[Still] Really Pregnant.

cb 8Technically, my due date is still twelve days away (but who’s counting). But, I have had contractions on and off for a few weeks now. He finally flipped head down, AND has dropped quite a bit. The nursery is 99% ready, co-sleeper is put together, clothes/diapers/etc are all organized and ready to go.

Just need a baby.

How far along? Thirty-eight weeks and some change

Are you showing? Absolutely.

Gender: Baby BOY #2! :)

Total weight gain: Just over 20 pounds. 

Maternity clothes: Leggings. All day erryday. Nine months pregnant in the summer was easy because summer dresses. However, winter means if I don’t feel like doing the yoga-pilates-hybrid that shaving my legs requires, it’s perfectly okay.

Stretch marks: A few little ones up near my ribs from my belly dropping.

Sleeping: Rough. I’m always exhausted but never sleep well. He’s soooo low. And I’ve had a lot of pelvic pain and “false” contractions the last few weeks.

Food Cravings: Sushi.

Anything making you sick or queasy? Everything, if I get too full. 

Miss Anything? Sleep and wine. And sushi. And wine.

Movement: Um, yes. He tries to stretch out as though he has enough room to do so. He doesn’t.

Labor signs: Braxton Hicks. Pelvic pressure. Etc. But, for weeks. So, I’ll believe it when it happens. 

Symptoms: Uncomfortable and tired. But overall, I feel okay!

Belly Button in or out: OUT. 

Wedding rings on or off: On.

Happy or moody: All of the above.

Best moments this week: Asher wiggling like crazy when Aiden talks to my belly. Melts a momma’s heart!

Looking forward to: My last days with my Bubba before he’s no longer the baby!

Things Aiden Says: Volume Two

My child says some of the most ridiculous things. I often post them on facebook, but have been saving some of the best to share at once. Here are my favorites from this week:

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A: What is this on my butt?
M: A scratch
A: Oh, I thought someone glued a long red hair to my butt cheek
.

The wipes feel phenomical (phenomenal) on my tush.

Why do they call them booby traps? It sounds like boobies. Boobies is a funny word… …boobies…. -laugh-

A: Why are you crying?
M: Because I just love you so much.
A: Okay. Girls are so weird.

A: What does deadifying mean?
M: Huh?
A: Like in Harry Potter when he deadifies them.
M: Oh, petrified?
A: Yeah
M: It’s like he freezes them.
A: Ohhhhh. Wait. How do they go poop if they’re frozen?

A: Can I tell you a joke?
M: Sure
A: What happened when the chicken crossed the road?
M: What
A: He got squished by a car.

[Dad starts eating a bag of jalapeño chips in the car]
A: Is that smell food? Or a fart?

A: -indecipherable whining-
M: Sorry, I don’t speak whinese.
A: MOM. THAT IS NOT A THING. STOP.

Little Girl at Museum: I have one mommy who stays home with me all the time and another mommy who goes to work.
Aiden: Well my dad has two dads and my Uncle has a husband. So that seems normal to me.

Be sure to follow me on instagram for more frequent Aiden-posts.

Things Aiden Says: Volume One

My child says some of the most ridiculous things. I often post them on facebook, but have been saving some of the best to share at once. Here are my favorites from this week:aidenseriesMommy: Why is it so cold in this car? 

Aiden: Well, I’m not a scientist, but isn’t the knob supposed to be on the RED side and not the blue side?

Aiden: Sometimes I pray to God.

Mommy: What do you say to him?

Aiden: Sometimes I thank him for my family, other times I thank him for not making my poop smell so bad. I’m full of poop. 

Mommy: What happened to the rest of my tea, Aiden?

Aiden: …it must’ve emapovated in the sun when you weren’t looking. 

Aiden: When Asher comes out, we’re going to snuggle for a while, and then we’re going to pray for a baby sister together. 

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Mommy: [after listening to A plan a playdate] …but how will he know how to get there?

Aiden: He will just have to tell his Mommy to goggle it. Obviously. 

Aiden: I think I want to stay short forever.

Mommy: Why?

