Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nora's Birth Story

Fair warning: Due to the nature of the topic, this post is a little more TMI than I usually write.  

My entire pregnancy with our sweet Nora was anything but ordinary. It shouldn't come as any surprise, then, that her actual birth followed suit. Even two weeks later, I'm still trying to process the chain of events that brought my sweet girl into this world.

As I've shared before, I was hospitalized at 35 weeks with preterm labor and put on strict bed rest. During that time, my contractions never lessened, and I expected Baby Girl to come at any moment. But she didn't.

When I hit the magical number of 37 weeks and was allowed off of bed rest, I thought that getting up and walking around would do the trick. Despite intense, consistent contractions, Baby Girl still stayed put.

At my 38 week checkup (a Wednesday), I had an ultrasound done because I had started measuring even further ahead than I had before (as in, 4+ weeks ahead). The ultrasound showed a high level of amniotic fluid, enough that the nurse practitioner was concerned. Baby Girl was not engaged and was basically swimming around inside of me. She could turn breech or, even worse, my water breaking could cause the cord to prolapse. I was told to come in the next Monday (when I was 39 weeks exactly), and they'd check my fluid levels again.

On Monday, Baby Girl was still very healthy and active, but my fluid levels were still rising.   I really, really wanted to give birth naturally and go into labor on my own. Yet, after almost 4 weeks of prodromal labor, I hadn't progressed (I had been sitting at 3 cm dilated that entire time). My OBGYN and I sat down and had a very frank discussion about my options. Normally, she encouraged women to wait to go into labor naturally. In her professional opinion, however, she didn't think Baby Girl was coming on her own, or at least not for awhile. She felt that my high fluid levels were the reason that the contractions I was having weren't going anywhere. They just weren't effective at bringing Baby down because there was so much fluid. With the risks associated with my rising fluid levels, she encouraged me to schedule an induction. The risk of cord prolapse was still there even in an induction in a hospital, but at least then emergency help would be there. If my water broke at home, I was 45+ minutes from the hospital, and could find myself in a potentially dangerous situation.  Andy and I prayed about it, and decided to go ahead with the induction.  I was told to come in to be induced that Wednesday (October 15th) at 5 am. I would be 39 weeks, 2 days at that point.

The next two days, I still prayed that I would go into labor naturally. Oddly enough, however, the contractions that had been so consistent for the past 4 weeks, all but went away. So, at 5 am that Wednesday morning we marched into the hospital. They checked me and I was still 3 cm dilated. No surprise there.

At 6:30 am they started me on a low Pitocin drip. For the next 4 hours they steadily increased it, to almost no avail. I was having contractions, but they were very inconsistent, and I almost couldn't feel them. Andy and I watched TV and I prayed that something would start happening soon. Finally, at 10:45 am, my doctor came in and checked me. I was barely a 4. The news, while unsurprising based on the contractions I was having, was discouraging. My doctor had originally planned to break my water, but Baby Girl's head was still so high up that she didn't feel it was safe to do so. She suggested I get an epidural to see if it would relax anything, and then to try some different positions and things to bring baby down. I didn't have an epidural with my son, and I was hoping to at least hold out as long as possible with this baby, but I reluctantly agreed. The anesthesiologist came in and I found myself regretting the decision during the whole process. I wasn't even feeling these contractions, for goodness sake...why was I getting an epidural???

While the anesthesiologist was wrapping up, Baby Girl's heartbeat dropped during two separate contractions.  The nurse had me move into different positions, but both times her heartbeat didn't go up until the contractions stopped.  The anesthesiologist (who was still in the room), suggested that perhaps I was dilating more.  The nurse checked me, and I was now at a 5.  Progress, at least!  Baby's heartbeat didn't drop again, so I was left alone lying on my back.  The intention was to sit me up in an hour and see if we could do anything to get Baby engaged.

