06 November 2014

The Birth of Streiter Teagan

Pronunciation Tip: Streiter rhymes with "writer"

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By the time you’re on your third baby/pregnancy, it’s more than slightly tempting to think you know the score when it comes to pregnancy and birth. You’ve done the big thing not just once, but twice already, and the expectation is that you’re not likely to encounter anything new, especially when your first two experiences were fairly consistent with one another.

At my first consultation with our team of midwives, however, one told me that third pregnancies tend to be strange.

However anecdotal this information might be, it was true for me and was evidenced at no moment as much as it was in labor and birth.

At our checkups starting several weeks ago, our midwives would review with us when they wanted us to call. I heard Contractions every seven minutes, lasting one minute, for one hour often enough that it seemed unlikely to forget it.

But they also told me this: This is your third baby, and you know what’s up. If you feel like you’re close even though it’s not fitting a pattern, then we want to be there.

When I woke up on Saturday morning (November 1), I could tell that things felt different, and noticed some positive symptoms of progression toward labor and birth, but they weren’t the kinds of things that were definitive as far as counting on a timeline of events is concerned. I had just passed the 39 week mark in my pregnancy, and had mentally prepared myself to go at least as long as I did with Austen, who was born at 41 weeks, and with whom I had a number of instances of false labor leading up to the time she was actually born.

I felt contractions on and off all day, and we even started timing them a few times. They were scattered: 3 minutes apart, 12 minutes apart, and everywhere in between. They were lasting 30 seconds, they were lasting a minute and a half, and every length in between. They’d stop, they’d start up again. I’d feel them and know what they were, though they weren’t uncomfortable at this point.

The last thing we wanted to do was wait around the house wondering if this was labor or when it would start if it wasn’t, so we decided to get out of the house and ended up going out to eat at our favorite burger place. Contractions were still coming on and off, but with no discernable regularity in their spacing or length. They were mildly uncomfortable, but I had no problem walking, talking, or enjoying my dinner.

We put Austen to bed about an hour or so later than normal, and once our bedtime routine was completed (about 9:30), I got into bed while James helped me through some guided relaxation exercises. I was still contracting, but they were still all over the place – 3 minutes apart or 4, 8 minutes apart or 11. They’d last 30 seconds or 2 minutes and everywhere in between and they felt like they were doing something, but it was still unclear to me whether or not this was labor.

A little after 11 o’clock, I opted for a bath and that’s about when things started feeling intense. I had trouble speaking through them, and I started losing the calm, relaxed demeanor I had been determined to maintain. They were still all over the place – 7 minutes apart, 10 minutes apart, 8 minutes apart, 30 seconds long, and one that was 3 minutes long – but I was finally approaching a place where I was convinced this was probably the real deal. I had never had a labor like this before – labor with Ewan and Austen had followed a fairly regular and predictable pattern as we got closer to birth, and the spacing and length of the contractions I was experiencing this time around threw us off.

We hemmed and we hawed about calling. It didn’t seem possible that the intensity I was experiencing could accompany false labor, but James’ memory held a slightly different narrative.

After one particularly long and intense contraction, we looked at each other and asked, “Should we call? Is it time to call?” still not completely sure of whether or not we would be having a baby soon.

About half past midnight, we called the midwife and she asked about the spacing and length of the contractions. I told her about how they were all over the place in terms of spacing, and how their length had been timed at anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes up until the moment we had called. I told her about the symptoms I had noticed that morning and what I had experienced throughout the course of the day, and she said she was coming.

I was so relieved.

But in my mind, I entertained just two possibilities: 1) Either this was labor and I was still several hours away from birth, or 2) It wasn’t labor and they’d go home and I’d have a baby another day.

They arrived about 45 minutes later. I had moved to the bed, lying on my side, breathing through another contraction. When it was over, they checked my progress.

Here we go, I thought. They’re going to tell me to stop playing jokes on them and call them when I’m really ready to have a baby.

Instead I heard this: You’re ready to push.

What? I was stunned. Shocked.


Time stood still for a few seconds while I attempted to digest this information. On the next contraction, get ready to push.

Mouth still hanging open, eyes wide with incredulity. I can only imagine the look on my face. Ready to push? That wasn't a possibility I had entertained even remotely.


“I wish I had a picture of that moment after we told you. You were in complete shock," the midwife told me later.

