Thursday, April 21, 2011

Put Away the Camera, Mom!

Why you always have to be in my face with that camera, Mom?

How Daddy likes my hair best

After a couple of days of being a fuss-muffin every time he was awake, Brax seems to be back to his normal, puzzling self today. Which means that he is not fussy but also does not go to sleep for naps very quickly. He often lays in his crib, looking wide-eyed all around him and kicking his legs around for a long time before sometimes settling to sleep and sometimes getting a little fussy. I can't decide if this means he doesn't need as much sleep as most newborns or if he's gotten overstimulated and overtired and is fighting sleep. We'll see how things even out after all the visitors are gone and I have a little more control over when he gets put down for naps.


I'm about a week late to this party, but I don't think I've posted since finding out the fantastic news that Josey got a BFP! I think I remember that she and I started trying to get pregnant around the same time, and we both dealt with really long, unpredictable cycles, though for different reasons. Somehow, the stars aligned for me sooner, but I knew she would see those two lines sometime. And I'm so happy it's now!

There have been a bunch of other BFPs in my reader over the past couple of months, too--Augusta, Adele, Alex, Melissa, and a few more, I think. Each one makes me feel like the world is a little more complete. I'm so happy for all you ladies!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week 1: Accomplished

Exactly one week ago, I was laying on a hospital bed, enjoying the luxury and peace of an epidural. That moment seems so recent, and yet I feel like I've had my little bean in my life for a long time.

In some ways, the transition into motherhood has been much easier than I expected. I'm sure it makes a huge difference that my parents are here with us and taking care of all the meals and cleaning, though having extra people in the house has definitely added to my stress levels in other ways (and I've got a week more to go before all grandparents are gone and we get our house back to ourselves for a little while...sigh). Having a husband who is able to be super flexible with work and really share the burden has definitely made a huge difference.

I feel overwhelmingly blessed by how nicely breastfeeding is going. I really prayed that I wouldn't have major issues with it, as breastfeeding problems seem to have the capacity to bring down the most easy-going moms. By about our third feeding at the hospital, Brax and I had figured out our latch, and he's been terrific at keeping it up. On Tuesday, when we went for our first "Newborn Club" appointment at our hospital (basically a free consultation with a lactation consultant that everyone with Kaiser gets to go to), he had lost 10 oz, which our LC said was completely normal and attributed to the fact that my milk hadn't come in yet. She was so impressed by his latch, though, that she called one of the other nurses over to show him off! She told us my milk would probably come in that night, and sure enough, I got some pretty funny faces out of Brax when he was feeding that night and suddenly finding it way easier to get way more! We went back on Thursday and he had gained back up 5 oz, and he gained 1.8 oz just by feeding off one of my (currently gargantuan) boobs at the appointment.

My biggest challenge in the breastfeeding department is simply to keep him awake for a full feed each time. That oxytocin is powerful stuff. I've found he often falls asleep enough to quit sucking around 15 minutes into the feed. I sometimes have to work about 5-10 minutes to wake him up enough to latch on again. Then I usually get really sleepy around 25 minutes in. But after he gets back on, he seems like he could go forever. I often pull him off after about 40 minutes because I figure he's just sucking for fun at that point.

The other challenge is how monstrous my boobs are. And underwires are a no-no for breastfeeding moms.

Brax has also been fantastic at putting himself to sleep about 80% of the time. We've been working on establishing a Babywise/Baby Whisperer Feed/Wake/Sleep schedule, and he must be taking to it. He gives his daddy some trouble during the first night shift, but we have some different things we're going to try to work on that.

And I close with...what else? Pictures!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brax's Birth

I'm sitting here listening to my precious little bean squeak in his sleep over the baby monitor. Is it strange that I miss him when he's sleeping? While the other part of me of course wishes he slept even more often than he does so I could catch up on my life a bit--hehe. For now, though, I'm willingly falling behind in life for the sake of keeping up with breastfeeding.

As you all know, I noticed the first regular, painful contractions last Friday around 1:30pm, as I was doing some grocery shopping. I realize now that I had actually been feeling that pain for the past week on and off. I started timing them through the afternoon and they were about 5-8 minutes apart, but I knew that the pain needed to be a lot more intense before I could be sure things were happening. So I finished my shopping, made a good dinner for us, called my mom to update her, and hung out for the evening. As we were laying on the couch watching TV, the contractions were becoming a bit less tolerable and I was needing to focus and breathe through them. But I still had a feeling I'd make it through the night at home.

