Charlotte's Birth Story

It's taken me a couple of weeks to sit down and write Charlotte's birth story because, in all honesty, I have been so full of emotion that it was almost too much for my new mommy feelings to think back on all of the memories from that completely perfect day, but I don't want to forget a single second (and am likely going to cry my way through writing this). Also, you've been warned - this is extremely long, but I didn't want to break it up into multiple parts. So feel free to either read, skim, or skip - I won't be offended. I wrote down every single detail I could possibly remember, so I'll have this for myself to look back on and also to share with my girl someday. So, here we go.

Pretty much since the beginning of my third trimester, I've been convinced that I was going to have this sweet baby early. Nothing that the doctors said (aside from my OB's comment at my 37 week appointment that I would go around 39 weeks) and nothing that I was feeling necessarily indicated that, but it was just an intuitive feeling that I couldn't shake. Brian and I had also decided that aside from going to work, I wouldn't go anywhere by myself - I ran to Trader Joe's on New Years Day morning to pick up a few groceries, and felt like I was going to pass out, which was super unsettling. So, we were basically settling in to ride out the last days before our girl made her debut.

On Monday, January 2, I had basically convinced myself that I was going into labor. I'd read SO MANY birth stories and was prepared to basically feel anything out of the ordinary and consider it a sign of labor. So when I started feeling crampy that evening and had an upset stomach, I immediately started texting friends with the "Is this it?!" questions. I was freaked out - totally not the way that I thought I would react if I WAS going into labor, but we didn't have bags packed, Brian was in the middle of hanging shelves in the nursery and kept asking me "Is this it? Is this the Big L&D?" which made me kind of want to throat-punch him, the house was a wreck. Needless to say, this wasn't how I'd pictured anything happening (I'd like to call this IRONIC FORESHADOWING). I went to bed, actually got a good night's sleep, and woke up the next morning still feeling very pregnant, but the cramps had stopped.

Tuesday, January 3, was super rainy and gross outside, and I'd had plans that night to go to dinner with two of my best girlfriends. I was feeling super uncomfortable and tired, and the thought of going out in the rain in the dark by myself stressed me out, so I proposed lunch instead to my girls, and they were totally on board (they're the best). Throughout the morning, I'd had a headache off and on and had started feeling light cramps again, so on my way to lunch, I called my doctor's office and ran the symptoms by them. The nurse basically told me that what I was feeling could be the start of labor, but if it was, it was very early. She also said if my headache didn't get better, to definitely call them back. Lunch was perfect and exactly what I was needing - we joked that the next time we'd all see each other, I would be a mom and we'd have a new lady joining us for our lunches, and I drove back to work with the biggest smile on my face. I went on with the rest of my day and tracked when I felt cramps, how bad my headache was, if anything helped it to go away, etc.

Wednesday, January 4, I woke up very much in a "get things done" mode. I had originally scheduled our cleaners to come on Thursday, 1/12, but with all of my "I could go early" thoughts, I'd rescheduled them to come on Thursday the 5th, so I reconfirmed that, made my final packing list for the hospital, and flew through my maternity leave list at work to tie up loose ends. I'd had a haircut/color appointment scheduled that night, but something told me to cancel it - I was literally sitting in my car with the engine running, debating whether or not to go, and something inside me said "GO INSIDE AND GET THINGS DONE." So I cancelled, and went into overdrive while Brian was studying. I packed everything that we would need for the hospital and set the bags, pillows, etc. to the side in our bedroom so Brian could easily find them, which gave me a huge sense of relief to finally have done, and laid everything out for the cleaners to come the next day and for our dog walker to be set for Molly.

This brings us to Thursday, January 5. I had my regularly scheduled 38 week doctors appointment that morning at 10am, and woke up feeling SO good. It was a beautiful day outside and I was praying that my doctor would be able to tell me that I'd progressed further along. I was having a great hair day and felt pretty and actually remembered to take a picture of myself in the bathroom at work before my appointment, "just in case" it was the last time I would see myself with my baby bump. 

I sent a last few emails and headed off to my appointment, with my manager and great coworker (also moms who have been above and beyond amazing throughout this pregnancy) wishing me luck for progress. Heading into my appointment, I proudly took the stairs instead of the elevator (I made a vow to myself to take those stairs as long as possible!), paused at the top to catch my breath and waddled down to check-in. My favorite nurse took me back to the exam room and we went through the normal routine - weight (which stayed the same from the week before) and vitals. 

She took my blood pressure on my left arm with the standard cuff - "Hm. That's a little higher than we'd like to see. I'm going to check with another machine." I thought nothing of it as she cheerfully wheeled in a portable monitor and took my blood pressure again. As I got my phone ready to record baby girl's heartbeat, she told me again that my blood pressure was really high, and started going through a list of symptoms that I knew were related to preeclampsia. At this point, I started to feel a little nervous - my mom had preeclampsia with me and I was delivered two weeks early, so they've kept a careful eye on things since there was a chance that I could also have it. I've had a couple of higher than normal BP readings during my pregnancy, but nothing that was cause for concern, they just always remind me to call if any red flag symptoms present. I immediately thought of the headache that I couldn't seem to shake the past few days and told the nurse. She nodded, said the doctor would be right in... and I felt like I was going to cry. 

