Saturday, March 30, 2019

Marigold's Birth Story, Part 2

For part 1, click here.

The car ride was a short one. We chose a different doctor and a different hospital this time because we knew I wouldn't be able to handle a long ride in. And am I ever so glad we made that decision! 13 minutes door to door. I could handle that. And as it turns out, my body got the memo that car contractions are no fun, so it spaced them out and made them very mild for me for the whole ride in. Thanks, self!

We arrived around 2:05pm and walked straight in. We had a quick check-in at the main desk, where I had a few contractions and just paced and boosted my TENS unit and listened to my up-breathing through them. Since I had pre-registered, we were only there a few minutes, thank goodness.

The kind receptionist walked us back to our room at 2:15pm, room number 1505. We completely skipped triage, I think because my husband works at this hospital and they were pulling us some major faves. It was awesome. And as it turns out, necessary! More on that in a sec.

We got into the room and I stripped down to be checked. My first cervical check all pregnancy! I had no idea what to expect and even joked that I was probably just a few centimeters and even if that was the case, it would be totally fine. I was just going with my body's flow.

Wendy walked in around 2:30pm, just as our nurse, Mony, was about to check me. It took a few contractions to time it right. They were coming closer and closer and were definitely hard to sit through, so I waited until one just ended, hopped on the bed, and got ready for that cervical check, hoping it would be done before the next contraction hit.

You can imagine my shock when Mony announced, "8cm, 75% effaced, with bulging bag of waters." ALL THE SHOCK EYE EMOJIS.

8cm?! And I was still laughing and hanging out between contractions? I could barely believe it!!

John texted Dr. H, as it was still well before 4pm and we thought since I was so far progressed, there was a good chance baby would be arriving before she'd have to be at her birthday party. It's amazing what can happen when you surrender to God's will.

Wendy mentioned, "I think this is going to be fast once that water breaks!" And so we went to work getting the contractions to progress.

I found a cozy spot next to the bed and would just stand there chatting and sipping electrolyte water, waiting for contractions to start. As soon as they did, I'd announce it, turn on the contraction feature on my TENS, and then have John stand in front of me as I slow danced with him and sort of squatted into the intensity of the wave. At first, I was actually really tightening my legs closed because I did not like the sensation that squatting was causing. But Wendy reminded me that that sensation was the one that would get me progressing faster and closer to meeting my baby, so while I was so hesitant to squat much, I started to go for it. First little tiny squats, and then as contractions got more intense, bigger squats that came on with big moaning sounds that I couldn't control. I would breathe in for 4, and then MOOOAANNNNN out for 8. It was hard work, but it was working!

It was probably just 5 contractions like that, and then my water popped while I was squatting and moaning into a big one. It was approximately 3:02pm. I looked down and saw a few drips of blood mixed in and Wendy reassured me it was totally fine. She ran out of the room to alert the nurses. While she was out of the room, it felt like I was peeing everywhere, which I apologized to John for, but he said, "That's your water, babe!" Ha! That made more sense.

Dr. H still hadn't arrived, but soon the room filled with nurses and a resident doctor and a few assistants. They knew this thing was happening and fast.

At this point, all control went out the window and with the next contraction, I was just screaming and pushing. Not voluntary pushing, just straight up my-body-pushing-out-a-baby-on-its-own pushing. And I was still standing and leaning on John at this point. I recall thinking to myself that I should throw myself into another position, like hands and knees, but it was just too late. So I leaned hard into John and just kept screaming and involuntarily pushing. I felt the biggest pressure on my bum, which was insanely intense, but I knew that meant baby was making way into the birth canal, and fast!

Within seconds, I felt baby's head. I felt that familiar burn and at this moment, I stood as tall as a woman with a crowning baby could stand to slow things down. I remember saying, "ow ow ow ow" and sloppily breathing through it. It wasn't long before I felt the immediate relief of baby's head making its way completely out. I announced, "Head is out!" because at this point I was still standing and afraid no one was prepared to catch! Pretty sure half the room had their hands under me and at the ready at this point, but my eyes were closed so tight, I had no idea what was really going on around me.

Soon I felt the burn again as shoulders made their way through, and then immediate relief again. And as the rest of baby's body slid out and the resident caught baby, Dr. H walked into the room. She was able to witness the feet being born. :P

The nurse and Wendy helped passed baby up to me through my legs and announced baby's arrival as 3:04pm. From water breaking to birth was approximately 2 minute's time. And not a single voluntary push from me. Just insane.

