Expecting our Little Brother in November!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Cousins!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Travel with A Little/How I Missed my Flight/Wednesday

Okay, probably because I was in denial about the difficulty/work aspect, pretty much no one knew that I was taking a vacation, with james, for a week, and then James is meeting us for the final few days . . .

We are now in Jacksonville, FL, until Monday morning. We are here visiting my cousin Dave and our new little cousin Parker--this will be my first time meeting Parker!

Our flight was SUPPOSED TO be Wednesday at 1:30, land at 3:30, check into the hotel and have a leisurely night settling in, and then see Dave, Tracy, and Parker on Thursday. However . . . we missed our flight. :-/

I will say that both me, and my Dad who was driving me, tends to cut it close in terms of arrival. We are not the type to sit around the airport. We like to arrive and board.

Well. I discovered that my strategy with a baby in tow (especially when I'm alone) is going to have to change.

I checked in more than an hour before my flight (I think? I was in line to check my baggage for a LONG time). And then I went through security . . . which took FOR.EV.ER. They made me take the baby out of the carrier, take my laptop bag out of my carryon, take my laptop out of it's bag, put everything in separate bins that they were running out of . . . then I had to put it all back together on the other side. And I wasn't even rushing! I had NO CLUE that the time was running down.

I think I was just so concerned with the baby and being alone that I just . . . wasn't even thinking it was that close!

But I got through security, looked at the board to find my gate number, and the flight was already closed. WHAT THE HELL? So I ran there, and started pleading with the attendant.

"The plane is there, I can see it!"
"Sorry miss we already closed the doors."
Then the pilot arrives, and looks at me sweating my balls off and clinging to my baby . . .
"Please!" I say, "please, I just got here and I ran straight from security, I didn't even stop to go the bathroom! And my carseat is on that plane!" Waaaaaaaaaaaa
"Can you let this lady on?" he asks the attendant.
"We closed the doors, sir."
"Well, are you going to open them to let me on? Yeah? Well let's get this girl on, too."
"I could kiss you!" I tell him.
"Don't worry," he says with a wink, "I'll get you on this plane. I won't leave without you."
And then he emerges a minute later.
"ummm, I didn't realize this, all the seats are full."
"You sold my seat?"
At this point I'm totally deflated, thank the pilot sincerely for his efforts, and make my way slowly over to customer service. They give me a ticket for an 8:30 flight (my original flight was at 1:30).

I sigh and hunker down--ie, walk the baby to sleep in the ergo, have a glass of wine, make friends with EVERYONE in the airport--bartender lady who looks like my cousin Nikki (but is Colombian, not Italian), magazine stand lady, shoe shine guy, costumer service guy, custodian . . . various other passengers. James charmes and wows even through extreme tiredness--that half-hour nap while I drank my wine is the last sleep I will get out of him until 11pm . . . but I try. I probably literally paced the area around my luggage for three hours straight.

So 8:30 eventually arrives, and they invite those with small kids to board first. And now, I find out for the first time that my ticket? Is actually a stand-by ticket. I am not guaranteed to get on the plane. So then I really flip out--poor customer service guy feels awful because there's nothing he can really do.

At this point I realize I am not alone. I'm not the only one who missed this flight, not the only one on standby. I'm joined by a Mom/Aunt/Grandma? with two young littles, and an entire other family . . . about 10 of us missed the original flight, and apparently they sold ALL of our tickets . . . um. Something is wrong here. JFK needs a kids/family line.

Anyway, me and the Mom/Aunt with the two littles manage to get on. THANK GOD. The flight is fairly awful, but at this point, I'm just grateful to be there. james hadn't slept, as I mentioned, and was practically hysterically beside himself with exhaustion. I really needed to walk him but they kept the seat-belt sign on the ENTIRE time, even though it was like 5-10 mins of smooth sailing, 1 min of shakiness . . . so he fussed and fussed and FINALLY nursed to sleep in the ergo.

So, we arrive, pick up our luggage, I get my rental car, and here I am, at 12 midnight. james plays happily, standing in the back of the car while I SWEAT BULLETS in the steamy Florida weather--can't believe it feels this much like a jungle at midnight, and attempt to install the carseat. GOD IT TAKES FOREVER!

