This was the year for family trips, it seems. In addition to a beachside camping trip down in Carpinteria followed by a half week in Las Vegas, we also spent an exciting week at Yosemite National Park and Bass Lake and we went to Disneyland for three days in the early fall, as well.
David (14 months) is still growing like crazy. He walks a little here and there, but he much prefers to be held by his Dad. He also speaks much clearer words now, though his vocabulary is limited to Ma-ma, Da-da, and Bye. His favorite things to do are to point at family pictures hanging on the walls of our house, playing dentist with any mouths that are within reach, and dancing to all sorts of music. The funniest thing he’s learned to do recently happens when he’s being held by dad while hugging his mom–he grabs mom by the sleeve and pulls her to Dad over and over so they can kiss. He’s lucky he is so cute, because he is not good at being left alone or sleeping by himself at all.
Maeli turned four and a half in July as she likes to tell everyone. She loved going to visit her Grandma, camping on the beach, and traveling through Yosemite. But by far her absolute favorite trip was to Disneyland back in September. She got to meet the real Anna and Elsa, sit in the VIP section for the Toy Story parade, play Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters, and ride the Rocket Ships! Her favorite part of pre-school is snack time, and she loved it when they brought in real-life butterflies to her class. She still attends the same school where her dance class is, and she dances to everything now, especially during the credits of our Friday Family Movie Nights.
Daniel (7) was most excited to see the snow start to fall around home. He loves to play with his neighborhood friends out in the winter and enjoy hot cocoa. It also means he gets to go skiing soon. The bigger boys got their season passes to the humongous Park City resort this season. He’s certainly a speed demon at heart, absolutely loving the time we spent on the wave runner during our Yosemite vacation week. The time spent at Disneyland also scratched that itch, because he got to ride the Space Mountain rollercoaster five times (the other kids gave up their fast passes to accommodate his need for speed)!
Sam’s (9) favorite part of summer was spending the entire day at Bass Lake on a rented pontoon boat. We swam, went tubing, and used the on-board BBQ to cook all our meals. His favorite song that he’s learned on the violin so far is Long, Long Ago. He’s been playing a video game on his 3DS called “Rhythm Thief” that helps him with his technical music skills. He was also really excited to get third place in the Pinewood Derby races this fall. It was unexpected because he waited until the very last minute to put it all together.
Never one to be left without a project for long, Brittny took the lead on getting the basement finished this fall. She was happy to finally have a dedicated guest room and playroom, and Eric was excited to finally get the home theater and virtual reality room he’d wanted for so long. Most days she doesn’t know where the time goes as she spends her time in a blur of homeschooling, housework and babycare. However slowly but surely she’s finding routines that help keep everything running, and she loves the opportunity she has to be a stay-at-home mom and has embraced the chaos that comes with it. In her spare time (if such a thing exists) she participates in a neighborhood book club that she helped to start.
Over the past year Eric has taken the initiative to get a better grasp on his health. Through a combination of intermittent fasting and choosing to eat more ketogenic-friendly lunches, he has lost 30 pounds since last Thanksgiving! Brittny has been very appreciative that he has been the least annoying dieter ever and doesn’t begrudge other people eating differently from him – he just quietly makes good choices for himself and doesn’t require massive changes for the whole family (which is especially helpful with picky kids at home!). The aging appliances at the house called for fixes to the dishwasher, refrigerator, and water heater this year. Thanks to Google, Eric has been able to make many of those fixes himself and learn a lot along the way. With all of those fixes and working on the basement it was a close call, but Eric was able to finish his classes and just started his last term to complete his MBA by May 2019. A couple months ago someone tried to break-in to the house, and that motivated him to finish his licensing and training for a concealed carry permit, which has been reassuring. At work, he’s hired yet another developer to help offload his increasing workload but still manages to find time to do some freelance work afterhours. Eric’s been called as the Emergency Communications coordinator for the Stake. However, as suspected, he and Brittny are going to remain in their scouting roles (cubmaster & cub scout committee chair) until the end of the program.
Today is David’s 7 month birthday, so I thought maybe it was time I get his birth story posted to the blog. Guess that’s what happens when you have your 4th child, things are a bit busier than they were when Sam was born 😉 So David’s birth story is going to have to start a little further back though because his pregnancy was much more eventful than our other children’s. I’ll warn you, as always, this post is REALLY long. I finished writing it one night and it was 10 pages long, so I put it aside so that I could edit it down the next night and I succeeded in making it only 12 pages (before pictures)! But I write this all down more for me than for anyone else and I want to remember all 12 pages (or however many pages this happens to be after my next round of editing…)
For starters, we weren’t planning on having David when we did. Towards the end of 2016 Eric and I had the conversation of whether or not we wanted to have a baby again in the next year. It was time to lock in our insurance choices for the next year so it was a good time to evaluate those things. I had vowed after my back problems with Maeli’s pregnancy that I was going to get in shape before getting pregnant again, but it was 3 years later and that hadn’t happened. Things were kinda busy and hectic and we decided that it wasn’t time yet. So I scheduled my annual checkup with my midwife so that I could renew my birth control prescription. However, my checkup was scheduled for a little while after I’d run out of birth control. I wasn’t too concerned – with our 3 older children it had taken about 3 months after going off birth control to get pregnant so I didn’t think it was really too likely that I’d get pregnant in that short interim – I know, famous last words :P So I had a couple weeks without my prescription and I decided that I’d wait until the end of that cycle before starting my new batch. In the back of my head I was also telling the Lord – ok, I’m not really ready to have another baby right now, but if it’s time, here’s your opening.
