Norah’s Birth Story {with Mini Photo Shoot}

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She’s here!

Norah Belle Payson

Born: May 23, 2013 at 4:42 PM

9.8 pounds, 20 inches long

I can’t believe how in love with her I am already! Her sweet baby fat cheeks, soft dark silky head, tiny wrinkled hands and feet…they all make my heart melt.

And while it’s all still fresh in my mind and I’m still on bedrest, I thought I’d write down her story…beautiful and messy! This I will one day transfer to her baby book in which I am woefully behind still working on baby #3’s! For now it can rest here in all it’s details waiting along with some beautiful pictures that we captured impromptu during a brief reprieve between late spring thunder showers.

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My pregnancy with Norah was much more complicated than my other pregnancies. I was now in the “high risk” category of pregnancy due to my age and the fact that she was baby #7 for me. At first it didn’t seem high risk to me. The pregnancy developed normally…severally nauseous, craving protein and salty foods, fatigued, etc. Everything appeared normal and beautiful at her 20 week ultrasound and we were thrilled to find her a sweet baby girl to shower with love. It wasn’t until 27 weeks drinking that awful orange syrupy sugar drink that things started to change. The doctor measured my tummy. “Uh oh,” is NOT what you ever want to hear come out of your doctor’s mouth. “Let me measure that again…oh no.” Ummmm…should I be scared?

She said our baby was measuring WAY too big for this stage of pregnancy. She said it could be due to any number of things but she wanted an ultrasound to check her out right away. She wanted to know how big the baby was and how much amniotic fluid I had. I went home in shock and told my husband. Then I did as any normal 21st century pregnant women does and googled it. Too big a baby probably meant gestational diabetes and too much amniotic fluid could mean complicated medical names that brought high risks of bleeding and brain damage to the baby. Panic set in. I prayed and then decided to get information instead of worry. I figured it would most likely be gestational diabetes so I researched like crazy and then went back a day later for my ultrasound.

Yes, I had failed my diabetes test. Yes, my baby was too big, but still within normal limits. Yes, I had too much amniotic fluid but, again, within normal limits. So I set up the big diabetes test and went home determined to change my diet. Went back a week later for the more extensive diabetes test, sure this was what it was. But, to everyone’s shock, my test came back completely negative for diabetes. So much so that I passed all 4 tests with flying colors. So no diabetes. I just assumed everything would resume normally.

Not the case. Norah seemed to be getting bigger despite not having diabetes and they didn’t know why. After another ultrasound the amniotic fluid was still high and the doctor was worried about this little girl being an over-10-pounder and having shoulder dystocia. I remember lying back on the table and trying to make a joke but my doctor just seemed worried and started talking C-sections. Her words started sinking in on the drive back home. Maybe this wouldn’t be an easy labor and delivery like all my other six. Tears started coming as I started praying. Adam and I talked, worried, then researched again. We looked up everything we could on shoulder dystocia, C-sections, and recovery of C-sections. We talked with as many women as we could about their birth stories. After that we both felt a solid peace about the decision to NOT have a C-section but to try natural measures of breaking my water (I would have to be induced a week early no matter what to compensate for her large birth weight) and see how it went. We weren’t against C-sections in general, more against the recovery of a C-section for me with having to still care for 6 kids right as Adam went into his summer camp schedule at work.

During the last month we also dealt with high blood pressure and excessive edema. The doctor was now worried about pre-eclampsia. I was tested often and put on strict bed rest. No protein in my urine equaled no pre-eclampsia but the swelling got worse. I felt like a tick ready to pop before I went to the hospital and my bones hurt, especially my hands, with an arthritic sort of pain from the pressure of the swelling. The high blood pressure was making it hard to sleep at night due to a racing heart and trouble breathing when laying down. Still, I felt a peace about her birth. I had given it to God and, especially due to the throbbing pain in my hip bones and odd angle they were at, felt He was doing His own magic in helping my body open in just the right way to help her come out unharmed.

