My First Baby: Joshua’s Birth Story

In the interest of documenting all four of my “birth stories.”  This is the story of my very first baby.

 Joshua’s delivery was my most normal, uncomplicated labor and delivery of all.  He was also the only one that was not induced.  I got to go into labor, on my own, three days before my due date.  That was truly an exciting experience.

   I can’t help but wonder if his labor and delivery was my most successful because it wasn’t an induction.
   Of course, it also didn’t hurt that he was not a 9 pounder, weighing in at 8 lb 8 oz, my 2nd to smallest baby.
   Here’s what I wrote in my journal, 5 days after the delivery:
  “Not pregnant anymore!  Hallelujah!  I went into labor at 1:50 am Saturday morning and had Joshua at 7:10pm Saturday night.  It was certainly not easy, and neither is this recovery, but I just adore our beautiful baby boy.  He’s so wonderful!
   It [parenting the new baby] was pretty hard on Alan and me at first (in the night hours) because I was bedridden until Tuesday, and Alan sleeps too hard to wake up with the baby.  We’ve gotten a lot better though.
   Right now my parents are here.  They arrived yesterday.  Now we have help, which we really needed.  Plus, we have our Sunday School class bringing food, and we’ve had visitors from Alan’s work too.  Everyone’s been very supportive.
   We are so thankful for our beautiful, healthy baby Joshua.”
Labor length:  ~17 hours
Complications:  Vacuum assisted birth (Dr. Griggs explained that the shoulders were just too big.)
Pain Control:  My epidural settled into my legs, rather than into my abdomen…it was an extremely           painful labor, especially “transition”, the last phase of labor, right before you start to push.  With that came shaking all over and puking.
Joshua:  Perfectly healthy:  8 lb 8 oz, 21 inches.  His eyes were crossed, but that fixed itself within the first two months.
FYI:  There’s no perfect way to predict a baby’s size, there’s just not.  Every ultrasound to predict size for my past babies was WAY off.  I found the tape measure to be a much better predictor.  At 36 weeks pregnant with Joshua, Caleb, and Daniel I measured 1 week ahead.  John David was the only baby that my belly measured on schedule.   

 2 months old, and a dead ringer for little bro JD!  Pictured with buddy, Ella 
By the way, we took a photo in 2012 of Joshua and Ella together, 7 years later:
Still Cute!  Wolverine mask, and all.
5 weeks
4 months and so adorable.  I know, you’re so jealous of the shag carpet we had, right?
 4 or 5 months
…just so you can get a peek at what JD will look like in 3 more months
5 months

5 months
(Note the bib, Aunt Amy, the drooling disaster had already begun.  Looks like you’re safe.)
17 months, Easter, with a very pregnant Mommy.

Joshua, 20 months, Caleb, 1 week.  Now Daniel looks like Joshua!
Well, as Alan always says, “Same recipe!”
; )

The Story of John David

John David, 3 days old, in Mommy’s arms, in the comfort of his own room.
  So today is the 22nd, and he was born on the 19th.  Does that make him three days old or 4?  I’m thinking it hasn’t been 4 full days, so we will go with 3.  That makes me feel better about how much I still hurt too.  Hey, it’s only been 3 days.  I will be feeling better before you know it!
  Let me tell you about this baby!
brand new.  That’s Dr. Wittich on the left and the lady helping him (don’t know her) on the right.  That’s literally right when they pulled him out of my belly.
  J.D. was a planned c-section.  Ya’ll, I have never been so nervous in my life.  I apologize to Alan as well as my parents for having to deal with me THAT MORNING, as I was leaving for the surgery!  I’d say the anxiety attack was starting already.
  One of the midwives last Friday (day of the high blood pressure) commented that it was no wonder I was spiking high blood pressures, considering I’ve had such rough deliveries, and the time was drawing close again.  This has just never gone well for me, so I was terrified.  Getting pregnant, pregnancy, and newborns I can handle, but nature always sticks you on some point of it, and for me that is delivery!
 They always have the father excused from the room to do the epidural or spinal block.  This was their first mistake.  There is only one person that can calm April during a terrified-of -medical-procedures-panic attack, and that person is Alan.
   First spinal block:  failed.  She put it in some kind of bony protrusion in my back, so it did nothing.
   Second spinal block:  already reached my full level of pain tolerance from having the first spinal block with the also failed local anesthesia that keeps you from feeling the spinal…..leaving them with….
   crazy April.
   I survived.  They survived.  They laid me down on the table, I suddenly (psychologically) felt like I couldn’t breathe at all, and the panic hit full on.
   The smart anesthesiologist said, “Okay, I did not do a good job of handling your anxiety.  Someone get her husband in here now.”  “I know.  Bring him in early–right away.”

