March 24, 2015

She's Here! Happy Birthday Winifred Jane!

Well it has been one week since we welcomed our precious Winnie Jane into the world. She has truly lived up to her name: Winifred Jane. Winifred means "Blessed Peace" and Jane means "Gift from God."  She is a very peaceful baby thus far, and certainly a gift from God!

The story of her birth was not all that peaceful at times, yet here goes my best attempt at recalling it all, complete with gory (or awesome) details, so read on at your own risk:

Day one of contractions!
On Saturday March 14th, I started to get some contractions that begged my attention. They weren't so serious that I couldn't continue on with my day, and they were certainly not that close together, but they were definitely more significant than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been experiencing for the past few months.  They were a very welcome occurrence, since by this point I was sitting at 41 weeks and 3 days.  They reminded me a lot of the contractions I had experienced with Leopold a day before he arrived, but I knew I had to be realistic and not expect too much from them, since I had been in labor three days before Leopold came into the world.  

Well I wasn't surprised at all when they dissipated later that evening, and seemed to disappear altogether if I decided to relax. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time walking. I walked all over my neighborhood, making sure to hit up as many cul-de-sacs as possible for the benefit of doing curb walking. There are strangely no curbs around these parts except in the cul-de-sacs! I'm sure this odd practice of walking with one foot up on the curb and the other in the gutter was amusing to my neighbors as I bobbled along in front of their houses.  The contractions picked up with my walks, but petered out shortly after I would return home...this went on all of Sunday as well. Monday morning, however, the contractions that woke me up at 4am had more punch. I rocked on my hands and knees through them and tried to go back to sleep, but failed to do so. Instead I got up and went downstairs, making a full breakfast for me and the boys: ham and eggs!  They seemed to space out a lot from there on out. Andy had been planning to go to work that day, but I asked him not to, I just had a feeling things could get more real considering the increased intensity of the contractions. He obliged, and I went for another chiropractric adjustment.  I had come to depend on these to keep my pelvis balanced out using the Webster right side of my pelvis always gets out of alignment, perhaps because she was persistently Right Occiput Posterior or Transverse for the third trimester, or just because I'm wonky! :)

The contractions were again pretty few and far between, however strong, so I went for another long walk, and when I returned climbed into a nice warm bath, belly down.  I don't know if the bath just helped me relax or what, but I started to get really strong contractions a few minutes after climbing in. When I got out, I thought I noticed a trickle of water on occasion, but I wasn't sure if it was just from bathing or if my water might have broken.  It was never enough to gush or do much about so I assumed it was from the bath. However, the contractions kept getting stronger.   They were still really spaced out, coming maybe 15 minutes apart, sometimes much longer. Heeding to my labor instincts I invited our friends who had agreed to watch our three boys for us during labor and delivery over to enjoy the fire pit in our backyard so they'd be here if things got serious. When they first arrived my contractions were probably 20-30 minutes apart, although they were so strong I had to brace myself and really breathe through them.  After a while I decided to lie down on the couch to test them…if they were to slow down, that would be my cue it might be another night or so. They, instead, started coming more frequently, and they were so intense I started to get the chills and shakes.  I went to the bathroom to discover some bloody show, and decided to call the on-call midwife. My midwife to-be was Amber Price, a Godsend in my delivery and my labor! Her calm voice, when confronted with my shaky description of my condition said something along the lines of “come on in and we can see how things are going.” I was elated as I hung up the phone and told Andy to get our things…at least I would find out if these last few days of labor had done anything to progress things. I was uncontrollably shaking and freezing at this point…I’m not sure if I was in shock from the pain or if I was just exciting myself, but the intensity of the contractions were certainly more than I remember for my previous labors…perhaps because of her posterior position, or perhaps because, like some say, each progressive labor can be more painful. I certainly wasn’t as well composed as I was for my two previous spontaneous labors. 

When we arrived and checked in, shortly before midnight, we found the labor room to be pleasantly low-lit with soothing ambient melodies playing softly in the background. My contractions were still about 15 or so minutes apart I think. The magical Mrs. Price checked me to find me at 4cm, almost 5cm (I don’t remember how effaced I was) and she said Winnie’s head was really low. At my last check on Friday, the day before contractions had started, I had still only been about 2cms and -3 station. So this was progress!

