Let’s just start this off by saying praise God for modern medicine. Amelia’s birth story wasn’t quite as uncomplicated as Ollie’s ended up being and so we praiseeeee for the epidurals and the medicine and the best nurses and best midwife and doctor. I’m truly amazed at the whole process and so fascinated by birth now that I’ve been through it! Like, what a crazy miracle that human beings make other human beings and grow them in their bodies. I’ve housed two humans in my tummy and still, I’m floored that it’s real. What a privilege.
I’ll also preface by saying, I’m not into the gory stuff. We won’t be getting too graphic up in this blog post :] But, now that I’ve done this twice, I LOVE reading the details of birth stories. So there will be sufficient drama and play by play happening for those that love that as much as I do!
(I give you full permission to skip this portion if you just want to hear about the actual birth)
We’ve got to start this story from the very beginning. We had a truly insane 2018. During the course of my pregnancy, my sister got married and I was the matron of honor (and shot her wedding). And I shot an additional thirteen weddings from May to October! We traveled all over the place…Cape May, Indiana, the Outer Banks, Disney World, and up, down, and all around our home state of Virginia. Thankfully, this pregnancy was much like my last – easy! I know that is crazy rare, and trust me, the gift of that is not lost on me! I had all the normal pregnancy aches and pains. And goodness gracious, summer 2018 is a blur because I was so dang tired all the time. I felt a little bit sick and had way more aversions than last time (hellooo, looks like the old wives tale about girls being harder holds up!), but all in all, it was smooth sailing.
This pregnancy felt so much faster than last time! Might have something to do with having a full schedule, or might have something to do with chasing a two year old around :] Once we got to the holidays in December and our annual winter conference with Cru, we were exhaustedddd. We knew it was the home stretch and planned on taking the month of January to finallyyyy get ready for baby. Our to do list was long. It included organizing our entire home, purging an entire room full of boxes from our move (a year prior..), moving Ollie into a big boy bed, and moving our master bedroom downstairs so baby girl could have a nursery. Did I mention we didn’t know her name yet?
We came back in town just in time for my 35 week appointment and baby girl was measuring…big. Like two and a half weeks bigger than she “should be.” I’d been right on track all pregnancy and all of the sudden she shot up! Our doctor set up a growth ultrasound to make sure everything was a-okay and we were sent on our way. Again, the privilege of easy pregnancies is not lost on us. But, we’d never gotten anything but normal news both pregnancies, so we were starting to feel a little nervous.
The night before my ultrasound, we were organizing our bookshelves (home projects galore!) and I tripped over a box and fell 🙁 Thank goodness for that ultrasound the next day, right?! Definitely a scary moment! I ended up super bruised up and it was something I got asked about for the next 4 weeks in all my appointments haha. My sister told me I’d be sporting a bruise when I delivered the baby and she was right! Ollie called it my bad leg for weeks and weeks! And he still talks about the time I tripped over his unassembled ikea bed. (affectionately called his monkey bed…because there were stuffed animal monkeys hanging from it when we saw it at the store)
Thankfully, our ultrasound was the next morning and baby girl was still moving like normal. The ultrasound confirmed everything was fine, but told us that she was already 8.5 lbs…I still had four weeks to go! EEK! It also confirmed that I had too much fluid. We didn’t really know what that meant, besides the fact that we now had ultrasounds every week until delivery! We got to know Tammy, the ultrasound technician, real well :] A few days later, our (freaking excellent…LOVED her) doctor explained more of what was going on. (look up polyhydramios if you’re interested!) She knew that I wanted to wait to go into labor “naturally” and she was super kind and gracious in talking through all the options with us. I didn’t want to induce, because I so loved my experience with Ollie. (also I just hate change in general so I pretty much wanted the exact same experience :]) (read Ollie’s birth story HERE)
The excess fluid TOTALLY made sense! When we came back from our new years conference, my grandma told me I looked huge haha. Thanks Gram. But seriously, I was big and getting even bigger. Way bigger than I ever was with Ollie. I have a crazy amount of bump pictures stored on my phone because I could not believe how large I’d gotten. It truly looked like I’d shoved a basketball under my shirt. Stretch marks were clawing their way all over my tummy. It was comical! But thankfully, I didn’t feel as big as I knew I was. I wasn’t wishing away my time, and I wasn’t “miserable” as people so often put it. One of the side effects of polyhydramios aka too much fluid is feeling extra big, extra full, and extra miserable…but thankfully that wasn’t the case for me! I don’t know if my body just handles pregnancy well, but I never hit the point where I was just “over it.”
