Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Normallest Birth I've Ever Had

Baby number six is almost six months old.  Six months old and I haven't sat down to finish his birth story yet?!  Well... there is a legitimate reason. Maybe even a couple of them. First... he's my sixth child. That's a lot of kids. Like way more than I thought I would ever have...and holy moly is this house filled with ruckous pretty much all the time!  Second, his birth story is relatively boring. Unlike #5 when my OB had emergency bypass surgery five days before my due date, or #4 when I had the VBAC that pretty much everyone told me I shouldn't have, or #3 which was high risk and scary and early and did I mention scary?!, or #2 where I was adamant to have a natural birth even though I still ended up with the dreaded pitocin... oh and also that ridiculous car wreck when I was 13 weeks preggo, or #1 which was exciting because hello... my FIRST baby.  That chick is 11 now. Woah. ELEVEN.

Even though his story is normal, it still deserves to be told. Mostly because I have mad momma guilt for not writing it down, since I've written the other five. So though it may be short... it shall be told!

Little six and his pregnancy was a bit of surprise. His older brother had only just turned a year old when we saw that BFP, and since each pregnancy we'd had since 2007 had become slightly farther a part from the last one, I was a smidge shocked to say the very least. But as with every positive, I soon made peace with the new little gift growing in me, though frequently during his gestation, I would exclaim, "Holy Moly, we're having another!"

My favorite memory from early pregnancy this time was when we decided to tell the big kids.  It was a pretty spring day and every one was playing joyfully on the backyard swingset. I went to sit on the hammock and I called my first big kid over.  I said something like, "Hey... see that freckle on your arm?  That's how big your new sibling is!" Once they figured out what I was talking about they were pretty pumped. The oldest even wrote a paper about it for school. The second oldest sat in disbelief for a few weeks because that's just how he rolls. U2 was also the one to blow our family secret when he announced it on a second grade fieldtrip. Apparently some kids were poking fun at him because his fieldtrip lunch didn't seem big enough. He proudly announced, "Well my mom CAN make bigger lunches, but she's pregnant right now so this is what I've got." I got some pretty cute messages from second grade moms after that day.

Overall it was a normal pregnancy. Of course I always worried about every little thing because I'm me... but nothing terribly concerning happened. My OB had been sworn to neither retire nor have a heart attack before the end of October, and things all progressed pretty nicely. Our biggest concern this pregnancy came at about 7 months along when we decided to make our yearly trek to the State Fair.  I had packed and prepared everything. I was excited to walk my very pregnant self all over the fair in hope of getting baby well lined up and maybe not having to wait until 40+ weeks to meet him or her.  And then... I waddled myself out to our ginourmous newly purchased 12 passenger van after all the kids and the hubs had loaded up.  I was three steps from the van when I remembered that I had forgotten something and made a quick about face to head back in. But one step in the opposite direction and my foot landed in a big hole in our yard and twisted and down my pregnant body went.  I landed on my leg and side so no worries about the baby... but my ankle was in excruciating pain. I sat crying on the ground when Andrew (who had also gone back in the house to grab something we forgot came out to find me) and the kids started popping their heads out the van door to find out why pregnant mommy was crying on the grass. I had two choices... dissappoint 5 kids and scrap the State Fair trip, or pick my aching giant pregnant body up and hope that the hour drive to the fair would help my ankle not hurt so badly. And off we went.

By the time my parents saw me at breakfast before the fair, we had all determined that there was no way I was going to be able to walk on my ankle all day. So, in normal awesome grandparent fashion, my sweet mom and dad rented a scooter for me and I was good to go.  I had no pride... but a sweet ride.

