Walking into the hospital for my induction -- last pregnancy picture!
My first picture with Camden right after he was born -- feeling all the emotions!
From the start, this pregnancy was stressful for me. It was definitely different from my other pregnancies, and it was by far the most challenging for me mentally, physically, and emotionally. There seemed to be small bumps in the road from the beginning including being told this was possibily a chemical pregnancy and that I would likely lose the baby to a very painful cyst on my ovary throughout the entire first trimester to crippling anxiety at the thought of anything happening to the baby to intense and chronic pelvic pain. By the grace of God, I made it through each of these trials and the baby remained healthy and growing! At my 20 week ultrasound back in December, I was told I had placenta previa. The baby looked great, but I would have to come back at 32 weeks to see if my placenta had moved out of the way. If it hadn't, then I would have a c-section at 36 weeks. I spent the next few months on pelvic rest (no lifting my other kids) and worrying that I may have to have an early c-section. At 32 weeks, I went in for my ultrasound and was relieved to find out that my placenta had completely moved out of the way. I was in the clear! Or so I thought. I happened to ask about the baby's size while they were doing the ultrasound. The tech checked the size of the baby's belly just for fun to give me an estimate on how much the baby was weighing. She immediately looked concerned and said the baby's belly was measuring 3 weeks behind, and overall, the baby was measuring 1 week behind. After talking to my doctor, she did a few more tests, and I was diagnosed with IUGR (growth restriction). I had the exact same thing in my pregnancy with Emerson, so while I was nervous, I was also pretty comfortable with the diagnosis. I know this meant more monitoring and possibly an early induction. After talking to my doctor, I found out that I would be induced between 38-39 weeks as long as everything they were monitoring (blood flow through the umbilical cord, baby's movements, etc.) continued to look okay. I was supposed to be induced early with Emerson also, but I went into labor on my own at 37.5 weeks, so it never happened. The next few weeks went by, and everything looked good at my appointments. I assumed they would let me go to 38-39 weeks and that I would probably go into labor on my own before then.
He weighed 5 lbs 4.7 oz.
At 35.5 weeks, I went into my appointment and unfortunately, something was off. The blood flow through the umbilical cord was restricted, and while the baby was okay at the moment, they wanted to induce me right at 37 weeks. I was really torn about it. Obviously, I wanted to do what was best for the baby and would never put the baby in danger. But I also really didn't want to be induced. I ended up having Pitocin in my labor with Grayson, and it was really awful compared to my labor with Emerson which I never had to get Pitocin. I knew there was a good chance I would go into labor early based on my past pregnancies, but also knew I probably wouldn't go into labor on my own before 37 weeks. But whether I liked it or not, I was going to get induced right at 37 weeks and quickly tried to mentally prepare myself. Thankfully, I was already 1-2 cm dilated and 30% effaced at my 35.5 week appointment, so my body was already slowly preparing for labor. I had multiple appointments over the next 1.5 weeks with the same diagnosis (elevated doppler levels in the umbilical cord) that confirmed that this baby needed to come out at 37 weeks. I spent the next week and a half trying to prepare my body for labor. I went on long walks, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and took evening primrose oil. I also did these things in my previous pregnancies once I hit 36 weeks and felt that they couldn't hurt, but would helpfully help progress things along. At my 36.5 week appointment, I was 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced. The doctor was confident that it would be an "easy" induction and that it wouldn't take much Pitocin to get my body going. At the appointment the day before my induction (April 4), I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She also said the baby's head was very low and ready for labor. My doctor felt like it would be a quick induction and it wouldn't take very long. My body seemed to be very close to going into labor on its own anyways. I had been losing my mucus plug slowly for almost 2 weeks at this point and on the evening before my induction, I had my "bloody show." There was a part of me that felt like my body was racing the induction clock! Ha.
Meeting their baby brother
Emerson was a little unsure at first. When she was done holding him, she basically threw him off of her and said, "All done!". Camden was unharmed and thankfully we have taught Emerson to tell us she is "all done" before moving him off of her. Ha!
