Kennedy Faye’s Birth Story (x-posted)

I decided to copy this over from my old blog. Having this posted here will make it easy to compare her birth story to our son’s after he’s born. 

August 16, 2013

Well, my unborn princess decided to be “borned” during the wee hours of the morning on August 14th, and I’ve just now settled down enough to pen her birth story for all who are curious. There are some details that I’d like to share first, though, to give her birth some perspective.

I am at a place now where I can admit publicly that conception of our first child was neither an easy nor quick journey. We stopped preventing pregnancy in April 2011, and we began actively trying to conceive in February 2012. With no reproductive health issues, we just figured it was a slam dunk for us to get there, but it took a little longer than expected. I have other friends who have sought fertility treatment/alternatives ranging from Clomid to Tamoxifen to in-vitro fertilization and for some, surrogacy. We were never under any sort of clinical care like that, but the amount of time it was taking did bring us to a place at the end of 2012 that we considered seeking medical help in the 2013 new year. It was almost at the same time that we were picking up the phone to discuss options with the doctor that two pink lines lit up on my home pregnancy test. God’s will and timing taught us to be patient and prepared us to receive the blessing that is our dear daughter.

I’m choosing to share this information because not everyone understands why parenthood and pregnancy can be such a big deal. People throw ill feelings and judgment around like a set of car keys or a pair of socks, (me included) but it’s important to remember that unless you’re in a person’s shoes, you have no clue what their struggle is like. I’ve had to become very sensitive to this fact over the last two years. I tuck it into the folder in my life’s file cabinet marked, “Valuable Lessons Learned.”

Now, on to the good stuff…

Here’s a rough timeline of what labor and delivery was like:

8/5 – My OBGYN does a cervical check and finds that I am dilated to 3cm with 50% effacement. Though I’m scheduled to see her again on 8/16, she seems confident that I won’t need that appointment.

8/7 – Mom arrives in town. Yipee! Operation: Get Baby Out can begin!

8/8 to 8/10 – Mild contractions happening 20 mins apart in the morning, but disappear as soon as I start walking around or become active.

8/11 – Contractions show up on and off, coming as close together as 5 minutes apart, but they aren’t strong in intensity and tend to space out when I’m active.

8/12 – I’m walking my ass off circling the block in my neighborhood in hopes that something will begin. I feel some contractions while walking, but ultimately they aren’t strong nor consistent.

8/13 – “LABOR” DAY

2:00am – I’m awakened by semi strong contractions that appear to be happening every two minutes. I wrestle out of bed, shove my glasses on my face, and start doing laps through the hall, dining room and living room to see if they disappear as the other ones have.

3:10am – Mom’s awake, we’ve timed contractions for about an hour and they’ve stayed consistent at two minutes apart. During this time I’ve also been walking laps through my house and using my exercise ball intermittently. The contractions have not stopped. In fact, they’ve gotten stronger.

3:13am or something – We throw all the shit in the cars and head to Palomar Medical Center

3:35am – The nurse hooks me up to the contraction monitor and fetal heart rate monitor to get a closer look at what’s happening. She also does a cervical check and finds me to be 3-4cm dilated with a stretchy cervix.

3:55am – I learn a new term, “ballottable” which means that though Kennedy’s head has descended into my pelvis, it is not engaged and secure. The nurse can still push her up into my cervix. In active labor, babies heads are fully engaged.

At this point, I’m told to walk the halls a bit in hopes that gravity with the contractions will help Kennedy fall into place.

5:00am – I return to the exam room and the nurse finds I’m at the same dilation and effacement, but Kennedy’s head is more secure than it was an hour ago. I’m admitted to the hospital.

3:00pm – After hanging out in the delivery room for hours, my contractions have slowed and lessened in intensity. The doctor gives me four options:

  1. Go home
  2. Stay and wait
  3. Have my water broken in hopes contractions will return
  4. Receive Pitocin to kick start contractions

After much prayer and consideration, I settle on option 4. Already, my birth plan has been compromised with the acceptance of drugs, however, leaving and waiting were unattractive options for all I had been through up to that point, and should having my water broken fail, it would lead to further medical interventions which would have most likely included a C-section. Those who know me well know that a C-section was the one option I went into labor dead set against.