“Hi, I’m Super Dad.  All you have to do is rub Crazy April’s head, just like this, and promise her everything will be okay and she’s doing great.”  : )  Thank God for Alan!

  How come the women with scheduled-c-sections on t.v. are always so calm?  Actually, I was calm for my first c-section (Daniel).  Oh well.   Let’s get back to what you really want to see:  baby pictures!

 newborn temp check
 Beautiful!  And ready to breast-feed already.  Someone get this boy to the mama!
 Daddy looks so nice in white.
 By the time we left the hospital, he was down to 7 lb 10 oz.  We actually had to go to the store and buy him some long sleeved newborn sleepers.  (We keep the house nice and cool).

 I helped the boys make the baby this sign for the hospital room door.  It’s super cute.  We put John David’s statistics in the middle part, and I’ll add his footprint to the middle as well.  I got a lot of compliments on that in the hospital.

 Daniel is SO EXCITED about J.D.  He wants to hold him all the time, as does Caleb.  Joshua is also seriously excited, but a lot more cautious with the baby than his brothers.  Another sign of the maturity gap there!

Rooming In
   The rooming in policy wasn’t all bad for us.  I fed the baby way more often this way, as he didn’t disappear for hours to the nursery.  It was always obvious that if Alan couldn’t calm J.D. down, and his mouth was rooting, it was time to feed.  This has been great for my milk supply and has kept engorgement from being painful b/c my breasts have been emptied out more frequently by my greedy little eater.  : )
  Not everyone has an experienced Daddy like Alan though!  I’m not sure if this would’ve worked so good for us 7 years ago!

 Joshua, our little photographer

 We have a picture of Alan holding Joshua and Caleb at that age that looks so much like this!

  Recovery from a c-section is never fun.  This hospital was really great at staying on top of pain medication though.  We still couldn’t wait to get home, though.  Hospitals do not let you sleep!  Someone was constantly coming in, even waking up the baby, to check temperatures, give meds, paperwork, pictures, etc.
  Right now I’m only supposed to use the stairs a couple times/day and need to be assisted, in case of losing consciousness.
   Having done both, I now say with full confidence that one should do their best to avoid a c-section.  This baby turned out to be fairly average sized, so maybe I could have delivered him without a problem, but there was no way for us to know that.  All docs/ midwives I talked to recommended this route for me b/c of my scary natural deliveries.
  There is no easy way out of having a baby, but natural is definitely easier, even if you do get a 3rd degree or have a hot spot from your epidural.
   So we are calling our family complete.  All present and accounted for.  If I weren’t a c-section patient, I’d have a dozen babies.  I really do love babies so much, but it’s not good to have too many c-sections.
  We are just going to super-enjoy the babies that we have.

**3 days Old**

  John David has been a perfect gentleman of a baby, so far.  He likes swaddling, but hates having his arms swaddled, so I just leave those out.  He has yet to see a pacifier.  In the beginning, he wanted to nurse 30 minutes on each side, and I was a bit concerned for our future….but now that my milk is in, he is done after 7-15 minutes on each side.  Phew!
  He sleeps pretty much 24 hours/day.  I figure I might as well enjoy that now, as that will be over pretty quickly!
  So far he has been very easy going, which we SO appreciate!!!!
  My parents leave with the three oldest boys tomorrow, so next week would be a great time for any of you to visit if you’d like and get to hold little John David.
  Right now Alan is squeezing in a little quality time with the big bros.  He took them to a baseball game, and I’m sure they’re having a great time.
  What would I do without Alan, Dad, and Mom this week???
  I’d like to thank all three of them for being so wonderful and getting us through this exciting but crazy time!!!

