Friday, March 23, 2012

Charli's Birth

Note: This is a post about giving birth and does include pictures (no naked pics), if that's not your thing, don't read!

I want to document the story of Charli's birth, while it's fresh in my mind and heart, for several reasons... The first being that I want to have it for her to read. Hearing my mom and grandma's birth stories have been incredibly special to me and is something I see as a part of our family's story.

Secondly, when you are pregnant reading birth stories is therapeutic. It gives you hope, that this baby will come out! And it gives you strength. Knowing that women you know and love, and women across the globe you've never met, have done this, their stories bring strength.

This story is a story of natural birth, at a licensed midwifery center. Charli was born in the water, making it a water birth. Tre's birth was very different. A more "typical" United States birthing experience. I was enduced, pitocin, epiduril, etc. And I was so happy. We had a beautiful baby boy. So this story is not to pass judgement on anyone who decides or needs to give birth in the hospital setting, as I am that woman as well. But when we found out that we were going to have another baby I knew I wanted to give birth differently than I had the first time. I wanted to feel empowered and in charge of my birthing experience. I wanted to be treated as normal. I wanted to feel as if pregnancy wasn't a disease, but something my body is made to do well. All of this lead us to Mountain Midwiferey Center in Denver. Which is where Charli was born.

Saturday March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. David was out of town until early evening. I had had a bad back ache since the night before and was debating whether or not to get ready for a wedding I'd been hoping to attend for about ten years! Around 2 pm David texted me and said he'd be home early, around 4, and to pick him up. I had a babysitter coming then and was excited he'd be home. We met at the airport and decided to call it an early night because I knew I was close. We went to the mall to buy a phone cover and walk the mall, by the time we made it to the Mac store my contractions were pretty regular, but still doable.
(You see, it's never too late to take a quick peek in Anthropologie!)
We then decided to walk to PF Changs across the parking lot for some appetizers, still just seeing what would happen. We sat at the bar. By this time we had begun timing contractions and they were about six minutes apart. I eventually had to stand at the bar because I couldn't sit through them anymore. At this point David got excited and started telling complete strangers that I was in labor:) which totally freaked the man sitting next to me who had earlier taken my chair because I insisted since I was standing! I eventually went and waited outside because I needed to walk. David got his food to go and we headed home to get our bags and Tre! We helped put the other three kids to bed and met my parents at the birthing center. Our babysitter stayed till Laurie could come and relieve her for night duty.

At the birthing center there are three rooms, I had picked my top two that I wanted to labor in. My top choice was the log room, but the tub was not warm in there. So we went to my second choice, the blue room. There was another woman laboring in the room next door and she was close to having her baby. I was feeling bad because Tre and all of us were there making noise. I ended up walking the stairs from about 9 pm to 2 am. (At some point we sent Tre and my parents home to sleep.) If I laid down, I could still rest. During this time I went from being three centimeters dilated to five centimeters dilated. I wasn't making very quick progress. So we decided, along with the midwives, to go home and sleep as much as possible because we would be having a baby within the next 24 hours, but it was slow. We decided to go to
my parents house, since it was closer and we had someone at home with the other kids. I spent from about 3 am - 6 am sleeping/breathing through contractions in my old bedroom. David and Tre slept upstairs. During this time I was dreaming that my mom was coaching me through
these contractions and ensuring me that these were just the little ones, and that I had to birth
these four smaller things before it would be time to have my baby. And she would just encourage me through the contraction, "keep sleeping Manda bear, keep sleeping, don't wake up!" I truly believe that because of these few hours of sleep I was able to tackle the hours that lie ahead! At around 6 am things had changed and I knew it was time to wake David. He called the midwife and they told us to come in. I think we got there around 7am. This time we were the only people there, and we went to the log room, my favorite room.

I think one of the reasons my labor stalled out a bit the night before is that I wasn't feeling completely comfortable, I wanted a certain room, and I didn't want anyone else there. So it worked out that I got to rest a bit, David got to rest a bit, and then we had my idyllic setting for giving birth when we returned. Over the next 6-9 hours I labored in the birthing center. I used big bouncy balls, mostly walking, and a birthing tub. At around 2 pm they decided to give me some herbs to help move me along (I had been at an eight for quite some time). The reason it was taking so long, and was extra painful was because Charli was "sunny side up" meaning her head was facing up, rather than back which causes things to move very slowly and results in back labor. We tried many positions at this point to get her to turn, she eventually turned her head a little bit, enough for her to completely move down and I could finish dilating.

