G's Birth Story

9.17.2022

If you love reading birth stories, you aren't alone! I love them, and I love that I've written down all of my birth stories in such detail. I went back and read F's the night before having G, and even though you don't think you'll forget, there are little details I'm glad to have. Here is the story of our last Baby Bum.

All three of my previous babies came early, so I'd never made it to my official due date. Each baby, however, came later than the last (R was 9 days early, J was 5, F was 3), so I was thinking it was possible that this time I'd actually be able to say "today is my due date." I was due Wednesday, August 31, and my parents came up the weekend before to hang out and possibly be in town when I went into labor. My dad's birthday is August 28, and we all thought it would be fun if they shared a birthday.

I was checked for the first time at my 39-week appointment and was dilated to a "1, maybe a 2." I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing painful or consistent. When Sunday arrived with no signs of labor, my dad left to go back to Texas. My mom had packed a bag and was going to stay at our house until the baby came.

We basically spent the next week waiting around. I had work, the kids went to school and daycare as usual, and my mom did several projects around the house that I had wanted to get done. Wednesday, August 31, was my due date and also my 40-week OB appointment. I was dilated to a 3 this time, and I decided it was okay if she stripped my membranes. We talked about induction, and she knew I didn't want to be induced, but I was also feeling okay about scheduling something for the following week and asked if I could wait until after the long Labor Day weekend. She had me stay to monitor the baby for a half hour, and then with my membranes stripped and an induction scheduled for Tuesday morning (9/6), I left.

My mom and I went on long walk the next morning for about an hour, and I walked the next few days too. My friend told me about something her midwives recommended, which is to "curb walk," where you walk with one foot on the curb and one on the ground, opening the pelvis or something, and I felt ridiculous but I gave it a try! Every night all week we went to sleep thinking maybe this would be the night, and every morning I woke up the same as usual. By Sunday, Sept 4, we were all over it. Jordan was grouchy, I was bored, and my mom was anxious. It was so weird to plan on an August baby this whole time and then tick several days into a new month and still no baby.

We went to church in the morning, and when we got home I wasn't feeling great and took a nap. When I woke up, I started having my first contractions that felt like actual real contractions--by that I mean, not super painful, but more achy and crampy, like I was on my period. I didn't tell my mom or Jordan because I knew it would annoy me if they asked me all day how I was feeling and whether I was having more contractions. But they both sort of knew.

After the kids were in bed, my mom and I went on a walk for about 45 minutes, and I had a few contractions. We came back and watched a movie, which got over around 11:00. At that point I was having a few more contractions, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to sleep much. My mom went to bed, and I downloaded a contraction timer app. From 11:00pm Sept 4 to 2:45am Sept 5, I timed the contractions. At first they were 25ish minutes apart, and I fell asleep between, waking up to press start on the timer. 

They got closer pretty fast, 20minutes, 15, 10, and then soon my average over the last 2 hours was about 7-8 minutes. I really didn't want to wake everyone up in the middle of the night for nothing, but I also knew I was 5 days overdue with my fourth baby, and I didn't want it to come shooting out of me if I waited too long.

At 2:45am I woke Jordan up and told him that we should probably go to the hospital. He called his parents to come over and stay with the kids, and I woke my mom up. We left soon after and drove downtown. When we got to the hospital, we discovered that the entire front entrance of the labor & delivery building was under construction and closed. There was a sign to go to the West Entrance, so we parked, walked across the street, and found that the entrance didn't open until 5:00am. There was a sign to go to the ER. Since the ER entrance was on the other side of the building, we walked back to the car, drove around, and Jordan dropped my mom and I off at the ER entrance.

The lady inside was nice but mostly unhelpful. "I need to get to Joyful Beginnings. I'm having contractions," I said.

"Okay," she replied slowly, "you'll need to go to the parking garage by the West Entrance, take the elevator down one floor, across the tunnel that goes under the street, then take the elevator up two floors, and walk down the hall."

I stared at her blankly. "So." I paused. "You're saying I have to go back to where I came from, down the elevator, across the street, and up the elevator?"

"Mmm hmm," she replied.

