Fletcher’s Birth Story

There were at least a dozen times when I would lay my head on my pillow at night and think for sure that I was going to wake up in labour. My body was ready.
Emotional turmoil?  Check!
Mucous plug?  Lost.
Braxton Hicks contractions?  Check.
Extremely painful round ligament pain. Oh dear me, yes.
Every day would pass and I would think “I still feel great I want to have this baby feeling great instead of descending into the pits of get-this-baby-outta-me despair. But. I descended. I was emotional and would cry at nothing. I was tired. I wanted to have the baby and yet I was feeling nervous about four kids. There were many things that lay on the agenda that I didn’t want to miss.
They all passed and I was still pregnant.  I didn’t miss them. Canada Day came and went. I managed eight hours working in the heat and watched the fireworks from our back yard. No baby. No labour.  The next weeks on the calendar were blank. Nothing scheduled because we couldn’t plan without a baby. We didn’t know what we would be able to do. We weren’t sure when the time would come. We didn’t know how I’d feel.  Weeks of blank… I didn’t like it and, in my emotional state, tried to settle myself to be okay with relaxing at home and just resting. It was tough.
July 2nd I woke very early in the morning feeling a gush of wet between my legs.  I was startled!  Did my water break?  As I moved to the washroom I realized that I had simply peed. Ha!  I also realized that I had a very tight tummy and then it tightened again very soon after the first sensation. It felt like the same non-productive-tightening that I had felt those dozen other times. I decided to try and help spur them on. I washed the floor on my hands and knees. If nothing else, my kitchen floor would be cleaner than it had been in ages!  The contractions continued at regular intervals but not feeling significant enough to bring a baby. They would be regular for a bit then stop. Then regular. Then stop.
I made myself a pot of quadruple-strength raspberry leaf tea and got the kids ready for their first swimming lessons. Hunter and I walked down the road to his lesson talking about his fears and insecurities with swimming. We arrived and I say and watched his lesson. Contractions the whole time… still not getting harder. Still not painful.
We went home and the boys all got buzz cuts. It was so hot! The afternoon went on and I kept having contractions on and off. They still weren’t any harder but they were consistent enough that I was tracking them on my labour app. I wandered around the house, impatient and antsy.  I thought a change of scenery would be good so we headed out to run a few errands. I was paranoid that we were not close enough to home in case things got serious so we headed back. I stayed on my hands and knees; reading, pinning, texting and playing on my phone.  I texted Heather at about 3 and told her that she could come and hang out with me after work and maybe we would have a baby sometime in the night. I updated my support crew on my frustrations. I had said that I wanted a longer delivery so that I could embrace it. I confessed that I had lied. At this point I just wanted it over. I wasn’t paying enough attention to the kids and Justin was working in the yard so I called my parents to see if they could come and take the kids to their house. The plan was that they would be with them to give me some rest and to let Justin pay closer attention to me.
Heather arrived at around 4:30 and Justin came in when the kids left.  While the kids were leaving, things started to get a little harder. I had to breathe through the contractions and brace myself against the couch or wall; my legs and back were aching. I was texting with Elaine, my midwife, checking in with her. I just wanted to get checked because I felt so frustrated at the non-progress I was experiencing. I told Elaine to just relax and have dinner with her family, then swing by once she had eaten; I wasn’t in pain and I just wanted to have a little peace of mind.
Over the next hour I experienced many more contractions, coming harder and stronger, and so Elaine suggested I ask Heather and Justin to fill the pool to try that for pain relief as my back and legs were aching and I thought that I was having back labour and suspected a posteriorly positioned baby.  I was still feeling confident and strong through the contractions but I was also excited about trying out the pool.  When Elaine arrived at 5:45pm she showed Justin how to compress my hips to take some of the pressure off. I had a few contractions where she or Justin would press on my hips and Heather would rub my back or put a hand on my neck.  I felt so lucky to have them there. The pool was almost ready and I had my internal exam. “6-7cm and easily stretching to 10!”  