Where was I.... Oh yes, the fog! I was hanging in there and I remember folks coming to check on me, but I was very focused on my noises a...

Charlie's Birth Story - Part 2


Where was I....

Oh yes, the fog! I was hanging in there and I remember folks coming to check on me, but I was very focused on my noises and preparing for each contraction. At around 2:30, Mary arrived to find me in a 30 second break. I was sitting in the bathroom and she placed the birthstool on the floor between the foot of my bed and the bathroom door. My mom helped me move to the stool where Mary was able to check my cervix. I was seven centimeters! It had gone so fast I could barely believe it. With Adeline it took me like 20 hours to get to 6. I was amazed and not afraid. I could see the birth pool across the hall set up in the serene nursery. Our bedroom was not so serene, tossed about with towels, birth supplies, a glass of ginger ale, ice chips, clothes stripped off from the heat, etc. Mary asked me if I wanted to go to the pool, but I told her I wasn't sure if I could make it. Amy, Mary's sweet and wonderful apprentice told us that there wasn't quite enough water in it yet anyway. Oh well, I had 3 more centimeters to go before pushing, we'd make it.

All of this happened in about 30 seconds. Mary got up and walked around behind me to get something and all of the sudden another contraction hit, but this time at the peak of it I felt something new and kind of exciting. I needed to push! I started calling out, "Mary, Mary, I..I...I need to push." This look of shock crossed her face and she came directly back to me to check again and I was indeed 10 centimeters and ready! I asked for everyone that was missing, I think Rachel was outside the room waiting because she figured I still had awhile to go. Everyone crowded in and I started pushing with each contraction. It was not peaceful, lovely, gentle, etc. The sensation of needing to push was the most powerful thing I've ever felt and it was involuntary. The control I had was only with my breathing, my vocalization, and the strength I put behind each push. There were complete primal sounds coming out of me but I managed to keep my muscles in my face and torso as loose as I could while I beared down with my arms and legs. My mom held my hand as she stood in the doorway of the bathroom, I pulled my other hand against the footboard of my bed, and my sweet husband sat in a chair behind me and pushed on my lower back and put his head into the back of my neck so I could just use that base to push against. He told me I was doing great and that he loved me, which I could only hear because he was right next to my ear. Otherwise, my sounds definitely would have drown him out. There were very few breaks, but it seemed like no time before I felt that incredible pressure and stretching and burning referred to as the "ring of fire." It was her head! I could feel her come out with the push then recede a little and it burned oh it burned. I looked at the midwives and then up at my friends and shook my head and said, "It burns, it really burns." They smiled, Amy smiled so kindly and said, "That's good, you're just stretching. Feel your baby's head." I did, I reached down and touched her soft squishy hairy head and felt re-energized for the next push. It took about two more good pushes and her head was out, sweet relief!

I'd like to say what most moms do, that after that her body just oozed on out easily and then I had this amazing endorphin rush and everything was beautiful. That's not the case though. I took a small rest then resumed pushing but she wasn't coming. Her shoulders were stuck. At this point my eyes were closed in concentration, but I could feel that I wasn't making the same progress with each push. The midwives immediately told me to move to my hands and knees and in the moment I was thinking I couldn't do it, there I was on hands and knees to help open up my pelvis to get her out. I beared down and pushed with all my might as someone (probably my mom) was yelling at me to push hard. I replied near tears, "I'm pushing as hard as I can!" I felt a little more progress and didn't know at the time, but her little face was turning from blue to purple and her shoulders were actually stuck so tightly that it was cutting off her circulation. There was no cord in the way though, her little shoulders were just flexed all the way out instead of folded in like most babies. Then they needed me to roll onto my back and helped me do so. In an instant, Mary and Amy reached down and grabbed Charlie under her arms and pulled her free on my next push.

They laid her on my stomach and time stopped. I thought Mary said, "There's no pulse." Jason thought she said, "She's not breathing." Either way, not good. I had one hand behind Charlie's head and the other wrapped around her little chest. Mary immediately began CPR. I could feel Mary's breath going into Charlie's chest and then I could feel and hear a little wheeze from baby girl. Then she started chest compressions. I was just praying, "Dear Lord Jesus, be with her, help her breathe. Breathe life into her, Lord. Protect her and bring her to me God." I remember those words and this amazing faith that God gave me in that moment. Some may call it arrogance, but not once during those moments did I even consider or conceive that she would not make it. I much more truly understand the faith of a mustard seed now. It just takes really needing to move a mountain to get it I think. No doubt, just blessed assurance. Thank you, God, for giving me that gift in that moment. In two rounds of breaths and compressions, Charlie let out a little rattle and I began to cramp instantly knowing the placenta was coming. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as the third midwife had showed up and caught the placenta as Mary and Amy gave Charlie some oxygen and watched her turn pink. They dried her off and checked her heart and her breathing and she was okay. They managed to get me into bed and brought her to me and laid her sweet little swollen chunky body next to mine as I ate some watermelon chunks and drank water trying to regain some type of strength. All of that was foggy too, but I remember feeling so cared for, loved, blessed, and safe during that time. I was disoriented but not scared or confused.

Charlie weighed 10 lbs and .5 oz for real! No wonder her shoulders got stuck, which my consulting doctor warned me could happen especially with being diabetic and going 10 days overdue! We really didn't think it would though, but the midwives were prepared and did exactly the right thing. Soon after delivery I had to get up to use the bathroom but got dizzy and lightheaded. They had to help me down to the floor where I honestly laid with a pillow and a blanket for 45 minutes before they could convince me to move. Charlie was asleep peacefully in her bassinet and I was asleep peacefully on the cool tile of the bathroom floor! Jason said he tried to get me up and I replied, "I'm not getting in that bed." Our bed is really high people!

