Friday, August 29, 2014


Evie has many nicknames for her brother: Deck, Deckal, Decko, Decka-lolo etc.

One of my favorites is when he's "in trouble" and she yells, "deck-UH-lynn!"

On the other hand, her favorite is to call him either decka-lynn-uh or deckalina, which I'm sure he will appreciate greatly when he's older ;)

Anyway, this morning I ended up with both of them sleeping in my bed (I seriously don't even know when that happened), but Declan started stirring, and as soon as Evie heard him she popped awake to play with him. They were both so happy to see each other, it was adorable. She climbed right over me so she could see him and said, "good morning, Decalily!"

Lol, I almost wish Declan was a girl, that nickname is super cute.

I hope she always loves him this much :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


It's finally happened! I never thought it would! My child is so stubborn, lol!

Evie is so determined and driven that she has done a LOT of things early; walking, talking, etc., when she has her mind set to do something, she will NOT stop until she's done it. So, I was very interested to see how her personality would effect the whole business of getting her potty trained... And turns out, her drive was actually a detriment in the potty department. Figures, haha.

She's been really interested in the potty for the last year or so. She loved reading books about potty training and watching episodes of shows with potty themes, but she never seemed to really want to try it herself. We got a potty seat that attached to our toilet and could be flipped up when not in use when she first started being interested, but that ended up being a flop. She would sit sometimes, but never went and the stupid thing was a huge pain.

Then a few weeks before Declan was born I bought her a little potty (like in her book). She sat on that one too, but even if I knew she had to go, she wouldn't do it on the potty, she'd wait until she got her diaper back on. I didn't really want to push the subject while huge and pregnant or when I had a newborn, so we didn't get serious until the beginning of June.

And we tried.

I read blog post after blog post guaranteeing results with their "3 day" methods. She was interested again and I was so sure we could do it. We bought panties and got her all excited about a "potty party", with chips and cookies and juice boxes. The party was fun, but it was still so tough to get her to even just sit on the potty. The next day we had a bunch of accidents and the next she refused to try at all. The more I tried to convince her, the more she dug in her heels. We had a bag of awesome little prizes and made a reward chart; I was even reduced to offering to buy her an app for the kindle every time she went potty... aaaand nothing. She was not enticed by any of it. 

Frustrating? Yes, yes it was.

You see, the problem with Evie is that she has a lot that she wants to be doing. She's got so much that she's driven to accomplish and she just can't be bothered to stop what she's doing to use the potty every single time she needs to pee. This is also why I can't get her to nap no matter what I try.


Anyway, I was feeling pretty hopeless, and I will admit, had sort of given in to the idea that my child would be wearing diapers til she graduated highschool, but then, about a week or two ago, I was struck with some sudden inspiration:

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the mother of all potty training incentives:

The Elsa dress.

This is my child who runs around singing "Let it Go" for about 60% of her waking hours and will answer to the name Elsa (and occasionally Anna). As soon as she saw it, I had her rapt attention. She immediately wanted to know what she had to do to get that dress.

At first I tried telling her that if she did all her peepees and poopies in the potty for three whole days, she could have it. She ran straight to the potty, sat there until she produced something, and then wanted her dress. I tried explaining the deal to her, but she just got more and more frustrated with the whole thing and I could tell it wasn't going to work. So we had a slight change of plan.

Instead, I told her that every time she went in the potty, she could have a turn with the Elsa dress. After her turn was up we hung the dress up on her window in her bedroom, so she could always see it, but couldn't reach it (though she did try climbing up there a few times, haha).

The first day, it worked wonders! She WANTED to go potty because she WANTED that dress! She needed it so she could sing "snow glows white on the mountain tonight" (as she calls it). She would try all the time just so she could get a turn. It was really cute.

The next day I kept asking her if she had to go, and she would get mad at me every time I asked. I was super scared that we were going to have a bunch of accidents because she wouldn't try when I asked her to, but turns out, she really just didn't have to go and was annoyed with me bothering her. When she had to go, she ran to the potty and did her thing.

After a week with a couple little accidents here and there, I'm willing to call it, she's officially potty trained!!

I am so proud of my hardworking Evie girl ;)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Declan's Blessing Day

Our Family!
We finally got to bless Declan! He's only almost 4 months old now... We were waiting to do it when Grandpa Pat would be able to participate (since he didn't get to come out when baby boy was born!), so here we are! 

Since Declan was so old, he was actually able to wear the same blessing outfit that his uncle Jo wore (he was a March baby who was also blessed a couple months later, apparently!), it was imported by Papa Gary straight from Italy, so that was pretty cool!

It being summer and with so many people coming to help us with this special occasion, it got pretty darn hot very quickly, and by the time we got everyone there, poor Declan was tired again and therefore very fussy.

The bishop had all the great-grandparents say a few words before the blessing, which was very special, and I really appreciated. Then Karl, with the help of so many people we love, gave Declan a name and a blessing. 

