Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Introducing Ms.Charlotte Reese

I have begun (began?) writing this more than once, and the truth is it was incredibly hard to write. In the days surrounding Charlotte’s birth, we were of course excited. And I was eager to sit and write about this exciting roller coaster we had finally exited. But as I sat next to her isolette in the NICU, I couldn’t not hold her (thus I couldn’t be on the computer, writing her birth story). I couldn’t be okay with being away from Liam, and choosing not to suck in every moment I had with her.  Then, reality set in. I realized she wouldn’t be coming home in 10 days as Liam had, and I didn’t want to think about it. I pushed the memories of her birth out of my mind. It was incredibly painful to rehash it all. So I didn’t, for a long time. I just focused on getting her home & now that she is here I can finally sit and write. Probably a version that is quite distorted from it's reality, the version that my brain has allowed me to remember…..

How is it that someone accidentally has an early baby at home? I promise I’m not an idiot…. Let me explain….

Telling Shane:

It was about summer time when Shane and I decided we felt it was right to start trying for another baby. It took us longer than expected to get pregnant with Liam, so we figured we had a couple months of trying a head of us. I was shocked to find I was pregnant so quickly, but very excited to share the news with Shane. It was about fathers day, so I tried to hold off until the day but couldn't. I ran out and bought Liam a "Big Brother" t-shirt and then I snuck off and took a picture of him in his shirt. I played it off as an "early Father's day present"  and made a photo book with Liam and himself from birth up until now. On the 2nd to last page I wrote, "You're such a great Daddy I think it's only fair...". and on the last I put a single photo. The picture of Liam in his t-shirt with the writing "that in 9 short months I get to share"  with a "sticker" that said "due Feb 2015".  I told Shane that I wasn't pregnant, to throw him off so he had no idea and was pretty shocked. Best part is that I caught it all on video, so we will have it forever. 

The pregnancy:

This pregnancy had a lot of challenges. Not the typical pregnancy woes but different medical issues. About 17 weeks pregnant I started to get Braxton hicks. I would have upwards of 15 an hr. This was odd for me since I never got one Braxton hick contraction with Liam. About a week before, I started taking progesterone shots to help avoid having another early baby. Saturday night was a weekly ritual of me waiting until 10 at night or, as late as I could put the shot off, and then prepping everything as I told Shane I was ready. I’d say “okay” and breath out, and he knew to quickly give me my shot. Over time the shots became much easier to recieve and I became more okay with them, though I was definitely looking forward to reaching 36 weeks and receiving my last shot.  All was stable until about 24 weeks. I dealt with the Braxton hicks until they became pretty painful. I would get, this indescribable pain in my lower right back along with the tightening in my belly. This never lasted over an hour, thus I never went into L&D for it but I couldn’t walk or talk through them. On one occasion, I was helping my Shane run a staff meeting at work and this pain started. It was so painful I couldn’t even stand on my own to excuse myself from the meeting. I didn't want to cause a scene so all I could do was sit through the pain and try to appear normal. I discussed it with my Doctor and she upped a medication that I was on to control the “contractions”. At 28 weeks pregnant I had some bloody show and went into L&D to have it checked out. I ended up staying in the hospital for a few days at this point. It was always so frustrating going to L&D. There was always a different resident, who I would have to explain my whole slew of symptoms too. They rarely knew what uterine didelphys was, yet alone how to treat it. Literally, a nurse wrote it down once, and asked me how to spell it...and then i'm pretty sure she proceeded to google it when she left. Luckily, the resident who was about to send me home, spoke to the on call doctor who insisted I stay, and I was admitted. I received medication for the baby’s lungs as well as some other medication to help my uterus to relax. These steroid shots, honestly probably save Charlotte’s life. I can’t recall how dilated/effaced I was when I left the hospital. I started weekly appointments with my doctor and was put on bed rest. Throughout this time I continued to dilate and efface and weekly my medication was increased. I didn’t really have Braxton hicks, unless I was up too much, in which case I knew I needed to go sit down and relax. I did my best to keep up with it all, taking care of Liam, myself, the house work and work. I would allow myself 5 minutes at a time to stand and do the dishes, and then sit/lay again. Needless to say, it took awhile but I got pretty quick at doing the dishes ;).  At my last checkup I was 80% effaced and nearly 3 cm dilated at 32 weeks. I started to notice that I was having Braxton hicks again, and had been for about 3 days. This concerned me so I went into L&D for the 3rd time. I was there for about 3 hrs. I continued to contract the whole time. They felt like light menstrual cramps, which is how they usually felt. After the doctors watched me for an hr or two and decided that my cervix wasn’t changing and sent me home. I asked “So, I just have Braxton hicks?” and they said yes. I wasn’t given any medication to relax my uterus and was told as I was discharged “come back in, for pretty much any of the symptoms you came in for today.” …… really? You mean the ones that I am STILL having. It was super frustrating but at that point I was being told by the doctors that I was fine. So, I cautiously believed them. During all of this it was hard to get the doctors to take me seriously. I most often saw a resident and because of my uterine didelphys I am not a “typical case”. Often they would look at my cervix and say I was closed, even though I knew I wasn’t. Until finally they would check me and realize that I indeed was not closed, and everything was not fine. 

