Friday, June 1, 2018

Katherine -- 5 Months

Dear Sweet Katherine,

Five months have surely flown by.  When I really stop and think of the fact that we are only 1 month from half a year, it really hits me how fast the time is going.  How fleeting these moments with you as a baby really are.  It makes me want to stop everything and just appreciate the now.  Which isn't really possible.  But I am trying to improve on that where I can, even though I'm rather bad at it. 

So what is the now with you, my Katherine?  Well, I'll tell you ;).

You are strong!  You can pretty much "stand" on laps while holding onto the person's hands.  You can even stand tall even when just being supported at the hips.  Your grip is powerful (just ask my scalp!) and you will grab anything within reach and shove it right into your mouth!  You're also starting to sit up on your own quite well, supported by pillows or the Boppy. 

You've found your toes, which are your favorite thing to reach for when you are sitting.  And yes, you even want to put those in your mouth!  It's always one of the cutest things.

It's not just toys and feet that you put in your mouth these days, though.  We are still nursing before bottles, and you've also started on solid foods!  You're not a super-big fan of this whole eating off a spoon thing, but you are getting better.  True, if Mommy was a little more consistent with you (as she was with your older siblings) you'd probably be a bit better at it by this point.  But you're learning, and it's all good.  So to this point, rice cereal and squash are your newest food experiences.  But you'd really prefer to stick to the bottle.  And when you're in a particularly grumpy mood, you're not hesitant to let me know about that!

You are so full of smiles (except when I try to catch them in a picture -- ha!) and you also have super cute giggles.  Your tummy is ticklish and so is your neck.  And there's nothing quite so sweet as your little feet turning inward toward each other, as though you are clapping them, and your toes grabbing each other.  It's my favorite!

You still enjoy bath time, and you really get upset when I take you out and put you on the diaper changing table to change you.  It's almost the only time you fuss on the diaper changing table.  Usually it's one of your happy places.  Outside is another one.  You love being outside looking at the world around you.  If you're tired, but fighting sleep, we take you out and walk around with you and you usually drift off without fussing.

Unlike your siblings, you have not really taken to a schedule.  I think this is more because you have older siblings who have play dates and activities and you simply learned that naps were 20 to 30 minutes long.  So you take about 4 or 5 short naps a day, though on occasion you'll sleep for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  You make up for it all though by being a good night sleeper.  You won't go to sleep before Lynnaea and Corbin do, so you're up until about 9:30.  But then it's just you and I in the glider for a bit, and I love that time.  I love the feel of your little baby body against mine as you sleep in the fetal position against me.  This won't happen much longer, really, so I am trying to really soak that all in.  And you sleep all night long (until at least 6:30).  

You're very intrigued by your reflection.  I can tell you're trying to figure out what the deal is as you look from yourself to me and then at the real me.  Your facial expression is pretty hilarious as you contemplate why there are two of "that Mommy lady."

There's so much I want to say, sweet Katherine.  But instead, I'm going to go pick you up from your swing where you are watching me and smiling and telling me it's time to get you.  I love you so very much.  You are such a beautiful blessing, and I'm grateful you are mine.

Love Always,

Mommy




Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Katherine -- 4 months

Dear Katherine,

How has 4 months passed so quickly!?!  I feel like it really has gone by fast, and that is likely because I am busier than ever.  Have I enjoyed the moments enough?  Have I taken the time to spend with you individually?  I fear often that I do not slow down often enough to just be with you.

You are such a sweet, generally mellow baby.  You tolerate being in your swing or the bumbo or in Corbin's crib staring at his mobile for long periods of time, and you are content.  In fact, with the mobile, you squeal happily!

You are a pretty decent traveler, even at this young age.  We took a weekend trip to Birmingham and you did great, both in the car and in our crazy adventures!  Plus you had no problem sleeping through the night in spite of a room shared with loud siblings and even louder adults!

Your smile is still contagious, and we all love to hear you laugh.  You have a very ticklish tummy, and give the most adorable tickles when I tickle you.  You are making lots of happy sounds these days, and it appears as though you are trying to sing along when we sing directly to you...  You love to be sung to.  You are definitely intense and observant, and you appear to listen intently to people who talk to (or around) you.  You are starting to enjoy putting things in your mouth and love chewing on my hands if you manage to get them into your mouth.

You have complete control over your head and neck, and your leg muscles are very strong.  You stand in my lap all the time (with support, of course).  You sit well in the bumbo and also hang out in the Johnny jumper thing (though you haven't quite realized its awesomeness for jumping yet ;)).

