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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Healing and Sleeping

My healing has drastically improved since yesterday. I had a second follow-up appointment with my doctor and she determined that my walnut-sized clot (hematoma) was all localized enough in the same area that not only was it not going away on its own, but it was the perfect timing to drain it. So, right then and there she took care of it, quickly and mostly painless.

I got up this morning with a sudden burst of energy, partly because I just felt so relieved to have that hematoma gone but also partly because my little Lucy had a six-hour stretch of sleep last night, only waking up once at 2:45am. I was so shocked... that didn't happen with Ben and Hugh until they were like six months old (or maybe even older). I have a two-week old who sleeps!! And, even when she wakes up she grunts instead of cries. She is such a little angel baby!

So, with my sudden burst of energy this morning I got up and ground some wheat and then made a batch of bread. I tried to rest a little in between some of the steps, but after about an hour I started to realize I was probably pushing myself a little bit more than I was quite ready for. Luckily my mom came over and finished with putting the bread in the oven, as well as whipping up some banana bread with my very ripe bananas that had been sitting on the counter. She has been such a huge help this week. I'm so grateful for my family!

In other news, Ben and Hugh have been fighting naps lately. After almost two hours yesterday, they finally both fell asleep and got in a good two-hour nap. We thought the same might happen today, but after more than two hours had passed and they were still talking and laughing (and kicking and screaming, too), I got them out and let them sit on my bed watching a Chuggington movie while I nursed Lucy. Hugh lost interest as soon as my mom showed up and went to the kitchen to have some banana bread. Ben, on the other hand, was fast asleep within 20 minutes and slept for an hour next to Lucy. I know they still need a nap... I just don't know what to do to help it go a little more smoothly than it has been.

There is something very sleep-inducing about a sleeping newborn. Maybe I should just let Lucy work her magic on the boys tomorrow and see how it goes. Although, I'm pretty sure chances are greater that they'll start jumping on my bed like the two little monkeys they are. And, that rarely ends well for any of us.

Monday, July 23, 2012


It's hard to believe two weeks have passed since Lucy was born (well, as of tomorrow afternoon, anyway). In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday and in other ways it feels like she's been here much longer. I'm still confined to bed, mainly for the continued healing of the hematoma. Some say it's just a fancy way of saying "bruise", but the pain at times from this fancy bruise has been worse than labor itself. On some days it feels like it's getting better, but then other days I feel like it might just be the death of me. Every couple of days, it seems, I have a little breakdown - just feeling tired and frustrated at not being able to do anything.

The one (and possibly only) upside to having these injuries that are keeping me in bed is that I get to love on my sweet Lucy 24/7. She and I hang out in my bedroom all day, napping and nursing, and staring into each others' eyes during her waking hours. Those eyes, by the way, are looking like they might just turn out to be from me, which feels only fair since Hugh got his Daddy's.

Lucy is the easiest baby. She sleeps a ton - perhaps more than Ben and Hugh put together at her age. She's super mellow, except when her feeding has been delayed by more than five minutes. Oh, and if I dare to even have a taste of anything dairy, then she screams and squirms and isn't happy at all. So, just like with Hugh, I'll be cutting out all dairy for the next few months. It'll totally be worth it to keep her happy.

I was thinking back today to last November when I first found out I was pregnant. I had pretty mixed emotions, but I feel so ashamed to admit that there was any part of me that wasn't grateful and excited. It turns out that there was this big dark hole in my life that I wasn't even aware of that has now been filled with this little light of mine, Lucy. I can't help but look at her and feel completely overcome with love. She is such a beautiful little soul.

Plus, there is something about her presence that makes me feel just a little closer to Elliana and Emmaline. And, that is such a comforting feeling.

So, healing is going slow - much slower than I'd want - but I'm trying to soak up this time with Lucy and enjoy the slower pace in these early days of her life, knowing there will no doubt come a day when I'll wish I had these slow days back. And, having my parents to take care of Ben and Hugh has made it easier on me emotionally to not be there for them as much right now. There's no doubt they love spending time with "Bapa" and "GG".

