Friday, March 2, 2018

Juliette Regina

My oldest two daughters were born between 37 and 38 weeks. So when week 38 showed up and baby girl had moved to a posterior position (her spine to mine), I was feeling out of sorts. My mom had always said I was "sunny side up" and that's probably the reason my mom had a c-section after an extremely long labor. That night, Temperance (my 2-year old) woke up at 2 am and I spent about an hour crying and praying while I tried to get her to sleep again. I was tired, in pain, and now worried I wouldn’t get my very desired VBAC (Temperance was breech and required a c-section). I kept telling God that I just didn’t want to sacrifice that much. It felt selfish, but it’s where I was. 
The next day my girls were arguing in the car so I turned on a CD. The song was something about “you can have it ALL Lord. Every part of me.” I felt like that was the nudge toward peace about whatever outcome I needed. By the end of the day, I didn’t care how she came out, only that she did soon. She was causing so much sharp pain that I was immobilized on my hands and knees while my children just watched. I made it to a sitting position, but my goodness, I hurt! 
February 22 I went to bed so frustrated because I wasn't feeling anything contraction-wise, not even my usual Braxton Hicks. Well, about 1.5 hours later at 12:15 am, I woke up feeling like maybe I had a contraction. Didn’t believe it and thought maybe I dreamed it. Then another came about 10 minutes later. I prayed this was the real deal until another came 7 minutes later and really hurt. Got cold feet about labor! I got up to use the bathroom and had two more. Laid back down and had a few more. Shook Ben, my husband, awake and told him I was in labor. He said “oh good” and fell back to sleep! He has no memory of that!
Another two contractions came, and I’m starting to panic. They were intense and close. I shake him again and was like, “You need to finish packing the bag now!” That got him going. He called my mom to come over and that was about 12:50. I had a few more contractions, and at the end of one I told my mom I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the hospital. They both started freaking out. I was too because contractions were about every 3 minutes and others were right on top of each other. Ben flew to the hospital. We got there about 1:20. I was a 5 cm and 90% effaced. “You’ll probably stay,” they said. 
Ben said, "Smile fast!" while I was between a contraction haha!
I was already so tired at this point, so I decided to try the epidural, especially since she was still posterior, and I thought I had a long morning ahead of me. I’ve had a drug-free vaginal birth and a c-section. Why not try a third option? But it takes a LONG freaking time for them to get that epidural to you! I was pretty much screaming by 3 am when he came to administer it. The contractions were so intense. But I still assumed it could take a while since she was sunny side up. Finally, he gets it in at 3:15 ish. Contractions still hurt! I was hoping for that instant relief (which he tells me after doesn’t happen) except now I was dealing with contractions on my back and in my back. 
The on-call doctor came in at 3:25 and says they don’t like baby’s heart rate. They flip me twice and then she says, “we need to get the baby out now!” I push once, and the doctor yells at me to look at her. “Hear that sound?” she asks me. Honestly, I really had no idea what was good or bad at the moment. I was so tired I could barely open my eyes. But she continued saying, “That heart rate is bad. She needs to come out now or we have to try something else.” I knew that meant c-section. So I pushed as best as I could feeling off from the epidural still trying to take effect. I could feel the pressure, but I also couldn’t really believe it was happening. I was SO out of it. Then I heard her ask for a vacuum. I started panicking. But another push later and Ben said he could see her head. Two more pushes and she was out. 
I’ve never seen such a white baby. Not only was she really, really coated in that vernix, but she had no color. Every nurse that had been a flurry of motion went totally still. Doctor kept telling baby to breath. I couldn’t see her face, and I was holding my breath. Longest moments of my life as the doctor rubbed and talked to her. Finally, Ben says he saw her fingers move and she lets out a cry. Everyone starts moving again. The cord was very short apparently, but she came out the way I had hoped! I was so thankful for my VBAC even if I was overwhelmed by the 3-hour labor. It may have been fast, but it felt like more work than my 9-hour one with Cordelia.
Everyone kept saying how much happier I looked after having given birth. I feel like that would be an obvious outcome, but I did feel amazing. I wasn't pregnant and in pain anymore, the anxiety of how labor and delivery would go was behind me, and Juliette Regina (meaning young queen) was here in my arms! 7 lbs 5 oz after 3 hours and 15 mins of labor! It was the longest I'd been pregnant at 38 weeks 1 day, my shortest labor, and my heaviest baby. I guess a good plus to the epidural is that they have to let you stay in the same spot for at least 2 hours after it is administered, so I got about 1.5 hours of time with her before they did anything for vitals and such. Can’t believe she is here. Her two older sisters adore her, and Juliette is currently a pro at sleeping through their craziness! 
Under the warmer, which she loved. She was a bit cold for a while after birth.
Hi, baby!

