Friday, May 28, 2010

The Birth of Charlie - Inspired by Nancy

I never gave much notice to birthing stories. I certainly never gave inkling to actually writing one myself. I always thought of them as accounts of miracle births, you know delivered in a taxi cab kinda stuff, or even stories of home births with midwives and “I Am Woman” natural births in home birthing pools or on kitchen tables.

Maybe I never considered them because all-in-all Cecilia was a relatively uneventful birth. I was induced after being two weeks late. Minus going into immediate one-minute apart contractions while only being 1 cm dilated nothing major happened. After 12 hours of these painful but normal contractions I dilated enough to have my epidural and had a painless and again uneventful delivery another 4-½ hour later. Pretty standard stuff, nothing to write a story about.

Then came Charlie. While I still don’t consider his story any type of miracle birth or “I Am Woman” moment looking back I would consider it a comedy. If you had asked me during my labor if I wanted to laugh I would have probably strangled you with my bare hands but truthfully reliving the experience in my head and visualizing the facial expressions and dialogue that developed I can not help but laugh right out loud. Truly something that should be written before it gets lost in the black hole of my long-term memory.

I suppose this birthing story begins by explaining that again, for the second time I had a child that felt the womb was way too comfortable to leave. While I was sure he was going to fight his way out early, he proved us wrong by holding out till after his due date and my induction was scheduled for the days following my due date. So on Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm my mother, my aunt and I made our way to Bellevue Women’s Hospital to meet my husband and have a baby, only 3 days after my scheduled due date.

After being shown to my room, undressing and dressing into a loverly hospital gown and hooked up to the monitors we began waiting for my doctor to come and start the induction process. Finally at 7:30 we were greeted by my on-call doctor and my night nurse Sharon and by 8 the Cervidil was in and I was ready to start having a baby. Now for anyone that doesn’t know how being induced works you are first given a drug called Cervidil, this is a long string looking thing that is inserted in your uterus and is supposed to begin the thinning process of your cervix. After a designated amount of time (normally the next morning) if you have not started labor they give you the next round of treatment called Pitocin. This begins the contractions and actual labor. With Cecilia I started labor with nothing more than a ½ hour of the Cervadil and never made it to the Pitocin stage so I had hoped for the same outcome with this pregnancy, however, I was also expecting that I would again start contractions without dilating fast so I anticipated another 16+ hours of labor ahead of me. My doctor and nurse had other ideas and began joking about me delivering before midnight that night. Seems that my nurse Sharon was known around the hospital as a baby magnet. Whenever she was on duty difficult babies seemed to fly out of the birth canal at her. If only we knew how true that was.

By now it was almost 8 pm. When I was induced with my daughter it took only a half an hour for the Cervidil to send me into one-minute apart contractions. Unfortunately, it took me 16 hours to dilate to a full 10 cm. While I was hoping to start contractions fast I wasn’t looking forward to another night of painful contractions and waiting to dilate enough for my epidural. After an hour went by I started to loose faith that this was going to happen tonight. I encouraged my mother and Aunt to go home and get some sleep but they wouldn’t leave. My mother insisted the little man was coming. At 9:30 I started to agree with her – my water broke.

The contractions started slow which I wasn’t used to, so I was pretty unsure whether they were actual contractions or not. I spent a lot of time watching the clock and the monitor to see whether or not they were coming on a schedule, but by 10 I didn’t have to guess anymore. The painful one-minute apart “active” contractions started and I spend the next half an hour on my side breathing my “bear” breaths (as Celie calls them, for the rest of you, relaxing breaths).

At 10:30 my nurse, Sharon came in and explained that she was going to remove the Cervidil because the contractions were too close together and would put the baby in too much stress. She said removing the Cervidil would slow the contractions down a little to let my dilation catch up. Within 5 minutes of removing the Cervidil the contractions went from 1 minute apart, painful but manageable to the stop-one-start-the-next, scream inducing, wailing crying and even (TMI alert) throw-up the salad I had at lunch kind. At 11:00 I was 3 cm.

Now let me interrupt here to mention that my husband cannot handle my pain. He was tortured watching me go through this with Cecilia and that time he had to do it alone because the rest of my family went home for the night. This time, while my mother and aunt stayed he still couldn’t handle watching me in pain with no relief. Each time I would scream or cry during the contraction he would focus more intently on the television we had turned on earlier in the evening. While most women would get mad at this I knew it was his only way of coping. I consciously made an effort in the middle of the contractions to give him a reassuring smile or glance to relieve his stress. As I look back on this I have to laugh at the fact that I spent more time consciously worrying about him while I was the one preparing to push a 9 lb baby out. The things we women do for our men.

After maybe a half an hour of this I began to panic that these contractions were not getting better but in fact getting worse. I started to worry about the baby since the point of removing the Cervidil was to relieve the stress put on him and now my body was placing what felt like 10 times the amount of stress on me and him. I begged Andy to call for the nurse and when she came in I sobbed out my concern. She felt we should check my progress and go from there. I was 5 cm. I knew I was good to go for my epidural and I DEMANDED it! Sharon, the nurse kept insisting that since I had dilated 2 cm in a half an hour that it would be the quickest epidural ever on record, that I would basically be getting it just to deliver. Did I care? Get me my F*in epidural now please (that was all said in my head, I was still being pleasant at this point).

