First of all, I want to give credit to my wonderful sister, Hayley, for photographing Charlie’s birth. It was no easy task in our cramped, tight and very dark little room, but it means the world to me to have Charlie’s birth documented, both in photos and videos. Working in such a dark room is nearly impossible for photography, but the twins were born under fluorescent lights and I was SO grateful for the dim calm this time! She also photographed the twins birth, (as much of it as she was permitted to at the hospital!) and I am eternally grateful for her love and labors at both events. She even hung in there when it got super gnarly, bless her brave heart.
I will admit to feeling quite vulnerable in sharing all of this, but, being able to read other’s birth stories and see their photos and videos gave me such strength before both of my births, and I am sharing our story in the hope that I can do that for someone else.
Watch Charlie’s birth story video here, and scroll down to read it <3
My husband, both of my sisters, and my parents were the most supportive birth team I could have asked for, staying calm, praying, and loving me through it all. My beloved husband was by my side every single moment, holding my hand, being my rock. I am so grateful.
It’s taken me a little bit to be ready to write this all down, Charlie’s arrival into this world did not go as I expected and I needed time to process it all. I suppose that is why we call them birth stories, though, we never know the ending until we get there. It also took me a little bit to process the twin’s birth, (here is their story if you haven’t read it yet). The twins were born in a hospital, and Charlie was born at home, and I am very thankful we were exactly where we were for both. Our experience for both was radically different, and if we have another one I will do it at home again (sharing more why later in this post). My labor with Charlie was beautiful, (and fast!) the delivery part, well, I did it, it is done and we are both ok. But anyway, without further ado, let me share the birth story of our precious Charlie. <3
On the afternoon of December 24th, we set out to take what would be our last walk together as a family of four. I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions for what seemed like forever (weeks anyway!) and they always kicked up during our walks, so when I was having quite a few of them I didn’t really think anything of it (my husband and mom knew better though, and aren’t about to let me forget it ha!). I was definitely ready for this baby to make his entrance into this world, and so I had hopefully timed a few contractions on an iPhone contraction timing app, but nothing really seemed to be different. We had my mama’s amazing Italian spaghetti dinner that night, and I remember feeling a little more nauseous than usual, but again, I didn’t really think anything of it. (Tragically, I later threw that up, but I was glad for the strength it gave me AND I only threw up once, which was much better than I did with the twins!) I bathed the twins and did bedtime, and then sat down to watch a tv show with my hubby since it was Christmas eve. I was uncomfortable and frustrated, and at about 10:45ish proclaimed to my husband that clearly this wasn’t happening tonight that we should go ahead and go to bed. The very moment after I said that, I thought I felt a trickle, I stood up and sure enough liquid gushed onto the floor, my water had officially broken. My husband grabbed a towel for me to sit on, and went to call our midwife. I started shaking like a leaf, I had been so ready to have this baby, and thought that it would seem like no big deal after the twins, but all of the sudden I was completely overwhelmed. Things were suddenly, REAL. And equally suddenly, I was definitely in active labor. I was no longer having intense “Braxton Hicks”, these were definitely real contractions, in all their glory!
I moved to the bathroom, and Brian alerted my family that Charlie was indeed going to arrive that night. My father began preparing the birth pool, (which I didn’t get to use!) and Brian and my sisters and mom prepared our little room for Charlie’s arrival while I spent my time either on the toilet (yes it is a great place to labor on!) or the bathroom floor. I transferred to our little room, and I vaguely remember that my family had set up the little LED candles I had purchased to have on during labor and birth. My wonderful midwife and assistant arrived a little after midnight, and after a quick examination, my midwife announced I was indeed ready to push, no time for the birth pool! I was SO tired I was almost falling asleep between contractions, and I remember thinking that my position on the futon bed felt a little weird, but I was breathing through them and starting to push. They kept monitoring Charlie’s heartbeat and all I remember is that everything got very intense, voices became serious, and they directed me to get on my back and pull my legs with my arms, we needed to get Charlie out NOW as his head was being squeezed in the birth canal and his heart rate was starting to drop (they wisely didn’t tell me this at the time).
It was the MOST uncomfortable position ever and my legs were cramping horrifically, I kept losing my hold on my legs and Charlie’s head was sideways, he did NOT want to come out. My midwife did three small snips (nope, not pleasant people, no matter how small) and everything got loud because Charlie needed out NOW. Like, right now. I remember serious voices and I remember getting loud myself, and while I was working harder than I had ever worked in my life (even the twins births were not this tough) I was simultaneously freaking out that the twins were ok because for the first time in their little lives they were SLEEPING without me despite all the noise. So there I was, pushing and groaning and freaked out both for my yet unborn baby and my two little ones in the other room. Looking back, I am pretty sure their sleeping was an answer to prayer because while I had always wanted them there for the birth, the way things went it would have been way too scary for them, so I am deeply grateful for His peaceful hand on their bodies that night.
I was pushing with all the strength I could, and suddenly I felt the most intense feeling of terror I’ve ever felt in my life because I truly did not think I was going to be able to get Charlie out and I knew if he didn’t come out right then, my baby boy was not going to be ok. Looking back at the photos, I see the absolute fear in my eyes. I have never been so terrified in my entire life. But, God took care of us, and suddenly there he was. My beautiful, tiny little baby boy on my tummy, slippery and crying and red and covered in white vernix. Charlie Adam came earthside at 1:52am Christmas morning, weighing exactly 8lbs and measuring 21 inches long. And there he was, and I was crying and asking if he was ok and he was, and within literally minutes of his birth he was latched and nursing. I learned later that getting him out was so difficult because his head was sideways, his poor little nose was bruised for a few days after! My husband and family stayed calm and prayed, and my midwife team worked like precision clockwork, staying gentle and calm and doing exactly what needed done. I am so truly grateful I had them.
Delivering the placenta was harder than I expected, and then apparently I started to bleed out. This happened with the twins too, and I have to give my incredible midwife team a LOT of credit. They both stayed perfectly calm while asking my family to pray, I was busy drinking in my new baby (in between the admittedly uncomfortable uterus massages) and while they were working fast to save me I was pretty oblivious, I think my husband had Charlie through most of this. All I cared about was my beloved baby was earthside, and he was ok. I certainly felt the blood loss later (hello white ghost mama), but have finally returned to normal.
It was night and day different than my hospital birth experience. Now, I am fully aware a large part of that difference was also a twin birth versus a singleton birth! I had no option but to do a hospital birth with the twins and was excited to have the option with Charlie to have a home birth. I absolutely loved doing a home birth, and will definitely do it again if we have another. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life, but the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. I felt so differently right after birth, namely, I felt. I was so numb after the twins (I shared about my struggle in my postpartum experience with the twins here if you want to read). There are many pros to home birth, the control you have over your surroundings, being home immediately after, and not in the least for me was not having to pack up the twins in the middle of the night! I was in my own home, I could labor as I wanted, it was beautiful. I most definitely advocate for having a competent midwife, mine was amazing and I was so thankful for her and her assistant.
I am grateful with all my heart to God, for my loving husband, supportive family, and incredible midwife team, without them Charlie’s arrival earthside would have been far, far different.