Monday, January 28, 2013

Merry Christmas!

A little over a month ago, we had Christmas!  Life with a 2 week old at Christmas was pretty simple.  Being pregnant and then having a newborn made decorating for Christmas...not something I wanted to do.  However, I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if we didn't at least put up the tree for the kiddos, so we did! We even put ornaments on it...all four of the ones I ordered that arrived on Christmas Eve.  So our pre-lit tree with four ornaments (one for each kid and one with a picture of all of us) and our stockings were the only decorations we had for Christmas this year and it was perfect! I might consider sticking to that for the rest of my life...nah.  I do enjoy Christmas too much to do that forever!
We did the same thing we've done for the last few years, which I hope keeps up because I'm loving the tradition we're starting as a family.  We had brunch and gifts and time together with Kev's family on Christmas Eve, then Christmas Eve service at Kev's parents' church and his brother's family went to service with us again this year so that was extra special!  Then we had Christmas morning at our house and lunch and time with my family at my parents' house.  This year my sister's family was here on Christmas so that was great too.  I love my family, old and new and I treasure all the time we have together!
To say that Christmas Eve service was normal would be a total fairy tale!  We were quite the entertainment for the people around us.  First Maggie, then Wyatt, and then Maggie again.  The girl can't make up her mind between Mommy and Nana and so she kept going back and forth between us.  After a few times of this, I told her "no" and so she promptly threw her head against the wooden back of the pew. If the loud thud that echoed throughout the small, high ceiling sanctuary during a quiet moment during the service wasn't enough to get your attention, then I'm sure Maggie's blood-curdling scream, followed by her crying would have done it!  What's worse is that as everyone's turned around looking at me with concerned faces, it's all I can do to suppress my laughter! When the teens in the family behind us realized I was laughing, they started laughing and it was harder for me to keep it in.  Kev quickly grabbed her and took her out.  As soon as they got back, Wyatt did something (I'm not sure what) and he ended up having his own fit and someone took him out.  He came back and ended up asleep in Nana's lap since he hadn't taken a nap that day.  A little while later, Maggie wandered out of our pew (2nd from the back, thank goodness) and around the back to the other end where Nana and JJ were.  When she tried to start up towards the front, JJ caught her and she fell and so ensued another fit from her.  Yes, we were quite the picture-perfect family at Christmas Eve service!
Now for a few pictures from the holidays!
Wyatt making faces with cousin B

snuggles with Aunt K

opening gifts is serious business

I think he likes it!

Santa's sleeping on the job!

the best shot of my 3 loves in their Christmas outfits from Nana!

Merry Christmas from the sleeper!

enjoying their chairs until...

they found stuff inside!

Hey Wyatt--I think there's something on the tree for you!

he loved his pirate sword so much, he had to put on his hat to go with it!

pulling the wishbone with cousin was too flimsy and wouldn't break

love Daddy

couldn't get a good shot of all of them, but I love my sweet Maggie's face

playing Ants in the Pants with Aunt A and cousin E
he's awake at last and he looks like Daddy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grady's Story--Part 2!

If you missed part 1, check it out here!  I will warn you that part 2 is lengthy due to the fact that it goes into great detail of all that went on with the labor as well as what I was thinking during this experience.  If you want a shorter version from Abbie's perspective, check it out here!

So here we go:

I left off with a decision that it was indeed time to go to the hospital.  Looking back, I can tell you that on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst, my pain was probably at a 7.  I wasn't able to do anything other than breathe during the contractions, but I wasn't crying or yelling...yet!  We got in the car and I immediately turned on some Seeds Family Worship. The very first song was perfect, saying--"Call to me and I will answer you..." Jeremiah 33:3.  The whole drive to the hospital involved me timing the contractions on the contraction app and praying the words of these verses as they poured through the speakers and lots and lots of breathing!  Kev drove like a champ!  I think he would have preferred being in the hospital at this point.
We pulled up to the hospital right around 3 p.m. and Kev got someone from the desk to come get me with a wheelchair and take me upstairs while he parked the car.  Abbie met me upstairs and was with me while the nurse questioned why I was there.  I just kind of looked at the nurse, thinking, Really?  You can't tell I'm in labor?  I'm sure she has false labor patients all the time, but at the time, I figured she should just know!  I finally told her that I'd been in labor all day, I was past due, I'd seen the doc the day before, and how close the contractions were.  Kev came and swapped places with Abbie.  They admitted me and the nurse checked me.  I was at 4-5 cm dilated.  My heart just sank and I almost completely lost my resolve to have this baby naturally.  I was so bummed.  I'd really expected at least a 7 or 8 after all the contractions all day, but to be about the same as I'd been the day before was just ridiculous.
Once I got settled and hooked up in the delivery room, I had to answer all these stupid (I'm sure they were necessary) questions while I'm having some pretty serious contractions.  I found out that my doctor was listed as not available so she would not be there, but luckily the on-call doc was someone I had dealt with before and liked and it was a female doc so I was quite relieved.  However, she wanted to hook me up to an iv and I didn't want that so we had to go through the motions of me refusing the line.  My awesome doula was constantly texting back and forth (all day) with a friend of hers who's a certified doula and another mutual friend who's a labor and delivery nurse.  They were giving us advice and letting us know that it was indeed okay if I refused the iv.
Once we got through all the necessary paperwork and questions, I put my headphones on and turned on my labor playlist of worship songs.  After a while of contracting in one position, Abbie suggested a different position.  I was open to suggestions and tried it out.  After one contraction in this position, I was done!  All I could think was that I had given it a good try and it was time for that epidural.  I was feeling a little guilty though because at that moment, I was hearing Alan Jackson singing "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus".  At that point, all I wanted to hear was get some drugs!  I asked Kev if he'd be disappointed in me if I got the epidural and he and Abbie comforted me and reassured me that I had done a great job and if I wanted it, then I should get it.  Then Abbie said I should get checked first.  I'm thinking, Great! Now they can tell me I'm at a 5-6! Then I can get some drugs!  The nurse checked me and lo and behold, I'm at 8 cm!  I had hit that part of labor called "transition" where you feel like you just can't go on, but things are supposed to go a little quicker from this point.  I'm thinking, Well that sucks--now it's too late for the epidural and I have to go through with this stupid natural labor idea after all!   I was also a little relieved that I had progressed more than I thought.  The nurse also mentioned that the sac was bulging and that once my water finally broke, I would probably be complete and ready to push.  This was quite encouraging!
So now every contraction has me focusing on trying to break my water.  I was trying so hard to will my water to break.  I don't think that helped with the pain management.  I think the contractions from here on out were the worst part.  There was no moving to try a new position because every time I tried to move, it just triggered another contraction and paralyzed me.  It was probably not the best position for laboring, but at least I was upright.  The contractions were not gradual.  They started with the tightening, only to jump straight up into the worst pain ever! During these contractions, my head was resting on either Kev's or Abbie's shoulder and I was squeezing the life out of one of their hands. I had my music going and just lost all track of time.  The pain became so much that I had a hard time focusing on breathing and traded breathing for crying out, only to have my coaches remind me to breathe, encourage me some more, and pray over me.  I had the best team I could've imagined.  God knew what He was doing when He put these people in my life!
At some point, I heard someone come into the room and introduce himself and talk to me.  I was having a contraction so I couldn't respond. I only heard bits and pieces and I could barely make out a figure bending over or sitting in a chair or something so that he was at my level.  Apparently people were looking at him like he was crazy because I hear him ask, "She's at a 5, right?"  I'm pretty sure that if I had been any more conscious and able to control my movements, I might have thrown something at him.  He was told that I was at an 8 and he quickly apologized and high-tailed it out of there.  He was the anesthesiologist and he'd come to offer his services in case I wanted an epidural (if only he knew how much I wanted one at this point!).  The nurse apologized and told us that the anesthesiologists were supposed to check with the nurses before entering a patient's room and taunting them with promises of pain relief!  What a tease!
Some time later, Doctor N. came in to check on me and offered to break my water.  I remember that the whole mentally willing my water to break was not working for me so after a quick consult with Kev and Abbie, I said yes.  As soon as my water broke, the pain intensified slightly and with the first contraction, I quickly called out through gasps, "I feel pressure!" I think the doctor had started to leave because she turned right around and got dressed and the nurses got ready.  I don't think they moved fast enough for my happiness, but I don't think I could've been pleased at that moment with anything more than drugs or the birth of my baby!  So with it being time to push, Abbie ran screaming left for the waiting room so she wouldn't have to listen to me holler anymore.  As it turns out, I had been hollering for a while through the contractions.
Let me tell you how awesome God's timing is.  At this point, I'm reminded to praise God more through my music. "My heart overflows on You with joy like a river flowing free. I pour out my praise, oh Lord receive this anointing. I lay my glory down at your feet for the honor of Your name becomes my dignity. You deserve much more than this, let me saturate You with my fragrant praise. I worship You."
Pushing Wyatt and Maggie was a breeze!  Pushing without an epidural: not so much!  It's much harder to focus on how to push, when you can actually feel all the pain Eve caused us to be cursed with.  After a couple of unsuccessful tries (I could see the doctor and nurse exchange glances as the doctor shook her head), Doctor N helps me out.  She tells me to close my mouth and then push.  This was actually helpful.  As soon as I did this, I knew I was doing it right.  It still hurt like nothing else, but at least I was making progress again.  I recall telling Kevin a couple times during this time of pushing that I wanted an epidural if we have another kid.  I remember thinking, "I can't do this. I'm so tired (I'd pretty much been up since 3 that morning), they're going to have to cut this kid out of me because this is too hard".  I'm not sure how long I pushed, but I know it probably wasn't much longer than the other two times (maybe 20 minutes).  Finally, at 5:26 p.m., Grady Alexander came on out.  As they laid him on me, I looked down at our perfect little man and I was just so relieved that it was over.  I told Grady that he would be my only natural birth experience.  I was not going to do this again.
As I'm holding this precious gift, I hear my music again: "Taste and see that life is better than you thought it was. Taste and see that God is good no matter what. Taste and see that life abundantly is what He's got. Taste and See!"
My heart is overflowing with so much love for our newest addition!  He is amazing and we thank God everyday for the blessings He's bestowed upon us!

