One Month Letter

To My Sucker Baby Vaughn Emerson,

What is a sucker baby you might ask?  A sucker baby is a baby that is so sweet she makes you want to have more.  You are just that.  I always thought, “I’ll stop at two”, and then we had you and I just can’t commit to being done.  You are such a little snuggle bug. You love to be held, prefer it really.  Luckily you will sleep not being held as long as you are swaddled.  You are so smiley.  People act like that’s not possible, but even the doctor commented at your two week check up that you just look like you have a little grin all the time.  Daddy can even get you to smile sometimes which is amazing at only a month old.  You have involuntary laughed a couple times and even given us a coo or two.  Your sister ADORES you, she has really started showing more interest in the last couple days and tries to get you to smile.  She loves to kiss you on the head and tickle your feet.  She also never wants to be put to bed unless you are in the room with us, I pray that this is the beginning of a lifelong friendship.  You like to eat just about as often as I’ll let you, today you’ve been on an every two hour kick, but you sleep so well at night that I’m trying to be okay with it.  You’ve taken a few bottles, but then today refused, hoping that we can get that worked out before I need to go back to work in the office.  You are such a delight, you rarely even fuss, except when you are in your car seat, you hate that thing which is going to make trips super pleasant.  I am so glad you came into our family one month ago, you are a perfect fit.

Love you forever,

Mama

Vaugn One Month

Two Weeks With Vaughn

Today marks 2 weeks with Vaughn.  My how time flies.  This is such a fun age and I hate how quickly it goes.  We love the nugget phase.  Spoiling feels completely allowed for the first month….or two.  Yesterday was the first day she wasn’t held for every single nap.  It made me sad, but I decided I needed to give Ellery some attention without Vaughn attached to me.  It was also nice to eat a meal with two hands.  I’ve hesitated to write this post because I know the power of the jinx that happens when you post something on the internet.  SO FAR things have been much easier than I expected.  Ellery has transitioned really well.  Only wants to hold her once a day to get a picture and then basically ignores her most of the other hours.  Occasionally she’ll come over to give her a kiss or say hello.  The other day when Vaughn was crying Ellery said,”oh honey.”  Once again revealing to me something I say without even realizing it!  So far, she has nothing but love for her little sister.  I’m well aware this will change at some point, but for now I’m enjoying it.  I will say she is acting out in other ways that seem unrelated to Vaughn, but are likely really related to Vaughn.  Last night she got out of bed for the first time ever and then it took an hour and a half to get her to go to sleep.  It was absolutely awful and nap is shaping up about the same way today.  She was also up at 6:30 (an hour earlier than usual) standing at the door asking if I could take the gate down.  It’s going to be a very interesting week by myself starting on Monday.

Vaughn is what I would consider an “easy baby.”  Again I know this can change quickly and honestly since I’m writing this I know she will be up crying all night long now.  She eats every 3-3.5 hours including through the night.  She cries maybe 10 minutes a day, unless we go somewhere and then she cries for the entire time she is in her carseat.  She likes to be held and walked to sleep and sleeps for about 2 hours after each feeding.  So basically she’s up an hour then sleeps two hours.  We have not attempted to sleep her in the bassinet yet and I know that’ll be a tough transition.  I’ve yet to meet a baby who likes to sleep flat on their back.  She’s been sleeping in the bouncy seat and I’ve been fine with that.  She sleeps all night besides eating and I’m not ready to tackle the transition yet.  Maybe next week.  She will not sleep unswaddled.  The first day or two she seemed to hate the swaddle and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do because it was our best friend with Ellery, but day 3 we tried again and now she will not sleep more than 10 minutes unswaddled.  They are a lifesaver!  This little baby is just the sweetest and such a cuddler she’s making me want like 10 more babies….each time I want another I’ll just read my birth story and tell myself I don’t really need anymore.  I completely understand why the baby of the family is spoiled.  Just thinking that this might be our last newborn has me breaking all the rules I made for myself with Ellery.  It’s kind of liberating actually.  And for your viewing pleasure, here are my sweet girls!!IMG_2853 IMG_2863 IMG_2897 IMG_2938 IMG_2943