I was fine in a few hours, only needed three stitches (which I claim as a major victory after having a 10lb baby wrestled out of me!) The midwives took excellent care of me and my family and friends have been amazing. I had my very own postpartum doula named Rachel, who has been here every day helping since Charlie was born. I am so grateful.

So, here's my reflection after a week. I am broken hearted that her birth was labeled as "traumatic." I don't care at all that it went so fast, that I didn't make it to the pool, that there weren't candles and music (wait, my mom brought my candle in the room when it was time to push because she knew I had a dream so she tried to make it have one element!), or that I was a primal cave woman instead of one of those little "oh me, uuggh" and then there's a baby. Mary said, "Well, we talk about home birth as this beautiful peaceful event, not this railroad, super speed type of thing!" Oh well, there were some scary elements to her birth, but the overall experience for me was amazing. I felt and feel powerful and amazed. I feel completely reassured that my midwives are the most loving, competent, and prepared choice that I could have made for my care and Charlie's. I feel that if I'd been in a hospital, a very similar problem could have occurred but with much more invasive results ending in more pain and recovery for everyone. That could have been an emergency c-section, 10 nurses pushing on my belly to get her out, a broken clavicle or dislocated shoulder for Charlie, a crazy episiotomy that I may never have healed properly from, and fear, confusion, loss of control and dignity, and all that combined. I know some folks won't agree, but that's okay. We all have choices and decisions to make in our lives that nobody else can make for us. I heard on a documentary one time an OBGYN saying, "I don't understand the pride thing in natural childbirth. I mean, when you're walking down the street pushing your three month old in the stroller it won't really matter anymore if you pushed it out without drugs. It just doesn't matter." I never thought of this as a pride thing, and it isn't. However, I finally got out of the house the other day with the family and I felt like I had this secret. Someone will say Charlie is such a pretty baby and I would think to myself, "Yup, and I pushed her out without so much as an ibuprofen!" Isn't that terrible? :) I just maybe doubted myself until that moment, doubted I'd have the strength and kept it all in an open hand without concrete plans because who knew if I'd give up and beg to be sent to the hospital for an epidural. Now I know that I can do it, I did do it, God is amazing in his plan and perfection for our bodies and the gift of growing and bearing life into his children. I honestly don't even want to put clothes on Charlie's little rolls because it makes her look like a child of this world instead of my little infant from God, brought into the world with love and blessings, comfort, safety, and grace.

Thank you again for your support and love, or even just your curiosity. I have worked very hard to understand my feelings on natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and midwifery care as opinions...just that, my opinions. I do feel very passionately about it though. I've read about 10 books and dozens of articles, watched multiple videos and documentaries, and talked with lots of real folks, and prayed and received much validation in these choices for our family. Please know that I would encourage any woman that her body was made for this, pregnancy is a privilege and miraculous, children are a blessing from the Lord, and labor is not impossible, it is just hard work with an amazing reward. At the very least I hope to inspire people to just ask questions. If you're 36 weeks pregnant and your doctor wants to induce, ask why! If you have a plan and desires for your birth, don't be bullied, ask questions and take charge while you can. Labor is not the time that you can make choices and take a stand on things. I tried with my first birth, but was a wimp and got bulldozed by well meaning nurses and doctors and was lucky to have gotten out of there with a vaginal delivery and no episiotomy. Everything else I wanted/didn't want was ignored. We are strong women with choices and a right to the type of birth we want and deserve. Oh, and for all of you wondering....I don't think the Allens are "done" having kids. I just haven't gotten "birth amnesia" quite as quickly as I did with an epidural! HAHAHAHA!


8 comments:

ainmemphis said...

It truly was a miraculous experience. I am so thankful you allowed me to be apart of it. I have I am thankful you have Rachel there with you I wish I could be. I can't wait to see that sweet pudgy face again!

Candice said...

I shared your story with Kara and she thinks you're absolutely amazing! I'm sure you're probably tired of hearing this but you're such an amazing super woman! Thanks for sharing with all of us. I look forward to meeting Charlie.

Kristina said...

Manda Ann, I am so proud of you! I teared up again reading this, thinking of the contrast of the craziness and calm that all seemed to have occurred simultaneously. Little Charlie has quite a birth story that you should be very proud of!

Pediddlepie said...

@ainmemphis Andrea, I'm so glad you were here. I have hoped very much that you weren't terribly traumatized! We must visit soon before she loses too much weight! ;)

Pediddlepie said...

@CandiceCandice, I can't wait for you to meet her either and for your new little bundle to make his appearance! Thank you for your sweet words, it was really a privilege, the whole thing.

Pediddlepie said...

@Kristina Kuhtina, thank you so much friend! Love you much and can't wait for our girls to get into trouble together!

Nancyshunt@aol.com said...

Thanks for allowing me to play such an important role in the birth of baby Charlie. Seeing the faces of Addie and Freddie were priceless and having them meet their baby sisiter in the comfort of their own home made the experience worth it. Although I wasn't always on board, you once again proved that you knew what you were doing. I love you bunches.

rachbhale said...

I'm so thankful to have been asked to be a part of it...only you could have changed my views on pregnancy, birth and children in less than five years. You are amazing, Jason is amazing and all your children are amazing! What a beautiful family that I look forward to see grow in size and love!