Saturday, August 19, 2017

Evelyn's Birth Story

So I should preface this post that it will have some "birthy" details and if you aren't into that sort of thing, you may just want to scroll through and look at the pictures and move on.   These are the stories though that years from now, I love to look back on and read and I've written them out for each of the kiddos, so why stop now.  

If you're also the type to be into the birthy details, here are links to the boys's stories should you be so inclined to check those out too.


It's funny, if you have ever been in the position of expecting a little one before, you hear it all the time that "every pregnancy is different."  And this pregnancy was definitely different.  I blogged about it previously when we were awaiting the big anatomy ultrasound to find out if we were expecting a little boy or a little girl.  So I shouldn't be shocked that labor was a bit different also.  (And subsequently my feelings about labor being different too.)

So let's start as we were nearing the end.  Of course as you get towards the end, you get down to the once a week appointments and things suddenly feel so real.  I'm not sure what it is about the weekly appointments bringing out the realization that a baby is coming and is coming fast.  (Because you know, you haven't had 8 months previously to prepare for this sort of thing, right?)  So in the past as we neared the end, I denied cervical checks because I just didn't want to know really.  I think I learned with the excitement of expecting Leeland that the cervical checks were more of a disappointment than a help.  At the end of the day, you can walk around a few centimeters dilated for weeks and nothing happen, OR you could go from 0 to 10 in a matter of hours, so why bother being checked.  But for whatever reason, at my 39 week appointment, I decided to go ahead and get checked.   Probably curiosity as I had some prodromal labor again in the last weeks just as I had with Joel.  On top of that, I was feeling hopeful that the end was near as my body was just feeling DONE.  So at 39 weeks and 2 days, I was 2 centimeters dilated, 60% effaced and baby at a -1 station.  The midwife followed up with the big question of, "do you want your membranes stripped?" and I said "sure."  

Now, not that I need to explain myself here, but I will go through some of the things that I was feeling as we neared the end.  I'm typically not the person to want an intervention-- I like for things to run their course and try the best I can to do things naturally.  I don't even take medication or do anything when I have a headache.   But with that said, I was really struggling this go round.   Some of this was physically-- I was having LOTS of back pain, and not getting much sleep at all because of it.  And some of it was mental-- I had tested positive for group B strep for the first time ever, and on top of that I have a history of hemorrhage after birth and with the last two labors going so quick, I was mentally and emotionally fearful that we would not make it to the hospital in time for the antibiotics I needed and that I would bleed out.  Irrational?  Maybe!  But if there was ever a time to get away with being completely irrational, isn't it at the end of pregnancy? (Ha!)  

So here we are, 39 weeks, 2 centimeters, baby low and had my membranes stripped.  I had my membranes stripped when I was pregnant with Joel also, but it didn't happen until I was 41 weeks.  With Joel, that late in the game, it was only a couple days later that labor began, so I sort of thought that maybe, just maybe, we would be in labor by due date.

Instead, 40 weeks came, and baby was still just as cozy as could be.  More prodromal labor in the days that followed having my membranes stripped, but nothing productive and contractions always subsided within an hour or two.  

40 week bump
My next midwife appointment was at 40 weeks and 2 days.  To say that I went in feeling defeated is an understatement.  I knew that I had went way over due before.  (Joel was 9 or 10 days past due date.)  BUT I just wasn't feeling it this time.  The midwife asked that I do a non-stress test so that we could check on baby to see that all was well being past due, which Evelyn and I passed with flying colors.  Then once I got into the exam room with the midwife, I lost it a little bit.  (Remember, I can totally get away with being irrational at this point, right?)  Amongst the tears, I expressed my fears-- I felt like with each pregnancy labor had only gotten faster, and with the GBS and hemorrhage history I was scared.  Also let's not forget that Joel was over 9 pounds and the thought of another giant baby just didn't sound great to me.   Add to that the feeling that my body was just drained, and I was ready to be done.  Totally different attitude from being pregnant with Joel.  I went late with him which was frustrating, but I held myself together with him and was more than willing to let nature run it's course for as long as it would take or I would be allowed..... And now here I was, crying to the midwife and begging for them to induce me.  I hate pitocin, and yet here I was begging for it.   

