navy claire charlotte's debut on earth

We did it! We made another human. It truly never gets old and the miracle of life is just as unreal and mysterious as ever.

We have another wonderful story to tell about Navy's birth which was very different in many ways than Caspers and just as sweet and special - like all birth stories (ok, I know, I know, I'm obsessed!)
Finally got some time to sit down and pen out all the fine details of this day. I know most details are uninteresting but I like to keep them logged for my own memory bank. So sorry if they are boring!

Wednesday, May 17: 
I was 40 weeks and 3 days, and at my midwife appointment that day, I asked Steph if she could preform a stretch and sweep on me to get things going. I think it was the catalyst my body needed to get labor started!
I left the appointment feeling the residual cramping but also super hopeful that the baby may actually make her debut soon -- I just had a gut feeling.


Thursday, May 18th, 5:30pm:
I was making dinner in the kitchen when I felt a small gush and then the trickle of liquid run down my leg. I was skeptical if it even was amniotic fluid because it was such a small amount and we're still not sure if it was actually.
Lucas was suppose to go to a movie in a few hours and I told him he should stay home in case I was going to go into labor, and I called my mom and asked her to stay the night in case we had to make a swift trip to the hospital... just in case.

Of course it didn't happen like that at all. My mom and Lucas and I stayed up until about 10pm playing scrabble (for tradition's sake) and I was actually starting to feel some tightenings that were bothering me. This was my excuse for losing terribly at scrabble anyways so I'm going with it.

When Lucas and I went to bed, I was finding it hard to sleep. I was experiencing some labor contractions every so often. The time in between them was sometimes 15-20 minutes and sometimes 5 minutes so it was so hard to know where I was in my progression. I sort of slept - not great - for about 90 minutes.


Friday, May 19th, 2am:
By now, I was pretty sure I was 5cm dilated and ready to head to the hospital as the contractions were picking up speed. I called the Midwife and Cora was on call that night (I was so excited I got the same midwife for both my babys births!) and she was there in 15 minutes. She examined my cervix and I was only 1.5cm dilated. Womp womp. I was honestly more embarrassed than anything and felt so bad for waking her up. She encouraged me to relax, have a bath, and try to labor at home for a little while longer and reminded me the signs to watch for that would demonstrate I was in active labor. For the next few hours I tried laboring without any help but was feeling kind of weak so I had Lucas call Marie, my Doula, so she could help with some of the pain management.

Marie arrived! She hooked a TENS onto my back and she massaged me on the couch. My mom slept in our bed while Lucas tried sleeping next to me. I feel bad because that would have been near impossible with the sounds I was making every time I had a contraction but of course he was a great sport about it. My labor sounds were different with this labor than my last - last time they were kind of like a moo or a bellow and this time they were actually like a growl! Marie was tracking my contraction time and lengths so that we could be more confident with the next call we made.

Casper was awake and my mom was too. So strange to labor with a small toddler hanging out. He was basically unphased by my antics except that he was mimicing my breathing and he could kind of tell something was weird. It actually gave me so much comfort when he would make funny comments or ask me for something right in the middle of a contraction. And unlike the last time she saw me labor, my mom got kind of choked up.
We called Cora again. Marie talked to her and let her know how frequent the contractions were at this point and about how long they were lasting. Cora said she would come over. I prayed it wouldn't be in vain.

Cora arrived and, yay, I was 4cm! We decided to just head to the hospital as I wanted to make sure I didn't miss my window for the epidural and also because I just had to get my hands on the glorious laughing gas. Our drive to the hospital sucked because it was high traffic so I think I had to endure about 6 contractions on the drive which doesn't seem like a lot but it sure felt like it was!

Friday morning: 
We got to our room and met the nurse, Helen, and well let me tell you, she had lots of opinions about the epidural and tried talking me out of it. A lot. At one point I had to tell her off basically and then she stopped badgering me. I hung out around the bed on the birthing ball just sucking back the laughing gas every time I had a contraction. It truly is magical how much better it made me feel but all that relaxing caused my labor to totally slow down! So Lucas and I decided to pick up the pace by taking walks around the birthing ward and up and down the stairs. People kept asking us if we were lost.
Side note: Lucas enjoyed some of the laughing gas too this time and he was also a fan. 

We went back and forth between doing the walks to keep labor moving, but also stopping in our room so I could pee every 5 minute and inhale some laughing gas. Unlike the last birth, I never got in the tub once! I really didn't want labor to slow down so I opted to stay out where I could continue to move around. I asked Cora when I should get the epidural and she encouraged me to try and last until I was 7cm and I agreed that sounded like a good plan.

I met our student nurse, Erin, who would be there to observe the birth. She was so kind and pretty and had great brows.
I also met the anesthesiologist, Johnny, who was so dashing and handsome and had a soothing British accent (why are British accents so soothing?!). I thought Erin and Johnny would have made a great couple but I also saw that he had a wedding ring so probably wouldn't work out.

I also decided that morning to donate our cord blood so I signed some waivers to do that.

