Miss Gemma: A Birth Story

Well, our little miss Gemma is now about 2.5 weeks old and life is more tired, magical, and meaningful than I could have ever anticipated. Our little girl coming into our family is such a wonderful blessing.

It was Thursday, Dec. 3rd around 7 pm at Walmart, when I started to think Gemma might be coming soon. Her due date was Dec. 12th and so when I started feeling a contraction in my back, I got excited, but not too excited. I didn’t think I would actually have her early, but the back contractions felt different.

I told Sam that these contractions were different and that things might be progressing. He had me time them. The contractions kept up for about 30 minutes, but were completely irregular, even though they were stronger than any contraction I had experienced this pregnancy. It wasn’t the real deal.

We got home, put Parker to bed, and had just got settled into bed ourselves, when my first definite contraction hit. It was 11:20pm. It was really strong and I remember feeling and thinking… wow. If this isn’t real, then, that was the biggest Braxton Hicks contraction of my life. In my gut, I knew it was real. But knowing that I had false contractions at Walmart, made me hesitant to say this was the real deal.

5 minutes later. Boom. another strong one, lasting about 1 minute. Then the next contraction happened about 3 minutes after, then 2 minutes. By this point, I was trying to orient myself and start to get ready to go to the hospital. We had already texted Sam’s parents to get them to come stay with Parker.

The next half hour was comical and painful all rolled into one. I was pacing back and forth, trying to get ready for the hospital, while Sam was calling family to get things arranged. He ended up getting me ready too, because I couldn’t think straight at ALL. Good thing I had already packed my hospital bag. My contractions were getting steadily stronger though and coming every 2 minutes. We ended up having a friend in our neighborhood run over to stay with Parker, because we couldn’t wait for family any longer. I felt a big urgency to get to the hospital.

We got to the hospital around 12:05 on Dec. 4th. They got me checked into a room and started asking me this long list of questions about my medical history, the medications I take, etc… all while I’m having contractions every 2 minutes. Finally I stopped the nurse and was like, “I’m having strong contractions every 2 minutes or so, can we speed things up?”

Then she checked me. She checked me, extremely fast {I often feel like she checked me too quickly}, while I was having a contraction. Then said “you’re a 4.”

That was the most disappointing news and so critical in what happened during labor.

Before going into labor, I had decided I wanted to try going naturally. With Parker I had gotten to the hospital at a 5, and so hearing that I was a 4, while having very strong contractions was super discouraging. I was already tired and I just didn’t know if I had it in me to go naturally.

15 ish minutes later, Enter my Midwife. I told her I was having really strong contractions, but that I was really discouraged. I asked her to check me again. She said, “they just checked you. I don’t think you’ve changed much in the last 10 minutes.” Logically, I agreed with her. How could I have changed so much? In my gut, I felt differently though.

When she said she wasn’t going to check me, I decided I would get an epidural. The pain was just so much, and I had been told I was at a 4. I thought I would die, if I went all the way.

So they officially admitted me, got me in a labor & delivery room, hooked me up to everything, and ordered the epidural. Throughout all of this, I’m having painful contractions, but I’m trying to shrug it off. I’m only a 4! I can pull myself together and do this, Marla! Then they start to give me the epidural. I distinctly remember them starting to put the needle in as I started having a contraction. I told them, “I’m having a contraction!” They said, “Try to sit still!” And so I tried. But at that point, I was shaking and trying my absolute hardest to stay still. It was one of the hardest things I have done by myself to sit so still and be in so much pain.

I laid down after the epidural and started to feel it work, but at the same time, I still felt the contractions. After trying to turn me to make the epidural spread, and still feeling the contractions, my doctor said she would check me.

She checked me and then got a surprised, but business-like look on her face. She told the nurse “I feel a bulgy bag and a lip.” Then she looked at me and said “We’re gonna have a birthday party!” I was so tired at this point, that this completely confused me. I said “What?” Then she repeated what she had just said. I still didn’t understand, so I said “What am I dilated to?”

You’re a 9 1/2. 

A 9 1/2??? I had just had my epidural minutes ago. I had just convinced myself that I was at a 4, and that I had a couple hours to sleep while I slowly dilated.

Not so. She immediately called everyone in and got the room ready.

13 minutes later. Gemma was in my arms.