During that time I started noticing that my back was having some issues again. I’d started wearing boots that had a little bit of a heel as my daily footwear and I thought it was probably due to those, so I ditched the boots for sneakers and called my mom for some advice on exercises for my back. A week or so went by and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror one Saturday night and thought – I look chubbier than usual. Not that I have a nicely toned physique most of the time, but I could just tell, I had more squish than was my normal… and I was about a week late. I decided that I would take a pregnancy test the next morning, just in case.
I took the pregnancy test into the bathroom the next morning feeling like I was being paranoid. I had one on hand so it wasn’t like I had to go out and buy one but I just wanted to talk myself out of thinking that’s what was going on. I can’t even tell you how surprised I was when it came back positive. Obviously, I knew it was a possibility but I *really* didn’t expect it to be positive. I sat there letting it set in for a couple minutes before hopping back into bed with Eric (we had 1pm church so there was time for sleeping in) and tried to gently wake him up. I tried to wait until he was reasonably awake before springing the news on him, but I don’t think I succeeded as well as I would have liked – my nerves were a little high at that point :P I asked him, “So… what would you think if we were to have a baby?” He looked at me quizzically and I continued, “Because…. We’re going to have a baby.” If he hadn’t been awake yet, he was then! Eric was even more surprised than I was because even though I’d told him about my less than stellar adherence to birth control protocol, he hadn’t fully realized how much so. He asked me how I felt about this news and I told him that I wasn’t expecting it but that of course I was happy about it, and when I turned the question on him his feelings mirrored mine. We’ve been asked if David was an “accident” or a “mistake” – absolutely not. David was a surprise to be sure, but just as it wouldn’t be an accident or a mistake to win the lottery it was not an accident or a mistake to have David. We were not planning on him but we were certainly excited about it, and especially now that he’s here we can’t imagine our family without him. We’re glad that Heavenly Father had a better plan for our family than we did. He is an unexpected blessing 😊
Of course, just because David is a blessing didn’t make his pregnancy easy – at all. In fact going through that pregnancy is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I think partially not having intentionally signed up for pregnancy made it a little harder. After trying to have babies before, a hard pregnancy was still hard but there’s the feeling at least of, “well, I knew this was what was coming.” I think more so though it’s a lot harder being pregnant for the 4th time at 31 than it was being pregnant the 1st time at 23 – go figure :P I had a rough first trimester – the back pain obviously wasn’t caused just by my high heeled boots and I immediately had to limit the amount of walking and bending I did so that I could make it through the day. The “morning” sickness was also pretty bad this time around. Of course, my morning sickness isn’t terrible compared to a lot of other women’s, so I can’t complain too much – I think I actually threw up maybe once this pregnancy, but I had a very sensitive gag reflex and generally felt miserable, tired, hungry, not wanting to eat, nauseated pretty much all the time for a few months. Also my blood pressure drops pretty low in pregnancy which isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can feel pretty freaky.
We didn’t wait to announce the pregnancy to everyone. We told our kids and our parents right away and announced it on Facebook the next day. Yes, I know people feel like that’s sharing way too much of my personal life with everyone, but to be honest, when I’m pregnant it’s kinda miserable and I need people to understand why I’m kinda miserable. I need to have the people surrounding me able to say – “Hey, I know you posted that you’re having a miserable time with morning sickness right now and I noticed you put on pants today anyways. High five!” I hope that by being open about the things that I struggle with people feel like they can be open with me about their struggles and we can both help each other. I feel that way about accepting help too. As much as I want to be able to be independent and strong and do things on my own, I try to accept help from other people because 1) it’s really helpful (obviously) and makes me more able to do the things that really matter and 2) I hope that when they need help they think “Hey, I made soup for Brittny that one time and she wasn’t too proud to accept help, I bet she won’t judge me for needing some help too – I’ll call her!” I strongly believe that we all need each other to celebrate with and mourn with and by being open with others it can bless us both. That’s not to say that I don’t understand people who choose to be more private or that I judge that choice – I just sometimes feel like people look at me and think I post so much of my life to Facebook because I’m seeking attention or don’t understand wanting to be private. I do get it, but I’ve just decided for me that I’m happier being open with my circles of friends. My other reason for wanting to post right away is that I hate trying to decide who is important enough to tell in person or first or whatever. Our parents get first dibs on the news (if you contributed DNA to the child you probably should get some preferential treatment) but after that I don’t want to have to decide who gets to find out when – or risk that someone who feels like they should have heard the news from me finds out through someone else. I have too many people that I love too much to feel ok with anyone feeling like they weren’t included in something like this – better to let everyone know at once and avoid that drama.
The best news came at my first appointment when the doctor measured David on the ultrasound and told me that he was measuring about 2 weeks ahead of what I’d calculated! What’s funny is that meant that when I went in to my doctor’s appointment to renew my birth control prescription… I was already pregnant! That made me feel a little bit better about not starting the prescription right away. My thought at the time had been that I’d wait until the end of my cycle just in case I was already pregnant so that I wouldn’t hurt the baby. In retrospect I think that was inspiration and I’m so glad I listened. I was extra glad because I had felt like I was bigger and having more symptoms than I should have for how far along I was. I was nervous that I might be expecting twins! So not only was I glad to be closer to the finish line than I thought but to have the symptoms make sense and not be twins was a huge relief too!
During my second trimester the nausea at least started to wane and I could eat pretty normally again. My gag reflex never receded entirely but I was able to eat more normally and my energy came back. Of course, one of the best parts of the 2nd trimester is getting to find out the baby’s gender. When we went in for the ultrasound we were thinking the baby was a girl. Partly that just seemed nice and neat – we had two boys, one girl… we were due for another girl, right? Also I’d been extra sick when I was pregnant with Maeli and I was extra sick again so it seemed reasonable to think this was a girl as well. When we went in for the ultrasound the first thing the ultrasound technician got was a view between the legs and she didn’t even have to tell us what the gender was – we could see for ourselves! I think David was a bit perturbed that we’d been thinking he was a girl and he wanted there to be NO doubt in our minds that he was a BOY!
