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I know I don’t write much (or really, at all) here anymore.  However, the overall story told on this blog would not be complete without including the details of Quentin’s birth.  So I am returning to this space to tell one more birth story.

On Friday, October 3, I went to my OB for my 39 week checkup.  In my prior checkup, I was barely 1 cm dilated and 60% effaced, but I’d been contracting off an on throughout the week, so I was hopeful the contractions had been productive.  To my dismay, I made only slight progress.  I had gone from “barely 1 cm” to a “loose” cm, and I was the same amount effaced.  However, there was 1 big improvement, and that was that I had dropped extremely low, which my OB said was a very good sign.  He stripped my membranes, telling me it would likely put me into labor or get me close to it.  I had hoped for labor, which I didn’t get.  However, I did get the “close to it”.

I went back to work that day, waiting for the contractions that many who’d had their membranes stripped told me to expect.  Nothing happened until around 7 that evening, at which point the regular contractions started and continued throughout the night, allowing me little sleep.  I was very hopeful something was going to happen the next day.  In fact, my husband woke up early to pack his hospital bag, and we even made arrangements for Liam and Elena’s overnight care.   Then, as if out of nowhere, the contractions all but stopped.

I was frustrated and disappointed by the stopped contractions.  My goal for this pregnancy was to avoid another c-section, and in order to have a successful VBAC, I knew my body would need to at least act like it was headed into labor on its own.  My OB was willing to let me go a week past my due date, but that concerned me too, knowing that Liam and Elena had both been nearly 8.5 lbs at 39 weeks.  I was afraid if I went to 41 weeks, I would be birthing a 9.5 lb baby, and I doubted my ability to do that.  The last thing I wanted was to go through labor and have a c-section at the end.

My OB checkup for the following week had been scheduled for  Wednesday, October 8, but when Monday arrived, I was too impatient.  I had to know if all that contracting had at least done something.  Fortunately, there was an opening at 10:45 a.m., and so I changed my appointment time.  My thought was also that if my OB stripped my membranes again only a few days after doing it the first time, it would perhaps send an even stronger message to my body to get things going.  He also told me that if it didn’t put me into labor this time, he was confident it would cause enough change as to make my body favorable for induction, so we scheduled that for October 10, just in case.

I arrived at my appointment, and learned that I was still only dilated 1 cm, but I had moved from 60% effaced to 80% effaced.  I had hoped for more, but was satisfied with that progress since it had only been 3 days since my prior check.  My OB stripped my membranes again, and this time I immediately started feeling contractions.  I went back to work, even though the contractions made it very difficult to concentrate at times.  They continued in regularity through the night, resulting in another night of little sleeping for me.

The next morning, I was afraid to get out of bed, worried that getting up and moving around would cause my contractions to stop.  I got up and started to get ready for work and the kids ready for daycare, but the contractions kept up in regularity and intensity.  They were about 5-8 minutes apart, so not quite active labor, but still very regular.  After some deliberation, I decided I should stay home from work, because some of the contractions were painful enough to not trust myself behind the wheel of a car.  I told my boss that I would come in later if things subsided as they had the previous Friday.

I sat down at the desk and finished editing a photo session I owed a friend, and by the time I finished it was after 11, and things were getting quite painful; however, the contractions weren’t getting any closer together.  I called my OB’s office and asked if I should come in for another check, and they recommended I go to the hospital.  I called Nathan, and he left work to come get me.  We arrived at the hospital around 2 p.m.  He headed back to work, and I told him I’d call him as soon as I knew whether they would be keeping me.

Once I got checked in, the first thing they did was do a cervix exam.  I was still around 80% effaced, but was 2 cm dilated.  They told me the only way to know if I was in active labor was to keep me for a little while and do another check a few hours later.  If I continued to make progress, they’d keep me.  Otherwise, they said they would likely let me go home, but they expected I would be back by the next day if that happened.

They hooked me up to the monitors, which confirmed my regular contractions.  They also wanted to get a good reading of the baby’s heartbeat.  If everything looked ok, they would have me take a walk for an hour or so, come back and get checked again, then decide whether to officially admit me.

After a little bit of waiting, the resident doctor came in to talk to me about the baby’s heart rate.  He was having some minor decels when I had contractions, which raised a bit of a red flag.  He called my OB’s office, and they said to go ahead and admit me, because they wanted to keep an eye on things.  Of course, this caused me more than a small amount of panic.

I got checked into my room around 4:30, and at 5:30 they decided to go ahead and start Pitocin on the lowest possible dosage (level 1) to help bring my contractions closer together.  They checked me an hour later, and I had progressed to a 3 by this point, so we knew I was definitely in active labor.

