Posted on August 15, 2016

A Birth Story: Charlotte Rose

family/ motherhood

Charlotte Rose Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara
After having my baby Charlotte Rose a few months ago, I’m (finally) sharing her birth story and my tips for coping with changes to your birth plan.

Happy Monday! I’ve been MIA from the blog for what feels like forever! I’ve been in survival motherhood mode for the last little while, so anything blog related hasn’t been happening. But now that my little Charlotte is sleeping through the night, I’m starting to feel like myself again and getting back to my poor neglected blog. Keeping up with three kids is no joke!

Anyway, I thought I would share my birth story with you today for my Motherhood Monday post. I love hearing other people’s birth stories, probably because my degree is in Health Promotion with an emphasis in Women’s Health. Each birth is so special and so different for every mother (and each baby!), it’s amazing to hear what trials and triumphs each woman experiences to bring forth life into this world.

That being said, I’ve been hesitant to share my latest birth story here because it didn’t exactly go as I had hoped. All things considered, her birth went fairly smoothly, and ultimately Charlotte is here and she is healthy and safe (as am I) which is what matters the most and for that I am truly grateful. However, because I had put in time to research my birth options and compile a birth plan (for the third time!), I always hope/pray/wish that everything will go according to (my) plan. Of course that’s not how life is though, right? So I thought that along with Charlotte’s birth story I would share a few tips for dealing with birth plan complications and how to make the most of your birth experience, even if things don’t go the way you had hoped.

Be warned, this is a long post!

Charlotte Rose Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

Charlotte Rose Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

Charlotte Rose Birth Story Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

Charlotte Rose Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

Charlotte Rose Birth Story Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

Charlotte Rose Birth Story Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

A few days before my due date I went in for my regularly scheduled appointment. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions on and off for a few days so I decided to have them check me to see if I had dilated at all…but of course I hadn’t 🙁 I figured since they were already checking me (and I was so over being pregnant at this point) that I would have them attempt to strip my membranes but they couldn’t really even do that since I wasn’t dilated. They did say I was 80% effaced though, so I took that as a sign of good things to come soon. After that appointment they scheduled me for another appointment on my actual due date, and they would eventually see me again a few days after that because little girl decided not to arrive on time. At both of those appointments they checked me again to see if I had progressed any. At my appointment on my due date I was dilated one centimeter, so they tried to strip my membranes, and at the appointment a few days later I was dilated to four centimeters, so they stripped them again to get contractions consistently going. (Side note: having your membranes stripped is super uncomfortable!) With my first baby, my labor started on its own (after walking lots) and then with my second baby I had my membranes stripped which caused labor to start later that same day. So I was surprised (and disappointed) that I had to have my membranes stripped twice because that is not a pleasant experience!

Anyway, after my appointment that was a few days past my due date, I made sure to walk a ton that afternoon and evening, and we went out to dinner together as a family. I was having contractions on and off, but nothing unbearable (or consistent). When we got back and had put the kids to bed, Aaron (my husband) and I went for a walk while my mom stayed at home with the sleeping kids in the hopes that I could get the contractions to become stronger and consistent. As the night went on, the contractions had become five minutes apart and lasting one minute in length per hour. That’s usually when you’re told to head to the hospital…the only catch was that they didn’t feel as intense as I had remembered the previous two times. I was secretly hoping that since this was my third baby that maybe my body had become somewhat accustomed to birth (ha!), but I was also anxious to make it to the hospital in time because currently we live a little ways away from the hospital where I would be delivering…I did not want to transition (an intense stage of labor) or give birth in the car! So we called the on call midwife to see what she thought I should do, and she suggested that since it was my third and I was past my due date that I come in to the hospital.

By this point it was after midnight, but we loaded up the car with our hospital bags and left my mom at home with our sleeping littles. I was excited to be heading to the hospital to FINALLY have our baby! When we got there they got me situated in a triage room and when they checked me I was at four and a half centimeters dilated…I had only dilated maybe a half a centimeter since my appointment earlier that day (well technically the day before)! I was a little bummed, but they kept me there on the monitors to see if I was progressing. An hour later they checked me again and I still hadn’t changed from the four and a half centimeters. They said I could walk the hallways there and then they would check me again in another hour, so that’s what I decided to do.

When the nurses came back to see if my walking had helped move things along, I had gone from a four and a half to a five. Hardly any progress, but progress nonetheless! So after talking to the midwife on duty (and at around three in the morning), the nurse told me they had decided to admit me upstairs to labor and delivery…I was going to be having my baby! I was so relieved…I was so over being pregnant and I was ready to get this baby out so we could love on her from the outside! What I didn’t realize though was that immediately after admitting me they would give me the epidural that I had requested, but also put me on pitocin (a synthetic drug that mimics the hormone oxytocin, which instigates really intense contractions) to get my labor moving along faster than it was going naturally. This was not a part of my birth plan…I had actually expressed in my birth plan that I did not want to use pitocin unless absolutely necessary. With my first two babies, my contractions continued on their own (without the help of pitocin) once I got to the hospital and had the epidural, so that’s what I was wanting for this birth as well. Unfortunately, the midwife that was working that night/morning/ungodly hour I had never met at any of my prenatal appointments, and her bedside manner was pretty bad. She would constantly say she wanted me to have this baby born by 5PM so she could go home for dinner…as much as I wanted my own baby here, apparently my labor seemed to be inconveniencing her…so why are you a midwife?! She kept belittling me and saying things like “I don’t understand why you are so afraid of pitocin”. She seemed to think that I was crazy when I told her I wanted to attempt labor with just an epidural first (sans pitocin) like my birth plan stated, like I didn’t know what my body was doing or I hadn’t done this before…oh wait (cue eye roll). When she explained her reasoning for insisting on pitocin, she sounded like an OBGYN…not that OBGYNs are bad (obviously), but since my births thankfully are typically healthy and free of complications, I personally choose the midwife route for all my babies for a more personal (and a little less clinical) approach to birth. Overall, she made me feel really bad about my opinions and choices, like I didn’t know anything about my body or birthing my own baby, which is really not how I expect a midwife (or hopefully any medical professional) to act.

