It started the evening of March 27th. I guess technically it was March 28th, because it was just after midnight that the contractions started. They were 10 minutes apart, and I never woke Paul because I'm no stranger to early/false/long labors. It went on for about five hours and then stopped. When Paul got up for work I asked him how his schedule looked that day, and he immediately said "are you having contractions?" I told him about my night, but that I wasn't expecting anything to happen that day. The kids and I went about our day. A long walk, a stop at the farmers market, and a late breakfast at Coffee Bean. Paul and I took the kids to dinner that night, and during dinner I had a few random contractions. It was nothing worth timing, and that night I went to bed with no thoughts or expectations of a baby coming anytime soon. At 1 AM Saturday morning the contractions started again. Five minutes apart for four hours. They were really short but really intense. Kind of the way I would describe the earthquakes we were experiencing that whole night as well. I woke Paul a little after five, when contractions were getting as close as three minutes apart. Still always lasting less than a minute. By the time I got in the shower at 6 AM, it felt like one continuous contraction. I called my father-in-law at 6:30 and they headed right over. Paul and I were in the car on the way to the hospital by 7 AM. And just like my previous two pregnancies, as soon as I had a visual of the hospital everything stopped. I diagnosed myself with a made-up condition called shy uterus. I was on the monitors for about an hour and in that time only had three contractions. But I was having contraction coupling like I had with Garrett. A couple really short painless contractions in between the bigger ones. Two nights of false labor and my really painful morning, got me nowhere. I was only 1 cm and 50% effaced. None of my contractions were lasting long enough to make any progress. But they really really hurt, and I hoped that that would count for something.
I was home by about 9am. More contractions. Took a bath. Tried to sleep. We ended up going back to the hospital around noon, but not for me. Paul's family from out of town ended up in the hospital. Paul's cousin has some health issues and was admitted for a couple of days so we went to visit with him and the family. Apparently I looked really pregnant and in pain because when we got off the elevator a nurse said, "oh, umm... Are you?... Do you know where you're going??" I said, "yes, not in labor. I wish." I has contractions all. day. long. Sometimes three an hour. Sometimes one an hour. Sometimes 3 in ten minutes. Some would make me stop and hold on to something. Some I could talk right through. We all went to lunch. We went back to visit at the hospital more.
Finally at about 5pm we decided to head to the in-laws and pick up the kids. But on the way down the elevator I had a mini meltdown. I couldn't do this again all night. I asked Paul if we could make a stop in labor and delivery. Instead, we sat in the lobby and called our favorite L and D nurse who unfortunately had the day off. She talked me off a ledge. And just as we got off the phone with her, Paul's cousin was discharged and he and his mom needed a ride home. (Sorry, long and boring, but things like this I love reading and remembering all the details.) We packed them up and headed to the in laws. (We had to wait for the elevators to start working again to get him to the main floor after a couple of earthquakes.)
After being at the in-laws about an hour I went outside and called the on call doctor.
Remember when Addie was born and I said I always wanted a women doc but there was one in the team of docs that I really hoped wouldn't be on call when I had Addie and sure enough, it was her? Yeah, same story. But this time with the male doctors.
When I learned that morning that Dr. R had just come on and was on for the next 24 hours my heart sunk. Not only is California the c-section capital of America (in my opinion) Dr. R is the c-section king of the hospital I deliver at. When he got on the phone with me I fought back tears and told him about the day I'd had. He very matter of factly gave me two options. 1. Come in for a morphine rest. It will do one of three things. 1- stop everything and give you relief until whenever it starts again. 2- stop false labor and start real labor. 3- do nothing at all. And my second option. Be induced. And the first thing out of his mouth was. "Of course induction always raises the chance of a c-section." Those were the words I didn't want to hear from him. Don't jump right to that so casually! I broke out in tears after I got off the phone. Unfortunately Garrett and Addie saw me so I tried to pull it together. We said a family prayer and as Paul and I were walking to the car, Garrett ran out and gave me a big hug and said, "Good luck!"
The whole drive to the hospital I kept asking Paul what we should do. I knew I wouldn't be dilated because I was still having short sporadic contractions and it had been the same all day. But I knew if I got on a 'morphine rest' I'd be frustrated the whole time and just get more worn out, but I felt like if I didn't progress fast on pitocin, the doc would section me prematurely/unnecessarily. I think I was bouncing in the seat and praying for big bumps hoping my water would break on the way. No such luck.
