Day 11: Nervous

Today is the day! My second COVID-19 vaccine. I am excited to be fully vaccinated. And also a tad bit nervous. I have heard such a wide range of side effects- some feeling completely normal and others not so much. Will I have enough energy to nurse Ollie in the middle of the night? Will I be okay to go to work tomorrow? If not, how do I write out sub plans when I am feeling like absolute garbage?!? Wish me luck!

Day 10: Reunited

11.21.2020

Another boy. We have another Baby Boy! He doesn’t have a name yet. We thought we had a few more weeks to decide on one. 

I hear his Apgar score. 7/9. Something about his coloring knocked his score, and maybe the need for some oxygen. Not bad for a premie! Weight 7 lbs. Yes! Good job, Baby! 

“Can I hold him? Can I nurse him? Can we do skin to skin?” Nursing and skin to skin aren’t options right now. He needs to be closely monitored. He needs to be on oxygen. But I do get to hold our sweet boy for a few minutes. He’s beautiful and he’s perfect. We snap a few pictures, and they wheel him away to the NICU. The nurse says once I get checked into my room, I will be able to go and see him. (Turns out she was wrong about that. The first night I go about 11 hours without getting to see Ollie.)

Baby left my room around 9 pm. I anxiously wait to be relocated to my new room so that I can get settled in. So that I can then go see my baby. It’s 11 pm and I am finally wheeled away to my new room. 

“Can I go see him now?” I ask my new nurse. “Not yet. You need to be closely monitored for a little while because you passed a decent amount of blood.” My heart doesn’t even sink. I am delusional. I don’t process what she is really saying. Two hours go by. It is 1am. “Can I go see him now?” “Labs will make their rounds first thing in the morning. You can go see him after that. You should get some rest so that you will be ready to see him.” Now my heart sinks. I get it now. I have to wait.

I wake up by 6am. Charlie and I finally decide on a name- Oliver Francis (My dad’s middle name is Francis). Labs start making their rounds by 7am. I wait, anxiously. It is now 8am. I call over to the NICU to know how Ollie did last night and ask when I can come and visit. “He did great! He was on oxygen until about 3am. He will feed around 9, so you can come at 9:30.” 9:30?!? That’s another hour and a half away. I start to tear up. Screw waiting for labs. “Is there a way I could come now before he feeds?” “Absolutely.” Yes! I ask my nurse if I can go, and we agree she will call over to Ollie’s room once someone arrives to check my labs. Then I will scurry back to my room so that can check me.

Ollie and I finally are reunited.

Day 9: The Arrival

11.21.2020 

We leave triage to officially be admitted around 4:00.

The contractions have slowly started to make their presence known. I begin to pace. I’d love to be bouncing on the ball, but I remember my attempts with that the last time- a nurse stopping back in my room repeatedly to halt my bouncing so that the bands could be adjusted. Yup, I am definitely skipping my attempts with the ball this time ‘round. Wearing our masks, Charlie and I walk the halls of the labor and delivery wing.

I hear the nurse say the epidural order has been placed and it’s near my bedside. I don’t comment. I wish I hadn’t heard it. I said I didn’t want one. But, I get it. I am sure many mamas have said they didn’t want one. Then, eventually, they go ahead and opt it. After all, that’s what I did the first time. They just want to be ready in case I request one last minute and still have time to administer it. Good call- not their first rodeo.

Every so often my cervix is checked. Nurses end their shifts and I meet my new nurse. Teresa. “I had all my kids without an epidural.” She remarks. I perk up. “You did?! Did you have a doula?” I doubt myself. Can I do this without having taken any official courses? WIthout having hired a doula? Everyone that I have talked to that did no epidural either had a doula, took a specific class, and/or both. “Nope.” She replies. “You can do this. Focus on your breathing.” She is calm and supportive. If she could do it without all the extras, I could too. I got this!

