I had felt for a while that baby number five would arrive at least a few days ahead of schedule. I’m not sure if my body was telling me this or if it was just wishful thinking during such a difficult pregnancy, but I felt so certain about it happening. When I was 38 weeks and 4 days (Thursday June 11th) I had a check up with my OB. He checked for progress and found I was at 2 cm. I had no progress even up until 40 weeks with Jane or Alec (and maybe even Megan…I don’t remember…) and I took that as another indicator that things would happen sooner than later. My doctor did a sweep at this appointment, although I am not sure it was a full on sweep because it wasn’t as intense or painful as ones I had had with the other children. We discussed the option of inducing at 39 weeks, but neither of us really felt good about that plan, so nothing was scheduled. I made an appointment for another week and headed home.
I started to have some cramping and contracting that very day, but nothing that made me think labor was near. Off and on through the next few days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) was the same thing. Just random contracting at no regular intervals and with no real intensity. I was really hoping that labor might happen that weekend because Adam had so much going on the next week. He had been invited to give an astronomy presentation at our stake girl’s camp on Tuesday, and had big planetarium presentations at BYU both Wednesday and Thursday. Missing any of those events wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but of course we wanted things to work out so he didn’t have to miss them. But the weekend came and went with no activity.
Monday I was so defeated and ready to be done being pregnant. I tried to stay pretty active during the day. I took the kids to the splash pad and we also did a lot of outside play. More contractions, but again, nothing to make me think labor would soon be here. Tuesday I was super emotional. I was so ready to have my baby! Adam went to the temple in the morning and he worried through the entire session that I would go into labor while he was there. He decided afterwards that if he was stressed enough about being in the temple for 2 hours out of contact that he shouldn’t go up to girl’s camp since it was hours away and also out of cellphone range. I hadn’t had much of an appetite for a few days previously and found I was so hungry on Tuesday so we went to Pizza Pie Café for dinner. Throughout the evening I started to have more intense although not regular or painful contractions. We put the children to bed at 8:00 and I decided to get some laundry done and clean up around the house. At about 10ish contractions started and they were relatively strong. With both Alec and Jane I had regular and painful contractions every evening for several days before they were born so a big part of me thought even if things started up that it would be a few evenings of contractions before it was the real deal. It was quite stressful trying to decide if the baby was really on the way yet, especially because my mom wanted to be at the baby’s birth. With Alec I called her in the middle of the night and told her to come (from Vegas) under these exact same circumstances only to have Alec hang in there for 3 more days. So I waited to call her until I felt certain something was actually happening.
I had contractions every 10-15 minutes for two hours. They weren’t super intense but they had a little kick to them. Then one came at 9 minutes so I called my mom at 12:13am and told her I didn’t know if it was the real deal but I could go to the hospital and at least get checked and keep her posted. Adam and I contacted his cousin to come be with the sleeping children and headed to the hospital. By the time we pulled out of the driveway, at about 12:45am, contractions were at about 4 minutes apart and were starting to really hurt. Things honestly went from “maybe this baby will arrive in 3 days” to “this is happening and this is happening fast.”
We got to the hospital and got checked in and in a room a little before 1am. They checked me and found I was at 6cm, and contractions had slowed to about 6 minutes apart. They ordered my epidural and the anesthesiologist was there quickstyle. There were some complications getting the epidural to work, however, and it was a pretty awful experience. Because I have such severe back pain, I couldn’t hunch my back over enough to open up my spine so the needle could get into my epidural space. After multiple needle pokes, the doctor decided to have me lay on my side in fetal position with my knees up and my arms hugging my knees and my head in my chest. It was so awkward and uncomfortable. Not to mention the strong contractions I was having through it all. But it worked. Thank goodness. Because of my chronic back pain, I had been looking forward to the epidural since the day I found out I was pregnant (joking, not joking.) The anesthesiologist later told me he has only had that happen about 3 times. Lucky me.
Once the epidural kicked in I tried to relax while Adam got some work done. They checked me again a little after 2am and I was still at 6cm, “maybe 6 and a half” they said. I was content and confident my mom would make it in time. Adam dozed off and I tried to sleep but it never really came. At 3:30am the nurse came in and told me my doctor ordered poticin if we wanted but we said no. So she checked me again and I was still at a 6, which was fine with me because I wanted my mom to make it. She said there was some fluid when she checked me, but not enough for it to be my waters. At 4am my doctor came in to check me. He checked me and said my water was already broken and I was at 10 centimeters and it was time to push. I only know now that that is what he said. At the time I didn’t really process what he said and I thought surely I wasn’t ready to push since 30 minutes ago I was still at only 6cm.
