5:00 A.M. (the day before)
That first contraction hit me like a ton of bricks.
I jumped out of bed. Actually, hobbled would be more accurate. My emotions started to race as the contractions came steadily, every 10 minutes. I rushed around the house hurriedly like a little mouse finishing up the laundry, packing a few final things in my hospital bag and setting out clothes for the kids. I ran through a mental check list of all the things I would need. Did I have my camera? Did I pack a coming home outfit for the baby? Where oh where were my pajamas and why couldn’t I find my slippers?!?
My heart was racing, I let my excitement get the best of me. I kept thinking “I’m finally going to have this baby!” The last two weeks had been torture. Between the back pain, the stop and go contractions, the all day nausea and the lack of sleep I was so ready to finally be done with this pregnancy. I’d pleaded my case in my prayers more times than I’d like to admit as I paced the halls each night like an insomniac.
But it was finally here, or was it? Oh that nagging question! The one that always popped into my head. Was it really go time? Or was it just more false labor? Then another contraction would hit me, and I was sure I needed to go directly to the hospital. Yeah, those contractions hurt like no other. I definitely didn’t experience that with my last pregnancy.
Quite the contrary, actually. With my previous labor, which was the birth of my son, I received a random phone call from my OBGYN explaining that he was going out of town and wouldn’t be in the office for my 37 week appointment. He needed me to come in that day to get checked. I told him I wasn’t feeling well and that I didn’t want to come in, but he insisted; so in I went. Turns out I was dilated to a five and 90% effaced. He looked at me wide-eyed and asked if I had been having any contractions. I replied “Well yeah, but I’m always contracting.” Thank you, irritable uterus for constant contractions. So I was sent immediately upstairs to labor and delivery with my 13 month-old daughter in tow. I ended up having Lincoln later that evening.
With this recent pregnancy, I was afraid something similar might happen. But I was 39 weeks pregnant and my last checkup showed no signs of dilation or effacement. I finally calmed down and convinced myself to wait until the contractions grew closer together. Unfortunately, the hours kept rolling by and the contractions stayed steadily 10 minutes apart. So I waited…and waited and waited. To keep my mind from going crazy I took the kids to the swimming pool. Taking a 1 ½ and 2 ½ year old to the pool was sure to do the trick, right? Well, when that didn’t work my husband and I took them to the park after their nap and then I went and walked a couple of miles. That didn’t seem to do the trick either. So I made a huge dinner with all the fix-ins. Josh’s two younger brothers just happened to be in town visiting us so it was easy to stay busy. Once I finally put the kids down for bed, I had given up on the idea that this baby was going to come anytime soon, in spite of the painful contractions.
I went to my room to wallow in self-pity, but by this point I was pretty miserable. Josh and his brothers left to go play basketball since I figured it was nothing more than false labor. Somewhere around midnight I finally dozed off for about half an hour only to be awoken abruptly at 1:00 A.M. by a contraction that had me yelling out for my husband. He wasn’t in bed so I ran through the house looking for him. I finally found him taking a shower in the guest bathroom. Between weighted breaths, I told him we were leaving immediately for the hospital. I needed an epidural ASAP. He calmly told me I needed to call the hospital first and that we should wait a few hours while we tracked the contractions. I crumbled into his arms and immediately started sobbing. I really couldn’t take one more minute of being pregnant, not one more minute.
In the end, I listened to his advice. The contractions finally grew closer together and when I called the hospital they told me to come in. Once we got in the car the contractions increased in frequency and strength. They were coming in waves every 5 minutes.
After a 40 minute drive to the hospital we finally got checked in around 3:30 A.M. As the nurse went to check my cervix I just kept praying I would be dilated. Even just a little bit! Just please, oh please don’t send me home because that back labor stuff was getting the best of me. She told me I was dilated to a five and Josh and I instantly high-fived each other. I felt like screaming “Hallelujah!” Those words were like music to my ears!
I had high hopes or maybe delusional hopes that I might be able to have a natural child birth, but back labor definitely got the best of me. So I asked, or rather begged for an epidural right away. Unfortunately, my epidural didn’t start until 5:45. According to my husband, at one point I angrily yelled at the nurse “I want an epidural!” during the height of a contraction, which was quickly followed by an apology for yelling. I'm really not one to yell.
At 7:00 A.M. I asked the nurse to check me again, she was a little bit hesitant but I was sure it was go time. I was dilated to a nine and a half. By the time the mid-wife came in along with the other nurses, I was ready to start pushing. I had hoped for a super easy birth like my last one where I pushed twice and he came right out, but this one took a little more work. I couldn’t seem to get into a very good position to push.
Josh was awesome at coaching me through each and every contraction. He would encourage me to give it my all on each push. I think all those years of team sports resulted in him being a world-class pushing motivator. Ha! But honestly, I’m grateful I had him by my side to be my support. On a side note, he was actually scheduled to be on a business trip that exact day all the way in Florida. Luckily, he decided last minute to stay home. Boy, am I glad he was there with me! I pushed and pushed with all my might and the baby finally crowned. I hate that awkward in-between stage where the doctor tells you that they can see the head, but you still have to keep pushing, because by that point I’m thinking “Just get this child out of me!” A few more pushes and out she came.
Sweet Vivienne Margaret Coffin was born at 7:25 A.M. on Thursday the 19th. She weighed 7 lbs 5 oz. and was 20 inches long.
That moment when the mid-wife laid her on my chest made every minute of the months and months of nausea, fatigue and pain worth it. Heaven. It’s absolute Heaven. The first time your eyes meet with your newborn and you instantly feel as though your souls have known each other forever. There’s an overwhelming wave of emotion that leaves me with a complete lack of words. There’s nothing as sweet as those first few minutes. I’ll treasure those for the rest of my life.