And Declan decided to SCREAM the whole time.

So funny, because he is such a laid-back kid! This was totally uncharacteristic of him, and of course his melt-down had to happen during this particular event, haha!

It was a short, but sweet and special blessing. I feel so very happy and blessed to have our little Declan Kelsier Smith as a part of our family!


Thinking I may have an issue with mold?? I'm sooooo miserable!
(sorry for the scary picture!)
Pollen count taken from

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dear Waddlers...

Dear VERY pregnant women waddling around in public places (and there seem to be a lot of you),

You may have caught me looking at you, and I truly hope you weren't offended. Your pregnant mind probably jumped to all sorts of conclusions about what I was thinking, but honestly it was totally out of empathy.

I feel your pain! It is still so very fresh on my mind!

I just wanted to walk up to you and tell you congratulations on being so close to one of the biggest, most amazing events of your life, and to tell you that it's coming soon. It may feel like you'll be waddling for the rest of eternity and that your baby will never come out, but it'll come and go before you know it! I wanted to hug you and tell you that you can do it! You can make it to the finish line; you're almost there!!

But that would have been weird...

So I just looked at you instead.

I'm very sorry if I offended you in any way.


~Me (a very recent former waddler)

Friday, July 4, 2014

A year ago today

Exactly one year ago tonight, Karl and I sat together on our front lawn, watching the stadium of fire fireworks, and trying to comprehend how our lives were about to change. 

That morning, before going up to midway for family 4th of July festivities, we'd run out to wal-mart and bought a test to confirm what we already suspected... Baby #2 was on the way! 

At that moment Declan was nothing more than two lines on a pregnancy test and a whole heap of hopes and day-dreams. 

We had no idea if our baby would be a boy or girl, we had no idea who he was (or what he'd be named...). I had no idea how I'd handle this pregnancy, or whether it would be easier or tougher than the last. We didn't know how we'd handle two kids or how Evie would do with the transition.

And now here we are one year later, the four of us standing on the side walk in front of our house, watching fireworks going off in the park. 

Rolly polly little Declan is a tiny person with his very own opinions and a distinct personality. It really seems like he's just always been in our family. Evie and Declan love each other so much. Evie takes care of him and loves him (when she's not stealing his toys), and he just thinks she is the coolest person in the world!

I'm just so amazed at the difference one year can make (I know, I say it all the time), and the wonderfully crazy things that happen in life. I don't even know how to articulate what I'm feeling right now... 

I guess I'm just realizing that I spend a lot of time worrying and stressing about a future that I can't possibly predict, and I forget to spend time living and keeping memories of the moments that I'm in. 

This time next year, who knows where we'll be, but I know that I want to be able to look back and be happy with the memories I'm making today.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Struggle: a tale of health, or a lack thereof.

This is me... I don't look particularly sick, do I?

I have to apologize for my negative attitude lately. I don't mean to complain so much, but I am truly struggling right now and I'm realizing that no one really knows or understands why. 

Totally my own fault, I'll admit it. 

The thing is, I have some health issues that I don't like to talk about because:

#1. Until very recently I didn't have many answers.


#2. I'm tired. I'm tired of people thinking I'm overly-dramatic, a hypochondriac, or a crazy person. I'm tired of hearing through the grapevine that so-and-so said I'm a liar or an attention seeker, just making things up for sympathy. I'm tired of feeling like a weirdo. I know I don't look like I have anything wrong with me, but that doesn't make me a faker. It's hard enough living with something that's stealing away parts of your life and having no answers, but then to have everyone from doctors to random acquaintances being... well... the exact OPPOSITE of supportive, it's really quite demoralizing. 

So I just don't talk about it. 

However, in my new quest to be more honest about my life and struggles, I've decided to finally tell my story. 

It's long, but here goes...

I've been in pain for as long as I can remember. When I was little I honestly didn't realize that it wasn't normal to be in constant pain, I thought everyone lived like that. I was tired all the time, I didn't have as much energy as all the other kids. I dreaded activities that took a lot of movement. I had my first migraine at age 7. I was pathetically skinny even though I ate a ton. I had palpitations and an incredibly fast heart rate. I was very clumsy, my ankles would give out for no reason, and it seemed like I could injure myself just walking down the street... BUT I was flexible. My arms and legs were hyper extended, I could fold myself in half backward, and put my elbows behind my head... Always great tricks to have in your repertoire as a kid ;)

Eventually, my mother realized that something was up and took me to the doctor. 

Just before my 11th birthday I was diagnosed with graves disease, an autoimmune thyroid disorder that generally affects middle aged women. 

After about 4 years on medication, (with my mom fighting the endocrinologist to keep her [the dr.] from "killing" my thyroid and dooming me to meds for the rest of my life), I finally went into remission! I've had a few relapses since, and I'm just waiting for the day that my thyroid gives out all together, but for the most part I've been very blessed in that area. 

