Clara’s Birth Story

posted by Andrea | 10/12/2017
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After TWO solid weeks of daily contractions — sometimes lasting for several hours at a time, I woke up on Monday, September 25, completely unphased by the fact that I felt more contractions.

No big deal, just another day of waiting… or so I thought!

Dave had a half day of school due to crazy hot temperatures, so the plan was to meet him at Culver’s for a fun lunch with the kids.

As the morning progressed and the contractions continued, I decided I’d better do a couple loads of laundry (just in case!)

Then, after Culver’s, I had Dave take the kids home and I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few essentials — again, just in case!

I never said anything to Dave about my contractions until about 4:00 in the afternoon as I was getting dinner ready. I decided to make dinner AND breakfast for the next morning, since by this time, I was almost positive I’d be in the hospital before breakfast time.

I got everything ready for Nora to go to school the next day, everything ready for my sister to spend the night, and everything ready for the rest of the family for breakfast. Then I took a shower while Dave fed the kids dinner (I wasn’t in the mood for pork chops and mashed potatoes!)

We got the kids in bed by 7:00, gave my sister her instructions, and left for the hospital shortly before 8:00pm.

Potentially the last pregnant photo I’ll ever have! Crazy!

The nurses didn’t even make me go to triage based on my history of really quick deliveries (and probably the fact that I was already 41 weeks). So we went straight to our delivery room.

We got into our room at 8:20pm (I remember, because the clock said 20:20) and Clara was born at 9:57pm — so I didn’t spend much time in the delivery room.

All ready to go… obviously, between contractions 🙂

Another “between contractions” photo.

I had my favorite doctor and the best nurses. We were all chatting as we waited for Clara to arrive. At one point during a really bad contraction, I can remember Dave and the doctor talking about triathlon training and how difficult the swimming part was for Dave. 🙂

Here’s a photo during a contraction… Dave said he felt bad taking my picture, but I told him I wanted a picture of me in labor because I don’t have any with the other kids.

Apparently, since I have such quick labors, my contractions are REALLY close together and REALLY intense. At one point, I had 3 long, hard contractions back-to-back-to-back… and then I was ready to push.

Two big pushes, and about 1 minute later, Clara was here!

Dave went back home around 11:00pm, so my sister didn’t even have to spend the night and our kids never knew anything was going on until they woke up the next morning. I was hoping the older 3 kids would be sleeping when we had the baby — and they were!

Even though she was a full week late, Clara really had perfect timing! 

As I mentioned before, Clara was my tiniest baby — at least as far as weight goes. She got down to 6 lbs. 10 oz. before we left the hospital, but popped right back up in weight only a few days later.

She’s been gaining weight well and eats like a champ!

And just like that, we have FOUR kiddos!

My sister, Dave’s brother, our parents, and our kids visited us the next day (Tuesday) — and from Tuesday morning until I went home Wednesday afternoon, I enjoyed peace and quiet while snuggling Clara, binge-watching The Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and ordering room service.

It was glorious!

My recovery went so well too.

The nurses kept asking me what my pain level was, and I felt so weird saying “0” or “1”. I didn’t even need pain medicine and I actually slept really well in the hospital too.

Besides the fact that I had to move a little slower, I really felt very “normal”. It was so strange for me, but I wasn’t complaining!

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Ironically, my favorite part of this story is the “going home” part… and not because I didn’t LOVE being in my quiet hospital room for 2 days! 

You see that smile on my face? That’s the first time I’ve ever been able to smile on my way HOME from the hospital.

With all my other babies, I cried as they wheeled me out to my car… and sobbed the whole drive home. I couldn’t help it, I just cried and cried and cried, even though I was happy.

For the last month, I’ve been dreading the day I leave the hospital because I know how crappy I felt with all my other kids. Honestly, my one wish for this pregnancy was that I could be happy when I brought my baby home… especially since it might be my last one.

And I was! 

I haven’t even shed one tear!

So what’s the difference?

I basically begged my doctors to let me start taking the anti-postpartum-depression medication 3 full weeks before Clara was born. I took a half dose every day until she was born, and then switched to a full dose that day… it worked wonderfully!

In the past, I started taking the medicine once the baby was born, but it requires a good 2 weeks to start working, so I still felt awful those first 2 weeks. I finally got “smart” and started taking it before the baby arrived — I’m sure that’s what made all the difference this time around.

A Few More Clara Pictures

The last 2 weeks that I’ve been home from the hospital have gone so much better than I could have ever expected.