There are many moments I do want time to slow down so you won't grow up so fast.  Before I know it, you'll be starting Kindergarten, just as your sister is about to do.  I love our alone time, Katherine.  It is not frequent -- how could it be?  But we do get some snippets here and there.  Especially at night when I feed you in the glider and hold you for a few moments before laying you down to sleep.  I cherish those moments of feeling your little body on mine.  I cherish the feeling of those little hands grabbing my hair (eve though it hurts when you pull) and those happy eyes staring up at me from the changing table. 

I will enjoy the moments ahead too.  There will be days when you will make me laugh.  But I want so very much to really enjoy these moments too.  These moments where I can walk you to sleep on my shoulder for naps.  These moments where you are learning so much and growing so fast.  I love you, my precious Katherine.  Thank you for being the amazing baby you are.  You really are our perfect #3!

Love Always,

Mommy



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Where Are You Going, My Little One?

Time is such a fickle friend.  In so many ways.  The days are long in terms of just getting through.  But the years are short.  And the day -- just to spite the previous statement of them being long -- goes by quicker than I think, and I don't have enough time for all the things I need and want to do.  Such irony.  I'm sure it's just the stage of life in which I am living right now. 

I wish I had more time to record my thoughts about this.  But I don't.  This is a song title post, by the way.  If you're anything like my mom, grab a tissue.

But the gist is this:  Lynnaea starts kinder in the Fall.  And my heart is breaking just a bit already.  Especially when I really stop and think about it.  Today I started envisioning dropping her off at her first day and walking away.  Hoping she won't be too afraid.  Hoping she will find friends.  Hoping she will be a friend.  I started having emotions well up inside of me just thinking about it.

Was it really already so long ago that she was the same size and age as Katherine? 

I am trying to be the best mom I can be.  I want to be the kind of mom my sweet Lynnaea deserves.  Some days it is very, very hard.  But I love her fiercely and I know I will miss her so very much when she isn't here all day.  She's my helper, really, in these crazy days of 3 children.  Sometimes I don't fully realize just how much of a help she has been these past 3 months since Katherine has joined our family.  But every once in a while, I'm given the opportunity to see how much she has helped me -- and to realize just how much she has grown.

She currently loves all things unicorns.  So Saturday, when we went on our mommy-Lynnaea date (trying to do this once a month with both bigger kids now that Katherine has arrived), I bought her the unicorn lollipop, but she bought herself the stuffed unicorn with her own money. 

How grateful I am for my precious girl.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Katherine -- 3 Months

Dearest Katherine,

You are 3 months old today!  It's a small miracle that I'm managing to get this written today (or at the very least, started...  Who knows what will happen in the next five minutes ;)). 

Katherine, you are the perfect addition to this crazy family!  You are generally mellow and calm, tolerant and patient.  I often have to put you in your swing or your rock and play or in Corbin's crib (yes, he still sleeps in that) to look at his mobile while I get stuff done.  Because there is always something to do.  But you accept it and find things to stare at.  You're particularly fond of that mobile and will happily stare at it while "talking" to it for up to 15 minutes at a time.  You're just amazing! 

You are a champion sleeper, Katherine!  Though you still take a lot of shorter naps during the day (usually after being up for an hour to an hour and a half), you will usually go down between 9:30 and 10:30 at night and sleep until at least 6:30 the next morning.  Again, you are patient.  You wait for us to get Lynnaea and Corbin to sleep before going to sleep yourself with your last feeding of the night.  And that's a nice time for you and me, Katherine.  We go and sit in the dark room in the glider and you nurse and drink your bottle until you're asleep.  I am able to hold your sweet little sleeping body against my chest for a while before I lay you down, and I can whisper how much I love you. 

Because I do.  More than words can say.  You are my baby, just as Lynnaea and Corbin are.  Again I have learned that love grows.  There is always enough love. 

You are so strong, my precious girl.  You lift up your head really well and completely support it these days.  You'll sit in your Bumbo chair sometimes (though that's not your favorite thing yet) and look around at your world.  You can "stand" in my and Daddy's laps when we hold your hands.  Not for super-long periods of time, but for a decent amount.  Your legs are your main support.  And you love to do it and look into our faces.

