Monday, May 21, 2012

Tessa's Story

I'll tell you right now, this is a bit of a long read, and is more "graphic" in nature, obviously, since it's about delivering a baby, so feel free to stay and read our story, or skip this post if you're not interested in the details ;-)  As I begin this post, we are waiting for Tyson and Jersey to come back home from Robin's parent's house.  I'm sure the draft will take multiple attempts, and maybe even a few days before I actually get it done, but I wanted to recount our last few days welcoming our 3rd child into our family, and what a wonderful birthday she had!  I probably have about 5 more minutes of "calm before the storm" when the kids get here...but at least I can get started.  Where to begin?
Last pregnant shot - 38.5 weeks!
My first two pregnancies I had to be induced.  With Ty, my water broke 5 days before my due date but I did not go into labor, so they had to induce me.  With Jersey, my amniotic fluid got too low and they needed to induce her 10 days early.  Having been induced both times before, my prayer and the desire of my heart was to NOT be induced this time, and go into labor on my own.  That being said, I was also terrified of laboring at home since I had never done it before, and I was worried that I wouldn't know when to go to the hospital, etc (which was a legitimate concern since the Dr.'s kept telling me my labor would go quickly since I was already dilated and it was my 3rd baby).  Our previous two experiences were very long days at the hospital, starting antibiotics for Group B Strep which I needed to get for 4 hours before even starting pitocin to induce me.  Long, boring hours and hours at the hospital, stuck in the uncomfortable bed, hooked up to IV's and monitors.  By the time labor actually started, it felt like we'd been there forever, but we were just beginning...  This time I was hoping to labor at home for a while before going to the hospital so that we would only be there for "the big show" and not spend so many hours beforehand being poked and prodded and stressed out :)

This last Wednesday, the 16th, I went to my 40 week Dr. appointment (a first for me!).  I was dilated 4.5 cm, 90% effaced (sp?), and the Dr. said basically "in labor without being in labor." This was not surprising to me since I had been having increasing contractions since...I don't know, as long as I can remember?  I think they started around 28 weeks.  The last few weeks I had been having sporadic but strong contractions all throughout the day, regular contractions in the evenings, and had been woken up in the night with false labor 3 times (strong contractions 2-3 minutes apart, for a few hours...until they turned into, nothing).  My Dr. was just as surprised as Robin and I were that I hadn't had the baby yet considering how much "action" I'd had going on for so many weeks!  At my appointment I had an ultrasound to measure the baby's growth and compare it to 3 weeks prior.  Her growth/percentile had gone down a bit before, so they wanted to make sure everything was still okay towards the end.  They also needed to check my amniotic fluid levels since they had gotten so low with Jersey.  My fluid was fine, and most of Tessa's measurements were fine (30th percentile) except for her abdomen/stomach had dropped to the 8th percentile - not so good.  Once it's below the 10th they like to induce since it can mean she's not getting enough nutrients from the placenta, etc.  So after lots of discussion with the Dr. (who knew I really really didn't want to induce this time), she had to recommend inducing me the next day because of Tessa's measurements, and also thinking about the fact that I was 4.5 cm dilated she was worried I may not make it to the hospital in time since I had other kids at home to think about, and it was a bit of a drive to the hospital.  On top of that, being a Group B Strep carrier, there was no way I would make it there to get the antibiotics needed before delivery so I didn't pass the infection to the baby.  All of these factors played in to scheduling an induction for 6:30 am on Thursday morning (the 17th, my due date).  I was disappointed, but hopeful that they could try just breaking my water at the hospital after 4 hrs of antibiotics and maybe I would still go into labor on my own without having to take pitocin.  I wasn't heartbroken or totally devastated, considering I was kind of used to this happening before, but I was pretty disappointed that even with a 3rd pregnancy I wouldn't be able to go into labor on my own.  Being induced also made the thought of "going natural" in labor sound too daunting, once again...

