To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Thursday, February 11, 2016

After Thoughts After Labor

Here I am, a new mommy and completely in love! On Super Bowl Sunday some team of football players won a game. People all over the US had parties eating yummy snack food. Money was won in Super Bowl pools. I missed all of that, but I came out the ultimate winner by giving birth to my precious little girl, which you can read all about here if you missed it!

Having documented the experience already, I still have more thoughts I wanted to write down to help me remember down the road. So here we go, in no particular order!

  • Music was the key to my labor. The Super Bowl was on in my room, but I had it on mute. My focus, other than on breathing, was the music I had playing. I worked on an 8.5 hour music list ahead of time, which wow -- that's how long my labor was. I just now realized that! Some of the music I really remember hearing that helped a lot was:
    • Titanic. We did the entire soundtrack a couple of times unintentionally. But this is me, could I ever get sick of it?
    • Eddy Arnold. Grandpa's music kept coming on at times when I really did need it!
    • Michael Jackson ... as soon as she came out the song switched to Michael. She's getting a good early introduction to good music!
  • Pushing. Common sense tells us all it hurts. What I didn't exactly expect was one particular pain I felt as her head was getting close to coming out. I even said it out loud to the room... "It feels like my urethra is getting ripped out!" I guess it's a part of anatomy you usually just ignore. It has it's function and does it without effort. But when it's being squished to hell, oh my gosh, no, it was bad. That really was the worst part of the pushing process!
  • Sticking with that part of my body, the after effects .... you get these huge diapers that are like white, almost mesh, boy shorts. I am proof you can go wearing only Victoria's Secret thongs for an entire pregnancy ... and now they are sticking me in big ol' undies and putting in these pads that are so big I felt like I was walking around in adult diapers. To make it even thicker, they made these ice packs with newborn diapers to stick IN the undies to help ease all that was happening with my lady bits. Awkward? Yes. But overall did it help ease things? Yes. Welcome to the stuff people don't normally talk about. 
  • Spritzing. They gave me a little bottle to fill with warm water and use to spritz my girly bits when I'm using the potty. Oh hallelujah. That does bring some minor relief.
  • Also after the birth they took care of my uterus. Periodically, including right after the placenta came out, they would push down really hard on my tummy to help the uterus start getting back to normal. Pure horror. I hated it so much. Even today, 3 and a half days after the event, I had it done at the hospital again, and ugh, it just hurts really bad.
  • Let's keep the bloody nasty stuff going, shall we? After the room was cleared and Katura and I had enjoyed her first meal together it was time for me to happily take a shower. I was so nasty feeling, like I had just finished a marathon, so getting in the shower was exciting. Then while washing my hair I looked down. Hello Alfred Hitchcock. It was like the Psycho shower scene in there!
  • Speaking of marathons, my arms feel like they ran one. I know I was grabbing onto the bars by the tub during the transition phase of labor, but also during pushing they had me grab my legs and pull. Still my arms are sore from all the tension, pushing and pulling I did with them.
  • During labor Man Friend kept reminding me that I could do this. I did marathons and so I could do this. He reminded me how even during my first one when my knees buckled under me I didn't give up. I stayed mentally strong and pushed through to the end, and that I could do the same thing. He was right. And it was like a marathon. It started out easy, got awkward, then I had a second wind and felt strong again. Soon I was starting to question things and wanting to be done. Then it got really hard. The end got close and when I remembered how far I had come and what was at the finish line, I reached down deep and pushed so hard until I thought I couldn't do it anymore ... then I had my traditional finishing kick to the line and felt amazing when I did reach my goal and was handed my finisher's medal named Katura!

  • This photo melts my heart. My mom took a photo of her and I right after they put her on my chest, which I have cropped and shared here. We just stared at each other and it was incredible. We knew each other so well already. It was like the entire room went dark and quiet. I have no idea what all was going on. People could have been talking to me and I really have no memory. All I saw was that little face looking up at me. I think I got a little stitch and delivered my placenta ... didn't even notice. The whole world ceased to exist to me. The only thing that mattered was this precious little girl, still covered in some vernix caseosa, little bits of blood, the usual body fluid stuff on a baby. I didn't even care. I still had to caress and kiss her. She's my best creation and my most favorite thing in the entire world! Best moment of my life!

