Baby #4: 32 and 1/2 Weeks

I am so happy to be passed the 32 week mark! Last weekend I was utterly convinced Baby was going to be born before Monday (the day I hit 32). It was purely psychological, apart from a few random contractions, and I made it to Monday just fine, with Baby still in my belly. But let me back up a little…

Just before 31 weeks I started having some abdominal pain which I suspected to be related to contractions somehow. After two days of off and on pain, I started having clear contractions lasting about one minute, about five minutes apart. They never lasted long, so I didn’t expect Baby to come right away, but I was definitely concerned. This sort of thing started about a week and a half before Paul was born, and we weren’t hoping to have Baby come earlier than Paul.

At my last doctor’s appointment, a few days after contractions started, my doctor noticed some prelabor signs. Baby is head down, and his/her head is getting lower. There is also some effacement going on, probably from all those contractions. I’ve been taking it easy, more or less, as I have been for several weeks now. However, we aren’t putting our whole lives on hold this time. I’m still homeschooling Lydia and Dan is still at work all day. I just try to rest when I need to and avoid lifting heavy things as much as possible. I’m cooking the easiest meals I can think of and my 5-week meal plan (repeating the same few meals over and over), posted on the fridge and crossed off as each meal passes, has become my count down to Baby.

After the last ultrasound, the contractions stopped. About a week later I began to feel more pressure, but only occasionally. I’m guessing that has more to do with Baby’s position than anything else, so I just try to lie down when I notice it.

Meanwhile, we are getting excited to meet Baby! I’m only 17 days from the gestation when Paul was born, and less than five weeks from FULL TERM. I’ve finally packed my hospital bag. I wrote out a Birth Plan and stashed that in my purse along with my camera, so we’re not without either one no matter when Baby comes. We’ve lined up some babysitters for the kids too. So all I really have left to do is pack a bag for the kids and, when we get closer to 35 weeks, set up Baby’s bassinet.

I’m still craving almond milk, and have a cup every night. (We’re actually out right now, so I’m thinking the weekly Meijer run is happening tonight!) Other cravings come and go, nothing too major. My joints are all getting nice and loose, which makes it hard to sleep and lie down for very long. Between the joints and constant bathroom runs, I’m getting up several times a night some nights now. I’m trying to be disciplined to go to bed early, and I can tell my body needs the extra rest. When I’m not lying down I have an almost constant sore back, something new for me. My babies never got big enough for that before. πŸ™‚ I’m not complaining though! A little sore back and trouble sleeping are far better than leaving Baby in the NICU every night!

I’ve mentioned this in my Instagram posts, but I’ll say it again here. It’s starting to sink in that there’s really going to be a Little Person coming home from the hospital soon. The pregnancy has been so full of medical stuff, praying, waiting, hoping, and taking it easy, that it’s not hard to forget that fact. Lately I’ve been thinking more about our names, imagining Baby and even having Baby dreams. Lydia is practically counting down the days too.

My next appointment is Tuesday, and soon we’ll be going every week for visits. I never know if I’ll have a chance to write another blog update, but mini updates will definitely be in my Instagram pictures. I so appreciate everyone who has been thinking of us and praying for us throughout the last weeks. God has been so kind and is, once again, answering our many prayers.

Baby #4: 28 1/2 Week Pregnancy Update

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Here’s a picture of Baby at 27 weeks. It’s not the easiest to decipher. Baby’s face is sideways with the chin on the left and forehead on the right. The brightest white patch near the middle is Baby’s right cheek and just to the right of that you can see Baby’s right eye and nose as dark spots. Above Baby’s head is one hand and below the chin is the other, both made into fists.

It’s hard to believe I’m already at the point in this pregnancy when Abby was born! I don’t know how often I’m going to be able to give updates, but since I have a few free minutes this afternoon, I wanted to catch everyone up a little.

Things are going smoothly and so far Baby has stayed put. πŸ™‚

I’m up to having appointments every two weeks now (starting this Tuesday) and so far, my doctor hasn’t seen any reason to feel alarmed that Baby might be coming soon. That means I haven’t been put on bed rest! We’ve been getting ultrasounds at every visit to check on Baby’s size and heartbeat, but also to check for signs that my body is preparing for labor. Last visit was the first time we could notice any signs, but they were subtle and not too concerning. (Whew!)

Originally our doctor predicted this Baby would make it 35-37 weeks and we were hoping for 37. However, Baby has measured half to one week big at every ultrasound since the beginning of my second trimester, so it seems likely that Baby might come around 36 weeks. That would put Baby’s birthday the week of Thanksgiving.

