{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! 😀

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”.  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. 🙂 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. 

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.  😀

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.  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. 😀

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. 🙂

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

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