Saturday, August 9, 2014

Family Pictures 2014/Estella's 4 Month Pictures

You always hear about how by the third child there are no pictures in the albums, no writing in the baby book, no souvenir from that first hair cut, etc.  Well, I am doing my best for that not to happen to sweet Estella, and I am only kind of failing.

One thing I did drop the ball on was getting Estella's pictures professionally taken as a newborn...and, I was a month late with her 3 month pictures!  But, better late than never, so earlier this week we had a photographer friend take some pictures of us at a beautiful park in Richmond.  {And just for the record, I do plan on still doing Estella's 6,9, and 12 month pictures...hopefully on time!}

These are my favorites! Sorry for the big photo dump---I just want all my favorites saved here forever:

Love my sweet girl.

Such a Gemma face.

This is Gemma through and through!

What a cutie!

I love this boy!

Lovin' on each other.

Definitely nursing Estella in this one! :)

This face.

My girls.

Love of my life.

Baby feet.

Happy 4 Months, Little One!

Does it get any sweeter?!


Friday, June 20, 2014

The Birth of Estella Maris

The Birth of Estella Maris

This is the long's the only way I know how to do birth stories. :)

On Estella's due date, Luke left town for a soccer game in Charleston, SC.  {Several people thought we were crazy...but I didn't feel like the baby was coming anytime especially soon}. His team left earlier that morning on the team bus, but to hold out leaving as long as possible, Luke drove himself and didn't leave until about 5pm. He also only drove half way on Friday and drove the last three hours Saturday morning to minimize his distance from us should he have to turn around. 

What I thought would be my last belly pics--either 39+2 or 40+2 (I just know it was a Sunday :))
I had some contractions Friday and Saturday but nothing painful or close together. As soon as his game ended Saturday night, Luke started the six hour drive home to us {It makes me tired just to think about him driving a total of nine hours that day and playing a soccer game!}  Luke was anxious the whole time he was gone, worried that I would go into labor while he was away. Both of us were relieved when he started his drive home. Ironically, as soon as he was on the road, my contractions started getting more painful and consistent. We were hopeful that I would have the baby Sunday or Monday. But...that wasn't the case.

Having been through two labors before, I knew these contractions were not labor contractions. They were {mildly} painful and consistent, but they were also dependent on my position and didn't get progressively closer together or more painful. After days of having these contractions, I decided to stop taking the herbs my midwife had recommended to tone/prepare my uterus for labor. They were doing their job, but I figured all the contractions could be causing undue stress on the baby if my body wasn't ready—which is clearly wasn't. 

I was supposed to have a prenatal appointment on Tuesday, but my midwife, Nancy, had to cancel just as I was leaving to go to her house. I was disappointed because I was overdue and just wanted to know how I was progressing. So, the next day I called expecting to have an appointment, but Nancy said we would have to hold off another day because she needed to go visit the two new babies she delivered the day before. Emotionally, I wasn't doing well at this point. After a weekend of false labor contractions and then having my appointment postponed twice, I just wanted to be seen...and I was ready to have my baby.

Thursday afternoon I finally had my appointment. Luke and the kiddos came with me, which was great because Nancy hadn't met them yet. At the appointment, my midwife checked my progress. I was 2-3cm, and we asked her to stretch and strip my membranes. I was six days late, and I didn't feel super comfortable going past a week overdue. 

The evening I lost some mucous and had some cramping. More of the same continued in the morning. I remember calling my midwife on the way to an 11am doctor appointment for Gemma {she had a cough} to give her the update.  At that point, I was having contractions that took my breath away for a moment but nothing too crazy or consistent. After Gemma's appointment, Luke and I got the kids lunch and tucked them in for their naps, and I did last minute nesting!  I was running around getting laundry finished and cleaning up the house. 

At 1:30pm, I called Nancy to let her know I was having very painful contractions—I knew they were the real deal. Yet, I had been so busy running around that I hadn't timed them. Nancy said to time them for half an hour and then call her back. During that half hour Luke and I hung out—me lying on the bed during contractions—and took a couple final belly pictures. I think that is also when I called my family to ask them to say some prayers for us. 
41 Weeks!  Just 2 hours before we met our sweet Estella!
Smiling in between contractions.

