DIY WITHOUT FEAR

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Today is the story of how I met my son and the unexpected journey that precipitous labor sent me on. It’s a lengthy one, but hopefully, something that you read here will give you hope for a future pregnancy, courage for upcoming labor, or perhaps an understanding of what women go through to grow our families. Also, this is my second birth. If you are interested in reading about my first child’s arrival, you can find it here! Enjoy!

Hello again! I’ve been absent from this little blog of mine for a while, but for a great reason. 6 months after we welcomed our little girl, Emma, into the world, we found out we were expecting another addition to our family! We always knew we wanted to have more kids, so we were going with the not-trying-but-not-preventing method. Since we got pregnant with Emma so fast, I didn’t expect to get pregnant again so soon. After a few early symptoms, I thought we might be in for a wonderful surprise and it turns out that I was right!

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story

I want to say that we were calm, cool, and collected, but we were scared out of our minds. Along with all the excitement of a second baby, this meant that we would have two kids under two. Two in diapers. Two kids very close together. We shared our first pregnancy with the world very quickly due to some circumstances out of our control, and sometimes wished we had been able to savor it a bit more as our little (growing!) secret. So we didn’t tell family for awhile, and I didn’t tell my students until I really couldn’t wait any longer. (It really is true you show SO much sooner with your second pregnancy)

Despite the butterflies and uncertainty about the future, we were elated. I’ve always said that I wanted to have my kids close together, and I’m very happy that I got my wish. Some people struggle for years, and they end up with different spacing than maybe they planned for. We weren’t going to have Irish twins, but at 15 months apart, they would be pretty close.

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story

We made some changes around the house, knowing that we would be welcoming another little one pretty soon. We sold both of our cars and got a minivan, which is the best decision we’ve ever made. Being a one-car family is the bomb (Am I old if I say this?). The cars that we had (a Prius and a CR-V) were fantastic, but the bigger car seats wouldn’t fit in the back with any breathing room for our dog. We knew we needed something with three rows, and fell in love with the completely fold-down seats in the Chrysler Town and Country. It was like a pickup and a minivan all in one! (Sorry for the less than stellar cell phone picture. Our salesman took it for us quickly, and it was dark, raining, and we had a cranky and tired little girl on our hands!)

The months flew by since the pregnancy was pretty easy at first. Not nearly as much nausea as with Emma, and I felt pretty good most of the time (for a pregnant person). Then came the last trimester. I had put on a bit of weight with Emma’s pregnancy and wasn’t able to drop much of it after she was born. This meant that I started my second pregnancy heavier than I’ve ever been, and at the end, I was MISERABLE. I weighed about 160 when I got pregnant with Emma, and at the end of Tyler’s pregnancy, I got up to almost 250. But that’s a story for another post.

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story

I was super lucky to be off school for the last month or so of my third trimester, and my mom was able to come to town. We waited and waited, went to the pool, kept busy with projects and errands, but I was pretty worthless. It was June in Austin, and it was HOT. I was swollen, sweaty, and SO uncomfortable. There were days that I didn’t get out of bed. I’m so thankful for Aaron and my mom being around to take care of Emma and take care of me. I absolutely don’t think I would have been able to do my job if I had still been working up to my due date.

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story

There’s no beating around the bush – I was huge and incredibly self-conscious about it. As someone that has struggled with their relationship with food throughout life, seeing my body change so quickly AGAIN was hard. A friend of mine came over to help me batch cook a ton of freezer meals (you can see the mess in the background!), and this is legitimately the only picture I have of my belly from the whole pregnancy. He was wonderful company and cut up WAY more than his fair share of carrots and onions (thanks, Paul!).

Finally, it was July 2nd, my due date. I had been stalking the labor prediction calculators, and doing all kinds of things to try to get the baby to come. I had my 40-week appointment that morning and expressed how ready I was to be D.O.N.E. My midwife suggested that I get acupuncture, and at that point, I was willing to try anything. She did an exam, and casually said that she would probably be seeing me soon! (If I had only known!) I brushed it off as trying to comfort a very uncomfortable and very pregnant woman, but she knew what she was talking about!

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story

I went to get the acupuncture done and took a little nap in the chair. It was definitely a weird experience, but it didn’t hurt at all. I’d been having intense Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, and while they were a little more intense than normal at the acupuncture clinic, I just brushed it off on being more aware of my body since I was sitting still and relaxing.

