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Monday, August 24, 2015

Christmas in July - Eliza's birth story (my third vbac and first water birth)

Eliza Meaalofa arrived on July 25, 2015 just before sunrise.  My dad told me he would be able to remember her birthday by remembering she was a "Christmas in July" baby.  I thought that was pretty clever - and I think it's pretty cool that her middle name also means "gift".  :)

I had been having fairly intense contractions for about a week or more before she was actually born - ones that would wake me up in the middle of the night but then fizzle out.  This was new territory for me as with my last two labors, when I woke up with contractions, it was the real deal.  The last two labors had also started around 5am and lasted about 8-9 hours.  I figured this one would be different and, perhaps, shorter due to all of the work my body was doing on and off prior to my due date.  This proved true as I was in labor for a very short four hours this time.  

I've heard some women say they wish their labors were as short as mine and while it was nice for it not to take as long to see her sweet face, I didn't really like how quickly it went by.  I know that probably sounds ridiculous to most and I don't really know how else to explain it other than I didn't really have time to process anything mentally before I was thrown into intense labor.  This labor was what I would describe as fast and furious.  

My estimated due date was July 22 - a Wednesday - and I pretty much figured I'd go past that as I always do.  But it's still not easy to see that day come and go.  The day after my due date (Thursday), my mom took all of my girls to her house to spend the night so Septtro and I could have some time with just each other before the baby.  We went to our favorite restaurants and picked out a lovie for Eliza and just enjoyed each other's company and conversation.  

That night, I had pretty intense contractions.  They weren't close enough together for me to start timing them but they were enough to force me out of bed to get more comfortable.  One of my dear friends was also expecting her fourth girl two days after me and it was pretty uncanny how similar our pre-labor patterns were.  We were texting each other Thursday evening and most times, her and I would respond "same here".  I joked our girls were conspiring together.  

I woke up Friday morning babyless once again but would have contractions hard enough for me to have to stop what I was doing, yet nothing that would be consistent.  I felt like every time I moved, I would have a contraction.  Septtro and I headed to breakfast at one of my favorite spots and later that evening, we picked up our girls from my parent's house and headed home. That evening, I got a text from my friend that she had been admitted to the hospital - it was her due date and I while I was genuinely excited for her, I wished so badly I could join her.  I told her I'd come up and visit the next day.

At 2am the next morning (Saturday, July 25th), I woke up again with intense contractions.  I went to use the restroom as I always do and checked Instagram and my email - seemed just like every other early morning contraction wake up call.  I tried to lay back down but wasn't able to get comfortable.  I started swaying back and forth, working through each contraction - praying and secretly hoping maybe today was the day.  

Exactly a week earlier, I'd had consistent contractions for about 45 minutes and then they stopped.  So I knew I wanted to time them to be sure I was in real labor.  I started my app and began timing.  Mine always start out really close together - about 2-5 minutes.  They were lasting about a minute or more but I still wasn't convinced.  I'd had so many times before that turned into nothing for the past week or so.  

Septtro ended up waking up on his own around 2:15am while I was working through contractions.  I informed him what was going on and he slowly got out of bed and started getting some things together.  I called my mom around 2:30am from his cell phone and remember her answering with "Is she in labor??"  :)  I told her it was me and I thought maybe she should come over.  I figured if it turned out to be a false alarm, she could go home and take a nap later. 

The contractions stayed pretty consistent over an hour's time.  I went to the girl's toy room (thus the dirty mirror) to take a picture just in case it was the last one of my pregnant belly.  
I just have to post this comparison of me in labor with my last (left) and then this time (right) - almost same outfit and seems my belly actually wasn't as big this time as last.  :)  But I also had an anterior placenta (placenta up front, baby in back) so that could have been why.  
My mom arrived around 3:30am and Septtro called the on-call midwife to let her know we were on our way.  Before we left the house, Septtro had gotten into the car and I was standing outside with my mom.  I had a pretty intense contraction again and had to lean on her for support.  Closing my eyes seemed to help me focus better and even before my mom got to the house, I preferred to be outside in the dark working through the contractions.  I guess the quiet and darkness was just calming to me.  As soon as my mom headed into our house, we headed to the hospital.  We live a good 30 minutes away and during the ride, I think I had maybe four contractions.  I kept thinking how embarrassed I'd be if this wasn't true labor.  

It's funny how each labor is so different because with my last, I could not stand to be sitting down.  Yet this time, it was the opposite - I felt incredible pressure when I wasn't sitting down!  Maybe that's why the car ride didn't seem all that bad. I can remember Septtro reminding me to stay in control during the contractions and helping me lower my tone and relax each time to work through them.  

We got to the hospital around 4:00am.  Septtro got me a wheelchair and we headed to the sixth floor.  When we got to the triage desk, I felt like everybody was moving extremely slowly. I'm sure they probably weren't but it felt like it to me.  As I was sitting in the wheelchair, I had a contraction and the nurse commented "Oh that was a big one".  There were actually two midwives there - one was trying to attend as many water births as possible as she was fairly new to the program.  She came to check me and I was preparing myself to hear 2-3 cm.  I was actually fine with knowing because I was planning to use the water to labor and birth in this time so I wanted to be able to go through transition with the help of the water (with my last labor, I labored as long as I could at home and was 8 cm when I got to the hospital).  My legs started to shake a bit, which did make me wonder if I was further along than I thought - the result of a surge of hormones especially during transition.  

She checked me and, to my surprise, said I was 8 cm - again??!  I mean I was glad but in a way actually a bit disappointed too because I didn't want get to the hospital that late this time.  I wanted to use the tub as long as possible to labor in.  But honestly, I don't know how we could have gotten there any sooner than we did!  I woke up at 2am, timed contractions for an hour, and we left my house as soon as my mom got there.  I guess the week or so prior my body had been progressing more than I figured.

I remember turning to Septtro and saying "well we get to meet her today!!".  They tried getting a read on her heart rate but it was very difficult because she was so low and I wanted to be in a certain position to work through the contractions.  After they realized how far along I was, I felt things started to move a bit quicker.  

They soon wheeled me to the labor room and had me get on the bed.  I knew they had to get a read on the baby for about 20 minutes before letting me in the water - another reason I'd hoped to get there earlier in labor.  They wanted to make sure when I had a contraction, her heart rate responded appropriately.  Her heart tones sounded great but apparently, she thought it'd be a great time to take a nap.  Her heart rate never dropped but it wasn't increasing whenever I had a contraction either.  That's my girl - the girl who had scared me multiple times during pregnancy by not moving when I would poke and prod her.  Turns out, even four weeks later, this baby loves her sleep!  Can I get a hallelujah??!

I was probably in the bed for close to 45 minutes so they could get the proper reads on her.  I can remember staring at the tub filled with water, wishing I could get in.  I would ask them every now and then how much longer I'd have to sit in the bed.  To make things a bit more interesting, the nurse totally butchered my IV (as a vbac, I'm required to have a port access just in case).  If I'm noticing that pain above my contractions, that's sort of a problem.  I heard her say "I can't do this" and another nurse easily put the port in on my other hand.  

Finally, I got the go ahead to get in the tub.  And Oh. My. Word! It felt amazing!  I'm not saying it completely took the pain away but it helped immensely with the intense pressure I was feeling and allowed me to relax even more.  I believe I got in the tub a little after 5am.  

I kept changing positions. I couldn't really find one that I felt was most comfortable. The midwives reminded me that in my birth plan, I'd expressed I wanted to basically deliver the baby with Septtro and they said they would be hands off unless I told them otherwise.  I was very thankful for how respectful they were of my wishes.  We had planned for Septtro to get in the tub with me, but there really wasn't enough room for him to be in there and for me to maneuver like I wanted.  I ended up settling in a position where I was on my knees and leaning over the tub towards Septtro.  He was so good about reminding me to control my response to the contractions. The midwives kept a very calm presence and at one point I remember one telling me how great I was handling the contractions and she never would have thought when I first came in that I was already dilated to 8 centimeters.  I can't tell you how big of a deal it is to hear words of encouragement when I'm in labor.  Mind and body are definitely very connected and it's important to me to feel as relaxed and at ease as possible to allow my body to follow suit.  

