As many of you know, a third sweet little one is growing inside of me. I’ve been meaning to write something about this third baby pretty much since I found out I was pregnant…but somehow the words haven’t come. With 28 weeks rapidly approaching on Monday, I thought that now was as good of a time as any to finally write about her. But to do that, I have to go back to the beginning…before this baby was even a possibility in our minds.
I knew before the ultrasound tech said it. It was a girl. Part of me was thrilled. I had a little boy, and now I’d have one of each. Yet, secretly, there was a part of me that was stunned.
I love being a woman, don’t get me wrong. But I was supposed to be that mama with the boys…the cool mom who played Cowboys and Indians and went on crazy, fun adventures with them. I loved growing up in a modern-day version of Little Women [read: three sisters, no brothers], but I thought that us girls had enough hormones and drama for a lifetime. Being something of a tomboy as a child, the very thought of tutus and giant bows and pink everywhere was foreign to me. It even made me cringe a little bit. (Don’t hate me, that’s just me!) To quote a line from one of my favorite musicals, “You can have fun with a son, but you’ve got to be a father [insert “mother”] to a girl.”
Up until the day my daughter was born, I was scared. Scared that I wouldn’t enjoy her the same way I loved my little boy. Scared that I wouldn’t know what to do with a girl. Scared that she’d be a dramatic little diva. Scared that I’d mess it all up.
And then our sweet little Nora Jane was born.
Nora means “light” and Jane means “God’s gift”, both names that are incredibly fitting for the sweetest of babies that is our Nora. From day one she’s been the most easygoing baby. She’s an incredible sleeper, colic has been almost non-existent, and she really only fusses when she needs something. She lets me cuddle her, rock her, and sing to her…all things that Miles never let me do in the early months. While I loved him indescribably, his colic and high-needs personality left me little time to just sit and relish in his preciousness. But Nora? Well, I’ve been able to just enjoy her.
The bows and pink and sweet little girl things just suit her, and I love them. Sometimes I wish she’d have more blow-outs, just so I’d have an excuse to change her into another adorable outfit.
And I look forward to the future. I look forward to getting to watch “girl” movies with her, and to getting to see the princesses at Disneyland and not just the action heros. My heart melts thinking of seeing her dance with her daddy, or introducing her to Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe for the first time. I can’t wait to see what kind of girl, and eventually woman, she’ll be. Will she be a free-spirited horse lover, as I was? Or will she live for tea parties and tutus?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: God knows what we need. He knew that after Miles (and really, with Miles ongoing), I couldn’t have handled a Miles II. He knew the deepest fears of my heart, and blessed me with a beautiful, precious little girl that I can cherish and adore. A little girl who, instead of wanting to be like daddy, will want to be like me. A little girl whom I can lead and guide. A little girl who will one day, hopefully, be a beautiful, strong woman of God.
I will never be one of those moms who can refer to her all-the-same-gender kids as “the boys” or “the girls”. Instead, I get to say things like “the kids” or “my children”. I would never have guessed that I’d have a boy and then a girl, nor would I have wished for it. Yet, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t trade my son and my daughter for the world.
Our Nora Jane. Not a diva or a drama queen. Instead, a sweet, exquisite little blessing who stole my heart from the first moment I saw her.
No, I didn’t want a daughter. But, thankfully, God knew better.
Fair warning: Due to the nature of the topic, this post is a little more TMI than I usually write.
My entire pregnancy with our sweet Nora was anything but ordinary. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that her actual birth followed suit. Even two weeks later, I’m still trying to process the chain of events that brought my sweet girl into this world.
As I’ve shared before, I was hospitalized at 35 weeks with preterm labor and put on strict bed rest. During that time, my contractions never lessened, and I expected Baby Girl to come at any moment. But she didn’t.
When I hit the magical number of 37 weeks and was allowed off of bed rest, I thought that getting up and walking around would do the trick. Despite intense, consistent contractions, Baby Girl still stayed put.
At my 38 week checkup (a Wednesday), I had an ultrasound done because I had started measuring even further ahead than I had before (as in, 4+ weeks ahead). The ultrasound showed a high level of amniotic fluid, enough that the nurse practitioner was concerned. Baby Girl was not engaged and was basically swimming around inside of me. She could turn breech or, even worse, my water breaking could cause the cord to prolapse. I was told to come in the next Monday (when I was 39 weeks exactly), and they’d check my fluid levels again.
On Monday, Baby Girl was still very healthy and active, but my fluid levels were still rising. I really, really wanted to give birth naturally and go into labor on my own. Yet, after almost 4 weeks of prodromal labor, I hadn’t progressed (I had been sitting at 3 cm dilated that entire time). My OBGYN and I sat down and had a very frank discussion about my options. Normally, she encouraged women to wait to go into labor naturally. In her professional opinion, however, she didn’t think Baby Girl was coming on her own, or at least not for awhile. She felt that my high fluid levels were the reason that the contractions I was having weren’t going anywhere. They just weren’t effective at bringing Baby down because there was so much fluid. With the risks associated with my rising fluid levels, she encouraged me to schedule an induction. The risk of cord prolapse was still there even in an induction in a hospital, but at least then emergency help would be there. If my water broke at home, I was 45+ minutes from the hospital, and could find myself in a potentially dangerous situation. Andy and I prayed about it, and decided to go ahead with the induction. I was told to come in to be induced that Wednesday (October 15th) at 5 am. I would be 39 weeks, 2 days at that point.
