Glorious Chub

Glorious Chub

When did I love you less? Never. 

How many times have I stretched a baby sock over a freshly lotioned, plump pink baby calf? With four older sisters, Rebekah, you know it was many, many, many times. 

I would circle my finger around inside your little sock. It gapped so drastically. Rubbing the tiny knob of your ankle, watching your soft skin roll and wrinkle as I easily slipped the sock back off, I would kiss your long thin toes as they curled onto and gripped my finger.  

A long, skinny 5lbs and 10oz, I usually dressed you in long-sleeved, footed outfits or in many layers, not because I was ever ashamed of you; please know that it was never that, but because I wanted to protect you from any raised eyebrows, from whispers of concern, from tight-lipped smiles, from critical eyes. People can be cruel. 

Your wide eyes were glazed with fatigue at times, not always, but even once a week was too much. You fought sleep  sometimes, even when we knew you were exhausted. 

You will never know how many hours your dad would patiently rock you, slowly massaging, warmly snuggling, securely pressing you into his safe chest. Hours and hours, leaving his hand in your crib with you because you would wake if he tried to sneak away. Your strong, delicate fingers wrapped tightly around his thick finger, but he cannot deny that he was the one who was wrapped. 

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You slap my face with your chubby hands, throw your head back smiling, then head butt me as you pull my head toward you, slobbering all over my face as you cover  me with the messiest, sweetest kisses.

In two days, you will be 9 months old, and this morning while I watched you laugh as you splashed water onto your fat face in the bathtub, I decided I needed to weigh you again. 

Whoa…19.1 lbs of glorious chub, I was elated to see that. But just so we are clear–this scale has never weighed, and could never weigh, my love for you or your worth as a baby. 

You are so curious about Audrey’s kitten Carly, and she is curious to know you too.

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 Morning babies, playing hard.


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YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY GIRL!!





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Kids

Kids

Rebekah has become very fussy/frustrated when I try to nurse her lately. On Tuesday, I finally decided to quit driving us both nuts and I started pumping. I am currently pumping around 12oz of breastmilk daily. She will nurse some overnight, but she takes a bottle very well at any hour, so whatever it takes at this point. 

I am also currently supplementing maybe 8oz with Meyenberg powdered goat milk, as I work at building my supply. 

I hate pumping. The hum of the pump mrrrrr mrrrr…starts sounding like a cow to me. And I scowl at it. When I’m home, I now pump 5min on each side and take a 30 minute break, and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. 

I have a new found compassion for women who gave up breastfeeding. This is my fifth baby, and I never had a problem with my other four EVER. Not at all. 

They were fat and healthy and born pros at nursing. I get it now. I get it. Oh my lord, how does anyone work this hard at sticking with nursing for more than 3-4 days?

I hope I don’t give up. Don’t let me. 

My brain has these movie quotes tumbling around in my head. 

I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?

Little…little Gepetto. That’s what we named him. Into a little saucer. 

Are there many farms in Detroit, Greg?

You never told me about your cat-milking days in Motown. 

Mrrrr mrrrrr mrrrr. Either you know exactly what I’m feeling here or you don’t know at all. I don’t think there’s much middle ground. 

So while I build my supply, I’ve been reading about supplementing with a homemade raw goat milk formula

I was particularly intrigued by goats raw milk because it contains thyroid hormones t3 and t4. See also–study about thyroid hormones in goat milk

  
Which, human breastmilk also contains these thyroid hormones, but if I’m going to have to supplement with something until my supply fits her demand. I’m most intrigued with raw goat milk.

Sweatpants. Messy bun. Call me Milkbags. 

  

Rebekah Ruby Kate

Congenital Hypothyroidism 

Congenital Hypothyroidism 

I received a phone call early on Friday morning, March 18. This was the call with the results from the second test. Keith was at work. My oldest three daughters at school. I was home alone with Clara (2) and Rebekah (4.5 weeks).

I stood there in my pajamas and tried my best to remember all the high points, so that I could learn more about everything I was being told–Primary Congenital Hypothyroidism. Synthroid. Brain damage. Daily prescription for life. Referral to a pediatric endocrinologist at a Children’s Hospital 2.5 hours away. 

