Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Miss About Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with both Danielle and Eleanor, I was so excited to be done with pregnancy. But after giving birth, I missed being pregnant. (Talk about a catch-22.) With Danielle, the main reason was that when she was inside me, she was alive, and I knew she was. I was keeping her alive and safe. With Eleanor, I have found other reasons to miss being pregnant, and I wanted to list them here, so that next time around I can come back and read all of the joyous things about being pregnant that you really don't get once the child is born, so that I'm not so anxious to have the baby. I'm sure I'll keep adding to it as time goes, but here's a start...

1. Showering without hearing a screaming baby and starting to leak milk.
2. Not loosing all your hair.
3. No zits!
4. Getting out the door quicker.
5. Not waking up in the middle of the night to feed a baby (you're constantly feeding them and you don't even have to wake up for it!)
6. To go along with that... sleep!
7. Time to not just remove the old paint from your toenails, but actually put new nail polish on them too... if you can reach, that is.
8. Don't wake up wondering what you slept on, and find a nuk wedged in your side.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Eleanor's Birth Story

After I wrote the post about what I thought might be the beginning of Eleanor's birth story, and, at the time, I figured it probably wasn't. But, looking back, that's when my early labor started...

************* the continuation *************

Trying to write times in the dark
I can't remember now if it was Sunday night or Monday night, but either way, I woke up feeling some contractions. They weren't that bad, and I was able to fall asleep right away after each one. But after I felt a couple, I thought I better start timing them. So I grabbed a little piece of paper from my dresser and a pencil from Adam's, and set them on the bed next to me with my cell phone. I wasn't really timing how long each one lasted, but I was timing how long between each one. Times varied, but they were between 10 and 15 minutes apart. I was getting excited, as I thought that we might be heading to the hospital later that day. But I knew that I should try to sleep, as I would need the energy later to push her out of me. 

Eventually, we got up for the day and I told Adam I was having contractions throughout the night. As we got up and started the day, my contractions pretty well stopped. Our bags were still in the car (sans a couple things that we needed back in the house), but when we had gone in, we thought of a couple more things to add to it, so we threw them in as well. I told Adam that I didn't think it was going to be today, but I wished it would be.

We went to bed that night, and sure enough, I was woken up by contractions again. They still weren't that bad, and I was able to just breath through them. I decided not to time them this time though, because I found I got less sleep when I was worrying about watching the clock. When we got up for the day again, my contractions slowed and stopped. Again, I knew that it wasn't going to be today. This happened a couple more nights. 

Adam's recording sheet
Thursday morning though, they didn't slow and actually got a little closer together. Some were even lasting more than a minute. My doula, Ashley, had left her birth ball for me to use at home. I made myself comfortable on the birth ball bouncing or rocking/rolling on it and set my laptop on one of our bar stools and messed around on the computer between and often during contractions. At this point I was very excited thinking that today might be the day. I would tell Adam when I felt one starting and he would write down the time and I would watch the second hand on the mantel clock (we got it from my Aunt Carla as a wedding gift) and let him know how long it lasted. They ranged from 5 minutes to 12 minutes apart. 

After an hour of timing, we took a break. I texted Ashley and told her the timing and how I was doing. She told me to start timing again if I felt they were getting "longer, stronger, & closer together." Around 3pm I told Adam that they seemed to be going away again, so he timed a couple, and sure enough they were about 20 minutes apart.

At some point during the day, we were invited over to Joshua & Macey's for dinner and a game of Catan with them, Matt, Dave, & Theresa. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go if I was still having contractions, as they were getting stronger than the ones I was having in the middle of the night. I eventually decided we could go, because I figured it wouldn't be tomorrow either, and that my body would just keep playing mean tricks on me. 

Matt of course wanted to squeeze her out of me, and everyone was hoping I would have her soon. I told them I was having contractions during the day for a change, but they weren't getting "longer, stronger, and closer together." Adam had brought the birth ball with, because it was more comfortable for me to sit on, so we ate dinner (me on the birth ball, rolled up to the table) and played Catan. Every once in a while I would have a contraction. Some were worse than others. I remember at one point, asking Dave a question about some rule of the game or something, and he answered me. I had no idea what he said because a contraction had started, but I looked at him the whole time nodding my head like I understood.

