Birth Plan

It’s been a while (7 months, to be precise) since I gave birth to Eleanor, but as more friends are considering natural labor and have tons of questions I decided to post our birth plan online. We gave copies to the doctor and had several with us when we checked in to the hospital. Plus, we had a walking birth plan in the form of our doula, Coleen. She was amazing (I’m happy to send a referral if you’re in the Knoxville area – email me and I’ll get you her info!) and knew what we wanted every step yet still allowed us to make the decisions.

Anyway, she and I emailed this baby back and forth many times to get it just right. This is the final copy below (slightly edited to remove our Doc/Hospital’s names).


Bronce & Erin  – Birth Plan

A Very Awesome Hospital, Dr. R

Doula: Coleen McKeehan

It is our desire to have an epidural-free, natural –as-possible childbirth. We have gone to classes, researched, and tried to become mentally and physically prepared for the work involved. We understand that things do not always go as anticipated and in such instances ask that we can discuss alternate interventions (and the pros and cons) as the need arises. I greatly appreciate your cooperation in realizing this plan.


I would like to labor at home as long as possible before coming in to deliver.

If my water breaks at the onset of labor, I would like to wait 6-12 (or more) hours before inducing – my and my baby’s condition permitting.


My husband, BRONCE , and my doula, COLEEN McKEEHAN, will be present to assist me through labor. Other family members may be invited in during the early-to-mid stages of labor but we would like the delivery room to be cleared of all but Bronce and Coleen once Transition begins.

If possible, I would like a birthing ball and rocking chair available in the room. I will provide my own music and request a calm environment.

We would like the father and the doula to be allowed to take photos or video tape parts of the labor and birth.


° I prefer to not have or be offered an epidural or any other pain medication. Please let me request it if I feel I am not coping with the pain. I would like to handle the pain through position changes, massage relaxation, breathing techniques, distraction, hot/cold therapy, shower, etc.

° I may take IV narcotics if I feel the need to take the edge off the pain.


Staying mobile is the most important thing to me – Therefore…

° I prefer not to be automatically hooked up to an IV for hydration. I would prefer to have an IV “port” (Hep-Lock) installed in my arm for quick intravenous access in the event it is needed .I would like to stay hydrated by sipping water/Sprite/Gatorade and/or using ice chips. Popsicles, gum, or suckers would also be preferable.

° Fetal Monitoring – I would like to request intermittent fetal monitoring and a telemetry unit in order to remain mobile.

° I prefer not to have my waters routinely broken. I prefer to only have them broken if I am at least 8 cm dilated, if my labor is stalled, or if it is deemed critical to internally monitor the baby. If my water is broken and the baby’s head is engaged, I’d like to still have mobility to use different positions in and out of bed.

° Except in the case of an emergency, we ask that we be given the opportunity to accept or refuse any procedure or medication. As long as the baby and I are fine, I would like to be free of time limits and not have my labor augmented.

° I would like to try a variety of positions for pushing such as: supported 45-degree sit, squatting, side lying, hands and knees, standing upright, or whatever seems helpful to me. I prefer not to deliver flat on my back.

° As long as the baby and I are fine, I would like to be free of time limits on pushing. I would like to give my perineum ample time to stretch, and would like to have calm coaching instructions for pushing. I know it take a lot of effort to push and I may need strong encouragement, but I prefer to have things as calm as possible.

° I would like to be able to have warm washcloths applied to my perineum to relax the muscles and aid in stretching. I prefer not to have as episiotomy performed unless it is necessary for the health of the baby. I would rather risk a tear than have an episiotomy.

Cesarean Section – in the event of a C-Section, I would like the following considerations:

° I would like my husband and doula to be present at all times during the operation.

° I would like to be conscious, unless it is an emergency c-section.

° I would like to have immediate contact with the baby, if the baby is in good health. In the event I am unconscious, please allow my husband to have contact with the baby as soon as possible.

° We prefer the baby and father remain in the recovery room with the mother. I would still want to breastfeed as soon as possible.


° I would like to have my husband cut the cord after the cord has stopped pulsing.

° I would like the baby to be placed on my chest/tummy immediately after birth and would like to postpone the standard newborn procedures until I have had the chance to bond with the baby. I would also like to attempt to breastfeed my baby immediately after birth.

° Staff-permitting, we would like the newborn procedures to be performed in our room. (Please forego the Hepatitis vaccination – we will have this given at a later date by the pediatrician.)

° We want the baby to room in with us.

° Since I plan to breastfeed exclusively, I would prefer that no artificial nipples (bottles, pacifiers) be offered to him/her at any point.

° If my baby and I are recovering well, we would like the option to be discharged from the hospital after 24 hours.

° If the baby is a boy, we would like him circumcised. We request that he would definitely be given local anesthesia.


This plan describes how we hope things will go. We understand, however, that no birth necessarily goes “as planned” and that each labor is different. We understand that complications could arise that would negate some of our stated preferences.

We strive to go as intervention-free as possible to prevent complications or the need for further procedures that could affect the progress of my labor or the health of my baby.


