Life with Four

Things I don't want to forget:

The fourth kid does not guarantee calm and cool parents. I fought against the inner fears but they still hung around the first few weeks. I worried about his eyes not focusing (based off an offhand comment from the pediatrician at the hospital... she didn't mean to worry me, I'm sure, but I heard it and it stuck in my head) and about bumps I felt on his head (lymph nodes, I later learned). I constantly watched to see if he preferred one side when turning his head. Of course, I also worried that he wasn't eating enough. He cluster fed like crazy the first two days before my milk came in and his latch wasn't quite right yet so I ended up with a blister. Thankfully, I was able to get a shield to protect it and let it heal and he had no problem latching with that. After two weeks of using it, his latch was perfect and I was healed with no pain during nursing sessions. With Amelia, it took up to six weeks before I realized it never hurt, so this was wonderful.

I can't remember how to get him to sleep at night. I've successfully got three babies to sleep at night, laying them down awake but sleepy, not nursing them to sleep. Yet this time, I find myself wondering, "how do I do this again?"

The girls have all reacted and adjusted differently. Josie is surprisingly motherly. She's been my go to girl when he starts fussing and I'm in the middle of something. She gently puts his pacifier back in, will sing to him (It works! It's amazing!) and does some pretty crazy stunts to distract him. Audrey will happily give him a hug or kiss if prompted and has held him a few times (the sweetest!) but she generally acts indifferent to him. She will, however, push his stroller every chance she gets. I'll give her that. Amelia is a fan. She was excited in anticipation of his birth and it didn't go away after he was born like I feared it would. She demands to hold him (that lasts about seconds before she says that she's done) and sometimes sings "Dennett Dennett you otay" to him in the car when he cries. It's the sweetest thing! She insisted on calling him Dennett or Be-dennett the first month or so even after she figured out that it wasn't right. It didn't help that we all laughed every time she said it. She randomly tells him that she loves him and I melt each time. It's adorable of course.

We've had some pretty chaotic days. Consecutive days, where we thought we were all going crazy. Bennett prefers to eat when we are all ready to eat, so many meals have been spent with everyone eating except me, only to find me wandering around looking for something to eat after they are all in bed. I've been known to lovingly shove the kids outside for large chunks of the day which helps a lot. Thankfully, Amelia has been much better about playing with her big sisters out there without me right by her side. It was worth the practice rounds we did while I was still pregnant. Hubby has stepped up his game and can get all three girls fed and ready for whatever activity is next leaving me to just take care of Bennett and myself. It's not perfect but we manage and it's getting easier every time.

On that note, though, there has been a shift in attitudes. Amelia is no longer the baby sister. She's become one of the big kids and they treat her as such. They don't willingly help her unless asked and she doesn't even want to be helped because, well, she's two. She pushes their buttons with incredible purpose and she's good at it. She knows it's not worth it to pull Josie's hair because she'll just laugh, but Audrey will lose her mind over it every time. She knows to take out bookmarks or move around toys that Josie perfectly arranged and that sets Jo over the edge. Audrey, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be bothered by that. She also walks around bopping on the heads (reminds me of the song Little Bunny Foo Foo) just for fun. I'd say she's definitely scrappy. Both of the older two take turns being her best friend which then leaves one of them out. It's a learning process.

We took the kids to Bismarck for a wedding when Bennett was a mere two weeks old. He did amazing. It was a great trip. He slept the whole way there and back, the kids danced and played at the wedding with minimal whining and mischief, and we got to enjoy time with family we don't see often enough.

He doesn't love the carseat when in the car. He screams about 50% of the time because his pacifier falls out and nobody can help or reach him. Not ideal. I cannot wait until he can put that thing in himself. He's so great when he has it, and I do think it's worth it but he has no idea how to hold it in his mouth himself. Gahh! Also, he just loves movement. He sleeps great in the little swing we pulled out of the shed (the one that none of the girls liked and we almost gave away) and will sleep fairly well when being pushed around in the stroller, but he wakes up almost immediately when stopped. It's not my favorite.

Part two coming some day...


Bennett Owen's birth story

While I doubt he'll want to know the details of his birth when he's older, I still feel compelled to write out his birth story like I did for his sisters. I suppose I should start about two weeks before his due date. 

On Wednesday, I went in with the girls along for the ride (almost always, it's just what we do). So far, nothing had been alarming and the appointments were fairly quick. This time, though, my blood pressure was elevated and it wouldn't come down. I also had protein in my urine test which meant I had to do a more intense version, the 24 hour test, at home to make sure there wasn't anything wrong. I spent the next day collecting everything that would normally go into the toilet in a large jug. It was not fun. 

On Friday, two days since my last appointment, I brought my urine jug to the hospital clinic (farther away, much busier, and generally more expensive after going through insurance). I expected to be in and out, but my blood pressure was even higher (around 160/70) and wasn't coming down. My midwife was fairly alarmed by all of this so she admitted me to the OB floor on the hospital side. I had Audrey (4 years old) and Amelia (just barely 2 years old) with me and they were pretty wide eyed the whole time. I'm sure seeing mom suddenly in a hospital gown laying in bed is pretty crazy from their perspective. Thankfully, my parents were coming to town to bring back Josie, so they were able to swing by and pick them up while I waited. Trying to keep them entertained and calm while laying in a bed was not ideal. I had not brought in an extra diaper for Amelia (it was in the car but I couldn't go get it) and only had two books with and no food. 

After they left, I learned that I no longer had protein in my urine and that my resting blood pressure was better than when I had first come in. I was told I could go home as long as I rested as much as possible over the weekend. For sure, baby boy would be induced the following Wednesday (at 39 weeks) if not sooner based on the numbers they'd been seeing. I asked what all of these tests were indicating, and my midwife explained that protein in the urine means that something is stressing my body out. A higher blood pressure could lead to calcium deposits on my placenta. If there were enough of them, it could limit the blood supply going to baby. Spoiler: I asked if there were any visible deposits on my placenta after he was born and there weren't. No wonder he wasn't showing signs of stress even with these higher numbers. 

On Monday, I left the girls with a friend and headed back to the hospital/clinic. I was expecting to see the high BP numbers and be told that I'd be staying to have the baby, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to see a completely normal number. My midwife was happy to see that and said that I could go home and rest until Wednesday morning. This was such an answer to prayer because I had rescheduled my piano recital from Wednesday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon, just barely avoiding canceling it. I really wanted to have it since the kids had worked hard all year and I knew I wouldn't see them again until the Fall.

Wednesday was pretty uneventful. As always, with extra fluid in my body (usually the case when I'm at this point in pregnancy), finding a good vein for the IV was challenging and the fancy nurse with a good reputation for getting IVs set up was able to it going in the worst place (my left arm, I'm left handed, right by the elbow which meant that every time I bent my arm it would set off alarms). My nurse, Amanda, was wonderful and so patient. She kept raising my pitocin levels until they were maxed out but all I felt was some discomfort. My body was basically rejecting the push to go into labor.

The midwife on call came in and said that we could either break my water now and push things along  more forcefully or call it quits until Thursday morning, give my body a chance to rest, and do another step that would soften my cervix a bit more. She ended up going with option two, so I settled in for a boring night sleeping in that uncomfortable hospital bed, most definitely not in labor.

On Thursday, after a somewhat decent night of sleep and some stronger contractions from the meds to get my cervix softer, I was pleased to hear I was a little farther along. Now remember, I  had never progressed quickly until I got an epidural and then I'd go from a 3 or 4 to a 10 in just an hour or two. I was happy going from a 1.5 to a 2.5 overnight. Once the pitocin started, the contractions got intense quickly. My nurse (same one, which was awesome!) showed no mercy on me and said at one point that she wanted to see the pain level in my face. Ha! The midwife chose to break my water just an hour later and she gave me the okay to get an epidural anytime after that. At 11;15, I was more than ready. I had no illusions that it was worth trying to have a natural birth since my body was not picking up the labor on it's own.