When October rolled around, I really really tried to convince myself NOT to expect an early baby. Other than the fluke of U3... U babies do NOT come before their due date. And frequently they come much much later than their due date.  So we waited.  At 40 weeks and 4 days pregnant (a Monday), I went in for my regular check up. It was at that appointment that the best OB in the whole world gave me some no-so-pleasant news. He would be leaving for a wedding that out-of-state that following Thursday, so we had to have this baby ASAP. Well I freaked out. Because there is not a doctor in my city who is supportive of me having a vaginal birth besides my doctor. So in my head I'm going "Crap! No! Not again! Dang it!" and lots of other explitives that aren't super appropriate for this blog post. So Best Doc Ever said... "Let's do a membrane sweep, and if it doesn't work today... you can come back and we'll do it again tomorrow."  Well, membrane sweeps have never ever worked in the past to send me into labor but I had no choice so that's what we did and DAMN did it hurt. 

I left the appointment super discouraged and in wicked uncomfortable pain at about 3 p.m.

Andrew and I picked up the kids from their babysitter, grabbed the bigs from school, and then headed home. The husband had to leave for an appointment but I was in such awful pain that I had no choice but to send my kiddos downstairs to watch PBS because even the slight noise they were making was too much for me. Mind you, I didn't feel like I was contracting... I just felt not well. Achey. Off.

By the time Andrew got home from his appointment, I told him I just needed to go be quiet in our bedroom for a bit and asked if he could handle making supper for kids.  It was probably about 5:45 p.m. by then. At some point in the hour and a half that he had been gone, it had started to occur to me that PERHAPS I was having contractions, but I had been experiencing prodromal labor for weeks so I didn't get too excited. I tried laying on my bed in bedroom for a while but I just couldn't get comfortable... and then I thought that maybe I'd better walk around and move because if this WAS labor, perhaps I could speed it up. So I stayed vertical and mobile and by about 6:30 p.m. I sort of realized that I was having a very difficult time walking through the contractions. At that point I knocked on the wall for Andrew to come back and I told him that he better find someone to come watch the kids because I was pretty sure we needed to go to the hospital pretty soon.  He didn't, apparently, sense my urgency the first time so 10 minutes later I said... "Seriously... you really really need to call someone now, this is getting concerning!"

One of our church friends came over because she lived close and we had another friend who promised to be over in an hour or two to relieve her if the hosptial confirmed we were actually in labor. At some point in there, we also called my parents but said that they may not want to head our direction until we knew for sure we were having a baby.

I somehow managed to finish packing our stuff by the time our church friend arrived. One of my big boys looked at my wide-eyed because he could see I wasn't feeling great and I think knew we were going to have a baby soon. Since then, he has always included "women in labor" in his nightly prayers. It's super sweet.

Andrew and I got to the hospital around 7:45 p.m. My contractions had slowed down in the car and I was not super positive that I was in labor anymore.  They got us hooked up to monitors and checked my progress by  8:15 or 8:30 p.m. Yes! I had made progress from the afternoon and we were moving right along. They also confirmed that baby was sunny-side up which could mean a more difficult labor (definitely not the best news I'd heard all night).  The hospital staff was in no major rush to get me to a delivery room. They asked me how long my labors usually lasted and I said around 8-10 hours, but no one (not even I) was thinking that my labor had actually began at the doctor's appointment at 1 p.m. so we all figured we had some time. As the medical staff did their paperwork and called my OB out at the nurse's station, Andrew and I stood in the triage room, swaying back and forth and breathing through contractions.  All of the sudden, and much to my surprise, a large gush of water dropped to the floor and for the first time in all 6 of my labors, my waters had broken on their own. I looked at my husband and said, "Um... you need to go tell them to HURRY UP... things don't usually take too long for me once my water breaks." So Andrew rushed out of the room, the nurses came in to verify broken water and check on me. Within 15 minutes, they had us in the laboring room and told us they had called my doc.

It seemed like forever for my doctor to arrive. They had to hook me up to antibiotics and the anethesiologist had to come give me their whole talk even though I had no intention of needing them. I was starting to feel pushy, when my doctor finally walked in the room. I had given birth to U5 on my hands and knees so that was my position of choice for this baby as well. And then came the worst part of the birth of U6. Pushing with your sixth kiddo should really be easy.  Two or three pushes and it should be over right?... but U6 had different ideas. Being sunny-side up was working against us and I pushed and pushed and pushed. I had to rest between contractions and I was crying and I was angry and I did not understand why it was taking so dang long. Andrew reported to me later that he was getting nervous and felt like the doctors and staff were also not happy with how long it was taking.  Finally, my OB suggested we try a different position so I went back to my back, though propped up, and the nurses and Andrew helped pull my legs up into a squat.  About 3 minutes later, out came our sweet little baby and Andrew with tears in his eyes exclaimed, "It's a boy!!" He was 9 pounds even and 21 and a half inches long. Healthy and awesome and a great nurser!

