September 27, 2016

The Day Our Family Was Completed

Mama and Baby
For each of my children, I've written down their birth stories. Each one is different in it's own way, but they are some of my most cherished memories and I don't want to forget the tiniest details that made each day so special. September 2 was another day that will forever be burned into my memory in the most meaningful of ways.

My littlest boy's birth story started back when I was 36 weeks pregnant and false labor reared it's ugly head in the form of regular contractions that would keep me awake at night. While I didn't want to deliver until I technically hit term at 37 weeks, it gave me hope that the end was right around the corner. Little did I know that we had weeks of pregnancy still ahead of us.

The days dragged on as we watched and waited, the nights even longer with the occasional bout of painful, timetable contractions. 37 weeks came and went, then 38. I couldn't imagine we would make it to 39, but we did, much to my dismay. By that point, it had all become a mental game of waiting; agonizing over every little twinge, hoping it was an indication of labor. Due to a myriad of factors including my history of birthing large babies and the fact that all indications suggested that I would be going quickly once labor began, a plan was set in-place with our midwife to jumpstart labor once I arrived at my due date due.

The days ticked by slowly until September 2 finally arrived. I awoke at 2am to painful contractions once again, not daring to hope that this was finally true labor. Once again, the contractions slowed around 6am and discouragement set in.

We knew that we needed our baby to be in the ideal position to break my water and move the laboring process along, and even a few days prior, he had been far too high, a risk factor that would've made rupturing my water much too dangerous to attempt. Without high hopes, Jonathan and I left for the birth center that morning to see where we stood even as I continued to have the occasional contraction.

Our favorite midwife (the same who delivered Mary) was on-call that day and she ushered us inside the quiet building. It was closed for the day and we were the only ones there. Immediately, we went into the exam room and she checked my body, giving us the good news that baby was finally in the right position. I was dilated to a four and the contractions the night before had been just enough to move everything forward enough to proceed.

We waited a few minutes for a nurse to arrive to assist in the delivery with our midwife while the three of us swapped stories and joked about our baby following in his big brother's mischievous footsteps. Jonathan and I selected a birthing suite and he brought our bags inside.

I had no idea what to expect once my water was broken. I knew that it could easily kick things into a fast and furious labor... but it could also take time to begin, much like my labor with Mary. Once it was time, I laid on the bed and held Jonathan's hand, nervous about what was ahead, but then it was over. My water had broken and I got back up, standing next to the bed and chatting with our birth team and my husband.

I had the occasional strong contraction, but it was clear that true labor hadn't yet begun. I could talk and even laugh through the pain at that point. We waited for over an hour for things to progress by themselves, but when that wasn't happening, our midwife suggested a technique to induce contractions and move my body into active labor.

After an exhausting night with contractions that had kept me awake, my energy was starting to lag, so we started stimulating contractions and within moments, it was a night and day difference. Gone were the contractions that I could ignore; suddenly, I was faced with the kind of contractions that I could only moan through as Jonathan quietly encouraged me and rubbed my back.

I remember so vividly rocking back and forth as each contraction hit, wondering how long it would take our baby to move down as I tried to hold off on getting into the warm bath as long as possible. I knew that the water would take the edge off the worst of the pain and I wanted to wait, to make it count, when I needed that extra help.

Finally, I moved to the tub, leaning against the edge on my knees and clutching Jonathan's hand as he sat just outside the tub in front of me. I moaned through each contraction, tightly gripping his hand with one of mine and the side of the tub with the other. With each surge, I told myself that this was it- with the next contraction I would finally feel the urge to push and it would all be over.

I lost all sense of time as I sat there with my eyes closed. I remember praying silently over and over for strength and help. The contractions got worse and I felt doubt creeping in as I wondered if I was strong enough to finish. I looked up at Jonathan and asked why the baby wouldn't come.

Tears came as more contractions hit and I reached my breaking point. I opened my eyes and told Jonathan that I needed nitrous. I couldn't do it anymore. The baby wasn't moving down, I didn't have the urge to push, and the pain was just too much. My midwife gently asked if I was sure and one of the nurses went to get the equipment.

Another contraction hit as she brought it into the room, but this one was different. After what felt like an eternity, I felt the urge to push and realized that I didn't need nitrous after all. The contraction peaked and I reached down, needing to feel my baby and searching for the motivation to continue pushing. I felt the top of his head in the palm of my hand as another contraction approached.

I remember screaming, partly from the pain of the contraction and partially from a place of pure, primal need to push my child out. Then, suddenly, he emerged. I looked down and saw him enter the world underneath the water and I reached out, pulling him up and laid him against my chest. I was sobbing with a mixture of relief and joy and I looked up at Jonathan, seeing that same joy echoed on his face. Our son had safely arrived, after all of those weeks of waiting.

William Jonathan Gamlin, named in honor of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, was born at 1:28pm after a short but furious 45 minutes of laboring. Our sweet boy weighed nine pounds exactly and was 21 inches long. After he was born, we spent the first hour enjoying skin to skin bonding time and nursing, relishing in the quiet with our newest little baby.

William's delivery was the answer to our hopes and prayers over the past forty weeks as we had anticipated adding to our family. We knew that there were so many variables that went into the delivery itself and we had hoped that everything would go smoothly. The fact that we were able to have another healthy baby was a tremendous blessing and something that we didn't take for granted as we savored being new parents one last time.

