January 28, 2014

Sunday was a really great day

Maybe it was just the fact that we (other than Jeremy) got out of the house for the first time in almost a week, but Sunday was a really great day. We weren't as late to church as we have been the past two weeks (getting anywhere on time with two kids is next to impossible fyi), Sacrament meeting was great, Sunday school was phenomenal and YWs gave me a lot of personal insight I hadn't known I needed. It was just a great day. Then we came home and the kids both took great naps, I got to take a nap for like two hours (it was much needed), and Jeremy made a delicious turkey dinner almost all by himself. I really didn't help that much. It was pretty much thanksgiving in January. We had ended up with a frozen turkey we really didn't need so we finally decided to clear our the freezer! There's so much room in there now. We got to skype with my in-laws and I got to finish off the day curled up with my husband and baby. Madeline would have been even better of course, but she doesn't do much curling up and holding still, and she was in bed ;)

This is starting to feel really scatter brained and random, but I just want to remember what a great day Sunday was. I love Sundays, I love spending time with my family, and life is good - crazy and hectic - but good.

January 24, 2014

miss madeline

Life with this girl keeps getting better and better. She's so smart and she keeps us on our toes. Jeremy and I were just working on making dinner in the kitchen and I'd forgotten she was nearby (she was very quietly playing with stickers in the other room. Let's not talk about how the couch is currently covered in stickers...that's another story). Anyway, I was telling Jeremy how I was thinking about making out with him today while he was at school, you know, just some playful flirting, we're married, it's ok :) And all of a sudden we hear this little laugh followed by,"What are you talking about mommy, daddy..." Like she totally knew and she's caught us red handed.  What a cutie.

January 19, 2014

luke jeremy

[photos of Luke just 10 days old]

Jeremy will tell you that almost as soon as I know we're having a baby I'll bring up names. I can't help it. I'm a dreamer and I love daydreaming about different names and how they'll fit into our family. Jeremy pretty much rolls his eyes every time, especially when it's still four months until we even know if we're having a boy or a girl. What he doesn't know is I daydream about the names of our future kids all the time, so he should be grateful I don't bring that up more often ;) 

We had quite the list of boy names we liked, but kind of decided we weren't going to decide until down the road; maybe not even until we were in the hospital holding him for the first time. I always liked the idea of meeting the baby and then deciding. 

Not long after we found out we were having a boy, however, we were in the Temple doing an Endowment session. We hadn't gone to the Temple with the intent to know his name, but we came out knowing without a doubt what his name was. It was a really beautiful experience and one I'm excited to share with Luke someday. 

I think most of all I loved having such a powerful understanding of his middle name. We had talked on numerous occasions, even before we knew Luke was coming, about how difficult Jeremy's name is to use as a middle name. I think we'd kind of agreed we probably wouldn't ever use it just because we didn't like the way it flowed with most first names. But as I was sitting there in the Temple, knowing our tiny baby would be Luke and realizing how perfectly Jeremy fit together with Luke, I was completely overcome with a new love for my amazing husband, the father of my children. I realized how much I wanted our son to have a part of his dad with him always. To have a part of the man who gave him life and the man who was going to be an honorable example to him for the duration of his life. I love Jeremy so much and I hope my kids always know that. Especially Luke. It was a sweet experience for me to share all these thoughts and feelings with Jeremy in the Celestial room.

We chose together not to share Luke's name until he was born. It was a sacred experience learning his name and it was special to share it just between the two of us. Some people gave us a hard time for it, but I'm still glad we got to keep it between the two of us as husband and wife and as Luke's parents.

People talk about how you fall more in love with your spouse when you watch them become a parent, and that is certainly true, but I fell even more in love with Jeremy watching him with his son; a son who is named after him. It's been a special thing to watch and I look forward watching their relationship  grow.

birth story

Alright you patient people, all blessed ten of you :) I'm not sure I remembered everything perfectly, but even if I'd written it the day after he came I don't think it would be perfect. So better late than never, here it goes. Fair warning, it's quite the novel.

We got to the hospital right at 2:30pm. It took us a couple minutes to find our way from the parking garage to labor & delivery, but we did eventually make it. The receptionist checked us in and then had us wait in a lobby area for a nurse to take us back. I was about to head to the bathroom when the charge nurse (also named Sarah) took us back to our room. 833... I think.  I'm so bad. It doesn't really matter though, does it? Of course I had grand plans of taking lots of pictures of the delivery room and the number outside the room, etc., but in the moment my creativity was pretty absent and I could care less. 

Anyway, we got to our room and I was so pleased by how clean and open it was. Huge room! They asked me for a urine sample and I remember thinking thank goodness I didn't just go to the bathroom and also, LAST TIME GIVING A URINE SAMPLE! hoo-rah.

I changed into the oh so flattering hospital gown. It took a while because my contractions were fairly close together, but I enjoyed being able to hang/squat on the sink in the bathroom.

The midwife on call, Kathryn O'Brien (Katie), came in to say hi. Such a big difference than with an OB (at least our OB with Madeline; we didn't see any doctors until he came in to break my water an hour and a half before she was born. And he barely made it to catch her). They hooked me up to the monitors to listen to his heart and track contractions for about twenty minutes.  While those were on the nurse made an attempt to place an IV port on my right arm. I'm really no wuss when it comes to needles, but oh my goodness that hurt. It was so much more painful than I'd ever remembered a needle feeling... and it didn't take. So she moved on to the other arm and thank goodness it worked. Still painful, but at least it was over. Katie also checked my cervix and I was at a 6! yay! Everything looked good so they let me off the monitors and left us alone.

I suppose now is a good time to mention that my birth plan with Luke was quite a bit different from my plan with Madeline. Giving birth to Madeline was a beautiful experience and I don't think I would change a thing even if I had the choice. It seemed to be right for us then and it resulted in a healthy and happy girl, which is all we ultimately wanted. But as I looked forward to Luke's birth I was much more open to other more natural options, mostly because I wanted more out of his birth. I hated being strapped to the bed through all of Madeline's labor. There were monitors on me constantly, a pitocin drip/IV, catheter because I couldn't pee by myself... an epidural at the end... it felt like I was literally chained to the bed by all the medical equipment. Also with Madeline a lot of choices were made for us, in part I think because we really hadn't done much research and we didn't have much of a plan other than, "If it hurts we'd like an epidural asap." Looking back I wish I hadn't let them give me pitocin right away, or I wish we had at least had a discussion about what was going on and what options we did have. But regardless, it's in the past and Madeline is healthy and that's that.

Looking forward, however, I did a lot of reading, talked to friends who had given birth naturally and really jumped on board pretty quickly. I decided I wanted to commit to it at least for this birth. I knew I'd regret not giving it a try. The more I learned the more I was drawn to the concept of my body knowing what to do and working with Luke's body to achieve such an overwhelmingly beautiful goal. The three books that I got the most out of were Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, The Husband Coached Childbirth and The Yoga Birth Method.  I'd recommend any of them, but I definitely enjoyed The Yoga Birth Method most. For me, at least, it gave me the most tools for actually being in labor. But the other two were helpful as well.

After they left us the contractions still weren't too bad. Jeremy and I played a round of Monopoly Deal. I was sitting 'indian style' on the bed facing him with a table between us. During each contraction I had to jump up and just not be sitting. It was a pretty long game. It wasn't comfortable to sit, but I guess it wasn't much better standing, it just felt better to be doing something, I think. A couple times I hugged Jeremy's neck during the contractions and that felt good. Maybe we should have done more of that.

After the first round I really didn't want to play anymore. Jeremy rolled out the yoga mat and I did some of the yoga poses I had practiced. That helped a lot but most of the moves were on my hands and knees and my wrists and knees got tired after a while. I had Jeremy go out to the car to get the exercise ball we'd borrowed from some friends (thanks Larsens!) One of the midwives had said they had a couple balls but occasionally they didn't have as many as they needed so she suggested bringing one to leave in the car just incase. I'm so glad I thought to ask to borrow theirs last minute. It felt really good to just sit on the ball. I'm thinking that was about 4:00? 5:00? I'm afraid I didn't pay very close attention to time. All I remember is I kept looking at the clock and I couldn't believe how fast time was going by, which wasn't what I had expected. I thought time would drag by and the minutes would feel like months.

After I'd been sitting on the ball for a while the midwife came back in to put the monitors on for a little while. She had a portable monitor which was nice because I could keep sitting on the ball. Katie and I talked for a while about lots of different stuff. She's young and just has two kids so it kind of felt like I was just chatting it up with a friend. Worked well as a distraction :) Funny enough, I wasn't her only patient scheduled to be induced that night and the other patient had gone into labor on her own, too. Luckily (for me) I was progressing much faster so she'd go and check on the other patient but really hung out in our room since I was further along and it was my second. Katie told me there were some relaxing programs on the tv that she had used when she gave birth. It sounded nice, so she turned them on for me. They weren't quite as great as I'd hoped, but it was still refreshing.

Another thing I loved about this labor vs. with Madeline was they were all about me staying super hydrated so they kept bringing me drinks! Whereas with Madeline they only let me have ice chips. Every half hour they'd ask me what else I wanted to drink. Wish I'd kept track of how many big cups of apple juice and water I drank. Of course that meant I had to go to the bathroom a lot, but they wanted that, too. Definitely a perk of going natural, though!

I can't remember why I got back on the bed, but I did end up there again. Maybe the contractions were getting stronger? I don't know. I was feeling a LOT of pressure though, so Katie decided to check my cervix again.  Pretty sure she said I was at a 9.5 then. She also said my sack of water was really low? Which explained all the pressure. I'm pretty sure it was 6:30 or 7:00 then. I remember getting a surge of energy feeling like we were almost to the end and going to be meeting Luke soon. There was some discussion about the option to break my water so probably hurray things along, but I was very mindful of how much more painful the contractions were after the doctor broke my water with Madeline so I asked that we hold off, which they were totally ok with. The nurse set up the table with all the delivery equipment just to be ready.

Katie went to check on her other patient again, she was pretty concerned about not being there when I was ready to push so she was quick. The adrenaline kept coming and so did the excitement. At about 7:30 I remember thinking,"We're going to have a baby by 8:00!!!" But around 8:00 the contractions started coming further apart. They were still PLENTY strong, but not as close together. By that point my energy was gone and I was just exhausted and so ready to be done.

I laid over on my side and held Jeremy's hand really tightly. He was stroking my hair which felt really good. I felt ok between contractions but during each one I just couldn't relax. It was hard. It was not that 'beautiful bodies-working-together/my body was made to do this' feeling I had imagined. It hurt, I was dizzy and nauseous and uncomfortable. During each contraction I begged Jeremy for an epidural (pretty sure it was too late even if he'd have let me. We had a conversation before we got to the hospital about how he wasn't going to let me give in). And I'm so glad he didn't, even if at the time I felt a little, not angry with him, but like, "Oh easy for you to say no, you're not feeling anything." He stayed really calm and just kept saying positive things, which I was really grateful for, and even more grateful for in hindsight. I just now realized I never saw his face through the worst of it. My eyes were closed or staring at his hands around mine. Several days later as we talked about the birth, pros/cons he opened up and told me how hard it was for him to watch me go through all that pain. I'm grateful he let me, though. I really don't know how people do this (labor or parenting) alone. I'm so blessed to have such a great partner by my side. Love that guy.

Alright moving on from all the mushy stuff, where were we... oh yeah, the longest hour and a half of my life. I kid you not. It was hard. Probably because I thought I was almost done and then I wasn't... Around 9:20 (I think) Katie decided it was time to break my water (I think she knew I needed a little shove to get the deed done - and she was right). That has to be one of the strangest feelings. That flood of warmth... not my favorite. After that I don't remember the contractions being too much more painful, but they were still painful and picking up a little in frequency. I was so hot and sweaty after that. I asked Jeremy to get a hair tie out of the bag and he couldn't find one. I knew I'd put about ten in there, but I couldn't remember exactly where. Eventually the nurse let me know she had a new one in her fanny pack (yessssss!) My hair was a hot mess but I didn't care. It was off my neck.

The pressure was intense. I was so uncomfortable but didn't feel like moving. The idea of squatting sounded nice but it literally felt impossible. Like a bowling ball was between my legs! I know why people say that now. I had to be sitting facing forward, somewhat reclined when she broke my water and I hadn't moved since. I was not in a good pushing position and I knew it, but I couldn't figure out how to do anything different. She asked if I wanted to lay on my side to push but that didn't sound great. I mentioned that squatting sounded kind of nice and with that she pushed a couple buttons and the lower half of the bed moved down and the upper half sat more straight up. Does that make sense? So I was pretty much in a supported squat. Still didn't feel ideal, but I don't know that anything feels ideal at this stage of labor.

She kept asking if I wanted to push but I never felt "the urge". I don't know if I imagined a stronger urge than I'd ever feel or what but time kept passing and the contractions kept coming and we still didn't have a baby. Finally about 9:38 I was like, "Can I push yet?" and Katie said,"You can push whenever you want!" (So different from with Madeline when I was ready to push and knew it and the nurse asked me to wait because the doctor wasn't there yet). I still don't know that I ever felt that 'urge', maybe I was just really ready to be done. Either way I was ready to go and didn't really want to wait for anything. So I pretty much started pushing and Katie told Jeremy to call the nurse who happened to be out of the room for the first time in the last three hours. Jeremy called and said, "We're pushing". As the nurse was walking in, Katie reached in to feel how close his head was and it was just the distance of her finger tip to his head. I pushed a couple times and then as Jeremy says,"The screaming began". It's true, I was screaming like in a movie. You know, all those cheesy "hollywood deliveries"? That was me. Which is ironic because I made fun of those after having Madeline. Epidurals do have some perks ;)

