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Neola Bethany: 3 Months

19 Aug

Our sweet baby girl is now 3 months old! We have officially survived the Fourth Trimester. 🤪

Size

Neola doesn’t go back to the doctor until 4 months but she is starting to wear her 3-6 and 6-month clothes and wears size 2 diapers.

Eating

The biggest news this month is that Neola is officially nursing 100%! Back in her 2-month post, I mentioned that Neola was nursing better, and that whenever I offered her a bottle, she only drank 1-2 oz. Slowly, that amount dwindled down to nothing. I did still do a bottle in the middle of the night (and then pumped) for another week or so after that, but one night, I just decided to nurse her and see how it would go. And it went great! I was more than happy to not have to pump anymore, so we are done with bottles. She still does drink a bottle of formula every now and again (nice to still have the flexibility of not being the only one who can feed her), but I am so happy that nursing is working out for us, after our rocky start. (I will say that feeding Neola bottles when we were out and about, instead of nursing with a cover-up in this intense summer heat, was very nice. But whatcha gonna do.)

Similar to Corbin as a baby, Neola makes a clicking sound when she nurses, which lets her swallow a lot of air, which causes her to burp and spit up quite a bit. I’m not concerned about it (Corbin outgrew it), but it does make for a lot of laundry! Thankfully Neola seems to be past the “gassy and uncomfortable” phase of things.

I don’t keep track of how often Neola eats. I only know that 1) it’s enough and 2) she’s content. I do really enjoy the days that Corbin’s nap coincides with Neola needing to eat (which it does fairly often) so I can sit in my rocking chair, in the silence (while the girls have their screen time), and take a little nap while she nurses (because it’s one of the few times she actually naps peacefully).

Sleeping

Neola is thankfully very consistent at night (if she wasn’t, I would be losing my mind!). She usually goes to sleep for her longest stretch between 8 and 9, and wakes up between 1:30 and 2:30. She goes right back down and wakes up again between 4:30 and 5:30 (usually 3 hours from when she first woke up). Then she usually falls back to sleep for another hour before she’s “up” for the day.

So we start our days around 6/6:30, which is generally when Corbin wakes up too. Neola has stretched her awake time out to be… honestly, I don’t even know. 😂 Who has time to keep track of the time? The days are just a blur.

Part of what makes things tricky to keep track of us that Neola is queen of the catnap. She frequently falls asleep nursing but wakes up right when she’s done. (I don’t want to cut her off because I want to make sure she’s getting as much milk from each feeding as possible.) She also doesn’t like being put down even after we get her to sleep in our arms. If we try putting her down, she often wakes up after just 5-10 minutes. Even if you hold her, her naps are most often only 30-45 minutes.

She’s also a little tricky to get to sleep for naps. If we’re at home, swinging her in the chair swing outside is a sure bet. She loves that thing. Another trick we use is to put her in her carseat and either swing her like a pendulum, carry the carseat around while we load the car and get ready to leave, or attach the carseat to the stroller and push her slowly through the grass (she likes it bumpy, but not too bumpy). If we don’t get her to the point of being almost asleep or sleeping in her carseat before putting her carseat in the car, she just cries on the car ride. (She’s kind of a high maintenance baby!) Thankfully, Neola is very happy and content whenever she’s not tired or hungry.

Neola is still sleeping in her Rock n Play at night, but we are going to start transitioning her to her crib. It’s just hard to rock the boat when things are going so smoothly at night! But she’s getting too old for the Rock n Play.

Development

Neola has started babbling and cooing quite a bit, and I just love it! As of 3 months, she was just starting to find her hands, but I’m a week late finishing this post and she chews on her fists quite a bit now!

We have seen a physical therapist for Neola’s torticollis (keeping her head mostly turned to one direction) twice now. Neola had almost full range of motion (passive) at her first appointment and made even some progress in the three weeks between appointments. We are supposed to do stretching and strengthening exercises with her whenever we can, which some days is not at all, and some days is a couple of times. We also try to have her spend time not laying on the back of her head while she’s awake. She actually doesn’t mind tummy time (all of our other kids hated it). She also likes sitting in her Bumbo and being worn in the baby carrier facing out (but since her neck muscles are still a little floppy, we don’t do that for very long). She doesn’t like the baby carrier if she’s facing us.

Neola is such a sweet, happy girl, and gives big grins to the people she recognizes (and even some she doesn’t!). She loves the attention she gets from her siblings (which is a lot!) and hardly fusses at all even when they are carrying her around, sitting her up, moving her from here to there. Emma took it upon herself to learn how to change Neola’s (non-poopy) diapers. And she does a great job! When Neola is fussing, Emma or Annabelle will go pick her up and calm her down. They can even lift her carseat to swing it a little. It is so great to have older kids who are able and willing to help!

My dad and stepmom came to help with the kids at the end of July while Travis went on a team-building trip with his co-workers in Key West. We went to Pillager Beach together, and then I took the older kids to the bouncy house one day and the park another while Susan watched Neola.

And that’s Neola at 3 months!

Neola Bethany: 2 Months

13 Jul

Neola was 2 months old yesterday, July 12. Today would’ve been my mom’s 68th birthday. She has been gone for 5 years. How she would’ve loved to cuddle this sweet little babadoo!

Size

Neola is now 12 lbs 8 oz (78%), 23 inches long (74%), with a head circumference of 15.5 inches (85%). She just started wearing 6-month sleepers and will be moving to size 2 diapers any day now.

Eating

Neola is doing a lot better with nursing. Around 5 or 6 weeks, she started nursing without a nipple shield. That helped encourage my milk letdown, but then she would sputter and choke on the milk. Over the last couple of weeks, though, even that has gotten better, and she hasn’t had to pull off to cough or catch her breath as much. I still offer her bottles of formula if it seems like she might still be hungry, but most of the time, she only eats 1-2 oz from them. So it seems like she is getting almost enough milk from nursing! I still might go back to the lactation consultant just for the weight check before and after a feeding.

