Thursday, April 16, 2015

40 Weeks and 4 Days Late

Miss Ella Forever with Momma!
Nowhere in my blog have I mentioned the presence of baby #5.  There are a couple very good reasons for this.  1. The last time I had a few hours to myself to sit down and spill my heart onto this screen in the form of letters and words was about a year and a half ago. It was a couple of weeks after that post that we learned that there was to be a #5.  Surprise! 2. Well...she's #5.  That's an explanation in and of itself.  She doesn't have a baby book (yet), she's the most patient baby on the planet because she already has a very good understanding of the concept "waiting in line" and she won't have a birth blog post until today...40 weeks and 4 days after her birth.  This is in no way random.  Today marks the day that she will have been out of my body for exactly (well...approximately; I won't go into the "science" of gestation prediction) as long as she was in.  We'll just tell her that I meant to play it this way. ;)

This story starts 41 weeks and 1 day due date.  July 2nd, 2014.  It was hot, I was tired and VERY pregnant and at that point had been through a couple weeks of contractions that came and went without producing a baby.  I had an appointment that day with my 2 favorite midwives, Deidre and Cynthia.  It was uneventful.  Deidre was going to be making a day trip for the 4th and would be a few hours out of town, so we went over the "what ifs" and backup plans should we need them.  Though I was feeling very ready, I was prepared to go past my due date because that just seems to be how I roll (most literally).  I was really feeling pretty decent for being so pregnant and really wanted that little ball of baby to decide when the right time was to come on her own.  We discussed my next appointment, the following Tuesday, and that Deidre would strip my membranes at that time if I didn't get anywhere on my own by that point.

Fast forward a couple of days and it was the 4th of July.  Would my little firecracker make her appearance that day?  Well, to complicate things, I woke up very early that morning with intense contractions.  They were pretty steadily 10 minutes apart, but were decently uncomfortable.  Deidre called me first thing that morning before she headed on her merry way to see if anything was going on.  I told her what was up, gave her the go-ahead to head out of town and we, again, went over back up plans.  Because of my rotund state, our 4th of July plans included a small gathering at our place, mostly with people that were planning on being there for the birth, anyway. I spent my day leisurely cleaning and prepping for our guests and potential arrival for baby girl and every so often paused to breathe through a contraction.  Family arrived that evening and we had dinner.  J grilled and every one else brought the sides, so I did approximately nothing, which was more than fair, given my state. We ate and joked and I winced here and there as a reminder that things were still going on in there, but contractions were still no closer together, just strong.  The boys (big and small) put on a pretty great fireworks show out on the dirt road in front of the house, most of which I watched through windows snuggling with a soon to be 2 year old Squeaky D and soon to be 3 year old Jilly Bean who were just a touch spooked by the artificial thunder.  We put the kids to bed, I responded to a couple of texts from Deidre that I was no closer to the end than when she had left that morning and we went to bed.

The next morning, Saturday, the 5th, brought more of the same.  Still strong contractions, but way spread out.  So, I grabbed Griffin and Stella, our trusty canines and took off for a long morning walk to see if I could get them to come together.  about a minute into the walk I got a REAL contraction and kept on.  They started coming and fast, but I didn't have a watch to time them...this was it!  I was going to make this happen! Once I rounded the corner at the 1/2 mile mark, however, they had pretty much stopped completely.  I kept on, willing them to come back, but no luck.  I texted J at a mile, before I turned back for home, that I was pretty sure that I would be pregnant forever and I begrudgingly headed home, having chased those hopeful contractions away.  For the rest of that day I went about my business and had a contraction here and there, but nothing that made me feel like I was anywhere close to delivering a baby.

That night was a rough night.  I woke up multiple times to strong contractions, but it was the same story.  They were just close enough to keep me from getting any rest, but just wouldn't come together.  I sluggishly got moving that morning...41 weeks and 4 days.  Why I am I still in this position?  J and I wrangled the kids into their dress clothes and headed to church.  I wrestled Declan through Mass and took note of each and every contraction that pulsed through.  I answered every well-meaning question from my fellow church-goers..."where is that baby?"...with an internal eye roll and a "nothing yet...any moment now would be great!"

Shortly after we got home I got a text from Deidre saying, "Well?? LOL" I relayed that nothing had changed.  I was still having contractions, but they just wouldn't come together and I was still hanging out in the no-man's land of possibly the longest early labor ever (I might have a knack for exaggeration). She suggested a few things...I will spare you the gory details, but she was convinced it wouldn't be long if I could jump-start things.  I followed her orders and waited.  Just before 5:30 that evening I texted her that I thought I might be progressing.  I'd had contractions at a consistent 10 minute interval for a couple of hours at that point.

We fixed and ate dinner, got the kids all bathed and in pajamas and J started a movie for them.  I told J that I thought I should go for a walk to try to keep contractions coming.  He, being the one who worries for both of us because I'm missing that gene (thanks, Mom), protested, so I told him I would just take laps around the house, so I would never be more than feet away from one door or another.  And laps I first the dogs excitedly accompanied me with a bounce in their steps, bounding around every corner.  After the 20th or so lap, their bounce slowed to a trailing plod, but they always faithfully followed.  My contractions didn't really seem to be increasing with all of the walking, so I finally threw the towel in and headed inside.  I paused on the floor of the TV room and watched my other 4 babies enthralled with their movie, mouths gaping before I told J that I was going to take a shower and nothing had changed.  Famous last words!