The doctor that I was seeing, whom I love for her cheerfulness and ability to make me feel like she knows what she's talking about professionally but has also "been there" as a mom herself, came in and I could immediately tell that she was all-business. She went through the standard routine of the weekly exam, checked my girl's heartbeat (which was perfect), and then took my blood pressure herself for a third time. She turned to me and said that my blood pressure was higher than they'd like to see, and she wanted to send me up to the main hospital to be monitored to see if it was going to come down. If it didn't, then they would induce me so that the baby wasn't in any danger. 

This would be one of those "Oh my goodness, is this really happening?" moments that I know I'll never forget. I was completely giddy (and also nervous) as I walked out to my car. I called Brian and told him he needed to leave work to come and meet me, that it was probably nothing but that I didn't want to sit there alone while I was monitored, and he was on his way. I then called my mom to let her know that she and my dad should be on standby to change their flights, and that I'd keep her updated. I stopped by my office on the way to the hospital to let my manager know what was going on, and to take a picture of Molly off of my desk (I was feeling majorly guilty for not kissing her goodbye that morning), then headed up to the maternity floor.

I laughed at myself as I took a photo of the hallway walking towards the maternity area - I'd been there just a day before to take pictures for a group of midwives for an article I was working on, and remember thinking "I wonder if the next time I'm here, I'll be in labor!"

I checked in at triage and let them know that I wasn't in labor but had been sent over by Dr. Fullerton to be monitored for high blood pressure. I laughed and joked with the receptionist about husbands and man colds and they took me back to hook me up to the belly strap. Seriously - at this point, it hadn't even crossed my mind that I could possibly be having a baby, hence all of the laughing and joking going on. While I was in bed getting settled with the monitor straps (around 11:30am), Brian arrived - I didn't realize how nervous I was and how much I was needing him there with me until he walked into the room and I felt myself sigh with relief. The first question out of his mouth? "Do you think they have the Golf Channel?" Ah, yes - priorities right? The nurse came back to tell us that she was waiting on my blood work and urine results from my appointment earlier that morning, but that she was thinking we would be discharged within the next couple of hours. She advised us to eat something, so Brian headed to the dining room to pick up lunch - vegetable soup and pretzels for me, chicken salad (gag) for him. We flipped channels on the crummy hospital TV, Brian studied, and I took a nap in between discussing what we would pick up for dinner and how we wanted to go home and take a good nap with Molly in our own bed. I had been pounding water and finally had to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. When I passed the monitor, I could see the tracking of my blood pressure over the last 3 hours - it was climbing higher and higher. I told Brian, and he just said not to get worried yet. 

Around 2:45pm, my doctor came in with the nurse and the words that would rock my world - "Well, it looks like you're staying!" Brian and I looked at each other, and looked back at her in shock. She told us that she had talked to one of the maternal fetal medicine doctors and he said that since my blood pressure was high and I was a healthy 38.6 weeks pregnant, he saw no reason to prolong my pregnancy versus delivering within the next couple of days while both I and the baby were healthy. Brian was so excited - I'll never forget the look on his face of shock mixed with excitement. But I was honestly panicked and started tearing up and then felt guilty - I should feel excited to meet my baby, not freaked out because things weren't going according to plan. I needed to give Molly one last "only dog-child" snuggle. I didn't have my bags with me. I wanted my mom.

At my appointment that morning, the doctor had said that I was dilated 1-2cm and was 70% effaced, so since I wasn't in active labor, the plan was to induce me. My doctor warned me that induction for first time moms can take awhile... like there was a chance I may not deliver until Sunday (and remember, this was Thursday morning) and that wouldn't be out of the ordinary. I had honestly never even contemplated induction, so I read nothing about it and had zero clue what we were in for. The approach they were taking was to give one pill (Cytotec) every three-four hours, for a total of six pills over 18 hours. The pill would increase contractions, and they would then start Pitocin and see how things go from there. Hearing my doctor say that induction could be difficult FREAKED ME OUT. Nobody wants to hear that going into labor.

The nurse told me to make any calls that I needed to and she'd be back to walk us over to labor and delivery to get settled. We called my mom first - I know she must have been absolutely freaking out, but she managed to stay calm for me when I said the words "Well, rebook your flights - they're inducing me!" Hearing the excitement in her voice made me that much more excited (sometimes you just need to hear your mama) and she quickly hung up so she could call my dad and coordinate. My mother-in-law had literally just texted me to ask how my doctor's appointment had gone and if there was any progression, so when we called her next with the news, she was very excited and teary. Our last call was to my manager - she was so excited but all I could think of were the last few projects I'd been working on and planning to wrap up by the end of the week, and she immediately told me to forget about it all and just focus on me, Brian and the baby. Once we hung up, Brian and I had a brief "I can't believe this is happening!" moment, and the nurse came back to walk us to L&D.

Delivering in the same hospital that you work in is funny - I felt like a celebrity (ha) as I walked down the hallway and the nurses and admins chatted with me about work. Sorry people - roles are reversed today! We got to our labor and delivery room and I still felt very... unsettled. The room was HUGE but felt very empty and cold, and the nurse had been talking up how the room had a great view... which we quickly noticed was wide open to the roof, where construction guys were working and actually looking in. Brian closed the curtains, and I tried to get comfortable on the bed. It was weird - since they were just going to start the pills, I hung out in my leggings and a gown so they had easy access for the belly monitor for the baby, but I didn't really feel like a patient. I literally kept forgetting that I was there to have my baby. Around 3:45pm they started an IV line (which was SO PAINFUL and in the most awkward spot - on my right wrist and in a weird spot so I felt the IV every time I bent my hand) and gave me my first pill, and I sent Brian home to get our bags, and to take Molly to his parents house. When he left, I cried and started to text my closest girlfriends to let them know what was going on. I felt like such a baby, but all I could think was that I really wanted my mom there, and that I was scared of what was to come (I'd been deleting the "Preparing for Labor" emails from my pregnancy apps for weeks and was realllly starting to regret doing that...). 

