September 26, 2015

Robert's Birth Story

This is the birth story of Robert Wallace, my second son.  He was born on April 15, 2015 at 8:05 a.m.  He was 20.5 inches long and 7 lbs. 12 oz., our heaviest baby yet.  

I was nervous to give birth again, unmedicated, so I halfway convinced myself that I’d be pregnant forever.  Due to months of awful Braxton Hicks contractions, I worried that I wouldn’t know when labor was starting.

Early Tuesday morning, I was awoken by what I thought were contractions, but I quickly fell back to sleep.  I was going to be pregnant forever, remember?  I had my 40 week appointment a few hours later.  It was the first appointment I’d attended without Clara and Seven in tow, thanks to the kindness of a ward member.  It was nice to have a real conversation with the midwife.  Thankfully, all was well with baby and me.  I had to set up my 41 week appointments, including extra monitoring for being overdue.  For the first time, I thought it might be a good idea for the baby to make their entrance.

Around 4:30 that afternoon, I had another clue that labor was approaching: bloody show.  I informed my mom, but had to convince her to stay in Globe – I didn’t want the pressure to perform.  I decided to go teach ballet, which Anson thought was insane.  I was just happy to have a distraction!  When I walked into the studio, everyone was shocked to see me.  Apparently there had been a rumor started the day before that my baby had been born!  I was amused, but sorry to disappoint.  The rest of the night went normally.  Anson finished building the cosleeper, my brother-in-law came over to give me a blessing, and I went to bed early, all just in case I went into labor that night.

Sometime after midnight, I lost the battle of sleeping through possible contractions.  It was almost unbelievable that contractions could be so strong, yet still 15-20 minutes apart.  I tried to stay in bed, to rest, but I soon found myself jumping to my feet as a wave would start, eager to walk through the pain.  I was definitely confused; it couldn’t be labor!

At 3:03 a.m., I decided to time the pains.  I thought I could prove that I was being a huge wimp.  The pains were 10-12 minutes apart, plus the occasional 6-8 apart.  No way it could be real labor, right?

Finally, at 4:20 a.m., I decided to experiment.  What would happen if I didn’t get back in bed?  Would labor pick up or die out?  When the next five contractions were 4-6 minutes apart, I was shocked.  How did that happen?!  I decided to call my mom.  I reluctantly updated her on my situation and told her we could just “hang out” if nothing happened.  That was at 4:45 a.m.  Half an hour later, I was on the phone with Amy, the midwife.  She said we should meet at the birth center around 6:15-6:30 a.m.  At that point, I was still unconvinced that I was in labor, but part of me hoped that 6:30 wouldn’t be too late.

My mother-in-law soon arrived to watch the kids.  By that time, contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, and I could tell that my mother-in-law was worried.  I started to worry, too, and headed towards the car, knowing full well that we would beat the midwife, but feeling a very strong desire to be at the birth center, regardless. 

During the car ride, I focused on counting all of my body parts during contractions.  When we arrived, I exited the car and noticed my feet were soaked with sweat.  I also started shivering and my teeth were chattering.  It was about this time that I finally started to believe that I might really be in labor.  Anson took over the contraction timer, while I paced the parking lot, with a towel draped over my shoulders.  The 20 minutes it took for Amy to arrive seemed like an eternity.  I felt vulnerable and unable to progress.  I suddenly realized that my mom probably wouldn’t make it in time for the birth.

I was feeling a lot of downward pressure during contractions outside the birth center.  I both wanted to keep my legs together to stop progress and open them up by a foot it get it over with.  Once inside, Amy checked me and said I was almost at the end of transition (translation from the future: 9cm).  The tub was filling SO SLOWLY, so I walked in circles, pants-less, with my eyes closed, desperately willing it to be full.

FINALLY!  I was able to enter the tub and it was a huge relief, both mentally and physically.  Then, things got weird.  My contractions spaced out and got much less intense.  My mom showed up (yay!), so I thought maybe things would pick up.  Nope.  I was very present and alert at this time.  I began questioning Amy about what was taking so long.  She said my waters were still intact and “helping” the baby to descend slowly.  OH HECK NO!  I started to get very impatient.  The only thought in my head was that I needed to break my own water, to get the baby out.