Not too long after I'd been in the tub, I started crying and telling Septtro I didn't want to do it anymore.  I couldn't do it anymore.  I knew, in the back of my mind, this is something I've said the past two times right before I was ready to push.  But in my state of mind at the moment, I didn't think I was anywhere close to seeing my baby's face.  It felt like forever away.  The midwife tried to encourage me saying "you're so very close" and of course, Septtro reassured me I WAS doing it and it wouldn't be long.  I believe I said that two him twice while crying.  And sure enough, shortly after, I felt a bit "pushy".  I told one of the midwives after a contraction and she said "yeah, uh huh, I can tell".  :)  

I love that for this labor and my last that they never checked me to see if I was fully dilated.  They just relied on my body to let them know.  I think this is the reason why I ended up pushing for so long (almost two hours) with my second (different provider).  They had checked me and I was fully dilated but she likely wasn't low enough for my pushing to be as effective.  

I admitted to everybody I was scared to push.  I was afraid maybe I was pushing only because I wanted it to be over.  I wanted to see her.  After all, I'd *just* let everybody know I didn't want to do it anymore.  I don't remember anybody responding to that fear (they may have) but I just started paying more attention to my body during the contractions and pushed a bit harder until I knew there was no need to be scared - it was time.  

When I push, I'm really loud.  And it's not really because it's extremely painful.  I think it's just because of all that pressure - it's intense. And I have to release all that energy somehow.  I can remember the midwives getting my attention at one point and telling me to not scream, just push.  Haha.  Looking back, that was because screaming isn't so productive but concentrating on pushing and, if needed, letting out lower tone noises is.  I tried more breathing techniques like panting, especially when I felt she was close to crowning so I didn't push too quickly and allowed my skin to stretch.  

As I was pushing for a short while, I felt my water break.  Same thing happened with my last - it wasn't until I was pushing that it broke.  I remember at one point reaching down to feel her head, thinking because of how much pressure I was feeling, it must be almost out but I could only feel maybe an orange-slice worth of her head.  I told her "cmon baby!" as if she could hear me.  :)  After a few more pushes, the head was either all the way out or close to it when I switched positions from kneeling to laying more on my back in the water.  Her shoulders birthed the quickest of all of mine and in an instant, I had her in my arms!  I'm not sure exactly how long I pushed for but it likely wasn't more than 15 minutes.  Her cord was wrapped around her shoulder so we slipped that off.  I immediately cried and held her tight.  Nobody else touched her or myself which I loved.  In the past, a nurse or doctor/midwife would start wiping them off and I just wanted a moment...and we got that.  She was COVERED in vernix - it was all over the midwife and my legs. My other babies either had none or very little when they were born.  I called it birthday frosting as I'd heard others say before and the midwife said she'd never heard it called that.  I started rubbing it into her skin as I'd read it helps moisturize and protect baby from germs.  

look at all that birthday frosting!! (mostly on her bottom and legs)

We sat in the tub and snuggled a while and then I started to make my way to the bed.  They don't want you to deliver the placenta in the tub because it'd be hard to tell if there's an issue with hemorrhaging.  I had consented to immediate pitocin via the port I was required to have so they wouldn't do any fundal massaging, which was extremely painful last time and a very bad experience.  Septtro got to do skin to skin briefly before the nurse took her to check her oxygen level.  She wasn't pinking up and I even commented on her color still being pale/blue.  They took her to the warmer and she got angry and cried and pinked up very nicely.  :)  

Eliza was born almost exactly 8 hours after my friend's fourth baby girl and they ended up just a few doors down at the hospital so we went to visit.  


I am so thankful to the Lord for a safe delivery for both of us and for our precious daughter!  We are so in love!!!
We don't lack for someone wanting to hold her!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Yes, I Want a Son

Ok so it's been a while.  Part of the reason is our laptop has been broken and I just can't type out blogs on my phone.  :)

Anyway, so I haven't said it here yet but I'm expecting our fourth baby in July.
 
Septtro came up with this clever word puzzle to announce the pregnancy
The Lord has taken me on quite a journey throughout this pregnancy (He tends to like to use my pregnancies to increase my trust and reliance on Him).  


I've always wanted a son.  Even when I babysat as a teenager, I preferred the games outside and ball throwing to Barbies and painting nails.  I'm not a very girly person myself and the initial thought of having my first girl was a bit scary.  But I've gotten quite accustomed to the girly world and quite like it now. 
my beautiful little ballerinas

And yet, my heart still longs to experience having a son, too - to become a part of that world as well.  That relationship of a mother and son everybody talks about just as highly as a father and daughter; it's just special.  You can't describe it.  And I just figured I'd get to experience both worlds by now.  

