Birth Story – Part 3 (Get it over with already)

Have you ever gotten into the tub to soak away some pain from overworking your legs or to ease some back pain and it pretty much takes away all of it? Well, water does not do that to contractions. A dear friend who recently delivered a baby commented that ‘water is not nature’s epidural’ and indeed it is not. Although I was in the water, the pain was still getting worse, but only when the contraction actually hit. The rest of the time, I felt pretty much normal and had a really nice conversation with my midwife about her daughter and her son-in-law and the military and moving. It was really a lovely talk, but it only occurred in between the pain. When the pain hit the weightlessness I felt in the water just took the edge off.

Maybe thirty minutes in the tub and I felt like pushing. Water births (this one’s for you Jenn) aren’t exactly my thing and aren’t okay with the hospital where I was delivering so out I climbed and into the bed I went. Okay, so maybe that water was doing a little more than I thought it was because at this point I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I’d lost the bike and I was worried.

The midwife reminded me “Ride it up and coast down.” I focused again and made it through three more contractions before she said I was going to go ahead and push. This contraction was, of course, accompanied by the Ring of Fire and unfortunately Johnny Cash was not resurrected and singing to me by the side of the bed (Side Note: If you are one of those people who plan music to birth by, I would highly suggest that song for this part). And the burn continued while I pushed for that contraction and her head was delivered.

The midwife told me to hold up and wait for the next one. I didn’t know that she was unwrapping the cord from around the baby’s neck, where it was loosely hanging (FACT: one of my biggest fears has always been to strangle my own baby while delivering him/her. I am so very very thankful that 1) I didn’t know the cord was wrapped around her neck before I went into labor (like they are for 1 in 4 babies) and 2) that I didn’t know this until after she was on my belly and looked just like my other two non-strangled babies). The next contraction came quickly and I pushed one more time to deliver her shoulders and body.

The fire was still burning. I screamed during the pushing like a crazy person on TLC’s the Baby Story. It was completely involuntary and even while I was doing it, I was thinking that I should stop. No way to keep that kind of sound inside my throat, though. They put Greer on my belly and she was the bluish white of brand new baby, squinty and mad. The burning kept going (it lasts for an hour, peeps.  I HAD NO IDEA.) and I felt lightheaded and tired in a not so great way.

They asked me if I wanted to cut the cord and that kind of wigged me out. They asked my dad, who had been holding my hand while I pushed and he was taken off guard by it, but he did it happily. Placenta delivered and then the midwife started barking orders to the nurse. There was a lot of bleeding and my uterus wasn’t clamping down.Some Pitocin on board and all calmed down, I still felt a little out of it and bad so they gave me a little narcotic of some kind. I was thankful for it and held Greer again.

She looked a whole lot like Gideon when he first “popped out”, as Piper likes to say, but with Piper’s chin and slightly more delicate in the face. Her feet looked like his. Her hair line matched my father’s. She has Jud’s frame and my features. I think she’ll be a good mix like the other two. Her eyes are still dark blue and sometimes I think they are getting lighter and other times they look darker. Time will tell.

She is here and she is wonderful. I am tremendously happy about not being pregnant anymore and everyone else is tremendously happy to get to hold her too.

Birth Story – Part 2

It’s the Tuesday after she was born and already these details are starting to get foggy. Good thing I’m trying to remember now because in a few years, when Greer asks me about it, I imagine my mind will be exactly like all of that cream of wheat I was told to consume while pregnant. 

Wednesday dawned with hope and more contractions. I parked my pain-filled rear end on the sofa to keep the baby from coming. By late afternoon I was thinking that I could keep her in there for weeks. Then Jud called to say he was sick and I felt the bottom drop out. He drove to our house to be with the little sick ones. He spent most of the evening sleeping with chills. I watched some more Travel channel and lusted after the delicious things Anthony Bourdain was eating in France while I painted my nails. If you’re going to push a baby out, you have to have pretty toes. I think this was the signal to my body to tell it that I would go along with the labor process.

I ate dinner by myself and crawled into bed without Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes or the pain of searing heartburn. I woke up around three when a strong contraction convinced me not to sleep. We danced the dance of sleep and pain until eight when I finally convinced myself to get ready for the day. By the time my hair was straight and my mascara was on I was having trouble staying upright when the pain hit. I went back to the couch and found a website that would help me time my contractions.

They were still six or seven minutes apart when I called over to my house and asked my dad to come pick me up, but they were strong and I was nervous about delivering a baby at home like someone who didn’t know they were pregnant in the first place. While I waited for him, I filled out the pre-registration forms for the hospital. Nothing like being prepared.

