The Birth Story of Katherine Jean

It’s been seven months since Katherine Jean joined our family, and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect upon my pregnancy and her birth. I can honestly say that Katie’s birth was the best, the perfect final act in the story of my children’s births.

Pregnancy After Loss

With multiple miscarriages, a preterm birth, a full-term stillbirth, and multiple c-sections under my belt, this pregnancy was obviously considered high risk. I was seen at my doctor’s office once a month until 24 weeks, and then every two weeks until 32 weeks, and then twice a week from then on — once for an ultrasound and once for a non-stress test.

It was a very different experience for me, because I haven’t seen a doctor for an entire pregnancy since my first baby in 2001, and after my previous experiences, I have not been the biggest fan of the medical profession. That, coupled with the extreme anxiety of being pregnant after Clara’s stillbirth, gave me a lot to work through, and I was fortunate to have David to lean on for every appointment.

NST Anxiety During Pregnancy After Loss

We were told pretty early on that I would need to deliver by c-section at 36 weeks. The high-risk doctors did not feel comfortable allowing me to progress past that point, and I had already promised myself that I would do what I was told, for a change. As the scheduled date drew closer, I became more and more nervous. I was just sure that our baby would die too, like Clara. I was certain that in the 2-3 days between ultrasound and NST each week, something terrible would happen. The feeling was so unwavering that I refused to sign the final paperwork for the tubal ligation I wanted, until I knew for sure that the baby has been delivered safely.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 in the morning on April 2, 2014. I was both excited and terrified. I’d never done this before, walked into a hospital with the intention of undergoing a cesarean section, but surprisingly, as much as I fought the very idea of having a c-section with my three other girls, I was not anxious at all about the surgery. I had made peace with needing a repeat cesarean, and I felt like I knew what to expect from the surgery and recovery, which took away that fear almost completely.

No, my fear and anxiety were all for the health of our baby. I was admitted and taken to a pre-op room, where I changed into my gown and socks. My vital signs were taken, I met all of the nurses and my anesthesiologist, and an IV was started. A nurse came in to put a heart monitor and contraction belt on me, and she had trouble picking up the baby’s heartbeat for just a minute… and I could feel my mouth go dry and my blood pressure going up. The nurses knew our history, so they were very reassuring, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

We were bumped four times for emergency c-sections, which amounted to an extra two hour wait in the pre-op room, and I held tight to David’s hand throughout that time. I kept saying, “but the baby’s fine right now, we need to get her out now, while we know she’s okay”. Nothing could convince me to calm down. I was obsessing with whether I felt her moving, whether the monitor’s beep was a good one or a bad one, and I watched the minutes tick by so slowly.

David, on the other hand, was a little nervous, but mostly he was so excited. He couldn’t wait to meet our baby and he felt confident that she would be fine. He was infinitely patient with me, petting my hair, rubbing my feet, and talking to my belly, telling our baby how excited we were to finally meet her.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My dad brought Addah up to the hospital around 9:45 in the morning, and she came back to the pre-op room for a hug and kiss. Having her there calmed me down too, and very shortly after she came in to visit, the nurses came to get us. It was baby time!

David changed into his surgical clothes, while I was wheeled into the OR and prepped for spinal anesthesia. The room was full of doctors, nurses, the anesthesia team, and the NICU team (just in case, since I was only 36 weeks along). I asked for my husband, right as a nurse was bringing him in. He held my hand so tightly, and the surgery began.

The surgery took much longer than the three previous, because it was my first non-emergent cesarean. There was a lot of scar tissue to get through, and she was in a breech presentation, so the doctor had said they wanted to take their time. Finally, after what felt like a million years, the doctor said “here we go”. David stood up to look over the curtain that fell across my chest, and I felt the pressure of our baby being pulled from my body.

I didn’t hear her cry at first, and I asked if she was okay over and over. David said, “she’s moving, they’re just suctioning her a little”. Finally I heard her tiny cries, and all at once I could breathe again. The nurse called David over and handed our baby girl, Katherine Jean, to him. He brought her to me, and all I could think to say was, “I have been waiting so long for you, sweet girl”.

Katie was the most beautiful baby in the entire world, as all of my babies have been. I kissed her chubby little hands and whispered “I love you” over and over, to her and to David. Breathing, healthy, alive… everything I had hoped for. She was 6 lbs 7 oz, 20 inches long, born at 10:55 in the morning on April 2, 2014.

My surgery was not yet over, because I had opted for a tubal ligation, so a nurse guided David and baby Katie out of the OR and into a quiet room with a rocking chair so they could bond and wait for me. The rest of the surgery took far too long for my liking; I couldn’t wait to hold my tiny sweet baby. When I was stitched up and put back together, I was taken to my hospital room, where I was finally (finally!) able to hold Katie. I’m not even sure if I can describe the wild range of emotions I was feeling — elation and wonder at this perfect little one, mixed with grief and sadness, remembering the last time I held a tiny baby in a hospital bed.

Katie's Birth Story

Mostly I felt peace. My previous birth stories had always started off with the end goal of natural birth and ended with the disappointment of a c-section. I tried, every way I could think of, to bend birth to my will and make a natural birth part of my story, but as it turned out, my most peaceful birth was a planned c-section. I would change nothing about my last birth story. I realized, after Clara died, that the end goal of any birth story should be “healthy baby” — it’s not how the baby gets here that matters, but that they get here safely.

The rest… really doesn’t matter, in the end.

Katie's Birth Story

Katherine-Jean-Birth

David-Jean-Katie

Three-Beautiful-Daughters

David-Heather-Katie

I’m Back, Baby! {Returning From A Blog Hiatus}

It’s been 7 months since I took a blog hiatus, and almost a year since I blogged on a regular basis. I had gotten bored with it, to a degree, and I was feeling confused about the direction my blog was headed.

