Sunday, December 20, 2015

  Savanna's Birth Story

My pregnancy with Savanna was fairly easy and uneventful. I worked until 33 weeks, then took the rest of the time left to enjoy some of the summer/back to school with my girls. I did have aches and pains, specifically in my sacrum (tailbone) area, which intensified as my pregnancy progressed. Sometimes I could hardly walk because my pelvis and sacrum hurt so much but with having three little girls to look after, I didn’t get much choice in the matter! At 36 weeks the midwife thought that baby felt like she was breech, so I went for an ultrasound that confirmed yes, she was. I started to panic a little bit because I really had my mind set on an intervention-free home birth and a breech baby would certainly throw a bit of a monkey wrench into that idea. My lovely chiropractor did some special adjustments and I spent lots of time throughout my days in various amusing positions to try and encourage the baby to flip around. Luckily at 38 weeks, she was finally head-down - it was such a relief.

via instagram - 41 weeks!

The weeks went on, and suddenly my due date had come and gone. I wasn’t entirely surprised to go over my due date since I had done so with Scarlett as well, but I was starting to get concerned about the size of the baby. The midwife ordered another ultrasound at 41 weeks to check on everything, and all was still well inside. But I was starting to get a little bit nutty, and had a couple meltdowns - I was mostly okay with still being pregnant, but when other people won’t leave you alone and keep asking when you are having the baby/if you had the baby, it really frazzles all your nerves a little bit! Seriously, give a mama a break! I saw the midwife on the Wednesday morning (at 41 +1 day) and we came up with a plan to induce on the following Monday if the baby hadn’t made her debut by then. It was a really hard conversation for me to have… I didn’t want to be induced (been there done that!), and I also didn’t want to let go of my hopes for a home birth. I was pretty devastated about it all. The midwife checked my cervix that day and said everything seemed very favourable. This gave me a glimmer of hope! I was contracting on and off the rest of that day, but nothing serious - I had been contracting on and off for a couple of weeks so I didn’t really think anything of it.

That night my mom arrived (she was supposed to come to help with the other girls and the baby - we never imagined she’d arrive before the baby did!) and she insisted the baby had been waiting for her. That night we kept joking that the baby had been waiting for her to get there. The next day, Thursday October 8th, Chris was away all day attending a special event through his work - basically he got to drive race cars all day long. It was a opportunity that he was so excited about, and I really did not want him to miss it because we’d never be able to send him on an excursion like that on our own. But as my due date came and went, and the 8th approached, we started to get a little bit nervous that he would be so far from home when I could go into labour at any second. But we agreed that he would go and enjoy his day - I told him I wasn’t even going to call him if I went into labour. As if I needed him out driving race cars all day, then getting on the highway to rush home like a maniac for the birth of his baby! I mean I trust the guy at all and he’s a great driver, but still!

Chris left early the morning of the 8th. I got up around 7:30 and started getting myself ready for the day, my Mom was downstairs helping the girls with their breakfast and getting Brooklyn and Brianna ready for school. I got in the shower and started having some contractions. Again, I didn’t think much of it… after having so many false starts already I just didn’t trust anything. After my shower I realized we were on our last roll of toilet paper and I thought, “I can’t have a baby and have no toilet paper in the house!”. So I told my Mom that we would need to go to Walmart after taking the girls to school. Meanwhile I was still contracting fairly regularly, but I still didn’t think anything of it. We dropped the girls off and my Mom, Scarlett and I headed to Walmart. It wasn’t until I had to stop during contractions while pushing the shopping cart that I thought, “Yeah, maybe this isn’t just nothing”. My Mom was telling me we should probably leave and get me home, so we headed out (not without price matching some stuff at the checkout first! haha) and I texted my friend Nancy (who happens to be a nurse who works in Labour & Delivery, Postpartum, and the NICU) to give her a heads up that I could maybe possibly be in labour. I still wasn’t entirely convinced. 

