Well, it’s been a little over 1 year since our littlest baby was born. And it feels like it’s been that long since I’ve written a blog post too! Two kids really rocked our world this year. I glanced through one of my more recent posts from earlier this year, 2019 Home Goals, and kind of laughed out loud. We were so ambitious this year. Oh well. It’s been crazy and really, blogging fell off of my radar, and I craved books more than anything whenever I got some time to myself. I lost count of how many books I’ve read this year, but it’s been a good one. Maybe I’ll try to incorporate that into my blogging and do a monthly book roundup. Ideas, ideas.
Anywho. Back to my baby. I feel like this is the perfect segway for me to get back into blogging, talking about the thing that has kept me so busy this year; my kids! I try not to share too much information about them here, because this blog is more for my interests and home projects, rather than their lives and privacy, but I do love sharing and hearing people’s birth stories so much. Back in 2017, I wrote Connor’s Birth Story, when he turned 1, and it was so therapeutic and I loved reading everyone else’s experiences that they shared with me afterwards. Layla’s birthday has recently passed and I realized on that day, as I flipped through my TimeHop pictures that I was sadly already beginning to forget the details. So here we go! A little back story…
We always knew that we were going to have more than 1 child. Connor was our first baby and he is such a joy (most of the time 😉 ), and we figured we’d be ready for another baby by the time he was 2 years old. I think we started trying when he was around 1.5 years old. We had zero issues conceiving Connor, it was all so easy, so I went into this experience having no concerns. Well, the world had different plans for us. A few months went by, and the periods kept coming, and by 4 months, I was just SO heartbroken. Every negative pregnancy test just tore me apart. I know that sounds like nothing, compared to other women’s experiences with infertility, but it didn’t make it any easier for me. I went down into dark places reading about secondary infertility, and how common it could be, and it really wasn’t helping my state of mind. David tried to help me stay positive, but it’s hard to get out of a spiral once you’re in it.
Hey, It’s me, David. As with Connor’s story, anything in italics here is me talking. This was a rough time. I knew that it was going to happen again for us, it just wasn’t happening right away. One of the worst parts is you only get a small window per month then have to wait another month if it doesn’t work out, so most of the time you just feel helpless.
Another month went by, and still no luck. David had a business trip coming up to go back to his office in Charleston, SC for some training and meetings. Connor and I decided to tag along since this was shortly after I quit my job. I think we needed a little vacation trip to get out of my head and I wanted to show Connor around our old town. Also, the week of this trip just happened to land during my “fertile window” so we were like hey, what the heck. Maybe we just need to be in Charleston to conceive babies.
Well, what do you know. A few weeks later, I took a pregnancy test at 4am and man was it positive. I just laid in bed and cried with Dave. After all of those negatives, a positive just doesn’t feel real, and it also set the tone for the me the first trimester, I was just nervous that none of it was real. Looking back, I know it really doesn’t compare to other women’s experiences, but it was difficult for me. And I just want to share it with others, for women to know that it happens. You’re not alone, and it’s probably more common than you think. Sometimes things just take time. That time may be 2 months, or it may be years, but whatever it is, it’s not easy, and only love and support will help. And sometimes, nothing really helps, and that’s okay too.
That’s right, we can only make babies in Charleston so we don’t have to worry about an accident… right? right?
My pregnancy with this baby was somewhat uneventful. We found out at 20 weeks that it was a GIRL, which was very exciting. It was just how we’d hoped it would work out, Connor getting to be a big brother to a little sister. We had the ultrasound tech write it down on a piece of paper so that we could read it all together when we got home (by ourselves!) and then we shared it with our families shortly after. This isn’t the video we shared with our families, but this may be one of my favorite videos ever:
Side note, our ultrasound tech was pretty much the worst. She was so miserable and let slip the gender when she was trying to get some of the pictures by saying “come on baby girl, move!” I was so taken aback that it didn’t register at first what she said, and I pretended like I didn’t hear it. Luckily Dave had his hands full with trying to occupy Connor at the time, so they didn’t catch it. I was so mad that she was so bad at her job, but the gender didn’t really surprise me, because deep down, I had already known it was a girl. So, if you’re local, let me know if you want to know a list of ultrasound places to avoid, I’ve had my fair share. Sigh.
