Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The first week

The first week included many things:


A lot of staring at our girl's beautiful face.

Saying goodbye to this amazing view from the hospital window.

A first ride home, and the realization that she's too little for her car seat.  And her diapers - first thing we did when we got home?  Went back out for a pack of diapers, since the cloths are too big.  Who knew?


Hanging out in the swing.


First bath.  Which...


...didn't exactly go over so well.

She lost her belly button.

And we've been so fortunate to be able to just be home together, to enjoy this precious time as a family of five.  

We are so lucky to have this little girl in our lives!  One week in, she is by far the easiest of my children.  We'll see if that continues, but I have a hunch (and I accept full responsibility for the jinx I may be placing upon myself) that this sweet one is going to be a little less of a handful than we've experienced recently.  It's amazing how quickly and completely she has worked her way into our hearts.    


Already it feels like she was always meant to be part of our family.  We couldn't love you any more, Miss Olivia Joy!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Good kids make great siblings

We weren't in the hospital for very long - less than 48 hours door to door, in fact; a complete record on my part - but by far the highlight of the stay was watching the kiddos get to meet their new baby sister.


And, excited?  Doesn't even begin to cover it.

These two, my little sweethearts.  Oh my.  They love babies.  It might be best to let the pictures do the talking.











Those darling littles.  How can two people so new to this life themselves be so full of compassion, gentleness and abundant love?  Truly, the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.  They were so happy, so happy to meet their baby.

Logan kept saying over and over again, "it's okay, Baby," kissing her head and patting her gently.  He was as sweet and tender as could be, even without considering the fact that he's not yet two.  And Leah, oh my dear heart.


That child wanted so badly to make Livvy feel better.  She couldn't take her crying, and kept whispering and shushing her, trying to soothe her.  I make so many mistakes as a mommy, but I must be doing something right that I can hear myself in Leah's concern for her tiny new baby sister.


She took her job as big sister very seriously, and sat in the rocking chair to sing her baby the ABC's so she would go to sleep... and go to sleep she did.  Leah was so very proud of herself, it was heart warming to watch.  I'm pretty sure she would have carried the baby out of the hospital and insisted on taking her home if it had been in her power, she was very intent on proving that she could care for Liv all by herself. 


I can't tell you how humbling it is to be the mommy of these wonderful little people.  They make my heart grow three sizes and bust out of that little measuring box.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

The third time's the charm

It sounds so much like playing favorites that I almost hate to say it, but there really is no competition:  Miss Olivia wins the prize for best labor and delivery.  Hands down, no contest.  Give the lady a prize.  


The story starts, interestingly enough, with me not wanting to have to be induced.  Induction was on the agenda for Tuesday, and I spent Sunday evening coming to grips with the fact that it would probably be necessary.  I was feeling particularly sentimental, and spent a long time watching my two big ones sleep.  Their little eyes fluttered in sleep, and so did my heart; I said an extra long prayer thanking God for making me their mommy.  How did I know that an induction be okay?  Because whatever I'd been through to get there, being the mom of those two beautiful children makes it worth it.  I knew it would be that way again.

I fell asleep Sunday night feeling overwhelmed with gratitude.  

And then, as I had done nearly every night for the past two weeks, I woke up about 2:30 a.m. having contractions.  I'd like to tell you that by now I was used to them and just rolled over and went back to sleep, but I don't think I'll ever be that girl.  Instead, I tossed and turned and kept a mental "eye" on it.

About 5 a.m. the contractions did something they hadn't done before: they got stronger.  A lot stronger, and noticeably closer together.  

When the kids got up at 6, I did as well.  I ate and moved around, but still no change on the contraction front which was unusual; typically, they disappeared when I got up and moved around.  By 7:30, I was in a zone I was unfamiliar with: contractions 4-5 minutes apart and strong enough that I'd hesitantly concluded - at the very least - that we were not going to the zoo as we'd planned.  What else, I wasn't yet sure, but I was starting to suspect enough that I called my mom to tell her just to pack her bag and be on alert.

