How can it be that over a month has passed since we welcomed our dear girl? I just want to slow down time. To be able to take more deep breaths and bask in the newness of her, the tininess of her toes and the sweet way her lower lip quivers when she cries. It's true what they say, that with each baby time moves faster; it doesn't really, but, you get less time one on one with each of them, so I fully believe that because your time is sparse you appreciate the baby stage more!
Jared and I took notes of the boring details while I was in labor and I took my time processing all of the emotions that accompany the experience. I'm finally in a place where I'm ready to stop hoarding the blessing and share what came to be our but mostly her story! Because who am I to keep it? Sharing a miracle doesn't diminish the sanctity of it, but multiplies it. And I'm fully aware that I'm currently cuddling my third little miracle in my arms, and the love and gratitude is overwhelming. I can't think on it too long because it reminds me how little I deserve it.
Wednesday March 23 we had our home school community day. I taught to distract myself from being almost 2 weeks over due. It went well. My mind was thoroughly distracted for 3 hours and as soon as I sat down in the van to drive home my body decided to catch me up on what it had been doing the last three hours. I felt cramping and contractions but they weren't anything that made me take note so home we went. On the way I called Jared to let him know that I thought labor was starting so he came home from the office and got home just shortly after we did. The rest of the afternoon I spent bouncing on a yoga ball, taking warm baths, baking and attempting to watch movies cuddled up with the girls since I knew it was all about to change.
After Addiston and Isabella were in bed my contractions got stronger but they were still 7-10 minutes apart. I was in obvious pain but didn't even want to call the doctor because with trying to VBAC I knew the only thing they would say was to go to the hospital and I wasn't going anywhere until I was positive it was time to have this baby. That night was pretty much a blur, I tried to rest. I slept in 5 minute increments, but tried to stay quiet so Jared could get as much sleep as possible. He was up with me several times, getting water and snacks and rubbing my back.
By the time the sun was up Thursday we both knew that this was it and called the parents. Mine were already planning to come down that day for the back-up c-section scheduled for friday. So they might have hurried a little more but were already prepped and ready. Lots of counter pressure, yoga ball bouncing and a few ineffectual hot showers later I called it. It was noon and Contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and made it difficult to stand or breathe through them. My parents were still a few hours out so I called my friend Kari (who was 37 weeks pregnant herself) she and her daughter came over to hold down the fort till my parents arrived.
|Last shot as a family of 4|
Jared and I arrived at the hospital at 1:15. I got my oh-so-stylish gown and was hooked up to a monitor. I was well into active labor with HARD contractions now coming every 2-3 minutes. Jared and I took guesses as to how dilated I was (6&7) and we were both way wrong, I was only at a 3. I was so upset, I had been laboring for almost a day and was only a 3. I hadn't progressed from 1cm, 50% effaced since 37 weeks so we agreed that progress was progress and at that point were excited that no matter what we were leaving the hospital with our baby, one way or another. Since we were attempting a VBAC I had to be hooked up to monitors continually, basically meaning I had a three foot tether to my bed. I paced, Jared brought my yoga ball, I did squats, leaned over the bed and did lots of deep breathing, while Jared spent the larger part of the next several hours applying counter pressure to my hips during every contractions. Four hours later I finally let the nurse check me again, contractions weren't getting any closer but they were so much stronger. She said she could feel scar tissue on my cervix that basically needed to tear in order for me to fully dilate. At 5pm I was 4cm, 100% effaced and -1 station. I was discouraged. I didn't know how much longer I could go and didn't believe my body would do what it should and that I might be looking at my third c-section.
I don't remember doing much more than cry for the next hour strait, I was in PAIN, I was afraid of another surgery, I just wanted to hold my baby. Jared kept encouraging me and helping me as much as he could, but I could tell he was running out of steam too. I had been laboring on a 3 foot leash for 4 hours, and had only progressed one lousy centimeter. My body was trying to go into transition but couldn't because of a residual scar tissue from a decade ago. My body was working overtime trying to break the scar tissue and it was then that I told Jared I didn't think I could do it, that I thought my body just wasn't cut out for having babies and that I wanted to go ahead and get an epidural so that if I had to have a c-section I would be ready. He let the hospital staff know, and about an hour later I was getting poked with a foot long needle.