At this point, it was about four in the morning and Aaron could tell I was going to lose any cool I had left over this debate I was having with the midwife, so he asked her if we could talk about it alone and make a decision in a few minutes. Thankfully she agreed, and after discussing it together we agreed that we would ask that we start on the lowest dosage of pitocin possible and then turn it off when labor seemed to be moving steadily along. So after the midwife got what she wanted that, I got my epidural (and the pitocin) and I was able to get some rest for a few hours. The nurses would come in every now and then to check my vitals and my progress. Once I was seven to eight centimeters dilated, they broke my water and that’s when contractions really kicked in. Even with the epidural I could still feel them and so eventually they turned the pitocin drip off. I would do a few practice pushes with the nurses, and in between each set they had this weird oval-shaped exercise ball that I would lay with in between my legs to help “open me up” and it actually worked! When it came time to push for the real thing, the midwife discovered that Charlotte was facing upwards (or sunny side up). Babies typically are born facing down which makes birthing them easier, so the nurses and midwife said that’s most likely why this labor/delivery took a little bit longer than we all expected. Once Charlotte’s head and shoulders were free, the midwife sort of redeemed herself and asked me if I wanted to deliver her (basically pull her out on my own). I wasn’t asked this with my first two children, so this was completely unexpected…but I said yes anyway. Because Charlotte was sunny side up, when I pulled her eight pound eleven ounce body out and up to my chest, I could immediately see her chubby cheeks, her little nose wrinkle, and her dark blue eyes that were open and looking right at me. My mama heart just about exploded with so much love and adoration for this little girl I could barely contain it. That brief moment made all the extra days of pregnancy and the “drama” of her birth seem insignificant, and I will cherish the memory of those few seconds for the rest of my life.

Charlotte Rose Birth Story Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

Charlotte Rose Birth Story Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

Charlotte Rose Birth Story Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

{the “minion” ball (because it’s bright yellow, ha!) that the hospital had me hold between my legs during labor}

Charlotte Rose Birth Story Birth Plan Tips Style Savvy Sara

Now that I’ve had time to look back and reflect on my birth experience with Charlotte, overall I came away with a good experience. There were a few parts that I wish had gone differently (the midwife, the use of pitocin), but a few things have helped me stay positive about it all, even though my birth didn’t go exactly how I wanted. So hopefully by sharing them here I can help another mama out:

Figure out beforehand what’s most important to you and where you would be willing to compromise if necessary. When I was in the triage room barely progressing in the dilation department, I sort of wish the nurse just told me that I was having false labor and then give me the choice to either be admitted upstairs (and receive pitocin to move things along) or go home and labor there some more. Would it have sucked to leave the hospital with no baby still? Absolutely. Would I have made the choice to go home in that moment? Maybe, but probably not…I was ready to not be pregnant, haha! But because I hadn’t considered using pitocin unless I was super past my due date and needed a full-on induction, I struggled really hard in the (3 AM) moment when the midwife told me that I would need it. So even if you don’t think you’re going to use certain medical interventions/drugs/techniques for your birth, at least mentally prepare for as many “would you rather” scenarios as you can think of. That way when you are given a choice about the birth and you’re sleep deprived, in so much pain, and ready to NOT be pregnant anymore you can make that decision in that moment and accept it. If you make a choice or compromise you regret later, don’t discount yourself, but instead remember that there were reasons you made that choice in the first place.

Do your research and know your options. Not only do I have (some) knowledge of childbirth just from sheer experience, but I have always been fascinated by it and researched it a lot while in college and when drafting up my own birth plans. Becoming familiar with the typical procedures, drugs, and medical terms used and what they mean can give you a huge confidence boost in your decision making skills when it comes to you and your baby’s health. This will also help you understand a little bit more what your medical professionals are talking about so you aren’t in the dark about what is going on with your body and what needs to be done.

Don’t be afraid to ask. Even with my third baby, I had questions from time to time that I would ask the nurses and hospital staff about basic labor and delivery. There were instances where the nurses would forget about something I had specified on my birth plan, so instead of waiting for them to remember it or just letting it go, I brought it to their attention nicely and they immediately remedied it. In this instance I would rather speak up than regret not bringing it up at all. It never hurts to ask (or gently remind).

If possible, have a truly supportive person by your side. Whether this is your husband, a doula, your mom, or a dear friend, you will need someone there to see you through to the end. If Aaron hadn’t asked the midwife for a minute alone to discuss our options with the pitocin, I would have crumbled into a sleep deprived, contracting hot mess. But he knew in that moment I needed some time to ride out my emotions and see through the fog of exhaustion/hormones/pain to what I really wanted which was for this baby girl to finally arrive. He was there and empathized with me, but also reminded me of the bigger picture. Having a second well-informed opinion about the situation from someone you trust can greatly help you stick to your convictions or recognize the need for some sort of compromise.

Whew! If you made it this far through the post, I am very impressed (and grateful for such a loyal reader)!! Do you have any advice to fellow mamas about birth plans? Do you have a birth story shared online? Paste the link to it in the comments, I would love to read it!

Thanks for reading!

xo, Sara

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