Thursday, April 20, 2017

BABY | Caleb's Birth Story Part I

I want to remember all the details leading up to this day as well as everything that happened on Caleb's birth day. To keep it shorter, I've broken his birth story into two parts. This is part one of two posts on Caleb's birth.

The day Caleb Byrnes was born was by far one of the greatest days of my life!

I started having contractions pretty regularly around Christmas. Nothing crazy, but I was definitely experiencing contractions, though there were somewhere around 15 minutes apart.

A few days later, on December 29, I went for my weekly appointment and was checked. The doctor I saw that day told me she didn't think there was anyway I'd make it to my due date (January 15). She went so far as to say she thought I'd make it maybe a week. This made me very excited and nervous!

A few days after the New Year, the contractions intensified to the point I felt like I needed to call my doctor's office. In hindsight, it was a false alarm. With this being the first child I was going to birth, I wasn't sure what exactly was going on. I'd have cramps that would last a minute or more and came regularly, but it wasn't labor. Apparently if you experience that, you sometimes get to go to the hospital for monitoring. I was in fact having contractions, but they weren't close enough to stay. (As a side note: If we have another baby, I'll know what constitutes real contractions and the protocol for when you actually should go to the hospital!) When I made it to the women's center to be monitored, I was still only 1 centimeter dilated. It was nice to hear the baby’s heartbeat while they monitored me for an hour though! At that point, my real contractions were about every 18 minutes.

My doctor was off the first week of January, so I really wanted to hold off on having the baby until she was back. All the doctors in my practice are great, but as you know, there are just some people you feel more comfortable with.

I went through that first week and the next week with constant contractions, but none caused me to dilate anymore. Everyone in my doctor's office was shocked I was still pregnant when I showed up for my once (or twice) weekly appointments. It even got to the point that I was told to try to keep my feet up to keep him from coming until my doctor got back. That - Caleb coming - didn't happen.

On January 9, I went for an appointment and was still only 1 cm and about 70% effaced. I had another appointment scheduled for Friday of that same week unless he decided to make his entrance before. That night, Clemson was playing for the National Championship. We were all sure that would put me into labor. It didn't, nor did Kevin picking me up and jumping around after we won the game. I had another appointment scheduled for that Friday unless he decided to go ahead and come.

On Thursday, I ran into my doctor in a toy shop and made the decision to be induced the next week if I didn't go into labor on my own.

The next day, Friday, January 13, I had my last OB appointment. I really felt like I was going to get to stay and go to the hospital that day (my bags were packed!), but I was still only 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced, and Caleb was at a station 2. My membranes were stripped in hopes that I would go ahead into active labor on my own, and as a backup, we scheduled the induction for Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King Day.

At that same appointment, I had an ultrasound just for fun to see how big he was measuring. He measured 8 pounds 9 ounces, much larger than we thought! My doctor estimated he'd be around 7.5 pounds, so when we saw this, I think we all - ultrasound tech included - had to pick our jaws up off of the ground. At this point, I was told to mentally prepare for a c-section "just in case."

I was nervous all weekend. My contractions intensified Friday night, but I still didn't go into labor. My dad had asked Kevin and the boys to go to something with him that Saturday, but I had them cancel because I was scared I'd go into labor and Kevin would be two hours away.

That Friday night, I remember sitting on our bed sobbing while the boys were in the tub thinking about how it would be the last Friday night with just the four of us. Hormones! I wanted to soak up every ounce of time with my two boys before their long-awaited baby brother arrived. This was the first time since early pregnancy that I really felt those hormones effecting me emotionally. (The first time was not long after I found out I was pregnant. Kevin and I were both out running and I couldn't find him when I finished. I run longer than him usually, but somehow, I missed seeing him turn down a side street in our neighborhood. I ended up driving around - there's only one way in and out - looking for him and when I finally saw him, bawled like crazy!)

