Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I was going to write an entirely different post...but I feel compelled to write a post I've been waiting to write (and was going to write next) first because I have several friends struggling right now with this particular topic.

I don't profess to be perfect, or have all the answers, but I do feel like I've had a moment of personal clarity that I need to share in hopes that it will help others...So, here goes...

A few months ago I was really struggling. I was 30 weeks pregnant and still had people that were shocked and surprised when I told them that I was expecting. Who knows if they were just being nice and though that it would stroke my ego to say that they had no clue, but it wasn't helping...In fact, it was making me feel like a fat blob. I felt like a whale, I was securely fitting in most all of my maternity clothes, but nobody noticed...

Was I really that fat before I was pregnant?

That question plagued my thoughts every time I looked in the mirror...

I quickly took to Pinterest looking for any and all tips on losing weight post partum in order to be as skinny as possible as quickly as possible....but something funny happened while I was posting pin after pin of juice fasts, diets, exercises, smoothies that helped to foster rapid weight loss....

I came across a pin from a fitness instructor. She wanted to show how she could make herself look 10-15 pounds skinnier in a "Before and After" picture on the same day just by changing how she held her phone and a few pieces of her outfit...It was definitely an interesting pin to run across in the fitness section. I looked, thought about it for a minute or two and then continued in my fast and furious quest to find the weight loss secrets that nobody was telling me, trying to find the magic potion that would make me "gorgeous"...

However, this image stuck with me more than I thought it did initially.

I have many friends that are beach body coaches and selling various supplements and they are constantly posting "Before and After" pictures on Facebook for the programs they sell. (What I'm about to say next is not reflecting badly upon them. I'm sure their programs work for people and are great. Don't think I'm being negative about them).  I started to notice that in many of the "Before and After" pictures, I didn't believe that the women looked bad or fat in the Before pictures... The After pictures ranged from not much difference to me (making me think of the Pinterest pin I'd seen) and women that looked (to me) like someone could come along and snap them in half like a twig.  (Again, I'm sure the women in those pictures felt amazing about themselves, so good for them, but in my personal opinion, many of them didn't need to lose any weight at all and looked great Before...if they needed to lose some more to feel more healthy and happy, that is their prerogative)

Finally, one of my husband's friends posted a meme. It was a cartoon skeleton with the phrase "She be like, 'I finally met my weight loss goal!'"  I couldn't help but laugh...and it was in that moment that something clicked. This switch in my head that had me thinking so negatively about my body pre pregnancy, during pregnancy, and what it would be like Post Partum turned off...

My body was doing something AMAZING- something that not all women's bodies are able to do...So, WHY was I hating on myself? Why was I allowing myself to be so taken in by the world's standard of beauty? Why was I letting Satan win by choosing to believe the lies he was telling me- the lie that unless I have a body that is a certain size, weight and shape, I am ugly and unlovable?

My husband loves me. He makes that evident every day...no matter what shape I'm in...and, judging by the fact that his male friends were sharing that skeleton meme like it was a bottomless pack of gum and laughing about it on the comment threads saying how true it was tells me that the majority of our husbands probably feel the same....

I reached a place of acceptance.

I remember, before my wedding, several friends approaching me in an "intervention" because they believed I was starting to get "scary skinny" (let me clarify that at this time my weight fluctuated between 135 and 140... by BMI standards, I was on the edge of the overweight and average category...nowhere near underweight, but on my frame, I apparently looked "scary skinny".)  I assured them that I was eating healthy and not even trying to lose weight before the wedding because I didn't want to fall into the pitfalls of the bridezilla whose only problem is that she desperately needs a sandwich... I was the smallest I'd ever been before Faith was born. I had edged into a size 4, and was fitting very comfortably into a 6 (that weird in between place where one size is too big but the other is too small)...

I am a realist. My body has changed. My hips are wider because they have spread to allow a baby out. My body is carrying weight differently than it did before I had kids... everything is just different. I will likely never see that size 4 again because, honestly, even if I did get down to 135 to 140 again, I'd probably never be able to get the pants over my wider set hips...I'm totally okay with that. I was okay with that after I had Faith and Phillie...but why have a goal size?  Since things have changed, since I'm not sure what my body will do as time passes post partum is it really realistic to chase this goal of an elusive number? Also, as I demonstrated with my story, why do we even have goal weights? Let's be real, every body carries weight differently and scary skinny on me may be perfect on another frame... I will never be a size 0 perfect model from a magazine...even that model isn't the perfect model size 0 in the magazine (Hello PHOTOSHOP!)

So...this time around...there is no goal weight, no goal size....My goal?

How healthy do I feel?

