kaelyn grace: the birth story (part 2)

(part one here)

Despite the contractions being so close together and my husband speeding through the neighborhood, I was calm. I was convinced that my labor wasn’t too far advanced. I guess I was in a bit of denial!

We grabbed my wallet (Brittany was waiting with it out on the front step) and were back on the road to the hospital at about 2 am. We arrived around 2:20 am and went straight to the nurses’ station to check in.

“Can I help you?”
“She’s ready to have a baby,” Michael said.
“What?” the nurse asked. It seemed she hadn’t heard him. I was confused that she even had to ask why I was there after two in the morning. Apparently, I was so calm that it wasn’t obvious I was in labor.

We were asked some questions, and then our awesome nurse, Kelly, took us to triage and had me change into the hospital gown. I had a couple more contractions while I was in the bathroom, so it took me longer to change than I felt it should have.

I got into the bed, and Kelly strapped the heart rate and contraction monitors on and then checked my cervix.

Before she told me how many centimeters I was, she asked, “How would you rate your pain?”
I just replied, “Um… variable,” since I’d still just been feeling what I’d call tightness and pressure.
“Well, you’re at 7cm! And you’re just talking through contractions like we’re out getting a pedicure together!” she said. I was definitely glad to be so far advanced already.

It was around 2:40 am when we walked from triage to our room, and they had the baby warmer out already. I remembered that they didn’t bring that into the room until I was very close to delivering Kaya, so this made me very excited! I got in the bed and had the monitors strapped to my belly again. The nurses put an IV put in my arm for a saline drip, since I apparently had a fever, but I was so focused on working through the contractions that I wasn’t even aware of it.

My legs started to shake a lot and I know I commented on it at least once. I asked why I was shaking so much and Kelly just replied, “Because you’re a seven, dear!”

I had some more contractions, but just kept closing my eyes and breathing through them. The nurses were impressed and said that I just “went in the zone” during my contractions, and that I should teach a Lamaze class, because not everyone can focus like that. Nurse Kelly kept telling me I was a rockstar. I loved all the praise and it really encouraged me! Kelly asked me all the standard hospital registration questions while I lay and contracted in the bed. It was around 3 am, and all the nurses left, but told me to press the nurse-call button if I started feeling a lot of pressure.

Michael and I just sat together, and he rubbed my arm and held my hand. It was getting harder to sit through the contractions and focus. I didn’t want to, but I kept watching the clock because it was on the wall right in front of me. By 3:20, I was very uncomfortable and called the nurse. Kelly came in right away and checked me. She said, “Oh yeah… let’s have a baby!”. I was excited… but still a little afraid honestly. There was no turning back now! I was doing this all naturally!

The midwife, Mattie, came in, and I started pushing around 3:30. It was definitely the hardest part of the entire labor. When I didn’t push, my muscles would hurt. I felt this incredible amount of pressure in my pelvis, and not to be gross… but it really just felt like I had to use the bathroom more than I ever have in my entire life. I really wanted to just run into the bathroom and go! I was somewhat impatient while waiting to push with the contractions because I just wanted that insane amount of pressure to disappear. Pushing burned a little, and the midwife told me that I had to just get past it and push my baby under my pubic bone. Michael kept telling me he could see her head and that I was so very close to having her here.

Her heart rate started dropping a bit. I immediately became nervous that they’d send me to c-section, but apparently her head was already crowning by that time. Between contractions, they had me wear an oxygen mask to help Kaelyn get enough air.

Mattie told me that I probably had one or two more contractions before she’d come out, and I think it was on the third one, at 3:55 am, that my sweet little girl was born. I didn’t see her for the first few seconds, and the first thing I heard the midwife say was “double nuchal”, which made me panic, because I didn’t know what it meant (the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice, which was the reason her heart rate was dropping). Someone else exclaimed “What a little peanut!”, so I really worried that something was wrong.IMG_2903

They put her on my chest and she was healthy. I was so grateful. I honestly just couldn’t believe that my baby was out. She was here, and she was mine. I had a small second-degree internal tear, and was stitched up while the nurses took care of my sweet little Kaelyn. 5 lbs 10 ounces, and 18.5 inches long.IMG_2905

Once I was stitched up, I got to hold her again. I was overwhelmed with emotion and love for this little person who I was “technically” just meeting. I cried.