So, Robin and I put the kids to bed Wednesday night, and then proceeded to finish packing our stuff, clean the kitchen, do some laundry, and then we sat down for a last ice cream/TV session before bed ;-)  I had noticed that I was having stronger contractions than usual (probably from running around trying to get everything ready!), but kept putting it out of my head because this had happened many times before, they never amounted to anything, and I had mentally resigned myself to being induced in the morning.  Well, after sitting on the couch eating ice cream for 20 minutes, I stood up to go upstairs to the master bathroom and my water broke!  I believe I said something along the lines of, "Oh shit! My water just broke!"  Which, if you know me at all, I don't swear, so that shows how shocked I was.  Then I kept laughing hysterically when Robin bolted out of his chair and started running around throwing stuff together like I was going to drop the baby on the floor right there!!  I'm laughing now remembering...  I think I was so in shock that all I could do was laugh.  Well at that point we knew we had to really hurry because my Dr. told me to just "get in the car and go" if my water broke or I thought I was in labor.  With how far I had already progressed, getting to the hospital right away was very important - I'm glad she instilled a healthy fear in me, because I had this great plan in my head of laboring at home for a while....bad idea for me.  One of our neighbors had offered to come over and stay at the house if we needed to go to the hospital in the middle of the night and didn't have time to wait for my in-laws to get there.  She came over and we left for the hospital about 10:30 pm.  A funny memory that stands out from those moments is Robin chewing a piece of gum, and chewing it like his life depended on it.  Kind of wide-eyed, throwing things in the car, and just chowing on a piece of gum like he was taking all of his stress out on it.  I even told him how funny it looked once we were in the car.

I have to tell you, in it's own paragraph, just how amazing it was that things turned out as I just described.
1) we had just finished packing and getting the house in order since we had an induction scheduled.  So when it was "go time" all of a sudden, we were totally ready!
2) Robin's parents were planning to come to our house at 6 am the next morning to be there when the kids got up, so they had a chance to mentally prepare the night before and get things done at their house, so they were ready!
3) The coolest thing...  With SO many contractions going on all the time for me, I was so stressed and confused about knowing when I would actually be in true labor.  I worried about when to have Robin come home if he was at work since every time felt like a false alarm.  And I really worried about calling my in-laws to come in the middle of the night, only to get to the hospital and then be sent home because it wasn't really labor.  This was my 3rd pregnancy, and I felt like a total rookie since I'd never gone into labor on my own!  After being up in the night for hours the last time with false labor, I was so frustrated and disappointed, and it occurred to me to pray that my water would break when it was time to go.  I was begging God for a sign, and water breaking sounded like the best way to know, since if/when that happened, we had to head to the hospital whether I was in labor or not because of my Group B Strep.  Even though that's what I had been praying for, I wasn't exactly expecting it to happen!  I think that's partly why I was laughing hysterically when it broke.  It just kept running through my mind..."How cool is that!?  Thank you LORD!  Now we know, and it's perfect timing, we have to go!"  I think that has been my favorite part of this birth story.  God knows the desires of our heart (not wanting to be induced), and He cares about the little things (like my silly insecurity of wanting to know when it was time to go to the hospital).  He knows when we sleep and when we rise, and everything that happens in between, and I felt like He had given us such a gift by the way things were happening.