  • We had an immediate bond. Still, she might start crying, but if I barely touch her she stops and becomes calm. And skin to skin bonding ... she loves it. we do it all the time. Feedings at my house are a nudist affair at this point!
  • Nursing is an interesting thing. Sometimes I think it sucks when she practically bites while latching on. But overall it's not so bad. We get a lot of alone time together, her dad always nearby if we need an extra hand.  
  • The cute sounds she makes. Oh my gosh. In the hospital I pretty much never slept because I couldn't stop listening to her sleeping noises and watching her. Even still I find myself just gazing at her little face.
  • Hospital food. Could it be any more bland? It did make me happy to have cottage cheese and yogurt a lot. The vegetables I ordered were so bleh. I felt smart when I realized the best bet was to order Cheerios and fruit cups. Can't go wrong with that!
  • Man Friend told the guys in Lamaze to make sure to take advantage when the nurses ask if there is anything they can bring. Drinks? Snacks? Warm blankets? Ice? They are happy to oblige!
  • Ooh, that reminds me of labor. During active labor just before the transition phase I was shaking. I was so cold. The nurses said I could be cold, but it could be a reaction from hormones and signs that the baby was coming soon. They brought me heated blankets which helped a ton!
  • Speaking of blankets, I brought my own soft blanket which was one of the best things I had with me. I was using it the entire time after she was born.
  • We had a VHS/DVD player in our hospital room. We brought a lot of movies with us... if you can, do that! Hospital TV SUCKS!!!
  • I had a baby and my belly button never popped out and I didn't get stretch marks.  What?!?! I'm shocked at how my body is already bouncing back just days later. Obviously I'm not the way I was before being pregnant, but I feel optimistic!
  • Having a game plan going in I think was a good idea for us. It was nice not having to worry. Everybody knew my "rules" for the room and my desires for how the birth and labor would go. And everything was followed, Thank You!
  • Part of my idea birth plan was to not be naked and feel no sense of dignity. Well, you CAN give birth without being naked and without having everybody see everything. I pulled it off. EVERYBODY said, "you won't care". Really? I always told them that No, I would. But they ALL insisted "you won't care or even know". Yeah, ask the 4 in the room with me and they will confirm I was always keeping covered and making sure I stayed that way. 
  • What else did people tell me? That I would want drugs. Sure I whined that I would want them, but we know I didn't really want them. And as much as people thought it couldn't be done, I had a 100% drug free birth!
  • Lamaze class was completely worth it! I can't imagine not taking the opportunity to learn about breathing, as well as information regarding birth and labor.
  • Pushing hurts. BUT after all those contractions it was actually a relief to be at that final bit and be allowed to push your way to the end.
  • The phases of labor broken down (8.5 total hours of labor):
    • My water broke, and nothing happened for 2.5 hours.
    • Early Labor: I spent it at home with my mom. I was up, walking around, putting on make up, hanging up clothes, getting the bags officially ready for the move to the car, watching Friends, texting my BFF, taking photos. This was only 2 hours long actually. I had a very short "early labor"!
    • Active Labor: It started shortly after the Star Spangled Banner and kick off of the Super Bowl. We left for the hospital after the game began. I was admitted and got situated in my room. The half-time show is blurry to me, but I saw Bruno Mars like I wanted to. That is the last thing before switching to Transition.
    • Transition: This, coupled with active labor, was about 4 hours long. It was very painful. I was throwing up at times and spent most of Transition in the jacuzzi tub.
    • Pushing: This was about 2.5 hours we think. Fortunately for ME it felt faster since it was non-stop. I feel like for everybody else it had to be painful to watch or incredibly boring. 
    • Katura was born 11 hours and 58 minutes after my water broke!
  • Poop happens. 'Nuf said.
  • Contrary to what people say, you don't ruin your clothes. After labor and holding my fresh little baby I still could have worn my gown around if I wanted to without it even showing what had just gone on!
  • And finally, it's never too early to use your baby as a prop for fun photos and collages!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Welcome to the World!

Early labor at home with my Lamaze breathing
All these months of build up and here it is .... the introduction of my beautiful daughter and how she finally came into this world!

