In March 2012, we discovered that God had blessed us with another baby. Clay and I were shocked. We were stunned. We were speechless. All I could do as I stared at my positive pregnancy test was think, “FOUR?” None of our friends have four kids. Teachers certainly don’t have that many. But apparently this one was about to.
We were apprehensive about telling our families. Number three had made his debut only ten months earlier, so what on Earth were they going to think? Clay and I tried to think of a fun way to tell our families, but truly we were just overwhelmed with the idea of another baby, especially when we already had one!
One of our favorite weekend traditions is for both of our families to eat at Wallace’s BBQ, so at the end of March almost all of us went to dinner there one evening- the four grandparents, two uncles, one aunt, plus the five in our family. Everyone was in such a good mood that I looked at Clay across the table and asked, “Maybe today?” He just smiled and said, “Whenever you want to, baby.”
After we had all finished dinner and were in the parking lot getting ready to leave, I handed my mom my phone. On the screen was a picture of my two positive pregnancy tests. She stared at the phone and then stared at me. To say she was shocked was an understatement. Standing around in a group in the parking lot, we shared the picture and our news to the many shrieks of “What?” and “Are you serious?” Yes. We. Were.
That spring I endured morning sickness that began with nausea as soon as my alarm went off and typically ended with me losing my breakfast before I headed off to work. That summer passed with a lot of time spent in the pool, at White Water with my boys, and purchasing anything pink after we learned number four would be a girl in June. Fall was busy and hectic as I set up my new classroom and redecorated the nursery to accommodate my two babies. In typical pregnancy fashion, the first 36 weeks flew by, and the last five crawled.
During October, I swelled to Shrek-like proportions. My ankles disappeared, and my hands tingled from the circulation being cut off by my wedding ring. I couldn’t be ten minutes late taking my Zantac, or I would be tormented with heart burn. I had lots of head aches too, which even left me in tears in the middle of Babies R Us one afternoon. Also, baby girl was so big, and my torso was so small that I couldn’t take a deep breath no matter what position I tried. Needless to say, I was miserable.
In those final weeks, I experienced a lot of contractions and not just your typical, painless Braxton Hicks. These contractions would plague me consistently for three uncomfortable hours and then fade away. My body’s preparations for delivery were driving me crazy.
At 38 weeks, my midwife Linda looked at me and said, “You’re done. I’ll write you a note for work, but you are too stressed out and you need to be off your feet.” Glorious, glorious words. However, I didn’t accept her advice/directive for three more days when my parents begged and bribed me to do so. Even when you are 34, you’re apparently still your mom and dad’s little girl. On October 29th, I worked my last day, turned in my doctor’s note that required minimal activity, and was blessed by my class throwing me a baby shower.
During the next nineteen days, I nested and crafted from my bed. I literally painted nursery décor in my nightgown while watching endless episodes of A Baby Story. As with my other pregnancies, I considered watching this show to be important preparation for my labor and delivery. I took a nap every afternoon with my sweet baby Collin, who I could not believe was about to be a big brother at 19 months. The big highlight of each day was getting dressed for carpool.
Nine days before my delivery (three days before my actual due date), I went for a stress test. For an hour, I reclined in a chair and watched my contractions on the monitor, hoping that they were enough to convince my midwife that I needed to head to the hospital. A nurse monitored me during the test, and midway through she had me drink a bottle of orange juice, because the baby was not reacting appropriately when I was having a contraction. However, after my baby girl was all sugared up, her heartbeat gave the nurse the numbers she wanted to see. Midwife Chastain checked me after the test was over and deemed that I had a “dial-a-cervix,“ meaning that when pressure was applied my cervix would open from 2 to 5 centimeters. She encouraged me that my baby girl would be here soon and not to worry. Her words were not what I wanted to hear.
My due date, Sunday, November 11th, came and went without a single contraction. To make me feel better, Clay and the boys took me to O’Charley’s where I thoroughly ate my feelings. No roll or cheese covered twisted chip was safe from my 40 week pregnancy anger.
Four days after my due date, I went for my weekly check up. Midwife Linda, who was currently my favorite because she had told me I had to stop working, declared that I was 4 ½ centimeters. Being a little sneaky, she that if I had any contractions to head for the Women’s Center and say that when I had last been checked I was 3centimeters. She promised that when the triage nurses found me to be 4 ½ centimeters, they would think I had progressed and would keep me, especially since I was already past my due date. I was totally up for a little deception at that point.
