Category Archives: pregnancy

{welcoming our baby girl}

Hello to each of you from my little corner of the web. I hope you are well amidst the craziness that seems to be growing with each passing day here lately. <3 We have had so many changes over the last few months, and I can't wait to share about them all soon, but first, I want to introduce our sweet daughter, Miss Esmeralda Mae:

I found out that I was pregnant with her two months after my second early pregnancy loss, and had a hard time at first even comprehending that I was pregnant. I *thought* I might have been because the nausea set in even before getting a strong positive pregnancy test, but I was still somewhat in denial and scared to get attached if I was going to have to say “goodbye” again to a baby before getting to meet him or her on this side of heaven.

(On a side note, pregnancy after loss is a unique journey, and one that doesn’t really get easier. It’s amazing how much love you feel for someone that you’ve not even had the opportunity to meet- each of my 4 children (both the two here with me and the two in heaven I haven’t met yet) are so special to me, and I love them more than words can say. )

When I got a bold test line and a positive digital, Daniel and I texted and surprised my parents with these photos:

The pregnancy started to become more real at this point, now that other people knew about it and the nausea/all-day sickness was steadily worse. The interesting thing is that the first trimester of my pregnancy with Esmeralda was an all-day, all-out nausea and vomiting event, and the rest of the pregnancy, I didn’t have any issues with it at all. With Oliver, I was sick every morning and then good the rest of the day. Each pregnancy is so different!

I was so thankful to get to see baby on the ultrasound with a perfect heartbeat. I remember telling Daniel I felt so much better seeing that the baby was measuring right on target (actually, one day ahead!), and seeing and hearing that sweet heartbeat. <3

We announced to the family on Thanksgiving. I made Oliver a “big brother” shirt to spread the news! πŸ˜€

It wasn’t too much longer after that, when we went to the anatomy scan, and had confirmed what Daniel and I felt very strongly already- we would be welcoming a baby GIRL to the world this time! The pregnancy with her had been so different than the one with Oliver. We both just knew that it was a girl. I don’t know how, but we did. We went back to my parent’s house to pick up Oliver after the appointment, and did a gender reveal by letting my younger siblings unwrap a sleeper that said “little sister”.Β  Everyone was so surprised and excited!

Now that we knew *who* she was, it was time to let everyone know she was on the way. πŸ™‚ We posted some photos and video, and formally announced her impending arrival and her name. <3

Things went fairly normally through the pregnancy up until the late second trimester, and then third trimester.

I was keeping a pretty normal schedule, and was enjoying as much time in our pool as I could, because that took away a lot of my joint pain and varicose vein pain.Β 

I began to get this feeling that I wouldn’t be making it to my due date, and the nesting kicked in full-force. We got her nursery put together. Diapers were stockpiled, and baby girl clothes started filling her dresser. I also started collecting ALL THE BOWS. No shame here.Β  πŸ˜€

One of the most difficult things was trying to round up clothes for her because so many stores were closed with the Covid stuff! I ended up buying most of her things from online sales and consignment groups. I am so thankful for technology and being able to do that, because she would be wearing big brother’s clothes otherwise!

Towards the end of the third trimester, I was really beginning to not feel well at all. My blood pressure was starting to go up, and I was having a lot of sacral nerve pain, in addition to the varicose vein pain, and just general pregnancy soreness from contracting. I also found out around this time that the hospital covid procedures were not going to allow for more than one support person and no visitors, and that there would be testing procedures and so many other complications that I didn’t have to deal with for Oliver’s birth. I could tell my stress levels were going up. Everything about the pregnancy/delivery at that point seemed to be spiraling downhill. I remember praying that the Lord would smooth things out because it seemed like the situation was spinning out of control.

Saturday, June 13th at 37 weeks and 6 days pregnant: Daniel and I dropped Oliver off at my parent’s house, and did a mini-date getaway down to Opelika for a car swap meet. The swap meet was a bust, but we did get to go and have a nice meal at Olive Garden, and all the bumpy back roads made me have lots and lots of contractions. I was hopeful that maybe the trip would jump start things off with labor since that did it with Oliver, but it didn’t that day!

Sunday, June 14th: – 38 weeks pregnant and I pretty much spent all day on my birthing ball in what I now think (and the doctor that delivered Esmeralda said as well) was probably early labor. I was contracting every 10-15 minutes, and losing parts of my mucous plug. We went to bed that night and I honestly thought I would wake up with closer contractions and my water broken, but that didn’t happen. The day seemed very long because I really wasn’t feeling well whatsoever.