The delivery: 
(Just fair warning, this might be full of TMI….so if you aren’t comfortable hearing about things that happen leading up to or in labor…stop reading here)

Fast forward 3 days… I continued to have Braxton hicks. It was New Year’s Eve and my brother invited us up to Layton to spend the night with him and his in-laws. We accepted the invite and spent the night eating and playing games. That night on the way back to my brother’s house (we were staying the night so we didn’t have to drive an hour back to our house so late at night) Shane and I discussed how different 2015 would be and how weird it was that we would be having a baby this year. We didn’t realize how soon into 2015 that would be. That night we stayed up until nearly 3am chatting and joking with Ryan and Julie (my brother & sister in law). The next morning I woke up at about 7:30 am. I laid there a minute and realized that I was having some “Braxton hicks”. This was not untypical. I woke up almost nightly with “contractions” just like this, especially before I was put on the Procardia. I got up to use the bathroom, since I knew having a full bladder usually made them worse. When I used the bathroom I noticed the TINIEST amount of bloody show. I mean LITERALLY … a dot. The only reason I noticed this was because I seriously looked every time I used the restroom because I was completely paranoid about having this baby early. It was such a small amount I thought maybe my cervix had just been irritated some how, and that all was fine. I let Shane know, and he told me to get some rest. It was about this time that I decided I should try to time my Braxton hicks and see if they were close at all and if they tapered off after an hr. I hated timing Braxton hicks. I became crazy over analyze woman and it drove me nuts. Is that one, no? did it stop yet? Wait I think I feel one.... Again, I was in and out of sleep. I figured it was the best way to not over analyze the situation.  When ever I would wake up from one, I would start the timer, then fall back to sleep when it ended.  My very first thought when I woke up this time was “get up and go to the hospital now, this is real” I thought nahhhhh. I had thoughts like this often and was constantly in a state of paranoia of what was real and what was just “normal” for my situation. Eventually, I realized it had been an hour and my belly was still getting pretty tight and I was uncomfortable.  It felt like menstrual cramps but again I often had Braxton hicks that felt this way. I was again in and out of the bathroom checking to make sure I wasn’t bleeding more… I wasn’t. There was nothing. At this point I was constantly needing to relieve my bowels. I knew this was a sign of early labor. I came out and sat on the bed where Shane was sleeping. I let him know how I was feeling, and asked what we should do. After some chatting I let him know that I was mildly uncomfortable and that I REALLY felt we should go in. Ryan and Julie were still asleep and he didn’t know what to do with Liam, who was currently sleep next to us. I said “wake them up!”. Neither of us really knew what to think since these “symptoms” happened to me pretty often. We didn't want to cause a big situation over nothing. About this time Liam woke up. I sat and cuddled him for a bit. That's how okay I felt.... good enough to just sit and hang out with my 2 year old.  Shane SLOWLY started to pack up our bag that we had brought since it was sprawled out on the floor along with the toys from the kids from the night before. I was getting annoyed a bit because I didn’t know why he was cleaning, when I told him I needed to leave.  I was again in about out of the bathroom.  I went back and sat on the bed, and realized how much pressure I had with each contraction. Shane was up stairs, I think getting Liam some breakfast. I went to the stairs, I could see him in the kitchen from the basement. “Shane, we really need to go” I said this calmly but with a seriousness to my voice, trying to convey the seriousness to him. I went in the bathroom again to check on things. Still no more blood. At this point, I recall looking myself in the mirror and becoming really scared for a moment. I thought I was in early labor, and I didn’t know if I could do this without an epidural.  