Monthly Archives: August 2014

Jenna’s birth story

I can’t believe it’s taken 3 1/2 months, but I finally took the time to finish typing up my birth story. Steve even sent me his version (which he sent to me a week or so after Jenna was born) so I’ll post them both before it gets ridiculously long….

Steve’s version:

On Thursday evening, I came home from work and played with Caleb for a bit while Eve made dinner. I took him to the playground but a bee scared him and he wanted to go home. After we got back, we sat down to eat and asked my routine question to Candace of how she was feeling. I had been asking this question for two weeks and expected her normal response of “normal,” but she said she was having contractions. She was timing them on her phone and they were already around 5-7 minutes apart. I was surprised because during her first labor she could never decipher when the contractions were starting or stopping.

My mom had planned to watch Caleb while Eve, Candace and I went to the hospital. I tried to text my mom a “heads up” but I accidentally texted Eve instead (they’re both in my phone as mamma XX). When I realized my mistake an hour or so later I called my mom. She had driven a friend to a hospital in DC and was on her way back to Hagerstown. She offered to pick up Caleb on the way since she was close to the house but we were already getting him into bed. We changed plans and asked Eve to watch him when we went.

Candace continued to labor at home (mostly in our bedroom) while I sat downstairs and watched the NFL draft. Around 11 Eve came down and said that we should probably leave soon. I went to ask Candace  who finally gave in after not wanting to go to the hospital too early. We got dressed and packed the car and headed to Shady Grove Hospital.

At 2335 we checked  in at the front of the L&D ward we were taken back to triage. The exam (with a nurse that had been in the Army named Heather) revealed that Candace was already 7 cm. We were shocked since it took around 30 hours to get to that point with Caleb. Candace asked me to text the birth photographer. I told her I didn’t think she’d make it in time but Candace told me it would be at least three more hours since she probably wouldn’t advance faster than 1 cm per hour.

Once we got to the labor room I mentioned to the nurses that we were storing stem cells and that  I would get the kit after we were settled. She “highly advised” that I go get it immediately since the baby was coming sooner rather than later. I ran to the car (literally) and grabbed the collection kit. I was in such a rush that I dropped it but it seemed ok.

I got back to the room and the nurses were calling for the doctor. They were having trouble locating him even though he was in the hospital. At this time Candace was having what seemed to be more painful contractions and I offered her my hand to squeeze. She was starting to yell through the contractions. I grimaced because I don’t like seeing her in pain but she thought she had hurt me and apologized. I told her my hand was fine but she keeps chiding me about it!

At about 1:00 we were laughing about Jenna being born close to the same time as Caleb. The nurse asked when he was born (1:08) and she said we might make it at the same time. I couldn’t believe it since Candace pushed for an hour with Caleb. The nurse said Jenna was REALLY low. She asked Candace if she felt the need to push but only a little bit at that time.

Finally the doctor came in and started setting up. He broke Candace’s water with a long tool and she nearly instantly screamed “I feel the need to push!”. They told Candace to hold her legs up with her hands, bring her head to her chest and push through the contractions. The nurse would count to 10, have Candace take a breath and push again.  Candace was screaming as loud as I’ve ever heard anyone as she pushed but it only took three contractions for Jenna to wriggle out. First I saw some white fluid that I didn’t notice with Caleb. On the next contractions I saw very similar patch of black hair like with Caleb. Finally her head came out with her hand on her ear. The doctor had to use a hand to assist her out in that position. She opened one eye and started screaming before her shoulders and arms were all the way out! The Dr. asked me to cut the cord which I did of course.

Once she was out the nurse started wiping her down. I was very eager for the girls to have skin to skin contact but Heather said it would be ok for them to wipe her down first. Candace got to hold Jenna for a minute before they weighed her and measured her. (The doc drew the cord blood and tissue at this time too). I asked if her head was small since Caleb and I have small heads but she just said it was normal for her size (7lbs 3 oz). Once the dr. finished stitching up Candace, they allowed her to nurse. They did all the administrative details and then we were moved to the mother baby ward around 3:00.