I want to be healthy enough to run around the park with my girls without being out of breath. I want to have dance parties that last longer than 1 song on Pandora. I want to feel energized. I want to eat as healthy as possible so I can be around to see all the wonderful things that my daughters are going to do with their lives and I DON'T want my daughters to ever feel like they need to ascribe to some worldly idea of what is beautiful, because they ARE beautiful just for being them. I want them to be healthy and happy and the best way for me to do that is to be an example of what healthy and happy is.

I am going to love my body for all it does for me and continues to do for me. I am going to marvel at the amazing things it has allowed me to do. I am not going to hate it for not looking like some model in a magazine.

I will be beautiful, because I AM beautiful no matter what size I wear or what number is on the scale. All that matters is that I FEEL healthy and know that I am doing all that I can to be around for a long, long time.

I posted this photo to my Facebook and Instagram today:

I will be real...Right now, I weigh 175 lbs. By the world's standards am I overweight? Yep. Do I give a flying fart in space? NOPE.  What I care about is how I feel....and considering that I am running on average on about 3 hours a sleep a night and able to keep 3 kids under 3 alive and chase after them all day, I'm doing pretty darn well! I feel beautiful...why? Because my body, one month ago, did something AMAZING. I ran a marathon of 10 hours of labor, shock so bad that my teeth were chattering and my jaw ached, nausea from too much adrenaline, pushing out a baby that was facing the wrong direction and coming home 24 hours later to NO HELP while I learned to navigate taking care of an Autistic 2 year old, a very spoiled almost 2 year old and a newborn... I. AM. EPIC.

I should be a freaking legend!

Do I still have my moments where I feel let down about my body? Yes, but that is because most of my clothes are too big or too small...its hard to feel dapper when nothing fits properly...but my sweet husband helped with that this weekend.I have a few new items to wear that fits my body NOW...not my body in 3 months, 6 months, etc.  I am dressing the amazing body I have now, I am not going to focus on the body I will have down the road.

I am not on a diet. I am just making sure that I get more than enough water in the day, am eating 5 servings of fruits and/or veggies, and 3 servings of dairy a day (just like any nutritionist would recommend). I feel energized because I'm eating a lot of healthy foods (I feel like I'm always eating, but I'm always eating because its amazing how hard it is to get 5 servings of veggies or fruits in a day when you're only eating them at a meal...so I get lots of good snacks.) Of course, I'm tired and exhausted at times (who wouldn't be on only 3 hours of sleep?) but I know that I'm feeling much better than I would be if I was snacking on potato chips all day.

So...in short, there is no magic potion or pill that will make you "beautiful"...

Decide that you are going to embrace the body you have today and that you will embrace the changes that come through healthier living. Be natural and the rest will follow... Be YOU.

Right now, I couldn't imagine exercising full on. It takes quite a bit to run up and down the stairs to take 2 wiggly toddlers for naps, baths, and time outs and to chase them around the house and out of things they shouldn't be into. To top it off, my husband hasn't been home longer than 4 days at a time since we brought the baby home from the hospital...so I've been doing almost everything in the house and when it comes to caring for our children 100% on my own... but, I have decided to start doing 20 sit ups and 20 push ups twice a day to get my muscles back into order....

Nope, I'm not going to train to run a marathon. I've never been a runner...not even when I was a kid...I don't think that is going to change now.

For now, I am going to do things I enjoy, eat healthy and listen to my body.

If I want to dance with my kids, I'm going to dance with them until I can't dance anymore. I will run up and down the stairs in my house as many times as it takes to give all the necessary time outs and naps that my kids need...but I'm not going to stress about it. As they get older and I have more time, I will be able to do more for me to help condition my body to be more healthy.

I am not a Kardashian...I don't have thousands of dollars to pay a personal trainer...but on top of that, I also don't want to spend HOURS and HOURS away from my kids chasing an unrealistic goal.

I'm going to be ME and let things fall into place...because the ME that I am is beautiful all the time.

Oh, my fellow mammas, if you're working to lose weight, ask yourself one question...Are you doing it because you believe you're "fat"? If the answer is yes, then maybe we need a slight attitude adjustment. Lose weight to be more healthy, not because you are LESS because someone in a beauty magazine somewhere decided that a certain size or weight was more desirable.

If you're feeling down or overwhelmed...start small. Change the way you're eating, don't diet...Follow suggested dietary guidelines: 3 a day of dairy, 5 of fruits and veggies and drink your water...I promise, you will feel AMAZING... and if you want to eat a darn cookie- EAT IT! Don't feel guilty...

I'm gonna eat a cookie if I want a cookie...I'm just not going to eat 12 cookies because I know I won't feel so healthy afterwords...in fact, I'll probably feel like throwing up...as would anyone who eats 12 cookies.