1-day old <3
Very happy big sisters. 

Going home!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Temperance Rose

With this being our rainbow baby, I undeniably had major fears and anxieties during this pregnancy, but there were two that stood out because they were entirely unlikely and unrelated to prior issues: breech baby and cord issues. I’m not sure why I had anxieties over these situations, but I did.
Last bump picture.

I guess my first clue should have been her movement. All of her strongest movements were very low. So strong that it would often immobilize me with sudden pain. And no one else really felt her kick. At my 36-week appointment we found out that was because she was breech (head up position). About 3% of babies are breech by 37 weeks, and after several chiropractor visits and some unique yoga poses, she was still breech the Monday (37 weeks pregnant) we decided to do the ECV, which is a manipulation from the outside to get baby to turn head down. Going into the procedure, I had my doubts that she would turn. Apparently there are common underlying issues for most breech mamas, such as being a first time mom, being an avid runner, having been in an accident, having a unique shaped uterus, or having low amniotic fluid/big baby. I didn’t fit into any of those, so I felt like maybe there was a reason she was breech we couldn’t see. We tried the ECV anyway because I desperately wanted to avoid a c-section. My doctor was great. She tried, but she wasn’t going to force her. We got baby to lay transverse (sideways across my abdomen), but no farther. Within minutes of stopping, her head was right back under my right rib cage.

Little did I know I'd be back in 3 days to actually have the baby!

I may have had a total meltdown or two over the impending c-section. I was really struggling with the concept for a very long list of reasons, but mostly it boiled down to I didn’t want to. I went so far as to inquire with a doctor 5.5 hours from me who delivers breech babies vaginally. I was apparently the perfect candidate as I had delivered vaginally before, baby was a frank breech (feet up by her head though she would swing them down occasionally to really get my attention), and we were both healthy. I guess God had other plans because before I ever got any further in that process, labor started.

I had the “fake” Braxton Hicks contractions for months. Months. By the time of my ECV, the monitor was picking them up every 8 minutes. That was my normal. It was kind of funny because when I was leaving the hospital Monday after the ECV, the nurse said to come back if I was having contractions. Uummm, you’ll have to be more specific. So she added, or if they are painful. Again, more specific. If they continue longer than an hour. You could just admit me now. So we agreed on every 2-3 minutes, and I couldn’t complete full sentences through them.

Wednesday night I had more Braxton Hicks, but some were stronger than others around 11pm. We went to bed at midnight, and suddenly I felt like I should time them. Every 4 minutes and they were 1.5 minutes long. After a half hour I woke up Ben. He got up, and I tried to stop the contractions in a warm bath. We were supposed to be scheduling my c-section in the morning! We had decided February 15 was a good day. Apparently not because we were out the door and at the hospital by 2am. The contractions were strong and consistent, plus I really didn’t want to accidentally deliver a breech baby in the car! I think I’ll always wish I had spent just another moment longer saying goodnight to my oldest that night.

I had three contractions from the hospital doors to the exam room, and they were getting stronger. When they checked, I was 4cm and 90% effaced. Still breech. My doctor wouldn’t be able to perform the c-section as they were worried there wasn’t any time to wait for her, so the on-call doctor was notified.