He was born about 30 minutes later, and about 45 minutes after their initial arrival.

We never thought to photodocument any of this experience (like we did so thoroughly with Ewan and Austen’s births), uncertain as we were it was the real deal. So there’s one photo of me holding him, just moments after his earthside arrival. (It’s certainly not the prettiest picture of me, but I’m going to let you guess how much I care about that.)

the one and only photo from the birth of my third child
Streiter Teagan
Born 2 November 2014 @ 2:05 am
8 lbs 7 oz, 21.5 inches

“I’m so glad we called when we did!” I said over and over and over.

And so here we are, two (living) children at home, adjusting to life together. We’re encountering some expected challenges and adjusting to our new normal. Austen’s so sweet with him, saying hello and asking how he’s doing, giving him kisses on the head and patting him gently. She’s very excited and proud of her new baby!

streiter3 streiter1 streiter_triptych streiter2

I couldn’t be happier. All things considered, the labor was quick and easy, and I feel pretty darn amazing. Streiter has a mellow temperament and took to nursing like a champ, which is something that was so frustrating and difficult and tear-filled for me for the first three weeks or so of Austen’s life.

We’re all so in love with our little man!

(Oh, and I should also mention: Austen was home the entire time and slept through the whole thing! She's a rock star.)

16 June 2014

bambino #3

Most expectant parents I know anticipate the 20-week ultrasound with some eagerness and happy anticipation. Oh, we get to see the baby! and if you're the type of couple that wants to find out the sex, Today's the day we find out if we're buying ballerina tutus or baseball caps!

Ever since Ewan, there has never been such a thing as a routine test or ultrasound in any of my pregnancies. And so it was no surprise to me to wake up this morning well before it was light, and check the time on my phone.

3:30 am: T-minus 6 hours to appointment time.


I reminded myself of all the things that were supposed to help me stop worrying: although not impossible, it was statistically unlikely that we'd have another child with a heart defect or other life-threatening abnormality. I was just feeling this way because our very first experience of a 20-week ultrasound threw us into the deep end of every expectant parent's worst nightmare. It probably wasn't going to happen like that again.

I breathed in deep, exhaling slowly.

There was no going back to sleep, and no ever going back to the days of blithely expecting the Best News Ever when you've already been the "someone else" to whom some of the Awful Things have happened.

I let out a breath of relief when everything the ultrasound tech saw today was normal, perfect, healthy as can be. Baby was perfectly developed in every respect, and flipped around from top to bottom a couple of times, probably just to show off and impress us.

I know pregnancies are common, and that healthy babies are born every day, but ever since Ewan I think that it's not overstating it in the least to say that IT IS A FRIGGING MIRACLE that any of us come out that way, with all our parts in the right places and working as they should.

And so we don't take it for granted. We're so grateful to God for another very spunky, healthy child (so much for having a mellow one this time around, eh?) and for the chance to be parents to another sweet kiddo.

So, without further ado, Baby #3 is a ...

P.S. We're leaning toward one name in particular, but aren't totally settled on it yet, so no news on that front just yet. :)

NOTE: For those of you who may not be familiar with our story, the monkey in the picture belonged to our first child, Ewan, who passed away at 16 days old after bravely enduring several surgeries to treat a complex congenital heart defect. From the time he was five days old (his first open-heart surgery) until the day he died, he usually had his arm wrapped tightly around it.

13 June 2014

... and so it goes.

So, no sooner do I stage my blogging comeback than I quickly fall off the face of the blogosphere again.

Heh. Heh heh.

Not long after my last post, I learned I was pregnant with our third. And not long after that, came the very strong and persistent feeling that I needed to sleep all day, only to be interrupted by those sudden and even more pressing urges to vomit. And then we had family from out of town visit, and then, and then, and then ...

I might have been more motivated to write again were it not for the pesky, prickly, and unwavering feeling that the internet is not a very safe place to be these days. Peruse the comboxes on any article or blog post that dares pose an opinion of any sort, and you know what I mean. Internet trolls are alive and well and multiplying ugly little troll babies who can't play nice.

And it's not just the trolls I worry about. I've even found myself refraining from online interactions with people I know if I suspect a difference of opinion will arise. I've participated in very few discussions of any sort online (but have observed a lot more), and I can't think of many times where I came away feeling like, Wow, that was really productive and I think we all have a deeper understanding and appreciation of where the people who think and believe differently than me are coming from. Usually, the tone is something more akin to, Those people are ignorant jerks and my goodness, I feel so, so righteous in my rightness! I don't doubt there are places where the dialogue is something more like the former description, but I'm guessing that's the exception.

