The Connection Runners + [running]

Charlotte's Birth Story

Oh, hey, blog world. It's a while since I've been able to get my writing fingers up and running. Life with Charlotte has been a tad hectic and, to be honest, it's been nice to get away from posting for a while as we adjust to spending our days with the little peanut.

Before life moves any faster (which is all it seems to do these days), I figured I'd better write out Charlotte's birth story. Or, at least a Clif's Notes version of it, as A) this post will probably be cut short by a hungry C, and B) it's a birth story, and while I'm sure you want all of the gory details, I'd rather keep my lady bits semi-private.

And so this is the story of how Charlotte joined the world.

The Induction
Heading into last Wednesday's regularly scheduled checkup, I was fairly cranky and ready to be done being pregnant. I figured the doc would give me the same 10-minute once over and send me back home for another sleepless night.

But I was wrong.

When she eventually said, "Want to be induced... tonight?" I vigorously shook my head yes, and after a brief convo with Kevin, the nurse scheduled us to return to the hospital at 6 p.m.

While induction wasn't necessarily topping my Labor To-Do list, I decided to do it because nothing seemed to be happening on its own. Additionally, I was closing in on 41 weeks, a point when induction is often suggested.

So we returned home to pack up our bags, feed and snuggle Baxter a bit, and enjoy what would be our last few hours as a twosome. During the car ride to the hospital, we chowed on some Jimmy John's subs, a Last Supper which can only be rivaled by the one Jesus supposedly ate.

Once we were checked in, I got to don this super sexy hospital gown and eat ice nuggets while we watched part one of the Back to the Future trilogy and waited for things to get "moving". (Side note: Kevin packed all of the best "boy" movies for our stay - Back to the Future, The Goonies, Caddyshack, and The Sandlot. No romantic comedies here, people.)

The doctor came in a bit later to administer a dose of Cytotec, a little pill designed to help thin out the cervix and get things kick started. It was no ride back to 1955 in a DeLorean fueled by a flux capacitor, but I'll take it.

We finished up our flick, then headed to bed for a somewhat restful evening of shuteye.

Labor Begins
By 6 a.m., I started having a few minor contractions. Nothing to write home about, but they were keeping me awake. Our nurse, Jennifer, was going to hook up a Pitocin drip by 9, but that lovely goddess of a woman let me eat breakfast first.

Another side note: For the love of god, eat whenever you are given the opportunity during the L&D process because you have no idea when your next meal will be. If you're brave, order something greasy and delicious in hopes that you won't be spewing all over the floor later.

So I ate, and Jennifer came back to hook up the Pitocin. "Cool," I thought. "We're getting into the home stretch."

Sure, if the "home stretch" was going to last for the next 12 hours. Rookie error.

Within a few hours, the Pitocin worked its magic, and the contractions became increasingly stronger and longer. It kind of felt like the Wicked Witch was clenching her angry little fists on my ute every 3-5 minutes or so. By 11:30ish (my times become a little hazy here), I couldn't talk through contractions anymore, and I was dilated to about 4 cm, which meant that it was time for *drum roll* the Epidural.

A third side note: Bless all of you women who go through labor naturally. I have no idea how you do it. My weak ass made it just under 3 hours before I nearly begged for some drugs. You should all be given medals and a lifetime supply of products to make your lady bits shiny and glittery like those crowns given to child beauty queens on "Toddlers and Tiaras". Seriously, you deserve it.

Although I was initially terrified of having a giant needle shoved into my spine, the epidural process wasn't terrible. A few pokes, the sensation of cold water running down my back, and I was good to go. Ok, so Kevin had to hold my trembling hands the entire time, but it got done.

My blood pressure began to drop after the epidural, though, so the nurses and anesthesiologists threw some toasty blankets and an oxygen mask on me. I felt like Hannibal Lector.

Eventually the drugs kicked in, and Kevin and I hung out for roughly six hours watching HGTV, doing crossword puzzles, and reading Water for Elephants.

Once again I thought, "Dude. This is easy. All I have to do is lay here and watch Property Virgins? I can totally get down with this birthing a child thing."

Dumb. The hard part was still to come.

Delivery/"You just have to run the last 6.2 miles now"
By 6 p.m., I was feeling enough pressure and felt ready to start pushing. Jennifer, the Wonder Nurse, warned me that if I started with the pushing process too early, I risked wearing myself out and not making much progress.

So I held out. For like... oh... maybe 15 minutes. My water broke somewhere in that time frame, I think.

When she returned, we started to push. I've never done Crossfit, but I'm going to venture that pushing a kid out is like doing a WOD at a CF session. The labor participant must:
-raise the upper half of their body
-take a deep breath and hold it in for 10 seconds
-all while pushing with all of your strength and trying not to make goofy faces or grunt too loudly

It is simply exhausting. Once you get going, it's almost impossible to stop for a break. There's no Gatorade waiting on the sidelines, although Kevin did continually replenish a cold washcloth for my sweaty forehead.

Nurse Jennifer eventually left when her shift ended, and Krystina (our nurse from the previous evening) came back in to finish out the delivery.

Side note #4: Love and obey thy nurses. The good ones will help you through the entire process, and they will get to know you and your body perhaps more intimately than you do. Bring them some treats (like these cookie dough brownies that I made); they will appreciate the sugar!

The story gets pretty gory here, so I'll break it down quickly: I pushed for roughly two hours using a variety of contraptions - some wacky birthing bar, bed handles, a sheet. It was hard. I did make funny faces and weird grunts. At some point, Kevin actually touched my bare foot, something he hasn't done in the 7.5 years we've been together because he hates feet. It look me birthing out a kid for him to touch my foot. Awesome.

After two hours of alternating between "I can do this" and "Holy hell, someone wheel me down for a C-section already", Charlotte decided to make her entrance at 7:55 p.m. I heard her crying, and Kevin yelled out something akin to "She's here!" and they put her slimy, adorable little body on my chest and the three of us snuggled in together.

To sum up the delivery: At one point, Kevin said to me, "Ok, you're done with the first 20 miles. Now you just have to run the last 6.2. You can do it."

In my haze, I angrily responded that that was a terrible thing to say to a runner mom who's in the middle of delivering a baby. The last 6.2 is the hardest, most terrible part of a marathon for me. Mentally, it put me through the ringer because I realized that I still had a lot of work to do.

Looking back, though, it makes sense. That last 10k is terrible, but it's terrible and you power through it and, at the end, there's a shiny medal and a cold beer waiting for you somewhere. Or, in this case, a sweet little nugget of a baby named Charlotte.