Monday, July 19, 2021

Opal Nadine

 Opal Nadine was born on Sunday, January 24, at 2:17 AM.  She weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces, and was 20 inches long.  She was born with lots of dark hair and super chubby cheeks!

Opal is named after two of her great grandmas.  Paul's mom's mom was Catherine Opal Sawyer (went by Cathy), and Paul's dad's mom was Nadine Rhodes.  
(My grandma - dad's mom - has her birthday on January 23 - had Opal decided not to take a break from arriving, she would have shared her birthday.)

Opal Nadine means "Jewel of Hope."  Once I found out the meaning of the name, I would consider no other names.  (Paul wasn't so sure, but after him choosing 5 names, I put my foot down!)

Despite having extensive monitoring (at least so it seemed to me) because of the elevated heart rate, Opal seemed ready to reassure us that she had no problems, and no intent to hurry out.  The Monday and Tuesday before she was born, she was pressing so far down that I got hemorrhoids.  Then at my weekly checkup on Wednesday she had retreated so far up that my doctor couldn't even feel her head.

My due date was on a Friday.  On the day before, I went in for my twice-weekly 20 minutes of monitoring, and everything was fine (as it had been ever since that one day when her heart rate was elevated).  Paul and I went home and looked at the weather, and decided to take the kids to the lake - in January!  The forecast was to be in the 70s, sunny, with no wind - a veritable unicorn in days of Kansas weather!

So we took the kids to Pomona lake to run around.  They scoured a stretch of the river at the spillway looking for abandoned fishing lures, then we took them to the playground and they played for a couple of hours while different parties hiked the nature trails.  I walked the loop twice, hoping to help the baby shake down and get into position.  No luck.  

Friday came and went, and I started to get impatient.  It was the combination of NEVER having been overdue, and everyone's assurance, "Oh you're not going to make it to your due date."  Well.  I did.

When Saturday dawned, and still no action, Paul announced to the kids that he was taking me to town for a walk.  (Not that he had any ulterior motives of wanting to do some gun shopping.)  Apparently the baby realized he meant business, and I had a couple light contractions in the truck!  We started at First Street, and hit every pawn shop and antique shop between there and Gun Guys in the 4th block, and I had a few more, including some stronger ones.  We walked back to the truck, and then hit the Orscheln gun desk on the way home, where Baby decided to give us a few more contractions.  We could tell things were getting started, so we picked up some Walmart pizzas to cook at home.  Paul called grandparents as we headed home, to arrange for accommodations for the children.

Since contractions weren't close together or super strong, I decided to have a bite to eat.  I ate a half a slice of pizza, and about 5 fried pickles - and regretted it for the next many hours!  HEARTBURN.

With the children gone, Paul and I watched some TV, and I settled in to time my contractions.  They were still irregular in strength and timing.  (You would have thought I would have related this to Elsa's birth and figured out what was going on.)  Then at about 9 o'clock, contractions started to be lighter and farther apart.  So I decided to go take a nap.  As I lay there, I felt some kicks around the front of my belly.  Then I DID remember Elsa's birth!  Babies should be face down when they are born, which means I shouldn't be able to feel kicks out front.  So I got up on my hands and knees for several minutes (a trick two OB nurses told me about when I was at an event and we were talking about birth stories).  Contractions stopped for about an hour.  Then at 11, I woke up to a strong one.  Then about 10 minutes later, another strong one.  I got up and told Paul that even though they weren't 5 minutes apart yet (the marker for when to go to the hospital), I knew this was it, and we should go since we had nothing else to do.

Oh yeah - remember that little thing back in 2020, called Covid-19?  Yeah, it was still going on.  So when we walked into the hospital, we had to wear masks.  So imagine contractions, feeling hot all over, pain taking your breath away - and having to wear a mask through it.  We got checked in at about 12:30 and got upstairs.  I changed and they checked me, and.... "Oh, you're at a 4.  "  WHAT?  THAT'S IT???  (Full dilation and baby coming out is 10).  Thankfully, no one said anything about masks once we were in the room, and Paul and I both shed ours.

Maybe I'd forgotten, maybe I've become a pansy in my old age (I'm 38), or maybe the contractions really were a lot worse.  I had heartburn and felt like I was going to vomit the whole time.  For the first time, my water broke during labor.  I had a big contraction and then felt (and I swear, heard) a pop! and then a splash as fluid hit the floor.  Paul was very surprised, as this was new - I'm sure after 5 births, we both were pretty confident in the order of events.  Dr. Sinclair showed up shortly after, which surprised me, because 4 cm dilated is not very far along in the scheme of things (you can be walking around at a 3).  But it's a good thing she did!

After talking to me, Dr. Sinclair went out to the hallway, and I had a contraction that felt like it was tearing me in two.  Only 45 minutes after their initial check, I was now at an 8.  The staff started setting everything up.  Another contraction, and I felt the head coming down.  The crew started racing to get everything in place, and Dr. Sinclair said, "Don't push, don't push!"  When everything was ready, I pushed once, and felt the head come out.  The doctor said, "Don't push again, let God do the work."  She explained to me afterwards that when a baby comes that fast, your body can't stretch and you are more likely to have a bad tear.

As I felt the rest of the baby pass through, Dr. Sinclair told Paul to come to the foot of the bed.  "I'm going to turn the baby over,"  [remember they are born face down] she said, "I want you to be the first to see and announce it."  Paul looked and kissed my forehead as they put the baby onto my chest.  You have dark haired baby girl!" he announced.  Dr. Sinclair made Paul cut the cord for only the second time since Nathan's birth.

