Category Archives: Pregnancy

Once Upon A Pregnancy

It would seem I’m going in a weird order with my photography-related updates. First comes labor, then comes baby, then comes pregnancy…?

They are all pictures that I am proud of and I’m excited to continue sharing them with you.

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I can’t believe the sweet little baby in that ultrasound is already over 6 weeks old. Time flies friends. Time flies.

A New Life Captured

Last Christmas Stephen got me a new camera. I was extremely surprised and therefore determined to learn how to effectively use this gift. During my self-teachings I fell in love with something very specific: birth photography.

It’s been over a month since my newest niece was born and I thought it was a good time to share some pictures from the event.

I can not express how beyond honored I was (and still am) that my sister allowed me to capture Addisons arrival. To be able to document that day in a way that they can always remember. To have a way to see and recall all the tiny details. It was such a beautiful experience that I will always cherish.

I hope you enjoy them.

 

 

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Jeff did an amazing job being there to support and encourage Miriah through their delivery. She did an incredible job and was able to have a natural delivery, like she wanted.

It was an amazing experience and I hope to one day get to do it again.

Post-Birth Unexpectedness

Yep, you read that correctly. I am going to do a little more (over)sharing of the baby birth variety. As if my last post wasn’t enough here I am to divulge even more.

After having my children I was beyond blindsided with things that no one told me would be happening to my body. I guess we are all so focused on preparing for labor and birth that people forget to share the insane things that come just after. I am here to make you more aware so that you aren’t surprised and confused or lack-of anything you may need but didn’t know to prepare for.

Alright ladies, here it is. You have been blessed by not having your period for 9 months and you need to prepare yourself. Yep, you are about to have the longest menstrual cycle of your life. Not a normal one either. A really really reeeeally heavy and uncomfortable one. Make sure that you have pads at home before you go to the hospital. You don’t want to send your husband to the store to pick out the wrong kind of super extra jumbo pads your first day back home. Who am I kidding, you won’t be picky about the type of pads, you will be too busy searching for old ugly granny panties so that you don’t ruin any of your nice ones. Not that those fit anyway, since, another fun unexpected surprise, you are entering the awkward “none of my clothes fit and I still look pregnant but in a weird droopy belly not cute kinda way”. I hope your stretchy pajama pants aren’t stored up in the attic because it’s time to bust those suckers out, and you are in no condition to be climbing stairs.

Did you know that after you have your baby you can actually request for them to leave the baby with you and hold off on all the checklists, pricks, prods, and paperwork!? Who knew, right. They don’t have to get your babies APGAR score in the first few minutes. Those moments are far too precious to have your baby crying across the room while a stranger checks their measurements. Ladies, you just had a baby. The child you have been dreaming of holding for the past 9 months. The one you picked a name for and spent time decorating a room. Unless there is something wrong with your sweet newborn, don’t let them steal those first moments from you. You will never get those first seconds, minutes, or hours again. Don’t ask or request that they can leave the baby with you, you are the patient YOU make the decision to keep, hold, and stare at your baby. Let your eyes be the first they stare into. Not just for 90 seconds, but for as long as they will allow. The nurse gave us over an hour of alone time after I had Elanor. It was just me, Stephen and our new baby in the room. Hospitals have routines but you aren’t going to break any laws by requesting to keep your baby. Be the first to witness your babies first blinks, cries, coos, and finger squeezes. You will never forget those first moments, and if it takes you demanding they wait, then do that. You don’t want to have regrets about this.

Ladies, I’m gonna be blunt with you (as if that’s new). You can not even prepare yourself for the crazy hormonal imbalances after baby is born. I’m only going to lightly touch this topic, because it honestly deserves an entire post all of its own. After little one arrives your body starts a rapid decrease in hormone production. The amount and intensity varies for everyone, but it is a serious, confusing, overwhelming, and for some medication needed experience. Think of a time you cried about something really upsetting. Now ADD together all the other times you’ve cried in your life on top of that and multiply it by ten. I’m not even kidding. Have some tissue boxes on hand bc hormones + sleep deprivation is gonna make you a crying red-eyed mess. Driving in the car and you start crying for NO reason, normal. Husband offers to go buy you dinner and you feel a rush of pressure in your head as you hold back tears. Done it. Baby wakes up crying and you want to run away. Seriously and totally been there. Expect the unexpected because some crazy lady is gonna take over your body and brain for a few weeks. Don’t worry too much, you will return back to a normal person. To top it off you won’t even remember much about it a few weeks or months later, but your husband probably will ; )

Now for a seriously important topic that I never thought would be an issue but it turns out is the toughest part after having a baby. Breastfeeding. No, I’m not kidding. I am 100% positive that those first few minutes after having our second baby are what made me feel so instantly connected to her. My breastfeeding experiences with our two daughters are like night and day. I believe one of the reasons that is is because I was able to nurse Elanor just minutes after birth. She latched on like a pro. She was a great nurser from that point forward. Our first daughter was completely different. Due to a combination of being immobile from my epidural, lying on my back while being stitched by the on-call doctor, and receiving medication that made me vomit and dizzy, I wasn’t able to try and nurse Sarah for over 2 hours after birth. After that she did latch but she wouldn’t eat because she instantly fell asleep since it was past that first “alert” time they have an hour or so after birth. While she was a confusing and trying nurser, I stuck with it (using a nipple shield) and did not give up. I was rewarded for my efforts when on the day she turned 4 months old she latched on me directly and nursed perfectly from that point on until she weaned at 1 years old.

Side-note: don’t let a lactation consultant be so busy they don’t give you the time of day and stick you with a nipple shield. Unless you want to hate nursing and have to pump EVERY time your baby eats. While the shield is a great blessing for women who need it because of actual nipple-related reasons, if your baby can properly latch then there is no reason you should need it.