Baby is probably closing in on three pounds now (Abby was two pounds and fifteen ounces when she was born), and while that’s not huge, I’m carrying Baby entirely on my right side. Things are getting pretty tight over there. Along with the growing belly, I’m back to some of my less convenient pregnancy symptoms: nausea and food aversions. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling to eat. I’ve also been feeling weak and sometimes clammy, but my blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood count are all normal. I’ve been trying to drink more water, hoping that might be the culprit, but I’m not sure it’s making much of a difference yet.

This is the first time in a pregnancy that I’m feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions. With Paul, and only with Paul, I started having contractions a week and a half before he was born. But those were all quite painful so I constantly thought I was in labor. These contractions aren’t painful, and it’s completely normal to be experiencing them at this point. My first contractions were about a week ago (27 weeks) and I’ve started noticing them more this week.

I’ve been able to keep up with my usual routine, including homeschooling Lydia now, and hopefully potty training Abby next week. We’ll see how that goes. Even though I’ve been feeling nauseous, I’ve still been craving almond milk, sugary sweets, and fruit. I relish my nightly glass of almond milk, try to ignore the sweet cravings (but sometimes I think Baby NEEDS a chocolate chip cookie), and eat as much fruit as I can without depleting the whole fruit bowl in one day.

The milestones are coming pretty quickly now! I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s appointment, where we’ll check one more time if my body looks like it’s preparing for labor. After 30 weeks it’s too hard to tell, since it’s normal to start getting ready for labor at that point.

Baby #4: Halfway There!

Between all of our summer activities, preparing for school this fall, and keeping up with the Little Ones, this pregnancy is flying by! It definitely helps to know that Paul made it to 35 weeks. Our doctor is very unconcerned and expects us to make it even longer this time. I can honestly say I am (now that the first trimester is over) enjoying this pregnancy more than any of the others.

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This is the famous “alien” shot. Baby is looking right at you with his/her head on the right and is holding up his/her hand over his/her chest. You can even see his/her little eyes.

At 20 1/2 weeks now, I’m not big enough to be uncomfortable, and I’m no longer feeling terribly sick. I have had some more nausea this week, but nothing compared to what it was before. I’ve also had my first evenings of pregnancy insomnia. Two nights in a row I lay in bed completely wide awake until I finally gave up and got up. After a couple hours, a snack, and lots of reading, I eventually was able to go back to sleep. Since then, I’ve cut my naps shorter and I’ve been sleeping better. Soon the days will be here when I’ll be exhausted and unable to sleep for other reasons. πŸ˜‰

Pregnancy cravings are always interesting. I haven’t had any uncontrollable cravings lately, though there have been nights when I really wanted a brownie or some Ramen noodles, or the one night when I really wanted a chili dog. Mostly I’ve been craving fruit. Dan has been buying me my own little batch of nectarines every week and I eat one almost every day. I’ve also been craving almond milk. Almost every day, at some point, I have a cold mugful and it always hits the spot.

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There’s Baby’s arm and leg!

Prenatal visits have been going well. Baby is measuring about right for his/her due date so far, and was head down at our 20-week ultrasound last week! Good job Baby! I’ve mentioned this before, but people keep asking, so I’ll say it again. We are not planning on finding out if we’re having a boy or girl until s/he arrives. I just loved getting through labor and delivery and being handed my baby when I found out Paul was a boy for the first time, and I’m looking forward to being surprised again.

There have been no signs of early labor, so far. There was about a week of concerning symptoms (I’ll spare you the details) but a quick trip to check on Baby’s heartbeat calmed our fears, and our doctor suspects it was just aftermath from my surgery around week 13. I’m only going to the doctor once a month, compared to once every other week with Paul, so everything feels very laid back and happy.

I had grand hopes of cooking three months of freezer meals again for this baby, either for time in the NICU, time on bed rest, or time after Baby is born. I only got through a small fraction of my list before the first trimester nausea hit too hard to keep going. So, our chest freezer is full of soups, crock pot meals, and some homemade “Larabars” and muffins, but that’s about the extent of my emergency planning for this pregnancy. I am just hoping things continue to progress smoothly and I won’t have to be on bed rest for two months (or at all) come fall.

It’s just so hard to believe how far along Baby is already. I like to pack my hospital bag at 24 weeks, since that’s the age Baby could survive if s/he dared to come that early, and that’s only 3 1/2 weeks away! Hopefully, though, it’ll be another 16 weeks or so before this Little One arrives.

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Baby #4: First Trimester Pregnancy Update

In case you missed the Instagram announcement, Dan and I are excited to be expecting Baby #4 sometime this fall/winter. Our due date is December 19th, and our doctor has high hopes that we’ll make it to 37 weeks this time (a TERM baby!) which would put Baby’s birthday around the end of November (November 28th).

At our initial doctor visit, I was less than six weeks along but we could see a tiny little heart beat pulse on the ultrasound machine. I’ve never had an ultrasound that early before. It was hard to recognize our little girl/guy.