I got checked in. And yes, shy uterus kicked in and nothing happened the whole 45 minutes of waiting. We finally got all hooked up and the nurse said, "ok, let me check you and then that will help you make a decision." I prayed, "please be a three, please be a three..." Then I got less picky, "please be anything but one, please be anything but one..."
FIVE. I WAS FIVE CENTEMETERS!! I was so happy. Within a minute the doc was in my room doing fist pumps into the air. He said, "This makes our decision easy. Lets get you in a delivery room a break your water to get some consistent contractions going."
So now, on to the birth story...
At 7:30pm the doc broke my water. Contractions started immediately and by 8:00 I was at a 6. I sat in a rocking chair for an hour and the pain got intense. I walked a little. Went to the bathroom. Swore a lot. Prayed a lot. At 9:15 I asked for an epidural. Or yelled or cried for one. The anesthesiologist was in a c-section and there was one other request ahead of me. So I grouned and swore until 10:30pm and finally got an epi. (That only worked on the left side for the first hour.) A couple of minutes after I got it, we had an earthquake. I think there were something like 200 earthquakes the weekend Charlie was born. And a couple dozen of them that we really felt and got a little freaked out by. Me getting meds is Paul's green light to fall asleep. He was out, and another earthquake hit. It really scared me, and Paul slept through it. I started to panic. What if 'the big one' hits and I'm totally dependent on others helping me if we have to evacuate?! I started to try and un-numb myself by wiggling my toes and trying to do kegels. It started to feel hard to breath. I tried to wake Paul and I started to pray. I instantly had peace come over me. My breathing regulated and I was able to relax and 'enjoy' the pressure of the contractions. I prayed a lot. I talked to Charlie. I thought a lot about my Grandparents and uncle who have passed away. I was completely surrounded by a calming and peaceful feeling. Paul finally woke up and prayed with me. I had very specific prayers during the whole process and God was very present and faithful throughout. One very specific was about my rib. I'd had constant pain for over three weeks. Some days were better than others. And some days it was nearly impossible to breath. As soon as my water was broken the rib pain completely stopped. All through labor and delivery I felt no pain in my ribs. And even now, almost four weeks later, the pain has never returned.
Back to my story... A minute later the doc checked me. I was complete! 10cm and 100% effaced. But baby was still a little high so we waited 45 minutes and checked again. During that time they gave me a little pitocin to lengthen contractions. The nurse checked me this time. Charlie was lower but she suggested we wait a bit more.
We'd really warmed up to the doctor. He's in the Lions club with Paul but is never able to attend because of his schedule so Paul had to remind him that he was in the club and they got talking about a few guys they both know. They made bets about what time I'd deliver, how much she'd weigh and how long I'd have to push. It was nice that the doc always had something to talk about/joke about every time he came in. Much different than earlier that morning and talking to him on the phone.
Dr R came in right after the nurse checked me and she told him she thought we should wait. Dr R kind of ignored her, and literally laid across the foot of the bed, got all up in there and checked me. He said, "ok, do half a push for me and let's see if she comes down." Sure enough, she did. "Let's get this baby out!" he excitedly shouted. Within a minute, he was scrubbing up, having a catch tray brought in, putting me in the stirrups, lowing the spotlight from the ceiling, and reminding Paul how to push up on my foot when I pushed. A contraction started and I pushed! Her head was out on the first push. The umbilical cord was around her neck a couple of times so he quickly cut it and suctioned for a second. I did a half push ad she was out. From, "It's push time!" To, baby on my chest, was less than three minutes. Charlie Raelene White entered the world at 12:45am on March 30, 2014. (Missed her due date by 46 minutes.) Weighing 7lbs. 11oz. and 20.25 inches long. (I question the length because a week later at the pediatrician she was 19.75 inches.) She was perfect, and she was a SHE! It still felt like a surprise, even though I'd been told that all along.
Aside from the rough couple of nights leading up to labor, she was the quickest and smoothest delivery yet. And even with all the pain and exhaustion, I still love going into labor. I love wondering when it will happen. I love having contractions at home and waiting for things to progress. It's so cool that our bodies just know when it's time, I just with mine would know, and keep knowing without assistance. But of course it's always worth it! I love this girl.