I get checked again around 6pm. My doctor suggests breaking my water since it hasn’t yet on its own. I am reluctant. My intentions are to have a low intervention delivery- preferably no epidural, no pitocin. With that in mind, I am almost taken aback by the suggestion to break my water and not let it break naturally. However, I definitely value my doctor and her expertise. My overall birth plan is: delivery of baby. Bottom line. If that takes every intervention in the world, I’ll do it. I just want my baby in my arms. “Can I think about it?” “Absolutely.” she replies.

I call up my twin sister who worked as a labor and delivery nurse for about 8 years before becoming an NP. She assures me it’s okay, and to be ready for things to really pick up the pace. Oh boy.

Charlie and I sit on the decision hoping my body starts to progress. However,  little progress has been made. At 7:15pm I am still 6 cm so we opt in to breaking my water. And everything goes from 0 to 100. Walking is no longer an option. Charlie offers to start playing my playlist because talking is no longer an option either. I bob my head to my tunes in between contractions. 

I try not to think about the magic potion near my bedside. I could just say yes and start to relax, to look Charlie in the eyes and smile. Moving on. Just breathe. Focus on my drishti. I repeat my many mantras. Charlie is supportive with counter pressure as I squeeze his arm. 

It’s been 45 minutes since they broke my water, and I am now 9 and half centimeters dilated. It’s time to push. They aren’t quite ready yet. For some reason I am currently standing. I need to get back in bed. I need to lay down. “Try not to push right now.” Teresa says to me. I am not trying to push, but my body seems to be doing so anyways.. “It’s hard not to.” I am finally laying down. The doctor is ready. Two pushes and 10 minutes later, He is out. Baby Boy Graves is here.

Day 8: Mumblings in Triage

I hear her mumbling. The woman that just checked my cervix. She just told me I’m 4 centimeters dilated, and she is now somewhere outside my triage room on the phone with my OB .

“I think at this point it’s too late to give her something to keep the baby in. She’s definitely in labor.” She states.

Hmmmm. Well that settles it. I am officially in real labor. Not Braxton Hicks. This baby is coming today.

Her words lingered, they started to sink in… It’s too late to give her something to keep the baby in. It hadn’t crossed my mind that that option would have been preferred. My heart sank a little-the smallest glimpse of worry started to seep in. Yes, this morning I recognized I am a little early to go into labor, but I hadn’t thought about potential complications for me or my sweet sugar.  I quickly snapped back to the present. Optimistic  (and albeit a little naive) and ready.

“Char, text the cronies*.” 

*My husband calls my closest family members cronies. They are my go-to-crew that I am constantly seeking input from- decor, recipes, outfits, etc. My cronies are my mom, Brooke (twin), Bailey (older sister), and my Aunt Lynnette (my mom’s twin sister). The first time he used it, I thought he made it up. But turns out, it’s a real word!

Day 7: Check In

I can’t help but want to remember all that I can about this special day. November 21. So, if you’ve been reading my Slices all at, by now you know I continue to Slice on the small moments that transpired leading up to the delivery of my second son.

It’s 3:30pm and we check in to the hospital. 

“Hi, how can we help you?” the front desk assistant of Labor and Delivery asks.

“I believe I am in labor.” I smile.

“Oh, okay. Can you tell me about your contractions?”

“They are 3-5 minutes apart and one minute or so in duration>”

She is taken aback. “Do you need a wheelchair? Do you need to sit down?”

“No, no. I am fine. Thanks for offering.”

She is now flustered. “Have you filled on the online paperwork? Oh good. You did. Can I have your driver’s license? Can you sign these real quick? We can do some of this paperwork later. We can take it with us. Let’s get you to triage.”

I am laughing on the inside. I still haven’t fully come to terms that we might be having our baby today. Not until triage confirms it.

Day 6: Off to the Hospital

11.21.2020

It’s surreal to me. It’s too early. I am only 35 weeks and 4 days pregnant. This is nothing like my first labor. My water hasn’t ruptured. Am I really in labor? Maybe this is all in my head.