In June it was Eric’s & my 10 year wedding anniversary and we felt that was worthy of a celebration! We also realized that with the arrival of a new baby we probably wouldn’t be able to get away with just the two of us for about 3 years between finishing off the pregnancy and having a nursing baby. That lit a fire under us and we booked a cruise to Ensenada that we were able to just sneak in before the 24 week cut off for cruise travel! Neither of us had been on a cruise before and it seemed like a fun way to get to do a vacation without too much planning – it was :) I wasn’t able to do a lot of the activities that you’d normally want to do between my back and general pregnancy restrictions, but we enjoyed just having good food, good entertainment and (best of all) good company for a few days 😊
I also gave us the assignment of naming the baby before we got home. I like naming the baby as soon as we can after finding out the gender. I like being able to refer to the baby by its name rather than just “the baby” or “it”. It helps me bond with my babies before they’re born, and I think it helps the older kids to bond with the baby too. They can look at my belly and we’ll talk about David, and make plans for David, and then when they come to the hospital to see us – there’s David! The same David we’ve been talking about all this time! For me it just makes the baby feel like more of a real person once they have a name. We had a list of names going onto the ship but David wasn’t at the top. We knew that we wanted to give the baby a middle name of James after Eric’s dad and we were considering the names Aaron, Adam, Caleb, David, Hyrum, Isaac, Jared, Levi, & Micah. I liked David but the name sounded too close to Daniel and we’d end up calling the two boys each others’ names all the time (I was right – we do). Also, we like naming our children after scriptural people to give them someone to look up to – and while David (in the Old Testament) starts out pretty awesome… he doesn’t exactly end the same way. We tested out each name with the middle name and ruled some out. We tried them out with our other kids names (i.e. “Sam, Danny, Maeli, _____ get in the van for Cub Scouts!”… If the name didn’t fit in that mix that was going to be a problem 😉 ). We kept coming back to David and I decided that David and Daniel weren’t really too close – we already had Samuel and Daniel after all and those two names were pretty similar. I also decided that even though David in the Old Testament doesn’t end up so great, that doesn’t de-value the good things he did at the beginning. Plus his later failings serve as an important cautionary tale that none of us has ever done so great things that we are beyond where we could fall from grace and we must always remain vigilant that our deeds are good. It was so nice to have a name for our baby and to be able to call him by it when we got off the boat.
As I got closer to the 3rd trimester I got the doctor’s order for my least favorite part of pregnancy – the gestational diabetes test. I have a pretty serious phobia of needles and that test is the worst, not only do I have to get poked with a needle, but I have to drink a drink that sets off a timer that “you will be poked with a needle in one hour”. The psychological game there is pretty brutal. I got the order and then I took it home to figure out when I could schedule it with Eric so that he could come to drive me home afterwards. Between not wanting to schedule that appointment and waiting to try and coordinate schedules with Eric and the general craziness of summer… it might have been 10 weeks before I got that appointment scheduled. In fact, I waited so long that my doctor finally called me and said, “uhm, are you ever coming back?” They didn’t let me wait to figure out a time that would work with Eric’s schedule at that point and just scheduled my next appointment then and I then just had to tell Eric to work with it :P The test itself went reasonably well – I came *really* close to passing out but managed to stay on this side of consciousness. But I was glad to have that part of the pregnancy over with. I did all of the bloodwork for the whole pregnancy at once just to avoid having multiple pokes and so that was a huge hurdle for me to get past. I didn’t have any history of gestational diabetes or risk factors, and I knew that I’m pretty healthy overall so I wasn’t stressed about the results, I was just glad to be done with that!
The next week the test results came back, and they weren’t what I’d expected. All of the general tests were fine – I didn’t have any of the diseases they were testing for, my iron levels looked fine – all that good stuff. Unfortunately the diabetes numbers were just a little bit north of what the doctor would like to see for a confirmed non-Gestational Diabetes diagnosis. NOOOOO!!! She would have liked to have scheduled the 3 hour test (4 blood draws over the course of 3 hours – my worst nightmare) but she knew that I’d never come back and go have my baby in the woods on my own. So instead she recommended that I get a blood glucose monitor and observe a diabetic diet. When she told me to get a glucose monitor in my head I laughed at her and said “oh yeah right”. I knew there was no way that I was going to be able to do my own blood tests. I barely made it in to have someone else test my blood – how on earth was I going to test my own blood on a regular basis?
To be honest after my doctor called in the order for the glucose monitor I waited a day before I could wrap my head around actually going to pick the thing up (to be even more honest I really considered if I even *would* go pick it up). I was trying to take it in baby steps. It then took me another day before I could even pull it out of the bags. I finally did and tried reading the instructions. I got about halfway through before I started crying and hyperventilating just trying to wrap my head around it. Just reading the words about poking, lancets and squeezing blood were too much for me to handle – especially knowing that these were things I was going to be expected to do to myself! I know that makes me sound like a crazy person and I’m really not an overly dramatic person on the whole. But no matter how hard I try I can’t seem be reasonable about needles – and I really do try!
