Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All Hail the Birth Story (the Birth of Fred Bernard)

Alternate titles include:
- The Tale of the Lazy Uterus
- The Little Uterus That Could
- The Early Dilation Station and
- That Time I said "Screw it, we're going to the hospital"

It was hard to choose, but life is hard sometimes.

I had gotten to the point in the pregnancy, which is always around 36 weeks, where I was clicking on every single link to every single birth story I saw on the web. I was navigating to various favorite blogs searching through their archives to read birth stories. I do it every pregnancy, it's weird but it is some how cathartic for me and I think I thought it might just bring on labor. It did not.

I was also at the point in pregnancy, where-- after my 36 week OB visit when they declared me "3 to 3.5 cm dilated already"-- I was mentally mapping out what my birth story would be like for each life situation every single day. At the check out line in Walmart, at Sunday Mass, out at the park with the kids, while getting my traditional late pregnancy pedicure-- every single thing I did I thought "what if my water broke now, that would be a cool birth story". In the end the story really isn't that cool at all, but a baby came out of it so it must be told!

A standard disclosure: before you continue reading, as with all birth stories, this story will include various terminologies that may make some readers uncomfortable, the high usage of the word "uterus" already should give you clue.  There's more where that come from. Onward.

So yes, 36 weeks, 3 centimeters dilated, some early labor contractions but nothing too crazy. I was doing nothing whatsoever this entire pregnancy that would bring on early labor, I literally napped every single day and when I wasn't napping I was sitting on a couch as much as I could. Fifth pregnancy fatigue is no joke. So hearing that my body still decided to get ready for labor so early was a little frustrating. Because here's a little tidbit you might not know about the baby being that low that early: it feels like the baby is going to fall out. It's super weird and uncomfortable and it only got more intense as the baby grows.

By my 37 week visit I was at 4 centimeters and having loads more timeable hard contractions, which is a little frustrating while taking care of 4 kids all day every day. Every load of laundry I did I hoped it would be my last load of laundry while pregnant, same with grocery trips, toilets cleaned, meals cooked. I was just getting tired of doing all these things while having so much early labor.

Ista-proof of my misery

By 38 weeks I was feeling really fed up. We were thisclose to heading to hospital on the evening that I turned 38 weeks (birthday language? I don't know). I had gagged down some caster oil that morning to see if it would stir things up, but then I just threw most of it up and it only made contractions pick up a little.

Cue 38 weeks, 2 days pregnant and the day of my 38 week OB visit. I had big plans to go walking before hand and then beg her to check me to see if all these contractions were doing anything. I thought I might even ask her about stripping my membranes (grossest sounding thing ever!!) but I figured she wouldn't before 39 weeks. We were also going to go ahead and set up a 39 week induction  as a worst case scenario because we are moving in 2.5 weeks and I really needed to be on the other side of labor and recovering before starting to pack and move boxes and what not. Plus I was already so dilated and having so much early labor that waiting any longer 39 weeks was simply not going to happen.

So I did some pre-OB visit walking and contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart for the hour leading up to the visit. The doctor came in to see me and check to see if I was still progressing. The verdict?

5 cm and a "laboring cervix", whatever that means. But! All contractions had stopped as they always did and was a tad discouraged at the fact that I still might have to wait a week for an induction while sitting at 5 cm because my stupid little uterus was too lazy to just keep on contracting. It was like it hadn't gotten the memo from my cervix that there was a party and it was invited.

So I asked her about the "Stripping of the Membranes", and almost without a pause she said "sure". Let's just say it was as uncomfortable as it makes you feel when you say it and leave it at that. I called my mom on the way home to tell her the state of things, and being the on-the-ball-lady that she is, she swung home on her lunch break and packed her car to be able to leave after work. She is a true gem.

After that the contractions were twice as strong as before, but, wait for it... still not regular! By 1 o'clock that afternoon they had completely stopped and I was back to my standard afternoon-pool-of-tears self declaring to Mike that this was just not ever going to happen. I laid Joe down and cued up a Disney movie for the girls and laid down to nap, per the daily usual. I might have even dozed off but then a hard contraction woke me up and it hit me: if I go to the hospital, they are not going to send me home. Screw it, we're going.

I went and told Mike, called our sweet sitter and my mom and we got last minute stuff ready to head out to the hospital. At this point I think my uterus had finally gotten the invitation to the labor party and I was having pretty consistent contractions while trying to get out the door, but any other day of the week that would have just meant that they would stop the second we were sitting in the car. But not this time!

