Well, it's Saturday, February 6th and I had my second little girl two days ago. I wanted to make sure I recorded her birth story before I get hazy on the details. Charlotte arrived on her due date, Feb. 4th, 2016! (Disclaimer: Maybe don't read if you're a little squeamish. Although I think I kept it pretty PG.)
On and off last week I had tons of Braxton Hicks and I'd go to bed and have a few false labor contractions. I always knew they weren't the real deal because they were spaced far apart and never got very intense. Wednesday morning, Kwacha and I went in for our last scheduled appointment with my OB. He said that I was between 2-3 centimeters and she was ready to come anytime. Because I have gestational diabetes with my pregnancies and I also had group b strep this time, he wanted to schedule an induction for that week. We chose Saturday (which would have been today...crazy!) which seemed a bit early, but then our OB would be on call and he would be the one delivering her which we were happy about. Still, I really wanted to go into labor naturally and that's what I was praying for. I figured she had time!
Well, Wednesday night we went to sleep pretty late, around 12:30. I didn't feel any differently than I had any other night (except I did have a little lower back pain when we went on a walk after dinner), so I thought I definitely wouldn't be going into labor. Well, around 2:00 a.m. I started feeling those contractions again only this time they seemed a bit stronger. After a few pretty intense ones I woke up Kwacha and told him that I thought this was it, but I wasn't positive, so we didn't need to get ready yet. Well, a few minutes later they were coming every four minutes, so I decided to get up and do my makeup. (With Shirley I didn't do that and I regretted it. Ha! I had told Kwacha that I didn't care how bad contractions were, I was getting ready this time.) Kwacha called my mom and asked her to come over and stay with Shirley. She was beyond excited.
Contractions continued to get more intense and closer together by now. They were coming every 2-3 minutes and I had to stop what I was doing to get through them. But I could still talk through them. Kwacha called the hospital. It was probably around 2:45 or 3 by this point. Even though he told them that my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, lasting for about a minute, and that I had had them for close to an hour, they still told him that we should stay home for another hour or two! Kwacha said, "Forget it. We're coming in."
Up until this point, I had determined that I was going to stay home as long as possible, that I would try and wait to get an epidural until I was farther along than last time, so at least 6 centimeters. (This was partly in case I have to have a drug free labor in Malawi someday. I wanted to be prepared.) But when my mom got to our place I had had enough of the pain! I said that I didn't care what I had said before. I was getting an epidural as soon as I got to the hospital! And why would anyone not get an epidural??
So, Kwacha and I packed the car and drove off. I had one strong contraction in the car. I'm still so thankful that we are only five minutes away from the hospital! When we got to Emergency I seemed fine but told them I was in labor. Thankfully I had one right after I sat in the wheelchair so I maybe seemed a bit more legit? Anyway, I was wheeled up, had one contraction on the way, and when we got to our L&D room they told me to change into the gown and give a urine sample. Well, I had 3-4 contractions in the bathroom, probably less than a minute apart. This is when I started to get a little concerned.
When I came out of the bathroom, no one was in the room. Not even Kwacha. I started to get a little panicky but then Kwacha came in. I told him I didn't know what to do. Should I sit? The contractions just seemed so bad! Well, I wound up sitting on the bed and the nurse came in and started asking me lots of questions and hooked me up to a monitor. I was getting lots of contractions and was just miserable sitting on the bed. I wondered...when is she going to check me?! Finally she did and she quickly and calmly said, "You're an 8 - 9." I just said, "Oh my word! Can I get an epidural??" And she replied, "Probably not. I'm not going to lie to you." I don't even know why I asked it. I knew there was no way I'd be able to sit still long enough to get one. As soon as she responded with that, I felt ready to throw up, not just because of the pain, but primarily because of fear. I felt trapped. I was not ready for this. I had never taken a class on natural childbirth.
I started to tell Kwacha, "I can't do this! I can't do this!!" But another nurse came in and they started getting me ready. The pain was immense. And the contractions were right on top of each other. I always kinda wondered, do you really need to make all that noise when you're in labor? Well, I was shocked at the sounds coming out of me. It seemed like the only thing that could possibly help ease the pain. Pretty soon the doctor was there and it was time to push. The nurses told me to try and stop screaming and internalize that to power the baby out. It seemed like the hardest thing to do at that point, but I did my best. A ring of fire and three sets of pushes after that and she was out! It still amazes me how you can go from the worst pain imaginable to utter relief and bliss. They laid a little slimy Charlotte on top of me and I was so happy it was all over and she was with us! It was 4:15 a.m. Just about two hours after contractions had started. I had been at the hospital for only 45 minutes. If Kwacha had listened to the lady who told us to stay at home for an hour, we wouldn't have made it!
All of Thursday I didn't even want to think back on the labor, it seemed like a horror film. But two days after with a little sleep, it didn't seem all that bad. God's Word tells the truth, the pain is forgotten with the joy of bringing a new little life into the world. I still will definitely get an epidural next time if humanly possible! Ha! But, at least I know it's possible and you survive! (And I shouldn't even complain with such a short labor.)
I am just in awe of how God creates these beautiful little babies and gives us the privilege of raising them. He is so good and a marvelous Creator! We love our little Charlotte!
Nuance (a follow-up post)
1 day ago