Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The recovering

I have a 3 week old! She's precious, sleeps a lot--in her bed (actually a rock and play, but close enough), nurses like crazy, and burps herself. I mean, did you catch that? I can put her down! I couldn't put Hunter down for two years straight. She drinks pumped milk from a bottle too. This means that Jeremy can feed her while I sleep or maybe exercise. 


Speaking of exercise, I'm being super careful and slowly beginning moving again in the form of walking. Ok, I've jogged a bit, but so slowly my strava app thinks it should auto-pause me. Suddenly my yucky hip and SI pain from last summer has reappeared, my pelvic pain from pregnancy has disappeared, and my abs don't really work like I expect them to. I'm just giving them a hard time, since only 3 weeks ago they were stretched out to here. This time I am really working on strength training. Have I said that before? Because I mean it now. 

It may not be obvious to everyone, but recovery from a vbac is so so much easier than recovery from a cesarean. Unless, of course, you enjoy not getting out of bed or sitting up on your own for a few weeks, and there is someone to wait on you hand and foot. That's just not me. I was lightheaded and fatigued for several days after Josie's birth, but apparently I tend to be a bleeder and lost a good bit of blood right after she was born. They actually gave me a bag of pitocin to help stop it some, and not just as a routine measure. 

Besides that fluid, I had no other, so I got home from the hospital about 11-12 pounds down in weight, and I fluctuate from 2-4 pounds over my prepregnancy weight now, depending on if I ate Jeremy's helping of supper the night before or not. In these last 3 weeks, I have eaten approximately 7000 calories per day just to suppress the massive hunger I have. Making milk for a chubby baby and a toddler who only wants this new extra creamy stuff has me eating ridiculous amounts of food, like entire blackberry cobblers and full jars of cookie butter all at once. Honestly I only ate 2/3 of the jar of cookie butter in one day. I did the math on that one and saw that I consumed somewhere around 1600 calories from it alone, and that's certainly not all I ate that day. It seems I'm making up for 9 months with zero appetite. 

While my milk is very sought after usually, above is a picture of a kitten who begs for cows milk every time we go to the fridge but flat out refused my pumped milk. I was desperate in the middle of one night; Josie was too sleepy to nurse much, Hunter rolled over and went back to sleep, and I was busting at the seams, so I pumped into a dirty bottle knowing I'd have to throw it out. Trying to put it to some use the next morning, I poured it for the kittens, who turned up their little pink noses at my delicious creamy treat. Really, everybody?

 Look at that belly!

She actually laughs in her sleep and has smiled at all of us in the absence of gas troubles.

Thankfully someone helped me eat the rest of the jar of cookie butter

Monday, July 6, 2015

Josie's Birth

How did this beautiful baby girl get here? It happened so fast!

But this story really starts with Hunter's birth. I knew all along that I wanted to have a VBAC for any births following his Cesarean, and all odds were lining up well. The anticipated method of delivery can define a pregnancy, and I was overly aware at times of all the means to the end that I hoped for. I wanted to give myself every advantage, which really just means having a healthy pregnancy, finding the best care providers, and not letting myself ever slouch on the couch. It was a long 9 months of sitting perfectly straight up. Just kidding, kind of.

My doctor had started talking about when we would induce little baby girl, and he was hoping for a time before 41 weeks along with a day he was on call. Nothing on the calendar was looking good to me at my 39 week appointment, since induction was most certainly not on my agenda. Let the baby come out when she's ready! And don't increase my chances of a c-section right from the start. I had not let him check my dilation in 3 weeks so we had no idea how I was progressing until I had Jeremy check around 39+1, with the grim results: nothing happening.

That following weekend was a busy one with all my nesting and cleaning and our family activities. Saturday I took Hunter to the blueberry farm to pick while Jeremy rode his bike, then we all headed out to the river for a triathlon team picnic, squeezed a little nap in, I conquered a 3+ mile, 12:45 per mile run/walk, and then we cooled off at a pool party in the neighborhood. Sunday involved lots of playing at church, where I found myself wanting to sit more than usual, a big brunch with the cousins, and the big siblings class at the hospital (so cute, that big brother Hunter!). On the agenda for the evening was hanging Hunter's art work and finishing a chicken pot pie. Those didn't  happen for a while.

I hopped on my trainer for a quick spin with Jack Bauer on the screen. With my usual hip discomfort, I move around a lot in the saddle, and with one shift I felt a thump. The small rush right after told me I was lucky to have padded bike shorts on, because my water might have broken. I headed upstairs and confirmed that it was true. When I asked Jeremy what I should do he said, "Probably not get back on the bike." But I was only halfway through my workout!

Contractions started within a few minutes as I was texting my doula, Cora, and Jenny to tell them to be on alert. Not getting too excited at this point, since I realized it could be days of early labor, I may have downplayed my contractions when Cora called. They were increasing in intensity noticeably already, so I decided to get into the tub and try to time them. Three to three-and-a-half minutes apart, lasting 45-60 seconds seemed too close, too long, too soon. I had a flash of fear that this was not normal. Uterine rupture, uterine rupture, uterine rupture was what kept going through my mind until Jeremy calmed me down that this was actually normal. This husband of mine is such an incredible person. I'm not sure I could've made it through without his calm reassurance and constant support. Through the whole pregnancy really! 

Everything is happening so fast was another thought I had. Contractions were getting closer and closer and I found that timing them was not something I had the mental capacity for anymore. The tub wasn't helping anything, since I was already to the point of leaning over the side with each contraction, so I got in the shower to get clean. After all, I had been sweating on the trainer. Making it through a quick shower was more difficult than I had imagined, but luckily Jenny and Emily had arrived to help distract Hunter while I huffed and puffed around the bedroom. They got there just before 6:30pm, about an hour after I got off the trainer, and when Jenny came into the bedroom I started crying and saying I just didn't think I could do this whole labor thing if it hurt so much already, still thinking it could last days. Jeremy checked my dilation, and said it was around 4-5cm, which did brighten my mood a bit. I knew it was time to pack-- oh yeah, hadn't finished that-- and head out when I was finally ready. With a VBAC, you need continuous monitoring in case of uterine rupture, and I did not want to put off going in much longer. Jenny and Jeremy were my logistics and packing coordinators, calling Cora and Mom, and Cora called the hospital and had them prepare for our arrival. Jenny seemed optimistic when talking to Cora that I was progressing quickly based on my mood of uncertainty, inability to stay quiet during contractions already, and complete lack of logical thought processing.

Two hours after the trainer ride, we headed down the bumpiest street in town to the hospital, since it was the fastest route, and I never noticed the bumps before. We got there in only a few contractions. The hard longer contractions were mixed in with less intense ones that came with a much shorter break between, which made it almost scary when I had a longer rest interval; I knew a tough one was coming. Cora met us in the parking garage, and the next hurdle was walking through the skybridge to the hospital. The skybridge may have been 100 yards long or 100 miles long, but I could barely take 5 steps between contractions, when I had to lean against the wall. That walk was never going to happen, so a magic wheelchair that cooled me and let me rest breezed me through the halls to L&D.

The birth ball, which I  spent more time covering than using, is where I sat for the few minutes it took to get my heplock in, which is also a requirement for VBACs at my hospital. I contracted right after the nurse got the first one started, and I ruined it, and a second one had to be placed. She was quick, and got it set with just a tiny bit of time to spare. Next up was the dilation check, which she blew me away with: complete effacement and dilation except for a small lip on one side. The little things kept me going. It seemed my favorite position for contractions was hunched over something, so onto the bed I went.

I had no concept of time, or any surroundings really, at this point, but with each contraction Cora or Jeremy, or Jenny-- wait when did she get here?-- would use counter pressure on my iliac crests, which was very helpful. I had the thought, "so an epidural takes this pain away" but it never crossed my mind again. I would say I was dead set against pain medication, but in reality I know things can happen and it can become a good option to have. Looking back, my mind was too busy to process that thought further anyway, so unmedicated was how it was to happen.

During one contraction I felt a sort of dry heave and said that I may need to throw up, after which a vomit bag was brought to me. Then it occurred to me that it could actually be the elusive urge to push I had heard of. The hospital was ready with a birthing stool, which was a large plastic crescent sort of stool, and the crew helped me down there right beside the bed. Jeremy was behind me letting me lean back against him to rest between contractions, with cool towels and reassurance. Cora was on one side, the wonderful nurse Ellavay was on another, and they all gave me little glimpses of hope and lots of encouragement.

Around this time, a friend also by the name of Jenny, who is starting her birth photography business and volunteered her time to come photograph it for me, arrived. The doctor on call, a partner of my regular OB, popped in to say hello, to which I was unable to respond. Cora explained how exactly this pushing was to happen, but something about it scared me. I wondered if I just might bust with any pushing. I nervously tried a few times and convinced myself that if I just went for it, this would happen a lot more quickly. It still took a few times to build up to an actual powerful push, but I could feel baby girl descend significantly with each one. The nurse called for the doctor, which was a boost for me, knowing that it was happening sooner rather than later-- soon enough that he never had time to get those knee pads he asked for, and instead kneeled on the hard floor in front of me.

At 9:06 pm, just over 3.5 hours after my water broke, Josephine Mae was right there, in my arms, looking straight up into my eyes.

Hunter summed it all up when he met her the next day: "I am so excited to meet you, little Josie Mae."

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Our Newest Little

We are so excited to have welcomed sweet Josephine Mae to this world Sunday night. She is a perfect, precious gift, and all of us, including big brother Hunter, are smitten. I promise she is smiling at me already!

I'm eager to write down all the details of her quick entrance to the world before anything escapes me. Soon I just know I'll have spare time. If I can stop staring at her precious face.