At 6:30pm, the nurse came in and told me they needed to move me to another room since I wasn't in active labor and they were busy that night. We ended up in a high-risk room which I felt SO much more comfortable in. It was smaller and more cozy, and the bed was more comfortable. Brian finally came back within the hour with quite the story - the night before, we'd thrown away a gingerbread house that we made around Christmas and while we were at work that day, Molly got into the trashcan and found it. And broke it up into a million pieces. And hid the million pieces allll over our freshly cleaned house. There were gingerbread pieces (including the wet icing and candies) tucked into our couch cushions, our beds, Charlotte's PBK chair in the nursery, the hamper in the nursery... girlfriend had a GOOD TIME with that gingerbread. So he cleaned up as much as possible before he left. He wasn't going to tell me but I needed the laugh! I realized at that point that all I'd eaten that day was a cup of vegetable soup and pretzels, so Brian ran to the dining room to find me mashed potatoes (the only thing that sounded good). I ate, the nurse brought in pill #2 around 7:30pm, and we tried to get comfortable. We kept talking about how we wanted to be home on Sunday to watch the Golden Globes but considering how slow things were going, it wasn't likely that I'd deliver and have my two nights in the hospital before then (I call this foreshadowing - labor is a funny, unpredictable thing). We had an amazing nurse who had just started her shift, and she immediately asked if I wanted to change my IV arm - she advised me to, reminding me that while it was uncomfortable now, it would be way worse later on during actual labor I would need my hands/arms. We switched to my left arm and while it HURT, I was immediately glad that we'd made the change - I honestly forgot that it was there. She left us to get settled, and while I flipped through the channels on the TV (it's a bad habit, but I almost always want the TV on when I'm sleeping somewhere I'm unfamiliar with - it's like my white noise), Brian got settled on his awful fold out chair/bed and was of course asleep within minutes. This was (knock on wood) the first time I'd ever spent the night in a hospital, so I had no clue how interrupted my sleep would be - aside from coming in to give me the induction pills again at 11:30pm and 4am, the nurses came in every 2-3 hours to check my vitals, the baby's vitals, and to give me doses of Robitussin for my lingering cough, and me constantly checking the status of my parents' flight, I basically didn't sleep at all. 

Around 4am, I started to feel really light contractions - this was the first time I'd felt anything that felt like period cramps. I got really excited and started tracking them on my "Full Term" app, but quickly realized that a) they weren't all that painful or significant, and b) they weren't consistent. When my nurse came in around 7am to check my vitals, I mentioned the contractions and she said that's normal and what we want to happen, and said they'd check me to see if I'd made any progress once the doctor made her rounds but she didn't sound all that hopeful (I was hoping I was feeling legit contractions and would deliver soon. Ha. Hahahah). I'm someone who HAS to shower in the morning to feel human, so I asked if I could get up and shower/get ready, and she said absolutely. At this point, the only thing that made me feel like I was there to have a baby was the IV in my arm - I was proud of how good I was feeling. I showered with my toiletries in the tiniest shower ever (shaved my legs, deep conditioned my hair... I'm telling you, I was in zero pain), got dressed in real clothes and sat down on the bed to put my makeup on. 

It was around 11:30am and I was super annoyed because the only show I could find was Rachael Ray, but I left it on for background noise. At this point we knew that my parents had landed, and Brian's dad was waiting for them to get their luggage at the airport, and then would bring them to the hospital. As I was putting on my blush (this memory is VIVID or I'd never remember that detail), I sneezed really hard and immediately felt like I'd wet my pants (sorry if that's TMI but I'd want to know if I were reading this and curious about labor!) and felt terrible cramping. I told Brian that I thought I'd peed my pants when I sneezed and we both kind of laughed as I got off of the bed to go to the bathroom and assess. My water still hadn't broken, so I knew that either this was it, or I had legitimately peed my pants, but as I was standing in the bathroom, I felt another really bad cramp and realized that it wasn't cramping... it was a contraction. I walked out and told Brian I thought we should maybe call the nurse to tell her what was going on and get all of our stuff together in case they moved us - I had a feeling that things were definitely happening and wanted to be ready... I also realized that my hair was still wet so I found the blow dryer because PRIORITIES. The contractions were getting worse and I asked Brian to call his dad and check the status of my parents. He still hadn't found them and I was feeling panicky and distinctly remember this... "the wheels are coming off" emotion. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together and all I could think was "I don't want anyone to touch me" and "I want my mom" and I couldn't get my head around getting through the contractions with breathing. I climbed back on the bed to sit down and felt so restless - my whole body felt tense and I couldn't get comfortable, and the only place I kind of felt at ease was sitting on the toilet (pants on, people) - I think it helped with the crazy pressure and pain that I was feeling. 

Brian called the nurse and she finally came in and was so laidback - "Oh, let's just take a look and see what's going on here." I wanted to shake her and say "Can you get on my level?! I'm freaking out here! I am in pain! This is not time for calm!" The doctor came in behind her to check my progress (holy mother of God with THAT pain) and I was only at 3cm... and I wanted to cry. All that I could think was "This HURTS and I'm only at 3cm?! I can't do this!" 

