Charlotte Denise Gravett was born on Saturday, October 4th. Here is her birth story.
Starting around the middle of September my doctor noticed that my uterus was measuring smaller than it should be. It had stayed the same size for 3 weeks in a row and it made my doctor concerned that Charly wasn't growing properly. He had me hook up to a fetal monitor and lay down for 20 minutes to see how she was doing. She was doing great, with good heart acceleration during contractions. And he was pleased that I was having contractions! We decided to just have a couple of appointments to monitor Charly during the week and see how she was doing at the next appointment. She always did great during these monitoring sessions, moving plenty of times and getting her heart rate up when I had contractions.
Dr. Ofori was still concerned that she wasn't growing, though, because the measurement wasn't increasing. He said that he didn't think he would let me go past 39 weeks because there was no point keeping her in past that if she wasn't getting the benefit of added growth. She would grow after she was born and started nursing, and her lungs and organs would be developed enough. So we started to expect that I would be induced by the end of September. To complicate matters, my doctor went on vacation for the last week of September, so I had to do one fetal monitoring session with a doctor in St. George, and if I had gone into labor before then I would have had to deliver in St. George. But I didn't go into labor, Dr. Ofori came back, and--surprise!!--Dr. Ofori was so pleased with how well she was doing (and that she had grown a little bit), that he decided not to induce me after all.
By this time, I was so ready to be done being pregnant that I was not at all pleased with this news. I'd told my mom about his plans to induce me, so on October 1st she drove to Mesquite, leaving home before my appointment. When I called her with the news, she decided to just come anyway and see if she could help me go into labor. I'd been having some pretty strong regular contractions during the night for several nights, all of them coming around 3 or 3:30, so she was pretty sure that I would go into labor soon.
As a funny side note, the first time I woke up with these contractions, I was so sure that I was going into labor, and that I would have the baby that day. I had read several birth stories that talked about going into labor at night, and they all mentioned staying in bed for as long as possible and getting all the rest you could. So I stayed in bed, but I started timing contractions. They stayed strong for a long time, but they were very sporadic, not predictable at all. Every night, they would eventually stop. So disappointing!
We did a lot of walking (although I'd already been walking a lot with Lizzy Jo before her arrival), and I did some squats at the park while Mom played with Lizzy Jo. But mostly we had fun, talked, and my mom let me rest while she took care of Lizzy. I knew from my labor with Lizzy Jo that I wanted to be well rested going into labor.
On Saturday morning I woke up at 3:50 with contractions again. Again, I tried to rest through them, not even bothering to time them at first because I'd been disappointed so many times. Finally around 5:00 I started timing them, and they were getting pretty regular. Dave was sleeping on the couch (he frequently does that because he wakes up in the night and will get back to sleep better if he changes locations), so without worrying about waking him, I got up and started moving around in the bedroom getting things together and just seeing if the movement would make the contractions stop. The contractions felt less painful when I wasn't lying down, but they stayed pretty regular. I became pretty sure that this was the real deal. I tried sleeping again for a while, but they were strong enough that I couldn't sleep. I just laid there and rested.
Around 7, I got up and went out to the couch to let Dave know what was going on. He asked me what I wanted to do. I decided that I wanted to go for a walk to see if more exertion would stop the contractions. I knew that if they didn't stop, walking would help move Charly down and I was okay with that. We peeked into my mom's room and let her know we were leaving and to listen for when Lizzy Jo woke up. We started walking our usual route around the neighborhood, but decided to leave off one of the loops in case we wanted to get home faster than usual. It was a good thing too, because the walking intensified my contractions. We'd walked about 10 minutes when I had a contraction that I had to lean on Dave to get through. At that point we decided to head home and stay a little closer.
We ate breakfast, got Lizzy Jo up, and I sat on a birthing ball to help the contractions move Charly down. My mom wanted to make a Christmas stocking for her while she was here, so she helped me look through her Christmas fabric and choose what I liked. Lizzy wanted me to hold her a little while, and I did hold her through a few contractions, but I was starting to get more uncomfortable and decided that I wanted to get into the tub.