Once I was done having needles in my face, hands, and feet, it was time to run another errand. Our dog, Tabby, needed her shots, so I took her to the vet. While I was there, I got REALLY cranky. I’m usually a pretty nice, polite person, but I kind of gave the vet a hard time. She wanted to do something that I didn’t agree with, but didn’t really give me any options other than what she wanted to do. We ended up just coming home and going for a second opinion.

I came home, and my mom, Emma, Aaron and I all had a late lunch. I wasn’t feeling well (which happened a lot when I was eating towards the end of the pregnancy), so I went to go lay down on the couch. That was maybe 2:30 PM, and was the beginning of labor, though I didn’t know that yet.

I decided to try to use the restroom since I was feeling a little sick and uncomfortable because of what I thought were Braxton Hicks. I didn’t want to get my hopes up since I’d had so many false starts, so I went to go lay down again. Around 3:30, I got a message from one of my former student’s mothers, asking me if the baby had come yet, and I said no, but I would let her know when the baby arrived! I was definitely in full-blown labor at this point, but was still in denial.

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story

After that message, things kind of swung into high gear. I went back to the bathroom and was finally admitted to myself that I was in labor. Aaron had decided to work from home that day just in case, and I’m so thankful he did. He was rubbing my back, holding my hand, and helping me breathe through everything. I had labored with Emma for a few hours without an epidural, so I had some idea of what it would feel like, but these were more intense and definitely different than an induced contraction.

After about 15 minutes of hard laboring, Aaron started asking me if we could get in the car soon. He was getting worried, but I was adamant that I was fine, and that they would just send us home. The level of my moaning/screaming should have probably been an indicator to me that he was right and I was in denial, but hey…labor does weird things to your brain.

We were timing my contractions, and they were coming so fast. One would start, start to end, but before it was even over, another would come. Emma came into the bathroom to check on me, and she got really scared. I was moaning through the contractions, and it was clear I was in pain, which was hard for her to see. Thankfully, my mom came and held her while I breathed/moaned through each wave. What seemed like just a minute or so later, Aaron firmly told me that we were getting in the car. This was about 4:30 PM, and thankfully I finally listened.

We put a towel down, threw the bags in the back, and we were on our way. We had called the midwife back when we were at the house to let them know we would be coming but didn’t get a call back until we were in the car. She basically asked if I was feeling pushy or crampy, and I screamed YES! and then moaned through another contraction. That interaction let her know I was very close, and her tone changed. She said she would get there as fast as she could, but was stuck on I-35. She probably wouldn’t make it for the birth. I panicked a little, but she said she had called ahead to the birth center (who were closing up for the day since it was almost 5), and got someone ready for us.

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story
Photo provided by Google Earth

I will never forget the light we had to stop at while turning onto the birth center’s street. The rest of the drive is a straight shot, but the light took an eternity to change since I was in intense pain and was lifting up out of my seat, writhing trying to find a more comfortable position. I think many people probably saw a lot more than they bargained for, but you do what you have to when you’re in labor!

We finally pulled up to the birth center and I was between contractions. There were two midwives and a nurse outside waiting for me. I recognized one of the midwives and the nurse had always been so great to me. Seeing the team that knew what was going on and was going to take care of me really put me at ease.

However, those contractions were no joke. Moaning through them was fine, but even Aaron was a little scared because of how intense they were. I was afraid that I was going to scare an expectant mom so I wanted to get inside as soon as possible. They asked me if we were going to have a baby, and I said: “I don’t know”. Clearly, I was in transition and doubting myself, but at that moment I wasn’t sure if they were going to send me home or not.

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story
Austin Area Birthing Center’s Folklife Room

They whisked me inside while Aaron got the bags, and quickly checked me. It was during a contraction and SO uncomfortable. When she announced that I was 9.5 centimeters I said, “What?! Really?!”. I was in disbelief. Thankfully I didn’t ask the very experienced midwife if she was sure.

I needed some sort of pain relief and had planned on using the tub. Aaron reminded me that I wanted to be in the water for the birth, so I asked if I could get in. They said they’d try and started filling it up, but I might give birth before it was ready. I was rocking back and forth on my legs with every contraction, bent over, trying to stay sane. They put a little puppy pee pad underneath me since my water hadn’t broken yet, and with the next contraction, I felt my water break. When I looked down, it was green. That’s when things got scary.

Green amniotic fluid means there is meconium, the first bowel movement of a new baby. That generally means that there is a chance that the baby is in distress or will have breathing problems because they inhaled some of the meconium. I was so scared and I asked if he would be okay. Nobody answered me. Their priority was to get the baby out as soon as they could, so they could help him if something had indeed gone wrong.