IMG_2911They went to give her a bath, and she was gone for a few hours because she had to be under the warmer. I missed her so much. When I got her back, I just kept stroking her cheek and talking to her. She definitely knew my voice right from the beginning (probably from hearing me talk to Kaya all the time).

I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this very special little girl. I definitely feel a very powerful connection to her and love her with all my heart.

Thanks for coming to our family, Kaelyn Grace.

kaelyn grace: the birth story (part 1)

Disclaimer: This is a birth story, which means it includes talk of body parts, bodily functions, and all that other stuff that comes along with having a baby. There’s nothing distasteful written here, but I still wanted to give a fair warning to those who might be sensitive to this sort of thing._MG_2934-2On Wednesday, June 25th, I noticed that I was cramping a lot. I had been having some cramps the night before too, but I was trying to not really think about them or get my hopes up, since my due date was still a week away. The cramps kept coming all morning, but I still didn’t time them or pay them much attention. They were very low in my belly, which was completely different from how I remember my contractions feeling with Kaya. I went about my normal routine, still running two miles in the morning and then walking another two to take Kaya to the playground. I had my 39-week appointment with my OB at 1:30 pm, so I picked Michael up from work and we headed there.

Everything at the appointment was pretty standard, but I did tell him about the cramps. He said it sounded like my body was getting ready, and asked if I wanted to be checked. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to know how dilated I was, but a part of me just had a feeling that my body had already made some progress. Well… he checked me, and my cervix was completely effaced and 4 cm dilated! He also said that her head was so low that he had to reach AROUND it to even check my cervix. I was so excited to be at 4 cm already. It gave me the hope I needed for a natural (unmedicated) birth, especially since it had taken me so long (and had felt so agonizing) to get to 4 cm with Kaya. My doctor predicted that I’d have a baby in just a couple of days. He was actually pretty eager to strip my membranes, but I was adamant about keeping this labor as natural as possible.

I dropped Michael off at work and noticed that I was now having some pretty intense cramps. They stayed low down in my belly, so they didn’t necessarily feel like all-encompassing contractions. I also felt like I needed to pee very badly, so I was eager to get home.

I used the bathroom as soon as I got home, and noticed a small gush. I wondered, just for a moment, if my water had broken… But I mostly just dismissed the thought. It sure seemed like a lot of liquid, but I had felt such an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom that I just thought my bladder must have been very full.

Kaya went down for her nap, and I kept cramping, but just like I had done all day, I was trying to ignore it. I didn’t want to start timing contractions and putting too much focus on them, just in case I had a long labor again like I did with Kaya.

I spent some time texting back and forth with my friend Brittany. She was super excited about my cramps, and told me that she needed some “Tara time” with me before I had the baby and got super busy. Right before she arrived, I noticed that my shorts were wet… just a little bit on the backside. I was a little suspicious, but in the end, I chalked it up to my bottom just sweating a lot (it was a hot day and I had been sitting on a hard wooden chair). Looking back, I know now it was my water leaking. I changed my shorts and stayed completely dry after that, so I dismissed the possibility that my water had broken and went on with my day.

Around 3 pm, I noticed that the cramps really were feeling like mini contractions. I still didn’t want to get too excited in case this wasn’t really labor, and tried to blame the cramps on the fact that the doctor had checked my cervix. Brittany came over around 3:30 pm, and she chatted with me while I folded laundry. I was having some very tight cramps by this point, but nothing too distracting. We kept talking until it was time for our husbands to come home from work. She left, and Kaya woke up while we waited for Michael.

Michael ended up missing his bus, so I went to pick him up instead. My latest craving was fried chicken and mac and cheese, and since I wasn’t so sure yet that we’d be having a baby that night, we decided to indulge in KFC for dinner. Michael had the buffet, but surprisingly, I didn’t eat very much. There were a few things we needed to get at Walmart, so we headed there afterward. I kept cramping the whole time, and even ended up leaning on the handle of the shopping cart during a couple of the contractions. We got what we needed and also made a quick stop at Target before heading home.