There you have it! It went well, as you can read in my post about our birth. We had a couple of complications along the way but it was an amazing experience!


Our Birth Story

Bronce and I can hardly believe we’ve had precious Eleanor with us for 3 weeks now. She’s growing so much and is such a sweet baby. We’re adapting to the sleepless nights and trying to figure out how to switch her days/nights (since she seems to have them backwards!). But… I want to take some time to reflect on the night she was born. We met with Coleen, our doula, last night to discuss some of the postpartum questions she has for her families, and she delivered a bunch of pictures and our birth story. It was fun to read over it – we had lots of “I don’t remember that!” moments as we relived the 9 hours at the hospital as we awaited Eleanor’s arrival. Here are the details and some pictures of our adventure!


Thursday, January 13th

We had a doctor’s appointment this morning – he did an exam and found that I was 1 cm dilated and 25% effaced. An ultrasound claimed the baby was 8 lbs, 10 oz (I’m so glad this was super wrong!) At this time, the topic of induction started creeping into conversation, with Dr. R encouraging us to consider an induction on the 19th (the day after our due date). Because we were so interested in going forth with our plan for natural labor, this was very frustrating and we began praying immediately that something would happen soon. Thursday night Bronce and I went to the mall to do some serious walking to try to get the baby moving. Later that night I had contractions from 10-12:30 and they were anywhere from 8-12 minutes apart. I was able to get to sleep and ignore them eventually.

Friday, January 14th

I had contractions throughout the day Friday, but it was my last work day before maternity leave so I powered through and ignored them as best as I could. That evening they began coming more regularly, about 8 minutes apart from 6pm till midnight. Again, I was able to go to sleep and get through them eventually.

Saturday, January 15th

Saturday morning started like a normal weekend and around 11 am I began having regular contractions again. I monitored them and they were about 6 minutes apart all day. After a few uncomfortable hours I insisted Bronce and I leave the house and run some errands. We hit Babies R Us for a few last minute purchases and went to the grocery store to stock the fridge and pantry in case we weren’t able to leave the house again for a few weeks – this ended up being a great idea given what the night had in store for us!

Bronce’s parents wanted to go out to dinner that evening but I could tell I’d be very uncomfortable sitting in a restaurant feeling that way, so we had them over to our house instead. We ate dinner around 7 and planned to watch the Lady Vols Basketball game that evening. Partway through dinner, around 7:30, my contractions drastically changed from being manageable to incredibly uncomfortable and painful. They also immediately quickened from a set 6 minutes apart to 3-5 minutes apart. They alternated 3 minutes then 5 minutes every other contraction for the next hour or so. Linda and Larry could quickly sense my discomfort and left (taking our dog, Mr. B, with them), leaving Bronce and I to realize things were probably about to change for us.

We spent the next few hours at the house with me attempting different pain management strategies and Bronce packing (conveniently, he had put this off till now!). We went through our last-minute packing lists (things like toothbrushes and the iPod) and got the car all set. Meanwhile I alternated sitting on a birthing ball (a big inflated exercise ball), laying on the couch, walking around, leaning over the side of the couch, and taking a bath. The bath helped, though our tiny bathtubs hardly covered my big belly, providing minimal help. Finally about 11:30 p.m. I called Coleen, saying, “I’m about at the end of myself.” Coleen said she’d meet us at the hospital.

The drive to UT Medical Center was rough – Bronce was in a hurry but I was in a great deal of pain, so I was constantly urging him to slow down and not whip me around the corners so strongly. He was a champ, supporting me the whole way and soothing me as I was dealing with the sharp pains. We parked (I wouldn’t let him drop me off because I preferred to hold on to him as I walked in), grabbed our backpack of labor goodies, and headed in to meet Coleen at the elevators. Thankfully she was there – we probably would have had a hard time finding the right place to go in to the labor and delivery floor. She had a name badge that let her in through the doors so she was able to rush us back to triage quickly.

We sat at the triage desk and answered a bunch of questions. According to the nurses, we arrived at 12:01am. After taking the information, they moved us to a room to check me. Once in the bed, I said, “If they tell me its just cramps, I think I’ll hit someone.” Rosa checked me at 12:20 a.m. and was happy to tell me that I was 4-5 cm. dilated, 60% effaced and baby was at -2 station. We were staying to have this baby!! Bronce immediately called his parents and then called mine. My parents were already close to the hospital and Bronce’s dad came alone, since his mom was having some kind of allergic reaction. They started the INT (IV port) at 12:45 a.m. and then Dr. S came in to say hi. He was on call for Dr. R. At 1:00 a.m. we moved to Labor Room #11. By this point my contractions were getting stronger and were coming every 2-3 minutes.


I’m not sure if it is a general UT thing or just a factor of us being at the hospital late on a weekend night, but we had one nurse in our room with us the entire delivery. Her name was Barbara, and she was fantastic! When she found out we were doing natural labor she became our #1 cheerleader. She was incredibly supportive and spread the news to the other nurses on the floor who kept checking in on us and cheering us on as well – as one of them said, it’s rare that anyone does natural labor these days, but “it’s how we’re supposed to do it!” They were all great and so incredibly helpful.

