Whether medicated or natural, at home or in a hospital, vaginal or cesarean ~ the moment a child is placed into a mother's arms for the first time ~ that moment is the same for us all. A moment filled with intense emotion. A moment of pure love. A moment I'm grateful to have not only experienced once, but twice. Our precious Charlotte Adalynn is our third child, but second birth. This is her birth story.
For the most part, my first and second pregnancy were very different. For one, my second pregnancy was one baby, not two babies. Secondly, it was a natural pregnancy, and conception didn't seem to be nearly as difficult this time around. This pregnancy was also physically easier, with the exception of having more nausea than I did in my twin pregnancy.
Seriously though, my twins put my body through ringer, so even when I was 37/38 weeks pregnant with one baby, I was still feeling pretty comfortable physically, only because I remember what true misery felt like from when I carried my twins to 37 weeks!
When it came time to give birth to our daughter, I would soon find out that birth would also be a much different experience the second time around. What was not different, and agonizingly all too familiar for an impatient person like myself, was the final weeks leading up to her birth.
By 36 weeks gestation with Charlotte, I was at the point in my pregnancy where I was getting seen weekly by doctors. It was at my 36 week appointment that I asked for a cervical check. I had been having inconsistent contractions and wanted to see if I had started dilating, as dilation began at 32/33 weeks with my twins.
It was SLOW with my twins. Read their birth story, and you will know that even at 37 weeks, I went into the doctor at 4cm and had an induction. 24 hours later, I never got past 9cm and had to have a C-section.
Sure enough at 36 weeks in my second pregnancy, I was 1 cm dilated. By 37 weeks, I was at 2cm. At this point, I was starting to really feel the contractions, hints the dilation, but the contractions were still very sporadic.
At 38 weeks, I was 4cm dilated and getting very frustrated, as I was having false labor but couldn't seem to get myself into real labor. I had my membranes stripped during my weekly doctor appointment, but it didn't seem to do much, as I had already been losing my mucus plug for days.
I was beginning to think that my body was just unable to contract normally, as I had this same experience with my twins for weeks before their birth. My doctor and I had even talked about the possibility of choosing a C-section over a vbac. Because I have twin toddlers at home, I really did not want a C-section. The recovery from surgery would not be easy with my little guys at home. But because I had already had a C-section, I could not be induced this time. And so I needed to come up with a plan for how long I wanted to go before scheduling a C-section. My doctor would not insist on intervening until 41 weeks, but I couldn't imagine going that long considering the fact that I was already feeling sporadic contractions. So if by 39 weeks if I did not make any cervical progress, I would schedule a C-section for the end of the week. But if I could make it to 6cm by 39 weeks, they would break my water and let me try for a vbac.
By 38 weeks and 3 days, I was staying up at night having consistent contractions. They would start as crampy contractions.....Get closer together....Get uncomfortable to where I needed to breath through the contractions....And before I knew it they would be five minutes apart and feel like full-blown, Charlie-horse contractions, and I would think it's time to go the hospital. Not wanting to call our emergency person for the boys in the middle of the night unless it was completely necessary, we waited until morning before making plans. But just like my twin pregnancy, by morning my contractions would stop or be sporadic again.
This was deja vu from my last labor, and I hated it! I was having prodromal labor all over again, and it was incredibly frustrating! Labor that starts, and then for whatever reason stops and starts back up again several hours later!
By 38 weeks and 6 days, I had another night of early labor. Contractions were three minutes apart by 4am, but by 6am they were back to 10 minutes apart. At this point, I finally called L&D. The doctor on call wanted me to come in for a cervical check, since I was at 4cm at my 38 week appointment. And so I called my emergency caretaker for the boys, and by 8am Matt and I were at the hospital. The entire time we are checking in I am stopping to breath through my contractions, praying to God I am past 4cm and can get true labor started!
I was immediately hooked up to the machines, so my contractions could be monitored. Soon after the doctor came in and checked me, and wouldn't you know I was STILL at 4cm! Are you kidding me?!? How had I not dilated in all those days, considering I was having real contractions, not those annoying BH contractions!
