Monday, April 28, 2014

One month reviews

I've been working on a post about Baby Jo's time in the NICU, but to be honest, it's been a little exhausting. It's not fun to write, so I only write a few paragraphs at a time and then stop. I'll finish it, but I wanted to cover other things in the meantime.

On Wednesday, Baby Jo will be 6 weeks old! Where did time go? Well, it was mostly spent at home with many guests. My mom stayed for three weeks, my dad came for four days, my in-laws have visited many times, my sister-in-law came to help, and my two best friends from high school just visited me this weekend! I've also been working on nursing, worrying, and trying to figure out what my son likes/hates/tolerates/loves. After a month, here are his reviews:

Sleeping while being held: Heavenly
Sleeping in a Moby wrap: Awesome
Sleeping in the baby swing: Tolerable
Sleeping in the crib: Boo!

Being in the car while it is moving: Fabulous
Being in the car when it is in park: Agony!!!

Being pushed in a stroller: Fine
Being in a stroller when I stop pushing it for 10 seconds: The horror!

Being held: Awesome
Being held while someone constantly bounces on a yoga ball: The best thing in the world

Baths: The second best thing in the world
Pooping: The third best thing in the world ( as evident by him pooping about 10 times a day)

The baby's other hobbies that he has acquired during the first month of life:
- laying on the floor (for 10 minutes tops)
- staring at lights and window blinds
- grabbing my hair and hanging on for dear life
- basically being completely adorable

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Labor Day

To say that life has changed since my last post would be the understatement of the year. It's been a crazy three weeks. Spoiler alert: It's because of this guy:
Meet Baby Jo

It all began on March 18th, which was the Tuesday that we had originally scheduled my induction. We got up dark and early and headed to the hospital. When we got there to check in, the women at the front desk looked at us like we were lost. We explained that we were there because I was scheduled to be induced. They began frantically looking through papers and explained that they did not have me on the schedule. Yikes. They had us wait in the waiting room and would have the charge nurse speak to us shortly.

While we were in the waiting room, the charge nurse came to speak with us. She explained that she had us scheduled to come in Wednesday night on March 19th. She apologized for the miscommunication between the maternity ward and my doctor's office. She could tell I was upset (based on me bursting into tears- it was a very emotional week for me) and offered to call us if there were any openings or possibility for me to come in that afternoon. We left the hospital and came home. She called later and explained that there was no way for me to come in on Tuesday, but she could move my induction to the morning on Wednesday.

I fell asleep on the couch that night and woke up at 2:30 am to my stupid pregnancy rash itching like crazy. It had spread from my stomach to various parts of my body. After applying a ton of cream to it, I went to bed in our room, only I couldn't sleep. My back started to cramp up and wouldn't stop. After about an hour of laying on a heating pad, I began to suspect that maaaaybe they were contractions. I tried to time the cramps, but I had a hard time doing it because they didn't seem to have a definite beginning or end. I ended up calling my mom (poor lady- it was 1:30 am her time). She suspected that I was in labor and told me to get to the hospital. I have to admit, I was SUPER excited! I was sad about having to be induced and really wanted to have the baby come on his own time. The fact that I was in labor before getting induced was a big bonus for me. I woke up Jordan exclaiming, "I think I am in labor!!" I spent the next half hour straightening up our house before we left and deep breathing when my cramps could get worse. All of a sudden, they began to intensify. Then they got stronger and stroner. I began to panic a little, thinking that the baby was coming soon. Our hospital is only 2 miles away from our house, but Jordan still sped just because he could- hey, your wife being in labor is a very justifiable excuse. We got to hospital at about 5:00 am.

When we got admitted to the hospital, my contractions were super strong and felt like they were never coming and going, but just stacking on top of each other. The nurse gave me a fun cervical exam and said I was at 3 cm. WHAT?! With the intensity of my contractions I thought I was at least at a 5. I got a little nervous and asked, "Do I have to wait until I am a 5 to get my epidural?" The nurse said that I could get it much sooner than that. Phew! Within an hour, after humming and swaying while leaning against Jordan, I was able to survive my cramps, move to a labor room, and get my epidural. Immediately, I felt relief. I remember thinking, "Wow, I can't feel a single contraction! I can't believe the hard part is over!"