As soon as the nurse and anesthesiologist left (about 11:45), I started actually feeling the contractions more.  I texted my mom and update and my husband and I joked about singing "Let It Go" during labor.  Within minutes, the contractions started getting more intense, and I wasn't able to text anymore.  I had to get on my left side and focus to get through the contractions.  The epidural didn't seem to be helping much.  My feet were numb, but my pelvis was most definitely not.

At 12:09 I had my husband text my mom that the contractions were getting a lot worse.  A few minutes later we decided to call the nurse and see if they could figure out something with the epidural.  Ten minutes later, the nurse still hadn't shown up.  I felt a pop, a gush of fluid, and sudden, excruciating pain.

This time when we called the nurse, me shouting in the background brought her pretty quickly.  My husband told her I thought my water had broken.  She said she'd check me and slowly moved about getting things (obviously doubtful, since she had left me not too long ago).  My husband repeated it two more times and finally started to check.  The poor, young nurse's eyes got as big as an owl's and she quickly called for another nurse (apparently it was a lot of fluid, and my amniotic sac was half hanging out).  The other nurse came in, took one look at me, and said I was a 10, that the baby had dark hair, and that they needed to get the doctor and a table immediately.

I meanwhile was in the most excruciating pain I've ever experienced.  My first epidural-free labor was a cake-walk compared to this.  It felt like my entire pelvis was splitting open, and I had to yell and get onto my hands and knees just to get through each contraction.  I told my husband that he needed to get the doctor and have them cut the baby out, because I couldn't do this.  I as much told the nurses the same.

While the first nurse tried to get ahold of my doctor, the other nurse turned me onto my side.  I listened as they tried to find a doctor.  My doctor was in a c-section and couldn't get out, and her partner didn't answer.  Finally they reached another doctor who had just left and she said she'd be there in 5 minutes.  I told the nurse that I didn't want to wait and that she needed to just get the baby out.  She assured me that she could deliver the baby if she needed to.  I heard her tell my husband that if I opened my legs the baby would be born.

We waited the 5 minutes for the doctor, but my body was pushing on its own.  I wouldn't be able to make it much longer.  Meanwhile, the nurse was helping to stretch the baby's head out.

Finally, the doctor arrived, put on gloves and sat down in front of me.  I opened my legs, gave two little pushes, and there at my feet lay my beautiful, perfect baby girl.  They hadn't even had time to put up a sheet or drop the bed.  I could have caught her, had I had the presence of mind of Kourtney Kardashian.  I watched as she gave her first little scream and they handed her into my arms, healthy as can be.  The time was 12:57 pm...just over an hour after the nurse had said I was dilated to a 5.


We are so thankful for our sweet little Nora Jane.  Her birth was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through, but holding her for the first time was more than worth it.  






       


    

Friday, October 17, 2014

She's Here!!!


I'm pleased to announce that Baby Girl Baker finally made her grand entrance into this world!

Nora Jane Baker was born 10/15/14 at 1:56 PM after a very crazy and intense birth.  8 lb, 1 oz.  20.5" long.  Healthy as can be!  Hopefully I'll have the chance to write out her birth story.  Until then, I'm home with my sweet little family, adjusting to life as a family of four.






Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Before Baby Bucket List


Well, here I am at 38 weeks, 1 day and still no baby.  After all the trouble we had with preterm labor, a hospital stay, and a week and a half of bed rest, we were definitely expecting Baby Girl sometime last week.  So far, she's still hanging out in there.

After my doctor'a appointment this past Thursday, my husband and I decided to make a little bucket list of sorts of things to do before the baby is born.  While we may be in a time of waiting, we know it's for a reason, and we don't want to waste it.

We've been adding to and adjusting the list as the days have gone on, depending on our mood.  Here are a few of the things we've done in the past five days:

*Watched Fiddler on the Roof with Miles  while Andy worked on his Jeep.


*Andy made some progress on his Jeep.  

*Got donuts for breakfast...definite treat right there!

*We took a drive on a road I'd been wanting to go on forever...with our bags in the car just in case. ;)

*Extended that drive on another road that I just love driving on. (I so wish I'd got pictures!)