Once we were in our hospital room, my Dr. checked me about 11:30 pm and I was dilated to a 6.  That's great progress since my appointment that afternoon considering I wasn't having any painful contractions at that point, just strong ones.  Although, I think we were all expecting for me to be ready to have a baby by the time we got to the hospital, lol.  The Dr. had the nurses get the warmers ready for the baby and everything before we even got there!  Timing also worked out well because they were able to start my antibiotics right away and I got through one full dose of the Group B meds before delivering (you're supposed to get 2 doses, but even 1 full dose drastically reduces the risk of infection for the baby).
All checked in and ready to get the real party started.
Dr. Zart is the name of my Dr., and she was already at the hospital for another delivery.  She came in and talked with us for a while which proved to be INVALUABLE for me in this experience.  She knew I wanted to try going natural, but that I hadn't been able to before, and knew my concerns, so she shared her own experience.  She had epidurals with her first two kids, but just about 4 months ago she delivered her 3rd and she went natural that time.  She asked if I wanted to hear about how it was for her, and have her kind of walk through the details of how it often goes, so I would have some idea of what to expect.  This was EXACTLY what I had wanted from someone.  With Jersey I felt like our L&D nurse was nonexistent, and because of that I was really unsure of where we were at in labor, how far I had progressed, how far I had to go, how I was doing in terms of pain management/timing, etc.  All I had wanted was for someone to tell me, "this is where you're at, it's probably going to be this much longer of this, and if you can get through that, then you're over the hump and just have to do this."  I was managing the contraction, but barely, and I had no idea if it was going to be another 30 minutes like that...or another 8 hours!  Because it wasn't a great labor experience with Jersey, and I was disappointed that for a second time to really need an epidural, I seriously looked into having a Doula with us at the hospital for Tessa's birth.  Even though I'd had 2 babies, I still felt like there was so much I didn't know about labor, strategies for getting through each phase, etc.  Robin has always been an amazing support to me, and so helpful during labor, but of course didn't know any more than I did about the when/how/how long/etc.  A Doula would have brought all of her experience and could have walked us through each phase in hopes of keeping me in a physical and mental state of being able to go without an epidural.  Unfortunately, that whole wish ended when I realized how much Doulas can cost!  Once again, kind of disappointed...  But God knew what we were praying for in a labor and delivery nurse this time, and He totally met that need.  We loved nurse Vicki.  She was very attentive and involved without being overbearing, and was really on board in helping me go natural.  She was a "no nonsense" personality, and said what was on her mind.  She spent time sitting in our room talking through things, helped me think about different ways to get through various stages, and was strong enough to encourage me that I could do it, instead of just offering an epidural when I was struggling through the stronger contractions.  I tried sitting on one of those exercise balls for a couple of contractions, and she wasn't afraid to tell me: "you looked more relaxed in bed than you do on a ball," which was totally true!  But those are the little things I thought, "I should like this, doesn't everyone like these labor ball things?" LOL.  It was that little comment I needed from her to affirm that I was indeed doing better and was more able to relax in bed :)  Between my awesome Dr., our rock start L&D nurse, and my wonderful wonderful husband encouraging me and talking me through each contraction, I feel like I finally had my "dream team" to help me do this!

So, let's see...  When I was at a 7 the contraction really started getting intense and seeds of doubt started creeping in that I wouldn't be able to last much longer without an epidural.  Robin talked me through each one, and nurse Vicki told me I was handling them really well for how far along we were.  That made me feel like if she thought I was doing better than average, maybe I could keep going!  I knew once we got to 8 cm that would be kind of the "peak" of the discomfort for me, since in the past I have moved from 8-10 cm very quickly.  I think somewhere between 7 and 8 cm was the biggest mental challenge for me because I desperately wanted to persevere without the epidural, but I was pretty scared of what it would be like once I got to an 8 because I'd never been there WITHOUT an epidural and I knew I would be delivering soon after that.  The nurse checked me again and told me we were at at 8, and that I was doing great.  But I was really not sure how much longer I could hold out...  She said she'd leave us alone for a few minutes (probably because she could see I was conflicted), and told me she'd be right back but to let her know if I felt any pressure in the coming contractions, just in case, so she would have a heads up to let the Dr. know how long it might be.  Well as soon as she left I started another contraction, and felt tons of pressure, and I kind of started to freak out.  Robin paged her right away and she came running back in, checked me, and I was fully dilated to 10!  So then SHE slightly panicked and called for the Dr., and told her to run...that's always interesting to hear coming from your nurse!  That's when things got crazy.  Robin was wide-eyed, and I was terrified that all of a sudden we had left the 8 and the decision about getting an epidural, and what seemed like one second later I felt like I had to push!