Rebekah’s newborn screening, done when she was exactly 7 days old on February 22, had had an abnormal result for her thyroid function. 

On March 10, the state nurse had called me because she said my pediatrician’s office told her they couldn’t reach me. The day she called and left a message saying the initial newborn screening had abnormal  results was–Audrey’s 11th birthday, and also cheer tryouts day for Margaret and Hazel; I’m not surprised I missed the call(s). 

I listened to the voicemail late that night and barely slept, called her back the next morning, March 11. The state nurse told me that there were often elevated numbers that ended up being “false positives” after further testing. So I tried not to be too worried.

We had a more conclusive test done on Rebekah’s thyroid on Wednesday, March 16. The doctor explained the basics of TSH and T4. 

So during my phone call with the pediatrician’s nurse on March 18, I asked what her test results were and what prompted them to prescribe Synthroid. I wrote this down–

TSH 38.56

T4 free 1.21

I asked for the numbers from the newborn screening as well, but apparently they weren’t handy. I asked if I could have all of Rebekah’s lab results mailed to me. I was told I would have to come and sign a medical release in person; though I was positive that I had filled one out at the first visit. But okay. 

This… 

 
I was being told–we believe your baby has this condition. I was told in this one phone call–her results indicate primary congenital hypothyroidism. I was also told–this is not something babies “outgrow” over time. 

They did not assess her for symptoms. They did not ask me if she had any of these symptoms. They based their decision to prescribe a lifetime prescription on her test. 

So I start looking up the symptoms…besides her thyroid numbers they’ve given me…

  

Hm…no. She doesn’t have ANY of these symptoms. Maybe I’m being biased somehow? I start comparing photos of babies with the condition to photos of my baby…

Rebekah on the left

Some websites said most babies with primary congenital hypothyroidism would start showing signs around 3-4 weeks old. Some sites said babies may show no signs.

Okay well 1 in 4000 babies is diagnosed with this disorder. There are about 4 million babies born in the US yearly, so that’s about 1000 newborn CH diagnoses a year. I can’t be the only one who has ever asked questions. So I start searching out more information from scholarly articles and parent forums. 

The words “BRAIN DAMAGE” were used on the phone with me. What mother wants to hear those words? And I was told, she is being prescribed Synthroid and being referred to a pediatric endocrinologist. 

Yes I understand that thyroid function is necessary. But I also understand science, and I would like proof of brain damage that they are threatening she will develop. Where are the recent statistics from our country that prove brain damage is imminent? 

I’m not talking about photos and studies from iodine-deficient countries. Or studies from the 1970s and earlier (when the subjects were diagnosed because they actually manifested CH symptoms and not diagnosed by this screening.)

I cried. Right there on the phone with the nurse. Are you serious? Are you sure? What else can cause this result? And it never changes? I don’t want her on a prescription medication this young, definitely not FOR LIFE. I need more information and proof that this is the only option. 

Synthroid (Levothyroxine), I searched user reviews and the listed side effects…

  
Sure. Most of these side effects are listed as rare. But here I have this tiny, perfect little newborn daughter…who has no visible symptoms of this disorder, and who is happy and healthy. And I am supposed to want to give her this drug…for LIFE? Starting immediately.

She had two very fussy weeks, week 6 and 7. But besides those 2 weeks, she’s content, alert, pooping once a day, peeing several times, nursing happily, smiling social smiles at her family, reaching developmental milestones, gaining weight…not as rapidly as they want her to, but she’s gaining. 

I thought people with hypothyroidism had trouble LOSING weight. 

If she took Synthroid and had some of these bad side effects, most of them…she wouldn’t be able to tell me. And clearly listed side effects were–weight loss and growth and developmental delays in children. 

I should give her this drug why? To improve her thyroid numbers only. Is that even a guarantee? 

I searched–Does Synthroid, always improve TSH levels? No, it doesn’t.  I found this article, which states–

“Persistent elevation of TSH levels in patients under treatment for hypothyroidism is a relatively common clinical problem in endocrinology practice.” (How do You Approach the Problem of TSH Elevation in a Patient on High-dose Thyroid Hormone Replacement?)

  
So. The ONE and only “symptom” she has–elevated TSH, may or may not go away…even if she takes Synthroid. And, she could have any of these other listed side effects. 

I just…I need some time to process.

It seemed like most user reviews of Synthroid were adults who talked a lot about how it helped them with weight loss. I’m not saying these adults don’t need or benefit from the drug. I am saying–the last thing Rebekah needs…is weight loss. 

Rebekah was 5lbs 10oz at birth even though I had her at 39 weeks and 6 days. My other daughters were 7lbs 14oz, 8lbs 8oz, 7lbs 6oz, and 8lbs 4oz. So Rebekah was small for one of my babies, and I have been working so hard to help her GAIN weight. 

Rebekah had velamentous cord insertion, which can cause delivery complications and a low birth weight. This condition causes low birthweight because the cord is attached abnormally, so the baby struggles to gain weight in the last few weeks of the pregnancy especially. Thankfully her delivery did not have complications; it was smooth and problem free, so now I’ve just been working on her weight gain.

I asked the doctor if her abnormal thyroid results might be related to her struggle to get nutrients in utero. That made sense to me. If her body had trouble getting nutrients because her cord was attached abnormally…maybe THAT was why her thyroid numbers were still off. She had been fighting to gain weight. He said…no.

Yet this scholarly article addresses that EXACT concern of mine–Thyroid Function in Small for Gestational Age Newborns: A Review. And the article addresses the fact that there is medical controversy around diagnosing and treating SGA (small for gestational age) babies using the same criteria as AGA (appropriate for gestational age) babies. 

  

And this scholarly article addresses my thoughts/questions, too…TSH levels in newborn with low and very low birth weight vs rescreening for congenital hypothyroidism.

  

So the usual protocol with Synthroid and congenital hypothyroidism, as I understand, is that the baby MUST stay on it for 3 years. At age 3, they will do a trial off for one month, and retest the thyroid. If results are still in abnormal ranges, then the prescription is “needed” for life. 

Wait. There’s a chance that the results might be NORMAL at age 3? What about–this condition is never outgrown? I think I’m confused. Did I miss something? Is the diagnosis sometimes…wrong?

They won’t say the diagnosis can turn out to be wrong later. They will call it transient congenital hypothyroidism. But that doesn’t mean it was WRONG? You’re telling me she has this. That it won’t change. Throwing around the words brain damage (with no proof and statistics offered for this threatening claim).

And I have to do my own google searches to even find out about the transient version.  Wait. Doesn’t transient MEAN changing…

  

I don’t know much about the chemistry involved with synthetic hormones. I’ve heard and read that when guys take steroids, their balls shrink and don’t produce natural testosterone as well when they first cycle off steroids.

Maybe I’m wrong to assume that screwing with a newborn’s thyroid and hormones would cause similar damage to their thyroid? Cause it to shrink and not produce hormones correctly when/if they cycle off of their synthetic hormone that they have been prescribed…for life. 

So parents are supposed to scramble over to the pharmacy to get a “magic pill” for an unchanging, lifelong diagnosis (…that might change) to prevent brain damage (…of which I’ve found no proof). 

But I wasn’t told that transient congenital hypothyroidism exists; I wasn’t given any links to point me to statistics of brain damage in untreated CH from the US in recent times. I was told to START THAT MED.

 
Even if I am wrong to assume the fake hormone might damage her thyroid’s ability to function on its own. Even if I don’t know the exact chemistry. I do still have patient rights, don’t I? Am I allowed to ask questions about my own daughter’s health and her doctor’s unsubstantiated claims about brain damage?

I like facts. I don’t respond well to bullying, manipulation, guilt and fear tactics. I respond like–hold up. I’m going to need you to go over there, and let me think and breathe over here. 

I wondered to myself–Could synthetic thyroid drugs, like Synthroid, actually make your thyroid condition worse

  
Hm. 

I asked myself questions like–Have doctors ever steered us wrong before? Ever recommended or endorsed products that they later agreed/admitted were harmful?

