Thursday, March 5, 2015

Charlotte's Birth Story

As the sun was setting last Saturday evening, the very last thing on my mind was having a baby. We were in the middle of a winter storm, and our Saturday wasn't going to be a typical one. Eric had agreed to host the Lincoln Day dinner in Chester, IL that evening and I was staying home with the kids and preparing for a Sunday School lesson that I was set to teach the next day. My biggest concern was Eric getting home in one piece that night on the deteriorating roads and whether or not I should really put a ton of extra effort into the craft I was prepping for - church services would surely be cancelled the next day.

The night wore on, the storm got worse, and after all of the kids had drifted off to sleep Eric finally walked in the door. It had taken him an hour to get home - twice as long as it should have, but he made it! We were ready to bunker down and spend the next day snowed in at home with the family. It would be the perfect day for the kids and I to finally put together the "Welcome Charlotte" sign that we had bought all of the supplies for and do all of the last minute projects that needed to get done. Both Eric and I stayed up much later than usual that night, and it was after midnight before I called it a night and went to sleep.

Just a couple of hours later I was awoken with an annoying cramp. "Really?" I thought. "I just want to sleep!" I rolled over and tried to drift off, but another wave hit just then...over and over...and these cramps were seriously annoying. It didn't occur to me in the least to think that this was labor. Natural labor just doesn't happen to me. But then...ouch. These didn't seem like my normal contractions, either.

After about thirty minutes of tossing and turning I remembered the storm outside. I got out of bed and looked out of our living room window. There was at least six inches of snow piled on top of our van. The roads had not been touched. It was a winter wonderland. And then another contraction. And the internal struggle began. Should I wake up Eric? Is this the real thing? What if it isn't? I'll feel like an idiot. What if it IS? Then I don't want to wait. Of course she would come tonight!

I didn't debate long. I crept into the bedroom holding my stomach and shook Eric awake. It was about 3:00am at this point.

"Wha wah?" said a startled, groggy Eric. He took out his ear plugs. "Wha's going on? Are you okay?"

"No," I said. "I'm having a lot of contractions."

Eric immediately picked up his phone to start timing my waves of pain. I have to admit at this point that I was still in denial. I was trying to do everything I could to stop the contractions, to will them away. I ran some bathwater and got inside. This always works! A nice relaxing bath would surely make the pain subside and we could all go back to sleep and laugh about it in the morning. But the contractions didn't stop. I was calling out to Eric from the bathroom the stop and start of the contractions...along with a lot of "Ow ow ow ow..."

I got out and Eric and I just stared at each other. What do we do?? Call the hospital? Call our parents? Both of us were so hesitant in the middle of all of the mess outside to make the call, but by this point I was dropping on my hands and knees in pain with each contraction. Instinctively this was the only thing I could do to get through them. We had no hospital bags packed, nothing ready. The car we had planned to take was buried in snow.

"Should I start the van?" asked Eric.

"No, no time," I said. "We'll take your car."

In true Eric fashion he proceeded to take a shower while I dashed around packing things in a suitcase. His gym bag that had all of his regular supplies to get ready for the day would suffice for him. I was running around, dropping down to my hands in knees in pain, trying to do something with my gnarly hair, running around some more...and then it occurred to me that Eric was still in the shower. I opened the bathroom door and there he was just standing there under the water.

"Are you almost DONE?" I called out.

"Yeah yeah," he said.

In the moments following that, between contractions, I promised him that I would never let him forget the night that I was writhing in pain while he was in the shower enjoying the "cascading water falling all around him." Haha...we laughed before I doubled over once again.

Soon after, Eric's dad showed up to stay with the kids while we packed the car and began the journey to the hospital - one of the longest car rides of my life. Our hospital is an hour away on a good day. Thankfully there are about three other hospitals on the way to ours, because in the moment both of us would really appreciate if I didn't have to deliver this baby in the car, in a snowstorm, on the side of the road. :)

As we pulled out of the garage we could see our tire tracks in the freshly fallen snow on our driveway...and they were deep. We crept along our side street and made it to the was just as bad. At one point we found ourselves behind a snow plow which was both a blessing and a curse. It slowed us down but made the road we were driving on much safer. The last thing we needed was to end up in a ditch.