We got home and Nancy arrived shortly after, maybe around 10am. My Mom hung out with Scarlett and Nancy and I started walking. We went around and around my crescent so many times, trying to get things going. The midwives had said the day before that if I was contracting fairly regularly, they would consider breaking my water to try to get things going - so our mission was to get those contractions coming regularly! A couple of hours later, after Nancy had been insisting to me that I was in labour, we paged the midwife just to let her know what was going on. Since it didn’t seem like things were moving very quickly or anything (I was contracting every 3-5 minutes but I wasn’t that uncomfortable) the midwife and I agreed that I would page her again in a few hours to let her know how things are going, unless of course things were really picking up. A few more hours passed, lots more walking happened, and my Mom got the girls from school for me. Still the contractions were only every 3-5 minutes but I felt like they had picked up a bit in intensity and I was getting cranky, but I wanted the midwife to come check things out - I still wasn’t entirely convinced I was in labour. Since Scarlett’s birth had been so fast I thought there was no way this was the real thing! So I paged the midwife and she said they’d come over and see how things were progressing.

By the time both the midwife and the student midwife were there, it was probably around 5:45 or so. We went upstairs to my room and they checked how the baby was doing, and checked my cervix. I was 5cm and they could feel my waters bulging - definite progress! So they suggested that we go for a walk (to which I really felt like saying, ugh… again?!) while they set everything up because it looked like we’d be having a baby tonight. So the girls, Nancy and my Mom all started getting their shoes on. I went to the bathroom and just as I started down the stairs to head out, my water broke (6:12pm) all over the place. I was like, “Well, we aren’t going anywhere - my water just broke!”. Everyone was so happy and excited! And I finally accepted the fact that I was actually in labour! Haha. The dogs even started whining and crying, they totally knew something was up. I just stood there on the stairs and made a big mess.. hahaha. So the midwives continued getting set up, I got into my gown and waited for it all to start picking up. The contractions stopped for about 30 minutes or so and I just tried to relax… I knew this was the calm before the inevitable storm. At this point Chris was supposed to be home any time, so we didn’t bother calling or texting him. He got home around 6:45 and the girls were outside at the end of our street, screaming at him “Mommy’s water broke!”. The poor guy got home to a house full of midwives and probably had no idea if he had missed the birth or not. But the baby had seemed to be waiting for him all day, because very soon after he got home is when the contractions really started… and they were fast and furious. Now THAT is how I was expecting my labour to be! 

I started out leaning against the bed, then I was on a birthing stool the midwives had brought. Everyone was quiet to let me focus on getting through the contractions, and offered words on encouragement in between. They checked the baby throughout and everything seemed to be going really well. I was moaning to help me through the contractions and I felt confident, but the back pain was just so awful. They tried to convince me to get in the shower but I wasn’t having that. I felt like if I got in, I would never be able to get out… I was having a hard enough time moving around as it was. I ended up on the bed laying on my side for a little while. Nancy was beside me pushing on my sacrum area, the baby kept moving during my contractions and it was making everything hurt so much more - I never remembered the other girls being so active during labour. Chris was on my other side being quiet but supportive, he knew just what I needed. He brought me water and made me drink some, tried to help any way he could. Towards the end, when it was all so intense and I felt like giving up, I knew that meant we were almost at the finish line… but I won’t lie, there were moments when I felt like I might just die! I asked what time it was, somebody said it was 8:30. Shortly after I tried to sit up and said I felt like I needed to start pushing. They helped me get up and ready and checked things out, they said I still had a cm to go but to try pushing a little on the next contraction to see if it would help push the cervix out of the way. So we did that and it seemed to be working, and after a few pushes I got to 10cm and was ready to give it my all. Nancy reminded me of a conversation we had earlier that day and said to me, “Now remember what we talked about - don’t push too hard to fast!” because it would reduce the risk of tearing. With the other girls the pushing phase was very, very fast so I expected this would be the same. But it wasn’t at all. I was pushing, pushing, pushing and the baby just didn’t seem to want to go down. I was getting so tired and felt like it was taking forever. I kept asking “Why is this taking so long?!” and they said that maybe the baby was a little bigger than they had initially thought. Okay, you shouldn’t tell a lady that while she is trying to push out a baby! Anyway finally Savanna started dropping down more and she was ready to make her debut. Her heart rate was dropping a little bit and Nancy told me that baby wasn't happy how she was sitting, I wasn’t happy how I was feeling, so it was time to get her out. I didn’t know until after that her head wasn’t in the proper position and was tilted, which explains a lot of the back pain and also why she was so much harder to push out. My Mom came in at the last second, right as she was crowning - I’m glad she got to experience the birth of at least one of her grandchildren! After the baby’s head was delivered there was a bunch of commotion and everyone was moving pillows and moving me this way and that to get me to change positions, and I knew right away - she was stuck. Scarlett has gotten stuck too after her head was delivered so it was a familiar situation. Nancy was telling me to push, everyone was a bit panicked, and I could tell things were urgent. But the chaos was all very brief and there wasn’t any time to be scared about it, I just gave it my all. Finally Savanna Grace was born at 9:03pm - 9 days late, but most certainly worth the wait. She weighed 8lbs 10oz and was 22 inches long, with a nice big head - 35.5cm! Well no wonder she was so hard to get out, for me that’s a pretty huge baby! But she was so perfect and so amazing.

I lounged in my own bed snuggling my new baby girl on my chest. It was amazing. Once the placenta was delivered (which the midwives said was a “really large placenta”, and I saw it myself… it was a beast!) and I was all fixed up and feeling ready, I was able to get up and have a shower and get dressed into my pyjamas. Oh man that was awesome! The other girls I was attached to an IV for 24 hours after, I was so happy that wasn’t the case this time. The big sisters were home the whole time and got to meet their newest sister when she was only minutes old - that was such a great experience for them, getting to feel like they were actually a part of the big event. Chris had made it home, my Mom was there, my sister even dropped by shortly after the birth to see her newest niece, and my girls were there… everything was so perfect. Home birth is such an empowering and surreal experience. I never want to forget the feeling of laying in my own bed with my just-born baby on my chest with my family sitting around me in our home. It was such a special moment that I am so incredibly grateful for.

The midwives were so supportive and lovely. After Savanna was born they stayed around for a few hours to keep an eye on things and do some checks periodically, but mostly they stayed downstairs and let us love on our new baby. Nancy left shortly after Savanna was delivered - I felt bad, she never even held her or anything and she had spent all day long coaching me and supporting me! It was so wonderful having her there with me, especially since Chris was gone all day and didn’t even know he was coming home to a wife in labour. Nancy seemed to know just what I needed at just the right time… even though I yelled at her here and there and may have told her to shut up once or twice. She even remembered to grab the camera off the dresser and get some pictures (many of which are in the post!). And my Mom, she stayed downstairs with the girls for most of my labour to keep them occupied and distracted - they said they never once heard me! It was really such a relief that my Mom was here to keep an eye on everyone. I’m so happy she was here and got to be a big part of that special day too. Thanks for being there that day, Mom and Nancy. It meant so much to me and I will never forget it!

Having midwives for this pregnancy and birth was such an awesome experience. My only regret is that I wish I would have been more open to the idea of midwives sooner, so I could have had the same level of care for my other pregnancies! I had so much more say in terms of which prenatal tests to do or decline, which interventions I was okay with during pregnancy, labour, delivery and afterwards - and they talked to me about all these things way ahead of time so I could do my research and go into the birth feeling prepared and confident. I liked having control and declining what I didn’t find necessary for myself, and for Savanna. The midwives always really took the time to talk to me about everything and I never felt rushed. Don’t get me wrong, I did love my OB and wasn’t unhappy with my other births (even though my OB didn’t deliver any of the other girls anyway), but midwives provide an entirely different level of care. I will now and forevermore highly recommend that everyone who can should use a midwife - and home birth is such a fulfilling and rewarding experience too!

