Archives for August 2015

August 12, 2015

Alexandria the Great: The Birth Story

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This week Alexandria the Great turned 6 months old.  I can hardly believe it.  Six months since her grand entrance.  Six months of taking on the adventure of motherhood one day at a time. 

So in commemoration of making it halfway through her first year of life, I thought I would finally share her birth story…mostly for myself and for the ability to hopefully compare this to other Baby Johnston deliveries in the future.

(If birth stories aren’t your thing, you can scroll down to the bottom and read about how we chose her name. )

Let’s rewind 25 weeks….

I was almost 41 weeks along, and I was tired of being pregnant.

This was after walking up and down the most enormous hill we could find in town.  
Sure, I understood that it was called an “estimated due date”, but when February 4th came and went and I still didn’t have a baby it felt like Christmas without any presents. Where was my baby?
Baby Johnston was showing no signs of making an appearance any time soon. 
I was tired. I was sore. Sleeping at night was nearly impossible, heartburn was vicious as ever, and it felt like Baby J was nuzzling further up into my rib cage instead of making the journey south.  I was enjoying Downton Abbey & Gilmore Girls marathons with Mom, but what I really wanted was my baby.  And I was getting impatient.   
On the morning of Monday the 9th we went to an appointment with the doctor to discuss what would be best for me and for baby. We had originally scheduled an induction for that night, but we decided we were willing to wait a little longer.

We asked Doctor P if we could go in on Wednesday evening to be induced, but when he told us he would be gone and would have to request another doctor, we decided to schedule the induction for Tuesday night, with the hopes that we would have a baby by Wednesday morning. Wednesday was the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and  that actually gave me a sense of peace  as we moved forward. 

When we got home from the appointment I ate lunch, and then slept the rest of the afternoon.  I had felt what I thought were maybe contractions earlier that day, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up.  I was tired.  And frustrated.  And still pregnant.  (Cue violin)

I finally got up around 5:45, and Mom wanted me to go walk the mall with her.  

Before leaving the house, we talked about what would happen if my water broke.  I told my Mom about this article that had been my daily pregnancy email.  

“Oh don’t worry,” I said.  “Only 15% of women’s water break before labor begins, so I think I’m good.”  Mom commented on how surprisingly low that sounded, but we both agreed that the chances of my water breaking were so low that it wasn’t worth worrying about… plus after the appointment I’d had with the doctor that morning I figured I’d be pregnant forever until I was induced.  

Around 6:40pm we left the house, leaving my husband to cook dinner while we drove over to the mall across the street. When we walked into the store I noticed a rack of men’s pajama pants on clearance, and remembered that Michael needed another pair or two.  I couldn’t remember his size so I gave him a call while my Mom went to another section of the store.  

Me:  “Hey!  PJ pants are on sale.  What size do you wear?”

Him:  “Let me check… hold on a second.  Large I think, yes Large.”
Me: “Michael?”
Him:  “Yes?”
Me: “My water just broke.”

And with that, I became one of the 15%!  Feeling particularly grateful that I had changed out of my skirt and into my super absorbent yoga pants, I waddled to the back of the store, found Mom and informed her that it was GO TIME.

I’m not sure if any of the JcPenny employees heard this exciting announcement, but after verifying that I hadn’t leaked all over their floor we got in the car and headed back across the street to pack things up for the hospital.

When I got back in the house Michael was busy grabbing our mostly packed hospital bag, and trying to find little things like chargers, toothbrushes, etc.  I, on the other hand, was having a minor internal spaz attack:

The house is a mess! 

What is the baby going to wear when we go home? 

Heck, what am I going to name this baby?

What if this baby doesn’t get the right name?!

I’m hungry.  I haven’t eaten since lunch.I can’t eat!  I’m having a baby.
But I should eat.But I can’t!

Michael and Mom tried to convince me that I needed to eat before I left, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted, and I was in “GO mode”.  (This would later prove to be a mistake that will not be repeated with future Baby Johnston Deliveries.)

Right about the time we were packing the car was also when those contractions kicked in.

Oh boy.

We got to the Women’s Center a little after 7pm.  I’m not sure what I expected…maybe I’d seen too many TV shows or movies where the woman pulls up to the hospital and the nurses rush her to the delivery room in a wheelchair.  I was surprised by how calm everyone was.  I waddled my way to the delivery room, put on their ever so elegant hospital gown, got hooked up to the machines, and signed some paperwork.  
Time to get this party started! 
Doctor P came by around 11pm to check on things.  Because Baby Johnston had already pooped in utero, he said that we really needed to get the baby out in the next 22 hours.  This meant we needed pitocin to help me progress, which meant those lovely contractions that I thought I was handling so well were about to get a whole lot more intense.  
And boy did they. 
I remember the nurse asking me, “So what are we doing for pain management?”.  I just sort of chuckled and said “I’d like to make it as long as I can without anything, but we’ll see what happens!”
And on the inside I really felt like:
 and a little bit of 
In hindsight, I really wasn’t prepared to have a “natural” childbirth.  
Sure, I’d read a few articles, glanced at a few books, but we didn’t really have a plan for dealing with the pain.  Yes, I had my bouncy ball.  We did the tennis balls in the sock thing to rub my lower back… And my husband did an amazing of helping me focus and breathe through each contraction.  In fact, without his encouragement and gentle presence I couldn’t have made it as long as I did without drugs.