We could tell she was off from the moment she came out to the waiting area to get us. I really wish we had just asked for somebody else or rescheduled right then. We learned you should trust your instincts and not settle for bad care, especially when it’s for a pregnancy.
So, we were thrilled about “Baby Sisser!” and pretty much started working on her room immediately since I had already had the design in my head. Connor helped with the painting, and we did a little photoshoot to let our social media friends in on the pregnancy announcement a few weeks later. 🙂
And of course, shared with you wonderful readers!
My pregnancy with Connor was pretty much just smooth sailing, other than some insomnia. With Layla, I started to get some pain around my belly button in the second trimester which my midwives attributed to probably the start of an umbilical hernia. They said it would probably disappear after delivery. I wore a support belt to help here and there when I wasn’t so sweaty that summer. Sadly, that pain got eclipsed with some gnarly sciatica pain that arrived in week 37.
With Connor, my water broke at 36 weeks and 6 days. So when I hit 37 weeks with Layla, I was READY. I was convinced she was coming around the same time. The day after I hit 37 weeks, I was riding in the car and felt like I had a pretty strong contraction. It passed, and later when I got out of the car, I had some back pain, but it wasn’t awful. The next morning when I woke up, I could barely get out of bed, and I was in tears. I called The Birth Center‘s nurse line and they told me I was probably experiencing sciatica pain, and gave me some recommendations. I went to see them for one of my weekly checkups a few days later, and just sat with one of the midwives, crying my eyes out. I could barely stand up, sit down, get in and out of the car, or even just walk without experiencing INTENSE pain down my right butt cheek and thigh. Thankfully, my midwife was amazing and supportive. She let me borrow her personal TENS unit to help me manage the pain. We made a decision together to try to start inducing labor with some easy methods since I was full term at that point. We did a membrane sweep, tried some homeopathics that worked well for me when my labor stalled with Connor, and then over the next week, tried all of the [safe] methods in the book. Labor didn’t come, unfortunately, so then I started to go see a chiropractor, which unfortunately did not give me a ton of relief. I then went to see an acupuncturist to both induce labor and help me with the pain. It was my first experience with both of these types of care, so this was all new to me. The acupuncture was the most useful treatment for my sciatica pain, along with the TENS unit. The acupuncture felt like TENS on steroids, and I actually left the treatment feeling like I could walk normally again, at least for the rest of that day.
She’s not kidding, the back pain had her debilitated for three weeks. I was seriously considering taking some of my vacation time before Layla came to try to give Carolyn a break, but I knew we were going to need it after, especially if the pain didn’t go away with birth.
Those 3 weeks were the longest 3 weeks of my pregnancies. I felt like I was in a constant state of caring for my back versus spending quality time with Connor like I wanted to. I planned for those last days to be some good bonding time with Connor while trying to walk a baby out at all of the beautiful trails and gardens we live near, but Layla and my body had different plans. At 39 weeks and 6 days, I got my third and final membrane sweep at 10am in the morning.
I had some minor cramping during the day, but didn’t play much attention to it. Dave finished work that day, and we decided take Connor to go to the pool and swim. While at the pool, I started to have some contractions here and there, but again, I wasn’t very concerned. My labor with Connor was over 24 hours, so I was convinced Layla wasn’t coming that day. We got home from the pool and decided to go for a walk. If I actually was going into labor, a walk would help. I had contractions on the walk, but don’t really remember how often they were. We got home, and Dave took care of bedtime, like he usually does, and I decided to get a shower. In the shower, my contractions starting coming on strong, and Dave came in and timed them at about 3 minutes apart. I think it was about 9:30pm. I was still in disbelief at this point, but we decided to give The Birth Center (TBC) a call. The midwife on call was Julia, and she was so kind and patient, and talked me through some contractions. She gave me the option of coming in or staying at home to labor awhile longer. I decided to stay home awhile, and we decided that it was probably time to call Dave’s parents to come to our house to stay with Connor so that we could head into TBC soon. I also called my Mom to warn her that we would probably head in, because I wanted her to be there too.
I think she’s understating how much she was in denial about being in labor. She was having quite a few contractions at the pool and on the walk after. By the time I was timing her in the shower I was worried she might have the baby in there. Meanwhile she still thought she had all the time in the world.
Dave’s parents arrived and Dave and I drove to TBC around 11pm. I was laboring for a little while, contractions still coming pretty closely together. Julia, the midwife, decided to check how far along I was, and she told me I was 7cm. SEVEN FRIGGIN CENTIMETERS! I was in disbelief. I think I confused her at my reaction, because she asked “uh, is that good or bad for you?” and I laughed and told her that I stayed at 3cm with Connor for HOURS so I was ecstatic. At this point, my water hadn’t even broken so I still thought I was hours away. My mom showed up and I felt ready. I was still experiencing my sciatica pain, so I really didn’t want to move off of the birthing ball I was sitting on. It was the only thing that felt comfortable. I think Layla was positioned slightly off just like Connor was, because I still needed constant pushing on my lower back from David. I wish I had more pictures, but my mom showed up in the nick of time and a lot of the pictures she did take aren’t quite appropriate to share on the internet!
During one of the contractions on the ball, I felt a sharp pain and a burning sensation, and felt my water break. It was so odd, because it wasn’t a gush of water like Connor’s was. Julia almost didn’t believe me when I told her that it broke, but then I guess she found some evidence. Shortly after that, I could feel her coming, my body just started taking over. Her head started to come through and Julia and David moved the birthing ball away. My legs were so weak from all of the back pain that they were just shaking so bad as I was leaning up against the bed on my elbows. They asked me if I wanted to get up on the bed and deliver on all fours. It was the only thing that felt comfortable for me, so I said yes. David and Julia pushed my legs, and my mom pulled my hands to get me up on the bed, which was the most awkward and uncomfortable experience because Layla’s head was coming through. Somehow we managed!
A few minutes later, and after a lot of pain, my body pushed her through and they brought her up to me in between my legs and under my chest so I could see her. It was the best feeling! Somehow after this I managed to turn over to lay on my back so Layla and I could get some snuggles. I remember the umbilical cord being pretty short, so she didn’t have to much room to get much further up my chest. I was also still experiencing a lot of sciatica pain still so laying on my back while delivering the placenta was not my favorite. I wanted to enjoy Layla laying on my chest and snuggling so much, but between the back pain, and the fact that they discovered that she was having some breathing issues made this part fuzzy.
They had to give Layla some blow by oxygen for a little while to help her breathing. I don’t remember a lot of the details, but after awhile it still wasn’t improving, so they attempted a few more things and determined that she needed to go to the hospital to spend some time being monitored in the NICU. They suspected that she was just going through Transient Tachypnea (TTN), which was not a huge deal, but it was safer to monitor her under a doctor’s care for a few hours to ensure that her breathing got more steady. Since we weren’t at the hospital, they had to call the local one, and they sent over a nurse practitioner and 2 nurses over on an ambulance to come get Layla. The word ambulance kind of scared me, but in the whole situation, I just felt very calm. Deep inside I knew that she was fine. While we waited for the ambulance to come, she nursed like a champ. By the time the ambulance even arrived, she was breathing like normal, but we decided to still send her just in case. I still had to recover for a few hours before I got discharged from TBC, so Dave followed the ambulance to the hospital and my mom stayed behind with me. I ended up getting a nice hot shower, taking a short nap, and then my mom drove me to the hospital.
I got there around 5am, and Dave was in the NICU with Layla. She was peacefully asleep and I just couldn’t get enough of her. I held her in my arms and didn’t want to let go. Dave left to go take a nap in one of the (few) rooms available for parents to rest. Don’t get me started on this in the NICU. There really are poor facilities available for parents who want to stay near their babies side in the NICU we stayed at. I couldn’t even bring a bottle of water in with me, which I know is in attempt to control germs around new babies, but it was just hard. The doctors did their walk through around 10am and we were under the assumption that they would check her out and we could leave. Unfortunately, they wanted her to stay for 24 hours, so we were stuck there for the next day. I was kind of heartbroken. I imagined that when I delivered her, I would be back home before Connor woke up for the day and he could meet his “baby sisser!” that morning, but things didn’t work out that way. Kids weren’t allowed in the NICU, so we would have to hold off the surprise for a little, while he spent time with Dave’s parents.
