Her Birth Story
I’m sitting here with Millie sound asleep on my chest, Emma is napping, and both boys are in school and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’m about to write my FOURTH child’s birth story. For so long I longed to be a mama; it is purely God’s grace and goodness to me that I am one today. My fourth birth story in six years. I’ve given birth in 2015 (Jude), 2017 (Knox), 2020 (Emma), and now 2021 (Millie). Just typing that makes me tired... and so grateful... unbelievably grateful. After some calculations, I have been pregnant during 6 of the last 8 years! These last eight years have been the sweetest and most challenging of my life. Nate and I absolutely cherish being parents, and each time we’ve welcomed a new baby into the world, it is hands down the most amazing thing we have experienced in our 10 years together. I’m so excited to introduce you to the newest member of our family and tell you the story of how she came into this world!
If you’re not interested in reading every little detail, I get it. It’s quite a long story. Only some people love birth stories so, if you’re not one of them, here’s a quick, one sentence explanation as to what happened! After battling Covid and being in and out of the hospital for three weeks, I was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) and induced at the perfect time to welcome our sweet second daughter into the world on August 25th at 11:23am.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
When Emma was seven months old I opened up the studio and made the transition to full time newborn and family photographer. I had no intention of having another baby so quickly, but there is something about regularly holding newborn babies that can make a woman really want another baby. My pregnancy with Emma was quite miserable (putting it lightly). There were a lot of issues from the get-go and at the very end I thought I would never do it again (I think I say that every time). If you want to read more of that story, you can check out her birth story blog post here. Just one month later when Emma was eight months old I told Nate I wanted another baby. After having Knox, my ovulation patterns changed so we really had no way of knowing when the opportune time was to get pregnant. It was December and we were loading up the car to head down to Florida to see my family for Christmas and I was just a few days out from being able to take a test. I wanted to take a test SO BADLY while we were in Florida, but Nate convinced me not to so there wouldn’t be pressure to keep it a secret from my family while in their presence. So, the minute we pulled into the driveway on December 28th I ran to the bathroom to take a pregnancy test. (Nate was literally still unloading the kids.) To my surprise, it was positive.
The beginning of my pregnancy was much like my others- morning (all day) sickness, exhaustion, no appetite, crazy dreams- hard, but expected. I still had to take my daily blood thinner injections because of my clotting condition, but honestly they don’t bother me anymore. The second trimester was pretty smooth, no issues at all- I felt great, got my energy back, and actually kind of enjoyed pregnancy. During the third trimester Nate was at camp, I was large (the largest belly I’ve had with any of my babies), and it was hot as all get-out. Aside from that, everything was going really smoothly. This was by far my smoothest and easiest pregnancy. About a week before camp ended I remember telling Nate that this pregnancy was somewhat “uneventful” in comparison to the other babies... I think I jinxed things by saying that, because the next 3 weeks would prove to be the most trying physically, emotionally, and mentally of any of my pregnancies.
An Unexpected Battle with Covid
The day after we got back from our mini Baby-moon to Gatlinburg Tennessee we found out that some people at Nate’s work had tested positive for Covid. At the time he was experiencing some sinus junk and a headache, but nothing we thought could be Covid. I convinced him to take a test because I couldn’t risk being exposed and then exposing my clients. So, on his way home from work he picked up an at home Covid test and it was immediately positive (*sinking feeling*). I was just a month out from my maternity leave and I was FULLY BOOKED which meant I had to do a lot of rescheduling to fit all of my clients in before this baby arrived.
The next night I was wide awake with anxiety and pregnancy insomnia- I probably slept a good 45 minutes that night. While I was awake I started to notice that Millie wasn’t moving like she normally does. She was typically a night owl and would wake me up with her kicks, but it had been several hours since I felt her move. I walked around the house for a bit, ate a sugary snack, drank some ice water, tapped on my belly for a bit, took a bath and still didn’t feel her at all. It was a Friday night so I decided to call the hospital and talk to someone in Labor and Delivery. They told me to come in for monitoring to make sure the baby was doing okay. I woke Nate up, told him what was going on and told him I would let him know what they said at the hospital. I hopped in his truck at 3:00 that morning and headed down the road to the hospital. As I entered the ER for my initial assessment they asked me if I had a covid test recently which my response was no. They swabbed me and an hour later the test results came back positive (*sinking feeling*). I had no symptoms at the time. Long story short, I spent the next few days in the hospital monitoring Millie, monitoring my symptoms as they started to show, getting lots of IV fluids, and having tests on my heart because my pulse was in the 130s and 140s just sitting in bed.
After I was discharged I felt fine for a day or two, and then the bottom dropped. I spiked a fever I couldn’t control and wound up back at the ER a few days later and admitted for monitoring. This time I was REALLY sick. I felt miserable, I was worried about Millie, worried about my kids at home who were also sick with Covid, worried about my business and our family’s finances, just worried about everything. The doctors informed me that I had developed pneumonia which felt like another kick in the gut. After a few days they released me home to heal and rest and regain my strength so that I could have a baby. They didn’t want to induce me at the time because there was a higher risk of developing deeper respiratory issues after birth. Plus, hospital policy was that I would not be allowed a support person, and there was no way I wanted to labor alone in my condition if I could help it. So as I sat in bed at the hospital in the Covid room I just listened to worship music and rested and prayed that the Lord would make good of this situation, that He would protect my family and that He would bring Millie into the world in His perfect timing, healthy and safe too.
Because I was still in my 14-day Covid quarantine, when it was time for OB appointments I had to report back to Labor and Delivery at the hospital for my ultrasounds and nonstress tests. Let’s just say the nurses and I became quite familiar the last several weeks, and room 108 (the room which both boys were born in) became another home between being admitted twice and having my tests done there.
During that last week my symptoms were improving, I was home and feeling better each day, the kids had recovered, and things were looking up. Until, one night I was wide awake again, except this time my hands and feet felt on fire. It’s hard to explain how exactly it felt. The best explanation I can come up with was that my feet and hands were buried in a fire ant pile and then someone poured cement on top so I couldn’t pull them out. It prompted the kind of scratching that would make you bleed if you didn’t contain yourself. I tried Benadryl, hydrocortisone cream, cool rags, an ice bucket, EVERYTHING I could think of to get the itching to stop. I remember sitting in bed just crying as I was clawing at the bottom of my feet wondering what was wrong with me. Nate and my first thought was that it was a reaction to the antibiotics or steroids they gave me in the hospital for my pneumonia. I had an OB appointment scheduled for the next day so I figured I would bring it up to them. When I told them about my symptoms they immediately sent me back to the hospital for monitoring and bloodwork. They mentioned this condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) which affects the liver and occurs in pregnant women in their last trimester. After some googling I started to panic. I was 37 weeks along and everything I was reading suggested induction at 37 weeks due to increased risk of stillbirth or fetal distress. There was literature on women hemorrhaging because of this condition (which someone on blood thinners never wants to hear). They prescribed me some antibiotics to help with my itching while they waited for my lab results (which took several days). During those days I spent all my time and energy counting kicks, itching my hands and feet, and trying to heal from Covid. My pulse was back through the roof (most likely due to the increased anxiety from googling ICP and waiting for the labs). When my lab results came back Tuesday confirming my elevated bile acid levels and ICP diagnosis, my midwife suggested induction for the next morning.
The Birth of Millie Dee
On Wednesday morning, August 25th at 5:00am we headed to the hospital. I was ready. I had been so anxious to meet this little girl and to hold her outside of me safe and healthy. After getting settled into the room I turned on my mini bluetooth speaker and started my Worship for Labor spotify playlist and just closed my eyes. It was early so Nate was catching a little nap as well. Emma was up A LOT the night before- I guess she needed some attention as her last night as the baby, so we were both quite exhausted.
At 6:30 we started the Pitocin and I was dilated to a 2.
When my midwife came in for morning rounds she broke my water right at 8:00am and I was at a 3.
The anesthesiologist arrived to give me an epidural at 8:30 (I felt like a cheater because at that point my contractions were super mild and I wasn’t really feeling any pain). I knew from my other deliveries though that as soon as I got the epidural my body would kick into high gear and we would have a baby rather quickly.
The epidural was perfect. I felt very minimal pain during the entire process. I rolled from one side to the other and by 11:00 when I called the nurse in to help me switch positions I was starting to feel a little pressure. When she checked me she said “you’re complete, let’s call Britteny and have this baby” I was almost in disbelief because I thought for sure I was only at a 7 or 8 at the time.
Britteny arrived 10 or so minutes later and it was time to meet our Millie girl. Two contractions later she was born at 11:23am with the chubbiest of cheeks and the skinniest of legs. She reminded me so much of her brother Knox when he was born (except he was a pound larger). Weighing in at 7lbs 5oz and 19 inches long, our girl was finally here.
We spent the first hour just us three listening to worship music and soaking in our little girl. She was finally here. God’s perfect timing allowed for me to be recovered from Covid, allowed Nate to be present for the birth, allowed our children to be healthy so that we could have childcare for them, and allowed her to arrive safely without complication. His goodness does not go unnoticed when I think about all of the things that could have gone wrong in the last few weeks leading up to her birth. Once again our God was present and gracious and little miss Millie’s story already echoes His faithfulness. The day of her birth was a sweet sweet day of worship and redemption after a trying month of anxiety and fear.
Since her arrival we have been at home soaking in being a family of SIX (wow, that escalated quickly). I’ve given up social media so my late night nursing sessions are filled with worship music and listening to the Dwell app that was gifted to me by a sweet friend. All three kids have taken Millie in so incredibly. Emma is smitten with her little sister and will just stare and smile and giggle at her all day long. There is so much sweetness about a newborn baby. They have supernatural powers that in an instance can make you forget all the trials of the last nine months. You were worth every hard moment sweet girl, I am so thankful to be your mama.
Meet our little Millie girl.
Images by Hannah Wade Photography www.hannahwadephotography.com