Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rebekah's Birth Story

Apparently my last post was only half true. I told you that I make water bags of steel that don't break...

....and then my water broke. That's just how labor goes, right?!

I also told you that I am a 42-weeker. That part IS true because even though I was 3 days past my due date and my water broke, I was not in labor yet.

Bekah was kicking and wiggling a lot Wednesday night. As Brandon and I were getting ready for bed, I felt a small spurt of fluid, followed a few minutes later by another. It was such a small amount that I wasn't sure what to make of it. I gave Brandon a heads up that my water MIGHT have broken and then as we crawled into bed the floodgates let loose.

Instantly all of the calm and confidence I had about this labor vanished. "My water broke. My water BROKE! This could change the entire labor! Do I need to rush to the hospital? Is this going to be fast?" I pondered as I waited for some crushing contraction to come upon me.

I called my midwife and she recommended that we come on in to the hospital. She explained to me that once your water breaks, you and the baby are at more risk for infection. I test GBS positive during all my pregnancies, which puts baby at an even greater risk for infection. She suggested that I come into the hospital to make sure baby was head down and to start IV antibiotics while we wait for labor to begin.

We called Brandon's parents to watch the kids, texted friends, and packed bags. I started having a couple contractions right before Brandon's parents arrived. I had a couple painful ones on the way to the hospital. "Alright, I think we're in business!" I told Brandon as we checked into the hospital. We talked to the midwife about our labor plan.

I preferred to have a natural labor, but I wanted to go with the flow. I had no interventions with my labor with Joseph and it was amazing. I labored at home for 12 hours, checked into the hospital, and quickly pushed Joe out two hours later.You can read the whole story here if you want. My labors with Kai and Caleb were less than ideal. I had to be induced. I had an epidural. I pushed for 2 hours because I couldn't feel what I was doing. They had to use the vacuum to pull Kai out and I had 3rd degree tears that took months to heal. At this point, my natural labor was a much better experience than my labors with interventions. My water didn't break until I was pushing with my natural labor though. I didn't know what to expect with this twist.

Brandon and I tried to rest before the action started. I fell asleep for an hour or two, only waking up at the peak of a few contractions here and there. When I got up in the morning the contractions were gone. Nada. Zip. Gone.

We spent all morning walking around trying to kick start things.I had the most contractions during the car ride to the hospital so we decided to try taking a drive too. Brandon had been wanting to test drive a car at a dealership nearby so we actually popped over there and took it for a spin while we had the free time. Are we crazy? Yes. Did our nurse have any idea we left the hospital grounds? Nope. ;)

The walking and the car ride didn't get us anywhere so by the afternoon we had some decisions to make. What I LOVE about the group of midwives I see is that they inform us about the choices in front of us and then let us decide. They're never pushy or make labor sound black and white. My midwife recommended that we have labor going by midnight to reduce the chance of infection. She let us know that, of course, it was our choice and if we really wanted to wait and let labor happen naturally then we could. It could be a few days though. As much as I wanted a natural labor experience again, the baby's health is top priority. Also, I didn't want to get worn out waiting and then not have any energy for the labor. We decided to take the afternoon to nap and then start pitocin after dinner.

By 7:00 I started having contractions on my own, but only 10 minutes apart. Pitocin was started by 9:00 and the smallest amount put us in action. Within an hour I was having contractions 1.5 minutes apart and they had to turn the pitocin down to the lowest dose to slow the contractions down to 3 minute spacing.

It was intense. Judging just by the pain, I thought I might be pushing before midnight. My labor with Joe was natural and by the time I had contractions that painful and close together during his labor, I was 2 hours away from delivering. I requested that the midwife check me for dilation. I hadn't been checked yet because we were trying to avoid introducing any bacteria to the area after my water broke. Bad plan. The midwife announced that I was 4 cm dilated.

"Shut up! There is no way. Not just 4! Ugh. I hate the number 4!"

I was 4 cm dilated with Kai for a month before I even went into labor with him. I was sure I had to AT LEAST be a 6 with that kind of pain going on.

I felt defeated, but tried to get it back together. Just take it one hour at a time. The numbers don't mean that much. I might dilate really fast from here.