As I held my sweet baby girl, I couldn’t help but tell the nurse that I was having a hard time breathing. I knew how important skin to skin was, but I felt as though something was sitting atop my lungs (besides the baby I was holding). I finally mustered the courage to ask Josh to hold the baby for me since I was struggling to breath. I chalked it up to the fact that I was just exhausted and had pushed a child out of my lady parts. You know, that’s quite the feat for one day. The nurse immediately started running tests. It got harder and harder to breathe. I thought maybe it was the monitors that were strapped to me so I had her take those off, but that didn’t provide me with any relief. I was given an oxygen mask, an EKG was ordered and compression sleeves that pumped the blood in my legs to reduce the chance of a blood clot were applied to my legs.
Both the anesthesiologists were called in to check on me. The first anesthesiologist came in and turned off my epidural and told me I had been given too much medicine. He said he believed it had traveled up my spine instead of down, but to be sure they still had to run additional tests. So in came a technician with an EKG, I was covered in small electrodes as they monitored my heart. The compression devices continued to pump my legs and the nurses did tests to monitor where my sense of feeling started and stopped.
After about an hour or so later I felt as though I could finally breath again. I’m afraid I put Josh through quite the shock as doctors, technicians and nurses raced in and out of the room. Thank goodness my nurse had studied that exact scenario the night before in preparation for her upcoming re-certification. She was quick to act before I lost the ability to breathe on my own. I'm so grateful for her quick actions and thoroughness.
Once I could breathe again, I stole that precious baby back from my husband. Nothing could stop me from soaking in that newborn baby goodness now!
A few hours later we were moved to the postpartum room. We finally got to take a nap around 3:00 P.M., which meant that we had both been awake for nearly 34 hours straight. Most people pull their first all-nighter in college, somehow I missed that boat entirely. I pulled my first all-nighter during my third child birth. I’d like to talk to whoever said that child birth gets easier each time!
The next day was such a blur. This hospital didn’t have a nursery like our two previous hospitals. Let me tell you that a nursery is a God-send. I realize that skin to skin and being close to your baby is of the utmost importance. But, getting a little bit of shut-eye is also amazing for a new mom. Not having the option to have your baby watched for just an hour was a little bit frustrating. So Josh and I, in our exhaustion, took turns napping…or rather trying to nap. It seems that every time you fall asleep someone comes rushing into your room with some menial task. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for wonderful nurses, but I’d much rather you didn’t come into my room to tell me that you’re switching shifts.
The following day Josh’s brothers brought Madeline and Lincoln to the hospital to visit Vivienne. I’ll never forget the look on Madeline’s face as she saw the new baby. We had talked quite a bit about the new baby that would be joining our family soon in the previous weeks. I watched her face as she put together the pieces. Mommy’s tummy had shrunk and now I was holding a baby. She sweetly asked me if she could “take care of the baby.” So she hopped into the bed and smothered the baby with kisses and hugs. Lincoln on the other hand, was entirely consumed with the balloons that my grandparents had sent to our room. At one point he did come over and hug and kiss the baby as well as give me a snuggle.
Being away from them for an entire day and a half was really difficult for me! I almost never leave my kids. Occasionally I get a babysitter, but I’m only ever gone for a few hours and there are only a few babysitters I actually trust. We decided to check out of the hospital early so we could spend time as a family together.
But before we checked out we took some photos with our new family of five. FIVE. It still gets me every time I say it. How do I have a family of five? In case your wondering on the spacing of our children it goes like this, Madeline is 2 ½ and Lincoln is 1 ½ they are 13 months apart and Lincoln and Vivienne are 18 months apart. We’ve officially joined the madness of 3 under 3. We’ve gotten quite a few comments on how closely spaced together our children are, but honestly I love it! I love that my children have built-in friends and that I can focus all my efforts on this difficult but ever-rewarding baby stage. Sometimes Josh and I joke that we never do anything the easy way. But choosing to do hard things is what stretches us and allows us to grow. It’s taught us to rely on our Heavenly Father and His plan and to trust each other more fully. Josh and I both have a strong testimony of the importance of eternal families.
Our favorite topic for discussion in our home is how to build a strong family. It’s something we feel ever so passionate about. We are continually looking for ways to become better today than we were yesterday. Having the opportunity to raise these sweet children has helped us each to grow so much individually, but even more so together. There’s no way I could accomplish this great work without my best friend. Raising children is important work and I’m thankful to have a husband who not only supports me but encourages me every day. Knowing I have someone I can turn to through every trial and challenge we encounter makes life surmountable.
Now that we are have been home for a month, we’ve figured out a new routine to accommodate our ever-growing family. One of the highlights of my day is watching our three children interact with each other. I’ve been impressed with the gentleness that Lincoln has displayed with his baby sister. He’s a large 1 ½ year old and he’s incredibly strong, though luckily he doesn’t know his own strength. Yet, he manages to creep every so gently towards baby Vivienne to give her kiss on the head and a little nuzzle. Madeline has once again taken greatly to the role of big sister. She loves to be a “helper” and grab whatever item the baby might be in need of.
I’ve heard the phrase “Love isn’t divided, it’s multiplied” and each time I have a child I’m amazed at the profound truth this simple statement holds. My heart continues to find a way to grow with love each time we welcome a new member into our family. Even though I’m exhausted, and the bags under my eyes are growing darker by the day, my heart feels as though it could burst.
This really is the good life.