At the midwifery practice that I go to, they won't let you be induced prior to 41 weeks unless it's out of medical necessity.  They didn't feel that any of my reasons for wanting an induction were out of necessity and they sent me home saying that they would be in touch with the 41 week induction date. I went home frustrated, and anxious.  At this point when we got the call about the induction appointment, I was almost hoping that baby would hold out for the induction.  They set it for Monday the 14th which would have been exactly 41 weeks, and I know that it sounds totally crazy for me to want to stay pregnant until then, but the fears were real.  Even as a person who tries to live life as naturally as possible, I know that there are times when medical intervention is needed and when you've heard nurses talk about just the possibility of a blood transfusion after having your previous baby, it plants a seed and a fear for the next one for sure.  

Fast forward, the next couple of days went by so slowly and Daniel and I both felt like I was some sort of ticking time bomb.  More contractions here and there but never closer together than 15 minutes and always ending within an hour.  Daniel stayed home from work for the week thinking that he wanted to be close by in case of a quick labor, and we finalized "on call" plans for kid care.  It mostly just felt like our life was on hold as we didn't make any plans or go much of anywhere.  

So Saturday night around 9pm contractions began again.  They were regular at 15 minutes apart, but they weren't painful at all.  Just enough to feel uncomfortable and frustrated.  Honestly by this point because this had been happening off an on for weeks, I didn't consider it being the real deal.  Plus, induction was set for Monday and family and kid care had been set and ready for Monday.  I timed them for an hour or so and paced the living room some, and then we decided that I would go try to get some rest.  This could be a tease, or it could be real and either way, I would need some sleep.  I closed my eyes for about an hour and woke to a contraction that was more painful.  Still in denial that this was going to be real, I went to the bathroom, and came back to bed to change positions and get more comfortable.   Within 15 minutes, another came.  And after another 15 minutes, another.  While these were more uncomfortable than the last, I still wouldn't say that this was the worst pain so I still had some doubts about them being the real deal.  I got up and came out to the living room to tell Daniel that I had been timing them and wasn't so sure. (It was around midnight.)

Within the hour, they began to get more intense. BUT what threw me was that with the intensity growing, the timing got a little chaotic.  I've always known labor contractions to be in regular intervals and moving closer together, but here I was getting one at 15 minutes, then a 12, then a 17, then a 10 etc.  They were gaining in intensity and pain, but I was having a hard time timing them.   Upon Daniel's insistence, we went ahead and called my Step Mom and packed the car with my bags.  It was 1:30am when we made the call, and my Step Mom arrived to our house right before 2am for us to hop in the car and go.  By the time we were on the road, contractions were coming every 5-6 minutes and felt much more like the real deal for sure.  

Once we arrived to the hospital and got checked in, we were ushered to triage to be checked and for the decision to be made on whether they would "keep" me.  The nurse checked my cervix at 4cm and there were signs that I had my "bloody show."  We waited in triage as contractions were coming every 4-5 minutes.  I spent much of the time hunched over the bed while Daniel rubbed my lower back.  I had been complaining of back pain the majority of the pregnancy, and here I was in labor and feeling it ALL in my back.  The nurse got my IV of antibiotics going for the GBS and we waited on word of getting a room.  It turns out that it was a busy night for the hospital staff and at one point the room that they were about to give us was given away to another patient who had just walked into the hospital at 9 centimeters.  It took about an hour and a half before I was put in a wheelchair and wheeled to a delivery room ready to have this baby.  I was in pain, but I was feeling confident that we had made it to the hospital and that the IV had been started.  

Once we got to the room, Daniel started some music for me on his phone and got me a birthing ball that I could sit on and hunch over the bed.   I sort of assumed this position because it was the one that was most comfortable with Joel.... but little did I know that that labor would be not only a bit different, but it would also be the hardest one yet.  There's some confidence going in to having your 4th child that you can conquer it because you have before, but she was definitely the most difficult and most painful of all.   (Also at some point once we got there, I was checked again and was now at 6 centimeters.)