Nurse Barb was having trouble understanding Bronce’s name. She said, “So it’s Bronce – like Charles Bronson. I thought it was Brice – like Brice Canyon.” At 1:20 a.m. my parents came in to check on me. Bronce’s dad was in the waiting room. During this time I tried different positions, standing/leaning on Bronce and swaying. Then I got on the birth ball – it wasn’t as comfortable as I’d hoped it would be since it put pressure on my pelvis in weird places.


At 2:00 a.m. my parents left the room and I took the birth ball in to the shower. I didn’t bring a sports bra, so I put on one of Bronce’s t-shirts. The water felt wonderful. Bronce put on the lounge pants that I had worn to the hospital, since they were his anyway. He rolled them up and got in the shower to help spray me. Barb got me some diet Coke to sip on. At one point I said, “This feels good! It makes the contractions so much better.” It really did!… the sensory changes from the warm water allowed me to talk, joke around, laugh, and manage my pain so much better. Bronce later told me he thought my labor had possibly stalled out since I seemed so comfortable. At one point Bronce’s dad came by and to take Bronce to the doctor’s lounge and get him some snacks. At 2:30 a.m. Barb found a shower chair and we replaced the birth ball with the chair. It was more comfortable for me than rolling on the bath ball and trying to keep my balance. Coleen noted that I said, “I can talk through my contractions again.”



Along the way Barb came in with the Doppler to check on baby’s heartbeat so I didn’t need to leave the shower to get hooked up to the machines. Coleen told me to stay in as long as I wanted, since it wasn’t going to be on my water bill. In fact, she mentioned that she once had a girl stay under the shower spray for 45 minutes. Being competitive, my initial thought was “I can make it way longer than that!” Considering how good it felt and how much it relieved my pain, it didn’t take competition to keep me in there – it was great! At this point I was mostly spraying myself. Bronce sat beside me just outside the shower on a round stool for a while. At 3:10 a.m. Bronce and I were chatting and he helped me breathe through the contractions as they got more severe. By 3:30 a.m. I was about ready to get out, but fearful also, since I was afraid the contractions were going to be hard to deal with out of the shower. Even knowing that was the case, I was getting bored in the shower and needed a change of scenery!

By 3:45 a.m. I was back to bed and Barb monitored me for 15 minutes. After that, I decided to get up to walk. Barb was very laid back about it, she just told us to come back when things got rough. We stopped by the waiting room to pick up my parents. We stood in the window for a few seconds wondering if they’d see us. Finally we knocked on the glass and they both jumped up, startled to see us. At this point Bronce’s dad had gone to lie down on a cot in his office. My parents walked with us for the next hour. We went to the first floor and walked to the new lobby and then down the hallway to the doctor’s office buildings.


Coleen encouraged me to add some sway to my walk – it hurt a lot but I started swinging my legs out wide to help widen my pelvis to bring the baby lower. My legs began to get weak as my contractions were getting stronger and I needed to stop and breathe through them. At one point we were all huddled over some chairs in a waiting room while I had a severe contraction and some people stopped us to see if we were okay – they quickly left us alone when I spoke up “everything’s okay! I’m in labor!” We returned to the room at 4:36 a.m when my legs got too weak to walk around much more.


At 4:43 a.m. Barb checked and found that I was 7-8 cm. dilated, 100% thinned out and baby was down to 0 station. Coleen went out to tell my parents – Bronce and I got emotional as we realized how close we were to having our baby here! At 4:50 a.m. I asked for some narcotic pain relief to get some rest – I was given a 25 mg. dose of IV Fentanyl. That dose didn’t really make much of a difference for my contractions, though I was able to relax a bit. I was lying on my side in bed, doing pant-blow breathing and listening to praise music. “How great is our God” was the first song, and Coleen reminded me that God was there with us. Bronce called his dad with an update and woke him up. His response was, “Wow!” At 5:20 a.m. I began feeling some pressure and felt a weird “pushing” urge – not a true desire to push but a new and different kind of pain. Barb found that I “hardly have any cervix left – 9 cm.” My water broke with some pressure from the cervical check. It was clear. At 5:27 a.m. I received a 50 mg. dose of Fentanyl and I tried resting – hardly possible with the increased pressure of the contractions when my water had been broken! The pain increased exponentially when that happened. At 5:40 a.m. I had a slight anterior lip. We had been talking about if this baby would have hair, and at 6:00 a.m. Barb said, “You’re going to have a cute little furry baby.”