You love being talked to and smiled at.  And you have a big, beautiful happy smile that crinkles your eyes into those happy smiley eyes I love so much.  And you're really starting to "talk"!!  You make some of the happiest sounds!  And even most of your fussy sounds (which aren't heard often) sound so cute I can't help but laugh.  You are generally only fussy when you get tired and are ready for a nap.  Then I put you on my shoulder, and we walk.  I'm pretty sure I've also heard the beginnings of laughter come out.  I'm so excited to hear those happy giggles!

Many people have commented to me that you look like Corbin (I totally agree) and that you're very alert and aware.  Many people commented the same on both of your siblings, so that doesn't really surprise me.  You definitely are, though.  I love watching you watch your surroundings.  True, with an older sister and brother, your surroundings are quite chaotic most of the time.  So I'm sure there's a lot to take in! 

You still love bath time.  You aren't splashing yet, but I'm sure that will come soon.  For now you just sit contentedly in your tub while I bathe you, and you watch me so intently as I talk about washing your hair and your sweet face -- and all your chubby baby fat rolls.  (Don't worry, you're a healthy baby and both Lynnaea and Corbin had those same baby fat rolls!)

You are definitely healthy!  You're about 15 pounds now and 23 1/2" long.  And at your 2-month check-up a little less than a month ago, your pediatrician said you're perfect and he wouldn't change a thing!  I agree -- you are amazingly perfect.

I love you, my precious baby. I don't even have the words to say how much.  Though my time is so divided, I'm grateful for the bits of time here and there that are just for you and me.  I'm grateful I can feel your little hands wrap around my fingers as you fall asleep at night.  Grateful I can hold you in my arms and watch you sleep your sweet sleep.  I love your cute little jiggly cheeks and your big toothless smile.  I love that, as I talk to you while you get a diaper change, you're always giving me the happiest smiles.  Sometimes I forget it, in the chaos of the every day, but I really am living the dream.  Time will pass and you will grow.  And I will forget the exact feel of your body asleep on mine and your fingers wrapped around mine.  So I am grateful for these moments I have and try so hard to cherish being in the moment to experience these wonderful joys of motherhood. 

Thank you, Katherine, for choosing me to be your mommy.  I'm so far from perfect and so far from the kind of mommy I hoped to be.  But I'm grateful every day I get to  be a mommy to you, to Lynnaea, and to Corbin. 

All my love,

Mommy



Friday, March 2, 2018

Katherine -- 2 Months

Dear Katherine,

You were born on the 31st.  Not all months have that day, so we are calling today, March 2nd, close enough ;).  You have grown so much in this past month, my sweet girl!

The most exciting news is that you have figured out sleep (at least, once you fall asleep...  But that's a detail for later.).  Once you fall asleep at night, you sleep a minimum of 5 1/2 hours, but usually it's 7 1/2.  And you've even done 8 1/2!!!  Mommy is a really big fan of this.

But, as I mentioned in that paragraph, we sometimes have a bear of a time getting you to go to sleep.  Which has been the case tonight :/...  You fight sleep like you wouldn't believe.  Much like your big sister, I have to take you in to a dark, quiet room to drink your last bottle for you to go to sleep.  And sometimes it's still a struggle.  This means you never go to bed before your older siblings, because one thing you will probably never know is a quiet house (except after they are in bed).

You are awake a lot more these days.  You love looking around and noticing your world.  I've gotten several comments on how alert you are.  Also comments about how well you hold up your head and how much you look like both Lynnaea and Corbin.  Most people say you look like Corbin, but there are some people who say Lynnaea.  Either way, you are clearly their sibling and they can't deny you!

Not that they would want to.  They love you.  Lynnaea loves to hold you and will squeal happily (and loudly) when she sees you every day.  Corbin loves you in his own way, which often includes getting right in your face and then getting in trouble for not being gentle enough.  But he also likes to hold you for about 30 seconds ;).

You love your baths and are always very calm during them.  You just stare at me while I bathe you.  Your sweet little squishy face is so adorable

And let me say this: you may be our 3rd baby, but you've given us plenty of firsts.  Including what can only be called "squirt gun poop."  Yeah, it's as fun as it sounds.  You are frequently surprising us mid-diaper change with extra poops.  And sometimes it squirts far enough to hit the edge of the diaper changing table :/.  Yuck.  We've had some massive clean-up days!

You are starting to be more content to be put in your swing or on your play mat for a bit during the day.  But overall you still want to be held.

You are precious and cute and I think you will be curious.  As #3 kiddo, you certainly don't get the immediate attention that Lynnaea got all the time.  But you do demand plenty of that attention and you certainly get it!  You are the smallest and it seems the smallest member of the family rules the roost!  We love you, sweet Katherine.  Every day we are grateful you are ours.