Things have changed a bit in the 5 years since Elsa was born.  The staff had me strip down and lay the naked baby on my chest and covered us both with a blanket.  They urged me to try breastfeeding as soon as everything was cleaned up and the bed was put back together.  They didn't even weigh her until several hours after birth - she had already pooped!

Meeting Daddy

Babies also never leave their mother's room now.  So even 24 hours later, when I hadn't done more than have a couple of naps.  Paul had gone home, and true to form for every other baby I've had, Opal only wanted to sleep in my arms.  I ignored the signs hanging on all the walls, put the sides up on the bed, and laid her next to me so I could get some sleep.  When even this wasn't enough, one of the nurses came in and tried all of their tricks to get Opal to sleep (warm blankets, swaddling, patting, nest), and I finally fell asleep to the nurse walking back and forth across the length of the room with the baby.

Watching the Chiefs/Bills playoff game

Look at that hair!  

Ready to head home

Asleep at home in her Boppy

  Disclaimer:  My skills of blogging are lax.  I hope my grammar and spelling are correct, but I have no brain cells to spare for formatting and photo editing.  Enjoy the story and try to understand. :) 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

How Did We Get Here?

 Remember this post?

Well, it still holds true.  And we still weren't wanting more than 5 kids.  

Last spring, Paul and I had the sit-down discussion of "are we done?"  Elsa had just turned 4.  We would be starting school (preschool) with her in the fall, so all of our kids would be in school at home.  I felt like we had settled into knowing what to expect each day, and going out in public or for a vacation wasn't as overwhelming since the kids were old enough to manage themselves in and out of the car, and control their emotions (usually).

We still were convicted that it is not our right to take away God's right to manage our fertility, but we were careful to do what was in our power to manage, and felt happy in the size of family God had given us.

So we decided we were done.  Not that having another baby was outside the realm of possibility, but we thought there's no reason to hang onto baby equipment and clothes when someone else could be using it.  IF we ended up having another baby, we'd find what we needed at that time. 

So we packed it up, had a garage sale, and took stuff to LifeCare (local pregnancy resource center).

And the following week, I found out I was pregnant.

I should have started my period the Monday after the garage sale.  By Wednesday I had grown suspicious.  On Friday I bought a pregnancy test.  I took it on Sunday, and then by some miracle of God's design - all the kids were away at other houses, and I had a chance to tell Paul in an empty house.  

For the first time, I was able to surprise him with pregnancy news.  And I cried.

Not because I was disappointed - there is nothing bad about a baby coming to a couple who loves each other deeply - but because I remembered what it had been like last time I had a baby.  Debilitating lack of energy during pregnancy, and how a new baby disrupts absolutely every aspect of life, especially home schooling - and the previous year of homeschooling had been tenuous at best.  (Honestly, I had looked up how to enroll kids in public school in December.)  I was 5 years older (almost to turn 38 at that point), and 30 pounds heavier, and completely out of shape.  All these reasons pregnancy was going to be completely inconvenient and uncomfortable!

But I remembered that verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9 - But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Nothing happens outside of God's plan.  This was God's plan.  I would make it through.

And I did!

As it was, this pregnancy didn't seem to be as hard on me physically.  Partly because I'd had my veins fixed after Elsa, so I didn't have the throbbing heavy legs daily.  (I didn't wear the stockings this time, but I did wear knee high compression socks daily.)  We bought a Bowflex Max 6 (basically like an elliptical stairstepper) in June when it was massively on sale, and I did well about using it several times a week until late fall.  I only gained 20 lbs. total.  And homeschooling all 5 was less stress than 4 the previous year.  (Elsa's fantastic cheerful attitude about school every day made all the difference!)

We did have to get all new (new to us) baby stuff, but the awesome thing about that is we were able to evaluate every piece and ask if we really needed it.  Baby swing?  Hadn't done much for 5, so we could presume it wouldn't for a sixth.  Boppy pillow?  Absolutely essential!  

We debated finding out the gender, but decided to keep this surprise a surprise.  (Besides, it kept me from collecting those absolutely adorable outfits they had out at Christmas time!)

When January rolled around, I went to Carter's and bought one girl jammies, one boy jammies, and two neutral jammies.  I procrastinated, but finally packed a bag for the hospital the week I was due.  

The baby gave us a bit of a ..... not really scare, but concern?  confusion?.... three weeks before my due date.  I went in to my normal appointment, and the baby's heart beat was in the 190s.  (Normal is 120-150.)  After several minutes, the heart rate was still up, so my doctor sent me over to the hospital to do a fetal non-stress test (put monitors on my belly and record the baby's heartbeat, usually for 20 minutes).  This crazy baby!  It was rolling and flipping the entire time and its heartbeat never went below 160 for 4 hours!  The monitors showed I was having contractions (even though I couldn't feel them), so they gave me fluids and I ended up being in the hospital all day.  (Which was not a bad thing, since Paul was home.  Although two children started throwing up with a stomach bug that plagued us all week!)

All the monitoring was for nothing, because all returned to normal after the baby finally took a nap.  My doctor wanted me to be monitored twice weekly and have weekly sonograms until my due date, but we had no other problems after that one crazy day.  We just had to wait.......

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

"Mom, when are you going to write Opal's book?"


I've heard this several times in the last week. The books referred to are bound printed copies of all my blog that contain stories and tidbits of my kids' lives. 

Who's Opal, you ask? That's a long story, and it's a good one. 

Check back soon.