Monday, November 21, 2011

The Birth Story

Since I'm really bad at actually keeping a separate journal other than this blog, I figured it would be smart to write down the events of Charlie's birth so I don't forget!

Also, I'm a bit specific with some details and there's one picture of Charlie fresh out of the womb, so just warning you if you're a bit squeamish. :)

The weekend before he was born, I noticed I would have very mild, very spaced out and sporadic contractions... mostly when walking or standing for any extended period of time. At my 39 week doctor's appointment, I was dilated to about a 1.5, which wasn't saying much (but it was more than the week before when I was "almost a 1").

Perhaps it's the cynic in me, but I was fully prepared to be pregnant for 41 weeks and get induced sometime during the first couple days of November. With my history of needing help getting pregnant, I figured my body wouldn't go into labor on its own either. Well, luckily, I was wrong. ;)

Monday night the 24th of October, my mom and T and I sat down to eat dinner around 7pm and I realized I was having those same contractions I had been having on occasion throughout the weekend, but this time they were coming consistently every 6-10 minutes. I still didn't think anything of it, though, because they weren't too painful. They just made my belly feel pretty tight.

As the night progressed, they didn't stop and they started coming a little closer together (4-5 mins) and they slowly became more sensational. At about 10pm, curious as to whether this might be the real thing, I called the after-hours line and left a message for the doctor on call to call me back. He called back around 10:30pm and said that the contractions would have to get much more painful and closer together before I could consider it to be "the real thing".

So, I waited. At about 11pm, I decided it might be a good idea to try to go to bed and sleep. If it was false labor, then sleeping would help the contractions subside. Laying down caused the contractions to come every 15 minutes, but when they did come, they had become quite painful. Every time I was about to drift off to sleep, a new contraction would come and wake me up. At about midnight I realized that sleep was not going to be an option, so I might as well watch TV and time my contractions.

And they got closer. And more painful. I kept telling myself "okay... just get to 1am, 2am, 3am...". Each time a contraction would come I would close my eyes, and breathe deeply about 10-15 breaths and by then it would be gone. The pain was usually the worst around breaths 6-8. Once it was 3am, I decided to rinse off in the shower to pass the time and help with the pain. It was so nice!! And I even took the chance to shave my legs ;)

At 3:30am, once I had dried off and gotten dressed again, I decided to wake T up. I wanted to wait as long as possible before going to the hospital because I did NOT want to be sent home. But those contractions were hurting! So, I quietly nudged him and told him he needed to wake up. He sleepily replied "Mmm... I'm sleeping". Haha. I said "I know, honey, but you need to get up. I think we should go to the hospital". So, he eventually got up, and we finished packing our hospital bag (yes, I procrastinated doing this task... oops).

We pulled into the hospital at about 4am and I was in a room getting checked for dilation by 4:15am. I was only dilated to a 2.5!! A 2.5!?!? All of that pain and work for not much reward, it seemed. So, I had one hour to dilate at least a centimeter or else they would send me home. In fact, when we were checking in at the Labor & Delivery desk, T asked the nurse what percentage of first-time parents were sent home because it wasn't time yet and she said 90%!! Geez, thanks for making me feel optimistic here (as I'm breathing through a contraction with my head and arms resting on the desk). I resolved to be one of the 10% that got to stay :). But when I heard I was only at a 2.5, I felt a bit discouraged.

But anyway, I had the "opportunity" of laying there and contracting every 2-3 minutes for the next hour and a half. Near the end, I stood up to intensify the contractions and hopefully help myself dilate a little more. That was probably the most pain I felt during the entire process. Fortunately I had my husband to hold on to every time they came. At about 5:45am the nurse came back and checked me again. I held my breath and waited to hear the news. I was at a 3.5!! It was a miracle. No, but really, I'm sure it was a blessing from God. I felt a giant wave of relief when she said that meant I got to STAY! I was going to have my baby! And most likely on his due date, too!! :)

From that point, everything got a bit easier. I opted to get my epidural as soon as possible (especially since I hadn't slept all night), so I started feeling less pain after receiving the drugs at about 7am. Then I got to SLEEP. Ahh it was just wonderful. Thank heavens for epidurals. Although the whole "I can't feel or move my legs" thing was a little unnerving. I couldn't help but feel sympathy for paraplegics.