I'll spare you the nitty gritty details (and honestly that part is a bit blurry for me already), but I can tell you that there were nurses flying around the room getting everything ready and helping my Dr. get into her "gear" to catch the baby.  I was at 8, and then I was at 10 and pushing, and none of us were quite ready for how quickly that happened!  I may or may not have had a slight panic attack and stopped breathing for a few seconds as my nurse and Dr. were saying something like, "Heidi, can you hear me? You need to calm down!" LOL!  They had to bring me back down to earth.  Fortunately, I didn't have very long to continue my panic because I had to push through just 2 contractions and little Miss Tessa was born!!!  2:26 am, 6 lb 11 oz, 18.5 inches long.  Crazy, crazy, crazy...  Relief flooded over me, along with every other emotion on the planet, when I heard her cry for the first time.  
There may have been a few tears for my new little princess...

Worth every second of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
And then, I'm not gonna lie, I had a moment of feeling pretty darn proud of myself...  I truly, honestly, expected to try for a while and not be able to do it without an epidural.  I don't know why!  I think our other 2 experiences had been SO long and difficult in the hospital, that I couldn't even imagine just being in labor there for a few short hours.  It felt like the last 2 times had been a marathon day, but for this birth story, it had been weeks or "training" for a marathon with all of those contractions, and then it was more like a 100 yard dash when the time actually came to go to the hospital and have a baby!  Mentally and physically it made all the difference in the world not having to spend all day at the hospital being induced artificially.  I could tell that when my water broke, it was go time, and it wasn't going to take long.  And I'm sure my slightly competitive personality (Robin will laugh out loud at that, since he would consider it to the extreme) played a part, in that I felt like I was competing with myself.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, I'm sure, on some level, even though that's obviously a ridiculous "reason" to not want an epidural.  God made me competitive, right!?  Guess in this case it came in handy, lol.  I wanted to know what it was like to feel the whole process, and this time I got my wish.
Sweet, sweet relief!
The rest is just the usual...  Recovering after delivery was totally different from the last 2 times.  Not having my legs be numb from the epidural so I could actually get up and walk around was so nice!  And, sorry if it's TMI (what about labor and delivery isn't!?!), but I barely had to have any stitches this time which was certainly not the case with the last 2 deliveries!!!  I was also really glad for Tessa's sake that I didn't have an epidural, for lots of reasons.  Natural is just so great for mom and baby...even though it's the hardest thing I've ever done.  My husband telling me over and over again how great of a job I did, and how proud he was of me, didn't hurt matters either.  I told him he could keep telling me that all day and I would never get tired of hearing it.  Robin was a trooper - I know it's so hard and emotionally draining for him to "help" me through labor without being able to do anything for me but encourage and support.  I couldn't do it without him.  I'll tell ya, now that I've delivered with an epidural and without, I am so glad I was able to experience both!  4 days postpartum, it's still pretty fresh in my brain, so I'm still processing the whole experience.  It was hard.  It was not fun.  It was very, very rewarding.  I'm sure I could work out a list of pros and cons, but that would be pointless.  It is what it is.  I did what I had to do with the first 2 babies, and the 3rd experience was just as different as the first 2 were from each other!  Every birth story is so unique, and I just feel so blessed to have done this 3 times and end up with 3 beautiful, healthy, wonderful children (and have an amazing husband to go through it all with me!).

Really crappy photo, taken by our awesome nurse, ha ha!  Not sure how she basically cut me out of  the picture, but this is our first shot of Robin and I with little Miss Tessa.
God's creation of human life, the design of pregnancy and labor, and the miracle of tiny tiny tiny newborn babies is truly astounding.  God is good, and we are indescribably happy to have our little girl finally on the outside, living life with our little family.  THREE KIDS!?  Robin and I keep looking at each other and laughing at how that is possible...  I'll try to post again soon with some pictures of when Ty and Jersey visited us at the hospital and met Tessa, and update on how life is going at home.  For now, we are home, we're all adjusting, and all things considered we're doing just fine.  Praising Jesus for our family of 5!!!!!

A few more pictures of Tessa being checked out, bathed, etc...

