I’ve always had a type A personality. Maybe it’s from being the oldest of six girls or playing competitive sports growing up, but I like being in control. With anything in life, I like to do things myself. I just know then that it’s done my way, and even if I make a mistake, well then I can’t blame anyone else but myself. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not. Obviously, not all things I have control of, like driving this new boat for instance. You better believe I want to learn to drive it, so I can take it out myself, but for now, Lanier’s the expert and he’s patiently teaching me. I do play on teams and work on teams, I don’t take control in those situations. I guess what I mean is what I know, in my home, I like to be in control.
I’m explaining all of this, so I can get to today’s topic. I had a reader ask how Lanier and I managed the nightshifts with so many young babies, and another asked how I managed going into labor with young children, and who watched them while I was at the hospital and another wanted to know more about my birth stories. I’ll get to all of those on today’s post.
On labor, I never went into labor. I was induced with each of my four sweet babies. I was able to choose my induction date, and my parents and inlaws were able to mark those dates off on their calendars too. This was pretty early on in my pregnancy. Whatever toddlers I had at the time, I would take them to their house the day before my induction, and they’d switch off and give them to the other ones while I was at the hospital. Once we were home, two days after the delivery, we would have one more night at home alone with the baby, but that next day, you better believe I wanted my other babies back. My parents and inlaws were super helpful and always asked if they could stay and help or take the children longer, but I just wanted things back to our new normal as soon as possible. No one ever stayed with us after the babies were born. Again the control thing. I just wanted to do things myself. I knew I was going to have to eventually anyway, so why not start as soon as possible.
So why was I induced? Wheeler was past her due date by a few days, so my doctor told me I was a good candidate for induction. She was due on the 15th and I had her on the 18th. I’m so thankful I delivered her as soon as I did, and didn’t wait it out. She was 9lbs. If I’d waited any longer, she would’ve been even bigger. My first labor was a breeze. We checked in at 7:30am. He hooked me up with pitocin, broke my water a few hours later, then the epidural, and I couldn’t even feel when I had to push. They had to watch the monitor and tell me when my contractions were peaking so that I knew when to push. Yeah, it was that easy. My labor only took 6-7 hours. I remember telling my doctor soon after I delivered that I could do that all over again.
With all of my pregnancies, I loved being pregnant. I never had morning sickness. Now you can see why I had so many. Ha. With Effie, things were a little different. Things didn’t go as smoothly as they did with Wheeler’s labor. I was still induced again, she was 9lbs, but labor was a lot faster this time. Much faster than even expected. I showed no dilation when my doctor would check me before any of my induction dates, so I’d pretty much go from 1-10cm in a matter of about thirty minutes. The pitocin would cause contractions to start slowly for a few hours, but the trick was guessing when I’d hit 10cm and was ready to push. It always happened fast, like 1-10cm in a matter of 30 minutes?? My doctor would always warn the nurses, but it was never enough time. With Effie, I thought my epidural had worn off, I was in excruciating ‘natural childbirth’ pain. Major props to all of you who had babies via natural birth. Even my mom did with the first four, but the last two she had epidurals. Thankfully with Effie, the anesthesiologist was able to run in and give me a bolus and within my next contraction, I couldn’t feel anything again.
Logan’s was the worst delivery. I know it’s all relative, and it could’ve been way worse, but I owe everything to my awesome doctor. I had the same doctor deliver all four of my babies. So why was his delivery so bad? When I was induced and hooked up to the pitocin and epidural, everything was going smoothly, until I was fully dilated and started going into labor. I could feel everything. And I mean everything. Don’t want to go into too much detail here, but my epidural had clearly worn off. I thought the anesthesiologist would pop in and give me another bolus, like he did with Effie, but apparently it was too late. I had to deliver him naturally. After trying to push the first time, I was in so much pain, I was like, um no, I’ll get a c-section now, thank you very much. My doctor looked at me and told me if I did everything he told me to do, that he could get him out in two pushes. I trusted him and agreed. Logan (hallelujah) was out in just two pushes. There’s no way I could’ve endured much more.
By Vaughn’s delivery, we knew what was coming. The nurses did too. The whole process was quick, but this time, the anesthesiologist was on-call and ready to administer anything extra if needed. All in all, all of my births were memorable, and were obviously totally worth it! My recuperation time became easier after each baby. With Wheeler, I had no idea how long the discomfort would last. It only lasted about 2-3 weeks, but in the moment, I never knew there’d be an end in sight. By Vaughn’s delivery on October 23rd, I was at Wheeler’s Halloween Parade and trick-or-treating a week later.
