No more ultrasounds - baby is here!

I started writing about baby #4's journey in the hopes that I could update family and friends in a way that was easier for us all, and that I might show up on a frantic mom's Google search for information late one night, and offer information as well as hope. There were times where I didn't know how much hope I'd be good for, but today I sit here with a heart full of happiness and gratitude as my perfect four-day-old daughter sleeps next to me.

Our beautiful daughter was born on July 20th, just after noon. She was three days past her due date, and I was not sure if she'd ever enter the world on her own. I woke up around 5:00 AM in pain, and after groggily swearing silently in my head, realized I might be experiencing a contraction. I decided to go downstairs and time contractions, but waited up to a half-hour in between. I attempted just about everything to get my contractions more regular and "acceptable": lunges, exercise ball, sashaying laps around the dining room table, and even a few moves I learned from Carmen Electra, and yet I couldn't get closer than seven minutes apart. I knew I would never be admitted under those circumstances, but decided to wake The Hubster up anyways and get the fam dressed and ready to go.

After dropping the kids off at my mom's, Hubster and I arrived at the hospital and were admitted - to triage. I answered about an hour's worth of questions and was told I would probably be sent home. Finally, a doctor checked me and announced in his Scottish/Irish accent that I would have a baby today. I was almost at a 9.

I was hurriedly ushered down the hall to a delivery room and was hooked up to machines and monitors. Baby's heart rate was awesome, and I was hanging out without having any contractions for quite some time. I was told I probably wouldn't progress until they broke my water, so I was put on hold for a little while so other women could deliver. Once the broke my water, I was having three minute contractions on top of one another. The room filled up with dozens of people, and it was time to get that baby out.

One contraction later, she arrived. Hubster announced, laughing, that it was another girl. I could feel myself filling with amazement at a third girl in a row, and with happiness. Our little girl was whisked over to the NICU staff, who assessed her from head to toe. I teared up watching Hubster watch her every move.

She was fairly large - measuring  just 0.1 oz short of nine pounds - our second largest baby. She was pink and crying, all good signs. I honestly didn't get a very good look at her, although I tried. People were surrounding her, and the NICU staff told me they didn't need to take her, and they congratulated me. I thanked them, and watched as she was dressed and swaddled before being handed over to me. Less than 30 seconds later she was taken to the nursery to be monitored. Hubster went with her.

I hate whining about this part, because I have every reason to be thankful and happy that baby was and is healthy. I have a beautiful girl who will thrive her whole life through. But I did not anticipate how hard it was to have my daughter leave me for the first time in 40 weeks for a full hour. I didn't get any skin-to-skin contact after birth (and being a brain-lover, I value this experience greatly), nor did I get to nurse or bond with her for over an hour. I sat completely alone in my room "recovering" and even started to forget what my new baby looked like. It was much harder than I could anticipate, even considering how much harder it could have been.

Regardless off that first hour, I was eventually reunited with my not-so-little beauty. I immediately stripped her down and held her close to me - breathing in her new baby scent and feeling how amazingly soft and warm her skin was. I felt her amazing little lungs breathing in and out, and felt the air come out of her nose and graze my shoulder. She was perfect.

I can't count how many people came in to discuss baby's health, but I repeatedly heard the same things: "... perfect.", "...healthy.", "...nearly resolved.". To say that I felt reassured in her stable health is an understatement. I knew she was safe, and that meant more than words could ever express.

We spent two days in the hospital, although we would have liked to left much sooner. Some of the staff were not aware of her CCAM status. She was treated like all of our other children - checked every couple of hours or so, but no extra help. Her xray showed what her ultrasounds had shown the last couple of weeks: her mass was of no immediate concern.

She has spent two days at home, is feeding great, has gained weight, and is sleeping like a champ. I would never guess that 20 weeks ago we were wondering if we would lose her before we got to meet her.

I look at her the same way I look at my other three children. I am amazed at her delicate features - the same ones I spent sleepless nights dreaming about for months on end. I see her father, grandparents, great grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, and other relatives in her sweet chubby face. But I also see the miracle I waited for - the one I was not sure about. The sweet, perfect baby that I wanted to see and hold more desperately than anything else. Knowing that we have almost nothing to worry about other than her older sister squashing her is enough to make me cry. We can be content in being crabby over sleepless nights, and nothing worse.

