Friday, October 22, 2010

The day we met Lottie

The price I physically paid to meet our sweet little Lottie was greater than I ever imagined it would be. However, as any new Mom would say, I would do it all over again to have her here safe and well. For a third time, I am completely encompassed with an intense and sudden love for our newest family member. The feelings we have for her have effortlessly trumped the memory of the horrifying, hell inspired, NON-MEDICATED birthing pains that brought her here.

That's right. I unwillingly joined the, "I thought I was going to die, but then I gave birth" club that I mentioned in a recently written post. This is story of Miss Charlotte Marie's birth.

At my 38 week appointment, a non-stress test and ultrasound reassured us that our baby was healthy and preparing well for life on the outside. Because I was 4 cm dilated and 80 % effaced, the doctor suggested we set an induction date for the 18th while making the assumption that I wouldn't be able to keep that appointment as I could "go into labor" at any moment. Famous last words, right? Agreeing with her assessment, I went ahead and scheduled the induction knowing I could postpone it if my feelings changed.

As the week passed, I did my best to focus on the charms of the Autumn time season with the kids. We trick-o-treated at the zoo Friday night with our friends, took our yearly trip to the pumpkin patch, made a Halloween craft and painted pumpkins. Saturday afternoon, Andrew took us on a nature walk, followed by a stop at the play park. As Andrew and the kids raced around, I breathed the scene of my family in slowly. In a matter of hours it would be transformed.
Fully aware of friend's opinions that I ought to wait for her to come on her own, Andrew and I examined our own feelings on whether or not we should proceed with the induction. As uncomfortable as I was physically, I did not want that to be the motivating factor. Knowing how well the baby was doing, how favorable my own body was and having experienced a positive induction in the past (Eliza was induced 4 days early due to gallstones) I was feeling optimistic. After prayerful consideration, it still felt right. Not to mention, to be able to arrange child care for Eliza and Henry and knowing exactly what was needed to prepare for our time apart brought me the peace of mind I'd been praying for. I felt it was one of the ways the Lord was blessing us.

With every last detail in place, Andrew and I left our house at 4:45 a.m. on Monday morning. It wasn't long until we were settled in our hospital room. My thoughts were varied.

"This is the room where I'll meet our daughter."
"I wish my Mom was here."
"This bathroom reminds me of the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz."
"I wonder if it's okay that I ate breakfast this morning. Maybe they won't ask..."

They asked. And although I feigned ignorance, I was scolded. :)

The induction officially began a little after 7:00 a.m. when they began pitocin. That step proved unnecessary as it was never needed to spur the contractions. An hour later, I felt my first real pang of excitement when the doctor arrived to break my water (8:05 a.m.).

Two and a half hours later our daughter was born. That's how fast it went. Is that fast? I thought it was fast.

An hour after my water broke, I progressed from a four to a seven. It wasn't long until I informed them that I was seriously ready for an epidural. I could feel my composure deteriorating rapidly. Still, I was determined to be amiable and cooperative.

*Enter the anesthesiologist who SERIOUSLY needs a refresher's course
on how to properly administer an epidural*

Thank the stars above that what followed her failed attempt didn't happen the first time I gave birth; because if it had, I seriously wonder if we would have ever procreated again.

As I waited for the epidural to "kick in," I began transitioning to an eight. I started to panic. My legs! I can easily move my legs! I kept questioning the nurses,

"How long until I feel relief?" I clearly remember that relief was nearly instant with my previous deliveries. It took a while before they were fully effective, but its ease and comfort were present from the start. My happy epidural memories abruptly shatter as another contraction pummels through me.

Why they wasted there time in asking if I could feel my toes is beyond me. Surely my ever increasing cries of pain ought to have indicated the clear failure of the epidural. A nurse jumps in and begins coaching me on how to breath. Thank heavens for her and her ability to say all of the right things because OH MY GOSH I WAS FREAKING OUT.

Finally, someone in green shows up to administer some other drug to try and speed up the relief.

"If this doesn't work, we'll re-do your epidural." That's okay. How about we re-do it now instead? Meanwhile, my dear spouse begins running his fingers through my hair; the speed of which increases as his nerves build. This annoys me.

"ANDREW! Can you PLEASE stop washing my hair?!"

At that moment, Andrew's hand is replaced by the nurse who I am now relying on to help me survive my own panic. Forty minutes have passed. I'm no doctor but the relief should have arrived years ago! It's also clear that plan B was a waste of precious time. The intense urge I have to push indicates that the time to receive a second epidural has expired.

The good news is that the pain is now so insane that I no longer have space left in my brain to feel scared. Oh wait. I'm lying. I am scared when they tell me that they have to drain my bladder to make more room for the delivery. Despite the fact that my legs are able to function, we're too close to delivery for me to walk to the bathroom. I won't say much about that catheter except for that I should have gone with my initial instinct to simply pee myself on the bed rather than allow that to happen. Who cares about grace and class. Those qualities flew out the door about an hour ago.

I am screaming. That's all I can do. I scream to the world of how badly it hurts. At one point I give up on my breathing technique and begin to hyperventilate. Andrew tries to get me to focus back on my breathing. Because it feels like he's demanding something of me (for my own benefit, I know) I tell him to shut-up. I am so sorry about that love.

I want to push. There is no doctor. They tell me to wait. That's like telling your four year old that they need to fly. You just can't fly. It's impossible. Being told to "wait for your doctor" is like being told to do the impossible.

Finally the doctor arrives.

"Push Alison! The doctor is here. Start pushing." I'm being yelled at. Or maybe they're just trying to yell over me. I'm not sure. I don't know what to do. I have zero control. This atmosphere is COMPLETELY different than my past two deliveries. Those were serene and empowering. This was confusing, PAINFUL and frustrating.