Neola tends to be a snacker and a catnapper. With the chaos of three other kids, I haven’t kept track of her eating and sleeping schedule much, but I would guess that during the day, she eats every 2 hours or so. Which brings me to…

Sleeping

A handful of times so far, Neola has taken an afternoon nap long enough that I’ve contemplated waking her up (3-4 hours!). I’ve even gone so far as to walk into her room with the intention of waking her up, but then thought better of it while standing there staring at her sleeping. I wouldn’t have any issues with her taking long naps if there was a guarantee that she would still sleep a long stretch at night. Thankfully, even on those long-nap days, she still slept well at night, and now I think she’s probably old enough to not mix up time of day like really new newborns do.

For the past couple of weeks, Neola has consistently lengthened her longest nighttime stretch to be 5-6 hours (yay!). She slept in her swing for a while, but now she’s back to sleeping in her Rock n Play. She’s pretty unpredictable during the day, but at night, her general routine is to go to bed for her long stretch between 9 and 10. She wakes up between 2 and 4 am to eat — I usually feed her a 4 oz bottle of formula since 1) it’s faster to prepare and 2) I don’t want her to have to deal with milk inundation from nursing, since she’s still just getting the hang of it. I feed her half the bottle, and about the time she starts falling back asleep, I change her diaper and burp her. Then I feed her the other half of the bottle, half-heartedly burp her (if she’s asleep, I can never get a burp out of her), and put her back down. Then I pump and go back to bed. The whole thing usually takes about an hour.

For the first 6 weeks or so, I would give Travis the monitor after that late morning feeding and go back to bed until 8:30 or so. But now that Neola is going a longer stretch at night, I don’t need to sleep in like that much anymore.

Neola wakes up for the day between 6 and 8. She wakes up happy and content, and only cries if she’s been awake for a while and no one has come to get her.

Her awake time between naps these days is about an hour or so. She likes being held for naps, and often wakes up 10-15 minutes after we put her down. Even when we hold her though, she’s just not a great napper and wakes up every so often, whether from gas pains or just being a light sleeper.

I think it’s safe to say at this point that she dislikes the baby carrier. The last couple of times I’ve tried, she just screams. She’d rather be put in a sleepsack, held horizontally in our arms, and bounced or walked around (but it’s hard on our back and arms!). She also really likes swinging with us in the chair swing outside. The other way she will consistently go to sleep (which we really only use if we’re going somewhere soon-ish) is if we strap her into her carseat and swing her back and forth like a pendulum (also hard on the back!). She also likes riding in the car or in her stroller if we swing her a little first and get her sleepy — but the key is to keep moving!

Development

Neola began smiling around 6 weeks, and has started cooing and making adorable baby noises just in the past week or so. So fun!

She is still very easygoing (if she’s not hungry or tired), and still gets plenty of attention from the girls. Corbin has started paying more attention to Neola too, and being a little less careful around her.

Emma can “fart” her like Travis does (bicycling Neola’s legs, and then pushing both of her knees into her belly — sometimes she farts like10 times in a row doing that!), and Corbin tried doing it the other night too (ha!).

Neola loves to lay on her back and look around. Unfortunately, she has a strong preference to look to the left (she can look to the right, but hardly ever does on her own), which has led to her head getting flattened a little on the left side. I asked her pediatrician about it yesterday, and she recommended that we see a physical therapist to hopefully lengthen the muscles on the other side of her neck, which would encourage her to look both ways. If that doesn’t work, she’ll have to wear a helmet (sad day). Hoping physical therapy works!

Neola seems to be gaining better control over her hands, and has comforted herself a few times recently by bringing one to her mouth to suck on. She has also sat in the Bumbo a few times (with us supporting her head). We have been really slacking on tummy time, but she hasn’t seemed to mind it the few times we’ve done it. Our pediatrician said that could help with the neck muscles too, if we put her down for tummy time with her face turned to her non-dominant side. There have been a few times so far, too, that we’ve put Neola down on her back and she’s rolled all the way over to her side. She might beat all of her siblings in how fast she learns to roll over!

Neola’s main nicknames at this point are Baby Sister, Babadoo, and Babaduke.

And that’s Neola at 2 months!

Pregnancy #4: 6 Weeks Postpartum

23 Jun

Neola is 6 weeks old today, which means I am 6 weeks postpartum. I’ve posted about my postpartum journeys with each of my other three pregnancies, so no reason to stop now!

Physical Recovery

I didn’t have any tearing or stitches, so no issues there, though I do notice that my tailbone still hurts if I recline on it when I’m slouching.

The afterbirth pains were intense again, and even the maximum dosage of Ibuprofen and Tylenol with Codeine didn’t keep them under control, but heating pads were a lifesaver. The pains lasted for 4-5 days after Neola was born.

My bleeding was never very heavy, but it did last a whole month, which got really old. I took stool softeners for the first couple of weeks, and didn’t have any issues there, thank goodness.

For the first few weeks after birth, I found it taxing to walk around or bend over much, but by about week 4, I felt my stamina and core strength getting better, and now I can walk several miles and be fine.

My ab muscles are non-existent, and I have only done a couple core workouts, so that unfortunately has not gotten much better. I notice this the most when I have to hold Neola for a long period of time — it ends up being really hard on my lower back. I was wondering the other day, “What would it be like to care for a newborn when you’re actually in shape?” I have never had that experience.

But on the whole, I have to say that the physical recovery from birth has been smooth.

Weight / Body Image

I’m about 13 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.

This pregnancy has been the slowest and consequently most frustrating recovery in terms of weight loss. I still can’t wear any of my pre-pregnancy pants, even the ones that I bought around this time with my other pregnancies. My body shape stores extra body fat in my stomach, so I can get all of my pre-pregnancy pants on but some I can’t button at all, and the others cause major muffin top action and are frankly just really uncomfortable. I’ve bought a few pairs of pants and shorts trying to find something I can wear right now (so that I can stop wearing my maternity leggings!), but haven’t had much luck. I am planning to go shopping this weekend, though, and hopefully find something. I’m pretty sure this is the result of all that candy I ate during pregnancy (whoops), and maybe age? Let’s go with that.