My first C-Section: Daniel’s Birth Story

holding Daniel the very first time.  I was so happy to finally see my baby, as it had been a few hours since the birth.  But I was in SO much pain, and my head was so fuzzy from the morphine that I was still rather out of it.  (And oh, yeah with 2/3 of my deliveries, I swelled really bad, as you can see in my face.  What’s up with that?  My blood pressure was not high–you can see it on the monitor behind me 114/68– so that’s just another one of those preggo things I don’t understand).
  Daniel’s was the only delivery that I did not sit down and write out the story afterwards.  : (  So I will have to rely on my memory.  Thankfully, Dan is only 2, so I don’t have to reach that far back.  I did write this on my old blog, 5 days after his birth:
“What a week! Wow. We are still excited our little Daniel is here with us, and of course we are still awaiting the day when Mommy is fully recovered and all our little boys are together!
The first two nights home, Daniel was awake all night, and the night before last was especially rough. But thankfully, last night he only woke up twice. Yay! Unfortunately I still couldn’t sleep! Isn’t that crazy! Having a c-section means that you can only sleep comfortably on your back. Any other position pulls at my stitches and doesn’t feel too good. I am waaay not a back sleeper! I grew up before we put babies on their backs to sleep. I’m hoping the pain goes away soon, and I’ll be able to sleep however I want. Until then I’ll be sleeping in the recliner!
Tuesday was a crazy day. The emergency c-section certainly threw me for a loop though! The actual surgery part was easy, but the pain afterwards was…..less easy…I think we have enough children now! Ha!”

  I’m actually not looking forward to that whole pain part, but they say it’s much different with a spinal block.  Perhaps that will be the case.  I think the bigger problem was my body’s resistance to morphine–which I now have learned does nothing for me.

    With Daniel, I was the largest pregnant woman I have ever ever been.  I was 15 lbs heavier at the end of that pregnancy than with any of my others.  So we’ll just call that one my true “balloon” pregnancy.  Even my fingers were pregnant!
   I knew the size of the baby was going to be a problem, and Dr. Collins had completely forgotten how much trouble my past deliveries were.  Therefore, a month before my due date I went to his office armed with a detailed list of why he could not allow me to carry this baby to 40 weeks or even 39, or the results would be disastrous.  He laughed me off until he actually read the list.  Then he said, “Okay, actually those are good reasons, and very well presented.”  (Success!  : )  I am the least confrontational person ever, but when I know a debate or confrontation must be made, I write down a thorough argument–so as not to lose my nerve, rehearse it in advance, and then make my case leaving no room for questioning or doubt.  I also won a small debate award for that once in college.  : )  )
    My induction date was set for 10 days prior to my due date, the earliest the hospital would allow us to do so.
    Alan and I checked in at midnight, leaving our older two boys with DaddyO and Nonna.  Since I have notoriously slow labors (15-16 hours), we told everyone to just take their time driving up the next day, no need to rush.  They all remembered spending hours on end in the waiting room for the last delivery, so they didn’t need much convincing.
     The pitocin drip was in by 1 am or so, and heavy contractions started right away.  They weren’t close together enough to get me dilated very quickly though.  I checked in dilated 2-3 cms, and the nurses said I was already registering contractions before they started the pitocin.  I didn’t pay those contractions much attention though, as those are the false labor ones that enable me to be several cm dilated before delivery begins, but do not qualify as active labor.
      By 8:30 am, I was hurting badly enough to not want to talk, so I decided it was time to get the epidural.  Everything went haywire pretty quickly at that point.
    First, the epidural went more upwards than downwards, so I couldn’t sit up and my chest felt tight.  Then my blood pressure plummeted, I threw up (dry heaved), and started to pass out.  Thankfully, the nurse anesthetist was still there monitoring my reaction to the epidural, so they quickly injected blood pressure meds into my IV.  That stopped the fainting and the puking.
    I was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e, and I did not have a good feeling about how things were going.  Dr. Collins walked in to check on me, and I said, “Dr. Collins, this is not going well.  This is not going to go well.  I’m going to be in labor 15 hours (total–that’s my average), then the baby’s going to get stuck at the shoulders.  You might as well just go ahead and cut me open and get this over with!”
   Well, he deals with anxious women in labor on a daily basis, so he was probably not surprised by my change in personality.  (I come across as easy going almost always, EXCEPT in labor and delivery situations….in which I can become a bit scary I suppose.  Not yelling, just grumpy.)    He broke my water, assured me that would get things moving, and fled from the room.  I don’t think he really responded one way or the other to my c-section request….

