The following blog post was written in May of 2019 after my first loss.
Mother’s Day Part 1
During one of my counseling sessions in April, I discussed with my counselor how I was dreading Mother’s Day. Even though my baby would not have been born during this Mother’s Day, just the thought of seeing kids celebrating their moms would be triggering for me. My counselor suggested that I make plans for the day and how I wanted to celebrate.
I talked it over with my husband and we decided to take an over night getaway to Silver Beach, St. Joe. All week long as we prepared for the trip, I obsessively watched the weather. It wasn’t until Thursday that it said it was going to rain all weekend. Bummer. Never the less we still went.
On the drive there we picked up some coffees from Biggby and enjoyed the ride. We had a really nice conversation about work, school, our future together and everything in between. This trip was relaxing and well needed. When we arrived at our hotel, we checked in and went to our room. It was gorgeous. We were on the 6th floor with a beautiful view of the city and Lake Michigan. We spent that afternoon doing some shopping and heading to dinner at a local brewery. We enjoyed some delicious burgers and fries, and continued talking about our future as husband and wife and as parents.
I brought up the topic of kids and when we wanted to try again and start a family. As much as both our desires are strong and we want kids, we both knew we still had some healing to do. I really wanted to work on myself this summer by physically losing weight and being healthier. I also wanted to be emotionally and mentally in a better space. Lastly, I still needed to find some spiritual healing and make peace with God as I was still quite angry with him. Charles wanted to work on himself as well by getting a better job, saving more money, eating healthier and just continuing to grow in our marriage.
After dinner we went back to the hotel and went swimming in the pool and hot tub. There weren’t a lot of people and it was very relaxing. After swimming we rested in our hotel room for a little bit. As the sun started to set we headed down to the beach. It was very chilly but comforting. As one way to remember my baby that Mother’s Day weekend, I wrote her name in the sand. I knew she was in Heaven and I had faith that she could see it from where she was. 🧡
Mother’s Day Part 2
On the morning of Sunday May 12th, 2019; I was greeted with a variety of different emotions. It was Mother’s Day. It was the first Mother’s Day that I felt different. Every other Mother’s Day in the past I celebrated my mother, grandma and other motherly figures in my life. However this year, when that pregnancy test turned positive, I immediately had dreams of spending my first Mother’s Day pregnant, and my second with my beautiful baby. Everything in me wished things were different, and I was still pregnant. But sadly that wasn’t the case.
I spent the morning watching the sunrise and writing a blog post. When my husband woke up he wished me a happy Mother’s Day. We got dressed and headed down to the continental breakfast that was being served downstairs. As we ate breakfast I messaged and wished all the moms I knew a happy Mother’s Day. I also received some very heart felt messages from my mom, friends and other family members.
That afternoon Charles and I headed back down to the beach. As a part of my mission to advocate for Angel Mommies, I decided to join in the Blue Mother’s Day Campaign. This is a campaign that brings awareness to all kinds of moms, whether their babies are here on earth or in Heaven. To show support this Mother’s Day I drew a blue heart on my hand in memory of my baby girl Mackenzie.
Mother’s Day Part 3
On the way home from the beach, Charles and I stopped by my parents house. We ate dinner with my parents and gave my Mom and Grandma Mother’s Day gifts. It was a bittersweet day, but I was thankful to celebrate it with my family. Before leaving my mom let me go into her flower garden and pick a few flowers to take home.
On the drive back home, I admired and appreciated the beautiful flowers that rested in the vase on my lap. I cherished their beauty and reminisced the day. I thought about how I celebrated Mother’s Day. I also reflected back to that January evening when I found out I was pregnant… and all the many memories that led me to this moment. As I reflected back I became overwhelmed with emotion. All of the feelings of this day had hit me and I sobbed on the way home. Rain hit the windows of the car, and it was as if God was crying with me. As I continued crying, I looked down at the flowers in my lap, and was simply amazed by what I saw. The beautiful flowers I had picked out of my Mother’s garden were now opening and blooming right before my eyes. In between tears I watched in amazement and pointed it out to Charles. Even through my grief and sadness of this day, I was still able to find a little joy. ❤️
I never realized I could love someone so much… I thought to myself as I held my brand new baby not even 6 hours old. I looked into his deep brown eyes and thought I love you so much. I love you more than I ever thought I could. As each moment passes I grow more and more in love with you. With these intense emotions and genuine endorphin high, also came fear and anxiousness.
I felt a piece of my heart leave my body when I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy. It was beautiful but also incredibly terrifying. For 9 long months, 39 weeks and 3 days I carried my baby. I loved him, nourished him, prayed over him, worried about him and protected him. As a mama who knows loss, I knew throughout my pregnancy that at absolutely any moment this miracle baby I was carrying could very well be taken away. Throughout my pregnancy I continuously told myself things for me to make it through. I just have to get to 5 weeks… I just have to get through 6 weeks…. I just have to make it past the first ultrasound and if baby is okay, I’ll be able to breathe. I just have to get through the first trimester. And ultimately I would say I just have to get through this pregnancy. Once I get though this pregnancy I will be able to relax and all will be okay. Little did I know that my love, as well as my anxiety for my baby was only beginning.
While in the hospital the first two nights of my baby’s life I didn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep not because he was crying but because I was so scared of losing him. I was afraid he would stop breathing if I wasn’t watching him. I was afraid he would aspirate. I was afraid he would some how suffocate from his swaddle or his organs would suddenly stop working. It was a never ending cycle that I’m sure a lot of moms encounter. It was exhausting and sometimes hard to live in the moment and enjoy my sweet newborn.
As the weeks went by I continued the roller coaster of postpartum anxiety. Was Matthew eating enough? Was he pooping enough? He sounds congested, did he aspirate? He’s crying, is it a hungry cry or is he in pain? He isn’t comforted when I hold him, is he mad at me? He failed his hearing test, does he have an impairment. Throughout this cycle I had a hard time taking care of myself. I would forget to eat, forget to drink which would ultimately mess with my milk supply and make me irritable and impatient. I would refuse to sleep because I hated hearing my baby crying even though I completely trusted my husband when he would get up to care for him. I kept putting my baby first but forgetting that I can’t be the best mommy for my baby, if I didn’t try to take care of myself too.
