For Juliet ArnettRead More
Hey friends. If you're reading this, you've probably read my other two posts on PPOCD as well, and you might be wondering "Okay, so PPOCD sucks. What do you do about it?"
I'm glad you asked. This post is going to be dedicated to getting helpRead More
My sweet girl,
You're starting Kindergarten today.
I know you're taking it in stride. You're pretty good at being carefree.
But guess who isn't very good at that? Yep, your mom. Me. And I'm kind of freaking out about the fact that you're starting Kindergarten today.Read More
Today, I’m going to give you some advice that I promise you’ve heard before. It is this:
spend time on yourself.
See, I told you you’ve heard it before! But hear me out, because I’ve got a few things to throw into this discussion.Read More
Christmas has been missing for me this year. I'm sitting here, writing this by the light of our Christmas tree, which part of me, somewhere, knows is one of my favorite lights in the whole world...but it's missing. Something is missing.Read More
So there I was, almost entirely positive that I was finally in labor. These contractions were different. They were down low in my hips. They were achy and painful rather than just tight. And I'd had more than one of them! I was pretty sure that this was happening, and I was thrilled.
Dallin responded with a "Great!" and he got up right away. I decided to get in the shower, because (1) I really needed a shower, and (2) I wanted to make sure that the contractions weren't going away, even with a change in position or whatever. And Dallin, who we had already decided would be in charge of logistics when "the time came," started working out the plans for our other kids. He called his sister, who would take Maddy and Parker, sent out some work emails telling people he wouldn't be in that day, and started getting the kids up and ready.
The thing you have to understand is this: I was pretty sure, at this point, that we had time. And not just time --
. During my labor with Parker, I had contractions like these for
at home. I was honestly planning on having time to get ready, helping get Maddy and Charly off to school (probably with a tearful goodbye because let's face it, everything was making me cry those days), and heading off to the hospital once everything was under control. I mean, we weren't exactly taking our time or anything, but we were definitely not rushing at this point. My contractions were still fairly spread out, and mostly manageable: only every third or fourth one was particularly painful. I was
that we had time.
So I got in the shower. Again, I didn't take my time, but I didn't necessarily hurry. I was in there for about 10 minutes, and I probably had 3 contractions during it. At 6:04, I sent a text to my mom, telling her I was in labor and was getting dressed to go to the hospital.
As I started getting ready, I started feeling like maybe we should expedite things a little bit, and in retrospect, my actions reflected that. I threw on an easy dress instead of hunting for still-fitting pants (hard to find those days). I started blow drying my hair, but stopped after my bangs. I put makeup on (yep, you guys, I'm that shallow), but only powder and mascara. I probably spent about 12 minutes getting ready...which sounds very specific, but as it turns out, every minute counted. The kids were in and out of the room, obviously a little curious as to why I would stop moving or talking every 3-4 minutes. Once the moaning started, they even seemed a little scared (poor traumatized children!), but we kept things moving.
At some point, I told Dallin we were going to need to go sooner than we thought. He called his sister and told her to head over now. (By the way, Dallin was seriously a rock star, you guys. He got the kids up and dressed, made all the arrangements for them, got the bag together, supported me, and stayed calm and collected through everything. I love him. For reals.)
So at this point, it's about 6:18, and I'm feeling these contractions. Again, only every third or fourth one is truly PAINFUL with a capital PAINFUL (yes, the whole thing should be capitalized). I was still, honestly, not freaked out. Yes, I was definitely in labor. Yes, it was definitely time to go to the hospital. Yes, I'd be getting that epidural asap, thank you very much. But I was still thinking I'd labor for a while at the hospital before the baby came. I
felt like we had time.
A few more minutes of that, and Dallin's sister (Danielle) came. He also called our neighbor to come get Charly, who goes to the same preschool as our neighbor's little boy. I came downstairs to help Danielle get everything together for Maddy's school, and to help get her lunch ready. While pulling things out of the pantry, I had a bad contraction. I groaned through it, and Danielle assured me she could take care of the lunch.
Not even a minute later, another contraction hit. But this one was different. This one scared the crap out of me. Because when it hit, I wanted to push.
I was standing in my kitchen, with my daughter and my sister-in-law, and I had a super sudden, strong urge to birth a baby. Right there.
Hashtag not okay.
"AAAAGH Dallin we have to GOOOO!" was basically what came out of my mouth.
He came running down the stairs, handed me the keys, and told me to wait until the contraction was over and then go get in the car. He'd get the bag and would be right there.
