Joyful Motherhood--

Influenced by our Catholic faith,
Charlotte Mason, Lifelong Learning
and the
Everyday Realities of Homeschooling and Family Life


Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Arrival of Maria Grace!

11 days old. That's how old Maria Grace is today as I begin writing this. Most likely, she will be several days older by the time I actually post this, as writing time is rare for obvious reasons. Heck, it was rare before the baby arrived!

But this has to be written down. I have a birth story written down for each of our babes, and I treasure being able to read them and recall the details of their arrival.

This new blessing from God is already teaching me lessons, helping me to become a better mom, to become closer to God.

First of all, she has reminded me that life is full of surprises and we should never think we know what to expect.
Three day before the delivery, ready to take Veronica out to dinner and to a movie :)
As I posted a couple of weeks ago, I had been having nightly contractions for the three weeks prior to her actual birthday. I thought this meant labor might be shorter. This is our fifth baby. I thought this meant that labor might be easier.

I was wrong.

Maria Grace was born at 3:54 am on the morning of Monday, June 13th, weighing 9 lb 12 oz and was 21 1/2 inches long.

Labor began at home on Saturday night. At about 8 pm, contractions began and were regular and more intense than what I'd been experiencing the weeks prior. They continued throughout the night, each one taunting me, causing me to hope that it was finally time, making sleep elusive. To go to the hospital, they needed to become as often as five minutes apart.

I got out of bed on Sunday thinking we would be going to the hospital within a couple of hours. My sister-in-law Alicia came and picked up our children and took them to her family's house for a birthday party, which I was very grateful for. I ended up laboring at home most of the day.

Throughout Sunday, contractions were 15 minutes apart, 10 minutes apart, 8 minutes, 6.5 minutes, 10 minutes, 8 minutes, and on and on. They would become intense, and then they would be milder. On and on the day went, and I became more and more discouraged. Jason made me a turkey sandwich for lunch and we watched Braveheart through the afternoon, trying to distract me. Later, our taste in movies deteriorated as we watched some of Superbad :)

I could feel that the baby was stuck on the right side of my uterus. She had sort of hung out there for most of the pregnancy. I became suspicious that the baby was in the posterior position and that was why labor was not progressing. I have had a posterior baby in the past and I have a tilted uterus, making this all the more likely. Frustrated and discouraged, I read in a childbirth book about how to correct the position, and at about 5:30 pm, I began different exercises and positions to help adjust the position.

After 45 minutes on my hands and knees, I could feel that the baby's body had shifted so that it was more centered in my uterus.

By about 6:30 pm, contractions were down to about every 6 minutes and Jason decided to call the hospital. The charge nurse asked many questions and was probably not going to have us come in yet.

That is until she asked, "Which number baby is this for her?"

"It's our fifth," he answered.

Surprised, she said we should come in. NOW.

Because births of fifth babies are supposed to be faster.

We went to the hospital and contractions became closer together and more intense. I was so very afraid that labor would slow down and I would be sent home. By that time, there had been so many nights where I thought labor was really beginning, and I felt like the boy who cried wolf. This was our first time actually going to the hospital, but I remembered the disappointment I felt during Veronica's labor when we went to the hospital and were sent home.

We were taken to a hospital room, and an IV was placed. The week prior, I had been measured at 3 cm dilated. I was now at 4 cm. Hmmmm. Not a whole lot of progress despite being at almost 24 hours of ongoing, painful contractions.

Wasn't this supposed to be FASTER???

At first, they said that I was going to need to walk around for an hour before being officially admitted. But over the next hour or so, I dilated about another centimeter or so. Thank goodness! We weren't going home and this was the real deal! I was ready to be admitted and we could ring for the anesthesiologist. Epidural time!

About an hour later, the anesthesiologist administered my epidural and I was given some relief. My parents, Jason, Jenny and my cousin Alicia were all suggested to leave for a while, so that I could rest. I tried to rest, but it was pretty much impossible.

My epidural was only really working on one side of my uterus, something that's occurred in other labors as well. I tried to lie on my right side so that the medication would flow to that side. However, that was the side of my uterus that the baby was stuck in previously, and I could feel her body shifting there again.

A little while later, they broke my water.

Labor progressed in intensity, but dilation continued to progress slowly. Something didn't feel right, or at least felt a lot different than in previous labors. I began having severe nausea, wishing I would just throw up already. My body was shaking uncontrollably, something I had only experienced after a birth before. I finally ended up vomiting, giving me a little relief, but not for long. I ended up having a fever, making the doctors fearful of infection.

At about midnight, I was measured at 9 1/2 centimeters dilated. 9 1/2. Just 1/2 of a little centimeter left!

