Just like I did for our boys, I’m sharing Delta’s birth story in the form of a letter I wrote to her. This blog is just as much about saving our family memories as it is about sharing our adventures with others, so I hope you’ll enjoy learning a little more about us and our newest addition through this letter. It’s long, but I don’t want to forget any of the details. Speaking of details, it’s a birth story, y’all. So… it’s not for the squeamish. 😉
Sweet Delta Leigh Carlisle,
This birth story begins differently from your brothers’ stories and I’m glad it does. Graham’s birth story began almost two weeks late with an induction and ended in an emergency c-section. It was a blur. Foster’s birth story went smoothly from start to finish as a planned c-section at 39 weeks. We thought your story would be similar to Foster’s and there was a part of me that hoped it wouldn’t. I assume being the third child will come with plenty of challenges as you follow in your brothers’ footsteps, even though you have the privilege of being the only girl, and I didn’t want your beginning to be ordinary (not that any birth is actually ordinary). I’m so glad that it wasn’t.
Sunday, May 5, 2019 started out as a pretty average day. We hung out around the house and finished up some last minute preparations for your arrival (including packing a hospital bag – we were major procrastinators this time!). I didn’t want to go to church that morning for fear that your brothers would pick up some sort of illness that would keep them from being able to meet you right away, so we had a nice, slow start to the day.
In the evening, Daddy and I put together our “push presents” and we headed out to dinner. We have two traditions before each baby is born: we go to dinner at Olive Garden the night before (because that’s what we did before I was going to be induced with Graham and the tradition just stuck) and we give each other small gifts as a way to mark the occasion of a new baby coming into our lives. Daddy gave me a ring with your name on it, just like I have for your brothers, and a subscription to Scribd so I can read books on my phone while I nurse you. I gave him a subscription to Spotify and a new Apple Watch band that has all three kids’ initials engraved in it. Dinner was good and we went to Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream (my favorite dessert in town) for a little treat before we headed home.
While we were at Kelly’s, I had a pretty strong and painful contraction – one that I couldn’t talk through. I was used to having Braxton Hicks contractions throughout much of my pregnancy, but this was different. It passed after a minute and we headed home. On the way home I had a couple more contractions that weren’t severely painful, but were very intense and I started to wonder if something was going on. We put your brothers to bed and hung out for the rest of the night as I finished preparing for the next day.
When you’re having a scheduled c-section, you have to take a shower with special soap the night before and the morning of the operation. You also have to sleep on clean linens. I took my shower and remembered that I hadn’t put our comforter in the dryer, so I waited up until that was finally finished around 12:30 AM. Looking back, I wish I had gone to bed without the comforter because we were in for a long night.
After sleeping for a couple hours, I woke up around 2:30 because of a painful contraction. I stayed awake for a bit to see if I would have another and I didn’t, so I went back to sleep only to be awoken by another painful contraction around 3:10… and another around 3:30. When I had another around 3:45 I woke up your dad because I needed someone to help me through them. I knew it wasn’t time to go to the hospital yet, but they were quite painful and coming faster each time.
By 5:00 I told Daddy to call Noni to come over because my contractions were about 10 minutes apart and we didn’t want to have to scramble if my water broke or we needed to get to the hospital quickly. She came over and hung out with us and helped get your brothers up in the morning. At about 8:00 my contractions were between 6-8 minutes apart and I thought my water broke… I was definitely wrong (I’ll explain that in a minute) but I hadn’t ever gone into labor naturally before and when I felt some fluid and then more and more I thought that was what was happening. At that point, I told Daddy we needed to go to the hospital and I’m glad we left when we did.
We hugged your brothers, took one last picture as a family of four, and loaded up in the car. It was the longest car ride of my life. Not only did we have to contend with weekday rush hour traffic, I was also having contractions as close as three minutes apart on the way. It was not fun.
When we pulled up to the hospital, we gave our keys to the valet and started to get a wheelchair when two older women pulled up next to us by the valet stand asking where the valet was… She was parking our car… also, can you not see that I’m in labor?? I actually almost laughed because I thought it was so crazy that these random people stopped us (clearly not valet attendants or hospital employees) to ask about the valet. They asked another question and I don’t remember exactly what Daddy said, but he basically shooed them away because we’re having a baby here, people!
We made it up to Labor and Delivery and waited for a nurse to come get us. It felt like a very long time waiting, especially with the close and painful contractions I was having, but they finally got us to a room and started checking on things. I was dilated to 4 cm, but you weren’t very low yet so we would have a long way to go if we weren’t having a c-section. The nurse asked if we had discussed plans for a VBAC and I almost thought about doing it because it would be cool to experience a vaginal delivery, but we had discussed the risks and benefits of a VBAC with my doctor long before and we knew that a repeat c-section was the safest decision for both of us. It turned out that this was 100% the right decision because of something we would learn in the operating room. More on that later.