The nurse kept recommending an epidural, because our baby continued to have decels.  They weren’t worried, because he kept recovering from them.  But, if that were to change, and the need for an emergency c-section should arrive, if I didn’t have an epidural in place, then I would need full anesthesia.  I hated the thought of getting the epidural so soon, because I was managing the pain just fine.  However, I also wanted to make things easier the need for a c-section did arise.  So I went ahead and requested the epidural.  My request was timely, because shortly after, the labor pains became very close together and much more intense.  My water also broke around this time, so I knew things would only become more painful until his arrival.

They checked me again shortly after 9 p.m.  This time, I was 4 cm dilated.  Based on Liam’s labor, I figured I still had several more hours.  I tried to sleep, but couldn’t due to the stress of the decels.  I knew the doctors and nurses were watching me closely, so I’m not sure what I thought my vigilance was meant to add to all that, but my worry was great, and so sleep was out of the question.

Shortly after 11 p.m., his heart rate dropped down to 85 bpm, which is extremely low for a baby.  Not only did it drop down, but it wasn’t coming back up.  The nurse ran in, and the next thing I knew they were putting an oxygen mask on me and a team of doctors and nurses rushed into the room.  Thankfully, his heart did eventually recover, but it kept dropping down very low, so I knew something was going to have to happen fast.  I expected them to tell me I was headed to the operating room.  However, instead, they checked my cervix again.  To my surprise, I was fully dilated and our baby’s head was engaged!  They asked if I had felt the urge to push, and I said no, but then the epidural was probably shielding that.  I concentrated hard, and I told them I actually did feel like I could push.  My doctors gathered around me, and I started the pushing process around 11:23 p.m.  After 3 contractions and just over 10 minutes of pushing, Quentin Oliver was born at 11:35 p.m.

On his way out, it was determined that the cord was wrapped tightly around his neck.  I actually had to stop pushing during one of the contractions so they could cut it for his safety.  They don’t normally cut the cord that quickly, but they had no choice.  This is why he kept having decels.  Once he was out, they laid him on my belly, and he lifted up his head and looked at me, but he did not cry, which of course made my heart race with panic.  I could tell from the look one everyone’s faces that they were not worried.  They simply took him over to a baby bed and gave him oxygen until we heard that comforting little angry scream telling us that everything was going to be ok.

They weighed him, and we learned he was 7 lbs 7 oz, which was quite a shock to me, given that I expected him to be closer to 9 lbs!  They didn’t measure his length immediately, instead they brought him back to me for some skin to skin snuggle time.  However, we later learned that he was 20.5″ long.

While the decels were more than a little scary for me, especially accompanied by the fact that I was laboring after a c-section, which also has risks, overall, it was the easiest birth I’ve had.  I’m so glad he is now in our arms, safe, and he is doing wonderfully!  I can’t wait to watch him grow into the person he is meant to become.  But, for now, I’m happy to keep him little as long as possible.

 

Update

I knew a day would come when this blog was no longer a place I felt the need to maintain frequently.  It seems as though that day has come.  A big part of this can be attributed to how busy we are these days.  Writing, for me, is not about sitting down for 5 minutes and doing an update, though my most recent posts are definitely that.  What makes writing enjoyable for me is the emotional force behind it, glazing each word with depth and realism that cannot be conveyed in an everyday state of mind.  This type of writing requires going deeper within oneself, meditating on life, clearing the head, and letting one’s soul do the talking.  Getting into this frame of mind requires a commitment, both of time and emotion.   It’s a freeing place to be, and I do hope to work writing into my life again in the future.  But, for now, there are other things pulling at me, and I must choose.

I have an energetic 3 year old boy who wants to play baseball, sing songs, and color.  I have a 15 month old girl who wants to read books, snuggle (which also involves throwing anything in sight on the floor during this time), and play.   I have yet to announce this here, but we have another baby boy due October 9, 2014, just a day after Madelyn’s due date nearly 5 years ago now.  Oh, and we just got our final test result from genetics today – everything looks perfect and normal so far!  I’m still working a full-time job, which keeps me away from home more than I’d like.  And a year ago I finally decided to pursue a long-time photography passion, and have launched my first business.  My website is http://www.heathermohrphotography.com.  I invite you to check it out!   And, last but far from least, I’ve been working with Sufficient Grace Ministries to build a work here in the St. Louis area.   It’s been a slow process, slower than I’d like with so many other things happening in my life and only so much time available in a day, but I’m not giving up on that.  I did accomplish obtaining my doula certification through Still Birthday and have gotten on the call list for one hospital.  But I do need volunteers in this area, especially now that I’m expecting another child.  If you know anyone who is interested in this area, please do send them my way.