Aiden: Because if I get big, you won’t love my cute little booty butt anymore. 

Aiden: Sometimes my farts stay in and go all the way up to my neck and turn into burps that don’t taste good. 

Mommy: -coughing-

Aiden: Why are you coughing so much?

Mommy: I have an itch in my throat.

Aiden: Well, come here. I’ll just scratch it for you and then you can stop getting on my nerves with that coughin.

Aiden: Why do you have to go potty every time you stand up?

Mommy: Because when I stand up, brother falls onto my bladder. It’s what happens when you’re pregnant.

Aiden: Yeah. Pregnant and old. 

Aiden: -laugh, laugh, snort, laugh-

Mommy: Why are you laughing so crazy?

Aiden: I’m laughing like a pig like you do. -Snort-

Mommy: Ready for bed?

Aiden: Have YOU seen Katy Perry yet? Because I haven’t.

Mommy: …

Aiden: YOU’RE GUNNA HEAR ME ROAR.

Thirty-Four Weeks

34I only have six more weeks (ish) left in this pregnancy. I feel like we shared the news with the world YESTERDAY. It’s so crazy how fast it has flown by.

At this point, I feel pretty good overall. I’m exhausted, no matter how much rest I get and often find myself dozing on the couch during Aiden’s quiet time.

Asher is currently breech, but has gone sideways (transverse) a few times. I’m doing a lot of spinning babies exercises and downward dog to try and coerce him into flipping, or my midwife is going to try to flip him manually (yay…) around 36-37 weeks.

Please pray he flips.

Last weekend, a great friend threw me a baby shower! So I’m feeling a little more prepared than I did a week ago. My parents gave us Asher’s crib, and my mother-in-law sent us his car seat! We pretty much have all of our basics prepared for his arrival now. Well, maybe not “prepared.” But they are here! Hubs and I are planning to get some things ready for him this weekend.

I’m having a lot of anxiety about my upcoming VBAC. I find myself getting really overwhelmed at the unknown and seriously contemplating scheduling a c-section. Then I remind myself how much my first c-section SUCKED, and continue gunning for that VBAC. Luckily, I have a supportive Husband, doula, and midwives in my corner.

I’m always hungry these days, but after two bites I usually either feel full or nauseous, or both. Asher’s head is chilling right up in my ribcage, so I’m sure that’s taking up most of the space in there right now.

My next appointment is next week at 35 weeks and some change, and then I start going weekly until Ash is born! Preferably, right on time, on his due date, in a short and easy labor.

Realistically, it’ll be April.

How far along? Thirty-four weeks

Are you showing? Absolutely.

Gender: Baby BOY #2! :)

Total weight gain: About 15-17 llbs

Maternity clothes: Leggings. All day erryday. I wore jeans yesterday and spilled coffee on them. Took that as a sign that I shouldn’t be wearing them.

Stretch marks: ONE NEW ONE. Gah. Right on my ribs. Hoping it’s a coincidence that it’s located where his head usually is. 

Sleeping: Rough. I’m always tired but never sleep well. He’s soooo low. And I’ve had a lot of pelvic pain and braxtons hicks the last few weeks.

Food Cravings: Today, I want Panera something fierce. Trying to wait until the weekend and convince Hubby we should go there!

Anything making you sick or queasy? Everything, if I get too full. 

Miss Anything? Sleep and wine. And sushi. And wine.

Movement: Um, yes. He tries to stretch out as though he has enough room to do so. He doesn’t.

Labor signs: Braxton Hicks. Usually only if I sneeze, or cough, or have to pee, or he moves suddenly. Basically all the time. 

Symptoms: Uncomfortable and tired. But overall, I feel okay!

Belly Button in or out: OUT. 

Wedding rings on or off: On.

Happy or moody: All of the above.

Best moments this week: Asher wiggling like crazy when Aiden talks to my belly. Melts a momma’s heart!

Looking forward to: My last few weeks of QT with my Bubba before he’s no longer the baby!

