First things first, I love birth stories. I think they are so important and need to be written. For me, it's free therapy but I hope that my kids look back someday and love reading about the day they came into the world. I’ll just say right here that if you don’t find childbirth to be totally awesome— stop reading now. :)
Let’s face it. With the first name of Audra, I can’t name my own daughters something super common. They require a little bit of uniqueness to be a part of this girl squad. When it came to naming baby number 4, I was convinced that my husband and I wouldn’t ever agree on a name. We love that all of our kids have nicknames that carry their big proper names through childhood. I always loved the nickname "Goldie" but when I brought it up for Eloise over 3 years ago, he wasn’t crazy about it. Much to my surprise, when I brought it up as the nickname for the first name Marigold this time around, he loved it. We have always known the gender of our babies but this time we didn’t know if we were having a girl or a boy so we started a list of both girl and boy names and Marigold was high on the list for girls.
Back tracking to this Fall, I had planted some beautiful bright orange marigold flowers in flower boxes on my back deck. Almost immediately, the flowers and the lemongrass died and I was left with crunchy ugliness in the box. I don’t have a green thumb and I was frustrated that I had killed yet another round of plants and decided not to replant the boxes and I never got around to clearing the old dead plants out. I chalked it up as a total fail.
Around the 20th week of my pregnancy I headed to my regular check up. We had just had a 16 week ultrasound and no one had mentioned anything concerning so I really didn’t expect the news that I was given. The amazing PA that I was scheduled with, and who I truly think the world of, kindly broke the news to me that our sweet baby had a marginally attached umbilical cord and that he or she would be labeled IUGR, inter-uterine growth restricted. She gave me minimal information because it was truly a “wait and see” kind of situation. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t have all the information that I need, I research until I am blue in the face. I spent the next 8 weeks sobbing and stressing out about the potential of an early birth, stillborn baby or a baby that wouldn’t develop normally. I broke down during my daughters dance class as I talked to my girlfriends about the possibility of hemorrhaging during the 3rd stage of labor as this was a big risk with a marginally attached umbilical cord. I wrote letters to my kids… just in case this happened. I was a mess to put it lightly. I was staying up until 2 and 3 in the morning researching on my phone and worrying myself sick. I also began to pray for the umbilical cord specifically. At this point, I asked a friend to snap some maternity photos of me because I wasn't sure how long I would get to be pregnant this time around and I wanted to capture this special time.
In this time frame, the marigolds that I had planted on my deck suddenly bloomed. This was early November and we had already had plenty of really cold days, so these marigolds that bloomed were quite a surprise. For me, it was a little sign from heaven that everything was going to be okay. I had a feeling it was a girl from this moment, a little girl to be named Marigold.
When it finally came time for my follow up appointment and growth check ultrasound, Jason took the day off and we went to Virginia Beach together for the appointment. When we arrived back in the ultrasound room, the technician began the scan and started with the placenta and umbilical cord. She was quick to tell us that she no longer saw signs of a marginally attached umbilical cord and we were so relieved. However, the baby was still measuring small so we weren’t out of the woods.
The marigolds on my deck continued to bloom.
Around 32 weeks I headed back up to Virginia for a routine appointment. Unfortunately, this time I was given more stressful news from a doctor that I had never met before. She was going through my chart and sort of blurted out that our baby had a white marker on his or her heart that was visible on the last ultrasound. Then just as fast as she delivered that information, she told me that this was a genetic marker for down syndrome and she wanted us to get an amniocentesis to see what was going on. With so many risks to that procedure, I declined the testing and continued to pray for our baby.
The marigolds on my deck continued to bloom…
We continued to have multiple growth scans throughout my pregnancy and continued to see that our baby measured small. Then, during our last ultrasound at 34 weeks the technician estimated that the baby weighed over 7 pounds and I just had to laugh. I felt like all my stress and worry for months was based on a very wonky scientific system called ultrasound which I’m here to tell you is NOT really all that accurate…
Because of our 3 year olds stressful birth, which you can read here, it was suggested to us that I would be induced around 39 weeks rather than waiting for labor to begin because they wanted to have more control of the birth and because they wanted me to feel more in control of the birth. I was hesitant because I’ve always gone the full 40 weeks, but with some more information and the kind heart of the PA, Jennifer, I felt like being induced a few days early was a good decision.
