Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For Charlotte, for someday

Dear Charlotte-

Your arrival was such a happy surprise.  Your daddy and I had decided not to have any more kids.  Brayden and Jack were pretty wonderful, our cups were full and life was a little bit hard.  So we didn't think it was fair to ask for any more.  So, even though we both wanted just one more baby, we decided not to be greedy, not to ask for anymore.

God must have laughed out loud when he heard our decision.  I guess we hadn't asked him what He thought.  And so you were the happiest of surprises.  My pregnancy with you was different than it was with the boys.  Whether it was because you are the beautiful girl you are or that I stopped eating wheat, we will never know.  But, we decided to have you on our terms.  Out of the hospital.  So your birth could happen the way we believed it should.  Peacefully and without any worry of interventions or unnecessary checking or an o f the things that would put you at risk.  Bless your Daddy's heart for always believing in me and my research!

We started to interview home birth midwives and I went in to see my OBGYN and nervously explained what we were planning.  She spent the next 10 minutes giving me her blessing and explaining away any worries since you would be the third time I gave birth.  I truly believe that a home birth was the marathon that I would never run, so we lined up "coaches" to interview.  We ended up hiring Victoria Edwards and her sweet student Holly.  Vicky was from Oxford, England where home birth is the norm.  Her accent reminded me of the time I used to spend in Scotland.  She agreed to work with us and our payment plan, and I am so grateful that she did.  She cared and fretted over us for the next 6 months, and I grew to love her and Holly very much.  Jack, Brayden and I always looked forward to their visits, although I suspect you dreaded them.

Every time Holly would palpate you inside my warm tummy, you would punch and kick at her.  Holly and Vicky's palpating would send your heart rate soaring, which would send Vicky  into a fit of worry.  That and the fact that you kept flipping upside down and breech.  One day during our appointment, the midwives examined us and you were breech.  By the end of the appointment I felt you flip to a head down position and told the girls that.  So they palpated you again and sure enough, there you were, right side up and head down.  I laughed, wondering what kind of trickster we were in for.

You would also hide down low in my pelvis and give them another cause to worry.  They worried that you were small and not growing like you should be.  Mostly, I think they worried because I was small.  But I can grow a baby-boy were we all surprised when you came out at 7 pounds and 6 ounces and 19 and 3/4 inches long...with chubby cheeks, no less!

I gained the most weight with you-at least 20 pounds, which was pretty good for your mama.  You were my only baby to ever put a foot into my ribs.  The first time you did it , I was so surprised by the tickle I jumped out of bed.  It was such a strange sensation! I loved resting my hand on your teeny little butt and feeling your legs stretch out, your little heels a bump I could watch move across my side.  Brayden loved to see that.  Oh my gosh, he was so excited about the baby in my tummy!  He was the first one to tell anyone; Grammy Tammy and Bappa Steve, who were equally excited.

You were our miracle baby from the start.  Even during the 9 months I spent growing you, you were Protected.  The day after Thanksgiving always sticks out as the best example.  I needed an outfit to wear on a TV show, so I went shopping after a bad storm.  The roads were okay, but on my way home, I hit a patch of ice, crossed over both lanes of traffic at a bend in the road and flew into the ditch. The car stopped literally, one inch from a telephone pole and an electric junction box.  If we would have hit either, the air bags would have gone off and I'd have lost you.  Eventually, the Xterra climbed out of the ditch just before a snow plow came and buried us in.  It really was a day of miracles, little baby.

As your birth got closer, we made our plans.  Who to call to take your big brothers or where they should sleep if you came at night.  We filled the birth box with supplies from the list Vicky gave us and fitted the bed with a mattress cover and 2 sets of sheets.  We introduced Vicky, Holly and Jenny, the assisting midwife, to Grizzly, who would be nervous and a pain during your birth and tried to make him more comfortable.

Our best laid plans were foiled up a bit because Auntie Danielle planned to be here for your birth but Auntie Deandra was taking a trip to London and needed Auntie Danielle, Grammie and Bappa to watch Timmy, Lincoln and Mav while she was gone.  We lined up the neighbors instead and then we had a false start.  In the middle of a snow storm Vicky had to drive over and see if I was in labor.  I wasn't of course, and because Vicky was worried by my small size and you were hiding your size in my hips and I wasn't drinking enough water, leaving us with low amniotic fluid levels, Vicky gave us the go ahead at 37 weeks to try to naturally bring about your birth.

None of it worked, of course, because you can't smoke out a baby who isn't ready, and you were just not ready.  On Monday I had what was called a Biophysical Ultrasound where they basically test the baby for a few different things and then assign a score out of 8 points.  Everything was fine except for one thing.  You wouldn't move.  At all.  Heart beat, fine.  Practice breathing, fine.  Even amniotic fluid level, fine.  All fine.

But you were asleep and refused to wake up from your nap.  You kept one little hand on your leg and didn't budge with e I drank orange juice or when the tech poked and prodded at you with the ultrasound wand.  Nothing. You WOULDN'T move.  Which would have meant we had to induce you and you would have been born in the hospital.

Little stinker.  If it had been Holly poking you, you would have giving her what for.  Not at the ultrasound, though.  You slept for 28 minutes.

With 2 minutes left of the 30 minute test, you woke up and moved twice.  Just enough to pass the test with and 8 out of 8.

We gave up trying to smoke you out after that.

On the 14th, I heard Jack up sleep walking. He had done it before, so I knew what to expect.  I glanced at the clock and I walked past it.  3:38 am.  He was always up in the middle of the night.