The game went way later than any of us had expected and we ended up leaving at 11pm. We quickly crawled in bed and went to sleep when we got home. Of course, I was woken up with contractions again. This time I would rub my belly and breath through them. They were starting to feel like the really bad period cramps I would get once in a while in middle school and high school (when I would have to get sent home, because they were so bad). 

Just before 1am, my contractions woke Adam up. I hadn't been paying attention to the clock at all still, thinking that they weren't that close together or anything. But, Adam started timing them, and pushing on my lower back when I was having one. After about an hour of timing, Adam told me that we should go in, they were 5 minutes apart, and some were even 3 minutes apart. Having not really slept much yet, I was hesitant to get out of bed, but I knew he was right in saying that it was time to go in. Adam put in his contacts and got dressed. I grabbed my contacts, but wore my glasses and got dressed. 

The car ride there wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, it wasn't comfortable sitting strapped into the seat, but it was manageable. I texted Ashley and told her we were heading in, she said that she would meet us there. We got to the emergency room door and the nurse offered me a wheelchair, and I declined, I felt better standing. We waited for Adam to park the car and she brought us up the elevator, telling me, "Oh hunny, we'll get you that epidural, and you'll be fine!" (I'm glad she didn't work on the maternity floor!) We officially signed into the hospital at 1:45am and were brought to our room. I will say that I had absolutely no concept of time at all until they told me what time she was born. Ashley arrived shortly after we got there, and then Adam went out to get our bags and stuff.

I gave the nurse my birth plan, and was hooked up to the IV (I needed an antibiotic since I tested positive for Group B Strep) and monitors. Originally, I was told they would do an initial hour of monitoring, and then do it periodically throughout labor. Apparently, they needed my doctor to sign off on that, so I was hooked up to the monitors the whole time. 

When the nurse put the IV in, before she started the saline, she drew some blood so that I wouldn't have to get stuck again later. Well, that didn't work out as planned, because later a lab tech came in and said she needed to draw my blood. I told her the nurse did it when she put in the IV, but she said she needed more for  blood typing or something. I told her only my left arm (the veins in my right suck). So she came around to my left side, and tried to grab my arm in the middle of a contraction. I said wait, but she wrapped the rubber band around without waiting. Once the contraction was over I grabbed a pillow to prop up my arm, and she got more impatient, after wiping my arm with the alcohol wipe for the second time. Then another contraction started and she tried to take my blood during it, but I pulled away, and she got kind of pissed. Finally, she took it and wiggled the needle around to find a vein. This is the only time during labor that I started crying. Not only did she leave a bruise on my arm, but there was a welt as well. I wish we remembered her name, as when I told a couple of the nurses about it later, they wanted to know who. They said most lab techs are smart enough to not draw blood during a contraction. 

Later, they did hook me up to the portable monitors, so I was able to move around more. Adam and Ashley helped me labor in different positions. We went for a short walk around the hallways, I sat on the birth ball, leaned over the ball on the bed, and other positions. At every contraction Adam and sometimes Ashley would push on my back (I was having some back labor and it felt amazing!). 

At one point, I decided that I just needed to sit on the bed. So I made myself comfortable, and closed my eyes. I rubbed my belly pretty much the whole time and Adam or Ashley would push on my back. I would point "up/ down/ left/ right" for Adam to move his hand. Eventually, I started rocking front to back, still rubbing my belly with my eyes closed. I was completely aware of what was going on around me. The pain was still manageable using the coping techniques we had learned. But I was exhausted. I would mumble things that Adam would mostly understand, but Ashley and any docs or nurses had no idea what I was saying. 

Side story: For whatever reason, when we are getting ready for bed at night, Adam or I always end up asking each other a question when the other has a toothbrush or mouth wash in his/her mouth. The other always tries to answer with mumbles and hand gestures, while the other usually figures it out pretty quickly. I think this might have helped Adam understand me.