Monday, June 15th: I texted my mom and told her I just had this really weird feeling like something was about to happen or I needed to be ready for something, and asked for her to pray that I would have discernment with whatever it was. Daniel had taken some stuff to the recycling center that morning and cut his arm pretty bad, so at first, I thought maybe that’s what it was, but the feeling was still there even after we took care of his arm. Later that afternoon, I told my mom I had to go to the grocery store, but I was almost scared to leave my house because I just had this really weird feeling and to please keep praying that I would have discernment and peace.Β  I wasn’t contracting regularly any more, so it didn’t even cross my mind that the feeling might be related to Esmeralda’s impending birth.

Tuesday, June 16th: I went in that morning for my routine doctor’s appointment. The nurse took my blood pressure three times over the course of my appointment time, and each time, it was coming back very high (the bottom number was over 100). The protein levels in my urine were elevated, and my legs had started to swell. My doctor came in to talk to me and told me that she thought I was beginning to develop pre-eclampsia symptoms, and because the numbers were as high as they were, she wasn’t comfortable with me waiting even one more day on this baby to come. She went ahead and checked me, and told me I was sitting at 2cm dilated with a very soft/thin cervix, and baby was at -2 station. She asked if I had everything ready to go to the hospital, and I started crying. Pre-eclampsia had literally been my biggest fear towards the end of the pregnancy, and knowing that I was potentially facing it scared me so badly. My doctor stopped and prayed with me right then, and called the hospital to let them know that we would be coming in that afternoon for monitoring/possible induction if my numbers were all still high. As I was leaving the office, the nurses and staff were all praying over me and reminding me God already had this under control, and that this would be an exciting day- I would be meeting my daughter!

I got in the car and called my mom to let her know what was going on, and to make sure they would be able to get Oliver that afternoon. I sobbed to her on the phone on my entire drive home, and then proceeded to walk into my house and sob in my husband’s arms as I explained to him what was going on. Looking back, I now know that the feeling of “something was going to happen” was God was preparing me for the birth! He was so gracious to allow me to prepare mentally and emotionally in advance by prompting me to pray about it.

Daniel and I discussed some options, and both agreed that we were going to go ahead and request the induction be started when we got to the hospital rather than having to stay overnight for monitoring first. He called his work and let them know that it was baby time, and I got the last few things packed and a last load of laundry washed. I put on this Michael Card CD while we were getting things finished and loaded into the car, and it was so calming and peaceful.

“God shapes every second of our little lives, and minds every minute as the universe waits by; the pain and the longing, the joy and the moments of light, are the rhythm and rhyme, the free verse of the poem of life…”

I also realized that I was contracting again….painful contractions, right at 8-10 minutes apart. I told Daniel that I was actually looking forward to being hooked up to the contraction monitor to see if they would be picked up as real contractions because they certainly felt like it!

When the car was packed and we were loaded and ready, we went and met my parents to drop Oliver off with them. My mom grabbed this last photo of Daniel and I together while I was pregnant:

and then we were off to the hospital! I was noticing that my contractions were getting more and more painful, and that I was feeling much more emotional again.

We got to the hospital, and they checked our temperatures, issued us masks, and let us know that they knew we were coming and they had my room ready! I did have to redo my hospital registration because the pre-registration didn’t make it to them. Oh well. While I was standing there filling out the paperwork, I was contracting so much and in enough pain with those that it was actual difficult to stand there. The reception ladies asked me I needed a wheelchair, but I told them I was really hoping the contractions were helping me move things along a bit before being induced.

As soon as I finished the paperwork, we sat in the waiting area for a few minutes. I remember thinking that I couldn’t believe we were actually there to have the baby- it still felt so surreal!

They took us right back to a room, and I got changed into the lovely hospital gown. The first order of business was running labs- a urine catheter to check for the most accurate protein levels, blood pressure checks over a certain amount of time, and a blood draw to see what all of those levels looked like. The doctor on call from my practice (who actually delivered Oliver) popped in and asked how I was feeling, and let me know they were getting ready to start the monitoring, and that if things looked the same, they would be starting the induction the next morning. I asked him if we could go ahead and get things going right then, and he said if we wanted to go ahead, he was comfortable getting the process started. He went ahead and broke my water, and asked if I wanted an epidural for pain management along with the pitocin drip to get the induction going. I said “yes sir!”, and that I wasn’t planning on trying to deliver naturally this time. With Oliver, it was a traumatic birth with him getting stuck and me laboring at 9.5cm for hours, and I just didn’t want to do that again. I am so thankful I went ahead and got that epidural because it made such a huge difference in how I felt and my recovery afterwards!

At 4:00pm, they checked me and I was at 4cm dilated, and they began prepping for the pitocin and the epidural. I got the epidural around 5pm, and then the pitocin drip was started at 5:30pm. My contractions at this point were 2 minutes apart, but because the epidural was on board, I was able to easily breathe through them. I was still able to chat with Daniel and the nurse who was watching over everything, I was texting my mom to give her updates on what was going on and find out how my big baby (Oliver) was doing, and was able to just rest a bit.