The Ugly Truth About Vanity

First picture of L and Vaughn

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since posting the first picture of me and Vaughn to Facebook two weeks ago.  When I look at this picture, what I should see is a proud mama with her hour old baby.  I should see an accomplishment completed that I had been planning and hoping for since I had a c-section 2 years before.  I wish I looked at this picture and remembered how special I felt that Andrew at 5:00 in the morning after being up with me for so many hours thought to take this picture of me.  Pictures were the last thing I was thinking about, and it felt so sweet that he wanted to capture the moment for me.

Instead what I see in this picture….AGE SPOTS.  Yep, every time I look at this picture all I can see are the age spots that two pregnancies have left me with.  In fact every time I look in the mirror all I see is age spots.  I think a lot about how someday I would love to get this taken care of and how much money I would be willing to spend to “fix this problem.”  The ugly truth about vanity is it’s a real joy stealer.  I actually am embarrassed sometimes to go in public now without make up on and honestly I rarely find time to put it on in my daily life.  I really don’t want to be a mama who’s kids grow up and have no pictures with their mom because she always opted out of picture time.

There is this new app out that let’s you airbrush yourself into a “magazine quality photo.”  Basically it takes away all your blemishes, let’s you shave off pounds and basically completely alters your appearance so you can have the “perfect picture.”  Makes me sad that we live in a time where perfection is actually just fake.  I know I need to get myself in check before my girls are old enough to look in mirrors and make judgements about themselves based on their appearance.

I hope to someday soon look at this picture and see the proud happy mama that I was when it was taken.  Until then I’ll be liberally applying my age spot cream and hoping they eventually fade!

My Natural VBAC Birth Story

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Before you read this I want to be upfront with you.  The first thing I asked the nurse when the room cleared out and it was just me, her and Vaughn was, “If I EVER did this again would I be allowed to just schedule a c-section?”  So if you want a natural birth story/VBAC story that is filled with encouragement this MIGHT not be the story for you to read.  There are a lot of those online.  If you are looking for an honest story that details the good, the bad and the ugly about birth then read on.

Thursday was my scheduled cesarean.  You can read more about all of that HERE.  Wednesday morning I woke up really cramping and I thought my water broke.  I went to the bathroom and it wasn’t my water…I lost my plug (I know TMI.)  Now I know this doesn’t always mean something, but I was 41 weeks + 6 days and I just felt really off so I did think this might be signaling me that labor was coming.  I got up and had cramps for another hour and then the contractions started.  They were pretty consistent, about 10 minutes apart so I called my mom and dad and told them they might want to think about coming for the day instead of just coming for dinner that night in preparation for my cesarean.  They drove up and my mom drove me to my pre-op appointment.  I walked into my cesarean prep having contractions, which seemed somewhat silly, but if I showed up Thursday not dilated one bit I didn’t want to not have my surgery prep completed.

The rest of the day I contracted on and off, some I’d have to stop and breathe through, some were not very intense.  Around 4:00PM contractions started getting pretty steady and we started timing them.  I was still able to function, eat and play with Ellery, but they were around 7 minutes apart pretty consistently.  After Ellery went to bed they got pretty close together.  As in 4 to 5 minutes apart.  My mom and Andrew decided it was about time to go to the hospital so Andrew got the car all packed up and then…..they stalled.  Majorly stalled, as in went to 10 minutes apart and I went to bed.  I slept in 10 minute increments for about two hours and then the contractions got too intense to be lying in bed.  I came downstairs where my mom was sleeping and decided I’d sit with her and let Andrew sleep so he would be ready to go in the morning when “surely” I would be in full blown labor.  At this point I was in the time frame where I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink for the c-section that was scheduled at 9:30 the next morning and I was THIRSTY.  I called the midwife from my practice and she told me I needed to go to the hospital and be checked before I could eat or drink because of my scheduled c-section.  This was when I LOST IT.  Sobbing uncontrollably.  I wanted to wait to go to the hospital until the last possible minute, but I also really wanted to drink some water and I didn’t want to ruin the cesarean plan if I was going to have to have that in the morning.