The first question everyone asks when they hear the news is: “Are you going to find out this time?” You may know already, we found out ahead of time that Abby and Lydia were girls, but we waited to be surprised with Paul. I loved being surprised and Dan didn’t mind the wait, so we’re waiting again this time. I guess you’ll all just have to wait with us. I have an inkling suspicion that it’s a girl, but, for the record, I’ve been wrong with every single baby so far. πŸ˜›

So far, this pregnancy has been the most difficult, with more nausea and food aversions than my other three. Then again, I’m also chasing around three Little Ones this time and I don’t get nearly as long of naps. I’ve been particularly disgusted by lentils, and for several weeks I couldn’t tolerate most foods. There haven’t been a ton of strong cravings, mostly little ones: ice in my water, nectarines, and simple sandwiches with tomato, mustard, and lettuce. I’ve felt well enough to handle breakfasts, but then I’ve been unable to eat much of anything come lunch time. After nap time I’ve felt the worst, and I usually haven’t felt better until after the kids are in bed. Then Dan teases me while I make whatever sort of dinner sounds good to me at the time. Lately, I’ve had a humongous craving for cottage cheese.

I had my second prenatal appointment at eight weeks and everything looked good. (That’s the ultrasound in the Instagram pic.) My third appointment was at twelve weeks, but Baby was measuring closer to thirteen. That was also my pre-op appointment for a minor surgery performed a week and a half later. It’s the same surgery I had with Paul, and the procedure that will hopefully help me carry this baby even longer. My next appointment isn’t until July 12th (17 weeks).

So, other than the difficulty eating, this pregnancy really is flying by. The kids keep me so busy and our summer is just so full of activities, that right now I’m distracted enough that I’m not counting the days. I’ve been trying to cook and freeze meals here and there, but it’s been nothing compared to last time because I’ve been struggling to cook much of anything anyway. Hopefully we won’t really need those freezer meals until after Baby is born!

Paul’s Birth Story

Ever since Lydia was born, I have enjoyed hearing others’ birth stories. Some are encouraging, inspiring, or at times, intimidating, but all have been useful in preparing me for another birth. So this is Paul’s birth story. Here’s my disclaimer: this is going to be long (for the most part) unedited. If you don’t enjoy hearing lots of medical sorts of details, this post may not be for you.

To understand the full impact of this story, it may be helpful to read (or reread) this post from a year and a half ago. I recently went back and read it and was so surprised at how similar the beginning is to Paul’s story. God is so kind.

Monday Morning

Monday (March 16) started off in a pretty routine way. We woke up, ate breakfast, and Dan went out to the garage to exercise. While he was out, I snapped this picture, my 35 week photo. I never thought I could make it to 35 weeks and we were thrilled to get this far. In fact, when Abby was born my doctor told me I would probably never go past 32 weeks. Our current doctor told us a 35 weeker is usually a “take home baby” and we were thankful for even a chance to bring Baby home without spending time in the NICU.

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We were running low on leftovers so we had a pretty small lunch. I had just a peanut butter, banana sandwich, figuring I would grab a more substantial snack after my nap and dinner-time would come soon enough. After lunch, one of the girls from our church came over for a couple of hours to clean our floors and play with the kids outside, since I have been unable to do those things for a while now. They stayed out extra late and didn’t come in and get settled down for naps until after 2:00.

I was chatting with Dan (who happened to be home that day) while he washed dishes. “Aren’t you going to go take a nap?”, he asked me. I told him I was headed that way, just wanted to print off a couple of things from the computer. I had spent the morning tidying up our kitchen from the months I’ve spent “taking it easy”, and I had just finished and wanted to move our printer upstairs so the counter would be clear. I printed my documents and was just looking through them when I felt a big gush.

Just a second later I felt another gush, and then a third. My water had broke, and it took a moment to realize what was happening. I hesitantly tried to get Dan’s attention while he worked away at a particularly dirty pot. As soon as he knew what was going on he sprang into action, gathering items for the hospital, calling our babysitters, getting the girls up from their short nap. I was all but helpless because I was leaking so much fluid and I didn’t want to move around and risk speeding up the coming labor.

After half an hour, what seemed like a very long half hour, we were in the car on our way to the babysitters, and then the hospital. Contractions had started but they weren’t coming in any predictable pattern yet, they just hurt.

3:45 PM

By 3:45 the contractions were coming more regularly and we were in the waiting room of the family birth center. I was excited, restless, and nervous, so we just stood in the waiting room holding hands and waiting to be called in. A nurse came and got us settled in our triage room, where we spent the next two hours.

