Monday, May 31, 2010

Avery's Birth Story Part Three

Adam and I decided before the birth that we wanted to let the umbilical cord stop pulsing before we cut it because we had read that it's like a big infusion of vitamins, minerals, blood, etc for the baby. The midwife told us that can sometimes lead to jaundice because the baby gets too many red blood cells, and also that I would not deliver the placenta until we cut the cord and it could take 30 or 45 minutes before it stops pulsing. I was in a complete daze and everything apart from the baby on my chest was a blur. I hadn't done enough research on it to know whether jaundice was a concern, but I was pretty much ready to be done with the whole ordeal of the birth and Adam seemed to think it was a good idea, so after about 1o minutes, we cut the cord and thus began Avery's life as a person separate from me! A couple more contractioins and the placenta came out a few minutes later. I felt about 20 pounds lighter once that and the baby were no longer inside me!

Then the fun of getting stitched up began. I had a second degree tear, which the midwife said was not bad and would probably heal on its own without stitches, but she wanted to put some in anyway. She numbed the area with a lidocain injection, but I could still feel pretty much every stitch. It was uncomfortable, I'm not gonna lie. After all I had been through, I was really ready to be done with the pain! It took about 20 minutes for her to finish the job. I'm not sure how many stitches she put in but it felt like a lot! Finally, finally it was over and they left us alone for a bit to enjoy the baby.

I'm not sure how long we lay there - an hour? Eventually the nurse came back and asked if they could take the baby to weigh her and check her out. I didn't really want to let her go, but I figured I might as well not delay the inevitable so I let her go. She was only with the pediatrician for a few minutes, but she cried and cried.

Poor baby. This is one of the things about giving birth in a hospital. Of course, the point is to make sure mom and baby are ok and there aren't any problems, but it seemed so torturous to both of us all the poking and prodding we endured during our stay at the hospital. Modern medicine is miraculous and I'm grateful for it. But it does seem so unnatural taking a newborn baby away from its mommy to be prodded and poked like that. They finished with the baby, swaddled her and gave her to Adam - his first time to hold his daughter!

Proud papa!

Then the nurse came and helped us get positioned to breastfeed. Avery nursed for about 45 minutes right off the bat!

We got to hang out in the delivery room for a couple hours. The nurse came in after a while and told me I had to get up and go to the bathroom before they could transfer us to the mother-baby floor. I was pretty nervous about using the bathroom after all that trauma to the area. Adam helped me get up and I was able to go with no problem. Then the nurse prepared what was basically a big diaper for me - a pair of the infamous mesh undies they give you in the hospital, a gigantic pad, an ice pack, and a bunch of tucks pads lined along the whole deal, covered with this foam stuff that numbs you. Good times. I really didn't feel too bad, considering! Then we got our room in mother-baby.
Little Elf!
Doing skin to skin time... look how teeny tiny she was!
We spent the whole day hanging out and admiring the baby. We both really wanted to go home, but ended up having to stay for 36 hours - until 10 pm the next day.

So, am I glad I did it naturally? Yes. In retrospect. Because it is true that the baby was really alert as soon as she got up on my chest, and she was looking around at all of us, and we were able to nurse right away. Plus, I felt like myself immediately. I didn't have to wait for pain meds to wear off, or deal with a catheter or any of that. I got up and walked to the bathroom within hours of giving birth, and I was up walking around our room in mother-baby.

Would I do it again? Um... maybe? I don't know... I mean, probably. Probably I would. Because I do believe there are so many benefits for both mom and baby. But I didn't experience a huge emotional high (aside from the intense adrenaline rush that lasted several days), or any sense of a big accomplishment or empowerment. Right after the birth, my main sense was one of being shell-shocked. I was thinking - wow, that was really kind of traumatic. And why was I not one of those serenely birthing women I had so wanted to be? I remember asking my mom - who birthed both me and my sister without pain medication back in the 80s when they actually made you lie on your back the whole time! - while we were still in labor and delivery, "how on earth did you do this TWICE?!" In the aftermath, I could not honestly fathom how anyone would want to get pregnant again or endure a natural birth more than once!

Of course, it is true what they say - that you forget the pain. I suppose it must be that way otherwise the human race would have died out long ago. I keep wondering how those African bush-women manage? I have heard that birth is a non-issue in more traditional societies. Weston Price wrote in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration about women who would go into the bushes alone in the middle of the night and give birth and when their husbands awoke in the morning they would have a new baby.

I keep wondering how much of my experience was colored by being in a hospital and all that entailed. Our Bradley class talked about how animals need dim lights, quiet and solitude when they give birth (think of a cat finding a corner in the closet) and humans are no different. Is it just a coincidence that my labor seemed to intensify and become unmanageable as soon as we got into the hospital under the neon lights with multiple strangers poking on me, talking to me, and forcing me into uncomfortable positions?

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against hospitals - thank goodness they are there for situations that need them. I was very lucky to have a completely normal and "easy" birth with no complications. I just have to wonder, in my case, would my perception of labor have been different if I'd been in a different setting? At home, or in one of those crunchy-granola birthing centers, would it not have seemed so completely overwhelming and traumatic?

