I am starting her story out 3 weeks before she made her appearance into this world.
At 37 weeks I started having contractions that were very regular and uncomfortable, but not near painful enough to warrant going to the hospital. I continued to have these contractions (Braxton Hicks) and at my 38 week check-up I was dilated to 1cm. Imagine how overjoyed I was at that 1cm. I thought for sure she would come sometime that week. Also at this appointment they found a little bit of protein in my urine. That, mixed with other symptoms I was already having, it looked like I was on my way to getting preeclampsia. Blah. But because my blood pressure wasn't very high they did not worry about it.
At 39 weeks I was still only at 1cm and much more protein was found, along with higher blood pressure, severe headaches, vision changes, and upper abdomen pain. The decision was made that if she did not come that week they would induce me on my due date April 21st. I did everything I could think of to get her to come, but alas she was perfectly content where she was. I on the other hand was very uncomfortable and the above mentioned symptoms continued to get worse.
Sunday evening at 7:30 we checked into Deaconess Hospital to get me started on Cervadil (a cervix softener), which would have to stay in for 12 hours. Throughout the night I had mild cramping and contractions. It was about 4:30am when they became too painful to sleep through. At 5:00am I woke Luke to help me through them. Because my body had kicked into labor, they decided to hold off on the pitocin to see how I would do on my own.
Throughout the whole morning and part of the afternoon I was having painful and relatively close together contractions. I did everything I was taught in birthing class - walking around, sitting on the birthing ball, breathing, soaking in the jacuzzi, etc. Nothing was helping with the pain or to distract me. FYI, trying to breathe through a contraction is bogus. I would either hold my breath, or when Luke reminded me to breathe, I would just start hyperventilating every time.
With all of the above mentioned, I thought I was doing so great! I just knew when they checked me that they would say it was almost time to push. I just knew I was making so much progress. After all, I was doing everything right. About 1:00pm they came in to check my progress. I couldn't wait to hear how great I was doing. You can only imagine my despair when they said I was only at 1 1/2cm and 90% effaced (that morning I had been 60%). I thought, "Are you kidding me?!?!?!". After all that time and pain and hardly any progress at all?? I was so discouraged. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to go all the way to 10cm at that pace. I just started crying into Luke's arms after they left.
It was about this point that I talked with Luke about getting an epidural after all. I had gone in with the determination that I would not have any pain meds or even an I.V line put in place. I was gonna do this all natural. I had told Luke beforehand to not let me. I told him that even if I begged him and gave him the crazy talk that he was to not let me do it. And to my utter disappointment, he held true to that. I was so angry. I thought, "How could he deny me the relief I was so desperately needing?" "How could he sit there watching me go through this pain?!". Now before you all go thinking, "Geeze what a jerk", he honestly was just trying to do as I told him before. He was afraid I would regret my decision afterwards and he was worried I would have a bad reaction to it.
We decided to talk with the doctor to see what other options we had at that point. We went with the option of having I.V. pain meds - Fentnol, and a Foley catheter being inserted to help me dilate faster. I was more worried about getting this method of pain control because I knew it would make me nauseous. It also wears off pretty fast and I didn't want another dose. It did, however, take the edge off of the pain for a little while. It also made me super dizzy. I felt like I was on drugs, well I was, but you know what I mean. I remember whenever I would look at the blinds they would shake and go blurry. So I had to close my eyes to keep from getting too dizzy. Kind of weird.
As it began to wear off I became extremely nauseous, and the pain was intensifying. Right in the middle of a painful and big contraction I started throwing up. I was miserable. I was crying. I just wanted it to end. I told Luke - in a very firm voice - that I was getting that epidural. I think he realized how serious I was and told the nurse my decision. That was about 2:30pm. Now, in order to have an epi put in place, they have to give you A LOT of fluids to help your vains dilate. She told me I would have to wait until the entire bag of saline had gone into my system before I could be given the epi. I sat there, staring at that bag as it slowly, drip by drip, emptied into me. I willed it to go faster. I was panicking at that point - it was around this time when I was no longer myself. Before this point I wouldn't cry or show pain to anyone but Luke. So when nurses and what not would come to check on me, I made it like I was doing just fine. I was also pretty nice to Luke throughout, but like I said, around this point I just wasn't myself and didn't care what anyone thought of me. I was openly crying now in front of everyone and snapping at Luke for the littlest things - like holding my hand wrong - and I wanted that epidural STAT! I thought at any moment I was going to die before they could give it to me. For anyone who doesn't and won't ever know what a contraction feels like, a real one, it hurts really bad. Like, really bad. To me, it felt like someone was inside of me rearranging all of my bones, muscles, cartilage, tissues, etc. I tried relaxing in between contractions, but all I could think about was that another one was going to start up in about 60 seconds.
