Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mother's Day

I made this for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day. (And got to have some myself, too.)

Boccone Dolce


I also enjoyed this little sweet treat (and the other one, too, but he wasn't around for pictures).

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Chad got up extra early and made me breakfast (eggs benedict) and dressed Miriel in a cute little outfit that he picked out all by himself. And by "all by himself" I mean that he took both kids to the mall the weekend before and looked through lots of stores just to find something that says "mommy" on it because she has tons of clothes that say "daddy" and none that say "mommy." How sweet is that? (Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the outfit - maybe later.) We went to church and then to my in-laws' where I got to make the aforementioned dessert and play with my camera and lights while doing it. It was a fun day!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Miriel's Birth Story

My in-laws had a baby shower for me on Sunday, February 7, and on my way back home I stopped by the hospital where a friend had had her baby that day. I noticed that my stomach was funky and I wasn't feeling all that comfortable but otherwise I was fine. I went home, folded some baby clothes and went to bed. Around 2am I woke up feeling much like I did when I went into labor with Gavin - my stomach was unsettled and queasy, I could (barely) tell I was having contractions, they were about 3 minutes apart, and they didn't hurt at all. I figured it was a good idea to go ahead and get things in order just in case this was the "real thing" (even though it was 2 1/2 weeks before my due date), so we called my mother-in-law to come stay the rest of the night with Gavin and we headed to the hospital. I was feeling very putzy and not really in any hurry, and, unlike my labor with Gavin, things didn't get any more intense on our way to the hospital or during the admission process.

Once we were in a birthing room, the nurse hooked me up to the heart rate and contraction monitors. My contractions slowed down during the monitoring and the baby's heart rate was not all that great (a little high and without the preferred rhythm), so I rested for a while and continued monitoring. At some point fairly early on they checked me for dilation and I was at 4cm (I had been at 3cm a few days before at my last OB appointment). While I rested, my contractions pretty much stopped. Since I had tested positive for Group B strep, I needed to get an IV so I could have a couple rounds of antibiotics before delivery. The nurse tried a couple times to no avail, so she called in IV therapy, who did an awesome job and put the IV in a much more convenient place on the outside of my left arm. At some point, Chad and I both rested for an hour or so.

After about 30 minutes of walking and contractions every 3-4 minutes again, we put on the monitors and discovered that the baby's heart rate was actually much higher. I was pretty worried at this point and was convinced I would end up with a C-section, even though my doctor was not really even suggesting it (I am so thankful for an awesome OB). Even though I really did not want a C-section, I Really, Really did want a healthy baby and was mentally okay with and even thankful for the possibility. The nurse gave me some fluid through the IV, just in case the high heart rate was because of dehydration. (By the way, during much of this I had to pee about every 5 minutes. Very irritating when you're hooked up to a mostly-stationary machine.)

My doctor visited around 8am and said the heart rate pattern was indicative of the umbilical cord being around the baby's neck, possibly wrapped more than once, but assured us that many babies are born vaginally this way and most likely everything would be fine. I needed to stay hooked up to the monitors, though, to make sure her heart rate didn't get any worse and hopefully it would even out and get better. We agreed that he would come back around noon to see how things had progressed and break my water if needed. So after getting a round of antibiotics, I tried bouncing on the birthing ball and nipple stimulation to try to get my labor started again and my water to break. Sometime during this waiting period, Gavin came in for a few minutes to visit and Chad's mom's best friend, Mary Kay, stopped by for a little bit.

I had been praying much of the time but was still worried about the continually-high heart rate, especially since I wasn't having any more contractions but it was still high. Somehow, though, when I started bouncing on the birthing ball a sense of peace came and I stopped worrying and was able to truly put the whole situation into Jesus' hands. Not too long afterwards, the baby's heart rate dropped a little to the just-a-little-too-high range (similar to what it had been when we first got to the hospital) though the rhythm remained the same. Later I learned that many of our friends and family were also praying for us during this time.

When my doctor came around 1pm (he was a little late), my water still had not broken and I was only half a centimeter more dilated. We had a good talk about what was going on and decided that this baby definitely needed to be born sooner rather than later. He recommended that he break my water and then I get a small amount of pitocin to get my labor going again. Active labor would push the situation one way or the other - most likely the baby's heart rate would get better and I would have a natural vaginal delivery, or possibly it would get significantly worse and I would have an emergency C-section. He broke my water, and the nurse gave me about an hour to see if labor would pick up naturally. It didn't, so at 2pm she gave me the smallest dose possible of pitocin. My first "real" contraction (meaning it hurt some and I could tell the contraction was productive) came around 2:15pm, and I was so incredibly thankful. The nurse upped the pitocin to the next notch to get the contractions to be regular and they started coming around every 3 minutes. I think she turned off the pitocin after that but I'm not sure - I pretty much zoned out into labor land soon afterward and don't remember much of what happened around me.

After a few regular contractions I decided the birth ball was the best place to be, so I sat there and leaned back on Chad. He rubbed my lower back during contractions and was generally calming and reassuring. I found that vocalizing in a low sighing hum really helped me get through the contractions. They were painful but I was doing fine and able to relax through them to keep the pain as minimal as possible. I could feel the baby progressing downward past my tailbone and truly was so happy to be finally in labor that I appreciated the pain because I knew it was productive. The baby's heart rate dropped a little more into the "good" zone, too. I remember actually talking through the last third or quarter of a couple of contractions, and one particularly intense one that looked different on the monitor screen.

[Please note that the rest of these events might not be quite in order since it was definitely a blur.] After an hour or so (?), I had to use the bathroom and was feeling more pressure and overall ickiness. Right around the same time I felt like bursting into tears, and I told Chad I was pretty sure I was about to go into transition. The nurse checked me when I came out of the bathroom and I was at 7cm, so she called the doctor to let him know. I started having very intense and close-together contractions and knew transition had begun. I was sobbing through the contractions but also knew that it wouldn't last long and was actually still doing just fine. Transition lasted maybe 20-30 minutes and then my body started pushing. The baby was coming fast, and nurse told me to try to keep from pushing since the doctor wasn't there yet. I (kind of) did for 2 or 3 contractions, which were still only a few minutes apart. I knew I couldn't keep the baby in any longer (and certainly didn't want to) and the nurse called other nurses in for support. Just then, my doctor walked in and my body was quiet for a couple minutes. The next contraction started and I reached down and felt the baby's head crown with my hand. A few seconds later she was born at 4:45pm.

The umbilical cord was indeed wrapped around her neck, twice, but she was perfectly fine. She had Apgar scores of 9 and 9. My doctor placed her on my chest and I held and cuddled with her. A few minutes later Chad cut the umbilical cord, which was huge (maybe as big around as a silver dollar?) and barely fit in the clamp. My doctor said that her giant, healthy cord was the main reason she was fine despite the double nuchal. She latched onto my breast right away and sucked for an hour straight while I delivered the placenta and was stitched up (I had a third degree tear).

Chad brought Gavin in from the waiting room so he could be the first (besides us) to meet his little sister. He loved seeing her and was so sweet. We went home from the hospital on Wednesday after an uneventful stay. Miriel was nursing well and I felt pretty much fine (although I did keep taking ibuprofen for a little while). We have adjusted well, I think, to having her as part of our family, and we all love her very much.

Out of the whole thing, the worst parts for me were the two failed IV attempts and once when I got a little too much antibiotic concentration in the IV and it burned going in my veins. I'm sure those were bad moments partially because I was worried about Miriel and definitely not relaxed while all that was happening. The contractions during transition were really not high on my I-want-to-do-this-again-tomorrow list, either, but it was totally different because it felt natural and somehow good even though it was painful. Oh, and getting the local anesthetic in order to get sewed up afterward was certainly not fun. It was such a different experience than Gavin's birth - easier physically, but harder emotionally because of the waiting and worrying. I was more coherent and significantly less exhausted when Miriel was born, though, and felt like I bonded with her much more easily and quickly. It has also taken a lot longer for me to heal from tearing than from the episiotomy I had with Gavin - Miriel is 12 weeks old and I am just now almost healed (it was a fairly bad tear, though).

The best parts were certainly holding Miriel in my arms and feeding her the first time. But other things were good, too - the feeling of peace as I bounced on the birthing ball and truly trusted God for the health of my baby and whatever happened with the birth, my thankfulness and relief when that first "real" contraction started, the satisfaction and even happiness I felt that my body was doing what it was meant to do as the contractions came. Even an hour after Miriel was born, I remember thinking to myself and mentioning to someone "This wasn't so bad - I could do this again." (That was not the case an hour after Gavin's birth - I distinctly remember thinking "I'd bet I'll think that this wasn't so bad in a few weeks, but right now I really don't relish the thought of repeating this ever again.")