But we're in, we're on our way--I get to my hotel. james is asleep in the car now, and I have been told by the hotel guy that my key will be in an envelope with my name on it in a black mailbox. And sure, I'm exhausted beyond belief, but I'm not seeing any black anywhere around?

So I'm wandering around looking confused at 1 am, and I catch the attentions of slightly-drunk guy.
"Well HELLO, you look like you need some help!"
"Do you work here?"
"Hahahah, No."
I appraise slightly drunk guy, who looks like he is half-hobbit, and decide he is no threat to me.
"I'm looking for this mailbox . . . "
He ends up finding the mailbox for me, which is not at all black or looking like a normal mailbox . . . ?
"Wow thank you so much!"
"Sooooo, what brings you to Jacksonville?" he asks, as I walk the few steps back to my car.
"Well, I'm visiting my cousin."
"Oh, why are you visiting?"
"Well, he had a baby a few months ago, and so did I!" I point to james sleeping in his carseat.
"Oh!" I have surprised the drunk hobbit, but he rallies.
"Well," he holds out his hand and I go to shake it, but he turns it around, "but, there's no ring here!"
"That's because it's here," I say, and show him my left hand. At this point I'm . . . LOL . . . it's just funny, and I'm smiling . . .
I have to give the hobbit a nod for persistence though, because he still gives me his room number and tells me if I need ANYTHING, to come find him. Okay dude, LOL.

So then I finally get in my room, and take the bed apart while holding the critically overtired and screaming baby, mattress on the floor, because I'm too tired, and I don't trust myself to keep a grip on the little man for the entire night . . . boxspring leaning up against the wall, bedframe in the bathroom.

And finally we sleep. Phew.

Note to self. Arrive early to airport in the future. Keep track of time/flight while going through security.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Photo Friday: Meeting Parker!

So I'm on vacation solo with james--more on that later . . .

But yesterday we went to see my cousin and meet his new baby (well, 4 months new, hehe)! I have literally been waiting to take these pictures since I planned this trip! :D

Here is the first moments of meeting . . . my cousin Dave is holding James and his girlfriend Tracy is holding Parker!

Note that james has the shovel in the above picture . . . And then Parker steals the shovel . . .

And then james steals it back . . . hehe

Parker with his Momma!

Dave and Tracy have a beautiful pool, so we got to go swimming! Here is Parker eating his Daddy's ear, haha!

Two babies in the pool!

Three Musketeers, as my sister put it, hehe:

I love this goofy Parker face!

Awww, playing together! I <3 this!

The cousins!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Being a Blogger

As the word "Blogosphere" has found it's word into our vocabulary, those of us who live here have come to understand the world of instant dialogue, of being held accountable for what you say, of public scrutiny . . . we bloggers put ourselves in the fishbowl, inviting others to look into our little worlds, and inevitably form opinions . . .

People have taken different approaches. Many friends now have private blogs, or review comments before publishing them . . . I do not. Just as I breastfeed without a cover, I blog without a cover, too. I believe in the power of words--that they show truth, in more than what is written, but in what isn't written, what isn't said; and in more: why they are written, the story behind the sentence, the emotion behind the judgement. It's all there for the perceptive reader.

It is important to me that I can stand to face the aftermath, that I am accountable for what I say and that I can defend it with logic and reason in the face of scrutiny. (And honestly I feel slightly bad for those who have been unlucky enough to raise my ire, hahaha.)

Anyway, my previous post about balance reminded me of my favorite poem. Sad I am that I must present it here without it's actual formatting, because that is one of my favorite things about it.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, on the balancing act of the writer . . .
Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Last Two Months

It's been a long ass time since I did a substantive update. I honestly think the last two--well, one month really, have been the most challenging for me as a parent so far . . .

Started crawling at 7.5 months, a week later was pulling up, a week later was cruising. Since then it's been a lot of all of those things: lots of balance and strength training. For the first couple weeks he was just CONSTANTLY falling with bumps and bruises all over his head. Thankfully he's better at it all now and, also, I think, more used to falling.

And so baby proofing began. Add this to the mental list of things I said I wouldn't do and am now doing. The main problem here is not that my house wasn't baby proofed, but that it wasn't CLEAN. And, I've learned by now that some people apologize for the state of their house and really it is immaculate? I'm not like that. If my house was semi-clean, I would admit it . . .