So, Patience, it turns out is a virtue... and a lesson that seems to come around in different forms much more often than I'd like. I suppose I should make her a friend and let her teach me what she will.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lucy's Story - final thoughts

As soon as I found out I was expecting a baby girl, I became very nervous about accepting the idea. I had this fear of something bad happening, like with the twins, fate's way of telling me I wasn't meant to have a daughter. In those final moments before Lucy was born, I was just so anxious to know she was safe and healthy and alive.

That last hour of pushing was super intense. I kept getting reassuring feedback from everyone at their different angle telling me that she was coming, that her head was appearing, then that her head was out, and then just one more push to get the shoulders out. Dr. Crabtree, a marathon runner herself, and without knowing I've run marathons, kept making references to running a marathon. "Okay, you're at mile 25... just one more mile left..." Just one more thing to love about her.

And, with the final push, Lucy was placed on my chest. There aren't words to describe the feeling of being able to kiss her head and tell her how much I loved her. We did it. We did it together. A natural birth. A successful VBAC. A nine and a half pound baby. Under the care of the most incredible doctor.

The last couple of times I've seen Dr. Crabtree we've both ended up in tears, unable to express to each other what we both experienced in our different roles that day. I couldn't have done it without her. I also couldn't have done it without Marc and my sister. I was surrounded by the best team of support and love.

Within minutes of being born Lucy pooped all over my belly, and because she still hadn't let out a good cry, a nurse took her over to a bassinet to get her cleaned up and try to suction her lungs a little bit more. When they weighed her, everyone was so shocked at how big she was.

In the meantime, Dr. Crabtree was working on assessing my wounds. Turns out that pushing out a big baby can cause some damage. I ended up with a second degree episiotomy and a hematoma - basically a broken blood vessel that forms into a clot and can get worse over time if it doesn't drain on its own. So, I've been bed-ridden since coming home, only getting up when I absolutely have to (bathroom, shower, to sneak some kisses from my boys, etc...). So far it appears that things are healing on their own, but we'll see how things are at my appointment next week.

I was amazed at how perfectly Lucy came out, considering all my bruising and swelling. From the first moment, her coloring, her head shape, everything about her looked absolutely perfect. And, so far, she is the perfect little baby - sleeping 3-4 hour stretches at night, sleeping lots during the day, and eating like a champ. At her one week appointment this week she was already up to 9 pounds 11 ounces. She's outgrown everything newborn - diapers and clothing. Look at my little chunk of love:

Our little Lucy has added a new light to our lives and we love her so much. The boys come in to my bedroom throughout the day to give us both kisses and are constantly concerned with her having her blanket or her pacifier. They are adjusting so well to having a new baby sister. It's so funny how right away you forget what life was like before she arrived. It feels like she's always been apart of our family. We truly have been so blessed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lucy's Story - the arrival

By 6:30am we were finally settled into our birthing suite. Marc had our relaxing music playing in the background, the lights were dimmed, and when a contraction would come I'd reach out for Marc's hand, while focusing all my energy on keeping every muscle in my body relaxed with long, deep breaths.

At one point my nurse, Debbi, came in to check on us and made a comment about how we were the "picture perfect" example of a laboring couple. It gave us a nice feeling of assurance that whatever we were doing was perhaps just what we were supposed to be doing.

Contractions seemed to slow down some and rather than getting up to try to move things along, we just tried to relax as much as possible, knowing we'd need our energy for the final stage of pushing. At around 10:30am it seems like they checked me again and found that I was still at a 7, so that was when we decided I should move around a little and change positions.

We did the slow dance/swaying for a little while, where I braced onto Marc's shoulders and he held tightly to my elbows. Then I tried kneeling on the bed, leaning up against a stack of pillows for support. Then I tried laying on my side, which I found I didn't like too much.

Somewhere in all of that trying of new positions, Dawnette arrived. I was so relieved to have her there. She and Marc made the perfect laboring team for me. Marc offered such steady support and encouraging words, while my sister seemed to know exactly where to massage and would constantly remind me to relax and breathe through the contractions.

It was actually kind of funny how little we saw of our nurse and midwife. I guess they figured I was in such good hands that I didn't need them as much. And, I really was in the best hands.

