Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ellie's Birth Story

Preface

After going back and forth several times, my OB, Mike and I felt that bringing baby Ellie into the world via induction was the best course of action to take considering:

1. How far dilated I was: 3-4cm and 80% effaced along with the fact that I was heavily colonized with GBS (a bacteria found in 30-50% of adults -- harmless to the adult but can be fatal to infants who contract it during delivery).  Usually being GBS positive is no big deal -- you just get penicillin during labor and you're worry free.  Well, some people, including me, don't fight off GBS as well as the normal adult and it becomes "heavily" colonized which increases the chances of the baby becoming infected during delivery.  I tried to not let this worry me and trust that I would receive the penicillin once I went into labor and all would be well.  BUT, after I had my "bloody show" I knew I was dilating more and more and began to worry that the bacteria could travel into my uterus before labor began (I had read testimonials of this when I first researched heavily colonized GBS).  So I met with my doctor on 6.19 and she told Mike and I that although rare she couldn't promise me this wouldn't happen.  So, we all decided that we would induce the following day!  

I felt nervous thinking about my induction experience with Eli.  I felt guilty for evicting Ellie before she decided to come on her own.  Yet, I felt empowered knowing I was making this decision not because I was uncomfortable and ready to be done with pregnancy (trust me I was!) but because I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if something were to happen to her in my womb when I could have prevented it. Most of all, I felt so excited knowing that I would meet my daughter probably within the next 24-36 hours!!!

That night I took Eli to Baskin Robins and we had our last date before Ellie.  We let him stay up until 9:30 and I sang him to sleep with tears.  Once Eli was in bed, Mike and I made our final preparations for the hospital and went to bed ourselves.  It was at least 11:30 before I fell asleep and I woke up at 3:30 -- of course, Mike was snoring all night long!  I was too excited to go back to sleep and got into the shower around 4:30. My mom arrived at 5:30 and we headed to the hospital!


Ellie's Birth Story


Mike and I didn't talk much on our way to the hospital.  I commented on how light it was outside and we talked a little bit about how we hoped for a good nurse.  I think we were both a little nervous!  You never know what could happen with an induction and all we had to compare it to was Eli's which was fairly traumatic for both of us.  When we arrived at the hospital it was already a little hot and humid but the sunrise and sky were so beautiful.  This really put me in the right place -- thinking that God was already blessing the day with His beauty!

We checked into the maternity ward  at 6 am and were shown to our room.  We unpacked and a nurse came in to ask questions and get set up for the induction.  We knew she was not our nurse because shift change was at 7 -- which was when we met our nurse, Tammy.  She was very nice and outgoing and upbeat!  Exactly what we had hoped for!  At 7:06 she hooked me up to the pitocin drip.  She started me on a very low dose as to mimic natural labor as much as possible.  At 8:00 I still couldn't feel any contractions.  Around 8, my OB, Dr. Finkle, came to check in with me and break my water; stating that it would help quicken the labor and I could have Ellie by lunch time!  This was incredibly uncomfortable and, after several tries, she could not get the membranes to break!  All that pain for nothing!  The plan was for Dr. Finkle to come back during her lunch break and try again.

