Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Being Nora's Mommy

I have been so busy lately. But in a totally new way. We have been so lucky, since Nora has been a pretty easy baby. We know that it will surely get more difficult but so far our transition into parenthood has been amazing. Our little girl only wakes up once a night and only really fusses when she is hungry/overstimulated.

The first moment that I saw her, I knew I loved her. But the first emotion I really deeply felt was relief. Relief that she was healthy, that everything was where it should be, and relief that labor was over. Then the worry set in - was I going to be the mom that she would need? Over the past few weeks trepidation and worry has been replaced by a very intense and unexplainable love and protectiveness. Or rather these feelings have been there all along and every day I realize them more and more. It really is the best feeling the world. I love the feeling I get when I hold her, when I make her cries stop. I love feeling her hand wrapped around my finger, her feet against my arm when I am feeding her. I love being a mom.

I can't believe that is has already been nearly four weeks. The time has just flown by. I hate thinking about going back to work, especially since I haven't accomplished any of the things that are on my to-do list. We have spent most of our time being with friends and family, and I prefer that anyway. It has been an awesome experience to watch our parents and siblings become grandparents, aunt, and uncles.We want her to grow up knowing that she has a wide network of love and support. I had a great relationship with my extended family as a child (it got harder to see everyone once we moved to Colorado), and I want the same for her.

So far, we are:
  • Co-sleeping -  We alternate between a bassinet next to our bed and our bed. It has been working out really well. I am usually the one to wake up with her, since she only gets up once a night and Rob can't feed her anyway at this point.
  • Exclusively breastfeeding - also working out wonderfully. I bought a pump but haven't tried to use it yet, although I know that I need to soon since I do have to go back to work in a few weeks.
  • Baby-wearing - We have only been able to use our carriers a few times since she just now at the minimum weight requirements, but Rob has used the Bjorn a few times and I have used the Moby wrap twice (We also have an Ergo). We both love baby-wearing.
  • Using disposable diapers - We are thinking about trying cloth but I have a feeling that our situation will make it too inconvenient between our work schedules and the amount of time we are out and about. That being said, we are very aware of the negative impact disposables have on the environment statistics on disposables so we are still on the fence.
Nora has been out to restaurants, to estate sales, to the mall, and to the mountains to see the changing leaves. And she has been a complete doll every time we have dared to take her out in public. Our hope for her is that she will comfortable in a variety of situations so that we can go anywhere as a family.

Unrelated - I need to figure out the computer/picture issue because I have a backlog of close to 2000. Expect a lot of photos when I have the time to sort that out. In the meantime, here are a few that my sister Teresa took/edited.

Uncle Daniel - don't ask about the hat.

My mom took this one, one of my favorites.

Father and Daughter.

Aunt T, as Teresa would like to be called.

Great-grandma and grandma (Rob's grandmother and mom).

Nana Anna (My mom)

Our first family photo

Many, many, more to come. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eleanor's birth, part 2

After the tub and the all fours position, I had another cervical check. 2.5. Awesome, all that pain for half a centimeter. At that point I was exhausted and discouraged. I asked if there was anything that I could get to help me relax between the contractions and Amber obliged by bringing me a bag of fentanyl. Strike three against my birth plan.

The medication did not do much for my pain, but it did help me to relax between contractions. The result was me being completely silent and out of it between contractions, punctuated with random and meaningless cries for mercy. This went on for a few hours. I heard the conversations around me, but wasn't really able to participate. I occasionally would interject a little nugget of wisdom, like apologizing to my sister for her seeing my "lady bits," or a reminder to Rob that he should take out his contacts if his eyes hurt. It was surreal to say the least.

At some point another cervical check was performed and surprise of all surprises, I was dilated to 8 cm! That meant nearly 5 cms in just under 3 hours. Finally I could put to rest my fears of being administered pitocin, although at that point I didn't care about much besides getting the baby OUT. Rob put on a Velvet Underground album, then the movie Endless Summer. I laid in bed and cried. Amber mentioned that I some point I would feel the urge to push and to let her know when that came on. It was around 1am when I registered that I was indeed feeling that feeling, and that is when the real action started.

