Friday, March 23, 2018

answered prayers and a child's worry

Harper has her first cold. That's what happens when you have older siblings! She's been congested and coughing on and off, but fever free and still doing all the necessary newborn things.

This morning I was snuggling with all of the kids in bed when Harper began coughing. B looked at me with worry in his eyes and asked, "Will she die from a cold?"

"Oh honey, no! Absolutely not." I said. "She's fine, she just has a little cold."

When Harper was born I realized how much mental health work I've done since last January.. I did not expect to see that work bear fruit during a very traumatic experience, but it did. Hard work with a counselor plus a whole lot of prayer and a deep knowledge that God was present in the hospital room where Harper was born, resulted in a calm birth where I was able to maintain focus and a feeling of peace.

Here is a short list of prayers that were answered before or during Harper's birth:

- The week before Harper was born I prayed for my labor signs to be very clear. I wanted someone to tell me I was in labor / be at least a 6 before getting the epidural / be sent from the doctor's to the hospital, but I figured that was unlikely / impossible / never going to happen.

When I went to my doctor's on the morning of the 1st to discuss induction on the 5th I was shocked when my OB said, "You're having this baby today! You're 7 cm. Go to the hospital, get the epidural and then they'll break your water."

- I was apprehensive about going through the traditional labor and delivery admittance process, but being sent to the hospital from my doctor's clinic allowed me to bypass triage and go straight to a room.

- I stayed at 7 cm for 3 hours while waiting for the epidural and I stayed calm! I refused to progress because I was terrified of delivering without an epidural. All of the work I put in with my therapist proved useful and helpful. I kept my cortisol levels low and my meditative breathing was so effective I dozed off while waiting for the anesthesiologist to finish his emergency c-sections even though I was contracting on and off. I was so worried I would have a panic attack while in labor, but instead I was in this other worldly state of calm. I did not create the bubble of peaceful centeredness around me; that was all Jesus.

- When the epidural failed to work on one side I prayed, "Jesus, fix it. I don't want to feel strong contractions. The anesthesiologist came back and fixed the epidural so it was fully effective. I said, "I am literally praying this works" and when he came back 20 minutes later to check in I was happy to report my prayers were answered.

- Pushing was quick - 10 minutes - AND I did not hemorhage!!!! I was scared to push because the medical staff kept mentioning Harper's head position not being optimal, but pushing was easy. And when they said bleeding was normal I couldn't believe it. 

During labor my doula said, "I hope this is a healing experience for you." And it was! Ainsleigh's birth redeemed the postpartum period for me - though I did still bleed a lot and needed extra recovery time - but Harper's birth redeemed the entire birth experience for me.

I've felt amazing the last three weeks - physically and mentally. I haven't been as weepy as I usually am during the immediate postpartum period and the anxiety I've carried with me when the other kids were small is hardly present. When it does appear I have the tools to tamp it down and move on.

But I see the shadows of my anxiety in the haunted questions B asks. And I understand now that my next hurdle is teaching him how to live without those shadows even though he has co-existed with them his entire life. Being the first child born after unimaginable loss is not an enviable position, but now that I'm mentally healthy I can begin to change the tides for him and everyone else in our family.

I doubted God's vision and wisdom for our family when I found out I was pregnant again, but I see now how desperately we needed this sweet girl who looks exactly like her sister Charlotte.

harper finley

Harper was born March 1st at 7:46 pm. Her birth was by far my easiest; God answered so many prayers and was very present during my labor and delivery.

Harper was 7 lbs 5 oz, right in the middle of B and Ainsleigh's weight. She is beautiful and healthy.

We are so in love!!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

35 weeks

Okay, we're not quite at 35 weeks, but on Tuesday I will be so I'm claiming it now.

I haven't written very much about this pregnancy because life is waaaay busier now than it was when I was pregnant with B and Ains.

I'm in the middle of the last month slog: twice weekly non-stress tests, iron infusions, chiropractor appointments, therapist appointments, baby preparations. I've had some mild contractions, and one quick trip to L & D for anxiety soothing, which is enough to make me want to have everything ready by 37 weeks. Which is 2 weeks from now.

