Friday, February 28, 2014

And then my baby tried to claw her way out...

 I now see my OB every week (on Thursdays), and a high risk doctor for a high level ultrasound on Tuesdays. Seeing the OB weekly at this point in the pregnancy is standard; the ultrasounds are a precaution to keep an eye on the little one and make sure she doesn't have any more heart decels or cord issues. This week on Tuesday was my second high risk ultrasound and our daughter checked out beautifully, and quickly! She practiced her breathing, had a perfect heart rate, responded well to nudges through the belly by moving around, had great bloodflow through her umbilical cord, and the cord was still in the same unthreatening position as it was the week before. As a bonus, the technician was the same woman who did my ultrasound last week and could tell me (because she remembered me) that the baby had changed position a little bit - shifted from the right side of my belly to the left - and had dropped a little lower in the head down position. I was happy to hear that she thought the baby was starting to drop, because her movements are starting to take my breath away and be very uncomfortable and even painful at times. But I'll take it in the name of progress.

My regular OB appointment yesterday was... lively. And I have to write it out so that I remember the details, because - 4th baby.

I headed into the appointment with a week's worth of thoughts and questions about how we should approach the delivery of this baby. Backstory: Robbie was a natural birth, Ellie was a C-section (she was breech), and Maddie was a VBAC that went very well but had to be helped along with breaking my water and doses of pitocin. I switched OB practices after Maddie's birth once we knew we wanted to try for a 4th baby, because my favorite doctor of the 8 or so that practiced with the last group left to practice elsewhere. The new OB I chose for this current pregnancy, Dr. G., is so so wonderful. Many of my friends see him and I've watched him handle routine births as well as tough situations, medical emergencies, and loss in ways that are highly impressive. He's also a one-man practice so you always see him at appointments, and his office is located within the hospital so he rarely misses a birth. All good.

Dr. G. isn't a fan of using pitocin with VBACs though, and that's all I have known with all of my natural deliveries. With the other little hiccups we've had with the pregnancy, I was beginning to question whether we shouldn't just schedule a C-section for the delivery of this baby in a few weeks, even though it's not my preference. I was anxious to talk it all through with him and see what his medical advice would be.

While I was waiting to be called back, I had a strong pain develop at the base of my stomach on the right side. I tried to relieve it by changing positions, rubbing it, drinking water, relaxing, breathing... but nothing was working. It wasn't a contraction but the kind of steady sharp pain (round ligament, I assumed) that makes your eyes water, and after sitting there with it for 5-10 minutes the nurse called my name and took one look at my face and asked "Are you alright!?". I assured her yes, just typical pregnancy pain, and she helped me slowly get up and shuffle back to the exam room. She looked at my chart and mentioned that she didn't think Dr. G. would need to 'check' me today (internal exam to evaluate any progress towards labor), and I explained to her that I actually hoped that he would check me, in order to have as much information as possible as we discuss how I might anticipate delivering the baby in a few weeks. So she laid out the paper cover, left while I got undressed and situated, and then came back and hooked me up to the monitor to observe the baby's heart rate (standard for my appointments now). The pain I'd been feeling had subsided to a manageable level by now, and I sat on the monitor for a while.

Dr. G came in a little later, said hello, looked at the monitor readout and was satisfied, and said he didn't think he felt the need to do an internal exam today. I explained that I wanted to discuss delivery methods and the pro's and con's of scheduling a repeat C-section, and that an internal exam at this point might be helpful to add to the information I'm working with. He agreed, and we discussed at length my options. In summary, he is strongly in favor of me trying to attempt another VBAC. He thinks it will be uncomplicated (as best as he can foresee, of course), that I have a good history of natural births, and that if my labor did stall, he's not completely opposed to using a little pitocin if necessary. What a relief! The answer seemed clear - I no longer felt that a C-section was the best option for us at this point, and put those thoughts to rest.

Then he started the internal exam. They're always pretty, um, uncomfortable... but this one went on for longer than usual and it was all I could do not to crawl up the table (and I might have yelled at one point). When he finished, he had this odd look on his face, and said "Well, now we have a different situation! Your baby seems to be breech." I could not believe it - "Are you serious!?" I said to him, "Just two days ago the ultrasound showed her to be head down and starting to drop more...".

Dr. G says to me, "I could not feel her head, and I was reaching pretty far, as you know... but something grabbed my hand. I think she tried to grab on to me." I started laughing and thought he was joking, but he assured me that he wasn't joking at all, that he definitely felt our baby's hand during the exam! He also said that I'm softening and dilated to 1 cm (last week I was 'a little soft and totally closed'). So, progress.

