Saturday, March 1, 2014

the birth of Charlotte Adeline

Disclaimer: slightly graphic post ahead, including some non-graphic photos.

I spent the first day of my maternity leave wandering around IKEA, hoping to "walk this baby out." I was so ready for her to come and I didn't want to "waste" many of my days off without an actual baby. In the afternoon I went shopping at Wegmans, feeling irregular contractions that sometimes made me stop to breathe. Joel and I went out to dinner and had friends over to play games. I knew I needed to be distracted from the waiting. My friends brought some spices to help me kick start labor. I told them I was pretty sure things were already moving, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.

We went to bed around 11 and I woke up at 1 with much stronger contractions. I got in the shower to manage them and let Joel sleep another hour. I woke Joel up around 2 saying, "I need some help." At that point I was confident this was the real deal but had no idea how much longer I would be laboring.

The hours we spent at home are all a blur. I know I took at least two more showers. I know Joel called Melissa, my BFF and doula. I know they both rubbed my back. I know I was tired. I know I sat on the toilet- a lot. I know I threw up twice. I know I asked for counter pressure, some hip squeezing. I know I walked the upstairs hallway, back and forth. I know Melissa helped me breathe deeply and slowly. I know Joel got all our bags ready by the door. I know Melissa made our bed. I know I drank water. I know when we called the birth center's on- call phone the midwife talked me through some contractions and told me I could stay home longer. Twice.

Around 7 am Joel drove me to the birth center. I spent all ten minutes of that drive on my knees, leaning over the back of my seat. I absolutely couldn't sit on my butt- my back killed me and contractions were coming fast!!
Upon arriving at the birth center, I was already 6 centimeters dilated. The baby's head was really low, which was making me feel the need to push even though it definitely wasn't time. The midwife on call wasn't the one we'd seen most, but she told me they were changing shifts at 8am so "my" midwife would be on her way shortly. I love both of the midwives and was pleased to have both of them involved in my labor, but I was really thrilled that the one we knew best would likely be there to deliver our baby. I quickly got in the jacuzzi tub and labored there for the next three hours.
Joel and Melissa took turns massaging my back and doing hip squeezes through contractions. The pain was unbelievable and I couldn't handle it except with their help. Being in the water was amazing; between contractions I could lean back into the jets and let my body relax a little. During my time in the tub I often felt the urge to push. Melissa or Sarah, my midwife, would help me breathe through each contraction when I said, "It's so hard not to push!!" over and over and over again. I was moaning and breathing and hanging out on my hands and knees as labor progressed quite quickly.
The next time I got out of the tub to be checked, I was 8 centimeters so back into the tub I went. During that check, Sarah did some maneuvering with my cervix because the baby's head was still low, but I wasn't open quite enough for her to actually start moving through.

A little before 10am, Sarah suggested I was probably close to being fully dilated so I should get out of the tub. Lying on my back to be checked was total torture so once we discovered I was 10 centimeters, Sarah let me get on my hands and knees to push.

The pushing was horrendous- unbelievably painful and so so hard! I can't imagine pushing for longer than I did, though I know most people have a much longer time of it. I had Joel's hand being crushed on my left and Melissa massaging my back/butt on the right. Sarah was coaching me and encouraging me and telling me exactly what I needed to do. After a little while she had me lie on my side and hold my right leg up. This gave me a chance to focus and I tried so hard to breathe deeply and push when the contractions came. Joel was holding my hand and letting me squeeze his to death and keeping a cool washcloth on my face/forehead. Melissa helped immensely by giving a running commentary... "Ohhhh, Kell, I can see her head!"Just the words I needed to hear, as I couldn't see at all and the pushing didn't feel like it was accomplishing much.

At one point Sarah let me feel Charlotte's little head, which was slimy and hairy and amazing. That slimy, hairy, amazing head gave me the courage and stamina to keep pushing despite the piercing pain of my body parts stretching to beyond their maximum capacity. It's a bit hazy now, but at some point once Charlotte's head was out, there was a bit of a stall and Sarah had me switch back to pushing on my hands and knees. I got really scared because I was afraid something was wrong and immediately started praying and crying, "Lord, please let her be fine. God, help me. Don't let her be in distress. Please keep her safe, Lord." I think I asked Joel to pray through my fears, too, but I don't remember if it was during this stage.
Right around 10:20 am on Friday, January 31st, my sweet darling girl came flying out and was caught by Sarah, who immediately put her up by my head so I could see her beautiful (bloody!) body. Charlotte Adeline Alberts came into the world with her tiny fist squished up against her cheek. She had a little bruise on the right side of her face, due to that hand blocking her exit. That tiny fist made me tear slightly, so once Charlotte was checked out and placed on my chest, Sarah had to do a few small stitches. Charlotte's head was cone shaped and Joel told me later that he wondered why his wife had birthed an alien! She snuggled up with me under some blankets and our birth dream team took care of everything else. Joel and I just gazed at her and I took some deep breaths and reveled in the reality that I'd just pushed a 7.5 pound human out of my body.

The entire experience was incredible and painful and heart-wrenching and scary and perfect and beautiful. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful first labor and delivery. I couldn't have imagined a better team supporting me the entire way.

Though bringing Charlotte into the world was physically the hardest thing I have ever done, it was the most rewarding and the most wonderful. 
All images by Melissa of Melissa Hassey Photography.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story, and a beautiful little one. So proud of you, and thrilled for all three of you! Try to take it easy every chance you get, and enjoy your precious little girl. Don't forget to give yourself plenty of grace, too! Much love from NC. -Rebecca