That strange period lasted for 1-1.5 hours.  Contractions spaced out and lessened in intensity.  I was just kneeling in the tub, waiting for something to happen.  I was so annoyed with everything, especially when people tried to remind me of my birth plan (“let my body push, don’t interfere”) and how I believed in “natural”. I’ll admit that I did try to break my own water, every time I thought someone wouldn’t notice!  (For this online birth story, I’ll leave out the details of that endeavor!) Time dragged on, my feet fell asleep, I tried different positions, I did a lot of complaining, but nothing happened.

And then, all on its own, IT BROKE!  I was so happy and announced it proudly.  Yay!  (7:57 a.m.)  The downward pressure immediately increased.  The contractions intensified and quickened.  I gave small pushes during the surges to help baby drop.  With each inhale and exhale I would tilt my head from right to left.  Suddenly, I felt the head bulging and almost crowning.  My left hand quickly and instinctively dove down to lend support.  The midwife and nurse heard the splash of my hand and rushed into the room.

With each inhale, I imagined lava and fire, but with each exhale, I imagined blowing snow onto the painful burn, extinguishing it.  The first crowning push (8:03 a.m.) didn’t seem to stretch me enough, so I tried to hold back.  It was extremely painful, much more than I remember with Steven, so I found it difficult to control myself.  As much as it hurt to do so, I tried my best to keep the head crowning until the next contraction.  Then, in the next surge or two, the head finally emerged.  What an amazing relief!! The midwife instructed me to grab the head and I vividly remember feeling a tiny ear with my left hand.  It was magical!  I asked Amy if I could wait for another contraction to birth the shoulders.  She was hesitant and asked for “grunty pushes” while she checked the neck for a cord.  Amy then told me to lean a different direction (very hard to do!) and to push.  Then – I pushed!  My baby was born and lifted out of the water, onto my chest, at 8:05 a.m. 

The baby was silent at first, but I saw his eyes moving.  For a split second, I thought (and asked aloud) that something might be wrong.  While Amy rubbed his back, he let out his first cry.  Hallelujah!  I peeked between baby’s legs and then subtly showed Anson.  Another boy!  I knew it!

Everything from that moment on went smoothly.  Only the after-pains gave me any bother.  Robert was a perfect blessing.  Breastfeeding was amazing (well, at least until my milk came in!).  I escaped without any injuries.  Anson and I were able to take a nap while my mom and Mimi loved on the new baby.  The day was wonderful, magical, and sacred in every way. 

Usually, the birth story would end there, but I have to add this gem:

On the way home from the birth center, a few hours later, Anson drove me through a cute neighborhood.  In actuality, he was checking up on a job site!  His brother walked up to the truck and said, surprised, “Oh my heck!  Is that your wife in there?”  We all laughed.  I’m not sure how many husbands take their wives and hours-old babies to work with them!  I don’t think I’ll ever let Anson live that story down. 

December 30, 2013

A Few More From Christmas

Clara and Steven are lucky little people, because they also get to celebrate Christmas with Grandma and Great-Grandma!  Sadly, by the time we arrived at my family's, Clara was really feeling ill.  I did, however, manage to get a few photos, so here they are!

Oh, how I love these two children of mine.  Clara was her spunk, love of words, and friendliness.  Steven with his sweet smile and laugh, his desire to climb and scale every object in a room.  They sure did make Christmas wonderful this year.  I have a feeling next year will (somehow, though it seems unbelievable!) be even better.

December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

This has been the best December that I can ever remember.  I'm sure it was this good or better when I was a kid, but my memory is too poor to recall.  The magic and excitement were always present this year.  Having Clara around, seeing Santa, reading a new Christmas book every night, singing Christmas songs multiple times a day, the holiday parties, Baby Jesus... it all amplified the Christmas Spirit and helped me see things from her sweet perspective.