On the way to the hospital contractions got to be 3 minutes apart which made me feel better about going to the hospital.  At least I didn’t feel like a total idiot like I would have if I’d shown up with contractions 5-7 minutes apart.  I got checked in and checked and the nurse told me I was 3cm, 90% effaced and Vaughn was at a 0 station.  Considering on Tuesday I had still been ZERO, this was REALLY good news.  I was in labor and allowed to VBAC instead of a c-section.  When they called my doctor she was so excited for me and decided to come in even though she didn’t have to do my c-section (it was her day off so I was surprised that she was coming anyway).

And then I was in active labor for 18 hours, yes, EIGHTEEN HOURS.  So everything I’ve talked about so far isn’t factored into that number.  All of that was just pre-labor.  They assigned me a fabulous nurse who loves natural labor and had lots of tricks to try and help with my pain management.  {For anyone who would like a natural birth, be sure to ask for a nurse who loves natural birth when you get to the hospital.  Only 10% of women birth without an epidural so they did everything to accommodate this request and I had all very supportive nurses.}  My first nurse assists the home births in town, my second nurse is the labor class teacher and my third nurse was a friend of one of our good friends so they all supported me completely and never once suggested an epidural.  In fact, in my weak moments towards the end my doctor and nurse definitely discouraged it and for that I’m super thankful.

For most of the day I was really in control.  I was breathing through contractions.  Cracking jokes in between.  Happy, and feeling really positive.  At one point my labor majorly stalled again and I got some rest.  After I had slept for a little bit (waking up with each contraction, but still resting) my labor saving nurse showed up and told me I had about 5 more minutes to rest and then we were going to get to work.  {If I didn’t have a natural birth loving doctor I would have had interventions by this point, but she believes that you should let your body dictate your birth so when my labor stalled she told me that was my body’s way of saying, it’s time to rest, and then it would pick back up again.}  Once I had rested a bit the nurse had me get on the birth ball and start doing hip circles.  My labor IMMEDIATELY picked back up.  It was crazy how effective this was.  About 20 minutes into hip circles my water broke.

And then the contractions got INTENSE.  My contractions in the hospital were rarely closer than 5 minutes apart.  My doctor was perfectly fine with this because she had a birth exactly like that and knew that it was just the normal for my body.  Some of these contractions would last for 2 full minutes which felt like eternity.  If transition is classified by being 7 centimeters then I was beginning transition at this point.  As much pain as I was in I was still doing really well and I thought surely I was getting decently close to meeting my little girl.  I knew that some people went from 7 to complete in an hour or less so I was feeling optimistic.  Then I was in the hell of transition for about 8 hours.  She kept checking me and I was 8 for several hours and then 9 for several hours.  We tried several different PAINFUL positions that I would have to lay in for 30 minutes each as I went through intense contractions.  I’d like to say I was in control during this time, but the truth is I screamed or cried through ALOT of this phase.  Some of it I actually was beautifully in control and I was breathing through contractions like a champ, but then I would get tired and lose control.  I uttered phrases like “I’m not in control,” “I’m panicking,”  “I can’t do this,” “why did I choose to do this,” “I’m SO MAD at myself that I didn’t pick the c-section,” “I was not prepared for this.”

At this point my doctor very hesitantly suggested pitocin.  She knew how we felt about pitocin, but also knew I had been in labor for a REALLY long time and I was getting so close.  She was worried that my contractions weren’t pushing down hard enough and asked if I would be willing to try a “whiff of pit.”  I had read about the use of this with a VBAC and while I really didn’t want to do it I also really wanted to push my baby out, so after thinking about it for a little bit I said, “fine, it’s worth a try.”  The contractions got a little bit harder, but never closer together like they had hoped.  When I had been on the pitocin for about an hour and was still a 9 she finally had me “grunt push.”  Not real pushes, just little grunts through each contraction as I moved around the room.  I “pushed” on all fours, squatting, up on the bed, and hanging on Andrew or my nurse.  The grunt pushing actually helped a little bit with the pain and I was able to feel a little more controlled.

