Now that my baby girl is over 6 weeks old, I figure it’s about time I got her birth story written out!
Charlotte’s birth story starts a bit before her actual birth. Ever since I was about 30 weeks pregnant, we had been speculating on when she would arrive. My due date was February 28th, but Dave had an almost 2 week vacation (due to Chinese New Year) that started on February 14th, so we had really hoped she would come around the 14th. We talked so much about her coming on the 14th that it started to feel like it was my real due date. So when the 14th came and went, and then another week passed, it felt like I was already overdue. By the 26th and 27th of February I was about at my wit’s end. I still hadn’t technically reached my due date, but emotionally and physically I was ready for the pregnancy to be over. Actually, the pregnancy was quite easy, physically, it was more the anxiousness of actually seeing a live and healthy baby that was driving me crazy. I just wanted her to be here so I could really see she was ok. I wanted to hear her screams and feel her in my arms.
On Friday, February 27th, Dave and I went to lunch with my parents at a Tex-Mex restaurant called Smokey Joe’s (yes, they have Tex-Mex here in Taiwan). We decided to walk there since I was trying to do a lot of walking to potentially induce labor, and it was about at 20 minute walk each way. I had a chicken taco salad for lunch, and even ate the jalapeños (which I normally wouldn’t) in an effort to bring this child into the world. I felt completely normal all day, and really had no signs of impending labor. That night Dave and I went to the elementary school that is next to our apartment to walk around the track, like we had been doing most nights for the past week. I remember while we were walking saying to him, “I wonder if walking to the restaurant and walking on the track will make her come tonight.” Little did I know, I was right!
That night I had a terrible time sleeping. I think I went to bed around 1 AM, but just laid in bed for a few hours. Finally around 3 AM or so I fell asleep. That night I actually had dreams that I went into labor, but in my dream I died during childbirth! In my dream the doctor was coming to tell my family that I had died, when I woke up. My first contraction is what woke me up at 5:35 AM. Since I had been asleep I wasn’t sure if it was really a contraction, so I lay awake waiting to see if another came. A few minutes later I felt another one. Could this be it? I wanted to wait for a few more contractions before I woke Dave up, but sure enough it was the real thing! After having 4 regular contractions I walked to his side of the bed, gently shook him awake, and said “Are you ready to have a baby today?” We both couldn’t believe she was finally on the way, and that it was exactly her due date!
Now, besides believing I would have Charlotte a few weeks early, I also felt that her labor would be extremely short since Sophia’s labor and delivery lasted almost exactly 5 hours. Most people say that the second child comes faster, and a lot of times in half the time as the first. I was actually concerned that my labor would be so fast that I would not make it to the hospital in time! So, when contractions started I fully believed I would be having this baby well before noon. I had decided to leave for the hospital when the contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart, so I hunkered down and waited (for what I thought) would be a very short time.
Like with Sophia’s labor, I was going to have a natural birth with no pain medication, and I wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want Dave fussing over me, and I didn’t want anyone talking to me. I labored in silence with Sophia, but with Charlotte I had a CD with calming music and sounds (made for people in labor), and listening to it really helped me.
I know it’s hard to see, but here is my labor music on my iPod, and my room where I labored.
So, I put on the labor music, turned off the lights in my bedroom, and breathed through each contraction. At this point the contractions weren’t too terrible, so in between contractions I was going around the house picking up and cleaning. I guess it was my final nesting instinct. I even washed the dishes—if I had a contraction I would go back to my dark room, breathe through it, and then return to the kitchen. Dave periodically checked in on me, but otherwise just waited in the living room for me to give him the orders to drive me to the hospital.
Dave was just hanging out and watching “Friends” while he waited.
Like I mentioned before, I thought this would be a really short labor. After a few hours passed and my contractions still weren’t regularly three minutes apart, I started to realize this might not be as quick as I thought. Around 9:30 AM the contractions started getting more intense, and instead of my regular slow breathing, I felt this instinct to make a low moaning sound. When I made the “oooooohhhh” sounds it just helped with the pain, so I stuck with that for my pain management technique. The first time I did it Dave can rushing into the room and was like, “Are you ok?!” I think he was used to my silent laboring, but I had to do what I had to do.