I was pretty blown away by how fast it all went after that. I signed a whole bunch of papers, Ben got dressed in scrubs, and I was taken to the OR. There were lots of people and movement, but everyone was super kind. They kept putting warm blankets on me (OR room was cold!) and asking me questions about the baby and such. The spinal was so fast, and the surgery began before I even had time to fully comprehend that my baby was going to be born any minute.

Before, during, and after the surgery, I shook hard. Apparently that is normal, and it’s my normal in intense situations. I’m a shaker, but man did I shake hard. Ben being there helped tremendously. He couldn’t really talk me through things this time, but he kept me calm. There was no pain, but a lot of pulling and pushing sensations. I remember my doctor saying it typically only took 3 minutes from the start to get the baby out. I looked at the clock and saw it had been longer. I also noticed the time. 3:33 am on February 4. First, I guessed February 3rd or 4th as the day she would be born. I guessed my first daughter’s birthday too. (Sorry that trick only works with my own.) And because I had guessed it, I was once again positive it would not be the day. Also this was almost a year to date when we experienced our first miscarriage. What a beautiful rainbow He made from that storm! Third, my nephew had been born at 3:36 am three days earlier. If you know our back story, my sister and I like to do everything the same, but opposite. We were due about a week apart and joked we’d give birth the same day; apparently it would be the same time and by very different means. At 3:37 my husband said, “There she is!” Temperance Rose was lifted over the curtain for me to see. I loved hearing her cry. So much relief. Tears immediately.
Temperance Rose
She was swiftly taken to another spot. I was told I’d get to keep eyes on her, but they took her out of my line of sight for a minute, and Ben followed at my urging. I didn’t think much of it until a few hours later when Ben informed me that she had the cord wrapped around her neck twice. They didn’t want me to see that. Apparently a vaginal delivery for a breech baby is dangerous because the head can get stuck inside the mother. This is also a possibility during a c-section. And it happened, which is why it took longer than 3 minutes. The cord and her head were very wedged inside. A vaginal birth would probably not have had a good outcome. And I still find it pretty crazy that two things I had been unsettled about came true. It's amazing how we can know our bodies.

So thankful they let me hold her while finishing the surgery!

Otherwise, Temperance Rose was perfect. Even scored a 9 on Apgar. I did hear a nurse mention it was a very thin umbilical cord, so going to ask the doctor about that. They let me hold her skin to skin in the room as they finished the surgery, which also went by quickly. It took several hours for the spinal to wear off, but soon after, I was up and about. So thankful for one nurse in particular who seemed to really care about how I recovered. She was called in on my last day there and requested me, which I was so thankful for. She had a daughter the same age as myself and enjoyed playing grandma to Cordie.

I feel kind of silly now lamenting that Temperance might not have a birth story like Cordelia, but that is very obviously not the case. Though a c-section was not what I had pictured, I’m thankful for it. I do request prayers though as I recover and hopefully avoid my oldest (weird to say!) daughter’s coughing cold! Never a dull moment!

Kinda loved my extra day at the hospital to soak in this baby.

Big sister was SUPER excited.

Cordie has wanted to do two things since learning she'd be a big sister: sing to baby and rock baby. Check. Check.

Best daddy.

Complete heart!

She loves her small hands and feet.

Look who's a big kid now (but always my baby)!

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Nursery: Second Edition

This is our first redo of a reno. I guess that happens after living in a home for more than four years now! Below are pictures of our guest bedroom when we moved in. We had updated it slightly by painting the walls, trim, and doors, as well as replacing the light fixture. 



After (the first time)

We hadn't planned on repainting the room when we decided to get it ready for the new baby, but when we went to touch up the paint it was discolored. So we decided to update the paint, replace the trim to match the rest of the house, and we added new closet organization (makes a nesting mama happy!!). Cordie had to help :)

And the result ... I love it.  So ready to meet this little girl. I never really got the "nesting" bug when pregnant with my first, but this one has given it to me bad. I've reorganized several of the closets in the house and purged so many items. There are still so many things I want to do as well, but I think God and baby girl have been reminding me to take it easy as well with so many contractions these last few weeks. So repainting the exterior of the house will just have to wait haha.