7:00pm – I’ve been on the Pit for four hours, contractions are back but they are still pretty spacey at 6-7mins apart.

7:01pm – Shift change. I meet my new nurse, Leeann, who says that with my permission we can take a more aggressive approach and increase Pitocin at 30minute intervals to bring the contractions closer together. She asks twice if I want an epidural, but I refuse, holding tightly to the last shred of my birth plan that I can in order to ease my control freak mind.

9:30pm – Contractions are strong and frequent. The doctor on call checks me and finds me to be dilated to 5cm with an even stretchier cervix and per my request, breaks my water.

10:00pm – Contractions are excruciating. My pain level has reached level 10. I fight tears and heavy breathing and admit to my mother that I will need the epidural. I apologize. She brushes it off and begs me to just have a healthy baby and take care of myself. She says there’s nothing I need forgiveness for. I grab her arms and shoulders and breathe through what is accurately summed up as the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Leeann calls the anesthesiologist.

11:00pm – Doctor “Make the Pain Disappear” FINALLY shows up and has me sign what seems like an endless stack of papers and explains some shit I wasn’t listening to. I was barely hanging on. Just stick the shit in my back so I can breathe, dude.

11:30pm – Epidural is administered, but I need a double dose as it doesn’t take hold right away.

8/14 – “BIRTH” DAY

12:15am – I’m finally feeling the effects of the epi, and I’m dilated to 8cm. Leeann advises me to rest and relax and tells me she’ll return in approximately an hour and a half to see where I’m at.

1:45am – I ask for another check as I can feel lots of pressure with each contraction. Kennedy has descended into the canal at this point and I’m feeling like I need to push.

2:00am – Leeann confirms that Kennedy is low, I’m dilated to 10, I’m 100% effaced, I’m there. She asks if I want to wait a bit for my perineum to soften some more or if I’m comfortable pushing now. Anxious to meet my daughter, I opt to start the push.

2:10am – My husband grabs my left leg and my mom my right, we wait for the next contraction wave and I start to push. Immediately, I hear my mom shout that she can see Kennedy’s head. Victory is in sight. Two more contractions and rounds of pushing and Leeann asks me to stop so that she can call the doctor.

2:25(ish)am – The doctor comes back in and is pleased to see that we’re basically at the finish line. She begins changing into surgical attire and setting up stirrups and I continue to push as before.

2:28(ish)am – The doc yells for me to stop pushing because Kennedy is coming out too fast. Too fast?! Lady, I’ve been waiting three years for this. If YOU aren’t ready, I suggest you GET ready, NOW.

2:33am – Kennedy Faye is out, alive, vibrant, loud, and in my possession. A flood of emotions runs over me as I begin to bawl at the sight of her tiny eyes squinting as she wails.

8/15 – “HOMECOMING”

1:45pm we are discharged from the hospital into my comfy house where my mother and father have made a delicious dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Blessed be!

So, was labor everything I thought it would be? Sure! And then some! I was prepping for it like a prize fight, and I went in giving it my all.

Do I regret having my daughter the way I did? No. Labor was my experience to have and I needed to just…well, labor. I needed to feel what everyone was so fearful of and decide for myself it was something I could cope with. Ultimately, with my mom and Leeann’s wisdom, I came to see that though I could struggle through the contractions of dilating from 8 to 10, it would’ve made for an unpleasant, unhappy ride when I had been looking forward to a joyful ride the entire time I carried Kennedy.

I’ve forgiven myself for choosing comfort and reprieve over suffering it out like a battle axe. And, at the end of the day, I still came away with the prize – a healthy, beautiful baby girl who breastfeeds perfectly, has no digestive or gastrointestinal issues, who scored high on the APGAR, who is alert and focused at only five days old, whose body has maintained its weight since leaving the hospital four days ago, much to the astonishment of her pediatrician. I have also learned not to fault any woman for the choices she makes when giving birth. It’s serious business. All that really matters is that the choice is hers when it is made.  Every decision made during my labor with Kennedy was mine, and I’m proud of myself for that.

