Thursday, August 23, 2012

They See Me Rollin'

Linus has been thisclose to rolling over a good month. Each day during tummy time, we waited with baited breath as he rocked, wobbled, and Super Man-ed about, holding up that giant baby head of his.

He is full of surprises, though.

Instead of that belly to back nonsense that we were sure was just about to happen, Linus decided it would be more fun to whip out some baby gymnastics (practically out of nowhere) and go from back to belly first.

We're still waiting on him to go in reverse. Tummy time is still full of anticipation. I'll report back on that soon.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Giraffes vs. Elephants

I've been inadvertantenly setting Linus up to be unsure about the difference between giraffes and elephants. Apparently, I can't seem to keep these two mammals straight these days! Or, perhaps I think giraffes are elephants in disguise? Either way, I keep catching myself referring to all of his giraffe toys as elephants. Oddly, I haven't had the opposite issue. Why? I have absolutely no idea.

Whatever it is, I can't seem to stop, even when I am actively putting all my brain power into remembering the proper name for those long-necked, brown and yellow animals every time I reach for Sophie. And, sometimes, it still comes out as "elephant".

Hopefully, I'll do better at teaching him the rest of the animals!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

This Time Last Year

This time last year I was giddy, anxious, excited, overwhelmed, overjoyed, fatigued, nauseous, exhilerated, and so many other things.

This time last year I was newly pregnant. I knew, Dan knew, a random Physician's Assistant who stitched Dan's finger knew, my sister may have known by this point, but that was all. It was a fun (and difficult!) a secret to keep. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

This time last year, we were just beginning the adventure of a lifetime. We felt wholly prepared for this moment, and wholly unprepared at the same time. There was abundant joy at knowing that there was life growing inside of me. But, I was also a nervous wreck. Life as we knew it was about to change forever. Were we really ready? Is anyone ever really ready to become a parent?

This time last year, our pregnancy was underwraps for nine long weeks until after my first pre-natal appointment. After that, we slowly let the joy overflow, first letting our parents in on the secret (with hilariously endearing reactions from all of them), then our siblings, then close friends, and more then distant friends and acquaintances.

This time last year, we didn't even know Linus yet. It seems almost unbelievable that there was a time when he wasn't in our lives. We didn't know if we would become parents to a little boy or a little girl. We didn't know anything about our baby's personality. But, even with so many unknowns, we were already falling in love.

This time last year, everything was so new. I started to look at the world differently, knowing everything was about to change. I feel like I have changed so much in the past year. I believe that there is no way to go through pregnancy and childbirth without being reborn yourself, in some ways. Those first weeks of excitement and uncertainity seem like ages ago.

This time last year, I became a mom.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Baby's First Camping Trip

The beautiful scenery that awaited us in NY. 

Vacations have been few and far between for Dan and I over the past couple of years, so we are extremely thankful for any time we're able to get away. This past weekend, we were able to take a couple days off to do some camping in upstate New York. Not only were we glad to get a few days away from work, but we were especially excited to take Linus on his a first trip to a place that holds a lot of memories for us.

On the way up to Gouverneur! Linus slept for most of the 6 hour trip, but spent part of the ride absolutely mesmerized by the Warning label on his car seat. Must be all the black and white. It cracked me up that he would suddenly be drawn to it and then practically go cross-eyed trying to look at it.

Having some tummy time outside on the deck shortly after arriving

Dan grew up camping in Gouverneur, NY. His family owns land there, complete with a small trailer and a lean-to with a fire place. It's absolutely lovely and a huge part of his life. I first went up to Gouverneur with his family in 2005. It was on that trip that Dan first told me that he loved me, so, of course, it's quite dear to my heart as well.

Getting a kiss from his cousin, Violet. (fun fact: they were caught by the same midwife!)

We definitely got a lot of use out of our Ergo on this trip!

We joined most of our ever-growing family on Dan's side, including his mom, his two older sisters, and their husbands and children. Since the space in the trailer is at a premium (especially with the addition of three little ones in less than a year), we brought up our tent to camp outside.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting the chance to dry Linus's diapers outside in the sun! 

Linus's cousin, Ellie, posing for me before lunchtime 

We were a little nervous about how Linus would fare sleeping in the tent, but he did great! Our set up was pretty basic, since we co-sleep at home anyway. We laid our sleeping bags out and brought the mattress from Linus's co-sleeper to lay next to them. He was basically still in his own bed, just without the sides. It worked out pretty perfectly, and we didn't need to haul up his entire co-sleeper (which wouldn't really have fit in our tent anyway) or buy anything new.

This little lady, Evelyn, is older than Linus by a mere 4 weeks! It's been such a treat to watch them grow up together 

"Hello, my name is Linus, and I am the cutest baby ever." ;)

Most of the vacation was spent hanging out around the trailer. We took a few short walks, played with the kids, juggled all the napping schedules as best we could, and got some reading in. Our only "excursion" was on Friday. We all drove into town for the St. Lawrence County Fair where we ate way too many french fries and saw lots of farm animals.

Posing (accidentally) with the sheep's bum!

Dan's Fried Dough! 'Nuff said

The fair done tuckered him out! 

Overall, it was a pretty perfect first vacation for Linus. My only regret is that it wasn't longer!

Family photo before leaving for home. I think Linus has the "over the shoulder" look down!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Birth Story Part 3: Triumphant

This is the final installment of my birth story. You check out part one here, and part two here.

It was determined that I needed an internal monitor (and I thought the external ones were uncomfortable!), although at this point, I can‘t quite remember why. When Ann went to insert it (my second internal examine), I was six centimeters dilated. She also noticed that, despite all the leaking, my caul was still mostly intact. Thinking it might help the process along, Ann broke my bag of waters with an amniohook.

I was shocked that there was still so much amniotic fluid in there! I felt a warm rush from between my legs, soaking the bed. The sheets were quickly and quietly switched out.

I’m not sure what time it was at this point. Maybe 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.? But, it wasn’t too long before things really started to pick up (finally!).

I began to feel the contractions. I was actually pretty excited, at first. After each one I would look at Dan and exclaim “I had a contraction!”. We exchanged a few high fives and hugs. We would be meeting our baby soon!

Next thing I knew, I was in active labor. In what seemed like no time, my contractions went from fairly mild and well spaced, to one right on top the other. I tired to remember the wisdom of the doula that taught our birth class and to focus on the time in between the contractions so that I wasn’t focusing on the pain. I breathed deeply and made low, groaning sounds as I exhaled, which was immensely helpful compared to the times when I lost my focus and let out high-pitched screams.

As the contractions grew in intensity, I was out of that bed like a shot. It was so uncomfortable, and at that point, there was no way anyone would be forcing me to lay down or stay put, beeping monitors be damned! I think I ripped off that ridiculous finger monitor at one point, too. And, at some point, I also ripped off my hospital gown. Partly in rebellion, and partly because I couldn’t take the feeling of it on my skin. When Ann returned, with a new nurse in tow, I was standing I the room stark naked.

Ann brought in a birth ball and we placed it on the bed. I stood, draped over it, swaying back and forth, moaning (sometimes screaming), and doing my best to focus. The intensity of the contractions had come on so quickly (ironic, after the hours of nothing) that I started to worry I might not be able to do it. But, be it stubbornness, or sheer determination, I was not willing to even entertain the idea of drugs. This was a major part of my birth plan. I was going to do this as naturally as I could at this point and no one was going to take that away from me.

Around 10:00 or 11:00, I was kind of in a haze, but heard Daniel chatting with Ann, trying to decide when he should call my parents so that my mom could be present for the birth. He asked how much longer it would be, and of course, Ann replied that there was no way to know. The part that scared me was hearing her say that I might not even be ready to start pushing until 6:00 the next morning or later. I tried not to think about that for too long, lest I lose my focus. Dan made the call to get in touch my parents anyway. Even if it would be a while, my mom would want to know that things were getting close. It ended up being a good thing that he did.

I started getting irritated and quite loud. I remember remarking (yelling) that I was not expecting the contractions to get so painful and so close together so quickly. I felt like I hardly had a break. At one point, I remember shoving the birth ball off the bed in frustration. I wasn’t sure how to get comfortable. Anytime Dan, bless his heart, tried to massage my back or rub my head, it just made things worse. Someone kept wiping my forehead with cool, damp washcloths, though, and that felt lovely. I was sweating like a loon! My body had never worked so hard. Looking back, I must have been in transition at this point. I started to feel like I needed to pee or poop, but trying to sit on the toilet made things worse.

This was around 12:30 Wednesday morning, and Ann decided to check my cervix. To everyone’s surprise, I was already at 10 centimeters, and to my relief, I was ready to start pushing. Now the feeling of needing to use the toilet made sense. I was feeling the urge to push! It was about this time that my mom arrived.

Pushing was such an interesting experience. It’s so hard to describe what it felt like! But, I was glad to actually feel like I was more actively doing something. I was working with my contractions and it would not be long before the little person who had been growing in my uterus for the past 35 weeks would be earthside!

I was standing during my first few pushes and ended up peeing all over the floor. Comfort-wise, the position was not really working for me either. Ironically, despite my earlier protest, I got back in bed. Ann suggested getting on my hands and knees, but it’s not what my body wanted. I turned onto my left side with my right leg in the air (supported by my mother). I’m not sure how or when they got there, but sometime during pushing, a team from the NICU assembled ready to look over my premie when he or she was born. Funny how all your modesty flies out the window when you’re in labor! I can’t even tell you how many people saw me naked that night.