At some point I made the decision to push. I had to do it. So I did it. And it hurt so bad. But then, like someone switching off a light, it was over. Suddenly, I'm handed someone else who is screaming as loudly as I had been. I take her in my arms and start sobbing to her how much I love her. I soon realize that I'm weak and need someone else to take her. I hate to pass her off so soon, but I need a moment to recover. I am in shock.

I sit in a fog of disbelief, amazed by what I'd just done. My husband stands dutifully at my side. I point to our baby who is being looked after by nurses and encourage him to go to her. And then I watch. An expression of love fills his face as he begins to study her. That look of his, soothes me. And so I stare at him. That's all I can do.What the heck. Did you know there is a third phase of labor? Apparently I wasn't paying attention the first two times. Prepare yourself as I type the gross words, "the after birth" because that's what abruptly stole my attention away from the beautiful scene I'd been focusing on. I feel an urge to push again. And you know what's hilarious? I am told to wait until the doctor is finished stitching me up. Which I likewise felt. But after labor, who cares. Seriously. For therapy, I return to watching Andrew who is still busy falling in love with his newest daughter.

And finally, the three of us were alone. That first hour we spent together is one I'll never forget. She began to nurse and I swear hasn't wanted to stop since. I spent a day and a half in the hospital before we brought Miss Charlotte home. Our first week together has been blissful. I could easily fill several paragraphs detailing the ways in which she has blessed our family, tell you how well we're adjusting, the continued reactions of our kids... but alas. This post, which has taken me days to complete, needs an ending point. I'm so thankful our story has added the first Charlotte chapter to its pages. I cherish her, I cherish Eliza and Henry, I cherish my amazing spouse and I cherish these happy hormones that are still flowing in abundance.


Megan and Jonny said...

Oh, the horror of the epidural that doesn't work! I will be forever grateful that mine started working again before I actually delivered...

You are amazing. And she is beautiful. I hope that this won't deter you from ever having another one (if that's the plan). Because, seriously, you make gorgeous kids.

Anonymous said...

Amazing story! What a brave woman you are. This really makes me appreciate my epidurals. Congratulations on surviving and also on your beautiful daughter.

Ang said...

Congratulations, Ali! She is beautiful and I loved the story. Someday, when you are done having babies and they are all in school, you need to write a book!

Karen said...

I would read your book!:) I love the story. I'm sorry the epidural didn't work. I love them! So, the question is, would you do it again? It's so good to hear that you're doing well with her home.

The Tate Family said...

All of those horrifying feelings...I have been there! You put it into words better than I could, as always! She is beautiful, and Andrew make SUCH beautiful kids!

Camille said...

Oh boy, I'm so sorry! I also went unmedicated (not by choice, by timing and disbelieving nurses) with number two and the same thing doctor and everyone telling me not to push. YEAH RIGHT! I completely understand what you went through. Way to go! You did it!

Keersten said...

Holy cow, woman! So glad you made it through. My epidural "ran out" with Meg; which gave me just enough of a taste to imagine how insane that must have been. You are amazing!

Samye said...

She is precious. I enjoyed reading your story- keep up the hard work, you are a fabulous mommy.

*Jess* said...

She's so beautiful! I can't wait to meet her!! I'm sorry it wasn't the birth experience you expected. Big hugs!

Christi said...

OUCH! Sorry Ali! That's how I was brought into the world, too. My mom never lets me forget it! I'm glad she is here safe and sound!

Allison said...

Ali, you are amazing. And Charlotte is adorable. Loved talking to you guys the other day!!

Alecia said...

Ali! Congratulations on that beautiful baby!! I have had 4 kids and only one epidural worked. I know what you mean about thinking death is the only alternative. But you DID IT!! She is beautiful. Send our best to Andrew & the kids.

rachel.a.rasmussen said...

Congratulations - you have single-handedly taken away my "I need a baby now" feelings that have ebbed and flowed this past weekend :) However, you are a rock star and I love the honesty with which you shared the story! Keep them comin'!

Jessica said...

Nice work! I am so impressed. So terrible that your epidural didn't work! I can relate to your feelings of anger for being asked to breathe, funny how irrational we get when we're in intense pain. Anyway, congrats on another beautiful baby! You have such a wonderful family.

Allison said...

You are amazing! Good job Ali! She is absolutely beautiful!

Melissa said...

You're amazing, but maybe I shouldn't have read your story so close to giving birth myself! Congrats!

nateandalliewilcox said...

Wow, what an experience. Congrats, she is beautiful!

Jen Bowen said...

Congrats Ali! I'm surprised people ever CHOOSE to go without the epidural. Charlotte is beautiful.

Cami and Andy said...

UM SOOOO CUTE. You two make the most beautiful babies. I want to just squish her!

Kelsi {John, Jake, Georgia, Naomi} said...

she sure is a beautiful girl. congratulations!

but ... a catheter?!?! are you kidding me? why on earth...??? i am so sorry THAT must've been awful!

The Halls said...

Ali, I am still crying. Your words are so precise and describe your feelings so well. You HAVE to write a book someday! I don't care what it is, I'll buy two!!! I need to hear more about this experience in person, just so I'm prepared. And I want Lauren to see what a new baby sister looks like (she's been dying to play dress-up with Eliza for ages, too!) -- I'll have to call you. My most sincere congratulations and joy and sympathy and everything wonderful. You did it!!!

Michelle said...

Ali, you are amazing. I am so glad Lottie is here and healthy!

Heidi said...

OH she is so cute! Yes, they do have the exact same birthday! How cool is that! Not only that, they have the same middle name! They are bound to be great friends. All we need to do is end up in the same place, or spend a lot of time at grandmas' houses! Ha ha ha! Love ya! Congrats!