Postpartum anxiety is a real thing. I had no idea. I had only ever heard of postpartum depression. But these moments of mind racing, panicked anxiousness was real and hard to control. I wasn’t crazy, but going through what a lot of mamas do.
Since becoming an earth side mama, I love deeper, cry harder and laugh longer. I also fear the worse and struggle with just letting go and letting God do what he’s going to do. Part of that is just being a mom and part of that is postpartum anxiety. Motherhood is a beautiful blessing and I thank God everyday for my beautiful rainbow baby. And with time, meds and rest my anxiety and emotions will eventually settle down some. I’m getting the help I need as well as taking it one day at a time.
Motherhood is a journey. Just like how trying to conceive, pregnancy and labor are all journeys in themselves; motherhood too is a journey… and accompanied by love and anxiety.
I’m 6 weeks postpartum. . My skin is stretched, my joints are loose, my hips are wider and I have stretch marks that serve as battle scars from my pregnancy, labor and birth. . But postpartum isn’t just about the body, it’s about the mind and heart too. I am forever changed by the journey I endured of growing, and birthing a little life. Just like how I was forever changed after I lost two babies. . In the last 3 years I have been pregnant 3 times. I’ve had surgery, became anemic, was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and Endometriosis. I’ve suffered with grief, anxiety and depression. I’ve lost 2 babies, went through an anxious pregnancy after loss, fought covid during pregnancy and birthed a beautiful, healthy baby. . In the last 3 years I’ve cried more, I’ve loved more deeply, I’ve grown stronger and I have transformed.
I’m 6 weeks postpartum and I am changed yet again. . I never knew I could love someone so much… but now I do.
I never knew I could be so afraid of losing someone and stay up late thinking the worse case scenario… but now I do.
I never knew my anxiety could get 10x worse and I could have postpartum anxiety… but now I do.
I never knew another human life and I could have a strong unbreakable bond… but now I do.
I never knew I would look in the mirror weeks after giving birth and not recognize the woman staring back at me… but now I do.
I never knew that looking into my son’s eyes and seeing the way he looks at me would give me the strength to keep going… but now I do.
I never knew how emotionally and physically tiring life with a baby could be… but now I do.
I never knew how lonely postpartum could be… but now I do. . Postpartum isn’t just about losing weight or fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans. It’s about remembering the person you once were and finding the person you have become, between being a new mom and being a woman. This is my story and the journey I am taking. 6 weeks postpartum is only the beginning and I’m going to continue to embrace the changes and learn as I go. I’m still finding the person I’m meant to be and I’ll continue to transform. ❤️
Our Baby Bear is already 1 month old! When did that happen!?!? Friends and family told me it would go fast, and I did not believe them. The days are long but the weeks are flying by. We are so in love with our little man and proud at how much he’s grown already.
In Matthew’s first month of life he has…
Started focusing on faces and bright colors
Discovered his feet and learned how to kick, and even push off of things.
Embraced tummy time which he doesn’t seem to mind at all.
Started gripping things including shirts, and his pacifier.
We adore you Matthew! You are our gift from God that just keeps on giving! ❤️
The following blog post is the story of my son Matthew’s birth. This story recounts my experience of a 4 day induction, failed epidural, and the anxiety and excitement of bringing my rainbow baby into the world. I hope you enjoy the story below, and I promise… this story has a very happy ending. ❤️
On Thursday December 30th at 5am, I woke up feeling excited and nervous. Life before we knew it was about to change forever. Today is the day… I thought as I looked in the bathroom mirror at my 39 week pregnant belly. Today is the day I could meet my baby… I had waited 9 months for this moment. But when you really think about it, I had actually waited more like 3 years for this moment. I first got pregnant in January of 2019. After both of my losses in 2019, I had been praying for my rainbow baby. It had been a long journey. My entire life I have felt called to be a mom, and now my dream was coming true.
We left for the hospital around 7am. We were scheduled for a 39 week induction at our local hospital. We grabbed our bags, packed the car and said goodbye to our fur baby Rocky. As we pulled out of our apartment parking lot, my husband and I prayed. We thanked God for a healthy pregnancy, a pregnancy I thought wouldn’t happen even in my wildest dreams. We thanked God for the day ahead and prayed that his will would be done. Nerves of excitement filled the car as we headed to the hospital to start our next adventure.
When we got to the hospital we met Alli at the front door. Due to current Covid regulations, I was only allowed to have the two same people with me during my labor and delivery. I obviously wanted Charles there. We also asked Alli to be there because 1) she’s always been interested in seeing and being apart of a birth. 2) Alli knows me pretty well and I knew she would be willing to advocate for me if need be. And 3) she has lots of medical knowledge being a paramedic, and that gave me some comfort knowing she was there. Alli brought me breakfast as we entered the hospital. We went through the Covid screening and made our way up to Labor and Delivery,
When we checked in to L & D, they brought us up to the Antepartum section of the Mother and Baby floor. We got settled into a room, where a nurse asked me an hour worth of questions and hooked me and baby up to the monitors. After baby was monitored for an hour, and everything was looking fine, a nurse came in to talk to us and get things started.
The midwife came in and checked my cervix. I was dilated a centimeter on the outside but the inside of my cervix was still closed. I was also about 50% effaced. She suggested that it be best that I start the induction using the Cytotec drug. This was a pill inserted near my cervix that would dissolve and help it to ripen and dilate. The only issue with this pill was if I started having contractions too fast, then it wouldn’t be ideal to continue the drug. At 10:45am we started the first dose of Cytotec. In four hours I would get checked to see if it had done what it was supposed to and made changes to my cervix.
Four hours later, a midwife came in to check my cervix. I was disappointed to hear that my cervix hadn’t dilated anymore, and the effacement stayed about the same. Since the Cytotec didn’t progress my labor, they considered giving me another dose. However, after monitoring baby and my contractions for the past 4 hours they decided against another dose. The monitors showed that I was having too many contractions coming too close together. These contractions could be dangerous. Since the contractions weren’t strong enough to progress labor they could easily put me or baby into distress. My nurses advised that we shouldn’t do another dose of the Cytotec and try something different before starting Pitocin to advance the dilation process.