Stay tuned for something new coming next week, by popular request! If you follow me on Facebook, you know that my kid says some of the most ridiculous, hilarious, and wise (beyond his years) things. I’ve started writing them down to share with you. In the meantime, read his birth story by clicking here to find out Why I Won’t Just Schedule a C-Section.

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Why I Won’t Just Schedule a C-Section.

absI’m a few days late posting my own story. I have never once in almost five years sat down and allowed myself to relive it fully. I don’t even think I’ve ever told my Husband the story in it’s entirety. This is probably one of the hardest things I have ever put into words, so please be patient with me.

I don’t talk very openly about my birth experience with Aiden. It was traumatizing, to say the least. I don’t clearly remember every detail, and the ones that I do remember, I usually try to forget.

I was nineteen years old. I didn’t have the supportive partner backing me that I do now. My whole “plan” for Aiden’s birth was shot to hell when they told me I “had” to be induced at 40 weeks because of my gestational diabetes. I didn’t know that I had the right to say no. That I had the right to wait and let my body do what God made it to do. Realistically, I still may not get that chance. With the support of an amazing husband, doula, and midwives, I get to try, but it could be unsuccessful BECAUSE of the choice that I didn’t know that I could make back then.

I was admitted to the hospital at 40w2d. Cervidil was inserted. It did nothing. I was given sleeping meds and told to “rest” overnight and they would start pitocin in the morning if I hadn’t progressed. Which I hadn’t.

Have you had Pit-contractions? They suck. I labored the entire day with little-to-no progress. I was given stadol at some point, and that’s when things start to get fuzzy. I continued laboring with the pitocin and still made little progress. A nurse came in and “stretched me.”

If you’re going to allow a nurse or doctor to “stretch you,” please, for the love of all things holy, WAIT until you’ve had the epidural.

It was the MOST painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. And it only gained me a centimeter. They broke my water and I asked for the epidural. I vaguely remember the anesthesiologist was running behind, so they gave me a second dose of the stadol that I didn’t want in the first place. Minutes later, the anesthesiologist arrived to place the epidural, and I was essentially drunk. I kept falling asleep on the nurse as she desperately tried to hold my giant ten-month-pregnant body steady while he tried to place to epidural.

After this point, I have very little memory of laboring. The next semi-vivid thing I remember is being told I was ready to push hours(?) later.

It seriously could actually have been minutes, and I would have no idea that I was lying to you. I just assume hours because I remember the sun being out when I got my epidural (no idea why I remember that detail) and Aiden was born after three in the morning.

I vaguely remember pushing for what seemed like an eternity. The OR report says it was an hour. (The same OR report also says that Aiden was my third c-section, he was born at 38 weeks, and that he is actually a she…wish I was joking.) I remember having my Mom and Dad at either shoulder/knee and a very enthusiastic nurse humming and singing between my legs while Aiden’s bio-dad hovered somewhere behind her. I remember my OB finally coming in at some point and telling me Aiden wasn’t descending, my blood sugar was spiking, and he was showing signs of distress.

I remember an idiot nurse coming in and asking me if I wanted the insulin shot in my arm or my leg, looking at her like she was insane, and asking her if she knew which of those options was currently numb.

Everything that happened next is still a blur. I’ve remembered bits and pieces throughout this pregnancy, almost as if I’ve allowed myself to remember. Someone asked me if I had a living will, someone gave me some nasty drink, I cried and cried because they wouldn’t allow my mom to come into the OR with me because Aiden’s bio-dad was and I just wanted her by my side.

They wheeled me to the OR and still things are blurry. I was strapped down to the gurney and couldn’t move. I could hear surgical tools clanging, and there were a dozen people zooming around my head. I felt someone pushing and poking at my belly asking me if I could feel anything. They ended up having to increase the epidural a ton because I could feel pretty much everything on my right side.

I just laid there staring at the surgical lights wondering what the heck was happening because no one would tell me anything. Aiden’s bio-dad eventually appeared near my head. I was terrified. I just silently cried and tried desperately to stay awake.

