To my sweet, sweet Charlotte:
I'm sure one day I'll be able to look back at the agonizing natural labor I went through to get you here and say something nonchalant, such as "oh, it wasn't that bad!"
Today is not that day. Here's what I remember, the way I REALLY remember it.
37 weeks and 5 days, I woke up feeling like I needed to tie up my loose strings. I was convinced I wouldn't go into labor until after my due date and was crossing my fingers for a Valentine's Day baby, but I thought "what the heck, I'll get a little ready now so I have less to do then!"
I sent out an email to the family letting them know what the game plan was for when I went into labor and half packed my hospital bag. I started having light contractions at about 3:00pm. I called a couple of friends who had just had their babies (Andi and Lindsay) to get their input as to whether or not I was really in labor, and I had decided by about 5:30pm that I was not. (Every time I sat down or would lay down, the contractions would lighten up to about nothing.)
I continued having light contractions that felt more like Braxton Hicks, and about 7:00pm I started feeling alot of pressure on my hips. I decided to practice my "tailored sitting" (basically sitting indian style on the ground to get the baby to move down) and about 5 minutes later, I felt my water break. I knew immediately it was my water breaking and that I had not, in fact, peed on myself as some women think they have. I stood up- and WHOOSH- niagra falls.
Every cough, laugh and step. Gross.
I called my midwife (Theodora was on call), and she said to head on up to the hospital so that we could get my IV antibiotics started nice and early (I had tested positive for Group B Strep early on in my pregnancy which requires IV antibiotics during labor.) On the way to the hospital, I could really feel Charlotte bearing down on my hips. I started to panic, thinking about Andi and Lindsay who had BARELY made it to the hospital/birthing center and started to panic. Shawn got to St Lukes in about 12 minutes.
We got to the hospital, got my IV hooked up, and Theodora got there to check and see how dilated I was. Her exact words were, "Oh Katie, that baby is in Canada! We've got to get you walking." Super. I was only 1cm and 50% effaced. So, we walked a few laps around the hospital and my contractions barely increased in intensity. We decided it would be a good idea for me to get a good night sleep and try again in the morning. I think I got 1 hour of sleep. My contractions had gotten intense enough that I couldn't sleep, and I spent about 2 solid hours in the jet tub (THANK YOU St. Lukes), and the rest of the time lying in bed uncomfortable.
Theodora came in at about 7:30am or 8am and we started walking the hospital again. My contractions picked up a little more, and she checked my progress at 8:30am. 1 1/2cm, 60% effaced. She asked if it would be okay to give me a VERY small amount of pitocin to strengthen my contractions and get my labor moving. I was tired and starving at this point, and just wanted to get Charlotte out. Plus, I knew that since my water had broken and I had the group B Strep, they would want her out to prevent fever and infection, so I agreed. Theodora's shift ended and a different midwife, Debbie, stepped in.
9:00am the pitocin started, 9:45am the contractions were lasting 1 minute long with a max of 1 minute in between.
Two things to note here: at about 10:00am, I did ask Debbie about the possibility of getting an IV drug to help with the pain. She was very sweet and said if I wanted something, she would get it for me. I didn't ask again.
Secondly, the thought of an epidural crossed my mind only once, probably about 11:00am. Here's what I remember thinking:
"oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I can't take another contraction. I can't do this. Why don't I want an epidural??? I can't remember. I can't remember. Oh my gosh, Another contraction...breathe, breathe, breathe...."
And that's the only time I remember being rational enough to consider it before going right back into getting through the pain. I truly believe this was Gods protection over my sweet girl since one of the known side effects of an epidural and IV drugs is breathing difficulties at birth.
Who knows how much worse it would have made things for her.
At about 12:35, the contractions were unbearably strong, and I said something like, "I feel ALOT of pressure, I think I need to push?" The nurse realized Charlotte was bundled up on my right side and she and Debbie decided I needed to move onto my left side. Immediately my body started having the most intense hot/cold flashes and pain and I remember saying "OUCH. OUCH. I need to roll back over! OUCH. This hurts! I HAVE to push NOW!"
The rolled me back onto my back and checked me, and I was ready to push!
I pushed for 13 minutes. It would be impossible for me to describe the pain if you've never been through it. I imagine it's equivalent to having to slowly cut your own arm off. Or maybe just a couple of fingers. Hard to say. Trust me. It hurts.
I pushed her out and they put a very purple baby onto my stomach. She wasn't crying, but she was breathing- just not very forcibly and certainly not the way they wanted her to be. They got the neonatal team in the room within minutes and they started rubbing and patting Charlotte. They kept reassuring me she was fine because she was, in fact, breathing, and I believed them and managed (mostly because of my shock of just having a baby) to stay calm.
To Be Continued... (Don't worry, there's a happy ending!)
Charlotte Mae Little
8 lbs 10 oz, 2 weeks early