Don't judge yourself by numbers...judge yourself by how healthy you feel. Make your fitness goals about what you'd like to accomplish as opposed to the numbers on your scale or your pants...a number is just a number...you are more than a number. How you function, how your family functions- those are the things that count most. If  you're not currently functioning, then YES, by all means make a change...but don't make the change because you are allowing yourself to hate the one person you should love more than you realize you should- YOU!

I am Brittany. I may not be the world's version of perfect,but to my children I am perfect. To my husband, I am essential. I matter. My body has done and will do amazing things. I choose to foster healthy habits and focus on developing habits as opposed to insignificant numbers.

This is my epiphany.

Hugs and loves until next time, darlings!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Breastfeeding Breakdown

I want to start this post with a disclaimer... These are MY thoughts and reflections after my experience. Just because this was my experience, doesn't mean that it will be or is everyone's experience. I just feel its important to tell it like it is.

I will take you back to that special moment I described in my last post.

I laid in the delivery bed, shaking uncontrollably from shock and adrenaline after delivering one of the most beautiful babies on the planet... I FINALLY had the chance for skin to skin contact (something I had planned and wanted with my other two kids but because of pre-term labor with #1 and hospital policies with #2, I was denied the opportunity). Little Vi started to root, the  nurse, knowing I was shaking so badly, asked if I even wanted to attempt to let her latch. I nodded my head through my tears and like magic, she had a mouth big enough to latch (Yes, something you're not told when you're younger about breast feeding, when you're well endowed, sometimes the baby doesn't have a big enough mouth to latch and feed...this had been my fate with my other two kids.) Without any assistance to get the latch right, she started to suckle like a champ...

Of course, I had my other concern. Because of the way my breast anatomy is built, I don't produce milk until late in the game and normally don't produce colostrum until a few days after birth.

I voiced this concern to the nurse. She said she would send a referral into the lactation consultant ASAP.

My meeting with the lactation consultant this time around was VERY different from my experience after I had Phillie. This lactation consultant was kind, she listened, she didn't try to dismiss my concerns, and she tried to give me all the suggestions she could to make my attempts at breast feeding this time around successful.

Towards the end of our session, Vi started making gulping sounds every once in a while. The lactation consultant said that is usually a sign they are getting something...it may not be much but she was getting something...but considering that there were several minutes between gulps, she also knew that my production was slow to start.

She told me to keep at it, to pump as much as I could after I'd fed her to encourage production to be faster, and to take each day as it came. The best part was how supportive she was about the decision to continue or not to continue being mine and mine alone and that there was no shame if things didn't work as long as I had tried my best.

Well..I took that advice and gratefully accepted the support...I just wish that she had told me a few other things.

I wish I'd been told how painful it would be even with a good latch for the first few weeks... I wish I'd been warned about cluster feeding (where the baby wants to feed constantly every 5 minutes for 2-3 hours at a time), and I wish I'd been prepared for the feelings of indifference I would have.

I assumed that since we were latching like champs with no help (the lactation consultant gave us a 9 out of 10 score for our latch, and the only reason she gave me a 9 was because baby was so sleepy and I wasn't successfully able to get her to wake up very easily.), everything was going to be smooth sailing.

I was so wrong.

Here is where MY feelings come in. Take them or leave them, but I'm going to keep it real.

While I wasn't blistered or cracked, my nipples were bruised and sore because Vi had and has such a strong sucking reflex. Nursing was so painful that I would have to psyche myself up to do it EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

It didn't feel natural. It didn't feel magical. It didn't feel like a bonding moment...in fact, it felt like the opposite of a bonding moment. I started to resent feeding time.

Because my production was slow, Vi started cluster feeding, which made it even worse.

I would cry every time it was time for her to eat (I'm not exaggerating. I was in tears every time I had to lift my shirt). I was scared. A) It hurt so badly that it felt like a sick form of torture and B) was this going to be one of those times where she would latch for 10 minutes on each side, then 5 minutes later she would want to go again and the cycle would continue for 3 hours making the pain even WORSE the next time?

I called my L&D nurse sister. She has done a few breast feeding consultations in her day... I knew my latch was fine. As long as I wasn't blistered or bleeding, I was assured it was fine...but there had to be something else I could do.

Finally, the truth: Its normal for it to hurt and be a sick form of painful torture...your nipples have to callous up. You just have to push through it,but it will get easier...

I felt defeated, but continued because I had no reason not to other than me being selfish and not wanting to be in pain...

Baby had stopped having bowel movements and wet diapers around day 4 post partum. This meant she wasn't getting enough of whatever I was producing. I did what the lactation consultant had told me to do and started supplementing. When we went to the doctor's office on day 5 post partum for him to check to be sure we weren't having any complications from Group B Strep, I told him I'd started to supplement and why and he agreed I had done the right thing...