I really love our hospital and LIKE TO THINK that if I had an actual baby's head coming out of me they would have been more helpful. As it is, I suppose the fact that I walked in under my own power and was acting calm gave the appearance of a non-emergency situation. So, we walked out of the ER, back to the car, drove around the building to the same parking garage we just left, and took the elevator down, walked across the street, etc.

Jordan offered to find me a wheelchair, but I decided that walking around was probably in my best interest for moving the baby down, so we carried on, albeit walking slowly and stopping for a few contractions along the way. We finally got to L&D and checked into a room around 4:00am, Monday, Sept 5 (Labor Day and G's birthday!).

They checked me, and I was dilated to a 7! Hurrah! It's always such a relief to confirm that yes, we are staying at the hospital and having a baby. They notified the on-call doctor and moved us into a L&D room down the hall. It seemed pretty dead in there. I didn't see or hear much of anything, and I don't think there was too much going on (obviously because during our half-hour walk trying to get into the hospital we saw the ER lady and one other person).

They asked me if I was going to want an epidural. "Now is the time if you want to get one," she said. I said no. If you've been around for my other birth stories, you know that not getting/getting an epidural is always a bit of a decision for me. I knew what to expect not having an epidural, and knowing this was our last baby, I had decided that I didn't want to regret getting an epidural this final time.

Once we got into our L&D room, the on-call doctor came after a bit and asked if I was okay with her breaking my water. I said yes, because they have had to break my water every time, and I was hoping that would move things along some. She broke my water, and then my contractions seemed to stall. I was still having them, but they weren't as close together and they weren't unbearable. In fact, to be honest I was in a bit of a mood. I think I was just happy to be having the baby finally and not getting induced. I kept joking around, and everyone (including myself) was confused about what was going on with me.

I'm not exactly sure on the timing, but at one point the contractions really started to get intense. I was trying to move around in the bed, shifting from one side to the other, and it felt comfortable to lie on my left side, holding onto the side rail of the bed with my left hand and holding onto Jordan's hand with my right hand. In all my previous births, I didn't want Jordan touching me or talking to me, and I would get mad at him if he tried to do so. This time, I really wanted him holding my hand and standing near me. He said after that he liked feeling useful and being able to help.

I remember feeling like the half hour from about 5:00 to 5:30 took forever. At one point Jordan went to the bathroom, and when he came out I said, "What? Were you reading a book in there?" He replied, "It's been about 3 minutes." Every minute just felt so long.

The nurse came in and I asked if she could check me. It had been over an hour since we got there, and I wanted to see if any progress was made. It just helps me to know if anything is happening. She said I was still at a 7 and the baby was still pretty high. I started to freak out (and actually said, "I'm freaking out!" ha). I was having really painful contractions and nothing?! At this point I had a huge feeling of panic. The only way to describe it is that I knew I was in the middle of a horribly painful situation that no one could help me out of. It wasn't like I could say, "Okay, I'm done now. Let's jump to the end." The only way to the end was through it, and I had this very lonely, scared feeling all of the sudden.

She asked if I wanted to try a few other positions to try and move the baby down, so I first turned around and got on my hands and knees. The end of the bed dropped down, and she showed Jordan how to push on my back for counter pressure. I lasted 2 contractions that way, but it was absolutely killing my back, so I said I needed to turn around.

Next she brought in the peanut ball and asked if I wanted to try that. I got on my left side, holding onto the side rail with my left hand, and she put the ball between my legs, left leg on the bed and right leg up over the ball. For some reason my whole body was angled sideways on the bed. It was just about a minute or two later that I felt Really Intense Pressure. 

"I'm feeling a lot of pressure!" I shouted.

"Really? Okay, let's get the doctor in here to see."

The doctor came in and calmly sat down on the edge of the bed. "You're about 8cm," she said. 

"Are you kidding me?" I said. I had thought for sure we were all good down there.
"Well, you're on your side, so it might be a little more open," she replied.

It was ten minutes from the time she said I was 8cm to the time G was born. 

