How Things Are Going . . .

>> Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Another question I've been getting from people in my real life + people online is how transitioning to life with three kids is going. Well, it's actually quite perfect. I've got everything so under control. So much so, that as I write this very blog post, I just successfully put down Eloise and Eden for simultaneous naps!

Super mom, right?


I have no clue what I'm doing. Of course, we're just two weeks in, so it's not fair for me to call myself a failure yet. I'll say that Stephen's two weeks off haven't been necessarily as dreamy as they sounded on paper. He's had to continue coaching, including meets, and doing grading and other responsibilities. So, I've been sort of trial-by-fire thrown into solo parenting three kids a few times already. And it's scary, guys. I mean, I feel completely out of my element.

It's not that I wasn't expecting a transition. Even a major transition. I expected it. But I suppose I thought maybe I'd magically have a bit more figured out with the newborn stuff fresher in my mind this time around. But that's the thing. I think what's more difficult than having three kids is having a newborn and a spirited toddler. Ada's at school much of the day, so figuring out how to tend to a toddler's needs (diapers, naps, meltdowns, etc.) and a newborn's needs (constant nursing, diapers, fussy times, naps, etc.) . . . it's just --

(((Baby started screaming from her swing nap)))

Ok. Where was I?

Everyone has needs.

And I'm not yet good at meeting them all at once. The best tip you guys shared with me for parenting three kids is to use my baby carrier, like, all the time. I have four baby carriers! A Moby Wrap, Ergo 360, Maya wrap, and Woven wrap. So far, Eden sort of only likes the Ergo with the infant insert if I'm constantly moving (constantly!). But getting her to fall asleep is impossible, so she basically just cries and fusses while I attempt to do things like cook, clean, change diapers, help with homework (not super easy with a carrier IMO).

(((Screaming again -- I give up on the nap despite all the frantic yawning I'm seeing)))

Yeah. So, getting used to a toddler and a newborn is kicking my butt. I am hoping time will help. I am hoping I'll learn some stuff as I go along. I am hoping that she'll start liking the baby carrier. I'm hoping that we can get this naps-in-the-nursery thing down even if she has to sleep in a swing until she's six months old (like Eloise did! Thanks to Precious Little Sleep -- which is a great resource, btw!).

But right now I'm feeling like a master of nothing, so it's humbling. (For example, I have absolutely no idea how I'll return to freelance writing with the current stretching of my energies.) That said, both Eloise and Ada love having a little sister. They both beg to hold and kiss her all the time. In fact, they fight over it, which has been a bit of an issue. I'm just happy that there aren't sore feelings around bringing home another child. Ada's been a bit sensitive and possessive (she's MY baby).

Sorry to not have a more promising outlook to share at this moment.

(((Oh, wait. Maybe Eden is going to nap! How have her screams not woken Eloise?)))

I will say that emotionally I'm feeling good after delivery. I haven't been weepy or depressed or filled with anxiety, which is similar to what I experienced after Eloise (with Ada I did experience some PPD). I'm not feeling overwhelmed despite how it sounds. I just am hoping to figure out some stuff. To find a groove. Any kind of groove will do. But I'm not being too hard on myself. Dinner has been scrambled eggs and toaster waffles. I had a sincere talk with Ada about not having a birthday party this year because it's too much to toss into the equation.

In other words: I'm going easy on myself. We're stepping back from tons of responsibilities as a family and trying to have a quiet holiday + winter season. We're giving our family some grace. Maybe next time when I write about being a family of five, I'll have some words of wisdom to share.

Until then -- do YOU have any advice for me?


Birth // Elective Induction

>> Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Eden was born at 39 weeks and 4 days. I scheduled her birth. No, I wasn't overdue. No, I didn't have a pressing medical concern. My birth was an elective induction. If you asked me how I feel about elective inductions before I had Ada, I would have told you that I would never, ever do such a thing. The baby should take her time -- however long that is -- and come when she's ready. I would tell you that drugs to augment labor are bad because they can lead to painful, intense contractions and, as a result, more and more interventions.

My experience with inducing birth, though, has been positive.


But first I'll step back and explain how I came to the decision to schedule Eden's birthday.