Friday is a blur other than trying to take Caleb to dinner but him wanting to go back to the hospital. On Saturday I drove to Ikea to get “Jenna’s” present for Caleb – a circus tent he wanted. Caleb was very happy but did not want to leave the hospital. It was obvious that he was really missing Mommy. I had to carry him crying to the car crying around 5:00. It broke my heart as he said “Daddy, I’ll be good” and I tried to explain to him that he was good and it wasn’t his fault that we had to stay another night in the hospital.

Throughout the stay Jenna cried very little – almost only when she was hungry. One night she was crying so I wheeled her around a bit and that seemed to help. Mostly she just wanted to be held so I would read with Candace’s IPAD in one hand and Jenna in the other.

Finally Sunday morning we got to go home. Pua Pua had helped Caleb make a sign that said “Welcome Jenna”. The joy on Caleb’s face when we walked in the door and he said “welcome home Mommy! welcome home daddy!” was amazing.

I’m so lucky to have my family of (gulp) four! I love each of them more than I possibly could have imagined.

My version:

On Thursday, May 8, I was 39w5d. I remember seeing something online about some a study of how a majority of second time moms delivered by then. For about two weeks leading up to that moment, I was trying out all the old wives tales on inducing labor. I was eating pineapples (core and all), eating spicy food (I had Thai food when I went into labor with Caleb), walking, having sex, using clary sage aromatherapy, massaging certain pressure points and even doing some silly yoga dance.

On that morning, I woke up and made Caleb lunch for school and then woke him up so I could get him ready to go. My mom came with me to drop him off and then we went to my doctor’s appointment.  I was 3cm dilated with a soft cervix and Jenna’s head was down low. Last week, I was 2cm dilated, 1cm the week before that and completely closed before that so it looked like my body was making some progress. I asked what their induction policies were and she said since I was over 39w, I could ask for one at any time. I declined since I really wanted to avoid any medical interventions so she said to schedule another weekly appointment though she doubted I’d make it and though I would deliver within the week. Hooray!

Afterwards, my mom and I stopped by the grocery store since my fridge was pretty bare. We also stopped by the Chinese grocery store that opened up down the street which she really liked and got ingredients for her hot & sour soup…yum! I looked at my watch and it was time to pick up Caleb so we went to go get him and he was really excited to show me some seeds he had planted for me for Mother’s Day and a painting he did. His teachers asked me when I was due and they were both surprised when I said in two days! They asked if I meant two weeks—nope, two days.

The rest of the day was pretty laid back. My mom was cooking, Caleb and I would relax in my bed while I would semi-nap (I was really sleepy these days since I would usually wake up a few times during the night) and Caleb would play on my iPad or snuggle for a bit.

The last pic I took of Caleb before he become a big brother!

The last pic I took of Caleb before he become a big brother!

Steve came home from work and right before we sat down for dinner at 7pm, I felt my first contraction. I took out my phone and started timing them with an app and the next one came 5 minutes later. And so did the next one. I started thinking, “this is early labor,” but I didn’t want to say anything in case they stopped so I just kept timing. We sat down for dinner and Steve eventually asked me what I was doing and I said, “timing my contractions.” Ha! Both him and my mother had a look of shock and asked how long they had been going on and how far apart they were. By then, it had been about 30 minutes and they ranged from 5-7 minutes.

After the first hour, the contractions averaged about 45 seconds long and started to get longer between contractions so I thought maybe they were going to stop. But, they kept coming so I decided to take a hot shower and text my birth photographer. After I was finished, the contractions were still coming so I decided to take my last pregnant photo and pack the hospital bag between contractions. By this point, they weren’t bad and I could breathe through them silently. We got Caleb ready for bed and each read him a nightly story though sometimes I’d have to stop reading during contractions.

