Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Megan's Birth Story

I feel so rusty at this... it has been ages since I've blogged about anything. I realize that birth stories aren't for everyone, but I sure enjoy being able to look back and remember the feelings I had welcoming a new little one. So... here we go!

It is so strange to me, that up until about two weeks before her birth we didn't have the slightest idea what we were naming our sweet lil' Megs. And now that she is here, I can hardly imagine her being anything else. Welcoming her was quite different than what I expected, but oh, so worth it.

My Doctor that I found here in LA (Dr. Jeannine Rahimian) was the first doctor I have had that told me she would let me be induced anytime after 39 weeks. Given my history of needing to be induced with all my others, and my last two babies weighing 10 lbs. I was excited at the idea of going a little early in hopes of delivering a smaller baby. at my 38 week appointment we went ahead and scheduled my induction, and I was so anxious and excited for her to come!

I turned 39 weeks on Tuesday, April 19th, so I arrived at the hospital Monday night at 10:30pm so that I could get all signed in and hooked up to start my induction at midnight. The only hang up was that baby was still high and wiggling around and was almost impossible to keep on the monitor. They needed to monitor her for 20 minutes straight to make sure that she wasn't in any distress before inducing labor. The nurses spent a good 2-3 hours trying to get her consistently on the monitors, and were unsuccessful.

The attending who was on shift at the time, did not feel comfortable starting an elective labor without being able to closely monitor the baby, and so around 2am she came in and talked to me. She told me about here uneasiness inducing me when there was no real medical urgency to do so, and expressed her concern about not being able to keep the baby on the monitor. She told me she would feel most comfortable if I went home, and maybe came back in a couple of days to try again. My heart sank at this idea. We had already arranged sitters and Ryan had taken some paternity leave to ensure he'd be around for babies arrival. A sweet nurse could sense my disappointment, and after letting Ryan and I talk things over, she came in, rolled up her sleeves and was determined to get baby on the monitor. AND SHE DID!! I was so grateful to her!

Once we had the required documentation of the baby on monitor they began the induction... since I still had the cautious attending (I kind of wondered if read my history at all!) she decided to give me a hormone to soften the cervix and hopefully begin labor. Now there are two main ways they do this. One is kind of like a hormone string/strip that they place and leave for twelve hours... which is what we tried first. No real progress after doing that one... and we waisted TWELVE HOURS!!! I was so determined to help those contractions along that I was stepping up and down on a little foot rest in the room. Haha. I'm sure I look ridiculous to any nurse who walked by.

Next we tried the other way, which is placing a small pill (prostaglandin) on the cervix. I had this with Abigail and it sent me right into contractions. I started to feel some mild contractions after they did this. I remember waking Ryan up at 7am and telling him that I thought the contractions were getting closer and that we'd be meeting baby girl before noon (this would have been April 20th). Since it was my fifth baby, the thought things would move pretty fast once I got going, so I told the nurse that I felt things were moving and she started preparing my room. They discovered that the baby warmer wasn't working, so they decided I needed to move rooms. 

Once I got settled into my new room I was so excited for them to check me and to see how far I had progressed. The nurse came in and nothing. I was still at 1cm and like 50% effaced. I was a little frustrated, but the attending agreed to get me started on pitocin (hallelujah!!) They got me hooked up, but... because the residents were cautious... they had to slowly increase my pitocin levels... 

{my new room had a great view!!}

By like 4pm I felt like things were moving and I was making progress, so I asked them to check me again. I was so excited. I thought for sure some real progress was happening, the contractions were starting to get stronger and closer together. They checked me and I was only at 3cm. ugh.  Poor Ryan was such a trooper with all my whining. I tried my best to be positive... but man I was getting tired. 