I could feel pushing and pulling on my stomach, and after what seemed like an eternity, at 3:32am, I finally heard those first glorious cries escape Aiden’s lungs. They held him over the curtain briefly, and he was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, even in all his purple, gory, glory. He was 9 lbs 4 oz, 22.5 inches long, and had a head the size of a cantaloupe.aid1They whisked him away to clean him off and do his APGAR score and a few minutes later he was swaddled and next to my face. I kissed him and desperately wanted to hold him, but was still strapped to the gurney and couldn’t touch him.

aid2His bio-dad eventually left and went with him to the nursery, leaving me alone in the OR while they closed my belly. I cried and cried, feeling completely robbed of an experience that I waited my entire life for. I didn’t get to have skin-to-skin, or cut his cord, or breastfeed. I didn’t get to have that instant bond with my baby that I so coveted.

Soon after, they took me to recovery, which was dark and empty at 4 am. They told me to “rest.” I was beginning to go from depressed to angry. I wanted to hold my baby. I wanted to see my family. I wanted to get the hell out of that room.

After an eternity, some kid (orderly) came to roll me to my room for the rest of the hospital stay. I not-so-nicely informed him of how angry I was that I had yet to hold Aiden. Something along the lines of “my baby is going to be freaking walking by the time you people give him back to me.”  I was fuming. He clearly missed the “this patient just had her gut sliced open” memo, because he rolled right over bumps and ramps while I laid there feeling like my gut was being sliced open again.

They took me into my room, and one-by-one family members left. I honestly could not tell you (even after consulting multiple people who were there that night) who I did or didn’t see before they left.

I know that I had yet to hold my baby.

Everyone was gone, including Aiden’s bio-dad. Aiden was in the bassinet a few feet away from my bed. It was just me and him. I stared at the the fidgeting little bundle wondering how exactly I was going to reach him.

A nurse came in and tried to hand him to me. I just stared at him. Then I took this picture:aid3I would be willing to bet the nurse thought I was nuts. My child was hours old already, I had yet to hold him, and instead I took a picture. 

Right after this, she put him into my arms and he looked right up into my eyes. The love that I felt in that moment was exactly what I had always dreamed of. Unconditional, unwavering love.aid4

My birth wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t what I planned. I have nightmares constantly about that night, and occasionally have a “memory” pop up that I genuinely question the validity of.

Since becoming pregnant with Asher, everyone assumes that I’m just going to schedule another c-section. I’m not. It took me 24 weeks to find a hospital and doctors midwives that I trust enough to deliver my child. I’ve been tested and jumped through hoops like you couldn’t imagine to get the chance to have this VBAC. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “why don’t you just schedule a c-section?” or “wouldn’t it be easier to schedule a c-section?”

I encourage you, if someone you know had an emergency cesarean, don’t ask her these questions. Her story could very likely be similar to mine.

 

A Series of Birth Stories: Calli

As my own labor and delivery is rapidly approaching, I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time reading birth stories from all corners of the internet. Natural births, cesareans, home births, water births, VBACs, just to name a few. Every woman, birth, and baby is different, and I HATE seeing a woman looked down on in any way because of the way she chooses or doesn’t choose to bring her baby into this world. I decided to share some of these stories from women who were willing to share them with me.

blue 2If you’ve been following me for awhile, I’m sure you know by now that I occasionally write blog posts for my friend Taylor over at Not Just Another Teen Mom. Well, here comes another one!

This time, Taylor has put together a wonderful blog series where moms discuss their birthing stories. And what mom DOESN’T like to talk about their birth stories?! Whether good or bad, most of us will tell you every tiny little detail – sometimes we do it without you asking. I will do my best to limit some of the finer details (no talk of mucous plugs here) and I will try to keep them as short and sweet as I possibly can. Buuutttt, considering that I have two stories to tell and both labors lasted a few hours…. well, you know.

Here are my stories:

Baby J

He is four years old now, but I still remember the day he was born as though it happened minutes ago.

My labor began at home, ON my due date, right at 9:00 PM. Because he was my first child, I was way too excited to want to sleep! No way could I close my eyes – I needed to be timing contractions! They started off every 4-6 for the first hour and rapidly increased to every 2-3 the next hour. By 11:00, I was calling my OB to let them know. They gave me the go ahead, so we grabbed our bags and loaded into the car.