So the contraction ended and I hurried out to the car. I made to the driveway when another contraction came. I leaned on the car for support and couldn't help yelling. (Sorry, neighbors!) But holy crap, it hurt. What the heck?! When did this happen?! It ended, and I got in the car.
Another one hit, and my body pushed. I grabbed onto the handle inside the car...
(Side note: I just tried to look up if that handle has an actual name, and apparently in many circles it is called the "Oh sh**" handle, which was definitely appropriate for this current moment, and definitely appropriate for the moment during the car ride a bit later.... when I actually said those words. Yep, I did. Side note over.)
...and braced myself. I saw our neighbor running into our house to pick up Charly; she gave me a thumbs up on the way in and I have no idea what I did back. Probably grimaced, but possibly flipped her off? (I kid, I didn't flip her off...right, Megan?)
After approximately an eternity, Dallin came running out of the house with the suitcase. He threw it in the trunk, jumped in, and sped off.
We had just turned off the street when I felt a weird "pop" and a solid gush of fluid.
"Dallin, my water just broke!"
Now, my water breaking is no joke. When my water broke with Maddy, I was fully dilated and about to start pushing. My water didn't break with Parker until he was freaking BORN. So, suffice it to say, my water breaking was a big, big deal.
Dallin sped on. Another contraction. A TON of pressure.
"Dallin, she's coming! She's coming!" I was yelling. I'm not going to lie: I was freaking out. How the heck was this happening to me? I was going to have a baby in the car?! No! I don't have babies in cars! I get epidurals in hospitals and then sit around bored for hours waiting to be fully dilated so my doctor can tell me when to push! That's how I give birth! Not in a Yaris!
"Should I pull over?" he asked.
And he went. Man, he went. He flew down the main street out of our neighborhood, passing someone (note: there was no passing lane), and not stopping before turning onto the main road. I had another contraction. More pressure. This baby wanted OUT.
Dallin called the hospital to let them know we were coming. If he's telling the story, he'll tell you that the receptionist that answered sounded like a young "dude" who was super bored with his job ("Banner Gateway, where can I direct your call?") and when he finally got on the line with maternity, he yelled "My wife is in labor. We're coming in hot!" which would have been hilarious if I hadn't been trying to, you know, not give birth.
Also after-the-fact hilarious was that at some point during that drive, he told me that I was making his dream come true (referring to the "justified" speeding, because he was
it). In the moment, I thought up some witty response about this dream about to become a nightmare, but didn't have a chance to actually say it out loud because another contraction hit.
It took everything in me to stay calm (and it didn't really work). It also took everything in me to NOT PUSH. I was literally grasping the "Oh sh**" handle, and saying "Don't push, Katie. Don't push, Katie. DON'T PUSH!" I could feel every contraction coming on. I could feel the baby putting insane pressure on my pelvis. This was totally, unbelievably, happening.
Getting to the hospital was something of a blur. I know we had to make a left turn to get into the parking lot, and Dallin had to honk and maneuver his way around a bit to pass people and run a red arrow to get in there. He zoomed up to the entrance and there was a triage nurse waiting with a wheelchair.
"Can you get out of the car?"
I could. They got me on there and literally ran me inside, asking questions along the way:
"Have your membranes ruptured?"
"How many weeks are you?"
"What were you dilated to at your last appointment?"
Yesterday I was 4 cm, 90% effaced!
I was yelling. Another contraction. I had to push. I heard her call on her walkie:
"I need an L and D room!"
She obviously didn't quite get the response she wanted, because then she said "No, just what room is clean?!"
We made it to the room. We'd somehow picked up some more nurses along the way, and the first nurse was relaying all the info I'd given her to them.
Someone asked, "Can you get on the bed?"
In retrospect, I'm kind of like, come on, I'd made it that far; of course I was getting on the bed and not giving birth in a wheelchair right
to the bed. Please.
So with a good amount of help, I got on the bed. Pretty sure I was still yelling.
Dress up, undies off. Another contraction. A bad one.
"I have to push!"
"Yep, you're baby's coming!"
At this point, in the span of about 20 seconds, I remember having three distinct thoughts:
(1) I am so relieved to be in a hospital, on a bed, with medical professionals present. This is going to be okay.
(2) I don't have a birth roar. Do I need a birth roar? Isn't that like, a requirement for women giving birth without meds? I guess we'll just see what comes out.
(3) RING OF FIRE?! Crap, that's about to happen.
And it did happen. Right about then.
"Slow down!" they yelled. "Just breathe through it."
I don't know how I did, but I did. I stopped yelling and I breathed (so much for the birth roar). This was happening. I could do it. Even if I couldn't do it, I
"Head's out! Take a look!"