Around 6:30pm, I began feeling so nauseas. The nurse brought me a sprite, but it wasn’t helping at all. The nurse gave me some anti-nausea meds, and then she went ahead and checked me again. It took her a minute, and then she said she would be right back because she wanted someone to check after her (she had only been a labor and delivery nurse for 4 months). While she was gone, Daniel asked what we were waiting on, and I told him basically for my body to open up now that the pitocin was doing it’s thing. Honestly, I was going to be really happy if I found out I had made it to 6cm, because my goal at that point was just to have the baby by midnight….but God had other plans.

Our nurse came back with another nurse who checked me, and said “yep! She’s definitely complete and ready!”. I was so shocked that I just started crying again. I remember looking up at Daniel and saying “we’re about to meet our daughter!”. I was so completely surprised that I had dilated that much in so little time.

It was 6:45pm. They began to gather the birth team and supplies, and paged the doctor. I watched as they flipped the baby warmer on, rolled in the surgical supplies table, and got everything ready, just in awe that things were moving so quickly. The nurse told me that since I was complete and contracting regularly, I could try a few practice pushes to see how things were going while we were waiting on the doctor.

My epidural had worn off just enough to where I wasn’t feeling pain, but I could feel the pressure of where exactly I needed to push. I pushed 3 times with just the nurse, and the last push was so effective that I had started to actually push Esmeralda out. The nurse told me that the baby had a head full of dark hair, to which Daniel and I were like “what??”. We were both born bald, so neither of us were expecting Miss E to have hair at all. I guess all the heartburn I had during the pregnancy really was because she had hair. πŸ˜€

Since it was clear that baby was definitely about to be pushed out, the nurse asked me to wait if I could before pushing the baby out any further while we were waiting on the dr. I asked if I would be able to feel baby’s head, and the nurse said they could actually bring a mirror in so that I could watch if I wanted to. I asked for them to do that and had the opportunity to see my baby crown. Words simply can not describe what it’s like seeing your child actually coming into the world. I am so thankful I was able to experience that with this birth!

The doctor came in about that time, and 4 pushes later, at 7:25pm (yes, just two hours after the induction/pitocin drip was started!) Miss Esmeralda Mae officially entered the world, weighing 7lbs and 4oz, and measuring 20″ long- just a bit smaller than her big brother was, even though she was born a week and a half earlier! They laid her up on my chest and I just could not stop looking at her. She was so beautiful and chunky…I was in love at first sight.

I literally could not have asked for a better birth. I was able to push effectively, I only had a tiny tear, and I wasn’t in labor for hours on end. The atmosphere was so calm, and because I wasn’t in excruciating pain this time, I felt like I was clearly able to articulate what I wanted and did not want done during the labor and delivery process. I didn’t have to wear a mask while I was laboring. My baby was perfectly healthy and latched to nurse immediately after birth….God was so good in allowing for things to be so very smooth.

Once my epidural had worn off and Esmeralda had been weighed and measured, we got things packed up in the labor and delivery room and were transferred up to our postpartum recovery room. Our postpartum nurse gave Esmeralda her first bath, and we worked on getting folks updated who had been praying over us and the birth throughout the day. The hospital staff also brought us up some box dinners, which was awesome because neither Daniel nor I had eaten much that day, and we were starving!

The next day and a half were just spent getting the typical post-birth monitoring and tests done.

I also tried to grab some “in the hospital” pics since we weren’t allowed to have anyone else there.

We also were brought a special “birth day” cake by the hospital to celebrate her birth. πŸ™‚

And then we got to go home!

We asked my parents to keep Oliver one extra night so that we could have a night to get settled in with baby, and then they brought him home to us the next day.

He was less than impressed with the baby at first, but he is growing to love her now. He has been a big help taking her dirty diapers to the trash, and helping me wash laundry too. I am confident that they will become great friends as she gets to be bigger and actually wanting to play.

It’s now been about two weeks since she was born.

We are getting settled back into our routines and learning how to juggle two kids under two, which has been an adventure all by itself. Once again, the Lord has been so gracious and the adjustment period hasn’t been bad, and my actual postpartum recovery has been fabulous. I am still in awe that these two perfect little people have been given to me. They are both so cute and sweet, and fill my days with love and laughter.

The Lord is so good to me. <3

{a few postpartum helps}

Hello friends! I wanted to quickly take a minute to blog a little about some things that I have found indispensable during the postpartum recovery time, while it’s still somewhat fresh in my mind. πŸ™‚ I realize that this is the first baby I have brought home, but I do think that these suggestions might be helpful to other moms, as they were a huge blessing and help to me! πŸ˜€

Freezer meals! One of the things that was immensely helpful to me was having some meals put away in the freezer for the time after Daniel went back to work. We were blessed and were able to have him home for several days due to changes going on at his job, in conjunction with holiday off time and vacation days, but even so, I was so, so thankful for those meals in the freezer!! I put away as many as I could, and then my sweet mama delivered several others. It was so nice to not have to worry about what we were going to eat while I was still working on getting back on my feet! There were also some wonderful friends of ours who delivered meals and even sandwich fixings after we got home from the hospital. That was such a HUGE blessing!

