Monday, August 26, 2013

Settling In

Anna is now two weeks old, and I should try to finish the rest of the story before I forget.

The hospital protocol has changed since Ella was born, so she was placed on my chest the moment she was born, instead of being cleaned up first. She nursed right away. Those first moments of looking into the eyes of your child are so incredibly precious.

I had a good amount of tearing again that required some stitches. You may remember that I ended back in the hospital after Ella for a really bad hematoma. I don't know if it was somehow related to a resident doing my sutures or not, but I appreciated that my doctor did them herself this time. We later learned that the first-year resident who was learning and helping with our delivery (we chose a teaching hospital because I value education) is actually an ER doctor, so I'm glad that he was able to observe, but glad that he wasn't actually the one with the needle. Stitches "down there" are never comfortable, even from the best doctor.

By the time they were able to clean Anna up, I was able to walk around, which made me so glad that I had persisted without the epidural. I also got a lot of praise and admiration from the nursing staff because I was able to wheel Anna down to the recovery room myself instead of by wheelchair. I was a little tender from the stitches, but it sure felt good to be up and walking around!

Anna nursed well in the afternoon and evening, but wasn't interested at 12:30 am when I woke her up at the 3-hour mark. We did an hour of skin-to-skin, but she still wasn't interested. The nurse did a heal prick to test her blood sugar levels, which were fine, and in doing so, Anna took a little "comfort nurse". But when she finished, she spit up, and there was some nasty blood mixed in, which freaked me out a bit. We called the nurse back, and she explained that Anna had probably swallowed some vaginal blood, and while it looks alarming, that it's actually fine, and perhaps even "good" for her gut. My very-dear friend further explained that the blood could be upsetting her stomach, thus explaining why she wasn't interested in nursing. She nursed and spit up more blood throughout the morning, but it seemed to work it's way out, from both directions, in time.

My parents arrived the next morning, and my husband went with my dad to pick up Ella while my mom watched Anna and I took a shower. It was one of the smallest showers with the worst water pressure ever, but it still felt good (we had gotten to the recovery room so late the night before that we just went straight to sleep).

Here is the video of my first baby meeting our newest baby:

As she was getting ready to leave to go out to lunch and then back to our house, Ella asked if we could name the baby "Tutu" instead of "Anna Victoria", but we had to explain that we had already signed all the paperwork and we were sticking with her original suggestion.

A couple more screenings and a dozen or so papers to sign, and we were released to head home pretty much exactly 24 hours after she was born. By the way, we learned with Ella that there would be lots of paperwork, so we brought a binder with pocket inserts so that we could keep track of everything. If you're headed to have a baby anytime soon, I'd recommend that you do the same. It helps you keep everything in place, and will totally impress the staff!

Ella screamed the whole way home from the hospital. Anna didn't make a peep (in fact, she's a really good traveler, at least so far--she's only made one little grunt noise in last two weeks while in her carseat). Ella screamed that whole first night at home, impatient for my milk to come in. Anna did the same--though this time, we knew to expect it. After nursing her the best I could, I gave her to my dad to soothe so that my husband and I could get a good "base" sleep of 2-3 hours. I nursed her the best I could ever two hours or so after that, and gave my husband the in-between shifts. Unlike with Ella, when I was petrified of causing nipple confusion, we opted to offer Anna a pacifier that first night, which seemed to help. The second night was a little better, and she was on a good cycle of waking up to eat approximately every three hours after that.

We went back to the hospital the next day for a weight check, and weren't surprised that she had dipped a bit (as is expected). They asked us to come back two days later, and her weight took another tiny dip. That resident gave us the "doom and gloom" speech, and my husband and I were not impressed. But when the attending came in, the first thing she asked was how long I had breastfed Ella. When I responded that we had breastfed for 15 months, and had exclusively breastfed for six months, and went on to explain that her poops were indeed transitioning from meconium to the expected stooling pattern, the attending waved off the resident's concerns and agreed that we were doing everything right. We went back the following Tuesday for another weight check, and we were only two ounces off from her original birth weight--so my milk did indeed come in sometime over the weekend. Unfortunately, we had to see that resident again (and had to wait an hour to do so!), but I really hope that we don't run into her again.

Anna continues to be a pretty content baby--or perhaps we just know what we're doing this time around! Ella wasn't necessarily a "colicky" baby, per se, but she was rather "demanding". But I'm sure that I was probably also a nervous new mom, and there's something to be said for having a calming and confident presence this time around. And I know I made little "mistakes" with Ella--even things like nursing for 15 minutes on each side, instead of letting her drain one breast before offering the other. I look back and wonder if she perhaps cried because she had an upset stomach because of how I was nursing her. I also started pumping as soon as we got home this time around instead of waiting so long with Ella--pumping continues to suck, literally, but at least I feel more confident about my internal and external supplies; and perhaps Anna even has a fuller tummy, thus adding to her behavior. Or even little things like how to create a good, tight swaddle--I remember asking our pediatrician for instructions on how to make it really snug and tight with Ella--now I know. Lastly, I wonder if the happy endorphins that I got from running are somehow built into her personality. I realize that her mood can change, but for now, I'm just happy that she's so happy. Whatever it may be, she's so easy to love.

Today's blessing is Ella's little friend's mom, who has been bringing Ella into school with her every day since my parents left. Ella's school is in town, about a half-hour drive. But they live about five miles away, so I've been bringing Ella to their house in the morning, and she's been dropping her off at home in the afternoons. I want Ella to be able to have some consistency, and I selfishly want to be able to sleep and relax, and yet also be productive, while I'm on leave. I love Ella too, but I do want some time just with Anna at this stage.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Anna Victoria

Picking up from where I left off  from Sunday contractions slowed down around 1:30 in the morning. I figured that if they were "real" labor contractions that they would pick up with walking. I'm too scared of rattlesnakes and other desert creatures, so I was limited to walking around our patio a couple dozen times. They didn't pick up--and if anything, slowed down--so I opted to try to sleep. I woke up to contractions twice, but was able to sleep until 5:00 when there was just barely enough light to walk around the block.

When I still didn't feel any contractions, I decided to call my mom and lament how confusing labor felt. She worried about my fluid levels, and urged me to call Labor & Delivery, so I agreed to do so. L&D wanted me to come in, since I suspected that my waters had broken. My very-dear doctor friend, knowing my desire to labor at home, discouraged me from going in, since she knew that they would likely put me on pitocin to get her out soon. But she's awesome at painting the medical picture for me, and then letting me make my own decisions, so I opted to play it safe and head in, figuring we were right around the corner from my office if it was not actually my water breaking, though I would feel pretty silly.

Labor & Delivery checked me (I was at a 2.5, so making some progress!) and collected a sample of my vaginal fluid to see if my membranes had ruptured. They ran three tests--two said my waters had broken, but the ferning test was inconclusive, so they did a final stick test, which indeed confirmed that it was my waters. Woohoo! So I was admitted, transferred to a delivery room, and started on pitocin. They started me low (2), but quickly amped it up. I tolerated each dosage pretty well, but started to intentionally breath through the contractions around 12. They checked me around 1:00, four hours after my initial check, and I was hoping that I had progressed one centimeter per hour...but I had barely gone to 3.5; which was a little disappointing. They upped the pitocin again--I asked my husband to rub my back at 14, and asked to speak with the anesthesiologist by 16 (I didnt have the perfect experience with Ella and wanted to be better informed this time around). My amazing nurse, Sheila, offered to check me again, and I was now at 6 cm, so was indeed making progress, and decided I wanted to keep trying without medication. Because the pitocin is so intense, they needed me to stay on the baby monitors, so I didn't have the luxury of walking around like I had hoped. When I got up to use the bathroom, Sheila saw that I could tolerate the pain a little better while standing, so suggested that I lean on the birthing ball on the bed from a standing position, even though it meant that the baby monitors didn't stay put. She also checked me again, and I was a 7.5, and she claimed that she thought I would have the baby by 4:30--which was in 45 minutes, and she started getting the room ready. I told myself that I could try for 45 minutes, but made a promise to myself that I would ask for an epidural if she wasn't here by 5:00.

Shortly thereafter, I started to think I was feeling the urge to push--though it definitely felt different than last time with Ella. At exactly that moment, my doctor came in--how is that for perfect timing! She checked, and I was indeed complete at 10 cm, so was given permission to get started. With Ella, I know I was a pretty inefficient pusher, and I was determined not to make the same mistakes again (this was part of the reason why I ran during my pregnancy). I assumed that I would be given some set of guidelines, as I was with Ella, about pushing through the count of 10 with a contraction, but instead, was given the total freedom to push whenever I liked for however long I could tolerate it --which was nice, because the pitocin was making the contractions a little crazy! And as much as I'd like to say I "experienced" Ella's birth despite the epidural, I now fully understand why they call it "the ring of fire". Let's just say that I was feeling plenty motivated to get her out! It took five pushes in fifteen minutes before she was on my chest. As Sheila predicted, she was born at 4:30, on the dot.

I'll finish the rest of the details later, but wanted to share the reasoning behind her name. Since Ella was the one to tell me that I had a baby growing in my tummy, I figured that I'd give her a shot at coming up with a name. She suggested "Anna"...or at least I think she suggested it--maybe she just rolled her two-year old words together while trying to respond "I-don't-know"-- but either way, it stuck. As for her middle name, we went with the tradition of using a family name. Ella's middle name is in honor of my mom, but my mother-in-law and I share the same name, which would just be weird. Instead, we chose to honor my father-in-law, Victor, with the feminine version of his name. He really is such a hard working man and is very devoted to his grandchildren.

I'll try to update the rest of the story--including introducing Anna to Ella--as time allows. For now, I'm just trying to keep up on my own rest and fluids as I try to help establish a routine and wait for my milk to come in fully.

Thank you--as always--for your well wishes, support, and encouragement!

Besides the obvious blessing of having my baby safely in my arms, my other blessing is my parents, who drove down the minute I confirmed that it was my waters that broke. They have been a tremendous help to me and my husband as we care for Anna, and have been especially amazing in helping Ella transition into her role as a big sister. I am so appreciative of all that they do!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Getting Closer!

There is a mama bird who has made a nest on the top of our front porch light.  She hasn't left it for almost a week now, so I'm pretty sure that she's guarding some eggs.  After accidentally scaring her away the first time I realized she was there (and scaring myself in the process), I've been going out the garage door each morning and evening when I go for a walk. I've often wondered which of us would meet their baby (or babies) first.

I don't want to speak too soon, but I'm hoping that it will be me.  I'm pretty sure that I'm in the early stages of labor.

After putting Ella down tonight, I committed to bouncing on the exercise ball for an hour while my husband worked on a project.  Neither of us really want to go in to work tomorrow, so he agreed to help me try to get things started, one way or another. Ella, being the little night-owl that she is--came in around 8:45 to say that she had to go potty.  As I got off the ball, I also felt an odd sensation that I too had to go.  Either my water broke, or I just have very poor bladder control these days (I knew I should have done more Kagel exercises!).

I got her back to bed and started paying attention to my body.  I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions all afternoon, but they we inconsistent and totally painless (as they had been for the last month or so).  But sure enough, I started to (and currently continue to) feel something.  Just before 10:00, I sent a text to our friends who offered to watch Ella (who was indeed fast asleep by this point).  I figured that even though it's only the early stages of what I think (and hope and pray) is labor, it's also early enough in the evening that they would hopefully get a decent night of sleep if we brought her over now--even if it is a false alarm.  I was going to send just my husband, but couldn't really bear the thought of not kissing her goodbye.  So we took the five-minute trip down the freeway, calling my parents along the way to tell them where things stand.

Now we're home, and I'm waiting next to my contraction timer app while my husband sleeps.  The pain is definitely bearable (I'd like to think that I'm much more fit this time around and that somehow has something to do with the pain management), but I'm sure it will pick up in intensity.  It's just a matter of knowing when exactly we should make the 30-minute trip into town.  I do indeed think that this is truly it, but would be so disappointed and embarrassed if we head in there too soon.  And as much as I'd like to curl up next to my snoring husband and try to sleep, I worry that laying down might slow any progress.

And so for now, I bounce, and wait, and time, and pray, and look forward to having my life changed all over again.  I welcome all prayers as we look forward to all that comes next!

Today's blessing was the sweetest little sleepy smile from Ella when she woke up briefly as we were dropping her off.  Her confusion at being at her friend's house in the middle of the night turned to pure joy for an instant when we told her that she would get to meet her baby sister soon.  Oh, how I look forward to watching my first baby fall in love with the new baby!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Attitude Adjustment

I haven't had the best sleep this week.  It's understandable--I'm 40 weeks pregnant in August in Arizona.  My feet get so hot, and it wakes me up and keeps me up.  Each time I woke up, I found myself nearly cursing God that I wasn't going into labor yet.  I really was struggling with still being pregnant--which is crazy, because for the most part, I love being pregnant.  I just don't enjoy being awake in the middle of the night when I'm trying to sleep.

At my appointment on Wednesday, I was still only 1 cm.  I was bummed--even though I had no indications to lead me to believe otherwise, I was still frustrated that things weren't rolling along yet.  I figured that being 80% effaced last week would have counted for something!  The plan is that we will induce next Thursday, at 41 weeks, if she hasn't made her grand appearance by then.  With Ella, I remember my doctor telling me that she starts getting nervous when her moms don't deliver by 41 weeks.  So I know that she's consistent with this approach.

And I thought being induced with Ella was perfect!  For the last three years or so, I've proclaimed that it was the perfect experience for me.  It took all the anxiety out of giving birth for the first time.  I was able to check in comfortably and joke with the nurses.  Sure, I ended up getting an epidural when my initial intent had been to go natural, but I was fine with it.  So if I end up getting induced again, I know what to expect and it won't be the end of the world.

I do still hope to have the opposite experience this time--laboring at home, the excitement and energy of rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night, and hopefully a more "natural" delivery than what I experienced with pitocin last time (not that it was "bad" was just...well, "induced").  But I need to realize that getting frustrated and cursing God for not being in labor yet isn't going to speed things along. 

So Wednesday night, I prayed for an "attitude adjustment".  And each time I woke up in the middle of the night, instead of cursing God, I prayed again for an attitude adjustment.  And what do you know--by Thursday morning, I was already feeling better.  I had a good long cry during my morning walk (I must have been quite the scene, had any of my neighbors been looking out their windows at 5:30 am), pouring out my heart to God and trying to grapple with how it is perfectly fine for me to want this baby to come soon, but how I need to truly start trusting God's plan and His timing, instead of simply claiming to do so. 

So now it's Friday, and I'm officially past either of my due dates (8/8 by the first measurement at 9 weeks; 8/6 by the NT scan at 12 weeks...I've been going with the 8/6 date in my head all along).  I still really, really, really hope that she comes this weekend (frankly, I'm getting kind of tired of some of the comments from some of my colleagues).  But I'm feeling more at peace and less anxious (don't get me wrong--I'm "positively anxious" about meeting her, but I feel like I'm less "negatively anxious", in the sense that I'm trying not to get "worked up" or frustrated).  I still hope that she does indeed come quickly, but this attitude-adjustment-answer-to-prayer is definitely helping in the mean time. 

Even though my baby isn't here yet, it was a blessing to learn that Cheryl had her baby!  Cheryl is also a loss survivor, and I started following her blog shortly after she found out she was pregnant with her now-three-year-old son.  At the time, she had just heard his heartbeat, and I remember her being filled with such hope--cautious hope, but hope nonetheless.  And it somehow was really a turning point for me, after so much loss, to see that it was indeed possible to inch forward towards starting a family.  A short time later, I got pregnant with Ella; and then we both got pregnant around the same time with our second babies.  I have enjoyed sharing the pregnancy journey with her week by week and I look forward to the baby adventures we'll now experience...whenever my baby finally comes!  Cheryl, blessing to you and your growing family! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wrong Order

I sit here, still at work, at 40 weeks (by my 12-week measurement), while I have two friends on hospital bedrest.  One is waiting for a c-section later today at barely 36 weeks, and the other was admitted to the hospital last night at 29 weeks to be given magnesium and steroids in the hope of keeping the baby in a little longer.

All I can think is "this is the wrong order!".

I really don't want this to sound selfish--instead, I write this out of true concern and amazement.  I am amazed at the strength of these women who hold so carefully for so long, who give up the comforts of home and put every ounce of energy into keeping their babies safe.  I am amazed at the advancements in modern medicine, and the knowledge and patience of the doctors and nurses who care for these women and babies.  And I am amazed that God's plans for us are sometimes so delicate.

I wish I could trade places with them--in the sense that I could be the one who is mere moments away from going into labor, and they could just relax with a "shallow" and yet otherwise apparently fully intact cervix.  Life is so "unfair" sometimes--that I can be so active and yet only 1 cm dilated at 40 weeks while another mom is so careful and already 2.5 cm dilated at barely 29 weeks.  Again, I don't mean to make this about me and my own excitement about my own eventual labor; rather, I'm just stuck thinking "wrong order!".  I know I can't, but I wish that I could somehow give them one of my "extra" weeks. 

I know that God's plans are never wrong.  I know that He is a God of wonders and miracles.  I know that His plans are not always what we envision for our lives, but I know that He loves us even through these challenging times.  So even though I feel like screaming "wrong order!" up to Him, I know that's not the case.

Please be praying for these two women and their babies. 

Today's blessing was another running accomplishment.  A little over a year ago, my very-dear friend ran a mile in under 10 minutes at 40 weeks pregnant.  At the time, I thought she was crazy (I still think she's crazy).  I was, am, and will always continued to be inspired by her.  Today, I ran a 9:41 mile at 40 weeks pregnant.  (I do feel a little weird switching gears so quickly from concern about my friends to "bragging" about my own run; but I do have to keep it in perspective that God created us each differently and has a different plan for all of us.  Yes, I am deeply concerned about their situations, but I also recognize that I am extremely blessed to be so active at this stage in my own pregnancy.  I hope that makes sense...)

Saturday, August 3, 2013


I am beyond ready to meet this baby.

I feel silly for saying that when I'm not yet to her due date.  We're past July, which would have been a stretch for her to come quite that soon, but I guess I was assuming that she would have come a bit early since she's not my first. 

I've done everything that I can--gone on walks (an even a two mile run this morning), ate spicy food, sat on the exercise ball, and everything else that everyone suggests.  My bag is packed (and I remembered clothes for my husband this time), Ella's bag is packed and already at our friends' home, we have a carseat base in each car, with the carseat sitting by the door, next to my bag.  The house is clean (and staying mostly tidy).  Everything is wrapped up at work.  I feel that if I don't have her this weekend, that I'll have to start a new project at work on Monday (there's no way that I'm staying home to just twiddle my thumbs and wait). 

Going into labor tonight, and having her tomorrow, seem--to me--like they would be so ideal!  We had a great morning at the zoo with Ella, followed by lunch, cookies, and a nap.  I then went and got a massage while she slept, so I'm feeling totally relaxed and ready.  The plan is that Ella will go to her little friend's house if/when labor truly starts, and my parents will either jump in the car or hop on a plane.  (It's so different this time around to be concerned about Baby #1 while waiting on Baby #2!)  I know that my friend (Ella's friend's mom) would make it work to care for Ella in the middle of the week, but it would just be so much easier on the weekend.  Not to mention, my dad is a pastor, so it would be ideal for him to work tomorrow morning and then head down with my mom, spend the week or so here once the baby comes, and then head home.  If we wait much later into the week, he'll likely have to wait until after church next Sunday to come down.  Lastly, I intend to take weekly pictures again, like I did with Ella, and it would just be so much easier to add them into our Sunday routine than in the middle of the work week. 

But I know it's not about me.  It's about this perfectly-content Baby, and about God's plan.  I can wish and plan and wait and hope and drive myself stir-crazy, but ultimately, I need to wait.  If I've learned anything through this experience, it's that God knows what He's doing. 

Today's blessing was seeing Ella respond so positively at the zoo.  We have an annual pass, so we've been to the zoo plenty of times, but it's been too hot to go lately (and was indeed rather warm today).  But she is "clicking"--cognitively speaking--in so many amazing ways these days, and it's just amazing to see her interacting and truly "learning" about the animals, instead of simply admiring them.  I'm sure I'm rather biased, since she's mine, but she is one cool kid, and I fall in love with her more and more each day.  (And you can see why I'm so anxious to meet her sister!)