He then spent the next few minutes scaring me with a lecture on what to do if my water spontaneously breaks while she is in this position... that I am to get in my car and drive straight to the hospital, don't wait for anything, don't even bother calling 911 because in this situation they would BE TOO SLOW, etc. He explained why - if my water breaks and the baby's breech, the cord could come through the birth canal and present a dangerous situation for the baby. Then he asked me to follow him across the hall for an ultrasound so that we could determine exactly what position the baby was in and get a better look at things.

He did the ultrasound himself, and within a minute or so was able to tell me that the baby was actually still head down, just not sitting very low. And then he pressed the ultrasound wand right where I had been having such intense pain while I waited in the waiting room for my appointment, and said "Look at that!". Our daughter had her arm stretched out and her hand was above her head, right between her head and the lowest part of my abdomen. What a little stinker. That nearly debilitating pain was her hand reaching out!

A sigh of relief. Dr. G and I laughed at the turn of events, and he said "Ok, forget the complications we just talked about related to her being breech - she's head down and we are back to our original plan of waiting for labor and attempting another VBAC!" I asked him if she could still change position between now and 40 weeks, and he said it's definitely possible (and then told me a story about a baby literally turning from being head down during labor as the mom was dilated to 6cm, to being breech and having to be delivered via emergency C-section, so anything's possible!). So we will continue to check in on the baby twice a week just as we have been, and pray that she stays head down!

I felt like I needed a nap after that appointment - I went from concerned about her birth, to at peace with the idea of a VBAC and totally confident that I could wait for labor to happen naturally and deliver her that way without complications, to concerned that she was breech and that I'd have to make sure at any point in time I could get myself to the hospital should something happen, and then back to relieved that she's in a head down position... and even laughing at our girl for her spunk. When I walked down the hall and past the front desk, the nurses were all laughing with me and cracking jokes about how my baby is trying to climb out of my womb, she's so ready to be born!

This pregnancy has been far from what I 'expected' it to be when we first discovered we were pregnant. I have dealt with more sickness in the last 8 months than I typically do in the span of a few years. When I'm pregnant I'm usually healthier than usual, so this has been a totally different experience (food poisoning, strep, sinus infections, pneumonia, colds, stomach flu...!). I knew I would probably have a harder time for the last 2 months or so of the pregnancy simply because the last month or two of my pregnancy with Maddie was difficult to endure. I contracted a lot, had a lot of pain, and needed extra help with the kids. But aside from the physical discomfort I've had, I've needed bedrest, and to keep a closer eye on this 4th babe with a few extra doctor's appointments. I've needed a lot more help than I ever dreamed I would, more help than I would say I am comfortable with.

After this last experience at the OB, I've resigned to submitting to whatever these last few weeks hold. I'm giving up trying to predict how things will play out, I'm letting go of hoping for a certain outcome or bracing myself for disappointment... I'm reminded that I've always been asked by the Lord to hold this baby, this pregnancy, this process with an open hand. To accept whatever might come along the way and trust Him with it. It's hard to do, moment by moment! I'm human and I have preferences. At times, strong preferences. :) But I hope and pray that He is refining me every day that I carry this baby, that He is using each unique circumstance for His glory and our ultimate good, which is to be made more like Christ.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pack it up!

In celebration of hitting this milestone on Tuesday...!


I always love reading what other women pack in their hospital bags when they are anticipating the delivery of their babies. Here are a few things I'm taking with me. And yes, I've already packed my bags. :)

My Hospital Bag
(*this is of course not an exhaustive list... I'm an over packer.)

center: a weekender bag
clockwise from top left corner: 
- baby briefcase (for paperwork)
- S Factor leave-in spray
- blum facial wipes
- fresh sugar lip balm
- gifts for Robbie, Ellie and Maddie... "from the baby", & small thank you gifts for attending nurses
- iHome clock / music player (synchs with iPhone to stream music)
- gum & snacks (to sneak during or after labor)
- lightweight striped bathrobe 
- slippers
- Camelbak waterbottle
- iPhone
- going home outfit (maternity yoga pants, zip up track jacket and tank top
- laptop

The Baby's Necessities

center: petunia pickle bottom diaper bag (well-loved by now!)
clockwise from top center:
- Aiden & Anais Bamboo Dream Blanket
- Chicco car seat
- GumDrops pacifiers
- Aiden & Anais bamboo swaddle blankets
- nail clippers
- emery boards
- Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter for nursing
- Baby Gap booties, mitts and knotted cap

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Matters of the heart.