  

Have I ever seen commercials that list tons of adverse side effects of drugs? Or had I seen commercials about class action lawsuits related to “you or one of your loved ones” who have possibly taken a certain drug?

Does the medical community ever change its collective mind about treatments? Do they ever recommend treatments that are later proven to be harmful? 10 Most Insane Medical Practices in History

  
Hm. 

I am allowed to ask questions and draw my own conclusions and make my own choices, right? Because I’ll be honest, I often don’t feel like people offer me that respect and space.

I look around at a world full of prescriptions, and you all go ahead. Not that you are waiting on my permission. But I respect your right to make that choice for yourself.

I have one main question for Rebekah’s doctor when I go for her followup appointment on May 2–Do you have proof of brain damage in children who didn’t take Synthroid?

Because that is a scary threat to throw at a mother of a newborn. And I found many parent forums discussing how their infant on Synthroid had lost weight and was not growing and not reaching developmental milestones. 

But I didn’t find any information about parents who chose a different route. I didn’t find any recent proof of brain damage in children in our country. I’m not saying it isn’t there. But where is it?

All the photos I saw were children from third-world countries who had severe iodine deficiency. And I found vague, unsubstantiated claims that mental retardation and brain damage must be avoided by starting the med ASAP, but I found no proof of this actual happening. 

I’m more than willing to look at that evidence. And yes it would have a profound effect on my decisions. 

But I didn’t find any recent photos or articles talking about all the brain damage that children developed by not taking Synthroid soon enough. Where is it? Someone let me know. 

Congenital hypothyroidism is diagnosed at a rate of at least 1000 per year for the past…I don’t know how many years. I can’t be the ONLY parent who didn’t immediately start Synthroid.  So where is the proof that a delay in “treatment” caused brain damage?
Where. Is. It?

I am Rebekah’s voice. It’s okay to ask questions on her behalf. Don’t tell me you are concerned for my daughter, and think that your concern trumps mine as her mom. 

I make choices that scare the crap out of many people. Okay. Just thank God you weren’t born one of my kids. And thank God that I’m not the one making choices for you and your kids and your prescriptions. I don’t know what else to say really.

I didn’t pick up the prescription.
  
 

Regarding Rebekah, 5th daughter

Regarding Rebekah, 5th daughter

How do you measure a baby’s worth? I certainly hope no one would say–on a scale.

My newborn daughter is a precious baby human, and not a little ball of numbers. Her sole purpose for existing is not to win the gold star of approval from any current pediatric expert, or from anyone.

Velamentous cord insertion. I’d never heard of it. And because my delivery went smoothly with no problems, I can honestly say–I’m glad I didn’t know during the pregnancy that her cord was attached abnormally to the placenta.

 
Rebekah Ruby Kate, born February 15, 2016, arrived only one day before the 40-week mark, but she only weighed 5lbs 10oz. Healthy and strong, tiny and perfect.

I know that her size isn’t super tiny for a full-term baby, but she is super tiny for one of my babies. My other girls weighed–7lbs 14oz, 8lbs 8oz, 7lbs 6oz, and 8lbs 4oz. 

Had I done something wrong? Would she have other developmental problems? I was a nervous wreck as I read and read and gathered as much information as I could about velamentous cord insertion.

This was a high-risk pregnancy, but we didn’t know that until after her delivery. 

Because Rebekah’s cord was attached to the sac instead of directly to the placenta, there were veins that could’ve easily ruptured.

Velamentous cord insertion occurs in 1% of singleton births, and in 15% of twin births. My sister had twins, my aunt had a twins ultrasound at 6wks along, and then it was “a disappearing twin” by the next ultrasound. I only had one ultrasound, at 16 weeks along. Did Rebekah also have a disappearing twin? I’m glad I don’t know. 

Apparently this type of cord abnormality often results in a miscarriage early in pregnancy. Had it been known, it would require a mandatory C-section possibly as early as 35-weeks. And if the condition is unknown during a vaginal delivery, often a vein can rupture resulting in a stillborn birth.

I’m glad I didn’t know. Now…had something gone terribly, tragically wrong during my delivery, maybe I’d say something else. But I’m glad. I am glad I didn’t know.

Maybe it seems reckless or irresponsible to say I’m glad that the risks were unknown, but I would’ve been stressed out for my whole pregnancy and possibly would’ve let her be taken early. I am glad that she lived and developed inside me almost the entire 40 weeks. And I am very thankful that nothing went wrong with her delivery, SO thankful. I barely bled and healed quickly after her delivery. 

Rebekah was easy to carry, and she stayed in utero until 39 weeks, 6 days. I taught my fitness dance classes until I was 39 weeks. I didn’t stress about anything. I have 4 other daughters, and Keith has 3 children. Our lives stay very busy, and I didn’t slow down any during pregnancy. Rebekah was my easiest delivery. I went from being dilated to 6cm to having her in my arms in about 30 minutes.

I knew she was small when I held her, but we didn’t know her cord was attached abnormally until I delivered the placenta. After reading and reading and reading, all I could find out about velamentous cord insertion was that–there could be serious complications with a vaginal delivery, and the baby will be small. 

Her brain, lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, etc would all be formed and functional. She would just be small. And she was. And she is. 

God designed us, and he didn’t hand over growth charts to make sure we all scrambled around trying to force our babies to all grow at the exact same rate. 

She was 5lbs 11oz at her one week appointment, and we were praised that she was back to birthweight so quickly, because they just want newborns back to birthweight by 2 weeks…so this was good progress. 

She had a minor cough her second week of life and had lost an ounce. She was 5lbs 10oz at her 2 week appointment, birthweight. Okay. This was fine to me. 

She can’t be expected to grow too much in length weekly, so all her gain is most likely going to be chub, 100% fat. 

I was thinking about it yesterday in terms of butter–

A box of butter is one pound, 16oz

One stick is 4oz, 8 Tablespoons 

So each Tablespoon is 1/2oz of fat. 

The pediatrician was saying he wanted her gaining 1-2oz daily, that’s 2-4 Tablespoons of butter staying on her DAILY. I’m thinking… what am I supposed to be eating to make that happen?!

Her pediatrician wanted me to pump and feed her instead of nursing her. And I’m staring at him thinking–when did numbers on paper replace common sense in parenting? 

I can’t imagine suggesting such an idea to all animals–pump and feed. We need to measure. Now, I’m not a wild animal…most of the time. But this made good sense?

I’ve successfully breastfed my other 4 daughters when they were little–15 months, 14 months, 14 months, 10.5 months. This is a 24-hrs a day, 7 days a week commitment. No I don’t have a medical degree, but I have pretty extensive on-the-job training. 

Pump and feed her instead? Because she lost one ounce? You wanted her back to birthweight by two weeks. She is. Where’s my stupid gold star? 

I told him I didn’t want to, and didn’t plan to, pump and bottlefeed her. My first daughter had nipple confusion because we introduced the bottle when she was 3-4 weeks old.

He smiled smugly and assured me Rebekah’s nursing was well-established by 2 weeks and that wouldn’t happen. And he knows this fact because…? He has personally breastfed…how many babies?

Um, I don’t care what your books say, nipple confusion and frustration is VERY real. And it’s incredibly difficult to work through. He suggested I could feed her with a syringe.

I didn’t. I breastfed her.

We came back to the pediatrician for a 4 week appointment, Rebekah had gained 15oz in 15 days and weighed 6lbs 9oz. This was the low end of acceptable for his charts, but acceptable. I let Clara, my 2-year-old, take 6 or 7 Doc McStuffins stickers from the sticker table as we left. Sure, have another. Another? Sure. Strolled out. 

Rebekah gained some again at 5 weeks, and then she lost some at 8 weeks. Panic gripped my heart. I got so sad. I felt like such a failure. And here she is–this beautiful little baby, kicking her thin limbs around and staring at me, trusting me, loving me, not worried, not sick. Just little. 

This is my job. And I’m failing. Socks don’t stay on–tragedy. I must fatten you into a pudgy basketball as soon as possible. Google search–can I feed my newborn…butter?

I borrowed a digital scale from my midwife and I am nursing diligently, and I’m weighing and recording her results regularly. My midwife told me that a 4-6oz gain per week would be great with breastfeeding, which is more like a pound in a month, not in week. That seemed more realistic. She said at the rate of a pound a week, soon Rebekah would be so round she wouldn’t be able to roll over or sit up. 

One night when I was frustrated because Rebekah is so small and her gains just don’t always fit the charts, my oldest daughter Margaret (who had just gone to her room for the night) sent me this text–

  

Margaret’s words really touched my heart. Rebekah’s beautiful eyes are full of curiosity. She smiles with pure joy when we talk to her. She tries very hard to coo and communicate with us. Rebekah is healthy and active and surprisingly very STRONG for her size. 

She may never be chubby. She may never fit the mold. I see more than that when I look at her. 

Rebekah is small. Okay. So what?
 

  
  

    

  
  

  
     

Liebster Award Nomination

Liebster Award Nomination

I want to sincerely thank A Mother of All Trades for nominating me for my very first Liebster Award. Take some time to check out her blog using the hyperlink.

I googled this award to try to learn a little more about it, as I’m incredibly new to the blogging world. Very honored, and thank you again, Jennifer.

“‘Liebster’ is a German word meaning beloved or dearest. In the blogging world, the Liebster Award is online recognition given by bloggers to other new bloggers for enjoying or valuing their work. It is meant to highlight and credit favorite new up and coming blogs within our writing community.”

(Jan 20, 2016 jentheredonethat.com)

The ten questions she asked me are as follows:

1. What made you start blogging?

I feel like I have some decent stories to share.

2. What was the last movie you saw, and did you like it?

Daddy’s Home–yes, I liked it.


3. If you needed a pick-me-up, what song    would you turn on to cheer you up?

Different songs for different moods–

“This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell is a favorite, especially during pregnancy


4. What is one of your pet peeves?

Adults disrespecting children.


5. What are some things you’ve crossed off your bucket list so far?

Starting a blog! Ha! ;D


6. What is your favorite meal?

Any meal with all our kids; I don’t care what we are eating. 


7. If you could meet any blogger in real life, who would you choose?

I don’t know yet, honestly. 



8. What is your favorite childhood memory?

My parents coming to watch me cheer at football games. 

9. What do you dislike about blogging?

The technical aspects–html code, glitches, etc

10. If you were stuck on an island and could pick one person to be stuck with, who would you pick and why?

My husband Keith–he would get us off of there, and in the meantime, I’d be with my favorite person. 


My nominations are–

A Mother of All Trades

Sugar, Spice, Everything Nice

realmarklandry

I Do and Adieu

magster120

KcRambles

mommyoftwinjas

Jen Fabian

beautybeyondbones

omasramblingsword

Uhhhhhhhhh

Uhhhhhhhhh

 I can’t do this. I can’t do this. God, please take over. I can’t do this. No one can help me. Women do this every day. Every day. You’re strong, you can do it. Oh God, I can’t do this. I’m not strong. Please help. I think words, but I can’t say them. The damp rag on my forehead starts sliding on the right side only. I want someone to take it off, but I can’t talk. 

My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I hope someone puts a straw to my lips soon, but I can’t ask. Here comes the next one…ohhhhhh. Blow…blow…blow…blow OWWWWWWW! Blow-blow-blow-blow-blow, blowblowblowblowblow! Okay, okay, okay. Blowwww, blowwww. Okay.

“You’re doing good, Mom.” They don’t know how much I need to hear that. I want to cry. I want to say–thank you, baby. I want it to be over. I can’t do this.

Stop moving around the room. I don’t like hearing people moving around. My eyes are closed, and I can’t open them. I need everything to be still and not change. Some hairs are pasted to the side of my face. The ends of the hairs flutter below my nose as I breathe. For the love of all things holy–no one sees those?! Please swipe them toward my messy bun. Any one of you. 
 
What is that tapping? Why? Stop. Everyone please just don’t move. I can’t ask. I go as limp as possible, let my body float in the water. God, take over; I’m not going to do anything; I can’t do it. Just…make it be over. I’m going to relax and just let it happen, but I’m not going to do it. Ohhhhhh. Another one. Oh oh oh. Uhhhhhhhhhhh!