After triage and getting admitted, my labor began to stall. I waited until morning to talk with my doctor and we decided to go with pitocin and breaking my water.

Around lunch time, they came in and got the pitocin started. A few hours later, they broke my water.

I wanted to go without an epidural, so I did my best to labor without it for as long as I could. By about 4:00 PM, my knuckles were white as I gripped the rails of my hospital bed with each contraction. My doc came in to check and see how much progress I had made and gave me a grim report. 5 cm. 5 FREAKING CENTIMETERS. After laboring forever and being in the worst pain I’d ever experienced… no. I asked them for the epidural and they brought someone in shortly.

My doctor (who I think was the biggest airhead in the hospital) said she would come back and check on me in a few hours. Four hours later, I was so numbed up from the middle of my abdomen down that I couldn’t feel when people touched my legs – not even pressure. Doctor Airhead came back in, glanced at my monitor, saw that my contractions were mere blips on the screen, and decided she’d come back in a few more hours. Didn’t even bother to check and see where I was at.

Not even 10 minutes after Doctor Airhead left, my wonderful, glorious, amazing nurse, Lauren, came in. They had just switched shifts and because it had been awhile since I was checked last, she decided to check me herself so she personally knew where I was at. Because I was all numbed up, she said she was just going to check while I laid on my side.

She lifted the sheet, pulled my legs apart, and slowly said, “Oh…”

She then closed my legs and began to slowly peel her gloves off while backing towards the door and saying, “I’m gonna go get the doctor… because we’re ready to deliver NOW.”

“NOW?!”

“Yes. Now.”

Then she bolted out of the room.

I thought it was some kind of weird joke. They told me I’d feel pressure. I felt nothing.

His poor, unsuspecting father, was heading into the bathroom when I said, “Hey. What do you see?” and pulled the sheet back…

“THAT’S HIS HEAD?!?!”
“Seriously?”
“NO, SERIOUSLY! THAT’S HIS HEAD! OH MY GOSH…”
“Are you playing with me right now?”
“NO!!! THAT’S HIS HEAD! RIGHT THERE!”

At this point, Lauren and another nurse rushed back in.

Lauren grabbed my legs, flipped me onto my back in one motion (I still have no clue how she did that…), and told me to push. No one dropped down the bottom half of the bed, the giant overhead light didn’t come down out of the ceiling, my feet didn’t go up in the stirrups… just push. My doctor wasn’t even there.

I looked at her like she was crazy and once again, she said, “Push… NOW!”

I gave the most half-assed push of my life (I seriously put in about the same amount of effort I would to pass gas… I still didn’t think they were serious) and he came FLYING out. Lauren caught him, cut the cord, and put him on my chest with a million blankets and told me to just keep rubbing him to keep him warm. I did. And the entire time, I was crying.

I took birthing classes, did my research, read books… none of them ever talked about it happening like this.

But there he was. And with a head full of dark hair.

J&M

Born at 40 weeks and 1 day: 7 lbs 8 oz, 21.5 inches long, 7:19 PM (exactly 15 minutes after my doctor left my room), and absolutely perfect.

Baby N

Now, her story is a little less exciting. :)

I started laboring early in the morning with her, sometime around 6 or 7. I called my dad and let him know so he could come be with J while we were at the hospital, but told him to take his time. When we got to the hospital, it was about 10:30 AM. They took us back into triage where I did a whole lot of sitting and watching my contractions.

They were a little bit further apart, but strong. I had made some progress, but not as much as my doctor wanted to see before I was admitted (SHE was brilliant and compassionate… not an airhead). So my husband and I got up and started walking the halls of the hospital.

Let me just say that walking around with my husband while contracting was one of the funniest things ever. Every time I would pause to breathe through a contraction, he would pause with me. But there was one moment where he made me laugh so incredibly hard in the middle of a contraction that I seriously considered punching him.

He decided to quote a movie to me. So there I am, having a contraction, and he starts saying, “Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up! It’s baby time!”

I couldn’t breathe because I couldn’t stop laughing.