And there she was. One more little push, and there was the rest of her.
She was so big! And so clean, and so pink. She had a ton of hair and she cried right away.
I looked at Dallin. He was crying. I think I was in too much shock to cry, but I was saying "Oh my gosh!" over and over.
They handed me my beautiful baby girl, saying we needed to be skin-to-skin right away since the warmer in the room wasn't, well, warm.
We had to piece together what time to put as the time she was born, because no one had been watching the clock. Based on when Dallin had called, our best guess was 6:36 AM.
I was still in my dress. My hair was still wet from my shower. Yet there I was, holding my sweet baby, just about an hour after my very first contraction.
It was odd, doing everything backwards. We still had to be admitted, so we had to answer all the usual questions...just while already holding the new baby. I had to change into a hospital gown. My doctor got there and took care of all the gross stuff. I had to have an IV put in because I'd had moderate postpartum hemorrhaging with Parker, so they got me started on pitocin. They actually gave me a couple shots in my leg, and I remember thinking "If I'd had that epidural, I wouldn't have felt those." Not that those little pokes were painful after, you know, childbirth...it's just a funny thought.
I've had many people ask "what it was like" to give birth unmedicated. Honestly, it's mostly a huge blur, which makes it seem like it wasn't that bad. I'm sure it probably would have seemed a lot worse if I'd been laboring for hours. As it was, the absolute worst part was the fear that I would give birth in the car, and the effort (physical and mental) that it took to NOT push. It was terrifying and just downright hard. While I know now that everything was completely fine and that the baby was perfectly healthy and would have been even if she HAD been born in the car... that doesn't change the fact that it was incredibly scary in the moment. What if something had been wrong? We'd have been mostly helpless until we got to the hospital. But once we got there, once I felt safe pushing, it was (dare I say it?) not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was just so fast! And it was nice to be able to move my legs and walk on my own so soon after she was born. Natural recovery beats epidural recovery, for sure.
Once we were all checked in, and Amelia had been weighed and measured (8 lbs 15 oz, 21.25 inches long -- my biggest baby yet!), the rest of the hospital stay was pretty standard. Visitors, vitals checks, tracking the feedings and the diaper changes. Everything went very smoothly, and we were able to leave the next day.
Well, I guess that's about it! This was definitely not the birth I had planned...but apparently that's just how Amelia rolls. I've got a feeling she's going to keep us on our toes.
And while her arrival gave me one of the craziest experiences of my life, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Thanks for reading!
But honestly, I really love birth stories. Childbirth is one of those things that is just so fascinating to me. It's terrifying and inspiring, painful and joyful, disgusting and beautiful, all at the same time. Every story is so unique. And every woman cherishes her story so much, and I feel like that really comes through when you read or listen to them. So I love it. Which means that I'm going to be "that lady." Just so we're clear.
That being said, this isn't going to be the four-part epic tale that was Parker's birth story, but I think we'll have two parts, easily.
So buckle up, folks.
Hm...where do I begin?
The fact is, I was expecting to have this baby the first week of August.
My latest baby to date (Maddy) came on her due date; the others were 8 and 3 days early. Labor always started on its own; I was never induced.
At my 36 week appointment in mid-July, I was 3 cm dilated, 70% effaced. Good start, right?
The next week, my doctor put me closer to 4 cm and 90%. She also said that my belly was measuring a little small, which surprised the heck outta me, but whatever. So they had me go in for an ultrasound the next day, just to make sure everything was going well. And it was! Baby girl was measuring on the small side, but within the normal range. I think the estimate at that point was just over 6 lbs.
And the weeks went on. On July 31, I had some contractions that I thought might be the real deal. I only remember the date specifically because that was Charly's birthday, and I was worried about having to cancel her party the next day. I had contractions that weren't necessarily painful, but made my belly super tight. They were very consistent at about 3 1/2 minutes apart, and they lasted for a couple hours.
Now might be a good time to explain why I didn't go to the hospital when I had contractions like this. These were the circumstances I was in when I went to the hospital with Charly -- consistent contractions that weren't really painful, and that weren't getting worse. And well, Charly's birth wasn't my favorite, so I didn't really want to recreate that experience. I was really waiting for a repeat of my labor with Parker -- consistent contractions that I could tell were progressing, and that were painful enough to make me really want that epidural. Without that, I wasn't going in.