Love Always,

Mommy




Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Katherine -- 1 Month

Dear Precious Katherine,

In many ways, this month has flown by.  Likely because there are two older siblings to help life stay busy!  In other ways, this month has been slow.  Likely because Mommy doesn't get much sleep ;).  But I have learned that life will return to "normal" (a new normal, of course, which includes you), and as I look at Corbin and Lynnaea, I am reminded that you will grow up all too quickly.  And so I am trying to enjoy these moments.

Mommy is crazy.  And can't remember a lot from when Lynnaea and Corbin were babies.  As a result, I was trying to introduce you to the idea of a schedule after 2 weeks.  You pretty much put me in my place with your absolute refusal to be scheduled.  Ha!  So I looked back over the posts I wrote like this for your big brother and big sister and was reminded that you're still too young.  You are, however, pretty willing to go with the sleep-wake-eat-play-sleep schedule, so that's great.  It helps me know why you might be fussy at a given time.

Speaking of fussing, the truth is you're a pretty mellow baby.  You do fuss, but you're usually pretty easy to calm, and it's usually only because you are hungry or tired.  Or if you aren't being held and want to be (which is most of the time, though you are getting more tolerant of sleeping in your swing for a couple of naps each day).  And, like Corbin, you can certainly wind up with your screaming when you are upset and we don't fix it right away.  Oh how that kind of crying stresses Mommy out.  I try to keep those times to a minimum, but with an older brother and sister, there have been times where you've just had to cry while I tended to other issues.  Boo.

As there always seem to be with me, we had some struggles with breast-feeding.  But this time, they were different struggles:  you decided you didn't want to latch after realizing the bottle nipples were so much easier.  So I spent most of the month pumping to keep up my supply (and I sure dislike pumping!) and then feeding you breast-milk in the bottle.  But with some extra coaxing, this past weekend, we successfully got you to latch every feeding, and now you're a nursing pro!  Well, almost.  Sometimes it takes a few tries to latch correctly.  But we do it!  And I can pack away that breast pump.  Hooray!  I'm glad for the bonding time and closeness nursing provides.  I was actually really sad to not share that with you.  And I'm glad we have it back.  You're a trooper, my little miss.

We spend every night together in the computer room in the recliner.  We watch movies like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and 13 Going on 30 and Pride and Prejudice; and TV shows like Frasier.  And you are getting that same heat rash on your face that Corbin did as a result of sleeping skin to skin with me for hours every night.  Though you started out completely unpredictable (as newborns do), you are getting slightly more predictable:  you will usually sleep a 4 hour stretch from midnight to 4, and then another 2.5 to 3 hour stretch to about 7.  This is awesome, in my opinion.  Part of me is looking forward to full nights of uninterrupted sleep in my own bed; but there is still that part that is cherishing these nights of you sleeping on me.  They will become practically non-existent in the months and years ahead (I know from experience), so I'm trying not to rush it too much.  It's a strange feeling to be so torn about these things.

Like your big brother, you like baths.  You are a little unsure still, probably because you're so "free" without clothes on.  But you don't cry or fuss.  You just sit there while I bathe you.  You also are like both Lynnaea and Corbin in that you are a champ at holding up your head!!  And, interesting tidbit:  your umbilical cord stub took almost 3 weeks to fall off!  It was a healthy cord!

And unlike your siblings, you seem to enjoy helping us go through 2 to 3 diapers per diaper change (because you are notorious already for peeing and pooping mid-diaper change).  We go through lots of diapers this way.  You haven't had any blow-outs so far (that was Lynnaea's specialty, I guess ;)), but one thing we are learning is you have very sensitive skin.  You had a bad diaper rash/burn at 3 1/2 weeks old, and I was so sad and felt like such a failure as a result.  But we've got you healed up and use diaper cream every single time now, because I tried skipping it once you were clear-skinned again, and almost immediately you got red again (but not really bad like before). And that's with diaper changes every feeding!  So yep, you are our sensitive-skinned girl.

You are starting to smile.  You gave me one of your precious open-mouthed squinty-eyed smiles about a week ago.  And just today you've been practicing more and more with those smiles.  It's adorable.  You're awake more and more, and you're learning to tolerate (which will one day be enjoyment) your older siblings and the constant attention they want to shower on you.  They really do love you.

Well, my precious girl, I'm thankful for you.  I love you.  That's the one thing I want my babies to know the most, and I hope I tell them enough and SHOW them even more.  You are precious to me, my sweet girl.  And I'm looking so forward to watching you grow and learn, even if a part of my heart wants you to be little forever.