Not only do I feel great physically and mentally, I’ve also been doing a really good job of resting and relaxing whenever I can. I’ve been going to bed right after Clara goes down for the night (usually between 8 and 9pm) and resting for a bit in the afternoon while she naps and the boys watch a TV show.

I’ve even taken several naps on the weekends when Dave is home — he’s been so helpful with the older 3 kids!

Taking time off from working has been fabulous too. I love that I’m able to check in a couple times a week, and then keep my computer off the rest of the time. It’s very freeing.

We’ve been savoring many of the freezer meals I made ahead of time, using up restaurant gift cards, and enjoying a few meals from friends and neighbors, so I’ve hardly cooked at all.

I’ve also hardly left the house at all! Dave stopped to pick up a few groceries for me last week, and I stopped in to get more produce and milk this week, but other than that grocery trip and one appearance at church, I’ve just been home — and it’s been nice.

Seriously… I love this photo so much!! Classic “first bath baby freak-out”! 

Clara is fairly fussy, especially in the evenings… and she wants to eat ALLLLLLLL the time.

So far, I can’t interest her in a pacifier — but I’m not giving up yet! 🙂

She takes pretty good naps during the day and usually has at least one 4-hour stretch at night, but I’m definitely still “behind” on sleep — which isn’t really that abnormal for a mother of 4 young kids!

We had family/newborn pictures taken 1 week after she was born (my sister took the pictures above on my cell phone) and I can’t wait to get the pictures back from the photographer. I’ll be sure to share several of them once I have a chance!

I’m taking it easy for the rest of the month, and then I should be back to full-time blogging in November!

Thanks for sticking with me!! 

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54 comments

  1. Pat

    11/10/2017

    I know about short labors. My longest one was 2 hours 45 minutes. Four babies and a total of anout 6, yes 6 hours. After the first all the other 3 were induced to avoid the possibility of birth in a car.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yikes! we’ve never worried about a car birth, but I do go quickly once I get into the hospital!

    [Reply]

  2. Andrea

    10/16/2017

    This is absolutely beautiful. I don’t have children yet, but with my long history of depression and anxiety, the fact that I’m a higher risk for PPD is always in the back of my mind. At first when I started reading I got this twinge of envy for how smooth everything went for you and had to remind myself of your post about not comparing myself to others! Of course a minute later I felt bad and silly for making such assumptions in my head.

    It is so important for women to speak out about PPD and mental health. Your honesty, your proactiveness and assertiveness with your doctors, and your overall attitude are positively inspiring. Congratulations to you all! Love your blog so much!

    [Reply]

  3. Gervy

    10/16/2017

    Loved this! What a happy birth story – I love that Dave was whingeing about swimming during your labour 🙂 So glad you are enjoying time with your gorgeous baby and family.

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  4. Jenn in Indiana

    10/15/2017

    Clara is so pretty! And you look great, too! Is taking meds automatically a thing now? I haven’t had children for many years but you only took them if you went to the doctor with a need for them. Honestly, I think just taking them no matter how you feel is a good thing. I had PPD with kids but it wasn’t until much later that I realized I wasn’t my normal self and would have never admitted that I even needed them, especially with my first. I think it is great you are talking about this. May God Bless precious Clara!

    [Reply]

  5. Debbie

    10/13/2017

    Wow! You make being pregnant sound so easy Andrea! You’re such a trooper doing all the things you did during the day of Clara’s birth. What a smart thing to do taking the anti-depressant meds before the meds. Such great pictures, even during the contraction. Continue to enjoy your time off from blogging and resting as much as you can, whenever you can.

    [Reply]

    Debbie Reply:

    I meant, “….taking the anti-depressant meds before the baby was born.”

    [Reply]

  6. Francie

    10/13/2017

    What a beautiful birth story congrats, Andrea!

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  7. Mandy

    10/13/2017

    Beautiful mom and baby!!! (And family) 🙂

    [Reply]

  8. Sandi

    10/13/2017

    Dearest Andrea:
    Wow! You HAVE to be the most beautiful birthing mom of all times! It is wonderful to have so many memorable photos to enjoy, share, and pass on to your precious family.
    I am probably the oldest blogger in the group and I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy your posts. At 73, and an only child with an only child and no hopes for grand children, I think I live vicariously through your family!
    Thank you for all of the sunshine you bring into my life.
    Welcome to the world Miss Clara and all the best to each of you!
    Sandi
    P.S. Clara looks so much like you! Precious!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Sandi!!

    [Reply]

  9. Babs

    10/12/2017

    Well! Miss Clara Jo has already learned how to capture everyone’s attention! So happy she’s here and you are well! Love the pic of Dave reading with the kids on the couch! How different from those first Nora Days! Enjoy this special time!