I bend down to pick him up and felt the teeniest, tiniest trickle.  A wave of total, complete excitement washed over me.  My water broke!  That had never happened to me before!  I quickly tucked Jack into bed and kissed him one last time. It was the last time he would be the baby of our family and I wanted on last chance to love him as much as I could.  Then I tucked Brayden in again and prayed for both of them before running back to bed.

Vicky had said the best way to know if your water broke was to lay down for 30 minutes.  If you got a gush when you stood up, then yes, for sure, your water was broken.

I lay in bed, as still as I could for exactly 20 minutes.  I even tried to fall back to sleep, but I was way too excited for that.  I did manage to stop myself from waking your daddy, just in case it was another false alarm.  I hate being wrong and it was still 2 weeks early anyway (to the day).

At exactly 4:08, I sat up hoping for the gush.  It was so hard not to sit up before that!  No gush.  Ugh.  But I did start having contractions, and I knew what those felt like.  So I woke up Jeremiah and we decided to call Vicky, even though it was snowing again.  Always with the snow when we called her.  She came at 6:15 and tested the fluid that I had collected on a pad and sure enough, I had been right!  My water had broken!  Wheels went into motion then.  It was a school day and the neighbors had their pre-school commute, so I didn't want to bother them.  We decided to call Grammie because she was the closest and wasn't flying to London that day.  She had to go to work, but it was still early enough we could catch her before she left.

I was walking around the house by then, breathing through contractions.  Vicki and Holly left to give us some space and Grammie arrived to take your brothers out until you were born.  Jack woke up on his own and he got a "special treat" for breakfast...cereal and mil.  Brayden stayed asleep until I woke him up.  I was so excited to tell him you were coming today-he had been so excited since we told him I was pregnant with you.  And because we used Spring to explain to him when you would be coming along, when I woke him up and told him the good news, he said "because Spring is coming?"  I laughed out loud.  It had been a long winter little baby.

While Grammie was here, Daddy went somewhere or loaded the car seats into her car.  I don't remember because those contractions were moving pretty well by then.

I think Brayden ate breakfast.
I know I packed all of their important things in an overnight bag.  Then Daddy came back and Grammie and the boys left.  I sat down on the couch to take a break-Charlotte, contractions are exhausting!

And everything stopped.
Contractions went to 10 minutes apart, and felt like nothing.  So we hung out for a little while and went for a walk.  We knew that would start the neighborhood talking, but that was okay.  The walking helped a little bit but not much.  So Vicky and Holly came back and gave us our options.  We had a little bit of a timeline to work under since my water had broken.  We could use the midwife's natural ways of moving everything along or they could go home and wait and see how things went until about 7 pm that evening.  We said -let's do this!

So we started the midwife's herbal remedy every 15 minutes and ribozo and a few other things.  It was kind of fun for Daddy and I to get to try all of that stuff out and have a few minutes as a team, just the two of us.

An hour later, my contractions were the same.  So Vicky and Holly and I went into our bedroom with the remedy and my breast pump.  After about an hour, those contractions moved along pretty well on their own.   So we stopped to see if the contractions would keep going and tried to eat lunch, tried to keep our strength up.

By 2:15, I could feel you pushing against me, trying to work your way out.  And suddenly, we were a team, you and I.  It wasn't like with your brothers, at the hospital with an epidural-I couldn't feel them at all.  But you and I worked together.  It was awesome.  Every time I had a contraction, you would push down, too.  And finally, there was not more fooling around.  No more lunch, no more raspberry leaf tea.  You and I were ready...I needed to push.

Daddy helped me to our bedroom and into my robe and let me twist his shirt collar on his Old Navy thermal shirt and hold onto his arms during each contractions.

Later, I would hold onto the headboard and try to push that way.  Eventually, I moved onto my side and Jenny, the assistant midwife held my leg while Daddy held my hand and I twisted his collar more and tried to look into his eyes for support.  It was hard and I didn't know if I could do it.  But Daddy reminded me over and over again that I could.  Everything was moving so fast.  I had started pushing at 3:12 and by 3:35 Holly and Vicky could see your little head.  They told me to stop pushing and just breathe you out. Which they had warned me they would say.  It feels like a ridiculous thing really, to stop pushing when you are so close.  But I listened to them.  I trusted them, although I really didn't want to.  I held onto your daddy and I breathed you out.  It didn't take long.  By 3:37 you were crowning and at 3:38 Holly said "Kelley, hold your baby!"

Oh my God, Charlotte, there you were!  You were born with your hand up by your neck and a loop of umbilical cord wrapped around you like a necklace.

I didn't see any of that.  I didn't even know that I got to help deliver you or that you were still "being born" as I held you-helped deliver you.  All I could do was stare at you, as I held you up in the air.  My girl!  Our girl!  You were wet and covered in vernix and I don't even remember if you cried.  You were just blinking and looking around with those big, dark, incredible eyes.  Then Vicky said "hold her, kiss her!" which broke me out of the spell I was in.

Your daddy said he will never forget the look pure joy and surprise and love on my face.  I don't remember anything else but you.

You were on my chest, and within seconds of being born you were lifting your beautiful head and looking around and then ready to nurse.  The midwifes told me later I kept saying "I did it!  I did it!"  I was SO happy, little Charlotte!  My marathon finish line came with the sweetest trophy!

There is more to your story, to our story, Sweet Charlotte, and I will tell you some day.  But for now, that is how you were born.  In the best possible way.  
Happy one month birthday Little One.

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