By 8:30, with contractions still coming 4-5 minutes apart and now at about a 6 on the pain scale, my water broke.  My mom was on her way to watch the kids, and I was able to stay on top of the contractions really well.  I was shooting to leave for the hospital about noon; trying to balance laboring at home with the noise and distraction of having the kids around.  Casey was bustling around, trying to finish up the checklist we'd come up with the night before of things to do before the induction.  Around 11, he took the kids to the grocery store to grab a few last minute items when my contractions took a tough turn into the 8 range and were coming every 3 minutes.  I lasted maybe 30 minutes before I had to call Casey to hurry back - it was time to go to the hospital!

The car ride was pretty miserable.  We're not terribly close, but Casey made the drive in about 35 minutes.  We arrived at the hospital at about 12:15 or 12:30, and they started right away getting me ready to go.  The most overwhelming part of that whole day was the next hour or two, because they wanted to draw blood and start an IV but they were having a horrible time doing it.  I think they stuck me four or five different times.  Meanwhile, I was contracting every 3-4 minutes and they were getting tougher to handle all the time.  All I could think about was getting in the bath, but I didn't want to do it unless I was dilated far enough.  

They finally checked me around 1:00.  I'd been dilated to 4 for the past 10 days, not to mention contracting for several hours every night and in actual labor since 2:30 a.m. (almost 12 hours at this point), so I was very seriously hoping I'd be dilated to a 7 so I could get in the bath without any worries.  I'd decided that if I was at least a 6, I was getting in the bath anyway even though it was a little early, just so I could cope with those heavy contractions.  When they checked me?

STILL A FOUR.

Ugh.

After everything.  After all those stupid contractions, after all the laboring my body had been doing that day.  After my water had already broken, so there was nothing to give me a hormonal boost.  I was still a freaking four.  My mind spun out another awful labor... I was already nearly 12 hours in, and I knew I'd never survive another 12 hours with contractions the way they were.  I'd already done the miserable, long, exhausting labor.  No way was I doing another one.

So, even though I had just finished giving the nursing staff my all-natural birthing plan - please, don't discuss pain meds with me, please don't discuss medical alternatives in front of me, etc, etc - I completely threw it all out the window and made a sudden and drastic executive decision: bring on the epidural.  

And here's the thing: it was the single best decision I made all day.    

Yes, this is how you look when you get an epidural part way through labor.
The other relevant part of the story is how often I've heard someone in the medical profession say, "your baby is really high up there!"  Yes.  I know.  There's not a damn thing I can do about how high my babies sit, that's just where they are.  Except that, I now know, that's why I don't dilate... the baby has to drop to help me dilate and efface and a whole bunch of things that make labor and delivery move forward.  Mine?  They don't.  And by don't, I mean they sit like 6 inches (literally - this was the rough measurement they would ultimately give me about how far Liv dropped before I started pushing her through the birth canal.  No wonder it took me so long to push Logan out!) higher than they should.  

After I decided to get the epidural, the doctor really backed me up and shared what a good decision she thought that would be because it will help the baby drop, which will help move everything else along.  It turns out, she was totally right.

I got the epidural at about 2:30.  By 3, they checked me and sometime between 1:00 and 3:00 I had dilated from a four all the way to an eight!  We'll never know if my body did that work on it's own, or if all that was the result of the epidural, the nurses both said it could go either way.  

Either way, it absolutely did not matter to me.  I felt good, things were moving in a really positive direction, and my birthing room was way more fun than it should have been.


Casey, Jess and I laughed and joked for the next couple hours.  The nurses kept telling me how labor and delivery isn't supposed to sound like that.  It was way too much fun - way more fun than anything I've experienced before.

We were still joking and telling stories when the doctor came in to check me around 5:15 and announced: it was time to push!  WHAT?!

And push I did.  (This was where the whole "six inches" story came into play - the baby had moved down thismuch from where she started before I even started pushing.)  I'd really been on Casey to make sure he was keeping me posted on pushing, since it was such an ordeal last time.  So I pushed.  And I pushed again.  And Casey said that he could see hair and I was completely convinced he was messing with me.  I pushed again with the next contractions, and he told me her head was nearly out, and this time I think I actually said, "No way!  You're joking!"  To convince me, they took my hand and placed it on my baby's head... she was really there!  In a matter of just a few more pushes, out she came.  Nearly seven pounds of perfect, pink baby girl.  


