Well, my fine friends, 2013 has come and nearly gone. I hope that your holidays have been absolutely splendid. We are still in the throes of our Christmas vacation, so spending a bunch of time blogging is not an option. However, I wanted to send out our Christmas newsletter to each and every one of my adoring fans dear, blog-reading friends, even if only virtually. If you care to read the "really important" memorable moments from the past year, follow this link -
When I last posted, I suggested that my next post might be a birth story. I didn't expect that it would be nearly December before Shep5 would arrive, nor did I anticipate that it would take me over two weeks to get the birth story down "on paper" (though I'm sure I should have what with all the free-time and extra energy mothers of newborns plus four others have, especially approaching Christmas - ha!). At any rate, I am stringing together my spare moments today, few and far between though they may be, to tell the story.
On Wednesday, November 27th, the day before Thanksgiving, I felt generally crummy. I contracted off and on all day long, but like all the other days I'd done that things settled down when I took a break to rest. My parents were here, and they took care of the big kids for me while I lamented (not-so-quietly) the fact that I was still pregnant four days past my due date. As much as I know a due date is not an "expiration date," there is something about seeing that date on the calendar come and go that just does not do my mental well-being any good. When hormones are raging out of control, my back is hurting, my lungs are straining, and I'm just bone tired, all I want is to have that baby out of me. I'm not one of those moms who loves being pregnant, especially in the last trimester. I'm always happy to trade the discomforts of late pregnancy for a sweet, tiny newborn. And the amount of patience I have while waiting for the baby is directly proportional to the number of days until my due date.
When Sam got home from work, he took me out on a date. We hit up Panera, Rite-Aid (for their awesome sale on diapers), and Big Lots (because I really do love that store). Sam was still hungry after our Panera dining experience so he got himself some chicken tenders at Zaxby's. (This is relevant eventually.) I continued having mild contractions just about every 20-30 minutes, but not close enough or strong enough to care too much about.
That night around midnight, just as soon as it turned "Thanksgiving Day," I laid in bed knowing full well I was going into labor on my own. My contractions were ramping up slightly in intensity and were coming every twenty minutes (like, I could have set a clock by it). This didn't warrant running to the hospital, so I took my second long, hot shower of the night to help me relax and I tried to get some sleep. I was able to sleep through many of the contractions, but I would hardly call it my best night's rest ever. The next morning, I could hear my parents getting breakfast ready for the kids and my mom was no doubt starting Thanksgiving dinner preparations. I got up and took another shower and told Sam he needed to call his mom. My contractions were every ten minutes apart, and my doctor made me promise I would call her when they got to that point. Since this was my fifth pregnancy and delivery, she was fairly confident things would progress quickly (to the point that she actually advised me to keep a shoelace and some extra blankets in my car "just in case" we didn't make it to the hospital). With that on my brain, and not wanting to deliver my own baby in the backseat of either of our vehicles, I called the doctor who told me she'd meet me at the hospital (despite the fact that it was Thanksgiving Day and she wasn't even "on call"). I told my parents Sam and I were heading to the hospital and that I'd keep them posted.
We got there about 10am. By the time I checked in and they took me back to the room, it was 10:30. After a thorough history, hooking up my IV, checking my cervix (I was at 6cm), and some carefree chit-chat with the nurses (who, by the way, were super sweet despite working on a holiday), my doctor came in to break my water at noon. At that point, my contractions were about four or five minutes apart and increasing in intensity. (Please don't ask me what number on a pain scale of 1-10 because I honestly do not know how to answer that question.) When she broke my water, there was "thick mec," which means that the baby had passed their first stool in utero. This is concerning if the baby aspirates that fluid and it gets in their lungs during delivery. When I delivered Ben, my water had meconium in it as well, so I wasn't super concerned, but unlike with Ben my doctor ordered a fluid flush to help clear the nasties out of my uterus and also ordered pitocin as an additional precaution (Nooooo!!!!) because the baby's head did not come down after breaking my water the way all of my others had. This is a concern because a floating head leaves room for the cord to deliver first which can be extremely dangerous to the baby.
As of noon, I texted my dad and told him he might as well put Leah down for a nap and I'd let him and my mom know as things progressed when they should bring the kids over. Sam's mom had just arrived at the hospital.