I held baby close and walked over to sit on the bed. Sweet relaxation! Baby was still attached, so I was having trouble seeing between the legs to find out if we had a boy or a girl. I made my best effort and saw the umbilical cord, which made me think penis. So for a second I was thinking boy. But when I told the nurse I couldn't exactly tell, she peeked for me and said, YOU HAVE A GIRL! And John and I both exclaimed and giggled and just couldn't believe it!!

Me and baby girl relaxed back into the bed and started snuggling and getting to know each other. Once the cord stopped pulsing, John was able to cut it and I was able to pull baby girl all the way up into my arms. And then we spent the next hour doing skin-to-skin and attempting to get baby girl to latch. I even had the wherewithal to wish Dr. H a happy birthday! And she responded, "This is a fun birthday!" It was truly sweet of her to come in on her day off and birthday, no less, to welcome our little bundle!

After that golden hour, we weighed and measured our baby girl, and she shocked the whole room by being over 8lb. The official weight was 8lb 2 oz, and length was 21 inches. Our biggest baby yet!

The placenta took its sweet time to detach, about an hour, but it eventually did without pitocin and it was healthy looking and there in its entirety.

Dr. H sewed up my 2nd degree tear, which I continued to do my up-breathing through (srsly, why can they numb that area a little better??). I've come to accept that I may always tear a little, and that ok, as the perineum is designed to stretch and tear and repair quickly. Wendy even mentioned that red heads are more likely to tear for whatever reason, so it did make it easier to hear that and just accept it as my fate. Recovery is already off to a good start!

Soon the room cleared and we spent the next day snuggling our sweet girl, picking out her name, breastfeeding, announcing her arrival to loved ones . . . all the fun stuff!

In case you were wondering, yes I bought two swaddles sets. The boy set was blue striped, and the girl set had to be EXTRA girly with a big ol' bow and flowers galore. Naturally. We truly would have been thrilled either way, but what a special joy to find out you have a beautiful girl after two handsome boys!

We especially loved calling our families and announcing that we had a girl! My mom (who didn't even know I was in labor!!) was so excited and shocked when we called her with the big news. She passed the news along to my dad who was equally excited! And John's mom and sister screamed through the phone in excitement. My SIL, who was with my boys, showed them a picture of their sister and they registered her for about a half a second before returning to their toys. I assure you they've shown more excitement since then. ;)

For instance . . .

I've never seen them want to kiss or love on someone so much! It's just too dang cute!

I must admit, in all the chaos of a quick ride to the hospital and baby girl arriving within 1 hour of our check-in, I didn't even have time to take out my prayer intentions for labor. So I've been offering up the discomforts of recovery for all of you! And of course, I think God knew my labor was intended for you all as well. Thank you, again, for trusting me with your intentions!

And so ends the tale of Miss Margo's grand arrival! In the weeks leading up to her birth, we prayed for a joyful, peaceful, safe delivery. I would say it truly was all of those things, plus a little crazy there too. :) I wouldn't have it any other way.

Welcome to the family, Marigold Claire! We're so thrilled to have you!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Marigold's Birth Story, Part 1

Our sweet baby GIRL has arrived! If you didn't see the announcement, head here. And now I present to you, her birth story!

In the week's leading up to baby's arrival, so many people asked me if I was feeling ready. Which is such a difficult question to answer, because who's really ready for the newborn phase? Whew! But it's true that usually by the end, I'm just ready to get the show on the road.

However, this time around, we were taking the last precious weeks to enjoy being just a family of four and get house projects done and so I was really at peace with waiting on baby to make his or her arrival whenever pleased. It was honestly the most relaxed end of pregnancy ever.

I didn't even let my OB do cervical checks at my appointments because, "why care about a number anyway?" I'd tell her. She just smiled and went along with it. And when my visit to a chiropractor at 38 weeks pregnant revealed baby to be in perfect position with my body in nearly perfect alignment, and the chiropractor told me she though for SURE I'd go into labor early, like so soon, I just shrugged it off with a meh and put it out of my mind.

It felt good not to be caught up in making things happen at any specific pace.

It probably helped that we also ate like royalty for the last week or so. You never know when you're gonna have your last family-of-four meal, so might as well eat out every night! That's a saying, right? :P

Lenten fish fries (3 times!).
Drive thru fries and soft drinks.
Piled-high BBQ tator tots.
Buffalo chicken nachos.
Large veggie deli sandwiches.
Fro-yo with all the toppings.
And this crowning glory. . .