Well, we celebrated the day of love... The next night Rob and I went out to dinner and to a hotel nearby for a rare overnight away from the kids. And by sunrise the next morning (Sunday) I got a text from the sitter saying two of our kids were throwing up. 

After nursing them for a few hours, with Rob sharing the duties with me, it seemed the worst was over and I went upstairs to lay down. It didn't take long to realize I was probably next on the list to get sick, and so I called my mom who promptly came over just as it started around 6pm. She drove me to the hospital where I knew I would land sooner or later anyways (vomiting = dehydration = contractions = monitoring). As I made my way to triage, suddenly (frighteningly) unable to breathe well, I had to walk through a group of no less than 20 couples on a hospital tour of Labor & Delivery, women all sporting swollen bellies and the menfolk trying to avoid looking at me as I walked right between them all. If I hadn't felt like death I would have laughed so hard. I was quite a miserable sight. 

A thousand questions, monitors hooked up, IV's started, zofran administered, blood drawn, a quick check to see if labor was starting (no) and an hour or two went by all while I held my eyes shut tight, just trying to endure the miserable minutes until the stomach bug left me alone. My dr popped his head in (I think? Or maybe just talked to the nurses and they relayed his directives to me?) and I was told I'd be moved to a room to continue treatment and monitoring - most likely overnight. My sweet mom, staying with me and not at all anxious to leave my side, slept on the couch in the hospital room with me and helped me pass the long hours by rubbing my hands, feet, head, anything to bring me comfort. Feeding me ice chips. I am so thankful for her, especially when rob and I have to be separated at times like this, when the kids need one of their parents caring for them and we can't be together. 

At some point the pain was great enough that I asked for something to take the edge off. Coupled with the zofran, it allowed me about 2 hours of relief to rest. But sleep was impossible, and by the time it wore off in the wee hours of Monday morning, I had the new sensation of having a heart attack which was disturbing. Pepcid was given through my iv, which had by now pumped 3 or 4 bags of fluid into my dehydrated body, and at some point I was allowed another dose of pain medicine, which actually allowed me to sleep for a few hours. 

The entire time, the baby was being monitored. And while I was acutely sick (first 24 hrs or so) her variations in heart rate were watched but somewhat expected. As I hydrated and recovered from the illness, temperature came down, and all contractions slowed, it became apparent that our baby girl was still having dips in her heart rate that could not be linked to anything in particular (they would happen when I was resting, or asleep, and long after contractions had ceased). 

So instead of heading home Monday, they kept me hooked up to the monitors to keep an eye on our girl. Through the night Monday / into Tuesday, she had a few more dips in her heart rate and that settled it for my Dr... I would need an evaluation by the high risk dr. First thing Tuesday morning I had a very thorough ultrasound that showed good news (healthy girl! Developed palate, perfect heart with 4 steady chambers, great practice-breathing in the womb, plenty of amniotic fluid, good bloodflow through the umbilical cord, great measurements for her gestation and estimated to weigh over 5lbs) and slightly concerning news (the cord may be getting compressed by its position around the baby, which could be causing her heart rate to dip... But that's not for certain, just a best guess). 

I left the ultrasound both thankful and relieved, but with a new set of concerns. With nothing major to point to that is wrong or underdeveloped, we are left wondering what might be causing the dips in her heart rate... Unsure of whether this is cause for concern or not a huge deal. More unknowns than answers and a really big, grey area to bounce around in. 

We are left in the difficult position of wondering what is best for our girl. Without knowing how to find the perfect answer for ourselves - trying to ask the right questions, refusing to give in to fear, asking The Lord to give wisdom and discernment - to us but also to our drs as they provide care specifically for our daughter in her particular situation. 

For now we plan to see the OB weekly (for monitoring) and the high risk dr weekly (for ultrasounds). Tomorrow begins the conversation of what the risks are for the baby and what our options are. What the dr thinks is best... What we are most comfortable with... What is safest for this sweet babe whom we already love...


And yet I re-read the last post I wrote and let my own words wash over my heart in a new way. We will not fear. We will not attempt to control God's hand. And yet we will do everything we can to call on Him, ask for His wisdom and leading, trust Him in all things at all times, and make the best choices that we can with what we know. We will keep walking by faith. 

I will refuse to let the secrecy of my womb scare me, the darkness that seems to hide my daughter from me. 