At 6:08 a.m. I began pushing, my cervix was totally thinned out. I can remember the beginning of pushing when Coleen gave me instructions: “Take a deep breath in and out. Take another deep breath and hold it while you push for three long pushes.” Those directions seem rather simple, but they were actually very difficult for me to follow and it took quite a few pushes for me to get the rhythm correct. Bronce and Coleen counted to 10 with each push but I got really ticked off at them for coaching me like this: “Deep breath in… and out… Another deep breath… hold it… and… (pause…pause…pause…) 1…2…3…” Those pauses drove me crazy. At one point I yelled at them for counting too slow (I really meant that they weren’t starting to count soon enough after I had the deep breath held) and I began counting loudly for myself. They laughed and thought it was funny but at the time I was in no mood to chuckle with them. During many of the contractions Bronce counted for me alone and I could hear his voice cracking as he got glimpses of our baby getting closer to being born. It was a really emotional time for both of us as we went through the experience of birth together.

At 6:13 a.m. my baby’s heart rate went down and I needed oxygen and was turned on my side – strangely, I barely remember this happening except that the oxygen dried out my mouth so badly I wanted to refuse it when they gave it to me. I pushed on that one side, then at 6:26 a.m. I was pushing in a semi-sitting position. From then on I didn’t need the oxygen and baby’s heart rate was fine. They attached a squat bar to the end of the hospital bed and I was able to sit up, throw my arms over the bar, and sit in a full squat to push. The positioning for pushing was great, but getting up and down between pushes was extremely painful so I didn’t last long like this and laid back down in the bed. They did keep the bar up and I rested my feet on it between pushes.

Using the squat bar:


I had a hard time handling the pain and the only way I knew to let everyone know that it was bad was by saying, “I want an epidural.” They told me that it was too late but that I could get a Pudendal block. Barb thought it was too soon (the meds only last an hour and we had no idea how long I’d be pushing). She said, “Don’t let the pressure scare you.” I responded, “It hurts.” At 7:20 a.m. I was tired and discouraged but we were starting to see the head. Coleen had me reach down and touch my baby, which was incredible! It gave me a burst of energy to know that we were that close to the end. At this point Bronce was holding my right leg and Coleen was holding my left – Bronce used his free hand to text our family updates between contractions.

By this time the nurses had switched shifts (shift change was at 7am). Barbara and some of the other nurses on the floor refused to leave until they saw our baby born, so they clocked out and stayed in the room to cheer us on. Eventually the room was full… Bronce and Coleen, Dr S and his nurse, Barbara and two or three nurses from the previous shift, the nurses that were on shift now (the delivery and baby nurses), plus the NICU staff that was soon to arrive. There were easily 15 people in the room observing my labor and I didn’t even care! It’s such a strange feeling to have your inhibitions leave the room when something more important is going on!

Finally at 7:50 a.m. Dr. S came in to give me a Pudendal block. This might have been the most painful part of the whole process. The idea is that by blocking the pain in my perineum, the “pushing” part wouldn’t be as bad because I wouldn’t feel the stretching or tearing. However, we’d waited so long before he did the block that he almost wasn’t able to get it in. He had to check and see if he could feel the right nerves (um… PAIN!!!!) and when he realized he could, he warned me it would be that kind of painful as he put the block in. I did some deep breathing and he got started. Good lord, it hurt so bad. I made it through and gasped for breath when he was done, only to hear him say “Okay! Got the first one.” I’m pretty sure I yelled at this point, and possibly yelled right at him. First one?! As in… there was another? He humorously replied “God made us symmetrical! There are two nerves.” Gah… okay. So he got the second block in place and… well… I honestly don’t know if it made a difference. I don’t recall that part of my anatomy causing me any problems for the rest of the delivery, but there was so much going on it’s hard to tell.

About twenty minutes later (2 hrs into pushing!) at 8:10 a.m. he offered to use the vacuum extractor to get the baby out. He thought it might take me 30 – 60 minutes longer without the vacuum. By this point I was exhausted and ready for any assistance (short of a c-section or something that dramatic) that could be offered to speed up the delivery. I turned to Coleen and she said, “Yes” since I was so tired and had been working so long. Later she told me she regretted making that decision for me and not talking me through my options, but I’m incredibly grateful she said that. I really needed her to make a decision for me at that time, and it was awesome that she just quickly told me what to do. Bronce and I were both relieved! They got the vacuum applied at 8:20 a.m. – it’s not at all what we thought it would be. First off, it’s not a machine as the name implies… it’s a manual suction cup that the doctor engages with his hand and sucks on the top of the baby’s head. It allows him to gently pull on the back of the skull to get the kiddo out. They gave me local anesthesia in the perinea tissue. Dr. S said it is only the skin that is holding this baby back, and he cut an episiotomy. As much as I didn’t want that to happen, I’m glad we did it because things happened so much faster! I began calling out and praying, “Please God, let the baby come out with this contraction!” Coleen leaned over and quietly reminded me that God was helping me.

With me pushing and him pulling, our baby was born at 8:28 a.m. on a cold and clear Winter Sunday. When she came out they set her right on my chest, possibly the most surreal moment of my life! (In the picture below, that’s my nurse Barbara over my shoulder)


Bronce cut the cord. I asked, “What is it?” fully expecting it would be a boy. Dr. Schoutko said, “It’s a girl!” and put her on my chest. I was shocked and had them check again to be sure. Everyone was laughing – we’d been calling the baby “Graham” for the last few hours and instead we had an Eleanor! The picture below displays my shock the second he said “Girl”:


Within the next few minutes as we absorbed this shocking information, Bronce and I both responded with different “practical” responses… I said, “All I brought was boy stuff.” Bronce quietly exclaimed “I’m going to have to pay for a wedding!”

