Well first off, I can’t believe it’s already been over 5 weeks since Charley was born! Time really does speed up when you have kids. Second, life with a newborn completely changes the game! I love it, but you definitely have to be more flexible and go with the flow a bit more than before. 😉
I’m so excited to share Charley’s birth story with you all and my experience throughout it. So here it goes:
My due date was September 3rd and my mom was really hoping that little Charley would wait to come until she arrived. She flew in August 31st and we had a few days to finalize things before his arrival and also hang out. It was really special. She came with me to my doctor’s appointment and got to meet my OB/GYN. We went for a lot of walks at the mall and also around Target (I lost track of how many Target runs we did! 😉 haha). We went out to lunch a few times. It was so fun to spend time with her while Ben was at work and before Charley arrived.
With my OB/GYN’s approval, I started taking evening primrose oil twice a day. I also went to the chiropractor that week and got adjusted and also had him work on some pressure points to get things going (I had been going regularly and I highly recommend that during pregnancy!). Other things I did to try to naturally induce labor: walking (like I said, LOTs of Target runs! & I walked my dog around the neighborhood, too) and I started rubbing clary sage essential oil on my belly twice a day (I had previously avoided this oil during pregnancy since it can induce uterine contractions).
On Friday September 4th, I woke up at 5 am unable to go back to sleep. I had had a hard time sleeping that night and noticed what seemed like Braxton Hicks contractions occurring more frequently than normal. I started timing them out of curiosity. Turned out they were happening every 30 minutes. Ben got up with me and we were hesitantly excited about the day, hopeful that Charley would arrive soon. (Side note: during my pregnancy, Ben became a SUPER light sleeper and any time I got up to pee or turned over, he would wake up and ask if I was okay. SO sweet!! <3). My mom got up not long afterward and Ben went off to work and my mom and I spent the day going to Target to walk and get various items for Charley or his nursery. We grabbed lunch in between our Target runs. I found a super cute globe to put in his room but had forgotten a gift card at home, so we grabbed that and came back after lunch 🙂 We had the most delicious pumpkin pancake and egg lunch at this place called First Watch.
Ben kept checking in throughout the day but I didn’t have any other news for him. They were definitely contractions that were happening every 30 minutes or so, but they didn’t get stronger or closer together. I had a feeling that it would be my last day to get a bump photo, so my mom went out with me to snap a few photos of me and the bump in the front yard. I think that was about 4 pm. That’s about when my contractions got closer together; now they were about 20 minutes apart. I was so excited and feeling so much peace.
Ben came home from work, we had a light dinner of cheese, crackers & watermelon, and we all just tried to relax and take it easy. I had texted my doula in the morning just to let her know what was happening and then I also texted her in the evening letting her know they were getting closer together. She told me that these were good signs of early labor and that my body was doing good things. She also told me to rest and stay hydrated and eat to sustain my energy. I tried lying down around 7:30/8 pm to rest and get some sleep. I turned on my Native American flute music (think: massage music!) and tried to sleep. I couldn’t but focused on breathing and relaxing. Each time a contraction came, it was stronger and I found I couldn’t be lying down when they came. At this point they were anywhere from 8-16 min apart and lasting 30-45 seconds. It was harder to go with the rushes lying down so I went back into the living room since I couldn’t rest or relax in the bedroom. Ben came with me, since we both were trying to get some rest but he wanted wanted to stay with me & didn’t want me to be alone. 🙂
(Side note: I loved thinking of the contractions as “rushes” after reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth…language is powerful and the words we use have a strong positive/negative influence over our experiences. She emphasizes the strong mind/body connection, especially during pregnancy, labor & delivery. So, read that book!!! That’s one of my biggest pieces of advice to pregnant mamas. Other books I found incredibly helpful were Birth Book #1 and Birth Book #2. Both super easy reads, very informative & unbiased, and extremely encouraging and uplifting).
I had been using an app on my phone to time the contractions. I kept the Native American flute music on the whole time — it kept me very calm. I had used that playlist frequently during pregnancy for meditation and relaxation so it was familiar and comforting to me. I texted a group of friends letting them know things were getting started and that Ben would keep them in the loop (that way Ben could easily find that group text and update them later on). I also made sure he had our doula’s contact info, so I forwarded her number to him since I knew I would be unable to communicate with her when things progressed. My mom stayed in her room for a bit when we tried to rest and gave us some privacy as labor progressed. Just as I thought, she knew exactly when to be present and when to step away for a bit!