I'm honestly still a little confused about what happened, and Jordan and my mom are too, so it's hard to say exactly, but I just know that I was lying on my side clinging onto the railing and kept saying, "Someone help me. Someone tell me what is going on." I remember being confused because I felt like I needed to push, but if I was only at 8cm then how was the baby supposed to come out?

Things I remember or that Jordan/my mom told me (not necessarily in order):
-The doctor asked me if I could roll onto my back and I said I couldn't move.
-She delivered my baby sitting calmly on the bottom right corner of the bed. She originally sat down to check me and then all of the sudden I was pushing, so she had to reach her hand behind her and ask a nurse to help put another glove on.
-I kept asking someone to tell me what was going on.
-I felt a burning sensation that I knew was the ring of fire, and I was glad because that meant the baby was close to coming out.
-I asked someone to hold my leg up. Jordan held it, and he said he had to grab hold of the rail of the bed to pull against me pushing.
-I wanted the baby to just.get.out. and I kept pushing even when I wasn't having a contraction. The doctor said, "Are you having a contraction?" "No," I replied.
"Okay wait a minute and then use your contraction to help you push." That helped a lot.
-Someone said, "Bear down, mama," and that helped me focus on where I was pushing and how.

The doctor asked me to try on the next contraction doing something like a crunch and pulling my right leg up to my chest. When I did, she said, "You can reach down and feel the head." I remember opening my eyes and seeing the top of the baby's head with lots of dark hair. I reached over my right leg and cupped the head in my right hand. For R's birth, I know I rarely opened my eyes, if at all. I have just one image in my mind of J's birth, and it's just bright shining lights. It's so neat to me that I was able to see and touch the baby's head this time. Just the coolest thing.

When the baby came out, because of the way it was facing, the doctor was facing the back of the baby. The front was facing me, but the umbilical cord was hanging between the baby's legs, so I said, "What is it? What is it?" Jordan said he had the same view and couldn't tell either. So, for a few seconds no one in the room knew if it was a boy or a girl.

The doctor swung the baby around, and the cord moved. Jordan said, "It's a girl!" I screamed. We didn't know the gender with F's birth either, but his was obvious right away. I don't think anyone even needed to say. This felt so much more climactic. My mom was behind the nurses in the corner crying, and I kept shouting (I mean literally shouting--Jordan thinks this is hilarious), "WHAT! WHAT!"

She had swallowed a bit of fluid, so they took her and suctioned her mouth out, and then they put her on my chest and said that being skin to skin with me would regulate her breathing. She was a bit congested, but they suctioned her a few times more and she was sounding okay. She was a nice pink color, a huge difference from F, who came out almost completely black and blue.

I'm not going to detail the next little bit, because it was truly horrendously painful and I don't need to remember. For the first time, I didn't tear, perhaps due to delivering on my side (who knows?), but they said "it" can still get scraped when the baby comes out, and let's just say that I was not having a very nice time for quite a while. It felt like it was actually on fire, and I couldn't stop shaking. I've said this every time, but honestly in my opinion the epidural might be most useful for pain management immediately after the birth than anything else.

^^^ Me not having a good time hahaha.

There's no way to tell, of course, but I think that not having an epidural contributed significantly to how quick she came out. I wouldn't have been able to be in those positions, or feel to push with that intensity, if I was medicated. That's not to say I have an opinion about people getting or not getting an epidural. It's completely a personal preference/decision, and I have no feelings about it one way or the other, expect for the reasons I have for myself. I'm so thankful that I didn't need to be induced and that I've had such positive birth experiences. I know not everyone does, and I don't take it for granted.

It's a miraculous, amazing experience. One I think about with pride and gratitude for healthy pregnancies, babies, and overall such a great hospital birthing experience with each of my labors (minus our debacle about actually getting inside the hospital this time!).

But I can honestly say, finally once and for all, that I'm so very glad I never have to do it again.

Week One

9.13.2022

On Monday morning, September 5, our last Baby Bum arrived. Labor Day. She knows how much I appreciate word jokes. We didn't find out the gender in advance, so it was a surprise and delight to find out that it was a girl! R is completely over the moon excited about having a baby sister.