During the third hour of contractions, they started to come sooner—every 3-4 minutes. I was still breathing through them, but would wince. My mom saw me and mentioned that I should go to the hospital. I told her that I was ok and wanted to labor at home as long as possible. She ended up telling Steve the same thing and so at the start of the fourth hour of contractions (11pm), we packed the car and headed to the hospital. I snuck into Caleb’s room to give him one last kiss since it would probably be the last time he’d be the only kiddo in the house.

Our original plan was to have Steve’s mom watch Caleb while my mom and Steve would come with me to the hospital, but since Steve’s mom had spent the bulk of the day driving a friend to a hospital in DC and with my contractions coming closer together, we decided to have my mom stay with Caleb and it’d just be me and Steve.

The good thing about leaving at 11pm was that there was no traffic! I had about 4 or 5 contractions in the car that caused me to grip the door handle and close my eyes. When we parked at the hospital and started walking to the door, I had to stop and hold onto Steve during contractions. When we got to the door, I had to stop and breathe through another one. I had quite an audience since we had to enter from the emergency room entrance and a lady asked if I needed a wheelchair. I declined and we continued over to L&D to check in. I had to fill out a few forms despite pre-registering online which sucked while having contractions, but they took us back to triage where I changed and got hooked up.

Heather was my L&D nurse and she lead me back to the area where we’d be hanging out and gave me a gown to change into. As I walked to the bathroom, I had a contraction and had to lean over to breathe through them before continuing on and changing. I went back to the bed where Steve and Nurse Heather were waiting for me and I got hooked up with monitors for Jenna’s heart rate and contractions. It was really weird because whenever a contraction would come up, I could feel the monitors on my stomach shift.

The triage “rooms” were separated by curtains and we could hear what was going on with a couple across the room—apparently it was really early in the pregnancy for one lady and her water broke. The nurse was trying to tell her that they’d try to stop the contracts. I hope everything was ok with their baby!

Nurse Heather checked me and said I was 7cm dilated already! Steve and I looked at each other in SHOCK and I told him to immediately text the birth photographer. With Caleb, it took FOREVER to dilate to 4cm even after augmenting my labor with pitocin and by then, I was crying and puking during the contractions. It was totally different this time around.

We ran through some questions and one of them was asking if I wanted an epidural. I said, “no, for now, but I might change my mind.” I didn’t want to go through the guilt I did with Caleb where I was all set on a natural birth and when things weren’t progressing, I cried when I broke down and asked for the drugs.

So with that said, I was admitted and moved to an L&D room. The nurses were calling and looking for the OB from my practice that was on call that night while my contractions were getting more and more intense. I started moaning and groaning through them with one hand gripped tightly onto the bed and the other holding onto Steve’s hand. I’d shut my eyes and tell myself, “loose lips, loose hips,” which was something we learned from our birthing class with Caleb. It helped me unclench my jaw and try to relax (maybe that’s why I was actually dilating so quickly??). I sat upright and was honestly afraid to move for fear that it’d made the contractions more intense so I stayed perfectly still.

We planned on doing cord blood and tissue banking, but Steve had left the collection box in the car. Steve asked the nurses if he had time to go to the car and get it and they said that he did, but he better hurry up. So, off he went while I powered through a few more contractions.

Nurse Heather checked me again between contractions and said I was already at 10cm and would be ready to push as soon as the doc was in. SAY WHA?! We checked into the hospital an hour ago and I was ready to go. I could have sworn that people usually dilated 1cm/hour, but holy heck, I wasn’t expecting to be ready to quickly especially since my labor with Caleb was so long.

Steve pointed out the time and made a comment that it’d be funny if Jenna was born at the same time as Caleb (1:08am) since it was 1am now. The nurse commented that it could be possible! When Dr. Simmonds arrived, he broke my water and I IMMEDIATELY felt the need to push. I even yelled it out, “I have to push!”

