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Bea’s Birth Story Part 3

March 14, 2017

You’re missing the whole picture if you haven’t read: Part 1 or Part 2

Disclaimer: This is the messy part and will be more graphic than the previous posts

My water broke and it was THE strangest feeling. I was pacing in the TV room and had to run (at nearly 40 weeks pregnant) to the bathroom. I immediately knew it wasn’t pee but it wasn’t like anything else I’d felt before either. The best thing I can compare particularly heavy gush like when you’re on your period. I was relieved and excited. I knew what this meant, this is the show starter! We were now on a clock to get this baby out. I texted Jessica (my doula) and she let me know that I shouldn’t be surprised if my contractions kicked into high gear. 

We texted my doctor and he told me that I needed to go the hospital within 8 hours of my water breaking. No sweat, I thought, this is when things get going, I’m sure I’ll be at the point of no return well before the 8-hour mark, right? Wrong. My contractions did not get so bad that I wasn’t able to withstand them. Instead, I labored and we watched a football game. I labored and then took naps. Things were more uncomfortable but it wasn’t any different than the 10 days prior. So, we took a final nap, set an alarm and woke up to leave for the hospital at 1:30 am.

 

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Hospital arrival picture. That’s the monitor, not my belly button.

We checked into the hospital through the ER. I declined the wheelchair to the floor and they laughed, surely thinking to themselves that I must not actually be in labor since I declined the wheelchair and stayed relatively calm during the 15 minute check-in process. (Please someone tell me what the point of pre-registration is?!). Jessica met us at the room. When they checked me I hadn’t progressed any further from my 3-4 cm check at the office earlier in the day. They let me know that they would give me two hours to labor and then that the doctor would likely put me on Pitocin if I wasn’t progressing. I was a woman on a mission during those two hours. I paced and bounced and rocked and squatted but I knew this was a long process and didn’t want to exhaust myself. At around 2:30 the contractions got to the point where I had to stop and focus in order to make it through them. They were definitely more intense than the ones I had experienced before. Great! My body is getting started, we’ll be progressed and we can skip Pitocin. The 3:30 am check still had me around 4 cm. This was not the progress they were hoping for and so we had the Pitocin talk. I negotiated my way into a half dose of Pitocin and going up by half doses because I knew my body was ramping up and I didn’t want to overload it with unnecessary intensity. I also thought that a little nudge might be helpful since we’d been stuck in our holding pattern for so long. The nurse agreed to the dosage but let me know that we’d have to kick up significantly by the time the doctor came for his rounds at 10 am if I wasn’t progressing. Jokes on you, I thought, I’ll have this baby before 10 am.

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If I had known how much I would hate the IV, I would have fought harder against the Pitocin. They inserted it right at top of my wrist on my left hand. I lost my ability to bend it and it really hurt. I also got the janky pole that I would liken to the janky cart at the grocery story. It wouldn’t travel with me in a straight line and I cursed it up and down hallways. About 30 minutes after I started the Pitocin, I wanted to move into the tub. The tub was the entire reason I picked this hospital. I loved the tub. The contractions were getting stronger, I cried and groaned and cursed occasionally but it got REAL when I decided to get out of the tub. I had a VERY strong contraction as I was getting out and immediately regretted both getting into and out of the bathtub. At this point, I also started threw up several times. I have to pause here and say that I remember hearing other people casually recounting their throwing up during labor and thought this sounded like one of the WORST things that could happen. Ha!

 

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Josh kept a few close friends apprised of the situation. Mom took care of texting the family. I’m sure the people he was updating were getting a different but equally exciting version.

I could feel the contractions getting shorter and closer together. I sucked continuously on mints that Jessica brought to keep nausea down. Nausea is a side effect of the Pitocin which had definitely hit. From this point on, I only remember a few things. I remember HATING getting on the stupid bed to get checked. I felt like there wasn’t anywhere to channel the pain when the contractions came. Mom and Jessica did reflexology on my feet while I was contracting and that’s the only way that I didn’t kick myself right off the bed. Josh was incredible, right next to me, holding my hand, brushing my hair out of my face. Everyone was extremely encouraging, I remember being told that I was doing great, my body was doing things exactly the way it should be.