The hardest part of this journey was the unknown. We were given a spectrum of good and bad, and loose estimates on where we stood on that spectrum. Nobody could promise us anything. But life in general is like that. I have no clue what's in store for us. I can drive myself crazy wondering what can happen to any of us, and trying to gauge how likely any of those outcomes are. In the end, it doesn't really matter. We'll find out one way or another. Thankfully for us, I can all but cross this worry off the list.

We have a follow-up with surgery in four weeks. At that point we'll discuss surgery to remove the mass from baby's lung. Even though it is small, it does still exist, and could pose a few complications if it stays. But at this point, it's not life-threatening and is nothing more than a possible complication.

I remember 20 weeks ago researching everything I could on this matter. I played out every scenario in my head, and almost didn't allow this one to enter it. It seemed too good to be true. The fact that I can snuggle this sweet little wonder every night and spend a couple of uninterrupted weeks with her until our next doctor's appointment is blissful. I've learned so much from her in such a short amount of time.

One of those things is that we aren't guaranteed a happy ending, but there are happy moments and times when the improbable becomes probable. For now at least, I'm basking in the happiness that every morning brings me.

Belated full-term update

I reached full-term last week, and had another ultrasound. I forgot to post because there really isn't much that's new. And that's awesome.

I'm not even sure they measured baby at the ultrasound. They did a test in which baby had to have a certain amount of movements and do practice breathing within a half hour period. Baby passed pretty quickly. It's kind of surprising how little you can see of baby in the late stages. Here I was thinking we'd get a pretty good idea of what baby looks like at this point, but they're so smooshed in there that you can't really discern much. We did see that baby has hair, which is kind of exciting (and explains some of this wicked heartburn). We also got a picture that frightens me a little. See that face up there? If you do, doesn't it look pretty chunky? All of the kids have had cheeks on them, but that one has me worried about some behemoth baby in there. Like I said, we got no estimates on size, so we won't really know until the end. All the same, looking at that picture reminds me that baby has to come out. Woof.

The plan is the same - first sign of labor we are to go to Milwaukee. If we feel like there is no way we'll make it without a roadside delivery, we can go to our regular hospital and everything should be fine. No matter what, baby will have to be evaluated after birth, but there should be no life-threatening issues that will put baby in harm. We had a tour of the delivery and recovery room, as well as all of the nurseries (including NICU). I'm a little less nervous seeing the rooms and where we'll be. Something about giving birth in practically the same room three times in a row and then facing a whole different scenario makes you feel like a first-time mom all over again. But everything looks pretty much the same, so I feel a lot better. Visiting NICU was hard, and it took everything in me to not well up with tears, especially seeing how it affected the Hubster. Even though we know baby most likely won't be in NICU, it's still really hard to see such tiny little babies hooked up to so much machinery, and the amazing staff looking over them with such care. Just a lot of emotions running through you all at once.

I'm at the stage where I have about three shirts and two bottoms that fit without being offensive, it hurts to move, it feels like baby is clawing its way out, and I'm pretty sure I'll be getting more sleep with a newborn than I am now. But I really can't complain. This has been the fastest pregnancy by far. And over all, I've felt pretty decent. I've been taking better care of myself knowing that being pregnant in the summer and chasing after three kids would be hard, and it's made quite the difference. I still wish about 5 times a day that today would be the day, but I will totally make it another two weeks or so if it turns out that way.

It's also nice knowing that we don't have to prep the kids for much besides the sex of the baby. Sparkles thinks it will be a girl, and Boy Wonder knows it's a boy. He's convinced that the universe would not allow three girls to be born in a row, leaving him the only boy. He knows there are a lot of families with all girls or just one boy, but he's holding his ground. So although it's going to be tricky trying to prep him for the possibility of being wrong, it's so much better considering the other things we might have to prep him for.

I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow with my regular OB, so we'll see where things are. My next ultrasound in Milwaukee will be at 39 weeks (a little over a week from now), but we'll pretend that baby will be here before that, so everyone just let the very pregnant lady think what she wants ;)