Love Always,

Mommy


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Katherine: A Baby Story

I decided to blog the majority of the details of the births of each of my babies.  I have found that I have left out some of the grosser details of childbirth, and that will likely hold true for this baby story as well.  Anyone who has delivered a baby vaginally probably knows all the gross stuff anyway ;).  But even without some of those yucky parts, I find documenting the births of my babies to be an important thing.  And I've returned to both Lynnaea's and Corbin's birth stories to re-read them and have found myself grateful that I chose to take the time, while the memory was still fresh, to record them.  Time is a precious commodity -- always -- but especially when there is a new baby.  But Katherine will want to read these details one day, and so I am taking the time to record the story of her arrival.

I visited the doctor on Thursday, December 28.  At that point, I was 38 weeks + 6 days pregnant.  I'd had some contractions, so opted to be checked.  What we found wasn't as promising as I'd hoped, but still progress:  50% effaced and almost 3 centimeters dilated.  Dr. Phillips informed me she was on-call all weekend, so if I did go into labor over the weekend, it was likely she'd deliver me.  If not, she'd see me in the office the following week.  I told her we were aiming for Sunday at the earliest.  Jeremy was on-call at Farley through Sunday, and having to figure out what to do for child-care and getting me to the hospital and all that if he was at work was stressful.  We figured we would be in the clear on Sunday and he wouldn't likely get called in that day.

But then he did get called in at 5:40 a.m. on Saturday.  And he was there all. day. long.  Literally.  He finally got home at 10 p.m. Saturday night.

Jeremy and I headed to bed about 11 pm on the 30th. At about 1:15 am, I woke up because I needed to pee (not surprisingly).  But then I noticed it felt like already HAD peed. (Sounds lovely, no?).  So I rolled out of bed and stood up, and felt more gushing as I did so.  Still uncertain if I was peeing or if this was what it feels like to have your water break (which had never happened to me before), I walked to the bathroom.  And still couldn't determine for sure if this was urine or amniotic fluid...  I pondered it for about 5 minutes before waking up Jeremy to tell him.  I knew we probably needed to go in and be checked, because I had read numerous times that when it comes to the water breaking, one should never try to guess whether it was urine or fluid... It's too risky for the baby and risks infection.

So I woke Jeremy and told him. I hated to do that since he has had such little sleep. But he came right awake and went right into "go mode".  I called my mom to have her come to the house to watch the kids and told her it might be nothing, but we have to go get checked. Then I got dressed and finished packing the hospital bag.  I was feeling really anxious.  This was not part of the plan!  I was expecting labor to be as it had been before. I always had clear, strong contractions before heading to the hospital. This time I wasn't having any!

My dad dropped my mom off at about 1:40, and Jeremy and I headed to the hospital. I wasn't feeling any baby movement, which added to my nerves and anxiety. We got to the medical center easily (not lots of traffic at that time of the morning!), parked, and headed to the birth center.  And found a sign at the reception desk sending us to the emergency room to register, which was completely NOT what we were told would happen when we went for our tour.  We had been told that no matter what time we came in, there would be someone to register us there on the 4th floor. 

So we got back on the elevator to try to head to emergency. But that proved harder than we thought it would be, so we went back to the 4th floor and buzzed their call thing to ask how to get to emergency. They buzzed us through and pointed out the other elevator that goes straight to the ER.  We got on that and went down to the ER. When the registration lady looked at me, I could see the confusion on her face as I said, "I think my water may have broken, and a sign on the 4th floor told us to come here."  In the end, they escorted us back up to the birthing center where we were finally taken to a triage room.

Let's just say I am glad I wasn't having massive contractions at that point, seeing as it took a while for us to get into a room and included lots of walking!  Or waddling, in my case.

So I was given a gown and told it would be an easy to test to see if my water had, in fact, broken. So I went into the bathroom to change (and pee again). And every single movement I made, I dribbled out liquid. I know that sounds gross. It was.  I told the nurse, "either my water really has broken or I have the worst incontinence problem ever.  Oh, and that bathroom floor now needs a good cleaning..."  she laughed and told me not to worry, then got ready to do the swab for the test.  But as she was about to, she got a nice big gush and said, "well, your water definitely broke. I don't need to even do the swab to see that, but I will anyway."  So there was no question about it: we would be admitted.  A baby would be born to our family in 2017 after all.

