Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Your Birth Story

I admit, I have avoided writing out your birth story. Perhaps it's because of fear of judgement or the pain of a very different birth story. Or perhaps it is because it changed me in so many ways that I haven't known what to write. Forgive the length, I have a lot to say and I want to remember it all.

In the weeks leading up to your birth I was in another world. My last baby was coming. I walked around in a hormone haze. My body was very uncomfortable. The blood thinners I was taking were causing me to have arthritis-like symptoms and I felt large. I was taking two, sometimes three baths a day just to stay comfortable. I listened to Christian music in an attempt to find God's spirit in this creating. Who are you and what is Our Master's calling for this time?

I met with our doulas - Robin, Nicole and Angela. And I spilled my heart out. I nervously told them that I was broken from Solomon's birth. I felt like I had lingering PTSD from being in so much pain and not being heard. I vowed that if I were in pain and the baby wasn't coming soon, I was getting an epidural. Everyone understood. Natural birth is preferable but trauma is not OK.

At my 40w appointment I laid on the table and told Alison (our midwife) that I could tell I was low on fluid. She saw what I meant. It was hard to tell your position at your 39-week appointment but we could tell your position quite clearly at this point. In fact, what we saw was an outline of baby. She asked if I wanted an ultrasound to check your fluid level. I said no because I knew that meant an induction would be forthcoming. And besides, my babies have been coming at 40w3d ish, so I won't be waiting much longer. That was a good joke, as it turns out.

Maybe it was the lack of fluid, maybe it was my body refusing to open up and let go of you, my last baby. But, as it turns out I didn't go into labor that week. I drug myself to my 41 week appointment (41w1d) with Sarah Grace in tow. Protocol is to do a BPP/NST at that appointment, so I started off seeing Kathy, our favorite ultrasound tech. What I saw on the screen was a whole lotta baby and not a lot of fluid. She didn't say much. Finally I said "OK, I'm not seeing any fluid, are you?" And she replied "I haven't found any yet, but I'm still looking." Eventually she found one deep pocket and called it a 3. I literally sulked across the hall. I saw one of our nurses and said "Who the freak gets induced with their fourth baby at 41 and 2?" And we laughed nervously. I began texting our doulas as I was hooked up to the NST machine. Alison came in and out and I watched that strip go for longer than it should have. No decelerations but no accelerations, either. Alison waited a long time. I told her she didn't have to keep testing me, I knew we were being induced and she thanked me for not questioning and arguing. Finally she saw an acceleration and let me leave the machine. She checked me at a 2-3 and 80% and I was discouraged. I tried really hard to keep the tears to a minimum because I didn't want to scare Sarah Grace. We left the office with instructions to come back in 2 hours (at 7pm) to get a balloon cath.

Then. I drove home trying not to cry. I called Aunt Cathy to watch the kids. I got home and we ordered Panera and rushed around. Apparently being a week past my due date hadn't prompted me to complete many tasks so we furiously packed kids. I locked myself in my room and sobbed. Sobbed. I let out all of the emotions that I had held in for so long. I yelled "This is NOT what I wanted!!" I wanted to labor in my big tub. I wanted to slowly build to the "Is it time to go to the hospital?" moment that we'd had three times before. This sucked. I wanted a safe, healthy, happy, preferably intervention-free birth.

When we showed up to the hospital (late) I checked in at the non-emergency registration. Having done this process barely able to talk so many times before, this was just bizarre. I was able to answer questions, create a real signature and walk fairly quickly upstairs. I was put in a regular room while someone else used the tub room. I googled balloon cath (which so many of my clients had had before) and read lots of stories of people who say it was terribly painful. My nurses and I chatted and Alison came in and placed the balloon cath (it did not hurt - hardly felt it at all.) And then I facebooked a bit, tried to sleep on and off and had just a few minutes of what felt like early labor. You have to have continuous monitoring with that thing and that sucks. Your sweet daddy slept on the couch like a rock. I was so glad - we'd need his energy for the coming day. Around 3am I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom and the catheter fell out. They checked me and I was 5cm! Awesome! Now try to get a few hours of sleep.