Everyone has adjusted so well to having Savanna finally here, a part of our family. All the girls just absolutely love her and there hasn’t really been much of any jealousy from any of them - I think maybe because we already had 3 kids, throwing one more in didn’t seem like such a big deal to any of them. Savanna is mostly a very happy, content baby - we did go through about a 6-8 week stretch where she was super cranky for 2-3 hours in the evenings, but she has recently found her thumb (we tried with the soother, we really did!) and is so much happier now that she can soothe herself. She nurses so well and is growing so much, and she sleeps wonderfully at night which makes us all very happy and well rested! It could certainly be worse and we are just so grateful that she is healthy and perfect! We feel so blessed.

Over the past 10 weeks, but especially in the first weeks, so many people have offered to help us in so many different ways - kind words, food, gifts, time, photos, and more - and I have asked myself so many times this last month, “What did I do to deserve so much kindness?!”. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to everybody who has made bringing our fourth daughter into the world such a wonderful, amazing experience. We appreciate every single one of you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Welcome to the world, Savanna Grace. We all love you oh so much!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


So it's already past mid-September... in fact we are closer to the end of it already, and today is the first day of FALL! Oh how this makes me happy, it's my favourite season by far! Brooklyn and Brianna are back in school and absolutely loving it. Brooklyn's new teacher is just awesome so far, and she totally loves her from what I can tell! Brianna has the same amazing teachers as last year which is typical for JK/SK students. I know that this won't last, but right now everyone is getting up in the morning without any yelling and getting ready for school with few (if any) difficulties. Brianna gives me a bit of a hard time some days (one day last week she changed outfits 4 times in one morning!) but I've known the kid for 5.5 years... I've come to expect a bit of drama from her. For the most part though our mornings go fairly smoothly, and it's actually so nice not having to worry about rushing off to work! What a difference it makes not having that on my plate 3-4 mornings a week too. Yay for maternity leave!

I thought Scarlett would miss her sisters and be upset when they went back to school, but she seems to have transitioned back into the routine just as easily as the other two girls. She seems happy to have a bit of one-on-one time with me, although I will admit we don't do all that much. We mostly hang around the house or run an errand here and there. I'm far too exhausted and worn out most days to do much more than that. But we play together at home and have cute little conversations about life, and she's really such an adorable little sidekick to keep me company at home. She's grown up a whole lot over these past few months, and she's better at keeping up with her sisters now - when they'll let her join in their fun, that is. Have I also mentioned that Scarlett is toilet trained now!? It's been probably about two months now, and the learning process was really so much easier for her than we expected it to be. Sometimes little people understand way more than you give them credit for.

Speaking of giving kids more credit - we really should not have doubted Scarlett so much when she insisted she wanted to take dance class! Brianna had decided back in the summer to try dance this year, and we figured we'd sign Scarlett up for one too - if she was willing to actually do it, that is. Scarlett insisted she wanted to go to "her" dance class. I've been through this with two other kids before at her age, and at 2.5 years old (or not even in this case!) most toddlers just aren't quite ready to do any sort of recreational classes that don't include Mom or Dad yet. But we signed her up and figured what have we got to lose? Well let me tell you, the little diva went in on her first day with no trouble at all and she just loved it! It was hilarious to see her in there because the class is for 2.5 - 4 year olds, and she's so teeny tiny to begin with... she looks like the most itty bitty ballerina you ever did see. She is just so adorable! She's had two classes now and went in all by herself for the second one and didn't look back. The teacher laughed with me after the class this past weekend and said she comes in and is like a little soldier, doing exactly what she is told and following along like all the bigger kids. I really can't believe it was that easy for her! Our lovely diva Brianna is also really loving her two classes so far as well (she is taking ballet and jazz) and you can't even tell by watching her that she hasn't taken dance classes before. I'm so happy that she's found something else she likes just as much as she liked gymnastics! I seriously can't wait until June when Brie and Scarlett have their first dance recital. I think I will probably just die from all the cuteness.