My labor coaches, Brandon and my mom, were both by my side and doing a great job keeping the atmosphere positive for me.

We rocked the birthing ball for a while.  I don't know how people had babies before these squishy things of bouncy bliss were invented.

We moved to the bed as the pain worsened and I needed to rest more between contractions. I focused on deep breaths and used the same imagery that I used during Joseph's birth. I heard it from Ann Voskamp's blog, "See yourself as a bag of sand. And there's a hole rent in your toe. Let all the pain run through the broken and rent places."

I made it to midnight and started to run out of patience. I got into the bathtub (nothing fancy, just a regular low down tub) to try something new. I made it another hour in there. The contractions remained 3 minutes apart, but the pain was getting worse and I could no longer relax between the contractions. My legs would not stop shaking and they were driving me crazy. At 1:00 I requested that the midwife check me again to see where we were at. 6 cm now. We made some progress. I guessed that meant I had 2 or 3 more hours to go before pushing. I ran the numbers in my head--that would be about 40-60 more contractions to get through before pushing.  Was it worth it to keep going?

Nope. It just wasn't worth it to me anymore. I wanted the natural labor that I had with Joseph, but this labor was already a different beast. With pitocin and without the cushion of having my water intact, the experience had already turned from ideal to torture. If this is what 6 cm felt like, I didn't want to know what transition and pushing felt like this time. When it came down to the wire, I wanted a good experience more than I wanted a natural experience.

The epidural was in by 2:30 and it took beautifully. I had one small spot where the epidural did not take with Kai and Caleb's labors, but this time the epidural knocked all the feeling out of my lower half. It was amazing. In fact, I fell asleep right away and woke up an hour later ready to push.

I didn't get anywhere with the first couple pushes, but everything was peaceful and I didn't mind. The contractions spaced back out to 5 minutes apart now for whatever reason. There was a long rest in between each push. Looking at the contractions spacing out, the midwife smiled and said, "Your uterus was just not ready to let go of this baby yet!" Yep. 42-weeker. Bekah was ready to get out though and kicked her way into the world. It's good. She'll need that kind of attitude with 3 older brothers at home. ;)

The midwife brought in a mirror so that I could see what I was doing with the pushing. I had never watched myself push before and it was incredible. "Look! She's right there! Look at that hair!" the midwife said with the next contraction. Was that MY baby with long, dark hair?! No way! With the mirror, I could figure out just how to push. It felt more like I was watching a movie than living real life as I saw that little head full of hair slowly come into the world. She didn't cry, but I did! 

She was calm and curious as they cleaned her off. When they brought her back to me, I tried to nurse her and she latched on perfectly with the first try and guzzled furiously. Now that I think about it, I think the girl knew just what she was doing. She decided one night that she was hungry and kicked her way right out to the milk station.

I looked up at the chart on the wall to see the numbers the nurses were recording. 4:40 am. My 4th child was born on 4/10 and 4:40 am. Maybe I do love the number 4 after all.

 Now I understand why some women who have natural labors rave about it and why others say "I don't think I ever want to put myself through that kind of pain again". I treasured the natural experience with Joseph, but with Rebekah's  labor I was thanking God for that epidural. Joseph's birth was beautifully intense and powerful. Calm, peaceful, and surreal--that is how I will always remember Bekah's entrance to the world.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Final Stretch

Today is three days past my due date, but--hey, who's counting?

I hated it when I was late with Kai, but at least by baby number four I knew to expect it. I create water bags made of steel that don't break until I'm pushing and my body is in no hurry to evacuate tiny residents. I'm a 42-weeker and I am content with that. I can't wait to meet my daughter, but in the meantime I'm enjoying the extra time to knock things off the to-do list, bond with Kai over his spring break, and let this baby soak up his last few days of being THE baby:

It's also nice to have a chance to pop out another blog post. I wanted a chance to write about the second half of this pregnancy. When I last wrote I was picking life back up from months of morning sickness and Brandon and I were burnt out--charred and crispy burnt right out. I remember sitting on the couch with him in November and discussing how we NEEDED a vacation, but we had no idea how to make one happen with no money set aside for it and no plan. We prayed about it and then kept on trucking. Since then, we have had not one, but two vacations! Our friends and family really gathered around us, spoiled us, and helped us along. Thanks to that I feel like we've spent the second half of this pregnancy just drinking in life and joy. Here are a couple of the highlights. :)

