Well, since my last post was announcing the gender of our baby, and since she’s now two months old, I guess it’s fitting that this one is to announce the arrival of that baby (see also: I’ve been a terrible blogger and need to repent)! Our daughter was born on 09 January 2014 at 6:15am. She weighed in at 7lbs 9oz and measured 19.5 inches long. We’ve named her Maeli Esther Hansen. Maeli is Mandarin (pronounced May-lee) and it means beautiful. We later found out it also means calm, or peaceful in Polynesian. Esther is Eric’s paternal grandmother’s middle name, as well as obviously the name of the biblical heroine.
Note: This post is extremely long (no surprise there), I wanted to document a lot of the pregnancy and some experiences that lead up to Maeli’s birth for my own sake as much as anything else. If you’d like to skip that and just read the actual birth story you can click here to skip to that part of the post. Or feel free to just scan through for pictures, I won’t be offended :)
We went through a lot of debate on what to name her. Maeli has been on Eric’s list of girl’s names since we first got married since it’s a Chinese name, but one that doesn’t sound strange to an American ear. I loved the idea when we first were pregnant with Sam but obviously, he wasn’t a girl so we didn’t use it then. Since then, I’ve found that I loved having scriptural names for both of our boys so that as we’ve read our scriptures I could point out to them “Hey look, Samuel the Lamanite, just like our Samuel!” or “Hey, we’re talking about Daniel and the lion’s den, we have a Daniel in our family too!” I really like having good role models for them to look up to in the scriptures. So I wanted our daughter to have a scriptural name. I’ve also liked that our boys have middle names that are family names (Samuel Eric obviously after his dad, and Daniel Curtis after my dad). I wanted to do the same thing for our daughter, but we weren’t planning on giving her a middle name – which meant we had a pretty tall order to fill. Maeli didn’t fit either of those criterion. I also feel like physical appearance is too big of a focus for most women and I didn’t want a daughter being raised thinking that physical beauty was what we prized above all else in her. So there was a lot of back and forth. Maeli wasn’t sitting right, and neither was Esther or any of the other names on our list. I just didn’t feel settled. Finally one day I had the idea of breaking tradition and giving our daughter a middle name. Suddenly the name just felt right – Maeli Esther. I really like the way her name all goes together with the meanings too. Beauty, both in appearance and spirit, was obviously a quality of Queen Esther that factored heavily into her story. Esther in Persian means star, so Maeli is our beautiful, peaceful star. I especially liked passing along Eric’s grandmother’s middle name after getting to know more about her during her funeral in December of 2012 – not long before we decided it was time to have another baby. She was an incredible woman and someone that I’d love for my daughter to emulate. I’d like to think that Maeli and her Great Grandma Leona spent some time together on the other side as they were coming and going.
Anyways, that’s how Maeli got her name, here’s the story of how she got here. As those of you who follow me on Facebook probably already know, this was a rough pregnancy for me. I can’t complain too much because I know there are many women who have much worse. Even still, this pregnancy was a lot tougher than my previous two and I felt pretty beat up overall. First of all, my “morning” sickness was much worse this time around than with Sam or Danny. I’ve heard some women say that they have easier pregnancies with girls, and some say they have easier pregnancies with boys. Apparently I’m the type of woman that was made for bearing sons, not daughters. With Maeli I was sicker and for longer. I only actually threw up once (yes, I can hear those of you who’ve had real issues with morning sickness starting an orchestra with the world’s smallest violins) but I felt like garbage for about 4 months. Food was very unappealing to me and I was near throwing up on a daily basis. I was only able to keep it under control with a regimen of vitamins and forcing myself to eat the right things at the right times even when I didn’t want to. My gag reflex was also so much more severe for the whole pregnancy than it usually is, and while it’s better now, I’m starting to think that my normally strong gag reflex might never return.