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We went in for an induction on a spring Thursday morning, May 23rd. The plan was to break my water at 8:30 and see where that took me. Unfortunately, my water was unable to be broken. I was still 3 centimeters, 60% effaced and she hadn’t moved down at all. The doctor could not get under my cervix to break the membranes. She tried and tried and after much pain on my part said we’d have to start pitocen in order to move her down so we could reach the cervix. I was disappointed. I’d done pitocen before and had a very bad experience with it. This was not my plan. Surprisingly, though, the pitocen wasn’t an issue. They started the drip at level 2 and by 12:30 I was up to level 20. I could handle the contractions just fine with breathing even though they showed them as pretty strong contractions on the monitor. My husband and the nurse were impressed. We had a leisurely morning of good conversation between contractions and the nurse even let me eat a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits, and milk.

When the doctor came back at 12:30 to break my water I thought we were in the home stretch. Unfortunately I had only dilated another centimeter and was still only 60% effaced with her blocking the cervix. The doctor worked on breaking my water about 6 times (OH the pain in this! Where oh where was my epidural now?) and only managed to get a tiny tear in the membranes with only a bit of fluid leaking out because her head was in the way. I was assured that this was enough to kick start active labor. And my doctor was right. Immediately the contractions came on strong and sure and painful. Due to my previous fast deliveries, we got anesthesia up there by 1 pm and by 1:30 I had a wonderful epidural that warmed me down to my feet in a blanket of coziness. I dozed on and off for a few hours while Adam read a book on the couch. Every once in a while I would glance over at the monitor and see those contractions getting closer and closer together and peak way off the charts. I would smile and doze off again allowing my body to labor while I rested.

Around 3:30 they checked me and I was 10 centimeters but still Norah had not dropped down where she needed to be. The doctor said she was stuck under my pelvic bone so we would allow me to labor another hour to help her move down so pushing wouldn’t be so complicated. At 4:30 I was checked and she STILL had not moved down even a little bit. The doctor was super worried about me pushing and the complications that would bring on but it was now or never. We set up everything and I pushed 2 times during one contraction and 3 times during the next contraction and she just slipped right out. It was amazing. I was so proud of my aching birthing hips that had turned so outward in order to easily allow my body to do it’s job. The doctor was amazed and everyone was excited to set this fat, white, gooey baby girl on a scale to find out her weight, which was exactly where the doctor predicted it would be. She was here, safe, beautiful and completely healthy!

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Recovery has been more painful than ever. Seven babies takes it’s toll. Trying to get to the bathroom in the hospital was excruciating and I remember the nurse saying as she helped me, “Oh honey, you need some medication.” It was then I received Percocet and within an hour my body sighed with relief. Painful still, but normal pain. Recovery was still more than I bargained for. I had horrible gas pains throughout my abdomen and chest that didn’t subside until a day or two after I was home. I thought maybe it was a side effect of the meds so I tried going without but the gas didn’t go away and I really needed those meds!

The excessive swelling and high blood pressure has also not subsided. The doctor warned it would get worse before it got better and she was right. The main thing I was suppose to keep checking was pain in my calves (sign of a DVT leg blood clot) and an excessive headache (signs of post-eclampsia). Imagine my surprise when just a week after giving birth I awoke at 1:00 in the morning with both of these symptoms. After my level-headed husband convinced me to get a bit more sleep before getting it checked out at the ER, he took off work the next morning to take me. I had blood tests done, urine samples studied, and an ultrasound on both legs. The good news was no blood clots in my legs, no post-eclampsia, no postpartum cardiomyopathy. The bad news…I will just have to deal with the swelling, which is causing both the pain and high blood pressure, until it goes away on it’s own which could take up to six weeks. In the meantime, more fluids and put my feet up. Easier said than done with six littles running around!

