So, Someone You Know Is Pregnant…

LexmarkAIOScan7

So, someone you know or just met is having a baby or just had a baby. Here on some tips to keep them from possibly harming you from saying or doing the exact wrong thing.

My editor (The Pastor) has insisted I put up some disclaimers to avoid hurt feelings- yours and mine.

**Disclaimer #1- I am not pregnant. Don’t ask someone if they are pregnant. If they want to tell you, that is their news to share. Never ask a woman if she is pregnant. Seriously. I have two shirts I can no longer wear in public because some punk asked when I was due while wearing them. I don’t have enough clothing options to keep this up. That is an old ultrasound pic. If you clicked over here expecting some big news, sorry to disappoint you. ZERO ANNOUNCEMENTS are going on over here. None. Kind of like the time I posted a picture of my dishwasher with little flour handprints on it and everyone thought it was an ultrasound picture because I added the caption “proof of little life around here” and I meant, proof a toddler and preschooler were being punks in the kitchen with some flour, but so many people same multiple fetuses in that picture. This is like that photo. Not an announcement. **

**Disclaimer #2- Do not ask us if we are having more kids. We’re kind of still working on the adding of the sixth kid. I don’t want to think about it right now, and I don’t have to. And really, you don’t want details. You don’t need them. There are words like amenorrhea in there, so just don’t ask. It gets too personal really quickly.**

**Disclaimer #3- Some of these things have personally happened to me. Most are things I have picked up from being around lots and lots of growing families and hearing their issues. Take no personal offense. I would have told you if you personally offended me or annoyed me. You’d know. If you don’t know, it is because you didn’t.**

**Disclaimer #4- I probably left some things out. I have only had six kids, there may be some more tips people need to know that I haven’t come across yet. You can add your own tips in the comments. Just keep your language clean so the editor doesn’t delete them.**

20 weeks 2 days

Now, tips when someone you know is pregnant!

Tip #1- Their pregnancy and anything pregnancy or baby related is theirs to share. DO NOT share a pregnancy on Facebook unless it is your own. Seriously. Can I tell you how many people I got to tell I was expecting my first baby? Um. One. Seriously. I got to tell my husband. Things just exploded from there. While your enthusiasm is a welcome thing, let new parents share their own news.

Same for when the baby is born. If you look at their Facebook page and they haven’t posted about the new baby yet, don’t post it. Let them post it when they are ready. Same for e-mails. Definitely DO NOT send e-mails to everyone about the birth of a baby unless you have express permission from the new parents.

If you share news that isn’t yours, pretty soon people realize this and you’ll be the last to be told anything, much like the four year old they know cannot keep their mouth shut. They’ll just avoid telling you. Do you really want to be at the end of the list?

Tip #2- The only response to “We’re having a baby!” is congratulations or some form of that. Either muster up some good will, or say nothing. “Are you done now?” “Are you the Duggars?” “But it is too soon!” “But you’re not done with college.” “Will this be your last?” “But you already have a baby!” “Oh my God, I would kill myself.” (Yeah, that really happened. The Pastor almost got that cashier fired.) None of those are appropriate. Either be happy for them or remove yourself from the situation. No one needs negativity during this time. Newly expectant parents have enough on their mind- they just need support. Period.

Tip #3-  No name bashing. I don’t care if they name their kid after Hefty trash bags- either say something nice or keep it to yourself. I don’t care if you think the kid should be little Frank. They don’t care either. All you get when you are negative about their name choice is no heads up on the name next time. Seriously. They just won’t tell you in the future.

Here on some response you can use: “How do you spell that? I want to make sure we embroider it correctly.” “That is a cool name, where did you come up with it.” “That is a nice name, does it have a special meaning.” “I like that name.” “That name will certainly stand out on his college application!” “Are you 100% set? I have a set of bibs to monogram immediately!” “[Repeat name]. That has such a nice ring to it.” “Woohoo! I am [name]’s Auntie!” “Unusual. But I like it.”

If you can’t find something nice to say, tell someone else about it. Really. Do not under any circumstance tell either parent. Tell your neighbor, cashier at the store, online support group, anyone BUT the parents to be.

Tip #4- Never comment on a pregnant woman’s size. Just don’t do it. She’ll be told by one bystander she is huge, immediately causing her to freak out about gestational diabetes. The next person will tell her she is small, causing her to stress over intrauterine growth restriction.

Tell her she looks cute. Tell her she is glowing. Tell her pregnancy suites her. Tell her you miss your own baby belly. Tell her she is radiant. Tell her she is a beautiful picture of motherhood. Tell her how awesome her bump is.

Tip #5- On a related note, once the baby is born, make no comments about the baby’s size! She’ll freak out that she isn’t making enough milk or that the baby will be obese for life or he’ll be labeled as failure to thrive. New moms have enough worry. Don’t add to it.

“He’s healthy!” “I forgot how tiny newborns are!” “Look at all those sweet rolls!” “He is growing really well!” “She is beautiful!” All of these are appropriate. Just avoid implying the baby is too big or too small, even if you are just “observing”. She’ll freak out. It is what Mom’s do.

Tip #6- New Parents will not tell you this, but what they really need is money. Really. I know you want to buy something baby, and that is cool and awesome. But think of all the ridiculous expenses pregnancies and new babies bring. You want to buy 15 hair bows, but they really need breast pads and lanolin, which make an awkward gift. They really need money for the poise pads, hemorrhoid cream, and take out food post birth. But they can’t tell you that. They can’t tell you they don’t need another bath set for the baby, they really need to pay their insurance deductible. They really don’t need five sets of tiny nail clippers and 20 pacis the baby will refuse to take because they decide that one obscure paci you found in that one random shop one time is the only one for them. They need a pregnancy support pillow, V2 support belt,  and prenatal massage to make those last days more comfortable.

It doesn’t really help to ask what they need. No one wants to name a high dollar item when you’re looking to spend ten bucks. No one wants to tell you something ridiculously specific. So, they usually just say “nothing”. Or they point you to the registry they know you’ll ignore. Because telling people what you need it hard.

Tip #7- Don’t offer your advice. I know you think you’re just the most awesome at everything, but they’ll be making their own way. It isn’t personal. You know you didn’t do everything exactly like your mom, aunt, second cousin, neighbor, or stranger at the store either. If they don’t ask you about teething remedies, don’t give them. I don’t go around sharing advice on how to deal with head wounds unsolicited. Don’t go and give your baby advice unsolicited.