As soon as we had been admitted, I had made sure to tell any nurse and doctor that crossed my path that I was on the epidural train, so with the pain so bad, I was asking what we could do - the nurse basically told me that I wasn't far enough along for anything. She left to check and see when I could move to a birthing room and... shit got real. My contractions started coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting about a minute (but each one felt like an eternity). I was trying to walk through the pain in our room and it was just... the worst pain I've ever felt. There's no way to sugarcoat that. Brian's dad called to say he had my parents and they were on their way, about 20 minutes from the hospital, and the worst contraction yet hit - Brian quickly hung up and tried to coach me (but who can coach an insane woman in labor who doesn't want anyone to touch her?). I remember swearing loudly (many, many times) and trying to breathe. As soon as one contraction would end and I'd get my bearings, another would start. The nurse finally came back and said to get our things together, that we were going to take a walk down to my delivery room. 

Y'all. The contractions were so intense and close together, I looked at her and said (rather rudely), "You want me to WALK THERE?!" Brian had packed our bags up earlier, so while he gathered them up, the nurse held my arm and walked me out into the hall. I was so nervous because I just knew I was going to have contractions during the walk, and didn't want anyone to see me. I actually asked her "What do I do if I have a contraction while we're walking?" and she responded with "Oh, we'll just walk and breathe through it!" Uh huh, easier said than done. As we turned the corner in the hallway, a contraction hit at the exact moment that I looked up to see my parents rounding the corner. I could have cried with relief - even though things were obviously happening, a part of me had been so nervous that I was going to have this baby without having seen my mom and dad that I was resisting the reality that I was in labor (keep in mind that I hadn't seen my dad since August, and my mom since she was in Boston for my baby shower in October, so I was needing that parental reassurance, big time). With them finally there, it was officially GAME ON.

My mom came right over and tried to comfort me while I leaned against the railing on the wall but I was in so much pain that I legit swatted her away while my dad stood a few feet away looking shocked at the whole scene in front of him. I'm not gonna lie - it wasn't my proudest moment, but I'm still also fairly annoyed with the nurse for not just wheeling me (quickly) down to my delivery room so I could go through the pain in private. BUT it is what it is. We made the rest of the walk to my room and everyone got situated - my plan had been for my parents to wait in the waiting room but with it having taken them so long to get there, I just wanted them around until I got my epidural and could actually enjoy their company for a bit. 

Since we had moved to L&D, the carefree nurse was gone and our new nurse, Maura, came in to introduce herself around 2pm... and it was an immediate amazing connection. I was in SO much pain and she went right into caretaker role, and it was just what I needed to try and relax. She coached me through my breathing, told me that I was doing a wonderful job, and would suggest to Brian what he could do to help me. She somehow got me to focus and told me that she understood that I wanted an epidural, and she was going to help me get there, but that I needed to be in the bed and hooked up to the monitors for half an hour before she could call the anesthesiologist. She offered to give me a shot in the meantime to help with the pain and... it didn't do anything except make me feel like I'd had a few glasses of wine. The pain was still very much there, but I guess it helped to distract me, more than reduce the pain. I don't know how I did it, but I did - through a lot of breathing and swearing and breaking Brian's hand, but I got through the contractions for the next half hour. Maura taught Brian how to read the monitor, so he and my mom would tell me when a contraction was coming - it helped me to know when a big contraction was coming, and how long it was going to last. 

At 2:45pm, Maura came back and told me that both the baby and I were doing great, and that she'd placed the order for my epidural. At that point, my parents left to get lunch in the hospital dining room and Maura came back to check my progress. I was at 4cm and she told us that her shift ended at 7pm and her guess was that I'd deliver somewhere around 8pm, but that I could always go more quickly. Shortly after that, the doctor came in and I could have cried with relief. There were moments that I thought I was going to blackout from the pain - I remember the doctor walking into the room but it was very hazy. He was super nice and was talking to Brian - he asked him if he'd eaten recently and when Brian said no, he told him it was a good time for him to go get something to eat, and that I was in good hands. I'm okay with shots, so I just wanted it to happen and told Brian to go and I'd be fine. Maura stood in front of me as I turned to hang my legs off of the side of the bed, and the doctor told me that the worst part would be the numbing shot. They weren't lying - it was a really intense burning sensation, and the next thing I knew, the doctor told me that he'd placed the epidural. I knew something was... off. It didn't hurt, but I could feel it, and told him. He said that he knew it was placed funny, and that he was going to take it out and redo it. I had a contraction while he said it, and he waited to move anything until the contraction was over. As soon as it was, he was FAST - he placed the epidural for the second time and I didn't feel a thing. He taped the bandage on my back, arranged the tubing, and packed up his stuff. Maura gave a big dose and got me settled back in the bed and... I was in heaven. The epidural combined with the shot I'd already been given had me feeling no pain, and it was such a relief. Brian came back in the room and I know he was relieved to see me calmer and smiling again. My parents came back in shortly after that, and it was exactly what I'd been hoping for. Anytime I felt pain, I'd ask Maura if I was supposed to feel that - she'd say "Nope!" and push the button for the epidural. I truly think that I couldn't have had a better epidural - I felt no pain for any contractions but could still feel the pressure, but I could still feel and move my legs around to some degree, so once it came time to push, I felt like I was in control.

