Monday, June 14, 2010

Caro Figlio - Happy 1st Birthday to the Pookie

Buono primo compleanno al mio bambino (happy first birthday to my baby),

A year ago today, you arrived into our lives, making my life fuller and happier than ever before. My sweet boy, you have been a joy in our lives. You have added smiles and giggles and even more fun to our household. A bit more chaos, too, but it's been fun chaos.

This last year has been absolutely wonderful. You love to watch what's going on around you, you love to laugh and lately you've been loving crawling into whatever is going on. You seem constantly entertained by your sister, your pets and your parents, and you are starting to become a major part of the daily entertainment. Really, you just seem to enjoy life and everything around you. You do get upset and fuss, but not nearly as much as you smile and laugh.

Today, I took the day off to spend with you. You decided to start the day really early, and woke up at 5:15. I nursed you at 5:30 and put you back in your crib to play for a half hour while I dozed for a little longer. Once we got up, we spent some sweet time together while I got ready for the day and went downstairs to start breakfast. Your sister woke up while we were downstairs, and our normal chaotic morning ensued. I dropped your sister off at school, while the nanny put you down for a nap.

After you woke up, we drove up to Baltimore and went to the National Aquarium! You did great for most of the hour drive. We had some lunch out, then I put you in my Moby wrap, and off we went to see all the marine animals. Although you really only say variations of "da na" lately, I wouldn't be surprised if you started your "eff" or "shh" sounds, considering how many times I pointed out the fish to you! We saw sting rays, frogs, sharks, jellyfish, dolphins and so many fish. You really seemed to enjoy seeing all the new sights, as well as the people all around us. You are quite the people watcher! And I know you love to be in a sling or wrap, cuddled up to me.

You took a nice nap in the car, and when we got home, you got a bunch of fun presents. Then, it was dinner, playing with Daddy while I put your sister to bed, and then nursing and Mommy putting you to bed.

We had a great day together, and I am excited to start a tradition of going to the aquarium for our Mommy-Son days together for your birthday.

It's been an amazing year, and Daddy and I can't wait to see all the incredible things you will do in the next year. We are so thankful to God that you are part of our family. We all love you so much.

Ti amiamo,
Mama, Daddy and Pumpkin

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Labor and Delivery the Second Time

A year ago today, June 13th, I went into labor with the Pookie. I didn't deliver him until June 14th, but in honor of the anniversary of going into labor with him, I finally finished and am posting his birth story. True to myself, it is long and wordy. But hopefully entertaining. While the labor and delivery of the Pumpkin felt like a sitcom, I would say that the labor and delivery of the Pookie was much more of a drama. There was a lot that went on, as I apparently don't have easy labor and deliveries.

After all my back and forth over how I wanted to try to deliver the Pookie, I decided to try for a VBAC. With Londo and our doctor on board, I started to prep for labor. My goal was going to be to go as long as I could without any pain medication in the hopes that that would help me get beyond the 8 cm where I stalled with the Pumpkin. I had hoped that I would be able to labor at home for a good long while. After all, each labor and delivery (just like each pregnancy) is different, right? So what are the chances that my water would break as early as last time, necessitating our heading right to the hospital because I'm positive (again) for Group B Strep?

At 5:30 am on Saturday, June 13th, the Pumpkin came into our bedroom, said "Hi Daddy, hi Mommy," climbed in our bed, grabbed tight to Londo's head and fell back to sleep. Since I was awake, I made yet another trip to the bathroom. When I climbed back into bed, I felt something odd. I thought to myself, "How could I have peed my pants? I just went to the bathroom!" I got back up, felt a little something more, made some sort of frustrated noise/exclamation, and hurried to the bathroom. Londo asked what was wrong. I said, "I think I peed my pants."

But we both knew. Even pregnant, I had not been peeing my pants unless I was sneezing or laughing or gagging (while brushing my teeth--ugh!). But just getting into or out of bed? Nope, that wasn't what was going on.

My water had broken. It was absolutely clear a few moments later. I admitted it to Londo, who had been lying in bed wide awake just waiting for me to admit it. But I did not have any contractions yet. So I wasn't in a hurry, even though I was positive for Group B Strep*. Londo was up and moving as soon as I gave him the word that it was my water that had broken. Londo was trying to hurry me, and I was taking my time. So we were off to a good start. hehe.

First I called the doctor's office, which connected to their paging service. The doctor who was on call was my primary doctor, and he called back promptly--and sleepily. He said to head over to the hospital, as we knew he would. I called my mom and asked her to come over and stay with the Pumpkin until my inlaws could drive up from their house 5-6 hours away. Then Londo called his parents and told them I was in labor and could they come up. This was the plan, so no surprises other than the boy was coming a week early (I was totally expecting him to be late, like the Pumpkin was). I finished packing my bag, while the Pupmpkin watched some TV and Londo got some last minute things.

Once my mom got to our house, we headed to the hospital. As I said, I hadn't been in a hurry and I hadn't rushed my mom either, but I had started feeling the contractions. We didn't get to the hospital until close to 8:00 am, and I was starting to get contractions pretty regularly every 10 minutes at that point. We checked in, and they brought me back to a labor and delivery room. They hooked me up to the monitoring machines, where I stayed for an hour lying in bed.

As I was lying there, my contractions slowed down and came less frequently. Once they let me off the machines, they said it was okay for me to walk around to help the contractions going and the labor into the active phase. I spent the next 6 or so hours walking with Londo around the hospital's third floor, stopping back in the room for 15 minutes every hour to be monitored. We did a lot of walking. My legs were hurting. My feet were hurting. My back was hurting. I was starving since the last time I'd eaten was a couple scoops of ice cream at 8:00 pm the night before**. I'm sure Londo was hurting too, but he didn't dare complain. However, my contractions? They were weak and only regular when I was walking. I still wasn't in active labor. I was in the kind of labor they normally send you home during, except my water had broken so I had to stay there.

Finally, after miles of walking and many popsicles, I was getting regular, strong contractions every couple of minutes. I was finally in active labor and 2 cm dilated. Still, I kept walking as much as I could. At this point, I was just walking around the maternity ward, up and down the same hallway. When my contractions were close enough together that I couldn't go more than a few steps without doubling over in pain, Londo and I thought for sure I must be very dilated. We headed back to the room, in slow painful steps. When my doctor next checked me, I was only 4 cm dialated.

I continued to labor standing and walking around my bed. When I lied down, the contractions slowed, or at least didn't keep progressing. I lied down, stood and walked around that bed for another hour or two. During which I dilated only a half cm to a cm.

At this point, I was so tired and hungry, on top of real strong contractions that made it hard to do anything but lie down. And even though I was barely progressing, the contractions were becoming overwhelming. I went back and forth as to whether or not I wanted an epidural yet. But it came to a point when I was just overwhelmed and asked for the epidural.

The anesthesiologist came pretty quickly. I wish I could say that I was doing better in no time, but I wasn't. Because it only worked on half my body. So my left side felt much better, but my right side was still having intense pain. They had me lie on my right side for a while, hooked up to the machines and in great discomfort, saying that it should help the drugs get into that side of my system. I laid there for a about an hour without it taking on my right side. Londo started insisting that the anesthesiologist come back to see what could be done. I was really concerned about the idea of him taking the epidural out and reinserting it, but the nurse said he might be able to do something else that would help it. The anesthesiologist came back after another half hour, he turned up the dosage on the drugs, and my body was flooded on both sides with sweet relief.

I felt a ton better at this point, but I started wondering if my contractions were slowing down and/or get weaker. When the doctor checked in on us, I mentioned this to him. He showed me on the monitor that I was still having pretty strong contractions. But I was barely progressing. I was 6 cm dilated, and just not getting any further.

When your water breaks, the doctors say that you have 24 hours to labor before they start talking about c-sections. This is due the risk of infection, which increases once the water breaks. In the case of women who have Group B Strep, they have us on antibiotics, but they are still very concerned.

So the clock was ticking. It was getting late at night. I believe it was around 10:30, maybe close to 11:00 at night when my doctor finally said he thought it best to do a c-section. I did not want to hear this, and I questioned him about it. He pointed out that I just wasn't progressing and showing no signs of starting to. In addition, like what had happened in my last labor (though I had forgotten about it until it started happening in this labor), the lip of cervix had been swollen and getting worse. The doctor simply didn't think I would be able to deliver vaginally. But I knew we still had time until the 24 hour mark, so I asked him to give me another hour to come to terms with giving up on my attempt at having a VBAC. I also joked that I was hoping to make it until the 14th, so the baby wouldn't be born on the 13th--an unlucky number and sucky birthday when it's a Friday. He agreed to check back in an hour.

At that point, my inlaws had been with the Pumpkin for hours, and Londo had called my mom to come to the hospital to be on stand by. You see, perhaps the worst aspect of getting the c-section when I had the Pumpkin was the recovery time in the recovery room. Even though I had a nice nurse who checked in on me, Londo was hurried off with the baby to be cleaned off in the nursery and I was left pretty much alone. It was like a desert in my mouth, I desperately wanted to sit up, and I had no idea what was going on with my baby. I didn't get to nurse my daughter until about 2 hours after her birth. It was really an awful 2 hours, I was determined that it would not go like that if I had another c-section. So I had asked my mom to be with me in the recovery room, as well as asked for Londo and the baby to be there so I could breastfeed much sooner after the birth.

Back to the Pookie's delivery... My mom had been in the waiting room for a couple hours. When the doctor left my room, I asked the nurse if she could send my mom back. Once the nurse had finished checking my vitals, she asked my mom to come back. Londo, my mom and I started talking about the impending c-section. I was trying to come to terms with it, but to be honest, I was still hoping for some way out of it. Some way to make the labor progress, either by design or by luck. As I said, I was tired and hungry and feeling kind of woozy. In fact, in the five minutes we were talking, I was starting to feel what I would call a bit delirious.

The doctor came back in the room. I think he'd been gone 10 minutes or less. He looked at me and said, "I can't give you that hour to think about the c-section. You have a very high fever and we need to prep you now."

Apparently, when the nurse was checking my vitals, Londo pointed out to her that I was spiking a fever. When she left the room, she notified the doctor. My fever was 101 point something, and rising fast.

And that was that. I did want that VBAC, and I was so disappointed that I was having another c-section. But let me tell you, I was totally out of it. I felt, well, feverish the entire time they prepped me. All the arguments I wanted to make for the VBAC no longer were significant. I was definitely getting an infection of some sort causing the fever, and I DID NOT want to risk the baby.

It took about a half hour to prep me and get me into the surgery room, which was all a feverish blur to me. When I got in there, my fever was 103.5. Not good. Oh, and I was really nauseous. When they transferred me from the bed they wheel you down on to the surgery bed, I threw up all those popsicle and ice chips. Even though they put the anti-nausea medicine in the IV, I still felt nauseous. And then there were the uncontrollable shivers. Again. This time, they were really bad, probably because they gave me a lot of the anti-nausea medicine. When my doctor was just about to begin the actual surgery, he looked at me over the curtain and asked me to try really hard to control the shivering because they had to start the surgery. I did my best, which apparently was good enough.

Londo was supportive through the whole thing, even though I know he was really worried about me and the baby. You never want to see a loved one with a really high fever, but I'm guessing you especially don't when it's at such a critical time of health for mother and baby.

The surgery seemed to take a long time, and I had troubling going to my happy place in my mind (the beach, if you were wondering). They got the baby boy out, but I didn't hear any cries right away. I asked Londo if he was okay cause I didn't hear him. He said he thought so, was pretty sure. Thinking back, I'm wondering why they didn't announce his birth or in some way immediately assure us he was born and healthy. I don't think they did that for the Pumpkin either, but we heard her right off. I wonder if this is true for all births, all c-sections or what.

Anyway, it was a healthy baby boy! He was born at 12:38 am on June 14th, weighing 7 lbs 12 ozs and 21.25 inches long. We just barely made it to the 14th, and really, it hardly mattered once my fever started spiking.

They cleaned him up a bit, and gave him to Londo, who waited next to me. They closed me up, cleaned up and were just about to take me to recovery when they realized the needle count was off. Did I mention they had prepped the room in a hurry because of my spiking fever? Yeah, well they had written on the board where they track these things that there were 8 needles, yet there were only seven counted after the surgery. GREEEAAAT! There were only 7 needle packages counted, but they still had to be sure. So they called down to radiology to bring up an x-ray machine to make sure there wasn't some extra needle still inside me.

My shivering was dying down, and my nausea was getting better, but I can't say I was comfortable. Still Londo was there with the baby until they finally got the x-ray machine up, which seemed like forever with everyone just kind of waiting there. They took the x-rays, and I had to wait there with the doctor and nurses until they called up the results. They didn't find anything, and I was cleared to leave the room.

They wheeled me back the recovery room, where Londo was waiting with the baby and my mom. That time waiting in the surgery room was actually okay, because by this point I was not shivering and not really nauseous. My fever had come down, and I was able to sit up right away. Londo handed me my beautiful baby boy, and I was able to nurse him right then. If I recall correctly, I didn't realize that they would let me nurse him then, so I was thrilled when the nurse suggested it, adding that there was no rush to get him cleaned up more and didn't I say I wanted to nurse him as soon as possible. Yes I did.

I took my little baby boy into my arms and felt a surge of intense love. I nursed him right away, with him latching on like an old pro. I unbundled his little body from the swaddle so that I could feel him skin to skin. He was one of the two most beautiful things I had ever seen in my life.

Once he was nursed and I had a chance to bond with him, the nurse and Londo took the baby to the nursery to get his bath and do those things they do. My mom sat in a chair by my bed, keeping me company and making sure I had ice chips and a little water to drink. It was so much better than the previous recovery.

When they deemed me "recovered," my mom walked with me as I was wheeled to my own Mother and Baby Suite, where Londo and the baby already were waiting for me. I think it was like 2 something in the morning, and we were all totally exhausted. My mom didn't stay much longer. Then it was us three, in that room together, our family expanded. Our new addition settling in with his parents.

At that time, it no longer mattered that I didn't succeed in the VBAC attempt. My hours of hunger and exhausting walking of the hospital were nothing. My fever was a thing of the past. All of that had brought me my beautiful baby boy.

Worth. Every. Second.

*If you are positive for GBS, the doctors want you to get into the hospital soon after your water breaks so that they can get you on antibiotics. We knew this from the labor and delivery of the Pumpkin.

**I didn't eat before going to the hospital because of the likelihood I would need a c-section. I was not going to chance it considering how nauseous I had been on the operating table when I had the c-section for the Pumpkin.