Gemma Jean Gale

1:58am. 8 lbs 2oz. 19.5 in long. 
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What a whirlwind. I remember that was the phrase of the night between Sam and I. It had been about 2 1/2 hours since my first contraction and now we were holding our new baby girl. I could hardly wrap my mind around it. With Parker I had hours of time to think about him coming and preparing myself that he would be there. With her, we were given quite the surprise.

I remember the relief I felt wash over me when my midwife told me I was at a 9 1/2. Everything all of a sudden made sense. The intense pain I had been feeling was actually intense pain! I wasn’t at a 4, I was practically complete. I didn’t feel so silly, like I had before. I felt like the nurses thought I was silly. There I was breathing heavily, shaking, and having such a hard time, when everyone thought I was at a 4. To hear that I was going through transition while they were trying to give me an epidural and sit still, made me feel so much better. I was hurting like crazy… and for good reason! It all made so much more sense and I felt stronger, knowing I had done more than I realized.

During the whole process, I was so grateful for Sam. While I felt like everyone else thought I was a wimp, I could see in Sam’s eyes, that he new I was more progressed than I was. He told me early on that he thought if I was progressing quickly that the contractions could be really intense. He made me feel like I was strong, even when I felt weak. He was there for me the entire time, helping with pressure points. During the labor, I felt more than ever that we were a team. He was helping me get through the pain. We were connected and I felt his support so strong. He was the only one I wanted by my side and I felt stronger whenever he was right next to me.

Now, 2 weeks later, we are still so thrilled. She is growing well and we are adjusting and trying to get some sleep. It is special to be with an infant that is so new and so pure. And it was amazing to experience, again, the moment of welcoming a new child into the world.

We love you, Gemma, and are so grateful you are in our family.

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Our First Bumpdate- 28 weeks

Well, I’ve always said “better late than never”, and I think this scenario really takes the cake. I’ve never done a bumpdate questionnaire for either Parker or our little girl, and here we are 3rd trimester through this second pregnancy and I just up and decided, why not? So, here ya go.

Funny, I always like reading the bumpdates of other’s I know, but for some reason thought if I did one for myself, people would be so bored they’d scroll through or pick their nose. Why?? I don’t know. Well, today I’m just ignoring my fear of boring people and am going out on a limb that maybe one of you, besides myself will enjoy this. So let the questions begin…

How far along? 28 weeks- 3rd trimester, baby!
Baby is: 2.25 lbs & 14.8 in. (approx)
Total weight gain/loss? +15 lbs. {sidenote: I’m actually really proud of myself for this… my 1st pregnancy I was weighing myself all the time. I was so caught up on being a certain size that I was monitoring myself all the time. This pregnancy, I’ve loosened up & it has been so much better!!! I just weighed myself this morning, but I hadn’t in a couple weeks. Anyway, hooray for focusing more on how I feel and less on stressing about weight gain. This is progress for a girl like me who has obsessed too much about being skinny, for too much of my life.} and now I move on….
Maternity clothes? Yes. Oh, and my husband’s t-shirts.Gah! Why is it so hard for me to buy t-shirts that fit me? Or just maternity clothes in general??

I haven't even been taking pictures of myself, so I snapped these, but sorry I'm wearing lazy, around the house clothes. Real life.

I haven’t even been taking pictures of myself, so I snapped these, but sorry I’m wearing lazy, around the house clothes. Real life.

Stretch marks? Not any new ones that I’ve noticed. But, I have noticed that as I get bigger, the ones from Parker’s pregnancy are deepening in color once again. But just like weight gain, I’ve been paying a lot less attention this time around, so I’m not quite sure.
Sleep? Sleep is good. I fall asleep when I turn off the light and then wake up, what feels like a second later. {Can I say weird dreams though, anyone???!} Pregnancy always makes my dreams crazy.
Best moment this week? Well this is the hardest question! I have no idea, I feel like it is all the sweet things Parker is saying to me and how much love is in his heart. He’s constantly telling us how much he loves things and how cute people are. I cannot begin to explain how blessed we feel to have him as our little boy.
Miss Anything? My pre-pregnancy clothes. I miss being able to get dressed more easily. Now I feel like I try something on and it looks weird, I try something else on–it looks weird too. And then 10 minutes later I’m settling on something that looks the least weird. {Clothing is the bane of my existence right now.}
Movement? A ton. She is one wiggly girl who seems like she can never get comfortable.
Food cravings? Not really strong ones.
Anything making you queasy or sick? Not really.
Have you started to show yet? Yes.
Gender? IT’S A GIRL!
Labor Signs? Umm not real labor, but Braxton Hicks contractions have been almost getting out of control. Two days ago, I got about 20 sets of them in the space of just 2 hours. But, oh well, apparently that can happen, and apparently drinking more water can help them not be so strong.
Belly Button in or out? Half out, but almost completely out.  It depends on if I’m breathing in or out.
Wedding rings on or off? On. It’s actually really lose right now, probably because the colder weather.
Happy or Moody most of the time? Happy!!! 🙂