From that point, I was told I had to grab my thighs, put my chin down and push during the contractions. For some reason, I would either forget to push or have my chin up, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t get things together and do everything simultaneously. I kept closing my eyes, but at one point, I thought to myself that I should open them so I did and saw the lights coming down from the ceiling. I kept thinking I was on an alien space ship. It was like an out of body experience. And at some point, I thought to myself, “maybe I should have asked for an epi….”

I got my mind in gear and was finally able to focus on what I had to do…grab thighs, chin down and push during contractions. The feeling was so intense that I started SCREAMING through my contractions. The pressure between contractions was unreal. After three contractions, I felt Jenna’s head come out and a huge relief of pressure came over me. I heard her crying as she came out and when they laid her on my chest, the first thing I commented on was on her huge chubby cheeks and hair! That was totally unexpected since I had barely any heartburn! And so she was here. Jenna Mackenzie born May 9, 2014, at 1:10am weighing in at 7 lb., 3 oz., 20.5” long. Just a day shy of her due date. And completely med-free! I felt on top of the world.

Steve went with Nurse Heather as they took Jenna to get cleaned up on the other side of the room when in walked our birth photographer. She had missed the birth by just minutes, but she was able to get some family shots and candids. You can visit my photographer’s blog for more pictures.


Jenna being weighed taken by Meagan Sheffler Photography

Daddy and Jenna taken by Meagan Sheffler Photography

Daddy and Jenna taken by Meagan Sheffler Photography


staring in awe of our baby girl taken by Meagan Sheffler Photography

The nurse commented that since my labor was so fast, Jenna had a nice, round head. As they handed me my baby, we immediately did skin to skin and I started nursing her. I had forgotten how powerful their ability to suck was!

The hospital I delivered at is the first “baby friendly” hospital in MD where they encourage skin to skin, breastfeeding, and they don’t bathe the babies until the next day in order to not stress them out. A nurse came by to check Jenna out and also commented on her round head. She said it was the best one she had seen all day! Afterwards, she asked if we wanted to do more skin to skin or swaddle her. I said to swaddle since Steve hadn’t had a chance to hold her yet, but when the nurse came back to measure her body temperature, she was borderline so we said to forget the swaddle and do skin-to-skin from now on.


But first, let me take a selfie…

We moved into the recovery room at 3am and I would just nurse and hold Jenna—taking in the fact that I was now a mother of two kids! Steve slept for a bit on the pull out bed and after nursing Jenna, I finally got some rest myself, though never for very long. Jenna made all sorts of noises through the night especially grunting! A few times I caught her choking and coughing. The nurse said it was amniotic fluid and since they came out so quickly, there was probably a good amount left in her stomach that she had to work out. So because of that, I pretty much stayed up to keep an eye on her.

The next day, my mom, Steve’s mom and Caleb came to visit us at the hospital and we all had lunch together. I couldn’t wait to see how Caleb would interact with his new baby sister and he immediately wanted to hold her and give her a kiss. It was really sweet and I could tell he really missed me. I had him sit up on the hospital bed with me while we snuggled together.


Checking out his baby sister


Proud big brother


Our family of 4!

Between the hours of 1pm-3pm, the hospital has “quiet time” where they encourage not to have visitors and dim all the lights so that everyone can get some rest. My mom took Caleb home, but brought him back later when Steve said that he’d take Caleb out for some one on one time for dinner. They went to Wing Stop, but as soon as they ordered, Caleb said he wanted to go back to the hospital so they ended up packing all the food and he ate his food up on the bed with me.

Roxie stopped by that evening and got to hold Jenna for a little while and meet her new goddaughter!

The nurses come by nightly after 1:30am to weigh the babies and Jenna was losing weight, but still not quite the 10%. She was nursing every 2-3 hours, having wet diapers, the norm.

