Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Birth Story

So this is my birth history:

Baby #1 - 24+ hours of natural labor
Baby #2 - water breaks, no contractions, Group B Strep positive, induce & baby is born 4 hours later
Baby #3 - Group B strep positive again, schedule an induction, water breaks before the scheduled induction, no contractions, induce & baby is born 4 hours later

Supposedly only 10-15% of labors begin with a woman's water breaking. Mine has broken 2 out of 3 times, so this time around I was really hoping to just go into labor the normal way. For this 4th pregnancy, my Group B strep test came back negative so there was no need to schedule an induction. It really looked like Clara was going to be able to come on her own time without the aid of pitocin. (And, since I don't get epidurals, I was really hoping to not have to endure those induced contractions again!) But, no such luck.

I woke up at 4:30am on December 30th thinking my water may have broken. Actually, I dreamed that my water had broken and woke up suddenly expecting the entire bed to be soaked. It wasn't, but there was a slight bit of wetness in my underwear. Did my water break or was it just a little incontinence? I really wasn't sure. Over the next few hours it seemed like there was a little bit more leakage that I didn't think was urine, but it was so little that it was hard to tell. Around 7 am we decided to go into the hospital to check and be sure.

When I told the nurse what I was experiencing she obviously thought it was a false alarm and that we were wasting our time by coming into the hospital. She tested me (they use a piece of litmus paper that turns color in the presence of amniotic fluid) and the test showed positive for amniotic fluid. My water had broken and my instincts were correct. But, no contractions.

We got settled in a room and I was hooked up to an IV. Even though my group B strep test was negative, my doctor still wanted to treat me with IV antibiotics because of my history of being positive. Then we had to wait for a few hours until enough antibiotics were in my system before inducing. The induction was required because of the risk of infection that goes up significantly if the baby is not born within 12 hours of the water breaking.

Those few hours of waiting were very hard on me. I knew we would be meeting Button soon (very exciting!), but it was frustrating to just sit there in the hospital with nothing happening. It gave me too much time to think and I started getting very anxious. I was once again facing an induced labor. I'd done it before, so I knew what to expect and about how long it would take. But, since I had done it before, I also knew how hard those induced contractions were going to be. Sometimes anticipating great pain can be even harder than experiencing the pain itself (at least emotionally). I started to doubt myself and if I could handle the labor without pain medication. I went over the reasons for not medicating in my head over and over again and I knew that I really didn't want an epidural. But, I was still very scared. Actually, more like terrified! I felt so very weak.

I started to pray, crying out to the Blessed Mother for strength and peace. I called on a whole litany of saints, begging for their intercession. I knew I was not strong enough to get through this without the Lord's help and the blessing of His grace.

Within less than half an hour, those desperate prayers were answered. I felt such tremendous peace and all the anxiety was gone. I could do this. One contraction at a time. I just had to focus on one contraction at a time and I'd get there; I'd get to finally meet Button.

The nurses came in and set up the pitocin drip. As they finished, there was knock on the door. Two Eucharistic Ministers from our church were there and wanted to offer me Holy Communion. Would I like to receive? Of course!! I can't imagine a better way to begin labor than by receiving the Body of Christ! I could so positively feel the Lord's presence, that He was going to be there with me and bless me and the baby.

Maybe 15 minutes later there was another knock at the door. This time it was a lady from the pastoral care team at our church. She came in a prayed with us, such wonderful, simple prayers that soothed my soul. Then she blessed us with holy water. First me, then Button in my belly and finally Eric. Now we were ready to have a baby!

I labored for about four hours with my wonderful husband by my side and the contractions did get hard. Very hard. Toward the end of my labor, they were so hard that I lost my ability to control my breathing properly. (That has never happened to me before. Being able to focus on and control my breathing has always been key to getting through my contractions.) I hyperventilated and my face and hands were tingling and by the time Clara was born, my hands had gone completely numb and I couldn't move my fingers at all. They held Clara up, declared, "It's a girl!" and set her on my chest, but I couldn't really hold her because my hands were useless. The nurse had to help me hold her until I finally got feeling back in my hands about 15 minutes later. What a strange experience!

My older kids weren't allowed in the hospital to visit Clara and me since it was flu season. It was so hard to not be able to see all my kids! But, we had a wonderful homecoming two days later and the big kids so love their little sister.

And now my beautiful baby girl is three weeks old. Her birth seems like it happened ages ago and yesterday at the same time. We are so blessed to have her and the support and prayers of wonderful friends and family. God bless you all!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We did it!