I'm a "throw things to the side when I am done with them willy-nilly" sort of person. And a "out of sight is out of mind" sort of person. And a "I won't look down" sort of person, LOL! Add all these together with having a husband that is the same and four cats? And an ant's view of my house would be like "cloudy with a chance of meatballs (and cat hair)."

The first few weeks/days of crawling were like . . . I would look away for a second (to try to clean and/or baby proof something, usually) look back, and james would be bringing a (clump of cat hair/bit of stale food/leaf/etc) to his mouth and I would run over and excavate. Or I would look away for a second, and then hear a thump and he'd be crying with another red lump on his head . . . or pulling on wires, or pulling the vacuum on top of him, or climbing the stairs, or eating cat food or . . .

If it was JUST baby proofing--JUST figuring out what he was able to reach and making sure it was safe for him--well, that I think I could have handled? Or not even done!

But it was more like, all of my life I've been trying to:
-Have a daily routine
-Get exercise
-Keep my house clean

And in the last two months, finally I've achieved it. (Almost). But it was a hard transition for me. It's a lot of work to keep your house clean. I see now why I avoided it for so long.

But we are pretty much done, now. Well, what I am learning is that you are never done. BUT, our entire downstairs is now pretty much safe and accessible to james. And honestly I like it. I love it. It's nice that I can turn my back on james for awhile now, without worrying about what infinitesimal speck of poison he was able to eat.

And honestly it's sort of awesome to have a clean house. AND to have a routine. Another thing that happened over the past two months. Here's pretty much what we do now:

james wakes up between 5-6, nurses awhile, crawls all over us until we get up.
Dad changes the baby's diaper
I get up between 7-7:30, dress me and james
Then I take james on a walk--I'm up to about 1.5 miles a day!
He falls asleep on this first walk, sleeps 8-9 outside in his stroller
While he sleeps, I start laundry, straighten the living room, eat breakfast if I'm lucky, etc.
james wakes up, play a bit
Nurse and Pump around 9:30
After nursing, eat breakfast
While he eats, I load/unload the dishwasher, deal with the breast milk, other kitchen cleaning
Clean up baby, possible sink bath, possible outfit change, change diaper at least
Read books
james takes 2nd nap, 11-12
While he sleeps, I eat again or for the first time, do laundry and other cleaning.
Wake up, nurse, play, read books
Back to sleep at 2--if I'm lucky this is a long nap. I need a real break by now but if I was really smart I would use this time to prepare dinner?
Wake up, nurse, eat food again around 4:30
Clean up baby, possible sink bath, possible outfit change, change diaper at least
And then I'm not sure because I think he's dropping his evening nap, and lengthening the afternoon nap? (I hope!) Anyway, we eat dinner in there somewhere, sans le bebe.
Dad changes into nighttime diaper and PJ's, reads books, Momma nurses
Baby sleeps 7:15-8:30 in swing
After wakeup, LONG NURSING in bed with Momma to sleep.
And then ideally he would sleep until we went to bed at 11-12 and then nurse again.

So yeah, I think we are doing pretty good!

But it has been a challenging few months. I was prepared to take care of a newborn, for some reason (well, I had an easy one, too!)--I don't mind nursing a lot, or holding a little baby, or changing lots of diapers. But I don't think I was prepared for the adorable baby to become mobile. I was in denial and totally held out . . . I saw he was starting to learn to crawl--I should have started baby proofing then! But I didn't realize how fast it would be.

I'm slow. I do house projects on several year time lines (hence the fact that our "nursery" is still full of random crap). But babies don't grow slow. They grow fast. So I'm continually getting kicked in the pants but HONESTLY? It's good for me, and I appreciate it! But change is hard.

And learning how to take care of my house, my self, FINALLY, after 28 years? Is hard, too. . . it took a baby to motivate me, but it feels good . . .

BUT it's not the only thing I need to take care of my self.

I'm realizing that I need this blog. I need to write, I need to take pictures. While I've been baby proofing and cleaning and organizing my entire life and house, something else inside me has been neglected. Things stir which have not been released.