“Emily, don’t push.” Shut up. Uhhhhhhhhhh!

I start kegeling because that’s what I want to do. My shoulders are stuck to the plastic inflatable birthing tub. I lean forward just enough to peel them off, and my body slips further into the water. I don’t want this. I’m slipping in too far. I want my shoulders stuck back the way they were. I can’t ask. I press one heel into the pool floor to lift back out some. 

Nooo! The movement brings on another one. I wave both hands in the air agitatedly. They know it means I want someone to grab each hand. No! I didn’t get a break. A neverending  Charlie horse, but there is no way to stretch it. Just…try not to fight it. Breathe and wait. It does end…Uhhhhhhhhh!! 

Keith is on my left. My three older daughters and my niece rotate who holds my right hand. I don’t ever know who it is. I don’t open my eyes. I feel Keith’s big strong hand in my left hand. I feel a small strong hand in my right hand. Uhhhhhhhhhh!

“Emily, don’t push unless you can’t help it.” I will do…whatever I want. Let me do this. Stop talking. Uhhhhhhhh!

A fan is buzzing. Buzz buzz buzz buzzzzzzz buzzing. Buzzbuzz. Uhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! AAAAAAaaaa!! I hate you, fan. Shut up.  No…blow on me. Blow these hairs off my cheek. 

“She’s down there!! Good job, Mom!! We see her head!!”

Okay. Okay. Slloooowww inhale. Slloooowwww exhale. Okay. Okay. There is a creased wrinkle in the plastic pool lining where my upper arm is resting on the side. My hips are slightly tilting. I want them to float level. I don’t care. I don’t really care. 

I just need a few seconds to breathe, and then I will be ab-…Uhhhhhhhhhhh!!

“Counter-pressure!” My voice is so strained; there’s no way anyone understood what I said. My body is ripping in half. Cough cough a little phlegm in my throat. I don’t have time to choke right now. My eyebrows knit together and my light coughs turn into a slight begging whine. No. NO! Don’t let yourself cry.  Just let it happen. It’s not me. This is a movie. 

“Dad…switch me spots.” My midwife puts a hand lightly above and below. It helps so much. She had understood me.

“No!” I hold his hand tighter. I shake my head in quick, slight movements. I set my jaw. I don’t want anyone to move places.
 
“I will come hold your hand, Emily.” My midwife is calm and full of patience. I am not feeling like negotiating. I know we said we want him to catch. But no.

“Emily, I will switch spots with him.”

“No! MOM!” My mom understands. She takes my left hand. No turning back now. This is happening. Keith moves down there.  Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

“Blow blow blow! Easy! Slow down!”

“Aaaaaa!! Uhuhuhuhuh!!! It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts! Grrrrrrr! Uhhhhhh!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”

“HER HEAD IS OUT!”

My head falls back. Go limp. Go limp. I’m washed over with every emotion. I want to cry. I can’t. Oh God…the shoulders. OH GOD! Uhhhhhh…uhhhhhhhh…oh God…. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

“Lift her out! Lift her out, Dad!” 

I grab my baby from his hands. Place her on my chest and press her against me.

“EMILY! That was amazing! You did so good, Baby! I’m so proud of you!” Keith’s eyes are saucers. I will never forget how overjoyed he looked. 

“I’m done.” Sob sob sob sob sob. I hold her tightly. “I’m done. I’m done. Oh thank God.”
I see my mom crying. I see my girls smiling and crying. Sob sob sob sob sob. Her head in one hand, her tiny butt in the other. I’m done I’m done I’m done I’m done I’m done. 

I give in to the crying. I have no idea what anyone else says or does for a few moments. But it’s all fine with me. It’s perfect. Nothing could annoy me. My shoulders slump and shake.  That did just happen, right? I am done?

“She is a girl, isn’t she?” Oh I hadn’t even checked. Yes. A girl. Another perfect little tiny daughter. What are boys?

“Last one. I can’t do that ever again.”

“You said that last time.”

“That was fast!” No. That was an eternity. 

Rebekah Ruby Kate, you are loved. You are so so so loved. Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss. My baby. My baby. 

  
Born at 5:23am on February 15, 2016