Unfortunately, going into remission didn't solve all my problems. I did feel a ton better, but I still hurt, I had headaches all the time, I was anxious and stressed, I felt sick every time I ate, and I still had palpitations, a racing heart beat when I exerted myself even a little, and weird chest pains.

My awesome mother took me to the doctor for so many random complaints over the years, for everything from the funny way I walked to the odd bruising that once appeared on my chin out of nowhere. I'm so very grateful she took my complaints seriously. However, I never found any answers to why I was the way I was. 

My pediatrician did tests to rule out arthritis or other diseases as the cause of my joint pain... and came to the conclusion that it was most likely just growing pains. He was kind enough to send me to see an orthopedic specialist just to be sure. 

After some x-rays and exams, HE told me that I was perfect. There was absolutely no reason that I should be in pain. As flattering as that was to hear, I was actually still in pain (apparently my body didn't get the memo) and he just sent me on my way with no other options or leads.

I was so frustrated. 

In high school I was trying to be a ballerina and be on the ballroom dance team... I loved dancing so much, but it was tough. Besides the pain and little injuries it caused me, I started getting chest pains that were more than a little worrisome. Complications with the heart are scary! 

Once again, we went to my pediatrician, and he sent us to the cardiologist. I had a bunch of tests done and even wore a heart monitor for a day, but they couldn't find anything really wrong. I should have been fine, as far as they could tell. The only really odd thing they noticed was that my heart rate tended to go from abnormally low to very high, but apparently that didn't mean much to them. So, the conclusion? It was probably just stress.

At this point I felt so defeated. I felt so incredibly guilty that my parents had spent time and money (which I knew they didn't have much of) on doctors and specialists, just to have nothing be wrong with me. I was afraid they'd be mad at me for wasting time and money with my silly problems that were apparently nothing. I started to think that maybe I WAS just making it up.
Maybe I just wanted attention so badly that I was actually creating these symptoms in my body.

Maybe it really was just stress and if I could just stop being so dumb and get over it, I'd be fine.

Or maybe I was just crazy.

I kind of gave up trying to figure out what was wrong for a long time and developed a complete distrust of medical professionals.

Then I started college. I was dancing for at least an hour or two every day trying to become the dancer I had always wanted to be, and trying to get good grades in some tough classes so I could get into the nursing program. 

I was incredibly stressed, physically and mentally.

I started having fainting and near fainting spells, and at the insistence of concerned family members and friends, I went to the student health center. The doctor there told me I had syncope... or "fainting" in other words. He couldn't tell me why, but said it was probably stress.


One day after a pointe class I suddenly got this excruciating pain in my foot. I walked back to my dorm on the other side of campus in tears because it hurt so incredibly much.

My dear mommy took me to a chiropractor/sports specialist we knew from the ward and he told me that a bone had slipped out of place in my foot. He put it back and taped me up to keep it from happening again.

Now, I'm no doctor, but it seems to me that bones shouldn't just "slip" out willy nilly. I knew you could dislocated things if you had some trauma, but it was just a normal ballet class. Nothing special had happened. It seemed odd, but I just figured it was par for the course when it comes to living in my body.

In my short college dance career I went on to sublux a bone in my wrist on two more occasions and have dozens of various injuries, including years of achilles tendinosis that refused to heal. 

*sigh* (though, I know I should be grateful I could do as much as I did!)

On the bright side, after some research on my own (thank you internet!) I did finally get a diagnosis of IBS to explain my stomach pains and how sick I feel all the time, which felt like an absolute triumph at the time. It was short lived, however. I realized eventually that there was not only no known cause or cure, but doctors really don't even know much about managing symptoms :/

This did lead me to more and more research which is how I ended up finding fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I read so much and got pretty excited because it seemed like such a good fit. So many of the odd associated health issues that come along with fibro seemed to line up with my list of complaints.

But once again, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue have no real known cause, many doctors just treat them like a "junk" diagnosis when they don't know what is really going on. Some doctors think they are just caused by stress and are "all in your head"

So honestly, even with the fibro answer, I kind of felt like I was no better off than when I started.
I've struggled so much feeling like a failure as a spouse because I have a hard time "doing it all". I have felt so bad because I can't do things that Karl enjoys with him, like dodge ball or anything physical. 

Anyway, (relatively) recently, a relative of mine contacted me on Facebook and told me about a rare genetic disorder that she and her daughters have called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (type 3) because she thought I might have it too. It causes a defect in a person's collagen which makes people hypermobile (or double jointed and very flexible, in other words), but also causes wide spread pain, easy injuring, frequent dislocations/subluxations, skin issues, dysautonomia (problems with the nervous system and blood pressure/heart stuff), easy bruising, IBS, anxiety, and more. It's often misdiagnosed in as fibromyalgia and "growing pains" in children. Collagen is a component of every system in the body, so if it's faulty, it has an effect on the entire body. 