If you tore at all during delivery, the Earth Mama Herbal Perineal spray was so wonderful! I was alternating using it and spray Dermoplast. I felt like the tear was healing much faster than what I was told to expect from my doctor’s office, and I think this spray is really what made the difference.

After things settled down and we were ready to start going back to church, I realized that none of my church clothes fit at all. They were all either maternity and too big, or pre-maternity and too small. I found these dresses on Amazon, and for the most part, they have been AMAZING and not terribly expensive.

I ordered this black one:

I also ordered this burgundy one:

And this blue one:

The black one and the burgundy one have been great, but the blue one, while comfortable, developed fuzzballs on it really easily, and I’d only worn it three times. I’m going to get a clothes shaver and see if that helps, but that was disappointing. I’ve worn the black one and the burgundy one several times, and they both seem to be holding up really well. They have been awesome for nursing and have been very forgiving of my post-pregnancy shape.

My mom found this awesome Epsom salt rub at Walmart several months ago, and it became a lifesaver for my backaches while I was pregnant. After I had the baby, it still felt so good rubbed into my back. It also was the most effective thing I used to treat the dreaded “h’s” that showed up after pushing for so many hours. That isn’t what is was labeled for, but I found where someone had tried that in the Amazon reviews and decided to try it myself. LIFE CHANGER, folks.

I also realized a few weeks after bringing our little guy home that I was dealing with some baby blues. Mom suggested increasing my vitamin D consumption, so I did that and noticed a huge difference within just a few days. If it had been more sunny outside during that time, I would have also been soaking up as much sunshine as possible.

After the 6 week mark, it was time to start working in some exercise routines. We’ve been using Dr. Oz.s 7 minute workout here, and I’ve been alternating a few of Leslie Sansone’s 1 Mile Walk-At-Home videos (also on YouTube) as well. I realized when pushing that I had very little upper-arm strength, and I’m also trying to work on getting rid of some of those extra pounds I put on during the pregnancy. I haven’t lost a whole lot of weight thus far, but I can definitely see some muscle definition and toning making an appearance, and that makes me really happy. πŸ™‚

The other thing that was really helpful was transitioning Oliver onto as much of a consistent sleep routine as I could. We follow the EASY baby schedule as much as possible, and it’s truly been awesome! He actually prefers to sleep in his bed, and throws the biggest fit if we’re out-and-about and it’s naptime. πŸ˜€ He sleeps in his bed overnight, and he usually wakes up when we are getting Daniel out the door for work, so I feed him and put him in bed next to me for morning snuggle time before we start the day. He loves his routine! I know that we’re rapidly approaching that 4 month sleep regression time, but I’m sure enjoying the good rest we are getting right now!

I sincerely hope some of this will be of help to you. Many blessings on this rainy spring day!
~Mrs SuperShevy

{the story of the arrival of Oliver Lewis}

It is hard to believe that our sweet little man has been here already for four weeks. It seems as if he has been a part of our family forever!

My pregnancy with him was a journey of growing and stretching, both physically and emotionally/spiritually. There were so many days when I wondered if I could possibly go one more day, because I was so physically tired. It was not an easy pregnancy, and yet I found myself so thankful for each day. When you are pregnant after previously experiencing the loss of a little one, you don’t take pregnancy for granted. This is something that I didn’t realize the depth of until I experienced it for myself.

I still giggle a bit when I think about when I found out he was on the way. I was feeling a little bit “off”- just tired, mainly, and emotionally struggling a bit. Based on some issues I was having, Daniel told me he thought I might be pregnant again, but I really didn’t think that was possible. After having lost our first in December, and then recovering from mono, strep, and multiple other issues, my body seemed to be taking a while to fully heal up. About a week after he told me that, I went out to lunch with my mom and was telling her about some of the issues I was having, and she asked if it was possible that I might be pregnant. I told her I didn’t think so. πŸ™‚ Famous last words…y’all, if your husband and your mom tell you that you might be pregnant, don’t be stubborn like I was and think that it isn’t possible. πŸ™‚

I was scared to even think about the possibility of being pregnant again. I was scared of losing another baby- I already loved the first one so much. Losing it broke me in so many ways. I think I was in denial that there was a possibility that I could even get pregnant again. This is one of those places where I realized that I was not trusting that the Lord was sovereign even over this, and that He knew the desire of my heart to have children of our own.

Two days later, I was curious and just decided to take a pregnancy test. I was shocked when it came back positive…I remember just sitting and crying in wonderment and amazement that the Lord was allowing another opportunity to be a mama.