{Let me insert here, that I really, really wanted to have a natural delivery, with no epidural. I never had and really wanted to do it. I have a hard time getting epidurals. They are really painful for me, and I have back pain for weeks afterwards. So that was one of my goals I was determined to accomplish this delivery}

I finally got a nurse who was proactive in getting my pitocin doses upped and things really started to move. Contractions got strong and very painful. Ryan and I were watching shows to pass the time and I remember that when I felt the contraction coming I would do everything I could to breath deep and try not to focus on it too much. I was determined to not have an epidural... I knew I could do it. So in a way, I was kind of excited things were getting stronger and more painful. It meant things were happening and I was going to meet baby girl soon with out having a painful epidural. 

Around 7pm or 8pm the contractions were getting stronger and stronger and practically unbearable. Surely, surely I had made some progress. I requested they check me again and my heart sank when they said I was only at 4cm. FOUR!! I was exhausted from practically being up for 48 hours. They suggested that they break my water. I agreed and they did it. One of the concerns with breaking the water when the baby is high up, is that as they move down into position they umbilical cord can get pinched in the canal. About an hour or so after they broke my water they baby started to show some small signs of distress. To avoid a c-section they decided to do a procedure where they add fluid to buoy the baby up and help with relieving any pressure that could be causing the signs of distress. By this point my contractions were practically unbearable. Ryan had been so supportive during all this. Rubbing my back, trying to ease my pain in anyway he could. I remember them starting to add the fluid and feeling a contraction coming on and I couldn't handle it anymore. The pain was unbearable. I couldn't sit through it. I begged them to stop, it was too painful. This was around 11/11:30pm at this point. I started crying and asked for an epidural. (later I realized that I was transitioning while they were doing this... awesome! and painful!)

I was so mad at myself for not just giving in earlier and getting the epidural before the contractions were so severe. I began sobbing because I didn't know how on earth I would sit still to get my epidural. They hurt so incredibly bad. My contractions were coming faster and harder and I was restless. I told the nurse that I really wanted to try standing through my next contraction to be able to handle the pain better. I just had to survive until the anesthesiologist made it in. 

I moved to the edge of the bed and as I stood up I quickly sat back down because I felt the baby coming and I had this overwhelming urge that I had to push her out now!! It was a whirlwind of commotion. The nurse ran out and yelled for the residents and attending to get in their now... she may have even hit an emergency button. I remember telling them that I had to push, I couldn't stop. They didn't have time to move the bed around. They barely got into position when I started pushing. I remember noticing the anesthesiologist walk in out of the corner of my eye sort of shrugging, like, "Oh, I guess you won't be needing me anymore." Haha. 

I gave two or three good pushes and she was out. Getting her out was the most amazing feeling ever. It is shocking how the pain instantly stopped and I felt a thousand times better. I was slightly hyperventilating and must have had my eyes tightly shut because I remember the attending telling me to breathe and to open my eyes. To open my eyes and look at my baby.
I opened them...and there she was.

She was here. She was perfect and seemed so tiny. 
That new baby smell, her warm little body next to mine.

Her dark little eyes opening and closing trying to figure out this bright world she just entered into. I'm sure that the room with noisy with the hustle and bustle of taking care of all that needed to happen after baby came, but it seemed so calm and peaceful. She was here. My sweet baby Megan was here. Her thick dark hair matted to her tiny perfect head. 

Her little hands opening and stretching her tiny little fingers. She was perfect. 

Megan AnneMarie Stephenson
Born April 21st, 2017 at 12:03am

8 lbs 15 oz
21 inches long. 

Welcome to the world baby girl. You are so loved. 
We feel so blessed to have in our arms and in our family. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Legacy of Love

Yes... surprise, surprise. A lengthy, wordy post from me. I don't expect anyone to really read it... I know I have a hard time reading posts that are all words. A few nights ago I woke up in the middle of the night from a distinct thought. That I needed to share a recent experience I had. I obviously didn't, but the yesterday I had a lesson about leaving a legacy of hope for my children and the generations that follow them, and I just had to record a few thoughts down. Maybe not for anyone now, but my grandchildren or great grandchildren or who knows. Maybe it is just for me. I don't know. Anyhow, I hope those that do read this feel the love that I have for them and know that I wish every bit of happiness on them, and hope that this strengthens or builds their testimony.