My doctor had asked me to get a blood glucose reading 4 times per day – before eating in the morning and 1 hour after each meal. I tried to convince myself that I could get those readings myself but I could barely be reasonable enough to let Eric do it for me so that didn’t happen. I feel really blessed though that Eric was awesome with me. He wouldn’t push me to do the blood tests even though he would encourage me. So I would let him know when I finished eating something so that he knew that he had to do the blood draw in an hour – I knew if I just tracked it myself I’d chicken out when the hour was up and convince myself I had something more important to do and never tell Eric. I had better integrity if I told Eric at the beginning rather than waiting until the end. We’d have to go upstairs, lock the door to our room (the kids weren’t going to be helpful and don’t need to know how unreasonable mom was), turn on a TV show, then I’d run my hands under hot water (to promote good blood flow) while Eric prepped the glucose monitor. Once my hands were warmed up I’d come out, pretend like I was just watching the show and give Eric my hand. He learned pretty quick that he only had about one try to get a usable blood sample as I couldn’t get myself to sit back down for a second attempt – either we got it or we didn’t but I couldn’t do it again if it failed the first time. Once he got the sample I would quickly jump off the bed and go wash my hands off again – mostly so I could indicate to my brain that we were done and get my stress levels back down. Then I’d sit and watch a few minutes of the show while I got back to normal and then I could return to whatever I was doing beforehand. My usual remedy for needle-related anxiety is chocolate… but that was obviously off limits with the whole diabetic thing ☹
To be honest I was really worried that having Eric sticking me with needles was going to create some subconscious trust issues for me. However, the opposite happened. Because Eric was so kind with me even when I was unreasonable, and he helped me without just letting me off the hook, I really learned to love him even more than I already did (which is saying something because I already loved him quite a lot). I feel SO blessed to have him by my side throughout everything in this life, I couldn’t ask for a better husband.
As you might have guessed… I didn’t get all of my glucose readings in. Not by a long shot. I had some really high readings and lots of reasonable readings, not really enough to be super conclusive but I was proud of myself to have gotten as much done as I did. However, I was absolutely religious about the diet. I didn’t cheat on it, although at first I had a hard time just figuring out what things were ok to eat and what things weren’t, but I never once got to the point where I said, “just this once I’m going to eat x”. I actually noticed that when I ate the things that were higher carb that my heart would get a little racy like I had associated with my low blood pressure, leading me to wonder if the problem was really gestational diabetes rather than low blood pressure. Anyways, my doctor never was able to definitively diagnose me with gestational diabetes but I managed to get through the final month of pregnancy on that diet.
The diet was tough, I had been trying for awhile to limit the amount of meat that we were eating and was erring on the side of adding more carbs – so I had to change that to go completely the opposite direction. I mostly just found things that I could eat myself and planned different meals for Eric and the kids. It wasn’t terrible but I had the hardest time getting enough calories while staying on that diet. I was hungry a lot but I didn’t want to get my glucose levels too high. Plus, eating was scary because I knew that one hour after I’d eaten I was supposed to do a glucose check so I had to *really* want to eat to make it worth going through that again. I actually started losing weight during that last month of pregnancy, which was a little bit scary. Not that I didn’t have weight to lose, but I wanted to make sure I was eating enough to sustain my baby – I just couldn’t figure out what to eat! My doctor wasn’t worried and said it was normal, but it was not the most fun way to end the pregnancy.
About 3 weeks into the gestational diabetes I was walking around one morning and felt… uncomfortable. Ok, so that sounds ridiculous, I’d been uncomfortable for about 33 weeks at that point, but my digestive tract felt wrong. At first I thought I was just constipated (I was on a weird diet, it seemed like a possibility). But as the day went on that didn’t quite seem to explain my discomfort. So I started googling things and came up with that I probably had appendicitis judging from where the pain was. I was pretty certain of this until I went to the bathroom and noticed that my urine was totally brown. A little bit more googling helped me diagnose myself as probably having a kidney stone – awesome. I went into urgent care that evening and the doctor confirmed that most likely that was the case – although they understandably didn’t want to do any abdominal imaging on a woman who was 37 weeks pregnant, and wouldn’t have been able to see much even if they did because of the baby in the way. I was given an antibiotic in case it was a kidney infection and told to drink lots of water to help things pass. I was also told to stop taking Tums for my heartburn as all that extra calcium was a possible culprit for creating the stone in the first place. Another suspect was the high protein diet from the gestational diabetes. I was starting to feel like I just couldn’t win. My mom had a kidney stone when she was pregnant with her 4th child, who was also a boy. I know I look a lot like my mom, but this was a trait I probably should have let her keep to herself :P
After the kidney stone I decided I was DONE with being pregnant. With my other babies they had liked to stay put and cook past the 40 week mark so even though I was only 1 day short of 38 weeks I knew I was looking at probably 3 more weeks of pregnancy if I let nature take its course. Between the kidney stone, back problems, blood pressure issues, and (of course) gestational diabetes – I was ready to throw in the towel. I went in for my next midwife appointment and scheduled an induction for 10/4, i.e. the day I hit 39 weeks and was eligible for an elective induction. To be honest, more than the kidney stone I was worried that since I had let the gestational diabetes go unchecked for so long (and I had not been eating healthy during that time) David was going to be too big to be born naturally and I would have to have a c-section. I knew I was losing weight but the baby was still growing. I wasn’t sure whether I was worried that I was undernourishing him or overnourishing him – but I didn’t feel great about either one. I’d been debating scheduling an induction on those grounds, but the kidney stone pushed me over the edge. I had my mom book a flight to be here to take care of my older kids and started counting down the days.
The day before my induction was the day of the annual Utah STEM Fair. We had gone the year before and it had been a highlight of the year – they had asked for months afterwards when we would get to go again! So even though it was more walking than I really felt up to, I decided to go for it! It seemed like a fun “last hurrah” before becoming a family of 6 – one last time to enjoy just being the 5 of us. It seems silly but just before having each new child it feels like we’re closing a chapter of our lives and while we’re so excited about the new baby we’re adding to our family, there’s a little tinge of sadness to be leaving the previous chapter behind. I always have felt like there’s something a little bit sad about moving on from each stage of life and having a chance to celebrate the family we have just before it changes always seems appropriate.