I think it was sometime around 1pm when things started to feel more intense. I remember Dawnette asking if I felt the urge to push, and not feeling sure if I did or not, so I was making some deep groaning with my breathing until I felt sure of the urge to push. That was one thing I learned from Hugh's birth - don't start pushing before that urge comes.

Then, around 2pm the nurse came in to check me and said I was dilated to a ten and could start pushing.

After my experience of pushing for six hours with Hugh, and having the outcome of that be so traumatic for both of us, I had decided with this birth I'd give myself two hours of pushing and if the baby wasn't out in those two hours then I'd give in and have another c-section. I've always felt a little guilty that perhaps if I wouldn't have pushed for so long with Hugh then maybe I wouldn't have caused him so much stress and maybe we could have avoided the whole meconium aspiration and that hellish week at UCSF.

So, sometime around 2pm we got serious about pushing and it seems like about every 20 minutes my midwife was encouraging a new position. I must have tried every possible position there is. I was hooked up to a continuous monitoring of Lucy's heart rate through all of that, which fortunately showed her to appear very stable and steady with every contraction and every push.

After two hours she had made some progress, but seemed to be stuck. I'd push and they'd get a glimpse of her head and then the contraction would end and her head would disappear again. It all reminded me too much of Hugh's birth experience - that was exactly how it went with him. I remember looking and both Marc and Dawnette and telling them I was afraid she was stuck and I didn't want to her outcome to be the same as Hugh's.

There were moments when the pain was pretty intense, but I was mostly just so exhausted. I was sweating and breathing so hard I could barely catch my breath in between contractions.

When 4pm rolled around, the midwife quietly mentioned we might need to start considering the option of a c-section. At that point I spoke up and said something along the lines of, "Let's just do it. I'm done pushing. I just want her here safe and healthy." She left the room to go find Dr. Crabtree and I continued to push with that uncontrollable urge to push, begging someone to make the Dr. hurry up and get the c-section over with so I could finally have some relief.

By the time Dr. Crabtree entered my room I had long thrown in the towel. I wasn't sure what exactly Marc and Dawnette were thinking at that moment, but I could tell they both knew I was giving it everything I could and were there to support me with whatever the outcome. I was just relieved that neither of their looks made me feel like I had failed.

Dr. Crabtree, in her very gentle and calm way, sat herself down at the foot of my bed and asked if I'd push for the next contraction so that she could get an idea of where Lucy was. I agreed to give her one more push, after which she then said, "I think we can do this. If you can give me a few more good pushes, I think we can get this baby out together." There was something about her confidence in me that made me trust her completely. Suddenly there was a new wave of renewed hope and energy that filled the room.

With Marc on my right side and Dawnette on my left, each supporting me, and with Dr. Crabtree coaching and guiding and directing from her position, sure enough with a few more pushes and less than an hour later, Lucy was laying on my chest.

Lucy's Story - Progressing to labor

For the majority of my prenatal appointments I was seen by one of the five midwives who work under Dr. Crabtree. I did have one other later appointment with Dr. Crabtree where we discussed in greater detail what to expect and how to plan for a successful VBAC. I came with a long list of questions, a little nervous about finding out her answers, but left feeling encouraged and optimistic.

I had my last prenatal appointment scheduled the Thursday before my due date. At that appointment the midwife I met with asked if I wanted her to check to see if I was dilated. Right away it was clear by her struggle that things weren't already happening. She concluded that if I was dilated at all, I was maybe at a one. As I left that appointment, they scheduled two more appointments for the following week - Monday and Friday - with plans in place of what to expect if labor still hadn't started on its own.

I felt pretty discouraged the rest of that day, just feeling ready to be done. Done with being pregnant. Done with the mental anguish of the unknowns of what would happen with Lucy's birth. I was just done. So, I did the most logical thing I could think of at the time - I came home and made a huge pan of enchiladas.

Later that night, I decided that more important that anything else I needed to relax. I needed to get rid of the stress and tension I was feeling. So, I took a warm bubble bath, while Marc put on the relaxing music we wanted to play at the hospital during the birth and then he read from a hypnobirthing script to help relax my entire body. It was exactly what I needed and helped so much.

The next night, Friday, after getting the boys down for the night my dad came over so that Marc and I could go on a walk. We ended up going about 1.3 miles and it felt good just to get outside on a cool evening and have some time to be alone with Marc. We did have to stop periodically for some contractions, which made me feel a little better.