There I stayed. And stayed. And stayed. With Veronica, I was stuck for hours at 9 cm. It just seems crazy that one half of a stinkin' centimeter was all that was between me and giving birth to this baby!

Sometime around this point, Alicia decided to stay. How much longer could it be? (Evil laugh inserted here.)

I tried different positions to help me dilate further. I used their peanut shaped medicine ball. And I waited.

At this point, the epidural was beginning to lose some of its effect. I began to feel parts of labor that I had never felt before because of past epidurals. There was the feeling of immense pressure. I continued to vomit, shake and change positions, waiting for that last little bit of my cervix to move out of the frickin' way!

Somewhere in those last couple of hours, the nurse mentioned to me that there was this magic button I could push to receive more medication from the epidural.

WHAT????!!!

Why had no one, I mean no one, not the anesthesiologist, or any nurse or doctor, mentioned this until now? I recalled using that little button several times in past births, but I had forgotten about it. Immediately the button was pushed. It helped a little, but I didn't have the chance to use this piece of magic much more before it was time (something I explained with detail and passion in my anesthesiologist's survey later on).

Finally, at about 2:45 am, I was fully dilated and ready to push. Still, everything felt wrong. I couldn't explain it, but somehow everything about this birth felt more intense and just a whole lot harder. Pushing the baby out had always been the easy part for me. Not this time. I was sure I was going to pop some blood vessels. I pushed with every little bit of strength I could find, and then tried to find some more. Progress was slow. I continued to push harder than I had ever had to before, frustrated and a little frightened of how difficult it was.

I prayed the Hail Mary, aware of how Mary had been present throughout this pregnancy and aware of her presence in that moment.

Finally, the baby's head was seen. Soon after, everything came to make sense. All of the feelings of uncertainty, fear, strangeness and unfamiliarity made sense:

The baby was turned on it's side, had a hand up by it's face and had the cord wrapped around it's arm.

Right around that time, Hugh Jackman began to sing "Suddenly" from the movie Les Miserables on my Birth Playlist. The song is below with the lyrics at the bottom of the post.

It's as if the Lord chose that song to be played at just that moment to encourage me. 

I became overwhelmed with joy, aware of the miracle that was about to take place. The song distracted me from my pain, and helped me to appreciate this special moment in my life.



When I was pregnant with Veronica, something occurred to me that never had before.

Pregnancy is one of the only times in life when you are actually aware that you are about to meet one of the most important people in your life. You aren't aware when you meet your parents, you don't appreciate when you meet your siblings, you don't know when you are going to meet your future spouse or a lifelong friend.

But for nine months, you anticipate meeting your child, someone who will have an incomprehensible effect on your life and who you will become. 

That meeting was about to happen. Tears flooded my eyes, cascading down my cheeks, so overcome was I by the anticipation of that moment.

During the song, I also realized that there were hands laid on me by several different people who loved me. Jason, my mom, Jenny and Alicia were all there, and I could feel their loving presence, support and encouragement as tangibly as I could feel that the epidural seemed to have lost all effect.

How blessed this child is! To enter the world surrounded by people who loved her, so very loved before even taking her first breath!

Completely overwhelmed by joy and love and strength and inspiration, I was ready for what was to come next.

I had never felt the "ring of fire" before, but I sure did now. I pushed until the baby was crowning, and was then told to stop. The doctor then began to turn the baby slowly, so very slowly, so very excruciatingly.

Finally, I could push again, and with the last push, the baby literally elbowed her way into the world, giving me a 2nd degree tear.

This squirming, vigorous, pink new life announced her arrival with her newborn cry.

It was a girl! Maria Grace. She was healthy, thriving, crying and received a 9 on her Apgar.

She was placed on my chest, and I fell in love all over again.



She is now at home with all of us, and we are each falling more and more in love with her each day, bit by bit, moment by moment, as we get to know this new member of our family!

God is so good!












Suddenly, from Les Miserables

Suddenly you're here
Suddenly it starts
Can two anxious hearts beat as one?
Yesterday I was alone
Today you are beside me
Something still unclear
Something not yet here
Has begun.
Suddenly the world
Seems a different place
Somehow full of grace,
Full of light
How was I to know that so much hope was held inside me?
What has passed is gone
Now we journey on through the night
How was I to know at last
That happiness can come so fast?
Trusting me the way you do
I’m so afraid of failing you
Just a child who cannot know
That danger follows where I go
There are shadows everywhere
And memories I cannot share
Nevermore alone
Nevermore apart
You have warmed my heart like the sun.
You have brought the gift of life
And love so long denied me.
Suddenly I see
What I could not see
Something suddenly
Has begun.












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