Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The first 4 months

I think it goes without saying that life flies by.  In four months Henry has grown and changed so much. From those first few days of sleeping & eating non-stop, to trying out his first smiles on us, and cooing, giggling, and even starting to roll over.  It's all happened crazy fast.  Here are a few pictures that capture our life with our new baby boy from February to June.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Henry Tod

Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.

On June 2, 2013, I found out I was expecting our third baby.  It was a fun surprise to find out on Ben's birthday, and a wonderful way to celebrate.  Since we had both agreed and prayed about this baby completing our family, we did everything possible to make it extra special along the way. I wanted to enjoy every milestone since I knew it would be my last pregnancy.  One thing that Ben had requested was that we wait until the baby was born to find out the gender. This was something he had always wanted to do.  Although this completely goes against my type A nature, I agreed that it would be fun to find out at the birth (ok really since I had a boy and a girl already, I was able to justify it to myself and then ended up enjoying it too, haha).  It was an experience I wouldn't trade.... that said.... I had a gut feeling it was a boy the whole time, call it mother's intuition :)

The first trimester was interesting this time around.  I definitely had morning sickness (really more evening sickness) which was something I had never had with other pregnancies.  I never actually got sick, but was nauseated for about 11 weeks solid.  When the 13 week mark hit we were so thrilled to go and hear the heart beat. We decided to stay with Inanna, and the midwives there truly became a family for me once again.  Here are a few pics from when we revealed we were expecting to the online world.

I quickly began to realize that life was not going to allow me the luxury of keeping up with/documenting this pregnancy the way I wanted to.  With each child added, it seems that life goes into warp speed.  Emme started pre-school 3 days a week, I was teaching Jazzercise, and attending BSF along with all of life's other activities, so I felt pretty busy.  I can honestly say that this pregnancy just flew by.  At one point close to the end of my second trimester I realized that I did not have any belly pictures! So after that, I tried to take more to commemorate this special time.  We did have a sonogram at 21 weeks, and it was fun to see our little one, and fun for us to analyze and try to figure out what we were having, and for the kids to make guesses ;)   Here are a few pics from the pregnancy.

