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Olivia’s Birth Story: Part 1

I wasn’t sure how much of this story I was actually going to share on such a public forum.  Why divulge the intimate details of such a meaningful and life changing moment?

Reason #1: One of the lines in this post resonated with me.  I could completely relate to Molly Mahar’s desire as a first time mama to read as many birth stories she could find.  Mainstream media is flooded with so many negative and dis-empowering statements  about the process of birth.  While I was pregnant, I loved hearing stories of positive, natural deliveries where women trusted their bodies and were surrounded by a fabulous support team.  That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with Molly’s opening statement that “there is no right way to be pregnant, give birth, or parent your child.”  Each life is so dear and full of unique experiences.

Reason #2: I have been overwhelmed by all the love and prayers that have been sent our way over the past couple of months from family and friends.  Some have asked questions, some have heard the intimate details, and others have quietly offered their support from a distance.  I am so grateful for your support in how our story unfolded.  Each of you have played a part… now, here is the whole:

Olivia Birth StoryAt about 9 pm, I went upstairs to listen to a relaxation script as part of my Hypnobabies childbirth prep homework.  Lexi, our Shih Tzu puppy, snuggled next to me and we both started to drift as the familiar relaxation music and soothing imagery played in the background.  I remember hearing Lexi’s soft snores.

All of a sudden, still in a light sleep state, I felt a gush of something fill my pants.  I literally threw the covers off of me and sprang out of bed.  When I realized what might be happening- what it just had to be- I went over to the door and started screaming for James who was in the basement.  Fortunately, he had just finished up his work and was heading upstairs so he heard my cries immediately.  James was so calm and collected.  I told him in between panicked sobs that I think my water broke… every couple of moments, more trickled out, which only served to confirm my theory.

James quickly called my parents to let them know we were heading to the hospital while I changed into another pair of pants.  I don’t remember much of the short car ride to the hospital other than talking to my parents and asking them to call the doctor’s exchange since I didn’t seem to be able to locate the number in my phone.

James dropped me off at the ER entrance and suddenly everything was becoming very real.  The woman at registration asked “Can I help you?” as I walked in and I remember not being able to speak.  In between sobs and feeling more trickles, I managed to blurt out something to the effect “I’m 33 weeks pregnant and I think my water broke.”  By that time, James had parked the car and they both were assisting me to a wheelchair where I was whisked up to the Labor and Delivery floor.  Everything seemed to be happening so quickly.  James would later tell me that I called out to him at around 9:50pm and we were in a hospital bed by 10:04pm.

I was immediately hooked up to an IV and a continuous fetal monitor, 2 medical interventions that I desperately wanted to avoid.  My dream of having a private, home birth with little medical assistance was shattered.  My birth plan was safely housed on my computer and our birthing preferences were slowly being eroded in front of our eyes.  One thought was at the forefront of my mind, “Is she ok?”

The first couple of hours in the hospital were a bit confusing.  The on call doctor wanted to check my cervix (which was completely closed) and confirm that the fluid was indeed from my amniotic sac.  She also ordered a test to assess how mature Olivia’s lungs actually were at this point in the pregnancy.  It appeared as though it was one giant waiting game to see what was going to happen next.  We kept asking how long it would take to get the lung maturity test back from the lab- no one was able to give us a clear answer.

My contractions (or birthing waves in Hypnobabies lingo) started within a half hour of being at the hospital.  The nurses kept asking me if I felt anything and at first I told them no.  It wasn’t really a lie, per say, but perhaps a futile attempt to avoid the fact that things were progressing.  I guess I was holding out hope that the doctors would suggest some magic cure to fix the whole situation and guarantee the safety of my sweet baby.

My parents arrived at the hospital around 10:30pm.  My mom had a long tiring day prior to this event- both of my grandparents ended up being hospitalized after their doctor’s appointments earlier in the day.  Prior to my admission, she had already gone 10 rounds with coordinating hospital arrangements.  Now, her baby was in the hot seat.

While we waited, our wonderful doula (Alicia) stopped by the hospital.  We called her initially to tell her a heads up over what was happening and she immediately set things in motion to have her back-up doula join us at some point.  Alicia had just given birth herself 4 days prior to our surprise delivery.  It was such an incredibly nice gesture for her to come to the hospital to lend us her support.  She asked the doctors several clarification questions and attempted to give us some tips on how to proceed with our natural birth plan in our new circumstances.

Birth Story Fetal Monitor

When it became clear that my pressure waves were becoming more intense quickly, the situation in the room started to shift from one of “wait and see” to “she is having the baby now.”  I had heard that when a woman is hooked up to a continuous fetal monitor, a dynamic in the room shifts.  All eyes start to watch the monitor instead of the pregnant woman.  So true!  Our eyes became fixated on how our little girl’s heart rate was tolerating each contraction.  Was it going to stay within the safe zone?  I’ll never forget how after each intense wave, James lovingly reassured me that the baby was doing great.

