Sunday, February 21, 2010

Playing Catch Up

Okay, I have been trying to write a blog entry to catch everyone up on happenings since we had the baby, (I originally sat down to write this "catch up" blog on February 21st. I'm totally making progress!) As a compromise to a full disclosure blog entry of everything that's been happening (which would be just as likely as winning the lottery), I am going to list some important things about the baby and also some important events from the past 5 weeks.

  • Addison has a head FULL of hair. We still can't believe it, especially since I was the baldest baby on the planet. (Mama, I should have let you buy her the baby brush. I'm sorry, and you were right.)
  • She does this weird thing where she'll close her right eye and open her left, which has led us to affectionately call her "Our Little Popeye"
  • Ringo hasn't freaked out on us! He's still sleeping in the bed with us every night, and will come running to check things out when the baby has one of her serious crying fits. He's even helped oversee a few diaper changes. He did, however, give her knee a curious little kitty bap with his paw about two weeks ago. Let's just say he won't be doing that again if he knows what's good for him and where his yummies come from.
  • Aaron discovered her favorite song so far, a dance mix track by this guy BT, called "Loving You More." He has also discovered that she doesn't seem to like Indian music, which bummed him out.
  • She makes this funny noise that's kind of a stuttering sigh that sounds, as Aaron described it, "Like when you're trying to squeeze the last of the mustard out of the bottle."
  • This kid makes the cutest little smush faces when she's kind of asleep, especially right after I've finished nursing her, and she puts her hands up near her face in these little Glamour Shot poses like she's about to be photographed. Or sometimes like she's lying in state at her funeral. Morbid, but kind of dramatically funny.
  • Aaron is much better at calming Addison down than I am. In the hospital, he could just talk to her and she would stop crying. Maybe it's the bass in his voice.
  • She lost her umbilical cord stump thing really early - it was gone by her 2 am feeding the Sunday after we brought her home.
  • Her first overnight visit was to meet her Mimi (Aaron's mom) and Grammy (my mom) and she did really well, up until the whole sleeping at night thing. Three hours of wailing baby and Mama and Nana STILL wanted us to stay longer. Crazy grandmas...
  • She handles baths really, really well - thank you sweet baby Jesus!
  • I still haven't cut her fingernails! I've been trying to build up the courage while keeping her hands covered as much as possible. And don't worry, she doesn't have talons - I've nibbled the ones that needed nibbling down.
  • Auntie M got the privilege of being Addison's first babysitter (shocker!) and is watching her on the afternoons I have class. I don't know who loves it more - me, for not having to worry about the baby while I'm away, Melissa because she gets some QT with the baby, or Addison because Melissa apparently has an infinitely snuggly bosom that she will camp out on for hours.
  • This kid has some serious mood swings - Tuesday I was having an emotional meltdown because she would NOT let me put her down, and this was on top of the fact that we still can't get her to sleep in her co-sleeper at night (she will sleep in three places - in her car seat, in her swing, or in someone's arms) so I had literally been holding her for over 24 hours. Then Wednesday, she was amazing and I barely held her all day! She even slept in her co-sleeper a little this morning! I fully expect that this good behavior won't continue. I'm no fool.
  • I can't stop kissing her! Right now, she's asleep in her sling (which I'm wearing in a perfectly safe manner, don't let the news reports freak you out!) and I have to lean down every few minutes and kiss her smushy little face. It's too irresistible! And she's in her sling because she woke up from her swing nap screaming bloody murder for no apparent reason and it took me 15 minutes to calm her down by holding her. See, I told you I knew the good behavior wouldn't continue.
  • She'll go for about 4 hours between her feedings at night, so I'm getting a good 6 hours or so of sleep. Still nowhere near my ideal 9 - 10 hours, but that ship has sailed until this kid turns 18. At least.
  • So far, we haven't experienced any total meltdowns while we've been out and about - she's tolerated several restaurants, the mall, the downtown farmers' market and tons of trips to Publix, Target and Babies R Us.
  • She's started to smile! She smiled at Aaron a few times on Monday (his birthday!) and on Wednesday, she smiled at me. It's still pretty elusive, but we're positive it's not just gas. Hoping to see it continue a lot more soon.
  • Most importantly, she's absolutely GORGEOUS and we couldn't possibly be more in love with her. Even at 4 in the morning.

a picture of her from this morning in her cutie little elephant sleeper

Sunday, February 14, 2010

One Lucky Lady

Labor Story Part 2

Before continuing, please read disclaimers from Part 1 here.