Now that some time has passed, I don't know what decision I will make if God blesses us again.  However, I do know that some of the factors that led to the decision this time, will weigh heavily on my decision if we do this again.  Are we going to have more kids?  Only God knows!  At this point, we're enjoying the blessings He's already given and we strive to follow His will for this area of our lives.

**I was going to share a picture to reward you for reading the whole post (probably my longest one to date), but blogger's being a pain and won't do it right. I'll try to share some on the next post.

Monday, January 14, 2013


A lot of people have asked me why, so I decided to write down the reasons behind why I chose to have a natural birth experience.

If you know me, you know that this seems so crazy and the people who do know me thought I was.  However, as surprised as they were, they were supportive and basically just went with what I wanted.
After 2 uncomplicated pregnancies, labors, and deliveries with epidurals, I was all set to do it again. Then, over the summer, we went on vacation and I wanted a book to read so I snagged one off the bookshelf that caught my eye. Christ Centered Childbirth. If I had known it was a book about natural childbirth, I honestly would not have even picked it up! However, it was and I read it and I was encouraged and inspired to try it.  The basis is relying on God to ease the discomfort and there are tons of scripture references and even prayers to pray during the different stages of labor and delivery.  I prayed in the weeks and months leading up to the delivery that God would prepare me mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. I knew that if I put my trust in Him, He would bring me through it. You know that saying, "If He brings you to it, He'll bring you through it".  I remained patient as I had braxton hicks contractions   I did start having doubts in the last week that I might not be able to do it, but I knew that my support team would be there to encourage me in whatever decisions I made.
Other factors included hearing people I knew that had recently experienced the repercussions that can come with having epidurals and I have a close friend who's done the natural thing multiple times. I also read a birth story from a girl who was an inspiration to me and many girls in my youth group.  I read this story while I was pregnant with Maggie, but I was of the mindset that she was awesome and I'd never be able to do that!
One thing I knew I'd need was Kevin to be on board and willing to take a much more active role during labor.  I needed him to read the book (well parts of it anyways).  I had him read certain sections that basically outlined what he would need to do to support and encourage me.
The last reason I decided to try it was that I knew that I would probably have the chance to get an epidural if I couldn't handle it early on!

Stay tuned for the rest of the birth story tomorrow and see if I made it through!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Grady's Story

So Grady is one month old as of Monday and I decided it's time to write up his birth story.  I'm so amazed at God's love and His continual blessings over us and our family.  The following story would not have been possible without Him!

For the people who don't really care (men and maybe some women who aren't birth story junkies like me and a few of my friends), here's your version:
I went into labor, went to the hospital, and popped out a baby!  It's a boy!  The end!

For my birth story junkie friends and any other people who might be curious, here ya go:

**Just a note: I decided to try the natural route this time around and if you know me, you're probably laughing because you probably know that I have a fairly low pain tolerance.