We survived mass this morning with just me and the 4 kids. Actually, we didn't just survive, it went about as well as it possibly could!

We arrived early and got settled in our usual pew. (I was hoping to get a close parking spot, but we weren't quite early enough for that. We go to a large parish with a sprawling campus and it's a bit of a hike from our normal parking spot.) Then, this very calm, masculine voice comes over the PA system welcoming everyone and saying, "For those of you who don't know me, I'm John Michael Talbot..."

That's right! John Michael Talbot was at our church this morning and sang a meditation song before mass and a couple more songs at communion. (If you click on the link above to his website you'll see that he even blogged about being at our parish this morning!) He's in the Houston area right now doing some concerts and somehow our pastor ran into him and invited him to come sing at mass. Listening to his beautiful, calm, soothing voice was such a wonderful way to prepare for mass. His calming influence must work on children as well because the kids (especially Gustin) were so much better than normal. Thank the Lord for small blessings!

Clara also slept through the entire mass. I knew that once she woke up she'd want to nurse and I hadn't decided how I was going to deal with that, so I was very thankful that she stayed asleep. Usually I take a nursing baby to the back of church or even to the bathroom and try to nurse as discreetly as I can. I recently bought a fabulous new nursing cover and I was contemplating trying to nurse her with it while in the pew since I couldn't leave all the kids alone to go nurse in the back of church.

What do you other nursing moms do? How do you nurse a baby during mass? Is it taboo to nurse a baby in the pew even if you are completely covered? If you're not a nursing mom, does it freak you out when a mother is nursing a child in public?

Curious minds want to know!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daddy's home!

Eric is home! He'll only be here for about 48 hours before he has to go back for another 2 or 3 days. But, it sure is nice to have him home.

Thank you all for yours prayers, encouragement and advice. You don't know how much it has helped me this week!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's been a little crazy around here...

I guess craziness is to be expected when there are 4 young kids in a house with the youngest being a newborn! :) Clara is a sweet baby and generally only cries when she's either hungry or needs a diaper change. She's awake in the daytime more every day so now we get to see her beautiful eyes. We all just stare at her and laugh at the funny faces she makes. Even though she is my fourth, I just marvel at how little she is. You really do forget what newborns are like!

Things got much more crazy around here when Eric had to leave town on Monday. He's a consultant engineer and when you're a consultant, you have to take work when you can get it. So, he is in western New York state right now fixing a forging press. I have to say, I wasn't too excited about him leaving for an unspecified amount of time when Clara was only 5 days old. But, thankfully, my mom was able to come into town this week to help me. She's a high school math teacher and missing the first week of the new semester is definitely not ideal. I'm so thankful that she made that sacrifice for me.

But, Mom has to go back today and we still don't know when Eric will be home. Every time I talk to him things change. He thought he would be able to come on Wednesday and then he thought he might come home today for a couple of days and then go back, then he thought he wouldn't be able to come home until next Sunday at the earliest.

I've been trying so hard to be strong and supportive of Eric and understanding of the pressure he is under and how hard it is to balance professional responsibilities with family life. At times I am amazed at what I am able to do and handle (thank you Lord for the graces!) and other times I feel like I'm going to crumble. I dread having to face this next week of lunchboxes, homework, round the clock nursing, laundry, a jealous 2 year old, getting out the door and to school on time and minor catastrophes alone. Without Mom here this week, I don't know how I would have dealt with the broken heater on the van, new bed bug bites (ugh!) or the geyser that erupted in our front yard from a broken water pipe.

I'm constantly reassuring everyone around me that I've got things covered; I can handle it. So many family members want to help, but they can't because of their own life obligations. I don't want them to worry or feel guilty about being unable to help, so I spout words of confidence and self-assurance when inside I really don't know if I can do this.

So, once again I'm asking for prayers. And, if any of you mothers who have to do this parenting-alone-thing often could spare a few words of wisdom or advice, it would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I think they want to keep her!

We have arguments over who gets to hold her next. :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Clara Marie

We welcomed Clara Marie on December 30th at 3:09 pm. She weighed 7 lbs 12 oz and was 18.5 inches long. She's beautiful and healthy with just a bit of jaundice that we will have to keep an eye on. I'll post more about her and the delivery when I can steal a bit of computer time.

I do need to take a moment to thank you all for your prayers for Clara and me. I took so much strength from those prayers during labor and I'm so grateful for all the graces that have flowed down upon us. Thank you so much and God bless!