Okay, so I checked my contraction timer on the iPhone, and I actually called Leslee at 6:00 (I know, because there’s a break in the contraction timing while I was on the phone) but this just shows that everything that came next happened super, super fast.

At this point, we had decided that we would go to the hospital and Leslee would meet us there. Aaron was showered, and started packing the car, and my contractions were about 3 minutes apart. By 6:20, I had stopped timing my contractions because they were a minute and a half apart. In 20 minutes, things had gone from me politely saying “Let’s go to the hospital just to check and see” to me, white-knuckled grip on the bathroom countertop, growling at Aaron, “We need to go to the hospital NOW!”

Our doctor had told me to come to the hospital when I could no longer talk through the pain of a contraction, which was about the point I had reached when I called Leslee. I had assumed that using that rule would give us plenty of time in the hospital, where we would spend hours with all the pacing and the breathing and the pain experiencing. Well, apparently my body decided that I should go through all of that in the span of about an hour.

By the time I was heading to the car, each contraction was making me pretty miserable, even worse when sitting down, so the car ride wasn’t much fun. To make matters worse, I had no idea how far along I was, and because I had only been in labor for what I thought was 5 hours tops, I thought that I had a long, long way to go. I also thought that since I was only 5 hours into labor, that I was only maybe into active labor, which meant my pain had yet to get as bad as it was going to be. The prospect of pain that was going to increase substantially AND continue for possibly another 24 hours seemed pretty unbearable. So unbearable, that I told Aaron that if I got to the hospital and I was only 3cm dilated, I was going to kill myself. Okay, so I was kidding about that, but I knew that if I hadn't progressed very far, I didn't think I'd be able to say no to the drugs.

We arrived at the hospital after breaking several traffic laws, and Aaron dropped me off at the front door to go park the car. We decided we would leave all of our things in the car in case they wound up sending us home. While Aaron parked the car, I held on for dear life to the entry door handle while I had another contraction. Then I had another contraction while we were in the elevator. Then another while we were at the check in desk. Then another waiting in the lobby. All in the span of maybe 5 minutes.

Sidenote: How frigging stupid ARE we??? My contractions were a minute and a half apart and we STILL thought, “Well, maybe this isn’t it. Surely we shouldn’t bring in our bags.” Na├»ve? In denial? I don’t know, but we obviously missed the writing on the wall.

I distinctly remember looking at the lobby TV, which was on the ABC local news. Marco Villareal was talking about something newsworthy (and probably butchering whatever the story was. Dude can’t read a teleprompter) and the clock on the TV said 6:44. There was a poor girl in the lobby who looked to be about 8 months pregnant, definitely not in labor, and waiting with her mother. After I had my lobby contraction (which included a lot of moaning while bending over and gripping the dining table in the lobby and rocking back and forth from foot to foot while Aaron rubbed my back and directed my breathing) I looked over at this poor girl - the look on her face was like she was willing her baby to just be sucked back up into her body so she wouldn’t have to go through childbirth! If I ever see her again, I’ll have to apologize.

After the lobby contraction, I went to the restroom because my contractions still made me feel like I needed to use the bathroom. Aaron waited outside the door in case anything crazy happened while I was in there. After a minute or two, the nurse came to wheel me back to triage, but I couldn’t get up from sitting on the toilet. Every time I tried to move, I would have another contraction that would freeze me in place. I was finally able to get up and leave the bathroom to be wheeled back to triage so they could check my progress.

