I can't believe that this is my third birth story to write. I mean, I get that I have three kids and all, but getting the honor to have these three life changing experiences is a true blessing. Let's just dive right in, shall we?
Monday, early evening, my mom and I went to the grocery story and the whole time I had to walk clenching the handles of the cart because of the pressue mounting in my lower stomach, but nothing that I would call contractions. Ivy was up high until, well, she wasn't anymore. :) We got home and I felt so uncomfortable. We ate dinner and I laid on the couch, watching West Wing, of course.
At around 8:00, I started feeling cramps really low, while the top of my stomach was rock hard. I had about 4 contractions before I told Ken, "Hey, pretty sure I'm having contractions." I worked through them, while grabbing my bag for the hospital and telling my mom completely pointless things about how to take care of the girls in the morning because I was going to have this baby.
We head to the hospital, and we are checked in around 9:30. No one was there, thank goodness. I'm talking, carrying on conversations with people while feeling contractions every 3 minutes or so. When then checked me, they said I was barely 4cm, and I was frustrated because we were at the hospital and I just didn't want to be there for most of my labor. After a couple hours in triage (it's 11:30) they tell me that I can go home, and Ken had a feeling they didn't expect me back that night. But little did they know...
We come home and contractions pick up, and Ken used his Bradley methods to relax me and talk me through each contractions. He was awesome, as usual. They were hard, much harder than any I had with Eliza. As far as emotional signposts go, I wasn't talking, I wasn't joking. Serious, sober, and pretty anxious about the birth, which worried me. I went to get something from our room, and a contraction came on and I braced the wall, and Ken knew it was time. My mom prayed over me, which was so special, and off we went, back to the hospital.
We checked in, and the contractions were intense. It's 2:05am at this time. They checked me and I'm only at 5cm, which I couldn't believe because the pain was so intense, and the desire to push was mounting. Ivy was still at station 3- high up. I was thinking this was going to be a long, hard labor. They moved us to a delivery room and I made a point to not yell in pain as they rolled me through the hallway, like I did Eliza. I remember yelling and getting some interesting looks.
We're in the delivery room, it's 2:30 and I'm so confused because the pain is crazy and I feel like I want to push, and I know my body after Eliza's natural birth, but I'm only 5cm and note, no water has broken. How was this going to happen? Ken and I are in the room by ourselves and a contraction starts, and he asks if I want to get on the bed, stand, whatever. I can't get a good position, and I turn to Ken and I grab his arm and, pop! Water broke like a huge water balloon. There was a moment when I felt good, like a release of pressure, but then, Ivy was ready! I was ready to push. Ken hollers, "Nurse, her water broke, she's ready to push!" There wasn't anyone else in the room at that point because we had literally just walked in. I'm guessing the nurses and doctors thought, "Patient in room 4, 5cm, water not broken, could be a while." We ladies and gents, not the case.
The resident on call comes in and decides to check me and I'm tell her, "I'm ready to push" but she checks anyway, and tells me I'm fully dilated. (Thanks, doc!) And I'm just going to go ahead and be blunt, which I sometimes hold reservations cause this is a blog and all, but the feeling was like trying to poop a softball. Literally what I thought when I started to push. So, I pushed... once, twice, three times and:
At 2:41am Ivy Marie Kostrzewa entered this world. Another all natural VBAC.
She was ticked off though when she came out, which I loved. They placed her on me, shoved a hat on her and I thought, "I gave birth to Avery, again!" They looked just the same, and I just fell in love, and cried and cried because she was here, and I wasn't pregnant anymore! She was healthy and just so adorable and helpless, I couldn't believe I was experiencing this moment again!
Now, friends. If you're paying attention, you'll see that in eleven minutes I went from 5cm to fully dilated to water breaking to pushing to birth. And the initial thought might be, "That's great! A fast labor! Lucky you!" I will be honest here, I could have used a bit more time because a birth that fast pretty much kicked my butt. Faster is not always better, but then again, long labors are so exhausting. I am just so thankful that I didn't wait till my water broke at home because Ken would have delivered her for sure. And if you'd like to know about the 45 minutes that followed her fast birth, I'll tell you personally. I would hate to deter anyone from going natural with their birth because of what happened after, because in the end, I'm glad we went natural because you are so in tune with your body and what your body is trying to do- you know far better than the doctors what's progressing and such. Let's just say, I felt it all. I really wish natural births could have an immediate epidural to activate after the baby is born. That would have been nice. Let's work on that, docs!
But I had the skin to skin time with her before they worked on me, then they brought her back and I weeped with joy, such joy. She nursed right away and the release of that love hormone was REAL and amazing. She nursed for about an hour and a half and I relished in that time. She could have stayed there forever as her nursing healed the trauma that I experienced only minutes before because all that pain was worth it to have her with me.
Then Ken and I crashed for a couple hours; they gave me some fluids and I felt warm and fuzzy all over. I kept saying her name, "Ivy, Ivy Marie..." like a chant. We woke from our naps at 6:30 and I realized we didn't text anyone that she was born, didn't get any pictures, we were so in those hours that we shut off the outside world, which is nice, but my mom was waiting by the phone! She responded with praise and joy when I finally texted her, after she had not slept a wink waiting.
Now all I wanted was my baby! We got to our room, and Ivy came soon after and I was awe struck all over again. She was the most beautiful little thing, and I cried and breathed her in all over again, like we had just met.
