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.

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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

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!

A Stolen Few Minutes… And A Gender Announcement!

It has been two months since I last wrote for my blog, and I have missed it sorely. We are currently without internet access at home, and my schedule has become dense with various appointments. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to write again as often as I would like to, so for now, a stolen few minutes with McDonald’s free wifi will have to suffice.

I am nearly 21 weeks pregnant with baby #4, and we are both doing very well. We’ve had several opportunities to see our little bug via ultrasound, as I am under the care of our city’s best high-risk OB-GYN doctors. This is the first time that I am submitting to so much medical care in pregnancy, but I will take no chances with this baby’s life. I cannot fathom losing another child — and so I smile and listen to the doctors in whom I have put my faith and hope.

We had a 3D/4D ultrasound three weeks ago, and our tech gave us 90% odds that this baby is a little girl! I’ve seen two other little girls via ultrasound before (Lakin and Clara; we did not find out Addah’s gender until birth) and it certainly looked like little girl parts to me! We couldn’t be happier; truth be told, it doesn’t matter to us what gender our little bug is, as long as we get to bring home a healthy baby this time around.

BabyGirlWebb_Collage

We’ve picked out a name, though we won’t reveal her name until she is born… just a weird superstition of ours. She’s bumping and kicking inside of my belly, and it’s just as amazing as it was the first time I felt Lakin move inside me. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have a chance to carry a baby again, and as this little one will be our last, I am soaking up every moment with this little one.

As for the rest of the family, everyone is doing well and recovering nicely from an extremely difficult couple of months. I’m not sure that anything is going to be truly back to “normal” for at least a few more months, financially or otherwise, but all we can do is hang in there and be grateful for what we have — namely, each other.

I wish you all a wonderful December and a happy holiday season filled with love and warmth!

Two Week Wait… and a Birthday Party!

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

It’s been two weeks since I wrote anything and I’m feeling a strong pull to get back in the game. I can’t say it’s been an enjoyable two week vacation, not exactly. It’s been a whirlwind of back to school, family visiting from out of town, temporary dog-sitting for my sister, who broke her kneecap, and of course… a lot of morning {all-day} sickness.

It’s the kind of all-day sickness that vacillates between a low-level blah feeling of “I’m okay, I can handle this” and a spinning stomach and feeling that everything smells gross, sounds hurt my aching head, and I just want to sleep. I can’t just stop going — there are kids to drop off and pick up, dinners to cook, laundry to fold, and groceries to buy — so I’ve been doing the bare necessities and forgoing the rest, which includes checking email more than once a day, writing anything, and {ahem} vacuuming.

I am going to try to get back in the swing of writing. This pregnancy brings with it a whole rainbow of various emotions: some beautiful, some very painful, and I know that writing and sharing those emotions will help me to get through them. Thank you all for your support on this new journey. I appreciate every ounce of love, every comment, every page view, even if I don’t feel well enough to respond to them all right away.

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On a slightly different note, part of my amazing two week whirlwind was my niece Cori’s 4th birthday party. It’s always a treat to see Cori’s smiling face, since she lives so far away in Louisiana, so we are excited that she and her brother are in town all this week.

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Cori loves anything princess themed… although, to be honest, anything purple or pink will work for her. My sister and I decorated for her party in a combination of Disney princesses and “Sofia the First”. We combined miles of streamers, yards of tape, buckets of glitter, and enough balloons to cause a helium shortage, and the effect was fit for a princess.

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

David provided face painting services for the kids, and most of the adults consented to wear party hats, at least for a little while. Cori chose a princess crown for her cheek, Avery wanted his favorite – Mickey Mouse, and Addah chose a penguin for her face painting.

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

It’s hard to believe Cori is 4 years old! It seems like just yesterday that she was born, making me an auntie for the first time!

Cori's Princess Birthday Party

I’m connecting with others via Wordless/Wordful Wednesday today! Check out my blog hop directory to see who else is participating, as well as the other blog hops that I join each week!

Big News In Our House!

Big News In Our House!

It’s been a busy week in our household!

First and foremost, if you haven’t already seen the big news on my Facebook page, let me be the first to tell you our wonderful news!