If this is what early labor felt like, what did late labor feel like? (I believe this was most likely transition). Ironically, I had this EXACT thought with Liam after my water broke. I thought I was in early labor, and then came to realize I was ready to push. It should have dawned on me…but it didn’t. I took a deep breath & came out of the bathroom. I was rocking through a contraction as I held my belly. Shane walked down the stairs to wrap up our belongings. I told him that we needed to leave and that we could not go to our hospital in Murray. It was about an hour away and I wanted the hospital to be able to stop what was going on. I didn’t think in an hour that would be an option, I still believed I was in EARLY labor and things could hopefully be stopped. It was at this point, when I told Shane we would need to go to the nearby hospital, rather than our hospital that he realized this was different than the times before. Ryan saw me and asked if I wanted a blessing before I went in. I did, but I wanted to leave more. Instead I said “it’d be nice”. He disappeared upstairs to look for some oil. I was thinking to myself that I didn’t know if I had enough time for a blessing. It is probably a good thing that he offered, and that I agreed. I’m almost certain we would have been in the car when I had her if I hadn’t. I couldn’t wait for Ryan to come back.  I went back to the bathroom AGAIN, where I had another contraction. At this point I believe they were about two minutes apart, I had a ton of pressure would think hypnobirthing scripts to myself just long enough to get through them. I felt a “pop” and my water burst with my next contraction.  I put my head in my hands and sat there for a few moments taking in the reality…or what I thought was reality. I was incredibly upset because I "knew" that this meant another Liam scenario. I’d be bunked up in the hospital for two weeks and then induced, not able to see Liam because of current hospital regulations.  I thought I was JUST starting labor, not that I was ending it. I called Shane. Nothing, no answer. I felt alone. Water flooded my eyes. I was so scared for this baby, and upset with myself. I screamed as loud as I could muster through my tears  “SHANNEEE!” He came running.... he said he knew, even though he barely heard me…He opened the door and through my sobs I let him know my water broke. He told me it was okay and that everything would be alright. That we would head to the hospital. Later he told me he felt so bad for me, that when he saw my face, I looked as if I felt like I had done something wrong.  I don’t remember when I realized or what happened but I said to Shane “She’s coming out” and then immediately yelled “CALL 911!!” He poked his head out of the bathroom and yelled to call 911 again. Shane told me later how quick my demeanor changed in the moment. From incredibly sad to "mommy mode". I knew I had to suck it up and do what I needed to do for this baby. I was no longer sad, just worried and knew I had to get her out. My most distinct memory of the entire birth is this memory right here.  I remember seeing the top of her head, and that’s when I yelled to call 911, then I placed my hand on her head and protected it as it came out with the next contraction. I vividly remember how her tiny wrinkled head felt in my hand. It's odd the things your brain chooses to recall. Shane saw her head and ripped my pants off to help make room for her to come out.  I even believe he might have said, “well these are coming off, or get these out of the way”… or maybe he just told me he thought that after I honestly can’t remember. Julie came into the bathroom. I remember she apologized for coming in the bathroom (we had many previous talks about delivering babies and she knew I never wanted other people in the “delivery room”) I remember thinking it was so funny that she thought I would care in that situation. I told her “it's fine” but I’m not sure if she heard me or not, but it was incredibly kind of her to think of my wishes in that moment. This next part is all kind of a blur and I’m sure there a billion tiny details that I am leaving out. Julie told the dispatcher “the head is out, the head is out” Next thing I knew she was out. Shane and I were both holding her. The cord was wrapped two times around her neck. It was so tight, she was limp and purple. I wasn’t scared in this moment, I just knew we had to help her. From my angle I couldn’t tell which way to move the cord in order to get it off and I felt like my hands were in the way so I handed her to Shane. Shane unwrapped the cord and she immediately took a big cry and then she fell silent. He handed her back to me because Julie let us know the dispatcher said to leave the baby with the mom. Shane and I both started to rub her chest in order to get her to cry more. Julie told we needed a towel & yelled up to Ryan to get one. It seemed like it was taking forever to get a towel. Shane impatiently started to grab one out of the hamper that was a foot away from us. “Don’t use that! It’s dirty” Julie told us. Finally we got a towel and I wrapped her in it. Julie told us the operator wanted us to tie off the cord. During all of this my “birth wishes” were coming into my mind, but I wasn’t in a place to disregard medical advice and was just following everything they told us in order to keep her alive and safe & I was more than fine with that. Julie was looking for a shoe lace in the bathroom drawer. Open, close,  Open Close. I distinctly remember her yelling “ I need a Shoe lace”. I can still hear her yelling those words in my head. Shane took off his shoe and took the shoe lace out. “here, I got one” He asked how tight and how high to tie the string. Throughout all of this I continued to just watch her and rub her. She looked gray. I remember saying, “They need to get here”.  