But after about 4 hours of tears, I knew that the only way we were going to progress was if we got the epidural.  

As the surprisingly peppy for 3:45am anesthisiologist prepped me, I felt really guilty.  I thought about how much the epidural would add to our hospital bill, and I also felt like I had somehow failed by not pushing through the pain.

But then the epidural went in…
And I’m pretty sure the heavens opened.

That epidural was the BEST decision I made for myself that day. 
As soon as the epidural kicked in I went to sleep.  Just like that.  I was relaxed enough that things could move along, and Michael was able to get some sleep as well.  
I woke up around 7:30am and I was still feeling really good and loving that epidural.  My Mom came in to trade places with Michael so he could run home real quick to get something.  Our home is 4 min away from the hospital so it wasn’t a big deal for him to leave.

Let me mention here, my Mom is amazing.

Not only did she stay in the waiting room praying throughout the night for us, but she was affirming and encouraging throughout the entire labor.  And she even held my barf bag when Michael left, so she gets major points in Heaven for that ;). 

The nurses came in to check me and happily reported that I was fully dilated, and it would be time to push in about 30 min.  “We’re going to do a practice push,” she said.  I started pushing and then she shouted, “STOP!  STOP!  This baby is coming!  And that baby has a lot of hair!  We need to get the doctor…DO NOT PUSH ANYMORE.”  
At which point I called my husband and told him to come back now.  It was Go Time. 
Doctor P finally came in around 9am and the team assembled.  
Because of how alarmed the nurse had been during my practice push, I really thought that this baby was just going to slide right on out.  Like maybe 2 pushes and boom, baby.  Right?
Um. Nope.
This is going to sound silly but I had no idea how hard pushing was going to be.  You’d think I would have picked up on that… I mean I was pushing a human being out of me…kind of a big deal.

My epidural was just wearing off, so could feel enough pressure to push, but there wasn’t any pain.

I had two nurses on my left, Michael on my right, and Dr. P ready to catch.  I remember thinking that I had a “good” nurse and a “bad” nurse… but really they were both just encouraging me in different ways, and I needed both of them there.

I pushed.  Nothing.
I pushed again.  Something, but not enough.
About 4 or 5 pushes and I realized this was going to be one of the hardest things I had ever done (Again, silly aha moment).

Dr. P finally said, “If we can’t get the baby out on this next push, I’m going to need to help things a little bit.”  Pretty much all I heard was “I will cut you.”

Um.. call those the words of inspiration that I needed because with that, I pushed like I had never pushed before, and all of a sudden… I could breathe.

The doctor had told me the night before that once baby came out they were going to need to suction the baby’s lungs before handing the baby to me because of the meconium. I’m really glad that he had prepared me for that, otherwise I probably would have been scared and worried that he wasn’t handing me my child immediately

I waited for someone to shout “IT’S A___” but no one said anything.  I remember feeling like things had gone quiet for a moment… then I heard the baby cry… but no one said anything to me.  Finally, I turned to Michael and asked “Is it a girl or a boy?”  “Umm.. I don’t know yet…” he said, and then finally Dr. P jumped in, “Oh I’m sorry!  Not doing my job, it’s a GIRL!”

It took a few moments for them to give her to me, but when we finally met, it was love at first sight.  You can read about that moment over here.  But long story short, meeting my daughter, seeing her for the first time, was like getting just a tiny snapshot of the infinite and miraculous love of God.

Mind. blown.  

Baby Johnston Gets a Name

One of the benefits of not knowing if “Baby Johnston” was a boy or a girl was that I felt like we could go to the hospital with options.  We’d come up with our top 2 girl and 2 boy names, and figured once we met the baby we’d know.  

It took a little while, but we settled on Alexandria Elise.  Alexander is the name of my Great Great Grandfather on my Mom’s side.  I have a male cousin named after him, and I thought we might bring it back with a feminine touch :).  

And Elise?  Well, that was a name that I happened to come across during a meeting with parents preparing to baptize their baby.  I thought it was pretty.  Boom.

The meanings of her names are what I like the most.  When I hear “Defender of Mankind” it makes me imagine how God will work through her as she grows.  And the meaning of Elise, “pledged to God” reminds me that my prayer from day one has been that she will be the woman God created her to be.   

Usually the first question people ask me after I tell them her name is “What are you going to call her?”  Five syllables is a lot for one kid, I know.  Still, we call her Alexandria (the Great).  It’s a big name, but I have a feeling it’s going to fit her just fine :).  Some folks call her Alex, my family calls her Lexie, but her Dad and I will most likely always call her Alexandria….

….at least until we mix her name up with her siblings!

And there you have it, the story of how Alexandria the Great came into the world and got her name! 

Thank you Jesus for our beautiful baby girl, 
and for trusting us with the great task of being her parents.  

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid