Bea’s birth

A Revist and a Wait

Yesterday I visited my OB, fulfilling my health protocol of one visit per year.

Seeing as it had been a lengthy sabbatical,  the last time I saw her was at my 5-week check up following Bea’s birth.  And still a year later, that office and it’s bridge-way connection to the hospital where Bea was born is a magnet of memories.

Co-mingling are the strange feelings that overcome me when I revisit our old hometown.  The route is completely routine and strangely more familiar than my current treads.  It is a mixture of sadness, relief, joy and apprehension.  I wonder if these will eventually fade and at times I am hopeful they don’t.  It is nice, I reason, to pilgrimage when the desire strikes.

The hospital parking garage is an old, familiar friend.  I wind upwards, wondering if a lucky parking spot is awaiting me at the top.  Curiously, no matter how high you climb, the deluge of parked cars never seems to thin.  So I begin stalking the 3rd floor exit, waiting for someone to vacate.

My time spent in this wait most definitely reminds me of MG.  She faithfully accompanied me to all of my appointments, even the ones that seemed to pile on top of each other at the end of the pregnancy.  We would count the floors as we climbed the garage tower.  1….2….3…I prayed for a parking spot near the door, one that wouldn’t require me to lug my expectant belly and toddler companion through a long trek of stairs and distance.

Just like in those desperate times, an open spot suddenly appeared a very short distance from the entrance to the skyway.  Bless.

As we would walk hand-in-hand, MG would recite our routine: “first I’ll play with the baby {they have a children’s area with toys and two very ugly, but sanity-saving baby dolls}, then we will listen to the heartbeat {Bea’s}, then I’ll eat a sucker {while we wait for the doctor to finish the exam}, then I will pick out a sticker, then we will go home.”

Walking over the bridge by myself, I suddenly missed her attentive commentary.

I passed through the elevator and into the office.  Nothing has changed in my absence, at least not in the physical sense.  I wondered if MG would still think the lines on the wall looked like snakes and the window sills like benches.

I couldn’t help but notice there was another little girl in the play area with the dolls.  She had them by their plush toes and was banging their bobbly heads together.  Probably for the best MG wasn’t there.

I filled out some forms as if I were a new patient (it had been a year, afterall); carefully marking in the dates and details of my pregnancies, smiling with pride as I filled in the girls’ hefty birth weights.

Not too long after, the nurse called me back.  It had been an entire year since I had seen her but in those last days she had become a friend by sheer proximity.  I wondered if she felt towards me the gravity of emotion that I felt towards her.

The doctor came in and routinely rubbed her hands with the waterless soap hanging from a container on the wall.  The smell of it is a memory napalm to me.  I am instantly transported back to room 305, leaning over a plastic bassinet, my hospital-issued gown tented over me as it is today, my deflated belly leaning with me, just a few beats behind.

I absently press my stomach as she shakes my hand.  It is still a mystery to me that something with bones and muscle and flesh can be stretched so far and then knit itself back together.  I am proud of its accomplishments over the past four years, pushing itself to its absolute limit two separate times and then coming back down according to my pleas.  There is no little one fluttering around in there today.  It is at rest for now.

The exam is quick and she asks me about my future pregnancy plans.  It tumbles out easily.  After what we have been through together I feel I can be completely candid with her.

For the first time in five years I am not pregnant, nor do I have a baby nourishing off of me, nor do I desperately desire either of those things.  And I am pretty happy to be in that place for a while.  She gives me a knowing smile.  She has a 3 year old and a toddler of her own.  I tell people it’s because I have my hands full, as she expects, and that is part of it.  But another large part of it, that I am afraid to speak aloud, is that I am not in a hurry to usher in the end of possibly the dearest and most lucid time in my life I have ever experienced.  As long as I keep that door closed, I can relish that my days of cradling a baby are possibly not over, be that truth or not.

I leave, but somewhat reluctantly.  My heart physically hurts when I think about the last time I was here.  My happy, little toddler who had me by the hand and heart, My expectant belly full of promise fulfilled.  It was such a fleeting time in my life and surely one of the sweetest.

I don’t know when or even IF I will be back.  At some point I will most likely have to move my OB visits to my hometown.  I can’t tell if this will be a relief because I will be able to close this childbirth chapter and force my emotions to move along, or if it will come with much dread and heel-dragging, reluctant to say a final goodbye to a place rampant with memory.

My heart is a tangle of emotions.  It feels as if the good as well as the bad have encircled themselves upon it in a hard knot.  I don’t even know where to begin in order to sort them out.  For now, I think I will wait until next July, when my next appointment is due.  I am sure by then I will have a bit of clarity; when the nearness of Bea’s birth is not such a raw spot in my heart and the newness of my current home is not so strange.  Yes, I think I will give myself until then to sort it all out.

-smk

Bea’s Birth Part IV: The First Night

{continued from parts I, II, and  III,}

Her official time of birth was 3:28am.  Less than 2 hours since we’d arrived at the hospital and only four since I felt my first contraction.  Eleven  since the discouraging ultrasound.  I could not believe that we were here, now.  I was in shock.