Baby #6 spent the first 30 minutes of his life being called "Ignatius" but the more I looked at him, the less I thought that name fit. So I turned to my husband who was sending texts and making phone calls and said... "He's not Ignatius. He's born in the month of Mary. I think he's Maximilian Kolbe. Can we name him Max?" Andrew was on board and thus after 30 minutes of knowing our little guy, he became Baby Max.

His siblings got to miss their morning classes the following day to come and meet their new brother. They were all very excited except for U5. Xavier was only 21 months old and definitely not thrilled that there was something else getting attention. He was confused and dejected... but he has grown to love him in the months that followed.

We are now, six months later, settling into life as a family of eight. It's been awhile since we've had two in diapers for this long of time so chasing after a todder and caring for an infant keeps things interesting. I find it daunting to go anywhere with all of them in tow if Andrew is not along with us. And I do have a bit of momma guilt that I'm unable to make all of the school events and field trips because I have so many littles to take care of.  However, the four bigger kids have been a big help and they all love on their baby brother every chance they get. 

And because we get the question all the time, I might as well say something about it here. "Are we done yet?" The truth is that I'm never comfortable giving a definitive YES or NO to that question. I am 100% okay with Max being the last baby. We certainly have been blessed with some great kids and I love the family that we have.  Also, I very much dislike being pregnant. I don't like feeling nauseous and tired perpetually, and my body doesn't carry them as efficiently as it used to so I'm still having hip and back pain 6 months postpartum.  However, if the Lord needs another U kid in the world, then as I always say, he will bring me to a point of desiring another one. They do say that SEVEN is the perfect number, after all.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Dining Room Table

Organizing a household filled with five children, two parents, and one super-fun aunt is akin to putting order to a 3 year-old's scribbles.  Now that three of the five kids are in school, I'm finding that keeping my dining room table in order is ridiculously difficult.  The table, on any given day, is a school desk, mail catcher, art room, random-crap-collector... and, oh yeah, we eat at it as well.

It's insane.

While I wish it would look like this:
Image result for pretty dining room table
(gloriously unrealistic dining room)

It almost always looks more like this:
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(hodge podge of life dining room table *note hotwheels under the table*)

We normally use wipe-able placemats for everyone but whether or not someone finds time to wipe them after every meal is a crapshoot. And since when do my 8, 5, and 3 year olds have any clue that food and drinks should stay within the boundaries of the mat anyways?!

I've tried a pretty tablecloth... but if I'm lucky, it lasts approximately 24 hours before having to be hurled into the laundry with some juice, marker, or food stain.

So I'm looking for ideas. I'd like to preserve what's left of the pretty-ness of my dining room table, but I'm annoyed with every method I've tried. Anyone have something tried and true for me??

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

National Blog Posting Month #NaBloPoMo

Honestly, I don't even know if #NaBloPoMo still exists. But it used be that November was the month where bloggers strove to post something every single day. I know I will likely fail at this... and seeing as how I nearly failed the first day because it is 10:05 p.m. and I am currently writing about nothing... I already ALMOST failed. But... hey... as Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try."

So I'm shooting for "do." At least for today.

Here's to the possibility of more blog posts in November than I've written all year.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I still like him.

After a rather rocky Monday in our household, I was excited to find out that the husband took the initiative to find a sitter, set a plan, and schedule a date night for us last night. We only went out to dinner, but seriously people, when you have FIVE children, dinner without anyone to manage is like a Tahiti vacation (if you're into Tahitian vacations that is.)

I have a few reflections to share on said date.