Andrea arrives. “So you think this is really happening? Did your water break?” 

 “I think so, but no it hasn’t yet.” I feel slightly silly because no, it hasn’t yet. Are we going to drive all the way to the hospital just for them to tell us it’s Braxton Hicks? 

“But you’re experiencing contractions?” She asks.

“Yea, they are about 3-5 minutes apart and one minute duration.” I state.

“Oh, wow! Okay, yea. You’re in labor!” Andrea chirps.

We take one last picture of Charlie, Charlie, and I. We give Little Man a kiss and walk out the door.

It’s about 3:00.

“Okay, I’ll give my parents a call now.” and dial up my mom.

“Hello.”

“Hey, Mom!”

“Hi, honey. How are you?”

“We are goooooood.” I reply as my voice goes up. “We are headed to the hospital.” I say it with the biggest grin on my face while also being calm.

“What?!?” I can hear my mom’s smile through the phone. “Do you need us to come up there? Who has Little Man?”

“We are all good. Andrea has him.” I tell my mom about the morning and tell her we will call them back if I get admitted.

I repeat this conversation with my older sister, Bailey, and tread lightly when I call up Brooke.

“Sorry, Brookie.” We are both chuckling a little. We aren’t that surprised. I delivered early with my first babe too, so we knew it might happen.

Day 5: Braxton Hicks

It is still that beautiful fall day. November 21.

We are about two and a half miles into our walk, with Little Man still fast asleep. Charlie starts off “I told her…..” I haven’t comprehended a word my husband has said. I can’t get my mind off what might be going on inside my body. 

“Babe. I can’t focus on what you’re saying. I think we need to turn around.” I have been looking down at my watch for the past 30 minutes- attempting to time these (hopefully Braxton Hicks) contractions. As far as I can tell, they seem consistent. Which from my recent google search means they are most likely real contractions.

“Isn’t your water supposed to break? Should I call Andrea?” Charlie asks. Andrea is one of Charlie’s older sisters and lives in the town next to us. She said she wanted to be the one to take care of Little Man when we go into labor.

“Typically, it’s a nice sign that you’re in labor when your water breaks, but that’s not always the case. I mean, I think we might want to mention it to her…” I don’t want to be overthinking this…. I keep telling myself, “I’m probably not in real labor.”

We get home and I race up to take a quick shower before we sit down for lunch. My hospital bag is already packed, but I give it a double-check.  At this point I have downloaded a contraction tracker app and begin officially tracking. I try to not look at the time as I track them. An hour goes by. The app tells me these “contractions” are 3-5 minutes apart and one minute duration. 

I call my OB office and leave a message for the on-call doc. It’s about 1:00 by now.

My phone rings. “Hi, this is Brittany Graves.”

“Hi, Brittany. I got your message. Tell me what’s been going on.”

“ I think I might be in labor.  I started tracking my contractions for the past hour. They seem to be very consistent at 3-5 minutes apart and one minute duration in length.”

“That seems pretty regular. Maybe you should come in. How would you describe the cramping? Is it mild? Have you experienced any other signs of labor?” My doctor replies. 

“Very light. I feel comfortable with no other signs of labor.”

“Okay. Let’s wait a little while. Go ahead and take a warm bath. If they are Braxton Hicks, this can help slow the contractions down.”

While in the tub, the contractions stay consistent. After 30 minutes go by I get out of the tub. “Babe. Call Andrea.”

Day 4: Who’s about to pop?

I reminisce back to that fall morning. November 21, 2020….

After we get a good start on clearing the nursery, we head out to take advantage of the beautiful weather. It’s about 9:30am and we settle Charlie into his stroller to head to our local park. 

“So, Brooke just texted the group and said she’s feeling crampy. And now I feel crampy.” I mention to Charlie as we head out on our walk. I am trying not to overthink it. Charlie doesn’t respond to my comment, nor am I looking for one. I just felt the need to say it out loud. 