I was amazed at how peaceful everything was. In the past our room has been full of medical staff poking and prodding me in a million ways. This time there was just one midwife entering my data on the computer and hooking me up to be monitored for the next 20 minutes (which turned out to be two hours). This was the first time I got to see a graph of a baby’s heartbeat and my contractions during labor. It was almost fun, watching the coming contraction and then seeing how far apart they were (3 minutes) and how long they were lasting (1 1/2 to 2 minutes). I thought to ask Dan to take a picture but by the time he got the camera ready I was right in the middle of a contraction. We took the picture anyway.

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We gave the midwife a copy of my birth plan, which was as simple as I could keep it while still being meaningful:

-Please direct any possible questions to Dan.
-Unless it becomes medically necessary I would like not to have an IV.
-I would like to have as natural of a delivery as possible.
-If at all possible, I would like to hold the baby immediately after delivery.

The midwife informed us that at 4:00 our doctor had started a c-section and we would have to wait at least half an hour before he could come do anything.

Now, back at 16 weeks, I had a surgery to put stitches in the cervix, adding support that would hopefully enable things to stretch and Baby to stay put longer. My fear during our time in triage was that I would dilate too quickly and the stitches would tear. So we waited and prayed and watched my contractions on the graph. Dan named the unitless graph, the “Graph of Awesomness” and let me know when my “awesomeness” was “off the charts”.

By 5:00 I was starting to feel the stitches pulling and we kept waiting to hear some word from our doctor. A very sweet resident came in and chatted with us for a while. She did an ultrasound to check that Baby was head-down, and she told us that she could remove the stitches if our doctor took too long.

5:30 PM

Our doctor rushed in around 5:30 and sat down with the resident immediately to start taking out the stitches. The procedure took longer and hurt more than I was anticipating. Dan held one arm while a nurse held the other and both kept streams of encouragement coming as I scrunched up my face and braced myself through each painful poke. Finally the stitches came out and I was able to get up and walk to our labor and delivery room. Much to my dismay, I was only dilated to 1 1/2.

As we walked to the room where Baby would hopefully be born, I drilled our nurse with questions about 35 weekers. Would I get to hold the Baby? Would I be able to have a “normal” delivery? She told me that Baby had to be a certain weight (4 pounds, 9 ounces?) to stay in our room. The resident had predicted Baby was probably 6 – 6 1/2 pounds, so that was encouraging. I could have a normal delivery in a normal labor and delivery room, but there would have to be a special team present to evaluate Baby and decide if s/he needed to be taken to the NICU.

6:30

When we got to our room a new nurse took over and chatted with us for a long time. I was leaning against the bed waiting for her to finish so I could try to get into some sort of more comfortable position. She kept offering me all sorts of natural pain relief methods: bean bags, birthing balls, the shower, heating pads…I was overwhelmed and just wanted her to leave. I knew it would help to move around but I could hardly bring myself to do that, so I asked for the birthing ball, figuring I’d been using it over the past couple of weeks and maybe I would have some idea what to do with it.

During the entire labor I had Philippians 4:13 playing in my head to a tune I learned when I was a kid:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do. All things through. Christ who strengthens me. Christ who strengthens me.

Because this was going to be a VBAC, I had to be hooked up to the monitor continuously and I had to have a hep lock so I could be hooked up to an IV quickly if that became necessary. I asked for some water, determined to stay hydrated and avoid that IV. I was feeling the contractions almost entirely in my back and legs, so the nurse showed me how I could sit on the ball and lean forward on the bed to help with the back labor. Dan was a champ and started massaging my lower back. When the contractions became more intense he would press hard on my back, which helped significantly with the pain. Then in between contractions it was back to massaging. As soon as a contraction would end I would whisper, “Water” and Dan would grab my ice water and hold it for me to take a sip, then I would relax for about thirty seconds before another contraction came.

7:30 PM

There was a shift change and our new nurse came in and brought a heading pad for my back. Dan and I were in our groove now, but wondering how long labor would last. We were spoiled with Lydia and the entire labor was 8 hours. I was starving, but couldn’t bear to eat anything, and Dan was hungry too. Those pb sandwiches were not holding us over very well. Occasionally we would discuss the likelihood that Baby would be born early enough for Dan to run out and get us some Qdoba.

When Lydia was born I didn’t make a sound until very close to her actual delivery. So when I started moaning through the contractions we thought for sure we must be close. We kept waiting for the signs of transition. Dan was sure I would throw up, and I kept waiting for that moment when I would feel the urge to push. Time seemed to be moving so slowly. I know, it’s kind of pathetic when others have labors that last days, but like I said, we’ve been spoiled.

8:00 PM

I’m guessing on the times here, because I was to absorbed in labor to pay much attention to the clock. I would occasionally check it to guess at the likelihood of Qdoba though. I was so hungry. Dan kept asking if I was going to throw up and if I felt pressure. Both the nurse and Dan could tell by my behavior that the contractions were getting really intense, but I still didn’t feel any urge to push.

