Monday, August 24, 2015

Joel's Birth Story

So before we get down to the nitty gritty birth business of our little Joel's big arrival, let's talk about the last month of pregnancy.

I went into this last month of pregnancy feeling like I knew what to expect.  In all physical ways, I was ready to have our baby-- bags packed by the door, including our birth pool and all supplies, a stash of freezer meals ready to go for post-baby, childcare worked out, 3rd car seat installed into the van, clothes and cloth diapers washed and ready to go.  We were ready!  ... And because I've had 2 kids before, I swore that I knew how it would go and what to expect.

What I wasn't expecting though, was that things are so different the 3rd time!  Everything is so much more pronounced, more harsh, earlier and more messy the 3rd time.  Some examples of life being pregnant with the 3rd.... 

-Braxton Hicks contractions began as early as 17/18 weeks.
-Of course many of you know how hard my battle with all day sickness was already.  With Hayden, I was in the hospital for fluids at 18 weeks.... with Joel, it was at 9 weeks, and I continued to be sick and throw up my food after I ate it until around 24 weeks.
-Sciatic nerve pain began around 34 weeks and as we neared the end, I could not sit without my butt going numb, but also couldn't lay down without extreme hip pain.
-Baby "dropped" sooner leading to a whole lot of downward pressure early on and a swagger walk like no other.
-..... And my boobs started leaking at 32 weeks....

These are just a few things, that show how much of a hot mess I was!  There's no other way to describe the 3rd pregnancy.  So anyway, I went into this last month with confidence.  Baby could come when he was ready.  I could wait as long as I needed to.  I knew what labor would be like, and I knew what signs to look for....

.... And then around 36 weeks, prodromal labor/false labor set in.  Basically I would have hours of what felt like consistent contractions and then they would stop.  The first few times, it was only about 2.5 hours or so before they halted and they would be 15-20 minutes apart.  Then at around 38 weeks, I had a night of about 5 hours of contractions getting down to 10 minutes apart.  I called Daniel home from work, we packed the last few items in the hospital bag, and then they completely stopped.  

With all of these false starts, the confidence I had went out the window.  My body was such a tease!  After being up for hours timing contractions each of these nights, I was exhausted, and I was so upset because each time, I thought it was time to meet our baby.... and it wasn't.  Not fair! Right?

The 39 week mark came and went....

.... I was bored out of my mind!  I had literally made no plans for August because "we were having a baby and I would be busy."

Then the 40 week mark came... and went.  And I honestly felt like if I reached 40 weeks, I would be disappointed.  But surprisingly I wasn't!  I was feeling really good this particular week, not as much sciatic pain because baby must have shifted or moved somehow, and I still knew that we were almost done.  The medical community frowns upon going beyond 42 weeks in pregnancy, so while I was holding out hope that he would come on his own and we would avoid induction, I also knew for sure without a doubt at 40 weeks that we would meet our baby boy within 2 weeks.  And at the end of the day, what's 2 weeks compared to 40!?

Two days past due date, my contractions came back.  Nothing regular, but after two weeks of sleepless nights with contractions and then 2 weeks of absolutely nothing, they were welcomed back regular or not.  We took it as a good sign that maybe we were on the right track.

Four days past due, I woke with regular contractions about 15 minutes apart that lasted around 3 1/2 hours.  Naturally we got excited again.... and then they stopped.  It was a fine line between being excited that things were happening, but frustrated that we were past due and still only dealing with false starts.  A repeat of weeks 36-38.  Not to mention, in my head, he was already supposed to be here.  I hadn't made any plans for the first half of August in anticipation of Joel, but I knew the end of August was approaching when small groups would start back up at church and Leeland's school group would begin.  Our family guesses for his birthday were-- Daniel the 3rd, Dana the 10th, Hayden the 11th and Leeland the 15th.  All of these had passed!  