Day 6, I finally started to produce milk as I pumped...but I was still not able to keep up with baby's needs and I was in so much pain that I wasn't sure I could keep torturing myself.

I realized that I wasn't enjoying my baby...I was dreading time with her. I was resenting having her attached to my breast every 5 minutes...

I won't lie when I say I was somewhat relieved on Day 7 when she started exhibiting symptoms of a milk allergy or intolerance. She was getting eczema on her back and face, she had mucousy diarrhea, she was wretching like she was preparing to vomit after she ate, and she was super gassy and irritable. I recognized all of the symptoms verbatim from what I'd experienced with Faith. It took us 6 months to discover that a milk allergy was the culprit with her and I didn't want to take that long this time around...

We tested for an intolerance first. I started to supplement with a sensitive formula and relied on information I'd read on breast feeding websites that milk proteins in breast milk were already partially broken down like they were in a sensitive formula. This helped with the diarrhea, but the eczema and gas were still catastrophic and we still had diarrhea in about half of the poopy diapers we changed, and she was still making wretching noises after a feeding.

Of course, while I was dealing with the pain of breast feeding and trying to figure out how to get baby over the symptoms she was exhibiting, everyone in the house came down with stomach flu. I will say I feel very blessed that I was still breast feeding when this was going on because it kept her from catching it. After watching how sick her big sisters got, I know without a doubt that we would have ended up in the hospital with Sweet Vi in the PICU if she had caught it. I got sick early on and Jeff fed her with a bottle while I pumped in order to spare her from being too close to me and catching it that way.

After about a week (a week of Hades...trying to breastfeed when you're in intense pain and don't want to AND clean up after puking kids while healing from delivering a baby just the week before is NO picnic..), we tried the soy formula. The plan was that I would pump to keep production up on the off chance that the soy didn't give us any change either. However, after the first bottle, it was like night and day. No wretching after her feeding, no gas after the feeding...for the first time in a week, my baby slept through the night with no tummy discomfort.  The night after we started our soy experiment, I woke up engorged and desperate to pump at the same time that baby woke up for food. Out of desperation, I went ahead and let her nurse because I knew I couldn't wait the 15-20 minutes it would take for her to eat her bottle to pump...BIG mistake... I spent the rest of the night up with a gassy, miserable, wretching baby.

That sealed the deal. She was so different after a bottle feeding on the soy. I broke the news to my husband that we were done breast feeding and secretly did a happy dance on the inside.

Beyond everyone being sick, I had realized how difficult it was going to be to maintain a breastfeeding schedule with my other kids to care for. My sister had assured me that around the 6 week mark things would be easier and baby would eat much faster, but, to be honest, between dealing with 2 toddlers , one of which needs to be on a rigorous therapy schedule for Autism and doesn't have the communication skills to understand why she has to wait for a snack or a sippy, and the other being impatient and adjusting to not being the "baby" anymore, and the pain that I was told would go away eventually, I was at the end of my rope... Jeff came home at the end of a week of hell with two sick kids and I broke down and sobbed in his arms. I was at the end of my rope. I apologized for giving up on breast feeding but explained that the bottle had made things so much easier that week...for one, it was nice to not have an irritable baby to deal with on top of puking kids, and it was so much faster to feed her with a bottle. She would eat, be full, and sleep so I could deal with the house that was slowly imploding around me.

It has been a week since we gave up breast feeding.

Yes, I know that I could have cut dairy out of my own diet and continued, but, to be honest, I don't necessarily think that is the healthiest option for either of us. It means I end up lacking important nutrition in my own body and she has to rely on me to be vigilant enough to try to replace what I'm lacking with another food option. Because of my Insulin Resistance, maintaining my diet to be healthy is already tricky and time consuming as it is. I lacked the patience to try to find substitutes and I knew that would leave both of us at risk for health problems. A few studies released the week before I gave birth actually addressed those concerns and found that in all cases, the mother that cut out the entire dairy food group to continue nursing ended up having a higher occurrence of osteoporosis later on in life and when they tested the nutrition content of the breast milk, it actually had LESS nutrients than formula.

I consulted her pediatrician about the milk intolerance on Tuesday at her 2 week well child check (we had to push it back a week because everyone was vomiting and I wasn't about to put 2 sick toddlers into the car and a newborn and drive to the doctor's office ALL BY MYSELF). He agreed that I had hit the nail on the head with the diagnosis and laughed that I was making his job too easy. I told him we were still dealing with extra gas sometimes as we were adjusting to the soy, but he said that unless it gets to the point it was before, we won't worry about it because the next option is the Nutramigen formula which is  much more expensive and smells SUPER nasty.  He said as long as she isn't having diarrhea and there is no eczema, we will keep her on the soy and label her with a milk intolerance and reassess whether its an allergy or not when she hits the year mark.