*Ate dinner at a restaurant that holds a lot of memories for Andy as a child.

*Made it to church for the first time in weeks.

*Took Miles to a local pumpkin patch that opened up this year.  He loved it...and we did too.





*Went to a movie...technically we only made it to a movie at church (they were showing God's Not Dead), but it was still nice!

*Had dinner with friends after the movie.  

I've also just been soaking up as much time with my boys (especially the soon-to-be big brother) as possible.  I'm having to go extra slow, but Miles and I have been enjoying going to the park, playing at home, and taking afternoon naps.  Andy and I have been enjoying getting to watch "Big People" movies and shows before bed at night.  

The introvert in me is also definitely coming out.  Before Miles was born, I didn't really want to do too much except settle in at home and "nest".  I know several people thought something was wrong, but it wasn't.  It's just how I prepare for everything that's about to happen!

So, if I seem aloof or distant in the next few days or weeks until Baby Girl comes, don't worry.  I'm not depressed and it's not you...it's just me and my introverted self. ;)

Anyway, a few other things we've talked about doing before baby comes are:

*Getting ice cream

*Maybe going to an actual movie theatre. ;)

*One last Jeep ride

*Concert at the Ozark Folk Center

*Smores on the back deck

*Work on the garden

*Drive down to the creek

*Tommy Q and rootbeer floats (for those of you who know what we ate the night before Miles made his swift arrival ;) )



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Ugly Truth

Feeling so out-of-control of everything the past few weeks has really brought to light some secrets buried deep in my heart.  Dark, ugly secretsLike, how prideful I am as a pregnant woman.

I see this picture I posted on my Instagram feed some months back and cringe.  The heart of it was so braggy…so self-centered. 


You see, secretly, I felt that the easiness of my first pregnancy was all due to me.  I ate good, tried to stay active, and purposed to stay positive through it all.  My feet barely swelled, heartburn was non-existent, and I delivered a healthy baby boy at 40 weeks, 1 day with no Pitocin, no epidural, and a less than 10 hour labor.  Motherhood ended up being far more challenging than I expected, but I loved it and eventually thrived as a stay-at-home mom.

Then I became pregnant with Baby #2.  I expected nothing less than the easy pregnancy I’d had before.  I planned on staying healthy and active, keeping up my garden, being an amazing mother to my toddler, and babywearing until the very end, when I’d go in and deliver another healthy baby with a short, easy labor.  I would be even more prepared this time.  I knew what to expect.  This wasn’t my first rodeo.

As the weeks of my pregnancy went on, I found myself slowly losing more-and-more of the “control” I thought I had.  First, one of the ventricles in Baby Girl’s brain was slightly enlarged (which, thankfully, resolved itself).  Then, excessive contractions and cramping almost landed me in the hospital at 25 weeks.  I found myself having to go much slower than with my first pregnancy.  We had to turn down outings with friends, for fear that the heat and walking would be too much for me.  I tried to pace myself, but still found myself pushing…perhaps too much.  Heartburn and breathlessness plagued me incessantly. 

Still, I had some control. I was going to be ready.  I had lists made of what all needed to be done before baby came.  They included everything from deep cleaning the house to making freezer meals to packing everyone’s bags to being stocked up on paper plates. 

Every shred of control was lost when I found myself hospitalized with preterm labor at 35 weeks, 3 days.  I was sent home to face the daunting challenge of strict bedrest for the next week and half.  All of my best laid plans went down the tubes.  At night, I’d hear my son crying for me and just ache, knowing that I could not go to him…that someone else would have to.  I found my independent self having to rely on others just to bring me water, change my son’s diaper, or find the extra box of cereal in the kitchen.  I had time to think…and I thought a lot.

I thought about how prideful I had been.  I thought about how nothing, as it turns out, had ever been in my control…nothing was due to my superior actions as a pregnant woman.  This had been a hard pregnancy, with unexpected twists and turns, and it was okay to admit that.  It was okay to embrace that, knowing that nothing I had experienced this go around made me less or more of a woman or a mother.