To further help me along, my midwife stripped my membranes. She said that my bag of water was bulging and actually made her nervous that it was going to rupture during the procedure. I had heard horror stories of people getting their membranes stripped but it was actually not that uncomfortable. Perhaps, my desperation to not be pregnant anymore masked the pain I should have felt. Before I left, we scheduled an induction for Monday, just in case. However, my midwife didn’t think I would make it until Monday. If I did, she said that with a little Pitocin and a rupture of my water, she thought I’d be in full labor with no problem. I was grateful to have an actual end in sight.
On Saturday at , a day and a half later, I awoke to contractions. These were more intense than the others from the past month, and I knew they were the real deal. I waddled to the kitchen to get ice (my constant, nagging third trimester craving) at 4:45. While standing in front of the refrigerator, I was hit with a terrible contraction. As it gripped my belly, I banged my head against the freezer. As soon as it passed, I hurried back to my bedroom and barked at Clay to wake up and call my mom. I immediately headed for the shower, scared that if I didn’t hurry Keaton’s labor experience would be repeated.
Quickly, I showered, shaved my legs, and did my hair and make up. During this busy hour, my contractions became slightly less intense and frequent, but I was a determined woman at that point. I was having this baby today!
As Clay and I finished getting ready and triple checked all my bags one last time, Mimi came over to take care of the boys. McLain and Collin woke up before we left, but Keaton remained passed out on a pallet in the floor of our bedroom. He was oblivious to the chaos around him.
We arrived at the hospital at . This being our fourth baby, we knew exactly where to park and enter. My parents were waiting for us at the Women’s Center entrance, surprised that they beat us there. My mom had requested a wheelchair from the front desk clerk, but I was capable of walking on my own and refused it.
My parents stayed downstairs in the waiting area while Clay and I rode the elevator upstairs to triage. I explained my contractions to the nurse and emphasized how I was six days past my due date, so the baby and I were promptly hooked up to monitors. As midwife Linda had instructed, I said that I had been 3 centimeters Thursday afternoon. However, when the nurse checked me, she said I was still 3 centimeters. Clay and I didn’t say anything in front of her, but as soon as she left, I almost had a small heart attack. Where had the other centimeter and a half gone?
As I lay on the uncomfortable hospitable bed, I grew increasingly frustrated. My contractions were not being consistent, and I knew that evidence would be documented on the monitor. Scheming a way to convince the triage nurses I was in real labor, I rolled from side to side every two minutes to trigger a contraction. There was no way I was going to be sent home. This mama wanted no more part of cankles, heartburn, waddling, or multiple middle-of-the-night potty breaks.
At 7:00, after a shift change, a new nurse checked me and said I was 4 ½ centimeters. Hallelujah! My other centimeter and a half was back! Immediately, the midwife who had delivered Keaton came in to talk with Clay and me. She said that even though my contractions weren’t completely consistent yet that they were clearly productive, and since I was already past due, she was admitting me. If I had not been the size of an elephant, I would have done cartwheels across the room! My scheming had paid off. She also said because I was 4 ½ centimeters that I could go ahead and get an epidural. Her actual words were, “Why not?” Why not indeed!
I was moved to a labor and delivery room where Clay, Mom, and I broke out all the day’s essentials: cell phones, I-pad, and cameras, and their necessary chargers. The anesthesiologist came in very soon after my room change and said he would give me my epidural between my contractions. I said that sounded great, but I was chuckling on the inside. My contractions had completely stopped, but the medical staff didn’t know, because my monitors were off. I knew that they would hook me up with Pitocin after my epidural was in place, and the nurses saw that they had faded away. I had had a little Pitocin help with McLain and Collin’s delivery, so I wasn’t concerned about restarting my contractions.
However, I was a little worried about how the epidural would affect my blood pressure. I warned the anesthesiologist and my nurse that when I received an epidural with my last baby that my blood pressure had plummeted to 45/22 and that I could barely talk. They readied a dose of Ephedrine in case it happened again, which it did. Almost immediately after the medicine was administered in my epidural, I felt the complete exhaustion that comes with low blood pressure. This time it dropped to 70/something, which was bad (normal being 120/80), but I was able to tell the anesthesiologist and nurse how I felt this time without feeling like I was trying to talk from under water. The anesthesiologist gave me the prepared bolus of Ephedrine and my blood pressure quickly normalized. I was a happy girl.