We had a walk-in tub in our guest bathroom (we've since removed it to replace it with a regular tub) that I used for laboring. It was so nice to kneel in the tub and lean on the seat, letting the warm water soothe my belly while squatting and still remaining mostly vertical. I used a tub at the hospital to labor in with Lizzy Jo, but I didn't really know how to use it that well. I stayed in a mostly reclined position, and while it was soothing, I think that my labor may have been shorter if I'd walked around instead of using it.
I was in the tub for at least 1.5 hours. Lizzy Jo came in to say hi to me once, but mostly I was alone during this time. Dave was playing with Lizzy to keep her from bothering me and to keep her from really noticing or becoming anxious about my labor. My mom worked on the Christmas stocking! And I listened to my Hypnobirthing CDs and relaxed. I can't remember now why I decided to get out of the tub. I think that my mom had come in to check on me and just saw how things were progressing, and suggested that I might find it easier to go to the hospital now and labor more there, rather than laboring at home and then having to face the more difficult labor while in the car.
I got out of the tub, and couldn't get myself dressed! I would just be getting ready to get clothes on when I'd have a contraction and have to sit down through it. My mom came back to check on me, and she had to help me dress. I thought she would have told Dave what was going on, but he later told me that he was surprised to find me getting ready to go to the hospital and my mom dressing me!
We got into the car, drove ALL the way to the hospital (Haha! It's less than 5 minutes away from our house.), and realized that I'd forgotten my purse, which had my ID in it. We drove home again, got it, and drove back to the hospital. I'd told Dave on our way there the first time that I would just walk into the hospital. But when we got there the second time, he said he'd go get a wheelchair, and I didn't fight him on it. I was definitely feeling the pain.
Because it was Saturday, we checked in through the emergency room entrance, then Dave wheeled me up to the 2nd floor to the maternity wing. The nurses were great getting me comfortable and settled in. They said to just do whatever we wanted, and they meant it! I was laboring at the hospital from around 11:30 to 3:30, and they only came in to check on me a couple of times. They never did any fetal monitoring, and only checked my progress once or twice.
Dr. Ofori came in to see how things were going, and just said, "Okay, you're doing great. I think we're going to see the baby soon." Because I'd labored for 12 hours at the hospital with Lizzy Jo (because we went so soon after labor started), I didn't think he could be right. But when he checked me a little while later, he said that I was nearly complete, and asked if I would like him to break my water so that I could dilate that last bit. I said yes, and it was awful to lie down for him to do it (I'd labored the entire time sitting on the edge of the bed), but it wasn't too much longer before my contractions started to change. Really, I didn't feel like my contractions changed, but I felt like I was reacting to them differently. I was having a harder time remaining calm through them, and my groans through contractions were more like unsteady wails. The nurse came in and said, "She sounds pushy!" She asked me if I felt like I had to push, but I really didn't. Soon after that, the doctor asked if I'd gone to the bathroom since I'd arrived at the hospital, and when I said no he said that my bladder was acting as a cushion that was keeping her head from descending the last bit. I got up and peed, and then the rubber really hit the road! I was in pain, and I felt like it really couldn't be as close as they kept saying. I still didn't feel the need to push, but they asked me to push during the next contraction while Dr Ofori held back a lip of cervix that was still in the way. I pushed through the next contraction, and Charly was born!
She weighed 6 lbs 8 oz (3 oz more than Lizzy Jo had weighed), and was 20 inches (same height), so I've often wondered about the fuss over her not growing! Yes, I make small babies, but she was slightly bigger than Lizzy.
One more thing to note: When Lizzy Jo came into my recovery room to see her sister for the first time, she squealed, "Hold it!!" She has never lost her enthusiasm for her sister. During the first few months she did try to push her off my lap a couple of times, and she bit her arm once for no reason that she was able to explain to me. But other than those instances, she has appeared totally devoted to her sister, at times calling her "My Dear", "My Baby", and talking to her in baby talk and a loving voice. She loves to get right up into her face to say hi and give her hugs, which Charly has recently started to complain about. She's getting strong enough to push her sister away sometimes! Some pictures of the girls tomorrow.