31 October 2011

Early Adventures in Parenting

Newsflash: kids don't come with instruction manuals.  They do, however, produce an enormous learning curve for their parents upon arrival.  Here are a few anecdotes and lessons that we've learned in the short time we've had our little man.

Burp like a man!
One of the many joys of baby-rearing is feeding and watching him grow.  Part of the feeding process involves burping.  And burping my son is, at times, altogether hilarious.  There's a variety of ways to burp a baby, and having a kid with chubby cheeks makes one of those ways very enjoyable.  To achieve said enjoyment, you must sit the kid up with one hand underneath his chin holding him upright in a sitting position, freeing your other hand to pat him on the back.  By holding his head up from his chin/neck, his chubby cheeks seem to just *multiply*. And our little dude always gets this un-thrilled look on his face as if to say, "Mom, the clock's ticking. Knock off this crap, and get me back to the goodies."

Purple mouth
The rugrat recently had his 1 month appointment, and he got a good report on all fronts.  After meeting with the Peed << that would be short for Pediatrician, folks >>, the Lactation Consultant wanted to see how we're doing with the breastfeeding. She also gave us a good report, however I've been dealing with something known as thrush for a few weeks now. My milk jugs were given a treatment of "purple paint" with the instructions to let them dry for a half hour and then it would be fine to feed the baby.

Later on baby wakes up ready to eat.  I latch him on and he starts in... he detaches briefly and all I see is purple!!! His mouth, his tongue, his lips, and when I go to wipe, it got ALL over his cheeks too.  Epic New Parent Fail.  I was mortified. I imagined he'd be painted purple for a week!  I kept thinking people would see him and wonder why he'd been given a lollipop.

Here's a video showcasing both the burp method and 
the poor little dude with his purple mouth.

He's sleeping... Momma can't move.
Everyone tells you to sleep when your baby sleeps.  And sometimes I do.  Other times I capitalize on time to do things like put on makeup, fix my hair, wash some laundry, and even eat.  I had a fussy baby one afternoon when I was flying solo << the hubs had already gone back to work >> and I was trying a variety of positions to get him to fall asleep.

The magic position that hour ended up being for him to lie flat across my lap on his tummy.  Worked like a charm.  Until I realized that it was close to 2 pm and I needed to warm up some leftovers to call lunch.  *Facepalm* Despite my hunger pangs, I did think to take a photo.

Eventually I did get the courage to gingerly relocate him so that I could eat.

28 October 2011

Baby Came In a Hospital, Part 2

Check out the previous post to orient yourself to this one...

It was D-Day and we arrived to the hospital at 5:15 am. They started the Pitocin right away, and contractions were coming full force by 7:15 am. It just so happens that our nurse on the 8a - 3p shift had worked as a doula at the birthing center for 5 years prior to going to work as a labor and delivery nurse in the hospital.  We *loved* her! She was on the exact same page as we were.  When I mentioned to the nurse how asking someone to run a marathon and telling them all they can eat is popsicles and ice chips to fuel their efforts is a little ridiculous, she agreed.  She agreed!  I went on to ask her, hypothetically of course, if a woman were to find herself in labor and were to eat a spoon of peanut butter and have some G2 for fuel if that would be a good choice. She hypothetically said yes. You know how I said at the end of this post  that despite our disappointment at not delivering baby at the birthing center that God showed up? I'm just sayin'...

Okay, back to labor... I had the best labor coaches in the world- the hubs and my sister Jules, with the occasional cameo from my mom.  The nurses were also great support, and one of the midwifes from the birthing center was in and out all day too.  I felt such support surrounding me and felt so well cared for that it was extraordinarily easy for me to be entirely focused internally on the process my body was going through.

If you've never had the experience, contractions offer a finite amount of pain as your body goes through the process of preparing to deliver a baby.  During each "rush," the whole point is to tolerate the pain until it passes. The actual pushing doesn't come until the very end.

Looking back on it, I think the hubs and I would both agree that the day existed outside of normal, linear time.  During each contraction I had my eyes closed << in anticipating labor, I thought I would want to focus on something visually, but not so much when it was go time >>, and at first they came not too hard and about 5 minutes apart. Of course they ramped up in frequency and duration as the pitocin continued to drip.  I would do a variety of things to get through each contraction: focused breathing, walking, moving around on the exercise ball, listening to the music playing, talking and laughing.  Sometimes the midwife and the nurse would offer counter pressure on the back of my hips which provided great relief, even though I didn't have back labor << thank God! >>.

So I labor, and labor, and labor some more.  Periodic checks indicate slow but fairly steady progress, and shortly after lunchtime we agreed to have my water broken.  Around mid-afternoon I had some significant nausea and even threw up a couple of times.  For a while I labored in an over-sized bathtub which was glorious. As we got further into the evening, I was showing all the signs and symptoms of a woman close to delivery.

A check at 9:15 pm indicated I was dilated to just 6 cm, and baby still hadn't descended all the way into the birth canal.  By this point I'd been laboring for 14 hours straight, and get this: I fell asleep for 15 minutes.  Fifteen minutes! The contractions didn't slow down or stop during that time- my exhaustion masked the pain in order for my body to rest... remember how I said insomnia hit hard at the end of my pregnancy?  I was in labor after 2 nights in a row of just 3 hours of sleep... I'm still amazed thinking back that I slept through 6 or 7 hard contractions.

A little while later Dr. Midwife comes in and talks to us about the sitch.  Despite hard contractions that were no more than 1 minute apart, baby wasn't making his way down << oh wait... let me guess.... could it be because he's a stubborn little fellow who likes to do things on his terms and in his time? >> .  Effectively, labor stalled and baby said, "I'm not budging."

One option was to increase the pitocin and monitor the contractions from the inside to keep a closer eye on progress and on the baby; however, because the baby hadn't descended into the canal enough, it wasn't definite whether or not this intervention would ultimately lead to a natural childbirth.  The other option was a C-Section.

If you'd asked me before I was in labor how I felt about the possibility of having my baby surgically removed from my body, you would have gotten an ear full.

After experiencing 15 1/2 hours of labor after a week and a half of trying every possible natural labor inducer, the hubs and I had total conviction that we had tried absolutely everything to get the baby out naturally. In that moment, we were both filled with peace that God had other plans, despite the plans that we had made.

In the end, little dude ignored his Final Eviction Notice and the officials had to go in and force him out, belongings and all.  At 10:35 pm we agreed to a c-section, and baby boy arrived at 10:54 pm.

Get this: in the OR, doc delivers our son and he hands the "scissors" to David to cut the umbilical cord.  Afterwards the nurses were like, "Oh my gosh, Dads never get to cut the cord in the OR!"  That's just one example of how blessed we were through the whole process- our OBGYN broke all the rules to follow our birth plan as closely as he could.

Now let me just say that when I laid eyes on our boy, I blubbered like a baby << just not like a newborn baby- did you know newborns don't cry actual tears? >>.  All of the effort, the emotion, the excitement- all of it brought me to this glorious moment when I fell in love all over again and for the first time ever, and new heart and brain matter began to form that just didn't exist before my son.

When we're coming out of the OR, I couldn't take my eyes off of our son, wrapped snugly in my arms.  I do recall hearing our dear friend's 4 year old son say to his papa, "Look! They found Joaquin!"

Baby Came In a Hospital, Part 1

In the last post  I shared what I went through the week or so before our little dude arrived as we tried everything under the sun to provoke labor in order to deliver at the birthing center.

Nothing worked. When 41 weeks came and went, we were instructed by the birthing center to go to the hospital to be induced.

Here's a joke for you:
What's the quickest way to make God laugh? ...........................
.................................................................................................................................................................. Make your own plans!

The day before induction day, we went to the hospital for a tour and brief orientation so that we'd know where to go and what to do at 5 am the next day.  So we're standing at the reception desk downstairs, and there are 3 women waiting for the elevator... it just so happens that 1 woman is the chair of the Board of Directors at the birthing center, the 2nd woman is a midwife who works at the birthing center, and the 3rd woman is a midwife interviewing for a job at the birthing center.  This was surprisingly comforting in light of our hearts desire to deliver at the birthing center and our deep disappointment with the news that under no uncertain circumstances we would be delivering at the hospital.

Did I mention that first woman, the chair of the Board, is the wife of the doctor who would attend our birth? He has a real name, but his nickname is Dr. Midwife. It's rumored that the guy keeps an inflatable tub in his vehicle in case a patient wants a water birth. It also just so happens that he delivered my cousin and my step-brother.  You know how I said at the end of the last post that God showed up? I'm just sayin'...

These 3 women were like mother birds taking us- 2 scared little baby birds- under their wings and upstairs for a tour. They were encouraging, they were supportive, and they set us up with a nurse who was able to take us around and show us what we could expect the next day.

Let me clarify something.  We're not anti-hospital, and we don't oppose medicine or medical practice.  Simply put, we wanted the most natural childbirth experience possible, and we believed that we'd achieve that without a lot of extra effort by delivering our son at the birthing center << example: 90% of women who deliver a baby in the hospital ask for an epidural... call me crazy, but I didn't want one- didn't even want to be offered one >>.