Along the way, I found it was difficult for me to prepare for the baby.  I'm a planner by nature, but wasn't really able to do that for most of this pregnancy because so many decisions involve gender.  In a way this was a blessing because I think I would have missed a lot of opportunities to sit back and enjoy the ride.  We did make a few changes at our house by moving Emme and JB into the same room, and getting bunk beds/rearranging storage.  We also got a van (round about way because Ben's car ended up blowing up in November... but God's ways are so perfect. I can't even explain how much I love my van and am thankful to the Lord that he orchestrated it all!!).  Side note: I don't know how people with more than 2 kids live without vans.  Another post for another day.
So my technical due date was Valentines Day 2014.  In my head, I had always calculated my due date to be closer to the 9th or 10th....but I was trying to keep the 14th in my head so I wouldn't go crazy waiting. I didn't do a very good job with this. By the time the weekend before my due date hit, I was ready. And not just a little bit.  My mom had made it in town and so for me that was cue for go-time.  Ben had had an insane schedule at school and I was just so so ready to meet this baby and to have our little family all together.  Somehow I made it through the week, and had an appointment scheduled for Thursday morning (the 13th).  I had been having contractions on and off all week long and could tell that it was nearly go-time, but I also didn't want to start playing mind games that would keep me from having that "stress free" zone for labor. 
Here's where it all gets kind of fuzzy, kind of funny, kind of crazy, kind of "are you for real?!" Yep you can't make this story up.
So I went in for my appointment that morning, and as I was driving in the car- a verse kept playing through my head over and over, "So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10.  At the time it encouraged me that it would not be forever before I met my baby, but later on I would recall it and it would mean infinitely more.
When I got to the center, Jean checked me and I was dilated to a 3 and almost completely effaced. She assured me that I would be having my baby TODAY, and sooner than later.  I respect Jean's expertise and felt like she was right, but again would not allow myself to travel down that road too far because I was afraid to get my hopes up and still be in labor next week. Ugh. I went home and called Ben and told him to come home from work because it was most likely baby day.  I started the same cycle I had done with JB, which was pump for 30 minutes, walk for an hour.   I did start to feel pretty intense contractions right away, which was very encouraging.  We were supposed to go back up to the center to get checked at 1, so in the mean time I called Elisabeth to let her know the plan- and then did one round of pumping/walking once Ben got home.  We finished packing and I took a few minutes to snuggle with Emme and JB before our family dynamic was about to change.  Something about knowing that everything is about to be different is exciting and a little scary, and just a time that I remember wanting to hold on to and cherish.  I'm so thankful that my mom was there and able to take care of the kids during that time as well. I felt like I was really in my safe place,  a good place mentally and emotionally, and ready to start that birth journey that was right around the corner.
I didn't actually know how close it was though.
We headed up to Inanna, at which point I felt my contractions were picking up. I kept telling myself that birth was difficult but worth the pain. In hindsight, things were more painful than I allowed myself to believe. Sounds weird, but I kept trying to push the intense pain away because I felt I had many more hours to go.  I even told Ben that I wanted to get some Vitamin Water from Walgreens- as I was having a weird craving and NEEDED it right then :) I remember having a contraction in Walgreens that nearly knocked to my knees. From there we walked over to the center and the midwife in training checked me; it was 1:25 pm. She said I was 5 cm, and we both assumed had a couple of hours to go.  My thought was to walk a bit and keep things going- in my head 5 was a looong way from baby.  My memory honestly starts to get a little blurry around this point, but I remember Elisabeth telling me, "Remember to focus on your labor and not the number! It doesn't mean it will be that long."
The three of us started walking the path across from Inanna at TWU.  We walked one lap around, and I remember thinking how crazy insane my labor pains were.  I felt defeated. I felt like a wimp!  I had to keep telling myself, "Labor is hard! Get your head in the game! It's gonna be awhile- so deal with it!" but inside I so wanted to scream for an epidural.  It was horrible pain, like the pain I recalled during transition with JB in the tub.  But I kept walking, Ben and Elisabeth by my side.  As we made our way around the loop for the second time, (and were at the furthest point from the center) I suddenly had a really long contraction, felt the color drain from me, and my water broke (1:50 pm).  At that point, I was frozen.  I couldn't move an inch.  I remember Ben saying, "Don't worry, we will just walk back to the center and you can have the baby there."  I was screaming, "I can't move! I need to have the baby now!!"
Again, I am sure I am leaving out details because from my perspective things were getting very much like tunnel vision.  I know that Elisabeth ran to get the midwife and Ben started carrying me across the field.  We all met back in the middle.  At that point I could feel the baby was coming.  It was a flurry of activity going on around me, I know that 911 was called, towels were brought, Jean had basic tools.  Several birth assistants, Elisabeth, Ben, and I think a couple of strangers were huddled around.  I knew I needed to push.  It was instinct kicking in, and baby was GOING to be born! I remember that I wasn't afraid- in terms of the birthing process, it felt normal- I just had to get the baby out right away!!  Literally within minutes of Jean & the team running across to the park, and maybe 3 or so pushes, Henry Tod Oehlschlaeger was born.  It was 1:57 pm. 
Shortly after HE was born (I remember saying, "It's a boy! He's a boy, right?!") the paramedics arrived. They were confused and concerned that everyone was ok.  Once it was confirmed that yes, this was a crazy scenario, but yes, everyone really was alright and we didn't need any medical attention- just help getting across the street to Inanna.... they carried me across on a stretcher to the center where we all recovered for a bit from both the shock and excitement of it all.  Henry weighed in at 8.8 lbs, 19 inches long.

  Here are Ben's posts from Facebook that day:
Social media also added to the whole "experience" of Henry's birth.  I would say his birth "went viral". Hehe.  Shortly after he was born, we were contacted by the Denton Record Chronicle who wanted to do a story.  They came just an hour or so after he was born to talk with us and take some pictures. 
The next day, both CBS and the CW called to do stories with us.  We couldn't believe it, and it still feels like an out of body experience, but we were on the evening news.
Henry's birth story is something I think I'm still processing.  It was amazing, I felt God's peace throughout and never doubted His presence and control through it all.  It was one of those things that I suppose would have been scary if I'd been told about it ahead of time, but in the moment- was filled with peace.  I said it often to those that asked; it was a normal (albeit FAST) birth in an abnormal environment.  One funny: we found leaves on both Henry and myself for days after! And when Elisabeth attended the birth of another friend the next day, they were still finding leaves and such in the bed over at the birth center. hahaha
I think Henry's birth often as an example of God's providence, protection, and all-knowing nature.  He planned it perfectly. There are lots of funny quips we toss around, and I've said/heard them all, "Yep, it's the park baby!" "Ya, he's the third/last kid and needed a good story" "Local celebrity!" "Wow, He's gonna make a statement with his life!" "Did you PLAN this???" "We wanted a 'natural' birth" "He was desperately trying to avoid a Valentine's Birthday! Everyone needs their own cake!" :)  But when all is said and done- we take just one look at this little guy.... and it is love. Our family is complete.