At Norfolk General Hospital, they begin the induction process at 2:00am. I’m a night owl but this timeframe felt a little crazy to me! Despite my feelings on the time, I scheduled the induction for January 16th, just 3 days before my due date and we arrived to the hospital at 2:00am, right on time. By 4:30am I had received my first dose of Pitocin, the drug used to induce labor. Upon my arrival at the hospital I was already 2cm dilated so I felt like I was in a great place, ahead of the game! When the doctors came in to check me around 9:00am I was so disappointed to hear that I had only made it to the 4cm mark in about 4 hours. I had been feeling these contractions really intensely and had barely slept because of it. Knowing my body and knowing that in the past I would get stuck during labor because my body was so tense, I decided that getting an epidural would help me relax. I hoped it would help me get some sleep and it would allow me to get past the pesky 4cm mark that I had been stuck at for hours.
I was thrilled to see the anesthesiologist walk in my room. Despite the fact that they bring the GOOD drugs, they always seem to be so personable and kind. I mean, that could be the epidural junkie in me talking about I have never met an anesthesiologist that I didn’t like. My blood pressure always runs super low so he stayed in our room for a little while and monitored it. Since my pressure started dropping pretty quickly, he gave me another medication to bring my blood pressure back up and my fabulous nurse and her student nurse stayed with us to keep an eye on it. We all had some good chats and shared some laughs while they monitored my BP.
After the epidural was given to me, I took a half-asleep nap but I could still tell that my contractions were kicking into high gear. When I woke up around 12:00 noon I was sure that it was going to be time for a baby. When they came in to check me again, I was still stuck at 4cm! Starting to stress a little bit, I texted with my sister in law, Renee, and she shared a little bit about my nephews birth when she was “stuck” at a certain centimeter for hours too. Her encouragement and commiserating helped and I decided to request that the doctors would break my water. Again, if you read Eloise’s birth story then you know why I was a little hesitant to have my water broken before this point. When I asked the nurse to tell the docs that I wanted my water to be broken she said that she would have them come in as soon as they were out of a complicated c-section. It took them until 3:00pm to come in to break my water. At this point I was ready to call my mom who was going to be in-route with the big kids any minute, hoping to meet a baby! I was worried that it would be another few hours before the baby was born and that my mom would be stuck in the hospital with three kids for hours or late into the night while they waited. Since the hospital is an hour and a half from our home on the beach, I was really worried that she would waste the trip. I talked to her quickly and she was adamant that she would be coming up because the kids wanted to see me even if there wasn’t a baby yet. I was so happy to know that they were coming! Since our delivery room was in direct sunlight, it was super bright and there was no way that either of us would be able to get any rest. So, Jason put Grace & Frankie on his laptop and I loved laughing at one of our favorite Netflix shows while we relaxed together.
Turns out the relaxing and laughing did the trick! About 30 minutes after they broke my water the nurse came back in. I told her that I was feeling a lot of pressure but I was also living the good life in epidural-ville so I didn’t have any complaints. She took a “look” to make sure that the fluid from breaking my water was still clear and sure enough she could tell that it was time for me to start pushing. Within 5 minutes, two amazing doctors were in the room and with two small pushes I was able to reach down and pull the tiniest of all of my babies onto my chest. Jason was able to announce to me that it was another beautiful baby girl and I sobbed as I held her close to my chest. I loved finding out that she was a girl and I’m so glad that I waited until she was born to find out! Looking down at her sweet tiny features I could tell that she looked so much like her big sister Penelope already. I couldn’t control my tears and emotions in this moment. I was just so grateful for this empowered birth, something that I felt was stolen from me with my previous birth and I was so grateful for a tiny but healthy baby girl. Can someone please explain why my husband always gets this amazing first photo, looking incredibly handsome with our babe and I look like I'm knocking on deaths door? It's just not fair. ;)
Marigold Lovelyn was born at a healthy weight of 6 pounds 12 ounces. She is 2 pounds smaller than Eloise and Joey and a full pound smaller than Penelope was. Despite her tininess, she was not consider IUGR and the white marker on her heart is no longer visible or a concern. Thanking God for answered prayers.