I started standing up with every rush and held my belly and swayed side to side. I focused on my breath when they came. They started getting stronger and stronger and more intense. I can definitely see why some people refer to it as riding a wave or surfing. I could feel the beginning surge of energy before the muscles tightened and that was my cue to stand up and sway and BREATHE. I eventually stopped pressing the “start” and “stop” button on my phone to time them and Ben took over that. He also kept my music playing for me. The lights were dimmed. I started having a hard time focusing on anything but breathing, which was okay. This is when I started losing track of time. I asked Ben to call Lauren, my doula. I sensed I needed her help coping with each rush. Ben stood up with me and swayed with me each time. I remember him rubbing my back at one point during a contraction and it did not feel good, and I waved him away. I felt bad but couldn’t help it! Next time I reached out to him and held his hand on me but kept it in one place. This helped a lot. He probably felt helpless but having him right next to me for me to touch felt good and was comforting.
I don’t remember how many times I asked for Lauren, my doula, but apparently is was a good bit, according to Ben 😉 He didn’t want her to come to our house too early, so he waited until they were coming 4-5 minutes apart per her advice. I remember him talking to her on the phone and then putting her on speaker so she could talk to me. She asked me if I wanted to meet her at the hospital or if I wanted her to come to our house first. I told her to come to our house. I figured she could come assess the situation and see how things were going before we made the trip. She got to our house about 1:00 am and I felt so much relief. My first few contractions were a little further apart at first after her arrival, but then they quickly went back to their normal pattern. She applied pressure to my hips as I swayed with the rush. That felt so so good and really helped. I battled nausea and sometimes peppermint oil really helped and other times it didn’t. It was really uncomfortable to be so nauseous! She reminded me that I was doing great and encouraged me. I was able to relax and give in to each rush even more and felt like I wasn’t fighting it. An especially strong rush came and my water broke. This was at 1:26 am (my doula kept an excellent record of events, or else I would be clueless as to the timeline!!). Ben helped me clean up/change and my mom and Lauren got things ready to go. It was like everyone knew that it was our cue to go to the hospital! We left for the hospital at 1:33 am.
I remember stopping in our neighborhood in the middle of the street because my mom was driving behind us & her lights weren’t on. Haha So Ben jumped out of the car to tell her/help her with that. The rest of the car ride was interesting. I was excited but as I mentioned before, very internal. I had zoned out and wasn’t talking much, but I remember Ben excitedly telling me how amazing everything was that it was going exactly as I had planned/hoped. I agreed wholeheartedly and was very grateful! I just wasn’t able to verbalize it that well, I guess 😉
We arrived at Mercy Hospital at 1:49 and went through the ER since it was after hours. Ben went in with me, but then realized he didn’t know what to do with the car. The nurse got someone to transport me to triage for L&D and the guy didn’t wait for Ben! I was all alone with the transporter and he said something like he couldn’t wait & that they would figure out how to get there/we’d meet up with them there. He wheeled me in a wheelchair up to the 5th floor. I later learned Ben was a little panicked that I had been left alone but I felt like it wasn’t that long after I had wheeled through the doors to triage that he and Lauren and my mom came through the doors. So I was fine!
The nurse at the desk was asking Ben questions…had I been there before? What was my social? Ben didn’t know and I told him to get the folder with the birth plan and form I had filed out with all that info (pays to have that stuff all in order beforehand!). A nurse took me to a room and asked me to change into the gown. My doula asked if I wanted to change or wear my own clothes. I told Lauren I didn’t know. She helped me take my pants off and wrap the sheet around my hips. I left my tank top on. The nurse came back and got me hooked up to the monitor and checked me. She asked if I wanted to know what I was. I said, “no.” (I’m so glad I did!) Turns out I was dilated 5 cm and Charley was in the -2 station. I leaned over the bed and rocked my hips back and forth as my contractions came every 2-3 minutes. Ben worked to keep me cool (the room was SO HOT!) and Lauren continued to put counter pressure on my hips. She kept telling me “good job mama” and “keep breathing your baby down.” It really helped. The nurse said she read over my birth plan & the only thing she was unsure about was not having an IV. I said it was fine and she started one in my arm. Ben later told me I did great when she put it in. The nurse did great and I honestly didn’t care about a needle stick. I was focused on the contractions!
At 2:44 am I started to feel “pushy.” Lauren went to get the nurse and ask if she could check me again. I was almost completely dilated! (In case you lost track of time, I went from 5 cm to basically 10 cm in less than an hour…holy cow!!!!!) It was madness after that. I remember everyone around me rushing around and rushing me around in a wheelchair to the 6th floor to labor & delivery. I could barely sit in the wheelchair and basically flew out of it once in my room. I remember a nurse asking someone if my doctor was “OOT” as we wheeled into the room. I knew what that meant, but wasn’t even able to be concerned or worried about it. (She was out of town). Once in the room they asked me to get up on the bed. Someone mentioned hands and knees and I got up on my hands and knees and didn’t move. I think they were a little caught off guard, but they were like, “okay!” I was just doing what felt best and most natural, and apparently getting onto my hands and knees on the bed felt best. People started draping me and I felt like Charley was going to come out of my butt. I had read it can feel like you’re going to have a bowel movement, but holy cow they aren’t joking. It’s so strange! I could feel him descend with each contraction and then retract when the rush was over. I kept following my body’s urge to push and let him slowly move down.