So, that part wasn’t very fun, but that wasn’t what really made this pregnancy difficult. The real problem was my back. I’d had some problems towards the latter end of my pregnancy with Danny, but this time around I started having problems at around 8 weeks. By the time I was about 14 weeks I had frequent days where I would not be able to walk at the end of the day because my back was in such terrible shape. I was really worried about what I was going to do. Dealing with some issues for the last few weeks of a pregnancy is expected, but starting at 8 weeks?! Not being able to walk for 7 months was not really an option as a mother of two boys. So, I started to go to a chiropractor. I’ve always been a little dubious of chiropractic care but, through regular visits she was able to get me back on my feet and I was able to walk again. I still had to limit what I did so that I didn’t push myself too far. However, by 25 weeks I stopped having episodes of not being able to walk. Our house didn’t stay especially clean and I felt exceptionally lazy, but being able to walk up the stairs at the end of the day was worthwhile.
After I got my back under control then my blood pressure started getting low. Luckily, this had also happened with my pregnancy with Daniel so I knew what to expect and how to keep that under control as well. Lots of water, don’t freak out when it feels like your heart can’t keep up, lay in specific positions etc. As scary as the feeling is, knowing what was going on made it much easier to work with. Then at about 32 weeks I started having lots of contractions. I’d had some Braxton Hicks with both of my boys so I wasn’t surprised to have the contractions, but I was surprised at the frequency and intensity so early on. Every time I would get up and try to do just about anything – picking up toys, fixing meals, washing dishes – I would start to have regular contractions that would only be stopped when I sat down. I was very concerned that I would end up having Maeli prematurely. My sister had her baby at 35 weeks and so I’ve seen that those babies turn out just fine. But I’ve also seen how miserable their first few weeks of life are, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I mentioned these contractions to my midwife and she told me what I expected to hear – my cervix wasn’t changing yet (which is what they would worry about) but don’t push it. If activity made them come on stronger, then I needed to limit my activity. Simple instructions but I was again reduced to feeling terribly lazy.
Luckily I continued to not make progress for another 5 weeks. Once I got to a point where we safely could have her (37 weeks) I started trying to do more of my regular activities, and pushing myself further but of course, if I induced lots of contractions at a time I just felt like garbage by the end of the day. Over the next three weeks I tried lots of things to help convince Maeli to come a little bit early. I was hoping that she would arrive before the new year so that we could have all of the medical bills in one year. Plus, it would certainly have been nice to have gotten the tax break for another dependent for 2013. Even more so, my parents were able to come to Utah for Christmas and the week or so following and were hoping for Maeli to arrive before they left. Well, they all came for Christmas and I hadn’t had the baby yet. The boys all went skiing on Christmas and my dad injured his knee requiring further surgery – no baby. My brother Cody stayed up here to have sinus surgery and my mom stayed with him for an extra week while he recovered, still no baby. My mom and Cody finally decided they would stay up until my due date, and then they would have to give up on me and go home.
The day before my due date (03 January) I had an appointment with my midwife. All this time I’d been having so many contractions, I’d been drinking red raspberry tea, using sage oil, walking stairs, and trying all kinds of things to induce labor. While all of those measures would get contractions going, even going at a relatively regular pace, none of them got actual labor started. So when I went in to my midwife I was feeling pretty run down. I had thought that she’d said that at this appointment they were going to perform a non-stress test on the baby and do an ultrasound to check if it was time to give the baby an eviction notice. Apparently I’d misheard because that was actually what would happen at the next appointment if I made it that far. But thinking it was this appointment I brought my mom, the boys and Eric to the appointment since I thought they would all enjoy seeing Maeli in the ultrasound. I felt like a bit of an idiot when I discovered my error. At the end of my appointment my midwife told me that whenever I wanted to have the baby she’d be happy to have me come to the hospital and she would break my water. I’d made enough progress that she could induce me by breaking my water (which would be my preference) rather than using pitocin. She had another mom laboring that night so she seemed to be hinting that as long as she was there she might as well have two patients.
I was really torn, I was very done being pregnant, my mom was going to leave the next day, it was a Friday afternoon so we’d have the whole weekend for rest and recovery… the timing was very appealing. However, I have a strong personal belief that it’s best for babies to let them stay put until they’re done, not just when the mom is done. I just think that Heavenly Father designed the whole process so that the baby can come when it is totally developed and really ready for the world. I know that babies are just fine when they are induced, but it just seems like they’re better off if they can come on their own timing. I’d also read a blog post that put forth the idea that maybe babies that are overdue are saying their last goodbyes and getting their last bits of instruction on the other side, and it’s a little rude to take that away from them just because we’re uncomfortable. Obviously that’s not doctrine, but the idea sat well in my mind. So, I had a hard time thinking of forcing Maeli out before her time. Also, it’s rather difficult to think of making yourself go through labor right away. Even though it would make me much more comfortable in the long run, and I was going to have to go through it eventually anyways, it was still hard to contemplate making myself do it. I waffled for a lot of the evening, and finally my decision was made for me as much because it had gotten too late as anything else. In the end I did feel better about that decision (or lack of decision), but I did feel like I was cheating everyone else out of an easy fix just to accommodate my birthing preferences.