I quickly got into the tub, and they encouraged me to push with each contraction. I had a contraction, pushed, and then it dissipated. One of the midwives told me that I would only need one more push, and I’d be done, which was music to my ears. Another contraction came, and I gave it my all. I kept pushing after it subsided, but it was enough for him to be born. One more push and the placenta was born.

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story

I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t really even know I was in labor until 3:30 PM, and here we were at 5:10, less than 2 hours later with a baby in my arms. It was incredibly scary and overwhelming, but also made me feel so powerful. Precipitous labor is when everything is said and done within 3 hours. While it sounds like a dream, laboring that fast is abnormal and has complication associated with it. My midwife told me she’s seen some women go faster, but not many.

As far as the pain was concerned, it was intense and all-consuming, but momentary. Each contraction was a wave – tightening from the top of my belly down, and then it was over. Breathing really helped, as well as moaning. I screamed more than I wanted to, but you do what you have to do to cope. The water felt amazing, even though they had to drain the tub before it even got filled.

Back to our little one – the momentary bliss of holding him for the first time was replaced with the midwives making sure he was okay. He took awhile to cry, and was pretty blue. Eventually, he cried and pink-ed up, and Aaron and I both breathed a sigh of relief.

The midwives that delivered Tyler cleaned up and went home, and the midwife we talked to on the phone, that was stuck on I-35, arrived. She said she was so sorry that she missed the birth, but was thankful there was someone there to help us. If they had been closed for the day, I would have delivered with Aaron as my only support on the porch of the birth center.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen and we had a healthy baby boy in our arms. Unfortunately, because I gave birth so quickly, there was a clot that had to be removed. I also tore pretty badly. With Emma, I still had an epidural and could feel the tugging, but not much else. I just didn’t think about it and it wasn’t a big deal. But this time, I had no medication, and was going to feel a lot more.

She finished her exam of me and told me that she would need to remove the clot by hand. I was scared, but told her she just had to do what she had to do. Guys…that pain was way worse than the birth. Pushing a baby out was nothing compared to having the clot removed. I screamed involuntarily, which is not something that I have ever done before during a medical procedure (outside of birth, obviously). But she was quick about it, skilled in removing it, and was done with it quickly.

The removal of the clot left me with some trauma to work through, and some scar tissue that I would have to deal with. I think it was because I was unprepared for how much it was going to hurt. I absolutely do NOT blame my midwife for the trauma, just like I don’t blame my baby for causing pain while he was being born. She saved my life by removing that clot, and I am incredibly thankful for that. She was kind, professional, and as gentle as she could be, given the circumstances.

Once that was taken care of, she gave me some numbing medicine and stitched me up. I could definitely still feel pinching and pulling quite a bit. It hurt. She gave me as much as she could, but when you’re sewing muscle back together, local numbing will only do so much. If I were to do it again, I would happily go through labor and birth with no medication, but want an epidural just for the repair.

Honestly, I hadn’t thought about how hard the repair was going to be. The labor is the painful thing everyone talks about, nobody really talks about what happens afterwards. I don’t know if this is because most people are numb from an epidural during it, or if it’s just lost in the excitement of the new baby, but I wish I had been more prepared for it.

Precipitous Labor and A Birth Story

A few hours later, after I passed the postpartum screening and Tyler had been all checked out, they said we were free to go home. I think we were home by 10 PM. It’s amazing how different this experience was compared to the hospital birth I had with Emma.

There are good things and bad things compared to my previous experience. I was able to spend our first night in our own bed, shower in my own shower, and wear the clothes I wanted to. But because of the speed of my labor, I didn’t get to use any form of pain relief. We have no pictures. I didn’t use a single thing packed in my bags. I probably tore much worse because of how fast everything happened. Instead of being prepared, we were rushing. I would maybe change a few things about the process if I could rewrite history, but I wouldn’t change a single thing about the outcome.

We got home, and Emma was already in bed. My mom was up, and we spent an hour or two talking about the birth and admiring Tyler. She eventually went to bed and we settled in. Emma got to meet her brother the next day and it was PURE LOVE. They’ve been best buddies ever since. She kisses him, hugs him, and calls him ‘vuh-ver’. They giggle in the bath together, play together, and I couldn’t be happier.

Aaron is THE BEST DAD, and I am so thankful for him. We have a little family of our own now, and I’m so happy. It’s the life I always dreamed of, and I can’t imagine doing it with anyone else.

