All images by Sam of Pierson Photo Company.
Charlotte’s birth story is real and really special to us. I’ll try to be completely honest because I believe natural childbirth is an incredible journey and story worth telling. I didn’t spare too many details, just so you know , but it’s her story and I hope to tell it with honesty and respect for her journey.
Our little Charlotte was due to arrive on Halloween, but she was ready to come into this world earlier and we were anxious to meet her.
On October 14th I climbed into bed, exhausted and mentally prepared for another restless night. With my Lottie filling up my entire abdomen I was having difficulty breathing regardless of how many pillows I crammed under my back, belly, and limbs. This night, however, started off more restless than others. At about 12:00 AM our little lady started to toss and turn in my belly like I had just washed down four cups of coffee with a 42 oz. Coke (I don’t drink caffeine so I’m suggesting that she was movin’ around…A LOT).
There was a one-woman circus going on in my tummy from 12:00 AM to 4:00 AM when the first hints of labor started to register in my sleepy head. While peeing for the 11th time that night I noticed some bloody show (sorry for the details, but this is a real birth story after all). I have never had any bleeding during pregnancy so I knew that something big was happening and I quietly rustled Clint awake to share the news.
“I think we need to pack for the hospital”, I whispered.
“Where’s the list?” he asked…ready to get the party started. I, like the neurotic organizer I am, had prepared a list of all items we needed for the hospital so that Clint could pack while I labored. He is a really good packer while I am in labor. Very thorough.
Almost immediately after I woke Clint, my Braxon Hicks intensified into real-life contractions spaced several minutes apart. In the dim lamp light we packed our bags and I paused for contractions. We deliver our babies using HypnoBirth techniques so during each contraction I try and relax every muscle in my body to allow the contraction and my body to work together throughout labor. When those contractions hit I would collapse onto the floor and ride it out. Picture me in my PJs on the floor of our closet/bedroom/bathroom every few minutes. It took me much longer to pack than Clint, naturally.
Bags packed I climbed in a warm tub to listen to Rainbow Relaxation (for anyone who does HypnoBirth, does her voice drive you as crazy as it drives me? “And now, it’s time, to relaaaax” ). After 45 minutes of imagining mists of color I could tell the contractions were intensifying in frequency and pressure. Once they became 60 seconds long with only 2.5 minute gaps in between each surge I felt a little bit of urgency to get out and get to the hospital.
I pulled on some clothes and we loaded our groggy little Liam into the car, dropping him off at our neighbor’s house around 6:00 AM. At 6:20 AM we arrived at the hospital, excited and ready to meet our girl. With Liam my water had broke at home so they checked us right into our labor room, however, with Charlotte my water had not yet ruptured so I was guided to triage where I labored from 6:30 to 7:45.
Checking into a hospital while you are laboring is kind of a comical experience. There I lay on a slightly inclined bed and answer dozens of questions about my health history, health habits, blood type, birthing history, and so on. They also monitor my vitals and the baby’s heart rate. But I am also pausing every 60 seconds to relax completely into a contraction. I imagine to the nurses it feels a lot like interviewing someone with severe narcolepsy. I also tend to be really goofy during the early stages of labor, telling lots of jokes that warrant courtesy laughs. I probably seem a little crazy and sleepy.
In triage they told me I was dilated to 5cm and 90% effaced. They also told me that my lab results indicated that I was Strep B positive and needed to receive one dose of antibiotics during labor. I was off to the labor and delivery room for 30 minutes of IV antibiotics. The hep-lock wasn’t my favorite part of labor, it’s kind of creepy and uncomfortable having a needle stuck under your skin for hours on end. While receiving antibiotics I remember complaining several times that I just wanted to get in the tub. Contractions were really starting to intensify and I began to moan through them, which helps a lot with the pain. From my experience with natural delivery, it is a journey in surrendering to your instincts. You have to let go of some social rules and just allow your body to take over the show. It’s a little scary to think about and an empowering accomplishment at the same time. I moan through contractions because that’s what my body tells me to do, even if it seems silly in retrospect.
At 8:30 AM I climbed into a warm bath and continued to labor from 5 cm to 7 cm. Clint sat at the tub side and poured cup after cup of warm water over my contracting belly. It felt good to labor in the tub, but only lasted until 9:00 AM because I began to convulse with something called labor shakes. This was a totally new sensation to me. Labor shakes are when your body kind of freaks out from all the changes that occur during labor. It felt like violent shivering without feeling cold. Then when I got out of the tub I was actually very cold and the nurses and Clint helped pile blankets on me until my shivering slowed. I remember questioning why I was shaking so much and saying something really smart like, “wow…this is trippy how much I am shaking!”
From 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM I labored hard sitting up in the hospital bed. The back of the bed sat straight up to support my back through contractions and they came powerfully for a solid hour. I sat at 7.5 cm for that long hour and then told my midwife to break my water to get things going. I wasn’t going to sit at a 7.5 any longer. She broke my water for me and suggested she “help me dilate” during contractions, which meant she would coax my cervix along when contracting. That, my friends, was in-tense. I went from a 7.5 to an 8 with her help, but I was anxious to get to a 10 and start pushing. At 10:00 AM I climbed on my knees and faced the back of the bed that was positioned straight up. Hugging the back of the bed, my contractions became so intense that I’m pretty sure I started to scream through them rather that moan. My midwife and Clint reminded me to lower my voice, which would help with the intensity. After 5 to 10 minutes of laboring on my knees I had reached 10 cm!
Then I felt the need to push. And when I say I “felt the need”, I mean that my body started to push without any mental permission from me. It was like a convulsion. Nobody and nothing could stop my body from pushing that baby girl out. This, by far, was the craziest part of delivering Charlotte. I pushed for only 5 minutes, and it was probably only 5-10 pushes total, but Charlotte was not a small baby and pushing her out really tested the limits of my mental strength. My body, however, was confident that it could bring her into the world. Good thing my body just took over.
At 10:19 AM Charlotte Paige Adams was born. She was 8 lbs 5 oz and 19.5″ long. She had chubby cheeks and chubby legs. Light brown hair covered her head and she had the longest pretty fingers. She was beautiful and very pink. She was immediately lifted to my chest and before they even cut her umbilical cord she was looking to nurse. Charlotte was just the perfect little delivery to our family.
Recovery for me was good. I required no stitches and I feel like that is one of the biggest blessings ever granted me.
I don’t think I could make it through labor and delivery without Clint. He is my biggest hero and supporter during those intense moments of labor. Something about bringing a new person into this world makes you more capable of loving others and loving them more deeply. I love Clint more and more as I watch him father our children.
We are truly blessed to have Charlotte as a part of our family!