After talking to the midwife, we decided to try something called Cervadil. It was a little piece of plasstic with a string that is inserted and left near the cervix for 12 hours. It did the same thing as the Cytotec pill except if this drug caused too many contractions we could pull it out, whereas with the pill we couldn’t. Knowing that this intervention could take 12 hours to work, I realized I would not be having my baby that day. I was discouraged but tried to tell myself it was for the best and that he may come on Friday.
After receiving the first dose of the Cervadil, we were moved to the Labor and Delivery floor where they finally had an opening. I ordered room service while Alli and Charles got Chinese. After eating dinner Alli and I turned on some 2000’s music, and had a dance party and did exercises on the birth balls in hopes of getting things going. In the midst of our dance party, one of the midwives walked in on us. She was impressed with our eagerness to get the baby out. As the afternoon turned into evening, we decided to call it a day and get some rest.
At 3:30am, I met the new midwife on duty. It had been 12 hours since the first dose of Cervadil. I was feeling contractions every 2 to 3 minutes but they were manageable at a 4 on the pain scale. The midwife asked if I wanted to be checked to see if I was progressing. I agreed and she checked me. This cervical check was particularly uncomfortable as the midwife removed the medicine before performing the check. The medicine also made everything feel quite raw, which was not ideal. I was measuring at 2.5 centimeters and 50% effaced. I was thankful we were making some progress but sad it was moving so incredibly slow. We discussed the next course of treatment, and decided to do another dose of the Cervadil for another 12 hours because that is what seemed to be working. I wasn’t excited about this treatment as it was very uncomfortable, but if it meant that I would progress then I was all for it.
I woke up again Friday around 6am. I was hungry, uncomfortable and eager for things to get moving. I talked to family and friends over the phone and through messages, updating them on the progress of my labor. At around 7am I ordered breakfast, and Charles headed out to go feed our kitty Rocky. Alli left around 4am to get some sleep, and returned later in the morning. I tried my best not to feel angry, sad or discouraged. I was hopeful that this was the day. New Year’s Eve was the day I would have my baby. I spent the day, rocking on the birth balls, pacing the room, sitting in the bath, and anything else I could think of to get labor moving. Due to covid numbers being so high in the hospital I was in, I was not allowed to leave the room. I wasn’t allowed to walk the halls to progress labor. Being stuck in the same hospital room for hours was starting to make me go stir crazy, but I tried not to let that get me down.
In early afternoon, I started feeling a lot of pain in my groin. I was hopeful that it meant my cervix was dilating, but at every check, I was told the same thing. “You’re 2-2.5 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced.” It was so discouraging. After every check I cried partly from being raw and partly from feeling so discouraged. I asked for Tylenol to help with pain and my nurses said Tylenol wouldn’t do much to help, so they recommended morphine. I was given one dose of morphine in my leg. Within minutes I felt like I was on a pile of clouds floating through the sky, then I was out.
Around 3pm on Friday afternoon I met a new midwife. Her name was Jen. At first I felt like she was too nice to be a midwife. But after talking with her, I realized she was a genuinely nice person. I also liked that she was a go getter and willing to help me progress my labor by providing a variety of options. After getting checked and only progressing to 2.5 centimeters, Jen suggested we try a balloon catheter in my cervix to mechanically dilate my cervix to at least 4 centimeters. This intervention sounded very uncomfortable, but I was willing to try it because I trusted Jen and wanted to try anything to be one step closer to meeting my baby.
At 3:30pm I was given morphine to help prepare for the insertion of the balloon catheter. Within minutes I felt overly drowsy again. Jen came in shortly after to insert the catheter. She suggested I go to the bathroom before the procedure. While walking to the bathroom I was stumbling and falling asleep on the toilet. Considering how the morphine effected me, Jen did not feel comfortable giving me the catheter at that time since I was minimally conscious. She told me to sleep it off and we would try again later.
At 6pm, Jen came back to insert the catheter. Thankfully I was able to sleep the morphine off and was feeling a lot more coherent. Jen used lidocaine to help with the insertion process and it made things more comfortable. I braced myself for a lot of pain, when it actually wasn’t nearly as bad as getting the Cervadil. Once the catheter was in I decided to take a bath and relax. My contractions started to gradually speed up, and the bath water made things feel a lot better.
The balloon catheter stayed in throughout the night and I continued to have contractions that were mild in pain. I felt a mix of discouragement and hope as I prayed this would get things to progress sooner rather than later. I fell asleep around 11pm. I told myself if I wake up before midnight, I will turn on the tv and watch the ball drop. At 12:01am I was startled awake by fireworks bursting in the sky throughout the city. Alli and Charles woke up as well and we rang in 2022 in the hospital. I was slightly disappointed I didn’t have my baby in 2021. But I tried to stay positive and think about how wonderful it would be to start the year 2022 with my beautiful baby boy.
Saturday morning around 6am my nurse and midwife came in to remove the catheter. I told them I was sure there was probably no progress as I didn’t feel an increase in pain. I went to the bathroom and while in there I noticed blood in my underwear. At first it kind of startled me as I hadn’t seen blood down there in 9 months, besides some very minor spotting throughout my pregnancy. But then I got excited as I knew this was progress and things were starting to happen.
The midwife removed the catheter and checked my cervix. I was 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. My bag of waters were starting to bulge and things were actually looking up. My midwife, nurses and I decided to make up a plan. Since I was finally at 3 centimeters we were able to start pitocin which would hopefully kick start some stronger contractions. By 9:15am they started the pitocin, and I went back to the bathroom to labor in the tub. The excitement of having my baby soon was starting to sink in again. Today could be the day! I could have a January 1st baby!
At first the Pitocin seemed to be working. My contractions increased in frequency and became slightly more intense. As the day progressed and my nurses increased my dosage of Pitocin, my contractions slowed down. This was disheartening. I was so sure that once I started Pitocin it would put me into active labor, but it didn’t. That afternoon, I remember just laying in my hospital bed sobbing. Why is this taking so long? Is it my mindset? Is it my body? Does my body not know what to do? Is baby not ready to come out? I was overwhelmed with emotions and hormones. I was tired of being patient and all I wanted to do was hold my baby. Charles held me as I let all my emotions go. He told me I was strong and I could get through it. Alli encouraged me and said I was doing amazing. My parents comforted me over the phone, and told me they were proud of me. My nurses told me they knew it was hard but I was strong and they were proud of me too.
