Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Decisions

I mentioned in my last post that I had plans to write about delivering my Charlotte. I have thought about this a lot to be certain that I'm not putting down all the details for the wrong reasons.  It's like every girl on The Bachelor,  "I'm here for the right reasons." Apparently there are wrong reasons- none of us are here for any of those. I love that all the girls say they wouldn't be there for any other guy...just Chris (or whatever dude is the Bach that season)  Ummmm, I'm preeeeeetty sure you would be. For another post...

I want to put my experience down "on paper" for a couple reasons: 1. I think what I went through (call it my "Birth story" if you want- I won't stop you) is an example of having to put expectations and "Birth plans" (ugh) aside and work with what you've got.  2. If you are having similar issues or the same potential roadblocks that I had, perhaps you'll be encouraged and able to relate to a real person- that would be me. and 3rd. I'm not sure, I'll start writing and we'll see what deep life lesson we end up with.

It's really easy to "decide" everything related to having a baby. You decide to get pregnant, decide on seeing a certain doctor and delivering at a certain hospital, you decide what interventions you will and won't use and how the whole thing will go down.  Well, deciding all those things is just fine.  But guess what?  You're not in charge. And once baby is born, you're still not in charge. I have never met a human under 8 pounds with so much authority.  

My husband and I decided we'd start trying to have a baby in late 2014. I come from pretty fertile stock, just ask any of my 49 cousins. Even with that, we were surprised and elated when I got pregnant the very first month. Soon after...we were shocked and devastated when I had an early miscarriage. Our faith gave us hope that our first baby was meant to be in heaven before we even met and that the next time would be seen to fruition. I'm very fortunate to have gotten pregnant again just three months later. Last Christmas we were mourning such a loss, and this Christmas we held a three week old, perfect baby girl. Our decisions didn't matter and we couldn't have planed how things went. While this part of the process isn't typically part of one's "birth story," it's an important piece of my process in learning how to let go of my expectations and plans...and work with what the moment has to offer.

During my pregnancy with Lotti I blogged about nausea, the common symptoms I had (during the appropriate and expected trimesters by the way) and how all was pretty textbook, even my almost-daily bloody noses.  Our baby was going to be delivered in San Diego by a sophisticated doctor that I loved and trusted...and all was well. Then, we were led to move out of California *We ended up in Idaho- and yes there are potatoes here. Although it wasn't our plan and decision initially, at 7 months pregnant, we packed it up and moved to the Gem state.  New everything included a new doctor and new hospital...and soon, a new plan.  By the way, how was a state other than super cool California going to know about all the natural, hippie stuff I wanted for my birth?

About two weeks after moving I was itchier than all get out. Yes- itchy. Something told me to call my nurse. Always listen to your intuition! I had Cholostasis of Pregnancy otherwise known as "Itchy moms." Managing this odd liver/genetically related diagnosis includes delivering early and therefore being induced. Again, not my plan. On the bright side, having baby girl arrive earlier in the month (it was December) meant less interference with Christmas. So there was that.

Now we get to the good stuff. I should preface this by saying that if you have a weak stomach (and are male- the combo could be deadly) or just have no interest in having-babies-talk... You may want to STOP reading here. 

After finding out about the Cholostasis, my doctor gave me weekly ultrasounds to make sure baby was still chillin- but not chillin too much. My girl always passed her baby tests; doing flips in there, fetal breathing and even showing off with occasional hiccups. Dr also began examining me (gals you know what "examining" means when you're at an OBGYN's office).  If by some miracle I was dilating early, inducing wouldn't have been quite as much of an ordeal. How amazing it would have been to go into labor spontaneously before 40 weeks. This didn't happen so much. 

With our doctor, we made a plan to insert (yup, I just said "insert") a balloon catheter inside me in hopes that it would cause me to dilate.  I needed to have Charlotte as close to 38 weeks as possible to ensure she would be born healthy and alive. Yes, ALIVE. The catheter had a small balloon and once inside was filled with fluid to help make things expand (somehow writing "expand" is so much worse than writing "insert.") To keep our minds off my balloon filled cervix, my husband, father who made the trip out to ID, and I decided to go to a brewery and grab some dinner. Normal things. After a pulled pork sandwich, warm bath and rest by our fireplace, I actually was able to get comfortable enough to sleep through the night in preparation for the big day. If I went in the next morning and was dilated enough (whatever that means), delivering without Potocin (the synthetic wannabe of the hormone Oxotocin that makes you labor) was a slim but potential option. I would likely have to be put on that B and if you've looked into "natural childbirth methods" this is not exactly in line, nor does it make it easy to forgo pain medication based on what a B it really is, lemme tell ya. I checked in at 7am and was on Potocin by 8:30. Not even my night's unexpected rest, very green morning smoothie and shampooed hair were enough to get me and my cervix where we needed to be. For those of you that have experienced induction, I went from a level 2 of Potocin to an 18 over the course of 20 hours. Super fun. 

