August 19, Day of Hope


"August 19th is a day to break down the walls of society that keep pregnancy, infant and child loss a hush hush subject. People view the death of a baby as just a sad thing that happened. These babies that die are not sad things that happen. They are people, much loved and wanted children. They are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters." ~Carly Marie Dudley

So many people love and remember you Noah!!!

~A real friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out.~

Olivia's Birth Story-Part 2


After they got Olivia and I situated, we were pretty much left on our own as a family to bond. (once you have 6 kids, they really don't bother telling you anything at that point cuz ya sort've already know the drill and as one nurse said I could probably teach them a few things! lol) I really love this hospital! It's a relaxing environment (as much as a hospital can be) and very family oriented. Everyone knows you by name, you're not just a number. Oh, I also liked the fact that the room I deliver in was the room we stay in the whole time.

My 6 amazing blessings!

We kept the news of Olivia's birth pretty quiet, only sharing with a few people. We were all on an emotional roller coaster by both her birth and it being Noah's birthday so we felt it was best just to spend this time as a family before telling everyone. I knew I would get overwhelmed by everyones response and just wasn't in a place to handle it at that point. We actually waited several days before telling the majority of people as well as announcing it on facebook.

 Noah and Olivia on their shared birthday

Daddy & Olivia

Sarah & Olivia

Susan & Olivia

Hannah & Olivia

Erik & Olivia


Later morning Kevin and the kids headed home for a bit to get some rest as well as take care of the dog. So it gave Olivia and I some one on one time. I just sat there watching her and taking it all in. I couldn't believe she was finally here. It honestly seemed like a dream. (and it still does).

When the kids and Kevin came back, they brought with them pizza, a tradition we started when I was in the hospital with Noah. Actually, if I remember right, Kevin had also gotten pizza when I was in the hospital with either Erik or Hannah as well.

Anyway, we spent the rest of the day just being together as a family. Of course the kids couldn't get enough of Olivia and kept passing her around.  At the same time that they were excited for Olivia, they were understandably a bit bummed that we weren't able to do the plans we had for Noah's birthday. There were even some tears shed by a few because they were afraid of disappointing Noah by not visiting him like we had planned. Like I said, it was and still is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. There is just no way to put it into words.

Olivia & I

We decided that Kevin would take them home for them to sleep overnight as we knew they'd sleep better there than in the hospital. They of course didn't want to leave. I felt bad for them. I admit I was teary as they left as I would've loved to have had Kevin and the kids stay as I wasn't really wanting to be alone at that point. But I knew it was best for the kids to get some rest at home. Kevin said when he got home a few of them had a bit of a tough time for a little bit.

When 9:06pm hit, the time Noah was born at exactly a year earlier, there I was sitting in bed holding Olivia. I sat there reminiscing his birth. Who would've thought that a year to the day I'd be sitting in the exact same bed holding his little sister? It was bittersweet for sure. Another totally "God thing" was that the nurse I had for Noah's birth who was my nurse until after he died, was also the nurse I had this night as well. What are the chances she'd be the same nurse on the exact same night a year later? She was a welcome sight, yet another connection to Noah. But once again, having her made it seem like just yesterday Noah was born.

I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night as Olivia wanted held or fed. I was pretty exhausted by this time as I hadn't slept the night before due to being in labor. After the little bit of sleep I got, I was up again about 5am. When 6:30am came around, the time Noah was pronounced dead, there I sat holding Olivia tightly wrapped in my arms, in the same spot where I had just been the year before. Holding Noah surrounded by Kevin and the kids on the bed as his little heart stopped and he took his last breath. As I sat there watching Olivia, I was amazed at the similarities between her and Noah. She even posed in a way that Noah had that I was able to quick capture on my phones camera. It really makes me wonder what God has in store for her little life by tying hers and Noah's story so close together.

Noah

Olivia


The kids and Kevin didn't come back till close to lunch time as Erik had football practice and wanted Kevin to take him since he was off work and hadn't gotten to see his practice yet.  Once they came in, we ordered our "special" meal that the hospital provides for the parents.