We spent Saturday doing a few things to get the house ready for the baby. It was a gorgeous day, so we sat outside too. On Sunday, we went to Sweet Frog for a sweet treat that afternoon and when we got home, my guys put the baby seat in my car. Sunday was also the first day since the summer I didn't take a Zofran for nausea (I made it without getting sick from December 24 until Caleb was born.).

After the boys left on Sunday night to go to their mom's house, I really got nervous. The last thing I wanted was an induction because I heard they hurt so much worse, but I was so ready to meet our sweet baby. My mom and sister came over and brought some dinner for us. I choose pasta to give me energy the next day.

My mom had both my sister and me naturally without an epidural, and up until this point, I was relatively certain I wanted to attempt the same thing. I spent the months of my pregnancy reading books about natural birth and how to cope with it (more on those in a separate post). 

The night before Caleb was born. 
Once they left, we made sure all of our things were ready. I rechecked my bag as well as Caleb’s and tried to relax. We finally went to bed about 12 am and I was up by 2am, anxious and excited. My alarm was set for 4am so I could be up and ready for our 5am appointment, but I didn’t ever go back to sleep.

We didn't quite make it on time and left our house around five for the quick drive to the hospital. Those few moments in the dark car were some of the longest of my life.

When we got to the hospital, we checked in and were taken to our room. Two nurses came in to get everything started. I had blood drawn and then an IV started for fluids. About 6 AM, I was started on Pitocin. The contractions didn't seem to be any worse than the ones I had been having for the past three weeks. The only difference was that they came every 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. At this point, I was still hesitant to get an epidural as I felt like I might be able to handle natural childbirth.

Around 7 AM, the anesthesiologist came in and talked with us about the epidural. He really calmed my nerves. I knew at that point that I could get an epidural if I needed it. In fact, I was relatively sure I would get one at some point during labor as I was extremely nervous about what would happen now that I could potentially be having an 8.5 pound baby! 

Around 9:30 AM, one of the doctor's in my practice broke my water. While breaking the water in itself wasn’t painful (it was a warm gush of water), the intensity of the contractions accelerated immediately. It probably didn't help that I held my body as tense as I possibly could - there was no relaxing for me. A few minutes after this, Kevin went out to the bathroom and was going to send my sister, Stephanie, in, but she and my mom had gone to Krispy Kreme to get donuts for the nurses and doctors. He walked in about five minutes later to me bawling my eyes out from pain. It was time for the epidural! So much for natural childbirth for me!

Sam, the anesthesiologist, was great. He calmed my fears and took away my pain. Getting the epidural in itself was not painful at all, and it was definitely the best decision I made. Within a few minutes, I was feeling relief. I did have one “hot spot” in my lower left abdomen, but Sam quickly corrected it.

Once I was pain-free, I was able to talk with our family who kept coming in to check on me. Before going to the hospital, I was dead set on not having anyone in the room but Kevin, but sitting (or lying in my case) waiting for a baby to be born while you're relatively pain free can get a little boring. It was nice having our boys, my parents, in laws, and sister come in and out to chat with us. I think it was a good break for Kevin, too. Of course, everyone left when the doctor and nurses came in and were out when I was really "laboring." 

My dad checking out the contractions.

Around lunchtime, K.C. and Kaden got to the hospital. They were so excited and wanted to be there when their baby brother was born. They were so sweet checking on me too, and even pushed the button on the epidural to give me more relief when I needed it. They really didn't know/understand what was going on from that standpoint, so it was all good.


Since my labor was progressing so slowly, Kevin and my dad went to get Chinese for lunch. While they were gone, I just watched tv with my sister and tried to get some rest.

Most everyone I know that's been induced has had their baby relatively fast - by lunchtime. That wasn't the case for me. By 2:30, I was only 4 centimeters.

I wish I had written down all the times and what I was, but I didn't. Sometime later that afternoon around 4:45 or so, things started to progress. I didn't feel any different, but I went from 6cm to 10 cm in about 35 minutes per my husband.

Since we expected the baby to be larger and at my last check, he appeared to have not moved down much, the plan was to let my body labor down on its own in hopes that I would be able to have him naturally.