Adam later told me that they all thought I was delirious, and that one of the nurses commented that she "does this 5 days a week, but has never seen anyone this exhausted." 

Ashley and Adam had been trying to get me into another position to help labor progress, but I wasn't having it. They suggested laying down, but the contractions hurt more if I was laying down or even leaning back. So I continued to rock and rub my belly with my eyes still closed. Eventually, a nurse (I believe Jessica, but really have no idea) got me to change positions. She moved the head of the bed so it was almost straight up and had me kneel and lean over it. Adam kneeled behind me and would continue pushing on my back during contractions. I used him as support to keep me from crumpling down, as I could barely muster the energy to hold myself up on the edge of the bed. 

I told Adam after a little bit in this new position (in what I thought was a perfectly clear sentence, but was apparently more mumbles that he managed to understand) that I didn't think I would have the energy to push her out and that I thought I should have an epidural. Adam talked to the nurse for me and told her what I had said. She said that we would try Fentenol (which is one of the drugs in an epidural) in my IV first. It would relieve some of the pain for a little bit and let me get some rest, but they would only give me two doses, because it would loose its effectiveness. We agreed to try that out and try to avoid the epidural. 

Once it went into my IV, I almost immediately felt relaxed. We got the bed almost completely flat and I laid on my side to rest. I could still feel the contractions, but they felt like they did the first night I started early labor, so I was easily able to rest my body. I didn't fall asleep, and could hear everything going on around me, but had no ambition to participate. When Adam would walk in the room, I would open my eyes to find him, so he decided to spend most of his time in the waiting room with my mom, in hopes of letting me get more rest.

She gave me the second dose, and when I could feel that start to wear off, I asked if I could have another dose. She said she had already given me the second. So I asked for the epidural. I don't know how long I had rested for, but I knew I still had so little energy. Apparently, Adam had already filled out all the paperwork (sans my signature) for the epidural while I was still on the first dose of Fentenol. I remember that I was sitting when I signed the papers, but I don't remember sitting up at all. (Maybe this part is a little fuzzy.) But I remember them telling me that they needed me to sign the papers, and I didn't respond the first time, because I knew that Adam would sign them for me. They asked me again, and I was kind of cranky about it and snatched the pen and signed my initials (it was quicker than my whole name). I didn't realize at that time that Adam couldn't actually sign my name for me, but he could fill out all the rest.

Once I had signed the paper, the nurse said she could call down to have an anesthesiologist to come up and give me the epidural. But she said I needed to sit up on the edge of the bed before she called. Well sitting was great before, but now that the Fentenol was in my system, I was relaxed and so tired from my lack of sleep. I said that I would sit up as soon as he/she got there to give me the epidural. But she told me they liked me to be ready before the come up, because they are very busy down there. Well, after a couple minutes, I won that argument. She called down, and said that I lucked out, because the anesthesiologist that was coming up was one of the few that liked his patients laying down when he gave the epidural. So they had me scoot as close to the edge of the bed as I could and curl up in the fetal position as best I could around my pregnant belly.

When he got there I was all set. He gave me two shots to numb the area. I kind of felt one, but it wasn't that bad. I think the Fentenol was still working a little, but I could feel my contractions. (He was smart enough to do it between contractions, unlike that overnight lab tech!) I didn't feel him put the epidural in my back at all, but soon felt almost no contractions at all. The epidural worked on everything but my left hip area. I was laying on my right side at that point, and wondered if it was because the drug just wasn't flowing up far enough.

Getting rest after the epidural
Eventually, I rolled over and slowly started to feel the "nothing" feeling go down through my hip, but then the contractions feeling started to grow in my right hip. Though, it wasn't quite as bad as it had been in my left hip. The nurse did a cervical check in the middle of my roll. I was at 9 cm and my water hadn't broken yet. She said by the time Dr. Mahan got there I should be ready to push, and they would break my water then if it hadn't already broken. When they had me roll over again later I had the "nothing" feeling everywhere from my ribs down. Other than the two times I rolled over and the cervical check, it was pretty uneventful until it was time to push, as I dozed through most of it getting rest, so I could push out our baby.