A day or so after my mom left Eric made the comment to me that he didn’t really think that I’d ever go into labor on my own and that we’d probably end up inducing me anyways. While that was sort of how I was feeling too, him saying it out loud sort of broke my spirit. While I’ve always had these beliefs that the best thing to do is to let babies come when they’re ready, I’d never gone into labor on my own before. I’d ended up being induced with both of my boys out of medical necessity. I was desperately hoping to go into labor on my own, but I was starting to believe that despite all the contractions that I’d had, it was just never going to happen. Maybe my body just didn’t know how to initiate labor. I was crushed. I spent the next couple days in a bit of a funk and just feeling depressed that it wasn’t ever going to happen. I’d sent my mom back home (who I would have liked to have had there for the delivery) and I’d end up being induced anyways. Eric didn’t know before reading this post that his comment had hurt me so much, and I don’t blame him for how I was feeling at all. These feelings had been there before but him saying it made me face them. It was just the thing that pushed me over the edge. I was in a bit of a dark spot for a few days.
Then on Tuesday, 07 January one of my friends posted a link to this article – God will give you more than you can handle: I guarantee it. Basically the post says that life is hard, it’s supposed to be hard, and it’s even supposed to be more than we think we can take, but if we turn ourselves over to Christ He can help us through it and we can handle our trials with Him. (Obviously all that was expressed much better in the author’s blog post than I did in one sentence, but that was my basic takeaway) I cried as I read through that post. That was exactly how I’d been feeling. While the trial I’d been given surely wasn’t to the magnitude of Job, I was about to the end of my rope and didn’t know how much longer I could hold on. After being sick, having back problems, contractions without end for months, I just was worn out. I knew I could turn to the Lord for help, but somehow this helped me realize that I needed to, and it was ok. I wasn’t just being a baby. This was why Christ suffered for us, so that He could help us in times of need and that I not only could but should turn to Him for help. I prayed more diligently for help and I really felt a lot better and like I could handle what I was going through. I was even able to accept that I probably would have to be induced, and that that would be ok.
In the evening on Wednesday I was having regular contractions again, but that had happened towards the end of just about every day for the last month so I tried not to get my hopes up. After the boys were in bed Eric and I spent a little bit of time together and watched a show. I also drank some more red raspberry tea and used more of the sage oil. The contractions weren’t really letting up, even when I laid down. I was getting hungry so I got up and made myself a quesadilla, just in case I did go into labor I didn’t want to be hungry. The contractions were getting pretty regular but I decided I’d try to get some sleep and figured that if I could sleep through them then they weren’t intense enough for me to go to the hospital. So I went to bed around 11pm.
Sometime after that Danny climbed into bed with Eric and me. I wasn’t sleeping really well, but I was at least resting and getting intermittent brief naps. At about quarter to 2am I woke up with Danny’s head against my head, pushing me out of the bed. Annoyed, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom rather than attempting to just reposition myself. While I was going to the bathroom I realized that my contractions were really getting to be rather uncomfortable and that I’d had 3 of them within 10 minutes. I imed Eric (who hadn’t been able to sleep either but was trying also to rest a little bit) and told him that we should probably get going to the hospital. He quickly got out of bed, and started gathering the few things that we would need to go to the hospital. He called his parents and asked them to come stay with the boys. When we were pretty much all ready to go Eric called one of our neighbors to ask her to come wait with our kids until his parents came. I felt really bad in retrospect about having her come because as we weren’t 5 minutes from our house when we saw his parents’ van driving down the mountain to our house. We’d thought it would have taken them longer to get out the door and didn’t want to wait for too long before leaving, but we could have certainly waited 5 more minutes had we realized they were that close. On the way to the hospital I texted this picture to my family:
To most people it probably seems exceedingly stupid that I sent my family a picture of Baby Mario from Mario Kart Wii. It probably is. But it’s an inside family joke. When I was pregnant with Sam my family was really into playing Mario Kart. If you play Mario Kart as Baby Mario his little catchphrase is “Baby time”! So towards the end of my pregnancy with Sam my family would text me, or call me, or message me and ask if it was “baby time” with Baby Mario’s silly voice. This was my way of letting them know that it was in fact, baby time :) Like I said, it really was stupid, but I’d thought of it a few days before and downloaded the picture of Baby Mario to my phone just for the occasion. My family got a kick out of it and it told them everything they needed to know. This picture was indeed worth a thousand words!
