Monday, July 30, 2007

Food, Sleep and Closure

When I went into Labor on 6-30-07 at 8:30am, I got a pretty good night sleep the previous night. That is to say that I sleep on the couch, in the upright position for a few hours at a time. In between the 2-4 hour bouts of rest, I was up and around the house. Usually thirsty, or having to use the bathroom. But, occasionally just wandering around the house, or reading. The last months of pregnancy were like this.

I have said in previous ruminations that this was a prep for parenthood, or so I thought while I was pregnant. What I wasn't prepared for were the hours and days immediately following the birth of my son. From the time I went into Labor on Saturday until I left the hospital on Wednesday July 4th, I slept about 15 hours in total.
Saturday night while I labored, I of course didn't sleep. My husband and my Doula took turns taking cat naps (which I barely noticed). I delivered on Sunday evening, and was put on Percoset, and moved to L&D to recover. That night and subsequent day, I couldn't sleep and barely noticed the difference between day and night. I was so afraid that if I closed my eyes my son would stop breathing or choke to death on his lung fluid (when you have a c-section, even when you labor first, the child doesn't fully benefit from traveling down the birth canal and getting the fluid squeezed out of their lungs, in the same way). Every little noise he made had me up, checking on him. This was coupled with the nurses coming in every 2 hours for stats, and every 4 hours for meds, housekeeping, food service (see below), and my doctors and the pediatricians. My doc started rounds at 5am, and I was apparently first on the list. Oh, and since UCSD is a teaching hospital, you see a student and a doc--2 separate visits.

Since I had a C-section, I couldn't co-sleep with Elliott as I had planned and he in turn slept in a little plexi-glass crib next to my bed. The inability to co-sleep was due to a variety of valid, although frustrating reasons. The first was that I was on pain meds, the second was the bed was sooooo small, and the third is that I could barely move without assistance (the surgery, the IV, the catheter...). Had I delivered him vaginally in the Birth Center, both baby and husband all can sleep together. They have normal beds (not mechanical hospital beds), that are Queen size. They encourage baby and Mom to sleep together. UCSD is also a baby friendly hospital, and as such they don't have a nursery. If you need to take a break from your baby, you can ask the nurses to watch them. At this point they will wheel them into the nurses station and keep an eye on them in there. I never opted for this.

I ate lunch on Saturday, at the Bar Mitvah. But, the remainder of the day I just wasn't that hungry. Maybe it was nerves due to wondering if this was "IT", or not. The evening only brought nausea and lack of appeal for anything food related. I did manage to eat a few lolli-pops and a bite of fruit. But, mostly I was thirsty and drank a ton of water. By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around and my labor had basically slowed to a snails pace, I was hungry! However, since I was going into surgery...there would be no food for me.

I wasn't allowed to eat on Sunday night, nor Monday. All they gave me beginning with lunch was liquids. Broth, jello and juice. Plus, vicodin, gas pills and stool softeners. Yummy!

By the time I was allowed to eat, and I was begging the nurses for food by this point (sometime on Tuesday)-the meal that the food service people brought in was mostly wheat products (lasagna, a dinner roll, etc.), of which I am allergic. So, I was foiled again.

How are you supposed to function/parent/nurture on so little sleep, without food, and all doped up on meds? It seems counter intuitive to me. There are a lot of things about pregnancy and labor that are backwards in my opinion. Let me give a few examples.

When you get pregnant, usually you take a home pregnancy test to confirm. And if you are like me, I knew on day one of my missed period. Once you confirm, you are sooo excited (lets assume this is a planned pregnancy), that the first thing you do is schedule a doctors appointment. If you have an HMO, they wont schedule your first appointment until you are somewhere around 8-10 weeks along. Now, isn't the first trimester the most critical as it relates to development of the baby? Why would you leave a newly pregnant person on their own, without advise or guidance during the most sensitive part of their pregnancy?

The second situation/example is during your post-partum period. Since I had a c-section, I spent 3 nights after the birth in the hospital (although they wanted to release me on the 2nd night, I declined). They removed my staples (13 of them), on the third day, and gave me instructions for caring for my incision. They also instruct you to schedule your follow up appointment for 6 weeks later. Now, I just had major abdominal surgery and a baby...wouldn't you want to see me sooner than 6 weeks? Apparently not.

The sleep has improved since I have been home. And I suspect we are faring well compared to some. Elliott on most nights, sleeps from 9-12 or 1, eats, and then sleeps again from 1-4 or 5 am. Then he eats again, and occasionally will sleep again from 6 to 7:30am. Although, when we are struggling with the let down problem, he is less likely to sleep for such long periods, and is awake for longer time periods in between. So far I am OK with the sleep patterns, and feel good most days. I can see how the lack of sleep can be impossible to handle, especially if you have more than one child, or have to go back to work sooner rather than later, or don't have a lot of help or support from your spouse.