We went to bed around 11, and I actually got about 2 hours of hard sleep in before the contractions really woke me up. I spent the rest of the night dozing off between contractions and breathing through them when they hit, waiting for them to speed up. They were about 8-10 minutes apart by the morning (they had slowed down as I slept), but I had a feeling they would speed up once I got out of bed. Which I did around 6 or 6:30, and sure enough, they started coming intensely about every 4-5 minutes. I got up, took a shower, ate a bowl of cereal, and woke Pete up to get ready to go. I called the hospital, and they told me to come in but warned me that if I were still 3 cm or less, they might make me walk around a bit or even go home before admitting me.

We arrived at the hospital around 9. By this point, walking anywhere, answering questions, signing my name was all quite a nuisance. The contractions were intense, and the pain wasn't exactly disappearing between them. We got into an observation room, and I answered more questions, many of them repeats. I learned that my reaction to intense pain is to shut down and get really quiet, so I don't think anyone except Pete realized how much pain I was in or how close the contractions were together. After about 45 minutes, a doctor finally came in to do an internal exam and was surprised that I was already at 5cm and 90% effaced!

I finally got into a labor and delivery room by about 10:15 and was told the anesthesiologist could be there within a half hour. I think my nurse finally caught on to the fact that I was not as serene as I seemed with the pain, and I was very ready for that epidural. My goal had been to make it to 5cm without meds, so I was proud of myself for that much.

I finally got the epidural by 11. A word about epidurals. They are one of the best inventions ever. I thought I would be disappointed in myself for getting one, but when the time came around, I was 100% sure it was the right decision for me. And I was able to actually enjoy and fully experience the rest of the labor process peacefully. I know Pete enjoyed it more too without having to watch me in pain.

Around 1pm or so, my nurse told me it was time to switch from laying on my left to my right side (they switch you back and forth to even out the medication). I rolled over with her help, and suddenly the fetal heart rate plunged from the 120s to below 100. I noticed it, of course, but wasn't sure what it meant until the nurse started moving really quickly and had me roll back over and started calling other doctors. She stayed calm, but suddenly I had about 7 doctors and nurses running around the room. I got an oxygen mask and was told to breathe deeply and that my contractions were so strong and close together that it must be stressing the baby out a little too much. So much for epidurals slowing things down! A doctor told me she'd need to break my water and put an internal monitor on the baby's head. As she did that, she said I was already 8cm, 100% effaced, and the baby was at 0 station. The baby's heart rate did come back up to the 110-120 range and all seemed to be okay for a little while longer.

However, around 2ish or so, I heard the heart rate take a sudden nose dive again. Pete and I were alone in the room at that point, but sure enough, we were surrounded by doctors and nurses within a few minutes again. They really do have a good system for monitoring these things. They added a dose of Turbididine (or something like that) to my IV and told me it would slow the contractions. They also informed me that they would need to take me to a C-Section room in case things went that direction--and it sounded like I had a decent chance of that happening. They started wheeling me down the hall and told Pete he had to wait because he would have to get scrubs on. The Turb. (along with the nerves, I'm sure) made me start shaking uncontrollably, even while I took deep breaths of the oxygen. We got into the OR, and the meds finally kicked in and seemed to slow the contractions enough to bring the heart rate up again. They also finally let Pete in, and he sat next to me and held my shaking hand.

I was 10cm by this point, so they told me I could try a few pushes to see what would happen. They had transferred me to an operating bed, so I was laying flat, which made the pushing a little harder. One of the doctors came behind me to prop me up, and they had me push about 3 times through one contraction--and caught a glimpse of a very hairy head! Pete was even way less grossed out by it than he expected and took a look and saw the head! They told me to stop and take a rest while they reevaluated and talked about moving me back to the much nicer labor and delivery room.

But then the heart rate dropped again, and a C seemed imminent. They explained that pushing is usually pretty stressful for a baby, and they didn't want his heart rate below 100 for very long. So if it was already down and I started pushing and he didn't make it out fast enough, they would have to do a really messy C with general anesthesia. But Pete and I really didn't want a C, especially when we seemed so close! One of the other doctors (I think we had 3 or 4 OBs and 3 or 4 nurses in the room, maybe more) took our side and said we should give the pushing another shot. The head OB assented and told me that I would need to push like my life depended on it, and they put me back on the L & D bed, which was better equipped for squatting. By this time, the epi (from which I had been disconnected when rolled into the OR) was starting to wear off a little, so I could feel the contractions a bit without too much pain. We waited for the next one, I took a deep breath, and I strained like I've never strained before. I can't remember if I pushed through one or two contractions, but it went really fast. Everyone was excited and cheering, and Pete was telling me how much dark hair our baby had. It was truly exhilerating--and the pushing felt really good against my shakiness.

And then he was here! I had a slimy, squirming, tiny little boy with a full head of dark hair laying on my belly! I couldn't believe we had made it so quickly and easily. Pete cut the cord, and Braxon gave a few healthy squeals as they wiped him off, then he settled down and lay on my chest looking at me while they pulled the placenta out and stitched me up. He did try to find my boob, but I was laying flat again, so not really in a good position for latching.