I texted a photo of the test to Daniel, who was at work, along with the caption that I might should listen to him more often. πŸ™‚ When he got home, he held me and prayed over the baby and I and over the months to come.

The next day, I took another test and the line was even darker….at this point, we went ahead and shared the news with my parents so that they too could be praying over the pregnancy. I found myself once again so excited and yet so scared. It was so hard to wait and just see what would happen. To the best that I could tell, I figure I was around 3 weeks pregnant at this point.

The first milestone that I wanted to reach was 8 weeks, as that was the week I lost the first one.

Every day that went by with no issues was just such a miracle to me.

Around 4 weeks, I began to have some bleeding during church. It was so much…I got home and just started sobbing. I remember telling Daniel that I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why my body kept failing at being able to carry a child…I felt so broken. My parents came and brought us dinner that night and just comforted both of us. I was such a mess. I kept waiting on the bleeding to escalate more, like it did when I began losing the first one, but instead, by the next day, it had stopped.

This was new and different. I texted my mom and asked her “wasn’t miscarriage bleeding supposed to last more than a day??”. She told me to call my doctor and see if they could get me in for a blood draw. I remember feeling like God was telling me to just rest and be at peace….I felt like I could literally feel Him asking in my heart “Do you trust me?” over and over and over…this was one of the hardest struggles I had ever experienced in just giving a situation over to God.

They were able to get me in, and I had blood drawn at the appointment because it was too early for an ultrasound. The hormone level results came back super-high and perfect for a viable pregnancy. I went back a few days later for a repeat draw, and they were doubling and doing exactly what they were supposed to do. I was in complete shock…and still very much pregnant!

The nausea decided to kick in that week as well, which was awful to deal with, but a reassurance to me that hormones were rising and doing what they needed to. It made for a little fun managing that and working at the vet clinic, but eventually, I found a groove and it got a bit easier.

Around 5-1/2 weeks, I was able to go in and get an ultrasound done. This ultrasound showed where there was a gestational sac, a yolk sac, and a hematoma/sub-chorionic hemorrhage… that hemorrhage is what was causing the bleeding earlier!! I was so thankful for an answer as to what the bleeding was from. My doctor reassured us that everything looked great for where I was in the pregnancy, and that I would have a follow-up visit in two weeks to see how things were measuring then.

Because I didn’t see an actual baby on the ultrasound at this appointment, I was cautiously optimistic but also scared about what the next appointment would hold. I was scared of seeing no baby, or finding out something was horribly wrong. This was yet another time where I needed to stop and trust God. I can remember Daniel and my parents were all being very encouraging and praying for me as we got closer to the appointment. I also had told a few of my siblings, and some close friends who were praying and sending me the sweetest messages while I was awaiting this next step.

Appointment day arrived (about 7-1/2 weeks), and my doctor was running behind, so we sat in the waiting room longer that expected. My mom was with me for this appointment, and we ended up running into some acquaintances of ours, who were also waiting to see the doctor. We sat and talked with them for a long time, and they shared the story of their own previous loss before they were expecting that baby, and how the Lord had used it in their lives. It was such an unexpected means of encouragement. I was blown away by how God weaves stories together, and brings people in and out of our lives… it’s a beautiful tapestry, and yet all we can see at times are the threads.

They were called back, and then I was called back about 10 minutes later. My doctor did an ultrasound, and I got to see my precious baby and hear his heartbeat. Friend, I cried. I still cry every time I watch the clip and get to hear that sound. I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness… my baby was living. He was growing (actually measuring ahead of his dates), he was healthy, the hematoma was nowhere in sight and there was a healthy and perfect heartbeat.

After that appointment, I was feeling a little more comfortable with how things were going. I started to purchase some baby things and put them away for his arrival. The nausea got even worse, and then the vericose veins made their appearance. I’m so thankful that I didn’t have any big issues with my blood pressure- other than a few stress-related incidents, it was perfect through the entire pregnancy.

I’m also so thankful that I was working the night shift at the vet clinic during this time, because I couldn’t do mornings very well at all because of the nausea. As the day progressed, it would get slightly better, but I was having a hard time even functioning in the mornings. The vericose veins were awful. I did finally purchase some compression socks and that made life so much better. I could tell within an hour if I had neglected to put them on first thing in the day! πŸ™‚

The next appointment (around 12 weeks) was picture-perfect as well- Daniel got to go with me this time and see the little guy… and by the way, by this time, we felt positive that Oliver was indeed a boy. While we already had a boy name and a girl name picked out, we just KNEW it was a boy, and had been referring to him as “he”, “him”, “Oliver”, “Ollie”, etc.