So, in the words of Yoda: Balance Find I Must.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Movie Monday: Walking on His Knees

We discovered recently that this little ride-on thing that my Mom got him (for lack of a better description) actually converts to a walker-type toy. james was pretty excited when we converted it for him. Here he is using it his favorite way . . .

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Reluctantly Crying-It-Out

And yet another post inspired by an anonymous commenter . . .

Crying it out is a funny thing. People in my Mom and, even more so, my Grandma's generation, have actually expressed concern that I am TOO responsive to james. Even as a wee wee one, the word spoiled did float around the room.

In my opinion, that is ridiculous. While you can't spoil a one-month old baby, you can bet that they aren't crying for no reason either (unless you are lucky enough to have a colicky one). But until the world of teething came along, my james did not cry for no reason. People think it's funny that he doesn't even cry when he wakes up. LOL. I know how long he sleeps for and I pay attention to him, so he rarely needs to cry when he wakes up.

And when he was one, two, three months old, I very rarely left him to fuss or cry for more than a min (because I never needed to). If he was crying, there was a reason. Which nursing could usually solve 99% of the time.

But now he's 8.5 months old. And he screams if I take away a toy that he likes. And when he does fuss, or even scream, for a few mins when I strap him into his swing, it's for the same reason. He doesn't want to go to sleep. He wants to play, and he wants to play with me. He isn't hungry or wet or neglected--he is just not getting what he wants.

And when I pictured myself as a parent, I pictured myself gently nursing my baby to sleep until he dozed off, and then sneaking out of the room. Well, my baby doesn't do that. He won't sleep unless he is strapped down, so, in the swing, carseat, or stroller. If he is able to move, he is moving. Only once recently have I woken up before him and gotten to see him wake up (in the bed with us). And I SWEAR he started crawling before his eyes opened. So he will NOT nurse down. He will NOT be rocked to sleep, he will NOT sleep if he can see me. He will not sleep unless he is strapped down, and alone.

So where do I find myself then? I work hard to make sure he does not get over-tired, I keep him on a strict schedule, I do a nap routine every time, and then, yes, I fuss it out. And on days when I'm exhausted, and feel drained and stressed, and the baby is having a fussy day? Sometimes I even cry it out.

I hate it. I totally hate it. I WISH WISH WISH I had a baby that would nurse down or be rocked to sleep. But I don't. And I do NOT think that CIO is evil, and if it is, damn it, it's a necessary evil at my house or my baby would never sleep. I will very much hope that my next baby will be calmer and want to snuggle and nap with me and be nursed down and all the sweet things that other breastfeeding co-sleeping Moms do to put their babies to sleep, but . . . this baby won't do it.

I have had a post in mind for a long time about how much of a difference there REALLY is between crying-it-out and not crying-it-out. I mean, even a hardcore CIO parent wouldn't leave a kid to SCREAM for more than a few mins, I would think (unless the parent is, you know, about to snap, in which case, all bets are off), and I would think that even the most hardcore attachment parents SOMETIMES need a mental break and have to leave a kid to cry for a few minutes (right? I mean, SOMETIMES?)?

I mean, come on, I think a lot of parenting decisions are made out of desperation. Yes I'm there crying on my kitchen floor while my baby is crying upstairs. But screams turned to coos within a few mins, and then he did eventually fall asleep. And when he woke up, I felt rejuvenated in dealing with him. Which I needed to feel.

So if that makes me an awful person, ah well. As my hubby pointed out recently, james still loves me more than anything, so I guess I'm doing something right.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Um, I know that I'm a Know-it-All (Obviously)

The previous commenter struck a nerve and inspired an actual post out of me--well done, Dawnonymous, I've been looking for inspiration . . .

So yes, I am a know-it-all. Always have been. That's not to say I ACTUALLY think I know it all, or that anyone does. Furthermore, there are some things which I am totally ignorant about. Like, sports.

With this said, I love to learn--about some things, but definitely in general. When someone has a tidbit to offer about a topic of interest and it's something I didn't know, my ears perk right up . . . "Wow!" I say, "I didn't know that! How interesting!" And my brain squirrels it away and it stays there forever.

For instance, I most recently had this reaction when, in participating in a breast-feeding forum, someone mentioned that they had low supply with one child and oversupply with another. "VERY INTERESTING", I said, "I didn't know that it could change from baby to baby." So there, I didn't know everything, but now I do! Tada!