After that appointment, it was a waiting game! We checked things off our to do list, spent lots of quality Ollie time, and lots of quality “us” time. What a gift! I am never emotionally ready for anything so I wasn’t dying to go into labor super early, but I also didn’t want to go the full 40 weeks. (mostly so the kids birthdays could be farther a part :]) Each appointment confirmed the same thing…more and more fluid, and an even bigger baby.
The very first week of the semester, we walked into our 38 week ultrasound and heard that she was clocking in at 9.5 lbs! We sat and talked as Tammy measured and measured. David made his standard dad joke about making sure that there wasn’t a twin hiding behind the first baby or that it was really a boy instead of a girl. The longer we sat there, the more I had to fight the urge to ask if something was wrong. Tammy let us know that she wasn’t getting as much breathing as she wanted from baby girl, so she needed to send us to triage. We drove over, totally nervous, scared of what it might mean.
Friends, our experience in triage was not good. We sat for about four hours, mostly in silence as they tried to measure baby’s breathing and then eventually, my heart rate. It had shot up because I was so concerned! It was hard for them to find the baby’s stats because of all the fluid! The nurse laughed and told me I might earn myself an induction that day. Ugh. That was what I did not want! I thought about Ollie’s little face waving goodbye in the window as we drove away that day. The very much unpacked hospital bag waiting for us at home. The fact that I was nowhere near emotionally ready to have a baby that day. Guys, I was thirty eight weeks, but I had not prepared myself! Even though it was my second baby haha! I did not want to deliver that day.
Thankfully thankfully, the doctor came in and let me know they were giving me a pass…Induction on Sunday at midnight. It was Thursday. Once again, the sweet gift of time. Three full days with our little bear. Three more days with each other. But no more than three days! My fluid had gotten up to 12 cm past where it was supposed to be so it was close to go time. They wanted to avoid any complications that went along with polyhydramios.
We had the best weekend. Not perfect. Of course, not perfect. We did have an almost three year old after all :] But very sweet. I got to pop into the first Cru meeting of the year knowing I’d be disappearing for awhile. We got to physically prepare for being at the hospital. We could confirm all of our babysitting plans for Ollie. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted, it was still such a gift. We tried to do all of Ollie’s favorite things that weekend. We went to the pool (where people looked at me like I was about to pop! I didn’t mention to them I was literally having a baby the next day…). We hit Chick-fil-a and even a Japanese steakhouse because we just wanted everything to be special. (and when I say we I mostly mean “I.” my sentimental feel-y heart on overdrive)
On Sunday, we skipped church and snuggled on the couch all day. We played play-doh and watched a movie together, munching on pancakes and eventually ravioli. Ollie knew we were going to the hospital that night and that “Kelseys” (my sister) would take him to meet baby sister the next day. We were still deciding between the name Luna and Amelia. We loved Amelia, but every time we said it, Ollie would yell “NO! LU LU!” Haha so we were undecided! We ate ice cream together and then did bed time with Ollie.
And that’s when I needed some time to cry. My baby wouldn’t be my only baby anymore. And my excitement to meet this little girl wasn’t outweighing my contentedness with how sweet our life was now. I felt the same way before we had Ollie, so I knew I’d feel differently when she arrived. But just then, I needed some time to cry and cuddle with David and let it sink in that life was about to change again. We prayed about what was before us and then it was time to pack up. (like literally we hadn’t packed our bags hahah!) Kels showed up and took our picture and everything felt so reminiscent of last time around! Except this time, I had no contractions. We were just packing up and heading to the hospital at midnight. It felt like we were going on a weird adventure.