In the end, I will say that, in spite of the torture, I had every intention of continuing my breast feeding experience and would have had she not had the milk intolerance. I did get the experience of watching everyone in my house vomit and have diarrhea for a week and a half and my baby didn't get sick at all because of the antibodies in my breast milk. I see the benefits. I just couldn't let her be miserable and sick with a milk intolerance in order to continue.

Drying up sucks and is painful too, but I am sad to admit that I wasn't able to REALLY start enjoying my baby until this week.

I look forward to feeding time now. With my hectic schedule taking care of Faith and Phillie, feeding time is a time now when I can focus 100% on snuggling and loving Vianca. I no longer have the mental block of searing pain and fear standing between us. I feel more bonded with her now than I did 3 weeks ago when we were bringing her home from the hospital.

 I fully believe that it was an act of God that she was able to breast feed long enough to be spared being sick with the nasty stomach flu that hit our house. With Jeff being out of town, as well as ALL of my in laws that live in Logan, I don't know what I would have done if I'd had a baby in the PICU with stomach flu and dehydrated and two sick kids at home.  However, in an odd way, I feel like her milk intolerance was a blessing too.

I felt so guilty for resenting the time I needed to spend with my baby to feed her. I felt guilty for wanting to run and hide every time she cried out to be fed... the intolerance took the guilt out of the scenario. I was able to stop breast feeding without beating myself up for being selfish and just not wanting to put up with the pain anymore.

I find myself wondering if things would have been different had I been handed a different deck of cards when I brought Vi home. Jeff was sent away for the week on a business trip right after we brought her home, I had no family around to help and I was running on very little sleep because of cluster feedings and having a gassy baby. When you couple that with two toddlers, it definitely doesn't bode well for feeling well rested or like you're successfully adjusting to being a mom of three...but then add to that having a two week old baby, getting stomach flu yourself and having to take care of two toddlers with stomach flu. I really was fighting a losing battle. I'm sure much of the resentment, fear, and frustration I was dealing with came from a place of severe sleep deprivation and being completely exhausted beyond all reason... in the end, I really do feel blessed that I had the time I did in order to keep Vi healthy when everyone was sick, but I am also grateful that I was able to stop so I could focus on enjoying my baby and not have to focus on the pain and fear that I had come to associate with breast feeding.

Ultimately, I needed to remember my advice from a post I made a few weeks ago about breast feeding. You need to do what is best for YOUR family and focus on making the decision that is right for all of your kids so that you can enjoy being a mom without added pressure.

Breastfeeding is great, and my hat goes off to the blessed women who are able to push through and continue and those that are willing to put their own health at risk to cut out an entire food group and continue on, but I can honestly say that I'm not so sure its for me. I will, of course, try again with the next baby. I always want to try and I will continue to hope for the magical situation where I'm lucky enough to have it work out, but this time it was just too much with everything else I already need to be able to do for my other kids, and I think I would have gone crazy if I'd tried to find something to replace dairy in my diet. I barely have time to eat as it is right now...

To my friends that are questioning whether or not its for them, I urge you to try and don't be afraid to make the discovery that its just not going to work. Its worth the effort, your experience may be different than mine, but if you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed, and feeling like you can't enjoy your baby it may be time to ask yourself if its really worth  the emotional toll and don't fear the answer or feel like a failure for it. Every family is different. Every mom that works with an intent of the best for her family is a good mom.

Hugs and loves until next time, darlings.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The First Adventure of Vianca Violet (A Birth Story)

The weeks leading up to June 23 were a blur of horrible contractions coupled with no change and MUCH frustration.

I left my 37 week appointment with my doctor almost certain I would be in labor before the end of the week. I was only 1 cm dilated, but I was 70% effaced. The doctor believed that surely I would HAVE to be in labor with the cervix being as soft as it was...

I showed up at my 38 week appointment exhausted and in pain. My weekly ultrasound revealed that the baby had their heart set on being posterior (sunny side up, facing up, however you want to say it.) By the ultrasound tech's measurements she was long and already nearing 8 lbs... I was still only 1 cm dilated, but 85% effaced...this is when the doctor became concerned. Sometimes, a posterior baby has a head that is too big to descend and cause dilation. He was also concerned if we waited much longer, she would be too big to deliver because, by the measurements we had, she had grown 3 1/2 pounds in the last 2 weeks.  (and I was taking stock in the measurements because 2 friends that had the same techs measure them in the last few months before delivering their babies had their measurements be almost spot on at over 10 lbs for one and almost 10 lbs for another...so I too was concerned about the size of the baby considering my biggest at this point had been 6 lbs 9 oz.)  