Even before my third girl, Logann, was born, people would ask if we are hoping for a boy.  I would tell them I didn't care.  But deep down, I did have a desire for a son.  I was afraid to tell anybody I did want a boy out of fear it would make me sound like I didn't value my girls as much.  That's absolutely not the case.  I feel if I had a house full of boys, I would want to experience what life would be like with a daughter as well.  This desire I had - for a son, to experience both gender worlds - it was a good desire, one I felt was from the Lord in fact, and so I did not realize it when I began to make it an idol of mine.

After Logann was born, people commented even more about us having a boy.

"Oh are you gonna try for a boy next time?" 
"Your poor husband" 
"Wow - just wait until they become teenagers!!"

I know they didn't mean for their comments to upset me, but because my heart had made having a son an idol of mine, I took even more offense to what they said.  Isn't that usually the case anyway though?  We take the most offense when there's an underlying heart issue of our own??

So when I found out we were expecting again - and even before then - I prayed almost daily that God would grant us a son.  But I also prayed that if He gave us another daughter, that He would prepare my heart to accept His plan.  Because I knew that He knew better than me.  And His plan is better than my plan.  

The day we went for our ultrasound, we actually didn't tell anybody where we were going.  I wanted my husband and I to find out together - just the two of us.  There would be no comments or pressure from others to react a certain way.  We decided not to find out during the sonogram, but had the technician write it down for us.  We took the envelope to a nearby grocery store and asked if they could fill two cupcakes with the appropriate colored icing.  

And the sweetest thing happened in my heart...I looked at the picture of my baby's face before we found out the gender - this sweet gift of life the Lord had given to us - and I fell in love.  Boy or girl, I didn't care.  I truly didn't.  Of course, the desire was still there, but God was starting to work in my heart.  

Septtro bit into the cupcake as we sat there in our van to reveal we are expecting our fourth girl.  I must say, I wasn't disappointed.  God had answered my prayer!  He had prepared my heart to receive this news!!
Just look at that sweet little baby! What a precious gift!!!!!
Afterwards, I sent a dear friend of mine a text to tell her the news.  She had four boys in a row and really desired to have a daughter - opposite situation of me.  She had understood my emotions and feelings before and I knew she would understand again.  Her words deeply encouraged my heart and expressed feelings I had that I couldn't express and ones I didn't feel most people would be able to relate to:
"God knows what he's doing, we can trust Him! But sadness is okay too. I remember those days leading up to my 4th son.  It wasn't him that I struggled with, but the way my life would look (yes! this explained my heart exactly).  I still would walk down the aisle of girl clothes and wonder if I'd ever experience the relationship with a daughter. But God is faithful to heal us and change our hearts towards gratitude in the rich blessings He pours out to us.  He is so good to even give us children. It's an honor and privilege that we fail to see often times.  He will change your heart, heal you or give you the desire you have in His time.  Our spiritual service of worship is daily presenting ourselves on His altar, regardless of our will or desires."
"Be very confident in what God has given you and see it as a calling.  That's what I had to do.  I started feeling honored that God saw me worthy of raising men. That was a huge deal! Think of the impact you'll have on these four beautiful women.  You'll teach them biblical womanhood and it is lacking majorly in the Body of Christ! Just think how God will use you in their lives and all the things we go through as mothers...you'll be there for them! Keep the eternal perspective. Pray for it because that's the only way we can put the value of what people say or do in its proper place." 
And now, I can honestly say that I would be absolutely fine if God saw fit to give us all girls.  And I'm over the moon excited to welcome another daughter into our family!!  Of course, the desire to have a son is still there.  But I believe it's no longer my idol.  Now, I'm just grateful He has entrusted me with these four precious lives. And when people make comments about our house full of girls, I'm happy to explain how incredibly grateful I am.

Yes, I am nervous about raising four girls.  Yes, I'm nervous about the tween/teenage years. Yes, I'm absolutely terrified I've already ruined opportunities to cultivate an open and honest relationship between my girls and myself.  But by His grace....

Oh, and the Lord did bless my friend with a daughter - her fifth.  :)  She mentioned how humbled she was because she was in a place of contentment before they knew the gender. Maybe one day I'll be in the same situation.  Maybe not.  Maybe one day I'll have a house full of grandsons. Maybe not.  But I do know I am so very thankful for each one of my girls!!!  They are all such precious gifts!!!  I hope they know that.  I hope they know and will always know how cherished they are!

Now, if we could only agree on a name....