The hands and knees position was great for a few reasons: 1) It increases the pelvic outlet. 2) It allowed me to just bury my head in the pillow and stay focused on what I was doing. All the people and chaos was behind me and I didn’t have to look at anything “medical!” 3) It allowed Ben and me to hold hands and be head to head. I found a lot of strength from that….Just a few thoughts I had after the fact about how thankful I was that I gave birth this way 🙂
The OB on call arrived and sat quietly while I pushed. He was great and just let me do my thing. I remember at one point asking if he was here (Charley). I knew he wasn’t but felt like he was just about to be born; I could tell it was very close. The nurses told me not yet, but very soon. One nurse leaned into my ear and told me to hold my breath and push through the pain with the next contraction. I remember thinking it wasn’t painful, but okay, I’ll hold my breath! And her advice did help. I held my breath and pushed and at 3:21 am Charley Graham Lindsey was born!!! They helped me carefully lift my leg over the umbilical cord so I could sit on the bed. They quickly handed me my baby and I was so overjoyed. “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! You’re here Charley!” I whispered. I didn’t cry, which surprised me! 😉 But was just absolutely overjoyed. I was so excited to see his face. I had been dreaming about what he looked like and I could finally lay eyes on him. I looked at Ben and he was teary eyed but I could tell he was so happy. He took a picture of me holding Charley and sent it to my friends/family. One of the first things I asked the doctor was if I tore. He checked me out just to make sure but said I didn’t, just some minor abrasions. At 3:25 am Ben cut the cord. (Ben wasn’t going to, but when the moment came, he did! And I’m so glad he did!). My doula kept saying how beautiful my cord was. She said, “I know that sounds strange, but that is a BEAUTIFUL cord!” And it was.
I delivered the placenta (minor discomfort, but nothing compared to the intensity of pushing Charley out!) and everyone started cleaning up. The doctor congratulated us and everyone kept said things like, “it was beautiful” and “you did great.”
I felt so alert. I couldn’t stop looking at Charley and his wide eyes. He was so beautiful. At 3:53 am Charley found his way to my breast and latched on for his first meal! (Amazing how newborns just know what to do!!) At around 4:05 am, Ben called my mom in the waiting room and let her know he was born & that she could come in to the room. I let Ben hold Charley and then my mom. It had been about an hour since he was born, so the nurse came back into the room and weighed & measured Charley. She also took his footprints. Charley was 7 pounds 14 ounces and 20 inches long. Pure beauty! He was so perfect! Lauren took some pictures of Charley; I’m so glad she did! They are beautiful keepsakes of an absolutely magical night.
One of the many things I told myself during pregnancy was that Charley was just the right size for me and that he would be the perfect size for my body to birth him. I used many affirmations like that throughout pregnancy. I also told myself that my body was wise and knew how to birth my baby well. These things really helped, and even though I didn’t actively repeat those truths to myself during labor, it definitely helped and prepped my mind, body and soul for a peaceful yet confident labor.
Ben and I laughed a lot afterwards about how I “wasn’t there” and had gone into the zone. Ben said it was so hard because usually he can talk to me and I reassure him and talk back. Haha sorry, Ben! The beautiful hormone interplay that happens during labor naturally does that; that’s the way babies are born! But as soon as I had pushed him out, Ben said it was like a light switch — all of a sudden I was alert & talking with everyone! I was on such a high (oxytocin high, to be exact!! lol).
Well that’s it! Ha If you’re still with me after reading that novel, I applaud you 😉 No but really, I wanted to write this down for me to remember it (although I doubt that I will ever be able to forget!) and also to share with others. I hope that my experience and my excitement helps someone else. Labor and delivery is often talked about in a negative way and there is a lot of fear-based conversation around the subject. It doesn’t have to be this way! I had to fight to protect my mind from the fear-based stories people would tell me and I read lots of positive birth stories. Birth isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be painful. I wouldn’t describe mine as painful. I would describe it as incredibly intense but not painful. I loved my whole experience (minus the nausea!) and just feel like the whole thing was such a wonderful present. It truly was a gift and I praise God for the experience.
Enough words. Here are some pictures:
We love you so much, Charley Graham! <3