"Bath time!"
"Oh, well, this rinse and massage part is actually kind of nice..."
Ok, I took this picture with my phone and it was sideways, and for the LIFE OF ME I can't get it to load onto Blogger vertically.  So, sorry, but I had to post it anyway because it's Robin's first time holding Tessa and I just love the look on his face.
Happy girls.
More to come soon (I hope - no promises ;-)!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pool fun with daddy

We went to a pool birthday party a little while ago, and lucky for the kids, Robin was able to come and enjoy the fun (okay and lucky for me since I was about 8 months pregnant and not super excited to be in a swimsuit trying to keep an eye on both kids ;-).  They both feel so safe with him and I had so much fun watching them play that day!  Tyson is, umm, timid, you could say, in the water (and about most things in life), and then there's Jersey who has zero fear and would drown herself if you let her!  Makes for a fair amount of work when you have one son constantly clinging to you, and one daughter constantly trying to escape you to get to the deep end, lol!  They had fun.

Jersey LOVED standing under the big bucket that would fill up and then splash down on her head.
And then shriek with delight...every time.

He has a special soft spot for his baby girl.
The three musketeers coming down the slide :)

Robin being endlessly splashed in the face.
Jersey loving every minute of it, even when Robin got a little tired of water in his face, lol.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Easter egg hunt

I know this is kind of old news, but I didn't want to forget to post pictures from our Easter egg hunt at Grandmommy and Pappy's house - especially since it was Jersey's first time hunting for eggs!  She loved it and got the hang of it pretty quickly.  Tyson, on the other hand, is convinced that you stop and open every single egg as you find them to see what's in there before putting it in the basket.  A few had candy, and some had some money in them!  Of course, he thought that finding 3 pennies inside was WAY cooler than finding one quarter.  Three is always better than one, isn't it??  Anyway, it was a gorgeous day and we had a great Easter with our little family.

The Fab Four - soon to be FIVE!

It's much more fun to have one in each hand that you can shake!

"Hmm, does this sound like 3 pennies, or 1 quarter?"
"Yay!  3 pennies!"

"I'm sure daddy hid one in the drain pipe..."

Great day, great weather, great fun with the kids!  Crazy to think next year we'll have THREE kids, and the third one will at the very least be crawling around the yard ;-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Conquering Bugs

I don't even want to know how long it's been since I updated the blog, and I won't bore you with the details of why (because it's just the same old..."I've been busy" - which is always going to be the case with little kids ;-).  So, moving on, sorry it's been a while...but I'll try to get back on the blog wagon.

You may or may not know about Tyson's major bug phobia we've been dealing with for the last few months.  Not just that he doesn't want to touch them or see them.  We're talking, screaming bloody-murder, sounds like someone is ripping his teeth out one by one TERROR, about bugs...  You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm telling you, the screams that come out of his mouth make my mama's heart stop for a second in sheer panic!  And then I was just an ant.  Or a fly.  Or a bee.  Or even a butterfly.  Not quite sure how or why this started, but it was to the point where he was waking up 2-4 times PER NIGHT, screaming and shaking in his room, and even coming down the stairs to our room with these ghostly sounding screams!  OUT OF CONTROL.  I decided it was time to have bug boot camp, get real friendly with every bug we could, and start to face this fear head on because life could not continue like it was!  The night terrors were bad, but he wouldn't even play in the back yard anymore, because a fly would land on the side of the house, or he would see ants in the gravel!  It is sunny 300+ days per year here in Colorado...the child has to be able to play outside (for his sake, and mine!!).  We talk about bugs, pray about bugs, talk TO bugs (aka, "Oh hi there little ant!  Where are you going?  Are you looking for food to take back to your family?"), and remind ourselves CONSTANTLY that bugs aren't scary, God made bugs, God loves bugs, and so should we.  So, we got friendly with bugs in a variety of ways.  Here are some photos of our bug journey...
#1) Magnetic puff balls and pictures of bugs!
I found the coolest idea on Pinterest for gluing those little craft puff balls onto small magnets.  We use them for all kinds of things, but in this particular picture, he's putting them onto circles inside different kinds of bugs and insects.  I just put the printed off pictures on a $1 cookie sheet from the dollar store (magnetic so holds the puff balls in place) and he goes at it.  So fun!