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Problem Solver

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Today’s devotional was one of those that really stood out to me for its poignant reminder of just how human I am. Before I beat myself up in writing, I first want to acknowledge all the strides I’ve made this year to establish security in myself, get better acquainted with and working to clear my anxiety, establishing healthy boundaries between myself and others, grow confidence and assertiveness, and to learn to put down negative thinking. I wish I could’ve learned these things when I was a twentysomething, but I’m grateful to have learned them as a thirtysomething (and I’ll hopefully have them mastered when I become a fortysomething). I still have my struggles with trying to go above and beyond as an achiever, which usually results in me being worn out, frustrated, or overextended, but I’m not nearly as off the rails as I felt I was when this year started.

With that said, the crisis management, problem-solver, fixer, “Olivia Pope” nature I have will always be in direct conflict with what my faith calls for me to do. I have to manage crises in my home as well as at work, and even before I stepped into a supervisory role, my tendency has always been to just handle stuff as it comes. I can bitch and moan to whomever I need to when it’s handled, but in the midst of things, I just go to work.

For the day-to-day, I think it’s a normal part of the human experience. But as I continue my work to put God first in all aspects of my life, I realize I have to check myself before just jumping in to work. I used to fall with discouragement at the onset of adversity or difficulty, and I’m working hard to try to first be grateful – because difficulty is either a chance to shine or an opportunity to grow – and not take everything else down with what may be going wrong with one situation. It’s not easy (nobody ever said it would be, but I think all adults experience the “Holy crap this is tough!” feeling at varying points of life’s progression) because life isn’t cheap, options aren’t always straightforward, decisions require more serious thought the older you get, and if you have children in your life, you can up these factors exponentially to the fifth power.

So I guess I won’t be beating myself up that much, just acknowledging that I am unapologetically human.

Stay tuned, and God bless.

Thankful

Trans Siberian Orchestra is pumping through my speakers, my homemade cranberry sauce is cooling in the fridge, and the smell of green bean casserole is wafting through the house on this beautiful Thanksgiving morning. I have about seven different tasks I need to tend to, which include getting showered to head over to my parents’ house for dinner, but I wanted to stop in and quickly chronicle all that I am grateful for this year.

It’s been a year of twists and turns as the place I was when the year started is vastly different from where I sit now, with only about 37 days left until 2016 is up.

I am grateful to have mustered up courage this year.
I had to defend my thesis for the MBA program, put myself out there for a job I wasn’t even sure I was qualified for, and walk away from certain things and people that I decided weren’t serving me anymore. It isn’t easy to decide to walk your own path, but I stepped out onto my own through redefining my priorities this year, and for that I am both proud of myself, and grateful to have done.

I am grateful for my faith.
I should’ve listed this first, and it’s pretty obvious for anyone who knows me that the aforementioned accomplishments I attribute first and foremost to the grace of God, but my faith carried me through some very difficult and testing times this year. I am so grateful to not resist Jesus, His calling to me, and His will.

I am grateful for my family.
We’re finally adding a new member…! My marriage is back on track! I have the most beautiful daughter imaginable! My parents are spectacular! Nuff said.

I am grateful for this blog.
I’ve ditched all other platforms of social media (more on that later) but this blog is and will always remain my greatest outlet for publicly sharing anything I want. It’s been my baby since my last few days as a 29 year old, and I’ve grown through having it. I love chronicling parts of my life journey here, not so much for people to read about (though I do adore all of my readers) but to have something to look back on later.

I’m also grateful for good food, which I will be chowing down on soon.🍗

Here’s to FOOD COMAS!!

Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

‘Tis the Season

The season has finally changed here, as evidenced by this crazy cold temp we welcomed in the other morning…

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Brrrrr!

The seasonal pattern down here is very different from how it was in SoCal. In California, I’d spend most of the year longing for the sunny, warm weather of spring and summer because summers there are bearable. Fall and winter are bearable too, but beach-going in those off season months means ridiculously cold water, so you just kind of chill on the sand, and it’s usually windy, so not always the most ideal beach conditions. With the beach only about a 10-minute drive away, a dip in spring or summer is easy and comfortable; water temps are much warmer from March through August/September. But overall, the weather is easier to contend with because there’s not much severity (or at least there had not been in the first 20 years of my living there) with regard to heat or cold. Climate change (whether anyone wants to admit it or not) has brought severe heat and dryness to the area, and winters have gotten colder (it even snowed in certain parts of the Inland Valley in December 2014).