The Big Vacation

As a Christmas gift, Brandon's parents and my parents collaborated to watch the boys for us while we took a week long vacation. Best Christmas gift ever, right!? We drove down to Jupiter, FL to stay with Brandon's grandparents. They have a sweet home within walking distance of the beach. We treasured the time with them and with each other. A free, week-long, kid-free vacation to the beach in December---yeah, it was as awesome as it sounds. It was healing to our souls, just the fresh start we needed.

Baby Showers

I had such a grand time at my baby showers that I hardly took a minute to get pictures. In fact, I don't think I took a single photo at my first shower! Oops! Well, I'm sure I'll remember it forever even without the photos. The ladies at Brandon's office invited me to come over one day during their lunch break for a special shower. They are Brandon's coworkers, but I've known most of them for years and love and respect them to pieces. If I had a photo you would see a warm dining room with a long walnut table. Around the table are women of all ages exchanging birth stories, God stories, and laughs while feasting on Thai food and made-from-scratch cake-- all underneath a sweet, pink, baby girl banner. I can't wait to make many more memories around that table with Rebekah and her Renew Family.

My friends Susan and Jennifer hosted a friends and family shower. Another photography fail---I didn't get a single picture with the two of them! I did grab a couple with my family though and some quick photos of the decor. My pictures don't do it justice! Susan went all out with the decorations and she created them all to double as decor for Bekah's nursery. I couldn't hold back the tears when they all gathered around to pray over me and Rebekah. It's humbling to be surrounded by people that have loved me so well through all sorts of challenges--- childbirth, emergency surgeries, sickness, and the highs and lows of marriage and motherhood. Good friends and family are a treasure and I am the richest girl in the world. 

The Drama

My pregnancies wouldn't be complete without a little medical drama thrown in there! We had our first broken bone in February and in March we found out that Caleb needs another surgery! Um, yeah, I freaked out the first time I heard the word surgery again. Thankfully, it's just a hernia surgery and should be easy-peasy compared to Caleb's previous two surgeries. We're talking outpatient surgery--where you get to go home the same day you have surgery! It's scheduled for the end of May. Caleb is excited because he will get "magic stitches" that disappear on their own after a week or two. 

Kai was also quite excited about his cast. The itching the first couple days was intense, but it wasn't so bad once we made it past that. It's off now just in time to hold his baby sister. 

The Babymoon

As if one vacation wasn't enough.....

I told you I've been spoiled! Brandon had to go to Charleston for a weekend in mid-March for a work trip. Once again, our parents took the kids on for us so that I could go with him. I loved getting a glimpse into Brandon's life at work. Brandon's company has recently been working on a partnership with Water Missions International--a great non-profit that seeks to make clean drinking water accessible to developing countries and disaster areas. Water Missions is based in Charleston and we spent the weekend with them and some of their strategic partners. I was touched by their hearts and impressed by the quality of work they are doing. Check them out if you are looking for a great mission to support.

The Little Things

I've loved the big, fun happenings, but I just treasure the every day bits of joy that make up my life too. We've been doing a little more of what we love and a little less of what we "should" do these past few months. Here are a few tidbits and photos that I want to remember.

-Making homemade bread and warm soup on rainy days. Tossing a frozen pizza in the oven on busy days and choosing to be thankful instead of guilty. Throwing PB&J in a bag and spending the day at the park on the rare warm, sunny days we've had.

-Warm baths and naps. I shoot for a nap almost everyday while Joe is napping. It's so worth it right now. 

-Soaking up those moments of daddy time before bed. Brandon is an amazing father. 

-Taking good care of our animals and our imaginations. 

-Celebrating simply. We have 5 family birthdays in March! March Madness! We just let birthdays be simple this year and it was great. Joe's second birthday was perfect--sunshine, bubbles, ice cream, and people he loves.

Here's to one more birthday coming up soon!