So... here we go. I just want to share a few little stories that I know God lives. That he LOVES ME. And that he continually leads and guides me, and blesses me when I follow his commandments.

Lately I have been really, really struggling. It probably can date back to March of this year (2014). The big day we found out that we'd be moving across the entire country from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles. Sure I was excited for the new adventure. But the stress for affording the move, getting rid of most of our belongings and figuring out how (& where) we'd be able to afford it was consuming me in anxiety. I honestly thought the only way we'd make it work was for me to live in Utah with my family and for Ryan to sublet an apartment. So much weighing on my mind all the time, it was hard to see the bright side of life. I won't go into details, but preparing for our move was horrible and it just felt like it wouldn't work out. That this trial ahead of us would be unbearably hard. That I wasn't strong enough. I just wanted to cry all the time. But the first day on the road driving cross country we found out that we got off the wait-list for housing. A pin hole of light punctured through that darkness surrounding me. I can't begin to tell you how much of a relief that was to find out that even if it would still be hard. We'd be able to be together.

     Another story I want to share is a HUGE miracle. It was on our first Saturday all together as a family and we decided to go to the beach. Everyone was excited and lathered up with sunscreen. We gathered up our stuff and packed our lunch and were off to the beach. We got there and everyone was whining and grumpy, and didn't really seem excited to be there. Zak was acting lethargic (he actually ended up throwing up!), Emily wouldn't nurse well and Abby ran in too quickly to the ocean and totally got spooked and didn't want anything to do with the beach anymore. The only one who semi had fun was Sarah. But she got grumpy because we decided that we should leave early (I think we were there for about 2 hours). Not fun. Well. We packed up all of our stuff, and began to get everyone loaded up in the car. We stopped by the showers and rinsed off a bit and then were on our way home. By this point Ryan and I weren't exactly happy campers either. Ryan asked about his phone, and I told him it was in our beach bag. Along with my phone, our wallets and keycard to the apartment. He offered to pull over so I could bring it up front and I told him to wait until we got to the gate and I'd hope out and grab it so we could get in.
     So we drive the 10-15 minute drive back to our apartment. I hop out to get the keycard to open the gate... and our beach bag was not in the back. Amongst all of the juggling of things and children, it got left on the boardwalk right out side the showers, right by the all the heavy, heavy foot traffic. We were shocked and terrified. We rushed back to the beach. It was SUCH a long drive. The entire time I was praying that it would all be okay. I didn't know what we would do if our wallets, phones and everything got stolen, but through my deep worry I felt peaceful. That I knew that even if they were stolen, it would all work out somehow.
     We finally made our way back, and there amongst all of the people walking around was our beach bag. Just sitting there. Untouched. I hopped out and grabbed it and quickly dug through it to find our wallets & phones. They were safe. I know that this was a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father. He knew our needs and helped to watch over and protect us. Sure they are just things, and it would have worked out if they had been stolen. But this was a testimony that he LOVES me! And that He knew I needed this witness of His love.

Another simple story I wanted to share is of the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is hard moving and making new friends. Especially when you stick out like a sore thumb with 4 crazy kiddos. The people I have met are so nice and wonderful, but it always takes time to get to know people and find people who understand me and who I can really talk with. On one day that I was feeling especially lonely I was reached out to by three different friends from different times in my life. I keep in touch with them all, but I know that they were prompted by the Spirit to send me a little hello. It wasn't anything major. One was though some simple text messages, and they other two were private messages on facebook. It once again let me know that the Lord loves me. And that he knew what I needed, and that was to feel like people who I know and love still remembered me. That I didn't move away and get forgotten. I still feel lonely at times, but I know that it will get better the more I try to reach out and let people get to know the real me.