I also learned that I was having contractions, but they weren't very strong. And they found baby's heartbeat, so I could stop feeling anxious about that. And, of course, they did the pelvic exam and I learned I was dilated to a 4/5 and about 75% effaced.  Definitely not as far progressed as I would have hoped to be, but at least further than I had been at my Thursday appointment.

After what felt like a long time, I was finally moved to a delivery room.  Oh how I love the dignity of hospital gowns. Ugh.  I went pee one last time without a million cords attached to me. And leaked more on the floor :/. Then got in the hospital bed to start all the procedures.  First thing was the IV placement. I hate having an IV. They got it placed in my left hand, but couldn't get enough blood for the CBC, so they drew that from the back of my right hand.  And they started running the antibiotics, because this time, unlike both previous times, I was Group B Strep positive. Let's just say this pregnancy was full of firsts. By this time I was also actually starting to feel the contractions. But they weren't painful. 

Jeremy pulled out the couch and slept. I tried to sleep, but that didn't happen. I was too wound up.  I was expecting a quick labor, since Corbin came in 5 1/2 hours and everyone said 3rd babies come fast anyway. In fact, I later learned my OB was so certain I would go fast that she went in to the hospital at 3 when she learned I had been admitted.

Life had other plans, I guess.  I kept laboring, and eventually, the nurse came in and asked me to turn on my side, because the baby's heart rate kept dropping. This was before 7 am, because it was the night nurse who did all this. She also checked my progress again.  I was still only about 75 to 80% effaced, but had dilated to a 7/8.  I was getting excited about that, since I took that to mean all this would be over sooner than later.

So I was on my side for a while, and the contractions started picking up in intensity and were coming about 4 minutes apart. I got a new day-time nurse (the one who would ultimately be in assisting in delivery).  Eventually, I asked if I could flip off my back, because my hip was hurting and the contractions were getting more painful.  They said sure.  And once I did that, the relief was amazing.  I could actually rest a bit between contractions, and the contractions weren't that bad at all.  I was thrilled.  I was thinking this could be my easiest labor yet!  And when the charge nurse came in to start setting up the table with all the instruments the doctor would need, I took this as a very good sign.  It couldn't have been past 9 in the morning at this point.  She said the charts they were watching with the baby's heart-rate were indicating baby was slipping down into the birth canal and would be ready to be born soon.  I was so thrilled.  The charge nurse also mentioned that me laboring on my side would speed up the progress and delivery, but the contractions would be more intense.  She said if I wanted to get into a weird "pretzel" position, it would help things move along.  I opted out of that, as anything that made the pain worse wasn't high on my list of things I wanted to do.

And labor continued.  And again, the contractions started to intensify. Eventually I had Jeremy's hand to squeeze through contractions and he helped me focus on my breathing, etc.  It's funny...  When we didn't know when all this was going to go down and where he would be in terms of on-call at work and such, I was thinking, "You know, I got through this with Corbin, and Jeremy was there, but I think if he wasn't I would have been okay.  So if the worst happens and he isn't there, I'll get through it!"  In hind-sight, I know that -- at least with this labor -- there is no way that is true.  I needed Jeremy a lot this labor.  I don't know what I'd have done without him. 

Eventually the pain got so intense and the contractions so close together that both Jeremy and I were sure it had to be time to push.  So he went and asked them to come check me, because I really was starting to struggle with the pain.  My doctor came in at this point and they said they wondered if they should come in and check, but were waiting to see what I'd do.  They had offered pitocin to speed along the process, since my water had broken, but I have only heard that pitocin makes labor more intense, and I wasn't super interested in that (as mentioned above).  So I opted to see what my body would do on its own.  Because, as you can probably tell, I didn't get the epidural, so I felt every ounce of this.

So they checked me.  I had progressed to about 90% in effacement, but there had been NO progress with dilation.  Oh, and the getting checked was now excruciatingly painful.  And that news was just about as painful.  It was right around 12:15 at this point, and I was so done with this.  I was exhausted and the pain was a lot worse than I remembered.  And here's what was going on:  half of my cervix wasn't cooperating.  I didn't know this was possible.  But apparently it is.  Half of it wasn't thinned enough to be "complete," so my dilation was impacted.

And at this point, the suggestion was again made by my doctor (and seconded by the charge nurse) that I labor on my side (the side on which my cervix was not completely thinned) with my leg backwards in a stirrup.  I would labor in that position for 10 to 15 minutes.  They said it would really intensify the contractions, but would force the baby's head onto my cervix and that would open up my cervix.  Then they'd flip me to the other side for about 10 minutes to shift the baby's head over again, and then they'd check me to see if I was ready.  I agreed to this. 