She left to call the anesthesiologist and I felt the need to get up and get to the bathroom. I have no idea what I thought I was going to do in there; I just needed to get there for some strange reason. Now literally I am having what can only be described as one long contraction that has no beginning and no end that I can recognize however, I found that when I stood up and bent over something (the bed, then the table, then the bathroom sink, then the table again…) they were a lot more manageable then lying on my side in that bed like I had been doing for the last hour in pain. So these are the things they teach you in those birthing classes Andy and I said we didn’t need to go too. Hmmmmm, ok lesson learned.

When I made my way back to the bed Sharon came back to tell me the wonderful drug doctor was on his way up from his office with my wonderful, fabulous drugs and that I needed to sit on the edge of the bed in position for him. GREAT, unfortunately every time I go to sit I have another contraction and have to stand again to get my pain under control. This starts to make Sharon a little uneasy and she decides she should check me one more time…7 cm. Get that drug doctor in here NOW (again in my head) out of my mouth comes, “He needs to get here.”

“Which one honey, the doctor or the baby?”


Man these contractions are getting worse. I start to feel like I want push, are you kidding me? I know enough to know the need to push means it’s time. I don’t have my drugs yet. It cannot possibly be time; I mean it’s been like 10 maybe 20 minutes right. I couldn’t have possibly gone 3 cm in the time it took this man to walk upstairs. Oh, yep gotta push and this time I say it out loud. So Sharon checks again 9 and ¾ cm.

There's a knock on the door and I hear, “It’s Dr. (whatever-his-name-was), the anesthesiologist”

...and my “I-used-to-think-you-were-nice” nurse Sharon yells back to him “Never mind, we’re going without.”

Again, I need to break here to explain me a bit to anyone reading this. I don’t do pain well. I just don’t do it. I have always said when I had kids that I would call ahead so they could have my drugs waiting for me. I admire the people who had natural labor and all that but no thanks, I’m not crazy. Drug me up. Minus the moment they put Celie on my chest my happiest memory of the day she was born was the moment they gave me my epidural and that is the goddess honest truth. I was not doing this naturally and there was no one that could make me (and that I said out loud!)

The next half an hour or so are a bit of a blur to me. My doctor was not in the building and it wasn’t looking like the staff at Bellevue thought she was going to make it before Charlie did. It got pretty crammed in the delivery room and I remember a lot of people talking at once. The resident doctor (who was 12 I think) was called in to deliver in case my doctor didn’t come in on time. About 7 nurses and other little children I can only hope were nurses were huddled in the corner. The bed was prepped and the other delivery items were loaded on the station behind the doctor. The reason this time was not something I registered is because I was still insisting that I was NOT having this baby without drugs. I was not asking I was telling. I was insisting to each and every nurse that busily hurried around my bed that they couldn’t make me do this. I was insistent that I WASN’T doing this. I begged Andy, my mother, my aunt. Needless to say, no one was listening to me.

Somehow, finally I think I gave in. Maybe it was the unstoppable need to push but eventually I guess I decided if they were making me do this I was getting on with it. Now I didn’t feel like I wanted to push, I NEEDED to push. It was the only thing in my life I needed, I needed it more than anything I ever needed. I would never need anything again if they just let me push right now, but they keep telling me to wait. They keep telling me my doctor is on the way and I need to just hold off. Are you kidding?!

Eventually I couldn’t wait anymore. The kid was coming and it didn’t matter if my doctor was there or not. He was coming and they couldn’t stop him. I remember screaming something along the lines of “that’s it I’m pushing!” At the same time I was screaming my demand the door opened, my doctor walked in and said, “Go ahead.” Talk about making it in the nick of time.

I can’t say this part was pretty, that I was this sweet, quiet, reserved mother that grunted a bit and pushed silently. I was screaming! I can honestly say I don’t think I ever swore during this process but I was yelling very, very loudly. I kept repeating over and over again, “I can’t do this, you don’t know me I can’t do this naturally!” and “I can’t believe you people are making me do this!” After awhile of this screaming the child-resident-doctor lady grabbed my hand and very calmly told me that I could do it and I just need to focus and concentrate. My answer to her was that I knew I could but if they wanted me to get through this they had to let me scream. I didn’t mean the things that I was yelling I just needed to yell. This received a laugh from the whole room. Great, glad to know I’m amusing you all.

Pushing out the monkey’s head was an interesting experience. Seems my cervix was still slightly in the way and the doctor had to maneuver his head around it. So as I am yelling at the whole room about making me have a natural birth that I always said I would never do and pushing at the same time, the doctor is now directing me like I am backing up a car in a parking spot.

“Ok, now I want you to give me a little push – OK STOP! Now another tiny push – STOP, and again small push- STOP.”

