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. 

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