All the stories I've read from people with this disease have been so similar to mine! It's been like the pieces of my life long puzzle have been falling into place, I just needed this one last piece to make it all make sense. I really, truly believe that I've finally found my answer. 

I want so much to get a diagnosis but currently my insurance doesn't cover anything besides primary care visits and I can't afford to pay for a specialist or any testing on my own. And then again, not many doctors are well informed about EDS and the thought of talking to another doctor and being brushed off, talked over, or told I'm fine, gives me enormous amounts of anxiety. 

So here I am. 

Right now I'm having a very hard time. I do have good periods of time where my symptoms are so mild I start to wonder if I've just been a huge baby in the past.... and then I get hit with a "flare" and I remember exactly why I "thought" I was suffering. 

I'm currently in the middle of one of those flares. 

My pain has been so bad lately that even with pain killers taking the edge off, I still can't sleep because of the pain. I lie awake at night knowing that any minute one of the little ones is going to be up, but all I can do is hurt. I get lightheaded when I stand up and I get headaches and feel weak and sick if I go out in the heat. I feel so sick all the time and I have no energy to play with Evie like she wants me to. I have a type of tendonitis in my wrist that won't go away, and as I take care of my kiddos I can feel my other wrist starting to go too. I dread Declan's cries because the thought of lifting him one more time makes my arms want to fall off. He's only three and a half months, but he's already too heavy for me. It all wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have two little ones to take care of, but I do. 

I feel so guilty that I can't take care of them the way they deserve. I feel guilty that we eat out so much because I know it's horrible for us, but I have no energy to cook AND take care of little ones all day. I feel guilty because I just stay at home all day and I still can't take care of everything. I feel horrible for needing to depend on my hubby so much when he's already got so much on his plate. He didn't know what he was getting into when he married me. I feel guilty knowing that if I do have EDS, then my children have a 50% chance of having it too. I don't want them to have this life. I feel like a failure as a mother, as a spouse, and even as a living person.  

I think all the mental stuff is probably worse than the pain right now...

On the other hand, I think Karl and my babies are the only reason I'm still here. The only reason I haven't crawled into bed and stayed there until I withered away to nothing is the fact that they need me. It's all so hard, but they need me, and I love them so much.

Anyway... that was long. If you made it, congratulations! And thank you :)

I'm not saying all this for pity, though I guess that wouldn't be so bad, lol, I really just want, for the first time in my life, to have someone understand. To have someone know what I go through on a regular basis. To have people "get" that when I look put together, it's an incredible feat, and when I seem like I'm sitting around being lazy, it's all I can do to keep myself in one piece. 

I know I don't look sick or like I should be struggling, but I am. 

And I hate it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What is it like?

What is it like to not be in pain?
What is it like to not be constantly aware of each limb and joint because they aren't always aching, throbbing, tingling, or numb?
What is it like to be able to eat food without pain and discomfort?
What's it like to have the energy to care for your family... Or just yourself?
What is it like to dance, or even just walk, without injuring yourself?
What's it like to feel stable on your own two feet?
What is it like to be able to go out on a summer day and not feel sick, weak, and dizzy?
Or to stand up without feeling faint?
What is it like to feel like the desires of your heart, your dreams, are actually attainable???
I know I should be grateful for the gift of a mortal body, but sometimes it feels so much like a curse...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Museum of Natural Curiosity

We went to the brand new Museum of Natural Curiosity today! We got there a little later in the afternoon than I'd have liked--after about an hour the place was PACKED--but Evie still had a great time. There are so many things to see and do, I was very impressed! Here are some pictures of our many adventures ;)

Hangin' with my little buddy :) Love my view when I've got him in the carrier!

He actually slept most of the time, just content to be carried around, but the few minutes at a time that he was awake, he was very charming, haha.

Can you spot my dare-devils?? Evie LOVED the rope bridge/climbing tower thing; it was one of her favorite parts, I think! Didn't bother her at all that she was up so high... Definitely doesn't get that from her acrophobic mother ;)

Evie loved the Noah's Ark fountain so much, she ended up in it! Too bad it was a slightly chilly day!! We ended up taking her clothes off, wrapping her in one of Declan's blankets, and heading home. Poor thing really wanted to keep playing, but she was naked and we'd been there for 3.5 hours!!


 So much fun!! We're super glad we splurged and spent the money to buy a year pass, I get the feeling we'll definitely be here a lot!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Evie's First Sleep-Over ;)

Amaia decided that she was going to have a sleep over at our house. She's been planning it for over a week. She brought it up while we were at their house the other day, and I totally thought she'd forget about it, buuuuut no, haha! I'm seriously amazed at her determination and her amazing memory (I think Evie takes after her!!).

Anyway, she came over and Evie had to be woken up from a VERY late nap... They watched the Lorax together and played for awhile. Evie thought it was great. Maia even brought her FAVORITE book (Green Eggs and Ham) which Evie now loves, and Evie (who won't normally eat breadsticks with out her beloved "pizza sauce" to dip them in) decided she doesn't like sauce anymore because Maia didn't want any... I can't believe the peer pressure thing is starting already!