Katie kept telling me how close I was and that I was almost done. I could feel his head almost out but it just felt like there was no way he would ever be able to fit through. I remember her telling me to relax and loosen up a little more and then his head was out. She told me to reach down and feel his head. I did and it was such a strange feeling. He was so slimy. She told me to give another good push and his shoulders were out and the rest of him pretty much just flopped out. Relief. I was done.

They put Luke right on my stomach. At that point I was so exhausted, I could hardly believe it had just happened. 9:41 and our little mister was here. I was really tired. I'd show you the pictures of him right on me because it really shows just how tired I was, but they aren't too terribly modest... I wanted to pull him up more on my chest but when I started to they told me not to because the placenta wasn't out yet and so the cord was tight. She clamped it and asked Jeremy if he wanted to cut it, which he did. We pulled off what was left of that hospital gown and Luke was finally up on my chest. He was so beautiful but I was a little concerned that he wasn't crying more. The nurses were checking on him and suctioning out all that gunk and he finally gave a few little cries. I kept thinking he was going to fall off of me because I was just so tired I felt like if he rolled I wouldn't be able to catch him. My arms felt so heavy to lift around him.

They draped those wonderful warm blankets on us. One of the nurses told me,"Everybody should have a blanket warmer in their house." And I couldn't agree more. Those things are magical. Then my placenta came out and it felt really good. After pushing a baby out the placenta almost felt like a massage. Is that weird? I think I even said,"Oh that felt so good!" Katie told me I hadn't torn at all and I was kind of ridiculously happy about that. No stitches for me! Another fun little fact, my placenta came out with my amniotic sac completely in tact. Katie thought it was pretty cool.
It hadn't been too long and we got Luke to nurse. He nursed on one side then the other and back to the first. 45 minutes! He was just really alert and I couldn't believe how smoothly our first nursing went. I was really grateful for the help the nurse and midwife gave me. They gave helpful tips and talked me through it instead of doing it for me. They didn't shove my breast into his mouth like Madeline's nurse...

During that time he was nursing we admired how beautiful he was and talked about how amazing it was that he was actually here. His left ear was really flat and kind of resembled an elf ear (it's since regained a normal shape). There was a nurse in there the entire time but she wasn't intruding on us at all.

After he was done eating I decided it was about time Jeremy got to hold his son... but when we lifted up the blanket we discovered Luke had pooped the lovely tar poop all over both of us. Somehow he coated both sides of the two blankets on us so there really wasn't an easy way for Jeremy to hold Luke without getting it all over his clothes.

But the nurse was ready to weigh him, measure him and do all that other stuff. He was 9lbs even and 20.75" long. She said his APGAR score was really good, I didn't think to ask what it was though. She cleaned him up a little and wrapped him up and gave him to Jeremy. Jeremy finally got to hold his son. What a patient guy (he did get to hold Madeline before me, though ;)

The nurse helped clean me up a bit and helped me get into a clean robe. It was so nice to be able to WALK! It was several hours before the epidural wore off enough for me to walk after having Madeline. We gathered up our stuff and she wheeled us up a couple floors to our room.
Had you asked me that day if I'd do it (naturally) again I'd have hesitated. The first five hours were great, not like a walk in the park, but very manageable. But that last hour and a half was brutal. The only other experience I can compare it to was hiking back from Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon. It's a ten mile hike to the most beautiful waterfall. I backpacked it with some of my family in high school. The hike back was alright until the last mile. All switchbacks to make it up 2000 feet in elevation. One mile, 2000 feet! I just remember feeling like it would never end and I'd die on the side of that cliff. But I made it. I'm pretty sure I thought the car was more beautiful than the waterfall.  

I made it through those last contractions, too. It was hard, but I'm glad I did it. It's amazing how your  mind has a way of sweeting memories. Even now at 3 weeks I've already decided I'd go natural again. There were just too many great things. Like being able to move during, drink water, walk right after and Luke was so alert right after he was born. Plus the care we got from the midwife practice, the whole pregnancy, really, but especially in the hospital.

I overheard the midwife talking to the nurse soon after Luke was born. She kept talking about how well I handled labor (which with my screaming I had to laugh at..) but overall how my body was just "made to have babies". It's nice to hear that. Glad to know these big hips are good for something ;)

Mostly I'm just so happy that we ended up with a beautiful baby boy. Luke has slipped seamlessly into our family. We're all still a little sleep deprived, but I'm glad to know it won't last forever :) 

January 7, 2014

a pre-birth story

Well it's high time I write down the birth story of our little mister. I think though we're going to need the "pre" story just like with Madeline. I have a lot to share... sorry :)

Luke was due on December 18, 2013, our third anniversary and the middle of Jeremy's finals week. Since Madeline had come five days early it never even crossed my mind that we might have one more Christmas as a family of three. I had spent the past several months daydreaming of snuggling with a brand new baby boy Christmas morning. Luke had a stocking (and lots to fill it with), Christmas jammies to match his daddy's, and presents under the tree from his grandparents. 

Leading up to his due date we didn't know if we should hope for him to come before finals week or after. Not that it really matters what you hope for, babies come when they want to, but it's hard not to imagine every possible scenario and dream and wonder and anticipate such an exciting event! But regardless, we KNEW we'd have a baby by Christmas...

I had dilated to a one a couple weeks before my due date, similar to where I was with Madeline, but then the weeks kept coming and the contractions weren't coming and it became clear he wouldn't be early.

His due date came and went, but we were still pretty sure he'd be here any day. On Monday the 23rd I had a midwife appointment and since I'd passed 40 weeks they sent me to the hospital downtown to have a routine ultrasound. They hooked me up to a monitor for about half an hour and I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to have NO contractions that entire time. Boo. So they scheduled me for another appointment on Thursday to do the same thing.

Then it was Christmas eve and I found myself just hoping and praying he wouldn't come Christmas day. I know people share their birthday with Christmas and it works out, but I really didn't want for him to go through that. We had a wonderful Christmas and a delicious dinner at a friends house, but the whole time I kept thinking, "I can't believe I'm still pregnant!" It wasn't so much that I was (that) tired of being pregnant, if I had been under the impression I wasn't due for another two weeks I would have been fine, I was just SO CONVINCED he'd be early so I was kind of in shock that we were already to 41 weeks. But he didn't come on Christmas, and I can't tell you what a huge sigh of relief I let out at about 11:00 that night.

It came to our attention as the due date passed that there was in fact a chance he could come after the new year, which for insurance and tax purposes and wasn't gonna fly. At my last midwife appointment I had mentioned that I really wanted to be induced before the new year was upon us. They scheduled me to be induced 10:00 Saturday night.

The day after Christmas I went in for more monitoring. Everything was still fine and I had a couple slight contractions, but really nothing... I had kind of started accepting that I might in fact be induced. It was hard to accept that because I had big plans this time around for a natural birth and I didn't think I'd be able to handle all natural with pitocin strength contractions and not having the freedom to move like I wanted.

Friday night as Jeremy and I were cuddled up on the couch watching the West Wing (yes... yes I know...) I had a few of the strongest contractions I'd had so far. After one rather strong one Luke went crazy inside of me. He was kicking and punching and moving around like never before. We went to bed thinking about how nice it would be for him to come on his own, but our hopes weren't too high.

I had several contractions during the night but not close enough together to warrant much attention. Saturday morning we had a big list of things to do before going to the hospital that night. We cleaned and packed and showered and all the while my contractions started coming closer and closer together. Timing contractions is exhausting...

I texted our wonderful friends the Larsens (who were planning to come stay with Madeline that night so we could check into the hospital to be induced) just letting them know there might be a chance he was coming on his own and we'd need them sooner, but I was so stressed about being wrong... Maybe it's dumb of me, but that's the worse part for me. The 'when to go to the hospital' dilemma. Still the contractions were getting stronger and closer together. I could walk and talk through most of them so we decided to take Madeline for a walk to the park. She'd been asking all morning and it was a beautiful day! Like Madeline was running around without a jacket.
Finally I decided we should at least head home and call the midwife. I gave her a call and we pretty much discussed everything I already knew. That I didn't want to come in too early but Madeline came pretty fast and we also didn't want Luke to be born in the car... It was about noon and she suggested we meet her at the hospital at 2:30 but to call her immediately if things picked up much more. She also agreed to start inducing me at 2:30 if it didn't seem as though I was in active labor. With that promise I felt good calling the Larsens to come over because that way if I wasn't in labor we wouldn't have to make the walk of shame home from the hospital just for a couple hours. So we gave them a call and they came over about 2:00. We showed them around, hugged and kissed sweet Madeline and headed off to the hospital. One way or another we were finally going to meet this baby boy!!!