Saturday, January 14, 2017

Birth Story: Henry Joseph


Well, this is going to be a long one...you've been warned.

And, a little of the backstory must be told first. I am a lover of birth stories.  I know a lot of people are, and I've read a lot of the stories from my blogging friends, many of whom have unmedicated births.  I have had five inductions, all with an epidural and swore I had no interest in doing it any other way.  But, I bought a couple of books on natural birth, just for fun, and I didn't tell anyone (minus a few friends whose experiences I asked about) but my husband and a couple family members (mainly half-heartedly telling them I just was curious).  I didn't tell anyone because I did not know if I could do it, or if I really wanted to, even though millions have done it before me.

I also love to be fully prepared for something.  So, the planning that comes with an induction is right up my alley.  Knowing I didn't want to have a baby on the way to the hospital, I didn't want to let go of the induction.  So, I then sought out friends who had unmedicated births with inductions, and I found a few.  Finally, I just had this thought in the back of my mind that if I could get though it, I could offer it up as a sacrifice for those needing prayers.

So...on to Thursday morning.  I had an induction scheduled for January 17th.  On January 9th, at my last appointment, I was dilated to 2cm and was 50% effaced.  I've never gone earlier than my scheduled 39-week induction, so I wasn't too concerned about doing so this time.  Well, I started to have some pain in the evenings and couldn't sleep very well Monday and Tuesday night.  Wednesday night about 11ish, I started having contractions.  They were not unbearable, but they definitely were not Braxton-Hicks either.  I finally just got up, did laundry, wrote a couple blog posts, and did whatever I could to busy myself because I wasn't getting any rest laying down anyway.  Jeremy woke up around 5 am and I told him but didn't know if we needed to make a two hour drive to the hospital. Then, I started bleeding.  And, it scared me.  My contractions were also about six minutes apart.  So, we called my mom to come be with the kids, and we headed in (Thursday morning at this point).

On the way to the hospital the contractions got much father apart but increased in intensity.  When we arrived at the hospital, there wasn't much to them.  BUT, I kept thinking to myself, "I came in for a reason - I'm really not just being a wimp."  I was at 2cm and 70% effaced.  But, there were also some other factors to consider.  An ice storm was forecasted for the weekend.  It was a two hour drive from home.  I was almost at the 39-week mark, and well, this was my sixth baby.  Thur nurse said the contractions weren't that intense (at the time, they weren't, but the ones that made me decide to come in were) and to come back if I had an hour of contractions  5-7 minutes apart.  Then, in a miscommunication between my doctor and the nurse, I was sent home.  Note: I could have/should have stayed in Amarillo with my inlaws just to be safe, but I was a bit embarrassed and just wanted to be at my own home.

I didn't even make it out of the hospital without tears streaming down my face.  I was humiliated and felt defeated.  Later that day I told my mom and sister I was afraid one of two things would happen: 1) I would either go back to the hospital and be sent home again or 2) I'd end up having the baby at home because I would be too "afraid" of having a repeat of the morning...waiting too long to make the call to go.

Well, the contractions never went away.  Mid-day they were 15-20 minutes apart.  And, I tried to take an afternoon nap with the kids, seeing if they'd taper off.  A friend suggested a hot shower to see what would happen, too.  Nothing made them go away.  They were painful but not unbearable, but the strange thing to me was that the pain was in my back.  Sure, there was an area of my stomach that felt each contraction, but the pain was never fully in the front, so I kept doubting if the contractions were really doing anything.  I think I googled prodromal labor fifteen times.  Again though, my bleeding only increased, and it is what kept me thinking that something was going on.

After diner Thursday night, I let Jeremy get the kids to bed, and I opted for a bath, hoping to relax a bit.  Well, at around 9:30, I was hurting more than I had, and I told Jeremy that I was going to try to get into the bath again and go for an hour, timing contractions and seeing what happened.  By the end of the bath, the bath was no longer making me feel better.  Jeremy had also gone to bed.

