Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Jace Ephriam's Birth Story!

Friday July8th
I was one day past my due date (but 4 days according to the midwife’s office). I had a non-stress test and amniotic fluid level check that morning, which that baby passed just great.

I went in at 2:00 for my appointment. All looked good, and I was told I could easily go to 41 weeks and they were not concerned, but would want another NST next week were that the case. Charlene (my midwife) told me she was going out of town midnight Tuesday. This would mean if I went into labor (or was still in labor) after that point, I would be delivering with Angela, the other office’s midwife. I felt concerned – I really liked Charlene and had never met Angela! While they spoke highly of her, I really did not want to deliver with someone I hadn’t met nor knew my birth preference (other than what I had on my birth plan). All the months of going to Charlene I did not want to see “wasted”. I was given a few options , from doing nothing to trying to jump-start labor with stripping my membranes to even trying some pitocin. While I wasn’t going the pitocin route, I was actually comfortable with having her strip my membranes and see if I was “ready.” Since stripping the membranes releases the prostaglandins, the same way “other” activities do, it will not start labor if your body isn’t ready. The evening before, I had half hour of 30-45 second contractions every 6 minutes from those attempts, but then they’d stopped. So I was confident this was not preemptive. (Also, let me say here I had been Group-B Strep positive, so my midwife had told me to plan to arrive at the hospital with at least 4 hours of labor, because they needed to administer 2 doses of IV antibiotics to me for the baby, and they had to be that far apart. I had laughed and told her there was no way I’d plan to cut it that close, that my expectation was to be there somewhere around 12 hours prior to birth.)

I left her office near 2:40 and went grocery shopping. It is a rare trip I’m without Elyana, so I was making the most of it and trying to stock up if the baby were going to come. While in the store, I had strong contractions, every 10 minutes and less than 30 seconds long. I did have to stop, breathe and concentrate through them, but then went happily on my way.

At home, they continued. We decided to go to the mall and Disney store once Elyana woke up. I was still having steady contractions, and I hoped this would be the night. In the mall, I had to give them attention, but they stayed about 10 minutes apart (not really sure, I wasn’t timing them so I wouldn’t be too absorbed with if they were getting closer or not). After about an hour, we went to eat (well, J and E did, I just had water). Jonathan, having learned from the first long labor, was trying to stock up his energy so he wouldn’t be too hungry.

Once we got home and got Elyana put to bed, while I lay on her bed all my contractions stopped – for almost 20 minutes! I had to stay sitting or standing to keep them going, but once I would lie down, they would stop. I tried running up and down the stairs to increase their intensity. I thought it was ironic that the main position the Bradley book tells you to labor in was not feasible. I was concerned the contractions would stop, and I really wanted to have the baby, so since my husband didn't want to “help” (haha), I decided to take a small dose of castor oil (1 TBSP) about now. (Hindsight, all that seemed to do was make contractions more intense, without speeding up anything.)

I started timing my contractions at 9pm. For that first hour, they averaged 45 seconds long, 5 minutes apart.  While I had to give them my attention and they were hard, I was still in doubt whether this would be “the night”. I labored best sitting on the couch on my knees or in the bath. The next hour (10 to 11) things ramped up in intensity and pain and my contractions averaged a minute long and 2:45 apart. Close to 11, I started a text to my family saying, “I think this is it, the baby probably will be born tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.” But I did not hit “send” because there was still the niggling doubt that my labor would go close to 36 hours again, which in this case would mean nothing until Sunday early morning. I know when we told everyone the first time, they were very anxious to know what was going on, and Jonathan just continued having to send updates about how slow it all was. I guess I didn’t want to worry them. And I suppose, even when you’ve experienced labor already, you as a woman are prone to doubt yourself about when it’s REALLY time (especially if there has been prodromal labor).

For that next hour, from 11:30 to 12:30, I have huge gaps in my timing of the contractions – a 30 minute gap and a 20 minute gap… so that leaves only 10 minutes really timed. This was due to a lot of intensity and my inability to find a good way to labor without a lot of pain. These averaged 1 minute long, 2:13 apart. So, they were a good 30 seconds closer than the previous hour, but the same duration.  Understand, the application I downloaded on my iPhone to track these did not give averages. I only know now by exporting them to Excel. At the time, I would look and see some 45 seconds, some 1:15, and that’s what really caused me to doubt myself. I was reading the Bradley book on labor in between contractions and I had clearly read that contractions that weren’t longer than 45 seconds just were not effective in opening the cervix (dilation).  So this contributed to my lack of surety.

I labored a lot in the tub. I kept the water hot and would just drape myself over the edge. I got my clothes all wet and didn't care. I thougtht of all the things I needed to do (like put my daily makeup, and some more comfortable clothes in my hospital suitcase). I had much done ahead of time, but a few things had escaped me. I knew I could never make it upstairs and get it all done without having a few contractions, and I just did not want to have them take me by surprise. Somewhere here I did manage to grab what I could, and throw it on the couch downstairs. I told Jonathan he needed to get all that stuff when it was time. He encouraged me, but mostly he was just staying occupied but in very close proximity to me, as we both were really thought this was the beginning of a long ~24 hour event. I had wanted to look “pretty” going to the hospital, but at this point all I could do was wash my face and keep laboring - Hard.

Close to midnight, I started having occasional contractions that were 1:15 to 1:30 long. They were odd, because they were like two rolled into one. The wave of a contraction would start: a gripping of the uterine muscles that works its way tighter and tighter and then the loosening and gradual subsiding that occurs. But these would have the gradual subsiding eclipsed by an oncoming wave of a follow-up contraction! These were incredibly hard to manage concerning the intensity, because there was not a rest for my body.  I remember telling Jonathan how incredibly hard these were to endure.

From 12:30 to 1:30 I had 5 of these “double contractions”.  At this point, my labor was so intense, I was crying out very loudly at some of them (things like, “God, help me!”).  I told onathan a little after midnight that I felt this was serious and I needed to go – and I begging for his input. He told me he really didn’t think it was time. He felt it would be good if we could hold off until 5-6am, when Elyana got up, and we could take her to our friend Stacy’s house. I saw the wisdom in this, and thought, “If I can just make it until 6…” With Elyana’s birth, I told him I thought it was time, and he continued to tell me it wasn’t – and sure enough we went too early. So I was really trying to listen to him. After some of these double contractions, and how much pain I felt, I begged him not to even leave the room where I was.  I felt I needed him right there as I labored in the tub, and I needed him to do the timing for me, as pressing the iPhone’s timer once a contraction started was now too much distraction for the amount of intense concentration I needed. I was seeing bright red blood at this point, which I never ever had with Elyana. Honestly, it scared me. I didn’t know for sure what it was from. I wanted the safety and assurance of the hospital.

I went back on the couch maybe 1:00 am and told Jonathan I really thought this was time to go. He then suggested turning on music or watching something on tv. I was so angry and snapped at him, “If you think I’m at the point where I need distraction, that just shows how disconnected you are from what I’m feeling!” (Something like that.) I was really upset that he was not more in tune with the stage of labor I was in… my emotional signpost was SERIOUSNESS, not excitement.  I left to retreat to the bathroom, somehow just sure I’d have to labor this intensely, but I shouldn’t be here. In fact, soon afterward I reached the self-doubt and told Jonathan I couldn’t do this. In fact, from 1 to 2am, my contractions continued to be 1 minute long, but 1:50 apart.

At this point, Jonathan must have been watching me, and I was really, really struggling with the pain (yes, I’m using that word). I honestly felt overwhelmed with how very intense this all was – very unlike my experience with Elyana. At 2:19, which is my last timed contraction on my iPhone, Jonathan said, “We’re calling Stacy, it’s time to go.” I felt relief! Finally, finally. I told him, “And when we get there, I can get drugs. I can have something. Right?” I remember thinking it sounded silly, and almost that I just was asking so I didn’t feel like I didn’t have a choice. But I also know I felt like I was going to die if it got much worse. I felt so, so much pain. I think it may have taken Stacy 15 minutes to get to the house, and in that time Jonathan scurried around loading up the car. I pulled out the exercise ball to try to labor on, just for something different. It helped, some. Things were very serious – I was crying out a lot, and using all my might to grab onto things (like the couch, towel-bar rack, etc). Stacy came in, and I had been closing my eyes for each contraction for a while, and I couldn’t look at her. I couldn’t even hold myself back (which with Elyana’s labor, I was in control the whole time)! I felt everything was greater than I was – the pressure, the unrelenting feeling of it all. I felt just barely in control at the peak of contractions. I snapped at Jonathan things like, “I want THIS pillow…” and at his grabbing the wrong one 2 times I was undaunted in my fervency.
We left for the hospital, only 10 minutes away. I opened my eyes what felt like 30 minutes into the drive and saw we were only halfway there. I was so discouraged. Laboring in the car, at this point, felt unbearable. When Jonathan pulled up, I wanted to scream at the idea that I’d have to either walk the whole way (and up one flight of stairs) or else take a wheelchair. Both seemed horrible. As we pulled under the awning, I told him, “I am feeling a pushing urge.” It was not a true I-Can’t-Not-Push  urge, but just feeling the urge let me know the seriousness of where I was in my labor. Even if I had the 3 hours of pushing like I did with Elyana, I would still see this baby before the sun came up!