Eventually, Dr. Mahan arrived and was ready to break my water, but it had already broken on it's own. She also found meconium in the fluid, so they were ready to suction her out if she didn't start breathing right away (meaning her lungs were clear, and none had gotten in there). Somewhere along the lines, my mother found her way into the room, but was in the way near the door, so the "baby nurses" asked her to move to another corner of the room.

They got the bed all set up (more like taken apart, actually) and wanted me to move my legs to the sides. I could move them, but had no control over where they went (it was kind of like how a newborn flails his arms and legs, but really has no control over precise movement). Ashley helped me on the left, and Adam on the right. They held my legs, and I grabbed my "knee pits" to help pull myself to curl around my tummy to push. Then we waited for a contraction. If I hadn't had been hooked up to the monitors, we may still be waiting.

The nurse, Jessica, asked, "Do you feel the urge to push?"

I responded, "No, am I having a contraction? Should I start pushing?"

There was a resounding yes, and both Dr. Mahan and Jessica were impressed that I felt absolutely nothing. So between Dr. Mahan watching the baby's head, and Jessica watching the monitors, I was told when I was having a contraction and started pushing each time. For the first push, I wasn't really sure how I could do it, since I didn't have much control over the lower part of my body, but somehow you just know what to do. I grabbed my knees and curled around my pregnant belly and "pushed like I was pooping" (that's how the nurse that taught our labor class with Danni described it and she was right on!)

I don't remember how many times I pushed, but I remember asking Adam how much of her head he could see. Most of the time the answer was just hair on the top of her head, so I started asking if he could see her ears yet. At one point Dr. Mahan asked if I wanted to reach down and touch her head. I knew that this was an option during birth ahead of time, but I really had no desire to, so it wasn't in my birth plan. But when you've been in labor and you're so anxious to meet your baby, you'll take what you can get! So I reached down and touched her head. I could feel a ridge, which was the plates of her skull, and made a joke about her being a Klingon baby, not Adam's.

I pushed, I don't know how many more times, but at 2:39pm Eleanor Elisabeth was born! With my last push her head came all the way out, and her shoulders and the rest of her body slide out without an extra push. She cried right away, so I took the gown that I had draped over my chest off and they placed her on my bare chest. (Adam and I talked later about how we didn't cry this time when she was born. With Danni, we both teared up when we heard her cry, and Adam stood up to see his first-born daughter over the drape. We both agreed that we were both so worried about her well-being and health that it was such a relief to hear her cry. With Eleanor, we weren't as worried, so it wasn't quite as emotional.)

The nurse came and put a blanket over her and I, and later put a hat on her head. I let her kick/crawl around on my chest, and she found my breast and latched on. It was slightly painful, as she didn't have a proper latch, but such a wonderful feeling to hold my second little baby girl!

Once the cord stopped pulsating, Dr. Mahan asked if Adam wanted to cut the cord. She clamped it on either side of where he was to cut and he cut it.

I kept holding her and adoring her the whole time with not a care in the world. Of course, I still couldn't feel anything, like the contractions that were still coming to expel the placenta. Though, I did feel something kind of strange in my tummy, but I had my healthy daughter on my chest to adore and love, so I didn't care what it was that I was feeling.

I later found out that the weird feeling in my tummy was actually Dr. Mahan's hand inside my uterus. Apparently, my placenta wasn't detaching, and I was loosing more blood than she liked. So Dr. Mahan reached inside and took the placenta out herself. The next day I had a blood draw to check my iron levels, since I had lost a lot of blood. It was low, but not low enough to need a transfusion. So they put me on an iron supplement.

Weighing in at 7 lbs, 5.8 oz
Eventually, Erin (the nurse we met the first time we went into the hospital), took her to do check on her and make sure she was doing okay. Before she weighted her, she asked if there were any guesses as to her weight. I guessed that she weighted less than Danni, because she was skinnier. Danni weighted 6 pounds, 13 ounces, but as you can see, I was wrong. Eleanor kicked me a lot harder, and didn't look to have much body fat on her, so I figured since muscle weights more than fat, that's why she out-weighted her big sister.

