Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Birth of Dominic: Part II Deliver in the Hospital

Need to get caught up? Part one here.

We arrived safely at the hospital and I thanked God that we didn't have to drive to Rockford in the middle of this foggy night like we originally planned. Geoffrey offered to drop me off at the emergency room entrance, but I didn't want to be without him so he parked the car and we walked in together. I also figured the walking would help keep labor moving in the home-hospital transition. Every contraction on the way in, we would stop and I would lean on Geoffrey for support. These contractions, while standing upright, were some of the hardest to bare. When we made it in Geoffrey proclaimed something to the nurse that was actually pretty cool to hear: "my wife is in labor." They took one look at me and could tell I was in the thick of it and quickly got me a wheelchair on which I couldn't have sat down fast enough. We were immediately brought up to the labor and delivery wing. It was on the ride that I realized that during ever contraction I was letting out a quiet moan, "hooo" as I exhaled. I don't know when I started doing this, but it felt good, like a release and helped greatly during the contraction. I continued this throughout. At the labor and delivery desk they told us it was a very busy night/morning and I think we got the last room they had. Geoff joked that there was almost "no room in the inn." On our tour of the hospital they told us we would first be taken into a room to get assessed and to make sure we were in labor, but for me there was no doubt so they took me straight to our room. It was 4:15 am.

Geoffrey gave the nurses our birth plan which they looked over. Unfortunately there wasn't any wireless monitors available and they said the baby and I must be monitored for at least a few minutes so they hooked me up. That was not fun. Having these two big velcro belts around my contracting belly made things harder, but I could humor them for a little while. Contractions were generally coming every 30-60 seconds now but sometimes they were one after the other with only a couple seconds break. I was in the bed and had them sit it up as far as it would go. It wasn't quite enough and since Geoffrey was thoughtful enough to bring some of our own pillows he propped me up further.

I was nervous and anxious to get checked and see how far along I was but instead the nurses were asking all sorts of questions, none which seemed particularly important to me and all of which Geoffrey answered. They spent a good deal of time entering stuff into the computer and then turned on the TV to show us how cool it was that our name, attending doctor and such were on display. Now in their defense I'm sure they are used to a routine, one that includes women arriving very early in labor. They kept talking to me and trying to get me to sign papers and I was pretty much ignoring all of it. I was in my own little labor world. After at least a half an hour of that they decided I should get in the dreaded gown and finally did the dialated check between contractions. At our Bradley classes there was a couple that shared their birth story. She had labored bravely and intensely at home for 20 hrs doing everything right. They finally went to the hospital only to find out that she was only 2 cm dialated! She labored for another 10 hrs after that. This was my worry. And I had only been at this for 4.5 hours. The moment of truth..."8 centimenters!! "AWESOME!!" I proclaimed. I was so excited! The nurse was actually pretty suprised I was so far along. Geoffrey thinks that because I was being pretty quiet and "handling everything so well", the nurses thought I was still pretty early on and that is why they were being so laid back. They realized now it was time to get down to business and get the IV in because I tested positive on Step B and needed the antibiotics. I remember asking multiple times if they could take off the monitors now and they kept saying no. I was frustrated with that but tried not to let it get to me.

Since we found out that I was 8 cm, we decided it was time to call our family, in particular my mom since I was hoping for her presence during birth being a five time veteran of natural childbirth. It was now a little after 5am. Geoffrey called my mom and told her what was going on and that I was 8 cms. She works in the OR at Kish and was due to be into work anyway around 6 am. She said she would be there soon. Geoff also called his parents and left a message. We probably would have made a few more phone calls if it wasn't so early in the morning and if things weren't going so fast, but oh well.