At around 8:30am Beth came in and asked if we were just going to wait for labor to start. No way. I'm already tired let's get some Pitocin going and get this show on the road. Previously they had offered to break my water but I wanted to try Pitocin first since you can start it and stop it later when labor gets going. The Pitocin was started slowly and I walked the halls with the telemetry monitor on. I knew there was another mom there being induced for the same reason (I had met her in childbirth class) but we rarely saw each other as she kept to her room and I wore the path down on the halls. I just wanted the baby out. My nurse was sweetly asking me how I was doing and it took a while for real contractions to start. I got moved to a tub room and kept in touch with my doulas. Before lunchtime I texted them and told them they might want to come after they got their kids home (or maybe just after dinner?) Robin said she'd come soon and Nicole did, as well. Angela was getting some things finished and would come when the other doulas called. It turned out to be a good thing that they didn't wait.

I started really getting in a zone. Dancing, rocking, stopping with contractions. But still, we walked the halls. That was my goal - keep labor going, have the baby. It was totally handleable even though it was hard. Nicole took some pictures and I felt ashamed, an induction in these pictures. Our story was so not what I wanted. At some point it starts getting fuzzy and fast. I remember there being a bucket of water and a "wet floor" sign and posing next to it for a picture as a joke. (I'm hoping these birth pictures fill me on what was happening.) I remember sitting on the ball by the bed and Robin asking if I wanted to get in the tub. I didn't want to get in too early - I was saving that for the real pain. She reminded me I could always get out. I went into the bathroom and had a nice bloody show and was so grossed out. Here were all of my friends seeing me with goop all over my leg. Sorry friends. Previously I was trying to be modest and asked for my swimsuit bottoms. Then I didn't care - I remember thinking "I should care that I'm not covered on the bottom" but I didn't. I got in the tub and stuff got real.

I was so uncomfortable. It was a burning, searing pain in the front of my uterus, right on top of my pubic bone. I was reminded to sing. Mark sang with me. I would tailor sit between contractions and get on my hands and knees during them. I was losing it. Really, losing it. Begging contractions not to come. It hurt so badly. I tried to pray. I wanted everyone out of my face. It felt like the walls were closing in on me. I thought "This has to be transition. I must be close." I tried to push. Nope. Ouch. Eff.

At some point in here Angela came. I don't know who or what was happening around me. All of my energy was focused on not dying during these awful contractions that never seemed to stop. Later someone told me it was like the Pitocin was causing a contraction and then I was having a contraction between each one. Angela told me she had to step out because I looked so overwhelmed with pain. I was. Totally overwhelmed. I decided to get out and get checked thinking I'd be ready to push.

I was checked and found to be 6cms. 6. effing. centimeters. I immediately said "I'd like an epidural now, please." And our nurse said "Are you sure?" And everyone around me said "She's sure." They asked if I wanted the Pitocin turned off instead. No, because in my mind it would just build back up to what it was. Looking back, I partially wish I'd have tried that. I can't decide how I should feel about that. I knew I had to get a bag of fluid. I willed that fluid to flow faster and faster. I vomited and my water broke.

Another one of our friends asked to be assigned to me as our nurse. She heard I was getting an epidural and came in to see if she could do anything about it. That's the only judgement I felt through the whole thing. She was going to try to hold me off and our doulas told her not to. She kept talking about how this baby would be coming out soon and I was getting so annoyed. Someone mentioned the famous "purple line" and how I was probably complete and finally I was said "Oh for the love. Just check me." I was 8cms but now the baby was much more engaged. Still not ready to have a baby. Keep up the plan with the epidural and stop this madness, please.

While I got the epidural I covered our nurse in a pool of sweat. The anesthesiologist was very nice and said she wasn't sure that the epidural would take before I had a baby. I don't care, give it your best effort. I asked our nurse how I was going to survive sitting still since I felt like I was going to rupture at any moment. She said we'd get through it just like I had the others. I had to be stuck three times thanks to a curvy spine. I laughed to myself that the anesthesiologist's finger nail hurt so bad to mark the spot. Here I am thinking that my uterus *must* be rupturing and a fingernail dent is also causing me to cringe in pain. Hilarious. Sort of. At one point I must have said "This is just the craziest thing" because the anesthesiologist asked why. I told her I was a doula - oh yes - a doula, with an induction and a transition epidural. The doctor didn't even run a bag because she figured the baby would be out before the loading dose wore off. One shot in the spine was all I needed.