So 10:30ish, they were coming every eight minutes or so, lasting about a minute and 15 seconds. Pretty quickly I was no longer comfortable at all.  My back was constantly aching.  I tried every position I could think of...sitting, laying down, in the bath, on all fours, standing, leaning against a wall, you name it.  I didn't want to wake Jeremy if I didn't need to.  After an hour so so more, and at a point where when I was having contractions I couldn't even moved (like it was as if I was paralyzed - like my mind wasn't working with my body), I started sobbing.  I had no idea what to do, and the contractions were 5ish minutes apart, and well...I texted my mom at 12:15 am (but I knew she had to be sleeping). I just had to tell someone that I was in a lot of pain but felt so unsure of things.

Then, I woke Jeremy up around 12:30.  Still sobbing, I told him I didn't know what to do.  Then he proceeded to sweetly ask me questions and I started another contraction and just yelled that I couldn't talk.  Thankfully he called my mom.

By the time she arrived, we loaded the car, and they basically had to put me in the car.  I was having trouble walking.  It felt like my lower back was breaking.  We had a two hour drive ahead.  I told myself all I needed was some pain relief for my back and I'd be just fine, so I really just wanted to stop at a hospital along the way.  Jeremy brought me to my senses...saying it would take so long to fill out the paperwork before any meds were given, we might as well keep driving.  All I could do was calculate the minutes.  It was 2 hours.  I was having contractions every 4-5 minutes, and they were lasting 1.5 minutes each.  In my mind, I just needed to make it through about 25-30 contractions.  At that point, it became the longest trip ever.  I'm guessing we started our drive a little before 1 am.

Back to the natural childbirth books.  I told myself if there were two things I was not doing, it was moaning and screaming.

Well, at this point, I could barely breathe through them, and nothing was helping.  I was trying so hard to relax every muscle in my body (what my friends told me to focus on), but I have a hard time doing that on a normal day.  I also tried to make my exhales last as long as they could.  I tried to pray. I tried to offer each contraction for different friends' intentions.  Nothing took my mind away like I had hoped.  I just kept thinking, "If I can make it to 50 seconds, I can get over the peak of this."  I had to start focusing on only getting through one, and I was anything but relaxed.  Plus, I started making a little noise (never say never).

Jeremy was white-knuckled and driving as fast as was safe, saying not a word.  Come to find out, at one point he looked over, and he thought I had passed out.  He was so scared, but was also so scared to touch me to see if I truly was.  Bless his heart.

About an hour into the drive, the contractions upped to about 1 minute 45 seconds each, every three minutes.  So, essentially I had a minute of rest between each one, and my back was in constant pain. Forty-five minutes from the hospital, I felt more pressure.  With each tensing up, I could feel something just wasn't quite right, but I made that thought go away.  I couldn't have the baby on the road.

I prayed and prayed for a break...for just a ten minute stretch before I got to the hospital. Instead, about ten minutes out, I had an eight minute contraction (all I could think was that my friend had recently reminded me that during transition, she had three contractions right on top of the other, and then the baby was out).  Well, I was still second guessing that all of this was working to get the baby down, because unlike what I had read in the books, I didn't feel like the contractions were moving my boy down.  I just felt like they were breaking my back.

We got to the hospital!  I couldn't get out.  The main doors were locked.  We headed to the ER. Jeremy got me a wheel chair.  On our way to the third floor, he accidentally almost shot me out of the chair three times.  Ha!  Not funny at the time.  We arrived at the nurses station, and one suggested I head to triage.  The other took one look and said, "No, she needs a room."

Jeremy left to go move our car from the ambulance entrance.  They handed me a gown.  I just started stripping in the middle of the room.  Wide-eyed, they suggested me going into the bathroom to change and empty my bladder.  All I could think about was getting relief for my back.

I got into the bathroom, sat down and felt I might need to go to the bathroom.  I also knew that feeling might mean something else.  I knew that I was blessed in never having more than 2-3 pushes before the baby was out.  So, in a split second, I pushed just to see, and out came the baby's head.  I yelled for help.  Four nurses ran in and told me to stand up.  I couldn't.  They helped me up, and out he came within seconds.  I was told not to deliver the placenta yet, though.  So, there I was, back sitting on a toilet, surrounded by four nurses holding my still-attached baby, a floor of blood soaked clothes, and relief.  So much relief.