Right after that, we went back to triage and my doctor checked up on me and decided to go ahead and admit me.

Once again, after being admitted, my contractions began to spread out and my labor started to stall. They got me on pitocin and broke my water not long after. I was determined to make it through this one without the epidural.

I went until about 7:30 PM before I told my nurse that I felt like I was going to need to push soon. There was SO much pressure and I was to the point where I thought I was going to pass out and throw up at the same time every time I had a contraction. My nurse checked me and told me I was still sitting at 5 cm.

I remember thinking, “There is NO WAY I’m only at 5! This hurts so much more than it did with J!” After thinking a little bit, I told her to go ahead and bring someone in to do an epidural. I decided that if I was hurting that bad at 5 cm, I didn’t want to feel the next 5.

Shortly after, they sat me up to do the epidural. We waited for a contraction to pass, and then I felt the pinch of the needle. Instantly, another contraction started and there was SO much pressure. I began telling them they needed to hurry up because I needed to lay back down so I could push. My nurse kept trying to reassure me that I was only at 5 cm and it wasn’t possible for me to push yet.

As soon as they laid me back down, I said, “I need to push. I know my body. Will you please check?”

She checked again and said, “Oh. You’re complete! I’ll go get the doctor.”

Soon, I had my nurse, another nurse, my doctor, and a whole bunch of nursing students in the room. They got everything ready for her arrival, and then went to get my husband. Once he came back in the room, it was go time. After 3 good pushes, she was out. Her dad got to cut her cord, and they handed her up to me.

I remember my first thought being that she was so tiny and I was afraid I would break her. But she sure was perfect. No dark hair like her brother though. She’s my little blondie with blue eyes.

N&M

Born at 38 weeks and 4 days: 5 lbs 10 oz, 19 inches long, 8:15 PM, and beautiful in every way.

 

About Calli:

I’m a 20-something mom of two beautiful kids. Constantly learning from my past and doing all I can to improve my life and the lives of those I love.

A Series of Birth Stories: Jenn

As my own labor and delivery is rapidly approaching, I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time reading birth stories from all corners of the internet. Natural births, cesareans, home births, water births, VBACs, just to name a few. Every woman, birth, and baby is different, and I HATE seeing a woman looked down on in any way because of the way she chooses or doesn’t choose to bring her baby into this world. I decided to share some of these stories from women who were willing to share them with me.

blue 2My journey with birth began 12 years ago, with the arrival of our first baby.  I began that first pregnancy like many women do—naïve.  I had a general knowledge about pregnancy and birth, but it was something that I associated with discomfort and pain.  From the start, I figured my birth would be much like those of my friends and family members, which meant an induction as soon as the doctor was willing and an epidural as soon as it started to hurt.  My experiences over the years following helped change and shape my feelings about birth, and even though each of my experiences is very different from one another, I cherish them all.

I sometimes joke that aside from giving birth at home, I’ve just about done it all…stillbirth/live birth, pre-term/full-term, singleton/mutliples, vaginal/c-section/VBAC.  Each of my five pregnancies serve to show that each birth is unique unto itself and that even the same woman can have vastly different experiences from one birth to another.  Be warned that the first experience I share deals with loss, which might be a trigger for some.

Birth #1

We were very excited to be expecting our first baby and my pregnancy was moving along perfectly.  At my 20 weeks ultrasound, my doctor gave us information about childbirth classes, and while I was interested in possibly taking one, I put off doing any research, thinking that waiting until I was well into my third trimester would be the best time.

Unfortunately, my time to give birth came much sooner than we anticipated, when we learned at 28 weeks that our baby had passed away.  We were suddenly in the depths of emotional pain, being faced with decisions about how to deliver our baby that we had never considered.  The decision was made to induce, and since my body was not at all prepared to deliver a baby, we had to start from scratch. Being a first-time mom, I had no idea what to expect.  The next 12 hours were excruciating, both physically and emotionally. The nurses told me that my baby would be small, so there would be no need for an epidural.  Upon hearing this several hours later when she arrived, my doctor was enraged and immediately ordered the epidural. It did not take effect very well and I continued to feel everything right up until it came time to push.  It felt so unfair that my body had to experience so much pain at the same time my heart was. Our beautiful, perfect, 2 lb. 4 oz. baby girl was born after a very difficult labor and we cherished every moment of the hours we were able to hold her.