Love at birth is an amazing thing. It really is an instant feeling. You know nothing about a person, but your entire body is telling you: love this little babe. Your body wants to feed her, your heart is bursting with the desire to hold her, your mind is racing with your dreams for her, all that in only a few hours old, a whole new realm of my heart was activated. A part that has been reserved for Ivy long before I was pregnant, before I married Ken, before everything, this place was set aside for her, devoted to loving her as her mom.
Ivy Marie, you sweet little love. Thank you already for how you have blessed my life.
She's here! Ivy Marie entered the world in the early hours of 11-12-13 in a matter of minutes and has since been causing many hearts to melt and even more prayers of thanksgiving that our gracious Savior blessed us with another healthy baby girl. I can't say that enough, and without sounding cliche, I don't know how Ken and I have been so blessed.
I will write the birth story soon, but for now, pictures!
Every Thursday during the first year that Ken and I lived in New Orleans, our team would gather to work on a house in our neighborhood or finish a house that a team didn't complete. The other days were dedicated to our specific jobs, but Thursday we all did the same thing. Majority of the time, this was gutting. Ripping out walls, removing toilets, filling our lungs with those yummy dust particulates of asbestos, etc. These days were the best.
When we first moved in August, however, gut days were the worst due to the heat. The proper attire for house gutting is long sleeves, long pants, work boots, respirator, and a hat or bandana. All sorts of nonsense is flying around those old houses, so you wanted most of your body covered. So, it's 90+ degrees, you're in a house covered in mold, the air is still and you're sweating. Like just dripping into your eyes and down your back. Can you see why Ken fell in love with me?
But then I got to experience weather. I say this because back home I don't think we had weather. We had 5 degree variations, but not weather. In college, the only differentiation was if I wore Rainbows or Toms. In New Orleans, it's like taking a shower in lotion when it's humid but when a cold front comes in the weather will drop about 15-20 degrees and the air is crisp and you're like, where's my beanie. I mean, it's still around 60 degrees, but you guys, that's cold.
Today the house across the street from us is being worked on after nearly 10 years of nothing and lots of gutting is going on. And if I weren't due, you know, TOMORROW, I'd join them while the girls take their naps. The weather is perfect for gutting, which leads me to this nostalgic post about why gut days were the best. That only took 4 paragraphs.
All of us started the day groggy, barely making it down stairs with our boots in hand, bandana stuffed in our pockets, quasi dreading the day ahead. I usually just brought a power bar for breakfast, and lunch and a Nalgene of water, and then most likely mooched off of others, in my natural fashion. We weren't incredibly chatty in the AM, but we took time to pray over the house and pray for our safety before we made our way to the worksite. The cars were loaded with necessary tools, and we slowly ruined the interior of Ken's Jeep (RIP Black Pearl). Once we got to a house, we had a game plan and then got to it. When the weather was like it is today, you didn't really sweat, and you actually had fun. We would listen to music, sing/yell through our respirators, make jokes (mainly Brittany) and took great pleasure in breaking stuff. Around 3, we'd start cleaning up and then we'd head home. This was the best feeling. Your body was so sore from working all day doing things you never thought you'd call "work" but you were done, and you felt good about the work you did. I was guilty of coming home and not changing out of my moldy clothes and I would crash in the nearest chair or floor. Eventually we'd all shower and declare an honest days work. Usually we would then watch The Office together, and it was a damn fine night. Ken and I occasionally made our way to Frenchman street for some music and Abita ambers, and since it was 2006, it wasn't crowded and it was simply lovely (And Spotted Cat was just called Spotted Cat, not "The Spotted Cat Music Club"... there is a HUGE difference, leaning way in favor of the prior.)
But all of this is because of the weather; the perfect fall, gutting weather.
I know I'm getting old because a mark of age to me has always been conversations about weather. You know when you talk to your grandparents, they always mention the weather, and you smile on the other end of the line thinking, how nice that life has come to a point for you that weather sparks an interest, so much that you can't help but talking about it. Well, I'm there. I talk about weather, and not just as a conversation filler because I can't find anything else to talk about, but because it's the best.
I know if the team was all here, and not either pregnant or working, we would head to an abandoned house and go to work.
We were Juno and Paulie Bleeker. It might have been 5 years too late because it took a while for people to get it, and some people thought I was Waldo... but it was fun putting it all together. Have you guys used freezer paper to stencil? Oh, you must. You can make anything, like Ken's shirt. The only critic- Ken's shorts needed to be shorter. Yikes.
I had this pumpkin conspiracy going. That like all other holidays, American consumerism took carving pumpkins and made it this "fall bucket list" thing and it annoyed me greatly. I could probably find a lot of other things to bother me, but I found myself so annoyed with pumpkin patch pictures, pumpkin spice lattes, everything orange, yellow and red, leaves falling, you get it. But hey, it was all good fun in the end, and we bought our pumpkins from the grocery store. But, I thought a carved pumpkin would last more than a few days? We carved on Saturday and by Wednesday they were all moldy and gross.
You know, I thought this baby was going to be here by now, but she's comfy and happy where she is. I didn't make many plans for a costume, so we borrowed Avery and Eliza's from a friend and it was perfect. We didn't get a picture of Eliza, opps. But, there is Halloween!