So my due date was the 11th, and I was really hoping she'd come around the 6th. That weekend, I made like the pioneer children and walked and walked and walked and walked. That Saturday, the 8th, I actually walked a total of 8 miles. I'd have those Braxton Hicks contractions, and I'd get a random painful one thrown in every now and then, but never anything serious.
And well, that was basically my life for the next couple weeks. I took it easy for a few days while school was starting. Maddy started Kindergarten on the 12th and I really just didn't want baby stuff to get in the way of that too much. But we made it through all that, and I went back to walking whenever possible the weekend after. I actually thought she was coming for SURE on the 13th, but it was just another false alarm.
I also had another ultrasound that week (weight estimate: 7 lbs 4 oz, I think), and had to go to the hospital for a nonstress test that Saturday (my birthday, the 15th). Everything still looked good. Baby girl was very healthy, but apparently also very stubborn.
At this point, to be perfectly honest, I was actually in pretty good spirits. Obviously, I was ready for the baby to come; the bags had been packed, and the plans for the other kids had been in place, for weeks at this point. Everyone I saw was asking how I was doing and telling me how sorry they felt for me. Everywhere I went, I would think "What would I do if my water broke here?" The girls were asking when the baby was coming almost constantly. But I was honestly okay. I wasn't too physically uncomfortable, and I really just wanted the baby to cook for as long as she needed to.
But then I hit 41 weeks, and my doctor started talking induction.
Now, I don't necessarily have anything against induction in and of itself, but I really, really wanted to avoid a c-section, and I know (or at least, have heard) that being induced raises the risk of needing a c-section. I also knew that because I was already dilated so much (still 4 cm), they'd probably want to break my water, which I didn't want to do because of what happened with Parker (even though I knew that was a total fluke). The whole thing just made me nervous.
But not as nervous as thinking about what might happen if we didn't induce. I know that things can get pretty ugly, pretty fast, if the placenta stops working at any point (talk about a guaranteed c-section!), which is more likely to happen as the placenta gets older. So I obviously didn't want to risk that.
Ultimately, my doctor eased my fears a bit by telling me that because this was my fourth baby, and because I was already dilated and effaced, I was a good candidate for induction and the chances were good that it would work like it was supposed to. I agreed to schedule the induction for 9 am on the next day, August 20th. But that still gave me one day to try to make it happen on its own.
And so I cleaned my house like a madwoman. I must have gone up and down our stairs a hundred times that day, and I'm not sure that's an exaggeration. I folded laundry downstairs, and I made a separate trip upstairs for every single piece of clothing. No joke. There was no holding still that day. Every time I might have stood still, I bounced instead. And that night, I walked (or, more accurately, almost ran) around the mall one last time. I had the same contractions, but they stopped as soon as I got back in the car.
That night was the first night that I really got discouraged. I had been working my body so hard for the past few weeks, trying to get this baby to come, and nothing had worked, and now I was facing an induction. I had no idea what to expect, and I was scared. And I kind of felt like I had failed, which sounds silly now, but that's how I felt. Dallin and I talked about it for a while that night, trying to decide if we should cancel the morning's appointment. Ultimately, though, we decided we needed to do it. We'd get our kids to all their various caretakers the next morning, and we'd go to the hospital at 9 to have our baby. I went to bed feeling mostly at peace about the whole thing.
I actually slept surprisingly well that night, but I did wake up early -- at about 5:15. Lying in bed, I pulled out my phone and checked my email, and then read a couple things about what I could expect from the induction.
At about 5:30, I rolled over in bed...and a contraction hit.
I remember thinking "That felt real." It felt exactly how I remembered my contractions feeling from my active labor with Parker. But I didn't want to get my hopes up again.
And then about 8 minutes later, I had another one. And then another one 8 minutes after that. And then, around 5:50, I had one that, well, really hurt. That's when I woke Dallin up.
"I think I'm in labor."
Spoiler alert: I was right.
This is a tough one, folks. I don't like admitting what I'm about to admit, mostly because I know that there are so many people struggling with problems so different from mine, and those problems make my problems look more like "problems," if you know what I mean.
But I hope you know that I'm just trying to keep it real here. I just need an outlet to get my feelings out, and to be as genuine as possible, and to maybe help someone else who might be feeling the same, you know? I'm not trying to offend or hurt anyone. I promise.
So with that out of the way...here's the thing: I didn't want this pregnancy.
As in, I started crying uncontrollably when the word "pregnant" popped up on that dang stick on that dang Monday morning. And I went to the store immediately and bought three more pregnancy tests. And when one of them didn't really look super positive, I convinced myself that THAT was the real one. So I went and bought two more and took those (spoiler alert: positive!). And in between all the Sonic drinks and the peeing and the paranoid-that-I-would-see-someone-I-know shopping was a whole lot of crying.