Elaine said we were going to have the baby soon so she called the second midwife, Julia, and called the hospital to report a delivery in progress. I climbed into the tub. The pain of the contractions, which wasn’t unbearable but definitely made me feel like the baby was going to be born within the next day, were almost unnoticeable in the tub. The warm water felt so soothing. The pressure over my whole body felt great. I knelt in the tub and continued to labour and breathe through the contractions. It was very reassuring to have Elaine and Julia there and to be in the pool. I knew that I wouldn’t have opted to go to the hospital yet but I was glad to have the care. They would check the baby’s heart rate with the Doppler very frequently and sometimes it was quite uncomfortable. Elaine told me that if she was concerned about something she would say “Elizabeth I am concerned about this because of this.”  They always asked before doing any checks or  making any contact.
As time went by I began to brace against the sides of the tub and then noticed that the water was feeling cooler. Justin and Heather drained the tub a little through the window in the living room and then refilled it with warmer water.
At one point, after I had been in the pool for about 45 minutes, we were discussing my progress (it felt very slow to me) and how my water had been broken with Sawyer and Susannah’s births to progress my labour to the next stage- pushing. While I was just talking about it and reflecting on what I might want to do to help things move forward, my water broke. I looked down and saw the rush of vernix in my amniotic fluid entering the water of the pool.  So exciting to have it break without intervention!  At that point I felt tired and said a number of times that I didn’t want to have to do what was coming next. I didn’t want the work of pushing. I just wished the baby could fall out.  My support team was very encouraging. They were all positive and have me kind and motivating words.  I waited through more contractions for the urge to push.  I remember feeling the contractions and, when they got harder, saying “oh!  That was a good one.”  So incredible to feel my body propelling the child within, out into the world.
When I first felt it, I was almost unsure that that was it.  But as the contraction continued I knew there was no doubt. I moved around in the pool trying to find a position where I felt strong and confident to push. I had only delivered babies on my back in a bed with my legs held up for me to push against so it was interesting to have no guidance of what to do. I had wanted to just let it happen and to experience my body’s ability to deliver a baby. I had imagined that I would lean up against the pool and have Justin support me while I caught the baby. I found that I couldn’t do that as any pressure on my back felt very uncomfortable.  As I continued to push I tried vocalizing through some contractions and that felt really good to yell and grunt. I got really hot and so was brought a cool cloth for my head and back. I would reach my hand down onto my vulva to provide some counter pressure and to feel what was happening.  It was amazing to feel myself softening and to feel things opening up.  I felt like an animal about to give birth (truth!) as I moved around to find the right position of comfort and strength.  I tried a number of different positions and wound up finding that I wasn’t able to hold my legs or stay on my back or sit but that I felt best when I was pushing down into the ground. As such, I went onto my haunches with my head against Justin’s shoulder or on my hands and knees in the pool. I love the support of Justin in childbirth. I am so lucky to have such a confident and tender partner. He would share happy memories with me and help me to focus on other things as I was in the deepest pain moments. He helped me to find comfort in the zone. After what felt like forever, and a number of contractions where I would cry through them that I wasn’t strong enough and couldn’t do it, Justin suggested that he count for me to give me a timeline or a goal for the push. That helped a lot. I could feel the baby coming down and my back and legs were aching. The contractions were incredibly hard and painful and I knew they were good ones.   I was growing very tired of pushing and was frustrated. I would yell loudly through the contractions. Elaine suggested that I just rest through the contractions and just let my body push without my additional output of effort. I couldn’t. I felt like such an animal!  In my position of rest, I grunted and moved around in the pool to get back to my comfortable position from which to push. As I pushed I could feel the baby moving lower and my body widening.  I was excited that it felt like it was close, yet when Elaine felt to see my progress and I checked with her, it felt like there was still so far to go.  I had a few more contractions with hard pushes then one where I felt nothing at all!  I wasn’t sure what happened but I rested. The next set of contractions came hard and were stacked. Justin encouraged me to push three times hard to the count of ten. I felt the baby dropping in and crowning. Elaine reached down to check and guide me with encouragement through what was happening.  I reached down to feel the head. In the next stack of contractions I felt his head push through followed by the shoulders and one arm.  I put both hands down to guide the baby’s body out as I pushed the final exit and pulled him up onto my chest.