The doctor was called, a table of instruments suddenly appeared, and Amber began to coach me on how to push. It took me several contractions to get the hang of it, and while the contractions still hurt like hell, pushing was oddly relieving. At some point the doctor showed up, and 44 minutes after I began to push, little Eleanor Jean Organ made her way into the world. Rob, who had been sitting next to me holding my leg the whole time, was the one who told me it was a girl. I hope I never forget exactly what he said and how he said it: "It's a... It's a girl!" He cut the cord and she was placed on my chest. All I could say was "She is so beautiful, you are so beautiful." In the background I could hear the theme song to the Endless Summer playing to the DVD menu.

I felt so good at that point. My body did it, my baby was perfect, everything was perfect. After I was cleaned up, the doors opened and the rest of our family poured in to meet Eleanor. I just sat back, amazed that the baby in the room was mine. I was pregnant, and I gave birth, and now I was a mother.

Even though the experience was not what I thought it would be, it worked out just fine. In retrospect, I think if I had been more focused and relaxed I wouldn't have needed the IV drugs. Although I do have to say that all the nurses were quite impressed that I didn't get an epidural by choice - the hospital I delivered at has an 85% epidural rate. Next time around I plan on using both a midwife and a doula and will have the same goal of a natural birth.

My recovery is going well. I was up and walking around the next day - which also seemed to impress the hospital staff. We went home on Saturday, a day earlier than planned, because Eleanor and I were doing so well. Not to say that I didn't hurt - I hurt quite a bit. In fact, my two "small tears" are still hurting. But the funny thing is, I can barely remember what the contractions felt like. It is so true that once you give birth, you forget what the pain felt like. I would do it all ten time over, happily. I think about that time in the hospital the way I do past vacations - nostalgic, happy, ready to go right back to that moment and place.

Oh, and we took her home in the shirt Rob was wearing the day I met him - $9 dollar Wal-Mart flannel.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Birth Story, Part 1

I wrote this out for myself and it was something like 17,000 words, so I thought I had better write an abridged version here. I can honestly say that it was the most amazing time of my life and while it didn't happen the way I had pictured it in my head, I am so happy and content with how it did work out.

Monday, August 29th was my due date. I was having Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing painful. I had my 40 week check-up that morning where I learned that I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced. While that showed my body was making some progress, labor did not seem imminent and so the conversation turned towards induction. It was decided that unless the baby came mid-week, I would come back for tests on Friday and then most likely be induced the following Tuesday, September 6th (day after Labor Day).

I was disappointed since I wanted a totally natural birth, but tried to stay optimistic. I worked that Monday and decided that I would work from home for the next few days so I could focus on kick starting labor (Rob and I took many, many walks towards the end). On Wednesday I was so stressed out about not being in labor that I decided I would just take vacation days Thursday and Friday and focus on myself for the last few days before I became a mother (assuming that Tuesday would indeed be the day).

Ha. 5:30 am Thursday morning I woke up with a cramping sensation in my lower abdomen. I was pretty sure it was nothing, because my body was going to fail me and I was definitely going to be induced, remember? When the pain didn't subside after 45 minutes I decided to wake Rob up. Not because I thought I was in labor, but because I knew he would be mad if I didn't. He woke up and we timed a few of the "contractions."

Totally inconsistent.

So we took a walk around the block and timed a few more.

Still inconsistent.

So I sent Rob to work. He reluctantly obliged, but gave me strict orders to stay on my birthing ball and not to even think about anything not related to having "his" baby. All morning long I kept having these contractions. They never were consistent, but they did become increasingly painful as the morning wore on. Shortly before noon I decided that I better shower in case I did end up at the hospital. I called Rob and let him know that the contractions were not subsiding, just as an FYI, and of course he took it as a sign to come home. While he showered up, I called my mom and she offered to come over. By the time she arrived, with my sister in tow, it was about 3pm. The four of decided to see if a nice long walk would help move things along so we headed over to a local mall, Colorado Mills. Incidentally, Colorado Mills is where Rob and I met back in 2006.

My contractions were distractingly painful at that point, but according to my mothers stopwatch app, still not consistent. Rob insisted that I call the doctor, who suggested that I head to the hospital anyway. As she put it, since I was past due, they wouldn't send me home anyway. That really hit me hard. I was going to be a mother that night, one way or another. Either my body would do the job on its own, or I would be induced. Either way we were leaving the hospital as a family of three.

We arrived at the hospital around 6pm and the receptionist asked who we were there to visit. I was in such a daze that all I could do was point to my stomach. I couldn't even manage the words to explain that I was in labor. I couldn't even think that to myself, that I was in labor. It was very surreal.
Once settled into the L&D room, a nurse did a cervical check and gave me some really disappointing news: I was only 2 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I was terrified, sure that pitocin was in my future. The nurse suggested I take a walk, and we took a short stroll around the L&D floor. After about 10 minutes, I suggested we watch some television. I figured that if contractions all day long only opened me 1 cm, walking wasn't really going to do much for me at that point. Besides, I was actually pretty tired at that point.

We went back to the room and put on a movie my mom had brought, Drive Angry. It was actually pretty perfect as a distraction from the pain, and I don't normally even like action movies. It was a little strange since nurses seemed to walk in for all the worst moments (lots of blood and boobs), but I was in too much pain to even really notice. At 7 pm the night nurse, Amber, took over (I can't say enough nice things about Amber. She was so amazing throughout the whole experience).

By 7, the contractions were really painful. I also felt nauseated and after throwing up the first time ( I believe I threw up a total of 3-4 times before it was all said and done), Amber determined that I was dehydrated. I ended up with IV fluids, which was not part of my birth plan, but I can only blame myself for not drinking enough water that day (unusual for me, but I was distracted). After an hour, another check and more disappointing news: only 2.5 dilated. I was so upset. How could I be in so much pain and still barely be in labor? Part of the answer to that had to do with the fact that somewhere along the line, the baby had turned and was now facing the wrong way. That meant that I was having the dreaded "back labor."

To distract myself from the pain and the disappointment, I asked if I could labor in the tub for a while (Every L&D room has a Whirlpool tub for that very purpose). I hopped in and felt some relief immediately. I had planned on being modest and wearing a bikini, but by that point I was over caring who saw what. The only people in the room besides the medical team where Rob, my mother, and my sister anyway, so no one who was going to judge what they saw. Besides, since they all planned on watching the birth, a naked me was the least of the sights they would be seeing.

I lost track of time, but I must have been in the tub for at least 45 minutes. At that point, the intensity of the pain picked up, and my stamina was shot. I got out of the tub, threw up again, and received anti-nausea meds. Strike two against my birth plan. I was happy with my decision though, because vomiting mid-contraction was one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life. Amber suggested I spend a few contractions on all fours since that position can sometime turn a sunny-side up baby around. Perfect, I thought - laboring in different positions was one of the natural pain management techniques I had wanted to try. That lasted all of about 5 minutes before I determined that I was in too much pain to do anything besides curl up on my side and zone out. No breathing, no massage, no room for anything but the occasional outburst of "Please stop this! I can't do it anymore!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Music from Eleanor's birth

I am working on my birth story, along with other random thoughts about my new motherhood that I wanted to share. In the meantime, here are a few songs that will forever remind me of September 1-2, 2011.

The only way to describe how I felt the moment Nora was born.

From the album we were listening to during labor:

The movie we watched at the end of labor (Drive Angry got things started):

And via Kyle, (who wrote a beautiful post about the birth), the song that reminds her of that night (and now me too):

Friday, September 9, 2011

Week 1

I can't believe that she has already been here a week. It has flown by! We are so lucky to have an incredibly laid back baby. She hardly fusses and only really cries when she is hungry. I plan on writing out her birth story but have found it so hard to tear myself away from her to actually take the time to do so. And to top it off, I have been having issues uploading my photos. Here are a few that I managed to get uploaded.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eleanor Jean

My daughter made her way into the world at 2:25 this morning. She is beautiful and we are in love. Birth story and pictures coming soon.