We arrived at the hospital and were into the room by about 3am. The nurses called my midwife to see if she would admit me. I was 3cm dilated and fully effaced (if my memory serves me correctly) and having contractions about every 3-5 minutes, so the nurses were reasonably certain I’d be admitted. Eve approved my admission and things got started. I’d thought that Eve and I had made a deal beforehand that I didn’t have to have an IV (if you haven’t been a previous reader of our blog I have a pretty severe phobia of needles). Apparently the deal I’d actually made was that since they had to do blood work anyways they could set up an IV then. Boo. So the nurses tried to get an IV in me between contractions. The first attempt failed as they hit a valve in my hand. My hand was bruised for probably 3 weeks afterwards. Luckily, the other part of my deal with Eve was that we would only make one attempt with the IV and if it failed we’d just do the blood work the easier way and forego the IV. My contractions were strong enough at that point that I was having to really focus and breathe through them. I was loath to lose my down time between contractions freaking out about having the blood work done. Finally we decided to just do the blood work during a contraction and even though it made for a more miserable contraction, we were able to get the blood work done and I didn’t have to give up my brief resting period. I don’t know exactly how long everything took, but Eric posted to Facebook at 4:30am that we’d successfully completed the blood draw and that contractions were coming 2 minutes apart at that point. That’s probably about right with all the admissions questions that were asked, getting changed, calling the midwife, two attempts at the bloodwork etc, an hour and a half doesn’t seem unreasonable, but my sense of time is very skewed as you might imagine.
By 5:09am I was dilated to 6cm, but my water still hadn’t broken (yes, I’m relying on the posts Eric did on Facebook to help me with my timeline, they’re the only real markers I have). I think it was a little while before or just after that check I needed to go to the bathroom so they disconnected my monitors and Eric helped me to the restroom. I was very uncomfortable at that point and hoped that emptying my bladder would help a little. While we were in the bathroom I asked Eric to run back to the bed for one of the vomit bags, and then I rid myself of the quesadilla I’d had the night before. Guess I would have been better off being hungry when I went into labor :P As intense as labor was getting at that point, I did feel a little better after that. At least all of the action was concentrated on the main event and not split with my digestive system.
When we went back to the bed I don’t think my monitors got hooked up correctly and they stopped registering my contractions, and we didn’t have those monitors working for the rest of the time. I know a lot of women don’t like the monitors but they were really helpful for me because Eric could see when I was having a contraction and would help talk me through them. However, luckily Eric is awesome and quickly learned to take me squeezing his hand as a signal that a contraction was starting and would help count off the rise and fall of them without the assistance of the monitor from that point on. One of the nurses even commented afterwards that she wanted to have Eric come in and train all the dads on how to support their wives during labor. I don’t think she was just being nice either, Eric really has been an incredible support to me in all three of my labors. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
A little before 6am I asked Eric if he could give me a blessing between my contractions. However, after the next contraction I told him that I was having a hard time not pushing against the contractions. He called the nurse and asked her to check me. They didn’t really think that there was going to be much progress made because I’d been laboring pretty quietly. They thought they’d be coming in and telling me I’d made minimal progress if any. However when the nurse checked me she was surprised to find that I was almost fully dilated. They quickly called Eve and told her it was time to come in and deliver this baby (she was still at home in bed at this point)! The next 10 minutes while we waited for Eve to get there were some of the longest of my life. Any woman who has had the urge to push and tried to hold back against it knows that it is one of the hardest things you could ever have to do. There really isn’t a comparison, but imagine the urgency of an EXTREMELY full bladder, like you’ve drunk 2 gallons of water all at once type full, and now you’re locked in a room watching videos of waterfalls and are not permitted to pee. It’s not a perfect analogy, but that’s an idea of what the feeling is like.
