Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Everly Rain's Birth Story

The moment I stepped out of bed on the morning of April 26th  at 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I knew something felt different. I had been experiencing lots of aches and pains in my pelvis for many weeks, but my belly felt especially low and distinctly different than it had every morning prior.  It was a Tuesday, so normally we would’ve been meeting for a playdate with our homeschool co-op, but I had canceled the event a few days earlier to try and give myself some much needed rest. Soon after waking up, I started noticing consistent and regular contractions. I had been experiencing Braxton hicks contractions consistently for weeks, but something about these new contractions peaked my awareness. I started to notice that I was feeling them ever so slightly in my back and as soon as I realized I was feeling them there I first had that “oh my gosh, I think this might be it!” labor realization. With all three previous babies not once did I ever have any false labor concerns, so once again I wanted to be 100% sure I was in labor before telling anyone! I don’t like telling people I am pregnant and I don’t like telling people when I am in labor, it’s just one of those little quirks about me. So even though I was communicating with many people throughout the day, I did not tell a single person (not even Kyle!) until much later in the day when I was sure it was the real thing.

The kids and I had a wonderful morning in our learning room doing lots of activities and work together. I remember texting back and forth with my sister Ashley about my face and worrying that I could be developing a bit of melasma and not mentioning the fact that I was pretty certain I was in labor. :) As the day progressed, the kids and I spent a while painting all of our nails. This was such a sweet experience for me because I knew this was likely the last day we had together with just the three of us. I was savoring the moment and I was also excited because I was going to have freshly painted nails for labor. At some point during the nail painting, Melanie texted me saying how surprised she was that I hadn’t yet had the baby and I just laughed to myself because I knew the baby and her were likely going to share a birthday since hers was the next day! The contractions continued to come regularly, every 10- 20 minutes or so and weren’t particularly painful or uncomfortable at all. I did feel pretty tired though and knew I was probably in for a long night so I made sure to lay down and rest as the kids played outside and around the house. My mom stopped by for an afternoon visit and it was nice chatting with her. And nope, I did not mention anything to her. 

Since it was Tuesday, Cambria had gymnastics in Savannah that evening. Avett, Cambria and I ventured into Savannah for gymnastics while Kyle stayed home with Ezra to get some cleaning done around the house. When I left I was thinking to myself "please get lots of cleaning done since our baby is coming very soon!" But I still did not say anything to Kyle about my suspected labor at this point. Avett and I dropped Cambria off at gymnastics and I decided I wanted a sub from Firehouse. Avett and I enjoyed a sub, some chips and a drink together and I tried to take it all in knowing the big changes that were soon coming.  We made a stop at Michaels and the cashier became the first person I told I was in labor when she asked about my pregnancy. And then I told the girl at the front desk that I thought I was in labor when I picked Cambria up from gymnastics. After I picked her up, Cambria asked for snow cones just like she did after every gymnastics class, so I agreed.  It was while getting snow cones that I noticed Avett wasn't feeling great and after putting my hand to his forehead I realized he had a slight fever, great timing.
Happy after getting a sub!


One the way home I noted that my contractions were indeed still coming regularly. Every 10-15 minutes or so. I was certain these were labor contractions because every time I could feel them in my back. Avett fell asleep in the car on the way home so we put him straight to bed once I got home. We also took his temperature and confirmed it was just a little high, 99.3. At this point I decided to tell Kyle I was in labor. I kind of laughed and said "so is now a good time to tell you I think I'm in labor?" Cambria and Ezra were both VERY excited and a bit nervous when I told them. We spent the next few hours getting the kids in bed, informing our moms and a few others of my labor, and just trying to prepare things.  I spent most of the time on the couch just relaxing and breathing through the contractions as I wanted to conserve my energy for the hard work ahead.


We had our moms and Amber on stand-by for when we felt it was time to go to the birth center. Around 11 pm, we decided we should call the midwife on-call to let her know what was happening. My contractions were still all over the place. Some were coming every 5 minutes apart and some 10+ minutes. There wasn't much rhythm to them.  Kyle talked to the midwife Sherry and she said to give her a call when I felt it was time to head to the birth center. Kyle and I both just hung out watching TV for a few more hours while the contractions continued to come. At some point I developed a headache so I took some medicine to help with that. Kind of ironic that I planned to give birth without any pain meds but was willing to take a little Tylenol for my headache. :)

Between 1 or 2 a.m. I started to feel like I wanted to call the midwife and make plans to head to the birth center. With both Cambria and Ezra, I didn't arrive at the birth center until I was just fully dilated and I didn't want that to happen again this time. We called Sherry, made plans to head in, and then called my mom, Amber and Sibyl.  Sibyl came right over to stay with the kids.  As we prepared to leave the house, I had the moment that I have experienced every time I leave my house to give birth. It's a strong wave of emotions that hits me hard when I  realize my family will never be the same. Once I return home, I will have a new child, a new sibling for my kids, and things will be chaotic for a bit. I was also feeling emotional about the sex of the baby and how it would affect us all. With tears in my eyes, I kissed each of my babies goodbye.  We said our goodbyes to Sibyl and began our car ride to the birth center.