Maura advised that I get some rest, but I knew there was no way that was happening, despite how exhausted I was. We dimmed the lights and my dad played on his phone while my mom read, and Brian closed his eyes. The Notebook was on TV so I watched that and dozed off and on... and started to feel super uncomfortable (sorry if this is TMI but...) like I had to go to the bathroom. I asked Maura about it the next time she came in, and she told me that was good, and that that meant we were getting close. A few minutes later, I noticed a weird feeling and saw a bit of blood - I panicked and asked Brian to find me ice chips so I could ask my mom about it. While she was helping me, Maura came back in and also looked, and said that we were totally fine, but that I was moving quickly. She checked me again and I was 8cm dilated - from 4-8cm in 2ish hours. I'm not sure what it was about that moment, but I couldn't stop smiling. It hit me that we were going to meet our daughter very soon, and I felt overwhelmed with happiness and excitement and a little nervous about the actual delivery part. The bathroom feeling was getting worse and worse and Maura said she was going to find my doctor to check me. I asked my parents if they could pack up and head to the waiting room so that Brian and I could have some time alone together. Hands down, the best decision I could have made right then. It had been such a crazy, exhausting last couple of days, and having that time just the two of us before our baby was born was exactly what we needed.

Maura came back in with the doctor, and the doctor explained that she was going to check me again and we'd assess. Well, I was 10cm and ready to push! She asked if I wanted to do a practice push, or wait an hour and let my body adjust a little. I told her that the pressure was too much and wanted to do a practice push, so we went for it. It was so different from... anything I'd pictured. It was just Brian, Maura, the doctor and me, and the bed was simple - not the crazy big, complicated bed with all of the stirrups and such (in retrospect, the bed likely had all of this stuff but we didn't use it, and I didn't see it). Maura was on one side and Brian was on the other, and we did a practice push - the doctor immediately told me to stop, and Maura got everything prepped. They both said this baby was coming quickly and not to push again. I couldn't stop smiling - I wasn't in any pain (just lots of pressure) and just wanted to take everything in. Brian looked so unbelievably happy and proud and did such an awesome job as my coach/daddy-to-be. Once they gave me the okay to push again, we went for it, and 4 minutes later, Charlotte was here and placed on my stomach. Seeing her and feeling her, after 38 weeks of growing her inside of me and a lifetime of dreaming of being her mama, was the most surreal moment of my entire life. Brian and I were in absolute awe of this perfect little human and couldn't stop smiling and saying "I can't believe she's here! She's perfect!" 

I will never, for all of anything in the world, forget that feeling of her being born. I'm so grateful that I was able to have the epidural and be pain free and truly soak in every second of that incredible moment. I'd fully expected the delivery to be the worst part, but for me, the laboring was the most challenging - one I had the epidural, the entire experience was perfect. 

We both immediately did skin-to-skin with Charlotte and spent a good hour just getting to snuggle with her before the nurses took her to be weighed/measured and the doctor took care of me. Our parents came in to meet her (one of the nurses actually stuck her head in the room and said "I have a grandmother out here who is, um... extremely anxious to come in. Is that okay?"... she was definitely talking about my mom) and let's just say that grandparents all around were elated. We had an awesome nurse who had taken over for Maura and she cleared the grandparents out after a few minutes so I could have a bite to eat and we could get ready to move to our postpartum room. We did the whole "try to walk and go to the bathroom" routine, and I passed with flying colors - before I knew it, I was loaded into a wheelchair with Charlotte as the nurse pushed us to our room and Brian followed behind with our bags.

The grandparents descended again and Brian's dad opened a bottle of champagne - let me tell you, best bubbles I've ever tasted! We Facetimed my brother in Texas, and Brian's two sisters and our nieces and nephew in Baltimore, and everyone was just so smitten with our girl. Everyone finally left for the night around 11pm and it was just us and Charlotte - talk about a "things are getting real" moment. I was beyond exhausted and, let's be honest, starting to feel a bit sore, but I just could not stop staring at my sweet baby. Brian, of course, was knocked out and dead to the world, but I think I immediately went into Mama Mode and just wanted to make sure she was perfect. Not to mention that doctors and nurses were in and out all night long to check on everyone.

Brian's sisters and our nieces and nephew Facetiming with "Baby Chawlotte"

We spent the next day snuggled up and getting used to being parents! Charlotte was perfect and never fussed or cried, and she took to breastfeeding quickly and well. This was a huge relief - breastfeeding was a big concern/worry for me throughout my pregnancy, so the fact that it all worked out so naturally was wonderful. Boston, of course, was hit with a snowstorm which started around 11am on Saturday, so my parents stopped in quickly to see us before heading home to settle in with Molly. We watched lots of TV, napped, took a million pictures... and got REALLY stir crazy. 

We actually asked if we could be discharged that evening, since everything was going so well, but the pediatrician but a quick stop to that request. It was for the best because that night, the nurses warned us that we would likely be introduced to cluster feeding and... yes, yes we were. It was a long, tear-filled night, but we survived and I woke up with this angel the next morning. 


The snow had stopped, Charlotte and I were given the OK by our respective doctors, and we were discharged! I dressed my girl in her sweet going home outfit, as figured out the carseat, and stepped out into the world as a family of three.

As we walked out to the car with Charlotte in her carseat and with our bags, I kept waiting for someone to stop us and tell us to bring the baby back - nope, we were off and on our own! After a stop at Dunkin Donuts for a REAL coffee, we headed home to see our Molly girl and start life as a family of 3 (plus a pooch). Driving away from the hospital with Charlotte next to me in the backseat was the best, scariest, happiest, most emotional feeling. I clearly remember looking at Brian in the rear view mirror with tears streaming down my face and telling him "I just love her so, so much." 