By mid afternoon, my midwife, nurses and I all came up with a new plan… again. We decided to stop the Pitocin since it didn’t seem to be doing anything and we didn’t want to put baby into distress. My nurses encouraged me to eat something since I hadn’t eaten since starting the Pitocin at 9:15am. After eating dinner around 6pm, my midwife Lanie recommended that we try the Cytotec drug again. She said since I had progressed since first trying the drug, it may be just what my body needed in order to kick start labor. Around 7pm, I was given my second dose of the Cytotec drug. Still feeling discouraged, I ate some fudge that Charlie bought me and watched Friends on Alli’s tablet. It was the episode where Rachel has her baby… which I deemed very appropriate. Throughout the night, my nurse Nichole gave me encouragement. I had the same night nurse every night I was there, so she had seen me through a lot already. Nichole brought me popsicles, 7 Up, a fan so I could get a good night sleep, and even drew me a picture to color as a focus point for when I eventually started pushing,
At 11pm, I had another cervical check. I remained the same at 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. My midwife said she could tell my cervix was starting to change and she was pretty confident my baby would have a January 2nd birthday. I was tired of getting my hopes up and didn’t believe her. I had a third dose of the Cytotec drug and was encouraged to get some sleep. At this point, I was starting to wonder if I was going to end up having a c-section. I didn’t know how much more my baby or I could take. I dozed off for about an hour then was wide awake. I stared at the ceiling and listened to my baby’s steady heartbeat on the monitor. It was 1am, and I was feeling restless. I got up and walked around my hospital room rubbing my belly. The more I moved the more often I would have contractions but they just wouldn’t increase in intensity. I called my mom and talked to her for about 45 minutes. She told me how strong and proud she was of me. I confided in her how defeated and tired I was. I so wanted to believe I was almost there but I really didn’t know that for sure. At a quarter to 2, my mom encouraged me to try and get a little more rest.
I laid back down in bed and played the Greatest Showman on my phone. I still had yet to see the movie, but heard it was good. About 15 minutes into the movie, I started feeling pain, The pain started to increase rather quickly and I realized this was a good sign. I was starting to have frequent strong contractions again. Contractions continued for the next hour at a 6 on the pain scale, about 1-3 minutes apart. I started moaning and gripping the side of my bed which woke up Alli and Charles. I felt kind of bad as they had been troopers through the whole thing and I really didn’t want to disturb them unless this was the real deal.
At 2:55am, my midwife came in to check my cervix. She wanted to see if I had progressed anymore and if I needed another dose of the Cytotec. She said she noticed my contractions getting stronger and more frequent on the monitors. As she checked me she said “Umm, I’m not sure. Well I would say you are about 3 or 4 centimeters dilated and yeah, I definitely notice some change in your cervix… oh shoot.” I instantly felt a pop, a gush and some relief. “I just broke her water, I was not trying to do that.” She said to my nurse Nichole. I was actually excited my water broke. I knew that meant somehow, some way my baby would be born in the next 24 hours. It was January 2nd and I told myself yet again Today could be the day! Today could be the day I meet my baby.
I spent the next two hours trying to be brave. Contractions were coming every 1-2 minutes and getting more and more intense. At times they were regular but at other times I would have 3 small contractions back to back and one big contraction. I gripped the bed and took deep breaths. The pain was intense and it was hard for me to think. Charles and Alli took turns squeezing my hips and rubbing my back. By 5am I couldn’t handle it anymore and hit my call button, I requested to see my nurse and see if I could get something for pain, and when I could get the epidural.
At 5:15am, my nurse Nichole came in and told me that she spoke with my midwife and that it was a good time to administer the epidural if I was up for it. I asked if it was too early since I was only 3 or 4 centimeters dilated. They said it wasn’t and by getting the epidural I could get some rest. I agreed, and they called the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural.
In between contractions I listened to my nurses instructions and made my way to the edge of the bed in order to prepare for the epidural. The nurses asked Alli to step out as I was only allowed one support person in the room while the catheter was being inserted. Alli stepped out to the waiting room, while Charles was instructed to sit in front of me. He faced me and I put my feet on his thighs as the bed was raised as high up as it could go. The anesthesiologist numbed my back, inserted the catheter and waited for the epidural to take effect. He worked quickly in between contractions as I squeezed my husband’s hands and my nurse held me still, I felt some fear during the procedure as I had read of horror stories and epidurals going wrong. I prayed that the epidural would work and the pain would not necessarily go away but at least be manageable soon.
After about 8 contractions, I started to feel the effects of the epidural. I laid back in bed and tried to relax. My right lower half of my body started to get very numb, my left side only got slightly tingly. After a few more contractions the anesthesiologist was overly confident that everything was working the way it should and left. I laid in bed for the next two hours waiting for the full effect of the epidural to kick in… it didn’t. I was in tears as half my body was numb and pain free while the other half was feeling every single intense contraction. I felt lopsided, uncomfortable and frustrated. It was almost worse than not having the epidural at all. My nurses tried rolling me on my side to see if the medicine would drain more on my left and it didn’t.
At 7:30am, my midwife Jen came into the room. Through the pain and my tears I was actually really excited to see her. She had made a joke the last time I had saw her that hopefully by her next shift she would see me on the Mother and Baby floor with my baby, but if the baby wanted to wait for her that would be okay too. I said hi to Jen and told her that the baby waited for her. She laughed and said she was happy to see things moving along, As Jen got caught up on my chart, I continued breathing and crying through contractions. Jen suggested I get checked to see where I was at. She checked me and I was only 4 centimeters and 80% effaced. Seriously!? I even screamed seriously as I was in disbelief I hadn’t progressed at all. I was tired. I was defeated and I was feeling done, and yet I still had several hours of labor to go, 6 more centimeters to dilate, plus pushing. How was I going to do this? I was on day 4 of labor, and being in the hospital. The wait and intensity of labor was really starting to wear on me. Charles, Alli, my nurses and my midwife could all tell I was getting exhausted and if I was going to push through and make it to the end, I needed help.