The pain reached a new level and I started standing up for the contractions, leaning forward on the bed. Afterward I would collapse back onto the ball and dread the next one. The pain was so intense I bit my tongue to resist yelling out, “God, help me”, and I was silently praying all along. Although I was fully aware of the things happening all around, I couldn’t respond to them. When Dan asked me questions I didn’t respond. When he tried doing something different, like rubbing my back higher up, it was all I could do to grab his arms and move them back down. I kept looking back at the contraction chart to see how much time I had before another one came. I guess at this point, I was in transition.

The nurse and Dan made the call that it was time to check me, something I had been avoiding because I was terrified I would only be dilated to 4. But I did what they told me, hoping for some encouraging news. I climbed on the bed and a resident came in. I was dilate to 8, fully effaced, and Baby was at station zero. He said there was a little bit of the cervix over Baby’s head.

The nurse suggested that if I roll on my side and try another position, it might be enough to pull the cervix away from Baby and speed things up a little. I was all to happy to oblige. I think it was two contractions later when the nurse panicked a little because she saw Baby’s head.

She hit an “emergency staff” button and a team of doctors, residents, nurses, and pediatricians came storming into the room “like a SWAT team” (said Dan). I didn’t know if I was supposed to be pushing or not, so I didn’t try to push, but I didn’t fight it either. But it became pretty apparent to us all that Baby was coming whether or not I was “supposed” to be pushing.

Our doctor told us his part of the story later. Normally if he has a patient dilated to 1 1/2 at 5:00 in the evening, he doesn’t stick around. He knew my history with Lydia’s speedy labor so he grabbed some dinner at the hospital and was just sitting down to read a book when he got the page. He came walking to my room, not aware of how quickly things had been progressing. As he walked into my room, he saw Baby’s head.

I asked Dan later how long I was pushing. “Three minutes” was his guess. The nurse said I pushed through two contractions. I remember pushing the head out and hearing the nurse suggest I curl up to feel the head. Not a chance. I was just going to get that baby out. I pushed once more and was surprised that Baby wasn’t coming. The head was out, after all. It turns out Baby came down so fast and hard that he didn’t have time to straighten out. Dan says his knees were still curled up to his chest when he was born.

Then it was all over. Just like that. Baby was placed on my stomach and Dan cut the cord. Somebody said, “You have a little boy.” We were shocked. Both of us had convinced ourselves Baby was a girl. The pediatricians took Baby to the warmer and started their evaluations with lots of exclamations about how bruised his face and feet were from the delivery.

The doctor and resident began stitching up some second degree tears, a process that took half an hour and was miserable for me. I had an episiotomy with Lydia and this time I tore in the same spot, where the skin was still weak. Sadly, as soon as Baby was ready to be held, I couldn’t hold him. I was in too much pain as they stitched me. So they kept him on the warmer and waited for my stitches to be complete.

I remember looking over at the bed, thrilled to have a little boy this time, and thinking, “He’s a Paul.” We had discussed a few baby names but hadn’t picked one out yet. When they handed him back to me, Dan said, “I kind of like the name Paul.” And his name was chosen.

Then I got to hold him. This was a moment I’ve wanted since Lydia was born. I’ve prayed for it more times than I could count. I almost cried just thinking about the possibility as we got further along in the pregnancy. And God made it happen. It was so happy.

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Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

We could have made it to Qdoba but it just felt wrong to have Dan leave me or Paul that soon after birth. So we just waited. I had brought some energy bites, made and frozen long ago, and they were lifesavers in those hours following birth. Much better than the hospital’s jello or popsicles.

11:15 PM

When our two hours in recovery were over, the nurse helped me to a wheel chair. I got the much loved heated blanket and the even more loved swaddled Baby and they wheeled me to the Mother-Baby Unit. As we rolled along, and I marveled at the birth story we got to have this time, the hospital played a little lullaby announcing Paul’s birth.

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He was perfect. Twice the size of Abigail at her birth. Much older than Abby or Lydia. Able to eat and breath on his own. And he had hair.

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It’s a Boy!

I am pleased to introduce the newest member of the Taylor family:

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Paul Kerry Taylor
Born Monday, March 16, 2015 at 8:39 PM
5 pounds and 14 ounces
19 inches long

Paul is the most handsome little baby boy with already-brownish eyes, his Daddy’s facial features, and more hair than his 18-month-old sister. We were so blessed to be able to bring him home on Wednesday evening at just two days old and he has been busy making all of us so happy.

I am eager to share more about the details surrounding Paul’s birth and first days, but I’ll have to ask you all to be patient while we rest, recover, and adjust to a very new experience for us: life at home with a newborn.