The entire 911 call was 5 minutes. It started seconds after yelling to call 911. It took about 2 to 3 minutes from my water breaking, to me holding her in my arms. And only 1.5 minutes into the call. At some point after she was born Liam poked his little body into the bathroom. “Baby!” he said and pointed , and was soon pulled away by my brother who was watching him for us. I was so glad he at least got to see her. When the paramedics arrived the house was immediately filled with people and about 10 men came into the bathroom. A Paramedic knelt next to me and started asking a zillion questions. He handed me an oxygen mask and told me to hold it up to her face.  While I did this he grabbed two clamps and put them on the cord. He stared to cut it with a disposable scalpel. I remember thinking “wait, can’t Shane cut the cord?!” I felt so bad because he didn’t get to cut Liam’s cord and now he wasn’t getting to cut hers either. It didn’t dawn on me that, he just delivered his child and that was way more than cutting a cord. There was one woman paramedic who had her head poked in the bathroom, but I don’t remember what she was saying.  The paramedics had a large paper-cloth like envelope that they put Charlotte in , and then re-wrapped the towel around her. They then took her. At some point, I guess when they took her, Shane left the bathroom. I remember him poking his head back in telling me he was going to go with her. “I’m going to go with her, okay?...” He was talking to me like a child. Trying to make sure I was okay with it. I said okay but again I don’t think he heard me.  In my head I was saying “DUH, GO”.  The paramedics struggled with all of this next part. I had torn. I was in more pain at this point than I had been during the entire birth, and they were all men…and probably didn’t deal with early home deliveries all too often. They finally got everything situated and me into a chair to carry me out to the ambulance. The end of the cord hung from the chair, and dripped watered-down blood on the white carpet as they walked me out. “uhh, you’re dripping blood” I was so concerned about their carpet haha. I was incredibly frustrated because I was in pain, they were taking FOREVER, no one would take the placenta and half-filled sac of water out from between my legs and the paramedic kept trying to crack jokes. Why yes, I would love to shoot the breeze and laugh with you while I wonder if my premature baby is still alive. I honestly think he was trying to get me to talk more, because I’m sure it appeared that I was in shock. I very well might have been, though in my head I was totally coherent, I was just keeping my mouth shut so we could speed this process along. I even recall thinking to myself “ I should probably talk more because they all must think I’m in shock”…. But I didn’t It was too much work and I was in pain.  During the ambulance ride, I called Shane to check on the baby. (I guess everyone thought that was funny that I would do that?) He said she was doing just fine and breathing on her own. They were almost to the hospital. The paramedic offered me medication, which I refused. Then he proceeded try to put it in my IV. I again told him I didn’t want it, and he agreed. Julie was nice enough to come with me in the ambulance so that I wasn’t alone. It was nice to have a familiar face while I waited for Shane.  The doctor came in and FINALLY removed the placenta. AH! It was seriously like a miracle haha. All I wanted the whole time was for someone to take it out. Thank heavens.  Shane came in and brought me a video of Charlotte.. It was great to see her cry.  I think it was at this time that I finally found out, that was was born at 10:28 am, 16.5 inches long and 3lbs 14 oz. Later we found out that she was actually 3lbs 15 oz, after (for some reason) they re weighed her. The doctor came in and checked me out. Offered to stitch me up… I said no. I think she charged me 600 bucks to pull the placenta out. Shane and I knew we had to tell our families. We knew they would never believe us…. It was seriously like a movie…this doesn’t happen in real life.   I had to wait about an hour before they let me see Charlotte. And I only got to visit for about 15 minutes. I can’t recall why, I think because they needed to check me out again… But I was able to go back down later.