That said, I am extending grace to myself. My body just created a human being. It’s only been 6 weeks. I know from my previous pregnancies that it takes time to get back in shape, but it will happen eventually. It’s just a season… my LAST postpartum season!

Emotional

Speaking of which, that has been the main thing I’ve reminded myself of during the past six weeks: This is just a season. It’s just a phase. This is the hardest it will ever be [in terms of physical exertion and balancing the needs of four young kids]. It will get better. We will figure out a rhythm. Life will find a new normal, where we feel mostly adjusted. Don’t worry about the things that aren’t getting done right now, or that we don’t have time for. This is just a season.

Both Travis and I have had hours or days when we can’t see the truth in what I wrote above (it doesn’t help that he’s extremely busy and stressed at work right now), but overall we’ve been able to keep these challenges in perspective, and maintain our hope and optimism.

Back when Corbin was born, I really struggled with feeling isolated, like I was always feeding a baby or sleeping while my family hung out without me. I prayed about that a lot before Neola was born, and I think God answered that prayer by making her unwilling/unable to nurse, which forced me to pump and feed her bottles. Bottles meant feeding Neola could be done by anyone, so the girls, Travis, and grandparents have all shared the load. It’s not the answer to prayer that I envisioned, but it has made the issue of feeling isolated from my family non-existent, and for that, I praise the Lord!

I’ve also been reading We Would See Jesus while pumping. I read that book several times back in college and early married life, and it’s been such a good reminder that I have access to Jesus wherever and whenever, that I don’t need to be having a consistent quiet time or praying a certain amount to have a relationship with Him. It’s also been a great reminder that Jesus sacrificed everything for me, not just some things, so I can sacrifice for my kids, trusting that God will not only provide, but bless abundantly.

My biggest challenges with managing four kids on my own while Travis is working have been 1) Corbin and 2) the messes. Corbin is a handful. We are trying really hard to have him watch less iPad, but that means that instead of sitting in one spot, he’s making messes or playing outside only God knows where. He’s hard to keep track of. Even when I take Neola outside to feed her a bottle, Corbin only stays on one side of the house for 5-10 minutes. I think that’s the biggest difference between him and the older girls — they would play in one area for an extended period of time. He is all over the place. Not only that, but he also gets into trouble. He dumped out containers of water in the garage, took off his diaper and pooped (not on purpose, but because he’s not at all potty trained) in the playhouse, rode his bike down the driveway out onto the road by himself several times (good thing our neighborhood is pretty quiet). He often plays with water and soap in the bathrooms, and gets into the girls’ makeup. He brings indoor toys outside. He puts the riding toys in the kiddie pool. He definitely keeps us on our toes!

And then there’s the messes. I have tried and tried to get Emma and Annabelle to pick one mess up before making another, and reminded them while they’re making a mess that they’re going to have to pick all of it back up. But the reality of the situation, I’m realizing, is that their energy to make a mess—I should say “get toys out” or “create imaginary worlds”, because their play is at least always intentional these days—is always going to outstrip their energy to clean it up. And then you add Corbin into the mix… the end result is that there are all manner of toys strewn in every location imaginable. Thankfully our house is tucked in the woods so I don’t feel pressured to have things cleaned up for any neighbors.

I am trying really hard for both my kids’ sake and my own sanity to remind myself that it’s ok for toys to be scattered around. It’s ok if playing hard with things occasionally results in something being destroyed or broken. My kids are making memories and using their imaginations, and not wasting their lives watching a screen all day. I’ve also been tapping into the things I learned in counseling—when I sense I’m starting to get overwhelmed, instead of flying off the handle, I calmly ask the kids to pause what they’re doing and clean up one mess. (Because, I’m realizing, it’s not messes in general that stress me out, it’s when there are messes everywhere.)

And as always, coffee is a lifesaver and consumed in copious amounts. When I am up for the day after too little sleep, a cup of coffee brings me joy and reminds me that it will be ok.

Neola Bethany: 1 Month

14 Jun

Neola is one month old! She was 4 weeks last Wednesday, June 9, and one month on June 12.

Size

Neola just had her well-child check today and she now weighs 10 lbs 11 oz (83%)! She is 21.25 inches long (50%) and her head circumference is 14.75 inches (75%).

She outgrew her newborn sleepers around two weeks, and switched to size 1 diapers at 3.5 weeks (but that was mostly just because we ran out of newborn diapers, and have a ton of size 1!)

She seems to have a longer torso and short legs like Corbin did, because length-wise, she fits just fine in 3-month sleepers, but 3-month pants are too long (and she’s apparently completely average in terms of length!).

Eating

Neola is still drinking bottles of breast milk instead of nursing. During her third week of life, she did nurse a little after a feeding to fall asleep, but in week 4, she wanted nothing to do with nursing. I’m still hopeful she can turn it around as she gets older but who knows.

She eats every 3 hours on average, but has gone 4-5 hours between feedings once a night (and sometimes during the day when I’m busy with the kids and forget to go wake her up).

She has increased her feeding amounts from 1 oz that first week, to 2 oz the second week, to anywhere from 2.5 to 5 oz the third and fourth weeks. Most often, she drinks about 3 oz. We burp her every ounce or two, otherwise she swallows too much air and spits a lot of the milk back up. She has some pretty impressive burps!

I am still pumping, and aiming to do so every 3 hours, but between feeding Neola a bottle, burping her (which sometimes takes a while), changing her diaper and possibly her outfit, and managing the other kids, it sometimes stretches to 4 or 5. The first couple weeks, I was getting 3-5 oz per pumping session, but now I usually get about 3 oz. We are also supplementing with formula as we need to.