Playing the waiting game after getting my epidural:

The doctor came by and broke my water at about 12 noon (I think I was dilated to about a 5 by this point - slow progress!). But after that, things sped up quite a bit. My mom and T went to lunch around 2pm. I asked them if they had their phones on them, just in case I was suddenly at 10 and ready to push (joking, of course). My nurse, Julia, came to check me while they were gone and I was actually dilated to an 8 and the baby was at 0 station (aka moving down...)! I texted my mom and T and they were actually really surprised, and decided to eat their lunch a little quicker ;)

By 3:30pm, I had entered transition and was almost fully dilated to a 10. They informed me that I'd probably start pushing around 4pm. I was definitely freaking out... and totally not sure if I could do it! I mean, I HAD to do it, but I was soo nervous. This was IT!

So, with my mom helping hold one leg and T helping with the other, I started pushing. 3 sets of 10-count pushes with each contraction. And my contractions were coming VERY close together. Probably every 1-2 minutes at most, which made the whole process extremely tiring. And I was starving (hadn't eaten anything since 7 the night before!). Oh the humanity. Luckily they gave me oxygen to breathe between contractions so I didn't pass out :) During the first hour of pushing, I made quite a bit of progress and the doctor came in to help finish the delivery. Then, the next 30 minutes or so weren't so productive. My little man was "stuck" near my pelvic bone. Every time I'd push him forward, he'd just slip right back and wasn't making any progress.

Dr. Broberg suggested using the forceps. I was so exhausted from pushing, I thought that sounded like a fantastic idea ;). By this point, my epidural had worn off just enough that I could tell when I was having contractions (without having to rely on the computer screen). And if I didn't push through a contraction, it was rather painful. I think it's neat that the pain goes away when you push. It's like nature's way of making you get that baby out! But anyway, since I could feel more, it was pretty darn uncomfortable when he put the forceps in, but it was really neat when I could actually FEEL my little man move past that pelvic bone during the next push, when the doctor was pulling. Great! He's farther. We (me, T, and my mom) all assumed that I'd still need to push for another 15-30 minutes before he'd come out.

But, to our surprise, out came his sweet little head during the NEXT push! I remember my mom saying "Alex - look! There's his head!" and, not really believing what I heard, I said "What?". She repeated "Look! His head is out!". By the time I looked down, Dr. Broberg had finished helping little man's shoulders through and Charlie was officially born!

That moment - 5:48pm on October 25th - the moment I saw him arrive - was one of the most unforgettable moments of my life. It was the BIGGEST relief I have ever felt. I remember just letting my head fall back against my pillow, hands on my face, and overcome with tears of joy and relief. I DID IT! And when I finally heard that little cry for the first time... it was just insane. Surreal. And it was worth every single stitch and ounce of recovery pain that I would feel for the next couple of weeks.

I can't remember how long it took for them to clean him up, do his APGAR tests, and finally let me hold him. Probably 20-30 minutes or so, but that was okay. I was excited that T was getting to enjoy him and revel in his first moments of Daddy glory. And my mom was the real-life paparazzi taking tons of pictures and video. Thank goodness she did, though, to document everything!

He has strong lungs:
7 lbs 9 oz:
Dad getting to enjoy:

And then I got to hold him, skin-to-skin, for the first time. My sweet little Charlie (although he didn't actually have a name until the next day). It was love at first sight.

And, after a very rough first week and a half, it's gotten better every single day. My little Charlie will be 4 weeks old tomorrow, and officially a month old this coming Friday!! <3


  1. yay! So glad he's here and healthy! Hope recovery continues to go well. hang in there.

  2. I'll admit it, I actually cried when I read this. So proud of you, big sister!

  3. What an awesome story! Birth stories never seem to go as planned. But how awesome is it that he was born on his due date! I don't think i know anyone else who has had that happen. Congrats. It only gets better. :)

  4. that first week and a half sucks! but you are definitely right: it gets better every day!!

  5. I love reading birth stories! It's just such an amazing thing when little babies are born, and I am glad everything went well for you. Enjoy your little guy, because they grow SO fast. Congrats!

  6. That was an amazing story! Made me cry :) I love to read these birth stories, it means more (and I understand more) after going thru it. I use my blog as a journal too. Charlie is perfect! I hope you are healing ok and feeling well! Enjoy them while they're little! Next thing you know he'll be walking all over the place and you'll wonder where your little baby went! Congrats again!

  7. Oh my gosh. This is beautiful. Birth and motherhood is amazing! Congratulations again, Alex. You are Charlie's hero ;)