Saturday, October 20

The Birth Story of Baby Four

Well, our fourth little Gunnell (and third little girl) has arrived! I am snuggling her as I type this.

Pardon the cheesiness, but having her in our home, and especially in my arms the past five days has been actual perfect bliss. It seems like by the fourth time around, I've truly learned to appreciate and just savor this much too brief newborn stage. Granted, I've always love love loved newborns. It's one of the most enjoyable stages for me, but then I've been pretty fortunate to get children who love to nurse and sleep and we haven't had major challenges like colic.

But to get to the details:

On Sunday, October 14, 2018, we welcomed Tessa Joelle Gunnell at 8:56pm. 
She was 7 lbs, 14 oz and 20"
She is calm and easygoing and perfect.

Like all the others, she came via induction, and like Declan and Tayah, she was born at 39 weeks (Tenley was 41 weeks). She was my second smallest baby (the others were 8 lbs 3 oz, 8 lbs 6 oz, and 7 lbs 8 oz) which was actually very surprising to me because I was measuring large for several weeks and I hit my maximum weight of 136 a week or so ago. But I'll talk about why that might have been in a minute. 

I have never been induced on a Sunday before, so unlike all my other inductions, I did not go and get my traditional bagel from Einstein Bagels for breakfast beforehand. I just had a lame bowl of Frosted Flakes and a chocolate Breakfast Essential. But I was too excited to get to the hospital to care too much. I already had my robes and loose clothing and baby outfit stuffed into a bag, so I just needed to grab my hygiene/makeup bag, glasses, and phone charger and then Dalin and I headed out, my mom staying back with the kids. The hospital is only like four minutes away, so we arrived just before 9am and went inside to check in. 

I was extremely excited, feeling like I was checking into a hotel for myself for a few days. After the initial registration, we were led through the doors back past all the other rooms I had delivered in (111, 112, 116) to room 117 at the end of the hall. The room was big and we immediately liked it. I changed into my hospital gown and sat on the bed. My first nurse, Ally, got me settled and started hooking me up to everything. She put the heartbeat and contraction monitors on my stomach, bracelets on my wrist, and an IV in my wrist. Thankfully, she placed the dreaded IV the first time (with one induction, they had to poke me several times in both wrists before they were successful) and even though it pinched, I eventually got used to the sensation.

Because I had tested positive for strep B for the first time out of all my pregnancies, I was started on antibiotics for a half hour before being started on pitocin. It was about 10:30 when Ally began the pitocin. As usual, nothing happened for the first several hours. Dalin actually left for a while (he was supposed to teach nursery but was able to get it covered so he could return to the hospital) and I turned the TV on (though I couldn't focus on anything) and sat working on a painting.

Around 1:30pm, Mike came in and gave me the epidural. He did a great job. It wasn't as painless as Tayah's (which was virtually painless and totally perfect) but it wasn't bad at all. My left foot went numb almost immediately. Then my left leg became completely numb and my right leg had trouble matching the numbness. But until I started feeling pressure with the contractions (which wasn't until my water was broken) it wasn't an issue. My blood pressure did drop a little dramatically after the epidural which made me feel lightheaded and exhausted and weak. So much so, that I was given three doses of ephedrine at various times. I tried to rest for about an hour without much luck. My sisters in law came in eventually to keep me entertained. Jensen quizzed us with trivia questions on her phone.

After waiting for a couple of hours, with the inflated "peanut" ball between my legs to attempt to progress things along, Ally got Dr. Pace to come in around 5 to break my water. As he slowly let the water leak out, he told me there was a lot of water in there which was probably the reason I was measuring big the last few weeks. It made me reconsider my guess for the baby's weight (which had previously been 8 lbs 4 oz). I gave Dr. Pace a watercolor portrait of his family in front of the Provo City Center Temple to take with him as he headed back home for a few hours. He really seemed to love it.

