Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Operation No More Babies

Ryan and I recently made the decision to have no more children.  We have 3 beautiful children here on this earth and 3 children waiting for us in heaven.  Our years of fertility have brought great joy and great sadness.  Putting those years behind us is bitter sweet.

When I was pregnat with Genevieve I was sure that I would not think twice about getting my tubes tied.  Pregnancy was hard. Harder than it had been before.  Each day that passed toward the end came with stronger thoughts of being "done".

I made the appointment within 10 days of her birth.  I was sure that these 3 beautiful children were all that I could care for well.  And so it was time to put that stage of our lives behind us. (Side note for anyone wondering why I did the surgery and not Ryan.  It was a financial decision.  We are on separate insurance and mine was 100% covered and he would have had to meet his deductible.  Can't beat free surgery.)
And yet, when walked into the hospital yesterday for my surgery, I got sad.  Ryan kept asking me if I was ok.  I just kept saying yes.  But inside I was quite sad.  I know in my head that it's the right decision.  But my heart aches just knowing those years are over.

No more pregnant bellies.  Each first that Genevieve goes through is the last time I will see that first.  Each outfit she outgrows will be donated.  Each stage she leaves behind will be another stage we leave behind as well.

Part of that is freeing. Part of that is really sad.  But you have to stop sometime.  It doesn't matter if this is my last baby or if we had one more after this.  I will have to go through those "lasts" at some point.

It is officially over now.  The surgery is done.  There is no turning back.  I will hold on to these lasts as much as I possibly can.  And I will soak in as much joy as I can from the lasts that are coming down the road.

But if you see me getting overly emotional at the little things Genevieve does, just know that I am savoring those moments.  She is officially the baby and will be forever.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Final Birth

One of my favorite parts of giving birth is going over the birth story over and over again in my head.  I enjoy re-living the anticipation, the highs and lows, and finally that moment where I got to meet the latest addition of our family.  But this birth story has been hard for me to write.  I've had a birth go differently than hoped before and I've had a birth go exactly as I hoped.  But this is different altogether.

The weeks leading up to Genevieve's birth were tough.  I am older this time.  I never imagined that I would be pregnant at 37.  And this was a third pregnancy.  I started having regular contractions at around 30 weeks, nothing regular at first and then they worked themselves into a pattern of starting every night around 7:00 and stopping after a bath before bed.  On top of the contractions and the general difficulties of the end of pregnancy, our website went through some really tough spots.  We went almost a week without being online.  And yet, God provided a fix for this less than a week before I went into labor.  As I was living through all of this, I imagined that this would be what my birth story would revolve around.  But it's not.

It was a Thursday.  I had a mother/daughter brunch at Ainsley's school.  It was the last thing that I wanted to do before I had this baby.  I went to school that morning and didn't realize that it was the National Day of Prayer.  Ainsley's school had a worship service that lasted over an hour.  I stood for the whole thing.  Prior to that, I think standing for 5 minutes was my max.  But I kept thinking that it would be over in 5 minutes so I didn't ask for a chair.  The brunch was amazing and a wonderful time to celebrate Ainsley.

That night I dropped Ainsley off at dance class and she was going to be picked up by a friend for dinner.  David and I went to Chipotle to get dinner for the rest of us.  As is the case typically at dinner time, we stood in line for about 45 minutes.  We got home that night and ate dinner.  Ainsley was dropped off by her friend's dad and the rest of us ate our dinner.  As I finished, I told Ryan that I thought I might be in early labor.  The contractions that started at 7:00 were different, much more intense and much more patterned.  He asked me what he needed to do and I said, just get the kids to bed.  8 minutes.  It took him 8 minutes to get them to bed when it normally takes him 45.  Woot!

I called my my mother in law, midwife, and my doula.  Everyone had prepped me that this labor was going to go fast since David's was only 3 hours.  When we couldn't get in touch with Ryan's mom I began to freak.  We called the neighbors and created a back up plan.  But this labor was going much more routine than either of my other 2.  My contractions were building in a steady pace but not too fast.  We located my mother in law and my doula came over.  We took a walk and being on my feet seemed to keep the contractions going.  I got in the shower, as per my midwife's advice, and they really built.  We decided now was the right time to go to the hospital.  I kissed my sleeping children goodbye and we went into Genevieve's room and prayed over what was to come.  That time was sweet and helped me center myself for the work ahead.