(that's sparking juice lol)

I had decided I wanted to head home even though I technically could've stayed there for another day yet. We ended up leaving the hospital about 5pm, the same time we had left the hospital the year before. I admit, I had some tears as I left this time as well. Both tears of joy mixed with sorrow, wishing I had been able to take Noah home like I was taking Olivia. The pain of walking down that hallway exactly a year before with empty arms was still very fresh in my mind. I don't think that is something that ever goes away.

She was not too happy when I first put her in here.

Many people have asked the significance of Olivia's name. We actually chose the name when I was pregnant with Erik over 8 years ago as it was a name we loved and felt that it went along great with our other girls names. When we were pregnant with Noah, if he had been a girl, we again wanted to use the name. So this time, we felt even more of a draw to use the name Olivia because the name was tied into Noah's story. Both because he would've been named this, as well as what else I discovered during my pregnancy as I dug deeper into the meaning of this name. Olivia means olive branch. In the Bible, an olive branch signifies peace. After the great flood, the dove flew to Noah and gave him an olive branch to show him that it was the end of the flood, giving him a sign of peace. Our Olivia is the olive branch from God and even Noah (and her being miraculously born on his birthday is proof of that!) In the world of baby loss, she is also known as a "rainbow baby". Just like Noah in the Bible was given a rainbow after the flood, so were we given our rainbow....


Olivia's Birth Story- Part 1

Tuesday, July 12th was a busy day for us. I had a doctor appointment in the morning where we scheduled some monitoring for the following week knowing I'd be going late yet again. After the kids and I left there, we ran some errands in preparation of Noah's big birthday party & celebration for the following day.

Once home, I began working on Noah's birthday cake. I had planned for the last 6 months just what I was going to make. I spent most of later afternoon and evening working on the cake. (I'll post pics of it when I blog about Noah's birthday). I hadn't been feeling the greatest till later in the day because I had been on my feet most of the day and had just been downright busy doing a lot of things at once. Around 8pm I went out to the garden as I had 2 long rows of green beans that needed picked. The kids and Kevin were outside playing. When I was done with all that squatting and picking, I noticed I was feeling a bit crampy and having contractions. Nothing new though as that had been happening off and on for quite awhile.

Kevin had planned to take off work on Wednesday for Noah's birthday so we figured we'd make it a later night. We had gotten a redbox movie to watch once we put the kids to bed. Around 9:15 pm I glanced at the clock between contractions, though I felt I was being premature doing that because after all, these were going to stop just like all the other times. I figured being on my feet all day then working in the garden had brought them on. I was surprised to see that the contractions were 4-7 minutes apart and had been at this point for a good hour.

I decided to put together my supper as I hadn't eaten earlier. I made a big ole plate of loaded nachos with taco meat I had made earlier, including jalapenos & onions from my garden as well! lol As I was heating stuff up, I thought well, it wouldn't hurt to gather up our cameras and a bag of snacks for the kids "just in case" so it was in an easy place to grab last minute. You know, murphy's law, if I gather the stuff, we won't need it.

So we headed up to our room to watch the movie while I ate. Contractions continued and by the time I was done eating, I was getting a bit uncomfortable sitting in bed so I moved to my rocking chair to watch the movie. By this point in time, Kevin was able to tell when I was contracting because they were getting more uncomfortable and I was having to concentrate a little more to work through them. I kept telling him I don't know if this is really going to be it. I mean, I wasn't even late yet, there's no way that this could be it.

But at the same time, every so often I got up and threw something into my hospital bag "just in case". I hadn't really packed a bag yet because there isn't much ya really need to take to the hospital. I had a few baby things gathered in my bag already but that was it. So I put in some clothes for me. Then a bit later I put some toiletries in to finish it off.

The kids knew before going to bed that I was having contractions and they were cheering! In fact, they kept coming up to our room to check on me to see if I was still having contractions. When they realized I was, they said they were going to pack their bag. I said that was fine but not to be disappointed if my contractions stopped.