    [Reply]

  10. Gillian

    10/12/2017

    She’s beautiful and I’m thrilled for all of you. Congratulations!

    [Reply]

  11. Gabriela

    10/12/2017

    Great Pictures! I’m glad all went well. Such a blessing!
    I didn’t know you can take the pills before pregnancy…interesting!
    I had a C-section with the first baby and a regular delivery with the second…. I do remember the contractions and the pushing (for 2 hours)….but I really do enjoy the result!!!! 🙂

    [Reply]

  12. Barb

    10/12/2017

    Andrea,

    Clara is beautiful!! Thank you for sharing her birth story.

    [Reply]

  13. Sonnie

    10/12/2017

    She is beautiful. So glad you are feeling good. You have a beautiful family.

    [Reply]

  14. Beth

    10/12/2017

    Hi, I’d like to hear more about your post partum depression story. I think it would make a good blog article. So glad you’re feeling well!!
    Beth

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Here you go Beth… Anxiety, Depression, Fear, and Unconditional Love

    [Reply]

  15. LEANNE

    10/12/2017

    I loved all the pictures….and particularly your honesty in sharing what you needed to take care of yourself and feel your best!! I think its why I stick with reading your blog…because your truth is so inspiring!! congratulations!! I just adore her name!! and I’m glad your sweet Nora got her baby sister!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Leanne — it feels so great to FINALLY be able to share her name with everyone. I’ve been SO excited to tell everyone her name for such a long time now — and yes, Nora is thrilled to have a sister. I brought Clara to Nora’s school today so she could show her off 🙂

    [Reply]

  16. Julia

    10/12/2017

    Congratulations on your new little one! She’s such a cutie pie, and I know you are enjoying your break from work. Thank you for popping in to show her off!

    [Reply]

  17. meg

    10/12/2017

    Congratulations. Thanks for sharing your story. It was refreshing to hear you talk about anti-depressants so freely. I only wish I had known that it was okay and normal to be depressed and need help. Enjoy your time off!

    [Reply]

  18. Kristen

    10/12/2017

    Congratulations on Clara’s birthday! Your family is beautiful. I’ve enjoyed watching you blossom from having one child to now having four (wow!). God bless you all.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — sometimes I still can’t believe we have FOUR children now!

    [Reply]

  19. Carolyn

    10/12/2017

    Hi Andrea,
    I am a faithful reader who is always amazed at your energy and productivity. I just wanted to congratulate you on Clara Jo’s birth and glad all went well. You have a beautiful family and I love to read about you, your husband and the kids. Most of all your honesty which is refreshing in this day and age.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Carolyn! I feel really great right now — which probably makes it easier to be energetic and productive 🙂

    [Reply]

  20. Sheila

    10/12/2017

    What a great story! Thank you for including the part about the medication. I didn’t even recognize postpartum depression until it was over, but it was such a difficult thing to live through. The next time around, I was ready for it, but it didn’t come back, which I was surprised by, but obviously very thankful for. Congratulations!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s great you didn’t have it with your 2nd child!

    [Reply]

  21. Loretta

    10/12/2017

    Faithful reader, never comment-er. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for posting about the fact that you take medication for PPD. I like knowing I’m not alone and I like when people don’t feel “shamed” for taking meds or having depression, albeit temporarily. Your story was an encouragement to me!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Loretta! I appreciate your long-time readership and your encouraging words!

    [Reply]

  22. Katie S

    10/12/2017

    Congratulations! Her hair is like a porcelain doll! I just wanted to do a friendly tip, if she’s fussy and eating all the time you might want to have her checked for a tongue/lip tie. My son had it and it took a miserable 3 months for me to figure it out. Sorry to be annoying, I just wish someone would have told me.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — her hair feels like silk. It’s SOOOOOOOOO soft! Also, she does have a teeny tiny bit of a tongue tie (but the doctors say they aren’t worried about it). Simon had/has the same thing and ironically he was my easiest/calmest baby!

    [Reply]

  23. Mara Yager

    10/12/2017

    Thanks SO much for sharing such a beautiful story! HUGE congrats, thinking of you all!! She is so beautiful and I am so glad to hear you’re doing well!