Suddenly the doctor and the nurse were getting everything ready. I think I asked them what they were doing and what was happening and they were like “you’re having a baby. You’re at 10.” Next thing I knew the doctor was telling me to push. It seriously all happened so fast! I pushed once and they were like “wait, we need the baby nurse.” So they got the “baby nurse” and then they had me push again with the next contraction. Then the doctor said “okay, with the next contraction your baby will be here.” Then he said “or you can just push now if you don’t want to wait.” So I pushed and I felt her arrive. I love that part. Only thing is, she was very blue and wasn’t crying. I asked if she was okay and my doctor said, “let’s just have the nurse take a look at her.” So instead of handing her to me he handed her to the nurse. I said, “be careful with her. Please don’t drop her.” The nurse chuckled and said, “there’s a first for everything I guess.” It wasn’t long before they had her crying. The sweetest little cry (they told me later the cord was around her neck – just like my other 4 children.) Then they brought her right over to me and placed her on my chest. Baby Charlotte arrived 4 days early at 4:04am on June 17th, 2015.
At this point I started shaking and trembling something fierce and I kind of checked out mentally. My baby was here and she was perfect and healthy but it had happened so fast and I was struggling to process it all. I’ve always loved labor and delivery. It’s my favorite part of pregnancy (other than the baby obviously!) I felt kind of robbed of that time between 6cm and 10cm. 30 minutes? That’s seriously not enough time. At 10pm I wasn’t even sure if labor was really starting and at 4am I was holding my new baby. I was sad my mom had missed it and I knew she would be disappointed. And all the stress and worry for the health of my baby that had accumulated over the 9 months of pregnancy was now shifted to caring for this new tiny human. More than with Jane and Alec I had worried that Charlotte would be born sick like Jack. It was such a mixed feeling of fear and relief when she arrived. And as I lay there holding her, I was just so overwhelmed and emotionally and physically exhausted. I recognize now though that it was a very positive and wonderful birthing experience. After all, it’s beyond wonderful any time a baby arrives healthy and perfect. I often close my eyes and go back to that moment; the moment I laid shaking and weary and confused and holding my new child. But when I go back there and experience it again in my mind, I can feel the peace and joy and calm and closeness to heaven that I missed the first time. I hope those are feelings and a memory that will not soon leave me.
Once I pulled myself together I nursed Charlotte and spent some time discovering every little part of her. She weighed in at 7lbs 11oz and was 19.5 inches long. She had lots of light brown hair, with little splashes of blonde throughout. She had one of my dimples high up in her check and my tiny little mouth. She was squishy and pink and perfect.
Adam finally pried her from me and swaddled her tight and held her close. He sure loves his little girl.
My mom arrived about half past 6. I called her shortly after Charlotte arrived and told her baby was here and it was a girl I kind of wish I would have waited to tell her the baby was a girl so she could have been surprised when she met her. My mom was able to be there when the other children arrived, however, and got to see their excitement about getting a new sister. Adam brought them over at about 8am. They were so cute and sweet and I was on cloud 9 with my 4 sweet babies.
The children meet Charlotte:
I know this is plenty long but I would be remiss if I didn’t express gratitude for the timing of Charlotte’s arrival as far as the other children are concerned. I was so worried about who we would leave them with when the time came. Most of our close by family had to work during the day and I was worried how Alec would do with someone he didn’t really know. I was also worried about someone else having to take care of mealtimes or bedtime with my children because my kids are very particular about food and sleep routines. I prayed and prayed for the best case scenario. I specifically prayed I would go into labor in the evening, shortly after the children went to bed. The timing worked out beautifully that all the children were asleep and slept the entire time we were at the hospital and Adam arrived back home just 5 minutes after Alec woke up and both girls were still asleep. Alec also has a tendency to wake in the night and wants only his mama but he didn’t wake at all that night. Everything worked out so well. And I’m so grateful to Adam’s cousin Kristen who answered our late night call and had no problem coming over. And speaking of timing, Adam obviously missed the girl’s camp presentation, but he was able to make it to his two BYU lectures which was very important to him. Prayers answered all around.
Between my 5 children I have had so many different labor experiences. I have experienced the most wonderful and perfect labor as well as a very terrifying and awful labor and everything in between. But I can honestly look back at all 5 labor and deliveries with fondness and happiness and gratitude for the children I have been blessed with. Looking back I have nothing but positive thoughts, even for the emergency c-section and even though my Jack arrived so sick and didn’t make it. I marvel that I got to bring all these sweet babies earth-side and that they are mine for all eternity. I am so grateful that Charlotte is here and that she is perfect and beautiful and I will spend every day of my life keeping her safe and making her feel loved. Thank you for choosing us Charlotte. We love you too much.