We got all checked into the hospital at 12:30AM. Our room was ready and we were as ready as we were ever going to be. Our nurse, Brittany, got my IV set up and all the preliminary medical things checked off as David unloaded bags upon bags into our room. Seriously, it looked like we were moving in! But, I think I cope with anxiety by being prepared haha! (also can I just say we had incredible nurses! like just the best) I had forgotten that I wasn’t allowed to eat once we got to the hospital, and thankfully Brittany turned a blind eye while I ate an Uncrustable. I snuggled up under the blanket we brought from home and David got the diffuser set and we just waited. David ended up getting a nap in, and I just dozed in and out while the hospital staff handled some type of emergency elsewhere on the floor. Brittany came back at 4:30AM and it was time to get things started!
I wasn’t dilated at all! So there was a long way to go! The first step was a gel that’s meant to soften your cervix. Often times, women who aren’t dilated at all need two to three rounds of this before a lot of progression starts in terms of labor. Brittany suggested I just try to sleep and rest. So back to half paying attention to Friends it was :] It wasn’t too long before those contractions I remembered from Ollie were back! It was nothing crazy at first, but we were excited (and so was our nurse!) to see how fast things were going.
At 7:30AM, our midwife came in to check on things. Quick side note, we were THRILLED to pieces to find out that the same midwife who delivered Ollie would be on call for our induction day! EEK! We loved our experience with Becca so this was just another affirmation and comfort in the process. Becca checked and I was already 4cm dilated! At this point, I was at the point of being uncomfortable and even in a good amount of pain for contractions. I remember us watching The Profit on David’s phone and needing him to help me through each contraction with counter pressure. If he was across the room, I’d immediately need him to come closer and help.
Last time I was in labor, I made it to 8cm without an epidural. And since then, I’ve always wondered if I could do it completely naturally. Our game plan this time around was to just see how it went and keep an open dialogue about what I wanted. By the time we got to 9:30AM, I was now at 6cm and was feeling pretty weak. And did I mention…extremely hungry! Like my stomach was growling audibly. It was so dumb not to eat before!! It was time for fentanyl, a little something to “take the edge off” of my contractions.
Contractions kept coming faster and faster, but the medicine was keeping me calm and a little bit “floaty” for the next two hours. Something amazing about our hospital is that there’s a massage therapist on call during the week for laboring/new mothers. All that to say, Rose to the rescue! Rose came in and massaged during my contractions and it was the best part of the pre-epidural journey. At 11:30AM, we found out I was still 6cm. I spent some time on the birthing ball and David and I talked through options. I was so hungry and so tired and feeling so weak and I thought there was a 9.5 lb baby coming so we decided it was time for the epidural.
Guys, David was hilarious this time around. He was so invested in everything that was happening. He actually WATCHED as they put the giant needle in my spine. I had some internal chuckles at both this and the fact that the anesthesiologist was named Dr. Goodrich. In my haze, I asked him if he had ever received an epidural himself and that I thought that should be part of the doctor training. Kaitlyn on pain meds is an interesting version of Kaitlyn. All my thoughts and weird rabbit trails become unfiltered! What in the world!
Shortly after the epidural, sweet relief. And at some point…popsicles and jello hahah. Similarly to my labor with Ollie, my labor slowed down to a near stopping point after the epidural. But, I was okay with that! My friend Krysta stopped in, another in labor tradition now, to deliver some food to a starving David and we chatted for awhile. The nurse (Melissa! She was wonderful too!!) kept coming in to switch my position in hopes to progress me further. I was ever thankful for my fuzzy blanket and all my pillows from home and our diffuser that all the hospital staff commented on every room visit.
Because of the excess fluid, Becca was nervous to break my water. (I wanted them to break my water to move things along! that’s what helped me progress with Ollie!) She was afraid that baby girl would move around too much and potentially change positions or get the cord wrapped around her neck. So, we started pitocin instead around 1:45PM. More waiting. And actually…napping! I finally got to sleep for a little bit and it was glorious and I really needed it.