It's not that the birth was a negative experience. Nor was it positive, though. It just was what it was: something I somehow got through. Neither was our hospital stay an overall positive experience. The endless march of various nurses and doctors coming through to check both me and the baby was exhausting and invasive. Seriously, sometimes the pediatrician would come in to check on the baby - take her temperature and listen to her heart - and 15 minutes later, the nurse would come in and insist she needed to do the same thing. We just really wanted to go home and be in the comfort of our own bed, our own space, and it seemed silly with both of us doing so well that we had to stay. The morning after the birth, they told us that they had to keep the baby another 12 hours to make sure she didn't develop jaundice. Which made no sense to me because she was nursing well and had zero signs of elevated bilirubin levels. AND we had to come back the next day to have her checked anyway.

Ok, so that's my rant! I hardly have room to complain given the outcome:
Happy threesome.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hopefully the cute photos make up for the lack of wit

Avery surprised us all by sleeping for seven hours a couple nights ago! I woke at 3 am after going to bed at 9:30 and was like, what the heck, where is the baby?! I had to get up and come downstairs to see... sure enough, still sleeping. She woke soon after that to be fed and thank goodness because my chest felt like boulders for needing to be drained. Of course, I'm not daft enough to think we would get a repeat performance. She was back to her 2-3 hour routine the next night. Can growth spurts last for two weeks? Because I think she's been on one for over a week now!

She even outgrew her newborn size diapers! It seemed like it happened in a matter of hours. We put one on her and the next change she needed a bigger size because her little tushie was hanging out the back. We've got her in her cloth dipes now - they finally fit! She looks like a q-tip because there's still a lot of extra padding since these are one-size diapers for up to 35 lbs. But I think it will be just fine and as she grows they will fit better.
We took her out day before yesterday because I had to go to the clinic, and then we went out for breakfast and to browse around the mall. Note to self: bring more diapers and changes of clothes than you think you will need! She blew out a diaper and outfit in the hospital, and then when we were at the restaurant, she blew out another one! We cleaned her up as best we could, and then went to the Baby Gap in the mall and got a cheap onesie on sale to put on her.
Of course she cried again in the carseat on the way home. This is the face she made after she resigned herself... isn't it the saddest thing you've ever seen?! It breaks my heart! We had to pull over in Chinatown so we could nurse because she was crying so much.
This was her second outfit of the day, in the hospital. That onesie was just supposed to be a BACKUP!
This little pink sleeper doesn't even fit her anymore! Especially not since her bum is so fluffy in her Fuzzi Bunz.
Little Angel Baby.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Life with baby

Little Avery decided yesterday evening that the preferred feeding interval was 30 minutes or less. She is frequently a little fussy and wanting to nurse a lot during the evening hours - a time we call Happy Hour because it's all about keeping Avery happy. She doesn't cry, she just grunts and acts like she's uncomfortable or disgruntled about something. And she wants to nurse frequently. She will nurse for a few minutes and then pop off and grunt and act annoyed until I put her back on the boob. Rinse and repeat. Last night was the biggest marathon session yet, though. From about 6 through 10 pm she would nurse, fall asleep, wake and start grunting and fussing, back on the boob to nurse again, over and over! She finally gave it up around 10 and Adam took her downstairs so I could get some much-needed sleep. She must be going through a growth spurt because I swear she looks and feels bigger every day and she is nursing so much the last few days.

She was up again at 2 to eat, and then she fell asleep. I was sitting in bed with her and she needed her diaper changed, so I told Adam to bring me a diaper and wipe so I could try to do it without waking her up. Well, I'm sure you can guess that situation unraveled quickly. It was just a pee diaper so I thought we could do a quick switch and be done with little disturbance, but I should have known better! We got her cleaned off and got the fresh diaper under her, and just as I closed the hatch - before I even fastened it up - her eyes popped open and she unloaded a huge poo! Thankfully I had gotten the diaper in place before she did that on my lap. Then we discovered her little footed sleeper was partially INSIDE the diaper in the back, and was therefore covered in poo. Sigh. I carried her into the nursery still holding the dipe around her bum and got her cleaned up and into a new outfit.

Then, of course, she was wide awake and thought it would be a good time to get carried around so she could Check Things Out and practice holding her head up. I tried to get her to sleep, then Adam tried - at which point she started smiling at him and just generally hamming it up, the little booger - and then I tried again, but she was having none of it. She was alert and wide-eyed. After about an hour I told Adam to take her back downstairs and walk around with her and see if she'd fall asleep. I guess he spent another hour bouncing around the downstairs with her until she finally went back down and slept until almost 7 this morning. I had gone back to sleep at 3, so I actually woke up before Adam came back upstairs because my boobs felt like boulders for needing to be emptied after the nursing frenzy yesterday.

She got her second bath today. Her first real bath was at the two week point, and she didn't like it much. We bathed her in her tub in the kitchen, and she wailed when we first put her in the water so I pulled her out and wrapped her in a towel. We tried again a few minutes later and discovered she had poo'd all over the towel - Mom said, jeez ya scared the poo out of her!! When we put her in again she did ok, though she looked very suspicious, and she cried again when we pulled her out. Today we bathed her in her tub in the bathroom - less drafty? - and she actually seemed to like it! Phew. I was worried we were going to have a fussy bather on our hands!