I requested a birthing ball because I couldn't get up and walk around due to the fact that I was on pitocin and they needed to constantly monitor baby's heartbeat.  I also knew that I would be bedridden once I got my epidural.  And, trust me, I was going to get an epidural NO MATTER WHAT!  For the next hour or so the contractions were so mild that I was able to comfortably watch the Golden Girls (btw, I LOVE the fact that I can include the Golden Girls in my daughter's birth story!!!) while Mike played around on his computer.  At 10:00 my contractions start to get mildly painful -- like a 3-4 on a  scale of 10.  So, we called in Tammy and she contacted the Anesthesiologist to come in for a quick consult -- his name was Constantine, he was VERY informative.  We shared our concerns about the epidural and our previous experience with wrong placement and ineffective pain management.  He advised that because my water hadn't broken to wait and see how my cervix would progress with the pitocin.  So he left and I continued to bounce on the ball while the contractions continued to get worse and worse.  I got up to go the the bathroom and noticed I was leaking mucus and fluid -- I was pretty sure my water had broken (it later was confirmed that it had).  Once I had to moan through my contractions we knew it was time to get him back in -- I'd compare these contractions to a pain very similar to my hydronephrosis pain from 6 weeks ago (except for that pain was constant).  It was about 11:00 when Constantine arrived and he went straight to work.  He talked us through the each step of the process.  First he sterilized my back and then I had to stay very still while he inserted the catheter in my back.  This was hard when I was contracting but Mike and my nurse helped me breath through them.  Once the catheter was placed he did a trial dose  of the meds and all was well -- no metallic taste in my mouth or ringing in my ears like last time!  He then hooked up the "real" goodness.  He said I would feel between 5-6 more contractions and he was right and they were painful like contractions should be!  But then, the glorious medicine started to melt my pain away and I was incredibly thankful; it was heavenly.  The pain was gone but I could still feel and move my legs; it was a perfect epidural!  Constantine stayed in the room for a few more minutes to make sure everything was working well and we thanked him tremendously before he left.

At noon Tammy checked my cervix and called me a 5-6.  I was excited!  The pitocin was doing its job!  Shortly after Dr. Finkle came to check my progress and she called me a 5.  My excitement diminished a little because -- according to her estimate -- I had only progressed 1-2 cm in 5 hours.  I was thinking this could be a looooooooooong induction!  However, she felt that things were going really well and that I would have Ellie by 3pm!  How exciting!  This was also the time that I started to shake, itch and feel nauseated.  I remembered this exact feeling with Eli's birth.  Tammy got me a -- for lack of better words -- "barf bag" just in case I were to throw up.  Once these subsided (the itching really never did, only got worse) Mike and I were able to talk, watch a movie and relax!

I started to feel some pressure during contractions around 1:30ish.  I called Tammy and she check my cervix; she said I was a NINE!  Holy moly it was almost go time!  I started to get really nervous and we all talked strategy.  Tammy knew that I had pushed for nearly 3 hours with Eli -- which was somewhat traumatic for me.  Recovery was terrible.  She knew I wanted to avoid this at all costs.  She did not think I would push for that long by any means but was okay with waiting as long as possible to push.  She said she would be back in 10 minutes to check me again!

The nerves really hit me and Mike could tell.  We prayed and I called my mom to tell her to head to the hospital.  I was hoping she would get there in time to witness the birth.  The pressure from the contractions was so intense.  Tammy came back and I was at 10! I was still reluctant to start pushing and asked if we could wait -- she had me do a couple of practice pushes and said I was moving baby really well.  We talked it out and she said she would let me wait 10 more minutes to start pushing (she thought that if I had started pushing right then and there it would take about 30 minutes).  I took the 10 minutes and squeezed Mike's hand HARD when I was contracting.  At this point it was hard not to push.

We knew we were now in the "there is no turning back and this baby is coming out SOON" zone so Mike turned off the TV and turned on the Spotify channel Casting Crowns.  Tammy came back and told me baby was one inch away from the opening of my vagina.  We decided to push and I got naked.  That is how I pushed with Eli and I was feeling hot anyways.  We pushed through two contractions -- a total of 6 pushes -- and she said,  "Okay next push and baby is coming so I am going to page Dr. Finkle and the other delivery specialist to assist."  I knew Dr. Finkle was at least 5 minutes away and I knew it was going to be killer not to push.  I must have had 3 contractions before she arrived and one while she was in the room getting prepped for delivery.  It took all I had not to push.

The next contraction Dr. Finkle was ready to assist with and I pushed three times.  Still no baby.  I thought Tammy said next push?!?!  The next contraction it got real.  Yep, ring of fire all over again.  When her head was crowning I felt more than pressure, I felt the worst type of pain a woman ever feels -- ya know, the one where your lady parts are being ripped open?  Even though I knew it was almost over I felt like I could stop pushing and just wanted her to come out already!!!  Dr. Finkle had to stop me and tell me to re-group.  I could hear Mike's voice start to change from encouragement to excitement -- I knew he could see her head. Finally, I heard that joyous "One more push" and I pushed with all my might!  I felt her come out and right away the Dr. Finkle let me pull Ellie up to my chest.  Pure. Relief. Pure. Joy.