Saturday night we repeated our relaxation techniques and I was even able to imagine being in the hospital and feeling the same level of relaxation and calm.

Sunday night we decided to go on another walk. This time I was feeling pretty good, so we ended up going two miles. Even if it wasn't doing anything to get things going, it was just nice to have that quiet time with Marc. We got some pretty funny stares, clearly from people knowing the only reason a woman as pregnant as I was would be out on a long walk like that.

Monday came and, from what I could tell, I still hadn't progressed since my Thursday appointment. But, when the midwife offered to check me, I reluctantly agreed. I was both surprised and elated to hear her say I was dilated to a three, although I knew to keep the excitement in check since some can be at a three for weeks before going into labor. She guessed, though, that I'd be having this baby before my Friday appointment came.

That afternoon I felt some pretty strong menstrual-like cramps while trying to take a nap with the boys, and a few strong contractions later that evening, but then nothing. I called my sister, Dawnette, just to give her a head's up. We had made plans a few months ago to have her fly out for the birth, to act as my doula during labor. She isn't certified, but she'd used hypnobirthing with her youngest and she studied up on how to fill that doula role for us. I wanted her to be ready, just in case she were to get a phone call in the middle of the night.

And, it was a good thing I had given her some warning. At 11pm, just as I was trying to fall asleep, the contractions started. They were about 10-15 minutes apart at first, then got gradually closer together and stronger in intensity. I tried to relax through them and to sleep in between, if possible. I purposely tried to keep Marc from knowing, because I wanted him to be good and rested.

I think it was almost 3am when I called Dawnette to tell her to get to the airport for her 7:20am flight. At 4am, the contractions were strong enough that my moaning woke Marc. I filled him in on what had been happening for the last five hours and he encouraged me to get in the tub to relax while he got everything all together to go to the hospital.

While he was quietly rushing around, he was also timing my contractions with an app on is iPod. In that hour my contractions were averaging 3:48 minutes apart and lasting a minute long. So, at 5am, we called my parents. My Mom came over to be here with the boys while my Dad rushed to the airport to pick up my sister. And, Marc and I rushed to the hospital, with me kneeling on the floor behind the passenger seat, leaning over the back seat. I know it sounds like an awkward arrangement, but the thought of sitting up just seemed too painful.

Marc checked us in at the front desk of Labor and Delivery, while I braced a counter off to the side and swayed through a pretty strong contraction. They got us into a triage room and we waited for someone to come in and check my progress. I was preparing myself to hear that I was still only dilated to a three, so you can imagine my surprise when the nurse said I was dilated to a seven. It was really happening! Our baby girl would be arriving soon!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Four years

There is a song that I sang often while pregnant with my twins. It held so much meaning to me during my pregnancy that asked my sisters to sing it at the memorial service we had for them. And, now I sing it at night to our boys before putting them in bed. It's clear that Lucy is familiar with it, by the way she responds to it when I sing it to her now.

The song is My Heavenly Father Loves Me. Here are the lyrics:

Whenever I hear the song of a bird Or look at the blue, blue sky, Whenever I feel the rain on my face Or the wind as it rushes by, Whenever I touch a velvet rose Or walk by a lilac tree, I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created for me.

He gave me my eyes that I might see The color of butterfly wings. He gave me my ears that I might hear The magical sound of things. He gave me my life, my mind, my heart: I thank him reverently For all his creations, of which I'm a part. Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.

Whenever I get to the last part of the second verse - I thank him reverently for all his creations, of which I'm a part - I can't help but think first of these five children of mine and how blessed I've been to have them as mine.

Yesterday, as I was thinking about Elliana and Emmaline, and reflecting on how drastically our life and family has changed in just these four years, I couldn't help but shed some tears. We have been far blessed beyond anything we could have hoped and I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude for these little miracles in my life.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lucy's Story - An Angel Doctor

Four years ago, on July 15th, Marc rushed me to our local ER after my water unexpectedly broke, less than a week following surgery that was meant to correct the TTTS that our twin daughters were struggling with. There were nurses coming in and out, checking vitals and asking questions, the whole process leaving me feeling very overwhelmed and close to having a complete breakdown. I didn't know what was happening or what was about to happen, but I was pretty sure things didn't look too good.