My midwife Jen told my nurses to call in another anesthesiologist. She said it was possible that the epidural was just placed wrong or that I had what they called a hot spot where the medicine didn’t block the pain in a certain part in my body and therefore there wouldn’t be anything they could do.
Moments later a different anesthesiologist arrived. Again I was prepped and positioned for a second epidural. This time the anesthesiologist said I have a slight curve in my back that the first anesthesiologist missed. Due to the slight curve all the medicine from the epidural only went to the right side of my body. He removed the old catheter and placed the new one higher in my back. Within minutes I started feeling relief in my left side along with my already very numb right side. As the anesthesiologist left, I told him he was my favorite person. He chuckled and went on his way. Thank you Jesus. Finally some relief.
I spent the next hour or so resting in bed. I didn’t fall asleep, but rested my mind, and talked to my family on the phone. When it was quiet I listened to my baby’s steady heartbeat on the fetal monitor while also watching my contractions start to intensify on the screen above me. My nurses started my Pitocin again. This would hopefully help to make my contractions strong but also productive in helping me dilate and progress in labor. I was fine with anything at this point since my epidural was finally working the way it was supposed to.
By 10:30am, my nurses and Alli helped get me into different positions to try and open my pelvis in order to progress labor. Since I was completely numb from the waist down (besides being able to wiggle my toes), my nurses had to physically lift me and move me. I first tried laying on my side with a peanut shaped ball in between my legs. I laid on each side for about a half hour, to 45 minutes. Then I continued laying on my side while my nurse and Alli took turns squeezing and massaging my hips, and glutes. During one session of these, my belly was pressed against Alli’s. Without any warning, baby decided to start kicking which took Alli by surprise. She found it funny and weird to feel my baby kick her belly.
Around 11:30am, I tried yet another position where I was on my hands and knees on the bed. My bed was at a 45° angle and I had a beanbag chair placed under my belly for cushion. I then laid over the bean bag chair and laid my head and forearms on a pillow. In this position I talked to Charles and Alli, texted friends, called my parents and tried to relax. It was strange being in this position and not being able to feel my legs. I had a few issues with my fetal monitors picking up baby’s heartbeat. It seemed like baby would move for a moment and it couldn’t be detected but the minute the nurse came in baby decided to move back and the monitor would pick it up again. This happened a few times and it was quite comical. I told my nurse that baby just really wanted to mess with her.
Around noon as I watched my contractions on the screen get more and more intense, I started to get uncomfortable. I wasn’t feeling any contractions but I was starting to feel pressure in my left hip and glutes. At first I thought it was my hip falling asleep or getting more tingly from the epidural. As I continued to lay there the pressure got stronger and gravitated towards my pelvis. By 1pm, I started feeling the sensation every woman talks about when it’s time to push, I felt like I had to poop. The feeling was felt mostly in intervals as if it was during contractions. As my nurses came in to check on me I told them what I was feeling. They told me they would continue to check on me every 20 minutes or so, but to let them know if the pressure became stronger and didn’t go away.
By 1:45pm the pressure and urge to push was not going away. I was thankful. I knew it was almost time to start pushing. I was uncomfortable but excited I would be meeting my baby very soon. I pleaded with my nurses that I wanted to push. They called Jen and told her what I was feeling. My nurses quickly got me out of the hands and knees position and on to my back. Jen gave me one last cervical check and said the words I had been waiting days to hear “You are… complete. So, you can either start pushing now, or wait for baby to descend a little more.” With tears and no hesitation I said “Let’s get this ball rolling, I want to push.” Jen agreed, and got into position. Jen directed Charles to grab my left leg and Alli to grab my right leg. My nurses used a catheter to empty my bladder and suggested inserting an internal monitor so we could see how strong my contractions truly were. I agreed to this and prepared myself to push. Jen instructed me to try and push as I felt the pressure to be more intense which would be during each contraction. She also told me to push like I am having the biggest poop of my life.
At 2pm, I grabbed behind both my knees and started pushing. Every 30 seconds I felt like I was doing ab crunches and having a bowel movement at the same time. Jen was calm and encouraging. She reminded me to breathe and push with my body and not my face. Alli and Charles encouraged me. They told me I was strong and to keep going. At first it felt like I was making no progress. But in the moments where Jen would say “I’m starting to see the head” or Alli saying “Oh my gosh, look at all that hair.” Or even Charles saying “He’s coming babe.” I was able to get a second wind and push harder.
As my baby’s head started to crown, Jen asked if I wanted to feel it. I hesitated at first then decided I did. I reached down and felt so much hair! Jen removed the internal monitor and told me to continue pushing at my own pace. In the moment, I was some what in disbelief that he was coming but also impatient that he wasn’t out yet. As I continued pushing, Jen explained to me that everything was going well and baby was slowly but steadily coming like he was supposed to. A few times in between pushes I panicked because I couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat. I was so afraid he was going into distress. I guess Alli read my face because she grabbed the fetal heart beat monitor and pressed it harder on my belly so we could all hear it.
It was 2:30pm and I continued pushing. My adrenaline was running and deep down I was willing to tear my own body apart in order to meet my baby. I felt like it was taking forever. I watched as my midwife put on a gown and set up trays with my nurses at the foot of the bed. She requested some Astroglide to assist with the delivery of the head. Alli and Charles continued encouraging me, telling me baby was beautiful and he was almost there. I remember telling them “that’s great cause he has a big head and I want him out.” After that I had an overwhelming wash of emotion come over me. I started to feel the ring of fire. I was so tired. I had been in labor for days. I was nearing the end but was afraid I was too exhausted to continue. I looked at Charles with tears in my eyes, then looked over at Alli and said “I’m so tired.” Alli said “I know but you’re almost there.”
