The Story of Us

Dear Alex,

This begins Chapter 1 in the Story of Us… I suppose everything leading up til now was just the prologue. And boy, it is quite the story to tell! The day after I last wrote, I had my weekly checkup with the OB-GYN… unfortunately my blood pressure was elevated and there was protein in my urine, so they ordered more tests (one of which required me to collect all my pee in a jug for 24 hours, yuck). The midwife had warned us that, depending on the results of the test, we may need to go ahead & induce labor early to make sure you were safe. Dad & I spent most of the week anxiously awaiting the results of those tests. On Thursday afternoon around 2pm, the midwife called and said “Pack your bags, you’re going to have a baby!” Dad & I got to the hospital as soon as we could. Needless to say we were both terribly excited and ridiculously scared at the same time.

Once we got settled in at the hospital, the midwife came to check on me and go over options for induction. Apparently I was already dilated 1cm, 40% effaced and -2 station… meaning that my body had already started to prepare a bit for labor but still had a long way to go. Further discussions with the midwife and we came up with a plan– I would go on a couple medications to efface the cervix overnight, then they would induce contractions using pitocin around noon the next day. Grandma and Nanna arrived later that evening and we filled them in on the game plan; Unfortunately the hospital only allowed us to have 2 visitors for the duration of our stay due to the widespread flu epidemic going on right now, so Papa and Grump were not allowed to be in the hospital with us at all. I think this drove them absolutely crazy!

The midwife came back the next morning around 11:30am to see what progress I had made overnight. I had gone to 2cm dilated, 65% effaced and still -1 station. However, she also noted that my bag of water was bulging out. She said that was great news because we could go ahead and break my water to get things moving along more quickly. They did so (it wasn’t a big gush like I expected, more of a gradual trickle) and told me to go take a shower and try nipple stimulation to get the contractions going. Within 5 minutes of being in the shower, a whole lot of things started happening at once: the contractions began to hit like a ton of bricks, fluid and bloody show leaked out at increasing rates, and my body began emptying all the contents of its digestive system… both ways. It was quite the miserable experience! Poor Dad had to clean my vomit up and do the best he could to help me through the contractions while I was more or less confined to the bathroom during this point. Exteme nausea continued to be a problem for me throughout the day actually… I ended up receiving medication for it a three different points along the way, and this was the first.

Eventually I was able to get out and labor a bit more freely, the contractions continued to intensify and it became clear early on that I was going to have a lot of “back labor” — intense pain in the back that accompanies the pains you typically get in the front. This is likely because you were not facing the correct way in utero (in your defense, you thought you had more time to flip!), so rather than facing my back you were facing “sunny side up.” I continued to labor this way for a couple of hours– Dad was really great about coaching me through all the pain management techniques we learned in Lamaze class, particularly the positions that were supposed to help with back labor. However, between the back labor and the fact that I was thrown into full-blown contractions without any of the gradual buildup/preparation you’d get in a non-induced labor… the pain became too much for me. I knew that if I was even considering an epidural at this point, I’d be begging for one later… and after a lot of talk and tears with the dad and labor nurse (who was very sweet and supportive the entire time), I decided to go ahead and get the epidural. I’d lost track of time at this point, but this was somewhere around 3-4pm.

At the time, I felt like such a failure for not being able to stick with my original plan for a “natural” birth, but when you think about it that plan had really gone out the window from the moment those test results came back. So in hindsight, I’m really glad I got the medicine I needed to have a positive birth experience. Once the epidural was administered I was able to rest for awhile. Unfortunately it began to wear off a few hours later, and they had to come give me a “booster.” The grandmas and Dad were joking about how often I was pushing the button for another dose (which only lets you get a dose every 15 minutes, no matter how many times you push it. LOL). Around this same time they also began the pitocin to increase amount & intensity of the contractions. I labored this way for a few more hours, and around 10pm my midwife came to check on me. She brought the ultrasound machine with her to check your position, which confirmed that you were sunny side up. She suggested that I try laying on my stomach for awhile to see if that would get to you flip, and althought it made me extremely nauseous (nausea med application #2 of the day) it did seem to help a bit because when she came to check again it was time to push!