(This is why in my online life, I tend to stick to cute kiddo pictures and funny, pithy family updates.)

I'm not interested in mud-slinging, in using internet to yell at people or be yelled at. I hate the presumptions that occur, the far-fetched inferences, the detailed and ultimately certain reading in between some very broadly spaced-out lines that occurs between total strangers. People can be crammed into some very tight and ill-fitting boxes. I find the whole thing stressful, distracting, and distasteful. It's bad manners on crack.

I used to love -- as in really, really love -- this whole blogging thing. I was reconnecting with old friends and making some great connections with new people I never would have met otherwise. Now I find I can't approach it (or almost any social media interaction) without at least a tinge of anxiety because of what I've observed and admittedly, my own fair share of bad experiences.

I'm not likely to get into current events or politics or any big hot-button issues. Just not my cup of tea, really. It's just me and my life and some thoughts, and I don't pretend to think that it's going to be for everyone. I don't care about stats or traffic or being a famous blogger. I just want to write and connect with a few folks and for everyone who chooses to be here to know it's really okay if we can't be eye-to-eye on everything. We can still be friends. Promise.

10 February 2014

I believe ... :: #1

"I believe" is a little series I'm trying out in order to affirm those every day beauties, miracles, and simple loveliness that is easy for me to overlook.

* * * * *

I believe I've never regretted putting down my phone or closing the computer in order to play with my kid.

I believe in getting dressed and making an effort with my appearance even if I have no plans of leaving the house. I also believe in staying in lounge pants all day long and choosing a nap or a mini "Castle" marathon over a shower.

I'm pretty sure my daughter's laughter is the best palliative for life I know of.

I believe in coffee. And chocolate.

I believe in sitting down, taking a deep breath, taking it all in, and being really thankful.

29 January 2014

Coming back.

I promised myself months ago, before the fireworks burst and fur-clad celebrities announced our transition from 2013 to 2014 in Times Square, that I was going to write again. And here we are at the end of January, these being my first words to be pounded out -- my first attempts at putting anything "out there."

Having a small child at home provides a ready excuse for avoidance, as well as the unending cycles of laundry and dishwasher loading and emptying and picking up bristle blocks and flashcards off of the floor.

I call it an "excuse" because it is. I consider motherhood and keeping the house running to be my first and most important work, but it isn't my only work. Writing is my work, too. And I've been running away from it as surely as Jonah ran as fast as he could in the opposite direction when God told him where to go, what to do.

I've been so afraid. I can see clearly how silly this is sometimes, but when I access a readily available catalog of blogging memories, I remember that the fear, however silly or wrong or restrictive and binding it may be, is not without reason.

When I first started blogging, I met new friends and reconnected with others. I made soul connections in what, at the time, felt like the most improbable way. Across geographic distances that would have made meeting any other way impossible, we had meaningful conversations. The internet felt like a great cozy living room or your favorite coffee shop -- the one with knobby wood floors, eclectic furniture, and tattooed baristas.

Somewhere in the course of my tenure as a blogger, my experience changed. While I maintained those meaningful connections, those cozy conversations with kindred friends, there were also those I could have done without. The critical stranger's voices, those that were only too happy to criticize and cut down, to lambaste and state assumptions about me as fact. Anonymous comments were cyber hit-and-runs, hateful words left without a face or name.

It didn't take much of this for the cozy living room to become a distant memory. The internet had come to feel more like a Roman arena where thousands of spectators crowded in and pressed forward, cheering as the victims du jour were ripped limb from bloody limb by the lions, the crowd cheering More, more. Please pass the popcorn.

I wanted no part of it.

I may share someday what has prompted my return. It's enough now to say that, for a thousand reasons, I know it's the right thing. I still see the arena and lions and crowd of spectators, and I still feel trepidation at volunteering myself like this. But I'm choosing not to let it chain me anymore. I've let loose the shackles, rubbing wrists that are reddened and raw and out of practice at doing this thing.

It's time to write again.


P.S. Jamie the Very Worst Missionary wrote about this recently, too and I may have shouted AMEN and fist-pumped at the end of it.