The wheelchair ride was awful. The nurse taking me seemed to not care when I was contracting (“Get in, Get Out.”) I went to assessment and was commanded to put on a gown. I had cleared it ahead of time that I could labor in my own clothes, and this first “bump” was aggravating to say that least! And in the midst of such serious contractions, the last thing I needed was to worry about undressing/dressing and fighting some nurses! I refused and rolled my eyes at them – and then finally agreeing very begrudgingly. I was so irritated but just wanted to get out of there! Sure enough, I was 7 cm. They were asking all kinds of horribly annoying and ridiculous questions. Jonathan blanked on the name of my midwife!! I walked to my room, which was only across the way, but it was a horrible walk, and I stopped just feet from the bed with a contraction. I didn’t care that I was contracting on the floor, but the nurse seemed jolly-well-unhappy with it, and intent on getting me in the bed ASAP. I knew I’d need the penicillin in the IV, but then could walk around. The nurses couldn’t understand that I had permission from my midwife to just get the IV for that, and then not be hooked up to it for fluids or anything. I was  so irritated they were so confused. I couldn’t wait for Charlene to come. At this point they also asked Jonathan for my papers from my midwife. They were in the car. I panicked at his leaving me, as he’d been holding my hand at my side since we arrived. I felt he was the ONLY one protecting me and looking out for me, since Charlene wasn’t there yet. It was a very vulnerable feeling, because being in the deepest intensity of the contractions, I had no idea what was really happening around me, nor much of a voice to use. He reassured me he’d fly.

They called my midwife at 3:09. I’d probably been there 10 minutes. Angela, the midwife from my office that was on-call, came over and started to coach me through breathing through these hard contractions. She told me to look at her and instructed my breathing. Just having to focus on her face and my breathing helped those next few contractions. Jonathan took over her place, and I was clawing into him and grabbing him. He said, “Don’t use your nails” and I said, “If I can stand this, you can stand a little scratching!” (To be fair, there was blood being drawn as well. He did suffer.) I was incredibly vocal and aggressive (in my opinion). This was drastically different than my labor with Elyana. I had been calm and controlled the whole 35 hours and here I felt unable to restrain my tone of voice or aggression. I felt like I writhed with each contraction. A nurse was placing the monitors on my belly during a contraction, and I roughly said, “You’re hurting me!” to which she said it wasn’t her it was the contraction. (Not appreciated at the time.)

Thankfully, Charlene arrived soon; her presence was most welcome and reassuring. She checked me and I was a 9. I told her I felt I needed to push and she told me to hold off for another 5 minutes to get the last of the IV in me. I knew I could. After that, with the impending birth obviously not 4 hours away, I was fully dilated and she asked if I wanted my water broken – and at this point I was ready to get the contractions done and the baby out! She told me it could help with some of the pressure I was experiencing and perhaps speed along baby’s entrance. I readily agreed. It was a relief!

Then began the pushing. Sure enough, like my first time, I would start a strong push, but then fight the follow-through. While in the 45 degree position, I was using my feet to push down to bear the pain – basically thwarting my true pushing progress. I knew this, I felt this. So I got into a full squat on the bed position (bless Charlene for telling me I could do what I wanted!). This at least helped me truly push, but it seemed more painful, so I reverted to the 45 degree sit/lay. Charlene pointed out how I was pushing with my feet, and that it was putting me out of reach of her and not helping. I begged for guidance and this is the only part I felt I wish she’d been more instructive on, because I don’t think she said much except not to use my feet.

It finally got to the point of a contraction that I pushed hard enough that the baby’s head must have been crowning – because I got what’s called the “Eject Reflex”. This was the most revealing and surprising thing about my whole labor. I didn’t know what I should do, but I was too involved to even ask. I knew my pushing contraction was over, but the eject reflex basically makes you want to push out whatever is causing such discomfort. I did not experience this my first time, and I didn’t know whether I should trust this and just respond, or if I needed to wait as much as possible until my next contraction. I just went with what was natural – which was to “get it out”. I cried out, “Charlene, help me!” to which she said, “You have to do this yourself, I need your help.” (or something like that) As basic as it sounded, having her tell me I was in control was exactly what I required. I think since I reverted to vacuum assistance with Elyana’s birth, I had residual ideas of an inability to do this on my own. How I needed her words!

So, I pushed through, and asked, “is the baby crowning” to which I got a YES. I was surprised I hadn’t been given more “progress” stats, feeling like that would have encouraged me. (Side note: I’d wanted to deliver with a mirror, and just forgot to ask, but I don’t know how I’d have seen it since the midwife was right where it would go.) Jonathan was still at my right side, coaching and encouraging. I talked to him and leaned heavily on him physically through every contraction and push. He was so excited and encouraging – exactly what I needed to see in order to continue with energy. It's exactly what the Bradley book tells the coach to do - to be very careful to be encouraging and eager with their words/face so that the laboring woman can see through what she is feeling to how close she really is (in the big picture).

As I got the “eject reflex” and pushed through it, I pushed and pushed and I knew “this is it”. You get a knowing that there is no turning back, your body feels it. But the difficult part is not knowing how long you’ll be in that state, or how painful it will be. I could feel the stretching and a bit of tearing (very tiny) but I just kept pushing, but I screamed. Yes, I did. I’m horrified now. It wasn’t bloodcurdling, but I was so controlled and polite and “normal” through my first delivery, I didn’t even recognize myself at this point (ok, Jonathan says it was bloodcurdling). With only maybe 10 minutes pushing (I have no idea), I finally pushed my beautiful son’s body out: oh the relief! That’s the most amazing thing: the intensity, the violence if you will, the pain, it’s all over and there in front of you is a human being! I cannot describe the emotion. Overwhelming. It was 3:55. I’d been there maybe an hour. Wow. (With Elyana, I was there 19 hours.)

The cord was cut, my son wiped and swaddled and placed on me. I held my son. Jace Ephraim. I loved him, but I was exhausted. I handed him to his daddy after a few minutes, as they were delivering the placenta and that had some pain accompanying it. When I got our son back, I tried to get him to nurse, but he was not very interested (unlike Elyana!). Jonathan accompanied him to get his vitamin K shot and vitals taken. I will say I felt strange, I was ashamed at how I’d lost my controlled self. I apologized many times, because I just felt the person who came in just an hour before was not me. I was disappointed in myself. I also felt dumbstruck that this was “over.” Mentally and emotionally I was not prepared to be done with labor. It was a hard thing to grasp. I felt sad actually at the overarching hospital experience (the labor at home was fine). I was overjoyed to have my son here, but it just took time for my emotions to catch up. I also said, “I never want to do this again!” whereas with Elyana, as soon as she was out, I told Jonathan I would love to birth more children! I also learned that I would have to stay 2 days automatically since the baby did not get 2 doses of antibiotic. This contributed a lot to my feelings of having not done well – I felt I’d failed the baby by not coming soon enough. My midwife visited with me for what felt like 30 minutes (I don’t know how long), and talking to her helped some, as I shared how conflicted I was feeling. Charlene offered a lot of encouragement and told me there wasn’t any way I’d have come that early (sure enough, thinking back to 11pm, I wasn’t even sure the labor was here to stay).

Jonathan stayed with me for a few hours, sleeping in the bed next to me, and I slept a little off and on. A little sleep, nursing and holding my precious baby, and getting a shower turned everything around. In just a few hours, I had dealt with those feelings and was enjoying my son and what I’d accomplished to bring him in! I was ready to say, “I can do this again and I want to.” I was seeing the beauty of his labor in its own light, no matter how it surprised me. I was elated at his life! I had my little Elyana visit me and having all 4 of us together was a very sweet time. Welcome to the world, my Beloved, Precious Jace Ephraim! I delight in your life and your arrival.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Awaiting Baby Boy's Arrival. :)

So... I'm just 5-8 days from my official due dates with Baby Boy (I only had two ultrasounds, and one dated him at 7/4, the other at 7/7 - since I did not really know my LMP).