Wow!  Born!  I was no longer pregnant. 7:55pm on Tuesday, July 2nd. We had another son.  I held him against me and marveled at all the vernix on his body. I hadn’t seen any of our babies looking quite so “cheesy”!  Justin and I peeked to see that he was indeed a boy and we stared at him, admiring him. What a lovely little guy. We got a towel for him and wiped off some of the vernix.  Julia gave me a shot in my leg to help my third stage (placenta).  I wanted to let him crawl onto my breast to nurse right away but found that I was very uncomfortable with the height of the water and his face at my breast.  Also, I wanted to deliver the placenta out of the pool so I got out of the pool onto the bed. I was astonished at how clean the water was!!  There was hardly any blood at all and there was very little mess in the pool. Elaine had caught any small bits of poop and put them out of the pool. On the bed, the baby was handed back to me and I delivered the placenta through a few pushes. It was actually more painful than the birth!  Not because the contractions were any worse, I don’t think, but because my hormones were now all connected to the baby and no longer to the action of what I was doing. There was no pleasure in that part of the delivery.  Once I had completed delivery I was checked and found to have a tear. I would need stitches. Justin lay beside me on the bed and we watched the baby move himself over to the nipple. It was amazing to see!  Completely instinctual and incredibly strong!  He would push himself up onto his arms and then move his head over bit by bit until his perfect little mouth was on my nipple and he could start to suck.
As he nestled in at my breast, the family arrived. He was only about half an hour old. He still didn’t have a name. The kids were completely overjoyed to meet him!  They watched him nurse for a bit and then we asked them what the baby’s name should be!  Sawyer suggested Buzz Lightyear.  Hunter and Susannah agreed on Fletcher and then convinced Sawyer that was the best choice. Fletcher it was!
After a little more time letting him nurse, they each had a chance to hold him. I will never forget those moments and their adoring faces. As their visit continued I found that I was feeling very light headed and tired. After my parents had had a snuggle I asked them to take the big kids to bed. Justin made me a smoothie and I was instructed to drink all of it to bring my blood sugar back up.  Heather and Justin held Fletcher while Elaine stitched my tear.  Fran and a friend came to meet Fletcher for a little bit.  After the stitches I went to the bathroom to see how I felt. I felt okay.  I lay back in the bed while Elaine did the newborn tests on Fletcher. He weighed 8 lbs 8.5oz and measured 20.5 inches long.  He looked great and healthy and Elaine commented that his results showed that he didn’t look like he had actually been overdue.  It was about 10:30 before Elaine and Julia left. They had helped Justin and Heather to clean up everything and put a load into the laundry. The pool was drained, deflated and gone and it was all cleared except for the futon bed in the living room where Justin and I would sleep.  Amanda came for a little visit.  Fletcher nursed and nursed until about midnight when he fell asleep.  We all slept on the futon bed together for a very uncomfortable sleep. Fletcher slept for eight and a half hours. I slept for five. I took pain medicine for the uterine contractions after delivery and for the bruising and tear.
The kids all came to see us in shifts the next day, as they had their swimming lessons down the road. It was nice to have one or two of them at a time.
We didn’t return to full family of six status until Thursday afternoon. We had the kids split up still with a grandparent or someone for a play date.  Fletcher weighed 8lbs 3oz the next afternoon, then 8lbs 11oz by Friday.  At two weeks he was 10lbs and then 11lbs 8oz at four.
I was quite sore. My uterus contractions to shrink it back down were excruciating!  The tear hurt a lot and my back and legs ached still. As well, my bottom was incredibly bruised!  After two weeks my flow became almost nonexistent and my pains were consistently better, though not yet gone.
At seven weeks this young man has been on many incredible adventures and has grown so much!  He fits into our family so well and the kids love him to
Bits!