Charlie starts a new conversation, but all I hear is white noise. Why do I feel crampy? “Babe. I have no idea what you just said. I think I’m having contractions. Maybe they are Braxton Hicks!” In all honesty, I hope they are Braxton. I am too early. I don’t want to go into labor yet. Brooke is supposed to have her baby first. I am not due until December 21! But hey! Maybe Brooke and I will have our babes on the same day. 

By the time we reach the park, about 15 minutes, Little Man is fast asleep. So we opted to walk further towards the Fox Valley trail. I can’t help but seem to notice a consistent cramping the whole time. I google “How to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and real contractions.” I text the group.

“Any updates?!” -Me

“Nope. They went away.” -Brooke

“Rats!” -Bailey 

Idk if this is just our family, but we say “rats” like people say “bummer”. Anyways…

I never chimed in on the group thread to mention my own light cramping. I wouldn’t want to take away the spotlight from Brooke’s experience and 1st pregnancy.

Day 3: THREE PREGNANT SISTERS

It’s a late fall Saturday morning. Nov 21. As a family, my husband (Charlie), son (Charlie- I call him Little Man), and I are enjoying breakfast.. Eggs, toast, bacon, and avocado, our go-to weekend breakfast choice.

“I think we should start moving Little Man’s clothes over to his new bedroom.” I am currently 35 weeks and 4 days pregnant. My husband nods- he would prefer we didn’t add one more thing to our weekend of relaxation, but I can’t seem to stop adding to the list. I just want to be ready whenever our baby arrives. 

At this time, I am not the only one pregnant in my family. My twin sister is due in two and a half weeks, and my older sister is due mid-February. 

We head up to the nursery and begin moving Little Man’s things out of the nursery. A group thread pops up on my phone…. 

“Feeling a little crampy.” -Brooke (my pregnant and ready to pop twin sister)

“Come on, Baby Kennard!” -My response.

“Yay” -Bailey (older sister due in February)

“Keep us posted!” -Mom

To be continued….

Day 2: NATURAL LABOR AND BABY NAMES

Sometimes my Slices will be a little slice I am reminiscing on from recent months so that I can remember them through these blurry months with a newborn… In order, the moments I think back on foreshadow other events that followed.. 

The date is November 11, 2020.

I’m 34 weeks pregnant with our second child- just 6 weeks out from our due date! However, our first child came 3 weeks early, so I am already antsy with anticipation.  With my first pregnancy, I went in with an open mind and wanted to give birth without an epidural. However, in all honesty, I wasn’t prepared- mentally, physically, emotionally.  So yea, that didn’t happen… This pregnancy I was hopeful I would follow through with the no-epidural plan. I knew I would be more likely to obtain my goal with an educated coach by my side, aka my husband needed to do a little reading and watch a few videos.

 “Babe, have you watched the videos?” I asked. “ I promise I’ll get to it.” my husband replied. I smile because I have no doubt he will, but like I said, I am ansty. I had only finally gotten around to watching a few myself just last week. I was pleasantly surprised to know how many women out there have vlogged their natural labor deliveries and share them on Youtube! Personally, I found them super insightful, and I am forever grateful for the inspiration and mindset they gave me.

To resist nagging him to watch the videos this instant, I switch topics. “Did you download the name app?” Yup! We are 34 weeks pregnant and still don’t have a boy name picked out. We have a girl name picked out because it’s the same  girl name we picked out for our first pregnancy. Apparently the app works similar to dating apps. We each swipe left or right as we sort through name after name. If we both swipe right on the same name, the app tells us we have a match! After about 30 minutes, I give up for the night. A few names made it to the list of potentials. I’m tired and at least we finally started the process.

Fast forward…. Come to find out after I went to bed that night, my husband finally watched a few videos! Just in time since we had our son 10 days later (5 weeks early). Our son also went unnamed for the first 12 hours while in the NICU as we still hadn’t narrowed down our boy names.