The peanut ball went back between my legs and finally some progress began to happen. The catheter in my back from the epidural was pinching a bit and bugging me, so I kept having to change positions on the bed. In the process, my left leg was 100% numb and while I could move it a little, I couldn't lift it even an inch. In contrast, my right leg could be moved and lifted and as the contractions grew stronger, I started to feel a hard pinching sensation in an uncomfortable place. With a little added epidural, and laying on my right side, we were able to even out the numbness, which I was very grateful for when it came time to push. Unfortunately, the epidural did nothing to reduce the pain of baby girl pushing up against my ribs hard. She was so tightly pressed against the right side of my ribs that there was a visible bulge where her bum/back were sticking up. Shaina felt it and then gently pushed her down away from my ribs, which relieved the pain. But then the little stinker would pop right back up where she was. She did this several times and I teared up from the discomfort. 

Around 7:45, my new nurse, Emily, told me I was at a 7. At about 8, I was at an 8. Then at 8:20, I was at a 9+ and I urged Emily to get Dr. Pace there right away because the pressure was increasing. Suddenly, the room filled with additional nurses and hospital staff with special equipment for after the delivery. Bright lights suddenly shone in my face and machines were warmed up, ready for baby. At that point, my mom, JeNeale, Shaina, and Dalin remained in the room. They all found places around me, ready to help. 

At 8:36pm, Dr. Pace arrived (with his teenage daughter in tow as I had said she could come watch the delivery) and I immediately began pushing during contractions. Dalin came to my right side to hold my hand and encourage me. I had told him beforehand that I don't want him to feel sick and he didn't have to stay there or even come up until the end, but in the moment, he stayed and did amazing. I didn't even really realize how well he was doing until the end when it occurred to me that he was present and encouraging me and helpful and didn't seem to be feeling lightheaded at all. 

As always, pushing was hard. Everyone kept telling me how well I was doing, though I wasn't entirely sure how they could tell. If her head wasn't visible or out, how could they know? Thankfully, throughout the pushing, baby girl's heart rate remained calm and consistent (a miracle to me). I could hear the faint heartbeat from the computer in the background, which was a comfort to me. 

Still, the pressure from the contractions was painful. Thank goodness for the epidural--I can't imagine having had to push through any additional pain. I pushed through probably about ten sets of contractions (two or three breaths each time). FINALLY, at 8:56pm, she was delivered and placed on me. The relief of physical pressure (and emotional and mental relief) was immense. I cried in relief and gratitude repeating over and over aloud, "I'm so happy she's out!" and "I can't believe she's here!" It was the best feeling. She was very purple and cheesy (the vernix caseosa--yes I Googled it)--more so than any of my other babies. They wiped her off, Dalin went to cut the cord, and then they took her to check her lungs.

She was completely perfect. They gave her back to me in a short while and after delivering the placenta and getting sewn up for the tiniest of tears, (and chewing up four pills that tasted like chalk to reduce the bleeding) the room emptied almost as quickly as it had filled.

We spent the next hour with family. I tried to eat a ham sandwich but the shakes and teeth chattering after delivery were so intense for about forty minutes that I could hardly speak, let alone eat. I suddenly got very cold and was covered in several blankets. Meanwhile, everyone took turns holding baby girl. Tenley, Declan, and Tayah were brought in to meet her. Tenley and Declan could not be more excited. But it was very late by then and Declan had a complete meltdown because he had wanted to hold the baby "yirst." I felt so sad for him, but happy that he was already so in love with his sister. Tenley could not have had more adoration on her face as she held her new sister. Poor Tayah was apprehensive and completely thrown off by the situation. She didn't want anyone but Grandma, Papa, or Nana. I tried to remember that she would come around in a little while (and don't worry, she did as soon as baby came home).

When everyone finally offered their congratulations and left the room, Dalin and I laid back in our beds--me in mine, still hooked up to the IV and epidural (though it was no longer on), and him on the couch which converted to a futon--and we basked in the happy glow of our new baby girl and tested out our favorite names on her, feeling best about Tessa Joelle. Fun fact: while on our long journey of searching for a baby name (ever since we learned our little sweetheart was a girl and not a boy as we had all suspected), I would google the names I liked to find out their meaning and hope it would help with the decision-making process. I discovered that in Greek, Tessa means "born fourth" and though that didn't seal the deal, it always stayed in my mind, especially because I already loved the name. Meanwhile, Declan and Tenley had loved the name Joelle from the start (as did we, but especially those two) and we liked the nicknames Jojo and Elle or Ellie. Anyway, we decided to sleep on the name to be safe and announce in the morning.

