Sunday, July 27, 2014


I took a bunch of pictures of my sweet Norah's faces way back when she was two days old.  True to Blakey form, she's quite the character already.

This girl really likes to pose for the camera.

She's so great. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Norah's First Two Days

Life as a family of five is so wonderful.  But let me back up and share the first couple of days of Norah's life in our world.

I expected her to arrive before her due date.  So by the time her due date came, I had already spent two weeks thinking "maybe today is the day!"  The mental and emotional game is tiring.  I'd been having prodromal labor (or "false" labor, as some people call it), and of course every time the contractions would get regular, I would hope that they would kick into active labor.  This happened off and on for over a week.  So on Thursday, July 3, after a night of waking up many times due to somewhat painful contractions, I was frustrated that they had petered off.  Again.  I went to lunch in the park with a group of friends, and tried to be cheerful.  I just. wanted. to hold. my baby.

I started having some "cramping" at around 4pm. I'd just gotten back from the doctor's office, where the on-call doctor had performed a simple procedure that sometimes nudges women into labor. "I don't know why you're not in labor," he said. "I bet you'll have this baby before the weekend."  Of course being an entire two days past my due date, I was sure that the baby was just going to wait two more weeks to give me a lesson in patience.  So when the "cramps" started coming in "waves," I couldn't shake the mindset that they were just going to taper off.  Again.  I'm glad math is straightforward, because when I timed my cramps, it finally occurred to me that they looked an awful lot like contractions.  Then I realized I was breathing funny and couldn't talk.  It finally sunk in that I might actually be in labor.  My biggest decision was whether or not to summon my sister.  It's a 2 1/2 hour drive, and I didn't want her to make the drive just to have my contractions disappear.  But I texted her.  "I'm going to feel horrible if nothing happens."  I was still in denial.  But somehow I had the sense to call my mom, who was in town.  And I texted Bryan.  "I think I might be in labor.  But I don't know."  He was home within 10 minutes, and rushed around checking things off my list of things I wanted to bring to the hospital.  My camera.  The gift basket for the nurses.  My phone charger cord.  He called the Family Birth Center to let them know we were on our way.  "She's going to want an epidural," he said.

We pulled up to the hospital at about 5:30 pm, and everything was so surreal.  I'd been imaging this moment for so long.  We walked in, and I smiled and gave hugs to the nurses I'd gone to school with.  They got me to my room, and were surprised how much labor had progressed.  "Wow, you don't look like you should be this close to delivery," Jen said. They started scrambling to get everything in order.  The baby could come pretty fast, and if I wanted an epidural, they had to hurry.  Yes yes, I did want the epidural.  While the IV fluids poured into my circulatory system, Betsy showed up with her camera and one-week-old baby Daniel in tow. 

The IV fluids did their thing, and Deb, the anesthetist, did her thing.  I was surprised how little the epidural hurt.  I think the other pain surging through my body might have had something to do with that.  The nurses were changing shift, and Marilyn asked, "did you feel that contraction?"  I had done my Labor and Delivery preceptorship with her eight years ago.  She was just as wonderful now as she was then. "What contraction?" I asked, as a smile spread across my face.

I laid back in bed and relaxed.  I had no pain.  None.  Zero.  They say an epidural usually provides about 70%  pain coverage, but I got all 100%.  It was wonderful.  It was amazing.  I couldn't quite believe that I was still in labor, but the monitor showed nice, regular contractions.

My body slowed things down a little, which was great, because my sister got stopped at a crash for a while.  When she finally showed up, it felt like a party or something.  My friend from church, Melissa, stayed long after her shift was over to be there with me.  ("I told you you you were going to have this baby on Thursday!" she insisted.)  I was laughing and joking with everyone.  Dr. Minudri, true to his word, had come to check on me.  I was so excited that he was there, that I knew and loved the nurses and CNA taking care of me, that Betsy and Katie had made it, that I wasn't in horrible pain, that my mom was home with my other girls, that Bryan was there to hold my hand, and most of all, that I was going to get to meet my baby soon!

It was a completely different experience than the wonderful births I'd had at home.  I loved my home births, but in these moments, I felt like a million bucks.  "So, uh, if we have more kids, we're doing an epidural again, right?" Bryan asked.  It was a completely new experience for him as well.  With my first labor, he spent the final eight hours pushing on my back with all his might.  His arms didn't really work the next day.  "I think probably so," I said, laughing.  Laughing!  When labor was nearing the end!  It was pretty great.

And then it was time to push.  She had been in optimal anterior position for the prior eight weeks, but Baby decided to flip posterior sometime while I was in labor.  Despite that, I only had to push for a half hour.  But her forehead and face were a little smushed when she came out sunny-side up, at 10:38 pm.

