Polk Baby #2 – The Birth Story

You guys! I did it!! I had a natural, unmedicated delivery … and I lived! And I would do it again in a minute if it meant that at the end, I got to have this snuggled up on my shoulder.

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To catch the blog up to date. I had my appointment on Wednesday, November 13 with Lesley. I had another cervical check done because we were both curious. I was 3cm and 50% effaced. Lesley said with confidence, “You’ll have this baby before your appointment next Tuesday.” I had a mini-freak-out that I somehow managed to keep inside … and decided it was a good day to finally pack the bag for delivery.

Light contractions started that night and continued off and on for the next three days. I spent a large part of the day on Thursday trying to ‘make’ things happen. I wore myself out and amped up some serious swelling on my feet and hands. I decided to lay low on Friday and Saturday instead of trying, in vain, to conjure something that would happen on its own and just needed to be given time.

On Sunday morning at 3:30, I was awakened by a contraction unlike those that I’d been experiencing. It was a contraction that made me go, “Oh, yeh! That’s what these things feel like!” And they kept happening every few minutes. I laid there, contracting and letting Kyle rest and trying to make myself go back to sleep. Kyle woke up at 5 and I told him what was going on. I timed for about an hour and found they were coming around 7-10 minutes apart. I willed myself back to sleep and was able to rest until around 8:30.

The rest of the day passed in a blur. There was a lot of walking and ball-bouncing in the mix. Contractions continued to gradually strengthen and gain in frequency throughout the day. The birth center’s labor instructions were to call in when you have had two hours of intense contractions – ones that you have to use your coping mechanisms to make it through. My first “intense” one came at 5:30. After that, I found that the only thing that could help me through a contraction was to have Kyle apply pressure to my hips and help me remember to keep them moving throughout each surge. He was also tasked with helping me remember to keep my jaw/face relaxed so the rest of my body would follow suit and allow what needed to happen to happen as easily as possible.

I have to interject here and say that my only previous experience with real contractions were the pitocin-induced contractions I had when laboring with Ivalee at the hospital. Those were one on top of the other and were only ever fully intense. So I was surprised by how evenly spaced these contractions were and – despite their intensity – I was able to handle them easily. That’s why when, after two hours of ‘using my coping mechanisms’, I talked myself into waiting thirty more minutes. Surely it had to get worse! And I did not want to be sent home when I got to the birth center!

So at 8, we called the after hours number to report what was going on. Lesley was on-call and when she returned my call, she said, “I can be there in 30 minutes. I’ll meet you there.”

Kyle had already put our bags and things in the car, so we hopped in and headed out. And at 8:30, he was loading all of those bags into the birthing suite where Lesley already had the water filling up the tub. She hooked me up to the two monitors for a few minutes – long enough to make sure baby’s heart rate was ok during contractions. (I remember watching the readings of teh contraction and thinking, “Oh gosh. These contractions aren’t as strong as they were earlier. She’s going to look at this and tell me I’m faking it. Maybe I am faking it. Maybe it’s time for us to go home and go to sleep.”) (None of that happened. Just tells you where my head was in those few minutes.)

Then another cervical check to see where we were.

7cm, 100% effaced, 0 station. We were there to have a baby. Thank you, Jesus!

So Lesley told me, “Our next step is to keep you comfortable and then you’ll let us know when it’s time to push.”

So I got ready for the tub, had a few contractions, and continued to pray I was ready for what was about to happen. I asked whether the student midwife would be coming for my birth. Lesley said she’d contacted her, but that she wasn’t able to make it in that night. Lesley said, “I told her that was fine. I kinda wanted to catch this one myself anyway.” While I’m sure they say that to all the girls, it was nice to hear anyway.

It wasn’t long before the nurse arrived who would also be attending the birth. Her name was Kim and she was great! Lesley told her, “She’s tolerating labor very well. Not quite in transition, but close. Been laboring at home since 3:30 this morning without calling in once and was 7cm when she showed up!” The best compliments are the ones that are spoken of you and not to you, you know? I felt like I’d already accomplished so much.

I stayed in the tub for a while. (Times are all foggy for the most part from here on out.) I noticed that my contractions slowed while I was in the warm water. Desperate for things not to slow down, I mentioned this to Kim, who assured me I had nothing to fear — that the water was assisting in my progression at that point. I got out of the water frequently for bathroom breaks and to keep things moving along. Even while in the water, Kyle continued to apply pressure to my hips during my contractions – from outside the tub and then later while sitting behind me.