Shortly after my progress was checked, my water actually broke. Yep. There was absolutely no mistaking what that felt like. Honestly, it was pretty unpleasant. It didn’t hurt or anything, but it just kept coming, even after the giant initial gush. I thought back to stories I read about women in the 1950s carrying around jars of pickles they could drop to cover things up in case their water broke in public and I could see why they would do that. I imagine if I was at Publix and my water broke I would probably be pretty mortified too, if for no other reason than it really feels like you peed your pants and that’s clearly not publicly acceptable.
At this point I got pretty nervous that I would have to give birth vaginally and maybe even without drugs because they were waiting to give me any pain medication until we were in the operating room. Apparently this is because I requested a spinal block (because it’s way better to have in the recovery room) and it only lasts for about 2 hours. Fortunately, things started moving pretty quickly at this point – my doctor finally got to the hospital, Daddy got his standard-issue scrubs for the OR, and I was whisked away to get prepped. I remembered after I was being wheeled out that we didn’t say a prayer for you before I left, like we did for Graham and Foster. I almost cried about it, but I knew it was best not to get upset. I just focused on what I had to do and told Daddy when he got in the OR that I needed him to do it then. He did, and I felt better.
The first thing we did when I arrived in the OR was to get my anesthesia started. The nurse anesthetist placed the needle and it was quite painful as she had to keep moving it around and I would get little zings of pain in my spine every time. I actually still felt these tiny zings up until about 2 weeks after the surgery, but they finally seem to have gone away. When the spinal was finally in place, they laid me back on the operating table and prepped everything else.
When the anesthesiologist started checking me for numbness, I wasn’t numb at all on my right side. It made me pretty nervous! She told me they would make sure that I was numb before they started. It took tilting the table and moving me around a bit to get gravity to work in my favor, but I was finally completely numb when they wanted to begin the surgery.
Daddy came in and held my hand. He took some pictures, but he mostly stayed quiet while they were starting the surgery. I had the familiar feeling of an elephant sitting on my chest and a slight bit of nausea, but was reassured because I knew that they were closely monitoring my vital signs and they gave me some anti-nausea medication. I felt like we were waiting forever to hear you cry, when in reality it wasn’t too long.
When they finally pulled you out of my belly, they told Daddy to stand up and look because there was something very unusual about your umbilical cord: it had two knots in it! You were a graceful mover inside my belly, but you did move a lot – enough to tie two knots in your cord! It’s rare (about 1 in 100 births) to have one true knot in the umbilical cord. Two is almost unheard of. I’m glad we didn’t know about this before I delivered because Googling it would have caused me some serious anxiety. I’m also glad that we delivered via a c-section because the most danger from knotted cords comes during vaginal delivery.
You were taken to the warmer and cleaned up while the doctors tied my tubes and closed me up. Daddy went over to see you and take pictures and then they brought you to me. I was so happy to finally meet you. You were trying so hard to open your eyes and look around and you were just perfect. I let Daddy hold you for a while because I was still not feeling great, but I was expecting them to usher him out of the OR to wait for me to be finished like they did with your brothers. This time, though, they let you both stay the entire time I was there and walk with me to the recovery room! It was really nice to have that time together.
We were wheeled down the hall to recovery and I got to do skin-to-skin and nurse you. You were a champ and nursed for a good 45 minutes the very first time. While we were there, we texted family to let them know you had arrived and that we were both doing well.
We were only in recovery for about 1.5 hours before they let us go up to our room. We called Noni to tell her to bring your brothers to meet you! Daddy brought them into the room and it was so sweet to see their reactions. Graham is a seasoned pro at this whole “big brother” thing, but we were surprised at how quickly Foster took to it. He loves you so much.
Recovery was a bit tougher this time around. I have some lingering numbness in my back that doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to go away, even 6 weeks after you were born. I also had some pretty serious issues with high blood pressure in the first couple of weeks that sent me to the hospital twice and the doctor’s office once (though, fortunately, I tested negative for preeclampsia). You’re just perfect. You generally sleep well, love to be warm and snuggled up close to us, and you’re pretty tolerant of your doting big brothers.
We’re so excited to see who you become. It’s an amazing time to be born into and you have the opportunity to do so many things that weren’t even really possible for me, let alone your grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I can’t wait for you to grow into the beautiful, smart, strong young lady we know you’ll be, but for right now I’ll soak up every one of these newborn snuggles that I can get.