With Josie and Audrey, a nerve was hit when the epidural was being put in and it was ridiculously painful. With Amelia, I was so tired and overwhelmed after being in labor for fourteen hours that I sobbed through most of it, fearing and anticipating that horrible pain. This time, I prepped the anesthesiologist with these details. This guy was a character. He was from an Eastern European country and had a strong accent to show it. He meant serious business and came across direct and intimidating. My nurse had warned me that he was just like that, and I actually liked it. He was direct and to the point. This time, like with Josie, Mike got queasy and had to sit down, It ended up being a good distraction for me as I waited for it to be over.

The epidural was a little stronger on one side, but other than that it worked great. He warned me that it takes away pain but not pressure, and again, I preferred that. I wanted to be able to feel progression and know when to push. My nurse checked me often because of my history, but I wasn't progressing very quickly at all. After two hours, it was clear that this was going to go differently than the girls' labors so she told me to call her if I felt like pushing and gave us some time to rest.

I noticed that I felt that urge to push soon after that. It wasn't very strong but it was definitely there. When she checked me, I was only at 6 cm. Why was I feeling that urge to push? She decided to check me through a contraction and realized that he was sliding down really low but then going back up after it was done. Knowing this, I really doubted if I would know when it was time to truly push. Thankfully, after another hour and a half, I was at 9 cm. She said that basically I was there except for the last part of the lip of the cervix. She went to call the midwife since she could manually help with that part, but within seconds of her shutting the door it was very clear that everything was ready to go.

I have never felt an urge to push like that. I imagine that the epidural was not doing much because it was excruciating. The nurse came running in, begging me to wait for the midwife. She was on her way but it seemed to take an hour. I am sure it was less than five minutes, but I was losing it. She came in, got the gloves on, exclaimed about his thick head of hair (yes, he was already crowning, there was no slowing him down) and basically caught him on the next contraction. I remember her telling me to slow down, and I remember screaming that that was impossible. I guess she was turning him a little bit so his shoulders would come out smoother and cause less tearing, but it was intensely painful, the worst ring of fire of all four kids.

Once he was out, he was on my chest immediately and he stayed there while everything else continued on. I did bleed more than normal but thankfully it was nothing compared to Amelia's postpartum hemorrhage. I had so much more energy because labor had only been 8 1/2 hours with only 3 of them without an epidural.

Bennett was born at 4:30 PM weighing 8 lbs 9 oz. He was 20 1/2 inches long with beautiful pink coloring and a solid cry. The girls were very eager to come and meet him so my parents brought them over past their bedtime. It was completely worth it. They came all dressed in pretty dresses with cards for us parents and a present for him. Mike's mom was able to come too (the rest of his family had colds so they didn't come to the hospital). It was perfect.

The next morning, I got the good news that we could be discharged after his 24 hour tests. He didn't have any problems so we left the hospital at around 5:30 with a baby just barely 25 hours old. I still felt great, tired, but not as physically fatigued. I had been able to walk around and bathe the night he was born and the rest of the recovery was much less intense since I hadn't lost as much blood. It was refreshing and a huge relief since we were coming home to a house full with four kids. Four kids! It'll take a while to get used to that.

His official hospital photo, tongue out and all


Checking in

Are you ready to hear the saddest thing? I had Bennett's entire birth story (yes, he's born! He's here!) written up and it didn't save after the first paragraph. Finding the motivation and time to do it again hasn't been a priority, but I will do it soon. I'm determined to get it written down before I forget most of the details. In the meantime, here are a few pictures of our lovely little man, taken in the first few weeks. 


Baby #4

28 weeks! This pregnancy has felt like it's going in spurts. First, being so sick, it felt very slow and tedious. That passed and suddenly it seemed to jump ahead six weeks. Now, I'm in the third trimester and it seems as though I got here in a blink of an eye while also feeling like I've been pregnant (and will be) forever. 

Funny how it works like that, isn't it?

The baby is the size of a large eggplant. I jump between feeling huge and feeling like I am doing pretty good for this far along. See for yourself.

