Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Four Months

(Yes, I am ridiculously behind on this. She turned four months old on November 13. But anyway...)

She is now 15 lbs., 23.25 inches and looks awesome in a tutu.

Elizabeth is growing increasingly fascinated by the television, which is causing Lee and I to reflect more on Elizabeth's presence when we watch South Park. Will her first word be "Beefcake"? We hope not. But it is kind of hilarious to watch her stare so intently at football games and sitcoms. In general though, we're trying to keep her from watching much TV at this point. Partly because of all that research that says that babies shouldn't watch TV until they're two, but mostly to avoid having to watch Dora the Explorer for as long as possible.

Her head control is awesome (Did we discuss this last month? I feel like she's been doing this for awhile. It all blurs together.) at this point and she's getting better at sitting. She rolls over rarely, but apparently rolling over has more to do with personality than development. I read that somewhere...

She had her first cold, which even though I called the pediatrician twice about it, was super mild. It never seemed to bother her and she never had a fever, there was just snot pouring out of her nose for a couple days followed by a cough. Sucking snot out of baby's noses is surprisingly fun. Well, for me at least; she hates it. I'm almost a little sad she's well now because I want to suction more stuff out of her nose.

Unfortunately, she no longer sleeps through mass. Bummer. Please share any tips on what to do with babies in churches that don't have cry rooms or nursery programs.

This past month saw two major holidays: Homecoming and Halloween. Elizabeth was so excited to get her first glimpse of Centre College and met many adoring fans at her future home-away-from-home, the ADPi house. (I'm not already planning her bid day or anything. I don't get misty talking about being there when she runs to the house and how I'll have my chapter letters ready for her. I didn't set aside a box of ADPi things for her before I even met Lee. I'll love her no matter what she decides and clearly she should make her own choices, but...)

For Halloween she was the prettiest mermaid ever. We were going to drive around and visit family until I realized that it's impossible to buckle a mermaid into a car seat and there's only so many times I want to redress my mermaid (none), so we stayed home and visited our neighbors and handed out candy.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Three Months

Yesterday Elizabeth turned four months old, but she keeps me pretty busy so let's go back in time and pretend it's October!

This month she discovered toys and the joys of putting things in her mouth. It started one morning at mom's group when she was sitting in my lap, playing with my hand and the next thing I knew she was sucking on my finger. Her princess has been her favorite toy and she's also started to enjoy her baby gym.

She went to her first wedding this month, although I fed her in the car during the ceremony and she slept in her carrier through 95% of the reception.

We moved her out of the pack-and-play in our room into her crib in her room. As fast as she's growing, I always think she's growing much faster, so it seemed like any day now she would very likely break the 15-pound weight limit for the bassinet. She of course still hasn't hit 15 pounds, although we are now only ounces away. I also felt bad because the pack-and-play's bassinet wasn't entirely level so she would always slide down to the middle at night with her face smooshed against the mesh side. She's doing very well in her crib and the hardest adjustment has been hoisting over the crib's side, which is much higher than the bassinet, to get her in the crib without waking her.

This month also marked her first projectile vomit. She didn't appear to be sick, but still managed to spew, spew, and spew some more over the edge of her high chair tray. It was like a disgusting fountain of undigested breast milk. Once we got it cleaned up (Thank God Lee was home!), we had to comment that we were pretty proud of her impressive vomit skills. It takes so little to amuse us sometimes.

So. Much. Cute. It is a daily struggle to not eat those cheeks. I handle the temptation by kissing them constantly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Elizabeth's Birth Story Part 3 (The End)

Despite getting one of the “expectant mother” spots at the hospital, I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to be able to walk all the way in. We got me a wheel chair, which was more uncomfortable than the car and went to registration. They quickly showed me the way upstairs and said they could take care of the paper work there.

We got to the Labor and Delivery desk and… no one was there. At this point I am Captain Not Happy and kept calling, “Hello?! Hello?!” and was just about to tell Lee to go ahead and wheel me back when nurses appeared. Not just any nurse either, but the nurse I fell in love with on our first tour (We wound up taking like 4 hospital tours.) and would have booked to my labor nurse right on the spot if you could do that sort of thing. And here she was to be my nurse!

I hadn’t been able to find my birth plan before I left but it didn’t matter. This is why I love my midwife and Clark Memorial. They asked if I wanted a tub room/ no drugs, I said yes, and that was all they needed to know. They had a tub room available but no telemetry monitor and took me there to get set up. I guess I looked far enough along in labor to skip the whole triage check.

About two minutes after I entered the room and had finished telling them that I would like to continue laboring in my own clothes, my water broke. Just pop and whoosh. I went ahead and changed into their hospital gown then. They got me in the bed to check my dilation (which is really one of the worst parts of the whole thing. I’m convinced our bodies were made to deal with contractions, but not anyone’s hand going up there.). I was at 8 and they asked me to give a little push and I opened up to 10! Success! The staying-home-as-long-as-possible plan had gone perfectly and I arrived at the hospital just when I wanted to.

Even though I could’ve technically started pushing then, I didn’t. I was a little unclear as to some of the reasons why. I’m not sure midwife was there yet and doula was still on her way (What do you know she had another client in labor at the same time and was leaving a third client’s emergency c-section to come meet us. I’m just thankful she made it because it would’ve sucked without her.)

So they took more blood, got my hep lock on (The only needle I wanted.), took care of some paperwork and got me my wristbands. They didn’t have any telemetry monitors available so I stood next to the bed, kind of leaning on it, while they hooked me up to the external monitor. The only part that was really a hospital annoyance was the monitor. They kept me hooked up to that for a while because they couldn’t get the reading for long enough because the belt kept slipping. Or something. But the readings they were getting suggested that everything was fine. Not that I really felt like moving that much anyway, at that point. This stuff took about an hour to an hour and a half. It seemed that we were waiting for something but I don’t know what. I just leaned into the bed for the contractions. Lee kept pushing on my back, which still hurt but at this point I wasn’t sure if it was because of labor or because Lee had been pushing on it all day.

I was eager to push or get in the tub so they checked me and I was at 10! Push time! Do I care that I didn’t get tub time? No. Just get this baby out!

At 7 pm-ish I started pushing. I was hoping I’d be one of those people who pushes for 30 minutes. I told myself it would all be over in an hour.

The nurse from the tour had gotten caught up with someone else’s birth so now I was with a new nurse who was delightful. I was a little bummed, but new nurse was awesome and I love her and if it hadn’t been awkward would have probably given her lots of hugs afterward. (Of course, after all she saw of me why not hug?!). I was very concerned because my midwife wasn’t there yet but apparently it was fine for me to go ahead and start pushing. Perhaps they knew that it was going to be awhile. If they knew that, I’m glad they didn’t tell me. ;)

Lee was behind me and I propped my legs up on the squat bar and started pushing. Just like we learned in class, pushing is a bit of a relief. The hard part for me with the pushing was A. Holding my breath. Seriously. That was ridiculous. It felt so natural to exhale and moan/scream but no, I had to try to hold my breath. And B. OMG my thighs were so sore from my tendency to tighten them during contractions all day (I know, bad Katie.) so holding them up on the bar was miserable. Honestly though, at the point the worst parts of labor (For me, everyone feels it differently.) were vaginal exams and how tired my thighs were.

I kept pushing. I kept begrudgingly holding my breath. I felt like I was doing a horrible job but nurse, doula and Lee kept encouraging me with each push like it was my first. They were amazing. Seriously. In my head I felt like I wasn’t doing a good, but all I heard was praise and encouragement. So much excitement and praise and encouragement.

After an hour, there was still no sign of Elizabeth. I was trying to remember the cons of using a forceps or vacuum because I was sure that I was an insufficient pusher. Nurse and doula would help me stretch my legs. Lee would help me hold them back. Seriously, at this point I had no idea how I could hold my legs back and hold my breath and push. I was exhausted. I hadn’t really gotten any real length of sleep the night before. Doula kept the ice chips coming and the cool wash cloth on my head.  I kept glancing out the window. Our room had a beautiful view of downtown Louisville. By sunset, I told myself, she’ll be here.

And sure enough, probably around 8:30, my midwife, who had been wearing dress pants and a fancy top, got a big hospital cover up thing on. She pulled out a fancy wand to adjust the lights (which were still dim) so she could see my lady bits better. My support team was getting more and more excited. More and more people were in the room, quietly getting together trays and equipment. I knew we were finally almost done. No one seemed to mind anymore when I would scream instead of holding my breath while pushing.

My doula said she had red hair but I kept thinking, “Are you sure that’s not all the blood?” I also remember my doula saying that the reason pushing was taking a while was because she was sunny-side-up. But we were starting to see that that was not the case. I reached down to touch her head. It was much squishier than I imagined. And then two more pushes, what literally felt like the biggest poop of my life – so poetic I know. But so. Much. Pressure. -- And she was out. 8:48 p.m.

They laid her on my stomach and wiped her down and sunctioned her like they were changing tires on NASCAR or something. It was so quick and efficient. She didn’t cry right away but my midwife assured me she was fine and then a few moments later, she cried.

Then I got briefly distracted by my midwife asking for some local. I did not feel myself tear, but I did feel the stitches. Then they were pushing on my stomach which was horribly uncomfortable.  And after all the labor and birthing, you just want comfort. Just snuggles some Panera (I wanted Panera so bad!), not stiches and pushing on my tired tummy. But I had my baby. It was so surreal. And I think I was too tired to really know what to do or think next. She was huge. We were all surprised by that. I really wanted Panera. It was all I talked about while pushing, but Panera was closed. I was so hungry. I got some orange juice and a granola bar. My doula helped me start breastfeeding. Really, she did it for me. I was so exhausted. I just kind of watched.

We had probably a good hour to snuggle like that. My nurse came back and we handed Elizabeth off to Lee so I could go to the bathroom but I still wasn’t really into the idea of standing. They got me some more orange juice and an IV with fluids and Pitocin. Our family came in to visit briefly and ooh and ahh over baby and get our McDonald’s order. My nurse and I tried to go the bathroom again and I made it this time. She helped clean me up some more and E and I were ready for recovery. I was so weak I wasn’t sure if I could carry her, even in the wheel chair, to recovery. But Lee couldn’t carry her while walking (Apparently you can’t transport babies by foot around hospitals.) so I managed it. It really wasn't that hard after all. ;)

Lee went with her to the nursery. We all waited outside to see how much she weighted! 9 lbs 6 oz! (And 21.5" long and 14.5" head circumference) They found a 3 month shirt for her to wear and some size 1 diapers (The NB diapers they had in the delivery room were too small for her and kind of made her look like a sumo wrestler.) Probably around midnight I got my McDonald’s. I don’t know if I was still feeling wonky from the minimal food I had eaten that day and loss of fluids or if it was just late night McDonald’s, but it did not taste very good.

I was feeling so exhausted in about every possible way one could be exhausted. And really, you can only be so comfortable with an ice pack in your mesh underwear, but I had done it. I had given birth and lived to tell about it. And, minus a second-degree tear and a general desire that the whole process had been a bit quicker, things really couldn’t have gone more perfectly. And speaking of perfect, have you met my daughter?

Part 1   |   Part 2

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Elizabeth's Birth Story Part 2

Wednesday, July 13

The contractions continued through the night. 10 minutes apart, 7 minutes apart. I would wake Lee up so he could push on my lower back during them. We would switch sides of the bed so I could rotate which side I was sleeping on and Lee could easily get to my back. My back was still hurting during contractions, but I felt pretty good in between contractions and it was not nearly as horrible as Sunday. Thank goodness.

We called our doula to talk strategy. She suggested we take things slow and that I rest a lot so I did. When I got tired of lying down I tried sitting but that was very uncomfortable. I’m not sure about all that sitting on pillows for the past two days to help the baby turn, but sitting now felt horrible, with or without the pillow. I spent one contraction on all fours but that was wretched. And I know you’re supposed to try something for more than one contraction but that's easier discussed during birth class than actually done.

Lee was generally running around the house, bringing me something, heating up my rice pack, getting our stuff together for the hospital and I would scream “Lee” or “Contraction” and he would come running to push the heel of his hand into my lower back.

Lee made me some toast for lunch and I remember watching the fun wedding entrance dance and my favorite version of Party in the USA on my iPhone because they make me happy. It’s a random detail, but one I want to remember.

I wasn't sure how well things were really progressing because my contractions  were spaced out differently according to what position I was in. If I was lying  down they were 6-7 minutes apart. If I was walking they were 3-4 minutes  apart. I talked to my doula some more. Our goal was to stay home as long as possible, but the tub at the hospital was really sounding nice. Our bathtub isn’t that comfortable when you’re not pregnant, but somehow Lee and I managed to squeeze in there. It felt a little better and I went to lie down some more afterward. This was at 2:30 or 3.

Around 3:30 the contractions started to feel a bit worse, but they were still about 6  minutes apart. I finally got up, uncomfortable in bed. I walked around  downstairs a little bit. Sitting was miserable, lying down was miserable. My contractions were now about 3 minutes apart and even Lee commented that they seemed to be getting worse. I asked Lee to make me a baked potato, my go-to sick food. I asked Lee to feed me the potato because I  just wasn’t able to at that point, but still hungry and wanting to stay nourished. Lee somehow got me propped up sitting on the Boppy on my desk chair  and leaning into the side of the couch. At 4:30 we called doula. She said to call her back in 30 minutes if this kept up.

We learned in birth class that knowing the moment to go to the hospital is  different for everyone. My doula knew it was time for me to go to the hospital when we called her around 5 and I shared that I would very likely die in the car on the way there. Mostly just because I could not conceive of sitting for any length of time. So Lee loaded the car with the stuff we had been collecting throughout the day (We brought so much stuff and hardly used any of it. Like the iPod player and video camera.), laid down some plastic and towels in the passenger seat incase my water broke, and we headed to the hospital.

My  hospital is located just across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana. To get there, you have to drive through Spaghetti Junction, where 71, 64 and 65 meet to create a general Big Hot Traffic Mess that peaks at rush hour. I had said several times that we would factor rush hour into our decision to leave for the hospital, but  here we were, 5 p.m. and pulling out of the driveway. Fortunately, we got there  in 30 minutes which is great timing. In the best of conditions it takes 20 minutes. We listened to Terry Meiners in the car.

One  of the rationales for waiting so long to leave for the hospital is that often  if you leave early in labor, the excitement of going to the hospital can slow  your contractions down. If you leave later in labor, it’s more likely that  things will continue at a nice pace. The moment we started to walk to the car, the contractions felt easier. The drive wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Lee reminded me to breathe slowly, which I thought I had been doing, but apparently hadn’t. It’s amazing how much actually breathing slowly can help. I was sure that we had left for the hospital too early and I told Lee that if I wasn’t at least 7 cm dilated I would be very unhappy. He reminded me not to get caught up on centimeters and we’d deal with whatever happened.

Part 1   |   Part 3