I started dozing off between contractions in the water and ‘zen-ing out’ during the contractions – low-moaning, and deep-breathing and naturally going into a state of mind that I honestly feared I wouldn’t be able to go. This was the moment that I realized that I was here, I was doing it, and I was being pretty successful at it. So empowering!

After a bathroom break, I realized I’d gotten hot and hungry in the water and decided to take a break from the tub for a bit. I labored in a rocking chair for a while, with my feet propped on a birth ball. This position was the only one that gave Kyle a break from his hip duties. So I snacked on some cashews and sat there for quite a while. Kyle and Lesley and Kim chatted about iPad apps and music … and I labored quietly and easily nearby.

I don’t recall the exact conversation, but I think I wondered out loud whether I’d know if my water had broken while I was in the water. Lesley said I probably would know and offered to check me again if I wanted to know for sure. No pressure from her at all, so I decided to wait.

Several contractions and a bathroom break later, I let curiosity get the best of me. I wanted to know where we were and asked Lesley to check me. 9.5cm. Almost there. Somehow I’d made it through transition very easily. “How has this been so easy?! Why would anyone labor in any way but this?!?”

I asked Lesley to break my water — “Let’s get this show on the road!” — at around 1:30 or 2 AM. I was getting TIRED! Afterwards I got back into the tub. Things kicked into a higher gear at that point. Once he’d gotten out of the water the first time, Kyle had put on his dry clothes because it was cold in the room. (My bad, everybody but me. I was comfy!) At one point, I hit a place where I needed Kyle – like, NOW!! – and he hopped back in the tub in his clothes. It wasn’t long after that when I realized it was time to push. I told everybody what was happening and Lesley and Kim responded very calmly — “Alright. Do it!” So I did what I could until the sensation quickly passed. The next contraction was push-time from the get-go … and that was the time when my composure went totally out the window. There was a lot of screaming. After that contraction let up, Lesley firmly told me, “That cannot happen again. Focus. No more screaming.”

Yes ma’am.

So I did my best to hold it together. I’m sure it was a sight. THIS was the worst part — the part I had been dreading. But graciously, it was also the shortest part of the whole process. Maybe six or seven painful and intense pushes later, and baby was out all the way at once.

Born in the water at 3:27am (almost exactly 24 hours after I’d been woken up by that first contraction); caught by the able hands of Lesley Rathbun; and brought into my arms as quickly as possible.

Kyle took a peak and a pause and announced, “It’s a girl.” Relief. For both of us. We could not decide on a boy name – despite trying up until the last minute … literally while I was in the tub laboring.

So Naomi Kate it was.

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And she has proven to be a perfect addition to our family. She’s such a sweet baby. Ivalee loves kissing her “cute cheeks”. And her daddy and I were both just totally smitten from the start.

There is nothing in this world I would trade my for my birth experience at Charleston Birth Place. It was amazing for me and transformed me in ways I’m understanding differently every day. I feel so empowered. I’m not pretending it was the most graceful hour of my life, but I met the biggest obstacle I’ve ever faced and on the other side of it, I know I am stronger.

God is so good to our family to have given us two healthy pregnancies, and two different deliveries which produced two beautiful and healthy daughters. Our years as a family of three taught Kyle and me how to be parents. Our one night at the Charleston Birth Place gave us a new respect for the process and the beauty of birth. And we are better parents and better partners for that experience. And now we get to take those lessons and apply them to how we parent our two children.

Because we have two children now. Holy cow.

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I prayed for this child, and the LORD has
granted me what I asked of him.

1 Samuel 1:27

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Polk Baby #1

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It won’t be long now at all before this little one loses her Only Child Status and becomes Big Sister.

Ivalee Grace. The baby girl who made me a mom. For whom I traded in weekends of late nights out and sleeping in … in favor of a love you can only understand when you experience it. The little girl who turned a pair of self-involved twenty-somethings into parents who are willing to sacrifice to provide her with a healthy and happy childhood. The kid who turned our house into a home filled with openly expressed love and frequent hugs and kisses.

Our Iva is growing up. She is a KID now. And she’s too excited about becoming a big sister. That transition won’t be without its own trials, I’m sure. But for right now, she’s excited. Boy or girl – and no matter what name we choose – she’s eager to snuggle and love a new Baby Polk.