The love I felt for my daughter while she lay on my chest  was so overwhelming -- I've never felt so complete in my life.  I noticed that when she was born the song Love Song by Third Day was playing.  Seriously, there couldn't have been a better song to be heard as we welcomed Ellie into the world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zqYJj5ucG8

Lyrics:


I've heard it said that a man would climb a mountain
Just to be with the one he loves.
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done.
I've never climbed the highest mountain,
But I walked the hill of Calvary.

Just to be with you, I will do anything
There's no price I would not pay no
Just to be with you, I would give everything
I would give my life away.

I've heard it said that a man would swim the ocean
Just to be with the one he loves
All of those dreams are an empty motion.
It can never be done.
I've never swam the deepest ocean,
But I walked upon the raging sea.

Just to be with you, I will do anything
There's no price I would not pay no
Just to be with you, I would give everything
I would give my life away.

I know that you don't understand
the fullness of My love.
How I died upon the cross for your sins.
And I know that you don't realize
how much that I give you
But I promise, I would do it all again.

Just to be with you, I've done everything
There's no price I did not pay no
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away.
Just to be with you.

The precious moments after birth will forever be embedded in my mind.  Holding my gorgeous daughter covered in the milky white vernix.  Listening to her softly, sweetly cry.  Seeing my husband with the look of pure joy on his face.  Watching her get weighed and measured.  Putting her to my breast and her latching on so perfectly sucking away at the colostrum my body had prepared for her.  It was miraculous.  She is my miracle.  She is my daughter.  

My mom arrived 4 minutes after she was born.  She was sad to have missed the birth but thrilled that both Ellie and I were healthy!  I loved seeing the look of delight on my mom's face as she met her 2nd granddaughter for the 1st time.  In our family there is a precious bond between grandmother's and granddaughters and I know that Ellie and my mom and Mike's mom will share this too!

Meanwhile, on the postpartum end of things Dr. Finkle was sewing me up and stated that I had a second degree tear.  I thought, okay, I can handle that... I think.  Well, turns out I could handle it and did very well.  This birth was a completely different experience than my last.  I only pushed for maybe a total of 5 minutes!  What a difference!!  Because the time spent pushing was so short, I had barely any swelling.  The doctors and especially nurses at St. Luke's East took wonderful care of us during our hospital stay.  Mike and I were able to get lots of rest while tending to Ellie.  We didn't have any visitors except for immediate family and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Rest is so important for new parents!!  We went home exactly 48 hours after she was born.  That was a week ago and things couldn't be going any smoother than they are!  We are so in love with our little girl!!!

After what seemed to be the longest pregnancy, starting with total exhaustion in the first trimester to finding out about the tennis ball sized SCH (blood clot) at 14 weeks which increased the chances of late term miscarriage by up to 30% to a painful bout of hydronephrosis in the third trimester, we received the most amazing prize:

Ellie Angell Stephens was born on 6.20.13 
at 2:41pm 
weighing 8lbs 1oz 
and measuring 20 1/4 inches long.  

She is perfect.  May ALL the honor, praise, and glory be given to Our Lord Jesus Christ!!!

Here is a link to the video slide show Mike made of the day she was born.  It is amazing!!!


Thanks again for all of your prayers and thoughts during these last nine months.  I can assure you that they didn't go unnoticed and that we are forever thankful for them.  Ellie was worth it all!!!

XoXo,

Alison



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Week 40: THE CULMINATION WEEK -- 6.16 - 6.20

The days before Ellie was born were bitter sweet.  Bitter because I was getting so huge and uncomfortable and I was just so anxious to meet my daughter that I could barely think about anything but when I was going to go into labor.  Sweet because I knew these were our last moments as a family of three and I wanted to soak up every little moment with Eli as I could.  We had such a great time and I will always cherish these precious moments before baby sister came into the picture.




Baby Milestones this Week:  She is fully "cooked" and ready to enter the world!