Big News In Our House! - Pregnancy Announcement

We’re pregnant! Baby #4, our rainbow baby, is due in April 2014! We’re very excited and more than a little terrified. We’ve already found ourselves having moments that are simultaneously happy and heartbreaking, and I don’t imagine that will lessen as the next 8 months go by. I feel great — nauseous and a little dizzy until about midday and very tired — but overall, great. I’m staying active, although I guess my weight loss journey is going to have to wait a little longer.

We are going about this pregnancy (and birth) in a completely different way from my pregnancy with Clara. I have fought going the conventional route with my last 2 pregnancies, and I have had a premature baby and a full-term stillborn baby. This time, we are going to an obstetrician that I trust — he delivered Clara and literally saved my life. Our first appointment is tomorrow afternoon, in fact, and I am hoping to see the little one via ultrasound.

When it comes time for this baby to be born, I will be scheduling my fourth cesarean section. Three past c-sections and every one was either a surprise or an emergency. As much I wanted to have a natural birth, and as much as I will always mourn that I was not able to have that experience, I tried, and that has to be good enough. This will be an all-new experience, going into a surgical birth by choice, instead of by necessity.

It’s really peripheral to me, how the birth takes place, and it was once so very important and all-consuming. All that I want this time is to bring our healthy baby home with us. This baby will never take the place of Clara, nor will he/she take away the pain of losing Clara – nothing ever will, I don’t think – but it’s a step in the direction of feeling less empty and broken inside.

We feel fortunate to have this chance to make better decisions than those we made last time. We know better now, so we’ll do better.

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Next up… school started today!

My girls are in 5th and 7th grade, which I find so hard to believe! SEVENTH grade?! How on Earth did that happen? Wasn’t she just a little kindergartner yesterday? Last year? You always hear that time goes by so quickly, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re looking into the face of a kid who is halfway through middle school, or in their last year of elementary school!

Look at these girls of mine, through the years! They’ve gotten so big! {Note that we didn’t have a camera, or even phones with a camera, in 2010, so we have one missing back to school picture.}

Big News In Our House! - Back to School Collage

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What else was there? I’m working on my Insane Goals update for July (I know, I know, August is almost over… what can I say?). My sister broke her kneecap in a fall on her first day at the community college, so we’re babysitting her dog for a little bit. Oh, and I had my eyebrows shaped yesterday for the first time ever. Who knew that just shaping your bushy eyebrows could dramatically change your face and make you look 100% more “together”? I didn’t… lesson learned!

Big News In Our House! - New Eyebrows

I hope you’re all having a fantastic week! I have missed blogging regularly but with school back in session, I plan to get my act together and do some writing, reading, and commenting. Thanks for bearing with me through the long summer!
I’m connecting with others via Wordless/Wordful Wednesday today! Check out my blog hop directory to see who else is participating, as well as the other blog hops that I join each week!

Parental Bereavement Act & Family Medical Leave Act

Parental Bereavement Act & Family Medical Leave Act

The US Department of Labor‘s Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (known as FMLA) states that it entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are currently entitled to

  • Twelve work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job

But when a family member dies, there are almost no benefits extended to employees. After Clara died, David was fortunate to be able to take 4 days off of work. He hadn’t been with the company for long, so he had no personal time to take, but the company generously paid him anyway and gave him a negative balance of personal time to work off over the following year.

If he had still been working for any of the companies he worked for previously, he would not have been given any paid time off, and most likely no time off at all, even unpaid, without risk of losing his job. We are lucky for those four days, but it should have been much longer. Merely four days after the death of our baby, David was in no condition to go back to work.

A bereaved parent should not have to worry about the stress of an employer who does not want to allow time off, or having to go back to performing well at work in order to make ends meet for their family, while dealing with the grief and sadness of losing their child.

Kelly Farley of Grieving Dads is taking action to correct this issue. He has created the Parental Bereavement Act (Farley-Kluger Initiative). It is a petition to modify the existing Family Medical Leave Act. The petition’s objective is to support the extension of coverage and existing benefits allowed by FMLA to employees that have experienced the death of a child.

If you would like to join David and I in supporting this modification of the FMLA, please sign the petition.

Parental Bereavement Act & Family Medical Leave Act