On the way to the hospital I had at least one contraction that I had to breathe through and where I did NOT think Mike's mid-contraction jokes were funny. That was a good sign and a few more of those before we got to triage brought me some hope that maybe, just maybe, this was the real deal. And it turns out, it was. Around 4:30 and after some monitor time with consistent hard contractions they punched my ticket and got me into a room and ready for my sweet, sweet epidural.
Smiling because I know the meds are on their way
While Mike updates the masses on our situation

By 6 p.m. the epidural was in and kicking and the staff let me know that my doctor had a c-section at 7:30 and that she would be coming in after that to break my water. So I sat and labored peacefully until 8:45 when she came in to check and see where things were at and...
still at 5 cm.

Mike and I started to worry a little at this point since 4 hours of very active labor hadn't moved me from 5 cm but my doctor seemed unconcerned. She broke my water and did some fancy shmancy labor position called a Texas roll, first on my right for 30 minutes and then over to my left for 30 minutes. By the end of the second 30 minute stretch I felt like it was pushing time so she checked me again and...
Whoa! There's a head!

The doctor didn't even have me move from my side-- she suited up, got ready and we waited for one more contraction and that is all it took.

One contraction, 3 pushes and out came baby Fred, with an umbilical chord wrapped around his little neck twice very tightly. After some working with him and some mild motherly panicking he finally pinked up and started crying and once they got him up on my chest he showed himself to be the most over zealous freshly birthed nurser I've had yet.


This morning was the morning I was scheduled to be induced but I think I got the better end of the deal: 5 days out and recovering better than last time for sure, with a sweet newborn to hold while typing a fairly uneventful birth story.

Hospital Highlights:

 First and most glorious hospital meal // Dinner (or lunch) for two care of the cafeteria // She takes awkward selfies in peace and quiet // A delicate blend of milk chocolate and baby

Now go read Sheena's if you haven't already!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

happy father's day

She's fresh out of the hospital and fraught with all sorts of excitement over not being pregnant and drowning in new-baby hormones, someone get that keyboard away from her...

Seriously though, I'm feeling all sentimental and overflowing with gratitude this father's day, and since I'm following Blythe's advice and mostly staying in bed, what better time than now to post a little tribute to the main father in my life, the one who just helped me birth him another son, the best man I know, the best father I know.
           ^baby Joe

Before we had our first baby, I loved him, but since knowing your husband before he's a dad and knowing him after is like being introduced to a whole other person, I just had no idea how much becoming parents would cause our love to grow, and how much more I could fall for him.
   ^baby Naomi

I remember him saying- in the days following Naomi's birth- that while he was in class during day and away from her, he felt like he had a crush on someone that he could not wait to get to see later- it was the cutest thing ever.
    ^baby Lucy

He lays down his life for us daily, sacrificing constantly to care for me and our children. He is a firm disciplinarian, but still manages to be the "fun parent", the one who can always make them laugh.

    ^Naomi & baby Bernadette

On Thursday when they placed little Fred on my chest I saw his eyes light up the exact same way they did when our very first baby was placed there- he has such intense and beautiful love for each of his children, and I am the luckiest woman ever to have him as my husband and their dad.

  ^baby Freddie

Happiest Father's Day to you, Mike! (you're also the hottest dad out there, hands down ;) )

Saturday, June 18, 2016


He's going on his second full day of life here on earth and still no blog introduction, to which I have to say #fifthchildproblems.

We are home and happy and healthy and feeling so very blessed. Thank you all for your many well wishes and prayers, I promise to be back with many more pictures and updates.

Consider yourselves warned.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

the last days

How's that for a melodramatic title? I've never been one to disappoint in the melodrama arena, this post is sure to follow suit.

These are the last days of my pregnancy with baby number five, and they happen to be coinciding closely with the last days of life here in Indiana. We've made it through 2 grad school programs, purchased and sold a home here, birthed (almost) 5 babies here, lived almost 8 years of our married life (all of our married life actually) here and now as we wrap up a pregnancy and welcome our 5th child, we say goodbye to the place that has been our home. Such a good home.

Just like the end of pregnancy, the last days living in this place are paradoxically extremely stressful and frustrating, and beautifully, wonderfully sweet.

Some days all I can focus on is all the little messes that the kids are making in this home which is no longer only ours anymore, and which we are attempting to keep semi-undestroyed before the new owner moves in. Then other days all I care about is soaking up every single moment here, and all I can do is smile while I watch them throw their Popsicle sticks all over the yard. Because it's still ours, and what a good yard it's been to us.