The lovely (or dreaded) night shifts. My children have always been really good sleepers. They still are. Lanier, not so much. Yes, at one point, we had four children under 4 1/2 years, but we made it work. Sometimes I still tell my friends it was honestly easier then, than it is now. Their needs were simple, and it was easy to appease them. Even in the mornings, we could have lazy mornings, just hanging around the house. Now it’s school, afternoon activities, homework, etc. As far as how we shared the shifts, we didn’t. As I mentioned before, Lanier’s never been a good sleeper, yet I can put my head on my pillow and I’m out. And trust me, this makes it so much worse for people who have a hard time falling asleep. With that being said, I wasn’t about to ask Lanier to help me with the nighttime shifts. Just knowing it’d take him that much longer to fall back asleep and I could get up and feed them and go back to bed, I was all over it. Plus, he had to go in to work, and I’d stopped teaching after Wheeler was born, so I was fine taking all the feedings. I actually miss those days a lot. As I had more babies, I always enjoyed having some alone time with just the baby, feeding them in peace. I loved having that quiet time with each of them. It’s not to say Lanier wouldn’t have helped, had I asked him, but back to my need for control, I did all the nightly feedings and diaper changes and I was completely okay with it.
So when did I finally give up control, when I knew I just couldn’t do it all anymore? This year. When we lived in Charlotte, before moving to Charleston in February 2015, Lanier commuted for a year to Charleston. He would leave most Mondays and come back Fridays. I had so many friends ask how I did it with four, and I always told them the same, our routine was pretty much the same. Aside from the fact that we clearly missed Lanier’s presence during the week, since I was used to making their meals, taking them to school, carpool, etc. that part didn’t change. And honestly, once you get on a schedule like that, it’s easier than if the schedule changes. I know I had my parents and inlaws in town, which were perks for immediate (free) babysitters, but I wasn’t working, so I rarely used them to babysit during the day. I was happy having my babies all the time. I mean they still napped, so it wasn’t like I didn’t have breaks. It wasn’t baby central chaos all the time. The times I did use my parents and inlaws for assistance was usually on field trip days, when I wanted to be the chaperone.
Even when we first moved here, I still wanted that control, the need to do it all. Wheeler was in kindergarten, but since we moved here in February, it was too hard getting the other three into a preschool here that late in the school year, so I just kept them at home with me until the fall. We loved having that time to explore our new city! And at that time, I didn’t have enough patience to want to teach Lanier how I did things. It was just easier to do things myself…until it wasn’t. Trust me, I don’t feel defeated at all saying I gave up control. Now Lanier helps with making meals (he did this before too, he just helps more often now – and he’s a REALLY good cook!), does the dishes, packs the kids lunches, it’s an even balance. Something I never thought I’d ever want. And all credit to Lanier, he would’ve been happy to do this ages ago, I just never let him. I could do it all, in my stubborn head I knew how to do it better. And now it’s like it all just works and flows. It all fits. Don’t get me wrong, he may load the dishwasher the wrong way, or accidentally wash a pull-up or crayon from time to time, but I’ve learned never to complain about the subtleties. I’m happy to take what I can get. I was happy having control, but now that I’ve given some up, the end result has been amazing. So very blessed!
I had fun going through old photos to find these gems. Hope you enjoyed them. It all goes by so fast! Can’t believe only 8 short years ago, we didn’t know life without our four beautiful miracles. Thankful for them every single day!
For tips on bringing home baby #2, head back to this post from a few years ago.
Hope y’all have a great start to your week!
11 thoughts on “How I Do It: Birth Stories, Night Shifts & Giving Up Control”
I love all of your posts and looking forward to reading them daily, but this one was so touching. Thanks so much for sharing!
Aw! Thanks! For as public as I am, I tend to stay private on certain things, but decided to share this. So glad you enjoyed the post!
I feel like this post was perfect timing for me! I’m two weeks away from my due date with baby number two. My two will be Irish twins from anywhere from 10 days to 3 days. I’ve always wanted to know how you managed with all of yours so close together! Thanks for this post. I love hearing about it and seeing pictures of your beautiful children so little!
Thanks, Meredith! You’ll do awesome! They’ll be the best of friends!
Loved reading this and seeing all of these pictures of your kiddos as babies, so cute!
Your children are beautiful and it’s evident that you enjoy having them around. Great mama!
Julie, you are too kind! Thank you so much for your kind words!
Thanks so much for sharing!! We have four kiddos 6 to 9 months. I’m blessed to be able to stay at home with them as well, and reading about your control touched home. I have such a hard time asking or letting someone else help, but our littlest has allowed me to ease up a bit. (Something about that number 4?). I’m grateful my husband willingly steps in as well, just have to let him do it ?
I can totally relate to the “something about that number 4” Ha! And yes, you get it, husbands want to help, you just have to let them…without all the critiquing…no matter how hard you want to. 😉
Love this! Thank you, Ashley! You are such a excellent writer.
and yes, I was missing your posts by email…. lazy me!
Thanks, Jennifer! Still working on it! I hate it that it’s not working right now!
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