Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BABY | Caleb's Birth Story Part II

Caleb's birth story continued. See part one here.

At about 5:45, my doctor had me get ready to do a practice push and said she could see a head full of black hair! It was go time! She estimated that the baby would be born by 6:30 pm. 

My epidural was turned off so that I'd feel some pressure and make the birth portion more productive. I have nothing else to judge by obviously, but this seemed to be a great choice.

I got really emotional at this point. I think the greatness of the moment just hit me. This child was something I wanted for so long and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have, so just to know he was almost here was overwhelming. God is so, so good!

Everything began to accelerate now. Tables were rolled in with tools for the delivery along with the baby’s bassinet and everything else needed for him. It was so surreal to me that this was finally happening!

I felt really good during this part of delivery. I pushed for 10 seconds, three times, during a contraction and rested for one contraction. Everyone in the room was laughing because I kept talking about how great the endorphins felt! Not working out since May, I really missed the rush provided by them!

I continued to push, getting more and more excited each time. This part of labor was drastically different than what I expected it to be. I expected to be anxious, in a lot of pain, and just having to work hard, but having Caleb was a hundred times easier than I thought it would be. I was smiling, talking, and laughing. I don’t even remember getting tired during this part.

I remember Emily telling me to give a few more good pushes because he was coming, and it was like I gave one big push and out he came. He had good lungs for sure!

Caleb Byrnes was born at 6:35 pm on Monday, January 16, 2017 (MLK Day), weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Emily immediately gave Caleb to me and it was the best feeling in the world - one I wish I could experience over and over again!

Just a few minutes old!

We spent about 30 minutes with Caleb while they cleaned him and me up, then around 7, Kevin went to get the boys so they could come see their brother. Seeing their excitement over their baby brother’s birth was incredible. They just looked at Caleb. K.C. kept touching him. It was so sweet! They both got out their iPods to take pictures of him, too. Kaden had requested for months to be the first person outside of Kevin and me to hold him, so he was, followed very quickly by his big brother K.C.

After they walked in, our parents and Stephanie came in. Everyone was so excited to meet the newest member of our family!

Later that night, I was starving and wanted breakfast food. I had two bowls of cereal in the room and my parents went and picked up pancakes and sausage for me. It was so weird to eat without getting (or feeling sick)!

We enjoyed spending time with our sweet baby boy and our family. Kevin's sister and BIL and two of our nieces came by later that night. I get excited just thinking about everyone as they met Caleb for the first time!

We decided that we'd send the baby to the nursery overnight in order to get some rest ourselves, so around 11 pm, he went to the nursery. After he left, I was able to get up and walk a little. I felt much better than I imagined I would after giving birth. My right leg did stay numb a little longer than my left, but otherwise, I felt as good as I could have expected and only took a Motrin for the pain. 

The nurse brought Caleb in to nurse once in the night and then back the next morning to stay with us all day. We had some family and friends come by to visit all throughout the day and night Tuesday. Caleb slept great that morning, but we joked that he knew school was out as he woke up right when the boys got to the hospital that afternoon. From day one, he hasn't wanted to miss anything!

He and I were both doing really well, so we had the option to leave that Tuesday night, but chose to stay since we wouldn't have been able to leave until late that night (the hospital likes to keep babies for 24 hours). I'm glad we made that decision as it gave Kevin and me another night and day to rest before going home. 

He had another great night Tuesday night and we got ready to leave Wednesday. I was discharged by lunch, but we had to wait for Caleb to be discharged after seeing the pediatrician later that day. His bilirubin was slightly raised and he lost a good bit of weight, though not quite enough to stay. (We later learned that I wasn't producing enough milk. That's a story for another post.)

Getting ready to go home!

We left late Wednesday afternoon and got home to a great meal my mom prepared for us. My parents, in laws, and SIL were there to greet us. K.C. and Kaden were beside themselves with excitement that their baby brother was home. They couldn't wait to hold him again!

My mom stayed with us the first few nights which was a huge help. Though Caleb slept really well, we definitely were able to use the help for school drop offs and pick ups for the boys, groceries, and just having an extra set of hands to help. 

On his first morning at home, he woke up bright-eyed and unswaddled. Our boy does not like to be swaddled. We tried the sleep sacks, swaddlers, and regular blankets. He seemed to do semi-ok with his hands out, but we gave up on that when he was about a month old. 

Caleb has just been a joy and fit into our family so well! While my pregnancy was nothing like I imagined, labor and birth as well as adjusting to life with a newborn were drastically different - but 100 times easier - than I expected. He is just the sweetest baby, and I thank God each day for blessing us with him!

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!