Third Baby, Finally a Birth Story

Ever since before my oldest was born, I’ve meant to write each of my birth stories…but then I had a newborn, and then a newborn and a toddler, and for the past 364 days a preschooler/kindergartener, a preschooler and a baby. Today marks the last day of our final “baby year”. Harrison is our last baby and tomorrow he turns one. And with all of the big feelings that come with his birthday, one is nostalgia and wanting to hold onto the details that are already blurry. So I decided to finally sit down and write one of my babies’ birth stories.

A year ago today, I was six days overdue with our third baby. I had had my membranes stripped the day before because my doctor was a little worried about low fluid, as I’d had low fluid at the end of both of my previous two pregnancies, I had been suffering from PUPPS for the last few weeks and my maternity leave had already started and really, it was baby #3 and I was a week overdue. We were ready. But stripping my membranes had been anti-climactic and 24 hours later, nothing had happened.

Our two older kiddos were with my in-laws for the afternoon, so Chris and I ran some errands. We walked the aisles of BJs first and I had to stop a few times for some cramps. I wondered out loud if they were contractions and so we kept walking. After BJs, we figured if the walking was helping we might as well head across the street to Walmart and what maybe were contractions continued…coming sometimes every fifteen minutes, sometimes closer to twenty-five minutes apart. So nothing consistent but it definitely felt like maybe it could be something…and I wasn’t sure I’d know since my first pregnancy ended in a planned cesarean and my second was an induction in the hospital. And I didn’t want to get my hopes up and feel frustrated when and if they fizzled out. Which is exactly what happened while we were out eating dinner later that evening. So we chalked it up to an afternoon of my body getting a little closer and enjoyed what would most likely be our last date night for awhile. We got home around 8:30 and as we’re talking to my mother in law, I had another cramping episode and I had to hold onto the edge of the couch. I didn’t say anything though because again I didn’t want anyone to start thinking “this is it”, including myself.

As the night went on, the contractions seemed more regular, 15 mins apart, 10 mins apart…I tried using a heating pad and laying down in bed to see if I could get some sleep, but every time I started to doze off, another contraction would start and I was just too uncomfortable. I moved down to the couch and alternated between sitting on my exercise ball and laying down with the heating pad. I think I finally fell asleep around 4 am for about 45 minutes.

The next morning, as I filled my mother in over coffee, I asked her to get Henning, who was two and a half, from his crib when he woke up. I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry him since, at that point, I was way too uncomfortable. I had an appointment that morning for an NST and ultrasound at 9:30 and we were planning on dropping Louisa off at nursery school at 9:00 on our way. I figured I could make it until then, but by 7:45, I had to wake up Chris. I couldn’t make it. I couldn’t stay standing up through the contractions and it was hard to be in front of the two kids while I was in pain because they were getting worried and also still wanted me to help them with breakfast, snuggle and I couldn’t. So, Chris and I got in the car and headed over to the hospital and I called and left a message for my doctor.

We arrived on the maternity floor and we were shown to a room. The nurses hooked me up to the monitor and then a few minutes later the resident came in to check me. My contractions were still 5 to 7 minutes apart and discouragingly, I was only a little over 2 cm dilated. The resident said I should stay to get the ultrasound, but then we could either stay and see what happens, but that it might make more sense to go home until “active labor” really started. We were really frustrated–I had been so uncomfortable all morning and to only be 2 cm.

I was wheeled down to get the ultrasound to check my fluid levels and while the tech was taking the measurements, I had two more contractions. I remember her saying, “I know, lying flat can be really uncomfortable.” And I replied, sort of annoyed, “No, I’m having pretty strong contractions actually.”
Since the tech didn’t give us any information about the baby’s fluid levels, we had to wait upstairs in the room for news from the resident. While waiting, my contractions continued and I decided it might help to go for a walk. As we walked down one of the halls, I had to stop, bend over and hold onto the wall. I started crying and told Chris, “I’m not going to be able to do this, if it’s this bad already and I’m only at 2. I can’t do this.” He convinced me to walk back to the room and when I got there, the pain was starting to be consuming and I was literally climbing up the chair and then the bed, putting my forehead to the mattress and just rocking side to side. At this point, the resident returned and squatted down next to me. “This sounds like active labor.”

