut it. Then I could hold my baby up and I told Chuck that she was another girl! I was surprised- since she had baked so much longer than my girls had, I had started to assume it was a little boy.
After that, things are kind of a blur. Charlie was screaming her head off for a while, I tried to go to the bathroom again, took a very quick shower, we discovered Charlie liked being swaddled and tried to start nursing. She wasn't a big fan to begin with but has improved since then so I won't complain. Everyone chipped in and cleaned up and Charlie and I snuggled for a while until the big girls woke up and came in to meet their big sister. All in all, it was the perfect birth and if I happen to have another kid, I will definitely have a home birth again. And maybe Chuck can actually be there!
She was 8 lbs 9 ozs and 20 inches long.
One day last week, this was my facebook status:
I really do try not to complain much on here. I am blessed and I know it. But this morning, friends, I could use some prayers. I feel overwhelmed, ill-equipped and exhausted.
Honestly? Lately, that's how I've felt most days. Short on patience. Feeling like a failure. Guilty. Overwhelmed. The list goes on.
I really don't know when it all started. What I do know is that when I started to recognize it, instead of hitting it head on like I needed to, I hid. Hid from myself. Hid my problems from my friends.
When I needed to write the most, I went quiet. Avoided my quiet time. Started dealing with jealousy. And pride. And just went downhill.
I'm not "better" right now. But I'm done avoiding. Done acting like I'm ok when I'm not. Done feeling guilty for parts of myself I have no control over. Done thinking that my kids would be better off with someone else. Done acting defeated instead of fighting back.
I'm not an idiot, I know this isn't the last time I'll deal with this. It seems to be something I'm gonna be dealing with for a long time. But I can make more of an effort to take care of myself and not curl into a ball the second I start to feel depressed again. I can stop relying on myself for things I was never intended to do, and instead rely on the One who loves to carry me through these times.
And this is simply me putting this out there so I can't go back on my word immediately...