As always, it was an amazing feeling to have accomplished something so miraculous and difficult and so entirely worth it. I couldn't have been more proud of Dalin for staying by me. I asked him how he managed it this time and he said something along the lines of: "I'm not sure. For some reason I felt fine this time. Must be because it's the fourth baby." I felt like my happiness could not be greater.

We adore our sweet and beautiful Tessa Joelle. 

Wednesday, October 3

Baby Gunnell Four!

So now that I have finally posted Tayah's birth story (just 20 months late haha) I guess I should share the details of my fourth pregnancy.

I'm 37.5 weeks pregnant (due October 21st) and while this pregnancy hasn't exactly flown by, it's wonderful to be at this stage and look back on this year (which has flown by) since I've been pregnant for almost its entirety.

This pregnancy has been similar to my others with morning sickness.

A few noticeable differences:

  • Cravings are different. I haven't really craved sausage or hot chocolate like I have every other time. If anything, I've experienced a little bit of pica the way I seemed to be with Declan. The smell of gasoline is so appealing to me (when usually I never really care for it) that I just want to sniff it and drink it. Haha, so weird. I jumped out to pump the gas at Costco yesterday instead of having Dalin doing it just so I could smell the fumes for a minute (yes, I know this is weird and probably not healthy but I could not resist). 
  • I've been sick with colds more than other pregnancies it seems like. So maybe my immunity has been extra poor or it's just been a bad year. I had to take Tylenol for a big chunk of the first trimester and that has stressed me out, worrying about how it might affect the baby. Now, here at the end, I've been sick again with an illness that turned into a cold or viral infection, and I feel miserable. As much as I want this baby to come any time, I don't think I want her here for a few more days until this cold passes.
  • I failed my one-hour glucose test which was hugely disappointing. A normal level is about 139 and I was at 148. Gestational Diabetes is technically diagnosed if levels are above 190. So it was very tempting to skip the glucose test and I did at first (because I was in New Hampshire for 5 weeks right after getting the results). But my doctor encouraged me to take the three hour test once I returned. I had just gotten over a stomach virus and consequently fasted almost for 24 hours the day before so perhaps that contributed to me passing the test. But I was majorly relieved that I had. For the sake of remembering, my levels were as follows at each blood draw (did you know they make you do four??):
    • After fasting: 67 / 95 (95 being the normal level)
    • After 1 hour: 145 / 180 
    • 2 hours: 150 / 155
    • 3 hours: 136 / 140                     SO grateful I passed. 
  • A week ago I tested positive for Group B Strep for the first time. Apparently this is fairly common and the results can change within a short period of time, but I made the mistake of reading about Strep B and all the possible complications. Fortunately, I've since heard from many friends and family members with their experiences and was informed that as long as I'm on antibiotics via I/V during delivery, all should be well. 
  • Another difference--at 37 weeks, I'm already at about my maximum weight of 136 lbs which I was at with Declan at 39 weeks. So I was a little discouraged that I might surpass that by the time of delivery, but I guess what's one or two pounds really? I have also measured a week or two BIG where in the past I've always measured a week behind or right on schedule. 
  • As for delivery, I intended to try and wait until closer to my due date before being induced this time around, but with my higher than usual weight and measurements, the strep B test being positive, and my doctor being gone with his family just before my due date, in all likelihood I may be induced at 39 weeks as I have been in the past. It also would work out better with Dalin's schedule because he already has the few days around that time off. So October 14th may be the day! 
  • Another difference that I just thought of--we do not have a name selected! With the other kids we were fairly confident of their first names beforehand (we did call Declan "William" throughout most of my pregnancy, but Declan was always a high possibility and when we saw him after birth, he became a Declan). This time we were SO certain this baby was a boy, that we hardly talked about girl names. We had a boy name (even two) and I had subconsciously been putting all baby items in Declan's closet to be stored, assuming we'd pull them out for this baby. 

When we went to Fetal Fotos for the third time (since Tayah was a surprise) at about 15 weeks, I was so confident the ultrasound tech (who we'd also had with Tenley and the second visit with Declan) was going to say "boy" that I bought three blue balloons, and three pink balloons to use for photos afterward. In my mind, Dalin and Declan would each hold a blue balloon, and then Tenley and Tayah would each hold pink, and I would hold pink for me and also blue for the baby. I figured if I was wrong and it was a girl, then I would hold a pink for her, and the kids would each hold their color and we'd just not use the other two blue balloons. But how surprised I was when that ended up being the case! We took photos outside the mall with our balloons shortly afterward, and the surprise on my face was genuine.

I am THRILLED about this little girl! I really am. I just still cannot believe it! The only hard part is not getting to use the boy name I love (there's always next time ;) and never having imagined myself as a "girl mom." It has truly never really entered my mind. (I used to tell everyone I'd have six boys and one girl and they all told me I'd probably get the opposite haha). But I believe that Heavenly Father knows us and what we need. And the fact that three girls signed up to have me for a mom in this life makes me so happy. I can't wait to see her face!

As for names, we've mostly narrowed it down to about four, though I think another could easily slip in at the last minute if it seemed right. I'd share my current list here, but whenever I do, there are always so many opinions and I don't want to feel discouraged from using a name I love. Whatever we name her, that's what people will call her, so they can love it or hate it at that point. I do hope that when I see her sweet face, the name will become clear to us.

Anyway, I haven't blogged in ages and I most likely will be too busy to continue, but at least for my pregnancies, it's important that I record the memorable aspects and especially each child's birth story. I do write in my daily journal as well, but it takes a lot less time for me to type than it does to write it all out so the details of the deliveries are better preserved here.

Well, wish me luck this month! I hope this sinus cold I'm experiencing resolves before she decides to come. It feels endless. Now is the time for nesting and resting, but also keeping busy so mind is distracted. Less than two weeks left before our littlest angel arrives!

Birth of Baby Tayah

Tayah Louise Gunnell was born at 6:36pm on February 1, 2017. She was my tiniest baby at 7lbs 8oz and 20". And in true, third baby form, she didn't get a birth post until nearly a year later. 
But hey, I've been pretty crazy busy with three kids four and under. 

I want to re-cap some of this past year with three kids, but first I want to record the day of Tayah's birth using memories I wrote down on Instagram and in my journals.

As with the two kids before, I opted to be induced with Tayah. At the time, we did not know her sex. We had chosen to keep the sex a surprise, mostly because we already had a boy and girl and clothing for each. Like Declan, I was induced at 39 weeks. Declan was my largest at 8lbs 6oz at 39 weeks so I thought it would be best to be prepared for another large baby. Lo and behold, she was little and sweet.

I went in to the hospital and started on pitocin around 8am. The nurse put my I/V in and we began to wait. Dalin took the kids to his sister Cassie's house for the day. I tried to watch TV, tried to rest, and tried to calm my nerves which I had not expected to be so high with my third baby. I guess the fear stemmed from my lack of faith that everything would be alright as it was with my first two. I felt like something was much more likely to go wrong this time since I'd had two healthy births beforehand. I texted friends and family with updates to keep myself distracted.

I got an epidural in the afternoon before Dr. Pace (the same doctor who delivered my first two) came to break my water. I was surprised to find that the epidural was virtually pain-free this time around. I could not believe it. I kept waiting for the sting and heat to come but it never did. And then the anesthesiologist announced he was done. I was elated.

Dr. Pace came and broke my water. Things finally started to progress in the next couple of hours. Like with Tenley, I could feel the pressure of the contractions when they started to come though not nearly as bad as they'd been with hers. But I jumped from being dilated at a 7 to a 10 in a matter of minutes. Thankfully I had texted my photographer friend Emily, and my friend Sarah in time. It was about 6 o'clock when I began pushing. Sarah came in just in time and helped with moral support.

As with the other two births, Dalin did not last long by my side. He tried, but due to his increasing pallor, was encouraged by the hospital staff to lay down. He gets really anxious seeing me in that position. I pushed as hard as I could with every contraction. Around 6:30pm, I was feeling incredibly discouraged. Why was this so hard??? I'd already had two babies. And Declan had crowned in about fifteen minutes of pushing. Dr. Pace sensed my frustration and informed me that this length of time was normal.

Suddenly, the baby crowned. With one more push, she slipped out. "What is it??" I gasped. "It's a girl!" chimed the nurses as Dr. Pace flipped her over to check. Then she was placed on my chest and I was sobbing. I couldn't believe it. We'd been right all along. The four of us had all predicted she was a girl. And I was so joyous to meet my little Tayah.