I pushed for about an hour and started feeling my baby’s head move down the birth canal. My mom kept remarking how much hair he or she had. I was able to touch the head at point and was overwhelmed by how soft it was. Dan kept telling me how amazing I was doing and I could hear the emotion in his voice every time our baby’s head made and appearance. I felt a bit of pain around my vagina and perineum, but the “ring of fire” was not nearly as painful as I expected. Ann rubbed oil into my perineum and helped support it as my baby’s head made it bulge.

I kept trying to think of Ina May Gaskin’s “sphincter law” as I pushed and tried to keep my mouth soft in order to keep my vagina soft, but I think I had a clenched jaw more often than not. Pushing made me feel powerful, though. I was very inwardly focused at this point, and everything around me felt completely surreal. The pain, the presence of my family, all the other hospital noise. Cheesy as it may sound, in my head, I kept repeating “open, down, out” and tried to envision Shelia Kitzinger‘s description of the labia opening like the petals of a flower.

Soon, the head was out, and after one or two more pushes, I felt the rest of the body come sliding through. There is absolutely nothing that can top that moment for me. The feeling of my baby’s body coming out of me made me feel triumphant. It made the rest of the experience more than worth it. I felt the wiggly, slippery newborn body on my stomach. I was in love.

I think I heard Dan first exclaim that it was a boy. A boy! My boy. Linus Emery Welding, born at 1:42 a.m., Wednesday morning, March 14, 2012, pink, screaming, and perfect.

Since I was still laying down and without my glasses, I barely got to look at him before the cord stopped pulsing and was cut. He was then whisked over to be examined by the nurses from the NICU. Ann kept saying that he looked great and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him. After a quick check, I was able to try breastfeeding before he needed to go to the NICU for further precautionary testing (as per hospital protocol). Because I have flat nipples, we had some trouble getting him to latch, but with the help of a nipple shield and guidance from Ann, Linus got his first taste of colostrum, that wonderful liquid gold!

Shortly thereafter, in just one or two pushes, I delivered the placenta. Ann held it up for me to see. It was beautiful. The tree of life that sustained Linus for 35 weeks.

My dad came in to meet Linus before Ann set to work repairing my second degree tear. I remember being incredibly cold and shaking uncontrollably, after affects of all the adrenaline. Ann hugged me when all was said done, congratulated me on a job well done, and told me I was a rock star. I really did feel like one!

There was a quiet stillness after that. Linus was to be in the NICU for several hours, and my arms ached to snuggle him. Dan fell asleep, a nurse brought me a turkey sandwich, and everyone else was gone. I felt strong and content, but couldn’t wait until my baby boy was back in my arms and at my breast.

We moved to the maternity wing after a time and Linus, perfect as he was, was released from the NICU early and brought back to us. During our stay in the hospital, I found myself falling more deeply in love with him by the minute. Dan and I were both completely smitten. I couldn’t stop looking at him or cuddling him, this miraculous new little person. I know I’ve already said this, but it was all completely surreal, and in some ways, it still is.

Although my birth was not what I dreamed it to be, it still ended up being beautiful and Linus continues to endear me and steal my heart each day. We are so overjoyed to have him in our lives. In our new little family of three.

Trying to make the best of being in the hospital, and thoroughly enjoying my baby boy (oh, and notice that Starbucks iced coffee to the right! I cut my coffee intake quite a lot during my pregnancy, so I remember that tasting SO GOOD!). This is one of our early nusring sessions. Nursing is still his favorite pastime :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Birth Story Part 2: Waiting...

This is a continuation of my birth story. You can read part one here.

I'm not sure if Dan arrived before or after Cheyenne inserted the Cervadil, which I believe, was around 11:00, but that’s when our waiting game began. The plan was to leave the Cervadil in for 12 hours and hope that it would be enough to kick things off. After that, there would be talk of Pitocin. I was also hooked up to an IV for fluids and to receive precautionary antibiotics for Group B Strep since I hadn’t been tested for this yet (I was supposed to be tested at my next prenatal appointment, the following day).

My mom and dad arrived sometime after Daniel, even though I tried to talk them into waiting a bit, since I knew they would be doing more sitting around waiting for something to happen than anything else. They came anyway, anxious to make sure I was okay to meet their new grandson or granddaughter. It was good to have them there for support, even if there wasn’t much they could do.

Another ridiculous photo... changed out of my work clothes. Just hanging out, waiting for some contractions to happen

The Cervadil, unfortunately, proved to be of little help. Another (grrr) monitor was wrapped around my belly by the hospital staff to track my contractions (or, lack thereof). I started to feel crampy and miserable, and had some awful back pain that came and went, but that was about it. Several meals were brought and eaten, Dan drove to the apartment to straighten up, feed the cats, and bring one of our cars home. He also had the task of installing the car seat base, since we still hadn’t taken care of that yet and we would definitely be needing it on our return trip.

