Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Love-Hate Relationship

I love breastfeeding.  I love the bonding time I get to spend with Ella, I love that I can give her body the nourishment that it needs, and I love the way she looks up at me with her beautiful blue eyes.  I have been blessed that breastfeeding has been a really good experience thus far.  She latched and nursed well from within the first hour of birth, and--as far as I can tell--things continue to go well.

But I hate pumping.  It hurts, it seems so unnatural to be hooked up to a machine, and I always end up feeling like a cow.  Not to mention, it always sounds like the motor of the pump is telling me to "wrap it up, wrap it up, wrap it up".  Ella is a very efficient eater, and I never seem to have that much milk leftover, so it often feels like a futile attempt to pump after nursing (it seems like I'm averaging 1.5 ounces each time).  But I want to build up my supply--both internally and externally.  Perhaps it might be better if we rented one of the higher-quality pumps from the hospital, but for now, I think I'm just going to grin and bear it (and by "grin", I really mean "grimace through the pain but know that it's worth it"). 

Any thoughts or recommendations on how I can make pumping a more enjoyable experience?  Also, I'd be curious to hear about anyone's "system" for pumping, storing, freezing, bottling, etc.  I know that there are plenty of "how-to guidelines" online, but it's kind of nice to hear it from women who I trust.

Today's blessing was having my husband stay home with me.  He woke up with a bit of a headache, so decided to just stay home.  I've noticed that he's been more and more willing to skip out on work ever since Ella arrived, whereas he was previously so diligent about building up his vacation time and not taking a day off for himself.  It was really nice to have him home with me and Ella--he really is so wonderful with her!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Reoccurring Nightmare

Ella sleeps in a cradle right next to our bed.  I love having her near me for the convenience of night feedings, and because...well...I just love having her near me.  But we don't co-sleep.  I recognize that co-sleeping works wonderfully for some families, but it's just not for us.  In fact, I'm deathly afraid of falling asleep with her in the bed and having some horrible accident. 

And it appears as though this fear is invading my dreams.  Nearly every night, I wake up in a near-panic from a dream--or actually it's more like a nightmare--that I somehow brought Ella into bed with us and then fell asleep and lost her in the blankets.  It freaks me out every night...until I look over and see her sleeping calmly in her cradle right next to me.

I think part of the fear stems from the very first night at home when things were less than perfect.  My milk was still coming in, we hadn't established a routine yet, and Ella was still figuring out what was day and what was night.  We were up fairly often that night (and the next), and I was so exhausted that I just nursed her while sitting up in bed.  But I found my eyes starting to close...and I really struggled to stay awake.  Okay, I admit it--I probably dozed off for a bit.  Thank God nothing bad happened--but I have been very careful to get up out of bed and sit in a chair to nurse her ever since.

Perhaps these reoccurring nightmares will subside in time as Ella begins to sleep through the night, and as I develop more confidence in my parenting abilities.  I guess it just goes to show that the worry doesn't stop with the delivery--I now have a whole new set of worries!  All I can do is trust that God will give me the strength, confidence, and wisdom that I need at the right times.

Today's blessing is the chance to head into town with my husband and Ella to participate in the Homecoming activities.  I know that I'll have a lot of students and colleagues--both current and former--who will be around campus and are anxious to meet Ella, so I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone and introducing them to her.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's In a Name?

So I recently realized that even though we finally decided on a name for our Baby Girl after finally meeting her (three weeks ago now...can you believe it?!?!), I never share why we chose her name.

You may remember that I previously shared my criteria for selecting a name.   Here is how her name--Eleanor Debra--stands up to what I was looking for:

  1. Be more "traditional" than "trendy":  Check!  In fact, I'd say that "Eleanor" is so much on the "traditional" side that my mother-in-law originally turned up her nose at it, saying that it "sounded too old for a little girl".
  2. Be just unique enough that it is easily recognizable and prounceable, and yet not have five other girls in her class with the same name (ie, probably not a name in the top 20 of today's most popular names--turns out that Laura was #20 the year I was born, and I don't know too many other Laura's):  Check!  "Eleanor" is ranked #218 in popularity...though "Ella" is already ranked #14.  Both have gained popularity in the last ten years, but hopefully she will still be "unique enough".
  3. Not remind either of us of someone "mean" who we knew with that name: Check!  On the contrary, my childhood friend--who taught me everything I know about what it means to be a good friend--was the inspiration behind "Eleanor".  But since "Eleanor" may sound a little too grown-up for a baby (see item #1), we opted to just stick with "Ella" for now (besides, with a name like "Laura" that can't be shortened...I always wanted my child to be able to have a nickname).
  4. Have a significant meaning:  Check!  "Eleanor" means "Light".  Though we chose the name first rather than the meaning, I do think that it is significant that her name means "Light", because she truly has brightened our world after the darker periods of loss.  And in case you're wondering, "Debra" means "Bee".
  5. Work well with the middle name that we have chosen to honor my mom, as well as our last name:  Check!  Though this was harder than we had imagined!  But I think that once we realized that a three-syllable first name would work best with "Debra", it made it a bit easier to narrow it down to "Eleanor Debra".
  6. Sound good as she's walking across the stage at graduation:  Check!  I like that it sounds traditional and...sophisticated.  And actually, the book of baby names that we purchased years and years ago when we first started trying has a list of "Intelligent Sounding Names" (as well as other lists...including "Blonde Sounding Names"), and I was pleased to see that "Eleanor" made the list (although I admit that I don't know how the list was actually generated).  I should admit that we also considered how her name would sound at her wedding...years and years and years from now.
And yes, "Eleanor" was on my husband's list as well...though I think he took it from the old Beatles' song.  It wasn't originally #1 on his list...but after delivering her, I think he would have given me absolutely anything in the world for which I may have asked.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find the name "Ella" in a significant piece of literature (at least for me) the other day.  I was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder (you know, from the Little House on the Prairie series), and have read and reread the books multiple times.  In fact, my parents have a picture of my dad reading one of the books to me when I was about Ella's age.  So of course, I in turn have begun reading them to Ella (and plan to do so again when she is old enough to appreciate the story).  It turns out that Laura's cousin is named Ella!  It's such a minor little part--the cousins come to visit for Christmas--but it still felt so fitting when I found that name alongside the character who inspired my name.

So there you go.  "Eleanor Debra"...or simply "Ella"...she is so incredibly precious to us!

And while on the topic of her name, I feel it's only right to recognize the two women behind her name as my blessings.  I have learned so much about what it takes to be a daughter, a mom, and a friend from each of them in their own way.  They are both amazingly strong, committed, caring, and nurturing.  They have both seen me at my absolute worst...and both help me to reach my optimal best.  I truly am blessed to have my "Eleanor", my "Debra", and my "Eleanor Debra" in my life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Blogging Future

Like so many others in this community have expressed, this blog was kind of a "lifesaver" for me as my husband and I struggled along the journey of infertility and loss.  I started it when I found out I was pregnant for the third time, hoping and praying that it would simply be a "pregnancy blog".  In time, it did eventually document my experience of carrying a beautiful baby to full term...but it wasn't on the timeline that I had imagined.  It helped me through the anger of that third loss, and in doing so, helped me to heal from the entire experience, which in turn helped me to grow--as a wife, as a daughter, as a friend, and now as a mother.

I'm not ready to leave this community.  I appreciate and admire the women who have encouraged and supported me along my journey so much.  Just because I have given birth to Ella doesn't mean that I am "healed" or "graduated" or "done" with the experience of loss.  It's something that doesn't go away--and I am forever changed because of what I've been through.  I feel as though I still need this community for the ongoing support and encouragement that I felt as I worked through the loss, then as I developed faith throughout the pregnancy, and now as I celebrate the life of Ella.  I don't feel like I can just walk away now.

I realize that some people come into our lives for short periods and others for a lifetime.  Like a crossing guard at a busy street, some are just with us for a short time to ensure safe passage before moving on.  If that was your role--praying me through the pregnancy until I finally held Ella in my arms--I thank you.  I hope that you'll stay with me as I embark on this new adventure of being a mother--but I also understand that sometimes our paths split apart.  For those of you who choose to stick with me and continue to follow my joys and trials, successes and failures of raising Ella (and hopefully, in time, future siblings)--I thank you as well.  I know that I'll need your words of wisdom, support, and encouragement.

For me, nothing really changes here.  I'll continue to pour out my heart, express my deepest desire to be a good mother, and remember all of my blessings.  I'll share my fears, my hopes, and the tender moments I have with my husband and Ella.  I hope that you'll continue to share this journey with me.

Today's blessing is my mom, who has been so helpful and supportive as I continue to recuperate from the post-delivery surgery.  Today is her last day with us, and even though it will be nice to have the house all to ourselves again, I'll really miss her when she is gone. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Baby Girl, I'm Going to Miss You Today"

My husband went back to work today.  He typically rides with three other guys in a carpool which leaves at 6:30 am, but he couldn't pull himself out of bed in time.  For starters, he's not a morning-person in the first place.  But I could see that it wasn't just the waking-up part that was getting to him really was hard for him to leave Ella.  He finally left the house around 8:30 am.

I admit that I teared up a bit when he leaned over and kissed her and said "Baby Girl, I'm going to miss you today" before finally rolling out of bed.  Once he was showered and ready to go, he picked her up out of the cradle and just held her for a few minutes, gazing at her in adoration, before leaving.  I promised to send him picture-texts throughout the day to hold him over until he comes home.

He really is an amazing father and I can tell that he loves her so dearly.  He still is squeamish around diapers, but he reads to her, explains baseball to her, and teaches her the words to our fight song.  There is so much that he's looking forward to doing with her as she grows up. 

Ever since our first date, I knew that he wanted to be a dad.  I can still perfectly remember that conversation about kids.  Over dinner that first night, he said, "If I have kids--no, scratch that--when I have kids, I want to be the type of dad that plays catch with them in the front yard".  He had me right there.  I knew, then and there, even after splitting a bottle of wine, that this man (who yes, I admit, I met in a bar) was the perfect partner for me.  It took us a long time to get to this point of "when I have kids", but I am so thankful that we're here, and I'm so glad that he's the one here with me.

My recent blessing was recently hearing that two special friends are both expecting.  The first is my childhood friend who taught me so much about true friendship, and she was the inspiration behind Ella's name.  She is now about 11 weeks along at this point with her second baby, and I am so thrilled for her.  The other friend is the wife of my college guy-friend, who I had reached out to earlier in the year and had learned that they had also experienced loss.  She is now about 15 weeks along, and everything is going well.  I'm so happy for both of them!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our Pediatrician is My Hero!

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and concerns regarding Ella's abnormal test results indicating Hypothyroidism.  It was a long night of worry and concern.  As I did so many times during my pregnancy, I lifted Ella up to God in prayer, recognizing that as hard as I may try, I can't protect her--only He can.  I can try my best to keep her as safe as humanly possible, but there are some things out of my control. 

I called the pediatrician's office this morning, and they were able to see us right away.  The first thing he asked was how long we had stayed in the hospital.  When I answered that we were released after about 26 hours, he went on to explain that it's possible that when they did the Heel Stick Test, that perhaps Ella's thyroid hadn't started working yet because it was still relying on my hormones (I hope that I'm explaining this correctly).  He sounded "hopeful" that this was the case, but calmly explained that if it wasn't, that we could address the situation easily enough with medication.  There was something in the way that he explained it all in such a calm and encouraging manner that helped me have a little sense of peace.  He then ordered a new set of labs STAT.

The phlebotomist had great bedside manner and was very kind to Ella and us, but he wasn't the most skilled at his job.  He had to stick her three times in order to collect enough blood for the TSH and T4 test for the Hypothyroidism, as well as the second round of infant screening tests (which they had neglected to order during our last two visits).  It broke my heart to see Ella in pain like that.

I was told to call the pediatrician's office back by 4:00 for the results.  I did, and was told that the triage nurse would call me back.  It's scary to have to wait those last few minutes--wondering if they didn't give me an answer right then because something was wrong.  She called back minutes later, and what an amazing relief to hear that Ella's TSH and T4 levels were within the normal range!  Praise God!

What a blessing to get this good news!  But additionally, what a blessing this pediatrician is!  I met him early in my pregnancy when my very-dear friend (who gave birth to a 9 lb baby boy on Wednesday) introduced me to him.  He was her favorite instructor while she was in medical school, and I quickly understood why.  Unfortunately, he's due to retire soon (in fact, this was supposed to be his last week, but he agreed to stay until December).  He's an amazing man, who spent the early part of his career as a doctor in the Army, and now is the father of eight kids--both biological and adopted, some with special needs.  His calm and encouraging approach was exactly what I needed today, and we are so blessed to have him caring for Ella...even if it's just for these first few weeks.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I'm a little on the worried side. 

We just got the results back from the Heel Screen Test, and Ella tested positive for Hypothyroidism.  My husband opened the letter while I was napping, and didn't have a chance to tell me until right after 5:00 pm, when the pediatrician's office closed.  So we'll have to call first thing tomorrow morning to schedule and appointment, retest, and figure out our next steps.

If Ella does indeed have Hypothyroidism, then it does sound like it can be treated with medication.  But she would be on medication for the rest of her life.  I don't want that for her...

I realize that there can be errors in the tests, and that there is also the chance that this is "transient" (meaning that it will correct itself on its own).  I'm really hoping and praying for the best, while also preparing myself for the reality of the condition.  I'm really worried...but I know that all I can do is trust God and place her in His healing hands.  Please pray for Ella, for us, and for the doctors who will be testing and treating her.

Despite our concern, today's blessing was learning that Madison's surgery went well.  Janet shares:

"At 11:45am the surgeon came out to tell us the surgery went successful and that Madison is responding well.  The anesthesia team is still working on her.  We are still waiting for her to transfer from OR to the NICU. And we're so anxious to see her!  We'll keep everyone posted and hope that she will have a quick recovery so she can come home in time for the holidays!  The doctor just hopes that she will be able to retain nutrition in her intestines. Of course we're anxious to see her poop again.  So much to share.."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back to Normal

It seems like things are settling back to normalcy again.  I'm feeling much better--though not quite 100%.  My mom arrived on Monday morning, and has been a tremendous help!  I want to help out, but it's also really good to be able to rest and relax and recuperate completely.  She'll leave next Wednesday, so I hope to be back to fully functioning by then.

Ella is doing wonderfully.  We had another appointment with the pediatrician on Monday, and I was ecstatic to learn that she had regained her birth weight--and then some.  I don't know if I mentioned that she was a tiny bit jaundiced at her first appointment, but that has worked itself out at this point as well.  They weren't concerned at all about her umbilical cord falling off so soon, and said it looks totally fine.  When I told the pediatrician about my ordeal, he was impressed that I was able to keep my milk supply up.  He explained that when a mother's body undergoes trauma, that it does what it can to survive, even if it means saying goodbye to the milk.  This thought hadn't even crossed my mind--but I'm so grateful that I've been sticking to a routine so as to sufficiently build up my supply.

Yesterday, a family friend from back home came over to take newborn pictures of Ella.  This was a shower gift, and she happened to be in the area to visit her parents, so it worked out perfectly.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the pictures, and I'll be sure to post some here as well when we get them.

At this point, I'm feeling pretty good--not just physically, but emotionally as well.  I admit that I had a bit of a meltdown on Sunday when we came back from the hospital.  I knew that I had done everything I could to care for Ella, but I was still worried that it wasn't enough.  Everyday is better than the last, and it really feels like my husband and I are....dare I say..."succeeding" as new parents.  I know we're not perfect, and we'll make plenty of mistakes along the way.  But it feels like we're a good team, and that makes me happy.

Today's blessing is knowing that my very-dear friend's Baby Boy will arrive today!  She was induced last night, and I have been glued to my cell phone ever since, waiting for updates.  They are expecting him to be a big baby--he was already measuring at approximately 8 lbs, 2 oz a week or two ago!  So please pray for a safe delivery for her and the baby.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Home Again

This homecoming wasn't nearly as exciting as the first time we brought Ella home, but it was just as sweet.  Thank you so so so much for all of your prayers.  It was quite a scary situation.

So here's the story of why I ended up in the hospital in the first place.  On my original discharge papers, it said to call if I had any clotting larger than a ping-pong ball.  On Wednesday evening, I passed a sizable clot, but it was smaller than a ping-pong ball, so my mom and I decided it was fine, and everything went back to normal after that.  On Friday afternoon, I changed my pad when I went to the restroom like normal, but felt that it was full within about 30 minutes.  Since it was Friday at 4:00 pm, I figured perhaps it was best to call the nurse before the start of the weekend, just to be sure.  She asked me to just monitor the bleeding and call her back.  About an hour later, I passed a much larger clot (perhaps the size of three ping-pong balls), but did not have a temperature or any pain.  Again, the nurse asked me to just monitor the bleeding and call her back.  She figured that my body had done what it needed to do by passing the clot, and since the bleeding did totally slow down, I agreed with her.

The rest of the early evening was uneventful, until about 10:00 when I nursed Ella on one side.  During that 15 minutes or so, I could feel the blood flowing, and sure enough--I soaked a brand new pad in 15 minutes.  I called and spoke with the on-call OB doctor, and she encouraged me to come in.  Her concern was that there was part of the placenta still in place, and that I would need a D&C.  I nursed Ella on the other side while my husband packed up her diaper bag and a bag for us.  Again, I could feel the blood just coming and coming.

I was starting to get light-headed, so sat down on a beach towel in the car while my husband loaded Ella and everything in.  Before we left, I had him grab me another towel, as I could tell that I was bleeding heavily.  Sure enough, by the time we got to the hospital (about 30 minutes away), the blood had soaked through the pad and was pooling in my lap.  By the time that they got me into one of the rooms and pulled my pants down, the adhesive from the pad was so saturated that it complete detached from my underwear.  I had them just throw the towel, shorts, and underwear away.

The doctors did an ultrasound, assuming to find part of the placenta in the uterus.  But aside from a little bit of fluid in my uterus, it was clear.  So they did an internal check, which was extremely uncomfortable, and determined that I must have a tear in my vagina.  They decided to operate, and prepared me for some of the various scenarios that might play out--anything from a D&C to a hysterectomy.  I remember them washing off my bloody hand so that I could sign the consent forms, and being amazed at how ashen and pale my skin looked.  I was able to kiss my husband and Ella as they wheeled me into surgery.

I woke up from the surgery in pain, but relieved to hear that although the situation was bad, that it was probably the best-case scenario for which I could hope.  They did not have to do a D&C, as they initially feared.  Rather, they determined (and I hope I'm getting this right) that I must have sustained a tear in my vagina during delivery, and that the injury has been slowly bleeding and creating a clot.  So they lanced the hematoma, drained it, and then created a "Vag Pack"--which means that they stuffed my vagina full of gauze so that it would create pressure on the tear and help it to heal.  I was told that the "Vag Pack" was about the size of an apple, and that it would be removed on Sunday morning.

By about 3:00 am, we were moved to a recovery room where my husband and Ella could be with me.  Though I was in horrible discomfort, I was able to nurse Ella (I kept double-checking with the doctors and nurses that all of the meds would not interfere with breastfeeding).  I was incredibly weak, so my husband fed me a sandwich and carrots from one of the hospital sack-lunches while I breastfed.  They also started me on two units of blood, since I had lost so much.  After feeding Ella, I was able to sleep a little bit.  I remember waking up half-way through the first unit of blood to allow the nurse to take my vitals, and finally feeling alive once more.

Then came a really long 24 hours of waiting with a "Vag Pack" stuffed inside of me.  The pain eventually subsided a bit, and I just became extremely uncomfortable.  My poor butt hurt, no matter which way I tried to lie down.  My heart goes out to the women who endure bedrest in order to protect their unborn babies, because I really struggled with just that one day.

We did the best we could to make things "normal" for Ella, but it's hard to do so when she needs me and I'm so incapacitated.  My husband was amazing.  He had yet to change a dirty diaper (I know, a little hard to believe--but remember that we had all four grandparents here until Thursday), but he definitely had "trial by fire".  There was even one episode in which Ella continue to poop once he had undone her diaper (he eventually started stealing gloves to make the clean-up a little cleaner for him).  In the early afternoon, I fed her, and he then took her over to the home of our very-dear friend (who is due, herself, on Wednesday) so that he could take a shower and she and another friend could give Ella a bath and help with wake/play time.    These friends also brought us lunch and dinner as well, so that we didn't have to eat hospital food yet again.  While eating, my regular doctor came by, and was as perplexed as me as to why this all developed nine days after delivery.  It would make sense for it to happen right away--but I didn't have any symptoms until everything happened so quickly on Friday evening.

We tried to stick to our routine as much a possible, but it's tough in a hospital.  I could nurse her, but I was stuck to an IV on one side and a catheter on the other side, and things on my legs to prevent blood clots.  The nurses were amazing, and helped as much as they could.  But typically, my husband was the one left to hand me Ella to feed, pick her up to burp, hand her back to me for the other side, burp her again...and then play with her, change her diaper, comfort her, or put her to sleep, depending on what was needed at that particular moment. 

I was scared that removing the "Vag Pack" would be extremely painful, but the resident doctor did a good job of going slowly and carefully.  Sure enough--the balled-up gauze was about the size of an apple.  But it seems to have done its job, as the bleeding seems to have subsided.  We were released early this morning, and have been trying to recuperate at home.  My husband and I are both physically and emotionally exhausted, but Ella is our first concern.  We're doing all that we can to get things back to normal for her.  I'm also so grateful that my mom is going to come back tomorrow to help out.  Her initial plan was to come back next week once my husband goes back to work, but given this experience, she is going to return sooner to help us out.  We just need to make it through tonight on our own, and then we'll have some extra help again.

Ella's umbilical cord fell off today--which seems a little early.  I know that I did all that I could to care for her while I was in the hospital, but I still can't help but worry that it wasn't enough.  We have an appointment with the pediatrician tomorrow, and I really pray that everything is okay.  I know I can't beat myself up--I really did absolutely everything that I could, given my condition.

My blessing is my husband.  I don't know what I would do without him.  He's such a good daddy to Ella, and he's a wonderful husband to me.  I'm sure it must have been hard for him to see me like I was, but he's always so strong for me when I feel so weak.  I love him dearly.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In The Hospital Again

Ella is totally fine.

But I ended up in the hospital again due to extreme bleeding. Please pray for us.

The blessing is the nurses and doctors; and that it's not the worst case scenario. But please pray.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Just the Three of Us

My in-laws left this morning, and my parents left this afternoon.  It's just the three of us now.

Overall, it was really nice to have everyone here.  The only other time when my parents and my in-laws have spent any time together was at our wedding more than three years ago.  With so many people staying under one roof, it definitely gave everyone the chance to get to know each other better.  Perhaps there was just a tiny bit of tension here and there, but I think that everyone got along pretty well, for the most part.

I think that I would have preferred to have just my parents here, but it just didn't turn out that way.  I think that my mother-in-law has the best intentions, but I couldn't help but feel judged by some of her little comments here and there.  But I can see how she probably felt like she was in a really challenging position--she's a mom, but she's not my mom, and my mom is here, and I'm obviously going to listen to my mom before I listen to her.  At the same time, my family has developed a direct style of confrontation, whereas my husband's family does not like to deal with confrontation at all, whatsoever.  They prefer to ignore the situation...and then they tend to talk about the person behind their back.  For example, my mom and mother-in-law went shopping yesterday (which I think was a great bonding opportunity for them, which made me really happy), and my mother-in-law complained to my mom that I bossed her (my mom--not my mother-in-law) around too much.  Well...yeah.  I just had a baby!  I'm still uncomfortable in my "lady parts", I'm breastfeeding every couple of hours, I'm only sleeping for up to five hours at a time.  So yes, I need some help around the house.  And I think that my mom was more than willing to help out.  Beside, our pediatrician said that if anyone is staying for a week, that they better be cleaning the bathroom!  So I think that I was totally justified in asking for some help around the house while I recover and adjust, and from my conversations with my mom, she was more than happy to help out.  In fact, she plans to come back in a couple of weeks once my husband goes back to work.

While I admit that I was ready to see my in-laws leave, it was really, really hard for me to see my parents drive off.  I know that I'm extra hormonal right now, but I definitely cried as they packed up and said goodbye to me, my husband, and Ella.  From what I hear, it was just as hard for them to leave as well (my dad blames his "allergies" for making his eyes water).  I'm really looking forward to seeing my parents (and the rest of my family) again at Christmas. 

So now it's just the three of us--me, my husband, and our precious Ella.  The house sure feels quiet--but perhaps in a "good" way.  We're still sticking with the eat-play-sleep routine, though I admit that I will miss the way my parents played with Ella and how efficient they were in helping to put her to sleep.  But this does give my husband and me more quality time with her--as well as the freedom to figure things out for ourselves.  It's a little bit scary to be on our own, but ultimately, we are so ready to truly begin feeling like a little family.

Today's blessing was hearing that my brother and sister-in-law had a great anatomy scan!  They have opted to wait to find out the gender, so we are really excited to hear if Ella's going to have a boy or a girl cousin in February!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Birth Story

Plainly said, September 30th was one of the happiest days of my life.

I left off with my getting-things-started update around 7:00 am on Thursday morning.  Looking back and reading through that post, I sounded so chipper and excited.  I really was ready to get things started and meet our Baby Girl.  It was around that time that they started the Pitocin, so I really began to feel the contractions.  But the pain was totally manageable.  In fact, I opted to sit on the labor ball and play a game of Scrabble against my husband.  I felt good enough to let my very-dear friend (who is due next week!) come up to the room to visit.  The only problem was that the monitors didn't like my movement on the ball, and the nurses kept coming in to check to make sure everything was okay.  So I eventually just went back to the bed.

Around 8:00 am or so, the new day Resident doctor came in to check, and opted to break my water.  I was so surprised at how warm it was and how much it gushed everywhere!  What a sensation!  (And in case anyone is wondering--not painful).

During this phase, I was feeling contractions every 2-4 minutes that lasted about 45-60 seconds.  My husband was great about helping me breath through them, as it was my goal to try to have a natural birth.  As the morning went on, the nurse continued to check on me, and continued to up the Pitocin, as she wanted to get me to "active labor" with contractions 2 minutes apart (or less).  I asked the nurse how long it would take to continue to dilate, and she said that once I hit the "active labor" stage, that--on average--it would take about an hour per centimeter.  At the time, I was at 4 centimeters, and I admit that since I hadn't slept much the night before, I was started to get tired.  The contractions were also getting more painful (thanks to the Pitocin) I broke.  I opted for the epidural.  Like I said, I was hoping for a natural birth because of the cyclical nature of the labor process, and how one thing leads to the next.  But when I heard it would probably be six more more hours before pushing...I gave in and asked for the epidural.

But perhaps that was a mistake.  As the Anaesthesiologist(s) began to prep me, I mentioned--mostly as a joke--that I have scoliosis.  This turned out to be more problematic than I had realized.  I opted to give birth at a teaching hospital, and the poor Resident was having a hard time finding the right location to insert the epidural.  It was a really frustrating process, and I was continuing to experience pretty intense contractions through it all.  Three attempts later, and the Attending Anaesthesiologist finally got it in...but all it really did was numb my right thigh.  They tried different dosages, and I think even different medications.  I know that they made adjustments as least three times, but it still did not seem to be helping.  They had me lie on my side, hoping that gravity would kick in.

It was while I was on my side that I felt the sudden urge to push.  All along, I hadn't ever hit the call-button for the nurse.  I know that's what they are there for, but I didn't want to be too much of a burden.  But suddenly, I needed someone...and I needed them quick.

In all the confusion of the epidural, I hadn't been checked at the two-hour increment as had been planned.  So my new nurse (my original day nurse had two patients, and had transitioned over to the other woman) checked me, and sure enough--I was at 10 centimeters!  I had gone from 4 to 10 in about two hours!  So much for the "one centimeter per hour" rule that the original nurse had suggested!  And no wonder I felt the need to push!

They got my doctor, gave me my instructions on what to do, and then the real fun began.  I'm proud to say that I did not poop on the table...though I'm embarrassed to admit that I did totally empty my bladder on that first push.  Oh well...they've seen it all, right?  I ended up pushing for about two hours, and I do think that the epidural finally kicked in a bit, because I was able to rest (if you can call it that) between pushes.  We noticed that each of my contractions was lasting longer than the series of three pushes, so my doctor asked me to wait off on starting to push so as to maximize the contraction at the end.  It's not quite as easy as it sounds!  But I sure tried, and I also tried to give a valiant final bonus fourth push at the end of each series as well.  Toward the end, I was rather delirious from the pain and the exhaustion.

But all of that changed at 2:10 pm, when I felt her head emerge, pushed again to release one shoulder and then the next, and then finally saw the precious gift from God for which I have waited for so long.  I was initially a tiny bit concerned that she looked rather purple, but she immediately cried, and they gave her to me right away.  She was (and continues to be) so precious!  I only got to hold her for about five minutes before they took her back to get her cleaned up and weighed, but then they gave her back to me to nurse.  I was so excited that she latched right away, and has continued to do so ever since. 

Once they finished cleaning me up, my parents--who had arrived about two hours earlier, just as I was getting ready to push--came in to the delivery room to meet their new granddaughter.  It was also at this time that my husband and I decided on her name, Eleanor Debra, or Ella as a nickname.  They then took her down to the nursery for about two hours of check-ups and observation.  It broke my heart to see her leave so soon, but it gave me the chance to (finally!) eat and sleep.  I was then moved downstairs to a recovery room, and was (finally!) reunited with Ella.

That first night in the hospital was super easy!  Ella was a perfect little angel, and the nurse had to wake me up in the middle of the night to have me wake her up to nurse.  The next morning, they took her back to the nursery for more observations and to see the Pediatrician, who reported back to us that she is in excellent health.  We were released from the hospital about 4:30 pm that day--about 26 hours after giving birth.

It was wonderful to come home...though Ella wasn't nearly as angelic those first two nights as she was that night in the hospital.  My mom was fabulous about helping out when I just couldn't get Ella to go back to sleep without sticking my boob in her mouth.  After that second long night at home, I knew that something had to change.  I had started but hadn't yet finished reading On Becoming Babywise, so I pulled it back out to refresh on those principles.  Since then, we've really endeavored to establish an eat-play-sleep routine during the day, and it really seems to be helping.  With this routine, Ella has slept much better for the last two nights.  In fact, I'd say that last night was nearly as close to perfect as I could hope for a less-than-one-week old.  I know it won't always be this way, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment for helping her get into a routine.  My parents and in-laws will leave this weekend, and we'll be on our own at that point.

My blessing for today is my parents.  It's nice to have my in-laws here as well, but my mom and dad have really stepped up to help out.  Not only have they been helping with Ella, but my mom is cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, taking out my trash, and consoling me when I feel like my mother-in-law is being judgemental; and my dad has been pulling a gazillion weeds in our yard that have been overlooked during my pregnancy.  I am so thrilled to be able to share these first few days of Ella's life with them.  They are wonderful parents, and amazing grandparents!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pictures and Quick Update

Thank you so so so much to everyone's outpouring of well wishes, encouragement, and support.  I was totally overwhelmed by so many of your loving comments! 

I want to write more...but, well...I have a newborn to love on!  So this is just a quick update to let everyone know that both Ella and I are home, healthy, and happy.  I'm tired and sore, but my husband and parents have been absolutely wonderful at doing everything around the house and letting me just sit and rest and nurse.  I promise to share the birth story when I have a moment, but for now, I'll leave you with some more pictures:

Her onesie says "My Dad Rocks"...and yes, my husband (who is a drummer) does totally rock.   He is amazing with her, and I fall more and more in love with him every time I see him with her.

Yeah...that pretty much wraps up how I felt yesterday afternoon when we got home from the hospital.  Not exactly the most glamorous picture of me, but there is nothing better than having Ella here with me now!

As for today's blessing, I am so overwhelmed at God's goodness!  I have waited so long for this precious gift, and now that she is here, she is so much better than I ever could have imagined!  It was a long journey, but I learned so much along the way.  I pray that God continue to bless me as I attempt to be a good mom to this amazing little girl.

Thank you, again for all of your love and prayers and support!  So many of you are so special to me, and please know that I pray for you often.  There were also comments of support from names that I admit that I don't recognize.  If you want to connect with me, please feel free to email me at dougandlaura(dot)ullrich(at)gmail(dot)com.  Sincerely, thank you again!  God bless!