A Birth Story: Meet Logan.

I love reading stories of labour & delivery. Here’s Logan’s, our fourth baby. You can read about our 3rd baby’s water birth in England here.


Pregnancy: I Finally Got a Plan

When I moved from the UK to the US during my second trimester of pregnancy, I was totally lost about what kind of birth experience I wanted. We opted for a traditional US approach and went with OB led care.  There were no practical options for midwives- they were already committed to their maximum number of patients for July.

Through readers on the blog, I found two hospitals in the Dallas Fort Worth area that offer nitrous oxide, my first preference for pain management. Both were 45 minutes from our house, and we decided proximity and practicality trumped gas and air.  My friend recommended a doctor 10 minutes from home, and I went with her.

My doctor is very traditional. I had trouble readjusting from the UK model- where birth is a natural and beautiful process not to be interfered with unless absolutely essential. I am a huge advocate for merging the art and science of birth. There are so many labs and checks and sonograms in the US by comparrison. You can read more of my thoughts on the differences between the two models here. 

Baby is Breech

At 36 weeks, the ultrasound revealed baby was in the 4% of babies who are breech. Unless I was willing to try an external cephalic version (ECV) or he flipped in the next week, my doctor said I would need a c-section. An ECV is a procedure involving two obstetricians physically rotating baby in a procedure at the hospital.  An epidural is placed for pain management, and also in case baby or Mom become distressed. In that instance, the version escalates to an emergency c-section.

I cried. Also that week, my toddler hurt her leg. The x-ray came back negative for a fracture, but she wasn’t tolerating any weight bearing. She needed me to carry her everywhere. I couldn’t imagine the recovery from a C-section. I was already exhausted and wasn’t sure if my toddler needed serious intervention or just time and rest.

Flipping Baby

The external cephalic version has a high success rate, but it is expensive and isn’t without risk. I researched less invasive options- chiropractic care, hypnosis, acupuncture, and a website devoted to positioning techniques to entice baby to flip.

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I got busy. I found a chiropractor who specialises in the Webster technique. I nicknamed him “Dr. Fip.” He touts a 70% success rate. His magical remedies involve chiropractic pelvic adjustments multiple times per week combined with physical therapy and home exercise.  Essentially at every available moment, I was somehow lunging or hanging upside down. I spent a week doing headstands, hanging off the couch, lying backwards down slides at the park and doing handstands at the community pool.

The neighbourhood kids applauded these handstands while their parents gave me the side eye. I’m sure it was a sight to see with my cankles up in the air. I must admit, my handstand is pretty darn good- especially considering the circumstances. Years of gymnastics came in handy.

I was relieved when my 37 week ultrasound revealed he was head down, and at 38 weeks, he had stayed down. I was 3.5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. My doctor suspected I wouldn’t make it to my due date.

What specifically made the baby flip? I have no idea, but James swears it was his summoning, “Come down here little guy!”

My Birth Plan A

I told my doctor my preference to labour at home and come in at the very last minute for her to catch the baby. She was hesitant, much preferring an induction. I gave my reasons- if I was going to be going drug free, I wanted to have maximum freedom to labour in the comfort of my home, eat and drink, and stay calm. My doctor was worried she would miss the whole shebang. She reminded me how likely I was to have a fast delivery.

My plan had to change when labs revealed I was GBS+. Group B Strep is harmless to mothers, but can be very dangerous for baby. It has a meningitis like presentation. Two doses of IV antibiotics are administered four hours apart during labour to minimise risk of transmission. I was disappointed, but stayed optimistic. I took a class on labour and delivery at the hospital to have a better expectation of the US non-medicated birth experience, and found out that as I expected, the hospital didn’t have much insight or passion for the natural birth process, but I enjoyed the class. Our bodies are incredible.

Thankfully, my toddler had started using her leg again.

The BIG Day

The morning after my 38 week appointment, the kids and I went to the lake. I didn’t recognise it as labour. It didn’t feel like labour. My back just hurt. I huddled in quadruped in the sand and murky water and watched the kids build sand castles. I suspected something was different because as adamant as I had been about natural labour, at that moment, I was fantasising about a c-section.

I just wanted the baby out of my body.

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When the back pain didn’t stop at 4:30 pm, I finally called the doctor. “Back labour” she suggested. “Come to labour and delivery.”