About 5:30, I remember feeling some strong pressure and telling my doctor. When she checked me, it was quickly determined that the baby was ready to come.

Part II coming soon!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Past Three Months

I'm back! And have lots and lots and lots of catching up to do! I've just been enjoying my THREE boys the past few months!

Here are just a few things that have happened the past few months:

  • We celebrated Christmas and rang in the New Year for the last time as a family of four!
  • We watched Clemson win the National Championship on January 9.
  • We had our third baby boy on January 16 (more on sweet Caleb later).
  • K.C.'s team won the Battle of the Books at his school.
  • Both of our big boys were recognized as Terrific Kids.
  • We celebrated birthdays for Kevin, Kaden, and me.
  • We took our first trip as a family of five to Clemson.
  • Our big boys each played a season of spring soccer.
  • Kevin's wrapping up a season of softball.
  • I'm back running again (oh, the work!).
  • We've stared at and played with our sweet boy for countless hours.
The past few months have been the best - the absolute best - and I can't wait to share more!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Caleb Byrnes

We are so excited that our precious baby boy is here!

Caleb Byrnes
Monday, January 16, 2017
7 pounds 9 ounces
20 inches

Birth story coming soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Let Your Light Shine

Yesterday, I had this whole post written about how awesome it was that Clemson won the National Championship Monday night (and it was awesome), but the one thing I kept going back to was something I heard Dabo say during a press conference leading up to the big game:

Let the light inside of you shine brighter than the light shining on you. 

I love this, and this phrase has kept popping into my mind over the past few days. It reminds me of one of my favorite passages from the Bible: 
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) emphasis mine
When I heard that phrase, I started thinking about my life, and specifically, my light. What light am I shining into those around me? When people see me and talk to me, do they see God's light shining in my life? What are things I can do to shine God's light?

We all play so many different roles - wife, mom, friend, employee/employer, volunteer, and on and on, and in each of these roles, we have people looking to us. I hope that in all my roles, those around me see God's light.

Does this mean I have to be perfect? Does this mean I can't get frustrated or upset? Does this mean I have to have it all together? No, and thank goodness, because I'm certainly not those things. What it means is that I need to live in a way that shines God's light.

If I'm having a rough day at work, instead of snapping at someone for walking in while I'm in the middle of preparation for a big project, I can be gentle and kind and put my focus on that person.

If my kids are bickering over something (more than likely Nerf guns and what games to play in my house), instead of fussing, I can try to solve the disagreement in a quiet manner. If they don't want to do homework, want a short order meal, and just won't listen, I can take a deep breath before getting upset.

If I'm in the middle of something and someone calls me for something, I can talk for a few minutes to make sure there's nothing that has to be done and then politely call back later.

I don't know about you, but as I sit here thinking about ways I can shine God's light, I think about many little things that I can do differently to show others Jesus.

Last night, we read about Zacchaeus which turned into a talk about kids at school who just aren't nice and some that bully others. We talked with the boys about how even though some kids aren't nice, we don't always know what they may be dealing with.

Our kids are fortunate to have parents who love and invest in them. They don't want for anything and they know they are loved. But as we explained to them, there are children at their school who take home bags of food each weekend because their families are in need. There are kids who don't know where their next meal will come from and don't have anyone that will help them with their homework or make them take a bath.

We encouraged the boys to always be nice to these kids, for they don't know what they have going on outside of school. We talked to them about how just being nice is sharing Jesus.

While it's a simplistic example, it's one that works for all of us. It's so easy to get wrapped up into me, me, me that we forget about those around us - even those closest to us. We all have things going on - stresses, decisions to make, things we wish we could change - but the way we act under these pressures and react to those around us whether they're in our home or people we pass by on the street each day, show what we're made of and Who we worship.

Let your light shine. There's always a light shining on you by the audience around you, but let the light within you shine brighter. Be Jesus to the world.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Christmas 2017

We had a really great Christmas this year! While it's always great to spend time with family and friends, I feel like getting our shopping done so early in preparation for the baby gave us the ability to really relax and soak up all the time at Christmas. We were at home almost the entire time during our nearly two-week break and it was great!