Part IV: The first night

It makes me sad to think about, but our connection wasn’t immediate.  The labor had happened so fast, so unexpectedly on our due date, I was overcrowded with relief that pregnancy and labor were over to feel much else, and she didn’t exactly look like any of us.  I kept looking at her thinking, “she is mine.”, but it felt too abstract to be reality.

They had given me a shot of progesterone to help expel the placenta and it made me woozy.  I snacked on cheese and crackers in bed while N did skin-to-skin. It also gave me a moment to open my push present: a beautiful emerald ring for me to wear and one day pass on to our May baby!

Our room was of hotel quality.  Because we opted for the laboring tub, we received an even bigger room and it came complete with a Murphy double bed for us to share.  The way our hospital was designed we labored, delivered, and stayed in the same room…so there was no rush to leave.  When I felt like it, I took a hot shower and it felt amazing.   Just like last time, I looked down, all the way down, at my feet and smiled.  I was no longer pregnant.  It was over!   I felt the rush of adrenaline come over me and I didn’t sleep for another 24 hours.

  After Bea’s bath in our room, they lay her under the incubator and N slept in the bed.

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I rested, replaying the events in my mind.  Every once in a while, peeking over at my new daughter, memorizing the tiny details of her face, making sure she was still breathing. I felt my heart grow towards her.  It was during these early morning hours that she became mine.

N left to pick up MG around 9:30 that morning.  It was the moment we’d all been anticipating: the moment our family would come together in completion for the first time.

When she arrived, she was wearing her favorite monkey dress.  Her hair was pulled back, making her appear even older.

When she entered the room, I made sure the baby was out of sight, that I greeted her at eye level, and that she had time to take it all in.  But all she wanted to do was see this long awaited sister.  “where’s  Bea?”  she quietly asked.

We walked over to the little bed, she asked to hold her, and our family became 4.  Just like that.

Later there would be more visitors, lots of lounging, a gift from Bea to MG,  talks of how one (newborn) child is so easy and why did we ever stress over it (?), movies and popcorn.  We soaked in our time and marveled over the features of our newest member.

On the morning of the 20th, we were all ready to go home–physically and mentally–when they dropped the bomb on us.  The hospital had completed the 48-hour blood draw on Bea but unfortunately, her ratio of white blood cells came back a touch high.  Because I was GBS+ and didn’t have time to receive adequate antibiotics, they wanted to monitor her and make sure this was not the first sign of an infection setting in.  We were to wait twelve hours and they would do another blood test.  If the ratio had decreased, we would be sent home.  If not, she would be sent to NICU for a minimum of 48 hours where they would give her a round of antibiotics and monitor her for safe-keeping.  We waited impatiently.

The twelve hours passed rather slowly but they finally came to take her away for a blood draw.  N volunteered to go with her.  His first words upon return to the room was, “well that was awful.”Little Bea’s veins did not want to cooperate and they ended up drawing from her forehead after several other attempts didn’t work.  We waited thirty minutes for the results.

The nurse came back to tell us that unfortunately her blood had clotted and she would need to be assessed again.  Once again they rolled her away with Daddy in tow. Two more clotted tests later and they finally got the results they needed.  Her ratio had improved and we were given the green light to go home with much exaltation!

It was 80 degrees and sunny, we took a much more peaceful (and dare I say, cautious, Dad?) way  home—a digression from our frantic ride there.  We returned to our big girl waiting for us and entered upon the next great chapter of our lives.

Statistics say only 15% of women go into labor with their water breaking first.  And only 5% of women go into labor on their due date.  Some would say this would make me lucky.

Lucky?  Maybe.  But from the very first moments of our story, I have felt the hand of the LORD working its way through and weaving it for us.  From the miscarriage, to the wait, to finding out she was a girl, to the easing of my fears, to the prayers that were answered differently but in our favor, to her not receiving the antibiotics and it keeping me from the tub which I would not have wanted to exit, to all of the answered prayers with the right timing of doctors and nurses, timing with MG and the perfect timing of labor and delivery, and of course a healthy and beautiful girl as the end result.  Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe it.  The LORD has been most gracious to us.

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.    Habakkuk 2:3

 {the end}

P.S. taking some time off to spend time with family and catch up on some things here.  will be back in short while

Bea’s Birth Part III: Hospital

{continued from parts I and II)

He pulled up to the free valet parking and I exited the back seat in between contractions.  I felt as if the valet, upon first sight of me,  got onto her walkie talkie and said,

 ”Roger, we’ve got a live one here.”  Time to get this labor show on the road!

Part III: Hospital

The valet asked  if I wanted a wheelchair and I declined.  I’m sure I had that glazed eyes, panting animal look about me because everyone pretty much listened to me and left me alone.  We made our way in and to the elevators, my eyes only open enough to check my step.

Our first stop was triage.  N answered a hundred questions for me, firing answers off as if he were in a trivia contest.  I couldn’t help but notice the ones he got wrong, such as my weight, but I didn’t have the energy nor desire to correct him.  I continued to pace until they made me lie down on the bed to be monitored and checked.  That was possibly one of the worst parts.  The last thing I wanted to do was be on my back and I feared the contractions as they came upon me that way.  It was 1:52am.