Are you freakin’ kidding me! There is no stopping. There is no tiny push. Get this freaking kid out now! Who the hell does she think she is, “STOP” I’m gonna stop her with my foot in her face (again, all in my head I was still rather pleasant I think). I do consciously remember looking at Andy right at this moment and giving him a glare that said, “I was done at one kid!” I also remember my Aunt slowly backing up step by step about now until she backed right up into the table at the rear of the room.

-Info break again… Debbie is one of those people in my family that everyone has. She isn’t a blood relative of mine but she might as well be. She has been a sister, a best friend and a business partner to my mother for more years than I can remember. I actually can’t remember a time without Debbie in my life. They are Kate and Ally, Laverne and Shirley and in a few years Dorothy and Blanche. Debbie has no children of her own so we are her babies and our babies are her grandbabies. This was the first birth she had ever witnessed. I don’t know if she got more than she bargained for but I do know her face was the whitest I had ever seen and her back was pressed up against the table for dear life.

After what seemed like forever but was in reality only a minute or so I heard the wonderful sound of the doctor saying the head had cleared and my mother screaming “He’s got hair!” Doctor says, "and now we were working on the shoulders." I remember asking if the shoulders were easier than the head and only receiving mumbles in return. Thanks for the support guys.

Skip ahead, five more good pushes and Charlie James is placed on my chest. This is the best moment of any birth. They take this child out of your body and he is covered in disgusting birth fluid and he’s swollen and puffy and crying, and your crying, and everyone around you is crying, and your cold and still exposed to a room full of strangers and your family and they are telling you that your not done yet because you still have to push out the afterbirth and you DON’T CARE. All you focus on is that little screaming thing on your chest and everything else goes away. It just disappears into the backdrop for a short sweet moment. 9 months of vomit and heartburn and insomnia and anemia just dissolve into nothing and for a second or two you forget there is a world because the only thing that exists is you and that baby. I remember thinking during my blissful second, “this kid doesn’t look like any of us.”

Once you have your moment of new mother bliss, they whisk the baby away to clean and suction and test the baby under the incubator while you continue your work cleansing out your body of the afterbirth. This is again something I didn’t experience with Celie because I was numb from the waist down from that lovely epidural. I will leave the feeling of pushing this sack of fluid out to your imagination, but I will give anyone that has not experienced birth a word of advice. If they ask you if you want to see the afterbirth JUST SAY NO. What the hell is that, do you want to see your afterbirth? Like it's another child or something. Awww sweetie, look it's our afterbirth. I am sure there is someone out there that answered yes to this question but when my doctor actually asked me this I swear I must have looked at her like she had 14 heads. Nope, quite all right, think I’m good, but thanks for asking.

So I did it. I actually gave birth naturally, without help of wondrous drugs and I lived to tell the tale. If I am being totally honest here I actually think it was a better experience without the drugs than it was with. I have come to the conclusion that if I could have had them for the contractions but done the actual pushing without it would be the perfect scenario. When you have the epidural you are literally numb from the waist down, this doesn’t allow you to feel anything including where to push which is why they say it takes longer to push when you have an epidural, and why most women do it wrong (including myself). Being able to feel him allowed me to know how and where to push to get him out fast (pushed with Celie for 45 minutes, pushed with Charlie for 10). This difference changed the way I felt immediately after giving birth and the days and weeks to follow. Pushing with Cecilia left me exhausted and so worn out I slept for hours after she was born. This time I wasn’t wiped out and actually had adrenaline rush that kept me wired until almost five hours after giving birth. I had tons of energy and felt like I could have run a marathon. I got to spend some quality time with Charlie and Andy before they took him to the nursery for the after birth tests and good cleaning. Even the day after I was walking around and energized only feeling some muscle stiffness in my legs from pushing against them (like I worked out real hard), what a change from Cecilia. With her the epidural kept me a prisoner to the bed for half a day. When it finally did wear off it was like learning to walk all over again, and all the stress and pain of pushing, tearing, muscle ache and pain hit you like a brick wall. Definitely a totally different experience, who knew I would ever admit I preferred natural birth to drugs. Now I will add that if my labor was any longer or he didn’t come as fast and easy as he did I might have a different outlook of this whole thing.

There it is, the story of how Charlie James Bauer entered our lives on May 7th, 2010. After 3 hours of labor he was born at 1:26 AM. He weighed 8lbs 13 oz. - one ounce more than his sister and at the hospital was measured at 20 inches (we would find out in 3 days that he was really 21 ½ inches, the same as his big sister. He was too scrunched for a proper reading at the hospital). To say that he had a full head of hair would be an understatement. He was and is my hairy little monkey baby and is the completion to our little family.


  1. This is hilarious. And way better than mine! Now, I really have to rewrite mine... the pressure!

  2. PS That thing about the bathroom. OMG. I had the same feeling and when I was telling someone about it, she said that it's a very common urge. For some reason, women think of the bathroom as a safe place. LOL.