We started the Christmas holiday by baking cookies. K.C.'s class made cookie mix in a jar during their class party, so we made his cookies. They were delicious! 

Warning: Picture overload coming next!

Are you like me? Do you make your kids take the same photos year after year? The boys know by now that before they go up to bed, we have to take a picture in their Christmas pajamas. I know one day they won't want to wear cute jammies, but until then, we're taking pictures. Kaden was particularly excited that night because not only was Santa Claus coming to visit, the Tooth Fairy was also going to be making a stop!

Santa left three piles of presents this year - one for each of the boys and one for the baby! A few weeks before Christmas, the boys were talking about how they knew Santa would want to leave the baby a stocking, so I ordered a stocking for him. When it got here a few days before Christmas, we were all so excited - until we opened the package. The right stocking was in the bag, but it had the wrong name. Thankfully, the great customer service at Lillian Vernon quickly sent out a new embroidered stocking with the baby's name so Santa would have one to fill for him.

The boys always wait at the top of the stairs before they run down in the morning. How we've convinced them to continue doing this at 7 and 9, I won't ever know, but I'm not complaining!

K.C. has asked for this Nerf gun for years, but until this year, it hasn't been available. The smile on his face says it all.

 Kaden soaks in opening his gifts. He'll open a pack of gum in his stocking and get so excited. I hope he always keeps the awe and wonder he has.

The big brothers had fun opening the gifts that were left for their baby brother.

On Christmas Eve, we celebrated with Kevin's family. It's a tradition to have fondue for dinner. Since I can't have shrimp (and that's a big part of the fondue), my sweet FIL always cooks some filet mignon separately for me before the fondue. It's definitely a treat I look forward to each year.

After dinner, we go upstairs to this large closet where my MIL reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and my FIL reads The Christmas Story from the Bible. Once this is done, we wait for Santa to come fill our stockings. 

At church on Christmas morning - about to pop!

My dad had a yucky virus that has been going around, so we ended up celebrating with my parents the night after Christmas. It was really nice to spread it out. My mom made a great dinner and we took our time opening gifts. 

We really had a great Christmas season! 

Friday, January 6, 2017

BABY | Celebrating with Showers

I can't believe we are so close to meeting our newest son! I really can't believe it. These past nine months feel like an eternity and at the same time, like they've flown by, especially lately. I don't remember much at all about the first 25 weeks or so of pregnancy and I was just miserable (I'm keeping it real), but these last weeks since Thanksgiving have flown thanks in part to four awesome showers we have been given.

Our first shower was on Sunday, November 20, and hosted by my SIL, Kevin's aunt, and his cousin. It was such a fun shower! When I say I am overwhelmed with the things we were given, I'm not exaggerating. I think we received almost every bit of baby gear we needed at that first shower. We are so thankful and feel so blessed to have such loving friends and family!

The boys really wanted to go to part of the shower. I thought it was so sweet! They came at the beginning before going to a birthday party and brought a gift they picked out for their baby brother -- his first pair of Nikes! They picked them out all on their own when they were shopping with my mom the day before. They're orange (of course) and gray like theirs.

On the way home from the shower, K.C. asked me what my favorite gift was and was it the shoes. Of course it was! They are already great big brothers!

On November 25, we had another baby shower, this time, hosted by three of my first cousins. This was a nighttime shower and so sweet. We had delicious chocolate cake with ice cream and caramel sauce.

I love seeing his initials!

My cousin Elise trying to teach me how to use the sling. I may need a refresher when he's here!

With the hosts: my cousins Elise, Caitlin, and Erin.

Our third shower was on December 4 and hosted in my home church by my sister, best friend, and my best friend's mom. It was a sweet shower, and so great to see so many people I don't see often.

Our final shower was hosted by two of my colleagues at work. I wasn't expecting another shower, so it was so much fun to celebrate with some of the people I work with each day.

It was so much fun celebrating the baby with our family and friends!