     About 1 minute after he broke my water, he and another nurse (in addition to the one standing beside me) rushed back into the room.
    “All right, April, you jinxed us.  It looks like you’re going to get your wish.  The baby’s heart rate has plummeted, so we’re going to have to do an emergency c-section and get him out of there.  It looks like when the water broke, the cord started choking the baby.”
    All in a matter of seconds, Alan was handed scrubs, oxygen tubing was inserted into my nose, and they were doing various prep jobs as they rolled me quickly down the hall.
   By the time Alan got those scrubs on, called the family, and walked into the operating room, they had already begun the surgery.  It was rather amazing how quickly it was all done.

    I don’t know what they put in my IV, but it was a rather odd experience, very surreal and confusing to me at the time.  I remember most when they held up Daniel, all covered in goo and crying the quietest cry I’d ever heard.  He was the roundest newborn I’d ever seen.  9lb 4 oz and only 20 inches long.  They held him up and said, “You’ve got a red-head!”  I was so excited to hear that, except I couldn’t really tell that his hair was red yet, only gooey!
   They kept him on oxygen, with Dr. Doggett, the pediatrician pacing over him for two hours before anyone got to hold him.

Dr. Doggett with Daniel, fresh out of the womb …..9 lb 4 oz.  20.5 inches–  Now see, you’d look HUGE too, if you had that baby riding around in your belly!

Poor little Dan.  I don’t know if he was gasping for air or really wanting his first meal, but he held his mouth like that for a good while.  He didn’t get fed until around 5 hours after birth, and even then we had trouble getting him to latch on, so I don’t remember when he got his true first feeding.

    I was too out of it to know anything about that, though.  The epidural had been removed, and I was on morphine, but I felt like I was on nothing at all.  For three hours I just laid there, wanting so badly to sleep b/c of the effects of the pain medication.  But I couldn’t sleep at all b/c I felt like the entire middle of my body was very much on fire.

Lesson learned here:  I really hope to convince the medical staff to give me a different pain medication–not morphine.
   They kept asking me, “What’s your pain level now, 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt.”
   I kept telling them, “10!  10!  It’s a 10!”  I wanted to share in the excitement of holding Daniel and talking to family, but I was hurting way too badly.  I told Alan to just make sure everyone knew I couldn’t really talk yet.

    That level of pain only lasted a few hours, the morphine finally wore off and they gave me something else, and so it became more and more of just a manageable pain.  Thank goodness!

    Of course, when Daniel was born it was also very hard on Alan, as he was so worried about both Daniel and me, and they didn’t always allow him in the room.  I felt so bad for him.  No family was there to share in his worry because we had told everyone “take your time”.  They all found out about the delivery via telephone, on their way to the hospital.  I think Daniel was born around 9 or 9:30 am, but I was so fuzzy and it all happened so fast, I just really don’t remember!
   The family was worried about Alan being at the hospital alone during all this, so Alan’s Granddaddy, who lives close to that hospital, was so kind as to come up and sit with Alan until the rest of the family had arrived.  Jennings also came by to visit, before either Daniel or I had come out of the recovery room.
    That was definitely our quickest, craziest delivery!

   The c-section is a slower, more painful road to recovery, even with the rough deliveries that I had had in the past.  However, at least I didn’t suffer any complications from it, and it was truly a life-saving procedure for Daniel.  It’s also the reason I don’t advocate at-home births in an age where we have such wonderful medical advances.  I don’t believe Daniel would have survived a home-birth.

   Daniel was a very typical baby.  He’s a super atypical toddler, though.  Obviously, he is a mischievous little thing, with all the toilets, lipstick, food, and markers he’s gotten into…..but that boy will do chores alongside his momma all day long.  He also obeys better than any 2-year-old we’ve ever had.  He is such a sweet blessing.

one day old, in the arms of Great Aunt Janet

Dr. Doggett, faithfully monitoring baby Dan

J & C, meeting Dan for the first time, already trying to entertain their brother.  And there’s me, with my swollen face!

Caleb had talked for a month about how much he couldn’t wait to hold the baby in his hands.

using my finger as a pacifier….  I was never good at breastfeeding in front of others!  Even after three babies!

meeting his great-grandparents

proud big brother Caleb

Joshua took right to his role as oldest brother.


Baby News and Info on Shoulder Dystocia

Today Alan went with me to my ob/gyn appointment.  All is set for a June 19th c-section.  My doctor was able to look it up and tell me which doctor would be doing my surgery, and we set up my next appointment with him so that I can meet him before the delivery.  He has the longest service record of any soldier serving in the Army.  JD will be delivered by the man who cuts the Army birthday cake each year at the Pentagon. My doctor said that if she were to have a c-section, this is who she would want to do it, so that made me feel pretty good!
I told Dr. Asato how people are constantly fussing over the large size of my belly.  She shook her head and said, “The only thing anyone should ever say to a pregnant woman is, ‘You look great.”  I so agree!  She said I looked normal for 31 weeks to her, and I measured exactly 31 cm, right on schedule.
This doc and my mid-wife have both said, each time that we discuss it, that most any doctor would recommend a c-section for me since I had the TWO third- degree lacerations, due to shoulder dystocia. I’m glad I’m dealing with some understanding docs.  Perhaps it helps that they’re women.

So I got to thinking, “Why do the nurses and doctors panic so when they realize my babies are stuck at the shoulders?”  And of course, I googled it:

For those of you who may have trouble reading the blurry words on the above picture, it describes the dangers of this phenomenon, where the shoulder is impacted behind the pubic symphysis.  This is what happened with both Joshua and Caleb, but to a greater extreme, Caleb.
Dangers:  Entrapment of cord (also happened with Caleb), inability of child’s chest to expand properly, and severe brain damage or death if child is not delivered within minutes.
All of our family on both sides have been supportive of my decision to do a c-section, but in case anyone was wondering why, I think that explains it pretty well!
This puts the baby at great risk for brain damage and death.
Caleb was actually  born purple and not breathing. Thankfully, my doctor was able to quickly revive him. There were lasting effects, though.
…..So if all goes as planned this will be my very FIRST non-emergency delivery, with no running medical staff, no flashing red lights, no general sense of panic, you get the idea.
Editor’s note: Great news! John David was born with no complications whatsoever. You can read his birth story here.

Thing #2: Caleb’s Birth Story

Caleb and me, about 2 days after his delivery.  I was 26.
Caleb:  9 lb 9oz, 21.5 inches.  He was my largest newborn, and he has remained the largest at each age ever since.  He can now share clothes with Joshua, who is 20 months older than Caleb.
Caleb’s first Christmas:  5 months old and Joshua was 2 yrs and 1 month in this picture.  Also, that was the best Santa Clause ever!

**Caleb’s Birth Story**


originally written in my journal:  Fri., June 29, 2007

Yay!  Caleb is here!

I checked into the hospital around 12:30am Wednesday for my scheduled pitocin induction of labor. It was a fairly painful night.  They did give me half a dose of ambien, so I did sleep some.  It was a fitful, painful sleep.

For a while, they actually turned down the drip because the nurse said the baby and I needed a little break.  The contractions were really strong, and the baby wasn’t handling it great.