Brooklyn is doing really well with her 15 hours of gymnastics per week, even with being back at school. Our school has been completely supportive of her missing 1/2 a day once a week to attend her training and we really couldn't be more grateful that they took it so well! Her teacher is seriously so fabulous and is in contact with me regularly to discuss what Brooke is missing while she's not in class, and sends home material for her to read and work on so she won't fall behind - which the teacher straight up said she's not concerned about with Brooklyn. She's a fairly good student and she knows and understands that she needs to work hard to maintain her grades - it's a requirement that isn't only imposed by us and the school, but the gymnastics club insists upon it as well.

Lately I have really noticed Brooklyn being so super helpful and driven to make us pleased with her. Honestly she probably gets Scarlett up, takes her to the bathroom, helps her get her breakfast, and gets her dressed for me most mornings. It's so amazing to have her help, and I have been trying to give her lots of praise and positive reinforcement since in only a couple of weeks or less, I'm going to have even more on my plate. Brooke will also offer to help me with the dishes or other cleaning, and when she knows I'm feeling overwhelmed she will even tell me to sit down and relax. Of course she's not always the golden child and we do have to put her in her place sometimes - especially in terms of being bossy with Brianna. She will often be trying to help us and will be telling Brianna to do things that she was already told to do, but she doesn't exactly tell her in the nicest way. This results in them screaming at each other and then things escalate and everyone is frustrated and angry - and that's not helpful or productive for any of us.

Brianna has been her typical wild self lately, and I find the teachers telling me more often than I'd like that they had to separate her from some of her friends at school because she was being disruptive. She's always been our spirited one, our hyper-crazy-can't-calm-down girl. So it doesn't really surprise me, but it does make me worry about next year when she goes to grade 1 and is expected to sit down at a desk for most of the day. We've only been back to school for two weeks, so I'm hoping that after another week or two she will settle down a little bit. Regardless of her wacky wild ways, she's really coming along with her phonics and reading and she surprises me every time we sit down to read together. I'm excited to see what subjects she will be strong in a few years from now, and see how she differs from Brooklyn.

We're only about a week (give or take - the official due date is Sept 29) away from meeting our newest addition. Fun fact: I have spent approximately 3 years of my life being pregnant now! What?! That's just insane! Technically we are pretty much "ready" for this little girl's arrival, but I don't feel ready at all... I feel like when I go into labour I might start flipping out that I'm not ready yet. It doesn't exactly help that I am under the weather with a cold... nobody should have to experience coughing fits at 39 weeks pregnant. Just not fair! Sometimes I feel like I am so done with being pregnant, but I remind myself that this is the very last time I will ever get to experience this (for real!) and I'm just trying my best to enjoy these last days - especially because I know there are so many families out there who are not as fortunate as we are in terms of fertility. I don't think I'll ever really feel ready to have FOUR kids though! Just the very thought is overwhelming. Any time I'm having trouble getting out the door on time, or struggling at bedtime to get everyone settled, all I can think of is how much harder it will be with yet another little person to worry about. I'm sure it won't be awful and we will find a routine, find a way to make it all work... but I'd be silly to think it's going to be easy. Of course I am definitely super excited to meet her, and to see what she looks like, and for her sisters to shower her with love! Regardless of how difficult it may be, I'm very much looking forward to bringing our newest adorable princess into the world and seeing how she enriches and fulfills our lives. I just know she will be so amazing, just like her three older sisters.

Next time you see a post on here, it should be announcing her arrival! Crazy to think how fast the last 9 months have gone. Wish me luck for a beautiful, painless delivery (ha!). Happy Fall, friends!

Monday, August 10, 2015

  Oh Hey There, Summer!

So here we are, another couple months have passed and so many things have changed and happened around here - I'm sure you can say the same for yourselves! But it's SUMMER and who doesn't love summer?!

We had a super busy month of June, between gymnastics performances for Brooklyn and Brianna, all of the end of the school year shenanigans, plus Chris and myself working a lot. Both the girls had superb report cards at the end of the school year, and Brooklyn got the teacher she was hoping she would get for Grade 3. Summer got started, and suddenly in the blink of an eye, July had suddenly come and gone already - what?! We had holidays booked in July and went down to Ohio for a visit with my Mom and stepdad. The girls had a great time visiting with their Nana and Papa, we had some time to relax and be lazy, and I didn't have to cook or clean for 5 days straight - no complaints there. Thanks Mom!

