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Introducing Baby Number 4

Hey! It’s been a minute!

newborn baby in adult's hands

Our new little man!

I have been very slow on posting for the last few months.

Like dropped off the face of the earth slow. So let me catch you up and explain where I’ve been.

I announced back here awhile ago that we were expecting a baby boy.

(Warning- if you are triggered by childbirth experience or have a traumatic story, you may want to skip this post. While everything is fine and we have a happy, healthy baby, the pregnancy and delivery were scary and include preterm labor and placental abruption.)

After the stillbirth of one of our twins, we were cautiously optimistic. I felt good and was so happy to be pregnant. For the first time, my husband was home with me during the entire pregnancy and he was key in letting me rest with our other two very busy kids, one of whom is in the throws of the terrible two’s.

Everything was going great. Until it wasn’t.

In late May, I started to feel terrible. I was only midway through the second trimester then, but I was already bigger than I was at 32 weeks with the twins. I started having contractions and was tired and dizzy all the time.

a pregnant woman and her husband covered in rainbow paint

My fabulously talented friend Kate Amstutz took our maternity photos. And when we were planning, she wanted to know if I was good doing them so early (I was about 24 weeks along). I laughed and said, “Trust me! I look like I am full term!”

But I knew my body doesn’t do pregnancy well so we chalked it up to that and the fact that I am older this time and have 2 kids to keep up with.

My ob was watching me very closely with my history of loss and complications and I had tons of ultrasounds.

At 28 weeks, an ultrasound showed too much fluid. My high risk doctors said it was nothing too worry about and the baby looked fine. But I worried anyway.

And I worried even more when shortly afterwards- on my birthday of all days- I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

So started the two months of absolute pregnancy hell.

And I do mean hell. Not only was I already absolutely huge- stretched beyond my capacity due to the extreme amount of fluid- but I was having constant contractions. Enough so that I was in labor and delivery 3 times in one week for monitoring. Antibiotics and terbutaline didn’t stop them. On my third visit, I was admitted for preterm labor.

This is where I absolutely lost my mind. I was only 30 weeks and a few days along. When I was pregnant with the twins, I got admitted for preterm labor around the same time and that pregnancy did not end well. Was history repeating itself?

The doctor who admitted couldn’t figure out why I was having contractions. And why they were every 3 minutes and intense. He poured over my records and finally saw at that earlier ultrasound I had mild polyhydramnios, with an amniotic fluid value around 28. Normal amniotic fluid indexes are between 5 and 25.

He immediately did an ultrasound and found that my amniotic fluid had increased all the way up to 42. That’s like having 6 plus liters of soda in your uterus. The weight was immense.

A little girl painting a rainbow on a pregnant woman's belly

I look full term but I’m not! And to think I carried for another 12 weeks after this!

“The good news is,” the doctor reassured me, “We know why you’re having contractions so we can treat you.”

Of course, this is after the bad news of finding out that I would need to be on magnesium sulfate again and would be in the hospital for at least 2 nights. If you have never been on magnesium sulfate, thank your stars. I’ve been given it three times and each time it was awful. It makes you feel like you are burning from the inside out and it relaxes all your muscles so it is hard to sit up, see, anything.

While I was admitted for the magnesium, they put me on a drug to reduce my fluid and gave me my steroid shots in case baby did come early.

I spent the weekend miserable, but in the care of wonderful nurses who made the time pass quickly with musings about bedazzling and Schitt’s Creek and dry humor.

When I got sent home, my fluid was down to 29 again. I lost over 10 pounds of water weight over the course of the weekend I was admitted and my stomach was less painfully distended.

But- I had strict orders: take it easy, stay off my feet, or else I risked breaking my water and having the baby way too early. And beyond the risk of having the baby too soon, polyhydramnios carries a risk that the umbilical cord could prolapse if I went into labor.

Amazing news for a loss mom.

I spent the next 6 weeks contracting regularly and having twice weekly nonstress tests and once weekly amniotic fluid checks plus regular ob appointments and appointments with my high risk doctors and nutritionists to manage the gestational diabetes. Plus on top of all that, I was in labor and delivery again for preterm labor, regular contractions, and bleeding. All and all I was averaging 4-5 doctor visits per week and a few overnight stays.

Staying pregnant was my full time job.

As the summer crept by and I got further along, the level of misery increased to a new high. I’ve carried twins. I’ve gained 60 pounds from preeclampsia. This was so much worse. As the fluid got reaccumulated and the baby grew, my stomach skin started separate. The fluid was getting caught in layers of my skin, causing these painful raised areas. It was pooling in my legs. I couldn’t breathe if I laid down or stood up. The heartburn was brutal. 

Plus, through it all- constant contractions every 3 to 5 minutes for weeks.

The day he was born, I was just 4 days away from my scheduled c section. I had a regular nonstress test that morning and everything was fine. Of course, I was having contractions but that was my normal so no one really thought too much of it.

I went home and hung out with my kids, laying on the couch. Before dinner, the contractions picked up and started lasting a minute and a half each. They were right on top of each other. 

We put the kids to bed and I was getting ready to get into the tub when I felt a huge gush.

I though my water had broken but when I looked down, it looked like a horror movie.

I started screaming and my husband rushed in, looked at the situation, immediately called his parents and started hustling me out the door.

We got to the hospital in record time, and I was rushed for an emergency c section thanks to a placental abruption. There was chaos. Nurses and doctors on each arm, trying to get ivs started.

Newborn baby

Cheeks for days!

Fortunately, despite the situation being scary, our son was born less than an hour after getting to the hospital and my overall experience was the best of my three deliveries.

One of my good friends is a nurse at the hospital I delivered at and met us at the hospital entrance and stayed with me the whole time. She is a force of calm and even though I was terrified that things weren’t going to end well, she never let anything other than confidence that the baby and I were going to be all right show even when I was being checked out upon getting there and was so horrified at the amount of blood while I was changing that I screamed from the bathroom and the ob flung open the door showing the mess to everyone in the room. 

And the ob herself was calm and collected. She just looked at the horror show in the bathroom and back at me and said, “Ok, we’re having a baby tonight.”

And that was that. She left and called in my favorite ob to come assist her. 

When I was wheeled back for my surgery, we didn’t know if I would be totally put out. The anesthesiologist was pulling for it. I wanted to stay awake so I could see my son and my husband could be present. He missed the birth of one of our twins and I didn’t want that to happen.

We compromised. The anesthesiologist was willing to let me try staying awake but was ready to knock me out if needed. And as soon as that happened, I was being held up by my friend, another one of my favorite nurses and my favorite doctor. The amount of care in the room was palpable. It felt more like a hug and support and less like they were trying to get me not to move for the spinal. During that moment, I was sure everything would be ok and everyone in the room would do everything in their power to make sure that the baby and I stayed ok. This was a feeling I did not have at all during my c section with the twins.

Thankfully, my feeling was right and despite it being an emergent c section, once my son was out, it was peaceful. My husband was able to stay in the room for the rest of the procedure, holding my son where I could see him. 

He did end up needing a little time in the nicu, but it was short. Only about 36 hours, which was nothing compared to my older son’s month long stay. Plus, this nicu was more relaxed and let us be more involved. I never needed to ask permission to hold him and never felt like people were breathing over my shoulder to watch us as we tried to bond with our son.

We all ended up being able to come home together and have been adjusting happily to our new addition.

A little girl snuggling a newborn

She loves her baby brother!

The older kids are smitten. 3 kids on a blue blanket

And really so are we.

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Denise Smart

Saturday 23rd of April 2022

Thank you so much for sharing your story!!! I came to your blog after reading a story on Facebook that you had written!!! I am the mother of 3 beautiful children, I have a set of boy/girl twins who were born 20 years ago this past January, they were born 12 weeks premature due to restrictive growth of my daughter, my son suffered a grade 4 brain bleed 8 days after birth, on day 12 my daughter had an infection that she was completely unable to fight, at 12 days old my daughter passed away!! My son preserved and ended up coming home prior to due date!!! His road has not been easy he has cerebral palsy and he has always needed a wheelchair for his mobility!!! My third child a little girl was born 4 weeks shy of my twins 6th birthday!!! I want to let you know that though my grief is different today, things have always been hard watching each and every milestone of my sons knowing that his twin sister should also be here going through it also, my situation also has me grieving for the fact that my son due to his cerebral palsy has not had a quote “normal’” path either!!! My youngest daughter gets lost in the shuffle a lot due to her brothers needs!!! Many of the things you listed in the article I read hit home for me, people just say the cruelest things, in an effort to try and be comforting!!!


Denise Smart, mother of 3


Wednesday 27th of April 2022

Hi Denise. Thank you for your comment and reading my story. I understand what you mean about grief changing and grieving for the different path. Hugs to you and your 3 children xx

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