Neola makes the funniest sounds when she’s eating — lots of squeaking, groaning, and nose-whistling. She also farts a lot when she first wakes up and gets out of her sleepsack. She’s had two blowouts so far… just today, she had such a blowout that it was literally dripping off the back of her sleeper (and onto my dad’s T-shirt 😬).

Sleeping

Neola still sleeps most of the day, but has periods of time when she’s alert and happy. I haven’t watched the clock at all like I did with her siblings to know how long she stays awake. If she’s been awake for a while and starts getting fussy, then I know it’s time to put her in her sleepsack and get her to sleep. She sometimes wants a pacifier, sometimes not. Sometimes she wants a little snack before going to sleep, sometimes not.

When she’s awake and happy, Neola loves looking around, and doesn’t protest at all really when getting jostled around by her older sisters (who treat her like a living doll). It seems we are constantly telling Emma and Annabelle, “Careful! Sit down with her. No, you may not do x and y with her; you’re just not old enough.”

Sometimes after being awake, Neola is difficult to get back to sleep or won’t let us put her down. She is tricky that way! She’ll fall asleep drinking a bottle and you think you’re golden but just a few minutes later, those little eyes pop open again. Or you’ve been holding her for a while and are confident that she’s pretty out so you put her down, but just 5-10 minutes later, she’s awake again. Or she’s out but gas pains wake her up.

If she keeps waking up when I try to put her down, I put her in the Baby Bjorn. She seems to like it for at least the length of one nap so if I can’t sit and hold her because of needing to help the other kids, then I put her in there. Honestly, if this is as fussy as she gets, she’s a pretty easy baby!

Besides the Baby Bjorn, Neola mostly sleeps in the Rock n Play, but during the day, she also naps in the swing. Overall she’s not a fan of her car seat, and will only sleep in it if she’s asleep when we put her in it.

Development

Neola loves looking around and is a pretty content baby. She has started cooing and smiling a little. She has pretty good neck control for her age, and doesn’t seem to mind tummy time (but we haven’t done a ton of it).

Neola Bethany: 1 Week

21 May

Neola was one week old on May 19, our 14-year wedding anniversary.

Unfortunately, her first week of life outside the womb was a blur of doctor appointments. We got discharged from the hospital the day after she was born, around 5 PM. Since I was Group B Strep positive, they wanted us to go see our pediatrician for a checkup right away the next day just to make sure everything was ok. So we did.

Before our appointment with the pediatrician though, we had to stop back by the hospital for Neola to get her hearing test redone (her right ear had failed the day before, but the way they test the hearing is so pathetic!!). She passed that time just fine. We also met with the lactation consultant because Neola was having trouble latching in the hospital, so one of my nurses helped me start using a nipple shield (which I’ve never used before). We weighed her before and after feeding, and she didn’t really gain anything, but we chalked it up to my milk not fully being in yet.

At the appointment with the pediatrician afterward, we discovered that Neola’s weight was down to 7 lbs 7 oz (from 8 lbs 4 oz at birth). Since my milk was just starting to come in that day, Dr. Winter wanted us to come back on Monday for a weight check.

At the appointment on Monday, Neola was down to 7 lbs 4 oz. I nursed her while we were there, and we weighed her before and after, and she had only eaten 0.5 oz. No wonder she wasn’t gaining weight! They also wanted her bilirubin to be checked, so the lab come up and poked her heel. Poor girl! It took the lab tech a good 10 minutes to get the blood, and even then, she wasn’t sure it was enough. (It was.) Her bilirubin level came back at 17.7 — high, but apparently not high enough to treat.

We scheduled another appointment with the lactation consultant for Wednesday. In the meantime, Dr. Winter told us we should start supplementing her nursing sessions with bottles. Since I was already using a nipple shield, she explained, there wouldn’t be any nipple confusion with using bottles that early. At her age, Neola should be drinking 2 oz per feeding, at least every 3 hours.

Neola took to the bottles like a champ. We started her off at 1 oz, but quickly increased it to 2 oz. I was mostly able to pump 2 oz consistently after nursing attempts, but we did get some premade formula from the pediatrician, who said we could mix breastmilk and formula together if we needed to (and we needed to).

At our appointment with the lactation consultant on Wednesday (the day Neola turned 1 week old), Neola had gained 4.5 oz! She was up to 7 lbs 10.5 oz, which meant she was only 7% down from her birth weight (from 11% before). They apparently want babies to be back up to their birth weight by 2 weeks, so I feel like she’s right on track for that. We again weighed her before and after a feeding, and she only took in 6 mL with the whole nursing session. She latches fine, but just doesn’t suck fast or strong enough to get my milk to let down — with or without the nipple shield. Part of that is the sleepiness from the jaundice. She got a heel poke after that appointment, and her bilirubin was up to 18.8. (Since I’m posting this a little late, I can say that she got heel pokes again on Thursday and Friday, and she went down to 18.2, then 17.3, which satisfied our pediatrician. So we are done checking her bilirubin!)

She’s had plenty of wet and poopy diapers, and her poops started off as the dark meconium, but have changed to the yellow mustard color. She is sleeping much better now that she’s taking in enough milk, but part of that might be the jaundice. She has a hard time staying awake drinking a bottle, and falls asleep almost immediately when I try nursing her. I’m going to keep trying to nurse her, but for now, bottles seem to be the way she’s going to build up her strength and energy.

Which means I pump every 3 hours, even at night. Valine, the lactation consultant, gave me some tips on how to maintain my milk supply while pumping, since when I’ve pumped before after I went back to work, my milk supply eventually dried up. I discovered that my breast pump flanges are a size too small, and I wasn’t pumping long enough. Just since yesterday, I’ve seen my pumping yield go from 2 oz every time, to 2.5-3 oz. So that’s encouraging!