So the long and short of it is, after months and months of planning, hoping, wishing, and praying for a natural delivery at the crunchy granola birthing center up the road from our house, we were destined to deliver baby in the hospital.

That night I think I slept about 3 hours, which was the same amount of sleep I'd had the previous night.  Insomnia hit me hard at the end of the pregnancy.  Let me just go ahead and put it out there now, folks, they call it labor for a reason- it's HARD WORK. Even harder to do with not a lot of gas in the tank.

Again, folks, favorite joke of all time: quickest way to make God laugh is to make your own plans...  Read on for delivery day details!

26 October 2011

Leading up to Baby's Arrival

I really wanted to name this post, "How to Evict a Full-Term Baby from Hotel Uterus," but as you'll discover if you read on, nothing we tried actually worked.

Our son had ZERO intentions of coming on his own anytime around his due date.  Due to my << fluke >> diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes, our care providers were unable to allow us to deliver at the birthing center after 41 weeks. Typically they can deliver a baby anytime between 37 and 42 weeks, but the GD diagnosis shaved off one of those weeks, so when we hit 40 weeks we knew we had to pull out all the stops to get this kid to MOVE IT ON OUT.

Following is a summary of our efforts, which were many and extensive.

08/24 - 40 weeks, 3 days Wednesday's appointment involved an exam where it was discovered I had a "dimple" of dilation << that's nowhere near 1 cm >>. Dr's orders were to go home and have sex.

Giggle, giggle

08/25 - 40 weeks, 4 days Thursday's appointment involved an ultrasound to check and measure baby, followed by another exam. At that point I was dilated to 1 cm, and the midwife agreed we'd try a foley bulb catheter.  Basically, the cath goes in past the cervix and is then filled with saline, creating a balloon inside the uterus that stretches the cervix open to a few centimeters before it falls out naturally.  They "installed" the deal-e-yo and I was sent home with cramps and a tube taped to my thigh (the tube hanging down was by far the worst part of it).

That night I went with my sister to get a pedicure, which has a reputation for putting women into labor.

I also ate a boatload of the green salsa from Chez Guevara, which has a reputation for putting women into labor.

08/26 - 40 weeks, 5 days On Friday morning, the cath fell out and it was sweet glorious relief!  The thing itself didn't hurt- it was just uncomfortable having a tube hanging down, taped to my leg. What followed were cramps and Braxton-Hicks contractions, but still no active labor.

08/27 - 40 weeks, 6 days Saturday we went to the clinic at 1 pm to have a procedure known as "sweeping the membranes" done. It was quick, but I can't say it was painless. It was tolerable, barely. Dr's orders were to go home and have sex.

Giggle, giggle

08/28 - 40 weeks, 7 days Sunday began with 2 oz. of Castor Oil mixed with 2 oz. of G2 at about 7 am. My instructions were to repeat the dosage if there was no action 2 hours later.  About 90 minutes in I was headed for the throne.  One dose was plenty for me.  There are horror stories all over about Castor Oil, and most OBGYN's will tell you it's of the devil, it's useless, it's an old-wives tale, etc.

I decided early on, in light of my desire to give birth at the clinic and not in the hospital, that I'd have an open mind about trying everything out there to encourage labor to start naturally.

It wasn't SO bad. The worst part was having a raw butt hole. I can say that, right? It's like anytime you have diarrhea- and let's face it, we've all eaten something at some point in our lives that gave us Montezuma's revenge where we've spent more time in the bathroom than out.  No matter how soft the TP, rubbing it on your bum so frequently in such a short time span will leave any a-hole tender and raw.  After all the poopin' I had consistent and hard Braxton Hicks contractions and cramping.

41 Weeks
08/29 - 41 weeks, 1 days Monday morning arrived and, surprise (!!):  still no labor. After another physical exam I was 3 cm dilated.  Dr's orders were to arrive at St Mary's in the morning to be induced.

This did not provoke a "giggle giggle" from either of us.

** After 9 months of anticipating labor and delivery, in my mind this was the worst-case-scenario-train pulling into the station, and I had a one-way ticket and no choice but to get on board. **

I pretty much fell apart at this point.  I felt sad, disappointed, afraid, frustrated, angry, unsure -and probably a few other feelings too- I hit a low point. I just about cried my eyes out.

Later that afternoon we went to St Mary's to have a tour and get an idea of what we could expect the next morning.  I was moderately composed by the time we arrived to the hospital.

And lo and behold, God showed up. Check out the next post for details on our delivery!