About this time, I was beginning to show and was collecting maternity clothes to add to my stash. πŸ˜€ I had been taking weekly “bumpies” to show the belly progression. When I uploaded these photos to Facebook later, I called the album “As The Bump Grows”. πŸ˜€

We got to find out that he was definitely a HE at 18 weeks. The ultrasound tech asked us if we wanted to find out, and Daniel and I both answered a very strong “yes!”, and then giggled when she said it was a boy. It’s still funny to me that we “knew” from so early on. We chose this time to publicly announce online, and were so blessed by the outpouring of love and support and prayers from folks all over the world. Y’all know who you are- thank you, again, for all that was done. <3

I am still amazed at the fact that he fit so snuggly in my tummy….when I was preparing to quit my job, most folks didn’t realize I was as far along as I was, because my scrubs did a pretty good job about hiding it until the last couple of weeks that I was there.

At exactly 36 weeks, my family hosted the sweetest baby shower/family meal to welcome little Ollie. My mom, aunt, sister-in-law and other family members worked really hard to put everything together, and it was absolutely adorable!!

I was able to use several of the decorations in his nursery, which I had been working on slowly over several weeks. I am so thankful for one particular afternoon when my mom and sister Emma came over to help fold baby clothes and get everything in it’s place…time was ticking down!

I was so “done” with being pregnant by the time I had reached 33-34 weeks or so. I felt huge, and my legs were aching all the time from the vericose veins, and I still had pretty constant nausea. Oliver also broke my rib around 28 weeks, and it was making me feel absolutely miserable whenever he would push on it. I can remember thinking that it felt like I was going to be pregnant forever! I was a little shocked when I was told that I was actually making progress towards dilation/effacement…. and at my last appointment (12/17/2018) before he was born, I was told that I was at 3cm dilated, and my doctor told me that she would be surprised if I didn’t have the baby within the next two weeks! I went ahead and made my next appointment for 12/27/18, but I was really hoping that I would have the baby before then.

I was actually praying that Oliver would arrive around Christmas. If he did, we knew that we could stack Daniel’s holiday days off and his vacation days, and we would have several days just to settle in and start getting used to our new normal. We also found out that Daniel was finally getting moved to dayshift at his work- something we had been praying for over several months.

We went to church when I was 39 weeks on the nose, and they gave us stacks of presents for little Ollie…I’m still amazed when I think about how loved this little guy was even before he arrived!! I sat in my living room floor going through everything and starting crying again. It truly was amazing to me.

That same Sunday, I asked our pastor and his wife that day to be praying about Oliver’s arrival, and shared that it would be amazing if Ollie could be born around Christmas. And this, folks, is where I want to emphasize that God’s timing is perfect. It is amazing to me at how He works out the smallest details and puts everything in place in the exact way that it needs to be.

Christmas Eve arrived, and we got together with the family for our annual Christmas Eve special dinner. We had so much fun getting to visit with everyone, and though I was feeling really big, I actually was feeling pretty great and enjoyed the time so much. I was slightly disappointed that Oliver hadn’t come yet, and I had no indication that he was on the way just yet, but I was determined to enjoy Christmas and was so loving the time with my family and with Daniel, because we never seem to get enough of it nowadays with work and just life. πŸ™‚ On Christmas Day, Daniel and I actually drove out to Georgia to pick up a welder that he had found on Facebook marketplace. We went ahead and put all of our hospital bags and the baby’s bag in the car for “just in case”. I was having some minor contractions, but nothing more than I had been having for the last week or so, and I didn’t think too much of it.

That night, we got home, ate pizza, and went to bed early because we were tired. I had been timing some of the contractions before I went to bed that evening, and they didn’t seem to be terribly regular, but were definitely more intense than before. They were averaging about 8 minutes apart and were lasting almost two minutes. I had been getting a bit of bloody show as well, but I had been slowly losing my mucous plug over the week before, so again, I wasn’t thinking too much of it.

I woke up around 3 the next morning (12/26/18), having harder contractions, and I felt like I had lost some fluid. Sure enough, as I started walking to the bathroom, I realized I was losing the tiniest bit of fluid. I immediately googled about if your water can break slowly, because I always thought there would be a big gush. I woke Daniel up and told him that I thought my water had broken and I was keeping an eye on it and my contractions, but he doesn’t remember that at all. πŸ˜€ I was beginning to have harder contractions now, and I decided to just go to bed and try to sleep as long as I could before they got too bad. I wanted to labor at home as long as I could before going in to the hospital.