Click here to read Part 2 of Olivia’s Birth Story

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The Day Time Stood Still

You might have noticed a bit of a time gap from my last post… our lives have been utterly transformed by one precious event: the birth of our sweet baby girl.  Olivia Rose arrived on December 28, 2013 at 5:51 in the evening…. almost 7 weeks premature.

First Family Photo

I am not the same person I was 3 months ago- I am stronger.  I am more grateful.  I am more aware of the precious and fleeting nature of each moment.  J and I have been on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from pure joy to sheer panic.  We were so unprepared for everything that unfolded: no hospital bags were packed, Olivia’s nursery was completely unfinished, and I was under the impression that I had approximately 7 more weeks to practice all the child birthing relaxation techniques that we had learned.

Welcome Olivia

These beautiful pictures were taken on the day Olivia was finally released from the hospital.  Our little girl has been through so much- time in the Special Care Unit, medical procedures to ease her breathing, follow-up appointments with different specialists, and continued metabolic testing.  I am so proud of her strong spirit.

Welcome to the world, dear Olivia.

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Baby Bump Update: Weeks 29 and 31

Baby Bump Week 29

The time is flying by… no official picture for Week 29.  I did, however, snap this quick photo while we were out of town.  Baby is definitely growing!

Time: November 27th- December 3rd

Highlights: James and I traveled to Kansas City over the weekend to attend a wedding.  We were able to squeeze in a quick dinner date on the first night we arrived in an area called The Plaza.  All the buildings were adorned with festive lights, which created a magical atmosphere.  (I later read that they start decorating this area after Labor Day and aren’t finished taking down the lights until March!)

Milestone: The nursery is painted as of this week!

Week 31

Baby Bump Week 31

Time: December 11th- 17th

Developmental Milestones: Baby’s eyes are finally open after being fused shut for approximately 18 weeks and her irises are reacting to light.

Cravings: Vanilla ice cream drizzled in caramel and chocolate sauce!  Also, clementines… they are so delicious!  For better or worse, I discovered Whole Foods’ version of Gingerbread Scones.  I absolutely LOVE them… now, if they could just take out those pesky calories!

Highlights:  James and I had triple duty this week in terms of preparing for Baby’s arrival– we attended a breastfeeding basics workshop, a Holiday prenatal yoga class, and the last session of our birthing course.  What a line-up!  I have also started to feel quite a bit of tightening around my abdomen while walking or exercising… small contractions preparing for the big day!

James and I also spent quite a bit of time in the nursery organizing all the wonderful gifts from our baby shower.  I am absolutely overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity.  More details and photos to come from this special day!

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Baby Bump Update: Week 27

Baby Bump Week 27

Time: November 13th- 19th

Developmental Milestones:  Baby Girl is slightly more than 2 pounds now… about the size of a rutabaga!  Her brain tissue is rapidly developing and her delicate eyelids are beginning to open (they have been fused shut since about 11 weeks).

Cravings:  Grapes!  They have never tasted so good!

Highlights:  Lots of progress on preparing for Baby Girl’s arrival this past week.  We ordered the crib, cleared out several pieces of furniture in the nursery, and took 2 tours of birthing facilities in the area.  Baby Girl has been much more active this week- it’s always reassuring to feel her move every so often.

James and I also hosted a potluck Thanksgiving with our group of friends on Sunday.  It is our third year of celebrating “Friendsgiving” and I look forward to this tradition each Fall.

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Baby Bump Update: Week 25

Baby Bump Week 25

Time: October 30th- November 5th

Developmental Milestones: Baby is continuing to grow this week, increasing her fat stores.  Her lungs are continuing to develop and starting to manufacture surfactant.  Several pregnancy week-by-week trackers suggest that you could tell the color of baby’s hair at this point!

Highlights:

  • The first day of November, I felt Baby Girl move for the longest stretch of time yet.
  • We are officially halfway done with our Hypnobabies Birthing Class.  (More details on the type of class we choose and our thoughts on the experience to come!) —>UPDATE: Our Experience with Hypnobabies
  • J and I are getting closer to picking out a name… it’s down to 2!
  • Halloween Fun: We traveled to my Grandparent’s house on Halloween to celebrate my Grandma’s 92nd birthday!  James and I showed her our crazy Halloween costumes and enjoyed a family pizza dinner.  James was the official chef extraordinaire (“the Bun Maker!”) and I sported a matching shirt!  Such fun memories… and an item checked off our Fall Bucket List: Find a fun maternity Halloween Costume!