Tip #8- Avoid asking about their reproductive future. This couple is just wrapping their heads around THIS kid and you’re already asking about the future ones that they haven’t even thought of yet. It really isn’t your business, so just don’t ask them. I know you’re dying to know when little Hefty will be getting a sister, but don’t ask. DO NOT ASK. It’s awkward and weird and they’re already overwhelmed and now Uncle Bobby is asking about their sex life. Don’t ask. Not your business. Again. Not your business. People usually only want to talk about such things with their spouses or BFFs. That’s about the end of the list. So, I know you’re curious, but don’t ask.

Tip #9- Don’t assume anything. If the mom to be has not said she is breastfeeding, don’t assume she is. If she hasn’t mentioned an epidural, don’t assume she’s getting one. You can safely assume that if she hasn’t brought it up with you she doesn’t want to talk to you about it.

Tip #10- Don’t ask personal medical questions. If the expectant couple has something to share, they will share it. Don’t ask about dilation (some of us don’t have that checked ever *gasp*). Don’t ask about the results from the trisomy screening. Don’t ask how much weight they’ve gained, what their blood pressure is, if they’ve had bloody show, if they’re leaking colostrum- if they don’t tell you, they likely don’t want you to know. It is sometimes hard to remember that in pregnancy, all these things are still personal medical questions. We don’t go asking people about their thyroid levels or menopausal status, so let’s keep it down with the pregnant medical stuff, too.

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Tip #11- I know I said “Don’t assume anything” but, assume you are NOT invited to the delivery room unless you are asked to be there. Don’t ask to be included. It just makes it awkward for everyone. Some people may not mind, but there are very few who feel comfortable telling family or friends to get out. (I happen to be one who will absolutely tell my family and friends when I need them out of my space, but I appear to be abnormal in that way.) It is weird and presumptive to ask to be there. They get that you are excited. I’m excited that you’re excited. But let them decide when and how they want you present.

The same is true for ultrasounds and doctor/midwife visits. They may want to share that with you. If they do, they’ll invite you. Don’t ask to tag along. It puts them in a really awkward spot. And really, do you want to be there if you aren’t really welcome? Let them ask you. Or not.

Tip #12- Don’t take it personally. When the new parents want some time alone with their infant, it isn’t about you, it is about them. When they don’t want you visiting immediately after birth, it isn’t about you, it is about them. When they don’t want to let you hold the baby immediately, it isn’t about you, it is about them. Their name choice isn’t about you. Their diaper choice isn’t about you. Let it go and just go with their flow. Everyone will be happier.

Tip #13- Don’t forget Dad. This is a big time in his life, too. He’s part of this. A big part. Don’t assume he is ignorant. Don’t assume this is all about mom and baby. Don’t assume he is stress free. Many Dads find that they are extremely stressed during pregnancy. They have their own brand of worries. Will their partner be okay? Will they be able to provide for their family? Will the baby have their unfortunate ears? Will the family finances be okay? How on earth are they going to pay for that crib? And the mattress isn’t included?! Dads worry, too. And they dream in their own way. And they are just as stressed and sleep deprived as Moms. So keep them in mind, too. And definitely don’t try to elbow them out or imply you can be better support. Dads are invaluable.

Tip #14- Holding the baby isn’t helping. There are a million things that need to be done. Super shame on you if your solution is to hold the baby while the woman who just pushed that cute little bundle of joy out takes care of the household chores. Laundry still needs to be done. Groceries still need to be purchased. Bathrooms need scrubbing (and remember she’s been super pregnant so that has probably gone undone for a long time). Dinner needs to be on the table at some point. The grubby 4 year old could use some outside time. Don’t ask “What can I do?” You know what you can do. Just roll in and do it.

At the same time, don’t be offended if they just don’t need the help you want to give. You may want to take the kids to the park, but that just stresses the new parents out thinking about swapping car seats around, so they say no. Or you want to bring them dinner, but they have such strict dietary guidelines, they really can’t explain to you what would be okay to bring. Accept it. You offered. They are grateful you offered. If you can help in some other way, cool. If not, that is okay too. Some people may not want you touching their bloody laundry or grocery shopping for them. It is okay. Again, not personal.

Tip #15- Don’t ask if this baby was planned. Really, what you’re asking is really awkward. Did they have sex knowing she was fertile? You really want a discussion about fertile cervical mucous or basal body temp testing? Do you really want to hear about her cycles and how regular or irregular they are? Along the same lines, avoid asking if the baby was conceived “naturally”. Babies are conceived, just go with it. Don’t ask about fertility treatments or drugs or herbs or anything of that sort. The fact is, if you were close enough to ask about such things, then you are close enough that you wouldn’t need to ask because they would tell you.

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Tip #16- Don’t ask about birth plans. This is such a charged topic and such an emotional one for so many women. If they had a c-section before, you can’t assume they’ll have another or assume they’ll have a VBAC. They may be wrapping their head around their options and they really don’t need more pressure from you. If they want to talk to you about the pros and cons of home birth, they will. But unless they bring it up, assume they’ve got things covered.

Tip #17- Don’t ask how they are paying for things unless you are willing to pick up the tab. Not everyone has insurance. It happens. Not everyone has the same priorities as you. Don’t imply they are irresponsible because they don’t have a college saving account already set up. Don’t imply they aren’t responsible because they don’t have the means to pay their insurance deductible the minute the stick showed two lines. Home births are often completely out of pocket with or without insurance, don’t judge them because they can’t just easily throw down whatever that might cost (usually around $3000-$5000, if you’re curious). Unless you are wanting to help financially, don’t ask. Even if you are wanting to help, just ask how much or give without asking. Imagine if someone came into your house and judged every single thing you spent money on this month. Not helpful. Big life changes don’t need financial judgement or commentary. Be helpful or be quiet.

Tip #18- Don’t harass them for information they don’t want to give. If they don’t want to tell the name until birth, they can do that. If they don’t want to find out the gender before birth, they can do that. If they want to find out and just not tell you, they can do that. Harassing them to tell you only makes them want to tell you less. Let them do this their way.