Best Moment of the Week:  The Birth of Ellie Angell Stephens on 6.20.13 at 2:41 pm. 






Obsession this Week:  Thinking... When am I going to go into labor? Analyzing every last sign of labor.

Symptoms this Week:  Huge drop in energy on Sunday 6.16.  Picked back up Monday -- had my "bloody show."

What I'm looking forward to most next week:  Meeting sweet Ellie!  Holding her, nursing her, cuddling with her, talking and singing to her, watching Eli interact with her, etc, etc.





What is different this time around?  The biggest difference is that Eli came into the world at 39w 2d gestation and Ellie arrived at 39w 5d.



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow!

You guessed it!  We we be welcoming our darling daughter into the world TOMORROW!!!

6.20.2013 -- a date in which our lives will be forever changed.  

I still haven't grasped that I will be holding my sweet, sweet Ellie in possibly less than 24 hours.  I've dreamed of this day for months and I am beyond excited.

My emotions are ALL over the place -- excitement, nervousness, feeling sad that my last moments with just Eli are finally here.  (But, I've been a trooper the last few weeks and we have had a blast together!)  Most of all, I am just so anxious to meet her.  HER. God is so good.  He truly has given me the desire of my heart -- a daughter.  And, she is strong one!  She has held out and persevered!

There are a few reasons my doctor as well as Mike and I are choosing to induce two days before her actual due date.  1. Protection from GBS 2. Calculations of a nearly 9lb baby 3. I am 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced so I am well on my way!

Please, please pray for a quick and relatively easy labor.  Also, specifically for my recovery process -- so minimal tearing.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for joining the journey of this MIRACULOUS pregnancy.  I can't believe we are at the very end.  If I know one thing and one thing only it is that we wouldn't be here with out our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  May ALL glory be given to Him!

XOXO,

Ali


PS One last bump picture from yesterday!

39 weeks 3days

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 38 AND 39 -- The THIS IS IT or IS THIS IT??? Weeks -- 6.2 - 6.15

Two for the price of one this week!

I assure you that the reason I didn't blog last week is NOT laziness.  I have been bit by the "nesting bug."  I have had SO much energy, much more than any other part of this pregnancy.  Mike has even commented on how good it is to have me back.  :)  The energy showed up a couple of weeks ago and hasn't left yet.  Fingers crossed!  

We've done a lot the past couple of weeks -- here is a just a small list:

carpets cleaned, house deep cleaned, final touches on nursery, zoo trip, hair highlighted, 2 OB appts, celebrated father's day, spent lots of time with E man, and went swimming FOUR times (I think it is safe to say the summer has officially arrived in KC -- finally!!)




Kate and Eli passed out after a fun day at the zoo!

Super blonde -- at first I didn't like but Mike really does and I have warmed up to it!

Eli loves the hose -- just like he did last year!  He likes to spray Sammie and water the trees!  

Baby Milestones this Week:  38 She may have about an inch or so of hair already -- red or blonde? (or maybe even brown if he takes after her grandmas').  She's slowly shedding that white goo on her skin (called vernix caseosa) but we might see some of it at her birth. 39 She's probably able to flex her limbs now.  Her brain is still rapidly developing -- she's getting smarter by the week!  Her nails may extend past her fingertips.

Best Moment of the Week:  On 6.8 Mike went to one of his buddy's diaper dump poker party and at first I was a little bummed because 1.) Mike has been working some pretty long hours and we haven't seen him a lot and 2.) I was thinking this could be the last weekend just the three us (Of course I would never ask him to miss the party but I was just feeling a little down about it).  However, that feeling quickly changed once he left and I looked at Eli and realized that we could have a little date of our own!  Perhaps, the last before Ellie arrives.  We went through the McD's drive through and went to a local park.  We had a BLAST!  I cried several times thinking about how things will change very soon and how Eli and I have loved our time at parks since the very beginning.  It was a true blessing for us to have this time together before baby sister joins us!  


Love this boy!
Obsession this Week:  CLEANING!  ORGANIZING!  CHECKING OFF TO DO LISTS!  LAST MINUTE SHOPPING!