Despite the monitors and IV, I was thankfully able to move around the room a bit (although, everything had to be unhooked whenever I had to use the bathroom - which was frequently). Because of the persistent cramping, I had a hard time getting comfortable, but I wasn’t necessarily in pain yet. I was in bed, out of bed, in the rocking chair, standing; rinse, repeat. I’m sure I tried to nap, but with all the anxiousness and excitement, I regrettably, didn’t get much sleep.

Nurses were in and out with a fair amount of frequency. I saw Cheyenne several times as well, although she did need to head to TBC at one point for back up because, apparently, it was “busting at the seams”. That week was a busy one for births! Everyone who came in seemed to have the same comment when reviewing the stats from the heart rate monitor. Whoever my baby was, they were “happy”, with perfect decelerations, and moving all around. I kept thinking “If my baby is so happy, why don’t we let he or she stay put a while longer?” I was very glad to know, however, that there was very likely nothing wrong with my baby. At 35 weeks, he or she was still considered a premie, and I was worried that there could be complications for my baby, too.

Trying to keep a sense of humor. Look at my monitors!

As the afternoon turned into evening, and evening into night, it was looking less and less likely that we’d be meeting our baby on the 12th. Dan kept saying that he was hoping the baby’s debut would be on the 13th so that next year’s birthday would fall on 3/13/13.

At some point, shortly before the 12 hours were up, my Cervadil fell out on one of my many bathroom trips and around 11:00 p.m., it was time to re-evaluate. Since I would not be able to eat once the Pitocin was started, we decided to wait a little while before getting things going. I had a few snacks and took a wonderful shower - the warm water felt amazing on my back. I soaked it up as long as I could since I was disappointed I wouldn’t be getting a long soak in one of the tubs at TBC during the height of my contractions, which I had so been looking forward to. Then, monitor free and IV free, Dan and I took time to walk the halls.

Sometime in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, it was time for the big, bad, Pitocin…

I was hooked up to a bunch of crap again (eloquently stated, I know… can you tell I hated all those wires and beeping machines?), and the Pitocin began. The plan was to start slowly and increase the dosage in intervals every half an hour until things got going. Based on what I’ve read about Pitocin, I was anticipating horrid contractions to start almost immediately, but, I was absolutely under whelmed (not that I’m complaining).

After getting a shower. Feeling pretty good and hoping something is going to happen soon!

According to the monitors, I did start contracting. But, I still only continued to feel crampy. Maybe a little more intensely than before, but definitely not what I was expecting. I kept thinking that if this was as bad as it got, that this whole “pain during childbirth” thing was blown completely out of proportion. Little did I know what was ahead…

Things are really blurry now. I was on round one of Pitocin for 12 hours. 12 hours. And almost nothing happened. Tuesday morning, around  7:00 or 8:00, it was time for the TBC midwives to switch shifts again. I said goodbye to Cheyenne and met Ann, the midwife who ended up catching Linus (interesting side note, she also caught my sister-in-law’s daughter, the previous August). I continued to feel miserable, but was trying to stay positive. As the hours drug on with nothing happening, Dan and I began to worry that if nothing continued to happen, I would be headed for a c-section. Ann reassured us that, at this point, there was no rush. She was so calm and positive and we both felt wonderfully comfortable with her.

I continued my unsettled dance, pacing the hospital room. In the bed, out of the bed. In the chair, out of the chair. In a new chair, and out of that one. Back and forth to the bathroom. At one point, I finally settled in the rocker and felt surprisingly comfortable dozing on and off, rocking gently, trying to enjoy the last moments of holding my baby inside of me, and trying to focus on breathing and staying calm. Suddenly, the baby moved or the heart monitor shifted and the sound of heartbeat was lost (this had happened several times, sending the nurses into a tizzy, as they ran in to reposition the monitor). I was unfazed, but a new nurse came charging into the room, barely introducing herself, before demanding that I get back into bed and stay there, lest the monitor move again.

As soon as she left, I lost it. I had been doing so well holding it together despite the circumstances. But, my exhaustion and frustration came to fruition at that point. I had a good cry in Dan’s arm, lamenting that the last thing I wanted to do was to be stuck in bed. It was one of the last pieces of my longed-for birth that I was still holding on to - to be free to move and work with my body, and laying flat at the point was hugely uncomfortable to boot. I felt like part of my power had been taken from me.

Later that evening, after another visit from my parents, more waiting, and a whole lot more of nearly nothing contraction-wise, Ann made the decision to give me, my baby, and my uterus a break from the Pitocin. I was able to eat dinner and take some time to move around before starting a second round. The first round lasted close to 12 hours with almost no results. Exactly the opposite of what I expected!

When we began round two, things were very different.