That day happened to also be a Tuesday which is when we have all of our commitments outside the home, and we’d need to pick my mom up at the airport that night. Busy day! I didn’t tell the kids about the fair until we were actually ready to go so they wouldn’t be disappointed if by the time we completed all of our other commitments I wasn’t up to it. But we made it through preschool, violin, dance class, a haircut and music class and I was still ready to go! We got there later than we would have preferred but the kids had a blast checking out all of the exhibits and I waddled around looking for anywhere I could sit for a second, all the while thinking – I’m going to have a baby to . mor . row. It was a really funny experience just being there with all of these people doing a normal thing while feeling like there was something so huge that was about to happen to me and people didn’t really know.
When the fair closed we had to divide and conquer – Eric had some work that needed to be finished before taking the next couple days off, and I needed to pick my mom up at the airport. We had both scored Olive Garden pasta passes though and wanted to use them to get dinner that night. After some deliberation we decided that Eric would take Sam and Maeli to one Olive Garden on his way home and I would take Danny & my mom to a different Olive Garden after picking her up from the airport. Don’t worry, I still didn’t break my diet – not even for Olive Garden! I found out that they would substitute steamed broccoli for the pasta and had that and salad for a very satisfying last dinner of pregnancy 😊 It was a late dinner but it added to the celebratory nature of the day – and we could do it without even having to pay for my meal, score!
Of course that night would be the night that people had trouble sleeping. Maeli started having a nasty croupy sounding cough (just as I’m getting ready to bring home a newborn – awesome) and everyone got to bed much later than planned. I seriously considered cancelling the induction because it didn’t seem like we would be ready for all that would entail… and truth be told I was still apprehensive about needing an IV – and even though consciously I wouldn’t have pushed it back for that, on a subconscious level I’m sure it made the idea of rescheduling seem more sane than it was. Plus, I’m not generally a big fan of being induced (even though I’ve basically been induced with 3 of my 4 deliveries). I still have a basic belief that babies are best left to be born when they’re ready and all done being cooked, but we don’t always get the ideal situations and we work with what we have.
In the end I got up the next morning, got dressed and we headed off to the hospital. Eric tried to convince me that I wasn’t supposed to eat before the induction (because anesthesia stuff) but since I hadn’t been given that instruction from the hospital I ate a couple of fried eggs and a vitamin water. But it made me nervous that I was doing the wrong thing anyways. The nurses later confirmed that I had made the right choice and I absolutely ought to have eaten beforehand since I had a long day of hard work ahead of me! Phew!
We got to the hospital late (our scheduled arrival time was earlier than our usual waking up time – even without kids developing nasty coughs in the night) but we were able to get checked in quickly. I told Eric that I felt funny walking into the hospital with a suitcase – like we were heading into a hotel for a fun getaway :P Hopefully if I ever go for a spa getaway it’s considerably more comfortable than childbirth 😉
Once I was changed into a lovely hospital gown and had answered all of their questions it was time for the IV – dun dun DUN! Luckily I had a very understanding nurse who listened to me. See, even though I’m not good at needles I have at least pretty well established how I can get through them – I need to be hydrated, have reasonably high blood sugar level, warm up my arms, have someone keep talking to me about anything not related to the needles, don’t look at the needles, don’t expect ME to keep talking (I need to just focus on breathing deeply and staying conscious), and don’t try to tell me how not a big deal it is (I know it’s not a big deal, but bringing my attention to the needles makes me face it more head on and I’m more likely to pass out). It’s also good if the nurse tells me when they’re NOT ready to stick me with the needle (i.e. “I’m just looking at your veins, cleaning things up” etc) however they don’t have to tell me when they ARE going to stick me, and it’s definitely a bad idea to tell me to be ready because that elicits my fear response and all my veins shrink right up, if they say something like “ok, little stick” right as they’re sticking it in that’s fine but don’t give me more time to freak out. The most important thing is “what thou doest, do quickly” and let me try to pretend that this isn’t happening – the less we talk about the better. I’ve had nurses try to have me do it their way instead of my own way and while I really appreciate their intentions and experience, I know myself and other techniques make it worse rather than better.
Anyways, the nurse I had was awesome at listening to me and did everything just great. She made sure to tape the lines down tightly so they wouldn’t wiggle, and she made sure to get all of the blood testing they needed through the IV port rather than making me go for another round of sticks. When I was induced with Danny it took an hour and several pokes to get the IV set up, so you can imagine how relieved I was to have that part go smoothly. Once we were set up then it was time to wait. Since we hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before Eric and I both laid down and tried to sleep. I think Eric got an actual nap in and I at least closed my eyes and pretended to sleep to get some rest. I kept having to answer questions and my adrenaline was a little high so actual sleep didn’t really happen, but I at least got to relax. All of my labors had been pretty quick – 8 hours for Sam, 4 for Danny, 3 for Maeli… I wasn’t expecting for things to take very long and was expecting them to be pretty intense, so some rest at the beginning seemed wise. We were all set up by 9am and I was sort of expecting that we’d have David shortly after lunch. While I was resting my nurse was talking to another nurse about how they coded different things and mentioned that Pitocin was a “high risk” drug – which I sort of knew but it was still jarring to hear her say that while we were starting me on it :/ It didn’t give me a lot of confidence in what the rest of the day would hold – especially since I’d already had enough complications with this pregnancy.