     The last thing I wanted to share is really quite silly. But meant SO much to our little family. The girls have joined a little running club at our school and it just makes them so happy to get out and move in the mornings and see how strong and amazing they are for doing it. It is a great confidence builder for them. We after the first day Sarah's running shoes rubbed a huge blister on the back of her heel. We taped it up really well so that she could still participate the other two days that week, but I knew that she needed new shoes. Figuring out our budget out here has been stressful. For figuring out how to budget in a surprise $20+ this week was stressful. I decided that I would just have to make it work, that she needed new shoes so we went out on Saturday to find a new pair of shoes. The night before I was looking up shoes in various stores and decided the best spot would be to check out Payless shoes. So I got the kids ready to go, and right before we left I had a thought to just check out Ross first. It is on the corner of the block we live (like literally less than a 5 minute walk). I figured it wouldn't hurt. I wasn't even sure they had kids shoes.
     We went in and their selection wasn't the best. All of the girl shoes were covered in sparkles, bling and totally too girly for Sarah. And all of the boy shoes were big and clunky... or high tops! I was discouraged. Abby was having a blast trying on shoes, so I decided to just look through for possibly miss placed shoes in Sarah's size. Sure enough, as I looked around I found a cute pair of teal blue Puma's. That were perfect for running, and not all glammed out and girly. I gulped as I went to check the price. I was sure they would be more than $20. To my shock they were on clearance and marked down to $0.49. You read that right. Forty-Nine CENTS!! I am guessing it was a return someone made and they marked it way down to get it out of their inventory. I know that I was prompted to go to Ross (which I've never really shopped at before), to find this incredible deal. A miracle to once again show me the love of my Heavenly Father.

     I don't know who read this, and where your stance is in regards to religion. But I want you to know that I know God lives, that I am His daughter and that He loves me. I know that the actions that I make today not only affect me, but my children, and their children, and all of the generations to come. I hope that I can be a walking example of God's love to others and that it will help to lead them to Him. That I can be one to strengthen the chain of Faith, and not the link that broke. Heavenly Father loves us, and He wants us to be happy. By serving others and keeping His simple commandments we will find that happiness and pure joy.

Friday, March 21, 2014

One Month & Still Sick

Emily actually got sent to the hospital after he one month check up... so I didn't get a chance to document it in pictures. But the only stats I remember is that she was almost 13 lbs.
(I think it was 12 lbs 13 oz)

After we got home from the hospital I decided to try and get some one month pictures of her. After shooting for about 5 minutes I decided to give up. She just looked so sad and tired, I didn't want to bug her any more. Here are some of the ones that I did capture. 

I didn't really edit any of these... so ignore the amateur-ness of them. ;)

My Buddy is Back!

Zak is the most pleasant, good natured little boy. It was so sad seeing him so miserable for so long. That RSV and the double ear infection really did a number on his mood. 
We're still dealing with some residual whininess, but for the most part he is back to his happy cheerful self. And life is so good!

Valentine's Day

With our recent cases of RSV in our house, it was no surprise that Abby caught it as well. Since I stay home with the kids (and I know other families at Abby's preschool have little ones at home) we decided to have our pediatrician excuse Abby from school for a week to get through some of the highly contagious days of RSV and not pass it along to her classmates.

This resulted in a really. lame. valentine's day.

Ryan and I really don't do that much for the holiday. We try and get sometime to ourselves, but with a new baby (who was still getting over RSV) we couldn't really do much.

I did however want to still make it fun for the kiddos.

Foolishly I pinned some cute homemade valentine's on pinterest and let Sarah pick the one she thought was most fun...

Of course it didn't look that complicated on pinterest... but it was a LOT more work than I had anticipated. 

Sarah loved doing her part though. She patiently went through all 20 valentine's and wrote her little message and signed her name on each and everyone. Even decorated the letters. 

So proud of all her work!

And then my foolishness strikes again for our Teacher gifts. 

I've wanted to make these heart-shaped hot pads for a while, and this was the perfect excuse.

They were SO much more time consuming to make than I expected. Mostly because my binding didn't want to smoothly lay along the edges of the hot pads. They definitely looked homemade.
It is the thought that counts, right?