Then Adam got a chance to hold his newest daughter. The nurse asked him if he wanted to hold her skin-to-skin and he was a little hesitant, but I encouraged him and told him I wanted to see him without his shirt on! ;)

Soon Ashley left, and let us bond with our daughter, but before she did, we snapped a quick picture of us both looking great after not sleeping much that night! (Alright, so Ashley looks way better than me, but I just gave birth!) :)

Eventually, Adam let my mom hold her. Of course, Grandma Denise was more than thrilled to hold her second little granddaughter for the first time! She just kept talking to her and pointing out little features about her. (Like her wrinkled little hands, that looked like Great-Grandma Eleanor's!)

While she held her, I closed my eyes and tried to get some rest (not that I was able to fall asleep, but I was very relaxed). I enjoyed listening to my mom talking to Eleanor, and couldn't stop smiling that our little girl was finally here and healthy!

My mom didn't hold her for too long, because it was time to give her a bath. Adam and mom stood right next to her watching and taking pictures the whole time, but Adam didn't want to give her a bath (he still hasn't given her a bath, but he does get her dried off and dressed after I take a bath with her!) She did not like her first bath until the nurse swaddled her in a towel. Then she was a much happier newborn.

I don't remember at what point my epidural came out, but it did. And, like with the spinal from the c-section with Danni, it took a little longer than usual to wear off. Two nurses tried to help me to the bathroom, but decided to wait until I had more feeling in my legs. But they helped me move me to a wheel chair, and had us switch rooms to a quieter area, so that I could get some much needed rest.

Later that evening, we had several visitors. The first of which was Auntie Jacque, Uncle Corey, and Cousin Addy. Auntie Jacque and Addy sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to Eleanor.

A little while later, Grandpa Mike and Great-Aunt Melodie came to visit. Eleanor Elisabeth was named after my Grandma Eleanor, and Adam's mom, Elisabeth, who died not quite a month before she was born. Grandpa Mike got teary-eyed when he met his newest little granddaughter.

While Grandpa Mike was still here, Grandma Denise came back and brought Grandpa Jack to meet Eleanor. He was already picking on her, and she wasn't even a day old! But, she didn't seem to mind, she just kept sleeping away.

The Richter cousins & Eleanor
Last, but not least, that day, the Richter clan came to meet Eleanor. Auntie Becky went to pick up Eleanor, and almost threw her up in the air. She wasn't use to holding such a small baby, since Cousin Spencer was two months old and out-weighted her at birth..

It was a long day for all three of us, and we were all very tired. The plan was for Adam to stay both nights in the hospital with us. (After Adam almost went home the night before Danni died, we had decided that with our next child Adam would stay the whole time.) But, he told me that he was very tired, and wanted to go home to get a decent night's sleep, since he wouldn't really be able to now that the baby was here. I told him he could do what he wanted, but expressed my desire for him to stay with us, and reminded him how much less sleep I'd gotten in the past week than he had. He went home for the night promising to get up with the baby every time the next night.


These are the notes that my doula, Ashley, took for us while we were there. Since I have absolutely no concept of time at all that day, it's nice to look and see the actual timing of everything.

2 am call from Adam stating at hospital
2:10 - I arrived
2:35- cervical check 2.5cm
3:25- IV placed
4:15 monitors moved to telemetry unit
4:30 bathroom
5:25- bathroom
6:30- vomiting
6:40- cervical check 80% more toward front and 3-4cm
7:00- bathroom
7:50- starting to show some signs of exhaustion, nurse change, changed positions to hands and knees over top of bed
8:40- phentenol administered
9:00- dr checked in, epidural discusssion
10:30- cervical check, 6-7cm, epidural requested
10:50- epidural placed
11:00- foley catheder placed
11:50 switched side, 9cm, just a little cervix left
12:45- switched side
2pm- dr arrived, was going to break water but bag had already broken on it's own, complete, +3 station
2:39- baby born
2:59- placenta removed with dr assistance