I convinced Jud that he was indeed still sick, although the Tamiflu was clearly making him delusional. Later, after he showered, he texted to admit that he was feeling awful and that he was sorry about not being there for the delivery. I was sorry too, sorry but focused on the task at hand – delivering a healthy baby and keeping her that way.

Arriving at the hospital, I asked the woman at the lobby desk where I was supposed to go. I’ve never done a dry run of the hospital labor and delivery department. Three babies, three hospitals and three times I’ve asked where I was supposed to go once the show was already on the road. Up the elevator and into the right place, the nurses seemed doubtful about me being in labor. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to act like when I’m in labor, but apparently I do a poor job of looking like I’m in pain.

Hooked up to the machines, the contractions are four minutes now, so I’m not going anywhere. The midwife hasn’t arrived yet, but the nurse asks about my pain. I tell her that in the middle of the contraction it is an 8 or a 9. She disagrees with me and says that I would have asked for pain meds by now. I realize that I’m not a huge fan of this nurse and hope that the midwife comes soon. She does and I’m relieved.

She asks me if I want her to break my water. I say yes. She does and it is easy and not painful and almost immediately the contractions are coming faster. Then she delivers the single most helpful idea about the waves of pain that are coming. She tells me that the contractions are all going to be about one minute and that they will build for 30 seconds like riding a bike up a hill and then I can coast down the other side.

She asks me if I want to walk and we do that for a while. When a contraction comes, we stop. I hold on to the railing in the hallway and alternately plie onto my heels or rock back and forth in my hips, but in my mind, I’m riding the bike.

Up the hill. Coast down. Walk. Up the hill. Coast down. Walk. Up the hill. Coast down. Walk.

I don’t know how long we walked, maybe 45 minutes, I guess. Right in front of my room a big long contraction hit and the midwife suggested getting in the water. I was all about that idea.

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Birth Story – Part 1

Greer Elizabeth entered the world on February 9.  It was a Thursday afternoon and it wasn’t the way I thought it would happen. In some ways it was better than I could have ever expected and in some ways it was the opposite of better.

The story really began the Friday before she came when Gideon climbed into his bed and fell asleep about 4pm. His light was on. His fan was off. He was so deep in sleep that I had difficulty waking him up. Piper kissed him saying loudly, “wake up, my prince!” and proclaiming him a sleeping prince charming. Finally awake, with help from his Yia Yia, he wasn’t in a good mood and he complained his neck was hurting. I, of course, immediately assumed he had meningitis. He has never, in his four and a half years fallen asleep without his routine, unless he’s been really ill. WebMD inspected and meningitis was ruled out, but I figured he had some unforseen sickness lurking around the corner.

The fever started sometime in the middle of the night. He was only complaining about his leg cramps, but his head was plenty hot. Meds on board and he was back to sleep. Four days later he seemed fine. He didn’t seem that sick to begin with, just exhausted and feverish and his eyes were oddly red and puffy looking, nothing he would ever complain about. He isn’t the only kid in the house, so waking up on Tuesday with her head hot and those same puffy eyes, I wasn’t surprised to  find Piper sick.

Monday night I’d had some pretty good, strong contractions, but nothing I couldn’t talk through.  I did think we were getting close and I was wondering how the sickness was going to change the new baby’s home coming. First thing Tuesday morning I made an appointment with the Pediatrician to get a professional opinion about a good course of action. With Piper looking just this side of horrible and Gideon proclaiming that he was fine, we went off to the doctor. Poppy drove us as I wasn’t feeling great and couldn’t pick up the little girl who didn’t want to change out of her pajamas to go.

Gideon’s throat was swabbed. Piper’s nose got the same treatment. His was negative (no step!). Hers was positive (Influenza A!). Our fantastic Peds doc prescribed Tamiflu for my parents, Jud and Piper. I was heading for my weekly appointment with the midwives in just a few hours, so we agreed that we’d let them prescribe for me. We also agreed that the kids should be kept separate from me and decided to let the kids go to our house and I would go to my parents house until everything was over.

Jud stayed with me at my parents’ house that night. My parents stayed with the sick kids. I contracted until 10ish and then abruptly stopped. The Tamiflu made me gag a bit. It made some of the others dizzy, but we were thankful to hopefully be preventing the onslaught of awful.

Ain’t No Sunshine When It’s Raining

Everyone loves to talk about the weather. Sometimes, I can’t help myself either. Indulge me.

It’s December 29 and this has been the most mild of Decembers I can remember in the middle of the country.  We had some snow at the beginning of the month and people, as they always do, lost their minds about it.  Somehow that first big snowfall of the year doesn’t seem to jog the memory of the average citizen here to slow down and increase their stopping distance by two or three fold. Instead they get panicky and feel odd urges to get home as quickly as possible because they have 4-wheel drive and their Escalade does awesome in the snow, except for when they need to make their hunk of metal stop.

That snow didn’t last long as the temperatures crept back into October levels leaving copious amounts of sand and gravel and rock salt all over the streets. I pity the children who have been out on their bikes this week and have found their ability to stop impaired by all the silt. I remember that time I flipped over my handlebars trying to stop in the sand. It was less than good.

Thankfully, my children have remained safely on the right side of their handlebars. They’ve decorated our driveway with chalk. They’ve played the bean bag game.  There was a trip to a park and football in the backyard.  It isn’t quite sledding or shoveling or snow angel creating and there haven’t been any snowmen yet,  but I think it has been a fantastic trade.

The tiny drops of rain that are hitting the window now are welcome to fall as snowflakes, but I won’t complain about the rain either.

Venti

Did you know that sometimes when you are gestating a baby, your pelvis can get all wonky and cause you to feel varying degrees of excruciating pain when you move your legs? Well, it can.  And people, I am all up in that business. It is officially called SPD and I don’t remember what any of those letters stand for right now, nor do I feel any need to google it for you.  If you really care, feel free to do so yourself.  Apparently one of the side effects is ‘lazy’.

One of the things that is suggested for SPD is using crutches.  That has to be the stupidest suggestion I have ever read for pregnant women. Pretty much every single thing you read about giant lopsided bodies is that they should wear sturdy shoes and keep their feet firmly planted on the ground. Putting crutches under the armpits of third trimester waddling women is only a good idea if someone has a camera and is looking to wind up being made fun of by Daniel Tosh.

I did, however, appreciate the advice to move my legs at the exact same time when turning over in bed. Since it already takes a forklift and a hard hat to turn me over at night, I figured moving my legs at the same time might prove too difficult for me, but no. Accomplished!  And helpful!

Three weeks to go until I am officially full term and then I am going to follow every stupid suggestion I find on the internet on how to start labor. I have no idea if midwives are into membrane stripping, but I’m going to find out. For realz.

This is What We’re Watching

It’s reaching epic proportions.

To All

This year I did not even attempt to take a picture and get all Christmasy Photoshop on it. I did not plan to print them off cheaply or to send them out in envelopes to friends and family. What I did do to prepare for the holiday was to go shopping one Saturday and buy a few things. Not all the things I need to buy, of course. I will be leaving later today to finish that project (3 things left – the three things that I have no idea about – the ones for the hard recipients, except my mother, who used to be the hard one, but she is much easier in my mind now; See: Gift cards for places she loves). I have not baked. I did not think about coordinating outfits for the children.

I have laid around pretty much every evening while my uterus contracts. It has been awesome. I have consumed my own weight in Tums and Protonix while being pretty sure that my esophagus has holes in it. I have made suppers I cannot eat and watched my ability to use reason disappear down the garbage disposal. I have stressed out about nothing and shrugged over things that have meaning.

There is no snow on the ground and the weather is unseasonably warm. It just doesn’t feel a lot like Christmas and that seems rather fitting for 2011. It wasn’t the kind of year over which I’ll be nostalgic down the road. It was one of the hardest we’ve been through, really – lots of death (figuratively and very much literally), lots of uncertainty, lots of disappointment, lots of just straight up hard stuff. This would’ve been one bummer of a Christmas letter had I decided to write it all down month by month or something.

But it wasn’t all hard and it wasn’t all bad. We had visits from my incredible cousin Jackie and her hilarious husband Chris, Ronke, Allison & Dan, friends from overseas and more. We watched our kids grow into amazing, hilarious people that we like more and more every day. We watched great people get married, good friends have adorable babies and parents walk through the process of adopting their little ones. We went on trips and made memories that will one day, hopefully, be louder than the hard stuff.

I don’t know what your 2011 was like, but I hope that no matter the over arching theme (dramz or chill or love or death) you’ll be able to be thankful for the journey. I have been repeatedly reminded of Job’s comment to his wife in 2:10 where he says “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” I suppose I should label it the verse of the year. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Here’s to 2012! To new life, new adventures and the unknown of a year packed with possibilities.