Refection/Looking back:

Later Shane and I of course discussed the events of the day and replayed it again and again in our conversations. Analyzing every sign and everything that was said.  I felt incredibly guilty. I previously had the thought, that if I were to go to Ryan’s house on NYE, that the baby would be born and stuck in MCkay dee.. I didn’t feel like I shouldn’t go… I just thought it as a fact. I wish I would have listened. I wish I would have listened when I had the thought to the hospital that morning…but I didn’t. But things happen for a reason. Shane even thinks, maybe being born saved her life. I’m not sure how it all works exactly, but the cord was wrapped so tightly around her neck, that if that is how it was in the womb she would not have made it.  This is comforting to think… maybe it did happen for a reason, rather than to just think my body failed her..

This has been such an interesting experience. I felt so incredibly blessed and looked after, yet so bitter at the same time. It’s an interesting combination to feel, but Shane says he felt that way too.  There were very very hard days. Some days I would just repeat to myself over and over “ I am blessed, I am blessed, I am blessed” I knew I was blessed. My baby girl was alive… what more could I ask for. I was so terrified of God thinking I was ungrateful. I pleaded that he would know the true feelings of my heart, and have patience and understanding with me as I was still upset and bitter.  I still suffer with a TON of guilt. Because of the way my body is made, because maybe I didn’t eat good enough with my gestational diabetes, because maybe I did too much on bed rest, because I sometimes forgot to take my medication on time….It's hard to not feel responsible. But, I just try my best to soak in every moment I have with this precious tiny baby, and to be grateful that at least I have two babies….when some can’t. At this point, Shane and I don’t know if we will have more children. Which is incredibly hard to swallow. But in moments when I feel slighted or alone, I just again think “ I am blessed, I am blessed, I am blessed”. …Because I am. 

Shane and I actually both really enjoyed the experience of having him deliver her. I feel that regarding the circumstances, we were both pretty dang calm and handled that situation with ease. If we were ever to have future children I would love to some how repeat this, in a PLANNED manner...though i'm not sure that will happen. The reason we WERE fearful in this instance, was because of her 32+5 week gestation. ( I actually thought I was 33 weeks the day I delivered her, but I guess my calculations were off) On the 29th of January, at about 9 pm....After 4 weeks of two hours of daily commuting, and endless hours sitting in the NICU we got to bring Ms.Charlotte home. Liam is a fantastic older brother and loves her so much. She was on oxygen for a few more weeks, but today we got to send the oxygen tanks away. It was a good day :) So many miracles have touched our lives over the past few weeks. I am so indebted to the Lord and grateful that everything has worked out as it has.

Here is Charlotte just a few minutes after the paramedics arrived and before she left the house.  You can see see the pale yellow "envelope" they put her in, and the blue towel we wrapped her in (which we saved) I'm so glad someone thought to take a picture. She was 3lbs.15oz here.

This is Charlotte just a few days after we brought her home from the Nicu at 1 month, heading to her first doctors appointment.  She weighed 5 lbs 10 oz here.
And here is Charlotte on her due date, a week and a half ago when she weighed 6.11.  4 days ago she was 6 lbs 15 oz... so I'm sure she is about 7.1 or 7.2 by now! Crazy how she has grown!

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