False Alarms and Extra Days: 34 Week Pregnancy Update

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After last week’s update I thought to myself, “What will I post next week?” I had no doctor appointments scheduled and nothing eventful seemed to be happening. Then Friday night hit and Baby has kept us on our toes ever since.

I’m going to go ahead and post this tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow just in case Baby does decide to come and everyone is left in the dark. I’ll try to keep posting updates on Facebook as things change.

Friday Night

Most of Friday passed pretty uneventfully. After the kids were in bed I started to have a lot of pain, not contractions, but achy and crampy pain. It reached an intensity that made me drop everything I was doing to just focus on getting through it. I finally found some relief by sitting on the floor on my knees and leaning on Dan’s exercise ball, rocking back and fourth. Once it had passed a little, I hurried to bed.

Saturday

I had two consecutive dreams Saturday morning in which I was at the hospital and in labor. As I started to wake up I realized I really was having a contraction. My other girls came pretty quick once labor started, but labor always started when my water broke, so this was new for me. Still, the contraction felt like labor, so I told myself I should just go back to sleep and get rest for the big “Baby day”.

I only lay in bed for a few minutes before I knew there was no hope of falling asleep. I was too excited. I headed downstairs, whipped out my phone’s stop watch, and started timing the contractions as I read a book. They were about 15 minutes apart and continued for two hours. I got things ready to go to the hospital, made breakfast for Dan and myself, and waited for Dan to wake up. Suddenly I realized the contractions had stopped, so I headed back up to bed at 6:30.

At 7:30 I woke up with another contraction and gave Dan the update. I called our parents and waited but after only 2 contractions, they stopped again.

Now, back at 16 weeks we had a cerclage put in (stitches in the cervix to add support) and my big fear has been waiting too long to get to the hospital and having those stitches tear me apart as I dilate. My pervious labors have been relatively short and I have always been dilated to 1 or 2 cm by the time we get to the hospital (rushing, of course, because our babies were born so early). So I gave our doctor a call Saturday morning to find out if there was anything we should do. He told me not to worry about coming in until contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart and didn’t stop. In fact, the whole conversation left my feeling a little silly as if there was no reason for me to call in the first place.

During the girls’ naps the contractions started again. This time they were 10 minutes apart and soon they were only 5. Dan was washing dishes and I told him to go ahead and take a short nap. I figured we would get ready to go to the hospital as soon as he got up. Eventually I called the doctor again and he told me to wait another hour before coming in. And once again, the contractions lasted about 2 hours and stopped again. And the rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully.

Saturday night I had the same pains as Friday, but I managed to get to bed and fall asleep. At 3 AM I woke up, not with contractions, but that achy, crampy belly that hurt just about as much. I came downstairs again and resumed my favorite exercise ball position wondering how long this would all go on. After about an hour I made it back to bed and back to sleep.

Sunday

Sunday we were in a dilemma. I had missed the last two weeks of church because we’ve been sick. But we were half expecting Baby to come at any moment. I reasoned that I could just sit in the back with my feet up and suffer through any contractions while I would have the sermon and visiting to distract me from the pain. Besides, our church meets down the road from the hospital and all of our babysitters would be at church anyway.

We made it to church and through the service with just a couple contractions. By the time we left I was having that unpleasant crampy, achy business going on again so as soon as we got home I lay down under a soft blanket on the couch. Dan got lunch ready but by that time the warmth of the blanket felt so good I decided to just doze off while everyone else ate. To my surprise, I woke up a few minutes later feeling pretty good. That was the beginning of almost 24 hours of welcome relief. I took a longer nap and we enjoyed our time at home with no contractions. I even slept ok that night.

Monday

Monday I thought things were surely coming to a lull. I had no major pains all morning and no contractions. After lunch the aches and pains started coming back. The girls went down for their naps late and I woke up around 3:00 with an intense contraction. After a few more, I went back to timing them. They started at 7 minutes apart, then 5, then 2. After about an hour they suddenly stopped again. Ten minutes later they started back up, more consistently every 5 minutes. Dan suggested I call the doctor (again!), but this time a nurse answered. She passed my message along to the doctor, who told me to head in to the hospital and he would meet me there. We called the baby sitters, grabbed our hospital bag and were sitting in the car when we decided to call again because my contractions had stopped. He told us we could just stay home and that we should schedule an appointment first thing tomorrow morning so I could stop worrying about that silly cerclage.

Now I’m sitting at home while the girls go for a walk with Dan (to visit our babysitters, because Lydia was devastated when she found out she wouldn’t be going over to their house after all). Part of me wishes my water would just break so I would know it was time to go in. Part of me is grateful for any extra days we can get Baby to stay in there. 35 weeks would be a “take home baby”! That’s only a week away! And part of me also realizes I’ve had more hours of contractions with this Baby then I did with Abigail or Lydia’s labors, and I’m not even in labor yet!