This post isn’t about weather patterns or global warming. Sorry if that’s what you came for.

Here in Florida, the opposite is true – I pine after cool weather months as they are a relief from the severe heat and humidity we face from May through September/October. I live much farther away from the beach now, so a dip in the Atlantic requires a day trip. I don’t mind that so much, but it limits us to only going on the weekends. We have plans and the room to add a pool to our backyard, so that will help us cope in the future. For the time being, we celebrate when the leaves change and the air becomes cooler and our AC unit stops kicking on regularly throughout the day.

Combine this change in temps with my current urge to nest, along with some killer specials at Michael’s, and Christmas has exploded early at our house.

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My nutcrackers are back🙂


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I ALMOST bought a new wreath this year, but I opted to dress up the old one for a fraction of the cost. This wreath originally was all green and silver.

I know, I know…”But Antoinette, you love fall!” Yes, that’s true, but I love Christmas even more. And, Kennedy is just that age where Christmas is becoming that perfect level of magical. She’s old enough to understand what the holiday is about, and young enough to still believe in Santa Claus (a nifty tactic for controlling tantrums and other bad behavior, by the way). She’s old enough to help out with Christmas baking and decorating, and young enough that she isn’t too cool for family traditions. I’ve been waiting for her to reach this point since she was born, so I’m in mother-daughter heaven with her a bit.

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Christmas card teaser! This isn’t what went to print this year, but it is one photo we took. Super easy to do with some holiday props and a selfie stick. 

I’m also in mother-son heaven with a growing bump to show off in fall/winter rather than spring/summer. When I was pregnant before, I thought it’d be better to be pregnant during spring/summer for ease of wardrobe. Perhaps that is true in San Diego where the temps are easier to deal with, but here, the North Central Florida heat killed my spirit and motivation during my first trimester. I wouldn’t wish such a fate on anyone, even those I can’t stand. Nausea + sticky hotness is just a fucking chore, so needless to say, I’ve been LONGING for it to get cooler out here.

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23 Weeks. Fall/Winter bump > Spring/Summer bump.

I’m not nauseous anymore, but I have other things to contend with by way of sciatic nerve pain, low back pain, hip joint pain, and Braxton Hicks contractions (which are more uncomfortable than they are painful). None of them are fun, but I’ll take those over the nausea. My back might hurt, but at least I can eat Chipotle again.🙂

A growing bump also means a growing baby with bigger kicks and rolls, and though they sometimes send me rushing to the bathroom to pee, or keep me up at night, I’m so enamored with feeling my son’s movements. We’re also in the fun phase of planning for him where we’ll start (I say “we,” but really it’s just Fabian) painting and purchase matching sheets. I got curtains on sale at Kohl’s a few weeks back and plan to have the glider rocking chair reupholstered. Decorating has kind of been my jam lately, so it’ll be fun to create a new space for a baby boy – something I haven’t done before.

The incoming holidays also mean more time that we get to spend with family, something that has always been a priority for me regardless of the time of year. As I’ve grown and changed this year, I’ve found myself clinging tighter to my family as my inner circle, basing more of my activities around my opportunities to involve them. Especially as my parents get older, it’s important to me to keep setting aside the time for them, even through the differences I experience with them (particularly, my dad). We aren’t meant to move through this life alone; my belief in God and Jesus means that they serve as my Creator and Savior, but belief in them doesn’t cancel out the need for companionship and a sense of purpose. My purpose used to be vague to me, and in many ways it is still undefined to me, but through the growth and development of my own family I’ve come to appreciate the place I have in relation to them, and the value they all hold for me. That’s probably one of the things I am most grateful for this holiday season: realizing my importance through my family.