After 7am, Dr. Collins came in and broke my water, but everything moved much more slowly than I thought it would.

By 1pm, I was only 7 cm.  I had a wonderful epidural.

By early afternoon, I felt like he was right there, and I should be pushing, but I just wasn’t thinned out all the way.  It was so hard to wait!  Finally they gave me a booster to ease the pressure.

Then my legs went dead.
At 5:30, I was at 10cm, and I finally got to start pushing.  They all said I did a great job pushing.  It was a very rough delivery for Caleb because they had a lot of trouble getting his shoulders out.

Meanwhile, the cord was wrapped around his neck, so he wasn’t getting enough air.

We saw his head almost come out, all purple-ish, but then he couldn’t come any further because his shoulders were so big.

At 6:07pm, with four nurses pushing on my belly, Dr. Collins pretty much ripped Caleb right out of there.

Caleb was very purple in the face and not crying.

That scared us, but once the doctor suctioned him out really well, he did start breathing and crying.

His crying sounds totally different than Joshua’s.  I’m just so thankful we all got through it, and everyone is fine.

Caleb is precious.  The reason we had a hard delivery is that my little baby is 9 lb 9oz and 21.5 inches long!  He’s a big baby!

At first, I could hardly get him to eat at all, his nose was so bruised from his shaky entrance into the world.  Dr. Collins actually apologized for “bruising him up” and for not listening to me when I warned him this wasn’t going to go well.

I had told him that this baby was going to be huge, and I would need the biggest episiotomy he could give me, but he didn’t give me the biggest episiotomy, and by the time he realized the baby was in danger, it was too late to do anything other than get Caleb out.

Last night Caleb suddenly started to eat– a lot.  He just can hardly get enough.  I’m worried about him, though.  We’d had that concern about his kidneys, and I haven’t seen a single wet or poopy diaper yet.  Alan changed one poopy diaper yesterday, and the nursery changed him out of one soaking wet outfit last night. (That all turned out fine.)

My feet are swollen, and I am sore all over.  Emotionally, I feel okay.  I just feel a little stressed about not being able to pick up Joshua..  Thank the Lord for my healthy babies!

Lessons Learned from Caleb’s Delivery:

…..I did not do a good job of not picking up Joshua.  He was too heavy for me to lift for 6 weeks, due to all the stitches I needed after that rough delivery.  I didn’t listen, and I lifted him anyway within the first two weeks and busted my stitches.  I write that publicly only to warn all new mothers.  If you have stitches, and they tell you to take it easy for 6 weeks, you have to LISTEN to them!!!  That turned my recovery from 6 weeks to 12 weeks.

Newborns and Germs:
I am no longer the mother you will see parading out about town with a one-month-old.

During that first 6 weeks, if your baby spikes a fever, the medical community will fear the worse, and that usually means hospitalization and lots of invasive testing for your baby.

Caleb spiked a fever at 4 weeks, and was feverish with no symptoms for 3 or so days.
We were very fortunate.  Dr. Doggett was wonderful.  He said that since Caleb was otherwise healthy and growing well, I only had to bring him to his office every day for urine samples and such until the fever had been gone 24 hours.

(By the way, watching them try to get a urine sample from a baby is hilarious.  Touch the walls at your pediatrician’s office with caution.  They could have been peed on…)

Dr. Doggett told me how they usually hospitalize those cases, but there had been no recent cases of meningitis (which is what they were primarily concerned about), and he felt like I was “a very capable mother,” so I could keep him at home with me.

I can’t tell you how happy it made me to have the trust of our pediatrician and to not be put through all the unnecessary tests we might’ve endured in a larger city.

From that experience I formed my current policy of camping out at home the first six weeks, and what a load off it is anyway, to not feel pressured to resume normal activities for six whole weeks.

One more thing!

Each postpartum phase has been different for me, but I remember feeling so happy after Caleb was born.  I had had a pretty depressed pregnancy, though, so I was backwards for Caleb from what you’d expect.