Let me just say I cannot even describe the pain this was.  I actually cried and just kept saying, "I don't know what to do, the pain won't stop!"  The charge nurse was placing a cold damp rag all over my back and neck as Jeremy blew on my face and held my hand and let me squeeze so hard I was grinding his wedding ring into bone.  I have never experienced anything else this painful.  Ever.  And then they flipped me to the other side.  The flipping and moving was also painful.  I was told I could push gently against the contraction to alleviate pressure, but not to push too hard.  I kept asking how long it had been, because this felt interminable.  It hurt SO badly. 

Finally the doctor came back in and they had me roll to my back to check me.  Which, by the way, I couldn't even do by myself.  I was in so much pain, they pretty much had to move me.  And if I thought the previous check was painful, it was nothing compared to this one.  I tensed up immediately and was like, "Oh my goodness that hurts so bad!" 

I don't think a single swear word came out of mouth, but I definitely had the thought that one might.  I also had thoughts (during this whole side-labor process) that I wondered if it was too late for an epidural and I also considered telling them I'd rather opt for a c-section now and just have them cut the kid out.  Which, in my rational mind, I wouldn't choose to have surgery for no reason.  But I was not rational. 

So they checked me and at least brought the blessed news that I was "complete" and ready to push.

Did I mention it was excruciatingly painful to be checked?  Yeesh.  I was in pretty much constant pain, and as soon as I was on my back and they had checked me and announced my being ready to push, I felt a huge contraction and the desire to push. Unfortunately nobody was ready for me to do that yet. I think they were getting my legs in the stirrups and the doctor was gowning up.  I kept saying, "what am I supposed to do!?!"  

And finally the stars aligned and it was time to push. I hate pushing. I never push correctly at first, so it's just wasted efforts. And I was exhausted enough after 12 hours of labor.  With every contraction I pushed 3 times.  I remember them saying, "just one more!" And me saying, "I am trying!"  I had a lot of help from the two nurses assisting to pull my legs up.  

There is so much going on on those moments. I could feel EVERYTHING.  Contractions. Pushing. My doctor putting pressure on the spot "down there" where she wanted me to focus my pushing.  I felt them throw something on my torso as they said I was almost there.  And then, with my next contraction, I pushed four times, and felt that relief as she was pulled out of me and placed on my chest.  

In that moment, everything felt surreal.  I remember thinking that: how surreal it was.  I had just survived the worst pain of my life and I opened my eyes to a baby on me.  And she was mine. Crazy.

Katherine came out covered in the yucky stuff my doctor likes to call cottage cheese.  She finally gave a good loud scream after 30 seconds or so.  I could still feel her connected to me via umbilical cord until they had Jeremy cut the cord. And after that I could still feel the cord as my doctor held it, waiting for my placenta to be delivered.  Which took about 10 minutes, and a nurse had to massage my abdomen to help it along, and that was painful.  I remember feeling the contractions build again, and I just dreaded it, even though I knew it would not be hard.  I had to push a little, and I felt the placenta fall out of me too (kinds of a gross feeling).  Then, because I had a very small tear (which required 1 stitch), I had to wait to be stitched up.  Funny how, after all of that, you don't even know you have a bleeding wound.  She had some sort of numbing medication that she injected and said it would feel like fire.  I felt nothing of the sort.  I did, however, feel the pinch when she used the needle to sew me up and also the sensation of the string (or whatever they use) being pulled through my skin.  It didn't hurt, just was weird to feel the tugging and such. 

By this point, they'd gotten the baby wrapped up and cleaned off a bit.  Weighed and measured (8 pounds 15 ounces and 20 inches long!) and done her first shot (which I can't remember what it was).  Oh, I should mention she and I did skin-to-skin for a while while they were taking care of me.  I didn't do it with my other two babies (not sure why?  I think because I wasn't asked, but they asked here).  Actually, with Lynnaea, because she came out floppy and pale and didn't respond like they wanted her to, they whisked her to the nursery for a few hours.  With Corbin, I'm not sure why.  Anyway, she really was so sweet snuggled against me.  She was very content and happy.  So she was pretty unhappy when they took her to weigh her and all that jazz.  Which you can probably tell from her picture on the scale.  LOL. 