So, it happened.  An unmedicated birth.  Just like millions before me.  It wasn't how I pictured it happening, but rarely is it.  And, we have this beautiful baby boy in our arms now, with many sets of hands waiting to love on him, too.  I was able to offer up a lot for those whose prayers need answering, and I was able to experience birth in a different way this time around.  If there is another time, some day, I don't know how it will happen.  But, this one happened just as it should...even if a bit unnerving on more than one level.

Welcome, sweet Henry.  We adore you.
Henry Joseph
3:45 am*
8 lb. 12 oz.
19.5 in.


*approximately two hours from when we left home because of a time change

Friday, January 13, 2017

Online Friends

A few weeks ago, I received these precious booties for our little boy.  When I opened the letter that accompanied them, tears filled my eyes.  They were from a friend.  Not one whom I'd ever had a long conversation with.  Not one whom I had hugged or even met...instead, an online friend.  


The note was simple but heartfelt.  Months earlier, when I was trying to promote my Etsy shop, a dear friend (another online friend who I have actually met) hosted a giveaway of one of my prints.  In order to gain an entry into the contest, one needed to comment with what print was their favorite and why.

The friend who sent me the booties commented that a photo I had taken of a nursing cow and her brand new baby calf had really resonated with her due to the fact that she had recently discovered she was pregnant, but at the time she was writing, she had just lost her precious baby.  I was in the same position, but I hadn't lost mine.

So, then came this package...days before my due date.  And, in the note she said she had been praying for me throughout the pregnancy and wanted my baby to have these little booties, perhaps a set she had hoped for her own.  Right now they are in my hospital bag, and they are something I'll cherish forever, knowing that even in her immense pain, she thought to share a token of love for my time of joy.

Which made me think...this online community has become such a treasure to me.  When I first started blogging, I found it really odd to be sharing my heart with a world of people I had never met, and still so many I never will.  Sometimes if I think about it too much, it makes me want to stop.  But, instead of that today, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for being a group of friends and support that I never really knew I needed.  We don't always live in places where we can get together with friends in the same phase of life with the same ups and downs.  We are not always surrounded by people with shared views and values.  And, sometimes that can get lonely.  But, I've found that here.  And, even though it isn't a date over coffee or a glass of wine, sharing the joys and struggles of our daily lives, a quick comment, email or even chat can serve almost the same purpose.

I've met women who have encouraged me in different walks of motherhood when I've felt alone.  I've read others stories and have been inspired by the way they have chosen to face and carry their crosses.  I've been reassured time and time again that I'm never alone in my frustrations, day-to-day glitches or concerns about parenting.  I've also been so happily assured that others are sharing in my joys as well.  And the best part...some of these online women have become friends I now know personally, whose hugs I've received and whose laughter I've witnessed.

And, while this isn't the way friendships were formed decades ago, I am thankful for this community today.  A professor of mine in graduate school was so very adamant about never using the term "real life" - as if any part of our lives wasn't "real" - so I don't use that term today.  Instead, I'll say that some might not consider these online relationships to be true relationships, lacking a face-to-face connection.  However, after having been a part of so very many blessings stemming from my little piece of the internet, I'd have to sorely disagree.

Sweet internet friend, these little booties mean just as much to me as if you'd handed them to me at the close of a lunch date.  Thank you.  Thank you for your love, your prayers and your friendship.  I will forever cherish it.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Baking Day

Sophie received the sweetest little baking set for Christmas to match her tea set.  So, we decided to christen it with some chocolate chip cookies.  



Everyone wanted a job, so we all took turns passing the mixing bowl around.
Yes, that's a whole lotta butter!




Whatever chocolate chips that hadn't already been eaten were thrown in.




One final stir, and the cookie dough was ready for a taste test.


Someone was extra proud of her little pan.



And, she waited right by the oven.

You can probably guess what happened next.  She touched the pan.



But, she came back around quickly, and we all decided they were the best cookies we had ever made!