|Her first close up. She's so pretty! We think she favors Zachary quite a bit, but definitely see some Eli features in her as well.|
When I announced her arrival on Facebook, I also promised the story of her birth. I've not meant to drag it out, we've just been busy and tired so I'm finally getting around to it. It's nothing like Zachary or Eli's labors (which were quite different from each other as well). So here goes, the story of Charlotte Grace's arrival:
Because my blood pressure had been high for a couple weeks, my OB (Dr. Frances) wanted to induce labor. He felt it was safe for me and the baby since I would be just over 38 weeks along at the time of induction. I was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday night to begin a medicine to get my body ready to labor. The medicine (Cytotec) was to start thinning my cervix overnight so that Pitocin could be started in the morning which would get the contractions started. When we got to the hospital and the monitors were attached, we found out I was already contracting. I knew I'd had some contractions, but hadn't felt anything regular. These contractions were about every 3-6 minutes but they were not strong at all. My first dose of Cytotec was at 9pm. I was supposed to have another at 1am, but my contractions were showing up very close together. I was still only 1 centimeter dilated. They skipped the second dose of Cytotec in hopes that my contractions would either get stronger on their own or relax and have more time in between. I was still contracting through the night so Pitocin was started at 4am. I also got my first dose of penicillin because I had tested positive on my strep test (very common).
Dr. Frances came in about 9am and broke my water. I was two centimeters at that time and still contracting, although they weren't all that strong. He hoped that breaking my water would help get the process going more naturally and the contractions would get stronger. During my two previous labors, breaking my water made a huge difference in how much I felt the contractions and how quickly I progressed so we assumed the same to be true this time.
Not so much.
We spent the day waiting for progress. It came, but very slowly. I rested, I turned from side to side, I walked some in the room, I made many trips to the bathroom, I sat on a medicine ball, I ate jello and drank broth, I watched a lot of tv, I talked with my boys who were both there as well as other family members, I assured anesthesia over and over I didn't need an epidural (truly I didn't yet), and we waited. My Pitocin was adjusted higher and lower throughout the day as my contractions would get too close together and then fade off some. Overall my blood pressure was doing very well, but we had started this process and couldn't abandon it now! By 5pm, eleven hours after the Pitocin begain, I was four centimeters (sigh). I was starting to feel defeated, but also knew we were getting there. This was nothing like the labors I'd had with Zachary or Eli. I was getting very tired by then so I laid in bed for a while in an attempt to rest between the contractions I could feel. Of course I'd been closely monitored throughout the entire process and when my nurse came in at one point she said, "With the level of Pitocin you're on you should be doubled over in pain, not sleeping!" I laughed and said I couldn't fake it. Some changes were made to my Pitocin and the contractions got stronger. A lot stronger. And more regular. I was actually feeling them every 2-3 minutes. By 7pm I was ready for my epidural. I was still 4cm but the strength and regularity of contractions in addition to the fact that I'd been laboring for nearly a full day were starting to wear on me. And I still had 6cm to go and then would get to start "work" by pushing. Yes, epidural me up so I could rest a little and get ready for the event.
Dr. Graber came in and got my epidural done pretty quickly. After that I laid on my side for a while and was able to rest. No sleep but I did rest. At 9pm the nurse checked me and I was 4cm. Seriously, still a lousy FOUR?!? But she said the baby was lower and I was thinned out so she hoped things would move a little quicker. By then I was seriously doubting we'd have a baby on the 22nd. At that point I would be happy with a baby on the 23rd and to not drag it out any longer than that!
Nurse Erica checked me again at 10pm and even before she said anything I could see relief on her face. I was six centimeters! In one hour I'd gone two centimeters. It had taken 24 hours to get the first four but by golly we were on our way. Even with the epidural, I could feel some pressure in my abdomen that went along with contractions. But that's all it was, was pressure. Definitely no pain. The nurse came back to check on me a little after 10:30. I was annoyed initially that she wanted to check me so soon because I was comfy and wanted to rest more. She said she thought I was getting close based on the baby's heart rate and my contractions. I didn't argue with her but was thinking a sarcastic "sure I'm close!" Well, I was wrong and she was right.
She said, "It's time to start pushing, baby's ready." She called other nurses into the room and in no time they had my bed changed to a delivery bed, stirrups up, the doctor called, and I was given orders (nicely!) to give my first push. Then during the second push Erica told me to stop pushing. Now I had no idea how hard it was to stop pushing in that state, but somehow I followed instructions and stopped. In a calm but firm voice Erica looked at another nurse and simply said, "Call him again." Then she looked at me and Bryan and told us the baby was very, very close so we were going to wait until Dr. Frances got there before pushing again.
So we waited. It was at least thirty seconds if not a full minute of waiting. Then Erica said, "Baby's not waiting. Here we go, give me one small push." So I pushed again and out came our baby! The umbilical cord was around her neck one time. Erica announced it was a girl and laid her on my chest. Bryan and I both thought she was so, so tiny! As I held our daughter for the first time, Dr. Frances walked in. It was probably two minutes after her arrival and less than five minutes from the first phone call to him. I teased him that he was determined not to deliver any of our children (he's been my OB for all three pregnancies but I went into labor with Zachary and Eli on days he wasn't at the hospital so his associate delivered them...I had joked with him in the office that this baby was his last chance to deliver for us!).
After nearly 26 hours of labor, our daughter couldn't wait four minutes for the doctor to arrive.
Everything went beautifully and smoothly. No one was panicked in the room and there were several nurses available. I did notice that my child chose to make her appearance right at shift change so at least there were several nurses on the unit at that time to help out. Dr. Frances clamped the cord and Bryan cut it as he had with his sons. After baby got wiped down a bit and things were ready, Bryan got Zachary and Eli from the waiting room. We had promised they would be the first to find out if they had a brother or sister and then they got to tell the rest of the family. The last update our family had from us was that I was six centimeters at 10pm, so when Bryan came out to get the boys, they were a little shocked.
Zachary and Eli saw their sister, but of course couldn't tell if she was a boy or girl just by looking. Zachary had wanted a girl very badly and Eli wanted a boy (unless you asked him if he wanted a brother or sister, then his answer was sister...he didn't quite get it!). So when we told them they had a baby sister, they were ecstatic! Zachary immediately wanted to run to the waiting room and tell family, but we made him wait a little. After our first few minutes of us being a family of five, we let Zachary get our family. He promised not to say anything until they were all in the room with us and he did a wonderful job of not telling! Once everyone was in the room, Zachary said, "Eli, you tell them." Then Eli proceeded to say, "It's a baby girl. I have a baby sister!" He did it so well, it's like he rehearsed it, but it was just pure joy and happiness. At that point Zachary couldn't contain himself anymore and began dancing, saying silly things, and just being goofy. They were both exhausted and excited. Zachary got to hold her, Eli didn't want to, and then they both got to go home after a long day. Aunt Kendra said Eli crawled under the baby swing in the living room when they got home and he fell asleep there. Zachary went to sleep on the couch and neither boy made it to school Thursday morning (Zachary did go after lunch). But we didn't care. I'm sorry they were up so late and were so tired, but we needed them there when the event happened and they needed to be there. Our family deserves to be reminded there are plenty of good things that happen within hospital walls.
Dr. Cullen examined Charlotte on Thursday and declared her healthy. He asked if we wanted an echo which he would be glad to order simply based on family history. Because we initially thought Eli was healthy and took him home not knowing how seriously ill he was, we opted to have the echo. All our prenatal testing had good results, but now she was here and we could get better views of her heart. So it was done within the hour and read by Dr. Kumbar in Evansville (Eli's Evansville cardiologist). Everything checked out normal, as we expected but needed to hear.
Charlotte was overall very quiet and easily consoled although she exhibited a bit of a temper at times. She spent Thursday sleeping a lot and pooping a lot despite not nursing much. We came home Friday afternoon and she was still a very sleepy little thing. However, Friday night she was up a lot and nursing well. Saturday night went much better and she had a little more awake time through the day Saturday and Sunday. Tonight (Sunday) she had her first home bath. We put the baby tub on the kitchen floor and we all got to help hold the squirmy, soapy girl and get her cleaned up. Even Albert was right there. She nursed and has been sleeping for a while since then. As I'm typing, she's starting to stir and will probably (hopefully) wake soon for a feeding and then go back to sleep. She's been wanting held all night rather than sleep in her bassinet so we may try her bouncy seat through the night tonight. It will definitely help my sleep if that works out!