Charles stroked my head, and Jen told me to give the biggest push I could. I felt a nurse pull down the front part of my hospital gown. With all my might I pushed, and I felt my baby’s body leave mine and I heard the most beautiful cry. A cry I waited my entire life to here. My baby boy was born. At 2:34pm my son entered the world. He was placed on my chest wiggling and crying. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen
During the afterbirth and as I got stitched up for my second degree tear, I held my baby in my arms. I told my son I loved him and that I had been waiting for him. I told him that I had prayed for him and that God answered my prayers. I kissed him and said “Welcome to the world baby. I’m your mom and I’m going to take care of you.”
May I present: Matthew Charles Rhames. He was born on 1/2/22 at 2:34pm weighing 7lbs 11oz and was 20 inches long. I was 39 weeks and 3 days along. A total of 76 hours of labor, 11 1/2 hours of active labor and 30 minutes of pushing. He had ten fingers, ten toes and a full head of hair. Cheeks and lips like his mommy and a nose and chin like his daddy. Oh, and big brown eyes from the both of us. ❤️
On Saturday (Christmas Day), I noticed my body starting to make some changes. I was feeling slightly more fatigued than I had been that week and took multiple cat naps. After one cat nap in the afternoon, I noticed a lot of pressure in my pelvis. No contractions but a little back pain. I got up and went to the bathroom. When I was done I did a double take in the mirror and realized a big difference. My belly was different. My belly was lower. Baby boy had dropped. I was ecstatic at this realization. Finally, things were progressing and moving in the right direction.
Throughout the holiday I continued looking at my bump and how it had changed. I also continued staying active and eating dates in case labor was truly just around the corner.
Sunday night (December 26th), I went to bed at 9:30pm. I woke up at 11:30pm in some pain and discomfort. I tried just brushing it off and continue sleeping. The pain and discomfort was similar to menstrual and diarrhea cramps. The pain also wrapped around to my back and down my legs. Since pain came and went, I decided to start timing my pains and what I suspected were contractions. At first the pain was every 15 minutes apart and lasting a minute, then every 8 minutes apart, then bounced around between every 4 minutes to every 20 minutes. As the pain continued throughout the night, I decided to call the on call number for my OB office and ask their opinion on what to do and if I needed to go to L & D.
After being on hold for a full hour, at 2:45am a nurse finally answered. She asked me some questions and I explained to her what I was feeling. The pain was not unbearable by any means, but I truly felt like what I was feeling were indeed contractions. After the nurse’s over the phone assessment, it was determined that I should go into L & D to be checked in case it was truly labor.
At 3:50am, Charles and I walked into L & D triage on the 4th floor of the hospital. I was immediately, assessed and hooked up to monitors. Baby’s heart rate was excellent around 145, and some very light contractions were starting to show up on the monitor at roughly 8 minutes apart. My nurse gave me a cervical check said I was about 1 cm dilated on the outside of my cervix but closed on the inside and 50% effaced.
After an hour of being monitored, a midwife came and spoke to me. She said that I was likely not in active labor but early labor. It was possible I could go into labor anytime or I could just be in early labor for a week or so. She also mentioned that she noticed in my chart that I had had Covid at around 32 weeks. Within the last few days it had just became a new hospital protocol that if moms in the third trimester test positive for Covid, they would have a scheduled induction at 39 weeks.
Once we were cleared to leave, we scheduled our induction for Thursday December 30th @ 7:30am. I was getting very excited that my body was starting to show signs of labor, and that we would meet our boy sometime that week.
Hi, I’m Andrea! How do I know Kaylee, you ask? Well, Kaylee and I have been best friends for half our lives. If you ever get a chance to ask her how we met, do it. It’s quite the story! Today, I’d like to share with you about body image. However, before we dive into such a deeply personal topic, I should tell you a little about me. I enjoy crafting, hiking, anything nature-related, good conversations, board games, changing seasons, experimenting in the kitchen, and all things Christmas. Oh, and my husband is my favorite. We met in college (another great story for another time) and have been married for three years. We have an active, inquisitive 19-month-old son and are expecting a baby girl around Thanksgiving.
Enough about me. Let’s talk body image.
Remember when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) had their first child and gave the public their first look at their new baby? In the photos released, a beaming but tired William and Kate snuggled their newest addition. Kate wore a beautiful dress that tucked in at her waist and revealed her postpartum baby bump. To my surprise, media in the US centered not on the sweet little bundle of joy, but rather on Kate’s newly postpartum body. I couldn’t believe that after waiting 9-10 months to meet their baby, the public was more interested in how small Kate’s waist was, the fact that her belly still bulged little, and other features not worth noting.
While stigmas surrounding body image affect every person, childbearing women especially experience this reality in a deep and raw way. Some women I’ve known have a newfound security in their body image while pregnant or even after birth, finding pride in what their bodies can do and how many incredible changes they face to nourish and care for a child. Other women face deeper and more extreme struggles when they don’t have the perfectly round baby bump they’ve always pictured, or stretch marks tear across new areas of their bodies, or they face pain with their previously normal activities such as walking, intimacy, or even sitting.
Pregnancy has a way of impacting every portion of our being, from physical to emotional to spiritual. From the moment conception takes place, our bodies begin a long process of growing, changing, and morphing in new ways. With my first pregnancy, I pictured glowing skin smiling through morning sickness, a perfectly round little baby bump, and minimal weight gain that would slough off with a few months of breastfeeding. Boy, was I wrong. I was instead met with an overall feeling of puffiness from my face to my toes almost immediately after conceiving. My fatigue was overwhelming. I didn’t just feel tired. I looked tired. Acne popped up. When my bump began to show (much earlier than anticipated, I should add), I was met with more insecurity. I’ve always had a rough relationship with my stomach. Attracting more attention to an area I’ve always wanted to downplay brought up even more feelings of insecurity, especially considering the many unwelcome hands touching it (another topic altogether). Yes, I was absolutely thankful to be pregnant, but I just didn’t look or feel the way I had pictured.
Once I was in the midst of the second half of my pregnancy, my weight gain – while in the healthy range on doctor’s office charts – felt like too much. My jeans were tight and my maternity shirts that had fit me at 18 weeks were creeping too high on my stomach while my bust pushed them too low on my chest. Everything was changing. By 30 weeks, my stomach had reached its limit for how far it could stretch. I tried creams, but my genetics won out. Stretch marks began to span across my growing belly. When I found the first one, I felt panic rise in my chest. “What?! This early?! How many more will I get before my baby arrives?” I’m glad I didn’t know the answer then. I needed time to accept and appreciate my changing body.
