Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

We don't really make a big deal over Valentine's Day.  But how could I celebrate a holiday about love without capturing adorable photos of the loves of my life?  (Minus their awesome daddy, who by the way surprised me with beautiful diamond earrings!)  

When I decided to have a photo shoot with the kids, I envisioned three little ones sitting side by side, obeying all of my commands, and ending up with 100 perfect and commemorative pictures.  Obviously I was fantasizing because this is what photos of three children under the age of four really look like:

Not so great.  So then I decided to let them lead and I got to capture pure joy...

And I was even lucky enough to capture the sibling love that I had hoped for...

Just in case that wasn't enough, here's a little EXTRA precious for you...

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Noah's Birth Story

Jonathan Noah Bernardon is FINALLY here!  At 41 weeks, per my doctor's recommendation, we decided to induce labor.  There's always concern about the baby not getting enough nutrients in the 41st and 42nd weeks and it was obvious that he was going to be big.  Annabella was 8 pounds and 9 ounces, so I really wasn't willing to risk having a 10 pound baby.  I had hoped so desperately that I would go into labor naturally, but my body has never been able to dilate on its own, so my chances were slim that I would this time.  At 7:20am, Jonathan and I arrived at St. Mary's in Athens.  I was an absolute nervous wreck. They started the IV and Pitocin at 8:00.  The nurse was very nice and read my birth plan, got the birthing ball and put the walking monitors on me.  We were ready to go.  It was finally happening.  About an hour into it the alarm started going off on the baby's heart rate monitor.  They rushed in and tried to adjust the monitor on my tummy, but it wasn't the monitor.  Noah's heart rate had dropped drastically.  They put me on oxygen and stopped the Pitocin right away.  I was terrified.  I remember thinking, 'How could we have gone through all that we did at the beginning of this pregnancy, only to lose him during labor?'  Thankfully the oxygen helped and after a little while on the oxygen, everything went back to normal.  Unfortunately we had to go through that a few more times throughout the day and there wasn't a single time that I didn't think the worst.  

Around 10:00, my doctor came in to check my progress and break my water.  I wasn't even 2cm and she wasn't even able to break my water.  Two hours into it, I already had two strikes against me and my chances of c-section were increasing.  There's always a chance of c-section when you induce, but based on his heart rate dropping and the fact that I was 0% effaced and 1cm dilated was not looking good.  So I got to my feet and walked and bounced on the birthing ball for two hours straight.  The mere thought of having to have a c-section terrified me and I was determined to help get things moving.  Every time they had to put me on oxygen and turn the Pitocin off, they had to restart it at it's lowest setting.  So if we were already up to an 8 on the Pitocin, once they stopped it and restarted it, I had to go back down to a 2.  Which meant less of the medication and slower contractions, which equaled very little progress.  I also wanted to try my hardest to avoid an epidural this time.  I lasted until 3:00.  They had already broken my water and with the Pitocin bringing on almost constant contractions, I couldn't handle them anymore.  

The picture below is in between contractions at 4cm dilated.

Once I was at 4cm, Jonathan couldn't stand watching me in so much pain, so he got the nurse to come in and discuss pain relief options with me.  The epidural made the most sense, so they got the anesthesiologist within minutes and administered the shot.  I HATE getting epidurals.  I'm not afraid of the pain or the needle, it's the chance of something going wrong that terrifies me.  What if he puts it in wrong, paralyzes me, or there's an adverse reaction?  I was praying like crazy and in tears.  Turns out this was the best anesthesiologist I've had thus far and it was a much less painful and scary process than I had expected.  Since I wasn't feeling much anymore, I was able to get some sleep before things really got rolling.

Finally at 5:00 I was at 7cm.  I was progressing so quickly that the nurse stood by my side, watched the monitors and checked me until I was at 10cm. It was finally time to push.  Jonathan put his "Coach" scrub shirt on, grabbed the camera and the video camera.  He kept asking me if I was excited, but I was SO nervous.  The photo below was taken RIGHT before I started pushing. I could still feel the contractions and I could feel almost everything as I pushed him out-it was just less intense. 

The good thing about my body when it comes to labor is that I have never pushed longer than 15 minutes.  On the third push, he was here.  Perfect and crying.  

He was born at 5:46.  Jonathan cut the cord for the first time.  Because I chose to do delayed cord clamping, he stayed on my chest for several minutes before Jonathan cut the cord and they took him to the warming bed.  He was perfect.  8 pounds and 4.5 ounces and 20 inches long.  As soon as they brought him back to me and I snuggled him, he nursed with no problem for a full 15 minutes.  It was one of the best moments of my life.  My little boy was finally in my arms, healthy and nursing.  He looked just like his daddy and reminded me so much of what Madelynn and Annabella looked like when they were born.  He had more hair than any of them and the first thing I noticed was how big his hands were.  We were overcome with emotion and joy.  This was the miracle that God has surprised us with.  We had been through so much already; a surprise pregnancy, the possibility of miscarriage and a very rocky first trimester, what we thought was a miscarriage that ended up being unexplained bleeding, the flu and bronchitis-you name it, we had experienced it.  I can't tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep in the very beginning and how many prayers I had prayed throughout the whole thing.  All for this beautiful, precious little boy.  I would do it 100 times over.  

At this hospital, they leave you with your baby for as long as you want before they give them their bath and take them to the nursery for everything else.  They finished cleaning up (I didn't need any stitches, thank goodness!) and left Jonathan and I alone with our son.  It wasn't long before mom, dad, Madelynn, Annabella and my grandmother got there.  We were more than anxious to show him off.  Here is our first photo as a family of five.  

None of us could take our eyes off of him long enough to look at the camera. The girls are of course, smitten with him.  How could you not be?

Look how tiny he is with his daddy!

Proud mommy

Mom, take it easy with the pictures.

My handsome little man

And here he is in his car seat, ready to FINALLY go home!!

Although I didn't deliver him like I had planned, he's here now.  He's healthy and he's absolutely amazing.  We are so thankful and beyond blessed.   

*** On a side note, I'd like to say to my husband that I am so, very grateful for you.  You were my rock throughout the pregnancy and delivery.  No matter how hard I was to get along with, you shut your mouth and humored my ridiculousness.  While I was in labor you were attentive and supportive, loving and sweet.  You're an AMAZING father and though I didn't think it was possible, I love you even more each time we have a baby.  Those moments in the delivery room were some of the most intimate and precious memories I have and I can't imagine sharing them with anyone but you.  I love you.  Our kids are so blessed to have you as their father.  ***