Sunday, August 14, 2011

Post 132...Phoenix Rising

It was 6am at the hospital as my husband and I walked laps around the birthing center. Since I wasn't having any contractions, the nurse suggested I walk around in hopes to progress my dilation. At the moment, I was sitting at about 2cm and roughly 80% effaced. Round and around we went, impressing all the nurses on the floor with our speed. After walking nearly 4 miles a day up and down hills, a small walk around the birthing center presented little challenge. After about an hour of power walking the halls, the nurses switched shifts and the doctor was soon to arrive.
Before we had began our walk, I asked the nurse if it was at all possible to request Margie, the nurse we had when we lost Joey. She was a fantastic nurse who had helped us through an impossible time. But the nurse regrettably told me that Margie no longer worked as a floor nurse, but was now working as a teacher for new nurses. She was known to occasionally pick up a few shifts from time to time, but she almost never did so on Mondays. I tried to swallow my disappointment and focus more on the task at hand. But I had to admit, I was really hoping Margie could have been there.

Well, by some miracle, as we walked our last few laps around the halls, Margie came walking up to us with open arms! By an unusual turn of events, she was covering a floor shift that day and, per our request, had been assigned to us! I could have cried right then and there! The wonderful nurse that had helped to bring my first son into this world was now going to be a part of helping to bring Andy into the world! When our family had arrived, they all embraced Margie like a long lost relative. The room was filled with smiles, hugs, and laughter. I couldn't have planned a better environment to bring my son into.

Since my contractions still hadn't kicked in on their own, the doctor decided to start me up on pitocine. Within the hour, I went from having little to no contractions to having full blown, extremely painful contractions. After about a couple hours of increasing pain, I finally asked for an epidural. Around noon, I was given relief from the pain. As we watched the graph charting my contractions go up and down, I blissfully sat there chatting with family, completely unaware of my body contracting and working hard at gearing up for labor.

But as the hours past, my dilation began to slow down. After reaching roughly 4cm and only 90% effaced, everything came to a screeching halt. The doctor increased the pitocine even more, but, much to my dismay, I made no progress. After awhile, it became apparent that the long use of pitocine was starting to have a negative affect of the baby. With each pitocine induced contraction, Andy's heart rate would flutter. Soon I found myself facing a scary crossroad: keep going with pitocine in hopes for a vaginal delivery but risk stressing the baby, or back off of the pitocine so as not to stress the baby but face a higher chance of a cesarean. As much as I wanted to deliver vaginally, obviously the baby's safety came first.

The doctor backed off on the pitocine and we all watched as my contractions slowed down and my progress came to a complete stop. As the late evening hours rolled into the night, I could feel the ache of day's labor setting into my body even through the epidural. Finally, around 9pm, the doctor came to tell us to start preparing ourselves for a cesarean. We were terrified. My husband and I sat in the labor and delivery room crying and praying that my body would show some progress in the next hour so I wouldn't need the c-section, but there was no such luck. Around 10pm, I was signing consent forms for the cesarean as my husband held tight to my hand. I then watched as my husband got dressed in his blue paper jumper so he could come back to the OR with me. In what felt like a matter or minutes, I was in the operating room under large bright lights, numb from the chest down, staring nervously into my husband's eyes.

No words can describe how odd it was to simply lay there knowing that I was being filleted open by a team of doctors. Before the surgery began, I noticed that I could see the reflection of my stomach in the large lights that loomed over me. I nervously squeezed my husband's hand. "I can see myself in the lights." I told him. "I can see where they are preparing to cut."
My husband squeezed my hand tighter in response. "Then I want you to look into my eyes." he instructed. "Don't look away. Just look into my eyes. I don't want you to see them cutting into you. Your job is to keep your heart rate down so Andy can be safe, and watching them cut into won't help with that. So just look at me, Tiny. I'm here. I've got you. And I'm not going anywhere."
Even though his face was covered by a medical mask, I could see the smile in his eyes. I was amazed. There wasn't even a trace of fear. Once again, my husband faced an incomprehensible situation with such bravery. Moments before we left for the OR we were crying in fear and now, he sat next to me with smiling eyes and a steady hand. In that moment on the operating table, I thanked God that I have such a remarkable husband.