The next two days, I still prayed that I would go into labor naturally. Oddly enough, however, the contractions that had been so consistent for the past 4 weeks, all but went away. So, at 5 am that Wednesday morning we marched into the hospital. They checked me and I was still 3 cm dilated. No surprise there.
At 6:30 am they started me on a low Pitocin drip. For the next 4 hours they steadily increased it, to almost no avail. I was having contractions, but they were very inconsistent, and I almost couldn’t feel them. Andy and I watched TV and I prayed that something would start happening soon. Finally, at 10:45 am, my doctor came in and checked me. I was barely a 4. The news, while unsurprising based on the contractions I was having, was discouraging. My doctor had originally planned to break my water, but Baby Girl’s head was still so high up that she didn’t feel it was safe to do so. She suggested I get an epidural to see if it would relax anything, and then to try some different positions and things to bring baby down. I didn’t have an epidural with my son, and I was hoping to at least hold out as long as possible with this baby, but I reluctantly agreed. The anesthesiologist came in and I found myself regretting the decision during the whole process. I wasn’t even feeling these contractions, for goodness sake…why was I getting an epidural???
While the anesthesiologist was wrapping up, Baby Girl’s heartbeat dropped during two separate contractions. The nurse had me move into different positions, but both times her heartbeat didn’t go up until the contractions stopped. The anesthesiologist (who was still in the room), suggested that perhaps I was dilating more. The nurse checked me, and I was now at a 5. Progress, at least! Baby’s heartbeat didn’t drop again, so I was left alone lying on my back. The intention was to sit me up in an hour and see if we could do anything to get Baby engaged.
As soon as the nurse and anesthesiologist left (about 11:45), I started actually feeling the contractions more. I texted my mom and update and my husband and I joked about singing “Let It Go” during labor. Within minutes, the contractions started getting more intense, and I wasn’t able to text anymore. I had to get on my left side and focus to get through the contractions. The epidural didn’t seem to be helping much. My feet were numb, but my pelvis was most definitely not.
At 12:09 I had my husband text my mom that the contractions were getting a lot worse. A few minutes later we decided to call the nurse and see if they could figure out something with the epidural. Ten minutes later, the nurse still hadn’t shown up. I felt a pop, a gush of fluid, and sudden, excruciating pain.
This time when we called the nurse, me shouting in the background brought her pretty quickly. My husband told her I thought my water had broken. She said she’d check me and slowly moved about getting things (obviously doubtful, since she had left me not too long ago). My husband repeated it two more times and finally started to check. The poor, young nurse’s eyes got as big as an owl’s and she quickly called for another nurse (apparently it was a lot of fluid, and my amniotic sac was half hanging out). The other nurse came in, took one look at me, and said I was a 10, that the baby had dark hair, and that they needed to get the doctor and a table immediately.
I meanwhile was in the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced. My first epidural-free labor was a cake-walk compared to this. It felt like my entire pelvis was splitting open, and I had to yell and get onto my hands and knees just to get through each contraction. I told my husband that he needed to get the doctor and have them cut the baby out, because I couldn’t do this. I as much told the nurses the same.
While the first nurse tried to get ahold of my doctor, the other nurse turned me onto my side. I listened as they tried to find a doctor. My doctor was in a c-section and couldn’t get out, and her partner didn’t answer. Finally they reached another doctor who had just left and she said she’d be there in 5 minutes. I told the nurse that I didn’t want to wait and that she needed to just get the baby out. She assured me that she could deliver the baby if she needed to. I heard her tell my husband that if I opened my legs the baby would be born.
We waited the 5 minutes for the doctor, but my body was pushing on its own. I wouldn’t be able to make it much longer. Meanwhile, the nurse was helping to stretch the baby’s head out.
Finally, the doctor arrived, put on gloves and sat down in front of me. I opened my legs, gave two little pushes, and there at my feet lay my beautiful, perfect baby girl. They hadn’t even had time to put up a sheet or drop the bed. I could have caught her, had I had the presence of mind of Kourtney Kardashian. I watched as she gave her first little scream and they handed her into my arms, healthy as can be. The time was 12:57 pm…just over an hour after the nurse had said I was dilated to a 5.
We are so thankful for our sweet little Nora Jane. Her birth was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through, but holding her for the first time was more than worth it.
I’m pleased to announce that Baby Girl Baker finally made her grand entrance into this world!