Even as a small child, I was fascinated by bits of information--the sky is blue because the angle of the sun refracts the larger spectrum off of the atmosphere, or learning how to write numbers in binary--something I came across, in 6th grade, while reading "The Ebola Virus", asked my math teacher about, and practiced until I mastered it . . .

No, I don't know everything. But I grew up surrounded by peers, who, by-and-large, knew less (about SOME THINGS, obviously). I was smart, I read a LOT, and when motivated, I was capable of learning fairly complex information.

Yet the point of left versus right wasn't something I grasped until my teen years, and I'm still not clear on the exact details? And when we started algebra--I didn't get why we used X--didn't X stand for a number? Why not use the number? That took several years for me to get past, too . . .

They say that someone with a high IQ is as far away from normal as someone with a low IQ. So while 100 is normal, someone with 140 IQ is as incapable of relating to society as someone with a 60 IQ, clinically mildly mentally impaired, someone that (likely) needs assisted living . . . I grew up having very true few peers, and noticed early on that I seemed to know more than other people--probably because I was reading on an 11th grade level in 5th grade.

This was a curse more than a blessing. Huge chunks of my pre-teen vocabulary were beyond the understanding of most of my classmates. I didn't know that they didn't understand me, and they didn't want to look stupid--so they jeered, and made fun, and called me awful names. And so I've always felt like an outsider, trying to figure out how to relate to people. As I got older, some things got easier--a lot more people caught up to me--I'm more sensitive about my audience, I have found many more wonderful friends and peers . . .

But some things aren't easier, don't change . . . some people will never like or understand me, and I have to just be okay with that.

I have witnessed firsthand that my spouting of information (esp in person) is directly related to how nervous I am. Apparently when I'm insecure I like to talk about things I know because my intelligence--no--not even that--information, facts--is something I feel confident in. Who am I without these facts? An awkward, dysfunctional, overly emotional person. Facts ground me.

And let's be real, folks, I have ADHD. It's part of my personality to impulsively speak, without thinking beforehand about what I was saying, or the consequences . . . I lost many friends as I grew up, and that might be one reason I am SO much more comfortable in the written form, because I can double-check and think deeply before hitting "send"/"submit"/or "publish"--I can tell you, I wish there was an edit button on real life.

And, yes, I have no formal training in breastfeeding or natural childbirth other than doing it. But I spend a LOT of time reading and researching. I think I might have done over 500 hours of reading to prepare for my own childbirth, and I've done at least that much on breastfeeding. And I HAVE been studying these things for YEARS. I would say during times I am online, I might easily spend a few hours daily consulting on "Dairy Queens"--Facebook breastfeeding support group--which adds up to 20+ hours a week. And, most recently, due to my participation, and the respect that many of the regular members now have for me, I was made a group administrator. (Proud inside smile feeling).

Honestly, I very much struggle with the fact that I have no official credentials, (thanks for making me feel even worse about that, dear Dawn), especially when I hear stories of people getting AWFUL and/or INSENSITIVE information from lactation consultants and pediatricians. I know that I can't be compared with them, the fact that they have years of schooling/credentials, which begs the question: how the hell aren't THEY better at THEIR jobs? Why does a ped tell a woman with a baby struggling to gain weight that she should night-wean her? How does a lactation consultant miss a tongue tie? Or be insensitive to a post-partum Mom? It makes me wish that I was someone official . . . I could be a good one, I think.

And in fact, I struggle with my self-identity, self-worth, self-efficacy, self-esteem, etc, just in general. Maybe, Dawnonymous, I enjoy the fact that I know a lot about breastfeeding/natural birth, because of the insecurity I feel about other parts of my life/personality/self.

Recently me and my Mom had a blow-out fight (everything is fine, now). Which, honestly, hasn't happened since I was a teenager. And it was for this very reason, she indicated that I was acting like a know it all.

You know what I said to her (many minutes in), in tears, through sobs . . .

"Do you think I like to be this way? Do you think I wouldn't change if I could? Everything you hate about me, I hate about me more. But you know? Other people love me. They say I am great. They accept me for who I am. I might be a know-it-all or talk too much, but everyone knows that. They know I am that way. But they still want to be around me, they still love me . . . so I am learning to love myself, too, even the parts that are flawed, and I wish you would, too."