Eric woke up from his nap and my contractions were regular but not intense. He hooked his tablet up to the TV and we watched some shows while we waited, and Eric did some work. A couple hours later the contractions were uncomfortable but still nothing earth shattering. I could still carry on conversation through them, even if I preferred to do some deep breathing to manage them. A little after 1pm I sent Eric out to get himself some lunch – it didn’t seem like anything was going to change dramatically in the next little while and it seemed wise to let Eric get some food while he had the chance. Luckily the hospital is right in the middle of a ton of different restaurants so Eric didn’t have to go far to get some Café Rio.
While Eric was gone I checked some of the notifications on my phone and found that one of my neighbors had sent me an Instagram message. She was close to her due date too (there were about 5 ladies in our ward that were due within a couple weeks of me) and was in the hospital that day for some issues she was having. She wasn’t in labor yet but was going to be induced the next day and was sitting in a little room all alone. She decided to come over to my room with her IV and visited with me for a little while as we were both alone in the hospital. I wish we’d thought to get a selfie of the two of us – how often is it that you and a friend get to visit each other while you’re *both* in the hospital? It was definitely a unique experience! I was grateful to have a familiar friendly face to be with me while I was waiting alone for a little while. Even though I really was glad to let Eric go get some lunch, it wasn’t fun being in the hospital room alone and I was glad to have someone there who could call for a nurse if something suddenly went wrong. I wasn’t expecting anything like that, but it was just comforting to have someone else there.
Eric came back from lunch and we continued watching shows, me being uncomfortable, but mostly just waiting for things to ramp up. Slowly the contractions were getting a little stronger, but still nothing that I couldn’t manage a conversation through, although perhaps with some wincing. Around 3pm my midwife came in and checked my progress. She asked if I wanted to try some other positions to which I responded that I didn’t really – I was pretty happy where I was. She looked at me like I was being obstinate so I clarified that I wasn’t saying I *wouldn’t* change positions but if we were doing it just based on what I wanted… I didn’t feel any burning desire to move from where I was – at 39 weeks pregnant moving around always seems like a huge chore, so all things being equal I’d just assume stay put. With that cleared up my midwife told me that David was still up pretty high and it would be good to move around and see if we could get him to come down to start making progress. Well that was a horse of a different color! Progress sounded good to me so we started moving me around. I don’t remember what we tried first but we put me on a birthing ball bouncing around for a little while, and put the bed in an upright position and had me hang over the back, and laid me on my side with a large peanut shaped ball between my legs.
Moving around did the trick! My labor started to pick up and David made his way down into the birth canal. By 4pm I’d gotten to 4cm dilated and David had dropped enough so we broke my water and things really got intense. It’s so awkward having contractions after having my water broken because every contraction feels like I’m peeing myself. Not like any part of labor is all that glamorous or not gross feeling – but that is especially gross feeling. At that point things really started to hurt. We kept moving my positions between hanging over the back of the bed, the ball, and on my side. Within an hour the pain from the contractions was so intense that we finally got to the point where we turned the TV shows off as they were only serving to agitate me rather than distract from the pain. I needed all my focus to be on just trying to relax between contractions. I am not loud when I’m laboring which has led in the past to nurses not really thinking things are getting close (the doctor barely made it into the room to catch Danny because they didn’t think I’d gotten that far yet). Luckily my midwife recognized that even though I was quiet it was because I was in the zone, not that I wasn’t progressing, and since she was done with her appointments for the day she stayed in the room from soon after my water was broken until the end. I was so grateful for that extra attention and coaching.
We kept changing my positions and checking my progress, which continued to be steady. Probably around 6:30 I started to feel the urge to push. My midwife checked me and said I was really close. On the next contraction I couldn’t not push and my midwife could see that and the nurses gathered around for the grand finale. I was still on my side (which was the position that I made the best progress in while being the most comfortable) so someone held up my leg while I pushed David out from that position. It was a weird position for giving birth I’m sure but I wasn’t really ready to move at that point. It took maybe 5-10 contractions for me to push David out. I’d have a contraction and push as hard as I felt like I could without tearing for probably 30 seconds, and then get about 30 seconds to catch a deep breath before another big contraction would come and I’d push again. Finally his head came through and on the next push I was able to get his shoulders and the rest of his body out. He was here! It is the weirdest feeling in the world to go from having a small human being in you to suddenly pushing them out and feeling so empty. Not a bad empty, sort of a cathartic empty. The second weirdest feeling is delivering the placenta. It doesn’t hurt really but it’s this huge squishy organ that comes out all at once. It’s very infrequent that you pass entire organs out of your body which is probably why it seems so strange. It felt SO good to be done with being pregnant and to have my body back to myself again. I told Eric over and over for the next day, “I did it. I’m done. I’m not pregnant anymore. I’m NOT pregnant anymore!” It had become such a defining part of who I was for the last 9 months that I had to keep saying it to convince myself it was really true – I’d made it!
David was born at 6:46pm and was 6lbs 12oz and 20.5 inches long. I’d been worried about him being too big but he was actually the smallest of my babies by 13oz! I’m still so glad that I went ahead with the induction. It was SO nice to know that my older kids were settled before heading to the hospital. It was also awesome to know that we could get a good night’s sleep beforehand and that Eric could plan out his day away from the office in advance. Also just having a defined finish line was so helpful at the end of that long pregnancy – I’m not sure that I mentally could have taken 2 more weeks. Besides which, as I mentioned before it was awesome to have my midwife there and able to really coach me through the delivery. All things considered, I would likely choose to be induced again if we have another baby.