Birth #2

9 months later I became pregnant again. I approached this new pregnancy with much trepidation, simply praying that we would bring home a healthy baby.  The majority of my focus went into surviving emotionally and I requested that my doctor induce labor as soon as it was safe to do so, to which she agreed. Even though my first labor had been physically difficult, I put very little thought into what I wanted my next labor to be like.  It didn’t really matter to me. I was getting the epidural anyway. I just wanted to hear my baby cry when he was born.

Once again, things didn’t go as planned when I went into labor at 34 weeks. As the nurses in L&D pumped me full of fluids, my contractions would slow down. “It’s just false labor,” they told me. Because of my anxiety surrounding my loss, the on-call doctor decided to keep an eye on me overnight and let my own doctor assess the situation the next morning. My contractions were regular, but not terribly uncomfortable. I slept fairly well through the night, though eager to be discharged and home to my own comfortable bed. When the nurse shift changed the next morning, my new nurse checked my cervix to see if the contractions I’d had through the night had caused any changes. We were completely shocked to hear her say “You’re at an 8. This baby is on its way.” She asked if I wanted an epidural, to which I emphatically replied “YES!” only to learn a few minutes later that there would not be enough time to place it. I went into full panic-mode, sure that I would not be able to deliver this baby without the relief of the epidural. About 20 minutes later, our baby boy arrived, with me screaming like a banshee the entire time. There was nothing pleasant or calm about his birth, and I swore at that moment that I would never give birth again without drugs if I could help it. In spite of it all, I was grateful he was at least alive. Sick, but alive. After being life-flighted to a hospital with a larger NICU, and lots of ups and downs, he came home to us 4 weeks later and is now a healthy, thriving 10-year-old.

Birth #3

Wanting to give our little boy a sibling, I became pregnant again 2 years later. I told myself that our previous experiences had been flukes and that all would go perfectly this time. Then, at 8 weeks, we learned we were having twins. We were both thrilled and terrified, all at the same time. The higher risk of loss in pregnancies with multiples put my fear at an all-time high, but the prospect of getting two babies and only having to endure one pregnancy was very appealing. At that first appointment, my doctor informed me that the only time she gives patients a choice of whether to deliver vaginally or by c-section was with multiples (assuming a vaginal delivery would be considered safe), and she encouraged me to start thinking about what delivery mode I was most interested in. For some reason, it was a decision I greatly feared making, and so I put it to the back of my mind.  Several times throughout my pregnancy, my doctor would bring the topic up and asked for my thoughts. Each time, I put her off, saying I hadn’t decided anything yet.

I began experiencing pre-term labor at 24 weeks and was put in the hospital on bedrest. Our babies held on for 8 more weeks before it was determined that it was time to deliver. Baby A was head down, which was a requirement for a vaginal delivery. Baby B was breech. We were given possible scenarios if we moved ahead with a vaginal delivery—Baby B might turn on his own after his sister was born, the doctor might need to manually turn him, he might be born breech (something my doctor was willing to attempt because he was small), or a c-section might become necessary. The thought of a breech delivery terrified me, and I definitely didn’t want to recover from both a vaginal delivery and a c-section at the same time, so we decided to move ahead with the c-section. It’s a decision I would have made differently if I’d known then what I know now, but I feel at peace with it because we made the best decision we could with the information we had. I just wish we’d been more pro-active in getting more information. 

The babies were born that night and while the c-section itself went off without a hitch, the experience was less than pleasant. Throughout the procedure, the doctors and nurses in the OR casually chatted about their plans for the weekend, what kind of car they planned to buy next, and where they hoped to vacation that year. I felt very removed and uninvolved with the birth of my babies. They spent the next 5 weeks in the NICU before coming home to us. Again, I was grateful they were alive, but my heart hurt at the fact that I’d given birth to 4 babies and had yet to bring one right home from the hospital with me. They will be turning 8 next month and are such a joy!