Although I have no sense of time when it comes to my entire labor and delivery (except that it was really long) I believe it was around noon that I was examined again and wasn't any further than a "3," where I began that morning, having had the help of the good 'ol balloon.  In other words we weren't really progressing. Being an idealist I had assured Carol, my first nurse that morning, that I would have the baby by the end of her shift- 3pm that day. Riiiiight. The 12:00 check was concluded with my doctor manually breaking my water. I didn't quite grasp that he was about to do this and may have yelled, "Hey what are you doing in there?!" The manual water breaking hurt. And so it began...

Nurse #2, taking over for Carol, made it clear that once the doc broke the water (strike 2 for a "natural" childbirth plan- dammit) things would really get started. I believe her exact quote was "You think you were killin' those contractions, but now they're going to get real." They got real. That hag Potocin had me contracting every two minutes. Ouch. 

With the constant help and support of my husband, I got into many, many different positions to attempt handling the pain sans pain intervention. I got in a bathtub twice (the second time without a thought about covering any big pregnant body parts. Modesty=gone). I bounced on an exercise ball, leaned over the bed with the ball under my arms, leaned on John (physically and emotionally) and even sat on the toilet.  The whole things is super sexy. Even if you don't think you'll ever have children, my advice- Marry someone that you could do it in front of.

Nobody tells you that once your water is broken you tend to gush lots of different things from that point on.  Weird, this is never included in the movies' depiction of birth.  And there's really just no better verb I can find- gush describes it most accurately.

If you didn't stop reading when I warned you, perhaps you stop now?

Since gushing commenced, moving around in diaper sized pads was now a part of the whole thing. My "Birthing Nature's Way" classmates would commend my various positions chosen over lying on my back in a hospital bed. And don't be fooled- lying on your back is the most painful of them all! Why do they do that in movies? Probably because naked bathtub scenes are only allowed in certain types of film...and those films don't likely include chid births anyway. The problem with being all over the place (position- wise) is that the machines that monitor contractions absolutely suck at monitoring (their sole job) when you are moving about the room. So, why not insert (again with the inserting) an internal monitor? So, then we did that. At least with the internal monitor, I was getting some cred for the contractions I was experiencing! Without it showing on the machine, everyone observing from afar assumed I wasn't progressing and there was a need for more Potocin. Eek. Only my husband who didn't take his eyes off mine, knew every time I was enduring the pain. Guess whether or not doing things "naturally" typically includes internal monitors. Nope.

Midwives and those alike recommend eating and drinking throughout labor to keep up your strength and energy (and attitude I would add). Some things you can't decide- like whether or not you can eat at the hospital. I wasn't allowed to have food as there was a chance I could need a C-section (also not part of the plan). Having broken the water, we were now watching the clock. In case you didn't know, I didn't, infection becomes a fear if you don't deliver within a certain amount of time after your water breaks. Sweet Carol did hook up some broth and a grape flavored popsicle at one point- I got to decide on the flavor. Bonus. Not a bonus: I was still super hungry. Having a baby is a lot of work, this is why they call it labor.

*There is a lot of in between "stuff" that should go here...for the sake of your time and ability to enjoy this post, I'm leaving a few minor details out. Only John and I will ever really be able to visualize this scene- Bless his heart...and lucky you.

Up until this point, aside from my refusing an epidural, you can see that nothing aligned with my natural plans and we had absolutely no choice but to go with the flow.  My "lazy cervix" (what Doc called it in regards to my lack of dilating, rude) and Charlotte were totally in charge.

The most important tip, if you will, that I learned from my birthing class and reading (remember I left my job two months early, lots of time to obsess) was to listen to your body throughout the entire process. This, I could decide to do. Our final nurse of the night (until 4:22am when Lotti arrived) was amazing and respectful of my wishes.  But, she still had orders to follow. Doctor (who you see 3-5 times for 3-5 minutes during your entire labor btw) had ruled against checking my progress, cervix-wise, too often.  Again, with the infection stuff...you get "up there" too often with that broken water going on, you could have some trouble on your hands.  I'm no doctor or nurse, but I am 100% sure that I endured contractions and was "not allowed" to push for longer than necessary (at least an hour OR two, depending on how frisky I feel when I tell the story).  I didn't know that the pushing part would be so glorious (that's not sarcasm oddly enough) but I still wanted to push with everything in me *pun intended. A contraction would come on top of the last and I would clinch my fists and push for a moment then say aloud, "NO!  I can't push!"and somehow stop myself.  I'm a rule follower, what can I say?  Okay, I'm actually not a rule follower, but John was a great partner and would remind me I "couldn't" push yet.  There's a reason "couldn't" is in quotations- because I COULD! I had the most overwhelming urge to push, there was no doubt in my mind.  This is where protocol and the patient potentially conflict.

Eventually, sweet Nurse Megan believed my expert opinion that I was fully dilated and gave me an exam to find that we were in fact very ready to push.

Upon hearing this, my entire demeanor changed.  I could have thrown a party in that delivery room.  I was so, so relieved that we were nearing the end and that everything my body told me it wanted to do, was finally being TOLD it could.

Pushing was absolutely, positively amazing. For me, it didn't hurt. It felt like the most natural thing in the world.  All I wanted the 18.5 hours prior, was to do what I was being able to do in that moment. Having full feeling in my entire body, I knew exactly when, and how long and hard to push. Again with the positions (I get bored easily) I tried 3 different things during my hour and a half pushing party. All worked great for me and none included lying on my back. *I sincerely hope I haven't given you too much of a visual.

After hours of fasting and brutal labor, my sweet husband (with Nurse's permission) gave me sips of iced tea and bites of a chocolate chip cookie in between pushes. Our wonderful hospital staff brought him this snack hours before- it was now my snack. With John at my head (trust me, this is where you'll want him) I was being fed sweets and caffeine, and pushing like it was my job- a job that I loved.

Doctor returned to do the final deed and Charlotte Grace was on the scene.  A healthy (2 week early) 6 pound 10 ouncer. How blessed we were...and how absolutely HIGH I felt. Not a single complication within her little body, and dark wavy hair for days.

Its been over 6 weeks and I still lie in bed and run through the experience over and over in my mind. I am thankful my body could do what it needed to do and for the incredible experience I had delivering my precious girl.

Now...I'm tired...but over the moon for this sweet baby.
Somehow she even thrills me at 3am.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Surviving the holidays and the flu

As of December 5th we have a BABY. I'd love to make my first post with said baby (Charlotte Grace, the most precious baby in the whole entire world) be my...ready for it..."Birth Story" but I'm not going to. And let me just say, I'm really against (or maybe intrigued with?) everything becoming a "thing" these days- including how one has their baby. It's not just telling people about how the delivery of your baby went. It's your "Birth Story" and is a "thing" that must be both inspirational and horrid at the same time. Good thing mine totally is, but that's for another day...and that post won't be titled "My Birth Story," I promise.

Today I have to instead write about having the flu, in the midst of the holidays, with a newborn.

I completely understand NOW how entire blogs are devoted to having children, running a household blah blah blah. There's kind of a lot to it.  Until 3 months ago I had never owned a home, and until 3 weeks ago never owned a baby. Today both need to be taken care of and I have the fricken FLU.  I'm not the first in this house to have this God forsaken virus as my husband had a miserable version of it (strand I guess I should say) and is still getting over it.  Luckily he got well enough to function just as it hit me for real.  Last night while he camped out in the nursery with the babe (he's just so good) I was able to have my second 13-hour night's sleep alone in our bedroom. We've become pretty good at the whole quarantine thing. Confession: A week ago I fantasized super hard about getting to sleep through an entire night. Doing it because of NyQuil and not being able to comfort my baby when I hear her cries = The Worst. So not worth the sleep.  Whodathought.

What I would normally be doing today (or even days ago) would be taking down every *green and red thing in my house, cleaning up all post flu germs by washing that blanket on the ottoman that all the kleenex were thrown on etc, and planning what the New Year would hold- things like Mom2Mom group on Tuesday mornings, workout plans and what needs to be organized in 2015. To most, waiting to do the things listed above wouldn't be that big of a deal, but I happen to be completely crazy.  How do I cope you ask?
*Some battles aren't worth fighting.  Husband and big kids love the traditional red and green, colored lights on the Christmas tree thing. Fighting for white lights and a silver/gold motif that would be more suitable for family room decor is only worth so much energy.

I can't handle the baby with whatever ailment is going through my body but I can, after thorough hand washing, wash her bottles (yes my baby is both breastfed and bottle fed, don't judge #mommywarsisa"thing").  I can keep cleaning up after my other family members (big kids are home for Winter Break) and slowly take Christmas crap into the front room that we use for storage e.g. glittery votives here and there, useless Santa tea towels, things of that nature. I have gotten in a few essential loads of laundry and unloads of the dishwasher when hopped up on the DayQuil.  These things help the household as a whole, as well as my sanity.  Feeling productive is a cure-all for this nutty blonde.

I couldn't be more THANKFUL for my husband (who gets the "BEST" award in two categories now) and our big girls- they're actually extremely tiny but happen to be 18 and 19 years old which equals "big" in my book. Everyone has jumped in to help and been flexible with plans since the flu hit our house. I mean, how many times is Mommo (that's me) really allowed to postpone making that pumpkin pie? It was going to be a Christmas Eve, Christmas and then New Year's treat...and the can of condensed milk still sits in the pantry. We're all doing what we can.

Being sick now is so much worse than it would have been just a month ago. But...this too shall pass.  Onto the next year- hopefully one of health, wealth and prosperity!

P.S. Is my baby super cute or what?