Firstly, I actually, truthfully, and amazingly really enjoy my husband. I have the best time just hanging out with him. And maybe it's sad, but sometimes it takes a little time away from our kidlums for me to remember that. He's this wonderfully delightful human being. Crazy weird. I mean CRAZY weird. But hilarious and cool. And I'm glad I married him.

Secondly, we spend a lot of our date nights talking about the aforementioned kidlums. And can I just say that parenting is pretty much the most difficult thing ever in the history of the world? I mean, you're given this little human - basically a blank slate except for whatever genes you've passed along - and you have to turn it into a functioning, thriving, and God-loving adult. Holy Moly! That is a really GIGANTIC responsibility. I have a hard enough time figuring out how I'm going to navigate my own way to heaven, and Andrew and I are supposed to help 5 new people figure that out? Intimidating to say the least. And it will only happen by the Grace of God. God, help us. Please.

Thirdly, we had dinner at HuHot last night. And if you have not gone, I do recommend you go. It's delicious.

That's all I've got for today, folks. But if anyone has fun blog post topic suggestions, I am happy to receive writing prompts.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I'm Baaaaaaaack... Maybe

You guys! Three of my five kiddos are now in school ALL DAY LONG! What??? When did that happen?! My house is absurdly quiet, especially when the threenager and the baby are asleep. So, maybe, just maybe, I can return to my love of writing and revive this little corner of the interwebs.

So for my first post, I offer you CRAZY-CATHOLIC-CORNER tip of the week!!

The CCC tip of the week is "Get thyself some Holy Water!"

Call me crazy, but I think we spend so much time worried about the silly surface stuff in our life, that we often forget that we are engaged in spiritual warfare at all times. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to think about it. And I think that's just what the evil one wants. And I think that's part of what is making our world as bizarre as it is these days. Politics are like a circus. Marriages are ending left and right. Gun violence all over the place. I could go on and on.

So my advice is to get yourself some Holy Water and bless the Hell out of the world around you.

Feeling anxious?   Splash some Holy Water around the room and say a quick prayer.
Kids driving you bonkers? Sprinkle the crazy out of them (and probably yourself too).
In a fight with your spouse? Bless your marital bed!

When a friend first told me to do this, I pretty much decided she was nuts. But I can now attest that it works wonder and keeps much more peace in our home. And how the family goes... so goes the society. Right?

I often wonder if the Pope or a Bishop could say a prayer during a big rain storm and bless all the water coming out of the sky so we could just sprinkle the whole state? That'd be pretty awesome.

More on the history of holy water here.

Friday, February 19, 2016

An Exercise in Trust - Xavier's Birth Story

When I started writing this, the little guy was exactly one month old. The little man who we waited and waited and waited (and waited) for is already one month old. I don't understand how the last 4 weeks of pregnancy seemed to last for decades, but the first four weeks out-of-womb has been a blink.

Last April, mostly on a whim, I decided to take a pregnancy test. I'd been feeling a little off and I hadn't taken a test in awhile. I wasn't really expecting a positive test, because I frequently feel "a little off" so when that very faint positive line showed up, my heart skipped a major beat. I had ZERO time to dwell on it, however, because the family was loaded in the van all ready to head to Mia's first communion retreat so I took a very short double take and ran out the door. At that point, I had no idea how I would discreetly share the news with Andrew whilst surrounded by all the parents of the second graders during a retreat. Once we finally got settle in the packed conference room, I wrote him a little note on our paper to the effect of... "Surprise in 9 months?" He nodded and smiled. There's not a lot of hoopla when it's kid number five, I guess.

We were not extremely forthcoming in announcing the pregnancy. It took months before I could really grasp that we were going to be parents of five. I was not at all mentally prepared for another child, and until I felt the little babe kicking, I was pretty resistant to the idea. That's probably why I wasn't super pumped to share the news. Morning sickness was awful which convinced me it was a girl, and also convinced me that 34 was getting too old to have babies. I kept asking God why he was trusting me with another one when I was feeling so overwhelmed with the four we already had. The whole pregnancy became an enormous trial of trust for me.