Since she's been home, Eli has gotten more and more comfortable with her. Even in the hospital he was enamored with her, but just didn't want to touch her. Now he can't walk by without rubbing or kissing her head. He thinks she should always have her pacifier whether she's awake, asleep, upset, content, or even nursing. He's fascinated that she doesn't eat food and he's been a big help with choosing the next diaper to use at a diaper change. Zachary has been a huge helper by being able to hold her for a few minutes so I can have my hands free. He's also been walking Albert more for us if we get the dog's harness on him (Albert has back problems and can be jumpy when being harnessed so we haven't let Zachary do that part yet). Albert is his usual helpful self when it comes to our babies. He loves them and wants to be in their faces all the time. He is also very wary of visitors and other people getting near his baby. We've got three good, protective boys for this girl ;)
I want to explain a little about how we chose her name. We had more trouble buckling down to pick names this time. With the first two, it was easy to chose their middle names. We had family names picked out and since both babies turned out to be boys, we used our dads' first names. We wanted this baby to have a name that meant just as much as Glen and Mark. But narrowing that down was tough this time since we knew this was our last time. There weren't family names we loved quite as much and it was hard to choose one side of the family over another. So we branched out. What meant a lot to us? To our family. Then it was clear. If this baby was a boy, his middle name would be Vincent after Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent. Immediately it felt right. It wasn't necessarily the name itself we loved, but what it meant for us. It was a way to honor all those individuals who have worked so hard in many different ways to keep Eli with us. Now the pressure was on. What if baby was a girl? What name was as special to us as Vincent? We couldn't come up with anything feminine that went with Charlotte (which we just happened to agree on). So, again, we thought about our journey over these last few years. Not just Eli's health, but also the loss of a pregnancy two years ago. What's gotten us through all the ups and downs we've endured? God's grace. And she became known as Charlotte Grace. We had also considered Faith, which is why we didn't announce a middle name on Facebook when I posted she had arrived. After sleeping on it and seeing her again, Grace felt more appropriate to us. She is another gift to us through His graceful goodness. So, no, it's not a family name but we put a lot of thought into it and her name is just as special to us as Zachary and Eli's names are.
Here are some pictures to go with Charlotte's story.
|My last belly shot as we headed to the hospital for induction.|
|Took a photo of my IV, or "tubes" as Eli calls it, to show him he's not the only one who has to have them.|
|Our last picture as a family of four.|
|Trying to get some rest after my epidural.|
|All three deliveries, Bryan has taken a picture of the clock in the delivery room when the baby is born.|
|Holding our daughter for the first time.|
|Eli checking on his baby sister...from a distance.|
|Zachary holding his sister for the first time.|
|Bryan holding his daughter for the first time.|
|Our family of five. Eli and I were talking to each other in this photo, but for some reason this was my favorite.|
|She doesn't look so tiny here, but she is an itty bitty thing...for us anyway!|
|Sleeping through her echo.|
|She has the longest toes! Just before I grabbed the camera, she had some of them laced together like she was praying with her feet!|
|The sign in her hospital crib.|
|Eli helped me get her dressed for our hospital discharge.|
|I love this hat on her! She's not too sure!|
|Does this crib make my baby look small???|
|First bath! And, yes, it was all hands on deck. Albert supervised while the rest of us washed her. Bryan washed her too when he wasn't snapping pictures of us!|
|Many hands make light work? Sure. But this many hands also resulted in a pajama change for Eli too as he soaked himself with all his help. It was fun....Charlotte wasn't sure, but it was!|
|The boys love helping with her.|
And there you go. That's the story of Charlotte's birth. She's a sweet little thing who is always up for a snuggle. She's the best four day old daughter I could have asked for! Thanks for checking in on us and for any prayers you've offered up during my pregnancy and labor. As you can see, things have turned out well. God bless all of you for keeping up with us and remember to cherish Every Little Beat...