Over the course of those hours between 3:30 and 8:30, I was offered medication several times. Each time, I considered it and decided that I thought I could keep going without it. I didn’t set out to have an unmedicated birth. I just knew that I didn’t want it before I felt like I needed it to keep going. This had to be confusing and hard for mom and Josh because I was desperately crying out for relief and for the pain to end during the contractions. I alternately groaned and prayed and (I later found out) swore my way through those hours. I also sang a Christmas Carol during one of them and Josh joined in with me. I stayed on my feet as much as possible dragging that damn pole all around the room with me. Jessica, Mom and Josh were an incredible team. I never felt alone! They did all sorts of things to make me as comfortable as possible including hot rags, cold rags, massage, prayer and waving a towel at me.

I labored in the bathroom for part of the time using the rails to support me in a squatting flow. I remember the contractions changing and intensifying into something otherworldly. I could literally feel them pushing around her and I wanted her out. Josh summed this up in his update:

 

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I had no idea that he was posting updates like this but I’m so glad he did!

We hit transition and they went to get the Dr. at around 8:30. I don’t recall much of transition except the point during which they asked me to put my legs in the stirrups. My legs were cramping so badly that it was unbelievable to try and wedge them into any position during a contraction. I remember screaming loudly during this process. My Dr. arrived at around 9:15. He checked in and gave me a pep talk. He told me that I needed to focus and start channeling my pain into my bottom and to begin the process of pushing during the next few pushes or we could be there for hours and we might end up with a c-section. I took this as a challenge and in one push she was crowning. Josh looked down and he told me she had hair. We were both sure she’d be bald! I bore down and pushed my hardest for that second push and out she came (to EVERYONE’S surprise!) at 9:47 am. They pulled her out and put her on my chest and I was so confused and relieved and amazed. She was here! We had a good amount of skin to skin time and Josh cut her umbilical cord.

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AND THEN. The doctor informed me that it was going to take between 30 and 45 minutes to stitch me up. He told me I had three options: stitching with only local anesthetic, receiving IV drugs or going to the operating room. I initially tried with no help and that was a joke. They gave me local anesthetic three separate times and gave me IV drugs and I bucked all over that table like a Bronco. I have NO idea how he was able to completely, and expertly, stitch me up when I was moving like that. I was so completely out of it from the medication. I knew everything that was happened and it hurt so much worse than delivering her. I was in and out of awareness. At one point, I couldn’t figure out if I’d actually had the baby. I eventually asked them if they could put the baby back on my chest to try and distract me.

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About four weeks later, I learned that I had 4th degree tearing. I had multiple internal and external tears. His actual words were “I started stitching and it was like here’s a tear, there’s a tear and another over here. In 1,000 births you’re in my top two worst tears I’ve ever repaired. I should have taken you to the operating room but you’d just had her naturally and I just couldn’t undo all that you’d just done.”As it turns out, my birth canal and vaginal opening are just small and so even though my baby was a normal size with a normal size head, her exit was significantly destructive.

So, that’s why my recovery has been (and continues to be) so prolonged. This sweet little bean that I’ve been writing all this about is just waking up so the recovery part of the story will have to wait a little while. It’s an important chapter to this story because it taught me so much.

Bea’s Birth Story Part 2

February 28, 2017

Wait! If you haven’t already read it, you should begin this journey via Part 1

I continued having painful and regular contractions on Tuesday morning, though not significant enough to call my Doula back over. There was a discussion about whether mom needed to come straight to the hospital or meet us at home. That’s how sure we were that baby Bea would be greeting us some time in the near future.

We made this video on the 2nd day of labor and posted it to a group of friends awaiting updates.

Things continued to progress and then slow down all day long. Tuesday evening turned to night, and I had what we would come to call my nightly contractions. These were usually around 2 hours of intense contractions that eventually died down to nothing.

Josh went back to work his regular schedule and kept his phone close so that we were able to tell him if anything was changing.

This is where the days blend together so rather than go day by day I’ll hit the highlights. What we did for 10 days while we waited for baby to come…

Went to the chiropractor 4 times (mom was getting some help with back issues she was having since we knew she’d be in town for about six weeks).

Went on a food tour of Athens: Clocked, Southern Kitchen + Bar, Mama’s Boy, Taste of India, Cheddars, Jittery Joes (so many times) and Golden Dragon Chinese Buffet

We made delicious treats and each time we swore they were for the neighbors or the nurses…fudge, Rice Krispie treats, and white chocolate cranberry cookies (twice).