Towards the end of the movie, I was getting more uncomfortable and felt better standing when contractions hit. I was distracted thankfully as the movie was pretty hilarious. Contractions had remained 4-7 minutes apart the whole time. After the movie, Kevin suggested going and sitting out in the hot tub to see if that would help. (and yes, it's at a safe temp of 97 as I've been sitting out there throughout  pregnancy because it feels SO good). So about 11:20pm we headed out to the hot tub with the laptop to watch some tv. I said that I bet once I am sitting in the warm water, my contractions will stop. Ok, so I ended up being wrong. Within minutes of getting in there, my contractions started coming 2-3 minutes apart and were getting more intense.

I finally came to the realization that I was indeed in active labor. Once that truly hit me, I lost it. I sat there and just bawled. I honestly couldn't believe it was all happening so fast. And that of all days, I was going to be having this baby on Noah's birthday. I was due the day Noah died (the 14th) so people often asked what my thoughts were if I was to have this baby on his birthday or the day he died and I always just shrugged it off, knowing my history of going really late, I never thought it would happen. So all of a sudden I was being faced with this. Kevin reminded me that this was totally a thing from God and Noah. I think too, I was in tears because it was bringing back all the memories from Noah's birth, it really felt like a flashback.

We sat out in the hot tub for about 20 min and my contractions continued to be close and ones that I had to breathe through. I finally said we better get out as I wasn't sure where things were headed. Plus I knew I could get to that point where I won't want to get out and I figured I probably shouldn't be delivering in the hot tub (though I always wanted a water birth!)

We headed inside and while I got myself changed, Kevin called the answering service for the midwife to call me and he also woke up the kids. He said when he woke the kids up, they were groggy as they had only fallen asleep an hour earlier due to their excitement over my contractions (crazy kids!) They looked at him and said are you serious? When they realized it was time to head to the hospital, they flew into action. He had warned them before bed that when he tells them it's time, they need to keep moving. I think they were ready before I was!! When the midwife called me, she said since it's my 6th baby and I know what I'm doing, she didn't care if I wanted to stay at home for awhile yet or head in.

My contractions were still 2-3 minutes apart and pretty intense so we decided to head in. We pulled up to the hospital about 12:30am. Took me a bit to make my way in as I kept having to stop walking and work through contractions. As we walked through the doors of the maternity unit, my eyes teared up. I hadn't been here since the day Noah died and I walked out with empty arms. It felt like yesterday.

The nurse met us and lead us to our room. As soon as I stepped in that room, I threw myself on Kevin and sobbed. It was the SAME room Noah was born in and died in. The poor nurse just stood there confused. I motioned to Kevin for him to explain to her. She felt bad and offered to put us in a different room. I said no, they all look the same anyway. Besides, what are the chances that I am having this baby on Noah's birthday then to be unknowingly put in the same room that I was in with him? It was obvious there was a divine hand orchestrating all this and I felt that it would be something special to have this rainbow baby born right where Noah was born exactly a year earlier.

So we all got situated. When I saw who the midwife was, I was SO estatic! I had just met her a few weeks ago for the first time at one of my checkups. She talked a lot to the kids during that visit as well and we discovered that she had been homeschooled until she went to college. She was also 1 of 8 kids and seemed to be a lot like us in our thoughts and beliefs. And once she knew about Noah, she didn't hesitate to talk about him as well. I remember telling Kevin after that visit that I would love if she'd be the one delivering.

She checked me and I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was already 5cm! (ok as pleasantly as I could be in the midst of hard labor! lol) The kids cheered when she said that as well. (for those that may not remember, the kids were also present for Noah's birth so they are pretty well knowledged in what a lot of the birth terminology is).

It took till around 2am till we were done with some of the paperwork and just getting all the typical admission type stuff done. The midwife was so sweet, she took the kids to get a snack while the nurse was doing all the stuff that she needed to get done. I found out in talking with my labor nurse during this time, that she too had had a son die years ago when he was 3 months old. Wow!! So she knew exactly the emotions I was experiancing right then and there as she also had kids after her son died. She was great and it was encouraging having her share her story. Not only did God provide my great midwife, he also gave me a compassionate nurse who could relate to me as well.