We were due on Christmas day, which helped a bit with my resistance to the pregnancy, because I frequently considered what our Blessed Mother must have felt being so young and so pregnant with Jesus. But as December rolled around, I became more and more anxious for the kid to just arrive. Every single pregnancy, despite my history of almost always going late, I convince myself that THIS baby will come early. Especially since my c-section with number 3, it just made sense in my head that my body wouldn't gestate long enough to make a giant baby. But it seems I just don't go into labor before my due date.

Christmas plans with our extended families were all scheduled around when Baby U5 might show up. The entire holiday season was sort of a weird-didn't-feel-like-Christmas-blur.  On my 35th birthday, the week before Christmas, instead of getting a baby, I received terrible news. My awesome Obstetrician who had journeyed with me through my first VBAC had to have sudden emergency bypass surgery and was going to be out for at least 8 weeks. This meant big troubles for me.  Most OB's weren't supportive of me having a vaginal birth after cesarean even though I had done it once before. Though my risks were much lower than last time, I was still too "high risk" for most OB's to respect my wishes for a natural birth, and I was very fearful of what OB partner I would be assigned to for U5. When Greta was born, I knew I would likely have a fight on my hands once I arrived at the hospital in labor and demanded they not cut me. But with this baby, I was so looking forward to a normal birth. And that's what my regular OB would have given me. He had been treating me like a normal patient for the entirety of my pregnancy... instead of like a ticking time bomb... and I was so unhappy that I had to go back to that time bomb feeling with a new provider.

After advice from a good doula friend, I picked an OB partner who was very kind and sweet. But once she read my history, every single visit consisted of her looking at me with fear in her eyes. She was terrified of me rupturing and as I got more and more pregnant, she got more and more nervous. Thanks be to God, she was a soft spoken person who didn't use many scare tactics, but I had a hunch that she was really praying that I would not go into labor so she would have reason to schedule a section. She wasn't going to be on call for the Christmas holiday, however, and I was told that I certainly did NOT want one of the on call docs if I wanted my VBAC. That had me very worried. Christmas came and Christmas went. As did every day afterwards.  With each day, I became more and more frustrated that I wasn't in labor. Finally on New Year's Eve I started having more regular contractions. They were a little tougher than pre labor and they were consistent for about 10 hours. I had my parents come down and Andrew and I headed into L&D around midnight. Much to my chagrin, I had not progressed at all. They sent me home. I labored almost the entire day of New Year's but then contractions stopped. And there I was. One week overdue, no real labor in sight, and very frustrated.

At my next check up - 10 days overdue at that point, the OB wanted to at least get my section scheduled. I agreed to scheduling at that point because maybe that was what was supposed to happen. I expected to be scheduled for 42 weeks exactly. But I talked to the doctor about a gentle induction by breaking my water and she said she'd talk to the hospital about it and get back to me. I received a phone call the next day from her notifying me that the hospital was in no way comfortable with an AROM induction and that she would see me "tomorrow" for my scheduled section.  My jaw dropped. No one had informed me that it had been scheduled "tomorrow." I told her that I had not been informed of that date, and I was hoping for 42 weeks exactly. I didn't have all my ducks in a row for surgery in less than 24 hours. Thank goodness she was able to reschedule it for the following Friday afternoon at exactly 42 weeks pregnant.

On Wednesday evening, I had my scheduled prayer time at church. I was so angry with God and fearful and nervous that I might need surgery. I was all by myself in the chapel reading about how I needed to give all my fears and worries over to the Blessed Mother and she would take care of them. So there, in front of Jesus, I began to bawl. I sobbed and loudly told him that I was scared of a csection, I was scared of labor, I was mad that nothing was happening, I was scared me or babe wouldn't make it... I was just scared. And then a loud noise shook me out of my dramatic state. I quickly calmed myself thinking someone was coming in. And that's when another noise hit and began to shake the pew I was sitting in. An Earthquake!!! An Earthquake in Kansas!!! It turns out that right at the moment that I was despairing in front of the Lord, two relatively large earthquakes struck. And I very quickly realized He was in control.