We got Kaya ready for bed around 9 pm, which is very late compared to our normal schedule, and had prayers and goodnight kisses. By this point, I just had a feeling that these would be our last goodnight hugs with Kaya before our family would change forever. I teared up a little, but I didn’t stay in her room long because I thought that taking a shower and then sitting in a warm bath might help me relax.

I got in the shower, and managed to get clean before I started feeling incredibly hot and nauseous. I had thought the hot water would help my muscles relax, but it left me feeling shaky. I started having hot and cold flashes, intermingled with the urge to throw up. I called for Michael, and when he saw me, he told me to just sit down. I sat in the shower and just tried to overcome the feeling that I had to throw up. Fear set in for a few minutes. Could I really have the natural birth I had hoped for? Part of me wanted to just head to the hospital right then and ask for painkillers (although it was the nausea that was really getting to me, not the contractions).

It was about 9:45 pm when I realized that this would probably be the night we’d meet our sweet baby. I really wanted to lay down and rest, because in hindsight, I wished I had done that in my early labor with Kaya. However, I just couldn’t mentally relax because we didn’t have any bags packed! I couldn’t take the chance that we’d have to go to the hospital without our things.

Still recovering from the nausea and hot flashes, I sat on the bed while I told Michael what to grab from my drawers and put in the suitcase. He packed up a good amount of our things, and I think it was at this point that I asked him to give me a priesthood blessing. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it did help me feel peace. Michael then went to finish up some work on his computer. He told me later that he didn’t realize how serious the contractions were really getting, so he thought he had some time to get a few things done.

I kept feeling like I had to use the bathroom, so I ended up sitting on the toilet for awhile. I texted with Brittany and she encouraged me to time my contractions. Around 11 pm, I noticed they were about 4 minutes apart and at least 45 seconds long. I still wasn’t diligently timing them, and they felt so short to me.

By 11:15, I was entertaining the idea of going to the hospital. I was a little anxious because I didn’t want to get there too early, but I also knew that we had to let Ben and Brittany know if they needed to come over to stay with Kaya while we were gone. At 11:30, we told them to just come. If we ended up not going to the hospital (I still thought the contractions might just fizzle out and we’d all go to bed as usual), it wasn’t really a big deal.

Ben and Brittany arrived around midnight. We all sat in the living room and chatted, but I have no memory of what we talked about. Every few minutes, I had to close my eyes and breathe through a contraction, but I honestly still didn’t think it was painful, just a lot of pressure. I’d focus on my body, the contraction would be over, and then we’d all go right back to laughing and hanging out. I was walking around through some of the contractions, putting together Kaya’s “big sister” gift bag and doing a few other things around the house, but most of the time, I was sitting. I think it was about 1 am when the contractions started to seem a little closer together. Brittany noticed and started timing them, since I still wasn’t at this point. They were about a minute and a half apart, but my perception was that there was so much time between them! The breaks between contractions seemed so long that I still didn’t think my labor was very intense. However, once they kept coming at 1.5-minute intervals, I knew we needed to leave for the hospital.

Michael had fallen asleep on my nursing pillow on the floor, next to our packed bags. Brittany and I excitedly woke him up and told him I needed to go!

We left around 1:45 am. We drove for about 10 minutes (Michael might’ve run a couple of stop signs and driven a bit above the speed limit) before I realized that I had forgotten my wallet, and therefore had absolutely no form of identification. I didn’t know if the hospital would ask for it, but I had to have it just in case.

“We have to go back and get it!” I exclaimed.

His reply was simple: “Do we have time to?”

To be continued…

baby #2: maternity pictures

Is it weird to post maternity pictures after the baby’s already born? Hopefully not… because that’s exactly what I’m about to do! I just have to have them on the blog, at least for my own record-keeping. This post was drafted before she was born, but the pictures weren’t all edited yet.