Here’s where it gets dramatic. Around 5PM, Becca came in to let me know that I was still sitting at 6cm and nothing was going to change because of the fluid. It was time to break my water, but she wanted to bring in a doctor to do it. Dr. Boezil came in and the only way I can describe her is “chill.” Becca was nurturing and enthusiastic and understanding and that’s what we had needed up until that point. But we needed chill for this next part. Dr. Boezil explained that she needed to do a controlled breaking of my water…which meant she’d need to hold the baby’s head in place while the water rushed out. Goodness. Without being too graphic, you can imagine why I was so thankful for the epidural. If things went well and the baby didn’t move, then all was well. But if not…she explained that we’d be rushing for an emergency c-section with her hand still on the baby.
There was nothing to do, but nod and get everything started. She broke my water and again, thanks to David, I know that it was a very dramatic amount of water. The next day we found out that the staff was still talking about us! They hadn’t seen that much fluid in a long, long time. We even heard nurses giggling outside the door as the doctor left because they were prepped for an emergency to happen at any moment. I think my heart rate was a little wonky because I remember getting an oxygen mask around this time. None of this felt scary when it was happening, but in retrospect, it totally was! Becca let me know that I was now at 8cm and we were back to waiting. Everything had gone as well as it could’ve!
But we didn’t have to wait for long! Maybe 30 minutes passed before I declared that it was TIME. I was ready to push! And yep, turns out I was 10 cm and it really was time. I started pushing at 6:15PM. David had one leg, my nurse Melissa had the other, and Becca was in it with us for the long haul. And it truly was a long haul. It turns out, I am not good at pushing! Honestly, I don’t remember much of this time. I know I kept asking David and Melissa if my legs were “so heavy” and I remember telling Melissa that I was trying to get this baby out before her shift change at 7 haha. That did not happen :] They asked me if I wanted a mirror and the answer was nooooo because David was spectating enough for the both of us. At one point, they asked me to touch her head and it totally freaked me out!
My most vivid pushing memory was listening to our hospital playlist, the song “No Longer Slaves” playing. And hearing the lyrics “From my mother’s womb, you have chosen me, love has called my name.” I teared up thinking about my baby girl at that point. Chosen to be her momma. Chosen to be my daughter. Created by God and loved by God before she’d ever done a thing. It was the sweetest encouragement.
Finally, an hour and 45 minutes later, at 8:01PM, she was here. A little cry. They lifted her up for me to grab her. “She looks just like her brother!” It was like deja vu! She looked just like our Ollie. We got to put her on my chest immediately and she snuggled in. I couldn’t believe it. My little girly girl that I’d been carrying around in my belly for nine months. We just stared and stared and couldn’t believe we had another beautiful newborn to delight in. With Ollie, I was in disbelief that he was real. With baby girl, I felt immediately maternal. Protective. Connected. But she still didn’t have a name!
Also…she came in at 8 lbs 2 oz! All that hype over her weight for nothing :]
We looked up at the clock and realized it was almost Ollie’s bedtime, but there was just no way we could wait until morning for him to meet his sister. Around 9:30PM, my mom and sister escorted Oliver in. He was cuddling his pink unicorn that he had picked out for her. He’d been sleeping with the unicorn every nap and every night and we weren’t sure he’d actually give her up. But he walked in, asked “Is that Amelia? Is that my sister?” and then promptly snuggled the unicorn right in next to her. David and I broke into huge smiles. Amelia Grace. That was her name.
Ollie climbed into my lap and helped me hold her, just the sweetest little bear. Smiling and petting her. Trying to give her kisses. The rest of our hospital stay was a flurry of family visitors. And lots of time for us to settle in with our new little girl. Ollie was around for meal times which was perfect! He got to hold her and goof around and go on a walk with us in the hospital. He was doted on by our family the entire time we were away from home and he didn’t seem to skip a beat.
We went home on Wednesday afternoon and were greeted by our bear. Before his nap time, we all cuddled on the couch together. A family of four for the first time. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to love someone the way I loved Ollie. But in the stillness of our own home, my heart swelled and expanded. This was the new us. And it was nothing like I expected and everything that I hoped.
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