At some point my body just kind of gave out and my vision of pushing not laying on my back was destroyed.  I have no idea how I ended up on my back, or at what point my doctor decided I was complete and I could start actually pushing, but I found myself lying on the bed with Andrew holding one leg and my sweet nurse holding the other and I began pushing with every ounce of energy I could muster.  I was so tired that I fell asleep between pushes.  My contractions were still 5 minutes apart so I would push 3 times and then sleep.  Then I would feel it coming on, say OK and everyone would assume their positions.  At this point my doctor had been with me for 17 hours ON HER DAY OFF so she would close her eyes between contractions too.  There were 8 people in the room  and most eyes were on my contraction monitor waiting for the next one.  I find this really silly because I didn’t have an epidural so it’s not like they had to tell me when I was needing to push.

The pushing: I can’t tell you how many people have told me they got the epidural because they were afraid of the pushing.  The pushing was seriously not painful compared to transition.  It was really hard work, but not painful.  Until the end….my doctor tries hard to save your lady parts so she made me wait to push her out and had me finish pushing her out over 3 contractions which was about 15 minutes because my contractions were far apart.  I screamed and dug my nails into Andrew as I waited for the right time.  Pushing her out was such a relief.  Once her bowling ball head came out it literally felt like an octopus flopped out of my body.  That was a really strange sensation.  My doctor laid her on my chest and I got to snuggle my sweet baby for at least a full hour before I shared her.  Within 10 minutes she was rooting to nurse and I got to nurse her for a long time while the doctor stitched me up.  I will be honest the stitching was TERRIBLE, I was not numb enough and even though I kept saying how much pain I was in she didn’t get me numb ever.

It was hands down the hardest and most painful days of my life.  It was completely not what I was expecting and I had high hopes that a natural birth would mean a shorter birth.  But I got my VBAC.  I thought that the VBAC would be extremely empowering, like I would complete this natural birth and feel like I conquered something.  I did not, I actually felt like a big whiney baby, as I was crying and screaming through contractions I kept thinking I sounded exactly like my two year old.  My doctor told me that a few days after the birth I would feel so proud of myself, I’m still not there 11 days later.  The positives I can share with you right now is that the recovery has been SO much easier this time around.  I got to hold my baby and nurse immediately which I didn’t have at all with Ellery.  As horrible of an experience as this was I did get to experience a natural birth which I always wanted and wondered if I could actually do.  Now I know I can make it through, the pain won’t kill me and the most important thing of all, I birthed a beautiful healthy baby!!

For those of you thinking: crazy woman, why didn’t you get an epidural?!?!  I’ll be honest, if I thought I could have had an epidural and still had a VBAC I likely would have had the epidural and slept through my labor.  However, I do not think that my particular body would birth a baby unless I was able to move around.  The only way we could get me to dilate was to try tons of different things.  The only other option with an epidural would be more pitocin and with a VBAC this just isn’t a super safe option.  I can tell you with 99% certainty that I would have had a cesarean if I had gotten an epidural, my body just doesn’t like to dilate!!!

If I could do it all over again would I still have chosen the VBAC? Well, yes.  Even though it was horrid, the what ifs that would have come with a scheduled cesarean would have mentally killed me.  And I don’t really know how I would have recovered from a c-section with a two year old, being able to drive has been super nice.  Will I ever sign up to do this again?  It’s too soon to say.  The newborn nugget phase has me all confused, I look at her and think I could do this 20 more times, but eventually reality will hit and I just might say no, never again.  I will say that my husband declared after the birth, “I will NEVER ever ask you to do this again.”  So at least there is absolutely no pressure!

This post has gotten insanely long.  I’m hoping to write one more post about some things that I think really helped me to succeed in having a VBAC, but since this post took me days I can’t promise I’ll write it very soon.  Hopefully this post hasn’t freaked you VBAC hopefuls out completely. I will say the nurses in the hospital referred to me as the marathon birth so it was definitely not the norm.