Our story starts Sunday morning around 8am when my dog asked to go outside to potty. As I stood up I felt a small amount of liquid come out of me. Was it a trickle of water that may have broken? I wasn't sure. At 10:36am I knew for sure my water was breaking in a massive gush! I ran to my phone to text Man Friend and had to dive into my bathtub as I felt gush number 2 coming. During my whole shower this would keep happening. I notified my mom who was at my house before I even finished rinsing my hair! I felt she was ready to head to the hospital but I knew we had time. While she was doing laundry, dishes, pacing, packing snacks and doing anything she could to distract herself, I attempted to dress and put on socks to take my dog for a walk. We never made it to the point of putting on shoes.

Watching the Super Bowl
I started having mild contractions around 1pm and began timing to see if this was the real deal or not. We had learned that after your water breaks it could take 12 to 24 hours for labor to begin. I wasn't about to rush to the hospital until I KNEW. Plus I was going to stay home for all of early labor anyway. At 2pm we declared this was the real deal and I would stay and focus on breathing and relaxing. The contractions started getting much closer together and I had to let Man Friend know it was time to come home from work because I was going to be leaving sooner than later. The goal was to make it through the kick off of the Super Bowl! To get through that wait I used my pillows and yoga ball, lower back and leg rubs from Mom and Man Friend, as well as the breathing techniques we had been practicing in Lamaze class. By the time the game started I was ready to go. I was in active labor, which arrived rather quickly!

Love at first sight, fresh out of the oven!
It was about 4:30pm when we were in our room ready to get comfy and work on contractions. I made it through the half time show at least, then I was beyond the point of doing anything other than surviving contractions. They escalated very fast and I know at a few times I was half-assed saying I needed the drugs. My birth plan was to be drug free, unless deemed necessary for the safety of my daughter and I by the doctor. So needless to say my whining was ignored, which really is what I hoped would happen anyway. I did plenty of research and knew what I wanted. After all we went the entire pregnancy with zero drugs of any kind, not even a Tums, so why change it now?

I had a birth ball brought in to the room to help, but never did get to it. Once the jacuzzi tub was filled I got in and never looked back. The feeling of not having my back touching anything was such a relief as I was having a lot of lower back pain. The bubbles helped distract me, and the noise of them actually helped relax me as well -- although I'm sure my mom waiting by the bed probably didn't think that. I can only imagine the sounds she heard. Before making it to the tub, and IN the tub I did end up throwing up quite a bit. I guess pregnancy for me was book-ended with vomit! It was at the end of the tub time that Melissa, our delivery nurse, came in to see how I was doing and asked if I felt like I wanted to push. She barely asked and instinctively I was bearing down!

Out of the tub I went and back into my own delivery gown (yes, you CAN bring your own and avoid the awful hospital ones!!) and onto the bed. A week before I was 2 cm dilated, when I arrived at the hospital I was at 6cm. By the time I finished my tub I was ready at 10cm and my doctor was called. I actually feel so special and appreciative of her .... it was my doctor's day off but when she learned I was in labor she said she wanted to come in anyway. So there I was, the 1996 grad being assisted by the 1995 graduate and the doctor from the class of 1993 ... all of us from the RHS band delivering what will maybe be a future RHS band girl! It felt like the right group that was brought together for this intense experience!

And so pushing began. My mom was a saint and stayed by my head continually keeping a cold wash cloth on me. Even though I was in absolute misery that really helped a ton. Thank you, Mommy!! Man Friend took my left leg, Melissa on my right, and Amy (the doctor) was front and center monitoring the progress as I pushed. This is when I got discouraged. All of the pushing and it felt like I wasn't making progress. Any time the fetal monitor slipped and I couldn't hear my girl's heart beat I would get nervous. I was dreading hearing them say that things weren't working like they want and I would need an emergency C-Section. **Spoiler alert, no c-section happened! I could tell there was silent communication happening between everyone in the room.

Cutting the cord
Apparently it was a lot of hand signals, with Amy showing numbers to Melissa on the state of my progress. Melissa, when the head was showing, was showing my mom circles indicating how much head she could see. I just continued on with the pushing. To summarize, with each contraction for the first hour or more I would do four strong pushes. The first always felt like a failure so I cut it short, I couldn't figure out where to push since it was all hurting my tailbone. I'd immediately get a breath and go for the second push where I could actually feel I was pushing right. The third and fourth pushes would make the most progress.  

In the last hour or less (I have NO concept of time during any of this, but I was actively pushing for at least two hours), I was feeling that progress was being made which motivated me to push harder and longer. I was up to about 6 strong, long pushes per contraction by the end. I was confused when I felt the progress happened and suddenly the room atmosphere changed. They removed half of my bed, brought out foot rests for me, the doctor was putting on a blue gown, a bucket and strange bag thing were brought and placed under the bed, and two baby nurses were standing on alert. I looked at Melissa and said, "Am I having this baby soon?" She gave me the most wonderful smile and said Yes! It was surreal that it was almost time! And then .... the ring of fire.

Pausing to rest during her first meal
They weren't lying when they used the ring of fire as a phrase to describe what it feels like down there. I was probably making noises of someone being skinned alive, but my best pushes happened when I made more noise and just let it all out. My body, pain wise, wanted it all to just go away. How could I possibly get her out if it already felt like this? But mentally I knew she was there and I could feel the fullness. I just had to cross over that one spot. And then I did, and boy did I feel it. I felt a pop. I had a very small tear, which I suspect might have been that pop? But I really don't know. It wasn't long after, with the rest of the push that there was this strange sudden relief. 

Warm, slimy, a feeling of lightness, and a cord. She was out! In the movies you always see them push and get the head out, then they have to push again to get the shoulders. My little girl cooperated with my pushing and slid out all at once! It was NO time at all, and she was on my chest. She had only the tiniest cry before she was staring up at me peaceful. The most beautiful little slimy thing I've ever seen in my life!

Here are the not-complicated complications, that were possibly part of why I was getting frustrated. She wasn't wanting to rotate. She had been head down for weeks, but instead of her head facing my bottom, she was head up. The doctor kept reaching in monitoring progress and trying to rotate her. That reaching at first was uncomfortable, but then I used it to help me know where to push... and that's how I started making progress on getting her out. As much as it sucks, you DO have to push like you're pooping. If you feel like you're pooping, you're doing it right - that's what they told me and it was so true! Eventually she cooperated after the doctor tried to guide her 3 times and she was lined up. To get to that point though we did try having me on my hand and knees pushing a couple times. That position didn't work for me as I couldn't figure out how to bear down like that. At the end the cord was wrapped around her neck 1.5 times, but not a big deal at all and was easily fixed. So really, is that much to have happen? Not at all!

She and I stared at each other and bonded for 8 minutes before her cord was clamped and then cut by her daddy. Delivery of the placenta was a breeze. I gave half a push and it was out. And continuing in my quest to learn as much as I can, I was asking to see the placenta and get photos of it!  As quickly as the room filled, it was soon empty again. Her grandma went home to let us have alone time, and it was pretty much just the three of us and our nurse until the wee hours of the next morning. I helped give her her very first bath, she did her hand footprints, and got to have her first meal. It was a very busy, exciting night! I didn't sleep at all ... I couldn't stop staring at her and oohing and aahing over every little coo she made in her sleep! For those interested in stats: 10:34pm on February 7, 2016 she was born. She weighed in at 7 pounds 2 ounces and is 20.25 inches tall. Perfectly pink!

So that's the big culmination of this nearly 3 year long adventure to bring her here! I avoid using names in this blog, so I'll leave out her last name...  I am so happy to introduce Katura Inez Rae!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Week 38: I Am Still Pregnant. And Tired.

Once upon a time, back in June, I had to suffer through the Two-Week Wait, aka the time we women spend waiting to either find out we are pregnant or get our period. Well here I am, in January (now February), and feeling like I am in the two week wait yet again... this time, however, waiting for that baby to get here!

Knowing I'm at least 2 centimeters dilated and less than 3 weeks away, I feel so anxious. Anxious, excited, nervous, antsy, eager, all the emotions!

During the two-week wait, from what I've read, I'm not the only one that spent a lot of time googling and reading forums where other people are all in the same boat. That's happening again! If something feels off, or different, or new then I have to google. The crazy thing is that no matter how strange that I google might be, as it turns out tons of other women have googled and posted about it, too! Sudden random breakouts? They're talking about it. Nausea? That's there. Insomnia? I'm not alone. Looking for any clues as to when the baby will arrive? Everybody wants to know!

And that's the hard part I guess. It's like maternity leave.... I know I'm going to be missing work, but WHEN? It's like having a vacation on the books except you won't know when the vacation starts until it's already happening. I've found myself nesting at work, trying to get everything up to date, clean, organized and easy for anyone else to be able to pick up where I left off. But yet NO CLUE when this will all happen.