The 41 week mark came-- officially the longest I've ever been pregnant.  I had a check in at the doctor's office where I was required to do a 2nd non-stress test.  Thankfully all checked out well.  And then I was informed that there would be no more weekly appointments.  Either they would see me at the hospital on my own accord, or an induction would occur and the hospital scheduling staff would be in touch with me soon to set that up.  Of course we couldn't let the 41 week mark pass without some excitement, so yet again late into the night, another round of about 3 1/2 hours of contractions all 10-15 minutes apart that completely halted at midnight.  My body had become such a tease!

The next morning (Thursday 8/20), the hospital scheduling staff called to let me know that my induction had been scheduled for Saturday if he doesn't arrive before then.   I got off the phone and cried.  Overwhelmed with emotion that the end was finally in view but also frustrated with my body and anxious about inducing.  (Keep in mind Leeland was an induction baby, and Hayden was not..... Hayden's birth I would do over again.... Leeland's birth, I would not.)

Then on Friday 8/21 we woke up accepting that induction would be the next day and that would just be how he came.  I was bummed that induction was necessary, and anxious about the pitocin, but also feeling ready to be done and to have our baby boy on the outside to meet him and know that he was ok.  We started the day with cleaning the house knowing that we would have guests in and out after he was born and also, I kind of like the idea of coming home to a semi-clean space.  All the while we were brainstorming how we would spend our FINAL day as a family of 4.  We were talking with the boys about doing something fun after nap time, though we weren't quite sure of what yet-- maybe catch dinner and a movie, or go play mini golf or out for ice cream.  Wherever the wind blew us.  

The boys went down for their nap, and I decided that I'd go take a nap as well.  Not unusual at this stage in pregnancy-- the last few weeks left me incredibly exhausted.  I was asleep for about an hour when I was woke up with some discomfort.  I'm not sure if the contraction is what woke me up, or if it was my usual numb hip.  Baby Joel found himself quite comfortable on my nerves in the last month, so every time I slept, I would have to wake and rotate sides like a rotisserie chicken because my hips had to take turns going numb.  So one contraction came and I thought nothing of it... 15 minutes later, another.... 15 minutes later, another.  In all honesty, after all of the teases and false starts, I really did NOT think that this was labor.  I had accepted I was being induced, so surely this wasn't labor.

After 5 contractions consistently 15 minutes apart, I let Daniel know.  The 5th was the most painful of them, which Daniel witnessed me going through and said, "I think this is it. Let's pack."

We got the boys up and dressed.  Called my parents and told them to be on standby, that they might get the boys a day earlier than we planned.  Called my midwife and explained that they were only 15 minutes apart but that it would take us an hour to get to the hospital once we got kids dropped off at my parents and drove there so we were on our way.  The midwife wasn't so sure about us coming so early and said, "Are you sure?  I don't want to have to send you guys back home."  And to be honest I was NOT sure.  I still had a month long history of false starts, I had accepted that I was being induced, and it still seemed a little early for me to tell.  What I DID know though was that I was feeling more pain this time than I had, and that Hayden's labor went very fast and with a long drive and fast labors, I needed to at least get moving in that direction if I was going to have a chance at a water birth.  

We piled in the car and got the boys dropped off and the contractions began to get a lot closer. 8 minutes apart, and then 6 minutes apart.... All the way there, I still felt unsure and kept repeating to Daniel, "I hope this is it." and, "I don't want them to send us away,  I'll be embarrassed."  

We arrived to the hospital and walked in and had to wait in the waiting room to be checked in triage.  Super duper annoying!  Just my opinion, but when a lady walks into a hospital in active labor, it's usually kind of obvious... why would you make her wait!?  So that was super awesome swaying in the waiting room doing the labor dance as a waiting room audience watched.  After about 10-15 minutes of swaying around the waiting room, I was pulled into triage for my midwife to check me out and make the call on if they were going to keep me.  By this point, contractions were becoming more intense and were closer to 2 minutes apart and all I kept telling Daniel was, "If we miss getting the birth pool set up yet again because of timing, it is SO the hospital's fault for making us wait like this."  I was getting quite frustrated, dealing with back labor, quicker contractions, daydreaming about my birth pool and yet just being told to wait....