One day when we were talking about the new baby, I confessed to Iva how I was feeling nervous about having two Polk kids — “What if the new baby doesn’t love me as much as you do?” She said, “Mom! All babies love their mommies! You just give the baby hugs and kisses!” Simple wisdom from my little lady.

This one who has taught us everything we know about parenting will continue to stretch us and love us into this next, new phase of our marriage and family. I’m excited and anxious to see what the next few weeks hold for her … for all of us.

38 Weeks

So … I thought I remembered correctly that Ivalee was born at 38 weeks. But, I did not remember correctly. She was – in fact – ¬†born at 37 weeks, 6 days. Which means that I am currently more pregnant than I’ve ever been. I’m growing ever-closer to the light of the end of the tunnel. (Also, in digging back in my bloggy-memory … check out those LEGS!! Thank you, Jesus, that I haven’t had that issue to deal with this time around.)

Another item of note: Ivalee’s due date was August 28. This baby is due on November 28. Ivalee was born on August 13. Tomorrow is November 13.

So a quick update:

  • The long-awaited Nesting Instinct finally paid a visit today. So frustrating that it waited until I am so big and unable to move, but I did a lot of laundry and dishes and cleaned my bathroom and did as much damage to the floors as I could. And my ankles, while swollen after a day of working on my feet, still don’t look NEARLY as bad as they did in August 2009. (See above link. Yowza!)
  • Oh my gosh, could this baby be pushing on my bladder in a more painful way? Dear me!! It feels like a needle is being poked in there sometimes. (TMI? Sorry!)
  • Ivalee told me today, “Mom, after the baby comes out, me and you are going to lay in your bed and snuggle. These days, it really hurts your tummy, huh?” Yes, Ivalee. It does. And yes!! We ARE!!
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Saturday morning with my sweet family of three … and Doc McStuffins

  • I’ve also finished up two baby-related knitting projects recently. One pink and one blue hat to go with the coming-home outfit:

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    and finally got the blocking done on this Owlie Sleep Sack so it’s ready to go too.

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  • I spent some time over the weekend prepping the baby’s car seat and Kyle brought Ivalee’s inside too, so I could clean it out, adjust the straps, and have her in ship-shape too. ¬†Ivalee tested out the baby’s seat and declared it “so comfy” and “just right for the baby”.
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We’re getting ready. Now to find a name for this little booger!!

Naming Baby

Naming this baby is proving to be difficult. That’s why I find myself hunkering down with a baby names book at 37 weeks, 5 days and trying to find some baby boy names we can consider.

(I think we have found a girl name we both like a lot. But we’re struggling to find a boy name we like as much.)

I found this one in a book tonight. The definition made me laugh a lot.

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That’s all I got.

37 Weeks

1 cm/0%/+2

I had my first (and only, until labor begins) cervical check on Tuesday. Above are the results of that exam. Not a lot of dilation and no effacement. But baby is already engaged and moving into position. This was the slowest part of the process with Ivalee. So I was still encouraged.

My protein levels were high and my blood pressure slightly elevated at this appointment. This led to a 24-hour rest order, some additional blood work, a 24-hour urine collection, and brought a little bit of a stressful end to my appointment. I was told to “just go into labor soon, please,” so that if this were going to become an issue, it wouldn’t get a chance to be problematic. But then I was instructed to stay off my feet. Mixed signals, much?

I did my best to obey orders and spent the rest of the day sitting with a glass of water nearby and a knitting project on my lap. My sister was very helpful and cooked dinner for us. Kyle cleaned the kitchen up after dinner. And I sat.

When I woke up the next morning, my hips were KILLING me. Too much sitting! So I made a stop by the chiropractor on my way to the birth center. That helped. And then, following my appointment for blood work, I was released to normal activity. So at least that part was short-lived.

Today we will get the results of the extra lab work. They are, of course, ruling out pre-eclampsia. Based on my blood pressure, lack of swelling and other symptoms, and good reflexes, the midwife I saw was encouraged that I’d get a good result and they were just doing their due diligence.

So other than all that, my 37th week has started off pretty low-key. Ha! We are having a picnic at the playground Baby Polk Celebration with some friends this weekend. We are very much looking forward to that!

And I really need to get serious about packing those bags for the birth center. The time is almost here!!