The house is in complete chaos as Jon is refinishing the floors in the baby's room. All of the baby stuff is in our room and it feels like we're on the brink of a Hoarders episode. I just need everything settled and in its proper place so I can feel like I have a tiny bit of control over things.

This pregnancy has been so interesting as I navigate the (frankly) unfriendly waters of traditional OB care. I have thoughts and opinions about standard OB care now that I've tried most maternity care options available.

One thing that really bothers me is that I have had absolutely no emotional support from the OB. If you have a patient who has had a full term loss shouldn't you check in on their mental well being sometimes? I am lucky to have great support - including a therapist and doula - to ask those questions and assess those things, but what if I didn't? The amount of self-advocacy one has to take on in the standard medical care world is burdensome. To add in mental health on top of that seems so overwhelming. And I feel like if I tossed out, "I'm really struggling"at the end of one of my 10 minute appointments the OB would not be sympathetic / would say the wrong thing / would say something trite in her rush to get through patients.

I miss midwifery care. I have seen one on and off throughout this pregnancy when the OB's schedule is too full, but the appointments are so rushed and everyone is very to. the point.

Weight fine. Baby fine. Growth fine. Heartbeat fine. Any questions?

It feels like a very rushed fast moving system and I don't like it at all.

The kids are excited about the baby, but at the same time we're starting to hear some "I don't want to be a big brother / sister" hesitation. We're starting to slow down on homeschool - I have 5 appointments this week alone, there's no time - and I think the kids are sensing the impending changes.

I don't think anyone is ready, but we need to get to that place soon because we only have five weeks - or less - before we meet our third baby girl.

I'm going to spend my afternoon getting a pedicure and buying the last few baby things we need. A little break before the busy week ahead.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Loved Baby WINNER (s)

I updated the post, but haven't heard from either winner, so I thought I would post an update here!

Since I have 2 copies of Loved Baby and 2 entrants I decided to give away both!

So - SLM and ldybugdancer shoot me an email @ with your address and I will ship it out to you!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

23 weeks // hospital tour

 I was going through "next steps" with my therapist when I mentioned the paperwork I need to fill out and the childbirth classes / hospital tours that are offered.

She told me to take a hospital tour. We had a long conversation, but what it boiled down to was this: you need to walk in and see if you have a panic attack before you are in labor. And if you really struggle you need to walk through at least once more.

Therapists are annoyingly practical.

So I asked my doula if there was any way to have a private tour, because touring the birthing center with a passel of happy / first time / not panicking parents sounded like absolute hell. I am very lucky that my doula teaches birthing classes and gives tours at the hospital, so I was able to walk through with her and one other doula instead of a big group. Thank you, Jesus.

Good news: I didn't have a panic attack! In fact, I felt fine throughout the entire tour and I was able to get all of my questions answered. I still don't want to have another baby, but .... I think I can get through it.


the local hospital now offers nitrous oxide for pain relief / help with labor anxiety. Talk to me about this, friends! Please! I need more information. It sounds very intriguing, but I'm hesitant because I don't think I've ever used it before. Maybe once at the dentist ...? but I'm not sure.

I am not thrilled about getting an epidural, but I am also not interested in stalling out at 8 cm for the third time because the PTSD kicks in and I. just. can't. go. forward. So maybe nitrous is a good option to have on the table.

Little babe is 23 weeks along now and things are progressing as usual: the kids have felt her kick, which is very exciting, I'm super uncomfortable / in pain, and next week brings another round of OB and MFM appointments.

I feel like the holidays are going to come and go quickly and then I'll be faced with the baby coming a fast couple months after that.

SO - if you've had experience with nitrous in labor, tell me! (Unless it's a super awful horror story. I just can't go there right now). I want to be as prepared as possible for this completely unpredictable event. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

loved baby: book review & giveaway

I had intentions of posting this review during pregnancy and infant loss week, but I forgot about how turtle-like I become during October when I'm pregnant.