The bottom two are drawers. We still want to replace the closet doors, but unfortunately the store no longer sells the ones we used in the other rooms :(

How sweet is that mobile? The butterflies are just the right colors. I think something could be added to the wall above the crib, but I haven't found "it" yet.

Ikea dresser that was in a million pieces, but it's great for the space. I just spray painted the knobs so they weren't such a harsh black color for a nursery.

Love this toy/book bin.

New rocker! My tailbone is so happy after suffering through nursing in the last one.

She needs to stay put for a bit longer, but we're counting the days until this room has the final missing piece! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fireplace Facelift

Let me tell you the things I didn't like about our fireplace.

The stone
The color
The trim
The huge mantel
The huge vertical pieces of the mantel
The gold strip
The jetting out stone on the hearth

What I did like includes:

It was a fireplace

You get the idea. So I am just over the moon about our facelift! All the credit goes to my dad on this one. He found the new stone, demoed the old, and then recovered the fireplace. We purchased the mantel and picked out the stone on top of the hearth. Easiest. Reno. Yet. Thanks Dad!

Now for pictures of the process. Tip for anyone doing something similar: Cover EVERYTHING! I had no idea it would be that dusty.

Before. See. Pretty bad.

Buh bye!

We liked it better just like this.

Progress. Also, highly recommend Mantels Direct if you want a mantel ASAP. It arrived in about 28 hours! 

Finished product :)

I like that the stone ties in with our backsplash tile in the kitchen too. It seems to tie the spaces together a bit. 

So happy with the results. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I shared recently about our saints in heaven. A lot of women will refer to their lost children as angels, but in the Catholic faith we refer to them as saints since we believe they live in perfection in heaven. They each HAVE a guardian angel, a relationship for eternity. And as a Catholic, it is common practice to ask for the intercession/prayers of the saints for those of us still living this gift of life on earth. So I want to share my miracle through the intercession of my two saints with you.

When I found I was pregnant for a fourth time, I was completely overcome with all the emotions that had built up over the last year. I was overjoyed to be carrying life, but obviously also very anxious about another loss. I had some wonderful friends already praying for me, but I also asked my saints to watch over their sibling.

I also got it into my head that I needed to see a rainbow. Women who experience miscarriage call the living children that follow rainbow babies, essentially equating the loss to a storm and the gift of new life to the miraculous rainbow that follows. Anyway, I thought I needed confirmation from God that we'd get to hold this baby, and I had specific instructions for Him on how I wanted this confirmation. (What can I say? I'm still learning.)

At the time, it was perfect rainbow weather. It was that season in Florida when it rains almost every afternoon and is immediately followed by sunshine. I started finding all sorts of reasons to go outside: get the mail, stretch my legs, let the dog chase the squirrel. But no rainbows. I soon grew frustrated with God because I kept seeing other people on social media posting pictures of these amazing rainbows they were seeing in person. Where was MY rainbow?

On one particularly anxiety-ridden day I was scrolling through Facebook and saw seven different people had posted pictures of rainbows. They were all over the country, and I was nearly in tears because I had pretty much convinced myself I HAD to see a rainbow. It was absurd, but I guess that's how I was coping. As I sat there and looked at these rainbows, many of them doubles, I suddenly realized something. Maybe these were MY rainbows! Maybe I had been staring at the answers to my prayer for days.

I think I saw a rainbow almost every day of my first trimester in one way or another, most of them doubles. I like to think there was one from each of my babies.

So thank you to everyone who posted a picture of a rainbow. I think you were a part of an answered prayer, and at the very least, you helped ease my anxiety.

And know that if you have experienced a loss, that I'm praying for you as well, that you might see your rainbow in whatever form it comes in.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month: Our Story

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Today is also one of my due dates.

I'm not big on sharing my bad days or the tough times on social media because I don't want my bad day to influence another's. However, sometimes bad things should be shared so we can learn from them and maybe help someone else. I also share because my story of loss is very intimately tied with NFP, and I hope maybe it will benefit others.

When I started charting several months postpartum my cycles weren't the greatest. There were some signs of potential issues that I hoped would work themselves out as my daughter nursed less and less. However, after 6 months the charts didn't change much, and I didn't get a positive pregnancy test like I kept praying for.

I am no medical professional, but I had my suspicions that something was wrong. The nursing hormone prolactin is nature's way of spacing pregnancies. It often remains high until the baby weans or nurses less. This keeps the hormone progesterone low so ovulation does not occur and thus a woman cannot get pregnant. However, sometimes the prolactin isn't high enough to keep ovulation from occurring but just high enough to make progesterone too low to sustain a pregnancy. This was my guess as to what was happening.

So I decided to try and get my levels tested. I asked my OB's office and my family doctor to have my progesterone and/or prolactin level tested. I was assured by both that many nursing women can get pregnant. I told them I understood that, but that I was seeing signs of low progesterone in my charting. My family doctor tested several other things, but never my progesterone after multiple visits. The OB nurse didn't even have me in.

When my daughter turned 18 months old I weaned her fully and became pregnant the same week. I was absolutely elated. I so desired a sibling for my daughter. It was practically all I could think about. However, my elation soon turned to worry when the spotting started. I didn't have that with my first pregnancy, but I tried to assure myself that it was fine, as did all the doctors I called. The spotting continued on and off for a few days and I called my doctors again and practically begged that they test my progesterone. They assured me again that spotting was normal and testing wasn't necessary.

Then one Sunday evening I knew something was very wrong. I can't even describe the feeling that came over me. I knew I was losing my baby. We went to the ER right away where they took my HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels and did an ultrasound. I asked if they could check my progesterone levels once again. They said they didn't do that, but would look into it. They took some more blood to run tests. After nearly 4 hours in the ER they came back and couldn't tell me much. I asked about the progesterone levels, and they said they didn't run them. Defeated might be an understatement.

The next day my OB's office called, and I continued my broken-record request to have my progesterone level checked since things seemed to have gotten a little better. She said that was a good sign and to rest. Hope was a cruel thing during those 2 days. At about 2 a.m. I experienced something like a mini labor and lost the baby.

For anyone who has suffered a miscarriage, you can write to the Church of the Holy Innocents, Shrine of the Unborn in New York, and they will write your child's name in a book of intentions, light a perpetual candle, and say mass for the soul ever first Monday of the month. I'd love to visit someday.

The next day in the OB's office surrounded by pregnant women I had my blood drawn once again to test HCG levels, but it wasn't really necessary. I had come so I could talk to my doctor, but she wasn't there so I went home feeling entirely empty.

My doctor called later that day to tell me my HCG levels had dropped significantly. I had assumed as much, and I preface my next question with a "please don't think I'm crazy, but I chart and ...." I asked once again if they could check my progesterone when my body had recovered. Her response, "Oh yeah. We do that all the time." I think I sunk to the floor. I had nothing left to say.

A month later I had my progesterone level checked. It was a 4. The lowest it should be, at the point I had it tested (progesterone has to be tested on a specific cycle day for accurate numbers, about 7 or 8 days after ovulation), is an 8 with a more ideal number of 12 or higher. My progesterone wasn't just low; it was abysmal. My doctor said she'd like to have it tested once again to confirm that we had tested on the right day. Having charted for so long I knew we had, though I agreed. But I got another positive pregnancy test a day later, and by the time I lost that baby the doctor agreed to supplement future pregnancies with progesterone without running further tests. (There haven't been any studies to suggest that too much progesterone during a pregnancy is a bad thing.)