Anyway, midwife comes in and a lie back to be checked in between contractions.  At my appointment this past Wednesday I had been 2 cm and 50% effaced. (I had been 2 cm and 50% effaced since 36 weeks actually.)  And then in triage, the midwife checked me at 4 cm and 70% effaced and said, "You're a keeper. We'll find you a room."  Immediately felt both relieved and completely overcome with emotions of all sorts.  Are you kidding me?  God is SO good!  All I kept telling Daniel was, God is good.  It was kind of humorous that only hours before our scheduled induction that I was so anxious about, we were checking into the hospital to have our baby naturally. 

We were wheeled back to a room and Daniel set out to get the birth pool set up, while I labored away bedside sitting on a birthing ball and hunched over the bed.  It was the most comfortable position I found when in labor with Hayden so I sort of assumed, it would be the best here too.... however, I didn't have back labor with Hayden and my oh my, my lower back was on fire this time around.  We were listening to the "needtobreathe" station on Pandora and in the first half hour or so in our room, I would sit up some in between contractions, but as labor progressed, my head just stayed buried into the bed.  I couldn't get comfortable with my back and I was beginning to feel more and more pressure and was starting to wonder if the pool wouldn't be set up in time yet again. (Because that's what happened with Hayden's birth.)  While I was totally silent, I know that Daniel was feeling the pressure too-- he was working SO hard to make it happen and he was facing an array of roadblocks with hoses not fitting and things not working as smoothly.  

Finally, the pool was full and ready.... and I immediately started stripping down layers of clothes, so eager to get in and hopefully find some relief to the back labor I was having.  When I stood up from the birthing ball, my water broke in a small gush and the midwife said she wanted to check me before I got in.  We weren't aware until AFTER labor... but this was about to be my midwife's very first water birth.  In order to be water birth certified, she needed someone to supervise her first water births (I think up to a certain number of them) and as it turns out, her back-up who would be supervising her lived 30 minutes away, so while we weren't aware, she was also feeling some pressure because she had her hands full with 3 patients all about to give birth and me being a water birth that she needed to call in enough time to get her back-up person there.  

... So my water broke and she checked me as quick as possible so I could get in the pool and at this point I was 7 cm.  I squatted down with my chest and arms over the side of the pool and felt another large gush of fluid and then immediately announced to the room that I was about to push.  Natural labor is such a cool thing when it comes to the pushing-- it's no one telling you when to push, and in my experience, it isn't even me doing the pushing.  It's like my body just takes over and starts pushing for me-- it's unreal.  

I blurted out a shout of "It hurts" and the next thing I knew the midwife said, "Turn around so you can hold your baby." and the little man was handed to me as I sit in the pool.  I just kept saying over and over, "He's perfect. I love him."  And he is!

As it turns out, I was only in the pool for literally 5 minutes before Joel was out, so we just barely got it up and got in.  Another testament to God's perfect timing is that the midwife never had to worry with calling the person who was 30 minutes away, as it turns out, they had just changed shifts and there was another midwife who was headed out the door home who could rush in to help in the last minute to help make my water birth (and her first water catch) possible.  

Joel Willis Kroh
August 21, 2015
9 pounds, 2 ounces and 21 inches long

His birth was such a rush and such a testament to God's love for me (and us.)  His hand was in every single detail, both the big things and the little things and His timing was absolutely perfect!  I could not imagine things unfolding more perfectly, from the timing of going into labor just hours before my induction, to getting the pool set up just 5 minutes before he was born, to my midwife and the incredible hospital staff of believers that surrounded us and encouraged us along the way.  His glory shone so bright and things worked out so perfectly like they can only do with God's hand in it. 

"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!" -Psalm 126:3

Thank you Lord for this perfect blessing! 

***If you enjoy reading labor stories and birthy details, I have more!  You can check out Leeland's birth story here and head over here for Hayden's birth story.  Each of our boys' stories a little bit different.*** 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Welcome Joel!!!

Our sweet little "overachiever" finally arrived and he's absolutely perfect.

Thank you all for the love and prayers along the way.

The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled 

with joy! Psalm 126:3 

Welcome Joel!
8:50pm on Friday August 21, 2015
9lbs, 2oz and 21 inches long.

.... Birth story to come shortly once we are settled at home. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Our School Room

Momma Kroh is at it again!  Making over rooms one by one.  I have been incredibly amazed with my motivation since becoming pregnant!  For real though.... we're coming up on the 3 year marker of living in our home and until I got pregnant, we had not painted a thing.  Not one wall!  All colors in our home have been the ones that the previous owners put there.  BUT now, I'm on my 4th room makeover, and probably the last before baby Joel makes his big debut.  Maybe we should seriously consider having a 4th child simply because we might finish the rest of the house if I had another 9 months of motivation!?  Ha!  Kidding!.... Sort of.

Anyway in anticipation of our upcoming school year, the school room was next on our list to complete and I am really happy with how it has come out!  I guess I should preface this with my thoughts on having a school room first because I know I will get some comments or questions about it.... Do I think a designated school room is necessary to homeschool?  Absolutely not!!  In fact, I never imagined that we would have space or that I would have a school room at all.  In my mind, I always pictured me and the boys surrounding the kitchen table or the coffee table in the living room to hunker down and do our work.  And that's what we have done over the last couple years with our reading lessons and pre-k work.  However, when we started rearranging rooms and some space was freed up and I remembered a certain pet peeve of mine, I knew that we could make use of a separate space for schooling.  What's the pet peeve?  .... Well, I kind of have this thing about clutter on the counters and on the kitchen table.  The kitchen is my happy place!  I can't cook without first wiping down the counters and having the dishwasher emptied.  I can't stand even having 1 piece of mail on the counter.  It drives me nuts when the boys leave toys lying around under the kitchen table.  The kitchen is Momma's domain, and the thought of having to clear the counters and the table of ALL of our schoolwork 3 times a day for us to eat just hurts.  Maybe that makes me weird... I'm not sure.  We're doing what works for us, and others can do what works for them.

So without further ado, here's what we've got for our school room so far.  This will be our first "official" year, (yay kindergarten!) so there is a big chance that some things will be added and changed along the way.

You may recognize the wall color from baby Joel's nursery reveal.  (Valspar "urban sunrise")  We just happened to have the perfect amount of paint leftover to put on the walls in here.  Hallelujah!  I was literally scraping the bottom of the paint can at the last wall.  We haven't painted trim or doors yet in here, that will come with time, but for now it's a working room.  And at the end of the day, a organized and working room is what the goal was knowing I'm throwing myself into our first school year with a newborn.

Last year I was offered two individual school desks by a family member and was intending to use those in our room up until we found out we were expecting again.  Then I got to thinking and switched gears a little bit knowing that in the upcoming grammar years how important it will be for me to sit WITH the boys as we school.  So we went with two "linnmon table tops" from Ikea with matching legs and pushed the two table tops together to make a larger table.  (Big enough for at least 4)  They can be separated later on to act as desks if we like when the boys get older.  The chairs at the table are ones that we already had-- gifted to us with our kitchen table.  We only keep 4 chairs at the kitchen table except when we have company and add in the leaf to the table, so these 4 chairs have been stashed in closets when they aren't in use.  (So anytime other than holidays.)

This piece of furniture above is a TV stand that came with our living room furniture years ago.  It has never been used as a TV stand because our TV is hanging on the wall but has been used the last few years as toy storage in our living room.  But now that I'm no longer keeping extra kids and our boys are bigger and play independently and clean up after themselves, the toys can now all stay in their rooms for them to get out and put away on their own.  The sliding doors have curricula and books stored in them and the white bins have school supplies, math manipulatives, and our timeline cards.  (Oh! And tin whistles stashed for now out of view of little children who want to make racket with them.)

On the far wall, dry erase boards, and this really cool "Ikea Dignitet" which apparently is a wire curtain hanger, but we are using to hang our timeline cards.  Or it can be used to hang art work and school assignments.  We purchased the clips and hooks that are made to go with it, but clothespins could also be used.  

Another large map on the right wall.  We've got the world map on the left wall and the US on the right wall.  The large laminated maps came from Costco last year, though I did see that they had some recently as well.  Very good quality maps and they are massive!  The boys are loving them and asking billions of questions.... and I have to admit that I am loving them too.  Who can resist a map!?

Maybe I went a little map crazy, but when I saw this duck fabric at Hobby Lobby, I couldn't resist, so we've got more maps and some airplanes for our curtains.  

And then on the final (back wall) we've got a large bookshelf that we already owned that is currently full of board games and puzzles.  And then we also purchased the "Ikea Mala" easel which is chalkboard on one side and dry erase board on the other.  I'm hoping the easel will encourage some handwriting and letter writing practice amongst the boys.  

.... And that's it!  So far is pretty simplistic--just the necessities and a little bit of organization.  More decor may come with time, but for now it is one more thing scratched off of my list and I can feel a little bit more confident going into our school year with a newborn that we are organized and ready.  We are ready and excited and I have prayed so much over this room and the learning and growth that will take place in it.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

1st and 3rd Difference

Just some subtle (and not so subtle) differences I've noticed between our very first pregnancy (which began about 6 years ago) and our current pregnancy with number three.  Maybe some of these ring true for you too? ... and maybe not.  Maybe some of them will give you a giggle this fine Tuesday.

1. First pregnancy, you belted it from the roof tops at the very first sign of the extra pink line that you were pregnant. Seriously, we were only about 6 or 7 weeks along when we literally announced to the whole world (or at least all of our social media followers) that we were expecting.  Third pregnancy, we didn't even tell our FAMILY that we were pregnant until we we were 13 weeks along.

2. First pregnancy, you received thousands of congratulatory texts and calls.  Your family and friends  were borderline annoying because they were driving you absolutely batty asking you 100 bazillion questions about how things were going and how baby was doing every 5 seconds.  Third pregnancy, people start to wonder if "you know what makes this happen".... I've never thought of 3 as a lot of kids, but suddenly being pregnant with a 3rd child, people look at me as if I have five eyes.  Not so much excitement!

3.  First pregnancy, the husband was at EVERY single doctor's appointment.  Including the ever so awkward ones where a male doctor had to "check" things in the Netherlands.... Third pregnancy, the husband has made it to one appointment--the big anatomy ultrasound of course.  For one, someone has to stay back at home to watch our first 2 rug-rats, and for two, you learn that the appointments are really not all that interesting.

4.  First pregnancy-- the baby registries!  Oh the baby registries... we had registries at 2 different stores, but I know people who have had more than that, and we also had 3 different baby showers.  SOOO much baby stuff!  And you don't do the registry on your own, you drag your husband with you even though he has NOT the slightest clue what any of these baby items you are registering for are.  Third pregnancy, you know better.... you know that more than half of the baby gadgets that are marketed to you are completely unnecessary because you took them all to the consignment store new and unopened shortly after your first was born.  You also most likely are not having a baby shower, so you're a savvy shopper hitting sales and only buying what you actually NEED.  (again... people are a little less excited.)

5. First pregnancy, you are on a first name basis with your doctor or midwife because you call them so many times.  (OR, if you aren't calling them, you show up to your appointment with a notepad of questions you have written down throughout the week.)  There are so many unknowns, and while you are reading every single "what to expect", "week by week," book that exists and have every single pregnancy info and tracker app on your phone, you STILL need to be sure that what you are doing is right.  Third pregnancy, baby will be fine..... surely he will be fine.

6.  First pregnancy, you absolutely did NOT eat lunch meat, hot dogs, sushi, or seafood.  You wouldn't even smell it!!  Third pregnancy, when you're craving sushi, you go get it.  And when you're feeling too lazy to make that salad at lunch time, you toss some sliced turkey meat on some white bread and you have at it.  Because surely he will be fine.

7.  First pregnancy when asked about your birth plan, you have a five page essay of all the possible scenarios that could potentially come up in delivery.  You do NOT miss a thing!  You've spent hours upon hours researching every single item in all of those books you have been reading.  Third pregnancy, the birth plan is "push baby out.".... You know the drill by now. You've done it twice already so it's just time to keep it simple.... just two words, "have baby" sounds like a great birth plan.

8.  First pregnancy, you CANNOT wait to have this baby.  You are so focused on that estimated due date and so focused on making time FLY.  You crave and need time to go by fast because you want that baby RIGHT NOW!  (In fact, looking back I sort of kick myself for rushing things along and not relishing.)  Third pregnancy, you know at the end you have a baby that cries and poops and pees and wants to eat around the clock.  You also know that you have two other kids that run and scream and eat around the clock.  It's much easier to take care of baby "on the inside."  Not so much a rush to get to the date anymore the third time around, baby can stay in there as long as he/she wants.

9.  First pregnancy as you near the end, you show up to the doctor's office at every single tiny twinge of pain.  Everyone says, "you'll know" when you are in labor, but you haven't the slightest clue what a contraction feels like, and again, in your head time will fly and time HAS to fly because you are so ready for this baby whether your body really is or not.  (Confession, I went to the women's hospital twice the last week of pregnancy with the first practically begging to be admitted and I was not in labor.)  Third pregnancy, you know the drill.  In fact, you might barely make it to the hospital because you spent more time at home than you probably should have.  You knew you were in labor, and you knew your birth plan was simple, just "have baby."

10.  AND last, but certainly not least.... First pregnancy, you couldn't imagine loving a tiny little human SOOO much!!  You're attached from the start of the extra pink line on the test and you are absolutely smitten and so thankful that God has blessed you with this tiny little heart to love on and enjoy as he/she grows.  And when baby finally makes his/her debut, you are speechless and in awe and SO in love! ..... Third pregnancy, you couldn't imagine loving a tiny little human SOOO much!!  You're attached from the start of the extra pink line on the test and you are absolutely smitten and so thankful that God has blessed you with this tiny little heart to love on and enjoy as he/she grows.  And when baby finally makes his/her debut, you are speechless and in awe and SO in love!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Beach Fun!

We were blessed to have two adventures to the beach this Summer... and obviously with baby Joel's due date closing in, it will be the last beach adventures of the Summer.  (Though we haven't ruled out a Fall trip with baby in tow.)

Anyway, our first trip was at the end of May to Myrtle Beach in SC with some friends of ours.  We went with them last year as well and it was a good time together-- the kids have fun playing and the adults get to relax and hang out.  Naturally since I'm pregnant, one of my sole goals while there was to find good eats and this year they were certainly found!  There are some new (and old) restaurants that are now added to my vacation list so that we can visit them again in the future.

There was a definite LACK of pictures this year.  Part of that is the boys flat out refusal to participate in many, and a big part of that was me leaving the camera behind in the room.  I can't deny that I feel a little guilty about it and will be kicking myself at the end of the year when I'm putting together our annual end of year photo album... BUT at the same time, it also means that I was enjoying the moments live and relaxing a little bit too and I can't feel too bad about that. Right?

The next trip was the end of June to visit Daniel's mom on the NC coast for a weekend.  She moved East last year, and while it's nice to have a coastal connection, we GREATLY miss her here and love to soak up any quality time that we can get together.  It was a much awaited trip with countdowns beginning for the boys three weeks out.

We tried to pack in as much fun as we could into the weekend, and also included some more good eats of course too!

We went to the aquarium, which was really cool because we happened to arrive on an afternoon that they had divers in the aquarium teaching us about the sharks and fish.  AND it also happened to be shark feeding day which only happens twice a week!

We swam at Grandma's pool, and also went to see the movie "Inside Out".

... And we spent a day on the beach!  No shark sitings thankfully.  The closest we got to a predator was a sand crab that I almost sat on trying to take pictures of the boys. Ha!  That would have been a nice vacation story. 

These trips were SUCH a blessing!  There was a time when we went years with absolutely NO vacation, so to be able to head to the beach twice this Summer, we feel absolutely spoiled and lots of wonderful memories were made.  Now however as I near the 35 week mark, we will be sticking close to home and waiting on baby Joel to make his big debut.... still soaking up as much sun as we can though!  Hope you all are being spoiled by the Summer as well!