I pushed for what I estimate to be about an hour & a half to 2 hours total. Things were slowly progressing, but not as quickly as they would’ve been because of you being sunny side up. Towards the end the OB-GYN came in and said that your heart rate was dropping with every push, and it was clear that you were not tolerating the birth very well. She told me she could give me another 10-15 minutes to try and push naturally, but after that we would need to consider other optoins. I did so and was unable to get you out in the time. The OB-GYN said that they could either use a vacuum extractor to birth you vaginally, or we could get you out via c-section. The idea of the vacuum extractor scares me to death… I have heard a lot of horror stories about them. So after quickly talking it over with Dad, we decided the safest course for everyone was to move forward with the c-section. They began getting everything ready for that– this was somewhere around midnight.

I should mention that just before the pushing started, I’d begun to notice the epidural wearing off again. I decided not to have them “boost” it again because I wanted to be able to feel the pushing in order to make it as effective as possible. I now REALLY regretted that decision! It didn’t take them long to get everything else ready for the c-section, but the anesthesiologist was tied up with another patient and it took him quite some time to come and get me numb for the procedure. During this time I was in the most excruciating pain of my life… I had gone most of the afternoon without feeling the pitocin-induced contractions (and they’d been upping the pitocin dose all afternoon), and now I was feeling everything. That 30 minutes or however long it took to get the anesthesiologist there were hands down the toughest of the whole thing.

The anesthesioloigst was actually a really cool guy though. He talked me through everything from start to finish– not just numbing me up but was right next to me in the OR and was attentive to my every need the entire time. Because I had already pushed you so far down the birth canal, they had quite a time getting you out. Dad of course was with me through all of this (although by now I was pretty out of it and didn’t say much to him, we just held hands and communicated via squeezes), he saw everything and said later that it was pretty gruesome! I’ll leave it at that for your sake, haha. Anyway, the procedure itself went fairly quickly but made me EXTREMELY nauseous (nausea med application #3), probably because they had to push & pull around so much in there to get you out.

And the next thing I knew, you were out & I heard you crying! From that moment on, none of the craziness I’d gone through since Thursday mattered. You were here and you were healthy! I immediately lost it and was bawling on the operating table, watching them weigh and check you. Dad was crying too. I think we can both agree that it was the happiest moment of our lives. I didn’t really get to see much of you in the OR, they held you up briefly and I saw you had dark hair but that was it. It wasn’t until we got back to the labor room and the anesthesia began to wear off that I was really able to meet you for the first time:

And from that moment all I was completely smitten. Dad is too. We love you so much! And so you were born at 12:51am on Saturday, January 19th 2013 at exactly 39 weeks gestation, weighing 8 lbs 2.6 oz and were 20 inches long. You have a head full of brown hair (although not quite as dark as Dad’s) and light eyes. We are unsure what color your eyes will eventually turn out to be, most babies have light gray eyes like yours and develop their true color after a few months. We spent the next few days recovering in the hospital (I had to stay longer than is typical because of the c-section). Here we are the next day, after they moved us from the labor room to the post-partum room:

As I write this in the wee hours of the morning, you are just over 4 days old. We’ve had you home for about a day & a half. So far being a mom has been the most challenging, exhausting, and amazing thing I’ve ever done. That is enough writing for one day, but I will be sure to share more with you about these first few weeks of your life as soon as I can… needless to say I am pretty busy these days! I will say this: even now absolutely NOTHING has gone according to “plan,” but you are here, you are healthy, and you are the most perfect & amazing little baby I’ve ever seen (although I might be biased)… so I wouldn’t have things any other way. 🙂 We and your grandparents have taken eons of pictures over the last few days, but here are some of my favorites:

Here you are just a few hours after you were born! Dad had you all swaddled up & cozy.

I took this one as you were laying in my arms just after an early morning feeding. You look so cute & content! Already you are so very handsome, I think you’re going to be a major heartbreaker someday. 🙂

Proud Daddy, just after you were born!

Snuggles with Grandma 🙂

Daddy, Grandma (and Nanna in the background… she hates getting her pic taken) changing your diaper not long after you were circumcised. Clearly a tough task!

Just after you came home, meeting Papa for the first time!

Daddy introducing you to Grump 🙂

Baby meets Corgi! He is VERY interested in you, haha

This pacifier was a gift from Auntie Christin… the grandparents got a huge kick out of it & have dubbed it “The Luigi” LOL

All my love,
Mom

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One last chat with Dad

Dear Alex,

I can’t believe how close we are to the end of the pregnancy… you are over 38 weeks along now, the size of a pumpkin, with 12 days to go until your due date! As I said last week, at this point you really could come any time. We are more than ready, and of course with each day that passes I find myself more & more often questioning various pains/twinges I feel– “Could this be an early sign of labor?” “Is today the day?” 😉 And I have started feeling more and more of those sorts of pains that indicate my body is getting ready for labor… most recently menstrual-like cramps that, according to my midwife, indicate that the cervix is lengthening & softening. But honestly I have a feeling that you will not be early… babies in our families tend to come late, and statistically most first-time moms give birth at 41 weeks, so I think you’re most likely going to be at least a little bit late. And that is okay, since more time in-utero generally makes for a healthier baby…. and certainly a bigger baby:

Belly Pic 38 Weeks 1-14-13

I am large and in-charge these days! Haha. And I will say that I’m glad I took those bare belly pictures when I did… stretch marks are definitely a bit of an issue these days, despite all the cocoa butter. But I’m okay with it, since I know they will fade with time.

Dad is starting to get a little anxious too, I think (although I doubt he’d admit to it!). Whenever I do anything out of the ordinary, from “getting weird looks on my face” to being out of bed for too long during the night, he has started going “Are you okay?!” Poor guy. Haha. Anyway, I thought that now might be a good time for another quick interview with Dad to cap off this last trimester. Here goes!

1. What has third trimester been like from your perspective?

Dad says from his perspective it hasn’t really been that different… just a lot of waiting! However, he said that it’s been very hard to watch me become increasingly uncomfortable and not really be able to do anything about it. I’ll add here, though, that Dad has been great about catering to my every need– rubbing my back for me at night, helping me get around, etc.

2. What was the most interesting thing you learned in the infant care & child birth classes?

From the infant care class, Dad says he enjoyed doing all the practice exercises & is proud to say that he is a “natural pro swaddler.” LOL. This is very true– I was absolutely terrible at swaddling, but Dad picked it up right away! In the child birth class, Dad was surprised to learn about the effects an epidural can have on mom & baby, and how limiting it can be to the labor process.

3. Do you think Alex will be early, on time, or late? Any guesses on what he’ll look like?

Dad thinks you will be right on time because “we are punctual people!” Hahaha. I should add that Nana has an interesting theory to support this guess also– apparently the next full moon is right on your due date, and babies are supposedly more likely to be born on full moons. 😉 As for what you’ll look like, Dad said “he’ll be handsome, just like me.” I think Dad is right on that one!

4. How do you feel about the pregnancy coming to an end– are you getting nervous about labor/birth, etc.?

As usual, Dad claims to be Joe Cool and says that he is not at all anxious or nervous about the labor & birth process. He says that he’s really excited to move past pregnancy and into our new lives as parents. And he added (jokingly of course), that he’s tired of hearing my complaints. Haha, I’d love for him to be this pregnant for a few days and see what his tune is then! 😛

5. If you could say anything to Alex right now, what would it be?

“Hurry up!” 😀 (Agreed!)

All my love,
Mom (& Dad!)

WOA! (Waiting On Alex!)

Dear Alex,

You are a little over 37 weeks along now– officially “full term,” meaning that although your due date is still 19 days away, you could make your grand arrival at any time now. My sources say you are the size of a “winter melon” … no clue what that is though! Someone posted that acronym– WOA– on my Facebook page, and that is pretty much what we’re up to these days… just waiting on Alex! 🙂 Dad & I also made it a point to get out and go on a little date night this weekend, since we probably won’t get a chance to do that sort of thing for awhile after you’re born. It was fun and I’m proud to say that I made it through an entire 3 hour movie (The Hobbit) without having to run to the restroom! Haha.

Physically I’m feeling as good as can be expected, I suppose. For the most part I am always pretty tired and sleep as much as I can, but do get random spurts of energy from time to time. Regardless, I’ve been making it a point to get in as much exercise as I can but am keeping it low key with things like prenatal yoga, pilates, and walking. I think you have dropped lower into my pelvis over the past week or so, because I feel a LOT more pressure in my hips & lower abdomen these days. “Dropping” is a sign that labor is coming up soon, although it could mean a matter of weeks or days. On the other hand, I still feel you wedge yourself under my ribs sometimes, so maybe it’s just that you’re getting big & running out of room! You be the judge:

Belly Pic 37 weeks 1-7-13

I’ve been doing a bunch of things my midwife suggested to supposedly help my body prepare for labor. Who knows if any of this stuff will actually help, but I figure it’s worth a shot since it won’t do any harm either–

  • Drinking raspberry leaf tea: this is supposed to strengthen the uterus and, when the time comes, make contractions more productive
  • Taking evening primrose oil supplements: this is supposed to help soften the cervix
  • Perineal massage: this is supposed to stretch the vaginal/perineal areas to help avoid tearing and/or an episiotomy. Honestly I tried this a couple times & gave up on it… not sure how other pregnant women are able to do this around the big bellies! As someone in my birth month group said– “I can barely wipe my own ass, how am I supposed to be able to do perineal massage?” So true. LMAO!
  • Kegel exercises: also supposed to tone the perineal area in the hopes of avoiding tearing/episiotomy. Much easier to do, and actually I’ve been doing those throughout the entire pregnancy.

Today I had my weekly check-up with the mid-wife… it was sort of a mixed bag. The good news:  I actually lost a pound this week (woohoo!), your heartbeat was fine, Group B Strep test I took last week came back negative, and my fundal height (uterus/belly size) is measuring right on schedule. The bad news: my blood pressure was slightly elevated, and when I told the midwife I’d started getting headaches rather frequently over the last week & hadn’t felt you moving as often the last couple days, she asked me to go in as soon as possible for an ultrasound. She assured me that everything was probably fine, but she wanted to just double-check to be on the safe side & ensure all is well with you. So Dad & I went this afternoon for that, and thankfully you are doing just fine! They checked heartbeat, cord blood flow, fluid levels, movement, etc. and the doctor said everything looked great.  The ultrasound indicated that you are currently about 7 lbs 11 oz… since the average baby gains about 1/2 lb. per week at this point, that puts you on track to be about 9 lbs. when you’re born! Such a big boy already. 🙂 Unfortunately this creepy/blurry profile shot was all we got to bring home with us, but we’ll be seeing your face in person soon enough!

Ultrasound 37wks 1-7-13

Anyway, last week I also went to visit my friend Shannon… you might remember that she was also pregnant with her first child (I posted a picture awhile back of us together at her baby shower). She had her little girl, Autumn, a few weeks ago! I stopped by to take her some food and meet the little one. It was a lot of fun spending time with them, as well as educational to hear Shannon’s take on new motherhood. But it definitely made me that much more excited/impatient to meet you! Haha. I know it will be here soon enough… in the mean time, Dad & I are anxiously in WOA mode. 😉

All my love,
Mom

Nesting for New Year’s

Dear Alex,

Happy New Year! More importantly for you- happy BIRTH YEAR… birth month actually! It’s hard to believe that we’re finally at that point; you are due this month and the doctor says you could arrive at any moment now really. Or maybe you’ll be late and end up being a February baby. We’ll soon find out! 😀 You are over 36 weeks along, with just 25 days to go until your due date. Still growing like a weed in there:

Belly pic 36 weeks 12-31-12

I had a check-up with the doctor yesterday, and all went really well. The only things different about this appointment were that I had to get tested for something called “Group B Strep” which, if I have it, just means that I’ll need to take some penicillin during labor to ensure that you don’t get it. I also had to fill out and sign several consent forms for the birth since, as I mentioned earlier, the doctor says labor could begin at any time now. They like to have all of that on file ahead of time so that we don’t have to deal with it at the hospital. Anyway, from here on out I have to go in for check-ups on a weekly basis.

I’m a bit late writing this week because we had some friends over for New Year’s Eve last night, so after work I was busy getting ready for that. It was a lot of fun though, very low-key which is perfect for me at this point. It was pretty hard staying up until midnight though! Haha, what a lame old lady I am. 😉

New Year’s was my personal deadline for having everything ready for you, and I’m proud to say Dad & I met that goal! This past weekend I went into an even higher gear of “super baby prep mode” (as I’ve been calling it… others call it “nesting” = an instinct moms-to-be get shortly before their babies are born to clean/organize/prepare for baby), and between Dad & I we got so much done– installed the car seat, finished packing the hospital bags (which are also in the car), put together the pack & play and stroller, pre-washed and put away all your clothes/towels/blankets, and started organizing your closet. We even cleaned out the garage, which had gotten so bad that you couldn’t walk into it… ended up getting rid of a lot of junk that had accumulated, and now it’s back to being a normal functioning room. This will be helpful after you’re born and we start getting visitors again.

So after all that hard work, Dad & I plan to enjoy our New Year’s Day by taking a lazy day just for us… we’re going to stay in bed & watch movies all day. I suppose it’s good to enjoy things like this now, while we still can. 😉 And with that– back to bed!

All my love,
Mom