I was annoyed. The last thing I wanted to do was to sound the alarms, arrange grandparents, pack the bags and get to the hospital only to be sent back, sans baby. I begged for an office evaluation instead, but both my doctor and her partner were already at the hospital. I’m only 38.1 weeks, I kept telling myself. I can’t be in labour, plus there wasn’t any detectable pattern of contractions. It just hurt constantly. As the back pain grew stronger, I finally relented. My baby needed 2 dosages of antibiotics four hours apart, so if my doctor was right and this was labour, I needed to be admitted.

At the Hospital

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My mom drove my husband and I to the hospital. I stayed outside in the parking lot stepping on the curb with one foot and off the curb with the other, trying to get baby boy to rotate and relieve my back pain. Passersby wished me luck. I nodded. I’m sure I looked drunk walking on that curb. I kept telling my mom and husband, as soon as I go in there, I can’t eat, drink or leave. I wanted to make sure I was ready for “hospital prison” as I call it. You give up control when you are a patient. I refused the hospital gown. “I’m not sick,” I remarked. I wished I was in a birthing centre with a pool and gas and air, but I was thankful to see my doctor.

Plan B. Back Labour

My plan was no medical interventions, but back labour is something else. Essentially baby’s faces the front instead of the back, creating significant pressure from his skull on your pelvis. They gave me some IV pain meds which made me crazy- telling all kinds of stories and feeling very drunk. I dilated from a 3.5 to a 5 in one hour.

My doctor asked if she could break my water. Did I want a fast and furious or slow and drawn out labour? I picked the faster option- I couldn’t tolerate the back pain much longer. When my water broke, the contractions went full force ahead coming every two minutes just as the high from the drugs subsided. Baby repositioned and the back pain lessened.

We all laughed in the breaks between contractions. I danced through each contraction while eating popsicles.  I tried to convince the security guard that the nurses told me he was going to deliver the baby, and whistled to keep my breathing steady. When the contractions got really bad especially in my back, I crawled down the hospital corridor to the horror of my sweet nurse who kept trying to get me back on my feet. This was effective though. It helped rotate baby.

The nurse estimated only 1% of patients do a natural delivery in this hospital. They aren’t really prepared or set up for labouring mothers without drugs. I could tell my nurse didn’t have much experience with a patient in my kind of pain, but we had fun.

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Begging for an Epidural

I crawled into the shower. I thought I was going to bust open at the seams, so I started begging for an epidural. I didn’t want my breathing to get out of sync, so I just sang my request. “Doctor, they told me I could change my mind!” and “SOMEONE get me the anestesiologist now.” I joked with my doctor. She tried to convince me that the epidural and an induction would make for a much smoother ride, and I was pretty adamant for the last month that I wanted a beautiful natural labour. 

This didn’t feel beautiful or natural at all.

“You are just trying to punish me for all the grief I gave you about this natural labour, aren’t you?” I asked her. She told me I would be disappointed, and didn’t call for the anaesthesiologist. She affirmed me. “You can do this.”

Then she went and took a nap.

I didn’t count on the back pain. Contractions are brutal, but with the back labour which came back (no pun intended), there wasn’t a break in between to regroup.

Pushing + Delivery

The contractions kept going. My mom prayed. My husband prayed. I sang and sang and sang. Mostly to Jesus- songs of hope, songs of power, songs of claiming our dependance upon God. I sang LOUDLY. I mean soooo LOUDLY.

James says everyone thought I was a good singer. That makes me laugh. What else are they going to say?

I wonder what the other mamas down the hall thought as they tried to rest. I think I made them really glad they had an epidural, and I bet they wished I had one too.

They gave me something in an IV for pain. It might as well have been saline. I put an eye mask over my face and just pushed down when I felt pressure. I told the nurse to grab the doctor and quick.

I pushed as I sang and baby was out. A voice in the room called out, “11:26 pm.” We had arrived at the hospital at around 5:45 pm, so although it was agony, it didn’t last long.

I had my eye mask on, but I could see the whole thing happening. I could see the ring of fire, the baby crowning, the head being delivered, the shoulders, the purple colour of my baby. I saw it all.

That night, I kept wondering if what I visualised was just a memory from a video I saw in class or on YouTube, but the angle I saw it at would have been impossible to record. Is this a thing mothers experience?

I didn’t know my mom recorded the delivery.  When I watched the video, I had already seen the birth happen (in my mind), but this was an entirely new perspective. Other than the angle, it matched my visualisation in my head 100%.  Isn’t that strange/weird/amazing/odd/powerful?

I would be so interested to hear from anyone else with this experience.