Let me just tell you how much fun it is to try to change into a hospital gown during hard core labor contractions! Almost as fun as trying to lie still on a hospital bed while a nurse puts a hand up your privates and feels around checking for dilation. And as if the first time wasn’t fun enough, I had to be checked by a second nurse because Nurse Cervix Checker #1 was having some trouble. I quote, “I can’t find the edges of your cervix – all I feel is head.” I don’t know how I remember that, or how I remember that the second nurse had much smaller hands, because I was in so much pain. I think this was also the point where they told us she had a lot of hair, which was a TOTAL surprise. It was sometime during all the checking and writhing in pain that Leslee arrived in our triage area, just in time to hear the completely unexpected from Nurse Cervix Checker #2:

“Adrianne, you’re completely dilated. It’s time for you to have the baby.”

Um, excuse me? Whooza jigga what? In my mind, I was thinking there’s no way this is possible! I’ve only been in labor for 5 hours! (12 if you counted from the “weird” contraction I had the night before.) I’m supposed to be in labor for a long time! We have to do a lot more breathing, I’m supposed to get in the Jacuzzi tub, there’s tons of labor positions we haven’t used, and I haven’t even screamed at Aaron yet. What the hell is going on???

Even though I was in total disbelief, the nurses were adamant – I was so close they wouldn’t even let Aaron go to the car to get our camera. Thank goodness Leslee had brought her camera in with her! Apparently, my condition sent the labor floor into a frenzy. Leslee had no idea how far along I was when we talked on the phone, and at that point I had been pretty calm, so her husband, Dan, had come upstairs with her when he dropped her off to say hello to Aaron and I. He quickly decided to retreat when he heard the noises I was making outside of my triage room curtain (smart man!) but apparently while he was leaving, there were a lot of people running around, pulling charts and grabbing equipment to take to our labor room. I kind of wish I had seen all of the excitement. It sounded very much like an episode of ER....

A lot of what happened after that is a blur. I remember being on all fours on the hospital bed for awhile, which is when my water finally broke (See? I was completely dilated and my water still hadn’t broken – that isn’t always a sign of impending labor!) Aaron and Leslee were on my right, and there were a lot of nurses buzzing around. I asked them if I had to keep my gown on because in the position I was in, it wasn’t really serving much of a purpose. The rest of the time, I just labored in a bra, which was much more comfortable.

I remember when they told me that Erin was on her way, I was really, really relieved that she was the midwife on call and not Little Miss Membrane Stripper. When she got in the room, I exclaimed, “I’m so glad it’s you!!!” She had apparently heard the story from the other midwife, Kim, so she was relieved for my sake as well.

Before Erin got there, I was still just writhing around and having contractions every few minutes, but when she arrived, they let me start to push. Everyone says that pushing during childbirth basically feels like you’re pushing during a bowel movement, and I’d say that’s fairly accurate. However, it reaches a point where it turns into something different, something that feels a lot more serious, and it’s pretty damn scary. I finally got the hang of it when one of the nurses told me that I was doing a good job, but that I kept backing off right when the pushing was getting productive. She told me I had to “push past the fear” and that’s when it clicked and I felt like I knew what I was doing.

Of course, what I was doing was pretty damn hard, and I wasn’t even having to hold up my legs. During contractions, I would grab my thighs and pull them toward me to get leverage, but in the breaks between contractions, Leslee and the other nurse were holding my legs up for me. Aaron was kneeling on the floor, holding my hand and keeping me cool by wiping my head with a wet rag. I was lucky that I had pretty long breaks to rest between contractions and I felt pretty good, considering. During contractions and pushing, it was like I turned into a completely different person – I was working SO hard, and it was so tiring, and I was doing a lot of very loud, very angry groaning that later turned into screams. (After watching all of those baby delivery shows, I had told myself I wasn’t going to be a screamer. Yeah, right. And good luck to you if you think you won’t be, either.) But in between, I was pretty out of it, just laying with my head right by Aaron’s with my eyes closed.

At some point, they asked if I wanted to feel the head, and honestly, even if I had wanted to, I don’t think I could have maneuvered myself to get a hand down there. I did have them wheel over a mirror and I looked in it for a second, but it wasn’t an image I wanted to commit to memory, plus I was sort of busy with the leg grabbing and the pushing. Aaron said he felt bad for me because I would push so hard, and the head would appear, but when the contraction was over, it would just disappear again and it was like all the hard work was for nothing.

After pushing for awhile, I was getting pretty tired of it. I even asked Erin, “How many more pushes do I need? I need a number! I want this to be over, and I need to know how many more times I have to push.” She humored me and told me, “I think two more good pushes will do it!” Like she honestly had any idea and like I could even count to two at that point. But it made me feel better.

Finally, I had gotten sick of the entire thing, and I told myself, “I’m getting this head out the next push if it freakin’ kills me!” I know everyone says the shoulders are worse than the head, but in my mind, if I could just get the head out, I would be fine and it would all be over. One more big push, and I was able to get the head out, and after that the next thing I remember was her being completely out and it was as if the whole world changed. I felt totally great, totally excited and full of energy – God bless adrenaline! I couldn’t stop smiling! I kept saying, “I can’t believe I did it! I can’t believe I did it!”

And I still really can’t believe I did it!

Addison was born at 8:04 am. For all intensive purposes, I was in labor for only about 7 hours, and I was able to have the drug free delivery that we wanted. I only had to have a few stitches afterwards, and I didn’t even wind up having an IV put in. I had the easiest delivery EVER! Yeah, it was painful, but the pain was never unbearable. Pushing was the worst, but that only lasted maybe 45 minutes. Honestly, I’m the luckiest woman on the face of the earth.

I’m also fully aware that I’m the mom other moms hear about and want to punch in the face. I'm very, very careful about who I tell labor details to. Strangers get a two-sentence answer on how my labor went: "I was really lucky. It went pretty fast." When people hear I was at the hospital for under an hour and a half, I get a little afraid by the looks on their faces. Seriously, I made that mistake at my breastfeeding support group the other day when talking to a friend in mixed company. The room got pretty silent, and one girl looked like she would have killed me if she weren't in the middle of nursing. I won't make that mistake again.

Bottom line: I had a great pregnancy, an amazing delivery and now I have the cutest baby EVER! Besides the lack of sleep, I totally recommend this being a mom thing!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Didn't Know I Was in Labor

This entry will contain Part 1 of my birth story, but before I get started, there are two disclaimers:

Disclaimer #1: Birth is a messy process, and in this blog I will give a fairly detailed description of the process. If you think this is gross, I’m sorry. Feel free not to read it. Trust me – I’m leaving PLENTY of stuff out that you wouldn’t want to know about.

Disclaimer #2: Birth is not an “easy” process, and there are many, many women that struggle for many, many hours, or even days, when they deliver their babies. These women are superheroes and I am in no way in the same league with them. You’ll see why…..

Now on with the story! (oh, Disclaimer #3: this will be long. Thus the 2 parts.)

As loyal readers of my little blog know, I was convinced that Addison would not be early, and in fact, I thought she would be late. Our due date was Friday, February 5th, but Aaron was betting labor would start on Saturday, February 6th, and I thought the 8th. At work on Friday, I told my friends (who are also my co-workers) that there was no way this baby was coming any time soon. Hah!

Friday afternoon and evening, I was experiencing some leaking “down there” and spent hours trying to figure out if my water had broken or if I was just having bladder issues. This conundrum is pretty common, and all the pregnancy books and websites have a portion on “how to tell if your water has broken” because, contrary to what you see in the movies, your water won’t necessarily break all in a single, dramatic gush. However, after a phone call or two to our doula, Leslee, and watching the situation overnight, I figured out that the baby had probably dropped and was squishing my bladder and causing the problem.

This little incident was enough to give Aaron and I a reality check – this baby is coming! Obviously she wasn’t coming at that moment, but it made us realize that the labor and delivery that we had been preparing so rigorously for was quickly approaching. That left us in a really, really weird mood all weekend, feeling as if we were in a sort of limbo. Saturday evening, after basically sitting and staring at each other for over an hour, we decided to get out of the house and have dinner at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant.

Sunday, the purgatory continued, and in a sort of devil-may-care move, I decided we were having pizza for dinner (something we hadn’t done since I had been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes because of the high carb count.) While I was online ordering the pizza, I felt a little twinge, kind of like a cramp, in my lower abdomen, and noticed that I was simultaneously having one of the practice contractions I had been having off and on for a week or so. I told Aaron, “My Braxton Hicks contractions have changed. They used to just make my upper stomach really tight, but now I feel them a little bit lower, too, and it’s kind of crampy.” That evening we settled in and watched Kung Fu Hustle (a great movie, by the way) and I relished every single scrumptious bite of the two slices of pizza I was allowed to eat.

Um, yeah, pretty sure in hindsight that the "weird" Braxton Hicks contraction was my labor starting.

Sidebar: For those of you that don’t know, labor is broken up into three stages: the first stage is all of the contractions and dilating, second stage is the pushing, and the third stage is post-labor. The first stage is further broken up into early labor, active labor and transition. When you read all the information on labor, they tell you that early labor can last up to 24 hours and is the easiest. The active phase lasts for 4 to 5 hours and is when things start amping up in the pain area. The transition phase is the shortest, just a couple of hours, but it’s also the hardest. Our childbirth class teacher explained that this is when women start saying things like, “This is a really bad idea. I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” For first time mothers, labor is usually longer than for women who have done it before.

Now back to the story…

Around 1:30 Monday morning, I woke up having stomach cramps and felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I came back to bed, had some more cramps and headed back to the bathroom. Around 2:00, Aaron woke up wondering what was wrong. I explained to him what was going on, and we both assumed that I just had an upset stomach and that things would die down once everything was “worked out” so to speak. I mean, I had eaten Mexican food AND pizza in a 24 hour period. It seemed like a no-brainer.

But after an hour, I was still having the cramps. I decided to start timing them just to see if there was a pattern. I had downloaded an iPhone app months ago that kept kick counts and also was a contraction timer. The timer asked me if the pain was “mild, moderate or firm”, and I selected “mild” since I still just thought it was cramps. At this point, the cramps were about 10 minutes apart, but I still thought I was just experiencing digestive distress. When you take childbirth classes, they teach you all about the phases of labor and a lot of time is spent talking about pain and how to deal with it. Also, I’ve watched probably 100 episodes of A Baby Story on TLC, so I’ve seen many, many women in labor. They all seem like they’re in a lot of pain and basically want to die. I honestly never had any idea that I wouldn’t know I was in labor because I thought the pain would be really intense. The only people that are in labor and don’t know it are those insane women on I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant who don’t think they’re in labor because….they don’t know they’re pregnant! Except for me.

Until about 3:00, I just felt like I had a crampy stomach. I continued to lie in bed, and Aaron rubbed my back and helped me with breathing while playing some relaxing music, specifically Jonathan Goldman’s Chakra Chants (so relaxing that this music is basically the audio equivalent of taking a roofie.) I continued to time my cramps occasionally, but didn’t see a pattern, so I still didn’t think it was labor. Aaron and I joked that if we were timing my poop, we were going to both feel like idiots. We had spent awhile debating over whether my pains were labor, and if they were, what we should do. We decided that Aaron would take me to my doctor’s appointment that morning at 8:30 because if I really was in labor, I shouldn’t be driving. Plus, it would be pointless for him to go to work if that was the case.