After the epidural our nurse once again assured me that I would be 10cms by now. Spoiler alert: I wasn't. So I laid on my right side with a peanut ball between my legs for an hour or so. My blood pressure dropped to 80/60 and she asked if I was going to throw up or pass out. Nope, I feel just fine and now that I'm not feeling contractions, I'm able to sort of comprehend what just went on. One of the main differences in Pitocin labor and natural labor was that with all of my other births I went into "labor zone" much earlier. In fact, it started getting hazy as soon as the contractions started. That's that blood/brain barrier, I guess. My doulas and Mark came back in and we chatted for a bit. Finally I felt like a truck was barreling through me. I didn't really mind the feeling and when I asked to be checked they said it was baby time.

Pushing when you're unmedicated is comfortable for some people. For me, it always hurt. I did it because I had to. This time Beth came in and I asked if I'd feel crowning (I don't know, I was in labor.) She said no and I told her I was worried about this baby's shoulder, since Hannah had broken her clavicle. She said we wouldn't sit straight up in that case. So I'm back to my typical semisitting position for pushing. We talked about how this birth was just a teaching birth - now when I talk to clients I can really empathize with them as they make difficult decisions. I wish I hadn't had to have learned first hand. The Lord is funny about things like that.

At some point I went to push and looked to where the mirror should be. It wasn't there! So I asked and they brought one. A couple of good pushes, one shoulder, the next shoulder, (hey no crowning pain - woot!) and she was out. Praise Jesus! It's a girl. I knew it was a girl. I just knew. I had been worried that I wouldn't feel the elation of having the baby since I had an epidural but I must say, I feel like I got the same endorphin rush. My sweet baby. I am so glad you are here, Caboose.

One of the doulas asked her name and I said I didn't know - and your daddy said "Yes you do." So, you're clearly not Miriam. You're my sweet Mary Esther. Strong and wise and here to teach me a lot about judgement and what it means to be strong and brave.

Mary Esther Benz
9lbs 4.5oz
21.5 inches


Friday, August 28, 2015

Really, It's OK to Come Out

Here we are - 40w4d. You won't make it here in the next hour and 10 minutes, so you officially win the 2nd place prize for Benz gestation length (I'm saying second because if you make Mama carry you farther than SG -41w5d- you'll be in BIG trouble.) I've been trying to gently give you the eviction notice- walking, bouncing on the birth ball, baths with clary sage oil, The Miles Circuit, etc. but you seem comfy in there. Part of me wonders if I am having trouble letting go of you because of you being the last. But then I remember that I want to actually MEET you - and I'm OK with you coming.

At our 40w visit one of your midwives (Alison) and I talked about how I had a lot of weight loss last week and my belly looked smaller. We suspect that you don't have as much fluid as you did, so I've been drinking water and Gatorade like a crazy person. What I really don't want to happen is to make it to your 41w appointment on Monday and find out that your fluid is too low and you have to be induced. Induction in the hospital is not very much fun and I'd rather not partake, thankyouverymuch.

People are annoying the heck out of me these days. They all want to know why you haven't come yet. Uh, because you haven't. It's not like I put a cork in there. I'm doing my best to be patient with people and keep the snark out. Even Sarah Grace is really frustrated. Every day that we wake up all at home (instead of the hospital) she yells at us that we should have had the baby last night. Today was really emotionally tough. Your sisters and brother were being ca-ra-zy and whiny and I snapped and made them stay in the basement until Daddy came home. Then we went to the mall and walked and went to hibachi for dinner. One last big night out for everyone and then you can come (ha.)

We *think* we have names for you  but we're just not 100%. I want to see your sweet little face before I decide. And I think once I know if you're a boy or a girl I'll be able to stress less. Might as well get rid of half of the equation from the start, right?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

38 Weeks and a Visit With the Doulas

Hey! Look! It's OK for you to come now. But, I have no delusions that you will for a while. Tonight we met with our doulas (Robin, Angela and Nicole.) We talked about birth preferences. For the most part the plan is the same as with the previous births. Go to Clark, have a baby, try not to use drugs. While I think I would have had a better experience with Solomon's birth if I had used medicine, I am glad I didn't with your sisters' births. I pray that you give me an easy experience. I also would love it if you wouldn't break your clavicle like your sister did (OK? Got it.) The midwives think you'll be equally as big as your siblings. Your heartrate has been in the 140's - perfectly between old wives' tales about your sex. Let's work together and we'll make this as easy as possible.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Family Picture and Beach Recap