As far as personality, Neola hates being cold, and has strongly disliked diaper changes overall. She has a good loud cry when she is upset. When she’s awake, she is pretty mellow and likes being held. She seems to prefer either not having her arms swaddled, or just one swaddled. She sometimes takes a pacifier.

She’s been sleeping in her swing or the rock ‘n’ play during the day, and just the rock ‘n’ play at night. Sometimes we have to wake her up to eat, and sometimes she wakes up on her own. I just borrowed a Moby wrap from a friend so that when my MIL goes home, it’ll be easier to be outside doing stuff with the other kids. And we bought a new car seat that snaps into our jogging stroller (our old one expired) so we can take her on walks that way too.

Emma and Annabelle were over the moon for Neola right away, and very eager to help, which was a little stressful because they wanted to do things slightly outside their capabilities, and they were competing against each other for turns holding Neola. But now they’ve mellowed out a little, and are better about taking turns.

Corbin says Baby is cute and brings her toys. He also likes bringing me my nipple shield — “Try it!”

And that’s Neola at 1 week old!

Neola’s Birth Story

14 May

Neola Bethany was born on May 12, five days before her due date of May 17. She was 8 lbs 4 oz and 20 inches long, with a full head of hair like Annabelle and Corbin.

This time around, I decided to do an elective induction. Corbin was 8 lbs 15 oz at 39.5 weeks, and even though we knew we were having a girl and boys tend to be bigger than girls, subsequent babies tend to be bigger too. So to avoid a bigger baby, and be able to arrange childcare for our other kids easier, I was induced.

We were told to arrive at the hospital around 7 AM. We were moving slow the morning of the 12th, so we got there closer to 7:30. The birthing floor was really quiet that day, so the nurses were expecting us, and showed us right to our room.

First, we talked about the plan with my nurses, Jess and Katy — I was Group B Strep positive, so needed to have antibiotics started first thing. I was already dilated to 2 cm at my last OB appt so was hoping that the doctor would break my water first to see if that would start things without Pitocin. If not, then we would start Pitocin. While the antibiotics got going, Katy got us checked in. I watched part of a Burn Notice episode on my phone while waiting for the OB on call, Dr. Senica, to arrive.

At 9:15, Dr. Senica attempted to break my bag. It was tough apparently, and he tried a few times before saying he thought he nicked it. My antibiotics had a little bit longer to go, and while I sat there in bed, I felt some leakage, and discovered that indeed, my water had broken. After the first round of antibiotics were done, the nurses unhooked me and Travis and I walked the birthing floor for a while. I ate some Jello, sat on the birthing ball a little, then they hooked me back up to monitor baby and contractions for a bit. Nothing much was happening, so I walked around some more.

By 12:15, things still weren’t happening, so we started Pitocin with my second round of antibiotics. Travis ate lunch. I was super hungry, but apparently, they don’t let women in labor eat anything but a clear diet anymore in case of emergency c-section (sad day!).

Before the Pitocin had had a chance to kick in, I had a few real contractions so things had started to pick up a little. With the Pitocin, I started having contractions more consistently, and they were getting stronger. At 1:15, they increased my Pitocin to 4. Once they were satisfied with seeing baby’s heartbeat during contractions (now 3 minutes apart) and had checked my cervix (now dilated to 4 cm, 75% effaced), I decided to labor in the tub for a bit. The contractions were strong enough that I had to stop talking and breathe during them, but felt pretty normal otherwise.

After 30 minutes in the tub or so, I decided that the contractions were strong enough to warrant nitrous oxide. So I got out of the tub, got back in bed, and started nitrous oxide around 2:30. Travis got my music going on the bluetooth speaker.

By 3:15, I was starting to feel a lot of pressure, and the pain was getting to be incredibly intense, so I asked to be checked. I was 7.5 cm and almost fully thinned out. My nurse Jess said she thought I would be ready to push soon, so she asked the front desk to nurse to page Dr. Senica. “Tell him she’s at 7.5 cm and feeling pushy.” This was also the point where I started questioning why I had thought it would be a good idea to not get an epidural. Jess said she could start the liter of fluids for an epidural, but she didn’t think I would make it (it takes at least 45 minutes). The point of no return.

Contractions got incredibly intense from there. They were 1-2 minutes apart, lasting for a minute. I kept my eyes shut the whole time, and was in the zone. I shifted in bed from sitting cross-legged to hanging one leg off the side so that Travis could massage my lower back during contractions. The pain radiated through my lower back to my sides and hips.

For the most part, the nitrous oxide really helped to take the edge off the contractions, but as I entered transition, and got closer to pushing, the nitrous actually felt like a burden to hold, and I was groaning/moaning so much during them that I couldn’t breathe the gas in, so I ended up not using it a ton. I did use it a little between contractions.

At some point, I started feeling a lot of downward pressure, and was starting to scream a little at the pain, so Dr. Senica came in. He checked me and said I was still right around 8 cm (if he stretched it), but I was in such an incredible amount of pain, and feeling so much pressure during contractions, that I think he decided to stay and help baby along. Having to bend my legs into the stirrups with that pain in my sides and back — oh man, it was absolutely horrible. Suddenly, so many memories of my other birth sans epidural came flooding back. And just why am I doing this again!?!

During the next few contractions, Dr. Senica tried to help my cervix dilate those last few centimeters so that I could start pushing. He had me gently push with a few contractions too, and then he said I could go for it. I have never felt that kind of pain. I think because this labor went so much faster than with Annabelle (my other unmedicated birth), it was that much more intense. I was screaming my head off, with the nurses and Travis holding my legs up (because I just wanted to straighten them from the back/side pain), everyone in the room telling me I had to push now, and I could do it, and hold my breath in and bear down with everything I had, and I felt completely confident that the description I used last time — that it feels like you’re taking the biggest poop in the world and it’s tearing your insides out along with it — was 100% accurate. During contractions, I wanted to cry because I just wanted to pain to be over, but it wouldn’t be over unless I just pushed through it.

