Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Six weeks and all is amazing

We've had an eventful past few days!  Hayden got to meet his uncle Daniel and cousin Maggie on Friday.  Maggie is 7 and going to be a big sister to twin boys in August, so to say she's a little baby crazy is an understatement.  She was great holding Hayden- see the pix below.  I really miss my sweet niece, it's tough having my family so far away, but it's great when I do get to see her.  His daddy has been in and out of town working so much.  It really sucks that he's gone so much, but he definitely makes up for lost time when he is home.  His work season is slowing down quickly, though, so he'll be home a lot more.  I swear, I don't know how single and working moms can handle having a baby and doing all they do.  I'm barely keeping my head above water at this point!  I know that I'm keeping little man fed, clean and entertained, but the rest of the house is totally suffering because of it.  Meh.  No worries, right?
Such a little angel

With his cousin Maggie

Maggie proving how good she'll be when her twin brothers arrive

Chillin' with Uncle Daniel

Flirting with Mama Cathy

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Road Warrior!

So while sweet hubs is out working again, I decided to take little man down to his grandparents' place yesterday.  His great uncle was in town to fish with his Papa, so I figured that'd be a prime time to visit- and have some more family come to meet Hayden as well.  I was a little nervous about driving the two hours (or more) by myself, but it was a relatively event-free trip!  I had the car and the baby all packed up and ready to go at halftime of the UK/WVU game and we hit the road just around noon.  I brought his pack-n-play and enough formula, diapers and changes of clothes (for him) to last 3 days...  Hey, better to be prepared, no?

I've been making the trip to my in-laws' place for 11 years now.  I'm pretty familiar with the route.  Take 65 South to Montgomery.  Catch 85 North to the Mt. Meigs/Mitylene exit and drive till that road ends.  Take a left and follow that road till it ends.  Get into Union Springs, take a right, another right and drive to the end of the world.  Take the first left at that little bend in the road and their house is the first one on the right after the road turns to dirt.  Think I'm kidding?  I'm not, I swear.

Anyway, my first fun detour started when I was getting hungry.  I pulled off the road at Clanton to get some McDonald's.  The line was wrapped around the building and the parking lot was full.  Duh.  This is a prime stopping place on the way to the beach- and it's spring break time.  It was a Saturday afternoon.  I should have done that math before hand.  I circled the building and left...  With an empty stomach.  Boo.  So we soldiered on southward and pulled off at the exit to Prattville.  There was a Wendy's nearby and that struck my fancy much more than Mc D's.  Except the Wendy's didn't have a sign posted out front.  So I drove on out the road about two miles before I realized that I had probably driven past it.  My first clue?  The cow pasture on the left...  So I u-ied and Googled the Wendy's on my iPhone.  Where was it?  Right next to the bloody interstate.  No sign, as I said.  Morons.

Back on the road, we get through the no-longer-under-construction zone and Mom calls just as I'm throwing my hamburger wrapper away in the bag.  Just as I'm reaching the 65/85 split.  And I missed my exit.  After all these years of driving to my in-laws', I've never missed that exit.  So I find an exit, turn around, and get back on the road again.  All the while, Hayden is just a-snooze in his little car seat, completely oblivious to his mommy's ineptitude.  Just as we get off the interstate and start to make our trek into the boonies, little man- shall we say- filled his diaper.  Rather loudly.  Parenting dilemma:  pull over to the first clean-looking place and change the diaper or just wait till we get to our destination, in hopes that this was just the first salvo in what is normally a longer battle.  I chose to soldier on.  He didn't fuss.

His Nana was sitting out on their porch waiting for us when we got there...  He was a perfect angel most of the time!  He let his cousin Amanda hold him and give him his bottle.  He let his great aunt Sue burp him.  He let his Nana hold him and play with him.  But his great uncle Larry was afraid to hold him, and his papa actually had a cold...  So the men left little man alone.  But we had a great time visiting.

I felt really accomplished by the time I got us home last night.  I made the four hour round trip without incident!  He slept the entire time in the car and I didn't do anything stupid, like forget our camera or the baby bag!  Or the baby...

Nana burping Hayden

With cousin Amanda

Enjoying his new swing!

Sleeping in the same crib his daddy did

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's twoo! It's twoo!

As in, it's true:  Time does fly when you're having fun!  Our angel is one month old today!  He's growing so fast, he stays in his quiet alert state for so much longer now- which is a blessing and a curse.  I want him to sleep more so I can sleep more, but it's a blessing because we can show him so many more things!  He's loving his play gym and his pack -n- play...  And I've discovered what his ultimate, calms-him-down-quick song is:  The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.  He's gonna be a little hippie, I can tell.  No yurts or frisbees (giggle, stolen from here) for this little guy- not yet at least.  And I will get him his first pair of Birkenstocks when he starts walking. 
I'm going to go snuggle my little man now... I know he's going to be graduating from high school before I blink again.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Birth Story: Part 2

The rest of the story (as the late, great Paul Harvey would have said...)

So our super doula, Dalia, was on her way to the hospital to rescue me from myself.  I had prepped and planned for months to have a non-medicated labor and delivery and here I was doubting myself.  It wasn't that the pain itself was so bad, it was that I was having a hard time getting comfortable and relaxing into the pain.  I know that sounds weird, especially for those of you who have either never had a baby or haven't experienced the pains associated with labor and delivery.  My back hurt more than anything, and I was just getting irritated I think.

We had been pretty energized in our LDR suite... Our staff of nurses were so supportive of me and Hubs was absolutely amazing during the entire time by encouraging me, holding my hand, changing the music on my iPod, making sure I stayed hydrated...  We were energized, but we had no focus really.  When Dalia breezed into the room, the mood changed instantly.  My nurse Amy asked me if I wanted to try laboring in the shower, and I had said no, that I thought the water hitting my belly would probably just aggravate me more than anything.  When Dalia came in, there was no option.  "Come on, let's get into the shower."  So I did.  We got the water temperature just right and Dalia and Hubs came into the bathroom with me.  At first, I sat on the seat attached to the wall, but that didn't help much and it was totally uncomfortable.  So we set me up on the big balance/birthing ball... Which was very nice.  Hubs sat on another birthing ball behind me and applied glorious counter pressure on my lower back.  I apparently was barking at him like a drill sergeant:  more pressure, less pressure, higher, lower, left, right...  And as I breathed and vocalized (read: quiet yelling of different vowel sounds) my way through the contractions, I didn't realize that the bathroom around us was slowly filling with water.  Apparently the birthing ball was blocking the drain.  We all got a good laugh out of that one... 

All the while that I'm in the shower, I'm vaguely aware of some commotion in the suite proper.  There was a small team of nurses preparing the pool that I was going to finish my labor in.  I had to get to 4 cm before they would let me get into the pool, though.  And as soon as I felt the urge to push, I had to get back out.  So we soldiered on in the shower.  I had no idea how long we were in there, but one of the nurses poked her head into the bathroom and said I needed to come out for my twenty minutes of fetal monitoring.  So we get me out, dry me off and as that's happening, I tell Dalia and Hubs that I was feeling the urge to start pushing.  I should have known something was up at that point.

We get me back to the bed and try to get the monitors around my belly and another nurse is checking me for progress.  Hubs told me this later, but the nurse who was checking me looked at Amy, who was seated near my head ready to enter some data into the computer, and Amy asked her how I was progressing.  The nurse had a perplexed look on her face and said she thought I was complete (for those who don't know, that means that I was all the way effaced and 10 cm dilated, and ready to start pushing.)  Amy was a little shocked, because when I went into the shower I was only at 3 cm.  I was totally shocked, but not until later when I heard this part of the story... I don't remember that at all, because the pushing thing was getting harder.  So after the small team of nurses went to all the trouble they did to set up the labor pool, they had to break it back down again, because it was time for me to start pushing.  I felt really bad, but hey- Mother Nature had her own ideas. 

They called in the new doctor, Dr. Morgan (again, not afraid to use real names, because these guys were great!), to come check things out.  At this point, my warm compresses were being applied to my [very sensitive areas] and we were busy trying to get me into a position where I could push more comfortably and more effectively.  The next three hours of my life were a total blur.  I say that because 1.  I was pushing with every contraction as hard as I could and 2.  I didn't realize that it was three hours that I was pushing.  In fact, when Dr. Morgan came back into the room and saw that we hadn't progressed in pushing Hayden down much further into the birth canal, he said that I had been pushing for almost two and a half hours and we needed to make some decisions at that point.

Very practically, he said that after three hours, I wouldn't be any stronger and the baby- in all likelihood- wouldn't be any better off either if I decided to keep pushing.  His suggestion was to have a c-section.  Now, Hayden's heart rate never dipped or wavered at all during the entire ordeal, he just wasn't coming any closer to the exit with every push.  Dalia, who had been either holding compresses to my [very sensitive areas] or holding my legs when I pushed, moved up closer to my head and told me that we still had other options and could opt to keep pushing.  She reassured me that the baby was fine and that I could choose to keep going if I wanted to.  But I was truly worn out.  They don't call it labor for nothin', y'all.  That's some hard work!  My other option was to have an epidural and "labor down", basically ignore the contractions, not push and just rest until the epidural wore off and then start pushing again. 

Now, in my line of thinking, that was a little contradictory.  Our goal was to have a non-medicated labor and delivery.  And the new doctor wasn't willing to let the non-medicated delivery happen, for whatever reasons he had, but he wasn't willing to throw in the towel just yet.  He promised me that we would go through the next half hour with the hardest and most intense pushing I could manage and see what progress we could make that way.  Thirty minutes of Hell, he called it.  And he was right... But my Hell was populated by an amazing cheering section.  We were the only couple in active labor at that point of the evening.  There had been one other woman to give birth, and that happened right after we had gotten settled into our LDR suite.  I had no fewer than eight people helping me through my last stages of labor:  Hubs, Dalia, Dr. Morgan and about four or five other nurses, all either holding my legs up, supporting my back, shouting encouragement the entire time...  It was great!  But it wasn't enough.  And after twelve hours of labor, I made the executive decision:  if I was going to have an epidural, I might as well go ahead and have the c-section.  I was ready to meet my baby boy.

After the decision was made, it was less than 30 minutes later that I was completely numb from my tits to my toes.  The anesthesiologist was great!  I was nervous because I knew they needed to put a needle in my spine to administer the epidural, but I also knew that these contractions were hard and fast... How was I going to hold still?!  But the nurses helped me out there- we breathed through about three contractions and all of a sudden, they were no more.  Hubs went out into the waiting area to tell our parents what was going on, and he had a slight (major) go-to-pieces on my behalf.  He was so disappointed for me because I'd worked so hard only to have to have a surgical birth.  I was content to know I'd done all I could to bring our son into the world, he was just being a stubborn little cuss (taking after his daddy!) and didn't want to leave me. 

I was wheeled back to the OR and transferred to the operating table.  I'm 33 years old, and had made it up till February 15, 2011 before having surgery.  I'd also made it the same amount of time without having to be admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay.  I really hit the lottery there- major surgery and a five day stay in the hospital, all in one fell swoop.  But I digress...  When they got me onto the table, it felt odd and I asked the nurses if my feet were elevated at all.  They laughed and said no, that I was completely flat on the table.  But it felt like my feet were lifted up somehow... Oh well.  The next thing I knew, Hubs was in his surgical garb and sitting to my left by my head.  I felt some tugging and pulling, but that was it.  I drifted in and out of sleep, until I heard the most amazing sound in the world, my baby's first cry...  I'm tearing up now just remembering it.  I said, "That's my son!" and tears streamed down my face.  Hubs was hesitant to stand up and peek over the surgical drape to see, but he did and got the first look at Hayden Alexander: dark blue-ish purple and covered in goo.  Hubs later told me that he thought Hayden looked like an alien!  Dr. Morgan held Hayden up over the drape so I could see him, too, and then they whisked him off to be cleaned up. 

The newly minted daddy went back to watch, and they flipped on a tv screen over my head so I could see the activity, too (a very nifty idea!)  Once the baby was clean and bundled up, they brought him around so I could meet him- they snuggled him next to my face and I was able to talk to him and kiss him a little before they took him off so I could get pieced back together.  Not too much later, they wheeled me out of the OR and back to our LDR.  There were Hayden, Hubs, our baby's nurse and Dalia all waiting for me to get back.  The nurses knew there was a one hour waiting period that we wanted to have with our baby before we let anyone else in to meet him...  We tried to get him to nurse a little and we snuggled a lot.  Such special and tender moments and I'll try my best to never forget them.  Hayden and I were both very tired, though... It had been a long day!

The Birth Story: Part 1

Valentine's Day was never going to be a big, jewelry-filled gush fest like the past ones have been.  I knew I wouldn't be up for going out to dinner or anything and I also knew that splurging on jewelry was just a bad idea with a baby on the way.  *Yes, I know... I turned down jewelry.  I was pregnant, and thinking more practically for once!*  So instead, we spent our Valentine's Day 2011 by going to the doctor for what was going to be the first of our bi-weekly appointments.  And since the ladies of the practice had been so awesome to us over the last nine months, I baked them all brownies.  I mean, come on, it's Valentine's.  Chocolate is mandatory, isn't it?

I hadn't made much progress at all- like none.  The week before I had been dilated 1 cm and 50% effaced.  No progress at all in a week.  However, I had, in two weeks' time, gained 10 lbs and swelled up like Violet in Willy Wonka and seen my regularly quite low blood pressure spike up.  I waddled around wearing my biggest, widest Birkenstocks, because that was all that would fit on my swollen feet.  I was definitely getting quite uncomfortable, but Dr. Heidi was content to let me try to remedy my high blood pressure at home with homeopathic remedies (eating lots of celery, soaking in epsom salt baths, drinking gallons of water and keeping my feet up) and continue my bi-weekly visits to the chiropractor.  Valentine's Day I had an appointment with my chiro as well, and I asked her how she thought Hayden was doing.  She said that he was running out of room.... It gave me good hope that Our Time was fast approaching.

I had been experiencing some backaches, but I just chalked that up to my enormous belly throwing my already messed up back out of whack even further.  Hoo boy way I wrong there...  My weekly massages, bi-weekly chiropractic appointments and various other relaxation and soothing techniques were helping me out, but the backaches were getting worse.  Around 5:00am on the Tuesday after Valentine's Day, I woke up with a killer backache.  Now, I've got a pretty high threshold of pain.  I never take Tylenol for headaches, took myself off prescription pain meds for my chronic knee pain and basically try not to complain too much about hurting, ever.  But this backache was enough to wake me up- so I went into the office and played on Facebook for awhile.  I thought the pain had subsided enough, so I tried to go back to sleep around 6ish and in the process of getting comfortable (no small task for a woman almost 40 weeks pregnant), I felt a very distinct pop in my general uterus/cervix/baby area.  I thought to myself that it could be one of two things: either the baby just had a seizure or the most intense hiccup ever, or my water had just broken.  And of all the stories I've heard about pregnancy, I have never heard anyone say that they felt a popping sensation when their water broke.  So I waddled my way to the bathroom, and [**squeamish types, avert thine eyes**], I felt a gush of fluid down my legs.  Now, I'd had some leakage for a few weeks, so I had been wearing some pads and had one on at this time, so I didn't make a big mess... But I still knew something was up.  Poor sweet Hubs, he had to be awake in less than an hour to go to Memphis for a game, so I didn't want to bother him- but I knew I should mention it to him.  So, much in the same manner that I told him I was pregnant, while sitting on the commode, I sweetly but insistently said, "Honey?  I think my water just broke."  Well, I'm pretty sure that's a good way to get anyone's attention, and this seemed to have worked.  "How do you know?" he asked.  "Well, I felt a pop and a gush.  So either my water just broke, or I just [peed] myself."  Ever the rational one, he asked, "Well, what do you want to do?"  I decided I'd better call my doctor, and told him so.

He went back to dozing, and I went back to the office (after cleaning myself up) to look up the phone number and call the doctor's office.  Being not quite 7am, I got the doctor-on-call.  He suggested that we go on to the hospital for monitoring.  All of my preparation went mostly out the window at this point...  I know that we had decided we wanted to labor as long as possible at home, but I wasn't sure that was exactly what was going on...  I got out my iPhone and started timing my contractions on my Sprout application, but I was in such a tizzy, I would forget when one ended or another started.  So Hubs and I got busy packing our stuff and making phone calls.  I called my parents, he called his.  I called Dalia and he activated his "Holy $#!+ the baby is coming" phone tree for his replacement for work.  We were out the door and stuck in traffic before 7:45.  I knew that we'd get stuck in traffic when I went into labor, but my earlier prediction of it happening during a major snowstorm was off by one week.  Thank God Dalia, our amazing super doula, (rather forcefully) suggested that we stop somewhere and get some breakfast.  Chick-fil-A it was, and by the time I got my breakfast burrito, my contractions had started in earnest.  And it's a good thing we did stop and get food, because that turned out to be the only thing I ate for over 24 hours.

Fast forward an hour and a half and we roll up to Brookwood Medical Center.  Yes, I'll mention them by name because, overall, our experience there was a good one.  The one regret we had, at this point, was that we didn't take the hospital's class on childbirth.  We had no idea where to go, where to park or what protocols to follow, but lucky for us the valet parking attendants (yes, they have valet parking at the hospital) knew what we needed to do.  So, clutching the rest of our breakfast, my purse and my pillow, I plopped into a wheelchair and Hubs rolled me into the maternity ward.  The nurses were expecting us and we were ushered into our LDR (Labor, Delivery & Recovery) suite.  Our nurse, Amy, was amazing.  The poor dear was dealing with a sinus infection and sounded awful, but she was really on top of things.  I gave her copies of our labor and post-delivery birth plans and she was completely on board with our desire for a natural childbirth experience.  She'd done it and was very supportive of our wanting to do the same. 

Hubs got busy settling us into our temporary space, setting up my iPod player, putting our little Crock Pot and lavender oil to work heating up the washcloths (which are a great idea to use... the washcloths/compresses keep the perineum loose and the lavender makes the room smell amazing all at the same time) all the while keeping all our family and friends informed as to what was going on.  It was about this time that I started to have some doubts.  A small but persistent, yellow neon sign was blinking in the back of my mind saying quietly at first, "nubane... nubane... nubane..."  I looked at Hubs and said, "I don't think I'll be able to do this without drugs."  He gave me the following pep talk: "Honey.  How can you say that?  This is just the first play of the game!  Just because you got knocked into the dirt by a linebacker doesn't mean you don't get up, dust yourself off and get back into the huddle!  You've got to finish this game!"  I think I looked at him, blinked, and asked for clarification.  In hindsight, it makes sense.  But hell, for me it's basketball season... he just used the wrong analogy. 

The contractions were getting more uncomfortable and stronger.  And all the pain and pressure was centered in my low back.  It wasn't until later the next day that I realized that I was having back labor and it wasn't until later that afternoon that we all realized that Hayden was turned "sunny side up", which explained the back labor. It was coming up on noon-ish and my doctor came in to check on me.  Of course, she said, I decided to go into labor on her half-day.  She told me that her partner would be taking care of me and that I'd like him.  She said he knew of our birth plan and he was on board, too...  When she checked me for progress, I was 100% effaced, but only 3 cm dilated.  So we went on...  And the neon sign got a little bigger, a little brighter and a little more insistent: "NUBANE... NUBANE... NUBANE..."  I told Hubs to call the nurse, that I wanted to discuss my options for pain relief.  Now, I didn't realize that this was happening, but Nurse Amy was following my birth plan to the letter.  I specifically stated I did not want to be offered pain medication, that if I needed it I would ask for it.  So when Amy came in and I told her I wanted to know my options with regard to pain relief, she skirted the subject, and I hinted back.  We went back and forth for a bit, while Hubs realized what was going on and called Dalia for reinforcements.  Amy never offered any medication and I never asked, and Dalia was on her way. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Saga Continues

When last we left our heroine...  Oh nevermind!

After all the drama and difficulty we had getting pregnant, and after my newly [re]discovered love of learning, it was only natural that I would be doing a metric ton of research (is a metric ton heavier?).  I read several books, including Henci Goer's A Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.  It was totally a game-changer for me.  I knew that I was considering a non-medicated, intervention-free birth, but this book helped to cement my frame of thinking in this direction.  Goer presented logical arguments for and against every common medical intervention during labor and delivery: from routine episiotomy to induction and epidurals.  After reading her arguments, I formed my list of Do Not Want for our baby's birth. 

As I formed my birth plan in my head, I decided that we'd need a doula to help make all that happen.  A quick internet search yielded Dalia Abrams... and we moved quickly to enroll in her childbirth education class.  We had a small group, only two other couples, and it was very helpful and amazing.  Not only did we get good, practical advice, but we have new friends out of the whole deal... and friends who think like we do when it comes to raising our children! 

I was the furthest one away from delivery in our group- but it turns out not by too much.  One couple had their baby right before (or was it just after?) Christmas and the other couple had theirs the week before we had Hayden.  We had all chosen to have a non-medicated birth for various reasons, and everyone laughed at me for my reason: to prove to all my friends and family that I could do it.  When I told anyone that I was going intervention- and medication-free, they all called me crazy or stupid and said that I'd never be able to do it.  It made me more determined to do it, though, and I got my chance on February 15, 2011.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends...

I knew that this week was going to be a rough one.  Darling Michael had to go off and make some money and has been gone since Tuesday morning.  A few weeks ago, before Hayden was born, I was just sure that I'd be able to handle having a newborn by myself.  How hard could it be?  Well, I'm glad that Michael didn't listen to me and made sure I had help this past week. 

My amazing sister, Ginny, who is in her second trimester with twins, came down here to help me out.  She changed diapers, made sure I had time to eat, held the baby so I could get stuff done around the house and generally was just good company to have around.  My cousins, Bambi & Palmer (who is Hayden's godmother!) came in yesterday afternoon for a quick, overnight visit and that was a welcome treat, too.  
It was lovely to have someone else to hand the baby off to when I wanted to take a shower or just take a nap.  It was rather comical, however, because Ginny needed naps as much as I did! 

It's amazing just how quickly Hayden is growing!  He's starting to coo and make non-crying noises now during his awake times... But he's sleeping quite a bit as well.  We're working out the kinks in our feeding schedules, too.  I'm pretty sure he's getting enough milk, between me and the extra formula I'm giving him.  Now, if we can just survive the next two days, I know I'm closer to getting this mommy thing down.  For these first few weeks, Michael has been the one to strap him into and carry him around in his car seat.  I did it all by myself today and yesterday :)  I still haven't mastered his stroller just yet, but we haven't had to use it on our own, so I still have time for that.  I'm also back on the roads again (yay!) and driving the car with an infant in the backseat is a little daunting, but he just sleeps (for now) so it's not that hard. 

I guess I better get some food before he wakes up from his latest milk-induced coma :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's hit... Exhaustion.

*** This is a regularly scheduled break in the story of the birth ***

My sweet, loving and hard-working husband had to leave us to go back to work and make some money.  It's a good thing, because I haven't held a really real job in over four years.  It's a bad thing because 1. I didn't realize just how hard this breastfeeding-mommy-of-a-newborn thing would be and 2.  He's missing out on some really sweet things happening to our rapidly changing son.  He made sure, well before he left town, that I'd have someone here to help me out while he was gone and that someone is my wonderful sister. 

Hayden's Aunt Diddy (AKA: my sister, Ginny), was here two days after Hayden was born and stayed to help us transition into Life With a Newborn.  But she had to get home to her own daughter and POSSLQ- AND to take care of her own self, being that she's pregnant with twins!!!  But she came back to spend time with Hayden and I for the week that Hubs was out of town.

So suffice to say, we're kinda busy... But I promise to update again soon.