My doc opted to go ahead and schedule the induction for medical reasons. He was concerned about growth being too fast because of the gestational diabetes, and he was concerned that I wasn't going to go into labor on my own because of baby's position and head size...He put us on the schedule for the following Monday (the soonest he could do it since the hospital was booked for the rest of the week and they don't do inductions over weekends unless there is an emergency situation).

The weekend was painfully slow (literally, painful...contractions came steadily but never got hard enough to warrant going into L&D.)

Monday morning, I set my alarm for 4:55 AM. I woke up, tried to get myself alert and called in at 5 AM on the dot to see what time I needed to come in for my induction. I was expecting to be told they would call back in a few hours, but the nurse looked up my file, saw the reasons for induction and told me to come in at 7 AM. I was shocked it would be so soon, but eagerly accepted the time.

Jeff and I went and got donuts and orange juice for breakfast for everyone, gave my parents some last minute instructions about watching the girls and we made our way to the hospital.

We were a few minutes early, but the nurses were excited to see that we were and took us right back. They put us in a room right across from the nurses' station so that they could monitor us more closely given the doctor's concerns. The nurses were AWESOME! They were all chipper, kind, and eager to make my birth experience as easy going as possible.

I let the nurse taking care of me know that I was more nervous for the IV placement than the actual labor. Considering it had taken 5 pokes for them to get an IV with Phillie (my veins are juicy and great for blood draws, but they rupture and roll easily when it comes to IVs). She made my day when she told me that she was going to numb the IV site before sticking in the catheter needle.

It still took 2 pokes...which made me all the more grateful for the numbing power of the anesthetic she used. The first site she picked had a branch in the vein and she accidentally ruptured the site (she apologized and felt so guilty. I smiled and assured her that as long as she was going to numb me up first, she could poke me as many times as she would like...)  Attempt #2 was much faster. The needle went in like butter. She actually was concerned she had ruptured the vein because it went in so easy, but she clapped her hands together and proudly proclaimed "We're in business!" when the bolus of IV fluid showed that all was well.

She then checked me, watched the monitor for a few minutes to see what the contractions I was already having looked like, and explained exactly how she was going to proceed with the Pitocin. She was so sweet and reassuring.

Seriously- no matter how many times you give birth, you always need that...and you ALWAYS need someone to explain something to you again because you forget a lot. I think that is the one theme I saw this time in my labor and delivery- I was shocked at how much I'd forgotten in 22 months between babies. It was so nice to have nurses that explained it like it was my first time.

Things from that point were pretty straight forward. The contractions gradually got more and more uncomfortable as the nurse gradually turned up the Pitocin after checking me and finding that no progress, or very little, had been made. The doctor came in to see how I was doing and broke my water around 9 AM. It was nice to see him in person. My last doctor had the nurses break my water and I didn't see him until it was show time. Dr. Olsen was awesome and made sure to let me know that if I had any questions or concerns that he was willing to come back up at any time to talk with me.

The nurse had turned the Pitocin up 3 times by 11 AM... After the third time she turned it up,my body went into shock because of the contractions. I started shaking, my teeth were chattering, and I couldn't do anything to stop it. I was dealing with the pain, it was probably a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, but as soon as the nurse saw that the shock had set in, she asked if I was ready for the epidural. My water had been broken, so there was no going back at that point and I could have it at any time. I had been trying to go as long as I could without it. My motto definitely is that you don't get a medal for the hardest or longest labor without an epidural,but I wanted to wait until I couldn't take it anymore and I felt I was okay pain wise,but I deferred to my nurse...I am so glad I did...About 10 minutes later, I got up to go to the bathroom and the shaking was so bad that I had to be held up to make it. I realized that, even though pain wise I was tolerating labor, my body needed a break and the shaking and shock were both signs that it was time to give in and have the epidural.

I walked out of the bathroom right as the Anesthesiologist showed up...he took one look at me and said, "It looks like I made it just in time, eh?" (He was super nice and super funny).

The last time I had an epidural, the nurses wouldn't let Jeff anywhere near the bed. This time, he was encouraged to come to my bedside and help hold me up. To be honest, it was so nice to have him there. I was so grateful to be able to lean on him as opposed to a stranger...don't get me wrong, nurses are great, but they aren't your husband at a time when you want to feel his strong arms around you.

