Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Charley's birth story

Back to blogging!  Inspired by the birth of a sweet baby girl.  Charlotte Lane Copeland was born on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm.  She weighed in at 7 lb 12 oz and measured 21 inches.  She is a beautiful baby.  Of my 4 babies, Charley's birth story is by far the most dramatic.  Here's how it went down - all the gorey details so beware.

On Friday night, the 2nd, Will and I were getting ready to go to a dinner party.  We had a babysitter coming to watch the kids.  Before we left I went to the bathroom and I had lost my mucous plug.  With my other babies, that was the first sign that this child would be heading out in the next day or two.  I told Will, who was kind of thinking "yikes", as was I.  We went on to the dinner party and the night went by with no action.  But I had this growing feeling of anxiety that something was going to happen any minute.

Not so.  The weekend passed by uneventfully.  Will was on night call so we were glad to get through Saturday and Sunday.  Monday came and went.

Around 2:30 in the morning on Tuesday I woke up.  I was having contractions here and there but nothing regular.  I was sick to my stomach but I had been feeling a little nauseous from anxiety since Friday night.  I didn't feel like laying in bed so I got up and just started going through a giant stack of papers that had been on my to-do list.  Will woke up about 5:30 and sat with me.  I was continuing to have contractions but still nothing regular.  I would have some 3 or 4 minutes apart and then 15 minutes apart.  Some of them were really intense and some not so much.  My 39 week prenatal appointment was scheduled for 9:00 that morning so we decided to go to that.  We were going to take the 3 kids with us but then Will convinced me that we better go ahead and leave them with Laura Shotts (our dear friend and neighbor) to be safe.  We tossed our hospital bags in the car just in case too.

Before we left Liam asked me, "Mom, will you cry when the baby comes out?"  I said, "Oh no, baby, I don't think so."  What I didn't know was that the right answer was, "oh yes.  I will cry.  A whole lot."

We got to the appointment and I was having hard contractions.  I checked in at the front desk and then started pacing the waiting room.  They called me back and I was seeing one of the midwives that I hadn't met before.  I told her that I had been contracting all morning, and I thought maybe she should check my cervix to see where I was at.  I was having trouble reading my body and gaging where I was at based on my sporatic contractions.  She was making small talk about how she liked my glasses and I was thinking, "Do you hear what I'm saying lady? I'm in labor.  Check my cervix!"

She checked me, got this strange look on her face and said, "We have a problem."  (Note to midwives/OB's:  Don't check a woman's cervix and then say, "We have a problem.")  I started to cry (crying #1) because I had known in the back of my mind all morning that something was off.

The midwife said that I was fully dilated.  My bag of waters was bulging but not broken and she couldn't feel the baby's head.  She did a quick ultrasound to check the position of the baby and discovered that she was transverse - laying sideways in my belly instead of head down in my pelvis.  So I was 10 centimeters dilated but wasn't feeling an urge to push because Charley wasn't in position to come out.

She quickly stuck me in a wheel chair and sent me over to labor and delivery.  A midwife that I new and really liked, Judi, was waiting for me there and I was glad that she was on to deliver.

In the past I've labored in my own gowns from home but I hadn't brought my bag in and at that point I didn't want Will to leave me.  So I put on one of the hospital gowns.  Ugh.  At that point I felt like a patient instead of a laboring women going through the normal and natural process of birth.  (That's right, I also hug trees and don't shave my legs.)

I became a patient really quick after that.  I layed down on the bed, felt a big swelling sensation and then POP my water burst all over the bed. Then very quickly the room was packed with people - the chief OB resident, an OB consultant, a couple of anesthesia people, a few nurses.  The sequence of events is fuzzy for me, but it seemed as if everyone in the room wanted to see how far they could stick their arm up my woman parts.  It was horrible.  I was crying (crying #2) and they kept checking to see what they could feel.  They obviously couldn't feel the baby's head, as hard as they tried.  They did an ultrasound to see what was down there.  Now that my water had broken their chief concern was that the chord would fall out and get pinched, cutting off the baby's lifeline.  From what they could see on ultrasound, the chord hadn't prolapsed and Charley was laying oblique - sort of caddy corner with her head by my hip.

