Reece & Reagan: A Birth Story

My twin pregnancy had been pretty complication-free until around 30 weeks, when I started swelling and my blood pressure started rising. My OB was monitoring me very closely for preeclampsia and doing weekly non-stress tests and ultrasounds to check on the babies. He kept telling me that he knew I had preeclampsia, he was just waiting for it to show up in the tests. At every appointment at the end, he would apologize that he was not willing to induce me yet, because my swelling was just ridiculous (I gained 12 pounds of fluid in one week), I had PUPPPs rash, etc.

On Monday, January 30, I was 36 weeks + 3 days pregnant. I got up to go to the bathroom around 1:00am and felt totally normal. But then I couldn’t get back to sleep. I laid in bed and felt super anxious and very worried, but I couldn’t pinpoint what I was worried about. Looking back now, I had read a list of preeclampsia symptoms that included extreme swelling (check), high blood pressure (check), and at the bottom of the list was “a sense of impending doom”. I thought it was really bizarre. But yep, now I know exactly what that meant.

Around 2:00am I rolled over in bed and thought it felt like maybe my water had broken. That or I was peeing my pants and couldn’t stop. 🙂 I told Ryan and he got up, called Cheryl to come stay with Ellie the rest of the night, we got dressed, and were on the way to the hospital by 3:00.

We made the one hour drive to the hospital in about 45 minutes on roads that turned snow-covered about halfway there. Ryan took me into the ER and they wheeled me to labor and delivery triage. I wasn’t yet having contractions, but they confirmed that my water had broken and did a urine test for protein. The threshold for preeclampsia is 300mg and above. Mine came back at 778. Preeclampsia had finally officially shown up and my body was getting the babies out. I was dilated to 4cm and just starting to have very light contractions so they wheeled me to the biggest labor room available (two babies coming and all).

Very quickly my contractions started getting VERY serious. I delivered Ellie naturally so I’d been through it before and this time I was thinking that I didn’t know how I had done it. I had no intentions of delivering the twins without medication as the second baby often has to be turned or delivered by c-section, in which case I might have to be put under general anesthesia if I didn’t already have an epidural.

Around 6:00am the nurse said I was at 6 cm and I decided to get the epidural. The anesthesiologist was not happy that I’d been taking a daily baby aspirin (prescribed by my OB, who later confirmed I WAS supposed to still be taking it). He said there was a chance I could bleed into my back and if that happened I’d have to be rushed in for emergency surgery. But the epidural was placed without problems and the relief came quickly. I went from 6 cm to fully dilated in about an hour.

When my OB arrived he did an ultrasound and Reece (baby B) had turned breech (he had been transverse – sideways across my belly – the entire pregnancy. I’m almost positive he moved on the ride to the hospital). He gave us the option of trying for a vaginal delivery but said it was likely he’d come down breech after Reagan was born. So if Reece wouldn’t turn after Reagan was born, I’d be having a c-section anyway. We hemmed and hawed back and forth and were really undecided. I asked the doctor a couple of questions and finally he said, “we’re doing a c-section. He’s breech. We’re doing a c-section.” Everything started moving very quickly but I was so tired, I kept dozing off while they moved around me.

They wheeled me back to the OR, put my arms out, and put the drape up and the whole time I was just fighting to stay awake. My doctor came in and was playing name that tune with the resident and nurses. He did something to my belly and asked if I felt any pain. I said no and he said that was great. Ryan came in and squeezed my hand. I felt a lot of pulling, jerking, and pressure and the anesthesiologist told Ryan to get ready to take a picture. Reagan Jo was born at 9:29 weighing 5 lb 1 oz (such a peanut!!) and 19” long. They held her up and she cried a lot. They took her over to the waiting warmer to check her out and get her cleaned up.

It felt like it took them forever to get Reece out. There was a LOT of pulling and jerking me around on the table and he came out butt first at 9:31 weighing 7 lb 9 oz and 21” long. He was gray and he didn’t cry so they took him over to work on him. They put an oxygen mask on him but were having trouble with the equipment.