The good news?  I was dilated to a seven.  SEVEN! This was so amazing because I had prepared myself to be happy with four–just one more past where I had started.  It also meant I had crossed over from six which is where I seemed to hang for hours with MG.  I felt this was a huge encouragement and later recognized it as a gift from God.

We got the all clear to go to our room….which was so…far…..away.  The rooms designed for the tub are the largest, but also the furthest down the hall.  Walking, however, was my comfort zone.  We walked slowly and deliberately, stopping momentarily and about every two minutes when a contraction began, but then attempting to walk through them with N rubbing my back.

The whole time I was thinking, “this isn’t” as bad as last time.”(and it wasn’t!)  And  “I’m doing this.”  I channeled my inner laboring mamas stories.

Finally we made it to our room and the tub–our great focal point– was finally being prepared for me.

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We were disappointed it wasn’t ready as soon as we walked in, but  they told me I would need to be monitored for twenty minutes first, plus they needed to administer my first round of antibiotics.  There was a hubbub of people in and out of the room.  “Sign this, make sure this is correct, I’m going to poke you now.”  Leave me alone!  Nate was left to answer more questions to the best of his ability.  We were all counting down the minutes to the tub.  It was 2:15am.

I found my way onto the bed kneeling and leaning into N.   I ask him to hold me up when a contraction started as squatting on my knees relieved some of the pain and pressure and his holding me up made me feel a bit weightless.  In this way, he worked nearly as hard as I did!

 Some contractions were extremely intense and painful but they were bookended by ones that were a bit more manageable.  I audibly cried out to the LORD after the most painful ones for Him to speed things up and allow the baby to drop.  Julie leaned in to tell me that I was going through transition and this would be the fastest part of my labor.  My outward signs were pretty much textbook.

All of that squatting did a number on my antibiotic IV.  I had felt it come detached but at the time didn’t really care nor drew attention to it.  Someone noticed blood on the back of Nate’s shirt and my popped line was soon after discovered.  Baby never received the antibiotics which was actually an answer to prayer, considering that she was healthy and strong after birth and because of that, didn’t need them anyway.

All the while, Julie and N were encouraging me.  Julie reminded me that when they checked me at 7cm, the baby was at a -2 station, still fairly high up.  She explained that she would drop and it might be fast and sudden so not to let it catch me off guard.  The nurses were moving quickly and N and Julie seem to be encouraging each other with whispers of “this is going a lot faster than we expected”.  I could only half-listen.

At 2:40am, they finally cleared me to get into the tub.  But as I had a contraction, I suddenly started to feel that urge.  I felt God telling me to trust my intuition which had so failed me last time.

N was all ready to help me off of the bed and into the water, but I surprised everyone, including myself, when I asked the nurse to check me first.  “Really, are you sure?”

9 and a half centimeters, almost there.

They asked me if I still wanted to go in and Julie said there’s still time.  The nurse said you may not want to because as soon as you reach 10 it may be hard to get out and get to the bed to push.  I agreed.  I didn’t want to go anywhere.  I begged God to let her drop down and announced to everyone what I thought I was going on down below.

“Don’t push until the doctor comes in.” the nurse said.  (Hearing those words fulfilled some sort of Hollywood dream I had of my labor).  Julie whispered, “listen to your body”.  (do what you want, essentially.  Believe me, I had every intention too!)

The doctor came into the room and it wasn’t Dr. P–the doctor we were told was on call.  “do you mind if I catch the baby?” she politely asked.  Lady, I don’t mind if my Father-In-Law catches the baby at this point.  Julie asked her if it was alright with her that I continue pushing on my knees, using N as a squat bar.  She said she was fine with that and everyone did a little victory yell.  Mine was in my head, but truthfully, I wasn’t going anywhere.

They encouraged me to push when I was ready.  I was and had already been a bit.  It was about 5 minutes till 3am.

In keeping with the theme, this pushing experience was totally different this time too.  I felt the baby working her way down.  I cried aloud in frustration when I felt her snake back up.  Julie reminded me to be patient and let my body work her out.  Sometimes I felt the urge to push hard, other times just small, grunty pushes.  I couldn’t believe my body was so trustworthy and that things were going so well.

Soon though she was crowning and I felt that things were culminating into the ultimate birth experience I had wanted.  There were about a half dozen female nurses in the room plus the doctor.  They were all encouraging me and  letting me do my thing.  They were quietly telling stories about other births and even speaking of me as if I wasn’t in the room.  “She hasn’t sat down this entire time.”  N was punctuating the conversation with nervous jokes.  And I was in the zone but still completely conscientious of what was going on around me.  Almost as if I was having an out of body experience.  So, so much different than the three hours of pushing discouragement last time.

With the urging of my body, I gave it my all and her head was out. Or at least I thought. I wasn’t really sure what was going on as it was happening a lot faster than I ever imagined. Things got really fuzzy after that as they called out to me to keep pushing, though I had no urge. And then they became frantic.  About 6 people flipped me onto my back,  shoved up my knees, and yelled at me to push.  I did, despite not feeling the need.

That was the last boost she needed to be out and what an amazing feeling it was!  She didn’t cry immediately, but they suctioned her out on my chest and she immediately pinked up and cried.  I was in such a state of shock that I did not cry this time, I just talked to her and cooed over her as they rubbed her down.

