Grace’s Birth Story, Part 3

I sat up abruptly after the second contraction and as I sat up I felt a gush. I told Dana, “I think my water just broke” and when I stood up I was certain of it as I had soaked through my clothes. I went upstairs to change but decided to let Seth continue to rest instead of telling him that my water had broke. I went back downstairs and Dana was packing her bag for the hospital. I confessed to her that up until my water broke I was really thinking that labor was going to taper off and I would have to go to work. Dana laughed and told me that she knew a long time ago that wasn’t going to happen. I walked through the next few contractions since it was now more painful to sit on the birth ball since I didn’t have that extra “cushion.” I decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to go upstairs and lay down in my own bed one last time.

Around 5:45 am I decided that Dana needed to come up for some hands on help. She used heat from a rice pack (semi-helpful but kind of awkward since the pain was all in my belly and we wanted to avoid overheating the baby), massage and hip squeezes. The hip squeeze was no fun. It made the pain worse. I also held a small comb in my hand that gave me a different pain to focus on through contractions. That comb ended up staying with me throughout the rest of my labor-right up to when I started pushing. After a while I got on the exercise ball and sat next to the bed. Dana sat behind me and when I would have contractions she would press on pressure points in the small of my back. I in turn would push back against her and this was extremely helpful.

Shortly after 7 am I decided that we should head to the hospital, but I needed a granola bar and a chocolate milkshake first. Seth went out to get breakfast and my milkshake. When Seth returned he started loading up the car and I gave him instructions about last minute things that I wanted packed. We ended up leaving around 8 am.

Throughout my pregnancy the part of labor I was dreading the most was the car ride to the hospital. I was really worried about how I would be able to be remotely comfortable through contractions while in a moving vehicle. My contractions slowed some while we were in the car which was a needed relief. As it turned out riding in the car was a nice distraction and on the occasion we would hit a bump while I was having a contraction it felt really good. I sipped my milkshake and continued to squeeze the comb during the drive. We arrived at OSF around 9 am. We opted not to use the valet and went ahead and walked up to the labor and delivery floor. We also opted not to use the complimentary shuttles in the hospital. I remembered as we walked down the very long hallway telling Dana how scary they were because they went so fast. I can’t imagine if I would have had a contraction while I was on on of those!

Once up at labor and delivery I was placed in triage since there were no beds available. I grumpily thought to myself that they were probably full of people having scheduled indictions and c-sections and was extremely annoyed. In triage, I was literally put in a corner and there was barely any room for me and Seth, let alone Dana and all of our stuff. The nurse practitioner was extremely rude and was incredulous when I told her that my water had broken. She explained that they had to test me to be sure that my water had in fact broken and perform an exam to see how dilated/effaced I was. The exam was terrible and it felt like she was digging around inside of me. She announced that I was 2-3 cm. I found this very discouraging since I was 1-2 at my doctor’s appointment 3 days before and I had now been in labor for  over a day! I also remember telling her that I had a birth plan and she seemed very annoyed by my having a birth plan. However, after she read it she said it sounded “reasonable.” Once she was done with the tests and I was taken off the monitor I got off the bed. While we were moving around in a very tight confined area Seth accidentally stepped on my right foot. I screamed and told him that it hurt worse than a contraction! With the swelling in my feet it definitely did. At this point another couple was in triage and on the other side of the curtain I heard a nurse come in and tel them that their scheduled c-section was going to be pushed back a little because the doctor had to do an emergency c-section, but their baby would still be here by noon. I was again annoyed that yet someone else was making the choice to be in the hospital and thought that I had better get to a room before them since I was actually in labor.

Around 11 am I was moved to a labor and delivery room. The nurse practitioner never did actually confirm that my water had broken, but since we were moved to a room I guess that was my water that broke and I had not just peed myself. One of my labor and delivery nurses was Lorrie Harmon, and she was truly the best nurse I could have asked for. She was extremely supportive of me and my birth plan. She had to do some external monitoring of the baby and then take my blood pressure before I would be allowed to be out of bed. She and another nurse, Lynne, asked me more questions to get me admitted. They both laughed when I told them the last thing I had eaten was a chocolate milkshake. I had to sign some various forms and I distinctly remember NOT signing the form that allowed them to give me an epidural. (I strongly advise this for anyone who desires to have an unmedicated labor, because I was so “in the zone” at the point when I would have wanted an epidural that signing a piece of paper was not going to happen.) Right about the time she took my blood pressure there was a random doctor? med student? who came in and asked me how I was doing with my pain and reminded me that having an epidural was an option. I remember thinking and wondering if the rest of my labor was going to go on like this, with doctors coming in and “offering” me medication. Thankfully, Lorrie informed him that I desired to have an unmedicated labor but just him asking was enough to send my blood pressure up. Dana got out some lavender essential oil and Lorrie took my blood pressure again. It had come down enough that I would be allowed to walk around freely.

Grace, One Month

IMG_1312This past month, this first month of Grace’s life, I have continually thought about the fact that our savior came into the world as a baby. Not just in the fact that newborns are so completely and utterly helpless, but in that he subjected himself to new parents, and not just any new parents but very young teenage parents. Then there is the other side of things-God as father. Now that I am a parent I am not sure how God was able to send his son into this world that way. How great must his love be for us that he would send his son in such a way! I am truly overwhelmed this Advent season as I think about the depths that God went to become Immanuel-God WITH us.

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This past month has been the hardest of my life. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. Mentally. Last week I went to a Christmas party at work (my first time out with Grace all. by. myself.) and was asked in reference to being home with a newborn, “Isn’t it just wonderful?” To which I responded, “No. Not really.” I think that part of the reason postpartum depression is so prevalent is because new moms are not honest with others about the reality of having a newborn. I have been blessed to have friends that have been real and have shown me how much of a struggle it is to be a new mom. So, I will choose to be honest and say that it is not wonderful and it is in fact really hard. That doesn’t mean that I love my little Gracie any less or that I don’t think she is wonderful, because I don’t and she is.

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At Grace’s 2 day appointment (which was actually when she was a week old) she weighed 7 lbs 14.5 oz–within a half ounce of her birth weight! At her actual 2 day weight check on Black Friday she weighed 7 lbs 8 oz. I have noticed that her face is really filling out and she has quite the chubby cheeks. Her legs are also filling out and are not so thin as they were.

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From pretty early on Grace has been giving us four hour stretches at night. She would probably go longer, but we wake her. Once she is 5 weeks old we will go ahead and let her stretch out to 5 hours and see how she does. For the first couple weeks I was pretty terrible at noticing her sleep cues and as a result she would get overtired and not go to sleep. She generally wasn’t fussy, but she wasn’t sleeping either. At 2 weeks old I started wising up and picked up other subtle sleep cues–the main one for me was the wrinkling of the forehead. Since then she has been napping very well during the day and for the most part has continued doing well at night. Since 2 weeks we have put her down to sleep while she is drowsy and let her fall asleep the rest of the way on her own. Sometimes this works really well and sometimes it takes awhile. She has been sleeping in the pack n play on our bedroom since day one save a night or two that she has spent in the swing. The pack and play has an attachment that is perfectly sized for her and cradles her. I can’t imagine laying her in the giant crib to sleep since she is so cozy in her “bassinet.”

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The only time that Grace struggles with sleeping eel is when she is gassy. Unfortunately for Seth and I this usually happens at night. So far I think the things that upset her tummy are pepperoni, red sauce (maybe?), milk, onion, and eggs. Gas drops take the edge off but don’t really help. We briefly tried using gripe water with her at night but it seemed to both her too as she did not sleep as well those nights. It could have been coincidence, but we have discontinued the use of gripe water.

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Grace hated HATED being swaddled when we first got home but after forcing it on her she seems to really enjoy it. Seth is by far the better swaddler, but I am most improved. Grace is very strong and really really good at breaking out of a swaddle. In fact, we swaddle her twice and she could still break out. This first time I swaddled her tight enough that she could not break out I felt more accomplished than when I earned my master’s degree. Seriously. Our doula gave us a swaddle me wrap and we have been using the heck out of it. It is so much easier to use it, especially in the middle of the night. We ordered 3 more we enjoy them so much.

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Prior to the introduction of the swaddleme, our routine was that I would feed Grace and then Seth would swaddle her and put her back to bed. One night I brought Grace back and told Seth she was ready to be swaddled. He got out of bed and was fidgeting with his pillow. I was really annoyed and didn’t understand why it was so important for him to fluff his pillow at that moment. He then laid the pillow down on top of the blankets that were laid out, just waiting on a baby to swaddle. I asked Seth was he was doing with his pillow. He looked at his pillow and then threw it down. I told him this story the next day and he had no recollection of it happening.

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Thankfully, with each passing day we are all getting to know each other better and we are settling into this new season of life. I truly am looking forward to everything this girl is going to teach me.

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Grace, you are perfectly and wonderfully made. Your dad and I are so lucky we get to be your parents. We don’t deserve the joy you bring to us.

Grace’s Birth Story, Part 2

The morning of my due date I woke up about 6 am to what I was sure were contractions. They felt like cramps in the very bottom of my belly. I tried to go back to sleep and sort of succeeded. Around 8 am I decided to start timing my contractions and they were about 7 minutes apart. Around 9:30 am I texted Dana to let her know that I was having contractions. I decided I should probably get up and shower since I wasn’t sure when I would have the chance to do so again. And, let’s be honest, I wanted to look good while I was in labor. Ha!

After I showered I noticed that my contractions were spacing out. I was also hungry so I had Seth cut up the pineapple that Dana had instructed him to buy the night before. (Pineapple is supposed to be a labor inducing food…) After literally eating almost a whole pineapple I decided that I should finish getting ready for the day and take my weekly belly photo. I was trying to think of anything that would be stressing me since I knew that stress could kill labor. Since it was already past noon I was expecting people to start texting me since I hadn’t posted my weekly picture to Facebook and since we had skipped church that morning as well. I had already received a text from my boss which stated “today is your due date. how is it going?” Once I got my picture posted I started to feel a bit better. I posted it with the caption, “I’m still pregnant!” and ironically many people commented with suggestions of things to do while I waited for labor to begin.

Seth and I spent much of the afternoon on the couch watching football and I dutifully sipped on my red raspberry tea.  I continued to stay in contact with Dana to let her know what my contractions were doing. Around 3:30pm we decided that I was nearing active labor and agreed that she should head over to our house. Around that time Seth left to go to the grocery store to jump a friend’s car who had died. I remember that I was still watching the football game on tv. While I was in labor was probably the only time I ever truly watched a football game because I needed something else to focus on besides my contractions.

Dana arrived around 4:30pm and we worked on some pressure points to help encourage labor. She encouraged me to eat again if I was able and I decided that I would like to have macaroni and cheese. Seth made me some and I ate nearly the whole box. I remember being very annoyed that Seth had liberally peppered my mac n cheese and was ruining the pure taste of Kraft that I was craving. Labor was still going slow (or so it seemed) and in the back of my mind I thought that it was just going to taper off and I would end up going to work the next day. I tried some other labor inducing techniques to see if they would help and they seemed to. Dana left around 10pm to tie up some loose ends.

At this point I told Seth that he needed to start timing my contractions because knowing how much space was in between them was producing A LOT of anxiety for me. (Seth later told me that they got so close together he almost called Dana to tell her to hurry back.) Dana returned around 11 pm and we all decided to get some rest and the three of us spread out on our sectional sofa. At some point Seth went upstairs to sleep and I was thankful to have more room to stretch out. Around 3 am my centurions really started to pick up in frequency and intensity. Around 3:30 am I had two particularly long and strong contractions…

Grace’s Birth Story, Part 1

My 39 week appointment was on 11/22/13, just two days before my due date of 11/24/13.  It was a friday afternoon and Seth went with me to my appointment so we could indulge in some Chick-Fil-A afterwards. As soon as we arrived at the doctor’s office I was informed by the receptionist that my doctor had just left for a delivery but was planning on returning to the office. She informed me that if I wanted I could reschedule my appointment. I, of course, said no and that we would wait. Inside I was dying to know if I had progressed and if my baby was any closer to making her debut. After an hour of waiting they asked me if I would like to see a nurse practitioner, as it did not appear my doctor would be making it back to the office before 5 pm. I said that was fine and soon after was seen by the NP. Much to my discouragement she informed me that I was dilated between 1-2cm and 60% effaced. Since my last appointment I had not effaced anymore and had (maybe) dilated from 1 cm. However, she said that she wanted me to be seen tuesday or wednesday the following week and then stated that she doubted that I would make it to my appointment because she thought I would have the baby by then. She advised lots of walking.

Seth and I went to Chick-Fil-A for supper and I swear the cashier was looking *right* at my baby bump when she asked me if I wanted to upsize my meal. (For the record, that is the only time I have ever been asked at CFA if I want to upsize my meal.) We enjoyed our supper and then went to the mall to walk around per the NP’s instructions.  While we moseyed around the mall I texted my doula, Dana, to let her know how the appointment was and she offered to come over and do some massage and talk about other ways to get labor started.

We drove home and Dana arrived about 8:30pm. She set me up with some red raspberry leaf tea and also did some massage so that we could get comfortable with each other before labor. I started drinking that tea like it was my job and by saturday morning I was starting to pass my mucous plug (sorry, but I have no filter since giving birth!). I of course, texted Dana to let her know this and she asked me to keep her posted and offered to come over that night if I would like. She said that she wanted to do some pressure points and see if we could really get labor started now. I continued to chug on my tea all day long. I also downloaded a contraction timer app for my phone…just in case.

The Nursery Preview

IMG_0839This is most definitely the owl-heavy portion of the room. (The lamp base is an owl!)

IMG_0814The diaper stacker is easily the most sentimental piece in the room. It was made by my mom for one of my cousins when she had a baby over 20 years ago. She has kept it all this time and gave it back to me (so maybe that might be my most favorite gift…)

IMG_0817A close up of the artwork above the changing table.

IMG_0815Her name has since been affixed to the wall above the crib…but no spoilers here on what her name will be.

Baby Girl Has a Place to Lay Her Head

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I’ve been sporadically looking on craigslist for a crib. To be honest, I had given up hope and was planning on just getting an IKEA crib. Tonight, in a spirit of boredom I got on craigslist only to see the furniture set pictured above was for sale. It was the item that had most recently been listed. Now, I’ve seen some decent stuff before and I’ve thought about contacting the lister, but nothing has ever made me pull the trigger. This set though, I actually showed to Seth and asked what he thought about trying to check it out. He gave me the green light so I texted the lister to see if it was still available. After a little bit of back and forth we set a time to go to their house and check out the furniture a couple hours later. Thanks to modern technology, I knew that they had an iPhone, which to me was a good sign. When they sent me their address then I was feeling really good because it appeared to be in a very nice subdivision.

Once we arrived at their house, there were a ton of people outside, and they were all super friendly! The furniture was sitting in the garage and it looked even better in person. I inspected the crib for bite marks (none!) and sat in the glider (comfy but supportive!). We were sold. Within seconds we had everything loaded into the Jeep. One of the guys there asked me if I was just always of craigslist looking for stuff and I admitted nope, this was completely coincidental that I had been on there so soon after they listed. So, for $300 we got everything above and it is all in excellent condition. Now I can stop freak out mode about where the baby will sleep. Just kidding, we already had someone give us a pack n play, so worst case scenario she would have had to sleep in it.