We had several fires in the fireplace when the contractions kicked up

We watched Almost every available episode of Madame Secretary

I said, “There’s no way I’ll still be pregnant on (enter date here)” a lot. I cried a lot and took a bath almost every day. I slept a lot and rested a lot, but it was difficult because I was so uncomfortable.

Josh and I waited, our families waited, friends across the world waited, and Baby Deal stayed put. She even had her own song written and performed for her. This was especially encouraging after hours and hours of laboring and feeling no closer to meeting her. At least we had a collection of special memories during those last days, like watching this video.

I was so frustrated and discouraged. I especially struggled with so many people assuming I was having Braxton Hicks or false labor rather than the true contractions of early labor. My body was responding each time…until it didn’t anymore.

Somehow, though I was sure we wouldn’t, we made it to my 38-week appointment with the Dr. He stirred up my membrane but didn’t completely strip it. It was extremely uncomfortable…and nothing changed.

I kept myself busy. I  got all our Christmas letter/birth announcement envelopes written out. I finished preparing all of my online courses for the Spring semester. This was probably the most amazing thing that this “extra time” gave me as I would have been so overwhelmed trying to get ahead after she’d arrived.

I bounced and bounced and bounced on the birthing ball. I contracted here and there, in the car and at the restaurants, in the bathtub, on my bed, I labored everywhere, and she still didn’t come.

I said things like, “”If this is about being prepared, my uterus is a freaking Eagle Scout.”

We went shopping and, in faith, picked out an outfit for her to wear on Christmas.

After 6 days, mom and I made it out of the house to get pedicures, and I got 9 inches of hair cut off.

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My body was exhausted. I rarely had enough energy to stay out of the house for more than a couple of hours. I was resolved that she was never going to come. I was mad. During the 2nd week of labor I had 5 friends give birth, and here I was stuck in purgatory. I was also full of contradictions. Every once in a while, a group of contractions would be significantly worse, and I would get gunshy and wish it would stop.

We tried all the things the internet suggested (short of castor oil), and she didn’t budge. We sat outside during a full moon, and she stayed stuck in there. We made it, shockingly, to the 39th-week appointment and that’s when we began to consider medical intervention. On Thursday, December 15th, we had an ultrasound and saw our precious girl again. It had been about two months since we’d seen her last. We set a date for an induction several days away.

We had eggplant parmesan for lunch.  I geared up for my nightly contractions and, after 10 days of early labor, at 5:30 pm, my water broke.

Bea’s Birth Story Part 1

February 1, 2017

On Monday, December 5, I was working hard to finish all of my grading for the semester. I published my final grade, and 30 minutes later, I started noticing that the contractions I was feeling had some regularity to them. I pulled up my pregnancy tracking app and started to time them, just for posterity’s sake.

At my last appointment, I was dilated between 1cm – 2cm and was 70% effaced. She was in the perfect position, and her head was “right there” at the top of my cervix. I was still just shy of two weeks from my due date, and though I longed for her to come early, I wasn’t really ready logistically. The contractions kept coming and began to be a little closer together. They were coming every 4-6 minutes apart for about half an hour before I texted our Doula. She suggested I make my way home where I’d be most comfortable and able to relax.

I made my last slow walk up the big hill from my office to the parking deck and called Josh. I told him what was going on and what Jessica (the Doula) had said about me coming home. He joined me there shortly. The contractions were painful and very unpleasant. I came home and packed a few things in my hospital bag and kept my mom posted about the contractions. She was working in Missouri and hadn’t planned on coming until Dec 15th. The contractions were coming closer together, about every 3 – 5 minutes. They had been rolling for about 5 hours by the time I decided to get in the bathtub. We let a small group of close friends know what was going on and settled in for the long haul.

Something strange happened in the bathtub around the 90 minutes in the tub mark. I was able to relax, and the contractions slowed down. They slowed down so significantly that I stopped timing them and focused on trying to rest. Josh was rushing around the house packing her bag of clothes and his because we all knew where this road leads…to the hospital! I remember him picking out about ten outfits because we weren’t sure what we wanted her to come home in. There was also a funny moment where he was trying to identify which socks to bring for her. “How am I supposed to know which size is for which age? These are WAY too big. These are too small…” In the end, he put a whole handful in and moved on to the next task.