As I bore down during contractions (Travis wrote down that I pushed 8-10 times), there were points where my body just took over and pushed for me, which is kind of cool when you think about it that the body knows what to do, but it also makes me feel out of control and scared. Finally, baby’s head was out. I had to take a break though — everyone kept telling me, “The head is out. You need to keep pushing.” After a break, I did it. I screamed louder than ever, and it was SO incredibly painful there are not even words to describe it, but FINALLY baby’s body came out. Neola was born!! She came out crying right away. Like last time, I laid there for a while completely dazed and saying “Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.”

Dr. Senica clamped the cord, then had Travis cut it. Neola was completely covered in vernix, so the nurses toweled her off a little before putting her on me skin-to-skin. (I still got completely covered in the sticky white stuff.) Meanwhile, Dr. Senica was pushing on my stomach to release the placenta. One more push from me, and the placenta was out. I asked Dr. Senica if I had torn — he said there was one small nick, but that if he could stop the bleeding with a little pressure, I wouldn’t need any stitches (and he was able to, so yay!) The nurse took baby’s vitals while the rest of them cleaned up the birthing mess. I asked to get some pain meds for the afterbirth pains, because with Corbin, they were intense.

After a little while, I handed Neola to Travis so that I could eat my dinner. With just the baby blankets on, she ended up getting too cold (body temp was down to 97 something). So they brought her back to me for more skin to skin. She started moving her mouth so I tried nursing her, and she did latch a little that first time.

By 6 PM, Neola’s body temp had stabilized enough that they were able to weigh her, give her a bath, the eye drops, etc. Then I took a short bath to soak my bum, which felt amazing.

Between 6 and 9 PM, it was a cycle of checking mom’s and baby’s vitals, seeing if Neola would nurse (she wanted to suck on something, but wasn’t latching), and me eating. I ate 2 personal pizzas, 2 bowls of fruit, a brownie, a chocolate pudding, and a fig bar.

A little after 9 PM, my night nurse, Heather, brought me a stool softener and more pain meds, and then we tried to go to bed. Travis walked Neola around the room for a while, but she wouldn’t settle, so I took her and tried to nurse. She wasn’t interested — she was spitting up amniotic fluid — so I just held her upright in the chair for a few hours, and she slept well that way.

During the night, I showed Heather that Neola wasn’t latching, or that she would latch but then stop sucking almost right away, and she ended up bringing me a nipple shield to use, which helped a lot. Neola was still sleepy enough that she wasn’t interested most of the time, but it did increase her sucking when she was interested.

Unfortunately, the combination of Tylenol 3 every four hours and Ibuprofen every eight wasn’t enough to keep on top of the afterbirth pains, so I ended up cramping quite a bit during the night. But Heather brought me some heating pads, and those really helped a ton. I had her reheat them probably half a dozen times.

Travis took a shift with Neola during the night, and toward morning, Heather helped me do skin to skin again in bed with Neola, and she slept contentedly that way for several hours (which meant mommy got some sleep too!). That is a sweet memory with my last little newborn.

Just before 7:30 AM, Heather introduced our new nurse, Amber. Then the pediatric nurse came in (I was nursing at the time, so she came back a little later), as well as the OB on call. They all said that as long as baby passed her 24-hour tests, and we scheduled a follow-up with our pediatrician for the next day (because of my being Group B Strep positive), we could go home at 24 hours.

We ate breakfast, Travis took a quick shower, and then around 11 AM, Travis left to meet the kids and his mom at a park (they were all missing us), and get coffee from Caribou. I tried to rest during that time, but Neola wanted to nurse. After he got back, I downed my coffee while the nurses took Neola’s newborn photos, and then I laid down for an hour or 2. I didn’t technically get to sleep (too much commotion in our room), but I was 80% out of it. Then Neola wanted to nurse again.

Around 3:15, Travis was napping, but I woke him up to take Neola so that I could shower and pack before 4:03, which is when the nurses were going to come do Neola’s 24-hour tests. While they did her tests, Travis ran a load of stuff out to the car. By 4:45, all the tests were done, and we were on our way out to the car to head home with our newest little. By 5:15, we were home! Big sisters ran outside, ecstatic to meet little sister. So sweet. My heart was bursting.

And that’s Neola’s birth story!! More details to come in her weekly updates.

Pregnancy #4: 36 Weeks

20 Apr

Only 1 month left! I waffle between being totally ready for baby to be born (and to be done being pregnant), and wanting baby to wait until we can get some more stuff done. Not like I have much choice in the matter though!

OB Appointments

I went in at 32 weeks, and my OB told me I didn’t have to come back in until 36 weeks, which honestly surprised me a bit. I feel like I had more appointments with my other pregnancies, but oh well, they are most often pointless until the end anyway. I have my next appointment this Friday, when they will test me for Group B Strep. I tested positive during all my other pregnancies, so am guessing I will during this one too.

Symptoms

I’m still having a lot of Braxton Hicks, but they have been very obviously not real contractions, so I haven’t worried as much about going into labor early. I still have quite a bit of downward pressure, and when I go to bed at night, it often seems like baby is trying to escape by punching my cervix and bladder. Everything I read online says that baby doesn’t drop in subsequent pregnancies until you go into labor, so I must just carry low, because I really am not sure how baby could get any lower without being in the birth canal.

My inner thigh/pelvic pain hasn’t been bad the last month. If I use my legs to move or close something, or carry something that is too heavy, it comes back with a vengeance for a few days, but otherwise, I’m feeling pretty good. Unless I have to pee. Then I can barely stand up and have to walk like a grandma to the bathroom.

I’m actually sleeping pretty decent at night — I’ve been taking 1 mg of melatonin, and it is a lifesaver! I have also been using my wedge pillow for the entire night. I sleep mostly on my back, and alternate with my sides a little too.