I truly did not have a gender preference most of the pregnancy, but I did think it was going to be a boy up until the last month or so, when I started feeling like it was a girl. Early on in the pregnancy I had a very clear dream that felt so lifelike, where I had the baby and it was a girl. The same thing happened to me during F's pregnancy, where I dreamed it was a boy! Jordan thought it was going to be a boy.

This probably isn't the most glamorous first post to share about our new baby, but she is a week old yesterday, and I wanted to write a bit about this first postpartum week. I do not share this for medical advice or for sympathy. I wanted to write it down so I can look back on this later and be encouraged by how far I've come; but also too for anyone who might have a hard time, like I do, comparing themselves to others.

I am pretty hard on myself in general, and after every pregnancy I see people going out and doing things and wonder how they can, when I'm barely walking to the mailbox and back. Every pregnancy, delivery, baby, and body is different, so it's silly to compare, but I still do it.

As far as the pregnancy goes, although this was my fourth baby and I'm obviously older than I was during any other, this was my easiest and most enjoyable pregnancy. I've struggled with a lot of anxiety in the past, mostly about the baby being okay, and this time I'm so thankful Jesus answered my prayer and gave me a lot of peace and calmness about this baby. Of course, I still had moments of worry, but for the most part I did not feel overwhelmed with anxiety like I have in the past. Emotionally, I was very up and down with my moods, and I will say I randomly cried a lot, but my anxiety was so much lower.

Physically, I felt the best I ever have being pregnant. I came into this pregnancy in the best shape possibly of my life. I trained for the Chicago Marathon all summer and ran more often than I ever have. The race was in October, and I got pregnant just before Christmas. I kept running 3-4 times a week and completed the OKC half marathon at 21.5 weeks pregnant in April. My last run was when I was 30 weeks--that's the longest I've ever run while pregnant. After that, I kept up walking 2-3 miles, and my mom and I walked for a good 45 minutes the night before I had this baby.

I absolutely think without a doubt that going into this pregnancy in shape helped me feel so good physically while pregnant. I stayed very active, not only running but doing workouts at home, and I didn't really have any back or hip pain at all. I did throw my back out in February and couldn't move around much for about 2 weeks, but that's a recurring injury that pops up every year and a half or so, and not related specifically to pregnancy. Of course, I was uncomfortable. I had leg cramps, nausea, fatigue, headaches... but in general I can't complain very much at all about how I felt physically this last time.

I'll come back to share her birth story, but as far as the birth experience, the biggest difference with this delivery is that I didn't tear! I tore every time prior (twice in the same spot), and I was shocked I didn't tear this time. I have no idea if that was related to being active in pregnancy, my position when I pushed her out, or other factors, but I was super excited to hear that.

Considering how good overall I felt during pregnancy, this past week has been really hard. On Sunday (so 6 days postpartum), I drove R to church for the kids' music program because I thought it would be nice to get out of the house. Until that point I hadn't gone anywhere except to take G to her checkup at the pediatrician on Friday. I drove R to church, walked her inside, up 2 flights of stairs, down the hallway, then back down the stairs and out to my car, where I sat in the parking lot and called my mom and sobbed because I realized I didn't want to be out after all. 

When it was time to pick R up, I sat inside the door and waited for someone to come by so I could ask them to go get her for me so I didn't have to do the stairs again. I know I just had a baby, but it had been almost a week, and I got achy and tired walking up some stairs?! I felt super lame. Of course, everyone was nice to me as I sat there in the chair crying about how I just really wanted to go home.

It's hard for me not to be active. It's hard for me to rest. I just don't do it very well, and I know this about myself. I've been trying to really not do anything at all and just rest as much as possible, and I'm incredibly thankful and realize what a blessing it is to have a supportive husband, helpful friends, amazing mom, and a mother-in-law who lives close.