Just after 2pm, I talked to Nancy and told her that my contractions were between 3.5 and 6.5 minutes apart--she said that she needed to be there!
Breathing through a contraction before Nancy arrived.
I am guessing Nancy arrived at 2:30/2:45pm, and I was 6cm dilated at that point.  She worked on getting her supplies set up, and Luke filled up the birthing tub. I labored in the water for a little more than an hour.  Probably around 4:30pm, I asked her to check me again because I was in so.much.pain, and I figured it must be time to push. 

Rosaries hanging on the edge of the tub in my line of vision to encourage me in my suffering.
Meanwhile, the kiddos woke up from their naps...and we were still without a sitter, as the people on our "list" were not yet available.  Luke turned on a show for them and came back to be with me.  The sitter showed up shortly.
My little Gem coming to say hi to Mama when she woke up from her nap.  How could I not smile with that ray of sunshine in the room?
Sure enough, I was ready to push.  I got back into the tub--we weren't insistent on having a water birth, but we were open to it.  However, I found myself to be too physically uncomfortable in the water and got out and onto the birthing stool.  Both Augustine and Gemma were born while I was in a bed, so the birthing stool was new for me but I thought it was good and helpful.  

The last twenty minutes of being pregnant, starting just before I got checked for the last time and ending with the birth of Estella were probably the most painful twenty minutes of my life.  Then again, maybe it just felt that way at the time!  Labor pain is so hard to remember--thank you, Jesus, for that!  Anyway, I pushed for probably ten minutes {my most common phrase during that time being, "I can't do this"--not great, but an improvement over the, "I'm going to die" that prevailed at Gemma's birth} and then our sweet Estella Maris was born.

While on the birthing stool, Luke was sitting on the bed right behind me to support me, and Nancy was in front of me to catch the baby.  It was neat being able to, more or less, see the baby being born.  Right when she came out, Nancy rested Estella on her leg so she could unwrap the cord from her neck, and then Estella came right up to my chest.  The way I was holding her was concealing her gender.  I asked Luke and Nancy if they knew if she was a boy or a girl, and neither of them did.  I rolled her away from my body to check and announced that she was a girl!  We were all happy and surprised--the same reaction we would have had if she was a boy, I suppose :).   

On my bed with my sweet baby girl just after she was born.  Nancy had been warming her blanket with a heating pad and then put it against her to keep her warm as we cuddled.
Nancy realized I was bleeding more than she would like and quickly gave me a shot of Pitocin.  Within a couple minutes after that, I delivered the placenta and moved onto my bed.  Augustine and Gemma, who were in the living room with a couple sitters when the baby was born, came in briefly to meet their baby sister.  Then we had the sitters take them out to Chick-Fila for dinner so we could relax with the baby and Nancy could do everything she needed to do.  {We also asked them to pick up sushi for our dinner!!  I always crave sushi while I am pregnant and have always wanted to have sushi and red wine for my first postpartum meal!}

Augustine and Gemma loving on their new baby sister.
Sushi and wine!!  Yum!
Proud Papa.

Nancy did my stitches while I cuddled and nursed my sweet girl.  I sucked down a protein drink and snacked on some almonds.  Nothing was rushed.  It was great.  At some point, Estella got her Vitamin K shot and was weighed/measured.  She was 7lbs, 3oz and 20 inches long--our heaviest baby by 6 ounces.      
Healthy baby!

I took an amazing herb bath that smelled delicious!  When Nancy left, just 3 hours after Estella was born, everything was all cleaned up, as though we had not just had a baby in our room! 

Our sitters arrived home with the kids around 8pm, bringing with them big smiles and sweet gifts for the baby.  Luke got them tucked in, and one of our sitters {who also happens to be a post-partum nurse at the hospital where Augustine was born} stayed around for another hour to to help us as needed.  She joined us for our sushi and wine, and then we called it a night.  
Our friend/babysitter/postpartum nurse, Priscilla!

My midwife, Nancy.
Having a home birth was everything we imagined it to be.  It is definitely not for everyone, but it is the ideal situation for Luke and my preferences.  We are so thankful that Nancy was willing to work with us so late in the game {I didn't meet her until I was almost 38 weeks pregnant!} and that we had a safe labor and delivery.  Glory be to God!!