I wanted to take a moment, to gather my thoughts here as I'm in the waiting mode.

I am so excited to meet my son. I cannot wait to see that beautiful newborn, to smell his skin, to nurse him, to hold him and watch him in person.

But I'm actually grateful for every single day I get with Elyana alone. I am savoring each hug, each book, each time putting her to bed. I'm savoring the moments before I'm exhausted, listening out for another baby crying, or nursing and unable to chase her or work puzzles with her. She has been so affectionate lately too, I really think it's rather a cyclical thing: the more you love on your child and savor them, the more they feel loved and reciprocate. The truth is, as real life moves on, it's hard to keep that in front of you. But with being on the edge of something life-changing for us, I find it easy to realize this could be my "last" uninterrupted whatever with her, and I savor it. I tell her over and over how much I love her, and how she's my firstborn and she holds such a special place in my heart.

I go back and forth between being very exited about experiencing another birth, and with feeling a bit scared and wondering, "Can I do it again?" (naturally) It's weird, since I never doubted myself the first time. I have even had times of contractions and prodromal labor, where I silently prayed "Not yet, not now..." I didn't feel ready physically (as in, these were always at night, when I was already sleep-deprived and tired). This will sound silly, but I also did not feel ready with the state-of-my-house. I just wanted to get my floors swept/mopped and my bathrooms all cleaned one more time before the baby comes. I have accomplished the floors, not yet all 3 bathrooms (1/3 so far). I know that's ridiculous.

We've got Elyana's schedule taken care of, as she'll be with some dear friends we were in training at Holloman with - friends with 3 girls who Elyana adores, and they live 2-3 minutes away (on the way to the hospital even)! Her bag is packed, she's been told many times what will happen. My bag is packed, although I hope to only be there one night!

So for now, I wait on the date of his birth. Each night, I use an iPhone app to do his kick-count. I have learned a lot more since having Elyana, and one thing that I did learn was how important it is to monitor you baby's routine and what is normal for them in regard to movement. Just a simple count to 10 movements/kicks recorded each day could help alert you as the mother to potential problems (such as cord accidents, which apparently happen very slowly). No, I'm not worried about it, but it's one more thing you can do to protect your unborn baby - like taking folic acid or a prenatal vitamin before you TTC so that the neural tube develops properly. I love knowing I am the one person in the world who knows this child better than anyone else, and therefore it is entrusted to me to do everything in my power to take care of him and protect him.

The one thing I am ready to be rid of is how difficult it is to sleep well, walk and in general just get around. Carrying around 25 extra pounds right on your middle of a wiggly little one and everything that entails is tough. I remember so clearly with Elyana how some things magically resolve as soon as the baby is out... Heartburn literally disappears. And sleep, though it's broken up now, becomes deep and refreshing. Those things, I am excited to embrace.

So I am at peace. Excited for what is to come, but absolutely sure that each day is a Gift to us of just Us Three. So with a grateful heart, I head to bed....

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tacking a Not Fun Topic: Breath-Holding Spells

First, as a precursor, I'm just going to post the most relevant pieces of info from the following 3 articles/fact-sheets. Better than my trying to explain upfront...

Breath-holding is very common in toddlers and can sometimes occur in young babies. It affects about one in twenty children. A breath-holding spell may happen after a child has a minor accident, has a fright or gets upset. The child will then cry and hold their breath. Breath-holding spells often occur as part of toddler tantrums although the spell is a reflex reaction to an unpleasant stimulus and not a deliberate behaviour on the child's part

A breath-holding spell is when your child holds his breath when he is suddenly injured, frustrated, angry, or frightened. Breath-holding spells begin between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. They occur only while the child is awake

Breath-holding spells are usually caused by either a change in the usual breathing pattern or a slowing of the heart rate. These reactions may be brought on by pain or by strong emotions, such as fear or frustration.

• Your child may make 1 or 2 cries and then hold his breath in expiration until he becomes blue around the lips and passes out.
• Your child may stiffen and may have a few twitches or muscle jerks.
• Your child will breathe normally again and become fully alert in less than 1 minute.

*References at bottom of entry*

Now, why am I writing this? Well, let me go back to Elyana at ~14 months old. She was running around the house, Jonathan was watching her, I was making dinner. She, still being a clumsy walker, fell right into an outer-facing corner, hitting her temple directly on the baseboard. Jonathan ran to scoop her up, I was in the next room waiting for her loud cry/wail that would come... And didn't. Too many seconds of silence, and Jonathan was rushing her into the kitchen as I was rushing to them. He was cradling her head, and and she was limp and pale and passed out. We absolutely freaked! We yelled her name at her, and firmly patted her face (I think!)... What seems like forever, but maybe was 15-20 seconds (?), she finally took a startled breath and cried. Weakly. NOT what we were expecting. I held her as we rushed her into the car to take to the ER. But less than 3 minutes down the road (if that), she was pointing out birds out the car door, acting normal as ever. We (rationally) drove back home, and I called the after-hours pediatrician. The recommendation was for her to get a CAT scan of her head, since we weren't sure whether the fall caused her to be unconscious, or whether the pain triggered her to intake her breath so sharply that she could not breathe out, and thus she passed out. So we gathered our things and spent the next few hours getting her examined. Praise God, everything looked fine and she acted absolutely normal!!! We "forgot" the incident, or rather, dismissed it as a random occurrence...

Now, right at the 2 year mark, just 2 days after starting antibiotics for her ear infection this January, we were all 3 in the kitchen, and Elyana was playing with a drawer. Jonathan scolded her for something and she made a little cry, then in-took her breath for a real loud wail... that never came! Jonathan scooped her up, cradling her head and holding her semi-upright, and we were terrified. We yelled things like, "Call 911, where's your phone!" in the space of 15-25 seconds. We didn't know what was going on, but it seemed so random, it seemed like a real threat! As I ran to get the phone and Jonathan close behind me with her, she started to breathe and cry (loudly) this time. We were so relieved, and crying, and had that kicked-in-the-gut feeling. Like, "What was that?!" Jonathan especially, since he felt the initiator. Obviously, when a child is sick, they fall apart at the littlest thing, but we expected nothing like that. While we loved on her and watched her closely, I scoured the baby health books/internet for answers. And came to the sites/articles above. It really described to a "t" what we saw. But it never takes the fear away! She in no way acted odd after that at all - and we were careful to be very gentle and non-corrective the next few days/weeks.

But it bothered us so "little" - in terms of needing an explanation - that I never mentioned it at her 2 year well baby checkup.

Then, weeks later, sometime in February, Elyana was walking up the stairs, and she hit her chin against the carpeted stair . (For the record, she's walked up stairs proficiently since she was 21 months, and we have split-level stairs anyway.) I was at the top, Jonathan was walking with her, carrying something (a laptop?). It was bedtime, so she was obviously more tired/cranky. Jonathan said something to her about, "Oh, it's ok, come on baby." (He said it was a very easy bump, which she always takes in stride.) As he walked up, and I was at the top, it was silent enough and without a cry (again, maybe 3 seconds, but enough when you're expecting it!) that we both rushed to her... Jonathan of course, being closer, got there first. She was on the split-level, but passing out. Only God's grace, as she *could* have fallen. He scooped her up, cradled her head, and held her rigid body as her lips were blue. This time, I felt only slightly calmer, trying to remember the techniques (breathing in her face, calling her name) to try to bring her about. I think it was maybe 10 seconds, not a lot, but enough to cause a parent to absolutely panic inwardly still. We loved on her and made sure she was ok, played with her extra long and delayed bed.

And that's it. Since then, I've pieced the first piece of the puzzle together, meaning that first fall at 14 months. I think it's a proclivity for her. I do want to get her checked for iron-deficient anemia, since I struggled with that at least during pregnancy. But we have been extra, extra careful to watch that all emotional situations for her (pain, anger) are treated very pro-actively. When she gets hurt, I especially make sure she feels comforted as fast as possible. It seems the quicker I can head off her getting that upset, the better. I've seen her lips turn blue as she cried and I just work my best on comfort. Same thing when I have to correct her for something, I make sure I'm loving on her, touching or holding her, as I have to tell her what's wrong with what she's done.

I guess I'm posting because I want this documented, but I also want any other mothers to see this if they need it. I also think it's good to be real, and although I think we live a very wonderful life, it's not without its challenges and fears......

I thank God everyday for our precious baby girl, and her life, and her health. I think this is so minor compared to so many things I could be writing about in regards to her. God has gifted us more than we deserve. My heart is filled to bursting with love for her so many times, and I am just grateful He's entrusted her to us.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Catch up!