Soon after, I asked Julie what had happened during the moment of drama and she said the shoulders were possibly wedged up and at the angle I was the doctor could not get her out so they needed me on my back in order to remove her.

About that time, the doctor from my practice came into the room and apologized for not being there to attend my birth.  Apparently the incoming storms had done a number on my fellow pregnant friends  and there were about 4 of us delivering at once, one in triage.

I carefully examined my brand new daughter.

She did not look how I imagined she would.  She was a beautiful, little stranger that at the time, did not resemble any of us.

They let her breastfeed and do skin-to-skin for an hour before weighing her in at 8lbs, 12oz and 22in long.   Her official time of birth was 3:28am.  Less than 2 hours since we’d arrived at the hospital and only four since I had felt my first contraction.  Eleven  since the discouraging ultrasound.  I could not believe that we were here, now.  I was in shock.

{to be concluded on Wednesday}

Bea’s Birth Part II: Labor

{continued from Part I)

Sure enough, there was no doubt in my mind my water was at least leaking.  I looked at my watch.  It was 7:30pm.

Part II: Labor

My feelings went from rote preparation, to panic, to excitement, back to “let’s take one thing at a time.”  I called downstairs  to let N know what was going on and then called my doula.

Every single time I’ve called her, she has always, always answered. For the first time ever, I had to leave a voicemail.  Then a few minutes later, a text. I really wanted to hear back from her before I called my doctor or N’s mom who was on childcare watch.  I needed her to call me back before I could move forward.

To pass the time, we began getting MG ready for bed.  She begged to watch the “MG video” (home movie) as she ate her bedtime snack.  It is about 11 minutes long and even though we were already behind schedule, I obliged.  I sat her on my small lap space and just cried into her hair as we watched the video together and she munched on popcorn.  I kept whispering to her that I loved her and she spilled popcorn everywhere all over the floor, but I didn’t even care.  I sat with her and grieved for those few moments.  It was important.

While N bathed and dressed her, I finally heard back from Julie who had happened to be in a movie and explained that my calls and texts had gotten a delayed response on her phone.  She advised me to make our final preparations, to go ahead and call Grandma to come over, and then to begin walking to get contractions going.  We decided not to call Labor and Delivery until I was absolutely ready to go into the hospital.

With me being GBS+, they would most likely ask us to come in right away and that would defeat our intent to labor at home as long as possible.  This was especially crucial to me because while my water had broken at 7:30pm, I wasn’t having any other signs of labor.  No contractions or any of the other sure signs that I will spare mention of.  The last thing I wanted to do was be tethered to a hospital bed while having the fear and pressure of Pitocin hanging over me.  (and I say this because having a Pitocin-induced labor just makes a natural labor much more difficult).

About that time I called Grandma, who had previously warned us that she would be at a funeral from 7-8pm with her phone off.  It was about 8:30pm at this point and she answered.  I explained the situation and told her to finish her dinner, but to make her way over in the next hour or so.  She said when she got off the phone and told the ladies at her table what it was about, they all rejoiced.  To be at a funeral for a little girl with a terminal illness and then to hear  on that night, new life would be entering the world was a reason to celebrate.

At home, amidst both of our minds reeling about what we needed to do, we managed to get MG to bed and then added the last minute things to our bags, charged the camera, loaded things in the car, and N put on his bowtie that he had picked out to meet his daughter!   This was really happening!

It was such a surreal experience because I was only just beginning to feel the first signs of true labor. Other then the occasional gush of water down my leg, I was starting to feel significantly crampy, although I wasn’t having any timeable contractions yet.

I could not believe we were actually packing up to go to the hospital and the amazing timing of it all.  We got our wish to be able to put MG to bed (and had even been able to forewarn her that Grandma would be there when she woke up in the morning-which to her was invaluable).  We knew that we would be doing most of our laboring throughout the night when she was asleep, which meant we could be at home.  It also meant that Grandma wouldn’t have to drive in the middle of the night and on this particular weekend, Papa had been on a hunting trip but would be arriving home that night.  It was perfect.  Plus we had non-intense time to calmly(?) pack everything and rationally think through what was needed to be done.  I could not have crafted a better scenario to begin labor if I had wanted too.

The only thing I was a tad bit concerned about was that true labor would delay or take a long time.  With me being GBS+ this could be a real issue, as once your water breaks, you have 36 hours to get the baby out.  So we were on the clock, unofficially.

About an hour later, Julie called to see if any changes had been made.  I told  her no contractions yet, but I was starting to feel a bit crampy.  With her being an hour drive away, we decided that she should gather her things and then make her way over to our house to labor with us in the next hour or so.  She also advised N to call the hospital and ask them to set up the tub for us.

He called and we were relieved to hear the tub and accommodating rooms were available (it is a first come, first serve basis)  He also asked about the doctor on call and we rejoiced to find out it wasn’t the one doctor in the practice who won’t let you use the tub if your membranes have ruptured.  Everything was coming together beautifully!

Grandma arrived around 9:30pm and we got her squared away.

Then I excused myself to a quiet corner of the house.  I spent some quiet time praying and meditating on the Scriptures I had previously picked out for this moment.  I had grieved my time and said goodbye to MG.  She was taken care of, I had all my bags packed and loaded in the car.  It was time to mentally focus and get into the labor zone!