Well, after all of that typing...I am not sure what the summation of my thoughts are. But, I wanted to share what was on my mind anyway. I am all for closure, but for this post, there is no closure... to my dismay.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Breastfeeding Woes

I am having a really hard time breastfeeding (and think that by pumping those few times in the beginning sabotaged myself), and have thought about giving it up completely over the last week. It is causing me serious amounts of pain and tears, and making me upset at Elliott (when I clearly know it isn't his fault).

My problem is that I have an over-active let down. The milk flows out too fast for the baby to handle, and he has taken to clamping down on my nipples (often times not letting go even with my finger totally inserted into his mouth), fighting me when feeding, and has a serious amount of gas. The large amount of foremilk that he is forced to ingest has a lot of lactose, that his system has difficulty digesting effectively. He is spitting up often and fussing due to the substantial amount of gas and intestinal discomfort caused by the over abundance of lactose.

I feel horrible for him, and want to comfort him. But, it seems the very thing that would give him comfort (the breast) is the thing that is causing him (and me) the most grief. This hurts my heart to no end, and the guilt associated with not being able to give him what he needs is eating away at my innards.

I went to a breastfeeding support group last week. I called La Leche League twice and didn't get a call back (and their schedule is posted on-line but with no address or email address), I called UCSD to speak with someone and didn't get a return call. I am thinking about contacting a lactation consultant. But, at $60/ seems a little pricey. But, I am desperate. I don't want to sabotage our breastfeeding relationship.

The best website and info I found so far was below and on the WIC site. I bought some contraption to help heal my nipples. I am going to try nursing on one side for several feedings and try the modified feeding position as well. If all else fails, I am going to contact a lactation consultant. I promise not to give up at least for another couple of weeks.

Summary of Strategies to Reduce Rate of Milk Production and Force of Milk Ejection:
Nurse on one side for a each feeding, continuing to offer that same side for at least two hours until the next full feeding
Gradually increase the length of time feeding from one breast if necessary
If this strategy is not effective, try the method of thoroughly pumping breasts and then feeding on one breast until unbearably full (described in detail above)
If the other breast feels unbearably full before you are ready to nurse on it, pump or hand express for a few moments to relieve some of the pressure
Use cold raw green cabbage leaves or a bag of frozen peas to reduce discomfort and swelling
Feed baby before he becomes overly hungry to minimize aggressive sucking
Try alternate nursing positions
Mother leaning far back
Side-lying (letting milk dribble out)
Use scissors hold or the side of your hand to compress ducts to reduce the force of the milk ejection
If baby chokes or sputters, unlatch him and let the excess milk spray into a towel or cloth
Allow baby to come on and off the breast at will
Burp frequently if baby is gassy
Certain herbs and drugs, used judiciously, may be helpful in reducing milk production

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cool site

10 Things I didnt know before

1. Stretch marks hurt when they are healing

2. Nursing/Breastfeeding is not intuitive (more on this later)

3. Motherhood is awesome (and trying)

4. Babies generate a TON of laundry

5. Everyday I learn something new about parenting, about myself and about Elliott

6. When Elliott cries, the dog looks stressed out

7. Healing from a C-Section is difficult, in ways that Mom's don't have time to talk about

8. I always wondered why Mom's, after they gave birth, didn't talk about their recovery and their personal struggles. It is because they don't have time to worry about it, and even less time to blog about it

9. Everyone thinks their opinion is right

10. One yawn means-I need a nap RIGHT NOW (or else)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Our first solo outing

Elliott and I made our first solo mission out of the house together today. We went to UCSD, and attended a Breastfeeding Support Group. It wasn't really a support group in the classic sense, it was more like a hands on with a lactation consultant, where other Mom's are too. There were 3 Mom's there, including me. One was there with her husband and Mom, and 4 day old baby. The other was there with her Mom and her 9 day old babe. Elliott and I were there together. He is 3 weeks and 2 days old today. I cant believe how fast the time is going.

We didn't learn too much, except that we are doing pretty well compared with some other folks. But, I think that is just a matter of time. With time you learn about positioning and your babies preferences. Plus, when one thing hurts--you change it and try something else. That was basically the take home message for me. Keep at it, and keep will get easier. And from the looks of the gals in the group, it has already gotten easier for us. The let down has improved. We are nursing on each side for several feedings in a row, before we switch over to the other side. That has made a huge difference. Now, if only we could get our latch worked out.

Elliott got weighed again today, and weighs 11 lbs and .02 ounces. No wonder my back is killing me! I think he is growing faster than my muscles are. Everyone is amazed at his weight gain.

I am enjoying being home with him. And I am already beginning to worry about having to go back to work. I keep trying to think of ways to get out of it. I am slowly trying to plant the seed with my hubby about me staying home. But, financially I just don't know if it is possible.

My Mom came to visit this past weekend. She arrived on Saturday around 4pm. We hung out on Saturday night, went out to dinner and then she left around 8pm. They came back on Sunday morning around 11am to say goodbye. It was a quick visit, but it was nice to see her, and to get a few photos of her and Elliott. She seemed happy and glad to meet him.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Over Active Let Down...

I thought it was weird that when I nurse lately, my son and I (or should that say me?) are covered in milk. He hasn't been latching on well, and has been pretty fussy. He also has had a lot of gas, and tummy distress. All things that weren't present the first 2 weeks of his life. He was angelic the first couple of weeks. Not so much lately-he more resembles colicky.

So, I spoke with a girlfriend, and did some searching on the WWW, and discovered what appears to be my problem. I have an Over Active Let Down... We fit all of the criteria.

So, tomorrow I am going to call UCSD and make an appointment with a lactation consultant. I may also consider attending a La Leche League meeting or a breastfeeding support group. They meet on Tuesday and Thursday in my hood. I didn't think that breastfeeding would be so difficult...

It seems like it should be intuitive, and a natural organic process. But, there is a big learning curve that I was completely oblivious to. Which is a theme that I am encountering often these days. I discovered a little nub of info about myself lately. In the past, when it came to other people and their kids...I always turned a blind eye, and tuned all things kid and parent out.

To all my friends who I didn't pay attention to when you were pregnant, nursing, struggling, parenting...I am sorry. This is hard work and I should have been a better friend.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Power to the single people

Come Monday, my hubby goes back to work. And so ends his 3 weeks of paternity leave. I am not sure how I would have done it with out him. Between recovering from surgery and trying to take care of a newborn, and a household... I am lucky to have survived (insert light drama here). Or how I am going to fare when he goes back to work. Having him home is a little like having a safety net for me as a mom. I am looking forward to being on my own, and having our own routine, but I am also a wee bit nervous about being alone, and not having someone to hand off to.

Hubby and I in the course of my pregnancy, and even more so now (since Elliott's been born) are reminded about how lucky we are. Lucky to be a married couple with a new baby, and not single. Lucky to work so well together as a team, lucky that we both welcome the changes and the challenges.

We are grateful not to be single parents. We often talk about how difficult it must be for single parents to cope, to get anything and everything done, and to be good parents on top of it. I personally can not even imagine one day as a single parent (or pregnant person).

I have a tremendous amount of respect and new found understanding for folks that go at it alone. I wonder how my Mom did it with 2 girls. She was married off and on, but spent a while being single, or in between marriages. Power to the single peeps.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The contents of my refer

I pumped milk for the first time today. While I am taking 12 weeks off for maternity leave (the max allowed in CA, while still getting paid and having your job protected), I want to be ready for when I go back to work with a strong milk supply built up in the freezer. I was only able to pump on one side due to my little snick-snack wanting to eat off of the other. But, I think I did pretty good for only one side, and it being my first time. I hope it isnt too early to start pumping. I am going to wait to give him a bottle for a couple of more weeks if I can. I am still having a few challanges with breastfeeding, and I want to ensure that we have those out of the way before I bring a bottle into the mix.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The tightrope

I often feel bitter about the fact that women bear the brunt of the 'burden' of child rearing (please don't read this as regret or anger towards my son or my decision to have children). From their conception, we as women are limited in our activities (food restrictions, medication, alcohol), our mobility (exercise, movement, sleep), our consumption, and our freedom. After the pregnancy, we are further tied to them via breastfeeding, diaper changes and the endless soothing and nurturing that is required. Later we are bound by morality and lessons, school schedules, and play dates.

In a moment of frustration and bitterness at my husbands freedom to do whatever he wanted (he spent the majority of the day on the computer working, and the evening watching baseball--although in all fairness he did take the dog to get washed), but get nothing done (I asked for a couple of simple tasks-my honey-do list was small and had carried over from several days ago). I asked him for one day to sit with me, and not move every time I had to breastfeed. I wanted him to know what it felt like to be constrained (perhaps he would be less frustrated when I asked him for something). He basically laughed in my face, and said no. Just as well. Who would get me water if he was tied to the couch too. But, then again who is going to get me water come Monday when he is back at work?

I do not want to imply that I these things aren't done willingly or with love for my son. I just want to bring to light the great amount of sacrifice and selflessness that it takes to be a good mother. I wonder with all that we give up, why it is also accompanied by such vast amounts of guilt and grief.