Eventually, I couldn’t see my toes. I could hardly do a patchwork job of shaving my legs. I was too uncomfortable to do much of anything. Basic hygiene took loads of effort. I didn’t feel very human anymore. I used to be excited for this stage of pregnancy when I was obviously pregnant and feeling every movement of my little son…but the discomfort nearly outweighed the excitement. Then I faced guilt for feeling this way. Much of my pregnancy was not what I had pictured.
Then, the day came. The day.I gave birth to my miracle son, my sweet little boy. I had pictured this moment in my mind’s eye countless times. I’d heard women say everything in their world melted away the moment they saw their baby, and nothing else mattered. It’s a bit of a dramatized statement, but it holds some truth. Looking at my son and recognizing that I was his most crucial caregiver brought new perspective to my life. My dislikes about the current state of my body didn’t matter so much anymore. I had more to think about than the size of my waist or how many stretch marks I had acquired.
Regardless of a shift in perspective, I still had the same body to sleep in, eat in, and see naked in the bathroom mirror. I had the same body to move in, breathe in, and use to care for my new baby. I had to come to terms with what it was. I remember lying in the bathtub at the hospital the first chance I had to bathe after birth. I was exhausted and thankful that I had completed the birthing process. Then, I looked at my stomach…and I couldn’t believe the words that came to my mind. “My stomach is floating.” That once-full belly with a little pregnancy fat and a little pregnancy stretch was floating. My stomach muscles were too tired and stretched to hold it. I felt another wave of panic. “Will my stomach always be like this?! How will I ever run again? How will I ever find another dress that makes me feel beautiful?” But thankfully, I was too tired to dwell on these things for long.
In the weeks following birth, I was still too tired to do much fretting about what my body looked like. I was caring for a new life 24/7 and adjusting to a new level of responsibility and purpose for me. Eventually, as I emerged from the fog of caring for a newborn, my insecurities began to eat at me again. It took longer than I had imagined for my stomach muscles to tighten again. My extra weight wouldn’t budge much until I had stopped nursing my son. Yet, this round of dealing with insecurities looked different than it had throughout my pregnancy. This time, I had a newfound empowerment. Yes, I was stretched out, tired, scarred, and a few pounds heavier than I wanted to be…but I had carried a life. I wore the battle scars of nourishing another human from the inside out. I plumbed the depths of my heart and mind for strength I didn’t know I could ever muster during the most uncomfortable moments of pregnancy, in that birthing suite, and in the middle of the night fits of colic. And in those moments, I had the opportunity to reassess my purpose in life, and how that intense difficulty served to point me to the One who made me, sustains me, and gave me my son to care for. He gave me meaning and purpose and used even my lowest moments to teach me about himself and draw me in to his incredible grace and tenderness.
Call me crazy, but I’ve found more confidence and strength in my postpartum body than I ever had in my pre-baby body with my flat, smooth stomach and well-exercised body. Defining my purpose and looking beyond the moment to remember it was more impactful than a few stretch marks could ever be. I’ve been scarred by childbearing…but the confidence I’ve found has meant more than any of my previous body ideals. And that confidence could only be found in seeing beyond the moment and shifting my perspective to my body’s purpose. I am so much more than my body.
Whether you’ve ever experienced pregnancy, birth, or caring for a baby postpartum, you’re bound to at least experience some form of body image issues. Remember, your body is a vehicle to carry out your purpose in life. It’s not the prize at the end of a race. You have a chance to live every day in this vehicle that will continually morph throughout your life, with or without childbearing. And it’s worth it. Don’t let your body be what defines you. It’s about what you do with your body that matters. Who are you? What do you think? What makes you tic? How do you spend your time? What gives you purpose?
This past year, was a good year for us as we grew our family, got a new car and Charles got a new job. I can only imagine how amazing 2022 is going to be. Below is a list of things I hope to accomplish in the year 2022. 🎉
My Goals for 2022
1. Give Birth to our Beautiful Rainbow Baby!
He is due any day now and we just can’t wait to meet him!
2. Start a Small Business on the Side
If you’ve been following me since the beginning you probably remember my Etsy business? My Etsy business was a little shop where I made and sold hand knit and crocheted items. I would like to do something similar to that again. Or at the very least learn to sell things on EBay or Poshmark.
3. Finish Reading the Entire Bible
In 2021, I made it a goal to read the entire Bible. I didn’t quite read the entire thing, therefore this is a goal I would like to pursue until it is completed.
4. Move to a Bigger Place to Fit Our Family of 4!
With Charles, me, our new baby and Rocky… we are going to need to find a new place to live because our one bedroom apartment is getting a little too small. We are hoping to find something that fits our needs whether it be an apartment, townhouse or house.
5. Publish 1 of My Books
I kind of took a step back on working on my books this past year. It really wasn’t my intention but between working full time and being pregnant, my book ideas simply took a backseat. I am hoping to get al least one of these projects finished and up and running this year.
6. Pay Off Half of My Car
Since student loans keep getting pushed back, I thought I would take this year to focus on paying off a good portion of our car.
7. Knit Charles a Sweater
Since Charles and I started dating back in 2014 he has always wanted me to knit him a sweater. I am going to be honest, I have just never had the patience to knit him a sweater. But this year I am really going to try because I know it would mean a lot to him.
8. Create a Will
Now that I am mom, I want to make sure my Baby Boy and my kitty are taken care of if something were to happen to me. This year I want to create a Will so my wishes are met and my family is taken care of.
9. Make Money Blogging and Turn My Blog into a Job from Home
This has been a goal of mine since I started my blog, and with raising a little one there is nothing I would love more than to work from home now. I hope this year I can find the time and self discipline to make it come true.
10. Write 500 Blog Posts
I have been blogging since April 2019, and I thoroughly enjoy it. In 2021 I published up to 315 blog posts. This year I am going to try and reach 500. Let’s see if I can do it!
This year is going to be one for the books… I can feel it! Let’s get started!