We arrived at the hospital around 10 AM (my mom and dad met us there) and when they checked me I was dilated only 2 cm! I couldn’t believe that I had already been laboring for several hours and still had such a long way to go.
Making sure I’m in real labor before they admit me to a labor room.
After they verified that I was indeed in labor, I was moved into my labor/delivery room. For Charlotte’s birth I delivered in a different hospital than I did with Sophia because it’s the only hospital in Kaohsiung where you can labor and deliver in the same room. If you read Sophia’s birth story, you’ll remember that the hardest part of the whole ordeal was having to move from my labor room to the delivery “chair.” In this new hospital the bed was able to be adapted for delivery, so I didn’t have to go anywhere.
In the labor room I had my headphones in with the labor music on repeat, and I just swayed or braced myself against the wall, or leaned on Dave during contractions. By 12 PM I was dilated to 5, and I was really starting to feel exhausted. Since I had only slept about 2 hours the night before, my body just wanted to rest but I knew I had a few more hours of labor and all the pushing to get through. Each hour I would have to lay down in the bed to have Charlotte’s heart rate checked (otherwise I was standing the whole time) but eventually the contractions that happened when I stood up from the bed were so intense that I just labored the rest of the time lying down. My mom and Dave were glad I was finally laying down and giving my body some rest, since I think they were worried I wouldn’t have the energy to push!
At 1 PM I was dilated to 6 cm and by 2 PM I was at 7 cm. When the nurse checked me at 2 PM she told me that she thought I was close, and just to call her when I felt the urge to push. Well, two contractions after she left and I felt a strong urge to push. This was it! I started pushing, and like with Sophia, I hated the pushing part! It was so much more painful to me than the contractions, and at first I wasn’t pushing very strong because it hurt so much. The doctor came in and I could feel the excitement picking up in the room. I so wanted it all to be over, but there was a lot of pushing and pain that needed to happen first. I just wanted it to be over, so with each push I bore down as hard as I could and held my breath. I guess I was holding my breath for too long because Dave said I was turning purple. The nurses put an oxygen cannula under my nose to help me, but I really only remember that happening from pictures. I was in so much pain! Finally, at 2:30 PM our little Charlotte Grace came into this world.
They immediately put her onto my stomach, and she was very dark purple and wasn’t crying yet. I remember how she felt so soft and so slimy at the same time. I really wanted to have that “fall in love” moment with her, but I was still in so much pain it was hard to think of anything but it. I just kept saying, “Is she ok?” and “Thank you Jesus.” I had her on me for just a few moments, and then they needed to take her to suction some of the fluid out of her mouth and nose. She apparently had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid because they not only used the suction bulb, but had to use the suction machine several times.
After she seemed clear, and we had heard that precious cry, they brought her back to me for skin-to-skin, and to try breast feeding. Our poor little girl had been so traumatized from all the suction that she didn’t even want to open her mouth. It was still so nice just to feel her there next to me, but during that time the doctor was sewing up my tears and I was still feeling so much pain. Seriously, all I can remember is the pain. Oh, and saying, “I’m never doing this again!”
I so wanted to enjoy this moment but all I felt was PAAAAIIIN
After a few minutes of skin-to-skin they had to suction even more fluid out of her which was so sad to see and hear. I knew it was hurting her, but I also knew it was the best thing for her. After that second round of suctioning she was much better and her color improved. Her Apgar scores were 8 and 9.
Dave finally had a chance to hold her, and it was amazing watching him with her for the first time. It was definitely love at first sight for those two!
The nurses then took her away to measure her, weight her, clean her up, and do some tests. Dave was able to be there for a short time, but I didn’t get to see her again for almost two hours! For a brief time I had the same feelings I had with Sophia—did I really have a baby? Is this real? But when they brought her to our recovery room, and she was able to breastfeed again (she latched on right away!) that’s when I had the “ohmygoshIlovehersomuch!” moment.
Overall, Charlotte’s labor and delivery were much harder and longer than Sophia’s, much more painful, but I was able to recover faster this time. I don’t think I’m still in that “I’m never having another baby again” place, but I think I’d like to wait quite awhile before I’m ready for another one.
Still, it was all worth it to be able to have such a beautiful and precious little girl!