Ryan brought Reagan over to me all bundled up and her neonatologist and nurses went over to help with Reece. They wheeled him to the NICU. 

Before my doctor left the OR, he came over and said, “we made the right call. We would’ve ended up in here for him anyway.” When they were done stitching me up, they took Ryan, Reagan, and I out to a recovery room and the nurse put her skin-to-skin on me and she started nursing.

Once they had a room ready for me upstairs, they wheeled all of us through the NICU to see Reece. He had all kinds of tubes and wires in him, but they said he was doing well. He was on a CPAP machine to help him breathe. They’d pulled 10-15 cc of fluid out of him and they had a tube down into his stomach to help remove air. After we got filled in by his nurse and visited with him for a bit, they wheeled me to my room. Even seeing all of the babies who were much worse off than ours, it was so hard to leave him and go upstairs.

He was in the NICU for a total of about 48 hours and was improving steadily over that time. They ran blood work to check for infection in case there was another reason he was having breathing problems initially, but it all came back good. By the time I was able to get out of bed and go see him around 4:00 the next morning, he was off the CPAP machine and breathing room air.

I was able to go down Tuesday afternoon and nurse him and he did really well. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit him as much as I would’ve liked as they were really concerned about my blood pressure (and threatening to send me downstairs for a magnesium drip for 24 hours to prevent seizures if it didn’t improve quickly), but they were able to get it under control with blood pressure medication. Ryan visited him and got updates from the nurses in the NICU and he was released and able to join us in our room Wednesday morning. We went home as a family of five (!!) as scheduled Thursday afternoon!

Ellie Claire’s Birth Story

I had been having what I thought might’ve been contractions off and on since Sunday morning but they weren’t bad at all so I wasn’t sure that they were really contractions. Norm was nervous because we had a big snowstorm move in on Tuesday and it was bad enough that they sent me home from work early that afternoon.

Sometime around 1:00 Wednesday morning, I started feeling what I thought might’ve been real contractions. I got up about once an hour because I was uncomfortable, but I was still convinced that they’d probably go away so I never woke Norm up. Around 5:30 I finally got up and went to the living room. As I was opening the front door to see how much snow we’d gotten, Norm came in and peeked out. I said, “hmmm…it’s no good”. He said, “it’s no good? Why, are you feeling bad?”. I said, “um, kind of”. He looked worried and I explained that I thought I’d maybe been having contractions since about 1:00. We debated skipping my doctors appointment because of the weather and going straight to the hospital if I decided I was really in labor.

Around 6:00, Rodney came in the tractor and plowed out our driveway. We wouldn’t have been able to get out otherwise. He said we’d had about 10” or so and it was drifting pretty bad. Norm didn’t tell him I was having contractions, but he said he thought we’d probably be able to get to my appointment. Luckily, in the next 30 minutes or so, the county plowed our road four times.

Ellie's Birth Story

While I took a shower and got ready, Norm anxiously went through my last-minute packing list and packed up everything in our hospital bags and put them in the car. We left home around 7:00. I started timing my contractions on my phone and they were about 30 seconds long and 5 – 5 1/2 minutes apart. It took us about an hour and 45 minutes to get to Terre Haute. We stopped in Clinton so I could go to the bathroom and get something to eat because I was afraid if they admitted me I wouldn’t get to eat the rest of the day.

Ellie's Birth Story

At my 9:00 appointment Dr. Hammons checked me and said I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. His nurse laughed at my little fist pump. He said he could send me across the street to the hospital to be admitted and would come break my water to really get things going, or we could go spend some time in town, but he really didn’t want us to go home. I told him that I didn’t want to end up on Pitocin so we could go walk the mall or something and he said, “yeah, you’d better go walk then.” Off we went. Norm and I called and texted our families and I sent a text to a coworker to let them know I was probably starting my maternity leave right then. We went through the Starbucks drive-thru so I could get a frappuccino and banana bread. My dad called and they thought it was hilarious that I was having Starbucks.