It starts with my water breaking on June 14th 2016. I had been so anxious about having GBS (highly colonized with UTIs) during Eloise's pregnancy. So, I was on high lookout for my waters breaking in the final weeks of pregnancy. My water did end up breaking before contractions started. I was only dilated to a 2 and barely effaced. It was an extremely small trickle I could have easily dismissed as peeing myself. Still, I went into the hospital and was immediately hooked up to antibiotics and pitocin. My labor was considered "augmented" because my waters had ruptured on their own but nothing else happened.

That experience as it unraveled scared the heck out of me. All along I had believed that using drugs like pitocin were bad, no, HORRIBLE things. I immediately thought I'd need tons of pain medication or I'd end up with a c-section due to the baby being in distress. Why? Well, because all the "natural" birth stuff I had read and watched basically laid out that scenario as undeniable fact. I'm not saying that these interventions DO NOT lead to unnecessary interventions, but I am trying to share that it's not the case 100 percent of the time.

In the end, I labored with Eloise through mild contractions that turned "real" (based on my experience with spontaneous labor with Ada) after about four hours. Then my body transitioned quickly from 4/5 centimeters to 10 cm and pushing, with the pushing stage being really quick. And no pain meds or epidural were necessary. While the contractions were definitely intense, I found them not much worse than my "natural" ones with Ada.


With that experience in the back of my mind, I simply had asked my doctor about his thoughts on elective induction as I got closer to my due date. He said my cervix was favorable. He said that as a third-time mom, things may go better than if I was a first-time mom. He didn't push me either way and simply said it was my choice, and he'd be happy either way.

Here were some of my own considerations. (And please keep in mind that these were MY personal reasons. You are free to completely roll your eyes or disagree with these thoughts, but keep comments civil, please.)

  • We do not have family who live in our area. We tried piecing together childcare with friends, but it was tough depending on the time of day -- we were fortunate that my mother-in-law was willing to stay with us for a couple weeks in anticipation, but with nothing happening . . . help was wearing thin.
  • I started having some strange medical stuff toward the end of pregnancy. Again, nothing that required me to be induced, but near-fainting spells daily, blood pressure that was raising slightly, I was barely able to eat between morning sickness and acid reflux, and my anxiety was raising. I tend to develop keen anxiety during pregnancy since my losses, but as time went on, I became convinced something bad would happen the longer we waited.
  • My labors and deliveries are relatively fast. With Ada I was in labor for like 5 hours before pushing as a first time mom. With Eloise, once I got dilated to a 4, I had her within an hour. With Eden, I was dilated to a 3-4 at my last appointment. While it's not a reason to induce, having GBS again did make me uncomfortable because I wanted to ensure I'd get appropriate dosage of the antibiotics before birth.
  • My experience with Eloise's essentially induced birth was very positive, so I felt I knew what I was getting myself into. 
  • Current research is also trending toward 39 weeks as a more favorable time to induce rather than after 40 weeks.
  • Also: I knew my date of conception (due to tracking ovulation several ways, having a confirmation ultrasound for ovulation, and timing of progesterone supplements), so I knew I was truly as far along as I thought.

With all this on my mind, I set October 25th as Eden's birth date. This isn't to say I didn't still have some worry and reservations (until the morning we went in). But after a few days, I felt more at peace with our decision.


The process of my birth with Eden was very similar to what I experienced with Eloise. My water didn't break first, but everything else more or less progressed in the same way.

  • I was hooked up to an IV upon admission into the hospital. Fluids, antibiotics, and pitocin were put in right away. 
  • We started on 2 units of pitocin, increasing by 2 units every half hour until we reached 16. 
  • I was hooked up for continuous monitoring, but I was able to walk around with my medication "tree" and mobile monitor. I'll admit this is the biggest downside in my opinion. It's a lot of stuff to lug around. Getting into the shower, walking around, bouncing on a birth ball -- I had to contend with wires and tubes. This time around I was prepared for it, though.
  • The difference is that my doctor broke my water after I'd received enough of the antibiotics. I was afraid that things would immediately get intense, but that wasn't my experience. It still took a couple hours to get really productive contractions.
  • Just like with Eloise, I dilated from 4/5 centimeters to 10 within a short timeframe. With Eloise it took about an hour. With Eden it took just 20 minutes.
  • The pushing stage with Eloise was like 0 minutes. She basically flew out of me. With Eden, it took 3 minutes with three series of pushes. (Much better than 2 hours with Ada! But I realize that's more of a second, third-time mom thing than an induction thing.)