So there you go, Dawnonymous, right from the horses' mouth--I agree with you. I am a know it all--or at the very least, I know I come off that way. But, get busy living or get busy dying: Accept me and be a reader or reject me and don't.

But I will not pretend to be less than I am. Nor will I pretend to be more than I am. I am a flawed, awful person. But hey, I might have some helpful info about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, or natural birth. The only thing that makes the awfulness bearable is when I hear from people that I helped them in some way.

I just hope that you find a way to be happy. If cutting me down is what does it for you, go for it, but I see you for what you are.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Emily's Birth Story: Guest Post

I love that in the time I've been NOT blogging, my family has come together to make sure I have some new posts--hehe.

But seriously I am THRILLED to present the birth story of my cousin. As she will tell, she planned a natural hospital birth, and ended up getting her wish, though not quite in the way she'd planned! She was induced the day before her due date for low fluid, but even with an induction and pitocin, she was able to have a natural, vaginal birth!

I think part of why she was able to handle pitocin contractions so well was that she REALLY did her homework--took both a Bradley course and a Hypnobirthing course, and practiced relaxation exercises nightly.

I can't say enough for the power of taking REAL (non-hospital) birth classes--it is essential if you are planning a natural birth. PREPARED childbirth is completely different from UNPREPARED childbirth . . . and if you want to have a natural birth in a hospital, it is a must.

Another really smart move on her part was hiring a doula. I would never attempt to birth in a hospital without a doula. Doulas GREATLY reduce the odds of medication use, c-sections, and a host of other interventions.

Wow I practically got a mini-blog post in with my intro here! But with no further ado, the birth story of Ava Rose!

The third trimester of my pregnancy was surprisingly good. I had hyped myself up to be totally miserable, and even until the last few days I was just waiting for the misery to begin. I didn’t think it could be so easy. Granted, putting on underwear and bending over got to be pretty difficult, but I was still able to take 4 yoga classes a week (obviously with a lot of modifications) and I was still sleeping through the night with no problem (obviously with a lot of bathroom breaks haha). The back pain I had in the end of the first/beginning of the second trimester had disappeared and I was fine! I had heartburn, but it was totally manageable. Little biscuit was kicking up a storm, but I loved the reminder that she was doing well in there. :)

We were super prepared, having taken a Bradley course as well as a Hypnobirthing class – I was determined to do this as naturally as possible and to labor at home as long as possible, especially since apparently I have white coat syndrome. I dutifully listened to my hypno-relaxation CD every night and visualized how I wanted my birth to go. I was nervous about the pain, but I hoped I would be able to handle it as well as my cousin Adrienne and my friend Diane who both had given birth recently.

I had been having sonograms and fetal monitoring every appointment because my blood pressure was high at every appointment, due to a case of white coat syndrome. I monitored my BP myself at home and it was always completely fine, so my doctor did believe that it was WCS, but he said better safe than sorry in terms of knowing if everything was going ok in there and I didn’t mind seeing her so often, that’s for sure! But he had been saying that he wouldn’t let me go much past my due date, even though there really wasn’t a real issue, and I wasn’t looking forward to arguing with him about induction (which I REALLY wanted to avoid, since I had learned that being induced almost always inevitably leads to more interventions, i.e. an epidural and/or c-section). I had my 39/40 week appointment on Wednesday, June 8, 2 days before my due date. Two weeks before, my doctor had said my amniotic fluid level was getting rather low, at 8.5, but the next week it was 10 so I wasn’t worried. But unfortunately at my appointment on June 8 the sono tech said my fluid level was 5.5, and my doctor said that was dangerously low and he wanted to induce. I was to go home and finish packing, eat dinner, then make my way to the hospital. Unfortunately I am rather cowed by doctors and so didn’t put up much of a fight, even though he had told me the week before that AFL levels can fluctuate greatly even from one moment to another if the baby changes position. After we left the office I called my doula to let her know what was going on and she suggested taking a bath, and asking for a repeat sono when we got to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 10:00 PM and we filled out paper work and answered the same questions a few times. They were all confused that I was asking for a repeat sono, and the intern who came in to see me said that she would call my doc to see if he would be ok with that since she didn’t feel comfortable just doing it since that would indicate she was questioning his diagnosis. Ok, fine. Why would he refuse, since a sono is so quick and easy? When she finally came back she said that he didn’t want her to do one – we had enough information to make an informed decision. We were rather shocked, what was the point in refusing us? I called my doula and we spoke about it a little. We finally decided that Trevor would talk to my doctor directly since I’m not very good at sticking up for myself. It was already 1:00AM at this point and I was hungry – but of course they don’t let you eat in the hospital! My doctor called and Trevor spoke with him for a while – telling him that while we know it won’t change his recommendation, it might change our decision to go forward with the induction. He FINALLY agreed. This was really not the way I had imagined things going, so I was sad and disappointed, tired and hungry. We got the repeat sono, the levels still looked low, so we decided to proceed. Of course, even though we had arrived at the hospital to be induced, no one had put in the orders for the Cervadil (medication that goes on the cervix to try to stimulate labor that way). It was 4:00AM before I even received the medication! Definitely not the way I had hoped things would go.

The Cervadil is a 12 hour dose, meaning that it sits in there for 12 hours and hopefully produces some reaction and after that they would start me on Pitocin. I appreciated that my doctor didn’t start right in with the Pitocin, but was trying to start things a little more gently (the Cervadil helps to soften and dilate the cervix, hopefully causing labor to start more or less on its own, whereas Pitocin actually makes your uterus contract, resulting in stronger, longer, more painful contractions). During the 12 hours I tried to sleep as much as possible, and Trevor and I hung out watching Seinfeld on the iPad that we had put on there for my labor. I was starting to have some regular contractions, but they were hardly noticeable. By 4:00PM I was still only 1.5cm dilated and 50% effaced. Blargh. Cue the Pitocin. They reassured me they start with a low dose and increase it periodically so you only have as strong a dose as produces a reaction. They started me at 10 (whatever measurement that would be) and I think I ended somewhere around 20-25. My doctor let me know that he’d be back in a couple hours to check on my, and to probably break my water. I was a little against this, but by this point I’d already been in the hospital for 20 hours and I was hungry, tired, sick of all the crazy monitors and wires, and ready to get this over with (even though we’d learned in class that ideally you should avoid having your water broken artificially). I looked at it as the lesser of most of the interventions I’d already received, since this does have to happen anyway, and there was a good chance that it would really get things moving.

At 9:00PM I had only dilated maybe another cm. In all honestly, having my water broken was probably the most painful part of my birth. I think my husband got pretty concerned for me, my mom told me that he wasn’t prepared at all for my reaction. It was mostly because I was dilated so little and cripes, my doctor has huge hands (he’s a big guy!). With that over, things did start to move more quickly. My parents had been driving all day and arrived soon after my water was broken. Mom didn’t want to come inside since she knew she’d hate to see her little girl on all the monitors and in pain. They went back to the house to get some sleep. My doula had arrived right after my water was broken (she was there earlier in the day but I told her she could go home and put her kids to bed, etc., since nothing was happening yet). I tried to stand/sit on the birth ball for a while, but it was hard with all the wires, plus I was required to wear compression stockings since my mother had had a blood clot after my brother was born. I’m not sure they could have packed any more wires onto me! Going to the bathroom was such a process, but I had to pee so often and sitting on the toilet was where I was happiest. Things were definitely getting more painful, and the nurse wanted me to change positions on the bed, so she had me lay on my side. NOPE. That was the only time I said that I didn’t think I could do it, because it definitely was painful and I still wasn’t that far into active labor. I knew if I had to lie like that, things would go downhill fast. Luckily my nurse, Elaine, was willing to work with me. We figured out how it was possible to keep me connected to the fetal monitor while sitting on the toilet. I probably was in there for over an hour, some of that time Elaine had to actually sit on the floor and hold the monitor in place so that it would work. This was really a turning point, and I was able to focus totally on relaxing the muscles and opening up. The pain was much more manageable when I was able to totally open up and relax through it, which is what we learned in all our classes but I found very hard on the bed or standing. What also helped was what my friend Diane told me – the contractions don’t last that, usually only about a minute, so you only have to get through that and you’ll have some relief for a little while.