I'm not gonna lie, at this point I just became really negative. I was ready to schedule a C-section and get it over with. I thought for sure my body was going to fail me again and not dilate to 10 on its own. Since,I was one day away from 39 weeks, nothing could be done that day at the hospital unless I had cervical progression. As the doctor told me, if I wasn't progressing, I was just having contractions and wasn't in hard labor. He wanted me to stay for a short time to be monitored, but after that, he gave me two options: go home and try to labor on my own, or stay at the hospital throughout the day to be monitored. If I chose the latter, I'd have to stay in a bed and be hooked up to the contraction monitor. I also couldn't eat anything. Already starving and beyond uncomfortable contracting in a hospital bed, I was leaning towards going home, so I could at least soak in a warm tub to help ease the pain.
By this point the contractions were no longer eased by me stopping to breath through them, but rather they were to the point where I was screaming through the pain, which is obviously not ideal. Not wanting me to go home in that much pain, we opted to walk the hospital halls and try using a birthing ball for awhile, before getting my cervix checked one more time and making a decision about our day. During those 40 minutes, my contractions were intense and became very close together. The once quiet halls we were slowly walking, were soon filled with my cries and moans, as I would stop and hold on to my husband through each contraction.
By now it was 10am, and all of sudden things were progressing QUICKLY! The doctor checked me and after being at 4cm for days, I went to 6cm in two hours time! I was officially admitted as a patient. Even though I was in intense pain, I wanted to go as long as I could without an epidural. I wanted to labor in the Jacuzzi tub or on a birthing ball for awhile, remembering how my epidural slowed down my labor progress last time. While laboring in the tub was my plan, I was in such intense pain and having nonstop contractions that within just a few minutes of being admitted, I found myself begging for an epidural! In the meantime, I was injected with some intense pain killer that didn't really seem to help the pain, but rather made me feel tired and light-headed.
By 11am I was greeted by a gentleman with a giant needle. He was my hero, as he was my only answer for instant relief! I cared about nothing else but getting that big ol' needle in my back, something that under any other circumstance would seem terrifying. That just goes to show that when you are feeling the most intense pain you've ever felt in your entire life, you'll do just about anything to get rid of it. Pains that felt like my insides were being torn in two. Like the most intense Charlie horse you've ever had, only it's in your mid section and just as it goes away, it comes back again, and all you want to do is SCREAM!!! That's what hard labor contractions feel like. This was a new experience for me, as I had an epidural before I ever felt intense labor pains with my twins.
Here's the thing with my epidural experience for Charlotte's birth. We didn't know it at the time, but I was transitioning during my epidural!!! All I knew was that my pain on a scale of 1-10 felt like a 100! Not able to get a break from the contractions at all, I found myself screaming, with tears and runny mascara streaming down my face. I had my hero with the needle behind me telling me I had to sit still, yet I found myself unable to sit still through the contractions. I had my nurse in front of me, physically holding me to keep me still and telling me to focus on breathing instead of screaming. And then I had my husband in the distance, trying to encourage me by telling me I could do this.
As my pain was quickly diminishing, I felt a great amount of pelvic pressure and felt like I could push. My nurse quickly checked my cervix, and to everyone's surprise, I was at 9.5 cm! Yep, we didn't realize it as it was happening, but I was transitioning while they were trying to give me an epidural. I will forever use this as my excuse to why I must have sounded so dramatic during my epidural!
The doctor was quickly paged to my room. I had just enough time to touch up my makeup, or at least wipe my raccoon eyes clean, before being told it was time to push. The clock read 12:20 pm. I couldn't believe that just four hours prior, we were checking into the hospital and were told we could home if we wanted to. Good thing we decided to stay, or there is a real possibility my husband could have been delivering his own child, as I would have never thought my body would have gone from 4-10 in four hours after taking three weeks to get from 1-4!
At 12:59 p.m., after 39 minutes of pushing, a 6 lb. 10 oz. baby girl with a head full of dark hair came out of the body that carried her for nine months, and just like with my boys, I was overcome with an intense emotion of pure love! And so, on June 4, 2016, after a labor that started slow and ended quickly, I held our miracle baby in our arms. Our precious gift from God, Charlotte Adalynn made us a family of five!
This tiny, squishy baby girl came into the world and immediately melted our hearts! We are so thankful God has chosen us to be her parents! May we always remember she is a gift given to us for a season in time. With this gift comes the great responsibility to love her, nurture her and raise her in a way that would be pleaseing to our Heavenly Father. Thank you Jesus for this precious gift!