On the way to the birth center Casey called to say she was going to get in her car and drive to Savannah to try and make it in time for the birth. It was about 2:15 a.m. at this point! I said it was really up in the air as to whether she would make it or not, but she didn't care. We got to the birth center around 2:30.. Sherry met us at the door and we made our way to one of the exam rooms so I could be monitored for a bit to track my contractions and baby's heartbeat etc. She did a cervical exam to reveal I was 3 cm dilated. I felt neutral about this since I was confident in my body and was positive I was in active labor. Lying on the exam table made my contractions feel so much worse, I was happy when the monitoring was over and I could get up and move around as I wanted. My mom and Amber arrived around this time.

At the suggestion of my midwife, I decided to try walking around outside to help move my labor along. She was surprised to know that I've never walked during labor.  For whatever reason lying down on my side is my preferred position during labor, but I was curious to know if walking might help AND I felt awake and energized.  Just as it had been with my three other labors, I was excited to discover I was the only person in labor, so I had the whole birth center to myself. We dropped our stuff in the room we wanted (same room all of my other babies have been born) and me, my mom, and Amber headed outside to walk around the building.

I told Kyle to lay down and try and sleep a little. I really enjoyed this time because my contractions were still very manageable, it felt amazing outside, and I was able to chit chat with my mom and Amber. Periodically Sherry came out with the doppler to check baby's heartbeat and to make sure I was feeling good.

After some time of walking and talking I started to feel like I was a bit distracted and felt slightly worried that my lack of focus might cause my contractions to slow down or my labor to stop progressing. So we went inside, I used the bathroom (labor makes me GO), and then I decided to hang out in the room with Kyle. I think my mom and Amber went out to the waiting area of the birth center at this point. I tried sitting on the ball and moving positions a bit just to see what felt comfortable and I continued listening to the playlist I had made for myself for labor. Sherry asked if I wanted to be checked again and I was curious, so I said yes. I was mildly disapointed to hear I was only at 4 cm. I was still confident in my body and knew things would happen as they were supposed to, just had to stay patient.

Probably one of the most unflattering pictures of me EVER haha

After some time inside I wanted to head back outside again to walk more. I loved moving and being outside and I found the darkness outside comforting. During this part of my labor I was totally "in the zone". I was doing laps around the building, listening to my music and just breathing through the contractions. Every time I had a contraction I would stop, lean on something, and sway my hips back and forth and let the contraction do what it needed to. I kept trying to tense up and fight the contraction, but Sherry reminded me that working against my body wasn't going to help anything, I needed to try and relax so my cervix could open. For most of the time, Kyle sat on a bench outside of the building and I would see him as I passed by, but eventually I wanted him to start walking with me. My contractions we getting closer together and were definitely picking up in intensity. He started rubbing my lower back as I was having a contraction and that felt great. I kept looking at my phone and seeing the minutes pass by and kept feeling this sense of urgency to have the baby before the sun rose and before it got much later in the morning. I think I was comparing this labor to the others who were all born before 7 a.m. and I was putting this pressure on myself to have this baby before then! Silly me! I remember asking Kyle things like "this is ok right? I don't need to rush anything? everything is happening like it should, I need to stop looking at the clock, right?" He of course told me to not worry, everything was happening as it should. I eventually started to get super tired from all the walking and contractions less than 2 minutes apart so I decided I wanted to go inside and get in the tub.
walking, walking, walking
trying to muster a smile, this was at 5:57 am, right before we headed back inside
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from when I was in the tub. I hate that because this was probably the most peaceful and serene part of my labor. My contractions were growing in intensity even more, but the rest in between in the warm water was so nice and relaxing. It was around this time that I started to feel "pushy".  Also during this time Casey arrived from Atlanta (yay! she made it in time) and two nurses arrived to help with the delivery. Because I was feeling pushy, and because I was going to attempt a water birth, Sherry wanted to check me and have my get out of the water to break my waters to confirm the fluid was clear. She checked me before I got out of the tub and I was SO sad to hear I was only 5 cm. I could.not.believe.it based on how I was actually feeling. Sherry reassured me and looked me in the eye and said "Brandie. You are progressing and doing wonderfully. You ARE making progress. Do not be discouraged. Just because you are only at 5 now does not mean you can't be to 10 in 20 minutes." Funny she said that, because that's almost exactly what happened.