I forgot about the loud snapping sound the needle makes as it goes into your spinal column to place the catheter...I jumped...and then I apologized and started crying. I just couldn't control my body or my emotions at that point. The Anesthesiologist was sweet and assured me that I hadn't messed anything up. He attempted to place the catheter, but kept tweaking a nerve, causing me to kick my right leg...He finally had to give up and try to place the epidural a 2nd time. (That's right, 2 times to place the IV and 2 times to place the epidural...I was an overachiever that day, I guess.)  The 2nd time was a charm, except for the fact that for some reason I wasn't as numb on my left side and my pelvis wasn't numbing at all. The nurse opted not to place a catheter and to drain my bladder manually instead...I felt the tube go in EVERY.SINGLE.TIME...

But...in spite of its flaws, I was SUPER grateful for the epidural. The nurse kept encouraging me to sleep...she could tell I was tired...and I kept trying to stay up because I felt guilty that Jeff was sitting there all alone with only his computer to keep him company. Once I finally gave in to sleep, the shaking started to subside and the shock went away for a while.

We also had some issues with my blood sugar throughout the labor. It went from too low to too high, and then to too low again. It was definitely a rollercoaster...first I could have popsicles and flavored ice chips, then I couldn't have anything, then they were scrambling to get my blood sugar up again...just UGH...I have to laugh because I felt so bad. I kept apologizing to the nurses for being a difficult patient. They all laughed and reminded me that I couldn't help it and that I was FAR from the most difficult patient they had been dealing with that day.

Finally, a 5 PM, during the shift change (because I'm cool like that), I started to feel pressure to push and the "ring of fire" (remember, the epidural hadn't numbed my pelvis for some reason).  I mentioned it to the nurses as they were doing the shift change. They checked me and I had gone from a 5 to an 8 in an hour. Of course, they reminded me not to push because it could cause deep cervical tears and they said they'd keep a close watch on me. My new nurse and old nurse discussed whether or not they would call the Anesthesiologist to give me a bolus of different epidural medicine in order to try to get my pelvis to numb up. The new nurse thought that maybe they wouldn't because, once I was fully dilated, I could have the baby out in a few pushes(especially because I'd gone from a 5 to an 8 in an hour), but the nurse that had been with me all day was sage and wise...she said to call him. They deferred to me and I said that it would probably be easier to deal with the pressure and NOT push if my pelvis was numb.

At 5:20, the Anesthesiologist came. He checked lines, asked some questions about how I was feeling in order to assess if he could give me anything else, and gave me the bolus. He honestly explained that at this point he didn't believe it would have enough time to help, but he wanted to try...I'm so glad he did.

By 6 PM, the bolus hadn't taken full effect, but the ring of fire was gone...however, I started feeling CONSTANT pressure. I knew her head was RIGHT THERE. I hit the call button.

My nurse walked in the room:

Nurse: Hey, what can I do for you? Do you want some more ice? Another pillow? Another popsicle?

Me: Ummmm I think you need to check me

Nurse: I just checked you after the Anesthesiologist was here 20 minutes ago. You were still an 8. Why? You feel different?

Me: Ummm...I need to push...LIKE NOW!

The nurse scrambled to get on some gloves and quickly checked.

Nurse: Wow! You are definitely a 10 and her head is DEFINITELY right there. I will call Dr. Olsen. PLEASE don't push until he gets here...No matter how much you feel like you need to. Just BREATHE through it...(I later found out that baby was actually crowning and my poor nurse DEFINITELY didn't want to have to catch a baby before Dr. Olsen got there.)

It felt like it took FOREVER for Dr. Olsen to get dressed and get there...it was more like 10 minutes...but when you HAVE to push and you can't its a special kind of torture.

Dr. Olsen came in the room all chipper and announced that I had "won"...Apparently, me and another patient of his were being induced at the same time. We were neck and neck when it came to who would deliver first. Dr. Olsen came towards the table to start delivering when a nurse frantically ran into the room.

"You're other patient is fully dilated."

Dr. Olsen's eyes got wide as saucers.

"I am SO SORRY." He said "She is going natural. I can't make her wait."

My poor nurse looked like she was ready to throw up. I was shaking again, uncontrollably, as adrenaline surged through my system.

I smiled through my shakes and told him to go. I had an epidural and it was almost unbearable not to push. I couldn't imagine not having one and being told to wait.

Dr. Olsen ran out of the room like a bullet shot from a gun...

My poor nurse sat down at the end of the bed begging me to breathe through the contractions... She kept chanting "I don't want to, but I can catch this baby if I have to."  It must have been her mantra to keep her calm...

20 minutes went by incredibly slowly...but, as the grace of God would have it, the bolus of epidural meds kicked in, in full force at that time.  I felt pressure, but not the intense, uncomfortable pressure I'd been feeling before. I was able to breathe through the chattering teeth and contractions. My jaw felt like it was going to fall off because I was shaking and my teeth were chattering so much. The nurse did her best to remind me to breathe and relax so that the shaking would lessen.