While they were cleaning Katherine up, the doctor asked me if I wanted to see my placenta.  I figured why not.  Well, that was a massive placenta!  Really thick.  The doctor said that well-fed babies have big placentas.  And my babies are nothing if not well-fed.  Their momma likes food!  Apparently a few weeks before I was due, one of Jeremy's co-workers asked if I was interested in keeping my placenta, because his wife does some sort of thing where she dries it and grinds it up and encapsulates it for the mom to ingest.  Okay, I know there are animals that eat their placentas.  And I know other women who actually do this.  But gag me.  I am not one of them.  They say you get so much energy from that.  Well, energy sounds lovely, but I'm sorry...  I could never mentally get past my knowledge of what I was ingesting.  So instead, I just let my placenta go to be used for burn victims.  I'm okay with that.

For the first time in all my deliveries, I got to stay in the same room I delivered in.  Both times I delivered in Washington, I delivered at their busiest time of year, so they needed the delivery rooms for new patients and I would be moved to a post-partum room.  If it hadn't been a busy time, I would have stayed in my original room.  Same thing here, I guess, but either they have more rooms here or there were just fewer deliveries, because I was able to stay where I started for almost 48 hours.  Although I will say I much prefer getting to leave after 24, which they do in WA, but here they keep you for 48 (but you can ask to leave a little early... so we did).  Hospital stays are hard, because it's not the "normal" and there's no way to get started on figuring out normal until you get home.  So it just feels like limbo to me, and there are so many rules, making it much harder to get sleep.  Plus all the interruptions of the staff taking vitals, etc. 

Jeremy stayed with me both nights (I learned my lesson about that after having Corbin and staying with him alone so Jeremy could be with Lynnaea!).  This time, my mom came over and took care of the kids until we got home.  I love my mom.  Immensely.  Jeremy would come home and bring the kids up to visit and he spent all of New Years Day at the house with the kids so my mom could go home and get stuff done.  But at night my mom was here with the kids, and I had Jeremy to help me at the hospital. 

It took us a day to come up with her name.  Jeremy and I never agree on names, and I had picked one that I really wanted, but he really wasn't on board with it.  And by the time he told me that, it was almost time to deliver and I couldn't come up with another name.  As we discussed it in the hospital, Jeremy said he had looked at her and thought she looked like British royalty, so he had started thinking about British royal names.  Ironically one of those names he'd thought of was a name someone I love (my cousin) had jokingly suggested to me as an awesome name, because it's hers.  Haha.  I told Jeremy that, and he said, "You know, that was actually on my list!"  So we decided she would be Katherine.  And finally, after the second night, we came up with Emmeline.  Which is a name I loved and had considered for Corbin, had he been a girl; but I had forgotten about it!  And we continued the pattern that my mother-in-law noticed in our first two kids:  the last letter of their first name is the first letter of their middle name.  She thought maybe we'd done that on purpose.  And I hadn't even realized it was like that until she pointed it out to me!

We were discharged on Tuesday, January 2nd at about 11:00 in the morning.  And since then, we've had ups and downs.  I always get the baby blues, so I have battled that (mostly in the first week, and since it's taken me a whole week to finish writing this, I'm already feeling better).  We have had new breast-feeding problems this time around, which has been a disappointment.  Mainly because I am producing more at this point than I ever have, but Katherine prefers not to latch, because of nipple confusion, I think.  We introduced the bottle quickly, because I have always been bad at helping brand new babies to latch, and then I get blistered and have to stop to heal.  And I think that all happened too fast this time, so Katherine learned that it's much easier to drink from a bottle and now prefers that.  She will latch occasionally and nurse, and I still maintain hope that she will start doing that regularly.  We will still have to supplement with formula.  It's just the way it is with my body.  But for now, in order to get her as much of my milk as possible -- and to encourage my body to continue producing -- I am having to pump, which I loathe.  But, because I want it for her, I will continue to do it. 

So that's Katherine's story.  I may have missed a few details.  Like I said, 1.5 weeks later and some things get forgotten.  Her labor and delivery did not go at all as planned.  But she arrived safely, and I made it through naturally, and we are well on our way to figuring out life with 3 children.  And that's what matters most.
 I look rough!  But I seriously was retaining so much water and was so swollen.  Thankfully, at this point (as I type this), my feet and ankles are back to normal!  I'm already down 22 pounds!  Hurrah!
 Not happy to be taken from mommy...
 Ready to go home!!!

Lynnaea and Corbin were excited to have Katherine home!
 Our first family of 5 picture :).  We'll have to re-do this once we aren't quite so rough looking ;).