And so through all of this, writing has taken a back seat.  It makes me sad in a way, because, writing is what gave me the most peace while in my most intense stages of grief.   But, I am finding peace in many other areas of my life right now.   I’ll be the first to admit my life is far from serene.  But it makes me happy.  And I know writing will always be there for me as an outlet when I need it, as it always has been.

 

 

Quick Elena Update

As I was listening to Elena’s contented babbles this morning, I realized I desperately need to do an update on her.  She has changed so much this past month –  it’s blowing my mind!  Below is a snapshot of some of the things she’s learned to do lately.

  • She rolls both directions very easily  now.  She’s been rolling to her tummy since since she was 4 months old, but she started rolling the other way closer to 5 months old.
  • She is sitting.  She started sitting without support a day or two after she turned 6 months old, and she is able to do it for longer periods of time each day.
  •  She is in the snatchy stage – if I am holding something, she takes it out of my hand and usually waves it around in the air.  Often, but not always, it goes to her mouth.
  • She has started banging things around – if she is holding a rattle, she will bang it on the table.  She’ll also bang on things with her hands.  I think she may have gotten that idea from big brother, who bangs on everything with a surface.
  • She is babbling.  It started a couple weeks ago with the “yiyiyiyiyi” sound.  Now she is making the traditional “babababababa” sound and has even said “mama”!
  • She concentrates so hard on things – she will furrow her brow and study something, and then she’ll get excited and start waving her arms and jerking her body around. I need to get that on video, because it’s hard to describe.  Of course, as with most babies, when I try to take a video, the action comes to an abrupt halt.
  • We had her 6 month checkup last week.  She weighs 14 lbs 12 oz (20-25th %tile) and is 27.75″ (>98th %tile).  Her head is in the 50th %tile.

I think that’s everything for now!

 

The Missing Details

This week-end, I had the opportunity to share Madelyn’s story multiple times.  As I was doing so, I realized that while I have shared the details on this blog, so much is missing.  I’ve decided I want to go back and rewrite each of my children’s stories.  Some of this will be recap for those who have followed my blog since the beginning.  However, I’ve always known at some point I would pull all the pieces together into one cohesive story.   I’ll be starting with Madelyn in the next post, though it may take me days or even weeks to finish it, as I can’t always blog for long stretches of time these days.

6 months

Almost a week ago now, Elena turned 6 months old.  What?????  This time in our lives is so precious, yet so fleeting.  I wish I could extend it somehow, but instead I’ll have to settle for savoring every single moment.

One of the reasons I keep this blog going is to document the development of my children.  This blog serves as my virtual baby book in that way.  I use it to track milestones, growth, and cute stories I’ll enjoy reading when the days of small children are over for me.  I am glad to have this place to record all of those things, even if I don’t get a chance to do so as often as I’d like.

As I was looking back over my blog recently, I realized there are some very important things I have failed to document.  These are things I know I will never forget, but know I should record anyway.

I want to remember Elena’s skin, velvety against my lips.  The way her satiny hair swishes behind her as she takes her bath.  The way that same hair felt like down in the days after her birth.

I want to remember the way her giant smile fills her whole face the moment she sees me in the morning.  The way she giggles when she sees her brother.  And the smiles she gives her Daddy when he is sitting across the room.

I want to remember her tiny hands, and the way they curl around my finger.  The way her little legs feel squishy, even though there isn’t much to them!

I want to remember how Liam scrunches up his entire face when he laughs.  And how it takes so little to see that laugh.

I want to remember his sheer wonder at things most adults find ordinary.

I want to remember how he takes a different collection of toys to bed with him each night, and will not part with them.  Last night it was his sunglasses, his iPod, and his drumstick.  Usually a book is included in the mix.

I know there are more, so many more.  I’m going to try to include these simple, sweet moments in my updates as well as the milestones going forward.

Speaking of milestones, Elena is sitting!  She also has become quite the grabber – she will snatch anything she can, including our skin!  She rolls in both directions, and she scoots around on her belly.

Liam is doing more speaking in sentences.  He is also counting to ten and can almost say his ABC’s.

It seems they both learn something new everyday!  Now if only I could find the time to blog everyday, I know I would so appreciate it in about 10 years!

Liam

Liam will be 2.5 years old on July 1, and Elena will be 5 months on June 25.  Both are hard to believe, but right now I’m having the most trouble accepting that my baby boy is so close to being 2.5!  It’s crazy how much he has changed this year.  He still looked so much like a baby at 2.

Here were his 2 year pictures.  Granted, the were taken a few weeks before he actually turned 2, but look at that baby face!

http://www.donnaharrisphotography.com/

Here is a picture I took exactly 1 week ago. (Ignore that his shirt doesn’t fit with this scene – this was not a planned photo shoot.  We were just scouting out a park!)