I spent the day before my scheduled section in surprisingly good spirits. I kept remembering how He shook me out of my despair and helped me trust... so each time I had fear, I just gave it over to Mary and Jesus.  It was at this same time that another little miracle was happening states away from us. One of my best friends, a nun in Ohio, was in her chapel praying. She wasn't praying for me at that moment, but was looking something up in the Bible when she ran across this verse:

"Shall I bring a mother to the point of birth,and yet not let her child be born? says the LORD. Or shall I who bring to birth and yet close her womb? says your God." ~ Isaiah 66;9

Sister quickly proclaimed to the Lord that she was claiming this verse for me and my baby would be born naturally! I, of course, did not hear this story until we told her of Xavier's birth days later... So it was all the more amazing.

On Thursday evening, as our little family of 6 prayed our night prayers, I was a little nervous, but I was excited that we would finally meet our baby soon. As we ended our normal prayers, Andrew had all of the children gather around me and place their hands on me. He blessed me with water from Lourdes and prayed for a safe delivery for Baby U5 and I. It was such a special moment.

I woke Friday morning at 5 a.m. to make myself some breakfast. I had to fast a long time before my scheduled surgery at 1:30 p.m., so I wanted to make sure to get some food in my pregnant belly before I was required to stop eating. By 5:15 a.m. I noticed that I was contracting pretty good, but I wasn't convinced that it was any more than false labor.  The contractions kept coming all morning and by the time we had to take the kids to school at 7:30 a.m., I really had to fake my way through them so the kids wouldn't know I was in labor.  I got big hugs from my big kids and told them they'd finally be meeting our baby soon after school.

The contractions were not dying down at all, and they seemed to be getting a little more difficult to manage so I tried to stay on my feet as much as possible to encourage labor.  I wasn't supposed to eat or drink anything but I had a pretty good hunch this labor was real, so I allowed myself a few sips of water and a tiny bit of juice throughout the morning. Try running a marathon on that!! My parents were set to arrive at 9:30 a.m. that morning and I vowed to myself that I would not tell them I thought I was in labor. I was just going to wait and see if they noticed when they arrived.  That lasted all of about 2 minutes because a contraction hit just as they were arriving, and I couldn't really fake my way through them anymore so I told them... "I'm pretty sure I'm in labor."  They were excited but skeptical because they had witnessed so much false labor in the weeks leading up to that day.

Andrew had me start climbing stairs. My dad was timing contractions. My mom was cracking jokes to keep things light and to keep us all from being too anxious.  We were supposed to check into the hospital at 11:30 a.m. for our 1:30 surgery, so by about 10:30 a.m., I was wondering what to do.  I called the OB's nurse and she asked how far apart my contractions were. When I told her they were 2-3 minutes apart she said, "You need to go to the hospital NOW!"  I was in no rush.  The contractions were tough but I was still able to manage them, and I didn't think delivery was imminent.  Andrew and I took our time getting to the hospital. I prayed and prayed that this was real labor because I still wasn't fully convinced.

When we arrived at the hospital around 11:15a, the nurses said "Oh, you're our 1:30 p.m. scheduled section."  I smiled... "Well... not exactly... I've been in labor for the last 6 hours, so I'm hoping to avoid surgery."

They got me into the triage room and got me hooked up to all the monitors. I refused to lay in the little bed as I wanted to remain vertical to help labor along. The nurses were busy with all the women in labor that day so it took a while before anyone got to me.  When I reported to the resident that I hoped I was going to be able to avoid a section, she and the nurse were both rooting for me.  When they finally checked me I was dialated to 5cm and 80% effaced. This was much more progressed than my last check, and we all rejoiced that I was in fact in labor. The nurse cheered, the resident was pumped, Andrew was excited, and I was crying tears of joy.

I felt so bad for the resident when she returned to my room 10 minutes later having to tell me that my OB was still recommending the c-section.  I smiled at her. I knew she would. I told the resident that the news was no surprise to me but I would be declining the section and having this baby on my terms. The resident told me that my OB would be in shortly.