She is sleeping next to me on the couch right now. Cute, cute!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Adventures with the Little

We had a big day yesterday. Of course, any day that we leave the house is a Big Day. We took the Little on her first trip to Target. The store is only a couple miles away from our new house. I put her in the sling and she went right to sleep before we even got from the parking lot into the sore! I went to get her a pacifier to use in the car. At first I said I was not going to give her a pacifier, but she cries so piteously in her carseat sometimes... and I don't know what I'm going to do when I have to be the one driving and she's alone in the back seat. I'm going to have a nervous breakdown if she starts wailing I think! Well, hopefully not because I can give her the paci and hope that keeps her calm. The internet recommended a Soothies pacifier for breastfeeding babies because it's shaped most like a nipple. When I first stuck it in her mouth she made a face like what the heck is that?! It took her a little while to get the hang of sucking on it, and she still can't keep it in her mouth. But we're going to keep working on it.

After that we drove across town to go to the Whole Foods and see that Babies documentary. Here is the trailer:

I put the babe in the sling again and she slept through Whole Foods and our lunch from the hot food bar there. Some guy came up to me in Whole Foods and asked me whether I'd heard about the baby sling recall. I've heard about it, but it's only for a couple of duffel bag style slings where the baby can't get air and some babies suffocated. My sling allows the baby's head to be out so she can breathe. I would never put the Little in a sling where you couldn't see her face! But I felt like that guy was kind of judging me for having her in a sling.

Anyway, after that we went to the theater and Avery nursed and slept through the whole movie. It was pretty cute (the movie, not the baby). There is no dialogue, just video footage of the four babies during their first year of life. The baby is still too little really to take her out and about... she's just so tiny still and bewildered by everything, and needs to nurse so frequently. Maybe in a few weeks it will be easier!

Doesn't she look like a little doll in this picture?! So precious.

And she's started smiling at us now! It's tough to get a smile out of her, but when she does her whole face lights up. It's so adorable. I can't wait to see more of her personality develop.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One Month Old

Avery is one month old today! It's hard to believe it was four weeks ago that I was at Tripler Hospital in labor with her. I mean, on one hand, it feels like I've been doing this gig FOREVAH. Especially since there's often little distinction between night and day... I sleep when I can and nurse all day and all night, so it seems like one long continuous day sometimes. The passing of time is really evident when you look at her, though. She's getting so big! She's already outgrowing the three outfits that fit her in the early days, and developing this little personality more every day.

At one month, Avery is fond of:

Being held. All the time. No, really. If you think I'm kidding about this, come on over and we'll put you on the baby-cuddling schedule! Right now she is napping in my lap. As long as someone is holding her, she will sleep for 4-5 hours at a stretch. But if you put her down, she'll wake up in 5-10 minutes. When Adam is not working, he stays up all night with her and carries her around as he does his computer work, watches tv, goes to the bathroom, etc. When he's at work, my mom will take her from her 9 pm feeding until 12 or 1, and then I get her the rest of the night. I have tried unsuccessfully to put her down in the pack n' play and the cradle, but the longest stretch of sleep I've gotten from her was about 90 minutes in the cradle, and that was with me rocking her every 15 minutes or so when she started to wake up. I've resigned myself to co-sleeping at this point, even though I don't *really* want to. When she's snuggled up next to me in bed, she will sleep for about 3-4 hours and nurse twice in the night at 12 or 1 and again at about 4. Then again at about 6 or 7, after which she will nap again for several more hours. As much as I thought I did not want to be a co-sleeper, it is really sweet having her snuggled up with me in bed (even though I don't get very restful sleep!) she is so precious laying there with her feet curled up in my belly and her little hand on me. How can I fight it.

Sleeping with her arms over her head. This is a baby who doesn't prefer to be swaddled. We've tried swaddling her in a variety of special blankets, but she always manages to get her arms free. It's supposed to help them sleep better, this swaddling, but I think Avery wakes herself up struggling to free her arms!

Exhibit A:
Exhibit B:
Exhibit C:
Pooping and peeing with her diaper off. Oh, it's the best of times! She does this so frequently I'm beginning to wonder if it's something about the diaper that she DOESN'T like pooping and peeing in. The best way to do it is to wait until the big person finishes wiping your bum, and then just before the new diaper gets in place, you rocket poop explosively across the entire dresser, splattering the curtains, the camera, the diaper caddy, mommy's hair (because I'm bending over her when it happens), several clean diapers, and all down the back of the dresser. Then to really seal the deal, you have to pee all over yourself while the large people are trying to clean THAT mess up. This means you get a new outfit out of the deal.

Grunting, snurgling, and carrying on, asleep or awake. She carries on so much that we call her the Dragon, as in "don't wake the Dragon." Just from listening to her you'd think I gave birth to a velociraptor instead of a sweet little pink-cheeked babe.

Avery does not like:

Her carseat. Oh, it's fine if she's sleeping when she goes in it, but rest assured on the way home from your adventure she will be overstimulated and will not want to nap. No, she would rather grunt and become increasingly frantic with the kicking and arm waving and struggling against her situation until she escalates into the most heartwrenching sobs, complete with pouty frowny face and now REAL TEARS! I know, can you believe she's crying real tears now and it KILLS me, she looks so pitiful and there's nothing I can do because we're in the car!

That's pretty much it for the dislike column. Well, she hates being even a tiny bit hungry. Don't try to change her diaper or take your time getting situated with the nursing pillow and a glass of water if she's ready to eat or else she will squawk with righteous indignation. And then when she gets to the boob, she will pant and snuffle and wag her head back and forth until she latches on like a little carnivore devouring a hambone.

Look at those cheeks! You can really tell she's chubbing up! Compare to one week old:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Avery's Birth Story Part Two

The baby is almost three weeks old, oh my heart! I have to say I am so glad she's here on the outside already and I'm not still waiting on the birth, suffering my endless anxieties over the whole thing. I'm so glad it's over already! Now I can spend my time obsessively reflecting on what a mind-blowing experience it was.


I remember watching the Business of Being Born in the very early days of my pregnancy. I highly recommend the movie if you are considering an unmedicated birth because there is lots of footage of peaceful home births that will inspire your confidence in your own abilities to ... um... survive?... the birthing process.

Of course, being that it's her film, one of the women whose home births is featured is Ricki Lake. You can watch the footage of her home labor, including when she actually gives birth in her bathtub. Her birth is not one of the peaceful ones. During her labor and birth, she is downright out of her head - she is stalking around the house like a madwoman, yelling that she wants to go to the hospital and get an epidural, yelling that she can't do it, she can't take it anymore, etc.

When we watched it, I remember thinking, HELLO DRAMA! I also smugly told Adam I didn't think I would be anything like that when I gave birth. Just judging by my personality - I'm a pretty even-keeled, rational, level headed person - I figured I would be more like one of the serene women quietly laboring while they swayed around their living rooms and then squatting to silently push the baby out on their kitchen floor. HA.


I think I mentioned before that I started to lose my mind when we were in the triage room waiting to be admitted to the hospital. The pain and pressure were quickly becoming overwhelming and my contractions seemed like they were coming one on top of the other, never really letting up.

They wheeled me down the hall to my room and I got up in the bed, still wearing my pajama top and the paper around my waist. The nurse came in and introduced herself, and I immediately disliked her. She had this tone about her that just didn't seem very kind or helpful. She started asking me a bunch of questions about Lord Knows What, and meanwhile I'm in the throes of contractions piled up on top of each other and trying mightily not to be snappy towards her. I can't be sure, but I think she asked us several times about cord blood banking. Good grief! We don't want to bank the baby's cord blood! Stop asking!

Another nurse came in with an IV lock and I asked if I had to have it. The nurse said I had to take it up with the midwife. The nurse also told me I had to have 10 minutes on the fetal monitor every 30 minutes. Later when the midwife came back in she told the nurse I didn't have to have the IV, and she could just to the monitor for one contraction, not 10 minutes. I ended up consenting to the hep lock anyway, because the nurses told me if I wanted any pain medication I had to have the IV, and if I couldn't keep water down I needed IV fluids. Well, I was still feeling super nauseated and close to yakking every contraction... plus, I was really thinking hard at that point that I might want some pain medication. So I told them they could set me up. So began what could have been the worst 20 minutes of the whole ordeal!

I can't say for sure, but I think the nurse who was trying to start my IV was incompetent. I was yowling in pain from a) contractions, and b) her literally digging around in the back of my hand trying to get the needle in my vein. She never did succeed! She put the thing in and it was hurting so bad, I was yelping and telling her it really hurt. I don't know what the heck they were thinking. She went ahead and taped it off and they tried to start a bag of fluids, but the needle wasn't even in my vein so nothing was going in. It was really painful! Then they left it taped on my hand! I was so overcome by the contractions I hardly knew what was going on or cared.

Poor Adam nearly passed out, though! He said later that watching that nurse dig around ineffectively in my hand, and the blood pouring down, and me yowling in pain, and he had his legs locked and his jaw clenched - it just made him lightheaded. He said looking back he should have said something to her like, hey I don't think that's working.

So I was still sitting there in the bed, still wearing my own pajama top, with an ineffective IV taped in my left hand, and telling anyone who would listen that I wanted some pain medication with every contraction. The pain was much more overwhelming than I imagined it would be. I knew it would be painful, but I thought I would be able to manage the pain better and not feel so completely overcome by it. And my contractions were happening so fast I really never felt like I got a break from the pain, it was just one big gut-rending contraction. I was groaning loudly through every contraction, and as soon as the peak of it was over, telling everyone who would listen that I can't do this anymore, I need pain medication!

The nurses were more than ready to drug me. I'm sure it's much easier and less annoying for them to have a woman labor with pain medication than without. After all, they can talk to you and do all their procedures and monitoring and make nice pretty contraction charts on the machine without the patient writing in pain, occasionally ripping off the fetal monitor because GET THIS DAMN THING OFF ME! and making all kinds of noise. Luckily, the midwife had come back in and convinced me to try laboring in some different positions before going ahead with the pain meds.

She wanted to check me again before I got up, and I was only 5 cm dilated! I was so disappointed, as I really felt like my labor was incredibly intense and more progress should have been made by that point. Again, I should have remembered our Bradley training that dilation doesn't really matter that much because it can happen all at once really quickly. But the nurses are trained to think one centimeter per hour, so they kept telling me it was going to be a while longer before we would meet our baby. I kept thinking - and saying - I can't do this! The midwife suggested I get on the birthing ball and then try getting in the tub.