I was able to catnap for about 20 minutes or so, but then the contractions started getting closer and hurting more. I also could not stop trembling. Daniel woke up at the point that I started trembling, and asked if I was okay. I told him that I thought we might be actually having a baby today, and he immediately got up and started making sure that our stuff was together and made us a cup of coffee. I am so thankful for his careful care of me, and his attention to all the little details to make sure that we would be able to get there without incident. <3 I went ahead and got up, got dressed, and starting timing contractions again. At the point that they were averaging about 1-1/2 minutes apart, I texted my mom to let her know that it was time, and called my doctor to see when they wanted me to come on in. They asked questions about how much fluid I was still losing, and how far the contractions were apart, and then said it was definitely time for me to come on. By this point, I was getting really emotional. I just wanted to sit and cry, even though I wasn't in an extreme amount of pain yet. I told Daniel and texted my mom that I thought I had to be around 6cm or so, because I remember from taking childbirth class that you reach a really emotional stage of labor around 6-8cm. Daniel and I got the last few things in the car, and we were on our way! The most beautiful sunrise was happening at the same time...we were getting to watch the sun come up as we made our way to the hospital, which was really special. Something that had brought us together during our courtship was a shared love of photographing sunrises and sunsets...being able to watch a sunrise while we were on the way to birth our child is something special that I will always remember about Oliver's birth.

I could tell that the intensity of the contractions were really picking up when we were about 30 minutes away. By this point, it was close to 7 in the morning. When we arrived at the hospital, I had every intention of walking in to be admitted, but as soon as I stood up out of the car, I felt the “gush” of my water breaking for sure. Daniel went in and brought me out a wheelchair so that I wouldn’t be leaking fluid all over the place trying to get in and settled.

Fortunately, my mom and doctor’s office had encouraged me to pre-register, so I basically had to sign in and they got me right back. A triage nurse and the rounding hospital OB came by to check me, and they told me I was at 100% effacement, 0 station, and 6, almost 7cm dilated! I was amazed and so thankful.

At this point, it was time to settle in and let labor do it’s work. While I don’t have anything against medical help for delivering babies, I really wanted to see if I could labor and then deliver Oliver with as little help as possible. It was more for curiousity’s sake, and I figured since I was at a hospital anyway, I’d be able to get additional help if it was needed.

The hospital that I used is in the process of trying to better equip women to have more natural births and labor if that is what they are wanting to do. Once they settled us into a labor and delivery room, we were assigned two nurses and a nurse practitioner who’s only job is to be a labor coach and doula! This was a huge change from the way it was when my mom had my younger siblings there. I knew that I wanted Daniel and my mom with me for the delivery and as much of the labor as possible, so I was able to have the comfort of knowing my husband was right there with me, the comfort and childbirth knowledge/help from my mom, and then we also had the benefit of a doula as well- something I had not planned on nor even knew was possible at the hospital!

I labored naturally until around 10:00am or so that morning, and they checked me every so often to make sure I was progressing well. They actually had went ahead and turned on the baby heater over the baby bed, because by this time, I was at 9-1/2cm and they were anticipating that the baby was going to be arriving very soon.

The contractions were coming so quickly and were so painful by this point. I felt like I literally could not get on top of the pain of the last one before the next one started. The doula was really good to coach me through the breathing and that helped a lot, but there were so many times when the contractions hurt so badly that I can remember saying “I can’t do this….I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get through this!” My mom would tell me that I was doing it, that I was getting through it, and would remind me that I was so close to meeting little Ollie… and then my husband was literally physically supporting me while I was attempting to walk through some of those contractions…he was holding my hand while I was sitting on the birthing ball in the shower trying to breath through contractions…seeing the love and pain in his eyes while I was trying to get through the hardest contractions is a look I will never forget. I know that if he could have taken that pain for me, he would have without even thinking twice. I love him so much.

By the time I had been sitting at 9-1/2cm for hours (I think it was about 12pm at this point), there were serious concerns about the way the baby was positioned. He was definitely head-down, but they were thinking he might be turned the wrong way around, and they were also concerned that I was going to be too exhausted to deliver him. I was so tired, and hurting so badly… I was emotionally a wreck and just wanted a rest, but was not getting it with the contractions still coming ever closer. They asked if I would be comfortable going ahead and getting an epidural at this point. I discussed it with Daniel and Mama to make sure that I was thinking through the decision clearly, and decided that I definitely wanted to go ahead and have that done.

Within 20 minutes, the anesthesiologist came in and got everything set up, and about 20 minutes after that, I was feeling so much better and was able to rest some. They let me take a couple of hours just to labor and see if he would move down a little more, and shortly after lunchtime, they checked me and I was at 10cm! Hearing that I was at 10cm made me cry again. I was so thankful to hear that I had progressed to the point of actually being able to deliver Oliver. I had begun to wonder if I was going to end up with a c-section.

I’m not sure what time I began pushing, because everything started to seem a bit surreal. I do know that they started a slow Pitocin drip to help the contractions be a little more effective. I remember the nurse asking me if I was ready to start pushing. I almost laughed because I asked her if I was still contracting…yeah, that epidural did a really good job. Almost too good, because I was having a really hard time feeling things enough to push! She assured me that I was, and Oliver was beginning to crown.