At some point, I felt like things were getting more serious and started to believe I was actually in labor. I started timing what I would now term “contractions” and by 5:30, they were about 3.5 minutes apart and I had started classifying them as “moderate” on the contraction timer. Even though I thought we still had awhile to go (and so did Aaron), I called Leslee and told her my status. We had originally planned to stay at home as long as possible, but I was starting to wonder exactly how far along I was and how far I was dilated, so I decided that I wanted all of us to go to the hospital so I could get checked. Aaron had already taken a shower, so he started to pack all of our bags in the car “just in case” we wound up staying at the hospital.

This was at 5:45, and little did I know how quickly things were about to amp up…….

Bring the Pain!

Before I discuss the actual details of our birth experience, I feel like I should tell you about our Birth Plan. Part of our preparations with our doula, Leslee, was making a birth plan, which is basically an outline of our wishes for the type of birth we would have. It’s made up of all kinds of questions about what you do want and don’t want to happen during your labor and delivery, and covers everything from your pain medicine preference to who you’d like in the room to the lighting you’d like. Basically, it’s a Type A planner’s dream!

Some people think birth plans are a waste of time and only set up unrealistic expectations and eventual disappointment because it is highly unlikely that you will have the exact labor that you want. I thought it was really helpful because it made me think about and research things that I never would have thought about beforehand.

Now, when I first got pregnant, my initial thought was that I would definitely be getting an epidural. I mean, they were invented for a reason, and I was TERRIFIED at the idea of the pain of labor. I just saw no reason to be in pain if it wasn’t necessary. And to be completely honest, I had, on occasion, mocked others and their self-righteous attitudes surrounding their choice for natural childbirth. You know the type – people who brag about not using drugs and look down their noses with complete disdain at those who resorted to pain meds as if they had just committed some sort of crime. (Obviously this isn’t everyl natural child-birther, but there are plenty around.)

I don’t know when I started to change my mind, but I did a LOT of reading about childbirth during my pregnancy, and by the time Aaron and I took our childbirth classes (which were extremely non-biased on the subject of pain meds) we had decided that drug-free was the way to go, and that we actually didn’t want ANY medical intervention if necessary (no Pitocin to promote contractions, no Cervadil to ripen my cervix, no breaking my water – no interventions at all.) The reason I decided this was a little fear driven – I absolutely did NOT want to end up having a c-section, and everything I had read said it is a slippery slope from medical interventions to a c-section. Drugs = monitoring, which equals lying in the bed and not being able to move around and help the labor progress naturally. The drugs can also lead to increased blood pressure, slowed labor and all sorts of other problems.

In order to keep from having medical interventions, we planned to stay at home as long as possible during my labor, staying comfortable, eating light snacks and basically staying off of the hospital’s radar for as long as possible so as to prevent their meddling. Also, I had chosen and obstetric practice that is very natural childbirth friendly (even though that wasn’t my plan at the time) and has 4 nurse midwives on staff, which I thought would be even better since midwives are typically less likely to push you to use medication to speed the process along.

Now, just because this was the decision we had made doesn’t mean I had any confidence in my ability to live up to the plan. I had no idea what the pain of labor would be like or how long it would last, and honestly, I’m not in very good shape. I thought it would be like showing up to a marathon without training for it. Around Week 38, I was really starting to trip about my readiness for the event, even though Leslee and Aaron kept telling me they thought I was going to do great. I finally had a tearful breakdown with Aaron and told him that I really was worried I wouldn’t be able to go through labor without the drugs and that I would disappoint him. Sweet husband that he is, he gave me the best motivational speech and told me that I’m a hard worker, that I always kick it into gear when the time comes, and he knew that I had the strength to be able to stay with our plan if I put my mind to it.

So that was the plan – despite everything I had thought before I got pregnant, I had decided and we were ready to have an all natural labor!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What to Expect: Week 40

I’m sure everyone knows why Week 40's blog entry is late – the unexpected happened last week, and we had baby Addison 4 days early! I’ve been trying to get it together to blog about it, and I promise I will as soon as possible. It’s just so hard when there’s sweet little baby cheeks to suck on!

Addison Frances

born February 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

7 lbs, 20 1/4" long