We had a sweet nurse who had several years experience under her belt and was so respectful of me and my birth plan. She could tell how discouraged I was getting and lingered in the room a little longer than normal when she was checking the babies vitals. She walked over to the infant bed in the corner and began to remove the sterile seal. She got out a blanket from the drawer under it, opened the infant blood pressure cuff and set out a little pink and blue stripped hat, she looked at me and said, "you're going to do this, I don't break this seal unless a baby is going to use this bed," (c-section babies don't use the in-room bed, they get one in the O.R.) I sarcastically chuckled, I didn't have the energy to come up with a witty comment. She said, "I've been doing this a long time and trust me I know when a baby is coming on their own and when we've got to call the doctor to go in and get 'em" For the first time since checking into the hospital I believed that I could do this and that I would get to avoid another c-section.
An hour later my doctor stopped by on her way out of the office and a new nurse (shift change) came to check me again, I was now to 6cm. I was in shock. It took me 24 hours to dilate from a 1 to a 3 and four hours to go from 3 to 4 and then in an hour I progressed from a 4 to a 6, 2cm in 1 hour was an answer to my prayers! Ever since we had the post-due-date ultrasound and found out about the mass in Charlotte's chest I had been tense, (I had actually regressed in effacement from week 40 to 41 and my doctor said that was normal given the situation) I'm not exactly an easy going person by nature but fearing whats going to happen when my baby was finally born made me even less at ease. Jared had been saying for almost a month that if I would just relax that my body would probably do it's thing and I'd be able to go it labor. Well I guess he was right. For the first time in a month, thanks to the epidural, I was forced to relax and my body was able to do it's thing.
I was getting excited, at this point I fully believed that I would deliver my baby. I tried to relax as much as possible knowing that I'd need all the energy I could muster for the actual delivery.
Two hours later (9:30) I had dilated to an 8. My contractions were a minute apart and with each one Charlotte's heart rate would dip just a bit lower than they liked. From that point on I got to sport a not-at-all annoying oxygen mask.
The nurses stayed close after that. Half an hour later (10pm) I was at 9cm, My doctor was called, she only lives 10-15 minutes from the hospital so she had been at home (watching youtube music spoof videos) I asked to have the epidural turned off and my nurse thought I was crazy but I wanted to feel contractions and when to push. She reluctantly obliged.
By 10:15 I was fully dilated, and charlotte had apparently come down the birth canal hard and fast. People seemed to come from nowhere, there were spotlights and mirrors and extra nurses. My doctor wasn't there yet so one of the nurses helped me get set up and do a couple practice pushes. I wasn't feeling the full extent of my contractions yet but I could feel pressure and was able to help hold my legs up. My doctor literally ran in the room out of breath. She was just as excited as I was for this to finally be happening and ran to change, a few minutes later she was in front of me, gowned and masked. At 10:25 I started pushing. One of the nurses counted slower than I thought was possible with each contraction to keep me pushing for as long as possible. With each push I could feel more and more and that made it so much easier to know what to do. Jared held the oxygen mask on me so I could hold myself up to my legs and focus on pushing. My sweet doctor was literally my cheerleader, I don't think she stopped encouraging me for one minute. Between every push I just kept thanking God for this opportunity, I had wanted so badly to be able to deliver my baby myself and I was. Then the doctor said "give me one last good push" and at 10:43 on March 24, 2016 Charlotte Elizabeth was born.
It was surreal, I watched them clean out her, quivering little mouth (we later learned she had taken a big gulp of amniotic fluid on her way out) and place her damp little body on my chest. I was so relieved that she was crying, breathing on her own, without trouble, that she was pink, and I was able to hold her and pray over her. She was (and is) an answer to so many prayers!