Are we giving enough time to our child, did we handle that situation correctly, could I have done something different, given more, shown more patience, love, or guidance...The list is endless and the guilt never ending for some. It is a tight rope to walk, and unless we all find balance both in parenting and in our marriages, we are bound to fall.

Who gives to Mom's? Who makes sure we are alright? Who nurtures us? Who takes care of us when we are sick, or sad, or lonely? I am working the details out now, and hopefully will be able to find my balance soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Car woes

Not too much to report. I dropped my car at the VW dealer this AM, to have it inspected for the necessary parts required for the LATCH system install. And then this afternoon they called to say OOPS, it was covered under warranty until January 2007, but VW doesn't cover the cost any sorry. And, yeah...its $350. Oh, and need XYZ done on your car too. Cost estimate is ...wait for it...$1650.00.

I am going stir crazy. I need a car, and I need to get out of the house. Now that I have the all clear to drive, I cant afford to. Hopefully I will be able to lift the car seat out of the car. The nurse came to the house yesterday and Elliott now weighs 9 lbs and 14 ounces. All he wants to do is eat. Is it possible he just wants/likes to suck? Can I give him a pacifier? Or will that cause nipple confusion? He will stay on the boob for an hour each side if I let him...and, boy my nipples are sore!

Last night we were so desperate to get some sleep that I took him out of his sleeper and let him sleep directly in the bed with us. I have been reluctant to bed share because I am a pretty hard sleeper by nature, and initially was taking pain meds post-surgery. But I might have to try it out for a while as I think he slept better and more soundly next to me.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The honeymoon is over

The last couple of days have been a bit of a challenge, both in terms of patience and sleep. Elliott has taken to fussing and crying, and wanting to eat constantly. But, once we get to the boob, he doesn't want to latch on or he falls asleep. I thought maybe he was going through a growth spurt. I have read on several peoples blogs about a cry room...I have never heard of it before. Perhaps because I am not a church goer, but I sure do wish we had one here.
We were on a bit of a loose (very loose) schedule. But, the previous 2 nights threw that out the window. He was sleeping for 3-4 hour blocks and when he awoke, it would take us about 45-1 hour 15 minutes to feed and go back to sleep. But, the last few nights, he slept in 3 hour blocks staying up for 2 hours in the middle. Luckily my hubby is still home to help in the middle of the night--he is the designated diaper changer. On a side note, I had no idea that babies were so loud when it came to farts, burps and pooping noises. Holly cow.

This picture pretty much sums it up. Today we have a nurse coming to our house. There is a program here in CA that is backed by state funding and grants that assists first time Mom's. It's called First 5, but I don't know too much about it. Except that the nurse makes a home visit, does a check up, weighs him, and counsels on breastfeeding. I am going to take her up on the breastfeeding offer. My left breast needs some serious counseling.
We have been making more outings, and I am getting around a lot easier. I am waiting for the steri-strips to fall off my scar...but, I think I might have to 'assist' them. I wonder what a SAHM's (I'm not a SAHM, but I think about it sometimes) schedules look like during a typical day. Would I get bored? Would I be fulfilled? I suspect and hope that once my healing has reached a certain stage, and my car is functional again, and my hubby is back at work...that I will be able to get out and about with ease. Mostly, I hope that my nerves about driving with the little chipmunk are relived after a few solo car rides.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day 14 for my little chipmunk

Yesterday, On Friday the 13th, Elliott's bellybutton fell off. It was kinda gross, and smelled yucky. I suspect my sniffer is extra sensitive lately. At the first sign of spilled breastmilk, I can smell it and need to change clothes (that applies to his and/or mine). Hubby says I am extra sensitive to it.

I have a gaggle of coupons for Huggies diapers (we were using Pampers), so being thrifty I sent hubby to buy some. 3 times last night his diaper leaked. I had heard that certain brands work better with certain baby body types, and now I can attest to that. Does anyone want a bunch of Huggies coupons?

Other things to note, looking back I only got to take 7 days of maternity leave... I should have trusted my instinct and gone out on leave sooner. However, since I had a c-section I get 2 more weeks of State Leave.

Hubby says I have a downturn on my face, and is worried about the Baby Blues, or worse. I have been thinking about that alot (since I did suffer from a bout of depression during my 2nd trimester), and have been very sensitive to the possibility. However, after taking inventory...I don't think I am affected. I am a bit bored and stir crazy being in the house all the time. But, with the surgery recovery period they warn you not to push it to much in the first 2 weeks, plus they say don't drive. Lastly, I am kinda scared to drive still (and on a side note, I need to take my car into the VW dealer to get the latch system installed/upgraded...which BTW they do for free!). I stopped taking the pain killers after a few days (they were making me loopy and pretty spacey), and am just taking a motrin 2x's a day. I have been up around since day one, and pretty active and mobile. I am the type of person who cant sit still when there are things to do (and my ocd type personality wont let me sit for long-there are things to organize!). I am looking forward to regaining my Independence (my car and my body), and getting out of the house with Elliott. I suspect that will do a lot to improve my mood.

I am very much looking forward to the next week. We have had visitors at our house almost every day since I went out on leave. The first week my girlfriend from home stayed in our Airstream while attending a conference. Then I went into Labor, and had visitors almost every day in hospital. Then we came home and had people who stopped by daily. Then on Sunday hubby's family arrived for a long planned SD vacation. The SIL and BIL et. al stayed in a hotel, while the MIL stayed here. Initially it was a bit overwhelming. Mostly because we weren't aware of the sleeping arrangements, or what the weeks plan was. Plus, we weren't expecting to have Elliott during their visit. But, all in all it worked out. They left yesterday. Now, today we have another friend from back home who wants to travel down here to visit for the day. I must say Elliott is one popular kiddo.

Hubby and I are falling into a routine, which is nice. We were actually even able to watch a movie last night (although it cut into our requisite sleeping time). It was nice to have some adult entertainment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


So far I have been pooped on twice (Elliott's new nickname for the week is the salad shooter)

Pee'ed on 3 times (my husband has his own count going)

Elliott gained 13 ounces this week, and doesn't have to go back to the doctor until his 2 month appointment. Yippe, except that it's for shots...

I have lost 24 of the 45 pounds I gained during my pregnancy, although when I got home from the hospital I had only lost 6! That is less than my child weighed (I don't know how that was even possible...but if you saw how swollen I was you might understand)

We have had countless visitors and phone calls with well wishes and congrats-Thank you!

We, and I am speaking of the collective we (Hubby, Elliott and I) have received 6 packages in the mail (woot!)

I have gone through an entire package of wet wipes and a package and a half of diapers

I have done at least 5 loads of laundry

Parenting is fun!

Labor Soundtrack

Norah Jones - Come Away with Me
Rilo Kiley - Live at Fingerprints
Feist - Let it Die
Iron & Wine - The Creek Drank the Cradle
Gipsy Kings - The Best of...
Christopher O-Riley - Home to Oblivion / Elliott Smith Piano Tribute
Mishupishu - Best New Music, disk 1

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Birth Story-Part II

Up until the birth of my son, I had never been admitted to a hospital before. I had never had an IV, a catheter (or 2), I had never been hooked up to oxygen, or fetal heart monitors. I had certainly never had surgery (unless you count having a mole removed...). I was steadfast on minimizing the amount of medical intervention that was involved in the birth of my baby. I had adopted the mind set that women birth babies every day, every second without intervention, and often times unassisted. I didn't want an epidural, or any drugs. I certainly didn't want to be lead down the spiral path of intervention (bag of waters broken, pitocin, epidural, heart monitors, c-section).

I wanted to labor and birth naturally, the way my body intended. I also wanted to ensure that my son's arrival into this world was not traumatic or medicalized. It was important to me that I wasn't restrained while I was in labor. I was adamant about the need to be free to move around, and not be limited to a hospital bed. I didn't want to be hooked up to an IV, or any monitors. I also didn't want people to treat me like I was sick.

From 8:30am on Saturday to 2:30pm on Sunday things went exactly as I had planned. Then, the intervention happened. Beginning at around 3:00 pm on Sunday, it was clear that I wasn't progressing, was suffering from exhaustion and my contractions had slowed to a grinding halt. The pitocin suggestion was offered, and we realized that something else needed to occur in order for us to move forward successfully.

Once we moved downstairs to labor and delivery, it was a whole new world. As soon as I was moved, I had an IV inserted. I was so out of it, I didn't realize that she couldn't find my vein, had made several attempts before finding it and I was bleeding all over the place (UCSD is a teaching hospital, and the nurse was obviously learning). I have a loose memory of seeing blood on my wedding ring.

Next came the fetal heart monitors, and my heart monitor. Then the epidural. I was pretty scared to get an epidural, as I have needle phobia and all in all phobia about things being inserted into my spinal cord. But, this was probably the least painful thing about the whole process. It didn't hurt at all, and the most uncomfortable part of the process what having to curl up and apply pressure to my very full bladder. It was done before I knew it, and my doula said it was the fastest epidural procedure she had witnessed. I was still having strong contractions at this point, and the need to push was still there. It was an odd sensation for the epidural to kick in, and be able to move my feet and legs, but to not feel pain. I still had the massive urge to push and bear down, but it was remarkably painless.

After that we needed to decide on the type of catheter I was going to receive. This is where the key decision needed to be made. If I opted for the pitocin then one type of catheter was required, but if we went straight for the c-section then a foley catheter was required. So, hubby and I consulted everyone, weighed all the options and decided for the c-section.

It was about 4:30pm by now, and the frenzy had begun. Since moving down to L&D, I had been surrounded by at least 5 people, and at any given time, at least 2 or 3 were doing some sort of procedure on me. The surgical nurses were now involved, and they took over for the birth center gals and the L&D gals. I had the foley inserted, I was partially shaved, and my husband was prepped for the OR.

It didn't take long for them to wheel me in, swab me with betadine, lock my legs down, give me a stronger dose of the epidural, test me to be sure it was working, hook me up to oxygen, and prepare to cut me open. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I was shaking like crazy, even before the epidural kicked in from nerves. My husband finally was brought in. I think they almost forgot him, as the anesthesiologist had to say several times, "Are you going to bring the husband in?". I was relived to see him. He stood by my head during the procedure.

It felt like it took forever! I could see Elliott being brought over to the table where he was examined and cleaned, Hubby cut his cord after it had finished pulsing. He was then brought over to me. He was placed on my chest for a moment (we got a photo), but the surgical team needed the space, so he was taken back over to the table, swaddled and his Dad got to hold him while they took some additional pictures.

They finished up the procedure, and placed Elliott on my chest while we were wheeled out to recovery. While we were in recovery we made our first skin to skin breastfeeding attempt. We weren't very successful for several reasons, the first being my complete lack of coordination due to the drugs and anesthesia. And the second being my utter lack of experience. Elliott on the other hand was rooting around looking to latch on. He is a champ at that. My doula was there luckily to help me keep a hold of him, and comfort him and me in our first attempts.

We stayed in recovery for a couple of hours and then moved back up to the 4th floor. We stayed in the hospital for 3 more sleepless nights before we came home. Nothing but vital signs, liquid meals, and measured urine. Elliott did great on all his tests-apgars were 8 and 9, his weight was good and he didn't lose too much over the first few days, he hearing test was fine. All pediatrician visits were positive. I was up and around after the first day, and have been pretty mobile since.

So in summary, I am still processing my feelings about the birth and the entire event. I feel deeply saddened that I wasn't able to birth my son vaginally. I feel a little like I let him (and myself) down. Personally, I feel that I missed out on a rite of passage as a woman and a mother. I am still mourning the loss. But, in the same breath I feel that I did the very best I could, and could not have labored any longer without assistance. Not to mention the health risks that were at hand. What I need to remember is that Elliott is here, he is safe, he is perfect in every way possible. I wouldn't change a thing about that.

I am head over heals in love with my boy. No amount of sadness about the way he came into this world will ever change that.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Birth Story-Part I

My mucous plug was lost gradually over the morning, but I first noticed it at about 8:30 am on Saturday June 30th. I started to feel what I thought might be contractions beginning very shortly after that. I wasn’t sure they actually were ‘real labor’ contractions or if it was false labor, or if the contractions were going to start and then stop a while later.

The contractions felt like menstrual cramps (I only infrequently get cramps during my period, but imagine that this must be what they feel like when they are more pronounced) and they were in my lower belly. I continued cramping lightly throughout the morning, and with more intensity as the day wore on. The key for me was monitoring the time and continuous rhythm. Since I still wasn’t sure that real labor had actually begun, or for how long these contractions were going to last, I was intent on making the best of it.

We had a bar mitzvah’s temple services to attend and a birthday party gift that needed to be dropped off. So, we dropped off the party gift and joked with our friends that our son might be born today, and headed up to the temple for Saturday Services. We arrived a few minutes late, but stayed the 2 hour service and for the kiddish, and then went back to our friend’s hotel to hang out for a bit. At around 3:00 pm, I suggested that we go home, and get changed for the party. It was again a joke that I was in labor, and everyone kept telling me to sit on a towel for fear that my water was going to break. I reminded them that often times a woman’s water doesn’t break, and that wasn’t always the next step in the labor progression. I didn’t want anyone to panic, or get all freaked out and start worrying.

I had expressed my desire for a particular bottle of pink champagne that I wanted to open after Elliott was born, in the hospital. Hubby hadn’t purchased it yet, so on our way home we stopped by BevMo and bought a bottle of pink champagne (although not the one I wanted…).

The whole day I vacillated on if this was it or not. I knew in the back of my mind that this was it, but I didn’t want to say it out loud for fear of freaking myself out. I was handling everything calmly, taking it one step at a time, and up to this point wasn’t making any assumptions. When we arrived at home I had decided that I was likely in early labor and should let my doula know so she can possibly begin planning, just in case something else happened. We agreed to keep one another posted if anything progressed, and hung up. I suggested to my hubby that he set his out of office assistant and tie up his loose work ends, and gather his things together so when I give the high sign, he is all ready. I also started to gather and pack up the last few things that I needed to take with me to the hospital. I was pretty much ready for whatever came next. Hubby was working on the computer, apparently putting the finishing touches on a few last things (though not with any sense of urgency).

I went to use the restroom. After emptying my bladder, I was just about ready to finish up, and a flow of liquid was released. I immediately knew what had happened, and there was no doubt in my mind that my water had indeed just broken!

I told my hubby what had happened, and in typical hubby style, I had to offer up all the reasons why I think that it happened, walk him through the details, and practically convince him that it was in fact true. (This is an ongoing conversation with hubby-ever since the positive pregnancy test-more on that later). I had to make a solitary decision, since it didn’t seem like I was going to get his buy in that my water had in fact broke. So, I called the Midwife hotline from our kitchen phone, which BTW is the only phone in the house. As soon as the answering service gal answers-my water really breaks. This was a main line fracture, just like every woman fears will happen while they are out in public. I start gushing amniotic fluid, and it is pouring out of me. I can’t stop laughing (I often laugh when I am nervous or don’t know exactly how to handle a situation), as I try to explain who I was and why I was calling the Midwife Hotline. I hang up the phone and turn around to a look on hubby’s face that I only wish I could have captured on camera. He looked totally freaked out-a combination of terror, shock and total disbelief (now maybe he will believe me is what I was thinking!).

In the meantime, he doesn’t know what to do, and is just standing there. What does he do first? No, not get me a towel or ask how he can help, or if I am OK. No, he gets the camera, and wants to start snapping photo’s to document the event. We are both hysterical and can’t stop laughing at the sheer amount of fluid that is freely flowing from my vagina. Once we got some sort of control over the flood gates, hubby realizes this if for real, and starts running around frantically to finish up what he needs to get ready. In the meantime, I am calmly waiting for him on the couch to leave for this hospital.

We pack up and go, and arrive at the hospital (5:30 pm). After we check in, we are notified that there isn’t a nurse available in the birth center, so they have to temporarily triage us in Labor and Delivery (bummer). We are laboring there (the 2nd floor of the hospital) for a while, and the midwife on call-Jasmine checks in on us periodically. But, we hadn’t officially checking in to the hospital yet.

Around 9 or 10pm, we are notified that a nurse has arrived and we can be moved to the birth center (4th floor of the hospital). While we are being transferred, they are filling up the tub with warm water for me to labor in. The birth center was nice, the room was big and private, and most important to me it was relatively uninterrupted. Things seemed to be moving along well, and looking back it was really all a blur to me now. We tried different positions on the ball, in the rocking chair, laying down, squatting, sitting in the bed, walking the halls, the tub, and anything else you can think of to ease the pain. I felt ultra focused and introspective. I felt very much inside of my head. I didn’t have much to say, and was really trying to concentrate on the contractions, not think about their length or time, or look at the clock. My Doula kept me hydrated and using the bathroom and she kept me active and calm.

My husband told me later that he and the Doula spoke around 3am, and consulted the midwife and guessed that based on my progress I would have the baby some time in the AM hours (9am was the estimate). Up until this point I had not had a vaginal exam (the midwives feel that exams are disruptive to labor, and are often counter productive to a laboring woman's progress. I too was worried about having an exam, for fear that if I hadn’t progressed far enough that I would be disappointed by my own progress). Around 4:30am the Midwife comes in to check on me and see how I am feeling, and offers me an exam.

At 4:30 am I was dialed to between 5 and 6 centimeters. It was kind of disappointed that I wasn't farther along, but I was still in good spirits and felt strong. By 9am, there was a shift change and a new midwife came on staff (the new midwife was my favorite one, so I was happy about that). Rebecca did another exam and I was dialed to 8.5 centimeters. She noted that my posterior cervix was still thick and wanted to help me loosen it. So, over the next hour or so, during a contraction she manually attempted and succeeded in bringing me to 10 centimeters. It was about 11:30 am and I was fully dilated. I didn't feel the immediate urge to push, perhaps because she had manually manipulated my cervix, or perhaps because the babies head was only at a 0 station. During the exam she noted that the babies head was not facing the correct direction, but that it might shift during the next stage.

I began pushing to try to get the babies head to come down a few stations. So from 11:30 to 2:30pm I pushed, and pushed with each contraction trying to birth my son. However, in that time he only moved 1 station.

This is where my troubles began. I hadn't be able to urinate for a few hours, and they had to insert a catheter to temporally assist with that. My bladder was FULL. By 2:30pm my contractions had slowed down dramatically, and I was exhausted. I hadn't eaten since lunch time Saturday, and couldn't eat while I was in labor as I was nauseous the entire time. The Midwife, then based on the length of time I had been pushing, the fact that I had only moved 1 station, the time that had lapsed since my water had broken, and the fact that my contractions were now 5 minutes apart--she suggested we move downstairs, and they administer pitocin (an epidural was implied as well, since I was already at 10 centimeters and pushing).

I broke down and cried for a long time, I realized then and there that my hopes of an unmedicated vaginal birth were not going to play out the way I had intended. I was grieving the loss. I thought for an even longer time about what that meant to me, what I was willing to do, and what I felt I was capable of. I had been in labor for more than 28 hours with no drugs and had gotten so far, but from the looks of it the babies head was not descending.

I agreed to go down stairs and be assessed. The labor and delivery doctor came in and performed an ultrasound, they did a blood draw and an exam. She spoke with the Midwife and then presented me with my options. They went like this:

Based on the ultrasound the babies head was crooked in the birth canal and that was why he wasn't descending.
My white blood cell count was high, which meant that an infection could be brewing (it had been almost 24 hours since my water had broken).
I still couldn't urinate, and my full bladder might be in the way of my progress.
They estimated the babies size at around 9 pounds. Because of his size and head position they didn't feel that an assisted birth using forceps or a vacuum were recommended. They felt he was too high in the birth canal and assisting could cause him to get further loged as well as cause me vaginal and possibly cervical trauma (not to mention all the risks to my baby).
I would therefore have to push the baby out and they would only allow me to push for another 30 or so minutes, even with the epidural and pitocin.
If I couldnt push the baby out in that time frame, I would have to have a c-section anyway (and I increased the risk of the c-section depending on how far I was able to push him down the birth canal).

So, after I shed another 20 plus minutes of tears, and talked out every option and risk with the doctor, midwife, my doula and most importantly my husband...we opted to skip the pitocin and have a C-section. After more than 30 hours of natural, wonderful, unmedicated labor, pushing for 3 hours, and wanting more than anything to have a vaginal childbirth...I was going under the knife.

Labor amnesia

I have been reflecting today and all week on my labor trying to get my birth story finished. I began to feel sad and at a loss, as I was not able to remember a lot of the details or the chronology of events in the labor process. I was really taking it to heart.

I was trying to remember and be able to articulate what a contraction felt like and couldn't. I also wanted to remember what I was thinking or doing to deal with them. I want to be able to describe details...but I cant remember many of them.

Today, while I was breastfeeding Elliott I opened up a book I was reading to prepare for childbirth, called Birthing from Within. I flipped to the chapter on endorphins. It basically summed up what I was feeling, by saying that during a natural childbirth, your body produces endorphins as a natural response to pain. The endorphins cause a haze that soften your memories and protect you from lasting trauma. It goes on to say that endorphins cause amnesia about pain and allow for a misty magical memory of your labor. In opposition, it says that when you get an epidural that the natural endorphin haze is lifted and you have a more acute memory of details, which often when retrieved are more traumatic and vivid.

After reading this I felt better about not being able to remember. I felt very at peace during the labor process, and 'inside my own head'. It felt natural and I felt in control of my body.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Luck and Love

I feel like I am the luckiest person on the planet right now. I know that babies are born every second, and that every Mom must feel this wonderful when they look at their baby. But, I just have to share how head over heels in love I am with my son. As I write this I am starting to get a little teary eyed.

Last night we had a little cluster feeding session, and around 9pm I put him to sleep in the co-sleeper (not the kind that hooks to the side of the bed, but the kind that is a little bed in itself). Hubby and I put it in between us in our bed. The rock star sleep until midnight, nursed on both sides and went back to sleep again. I woke up at 3:00 am out of a dead sleep, and woke him up, did a diaper change, and we nursed again. Went back to sleep until 5am, did the same routine-diaper change, nurse. I thought we might be up for the morning so I made coffee, fed the dog, etc. But, Dad wanted to snuggle some more so he took Elliott to the couch and slept with him for another couple of hours, and I went back to bed for another couple of hours. Last night I got more sleep in one night than I have in a week cumulative.

I am still working on my birth story. It is going to be a long one, and I want to ensure that I have included all of the details, feelings and the like.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Welcome Home Elliott!

Wow, is all I can say.
Elliott was born on July 1st, 2007 at 5:54 pm.
8 pounds 1 ounce
21.6 inches long

He is perfect! I am in the process of writing up my birth story and have been collecting things I want to tell and share. Hubby and I are in the process of settling in to the lack of sleep and whirlwind of other changes that comes with having a baby.