At 3:00 pm the anesthesiologist finally made his appearance. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I was shaking and crying and told him that I had changed my mind (I had spoken with him that morning). He said he was surprised at how long I had waited! They got me into position, gave me a pillow to hold, and told me to hold very still. There I was, pillow in one arm, and a puking bag in the other, the nurse holding my shoulders, and Luke somewhere in the background. I was trying my hardest to hold still. I was terrified that a contraction would start and I wouldn't be able to. The anesthesiologist was working as fast as he could. The most painful part of it was the needle in the beginning, but after that it was just weird sensations. I think he was in the middle of inserting the catheter when I felt a contraction coming on. I started hyperventilating trying to hold still, but in so much pain it was near impossible. Throughout all of it I was still crying and shaking. How much longer before he would be done??
Once he was finished, Luke and the nurse helped me back into bed. At last, after 10 1/2 hours of pure torture, the epi started taking effect. It was heaven compared to the hell I had just gone through. I lay there in a relaxed daze. I looked at the monitor and saw that I was having a big contraction and I smiled. Yes, I was smiling through a contraction! I felt no more pain. All I felt was sweet warmth flooding my lower body. I could finally stop squeezing the life out of Luke's hand and I could stop squeezing the bed handles. It was at this point they started me on a little pitocin.
I realized Luke hadn't had anything to eat all day. So I sent him down to the cafeteria. While he was gone I heard a weird popping noise. I couldn't reach my call button, but I had my cell phone close by. I called Luke telling him what I had heard. Once he got back we called for the nurse and she said it was either my water breaking or the balloon (Foley catheter) had popped. It was the balloon. I was dilated 6cm and 90% effaced!!!!! It was the best news I had heard all day! This was at 5:30pm. Things went pretty quickly after this so I don't remember a lot. I do remember being put on oxygen at some point, and I remember being moved from side to side. As I was laying in my bed, oxygen mask on, I got very calm. But not your typical calm, but like the calm before the storm kind of way. I felt out of it, and most of all, scared. I knew I was getting closer to the pushing part and it was this part that terrified me the most out of everything. I was scared of everything that had to do with pushing - that I wouldn't be strong enough to push flesh and bones out of me (I was extremely tired at this point), that I would tear, that she would get stuck and they would either have to use forceps/vacuum or do a C-Section...I was just so scared and I lay there internalizing it all. Becoming more scared.
Around 7:00pm I was dilated 8cm. They called the on-call midwife (my doctor ended up taking a higher-risk pregnancy so I was given a midwife I had never met before). Her name was Renata and she was so wonderful! She told me the baby was in a transverse position so she had me lay on my side with the peanut ball in between my legs to help her move into the right position.
At 7:50pm I was 10cm and 100% effaced. I started pushing - they told me that with each contraction I was to push at least 3 times for as long as I could - holding my breath. The first push with each contraction I did fine, but by the second and third pushes I had no more breath. I felt like I was going to pass out. In between each contraction they gave me oxygen to help me catch my breath. They kept encouraging me and telling me I was doing so good, but I felt like I wasn't making any progress. And I was just so so tired! I felt like I was running out of strength and I wouldn't be able to push her out. They told me they could see her head and that she had beautiful dark hair - bow worthy hair. That motivated me to keep going. It was starting to hurt more and more as she got closer to crowning. I didn't want to do it anymore. I felt myself ripping and a burning sensation and told them I couldn't do it anymore. They just said to push through that burning. I started crying and wailing and screaming. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. I don't recall specific details (Luke had to tell me everything afterwards). And then, before I knew it, she was out. It was all a blur.
At 8:31pm Charlotte Hope Phillips was laid on my tummy. I remember my first thought was, "Her eyes are so beautiful." She was crying and looking around all confused. I started crying even more. She was finally here. She was finally in my arms. This was the moment I had been waiting for. Then, she pooped all over my tummy, haha. Luke cut the cord then came over by my side. We just stared at our new daughter. So beautiful and perfect in every way. Fresh from heaven.
I had labored for a total of 16 hours with 40 minutes of that spent pushing. I had lost a lot of blood, I had a 2nd degree tear, I was bleeding out of my I.V. line, and I strained my pubic symphesis, but she was here. Nothing else mattered. I couldn't keep my eyes off her. She was ours. We had gotten through this trying experience together. Luke was the best support anyone could ever ask for. It was a tender moment when I saw him hold her for the first time. I'll never forget it.