Darkness is as light to him... And He loves her more than we ever will. She is in His hands, where she always has been. And we are, too. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wake up, sleeper.

Maddie has been under the weather lately. Her cold virus that just won't go away came on the heels of our decision to stop napping her during the day, as bedtime was greatly affected on the days that she did nap {as in, she was up partying in The Big Bed long after we had tucked ourselves in}. But now, this cold virus is draining all her energy, and although I will not lay her down in her bed, I permit her to doze off in the car, and fall asleep in the playroom durning "rest time" (above). The more activity going on around her as she falls asleep, the better (to her). She never fusses or whines either, just dozes off. 

I feel a lot like Maddie, currently. There's a lot going on around me, and I'm distracted by much of it and feel like I'm falling asleep at the (parenting/marriage/friendship) wheel. I retreat into myself a fair amount, whether it's obvious or not from the outside. 

Mentally I can't keep anything straight. I forget what day it is while at the same time am acutely aware of my gestational countdown. It's nearly impossible to focus on anything other than how and when I might go into labor, and how in the world I'm going to be able to know the difference between non-progressive contractions and active labor. I loathe one of two scenarios playing out: being sent home from triage repeatedly (false alarms), or laboring too long and missing my epidural window (horror of horrors, am I right?). I also can't concentrate on much of anything for very long. My thoughts wander, or I'll have a contraction, and just like that my train of thought is interrupted and all focus is lost. 

This is actually welcomed sometimes... I spend a good chunk of time every day (off and on) dreaming about the baby we are about to have... What her delivery will be like, those sweet first hours of getting to know her and comparing her to our other 3 babies, the visitors in the hospital - I love love love all of it. So much. But lately I've noticed that fear is creeping into my daydreams. "What if..." (Fill in the blank with any number of scenarios that are unexpected and unpleasant or worrisome.) As soon as these thoughts crop up I try to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ. Because they have no place in my mind and they are robbing me of joy and peace. I've seen plenty of friends walk through the "what if-s" of my mind and here's the truth of the matter: nothing could have been done to avoid it (God is in control), He has promised to use all things for His glory and our good, if we love Him (God is sovereign), and He will never ever leave or forsake me (God is faithful and good). He holds all time in His hands, including the future. He has already been in my delivery room. He sees and is intimately involved in the forming of my daughter who currently resides in my womb. Darkness to me is like light to Him. There are no hidden places. When I walk into my delivery room, whatever day that might be, He is not surprised. Nor is he unaware or standing in the corner with His hands tied. This is both a great comfort to surrender to, and the hardest thing to come to terms with (at times, esp heartbreaking ones). 

The truth is, we just can't know or control the future but it's a waste of time to fear it. We can only resolve to know Who has ordained all things, who lovingly cares for us in our deepest need and darkest hours, and trust that He will be there to lead us through whatever waters we might face in the future. Basically, that He really does love us and He really is good. 

And so I am determined to choose hope and joy as I anticipate the unknown. I will remind myself to breathe deeply instead of holding my breath. I will try to use and enjoy the days I have left before The Big Day, instead of just trying to survive them by means of distraction. 

This is really living, wide awake. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Acutely aware...

I realized this week that I am acutely aware...

...of how good God is to have created a world with variety and vast beauty. How delicious cherries and chocolate are together, the way the changing seasons are beautiful and each full of wonder, and yet leave us always looking forward to the turning of the next one. And with each additional inch {or foot} of snow, I can choose to bemoan the inevitable winter days we have yet ahead of us, or I can ponder how the snowflakes that continue to fall speak God's glory and Lordship over all of creation as they each remain perfectly unique. Such a wonder. 

...of how quickly my little ones are growing up. Him, in his size 6 pants that even so won't fit much longer and looking just like his daddy in button down shirts for school. Her, with her stubborn tantrums making less frequent appearances and her love of helping, pleasing, and growing independence. The littlest, happy to exclaim "I got it!" when anyone tries to assist her. The way her strawberry curls are beginning to graze her back. Her quick mind and able hands. 

...of how small they still are, and how much they really do need me. The way laying with him soothes and comforts him at night, and how often he still comes up to me throughout the day just to lay a cheek on my arm or offer a quick affectionate kiss. The way she prefers for me to tuck her in and will only sit by me at dinner. The comfort my littlest finds on my lap, shallow as it may currently be, and the way her lip quivers when I try to explain that I am no longer able to carry her down the stairs in the early morning hours (I might cave once in a while). The way my kisses have magic healing powers and bandaids can only be rightly applied by me. 