2021 was overall a good year. There were some changes, some things that remained the same, some let downs, some celebrations and a lot of growth. The biggest thing that happen was God blessing us with the opportunity to start a family, and we are over the moon thankful. ❤️
A Recap for 2021
Published Mackenzie Goes to Heaven Coloring Book
My Hubby turned 25!
My Kitty Rocky turned 1!
Changed shifts and became an opener at my job.
I celebrated 1 year at my job as a lead preschool teacher.
Started writing my second children’s book.
Paid off my car.
Bought a new car.
Got Pregnant with our Rainbow Baby. 🌈
Started Growing Avocado Trees
Celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week with my fellow teachers!
Celebrated my first Mother’s Day pregnant.
We had our dating ultrasound and got to see Baby Bear for the first time.
Told my family and close friends I was expecting.
Made our Big Announcement that our Rainbow Baby was on the way!
Made it to the 2nd trimester in my pregnancy!
We had sequential screening done and got to see Baby Bear again!
Started craving lemons and pickles. Had a feeling we were expecting a Boy.
Started feeling Baby flutters
Won the Dustpan Award for the cleanest classroom at work.
Celebrated Rocky’s 1 year adoption!
Heard Baby Bear’s heartbeat using a Doppler for the first time.
Had our anatomy scan and gender reveal. We were excited to find out we were having a Baby Boy!!! 💙
I turned 26!
Went on a Fall themed Girl’s Getaway with my friends Alli and Andrea.
Told myself it was okay to start buying baby items.
Held a virtual Baby Book Party!
Honored my babies on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
Started Decorating the Nursery.
Made it to the third trimester!
Tested Positive for Covid, and had to be quarantined for two weeks
Got diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and was bumped up to a high risk pregnancy.
Celebrated 5 years of marriage with my husband.
Packed our bags for the hospital and prepared for Baby Boy’s arrival.
Had our last ultrasound and discovered that Baby Boy has long thick hair.
Got diagnosed with thyroid problems associated with pregnancy.
39 weeks pregnant! Baby Boy is in between the size of a pumpkin and a watermelon. Something exciting happened this week. Baby officially dropped which means we are one step closer to starting labor and meeting our baby. ❤️
Mommy and Daddy and anxiously awaiting Baby Bears arrival. I am officially on maternity leave and have loads of appointments scheduled.
Today I have an appointment with my midwife where I am hoping to get a membrane sweep and schedule an induction in case he decides to be stubborn and not come out on his own.
Later in the morning, I am also scheduled for a pregnancy massage. My midwife made a recommendation that I get a massage in hopes that it will induce labor.
This past week I have also been trying to induce labor at home in different ways, including walking up and down stairs, curb stepping, eating dates, doing figure 8’s with my hips, the miles circuit and yoga.
This weeks symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, nesting, frequent urination, Braxton Hicks, irregular contractions, pelvic and back pain, and lots of baby kicks.
I’m praying baby comes before the end of the year! ❤️
Merry Christmas to all our friends and family! This is our last Christmas as a family of 3… and yes I am including Rocky in our little family. This year I was very hopeful that our Baby Bear would have a Christmas birthday but that just wasn’t meant to be. It’s okay. We know he’ll come when he is good and ready.
This year has been a little crazy, but Charles and I feel so blessed for everything God has taught us this year.
I unfortunately didn’t get to making Christmas cards this year because Christmas just kinda snuck up on me and I ran out of time.
From our family to yours, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
– The Rhames (Charles, Kaylee, Baby Bear and Rocky!
For many, the holidays can be an exciting time of year, with family and friend get togethers, gift exchanges, overwhelming generosity, and the reminder of what really matters in life. But to others, the holidays can be a harsh reminder of grief, those gone too soon, and memories that will never take place. I wrote this post back in 2019, after losing two babies. The holidays were an awful reminder for me of the little family my husband and I were trying to start, but instead we lost too soon. 2019 was overwhelmingly challenging. If you are reading this and you too are just having a year of obstacles that just keep adding up, let me first say I’m so sorry. Secondly, I’m here for you if you need to talk and lastly I hope my story and this post gives you some sort of comfort around this holiday season. ❤️
To be honest, I’m not feeling very festive this Christmas. This past year has been a tidal wave of grief that I didn’t plan for, nor did I appreciate. On top of grief I’ve had other struggles including anxiety, depression, weight gain, self doubt and distress. Some might say this past year has made me stronger, and in many ways I believe that. But in this moment, this past year has only made me hate life.
When you’ve faced trauma, something changes in you. You see things differently, and you know things can get worse because you’ve lived it. When you’ve faced repeated trauma, not only are you traumatized, but also on edge. You’re just waiting for something bad to happen, or something else to go wrong. It’s exhausting, but if you’ve already been blindsided by trauma before, it’s almost an illogical effort to worry and fret for the bad things, in hopes that you will be somewhat prepared if they happen. I have lived this way almost every day this past year, and it’s really not anyway to live.
THIS CHRISTMAS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFERENT.
I have thought about Mackenzie everyday since she’s been gone. Losing her, has changed my life forever. She made me a mom. Even more, she made me an Angel mommy. This year I envisioned caring for an infant at Christmas time. Charles and I would head over to my parents on Christmas morning. She would be spoiled by her Grandma, and cooing at the cats and her Grandpa. She would be wearing the cutest Christmas jammies, and be smiling from ear to ear. Everything was going to be perfect as I celebrated my first Christmas as a mom.
Instead this year, I am celebrating Christmas as an Angel mommy. My baby Mackenzie will not be in her Christmas jammies, and my baby Chase will not be warm in my tummy. Instead I will be here loving and missing my babies, while Mackenzie and Chase will be in Heaven celebrating at Jesus’s grand birthday party. They will be having more fun than I can even fathom. As much as I want them here with me, I know they are safe and happy right where they are.
It won’t be easy… It won’t be easy this Christmas seeing friends and their baby’s first Christmas. But no one said this life will be easy. No one said we are all meant to take the same journey. And no said this world is prefect. So through my tears and heartache, I will get through this Christmas with my family, because my babies deserve to see me have joy my first Christmas as their mom. ❤️