36 Weeks

As of Monday, October 28, I am officially one month away from my due date. In celebration, my uterus has been Braxton-Hicksing for joy all day. Starting on Sunday night, I began to experience a higher frequency in those pesky things. They weren’t nearly frustrating enough to keep me awake, but since there were other things keeping me awake, I did notice they were continuing through the night. And they were pretty steady throughout the day on Monday. Here’s hoping they’re being mildly productive … but definitely productive. (Some progression before real labor starts will be highly favorable to me.)

I’m pretty sure baby has “dropped”. (I said that to Kyle in front of Ivalee today and she looked at me like, “You dropped the baby?!“) I feel a difference in the way I’m carrying, in the location of those crazy foot-movements, and in general it’s just easier to breathe today than it has been lately. I’ve been carrying lower this time than last, but last week, I got kicked in the ribs for the first time ever. Unpleasant. It’s a little bit of a relief to have a little more room for my lungs. Even though gaining that room has caused a noticeable decrease in bladder room. Oh well. Not too much longer now.

This weekend, my sister-in-law Amy and my friends Allison and Hannah threw a shower for me and Baby Polk.

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It was a small gathering of family and close friends and I really enjoyed it!! Plus they were so thoughtful and prepared some of my favorite foods – including, but not limited to, Pumpkin Cheesecake. So yummy!!!

We have begun to experience somewhat of a behavioral regression with Ivalee very recently. Perhaps because the big day is getting closer, and I’m becoming more and more unable to do some of the things I’ve always done … she has started to demonstrate her disapproval of these changes. It’s making life interesting at moments. She sleep-walked for the first time ever on Sunday night. Over the weekend, she seemed to be waking up in a very confused state a lot. Monday was a MUCH better evening for her, behavior-wise, but most of the weekend, she spent defying me and just being downright unpleasant. Mostly towards me. She seemed fine with Kyle. :sigh: My hormones did not handle that well and I spent more than my fair share of time in tears over it.

This, too, shall pass.

Anyway. My next appointment is on Wednesday. It’s the 36-week appointment, when I will meet with the OB for a final time for him to determine whether I am a good candidate for delivering at the birth center. I will also have an appointment with one of the midwives at the birth center — hopefully Lesley this time.

It’s getting closer and closer!! So excited to get to know this little person when (s)he makes his/her debut.

An Unexpected Surprise

The birth center was bustlin’ this morning! There was at least one mom delivering and, from the number of cars in the parking lot, I’d guess there was another in the other room as well. The chaos had somehow spilled over into the clinic side and I was put into the ultrasound room for my appointment rather than one of the standard appointment rooms.

I had to wait to be seen a short while longer than normal. (Meaning, I usually don’t wait at all and this time I waited for … maybe 10 minutes.) Because of the craziness of the morning, I wasn’t surprised when Leigh walked in instead of Lesley. And I wasn’t disappointed either. Leigh is my favorite of the midwives so far. She has such a gentle, conversational way of moving her appointments along. She (like all the others) is very thorough and allows me the opportunity to ask questions as needed, but she just has this sweetness and gentility that is so soothing to me. I’d love if she were on-call when I go into labor.

After our introductions and brief “How are things going?” talk, she motioned for me to hop up on the table. She took my blood pressure (great) and a few measurements (I’m measuring right at 34 weeks). She felt around to determine the baby’s position and I asked “Are we still head-down?” She reached over and clicked on the old ultrasound machine, saying, “I believe so, but let’s take a look!”

I got to see my baby! He/She is still head-down, so it was quite easy for her to find a face. I’ve never had an ultrasound this late in pregnancy before. We marveled at how well-developed his or her facial features are. Even on that old machine, it was easy to make out eyelashes – something Leigh says she’d never seen so clearly before! We got to see the profile and I could easily tell that this baby has my pointy nose, rather than Kyle and Ivalee’s soft, round nose. Then he/she turned towards us, opening and closing its eyes several times. And it made a lot of movements with its mouth. Leigh said, “That little mouth will be on the outside nursing before you know it, Mom!” Little One is already mimicking the motions of breathing – we watched its chest rise and fall a time or two. Then she moved around the baby’s head and said, “Look at all that hair!” Looks like we’ll be having another hairy baby. Which is just fine by me!

And, no. We didn’t move beyond the face/head to determine anything other than baby is head-down and completely beautiful. Oh, that face, y’all!! Can’t wait to see it again!!