Ellie's Birth Story

We went to Babies R Us and walked around for a little while and bought a couple things, then got to the mall around 11:00. Norm got lunch at the food court and we started walking. We took pictures in a photobooth and walked all the way to the other end of the mall. A store employee met us in the aisle and asked, “are you timing them?”. When I said “yes, ma’am”, she said, “I thought so! Good luck!”. By that time, Norm was getting nervous and thought we’d better head back toward the car. My contractions were getting stronger and a little longer. It took us a while to get back to the car because I had to really slow down and sometimes stop when a contraction would come.

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

We drove back to the hospital and parked across the street. I was convinced they were going to tell me I was still only 4 cm, so we sat in the car while I ate my banana bread and texted people that we were headed into the hospital. Finally Norm got annoyed that we were still sitting around in the car and decided it was time for us to go in. We had to wait a few minutes for someone to come to the admitting desk and then do the admission paperwork. They asked if I wanted a wheelchair to get back to labor and delivery and I said, “I walked across the street from the parking lot, I’m pretty sure I can walk down the hall”.

We got back to L&D triage at 1:30. The nurse put the contraction monitor and the fetal heart monitor on my belly and then checked to see how far I was dilated. Her eyes got big and she laughed and said, “ooookay, you’re at 8 cm with a bulging bag of water. Were you planning on doing this naturally??”. I said, “well, I thought I would try until this morning when the contractions really got going and now I’m not sure”. Another nurse came in and she told her, “she just got here and she’s at 8 with a bulging bag of water” and laughed. The other nurse went away and then came right back and said, “the anesthesiologist is going into a c-section in just a few minutes. You can get an epidural right now, or it’ll be too late. Do you want it?”. I was really undecided and I looked at Norm and he said, “you’ve made it this far without it” and the nurse agreed. I said, “well, I’m pretty sure it won’t actually kill me to do it naturally, so…okay, let’s try it”. I told Norm, “you’d better call your mom. It looks like they might miss this”. While he called her, I texted my family. My dad and step-mom were in Arkansas driving back from vacation.

Ellie's Birth Story

Within just a few minutes, the nurse put a saline lock in my hand, put me in a wheelchair, and pushed me into a delivery room. The contractions were really starting to get painful so I laid on my side and squeezed the bed rail and Norm’s hand with each one. I told the nurse that I didn’t think I was actually going to throw up, but that I felt a little nauseous so she gave me a sick bag and told me it was because I was breathing too fast during the contractions. I tried to focus on slowing down my breathing, but felt myself losing control. I asked Norm to get our 30-week ultrasound picture out of my bag and I turned on my labor and delivery playlist on my phone. I put it on shuffle and the first song that played was “Be OK” by Ingrid Michaelson (“I just wanna be OK, be OK, be OK…”) and Norm and the nurse both laughed.

Ellie's Birth Story

The nurse said she would give us a little time and stepped out of the room. With the next contraction, I felt my water break and it hurt. I told Norm that my water broke and he frantically pushed the call button. The nurse came back and checked me and said the fluid was clear. Norm kept spoon feeding me ice chips and adjusting the wet wash cloth on my head. She checked me again and said I was still at 8 cm. I was so disappointed. The contractions were really hurting and I asked if it was too late for an epidural. Norm laughed and the nurse said, “yes, it’s too late and you’re doing this anyway”. Norm kept telling me, “you’re doing it honey”. I kept saying, “I’m so stupid, I’m SO stupid! Why would I do this?”. The nurse said, “you’d be upset with me if I let you get an epidural now, but it’s too late anyway”.

Ellie's Birth Story

A little later I started feeling like I needed to push. She checked me again and said I still had a little bit of a cervical lip. With my next few contractions I started pushing uncontrollably. It was the wildest feeling to have my body doing it without me trying. I panicked because I’d heard you shouldn’t push when you have a cervical lip but the nurse assured me that it was okay and said with the next contraction she would try to push it away. I was nervous because I knew it would hurt, but she did it and it worked.