I enjoy writing sponsored posts that tell a story that is relevant to my family, but I do not enjoy feeling like a sell-out, or like I’m just doing it for the money. I like writing about my kids, but I do not like their punk classmates using my stories to tease and bully. I like being honest about the mental health challenges my daughter and I face, but I don’t want to compromise her privacy either. I wanted to share my pregnancy and write about the anxiety and fear I felt, carrying a baby after Clara died, but I had too much anxiety to even write those fears down.

Basically, I just felt paralyzed when it came to blogging, and my short break turned into a long hiatus. After I while, I didn’t even miss it anymore… too busy with the new baby to have time for anything “extra”.

Well, fast forward to this week… I sat down at the computer to do some basic maintenance on the blog. I kept getting weird messages that my blog went down for 2 minutes at a time, and I figured I’d better check it out and see if something needed updating. It turns out that my theme was outdated, and I needed to fix a few things, clean up the dust of abandonment… and somewhere in there, the writing bug bit me, once again.

I’m still not 100% sure of how I’m going to handle all of the things I mentioned above, but I’m working on it.

So…  I’m back, baby, as much as I can be with a 7 month old and the tweens’ schedules to juggle. I can’t promise there won’t be quiet weeks, but I can promise that I won’t disappear for months on end again.

I love this place too much to stay away.

Returning From A Blog Hiatus

A Rainbow After The Storm

I am so happy to announce that our beautiful rainbow baby, Katherine Jean, was born on April 2, 2014 at 10:55 in the morning. Katie is strong, healthy, and lovely. She was born at 37 weeks 3 days gestation by scheduled c-section, and weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces.

Happiness

Her birth story will follow at some point in the near future, but these days I’m spending most of my time soaking in her milk-drunk smiles and appreciating every ounce and moment of her.

Thank you to every one who has sent us prayers, warm thoughts, happy vibes, support, hugs… I am so grateful!

Sunshine After The Storm – Support for Grieving Parents

Mother's Day Giveaway 2014

On July 1, 2012, my infant daughter was born silently into the world, and when that happened, a whole new world of grieving parents opened up to me. Faces of loss, stories of grief, but most importantly, stories of survival, which have encouraged me and propelled me forward.

One of the common themes we share, whether our loss was an early miscarriages, late pregnancy, infant loss, or an older child, is that desire to make known that we will always be that child’s mother. Whether we are mothering them in our arms or in our hearts.

To the grieving moms out there: you are always their mother and you are not alone in this sentiment.

Last year, over thirty parents came together to try to deliver our message and survival tips to grieving parents through the book Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother. When we talked about our goals for the book, we wanted the overarching theme to be hope and encouragement. We want all grieving parents to know that they are not alone, and that it is okay to grieve, to miss that baby, and to let them know you are their mother.

After we published the book, we wanted to go one step further. We want to raise money to donate this book to as many hospitals, bereavement groups, and bereavement support groups as I possibly can.

So… we created a non profit organization: Sunshine After the Storm, Inc. Through this organization we have already donated more than 50 books.

But we want to go one step further.

Introducing the Mother’s Day Campaign

This very special campaign is to raise enough money to donate 100 or more books to hospitals and bereavement groups for Mother’s Day. You are always their mother.

In addition, 10% of all funds raised will be donated by Sunshine After the Storm, Inc. to Donna’s Good Things, the March for Babies (March of Dimes), Mommy to Mommy outreach, Fetal Hope, the TTTS Foundation, Molly Bears, Teeny Tears, and Mikayla’s Grace. (Yes, we need to raise a LOT of money!)

And we wanted to do one more thing.

In honor of International Bereaved Mother’s Day, which is May 4th, the Sunday before Mother’s Day, we will draw winners for some amazing prizes that have been graciously donated for this cause.

We invite everyone to participate in the Giveaway – you do not have to be a grieving parent, we just ask that you make a donation to the Campaign.

Mother's Day Campaign

(If you have something you’d like to add to the donation list, it’s not too late to join us! Just email Alexa at katbiggie1@gmail.com and we will get your donation added!)

There’s only one thing you have to do to be entered into the drawing.

Go and donate at least $5 to our fundraising campaign. (It costs us roughly $8 for each book donated)

That’s it.

Because after all, this is our Mother’s Day Campaign, but we can’t do it without your help!

Their Stories Are Not Mine To Tell

Their Stories Are Not Mine To Tell

You may have noticed that there are a lot less blog posts on The Destiny Manifest today. I’ve left the more popular posts on crafty stuff, recipes, as well as many of the posts I’ve written about my journey through grief and loss… but I’ve removed nearly all of the personal family posts about my children.

This change has been a long time coming. I didn’t realize how public I’d actually made my children’s pictures and stories, and when it finally occurred to me, I still didn’t do anything about it immediately. I have decided to stop writing about the girls from now on, because they are older now, and their stories are not mine to tell.

That wasn’t enough though, and that became apparent when a group of tween misfits decided to cyber bully one of my daughters via social media. They created a false account and posted her picture, and then later, created an impersonation account in her name, using another stolen picture of her. It took us many days (and a police report) to have those pictures removed, and it really illustrated for me how much I have underestimated my family’s presence on the internet.

I’ve spent days making my public social media outlets as private as possible, setting thousands of pictures to private on Flickr, and removing blog posts that I now feel are too personal about my children. I’ll still blog, I think. But I’ll be a lot more mindful about what I post from now on. I love saving beautiful stories about experiences for my daughters to remember, but now I will save them only for my children, instead of the internet at large.