My mom made the final call to end her trip early and was scheduled to arrive in Athens by early the following afternoon. Our Doula arrived at the house and set up camp. She was wonderful! She helped with anything we needed including learning how to adjust things on the car seat! Her help gave Josh peace of mind enough to run out and pick up some food/supplies that we wanted for our laboring including some King’s Hawaiian rolls, chicken soup and blow pops. He also picked up a couple of bags of firewood because I knew that I wanted to be able to have a fire in our fireplace to watch and focus on during the contractions. Labor continued but went off and on during that night, I labored and rested and took naps on the couch. Josh took naps on the couch too and ultimately went to sleep in the bed around 2 am. Jessica stayed up and ready at a moment’s notice to help encourage and coach me. Around 5 am, I told Jessica that I planned to just go to bed since things were still on and half. We agreed she should head home. I promised to text her and let her know if anything changed.

I woke up at around 7:30 am on Tuesday, December 6, huffed around the house, put on my walking shoes and walked up and down my street. I was partly crying, partly texting and calling the few friends who knew what was going on. I had never heard about this happening where things were rolling along so much like they should and then came to an abrupt halt. I had more contractions mid morning and texted my boss to tell him that I wasn’t going to make it to the faculty meetings because I was having a baby! Little did I know, she wouldn’t be arriving until ten days later.

Introducing: Beatrice Lynne

January 3, 2017

We had a baby! I’ll hopefully be sharing more about her birth story as I have time to piece it together. I’m happy to introduce her to this blog and to share a little bit about her name.

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Beatrice Dobbs Carter

If you’ve known me (Sabrena) for a while, you may have known my beautiful grandmother Beatrice Carter. We always called her Grandma Bea. She was my father’s mother and one of the most gentle, loving and faithful women I’ve ever encountered. She loved her family well. She trusted and loved Jesus even in the face of immensely challenging circumstances. The summer after Josh and I were first married, she left all suffering here and went to be with the Lord. We chose to name our baby Beatrice in honor of her great-grandmother.

 

 

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The Bettys

One of the things we loved about choosing Beatrice as her first name was that it gave us the opportunity to honor another beloved family matriarch at the same time. Josh’s Memaw, his mother’s mother, is named Betty. As it turns out, Betty is sometimes used as a nickname for women named Beatrice (mostly in Latin countries but whatever). Memaw is one of the sweetest, most generous, and patient women you can imagine. She too has faced painful and heartbreaking days but still carries the sweet joy of knowing God’s goodness deep in her heart. We chose Beatrice because it gives us the flexibility to also call her Betty. We cherished being able to introduce our baby Betty to the grown up Betty on Christmas day.

 

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The Lynne Namesakes

 

Beatrice’s middle name is also connected to more family members! Lynne is a triple connection to the Carter side. My sister’s middle name is Lynn(without an e), my mother’s name is Linda (but my dad only calls her Lin) and my dad’s given middle name was Lynn. We left it up to the Boo Boo (sister Rebecca) how to spell it and she chose Lynne. It makes me think of Anne with an e and I kind of like that part too.

 

 

So, what do we call her? We call her all kinds of things. While we awaited her arrival, we most commonly called her BeBea. We pronounced this like bee bee but spell it in a way that would represent both of the women above. We sometimes call her Baby Betty, Bea, Beatrice and Nana (our favorite team tiny human tag team partner) calls her Nugget.

We can hardly believe that she’s here and are working on getting used to being responsible for a very beautiful, needy little love bug.

 

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Photo by Paige French Photography

 

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Photo by Paige French Photography

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Photo by Paige French Photography

Life Before Kids

December 6, 2016

I once sat across from new friends and asked what they used to do before they had children. It took them several moments to respond. I’ve thought about that and wanted to write down a few things to reflect on if/when that moment comes around and we’re on the other end!

Things we did before we had any children…
Traveled – a lot!
Saw movies the weekend they opened (mostly Marvel movies)
Wandered around Target
Went out for drinks and dessert
Toured breweries
Had TV show marathons
Stayed up pretty late and slept in pretty late
Stayed in bed snuggling with Charlie
Took really long baths (S)
Ready entire books in a matter of hours (S)
Browsed a lot of discount stores (J)
Watched wrestling shows live (J)
Slowly got ready in the mornings
Left the dishes until the next day
Went to the dog park about once a week or more
Went on walks at the UGA intramural fields

I’m sure there are more and that not all of them will change but it’s a nice little reminder nonetheless.

34 Weeks with Baby Deal

November 6, 2016
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We joined friends for a quick overnight camping trip to Watsons Mill Bridge State Park. It was perfect and helped us check something off our baby bucket list!