Similar to pregnancy #3 with Corbin, there are times when it seems like the skin on my belly cannot stretch any further. I see a few new stretch marks around my belly button (boo). I’ve gained about 25 lbs so far. It’ll be interesting to see how big baby is when she’s born. Emma was 7.7 and born on her due date; Annabelle was 7.15 and born at 38 weeks 2 days; and Corbin was 8.15 and born at 39 weeks 3 days.

Clothes

The number of shirts that fit over the belly continues to decrease. I have 4 pairs of leggings and 2 pairs of pants, but only 4-6 shirts that I wear at this point. I actually just broke down and bought a pair of maternity yoga/bike shorts to wear underneath the maternity dresses I have (just in time for winter to return, go figure!). It seems like wearing some type of bottoms helps hold the belly up, and it is just a good idea with kids (I had actually started wearing shorts under dresses even before this pregnancy). Hopefully the weather warms back up soon.

Food/Cravings

I have reached the point of pregnancy where nothing sounds good, and I just wish I had a personal chef to make all my meals. If someone else is making the food, I am fairly easy to please. But alas, even my husband who enjoys cooking is currently too busy with work to think about dinners, so we have been eating a hodge podge of frozen food and easy dinners. Whenever I get busy or tired, dinners are the first thing to drop off the priority list. I don’t mind going grocery shopping; I just don’t carve out the time to plan the meals. Fail to plan, plan to fail.

I do still have a fairly strong sweet tooth, though (and with the kids’ 3 birthdays back to back, we have eaten a lot of cake in the past month!). For breakfast every day, I have been eating an English muffin with PB & J with a glass of milk.

Nesting

The nursery is FINALLY set up. It’s not 100% done, but it’s so very close. The only thing I really have left to do in there is hang a couple shelves above the changing table. I will post more pictures when that is done. I am really loving how it has turned out so far though!

I also set up the baby swing that we borrowed from a friend, and pulled the rest of the baby stuff we’ll need right away (like the infant bathtub, Rock ‘n’ Play, baby toys, etc) out of our utility room. (It is very exciting to think that I will never be putting that stuff back into storage. Once baby is done with it, it’s gone!) I also got all her NB and 0-3 month clothing washed and put away, and bought a box of size 1 diapers at Costco (it seems like we always come home from the hospital with enough NB size ones — babies grow so fast!)

The next thing I need to get done is start packing my hospital bag, and make a list of all the last-minute things to pack.

Other things I want to get done before baby comes are:

  • Decorate the girls’ new room (there’s nothing on the walls in there yet)
  • Deep clean the house
  • Finish school/do standardized testing. That’s on the schedule for the first week of May.
  • Get the barnwood up on the new wall we built in the basement
  • Organize Travis’ office (it is still a disaster from moving upstairs for a couple months and then moving back to a different room in the basement)
  • Make a run to the dump
  • Find places to store the stuff I got from my dad and stepmom

I’m guessing that we won’t get all of that done, but having things to get done helps me be more patient in these last weeks of waiting.

Pregnancy #4: 28 Weeks

22 Feb

Hello from Florida! As of today, I am 28 weeks and in the third trimester! Only 3 months to go.

OB Appointments

I had my follow-up ultrasound on January 20, and even though Baby Girl still didn’t completely cooperate, the technician and my OB felt like the views they got were better, and good enough to be satisfied. The only thing they noticed on the ultrasound was a “small echogenic focus of the left ventricle”, which apparently could be an indication of Down’s Syndrome, but the genetic test for that came back negative, so neither the radiologist or my OB is concerned.

I go back in on March 8 for my gestational diabetes test. Even though I’ll be 30 weeks by then, and they usually do the test between 26-28 weeks, my OB said that since all my previous pregnancies have been healthy, and I’m at a healthy weight and blood pressure, she wasn’t concerned about waiting.

One other praise here is that when we had first gotten the genetic testing done at 13 weeks, we got a bill from our insurance for $1,100, saying they didn’t approve it because we didn’t get pre-approval. But the genetic testing place resubmitted it and somehow got it fully approved a different way, so it ended up being no cost to us! That’s a relief.

Symptoms and Exercise

I’m probably going to jinx myself but honestly, most days I feel pretty good. I do notice that if I overexert myself, my pelvis starts to hurt, making it hard to stand from sitting and I walk like a granny. There was one day down here in Florida that we went to a state park where the walk to the beach was 7/10 of a mile, mostly through loose sand. Travis was working, and Corbin wasn’t cooperating, so for quite a bit of that walk both ways, I was carrying Corbin and a 15-lb backpack. Uff da. I definitely felt it the next day. Thankfully it went away after a day or two. That unfortunately means running or even long walks are out for me from now until giving birth. But I am still getting 8K – 10K steps in a day down here!

I had been pretty consistent with doing my Prenatal Barre workouts on Beachbody a couple times a week from 20-24 weeks, but since we’ve been in Florida, I’ve only done one Beachbody workout — for two reasons: 1) We are on the second floor of a condo building, and our downstairs neighbors have complained about the noise, and 2) The Beachbody workouts are effective but also tiring, and I need all my energy just to keep up with these kids who are constantly wanting to go swimming. I definitely think the workouts have given me more core strength at this point than I have had in previous pregnancies, though, so I will getting back into those workouts once we get home!

Other symptoms I’ve had besides the occasional pelvic pain are occasional hamstring tightness, more stretch marks on the belly, a few varicose veins (getting old is a b!tch!), and some acne. Sometimes my belly feels small and manageable, other times it feels like it has its own zip code and weighs a ton of bricks.

Baby Girl has overall been super active — seemingly more active than my other pregnancies. Or maybe I just can’t remember.