I had the urge to pee what seemed like constantly and I remember feeling like with each contraction that my bladder was just being pulverized…I think my contractions this time around somehow irritated my bladder because that pain stuck with me in the after pains that kept up for a few days after Winnie’s birth.  I was given some fluids, I seemed a bit dehydrated, and attempted to rest. I don’t know how long I tried to rest, but I don’t think it was more than an hour at most.  On one of my subsequent trips to the restroom, I got a contraction so strong I couldn’t move, walk, or talk, I could only cry out in pain and hold my belly…I think this is when the tears started, and my lovely midwife gave me the suggestion to labor on my hands and knees on the bed. This was right after she attempted to find a bag of waters to break but didn’t seem to find anything to grab on to. She mentioned it might have broken when I thought it did in the bath earlier that afternoon.  So on my knees, with my arms hanging over the back of the bed, this is how I spent the next hour or so I would guess, the contractions were so much more painful than my previous labors, and I was not impressed with my inability to breathe through some of them without feeling a little panicked. The only thing that seemed to help was light touch on my back as I swayed back and forth.  Nausea came and went several times.  

Eventually Amber suggested I try laboring in the labor stool on the bed, and it was a bit more comfortable. After a while (my conception and memory of time and facts is all very hazy for most of this) we decided to see what the progress was, and she found me to be 7-8 cm if I remember correctly.  It was at this point, I believe, that she showed what her “magic hands” were capable of.  She was able to gently lift Winnie’s head and help her to rotate into an anterior position for birth, she had to hold her steady there for a while until another contraction came that would lock her down in that spot.

Just from having her head in the right spot things started to move quicker, her head had started to descend more even before the contraction that set her in place. I labored in that position for what felt like a really long time, because at this point I’m pretty sure I was in transition.  I started to get very weary, my whole body was just so spent after days of bad sleep and painful intermittent battles with contractions. So, considering how soft and conducive to labor my cervix was, Amber helped the process along, applying slight pressure to the cervix which melted completely away with very little prodding. I was 10 cm! Hallelujah!

Pushing lasted all of six minutes, but felt more like an hour to me. I pushed harder than I ever remember pushing with my other babies…although I think you always feel like that in the moment. That pain is always an insurmountable feeling. I remember when she was crowning, Amber asking if I wanted to reach down and touch her, I tried but don’t remember if I was successful, I just seemed to want to exert no more effort at this point. I remember being asked if I wanted to reach down and help her up too and just feeling like I couldn’t handle any more than just getting her out at that point, and I declined.  Ha-ha! I felt so pathetic.  I seized up in pain at the end and was trying not to push as per instructions given by the nurses and Amber, and had a hard time not doing so…I guess I listened though, and in the next push she was out! Sweet relief! I was kind of in shock and disbelief when I was handed her, and was told to rub her gently because apparently all instinct had kind of left me at that point, I felt like a space cadet.


Those sweet moments, when she was first in my arms were so cathartic and amazing. I remember just looking at Andy, Amber, and the nurses and just feeling so incredibly grateful to have had them there supporting me.  I don’t know how I would have mustered the strength or wherewithal without them. God bless midwives! Their knowledge and instincts and experience: priceless! Winnie was so perfect and beautiful.  Once the cord stopped pulsing, it was cut, and Amber had to kind of negotiate with what was left of my bag of waters to get the remnants out…at least I think that was what she said…like I said, space cadet!  She also said the cord had been wrapped around her neck twice. Poor baby! No wonder she stayed in ROP/ROT position despite all my efforts…she couldn’t move easily most likely!

One funny point in the after birth experience: Just like her big brother Leopold, Winnie marked me as her mommy shortly after delivery. She peed all over me! But that wasn’t enough, she had to trump her big bro. Unbeknownst to me she also pooped all over me.  And this was no petite poo! I was completely covered in meconium…it's a good thing events like this don’t phase you at all after going through labor, ha!

Great recovery room experience, even great food at VCU!
Ok. Well there you have it. Winifred Jane Schwartz, born March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day!) at 3:55am, 8lbs. 5oz. and 20 inches long at 41 weeks and 6 days. One week later and she weighed exactly the same today at her checkup. She is a champion nurser, great sleeper, and sweet in every way.  She is incredibly loved by her older brothers as well as all her extended and church family.  What a little blessing and gift from God!

Scenes from her first week:

So loved!

I set up a little photo shoot to practice my photography on our princess...I love how they turned out!
This was my dress when I was a baby :)

March 11, 2015

41 Weeks - Still waiting...

Forty-one Weeks Status:
Estimated Baby Size: 20 inches+ 8+ lbs.