We spent Christmas Eve Eve (not a typo) through Christmas Day with Anson's family.  It was my first White Christmas and I loved it!  I really liked being trapped in the cabin with carloads of kids and most of my inlaws, believe it or not.  (Really!)  Everything was simple, just the way I like it.  Unfortunately, my kids (and a few others) were sick the entire time.  Steven woke up multiple times the first night, refusing to nurse, and only agreeing to fall asleep if I was sitting upright with his head on my chest.  I was tired, but thanks to Clara, I can now run on very little sleep.  ;)  My sweet Clara is a trooper and didn't throw any fits or act like a brat, but she had puffy eyes and had to lay down every time her ibuprofen wore off.  It made me sad to see her like that, especially on Christmas, the day she has been so excited for all month!!  :(

Without further ado, here are the photos from the first part of Christmas:

^^First, we cut down the Christmas tree^^

^^Clara and I built a snowman.  She has been so obsessed with snowmans lately, that we even heard her singing Frost the Snowman in her sleep!^^

^^Clara insisted on being an angel in the live nativity.  She sang Joy to the World at the top of her lungs, even though she didn't know any of the words.^^

^^Christmas morning was wonderful.  The gift giving was short and simple, which encouraged a lot of excitement about what everyone was getting, and also provided lots of time to express gratitude.^^

Part of me wishes that Christmas could last all year, but deep down I know that waiting for each year makes it that much more special.  Still, I'm trying to leave my Christmas tree up as long as possible, even though it's dead!

September 18, 2013

First Day of Dance

This little girl is killing me.  Though it hurts a little bit to realize she's growing up, I can't deny that being her mom just keeps getting better and better.

Her first dance class is something I've been waiting for forever.  Okay, let's be real.  I've been waiting for this moment before she even existed, probably before I was even married.  Ha!  And let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  Little buns in a leotard are about the cutest things on Earth.  And watching her hop like a bunny while wearing a crown and holding a wand?  Yes.

Here are some photos from her first day at dance.  She is wearing mommy's first leotard.  :)

Keep dancing, baby girl!!  (Or playing soccer or singing or whatever it is you love!)

September 16, 2013

BBQ, Cake, Presents, and Grandparents

We had both sets of grandparents and both Mimis get together with us at our favorite BBQ place for Clara's birthday.  (Yum, pulled pork!)  

There are some moments that a mother will never forget.  The look on Clara's face as we sang, "Happy Birthday" to her is something I will always cherish.  I have never seen her look happier.  She knew she was in the spotlight at that moment and that she was/is so very loved.  I hope she knows that every day for the rest of her life.

Clara got the bulk of her presents that night.  She received books, art supplies (and an easel from us!), clothing and, her favorite gift ever (!), a pirate spyglass.

Seriously, you could not pry that spyglass out of her hands for a week after the party!

A big thank you and hugs to our wonderful family for being so good to Miss Clara.  We love you all!

September 14, 2013

Clara's Pirate Party

My little lady turned two last month.  I'm not ready for this growing up business.  In the grand scheme of things, we are little kids for such a short time.  That is really unfair to mothers, if you ask me!  I'm trying my very hardest to soak up every moment and store all of these sweet memories, but life never slows down and my brain sure has a difficult time keeping up.  I am so happy, and beyond grateful, that I get to spend every day with my sweet, funny, smart, sassy, crazy-haired girl.

Well, that's enough sappy stuff from me!  The pictures aren't the best, but here is the little pirate party that I threw for Clara and her gaggle of cute cousins.

The food was all pirate-themed:  Crab croissants, pb&j skulls, goldfish crackers, pirate jewels (fruit salad), pirate booty, swedish fish, fresh water, and sea water (blue punch).  The kids got to pick and frost their favorite cupcake.

I made all of the kids hats out of newspaper and painted them black.  I also made paper bag pinatas to look like Captain Hook and Jake from the Neverland Pirates.


It was a great little party.  I still can't believe that my baby is two...

August 9, 2013

I Want to Watch This a Million Times

Here's our latest vacation video.  Unlike the last one, I actually had a lot more footage to work with!