The topic of breastfeeding has so much information that never seems to be discussed… Did you know that your milk doesn’t come in for a few days until after you’ve had your baby?! I didn’t know that. I also didn’t know of a thing called engorgement. Yep, it is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine your boobs being as hard as a rock, and then add in that they are so full that your skin feels like it’s going to stretch apart. Okay, now that I’ve scared you to death you will be relieved when it’s bad – but not THAT bad! You’re welcome. But in all seriousness, engorgement is painful and it will benefit you to invest in some heating pads if you don’t have any on hand. That, or just get a hot shower or bath and let the steam do some of the work.

I feel like the first 6 weeks are make or break for breastfeeding. If you can push through the pain and exhaustion in the beginning you can make it as long as you previously dreamed. I was a little aware of this next discovery, but not fully. For the first few days/week or two after delivery you experience contractions while breastfeeding. It’s great for your body because the contractions are your bodies way of shrinking your uterus back down to it’s original size, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt like they did in childbirth. Not as bad as just before pushing baby out contractions, but definitely between the 4-7cm variety. Because engorgement, sore nipples, and healing down below isn’t enough to experience, the body decides to throw some more contractions into the picture. Thankfully extra strength tylenol is safe to take and it can really help take the edge off.

Sitz bath. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t either. What’s worst is when the doctor told me to take a sitz bath 2-3 times a day I felt so dumb not knowing what “sitz” were that I didn’t ask. Because of that I didn’t take a single bath until my mom explained it to me a week or two later. Turns out a sitz bath is just a weird confusing spelling and pronunciation to just go and SIT in a BATH. I don’t know why the “Z” is added on the end, but now you know. SIT(z) in a bath with just enough water to cover your legs and let the warm water help heal and relax your lower half. Not only is it good for your body, it’s also good for your brain. Having a few moments to just sit by yourself can be sanity saving when you and your food-producing-boobs are on call 24/7. Sitz = Sit. Stupid z. If you don’t know what something is when instructed by your doctor just ask. Don’t let pride and dumbfounded’ness get in the way.

While packing for your hospital stay one of the most useful things you can throw in there is a trunk load of snacks. Yes, I’m totally serious. I went through an entire bag of family sized trail mix in 2 days, not to mention the 2 subway sandwiches, chips and cookies I chowed down on between hospital meals. Birthing a child is the longest workout you’ll ever have, and it makes perfect sense that you become ravenous. I had a friend that was a delivery nurse in the hospital we went to and she let me know that they had sandwiches and crackers stored in the fridge when the kitchen is closed. This is an additional tidbit for you, be nice to your nurses! Definitely can’t go wrong by rubbing elbows with the people that are in charge of your chart and controlling your food/medicine.

Poop. Yes, of the bowel movement variety. I’m totally going down this road with you. No reason to overshare on this topic, but just be aware that constipation can be at it’s highest after birth and investing in some stool softeners wouldn’t be a bad idea. Actually it’s a good idea, so just trust me and get a small bottle to help things along during the first few weeks after baby arrives. Things are extra sensitive down there and if you can make things easier on yourself than there’s no reason not to.

I am not writing this to scare any of you. If anything I am wanting to encourage you. I just know that I found it VERY helpful to know what to expect during my second pregnancy and delivery. All of which was NOT mentioned in that “What to Expect” book. It might be stuff you already knew, or maybe you weren’t aware of one or two things I listed, but I have to honestly admit that everything I shared above were things I did not know about until after having our first daughter and experiencing them first hand. I felt completely blindsided. Hopefully this information can be useful to someone. Even if it helps prepare just one person it was worth putting all these details out there.

Well that is all that I can think of to pass on from my experiences. If anyone else has some thoughts or insights please share. I’d love to hear other peoples stories and tips.

 

 

Behind the Scenes: A Birth Experience

Remember back when I shared Elanors birth story and I said I had a post coming with more details. Well it turns out I had no idea just how little I would be getting on my computer once baby #2 arrived. While out to dinner with some girlfriends the other night they reminded me about the fact that I hadn’t yet shared the med students experience I mentioned in the final post of Elanors birth story. I hadn’t delivered the story and they were still waiting. On a good note, that means people [other than my immediate family] are still sticking with me and checking this site, thanks for not giving up on me guys, and for holding me accountable. So, without further ado, here it is…

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Before I dive in I am giving you a Warning: this post is a bit graphic. I am sharing some of the nitty gritty details of childbirth. If you don’t want to read about blood, or see the word placenta, stretching, or lubrication, then you should definitely stop now. I want to share about the stuff people don’t talk about and you are completely blindsided with when you have a baby. Alright, you have officially been warned, now lets get to some of the truths behind birth.

During and after the time that Elanor was delivered, my midwife, Jenny, tested and instructed the med students that were in the room with us. While most people would probably say no to having a few extra strangers in their delivery room, saying yes turned out to be a really cool experience. It made for the most informative first hand account of what was going on with our baby and my body. We got to hear, learn, and see so many details that you don’t normally hear about as the patient.

One of my favorite parts of Elanors birth process is how aware I was during the entire process. Between pushes I was listening to Jenny talk and I remember hearing her say “More” several times to one of the nurses. I looked over at the nurse and watched her squeeze some gel into Jenny’s gloved hand. She put her hand back up and the nurse re-filled it and Jenny told her “thank you”. I realized at that moment that that nurse was one of my favorite people in the entire room. I looked at her and said “Yes, thank you!” She chuckled a little and smiled at me. I know, without a doubt, that the combined effort of Jenny’s constant ‘work’ and that nurses ‘generosity’ are some of the main reasons I didn’t tear delivering Elanor. I can not express my overwhelming gratitude for that fact. I was able to get up and walk around, pain-free, not even an hour after having our baby.

Have you noticed that on every tv show where a character is having a baby they mention and even joke that the mother is going to poop on the table while pushing? Guess what, that doesn’t happen to everyone. That’s right folks, I am announcing to you all that I did not poop while birthing, not just one, but both our daughters. I’m 0/2. I will share a loose (hehe) tidbit though, when you are laboring a natural part of the process is for your body to push everything out. I’ve talked to several friends about this and it is very common to have to use the restroom before you get to the push point. Your body prepares for birth by naturally clearing and cleaning itself out. As the baby moves further down so does everything in your bowels, which can be a welcoming thing since constipation is such a big issue during pregnancy. See ladies, a natural labor can be great. You think you have to poo and you finally can. Then, a while after that, you have more pressure like you need to push and you get a cute little baby! I call that a win-win situation! And if it turns out you do end up pooping while pushing I am pretty positive you won’t even know it, or care. If you do somehow see that it happened you will quickly forget because it’ll be the best rewarded bowel movement you’ll ever have ; )

I already mentioned how we had Med Students in the room during delivery. One thing that still makes me chuckle is one of the students facial expressions. There were 2 girls and 1 guy. They were standing on the right side, out of the way but within range to see everything going on down below. After a series of pushes I remember telling Jenny I needed a breathing break during the next set of contractions. While I was mustering up some energy Jenny was commenting about the fact that our baby had a head full of dark hair. I was looking down to see and it became time to push again. After a push and while sucking in a deep breath my eyes wandered to the med students. The look on the male students face was laughable. He had a look of confusion, and terror, like he was taken aback by what was taking place. I noticed him make that face twice. Once just after a push, and the other time was when Jenny was quizzing them after I had the baby and pointing out to them that I didn’t have any perineal or anterior tearing (praise God for lubricant!). I don’t know if that guy was doing a required rotation or wanting to be an OBGYN, but if so he might should look into another speciality.

After Elanor was born one of the next steps, as with all babies, is to cut the umbilical cord. I was holding our baby while Stephen and I were both taking in all her precious features and Jenny started talking to the med students. We weren’t paying too much attention to them, but we did hear a few things. We learned that the cord should wait to be cut until the blood has pretty much stopped pumping from mother to baby. Stephen cut the cord with both our daughters, so it was cool to watch the placement of the clamps and why you cut when you do. Not safe to do it right away, but you can’t wait too long either. However, if you are ever in a situation where you have your baby outside of the hospital, do not cut the cord. Wait for medical personnel to arrive. Just another random piece of information that was shared.

The placenta – that thing is smaller than you’d think. People don’t really tell you this, but after you have your baby you also “deliver” the placenta. It certainly can’t stay in there, so how else is it gonna come out?! I didn’t know this and I had had another baby before (pain meds did a horrible/REAL number on me with our first child)! After delivering the placenta Jenny held it up for the med students to see and announced “okay guys, this is the placenta.” It was almost humorous, like she was showing off a cute shirt she just bought at the mall. She was showing it to the med students and telling them about the dark maroon color and then, totally unexpectedly, flipped the thing inside out. It was crazy. Stephen and I were both watching and I asked ‘so that’s where our baby has lived?’ and she held it in our direction and showed it to us. Crazy. It may sound weird or gross to some people, but we thought it was kinda awesome. I don’t think we would have gotten a view of the placenta if med students hadn’t been there, much more a show of it being flipped around and inside out. Good decision confirmed!

Another tip from my experience, don’t just suggest but verbally INSTRUCT the doctor/midwife delivering your baby that you do not want birthing intervention. Meaning no vacuum, forceps, episiotomy, or whatever else they may throw at you. My doctor with my first baby knew I didn’t want any intervention, and because she wasn’t there we told the nurses and on-call doctor that I didn’t want intervention. Well it seems she was in a hurry and didn’t care about my wishes because not only did she give me an episiotomy, but she used the vacuum to pull Sarah out. I didn’t know about this until weeks later, which explained why my healing process was so long and painful. I can’t watch the TLC show “A Baby Story” because the few episodes I have seen involved doctors rushing the baby out with forceps and/or episiotomies which resulted in these new mothers having an extended, and far more painful, recovery. As well as a painful and unpleasant birth story. Complication-free vaginal childbirth was not meant to involve surgical tools.

If you want/hope to have a natural birth the most important thing you can do is talk to mom’s that have done so. There is nothing more encouraging than hearing first hand accounts of how natural childbirth really feels, physically AND emotionally!

I really wanted to write this because I feel that as women we have been taught to fear, and even look down upon, natural childbirth. We are told that the pain associated is cruel, unnecessary, and even sexist, and if we are smart modern women we will properly plan for every possible scenario to avoid the cruelty of labor & childbirth. I am sad that I myself was uneducated and fearful with my first delivery. I was scared into an epidural during our first daughters birth. I’m not saying that choosing an epidural is wrong at all, don’t misunderstand me here. My point is that it was not at all what I wanted, but the nurses and doctor did a great job at coming in every 20 minutes and suggesting intervention methods. Labor going slow? You need some pitocin. Pitocin scares you? Oh, just get an epidural. Epidural scare you? Here’s some heavy dose pain meds. You’d almost think the hospital staff got a cut of the bill by how much medicine they suggested and encouraged I take. I don’t see why insurance companies don’t encourage natural delivery or midwives, it’s so much more cost effective. Not to mention the quicker healing and recovery for the mother. If you have complications or are high risk, intervention and planning makes sense. What is most important is that mom and baby are safe. Specialists are around for a reason! Advancement in medicine has made it possible for women who normally couldn’t carry a baby to term, or even get pregnant, the chance to have their own children. It’s an incredible blessing for so many families. Or heck, if your husband is 6’8 and 280lbs I get that you could be birthing a potentially frighteningly large child… ;) I just want to let people know, from my own experiences, and discussions with other moms, that natural childbirth can be far less painful than a medicated/controlled birth. Our bodies were made to do this, and for me it is the most rewarding and exhilarating thing I have ever done. I feel that most women have no idea what really happens just before, during, and after birth. I know I didn’t with my first. All we ever hear are horror stories, and what can go wrong if we let things happen without following the hospital/doctors suggestions. When I told people I wanted to deliver naturally the most common response was “Why?”. It was actually very discouraging for my first pregnancy. Thankfully I prepared myself the second go around and was able to have my dream delivery. My best advice is to educate yourself. Know what you are subjecting your body and baby to before you make final decisions. I found Dr. Sears The Birth Book extremely helpful and informative, as well as first hand birth stories, and the childbirth documentary “The Business of Being Born” (which is on Netflix).

Women, we are tough. I continually find that I am far stronger than I knew when faced with challenges and adversity. It is because of our bodies natural abilities that mankind continues to reproduce and exist. Stand up for your rights as a child bearer. In my case that was done with the decision to find a midwife I connected with and trusted, researched pregnancy, labor and childbirth, and made my mind up for myself. While modern medicine is a wonderful thing, I didn’t want advanced drugs and technology. I’ve been on both ends of the birth spectrum; a controlled/hospital run birth and then natural and med free. For me personally, the latter served much better.

 

Elanors Birth Story: Part 4

I looked at Jenny with a dumbfound look. Am I ready to have our baby? Did she really just ask me that? All I knew at that moment was that I was beyond thankful that she was done checking me. That contraction was the worst, and all I was concentrating on was not pulling away from her while she did her job. I couldn’t believe we were at this point already. Was it actually go-time? With a bit of excited confusion I asked her back “You tell me, are we ready?” I don’t know what I was thinking or expecting, all I knew is that I hadn’t mentally prepared myself yet. I was in labor with Sarah for over 24 hours, and this time it had only been 7 hours since my first contraction. I think she could sense my hesitation because she asked me how I was feeling and I told her I felt a lot of pressure and like I needed to push. It’s true when people say you feel like you need to go to the bathroom. And yes, I do mean “bathroom” as in you feel like you need to poop. Thankfully it’s just the sensation that feels similar, and not the outcome! She told me if I felt like it was time to push then it was exactly that, time to push.

While some nurses scrambled around we discussed birthing positions. I did a lot of research on this subject and told her I was interested in squatting. She got a nurse to grab the squat bar and attached it to the end of the bed. I tried standing and getting into a squat position and it was.NOT.happening. It hurt my knees and was far from natural feeling for me. I blame my height, squats have never been my thing. I hated them in high school and I guess I still don’t like them to this day. Jenny suggested what I’m going to call the “C” position. After deciding on a position that felt comfortable and natural I got mentally prepared. Just like that. It took me less than 10 seconds to realize and accept that this was happening. I was ready.

While Jenny was getting prepped, and I was working through a contraction, she asked me my feelings on having med students in the room for the delivery. I don’t know if it was my honest thought, or being asked the question during a contraction, but I told her “sure”. (This split second decision would prove to be rather interesting a bit later). Jenny got all her medical gear on and asked me if I wanted her to break my water. It wasn’t a question I had thought much about. I guess I just assumed it would happen on it’s own, naturally. I asked Stephen what he thought and neither of us were against the idea so we went for it. Less than a minute later I felt the strangest and warmest release I’d ever felt. I had heard from a lot of people that after their water was broken they felt a lot of uncomfortable pressure and their contractions were a lot more painful. I didn’t feel this. I guess I could have felt pressure, but wasn’t aware because it was after this that I started pushing. While trying to get into position a contraction started and I did my first set of pushes. I had no clue what I was doing during the first 2 pushes. They told me “curl your body like a C” and all my brain heard was “you’re doing it wrong” and I kept thinking “how the crap does my body make a C?” Turns out it’s really simple to figure out when you aren’t trying to think during a contraction.

I finally figured out the correct positioning and it was time to push again. I grabbed the hand grips, held my breath, and pulled my chin into my chest. Jenny and all the nurses were telling me “Push! Push!”, so I did. I did 3 pushes during that contraction. While waiting for the next contraction Jenny was telling me she could see the head. We were only 1 contraction in and she could already see our baby. I was excited and shocked. Before I knew it it was time to push again. I was pushing as hard as I could, 1 push and then another. I know it may sound crazy but I really don’t remember any pain. It certainly wasn’t painless, but it wasn’t so unbearable that I didn’t want to push. We made it through that 3rd push and Jenny told us “Look at all her hair.” I looked down and could actually see our daughters hair. It was incredible. She had a lot of dark hair, just like her sister did. It came time again and Jenny, Stephen, and the nurses were cheering me on to push. I pushed as hard as I could through 2 pushes and on the 3rd I stopped. I needed a break. The nurses were all saying “Push” and I told them “Hold on. No, I need a break.” I know my body, and I knew to stay in control and keep my energy up I needed to stop, so I did. I told them “I feel like I’m going to pass out, I just need a moment to breathe”, and they all listened. Holding your breath while you push is tough. During my very first set of pushes they told me not to waste any energy on making any noise, put all your concentration and energy into your pushes. That’s what I was doing, and that’s why I needed a moment to catch my breath.

I was feeling good again and then it was time to go another round. My contraction started and I pushed as best I knew how. I remember while I was pushing I could hear Jenny saying “keep pushing, her head is almost out”, so I did just that, I kept pushing. After that contraction I looked down and saw our little girl for the first time. I remember hearing Stephen say “Cassie, she’s so beautiful” and I remember saying “Look at those cheeks!” She looked just like Sarah, except with the cutest little chunky cheeks I’d ever seen. I love that I have such a vivid first memory of seeing our daughter. Being so aware and alert just staring at her face while Stephen held my hand. Another contraction came and I closed my eyes and pushed with all the energy I had left to push with. It was during this moment that Elanor was born. It was an incredible sensation, feeling our daughter being born. I watched as Jenny had her in her hands and immediately brought her up and laid her on my chest. She had started crying while they were rubbing her off and Stephen and I just stared at her. Then, it happened. That instant and incredible love that people talk about. The one you worry you won’t have with a second child. Stephen and I both asked it…”Will we love her enough?” “How can we possibly love her as much as we love Sarah?” It’s the most amazing thing feeling that new bond while your heart fills with love for this new child. I didn’t get to experience those thoughts and sensations with Sarah, and I was so thankful that I was finally getting to have this moment.
It all happened so fast. It had been less than 30 minutes since Jenny came into the room to check on me, and we were already holding our new baby. I never would have thought that it could go by so fast.

Stephen was kissing my head and telling me how happy and proud he was. I was able to have my dream delivery, and it was far beyond anything I could have imagined. Any pain I had felt was gone. I honestly don’t remember it hurting. I know that probably sounds crazy, but it’s true. The moment I was done with that last push and they were bringing our new daughter up to our arms all I felt was joy, excitement, and love. The endorphin rush was stronger than anything I had ever felt.

While we were admiring our little girl Jenny came and gave me a hug. I loved having such an open and strong relationship with our doctor. We told Jenny exactly what we were wanting and hoping for with this delivery, and she helped us achieve just that.

I was physically ready this time. I even thought I was emotionally prepared, but anyone who’s had a child knows there is no way to prepare yourself for the overwhelming love, joy, and thankfulness that fills your heart and mind. The emotions are all there, along with feelings you can’t explain and weren’t expecting. Then, before you know it the experience is over and you have your story. The story you’ve been dreaming about for 9+ months. That, my friends, is the beginning of Elanor’s story.

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Elanors Birth Story: Part 3

It was slow, but it was something. The nurses watched the screen a bit and one of them left the room with instructions to grab a few things. Her heartbeat wasn’t as strong as it should be. She was fluctuating between 90-115 bpm.

They started by giving me something to stop my contractions. I knew this was what they needed to do, but it also had me worried it was going to completely stop my labor, like what happened with Sarah. They then started a bag to hydrate me. Because we came in first thing in the morning I hadn’t drank much or eaten anything since the night before. The nurses wanted to hydrate me and said that could help solve everything. We waited for 30 minutes while the IV bag emptied and there wasn’t any progress. Her heart rate was still low. Next they started another bag, but this one had dextrose. The thought was that some sugar/energy would cheer our girl up and have her back to normal. Skipping breakfast wasn’t like me, but that day was far from our average morning and I simply forgot to eat. Not even 5 minutes in and her heart rate was picking up. Praise God, it was working! Seems our little Elanor is like her momma and gets cranky and difficult when she’s hungry. By the time that bag finished she was back to normal. Strong heartbeat in the 150-160 range. The nurses were finally comfortable and going to give Stephen and I some time alone. They instructed me to stay me in bed a while longer, no walking or moving, giving her some more time to recuperate.

The peace and quiet was nice. I think that was the first time I took my eyes off the monitor since everything started. This whole crazy thing began at around 9:30 and I wasn’t allowed to get out of the bed until after 11:30.

When I got the go ahead Stephen grabbed the Ab ball for me so I could start moving around. There’s something relaxing and kinda fun about laboring with an ab ball. Stephen sat and talked with me while I rocked around hoping to get my contractions back and steady. After about 15 minutes on the ball I was able to start walking around again. It felt great. Things were finally getting back on track. While stuck in the hospital bed I had stopped feeling the contractions because they’re intensity had slowed way down, but based on the screen they were coming every 5 or so minutes. They were short and weak, but I was so very thankful that my body hadn’t decided to go backwards.


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At noon my midwife came in to check on us. We chatted for a bit and Jenny asked if I wanted her to check me then, or wait until she came back at about 1:30. I voted to wait. An hour and half wasn’t a long time, and I wasn’t emotionally ready to find out if I was still at a 5 like I had been earlier. I knew that if I heard I hadn’t progressed any it would be a big blow to my confidence. That, and checking for dilation isn’t exactly comfortable on a laboring woman, so getting the option to wait was nice.

It was just Stephen and I again, I was listening to Enya on my phone while walking my earlier path and started having to take bathroom breaks. Thankfully my walking path lead into the bathroom, so it was pretty convenient. After alternating between walking and the exercise ball I needed a change. We buzzed our nurse and she came and helped us get the whirlpool filled with some warm water. This was the best decision yet. I stepped into the tub and slowly lowered myself into the water. I had to lift my gown I was wearing and because the fetal heart rate monitors were waterproof I didn’t have to adjust or move them. The moment I sat down I felt instant relief. Warm water has a way of doing that, relaxing the mind and muscles. After sitting down I noticed that the jets for your back were positioned kinda weird, but the foot jet was wide open, so I sat with my back to the faucet so the jet could hit me directly where I was feeling my contractions. The water pressure was just right. I just sat there, for close to 30 minutes, listening to music with my eyes closed. Stephen would come check on me every once in a while and chat for a few minutes. I felt like I was in my own world. A world with no pain or back labor. I wasn’t feeling any discomfort during my contractions, so I stayed in there until just a few minutes before Jenny was supposed to come and check on things.

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It was just before 1:30 when I got into the bed. It didn’t take any time at all to start feeling the contractions again. They were coming fast and sitting in the bed made them pretty uncomfortable. After about 15 minutes I felt a contraction starting and asked Stephen to help relieve the pressure. He started to press on my lower back, like he had done numerous times that day, and as soon as he started to push in I told him to stop. The contraction in my lower back hurt and the extra pressure felt horrible. I had 2 contractions like this. The second one happened when Jenny was coming into the room. Stephen was telling me to remember to breathe and I was swaying sideways to relieve the extra weight on my hips. It was this moment that confirmed everything I had read and heard about laboring in a bed being the worst place possible. Jenny walked over and checked the monitors. My contactions were coming less than 2 minutes apart. She asked me how I was feeling and I told her. I felt great before I was sitting in this bed. The last 2 contractions were the most painful I had felt all day. She listened to me talk and then asked me to lay back so she could see where we were at.

Not 10 minutes before, while we were waiting for Jenny, I had asked Stephen to pray that I was a seven by now. 7cm dilated, that’s all I was hoping for. I wasn’t too tired, and things were going really well, so I was hoping to hear we had progressed some after everything with the IV’s and bed-rest from that morning.

I was laying down when Jenny started to check me and it was at that same moment that I had another contraction. It hurt like all get out. Jenny is known to help stretch you, which any laboring woman appreciates, but that doesn’t mean it’s painless, and to have a contraction at the same moment was far from pleasant. I was arching my back and squeezing Stephen’s hand, hoping to hear her say 7cm, when something completely different happened. I heard Jenny say “she’s in +2 position and over 9cm”. While I heard the words I didn’t really comprehend what she said. Not a moment later Jenny looked at me and asked me the last thing I was expecting, “So, are you ready to have a baby?”

 

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In case you missed it, here are the links to the earlier posts of the Labor Story: Part 1 &  Part 2

 

The Missing Bump(s)

Towards the end of my prengnancy with Elanor I was a massive slacker on posting pregnant belly photos. I did a great job keeping up with it while prego with Sarah, but with a crazy active toddler in the mix this go around things changed.

Soooo, while Sarah is busy today at Mothers Day Out, I figured I would use my time wisely and surprise you all with a lovely (post baby) Bump-Filled post.

These date back from the early summer until 38 weeks pregnant, the same week Elanor was born. Enjoy!

 

Week 16

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Week 20

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Week 21

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Week 23

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Week 26

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Week 27

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Week 28

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Week 32

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Week 34

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Week 35

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Week 36

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Week 37

 

… 4 days after this last photo we had our baby!

Well there ya have it. A crazy jump around of belly shots to fill your afternoon.

We now have our 2 1/2 week and 21-month old daughters to love on while we prepare for Christmas (which is somehow already just 1 week away)! We are pretty much done with our shopping, but we still haven’t put our lights up on the house :/  we might take the year off and just enjoy everyone else’s. It’s hard to get that done when it’s already pitch black outside when Stephen gets home from work. That, and Sarah wants to play with her daddy, not have him on the roof outside, unless she can join him, and that stage is probably still a few months away ;)

Have a great Tuesday!

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Elanors Birth Story: Part 1

Sitting here and trying to think how to start this isn’t easy. Putting this experience into words makes it so final. My pregnancy is over. I no longer get to feel our baby move inside my belly. It’s strange how you countdown the days to the end of your pregnancy, but then when it’s come and gone you miss it. I actually find myself wanting to rewind the clock. We prepared for months for the day we would get to meet our little girl. I take that back, I’ve been preparing and hoping for this beautiful story since my experience with our first daughter. You can read about that here if you missed it before, or just want a refresher. We’ve been looking forward to the labor and birth of our second daughter since we found out we were pregnant again. Choosing our midwife, and then building a real relationship with her isn’t something I feel prepared to give up. Reading book after book, and preparing our birth plan. We were ready this time. Ready to bring our daughter into our lives the way WE wanted. I just didn’t realize how much I hadn’t emotionally prepared myself for the after.

I’m proud, excited, and honestly a bit sad to share this with you. Writing this out is the hard truth that Elanor is no longer just my experience, she is becoming part of everyone’s story. She now decides and writes her own path. This, friends, is the start of Elanors life story…

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We were nearing the end of November and I was feeling like labor would never get here. I wasn’t due until December 11th, but with Sarah coming a week early I figured we would have the same experience this time, if not a little sooner. At my 36 week appointment my midwife, Jenny, checked to see where we stood. I was, quite unexpectedly, 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. We were shocked. She told us to make sure our bags were packed and ready and that because this was baby #2, and we lived about 40 minutes from the hospital, to watch for early signs of labor and not wait it out too long bc we didn’t want to have a baby on the side of the interstate.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say we were excited. Could the time really be this close? It was 1 week before thanksgiving and we were both hoping she’d come before December. Before December, but after Thanksgiving, to be honest. Ya, I know, we were hoping for a 1week window. Talk about crazy hopes. So we are 36 weeks along and my hopes for a pre-December birth just skyrocketed.

Five days later I had another appointment. We were at the weekly-appointments point now and because it was the week of Thanksgiving (and I was a tad bit too curious) I asked Jenny to check if I had progressed any. I was quite disappointed to find out we were at the same point as the week before. All that walking and nothing had changed. I suppose this should have been good news. Stephen had a wedding rehearsal on Friday and was performing the ceremony on Saturday. Plus, all of my family was going to be out of town for the holiday weekend. They were our Sarah-watchers while we would be at the hospital. All these things combined made for a very inconvenient week/weekend to have a baby. Thanksgiving came and no change. I hadn’t even had any Braxton Hicks contractions. Actually, according to Jenny I must have been having some bc I was 3cm, but it wasn’t anything that I had felt. I had back labor with Sarah, never a single contraction until the day I went into labor. I had no idea what braxton hicks, or regular contractions, even felt like. Back labor is a completely different experience than the other, and Jenny told me not to expect back labor this go around because it isn’t common.

Friday came and we went with our friends Brandon and Nicole to get our Christmas tree. When we got back to their place to decorate I was feeling a little crampy. I texted my friend Sara and asked her if that was normal. She gave me some tips and tidbits about what contractions feel like. Jenny explained it by pushing against my forehead with my fingers. If my stomach is as hard as a rock, or my forehead, than I’m having a contraction. These weren’t painful, but my stomach was rock hard. I asked Stephen to push on my belly and tell me if these were real and he confirmed my suspicions. Hooray, I’m finally contracting! Could this be the day? Was I going into early labor?! I helped Nicole decorate the tree and tried not to get excited. Don’t over think this Cassie. Women have contractions for weeks, even months, without going into labor. As the day continued so did the contractions. They got more frequent and a little more uncomfortable. We were headed home where Stephen was dropping Sarah and myself off while he went to the wedding rehearsal. On the way there Stephen asked what I was thinking. Should we go to the hospital? A few friends offered to come stay with me and Sarah while Stephen was gone. We decided I would stay home with Sarah and let her play outside while I walked around. If the contractions picked up I’d call him and we’d head to the hospital. Stephen left and less than an hour later the contractions were gone. Looks like we had our first false alarm. Thankfully we didn’t go to the hospital to find that out. We also discovered that Stephen had zero cell reception at the wedding location, so going into labor really wouldn’t have been good. The weekend went by and still no baby. Looks like Week37 wasn’t going to be the one.

The next Tuesday came and I went to my next appointment. I told Jenny about our false alarm and she told me she would have been there ready for me because she delivered 2 babies that Friday. She followed it by apologizing to me. She knew she had gotten our hopes up and we had all expected a baby by now. This just reaffirmed our decision to use her as our midwife. She wasn’t just the woman that was going to deliver our baby, she was a real person, and treated me like one too. I had decided I didn’t want to get checked. No point in giving ourselves false hope again. Plus, lets be honest, getting checked isn’t exactly comfortable. We went over our birth plan, she gave me some extra exercise tips. If I really wanted to get things moving it looked like I’d be doing some squats for the next few weeks. Just before leaving Jenny told us that Wednesday night was a full moon, so maybe that would bring us our baby. I appreciated her optimism.

I spent Wednesday at my parents house playing with Sarah. Like the previous few days I had some contractions on and off, but nothing painful, just that funny feeling of having a rock hard stomach. I had decided to take this time and truly enjoy my time with Sarah. It would never be just her and I again. We were fixing to bring a new family member into our home, and Sarah and my time would be different. No more uninterrupted naps on the [very rare] days Sarah would pass out next to me. Not with a hungry and breastfed baby on the way. We played outside that entire day. Sarah LOVES to play chase, so I happily obliged. Her giddy and contagious laugh makes it worth the crazy exhaustion her crazy mamma usually feels soon after, but not today. I had an extra burst of energy that day. I think it was accepting the notion that my time was now limited. After her baby sister arrived I wouldn’t even be allowed to pick up our sweet Sarah for a few weeks. I wanted to soak up every second I could, and she very excitedly obliged me :)

Stephen came to pick me up so we could head home for the evening. My parents were letting Sarah stay the night since I was coming back in the morning. No more staying at home by ourselves, you know “just in case” something happens. That was a mid-wife order. Stephen dropped me off at home and headed to church for the Wednesday service while I settled in on the couch to watch a Christmas Movie. Stephen got home a few hours later and we headed to bed. I remember sleeping really well that night. I didn’t wake up once until 5am. That’s a huge improvement compared to my usual 3-4 times a night. Stephen and I woke up and while in the shower I started to feel that same tightening in my stomach. Stephen had become my ‘contraction tester’ because sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between contraction and Elanor adjusting and pressing against my stomach. While getting ready they continued and were about 5 minutes apart, just like that Friday before, only this time I was also feeling pressure in my back. We left the house and were headed into town when Stephen decided we’d go up to the hospital just to see if these were anything more. It would be an easy thing to check before he dropped me off at my parents for the day. We called to let my folks know we’d be a bit longer. I didn’t know it at the time, but that long and precious night of rest would soon prove to be very useful.

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A Few To-Do’s

Thought I would show you a few photos of some items I have on my to-get-done-ASAP list.

With the weeks quickly passing by I am no longer able to ignore my randomly placed piles of crafts and projects that I have lying “out of reach of a toddler” around the house. Our kitchen table has been hidden under a sewing machine, empty frames, and random fabrics for far too many weeks now. It’s time to get my crafting/project/decorating list dwindled down. Let’s view a few of these items, shall we…

Nursing Shawl Fabric:

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Update: As of Tuesday we can mark this sucker off the list! I was inspired by this nursing shawl that cost a pretty hefty penny. I found the (what I think is) identical fabric at JoAnns marked down to $10, and used a lovely 25% off coupon WITH a gift card my sweet hubby got for me. So not only is this project now complete, but it was F-R-E-E!

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Next up: Initial Wall Letters

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I’m still deciding how to decorate these. My friend Ashely got us the “E” and covered it in diapers for a cute and very useful gift. I couldn’t resist going to get an S so each girl could have a letter on the wall. Now to just decide on how to cute-ify them…

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( This next one is just an inspiration picture, not one from our home )

Chalkboard frame/Bin Storage

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We have this same storage unit from Target. It is currently in the play room and I’m trying to decide if we should move it into the girls room or not. The chalkboard frame on the wall is also something I’ve been drawn towards, but not positive if I’m gonna follow through on. I guess this “To-Do” is making a decision on yes or no for both ideas…

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Most recent addition to the list…

Elanor’s Baby Blanket:

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This idea was inspired by my friend Sara. She made her daughter a blanket for the hopital and I LOVED how personalized it made all their first pictures together. This fabric is by designer Anna Maria Horner, and I just can’t get enough of her work, so I decided to bring some into our own home. Let me tell you, once you start looking up fabric online it can be addicting. I’m glad I was able to find exactly what I was looking for instead of settling for something I only somewhat liked from JoAnns. Hooray for etsy.com!