Finally- When the nurse was starting to get REALLY concerned she was going to need to catch a baby, Dr. Olsen rushed back into the room and quickly washed up and dressed in a new gown.

True to my past labor experiences, I was a champion pusher. 4 contractions later, Vianca Violet made her appearance.

As suspected, her position and head size were preventing her from moving down the birth canal. Dr. Olsen did manage to turn her, but said she turned right back. She was bound and determined to enter the world face up...I guess she just wanted everyone to see how beautiful she was right away...

However, she was not the over 8 lbs bohemuth that the doctor had feared from the ultrasound measurements. One nurse estimated 7 lbs 5 oz...but was a "tad" off...Vianca weighed in at 6 lbs 13 oz.

I got to have another very different experience this time. With Faith, the nurses had attempted to put her on my chest after birth, but it was apparent she had respiratory issues. She was on my chest for 2.2 seconds before they whisked her to the warmer...I didn't even see her face until 8 hours later. With Phillie, the hospital didn't offer to or even try to put her on my chest and when I asked about skin to skin, I was told that they wouldn't do it... I was pleasantly surprised when the nurses asked about putting her on my chest to clean her off and skin to skin right when I checked in for the induction...and now I wish so badly that Faith hadn't had the issues she did and that I'd had the opportunity with Phillie... The nurses were able to put her right on my chest and clean her off after she was born. I got to look into her big, beautiful eyes and I probably held her for a full 10 minutes before they took her over to the warmer to finish cleaning her off, weigh her and measure her. Then, RIGHT after she was weighed and measured, the nurses helped me undo the top of my gown and she was placed against my chest. I won't lie...I cried as all of this was going on. It was definitely a bonding moment that I'd never been able to have before and it was almost physically relieving to experience it. I was shaking so badly I could barely hold her but the nurses were right there to facilitate it all and help me because I didn't have the strength.

When Vianca started to root around, they helped me get her into a hold to nurse and miraculously, unlike her sisters, she had a mouth that was big enough to get a good latch, and she did it instinctively with no assistance. While I have some more reflections on breastfeeding that I will share in another post (spoilers: it didn't work out again and we are using formula again, but, like I said, that is for another post), I will say that moment was different and so special. It was definitely a moment that created an instant bond that I was grateful to feel and was overwhelmed by.

After another hour in Labor and Delivery, we were moved up to Recovery. The nurse and I laughed that we kind of had to do a "Weekend at Bernie's" type maneuver to get me into the wheelchair because the epidural hadn't completely worn off, but I had enough movement that I could move to the side of the bed and scoot off myself (unlike with Phillie where they had to move me about 20 minutes after delivery and 2 nurses had to drag me into the wheelchair...) and finally, we got some rest.

The post partum period wasn't nearly as painful as it had been with Faith or with Phillie. The nurses did a great job staying on top of my pain meds and they did a good job massaging my stomach so that the post partum contractions didn't have to do all the work of shrinking my uterus back down. I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually able to sleep that night instead of being up dealing with contractions that were as painful as they were during delivery.

I tried my best to keep the baby in the room with me, but I desperately needed sleep after being in labor all day and every little sound she made was keeping me awake. I was so grateful that they had a well child nursery (the hospital I delivered in with Phillie didn't have one). The nurses happily took her and agreed to bring her back for feedings.

I had a really pleasant experience with the lactation consultant this time around. She was super positive and she was super supportive of whatever my decision would ultimately end up being. She was very aware of the struggles I would have given that I have problems producing enough milk and that I can't take the herbal supplements that increase your supply and gave me all the tips she could to try to make the process as easy as possible.

In the end, we were able to leave after 24 hours. I still wonder if I should have stayed one more night just so I could get a little more sleep, but Jeff felt like being back at home in our own bed would be the most therapeutic for both of us. The jury is still out as I didn't get much sleep. I will say that with the next baby, I may opt for one more night just so I can be sure to have one more night of sleep and I will tell Jeff to go home if he is so eager to be in our own bed...LOL. I wasn't horrible to be home, but I definitely feel like I didn't get any rest at all once I walked through the door.

Recovery has been tough since coming home, but that too is for another blog for another day.

In the end, ViancaViolet made it here safe and strong. My sweet husband was awesome and stayed by my side the entire time, even heeding my request that his computer didn't come out until the epidural was in place, and the nurses and my doctor made the experience all the better with a level of care and compassion that I found severely lacking during my last birth experience.

I could have a dozen more babies with care like that...and I'm not even joking. Logan Regional Medical Center was awesome and I am grateful that we were living here so I could experience it.