Delivering the Placenta

When he came out, I couldn’t even look. It felt like glass had exploded between my legs. The baby didn’t cry right away.  To make it worse, my placenta wasn’t delivering and minutes were ticking by. I heard them shout out the baby’s weight, 7 lbs 12 oz. I asked nervously what the Apgar score was. 7/10. That didn’t surprise me. I could tell from his colour (in my mind’s eye) and the weaker cry.  I was thankful it wasn’t less.

It was agony as the doctor tried to massage the placenta from my uterine wall. I begged her to stop. I pleaded for her to let James do it instead. I cried for pain meds. I made James promise to buy me a boat for a push gift. He promised me one, then added, “from Toys ‘R Us.”

I’m still waiting for it.

I feel like I started to really panic. In my head, I was losing it. From the video, I was a lot calmer externally than I was on the inside- I just kept asking the doctor to pull the glass or the needles out. She promised she wasn’t even touching me.

The atmosphere started to shift a bit. The doctor told me pretty sternly, “You have ten minutes left to deliver this placenta, otherwise you are going to surgery.” She pushed and tugged on my stomach and it felt like murder. She told me I had to relax. She mentioned bleeding to death for the second time. I squeezed the hand of the nurse on the left and James on the right and relaxed so the doctor could push. My baby started crying stronger. It felt like an hour. Eventually, the placenta came out and everyone breathed again.

Love at First Sight

I reached up, still with my eye mask on to touch my baby being held by James. I slowly took my mask off and greeted my little bundle of absolute perfection. He looked just like his brother and sister.

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I’ve said this with all four of our children. It’s like they have always been here. I can’t remember what life was like before Logan. He has grown my heart a million sizes already. Welcome to our family, little person. We do adventure here, and you are loved.

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SUMMER!! / (bummer)

We have had an exciting last few weeks of school- Field Day, end of school parties, awards assemblies, and less homework. I’ve been counting down the days, and today we made it!  We got a bit excited and didn’t set an alarm last night. Thankfully, it was pyjama day, and luckily, Scarlett woke up 12 minutes before we needed to be out the door, so we still made it on time.  Zero tardies for this year. Celebrate!

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Field Day, 2017

Today was perfect. I was so happy all day that Scarlett gets to be home during her good hours. I hate how school gets her best. I get the sluggish mornings and the tired evenings.  So when I picked her up today, I felt like Olaf in the carpool line. I rolled down the windows and started shouting excitedly,

“We are driving to SUMMER! SUMMER here we come!”

Remember that feeling of the last day of school? I felt it rush back to me just like when I was 10. I’m footloose and fancy free.  I can stop the treadmill of packing lunches, homework, and carpool lines. I congratulated myself on transitioning Scarlett from English to American schools, moving houses, and making it to the finish line of first grade.

Wahoo, Summer! More lazy days by the pool.

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We got home, and all three kids played absolutely beautifully together upstairs while I cooked for our first dinner guests at our new house. My kids made blanket castles upstairs, breaking out in roars of laughter. I felt the warm glow of nostalgia remembering my three brothers as a child.  I smiled. THIS is what being a kid is all about. But reality came crashing down. It sounded like glass shattering.

Because it was.

Meredith dropped my cup of ice water all over the floor. Meanwhile Evan and Scarlett started having an altercation over Evan smelling her smelly marker. After sorting that out, Evan tripped down the stairs, landing head first saved by his wrists. Please don’t let that be distal radius fracture, I prayed. But first, I have to shush him up as quickly as I can so my husband’s conference call stays professional.  Keeping the home office a good working environment is a juggling act I’m pretty good at with two kids. Next month, I’m going to have FOUR  kids at home arguing, playing, getting hurt and breaking things. I just picture myself as homegirl from the BBC. Oh my.

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Fifteen minutes later, Evan’s recovered,  the kitchen floor was swept and mopped, the marker is returned safely to it’s secret location. They are back happily playing. Ahh- summer bliss again. Evan’s scream interrupts my solitutde.

“SHE DRANK THE SOAP! MEREDITH DRANK THE SOAP!”

I look at the packaging: If swallowed, seek medical attention immediately. Pulling out my phone to call poison control, I seek council from my most reliable, trusted advisor first. Trying to remain calm, I ask nervously, “How many days until August 21st?”

Siri answered back, “It is eighty days until August 21st.”

80 days until school starts again.

Oh Summer.