Once I got comfortable on the bed Sherry tried to break my water but couldn't! She tried several times and decided to stop because my bag was apparently really thick and she didn't want to risk poking baby's head. As soon as I laid on the bed and closed my eyes I felt like my labor just exploded. Things went from about 50 to 100 in a matter of minutes. Sherry was so tender and loving and made sure I was comfortable in every way. She propped a pillow between my legs to open them up and create space and that felt amazing. Her and Kyle were focused on me and helping me through the contractions. They were becoming more and more intense with each one, but I was still able to truly relax between them. I think I might've even fallen asleep at one point.

Eventually things escalated and I reached the point of no return. I've done it four times and I can say with absolute certainty, I DO NOT enjoy the pushing part of labor. Up until that point I can remain calm, I can control my actions and thoughts and emotions, but once I am transitioning and pushing, it's all over. Sherry again attempted to break my water, but was unsuccessful again. I started to have serious urges to push and I just went with it. The 10 minutes or so leading up to Everly's birth were SO intense. More intense than with both the boys. I was in this state of panic and wanted it all to be over and I said the infamous words "I can't do this!" I say it every single time I give birth, you'd think I would eventually realize that I CAN do it. :) In those moments I truly feel like I am on the verge of collapse and I always have a moment where I feel as though I cannot continue. Kyle did a wonderful job of encouraging me and giving me someone to push and pull on while pushing. I remember during all of it Kyle saying excitedly "I see hair, I see hair, Brandie!" and that did help motivate me. This was the first time I used profanity during labor and most definitely dropped two loud F bombs.

It all happened so fast. I went from 5 cm dilated to Everly's head coming out in less than an hour. INSANE. Once her head was out I was still trying to fight against the urges and I was in a state of panic and I was actually trying to shut my legs. That's when the midwife instructed the nurses to hold my legs open. Within a few seconds she was out and I once again experienced the thrill of meeting my baby and discovering if they were a boy or girl. Almost instantly Kyle was in tears and said the most beautiful words "It's a girl." In that moment, every emotion I had felt over the last several years, all the months of pregnancy, all the conversations I had with people and myself about the sex of this baby hit me in this huge wave and I was in a state of complete euphoria. Labor was over. My baby was here and healthy and crying in my arms. She was a GIRL. Cambria had a sister. Happiness. Joy. Exhaustion. Tears. LOVE.

The life force <3

The next hour or so was just a blur of  me being in disbelief, our first time nursing, cutting of the cord, medical checks, and just pure and utter happiness. I felt like it was Christmas morning as a kid x100. I had wanted Everly to be a girl so so SO badly and the fact that she was just blew my mind.  I couldn't believe how much I instantly loved her.

We had already decided that we weren't going to tell anyone not present at the birth the sex until the kids knew. I was just so happy and feeling post-birth high, I wasn't concerned about anything other than enjoying my new baby. She was so perfect. Pretty much right away she started to develop brusing on her face from her fast and furious arrival. I was anxious to know how much she weighed, so Erin (the midwife who took over for Sherry) took Everly to the scale and we discovered she was out biggest baby yet at 8 lbs 4 oz!

Shortly after this the kids arrived with Sibyl and we got to tell them they had a new SISTER. Because they were probably nervous and overwhelmed walking into the room, they didn't have an kind of exciting or special moment when they discovered Everly was a girl. They were more excited to see Casey at first since they didn't know she would be there. haha.  After a couple minutes they started to climb onto the bed and took turns holding their new sibling. The next hour or two we spent time talking and admiring Everly in between a couple newborn checks.

After the kids left with Sibyl and my mom and sisters left I took a shower and we snuggled with Everly before being discharged from the birth center. 

After a few final checks we were discharged and made our way home with baby #4. Even after three other times of doing it, something about driving home with your brand new baby who is just hours old always feel super surreal. The rest of the day was spent resting, nursing, enjoying a visit from my dad, and working on the very beginnings of our adjustment to being a family of six. What a special and beautiful addition Everly Rain was and continues to be.  

In the few weeks leading up to Everly's birth we found each onesie and hat that the kids wore home from the birth center. I let Cambria pick the design for Everly's onesie since each onesie has been handmade and I think she picked the perfect symbol. :) I am beyond thankful for each of my beautiful children and cannot wait to watch Everly grow and learn right along side them! <3