Grab it By the P-word

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It was one year ago that I began browsing Trulia and caught a glimpse of this beautiful home listing. It was just the right size, it was in just the right area, but the price wasn’t one I was jumping for joy over.

It had been reduced once since first being placed on the market, so I decided to watch it for a while. I decided to drive past it to scope out the surroundings in-person and liked what I saw. I kept my eye on it, I fixed my husband’s eyes on it, and I quietly said some prayers of hope for it.

Two months and one painful escrow later, and we were receiving keys to the house I didn’t know we had a snowball’s chance in hell at buying. We low-balled the offer and stayed firm and the sellers, motivated by the fact that they were receiving minimal views and foot traffic, decided to sit at the table with us.

My point? It’s certainly not to brag, if that’s what you’re thinking. Based on the title of this post, hopefully you have a clue as to where I’m headed…

Has the world stopped crying over the election yet? No? Well, if you’re someone who believed in MAGA, try to just smile quietly and not gloat. Nobody likes coming up on the losing side, and our country is already divided enough. Don’t make matters worse. If you were “with her,” applaud the efforts of Hillary Rodham Clinton. She’s done some daring things in the public eye, and while she isn’t a personal role model to me, I have no issue giving her credit for being brave enough to face her husband’s tawdry affair with composure, to show up for work day in and day out after her many missteps, and for giving a classy concession speech at the conclusion of the 2016 election. Something for us ALL to take away from Mr. Trump’s unbelievable traipse from reality television to the White House, is that there is nothing stopping any of us from what we want. Donald Trump is completely unqualified for the presidency; he may have great ideas for how to get America running again, and some of them aren’t half bad (I want to see industry return to US soil, and I was never a fan of ACA), but he has had no political grooming for the most important job in our country. However, that job is his now.

I’d imagine that somewhere in that disheveled head of his, he got the idea that if he wanted to see a change, he’d have to be the one to make it, and set his eyes on the presidency similarly to how I set my sights on the beautiful house that I now get to call my home. He went after it despite hecklers and naysayers…and he got it. What are you currently pining after or striving for? How many opportunities have you talked yourself out of because of your own disbelief? Let the 2016 president elect be evidence to you of how you need to shut that shit down. Go for what you want. Grab it by the p***y. The only thing stopping you is you, so get out of your own way.

Whoa, Nelly

One detail that I didn’t mention in my blog post comparing this pregnancy to my last one is the fact that I’m really making an effort to go about some key behaviors differently. Before, I figured that as long as I wasn’t in pain or bleeding, I could take over the world with my baby bump. I had no qualms about climbing ladders to paint, moving furniture, or lifting light to moderate weight boxes. I was also standing for about six hours total to teach four days a week while in my second trimester, so I was pushing it. It wasn’t until a doctor hooked me up to a fetal monitor and showed me that I was having regular contractions that I knew anything was wrong. This of course led to my hospitalization at 30 weeks, and being placed on bed rest for weeks 30-35 before giving birth to Kennedy at 39 weeks 2 days. This may very well be my last pregnancy – not because I don’t believe I can ever be pregnant again, but because I’ve only ever really desired to have two kids – so I owe it to myself to go a different route this time. Even though I work from home for my job, I still have to pace myself, know when to take it slow, and give myself adequate time for rest so as to avoid having the same perils with my son.

This is hard for a woman like me.

If I need a box moved, I don’t like asking someone else to do it and then waiting for that person to move it. I’d rather just move it.

I have standards for how clean I like to keep my home, and that usually entails vacuuming the floors at least once a week, mopping once every two weeks, cleaning toilets and showers every two weeks, and dusting furniture weekly. I try to dust our ceiling fans once a month.

Laundry gets done weekly, and I do usually ask my husband to haul that over to the machine for me because sometimes it’s just way too much to try to carry, or even kick/scoot across the floor.

I grocery shop weekly, which means groceries are hauled in from the car weekly, though if he’s home when I come back from the store, my husband will also do this.

But in addition to these chores, I’m also cooking meals daily (which requires standing) and doing shopping (which requires walking on hard surfaces).