At 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant, we treated ourselves to the biggest banana split in town. Oh mama was it good.

But you didn't come here to read about my junk food diet, did ya?

We went to bed that night with super happy full tummies and no idea of what would be in store the following day.

I woke around 8am on my due date, a Sunday morning, and noticed the tiniest bit of spotting when wiping during my morning pee-stop. Since bleeding is always a trigger for me (hello previous miscarriage and infertility!), I reached out to my doula immediately and asked her if that was normal. She said, "Oh yes!" and agreed that this was a sign baby was probably starting to make moves. By 8:30am I noticed I was probably having a few contractions, and that I guess I had actually felt some crampy ones during the night but wasn't really with it enough to realize what was going on until now. This was surely a good sign that things were really happening!

While we sat down to breakfast, John received a text from my OB, Dr. H. She had taken me as a private patient and had basically guaranteed, barring a random emergency or coincidence, that she would be there to deliver my baby. We loved working with her during the pregnancy, she was totally on board with the birth plan, and we were excited to have her there for baby's arrival. But of course, with my luck for these sorts of things, on the morning I start to feel contractions, she texts to say that it's her birthday and she will be at a family party from 4-10pm, not able to deliver during that time. My heart sank. Now I was on some sort of weird clock, where I could either deliver before 4pm, after 10pm, or just take whoever showed up to deliver me between those hours . . . with no actual control over any of it. So we did the only thing we could do and just surrendered to God's will and did our best to put it out of our minds.

Since the contractions were super mild and very random with no discernible pattern, we decided to go to Mass at 10am. Which, thinking about it now, was a GREAT way to start labor. Oh the graces I'm sure I received. :)

During Mass, I probably had 3 mild contractions, and while hanging out with friends for about an hour after, probably 3 or so more. Nothing too serious, and the company of God and friends was a great distraction!

We decided to get drive through food for lunch, Pal's turkey sandwiches, fries, hot dogs, and a peachy Dr. Enuf. If that sounds like gibberish, it's because you're not from east Tennessee. But trust me, it was goooood. (Side note, if you're ever in east Tennessee, please go to Pal's -- it's an institution here.)

By the time lunch ended, contractions were starting to pick up. Not enough to head to the hospital yet, but enough to know this was probably the real thing. This was around 1pm. I texted Wendy with the following screen shot and let her know if contractions continued in this pattern, we'd be headed to the hospital within the hour.

Freya, the contraction timer app

I put John on boy-nap duty and sent him upstairs to get the boys sleeping. Before they went up, I hugged them both so close and said a most tearful goodbye. I'm not a weepy, emotional person typically, but knowing that I probably wasn't going to see them again without a new baby sibling, AKA a huge family change, made me tear up.

They headed up the stairs and I got to work putting together the rest of the hospital bag and getting things ready to load up in the car.

It didn't take long for contractions to get real serious. Perhaps it was being on my feet and moving a bunch of stuff around, or maybe it was knowing the boys were taken care of and I could let go of that responsibility, but something put my body into gear.

My contraction timer app, Freya, has the option to play a breathing technique called up-breathing (breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, out through your mouth for 8 seconds), and I had turned it off until this point. It hadn't been necessary. But now, as contractions were getting stronger, I needed to be sure my oxygen was still flowing well, so I turned on the feature. And it was immeasurably helpful at keeping me calm!

At 1:32pm, I texted my mother-in-law to let her know to head our way to watch our boys, and I texted my friend and neighbor, Sarah, to have her swing by too. I wasn't sure how long my MIL was going to take; she took an hour to get to our house during Jude's birth and I knew I didn't have that amount of time this time around, so calling in extra back-up helped put me at ease too.

John still had to pack his hospital bag, so I labored through some longer and stronger contractions (about 1.5 minutes long each and 3 minutes apart) while he scrambled to throw his things together. I listened to the up-breathing counter on the app and walked loops around my family room, kitchen, and sun room. He finally emerged from the second floor and then furiously started bring our stuff out to the car. During this time, I had two contractions right on top of each other and knew it was really time to go.

Sarah arrived and, to our surprise, within two minutes, my MIL arrived too! So we were set to take off! Praise God for good people who are willing to watch your kiddos on the drop of a dime.

I had John put a maternity TENS unit on my back to help me get through these more intense contractions. I was especially hoping the TENS unit would help with contractions while stuck in a seated position in the car.

