We welcomed our precious daughter, Charlotte Katherine Newman, into the world on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at 6:10 PM. She weighed 7 lbs, 13 oz and was 20.5 inches long. She has chubby cheeks, the most beautiful full lips, plenty of dark hair, blue eyes, long feet and fingers, and a tiny little nose.
I had started having contractions around 37 weeks. Just early/latent labor. I asked my mom how was I going to know when the contractions were "real." She said "Oh, don't worry. You'll know." And man, she was right. I knew. We went to dinner with my dad at the Mermaid on that Friday night, and during dinner I noticed that the contractions were getting to be a little more intense. We had actually gone to the hospital Friday morning because I had some bleeding. They had put me on the monitor and baby girl was fine. I was only dilated 1 cm, so they sent me home. The plan was to be induced Monday (the day after my due date) if she didn't come that weekend. My doctor was amazing and let me make the decisions. Even though I didn't want to be induced, because of my residency schedule, I couldn't really wait too long past my due date. Plus, as a pediatrician, I just don't think there's much benefit to babies staying in utero past 40 weeks. I've seen too many broken clavicles and nerve palsies. So it was my decision, and I felt good about it. So anyway, since I had already made a trip to the hospital that day, I didn't think much of these contractions since I knew I wasn't dilated very much. We went home and went to bed. At 10:30, the contractions woke me up. They took my breath away. I laid there and timed them. Four minutes apart. I thought that this was for real, but they tell you to call if you've had painful contractions 5 minutes apart for an hour. For some reason, I waited 2 hours. I had already been to the hospital, so I didn't want to be sent home again. Finally, at 12:30 that night, I was sitting on the edge of the bed gripping the mattress, and I told Matt to get up. We were going to the hospital. Matt jumped out of bed like a ninja and began panicking. I called the on-call doctor and told him that I'd had contractions every 4 minutes for 2 hours, and he said "Well, sounds like we're going to have a baby soon! Come on in." Holy cow.
I got my epidural at 9:30 because I'm a wimp and thought I might die otherwise. I was not trying to be a hero. I'm all about some anesthesia. Kudos to all you mamas who want an all-natural labor and delivery, sans anesthesia. I don't know if you're crazy or your pain receptors don't work right, but good for you. Not this girl. The doctor thought if I relaxed with an epidural, it might speed things up anyway. I told him to sign me up. After it was in, I think I told the anesthesiologist that I loved him. My mom told Matt that now he could tell me when I was having contractions!
At 2:00 that afternoon, I was 8 cm. So close! However, at 5:30, I was still only 8 cm. Once you get to 7-8 cm, it shouldn't take long to become fully dilated. The doctor, who was absolutely wonderful, knew that I didn't want a section, so he let me go for as long as possible. At 5:30, he came in and told me he was getting worried about Charlotte. She was getting pretty tachycardic with every contraction. It had been about 19 hours, and she was getting tired. I knew that she was only going to become more distressed if we waited, and I wanted my baby girl to arrive safely and healthy. The doctor held my hand and told me that I had done a great job and that I was already a great mother. I cried. I had so wanted to be able to deliver her, but I just wanted the best thing for her, and at that point, she needed to come out!
While we waited for them to prep an OR, my mom put some eyeshadow and blush on me. I may have been a bit of an emotional train wreck. I was already crying because I was upset that I had to have a section, and I was worried about Charlotte, and I looked a mess anyway since we had gone to the hospital at 1:00 AM. I told mama that I was sad that my first pictures of my daughter and I were going to be terrible. So she put makeup on me, like a good mama would. Looking back now, that's so funny to me. My dad stood by and held my vomit bucket. (Oh, yes. I threw up all during my 20 hours of labor. It was really special.) Matt gowned up and stood by the bed freaking out. Then they came to wheel me away for surgery.
I tried to forget that my delivery wasn't going as planned and just get excited that I was soon going to be holding my child! I remember it being SO cold in the OR. I was shivering so hard. I remember them telling me to fold my hands over my chest so they could move me over from my bed to the operating table. They had re-dosed my epidural, and it had affected all the way up to the level of my arms. I could hardly move them, and I was telling them, "I can't! I can't! Am I supposed to be able to?!" Anesthesia told me to calm down, and he moved my arms for me. Before they got started, Matt leaned down close to my face and said a prayer. The doctors started saying things like, "Oh, she's got lots of hair!" and other comments describing her. I freaked out a little because I thought she was out, and she wasn't crying. I think my heart rate shot up, and I asked them why wasn't my baby crying. Anesthesia told me to calm down (again- he probably thought I was nuts), and informed me that she wasn't all the way out yet. They told me that my chest may hurt, and oh my gosh it did. They pushed my uterus up to pull her out, and I thought, this is what people feel like when they have a heart attack. It was terrible! A couple of minutes (seconds?) later, I heard an angry little cry, and they raised her above the drape so I could see her. Tears filled my eyes, and I was so relieved to see a pink, crying baby! Then I asked them what her Apgars were, like a huge nerd. (They were 9 and 9--good girl!)
Our first family picture!
Holding her for the very first time.
At the hospital where I delivered, there are cameras in the hallway where they tell the families to wait. They gave Charlotte to Matt, and he walked down the hall to show everyone our new little bundle of joy. There are screens in the OR so that I could watch it! It was really neat because I could see everyone's reaction, even though I was stuck on the operating table. Matt was terrified to walk and hold her at the same time. He was super awkward.
She is absolutely beautiful, and I remember holding her for the first time in the recovery room and feeling so overwhelmed with love. I didn't know how much I could love someone. Even though things didn't go exactly as I wanted, I am so thankful that we have a perfect, healthy baby girl. I fed her in the recovery room, and she nursed like a champ.
The section really wasn't bad, and the doctors were incredible. I didn't take much pain medication at all. And as my friend Lucy reminded me, on the upside, my next child will be a scheduled c-section, and I'll be showered with my hair fixed and make up on!
The dress she wore home was the same dress that my parents brought me home from the hospital in. It was way too big for her, but it had been too big for me too. It was really special.