Andrew and I were so blessed to have a nurse who had VBAC'd herself. She was so calm the whole day and so encouraging. When the OB arrived, the first thing she did was go through all of my risks of laboring. "You're 42 weeks pregnant. You have a high chance of rupture. We could lose the baby if something happened. You could need a hysterectomy."  I told her I understood all of the risks. I also told her that all would be okay and that we would be having a VBAC later that day. I was okay with all the monitors, and if something went wrong, I was happy to have a section. But I wasn't going to be cut just because of the "what ifs." Andrew was convinced that we were going to need to fire our OB that day. We could both see the concern in her eyes and she certainly wasn't making labor less stressful on me. It was so nice to have a supportive nurse. I had an IV put in to get a dose of antibiotics since I was GBS positive, but as soon as they ran through, we were unhooked from the IV.  I didn't want anything messing with my natural birth so I was happy to be IV-free fairly quickly. I spent most of the afternoon - between contractions - reassuring my doctor that everything was okay. Every time baby would move and the monitors would go crazy, the doctor would come running into the room, and my sweet nurse would calmly readjust the monitors and everyone would relax again. Instead of laboring on the birth ball much or standing much, I spent most of my labor time sitting up in bed because everyone was so concerned with baby staying on the monitor and it was easier to be on the bed than having the monitor adjusted every two minutes. Not great "freedom of movement" ad is recommended for VBACS and all laboring mothers, but there was only so much I could do.

At one point I decided to labor on my knees leaning on my bed and baby's heart rate dropped dramatically. It was hovering around 90 and wouldn't recover. Eight people came running in hammering me with questions "do you feel okay? is anything different?" No... I reassured them... the baby just moved when I moved. As soon as I turned back around, his heart rate (which wasn't actually dropping - the monitor had just started picking up mine instead) went back to normal and everyone chilled out.

By 3 p.m., I was anxious to know how we had progressed so I had the doc check me. She reported that I was at a stretchy 8 and fully effaced. She told me that if I had the urge to push, it would be okay to do so.  We talked about breaking my waters to speed things up a bit, but I wasn't ready for the pushing stage. I was convinced that a 2-week overdue baby was going to be huge and pushing was always my least favorite part of labor.

But as the minutes ticked by, I was getting sick of my OB being nervous, and I kept worrying about my big kids at school not having any news about the baby yet. So I finally agreed to having my water broken. It was stained a bit with meconium, which was not surprising for such a late baby. They had the NICU on call just in case. After they broke my water, the flurry of hospital birth prep began. Warmers turned on, instrument trays brought in and readied, plastic coverings placed appropriately, doctor and nurses "suiting up" with covering and gloves. Etc., Etc.  Even though this was my fourth vaginal delivery, I found myself fascinated with the amount of stuff a hospital requires to catch a baby. I was able to get back on my knees after they broke my water and I soon started to feel the urge to push.  As is the case whenever a mom reports "a pushy feeling" suddenly the room was FILLED with nurses and staff awaiting the newest arrival.

Pushing this time was brutal. Partly... I was in my head thinking how big this kid must be since he was 2 weeks past his due date. And partly... because a week prior my sub OB had told me about a mom who ruptured while pushing. It's hard to relax and push when you are freaking out about stuff.

This pushing stage definitely took longer than with my first VBAC, and it was the only point in labor that I felt really out of control. It felt the closest to a Hollywood depiction of labor as I've ever experienced. I remember my hair being all up in my face, and I suddenly felt like the room was a million degrees. And yelling... There was lots of yelling.  Andrew stayed right next to me holding my hand and encouraging me the whole time. He told me later, because I was too out of it to remember, that the only point of the whole day that scared him was when the nurses told me that I needed to really push to get baby out... like something might be wrong. But I don't remember them even saying that to me. All told this "hardest part of delivery" only lasted maybe 10 minutes, but it felt like a lot longer than that.