Time for bed rolled around and THAT is when the nightmare began... Evie was super hyper because Maia was there and not tired enough to sleep because of her late nap. Karl was getting super frustrated with her, and I told her that I was going to call Grandmama to come get Mai if she didn't go to sleep... So Evie decided that she'd rather have Maia go home than have to go to bed herself, haha! I had to explain to her that it doesn't work that way.

Eventually I did get them both to sleep, but it was QUITE the process!! I'm glad Evie loves her auntie though ;)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Evie's 1st Injury

This is my daughter:

She constantly climbs, jumps, tumbles, and basically has no fear, so I was positive that we'd be making a visit to the doctor for an injury sooner or later (I'm surprised we made it as long as we did!)--I just didn't think it would be for something so boring! Lol

We were just sitting in the living room and there were a bunch of toys out. She started running towards me to show me something, tripped, and fell head first into the sharp little corner on the entertainment center. I watched in horror as her forehead hit the edge, and I heard the "thunk" of the impact telling me just how hard she'd hit it.

I scooped her up quickly and tried to assess the damage. The cut wasn't long, maybe half an inch, but it was fairly deep and gaped a bit. So we called the after-hours nurse and she told us to come in. I was so worried she'd need stitches and it would be a traumatizing experience, but luckily, the doctor was able to glue it up nicely with no needles involved!

She was actually fine with the whole doctor's office experience, and was even looking forward to seeing the doctor... until he walked in. That was probably the most traumatizing part.
The doctor was a very large man with a very big voice wearing a very bright shirt. The moment he started talking to her she burst into tears, poor thing!

We did manage to get her calmed down enough to get her patched up, and by the time we got home she was running around like nothing happened. She even convinced daddy to take her to the park so she could fit in a few more dangerous feats before bedtime ;)

I'm pretty sure in her two years of life she's stressed at least a few years off of mine, lol.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Baby Love

Poor Declan got abandoned in the bouncy chair while I attempted to get some dishes done--they were REALLY starting to pile up--and he was so incredibly upset and offended by it that daddy had to come rescue him ;)

Karl was walking him around in his signature "baby hold" and they were just staring at each other. I came by for a minute since they were being so cute and I hate missing stuff like that, lol.

As soon as Declan saw me, his eyes got big, he turned his little body towards me, and reached out with one shaky little arm, trying to grab me with his tiny hand. It wasn't quite as coordinated an effort as he would have liked, I'm sure, (it looked a lot like the attempts he makes at getting his fist in his mouth, lol) but he was trying! 

It really blows me away that at a month old, this tiny little person recognizes certain people and things. Even more so that with the small amount of control he has over his little body, he still used everything he had to reach out to me. He knows me, loves me, and needs me. Babies are amazing!

As challenging and even frustrating as it can be sometimes, I feel very blessed to be able to be a mother. It's an awesome experience!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

One month old!!

My bitty-baby boy is one month old today! And what a long, sleep deprived month it's been...

Currently, the routine around here goes something like this:

Every time I finally get Declan to sleep during the day, put him down and try to get something done,  Evie has to immediately start smothering him with her "loving" (ie. kissing his hands, talking in a super high pitched voice, and trying to hug him by putting her entire body weight on him), this, of course, makes him cry every time, and I'm back to holding him and not getting anything done, then, about 8 o'clock, Evie goes down... but pops up 3 or 4 more times before I end up going to bed, and at least once after I fall asleep, on the other hand, Declan waits for me to get into my sleep cycle before he starts fussing inconsolably sometime around 4 am and his crying usually wakes Evie at about 7 am, and she comes in to my room and basically sits right in the way with her kindle games while I try to get Declan back to sleep, and she is perfectly content and absorbed by that activity until Declan FINALLY passes out after hours of fussing and squirming. 

And I think I'm going to doze for a bit. 

I am wrong. 

Just as I'm succumbing to the zombifying exhaustion, Evie decides she needs to love her brother, and the whole cycle starts over again...

Like I said, loooong month, lol, but I do so love my little sleep-thieves ;) I can't imagine my life without them. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Declan is finally HERE!

As of 2:26pm on Monday, March 10th, Declan Kelsier Smith is officially on the outside... and we could not be more thrilled about it!

His timing couldn't have been more perfect; he came at exactly 39 weeks which happened to be the first day of daddy's spring break (just as I had been hoping and praying for), and my labor even started early in the morning, just like I'd been planning (for Evie's sake). He's already such an obedient child ;)

For about the last week I've been having more and more contractions. They seemed to be getting a little worse every day, but after my severe disappointment at my 38 week appointment (no progression from 37 weeks and stupid contractions all the time) I was trying not to hope. I did notice, however, over a couple of days, that I had started to lose some of my "baby sealant". That kind of got me excited... But I know it can still be weeks, so, blah.

Friday, we took Evie to the dino museum on a whim. I was feeling pent up /anxious and I think Evie was too, so we took a spontaneous family trip :) The whole time we were walking around the museum I was having some pretty good contractions that were a lot more "labor-like" in quality (...they hurt, lol). So, here I am thinking it's definitely coming, if not that day than maybe the next! Then we went home and nothing much more for the rest of the day.


Saturday, the weather was fantastic (60's and sunny!) so we decided to take a walk to get us all out of the house. We walked all the way to campus and back (a huge feat for me at this point). I was so hoping for more contractions like the day before, but no... All that walking and I mostly just got INCREDIBLY sore (Oh! Remind me to tell the story of how I tried to run across the street at nearly 9 months pregnant... it was hilarious).

Sunday we didn't go to church. I was still sore from the day before and feeling pretty sick (did I mention I'd been sick for 8 weeks straight at this point?), Evie was coughing and had a runny nose, and I was just tired and out of it. Also, I had been having contractions all morning... They were regular and definitely the worst they had been yet (minus maybe the museum contractions). Once again, I was trying to convince my brain that this was nothing, but then I noticed some "show" and at that point all was lost. I tried to tell Karl that something might be coming, without committing to it since I hate to be wrong, haha, but looking back, maybe I could have been a little bit more firm with it, lol!

I spent a lot of the day trying to clean up a bit and get some last minute organizing/tidying done and I packed some stuff for Evie. There was a lot more I should have done, but I was half afraid to jinx it and then I was just tired and didn't want to over-do it, just to have it not be the real thing... So I think I skipped the dishes, didn't take the gross garbage out, and didn't pack a hospital bag, haha!

That night we watched some Walking Dead, I tried a couple labor inducing activities, I worked half-heartedly on some thank you cards, and went to bed WAY too late... Though, not nearly as late as Karl, but I digress 

.Of course, by the time I fell asleep, the contractions I'd been having all day were nearly gone and I was starting to think I'd lose my mind if I had to go through this roller-coaster one more time.

At 3:45 Monday morning, Evie woke me up, and Karl was still on the computer... I told him to go to sleep, and went to take care of Evie and get her back in bed. I was feeling seriously irritated. I wasn't quite sure why, since I'm used to Evie getting me up in the middle of the night, and I was somehow not totally surprised Karl was still up (though he doesn't do that often, I'm sure he was thinking it was a great idea, seeing as it was the first day of his spring break). Anyway, I ended up lying down next to Evie to get her back down, and while there, I realized I was having contractions. 

Real ones... Painful ones...

They were about 7 minutes apart and they were very different in quality from the ones I'd been having before. 

This was finally IT, I just knew it!

I went back to bed with Karl and asked him if he was asleep yet. He wasn't, so I told him I was pretty sure I was in labor and that he should get as much sleep as possible ASAP. Which he did, WAY faster than I thought he would, considering I had just told him I was in labor. I tried to go back to sleep too. I figured that I must have been sleeping through contractions up until this point, so maybe I could do some relaxation stuff and get some more rest...

Hahahahaha... I'm funny.

I ended up in bed for probably a half hour worth of contractions and decided it was pointless. So, I got up, got myself ready between contractions, cleaned some more, got things ready, watched some early morning news show, and just worked through my contractions one at a time by myself.

At this point I was feeling very content, happy, and excited that it was finally happening, but still pretty relaxed. I was totally feeling all "earth-mother-y" and connecting with my baby and all that junk, as I worked through my contractions. 

I seriously felt like I was totally going to kick this labor things' butt.

Once again... HAHAHAHA.

By about 6am the contractions were starting to get tougher, so I finally attempted to wake Karl for some support, let my mom know this was probably it, and I texted my doula.
Anyway, when Karl got up he informed me that our car was on empty as of the night before, so I sent him out to get gas while I tried to print off our birth plan (which I'd planned to go over at our 39 week appointment, scheduled for 11:40 that day, lol), and get everything ready that I needed to take with us to the hospital. Yeah, we're awesome at being prepared ;) I must also mention that I had planned to pre-register at the hospital that day too... lol.

At 7am I finally called the doula and she headed down, and not too long after, we told my mom to come and we got Evie up. Poor thing was super cranky about being woken up! She was standing on her bed crying and moaning and groaning when I went in there, but as soon as Karl told her she was going to Grandmama's for the day because we were going to the hospital to get baby brother out, she perked right up! I asked if she wanted to get dressed and she said "yes!" and jumped right out of bed (definitely uncharacteristic of her, haha). Quickest mood turn-around she's ever had, I'm pretty sure.

Speaking of Evie, she was super cute while I was having contractions; everytime she noticed I was having one she would run over, hug me, and say "mommy needs hugs!" Not the most comfortable sometimes, but I loved it ;)

Stacey, our doula, arrived at around 8ish and my parents and Soni came not long after that. It was a little bit of a circus in our house with everybody here and Evie trying to grab some last minute toys to take with her, but it was fun... lol. Before they left, Karl and my dad gave me a blessing. I really don't remember what Karl said, except I do remember him saying that I would be able to ask for what I needed, which really stuck out to me at the time.

We worked through a bunch more contractions while Karl, my mom, and Stacey somehow got talking about vampire babies and Breaking Dawn, lol! 

I have to say, I really liked being able to have Karl physically support me more this time around. Being able to hug him or have him holding me during contractions was so nice. 

Anyway, at around 10ish, I was sitting on the couch leaning forward and hugging Karl during a contraction when I just started crying, for no good reason. I mean, it really hurt, but I was handling it just fine. I wasn't crying about the pain.

That's the point when we decided to make the trek to the hospital.

I bawled after every single contraction I had in the car, which was weird, because in between crying and contracting, my mood was totally fine! And, may I just say, contractions in the car stink.

We got to the hospital (where I had yet to register...) at around 10:30 ish and after a couple questions that I was not super in the mood to answer (lol... I was still crying between contractions), they brought me straight back to a labor room, got me a nurse and started getting everything set up! No triage for me, thank heavens, they decided I looked like I was in pretty active labor, lol!

Good ol' room 121
 Also, the room they brought me to just happened to be room 121... Which is where I had Evie! I thought it was pretty cool ;) Of all the rooms!

Since I hadn't registered, unfortunately, I got to sit there in bed for about a half hour, answering about a million questions while I was hooked up to the monitors to get a baseline and make sure baby was handling everything ok. I thought it was really interesting that I had been having intense contractions very close together, but the longer she asked me questions I literally watched as my contractions petered out. I've heard of that happening in all the natural birth books, but It was really interesting to experience it first hand. I wasn't quite sure whether I should be grateful for the break in contractions or incredibly annoyed at having my progress slowed down!! Either way, next time I'm going to be sure to register WAY ahead of time, lol.

Answering questions between contractions... Notice my hair is still in good shape at this point, lol.
When they first checked me at the hospital, I was at 5cm and nearly completely effaced. I had been  2cm and 70% a week before, and I'd like to think that I'd had some progress over that that week, but either way, I had dilated somewhere around 2 or 3 centimeters and done a little effacing in the 6 hours I'd been laboring so far. I will admit, I was a little disappointed with the progress I had made! With the way I was feeling, I was sure I'd be around 8cm! They checked me again like 30 minutes later and I was still a 5.

THAT really made me mad, because things started getting VERY intense as soon as they left me alone to get back to my laboring!

When they finally let me get up out of the bed (which was a horrible place to labor!!), the nurse, Lori (who was fantastic, by the way, total opposite of the last time around!) offered to get a birth ball for me and we tried that for a bit. It was a little awkward, and I don't think it worked quite as well as I would have liked, but I think that may be because it was kind of short! I don't think it was a good height for me.

After awhile of that, Stacey had me try standing and doing the "slow dance" thing with Karl, which I liked a lot, if only because it was one of the few times I could really be in close contact with him during the whole labor. Next time we do this I really want to work with Karl before hand so I can have him more involved. I think it really helped!

I really shouldn't have been frustrated about my progress, (this is why they tell you not to do cervical checks...) because things really WERE picking up speed. About an hour after they last checked, the midwife came in to check me again and I was at a 9 with a "bulgy bag"! 4 centimeters in about an hour and a half, when those first 2-3 took 6 hours!!

The midwife told us that we should break my water and I'd be pushing in no time!

I was hesitant to let her break my water at that point; it was something I had really debated all through my pregnancy, since that was when everything fell apart with Evie's birth. The midwife had said the exact same thing then too...

However, the promise of being able to get on with things was just too much for me and I agreed. The midwife "suited up" in prep for delivering this baby, and broke my water.

Now, this is how it was supposed to have gone: midwife breaks water, this causes baby's head to move down, engage more fully and put better pressure on the cervix, and therefore help to dilate that last centimeter much faster. And, when you get to a 10, theoretically, you're "ready" to push.

Sounds like a great plan, right?

This is what ACTUALLY happened: midwife broke my water, checked me, and I was suddenly at 8cm rather than 9... Baby's head did not engage when she broke my water because it was in the wrong position, and it had been my bag of waters that had been doing all the pushing on my cervix.

And I stayed at an 8 for more than an hour. 

The contractions were still super intense and I was still very much in transition (I even ended up throwing up a few times because it was so intense) but I wasn't making any progress. They made me stand up for a bit, labor in a "side lying" position for awhile, and then switched me to my other side, hoping to make baby move into the right position. Meanwhile, the midwife was getting more and more anxious and antsy.

Turns out, she had another patient about to deliver down at UVRMC, and she'd chosen to stay with me and broke my water because she thought I would go first... And then I stalled instead, completely ruining the plan.

