Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Milo's Birth Story

Milo turned one last week and I had every intention of posting this on his birthday. Unfortunately it was the craziest week of the semester and that just didn't happen. This is mostly for my own benefit, since I had this saved in a Word document and have been a little paranoid that it would somehow get deleted off the computer and I wouldn't be able to recall any of the details. So, as a nod to one of the greatest days, here's the low-down on how Milo entered the world. Beware, there are birth-related terms used here. Read at your own risk.

My due date, April 20, came and went, unsurprisingly. Gehrig was 7 days late, so I sort of always expected to go past my due date this time around. I was feeling really uncomfortable for weeks, especially since baby was so LOW. I think he may have dropped two or three times over the last month. Every time my midwife checked me, she couldn’t believe how low the head was. At my final visits she couldn’t even check me because the head was in the way.

I had Braxton Hicks for weeks, too. Each night they would intensify and I would almost think it was time, but then I would lie down, hoping to wake up and go to the hospital in a couple hours, only to wake up the next morning feeling fine.

I stopped working around April 16th because I was so uncomfortable, tired, and just done. I had arranged sub plans early in the semester so I gladly handed my class over to her.

On Wednesday, the 24th, I had a few visitors since it was my birthday. Jason’s parents brought me Subway for lunch and we ate cupcakes and cookies. Later, my parents came over since my mom was in town visiting my dad, who was working in Grand Rapids for the week. We ate dinner {pizza} and chocolate tea bread and I opened some gifts. I was feeling really cranky and just a little off all evening, but I chalked it up to being 40 weeks preggo, huge, and, umm, how any pregnant woman feels when she's gone past that date she has solidified in her mind as the day she will hold her baby.

On my nightly perch right before my parents left.
My parents left for their hotel around 9pm, after which I lay on the couch, experiencing my usual Braxton Hicks. I watched TV {The Rachel Zoe Project, I think? I wasn’t really paying much attention} and ended up on the floor, assuming different yoga positions to alleviate the tightness in my back and sharp pains shooting down my legs. Around 10:30pm I realized a lot of my discomfort was coming from my contractions, which were coming every 8 minutes or so. After calling my mom to give her a heads up that it was feeling a little different this time, I decided to lay down, like so many times before, and try to sleep. I kept dozing off, but waking up with each contraction. So at 11:30 {?? The times are a little foggy} I got up and told Jason that I really felt like this was it. The contractions were about every 5 minutes at this point and I was definitely breathing through each. I called Brenda, my midwife, and told her what was going on. She said to head to the hospital when I was ready.

This would have been thrilling to me, except I was so worried about false labor {I had been sent home twice with Gehrig} that I decided to take a shower and give things one last chance to slow down. The shower felt good, but things only got more intense once I was out. I called my mom and told her to come over. When she got there at about 1am, I was having really hard contractions every 4 minutes. Putting my shoes on seemed to take forever because I kept pausing to breathe. We finally got packed and ready to go, kissed a sleeping Gehrig goodbye, and headed out the door, but not before my mom snapped these pictures, mid-contraction. I think I was really annoyed at the time, but I'm kind of glad to have them now.

The half-hour drive to the hospital is a bit of a blur. The contractions were so intense and I was starting to feel anxious to get there and get my epidural, a sure sign that this was the real thing. What I remember most clearly about the drive is that we were low on gas. I had filled up the week before since this drive was imminent, but I hadn’t realized Jason took the car a few times and the tank was nearing empty. Luckily {as you’ll see later}, the gas station on our way was closed so we decided to just power through and get to the hospital on E. Thinking back, this should have made me a lot more anxious than it did, but the contractions were consuming my every thought at that point. Apparently Jason was talking to me on the way and was trying to have a normal conversation. He told me some stories about school, but I honestly was not listening even a little bit. At one point he pointed out how bright the moon was. I do have a clear memory of how brightly lit the highway was for 2 in the morning. Looking back, we realized it was a full moon, which explains a lot {apparently going into labor on a full moon is pretty typical. Crazy universe.} As we pulled off onto the exit, the gas light came on. Thank God the hospital was only a block away!

My mom took this picture of the moon on her drive to the hospital.
We pulled into emergency around 3am and went through the process of getting to Labor & Delivery triage. Oh, Labor & Delivery triage…you are always an adventure. And always the worst part of a birth story. When we got to triage, there was one other woman there who we noted sounding similar to a dying cow. That sounds awful. She was having a rough time, ok? Anyway, we got into our room {cell? booth?} and I stressed a little about getting checked. One thing I was never told about labor...Getting your cervix checked is the WORST. Anyway, they checked me and I was dilated to 6 {!!!}, so it was time to get me admitted. My elation about the 6cm was quickly dashed by the general demeanor of our nurse. Homegirl was STRESSED, mostly about the fact that I needed antibiotics for being Group B Strep positive and I was progressing really quickly. {Here's the part where I was really happy that gas station was closed and at least we were at the hospital and not still driving.} Her anxiety quickly transferred to me, but I was more concerned that I wouldn’t have time to get the epidural. And I really really wanted the epidural. Every two minutes, I had to close my eyes and turn inward, breathing as best I could through the contraction. When I asked Nurse Sunshine about my epidural, she scoffed and said, “You''l never get it at all if we can't get you up to labor and delivery!” and she rushed out of the room. I remember sharing a look with Jason like, “What is going on? Isn’t she supposed to be the calm one?”

When they finally got my IV going, they quickly rushed us off to L&D. Poor Jason was told to pull the foot of my bed while Nurse What’s-Her-Deal shouted at him, “Go through the door, dad! No, not that door! Go right! No, left!” Keep in mind, there were about 8 other nurses just lounging by the desk in triage. Why they couldn’t help out, I’ll never know. Cow lady was gone at that point and triage was empty. 

So, we got to our labor and delivery room and my nurse, Erin, was standing outside with my chart. As we pulled up, Nurse Horrid said, “This is…actually, I don’t even know their names!” Angel Erin quickly replied, “This is Brenna and her husband Jason. Come on in.” I loved her immediately.

The room was dimly lit and extremely calm except for the stressed out nurse who, for some reason, stayed in the room to fill out her chart. She kept sighing and scoffing about something on her computer. I asked Jason to play some music {Alexi Murdoch} so that I could stay calm. Erin picked up on my annoyance and ushered her out of the room saying, “You can just text me later.” Peace at last. Well, as much peace as you can have when entering transition…I found that sitting up was much better than laying down. I took to rocking side-to-side and kind of moaning through each contraction. I was doing ok mentally, but was still very focused on getting some relief through the epidural. When Brenda got there at 4:30ish, she checked me and I was dilated to 9. Whoa. I asked tentatively if I could still get the epidural, fully expecting them to tell me it was too late. Brenda said it was totally up to me. “You’re doing great on your own, but if you feel like you need it, we can get them in here right now.” Get them in here right now! The anesthesia team was on standby when we got there, so the nurse went over everything with me and I was finally getting the needle in my back. More than anything, it was a welcome distraction from the seemingly never-ending wave of contractions. Even though the thought of that needle makes me want to vomit, I was happy to have something else to focus on. I’m pretty sure I broke Jason’s hand at some point, though I’m not sure if it was because of the pain of the contractions or the fear of the epidural. Either way, I’m glad he was able to just grin and bear it. Or just bear it. I'm not sure he was grinning.

The epidural worked right away on my right side, which was beautifully relieving. My left side was still feeling everything, so they tipped me to one side and told me to push the button to get more medicine to that side. Push I did. My left side never fully felt the effects of the medicine, but it was enough to take that horrible edge off of the contractions, which were right on top of each other. The nurse tried to empty my bladder, but the babe's head was so far down, she couldn't get the foley cath to my bladder. Knowing how far down he was and how quickly I was progressing, Brenda said to try to rest for a bit, though it wouldn't be long. I had closed my eyes for maybe 15 minutes {it was about 5am now} when I started to feel some pressure. {Full disclosure: I was starting to feel a little pressure before they even gave me the epidural, but I wasn’t about to tell them that}. Brenda came back and I was fully dilated. Time to push! 

Side note: Jason’s parents had come to our house to relieve my mom around 2:30 and when we were in triage Jason told my mom she could head to the hospital since I was being admitted. Things in the L&D room went so quickly though, he hadn’t told her that we were close to meeting baby.

I pushed for about 5 minutes when we heard a knock on the door. It was my mom, totally unaware that it was go-time. I said, “Hi, mom. I’m pushing!” We hadn’t planned on her being in the room, but when the nurse asked if we wanted her to stay, I said yes.

Pushing this time around was so different. With Gehrig, it took about an hour and a half and I had to change positions with almost every contraction. This time, everyone was very quiet, to the point that I had to ask if I was doing ok. They said I was doing great and the baby would be out in a couple more pushes. I just remember the room being so calm and peaceful. You know, aside from the whole pushing and laboring part. Brenda spent most of the time kind of stretching me so I wouldn’t tear {which I’m grateful for, but ugh, that was not comfortable} and then, with another push, all of a sudden he was out and Jason said, “we have 2 boys!” and then they set him on me and wiped him off, all while I stared in disbelief at how quickly it all went and how beautiful he was. 

With my midwife, Brenda.
I hate seeing myself in post-birth pictures, but this one is pretty sweet.
He was born at 5:25am. I love that we know this was almost exactly an hour later. 

So tired, but so happy.
Happy 1st Birthday, Bugs. That was a wonderful day, but you bring even more joy to our lives now.

Monday, April 14, 2014

According to Gehrig

While he cried about a scrape on his finger-
Me: "Drink your juice and maybe it will feel better."
Gehrig: "But the juice will go into my belly, not into my finger."

Gehrig: "Want to hear a song about applesauce?"
Me: "Yeah, let's hear it!"
.....long pause while he was clearly thinking very hard.....
Gehrig:"Just a minute. It's loading."

After coffee and donuts at church a few weeks ago-
"Christ said we could get donuts today!"
{I figured he considered this an answered prayer...}

During church last week, he pointed to the priest and whispered-
"Look, Mom. Theeerrre's Jesus Christ!"
{ that cleared up any misconceptions about God talking to him about pastries.}

More here.