Postpartum is a weird time. I'm snuggling a tiny baby that I can't believe was just inside of me. And I'm so thankful and happy, and yet I hurt all over. I'm wearing Depends, which a friend recommended and I'm telling you this: Depends is missing out on the postpartum market because wow. I wish I had worn these with other babies! So much better than the hospital mesh underwear and giant pads. The kids, by the way, think it's hilarious that I'm wearing a pull-up. They also have asked me several times why my belly is still big and whether or not I'm having another baby. THANK YOU SO MUCH, tiny humans. I feel affirmed.

So I've got that going on, plus all the nursing things happening. Thankfully G is latching and eating really well, and I know I just have to get past the first couple weeks and it won't hurt as much, but that's not the most fun right now either. Also YES, it's true that cramping is worse with each kid, at least it has been true for me. Every time she eats it's like insane period cramps, which are thankfully getting better every day, but those first few days were truly terrible.

My biggest issue this time has been my stomach. It just feels out of place--all my organs moved around and I guess are trying to move back, and it's been giving me a giant stomachache. I'm taking a stool softener and Ibuprofen several times a day. I'm also sleeping in one- to two-hour increments. It's just such a wonderful time!

Actually, though, it IS a wonderful time. It's an honor and a blessing to have done this four times. It's a sweet time, and it's also really hard. I've only left my house twice in a week, and both times I wish I hadn't. I've cried once a day every day. I'm achy and sore and tired. I'm trying to give myself grace, take it one day at a time, and remember that every day I'm improving. Rest is the best thing for me, and it's okay if I'm not going out yet. I have no one to compare to, nothing to prove, and the best little baby to snuggle. Just so overwhelmingly thankful.

The Most Fun I've Ever Had

8.10.2022

Every time I sit down to write, I'm overcome with the privilege, the gratitude, the wonder, and I close the computer because I don't know how to start.

I'm not going to tell you that I love being pregnant. I'm not going to say that it was the most fun I've ever had, that I wasn't tired, wasn't slow, wasn't tossing and turning at night getting up to pee five times and yelling at Jordan to help me flex the massive cramp in my calf.

I gain the recommended amount of weight every time (25-30 pounds, give or take), and since I grow basketballs, that weight sits mostly in my middle, pushing on my hips and my bladder and making it really difficult to get up off the floor once I somehow get down.

This time I felt pretty great, up until about a month to go, when my body said, okay thank you very much for your time, but we are done here, and stopped being so nice to me. I've been having ridiculously crazy dreams, when I'm able to sleep at all; I'm tired, my hips and back hurt, and I pretty much waddle everywhere now. That's not even mentioning the emotional treat I am to be around. I've embarrassed myself more than once this pregnancy ugly crying in a situation where I definitely did not want to be crying at all.

But all that to say, I don't know.... honestly, it's kind of the most fun I've ever had. 

My body seems to do "pregnant" pretty well, all things considered. I'm almost done growing my fourth baby, and I've never ever taken it for granted even a little bit that I've had healthy, mostly boring pregnancies. I continued running with this baby up to 30 weeks pregnant, which is the latest I've ever kept running, and something I'm really proud of. I've never gotten heartburn, major swelling, or months and months of nausea.

It's an honor to be here, one last time. We are definitely done after this (pending an unplanned event, of course), and I really am going to miss it. There's an excitement in the anticipation. People ask you how you're feeling, they give you extra donut holes, offer to help carry things. I've always felt like there was just a slightly higher level of consideration and grace that really we should all show to everyone all the time, honestly.

I plug not finding out the gender of your baby at every chance I get. This is the second time we've done it, and it really is so much fun. It's fun to know in advance as well, but not knowing just adds an extra layer of excitement as we get closer to my due date.

Truly, I feel so grateful for my pregnancies and know it's not something everyone is able to experience. I'm 37 weeks today as I write this, and you name a feeling, I'm feeling it. As we get closer to the end of August, I'm feeling more and more anxious about delivery, about bringing a new baby home, managing working full time, transitions with the older siblings, and everything in between. I've reached the end. Mentally, I'm out. Physically, I'm over it.

My hips are hurting, I'm tired but I can't sleep, I still have a number of things to cross off my seemingly endless to-do list.

But I'm so incredibly thankful to be here, this one last time.
It's kinda sorta, pretty much definitely the most fun I've ever had.

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