In July, Brooklyn also started gymnastics training at a new club. It was a really difficult decision for us to take her out of the comfort of the club she had been training with since she was 2, but overall we are feeling very confident about this change and what it means for her future in gymnastics... as long as we can continue to figure out how to afford it year after year, that is!

Brianna has decided to take dance classes this Fall (her exact words were, "I want to dance and be on a stage!") so we are looking forward to seeing how that goes. I'm excited that she will get to do her "own thing". She isn't the same as Brooklyn, and she doesn't have to be like her or do the same things. We always want all our girls to feel like they can explore different avenues and interests. Brie has also shown a love for art, so that's something we're hoping to nurture in the future as well. She's becoming such a kind-hearted and interesting little person - even if her high energy is enough to make me completely crazy some days. But she is always up for a snuggle, and has a new obsession with high-heeled shoes. What a girl.

Now we are in August and I'm finding it hard to figure out where we'll fit in all those plans I had tucked away in my brain for the summer - school is less than a month away now! We have been spending a fair amount of time visiting with friends, but also quite a bit of time lounging around the house too. I do look forward to getting back to the school routine, but I'm always a little bit sad when my summer with the girls comes to an end. So I'm very much hoping we can squeeze in as much fun stuff as possible before then! And seeing as I just finished up working and am now on Maternity Leave, that opens up a LOT of extra time for me to spend with my gorgeous little girls. I am so excited and grateful that I have the opportunity to spend this time with them instead of working, because big changes are coming for all of us. I could have continued working for much longer if I had to, but enjoying the rest of this time as a family of 5 is something we have made a priority. We won't ever get this time back, and I have always said that time spent with my family is never something I will regret.

That being said... We are about 7 weeks away from our newest tiny addition, the freshest little lady of the household! The girls are excited to meet their new sister, but of course we all have our very valid concerns about how life will be once we have another bitty being to keep alive and well. I'm already feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, and I keep saying that this sweet girl can hang out in the womb for as long as she pleases. It certainly won't be any easier for any of us once she makes her debut! I know it will be lovely and wonderful and amazing, but let's not be naive. Four kids. Even the thought of it is somewhat insane!

Everyone keeps telling me "ohhhh, you're an old hand, you'll be fine!" but honestly I feel very intimidated by the entire idea of four kids. I didn't find the transition to 3 kids difficult at all (nor did I find it hard to have 1 or 2). Scarlett blended in seamlessly from the start - but it's definitely a lot harder now than it was when she was an infant. Now she's essentially a tiny person who walks and talks and makes her very strong opinions known on a regular basis. Luckily Brooklyn and Brianna are usually such great helpers and are very understanding that I sometimes need their help; even though I'm an adult and a Mommy I can't do everything on my own. I am grateful for them and so proud of the little ladies they are growing into.

Scarlett started toilet training several weeks ago and is doing so wonderfully - I actually can't recall when her last accident was. We are somewhat blown away by how quickly she picked it up; sometimes we forget that she isn't really a baby anymore even though she really still looks like one to us because she is so tiny at only 24lbs and 33 inches tall. She definitely got the short genes from her mama. She has also been out of her crib and sleeping in a bed for a couple of months or so now, and she's also doing great with that... except for yesterday when we finally actually removed the crib from her room and set it up in our room. She wasn't very happy about that at all! She is very insistent that it's "her bed" and even tried to get into it herself, but this morning she seemed to feel a little bit better about it. From her jibber-jabber conversation with me this morning, I think she's decided she'll let the baby borrow it - but it's definitely still her bed. Well, it's a start at least.

Well I'm out of time, and out of things to say for now. Enjoy the rest of your summer and best of luck with back-to-school time for your kiddos! I'll be around with another update probably just after school starts again.

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