Birth #4

With three living children and so many ups and downs with getting them here, we leaned toward the decision of being done with our family.  However, I had a nagging desire to try one more time to have that perfect pregnancy experience and know what it’s like to get full-term and bring a healthy baby home from the hospital.  About 3 years after the twins were born, we decided to try one more time. Infertility plagued us and it took a long time to get pregnant. We nearly gave up and were on our last cycle trying when we finally got those two, blessed pink lines on the pregnancy test. 

By this time, I had started learning more about the benefits of natural birth, and even though I had once been a “Bring on the drugs!” girl, I felt my feelings shifting. Because of the c-section with the twins, I would now be pursuing a vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC, which was something I had never considered before being faced with the option.  I put on my research hat and went to town. I soon started realizing how important and empowering information can be. In my quest to find a doctor willing to help me VBAC, I learned that not all care providers are created equal. The knowledge I had gained gave me the ability to discern who was truly VBAC friendly and who was just trying to humor me. After meeting with several doctors, I finally found one that felt right to me. He was 100% on-board with the VBAC, and while we didn’t see eye-to-eye on all of the natural birthing things I wanted as part of my experience, he was very respectful and willing to work with me on those things. 

I hired a doula, took a Hypnobabies course, and 5 ½ years after the twins were born, I finally got my dream delivery.  Upon having a failed NST, my doctor felt it best to induce me.  Because my body was very ready to go into labor already, he simply broke my water and let things proceed naturally from there.  It took only 2 ½ hours before our baby girl arrived, at 39 weeks 4 days, 7 lbs. 5 oz. and not so much as a Tylenol to get me through it.  She was perfect and beautiful and came home with us just over 24 hours later. She is now a busy two-year-old who keeps us on our toes!

Birth #5

As if we didn’t already have a full house, we decided to try one more time (after that fantastic VBAC, how could I not?). This time we got pregnant quickly and again pursued a natural VBAC. I prayed that I would be able to go into labor on my own and avoid as many medical interventions as possible.  My doula encouraged me to look into the possibility of delivering at a birth center or at home.  I met with several midwives, all of whom were willing to take me on, but with my history, I decided I felt most at ease under the care of an OB and delivering in a hospital.  I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy and got my wish of going into labor on my own at 38 weeks 4 days.  Because of my quick delivery with my previous birth, I had been a bit nervous about knowing when it would be time to go to the hospital if I went into labor on my own. When the cramping started around 4 pm, I was sure it was just going to be another afternoon of Braxton Hicks. They continued through the evening, but very irregularly and not very intense. Around 10 pm, I had some bloody show and I knew that this was going to be the real thing, but I figured I still had hours ahead of me.  Within 15 minutes, my contractions changed and I knew it was time to get to the hospital NOW!  A neighbor came to stay with our other kids until grandma arrived and we headed out.  I was brought into a labor and delivery room and checked by the nurse at 11:45.  “You’re at a 10.  Let’s get your doctor here and get this show on the road!”  An hour later, after a very calm pushing phase, we had yet another little girl in our arms. I hadn’t thought my first VBAC experience could be topped, but this one trumped! It was a very spiritual, peaceful, and healing experience. It will be hard to convince my husband that we don’t need to do it again! Our little one is now three months old and such a wonderful gift.

Through all the ups and downs we’ve had with our pregnancy and delivery experiences, the thing I’ve learned most is that education is power.  Without it, you eliminate your ability to make informed choices, and those choices have the potential to affect so much, for good or for bad. Things don’t always go as planned, and when they don’t it can be scary.  But knowing that you educated yourself and did everything you could to achieve the birth you hoped for can make a world of difference in how you perceive the outcome.

–Jenn Zollinger

A Little About Me:

I am currently a stay-at-home-mom of 5.  My degree in special education has come in handy as we waded through the early intervention system with our three preemies. In what little spare time I have, I enjoy serving local families who have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss, sewing up cute outfits for my kids, and working on home improvement projects with my husband.