The next hour was spent being stitched up (2nd degree tear) and annoying the nurses because I wouldn't let them take Charlotte to the nursery to be examined. I had to be separated from my first to girls for hours before I even got to hold them, I had my baby and I wasn't giving her up. They found the mobile scale and necessary instruments and brought them to us. She weighed 7lbs 7ozs, was 20 inches long. (small for being 2 weeks past due) and they got the cutest little foot prints.
After she was done being inspected, we swaddled her up and got to just be still. To watch her open her eyes and calmly look around, to breathe deep breaths, and hiccup, and cry soft little cries of a newborn who needs for nothing but is simply figuring out how to cry.
The next morning my parents brought Addiston and Isabella to meet their new little sister.
They were and still are smitten. Isabella declared that she was done being a little sister and that now she and Addy were twin big sisters. While in true Addiston fashion my firstborn just took it all in, beaming with pride.
The rest of the day was littered with vitals being checked, visitors, attempting to nurse (she didn't want to eat because her tummy was full of amniotic fluid) and attempts to rest. They did a chest x-ray of Charlotte in the late afternoon, it like the sonogram pre-birth was inconclusive.
We were told we could take her home that evening but we've done this before, were nervous about the mysterious mass in her chest, and our 3 year old still doesn't sleep through the night so we opted for another night at the hospital with nurses keeping a watchful eye on our girl and Jared and I attempting to sleep on 3" plastic mattresses.
Saturday morning we got to bring her home.
The rest of the week was spent anxiously awaiting her CT scan which was scheduled for friday and loving on our sweet new little one.
Friday came and early in the morning before Jared and I were fully functioning we were at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital waiting. Waiting for her name that she hadn't even learned yet to be called, for a test I didn't fully understand to be preformed, waiting for a sweet southern lady to give us instructions, waiting for an elderly st. nick-esque man to walk us s-l-o-w-l-y down the hall to the procedure room, waiting to feed a hungry baby in hopes that a milk coma would keep her still enough for the machines that we wouldn't have to sedate her 7 pound tiny body.
We had been told contrast wouldn't be necessary only to find out it was. I understood the reasoning why and we obliged, only to need to wait more. A pediatric nurse calling a nicu nurse to do the IV because your baby is tiny and new will slap you with a reality check like a cold wind in december. Standing in the corner of a tiny hospital room hearing her first scream of pain while they stick her is hard but the fear of whats on the other side of the test is harder. Jared helped hold her little body and spoke softly to her. After she was all set, I was given the go ahead to feed her to which I was so relieved because it meant I finally got to hold and comfort my baby.
After the milk coma ensued we watched as her tiny body which barely filled the head holder of the machines conveyor belt go in and out of what sounded like a malfunctioning rocket ignition.
Then we got to take her home. To wait.
We were told by the st. nick-esque man that it would probably be Monday before we heard anything, but that if we called our pediatrician and got her to call the hospital and bug them enough they may be able to get us results that day. So call our pediatrician, and bug her so that the effect would continue on up the medical food chain, we did.
A few hours later we received a call.
Her CT Scan had shown no mass, no signs of a mass and no inconsistencies. There were no need for follow-up or extra tests. She was perfectly healthy.
My mind couldn't grasp it.
In that moment my chest lightened. I hadn't realized it but I had been clinging to and cherishing each moment not for the beauty of the moment and her precious newness but for not knowing what the future held, for fear and maybe a little bit of hope. I had prayed, Jared had prayed, our family had prayed and our friends in our church, town, across the country and on the other side of the world had prayed, some even came into our home and anointed my very pregnant belly. And I shouldn't have been surprised when God answered those prayers! I don't have to fear for her future. Because He is faithful. And my tiny little mustard seed of faith was nothing compared to His faithfulness, and for that we are eternally grateful.
She is here, She is perfect, she is a miracle and the answer to prayers I didn't have to words to pray.