...of how every season of life can be viewed  in two ways. Loathed or savored. And my ability to choose gratitude and positivity and hope is directly related to my time spent with The Lord, through studying His Word and prayer. When I find myself rushing through or wishing away the hours or days, it's because I'm in pursuit of something I've fabricated in my mind or placed above Him. Today is the gift. He made today, the way it's supposed to be with depth and richness and perfectly tailored lessons and provisions that I'd be a fool to miss or refuse to accept. 

...of my inadequacies. 

...of the gift of family, friendship and health. 

...of how warm and safe our home is. 

...of how fleeting the time I have to enjoy reading books again is. 

...that one of the sweetest moments of my life is quickly approaching. That there will be an hour in a day not too long from now that I will look at my child for the first time. I will name her and embrace her and life will never be the same. 

...that God has given me so much grace in places I used to feel completely inadequate or fearful. I've grown in my knowlege and love for Him and in the process have replaced worry with Truth. 

Tonight I'm thankful for this new clarity. 

Monday, February 3, 2014


Just hit the 33-weeks mark. So thankful and starting to see the light at the end of the {bedrest} tunnel. One more week of critical resting to get to 34 weeks. Three more weeks (to get to 36 weeks) until the doctor wouldn't stop labor. And every week beyond that is bonus! WE CAN DO THIS. 

Taking time as I am able to have one on one time with each of my sweeties. 

2nd trip to L&D during week 32 to check on a truckload of contractions and pain. Sent home with the assurance that more measures are not needed to stop contractions because they're not progressing labor at this point! Thankfully escaped the dreaded one-two punch (iv and turbutaline shot). And got to know the sweetest nurse that morning, too. 

Nightly bubble baths are the envy of a certain 2 yr old. Most of the time I let her join me. How could I not?! I mean, that sweet face... Baby girl just wants to be with her mama and I love it. 

Cold viruses are making their way through each of us, making us even lazier than bedrest and the polar vortex were. Lots of naps and movies because why not. 

We have help for at least a chunk of each day right now, and the kids especially love when it's their beloved Mima. Nobody loves you quite like your Mima loves you. 

The girls are all about being little mommies. I think Ellie's ready for the Ergo... She's got the cutest little maternal streak and is very nurturing towards her dolls, maddie and my belly (as she talks about her new sister inside).

Growing independence... I relocated their kids' dishes to a low cabinet where they can access everything they need at mealtime. And lo and behold, Robbie has started to make their lunches on his own occasionally. I LOVE THIS. 

Snow in the bathtub. Open to any and all ideas for making frigid stuck-inside days pass by a little quicker! This was a good one. 

Digging up old toys from the basement to freshen up creativity. All 3 kids love the art easel and it's such a low-mess activity. Everybody wins!
(This is a picture Ellie drew of me, with a question mark on my belly "because we don't know what the baby is going to look like, mom!")

Lots of stuffing dolls under shirts around here. Big sister rite of passage, no?!

Well, I guess one day I let him play in the dry bath tub with toys in his pjs. I am winning at parenting. {this is pathetic to me for some reason... Like either let the kid actually take a normal bath or entertain him conventionally if he's fully clothed, I don't know...}

Back in the day (haha). 

Miss maddie is such a pottying champ. Literally taught herself. Asks to take off her diaper to go in the potty if we have her in one. Uses the perfect amount of TP. Is mortified by accidents. So dutiful, this one. Bless the third child. 

She would babysit him if we let her. Ellie's always had a soft spot for baby Jacob! It's the cutest. HE'S the cutest. I can't blame her. 

I have the best friends. For real. Sweet Liz sent this to me the day she took my kids and hers to Frozen (with her mom). SHE TOOK ALL THREE OF MY KIDS TO THE MOVIES. So I could rest. Who does that?! She does. SHE DOES. So many jewels on this ones crown in heaven, I'm telling you. 

In addition to precious friends, The Lord has totally provided me with fantastic babysitters for this time that I desperately need help. Today our sitter sent me this pic of the girls at ballet. Nothing makes a mama more grateful than to see her kids taken care of and well loved when she can't be the one to do it.

And new sweet friends who keep your 5 yr old boy entertained one afternoon with warm pretzels and rock climbing! 

Pre-bedrest, when I planned to aggressively walk each day. Ha. HAHAHA. That's seriously what I get for trying to exercise while pregnant. The next two days were the beginning of all these contractions and bedrest. But walking that day with friends sure was fun!