Tip #19- Don’t share horror stories. Seriously. A pregnant woman or her spouse do not need to hear about your Uncle’s third cousin’s fourth degree tear that required extensive corrective surgery. They don’t need to know about your friend’s mother-in-law’s baby who was born with eight toes. They don’t need to hear about your neighbor who had a surprise twin at birth in the 60s. They don’t need to hear about that woman who had a 15 lb. baby. Really, they have enough stress and worry without the horror stories. Even if it seems mild, like you had ridiculously bad hemorrhoids with your third kid that still haven’t gone away 30 years later- they don’t need to know. Keep things positive. Keep encouraging. Don’t be the black cloud and the rain.

Tip #20- Don’t hijack their happiness. This isn’t a competition. You don’t have to share how exciting your pregnancy was to share the joy of their pregnancy. You don’t have to brag extensively about your all natural dolphin assisted lotus birth. Their birth is theirs. Their pregnancy is about them. You don’t have to one-up everything or use every moment as an opportunity to tell them how awesome your experience was. I don’t respond to people’s pregnancy announcements with, “Congrats! I’ve had six pregnancies myself and they were awesome and I am an awesome pregnant woman.” I don’t tell people how old I am on their birthday. I don’t show people my shoes when they have on new ones. Let their pregnancy and birth and new baby experience be theirs. The sun can shine in two places at once.

(I’m not talking about having actual conversations with people. I am talking about those people who seriously turn everything into something about them. You know a one-upper when you have to deal with them, am I right?)

Tip #21- Do not ask “How are you feeling?” every single time you talk to them. Really, it gets old. And most people don’t even want a real answer. They don’t want to know about the varicose veins, unending nausea, pressure on your bladder, horrible hip pain, constipation you cannot even fathom is possible. They want to appear caring, and I think it is awesome that they care. But “How are you feeling?” is such a loaded question when you are pregnant. And it is downright annoying when you ask in *that* tone. (You know the one. That patronizing sing-songy one.) Unless you really want to know how a pregnant woman feels, don’t ask.

Instead of asking how they are feeling, greet them as you would if they were not expecting. Tell her you’ve been praying for her (if you have). If you must ask something pregnancy related, ask about whatever milestone just passed or ask about whatever they have mentioned to you in the past. Or say, “You look radiant.” Always tell a pregnant woman she looks radiant. Or give her a cookie. You can never go wrong with either of those. “How are you feeling?” is acceptable once in a while, if it is a legitimate question. Just don’t let that be all you ever say. And don’t use *that* tone. But be prepared! Pregnancy isn’t always pretty.

Tip #22- Newborns look like newborns. Do not tell a woman who just had a baby that her precious little bundle looks exactly like your Uncle Irving. You know that baby looks like every other baby born. They look like newborns. Squishy-faced, discolored, newborns. She doesn’t want to hear the baby looks like her father-in-law. She doesn’t want to hear the baby looks like cousin Larry’s new baby. The baby looks like a baby. You don’t have to immediately start playing the “who’s genes are stronger” game. Really. No need. Especially DO NOT tell them the baby looks nothing like them, mother or father. Never tell a parent that, newborn or not.

Tip #23- Do not tell a pregnant woman that her baby will be too big to come out. In addition to not telling her that her belly is huge, never tell her the baby IN her belly is huge. That baby has to come out. And she’s already wrapping her head around that seemingly impossible process. Don’t imply the child is massive. Who would that help? (When I was in labor with Pippin, my L&D nurse told me numerous times that my baby was huge. It was very, very unhelpful. I told her many times he was not huge. She just kept on. It didn’t help. And she was wrong. So, a jerk and a wrong jerk. Even if she had been right, she’d still be a jerk.) Don’t be a jerk.

Also don’t imply the baby is too small. Unless you are her chosen medical professional qualified to make such an assessment, you’ll just cause stress. Babies come in a variety of sizes.

Tip #24-  Don’t be pushy with your own agenda. Don’t buy them bottles when you know she is going to breastfeed because you are just sure she’ll need them. Don’t buy paper diapers when they told you they are going to use cloth. Don’t buy all pink when they express that they’d prefer things to be gender neutral. These first things may not seem like a big deal, but these are the first of their parenting decisions. Earn some brownies points by showing them that you respect them as parents and you will abide by their decisions. People tend to want to be around people that encourage them and don’t make them feel small and stupid. Don’t discourage them from these decisions either. If she says she wants a natural birth, don’t tell her she can’t because you couldn’t. If she wants to breastfeed, don’t insist she’ll need to pump so you can feed the baby. These things aren’t about you. Offer your support and encouragement.

Tip #25- Don’t buy yourself baby gifts. This isn’t for strangers, usually just close family. But don’t buy yourself a car seat for the baby for your car unless you have talked to the mother or father to be and they have expressed that you NEED to do so. Do you know how ridiculous it is when Grandma has an entire nursery and Mom and Dad and trying to scrape together enough cash to pop up a pack and play in their room? I cannot tell you how many grandparents have fully outfitted nurseries only to find they didn’t need half the stuff because the parents thought they were a little off their rocker setting up an entire nursery. Unless you have talked to the parents about it, and not in an informing way, but the parents have indicated this would be welcome, don’t set up a full nursery. Sure, a pack and play and high chair at Grandma’s are usually welcome. But don’t take it too far. Don’t buy toys just for your house or other gifts with strings. If it stays at your house, it isn’t a gift for them, it is a gift for you. It is just weird. And it is a big red flag to most new parents. Really, they get that you are excited, and they are super excited to have your support. But know your role. Grandparent is a wonderful title and a wonderful role in a little one’s life. It doesn’t look like the parent’s role. It is different and wonderful in its own way. Foster that wonderful role you have to play and don’t try to steal the parent’s role.

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Tip #26- Celebrate! If this is kid number one or kid number 9, CELEBRATE! A new life has entered the world. Celebrate. All babies deserve to have someone celebrating their arrival. ALL OF THEM. (I won’t rant here about pro-life people who are anti-large family or mean to unwed mothers or any of those things. I could, but I’ll refrain. Just be nice. BE NICE.)