Our doula Alicia arrived (all the way from Rockford bless her heart!). Geoffrey and I were both so grateful. She jumped right into everything figuring out perfectly what I needed and assisting Geoffrey who was doing such an amazing job being my support! She asked if I was hot (yes!) and she had Geoff put a cold wash cloth on my head and began feeding me ice chips. Throughout all of labor Geoff had been keeping me very well hydrated and I had been drinking a lot of water. I remember being very thirsty. As a result I now needed to use the bathroom. I got up and went to the bathroom. After I urinated I had a contraction and while I was sitting there I felt a different sensation, my body shook and I felt like I needed to push. Unsure though I went back out to my bed and didn't really say anything. It was then Alicia said "let me know honey if you are feeling like you need to push or anything." The next contraction again my whole body shook and my moan became louder, longer, and staggered. Alicia took notice and said "like that, did you feel like pushing?" Yes I most certainly did. The nurse said "if you let us break your water your baby could be out within the hour." I let them know I preferred not to have my waters broken artificially and Alicia asked if before they did, if we could try naturally. They agreed. Alicia told me to lay on my side and next contraction to grunt and push just slightly. Then to turn to the other side and do the same, and repeat until it works or doesn't. Well that was an awesome suggestion cause all it took was one try. I turned on my side laying down, grunted as I slightly pushed and GUSH! My waters broke, what an intense sensation. Geoff said my whole body shivered. Then I heard Alicia say "honey we have some meconium." I had read about this before hand and knew that our baby's had its first bowel movement in the womb. Geoff and I both got a little scared because we knew that this could be very dangerous for baby if any was ingested. Geoffrey came in close and said a beautiful prayer, it really comforted me. I also asked for Ellen's intercession figuring that if there was anything good about losing a child, it was that she was in Heaven waiting to pray for us. And of course we said a prayer to our Blessed Mother.

I sat back up as much as I could and Alicia suggested that for the next few contractions I give in to the urge to push slightly, but let the baby do most of the work and slowly move down. So my body could adjust. These contractions were pretty cool because our baby was doing all the work and I just let it happen. We did this for three contractions and then I realized that the Doctor had finally decided to join the party. To tell the truth I hadn't even realized that she wasn't there as I had such amazing support. Rubbing her eyes having just woke up she checked me out and Alicia filled her in on the situation. She quickly got dressed in her scrubs. Alicia told her that we are letting the baby move down slowly, to which Dr A. said "we need to get this baby out now!" Oh boy did that scare me! Alicia didn't appear to be as worried though and that calmed me down, but she did tell me to really push on the next contraction. That was easy to do. I would take a deep breath and push while I exhaled, then would repeat for the duration of the contraction. Already at the second contraction, Geoff and Alicia said "There's the head!" In between contractions I relaxed preparing for the next round.

Third contraction, our baby was born!

I turned to Geoff and said "That wasn't so bad." To which a nurse laughed and said "I think you might be having some more children." I just remember being so shocked that it was over so quickly. Alicia asked "What is it dad?" To which Geoffrey said in the most beautiful choked up voice "It's a boy. We have a son." This moment was so amazing. Geoff was convinced we were having a girl and it was truly overwhelming to him that he had a son and we of course could not have been more thrilled. It was 6:12 am.

I asked Dr. A if we could delay cord cutting but all our plans for immediately after birth went out the window because our Son wasn't doing so well as he did ingest the meconium. His cord was cut immediately and he was brought over to the side to get his lungs cleaned out. This was terrible because I didn't really get to see him and I didn't know if he was okay! I so badly wanted that moment after birth where he is put on my chest, but he needed medical attention so I had to let it go. I just wanted him to be okay. I asked Alicia if he was going to be alright and she assured me that he was. Then Geoff went over and took this picture just so I could see our precious little guy.

His first close-up just moments after birth. That was when my mom decided to arrive! She literally just missed the birth! After she got the call from Geoff she went about her day, getting my brother up and making breakfast. She figured she had plenty of time as her labors were all 20+ hours (what a champion!). When she arrived at the hospital she went to the OR to check in and tell them I was in labor. She figured she would say hi and give me whatever support and then go to work and routinely check in. She walked in wearing her scrubs and I'm sure she was shocked when she saw that her new grandson had already arrived! Sorry to go on about it, but it cracks me up. Maybe next time mom! The very cool thing though, was she got to be with him and help the other nurses.

The placenta was born rather quickly with barely a push and Dr. A started sewing up my 2nd degree tears. I'll never forget when I heard his first cry after they had cleaned out his lungs. I gave a big sigh of relief. It wasn't that long before he was brought over to me and I got a couple hours of bonding time before they bathed him and took vitals and such (all of which my mom got to do). He was 6 lb 14 oz and 20.5 in. Then came the hard part, what in the world were we going to name our son?