So continues our adventure. I will try to keep the updates coming. Maybe Baby will come tonight. Maybe Baby will wait to 37 weeks. We’ll just have to wait and see. πŸ™‚

Acknowledging Him

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The past few weeks have been a little dreary around here. The temperatures have been very low. We’ve been down with colds and have had to stay home from church and Bible study. I’ve gone whole weeks without stepping foot outside, and sometimes life on the couch gets pretty dull.

Lately, however, things have been changing. The sun is shining in a way that feels like spring. Temperatures are above zero again and are expected to rise above freezing (at least occasionally) within a week. We are past the achy, stuffy, gloomy colds. I just saw a little bird land on a tree branch outside the window where I am typing this. And every morning is a small celebration that we have made it yet another day with Baby. As we enjoy the coming spring and delayed coming of Baby, I thought now would be a good time to do something I have been planning for a long while: Acknowledge Him.

In the fall, when we found out we were expecting Baby #3, I spent some good earnest time in prayer. I knew we would have medical decisions to make, medical bills to pay, and likely, weeks in the NICU to endure. As I poured this all out to the Lord, He brought a verse to my mind, and He has brought it to my mind over and over again throughout this pregnancy:

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Today I’d like to “acknowledge Him”, that is, to publicly “pay attention” to some of the ways God has answered our prayers throughout this pregnancy (so far!).

Finding a Doctor

My last Doctor was good, but she retired. So, when we found out we were pregnant, we tried to set up an appointment with another doctor, recommended to us by a friend. No matter how many times, or what time of day, we tried to call, we just couldn’t get connected with this doctor. I was eager to get an appointment and hear a plan of action, and things just weren’t working out. Finally, as we prayed about it, we decided to set a deadline. If we couldn’t get an appointment scheduled by that Friday, we would go with another doctor (also recommended by friends). Friday came and went and there was no appointment.

Dan called Friday afternoon to try to schedule an appointment with our second-choice doctor and the receptionist answered and set up an appointment for the following Monday morning. As it turns out, this doctor has much experience with high-risk pregnancies and even women in my exact condition. His knowledge and experience have been so helpful, and we are grateful to be working with him.

19 Week Contractions

When I was 19 weeks along, we had Bible study at our house one night. During the singing I felt the somewhat familiar pain of a contraction. I immediately panicked and told Dan, who told me to go upstairs, lay down, and drink a lot of water. For a scary couple of hours I was afraid Baby was going to come that night. It was too early for Baby to survive, to early to do anything, really. The contractions kept coming, irregular but painful. I called a midwife friend of ours and she sweetly prayed with me and advised me to “drink some tea, take a warm shower, and go to bed early”. By the time I was ready for bed, the contractions had stopped and everything went back to normal. Probably, I was dehydrated. Whatever the cause, we are thankful that God was able to ease our fears and stop the contractions.

Flipping Breach Baby

For the first several months of pregnancy, Baby was breech at every single doctor appointment. As much as they say it’s not a concern, I was concerned. We reached a point when I started to worry that Baby wouldn’t flip. I had already been well informed women in my specific circumstances have a higher likelihood that Baby will be breech and need a c-section. And, for several reasons, I did not want another c-section. It was one of my greatest concerns for many weeks.

I started doing some “pregnancy exercises” intended to help Baby flip. Diligently I did my exercises every day. I prayed about it. I asked Dan to pray about it. I prayed with my Bible study ladies about it. Finally, after our big 20-week-ultrasound, I became convinced that Baby was just going to stay breech. I continued my exercises, half-heartedly, and informed Dan that we were probably going to have another c-section Baby. One evening I gave it all over to the Lord, surrendering myself to the truth: God could flip my Baby. If Baby was breech, God had a reason for it. I was still convinced that Baby was breech, but I thought it must be what God wanted.

A couple of nights later I was getting ready for bed when I suddenly felt led to do one particular exercise. I did, and a couple of minutes later I was reading in bed. But now I had a new peace about Baby. It was like I knew that Baby wasn’t going to be breech anymore. On top of that peace, I felt like I should stop doing my “baby flipping exercises”. It was over a week later when I had another ultrasound that we discovered Baby had turned head-down, and has stayed head-down every since.

All the Wrong Times for Baby to Come

There have been several days, even weeks, when we did NOT want Baby to come. My doctor was on vacation one week. Another week the weather was so bad we didn’t want to have to make any emergency drives to the hospital. Last week we were all sick. At another time Dan was working 12+ hour days trying to please his supervisors at work. On top of that, he was doing all the house work and sleeping very little. During each of these times, we have prayed, “Oh please, don’t let Baby come right now!”. And, as you all know, Baby didn’t.