I really liked the idea of having something cool, wintery, and also warm and personal just for Elanor to have in the hospital. This go around I’d love to have pictures of our baby in the hospital with a sweet blanket, not the hospital white with red & blue lines blanket that they provide you with. It’s a warm cotton flannel, so it’ll be perfect for when we leave the hospital too. Now I just need to use my sewing machine and make it ready and put it in our hospital bag (which I should probably start packing as well…)

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Homemade Onesies:

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I have a pack of plain white onesies and some RIT dye that I’ve got to combine in a pot of hot salty water. This photo above is of a onesie I actually did finish. Let’s hope the fabric-dying goes as well as I’m hoping.

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Well there ya have it. A list of some of the things I’d like to accomplish this weekend. Let’s hope Sarah cooperates and let’s me get my craft-on. Poor girl is cutting her last 2 bottom teeth and has been a little extra clingy. Thankfully it’s the weekend so Stephen is here so she can rotate between the two of us! I sure do love the weekends!

Happy, cool weathered, weekend.

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The Truth of a Second Pregnancy

It’s hard. There, I said it. This sweet new daughter of ours hasn’t even arrived yet and I am exhausted. I’m trying to cherish this last month with just having Sarah to love on and sometimes it isn’t easy. I want to nap. Not just while she naps, but all day. What did I have to complain about when I was pregnant with Sarah? I could lay on the couch, watch movies, read books, clean and organize. Now I’m lucky if we are out of our PJ’s when Stephen gets home from work. Don’t even ask if I’ve prepared dinner, hah, that’s hilarious. Our next house it going to have a much more open floor plan. One where Sarah can be playing in the living room while I try and make us food. Otherwise she has to be in the kitchen with me and wants me to hold her. She likes to know what I’m doing 24/7. I don’t even know the last time I pee’d by myself. Is it adorable when she says “bye bye peepee” when we flush the toilet, absolutely. My sister suggested I use the bathroom as an escape whenever I have the chance. Don’t rush back, just sit and chill for a bit. If only there were a couch in there… But then I’d probably never leave. After our two miscarriages I remember thinking how selfish women were when they complained about these exact things. I guess it’s inevitable to have our selfish moments.
We have around 5 weeks left until Elanor should be arriving. When we ask Sarah to say Ella she responds with “no”, but then again no has become one of her favorite words. She loves playing mommy to her baby doll she recently got. It’s heartwarming to watch, until I see her carry the baby by the feet, sit on her, or try to play with its eyeballs. Definite things to watch out for once her sister is here. She really is going to be a wonderful older sibling. However, I think it’s smart to prepare for some tough times when Sarah wants me all to herself at the exact moment I start to nurse or change Ella’s diaper. I like to be realistic. That, and I think it’s smart to begin preparing myself psychologically and emotionally for something I really can’t fathom. 2 children. I’m sure glad we live near family right now!

This pregnancy has been similar in some ways, but VERY different from the 3rd trimester forward. I have noticed my patience is shorter, which I really don’t like. I feel bad that I can’t pick Sarah up every time she asks. I want to soak in every second I can with her, but picking her up is physically on the ‘no no’ list right now. Of course I still carry her all the time, but even that isn’t as often as she’d like. Once I feel the pinching and aching in my legs/groin the carrying is done for the day. Trying to listen to my body versus my loving toddler isn’t always easy. Like I just mentioned, I’m feeling a lot more physical changes early on. Pelvic pain sort of stuff. Don’t worry, I won’t go into it more than that. If you are pregnant, or really curious you can ask me later. My midwife told me that “you never get your 1st pregnancy back.” She was for real. Our bodies remember how to stretch, mold, and drop in preparation for what’s to come. Thankfully I’ve prepared myself a lot more this go around. I’ve done a lot of reading trying to prepare myself for childbirth. I thought I ‘researched’ birth with Sarah, but I didn’t know anything compared to what I know now. It’s funny how you except everything to just ‘come naturally’ and go into the hospital thinking ‘the doctors will know what’s best’. Wow Cassie, could you be more naive?! Thankfully I learned all of the what-nots my first go around. I know there is no way to know what will happen. Anything could. I’m just glad that Stephen and I have educated ourselves this time.

Christmas should be a lot of fun.We will have a newborn and Sarah is going to love ripping all the paper from gifts. I think her favorite thing is a bag full of Kleenex or tissue paper. She’s not even 2 so she doesn’t really need anything more (except diapers, she would loooove some diapers!) ;) I have found myself wondering how parents with a lot of children love each child enough. I know we can’t comprehend the love we will feel for Elanor until she gets here, but quality time wise – how do they do it? Maybe that’s why we all have different love languages. It’s not always easy showing our loved ones how we feel for them, especially when we give and receive so differently. Maybe it’s the same with children?!

Okay, my brain just hit a dead-end so I’ll end this with a few bump pictures.

-26′ish weeks -

- 29 weeks -

- 30 weeks -

- 31 weeks -

- 32 weeks -

- 34 weeks -

- 34 weeks -

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The last one was from Sunday. I was just under 35 weeks. I actually feel like most these pictures make me look smaller than I am, which is nice. I feel I should tell you that so when you see me waddling down an aisle in the grocery store you don’t have to do a double take, it really is me, I have officially entered waddling status.

Today was a long day. I had the unpleasant visitor of nausea. It hasn’t given me a break so I think it’s time to cherish an evening where I have the choice to turn in early. Gotta enjoy it while I can!

Less than 5 weeks to go… keep us in your prayers!

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