Wish me luck, friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Day

Two years ago, I overheard my husband James & 2.5 year old son talking:

James: Tomorrow we are going to move house. Will you help me?
Evan: Yes, daddy. I will push really hard!

Today I will be unlocking the door to our new house- our seventh home in eight years.  I imagined myself as an old lady with grandchildren in the last two houses we bought. I remember why now.  After you move, you swear you will never do it again.

I also said that about pregnancy and childbirth.

Oops.

Love People, Use Stuff.

It is overwhelming (in a good way) to see the material things I released come back to me once again.  It’s that puddle and splash park thing. I have been reminded over and over through this process that it is the immaterial that has value- and that reward is wrapped in risk, and fulfilment cloaked in faith.  I’ve also learned that you do, on a very practical level, need stuff.

My friend Dani has a note posted in her kitchen that comes to mind as my head is full of housewares and furniture shopping. It reads-

Don’t love stuff or use people.

Love people and use stuff.

Relationships trump possessions. It isn’t the stuff I left in England that I miss. It’s the people. The houses might be gone, but the friendships I found in those neighbourhoods have come with me. That being said, you need stuff to take care of the people you love.

Stuff Blessings

After a rough week with her, I prayed and asked God for extra grace to give my seven year old daughter.  The move has been draining on her. When we got rid of all of her toys apart from a few stuffed animals, she compiled a list of the things she wanted most after we repatriated.

One hour after my prayer, I had a van full of her toy requests: model ponies and animals, Barbie accessories and a house, and build-a-bear clothes I picked up at a garage sale. Everything EXACTLY as she had requested- and for less than $50. Driving home that day with tears in my eyes, God gave me the tools to bless her. If you want to show love to a mother, love her kids.  That day, God loved me by loving my daughter well. He heard my prayer- and before he gave me the stuff, he extended grace and compassion to me so I could pass it to her.  That redemptive side of faith often gets missed when churchy people talk about God. He sends little (and big) messages that whisper “PS. I love you-” now love the person next to you.

My first friend in our new neighbourhood is actually selling her house right now. She called today and said she has a van load of things for Meredith and the new baby. She named items I need that I hadn’t thought of yet- and many things, I don’t need, but are really nice to have like bath toys. The timing is so perfect for both of us.

I showed up for the walk-through of the new house today expecting to be there for ten minutes. Two hours later, the real estate agent and I had sorted through endless amounts of dishes and housewares and furniture that the previous owner can’t move with her. When I sold my wedding china, I didn’t picture getting to replace different pieces with a pensioner’s tableware for free.  I still haven’t picked out a toilet brush cleaner and I don’t own a trash can, but I am the proud owner of a crystal toothpick holder- lol! The coolest part was there wasn’t a single item this lady had in her donate pile that I had already bought.

When we paired down our stuff to 7 suitcases, there were a few odd items that really bothered me to part with. It’s a weird list- the safe, the filing cabinet, flower vases, a grocery bag holder, assorted wrapping paper and gift wrap materials- I know it’s a weird list, but who wants to buy that stuff again? Today, they were left at my new house for me from the previous owner. And her safe is much better than my old one. She can’t move it because it is bolted to the floor. That makes me chuckle. I guess someone could have just carried off my old safe. I hadn’t thought of that.

Now, if the baby bump would stop giving me gas pain and heartburn, I could get some shut eye. I actually have things to unpack. Wahoo!

Kids say . . .

At the paediatrician this week, my four year old Evan was anxious about getting his ears checked.  Trying to escape the otoscope, he put his head on my chest, and grabbed my shirt, pulling it down.

His eyes widened. He gasped and pointed, “Mom, why do you have a butt on your front?!” 

Thanks to baby #4, I actually have cleavage. I’m giggling to myself, and I’m also embarrassed. The nurse practitioner watches my reaction. She’s smirking.

“Evan, please don’t pull my shirt down,” I advise. “It’s private.”

He scrunches his nose, “Is that because it is your butt?”

He’s genuinely inquiring.

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On the way home, he tells me about his Walmart trip. He’s laughing, “Mom there was a totally naked lady at Walmart last night. It was so weird.” He continues, “Dad thought it was so funny.”

I mean it is Walmart. There is a whole website devoted to strange and unusual people who shop there. Turns out, according to dad, she was just barefoot.

He also scolded the waiter at lunch the other day when he replied to my question with the standard southern, “Yes Mam.”

Evan told him off. “She is a lady, not a boy.”

MAM, kiddo. Not man.