She told me it was time to really push and that when I had a contraction to take two deep breaths and blow them out, then pull my legs back and push. Every now and then the nurse would step away to get something ready in the room and a contraction would come and I would panic a little and lose my concentration. Norm kept telling me when to take a deep breath and when to push and cheering me on when I’d give up a little too early. In between contractions the nurse would have me take a deep breath and hold it to get me to slow my breathing down.

A few minutes into pushing the door opened and I heard the nurse say, “oh, are visitors okay?”. I said “NO!” and the door closed. I asked Norm who it was and he said, “it’s okay, it was just Mom and Tiff”. I said, “oh no, I hope they don’t think I was rude” and he and the nurse both laughed and said they were pretty sure they’d understand.

Eventually I heard the nurse press a button and say, “we need Dr. Hammons and a baby nurse in here”. Norm told me later that it scared him when she asked for a baby nurse because he thought something was wrong, but I knew it just meant we were getting close. Dr. Hammons came in and said, “hey guys, you’re back. That was quick!”. I pushed for several contractions while he checked me and told me he could see the baby’s head. After a while the nurse said, “I can see this much of your baby’s head” and held up her fingers to make about the size of a quarter. That seemed like SO little to me and it felt like I had so far to go but a little while later I asked her about how much longer she thought and she said maybe just two contractions.

With each contraction, I took my deep breaths and pushed as hard as I could. It was the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life, but with each contraction I just concentrated on making progress and getting three good pushes in. Eventually the extreme pain was not going away in between contractions and Dr. Hammons said we were really close.

Finally, he told me that on the next push I was going to push out my baby’s head. It was excruciating. Once her head was out I couldn’t stop myself from continuing to push. Her shoulders hurt even worse, but then her little body just slithered out and there was Dr. Hammons holding a little person. He held her up and it was the weirdest feeling. Like after all these years of waiting and months of pregnancy and hours of labor, I didn’t think about the fact that there would be a little person in the room at the end of it. It was just bizarre.

She didn’t cry immediately but Dr. Hammons cleaned her up a little and I asked if she was okay and he said yes, she was perfect. He asked if Daddy wanted to cut the cord and I asked the nurse to take a picture. She started to cry and they put her on my stomach and put a warm blanket over us. She was wide-eyed and looking at me and through teary eyes I told her, “Happy Birthday Ellie”.

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

The next half hour involved nursing, stitching me up (I had a second degree tear), and getting Ellie cleaned up, weighed, and measured. We visited with Norm’s family and my step-brother and sister-in-law before they took us up to our post-partum room where we settled in for our two-night stay.

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie's Birth Story

Ellie Claire Norman was born at 3:35pm on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was a 7 pound 5 ounce, 20” long successful natural childbirth. I cannot thank Dr. Hammons and the fine staff and nurses at Union Hospital and our families enough for all they’ve done for us.

Words cannot express the gratitude I have for my husband and best friend for being the best labor coach and companion I could ever ask for. During my pregnancy I couldn’t imagine him ever being a better husband or me loving him any more. Ellie’s birth day and the four weeks since proved me wrong. I would be unbearably lost without him.

We are now a family of three.

Birthday Girl

Our niece Madison’s first birthday was this week and we went to her house yesterday for her party.

Madison's 1st Birthday

Madison and Mommy did a little gift-opening outside, but Madison wasn’t too sure about any of it.

Madison's 1st Birthday
Madison's 1st Birthday

She wouldn’t hear of having any cake in the high chair. She preferred to smash it, drop it on the concrete, then eat it from there. 🙂

Madison's 1st Birthday

Birthday girl also had a little ice cream.

Madison's 1st Birthday
Madison's 1st Birthday

After her ice cream, Maddie had had enough of the party scene so all the guys went back to the field and we left her to relax with her presents. Such a nice afternoon to celebrate Miss M!