I got to learn the hard way this past weekend that I don’t have as much energy to go around for these things as our son grows and grows. I spent Saturday morning shopping, the afternoon at the play area with Kennedy, dinner at Red Robin with Kennedy, and then sat through a movie (and millions of previews) with Kennedy. It was a long day, and I was burnt out by the end of it. My husband came home to find me seated on the couch under a throw blanket watching Mean Girls with a glazed over look on my face. I told him about my day and how exhausted it had made me. I also told him about how Kennedy’s attitude (typical of a three year old) had also worn on me.

I think all parents try to be the impressive, fun person their kids want to hang out with all the time and share fun memories with. Where reality balances this dream is that we can’t always do everything our hearts aim for. Some of us would love to take our kids to Disney every weekend, but time, money, or geographical constraints stop us. We would love to be able to buy them the hottest clothes and greatest toys and coolest gadgets, but certain factors prevent us from that, too. Eventually, we want to be able to send our kids to Ivy League schools with a full ride, but that’s not practical for everyone, either. I had this lesson handed to me as I tried to be everything mom while also being expecting mom – it just doesn’t work. And while my daughter surely loved me for taking her out to play, and to dinner, and to a movie, and for all the awesome new clothes I surprised her with that day, she would’ve also been okay with a trip to the park, dinner at home, and maybe a Redbox movie on the couch with homemade popcorn. I don’t have to (and in my current state, really can’t) wear myself out to make her happy, because I alone can be enough. More importantly, I don’t need to place such expectations on myself in order to feel like I’m succeeding as a mom or a wife or a person. This last part is the trickiest for me to master.

It’s hard for me to sit back and relax and let others do things for me.

I don’t do well at waiting on others. Perhaps it’s impatience? I don’t know.

I’m a woman of action. I have a vision, I put it in motion, and I get things done. Taking a more docile approach goes against a lot of what I’m about.

 

…but the cost of not doing such is far too great right now. I’m setting aside my selfishness – which is equal parts ego and need for purpose – and erring on the side of nurturing our baby boy right now.

 

Check on me in a couple weeks to see how this is going. 😅

 

Election.

The United States will receive word on who the next POTUS will be tomorrow. Many are fearful for this outcome, some are too apathetic to care, others are highly invested. I’m not sure exactly what you’d call where I stand. I was once very passionate about this, but as time has moved on this year, I’ve come to learn that my emotions don’t have much impact on the outcomes of this country. There is a lot here that I do not care for, but I feel powerless to change any of it. I can write fiery words on this blog for the sake of clearing my own attitude bank, but injustice will still happen, oppression will still exist, and life will still be unfair. Perhaps now because I am expecting, my biggest focus has been on trying to just stay in a calm place so as not to throw myself into a tizzy and harm my unborn child.

This isn’t to say I don’t want to change the world somehow. One of my closest friends described me as a “creator” the other day, and it was a fitting label to receive. I tend to only find joy in the things that allow me to customize, make mine, or put my own spin on them somehow. Hence why I love curriculum. Hence why I’ve been going hard on the interior decorating lately. Hence why Thirty, Reimagined even exists. I’m sort of at a loss now for how to effect that change.

The truth is: I don’t feel confident about any of the possible outcomes for tomorrow. I’m not with her, I’m not with him, I’m not with any of “them.” Certain measures that I’d love to see go away, such as the Affordable Care Act, won’t. My county will likely appoint leaders who will enforce unfair tax increases, cut funding to schools, and lie about all of it to the public. The War in Iraq will not end. I can’t allow myself to become overwhelmed by all that isn’t going as I wish, but often a withdrawal from being heated about politics is a sign to others that you don’t care. I care…I guess I’m just rationing my care.

I used to say that if Trump were elected, I’d be shocked. I truly won’t be surprised at any outcome tomorrow. Lots has shocked and stunned me about this country this year, to the point that I’m a bit desensitized. Our justice system is biased, violence in the streets, especially among police officers and civilians (in both directions) is a norm, and the unspeakable lows our culture continually sinks to have all let me down enough. No, America is not great…but none of the folks proposed to make it better show any promise of making it such.

But one thing I can control is what my mind concentrates on, and as of right now that is my faith, my family, and rocking my little part of the world. Peace.