“No shit,” I thought to myself, nodding to her. She then asked if I wanted to get in the tub and I agreed, and then she suggested maybe to start in the shower since that would be faster. I needed to be put on a fetal monitor because I was attempting a VBAC, so she had the nurse go get it while she and Chris helped me into the shower. As soon as I was in the shower, the pain got even worse. The guttural moaning felt like it took over and I had a moment of thinking, “I think I’m at 8 cm now…this is what it felt like at 8cm with Henning, this point where I feel like my body is tearing apart and I can’t go on.” I dropped to my knees and the nurse came in and started trying to find the baby’s heartbeat. She was right in that tiny shower stall with me, partly holding me up and also urgently, repeatedly trying to get his heartbeat on the monitor. The resident came back in and asked if I was pushing and I wasn’t sure (Chris laughs now as he remembers this part because during both boys’ births, when asked if I was pushing, I said, “I don’t know”)…she told Chris to get me out of the shower and he looped my arms around his neck and half carried me to the bed. At this point, more people were coming into the room, there was a gurney by the door I remember noticing in my peripheral view and thinking, “No, I don’t want a c-section, oh no, what is happening.” They were having trouble keeping track of his heartbeat and were using wire leads to find it on his head instead of with the monitor. I could tell they were worried. Chris says they were whispering about prepping the OR. And then, my doctor came running in and jumped over the gurney that was blocking the doorway and over to me. He had me roll onto my side, had Chris hold one of my legs and told me we needed to have this baby now. He told me to take a deep breath and push. I was still screaming and trying to push, and at one point he said, “Okay, Kirsten, we need this baby out, so less screaming, more pushing.” And so I focused in and started pushing more. But the baby was having a hard time. The doctor had to give me an episiotomy and the baby was still not coming, so they got the vacuum. The details are blurry now, but on the second or third attempt, his head was finally out and the doctor pulled him out and onto my chest.

Harrison was born at 12:06 pm on March 23, 2017, just over 3 hours after we arrived at the hospital. Happy Birthday, Harrison.



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/9/13)

From Evernote:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/9/13)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Since last week was the first week of school and we had a super-busy weekend at home, I didn’t read as much as I had hoped to. Hopefully, as things settle down, I’ll be able to get into a routine that includes more reading each evening!

I did, though, set up the entrance to my office to be a place to share new and old favorites with my colleagues. Here are two pictures:

What I Read This Week:

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Of course, I had to read this after reading all of the blogposts about this new picture book! And it didn’t disappoint. It took me a moment during the first read to understand what was happening, but I love that about the book. I quickly shared it with a few teachers and can’t wait to see how their students respond to the story!

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman

Another much-read-about picture book, I laughed out loud as I read this story. A great story about friendship and trying new things–perfect at the start of the school year.

Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan

A beautiful story, another tearjerker by Patricia MacLachlan, about a boy and his grandfather. I love how Patricia lets us into her characters’ lives through conversations and a child’s observations and thoughts.

The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar

I’ve been dipping into this book as I try to learn more about how best to support other teachers at the start of the school year. There are some great prompts and questions for coaching conversations as well as helpful ways to think about the different lenses through which we can observe and give helpful feedback.

What’s Next in My Reading Stack:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/2/13)

From Evernote:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/2/13)

Being new to Twitter and relatively new to the blogging world, I just discovered this "meme" and am excited to attempt my first time participating. It will be great to find new titles that others are reading, share what I’ve been reading, and make reading plans for the week ahead.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

What I Read This Week:

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

This is the book that the fourth grade teachers I work with are planning to use as their first read aloud of the new school year. The main character, Anna, who is in the fourth grade figures out over the course of the story how to be and make friends…something that many fourth grade girls are figuring out. The book is also a nominee for the Rhode Island Children’s Book Awards, and I’m excited to share it with many of our students.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

I’m very in the late in the game when it comes to reading this beautiful story. I was hesitant to read it because, just like a movie that gets rave reviews, I was worried it wouldn’t live up to al lot the great things I had heard….But, I finished it in two sittings and loved it. I’m so excited that one of our fifth grade teachers has decided to kick-off the year with this book, as I think the fourth graders who read Charlotte’s Web last year as a grade will find many connections between Ivan, Stella, Bob and Ruby and Charlotte, Wilbur and Templeton. The story moved me to tears and I’m so glad I finally made the time to read this new children’s classic!

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan

I am a sucker for anything written by Patricia MacLachlan, especially Baby, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Edward’s Eyes, and Word After Word After Word. See, I’m about to list a dozen of her books:) This story of a young boy learning about himself and his family is both magical and beautifully written. Not sure if it ranks at the top of my PM list, but I loved reading it and can’t wait to share it with my colleagues who also love her work.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Another teacher I work with was carrying this very large book around with him a few weeks ago and I was intrigued. The size alone is intimidating, although very appealing for many young readers. I just had to check it out;) After reading the blurb and seeing the first few pages, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. Would I really be able to follow a story half of which was told only in picture? And the answer…a definitive YES. I loved this book and found myself "closely reading" the illustrations and trying to figure out how the characters were connected. As a former New Yorker who loved getting lost in its museums, I loved being transported into the Museum of Natural History.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

One of the third grade teachers is thinking of starting the year with this funny book. My daughter’s nickname is Lulu and so I found myself both laughing out loud and cringing at the main character’s behavior. I loved the songs and the story and can’t wait to see how this book helps her start to build a community of readers who love to read and laugh together.

What’s Next in My Reading Stack:

Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan

Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graffiti

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

And for my adult book club, I need to get started on:

Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Quiet–Five Minute Friday

I went back to work this week.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but what I found the most unsettling at work was how quiet it was.

Transitioning back into my position when the school year started nine weeks ago means I have a lot of catching up to do. There’s observing and listening and reading work I need to do to understand what’s been happening in my absence. I also have a new office space that needed to be organized and set up. This work was all very quiet compared to the work I’m usually doing, and it was a bit unsettling.

I found myself on a few occasions, sitting in my new office, looking around and feeling a bit overwhelmed by how quiet it was, so I’d pop into a classroom to be with students or walk down the hallway to “eavesdrop” on the work teachers and students were doing. I know that the quiet will be soon be replaced by a schedule crammed with teacher meetings and classroom work (I can’t wait!), but I’ve also realized that quiet is a good thing–I’m getting to hear and observe what I might otherwise have missed if I was jumping in quickly to add my ideas. Hopefully, I can remember to hold onto a little quiet in the coming weeks…

5-Minute Friday

I recently stumbled upon a website called “Lisa-Jo Baker: tales from a Gypsy Mama” I honestly don’t remember how I found it or what I had been searching for–I’ve been doing a lot of web searches lately at three or four in the morning when I’m up feeding L but not quite awake. The searches range from “cloth diaper systems” (we’re starting as soon as I get our system set up!) to “3 month old sleepier than usual” (she was taking lots of naps). So, I’m not sure what led me to Lisa-Jo Baker’s website, but I found myself reading and I subscribed to her email. That’s how I found out about her 5-Minute Friday writing challenge where she posts a word or topic and invites others to just write for five minutes. The idea is that on days when you don’t want to write, just push yourself, just write for five minutes. I could use that today (after the excitement of putting my first post out there, I was a little nervous to try again, hesitant to pick a topic). So, thank you, Lisa-Jo. Here goes….


Before Louisa was born, I was always in a hurry. In a hurry to get to work because I pressed snoozed one too many times. In a hurry to get from my classroom to a meeting to another classroom. In a hurry to make one more chart, send one more email, make one more copy. And it wasn’t her birth that slowed me down, but the car accident I was in 7 days before she was born.

In my pre-motherhood life, I never could say “no”–not when it came to work. I didn’t want to say “no”. The busier I was, the better. I loved (and still do love) sharing my ideas, being involved, and helping my colleagues. Teaching excites me. I could talk about curriculum or students or a single lesson for hours. So, even when at 37 weeks, my doctors admitted me into the hospital to monitor the baby and my fluid levels, I still wanted to work. I stopped teaching, but wanted to finish the work that I could. It literally felt like a race to the finish. Could I get it all done before the baby arrived?

That’s why I was at work that Tuesday. I was meeting with my two of my colleagues to look ahead at coming year’s calendar and units of study. It was a meeting I had scheduled so that I could support them in their planning before my impending leave…We met all day, but then I left right at 3, which wasn’t typical, but I had errands to run. Yep, I just had to order the new bureau for our bedroom and then from there, I’d be running to get my nails done. All part of getting ready, right?

Well, it was rush hour as I headed back through the city from the furniture store. I looked down, or over, for a moment and realized, “Oh, I have to slow down–there’s a car in front of me.” But, instead of hitting the brake, I hit the gas and crashed right into that car.

I won’t and can’t describe how terrifying that car accident was. My car ended up being completely totalled, but everyone involved, thankfully, walked away with very minor injuries, if any. I spent the night in the hospital because I did have a few contractions. But the baby was okay–actually, the baby and the fluid levels, ironically, looked the best they had since my 37 week appointment.

That next morning, I finally realized I couldn’t race anymore. I had to let go, at least for a little while. Since then, life has redefined “busy” for me…it’s not running from here to there. “Busy” this week was getting outside three times in one day with my daughter 🙂 I’m sure “busy” will take on yet another meaning when I’m back at work, but I think (I hope) I won’t be in such a race.