I couldn't have imagined a better labor and delivery experience if I tried, and I'm so grateful for that. We're blessed with this amazing baby girl who we get to have in our world every day, and that whole "I can't remember life without her in it" thing? Yea... yea, it's so very, very true. We're in a good routine now, and I'm making it a point to keep this updated, if even just as a way to look back as a journal of this time as Charlotte grows. It's likely going to become very baby-fied around here but that's life for me now and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Welcome to the World, Charlotte Frances!!

Brian and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Charlotte Frances King, into the world on Friday, January 6 at 6:31 p.m. We are head over heels in love with this precious miracle, and have spent the last twelve days wading through the waters of being brand new parents while being in absolute awe at this little life that we created. 

Charlotte Frances King
7 pounds, 9 ounces
19 1/2 inches long

I never, ever could have fathomed how much love I would feel for my sweet baby girl - it's the most overwhelming, beautiful, all-consuming love, and I wouldn't trade it for a single thing in all of the world. Aside from battling a good dose of the baby blues, I'm recovering really well, and Brian is even more of an amazing dad than I could have pictured him being. We're so in love and feel so blessed to have this sweet baby as our daughter.

Week 38 Bumpdate

How Far Along? 38 weeks, 4 days

Musings on the Weekly Photo: The thought of "Is this my last bump picture?!" is now constantly running through my head!

Sex: A sweet baby girl, our CFK!

Maternity Clothes: I placed an order over the weekend for a few maternity pieces that look comfortable and transition into nursing-friendly tops, so I think that will be good for now. I want to hold off and see how I look/feel post-delivery before buying too many post-baby clothes. But someone will have to pry my beloved maternity yoga pants from my death grip... probably around the time I go back to work in April. 

Baby's the size of...: A winter melon (?)/Pomeranian/a half baking sheet of meringues! At my appointment last Thursday (12/29), my doctor estimated she is measuring around 7 pounds and may be close to 8 by delivery day, which is exciting!

Nursery: Finally, totally, completely FINISHED! I snapped photos this morning but it was still dark outside and the pictures weren't so great. I'll take more tonight and will plan to share them tomorrow! I'm just in love - it's our favorite room in the whole house and is exactly what we pictured for our girl.

Movement: Still constant. I don't know if she's getting stronger and bigger or I'm running out of room (or both!) but I am feeling EVERYTHING and am trying to soak up the last days of watching and feeling her move throughout the day.

Symptoms: Congestion - I'm over my cold but have definitely been fighting the dreaded pregnancy nasal congestion. Carpal tunnel (didn't even know this was a symptom until I told my doctor that my right fingertips were going numb and my hands were falling asleep really easily). Still struggling with the RLP, still only on my right side. Bending over is nearly acrobatic - there's lots of side-leans going on. Tired because I'm not sleeping all that well. Starting to feel light cramps on occasion, but nothing consistent/regular.

Brian: Is so excited for our baby to be here. He tells me constantly how excited he is to be a dad and that makes me fall for him all over again. He's starting to study for a big exam but has still found time to help me with all of the little last minute things that I had on my list - he's been amazing throughout this entire pregnancy.

Sleep: Bad. Real bad. My blood pressure was a little high last Thursday, so the doctor told me to try sleeping on my left side but when I do, it strains the ligaments on my right hip area. So then I rotate (literally like a roasting chicken - I have to pull my butt over by the pajama pants because it hurts too badly to just shift my hips) to my right side, and then I'm laying directly ON my sore hip. It's never-ending and so uncomfortable, to the point where I have started to dread bedtime. Even when I'm beyond exhausted, I struggle to fall and stay asleep. And that's WITHOUT the bathroom trips 2-3 times a night.

Workouts: One walk with Molly and Brian and lots of stretching/squats.

Cravings: Orange juice. Chips Ahoy cookies. Guacamole. Queso. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Egg rolls. 

Aversions/Dislikes: Raw vegetables. We had taco salads on Monday night and I had to force the lettuce and tomato down.

Annoyances: Weird mild weather - I'm ready for it to be cold and stay cold (maybe because I am ALWAYS hot).

What I Miss: Being comfortable.

Best Moment This Week: My doctor's appointment last Thursday! As of then, I was dilated 1cm and 70% effaced, at -1 station. I totally had to Google most of that when I left the office, but it was encouraging to hear that I'm making progress. And as my doctor (who is amazing, the chief of the department, and has been doing this for years) started to leave, she dropped "I'm going to guess that you go at 39 weeks - I don't see you making it to a full 40." So that was very much a "Cue the panic/excitement/how the heck do I plan for my parents to rearrange their flight and get here?!" moment.

Looking Forward To: My next appointment tomorrow! I'm really hoping that I've made more progress. Once I have my parents here, I feel like I'll be much more in an "Okay, it's go time" frame of mind. Because right now that hesitation is definitely there - wanting things to hold off as much as possible so they have plenty of time. My last date night with Brian. And my "me time" that I've scheduled - a haircut and root touch-up, wax, mani/pedi... I figure it will be a little while before I have endless pampering time, so I might  as well make the most of it now!

Week 37 Bumpdate

(I'm actually 38+ weeks at this point, but forgot to post my 37 week update last week - can't fall off the wagon this late in the game!) 