I remember Mama saying that she could see his head, and I was able to reach down and rub his little head….and started crying again. He was coming….he was coming, and we were finally about to meet him. I was pushing for about an hour. At the point that Oliver’s head started crowning, they called the doctor, and when he made it to my room and had his delivery scrubs on, they gave me the go-ahead to push again. I heard them say that Oliver’s head was out….a little more pushing and he was crying and his entire body was out! I had a second-degree tear, but am fortunate that it was not worse. As it turns out, his head was tilted sideways in the birth canal, so the contractions were not able to effectively move him down enough to let me progress past 9-1/2cm nor were the contractions thinning the last “lip” of my cervix, which is why the labor lasted much longer than the birthing team thought it would.

Little Oliver Lewis Shevchenko was officially born at 4:21pm on December 26th, 2018. He was 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and 21.5 inches long. <3 Once he was born, they rubbed him down a bit and sat him on my chest while I was being stitched up. He was so cute and so perfect...the first thing I noticed was that he had his daddy's ears. <3 The next thing I noticed was his big hands...he had little man hands!! And his legs were so long... <3 I was in love from first sight. (thank you to Mama for taking the photos!)

Once they made sure that I was steady after the epidural had worn off, they got Oliver all bundled up and we were able to be moved to a regular room.

Among his first visitors were my mom, dad, grandfather, and brother, Jacob! (Mom took all of these pictures, so I don’t have one with her and Oliver at the hospital).

The next couple of days were a bit of a blur…we were getting into the swing of breastfeeding, trying to get stuff wrapped up at the hospital, and visiting with the folks who came to see us.

The hospital did deliver us the sweetest little birthday cake and box to celebrate!! It was so cute!!

On December 28th, it was finally time to get ready and go home for the first time as a family.

Before we even left the parking spot, Daniel prayed over us, and over Oliver, and over all that we would be doing now as a family. I was crying, he was crying….it was so sweet and just a precious time. <3

Life is more settled now. We’re falling into more of a routine. I’ve been working on getting his sleep schedule sorted out so that he’s a little more content.

Daniel still swaddles him much better than I do!

It’s been fun watching him do more baby things instead of newborn things…he’s spending a lot more time looking around and taking things in. His eyes get so big when he sees something that fascinates him!

He’s also gaining weight like a champ…he had gained back all the weight he lost from birth within 2-3 days, and then he gained an additional 2 pounds in the last couple of weeks. I can’t wait to hear what he’s up to when we go back to the pediatrician next week for his next well visit!

He’s definitely growing so quickly.

He has been an absolutely precious addition to our family. I am so thankful that the Lord saw fit to give him to us. <3

{peace, be still}

We are entering a slower time here in my sunny south. The weather is gently changing to cooler nights and brisk days. Leaves are spiraling down from the trees in the perfect dance between them and the breeze…I love autumn.

I love the slower pace. I love seeing a tangible reminder of the old things being stripped away in preparation for the new growth to come.

It is a season of changing and remembering; of thankfulness. Of remembering that even in the storms of life, we are to just be still…. peace, be still. It is a reminder to rest in the promises of our Father above to sustain us, to hold us, and to set us exactly where we need to go- it’s beautiful.

Just as the weather is shifting, I too am in a season of growing…of changing. Each and every day brings my husband and I closer to the arrival date of our precious son. I’m feeling my body be stretched to limits I didn’t realize it had. Even in the midst of being in pain for various reasons, or being so sick to my stomach that I wonder if I will ever enjoy food again, every day I carry little Oliver is a blessing, even when I feel like I can’t possibly go any further. After having experienced a loss and then having some really scary moments earlier on with this pregnancy, I am so much more aware of what a gift it is to be carrying a child that is doing well, growing, and seems to be flourishing. Every time I feel him kick or have the hiccups, I am reminded of the Lord’s tender mercies in knitting him together in my womb. I am praying that just as my body is growing and stretching to accommodate my growing boy, the Lord is growing my heart into what it needs to be so that my actions and words will always point back to Christ, especially as this new endeavor of motherhood becomes one of my greatest life works.

I’m watching my husband transform into such a wonderful daddy- he cares for me so tenderly, and prays over me and our growing son every single day. Watching him assemble the baby crib this past week made me want to sit and cry with thankfulness over the Lord’s goodness in bringing us together. Our discussions very much revolve now around what would be best for all three of us, whether it be short-term or long-term goals, or even just day-to-day decision making about what we will eat or what we want to work on around the house.

Even as the storms of life seem to rage and roar around us, I am thankful that the Lord provides peace and rest in Him. I am thankful that in this season, He has provided dear friends and wonderful opportunities for growth. I am thankful that even though I am ready to reach the finish line with this pregnancy, He is there- ever constant, ever faithful…ever reminding me through His wondrous works that I simply need to faithfully walk this race He has set me on…faithfully follow Him wherever He leads…and to be still and quiet as I rest in His goodness and mercy to me. Peace, be still….