Liam in Field (1 of 1)

What a difference!

He has all of a sudden become quite talkative.  He is constantly talking and telling us things, and I would say we understand most of what he says now.  He still loves he drums and the guitar – I cannot decide which he prefers overall, though right now he seems to be on a drum kick.  He has this drum with drumsticks, and he beats on that thing from morning until night.  If his drumsticks aren’t handy, he will use whatever he has in his hands as a drum:  silverware, toys, his hands, etc.  He likes to tap the side of his car seat to the music in the car, too.  He can even identify drums and the guitar as songs come on the radio, and if he hears a song that does not have drums in it, he is prompt to let us know he wants a different song, because that one doesn’t have drums.  I mentioned this to his teacher at daycare, and she said it is quite impressive that he can identify instruments on a song.  I asked her if all 2 year olds have the interest in drums and guitar he does, or if it’s something I should watch as a potential natural talent for him, and she said definitely watch it, because it isn’t something that naturally draws all of them.  This piano playing mama likes the sound of that!  Of course, I will be thrilled no matter what his talents are, and I will do my best to help him nurture them.  That’s one of my jobs as his parent, after all!

Liam is also really into baseball, which makes Daddy happy.  He gets excited when it’s on tv, and of all the dress-up item available in his classroom, he chose to wear a baseball jersey yesterday.  He usually doesn’t dress up at all – he is very attached to his own clothes and very specific in what he wants to wear, especially when it comes to shoes!  He has been in his current classroom almost 6 months now, and only recently has decided dressing up in play clothes can be fun.

He is also developing quite the memory.  Last week-end I took him to the store with me, and I told him if he sat in the cart and didn’t throw fits, I would get him a milkshake.  We probably spent an hour in the store, but when we left, he quickly reminded me of my promise – he wanted that milkshake!  Of course, I got him one.

In addition to tracking milestones, I also want to try to remember the little funny things he does.  He makes us laugh often and, sadly, by the time I sit down to blog, I have often forgotten things, and I hate that!  I do remember one story, which I will share now.

Last Saturday, we went to visit Nathan’s family for Father’s Day week-end.  On the way there, I was asking Liam the animal sounds, and then I decided to throw in “What does Daddy say?” to be silly.  He thought about it for a minute, and his response was “uhhhh, sleep!”  That gave us a good laugh, since it is pretty accurate.  Daddy is usually the one telling him to go back to bed as he gets up through the night, since I am the one who has to feed Elena when she gets hungry at night (which thankfully isn’t often!).

Elena

Elena - Cream & purple (1 of 1) Elena B&W (1 of 1) Elena floral romper (1 of 1)

Elena is becoming quite the expert at rolling from her back to her tummy!  She will almost always roll after a few minutes of laying on her back.  Sometimes she wants put back on her back since she can’t get back there herself.  Other times, she focuses on her other new skill – scooting!  She can move several inches forward at a time.  She will stick her butt in the air and get this little determined look on her face, and she will make these little determined sounds as she moves forward ever so slightly.

She is laughing more and more these days, and it is usually at Liam.  She sure loves her big brother!  She’s also vocalizing more and trying out different sounds.

She’s still wearing some 0-3 month clothing sizes, but she is mostly in 3-6 months now.  She is so long, she can ever wear some 6-9 month sleepers if they are footed.  However, other than length, they tend to swallow her.  We can only get away with doing that with the brands that tend to run smaller.  Otherwise, we prefer footless sleepers for her.

She had her 4 month checkup on June 6.  She weighed 13 lbs 1 oz (25th %tile) and was 26.5″ long (98th %tile).  She definitely went through quite the growth spurt, and her eating habits showed it!

The next few weeks are going to be quite busy, so hopefully I will find some time to do updates.  Liam’s 2.5 year checkup is on 7/2, and Elena goes to the cardiologist on 7/4, so that will be a busy week!

SGM St. Louis Event

Many who follow my blog do so because they have also suffered a loss.  If that describes you, then more than likely you are familiar with Sufficient Grace Ministries (SGM).

SGM, represented by founder & President Kelly Gerken, along with Vice President Holly Haas, will be in the St. Louis area the last week-end of July.  On July 27, 2013 at 9:00 a.m., a SGM event will be held for anyone who is interested in getting involved in this ministry.  Volunteer opportunities exist for bereavement doulas (you can take a class through Still Birthday), photographers, and those able to knit or sew to make items for babies.  Meetings will also be held with hospital staff members.

If you are interested in attending for the purposes of becoming a volunteer, or if you would like to simply come see what SGM is about so you can share this resource with anyone going through a pregnancy with a potentially fatal diagnosis or a loss, we would love to see you at the meeting.

The event information is here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/206106282879428/

Please help us spread the word!

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