How Far Along? 37 weeks on Christmas Eve!

Musings on the Weekly Photo: I really just can't believe that this time next year, I'll be holding our baby girl in front of the Christmas tree! Makes all of the aches, pains and complaints so beyond worth it.

Sex: Girl

Maternity Clothes: All day, every day. I'm loving the shirt I'm wearing in the photo - my mom sent it to me as part of my birthday gift, and it's been in constant rotation. I figure if I can't drink champagne at the holidays, I might as well wear a shirt that looks like it has champagne bubbles on it.

Baby's the size of...: A striped skunk, a head of romaine lettuce... basically, large and in charge. She's measuring in around 6 pounds, 19 inches.

Nursery: We have a couple of things to hang on the wall and find a closet organization solution and then we're actually finally TOTALLY finished.

Movement: All the time. CFK has been super active throughout my entire pregnancy, but I'm really feeling the movement a lot more. Maybe because she's running out of space?

Symptoms: I've had the worst cold and let me tell you - coughing fits while 9 months pregnant are NOT fun. Luckily, my doctor told me that I'm welcome to take cold meds (which I had been avoiding because I didn't think they were allowed), so that's offering some relief. I'm just glad that the cold is falling over these long holiday weekends, and not the middle of the work week. Aside from that, still struggling with RLP, heartburn has gotten worse, I'm definitely waddling around... to say I'm over the symptoms would be an understatement! 

Brian: Is handling me well. I think he's starting to realize how miserable I'm feeling (maybe it's the middle of the night tears that did that?) and offers to do whatever he can to help. Unfortunately at this stage in the game, there's not a whole heck of a lot that either of us can do, but it's comforting just to have him there. He's also too cute about being so excited for baby to be here - it makes me look forward to seeing him and our daughter together that much more!

Sleep: Getting worse every night. It's hard to get comfortable and once I do get comfortable, I have to pee, so it's a whole routine start-over of trying to get out of bed, to the bathroom, back into bed, repositioned... I'm definitely winded by the time I do finally settle down. I'm telling you - I've never felt more attractive.

Workouts: Just my squats and lots of stretching. It seems to help the RLP and makes me feel like I'm doing a little bit of something, which... is better than nothing?

Cravings: Buffalo chicken pizza. Cheesecake. Everything bagels with cream cheese. I can't really taste much of anything right now, so there aren't many things that sound good.

Aversions/Dislikes: Can't deal with raw meat, and raw vegetables are not tolerated right now.

Annoyances: This cold and whoever gave it to me.

What I Miss: My waist? All of my shoes. My cheekbones. Wine.

Best Moment This Week: My doctor's appointment! I was a 1/2 cm dilated, which I know isn't much but was still progress! 

Looking Forward To: My check-up next week. Taking Christmas down and getting the house in final prep mode for baby. My parents getting into town. Having one last "We're not parents yet!" date with Brian.

Week 36 Bumpdate

How Far Along? 36 weeks, 5 days (after this week, it's a shocker that I even made it to writing an update...)

Musings on the Weekly Photo: I was holding out for a nicer picture, but I honestly feel like the way I look in this pic totally captures how I'm feeling. I could not possibly feel less attractive and LARGE at this point. Everything feels puffy and swollen, I'm wearing the same outfits on repeat, and I slept all of 4 hours last night... are we there yet? 

Sex: Girl

Maternity Clothes: I've really hit that point where I hate all of my maternity clothes. I also don't care what kind of colors/accessories/variety I can mix in. Give me my yoga pants and a stretchy, comfy top and whatever shoes will fit me, and I'm all set. We have a Christmas party tonight, then family get-togethers all weekend, and I think I'm just going to be rotating the same couple of outfits because... I can.

Baby's the size of...: A papaya or a Cabbage Patch doll. Interesting. As of my last appointment (last week) she's weighing in around 6lbs and feels like she's stretched across my entire stomach for length. Technically, she's around 19 inches.

Nursery: Done! I'm picking up a couple of photos that I had printed so Brian can hang those frames, and then we are officially all set with the sweet nursery. And I love it so, so much.

Movement: Still lots of movement, which is good. It's definitely tight quarters in there - we can see pretty much every little bump and tuck that she's doing, which is equally weird and amazing.

Symptoms: Swollen feet. Occasional heartburn. If I type too long during the day at work, my fingers get really tight and sore. Hard to catch a good breath (she's sitting high, right under my ribs), and I'm winded SO easy (I make myself take the stairs when I'm out and obviously have the stairs at home, but by the time I'm at the top I'm wheezing and gasping like I've been a chain-smoker for 30 years). Getting full really quickly at meals, and feeling nauseous if we eat too heavy/too late. Super irritable. Headaches. Nasal congestion. 

Round ligament pain deserves a post all on its own. It's nagged me here and there for the last several months, but mainly during or right after I'm super active. The last few days it has been EXCRUCIATINGLY painful. I was awake last night from 1-4am crying and trying to get comfortable and there's just no position that helps. It's insane - my doctor confirmed it's definitely RLP and said I can take Tylenol and use a heating pad on low, so I've been doing that but it's just... not helping. I was on Amazon Prime at 2am this morning ordering a belly support band at my doctor's suggestion, so fingers crossed that that helps to alleviate some of this pain.

I'm so grateful for this pregnancy, and feel SO lucky that I had such an easy first and second trimester... but this third trimester reality is something I wasn't expecting!