With some apology to my other beautiful babies, it was the most perfect, amazing moment of my entire life.  She was there, and I was still in one piece.  


Somehow, everything had come together beautifully.  I was in complete and total awe over the fact that she was here, and I had been present in every part.  My body had worked exactly - beautifully, wondrously - the way that it was supposed to work through labor.  It was completely incredible, and so, so very different from what I've experienced in the past.  


She was beautiful.  Totally healthy, ten little fingers, ten little toes.  And brought into a room so filled with love, laughter and joy that I truly thought my heart would burst.


She was born at 5:34 p.m.  I had no idea that labor could be such an amazing experience.  Peaceful.  Wonderful.  As if to cap off what was already the most amazing day, Casey and I watched the sunset over the mountains as we ate dinner (did you know they often feed women who have been through childbirth?  ME EITHER!) recovering with our new little beauty who was already nursing away.

It was just the best day.  Such a wonderfully, blissfully different experience from those I've had before.  We are truly, truly blessed.  I mean, let's be honest... 


...we always were. 
 It's just a real bonus not to go through hell on top of it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Introducing...


Our beautiful new addition: 
Olivia Joy
5:34 p.m. August 4, 2014
19.5 inches, 6lbs 15 oz

Welcome, sweet beautiful girl!  You are madly loved!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

That time we potty trained a boy.

And it was, like, sooooooo much easier than potty training a girl.  I would use more "o's" in that phrase, but I think I've already exceeded the socially-approved limit.

Against the entire world of pop culture which reminds me that potty training a boy is SO.MUCH.HARDER! than potty training a girl.  Maybe this is true, but in case you had any doubts that kids have their own minds, spirits and intentions, my 22-month old little boy was all over debunking that myth.

Here's pretty much how it went:

Logan: Mommy, go potty please?
Me: Sure honey!  Oh, yep, you already took off your pants, how about that.  Let's go sit on the potty!
Logan: Otay.
....aaaaaand cue the pee pee.


That was the end of the story.

We had been talking about going in the potty for several weeks, and he was crazy excited about both the underpants that he got to pick out, and the "special potty" we picked up for his use.  I had hyped how awesome it would be beforehand, but he wasn't even willing to wait for me to be ready because he already was.

We did a three-day naked potty training marathon.  No one in or out.  We set the timer for every 15 minutes, and Logan got excited every single time that "PEEPEETIMER!" went off.  He had a few accidents at first - as in, the first morning - and then grasped the concept beautifully.

Bonus: getting to see those adorable nekkid bebe cheeks.  Seriously, I love 'em.

On days 2 and 3, we were able to go to about every 30 minutes, and he was already diligently telling me (much of the time) when he had to go on his own, outside of the timer.  It was pretty impressive.

It's been a little over a month, and that child has this concept down pat.  Seriously, easiest potty training of all time.  He still has accidents here and there, and he probably will for a while.  Because, well, let's face it: he isn't even 2 yet.

I'm definitely learning lots that I didn't know about proper boy toilet etiquette.  Like, for example, the fact that I couldn't figure out how to get him on a big potty in a public place for like two weeks without it either spraying up and over the seat, or out from between the seat and the bowl.

Turns out, there's a really simple solution, just in case you were wondering, because unlike a girl's, boys' sprayers can be aimed.  So instead of letting it hit me in the face every time while trying to avoid dropping him in the toilet, turns out, I can just point it down.  (Yes, it took me two weeks to figure that out.  Don't even say anything.)

Don't even get me started on how simple it is to have an unanticipated potty break, say, at the park or on a walk, or once, even in the parking lot at the grocery store.  Boys have it so much easier than girls.

My favorite is when people compliment me on getting him potty trained so soon.  Hah!  Yeah, because I totally had anything to do with it.