Birthday Cake

Today marks 8 days since my first, and only, C-section. Lots of emotions in that sentence. 8 years later, I’m still mad about the whole thing. I have come to have a gratefulness about the whole situation, it lead me to where I am today and brought new friends into my life I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It opened my eyes. But it was still painful. And it still sucked. And it is that bring glaring example of how messed up our system really is. Doctors making decisions based on malpractice insurance coverage rather than individual patient care. Not that my doctor wouldn’t have done the same even if her insurance had let her. She wasn’t skilled in breech birth. We both knew that. So, maybe she put the blame on her malpractice insurance company when the reality was that it was a skill she didn’t possess. And few do- because no one is teaching them- because no one is doing them- because of those insurance companies. I really wish I had never been cut. But I was and that is my reality. I have a scar. I was left without choices. Funny how that “woman’s right to choose” bit only applies to whether you will or will not continue a pregnancy.

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I let my kids pick their own cake each year. We don’t have birthday parties every year. But cake is a birthday necessity. I don’t care how much sugar, butter, lard, whatever is in there. On your birthday you get cake! Or pie. Whichever you’re into. So, I have one kid who wants grocery store cakes. Those super sugary, questionably decorated, cakes. Cookie cakes on occasion. The rest of my kids usually want mama made cake. Well, there was that one year one of them made me get a cake made with his picture on it of him as a zombie complete with frosting pumpkins- and his birthday is in July. You get looks at the store for that one. But usually, they want something homemade from mom. I am a decent baker. Terrible decorator, but decent baker.

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Aidan and the cupcake

My new 8 year old poured over my cook books trying to find the perfect cake. He had plenty to choose from. I have quite the collection of cookbooks (I’ll post links below). Unlike his younger brother who simply requests banana cake every year, he is a little more adventurous. He wants a unique and fun cake each year. What does he choose? Grasshopper Cake.

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So, here I sit, thinking about this day 8 years ago when I briefly considered just getting lunch instead of heading to the L&D unit for my C-section. Sitting here thinking about how unprepared we were for that outcome. Thinking about my little baby born and having to wait 5 days to hold him. Remembering the panic and fear and pain that came along with his birth. Sitting here now while he runs around the neighborhood with friends while I bake some weird mint cake thing because he thinks it is cool. Laughing at the memory of him being born male parts first, after I was 100% convinced I was having a girl. My second baby. My first son. Eight. Time has healed most wounds with the help of God and friends. I don’t feel forsaken like I did on this day eight years ago. Today, I feel blessed.

Aidan Butt Face

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My Baking Cookbooks:

Baked (this is where the Grasshopper cake is from)

Sweet Chic

Bell’s Best

The Treat’s Truck Baking Book (this is where the favorite Banana Cake is from)

Milk & Cookies

Desserts in Jars

Splendid Spoonful

Pippin- A Birth Story

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This is a post about pregnancy and birth- from a mom’s perspective. If you’re not down with that, leave now! Quick!

My pregnancy with Pippin was going extremely well. I was planning a home birth with some lovely midwives. I even got a water birth tub from a friend, thinking maybe water wouldn’t make me want to claw my skin off this time around, we’d see. Pregnancy was boring, and normal, and uneventful.

And then it wasn’t. I started itching. Claw my skin off, Benadryl won’t touch it, horrible itching. So, I texted my midwives. “I’m itching. I was itching all night. It won’t stop.” After a few other questions about things like urine, rashes, and poop- my midwife told me I’d need to have my liver tested. I was in the lab a couple hours later having liver function tests drawn. My midwives gave me some dietary changes to make and a juice recipe to drink daily while we waited for results. I kept thinking that the liver test would come back fine and it’d just be another weird pregnancy symptom. (Because, you know, no two pregnancies can be alike. Each kid has to throw in their own twist on things in there.)

My liver function test came back bad. Not horrible, but my AST was at the high end of normal and my ALT was double what would have been considered normal. 33 weeks pregnant, zero history of cholestasis in myself or my family, no multiples, no risk factors at all for this. But, we were testing anyway. They ordered bile acids and I went ahead and set up an appointment with a perinatologist for a biophysical profile, non-stress test, and consult. I took to the interwebz, trying to find out all I could about ICP- treatment, risks, anything I could find. It didn’t take long for me to realize how serious this itching actually was. Not so much for me, for me it was annoying. I’d itch, be tired, maybe some GI pain, but I’d heal once the baby was born. The real risk was to the baby. My baby. The big scary word no mom wants to hear or even contemplate- stillbirth. I was terrified.

I stayed on the diet (no sugar, no caffeine, no fried food, low fat everything, no white flour, nothing processed, lots of greens, lots of water with lemon) and the juice (beet, carrot, apple, grape, grapefruit, lemon, and olive oil). After meeting with the perinatologist, we decided to go ahead and start treatment while waiting on the bile acid results.  (Bile acid results take a ridiculously long time to get when you are anxiously awaiting results- about 10 days in my case.) So, I started taking a medication known in short as Urso. And I’d continue weekly biophysical profiles, non-stress tests, and perinatologist consults until we knew I didn’t have it.

I knew from the internet that I was hoping for total bile acids to be less than 10. They finally came back, and they were over 10. 11.9 to be exact. So, a definitive ICP diagnosis, but mild. Second bile acid drawn.

I continued in the care of my home birth midwives and saw the perinatologist weekly for monitoring the baby. My next bile acid result was even higher. Not the news I wanted. It was still mild, but the diet and medication were not exactly lowering the bile acids in my blood. They might have been keeping the ICP mild, I can’t really know.

We knew early delivery would be necessary. An induction would be a possibility. Given that I am a VBAC (though this would be my fourth) and all the other risks associated with ICP, I decided to transfer to a hospital based midwifery group. The transfer, though it was at almost 36 weeks, was seamless, thanks to the back up care provided by the perinatologist. (The hospital based midwifery group works under the perinatologist.) My home birth midwives were supportive of me still trying to have Pippin at home, the perinatologist was comfortable backing me in a home birth, it really came down to my comfort level. And with everything being so up in the air, I just needed one plan for simplicity and on plan that covered all my what-ifs.

At 36 weeks, I started getting nervous. What if my bile acids spike? I wouldn’t know in time to do anything. (Since the blasted test takes 10 days.) So, at my weekly BPP/NST at 36 weeks 3 days, I talked to the perinatologist about my fears. I knew I had a live baby that day, could we say the same in a week? With the risks known to start rising dramatically in week 37, I just didn’t want to risk it. We ended up doing an amniocentesis that day to assess lung maturity. The plan was to begin a low, slow induction the following day in the hospital if his lungs were mature. If the amnio did not come back showing lung maturity, we’d induce at 37 weeks.