Brian: Love him for how hard he's trying to keep the peace. There have definitely been ragey moments where I lose my mind because the kitchen sink is dripping or Christmas tree needles are on the floor and my poor sweet husband will just say "Tell me what you need me to do to make the crazy stop." and I can't help but laugh... and then tell him what to do. With all of the pain I've been in the last few days, I've really needed him to help me (I'm talking even lifting my right leg up to get into bed - that's how painful the RLP is for me) and he's been there ready and willing to do whatever. I'm lucky to have him and know he'll be amazing by my side on delivery day.

Sleep: Awful, terrible, let's move on.

Workouts: I've been hurting too much to do anything and am stopping walking Molly alone with the roads and sidewalks periodically getting icy - she's too reactive on the leash for me to manage her. I was Googling what can help with this pain though and found several suggestions for stretches and yoga poses, as well as trying to walk as much as possible. So that's my new personal assignment, as painful as it may be. In my mind, staying totally still almost just makes it worse.

Cravings: Sausage balls (which I'm making for one of our get togethers this weekend). Breakfast casserole (merry Christmas morning to me!). Can't get enough Apricot LaCroix and icy lemon water. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Mac & cheese.

Aversions/Dislikes: Dealing with raw chicken. Lingering smells after we cook - I feel like I can smell them across the entire house.

Annoyances: Oh, basically everything these days. Truly.

What I Miss: A good night's sleep. A glass of wine. All of my cute winter clothes. Not breaking a sweat putting on my pants and shoes.

Best Moment This Week: A good report at the doctor yesterday. Things are looking good, heartbeat was strong, and my doctor said everything looks right on schedule!

Looking Forward To: Spending our last Christmas with Brian and Molly as our little family of three and seeing Brian's extended family for the holidays this weekend. I can't wait for my parents to get here next month, and obviously we can't wait to meet our girl!

Week 35 Bumpdate

How Far Along? 35 weeks

Musings on the Weekly Photo: My main thought is frequently "How can I possibly continue to get bigger over the next month?"

Sex: Girl!

Maternity Clothes: All day, every day. I have no idea how I'm going to re-enter the world of waistbands, buttons and zippers after swimming in the world of full panel stretchy goodness for the last several months.

Baby's the size of...: A bunch of carrots, a kid's backpack (?!), and a pineapple. Girlfriend is estimated to be around 18 inches long, and after our ultrasound on Thursday, my doctor is saying she weighs around 6 pounds. If she gains a 1/2 pound per week and I make it to my due date, I could birth an 8 pound baby. My head isn't ready to go there yet!

Nursery: We're hanging a few things on the wall this weekend and then we are DONE! I'm so excited and can't wait to share pictures! It's become my favorite room in the house, by far. I usually go in and rock for a few minutes in the mornings, just to take it all in. Brian has asked a few times "Can you believe a tiny person is going to be in this room soon?" Um, nope husband, no I cannot. 

Movement: Still my little wiggle worm! While the ultrasound tech was moving the wand around my stomach at our appointment, CFK would give super firm, swift kicks in response. I can't wait to see if her personality matches this feisty little life that I've been feeling all this time.

Symptoms: Swollen feet. Headaches. Super achey in my pelvic area - the doctor says it's still round ligament pain which is just about the most painful thing I've ever felt, like it hurts to put one foot in front of the other, and rolling over in bed is... a sight to be seen. By the time 5pm rolls around I am D-O-N-E and can't wait to get home and relax. Also definitely feeling a combination of crazy excited, slightly terrified, and anxious as the due date gets closer.

Brian: Is as cool as a cucumber, which I'm grateful for. When I freak out and have my panicky moments, he reminds me that we're not the first people to have babies, that we'll have lots of people helping us through the entire process, that it will happen when it happens and there's no reason to stress or worry otherwise because that's literally the main thing we have zero control over, and that we'll figure it out together. He's definitely aware that I've been in more pain recently, because he's quick to tell me to sit down and put my feet up, and when I mention that I'm hurting or feel something strange, he immediately asks a ton of questions about where the pain is, what kind of pain, have I felt it before. I love that man.

Sleep: Laughable. I've been waking up at least twice a night to pee, and am awake for a solid hour every morning between 3:30 and 4:30am. It's times like these when Etsy is my best friend/worst enemy and I pray that Brian's not home when my middle of the night purchases show up on our porch. I'm exhausted and fall asleep quickly and easily, but I'm so uncomfortable and it hurts to toss and turn, so I kind of just... roll back and forth and pray for morning.

Workouts: Good ol' Molly walks, and trying to keep up stretching. Also starting to up my squats when I can.

Cravings: Mango smoothies. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Clementines. Chex Mix with M&Ms. Buffalo chicken pizza. 

Aversions/Dislikes: Anything too terribly sweet.

Annoyances: Everything is on my nerves right now. Christmas tree needles on the floor. The freezing wind whipping my hair around. The fact that my hands are so, so dry despite constantly putting on hand cream. A messy house.

What I Miss: Being able to move around easily and without... winding up. A good night's sleep (I know, laughable). Putting on my socks and shoes without working up a sweat.

Best Moment This Week: Celebrating my birthday on Saturday with my sweet husband, and seeing our girl at the ultrasound on Thursday! She's come a looong way since the last ultrasound at 18 weeks in August.

Looking Forward To: Enjoying this next week as we get ready for our last Christmas as our little family of two (plus Molly). And meeting our baby girl!