Loved Baby by Sarah Philpott is a well written book of devotions about pregnancy and infant loss. Philpott covers topics from miscarriage to stillbirth to pregnancy after loss to living a childless life to adoption. She takes the many strands of pregnancy and infant loss and weaves them together to include all who have lost under an umbrella of hope and love. And each devotion is full of reminders of the hope and love of Jesus Christ.

I wish I had a copy of Loved Baby after Charlotte died, but even now, 7 years after she died, it has been a helpful and comforting read. Loved Baby is a thoughtful, meaningful book to gift to someone after they have lost a baby.

Thanks to the Blog About Blogger Network I have a copy of Loved Baby to give to you.

Leave a comment if you would like to enter to win. I'll select a winner on Sunday November 5th.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

pregnancy after loss {the third time around}

I'd like to tell you it gets easier - and in some ways it does - but in many of the big ways it's hard because the trauma is still very much there.

This pregnancy I'm working with my therapist on managing my cortisol levels so I go into the labor / delivery situation calm and able to remain so. I think this is a very lofty goal, but we are working towards making at least some progress before the baby comes. I've been in therapy since January so I hope I am at least slightly better at managing my anxiety and stress.

I am slowly getting used to the idea of having another baby. I bought a car seat because it was on sale, and I found the baby swing I really wanted so I bought that as well - more on that later as it is a good story - but then my therapist tells me to tour the hospital where I'm going to deliver and I'm like, Oh no, that is NOT happening. This one is going to magically appear. Jesus and I have talked about this.

And then she's like, "No really, you need to tour the hospital."

So while I was wrapping my mind around that idea I put on my brave girl pants and began putting together a small baby registry and looked on Craigslist to see if the swing / seat I was hoping to find used was for sale.

I saw this swing at a friend's house and it was the most interesting / futuristic baby seat swing I have seen. It was fascinating and I said, "What is this? Where did you find it? I need one!" And then she told me she had bought it used because the retail price is $$$$$ and I immediately began looking for one. I can't even explain how different it is - look up the Mamaroo and watch a video.

Yesterday was my lucky day because I found one nearby and it was a reasonable price. I began e-mailing the seller and we agreed to meet up this morning. And then she sent another e-mail:

Just wanted to say, I saw the link in your signature of your email and it caught my eye because I lost 2 babies- I delivered twins at 21 weeks in 2015 and  just went through a very high risk/stressful pregnancy with my 8 month old little girl.  Congrats to you and hang in there, I know how stressful it is.

We e-mailed back and forth a bit about our experiences, and it reminded me that pregnancy and infant loss is everywhere. While I have felt like I'm meeting with a long series of compassion-less providers this pregnancy there are a lot of people who understand and are willing to spare a moment to send encouragement and kindness my way.

There's the friends and family who are excited and hopeful for us because we can't find the emotional wherewithal to get to that place yet.

There's the providers who are extremely caring and willing to receive my desperate texts about the possibility of private hospital tours because I am not interested in hanging out with shiny happy first time moms.

There's the sweet elderly lady from our old neighborhood who checks in every couple weeks via a phone call to see how the baby is and how I'm doing. She tells me she is praying for me, she says she is thrilled we are having another baby because we are wonderful parents, she tosses out name ideas and tells me the same few stories over and over again. Her phone calls lift my spirits immensely.

And there's the kids: B and Ains are over the moon about having a sibling. They love babies, they're excited to change diapers and love on a sister. Their excitement is carrying me through the darker moments of this pregnancy; the moments when I doubt if I can do this again - the whole shebang, birth to newborn days to raising another one - because it feels too overwhelming and hard.

Pregnancy after loss is hard, but it's worth it. I promise. Even though this is not what we planned. Even though we're still reeling a bit and trying to figure out what exactly we need and how exactly it's all going to work. Even though we can't agree on a name and it doesn't seem likely that we will. Even though being pregnant and facing another birth brings up a lot of trauma ....

It will all be worth it when we meet our new baby girl.


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