I LOVE birth days. And the surprise made it even more special. If our next baby is a boy and we have a fifth, we'll do a surprise again for sure for another tie breaker.

I am so thankful for the ability to bare children in this life and mother these perfect beings.

Wednesday, October 12

Fall Tidbits and Thoughts on Baby Three

Hi guys!

So I guess you could say I'm that psycho lady who is already excited about Christmas this year (and every other holiday), but how can I not be when Christmas means I'll be only a month or so shy of baby three's arrival??

I'm SO excited for this little one to be here with us. Am I nervous? A little, but only because I frequently hear that the transition to three is the hardest. My transition from one to two toddlers (the baby part wasn't bad at all) was pretty hard at first so we shall just have to see with this freshest baby. I think it will depend mostly on this one's personality.

If I were wagering a guess, I'd say that this one will likely be an enthusiastic little follower of big brother and sister because he or she already seems to know and grow excited by their voices (which is amazing to me). This morning, the toddlers came in the bedroom and were chatting together about milk and playing and looking for our owl chalkboard for them to draw on, and the baby was suddenly wide awake and kicking eagerly. The children felt the baby move for the first very obvious time and gave kisses and raspberries and lots of greetings of "hi baby!" and then he or she didn't stop kicking until I left the bed.

I love thinking about what this little one will be like and imagining the relationship he or she will have with the older children. This sweet little one is destined to be a middle child (maybe the middle child if we stop at five) so I feel a particular need to protect this little one and let it soak up his or her position as "the baby" for as long as I can.

Meanwhile, I think Declan is already sensing the loss of his role as baby. But I think mostly he is embracing it. I think he knows he was destined to become the eldest brother. His tenderness toward those who are sad or hurt will help him serve as a comforter to his little siblings as he already is for me.

Well, I'm 23 weeks pregnant right now and there isn't much to tell. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and I think the glucose test is coming soon (insert barfing emoji). I can't believe though that in a matter of about a month I'll be in the third trimester! (For the record, I tend to think of 28 weeks as the start of the third, since it seems that most people can't agree between 26 and 28 weeks).

It's as they say, the days are long but the years (and months) are short! We're halfway through October and it was September a minute ago.

As for our fall plans, they consist of:

  • A family road trip to Boise next week to visit Dalin's parents (we haven't been their way since last Thanksgiving so we're a little overdue)
  • More pumpkin patch visits with cousins and friends
  • Making cookie-cutter sugar cookies with Tenley so she can paint them
  • Going to swim at the Rec Center a few mornings (maybe once or twice a week)
  • Baking yummy pumpkin seeds (after we carve our giant pumpkin that is)
  • Watch more Halloween and fall movies (try and save the Christmas movies for Thanksgiving and after!)
  • Take a family hike down the river
  • Find a Halloween activity to attend (probably at BYU)
  • (Figure out costumes for the children first!)
  • Find a place to make copies of my watercolors
  • Paint at least twice before the month's end
  • Find ways to purge things or organize better so the house doesn't end up a disaster each day
  • Drive through a canyon (Provo canyon, Nebo Loop, Hobble Creek) to view the fall colors 
  • Find an opportunity for the kids to splash in their new rain boots
  • Teach Tenley to write five more letters (she writes O, T, A, and sometimes E)
Oh fall, you are so grand! I am so happy to be wearing maternity jeans (well, jeans in general) and sweaters and long-sleeve shirts again. Time to keep our hot chocolate maker on the counter and stock up on new flavors.

Happy October!

Thursday, September 22

20 Weeks Pregnant with Baby #3!

It's been a while! But let's not talk about that. Instead...

I'm pregnant!!!! If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram (@littlegunnellfamily) you already know this, but it's worth saying, just in case.

I'm 20 weeks pregnant with a sweet little mystery babe who we got to look at today! It's wonderfully exciting and I love this darling little one so much, boy or girl. This wiggly babe whose every little kick reminds me of what a miracle he or she is. I'm so excited to meet this baby! And for our doctor to say those words, "It's a...?!?" I think it will make the birth experience that much more exciting. If you know anything about me I've said that giving birth gives me like a crazy adrenaline rush so maybe this is my tiny way of trying to increase that.