Right now, my baby carriers are collecting dust, my garden lays fallow, and my son is having to learn that Mama can only do so much today.  At 37 weeks, 2 days, I wait in limbo…waiting for the arrival of my so very wanted baby girl.  I no longer have any expectations of what her birth will be like.  At this point, my once decidedly-pro-natural-childbirth self would even welcome a C-section, if it meant that I would have my little girl in my arms at last and that this pregnancy and everything that comes with it would be over. 

Today, I know that I’m not “Super Pregnant Mommy”.  Today, I feel very out-of-control.  Today,  I know that that’s perfectly okay.          

Friday, September 26, 2014

God Sees the Little Tears

A few weeks after my son was born, my sweet little cat died.  I cried, but I mostly hid those tears.  In light of all the suffering going on in the world, it didn't feel right to be sad about a cat.  I grieved, but silently.

A few weeks ago, one of our beloved dogs passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly.  Again, I found myself stifling my emotions.  With people fighting cancer and babies in the NICU, it didn't seem right to blubber about a pet.  Blubber I did, however.

Now I find myself on day 8 of bed rest.  On day 3 I found myself back at the hospital with contractions, silently begging God to make them the real thing...for Baby Girl to really, truly be coming.  As much as I wanted to keep her in longer for her sake, I was done on my part.  The unknowns, the contractions, the feeling terrible, and the being stuck in bed, unable to care for myself, let alone my family--all these were killing me inside.

Baby Girl did not come that day, and she's still healthy and cooking inside of me.  As we drove home from that second hospital visit, I found myself blinking back tears.  Once again, they seemed so silly, so futile.  I should be happy that my baby girl was still safe and healthy.  I should be thanking the Lord for each day more with her inside of me, knowing that that was one day more for her to grow and for her lungs to develop.

I took my frustrations and fears to the Lord and, to my surprise, was not met with condemnation and ridicule.  Instead, I felt the most overwhelming peace flood over me.  In my lack of control I found the most amazing strength.

Sometimes it takes the smallest things to make us feel forgotten by God.  The glorious truth, however, is that He will never leave us or forsake us.  It's okay to grieve, to be sad, even in the little things.  No tear is too insignificant for God to miss.  He sees and He cares.  So often, it is in these little tears that we need Him the most.  For, in our grief and hurt, no matter how small, we find the One True Balm...the Source of radical, inexplicable Love and Peace.

Take heart, dear one.  He sees even the little tears.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

When Plans Fail

I was so determined to be ready when Baby Girl Baker made her grand entrance into this world, somewhere around her due date.  Before she came, the house would be spotless, the freezer full, bags packed, and all arrangements made.  According to that plan, I’d be cleaning my house right now, waiting for my parents to arrive, and looking forward to the baby shower this Sunday and more relatives visiting this coming week.
Yesterday morning preterm labor sent me to the hospital where I spent a restless night tossing and turning, hooked up to monitors and IVs.  This morning the doctors let me go home with orders for strict bed rest.  I’m 35 weeks, 4 days pregnant, and we’re trying to get Baby Girl to at least 37 weeks. 
So, instead of doing what I think I should be doing, I’m lying in my bed with instructions to only get up to use the bathroom.  I won’t even be able to make it to Baby Girl’s shower this Sunday.  There’s so much to be done, but nothing that I can do, and little chance that I’ll be able to before she makes her arrival.  Things like this, they can’t be planned for…or planned around.
Yet, I see God’s hand so clearly through all of this.  I see that He’s using this to whittle me away…to make me stop trusting in myself and my “plans” and to start trusting in Him.  I see that I need to stop thinking I can be Super Mommy all the time, with the perfect house and the perfect plan.  Because I can’t.  Expecting myself to be that way only sets me up to fail.  I see that His timing and His plans are always far better than ours in the end, even when we don’t understand why now.  I see that it’s going to be okay
I just have to make it a week and a half.  I’m sure that the dust will sit, we’ll be eating out of pizza boxes, and my poor husband will be too tired for words…but we’ll make it.  And soon, one way or another, our precious baby girl will be in our arms and this will be all over it.  And it’ll all be worth it. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Things I Want My Daughter to Know