At the end of the massive struggle that is pushing, the final push brings the most amazing relief. Andrew exclaimed, "It's a boy!" with tears I his eyes, but since I had delivered on my knees facing the bed, I didn't see our sweet little boy until they pushed him between my legs and had me grab him. I remember being confused as to how I was supposed to hold him while his cord was still intact and attached to the placenta that hadn't delivered yet and turn myself around to a sitting position whilst attached to the blood pressure cuff, but we somehow figured it out. The strangest thing about Xavier's birth was the feelings I had once he delivered. With Greta, my first VBAC, I felt caught up in swirling cloud of joy and amazement... But with Xavier the predominant feeling was just relief. The most unbelievable feeling of "Thank God that's over!" that I've ever experienced. In pondering these thoughts over the past few weeks I've realized they came from a combination of being 2 weeks overdue and having to fight the system without my supportive OB at my side. I feel a little robbed of that joyous feeling that normally comes with birth. That feeling that I'm quite sure I would have had if the last 2 weeks of pregnancy hadn't been filled with constant worry about OB and hospital rules and recommendations. In my dreams, I would have accidentally delivered sweet Xavy all by myself in my home in my bathtub... But the practical side of me wouldn't go for that because the "what ifs" in my case are all too real.

Xavier Ray was born in the hospital at 3:43 pm on the very last day he could have been born naturally. My 9 lb 8 oz boy came out healthy and beautiful and screaming like a banshee. He wasn't interested in nursing at all for almost 12 hours which was very foreign to me after successfully nursing 3 of his siblings right from the get go. Lactation said he had swallowed too much mucus during birth and his belly was already full. He definitely got the hang of nursing by day two. His four bigs love him to pieces and fight over who gets to hold him next. Though he was the first kid that I was so nervous about adding to the family, he fits so perfectly and I now can't imagine life without him.

I got to see my real obstetrician at my 6 week check up today. He's recovering wonderfully from his heart surgery and it was so fun to share my birth story with him. He chuckled as I recounted how nervous his partner was. He told me that he would have let me go to 43 weeks if baby still looked good which amazed me. I'm not sure I would have been mentally stable enough to be pregnant another whole week. He also mentioned how he'd try not to have heart issues next time I did this... To which I rolled my eyes and said, "Next time?!" But if I've learned anything from this pregnancy journey, it's that Gods plans are much greater than our own. So He'll open my heart to a number 6 if he needs us to have one. And if Xavier is the last of the U kids... I will savor every moment of his babyhood.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Today I listened...

It was a normal morning. Just like every other. Get out of bed to the sound of husband waking up the big kids for school. Rush around to get ready for work. Make sure everyone has their homework and their books. Remember if we're picking up anyone for the carpool. Grab some breakfast, brush some hair and out the door I go with the two school kids. Drop them off. Get to work. Try to smash a ton of work into the short 2 hours that I'm there before I have to hurriedly leave so dear husband can get to the job that actually puts food on the table.

About thirty minutes into my work routine, I heard it. There was this tiny little nudge. It wasn't audible. Just a small hint in the back of my mind. The nudge was reminding me that on this particular morning, daily Mass was happening during my work schedule, just down the hall, and I had time to go. Or did I? Ads to finish... Articles to edit... I still needed to find that file... But the nudge pushed a little harder. "Mass just down the hall starts in 30 minutes. You should go." Ugh. So much to do. It's only daily Mass. "But daily Mass by yourself. Without a baby crying. Or a kid's nose running. Or a preschooler asking if it was over. The kind of Mass where you could pray!" Ugh... Fine. I resigned myself to go. Three minutes before Mass began, I figured that I must need the grace since this nudge wouldn't quit so I hurried down the hallway to the familiar chapel that I used to spend lots of time in before the babies came along and I became a mostly-stay-at-home mommy.

And there He was. My beloved. Waiting, ever so patiently, for me to join him again. My Lord, still happy to see me despite the many many times I didn't listen to the nudge. And those 25 minutes were, by far, the most fulfilling of my day. I took those 25 minutes and held them close the rest of the day. And you know what? Life wasn't so hard to manage today. My temper didn't flare when the 4 year old refused a nap. I didn't wig out at joining the big kids at school for lunch without my husband's help to keep an eye on the littles. Life was really okay today. I learned that I need to listen to that nudge more often. Because the Spirit is always talking even when we pretend we can't hear. And he always knows best.