I wanted to write a post about the labor and delivery of our little Charlie. Some parts may be a little graphic, but I know how some of you like to hear all the gory details! :) I know people want pictures, but my computer right now is less than satisfactory so it might be awhile. Sorry.
On Tuesday, January 11th at about 12:30 a.m. I was concerned that my water had broken and was 'trickling' fluid. This happened when Emma was born, and I was pretty sure it was the same thing. We decided to head in to the hospital to have them check it out. I hadn't had any contractions up to this point except for about 3 that I'd had 6 hours earlier that were 20 minutes apart. We got to the hospital and I thought they would do a quick check of the fluid to see if it was amniotic fluid before they checked me in. But they didn't. They took me straight to a birthing room, had me change into a gown, and hooked me up to all of the monitors. It was the weirdest thing, right after they hooked me up to the monitors I started having small and somewhat random contractions. Then they decided to check my fluid. With Emma it was very simple, they used a paper strip that changed a certain color if amniotic fluid was detected. Now they have 3 different ways of detecting fluid, including the strip, but they require that they insert a very uncomfortable device that allows them to see if fluid was 'pooling'. This was the first of many very uncomfortable 'checks' that morning.
They determined that I was not leaking amniotic fluid, which was a shock to Jarom and I because I clearly had some sort of unexplained moisture going on. I was afraid they were going to send us home, but because I had been contracting they decided to check my cervix first. This was a more difficult process than you would imagine. It has always been something pretty simple. However, the nurse reached in, 'dug' around for a bit, pushed hard, then pushed even harder. Then she came out and said that something was really strange and she couldn't really describe what it felt like. She went to get another nurse. The second nurse went in... 'dug' around... pushed hard... pushed harder...came out...asked me to put my fists under my pelvic bone to tilt it upward...went back in...continued...and then decided that I was dilated to 4 1/2 cm. I had to experience at least 4 of these types of checks throughout that morning. They were very painful. This was not boding well for my labor experience.
At this point, they were still considering sending me home since they weren't sure how long I'd been at 4 1/2 because my cervix was so difficult. They figured I could have been sitting like that for a week. So we waited a couple of hours to see if there was any progress. I prayed and prayed for progress! I was so ready for Charlie to come, and I had already suffered some very painful things. I was ready to get it over with! After 2 hours and another horrid check I was dilated to 5 1/2 cm and 80% effaced. They finally decided they would keep me. So they figured they'd get my contractions moving along and they started the Pitocin. It worked. I was feeling those contractions! I have had an epidural with all of my kids (well, one was a spinal block) and it has always worked perfectly, so I was looking forward to getting that going, even though the process itself is painful, it had never been anything I couldn't handle.
Wrong! Not this time! The process of putting in the catheter for the epidural had never hurt so bad as it did this time. It was unbelievably painful! When it was finally over, I was really looking forward to some pain relief, pronto! It never came. The anesthesiologist came in 4 times to add more medicine and still, nothing. The contractions were getting stronger and lasting longer and all I could do to get through them was try to breathe. I must admit, for awhile there I was pretty proud of myself for how well I handled the pain. I didn't make and ounce of noise, just breathed. As we got closer and closer the anesthesiologist decided perhaps he hadn't gotten the catheter in correctly and we did the whole thing again. It wasn't as painful this time (except for the fact that I was having major contractions during the process) and I started to feel the numbing effect go down my right leg. I took this as a sign that it was now working and I would soon be pain free. Nope! Wrong again! It spread through my right leg and stopped dead in it's tracks. 4 more doses of medication...nothing. No matter how I shifted position it offered me no other relief.
On top of all of this, after another check, we found that Charlie was 'sunny side up'. Babies are supposed to come out with their face down, toward the mother's back. Charlie was face-up toward my belly. Because of this his head wasn't fitting through my pelvic bone the way it was supposed to. This is when the REAL pain began. I felt like there was a vice clamped onto my bones, and with every contraction that clamp pulled my bones in 6 different directions all at the same time. I thought I was going to burst, the pressure was so intense! I lost all control over that pain. I was crying hysterically. Because of this, Charlie's oxygen levels started going down and I had to wear an oxygen mask. This had turned into a very real nightmare for me. I could feel everything. In comes the anesthesiologist again. He tried to adjust the catheter and add more medicine one more time. I hoped it would work, but no such luck.
Then the time came... I could feel that immense pressure moving forward and I knew I had to push... now. When I told the nurse this she told me to wait.... wait! I thought she was insane. She checked me and said he still needed to come down a little more so don't push. She went to get my doctor. One contraction later I said it again... I needed to push...NOW!!! She said to wait! Aaaaagggghhhh! The frustration! The pain! The pressure! My doctor came in just in time and said "Okay, lets go!" Thank you, Dr. Terry, for not telling me to wait! I mustered up what I could just to move my body into position. On the first contraction I pushed once and Charlie's little head came out. Then Dr. Terry tells me to stop pushing. Stop?! (I'm still feeling every bit of this, by the way) He wanted me to stop! Some of you may, or may not understand what it's like to have half of a human body coming out of a very small space in your own body, and then have to stop pushing and just let it sit there.
Luckily, shortly after that the next contraction came. One more push and he was out. At 11:55 a.m. they placed little Charlie on my stomach, but I was shaking so bad I could barely reach up to touch him. You would think this would be a good place to wrap things up. It's over. The end. No more pain, right? Wrong! Because, you see, after the birth comes the after-birth. I usually barely even notice this part, it always goes so quickly and smoothly while I'm cuddling with my new little baby. But, of course, that would not be fitting for this experience. Simple and painless didn't fit into this labor scenario. You see, the placenta did not detach from my uterus, as it is supposed to do, making it easy to remove. No, my doctor had to literally go up inside and use his fingers to physically separate the placenta from my uterus. OUCH! (Did I mention that my epidural didn't work? Yes? Okay, just checking.) Yep, I felt that too.
Then, finally, it was over. And while they cleaned up my baby boy I got to give some attention to something very important to me. I asked the doctor if there was any evidence of my other baby in the placenta. I know some might find it disgusting, but I got to look at the placenta and I saw the little flap of extra tissue that was once my little boy. This was incredibly important and emotional for me. My point of view was not great and I couldn't see much detail, but Jarom said he could see the imprint of a tiny skeleton in that little flap of tissue. As small as it was, I had my evidence that my little Peter was real. I will never see it again, but at least I got to see it. I had been worried that the day may be tainted by the baby that wasn't born. I wasn't sure how I would feel and it worried me for a long time. But now I know.
I have a necklace. I wear it every day. It is an angel with a ruby heart in the center. It is a token of remembrance for my little angel, Peter. The ruby is the birthstone of July, the month we lost him. With every contraction I had during my labor, I wrapped my hand around that little angel while I breathed in and out. With every contraction I thought about my little Peter. He reminded me of how lucky I was to be there in that moment, however painful it was, giving birth to a living and healthy son. No matter how much I complain about the physical pain I experienced during this labor, Peter made me grateful, every step of the way, for the blessing it was to be having that experience. The memory of Peter did not taint my feelings that day at all. Quite the opposite...my memory of Peter helped me get through it, as I am sure it will help me get through many other things in the future.
And now we welcome our sweet little Charlie to the family! He is perfect! And we are happy to have him!