Pain is the factor most people ask me about with pitocin. I feel I really lucked out this time around because none of the contractions I had before breaking my water and even in the couple hours following were bad enough to breathe through. By the time they hurt, they were STRONG but  -- in my opinion -- not any worse than I experienced with my unmedicated birth with Ada.

Another thing people ask about is the time between the contractions. I don't know how much pitocin is the ceiling, but on a level 16, my contractions weren't spaced any closer than 2 minutes apart. Most of the time they were between 2-3 minutes. I didn't experience the whole overwhelming, back-to-back contractions that I have read about.

Basically, by the time I was begging for an epidural (something that's happened in all my births, including Ada's), I was at a 9 and nearly ready to push.

What about Eden? The baby is constantly monitored throughout elective induction. And I have been fortunate that both Eloise and Eden tolerated the drugs well. I was constantly reminded that the nurses were watching for baby's health throughout the process.

I suppose I wanted to write this post to share my experience. Again, I never thought I'd elect to induce. I was actually afraid of it and disagreed with choosing when to have a baby. But now I'm more for choice. That's not to say I think everyone should elect to induce. That's not to say I don't still question my own decision at times. But I also don't think it should be regarded poorly. (Trust me. I got a lot of negative feedback.)

In the end, we were fortunate to have a healthy mom and happy baby. If you'd like to read more about my emotions through the process, check out Eden's birth story.

If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to answer them!


Eden Rhys // Birth Story

>> Sunday, October 28, 2018

Here we are on Eden's due date and she's just a few hours shy of three days old. Where to begin! First, I'll say that what everyone told me about third babies is entirely true. They are certainly wildcards. After having two babies at 38 weeks and 2-3 days, I was absolutely floored when I passed that pregnancy milestone by one, two, three days . . . and then a week, etc. I don't know why I was so much expecting to go around the same time again, but I guess I like trying to control things I can't control.

My pregnancy was great this time around, which is new for me. Eden seemed really happy in there the whole nine months. Until I got to week 37, really. I started getting morning sickness again. I started getting frequent near fainting spells. I got extreme swelling, uh, down below out of the blue that my provider called "significant" and -- yeah -- it was significantly uncomfortable and even worrisome. Basically, as I neared my due date, I was sort of falling apart.

Anyway, at my 38-week appointment, I asked my doctor about elective induction. I truly never considered that I would entertain such an option. But when it WAS an option, it became ever-more appealing due to a number of personal factors. I plan to write more about why I chose this route in my nitty-gritty post about induction soon. What became clear to me when I shared my plans on Instagram is that it's highly personal and controversial. I got many well-meaning messages and comments about letting her cook until she's done, not rushing her, and tons of natural induction suggestions.

But let's skip ahead now to the day Eden was born -- October 25th 2018.

We had scheduled this date mostly because it was the first available. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I woke up at 3AM to the sound of Ada rushing into our room and then to the bathroom to throw up. She had the stomach bug. What a wakeup. I didn't fall back to sleep after that (and she continued being sick with Stephen's care -- and we had to leave my in-laws with it, which made me feel terrible) until I called the hospital to see if they had a bed for me at 6AM. They told me to eat a big breakfast and head in around 7. I couldn't eat anything because of my morning sickness but managed to choke down a half cup of Kix cereal.

As we drove to the hospital, I was reminded so much of Eloise's birth day. She was essentially an induction. They called it "augmented" labor because my water "broke" (only a couple tablespoons) and contractions didn't start, so we did the pitocin game. It was calm. I wasn't in pain like I had been with Ada (I had three extremely painful contractions in the five-minute car ride to the hospital with her!). We got a great parking spot, grabbed our hospital bags, and headed to the L+D ward.