Pregnancy already feels like a distant memory… and looking at these pictures now makes me think my belly looked huge! We took these at 37.5 weeks (June 14th), and just twelve days later, baby Kaelyn arrived!
_MG_2799 _MG_2826 _MG_2819 _MG_2829 _MG_2833 _MG_2834 _MG_2852 _MG_2848 _MG_2859 _MG_2858 _MG_2862
My crazy girl._MG_2867
Having some of these last moments as a family of three preserved is so meaningful to me. I’ll definitely cherish these photos forever!

kaelyn’s newborn photos

July 12, 2016: I’m posting these back on the date I took them, because as I’ve been going through my photos to back them up, I realized that I never uploaded them here. I don’t have a whole lot to write about this shoot, mostly because all I remember from two years ago is that Kaelyn was very upset and crying for most of it (although you would definitely never guess that from these photos), and I felt like I didn’t get any great shots at the time. Well, my past self was crazy, because my baby was gorgeous, the lighting was decent, and these capture her sweetness perfectly.

So, two years later, enjoy! 🙂_MG_3261 _MG_3262 _MG_3265 _MG_3276 _MG_3274 _MG_3267 _MG_3270 _MG_3268 _MG_3290 _MG_3286 _MG_3280 _MG_3300 _MG_3294

kaelyn grace: at the birth center

We had an amazing birth experience that I’m excited to share soon, but for now, I just wanted to share some pictures and details from our hospital stay.

So tiny. So new._MG_2934 _MG_2936 _MG_2941

Daddy had the honor of changing her first dirty diaper! Seriously, I think I have the best husband. Ever._MG_2929 _MG_2945 Our good friends, Ben and Brittany, took care of Kaya while we were at the hospital. I missed my first baby so much, so of course I was super excited to see her when they came to visit. Kaya immediately went over to the bassinet and just couldn’t stop staring at her new sister. She even blew her some kisses and kept reaching out to hold her._MG_2949 _MG_2951 Kaya was so soft and gentle. This was a moment I looked forward to for what seemed to be so long._MG_2954 _MG_2956 We gave Kaya her “big sister” gift- a baby doll, a big sister shirt, and a new sippy cup. She’s loved having a baby of her own to play with!_MG_2980Lelia came by, too (with flowers and donuts)!_MG_2989It was so hard to say goodbye to Kaya when she left. It was our first night ever being away from her, and the magnitude of how much our little family had changed by adding a fourth member really started to sink in.
_MG_2991 As we expected, we didn’t get a whole lot of sleep that night. Kaelyn kept waking up, but I think it was because she was cold– the hospital’s air conditioning system had broken, and the staff couldn’t get it to stop pumping out cold air. We were all freezing before they finally just shut it off (many hours later)._MG_2994_MG_3004 _MG_3002We were feeling so great the next day that I asked if we could go home early. To my surprise, they started working on our discharge orders right away! There were a lot of ladies having babies so the hospital was happy to have another free bed.

_MG_3011Kaelyn didn’t even cry when we put her in the car seat, and we had a smooth ride home to begin life as a family of four!

in these last days…


It’s in these last days of pregnancy that I daydream and wonder. I wait for that moment when she’ll be placed on my chest for the first time. I imagine her smell, and all her precious, tiny features. How much will she look like Kaya?

It’s in these last days that any exclamation of pain has Michael immediately asking if I’m okay (usually it’s just my nerves). I find his hand on my stomach more often and his hugs a little more tender.

It’s in these last days that everything ends up splattered on my belly. Toothpaste, remnants of Kaya’s snack, and water from washing the dishes. My shirt could be in a modern art museum.

It’s in these last days that I wonder “how many?” How many more runs? How many more showers? How many more nights sleeping in my own bed without a tiny person next to it? How many more afternoons will Kaya and I sit together on the playground at the top of the slide, just the two of us, and blow bubbles together?

It’s in these last days that exercise feels impossible, but finishing a run or walk makes me feel like a million bucks.

It’s in these last days that my pelvis feels a little more sore; my belly a bit more crampy. I feel my body getting ready.

