Monday, April 28, 2014

Happy One Week, Evan!

Yesterday, we celebrated one week since Evan joined the outside world. Yes, I did bake cupcakes for the occasion, but mostly because I was in the mood for cupcakes :). 

It's incredible to think that this sweet little boy has already been a part of our lives for a week, but at the same time, it's hard to imagine life without him. Parenthood has been a learning experience, but I think less scary and crazy than we imagined. Thank goodness, after all the stress leading up to his birth. 

After this, I will probably do a once a month kind of update on how he's doing, but since this is the first week, and he's already changed so much, I wanted to document some of the things we love about him. 

The last few days, Evan has really started to become a little person. He opens his eyes so much more now, and sometimes will just stare up at me. His eyes are a beautiful, dark blue, which I know is normal for infants, but he gets such a pensive look at the time. I wish I knew what he was thinking about. We spend most of our time feeding and sleeping, which has forced Ed and I to slow down and relax. 

His sleep has grown by leaps and bounds. The first 4 days, he would really only sleep when someone was holding him, so Ed and I would sleep in shifts. Now, he has been really good about letting me put him back to sleep after each feeding at night, which means we're getting some good chunks of 2ish hours during the night. Last night, we got three of them! The first couple nights where we put him down, we let him sleep in the swing, but he's now sleeping in the rock n play. We're hoping to move him to the pack n play eventually, but we aren't in a rush. Feedings take about 45 minutes, including diaper changes, which happen in the middle to wake him up. Evan is a very sleepy baby and often falls asleep while he's eating. Even wet washcloths and ice cubes have little effect on him. 

At our first pediatrician appointment, we learned that Evan unfortunately had a tongue tie. This explained why it was so painful to feed him and why he wanted to eat all the time but wasn't getting enough food. Even though it broke our hearts a bit, we okayed the quick procedure to cut the too tight tissue so that his tongue was freed up. Thankfully, at our one week well appointment today, he had gained 5 ounces since Friday! He's now up to 9 lbs 8 oz, which is 6 oz up from his lowest weight at the hospital. It seems like he's now very much on track :). He otherwise is a very healthy little boy. 
Other people's fingers are also acceptable, as is a pacifier now, but his first love will always be his hands. 

One of the funniest things that we love about him is his obsession with his hands. He loves going to town on them - sticking as much as he can in his mouth and then sucking as hard as he can. When given the option of food or his hands, he usually will choose his hands, or abandon food partway through to be with his hands. It is so incredibly cute, if sometimes a little frustrating when we really want him to eat :).

One of our favorite activities has been taking him for a walk in our neighborhood every day. Each day we're going a little longer, as I'm slowly recovering, and we are really enjoying taking advantage of the nice weather before the heat officially arrives. Tonight, we went out in the evening, which was really fun since it meant we didn't need the shade down. Evan was awake and just taking in everything. We are very much loving our stroller and can't wait to go on bigger expeditions in it. 

We started cloth diapers over the weekend, and so far have really been loving them. They really are easy to use (and wash) and they look so incredibly cute. They have also done a great job of containing messes that would have easily escaped a disposable diaper. Right now we're still using the newborn sizes, but I'm not sure how long they will last. We have our larger diapers ready to go, but are still hoping to get some good use out of these. 

We have both dabbled in baby wearing, and are really happy, so far, with the moby wrap. I helped Ed put it on, but was able to put it on correctly by myself. Since I'm still healing up, I'm not doing a whole lot of active things, but once I'm up for it, I can definitely see this coming in handy. It wasn't nearly as complicated as I thought it would be, and Evan seemed to like it. 

Evan also had his first "bath" at home this week. He definitely wasn't a fan, but I know it takes a while for this to become a fun activity. Still, we loved  dressing him up in his lion towel :). 

So, that's basically what we've been up to this week. We are having such a good time figuring out this parenting thing with the sweetest little boy imaginable.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Our Birth Story

To be honest, the birth of our son doesn't quite have the story I'd envisioned. Not remotely. And in some ways, even though meeting our son stands as one of the most powerful and amazing moments of my life, it was a bit of rough journey to get there. But, I really want to remember it all. The highs and the lows, because every single moment brought us this sweet, amazing, unbelievable boy. Unsurprisingly, this is long. Really, really long. After all, I was technically in labor over 4 days (Thursday through Sunday), so there's lots of ground to cover. However, you're welcome to scroll through the pictures if you can't handle the full story :).