At one point a woman came in who I had never met and she brought with her a calm amid my little storm. She spoke softly and her eyes revealed a sympathy and a gentleness that overwhelmed me to tears. In all the confusion and panic of the moment, I missed her name and didn't even know if she was a nurse or a midwife or a doctor. The one thing I knew for sure was that she was an angel. I knew I'd never forget her nor the way she calmed my heart in just the few minutes we interacted.

Last November when I found out I was expecting again, I decided against going back to the doctor I'd been seeing an hour away. There aren't a lot of options to choose from in our little town, but I set an appointment with the only woman OBGYN, not knowing anything about her.

The day of my first appointment arrived and as soon as the doctor walked in, I was almost certain I could hear a chorus of Hallelujah's ring sweetly in my heart. It was her. It was the angel doctor from that awful July night. She still had the same calm and gentle ways about her and I felt an immediate assurance that I'd found the care I needed and wanted for this pregnancy.

From that first appointment I felt an increased confidence in my choice of care, as well as in my desire to attempt to have a VBAC. My questions were answered and my fears eased. And, even if things didn't turn out quite like I hoped, I knew I'd be given a fair chance with the support team I'd chosen. As I learned more about my doctor and her experience I felt even more blessed to be in her care - from work in the poorest parts of LA, to experiences delivering babies in Africa, to working on a Navajo Indian Reservation in the southwest. She fit that "angel" title more and more.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Lucy Jane. 

Born July 10, 2012 at 4:55pm. 

Nine pounds, seven and a half ounces. 

Twenty-one inches long. 

We are in heaven.

We'll be back to share more soon...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Due Date Eve

So, it's the night before my official (estimated) due date and I'm still very pregnant. The last time I posted, on Tuesday night, what I didn't mention was that while I was writing that post I was having consistent contractions... and was about 60% sure that I was in labor and would be announcing our baby's arrival the next day. After about three hours of contractions that were about 10-15 minutes apart, they started to really slow down and then eventually stopped. I was still hopeful that morning would come and they'd pick right up again, but no luck.

And, since Tuesday I've had a few contractions here and there, but nothing that has been convincing enough to get my hopes up like they did on Tuesday. I know she'll come when she's ready, but since I'm hoping for a successful VBAC, my time is a little bit limited (because of policies and crap like that). So, I had a good, long talk with my baby girl tonight while taking a relaxing bubble bath about how I'm ready for her to come... even tomorrow, on her due date, if she's ready. If she has already inherited the same stubborness of her brother Hugh, then chances are that our little talk had no effect.

But, even if she isn't quite ready, I'm ready to wait patiently for her arrival... knowing that even though it feels like it could still be forever away, the reality is that she'll be here so soon (and I really won't be pregnant forever!). I just can't wait to finally hold her and love her.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Full Moon

Marc took me out to a delicious Mexican restaurant last Thursday. I had their chicken enchiladas. My only regret was not thinking to request having them made extra spicy. Although, as we walked out to the car after finishing dinner I did have one pretty convincing contraction. It stopped there, though.

On Sunday night I had Marc join me in the kitchen to help me whip up a batch of those lemon drop cupcakes. I was mostly craving some sort of treat and figured it was a good time to try them out. I think I ate three that night, and even though I had a few contractions while making them, there weren't any real signs of labor after eating them. And, since Sunday, I've probably had an average of one and a half per day. Not sure they're working.

This morning, since both boys were feeling good (they've taken turns in the last week having fevers and diarrhea - Ben for three days last week and today was day 4 for Hugh, desperately hoping tomorrow he finally feels all better) and while they were happily playing, I went into full nesting mode. I cleaned out the fridge and mopped the kitchen floor on my hands and knees, cleaning the front of all the cabinets and the baseboards while I was down there. This was what sent one of my sisters into labor with her second child. I was a little disappointed when I was done and nothing was happening.

So, I've pretty much decided to mentally be prepared to be pregnant forever, then I won't feel so anxious about when and how and where and what if. But, tonight is a full moon and that moon could make all the difference.