Baby/Pregnancy Mini Album Kits Now in the Shop

Baby/Pregnancy Mini Album Kits are now in my Etsy shop!

Pregnancy/Baby Mini Album Kits

It is made up of a variety of patterned papers, cardstock, a transparency, an envelope, vintage paper, and hand-stamped items.

Pregnancy/Baby Mini Album Kits

Pregnancy/Baby Mini Album Kits


There are also label and word stickers, journaling cards, a chipboard embellishment, a flair button, and custom-designed embellishments.

Pregnancy/Baby Mini Album Kits

Fill your mini with details of your pregnancy, or use it to capture memories of your little one. It would also make a great baby shower gift.

Pregnancy/Baby Mini Album Kits

I am planning to release more books for the winter season. Sign up for my email newsletter on the right to know as soon as they’re available, and to get a subscriber-only discount code! And don’t forget to leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Your feedback will make the next books even better!

Six Weeks

I’m going to warn you: this is not a happy post. So if you’re looking for my normal happy-go-lucky rambling, you might want to skip this and come back next week. Just fair warning.

Last week I was six weeks pregnant. I started having complications that I won’t go into here, but I knew something was wrong. Everyone said it was normal, tons of women on the pregnancy forum I’d been looking at experienced it and went on to have normal pregnancies and healthy babies. But this was my pregnancy, so I called the OB. The nurse told me that 90% of their patients experience the same thing, but that they’d have me come in for bloodwork twice and compare the hormone levels. If you’re pregnant the hormone level is supposed to double every 48 hours. She also told me that if there was something wrong, there would be nothing they could do. So I went in for bloodwork on Thursday and sat in the waiting room full of very pregnant women and babies. And I knew. And Tuesday morning when the nurse called me at work, before she even spoke I knew. My hormone levels had dropped, which meant I was no longer pregnant. The doctor wanted to see me right away, so we went yesterday morning.

Yesterday went as well as could be expected. I was only 6 weeks along, so I shouldn’t have to have a DNC. The doctor answered all of our questions before we even asked them. He told us that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. He told us that I don’t have more of a chance of future miscarriages just because I’ve had one. It was nothing I did and there was nothing anyone could’ve done to prevent it. I will have to go back for blood tests once a week for a while to make sure my hormone levels go back to zero, then we can start trying again in a couple of months.

As sad as all this is, I do feel okay. We had only known about my pregnancy for about a week and a half before I started having complications, so it still didn’t feel very real yet. I’m glad that it happened this early if it had to happen. So…we will move on.

From the beginning of my pregnancy, I had been praying for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. When I started having complications and they were getting worse, Norm kept telling me “Babe it’s out of our hands. It’s in God’s hands and there’s nothing we can do about it”. That night I started praying that He’d just give me peace with whatever situation He put us in. And you know what? I feel like He’s given me that.

I post this not to try to bring everyone down, but because this is now part of my personal story. A part of my story that I never hoped to have, that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But it will make me who I am going forward, it will shape the way I view the world.

I also post this in hopes that it will help someone that reads it. When the word miscarriage is brought up, you feel so alone. Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of support and my husband has absolutely been my rock over the last week. But I don’t think women realize how many other women there are that know exactly how they feel. We’re all part of this secret club, but really if we knew how many others have been exactly where we are, we might feel just a bit less alone.

Crafty Wednesday: Monthly Project

This week’s Crafty Wednesday project is the set of pages I make for my Monthly Project every month. You’ll see I ran out of steam on the journaling and called it good even though it’s shorter than normal. We didn’t do much in February and I pretty much napped through the end of the month, so there wasn’t much to say. 😉

2011 Monthly Project | February

2011 Monthly Project | February

For those that haven’t already heard: yes, I’m pregnant! We found out a couple weeks ago and I’m 6 weeks this week. So far, so good…lots of napping but no morning sickness and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it stays away. And FYI, in the photo above that is obviously no baby bump yet…just chocolate chip cookie chub. =)