 Right after I got my epidural and thinking everything was gonna be juuuuust fiiiiine.

Things were going fine until my new labor nurse inserted my catheter. I told her that it felt uncomfortable. She kept saying, "That's so weird you can feel it at all with your epidural!" I assured her I could and that it felt weird. As time passed, my catheter went from uncomfortable to painful. My nurse agreed to take it out for a while. My doctor came to check on me two hours after my epidural. I requested that he brake my water before trying pitocin because I wanted to try non-medication interventions to help labor first. When he broke my water, he told me that there was meconium (baby's first bowl movement) in the water. I got worried and asked, "Does that mean I need a c-section?" My doctor said that he didn't feel that that was necessary, but a NICU team would need to be present at the birth to assess the baby and make sure he hadn't inhaled any meconium.

My nurse checked me a while after my water broke and I was only at 4 cm. She checked another hour later and I was still at a 4. Each time she checked me, she would give me this discouraged looking face that drove me crazy. Later, the baby's heart rate began to drop and about four different nurses ran in to check on me and the baby. My nurse said, "You know, it looks like your baby may not tolerate labor." I began to cry, and she immediately changed her tune. "Oh, everything looks good. If there was something really wrong, we would let you know. Things are fine!" I told her, "You can't say he won't tolerate labor unless you know for sure." I think she was annoyed by this, but I didn't care.

I started to get an intense pain in my upper back to the point where I could barely breathe through it. The nurse said that the baby's head felt turned around in the wrong direction, and since he didn't have his water around him to cushion his kicks, he was most likley kicking or pressing directly on a nerve. I asked to have my epidural boosted, but the nurse explained that no matter how strong my epidural was, it wouldn't reach as high as my upper back. Lovely. She suggested (with permission from my doctor) to flush my uterus with saline to mimic amniotic fluid to help move the baby around more. This seemed to help a little, but I was still in crazy pain.

My doctor came in and explained that the baby was occiput posterior, or basically backwards in my stomach where his head was facing up instead of down and his body was facing the wrong way. My doctor said based on this, the fact that I was in pain from my catheter, and my lack of progression, a c-section may be a better option. I just shook my head while he was talking and said, "A c-section will be my last resort." Obviously, I would have one if I needed to, but I didn't want one if I could help it. My doctor agreed to let me wait longer to see if I progressed. I gave him the go ahead to give me pitocin. I wanted to avoid pitocin as long as possible, but I'd be happy to have it before resorting to surgery. My doc said he was nervous to give me the drug due to the baby's recent dip in his heart rate. We decided to give me another hour to see how his heart rate was stabilizing, and if he was doing ok, we would start the drug. I texted all my family to give updates and and asked for prayers that I could deliver safely. For a while, I felt a little hopeless. I told Jordan, "I'm not sure if this is going to work." Jordan was super supportive of me. Honestly, if my doctor would have promised to try to let me go VBAC with my next baby, I probably would've have opted for the c-section at this point. But the knowledge that once I had one c-section, all my babies would have to born that way kept me going on with labor.

My doctor put me in a position where I was flat on my back with the bottoms of my feet pressed together and my legs in a diamond shape to promote dilation. It was surprisingly comfortable and I was able to take a nap for almost two hours. Siiiiigh.

When I woke up, my nurse checked my progress. I remember watching her face light up when she said, " are at a 6!" Woohoo! Progress. My doctor was able to try to turn the baby's head and then he instructed the nurse to put me in these awkward positions to try to turn him even more. These positions were super uncomfortable and as soon as I turned on my side the pain from my former catheter shot through me again. I moaned and hummed through each movement. I had to stay in each position for twenty minutes. Those 20 minute intervals felt like forever. Thank goodness for Seinfeld episodes on the tv to help distract me.  Then, a saving grace- my anesthesiologist came back to check on me! He gave me a heavy dose of the feel goods and life was more manageable once again.

"Death seems nice right now..."

Eventually, I got a new nurse due to the shift change. She was peppy and was more optimistic than my previous nurse, so I was happy about that. She checked me and said with excitement, "You are a 9 and a half!" The pressure of the baby's head was so intense at this point. We waited another half hour and she checked me and exclaimed I was at a 10 and fully effaced. Pushing time! I couldn't believe that my body had made it that far. At this point it was 8:40 pm. The nurse said that the baby's head felt very low. I asked, "Does that mean that he will pass through my pelvis?" She responded, "I have very high hopes!" That freaked me out a little that even though I had made it that far, there was a chance that this baby wouldn't come out the way I wanted him to, but we were determined to try. My nurse had me do a few practice pushes while she and Jordan held my legs. Then she had me push for real. I panicked and said, "Wait, I want my doctor to be here!" She explained, "Oh, he only comes in at the end." So the three of us worked on pushing.

Pushing was so hard; harder than I anticipated it to be. With each contraction, I had to hold my breath, crunch up, and push as hard as I could for 10 seconds, then repeat this two more times. After the third push, I would have an oxygen mask until the next contraction. It was exhausting. My nurse kept saying, "Push harder! Harder! Push push push push!" I wanted to strangle her. At one point when she said, "C'mon, push hard!" I shouted back, "I AM!!!" I apologized for yelling at her after that push sequence and she said, "I'm just being a cheerleader!" After I realized she was trying to be encouraging and not critical, I wasn't as bothered by her and her "cheers".

I requested a mirror to watch my progress. I found it helpful to be able to see my baby's little head, though I wasn't such a fan of the view. Haha. We kept pushing for over an hour. My nurse called in the NICU team and told someone to fetch my doctor. That's when I knew my baby was close. It was such a surreal feeling!

My doctor and a bunch of nurses and people came in. They covered the floor and my doctor with blue material. My doctor shined a huge light on my downstairs and the pushing continued. Having my doctor there made me feel so much better. He kept saying, "C'mon girl!" (Yes, he knows my name) throughout my pushing which I actually liked. I felt more and more pressure as I got more and more exhausted. I was determined not to freak out like a dumb labor movie scene, but I definitely let out some loud shouts during this. With each push, I would think, "This is the one!" only to have nothing move. Then I felt the famous ring of fire. It stung so badly, but I was so excited at the same moment because I knew that the end was near. Another HUGE push and I felt this weird long thing get pulled out of me. After an hour and twenty minutes of pushing, it was over! He was born exactly at 10:00 pm.

Everything happened so fast after that. I saw a long chord get pulled up and my doctor hurriedly told Jordan to cut it. I said, "Wait, I want to wait until the chord stops pulsing (something my doc and I agreed on prior to labor)," but my doctor replied, "I'm sorry, there's no time. We'll do it with your next one." They rushed the baby away to the corner of the room where the team of NICU nurses hovered over him in a warmer. I couldn't see the baby at all as he had a barricade of healthcare workers blocking my view. They were clearing his lungs of any meconium that he had ingested. His APGAR scores were a little low and he wasn't making any noises.  Jordan was over there with them. I kept saying, "Talk to him, Honey!" It broke my heart that the first voices that our baby heard were strangers, but I knew he needed to be assessed and cared for. I ended up not even being able to SEE him for twenty minutes. He also wasn't crying much at all which worried me. Jordan would come over to me and say, "He's got a great color!" and then would hurry back to him. After about twenty minutes, someone held him up to show me from afar. A few minutes after that, I FINALLY got to hold my sweet baby.

A very puffy duo

 Dad watching over him

I only held him for about two minutes and then they had to take him away to the Transitional ward (the ward that is a step up from the NICU). They said he would be there for a while. I asked if I could go with him, but the nurses said I had to wait until my epidural wore off. I had just gotten a booster before pushing so it would take about an hour. I was devastated. Jordan agreed to go with him so he wouldn't be alone. My delivery room slowly emptied as everyone left. I was all alone in my room so I called my mom and choked on the phone how I had just had my baby and now I was all alone. Luckily, about 40 minutes after they left with our son, he was declared healthy enough to come back to his mom and I finally got to hold him skin to skin. It was definitely the best part of the whole day.

I am so happy that labor worked out for me, even if the whole ordeal was painful and over 18 hours. I remember being so relieved that it was over, but little did I know that a whole new hard battle would begin the next day. Stay tuned.