With the biggest smile and happiest heart, holding her bag tightly on her shoulder, clinging to her special blanket, saying goodbye to my first born the night before Charlotte’s birth was emotional. Maddie was beyond excited that she was sleeping at her nana’s house the night before her sister’s birth. She made the ‘goodbye’ an easy one for me but I still held my heart as she closed the door and left with her dad. Tears rolling down my face – this felt like the first ‘act’ I had to do for my second born over my first. Charlie needed her mama now and Maddie would be fine.
It was a long (not so long) night with very little sleep. Both Charlie and my bags were packed and all that was left was to pack a few odds and ends in the morning. We had to be at the hospital at 5am so it was a 4am wake up for both Brett and I.
I spent quite some time in prayer the night before and in the morning. I prayed for my husband who I remember being ‘shell shocked’ waking up on the morning of Maddison’s birth. I prayed his heart would be stilled. I prayed for peace within, I prayed for His will to be done on this day and to give me the strength to handle what He had in store for this day. I prayed for His presence to remain within me. “Go before me”, “Still my heart”… on repeat as each and every moment of this morning past.
This was the day we had waited for since we saw those two solid lines on that pregnancy test. We’d meet our daughter for the first time. We will finally see what she looks like. We will hold her in our arms.
I made a conscious effort to feel her move in my belly… this would be the last time I feel her part of me! She was very active this morning – more so than she usually was in the mornings. It was as if she knew her mama was about to hold her tight and kiss those chubby cheeks.
Arriving at the hospital, I was unsure of what to expect – after all we were having a baby during a global pandemic and COVID-19 is riff! Having had our COVID tests done two days prior, Brett was able to join me at hospital for what we were told would be only two hours after the birth. I had mentally prepared myself for this very hard departure that would happen shortly after my surgery.
After having our temperatures checked, asked a million questions about our current state of health and past whereabouts and asked to unmask and re-mask with a new and clean surgical mask – Brett and I were ready to take on the third happiest day of our lives!
My surgery was booked for 7.30am – I was first to go in, which I was over the moon about! With Maddie I waited and waited for what felt like forever. She was only born at 11.07am. It seemed like I was the only Caesarean booked for the morning – this might be a COVID related thing. I also had my own private room but the downside was that there was no official ‘nursery’ for baby – only a makeshift one.
I had heard stories about how it will be in hospital during this pandemic so I had mentally prepared myself for it all. Us women, we just DO what we need to do for our families and I knew that this was something I needed to do for my family and when Brett leaves after the birth and I am alone with baby, confined and unable to move from my bed – I will do what I need to do and I WILL be strong! No crocodile tears when Brett leaves (as I did with Maddie – even though he was with me the whole day and left at 8pm) – the ordeal is traumatic, hard, painful and emotional but I would be strong – for us all.
One thing I had hoped to have done that I regretted not doing when I had Maddie was unpack my bag into my cupboard as soon as I got to hospital and know exactly where everything was before I became confined to my bed for the next 24 hours, but my room had no cupboards… which in the end didn’t matter because I never used 90% of the stuff packed in my bag as I was discharged the next day but I will get to this later! I did manage to get Charlie’s stuff ‘organised’ and my baby nappy caddy came in handy along with my Little Handmade hospital bags which I left under the bassinet trolley for the nurses – they even commented on how organised I was when it came to them needing Charlie’s stuff.
Both my OBGYN and my Anesthetist came to see me in my room before the surgery which put my mind at ease – they were happy and excited which put me in good spirits. Brett got ‘scrubbed up’ and I was wheeled to theatre. It was about to happen! My baby girl would be born in a few minutes!
There’s something about sitting naked under a green backwards gown on a steel table hunched over while a team of doctors frantically prepare utensils, sheets, paperwork, machines… Suddenly everything goes mute and while movement goes on around you, you blank out it all, close your eyes and feel the peace of God within in. I honestly didn’t know my own strength and the magnitude of God’s grace, until I became a mom.
I can remember looking over at my husband ‘positioned’ in his spot, a nervous smile on his face, camera in hand and giving me a thumbs up… he doesn’t need to say a word but I know he has a lump in his throat. He was scared for his wife, worried about me, anxious about his daughter’s birth. Powerless but armed in God’s promise, he could only watch as God took the wheel and gave his wife strength to do this for US, for OUR family.
Behind my mask I smiled at him and in my head I said ‘I’ve got this babe’ before looking down at the floor as the anesthetist preformed my spinal block. My incredible OBGYN held me tight and spoke me through each and every stage and step and every feeling I would feel while the spinal block was being done. The energy in the room was electric… so much happiness – a calmness! I had an incredible team of doctors at my hands. I knew I was in the BEST hands and God was one step ahead of them all.
It wasn’t long before I lay myself down, heart-rate stickers attached to my chest, blood pressure sleeve on my arm and pulse reader on my finger, the screens were played in front of me and to the sound of the beats of my heart on the machines, Brett to the side of me holding my hand… the surgery had began.