It's a lot of work, this whole potty training business... though I'm not changing diapers, there is definitely a lot more jumping up and down to help him make sure he gets on and off the potty successfully.  For the first couple of weeks, he would wake up and go even before he came to get me out of bed.  Which, as you might imagine, resulted in me being roused at 5:07 a.m. by a boy who was extremely proud of himself, shouting, "MOMMA!  POOP IN THERE!"  In there was loosely interpreted to mean partially in the bowl, all over his legs, down the wall and smeared all over the little potty, but it was hard to argue with his enthusiasm.

Now, he's getting into a much better routine and "in there" generally means the actual potty.

Plus, I got to thoroughly wash all those diapers and snap them back up for someone's tiny tushy, hopefully to be making an appearance soon.

All in all, I'm obscenely, ridiculously, over-the-top proud of this kid.  He completely mastered this big job all on his own with just a little cheerleading and extra laundry from me.  I couldn't love him any more!


Friday, August 1, 2014

39 weeks

It's been a bit of a roller coaster here in my corner of the world.

I'm making a conscious effort to enjoy my life: to enjoy the last few days and weeks I'll have as a mommy of two, to enjoy the laughter between my two precious littles as they run around and knock each other over.  To watch my big girl go bravely off to camp, fearless and enjoying every second.  To treasure the hugs from my beautiful little boy, who is, without doubt, the world's best hugger and possibly the sweetest little heart of all time.

But I will also admit to being completely, totally, mindlessly distracted.

This body.  Yowza.  It's messing with me in a really big way that's both totally joyful and absolutely wearing me down.

I started with all sorts of positive things on the labor and delivery front, all sorts of things which have never, ever happened to me before in my previous pregnancies.  Two weeks ago, at not yet full term, I was dilated!  I wanted to shout it from the roof tops and do a little pregnant gal happy dance, because I've only ever gotten that pitiable poor girl, you're locked up tighter than a fat guy in spandex look from the doctor as she shakes her head in response to my question about dilation.

Then, I lost my mucus plug.  I know, disgusting, but for the girl who showed absolutely no signs of progress up to and including the day my babies were born, this was like a hallelujah chorus.  Maybe labor wouldn't be awful?  Maybe... gasp... it would be manageable!  Maybe it would actually move!

Except that the day after both of these things happened, my husband was leaving for Florida.  FLORIDA.  The single corner of the United States that is furthest from my current location.  So we danced around the idea of him cancelling his trip, which we both agreed was ultimately stupid.  How could I have two babies so determined to stay in that they both had to be literally yanked out of me, and then worry about giving birth three weeks early?  Seems pretty implausible. We made back up plans.  And then more back up plans, just in case.

And then, the day after he left, at 37 weeks and 3 days, I started having contractions.  Labor contractions.  Decently strong labor contractions, which started at 10 minutes apart and got progressively closer and stronger.  Just exactly like the books said they would when labor begins.

After alerting the media, NASA and the Department of Homeland Security, we ultimately decided that there was really nothing to be done except see if they progressed and went anywhere.  It was 2 a.m. in Miami when we finally made this call, and he couldn't get out on a flight any sooner than 7, so nothing to do except go to bed and see what happens.  Luckily, nothing happened, and I sighed a big sigh of relief.

The trouble is, this pattern has pretty much continued, almost daily since then.  It was worrisome when Casey was out of town, but since then I've been very fervently hoping that it would pick up and actually kick me into labor.  Instead, I have nightly contractions that start at about 10 minutes and work their way down to 6 or 7 minutes apart, getting increasingly stronger over the course of 6 or 7 hours and then.... stop.  For no apparent reason.

I wake up the next morning sore across my abdomen like I've been doing crunches all night, irritated and grumpy and absolutely no closer to having this baby.

I've been dilated to 4 for a week, had my membranes swept twice and have continued doing all the "things" I can do to help my contractions progress: walking, pelvic tilts, squats, bouncing on the ball, taking Evening Primrose, relaxation and visualization, that other thing that got us into this to begin with... everything the literature suggests might help make a difference.  Nothing.

Well, no.  Not nothing.  Lots and lots {and lots and lots} of good, early labor contractions.

Except now, after two solid weeks, they're totally wearing me down.  I'm crampy and sore.  I'm having real trouble sleeping because I contract so much and for so long in the middle of the night.  I'm super hormonal, and everything makes me either cry or want to yell.  My patience is wearing paper thin.  I'm tired of always having one proverbial eye on my body, trying to monitor if what's happening to me is normal or something I need to pay close attention to.  I'm tired of trying to keep things in a constant "ready-to-go" state, making sure I always know whether we have enough pull ups and milk or where our people are just in case I need someone to come and tend to the kids.  I'm totally worn out physically; I wake up honestly feeling like I've run some sort of minor marathon during the night.  I have a tendency, despite my many blessings, to follow the tracks of the sun through my house, waiting for night to come so that I can just sit quietly without issuing instruction or praise, or have little hands touching me, begging to be entertained, fed, hugged, taken potty or any thousand other totally reasonable unmanageable demands.

And I'm disappointed.  I can't help it.  I'm trying so hard not to be.  I was totally ready to have this baby on its due date - I never had any doubts that we'd be having an August baby or that I should be concerned about going into labor.  So much so that I fully encouraged Casey to take the job in Miami when I knew I'd be 37-38 weeks pregnant.  I even encouraged him to take a gig here over the next few days, because I didn't anticipate being in any form of labor until sometime next week.  Then, all those really positive things started happening, but it definitely has had me thinking that "pop" might be on the agenda before too long.  And now, here we are.  Two weeks later, 39 weeks pregnant and I'm still contracting virtually every night as if I were going to go into labor, only to wake up worn out but still pregnant.

So, this is all very new to me.  Anecdotally, I feel like my body is still not working the way it's supposed to.  It seems like most people's bodies run on an FM frequency, and somehow I'm tuned into AM and can't get my crap together.  I know that many people have a few days or a few incidents where they play the am I in labor? guessing game, but two weeks of this craziness every day seems really excessive.  And I can't seem to get out of my head the thought that my body may truly just not be able to contract strongly enough to move a baby without some medical intervention.  I've wondered this since my very first miscarriage almost six years ago, and it's been reiterated to me each and every time I've done anything labor-like since.  I can rock the early contractions, but as far as being in active labor with heavy contractions... I'm thinking more and more that my body shuts down because that's the only direction it has to go on its own.

Which, I suppose, is okay - as long as I can come to terms with it; something I'm trying hard to do.  That truly natural labor I've longed for for the last five years may just always elude me, despite my best efforts to the contrary.  In which case, I need to remember to be very, very grateful for modern medicine, even that villain Pitocin I've been trying so hard to avoid.

The whole point of all of this at the end of the day is to make sure that baby is healthy.  That goal is vastly more important than whether or not my body works - I know that.  And I am so, so beyond grateful that this is even on the table for me; please don't mistake my struggle for being ungrateful.

It's back to wait-and-see.  I am still eager and hopeful that this little body might somehow chug into gear and do what everyone tells me it was meant to do.  Mostly, though, I'm just so darned excited to meet our special little someone.  I know from experience that in that moment, all these fears and doubts and stresses will simply cease to exist in the presence of such overwhelming joy.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Labor hopes & wishes

I know, I know.  Labor does its own thing.

Believe me, I learned last time: there's not much you can control if your body refuses do what it's supposed to do, unlike some people I envy know.

But we also learned a lot that I hope will be positive in helping me reach a different outcome.  A lot of the proverbial what not to do's.

So, in no particular order, here are a few of the things I'm keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for on D day:

1. My water doesn't break before labor starts.  Because, though I'm pretty much resolved to ignore the doc's advice to come into the hospital right away, there's immediately a ticking clock on labor if that happens.  I'll only have so much time to get it going and get it going strong before I do have to go to the hospital, which means that I'll be subjected to all the monitoring and checking that comes along with it.  All of which may effectively shut down any labor progress I've made.

11 p.m., just a couple of hours before leaving for the hospital.  If only I'd known what was in store.  I SO wouldn't have been smiling.

2. To be well rested beforehand.  If last time is any indication, my labor is a marathon and not a sprint.  Maybe that's not even the comparison - I'm a little closer to the Tour de France.  Sure, I may shave a few hours off of the 24 it took to git 'er done last time, but I'm pretty sure I can be a whole lot more effective in the birthing process if I haven't been awake for like 40 hours in a row.