About thirty minutes into our drive Eric said he could distinctly tell my moans of pain had changed. I was gripping the handle over my head and facing the window with every contraction, calling out to the good Lord above to make it all go away. One thing I will interject here - real labor, while totally painful, has nothing on the contractions I've felt with an induction. Both hurt, but real labor has a wonderful reprieve of time in between, whereas my drug-induced contractions always came relentlessly one right after the other. I was just so thankful for those few pain-free minutes in between in the car. (And dreading the rise of pain with each new wave.)

An hour into the drive we had reached the row of hospitals. As we approached the exit to each one Eric asked, "Do we need to stop here?"

"No," I would say. "Unless my water breaks, just keep going!"

It ended up taking us two hours to reach St. Luke's. Two long hours of contractions in the car. But I didn't care. I was happy that we made it. We got out, found our way through the maze of hallways to the elevator, and then neither of us could remember which floor the maternity ward was on. We went to the very top and started working our way down...getting out a couple of times only to discover we had guessed wrong. I was in serious pain at this point, hardly able to walk at all. "Just get me to the right floor!"

Finally we found it and were quickly taken to a room. As soon as my nurse walked in she asked me my level of pain but didn't really need an answer. She knew we were in business, haha. I put on that hospital gown so fast and got into the bed. They checked me and I was already at an eight. AN EIGHT. Within thirty minutes I was getting my epidural, the doctor was on her way, and all of the baby gear had been wheeled into my room. Charlotte would definitely win the prize for the fastest delivery.

Thank goodness the epidural worked this time! Both Eric and I were extremely relieved when the lady who walked in to do the procedure was not the same one who had botched two other attempts (with Evelyn and Reagan.) I don't know what kind of magic this woman had, but the epidural hurt less than the IV that had been put into my hand just a few minutes before, and almost instantly I was able to relax.

Eric always snaps a post-epidural picture, haha. At this point I was signing paperwork for things that had already been done, because I was a bit incapacitated beforehand. :)

My doctor arrived at the hospital all smiles, and we were all chatting and happy that I finally got the chance to have a real labor. She broke my water and said as soon as Charlotte dropped down just a tiny bit we could start pushing. We had been checked into our room at 6:00am...after about twenty minutes of pushing, Charlotte was born at 7:45am - on her due date, March 1.

From the first pangs of pain that woke me up at home to holding my baby for the first time was a total of about 5 hours and 15 minutes.

If I had known when I first woke up that night that I would be holding my baby a little over five hours later I would have completely panicked I think, haha. Sometimes it's better when we don't know things. :) But wow, what a blessing that it was quick and (relatively) easy and that, most importantly, everyone was healthy! We praise God for our baby Charlotte! And we're so thankful that every little scare or bump in the road along the way during this pregnancy turned out to be nothing at all. Prayers were definitely answered.

Life at home has had it's moments of serenity and hilarity. The kids have been home from school for snow days for two days now this week. (Bah!) So any hope I had of extra rest or getting anything done went completely out the window. Yes, I am thankful for a district that errs on the side of caution in inclement weather for sure...but...I wanted to wring someone's neck both times school was called, haha. Are you kidding? Just my luck! But the girls just went to their grandma's and now I'm going to get a shower and maybe get this house picked up - finally!

Ready for home!

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, congratulations - all of the above! I haven't been on the computer much the past couple of days, and I wish I had more energy to reply to each and every comment. Please know how much we appreciate you thinking of us! We love you, we love our family, we love this beautiful baby!

Looks like we're gearing up for a warm up in our neck of the woods. I can't wait! And Charlotte Rose Robert will never live down her birth story - the night she decided to come in a swirling snow storm. She may have been demanding then, but she has been a dream baby ever since. She sleeps a lot, eats a lot, poops a lot, and...did I say sleeps a lot? She has been very kind to her mama. She's an angel baby! We cannot believe how beautiful she is, and life as Robert baby #4 looks to be pretty sweet for her. Charlotte is a very doted on baby girl. :)

Hope you have a great day, friends. Thanks for reading!


sblind2 said...

so amazing - such a story :-)
Congrats to all - she's a doll!

Erin said...

Awwwww I love this. Reminds me a lot of my middle of the night rush to the hospital. So sweet.

April Robert said...

Adrien, you're an incredible writer and thank you for sharing all the details of how Charlotte came into the world!

Adrien said...

Thanks, girls!

Someonesmomma said...

Too funny about the shower!!!! That will be a great story to tell her when she gets older! So glad Dr. M was able to make it there in time and was on call! Charlotte is precious!


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