Analyzing every "early" labor symptom I may get:  cramps, energy, contractions, loss of MP -- then thinking this is it! or is this it?  


Getting anxious and excited to go into labor and, most of all, meet my daughter!

Symptoms this Week:  Energy!  Gradually loss of my mucus plug -- I think?  On 6.15 from 2-4 in the morning I did have contractions timing 5-7 minutes apart but then they fizzled off...

Oh, yeah and more stretch marks... BOO!

What I'm looking forward to most next week: The birth of my daughter -- Ellie Angell Stephens!  We shall see!  Saturday 6.22 is her official due date.  Mike thinks she will be born 6.21 at 6:30pm weighing 7lbs 6oz and 21'' long.  I think she will come Sunday 6.23 at 3pm weighing 8lbs 15oz and 20'' long.  Anyone else wanna take a guess!?!

At our 39 week appoint I was 2-3 centimeters and 50% effaced with a soft cervix.  I scheduled our 40 week appointment and a NST for Monday June 24 (2 days post due) and an induction for Thursday June 27th (5 days post due) if she doesn't arrive before (really, REALLY hoping she does!).

Oh, with Eli at 38 weeks I had gain exactly 20lbs.  Currently, I've gained 15lbs but started 5lbs heavier than with Eli so I weigh exactly what I did last time around -- just with more stretch marks :( :(

What is different this time around?

LOTS -- last time at 38 weeks (late August) the weather had just started to cool down.  This time (early June) the weather has finally started to get HOT.  I've enjoyed going swimming with my big belly!

Also, last time at 38w 6d we had our "big scare" when I woke up to a pool of blood had some major clotting.  We were worried that my placenta was detaching and rushed to the hospital to -- thank God -- find out everything was fine with Eli.  However, when it happened again 24 hours later the doctor decided to induce me at 39 w 2d and Eli was born on 9.14 at 5:09pm.

I think was more uncomfortable last pregnancy in the final days.  Maybe it was because I was still working?  Not sure.  

38/39 Week Belly Pics:

Change Up -- Me in my maternity suit!  So glad I've actually been able use it!  



38.5 weeks with Eli, I was smaller.
We are almost there!  I am BEYOND excited and a little nervous!  Keep saying your prayers for me, Mike, Eli and especially, Ellie!!

Xo, 

Ali

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Week 37: The FULL TERM Week -- Hip, hip horaaay! 5/26 - 6/1

I didn't reach what is considered "full term" until the end of the week (6/1) but I am still really psyched about this accomplishment!  Mike and I were just discussing how 5 months ago our OB told us there was pretty much no way we would have a full term baby.  And, went on to say that if we did make it to 24 weeks we would have a severely deformed child.  (Those were her exact words and it was horrifying.)  Well, she was wrong and we couldn't be happier about that!

I wonder how much longer will this little girl enjoy my womb?  For me, now that we have reached this awesome milestone I wouldn't mind going into labor anytime from here on out.  We have crossed off most of the "biggies" from our to list and will survive if we don't get the rest done before she arrives.  Mike, on the other hand, really wants me to make it to my due date because it is more convenient for his work schedule.  Hmmm...  I wonder if he was the one carrying a 7-8 lb baby, if he would still feel that way???  Ha!  But, quite honestly, if it means that when he is home with us he isn't bothered by work than I want to go June 22nd as well.

Mike is taking TWO weeks off this time.  With Eli he only took a week and it just was not enough.  My recovery was slow and I wasn't even walking good when he went back to work.  My main request was that he stay home with us (uninterrupted) for two whole weeks.  That way if my recovery is anything like last time he will be home to take care of me and Eli so I can take care of  baby Ellie.

Besides reaching full term, this week was pretty crappy because I was still sick.  Mike tried his best to come home and let me rest but all the mucus in my throat made it nearly impossible to get any good sleep!  Boo!  Now is the time I need the most sleep!  Glad that as I'm writing this (Sun) I am beginning to feel better -- thank you Lord!

