Thursday, 17 July 2014

And Baby Finally Makes Three (plus Cypress)

In case you don't follow me on the more immediate forms of social media, the wee baby Seamus arrived healthy and happy (or as happy as you can be after being squeezed through a tiny opening for 4 1/2 hours) on July 11, when she officially became Amelia Rose.

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She weighed a very wee 6 lb, 12.7 oz and, obviously, was (and is) the most beautiful fucking thing I've ever seen in my life.

I've said before that I'm not a big fan of multi-part birth stories especially when the birth was largely unremarkable, so you won't find one of those here. I would have to get very poetic to drag mine out longer than a paragraph or two.  Since people seem to be interested in details, though, here's a quick rundown:

I was induced on Wednesday with some cervical medication to ripen my cervix (I know, weirdest phrase ever).  Though my bag of waters was "bulging" (what?) and the baby was pretty far down, my cervix just did not play ball. I was getting checked every few hours (and getting pretty discouraged) and spent my time obsessing over the fetal heart monitor readings and monitoring my contractions.  At about 10:30 pm on Thursday my water broke and contractions started in earnest and shocker they totally sucked. I dealt with them for awhile until I was far enough along in dilation to get some IV meds and then my epidural.  The epidural was magical, but by the time I was 9 cm and ready to push--at around 6:00am on Friday--it was keeping me from feeling contractions in my belly but not in my actual birth canal. I felt all of those.

I pushed for around 4 1/2 hours with the help of some pitocin, as I wasn't having too many contractions on my own and we would've been there all day. That 4 1/2 hours went by quickly but very painfully. I cried a lot. My doctor was great and when I asked if we were almost done (about 13 times) she'd just say, "we have more work to do." She told me I have a robust pelvic floor so...you know. She also performed a lot of stretching while I pushed which also hurt like crazy. To help that process along she periodically poured olive oil on my lady bits which made me feel a little like Thanksgiving dinner.

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Anyway pushing was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. I was focused and physically determined during those contractions in a way that I've never experienced. I even felt myself sort of leave my body a few times...something that's never happened to me before.  As painful and physically demanding as it was, though, it was also a pretty amazing process. I remember when they took Amelia out of me and placed her on my chest I thought, "oh, that's why I went through all of that." 

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Since we came home we've been laying low, healing, adjusting to life as parents and learning how to breastfeed which has been mostly uneventful. I wish I could say the worry has stopped but it's mostly just morphed into other things--is her latch good? Is she breathing? Is swaddling safe? Why do my nipples hurt all the time?

But at the risk of sounding cliche, it really is all worth it just to look at her face and her toes and her belly and her ears and know that we made that together. And watching Rob become a dad has been such a beautiful, emotional experience in ways I never even conceived of (haha, pun intended).  I think his support and love are the main thing that's keeping me sane (or at least close) through the sleep deprivation and the worry.

I just realized I didn't respond to your comments on my last post so I want to say thank you for all of our kind words and for thinking of us.  We're really excited about this whole new person in our lives and for having our lives completely blown apart in the best way possible.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

What's Going On, Plus Some Maternity Photos

So...no baby yet.

I never really understood how impatient pregnant ladies got once their due dates came and went, but at 6 days overdue I am about ready to punch some throats.  It's not the discomfort that gets to me as much as the not knowing/fears of c-sections or something happening to the wee baby Seamus.

It's been a rough week or so, both for me and for Rob who is pretty sick of my cranky sue bullshit. My mom is here too so I'm sure she's pretty over it too.

I went to the doctor yesterday to get what I call the Human Hand Puppet Test (i.e. a cervical dilation check) and I've made no progress since last week, when I was around 0.5-1 centimeter. The baby is down low finally, but my cervix is being a douchebag and sitting pretty far back with no signs of wanting to come any closer.

It's funny because all through trimester 2 I was terrified I'd go into early labor because of an incompetent cervix, but turns out I got myself an over-achieving cervix instead.

Anyway my hospital's policy is to induce at 41-41.5 weeks so tomorrow morning Rob and I will be driving to the hospital to see how long it takes to have us a baby.  I'm excited but also extremely apprehensive. Pretty par for the course type shit.

I had my mom take some photos of me outside the other day since I stopped taking "nice" belly photos at like 14 weeks due to laziness. I think they came out pretty nicely if you can forgive the whole "hands cradling belly" pose I just did over and over. Pardon my hair. The last lady who dyed it didn't do a great job and it's also incredibly long and messy.

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So there you go. PREGNANT. Hopefully I'll be back in a few days to introduce our shiny new baby. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On the Last Few Weeks of Pregnancy

Let's start right out with what at least a few of you I'm sure are wondering: no baby yet!

Let's also start out by saying that this is going to be a whiny, anxiety-filled post.

I'm 39 weeks today and honestly, at this point, I'm not sure that I'll ever NOT be pregnant.  It isn't the discomfort or the swollen hands and feet saying that. Honestly, I whine about pregnancy discomfort to Rob but no one else because it really in the grand scheme of things is NBD. It's the anxious mind that hates not having an exact timeline for something so.fucking.huge. I haven't even had a glimmer of labor symptoms yet, which I suppose is a good thing but also confusing and frustrating.  Rob and I are both torn at this point, since we are really enjoying our sleep (god I love sleep. I will miss you, sleep.) but because we know this is an inevitability at this point it sure would be nice to have some idea of when it's going to happen. And, you know, we'd like to meet our daughter.

The frustration is manifesting itself in a few ways. First, my anxiety has been at an all-time high in terms of the baby's well-being.  For those of you who haven't been pregnant/don't know this, some doctors recommend doing "kick counts" after 28 weeks in order to keep track of your fetus's movement (basically you sit in a quiet position and see how long it takes to get ten kicks--more than two hours, you call your midwife or OB). My doctor in Santa Fe, knowing me incredibly well, advised against them since I have had (knock on wood) a very normal pregnancy and they would undoubtedly cause me additional and unnecessary anxiety.  And as I'm sure you've guessed, I totally ignored that advice.  In fact I ignored it so much that I've actually gone the opposite direction - while you're only supposed to do one kick count at the same time each day, I do on average maybe 5 or 6 throughout the day.  It doesn't help that I work from home and have a very sedentary job, giving me plenty of time to focus on movement and worry about it.

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Cypress is less worried.

The other frustration manifestations are just normal pregnant-lady things. I cried while creating a training document the other day because it was about something I know nothing about and no matter how many times I read a particular sentence I still felt completely lost. Then I cried watching a video featuring a jazz ensemble performing for a herd of cows.  

If only my frustration manifested in helpful ways then maybe my daughter would have a functional nursery to live in, but as it stands she has a dresser, clean clothes, some toy storage things, and a half-finished bookcase that's drying in the garage.

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Toy storage things.

What I haven't been worrying about is labor. I don't worry about dying in childbirth or the pain or the pressure or gravity-neutral birthing positions. I haven't thought about pooping or peeing on doctors (though at birth class I did notice the discrete little trashcan underneath where your butt happens to hang on the birthing table) or not wearing makeup in our first few photos.  I'd like to say that I'm not worrying because I'm stoic and awesome and totally at peace with this huge thing that's happening, but I'll be honest and tell you that my mind has kind of pushed out the possibility that it's even going to happen and does so every time I start to get caught up in the logistics. 

All that said, with the exception of the anxiety, I have loved being pregnant. I have a lot of friends who for one reason or another find themselves unable to have children and I know how lucky I have been to have this experience.  I try not to take it for granted for that reason.  I think in a lot of ways I'll miss being pregnant.

Though I am very, very excited to sit up on my own again. And drink martinis.

Anyway given my posting habits lately this might just be the last thing I post before I have a child, so I'll see you all on the other side.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The Grounds of Castle Cypresston

Confession: I always thought it was mostly bullshit that dogs picked up on things like pregnancy.

After asking the baby's sex and our due date, the most frequent question we get is "how is Cypress handling it?"  To be honest, we noticed a change pretty quickly, but for a long time I wrote it off as her just picking up on my slightly-higher-than-normal level of anxiety.

But once we moved into our house, and once Rob started going to work every day, it became hard to deny that something was different.

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I know that Cypress doesn't actually understand what's going on. I really don't think she knows there's a baby inside of me or that within 2 short weeks we will bring home another family member.  But be it the fact that I waddle everywhere or that my hormonal changes probably trigger some biological something in her brain, she's become protective in a really strange way.  Namely, when it's just me and her, she'll refuse to leave the house and will only visit other areas of the yard if I'm in them or out of her immediate line of sight. I've had to give her treats to entice her outside, which is something I've never needed to do before. Not to mention the fact that when Rob is downstairs and I'm still in bed in the mornings, she will not leave the foot of our bed until I go downstairs as well (or if Rob coaxes her down).

I'm sure that the move and Rob's new job have at least some part in this, but it's all behavior we've never seen from her and the only totally out-of-the-ordinary thing for us is this tiny alien I'm growing.

Because she's been refusing walks, she and I spend a lot of time "walking the grounds" as I call it, which literally just means walking around the ~1 acre that we own letting her sniff things and pee on the grass. Sometimes she just picks a spot immediately in front of the house, lays down and sniffs the air. I think she'd stay there for hours if I'd let her (and I would, if she didn't run across the road one time chasing a cat).

So with that introduction I thought I'd share some photos I've taken on our daily constitutions.  I actually took these with my real camera which should be a refreshing change from constant phone photos.

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Sunday, 15 June 2014

More Like Birth CLASSY.

This past weekend Rob and I went to birth class at the hospital where I'll be delivering.

On the Internet the hospital advised expectant couples to sign up within the 7th month of pregnancy, but we never were ones for following rules so we ended up taking it at 8 1/2 months. The instructor was shocked that not only had we put off birth class so long (in my defense, we've only lived here for just over a month and I didn't want to take a class in a hospital I wasn't going to birth at) but that we also hadn't scheduled our prenatal interview which I had no idea was even a thing.

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I'm not used to looking like the person who puts shit off and it was strange. I'm usually on top of this kind of thing.  Then again it's been Rob that has been nagging me to get my hospital bag (or "bug out bag" as he's calling it) together so I might be in some sort of denial at this point.

The class itself was really helpful and I feel really good about delivering our baby at this particular hospital.  I don't consider myself very crunchy--as evidenced by the fact that I plan on having an epidural once the timing lines up--but it was nice to hear that the OBs at the hospital avoid unnecessary interventions, in particular episiotomies, and have a wide variety of non-pharmaceutical comfort measures available depending on the type of birth you want.  We also got to see the birthing rooms which was one huge reason I wanted to take the class from the get-go. I'm pretty excited about the blanket warmer.

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The most interesting part of the class was the contraction simulation, wherein I and the one other girl had to hold ice chips in our hands for a full minute while our partners practiced some of the pain management techniques we learned.  We then had the "more intense" contraction simulation which involved clipping a binder clip to the space between the thumb and the index finger for a full minute.  If only that's what contractions actually felt like.

My favorite part was probably when we were asked to determine if certain words/concepts represented part of labor, a possible sign of labor,  or not labor at all. Rob got "nesting."

Rob: "What's 'nesting'?"
Caitlin: "It's like when I want to clean the whole nursery and wash all her clothes and stuff."
Rob: "Oh, I was afraid it was a word we went over that I didn't remember, like lightening or effacement."
Caitlin: "Oh like, once the cervix starts nesting, you know you're in labor?"

...maybe you had to be there.

I still don't feel qualified to give any advice on pregnancy, but based on my experience alone I would really recommend birth class to anyone even if you aren't planning a hospital birth.  Everyone we met was extremely approachable, open, and non-judgmental and we feel at least somewhat more comfortable with what's going to be happening sometime within the next 2+ weeks.

At this point I'm scared. I can tell I'm scared because every time I start to think about the actual birth process, and especially the subsequent taking-the-thing-home-and-raising-it-and-never-sleeping-again my brain just sort of fogs over and I go back to worrying about the baby not making it through birth.  This is also new to me since I'm not usually one to avoid difficult or scary things; I mean if anything I have a tendency to make perfectly benign things difficult and scary (hence the fear of stillbirth). My dad used to tell my mom, "you'll be fine when you get there," and I know that none of this will be even half as scary as it's become in my head, but for now I'm in limbo and really feeling it.

All that said, I get little glimpses of reality when I start doing things like putting a sheet on the Pack 'n Play bassinet and realizing that it no longer feels like some sort of bizarre play I'm in. Every morning I wake up and think, "is this it? Is this her birthday? Will this be the day that we celebrate for the rest of our lives?"  It's terrifying and exciting and a little nauseating and...I don't know what else.

So for now I'll just go back to zoning out in the comment sections of controversial articles while my sweet child beats the ever-loving crap out of my ribs and sprained pelvis.  The good life.

Happy weekend, all!