Orange puff ball spider
All colors of butterflies!

    #2) Coloring bugs
Not the most complex activity, but we got out our new collection of plastic bugs (thank you, Amazon) and found matching ones on our coloring pages to help us decide what colors they should be.

 #3) Bug matching 
I found a blog (probably off of Pinterest, let's be honest) where someone had made this insect matching game for a homeschool unit.  I downloaded all the different pieces and then laminated and cut them out, and we set to work learning how to match photos of insects.

#4) Bug pattern blocks
For Ty's birthday we got a set of pattern blocks - I LOVE these things!  I used to play with them when I was younger, and I had been wanting them for my kids for a while.  I bought a set of actual patterns to use with the blocks, but there weren't any bug/insect pictures.  Fortunately, the world of Google made it fairly easy for me to find some bug patterns online so I printed and laminated them so we could use them with our blocks!

Butterfly blocks
Dragonfly blocks
Bee blocks
And I'm quite proud of this one...  Ty wanted to look at his new bug book while he was doing the pattern blocks, and he put the yellow ones together all by himself and told me they looked like the honeycomb in his book!!!  Proud mom moment.  His favorite part of the book is where it talks about the life cycle of bees, where they live, what they do, etc.  I was just happily blow away that he made his own honeycomb out of pattern blocks :)

#5) Bug sensory bin
As I mentioned in one of the above pictures, we got a set of plastic bugs from Amazon so we could actually play with them and touch them instead of just reading about them in books.  But I wanted some way for Ty to actually pretend with them, in hopes that it would further his "curiosity" and just make him more comfortable being around bugs.  I had the idea of making a bug sensory box, and it turned out great!  We keep his set of plastic bugs in this tub that I put together, and he uses it during "blanket time" about once a week.
Looking for food for his bugs (we decided that little brown puff balls, and green leaves cut out of felt would be the best food).
Examining some of his bugs up close with a magnifying glass.
Close up of our sensory bin, complete with flowers for the butterflies to land on and the bees to get nectar, a bowl for their food (since bugs eat out of bowls, duh), and a little felt mat with a grassy area, some dirt, and a little bond for them to drink :)
And a "mom, stop taking pictures of me while I'm trying to play" smile :)

So there you have it - our journey to conquer fear of bugs!  I am pleased to report that our strategies are definitely working.  We continue to read about bugs and do all of our little activities, read our bug flash cards and our bug books, and talk about how God made all bugs and what they do for the earth and the plants.  He's still not a fan of the buzzing sound from flies and bees, and gives the occasional bloody-murder scream when one startles him, but we have made MAJOR strides!  Now he will actually squat down and look at ants and potato bugs and talk to them, instead of screaming.  He'll point at butterflies instead of running the opposite direction.  And he will even stand (nervously, but still) near bees on flowers and ask about them.  
We did have a tiny wasps' nest in our play structure in the back yard, and he walk right up and peered into the hole where the nest was and wanted to talk about them.  Those are the situations that are a little bit tricky now, because I don't want to to scare him, but I don't want him to get too close or think about touching the wasps or their nest!  Robin took care of it with some wasp spray, but it's definitely been interesting for ME to try not to react when I'm freaked out by a bee or a spider, etc.  Gotta keep my cool for the sake of the kid, ya know...  One day he yelled, "Mom look, it's a caterpillar!"  It was in our garage.  And by the time I turned around in half a second, it was gone.  I'm pretty sure it was a fuzzy spider, considering caterpillars can't move that fast, but I tried to be nonchalant and tell him how cool it was that he saw a caterpillar.  Whatever works, right?

God made bugs, He loves bugs, and so do we.  We repeat that phrase often at our house...  I'll try to be better about updating the blog, even though we are adding a newborn to our house any day now!