We did a way simplified version of the hear in Abby's hear this year. 
I actually think it worked out better than the braided version I've done in the past. 

I wish I had more exciting things to share about this lovey, dovey holiday.

I will share some short little things that I love...

I love the sweet gazes I get from lil' miss Emily after she finishes eating. Big sighs full of satisfaction that her round lil' belly is warm and full of milk. 

I love Zak's cuddles. He is still quite my little snuggle buddy. I try my hardest to be patient and remind myself ofter that his constant desire to be near me, touching me or on top of me will fade and I will dearly miss all the cuddling that I enjoy now. My favorite is right after he has woken up. He will climb up onto my lap facing me, lay he head on my chest and gaze up with his big, sleepy eyes and suck on his "plug" and rub his monkey blankie under his nose. He still offers me nose rubs with his blankie.

I love how bright Abby's eyes get. Everything is so exciting to Abby. She tells me every bit of information about her day like it is the best thing in the world. She still cackles and I LOVE her cackle! You always know when Abby is near because you can hear her loud and clear! She is so fun though, I really love my ray of sunshine!

My sweet, sweet, Sarah. I love how obedient and grown up she is getting. Although sometimes I get sad that the time is passing by so quickly, I LOVE having an oldest child that is ever so helpful. I can always count on Sarah to happily answer, "Sure, Mom!" whenever I ask her to do something. I love her big chocolate eyes and her full grin.

I love my wonderful Ryan. It seems like the past couple of years we haven't always had the most quality time together. But I love when we are able to sit and talk and enjoy each others company. I love laughing with Ryan. He has the best laugh. Especially when we are laughing really hard, you know, so hard that you have a hard time catching your breath? Those are the best moments.

Ryan did surprise me with Flowers for Valentine's day. When we were first married I remember telling Ry how I thought sending someone cut flowers is kind of pointless because they just die... but I do have to say. Receiving a bouquet of flowers is pretty fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting them!
He is such a nerd, his little note with the flowers said, "I love you sweetheart! And I got you flowers. I hope you like them. Love, Ryan" He should have signed it Captain Obvious. ;) 

The flowers completed the look of our little Valentine's Day mantle. 

Well... that is about enough lovey-dovey-ness that I'm sure any of you can bare reading through... so I'll stop right there. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

RSV Stinks

My sister decided to come and visit us for a few days at the beginning of February.
I hardly got any pictures of it... but you can read her account HERE and HERE.
{Brooke is far wittier than I, it'll be more fun to read it from her anyhow}

It was so fun to have my sister here... but I got slightly distracted by this...

Emily going to the hospital... again. *sigh*

Here is the story.
Zak caught RSV (seemed like an ordinary cold on him... oh, with double ear infections).
Zak tried to be a good big brother...
Zak shared RSV with Emily.

Since lil' miss Emily was only 4 weeks old... it was too risky to just play it out at home.

So they sent us to the ER to have her monitored, and the ER decided it would be safest to admit her and keep her for 24 hours to do this again...

Watch that wretched monitor.


It was kind of nice for Emily. She really seemed to rest well while we were there.
Except when we had to suck out the mucous from her tiny lil' nose. 

That was really sad.

Once again they gave me free meal passes to eat while I stayed with Emily.

I don't know what we would have done if Brooke wasn't in town. It has been such a blessing to have the timing of things all work out. With Emily's stay while my parents were in town and this hospital stay. We felt so blessed to not have to stress about our other three kids. 

But, I do have to say that it wasn't fair that I missed out on spending quality time with Brooke.
I don't know how much of a hostess I was, I felt like a zombie pretty much the entire time she was here. {Sorry Brooke!}. 

It was nice to be able to squeeze in one more day of snuggles after we got discharged.

Yay for visitors!

Baby it's COLD outside!!

We have by far been experiencing our COLDEST winter in Pittsburgh this year! The weather man was calling it a Polar Vortex that ran through the country... whatever it was, it made for some very, very cold days in the 'Burgh. Brrrr!!