This is the point where I started to feel a ton of pressure... And not from the baby. I swear, all I kept hearing was: "Do you feel like pushing?", "Let me know when you feel like pushing." or "Does it feel like he's moved down yet? Feeling any pressure?"

Why yes, yes I was. -_-

After waiting only about 20 minutes after breaking my water, the midwife started telling us she needed to start me on some pitocin. She told us that my contractions just weren't strong enough (HA, I say!), and the pitocin would make me finish dilating. I was NOT happy. At this point the contractions were so bad; I felt like I was breaking. I could barely handle the contractions as it was, so the thought of making them ANY harder was enough to make me want to just die.

After awhile of trying to passively put it off, Karl, who I could tell was getting a little angry at the midwife's attitude, finally told her that we really didn't want the pitocin and firmly asked if it was possible to wait an hour or so. This was one of my favorite parts of this labor; I loved how assertive he was on my behalf, even with an authority figure ;) She agreed, reluctantly, but we had to do an internal monitor  for me and baby and before she left she basically told us that if I didn't get the pitocin I'd be getting a c-section. She kept throwing out comments like "I'm just not happy with the way baby looks", but would tell us anything more definite than that.

Yeesh... Talk about pressure. I was stressed enough about the lack of progress on my own, but I'm super sensitive to other people's attitudes and emotions, and hers was REALLY not helping. Then throw in some threats of c-sections and my baby's health being on the line, and you've got me falling apart...

Anyway, on our own, we labored on. I kind of gave up mentally after awhile, I just laid there with my eyes closed, completely out of it between the super intense contractions (once the internal monitor was in, I had proof of how hard they were!). During contractions I begged for someone to help me and told everyone I couldn't do it. I was so tired!

Finally the midwife came back, and after about an hour and a half I had still made no progress.

The midwife at this point told us that we basically had to try the pitocin, and that's when I lost it. The midwife asked if I wanted drugs, and over the course of a few more super intense contractions (with no end in sight), I convinced my "team" that I needed an epidural. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist had two patients ahead of me.

I was so mad.

They offered to give me a half dose of fentanyl in my IV, which I accepted. The nurse asked if I was feeling it yet, and all I could say was: "It still hurts! Why does it still hurt!?" To which she responded "Oh, it's just to take the edge off, it won't stop it from hurting, just help you relax a little."

 I was DOUBLE mad.

I felt so betrayed... lol. I was promised pain relief if I just gave into the drugs that I was trying so hard to avoid, and I didn't feel any better!!! It just made me feel a little sleepy...

She checked me right before she left to make sure I wasn't about to push, and since it didn't look like I wasn't going anywhere, the nurse and midwife both left to take care of some final prep while I waited for the epidural.

I suppose the drugs must have done something, because after a contraction or two, the doula finally convinced me to try getting on all fours and leaning against the head of the bed. She was really hoping to move me to a position to get baby where he needed to be, and hopefully I would be able to push before the anesthesiologist got there.

I'm so glad my awesome little team was still rooting for me and still trying to help me get that baby here with out the epidural, even though I had completely shut down mentally!

After being in that position for a couple contractions, I was feeling like pushing, FINALLY. I didn't even tell anyone, and when the midwife and everyone came back (right about then) I just started pushing. They moved me back to my side, and less than 10 minutes later, Declan was here!!!! 10 1/2 hours of labor, 4 of them at the hospital, he was finally here!!

Born at 2:26 pm, and weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces, and 20 inches ;)

I am so thankful we had Stacey there, and that the anesthesiologist took so long!! I can't be sure, but I really think that had I gotten the epidural, I wouldn't have been able to move the right way to get him into the right position, so I would have ended up with the pitocin to get me to dilate. But, since he wasn't in the right position, I can see me still not dilating, and ending up with a distressed baby and quite possibly that c-section that had been hanging over my head...

I will say that I'm sure the midwife did have my baby's health and safety in mind, and I really liked her during our prenatal appointments, but I'm incredibly disappointed with how our birth went. It really wasn't the experience I had hoped for.

Evie's birth was so hard and, even though it was an incredible and empowering experience in the end, both Karl and I had some left over feelings that I was really hoping to heal/resolve with this birth. That didn't end up happening, and I'm so sad about it. Instead, this birth was much harder than Evie's and I feel like I've been left with a whole new, and much bigger, set of issues to deal with. It wasn't as empowering of an experience either.

On the bright side, I'm no longer afraid of the pushing stage, lol. It was hard, but so quick after the hours of pain, and I didn't need stitches!! Recovery this time around has been a million times better!

I am so glad to have him here and he is worth every minute of that labor experience; he is absolutely amazing! I love how from the minute he arrived, he belonged. From the first moment I saw him, I felt so strongly that he is and always has been mine and that he is such an important part of our family. It sounds so silly when I say it, but it's true, lol.

Welcome to our family Declan!!!