Tuesday, the 21st, the amnio results came back showing lung maturity. I went into the hospital that afternoon to begin the slow induction process. I was soft, anterior, not at all dilated. About 50% effaced. And baby at -2. That put my bishop score at about a 6. (Which really isn’t great.) Since I wasn’t dilated at all, we started the induction with cervadil. It states in for 12 hours and gets the cervix ready for the actual induction. About a quarter ’til 5 on Tuesday evening, the Cervadil was inserted and the induction had officially begun.

I kind of expected to have a baby 4 hours after that. I didn’t. I thought, “This is my sixth, it won’t take that long to pop this baby out.” Well, those 4 hours passed, and I decided it was time to sleep. Mentally, I thought it was over. I thought that there was no way this induction would work and I’d have a c-section the next day. Some of you know how traumatic my first c-section was for me and know how hard I fought for my first VBAC. So it will come as a shock when I say that I was okay with the thought of another c-section. I thought, “My baby will be out. And he’ll be alive. And I’ll heal.” I also knew that a c-section would be different this time around. They’d let me hold the baby in the OR. They’d be more respectful. So, that did help, but my main thought was simply that my baby would be alive.

The next morning, the cervadil was removed. I was sure it had done absolutely nothing. The nurse told me they could do it again for another 12 hours if I wasn’t dilated enough to start the next stage of induction. I asked how dilated did I need to be at this point? She said a 2. I was sure I wasn’t that dilated. Surprisingly, I was 3.5cm dilated, more effaced, baby was at 0 station now. On to step 2. After breakfast.

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I took a two hour breakfast break. During this time, The Pastor learned that our house caught on fire. The relatively new oven in our kitchen went up in flames. My mother-in-law was with the children and she got them out and called 911. Police, fire trucks, and the Red Cross came to the delight of my boys. Our church family jumped in helping my mother-in-law entertain the kids, feed the kids, and clean up the house. It was just the kitchen. Just one side of the kitchen. But during this break in my induction, The Pastor is on the phone with the landlord, the fire marshall, his mother, and the church lay leader. Poor guy. And he kept all this from me. I didn’t have a clue anything was going on. I knew The Pastor had a head ache, but assumed it was from sleeping on a bench.

daddy

9 a.m.- 16 hours into the induction- pitocin is started. When they day low and slow, they mean it. I was still pretty sure none of this would work. I was pretty scared of pitocin, since I have heard plenty of stories about laboring with pit- how painful it is compared to natural birth. I didn’t have an epidural or any pain meds. I figured it’d probably get to that point, but why tie myself to the bed prematurely? Pitocin was started on 1. You read that right. 1. This was definitely going to be slow.

Pitocin a 1. I’d have one contraction every time the piton would drip, which wasn’t often. Pitocin went up to 2. Then 3. Then 4. Then 5. Then 6. It is about this point I really freak out. Here we are, after noon, and this Pitocin isn’t doing a thing! How long am I going to keep at this before someone realizes it just isn’t going to work? I’m freaking out. This is all going to end in me being cut, I just know it. Nothing is happening. Nothing. **I should note that I had friends messaging me telling me things were going well. I also had The Pastor telling me all was well. My freaking out was pretty controlled, but I do think those around me knew where my head was.**

strip

I freak out a little on the midwife. She laughs a little and asks me what I want to do. “I want you to check me! These contractions aren’t even uncomfortable. Clearly nothing is working! My body just isn’t going to work like this.” She checks me. I’m 5cm dilated. She says, “See. It is working.” “It is working far too slow.” is my reply. They bump the pitocin up to 7 and assure me this is normal and usual and my body is working. I’ll admit, while I should have been happy that I was more dilated- I wanted it to be more. 5 was only 2cm more than I was at 9am. This low and slow was never going to actually get the baby out. On the plus side, at least it didn’t hurt.

My doula had stopped in and popped in to say she was stepping out again until things picked up a bit. (I do not like to be watched.) I was starting to feel a bit more uncomfortable, as in, the contractions were starting to get noticeable, but I let her go anyway. Of course, I quickly realized that was a mistake and had The Pastor calling her back a few minutes later. After applying some peppermint essential oil to my lower back because I am pretty sure baby is posterior.

Things went from oh-this-is-noticeable to whoa-this-sucks really quickly. It always does for me and it always takes me by surprise. I knew pretty quickly I was hitting transition. I knew I was just checked less than an hour before and was “only” 5cm. I knew the nurse had just 15 minutes before bumped the pitocin up to 8 because I was clearly not in “active labor” yet. But suddenly, I need my hips squeezed, I need to go to the bathroom, I’m hot, I’m going to puke, I decide I don’t want a sixth baby after all. You know, all those things that happen right before you start to push.  Baby had definitely turned around and was ROA and ready.

The nurse wants to check me. I assure her a baby is coming out without her getting involved in my business, if you know what I mean. She keeps asking. I start pushing. My doula is explaining to her that I have a “sound” in my voice when I am complete. The next contraction, the doula says, “That sound.” I push a little. My water breaks all over the nurse. She leaves to change clothes right that second. Surely she’s had amniotic fluid in her socks before. The Pastor and my doula are keeping the cool rags coming, and the peppermint oil and orange oil to help with the nausea.

Less that 20 minutes of pushing (and complaining- I complain a lot while I push) later and we have a baby. I could have sworn he was crowning for half an hour, but that would be impossible given the times. But I swear I thought his head was just never coming out. But unlike the brother before him, his body slid out easily. No pushing past shoulders or hips. Just push out a head and the rest basically fell out. When I first started pushing, the midwife told me he had hair! (As opposed to the brother before him that was born with zero hair and still doesn’t have much to speak of.)

pip

They put him on my chest and I got to smell and cuddle him right away. The Pastor cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. Those that know him will find this part humorous. The midwife asked if he wanted to cut the cord. He said, “As long as I can really cut it and it not be some ceremonial not really cutting it kind of thing.” (Our first baby, the doctor cut the cord, then had him cut it shorter, which kind of irritated him and he is still clearly irritated by it.)

