Birth Story: Isaiah Jason

05/18/2015

Saturday April 25 was a restful family day. We had a big breakfast together, followed by a dance party in an attempt to shake the baby out. (Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” are our go-to dance songs.) Ali and I played together, had a picnic lunch outside and then went to the playground while Jason visited with a friend. Then we all went shopping and out for an afternoon treat at Chick Fil A. (Frozen lemonade and waffle fries with ranch for me—hello pregnancy craving!)  When we got back home we visited with some neighbors for a little while.

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That evening we went for a long walk in Shelby Park as we had done several times that week—the week of my due date. I was having some contractions while we walked but I wasn’t timing them because they often happen while I’m walking. When we got in the car I had a pretty long one and we decided we should start making a note of the time and intervals. It was 8:05 pm. We went to pick up a pizza and came home to eat it, all the while timing contractions that were coming predictably and getting closer together. We put Ali to bed but then decided we should have Jason’s parents come get her. They arrived around 10 or 10:30 pm. We finished packing up our things for the hospital and I took a shower and did my make-up.

We left for the hospital around 1:00 am but when the nurse checked me I was still just 1 cm dilated. She gave us the option to get admitted, wait/walk until I was 3 cm or go back home to rest and come back when the contractions got more intense. We went back home to try to sleep since it was getting so late. We got home at 2:30 am. Jason was able to sleep a little bit (maybe 45 min?) before I woke him up and said it was time to go back. We got back around 4:00 am and I was not quite 2 cm. They don’t like to admit before 3 cm generally. So we walked laps around the hall for about an hour, stopping every 5 min or so to get through a contraction. We were admitted around 5:00 am. I got settled into my labor and delivery room and the first thing I did was get in the gigantic tub for a hot bath and put on some relaxing music from my iPod. The water helped so much! Jason brought in the rest of our things from the van and rested on the sofa bed.

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The on-call doctor arrived around 9:00 am and offered to break my water to get things going faster, and we agreed. We had one scary moment about an hour later when Isaiah’s heart rate dropped and the nurses came rushing in as the alarm on the monitor went off. In a matter of seconds, they rolled me onto my side, plugged in my IV and strapped an oxygen mask on my face. It’s amazing how much more a contraction hurt when I was scared! Thankfully, it was no big deal—just by changing my position his heart rate returned to normal. They said the umbilical cord sometimes gets pinched by his/my position and just moving is enough to fix it. By noon I was 6 cm dilated. (10 cm is the goal – that’s when you can push.) But I got stuck at 6 cm. The contractions were getting so intense and painful that I was having trouble not pushing, which is not helpful because it made my cervix swell at the top instead of dilate. Even with the help of nitrous oxide to relax and Jason’s coaching to breathe and relax through the contractions, I was in a lot of pain and getting exhausted. After being stuck at 6 cm for 4 hours I asked for an epidural.

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I like to say I did 2/3 natural childbirth and 1/3 with an epidural. The epidural was amazing! Instant relief and ability to rest. My sister is an OB/gyn and my brother is an anesthesiologist so I asked Jason to send them the above picture. It was wonderful to go back to looking forward to seeing and holding our son, rather than just thinking about making it through the next contraction. I could watch the contractions on the monitor but I didn’t have any pain. I went from 6 cm to 10 cm and ready to push in 2 hours. Then, I ended up pushing for another 2 hours. It’s an interesting thing to push when you can’t feel your whole bottom half. At right about the 2 hour mark, which the doctor warned was about the max he would let me push without looking into other intervention (like foreceps or suction), I used every last bit of strength in my body and pushed that boy out. Jason was instantly in tears, just totally in awe with our son, with what I was capable of doing, with the whole process of childbirth. (It looks like he’s crying in the picture below but he never actually cried the whole time we were at the hospital, just little squeaks when he was upset.)

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The nurses took Isaiah to the corner to check him out. Typically they hand the baby straight to the mother to do immediate skin-to-skin but he had passed a little meconium during pushing and they just wanted to make sure he hadn’t ingested any. Jason watched as they checked him out, weighed him, cleaned him off and wrapped him up. Meanwhile I got stitched up. (I had a little tearing and an episiotomy.)

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When they put him against my chest a couple minutes later, I was overcome with tears of joy, finally getting to see his precious face and hold him in my arms. I cry every time I look at this photo. It was such a sacred moment. Isaiah was born almost exactly 24 hours after my contractions started. We missed an entire night of sleep so we were exhausted and starving. As soon as things were stable Jason ran out to get some carry out dinner from Five Guys because they were minutes from closing and the hospital cafeteria was already closed. The sweet server saw his hospital band and gave him one meal free. He was back before it was time to move up to our postpartum room.

We got settled up in our postpartum recovery room around 1:00 am. I can’t remember all the details of the first night since I was so tired but I know we did get several good chunks of sleep that first night. At one point I think I had asked the nurse a breastfeeding question (we were having a hard time getting him to go to sleep) and she offered to take him to the nursery for a little bit so we could rest. She said he fell right to sleep once he got down there. She brought him back as soon as he woke up. The nurses at St. Thomas Midtown were absolutely amazing! So kind and helpful, with humble, servant hearts. They took really good care of the three of us. I am so glad we decided to deliver there and would definitely recommend it.

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He’s Here!

04/28/2015

 Isaiah Jason Ahlbrandt was born Sunday 4/26/15 at 8:07 pm, measuring 21.5″ long and 6 lbs. 13 oz.  We are so delighted with him. Zay and I are both doing well. We’re all catching up on our sleep after a pretty long labor (we missed a whole night of sleep). He’s doing great with eating and sleeping. He’s a very sweet, easy-going, adorable little boy. Our hearts are so full. Big sister Ali got to meet him yesterday. I’m looking forward to all of us being home together later today. 
   