The next morning, Jenna’s pediatrician stopped by to check her out (same one Caleb goes to see). They didn’t do this in TX so it was nice having them come to us. Afterwards, Steve stopped by Ikea to pick up Jenna’s gift to Caleb. Back when I was pregnant and trying to jump start labor, I had taken Caleb to Ikea and walked all around the store where he fell in love with a circus tent. Steve ended up buying that tent and having it ready when Caleb and my mom came for lunch again. He was SO happy when he saw it that he made Steve play with him inside of it…lol.

I could tell Caleb was getting restless being stuck in a hospital room so after getting a few snuggles in with me, my mom took him back home. And we were back into the same routine of diaper changes, nursing and skin to skin time. Our friends Gloria & Tom along with their two kiddos stopped by to visit. Brian also stopped by and stayed for a while–both him and Steve got to catch up on sports on the tiny TV in our room until Roxie came by again after work to hang out and have some food.

The next morning was Mother’s Day and our pediatrician came by again to check Jenna out and talk about the next appointment when we’d bring her in. After running down a check list and getting briefed by our nurse, we were being discharged! I couldn’t wait to get out of there–I was beginning to feel stir crazy. I just wanted to be back home in my own bed with my lil’ guy who was now a big brother!

We had discussion of what Jenna’s homecoming outfit would be. I was leaning towards a pretty floral sleeper, but Steve wanted the patriotic anchor dress. We ended up going with the dress since Caleb went home dressed up in an outfit and it was also really warm that day (humid and 80’s).


Heading home in her pretty dress

We got discharged around 11am and we packed up the car and went home! Caleb was so excited to see us and brought us to the kitchen where he and my mom had made a banner that said “Welcome Jenna.” After dropping everything and everyone, I drove over to Target to pick up a few items and drop off my prescriptions for iburprofen and oxycodone. I took an oxy when I got home and oh man, I felt woozy and dizzy. I could barely stand up straight so I decided to only take only if I needed it and only before bed.

Steve’s mom drove down with lunch and we all just hung out and got used to the idea of being a family of four.

The next couple of weeks went by in a blur. I was not looking forward to waking up every couple of hours to nurse Jenna, but since my milk came in on day 2, she was chowing down, pooping like crazy and gaining weight! When we went to the pediatrician the day after we got home, Jenna had dropped to 6 lb, 10 oz. from her birth weight of 7 lb, 3 oz. By her two week check up, she was up to 7 lb. 12 oz. so she was already up to her birth weight and then some! Hooray for super milk.

I shot Jenna’s newborn photos – 9 days old

siblings watermark

my two beautiful kids – Jenna 10 days old, Caleb 3 years, 3 months old

She was a pretty good sleeper. For the first couple of weeks, I never had to set an alarm–she would wake up every three hours almost to the minute. It wasn’t until she got her shots at 2 months that she started sleeping through the night. She averages 8-10 hours before grunting and sort of waking up before I nurse her and then she’s out for another couple of hours.

As for putting her to sleep, so much easier than Caleb was! I would give her a bath, nurse, swaddle, burp and set her down in her bassinet with the Baby Shusher on. Sometimes she’d talk to herself, sometimes she’d just stare into outer space, but she would put herself to sleep. With Caleb, I always had to nurse him to sleep.


First bath at 6 days old when her umbilical cord fell out

And now that I have two, it’s funny to see how they compare. Jenna is more laid back than Caleb. She’ll actually tolerate a car seat i.e. if we’re out for dinner. Caleb would ALWAYS cry and we’d have to hold him–learning how to eat with my left hand or taking turns eating and holding him. They both love bath time, but Jenna hates getting her ears cleaned whereas Caleb would always strangely enjoy it. Caleb was always a good nurser whereas Jenna is more finicky–often only nursing one side at a time.


Caleb vs Jenna

I’m sure I’ll post more, but this entry is getting ridiculously long so I’ll just end it here and hopefully pick up soon!

my final progression photo

my final progression photo