After nursing for about an hour and 20 minutes, they weighed and measured him. 7 lbs. 2 oz. 18.5 inches. They also gave him a vitamin K shot. (This is important for ICP babies. They have increased risk of neonatal hemorrhage.) And then he was diapered and clothed and handed back to me. He stayed with me the entire time we were in the hospital. (You may or may not remember my previous horror stories with postpartum in a hospital, which lead me to home birth in the first place.) He was perfectly healthy. On day 3, his bill levels were borderline, and knowing ICP babies have a higher risk of jaundice, I decided to go ahead and treat him. (The hospital pediatrician left it entirely up to me, which was completely new that a pediatrician thought I was competent.) So, we stayed 12 extra hours in the hospital for him to get some phototherapy. (His levels went from 12 to 7 in those 12 hours.)

mom,dad,pip

I am happy with my choices. I don’t feel bad about “loosing” the home birth plan. Flexibility is a necessary part of the home birth process. Birth is about choosing the best providers and location to fit your needs. When your needs change, plans might change. And that is really okay. My hospital induction, while not being something I would have ever wished for, wasn’t plan B. It was just the plan at that point. I don’t regret that for a second. And I don’t think it was second best. It was what we needed. And all in all, I am glad that the induction worked. It turns out, 7 hours of pitocin isn’t so horrible. It was enough time for my body to adjust. My labor unfolded as my labors usually unfold. I never did feel the need for pain medication or an epidural. The pitocin contractions felt the same to me as natural contractions. I should point out that low and slow on pitocin isn’t very common. So, I do understand that  my expectations of pitocin were likely based on people who had much more medication than I did. But if 8 units of Pitocin works, I’ll definitely take it over the body slam that some doctors give.

As for my liver, I couldn’t take meds after Pippin was born. I had Percocet right after he was born, and then Motrin several hours later, and it brought the itching back. So, I opted to not take anything. Instead, I used clary sage and lavender essential oil for the afterbirth pains. It did not make them go away, but it did take the edge off. And I figured I’d rather be cramping than itching like crazy trying to hold and nurse a baby. I’m still taking it easy on the diet, trying to give my liver a chance to heal, and it should be healed over the next several weeks. As to if this will recur, I don’t know. ICP has a very high recurrence rate. But it is usually genetic and mine isn’t. So, we don’t really know. It is possible this was all triggered by my getting rotovirus at 31/32 weeks pregnant. But we’re completely unsure about if it would recur or not.

For more information about ICP, check out this website.

Ransom Jonathan is Born

First, let me tell you that this is a birth story. So, by nature, it will be TMI. If you don’t like birth stories or just don’t care to hear mine, skip this post. I know I have some male readers who probably don’t care a lot about birth and that is fine. (Although, deep down, they may really care and be really interested and it is fine if they want to read this. I’m just saying you don’t have to, not that you are not allowed to.) Also, since it is my birth story and something very personal I’m not going to allow mean or negative comments. I’m fine with comments. I’m fine with questions. But I’ll be deleting any mean comments. My birth, my birth choices. I know they aren’t for everyone, but they are for me and I am happy with my choices.

Aidan’s Birth Story is Here.

Emery’s Birth Story is Here.

Not sure where Imogene’s is, but she was born, I assure you. (If I cannot find it, I may post it here some day, but not today. Today is about Ransom’s birth.)

A little background would probably be helpful. If you want more details, you can read the two stories above. In 2007, I had a c-section for a breech baby- that would be Aidan. That changed the course of my reproductive history. Little did I know when I signed that consent form, I’d be signing up for a battle to have my subsequent children. I didn’t know VBAC was such a huge deal. I did not know that pesky 4.5″ incision would so drastically limit my future birth choices. Not that I was happy about having a c-section, I was pissed about it. But I didn’t realize it would continue to suck years down the road. I thought it only mattered for that birth, but it matters for the rest of my reproductive years.

I jumped off the c-section train immediately. With Emery, I found ICAN and looked into my options, few as they were. I decided to try for a VBAC with Dr. Joseph Tate. Even with my uterine anomaly, I had a very uncomplicated and straight forward VBAC without complications. The only thing I would have changed about my first VBAC would have been my labor support.

With this pregnancy, I decided I wanted a doula. I wanted that extra labor support. The Pastor and I were blessed to find Jessique Brown.  We both “clicked” with her and hired her to be there for the birth of our fourth child. Of course, I stuck with Dr. Tate for my second VBAC. I know I had a few more options, already having one VBAC under my belt, so to speak, but really, when they wouldn’t allow me the chance to birth normally last time, why would I trust them now? Plus, we love Dr. Tate. (The Pastor might have boycotted the birth had I gone with a different provider!)

I had the dreaded prodromal labor for a couple weeks before the actual birth. I was a little more nervous about this since I knew there would be no Trebutaline to “rescue” me from early labor this time around. I was on my own with no drugs to keep baby in. I told everyone I knew to pray very specifically that the baby would stay put until AT LEAST 36 weeks. I wasn’t really shooting for more because 36 weeks seemed so impossible to me. I also asked the very wise ICAN ladies about natural ways to keep babies in. Their suggestion was to drink half a glass of wine and take a warm bath when the contractions kicked in. I didn’t think it would work. I was convinced it wouldn’t. But it worked! It worked as well as taking prn Trebutaline!

At 36 weeks, the contractions decided to kick it up a notch. I had days of contractions getting to 10 minutes apart for a few hours, then stopping. They’d pick back up to every 6 minutes then fizzle out again. Every day I would think, “This has got to be it!” only to have the contractions just stop.

At 36 weeks 5 days, the contractions were coming every 5 minutes. They still were not very strong, but they were picking up in length. The Pastor called his mom to come. (She was the designated care giver of the older 3 while we were in the hospital.) I decided to see if I could get some rest, since the contractions weren’t strong. (And I admit, I did a big no-no thing. I checked my own cervix. *Gasp!* It was still high, but was seeming to be effacing. However, I knew I was only dilated a couple centimeters. This gave me the confidence to know I didn’t need to rush into the hospital just yet. I still felt like I had some time before things really picked up.) When I laid down, the contractions spaced out to every 10 to 12 minutes apart. So, I rested. Well, I rested as much as a person can when they are in early labor.

The next morning, at 36 weeks 6 days, the contractions picked back up early in the morning to every 5 to 6 minutes apart. I decided to go ahead and go to the hospital. I was feeling like it could be it, but wasn’t sure. (I typically don’t have very painful labors until I get to transition. If I waited, as the books say you should, to feel that seriousness and that level of pain to go to the hospital, I would likely never make it in.) I figured I’d go in, they’d put me on the monitors and check me and let me know if it was looking like it’d be today or just more prodromal labor. I know Dr. Tate well enough to know he’d send me home if I wasn’t in active labor. (Not all doctors are like this, so many people have to be very careful about going in early in labor.) I let Que, my doula, know that we were going in and told her we’d call her if we needed her to come up there.