Some days pregnancy pulls me down to the pits of despair and all I can focus on is how enormously huge I feel and how insanely stressed I am at the thought that it could happen that no one would be available to watch our kids when labors strikes (how do you moms with no family in town handle this??).

Other days I whisper to tiny baby to just stay put for as long as he likes while I marinate in this being how things are: Joe still the baby, 3 wonderfully sweet little girls to be his little mamas, me nice and round and happily gestating. It doesn't need to change, it will all fly way too fast once baby is out and I'm in no rush.

In a lot of ways our last days here in South Bend are exactly like the last days of a pregnancy: full of excitement at the thought of a new place, of life changing in huge ways and being equal parts wonderful and stressful and different and fun but so hard.

The expectation of a new baby never gets old and I still feel the same apprehension and excitement that I felt when I was waiting to give birth to Naomi. How will nursing go? What will this baby look like? How will he change our lives? What will our new home be like? What will life be like in a new state with a new job and how will it simultaneously bless and stretch our family?

It's all hitting me all at once and for the most part it's just way too much to try to process mentally let alone bang out on the blog. But that's never stopped me from trying before, so there you have it.

If you need me I'll be coping on the couch with my bowl of peanut butter chocolate iced cream while I hide from the kids.

Friday, May 20, 2016

for sale signs and baby bumps {7 QT}

Welp, it looks like blogging in the thick of a super-high-stress time of life is good medicine for making things happen, so I'm linking up with Kelly to over-update the masses, like I do.

1) I blinked and several weeks of pregnancy were just gone.
34 weeks and in the home stretch, wha?!?!?
Sorry, my selfie game is weak, oh so weak.

2) Our home went "Sale Pending" within 3 days of having it listed.


I know home sales can be crazy and nothing is final or a done-deal until it is, but having multiple offers within a couple of days sure helped me breathe a little sigh of relief with regards to the whole house-selling deal.

3) I cannot but sing the highest praises of my much better half who lovingly sent me and the kids to Steubenville during the week leading up to listing our home and who took on every single ounce of work that needed to be done to make this place show-able: from painting the porch, to scrubbing our hard-water-stained tub for a total of something like 10 hours and then deep cleaning the entire house like it has never, and I mean never, been cleaned before (not to mention the yard work and loooooooads of indoor painting).

Stolen pictures from Zillow, I still can't believe the house was that clean.

Sure, it was hard work having the kids solo and being pregnant, but living with my in-laws, who were always up for offering any help they could and being able to bounce over to my parents house to let the brood burn off necessary steam with cousins was absolutely preferable to the glut of cleaning and fixing up that needed to happen here.

4) Once we listed the place Mike joined us in the Ville while our realtor took over and did her showing thing. We even got to take a little jaunt to our future home to attempt to find an actual home and.... drum roll.... we did! Which we absolutely could not have done without the aid of Mike's amazing parents who kept 3 out the 4 kids with them while we trotted off to Virginia, they are THE best.

5) We have had an offer accepted-- and again-- I know nothing is set in stone until the actual close date, but we found an adorable little place that will suffice for at least a few years without totally breaking the bank. So many prayers said, so many hours waiting for calls from realtors and banks. And I SO hope it is all on pause for now because, well, there is a baby to birth still. Yes, the BABY!

6) My first and third were born at 38 weeks and Joe surprised us at 37 weeks so 34 weeks definitely feels like we are getting close (Bernadette was a scheduled c-section and very breech). However, that does not mean that I have even a stitch of baby stuff out and ready, because I don't. Not a stitch. Who says "Stitch", how old am I? So I'll get on that at some point.

7) Anyways I think I'll end my rant-update there and close by thanking you all for your words of encouragement and support after my last post, I really needed them. For now it feels like the extra-insanity is on hold until we move, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Monday, May 2, 2016

You say it best...

I know that old country song is intended to be romantic but ever since Alison Krauss covered it in the early aughts, I always took her sentiment to be more of a "just please stop talking and everybody will be happier" one, which consequently makes that song funnier to me than it's supposed to be.

I didn't intend to abandon the blog over the past month, but life circumstances have made it so that whenever I open a "new post" in blogger I end up half way through a post that I think everybody would be better off not having read. Whether it's the age-old adage "if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all" or Alison Krauss's advice to say it best by saying nothing, both come to mind when I think of why I'm just not blogging right now.