I only got to hold her on my chest for a few minutes – because we’d used the vacuum to extract her, the NICU team was in place to check her out (Since most vacuum-assisted births are due to distress, it’s procedure for the team to be there and they had to see her first.) Bronce followed her as they checked her out – meanwhile the placenta was removed at 8:32 a.m. and they gave me Pitocin in my IV to help my uterus contract. Eleanor was 7 lb. 6 oz. and 20” long. She had lots of hair and long fingers and toes.




Bronce, with Eleanor’s footprint on his shirt:


I had a 2nd degree tear of the perineum. While Dr. S was stitching me up, Bronce was over at the warmer, looking at Eleanor. Her APGAR scores were 8 at one minute and 9 at 5 minutes. At 8:43 a.m. I was holding her again and she was making sweet little baby noises.

Here’s a picture of me, Eleanor, and our nurse Barbara.


At 8:50 a.m. Dr. S asked to hold her while the nurses were putting my bed back together and cleaning me up. He quietly prayed a blessing over her.

Eleanor15 Eleanor16

I tried to nurse Eleanor at 9:00 a.m. she didn’t do well on the right at all, but did finally nurse a little on the left breast.



I got some Fentanyl 25 mg in my IV (which totally knocked me out – I felt dizzy for quite a while and wished I’d not had that medicine given – it’s amazing how much it affected me post-labor compared to barely feeling the meds during labor due to the adrenaline rush!) and some ice to my bottom. Bronce looked at Eleanor at one point and said, “Hey Precious, you’re so beautiful.” – I hear him call her this a lot, he’s totally smitten with her!



Her blood sugar was 49 (anything above 45 is good). I spent some time texting close friends to let them know our great news, as the medicine allowed me to rest and a little time passed. Eleanor18

Here’s a picture of Eleanor and me with Coleen – the most amazing doula ever!!


Bronce brought my parents back at 10:00 a.m. They’re going by Grandee and Papa – and they were so excited to check out their newest granddaughter.





After they left Bronce’s parents and sister, Lauren, came in. They were all thrilled with this new family member. Bronce’s dad gave Eleanor the Pediatrician’s once-over (she passed).





The nurses let us settle in the delivery room for a little while longer until we felt ready to move to the Mother/Baby Wing.  Around 11:45am we packed up the room and made the journey! Here we go…


Was That A Contraction?

(I drafted this post Saturday late afternoon with no idea that these pains were about to turn into full-force contractions! I’ll detail the experience more in my entries about the actual delivery of Eleanor Marie, but here’s how I was feeling as we went into the evening that would change our lives!)

Every clock in our house is set differently. How do I know this? I’ve been timing contractions. Our wall clock, my computer, the iTouch, my cell phone, and my watch all are displaying a different time at this second. Granted, they’re all close… but when counting the time between contractions, 6 minutes and 8 minutes makes a big difference!

So yes, I have been having contractions.

One of the strange things you hear over and over again while you’re pregnant is “When you have your first real contraction, you’ll know it.” The first time I heard this it stopped me in my tracks – I mean, why wouldn’t I know it? But then you start hearing about false labor (which really isn’t false), Braxton Hicks, and all these other things your body will go through in the final weeks and you realize that you might be likely to assume some random cramp is a contraction when really it’s… well, gas pain. (Let’s not talk about that, mkay?)

So I’ve been feeling tightening of my uterus for a while now… kinda like a bear hug. Now that I have more serious contractions to compare, I can be sure that sensation was only Braxton Hicks. In the past few days I’ve started having the real thing so I thought I’d keep track of the progress to be able to look back.

Thursday, Jan 13

Late Thursday night (around 11pm) I began having contractions. It was the first time I didn’t think “hmm, that’s uncomfortable” and I instead responded with “Woah. Yeah, that’s something more serious.” At the time I wasn’t sure if it was really a contraction, but in looking back I think they were. The timing ranged from 8-12 minutes between each. I was able to start trying to sleep around 12:30am and they had died down by 1am so I was able to sleep the rest of the night. As I got up each hour to pee (part of the fun of 3rd trimester!), I was uncomfortable and had some tension, but was fine.

Friday, Jan 14

I spent my last day at work feeling minor contractions most of the day but able to walk around and work through them with only a few stopping me in my tracks. Friday night was another story… I got home from my last day at work and within an hour I began noticing some more severe contractions occurring. Around 6pm I began tracking them (the den is littered with pieces of paper with my chicken scratch times written down in columns!) and they were consistently 8 minutes apart until I went to bed around midnight. I spent most of the night wandering around the house, walking up and down the stairs, swaying on an exercise ball, and moving my hips around to get more comfortable. I spoke with my doula around 10pm and she suggested I get some sleep in case we were headed to the hospital soon. I rested on the couch for a few hours then we went to bed and shortly after midnight I was able to start sleeping between the contractions. Eventually I just fell asleep for the night and was only interrupted for my usual breaks.

Saturday, Jan 15

This morning as I got out of bed Bronce commented “I bet you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus.” Yeah, that about nails it! My hip sockets are really sore after all the pressure and pain last night. I still felt a lot of the same pressure this morning for a while but around 11am I noticed the pains were no longer just dull and bothersome but were getting more rhythmic. I’ve been keeping track of the time off and on today and they’re fairly consistently coming in 6 minutes apart (lasting about 45-55 seconds each). The severity isn’t really increasing either, so I don’t think I’m making much progress or that something is going to happen tonight… just praying that these pains are serving a purpose and that my cervix is opening/softening to make the eventual labor easier!

(Little did I know it was real… and about to get much more intense! I think I finished this post around 4:30 or 5 pm and they got incredibly more powerful around 7:30. Amazing!)

Final Thoughts

(I wrote this post Friday night and began labor Saturday morning! Our little Eleanor Marie was born Sunday morning at 8:28am. I’m glad I wrote this post and got these thoughts down before she arrived – it makes me teary to think about how much I loved this little life before she was born and to feel the way my heart is so full now that I get to hold her in my arms.)

It’s Friday night, the 14th. Today was my last day of work before my maternity leave starts Tuesday (we’re off Monday for MLK day). I’m beginning to feel some fairly serious and regular contractions and it’s beginning to settle in that we might be having this baby soon… like really, really soon. Last night I started having pains I thought might be the real thing. They continued sporadically over the last 24 hours and have settled in for sure for the last two and a half. About 8 minutes apart – not too exhausting, but still very present.

It occurs to me as I realize this baby may be out of my stomach and in my arms soon… I have loved this pregnancy. It’s been such an exhilarating experience to feel a baby growing and moving and kicking inside of me. There are really no words for how special it is. I have friends who have known this feeling many times over and friends who would give anything to know what it’s like. Even as I sit here deeply breathing my way through contractions, I can tell you it’s an amazing thing. I read a few times recently that once the baby is out I will have a hard time remembering what it felt like to have held that life inside me, and that’s sad to me. These 9 months have been wonderful (really, I’ve had a fantastic pregnancy in so many ways!) and it’s strange to think that this will be a fog of a memory soon.

I’ve steadily grown more uncomfortable over the last few months, but in the meantime I’ve also grown more excited and enjoyed more secret smiles as I’ve felt the tiny limbs pressing into my sides. I’m at a loss to explain what it’s meant to me to know that God has given me the capacity to grow a body in me… a body that will grow up to be my child and have a personality and know me. It’s a blessing. But to know that this little one was nurtured physically by me for so long is a miracle in itself. I just can’t wait to squeeze the little feet that have been kicking me – to kiss the forehead that has been pressing in my pelvis for these weeks – to check out those little fingernails that have been tickling my bladder for so long.

As the contractions grow stronger I know that I’m about to enter into the hardest part of this journey. We’ve stuck to our guns and are headed toward labor with the intent of having a natural birth. I’ve already spoken to my doula tonight – she’s a wonderfully godly and encouraging woman who had some positive things to say as I let her know of our timing tonight. I’m anxious about what the next 24 (or even 48?) hours will look like but I know with her and Bronce around I’ve got a great support team.

39 weeks! Wow…

Today I’m 39 weeks pregnant. That’s incredible to me… how have we made it this far on the journey? It totally blows my mind.

This morning I received news that a dear friend delivered her baby today (congrats Adam, Jennifer, and baby Luke!). She was due the 17th (the day before me) but due to some health issues they delivered via scheduled c-section early. I’m so excited for them… and soooo jealous in many ways! I’m sitting here imagining them holding little Luke and I just wish I could have my own child in my arms and hear the newborn cry. I’m so excited about what the next few weeks hold – I know I should be waiting patiently and taking advantage of every day I have left but I’m just ready to get to squeeze the little toes that keep kicking my ribs.

Part of the reason I’m so anxious is that I’m suffering from cabin feever. Knoxville got hit by a HUGE snowstorm Sunday night and it’s cancelled school for 2 days. The roads really are bad out there – yesterday we were completely snowed in. Today I could probably get out, but Bronce understandably doesn’t want me trying. We may go out this evening together but until then I feel like the walls are closing in on me. I’ve done laundry for the baby… laundry for me… made a mess of the kitchen cooking myself a big breakfast (guess I could clean that up)… and I’ve taken care of the household bills for next week. I’m not sure what else I can get a jump on for the baby so I’m now browsing the web and watching some shows I taped to the DVR over the last week. Lay-Zee Day. ForTheBlog Bronce and I took some pictures last week. These will be the LAST preggo pics you see of me. Last week a coworker commented “Oh, I see you’re finally getting that round-faced pregnancy look!” I’m not sure how this was supposed to be helpful or a compliment, but it definitely means you won’t be seeing my face on this blog until I no longer can be described that way. What is it with coworkers making weird comments about my pregnancy weight? Some are incredibly thoughtful. Others… just… wow.

My appointment at the OB was cancelled yesterday due to the weather and rescheduled for Thursday. I’m excited to find out what the status is of this baby… is he on the move or holding fast in place? The movements aren’t as sharp and sudden as they used to be. It’s almost like she stretches out her feet and hands and just puuuuuushes on my belly for a few minutes. Lots of little feet poking out the right side of my belly – and if I push back with my fingertips they’ll retract or slide more to the side. I love it! I can’t wait to get to play with those sweet little feet any day now!


I can’t remember if we’ve shared the baby names on here or not… We went back and forth so much this year… Boy names we loved include Ethan, Jeremiah, Jude, Bronce Jr., Beckett, and countless others. At first the only name I was sure of was the girl name Evelyn. As I got more pregnant I just wasn’t feeling it and we went all over the place with Olivia and Elliott. Finally though, we’ve decided on…

Graham Edwin –or- Eleanor Marie

Both the first names have that classic familiar quality – though neither is overused today (and hopefully won’t be in the next few years) so we think we’ll be able to avoid having the poor kid go by Graham R. or Eleanor R. as they get lost in the mix of the other school kids. The middle names are a nod to family – Bronce’s family has a tradition of giving children middle initials of “E” (primarily with the boys) so we would use Edwin, which is my father-in-law’s middle name. Marie is the first name of my only living grandparent – it’s also the middle name Jim and Jewel used for their daughter Kathryn, but we really love it and I don’t think that’s too weird.

Not sure if next week’s blog will be titled “40-weeks” or “Baby!”… excited to find out!

37 weeks

Hah! For the last ten minutes the baby has been doing this:

hiccup… hiccup… hiccup… kick!kick!kick! hiccup… hiccup… hiccup… kick!kick!kick! turn!move!twist around…

It’s only funny because I know how frustrated I get at the hiccups and I can imagine this kid is like “What the HECK is going on?!” It’s usually an early morning or late night thing (during the night a few days ago the rhythm of the baby’s hiccups actually woke Bronce while I slept soundly! That’s one crazy kid!) and this is the first time I’ve felt hiccups during the day. So cute!

We had a doctor’s appointment this morning and he confirmed that the hiccups are a good sign – strengthening the baby’s diaphragm for good respiration when we finally get to hear those lungs test out the world! *Note to self – don’t google “hiccups in utero” – people like to write freaky stuff that makes expectant moms wig out.

I can hardly believe we’re this close to the “end”… of course, we don’t really how how close we are… but either way we’re nearing the finish line of this journey. Or, at least, nearing the starting line of another, much more long-term one!

I haven’t had any contractions yet (that I know of!) and as of my appointment last Tuesday I’m still not dilated at all. He’ll check again next week to see if there’s been any progress. Bronce and I go back and forth on whether or not we’re super anxious for the baby to get here or happy that she’s just nesting in there and keeping me up at night with kicks, not cries.

I’m hoping that I’ll have some contractions and get all “oh, this feels weird” and then meander over to the hospital after a while to find out I’m dilated 7 centimeters. Twenty minutes of pushing, and it’s BABY! That’s reasonable, right? I mean, I hear that actually happens to people… why can’t I be one of those people?

Anyway, it’s been a fun journey and I feel like we’re in a weird state of anxiety… Will it be….today?! Will it be…tomorrow?! Will it be…three more weeks?!

My sweet sister-in-law brought three huge crates of baby stuff this week – one for boys 0-3 months, one for girls 0-3 months, and one of various baby goods (small toys, rings, those pads for under a sleeping/changing baby to collect spills so we don’t have to change the sheets every time, hats and shoes, etc.). I looked through two of them last night and pulled out all the stuff we’ll use so I’m doing laundry right now to have a big stack of boy stuff and a big stack of girl stuff that can be put away in the closet when we know which set we’ll need! We’re so grateful for all the baby stuff our friends and family have loaned us. It’s such a relief to know we have months and months of clothes ready for our little one!

We’ve got the bags packed… I installed the car seat today (sheesh – thought I’d put myself into labor just trying to get the dang base installed – that’s not easy work!)… We’ve attended the classes, hired the doula, written the birth plan, and read the books…

So. Here we are. 3 weeks out (or maybe just two days… or maybe more than 4 weeks… who knows!) and waiting anxiously! I’ll keep you posted…

Side Table

  I knew I needed a good side table for beside the glider in the nursery. One day after work last Spring I dropped in the Goodwill at my school and stumbled across this cute little table for $9.99. Oh, did I mention it was a 50% off day? Yep, I bought this little beauty for $4.99 plus tax. 🙂

Okay… where on earth did my before pictures go? Weird. I know I took some. I was able to crop this blurry one out of another picture so I guess this will have to do.


It was rickety and the stain was peeling off all over the place. It’s an ooooold table. If it weren’t in such bad shape, I might have hesitated before I painted over the thing.