Well, there it you have it. I’m feeling just really blessed right now to have some time to get ready for this little girl. I’m starting to realize that although this is my second, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m prepared. I just realized last week that we have no changing table for her or a place to put her clothes (even though her clothing is practically non-existent). Anyway, it’s just interesting how there is still much to do. I’m feeling less apprehension for labor and for her arrival, but I’m busying myself with getting ready and dreaming of life with our little girl.

What I hope I will do different for Baby #2

Even before we got pregnant with this second baby, I wondered how I would do it all over again; the sleepless nights, the teething, the sleep training, the nursing. I struggled a lot with postpartum depression with my first and so that was on my mind a ton, too. How would I prepare my family, what would I do differently, how could I prevent the onslaught of crazy emotions, and most of all–how could I make this next experience better.

Not that having Parker was bad, but it definitely was hard. A lot harder than I expected. The emotions and depression threw me and my husband for a loop. Not only was it hard to see myself in that condition, but I think it was harder for my husband to see me like that–to try to help, but not quite know what to do.

So what will I change, what will I do differently this time around? Really–what has my first baby taught me:

What I hope I will do different

1. Fill that Prescription. Like yesterday. I noticed with Parker that I was struggling. I was anxious a lot, I was frustrated a lot, and then I started having feelings of “I just want to run away” or “my family would be better off without me” or “can’t I just get out of here?!” I also started having feelings of wanting to hurt myself and my baby, which in my right mind, would not be there. Basically, I should have jumped in my car first thing and went to my doctor. DON’T wait for that 6 week appointment. That’s just 6 week’s of downright crazy. Don’t wait until you have all the signs and symptoms that every website lists. Just know if you are feeling worse and then talk to your doctor. You don’t have to be on the prescription forever, I definitely wasn’t, but it will sure help in the beginning while you’re getting used to almost no sleep, taking care of another human, and trying to wrap your mind around all the crying. Again, this is for me. It may not work for everyone, but this is for me.

2. “This will not last forever.”– Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is that these stages really do not last forever. I remember crying to my mom that I was worried I would hate motherhood, because my 3 week old was just not leaving me feeling fulfilled or happy. {Not completely surprising}.

977824_10200800162741418_611722807_oThe stages of waking up every 3 hours at night or sitting in the mothers room for almost the entire church block, or being up with a teething baby DO END. They are so short. I almost have forgotten about them already, which is crazy, because they seemed never-ending at the time. But really, they pass. Soon you are getting a full night’s rest, you are sitting in church with your hands empty listening to a lesson while he’s playing in nursery, and then during the day your baby is playing with toys in the other room entertaining themselves. And then… to top it off they hug and kiss you and tell you gushy things like “I love luuu, mom!” It’s wonderful. So believe that things will change for the better, and that most likely you’ll love motherhood. There’s a reason why lots of people have multiple babies!

3. Get a routine, but let it slide- sometimes. I love routines. I thrive on them and so does Parker. He likes to know what he can expect and so do I. I like that he naturally settles down for nap when I tell him I’m grabbing a vitamin and milk… because he knows he gets to read stories and then rest. I like that I can depend on when to get things done and when to meet people for something due to being predictable. And I like having time to myself and with my husband. It just works for me.

923247_10151641119126763_1750822069_nBut, I’ve also experienced a whole lot of stress and anger (embarrassed about that) when my routine is thrown off. I’ll sit there frustrated that he isn’t in bed, even if we are doing something fun. I’ll worry that the routine will never be the same…. yaddy, yaddy, yada. But, really, it will work out. He’ll make up for it some other day that week, or he’ll take a longer nap at some point, or… he’ll teeth the next night and be up all night and then we’ll be zonked the next day. Whatev. It’s just life. So when you get handed a fun opportunity and it’s not going to be an everyday thing. Do it. Break the routine. Make a memory. And just.have.fun.