Sleep

Sleep quality has been hit or miss. The first couple nights we were in Florida, I slept amazingly because we were so exhausted. Since then, I haven’t been sleeping the greatest at night. My back and hips start to ache, I roll over every hour or so, and anything in my bladder makes me feel like I’m going to pee my pants, so I sometimes get up to pee 3-4 times a night. Several nights, I look at my watch to find it’s 1 AM and feel like the night is lasting forever (but that could be because I’ve been going to bed with Corbin between 7:30 and 8:30…). I still take a 30-60 minute nap with Corbin each day when he goes down (Travis manages the girls while he works).

Food and Cravings

I really have missed being able to drink copious amounts of coffee and wine. There’s just something about relaxing with a beverage! I’ve been drinking more coffee than I probably should… 2-3 cups a day. And I’ve been eating too much candy and doughnuts. (Maybe that’s why Baby is so active?!) But hopefully the extra activity cancels that out… ?? I don’t have a scale down here, so it will be interesting to see how much weight I’ve gained when we get home!

Nesting

Before we left for Florida, I bought a floral swaddle and matching headband on Etsy, as well as a few adorable outfits that I couldn’t resist (but since we have all the girls’ old clothes, I’m trying to behave myself and not buy much more). Since we’re out of town right now, I haven’t been able to do any nesting or buy anything, though I have looked at ideas for family picture outfits a bit.

But when we get back at the beginning of March, it will be game on and T minus 2.5 months!

Pregnancy #4: 20 Weeks

2 Jan

I was 20 weeks this past Monday (halfway!!), and just had my 20-week ultrasound on Thursday. The ultrasound tech confirmed that Baby looks like a girl!

OB Appointments

We are moving life to Florida for the whole month of February (!!), so I had an OB appt in the middle of December and a short follow-up after my ultrasound this week. Baby Girl didn’t cooperate for views of the heart (though everything else looks great!) so I will have to go back in sometime in January for another ultrasound. Then I’ll go back at the beginning of March for my gestational diabetes visit (I’ll be 30 weeks by then, which seems crazy!).

Symptoms

Travis and I both tested positive for COVID-19 right after Thanksgiving. We quarantined for the required 10 days, and kept our kids home from things for another 10 days after that (they never had symptoms, and the girls’ tests came back negative, but it’s what the CDC says to do). Travis’ symptoms were body aches, low energy, and loss of taste and smell. I had a low-grade fever, headache, mild cough (that might be more related to acid reflux than COVID), upset stomach, and low energy. It took us pretty much the whole 10 days to feel back to normal, and even then, the lack of energy lingered some. But it wasn’t too bad for us. My OB wasn’t at all concerned with me getting COVID (since it wasn’t serious for us), and said that it was actually better for me to get it now than in later pregnancy.

Other symptoms I’ve had since my last post at 13 weeks have been constipation (my biggest issue with all my pregnancies), a hard time falling back asleep in the middle of the night, and exhaustion. I pretty much take a 30-45 minute nap every day when Corbin goes down for his nap. The girls either watch iPad or just continue playing downstairs; Travis is available if they need anything.

Name

We have pretty much narrowed our first name options down to two that we both like, and we know what Baby’s middle name will be. Not sharing yet though!

Maternity Clothes

I have been wearing maternity pants since about 8 weeks. Between the constipation, bloating, and this being my fourth child, I probably looked just as pregnant then as I do now!

I still have several pre-pregnancy shirts I can wear, because I have bought quite a few longer, looser tops over the past couple of years. Which is good because my style has changed since having Emma (my first) and some of my original maternity clothes are meh to me now.

Food and Cravings

My biggest craving this pregnancy has been Asian food. I have been loving chicken fried rice from Costco (freezer section), chicken or pork dumplings, and sushi (the cooked kind!). I have also eaten McDonald’s more often than I should, though I am trying to behave myself. I bought an 8 lb bag of crinkle fries from Costco hoping that might satisfy my craving for French fries at home.

Travis has lamented that our once-healthy diet has morphed back into more processed and frozen food, but it is so hard to eat what you “should” and not what you WANT when you’re pregnant!! I do enjoy big salads, though, (with lots of dressing!) so trying to eat those more often, instead of what the kids are eating for lunch (usually mac & cheese, quesadilla, or PB&J).

Exercise

I haven’t been exercising as much as I would like, but I have been doing the Prenatal Barre videos on Beachbody 1-2 times a week. I really like those videos because the instructor is super encouraging (even if she does talk maybe a little too much) and I can tell my core is stronger at the halfway point than it has been in previous pregnancies when I’ve only done cardio for exercise.

Last weekend, I walked/jogged on the treadmill for the first time in 3-4 months, and it actually went really well. So hoping to do that some more too!

Sleep

My sleeping habits so far haven’t changed a ton from pre-pregnancy. I start the night on my wedge pillow (for acid reflux) sleeping on my back or side. Usually somewhere around 2 or 3 AM, I get up to go to the bathroom and ditch the wedge, keeping my two main pillows. Then I sleep on my stomach until morning. I’ve still been getting away with sleeping on my stomach by rolling slightly to one side and propping myself up with the opposite leg, but unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to last much longer. Sad day.

Nesting

I boxed up all our boy clothes that Corbin has grown out of almost immediately after we found out we were having a girl, and was able to organize the girls’ bigger sizes (we were running out of room and totes!).

Then Thanksgiving weekend, we sold a bunch of stuff on Facebook Marketplace, moved the girls’ beds and dresser down to their new “room” in the basement, and started repainting their old room. We (I mean, Travis ) just finished painting it this past weekend and he’s now trying out that room as his office. If he stays there, Corbin will move down to his old office, and Corbin’s current room will be baby’s. If Travis decides to stay downstairs after all, the newly painted room will be baby’s. We will decide all that after we get back from Florida!

I would LOVE to finish off the girls’ new room (the space could be a legal bedroom, but the previous owners didn’t make it one) before baby comes but that ball is really in Travis’ court. It’s a big project – we need to build a wall, fix and add electrical, do a bunch of sheet rocking, replace the flooring, and then paint. He has already prepared me for it to not happen before then so we’ll see!