Once again I used my Zinsser Cover Stain primer to cover the whole thing and used Behr Ultra paint in a flat soft white color. After the final coat of paint (about 3 total) I gave it two coats of Polycrylic (a sealer like polyurethane that’s water-based and doesn’t yellow over white paint).

Here it is in the garage (propped up on a bucket so I could get the underside easier).


And the finished product all set up in the nursery! Love it!!!


Not bad for a $5 table and some paint, huh?

Baby Shower – November 13

Bronce’s sister, Lauren, and sister-in-law, Melissa, were kind enough to interrupt their busy schedules to plan a beautiful baby shower for me. Bronce’s mom and Aunt Deborah were out of town when the shower took place a few weeks before (thrown by my mom and friends) and they were disappointed they couldn’t be a part of it.

Lauren and Melissa (with the help of Linda and Deborah) planned a Saturday afternoon event at the Apple Cake Tearoom, a charming location in West Knoxville. The guest list consisted mostly of Linda’s friends from church and some extended family.



We spent a few hours together catching up, laughing, and enjoying each others’ company in the upstairs party room. It was a sweet afternoon to be together.


This Noah’s Ark bank is adorable! I love it and it has a special place on the shelf above my glider. It’s engraved with an “R.”


Holding my neice, Nonavea.


Bronce’s cousin, Aubrey, his Aunt Donna, and Aubrey’s daughter Alicia.


Lauren, Melissa, me and Aunt Deborah.


Me and Mom.


Me and Linda, my mother-in-law.


Linda, me, Mamaw, and my mom, outside after the shower.


Me with the thoughtful hostesses!



Baby Shower – November 10

Bronce and I were shocked when we found out the employees at his office were throwing us a baby shower. I was thrilled they planned it around my schedule on a day when I could take an extended lunch to jet across town and be there for all of it. They had lunch, drinks, and a yummy cake set up in the conference room and it was fun to spend time with the folks who were able to pop in and out of the room during their own lunch break.


One of the teams at the office pooled together to get us a big basket of goodies – it was full of tons of baby needs – hangers, bibs, blankets, lotions, medicines, and all sorts of odds and ends that will come in handy.


  This was the only baby shower Bronce attended and it was great to see him getting excited about the gifts for our little one.


Many of the employees dropped by for a few minutes to get some food and hang out with us.




The girls laughed when I made them STOP cutting the cake so I could get a picture of it first! It was beautiful (and yummy). Check out the giant flower in the foreground with a plastic baby on it – like a cabbage patch kid!


And a picture of Bronce and me… and the little baby. 🙂


Baby Dresser/Changing Table Transformation!

The room we’re using as a nursery is our smallest bedroom. It has the best arrangement of doors and windows for a crib, dresser, and glider. We figure when the baby gets older and ready for a big boy/girl room, we’ll move the child to a different bedroom to continue using this one as a nursery.

In adjusting to the small space, we really needed to have some multi-tasking furniture. So… we decided to find a dresser that could double as a changing table. From talking to friends and family with babies, it seems that the changing table gets the most use during the late night changes and is less of a benefit during the day when the couch/bed/floor is closer and easier to use for diaper changes. Why invest in a piece of furniture for such a singular use? Didn’t make sense for us.

So… off to Craigslist! I found this “beauty” about 20 miles away for $75. Here’s the original Craigslist picture.


We were thrilled to get there and see that this thing was solid wood with beautiful dove-tailed drawers. Perfect! And $75? Yes!!

It sat in the garage for a while (okay, for months) before I started working on it. First step… remove the old, dated hardware and fill the holes. This took a few coats and a lot of sanding.


When it was all set, I began priming. Our favorite primer is Zinssers Cover Stain – no sanding required! It sticks like glue to any surface and levels out beautifully so you get a smooth finish everytime.


Again, I wore my fancy mask for this project since I was preggo (about 30 weeks at this point).


(In that picture I’m actually painting a side table… more about that table later).


One coat of primer done! Check out that mirror, too. That might be my favorite part. It’s easily 3’x4’ – worth the $75 cost on its own. So beautiful! It attaches to the back on those brackets you can just barely see sticking up from the back of the dresser.


Soooo many coats of paint. When I was done with the white paint (we used Behr Ultra paint in a flat finish – I had the paint tinted a soft white color), we applied a layer of Polycrylic. I did a bunch of research on the right sealer to use and decided on this product. Polycrylic is a water-based clearcoat (Polyurethane is oil-based) and a little less durable than its oil-based cousin. However, the Polycrylic product is supposed to cover better over white and yellow less. Over time Polyurethane will yellow on white paint and I really wanted to avoid this. I applied it with a small foam roller but after each drawer/dresser side was covered I used a fine paintbrush to run over the top coat and smooth out any bubbles.

I also ordered some cute orange ceramic knobs online to replace the old, dated hardware that came with the dresser. Here it is in the nursery!


And a close up so you can see the adorable shiny knobs. 🙂