It was about 7:30 pm when I trudged up the stairs only to get to the top and find myself doubled over (as much as my pregnant belly would allow me to double over, anyway) from the most intense contraction I had felt yet.  I waited for it to subside and felt renewed with hope that this was the beginning of the end.  I undressed, and had a couple more intense contractions.  J walked in at that point and I relayed to him that there was a sudden increase in intensity and frequency and I gave him a thumbs up.  I detected a small wince from him and that familiar look of questioning my laboring sanity (my decisions during labor are sometimes questionable).  I knew he was concerned he would be delivering this baby on our kitchen floor alone and I promised him that I would take a quick shower and call Deidre immediately if they were still going strong after. They most definitely were, but Deidre must have felt it because there was a text from her waiting for me when I got to the phone just before 8 pm.  Knowing how quickly I progress when it finally comes together, I told her she should probably think about heading this way.  She said she would have to wait for Cynthia to get to her place if I thought I was OK with that and then start on the 45 minute journey here.  I thought that should be fine.

Just breathing...
During all of the back and forth, J had gotten all of the kids to bed and jumped in the shower himself and I plopped myself on the couch, determined not to move at all until assistance was there.  I was suddenly worried that I had once again pushed it too far and misread how far along I was.  Would they get here in time?  Contractions were at a very short 2-3 minutes apart and they were monstrous.  Somewhere in there I had called in my personal reinforcements and my momma (Gigi), stepdad (Papa), aunt (Nana), sister (Adrienne) and nephew (Liam) arrived just before 9 pm.  We laughed and excitedly gabbed between contractions and then the room would fall silent as my face scrunched up with pain and I would sway with J, while he held me up in the TV room.  Deidre, Cynthia and crew showed up right around 9:15 and immediately went to work up in our bedroom where we had planned for the birth to happen.  J was in and out helping them to get things unloaded and set up and I found myself handling a very intense contraction alone.  I rested my knees on the couch and leaned over the back, swaying and then POP!  I was instantly soaked and let out a squeal and an explanation that my water had just broken.  I waddled across the TV room to get to the kitchen and off of carpet, while Cynthia and J came to the rescue with Towels.  Moments later I heard Deidre yelling down the stairs to "get her up here now...she goes fast when that water breaks!"  J and Cynthia helped me up the stairs as I vaguely recall hearing everyone bustling around to grab cameras and start moving up the stairs as well.

My knight in shining armor
Once there, in the coziness of our own room, contractions were awful, as they always are without the protection of that bubble steel on steel. J was always there to talk me through it and Deidre was her usual cool, calm voice of reassurance.  She offered to check and see how far along I was, so I sat in the birth chair they had set up and she announced that I was 7 cm and thin.  I remember feeling such disappointment and a moment of despair thinking I would never make it another 3 cm.  And then that little voice of experience showed up in my head, reminding me that just when I think I can't do it anymore is when it's almost over.  I stayed seated and Deidre coached me through a few small pushes to progress my dilation.  Though very distracted, I do remember X-Man and Gokey arriving with Gigi and Nana...they desperately wanted to be there for the arrival of their new baby sister, so they had awakened them for the event.  We had been through many, many conversations about how it would all go down, but they arrived right when I was in the most pain and I think that was a little much for them.  They decided to wait with Papa downstairs for a bit.  J had been coaching me from my side, but Cynthia asked him if he was "ready" and he was suddenly there in front of me, kneeling.  Cynthia coached him through his job as "catcher".  He was a natural...he would go from small-talk and banter when I was feeling good between contractions to a resolved voice of encouragement and admiration at the peak of my pain.  My births have all been amazing (all  births are, aren't they?) and it seems each one has topped the last, but this moment was THE most stunning, amazing, phenomenal moment I have experienced yet.  I'm not sure it can be topped! I pushed and heaved while he gently grasped and helped her twist...she was this amazing, slimy current of life and fire that connected us both as she slipped from my body into his steady hands all while he spouted what I needed to hear in that moment of torment and darkness just before the rainbow.  It was beautiful, in all it's blood and gore.  In a room full of people there was a moment where there was just the three of us.

And then her writhing, pink body was plopped onto my chest and all was right with the world!  She, of course, was perfect and the boys returned to the room with Papa to meet her, just about as brand-spankin' new as possible.  Logan was especially enamored and stayed by my side for the next half hour at least while we admired her tiny toes and helped her to latch and nurse for the first time.  There was so much love in the room!

Eleanor Jane Kneuper was born at 10:08 pm on July 6th, 2014 and came in at 8 lbs 2 ounces (the same as her admiring brother, Logan) and was 20 inches of pure perfection long.  She has been FAR more enjoyable for the 2nd 40 weeks and 4 days that she's been with us in comparison to the first.  She is very rarely anything but happy, so easy going and greets everyone with a smile.  AND somehow she is ginger #3.  Still don't know how we have managed that. Despite being the 5th in line and sometimes the details falling through the cracks, she is most definitely the baby and doted on endlessly.  Thank you for making our family better, Ella Forever!

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