Just two months since my last post. Time has flown. And dragged. And flown.

I am so grateful for the stage God has us in now. Grateful. One reason I did not blog (aside from morning sickness, exhaustion, and so much unpacking/settling to do) was things were really rough here. Specifically, with mothering Elyana. Remember how I posted Elyana's 20 month update and explained how it was like being in a "honeymoon" stage with her??? Well, as with all stages, that one seemed to end as soon as we moved here.

We moved here on Oct 28th, flew out on the 29th, and were gone for 2 weeks to NC, followed by a 4-day cross-country drive in our truck while we towed our Mustang. All the travel, being in so many different places an beds and room set-ups, obviously was hard on her. In one hotel where we had an expected 5-hours of sleep before absolutely having to get up the next morning, after midnight when Elyana couldn't sleep and was in bed with us since the peapod was hopeless that night, she was crying "home, home" because I think she just didn't even know what that was anymore!!! :( So, when we finally got here on the 16th of November, we were bone-weary yet with a full house to unpack. And the next morning of course, I discovered one reason I was especially weary - our little one!!! (Can't help but smile!) What followed was 21 days exactly of Elyana waking between 2-10 times every single night, and not napping some days (she has always been so predictable and easily sleep-trained). Sometimes, it would start within 5 minutes of being laid down for the night, and she would call me every few minutes. Other times, she'd sleep peacefully for hours, and it would start in the wee morning hours. She would ask for very specific "stalling" type things like more water (of course that's fine!), crackers, me to sing to her, rock her, sleep in our bed, etc. I really did not feel there should be one firm answer (like always give water, but never sing to her any more than our usual pre-bedtime). I just really thought I should be understanding, gentle, but firmly continue to impress upon her "Ok, but it's night-night time right now. No more calling Momma just to ask me to sing." Of course, some nights I sang over and over. Some nights I told her "no more asking Momma to sing, if you ask again, I won't do it until morning." And I'd stick to that. After a couple weeks of that not working, we tried Jonathan going in instead of me (fail!). I tried telling her if she called again (after a bunch of times) that I would not come back. Different things worked different times. I prayed SO much those weeks. I prayed and prayed for wisdom, patience, discernment, and for her to have peace mostly!!! I just felt it was mostly an unsettledness in her spirit, and perhaps a bit of her learning how to start "bedtime excuses". But I felt she was really too young for that.

Anyway, I have heard over and over that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I honestly will say on night 22 here in this house, she slept through the night, without ever calling me, for the first time. And it continued for days. Now, we're more of 1-3 wake-ups per week, which is fairly normal for us. All I have to do is cover her, give her water, or just love on her. Half the time I think she's not really awake! I just want to say, children need and crave schedules and consistency so very much! I know the Lord has equipped me to be her mother specifically, and gives me wisdom when I ask (James 1:5,6).

Throughout all that, I was in the very hard stages of pregnancy sickness and exhaustion. I'm sure I was anemic, at once point I had to crawl up the stairs because I literally felt walking required too much exertion. :( (Thankfully, that was a day Jonathan had off and had taken Elyana out for a few hours so I could sleep.) But add my exhaustion to her lack of sleep, and there were nights I was just thinking "How can I ever, ever manage two children?"

Then, add to it Elyana starting (in December?) a very difficult willful, fussy/whiny, clingy-to-momma, unable to play by herself, and demanding stage. I really think it only just now ended, with the start of February (so three weeks of bliss). I know it's not easy being her, but it's also confusing being a parent to an angel one day and a little tyrant the next. :) We love her so very much, but that doesn't mean we have unlimited patience with every stage. Anyway, God is gracious and all I can say is, Thank You Jesus for this current phase.

It's not perfect. Certainly it's not like the honeymoon 20-month stage. But it's good! She makes up the cutest stories, is so interactive, has her favorite pastimes and books, loves crafting time, is eager to learn, and just melts our hearts with her outright singing and cracking jokes to herself. Even her mischief cracks me up. (For example, she currently thinks the words poop, toot, and pee are very funny. But she knows she's not suppose to say them casually. So she's taken to singing songs like "Winnie the Pooh" and instead saying "Winnie the Foop" because it rhymes with poop and therefore makes her giggle. See?!?!)

Now, what I haven't announced on here, since most of you all are facebook friends, is that we found out Baby #2 is a BOY!!!!! We are so very excited. We did not care, but what a joy it's been planning/dreaming for a boy. And I finally am really bonding to this child in a special way now that I know the gender. There's something that makes each kick and hiccup personal when I think "that's my son" or "that's my little guy." We talk to Elyana about her "baby brother" and it's been wonderful feeling like I am getting months to prepare her in a mental and tangible way for his arrival. And how very excited I am to be halfway now, halfway to meeting him, our surprise, miracle, baby boy!

Ok, I apologize for the novel. Love you all very much!!!!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Where To Start?

Life, life, life... So busy it flies by month by month and I wonder how my days have turned into months. How have full seasons passed with my feeling entirely wrapped up in a daily busyness? It’s a good busyness, though. Throughout the summer and especially our time in New Mexico, I would rise and greet the day with burgeoning plans OUTDOORS. Oh the glories of the weather and the many things to do! I find myself sorry that it’s winter here in a new town (Las Vegas) and a new home, with nary a friend to call to meet for coffee or to let our children play. If the summer/fall was my daily wonder and the glorious enjoyment of all things delightful, then winter is my time of plodding. Ever since arriving in our home, 11 days ago, I am plodding. Plodding through boxes, through books to store with no bookshelves anymore, plodding through meals and laundry to keep up with amidst LIFE. Plodding through morning (all day!) sickness. Plodding through serious sleep issues with my girlie. Plodding through finding a church, feeling isolated, missing old friends, missing out having Elyana be outdoors 50% of the day, missing out on the familiar.  And sunshine. In Vegas, by 4:30 it’s dark outdoors. We’re right on the edge of the Pacific/Mountain time-zone, and we lose that extra hour of sunlight. Plus, it’s just overcast.

Now, I’m not complaining. I’m so grateful for a beautiful home, a loving husband, a precious daughter, and so many things in my past that have filled my life with joy. I know those await here. In time. This is my season of waiting, plodding, getting things done. It doesn’t help that I can’t find my REAL Bible yet. With our limited room, I packed a small Bible of mine to New Mexico, and I miss my sturdy regular one. I don’t know where it is yet.

The biggest surprise (and challenge, honestly) was finding out, our first morning here (Wednesday, November 17) that I was Pregnant!!!! Pregnant, unbeknownst to me! Pregnant naturally! I was dumbfounded. For days I’d pass by the positive pregnancy test thinking, “Is this real?” Elyana took 33 months, 3 failed IUIs, 2 IVFs. This, without even knowing the date of my last cycle?!? This, when I was 7 weeks along at that? I had stopped praying to get pregnant (after Elyana was born). I acknowledged it could happen, when asked, but I never considered it for real. We had peace thinking we would build our family with IVF, if the Lord allowed more successes. We had called WH and signed up for April 2011 to try IVF again. And here I was, pregnant.

I am really at a place of being in awe of God’s workings. And of not understanding. I just know He deserves much praise for what He has done! His miraculous healing to my infertility – now to the very inability to conceive on my own – what a work! I stand amazed at My Healer. I stand so humbled, when He has already given me the ONE child I asked for, that He has graciously entrusted another into our care. What can I do but bow in reverence and thanksgiving?!

I have battled some very serious exhaustion and morning (all day) sickness, hence why it’s been such a challenge on top of being required to do so much more than I normally would have to (moving in!). But there is grace. And Jonathan has been more than patient with my inability to move some evenings, or smell food (let alone cook it). Praise God for him!

So, I am alive, I am here, and I am checking in because I miss you all!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Elyana - 20 Months!

Our little girl isn't so little anymore! She has such a personality! She is so cute, so funny, so personable! Really, I always have held fast that the newborn stage has been my very "favorite" (if pressed to name one), but this one is awfully close (my sister Karen warned me that between 18-24 months, as a personality would develop, it would be a heart-stealing time!).

Elyana is such a talker! I just stopped counting when she reached over 100 regularly usable words in her vocabulary. She had 40 at 17 months, 60 at 18 months, and surpassed 100 lately. She has such good pronunciation as well. She can't say her r's very well, but we find that adorable. Other words she pronounces with such precision are: honey, waffle, bed, mess, cheese, eat, tunnel, bath, potty, belly, to name a few. She also identifies some items by their sound instead of their name: "Meow" for cat, "Neigh-Neigh" for Horse.

A few months back, when she would be upset about something (like us telling her it was time to stop playing, or she couldn't have more sweets, or she had to share), we would tell her "Show Momma/Daddy Happy Face" and she'd say "Happy" (even with a sad/pitiful voice at times - oh she was trying!). She'd often say it through her tears/fussiness. But she always said it! It was so nice to know she was trying to please us and obey! Soon after she got that (18 mos), we started to tell her in addition to that, "Now show me your Cheerful Heart." And she'd pat her heart and say, "Hawt." Melt us to pieces!

I remember my sister Karen calling me when Elyana was 17/18 months, and I told her I felt like it was hard to enjoy this age, because I had to be constantly on top of things and watching and correcting her. She had hit people occasionally, she fussed a lot when her will was crossed, she would say "Mommy!" and demand I do everything for her instead of anyone else do it (basically, learning to boss me around to dress her, swing her, walk with her, etc). We always wanted to be watchful for attitudes and let her know she is not the "boss" of us, but at the same time we know we have to understand children do think they're the center of the universe (and their needs definitely come first), but it's a long road teaching them otherwise, and it must be done in accordance with their understanding.

Now, though? It feels like it's so easy! Yes, there are hard times, when she seems to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and nothing will please her (she asks for her sandwich to be cut, then fusses that it's cut, she wants help with her drink, then fusses because of how I helped.... that kind of thing!). But those are by far the exception! Mostly, she is so obedient and we've been in this honeymoon stage since leaving Georgia. We use the word "Obey" and she will do what we ask (it's a little like magic, she knows that word/command is not to be disregarded). Sharing, she understands and obeys with the happiest attitude. We do work on immediate obedience, but even with that she's been mostly good.

Leaving Georgia, when she played with her friends, I had to be very on top of telling her "Share" and signing it for her, and usually it was more of an act I had to help her with and tell her to be happy about. Now? She sees someone try to use something she likes (a slide, a toy, a book) and she'll look at me, and sign and say "Shaaaaaaa-uh" (remember, no r's!). She doesn't grab her toys away, or look upset or mad that someone is taking her toy. She will still sign and say words that there are more emphasis on, which I find adorable! When we left Georgia, I would just mention her friends' names, and she'd say "Noooooo" and then tell me "Share" and add in another "Nooo." She was telling me she didn't like sharing with them! I am so pleased with her growth in this area.

Elyana can really carry a tune. She gets on kicks and wants us to sing these songs over and over and over... And now, these past few weeks, she is singing recognizable tunes. Her words aren't as easily recognizable, but you can pick them out. She can sing the tunes to "Twinkle Twinkle", "Mary had a little Lamb", "BaBa Black Sheep", "Grandpa's Farm", "Jesus Loves Me", and "Skip to My Lou" to name a few.

When we got here, she would fuss some when I went to workout for an hour a day and left her with Jonathan. Now? She'll say goodbye, and happily play with him. Sweet success! She understands that I go away, and return.

Jonathan's taught her to hold her hand over her heart when the national anthem plays at 4:30 on base, and she loves it! She loves listening to and watching the airplanes fly overhead. She loves watching the tractors work. She loves chase, picnics, the park, chalk, coloring (finally!), BOOKS (always has, we took at least 20 books in our little Civic for the trip out here, and spent an hour at the library each week getting 5-10 new books!!!), swinging, sliding, sand... She tells me she wants to go Shop, or she says "Coffee" (I take her to the base coffee shop). :) She loves playing on the inside play equipment at the base's Kidsport. She will walk and look at me and say "Hi Buddy!" (I tell her she's my little buddy.) She likes almost anything I like. :) She will also ask to watch tv with Jonathan and ask for "Chase Ball" (football) and "Hunting Deeew (deer)."

The church we chose here has an hour and 15 minute service, and Elyana will sit quietly through the whole thing (no childcare there anyway). She colors, reads, sings some, and says "amen" a lot. She also will say "Bib-uh" for Bible when we have morning devotions as a family. She reminds us often to pray before our meal by folding her hands and saying "Pway"?

We have always made sure she didn't just get a paci "whenever." But it was very subjective. As a child gets older, it's not fair to them to do things based on the parents' whim. So we trained her that when she asks for paci, we ask, "When do you get paci?" and she'll say "Ni-Night.... Ca-Ride" (bed and car rides). It's a rule she understands and there's just no arguing with it. Sometimes she'll fuss unhappily, but 99% of the time, she will tell us the rule, and stop asking. She is capable of so much understanding, we constantly find we have to really not underestimate her!

We have loved her growing personality, vocabulary, character. She has definitely developed quite a memory, and constantly surprises us with recalling things from months ago (like where she heard a song, or something). It's as if she couldn't tell us before, but her mind was working, storing these things away, and now she can recall with amazing correctness.

This is long, but there is so much to document! We lovelovelove our little Sweet Georgia Peach!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Unasked Question

I know that as Elyana is growing older, more people will begin to wonder or ask outright a question about her sibling status.

If I'm feeling humorous, I'll wryly grin and say, "Well, she's got two siblings already, frozen in San Antonio." But depending on the recipient of the answer, that can come off as callous, which it's not at all intended.

Basically, though, many of my friends try to keep their children's age at a 2 and 3 year span apart. It's natural to wonder when and if we might want another.

The short answer? Of course we want more children!!!

The long answer is, how to get there. Honestly, in our minds, we have to plan as if each pregnancy must be proceeded with plans for IVF. We will do everything in our power to conceive naturally, but it's not expected to work in our minds. Therefore, there's not much disappointment to handle if it doesn't occur naturally. We make plans for when we should travel back to San Antonio, we set aside money for the cost. We consider how the whole IVF process will affect Elyana, knowing we need her to be old enough to handle my being away for all those appointments.

Having Elyana has taken away the pain of infertility. So even though we want more, it is not the same magnitude of an issues in my heart about whether that will occur of not. We've prayed about adoption and talked about our desire to adopt, so we know we could pursue a larger family if IVF were to not work again. Although we dearly desire it to work.

Our general plans are to try IVF next year. Honestly, I look at Elyana, I enjoy my days with her so much, and I don't find myself longing for another. I love each stage with her. I love spending time every day teaching and training and playing with her. So while I want it, I'm not aching for it. A sibling will change my relationship with her, and will cause her to grow up in many ways. I don't want to intentionally pursue dividing my attention with another child before I feel ready. Many families don't have this option to even consider. But since conceiving is so hard for us, we really can be thoughtful and mindful about it. So I will be grateful for the pause I have to consider.

I guess that's it. Nothing concrete, but I did want to catch you all up on where my/our thoughts are on the issue. Looking at newborn pictures turns my heart, but greeting my little cheerful girl who stands up in her crib and asks to snuggle on our bed does as well!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

!Break! - Elyana Ruth's LONG Birth Story

I know this is about 19 months overdue in its long form, but my dear friend Lisi posted an awesome article on why (unmedicated) women don't need to wait until they're dilated to a 10 until they push. I commented on it over on Facebook, and I realized my birth story in its full form was never published. For what it's worth, if you have 10 minutes and a lovely cup of hot tea or coffee, curl up and enjoy the listen. It's riveting, to me, and I adore telling the story. :) I don't know why I did not publish it on here before when I had it typed up already! 


Elyana Ruth Birth Story

Sunday, January 18th I was woken up at 5:30am out of a slumber to some intense pains. I realized these as contractions. After having the day of contractions on Friday the 9th, I wasn’t ready to say “This is it.” But I did feel that maybe it would turn into the events leading up to her birth.

I got in the bath to try to alleviate the pains, and I figured it could be my last good chance to get clean before the birth, if this was my labor beginning. I took my time, thinking maybe we’d even be able to go to church. They were over 5 minutes apart, lasting about 30 seconds long. Long enough to keep me from trying to sleep anymore! I painted my toenails and fingernails too – figuring it’d be nice to have them pretty!

Jonathan got up at 7 when the alarm rang. I told him what was up, and he was excited, but cautious as I was. We went to have breakfast together after his shower, and chill on the couches while I went through contractions (this was, by choice, the last I ate until after Elyana was born). About 8:15 I told him I didn’t think I should go to church, as the contractions were intense enough I figured I’d make a scene sitting there. So we decided to have our own quiet time together. Jonathan read from the first 8 verses of the Sermon on the Mount, and we talked about them. He prayed, then I did, but I didn’t make it very far before a contraction hit and I had to stop.

We wanted to run to Sam’s Club in Macon to buy the flooring for the sunroom. I figured it was a good idea, because it would burn a few hours. We left around 10 or 11 and went there. I was quite the site: I had to squat down in the aisles or outside and breathe through my contractions! Jonathan asked if I wanted to go anywhere else, and I figured Starbucks was a good choice, because I could get an Izze juice and again, kill some time. We played checkers together in there and sat on comfy chairs, and it was a really nice time together. (I won!) But that’s all I could take. We got home near noon, thinking we had an hour until the Eagles vs Cardinals game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on until 3, and I don’t remember much of what happened until then. I took a bath and the contractions were definitely strong and intense, but nothing was convincing enough to go to the hospital. I learned from Jonathan that the Sunday “girls night out” at Life Group was suppose to be a surprise baby shower for me! I called Kristy and talked some, she was very understanding and encouraging.

I watched the game some, with the electric blanket on me that helped some. I tried standing, squatting, laying down for contractions, but never really found one perfect way to handle them. Jonathan would see me have one, and coach me with relaxing and breathing. I tended to want to hold my breath through them, so I needed the reminder. I never really felt that the relaxing the Bradley book talks about so much could be done, especially since lying through contractions hurt a lot. But I do know that not tensing up was good. I did a little visualization, but did not need that as much. I was in and out of the bath all afternoon. The warm water did help.

We took a walk out back around 5 for maybe 30-45 minutes. It was pretty uncomfortable, walking so much over uneven terrain, but again a good change of scenery. No one tells you that labor can be so boring. Especially at the beginning, the contractions are so far apart, that all you have to do between them is wait!

After that, back inside there was more waiting and contracting. I did a little laundry, we tidied up the house some, and we debated on whether it was time to go in. This was so hard! I wanted to go in, to hear how dilated I was and how the baby was doing. But I knew it was a commitment to drive 30 minutes and maybe not be ready. A few times I told Jonathan I think I was ready, and he wasn’t sure, thought we should wait. I knew he was probably right, but I was frustrated just staying at home. I guess I was thinking if we went to the hospital and acted like this was serious, it would be (silly, I know). By 8:15ish we did decide to go in. We loaded the car up and headed out. We’d been timing them for ½ an hour, and they were coming around every 3 minutes lasting 65-75 seconds long. But just as we left the house, I had 5 minutes go between contractions! It was maddening! Jonathan said it wasn’t time, and suggested we head to Sonic instead. I agreed, and was discouraged, but glad for a change of pace. We pulled in, and while sitting there, I had 3 contractions all less than 2 minutes apart, lasting about 65 seconds long. It was time to go I guess!

We headed to Macon; I don’t remember the drive much at all. Sitting like that was so uncomfortable! Jonathan almost missed our exit. I rested/closed my eyes often between contractions. I do remember checking into OB assessment and being in a lot of pain while waiting for a room and trying to fill out paperwork! I recall scribbling my name, almost just putting an “x” down for brevity! I had been leaking a little, what I hoped was my water. They checked me for that, but it wasn’t amniotic fluid. They put me on a monitor for a while (20 minutes? 30?) and saw the contractions, and checked me for dilation (they said I was a 5, but could stretch to a 6), and agreed I should be checked in. We got a L&D room about 20 minutes after that.

The room was big enough and seemed just fine. A doctor was on call who I didn’t know. They said they’d try calling Jeri (my midwife), but I didn’t expect her to answer (she didn’t), knowing she’d taken all MLK weekend off. I showed the nurse my birth plan, and she said it looked like they could accommodate it. I got on my grey Victoria’s Secret sleep-shirt to labor in, and was glad it was so comfy, but I was cold in there! The whole night was very long. My contractions were too close together and painful to sleep through, though Jonathan was very attentive. We got the hang of contracting and I did not need much coaching during the night. Jonathan had Dirty Jobs, Beverley Hillbillies, South Park and various other programs on. While I wasn’t interested in them, the alternative (silence and him being totally bored) wasn’t attractive either. (I would plan better next time!) I tried to nap (sitting upright) for the 60-90 seconds between contractions, and he tried to get cat-naps on the couch. It was hard feeling so behind on sleep from the early morning. I would go on the fetal monitors 20 minutes on, one hour off. Baby Girl was fine. They put a hep-loc on my right hand in case I needed it for IV, and that was definitely a discomfort I wish I hadn’t had. They agreed I could stay hydrated myself, instead of an IV, which was wonderful! (Not sure I could have effectively labored with an IV!!!) I sipped water all night. The monitoring got more and more of an extreme discomfort, because I had to stay lying/sitting in bed at somewhat of an angle (about 45 degrees). The contractions were best handled squatting, sitting upright on my legs, or standing, but not laying down!

I also will say, that since Jonathan woke up that morning, in my opinion, Jonathan and I were now working together as a wholly unified team. My contractions were more intense, I was weary, and I was saying things to him like, “Maybe I do just need to get some oral/systemic pain relief, I’m so tired, and this is taking so long.” I even asked him if maybe we should just go home, since this wasn’t going anywhere (I had been checked sometime in the night and had only dilated a centimeter.) Jonathan would remind me why I wanted an unmedicated birth (for the baby’s sake and mine), and he would remind me I was speaking out of weariness and would not want him to give in. I remember him saying, “We’re not going to discuss this while you’re contracting.” So wise. He encouraged me that I was doing well, and the baby was good, and she was getting here. He was strong when I was not!

Early that morning, a new nurse came on call, who I just loved. Audrey had attended unmedicated births before, and was very happy to be with me. She was a cheerful face. The night nurse was fine, but all she did was monitor me for 20 minutes, and leave, so I didn’t mind seeing her go. Audrey would ask what I needed (I’d tell her nothing) and suggest things like, “Would you like a rag for your face? Would you like more ice in your water?” It helped so much not to have to direct anyone or think of anything! They would check on me what seemed like every half hour, and then monitor baby and me for 20 minutes on, one hour off. They really respected the privacy and little serene “place” Jonathan and I had. They would quietly ask how I was, and then leave when we told them we were fine. Jonathan was by my side most every contraction; I was physically leaning on him at times. He was working with me. When anyone would come in the room, I would immediately feel self-conscious about really “feeling” my contractions and working with them. I felt like they were cut-short of “working” several times when someone would enter the room, or be present, during a contraction. I truly felt like I could only “be myself” and really work through them with only Jonathan present. He is, after all, My Self, My Half, My Soul-Mate. I felt like we had an oasis of Togetherness - just Us – that was almost seen or understood by the nurses. I felt she would peek her head in, ask if I was ok, and quietly retreat, leaving us in charge. I really appreciate this.

Another doctor (Dr. Durso, from my practice) came on call around 7 or 8am and came by to see me. He checked and said I was dilated 7cm maybe 8. So since checking in until now (about 11 hours), knowing I had only dilated 2 cm was a bit discouraging. The doctor was positive about my progress, said he was going to go do a c-section, and he’d check on me after it. I think it was at this point I turned to Jonathan and said, “I’m a Putterer, just like the Bradley book says (Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way). That’s me.” (Little did I know my local good friend and natural childbirth advocate Kristy was saying the same thing to her husband as she got texts of my progress.)

I labored, he came by again, he did another c-section, came by in another hour. Said I was an 8, maybe 9. Thought I’d be ready after his next c-section. Around 12 I felt the urge to push. I didn’t know if I was fully dilated yet, so I knew I shouldn’t push. But it is a very hard urge to not give in to! I told Jonathan, and when the nurses came by, told them. They said to try not to push until the doctor checked if I was ready. He came by maybe 12:30 and said I was ready to push (so dilated to a 10 I guess, I never heard those words and I still wonder about it!). At this point, my water hadn’t broken, and all morning he’d been asking if I wanted it broken. I was tired, and asked if it would speed things up. He said it could, and I was pretty tired from 31 hours of contractions, so I was all up for it. He broke my water, and honestly it was like a relief! It was as if a pressure was taken off. He then told me he’d go do a c-section, and check back. At this point, they wanted me monitored continually. That seemed ok for the pushing, since I’d been pushing in a squatting position sitting on the bed anyway, and I wanted to know the baby was ok. I pushed for about an hour. Jonathan told me I was fighting the pushing. I know I was. It was really painful, and a hard muscle-sensation to master. I also had read many women like to vocalize during pushing, so Jonathan tried to coach me to do a low growl/moan, but that just felt put-on and did not feel like it helped. I also was having maybe 30 second pushing contractions, and around 15 seconds in, I’d just stop pushing and writhe around. In other words, I wasn’t letting them work much. The baby’s station had been a -1 when I started pushing. In the meantime the nurses had been coaching me a little, but they hadn’t stated that’s what they were doing, so I was just oblivious to them during pushing. They did think I was close, so they set up the whole “sterile” area/table with all the birthing instruments, gowns, etc, for them and the doctor.

Around 1:30 or 2:00 the doctor showed up with his game face on! Let me just say, he was all dressed up with no place to go! They had me at a 45 degree laying angle (not great for pushing). He watched me push for a bit, and then told me that he could try using the vacuum to get the baby out while I pushed, since it was taking so long and I seemed to be struggling (his view, implied). I was tired and wanted help at this point, so I agreed. I was definitely NOT ready, because when he just tried to get the vacuum in, while I was contracting, and nearly backed up off the bed, it hurt so much. I think I said something like, “I can’t. Stop!” He was ticked off.  He then (irritated) told me that some babies are too big to come out, and this could be the case. (Even though, ironically, just 3 days before, the doctors were trying to use the fact that the ultrasound showed her small and I was measuring 4 weeks behind to tell me I should induce soon! *rolls eyes*) I told him, “I just think I need more time.” He challenged, “How much?” I did not answer, because I did not want the clock to be used against me, and I just did not know what my body would need! He said, “You can’t just hope this baby out!” He said I was fighting the pain and now the baby was in a 0 station (so she’d regressed). He said that to take the pain away, they could give me something, but that then it could numb me so much I might need pitocin to ramp up the contractions. Then, if that made things get out of control, I might just need a c-section. Jonathan and I looked at each other, dumbfounded. Why were we talking about such drastic measures? I felt a bit cornered, but I knew anything he said wasn’t what I wanted. I felt he was frustrated with me, even though I was just handing things they way I could, NOT his way! Jonathan asked him, “Is the baby in trouble or distress?” He said, “Oh no, she’s doing great. The contractions aren’t bothering her one bit.” Jonathan said, “Well, I’m a pilot, and when you’re flying you don’t talk about implementing emergency procedures when there’s no emergency.” (something like that) He said, “We’re just going to keep on what we’ve been doing.” The doctor then turned heel and strided out, spitting over his shoulder to the nurses, “(Dr) Barnes is on call,”

We were glad to be rid of him!!! I then realized that I really did need to get serious about this pushing, and pleaded if the nurses could help me. Audrey (and a nurse with her who was learning) told me she could. She said she would count to 10 three times (convenient since my contractions were 30 seconds long), and that I should breathe in the first few seconds and then just push as intensely as I could until 10, then repeat, then repeat again until the contraction was over, and to just tell her when one was coming, and when it was over (so they wouldn’t keep counting if I was done). This was probably 2:45 (I have no idea really, perhaps 3:00). I was pushing in a squatting position on the bed. It worked very well, although I definitely felt like I’d push, and then as soon as the push was over, the baby would “slip back”. I knew I’d read that in the Bradley book, it was sometimes 1 step forward, 2 steps back. It just felt like if I could have a contraction, and really hold it, I would get her out. But I could feel that if I pushed beyond when a contraction had ended, it did nothing! I felt that. I knew I’d just need them close enough together, or the baby far enough down that I could not disengage the pushing, that the birth canal and her would take over and cause me to just push her out.

At some point (maybe 4:00) they called Dr. Barnes at the office and told him to head over, because I was giving birth. I heard him ask who was delivering, and not know who I was (haha). (I was Jeri’s patient, but the office did require you see the two OBs at least once during your prenatals. I’d seen him at least 4 times.) I guess, because of the earlier event, I did not think calling a doctor over was really a sure sign I was ready to deliver. He came over quickly, and recognized me. I was in maybe a 75 degree angle on the bed, it seemed ok. He chatted a little, and I pushed. I don’t remember what he said, but he did offer to use the vacuum, saying it could help. I really had begun to feel like I couldn’t just push her head out, and I was exhausted, so I agreed to this help. Fortunately, I was much readier than before, and he waited until her head was close to crowning (or crowning, I don’t know!), and put it on. I never felt it go on (again, so much different than earlier). I remember Audrey telling him I did not want an episiotomy, and I agreed out loud. I think they told me to try on the next contraction, so when it started, I just pushed with everything I me, I held the push and started to feel a baby (it felt huge) coming out of my body! It required a lot of sustaining that push, and at this point, the adrenaline took over and just feeling my baby come out and knowing This Was It. It all happened so fast. I remember Jonathan telling me, “I see her!” And then there she was. Our Elyana Ruth. 4:17pm. They handed her to me, just like I asked, and I held her while the cord was pulsing. I then was still contracting a bit, and handed her off to Jonathan, as I felt distracted. They cut the cord in a few minutes (after it stopped pulsing, just like I asked), and then the doctor gently tugged on the cord to get the placenta out. I had in my birth plan I didn’t want this, but at the time, I really just wanted it out. It felt like it was just in there, and I wanted to feel empty/relieved of it. It came out a few minutes later, and as I looked at it, I said, “Wow, gross!” The doctor laughed. I guess I just never realized how bloody it would be. I felt so happy and jovial; I was just talking away with him while Jonathan held the baby and they weighed her (7lb 13 oz) and did the APGAR. The doctor did tell me I had a 2nd degree tear, and I said I was ok with that. He sewed me up, and I didn’t care about the tiny pain one bit!

Then, oh joy of joys, a few minutes after birth, Jonathan brought me little Elyana Ruth again! She was swaddled in a blanket, with a little hat on her head. She had big, beautiful eyes, was contentedly looking around, and she was mine! I was instantly in love. I brought her to me to breastfeed, and she latched on almost immediately. I just lay there, her in my arms, overwhelmed at the joy and love and preciousness of this life! I couldn’t believe it, her was my sweet baby, being comforted at my skin, being nourished by me. I was overwhelmed. She was maybe 10 minutes old, and the nurses told me they would want to take her to the nursery for the Vitamin K shot and a little observation under the heat lamps, around an hour old. So I nursed her for 20 minutes on each side, and just held that precious bundle. They came back in, and told me it had been an hour (it went so quick!). I asked couldn’t I it wait a little longer, but they said it was preferred now. I knew I just didn’t want her to leave me, but Jonathan took her and stayed with her the whole time, which was not long (15 minutes?). When I got her back, I held her for hours, and just wondered in amazement over our child. I was on a high the entire night, so exhilarated, not going to bed until 11pm (so 42 hours awake), with her right next to me, utterly taken with our baby. I was so in love! I held on to that day, basking in all we had worked for and been given. Our Elyana Ruth.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Life in New Mexico On Base

Life here is so busy, so full, and really overall wonderful!

Our move was challenging, but really good! We'll know on the other side whether our stuff suffered too much, of course, but Part 1 went excellently. 3 (women) packers came at 11am on Thursday (I think they said they'd come at 9). We always get a man for the garage, so I was unhappy about that. Now, the thing is, you're committed to being around as long as they are. So with so few people, and such a late start, I knew it would be a long day. Just not so long as it turned out, which was after 11pm. As it turned out, Elyana got to sleep in her own crib, since the packers didn't disassemble it. The movers called Friday to tell us they weren't going to come until 2pm. As it turned out, it wasn't until after 7pm! There were 5 guys, working hard, but the house couldn't stay cool, so I couldn't put Elyana to bed until they were done (after 11pm). She and I went and visited three neighborhood friends, and she got just silly and wild with being overtired. It was so funny! She did finally sleep in her peapod. Over the next 4 days, we worked on getting the house cleaned, fixed up, and completely ready to rent. As it was, we got a renter that wanted to move in two days after we moved out! Utterly amazing and more than we could have asked for, or deserved. We took photos of the house Wednesday morning after getting it completely vacated, and after 3 1/2 years, it really looked brand new still!

Our Road Trip Out West consisted of 5 days of driving.

Day 1 - GA to New Orleans, LA - 8 1/2 hours without stops. Utterly perfect. Elyana slept like a champ, played wonderfully as well. We split the driving a little, gained an hour as well. Arrived before dinner into a fabulous hotel! Went out for amazing seafood at Red Fish Grill (Rum Flamed Shrimp!), then walked around NOLA, down to a park on the water. Jonathan bought me a beautiful carnival mask and Elyana a teddy bear she's in love with.

Day 2 - Elyana woke up at 4:30am ready to go! She wanted to see the ceramic blue cows in the lobby. So she and I went down to play and get a Starbucks breakfast together until Jonathan woke. I got my coffee, she got milk and an apple bran muffin. She played so well! By the time he got up, and we got packed, we were on the road headed to Surrey Cafe for Bananas Foster French Toast and Nova Lox. Alas, we got there at 7:15 (as Elyana was ready to doze off), and they didn't open til 8. Jonathan wanted to get on the road, I knew E wouldn't last, so we headed instead to Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait. Really were good and a great start to the day. Elyana did perfect again, so happy.We arrived in San Antonio around 6 at our dear friend's the Ortiz's house. Had dinner, the kids played so well, and everyone got a great night's sleep.

Day 3 - Just fun! We played at the park, went swimming, played tons of games inside, and the children enjoyed one another so much (Elyana (19mos) and Eliza(4) especially got along). That night we also got to go to Alamo Cafe with our old LifeGroup leader/family where were treated and, again, had such a great time! The whole day could NOT have been more perfect. All the fellowship was so sweet!

Day 4 - Started the day with my friend R's homemade Huckleberry Scones - with fresh picked huckleberries all the way from Spokane! Left San Antonio around lunchtime, with a visit to Rudy's on the way out. Drove 5 hours to Pecos,TX. Elyana, again, just a dream-baby. Arrived, unpacked, and went swimming to cool off! We all had so much fun, and it was a great way to relax after the drive. Had some local Mexican, played in the room, and then bed.

Day 5 - Only 5 hours left to Holloman AFB, NM. Turned out to be good, because about 1-2 hours from the base, Elyana was done in the car. I'd not done a good job planning the morning, and we'd left right after breakfast. So all total, she did not get much "run-around" time. I'd usually give her 3 hours awake before heading out to drive, as well as plenty of exercise. I hadn't, so she would not sleep in the car, thus the boredom 3-4 hours into the drive. Still, she was good, the drive was good, and Jonathan and I were pages away from finishing the book we'd been reading aloud the last few days, David Livingstone: Man of Prayer and Action (riveting). We arrived, another hour gained, got set up, unpacked, and went to the store for food.

The TLF is just one bedroom/one bathroom, but it's enough room for us, since we rearranged some things.

Our days here have been so happy and full. I'll update in a few days with what they look like.

Elyana as well is just blossoming in every area. She has mastered over 100 words, with new ones daily! Her pronunciation is very good. She is very compliant and obedient (parents often remark how much of a good listener she is). She has clear ideas of what she likes to do and eat, read or sleep with. She will respond when we ask her to give a cheerful face and happy heart. So much that she does just steals our heart. She is more precious every day, and really amazes us with her intelligence. We are a very happy little family right now!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cloth Diapers - Part 2

I am pretty concerned with all the chemicals that are in disposable diapers, but I do not want to make anyone feel bad for choosing that. I will just say, it might pay to spend an hour online researching what is put into disposable diapers. Then think about that being next to your child's skin for 24 hours a day, for 2-3 years. It's scary. I certainly put the effort into trying to feed my child as natural food as possible. I try to make what I can, and buy food with as few ingredients as possible. I make sure to but natural bug spray, sunscreen, lotion,  baby wash. Those are used far less. Just a thought. I'd be happy to share my findings as well, it's concerning to say the least what's in disposables and what it could be doing to your child's body.

As far as ecological sustainability and resourcefulness, it's definitely a winner. There are SO many areas I'd like to progress (like rainwater catching - especially living in Nevada!), so I am not here to say I'm where I want to be. But it's one thing I feel prudent choosing.

So, to wrap up the Cloth Diaper entries, I've got to make the argument for cuteness!!!!

Honestly, I love her diaper changes! I love looking at all my choices, and being able to match with her outfits, the cuteness is just so fun! Who would have throught diaper changes could be something to look forward to? I can put a cute little Winnie the Pooh dress on her, and choose to match the main yellow color, or draw out the accent dark or light greens, or blues. Ah choices! It's just fun. And I believe the Big Names in disposables must be taking notice at all the cloth options out there, because look what's just come out... Designer Diapers by Pampers!!! And how pricey... :) I want to laugh when looking at $15 for 26 size 3 diapers!

I do admit that when I had fewer diapers (less than 18), I was a bit dragged down by doing laundry so frequently (every day or ever other day). But now, I rarely think of it as "more" laundry. The most "inconvenient" is when visiting others' houses, just  because I don't like having to figure out how to commandeer someone else's washer enough to wash diapers through two cycles. But that's it.

I feel like there is a bit of a steep learning curve when you have never seen a cloth diapers, and you google "cloth diaper" and wander into kellyscloset.com or diapers.com. But I don't think I can do a better job of laying out all the types of cloth diapering out there. So just go here and you can see the table, and click further into examples of each one.

I will say, I think Pocket Diapers are the easiest. These Diapers come in "One Size" (with snaps to change the size to S, M, or L) or in XS,S,M,L. There it an outer "shell" made of a waterproof material (called PUL). Then a microfiber/fleece/hemp "insert" is tucked into the pocket on the inside of the diaper (you can double for extra dryness like bedtime). These diapers are either closed with Velcro or Snaps. 

I own 15 Velcro (sometimes called Aplix) and 5 Snap. I would honestly recommend each person keep a diaper stash of half of each. Then based on your child's age and your preference, you can use what's best. Here's my breakdown:

Pros to Velcro: It's faster on/off. This is so helpful for the newborn who is crying at every diaper change, or the wiggly infant at that new crawling stage! Also, you can customize the fit perfect to your child
Cons to Velcro: It wears out faster, will need replacing between 18-24 months of use (depending on how picky you are).
Pros to Snaps: Won't wear out (not even sure when the snaps eventually "die"). 
Cons to Snaps: Take a longer time getting on/off (2-3 times as long). Fit may be too snug or loose, since you use pre-set spacing.

For example, Elyana can take off looser velcro now, so if I put her to bed in a gown, I will make sure she's in a snap diaper!

Want proof of the cuteness???? Here's a picture I snapped of what diapers I had for her the other day... Not all in her stash (I've got some duplicate colors), but these are all the colors she has! Dark Green, Light Green, Dark Blue, Light Blue, Yellow, Buttercup, Dark Pink, Light Pink, Purple, Brown, Red Daisy, Purple Daisy! I get happy just seeing the pretty colors. And 90% of these are over 18 months old! Can you see the wear?!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Want to Save $1400 per child in diapers???

I have finally, finally done the math on what kind of money you save with cloth diapering your child. It's astounding. I knew it was over $1000 per child, I just didn't get the numbers exactly. So I think it never hit me how huge the savings could be. (Next post will detail types of cloth diapers - too cute/pretty!)

I'm going to show you the exact math for what it cost me. These numbers will change a bit and depending on what cloth diapers you get, and how many you get. But in general, these statistics will be very close to how much you will save (I don't say can save, I say will!).

I did not know how much a family spends on diapers a month, because that will hugely depend on what brand they choose, how many their child goes through, and what kind of deals they get (Costco/Sam's Club, Coupons, etc). I just took a $75 average that I got from looking on a website that had families listing their costs as $60 to $100 a month.

So, let's break it down. Here's what I actually have spent by having my daughter in diapers for almost 18 months now. I wash every other day (although I initially bought only 12 diapers and washed every single day for 9+ months).

$291.63 - 18 Diapers (All One-Size Pocket Diapers like BumGenius, Fuzzi Bunz, Happy Heineys)
$37.05 - 2 Planetwise Wetbags (One is plenty, I just like to have two)
$15.39 - One Year's Worth of increase in Water Bill from Washing
$15.00 - One Year's Worth of Free & Clear Detergent (estimate)

So my initial cost setting up cloth diapering was $359.07. Each year I pay $30.39 in water bills and detergent costs to wash my diapers. I can't say how much my power bill increased, but I only dry the diaper liners, about 30-45 minutes, so that's not a lot there.

This makes my TOTAL COSTS as follows:
$359.07 - Year One Of Cloth Diapering Child #1
$ 30.39 - Year Two of Cloth Diapering Child #1

Add another baby? Your diapers will still be usable! Places like BumGenius even give you free replacement kits to replace the velcro and elastic on your diapers (I just did that with 2 I'd bought used and it was easy and awesome)!

So, TOTAL COSTS added to another baby?

$ 30.39 - Year One of Cloth Diapering Child #2
$ 30.39 - Year Two of Cloth Diapering Child #2

This is opposed to disposable diapering your child. My numbers using $75/month on diapers.

$ 900 - Year One Of Disposable Diapering Child #1
$ 900 - Year Two of Disposable Diapering Child #1

Add another baby? Buy everything again:

$ 900 - Year One of Disposable Diapering Child #2
$ 900 - Year Two of Disposable Diapering Child #2

Final cost to cloth diapering one child for two years? $389.46

Final cost to cloth diapering two children for two years? $480.63

Final cost to disposable diapering one child for two years? $1800

Final cost to disposable diapering two children for two years? $3600

for cloth diapering one child for two years? $1410.54
Savings for cloth diapering two children for two years each? $3119.37