How Far Along: 34 Weeks (as of tomorrow)

Size of baby: Pineapple

Total Weight Gain/Loss: 23 lbs

Maternity Clothes: Because Georgia weather is struggling, I have maintained most of my summer wardrobe. We hit mid 80’s three days last week. I am looking forward to snuggling in some long sleeve shirts/sweaters that I’ve been collecting. I’m glad that I only have three weeks of work left because then I won’t have to worry as much about what I’m wearing, lol.

Gender: She’s a girl!

Movement: This girl loves loud noises and music! She does a lot of wiggling, and I imagine it to look like pop and locking in the womb (youtube that if you aren’t familiar). Josh enjoys feeling her and is usually surprised at how strong the feelings are! She moves most around 2 pm – 6:30 pm and is very quiet in the mornings. I would be okay if things stayed that way.

Sleep: I am waking up between 2 and 3 times a night to go to the bathroom. I’m aware when it’s happening but I usually fall back asleep easily. We went camping last weekend, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be with this factor! We did haul our double height queen size air mattress into our 4 man tent. It was definitely worth it. Occasionally, I will have a hard time going back to sleep and will stay up for another 45 minutes.

Miss anything? I miss laying on my stomach. I miss my shoes (none of them fit anymore because I have the slightest bit of swelling). I miss mixed drinks.

Cravings: We have been all about bread lately! I could eat my weight in donuts and croissants.

Symptoms: I’ve had to take off my rings because my fingers were swelling. I’ve also given up on all shoes except my chacos for the same reason. My legs will ache a lot if I don’t rest enough. Nothing too bad, though. My SI joint will sometimes get a little out of whack if I am not careful about moving around every so often.

Looking forward to: Seeing her face for the first time.

Best Moment this week: Being thrown a baby shower! It was incredible to be supported and surrounded by women from this community (and the one I was able to have in Lynchburg) who gave so generously to celebrate this life!

Labor signs: Definitely feeling my muscles loosening, feeling more pressure in my hips!

Reunited – Foster Care Thoughts

September 14, 2016

 

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This is a photo from when I taught them how to lick the brownie batter off the mixers. I have to say, I’m pretty proud to have done it.

 

I just got a Facetime call from our Janie and Jordan. It’s not unusual for them to call, though it has happened less frequently since school started. What was unusual is that it was Jordan calling. I hadn’t spoken with him since August. He shared with me the most exciting news…Mom has moved back home! He told me with pride and a big toothless grin (he’s lost two teeth since he lived here). After five months of separation and supervised visits, she’s back with her children.

He handed his phone to his mom who was a completely transformed person. When I had seen her last, she seemed like a shell of a woman. Devoid of smile or personality. She seemed lost, alone, and hopeless. This version of mom smiled and told me how Jordan asked specifically if he could call his Foster Mom because it had, “been too long” since he’d talked to me. She thanked me for loving her children well and for taking such good care of them. She asked how I was feeling with the baby and told me that she hopes many good things come to our family. I got to tell her how happy I am that she can return home to them and to affirm how wonderful her kids are and how much we loved being able to be a part of their lives.

When Janie and Jordan went home, I mourned the loss of my title as a Foster Mom. It had quickly become such an important mantle to me. The fact that Jordan still calls me his Foster Mom (Janie refers to us as Sabrena and Josh) is so sweet to my heart. Having any lasting role in their lives is an absolute privilege.

These conversations are unusual in the larger scheme of foster care. The fact that we stay in touch with our foster kids, that their parents support this contact, is unusual. The fact that older children have a positive association with us and care to continue to talk to us even though a desire to completely “erase” this period of their life would be developmentally normal, is unusual. It’s the work of Jesus, and there isn’t anything else that can be said about it. When lightness shines into the dark and warmth spreads were desperation lives, it’s the transformative power of the gospel. Jesus died to bring this warmth. He offers it to me freely. I am so grateful for his gift and so humbled that our family can be used to share this light with others.

Janie and Jordan’s family is still not completely reunited. Baby brother has not been returned to his family. I have no new information about this, but I can tell you that they feel his absence every day. I can tell you that it has to be a heavy burden on mom and dad to be home together but not completely reunited. Will you continue to pray with me for this family? Pray that their case would not be bogged down in logistical difficulties. Pray that they would be able to continue to work their case plan and that things would not be slowed down arbitrarily. Thank you for sharing this burden with us over these past months!