I thought going to the beach with kids would be absolutely stress inducing. Surprisingly, this was a very relaxing trip. Your dad is amazing and watched your siblings so that you and I could get some naps in. The whole family pitched in. We drove about 12 (if you're on time) hours to Cape San Blas, Florida. Your grandparents generously gifted the family with this vacation. We hung out on the beach, played in the pool and generally rested. We even drove home all in one fell swoop. My feet were not too small by the time we got home. Other weird symptoms I'm having: joint pain that hurts like the devil. I can't move my fingers well or bend my knees. Imagine how fun it is to go to the bathroom like a gazillion times a day when it hurts to bend your knees. My shoulders ache some but it's the fingers and the knees that are killing me. The midwives don't know if it is my shots, something else or just a fluke. I'm not enjoying it. Plus, all I want is to take a bottle of Ibuprofen (not allowed during pregnancy.) But overall, who can complain when you've got such a sweet little Caboose on board?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oatmeal Creme Pies

Creme? Cream? I don't know and I don't freaking care these things are delicious. Usually when I'm not pregnant a Little Debbie snack cake makes me feel sick because they are sugar and chemicals. But really right now these are delicious and the perfect 3am snack. I'm sorry I'm not making you with all healthy foods. I also really hope they still have these when you're older so that you can experience the yumminess. If not, I'll make you an at-home version that will no doubt be yummier and less chemically.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It Only Took 13 Weeks...

It only took 13 weeks for me to have the confidence to write your blog. Yes, I know how silly that sounds, particularly given that we announced your pregnancy really, really early. I just really never expected us to make it this far. At my 10-week appointment with our midwife she was asking me why I felt like something was wrong. I couldn't put my finger on it. And I still can't. I hope to goodness that this is just something that happens after one-too-many miscarriages. You just worry. But alas, here we are. Second trimester (not that my "morning" sickness has noticed.) We found out we were expecting you after your father repeatedly told me that I was pregnant. "No, I'm not" I'd reply. Then I broke my toes and needed an xray. Rather than risk it, I decided to take a test before I went to the doctor. I called your dad to come home from choir practice because I needed to go to the doctor. Then I cried. "This isn't how I wanted to tell you. I can't have an xray. I'm pregnant" and your dad just lit up like a Christmas tree. I have never seen a man receive news with such joy. (For the record, I did get the xray, with the blessing of our midwife.)

First and foremost, you should know that you are much loved and long-awaited. Your siblings started asking for a baby before Daddy and I could even really wrap our heads around the idea. They want a brother. Dear goodness, we hope for their sake that you are a brother. They are convinced you are a boy. Sarah Grace believes this to be true because she prayed for a boy with Solomon, a girl with Hannah, and for a boy with you. So, yeah, if you're a girl... I'm sorry. They'll get over it eventually, I'm sure. I have a great plan not to tell them your sex until they actually see your little face. I figure you'll be just so cute that boy or girl won't matter to them at that point. But at this point, it matters. Solomon keeps telling me he loves his little brother. Oof.

And why the name of your blog? If nothing else, my dear one, you have convinced me that this is my last pregnancy. I'm sure when I'm closing up your blog on your 1st birthday, I'll be briefly considering the sweetness of baby kicks and first coo's. But no, this is too hard. For one, we haven't won the lottery yet. And two, the last thirteen weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. By no fault of yours, I've just been really sick. I put "morning" sickness in quotes because it usually starts about lunchtime and I'm nauseous and or vomiting through bedtime. I've taken Zofran, Phenergan, every old wives' tale around and still, the sickness continues. I'm hoping that this is the last week of it. Which brings me to my next point:

Your father is a saint. Your dad has dutifully fulfilled cravings, made dinner, brought me my shots and supplies, cleaned the house and generally waited on me hand and foot for the last three months. I've taken care of your siblings through some really awful illnesses (Hannah went to the hospital for a few days, for example) and Daddy has done the rest. I can't count the number of nights he's made a yummy dinner and then cleaned the bucket as I've barfed it back up. If you're grossed out reading that as an adult, you can just imagine being the one to do it. We love you. If you've ever wanted a good example of Christ's love, take a look at your father. He serves me so well. I am so appreciative. I have promised to return to semi-human life soon.

Craving report: salty foods. Usually a sweets-lover, most of the time I can take them or leave them right now. Tonight I was craving a milkshake, which has been unusual. For the most part I want potato chips, vegetable sushi and the like. I craved those things with Sarah Grace. If you, the other bookend, are as strong-willed as her, you'll go far (and I'll go crazy.)

So we expect you to be born at the end of August or the beginning of September. Thanks for being our newest blessing. We can't wait to meet you.
Us at 7 weeks

How we told the world you are joining us

You at 10 weeks