     


39 Weeks

04/15/2015

I’m quite sure it’s God’s design that by the end of 9 months we are mentally and physically done with pregnancy. It’s been fun but I’m ready for the next chapter. Jason is too. And Isaiah is too, whether he realizes it or not. He’s been so squirmy lately and I sense that he’s feeling cramped. We’re outgrowing this present state and we’re all getting a little fidgety wondering when it’s going to end. Zay has dropped lower into my pelvic bones, which is where most of my discomfort is coming from…and perhaps his, too. Rather than complain about it, I’m trying hard to keep my perspective in check. So this is my pep talk to myself:

I’m blessed. I am blessed to be pregnant. I am blessed to be adding another child to our family—a FOREVER child. A son. I am blessed to have a wonderful, loving, handsome husband. I am blessed to have a beautiful, spunky, sweet daughter. I am thankful she will grow up with a sibling and they will always have each other. I am blessed to have a good, steady, flexible job. I am blessed to have a husband who is living his dream with his career. I am blessed to be in good health and to have a perfect, textbook pregnancy and a healthy baby in my belly. I am blessed to have a good doctor and a good hospital that’s accommodating to moms who want a natural birth experience. I am blessed to have a God who is strong when I am weak.

Jason’s done a bit of traveling in the past week and thankfully we made it through all of that without incident, including when he was 12oo miles away in Pharr, Texas. (Ironic name, huh?) He got home from his latest trip early this morning and he won’t be doing any more traveling until after Isaiah is born. God’s timing is perfect, isn’t it! So far Jason hasn’t had to miss any work and it’s quite possible he won’t have to miss any at all.

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My fingers have swelled from time to time but the other day I realized I almost could not get my rings off, even with cold water and soap. I’m now going without any rings for the first time in 13 years and my hands feel so naked!

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Enjoying a little bed rest while Jason was in Texas and a friend generously offered to keep Ali for an evening.

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The unflattering reality… Ali saw me in these pajamas and said, “Mommy! I don’t want to see your belly sticking out!”

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Can you tell he’s dropped? My doctor confirmed again this week that his head is down and he’s sitting really low. If I make it to next week still pregnant I’ll have one more official belly comparison photo.

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Nesting

01/19/2015

I’m trying not to make all of my blog posts baby-related but I’m nesting so that’s where a lot of my creative energy is going these days. I’ve been doing more sewing; I’ll share more about that later. I got some new artwork for Baby Boy’s room. My favorite band, Needtobreathe, had an album out last year called Rivers in the Wasteland. It’s based on one of my favorite scriptures and the one I’m praying over this year, Isaiah 43:18-19. I looked for a poster based on their album cover art, which I also happen to love, and instead found this vinyl record.

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While perusing Target.com’s clearance the other day, I found these baby boy swimming trunks. Between an extra sale on clearance items and my REDcard’s 5% off and free shipping, these cost $2.59. I couldn’t resist. They seem gigantic for a newborn but maybe by the end of summer he’ll be ready to take some dips in my parents’ heated pool.

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I’ve really tried hard not to buy much for our son yet. We have a fair amount of baby supplies already and we got a lot of useful hand-me-downs from my sister (like that rainforest mobile attached to the crib above, play mats, a bumbo seat and a breast pump). One thing we’re lacking the most is clothing. I decided to pop into Goodwill the other day to look for some great deals. I walked away with 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants for $10, all various sizes from 3m – 12m. This is the 7th child we’ve welcomed in our home but it’s the first time we’ve been able to plan ahead so far for a specific new addition. I love knowing that he’ll still be a part of our family when he’s 12 months old.

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Gender Reveal Surprise Christmas Baby Shower

01/08/2015

That’s lot of words, huh? We had a Christmas baby-gender-reveal surprise baby shower. It was an unforgettable blessing organized by my friend Steph with a part of our foster mom support community from across the country. I had passed Steph the sealed envelope from the ultrasound tech because she offered to give us something more special than a piece of paper to open on Christmas day. (And she’s one of the most creative people I know!) She rallied the troops behind my back and they sent gifts to Steph to wrap and organize into a really unique gender reveal surprise for us. I am still so overwhelmed with gratitude that they would bless our family like this. Most of these women I’ve never even met in person, although we connect daily through social media to encourage, pray for, commiserate with and entertain each other.

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The first present to open was this ornament that Steph made. It will be such a special keepsake on our Christmas tree every year.

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(Please excuse my Christmas-morning-no-makeup-pajamas family.)

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The first baby boy outfit we opened…

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Ali got some special gifts, too.

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These little knee pads made me swoon.

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A teething necklace in one of my favorite colors.

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A fellow chicken mama sent this one!

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At some point while I was opening gifts and Jason was documenting it, Ali started taking photos with my DSLR.

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These are her photos…

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I am so thankful! What an amazing surprise for Christmas day, to find out we’re having a son and to be showered with so many thoughtful and adorable gifts for him.

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A Coming Home Outfit for Baby Boy

01/06/2015

coming home from the hospital outfit for a baby boy

 

In my excited anticipation of Baby Boy’s arrival in April I decided to start putting together an outfit for him to wear home from the hospital. I bought some black-and-white striped ribbon and sewed it onto a white onesie with faint blue stars to look like suspenders. I paired it with gray paints, no-scratch mittens and a hat that I made last summer for Firefly. I also made the bow tie for Firefly for a photo shoot. The onesie and little blue socks are the only pieces I didn’t make. Nothing inspires me to sew more than a new baby! Next up is a baby blanket.

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