 When the kids came back, we pulled out the sofa bed for them to try and catch a little nap. The midwife felt I was going to go pretty fast but we figured in the meantime, they might as well rest a bit.

About 4:30am I was checked and was a good 8cm. She broke my water at this point as it has never broke on it's own in the past. Sarah and Hannah woke up about this time and were getting excited as they knew it was going to be soon. I think around 5, we switched the tv on to have the news on in the background and as a distraction. Somewhere around 5:30, Erik & Susan woke up and of course the other 2 told them the baby was soon coming.

I was beginning to feel a lot of pressure at this point and knew it would be soon. The kids had cleaned up their sleeping stuff and were patiently waiting. I was getting ready to ring for the midwife when she came walking in to check me. She smiled and said I was 10cm and ready to have a baby which I sort've figured by this point. I had felt like the baby was ready to slide out and had made Kevin take a peek prior to her coming in to make sure a head wasn't hanging out! lol

Everything was so laid back, a totally different experiance than having a doctor deliver. It was only the midwife and 1 nurse in the room. We had had the lights dimmed a bit to be relaxing during labor and as the midwife was getting situated I said that's fine to adjust stuff. She said no we don't need to. So we had no harsh overhead lights, just nice, comforting lighting.  In fact, she just put her basic gear on and made sure the table of stuff was near her and that was it. She didn't take the bed apart, just put the redbag on it. No putting me in a weird position or in stirrups, I was allowed to just be like I wanted.

As the midwife was getting situated, my nurse said I could start pushing when I felt ready. As I started to push, she sort've yelled to stop (cuz the midwife was only getting her gown on) and told the midwife the baby was literally ready to come out very quick. I looked at her and said oops, I guess I should've told you all it takes is barely a push and my kiddos slide out. She laughed and said yes that would've been helpful. Thankfully the midwife was ready pretty quick and on my next contraction with only half a push, out slowly slid a head. She had positioned a mirror for me to see which was really neat. As the midwife shifted the baby's shoulders, out came the rest of the baby's body with no effort on my part except to watch the miraculous process of birth. Praise God I once again had a great delivery with no ill effects on my body! (I was once again blessed to leave the hospital not even feeling like I had a baby.)

The baby was immediately placed on my belly and we asked the kids "what is it" as the midwife was letting them announce the gender (we hadn't asked her to but she seemed so in tuned to them). We moved the umbilical cord out of the way and they said "it's a girl". The kids already knew the names we had picked, as the girls name we had chosen when I was pregnant with Erik and would've used it for Noah. So right away they started calling Olivia by name. What a precious sound to hear her crying, it just all seemed so surreal. I know I've said it so many times but it seemed just like yesterday we were going through the same thing with Noah, it was so de ja vu.

Olivia was born at 6:17am. We got to cuddle her for a bit on my chest while the midwife waited for her cord to stop pulsating (another difference having a midwife verses a doctor, which I loved.) When the midwife told Kevin he can now cut the cord, he asked the midwife if Erik could cut the cord (this was something he decided last minute). The midwife said sure. So the midwife and nurse showed Erik what to do, and with a beaming smile on his face, he cut Olivia's cord forever giving them a special bond.

I should back up and share that about a month before having her, Erik came to us and said he felt that God told him we were having a girl. You could hear the disappoint in his voice as he so desparately wanted another brother, an earthly brother. So we decided to try and help him prepare in case he was right. We said if it's a girl, he can chose her going home outfit so we took him out shopping the week before I was due and he picked out an outfit. We also said if he was right, he could be the first of the kids to hold her. Kevin thought allowing him to cut the cord would also give him a special bond with his little sister. Erik has been quite proud to tell everyone he got to cut the cord!

Once the cord was cut, they weighed and measured her. We knew Olivia was small but we were surprised to see that she broke the mold of our kids measuring 19". The older 5 were all 19" but she was 18"! I think because she was "early" she ended up a bit smaller then the rest. She weighed in at 6lb 8oz which is average for my babies as well.



Shortly after having Olivia, I started getting sick on my stomach. It wouldn't stop so they had to give me meds to stop it. Which I was thankful for because I was so hungry by this point (I always am after labor) and was really wanting to eat.

-continued on part 2 here-

Totally random

Ok I am prefacing this by saying remember, I am really sleep deprived right now and it doesn't take much to make me laugh. So as I am nursing Olivia today, I have the tv on today. We only have basic cable so there really isn't much to watch. But Dr. Oz was on and he was proving myths right or wrong. One of them involved helium. We all have heard how sucking helium kills brain cells. Turns out that is wrong. A few sucks here or there is fine. Then the science lesson came forth. Helium is a lighter gas, hence the high voice. He then showed the opposite of using a denser gas, sulfer hexafluroide. So if helium gives you a high voice, what does the opposite gas do? If you guessed gives you a low, scarily deep voice, you are right! (where can I get this to try it in person??)  I about fell off my rocking chair nursing Olivia when Dr Oz started talking in this crazy, deep, hideous voice! The kids came running wondering what set me off (It took them a bit to come running, but once they realized my hysterical laughing wasn't stopping, they finally came running) By then, Dr Oz was done so I googled it and found this myth buster episode to demonstrate what Dr. Oz did. Ahh, the joy of homeschooling and unexpected (ok goofy) learning moments....

I hope you chuckle as well. And if not, at least you learned about the 2 different gasses.....

3 oz!

Olivia has finally gained a whole 3oz!!! She is still half a pound under her birth weight but we are thankful she has finally gained something. We made some slight changes to her feeding routine and she'll get reweighed again this weekend to see how she is adjusting.

Despite the challenges her feeding has presented me with, I am thankful. Thankful to have the ability to feed her. Something so trivial that most people take for granted, or even complain about the many overnight feeds, I cherish. I only got to feed Noah 1 time. He changed my outlook on a lot of things which is a priceless gift. I'm sure I'll expound on this more in the coming days, but I'm 1-handed again right now. ;)

I'll close with a song I heard for the first time recently. It was a great reminder to me, especially as a mom when life can seem to get stuck in a rut or when we're doing those little things that no one sees. Remember who we are doing all these things for!

Quick update

Just wanted to quick drop in and post a brief update. I'm typing 1-handed which is part of the reason I haven't been here much lately. Olivia has been struggling with weight gain. She lost more than they like to see. At 1 week old, she was 5lb 12oz (was 6lb 8oz at birth). So I started pumping my hindmilk (the fattier breastmilk) and syringed fed Olivia that as she nursed (yes, a bit cumbersome). I took her back to the hospital to meet with the lactation consultant a few days later and she was only up to 5lb 13oz. So I started using an SNS feeder while nursing. I put my pumped hindmilk into this (the point behind that is to make sure she's getting plenty of the higher calorie milk.) We went back for another weigh-in 5 days after starting that, and she had only gained a few grams, but still weighing 5lb 13oz at 2wks old. So then I needed to start fortifying my milk in the SNS with some preemie formula.

In addition to all this, I need to track each feed, when & how long she eats, how much she's eating in the SNS, diapers, etc. Plus I am not to let her go longer than 3hrs without a feed. Sometimes she wants to eat more often than that. I also pump after every feed to use that milk for the next SNS feeding so you can imagine that pretty  much most of my time revolves around this whole feeding thing right now.

My kids have all been very slow growers. The older ones were all only around 15lbs at 1 year old (both hubby & I aren't big, poor kids! lol) So Olivia is following in their footsteps. They just want to see her back to her birth weight and once there, I think we'll finally be able to relax a bit.

We go back for another weigh in tomorrow. Please keep Olivia in your prayers that she will start gaining weight & that I can hang in there with all this extra stuff right now. Thank goodness for my kids and their help. They are pretty much helping to run the house as I don't have the time to do a lot of extra stuff lately. They even initated starting school on their own since some of our curriculum is computer based and can be done independantly.

Now that my 1 hand is about to fall off from typing.....here's a pic of Olivia. I've been working on her birth story as time allows so hopefully soon that & more pics will be forthcoming!