I didn't feel like I could MOVE, let alone get out of bed and get on the birthing ball, but I was really at the end of my coping abilities and nearly out of my head, so I let Adam pull me out of bed and into the bathroom. I sat on the birthing ball, leaning my arms and head in Adam's lap as he sat on the edge of the bathtub and the nurse ran a hot bath for me. The room had a huge jacuzzi tub in it, and even though they don't usually let you get in the tub after your water has broken, the midwife ok'd it for me.

As a side note, I never would have thought I would be completely naked in a room full of people I don't even know, but amazingly, I DID NOT CARE ONE IOTA! Yes. Things you should know about giving birth naturally: you will be naked in front of strangers and not care. They will see all your lady parts, in gory detail, and you will not care! You will in all likelihood poop and/or pee in front of these people and you will not care. You might even poop and/or pee on YOURSELF in front of them and YOU WILL NOT CARE!! I know this blows your mind right now if you've never given birth and you're thinking oh no, not me, *I* will care, that is horrifying! You must trust me on this one...

I labored for 15 or 20 minutes on the ball, then got out of my pajama top and into the tub. Oh man, it was immediate relief. Being in the tub actually slowed my labor down, but that was a good thing at that point because I was totally overwhelmed. Right away my contractions spaced out to being a minute or two apart, so I could actually get a break in between. And it's kind of amazing how you feel totally fine between contractions. Of course, you feel like an elephant is stepping on your pelvis DURING the contractions! Which is why I kept asking for the epidural every time I had one!

I was really trying to remember the relaxation skills we had practiced, so I was focusing on relaxing my face, arms, legs, etc, during every contraction. But they were too painful, I couldn't help but tense up. I was moaning and trying not to be tense. I was trying to imagine my cervix opening and the baby coming down. Adam kept reminding me I was doing this for the baby. I was so out of my mind, though that there weren't any rational thoughts happening in my head. In fact, looking back I was somewhat surprised that all the spiritual preparation I had done pretty much went out the window. It didn't even occur to me to pray or to give a single thought to God or the circle of life or what an intensely spiritual experience giving birth really is - bringing a soul into this world. I had spent so much time thinking about how I would meditate on these thoughts during the birth as a means of coping with the pain, but I am disappointed to say that in the heat of the moment, it didn't even come into my head. All I could think about was I can't do much more of this, make the pain stop. It didn't help that the nurse kept telling me I would probably be there until lunchtime! Holy shit, I thought, if I'm going to be doing this for another 5 hours I really will not make it. I think there was a little voice in the back of my head though that told me it would not be that much longer, because the nurses kept telling me - we know your support people are trying to help you stick to your unmedicated birth plan, but if you really want pain meds, we will give them to you - and something in me kept pushing it off (even though I was irrationally asking for relief every few minutes!).

I was probably in the tub for at least 45 minutes. As time went on, I was feeling intense pressure in my lower back and hips. It felt like a huge bowling ball was sitting in my abdomen, pushing on my tailbone and my hipbones. Since I was laying back in the tub, I tried to get on my hands and knees in the water, but my legs kept cramping up in that position, so I just sat upright. I could really feel the baby's head coming down, and I could feel my contractions sort of changing to where I was kind of pushing a little bit when they hit. I never felt that intense urge to push that some women describe. It was more of a gradual urge that built up over time. I told the nurse I thought I was pushing a little and that I could feel the baby's head coming down. She wanted me to get out of the tub so they could check me.

I got out, dried off and put on a hospital gown and somehow made it back into the bed where the midwife came to check me again. NINE CENTIMETERS!! Only one more centimeter to go! Holy cow, I went from a 5 to a 9 in an hour! NO WONDER it was so painful and intense. I was sitting there cross legged, and the pressure was KILLING ME in my back and hips. I tried to get on my knees leaning over the back of the bed, but my legs were cramping again, so I just sat there indian-style for a while. (Don't forget this whole time, the moaning and frantic requesting of pain meds was ongoing. Once I heard I was nine centimeters, though, it was like the point of no return in my mind. Even though I asked and was offered pain meds a few more times, I knew in my head this was it, I was going the full distance without, like it or not!)

There were a LOT of fluids coming out of me. The nurse said pretty soon I would need to pee as the baby's head came down and put pressure on my bladder. Right after she said that, sure enough I had to go. But there was no way I could get up to the bathroom. She brought a towel over and stuffed it between my legs and said, there, just pee! I was like, right here in the bed? On myself? She said yeah don't worry about it, there's all kinds of mess already in that bed. Well, the next contraction that came I could hardly even help it. The pressure was so great, I don't know if I could have NOT peed. Remember what I said before, though... at that point I did not even care!

I was complaining about the pressure in my back and hips, so the nurse set up the squat bar so I could pull myself up on it and showed Adam and my mom how to apply counterpressure on my back. I was really pushing now, the moaning I was doing with each contraction turned to primal grunting as I held onto the squat bar leaning over Adam's arm. Instead of asking for pain medication, I started yelling "push on my back!" whenever a contraction hit. That counterpressure really helped. I labored like that for a while - maybe 30 minutes or so? The midwife came back again and I told her I had been pushing through contractions. I couldn't help it! My body was taking over and doing what it needed to get that baby out. She said she wanted to check me and see if it was time to start pushing for real.