I remember Dallin getting home that night and starting to talk about his day, as usual. And then he really looked at me, and he asked me how I was, and I said "I'm pregnant," and he was like "What?!" and so I said it again. And then I just broke down and he just held me.
I remember when we first got married, I thought the idea of a surprise pregnancy was oh so romantic. Like "Yeah, we weren't trying, but we just couldn't keep our hands off each other, so I guess these things happen!" #winkwinknudgenudge . And I remember being just the teeniest, tiniest bit disappointed when we started "trying." I mean, where's the fun in that?
And then, three "on purpose" babies later, you're like "Okay, maybe we got a little carried away," and you love your babies with all your heart... but you're really just ready to take a break for a while.
But of course, trying "not to" is a whole different beast. You think it's simple, right? Just take the pill. Get the IUD. Hold everything and grab a condom. Track your cycle and your temperature and become super well acquainted with things you never wanted to even think about (cervical mucus, anyone?). Something's gotta work. Just do it right. Just be careful.
And the next thing you know you're carrying a 44 oz drink around at your third CVS run for the day, praying that just maybe those other tests didn't know what they were talking about.
And you feel a lot of shame.
I felt so bad for feeling so bad about this. How could I not want this blessing that so many people were, at that very moment, praying for? How could I be crying in sadness at a result that would have most women crying in happiness and gratitude? How could I be so cruel?
I didn't like myself for a long time. And I held off telling other people about the pregnancy because, quite frankly, I couldn't say anything without crying. I just couldn't deny my sadness. And every time I threw up or hit that wall of fatigue that seemed to pop up so often, I would think "And I didn't even ask for this!" Every time I got frustrated or downright fed up with my kids, I would think "There is NO WAY I can add another one to this mix. I can't do it."
It was rough.
I wish I had some great story about the moment my attitude changed. But honestly, I think it just happened slowly over time. It started with a conscious decision, maybe around the start of my second trimester. I recognized that I had allowed myself to "grieve." I had given myself time to be sad about this, and that time needed to be over. I needed to get over the sadness and start to have a little faith -- faith that this baby was meant for out family, that I have people -- super awesome GREAT people -- in my corner to help me, and that I could become a better person and mother because of this experience.
And no, I don't remember when exactly that happened...but I do remember when I
it had happened.
I was driving to pick up two of the kids from my sister, who watches them while I work. For some reason, I had Charly with me, and we were talking about her upcoming birthday party. She had been insisting on a "Signing Time" themed party, but that day, she had temporarily changed her mind, and wanted a Sadness theme -- as in the character of Sadness, from "Inside Out."
My mind wandered and I thought about that movie. Have you seen it? (Side note: If not, GO SEE IT. It's seriously probably in my top 10 favorite movies now. Love it.) Well, as I thought about it, I thought about the surprisingly profound messages in it -- messages about emotions, and how they aren't always black or white (or yellow or blue as the case may be), but are often complex and complicated. Emotions play off of each other, affect each other, and rely on each other. The movie demonstrates this beautifully as the main character learns this specific lesson:
that sometimes, it is Sadness that allows us to feel Joy.
This phrase struck a chord in my head and in my heart. As I thought about the sadness that I had felt so many times over the past few months, I realized that it was gone, but that it hadn't been for nothing. I realized that maybe I hadn't wanted this pregnancy, but I wanted this baby. So much. I was excited to meet her and take her home and have her be mine forever. And remembering the sadness made the joy that much more meaningful.
And I thought about joy, and how I wanted my baby to feel it like Joy feels it in the movie, like I felt it in that moment -- unadulterated and absolute. I wanted her to know that she's wanted and loved, and that she always has been and always will be. It felt important to be deliberate about it.
Neither of my older girls has a middle name. I never had one and never felt like I was missing out. And with this baby girl, we had all but settled on a name, but it never felt 100% right. Not until that moment, driving in my car, when I knew that this baby needed a middle name. And even though it's possibly a little weird that that name was inspired by a Pixar character, it felt so right. And now that she's here, it still feels right.
Which brings us to an introduction. Allow me to present:
Amelia Joy Harris
One of the greatest joys of my life; and a product of one of the saddest times I can remember.
I hope this all makes sense. I hope no one hates me for writing this, and for these feelings I've had. I hope you know how much I love my kids, and how willing I would be to go through anything for any of them.
And I hope that maybe, if you're going through something that's bringing you sadness, it'll end up bringing you this much joy, too.