As soon as Eric posted to my mom that David was here our older kids were over the moon and started jumping up and down begging to come see him. I had already arranged with my mom that I was ok with them coming up as soon as David arrived – once things were reasonably cleaned up in the delivery room they were welcome to come see him. I had a few stitches but they were taken care of quickly – my midwife says it looked like I’d just torn in the same place I had with my previous births (Sam was 8lbs 11oz with a 90th percentile head, so…. yeah, there was some tearing there that has opened up with each subsequent delivery). To be honest after giving birth I feel like having visitors come right away. I just did something monumentally hard – I want to show off! I might not look amazing, but neither do marathon runners, it’s still good to have people you love with you to share in the achievement and the joy of a new baby. Besides no one is really looking at me when there’s a cute baby to look at 😉 I know everyone is different but I basically want the people I love to come and give me a high five and tell me I did a good job, and ooh and ahh over the cute baby that I’ve managed to produce. I’m too amped up on adrenaline to rest for quite awhile anyways so people might as well be there to celebrate with me.
My midwife and nurses kept commenting how impressed they were with the control I had during delivery. I guess that I did an especially good job of not pushing too hard or too fast and causing myself to tear. I would bet that that’s primarily because I didn’t have an epidural so I could feel everything stretching and could tell what would cause me to tear. I remember them saying the same thing about when Maeli was born – maybe it’s just something they tell every mom so that we feel good about ourselves 😉 I don’t really know how I would have done things any other way so I’ll just take it for what it is!
The kids arrived with my mom at the same time as Eric’s parents arrived. They had arrived home from their mission in Washington D.C. just that day and they were leaving to go visit naother one of their kids that weekend so it was perfect timing! It was so great just to have everyone there – and to finally get to eat some carbohydrates! The nurses told me to get my order into room service quickly before they closed for the night and I was excited just to have some real food after a full day of very minimal snacks and a really hard workout! I don’t even remember what I ordered but I was excited for real food. They also brought me in some snacks – graham crackers, saltines, yogurt, super exciting hospital snacks 😉
While the kids were oogling David and we talked to our parents about the events of the day the nurses kept coming in every few minutes to check on me. The first few times the nurse seemed moderately concerned that I was bleeding more than she would have liked. That was highly disconcerting. Considering how I feel about blood you can imagine that the idea of having a hemorrhaging problem after birth would really scare the dickens out of me. However there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it and the nurse wasn’t panicked or anything, so I just relaxed as best as I could and tried to ignore how very nervous that made me. My mom gave me more wide eyed concerned looks, but I felt like there wasn’t anything that I could do about it so I was trying not to waste my energy on worrying. I think she was concerned that having the extra people in the room could be a hinderance if something needed to happen, but I figured I wasn’t exerting myself by letting everyone be there, and it made me feel better having them there. I relaxed as best as I could and assumed that if the doctors needed to do something with me they would shoo my family out and do it. Luckily after a few rounds of concerned looks things seemed better and the nurse stopped commenting on it so presumably things were fine.
Also during that time a nurse came in to get all of David’s preliminary tests and procedures done. She took him to the other side of the room from my kids to weigh, measure, poke and prod him. My mom was unimpressed with how gentle (or not) she was being with David and looked at me like, “hey, why isn’t anyone snuggling that cute baby and making him happy?” I obviously was in no place to hobble over and help out but I was grateful when my mom went over to hold his hand and try to comfort him a little while that was happening. They poked him a few times and put the goop in his eyes – but somehow no one managed to actually wash him off. We actually didn’t get him washed off until he came home and was a few days old :P
When my dinner came all of our visitors cleared out to let us get settled in for the night. I was a little sad to see them go, but it was getting past the kids’ bedtime and it was time for us to get some rest too. Of course “rest” in a hospital is relative. The nurses came in every hour to check my temperature, blood pressure and bleeding until about midnight. Then they started coming in every 4 hours. At one point I’d fallen asleep for a little while and then woke up just before I thought they were going to come in again, so rather than going back to sleep I decided I’d just wait for them to come in. So I waited… and waited… and waited. It ended up being closer to an hour and a half before they came in again so I probably should have tried harder to go back to sleep, oh well. I just don’t sleep well in the hospital – the sounds are weird, the bed isn’t mine, people are coming and going, and there’s always a possibility someone might want to stick a needle in me. It’s not my favorite place to be.
In the morning my nurse came in to remove my IV. To be honest, I like having the IV removed almost as little as I like having it put in as strange as that sounds. They needed one more bit of blood work from me – a final glucose level to check that things were back to normal after giving birth. As I talked to the nurse she thought she could probably get that blood sample when she removed the IV without doing an additional poke – she didn’t want to guarantee it but she said she’d try. I can’t tell you exactly what happened (I was of course pretending that nothing was happening and just trying to stay conscious), but somehow she made that work and got me out of having an another poke. She quickly made it onto my list of favorite people 😉 Even better, the level was back to normal and I was freed from having to do glucose tests any more – hallelujah!