Baby Milestones this Week:

Week 37:

  • Ellie's practicing some skills: inhaling, exhaling, sucking, gripping and blinking.
  • She's getting her first sticky poop (called meconium) ready for her first diaper (Which Mike will be changing in the hospital - ha!)


  • Best Moment(S) of the Week: Last Friday my sister called me and I could barely speak I was so choked up. I was sick, Eli was sick and -- to say the least -- I. lost. it.  I haven't lost it for a while and by that I mean have a good sobby cry.  I think it just all caught up with me in that moment.  Well, my sister, being the "Angell" she is, took my small break down as an opportunity to be a blessing and planned for my neighbors to bring me meals ALL week!  How sweet of her and how gracious for all of my neighbors to volunteer to drop off yummy meals!  It was such relief to know there would be food on the table each night and I didn't have to make it!  :)  Thanks to all involved!!

    On Friday, we had our maternity pictures taken!  A neighbor took the shots and even though Eli wanted NOTHING to do with it but I think she captured how in love we are with our baby girl!  Thanks Courtney's Captures!  You can check out her work at:

    http://www.courtneyscaptures.com/

    Here are a few of my fav's













    On  Saturday, I attended a good friend's Twin Shower for her and her babies!  It was one of the nicest showers I've ever attended.  I totally gorged myself with all the yummy food!  It was seriously fabulous.  I've got an excuse right?  You know what I am talking about -- the "Hey, I'm eating for two" line pregnant women love to use.  Only for three more weeks for my entire life will I have THAT excuse and I plan on using it everyday from here til she is born! :)

    Also, my BIL, David, planned a Diaper Dump Poker Party for Mike that took place on Saturday.  Mike had a really good time and we are VERY grateful for all of the diapers we received -- I'm sure months and months worth!  We are blessed!

    Obsession of the Week:  Hot tea, throat spray, cough drops, etc

    Symptoms of the Week:  I've added two new stretch marks to my one that appeared during my pregnancy with Eli -- oh the joys...

    Epiphany the Week:  Life is good when you are surrounded by good people.  Here's the story:  On Friday, I was SO exhausted and I couldn't keep up with Eli -- he had woken really early because he heard the thunder.  To make matters worse our power was out due to the crazy storms we were having.  My parents basement flooded so I couldn't ask my mom to come help.  SO....  I walked Eli over to my neighbor, Jennifer's, and with no notice and no power to entertain the kids -- she took Eli for a few hours while I slept!   What a blessing that was!!!  Thank you Jen!!!

    What I'm looking forward to most next week:  Holding Ellie!  Can't a girl dream?!?!  She probably won't come next week but I wouldn't mind if she did!  But, if that doesn't happen, I just look forward to spending my last moments with "just Eli" and as a family of three!

    What is different this time around?  I haven't yet stepped into a pool!  Come on summer!!!  I loved all my pregnancy swims two summers ago and would like to take a dip or two before she arrives!!

    To do list: (red is new)

    Time to PRIORITIZE!

    *Freeze a couple of meals for when she comes

    *Buy:
    nursing tanks
    fabric
    diaper caddy for her changing table
    milk storage bags -- plan on starting her on a bottle at a week so that Mike and I can get out of the house before she is 20 months old!  Ha!
    *Buy a new cover for our glider -- I contacted a alterationist from our neighborhood, hope the price is right!
    *Hire a cleaning service and carpet cleaning (June 6th) service for when we are in the hospital  Cleaning is coming June 10th
    * Organize the garage -- this really needs to be done because it is driving Mike and I crazy!  But, it is a BIG chore and I'm not so sure we are going to have the time!  

    We've about checked EVERYTHING off our list.  I'm not sure if we will get around to freezing any meals but that is okay -- Mike said, we'll just do easy stuff for a while.  I am going to send my mom to Sam's club while we are in the hospital to pick up lots of fresh fruit and veggies (that is what I crave after I give birth).  

    37 Week Belly Pics:

    I feel like I am lower with Ellie than I was with Eli at 37 weeks -- maybe she will come sooner?!?!



    With Eli -- August 2011

    Thanks for your continued support and prayers!  We can't wait to meet our daughter here in a couple of weeks!

    XO,

    Ali