Having gone through this surgery before with the birth of Maddie I knew exactly what to expect. I had experienced terrible nausea to the anesthesia when I had Maddie and the anesthetist at the time had to pump some meds through my drip to manage the nausea for me. Within a few minutes of this surgery I had experienced the same and some meds were put through a drip for me although a second wave had hit me and I was vomiting down the side of my mouth into a steel kidney-shaped dish before I had a chance to give my anesthetist enough warning about my nausea. In this moment, as I knew we were moments away from Charlotte being pulled out, I could feel my body convulsing as I threw up and the thought running through my head was ‘this cannot be how I will bring my daughter into this world’. Luckily the team were able to ‘pause’ surgery until I felt better which passed fairly quickly.
It wasn’t long after this that I started hearing tiny moans, groans and cries – something I hadn’t heard during Maddie’s birth – she only began to cry after she was pulled out and when I saw her in the air… it was HER! It was my Charlotte making those noises… she was real and she was here!
“I can see her,” Brett said as he stood up to look over the curtain recording her entrance into the world… I instantly started crying! My OBGYN held her over the certain for me to catch a glimpse… I was overcome with emotion – she was perfect!
She was handed to the pediatrician who checked her out, counted her toes, felt her head and wiped her down while I watched before they wrapped her up for me to hold. A moment I will never forget. She was here, she was mine and she was perfect!
Her little lip quivered as I head her, she let out a few cries – unlike Maddie who was completely calm and quiet as I held her, Charlie was vocal – she had some lungs on her. I remember stroking her between the eyes along her nose to try calm her down. Her eyes fluttered at me. “I am your mommy”, I remember saying to her.
After our anesthetist took a ‘family photo’ of us as he called it, Brett left with Charlotte and our pediatrician. It was time for me to be stitched up – it was all over and it was downhill from here. I saw my daughter, I held her – she is perfect and she is here. Thank you Jesus.
I took the 10 to 15 minutes it took for the team of surgeons to sew me back up to close my eyes and get some rest – it felt like the first bit of rest I got since the whirlwind of the last couple of days in anticipation of her birth – finishing off work to take maternity leave, packing bags etc.
During this time Charlie was getting further examined by the team, weighed, measured etc while Brett watched and captured some pics.
It wasn’t long before I was back in my room, holding my daughter, nursing her for the very first time. Brett alongside me sitting next to the bed, our door closed and enjoying one on one time with our newest daughter.
“I cannot believe she’s actually here. It feels like just the other day we took that pregnancy test, we went into lockdown and now here she is… a fully developed baby with 10 fingers and toes, eyebrows, fingernails, creases in her hands…” I remember saying to Brett.
By midday I had feeling back in my legs and my pain was minimal. The nurses pumped me with lots of pain meds and made sure I was always comfortable. Brett was thankfully only told to leave around 2.30pm which was a lot longer than we had anticipated. I think we had a ‘nice’ set of nurses on duty as the previous day we were told via the phone that he would only be allowed to stay for two hours. Brett made sure I was comfortable and he got some good cuddles and bonding time with Charlie before he left. I thankfully didn’t cry when he left – I knew that he would be going home to our first born and she would be excited to see her dad and hear all about her new baby sister (whom she got to see via a video call we made to her nana’s phone earlier that day).
It was precious time for Charlie and I to bond and I took full advantage of the quiet time with her bare skin lying on my bare chest – it was incredibly special… we were all alone and I was in total awe of her. Pure love!
I had an incredible set of nurses that night – one of which remembers me from when I had Maddie four years earlier. She even asked to see a photo of Maddie as she remembered her birth.
I was incredibly tired that night – I think the morphine hit me hard around 9pm and the nurses offered to take Charlotte from me and put her in the ‘nursery’ to watch for me after I fed her that night. I will never forget feeding her and feeling myself falling asleep and jerking awake every few minutes. That feed felt like forever! They must have taken her and brought her back to me about three or four times between 10pm and 1am to feed further as she would settle to sleep. Eventually I could put my light off, roll over and sleep! She was then only brought back to me at 4am – those three hours were like GOLD! By 5am my catheter and drip was removed (YAY!!!) I was up and walking again – the getting up wasn’t as painful as I remember it being with Maddie’s birth. After I showered and got changed I felt like a million bucks!
By mid-morning I had seen both my OBGYN and our pediatrician and they were both happy with me and Charlotte – Charlie was feeding beautifully and getting enough colostrum to keep her sugar levels up and she was settled after every feed. We were discharged just over 24 hours after Charlie’s birth and ready to start our life as a family of four!
I had to pack my bags by myself and the nurse helped me wheel Charlotte in her bassinet with my bags on the trolley down to the pick up area where Brett fetched us – he wasn’t allowed back into the hospital after he left. We strapped our daughter in and were ready to take her home to her big sister!
Overall, I had an incredible experience. Having Charlie during this ‘time’ was something I was obviously concerned about but didn’t want to over think it as it was essentially out of my control and I knew whatever was to be would be but overall, it was a really great experience! The hospital was great – they gave me privacy while still being super helpful and supportive, other than everyone (including myself) having to wear masks the entire time – it didn’t feel like we were in a pandemic. I was only robbed of Brett being able to stay with me the entire day, having Maddie as well as the grandparents come to the hospital to meet baby and having Charlotte seen through the window for the rest of our friends and family but those are small things that are insignificant in its entirety.
All that matters is Charlie is home, she is perfect and by the grace of God we get to be her parents!
Thank you Jesus!