So...My last pregnancy post left off with a pending 40 week check-up.  We went to that on Thursday, December 6.  We had an ultrasound where they monitored Grady's vitals and organ function visually for a little bit.  Then I got hooked up to some things to continue to monitor Grady's heart rate, check for contractions, and I had to push a button every time I felt movement.  Then I met with the doctor (not mine=not completely happy).  He was nice enough and answered our questions and put Kev's mind at ease about continuing the pregnancy without inducing for the time being.  He checked me and I was at 4 cm and a good bit effaced (don't remember exactly how much).  I did go ahead and ask him to strip my membranes just to see if that would kick-start anything.
Fast-forward to about 3 a.m. December 7.  I woke up for the umpteenth time and had another contraction--no big deal since I've been having them for forever at this point.  Ten minutes later, I had another.  Before I could fall asleep, I noticed another one 10 minutes after that.  So now I lay in wait for continual contractions at 10 minutes apart.  I tried to sleep, but I was kind of just awake.  The contractions continued every ten minutes and were strong enough to wake me up once I finally fell asleep around 5.  I dozed in between contractions.  I let Kev sleep because I knew that at least one of us should be sleeping.  At about 6 a.m., I texted my doula (my friend Abbie) to get her opinion of whether I should keep Kevin home or send him on to work.  The last thing I wanted was to keep him home and have the contractions fizzle out as soon as I got up.  We decided Kev would be able to get home quickly enough if things progressed so he went to work while I tried to snooze a little more.
8 a.m. brought calls from the kiddos to wake up and get some breakfast.  I continued to notice contractions, but I wasn't timing them at this point because I was a little busy doing other things.  I called Abbie and we decided I would come over to make salt dough ornaments and then we'd go for a walk to see if that would speed things along.  I called my mom to let her know that I might be in labor and that I'd let her know if things kept up (later I found out that I forgot to call her back).  I kept moving around, got the kids ready, and took a shower.  If the contractions were going to stop, all of this change in activity should have done it.
I finally got to Abbie's around 11.  I talked to Kev during the drive and told him to stay at work because the contractions were still too far apart and not strong enough yet.  I noticed a few contractions about 5-7 minutes apart on the way over there and they continued.  I stayed walking around and started timing the contractions with a timer app and noticed they were soon becoming stronger and closer together.  However, I was still talking and smiling and even laughing a little during them so they weren't bad yet.  I wasn't ready to call Kev yet, but Abbie went ahead and called Mark (her hubby) and finally convinced me to go ahead and call Kev and it was a little after 12 p.m.  Here's how our conversation went:
Me--Hey.  If you wanna come on home after you finish with this class, you can. :)
Kev--What? How far apart are the contractions?
Me--Well some of them are about 5 minutes apart, but...I guess a lot of them are 3ish minutes apart?
Kev--What?  I need to come home now!
Can you tell I was pretty nonchalant about it all?  I don't think I had fully accepted that I was in true labor and that Grady was definitely coming that day.
So the contractions are starting to get a little farther apart now that I'm sitting on the exercise ball instead of walking, but they're definitely getting stronger.  I'm still in a good mood through them though.  Now we're wondering whether or not I should drive home, so Kev meets me at Abbie's.  After he eats a quick sandwich, we decide that I'm fine to drive.  Halfway home, I have a pretty strong contraction.  Luckily we were coming to a stop and I had to wait to turn.  As I turned on to our street, I have another one so they're still in the 5 minute range.  Kev's parents are waiting for us when we get there since he called them when he left work.  We get the kids loaded up and sent off while I continue contractions.  They're getting a little stronger, but I'm not ready to go to the hospital yet.
Abbie gets to the house as the kids are leaving so we go inside and hang out.  She crochets while I get back to timing my contractions.  After a few more contractions, I'm ready to try a new position and I've stopped being able to really talk a lot during them.  After a few contractions on the floor and a crawl to the bathroom to pee, I'm ready to go to the hospital!
**Insert sigh of relief from Kevin at this point!

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Growing Grady

So here is Grady's growth stats from his first couple of check-ups:

Reminder that he was 9 lbs. 3 oz. and 22 1/2 in. at birth.

Newborn check-up (4 days old):
Weight--9 lbs. (87th %)
Height--22 1/2 in. (100th %)
Head--14 3/8 in. (89th %)

Two week check-up:
Weight--10 lbs. 4 oz. (92nd %)
Height--23 in. (100th %)
Head--15 1/4 in. (100th %)

He's really too long for most of his 0-3 month sleepers, but since he's not completely stretching out yet, he can still wear them.  He can wear some 3-6 month clothes already and it's just crazy!

He's now a month old and still growing! I can tell he's gaining weight as my arm is feeling the burn some days!  If I lay him down, he looks so small...then I pick him up and he doesn't seem so small anymore.  He's so strong and has been holding his head up a good bit for the past couple weeks.  He is eating and sleeping very well (although--if he'd sleep longer at night, I wouldn't complain!).  He's not the least bit bothered by his noisy siblings.  They can run all around, screaming like banshees right next to him and doesn't even flinch!

Wyatt and Maggie are quite fond of him too!  If he's not in the room, they ask about him.My sister made a joke about taking him home with her and Wyatt was very upset.  My aunt was holding him while visiting at my mom's house and when it was time for us to leave, Wyatt told her that Grady needed to go home with us. They love their new brother and it just warms our hearts so much to see them as enamored with him as we are!

Stay tuned tomorrow for Grady's birth story!