Then came the hardest part. I had an anterior cervical lip as a result of her position, which just means that the cervix hadn't completely made it over her head, because it wasn't in the easiest position for it to do so. Usually this just requires the midwife to push it over the head as you push during a contraction. Unfortunately for me this part lasted for at least an hour and over several contractions because it kept slipping back over her head. (I was in the tub at this point.) This is the part where I "lost it". They talk about how at some point in labor you might "loose it" and this usually means that you are in transition and very close to having your baby. I always wanted to be that lady that silently breathes her way through labor, looking calm and almost meditative... Nope! The other night at dinner I asked Tre to tell Demetrius and Laila what I was like, he thought about it for a minute and then said, "kind of like a dying pig." Yup, that pretty much sums it up.
Thank God I'm not a Scientologist, I'd have been kicked out!

They decided to move me to the bed and break my water to see if that would help her change positions. As soon as they broke my water two things happened. Number one, they saw that there was meconium in the water. Most likely a result of the long labor. Number two, they told me they'd need to transfer me to the hospital in the next few minutes if the baby wasn't coming...This is the part that David told me he could tell was unusual. As soon as the midwife told me that, I just got up and said, "I need to move." I pretty much just ran to the tub. Afterwards the midwife told me she doesn't think she's seen anyone move so quickly at this stage of labor. I just had a bolt of adrenaline and knew what needed to be done. Seven minutes later she was born in the tub!
(This is the midwives catching her and pushing her through for me to pick up.)
I pulled her up out of the water and David and I went and laid in the bed with our new baby.

Tre and my parents were all there, and Tre joined us on the bed! It was amazing. We had learned about "the newborn crawl" and how if left alone on their moms belly, a baby will make their way to breast and begin to feed. Without bathing them they are still covered in the amniotic fluid and vernix, which quickly soaks into their skin and helps keep them moisturized. This smell also is the same smell as mom's colostrum. They will continue to find their hands, to smell/taste what they are looking for, until they find the breast. It was amazing to experience! And we just laid there and got to know our new baby, it was surreal, and the best part of the birthing center experience. Just getting to relax and experience our new baby without interruption or unnecessary things happening for a bit.

Tre got to "experiment" with the placenta. The midwives laid it out for him and explained all the parts to him, he measured it with legos, and touched it, and was so fascinated! He also brought it home to put under his microscope! (Side Note Treism: He told David on the way home as he was holding the baggie with the placenta in it that he couldn't wait to collect all the placentas from all the babies we will have and fill our house with placentas! David broke it to him that this was the first, and last placenta coming home to the PPP.)
At some point we decided to have Charli transferred to the hospital one block away for observation because her heart rate had remained a bit high. She and David were transferred there and my mom and I met them a few hours later. She was observed in the NICU for about 20 hours and then we came home!

As I begin to process this experience several things come to mind... First of all I felt so much closer to David. He was a rock to me throughout the experience and I know that I could not have done it without him. He was truly amazing. I really do feel so much closer to him as a result of the experience.

I also feel really proud of myself. I knew this would be the hardest thing I have physically done. And it was harder than even that. But I did it, and it was amazing!

I see God at work in so many of the details of the experience, when it happened, how it happened, everything. It reminds me that he cares so much for me, even in the little things! For instance, right after I gave birth the power went out, it was a HUGE wind storm and we were without power for a few hours. But this did not effect us at all. We were in a sunny room and it was late afternoon. And by the time it got dark, the power was back on. If I'd been in labor It would have been a different story because they couldn't have kept the tub warm, etc. (all emergency equipment is run by batteries so it wouldn't have been dangerous, just unnerving maybe.) Another thing that I see was God, is that I was able to labor all day long just me, in the birthing center. From the time I had Charli to the time the nurse was leaving the hospital after dropping me off to see her three mamas had come to give birth!

And lastly, I am so grateful to have a place like the birthing center where I was surrounded by women believing in me and my body and the power of birth. I felt so supported and empowered and safe in their care.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. So, when i left you 2 hrs. ago, your were going to nap, but you got literary instead. Tasteful, lovely pics (cept the placenta ;0) & Beautiful writing MandaBear...Mom

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I love you. Syd