We also had an expat moment trying to get lunch. I ordered french fries, but Evan kept whining saying he wanted chips with his cheeseburger. I promised him they were on the way. The waiter kept repeating my order and implying they don’t have chips on the menu.  England and America: two countries divided by a common language. And then we confuse the matter by calling it French fries, lol.

So if you see my kid, and he tells you about naked people at the grocery store or my front bum cheeks, or anything else unusual– things are a bit in transit, but we aren’t quite as weird as Evan makes us out to be.

Surprisingly, his ears checked out fine.  Next stop? The eye doctor.

 

 

 

 

Empty House/Full Life.

I saw the OBGYN today, and although I didn’t get to see baby’s face very clearly, I definitely saw something else . . .

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We are very excited. Scarlett is desperate to name the baby Lloyd and Evan is adamant that the baby should be called Beautiful.  I can’t really think about baby names because I have so much to do and only 12 weeks until he arrives.

Guns & Football

Things are going well.  I’m tired of spending 2-3 hours in the car everyday on the school run and errands, but so thankful Scarlett’s school is amazing. Meeting her teachers and seeing her classroom was awesome, but meeting the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and trying on the Police bullet proof vest made Open House very memorable.

That is Texas for you. Guns and football. I have no idea how the two are related to open house, but I enjoyed meeting the High School dance team members who helped out at the event.  I got every single one of their phone numbers for babysitting.

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Luckily, the commute is only for two more weeks.

*Panic! I have just over 2 weeks until we move into a very empty house.

So far, I have 3 mini cutting boards, plates, bowls, mugs, glasses, pots and pans, a king sized mattress, a kettle, a coffee pot, a crib, the kids bedding, one pillow, a can opener, a pizza wheel, tongs, a dish scrubber, and a whisk.

I’m stuck. I’m on decision making overload. If you know me, I like to shop for a deal and only have stuff in the house I love, but time is ticking.

15 days left.

If I could find bedding, I would know what towels and sheets, and artwork and bed frame and dresser, etc. But I can’t find that piece of inspiration, so I am just stuck waddling through stores with my huge baby bump and three kids in tow-  which might actually be why I can’t find stuff?

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Spare Socks.

I took the kids to the mall after school to do some shopping.  James did the school run while I was at the OBGYN. He met me at the mall and gave me the kids while he went back to work.  We hadn’t planned on this, and he didn’t realise Evan only had one sock on and no shoes. 

I found a random sock in my handbag (#thisismotherhood) and put him in the pram. He needed new shoes anyway, so we went and bought some. I couldn’t believe I showed up to the shoe stores with his mix-matched socks and no shoes.

At least I didn’t need to tell them what I came into the store for.

I just pointed.

Then at dinner, in keeping with the theme, Meredith poured chocolate milk all over her. Of course, I had no spare clothes with me. Apparently, I only keep spare socks. Scarlett desperately needs shoes, so little sister went shirtless into Nordstrom- looking very white trash.

At least Evan had shoes by this point.

I planned on buying Meredith an outfit, but ironically, I couldn’t decide on one. We celebrated when we found shoes that fit my wide-foot eldest daughter- which is almost impossible to find. In FOUR hours,  I bought 2 pairs of shoes and got cutting boards.

I didn’t get the cutlery, bed linens, towels, or storage dishes I had as my targets for the day. But, Overall? It was a success. We laughed so hard at Meredith’s chubby belly hanging out and Evan in one girl sock and Scarlett cramming her foot into tiny shoes like Cinderella’s stepsisters.

We will probably be borrowing some folding chairs until I can commit to something more permanent- and an air mattress- and spare sheets, towels, and a toilet brush cleaner.

I’m only partially kidding.

I spent about thirty minutes looking at toilet brushes. How many do I need? What material- stainless steel,  glass or plastic? Budget or high-end? One has a plunger attached. Do we need a plunger? Do I get one for every toilet or just one? Should they all be the same? Oh cute. A matching soap dispenser. What soap dispenser do I want?

You see? It’s nuts-

Empty House. Full Life.

A huge shoutout to our dear friends, Allison & Steven, who kept all 3 of our kids plus their 3 overnight so we could get some of this stuff done. A man commented that James and I looked so in love on our evening sans little people.

We are in love.  I can’t decide on a toilet brush holder, furniture, linens, or a name for the baby, but I have decided that I love the man I married and the kids we made together.

So who cares if our house is empty?

And as long as I don’t own a toilet brush, I can’t clean it.

#winning

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