Throughout my pregnancy I kept thinking, “I never want to do this ever again. This is so miserable. Don’t forget how hard and miserable this is. Nope, never ever ever ever EVER going to do this again. This is the last time, absolutely, 100%, never doing this again. I’m getting too old for this.” That resolve at least doubled when I was in labor, and doubled again while in the final transition and during the actual birth of David. That whole day in the hospital I kept thinking, “This is no fun at all, I really really don’t want to have to do this again. DO NOT forget how hard this is!” The pregnancy wasn’t just physically hard but it really was mentally exhausting. After getting through all of that I really couldn’t fathom doing it again. The day after his birth I was laying in the hospital bed and staring at my precious newborn baby and thought, “Awww, look how cute he is! This is SO special and wonderful and worth EVERYTHING. How sad would it be to never get to have a brand new baby like this again? I could do this again!” Of course the other part of me was screaming, “WHAT!?!? Have you not been here for the last 9 months? Do you not remember what happened YESTERDAY! It hasn’t even been 24 hours! You haven’t even left the hospital! You still have an ice pack stuffed in your underpants! What do you mean you ‘could do this again’?!?” Both sides are completely true – having David was so worth everything I went through, we love him to the ends of the earth and back and more. If you were to send me back to the end of 2016 and give me the choice of going through it all again or not having him I would 100% go through it all again, no question. But man, contemplating doing it again…. That’s going to take a lot more convincing. So far our kids have been spaced out like this – Sam to Danny: 2 years, Danny to Maeli: 3 years, Maeli to David: 4 years. So if you’re wondering if we’re done or not just check the pattern… we can talk in 5 years 😉
The next day contained all the routine post-birth things – the pediatrician came to evaluate David, my midwife came to check on me, billing wanted us to pay our bill up front, we filled out the birth certificate – all the things. I had asked my midwife beforehand that we be discharged as soon as possible, generally 24 hours after birth, so long as everything looked good. So as we went through all of our checks we got the oks from the doctors to be discharged at the end of the day. As we got close to that 24 hour mark I had Eric help me shower and change back into normal clothes and we waited for the nurses to get all of the paperwork approved. It took about 2 hours longer than we’d expected because they lost some of David’s bloodwork samples or something but finally they cut all the tags off of us and we were free to go home! As we were leaving the nurses asked me if we didn’t have insurance or something – they were astounded that I would want to go home so quickly. I guess most moms want to stay as long as possible where they have people to care for them, make the food, take the baby sometimes, all that good stuff. We have reasonable insurance, but even with that an extra day in the hospital is a pretty pricey affair. But more importantly, I just would rather be home! If I didn’t have good care at home my feelings might be different, but I was going home where my mom would be there to help cook meals and tend my children and Eric would be there too. Plus no one would be coming in to poke and prod me or my baby while we were sleeping, I could have my own bed with my own blankets, I could snuggle with my kids and know that Eric wasn’t stuck sleeping on a couch. Unlike the nurses I can’t understand why anyone would want to stay in the hospital! The care is great, but I’m still happier to be back home. Room service meals is nice, but for the price… I’ll get someone to pick up takeout from a really good restaurant rather than be stuck eating hospital food thanks ;)
My mom was able to stay with us for 2 weeks which was SO wonderful! My recovery with David was harder than it was with my other kids, not for any particular reason but it was just harder. I didn’t have any unexpected complications or unmanaged pain, but I wore down faster and had a hard time keeping my energy up or exerting myself much (by exerting myself I mean, walking around a little). I wasn’t in any more pain than I would have expected, but I was just so easily drained. My guess is that I really did lose a decent amount of blood during/after the birth and it just took that long for my body to regenerate my blood supply. Obviously not so much as to need intervention, but more than I had with previous births and enough to cause a difference in recovery. Luckily by the time my mom left to go back home I was starting to feel normal-ish again and ready to ease back into our routines, and even slowly get back to not just pregnancy normal but pre-pregnancy normal. It’s been really eye opening to see just how much I let go of during the pregnancy as I’ve been able to pick things back up. We also decided after this pregnancy that I probably ought to switch from taking a pill for birth control to having an IUD instead (since I clearly wasn’t doing a great job of taking a pill). Even more surprising than how much better I feel not being pregnant is how much better I feel having changed birth control methods. I hadn’t realized just how tired my other birth control had made me. It didn’t help that when Eric and I first got married I had mono which took a long time to recover from, and then I had Sam who was a terrible sleeper, then pregnant with Danny, then another baby and dealing with sleep, then pregnant with Maeli and another baby. It was difficult to separate exhaustion from mono/being a mom from birth control side effects – it was just my normal! But now that I’ve switched I feel like I am fully awake for the first time in over 10 years. I had no idea! We switched just to give ourselves a more surefire method of birth control, but I might be more excited about getting my energy back than not having to take a pill every day!
David has been a delight to have in our home. I can’t imagine our family without him and it absolutely blows my mind that we’d actually consciously decided that we were content with our 3 kids and didn’t need any more. How sad! It’s so bizarre how perfectly happy we can be not knowing what blessings could be ours if we were to just [fill in the blank]. Anyways, while he’s been a delight David has not been an easy baby. He struggled with colic for the first few months and pretty much just wanted to be held all the time. Luckily, Sam had colic too and since he was our first we didn’t know that it was a hard thing we sort of just thought that’s how babies were – until we had Danny and Maeli and realized that it wasn’t always like that :P But having had the experience with Sam with colic we felt like we knew what to expect. Honestly just having that expectation already set differently made all the difference. We knew that we likely wouldn’t be able to put the baby down and we’d just need to take turns holding him, walking with him, bouncing with him etc – and we could work with that. It wouldn’t last forever and we’d make it through, and just because our baby was upset didn’t mean we were bad parents or doing something wrong, it was just the way it was. I slept a lot of nights on the recliner with the TV on, Eric and I would try to let each other take naps when we could, and mostly I just let other things go knowing that eventually “this too shall pass” and we’d get back on top of those things then. Sam is now our best sleeper! I mean, he’s 9, but still, he figured it out eventually! David has the most intense stare, he will stare into your eyes for the longest time, and then just smile. It makes you feel like the most wonderful person in the world – if this baby thinks you’re worthy of this kind of adoration you must be a pretty amazing person! His siblings are still completely enamored with him, I can’t put him down without one of the kids going and getting up in his space or carrying him off to somewhere else to snuggle with him. I hope he always recognizes just how lucky he is to have siblings who adore him like his siblings do. We truly feel so blessed to have him in our home and are grateful every day to have him!