Needless to say, I had an amazing experience and I hope that gives others hope for a great natural childbirth. It is painful, but managable if you just have faith in the way God designed your body to work. I am so very grateful to my wonderful husband who was everything I needed during labor. Our doula, Alicia, was such a blessing and I truly think she helped everything go smoothly and quickly. She was a great advocate to have, fighting for what I wanted every step of the way. She also made Dominic his very first rosary! The nurses and Dr. A. were tolerant of my desire for a natural childbirth so for that I am also grateful and they really did a great job taking care of our precious little guy.

Wow that was long...thanks for reading. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Birth of Dominic: Part I, Labor at Home

Read about the night before and our birth preparations here.

I woke up after a half hour of sleep at midnight. My stomach was churning. Why oh why did I drink that big glass of strawberry milk?! I went to that bathroom and was in there for a while, took some Tums, and laid back down. I was in my bed for a couple minutes before I decided that these cramps were just too painful and got back up. I went to the bathroom again and (sorry for the candor) my body basically emptied out. It was then I had the first thought of "I wonder if I am in labor?"

After being in the bathroom for about 15 minutes, I decided to watch the clock to see how "far apart" my cramps were. Sometimes there were 30 seconds and sometimes 2 minutes. Over the next few minutes, I had my only moment of panic during the entire labor. I thought "IF I am in labor, and this is just the beginning, I don't know if I can make it through." And even though it was more painful than any cramp I had experienced before, I kind of put aside the idea of labor because everything I studied and learned was that at the begining, your contractions are 5-10 minutes apart. There was just no way that with virtually NO pre-labor, and not being at all dialated just two days before, that at the very beginning was I experiencing contractions that were 30 sec-2 minutes apart! I decided to get back up and try to lay down again. Just in case this was the beginning, I wanted to try and rest while I could. But I couldn't, it was simply too uncomfortable. After only 2 minutes of lying down, I again got up and went into the living room/dining room area and spent the next hour and a half pacing back and forth. It felt good to move and walk so I just kept doing it.

Finally at about 2 a.m., I decided that I should wake up Geoff. *tap tap* "Honey I think I might be in labor." To this day I am still shocked he didn't wake up before that point because he is such a light sleeper and would wake up and the drop of a hat. He sat up and asked me how I felt and what is going on. After I explained the past two hours to him, he went to the bathroom and while he was gone something happened. My labor greatly intensified. In retrospect I wonder if it was the sound of his voice or seeing him that kicked my labor into high gear.

When he got back I told him, "yeah I'm sure I am in labor now". Suddenly, I couldn't talk during my contractions or do anything. I sat "indian style" on the bed and just breathed. Geoffrey got our rosaries as we had made plans at the beginning of labor to say a rosary for a safe and happy birth, but I just couldn't do it. I sat there and labored for a while. Then I remembered that I had gotten Geoff a gift for this occassion! I bought him a St. Joseph medal and had it engraved with "thank you for loving me" (every night in bed we say, "thank you for loving me today"). When I had a second, I told him where it was and he got it and brought it to the bed. He opened up the card and began to read the long, very long, note I wrote to him. It took him a considerable amount of time being that he was kind enough to stop to be with me during the contractions. Things were very intense at this point. I remember if I moved at all during a contraction the pain became unbearible, so I just sat very still and concentrated and then it wasn't so bad. The most annoying thing was that my legs started to bother me, as in getting tingly and numb during my contractions. So Geoff was my saving grace and would rub my legs for me. I can't tell you how much this helped.

After laboring for a bit, I said that I really think we should call Alicia (our most amazing and charitable midwife-turned doula). Geoff was a little unsure being that labor had just begun and it was around 3 a.m. He suggested we move to the living room and time the contractions to see exactly where we were. I got my cumfy sweats and my favorite hoodie on and moved to the LR where I again sat "indian style" on the couch and we timed. He was very suprised that they were lasting about a minute with only 30-90 seconds in between. Isn't that supposed to happen near the end?? I was starting to get a little worried I think because everything we had learned said to go to the hospital when contractions were 4 minutes apart. Well I don't think I ever had one of those. I said that we need to call Alicia and then start getting everything together to go to the hospital. 

We had been anticipating a 30 hour labor that started out mild and easy. We also talked long and hard about laboring at home and delivering in the hospital. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to be in the hospital for any amount of time, let alone get there and find that I am only dialated 2cm. With this in mind, I could tell Geoffrey was not quite on board with the idea, and I greatly appreciate that because in the thick of it, he was looking out for what I wanted. But I could tell that things were moving much quicker than anticipated so he went off to find our notebook with Alicia's phone number. It was no where to be found.

After what seemed like 20 minutes (I'm sure it was probably more like 5) he found it along with all of our Bradley Method stuff. Geoff called Alicia. The conversation went something like this: Geoff- "Hi Alicia sorry to wake you, we're pretty sure Dacia is in labor." Alicia- "Okay great tell me more." Geoff- "Well contractions are lasting about a minute and are coming every 60-90 secs but she has only been in labor a couple hours so we are wondering if we should go to the hospital." Alicia- "Um, yes definitely go to the hospital NOW. I will meet you there."

I'm sure she was surprised and probably concerned that we weren't already there but OKAY! Lets get to the hospital and get this baby here! Geoff started to gather everything while I sat and labored. At first when I felt a contraction coming on I would call for him and he would come running. It was so much easier with him by my side. But I finally realized at this rate we were taking too long so I told him just to go get everything and I would be okay for a few minutes. He grabbed our hospital bag, which thankfully was packed and was going for a few other things we wanted to bring (pillows, snacks, juice, etc). At one point I remember saying "Geoff we need to leave now or we aren't going to make it." Getting into the car on that very VERY foggy March morning, we made the one mile journey to the hospital.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Has Arrived!

I have been working for the past two weeks on Dominic's birth story.
Part one is almost done, but life has been getting in the way (which is a good thing). 
And while I have been living life, Spring arrived and it is awesome! 

I have been gardening since I was a child and now that I have my own house,
I get to plant my own flowers, veggies, and herbs. 
We bought our house last fall and knew the flower beds were pretty established,
but didn't really know what we would find come spring.
It has been a pleasant suprise!

I've been weeding and cleaning out dead leaves and such the past couple days...
But most of my time was spent chasing this cute little guy around.

Though I didn't get much work done, I consider it time well spent.
Happy Spring everyone!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Year Ago Today-Prelude to the Birth Story

  One year ago this very hour, you were still in my belly. Daddy and I enjoyed a nice quiet meal, we watched some Lost on DVD, and I drank a whole glass of milk-strawberry Nesquik (something I rarely do). I had been going to bed early every night for the past week, just in case you decided to come in the middle of the night. Tonight though, I stayed up and watched a movie with daddy. At one point, I put my hands on my belly and said to you "baby, are you going to come out soon? We would like to meet you. But please be nice to momma when you do."

  We had spent the last 9 weeks preparing for your arrival by taking a Bradley Natural Childbirth class. Through the classes and other reading, we felt prepared that we could handle any situation and trusted that my body would do exactly what it was supposed to do to bring you safely into the world. I also had been doing my exercises and felt I was ready for the greatest physical feat of my life. I had no idea what to expect, or how I was going to labor, but knew that daddy and I were committed to a natural birth because we knew it was the safest thing for you. No matter how bad the pain was going to be, it would be worth it for you.
  Even more than that, I was spiritually prepared. Every day for the past nine months, I had prayed for a safe and healthy birth. I prayed many novenas to St. Gerard and went to Mass almost every single day. I also asked for the intercession of your sister in Heaven. I trusted in God, everything was going to be great.

   I wasn't scared, or really even nervous. I was excited. Not just to meet you, but excited to experience the wonderful process of childbirth. I didn't have many expectations, only I had heard that "you labor like your mom." She had long, long labors (31 hours with her first) so I was anticipating that. We planned to labor at home as long as possible so as to spend very little time in the hospital. We planned to pray the rosary at the begining of labor, maybe watch some episodes of The Brak Show, and then go for a nice long walk (or two). We planned to laugh and really enjoy those moments knowing you would soon be here. These were are plans.
  We rounded out the night by laying in bed and reading about newborn care. I read about breastfeeding and daddy read about basic care. We were ready. At 11:30 p.m., we turned out the lights and my head hit the pillow fast.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The First Year: Our Breastfeeding Story

  Dominic and I had a very rough start when it comes to breastfeeding. When we went to his three day check up, we found out that he lost over a pound and that he had not been nursing properly. I think that was quite possibly the worst moment of my life (save the loss of our first child, Ellen). As a new mom, I thought it was supposed to be one of those things that would just be natural. I had seen vids of babies literally start nursing right as they are placed on momma's chest after birth. When we were in the hospital many nurses watched Doc breastfeeding and seemed to think everything was fine so naturally, I thought it was going fine. None-the-less at that 3 day check up, Dr. Karen sat with us for at least an hour, maybe two and tried to help us. She realized that his chin was slightly reccessed and it was making it hard for him to latch. Not only that, but he was sucking on his bottom lip and just couldn't keep it out of the way; he had been doing it for months in utero, you can even see it on one of his ultrasound pics. Poor Dominic tried so hard but quickly became too exhausted to try again. She recommended we go see Judy, a local lactation consultant, and then come back tomorrow. She also told me to pump and cup feed him every two hours, day and night as well as try and get him to nurse.
  Judy was also at a loss with how to help him, she gave me some tips but said really that I was doing everything right, "just keep trying and hopefully he will get it". Since I only had a manual pump, Judy was nice enough to let me borrow her automatic which attached to my pump, thank God for that. Judy and Dr. Karen both asked me how committed I was to breastfeeding and I responded "100%". They knew it was going to be a hard road.
  Geoff, Dominic, and I returned home and I immediately began pumping to get some food in my poor little guy. I set my alarm and cup fed him every two hours (at least) for the next week as well as tried to bring him to my breast. There were a few times when I really thought he had it, only to not have it again next time. It was a long week. When Dominic was sleeping, I was pumping and when he was awake we worked on latching. Every day we visited Dr Karen to make sure he was gaining weight, and he was. As day after day went by and he still wasn't getting it, I began to wonder if I needed to invest in my own pump. Was my baby going to be breastfed from a bottle?
  I can't tell you how many rosaries I prayed that week. I was pleading with mother Mary to help me and was offering all my pain up for my little guy. Every time I prayed, I knew in my heart he was going to get it; I just needed to be patient. Although it was hard to keep my resolve when some close to me asked at what point was I going to start formula. But as long as my milk supply was good (it was) and Doc was getting enough milk (he was) I was going to keep going until he got it. 
  That Saturday I sent 2 hours in Judy's store as she watched Dominic try and latch on. It was exhausting for all of us. After hour one, poor Dominic was drained and took a nap. When he awoke we tried again. Hour two came and we were discussing our options. We tried a nipple shield and that didn't work, so we were talking about where to go from here. I could tell she was beginning to think he wasn't going to get it. Again I prayed for help. Judy said to me "let's try just one more time". I'm sitting there holding my precious newborn son in my arms, and watched as he latched on and began to eat. Tears welled up in my eyes and Judy just watched in amazement for a couple minutes. Finally she broke the silence, "he got it." I will never forget what it felt like. The latch was terrible and it hurt so bad, yet I didn't care because finally he was nursing. And he did indeed just "get it" because he never had problems latching again. I still had to supplement by pumping and cup feeding in addition to nursing for another week just to play catch up.
  I was so grateful that he was nursing that for months I ignored his bad latch. I felt as long as he was eating, I could deal with the cracks and the pain. And it was terrible pain. Finally about month three, he learned to open his mouth wider and then it was smooth sailing. He nursed exclusively for 7 months, and I loved every second. Now at almost a year later he still loves to nurse, and I love it too. I've been asked how long I will breastfeed for and to be honest, I have no idea what to answer is. Doc could decide tomorrow that he is done so I'm taking it day by day.
  So that is my breastfeeding story. As I was reflecting on it today, I was also thinking about why I enjoy breastfeeding so much. This is what I came up with. I love that I get to nourish my child. I love that it is good for his health and builds his immune system. I love that it is something only I can do for him. I love it because it comforts him and helps him to relax. But most of all, I love it because it is our quiet cuddle time together. When he was young and other people were holding him, I missed him not being in my arms; but soon enough I was able to snatch him away, just the two of us, and nurse him. When I was overwhelmed at work, how soothing it was to have that time to relax and look into his eyes. And now, when he is so full of energy and is constantly squirming to get down and run around, I know at least a few times during the day I will get to hold him in my arms and he will be calm and relaxed...well most of the time.