Things are crazy.
They are crazy for everybody, I know.
And in the grand scheme of things, I know, I know, they are crazy because I am crazy blessed.
Por ejemplo:
- new baby coming
- 4 already born wonderful, albeit LOUD, children

- new job (for Mike) beginning end of summer
- prospect of a new home
- prospect of selling our home
- a move to a wonderful place full of wonderful people...

Blessings! All of them! I know!

And that is the reason for the blog silence, because I do not want to communicate to the masses my adolescent-style ingratitude, which is real, and unfortunate, and exists because I'm a baby, a big big baby. Who doesn't want to be selling and buying and moving right now but who would rather set up a temporary camp located on my bed where I have localized kitchen and bathroom access without moving from under my down comforter.

There I said it: I'm large and pregnant and exhausted and having a really hard time looking at all the tremendous blessings I am currently being given as blessings. However, that doesn't need to be inflicted on others in the form of whiny, complainy blog rants. I'll just stick with this one.

I know there are so many others dealing with real, legit difficulties and hardships the likes of which I have never faced. Judging by my inability to deal with tiny things-- like showing our house and the people not buying it, or putting an offer down on a home but having the owners go with the competing offer-- in any way other than pathetic ugly crying, it is a good thing God doesn't have those sufferings in mind for us right now.

I blame being pregnant for all of my reactions to life's hurdles bearing a striking resemblance to that of my 3-year-old's when Joe's takes her toy. Lest you think an adult tantrum can't rival a toddlers in intensity and duration, know that it indeed can.

I kid. Mostly.

But in reality I would probably be dealing with them exactly the same way whether I was pregnant or not, because I need more gratitude and I need to rely more on grace. So I'll work on that, but until then the blog may remain a place of silence until I can find something to say to you other than "life is so hard right now, wha wha wha!!"

In the mean time, send prayers and alcohol!

Monday, April 18, 2016

a serious case of the Mondays

I'm sitting down at noon on a Monday to blog, which in itself should give you a hint that this is sure to be therapeutic blogging at it's very best. Or worst. Because Monday. And it's only noon.

You see, when I first started this blog I primarily complained about how hard all the motherhood things were. Sure I sprinkled it with the occasional obligatory Gratitude Post, but I mostly just vented. And today I am hearkening back to the blog days of yesteryear because-- life is damn hard some days.

I do not even want to try to count the number of times I have set the kids up with an activity only for them to declare a mere 30 seconds later that: "I'm bored!", or "There's nothing to do!". Then there are the more frequent screams and screeches from one party because another party is holding their pencil  the wrong way and it enraged them, or one's pinky grazed the other one's calf and they found it utterly intolerable.

Oh and also we are selling our house next month and moving to a new state this summer soon after Fred emerges, so there is that too. I had grand plans for a substantially sappy post about the big life-change, but then pregnancy got the better of me by 9:30 as it usually does and I slept instead of finishing it.

So yes, Mike got a job! In Virginia! And we own a home here in South Bend! So we have to sell it!! NEXT MONTH!!!

So much crap to sift through and throw away, so many trips to the thrift store, so many messes being made by all the kids, so much packing, and kids screaming, and boxes and poopy diapers (not in the same place) and toddler tantrums and WAH WAH WAH! I know I am going overboard with the venting but something MUST take the place of the nightly strong alcoholic beverage that I can't have because of this human still gestating inside me. Really the majority of the stress can be chalked up to the those 2 things: the moving/selling/trying to find a house to live in and pregnancy, they are not, I repeat NOT, a winning combination.

Seriously, pregnancy is so sooooooooooooo looooooooooooooooooooong. So much weight gain and so little drinking to blame for it. So much falling asleep in the middle of talking to a children. So many teeth that still need to finish growing in the 21 month-old's mouth resulting in more non-bladder related sleep disruptions than I would prefer.

He is the slowest teething child ever. First tooth at 13 months and they've moved at a snails pace since then. I'm pretty sure he'll still be getting molars when he's heading to college.

Is my stream of conscious bothering you yet? Sorry, I'm going to keep going because someone is crying AGAIN and I would much rather sit here and rant than attend to whatever absolute nonsense has surely caused this emotional break down. It's already over. Ok good, onward.

Some good things:

Let me be the millionth Midwesterner to exclaim my high, HIGH praises for the weather which has finally started to consistently act like spring, I owe you all my current traces of sanity.

Always with the eating mud.
And Little Einsteins, you get a shoutout too.

Joseph has just started sitting through most of an episode and it is basically the nicest thing he's ever done for me, second to existing.

And the very best thing today? We have now made it to blessed, glorious nap time and no one is asking me for cheese or to wipe them.

Happy Monday, party people.