When we arrived, we were greeted by our nurse and headed to room 6. In my hospital, the room you labor and deliver in is also your recovery room. Immediately, I started getting some bad vibes because a number of things weren't going smoothly. The computer wouldn't boot up. The medications I needed for GBS weren't getting approved. The labs person was nowhere to be found. The blood pressure cuff kept flying off my arm. All these little glitches kept making me feel like I was tempting fate by scheduling. I said this to Stephen so many times. I quietly wondered if something was just going to go wrong.

After a while, everything started going smoothly. Meds showed up. IV was in. Computer sorted out. Breakfast had arrived as well, and I was told that my doctor didn't restrict food during labor -- SCORE! We started with fluids and a very small dose of pitocin (2) and the plan was to increase by 2 units every half hour until my doctor came to break my water sometime around lunch. I also got the GBS meds shortly after we started and immediately felt some relief knowing I was "covered" fully on those grounds. I had been checked on Tuesday and was 3 cm dilated and somewhat effaced.

So, with everything going, I walked the halls and walked some more.

Contractions had started around every 5 to 7 minutes apart. But they weren't painful at all. In fact, I'd had many more contractions and much more pain the entire day after my cervical check on Tuesday. Hours passed. I kept walking. And nothing was getting much worse. Eden wasn't sitting very low and there wasn't much pressure going on my cervix. We didn't even bother checking for dilation because I was not feeling anything. By around noon, my contractions were around every 3 minutes but completely painless. I was getting anxious for my doctor to arrive to break my water because I'd heard that all hell could break loose.

Aside: On one of our many laps around the unit, we noticed a team arrive to pick up a very sick baby for transport. I obviously couldn't get the details, but I guess the baby was ill enough to need to travel far beyond even our local NICU. I hated being self-centered, but it was another moment where I got afraid something bad was going to happen. 

My doctor showed up at 1PM.

He had a very busy day with a few c-sections and lots of patient hours in the office. I loved my doctor this time around. He is a warm and witty personality. Very calm but sure of his decisions. But not at all arrogant. He greeted me and sensed I was a bit nervous. I remember asking him "is this going to end in a c-section? Nothing is happening!" and he replied that breaking my water would surely get things going. At the same time, he assured me it wouldn't be this out-of-control experience I had heard about. He didn't use a hook as I had heard about either. Instead, he had this little finger glove thing with a pricker on the end of it. I wasn't prepared for that, which is probably a good thing.

I thought he was just checking for dilation (which he was), but then GUSH. Wow. I had actually never experienced my water breaking with my other kids. With Ada, it was intact upon arrival and broke while I was in the shower. With Eloise, it "broke" in a very small amount and then -- again -- broke fully while I was in the shower. Sitting in the bed, the water just flowed and flowed and flowed. It was so warm. And there was so much of it! Every time I moved, it gushed. It was clear, thank goodness, and my doctor informed me that I was at around a 4 cm dilated.

How disappointing!

That was such little progress since Tuesday's exam. At the same time, I had taken a few moments to read Eloise's birth story and realized that I wasn't making tons of progress and was at a 4 . . . and then I dilated REALLY quickly. My doctor said he had more patients to see and -- knowing my previous fast progress -- would ask the nurses to really keep an eye on me so he'd had enough time to get back to deliver me.

I wasn't feeling particularly optimistic because even an hour and then two hours after my water was broken, the contractions just weren't that bad. They did have some pain to them, but not lots of pressure. We kept walking the halls. One of the nurses thought it was kind of funny because there wasn't much hall to walk, so it was constant back and forth! (It was either that or stay in my room and watch news about package bombs to Robert De Niro). But when I walked, my contractions did get a bit closer and stronger.

By 4PM, I was feeling the contractions more. Again, I could talk through them. They were around 2-3 minutes apart. But I didn't have to really stop and breathe. I was getting there, though. Then I remembered that the SHOWER was always the key for me.

I asked to get in the shower with my ridiculous medication tree hooked up (I got another dose of antibiotics for GBS at this time). Pitocin was being held steady at a 16 throughout. My nurse first wanted to check me because I had noticed some blood. I was 4.5 centimeters dilated but "very soft".