Well, I didn't want to lay back again because of the pressure on my spine and hips, but I had to so she could check me. Ten centimeters! Ready to go. Suddenly there was a small flurry of activity as they changed the position of the bed, got the table with all the birthing instruments on it ready, and got the fetal monitor back on my belly (HATE!). I didn't really want to push leaning back, it felt more comfortable to be upright and I think I would have preferred to push in the squatting position. But I was kind of along for the ride at that point and the midwife felt that the baby's head would clear my pelvic bone better if I was reclined.

So Adam was on my right side with the midwife. He was holding my right leg up and my mom and the nurse were holding my left leg. I remembered learning how to push in the birth class, but it wasn't at all how I imagined it would be. First of all, I didn't feel a really overwhelming desire to push. I mean, when a contraction came, I pretty much couldn't help but bear down, but actual pushing, no. The nurse and midwife kept telling me to push through my bottom and not in my face. I could feel a difference when the pushing was really effective versus when I was just straining to no avail, but it seemed like I didn't really have control over it one way or the other. I kind of felt like I wasn't doing a good job of it - the nurse and midwife kept saying, PUSH! PUSH! PUSH THROUGH YOUR BOTTOM! And I was like, I am doing all I can! Actually I wasn't forming any coherent sentences. I was grunting and yowling like a madwoman.

I could feel the baby's head as it was crowning - the so-called ring of fire. Remember when kids would give you an indian burn on your arm at the playground? Yeah, it's kind of like that, except it doesn't go away! The whole time the baby's head is pressing against the exit, it burns. This phase of labor is kind of a blur for me. It really only lasted about 30 minutes or so... I don't know how many times I pushed... maybe 7? I remember being really exhausted, and worn out from the pain, ready for it to be over already. I had no idea of where I was progress-wise. Once the baby's head was showing, it felt like she should be out already, but when the contraction ended, there we were still waiting.

At one point the midwife told me to reach down and feel the baby's head, but I was like no, I don't want to I just need to stay up here and focus on getting this baby out! I was in another dimension. I'm pretty sure the next contraction was the last one - I pushed with everything I had and let out a wall-rattling scream as her head came out and I felt my skin ripping open. Her shoulders were still in there and I think I yelled, "get her out!" and then suddenly everyone was saying, "look down, here she is!!" and I opened my eyes and looked and there was this little blue gooey creature halfway out of me with the midwife supporting her head. I said, oh my god! and reached down and grabbed her under the arms and pulled her up on my chest and suddenly it was over though I could hardly believe it. I expected to feel a huge sense of relief once she came out, but I didn't even know it was over until everyone was yelling at me to look down.

Once she was up on my chest, though, my brain finally connected, and I thought, it's over! Thank God it's finally over! She was crying the tiniest little kitten mewls and blinking at me like, "whaaat...??" I kept asking if she was ok because she was so quiet, only letting out the softest little cries. She was fine. APGAR scores were 8 and 9. Our Little Elf was finally here! But it wasn't quite over for me yet.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I would finish the birth story if I could keep my hands off this adorable little bean for more than 5 minutes while I am awake! In the meantime... hey, did you know what is more painful than your skin tearing apart when a baby's head emerges from your nether region without any pain medication, and then getting stitched up afterward when -ahem- that local anesthetic DOES NOT REALLY WORK, YO. What could be more painful than that?? When the wound gets infected! Yes, that happened to me, BECAUSE OF COURSE IT DID.

I was feeling better at the two week mark - mostly healed in fact - when all of a sudden I got a whole bunch of pain and some swelling building up a couple days ago. It got bad enough yesterday that I actually went and sat in the emergency clinic for three hours to be seen and discovered that yep, I've got an infection going on. TMI for sure, but hey, it's the biggest news going on 'round here. [If I was going to write about our days, it would no doubt go like this: today I nursed Avery every 2-3 hours, and I managed to get 2-6 hours of sleep somewhere in there, and she pooped and peed all over herself while getting her diaper changed, blew out another diaper, and dirtied every outfit that fits her with either poop, pee or urp. The end.]

Who the heck knows how it happened because I assure you my hygiene has been impeccable and I've followed all the hospital's post-birth instructions. I've even managed somehow to shower just about every day in between nursing sessions. But happen it did. And it's so painful that the doctor gave me vicodin! They didn't even give me that after the birth! But I haven't taken any of it because evidently I prefer to suffer rather than expose my preshus babe to narcotics. Where is my medal??

Anyway, so yesterday I almost died. Of pain. Today I am sort of kind of feeling a little better, after nearly 24 hrs of antibiotics. Mom is out at Vitamin Shoppe getting us some probiotics because don't you know the next thing will be a yeast infection or worse - thrush.

Having babies! Don't you wanna?!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Avery's Birth Story Part One

Friday, April 23, Adam and I both had the day off work. Mom and I ran some errands during the day, and I felt no different than I had any other day in the past week. Mom had been insisting for the past week that we go to the beach and take some pictures of Adam and I together to document the last days of my pregnancy. We didn't feel rushed to do it because my due date was still a week off, and I wasn't really having any indications that labor was imminent. Finally on Friday afternoon, she persisted enough to get us over to the nearest water access to shoot some photos and these pictures were taken. Little did we know I would be in labor less than 6 hours later!
Afterward we went to a nearby waterfront restaurant and had a yummy dinner, then returned home to watch some DVR stuff and chill out. While sitting there on the couch, I continued obsessing over when the baby would come, and whether anyone really thought there was a chance I could still be pregnant a month from then, like perhaps I HAD ovulated on day 24 and I WOULD go 2 weeks over my due date... after all, my belly was not extremely gargantuan yet. I wasn't having any early labor signs as we sat there, unlike the previous few nights when I had regular contractions that lasted several hours over the evening and then petered out when I went to bed. Friday evening? Nothing. I had no clue that I would go into labor that night! We went to bed around 9:30, not knowing we would get only a couple hours of sleep.

Around 11:45 I awoke to a squishy sensation between my legs. I got up to go to the bathroom and there was a little mucous on the tissue. Par for the course, I thought, and actual labor could still be days away. But as I stood up, I felt a little gush of fluid. Having read enough birth stories on the internets, I knew that could be my water breaking. Or, it could just be some extra watery discharge meaning nothing. I decided to get back in bed and try to sleep.

After about 10 or 15 minutes, I felt another gush as I lay there, and I got up to go to the bathroom again. There was still not that much fluid coming out, though it was enough to necessitate a wardrobe change. At that point, I was pretty sure it was my water breaking, but I wasn't having contractions so I decided to ignore it for the time being and try to sleep some more.

As soon as I lay down again I started having contractions. I knew right away they were different from the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having. They were lower down and more of a crampy feeling. I felt a few more small gushes as they were happening. I probably lay there for only 10 minutes or so before I started timing them because they seemed to be coming regularly. Sure enough, they were 5-10 minutes apart. I lay there timing them for 30 or 45 minutes and they were becoming closer to 5 minutes apart regularly.

It was around 12:30 at that point and I decided I better get up and get some things together since I wasn't sleeping anyway. I decided not to wake my mom or Adam yet, thinking of our Bradley class training that the average labor is 17 hours and not to pay attention too soon. I figured it would probably continue like this through the night before getting into active labor and I might as well let my support system sleep until I needed them.

I went into the nursery and turned on the closet light and started pulling a few baby things out to bring with us to the hospital. A footie sleeper, a gown, some mittens and socks and a cap. A couple burp cloths and receiving blankets. I set out the breast pump and some accessories in case someone needed to come home and get it (in case the nurses thought the baby wasn't getting enough colostrum, they will let you pump to bottle-feed instead of giving the baby formula). Somewhere in the middle of that my mom woke up and came into the nursery to see what was going on.

I said, I think I might be in labor, but I'm not totally sure. I told her my water broke and I was having regular contractions for over an hour now. She said, you're in labor. I told her I was just getting some things together and she should go back to bed, I would wake her in a little while if things progressed.

After that I went back to our room and went in the closet to pull some stuff together for myself. I set out a couple nightgowns that I didn't really plan on wearing but wanted to have just in case, as well as a going home outfit - nursing tank top from Target the day before, lounge pants and a sweater. Then into the bathroom to get some toiletries - travel size shampoo, toothbrush, contact lens stuff. I didn't pack anything, I just set it on the dresser. Having finished the task, I decided to lay down again and see if things slowed down or what.

I lay there timing contractions and they were about 3 minutes apart at that point and becoming stronger. We learned in Bradley not to head to the hospital too early - not until having contractions about 3-5 minutes apart and showing clear emotional/physical signs of being in active labor (seriousness, concentration, no longer hungry, needing to stop and breathe through contractions). Well I was laying quietly in the dark so I wasn't sure about the physical signs, but after about 30 minutes of timing on my cell phone and debating, I figured I was to the point where I should wake Adam (who, by the way, slept through all my rummaging and organizing!).

I poked him awake and said, I think I'm in labor. Being a guy, he wanted to know what evidence had brought me to this conclusion, so I told him my water broke and I was having contractions about 3 minutes apart and contracting for the last couple hours. He said he was going to get his watch to time them and I told him he better think about getting some things together for the hospital. I continued laying there, breathing through contractions until he came back and timed a few himself and confirmed they were about 3 minutes apart. Meanwhile he was going about the room gathering a few things for himself. At one point I asked him if I should take a shower and he said, do you feel like it? I kind of did, but I was thinking maybe it was time to head to the hospital and he agreed.

I told him to go get the suitcase out of the hall closet and turn the light on so my mom would get up and get herself ready. He packed everything I set out, as well as his things, and went to get the cameras and car ready. I got up and brushed my teeth, put my contacts in and puttered around the nursery and our room for some last minute things. I was to the point where I actually had to stop what I was doing and breathe through the contractions. They seemed to be coming pretty quickly and stronger.

My thought process at that point was totally calm and rational. I felt no anxiety or even excitement - just matter of fact-ness. The pain was becoming fairly intense, but still totally manageable. I felt in control and confident. By the time we got into the car, the contractions were coming every 2.5 minutes and lasting for about a minute fifteen seconds. I was pretty sure I was in active labor at that point, since there was little else I could do other than breathe through contractions and wait for the next to hit.

Luckily the hospital is only a couple miles away from our new house, AND it was about 3 in the morning so there was no other traffic on the road, because that drive over was tough. Every bump and jump intensified the pain and made it harder to manage. We pulled up to the hospital and someone fetched a wheelchair since I didn't think I could walk all the long way to the labor and delivery area. Adam put me in it and my mom went to park the car. At that point it really started to hit me - we were going to have a baby. Soon! But I didn't dwell on those thoughts because I was totally focused in the moment and getting through each contraction. I was using the relaxation and breathing skills we practiced in Bradley.

Adam wheeled me through the hallways to labor and delivery. When we pulled up the nurses looked up and seemed kind of surprised to see us and were like, what seems to be going on? In my head I was thinking, I'm in labor, obv. Looking back, it's probably because we didn't call in to ask if we should come to the hospital. We felt confident from our class that we were to that point, but I remember the midwife saying, oh, I didn't hear from you all earlier, and we said, it's been going really quickly. I had only been in labor about 3 hours at that point, but I knew it was going to be a relatively fast labor.

They put me and Adam in a triage room and I changed out of my pants into the paper wrapper they always give you. Then the nurse came in to hook me up to the fetal monitor. I was really thirsty from all the breathing I was doing, but when I drank some water, I started to feel really nauseated and nearly threw up. The nurse was poking on me and trying to get the dang fetal monitor in place. I definitely didn't want that thing on me - having contractions was enough without a huge elastic band pressing into my belly. She was asking me a bunch of questions too, but I was to the point where I was like, quit talking to me! Can't you see I'm in labor! If you ask me a question in the middle of a contraction, I'm going to ignore you.

The midwife came in to check me and I had to lay back, and man, that sucked. Having contractions while laying on your back is NOT COMFY. She checked everything out and then did who-knows-what where it felt like she crammed her entire hand in my special lady area... I think she must have been sweeping my membranes? Because I felt her finger sweep around my cervix... around what must have been the baby's head there. It was not pleasant and I yowled when she did it. She emerged from my nethers and proclaimed me 3 cm dilated with contractions 2 minutes apart. I think normally they would not admit you if you are only 3 cm dilated, but I guess since my contractions were so close together already they decided to go ahead and let us stay.

The whole while this was happening, I was having contractions that sometimes seemed like they weren't stopping, and feeling really nauseated. The pain was really intense and it was at that point I began to lose my mind. They left us alone at one point and I said to Adam, I don't know if I can do this. I wondered if I was close to transition since I felt very disoriented and out of control, and I felt a huge sense of self-doubt. All things we learned in Bradley are signposts of transition.

Looking back I know I wasn't in transition because I still had about 4 hours of labor left to go before the baby was born. I think it was because I was only 3 cm dilated when the midwife checked me. Until hearing that, I thought I was much farther along based on the emotional and physical signs of my labor. Three centimeters is early labor territory! You can walk around 3 cm for days before giving birth! I should have known, though, from our Bradley classes that dilation doesn't really matter that much because you can go from a 3 to a 10 in a hour. However, at the time, hearing that I was filled with dread and doubt because I thought, if this is early labor and I am handling it like this, there is no way I am going to make it through this unmedicated.

The nurse came back with a wheelchair and asked if I could get in it. I said yes, but I had a lot of fluid coming out of me. She just laughed and said, there's going to be lots of fluid coming out until the baby is born, don't worry. I got in the chair with the fetal monitor still strapped to my belly, wrapped in a piece of paper from the waist down, and they rolled me down the hall to my room.

Part Two.  Part Three.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

One Week Old

We survived the first week of new parenthood. It has been a wild ride! Life at the moment revolves around little Avery. And for me that means being in the nursing chair most of the day ... and night. That sleep deprivation thing is for real, y'all. I have no idea how anyone would do this alone. I am so lucky and thankful to have my mom here helping me - she is a saint. She has been making me food and sitting with the baby while I sleep. Adam had to go back to work starting on Friday, so he's been gone all night (the hardest time) and sleeping most of the day. I'm up with Avery most of the night, with some snoozing, and then mom has been taking her in the early morning and letting me sleep. I've been trying to bring her into bed with me because she wakes up if we put her in the basinette, but I'm still not able to get much sleep if I do that because she makes little noises all the while, and I worry she is going to suffocate - on the blanket, my shirt, my boob, or roll over into the mattress. I suppose the more I get used to her it will get easier (right? right??)

Also? Breastfeeding? Is hard. It's clearer to me now why so many people don't do it. For one thing, it's painful at first and I don't care what anyone says about it not hurting if you're going it right. You have to get used to someone sucking on your nipples 24/7, it's gonna hurt a bit. And I'm the only one who can provide that for her, so there's no breaks! When baby wants to eat, I'm up nursing.

I had a minor meltdown a couple days ago when I was just sitting there holding her and started to cry. For no good reason... just the dropoff of all that post-birth adrenaline and hormones, feeling overwhelmed by this giant spanse of emotions, being tired, etc, etc.

Still, we are loving parenting the Little Elf. She is so cute and sweet! We have dozens of pictures of her sleeping. She doesn't spend much time awake, except to say, "I'm hungry!"

Look how she is changing in just a week! Her cheeks are starting to chub up.

And she smiles all the time in her sleep. It is the cutest thing - we usually don't manage to catch it on camera!
Our first outing in the sling! So tiny and precious!

Ok, the little one is letting us know it's time to eat again!