4.Thank my husband MORE and have less pity parties. Man, even though he didn’t birth the baby or carry the baby, he sure did do a lot. For me, it was easy to get into this mind set that everything was about me during pregnancy and after birth. I wined a bit, lets be honest. Granted my hormones were wacky and I was healing like no body’s business, BUT, he was doing so much too. I wasn’t the only one sleep deprived, I wasn’t the only one trying to make sense of everything that had changed.

268806_10151641119191763_2021570266_nI wish I would have realized that having a baby is a family matter, even more than I did, and that my physical scars would heal quickly.  I wish I would have thought more about my husband, instead of feeling bad for myself. From working to PAY for the babe, to being there when I went crazy. From calling my mom FOR ME at 1 in the morning, because he knew I needed to talk to someone, to loving me and telling me I was enough, over and over and over. He really was a champ. I wish I would have pulled myself out of my pity parties more and bonded more with him.

Overall, I’m just excited for another baby. I’m so grateful for what my 1st has taught me, and I can only imagine this one will teach me a whole lot more in so many different ways.  I’m excited to try the whole process again, hopefully with a little less stress than before. It’s amazing how experience can change us and teach us. Although, here’s to trying it out with having a 2 1/2 year old. We’ll see how that goes… and hopefully take it in stride.

What have you learned from your kids?… How’s that for a loaded question? 🙂

Healthy & Fit Pregnancy- Group info inside!

Well, the second trimester is lovely. I’m 16 weeks along and I feel like I’m mostly back to the old me, aside from the occasional headaches, stretching pains, and back aches. But, I’ll take it and I’m happy!

With this new found energy, as well as lack of nauseousness, I find myself eating allll the time and wanting to cook things. I felt like my body was just yearning from the inside out.. “feeeeed meeeee!!!” So, that is just what I did. I think I am back up to my pre-pregnancy weight, which is good. Now, the trick is for me to get out of that mindset of stuffing my face with food. I’m trying to re-train my brain that I don’t need to eat a lot of whatever sounds good. It may have worked when only one or two things sounded good during a day, but now that 50 things sound good… no bueno. It’s back to balance and remembering that I need to stop when I feel full, and to choose good foods to eat.

It’s tough though. It is hard to re-train a brain and harder to actually act on it.

But that is my goal.

My goal is an active pregnancy. My goal is to eat well and be active, in hopes that life will never be like the swinging of a pendulum, going back and forth from a “I don’t care about my health, I just want to eat what I want to eat” attitude to “I’m counting my calories, exercising all the time” mentality. Nor do I want to sign off on healthy eating and exercise simply because life is just hard right now. Life never stops being hard, and in fact when I eat worse, life gets exponentially harder. I feel guilty, I feel gross, I lose confidence, and I just feel lethargic. It’s not worth it.

SO… after all that. I guess what I’m implying is that I’m going to strive to be active and healthy this pregnancy. I’m not going to overdue it, because that isn’t balanced, but I am going to try to exercise–do at least some form of exercise each day. Something.

I want to give myself a variety and do aerobic activities and strength training. And in general, I’m going to try to watch my portions and try to opt for more whole, nutrient dense, foods. Of course I’ll give into cravings, that is life, and I don’t pretend to be able to not eat sweets. I love sweets and they will always be a part of my life. Guaranteed. But, I’m going to try not to eat them alll the time as the main course or side dish to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

So, my question is: do you know anyone who is pregnant and feels like-minded? Or do you know someone who is hoping to be pregnant soon and preparing their body for the transition? If so, please send them to THIS Facebook group. It’s totally free and just for encouragement, ideas, and sharing our life.

Pregnancy Facebook Group Cover FinalI want to be accountable for myself and I often find I do SO much better when I see others around me striving to do the same. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’d love to motivate others around me too. Because why have to work so hard postpartum to “get our bodies back”, when we could have a better pregnancy, labor, and postpartum if we focused on health during the journey of pregnancy? Anyway, now I’m rambling. Here’s to a healthy life!