We were told to report to the hospital at 11pm on April 4 to begin the induction. I tried to nap throughout the day, but I was way too anxious. We said goodnight to the kids and headed to the hospital soon after. I had never been officially induced, so it was a weird feeling knowing we were going in to have this baby. In a way, it was nice to have it all scheduled and planned, but it was very different for me. When I got to the hospital, I checked in, got settled, and then they started me on antibiotics around midnight, right as I hit 37 weeks. I tested positive for Step B, so I had to have two rounds of antibiotics before they started me on Pitocin. I tried to sleep on the delivery bed, but it was super uncomfortable. I also started having real contractions right around the time we got to the hospital. When they hooked me up to the monitor, I asked if I was having a contraction (I had so many intense Braxton Hicks throughout my pregnancy that it was hard for me to even tell at this point) and the nurse was like, "Yep, you are!". The contractions continued randomly throughout the early morning hours but never grew consistent enough for them not to do Pitocin. The induction was still on, but this was just another sign that my body was ready to have this baby. I truly believe I would have naturally gone into labor very soon on my own especially since I started having many contractions right before the induction. It made me feel a lot better about being induced, like I wasn't kicking the baby out early, but that he/she was ready. At my appointment, the day before, the blood flow through the umbilical cord was the most restricted it had ever been. This was a huge confirmation for me that induction was the right decision. Not that I actually had a choice in the matter, but it reminded me that this was what was best for the baby. And that my preferences ultimately didn't matter. I just wanted a healthy baby in the end! I was really anxious, excited, and nervous when getting to the hospital and even more so after starting to have contractions. So after they started the antibiotics, sleep was just not happening. At 5am, they started me on Pitocin. Finally! I was so ready to get the show on the road!
I slowly started having more longer and stronger contractions. Every 15 minutes or so, the nurse would come in and bump the Pitocin up. This only happened a few times though before the baby's heart rate started to decel during the contractions. Basically, the baby's heart rate always drops a little during contractions, but if it drops too much and too often, then it can be an issue. This same thing happened in my labor with Emerson, so at first, I wasn't worried, but then it became a constant issue for the next few hours. My nurse would come in and get me to turn into different positions to get the baby to "handle the contractions" a little better. There were times they thought the baby was playing with or messing with the umbilical cord and that's what was causing it. Changing positions seemed to be the only thing that would temporarily help. I absolutely loved the two nurses I had during my labor and delivery. They were wonderful! They were so encouraging and kind. They really took care of me. They were really good about not scaring me and gently letting me know what was going on and asking me to switch positions. My doctor came in at 7:30am and broke my water. She said my membranes were "bulging" and that it would be very easy to do. She was right. It wasn't bad at all! I was having contractions, but nothing super painful at this point. I expected them to get worse once she broke my water, but I also knew this would speed things along. Over the next 1.5 hours, the nurse and my doctor watched me like a hawk. It was the scariest part of my labor. My contractions were picking up and starting to get more painful, but because the baby's heart rate kept dropping, I was very distracted from the contractions. I was watching the monitor like crazy because I could tell if the baby's heart rate was decelling or if the baby was taking the contractions well. As each contraction started, I watched the monitor and prayed the baby's heart rate wouldn't drop too low. My new nurse came on shift at 7am and she was in my room fairly often getting me to change positions to try to help with the heart rate. My doctor stayed in my room for a while after breaking my water watching the monitor. She very gently told me that she didn't want to do a c-section on me especially because I had never had one, but if the baby's heart rate kept doing this, that it might happen. I was panicking inside because I don't think anyone wants an emergency c-section. At 5am when they started the induction, I was still 3 cm dilated. At about 8am, I was dilated to 4cm which was good because my doctor wanted to make sure I was progressing at this point with the baby's heart rate continuously decelling. Also, they didn't increase my Pitocin much after the first few times because of the heart rate. They basically gave me enough Pitocin to jumpstart labor, and my body did the rest. Which was an answer to prayer because that is exactly what I wanted to happen -- limited Pitocin. Anyone who has ever had Pitocin knows how awful it is! The baby's heart rate kept decelling until about 9am. At that point, I called my mom (who was driving down to the hospital from Atlanta) about in tears because I really thought a c-section was going to happen. She was good about reminding me that they would only do a c-section as a last resort and for the baby's health. I was still really scared and hung up with her because, at that point, the contractions were getting more intense. I sent out a text to a few friends and family and asked them to pray for the baby to be able to tolerate labor and at that point basically let go of "control" of the situation...not that I had any anyways! Ha. It seemed like the prayers were heard pretty immediately. My body was doing better with the new position they had me in -- sitting up completely Indian style. I asked if I could get out of bed and walk around the room at this point. I knew if I was going to handle these contractions without an epidural, I needed to walk around.