N and I started walking laps around our street in an effort to pick up labor.  We talked about how crazy it was that we were here, now, and how excited we were for our family to change.  Around 11:40pm, I noted my first contraction.  Later, Julie told me that she had been praying aloud  on the way to my house from 11-11:30pm that labor would begin and not stall.  At 11:30pm, she felt God giving her confirmation that it had begun and that she could stop praying.

One of the instructions Julie had given me was to make sure to eat and drink while I still felt up to it and to take some time to rest in between exercise.   While thinking about this, I suddenly remembered that we had not yet watched the Office series finale which was one of the things we’d actually been looking forward to that weekend.  I proposed to N that we take a break and watch it.  He was thrilled with that idea, so we came inside for a change of scenery.  I snacked on almonds and he began using his contraction timer app.

During the show I tried to either stay on my feet, swaying back and forth, or rest on my hands and knees as my chiropractor had suggested.  I signaled to N every time a contraction started and ended and he punched the appropriate button on the iPad.  Meanwhile, my water was still leaking and my contractions were moderate but I noticed that every time I went to use the bathroom, they became very intense for that short amount of time.  I kept my mind fixed on positive things and was able to think through them for the most part.

N was loving the Office, but he later told me that I wasn’t laughing at any of the funny parts.  I thought I was fully engaged at the time, but I guess I had other things on my mind :). Contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart and a little under a minute long.  At midnight, I happened to look at the clock and joyfully declared “It’s the 18th!!”.  Our baby would be born sometime that day on her due date!

Around 12:30am, I was breathing through a few of my contractions and N asked me how I was doing.  I was dismayed to tell him that I was starting to feel them in my back.  It was another thing I had specifically prayed against: back labor.  I hoped she would turn soon and not put me through the excruciating pain MG had. It was also around this time that  I felt my energy being drained and relocated for contractions.   I answered a few more last minute texts and began mentally checking out.  Julie arrived about 10 minutes before the show was over and N regretfully turned it off.

We chatted for a few minutes and then she observed me while I had a contraction.  She looked at our contraction stats and we made conversation in between a few.  I asked her what we were looking for to know it was time to go to the hospital.  She explained longer and closer together and a little less vitality from me.  It was during this time we discovered that if N rubbed my lower back during a contraction it helped the pain tremendously.

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Collectively, it was decided that we should attempt another few laps around the neighborhood.

I guess there were smiles in between contractions and yes, we did see a few cars.  One slowed way down, much to my annoyance.  I’m sure we made quite the spectacle.

It wasn’t long before the contractions seemed to be coming a lot closer together and I was able to continue walking through them, but I didn’t much want to.

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After about two laps, I brought up the hospital again and Julie answered that we could go whenever I felt that I wanted to.  I was ready.

“Are you sure?” they both wondered.  I couldn’t really explain why, but it was if something in me had changed and I felt sure that it was time.  It was around 1:00am.

Inside, I went to the bathroom and had another major contraction. Julie said she knew at that point that it was definitely time to go and if I hadn’t brought it up earlier, she would have suggested it at this point.

The car ride to the hospital was one that I had been dreading. I was in the zone and did not want to break my flow.  I also didn’t want to experience a contraction “on my own” without N there to help relieve me by doing counter-pressure. I prayed a lot as they set me up in the back seat (over a towel of course) in the most “comfortable” position.  I was mostly afraid of feeling out of control when the pains came.  Julie noted it was 1:14am.

Surprisingly, the car ride was one of the most peaceful experiences of the entire labor.  I believe that God helped me truly relax and I only remember having two contractions.  I feel that it was at this point that I was able to go completely inward and get into a trance-like state that I would stay in for the remainder.

My peaceful ride however, was not so much for N.  He exercised his “Daddy rights” and got us to the hospital in record-breaking time, possibly breaking a few laws on the way :).  He continued to encourage me from the front seat, letting me know our status and telling me what a great job I was doing.  He was a wonderful labor coach!  We arrived around 1:45am.

He pulled up to the free valet parking and I exited the back seat in between contractions.  I felt as if the valet, upon first sight of me,  got onto her walkie talkie and said,

 “Roger, we’ve got a live one here.”  Time to get this labor show on the road!

{part III: Hospital…to be continued on Monday}

Bea’s Birth Part 1: Days, Hours, and Minutes until Labor Began

This is a story that will be retold over and over for the rest of my life.  It is a story that will be shared around campfires, in a crowded booth at a favorite restaurant, at a prettily decorated table at church, in chats between fences, around our kitchen table late into the night.   It is a mother’s war story.  The story of meeting her child.  The obstacles she encountered, the feelings she experienced, the battles she fought.  Every mother knows the importance behind these words.

Parts of this story will stay in the recesses of my heart, only to be reflected upon in my own personal thoughts.  Someday, when the timing it right, it will be told with a great emphasis on emotional feelings to my girls.  My friends, on the other hand, will get the  purely physical version.  In the thirty days since bearing witness to it, it has already been told too many times to count.

Though the words to this story are already being formed into the same repetitive lines in my memory, their meaning has not become any less important to me.  Instead, each time they are spoken it only makes me feel more strength, pride, and love for the girl that was the end result.

We fought hard for her, after all.

While I was in the midst of transitional labor, I recalled in vivid detail the birth accounts of friends.  The mantras they chanted, the focal points they used, the descriptive detail they recounted.  Their stories merged with mine and became the deep thoughts that carried me through the next contraction.

With great pride,  but some trepidation, I now share this story with you. My hope is that it will find its way into your heart.  And to a few of you reading, may my story someday, in some way, serve as a help to you.

It is the story of a moment that our lives were changed.

The end chapter on a Divine season of wait.

An Ebenezer stone in our great family history.

A story woven with love for us by our Creator.

It is the story of meeting our Bea.

{You already know that we hired a doula and planned to go naturally on this birth, we changed hospitals and rented a laboring tub in hopes to help relieve the pain of labor without  the use of drugs and we’d had a long wait and delivery for our first daughter, MG.}

{And for more pictures/video of our birth story, watch this}

(you should also know by now that I am not one to mince details.  So this story will be broken up into four more manageable parts)

Part 1: Days, Hours, Minutes until Labor Began

In the weeks leading up to my due date, I spent a lot of time thinking about how and when labor would begin.  During daylight, I felt mostly confident and excited.  At night, I stirred with fear and anxiety.  Starting around 36 weeks, I began to cautiously prepare: packing my bags, making instructions and food for MG, keeping the house in order, taking Evening Primrose Oil and drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea.  All the while, I hoped that labor would wait until we were absolutely ready.  The closer she came to my due date, I reasoned, the better the timing would be for us all.

At 36 weeks, I was disappointed to find out I tested positive for Group Beta Strep (GBS).  It is a common symptom randomly occurring in about 25% of pregnant women.   A positive test can vary from woman to woman, pregnancy to pregnancy, and even week to week.  Those who test positive receive an antibiotic during labor to help protect the baby from acquiring an infection  as they pass through the birth canal.  The reasons why I was disappointed were threefold: 1) most OB’s prefer that you receive two, twenty minute doses of the antibiotic at least 2 hours before you deliver.  This meant that I may have to arrive at the hospital sooner than I wanted in order to receive the proper doses on time  2)  Though antibiotics are a wonderful and preventative drug, I was leery about my newborn baby receiving them if she did not need them.  Of course, I absolutely wanted to protect her, but I also knew that receiving antibiotics at birth could lead to thrush (which could hinder breastfeeding) and other unknown side effects.  The less drugs she could encounter at such a young age, the better, I thought.  3) I had strongly prayed against being positive (due to the above two reasons) so hearing this news made me question God’s provision over me.  If He wasn’t going to answer this prayer the way I wanted, what other prayers about my labor was I going to be disappointed by His response?  It was not something that preoccupied my mind for long, but I did question what God’s plan for me in that was.

Time passed, and the week of my due date was pretty normal and non-eventful.  The regular play dates, grocery shopping, house-cleaning, and all of the labor prep “just in case tomorrow is the day” were somewhat exhausting and I noticed that I while I still hadn’t encountered insomnia, I wasn’t sleeping very well either–averaging about 7 hours a night and then also needing a nap during MG’s afternoon one.

On Sunday (the 12th) at 39 weeks, I thought I noticed my first pre-labor symptom.  If I really concentrated I discerned a few noticeable contractions here and there during the day.  Maybe about 20 minutes apart?  That same night N and I watched a movie and throughout the entire two hours, I counted mild contractions averaging about 10 minutes apart.  It probably didn’t help that we were watching one of the most intense movies I’d seen in a while, “Zero Dark Thirty”, but nonetheless, it was an exciting and scary change.  As we headed to bed, we both wondered if I would go into labor that night and it gave us the courage to put the finishing touches on all loose ends.

Throughout that Sunday night, I slept lightly with contractions coming and going in between dreams.  Finally around 4am, I decided to make use of my little contraction app–the one I’d been so excited to use last time–and started to monitor them.  They were irregular and inconsistent and not too long after I started timing them, they died down and I fell back asleep.  Secretly,  I was glad because in my heart, I didn’t really want a 13th baby anyway (you know of my little preoccupation with numbers, right? :))

The next morning, N was a little disappointed to see my still enlarged belly, but we consoled ourselves that we “still had time” and realized if only we could make it two more days (until Wednesday) we would be within our “ideal window” and could relax a bit more.  This time frame  being somewhere between the 15th-22nd with our due date weekend being the most ideal.

On Tuesday night before bed, I felt a few more contractions but they didn’t last throughout my sleep.  During the days, N anxiously carried with and checked his phone for messages from me.  Each night, we had little pep talks to ease my fears that labor would begin on its own, that we wouldn’t have to wait forever, and that God was in control.

On Wednesday (the 15th), I went in to see my doctor and we were both relieved to find that I was 3cm dilated, 50% effaced.  I knew it wasn’t an indicator of when I would go into labor, but I thought, “the more I can do now, the less I will have to do later.”  N, the ever positive, was elated and was sure that labor was just around the corner.  My doctor said she was “hopeful” that I wouldn’t make it to our induction date just a little over 2 weeks away.  And I remained cautiously hopeful that we’d still fall within our perfect timeframe.

After that good news, my hopes took a downward spiral as I had my weekly (at that point) prenatal chiropractic appointment. After my adjustment she asked if she could touch my belly and after feeling around for a bit, told me the baby was curled into a c-shape with her spine facing my left-hand side.  She recommended I spend a lot of time on my hands and knees in order to reposition her back to turn outward towards my bellybutton.  Finally, after I admitted we had a perfect due date picked out for that weekend, she told me that in her opinion, I was not ‘on the verge’.  “You still have a few days by my estimation” she essentially said.  I asked her why she thought this and she said my body had not significantly changed since my last appointment and to her that is always an indicator that labor is impending.

I texted my doula (Julie) to see what she thought of this news.  “Patience.” she texted back.  I steadied myself for another long wait.  It felt as if the closer we grew to our due date, the further away the reality of labor seemed.

Thursday and eventually Friday came without further excitement.  N did pressure points and I tried a few other labor inducing techniques.  While I had a few contractions here and there, I was disappointed that they never sent us into anything close to full blown labor.  I watched for other signs.

On Thursday, I woke up with a ton of energy and felt great.  I cleaned the house and ran a few other errands “just in case” it happened that weekend.  Friday, I woke up feeling back to blah and maybe even a little worse.  I had MOPS that day, so thankfully I didn’t spend the morning running around and on my feet but nonetheless, I couldn’t shake the nauseated feeling in my stomach.  If I really concentrated, I noticed contractions about every 20 minutes again.  If nothing else, I hoped it would push me into the 4cm range.

That afternoon, I had an ultrasound scheduled for 4:30pm.  Since I was technically overdue on Sunday, I had a doctor’s appointment and Non-Stress-Test scheduled for Monday morning to make sure the baby was not distressed in any way.  They couldn’t fit the ultrasound in as well, so they put me down for Friday afternoon instead.  I looked at it as a little consolation prize: if I couldn’t meet my baby on her due date, at least I could catch a glimpse of her.  N was very excited to go too, so we made it a family date.  MG was so excited, she skipped her nap to attend as well.

Suffice it to say, the ultrasound was a little disappointing, especially considering my high expectations.  I should have known it would be a downer when the very first thing the tech greeted me with was, “Someone‘s had too much sun” as she gave a meaningful glance towards my shoulders.

How does one even respond to that?

The ultrasound itself was less than 10 minutes long and we could barely see anything. “Well that is one of the worst facial shots I’ve ever taken, but here ya go.” she said as she handed us our one blurry picture.  I asked her to go back and confirm it was still a girl, so she obliged and just like that, we were finished. I also asked her if the baby’s back was facing out correctly and she said the same thing the chiropractor had: that her face was turned to the right and she was curled around in a C-shape.  This to me was good news that she wasn’t completely posterior (as MG had been), but it also meant that she wasn’t yet engaged and ready to begin.  I breathed the word patience to myself.

 The last shred of good news was that the tech cleared us on her fluid levels which meant that we had bought the appropriate time before induction.  “Do some squats and take the stairs on your way out of here.” she joked.

Very funny.  If one more non-friend gave me advice on how to start labor, I was going to lose it.

Outside it was rainy and we decided to go to Jason’s Deli for dinner and let rush hour traffic subside before making our way home.

Dinner at Jason’s was fitting because the last time we’d eaten there as a family was right after our gender ultrasound when we were giddy with our pink news.  This time we were reserved and our morale was beginning to sink.  MG was in high spirits, however, and we rallied to make the most of our little family date for her sake, complete with unlimited ice cream.  “Is Bea enjoying that?” N asked as I rubbed my moving belly.  “A little too much” I responded.  “She needs to come out.”

By the time we got home (after MG fell asleep in the car of course),

the rain had mostly cleared and we decided to go for a walk before bed.

The entire walk was pretty much a whine-fest.  I related an article I had read the night before about “Natural ways to induce labor.”  It had pretty much said you can attempt these things but they under no circumstance  will put you into labor.   Walking was on the list.  We bemoaned a foreseeable long wait and pessimistically, how she would probably pick the worst possible day to come.

Between the walk and MG, I was wearing out quickly and wanted to return home sooner than normal.  As we turned onto our street, we took turns lamenting the things we would HAVE to do the following day since we wouldn’t be in the hospital on our due date.  We were mostly being sarcastic and N said, “Well I guess we’ll HAVE to watch “Anna Karenina” (the movie to the book we’d both just finished) tomorrow night.” just as we were stepping onto our driveway.

The words had just barely escaped his lips as wide-eyed I looked at him and said, “Either I just peed my pants or my water just broke.”

He looked at me skeptically as I was lightly laughing.

“I’m being dead serious” I said in between laughter and walking really fast now to make it to the bathroom and assess the situation.

Sure enough, there was no doubt in my mind my water was at least leaking.  I looked at my watch, it was 7:30pm.

{part II: labor…to be continued on Friday}

Happy

This past weekend we watched the documentary Happy with my parents. Out of the movie came the family discussion “when were the happiest moments of your lives?”.

Two very easy answers came immediately to me: directly after the birth of each of my girls.

I don’t mean to make light of post partem depression by saying this, but I feel as though I am given the opposite effect.  Birthing babies and then having them in my house puts me in a state of bliss.

It is also easy to see the LORD smiling down on us in this time.

To hold a little being that is so fresh from His presence is a soulful experience.

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To care for another little person that is so completely helpless and to watch her change every day is truly a joy.

To watch my little family grow and then be sealed together in an everlasting bond is much more than I can even take in right now.

My sweet MG has returned to us (the whiny version has temporarily left :)) and life feels so happy right now.

Towards Bea, she has been nothing but a  nurturing soul.

Here are some of the quotes from today:

“I love her, Mommy.  I love her hair.”

“Look, Mommy!”

(her version of a double stroller) (her play has become much more inventive having lots of new actions to imitate)

“Aww..so cute!”

“Don’t cry, Bea!  Mommy, I hold her hand so she won’t cry.”

“Mommy, smell her.” (to see if she needs to be changed)

This Mama heart is happy.

F.A.Q.’s (post-partem edition)

1) how’s it going?  well, all things considered, it’s going pretty well!  If you were to ask me now, of course with limited perspective only 9 days into it, I’d say the shift from zero to one is MUCH harder than the shift from one to two.  Granted, we are still in the honeymoon stage and Bea sleeps most of the day and night away, so I really can’t complain.  Plus, my level of confidence is much higher.  I’m relying more on intuition and less on Dr. Google.  Finally we’ve had lots of help from friends and family.   Meals dropped off, offers of help, + my sister and BIL came in town this weekend and really spoiled us.

 

Sadly, Daddy returns to work tomorrow, so I guess that will be the true test.  But for now:

(she’s a very smiley baby, both awake and asleep!)

An easy baby + second timer’s’ intuition + lots of help =an easy adjustment

2) how is MG doing?  she is doing so well.  She is a wonderful helper and nurturer.  She doesn’t get rattled when Bea cries and instead tries to help us figure out a solution (9/10 her solution is the paci :)).  She also still wants to help with every diaper change, retrieving items for me, and wants to hold Bea quite often.  Thankfully, the novelty hasn’t worn off yet.  She has not shown any aggression or jealousy towards the baby but she has acted out in other ways. She definitely has become very needy/whiny in other areas and we’ve seen some regression with the potty.  But I’ll take it considering everything else has gone so well!

 

3) how is Bea eating/sleeping?  like a newborn!  She eats every 2-4 hours and sleeps like a log in between.  It is hard to keep her up during and a little after feedings during the day, but not a night.  She is somewhat of a night-owl, as I predicted :).  In the hospital, she showed some signs of reflux so we elevated her mattress and keep her upright after feeding her and the problem seems to have resolved.  Probably just normal newborn immaturity.

 

When MG was born, having nothing to compare it to, I thought she was one of the easiest newborns.  This little one has been even more of a breeze.  A rare crier (I don’t think we’ve heard her full on cry ever).  She is soothed and put to sleep pretty easily and she eats very well too.  Her umbilical cord stump fell off on day 5 and she is almost out of newborn diapers.  Growing by leaps and bounds!

4) who does she look like?  well, like herself?  I can’t say that she really looks like either N or I, and I guess she looks a little like newborn MG.  Still, I was surprised when I first met her at how she didn’t really resemble any of us!   Now that it has been a few days, I think she will look more like me.  It will be fun to see how she grows and changes.

 

5) what is the difference between the first and second?  this time around, my confidence is so much higher, my recovery has been so much better, and I’ve accepted a lot more support and help.  Less guilt, less worry, less anxiety.  Much more laissez-faire.    This has made a HUGE difference in my perspective and enjoyment of this time period.  Breastfeeding this time around, rather than feeling like a painful and taxing schedule, has been a welcome and quiet respite.  I’m also enjoying the huge appetite increase while watching the pounds slide away.  A very welcome change from the discomforts of pregnancy!

It also  already makes me sad to think about this time going by.  I has already gone by so fast with the days and nights coming together in one big blur.  As much as you are excited to see them grow and change, you hope it doesn’t go by too fast without memories recorded, pictures taken, and thoughts tucked away to be treasured later.

6) what is your favorite thing about her? okay no one really asks this, but my favorite thing about her is her silky black hair. I never thought I’d be blessed with anything but a bald-haired baby and both of my babies surprised us with a little (albeit a little) hair.  MG’s was a mahogany brown color, but Bea’s is this beautiful shade of black.

I love it and her so much.  My heart is full.

 

Our Sweet Bea…

has arrived!

weighing in at  8lbs 12oz 22in long.  Only one ounce difference from big sis!

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Speaking of Big Sis, she is doing so well it almost breaks my heart.

How did I ever get so blessed??

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Our Sweet Bea (for blogging purposes, I’ve decided to call her Bea, just as MG is MG)

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arrived right on her due date after an unexpected but quick labor (what a good little girl!)

After just a little longer stay than expected, we are all home and are ready to begin the next chapter of our lives…as a family of 4!

Thanks all for the well-wishes, thoughts, prayers, visits, and encouragement.  We are so happy we are blissful.

Much more to come (name explanation, birth story, etc.)