    [Reply]

  24. Angela

    10/12/2017

    I love to hear birth stories! Clara’s story is similar to my fourth. Mine was born pretty quickly after lots of contractions in the weeks prior (she was sunny-side-up though or it would’ve been even quicker) and had a ton of hair that my others didn’t have. I think the heartburn wive’s tale is true! I’d never had heartburn before in my life! 🙂

    My fourth was a whole POUND bigger than the first three though – phew…8 lbs 5 oz was a lot of baby for me! She was only one day overdue though, when the first three were all a week overdue, so that surprised me – I never thought I’d have a baby that early! I love to see all the pictures – reminds me of the pics I have of our kids when they we brought home “their baby”! I’m glad you’re getting some rest and enjoying this special time! Congrats again!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Angela! I’m definitely enjoying the rest — and yes, I had TONS of heartburn with Clara’s pregnancy. I didn’t even realize it was a wive’s tale related to the amount of hair a baby would have, but now everyone keeps asking me if I had heartburn. It was so bad I’d take a tums every night before bed just so I could sleep!

    [Reply]

  25. ShellyL

    10/12/2017

    Bless you for mentioning PPD and taking the medication. I had it with all three of my kids. I would just cry and cry for no apparent reason. Finally, with the last one, I got smart enough to take my medication. I tried to “tough it out” with the first two, which I’m convinced helped no one. I experienced so much more joy with my “last one” which is all due to the fact that I took care of myself so that I could take care of my kids. Congratulations and enjoy this time with your beautiful family.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Shelly — I had to laugh because my nurse kept calling them my “happy pills” and I was thinking “yes, they really do make me happy!”

    [Reply]

  26. Adri Himes

    10/12/2017

    Congratulations Andrea, I have four also and feel so many similarities with your stories…your hubby chit chatting about tri training during labor, ha ha. Yep. You’re a smart woman and you really know how to follow your God-given instincts. Enjoy that baby!

    [Reply]

  27. Kristi

    10/12/2017

    So happy for you that everything has gone so well with baby #4. Kudos to you for knowing what you need and not being afraid to ask for it! It’s so important that we moms take care of ourselves so that we are ABLE to do our best taking care of our families! Clara is a doll and it looks like the rest of the gang is adapting well to another sibling. Enjoy your break and soak up those snuggles!

    [Reply]

  28. Summer

    10/12/2017

    Oh my gosh! The photo in the gardens with all the kiddos is GORGEOUS! I love it! I am so glad to hear it went so well and that you are back home, enjoying your new life! Congrats Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much — I can’t wait to see the professional photos!!

    [Reply]

  29. DeeDee

    10/12/2017

    Oh Andrea, she is soooooooo beautiful! What a beautiful family you have. So glad you feel well too!

    [Reply]

  30. stacie kaltz

    10/12/2017

    So happy for you Andrea! Shes precious! I have been reading your blog since 2012 and have watched your family grow, its amazing how big Nora is! Enjoy!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, Nora is so grown-up now! She’s lost 3 teeth already with a few more wiggly ones and she’s starting to read! crazy!

    [Reply]

  31. Amy

    10/12/2017

    Congratulations! Thanks for sharing a peek into your family. Enjoy your semi-blogging break.

    [Reply]

  32. JoAnn C.

    10/12/2017

    Thanks for the beautiful post, Andrea. So very happy for you and Dave. Rest well. Can’t wait until November.

    JoAnn

    [Reply]

  33. Roxanne

    10/12/2017

    So glad to hear things are going better for you this time around! Even though we miss your daily posts, it’s great to see that you are doing what’s best for you and your family- way to lead by example! Clara is very cute, and it seems her big siblings have welcomed her into the club 🙂

    [Reply]

    Barb Reply:

    Totally agree. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Roxanne — the daily posts will be back again soon!!

    [Reply]

  34. Deb

    10/12/2017

    So precious! And you look wonderful (like are you back in your normal clothes or what!?) for just having a baby! Congratulations!

    I love how organized you were too, up to the last minute. Did you vacuum your way out of the house too? Just joking!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — no, I didn’t vacuum myself out of the house (but only because the kids were sleeping!)

    [Reply]

  35. Annette Silveira

    10/12/2017

    I’m so happy for you! I miss your daily posts, but I’m so glad your time with Clara and the rest of your family has been so good.
    I want to say how happy I am that you are so up front about taking your medication to prevent postpartum depression. I’m sure some people will question the fact that you took it while pregnant, but it’s so important to take care of our mental health as well as our physical health at every stage of life. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  36. Kellie Denton

    10/12/2017

    Ahhh I love birth stories! And yours sounds like one of the easiest labors yet! Congrats on little Clara – she’s beautiful and you and Dave and the kids just look so happy! Prayers for a great start with #4!

    [Reply]

  37. Erin

    10/12/2017

    Absolute kudos to you for working with your doctor to make sure your mood is stabilized! She’s quite beaut and all of her unofficial online aunties are so proud. Enjoy your “rest” 😉

    [Reply]