Well, despite my hopes, Winnie Jane is taking after her big brother Izaak instead of Sebastian or Leopold, and has decided she'd rather be fashionably late. I am certainly anxious for her arrival, but have a lot more peace about it than I thought I would. I remember a lot more frustration and weariness surrounding the delayed arrival of Izaak. Perhaps it has something to do with the weather becoming more spring-like, or that family and friends are being nice and not asking all the time. It also helps that we decided to take the month of March off from full-time homeschooling. Whatever the reason, I am not going crazy waiting for her, though I do have bouts of boredom that require me to go walk it out somewhere or prod Andy to take me out! :)

And my, oh my, have I ever been doing my all to urge things along! I have been walking as much as possible. And, before the weather got warmer, I pretty much exhausted all of the indoor malls in the Richmond-metro area. I then moved on to the two outdoor malls where I could duck into stores to get warm.  This past Saturday was much warmer, so I parked a ways from the Art Museum and walked to Cary town for lunch and a quick stroll. Then back to the Art Museum where I did several rounds and even more sets of stairs.  At least I'll be in decent shape by the time she shows up! I'm sure it's helping, at least a little...  I do sideways stairs, two at a time, several times a day when I'm at home, and curb walking on the back porch. My neighbors must think I'm crazy! Do I care? I think not.  "Get out of my belly!" (reverse Austin Powers fashion)

I have also been keeping up with the chiropractor and massage therapy...each time hoping that I will miraculously and spontaneously go into labor shortly after, but not being too surprised when I don't.  They are all rooting for me, and as they make appointments have grown accustomed to wishing me well, and hoping not to see me for them, haha!

The boys keep asking about her arrival, but they don't seem too concerned by the fact that she did not arrive when expected. Her countdown whiteboard in the window no longer holds a number, but rather a question's usually the first thing I see when I walk down the stairs for breakfast in the morning. I'm considering taking it down, but am looking forward to replacing it with a big goose egg when the day arrives.

Well, not much else to report...I guess I'll go do some more stairs! Hopefully my next post will contain baby photos!!!


March 3, 2015

40 Weeks! Come on Winnie!

Forty Weeks Status:Weight: 179 lbs.
Estimated Baby Size: Small Pumpkin 7.5+lbs.
Tomorrow is Winnie Jane's due date! I really hope that she decides not to disappoint and instead to be punctual. I'm doing okay with the wait so far, but a little anxious that she'll be another stubborn baby like her big brother Izaak. Needless to say, I am more than ready to welcome her, my pastor's wife, a lady from church and a close friend threw us her baby shower at our church this past week, and many of the few things we still needed were purchased for us, or purchased with gift cards that were generously given.

I have been nesting like a mad woman lately, even going so far as to label and organize the linen closet and clean and touch up the paint on the baseboards and trim areas throughout the house. Now with the last load of gifted clothes laundered and put away (at least the things for the next few months) it really is a waiting game at this point.

I hope for not much longer though! The midwife at my appointment last Friday said that Winifred has dropped. My pastor's wife had said she thought so on Wednesday, but I hadn't even noticed! Real attentive there mama! 

This is a good sign, but as with most of the signs of "imminent labor", it really doesn't mean anything more than she will make her appearance "soon." So far the dreaded "are you in labor yet?" comments have not come flooding in...I am hopeful most of my friends and family will have enough tact not to ask, and realize that we will let everyone know.  Nothing worse than impatient friends and family to put pressure on a one wants the baby out sooner than me after all! I can guarantee that! I try to update things at least once a day for them though, because I know it's hard for them to wait too! :) 

Well, that's about it...I'm waiting as patiently as possible to love and hold my little girl. God's timing is best, and I will keep reminding myself of that.  Prayers appreciated! The weather has been a roller coaster lately, and we're hoping she decides to come during one of the non-threatening days coming up instead of the icy, snowy few.

I'll post a few pictures of the baby preparations below:
New swing/bouncer/rocker that plugs in!

Pack n play! Hospital bag, and Winnie's Violet to match her brothers' Scouts.

Winnie is sharing a room with Mommy for the first year, love her crib set! A gift from a friend :)
Sharing Mommy's closet too!
We bought this when we were expecting Sebastian, a cute organizer for all her accessories at the moment!

Carseat and mirror ready to go, we'll install before we head home from the hospital.

Our battery's a bit sluggish these days, been passed down and well used a couple times, but nice to have for the upstairs when I need it.

Co-sleeper and changing supplies for minimal mommy sleep disruption.

And there you have it! We're ready! Come on Winnie!!!!

February 6, 2015

36 weeks - Home Stretch!

Thirty-Six Weeks Status:Weight: 174 lbs.
Estimated Baby Size: Head of Romaine Lettuce 6+lbs.Home stretch!  And there is lots of stretching going on! Winifred's got some long legs, and she likes to stretch them right up into my ribs... I would complain about it, but I'm overjoyed her legs are what are jabbing me, as she was taunting me with a breech position over the past couple of weeks. I've also got some stretch marks making their third trimester comeback...but they don't bother me!

I am now a firm believer in the efficacy of Webster's Technique in Chiropractic care.
When I went for my 34 week check-up the Midwife said that she was lying transverse, which is a funky breech position...she then turned upward and had her head rolling around near my ribs for a bit. All of this threw my pelvic balance way off...I was having Symphysis issues previously from all the Relaxin, so having her doing acrobatics and using my pelvis as her springboard seemed to make things worse.

