Family Blog


Birth Story and First Weeks

posted Oct 15, 2013, 8:07 AM by Theresa S

Audrey Alexandra Haboubi Stephens was born on October 3, 2013 at 3:36pm, weighting 9 pounds 4 ounces and measuring 21 inches long. She is now 12 days old and thriving. She is a very easy baby so far. She eats well and has fed from both the breast and the bottle easily. She had already gained back her birth weight plus a few more ounces at one week old. She sleeps for 4-5 hour stretches at night, and actually slept through the night for the first time last night (which was a lovely surprise that I completely do not expect to continue). She likes to take walks in her carrier and wrap, and she has already gone on outings to the grocery store, Target, the mall, and out to eat. She also got to meet all of her cousins, including Baby Sam, who was born on October 12.
Audrey (in pink) and Sam (in blue):
Many people have asked about my birth story, so I am going to include it here. It's a good example of how, no matter how much planning and preparation is made for a natural birth, sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. Either way, the baby makes its way into the world.
I went to the midwife on Wednesday October 2, and they did a procedure on me where they pulled my cervix behind the baby's head. I always find that when they do the internal check that its very uncomfortable, but this was another level of discomfort. Gabe said it made me whimper. At least it didn't take very long, and it did get contractions started. I felt mildly crampy all day on Wednesday, sporadic but regularly. My mom decided to come down on Wednesday night because I was going to be induced on Friday, even if nothing came of the cramps/contractions I was having that day. When I went to bed that night I started having sharp back pains about every 10 minutes while lying on my side. I went downstairs around 1am and sat propped up with pillows on the couch with the heating pad on my back. I felt pretty good in that position, but I started timing the contractions and they were coming between 3-5 minutes apart and lasted a bit less than a minute. They felt like abdominal cramps and back pain at the same time, and I had to take the time to stop and breathe when I had one, but I could still talk through it. I woke Gabe up around 5am because they had been between 3-5 minutes apart for about 3 hours and I thought we might want to call and find out if we should go to the hospital. I called the midwife and she said I might want to labor at home until I couldn't talk through the contractions. So I had a shower and had a small breakfast and we were planning to go for a walk, but the contractions started feeling worse and I was worried about getting stuck in rush hour traffic, so we left the house at 7:30.
When we got to the hospital, we had to do an initial 20 minutes on the heart rate monitor. We talked to the midwife (it ended up that the one that we hadn't met was the one on call) and the nurses and the OB on call and everyone was respectful of our birth plan. They were dedicated to helping us have as few interventions as possible. Unfortunately, things weren't going our way from the beginning. Audrey's heart rate was not responsive to the contractions (it is supposed to spike up during a contraction) and I also hadn't dilated more since that morning at my office visit (3cm). They kept me on the monitor and had me lie on either side and eat ice chips to try and get the baby moving and responding to the contractions, but her heart rate stayed the same. So they said that they would let me keep laboring, but I had to be attached to a monitor and that meant I had to stay in bed. So I kept laboring on my back, which was super uncomfortable since I was feeling the contractions in my back, and it was also uncomfortable having the monitor strapped on to my stomach. Eventually they checked in again and the baby still wasn't responding and I wasn't dilating any more, even though I was having strong contractions 2 minutes apart, so they decided to do an internal fetal monitor to give a more accurate reading. Unfortunately that meant less movement for me, and nothing improved.
They decided to break my water to see if the amniotic fluid was preventing the baby from feeling the contractions, since I had a lot of it. This was also very uncomfortable, like the cervix procedure, plus they wanted to do it during a contraction for some reason, so it was double the pain. Breaking the water didn't improve things. They offered me an epidural, and at this point I was very overwhelmed and feeling hopeless and crying. Gabe was trying to be a good coach and knew that it wasn't what I wanted, so he talked me into laboring for a little while longer to see if more time would help, even though he felt like everyone thought he was a jerk. :-) I knew what he was doing and why and so we fought through another couple hours. Finally, we decided to do an epidural to see if relaxing and resting would help improve things. I was more than ready for it, and it was an amazing relief. I was able to nap for two hours, and they also gave me Pitocin to try and strengthen the contractions and see if the baby would react. So, around 3, after having been laboring on my back for 7 hours at the hospital and having all those medical interventions that weren't part of our plan, I wasn't any more dilated and the baby still wasn't responding. We didn't really have any other choice but to have a C-section, and I had made peace with it by then. Gabe was such a great coach, helping me through every contraction, and really doing his best to be an advocate for me and follow the plan, but basically everything went out the window and was out of our control.
The C-section was pretty surreal because I was on a lot of drugs to numb everything and I was very sleepy. Everything was happening behind a drape, so I couldn't see anything and could only feel some pressure. Gabe got to watch things, and when the baby was born, he got to go watch her get cleaned up and checked out. I could hear her cry, but couldn't see what they were doing. Finally, Gabe was able to bring her over to sit next to me for a few minutes. It was really strange because I was so excited to see her, but I was nodding off because of the drugs. Then, they went to the recovery room while I was stitched up, which took about half an hour. Afterwards I got to join them in the recovery room, but I couldn't hold her until I was less sleepy. Once I was alert I was able to hold her and nurse, and we were moved to our room where we stayed for the next three days. The grandparents came to see her (my mom was there for the labor until I went to surgery) and she was given her first bath. The next few days, we had friends and family come to visit. I had a fever and a high heart rate at first, so I was monitored for infection. Basically a doctor or nurse is always coming in to check temperature or blood pressure or how much I'm peeing or do blood work on me or the baby 24 hours a day, and of course we are still caring for the baby and ourselves, plus we had some classes to go to, so there is always a lot going on at the hospital. 
It's hard outside the womb
First family portrait
We got to go home on Sunday and my mom stayed with us until Friday night, when Baby Sam was approaching delivery, and she had to report to my sister's house. Gabe's mom joined us on Sunday, so we have been fortunate to have a lot of help.
I have had a reasonably easy recovery from the C-section. I was retaining a lot of fluid at first, but am now back to normal, and off all the heavy painkillers that made me nod off at first. I am gaining back my stamina and going a little further on my walks every day, and beginning to do chores and get errands done. Now it's time to enjoy the baby and figure out what the new normal looks like for us.

One more week...

posted Sep 26, 2013, 1:32 PM by Theresa S

At today's appointment, my midwife came to the decision that we should not go past our due date. The combination of the two vessel cord and my high amniotic fluid levels have her worried about how my placenta will do if we go past the due date, so the plan is to strip my membranes on Wednesday and see if that will start labor. If not, I have an induction scheduled for October 4th. On one hand, it is nice to know I won't be waiting forever, and that there is an end in sight. On the other hand, I am nervous about what labor will be like if I am induced. I'm worried about the pain and whether I will be able to deal with it without an epidural and whether my mobility will be limited with an IV. I am really hoping the induction will be unnecessary and that things will begin on their own soon. I'm anxious to meet our girl and see what she is like. The ultrasound tech said that she has hair, so I'm interested to see what that looks like. :-)

A birthday baby?

posted Sep 19, 2013, 9:52 AM by Theresa S

We had another ultrasound today, and thankfully the baby hasn't grown into the gargantuan baby that the OB expected. She only gained 3 ounces in the last two weeks, although her head is "generous." We got to meet with our midwife, who was very reassuring, and doesn't anticipate any problems with the birth. She seems to think that the baby will be here by the end of next week, and gave us a list of things to do to coax her along. Gabe installed the car seat last night, so we are all ready to bring baby home. Getting excited!

Full Term!

posted Sep 18, 2013, 12:22 PM by Theresa S

September has been a month of joys and concerns in baby news. We kicked off the month with a fantastic co-ed luau shower in DC hosted by the lovely Necia and Carolyn. It was wonderful that so many of our friends were able to come and enjoy some delicious food and drink with us, and play pin the sperm on the egg.
On September 5, I had an ultrasound and a visit with a rather dramatic nurse practitioner, where I was told that the baby was already measuring 7 pounds 7 ounces at 36 weeks and that she wanted me to talk to an OB about possibly scheduling a C-section. Of course, this was the last thing I wanted to hear, after planning an intervention-free birth. On September 11th, I met with an OB, who warned us about the heightened risk of shoulder dystocia occurring during labor with large babies, and gave us his recommendation that we schedule a C-section. Gabe and I have been educating ourselves about shoulder dystocia (when the head is delivered and the baby's shoulders get stuck) and do not feel that it is a good enough reason to schedule a C-section--which carries it's own risks. Shoulder dystocia occurs in about 2% of all births and there are various steps that medical staff can take to help deliver the baby if it occurs. We have another ultrasound to check her size and a visit with our midwife to discuss it again tomorrow. Hopefully her growth has slowed down and my nerves will be eased. The last two visits have not been great for my confidence in being able to deliver her!
This Friday I will be 38 weeks--Baby can go ahead and get here as soon as she wants! The waiting is the worst, but unfortunately its out of anyone's hands but Mother Nature. :-)

34 weeks

posted Aug 27, 2013, 4:07 PM by Theresa S

6 weeks until baby's projected arrival date, and we are anxiously anticipating her arrival. I have been going back and forth between hoping she comes close to her due date so I can get everything tied up at work, and hoping she comes early so I can avoid having to tie up everything at work. :-) Her kicks have turned into more of a feeling of limbs dragging around and trying to stretch out in an ever tighter space. 

My wonderful sister threw me a beautiful baby shower two weekends ago. It was so great to catch up with family and friends and eat delicious food together.

Nursery preparations are coming along well. Some people have been asking what Baby's room looks like, so I thought I'd include a few shots here:

Next week I'll have another ultrasound to check out baby's growth, and after that it'll be midwife appointments every week! 

28 weeks

posted Jul 15, 2013, 9:48 AM by Theresa S

Today we had a big visit to the midwife. We had an ultrasound to double-check her single artery cord (and confirmed that she is a girl again!). I'll also be going to a specialist to take a look at the cord this Wednesday. They said she is growing on track, besides having a bit of a fat belly. Also got my glucose test done to check for gestational diabetes and a fun rhogam shot in the butt, since Gabe and I have incompatible blood types. 

Here is a profile pic of her from today's visit:

There have been a bunch of bump shots taken lately too (On the beach at 26 weeks and At Home at 27 weeks):


We also came upon a table full of baby girl clothes at our community yard sale and picked up all this stuff for $14. I can't wait to put those little slippers on her:

25 weeks

posted Jun 21, 2013, 7:01 PM by Theresa S

Baby kicks are now visible from the outside! Gabe got to see it when he came home from work today.

Otherwise, not much is new besides growing like crazy. Our next big appointment is at 28 weeks. Hopefully we'll have some more pictures of her then. 

Little pink things

posted May 27, 2013, 4:31 PM by Theresa S

Grandma Ruth was down this weekend and brought Baby some treasures from the past (and some new ones too). Today I'm working on laundering the clothes and blankets we've acquired so far.
Here are some beautiful afghans that were made for me when I was born:
And Baby's closet is already full of my pink hand-me-downs:

Little thumper

posted May 26, 2013, 7:11 PM by Theresa S

Gabe got to feel our little thumper for the first time today! Also, we got the cousins together for a picture:

It's a Girl!

posted May 21, 2013, 10:43 AM by Theresa S

Today we had our 20 week ultrasound, and everything is looking good. Our ultrasound technician said she is 95% sure that it is a girl. We were hoping for 100% but I have another ultrasound in 8 weeks, when they can hopefully check again. They wanted to look again because our baby seems to have a single umbilical artery. Most babies have 2 arteries and 1 vein in the umbilical cord, ours has 1 artery and 1 vein. Not a cause for concern, but it means we'll get to see the baby a little sooner than before.
I'm feeling a little shocked (although very happy) with our gender news. I guess I had been more sure that it was a boy than I thought! I'm second guessing my original girl name, so time to look at the baby name websites for some more inspiration. :-)
Here is baby looking like a Dia De Los Muertos skeleton:
Fun with little shoes :-)

1-10 of 17