After four hours at the birth center, we were able to go home where we were greeted by the sweetest sign on the garage welcoming our baby. William was met at the door by all three of his siblings who couldn't have been more excited to greet him.
Mama and Baby
Since that day, we have settled into life as a family of six. More often than not, it's pure chaos as we navigate nursing schedules, nap times, homework, and school drop-offs, but we are finding the quiet moments in between the bustle of daily life. There are newborn snuggles in the wee hours of the morning and soft reminders to the toddler to give gentle hugs to her little brother. There are questions from the big kids about life and the new baby and quiet good nights so we don't disturb a lingering nap. These are the good days, the ones we will look back on and smile in the years to come, days that are precious and that are going by all too fast.

July 31, 2016

Preparing

Naptime Fun
These days at our house are full of preparations. Preparing for the new baby. Preparing for school. Preparing for life to change forever as we embark on the adventure of becoming a family of six and what that will mean.

The lists abound. We have lists of things to do before our baby comes; things to pack, things to remember, things to do immediately after he's here, and many more. Just as quickly as we are checking things off of our list, more things take their place. Some are as simple as chores that require more time than what we will have once our little one arrives, while others are projects that have to be completed or things that need to be purchased. So much has already been accomplished and the final big hurdle for us will be Evelyn's birthday parties before we can truly stop and breathe.

In the midst of the preparations, I'm trying to keep my chin up and pull through the rest of this pregnancy. I'm finding that so very hard to do as everything aches and things that used to be simple are ten times more difficult than they used to be. I know that this is a short time and that it will seem like a passing moment when I look back once our baby boy is here. While this pregnancy feels like it's gone by quickly simply due to the busyness of life, there are moments where it seems as though it will never end.

So many days, I wake up feeling as though I just need to get through the day. Just endure and get one day closer to delivering this boy and being able to move on with the rest of our lives. One day closer to being able to stand up or walk a flight of stairs without finding myself in utter misery. And yet even as my body aches from the cumulative effect of four pregnancies, I know that there are women who would kill to be in my shoes right now and that reminder puts me back in my place. It makes it easier to silence my complaints and remind myself that each day isn't something to simply "make it through," but a gift. Another day with my family, with my three children that are already here, another day to spend with my unborn son. It's something to be grateful for, not something to look at with dread, no matter how tempting.

So in the midst of these preparations and the abundance of lists, I'm trying to remember to be thankful. With only a few more weeks to go, these days are precious, even while they are challenging. I'm snuggling my babies a little extra and trying to make time to spend with each of them to feel special, knowing how my time will be monopolized shortly. And somehow, through it all, hopefully we'll find the time and energy to finish up those endless lists.

June 28, 2016

Meeting the Specialist

Baby Boy 3D This week has brought about one of our highly-anticipated baby appointments, the meeting with the perinatologist. Due to a thyroid condition that I wrote about here, we have had a little extra monitoring with my pregnancies to ensure that my body isn't causing any problems for baby. While all indicators so far had been full speed ahead, it's always a little nerve-wracking to go in for this kind of appointment, especially if you're armed with the knowledge of the myriad of things that could potentially go wrong.

We were fortunate enough to get an ultrasound technician who took her time looking all over baby's tiny body, taking detailed measurements, and even giving us a few souvenir 3D shots of our little boy's face (using my placenta as a built-in pillow). It was breathtaking to see his little body- especially his tiny heart- in such amazing detail.

Once the scan was done, we spoke with the specialist who, despite some confusion on when I was actually due to give birth, reassured us that baby is looking healthy, strong, and slightly big (which basically puts him on track for being about the same size as his brothers and sisters at birth). She did recommend that we have one more ultrasound next month, just as a precaution, to be certain that baby is still growing properly, but at the present, we really couldn't ask for any better results.

This little boy is healthy, strong, and developing a serious soccer kick that will be rivaling his brother's in short order. And with all the babies that are arriving to friends this summer, let's just say we are eagerly counting down the days until this little boy is in our arms too!

May 31, 2016

Boy or Girl?

Gender Reveal Party
Gender Reveal Party
Gender Reveal Party
Gender Reveal Party
In our house, we firmly believe that every baby should be celebrated. Since this baby is our fourth, we are pretty well-stocked in the baby gear department so we definitely didn't need a baby shower, but we still wanted to celebrate this little one with some of our closest family and friends! We had never done a gender reveal party before so we decided to go out with a bang with our fourth child.

After a bit of planning and a whole lot of excitement when Jonathan and I found out the results at our ultrasound earlier in the week, we were ready to reveal whether we would be adding a whole lot more pink or blue to our family. The grandmas cut the cake and the kids got to be the first to find out... that they are getting a baby brother (which was what they had their hearts set on from the very beginning)!

We are so excited to even up the numbers in our house in just a few more months! We are already counting the days... and so are the wee ones!

May 30, 2016

One More Time

Profile
Little Foot
So apparently we have a bit of catching-up to do in this little space, especially since this little one is getting closer and closer to making an appearance and I don't want to completely forget what it's been like to gestate this tiny person!

After Mary was born, we were pretty set on being a family of five. In fact, we were so certain of that fact that we made plans to make our decision permanent, but as the day grew closer and closer, I started to feel more and more unsettled with our choice. I saw our older two kids playing together so well and I realized how much more fun (and chaotic) our family would be with another child close in age to Mary. So after a lot of discussions and prayers, we cancelled our appointment and made the leap, hoping that we would be fortunate enough to get pregnant quickly.

God was so good. We were certain that we wouldn't get pregnant right away since things with Mary took a bit of trying, but on December 27th, just weeks after we had begun trying, we found out that we would be a family of six! It's going to be crazy around here in the fall... but we are embracing the chaos, one more time.

Welcome to the family, baby number four!