Camden's first bath
I have been like this in all my labors, and I know some people think it is crazy, but you have to do labor; however, you feel is best for you! For me, I like to go as long as I can before I get the epidural. I had an epidural with both Grayson and Emerson, so I am not against them at all. I just like to get to the point of not being able to go any farther on my own before I get one. So while I was in a good bit of pain, I was feeling good enough to keep going at this point. I walked around for a little bit and then Josh asked me if he could go get a cup of coffee really quickly. He hadn't slept much all night either, and I think he knew that it was now or never. Haha. I told him that he could go, but to come back quickly. He was gone from about 9:45-10am. While he was gone, my contractions got to the point where I was really struggling with them. I could barely walk around, and my legs were shaking during the contractions. I buzzed the nurse while he was gone and told her that I think I wanted the epidural. Josh came back, and so did the nurse. She told me that she wanted to check me and then we could talk about the epidural. At the time, I was annoyed! Haha. I just wanted the epidural, but I let her check me and was shocked at what she said. She said that I was 7cm dilated and that the baby's head was right there. She told me that I could get the epidural, but if I wanted a natural labor, that she believed I could do it and that it wouldn't be much longer. I opted to keep laboring on my own and not get the epidural. She said I was entering "transition" and soon it would be time to push. She said I could have an IV drug if I wanted and I told her that's what I wanted. Over the next 15 minutes or so, I completed the transition. It was definitely extremely painful and intense, but thankfully there were breaks in between the contractions. My eyes were closed most of the time, and I was squeezing the hospital bed for dear life. My arms were actually sore the next day because of how tightly I was squeezing the railing of the bed! Ha! I was yelling out some in pain and was definitely the most vocal I have ever been during a labor. The nurse checked me again around 10:30am and told me I was at "completion." I cried out, "What does that mean?!" because I had no clue. She said I was 10 cm dilated and it was time to push! I couldn't believe it! It seemed that once my body really went into labor, things went really quickly. And just like they say, I suddenly had the urge to push. It just happened all on its own. They told me to try not to push, so that the doctor could make it in time to catch the baby. I couldn't really control that part! I kept pushing, and thankfully the doctor showed up in time. For whatever reason, I thought pushing was going to be the easier part, but because of the baby's positioning (which we didn't know at the time), I was wrong. Pushing was the craziest and weirdest and most painful feeling! It definitely burned like I've heard it described before and it was just extremely uncomfortable. Pushing took about 15 minutes although it felt like an eternity. I felt like I was in an alternate universe. It was like some weird out of body experience. It was definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done! Josh later told me that there were many people in the room at the birth including a few students (which they had mentioned to me at the beginning of labor) and I had no idea! I was so focused on pushing the baby out and managing the pain that I really had no idea what was going on around me! At 10:50am, Camden James Gale was born! He weighed 5 lbs. 4 oz. and was 19 inches long. My doctor was shocked because when he came out, he was "sunny side up" or "face presentation" which means that he was facing the wrong way coming out. That explained why pushing was so difficult. They later told me that if he was in the regular birthing position, I would have pushed him out before my doctor arrived. But because he was turned around, it took a little longer and a little extra work on my part. Thankfully, he was perfectly fine though! It all happened so fast thankfully! Later, my nurse told me that even if I had wanted the epidural, I wouldn't have had time for one. And she never got around to giving me the IV drugs either -- again, no time! Definitely a blessing for a natural birth.
Daddy is in love.
Mommy and her 3 babies
Grayson's first time holding Camden
Snuggling my girl
The first thing I saw was Camden's face -- in the moment, I just knew it was a BOY! He looked so much like a HE. They laid him on my chest, and I quickly checked -- yep, it was a boy! I had thought it was a boy my entire pregnancy, so I wasn't completely shocked. It was still really fun to wait to find out though! I can't believe I had TWO sons! My initial reaction was different with Camden that it was with the other two purely because I had just had a natural birth. I think I was in shock for a little while after he was born. It was the craziest experience and I couldn't believe I had done it. So while I was so happy to finally meet him, I was also in a very weird headspace and recovering from the intense pain. Camden cried the most out of all my kids right after he was born, but then quickly calmed down and was so relaxed and happy. The hospital let us have an entire uninterrupted hour of skin to skin time right after he was born which was amazing. No one was in the room, not even the nurses, and it was a really special time. I was still really nervous about his health and was anxious to make sure everything was okay. They weighed him, and he was 5 lbs. 4 oz. and 19 inches long. They did all the tests and checked his lungs, and everything was perfect! I had to have 2 steroid shots the week before he was born to make sure his lungs were developed at birth. They had also warned me about a possible NICU stay just because he was born early, so I was prepared for that. I was so relieved to find out he was perfectly healthy!
Grayson was beyond thrilled that he was going to have a brother! He was giddy with excitement and so interested in him!
Grayson checking out Camden's hair
The closest picture we got to all 5 of us! Ha!
The past 9 months and really, the past year (the months leading up to getting pregnant with Camden) were some of the hardest of my life. I dealt with extreme anxiety and fear and a lot of physical pain and restrictions. It tested me in ways I had never been tested before. I was so nervous and scared about so many things, but God was so faithful! He worked together every detail and got our Camden James here safe and sound. The middle name James was inspired by the Bible verse, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." -- James 1:17. I truly believe Camden is a gift from God. I believe that of all my children, but this baby was truly a gift from the Lord and God showing His goodness to us. Camden is so special to me, and his life is so precious. We are truly blessed beyond measure. We are now adjusting to life as a family of 5. Besides lack of sleep, we are doing really well! Camden is the sweetest baby and the perfect addition to our family. Grayson and Emerson are in love with their new baby brother and that has made the transition a lot easier! If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I'm excited to share Camden's updates as the months go on and to hopefully keep this blog updated!