This whole time I was able to really relax and almost sleep between contractions. Time seemed to pass faster than I thought, which my hypnobirthing teacher had said can happen when you’re “in the zone”, as I think of it. Trevor said it looked like I was almost in a trance – I understand now what our Bradley teacher meant about being more “inside” than focused on the outside. Elaine finally had me get back in the bed after maybe an hour and a half on the toilet and I believe at this point I got checked and was at 5cm. I was happy to hear this because that was a lot of movement in that short time I was on the toilet. From that point it seemed to go by in a total haze. I can remember moaning quietly through the later contractions, and maybe squirming a little. I was most comfortable on my back on the bed, which I didn’t expect because we learned laying on your back is not the best position, but it seemed to work for me.

It took probably around 2 hours to reach the point where I felt like I needed to push. I sort of was doubting myself, and I remember saying to my doula “I think I need to push” and she told me that was fine. Our nurse Elaine was on her break and would be coming back soon, so we decided to wait to tell anyone until she came back. I was not able to stop little pushes that my body was doing by itself and again doula Robin told me it was fine and to even make some grunting pushing noises if I needed to. Elaine came back with my doctor who checked me and said “Are you ready to have a baby?” - YES.

On the first push he was already able to see her head, which I felt was encouraging! He stayed with me through the first 2 contractions and then said “I’m going to let Elaine work with you for a little while” and he went to have a coffee or something, which I thought was a little strange! But after one more contraction and the 2 pushes that went with it, she went to go get him since obviously I was pushing pretty effectively! Everyone laughed when I said “I’m starting to sweat, can I put my hair up?” – which I did but then asked if it looked ok. I knew that I was soon going to be in a lot of pictures, so, ever conscious of how I look in pictures, I needed to know I wasn’t going to regret them haha. The next contraction and she was crowning, which was a little uncomfortable since I wasn’t able to get her head out in those 2 pushes. The doctor asked if I wanted to touch her head, which I said no to – I was uncomfortable and didn’t want to move haha. But he said “wow look at all that hair, it’s a girl right? We can give her a little curl” and played with her hair while she was crowning – I appreciated the comic relief. He prepared me for the next contraction by saying “Ok Emily, this is the part that’s going to hurt but you can’t stop, just push through it”. The next 2 pushes and her head was out! Honestly it didn’t hurt as much as I expected it to, as having your skin tear sounds pretty awful. One more push and she was born!! Ava Rose Burton entered the world at 5:38am on June 10, 2011, on her due date. They wrapped her in a blanket and put her on my chest, where she cried her little heart out. Trevor cut the cord, they wiped her up a little and then put her right on my chest to stay warm. We cuddled for a little bit and then I tried to feed her. She latched on right away, which was great! All the while, I delivered the placenta, and got stitched up (uncomfortable!). I can push out a baby no problem apparently, but I reverted to my old squeamish ways when he was checking and stitching haha. My parents were there waiting outside, so they got to come in right away after I was cleaned up. It was also wonderful that the hospital never insisted that she go to the nursery – they did her first bath in the room (which had a warmer if it was needed), they let me nurse her while she got the vitamin K shot to help comfort her, let me keep feed and bond with her before the eye ointment was applied, and let me keep her temp up with skin-to-skin contact. I was just really happy that she never had to leave me.

I was almost embarrassed that no less than 4 nurses came in to tell me what a wonderful job I’d done and to ask how I was able to handle it so well; one even stopped my parents in the hall to tell them how amazed they were at how well I did. I think I was mostly lucky in that I don’t think my body reacted as strongly as others to the Pitocin. I handled the contractions as well as I could and tried to relax as much as possible, keeping in mind what we learned in our birth classes and that really helped me as well. I won’t say that hypnobirthing was completely responsible for how well I handled the pain, but I know it definitely helped to train my body to relax to the CD every night before bed. I think all the yoga I did helped as well. In the end I knew it was necessary pain, which I think makes all the difference. My body just knew what to do and I was along for the ride! I also don’t think it hurt that I was completely exhausted so my body kind of shut down between the contractions to conserve the energy I had left – we were in the hospital around 32 hours before she was born, without any food and only ice chips as a “drink”.

When all was said and done, our experience ended up being perfect. While it got off to a rocky start, I couldn’t be happier with how Ava came into the world!
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