Everyone started telling me all of the risks that lay ahead of me and baby and that the next step was for me to get prepped for a c-section.  Then they wanted to try to do an external version.  If they could turn the baby and get her down in my pelvis then I could have a vaginal birth.  If not, I would go straight to a c-section.  They suggested I get an epidural now so that it would already be in place in the event I had to have a c-section.  If I didn't get the epidural then they would have to put me under general anesthesia to do the c-section.

I kept hearing C-SECTION, C-SECTION, C-SECTION.  Do you understand your risks? What do you want to do?  Do you want us to try the version?  Do you want the epidural?  Do you want morphine in your epidural? Can we go ahead and hook up the IV?

Anesthesia started sticking my hand and getting fluids going.  I was laying there, totally overwhelmed and looking at Will to speak for me.  He was super calm.  After three uncomplicated, natural births I couldn't get my head around how this was spinning out of my control.  I was thinking, "Wait, wait, wait.  I have written a beautiful birth plan.  I don't think I made enough copies for you all but would you like to read it?  It involves no IVs, epidurals, or c-sections.  As a matter of fact, right now I should be in my birthday suit relaxing in a warm tub of water as I calmly hum through contractions with my labor coach and midwife."

Thankfully everyone but Will and Judi left the room so we could think for a minute.  I asked if I could just stand up and see if Charley would drop into my pelvis on her own.  Judi told me again about the risks of the chord prolapsing.  She thought the best thing was to get the epidural and go for the version with hopes that it would work and we wouldn't have to do a c-section.  Will was saying the same thing.  He prayed over me and Charley and then called in the 47 people waiting outside our room.

I started to cry (crying #3) when they rolled me in to the OR.  It felt scary and way out of my comfort zone.  Will kept talking to me to keep me calm.  I think I would have paniced if he hadn't been so steady and calm.  Love that man.

After the epidural was put in they were ready to try the version.  Will was sitting on my right and said to be prepared for things to happen really fast if the version wasn't successfull.

The version was successfull!  The doctor pushed on my belly and got Charley to drop down in my pelvis and she stayed there.  It went from chaos to calm.  I went back to the labor and delivery room.  I didn't feel the urge to push yet so Will and I walked around the hospital for about 45 minutes.  I never really felt the urge to push but finally just decided to go for it.  Judi came in and after 10 minutes of painful pushing, Charley was born!  And of course I was crying - but tears of joy.
It's the best thing in the world when that baby finally comes out - so many emotions.  So glad to have her in my arms.  So happy that she's healthy.  So stinkin' relieved that labor is over.  Our midwife Judi was great and we had a really good nurse too.  Our nurse said that she had worked there for 7 years and had never seen a baby turn successfully.  So we were that much more thankful that everything had gone so well... and I must say, although I wished them away at first, thankful for the medical team that helped make it happen.  We moved on to recovery and by supper time Will's mom had flown in from Little Rock and brought the rest of our little offspring up to the hospital.

meeting Charley
 3 sisters
One sweet brother
 family of 6
This girl is precious and we are at home now loving her and learning about life with 4 kids.  Will's mom was here for a week and now my mom and dad are here through Thanksgiving.  I'm so thankful for their help.  I'm thankful to God for the sweet gift of Charley and I thank him so much for my family.  I also plea to Him to give me super mom powers when all of my company leaves and life carries on!


  1. what an amazing story! you and your family continue to amaze me. Thank you for your inspiration, wonderous faith and great writing skills! still waiting for that book .....

  2. Love this! So glad things went well and life is good... Hugs!

  3. Oh, Alisa! I wept when I read this story. Maybe it's partly because Sarah's recent birth story was quite traumatic too. Praise God for turning that baby! He is so good! Love you-all six of you.

  4. what a suspenseful story!!! so thankful it ended with such a wonderful conclusion:) congratulations!!!!