Four point FIVE!? Talk about discouraging. I got in the shower. The water wasn't hot enough for me to feel like it was doing much. But then I noticed a difference. Almost right away. I started talking to myself at this point. Saying "down, down, down" and slowly counting to 10 while trying hard to unclench my jaw during contractions (thanks for that tip, Kath!). I even very gently pressed down on my stomach. I could finally feel her starting to descend. I got on my hands and knees and definitely couldn't talk anymore through the contractions.

Stephen called out to me at some point and I had trouble responding. I like to be alone when I'm in pain. I retreat into my own world. It's not that I don't need support, but when I am in labor, I need quiet. I need focus. I get in the zone. But he called my nurse and she immediately sensed that I "sounded very different" and asked if she could check me. She had also noticed some de-cels on my monitor, indicating that the baby had lowered into the birth canal.

I got out of the shower and remember saying that I would like an epidural. ASAP. I had been 4.5 cm dilated just 20 minutes before getting in the shower and seriously doubted that I made much progress. "I'm just not on top of this pain. It's getting bad!" I said, but I was convinced I'd be at a 5 -- maybe a 6. She indicated that she thought otherwise, so she checked me and I was at a 9 -- NINE -- and very stretchy.

"You can start pushing now," she said. "Let me call the doctor."

I was on my hands and knees on the bed now and got my first HOLY HELL contraction where my body felt like it was turning inside out. The mental relief I felt hearing I was near the end pushed me to fully dilated. And -- better yet -- it was 5PM and my doctor had already arrived, as he was already planning to come check on me. I got wind of this news that he was ready and had another powerful contraction. The room started filling with people and machines and I had yet another CRAZY contraction.

I said something about not being able to wait anymore, and my nurse arrived at the bottom of my bed and said we could start. I was scared and said "it's going to hurt!" and, yes, it did. But I was ready somehow. I pushed and my doctor entered the room and slowly got suited up. My first push attempt was poor. I had forgotten exactly how to bear down, so we waited for another contraction . . . and it all made much more sense.

I felt the ring of fire very distinctly. They let me push several times per contraction. Then we waited. I pushed through the next one with all my might and felt her head come out and the extreme fullness of her body . . . but again was told to wait. I think they were trying to control tearing, but I begged to keep going.

I pushed one more time and felt her come out. I looked down and all I saw was a ridiculous amount of dark brown hair. And then I immediately noticed at the nurse to my right was also a nurse we'd had during Eloise's birth. I was shaking out of control at this point because I was in shock.

I went from 4.5 to fully dilated in just 20 minutes.

Pushing had taken three minutes.

At 5:07, I was done.

Eden was here!

And I was also done having babies . . . forever.

It was a lot of feelings all at once. My doctor was cool and calm and collected. He is quiet and I liked that. He assured me everything was great. They placed Eden on my chest immediately, but I will admit I was more retreated into myself. I have trouble focusing on the baby immediately after birth because of the physical stuff my body has just gone through. It's beyond intense.

The placenta was next. And lots of stitching for my second-degree tear (third time I've had the tear). But she was here. She was beautiful. She was safe despite my feeling worried about inducing her too soon.

Most important: She was the final piece to our family. Even though I couldn't stop physically shaking or all those thoughts racing through my brain, I felt the peace almost right away. We had closed a chapter and just opened a new one in that very hospital room. I had a blog back a few years ago about "writing chapter three" -- which in my mind was all about the childbearing years. Starting our family. And I guess now we're in chapter four. The gang's all here and we're making permanent birth control plans.

Cue the tears.

I have so many more things I can share about the actual induction process, why we chose to go that route, and how I've done it twice without pain medication. I would say that this time around my contractions stayed very manageable and spaced no closer than 2-3 minutes, which was incredible. From first "painful" contraction to birth was only like two hours. The rest of the induction was mostly boring and slightly annoying (it's not fun lugging around a tower of medications).

So, if you have questions you want me to cover, let me know. Otherwise, I'm going to go hold Eden if I can pry her from her big sister's arms (Ada is obsessed with her!). More soon, but I wanted to share all these details before they leave my brain.

Eden Rhys
7 pounds, 14 ounces
20.5 inches long

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