That still doesn't stop me from guessing though. Oh no. At the start I said girl and Dalin said boy. Then I wasn't sure for a while. Now, I'm still leaning toward a girl only because of the subtle differences in my past two pregnancies. I thought they were pretty much the same the last two times (and they weren't all that different) but there have been a few things I've noticed.

For fun, I thought I'd do a few gender prediction tests, just to mess with you. Just a little. ;)

The Mayan Predictor

Year of conception and age of conception. Both even or odd = girl. One odd, one even = boy.

2016 and age 24. Girl.

Heart Rate

Typically only useful before 20 weeks, a heart rate above 140 indicates girl, heart rate below 140 indicates boy.

Our baby had a heart rate of 140 (right in the middle! ahh!) at 18 weeks or so, and a heart rate of 146 at the ultrasound. This could indicate girl, but if anything, I feel like the baby's heart rate might increase during an ultrasound because of the stress of being probed...So I have to classify this one as Indeterminable (though I personally lean toward Boy here).

Ring on a String Test

Ring hung over belly or wrist. Circular movement indicates girl. Back and forth indicates boy. (Apparently some families argue the opposite of what I've stated indicates each sex, so who really knows with this one??)

I didn't tell Dalin which result meant what beforehand so he wouldn't be influenced. The ring swung slightly back and forth. Boy.

Chinese Calendar

My birthday (August 9) and my due date (February 9, 2017) come out as:
4th lunar month, 13th lunar day.
Lunar age at time of conception: 26.


Girls are supposed to "steal their mother's beauty." This is the test that especially seemed accurate to me with Tenley. My skin was awful for much of the pregnancy (especially the first half) and my doctor even let me use a special solution to help, which it did.
Whether the skin problems were from the hormones or from my diet as a result of my cravings (resulting from the hormones...) I certainly might have guessed girl. And this time around, this is the one thing in particular that points me at girl. My skin is just disastrous. So according to this test, I have to say: Girl.

Linea Negra.

If the line stops at the belly button, it's a girl. If it goes north of your belly button, it's a boy.

Mysteriously, I haven't gotten one to speak of! I had a very distinct (and crooked) line with Tenley, but it was mostly faded when Declan came around and now it is completely gone. Invisible. I guess if we're following patterns here, I could be having a boy since I did not have it (or at least it didn't darken again) with Declan. Conclusion: Indefinite, but maybe Boy.


Girls often make you crave fruits, chocolate, and sugar (which probably is what causes all that acne we just talked about). Boys tend to make you crave salty or sour snacks.

While I haven't had as many cravings this time so far (with Tenley and Declan I craved hot chocolate and sausage with both, and also grapefruit with Declan), I have definitely been craving grapefruit juice again. Fruits and sweets generally indicate girl, but I very clearly recall craving grapefruit with Declan. So another: Indefinite.


Warm feet indicates girl, cold indicate boy.

I had never heard of this until now, but interestingly enough, I typically have very cold feet but my feet have been unusually warm lately. On the other hand, it's also been summer.

Extremity test says: Girl.


Bright or yellow may indicate girl. Light or clear indicates boy.

Here's a bit of TMI for you. This test says girl for me for sure...up until the last couple of days when I've been pounding down our water bottles.

Conclusion: Girl? Indefinite.

Glow or No Glow.

No glow means girl, glow means boy.

Um, well I'm certainly not feeling that glow at the moment. Not at all. I just look tired a lot of the time (though having two crazy toddlers contributes to that). So my lack of a glow points to: Girl.

Carrying High or Low.

High says girl, low says boy.

I cannot decide yet. But I will say my belly felt distinctly flat in the front with Declan. And I do think it feels higher this time than it did with him. My inclination on this one is: Girl.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My overall feeling with this pregnancy? The subtle signs (and I'm not talking about most of these silly tests) remind me more of my pregnancy with Tenley. But I'm perfectly excited regardless of what we have!

If the baby is a girl, we pretty much have a name chosen. If the baby is a boy, we have three or four contenders still. Either way, we have baby clothes and blankets ready.

Now we just need to count down the next 140 days (tops!) until this little one is finally laid in my arms!