***Just a little PSA I have to throw in: I’m not sharing my struggles with Tyler’s birth to ‘win’ or get sympathy for having precipitous labor. Nobody has it easier or harder than anyone else. It’s all just DIFFERENT. It’s not a contest. So before you respond to someone’s birth story, make sure what you say doesn’t negate how they feel about it. Whether they were in labor for days or only a few hours, just say ‘Good job’. Parents don’t need to hear anything else besides that. No ‘You made that decision? Wow, I could never do that!’. No ‘Well…I was in labor for DAYS, I wish I had given birth in just a few hours!’. No ‘I had it harder than you, so I win’ subliminal messaging. I feel the need to say this because people have actually said these things to me. And it hurts. And it’s not ok.Just be kind. New parents need it more than you know.***

Did this story help you prepare for your son or daughter’s upcoming birth? Did it help you heal from a birth that didn’t go as planned? Consider sharing it with others so they can benefit from it, too! You can always check in on my Kids and Parenting Pinterest board.

Precipitous Labor Birth Story: Tyler’s Arrival

Tyler Ballard

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On Tuesday, April 4th at 2:54 AM, Emma Grace Ballard was born, and I want to write down her birth story to remember and share with you guys. With a due date of April 24th, I certainly hadn’t expected to have a baby 20 days early, but that’s how things happened!

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Emma’s Birth Story

Special Events

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Buying Our First Home!

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We’re finally settling into the new place! The morning of closing, we drove downtown (where we would be signing all our documents), and basically just signed a bunch of papers. It was kind of a weird process since the sellers were in another room and we were periodically left alone to wait until the sellers had agreed to our terms. You can see Aaron was taking it VERY seriously.

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Lunchtime and Waiting for the Keys

Anyway, all the papers (lots of them!) got signed, and we just needed to wait for the keys to be ready. They said it could be a few hours, but we didn’t really have anything else to do, so we went to Whole Foods for lunch. Their sushi was delicious and it was fun to pretend we were fancy for a day.

After lunch, we walked through the west elm store that’s downtown, and then back to the title company to pick up our keys. Unceremoniously, they handed us the keys in a manilla envelope, and we were on our way!

The First Homeowner Mistake – No Power

We got to the house and flipped the lights on…wait. Something is wrong. Why isn’t the light switch working? Do we not have power? WE DON’T HAVE POWER. Oh no. What do we do?!?!?!?!?

Turns out, when I was getting ready for the purchase, I called the wrong company to turn on our power. Austin Energy doesn’t service our home – Pedernales Electric Cooperative does. Austin Energy assured me that I was all set up and ready to go! They were wrong. So I called Pedernales, paid the very expensive day of start fee (ouch!), and we were on our way. Expensive mistake, but it had to be done. Aaron was running around taking pictures of the empty house while I was getting quite upset on the phone. I didn’t know he took this one, but I’m glad he did! I’ll remember that moment forever, and I can definitely laugh about it now.

The Time Warner cable guy was installing our internet, and Aaron and I started unloading the moving truck. I never want to move again, you guys. It’s too much work, but I’m too cheap to hire movers. You get all hot and sweaty and then you STILL have to clean! To this day, the box to our lawnmower is sitting in our living room. Because THAT makes sense.

First Project – Cabinets in the Office!

After we got everything moved and spent the first few days just enjoying our new home, we kept cleaning, organizing, and dreaming about projects until my mom came to visit a few weeks ago. She said she’d help us with a project – so we decided to go ahead and get our office set up. Since Aaron works from home often, we really needed to get it done. To IKEA!

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After a few hours, we had a lot of our cabinets built and ready to hang. We’re really happy with the quality so far – they’re very sturdy and went together beautifully. The hardest part was screwing the drawer fronts on to the rest of the drawers. Since I opted for a design with a TON of drawers, we got to do that a lot.

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Eventually, we got them up on the wall and decided to call it a night. It was midnight and I had to conduct church the next day since our regular choir director was sick.

PB Teen Office Chairs

We also splurged for the same office chairs that Young House Love has and they are SO comfy! We’d been eyeing them for years, and finally decided to bite the bullet and just buy them. Aaron really needs something good since he sits for so long every day. Fun fact – they’re actually from PB Teen but look super ‘grown up’!

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Eventually, it looked like this. Almost done! We just needed to cut the countertop, join the two pieces in the middle, and run the wiring for our computers. But as usual, my DIY brain got the best of me and turned a simple project into a much more complicated one…you’ll see what I mean soon! We’re officially moved in! I can’t wait to share all of the projects we’ll be working on. Being a homeowner is so exciting!

Move In Day

Blog, Kitchen

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