Ahhh... 3 a.m.  Seriously, quit smiling, kid.  You have no idea.

3. That I can move around.  A lot.  This is one I definitely learned my lesson on last time through.  Sure, we walked.  I bounced and bounced and bounced on the birthing ball.  I tried to move and change position.  But because I'd already been up for nearly 24 hours and it was 2 a.m. before I even arrived at the hospital and I wasn't progressing very quickly, I also rested.  Maybe more than I should have.  It was a delicate balance between moving to help labor progress and trying to save my energy - a balance I'm hoping I can do a better job of achieving this time through.  Not to mention, without being tethered to a gazillionty wires (all of which definitely hinders the entire process).

6:00 p.m. and we're finally getting somewhere.

4. That I can eat during labor.  Again, if I'm in the hospital because my water has broken, this is a no-go (though... I'm pretty sure this is another rule I may flirt with breaking).  Remember that marathon comparison?  Nobody does that without being properly fueled.  There's lots of good research that cites the importance of eating during labor, and the ways it can contribute to positive outcomes for mommies.  I'm so getting on that train.

5. That gravity will be my ally.  At the end... after 23 hours and a whole ton of stuff had been done to me, I still had to push for over an hour.  And, like an idiot, I chose to do it on my back in bed (largely, probably because I couldn't feel a lot of what I should have been able to feel because of all the trial and error issues with the epidural.  Ideally, that won't be the case this time because there won't be an epidural).  Yeah, let's not make that mistake again!  NO VACUUM!  NO VACUUM!  Poor, poor little Logan.  No vacuum is up there at the top of the list of things I hope I can rectify this time around.

This moment.  Breathless.  Tears.  So worth every second of pain, before and after.
 I've been doing a lot of research on what is and isn't part of "evidence based care" as opposed to the "cover your A" care often enacted in hospitals due to insurance or legislative restrictions.  It has been extremely eye-opening, and maybe more than a little worrisome.

For example:

Evidence-based care for you means freedom of movement, freedom to eat and drink as you like, intermittent auscultation to monitor your baby’s heart rate during labor, one-to-one continuous support by someone who is educated in childbirth, water immersion for pain management, privacy so you can focus, no vaginal exams during labor unless there is a specific reason for it or you want to know your dilation, and freedom to push in whatever position feels comfortable to you.  It includes interventions when medically necessary and not before.

Contrasted with what we typically (and I, certainly - pretty much exactly this) experience in hospitals:
...Strapped into bed with belts for continuous monitoring of your baby (this kind of monitoring has an over 99% false positive rate), no food or drink allowed (they might give you ice chips), no one-to-one support, maybe a tub for water immersion, but you can’t get in if you’re on monitoring belts, an automatic IV into your hand that hurts and makes it hard to move, lots of interruptions by people wanting to give you vaginal exams (that serve absolutely no medical purpose, but increase your odds of infection down there), and constant pressure to “hurry things along” with medication or “give you a break” with an epidural.  It’s unlikely that anyone will tell you the significant risks of medications that speed things up (Pitocin causes fetal distress, which is a #2 cause of C-sections) or the downsides of an epidural (primarily, that you won’t be able to move around to get baby positioned better, which makes it much harder for him or her to descend through the birth canal and can result in a need for episiotomy/forceps or vacuum or even surgery!). (via)

Most of all, though, the thing I hope and wish for at the end of the day is a happy, healthy baby



I'd like to be happy and healthy, too if we can swing it. 

So although I've said all these things, my number one concern is going to be for the baby, and all other decisions will be made out of that very important perspective.  All the rest of these are just ideas to help me even up the odds a little in the face of what will probably be a difficult day.  I'm not heeding my own advice from two years ago and electing for a c-section, so fingers crossed that one doesn't come back to haunt me.  

And, I now know enough to know that if I'm just not progressing, it's okay to do the epidural and then pitocin - in that and only that order.  


I'm kinda, sorta ridiculously excited.


I changed my font at thecutestblogontheblock.com