 

 

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Baby Bump Update: Week 23

Baby Bump Week 23

Time: October 16-22nd

Developmental Milestones: Baby girl’s first teeth are forming below her gum line. Her fingernails are almost fully grown at this point. Fun fact from Fit Pregnancy: blood travels through the umbilical cord at 4-miles per hour. Since her inner ear is fully developed, baby likely knows if she is upside down.

Cravings: Nothing in particular.

Highlights: Many people on our trip 2 weeks ago kept asking, “where are you hiding the baby!?”  This was one of the first weeks where I really felt and looked pregnant.  The bump seems like it has exploded in growth over the past few weeks!

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Baby Bump Update: Week 21

Baby Bump Week 21

Time: October 2nd-9th

Developmental Milestones: Our baby girl is starting to put on weight this week. Her bone marrow is producing blood cells and her taste buds are processing the flavors of different foods.

Cravings: Nothing new this week… James and I splurged and enjoyed dessert on most nights this week!

Highlights: The majority of our week was spent in Maui, Hawaii. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more beautiful setting. One of the most exciting parts of the trip: feeling the baby move for the first time while on the airplane about an hour from our destination. I’m pretty sure I’ve felt these little flutters before but they were always so faint. Her little kicks were unmistakeable this time! Movements are still very sporadic.

In addition to exploring amazing waterfalls and relaxing at the beach, James and I had 2 outstanding culinary treats.  We sampled the BEST banana bread at Julia’s and ordered the BEST dessert at Mama’s Fish House. I can’t even begin to describe how delicious Mama’s Hana Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp was- we devoured it! More details to come about our tropical “Babymoon.”

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Sneak Peak: Celebrating Baby Girl

This past week or so has been absolutely jam packed with preparing class instructions, teaching workshops, meeting deadlines, and feeling infinitely grateful.  We have also been celebrating the news of our healthy baby girl!

Sneak Peak: Gender Reveal Party

Here’s a sneak peak at some elements at our gender reveal party.  This gorgeous bouquet graced our main table:

Baby Gender Reveal Centerpiece

….as well as these cute homemade lollipops!

Baby Gender Reveal Lollipops

And those confetti poppers in the first image?  They might have played quite a large role in our reveal method!  Can’t wait to share more details about this fun evening!

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Baby Bump Update: Week 19

Baby Bump Week 19

Time: September 18-25th

Developmental Milestones: Our ultrasound this week showed Baby is a sweet little girl! She is the size of a mango and constantly moving around. We even saw her cover her ears at one point during the ultrasound! Vernix caseosa has formed a protective layer around her body that will protect her skin for the next couple of months.

Symptoms: Feeling great!

Cravings: I’ve been on a roll with cheesecake!  James and I went out to dinner this weekend and we ordered a slice of their house cheesecake to go.  It was drizzled in caramel… simply amazing!

Highlights: We couldn’t be more thrilled with the news from our ultrasound! All of Baby’s measurements were on track and appeared to be healthy! I am so relieved. The past couple of weeks have been a bit nerve wracking since I am not showing a whole ton and I haven’t felt the Baby move yet. Our wonderful ultrasound technician explained that this was quite normal with an anterior placenta.  In this position, the placenta acts as an extra cushion between the Baby and your outside tummy- making it even harder to feel those first flutters of movement.

The day after we found out the big news, we hosted a reveal party for several close friends and family members.  It was such a fun and memorable night.  More details to come!  Right now, I’m enjoying this gorgeous profile pic:

and this adorable pic of our Baby’s hands:

Our ultrasound technician explained that the baby’s thumb is in a different plane on the left-hand side, which is why it doesn’t show up in the photo.  It was such a gift to see this little one moving around and to listen to her heartbeat.

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Baby Bump Update: Week 17

Baby Bump Week 17

Time: September 4th-10th

Developmental Milestones:  Baby’s ears are developing so he or she is able to hear our voices!  Tiny fingerprints have also formed.

Symptoms:  Feeling great except my sleeping patterns have really been affected the past couple of weeks.  I don’t remember the last time I’ve actually slept through the night!  Lately, my lower back and tailbone have started hurting.  I’ve gotten the go ahead from the doctor to see a chiropractor so hopefully I will get some information on some helpful stretches.  At my prenatal check-up last week, I received a flu shot- wow, my arm is still sore from the injection.  Ouch!

Cravings:  Nothing new this week!  Currently, loving Strawberry ice cream.

Highlights: The doctor found the Baby’s heartbeat immediately at our check-up last week!  It sounds so strong!  We also made THE appointment!  We will be finding out whether Baby is a he or she on September 20th!  J and I can’t wait.  I am also really looking forward to the first signs of movement, which should be happening anytime now.  Still waiting on developing that cute baby bump.

*Credit: I found this charming blog, Little Baby Garvin, through Pinterest and loved her chalk designs documenting her pregnancy.  I couldn’t resist trying my own hand at creating a fun update sign!

 

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