As expected, the breaking of the water caused the intensity of labor to ramp up significantly, but it was compounded by the introduction of the fluid pumping through my uterus and the pitocin. I continued laboring for about an hour when I started sweating profusely. I could no longer talk through my contractions. And my daggone hair would not stay up in its ponytail (funny the things that we remember...). Sweet Sam retrieved me cool washcloth after cool washcloth and physically fanned me off with whatever he could find and my nurse fetched a giant floor fan and pointed it straight at me. It reminded me of those giant misters that football players stand by on the sidelines. It definitely helped. A few minutes later, tired of hurting and succumbing to the pain, I told Sam to get the nurse because I needed an epidural. He convinced me to let her check me because he didn't want me to have the same regrets as I did with Sarah's delivery (I had the epidural for less than ten minutes before she was born). The nurse checked me and I was nearly complete. She told me if I pushed a bit with my next contraction I could clear the rest of the cervix away. All I wanted was for her to get her hand out of "there," and I'm pretty sure I told her that. (Laboring women aren't very nice.) Lo and behold, I was complete and ready to push, and I didn't need the nurse to tell me that. There would be no epidural - and I was actually relieved. During Leah's delivery the amazing almost-midwife nurse that attended me told me that at the point in a drug-free delivery when you feel like you can't do it anymore, you're almost there. She was right. I should have known. With my next contraction, I said, "I'm going to push!" My doctor providentially walked in the room at that particular moment, heard the report from the nurse, took one look at me and said, "Don't push yet! Someone get me some gloves. We need to break this bed down. Do we have a supply cart?! Get the Stork Squad (pediatrician) up here!" I didn't really care if she had gloves on or not. This baby was coming out and I was not going to not push. The frantic movement of the techs and my doctor and the nurse at the other end of the room didn't faze me in the slightest. I needed that baby out.
Somehow, the team managed to get the bed broken down and my doctor got gloves on her hand in time for three or four tremendous pushes during the course of which I definitely said the words "I can't!" and screamed out loud, both of which my doctor chastized me for ("Yes you can!!!" and "Stop screaming! Just push!"). Within minutes of requesting that epidural, at 1:27pm, there on my belly was a beautiful new baby with a head full of fuzzy blond hair. I laid there in a state of exhaustion and looked at Sam and said, "What is it?!" And with a smile, he said, "It's a boy." It is amazing the relief and euphoria that comes just seconds after that baby is delivered. It's indescribable. Seconds prior I was screaming, quitting, ready to pack up and go home. Then suddenly I was completely relaxed for the first time in months.
Sam cut the cord, and they checked our little boy out. I could hear the doctor and nurses cleaning him up and commenting on how big he was. "I bet he's nine pounds!" I had no idea. I really was not expecting either a boy or a giant baby. Shows you how much mother's intuition is worth. Ha! When they finally weighed and measured him he was 9 pounds 13 ounces and 22 inches long. He scored an 8 and 9 on the Apgar test just like all of his siblings. He was delivered face-down (the way God intended them to be born).
Sam went out and made the announcement to the kids and grandparents in the waiting room.
My favorite part of the day was seeing the whole family march in to meet him.
And even though it might embarrass him someday, I want to commemorate the tears of joy on sweet Ben's face. I don't know that anyone has ever been happier to meet their baby brother.
Okay, actually, they're all pretty smitten.
And that's the story of Noah Matthew Sheppard.
Our precious Turkey.
We are praising God for a safe delivery and a healthy baby boy. We are so blessed.
Edited to add the relevance of the Zaxby's chicken tenders (that's what I get for trying to write a coherent blog post at 1am) - I had a bunch of people ask how the hospital's turkey and dressing was. Because Noah was born after "lunchtime," I missed out on turkey and dressing...but they did give me a turkey sandwich around 2pm. That counts, right? Poor Sam didn't get to eat anything until around 4pm that day, and naturally, nothing much was open except for Cracker Barrel (so it turns out he had a nice, solo, sit-down meal on Thanksgiving Day). As it turns out though, he joked that he was glad he'd stopped for those tenders because he really would have been hungry if he hadn't had those to tide him over. And that's the story of the chicken tenders. It's as if he knew... Ha!
Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring. ~Marilyn Monroe
Behind the Madness
Just an easily distracted, excessively-random, 30-something Christian wife and working mom-turned stay at home mom-turned homeschooling mom of six perfectly imperfect children. Clearly, I'm just the clay. God's having fun molding me.
Sam had no idea what he signed up for when he married this girl. For over 12 years, he's been my rock, my giggle partner, my best friend.
Our eldest child - At nearly 12 years, he's really polishing his personality. He speaks no less than a million words per day and doesn't really care who's listening. Great sense of humor, this kid. And he's got a real soft spot for his smallest siblings.
At nearly nine years old, she has taken on the role of little mama. She can be counted on to take care of everyone around her. She thrives on praise. You can usually find her outside.
Our middlest child - At six years, she can always be counted on for a big hug or sweet snuggle. She says the most hilarious things. She stays cool under pressure. We're pretty sure she's going to make a great ER nurse/dr some day.
Our fourth blessing, at three years old, she is practicing her best attorney skills. Smart as a whip, hilarious, and...passionate, we just adore (not so) little Leah.
Number 5 - He finally made the sidebar, after nearly two years. He might not have been present on the blog but he has been oh-so-present in our home. This kid is noisy, boisterous, and precious. A force if we've ever had one. But those eyes! And that dimple!