When we got to the hospital, my contractions had all but stopped.  I checked in with the nurse and my midwife.  I was not going home.  I hadn't progressed any from my appointment the day before but we decided that since I was there it might be a good time to get my membranes stripped.  This had worked with David so it was worth a shot.  We decided to get checked in and get an IV put in.  I was Group B Strep positive so I was going to need antibiotics as soon as possible.  They put us in the same room that we had when David was born.  It was so familiar. I had my membranes stripped and my midwife set up the tub as Ryan, Mary (my doula), and I began to walk the halls.  As long as I was standing up, my contractions kept going.  When I sat down they all but stopped.  So I stood.

At this point, I had my antibiotics dripping and I was in the shower.  I was managing my contractions really well.  Ryan, Mary, Tanya (my midwife), and Kristy (my nurse) were all just sitting around watching me labor and small talking.

I got out of the shower and Tanya decided it was a good time to break my water.  I was 8cm and I just needed a final push to go through transition.  I had a couple contractions and then it was clearly time to get in the tub.

So I transferred into the tub and my body just really took over. Ryan held my hand as I worked through these harder contractions. I remember Tanya saying something about moving my hips to help get baby into a better position.  I have no idea what she said for me to do, but my body just did it.   With each contraction I kicked a leg out here or rotated there and within 45 minutes, I was fully dilated and ready to push.  And I pushed for 3 minutes.  2 contractions.  It was a hard 3 minutes.  That crap burns and hurts.  They don't call it the ring of fire for nothing.  But I had her out.  I was in so much of a zone that Tanya had to yell at me to look down and see my baby.

And then we met Genevieve.

She was so chill.  Not screaming or crying.  Just looking at us.  It's one of the beauties of water birth. The babies come out with such a smooth transition.  Her apgar scores were 7 and 8.  She was pinking up and doing well.  They decided it was time for me to get out of the tub and so they transferred Genevieve to Ryan's chest.

And that's where it went different.  And my life changed before my eyes.  And I will never be the same.

Within a minute of Genevieve being put on Ryan's chest, she stopped breathing.  Completely stopped breathing.  He quickly called over the nurses and they wisked Genevieve to the baby warming station.  Remember I'm still in the tub so I can't really see what's going on.  And then Tanya turns and looks at me.  Calmly she says to me, "Your baby is having some trouble breathing.  We are going to call the NICU team in.  There is going to be a lot of people in here really soon.  Just hold on."  And she turned to the wall and hit the NICU button.

20 seconds.  It took 20 seconds for the doors to fly open and rush of people to come in.  They took over immediately.  All I heard was someone saying "6 minutes since birth.  7 minutes since birth.  8 minutes since birth.  9 minutes since birth.  10 minutes since birt., 11 minutes since birth."  Ryan was there watching the whole thing.  Mary was at my shoulder, holding my hand and praying.  I don't know what she prayed.  But it was clear that she was petitioning to our Heavenly Father to please save this little baby girl.

And then Genevieve cried.  It was the sweetest sound I've ever heard in all of my life.  She was ok.  She had made it through.  And so had we.  Those were the hardest 5 minutes of my life.

We don't know why it happened.  Genevieve spent the next 72 hours in the NICU trying to figure it out.  There was a possibility that the Group B Strep infection had passed to her.  But the cultures all came back clear.  The best explanation I have received is that sometimes babies just don't transition well.  It had nothing to do with the water birth.  It had nothing to do with me being Group B Strep positive.  I didn't do anything that caused it.  It just happenes sometimes.

Because she was in the NICU for so long, we extended my stay at the hospital.  The time in the hospital was not what I imagined.  There were very few visitors.  We don't have wonderful hospital pictures.  We are missing the one of her being weighed for the first time.  Ainsley and David couldn't meet her until she came home.  I missed out on some precious skin to skin time in our room.  I was able to breastfeed in the NICU but it was in a chair behind a curtain.  Not very bonding.  When I think about those 72 hours, I just get sad.

Thinking back over her whole birth, the glorious empowerment that it could have been is gone.  Her birth is about minutes 6 through 11.  Those 5 minutes felt like an eternity.  After the losses we have gone through, I couldn't imagine losing a baby at full term.  And yet graciously, God answered those prayers that Mary prayed while I sat in that tub.  Those prayers were heard.

And for me, Genevieve's birth is wrapped up in prayers.  We prayed for her before she was conceived.  We prayed for her during my pregnancy.  We prayed for her during labor.  We prayed for her after she was born.  We will continue to pray for her.

Because of all of those prayers, I have given these verses to her birth story.  Because it's true.  We prayed for her.  And she is not ours.  She is His.

27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
1 Samuel 1:27-28

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