The thought of having a daughter has at times made me scared silly.  Not that raising a son is any less challenging or important.  It’s just that, as much as I see myself in my son, I know I will see myself even more so in my daughter.  And I have been there myself.  I have known the joys of womanhood, but I have also known the tremendous heartaches.  I think about the mistakes I have made and worry that she will make the same, knowing that I cannot spare her from many of them. 

As the day approaches that I will finally hold her in my arms, I think often about all that I want to teach her and what I want her to know, especially about being a woman.  I know that I will make many, many mistakes as a mother, and that she will too.  To err is human, after all.  However, here are some things that I want to tell her:

God has given you specific and unique talents and abilities…don’t waste them.  No woman is the same, and neither should you think that their callings are all the same.  God has given you interests and gifts that He has given no one else.  Cultivate them, pursue them, and develop them.  He wants you to use them so that He may mold you into the woman He wants you to be. 

Be proud when you are smart and knowledgeable.  Growing up, I was always self-conscious about being “smarter” than the boys in school.  This would sound crazy to you if you knew how intelligent and educated my mother is, but even as a young girl I had picked up on the stigma that guys don’t like girls with “brains”.  Don’t be afraid to be smart and good at school.  God has given you those giftings for a reason, and later in life you will only be looked up to, not down upon, for them.

Strength and godly womanhood are not mutually exclusive.  Often times there’s so much emphasis in church circles placed on wives being submissive, gentle, and quiet that we think we need to tiptoe around like scared church mice.  I don’t believe that’s what God wanted us to do either.  Take one look at the women of the Bible and you will see that they were strong, brave women who knew their own minds.  Esther went before her husband the king without being summoned, Tamar committed treason against her own people, Ruth left her family and all she had ever known, and Mary bravely faced disgrace and social stigma to carry her Savior in her womb.  Godly women are also strong women…I believe they have to be!

Submission does not equal weakness.  In line with the last post, submission to your husband does not mean being a doormat.  It means letting him lead, but choosing to do so out of respect for him. 

Be strong in your beliefs, but know why you believe them and what really matters.  Don’t be legalistic.  Don’t believe something just because your parents believe it, or because a pastor you like believes it, or because a boy you’re interested in believes it.  Search the Scripture for yourself, pray, and seek God, and find your standards and convictions there.  Standards and rules that are man-made and not backed by Scripture have legalism at their center.  Don’t get caught in that trap. 

Don’t change who you are for anyone.  Don’t change your standards or your convictions or your beliefs to please anyone.  If you have to change who you are for someone, then they are making you feel guilty for being who God created you to be.  That kind of person deserves no place in your life.  That goes for both loosening your standards and raising them.  A person, especially a guy, who expects you to dress more conservatively or act a certain way for him (within reason, when you are following the standards you are personally convicted about) is pulling you into the trap of legalism.  Steer clear. 

Don’t look to guys to validate your worth.  Guys will hurt your feelings and overlook you.  I can guarantee that, one day, at least one (and maybe more) will break your heart.  Don’t look to a man to validate your worth.  Know who you are in Christ and find your strength and your self-worth in that.
 
You are a beautiful, captivating woman of God who doesn’t need anyone else’s approval to know that.  God has created you beautiful and unique.  He calls you His daughter…His enchanting, beautiful, precious creation.  When the storms of life threaten to overwhelm you, cling to that.  Find your strength and your personhood in Him and Him alone.  Seek out who it is that He has called you to be and be it to the best of your abilities.     

Embrace your womanhood.  Being a woman is a wonderful, hard, challenging, joyful thing.  Be glad you are a woman.  I know from experience that, for all of the painful, difficult things we face in life, that the blessings are a thousand-fold more wonderful.