The last thing I shared on the blog was that it was decided I was going to be induced. This happened around 10:30am Thursday morning, and by 3:30 that afternoon, I had been given Cervidil. This drug doesn't cause contractions, but rather gets your body "ready" to be in labor. Considering when we started this process, my body hadn't really done anything to "prepare," things like Pitocin definitely wouldn't have been able to work. This was all so surreal, since we were counting on having at least 2 more weeks of the pregnancy. I was convinced the hospital visit was just a blip on the radar and that I'd be heading home soon, so to actually be starting the process that would end with a baby was very hard to absorb. Even thought I was struggling with all the not so fun end of pregnancy symptoms, I was still very happy to be pregnant and wasn't ready for that to end.

One of the hardest things with the induction process was that as soon as I was on induction medications, I was no longer allowed to get out of bed, besides using the bathroom, and I had to be on continuous monitoring. This meant that I had these belts going around me to check on my contractions and on the baby's heartbeat. I'd be on those monitors with more or less no breaks from Thursday afternoon until I delivered Sunday afternoon. By far, these were one of my least favorite parts of the process. Also, since my blood pressure was the whole reason I was in the hospital, that was being monitored at least every hour, and sometimes every 15 minutes.

The medication was slow to take affect, so the first afternoon wasn't too bad. Ed and I watched "Roman Holiday" and regular tv, willing my blood pressure to stay low and contractions to kick in. By around 9pm that night, we transitioned into real contraction land, and I was pretty miserable from then until around 3am, when the cervidil was taken out and the contractions died down.

My spot (with my million pillows) that first night of labor.

Friday, they decided to start me on cytotec, another medication to get my body ready for labor. I had made some really good progress that first night, and the hope was this would keep things going. Surprisingly, I didn't have any contractions on this medication, though I was reassured that contractions weren't necessarily the goal. I kept Ed at the hospital with me, just in case it became intense like Thursday night, but he wasn't really needed. Lots more TV and movie watching. On the plus side, since my blood pressure medication was working pretty well, I was allowed to take a "break" between each 4 hour dose of medication to come off the monitors. After no bathing for over two days, I took a shower on each break, and we went for a short walk.  These breaks were by far the highlights of the next 16 hours and were incredibly mentally helpful. 

Each walk would take us to this tree at the end of the garden, and back.

The silver lining of no contractions was that Ed and I were also able to catch up on some rest. The first two nights, I didn't sleep more than 2 hours each night, so I was really dragging and worried about energy for labor. 

At around 7pm, I finished my last dose of cytotec, and was checked for progress. My midwife was happy with the progress I made, so we were moved onto our third induction drug - pitocin. Her strategy was the start very low and slow, to hopefully mimic a natural labor, and help my body react positively. 

I got some mild contractions, but not much, so my midwife made a suggestion that was music to our ears. We could get out of bed! Granted, since I was still hooked up to monitors and an IV, it wasn't exactly total freedom, but it was still great. 

She recommended Ed fix my hair for me, so that I could feel more "in the game" (we had told her about our running background and comparison of ultramarathons to labor).

Then, she encouraged me to put on some real clothes. I'd brought a sports bra for the super active natural labor we were planning, so it was fun to throw that and a skirt on after living in a gown for days. We were having some issues with the monitors, so Janice (our midwife) found this fabric tube top type thing that I could wear that held the monitors better. We kept this up for about an hour, and it was fantastic. 

Of course, we eventually had to move back to bed, due to my blood pressure, but it was fun while it lasted. 

Once the pitocin had been cranked up to a 6, it was time to start some more drugs. Due to the stroke/seizure risk with preeclampsia, they wanted to start the magnesium. Magnesium, unfortunately, is a muscle relaxant, which makes it tricky when you're trying to get your body to have contractions, but it was a necessary evil. Luckily, I only had mild side effects from it - the promises of feeling like death were happily unfounded. Since I was GBS +, they also wanted to start the antibiotics, so that it wouldn't get passed onto the baby during delivery. 

Finally, Janice broached the introduction of a final drug - the epidural. Obviously, we weren't super into getting once, since our whole training was focused on doing things naturally. Plus, I wasn't in any pain at this point. However, a common side effect of an epidural was a drop in blood pressure. While my medication was generally working, this was a side effect my body really needed. So, at around 3 in the morning, the anesthesiologist arrived and gave me the epidural.

Once I had that, I had to only lay on my side, with a "peanut" (a large peanut shaped inflatable object) between my legs and was rotated once an hour. My pitocin was also upped by 2 each hour when my nurse came in. We were able to get a bit more sleep as we waited for things to kick in. 

Sunday morning was when things started to get real. Contractions started to kick in around 6am or so. Surprisingly (or maybe not if you know my background with medications) I was still in a fair amount of pain with the contractions. I was even starting to feel sick during some of them. My nurse was very sweet and kept trying to convince me to call for the  anesthesiologist to give me another epidural since "I shouldn't be suffering" and get a drip of zofran to help with the nausea. However, even though being in pain is never fun, it made me feel, at least a little, like I was in normal labor. Ed and I got to use of labor techniques to work through the contractions, and I focused incredibly hard at visualizing how the contractions were opening up my body and getting it ready to birth our baby. We finally had to explain to the nurse that we definitely weren't in this labor to be "comfortable" - we were trying to birth this baby. And adding more drugs in the mix would do nothing towards that goal. 

I got checked again around 10 am and we all cheered when we heard I was dilated to almost 7cm. I really want to remember that moment, because it was such a huge high. After nothing going right for most of this labor, here was a victory we could celebrate. People were starting to get a little less happy about how long I had been in labor, and this moment reassured everyone that I could do this. 

The pitocin had been briefly turned off, so it was turned back on and continued to increase. At the next check, I was up to 8cm, which wasn't quite as much growth as people wanted, but still good progress. I was just so thrilled that I was in "real" labor. My parents were, at this point, on their way and due to arrive soon, which was exciting. It really felt like we were going to have this baby. 

The next chunk of laboring was when things got a little weird. I was still having hard contractions, but I was losing my ability to visualize through them. Somehow they were just feeling less effective. After about an hour of this, my nurse was in fixing my monitor, which had moved (as it did a million times during labor), when suddenly a loud alarm started going off. 

Before I knew what what happening, a bunch of people flooded into the room and started flipping me this way and that, tilting my bed so that my head was much lower than my feet, and doing plenty else that I couldn't even process. As they were pushing me around, I heard them say that baby's heart rate had suddenly fallen into the 50s and wasn't doing well. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

It felt like an eternity, but was really about 30 seconds, and Evan's heart rate had gone back to normal, but the entire tone of my room had changed. Dr. Van Eken, the doctor on call who had taken me on, due to my preeclampsia, and Janice, told me that our baby just couldn't tolerate any more pitocin. I was checked and found I was almost completely dilated. However, they told me that they were concerned about our baby's ability to handle any more labor. I really appreciated how they explained everything and then left to give Ed and I a chance to discuss what we wanted to do. 

During the 20 or 30 minutes we were left, it was clear what our decision should be. I knew that the pushing phase could be hours and wasn't always easy on a baby. Plus, I also noticed that without the pitocin, my body was no longer contracting, and I didn't really think that it would start laboring again on its own. In perfect timing, my parents had shown up just after Evan's heart rate had dropped, and were there for emotional support as we made the decision to have a c-section. 

From the beginning, I knew that a c-section was a likely end result. I was trying to birth 2 weeks early, limited to being in bed due to extensive monitoring, and given drugs that worked against labor. But, spending that morning in active labor, I'd let myself believe that I really could have the labor I wanted. And honestly, while I was  a little sad in the moment about losing a non-surgical birth, in the moment I was more scared for our baby. I was scared that even with the c-section, he wouldn't be okay, that his heart rate would drop again. And I was scared for me. I'd never been in surgery before. Also, since the epidural didn't fully work, there was talk that I might have to be completely put under if the epidural for the c-section wasn't effective. 

But, our little baby had to come out, one way or another, so Ed was given some scrubs to put on, I said a tearful goodbye to my parents, and away we went to the operating room. That moment where we were leaving our room was really hard. I felt really sad that the moment when we knew we were going to be meeting our baby was one of fear and sadness rather than excitement. Ed was wonderful and did his best to be calming and reassuring to me. 

Leaving surgery, which is a much happier picture than being wheeled to surgery. 

In very little time, we arrived at the operating room. Ed had to stay in the recovery room next door until I was prepped, so from here I went on alone. My anesthesiologist was fantastic. He explained everything that was going on as people got things ready and was incredibly reassuring, promising to stay with me the whole time and be paying complete attention to me to make sure everything was okay and that I wasn't too scared. It took two doses of medication before I got numb (after the first one, I could still feel a little prick on my stomach that I think they used to test the effectiveness of the medication). Ed was allowed to join me and stood right about my shoulder. Just like you see in pictures, they had a big blue screen up to hide the view of what was going on. 

Before I knew it, they let me know they were going to begin. To keep me distracted, I had Ed tell me one of the relaxation stories we'd practiced in Bradley class. He began telling me to imagine walking through redwoods, feeling the soft dirt between my feet, as we climbed up the trails together. I felt lots of sensations of pressure and pulling and then, in what felt like no time, they told me they were pulling our baby out. 

A loud cry rang out into the air and as I looked up, a pink and white baby, covered in some blood, was being held up into the air. Our son. Evan. 

They immediately brought him over to me and put him up against my cheek. I asked if I could touch him and pulled my hand out from where it was under part of the screen and touched his beautiful face. Then, he was taken to the side table, where Ed cut the cord and he was cleaned up a little. 

He was also weighed, where we learned his impressive size!

Then, he was brought back over and laid on my chest for some skin to skin time while they finished the surgery. I remember him being so warm and wet and slippery, and I was so worried he would roll off. Ed was thankfully right there to hold him with me. It was so special being together as a family of 3 for the first time. Meeting our sweet son together. 

Once they were finished, they handed Evan to Ed and we all headed to the recovery room. 

Once we were in our new room, they placed him back on my chest. 

I wasn't feeling well to start, so after a few moments, I passed him back to Ed. 

And then it was my turn again. We got to figure out feeding for the first time, which was so special and surreal. We just couldn't get over the fact that this was really our baby. 

 A week later, it's still hard to believe that the pregnancy is over and we're onto this next beautiful phase as a family. Evan's official due date is Tuesday and he'll already be 9 days old. While his birth story is long and at times frustrating and painful, I wouldn't wish any of it away. Those 4 days gave us a chance to, first, prepare mentally for the early arrival of our son. But they also allowed Ed and me to be a team in the birth of our child and to feel involved in the process. While we don't know this, I like to think that being able to put my body through all the contraction and labor that I experienced help Evan to feel ready to come out, even though it was a c-section instead of a normal delivery. He came out happy and healthy, which was the goal the entire time.

And, as my midwife said, next time we can try for that labor we wanted :).

For now, we will just feel incredibly blessed that despite all the complications and interventions and medications, we came through everything okay. And now, a week later, it doesn't really matter how he got here.

All that matters is that he is here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Week in Pictures

Right now, I have a snuggly sleeping baby in my arms. Life couldn't be more wonderful. Here's a look into our first week! There are lots more pictures, but since certain people have been eager to see pictures of our little man, I thought I'd start with these :)

In the recovery room, right after Evan was born.

Very happy grandparents

Evan's first bath. He was not amused.

Dressing Evan in his first outfit. Looking just a little tired 

Evan and Ed in accidental matching outfits

Cuddling. My favorite activity ever.

More cuddling.

Evan's hearing test - he passed with flying colors!

Heading home, on day number 8 of my hospital stay. So, so happy to be leaving!

His first car ride!

Beautiful home decorations

Flowers from wonderful family. 

Enjoying his cousin Amelia's swing. So far, this is the winning place for sleeping. 

Going on a date! We took advantage of babysitters and decided to go out for a much looked forward to beer :). Evan did just fine without us, and us without him, but we certainly missed him!

Having our little one here with us is more wonderful than we could have imagined. He is by far the cutest baby in the world and it's hard to believe he's really ours. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Evan Thomas

Ed and I are beyond thrilled to share that we were given the best Easter present of all this year.

Evan Thomas was born at 2:19pm on April 20th. He was born weighing 9 lbs 13 oz and was 22.5 inches long. Clearly, arriving over a week early was not an issue for our little big guy. The labor story is definitely long, dramatic, and not remotely what we expected, but it gave us our wonderful little boy and it was exactly how he was supposed to come into this world. I'll be sharing the rest of the story later, but for now we are just beyond happy soaking in new parenthood.

Friday, April 18, 2014

And...We're Having a Baby!

Well, ready or not, it's baby time!

Even before I got all of my test results back on Thursday, my blood pressure numbers were scary enough that my midwife, in conjunction with my new doctor, decided that induction was the best option, regardless of whether I just had hypertension or I had pre-eclampsia.

Once my test results came back, it was incredibly clear that they had made the right call. I definitely have pre-eclampsia, and the only cure is to deliver your baby.

So, right now we're about 24 hours into the induction. Last night got very intense with my first medication, but they have switched me to a new one, which is much more mild. Ed has been with me since yesterday morning, and has been more than wonderful. He brought these beautiful decorations to made the room more special.

Evan's going home outfit, our photo book from our first year of marriage, framed pictures from our wedding, and beautiful daffodils. We got moved to a better room yesterday, and that's where we've been ever since!

I'm not going to lie, last night was much harder than I expected labor to be. The meds they gave me cause good contractions, but ones that didn't follow an actual pattern. That meant that sometimes I'd have 4 or 5 minutes or pretty intense contractions and no real breaks. Then, a minute later they would start up. Very thankfully, my blood pressure started doing much better, so by early morning, they let me disconnect from all my monitors in 40 minute chunks and shower/use a birth ball. 

They switched me to a different medication this morning, which hasn't done as much for my contractions, but did allow me to nap for almost 4 hours, which, after 2 nights of just a few hours of sleep, was heavenly. It's also why I can write a blog post - if only all of labor could be done with contractions this mild. 

I'm definitely a little nervous about hitting active labor. The contraction pain, plus the fact that I'll be given magnesium which, as put by my midwife, is a drug "that makes you feel like death so that you don't die" since pre-eclampsia can cause strokes. Plus I'll be getting my antibiotics for the group B strep. 

But, we do need to have this baby on the sooner side, since even though Evan is doing awesome and my blood pressure has been really good since I started meds, my other numbers are still climbing, which means I am getting sicker and I need to deliver. 

So, ready or now, we should be meeting our son by the end of this weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Well, this was unexpected...

Guess where I am? Does this give you a hint?

No, I'm not having the baby (at least I hope not). However, at my routine appointment this morning, my body decided to suck and give a couple crazy high blood pressure readings (plus a couple other problematic symptoms), so off to labor and delivery I was sent. Things remained high and that, plus some slightly elevated other numbers, won me a 24 hour(ish) stay here at the hospital.

This was definitely not how I was expecting my first overnight hospital stay to go. Since there's nothing really happening right now, besides hourly blood pressure checks and baby checks every 4 hours, we decided that it wasn't necessary for Ed to stay with me. He came to visit after work (and bring me my PJs, some snacks, and some other goodies) which was really nice. I was given permission to be wheeled down to the healing garden, which was really lovely.

It was a perfect temperature outside, since the sun had just ducked behind the building. We parked in front of the fountain for a while and just sat and talked, in part about how we would feel to become parents sooner rather than later.

After sitting for a while, we discovered that the pathway kept going and went all the way to the end where we found this very cool tree sculpture. 

Eventually, it was time to head back upstairs so that I could have dinner and get tested, and Ed could head off. I'll admit, it's a little lonely here, but I have a tv with plenty of shows (I'm watching "Singing in the Rain" right now), my laptop, and my kindle, so I'll be fine. My nurse all day was just wonderful. Her name was Pam, and she got my everything I could possibly need. She even made me a "mocktail" of orange juice, cranberry juice, and a bit of ginger ale, that was just lovely. I have a new one now, Michelle, who also seems nice, but a bit more business-y.

Hopefully, my numbers will come back okay tomorrow and they'll decide I can go home and let Evan cook a while longer. There is also the chance that tomorrow may be the day things get put in motion to meet our son. I can't say that Ed or I feel totally ready for that option- it just feels like Evan needs more time to grow, and mentally, we were expecting to have a few more weeks. I did just check our "to do list" and we did get pretty much the whole thing done, so I guess we are technically ready, even if we don't feel it. I trust our medical team and know they will make the right choice for Evan and for me. Even if things are okay tomorrow, the doctor who visited earlier said that they may want me to deliver sooner rather than later (i.e. 39 to 40 weeks).

So, we may not get the labor experience we imagined. Instead of laboring at home (at 41ish weeks like we've been told to expect), we may be looking at being induced before Evan is even due. I am trusting that things will work out the way it should, and that everything will be okay. We love this little boy so much and getting him here safely is the primary concern. So, if that means we meet him tomorrow, or next week, or whenever he chooses to come, that is just fine with us.

Sunset out of my room's window