I got to the hospital and decided to take the stairs up to the maternity floor. Two elevators were down at the hospital and I wasn’t happy with the thought of everyone cramming into the one working elevator. Plus, I thought the extra exercise would be good, especially in early labor, to move things along. Well, turns out, they lock the stair access on the maternity floor. Something about abducting babies or something. So, I walked up to the next floor (4th floor), also restricted access. So, I walked all the way back down the stairs to the lobby to take the one working elevator up to the maternity floor. I got much more exercise than I bargained for on that one. Once I got there, I got checked in and finished my coffee. (The Pastor stopped at The Daily Grind and had them make me a Capitol Street Caramel. Yes, that is a Cups drink, but he has TDG make them for me every now and then.) They got me into a triage room and got me on the monitors and the nurse checked me. I was 3 cm but still pretty high and effaced somewhere around 30 – 40%. I decided to walk for an hour, check again and see if I was dilating more. Since 3cm wasn’t exactly definitive.

I walked the halls for an hour. (Luckily I wore my Toms this time instead of cheap flip flops.) I went back to be monitored for 15 more minutes and get checked again. This time, I was close to a 4, slightly lower, 50% effaced, and with a bulging bag. We decided to stay, since it seemed the contractions were heading in the right direction. I walked for another hour, then moved to my labor and delivery room. Tamarah was my L&D nurse and she was awesome. Without me even asking, she put me on intermittent monitoring and never once asked me to get in the bed to be monitored.

Que arrived at 1:30. I was still only feeling very moderate discomfort at this point. I walked around my room, squatted, sat on the birthing ball, and just hang out with The Pastor and my doula. I sipped on Vitamin water and regular water while hanging out.

At 3:00 pm Dr. Tate came in to check me. I was 5 cm and 50% effaced and -3. He stripped my membranes at this point. (Stripping your membranes hurts, just so you know.)

At 4:45 pm Dr. Tate came to check me again. (You can always refuse these checks, but I get them. Why do I get them? Well, my labors don’t hurt much for most of the labor, so the only way for me to know if I am making progress is to be checked. Most women will know their progressing by how they feel. I just don’t really get those “feelings.”) This time, I was 7cm dilated and 80% effaced. He said he would lean toward breaking my water at that point and asked what I thought about it. I told him I was actually okay with that. I knew I needed more pressure on my cervix to get the baby out. Breaking my water would put that extra pressure on my cervix. So, he got the hook and broke my water with the next contraction. Not very much water came out, though we knew there was plenty of fluid in there. I joked with him that he would get sprayed when the baby came out. He told me to call him if I heard the baby cry. A tech came in to set up the table for delivery, although I wasn’t feeling close to that yet.

At 5:50 pm, my contractions started getting painful. I started having to turn inward during contractions and relax and moan to get through the pain. I was able to relax my upper body entirely, but just couldn’t get my butt and hips to relax. (I was sitting fully upright on the bed at this time.) I told Que what I was feeling and she suggested I get on my knees on the bed and relax my upper body over the top of the bed. (The bed was shaped like a chair at the moment.) I turned around. Immediately, a lot of fluid came out and there was suddenly a lot more pressure. Que squeezed my hips through the next contraction, which helped so much. With that next contraction also came that urge to push. (And when that urge hits, there is nothing you can do but push.) I wasn’t exactly aware of it, but The Pastor ran out in the hall to find the nurse or Dr. Tate to let them know I was pushing.

Dr. Tate and a resident named Mark ran in. Dr. Tate asked if it was okay for Mark to be there. I told him I really didn’t care. Dr. Tate asked me if I was going to be delivering the baby in my current position and I informed him that I wasn’t moving. They did lower the head of the bed so I was on my hands and knees instead of upright on my knees. While I pushed, Que put cold rags on my neck because I was burning up. Dr. Tate, Mark, and Tamarah tried to figure out what position the baby was coming out it. I told them he was LOA, but I guess they needed to confirm for themselves. No one counted as I pushed, I just pushed. Dr. Tate did let me know when to push lightly or hard. The Pastor informed me of my progress as Ransom was coming out. (“I can see hair.” “I can see his ears.” “His head is out now.”)  I pushed for about 5 to 10 minutes, and then Ransom was born at 6:15 pm! He had the cord loosely wrapped around his neck, which isn’t unusual. I only add it to the story so you know it is a normal, not a big deal, kind of thing.

I rolled over onto my back, and they put Ransom on my chest. He looked so tiny! He turned out to be 2 oz. larger than Emery and my biggest baby yet at 6 lbs. 15 oz. The placenta was delivered (and shown to me) while they were getting Ransom all suctioned out. At 7:15 pm, I had another first. I got to breastfeed my newborn! I’ve never gotten to do that before because they were all early and whisked away before I could feed them. Ransom breastfed for about 20 minutes only an hour after he was born! (That is a really, really big deal to me. I’ve only gotten to hold 2 out of 4 of my babies within the first hour of their life. So breastfeeding was a huge deal!)

I fared pretty well with the birth. No tearing. No bruising. Not much bleeding.

I am also very happy about how the birth turned out. I had great support and had a great birth! My second VBAC was great!

In case you are wondering, here are the interventions I accepted: heplock, intermittent fetal monitoring before 7cm, continuous fetal monitoring after 7 cm, cervical checks, membrane sweep, and AROM. I also had counter pressure during the pushing stage.

Emery is Born!

P1010043Since this is my blog, I decided I’d share Emery’s birth story here. So, be forewarned, this is a Mom’s story of labor and birth. If you aren’t a fan of such things, you should probably stop reading now and go to The Pastor’s blog for his manly take on the event!

P1010004Saturday morning, about 10 am, I started feeling some back pain. I had been having contractions on and off for quite a while (weeks) but they were nothing serious. By the time the Pastor returned home from doing a funeral, it was close to lunch time. My back was hurting and I could tell my contractions were becoming more often. I decided to take a shower, hoping that would stall the “false” contractions.