Our 32 Week (and Other) Goal(s)

If you’ve been following this journey at all, you know I have set several goals. Every day is a goal. Every week is a bigger goal. There have been the age-of-viability, age-when-the-girls-were-born, and birth-of-my-nephews goals. My big goal all along was to make it past 32 weeks, and now we are! Each goal has been special for different reasons, and we are so excited for where we are now. We’re looking at a NICU stay of just a couple weeks or less (or none!). For the first time, I probably won’t be on any antibiotics or magnesium during labor. It’s likely that we’ll be able to (at least attempt to) have a natural delivery.

God has been walking this road with us, leading us really. He has answered our prayers day after day. I can’t say for certain that the rest of the our pregnancy, labor, and delivery will go the way I want or am expecting. But I can say that God has “made our paths straight”, and we are more than happy to give Him the glory for the things He has done.

Illness: 33 Week Pregnancy Update

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Last Sunday Abby was sick with a cold. Dan bundled up Lydia and took her off to church while I stayed home and comforted our stuffy little one. Sure enough, she passed it along to me. Tuesday I came down with the cold. Wednesday Lydia started showing symptoms. Friday Dan caught it too. It lasts about a week, so even though it feels like we’ve been stuck and home for a long time, Dan is only halfway through his bout.

I was so concerned that I was going to have Baby while we were all sick, tired, and grumpy. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, since Abby and I are recovered by now. Now if we can just make it until Dan is fully well…

Friday we had another prenatal appointment. Every time we have an appointment and schedule the next one for two weeks out, Dan and I walk away shaking our heads thinking, “We’re never going to make it to the next appointment”. But, so far, we have every time.

Things looked great. Now Baby is measuring exactly average for his/her due date. In the ultrasound we heard a happy heartbeat and saw more of Baby’s spiky hair. Once again, there are no signs of impending labor, I haven’t been having any contractions, and everything looks slow and steady, just the way it should be.

Now that we are just past the 33 week mark, it looks like this may be the first time I won’t have to be on magnesium and antibiotics during labor! Because things have been looking so good, Dan and I have been talking more and more about making it all the way to 37 weeks. Wouldn’t that be crazy? It’s so fun to wait and see how and when Baby will come, now that we are past the scary weeks. March 30 would be 37 weeks, full term, so that is an exciting goal. April 2 is my birthday, so, for all we know, Baby could come on Mommy’s birthday. That would be fun too.

Here are my never ending countdowns:

6 days to 34 weeks (because every week is a milestone)
13 days to 35 weeks, a “take home baby”
27 days to 37 weeks, full term
and just for fun…
30 days until my birthday!

New Goals: 32 Week Pregnancy Update

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Several months ago Dan and I began praying that our baby would not be born until after our church’s annual Fur Rondy (more on that later) and after we reached 32 weeks. So, I could hardly believe it on Friday when we sat through Fur Rondy and Baby stayed put. I was even more excited to wake up yesterday morning realizing that we made it to our 32 week goal!

Lessons from the Couch

We have the “ok” from our doctor for me to start doing a little more, but it’s hard to decide just how much to do when we’ve made it so far already. We haven’t changed much, and during my long days laying on the couch, I’ve started learning some lessons.

The biggest lesson is on complaining. In Philippians, Paul instructs Christians to “do all things without grumbling or disputing…”. I’ve realized lately what a temptation it can be to “grumble” to get some attention and sympathy. It’s not just true for pregnant mommies on bed rest, but for everyone going through anything challenging (which is everyone). I’ve also realized that there is often no glory in not complaining. No one fully understands the trials you’re going through so no one gives you the sympathy you long for. It’s easy to talk about the discomforts of pregnancy, stress of having a NICU baby, inconvenience of getting sick at just the wrong time, weariness of caring for toddlers…or a host of other grumble inducers. So lately, I’ve been seeing that I need to keep my mouth shut and not expect praise for doing it. My reward comes from God alone.

I haven’t really succeeded at this lesson yet. I’m just starting to learn and hopefully in time I’ll be able to apply it.

New Goals

So, now that we’ve made it past 32 weeks…now what? Well, I like to have short term goals and long term goals, and Dan is just hoping for a full-term baby. So here’s what we have:

3 days until the next doctor’s appointment
20 days until 35 weeks and the possibility of not spending time in the NICU (my new big goal)
34 days until 37 weeks, and the possibility of a “normal” delivery and a full-term baby

I can’t believe we’ve made it this far and we’re actually talking about NOT spending time in the NICU. I can’t believe I could actually get to hold my baby the day s/he is born. And I can’t believe I might have to actually pack an outfit for Baby in our hospital bag (which has been packed for over 8 weeks!).

On the other hand, we’re just taking things one day at a time, knowing that Baby could surprise us any day. When you’re ready Baby, we’re ready, but as long as you want to stay put, we’re even happier with that!