Well, here I am at 38 weeks, 1 day and still no baby. After all the trouble we had with preterm labor, a hospital stay, and a week and a half of bed rest, we were definitely expecting Baby Girl sometime last week. So far, she’s still hanging out in there.
Feeling so out-of-control of everything the past few weeks has really brought to light some secrets buried deep in my heart. Dark, ugly secrets. Like, how prideful I am as a pregnant woman.
I see this picture I posted on my Instagram feed some months back and cringe. The heart of it was so braggy…so self-centered.
You see, secretly, I felt that the easiness of my first pregnancy was all due to me. I ate good, tried to stay active, and purposed to stay positive through it all. My feet barely swelled, heartburn was non-existent, and I delivered a healthy baby boy at 40 weeks, 1 day with no Pitocin, no epidural, and a less than 10 hour labor. Motherhood ended up being far more challenging than I expected, but I loved it and eventually thrived as a stay-at-home mom.
Then I became pregnant with Baby #2. I expected nothing less than the easy pregnancy I’d had before. I planned on staying healthy and active, keeping up my garden, being an amazing mother to my toddler, and babywearing until the very end, when I’d go in and deliver another healthy baby with a short, easy labor. I would be even more prepared this time. I knew what to expect. This wasn’t my first rodeo.
As the weeks of my pregnancy went on, I found myself slowly losing more-and-more of the “control” I thought I had. First, one of the ventricles in Baby Girl’s brain was slightly enlarged (which, thankfully, resolved itself). Then, excessive contractions and cramping almost landed me in the hospital at 25 weeks. I found myself having to go much slower than with my first pregnancy. We had to turn down outings with friends, for fear that the heat and walking would be too much for me. I tried to pace myself, but still found myself pushing…perhaps too much. Heartburn and breathlessness plagued me incessantly.
Still, I had some control. I was going to be ready. I had lists made of what all needed to be done before baby came. They included everything from deep cleaning the house to making freezer meals to packing everyone’s bags to being stocked up on paper plates.
Every shred of control was lost when I found myself hospitalized with preterm labor at 35 weeks, 3 days. I was sent home to face the daunting challenge of strict bedrest for the next week and half. All of my best laid plans went down the tubes. At night, I’d hear my son crying for me and just ache, knowing that I could not go to him…that someone else would have to. I found my independent self having to rely on others just to bring me water, change my son’s diaper, or find the extra box of cereal in the kitchen. I had time to think…and I thought a lot.
I thought about how prideful I had been. I thought about how nothing, as it turns out, had ever been in my control…nothing was due to my superior actions as a pregnant woman. This had been a hard pregnancy, with unexpected twists and turns, and it was okay to admit that. It was okay to embrace that, knowing that nothing I had experienced this go around made me less or more of a woman or a mother.
Right now, my baby carriers are collecting dust, my garden lays fallow, and my son is having to learn that Mama can only do so much today. At 37 weeks, 2 days, I wait in limbo…waiting for the arrival of my so very wanted baby girl. I no longer have any expectations of what her birth will be like. At this point, my once decidedly-pro-natural-childbirth self would even welcome a C-section, if it meant that I would have my little girl in my arms at last and that this pregnancy and everything that comes with it would be over.
Today, I know that I’m not “Super Pregnant Mommy”. Today, I feel very out-of-control. Today, I know that that’s perfectly okay.
I was so determined to be ready when Baby Girl Baker made her grand entrance into this world, somewhere around her due date. Before she came, the house would be spotless, the freezer full, bags packed, and all arrangements made. According to that plan, I’d be cleaning my house right now, waiting for my parents to arrive, and looking forward to the baby shower this Sunday and more relatives visiting this coming week.
Yesterday morning preterm labor sent me to the hospital where I spent a restless night tossing and turning, hooked up to monitors and IVs. This morning the doctors let me go home with orders for strict bed rest. I’m 35 weeks, 4 days pregnant, and we’re trying to get Baby Girl to at least 37 weeks.
So, instead of doing what I think I should be doing, I’m lying in my bed with instructions to only get up to use the bathroom. I won’t even be able to make it to Baby Girl’s shower this Sunday. There’s so much to be done, but nothing that I can do, and little chance that I’ll be able to before she makes her arrival. Things like this, they can’t be planned for…or planned around.
Yet, I see God’s hand so clearly through all of this. I see that He’s using this to whittle me away…to make me stop trusting in myself and my “plans” and to start trusting in Him. I see that I need to stop thinking I can be Super Mommy all the time, with the perfect house and the perfect plan. Because I can’t. Expecting myself to be that way only sets me up to fail. I see that His timing and His plans are always far better than ours in the end, even when we don’t understand why now. I see that it’s going to be okay.
I just have to make it a week and a half. I’m sure that the dust will sit, we’ll be eating out of pizza boxes, and my poor husband will be too tired for words…but we’ll make it. And soon, one way or another, our precious baby girl will be in our arms and this will be all over it. And it’ll all be worth it.