Man Friend pointed out it does NOT say
This is what is frustrating. Physically I am fine. Any changes aren't bothering me, but the mental part is making me tired. One day I'd feel like labor must be coming up this week. Then the next it feels like I'll be pregnant for 3 more months. I had two uneventful doctor's appointments. She slept through them all, and I did register some non-painful contractions. Lamaze happened, which I wrote about here. Basically this week has been all about mental stress and insomnia. Sleep and I don't mingle anymore. Some nights I was up wandering around, sometimes drinking water, showering, testing different places to sleep, listening to music. You name it, I probably did it.

The week has ended with some awkward pains, contraction timing, walking with Man Friend and doing Lamaze breathing while just trying to relax.... still wondering ... is this the build up??  So now I'm feeling very anti-social. I just want to be left alone to be quiet, not harassed, I don't to hear continual comments about my body and people's opinions of it. I want to be a hermit and wait for this little girl to come out!

**Basically I wrote a bunch of this early in the week. Then went to finish it today and am just blah. I get a free pass I think. Now back to my contractions.....

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lamaze: Week 5

It was the hardest workout I've had since I was allowed to run!

Seeing as I was up since 3am, it was probably best we didn't do our normal relaxation and breathing exercises in the dark this time. I'd have really risked falling asleep! For this class our active focus was on pushing and ways to be comfortable during pushing. I was very happy to learn all of this since my mom gave birth to me before her pushing class when she took Lamaze. With the rate this girl keeps pushing on me I was starting to get concerned that she would make her appearance before Lamaze graduation and I wanted to be sure to learn as much as I can while I still can!

We did a lot of things using pillows, birth balls, chairs, walking around and essentially doing some junior high school slow dancing. All of these I could see being very helpful once it is time and contractions are happening. I can definitely say I understand the benefits of walking during labor. Before class we went for a walk through our neighborhood, which triggered gravity and a round of real contractions. So if that will help with labor while in the hospital I am all for it! 

Many people say how Lamaze sounds so different now, or it worked for them the old way so why change it. Well, let's look at telephones in the 70s as a comparison. Yes, that rotary phone worked for you, but now you probably have a cell phone that you can tap one spot on and have it automatically call someone. The old way worked, but the new way might be easier. Things evolve and that's what has happened with childbirth. Yes, your old way worked.... but I'm going to stick with the "newer" methods if that means I can help cope with childbirth easier and have things go well for her and I.

And this leads me to the other evolution and the video. VHS. 1984 perhaps? Fashion and personal appearance/maintenance has changed, ok?? Here I am watching 3 different birth stories - 3 couples, 3 different birthing situations. What I took away from it that was helpful to me was seeing that not one of them was yelling, crying and dramatic like you see in movies and on television. They were focusing on their breathing, walking around, changing positions, relaxing in the shower ... they were getting through the birthing process in a calm manner. I find that reassuring considering EVERYBODY talks to me about how negative labor is. Seriously, nobody shares ANYTHING positive. I've chosen to nod my head and smile and continue with what I'm learning and keeping myself educated and mentally strong, knowing I have my mom and Man Friend at my side to help me out. Seeing people pull off what I hope to have happen was encouraging. But there was also the evolution thing.... Oh. My. Gosh.  The first birth the couple was not attractive. Not everyone is a model, but they were far from it. That's fine, whatever .... but it really sealed the deal on them being hard to look at when we cut to labor and I thought at first I was seeing a hairy baby head coming out. Then I realized NO... The nasty mass of red forest growing down her leg was NOT a human coming out, but instead her out of control mess. Really?? Did you not know you would be showing your business to the world? Could you have possibly considered removing massive amounts of hair from your inner thighs? Oh 80's.... maybe it's best you and your bush are in the past.

We also covered birth plans and things to think about before we are in the hospital. Man Friend and I have spent a lot of time discussing our desires and our ideal plan if all goes well. Soon, maybe even tonight, we will have to discuss back up options just in case there are possible complications or other things to consider.

Again it was another great class. I always leave feeling satisfied and happy. Knowledge is power and I love all of the knowledge I go home with. If this girl arrives before our next class I can at least say that I feel prepared, ready and not scared!

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