Now

You know when you want something so badly it feels like it’s never going to happen? Yeah. Me too.

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39 weeks pregnant with baby number four. I was feeling pretty so I took some pictures.
Ready to go!

This girl

This girl…. This dear dear girl.
The sister, the second, the middle.

So often I look through photos of her younger days and tear up that the moments have already flown past me. It always feels like it went so fast! It is still going so fast. I know that I have done a decent job of enjoying the moment and blissfully capturing the memories but I still wish that I had done better!
Susannah is amazing. I marvel at her. She has energy and vitality and passion that blow me away; both with their depth and strength. She is strong. So! So! Strong!! Her will, her heart, her hugs…
She can flip a switch from happy to… not in a half-second before you can even guess it’s coming. When she gets in a “mood”… watch out!
I adore her. She challenges me, daily.
This week I made a effort to take each of the kids on a special Mom-date before the baby arrives.
Sooz and I had a wonderful day together. Nails, cookies, music, books, rainy walks, the midwife… It was lovely to spend time with just her. The only girl.
We gotta stick together ;)

She is so excited for the baby. She wants, desperately, to share a room! It’s so sweet. Sadly, I know that I will need the baby to be with me a little more so she is hurt that she won’t get to share right away.
Here is our little bombshell; exploring in the midwife’s office.

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My youngest

For a few more days this little (but so big) guy is my baby. He’s the sweetest, most loving little guy. He still climbs into our bed to greet us in the mornings; asking to play I Spy or an animal-guessing game. He is a brilliant little man and we all adore him.
Last night Justin was away so when Sawyer woke in the night and wandered in to join me, he was thrilled to see how much space there was beside me! Then, when I woke a few hours later it was to skinny arms and bony knees poking into my everywhere and draped over my neck and pillow.
Precious boy.

Your world is going to change so much in the very near future!!

Yesterday I was in the bath when Sawyer rattled at the door trying to get a drink. I covered up and let him in to do so. Then, he decided to perch himself over the edge of the tub and talk to me. After a little bit he started to talk about the baby (because he was staring at my tummy) and ask questions. What precious moments. What precious learning!!

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Timing and Surrender

Last night I felt like a kid waiting for Santa Claus. I could hardly fall asleep.
Justin is heading out of town for some of (or all of) this weekend and I am 39 weeks pregnant. Knowing for months that this was going to happen, I have been sure that god would have mercy on us and the baby would arrive between the 16th and 20th so that he could go without qualm. Last night I fell asleep feeling completely peaceful and certain that we would wake with me in labour.
Nope.

I, generally, like to be in charge of things and have them go “my way”. Call it what you will, I like having things planned and organized and feeling prepared. I have always struggled with the immense amount of life which is not under my control when I’m pregnant. Health, growth, changes, development, delivery, pain, more health…. there are a hundred million things I cannot control. The lesson of “surrender” is a hard one for me.
I have felt like God really needed me to learn this one, especially with this last pregnancy. I feel like, maybe, there is hope for me. I feel like, maybe, I am learning it!
I mean, my husband is going to be heading away overnight and will be largely unreachable for a bit when I’m very pregnant and at home with our other three children and I feel peaceful about it and not panicked! I feel confident that he won’t miss it because this is God’s baby and He will guide is through the baby’s arrival as He wants it. I trust that He wouldn’t have us apart for this time.

Please pray for peace with me.

Final Family of Five Friday

Chances are that I could be wrong. But, whatever…. It was a good’er.
We had super helpers for dinner prep and cleanup. Justin and I both had our hearts full of pride as we ate dinner with the three. Precious moments. Dinner compliments. So happy.
We headed off to the fair where each kid got three rides before our tickets were gone. Man! Kids are expensive!! We devoured our cotton candy and headed home to pyjamafy and play a little Kinect together before bed.
If it is our last Friday as a family of five, I’m very happy with it.

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Already all ready

There are very few things that I need to put together to be completely “ready” for the arrival of this baby. I know that I could welcome him at any time and all would be fine.
It’s funny, though. All the preparations and the “things” lined up….
I’m sure it means I will be overdue….