(Side note, if you've never heard of TENS before, it stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, and it does exactly that -- it delivers a small shock to your skin and that pulse helps the body release endorphins and distract your brain from bigger pains that are going on in your body. Since I had taken a British Hypnobirthing course (online), and maternity TENS units are big over there, I decided to look into it and try it out for this labor. Spoiler alert: it was awesome!)

At 1:52pm, we texted Wendy, our doula, that we were headed to the hospital. And then we were off!

For part 2, click here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Marigold Claire!

Born on her due date
March 24 at 3:04pm
8 lb 2 oz
21 inches long

Thank you so much for all the prayers and support! We're so thrilled that SHE'S here! GAH, yes it's so surreal to say SHE! I can't believe we have a daughter. ALL THE HEART EYES! 

The boys are thrilled, and when Miss Margo comes around, all they want to do is kiss and love on her. Jude happily exclaimed, "My baby sister!" while gently patting her head the other morning. He must be pretty proud. :) What joy she brings to all of us!

Birth story coming soon!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

How Can I Pray for You? (And a Pregnancy Update)

Baby #3's arrival fast approaches! 

As with my last pregnancies, I'd love to offer up my upcoming labor and delivery for your intentions! No prayer request is too big or too small. Feel free to leave requests in the comments here or send them privately via email: stephschweitz [at] gmail [dot] com. 

A few weeks ago, we went on an overnight babymoon to Asheville, NC. If that sounds familiar, it's because we did the same thing before Jude was born. But since Asheville is such a happening town, we were able to have a completely different babymoon experience, and it was awesome yet again. One of my favorite parts was getting my belly (temporarily) henna tattooed with Henna Sophia. It's something I've always wanted to do, so being in Asheville at 35 weeks pregnant, I took total advantage of the opportunity. And I loved the final result! Other babymoon highlights included staying at the old Princess Anne Hotel (which was really more of a giant bed and breakfast -- so lovely!), a relaxing couple's foot soak at Wake Foot Sanctuary, eating a fully vegan meal at Plant, a long peruse and shopping spree at Trader Joe's, going to Mass at the beautiful St. Lawrence Basilica, trying dim sum for the first time ever at Red Ginger, and escaping our first ever escape room (with friends who met us there!) at Fox n Otter Adventure Puzzle Rooms. And this was all within 32 hours! Thanks for yet another great time, Asheville! 

And now for a late pregnancy update.

How far along? 38 weeks
Clothing? All maternity, of course! 
Stretch marks? Yep. Just as I predicted, my old stretch marks are growing longer. This started while I had the henna on my belly, so they were hidden for two weeks. But as soon as the henna faded, there they were, sneakily growing out from the old stretchies. All the belly butter in the world hasn't stopped it, so I guess I'm just prone to stretch marks? A small price to pay for growing another human. ;)
Sleep? Sleep has been meh, mostly because it's hard to get comfy, and there are a lot of pee trips to the bathroom, and fiery reflux. Oh, and I had one night of insomnia. But since upping my magnesium supplement a little bit, I've been sleeping just a bit better. Thankfully there are daily naps to make up for the lost night sleep. 
Best moment of the week? It's probably a tie between meeting with our doula for our last pre-labor prep session and getting a bunch of little projects done around the house in preparation of baby's arrival (washing all the newborn clothes, buying and constructing new family room furniture, putting the final touches on our kids' bathroom makeover, etc.). 
Worst moment of the week? Having a few Braxton Hick's contractions and worrying that I might go into labor early. It wouldn't be horrible for baby to be born now, but I was looking forward to these last few weeks to continue getting things ready and to have some last pre-baby moments with my boys.  
Miss anything? Sangria and meaty deli sandwiches, and being able to bend down without maximum effort. 
Movement? Yup! Especially at night around 9pm. 
Symptoms? All the reflux. Random itchiness. Being tired. 
Food cravings? Give me all the sweets! 
Gender? I really have no idea at this point and will be completely shocked either way. Probably more shocked if baby is a girl, since I'm used to having boys, but I really have no clue, so it's really going to be a fun surprise!
Labor signs? Just a few Braxton Hicks contractions. 
Belly button in or out? So out. See above pic for proof. 
Wedding rings on or off? On. 
Mood? Normal. 
Looking forward to? Newborn snuggles. :) 


Don't forget to send me your prayer intentions! I look forward to praying for you! 

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