My family has been so great about helping out, though. The oldest two children stepped up their chores as well as helping out with breakfasts and lunches. Our house is a mess (you don’t even want to see the upstairs bedrooms since I’ve been on bedrest for over a month and am not suppose to be going upstairs – although I get the picture as I hear hubby’s roaring voice as he goes up for goodnight tuck-in’s!) and I want to rip our carpet out right now it is so full of stains. But that is okay. I’m trying to make peace with it as God continues to call me to rest in Him and physically rest and enjoy this new tiny presence that may be our last.

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I can see what they say about spoiling your last baby. Since we are not planning for more (this one was more than my 38 year old body could handle),  Nora Belle will forever be the baby of the family. I find myself relishing the little moments more…breastfeeding, cuddling, kissing her soft velvet head, staring at her as she sleeps…because this will most likely be the last time I experience it. The thought makes me sad and happy all at the same time. The thought of being pregnant again is not appealing in the least. But these last 12 years have been a season in my life that compares to no other. I watch my oldest son getting bigger by the day (he’s eating like a trucker!) and I keep thinking how little time I have left with him before he’ll be gone from our house. It’s making me re-evaluate how I want this next school year to go. I want this year’s focus to be about building relationships. I want to look back on my time with my children and spend that time cherishing the memories, not wasting my time wallowing in regrets. I want to live by one of my favorite quotes!

Many people have said to me, “What a pity you had such a big family to raise. Think of the novels and short stories and the poems you never had time to write because of that.” And I looked at my children and I said, “These are my poems, These are my short stories.” ~Olga Masters

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Baby Photo Shoot

I just love taking baby pictures. I first became obsessed with my own first little one (don’t we all?) and then the obsession grew as my photography skills grew. Now I’m so honored that I can be the one to take a fantastic photo shoot free for a friend that might otherwise never be able to afford those adorable professional portraits.

So without further ado, I present you Samuel and all his soft new little parts.

 

Living Liturgically Through Nature

 

Some days you wake up overwhelmed and all you see is the mountain in front of you that seems impossible to climb. Sometimes you just can’t get past the next thing that needs to be done because the list seems endless. Nothing stays clean or orderly and life is messy. But sometimes you wake up on a morning like this and are thankful that the ice in your driveway won’t allow you to make it into church.

The kids will be missing the Walk Through Bethlehem, of which I was really hoping we could attend. I think the experience of them being able to time travel back to the city where Jesus was born and experience what that would be like in a very tactile and real way would be such a valuable experience and memory. Instead we were blessed with snow. And in this season of life we are blessed to live in the country. I knew when the sun peeked out that I just had to take advantage of the light and grab my camera for a morning walk. Full of warm carrot muffins and hot coffee, I headed out breathing deep the chill in the air.

There was no need for a temple house of worship this morning. Sabbath was made for man, not man for sabbath. This morning my worship came in being still.

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.” ~ Psalm 46:10

I didn’t have to sing. I didn’t have to read. His creation was my liturgy and I sank deep in it’s beauty. There is the deep sustenance – bread of life – that we are to drink from daily but that never negates the beauty in the fleeting. Sometimes we just need to stop, even when chores beckon, and be a Mary and sit at the feet of His creation. After all, this was for His and our pleasure. How can we enjoy if we don’t stop to even pay attention? Soon cars will spray fumes of gray across the white and sun will melt the soft powder. Crystals that shine brighter than any diamond will fade into the dreary background of life. But here, for this moment only, it is perfect.

As I walked all was silent and I heard the birds trilling praise up towards blue sky. I heard the sound of water softly running in the neighboring river. The only other sound was the crunch of snow beneath my feet. The only sounds of life around me where the fading memories of deer in footprints. Even the grass was silent, heavy with the weight of snow.

Be still and know that I am God. 

This verse whispered over and over in my head and through my heart. Oh thank you for this day. Oh thank you that you gave me eyes to see beyond the ordinary. Thank you that my soul longs to translate this perfection into art to share with others. There is no greater muse than You!!!