When I was hooked back up to the monitors, the nurse noticed that my contractions had stopped. Just as I had predicted, she started me on Pitocin to regulate my contractions. My lower body immediately developed a steady rhythm, which thankfully I could not feel.
As I lay in bed watching TV, I noticed that my hands felt numb. I didn’t think much of it at first, so I waited until my nurse came back to check on me to ask her if feeling my epidural in my hands was a normal side effect. She said, “No,” and dug into her pockets for an alcohol swab. She wiped my forehead, neck, and chest and had me tell her when I stopped feeling the cold, wetness of the alcohol swab. My nurse determined that my epidural was working from my shoulders down and temporarily turned it off. Her concern was that it could affect my breathing. However, I was much more concerned that I would start feeling my contractions.
Dr. Green stopped by to see how I was doing. I asked him to check me, not because I thought I was ready to push, but because I could feel the baby descending into my birth canal and wanted to know my progress. When he checked me, he said that I was now at 6 centimeters and that the baby was definitely working her way down. I was grateful that my labor was steadily progressing. He also instructed the nurse to turn my epidural back on since the level of where I could feel it was down to my belly.
About 12:30, I started to feel my contractions, not at all in my stomach but definitely in the birth canal. Because I had the same experience with Collin near the end of his labor, I pushed my personal epidural button for an extra dose of medication, hoping that would help. My contractions intensified quickly despite the extra medication, and I couldn’t for the nurse to stop by. Instead, I frantically pushed the call button and asked for her.
The nurse hurried to my room and checked me. She said I was 8 centimeters with a very bulging bag of water. Dr. Green and she agreed that my water should be broken to see if I would fully dilate. They were confident that since this was my fourth baby, I would be at 10 centimeters immediately and that I would be ready to deliver. Feeling like I was being unnecessarily tortured, I had no such confidence in their suggestion.
Dr. Green broke my water and so began twenty minutes of absolute hell. I held on to my mother’s and Clay’s hands and cried in absolute fear that I was going to be forced to have another natural delivery. I writhed, yelled, and cursed in agonizing pain. Because the epidural was only working to control the contractions in my stomach, I was acutely aware of every nerve and muscle in my birth canal. I knew the baby had not descended since my water had been broken, and I was unwilling to continue laboring without a properly functioning epidural.
My nurse rechecked me, and as I already knew, I was still at 8 centimeters. My mother and I explained (her more nicely than me) that I had received a bolus in my epidural at the end of my third labor and that I was able to easily push the baby out, even though my lower body was completely numb. Thankfully, the nurse believed us and called the anesthesiologist.
At 12:50 my epidural was topped off. The anesthesiologist sat me up in bed, so that the bolus would travel down my spine faster. Within one minute, I was blessedly pain free again and remained that way for the rest of my labor and delivery. Another accidental, natural birth was thankfully avoided.
Thirty painless minutes later, I was checked again. The nurse informed me that I was 10 centimeters, and it was time to push. Immediately, several nurses came into my room to ready it for delivery. My bed was broken down. Tables of tools were set out, and the infant table was readied. As usual, Clay moved to the left side of my bed, and my mom stood on my right, ready to hold up my dead weight legs when prompted. When the nurse suggested where to put the camera, my mother told her, “Oh, we have a lot of practice with this.” Then, she set the video camera behind my head on my pillow to film discreetly. The nurse found my mother and Clay’s expertise humorous.
Dr. Green returned to my room dressed in blue scrubs. He agreed that I was very ready and instructed me to start pushing with my next contraction. When the monitor indicated that I was having a contraction, I pushed with every ounce of my being, knowing from experience that the more effectively I pushed the sooner I would meet my baby girl. Several pushes and contractions later, the labor and delivery nurse climbed on my bed. I was surprised but didn’t say anything. Using her weight, she repeatedly pushed on my belly to get the baby’s head to move under my pubic bone. Finally, her head appeared, and I stopped pushing in an effort to see her. My nurse told me to keep pushing as hard as I could, and with a lot of twisting, turning, and shoulder manipulation from my doctor, my sweet Carolyn Amelia-Grace entered my world at . As I lay holding my 9 pound 7 ounce baby girl, Dr. Green said, “She was a tight squeeze.” I agreed!
For the fourth time in my life, God blessed me with a sweet, healthy, happy baby. Although she was not planned by Clay or me, we are amazingly grateful she was part of God’s great plan and that He knew Amelia-Grace would be the perfect addition to our family. We cannot imagine life without our pink, girly surprise.
~Shared by Ashley B.