I apparently had a fairly roomy vagina (I have been doing perineal massages--maybe they actually did something), and Brax wasn't too big--or big-headed--so my tearing was apparently fairly minimal and along the side rather than the back. Which makes me really admire those of you who've had much worse tearing, because it still hurts to sit (I'm very thankful for the donut cushion I took from the hospital), and peeing was pretty scary the first few times.

After delivering our 7lb 8oz baby at 3:15 on Saturday, we stayed that night and all day Sunday. But we were both pretty ready to get home, so they let us leave Sunday night. My parents flew out on Saturday, so they are here and have been a huge help. I don't think we could be surviving without them right now, even though having 5 people in a very small two-bedroom isn't ideal.

I should stop and try to take a quick nap before Brax wakes up from his. But I will include the promised pictures. Pete and I are completely in awe of how gorgeous our baby is. He has the same full head of hair I had at birth and generally looks a lot like my newborn pictures--though he's way cuter :).

About to get weighed. I think he actually scratched himself in this picture--I've had to clip those nails!

The proud papa, all scrubbed up.

Ugh, postpartum pictures are so unpleasant. But I've already lost all dignity, so what the heck. Strangely enough, after having zero swelling through my whole pregnancy, I retained a ton of water on delivery day. The nurses were a bit concerned at how concentrated my pee was all day, even with a ton of water both by mouth and by IV. But I've been peeing like a racehorse since, so I think I've lost most of it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

He's Here!!

Those of you who commented and guessed that my next post would be a baby announcement were right on. The contractions I was experiencing on Friday were the real thing, and Braxon Emory was born at 3:15 pm on Saturday, April 9--the day before his due date. He weighed in at 7lbs 8oz, 20 inches, with a full head of brown hair. I am doing well, and he is absolutely perfect. We got home from the hospital last night.

I promise to post my birth story and some pictures soon, but I wanted to get this up here first and not make you all wait for me to have a chance to record all the details right away.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is This...Pain?

First, a late update from my check-up on Wednesday. My OB measured me at 2cm dilated, 50% effaced, and baby at a -2 station. I was pretty happy with that. Things have progressed in the past week. I also, sadly, went ahead and made an appointment for an induction on April 16, when I will be one day shy of 41 weeks. I would normally be all for waiting it out as long as I can. But with our flights to China looming on May 14 (exactly 4 weeks after the induction date), I didn't think it wise to wait any longer than that.

While I'm on the subject of the flights to China--this potential government shut down is actually causing us some concern. Apparently one of the biggest problems during the last shut down was a huge delay in people getting passports. As you may recall me mentioning in past posts, we are going to be on a fairly tight timeline to get our son a birth certificate, passport, and visa before we leave. A government shut down would certainly not help our cause! Stinkin' congress.

Back to the point. I've definitely continued to lose huge chunks of mucus plug every day since last Saturday. I've actually been a bit astounded by how much goop is coming out. I guess it regenerates. Also lots of Braxton-Hicks and pelvic pain and pressure. But until today, the pain and contractions weren't really correlating with each other. Until a few hours ago, when I noticed that I was feeling reasonably strong pain in my lower abdomen at the same time that my whole uterus was tightened. A painful contraction, I suppose. These have been coming about every 5-7 minutes for the past few hours. They're not unbearable, but I definitely hope they don't last for days without progressing.

And of course, I just bought some nice, fresh, Dover sole for dinner tonight. We'll see if I end up making it or not...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Still Here

I realize I'm at the point in my pregnancy where a long silence on my blog might lead some of you to think I've gone and had my baby without notifying you. I just wanted to assure that such is not the least not yet. I sit here at 39 weeks 1 day, enjoying my first official day being unemployed, contracting once or twice an hour, but not really feeling on the cusp of labor yet.

I did have my labor-inducing acupuncture appointment on Friday, complete with electro-stimulation in several spots. My acupuncturist said that my body might not be quite ready yet but assured me that the acupuncture would help get it ready faster. And what do you know, about 24 hours later, I lost a major chunk of my mucous plug. Not very pretty, but at least it confirmed that my body is doing something. I'm back to examining toilet paper now, which definitely takes me back to the days of scrutinizing my CM for egg-whites. Now I'm looking for globs and streaks of brown (and seeing a lot).

I had another acupuncture treatment this morning and plan to go in again on Thursday. I think I would normally be okay with going a bit overdue, but with our trip to China looming at 5 weeks after my due date, I'd really prefer not to see 40 weeks. And I'd really prefer to avoid any pitocin in my labor experience.

Time to pull myself away from the computer and go shop for dinner tonight. I'm taking it one meal at a time this week rather than my usual week-ahead meal planning. If nothing else, I figure it will get me out of the house every day.