As I continued to complain about my back pain, the nurses thought that a new position would be most helpful.  They expressed they they thought looking at my belly and hearing my pain that she might be crooked or laying funny and that might be what was causing the pain to be in my back so much.  They arranged some pillows and helped to get me rolled into the bed and into an "exaggerated SIMS" position which is part of the miles circuit.  While my back was still hurting with contractions, I appreciated that this took some pressure off my legs and arms and I was no longer holding myself up and wearing myself out.  As things continued to get more intense though, I began with the "I can't."  

Typically the "I can't" phase is pretty common for transition and I had given Daniel specific instructions to not let me give in to an epidural which he expressed to the nurses.  While I argued with them about what I could handle, they did their best to accommodate me and also keep me on course and I was offered some fentanyl via my IV.  The nurse explained that I would still feel contractions, it would only take off the edge and that it would only last a short time.  (Apparently she specifically said about one hour, and I missed that detail but it was told to me later after Evelyn was born.)  The fentanyl was a blessing.  I could definitely still feel the contractions, but I was able to shut my eyes laying there in the exaggerated SIMS position and rest my body just a little bit.  This was the first time that I had ever been in labor in the middle of the night, and everyone who knows me, knows how much I cherish my sleep so to say that I was wiped out and exhausted by this point is an understatement.  

I wasn't aware that the fentanyl was wearing off at this point, but after an hour or so, the contractions got more intense, and felt like they were coming in rapid fire, and I was feeling pressure like I might have to use the bathroom.  The nurses assumed my request of asking to use the bathroom could be a sign that we were ready to push and had me hold off to be checked.  I was 8 centimeters and incredibly uncomfortable no matter how I moved.  I got situated on all 4's with the bed upright and hanging on to the top of the bed, but even this was not ideal.  The back pain was unbearable, and my arms felt so weak from sheer exhaustion.  The next little bit is kind of a blur for me because the pain had totally taken over, but at some point around here my water broke, but I was told that my cervix still didn't seem open and ready.  However, as I was basically barking at the nurses about my back and the pressure I was feeling, they knew it would happen soon.  (Bless all of you labor and delivery nurses who have to be so kind and patient in times such as this when you're basically being growled at!)  

The nurses called my doctor in to get his thoughts.  I was just so tired at this point, and my back couldn't bear much more.  He agreed that even though we weren't completely "systems go" that we could try to push just a little bit to see if things would open up.  I gave a push on the next contraction, and they found that my water hadn't broken entirely and so they proceeded to clear that out of the way in hopes that it would open the cervix further.   Gave another push on the next one and the nurse made a comment along the lines of "if he needed to step out", to which he replied with, "No, we are about to have a baby any minute."  A few more growls and possibly a scream along with the next two contractions (and pushes) and our little Evelyn was out!  

She was placed on my chest immediately and after a minute or two, Daniel cut her umbilical cord.  
It was 6:09am.  



She had finally arrived, and the pain was all worth it.  And I totally apologized to my nurses.  They really were awesome!  And here we were with our little lady, the day before our induction was scheduled.  God's timing is definitely better than ours, and of course I should have remembered this from when Joel arrived the day before his scheduled induction.  

Evelyn Susan
7 Pounds, 10 ounces and 21 inches
Born August 13th. 






Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Cherished Gift

My Mother passed away when I was a child long before she got to meet any of her grandchildren. I think about her often and wonder how life would be if she were still here, or what she might think about her daughter getting ready to have her 4th child.... but also know how much missing her has shaped me, grown me and taught me how short this life really is.

Daniel and I agreed that if we were ever blessed with a little girl (which we honestly didn't think would happen) we would give her the middle name Susan after my Mother. When I found out a couple months ago that my Mother's wedding gown was still around, I was thrilled and knew it needed a purpose other than sitting in a box and set out to make Evelyn a little something with some pieces.  

This is Evelyn's dedication gown. The dress and bonnet itself is a gift to Evelyn from my Step Mother and my Dad. And I chose to embellish it with lace trim from my Mom's gown. A perfect blend of both old and new, and a cherished gift because of each of the hands that took part in it-- the dress my Mother wore 35+ years ago, that was kept by my Granny for so many years, the hands of my Dad and Step Mother for gifting us with something new specifically for this precious little girl on the way. And my own hands that sewed it all together. It isn't perfect sewing. And after being stored for so many years, while the lace brightened a lot, it isn't perfectly white as it once was.... BUT, it's the perfect gift for Evelyn. And I foresee that it will be a cherished gift for many years to come.






With lots of lace and embellishments left in the wedding gown, I'm still brainstorming other ways to use it to make keepsakes for my sister and I and even a little something for my teenage niece.... but for now, I'm just completely smitten with this dress that is so small, and yet so big too!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Train Table Makeover

Well, I have no idea why it took us 3 boys to get there, but it seems we have one "choo choo" obsessed little man on our hands these days.  I have no doubt there will be a Thomas birthday party post coming in the next couple months!  When a used train table popped up on one of the local buy/sell/trade pages on Facebook recently at a decent price, we decided that we would hop on it knowing that it would make all of Joel's dreams come true.  (And of course the big boys would be thrilled too.... they just aren't quite obsessive as the little guy currently is.)

The table came to us in used condition and was priced as such, so naturally I wanted to give it a little facelift before we brought it into our living room.  Here's what it looked like before--



More off white than white, and several scuffs along the tops and the sides, but nothing that a little paint couldn't correct.  I had the man of the house sand it all down for me so that I could get to work.  We already had some no VOC white paint that we have used on some previous projects so we stuck with keeping the table itself white.  Then after he sanded down the table top, I used some acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby to paint a more traditional train table "scene" on top.



Once the scene was set, I passed the baton to the man for the poly coat.  The only downside to pregnancy is feeling a little helpless in situations such as these when I'm not "allowed" to complete the project that I want to do.  I have this little bit of impatience about me and I like for things to be checked off of my list.  Surely I'm not alone?  .... Once the poly had a couple days to set and dry in this NC humidity, we brought the table in for the big reveal.  The big kids knew that we had the table, knew what it was and knew that we had painted it.  HOWEVER, Joel was clueless as to what this large piece of furniture hanging in our garage was, AND the big boys had no idea that I snagged some really awesome train tracks, trains and accessories at a great price from a friend to complete the package.  Here's a peek of it all moved in--



Look, no large scuffs all over the sides anymore!  And of course a drawer full of trains because the trains overfloweth. 



And the reveal to the kiddos will put a smile on your face today-- 
.... That sweet tiny voice saying "choo choo" and taking it all in.  That's what we hear most of the day whether it's begging for Thomas to be played on the TV, telling us to "rea" one of his Thomas books to him, or it's just lining up cars, boxes or buckets to make them a choo choo.  I think I have a feeling of how the boys will spend their day today and it's been fun watching them liven up and imagine together around the table this morning. 


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

End of the School Year


Another school year has come, and has gone as quickly as it came.  We are super proud of our two biggest boys and all of the hard work they have put in this year-- the biggest kid, Leeland has completed first grade, and Hayden preschool including his first Classical Conversations experience.  

We wrapped up our year of Classical Conversations with our community in April doing end of year presentations and receiving certificates. 




Leeland's class taught us about the different biomes for their end of year presentation and specifically he had a little blurb about the grasslands.  Hayden's class sang us one of their history sentences about the crusades!

Here's just a little snapshot of some of what they have learned this past year in cycle 2 of CC.


We've spent May wrapping up the last of our first grade math lessons, doing our very first standardized test to meet state homeschool requirements, and having a few fun days here and there to get excited for Summer.  (PS.  Have to brag a moment-- I am blown away by how well the big kid did on his first test!  I'm almost ashamed to admit how anxious I was about this test after seeing his scores.)

I still remember when this homeschooling idea was just a thought and had so many fears attached to it, and now here we are doing it.  Do I still have fears and failures?  Absolutely!  No hesitating in that answer.  I'm no super human, but it brings me so much joy to be alongside these kiddos watching them grow and watching them learn.  And I've said it before, and will say it again, I often feel like the Lord is teaching me SO much more than them. 

Here's a little peek at the biggest on his first day of first grade...

.... and now Leeland's last day of first grade. 


And Hayden on his first day of preschool (k4)....

... And last day.  Next year he'll be a big kindergartner! Eek!

It hasn't all been smooth sailing.  We've had some amazing days, we've had some really hard days, and we've had a whole lot of in between days but I still wouldn't change a thing.  These two kiddos are pretty amazing.  We are proud and we are blessed!  Can't wait to see what next year holds for our now 2nd grader and kindergartner, but for now we are celebrating with cake at the big kid's request!




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Baby Evelyn's Nursery

You had to know that when we broke down our school room a few weeks ago that a nursery post would be coming soon.   It never fails that I turn into a little bit of a crazy lady when I'm pregnant and frantically insist on checking items off of my list that I  have made up and convinced myself that I "need" to do.  The odd part of all of the shenanigans is that this is my 4th child and the realist in me knows that she doesn't actually need anything and that if she is anything like her bigger brothers, there's a very real possibility that she won't even use a nursery for the first year.  BUT, the nursery is so fun to put together.  AND it's a great place to store all of her sweet little clothes, and diapers we have been given..... and I mean, if we are really honest, this is my first time bringing girly things into our home so that was just plain fun.

Here's just a few shots since we are pretty much done-- no theme.  Just pink, and lace and flowers and girly things.



Hard to see in photos, but the curtains have little white polka dots and a lace trim to them.  I enjoyed making those. 


The desk above has been around for YEARS.  But sand it and put a fresh coat of paint and it looks new.  For now it serves as a changing table, but I have visions of it becoming a place where she can sit and read or journal.  Or maybe throw in a shabby chic fuzzy topped stool and call it a little make-up vanity.  


For some reason her room just didn't seem complete to me without adding in some sort of floral, so the grapevine wreath was put together and added in very recently.  


You might notice that we are missing a major piece of furniture in her room.... the crib.  That's because Joel is still using it.  For now her rock & play sits in it's place.  You can check out my post of  Joel's nursery here to see what the crib looks like.  It's a hand-me-down crib we received from a friend that we painted mint green, so once it's in, it will tie in the mint green to all of the pink.  

I have never had one of these fancy rock & plays with any of the kids but I hear people love them.  Amazon had a great deal back in January which is how we ended up with the self rocking one.  I hope she likes it!



Letters were purchased at Hobby Lobby along with the two hangers with knobs that they are hanging from.  I covered the letters in mismatched scrapbook paper with mod podge.




I LOVE LOVE LOVE this print that we ordered from All Good Things Collective  and to be quite honest the pictures taken in her room on a cloudy, rainy day don't do it justice.  It really ties in a lot of the colors in her room and it's just really pretty to me.  They had a great sale code back when they launched their new site and I scooped it up then.  I made the poster holder with some pine wood and magnets.  There's two pieces of wood at the top sandwiching magnets and two pieces at the bottom sandwiching magnets to hold it straight and then all tied up with some lace ribbon. 



This is my spot!  I go in her room and sit and rock often.  This chair has stains and isn't necessarily the right color for the space, but this is the same chair that I have rocked 3 precious boys with.  And in fact, Joel often comes back to her room to find me and still likes to rock in it.  I can't wait to rock and nurse this sweet baby girl.  I've got my Boppy and basket of burp rags at the ready already! Haha!    11 or so weeks to go. 


Sweet little jackets on hooks by the door, and the rack I purchased at Micheals.  I've got some crocheted hats and bonnets ready for her on the bottom and some bows up top, just need to get the little gal some headbands to throw in that middle spot. 


Finished crocheting her baby blanket yesterday.  I've crocheted a blanket for each of our babies and I really like how this one turned out-- a shell stitch of light pink, pink, mint, and ivory and then a ruffly  light pink border all around.  I still have the blanket that my Granny crocheted for me when I was a baby and I hope each of our kids keeps theirs for years to come. 


Large decorative sign hanging over the rocker,  I purchased at Hobby Lobby for our little gal. 

That's all there is to it.  Nothing extravagant, but I love it.  The hope is that it is decor that will grow with her for a little while.  And now that this big item is checked off of my list, I can relax, right?  Probably not-- my next big to-do to check off of my list is stocking the freezer with meals for postpartum life and that will mean a few days on my feet in the kitchen.  But for now, it's a rainy, gloomy day and I might just grab a book, and prop my feet up in that rocking chair because it just looks too cozy.