We took the kids to lunch and had a nice time together. I began to realize that my contractions were getting closer together, but didn’t think too much about it. It wasn’t until I couldn’t finish my taco salad that I thought something might really be going on. We timed my contractions on the way home. They were 8 to 10 minutes apart.

At home, I tried to rest and think of anything else. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that my contractions were not stopping. Once they got to 6 to 8 minutes apart, I called my doctor. (He had sternly warned me to call AS SOON as I got to 6 to 8 minutes apart or when my water broke. No excuses!) He told me to get right to the hospital, since my delivery with Imogene was so quick (4 hours start to finish). He even gave me very specific instructions on what to do if I began to transition in the car or before I got to the hospital. I really didn’t think he needed to worry about that, but told him I’d call him if things got crazy.

We made the necessary calls for childcare for the older two. The Pastor rushed around, finishing the things I’d been telling him to do for weeks. (He really is such a procrastinator.)

I arrived at the hospital having contractions 3 to 5 minutes apart. I was hopeful that I would be having the baby soon! What a shock to find out I was only 3 cm dilated and 30 percent effaced! Emery was still at -3. So, I was sent to walk for an hour. I walked and walked! The pastor complained that I was killing his old knees, but I told him to suck it up. I went back to my room to be checked again. I was hoping to be halfway there. No such luck. Only 1 more cm dilated and now at 40 percent effaced. Emery had moved down to -2. Ugh! My doctor stripped my membranes, which was extremely painful. I was hoping it would help. I was sent to walk for another hour. So, another long hour of brisk walking the halls and chatting with the pastor. I hoped to certainly be further along! Nope. So, I walked for another 30 minutes, then had to be monitored for a few minutes. Then another 30 minutes of walking followed by a few more minutes of monitoring. (Yes, I walked THAT much!) My contractions continued around 3 to 5 minutes apart.

Finally at 2 am I was 6 cm and the doctor asked if he could break my water. He could feel the bag buldging when he checked me and hoped that breaking my water would put Emery further down. I was expecting the rupture of my membranes to hurt, but it didn’t.

From 2 am to 4 am, the Pastor took a little cat nap and I stayed on my leash (hospital policy said I had to be on continuos monitoring throughout my labor because of my previous c-section) near the bed, standing and swaying- doing all I could to convince the boy to move down! At 4 am, I was still 6 (maybe 7) cm and still only about 60 percent effaced and Emery was still at -2! So, after a talk with Dr. Tate, I told the nurse I was refusing continuos monitoring and I went for another walk. It was a much more difficult walk. I was having to stop every 2 minutes for painful contractions. After 30 minutes of walking, I returned to the room for more monitoring.

It was a few minutes after 4 in the morning.Emery began acting up a bit at this point. His heart rate started going up with each contraction and it became evident that he needed to get out quick. The problem? I was still only 7 cm dilated, 60 percent effaced, and -2 station. There wasn’t enough time to get me on pitocin (it would take at least 30 minutes to obtain before they could even begin administering it. My doctor didn’t want to have to do a c-section if there could be another option, but Emery had to get out of there soon! So, my doctor had me push through a contraction to see what my cervix would do while pushing. It dilated more while pushing, almost completely effaced, and put Emery at 0 station. So, he had me push through each contraction as he manually helped dilate my cervix and get it out of the way. Let me tell you, this was incredibly uncomfortable, but extremely efficient. To be honest, I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think it was doing anything. (I couldn’t see what was happening and I knew it didn’t FEEL like I was completely dilated yet.) I started feeling like it was a helpless situation, despite the coaching to keep going. I didn’t know what kind of progress I was making, or couldn’t comprehend if I was told what progress was coming. At some point during this, Emery had to rotate. He turned during one contraction of pushing and I did hear the students comment at being able to see him turn. It still didn’t occur to me that they could physically see him at this point.  At a seemingly random point, the doctor announced that I was complete. He really didn’t have to announce it because I immediately knew. I think I really got whiney at that point. (It was at that point with Imogene that I got whiney, too.) I kept pushing. What else can you do at that point? I heard someone tell me he had hair. I kept pushing. It still didn’t occur to me his head was, at that point, coming out. I knew he was crowning, I could tell from the burning sensation, but I didn’t know how it was coming along. I just kept pushing. It was all so confusing at that point. I was being told multiple things all at once. Push. Don’t push. Pant. Push easy. Push. I asked what to do. I was told to wait and not push. I asked what they were doing down there. I was very shocked when they said they were suctioning his nose out. His nose was out? His head was out? Are you kidding me?! Then, his shoulders had to come out. So, I don’t remember shoulders being so difficult to push out. I kind of remember Imogene just slipping out as soon as her head was out. Emery had to be pushed out at every point. He was finally out! I couldn’t see him due to my angle. I couldn’t contort my body enough to see what was going on down there. I asked why I didn’t hear crying. They told me not to worry. The Pastor was telling me I did great, he looks great, don’t worry. I was still freaking out a bit when I finally heard a small cry!

P1010012_1The Pastor cut the cord. He really was very happy about this. With our previous babies, he had made a little “pretend” cut. (They cut the cord, then let him recut it later for ceremony.) He was excited to actually make the real cut.

P1010015Emery was then placed on my tummy while they cover him with warm blankets. He was so little. To be completely honest, the first thing I did was to check and make sure it was a little boy. He just didn’t look boyish. But he is, indeed, a boy!

P1010018Emery was taken to a little baby table next to my bed to get checked out and get his vitamin K shot. (I refused the eye ointment with him.) And I delivered the placenta. Now, I also don’t remember that being painful before, but it was a little bit more painful than I remember it being. The Pastor actually looked at the placenta this time after there being so much discussion about placentas. He wasn’t really impressed. P1010020

Emery’s apgars were 6 and 8. While they were checking him and he was administering his own oxygen, they checked me out. No tearing! That really surprised me. Emery is my biggest baby so far and I had no tearing despite his quick arrival.

P1010025Emery weighed in at 6 lbs. 13 oz. He was 19.25″ long. He is a very handsome little man! So, I had a successful VBAC. (Perhaps I should write my previous OB and let her know I didn’t explode and die.) I feel great. Emery is having some breathing issues and is in the NICU. We are hoping and praying he will be out of the NICU soon. Pray with us. All in all, it was a great birth experience. Despite the discomforts. Despite the difficulties. It was great!