Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hope's Birth Story Part 2

2 am: I woke up to a searing contraction and two nurses standing next to my bed. I let them know I was starting to feel some more intensity. Clearly, my cervix had relaxed to the point where it decided to stop relaxing and just start screaming. I also let the nurses know that everyone should feel free to do whatever was in their power to make my birth as pleasant and pain free as possible and perhaps a little something something before the epidural was in order. The nurse who had just come on duty mentioned she had had natural home births for all her children. At that point I started to get a little wild-eyed. "I'm not having a home birth. I'm here at the hospital. And I'm going to need some pain medication because this is starting to hurt."

So then the nurse mentioned that pain is a pretty common labor symptom, and that I should "not be worried."

And then she mentioned that I could try sitting on a yoga ball or taking a hot bath.

And then I mentioned that those were birthing tools for people who don't take pain medication during child birth, and that I was not such a person, and that my doctor had assured me I could have pain medication at any point and that I did not have to be any certain centimeters dilated to qualify nor did my water need to be broken, (I had made sure to ask that) nor did my husband need to approve nor any nurse nor anyone BUT ME need determine when I needed a little pain medication so I would be wanting that now, please and thank you.

So the nice nurse went off to see what she could do and I reluctantly bounced on the yoga ball and waded into the hot tub with jet streams and clumsily soothed myself through contraction after contraction and the whole time I did not even think I was actually in labor because somehow in my mind I was convinced my labor wasn't 'starting' until they induced me via Pitocin, hours from now, at 6am. And this was only 2 am, and the cervix chillaxer was just a warm up, and the contractions were just tiny mountains on the squiggly monitor so I was definitely not in labor. But I still wanted something to take the edge off because every time I had a tiny mountain contraction I wanted to say motherf----er really loud. Because that's how they felt, they felt like mother f---ing contractions that hurt like a motherf----er. I mean, I'm sorry, that's the only way I know how to describe it.

3 am: Brent woke up after I got out of my bath. The nurse came back in the room. Cold, wet, and draped in towels with no idea how to change back into my hospital gown, I stopped saying motherf----er silently and started to say it out loud and continued to do so for the next two hours. Instead of breathing 'heeheehuhuheeheehuhu" to get through each contraction, I said 'motherf---er' to no one in particular REALLY LOUD. And then I would say, "I am so sorry for saying that." And then the nurse and Brent would say, "That's alright, you are in labor and you can say that if you want to." And that made me feel better. And like they understood me. And I also thought it was nice of them to not be mad at me for swearing. Someone brought me some Fentanyl. I guess it is a narcotic? I thought it was, like, a muscle relaxer. I think I'm the poster child for every single argument in favor of natural childbirth. Because I'm THAT MOTHER who is like, "Hey hook me up whatever you got, and I'll take a double dose, thankyouverymuch." (Although for the record, she came out looking quite sober and latched on like a champ.)

At this point, the Ambien had not completely worn off yet and the Fentanyl was kicking in. And, in between contractions, I was feeling GREAT. But during contractions it felt like your typical run-of-the-mill torture session. By the time 6 am rolled around it was clear that baby girl no longer need me to hold my horses.  It felt like go time. "I'm ready for my epidural. I would like that now." 

The nurse called the anesthesiologist and then came to tell me it would be about a half hour until he arrived. They checked me and I was 3 centimeters dilated. (And counting.) When the anesthesiologist entered the room I suddenly wished I had asked for the epidural hours ago. The contractions were  coming very quickly, and one right after the other, without any breaks. Fear of paralysis was the only thing that kept me motionless when the needle went in because I was starting to feel really shaky. Afterward, the contractions continued, and continued, and continued.  I began to panic because I was feeling each one, and the pain was not lessening. With Jack, the contractions subsided very quickly after the epidural. The nurse checked me again. I was 10 centimeters. (And counting?!)

"Oh my God and please Jesus, I do not want to feel the ring of fire." I told Brent who was filming again.

I started to plead with the anesthesiologist, "This isn't working, I need more, what can you do?" He told me the epidural must have only numbed half my body. (Obviously, not the half that the baby was coming out of.) As we started to weigh various pain-relief options (spinal anyone?) my Doctor arrived. I was VERY happy to see her. Suddenly I felt calm. Within minutes, the pain subsided. The epidural was working and it was time to have a baby.

The irony was thick as I realized I had just gotten my pro-epidural-shout-it-off-the-rooftops-soap-box-self all the way to 10 centimeters without any pain relief. Yes, the Ambien and Fentanyl were making me loopy enough to be doing a fair-to-modest impersonation of Anna Nicole Smith, but I can guarantee I felt the full force of every single contraction up until that baby's head was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Next time I will remember to order the epidural ahead of time.

6:40 am: I had the green light to start pushing, but that's when it occurred to me that I had not taken the time earlier to 'fix my face'. What with being in labor and all, I had totally forgotten. And now the baby was coming, and I looked a mess. And photos would be happening. And I'm somewhat shallow. So this was a problem. I turned to Brent and said,"You need to find my make-up bag." Out of the corner of my eye I saw the anesthesiologist excuse himself from the room.

My doctor sat patiently at the end of my bed. She smiled. "I don't have a mirror so I'll just have apply it without one," I explained, before proceeding to put on a full face of lipstick, blush, eye-shadow, mascara, you name the product and I was putting it on. I WAS PUTTING IT ALL ON. And then I remembered my earrings. So Brent searched through my bags and brought my earrings over. My doctor, still sitting at the edge of the bed and facing me, mentioned they matched my hospital gown. I replied, "Yes, I like this hospital gown a lot." Then I puked 10 times, and announced I was ready to push.

The nurse asked, "Do you need re-apply your make-up?" I remember thinking to myself  -- What a silly question, of course my make up is FINE.

Then I pushed little Hope out. And she was perfect. And she had a crazy mom waiting for her.

I didn't remember anything of the 10 minutes right before she came out, until hours later in the day, when it all came back like some kind of Alice In Wonderland dream. I turned to Brent with a question mark on my face, and he just shook the video camera at me, and smiled.

* * * Scroll down for accompanying videos* * * 

The Aunts

     And for your viewing pleasure: The Videos...

7:30 pm - Arrival 

7:35 pm - The Prelude

10:20 pm - The Sister

6:24 am - Fully Dilated

6:41 am - Primping  

8:49 am - Hope

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hope's Birth Story - Part 1

Disclaimer: This is a birth story. So, it's going to be kind of gross (in a wonderful way). Also, it does not get R rated until Part 2.

Hope's due date was May 19th. At the time, she was named "Either Hope or Juliette" if anyone asked, but in my heart I knew her name was Hope. As the date got closer I began to wonder when this little girl would arrive. Jackson had been premature, and I assumed she would make an early appearance as well. But as the weeks ticked on, I got the feeling that she was going to keep us waiting. It's never too soon to have a prerogative, right? And hers was clearly, "Hold your horses, mom". When I went in for my 39 week check up on May 11th, the Doctor and I discussed inducing. I had been hovering back and forth with some potential Preeclampsia symptoms, although it looked like things were going to be fine. To be on the safe side, we decided to induce that weekend. Afterwards, I called my husband (who was at home with our little guy) to let him know.  Although this news was not surprising, it did make him a bit nervous.

Jackson being swallowed by the baby belly, a few days before she arrived
We went through our schedule for the next few days and wrote out a list of 'To Dos'. As we made our plans, we realized that Jack and our soon-to-arrive-baby-girl's journeys into the world were turning out to be quite different. With Jack we were caught off guard when 6 weeks ahead of schedule he decided to arrive. We had nothing prepared. (Click here for Jack's Birth Story. Part two. Part three.)

But with this pregnancy we had spent the last several months making sure every detail was ready. And now we even knew the exact date she would be arriving. Part of me wished for that long anticipated and spontaneous moment when you 'just know' that labor is coming. I had been wondering for months about what the moment would be like when she decided to join this world. What would I be doing? Would my water break suddenly like a popped balloon as it did with Jackson, or would it be a slower, more typical labor experience? But, for many reasons, it made sense to have her induced and we were definitely ready to welcome her! What opposites these two babies (and pregnancies) were turning out to be!

Later that night Brent and I took turns not sleeping. He woke up at 1:00 am and didn't come back to bed for a couple more hours. Then I couldn't sleep, so I got up and went to the living room where I sat on the couch and started to cry. The end of pregnancy can feel like a departure and a goodbye. Which is so odd because you are about to meet your child! And yet. Suddenly you feel alone, and like you are losing something. You feel the need to just rub your belly, and tell this little one who has been taking over everything inside of yourself that you will be there on the other side, waiting for them. You hope your arms are good enough, safe enough, to protect them on the outside just as you did when they lived inside you. But you know it won't be the same. Nothing will ever be as comfortable, as easy, as perfect for them like that bubble, literally, they have been living in. It will be life: huge and unexpected and uncontrollable. With no walls and no promises and no safety nets. While thinking all these deep thoughts, the tears started to flow and I released 9 months worth of hormones and emotions. All at once and while watching sappy homemade You Tube videos of other people's random kids as inspiration for my own imaginary montage of post birth photos with THIS SONG playing on repeat.

* * *

When the next day finally arrived, we had several hours to fill. We were not scheduled to arrive at the hospital until 7 pm. Besides taking random belly shots in the bathroom mirror from every possible angle, there was not much left to do.

Random belly shot, last day of pregnancy, shortly before we left for the hospital
My goal for the day was to spend time with Jackson. I wanted to give him all of my attention, albeit distracted, and prepare him (for the seventieth time) for his sister's arrival. We stopped by a friend's house in the neighborhood who was having a garage sale. She piled my arms up with tons of maternity & nursing tops. Jackson played tractors with several little boys sitting on a huge pile of gravel. Then we were off to do some last minute shopping and I willingly gave in to every candy / small toy request. It was our special day, and there was no room for rules or self restraint. I pestered him for a thousand hugs and told him how special he was. Just thinking about being away from him for the next couple of nights made me nervous and I started to miss him, even with his little hand right there, holding mine.

What's more exciting than a lolly pop ring? It was a 'spoiling day'.

Tractors + Gravel + Friends = 3 year old Heaven.

6pm: Brent and I dropped Jackson off at my parent's house. The plan was for him to stay there until Hope was born, and at that point Brent was going to pick him up and bring him to the hospital so he could meet his little sister with just the four of us in the room, so it wouldn't be too overwhelming. I wanted to say hi to my sister and mom before we headed out, but only my dad was at home. I don't know if it was a hormone surge or what, but I started getting weepy again as I left their house.

A Few Minutes Later: We stopped at Albertsons to grab some post-epidural reading material and fried chicken for the drive to the hospital (in case we didn't have the opportunity to eat after we arrived). I started obsessively checking the car to make sure we didn't forget anything. We had packed our digital camera, video camera, lap tops,  IPODs, IPHONES, and our I-everything-chargers. We wanted to document the labor and birth.  We went a little overboard this time, but we had regretted not bringing any of that stuff for Jack's birth. All we have from his first day are a few cell phone pictures (and we're talking flip phone pictures).

7pm: We checked in to the hospital. I immediately started taking pictures of chairs, medical equipment, and the paper print-outs that showed my squiggly-line contractions.  Brent was being just as ridiculous and began video taping the linoleum floor and the view from our room. I thought this was a great way to pretend we were on 'Baby Story'.

Baby contractions. No mountains yet!

I was really enjoying taking my pictures.

This blog posting not sponsored by wheat thins. (Obviously.)

Brent giving me encouragement.

Our lovely view

Jessica and I bonding over our new baby girls. Jennifer, you're up next.

I used this a lot.

Pretty much every Expectant Mother's emotions vs the Expectant Father's emotions.

Teresa arrived soon after to keep us company, and that's when the party began. A series of questionable video taped interviews and photos began to emerge from what I would call 'The Beginning of The Blurriness Period." Somewhere between the adrenaline, the fried chicken, and the Jessica Simpson US Weekly article we started to get a little silly.  And this was before the Ambien. So, I'll explain about that. Around 9 pm, the Nurse had come in and gave me something to 'relax my cervix' or, as I called it: "cervix chillaxin time'. Then, observing our rowdy and un-lady-like behavior, she strongly recommended I get some rest, and asked if I could use a sleeping pill. I had never taken a sleeping pill before, and I figured it would be awhile before anything got started, (I wasn't scheduled to start pitocin until 6 am the next day), so I said sure.

Me imitating a pregnancy monster. This was taken pre-drugs.

As the nurse left the room she called back, "Just buzz the Nurse's Station if you start to have hallucinations". Um, what the what? So that was the Ambien. Then I fell asleep.

...stay tuned for part 2 and some awesomely amazing video clips...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Shannon sent me tons & tons of baby clothes for Hope. Shannon has been my best friend for almost 19 years. But she lives in Los Angeles so we don't see each other too often. I'm so excited we both had our baby girls in the same year. Abby is 6 months older than Hope so I'm sure she will have a lot to teach her! They are coming for a visit this weekend and it will be the first time Abby & Hope meet. I am so excited, I cannot wait!
This picture is a bit old -- but I think it perfectly captures Hope & Jack's dynamic. LoL.
I've been meaning to do a post on our trip to the library (we took the bus there for fun - it's only a 5 minute trip & the bus stop is half a block from our house). I haven't had time to write the post yet so for now these pics will have to do! Little preview! Jack found these books and wanted to take them home 'for daddy'.

Someone got tired...

Back in May, just a few days before Hope was born, Brent's mom invited me to a 'tea party' at their church. They had a panel of women who spoke on the topic of 'kindness'. I loved it -- and I even won a door prize for being pregnant!