I never knew that a woman in labor, even during a cesarean, could shake so badly. It started off as a lip tremor as if I were feeling cold. But quickly that lip tremor turned into chattering teeth, and then full on body shaking (well...from the chest up since my whole lower half was completely numb). A nurse fetched me a warm blanket but it did little to stop my shaking. My husband asked the anesthesiologist if it was a side effect of the drugs. But the doctor informed us that the shaking was not only normal, but quite common for a woman in labor. The tremors are apparently caused from all of the adrenalin going through the body. And for a woman undergoing a cesarean, the effects can be amplified from the shock of the surgery itself. It was weird having such uncontrollable shaking that didn't subside until shortly after returning to the recovery room.

But as I lay there shaking on the operating table, looking deep into my husband's eyes, all the world stood still when I heard the first cry. "There he is!" I heard the doctor say. "Look how big he is! Oh and look at those cheeks!" I couldn't speak. My breath caught hard in my throat as my husband and I gazed at each other in excitement. Such a precious little cry echoed through the room as I cried in joy. "Go to him." I whispered to my husband. I could see he was eager to go see him. For several minutes I lay on the table crying, straining to hear him, craning my head as much as I could to see beyond the huddles of doctors and nurses that surrounded me. "Where is he? Where is he?" If I could have, I would have ran to Andy's side and scooped him up into my arms! But I was stuck laying on the table, numb and impatient.

And there he was....

My husband, beaming from ear to ear under his paper mask, came walking up, gently holding a small bundle. "This is your mommy." he said to the bundle, turning it towards me to reveal the pink, wrinkly, little face of our son. Tears streamed down the side of my face. "Hi Andy." I said in awe. He cooed and turned his face towards me. My voice! He recognized my voice! I was overjoyed! For what felt like a day that passed in a second, I lay there looking at our beautiful healthy little boy.

Quickly we were back in the recovery room as I watched the nurse clean Andy up and give him his shots. My husband stayed by his side, only to look up with tears in his eyes as Andy gripped onto his finger. I still was shaking horribly when the doctor asked if I would like to try and feed Andy. I told her I was afraid I was going to drop him since I was still shaking so badly, but my heart was aching to hold him. Gently she passed him to me and, for the first time ever, I was holding my baby boy, Andy. Without any trouble, he latched onto my breast and began to nurse. And much to my amazement, my shaking immediately stopped as soon as Andy began nursing.

In that beautiful moment, as I watched my son drink, I was washed over with a feeling of relief. Relief that I could supply milk for him. Relief that the surgery went so well. Relief that he made it into this world safe and healthy. This pregnancy has been such an incredible journey filled with many trials and tribulations. And in a way, I don't feel like this pregnancy began when we first found out I was pregnant with Andy. But rather; I feel like this pregnancy began about a year and a half ago when we were first pregnant with Joey. We learned so much from our experience with Joey; how to protect, how to appreciate, how to love, and how to let go. Joey showed us what we needed to do to ensure the safety of our next pregnancy. I can't help but to see the two pregnancies as one. Both Joey and Andy were so much alike as I carried them inside me. And the timing of the pregnancies were so close together. Plus we couldn't have had the second pregnancies without the first, so they will forever be connected. From the very first positive pregnancy test I ever had to the beautiful healthy boy nursing from my breast, my heart and soul have been forever enriched from this experience.

There was a time that I never imagined I would feel whole again. But as I hold my son in my arms, and my first born son in my heart, I can truly say: like the phoenix, new life has risen from the ashes.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Post 131...In the blink of an eye

Our last obgyn appointment, I was at 40 weeks. The doctor, surprised that I was still pregnant, decided to do another sweep of my cervix, scraping the membranes in hopes that it would help move things along. But since everything was otherwise at a stand still, the doctor scheduled for us to be induced on the 22nd.

Once again the results of the sweep slowly came up over the course of a few days. First there was spotting, then an increase in discharge that ramped up more each day. I won't go into detail about the discharge. All I will say was there was a lot and it was gross.

But in spite of the promising results that came from the sweep, it still didn't seem like enough. I had little to no contractions (except for when I was walking) and there were no signs of my water breaking. In my desperation to get things moving, I continued to walk miles each day, and doing just about everything I could think of to get the baby to drop into position.

On July 18th at 3am, I got up to use the bathroom. It was funny really. I almost wasn't sure what happened at first. I had just finished going pee, wiped, and as I was about to stand up, I felt a small gush of water come out. I sat there for a second, my heart racing, trying to figure out what just happened. Did my water just break or did I just have more in my bladder than I thought?...It didn't feel like I was peeing, but everything is so squished down there with my big belly, who can really say?....

I tried to walk around to see if I would continue to leak fluid. There was a little tiny bit of runny fluid but honestly, it wasn't like the big Hollywood splash-down. I began to think it may have all been in my head. So I tried to go back to sleep. But of course, I couldn't. When 4am came rolling around, I still felt like I had a little more watery fluid leaking out, though still nothing of great significance, so I decided to wake my husband up. Maybe I was going to be the crazy woman who went to the hospital over a small trickle of pee, but I wanted to be absolutely sure. So, as planned, we went down the checklist on the back of the front door, gathered up our things, and headed out for the hospital.

At 4:30am we were checked in and waited anxiously as the nurse ran a test on my urine to determine if it contained traces of amniotic fluid or not. As I went back to the bathroom to give them a sample, I noticed a second gush of fluid, much like the first, but this time there were small bits of blood and what looked like small shreds of tissue paper in my sample. I had read about this before. The small bits of tissue is actually parts of the fluid sack. At that point, I was positive my water had broken. And sure enough, about 20 minutes later, the nurse returned with a smile on her face. "Guess what day it is?" she said with glee. "It's your son's birthday!"

With that, we were checked in to the labor and delivery room, calling up our family and friends, anxiously waiting for Andy to arrive. It was hard to believe. One second I had been power walking around the neighborhood trying to get things moving and the next, I was sitting in the hospital room watching the sun rise over the city, trying to wrap my head around the idea that, come nightfall, we would be holding our little boy in our arms.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Post 130...7 Eleven

Darn! I was hoping Andy would be born today. How fun would it be to have a birthday of 7-11-11? Come on! 7 Eleven?! He would've always had free Slurpees on his birthday every year! Oh well. I know the day isn't done yet, but I don't really feel like labor is on its way. I have had more discharge (sorry, TMI) and occasionally I have had a contraction or two, but otherwise I haven't had any other signs of on-coming labor. I keep hoping and praying that he'll come soon. I spent the whole morning talking to Andy, trying to convince him to come out soon but I guess he's just a little too cozy in there.

Yet another day goes by and we're still all waiting anxiously for Andy to come...

Dear Andy,
We are all so excited to meet you! We trust that you know when it will be the best time to come out into this world but, until that day, we are all driving ourselves crazy with anticipation! You still have so much energy, kicking and wiggling around in my tummy. It makes me smile every time! I'm glad you have so much strength! I just know you're going to handle labor wonderfully. And when you're ready to come out, you're going to see all the wonderful things our family and friends have gotten for you. Your room is ready, your toys are waiting, and your dad and I can't stop thinking about holding you in our arms! At the latest, I will see you next week!

Love always, Mom

P.S. Auntie Katie got you an awesome onesie that will make it look like you're wearing a tie! It's pretty sweet! I'm thinking you'll have to wear it to your Uncle Andy's wedding or wedding rehearsal so you can look snazzy for all the visiting relatives.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Post 129...Five days away

In spite of the progress I had yesterday with losing my mucus plug, it seems like everything went back to a screeching halt. Again I have no cramping or contractions going on, and the baby shows no signs of dropping, leaving me feeling like I am no closer to labor than I was before. I took one step forward and two steps back. When my friend lost her plug this last Wednesday, her baby dropped right away and she started having increasing contractions in the days to follow. I suppose I expected the same of myself. But here I am, waiting for some other sign of progress while my friend is holding her newborn that she gave birth to last night.

I'm not sure what to do. A part of me wants to spend the day walking around in hopes to move things along. But I have a hard time believing that will actually work considering I was walking for miles every day last week and didn't so much as dilate or efface in the slightest bit. The only cramping it causes is the cramping in my legs. As much as I have been wanting to be woken up by strong contractions, I have been woken up by charlie horses in my calf muscles instead! The one thing that seemed to help me progress was when the doctor scraped the membranes in my last appointment. But considering that I don't have my next appointment until this coming Thursday, the day before our due date, I'm having a hard time believing that Andy will actually be here on time. Because unless the doctor does something else to help move things along, I don't really trust that my body will do it on its own. Hmmm...any guesses why I wouldn't trust my body?

So here I am, five days away from my due date and I am showing no signs of approaching labor. I am so ready to have my body back! I am done feeling so tight, fat, and achy! But each time I ask when I will be relieved of this discomfort and when I'll be able to see my son, I'm met with the illusive "soon" response that I hate so much. "Soon" is just another way of saying "I have no idea."

Everyone keeps throwing out guesses for when I will deliver Andy and so far I have disappointed many. My husband originally guessed that we would deliver on the 11th, which is tomorrow. I hate to brake it to him, but I don't think that's going to happen. He seems excited and anxious to meet Andy too, but each day I don't have any symptoms, each day we edge closer to delivering late, the more I see that excitement fade in his eyes. It seems like the more he realizes the likelihood of me needing to be induced, the more he reluctantly lets go of that dream of receiving an excited call from me saying that my water broke. I want so badly to give him that excited, classic experience. He has already had to put up with so many unfavorable circumstances by having a child with me (out of all the woman out there, he had to chose the one that would miscarry his first born son and then have another pregnancy full of fear and complications); I just wanted this one part to go right. I wanted him to feel the joy and nervousness of needing to rush to the hospital to have a healthy happy baby. But once again, I fear that my body is stopping our dreams from coming true and there is nothing I can do about it but watch the growing disappointment in the people around me. I know there is still time for me to go into labor on my own. But forgive me if I have little faith in things going right when it comes to my pregnancies.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Post 128...Mucus Plug

Last night, after a relaxing evening at our friends house where I got to enjoy alcohol free wine that they bought for me (yay for modern technology!), and a nice summer night walk around the neighborhood, I came home to some hard cramps. It wasn't anything too painful. I have had menstrual cramps that were way worse in the past. But they were the most painful I have had yet in the pregnancy. The achiness radiated from my back and into my front causing my whole stomach to feel as tight as a rock. So to help relax my muscles a little, I took a nice hot shower before bed. It helped a little, but luckily the cramping wasn't so bad that I couldn't fall asleep. I slept soundly through the night, only feel some mild cramping when I got up to use the bathroom.

This morning, the cramps were gone. Since it hasn't even been two days since my last Obgyn appointment, I shrugged it off. I wasn't any closer to labor two days ago, so I highly doubted that my cramping last night was any indication of approaching labor.

But then I took a shower....

As I was showering, I was thinking of the things I had read about with the process of scraping the membranes. Most woman who have had the procedure done will see results within 24-48 hours after. Other than my mild cramping and slight spotting I had the day of, I hadn't seen any indication of approaching labor. I laughed to myself. Of course things weren't moving along. When it comes to pregnancy, I am often the rare exception it seems. 48 hours. That would put me at noon today. Yeah right! Like I'm going to see any changes! Again I laughed. We are going to my husband's company picnic today and the thought of going into labor during it sounds like a joke. But as I finished washing up the shower, I went to rinse off down there and (here is where it gets really TMI) suddenly I felt an odd slimy discharge. Sure enough, my mucus plug had come out! One of the first obvious signs of approaching labor! It's a gross little thing since it's just a glob of concentrated mucus (its name does not fall short of its description) with just a little hint of blood in it. But as nasty as it is, I couldn't be more excited to see it come out! That just means I am on my way towards having little Andy! Of course, losing my mucus plug doesn't mean I'll go into labor today, although that is a possibility. It could still be a week or so out from here. But at any rate, it means that my body is at least getting ready for labor.

Who knew such a nasty little blob could bring so much excitement?

Post 127...Nothing

On Thursday I went to the Obgyn thoroughly expecting to hear that I was further along in my dilation. After walking my butt off all week and doing everything possible to move things along, I was shocked to hear that nothing had changed since the previous week. I was still sitting at 1cm dilated and about 50-75% effaced. I was crushed. Here I had come bounding into the office expecting to hear good news and instead I was basically being told that all my efforts were for nothing! For several hours afterwards I moped around, swearing that I would give up in my efforts to move things along.

That evening I finally let out a good cry, confessing that I was worried he would be late. The last thing I want is a c-section. But each step that doesn't come naturally just brings us that much closer to needing one. Plus, I couldn't shake the feeling that Andy wasn't coming because he didn't want to be here. "He doesn't want to come out." I moped. "I want him here so badly and yet already he's fighting against me! He's going to hate me and rebel against me his whole life!"

I know. I was being ridiculous. Can I blame it on hormones?

I suppose the reason why I took it like a personal insult is because everyone keeps wording it in a way that makes it sound like it's Andy's choice. "He doesn't want to come yet." "It's up to him when he's ready." "Why doesn't he come out already?" All of it makes it sound like Andy is choosing not to come out. So to hear that I wasn't even a step closer to delivering him, it made me think: "He just doesn't want to be here!" Of course this is ridiculous. At the moment, he's just a wiggly little adorable baby who is acting on instincts alone. He's not consciously choosing to stay in me just to spite me. And as my husband so wonderfully put it: if he is choosing it, it means he needs me to carry him just a little bit longer so he can be ready. As his mother, how can I say no to helping my son if he needs it? So after my emotional freak out, and yet another wonderful change in perspective thanks to my husband, I finally came to my senses and decided to just relax and let Andy and my body do what they need to do.

When I was at the doctors, however, she decide to attempt to help things along by scraping the membranes. For those of you who aren't familiar with this procedure: scraping the membranes is when a doctor will take their finger during a vaginal exam and carefully "scrape" and wiggle it around in order to stimulate the labor process. "Essentially it is an aggressive pelvic exam in which the doctor will feel around just inside a woman's cervix where the membranes ("bag of water") are attached to its rim. By running an examining finger around the inside of your cervix, she can separate the amniotic sac from where it's stuck there. Theoretically, this will allow the bridging molecules that stick the membranes to the inside rim of the cervix to break--all at a molecular level, mind you--and so be released and then converted into prostaglandins, which are powerful stimulants of labor." It was pretty uncomfortable. It basically felt like she was swirling her fingers way up inside my whoowhoo which was a bit painful. Afterwards she warned me that there would be some bleeding, which there was. But it stopped shortly thereafter. I had some more mild cramps for the rest of the day but nothing more.

Reluctantly, in my need to hang on to hope, I still went for a long walk that night in order to help keep things moving along. Other than walks, the doctor recommended having lots of sex to help induce things since sperm has a chemical makeup that is really close to Pitocin, a labor inducing drug. Well, if it's doctor recommended!.....;-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Post 126...And the wait continues

It's 11:20am and already I have done the dishes, washed and put away all the laundry, vacuumed, swept, cleaned the refrigerator, wiped down the kitchen floor, straightened up the living room, gathered up all the trash and recyclables, filed away our mail, took care of the bills, dusted, organized the computer desk, made the bed, and straightened up the bathroom. The funny thing is, I still have energy after all that even though I hardly slept at all last night!

It was warm last night which made it hard to get comfortable. I could feel my hands swelling, making the joints feel creaky. It also didn't help that all night I kept tossing and turning with an upset stomach and mild cramps from time to time. It almost felt like I was coming down with something, I felt so queasy. But this morning, even though I'm still a little nauseous and have little appetite, I otherwise feel completely fine. I'm beginning to wonder if this nausea is a result of another hormone flux. It feels a lot like the nausea I had in the beginning of the pregnancy. The kind of nausea where it feels like I either ate too much or not enough. In addition to the nausea, I've certainly been more moody lately. I've been flipping between uber happy, crazy mad, and then sobbing for no reason whatsoever! It's got to be a hormonal thing...

I've still been going on long daily walks. I was surprised that I have so far walked down to the nearby Whole Foods and Fred Meyer pretty much daily for the last week. The walk just to Fred Meyer is about a 2 mile walk, so all together the walk is nearly 4 miles there and back. It hasn't been easy, but I've been handling it better than I expected. The fact that I can just do it is amazing to me. It has certainly made my legs pretty sore, but if it will help move things along with the pregnancy, than I'm all for it!

Yesterday I joined the Eastside Mommys for some coffee at a local cafe. I was surprised and excited to hear that the other mom who is about as far along as I am (she's 4 days ahead of me) is now about 1-2cm dilated and 100% effaced. The doctor told her that if she keeps up with walking this week, she could very well have the baby by the weekend! And just now she texted me saying she lost her mucus plug! I'm so jealous! I want so badly to see some progress towards labor! Tomorrow is my Obgyn appointment so I'm hoping I too hear good news too. Otherwise, I'm still waiting to see any other signs of approaching labor. I have yet to lose my mucus plug or have my water break (obviously), I haven't had any bloody show, and my contractions have been pretty mild. When I walk the contractions have certainly gotten stronger and longer. But as soon as I stop walking, the contractions completely go away. If it weren't for my aching feet and legs, I'd keep walking until true labor kicked in if that's what it took! But I guess I'm stuck waiting, watching, and hoping. It's exciting to see the other mom getting so close to labor. It gives me a great preview of what's around the corner. I just hope I don't have to wait too much longer to be in her shoes. We keep joking around about going into labor on the same day, but at this point, I'm pretty sure she's gonna beat me to it.

So I'm anxiously waiting for my appointment tomorrow. I hope there is good news. At this point we are 9 days away from our due date. We'll see if we have an early bird or a late bloomer.

Maybe I should go walk up and down the stairs again. Even if it doesn't bring on labor, it'll at least tone up my booty! ;-)