But she was here.  She came.  Norah.  She was perfect.

I started crying.  Flooded with so many emotions, the tears just rolled down my cheeks. 

She looked like a beautiful little gnome-frog-lion cub baby.  Her forehead and face were pretty squished, but she was our perfect baby girl.

Bryan couldn't stop smiling, either.

After a good long while of snuggling my baby, they measured and weighed her.  7 pounds, 12.7 ounces.  We rounded up to 13.  And 21 1/8 inches long.  We rounded down to 21.

We eventually made our way into our post-partum room.  Bryan settled down in the fold out loveseat-to-bed.  It was actually my first experience being the patient.  I had a wrist band on, and I was the one in the hospital bed.  But it wasn't the mediocre mattress that kept me awake all night.  It was the joy.  I was just too excited to sleep.  I held my baby close to my heart, and stroked her soft skin and smelled her sweet smell.  I dozed off from about 3:30 to 4:30, but then the sun started rising.

I had my iPhone close, and I needed to tell the world that she was here.  So I took a few pictures of her first glimpses of daylight, and let the world know that she had arrived.

Holding her, waiting for family to arrive to meet her.  I was so excited to introduce her to her sisters.

About 12 hours old, Norah meets Chloë and Elaina for the first time.

Thanks Jessie, for getting a little footage of this special introduction.

Bryan's parents holding their fourth grandbaby.  I'm just sorry we didn't get pictures of everyone holding her. 

After everyone went home, we rested some more.  I even took a little nap while Bryan snuggled Norah. 

The nurses and staff were wonderful.  I was afraid that I might find a hospital setting annoying after the comfort of my own home, but I didn't.  We had room service and ordered whatever we wanted off the menu, the nurses only came in to to check on us a couple of times, and we had a nice little "candlelight" dinner before we went home.

As wonderful as the hospital was, I was glad to be home.  Home... with all three of my girls and my wonderful husband.  God is good.

Photos compliments of Betsy Becker, Katie Botkin, and my and Bryan's iPhones.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Norah Katherine Blakey

Norah Katherine Blakey was born on Thursday, July 3, at 10:38 pm.  She weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces, and was 21 inches long. 
10 hours old. 

Crinkly skin still adjusting to our world.

We were surprised by how blond she is.  Her eyelashes are platinum, along with the downy lanugo that covers her ears, back, and chubby shoulders.  Her hair is sandy blond, and I'm curious to see how much it will change.

She was born two days after her due date, and I was having a difficult time remaining patient.  My body launched into labor on Thursday afternoon, we hurried to the hospital, and after seven hours (and a glorious planned epidural), she was in our arms.  Everything went wonderfully, and of course we absolutely love her.  More details and pictures coming soon!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Friends Pregnant

I've been meaning to touch on this subject since that wonderful day way back in October.  We had just found out that we were pregnant, and it was bittersweet telling some of our best friends, since we knew they wanted more kids, too.

Well wouldn't you know it, God had a beautiful plan for this story, too.  Three days later, Betsy got a positive pregnancy test, too.  We were both overflowing with joy, in case you can't tell.

It's been such a crazy, fun, blessed experience being pregnant together.  Encouraging each other through the morning sickness, praying for each other in moments of uncertainty, celebrating clothes that no longer fit, sharing pregnancy cravings, knitting and crocheting baby blankets together, guessing which one of us will get to hold our babies first, and rejoicing together in every good appointment and ultrasound. 

A few months ago, I texted Betsy and mentioned that I was craving the Lettuce Wraps from one of our favorite restaurants in Pullman.  Just the mention triggered the same craving for her, and she ending up driving the half hour round trip to get a double order, and brought it to my house where we indulged our cravings together.  True friendship right there.  We shared a lot of similar cravings, as well as lack of desire to be in our kitchens at times. 

This last Saturday, our husbands spent the day with the kids, and Betsy and I took ourselves out for a day of pampering. We got coffee at Bucer's, and then got pedicures, which was actually a first for me.  Then we went out to lunch at Bloom, and hit the mall to get smoothies and shop for post-partum clothes.

Later, after a picnic dinner from the Co-op, I realized we needed a few pictures together.  I drug Betsy over to a brick wall, and handed Bryan my iPhone.  I was pleased with the results from our impromptu 60 second photo shoot.

I'm really excited about today.  Because Betsy is in labor.  I guess she beat me to it.  But that's okay, because I'm so excited that I get to hold her baby in a little while.  God has been so kind to us, and today is a day of great rejoicing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

39 Weeks

Now that this pregnancy is almost over, let me fill you in on how things have been going for the last four months.  What a roller coaster pregnancy can be.  The morning sickness was rough at first; I lost weight, and looked old and tired.  I was surprised how much the malnutrition and dehydration showed up on my face.  Then weeks 15 through 32 were pretty good, considering.  I actually had an appetite, gained weight, slept decently, and kept up with life. 

14 1/2 Weeks
19 Weeks

With each of my pregnancies, my babies have seemed more active.  Maybe because things are more elastic, and baby has more room to squirm around.  And with this pregnancy, my placenta is posterior, which means there isn't that extra cushioning against my belly that I had with the other girls.  Whatever the reasons, I've never seen this much movement so early in pregnancy.  This was a day before 22 weeks, and she weighed about a pound.

I've been fighting the migraines, despite my best efforts to follow my own advice. When I was safely into the third trimester, I agreed to try codeine. The first time I took it was good. It made me feel a little groggy, but drastically decreased the pain in my head. Then the second time I took it, my body decided it didn't like it. I started throwing up. I had started the day with coffee and cereal (and just happened to weigh myself, since I try to do that occasionally when I'm pregnant), and then promptly kept nothing down for the entire day. By 9 pm, I realized my body must be severely dehydrated, and told Bryan that we needed to do something. So for the first time in my life, I had IV fluids. As the beautiful saline dripped into my veins, I became less thirsty. It was glorious. I threw up a few more times, but was able to get some sleep that night. The next day around noon, it occurred to me to see what my weight was. I was seven pounds lighter than I'd been about 30 hours prior. And I'd been keeping things down for a while. That was a rough run.  I haven't touched codeine since, and even told my doctor to list it as an "allergy."  So I have good ol' hydrocodone that I've taken a couple of times now for migraines.  What a blessing to experience some relief after months of toughing out the pain.
Me: 19 weeks, 5 days.  Jessie: 39 weeks, 6 days.
27 Weeks
My other girls never really hurt me like this girl has in utero.  I have been surprised that her kicks and jabs have actually caused me to double over in pain.  She did something at about 32 weeks that made me gasp for breath and stop in my tracks and lean on whatever was available.  And then I was actually sore in that spot for a couple of days.  Crazy kiddo.  More recently, she just tries to stretch out, and actually makes my ribs sore!  I'd heard of such things happening, and now I can empathize.  

This was at 30 weeks.  It seems like a long video, but she did this for about an hour that night. 

34 Weeks.  Enjoying a "hot" day in May.

As the baby (and my belly) got bigger, I started developing some pretty decent pelvic and hip pain. Bones shifting and muscles pinching nerves and all that good stuff. I found myself mostly confined to bed or the couch, and increasingly frustrated with my limitations. I even swallowed my pride and rode one of those little electric carts around Walmart. One particularly rough day at about 33 weeks, I decided to see what insurance would cover for a chiropractor. I saw Dr. McKenzie, and was so impressed with his holistic approach and the moderate pain relief I experienced. I always feel selfish spending money just to relieve pain, but ohmygoodness, three chiropractor appointments and a deep tissue massage made me feel like a new woman. I went from basically being crippled to being able to complete basic household chores with no pain! This last week has been so wonderful compared to the previous month. I've actually been able to do normal "nesting" things, like painting a dresser for the baby, organizing my pantry, and doing some deep cleaning.

34 1/2 Weeks
37 1/2 Weeks

I posted the most recent photos a few days ago.

Besides the pain, occasional headache, not-so-great sleep, occasional nausea and random throwing up, and heartburn, this pregnancy is really going pretty well.  (I'm currently using nine pillows at night to create the perfect little nest of pseudo-comfort.)  Baby has been head down for weeks, and usually anterior (with her back against my belly), which is where we want her to be. My weight, fundal height, blood pressure, lab results, and baby's heart rate have all been great.  I think it's funny that my weight has been exactly the same at the beginning and end of all three pregnancies, despite all of the variations in detail.  Last week Dr. Minudri said he would be happy to deliver, even if he's not on call. The other doctors in his practice are great, but I've been particularly impressed with everything I've seen and heard about him specifically, and am really relieved to know he's willing to be there.  Even though I've done with whole labor and delivery thing twice already, mentally preparing to go to a hospital feels like totally new territory.

The cute little newborn clothes are washed and waiting. I've been having some nice little Braxton-Hicks contractions, and my body is showing little hints of preparing to have this baby.  So now we wait.  We're all ready.  Any day, Baby Girl.  We can't wait to meet you.