I asked Cora to examine my cervix as I was sure I was near 7cm if not more. She checked and said I was 6cm but definitely a good time to request the epidural. They went over all of the risks with getting an epidural and made me sign a release. I was so petrified I was going to be the very small rare chance of having permanent nerve damage. Everyone assured me they only mention it because they have to and the chances are so incredibly slim. When Johnny came, he made me wear a special gown that covers you in the front but exposes your ass and a blue bonnet on my head to hold all my hair. He had me sit on the bed with my back to him (duh) and Cora was in front of me probably to support me and ensure that I would not be moving around during the important needle. Johnny described to me everything before he did it which was so nice and reassuring. When he gave me the numbing needle, it felt exactly like the needle you get in your mouth when you get a filling. Gross! And then he inserted the big needle and it felt weird. Weird, and cold, and strange. That plus having a super intense contraction wasn't much fun. He waited until after my contraction ended which I was grateful for. But it still felt weird and I was still worried I was going to have permanent nerve damage (FYI, I did not).
I lied down and let the epidural do it's thing. Johnny told me my contractions would slowly feel shorter and shorter and he was right! About 30 minutes later I hardly felt a thing yet I could still wiggle my toes.
Lucas and I had a nap and I told him to call our birth photographer who said she was off work at 1:30pm and could come if we were still in labor after that. I knew we would be so I told him to tell her to come! I also told him to ask her to bring me an Egg McMuffin from McDonalds. Don't ask me why.

Our photographer Clare arrived and I felt bad she had nothing to photograph. It was literally me just lying there hanging out haha. (By the way, how lovely are her pictures? I'm so grateful she was wanting to use me to build her portfolio because I cannot afford birth photography. Let me know if you want to see the graphic ones - they are pretty neat!)
Cora came in and I asked her why my lower abdomen was all puffy and round and she said "oh, that's your bladder - it's full" and so I had to get up and pee. My epidural was so good, it made me not even feel the need to pee (something I hadn't gone more than 10 minutes without feeling for the past few weeks)! I was able to walk to the toilet with very little help although my legs totally felt like jello. It was a little bit demoralizing not being able to walk on my own but to be honest, this rest and painless labor was dang worth it!
Cora examined my cervix again and found I had only dilated a tiny bit since the epidural. This is expected but we still wanted to move things along so she broke my water with what looks like a crochet hook and I sat on the birthing ball instead of lying in the bed. This was the really demoralizing part when I went to sit on the ball instead my legs totally gave out and I fell on my butt. It was a soft fall as Cora and Helen were there to catch me but wow the room got tense -- no big deal guys just falling on my butt. It happens.
I asked to eat my Egg McMuffin but Cora told me I shouldn't as it might make me nauseous and throw up. I didn't want that to happen but was SO excited to eat it so I took two bites to see how it went.

I had two more bites of my Egg McMuffin. I didn't eat the rest until after Navy was born (and I didn't wait long to do that).
While I sat on the birthing ball, we played Heads Up on Lucas's phone. There were literally so many people in the room and thought it would be a good game we could all join in on. There was me, Lucas, Marie the doula, Cora the midwife, Helen the nurse, Erin the student nurse, and Clare the photographer. It was a party!
All the sudden, I started feeling my contractions again. And actually was having to breathe through them - like, they were painful! We decided to stop playing Heads Up.

Everyone except for the nurses and Cora left the room and she examined me one last time and saw that I was fully dilated and ready to push. The rest of the squad came back into the room and they got me situated on the birthing bar with a sheet draped over it for me to pull down on. The first big push I made felt very weird as I couldn't really sense the baby was coming down at all (because of the epidural) but Cora assured me I was pushing her down really well! I also peed all over the bed. So that was really embarrassing.

Navy was crowning at this point and in between contractions, they measured the baby's heart rate which, to my dismay and worry, it was very slow. I instantly knew it wasn't good and Cora confirmed, "Rena your baby's heart rate is slowing down now so we do need to try and get the baby out soon" and my animal instincts kicked in. On my next contraction I pushed with all my might like I might pop a blood vessel. I pushed so hard, in fact, that I was instructed to only do half-pushes after that and then, to not push at all.

On the "not push at all" breath of the contraction, Navy's head glided out so easily and gently and it was so perfect. Such a calm entry into the world compared to the cannon entrance of her brother. Cora saw the exact cause of the low heart rate - Navy's cord was wrapped around her neck. So she did some kind of amazing turn of Navy's body and with barely any effort at all, I pushed out the rest of her slippery, purple, soft body and held her on my chest.

Apparently after she was born and I was holding her, I had some kind of manic laughter which I do not remember. Proof that you can get those amazing endorphins without having a totally natural birth.

I love that I can share my experience in both a totally natural birth in water, and a birth with an epidural. If you or anyone you know is looking to understand the difference, let me know! I am happy to share what I liked and didn't like about
each one.

Thanks for reading this story of how a human was brought earth side into this world. So thankful to God for the health of everyone and for such a beautiful delivery. We feel very blessed!