Miscarriage is not uncommon in my family. I actually always expected it, but to experience it was heartwrenching. What made it even more difficult is that perhaps it could have been avoided. Maybe not, as miscarriage is frequently because of genetic abnormalities, but I feel like if one doctor had done as I requested, if one doctor was familiar with NFP, maybe we could have saved that first baby's life with progesterone support. I understand that the medical world has to run a certain way in order to keep up with demand, but it seems like a simple blood draw wouldn't have been much of an inconvenience.

Today I'm exactly 20 weeks pregnant. It's a bit bittersweet grieving the baby due today, and yet to be so elated to be carrying this little girl. I truly believe she's here today because of the progesterone I was finally put on, and I'm so thankful for the knowledge I was given through NFP. I know also that God's plan is for every mama to hold their baby, but with sin comes tragedy, but He can make beauty from any tragedy.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pregnancy Journal

36 weeks

So this week has been more eventful than I wanted. Was hoping for our last ultrasound, but we're set for at least a few more now that we've discovered baby girl's head is in my ribs. Had hoped to do another drug-free natural birth, but if baby doesn't flip, looks like a c-section may be in the cards this time. The closest doctor who will deliver breech babies is 5.5 hours away. In the meantime we have a few tricks to try and encourage her to get into the correct position, including chiropractor, some unique yoga poses, and probably an ECV, where they try to turn baby from the outside. Fingers crossed and prayers said something works! Otherwise, she's doing well at 24% for size and growing hair just like her big sister. We are so excited to meet her sometime soon! 

32 weeks
Getting biggy and biggy as my daughter says. I would guess this little one is a bit bigger than her older sister. And lower, which I didn't think was possible, but my pelvic bone would disagree. Most women seem to talk about discomfort in their ribs, but I guess that's not a sensation I'll experience. She's nowhere near as active as my first either though the Braxton hicks contractions are MUCH more frequent. But we've been having lots of fun working on the nursery this month. Cordelia arrived in less than 6 weeks from this point so getting excited!

28 weeks

The last month went so fast that I'm actually almost 29 weeks. Had a doctor appointment today and we heard the heartbeat on the Doppler. I remember Cordie never let them rest the Doppler for long or she'd kick it, but this baby girl was perfectly fine with them taking a nice, long listen. Funny how you can see different personalities emerge so early.

24 Weeks

24 weeks. Viability! It's a big milestone and she's finally kicking pretty consistently so anxiety is finally going down a bit. 

20 Weeks

Halfway! Maybe even more if this one decides to show up early like her sister. She's gotten so much stronger over the last week. You can see her kicks from the outside, and both Ben and Cordie have felt her kick. Little nervous about the anatomy scan on Thursday, but excited to get another glimpse of my baby. Cordie is still excited. Ben said when they came to pick me up from the airport after my business trip, he asked if she was excited to see me. She said, "Get to see my baby sister!" I think she may have thought I was coming home with the real deal.

16 Weeks

16 weeks and feeling movement. This one likes to roll and flip, twist and turn. Makes me a bit nauseous. Other than that I'm feeling good though sleeping has been less comfortable this time around. And I NEVER have issues sleeping so that's new. Weird dreams all the time. Even Ben has been having them, but I guess that's a thing, for the dad to also have strong/strange dreams. Cordie talks about the baby almost everyday and constantly asks to go see the baby on the TV (i.e. ultrasound). She likes to say, "Little tiny baby growing."

It's a ... GIRL!

Totally shocked. Had completely convinced myself it was a boy. This pregnancy has been so different (hardly nauseous at all was the big one) so I just assumed. I even started using "he" when referring to the baby. We even picked out a boy name and not a full girl name! Cordie is thrilled. Once the tech said what the sex was, she yelled, "Baby sister!" We are thrilled as well, but I feel like I have to adjust all my thinking from the last few weeks. Praying things continue to go smoothly.

12 Weeks

 8 Weeks

I thought I would consolidate all my pregnancy stuff to one spot so as not to inundate social media. I'm so excited about this new baby I don't want to keep it to myself, but perhaps containing my enthusiasm is a good idea.