It’s in these last days that I cherish every hug and kiss from Kaya a little more, not knowing if it’s our last day as a family of three before everything changes.

baby #2: 38 weeks

(written June 18th)

How are we here already? Seriously… time flies when you’re having fun (or working on a million projects)!_MG_2882

Baby’s size: Book value is about 6.75 lbs and 21 inches long. My fundal height is still small (34.5 weeks), but that measurement supposedly becomes less and less accurate as time goes on, since her head is dropping into my pelvis now.
Maternity clothes?: Duh. And it’s getting harder and harder to squeeze into my swimsuit…
Gender: Girl!
Symptoms: Just nerve pain here and there and some pelvic pressure, but nothing to really complain about! I remember being sooo uncomfortable by this time with Kaya, but I’m really feeling amazing this time around.
Labor signs: Braxton Hicks every once in a while… but nothing too intense. I didn’t want to be checked this week again so I don’t know about dilation and effacement.
Sleep: Still pretty awesome for this late in the game! I used one of the CD tracks from the Hypnobirthing book to relax last night before bed, and Michael told me this morning that I seemed to be sleeping extra soundly (usually I semi-wake up and get a little grouchy when he comes to bed, but apparently I stayed calm and went right back to sleep… awesome)!
Movement: Hiccups and dancing to Luke Bryan 🙂
Cravings: Twizzlers, chocolate chip cookies, and ice water.
Anything making you queasy or sick?: I’m really feeling pretty great, which is awesome, because I remember being so queasy at this point with Kaya. 
Belly Button in or out?: Out. And Kaya likes to point it out to me any chance she gets!
Exercising?: 10 miles run, 10 miles walked.
Mood: Excited to meet her so soon!
Best moment this week: Getting a lot done and not being hassled about anything at my doctor appointment.
Comparison: 38 weeks with Kaya! It’s a very different belly for sure!38weekcomparisonWe’ll see how many more of these posts I get to write!

it’s the little things, like kisses and hiccups

A few of my favorite “little things” as of late feel a lot like big things. Some of these moments last only a few seconds, but I never want to forget…_MG_2774

The way Kaya looks at me, smiles, and gently strokes my hair.

How she caught me crying one afternoon, and started wiping my tears away with my shirt.

When she kisses me at the top of the slide, just before going down and yelling “buh-BYE!”

How happy she was to share cookies on the kitchen floor in the middle of the afternoon for no reason.

All the kisses she gave me when she woke up from Sunday nap and I was still fast asleep.

Feeling our second sweet baby dance to the same Luke Bryan song that Kaya loves.

Having hiccups in my belly that aren’t my own.

Loving these two girls with my whole heart (which is even bigger than I ever imagined it could be).

Linking up with Ashley and Jess!

baby #2: 37 weeks

(written June 14th)_MG_2848

Baby’s size: Almost 6.5 lbs and about 21 inches according to the book, but we had an impromptu ultrasound on Friday to check amniotic fluid levels (which turned out to be just fine), and she is supposedly 6 pounds 6 ounces.
Maternity clothes?: Yep, and I’m generally wearing the biggest and loosest-fitting tops I can find.
Gender: Girl!
Symptoms: Random nerve pain down my legs, but not as bad as last week. I can feel my pelvis loosening up a whole lot too!
Labor signs: I didn’t get checked this week, so I don’t know about any of that… but I have been having Braxton Hicks contractions every night and sometimes when I run. They’re not painful… just kind of a pain!
Sleep: Once I’m out, I sleep like a rock. Suddenly I’m also having lots of baby dreams!
Movement: She’s still my little hiccup-making machine! Other than that, her movement seems to have slowed down a bit… there’s not a lot of room in there!
Cravings: Ice cream, Twizzlers, and chocolate chip cookies.
Anything making you queasy or sick?: Feeling great for the most part, just not having too much of an appetite.
Belly Button in or out?: It’s pretty much out.
Exercising?: 10 miles run, 10 miles walked.
Mood: Excited to meet her so soon!
Best moment this week: Let’s see… getting a lot of work done on her quilt, taking some family/maternity pictures, and just hearing that everything was fine at our ultrasound were all great highlights.
Comparison: 37 weeks with Kaya!37weekcomparison18 days until our due date! I can’t wait to meet you, Peanut!