Since Carolyn didn’t deliver at the Hospital, she was not a patient, which of course meant she was not getting the comfort and rest that she needed (and deserved) as a visitor at the hospital.
In our experience, all I can say is that I have so much respect for the parents and babies who have to have an extended stay in the NICU. We were there for about ~32 hours and I was DONE. It’s so hard to take care of your new baby and yourself when they’re hooked up to monitors, and you have limited means of self care and facilities for yourself. So to everyone that has had to go through a much harder experience than us, I’m in awe and have so much respect for you.
After a mess of things not going the way we wanted them to, we left the NICU with baby Layla a lot later than we’d hoped. Unfortunately, I feel like in the regular health care system, we get judged very quickly by health care providers when they see that we’ve delivered at The Birth Center. They assume too much about us, and think that we are ‘hippies who don’t vaccinate their kids’ or something, which is wholly untrue. We decided to deliver our children at TBC because it’s where I felt in charge and supported in my birth, and the midwives really listened and supported my needs. The hospital didn’t understand that TBC provides full care, will administer initial vaccinations, and perform hearing tests, and basically refused to let us leave until these things were done which was very frustrating. I knew TBC was going to take better care of us in the coming weeks through a home visit, checkups, and appointments with my favorite Lactation Consultant than I would have ever experienced in the hospital. Hopefully this kind of care will become more common in the future, so that there won’t be so many stereotypes about it.
Going home with Layla and having Connor meet her was the BEST. He was equally confused and enamored with her, at 2.5 years old he had just a little bit of a hard time realizing that the baby wasn’t in my belly anymore, and someone was here in the house, pooping in diapers.
She of course pooped on the short drive home from the NICU so he got a really early introduction to the diaper change.
Our family was so supportive in helping to take Connor for little vacations to their houses while we were in the newborn fog again. So thank you to Dave’s parents, my parents, and my sister for showing him such a good time while we couldn’t. David had about 2 weeks paternity leave and then took 2 weeks vacation after that, so we had a good chunk of family time together. During the first 2 weeks when Connor wasn’t away with family, Dave and him would go out on adventures and go do his usual activities like nature preschool and the library, while Layla and I nursed and snuggled and slept. My first 2 weeks were also spent triple feeding (nursing, pumping, and then giving what I pumped in a bottle to her) Layla because of my past breastfeeding issues. Luckily, I had a great plan from my LC, that all went well and Layla gained weight like a champ. At week 3 we started to go out together on outings as a family and were enjoying (almost) every second.
Those few weeks of taking Connor out a lot were very fun and very busy. It really gave me an idea of what Carolyn’s days were like when there was only one kid!
I’ll still state it like I did in the beginning though. Two kids is hard. It’s such a transition to now have to respond to all the physical needs of a baby in addition to all of the emotional needs of a 2.5 year old. It took me a long time to feel “settled” and feeling like I could really handle it.
What Carolyn is saying nicely is that we have extremely difficult babies in that first year 😛
At a year, it finally feels like our normal and our family feels complete. Watching Layla’s personality bud has been so entertaining, and watching her and Connor learn to play together has been so fun. She’s so much more wild than he ever was and really lets you know her needs and wants. She’s really going to be testing our parenting skills in different ways than Connor ever did <3.
I’m looking so forward to what the future has in store for us with these two. It’s been a wild ride, and one that I wouldn’t change for the world.
We love you, Layla!
I LOVE this! Thank you for sharing it all – especially the beginning before you conceived. So much of what you wrote resonated with me as we experienced a long year of trying to conceive Theo. You are one strong momma! You guys are great parents and we love your family! <3
Thank you Lillian!! This means so much to me! Thanks so much for reading it, we love you guys too!! 😘