I've avoided getting injured in my lower back during the second trimester (which happened with all three pregnancies prior) and I also gained less weight by about five pounds. That surprised me because I'm generally not eating great. I just can't avoid those sweets/larger quantities when I'm in the second trimester. But low and behold, I've reached the third trimester and suddenly I can only eat about half the amount before I feel sick to my stomach. I usually only gain around five more pounds from this point on, assuming I go overdue. I'll take that! Less to lose later. (I should point out that while I have not been injured, I am definitely feeling the sciatic nerve pain that seems to be inevitable from this point on as well as braxton hicks already.)

Speaking of going into labor later, I'm fully expecting that I will this time too. At my appointment this week, I did measure bigger by about half a week, so hubby is wondering if that means I'll go into labor sooner as well. I don't know about that, but it is possible I guess. Audrey and Amelia always measured about a week behind, and Amelia ended up being my biggest baby (and the latest to come past her due date). Either this boy is generally bigger, or he's not as tucked in as the girls were in my torso. I'm guessing it's the latter. 

He's active, but not as much as I had initially thought he'd be when I first started feeling him move. There's a lot of movement from 7 PM to 8 AM and then I don't notice it much, mostly because I am moving around enough to likely keep him sleeping. There are times I notice it throughout the day, but it's nothing like the evenings, middle of the night, and when I wake up. 

The girls have all had the chance to feel him move, although I doubt they actually understood what they were feeling. Josie jumps at every chance, but she doesn't have the patience to wait for him to kick again and usually ends up saying a few things to him before moving on to whatever activity she abandoned, missing out on actually feeling anything.

I've had a few friends share what their life was like when their last baby was born and it seems like so many had kind of intense newborns/life adjustments. I feel like we went through that with Amelia, and I can't even imagine a kid more challenging than she was unless there is a disability to work around and learn about. It's totally possible, but I just doubt it will happen. First of all, I got through Amelia's challenging first year because I was way more laid back than I had been with the other two. Each kid has me more laid back than the last, so odds are good with this kiddo, right? I don't expect it to be a breeze, but I do feel confident that we will get through it and I'm hoping and praying I can enjoy the newborn and baby stages of this little guy and not just wish him to grow up.

I'm slowly running out of clothes to wear since most of my older maternity clothes are in rough shape and of course my regular clothes don't fit over the bump. I'm fine with rotating between four or five outfits though, because most days I'm just at home and who cares? 

It's way more fun to think about the baby's clothes. I have a few struggles when it comes to buying clothes for him:

1. First of all, Audrey, and even Amelia who was so big at birth, needed newborn clothes for a few weeks. If baby boy is similar, he'll need newborn clothes until around the beginning of June. I have maybe three pieces of newborn clothing, but I'm not as worried about that because if we need some I'm sure those around us will borrow some to us for those few weeks. 

2. What concerns me is that May/June is really not hot yet and then July/August is super hot. Those months will all work for 0-3 months. I feel like I have two separate wardrobes going on for the beginning. I really don't want to have more than we need, and then there is always the chance that he's huge and jumps to 3-6 months early. 

3. I have hand me downs for that size for now, but I just can't buy hardly anything for that first year until I have an idea what size he'll be and how he'll grow. My babies generally don't end up being bigger than average size, but who knows with this one? I am a planner and like to be on the ball with this stuff, but I'm stuck waiting until after he's here to do much of anything. It's driving me crazy.

4. Even if I was going to buy a bunch now, it's the wrong season. I really need to just wait a few more months and then start looking at what my options are. (I have no idea. How have I not noticed what boys wear in the summer before? Winter is no problem, but summer... I am drawing a blank.)

Anyways, these are minor problems to have and just gives me something to think about when I picture our summer. I still hope that we will be able to be outside a lot, go hiking, swimming, etc, just with a baby in tow this time. We had the best summer last year and I really believe that babies adapt and learn to love what they are introduced to early on. Amelia absolutely loved being outside that first year, and it ended up being my saving grace when she was so fussy and unpredictable. Now, she still adores being outside and does a great job sticking close by and exploring with her sisters.

Baby boy will just have to figure out our family culture, hopefully sooner than later!