After the nurse checked me and had left the room Eric gave me the requested blessing. It wasn’t a long blessing (there was only about 60 seconds between my contractions at this point), but it gave me a lot of comfort. Basically I was told that I was so close to the end and that I wasn’t alone and that everything would be ok. I was once again so very grateful to have my wonderful Eric there with me.
Finally Eve came. After a contraction she checked me and said there was just a tiny bit of cervix left before I should start to push. After one more contraction that was gone. She broke my water and then I was ready to push on the next contraction. On the first contraction afterwards they could see Maeli’s head. The nurses and Eve told me afterwards they were impressed with the control I had to push her out slowly which saved me from much tearing. On the next contraction I was able to push her out completely. They cut the cord and we had our sweet Maeli here. I thought they’d already delivered the placenta but I still felt weird, like there was still something inside of me that wasn’t really part of me. A few minutes later they delivered the placenta and I finally felt like I was normal again. I don’t know how else to describe the feeling of relief and peace from being done with the whole ordeal. I certainly wasn’t normal again, I’d just gone through childbirth, a process that certainly deserves some recovery. But after the whole ordeal of pregnancy, with back pains, nausea, tons of contractions… it felt so good to be done. I feel like I really understand why they call it being “delivered” of the baby. I did feel like I’d been delivered from a very difficult ordeal and it was finally – after 9 long months – over.
One of the awesome things about the hospital we delivered at (Lone Peak Hospital) is that they have rooms that are LDRP – meaning that you stay in the same room for labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum. With Sam and Danny I’d had to move rooms after a brief recovery period (like one hour) to another unit. It was so wonderful to not have to move! They had Eric help wash Maeli in the sink right there in the room and everything that was done was done right there in the room. The only time they had to take Maeli out the entire time we were there was for a brief hearing test. It was wonderful.
As soon as the nurses had pretty much cleared out (probably by 8am or so?) Eric called his parents to see when they could bring the boys to come meet their new sister. They decided to come around 10am. Eric changed into some pajamas and almost immediately passed out on the couch. When the boys came in they tried snuggling with him and talking to him, but he was out cold. He did sort of say hi to the boys and give them hugs, but he didn’t even remember doing that much later. Luckily the boys were just happy to see Maeli and their mom and didn’t mind too much that their dad was unresponsive.
Eric was rightfully extremely tired from the whole ordeal. Although, he did say it was better that he hadn’t gotten to sleep the night before because if he’d only gotten a few hours of sleep and then been woken up he probably wouldn’t have been nearly as helpful as he was during the birth. It wouldn’t have been so good to have mostly asleep, non-responsive bear Eric during labor :) I on the other hand tried to sleep but I was too amped up from the whole experience and couldn’t really sleep. I rested and tried to even do so with my eyes closed, but I finally accepted that it was just as good to rest with my phone in my hand and playing on Facebook as I was pretending that I was going to get any sleep. When Eric woke up we watched some TV together and just enjoyed a day of resting, being together, and having our new baby there.
My sister Taylor came with her husband Ryan and son Skylar in the evening, along with our boys and Eric actually got to see them that time. I hadn’t realized it because we’d had the blinds drawn in our room, but that day we’d had a pretty significant snow storm. We were really lucky that Maeli came when she did because we were able to drive to the hospital in a lull between the storm. It had been snowing really well in the morning on Wednesday and I’d expected terrible road conditions but we were pleasantly surprised. When we drove down the mountain in the middle of the night the roads were actually totally clear and we’d had perfect visibility the whole way. When my sister was driving back to my house on Thursday night the roads were pretty bad again. I think angels were definitely watching over us and making sure we didn’t get stuck in that storm!
We sent Maeli to the nursery for the night so that I could actually get some sleep. The next morning we were ready to go home. We got the ok from all the doctors and by noon we were discharged and heading home to our sweet boys. They’d had a pretty rough time with us gone and it was good to have us all home and get to start our new chapter of life together as a family of five :)