Thankfully Webster technique was able to correct all the sublaxations, and by the second adjustment, just minutes afterward, I felt her flip over and start kicking me in my ribs. Just today we had an ultrasound to confirm, that she is indeed head down...although you can't see that in the pic:

You can see her cute little chubby cheeks though :)

I'm soooo happy she flipped, as a lot of the discomfort has vanished now that she's in a more balanced position. She is still in an  less than perfect position for labor, as she is Right Occiput Posterior (a position many breech babies will land in when they flip), but she has plenty of time to turn a bit, and I still have a few more chiropractic appointments before she's due.

I just can't wait to touch those chubby cheeks and kiss that little head!  Love my sweet girl. Her brothers are equally excited to meet her. None more than Leopold, who is always asking to "see Witifwed" and loves talking to her:

As an added bonus today after the good news ultrasound, a gift from Granny arrived: 

A beautiful home-made super cozy quilt! Love the colors!

January 31, 2015

Crafting for Winifred!

C'mon, you knew this was coming: 

Ribbons and Bows

As had to be expected, since the announcement of a baby girl was made, countless projects have been on my to-do list. The first of which, was the traditional mommy-made baby blanket.

I couldn't stop with just one though...

The first I did was a Chevron pattern I found online, and I just love it because it reminds me of W's, perfect for Winnie!

After hearing that I was experiencing a lot of problems with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction,( AWFUL PAIN IN THE PELVIS) my mom paid a visit in the New Year, and she had her own projects in mind as well:

Beautiful handmade flannel swaddling blankies!!!  I love them so much! :)

When I was at Hobby Lobby picking out the fabric for one of the flannel blankets, I found some awesome super bulky and soft yarn and knew I wanted to make Winnie another blanket, that was a little more breathable and soft then the tight-stitched chevron blanket, so this was the next project:

I am also working on an embroidery project for her nursery, teaching myself the is SO fun and I highly recommend it to stitch-obsessed folks who haven't tried it...and also, turning some of the boys neutral leftovers into girly items, and repairing some awesome heirloom items passed down from my mom that my grandmother knit.  I'm in crafting heaven just dreaming away about Winnie :)


Oh, and I better not forget! It was Izaak's birthday last week!

He wanted a Paw Patrol birthday, and although we had planned to have it on his actual birthday, we decided last minute to have it when my mom was here, and so we stressed ourselves out, although well worth it, to throw it all together last minute. Fondant was my enemy, but it all turned out great in the end!

IZAAK's Party:

December 22, 2014

29 Weeks

Twenty-Nine Weeks Status:
Estimated Baby Size: Butternut Squash
I know it's been a while since I posted, but it's been busy busy busy!

Halloween has come and gone, the kids don't really go trick or treating, but we let them dress up and give them candy. We had a Reformation celebration at church that Andy and our friend Scott organized with the pastor and his wife playing roles in a pretty funny skit. It was a really fun time.

A pic of the boys dressed up:

We also were blessed with a visit from Gramps and Grammy Robin. It was so much fun taking in the lovely fall weather, walking all over and exploring Richmond, and just getting to spend some time with them. It, of course, felt too short, because we know it will likely feel too long before we see them again, but we are so glad they got to come out and walkabout with us.

Since then, we've gone through a couple bouts of illness and have been just struggling, it seems, to keep ourselves well. But we've also had a lot of fun. We have been busy with our church choir program for Christmas, as both Andy and I dusted off our orchestral instruments to play in the orchestra accompaniment for the two concerts we gave.  It was so much fun playing my french horn again, even if my third rotor string broke and I had to remember alternate fingerings that had almost evacuated my brain from years of not practicing.  Regardless of the mishap, it was a great experience and a great way to glorify our heavenly father at Christmas time!

Winifred seems to be growing excellently, despite my "I'm sick and don't want to eat" diet, and her heartbeat has been strong and all has been well at all of her/my appointments.

The above belly shot was taken at our little Christmas-time getaway. We decided, since the boys are such huge fans of hotels, that we would treat them to an in-town hotel getaway, and we spent a couple nights at a hotel up in Short Pump. They had fun playing in the pool, watching the rerun of The Sound of Music Live on TV,  going to yet another Sushi King, driving around to see Richmond's famous tacky Christmas lights displays, and celebrating Daddy's birthday at a brewpub.  Good times! Christmas is this week, so the house is decked out, and we'll just be celebrating at home this year.  We are looking forward to a New Year complete with a new baby, and possibly a new minivan to fit her more comfortably! :)
More pics:

Tacky Christmas Lights

Daddy's Birthday

They fell asleep watching the Sound of Music at the hotel: