It's Been Awhile

It's 10:30 pm on a Wednesday night. James and Taylor are snoring - James fell asleep before Taylor I think, but as he spent most of his day working or battling a grass fire, I guess that's understandable. My darling daughter fights sleep like it's an Olympic sport - and she would definitely get gold if it was - so she finally went down around 10. Some days she goes down peacefully around 7, other times it's a battle until 10. Or like tonight, I cry uncle around 7 and she gets to stay up and watch a little TV with mom and dad.

Unless it's just me and her. (Which it is at least every 3 nights, thanks to James's work schedule.)  Then I usually pull out my Kindle and settle in for the long haul of cuddles and feeding and trying to get her to just relax and sleep. 

All this to say that I'm just trying to survive over here. Motherhood is amazing and exhausting. Trying to be a work-at-home mom is crazy making. Some days are better than others. Days when I have help (James is home, my mom comes up, James's grandma comes by) are easier. But I still find myself behind in client work, woefully behind in keeping up with my own business goals, and forget about housework. We're doing good to even see the couch underneath all the laundry (but at least it's clean laundry).

There are times when I wonder how in the world I'll ever catch up with anything. I worry about paying bills, buying Christmas presents, getting ahead in taxes (self-employment taxes are the worst)...and I know I'll never make up all the sleep I've lost over the past seven months. 

But then Taylor smiles at me. Or laughs. Or hugs me. Or stands up and looks at me so proud of herself. Or basically does anything. 

Photo Nov 09, 8 11 23 AM.jpg

And I remember that it is all worth it. All the lost sleep. All the poop explosions (so many). All the crying. All the worrying. 

It's a struggle. And some days are better than others. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. Even if that means I occasionally leave an almost entire pan of home cooked lasagna out overnight because sleep deprivation is real. (I might have cried over that lasagna. It took forever to make, and I covered it up with foil to save it for later in the week - and then left it sitting on the stove top because I forgot to put it in the fridge.) 

Basically this is me just stopping by to say that I'm around. Trying to make it through each day. I may be back occasionally but I can't commit to anything. I'm writing this on my iPhone in the bath. Because I refuse to give up my nightly baths, even if I have to take them after 10 pm. They keep me sane.

This post may make absolutely no sense, but hey, at least it's an update. There is a lot I want to share. How cloth diapers are going. How Taylor ended up being a baby model in a photo shoot. Her baptism. The books I've been reading lately. How I'm about to turn 31. Maybe I'll get around to it. But right now Taylor is wiggling around, so I need to see if she's just restless or waking up. 





Taylor's Birth Story Part 2: A Natural Induction

Better late than never! Here's the second part of her birth story. You can read the full version, but since it's a little long here's the basics: I went in for an induction at 8 am on Thursday, April 14th. They broke my water around 10 am, and Taylor was born with no further interventions (and no drugs) at 2:59 pm. Ok, now all of you who love birth stories can keep reading!

The night before the induction we took it easy. Had a steak dinner and a teensy glass of wine, enjoyed our last night just the two of us, and went to bed early. On Thursday morning I woke up and called the hospital. Because it's a small hospital, inductions can sometimes be bumped if too many women go into labor. Things were slow this day though, and they told us to come on in. So we packed our things, posed for one last picture, and head to the hospital.

By 8 am we had checked in, and things started going awry. I was immediately told to change into a gown and lie on the bed so they could hook up an IV. Pitocin was already loaded, which terrified me. The nurse was trying to get the IV in as my husband (who is a firefighter/EMT) watched, shaking his head. I was told previously that I could have a saline lock but not get hooked up to anything unless it was necessary, but this nurse simply ran the fluids right in without question. I asked if I could have some water and was told that I was only allowed ice chips. I hadn't had any water that day yet, because I was previously told that water was okay to drink. I didn't feel like arguing, so I didn't say anything. (Pretty sure this is a first time mom thing. Next time I won't hesitate to speak up!)

Suddenly an OB showed up, a man I'd never met before, to lecture me on all the horrible complications that can occur with inductions. I already knew everything he said, but as I laid on the bed surrounded by nurses, student nurses, and this strange doctor, I started crying. Thankfully, the midwife kicked everyone out of the room and sat down with me and James to talk about our options. 

She told me that I didn't have to stay. We could pack up our stuff and go home to wait for things to start on their own. Or we could start small with her simply stripping my membranes and walking around. We could then check to see where we were at and decide where to go from there. She went through all the options and then left James and I to talk about it. She even put a note on our door that no one was to disturb us, which I was so thankful for. At that point I was so tired of dealing with the hospital. It wasn't that I was tired of being pregnant. More that we'd been to the hospital multiple times that week, James was missing work, and I was just so tired of all the waiting. I didn't want to leave the hospital without my baby, so we decided to go for it. (I also felt like my body was ready - I'd been having contractions for days, after all, and she was already so low.)

James found the midwife, and around 9ish she checked where I was at and stripped my membranes. I was pretty devastated when she told me she thought I was more like 70% effaced and barely 2 centimeters dilated, which wasn't nearly as much progress as all the other midwives and nurses had been telling me. But we powered through and started our laps around the labor and delivery wing. My friend who had her baby the day before was checking out, so we were able to stop and meet her little boy before they left. James pushed the IV for me and we walked and walked. 

I would periodically stop at my room to check my cup of ice. Since I wasn't allowed water, I simply waited for the ice chips to melt. After about an hour the midwife came back to check me. I was up to 80% effaced and dilated 3 cm. At that point she said if we were totally committed to having our baby she would break my water, but if things didn't progress quick enough that would mean we would have to use Pitocin. We said we understood, and around 10:30 she broke my water.

If I thought I was having contractions before, they were nothing compared to what happened after my water broke. They immediately got stronger and more uncomfortable. While the midwife was there I asked her if I could have water, and she told me that of course I could. I explained the nurses had told me only ice chips and she rolled her eyes and assured me I could have water or any clear liquid I wanted. She also unhooked me from the IV so I could walk around better. 

After an hour of walking, this time much more slowly and having to stop more regularly to breathe through contractions, we went back to the room. I asked for a birth ball and spent quite a lot of time on it. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together. (The baby and I were being monitored periodically, but they were able to do it as I sat on the ball.)

As the contractions became more painful, James helped my applying counter pressure to my lower back and hips. He swears he was pushing as hard as he could but after awhile it felt like he was barely touching me. Somewhere around this time I got hungry. I'd snuck in some peanut butter, and James gave me a spoonful. I felt better for about ten minutes, then I threw it up. 

At that point I asked to get in the shower. Because the nurse hadn't put in a saline lock (just a regular IV), someone else had to come in and fix it. They taped it off, and I labored under the hot water for quite awhile. While I was in the shower, someone brought James lunch. I wasn't really hungry (throwing up the peanut butter had put an end to that), so I didn't mind when James asked if he could eat. He brought the food in the bathroom so he could stay with me while I labored in the shower, but he'd pulled the door closed to keep the warm air in the room. Which was great until the food smell became overwhelming! It's funny now, but I was super not happy in the moment. He ate as quickly as he could to get rid of the smell :)

After awhile the midwife came in to check me. I don't remember what time this was, probably around noon. I was up 5-6 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I wasn't sure if that was good - I was so paranoid about progress because I didn't want that Pitocin that loomed in the IV stand. The midwife assured me things were going well, and I didn't need to worry.

I decided to get back on the ball. I think it was around this time I listened to a little of the Hamilton soundtrack. I'd actually created a labor playlist, but I never even started it. I only listened to a couple songs of Hamilton before shutting it off. The contractions were getting intense and much closer together. I called my parents around this time to have them come up to the hospital, but I had to pass the phone to James a couple of times because I couldn't talk through contractions any more. Instead I was making low gutteral sounds and moans. (I'd pretty much given up on the HypnoBabies training, but I'll talk more about that another day.)

Throughout this time nurses were coming in and checking things. I was still being monitored periodically, and the baby was doing great. The midwife stopped by and knew things were picking up just by listening to the sounds I was making. The contractions were getting worse and worse, and I couldn't do anything to make it feel better. Previously I could move to ease the pressure, or have James let me lean on him or just breathe.  

As things got more intense, a nurse helped me get on the bed in sort of a kneeling position, holding onto a rail at the top of the bed. James calls this my "Exorcist moment" because I pretty much just thrashed around on the bed trying to get comfortable. All modesty was gone at this point, my gown was just wide open. James was trying to get me to breath and I couldn't focus. I was so thirsty but by the time he could bring my water to me I was having another contraction and couldn't take a drink. 

My parents got to the hospital around this time. I got myself together (and covered) just long enough for them to come by. I said something along the lines of thanks for coming, now get out. At this point it was a struggle to talk or think about anything other than the intensity of the contractions.  

I'm pretty sure that was when I was in transition. During that Exorcist moment I decided that I'd had enough. I still didn't want an epidural, but I knew there was the option of IV meds that would take the edge off. I asked James to get the midwife to check me. If I wasn't dilated to at least an 8, I wanted those pain meds. At this point it was around 2 pm, I think. He had to ask multiple times for someone to come back and check me. I don't think the staff knew how quickly things had progressed, because when I was finally checked they told me I was at 9+. 

I was so relieved to hear that. It meant that I was almost there! Now that I knew I was so close, it almost felt like things got easier. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I knew I could handle whatever was ahead. 

Around this time one of the nurses suggested I try the shower again. I shed my gown and stepped in the hot water for about two contractions before I called out that I was pushing. I didn't mean to, but my body just started doing it on its own. Things kicked into high gear as people appeared from nowhere to dry me off as they helped me back to the bed. People were putting gloves on, but I really don't know what was going on because I was so focused on pushing. The midwife came in and told me to stop pushing. The baby was starting to crown, so she wanted me to slow down. She worked some magic down there, and after just a few pushes Taylor's head emerged. 

At some point during the crowning, I said it was burning. That led to a discussion between the midwife and James about the ring of fire (which is what some people call it when the baby crowns) and Johnny Cash. The midwife also said something like "you're doing so great, we could have 12 more babies!" While I now appreciate it, at the time I might've responded with a cuss word and a definitive no :)

As Taylor's head was coming out, I sat up and felt her head. It was so surreal, and I'm pretty sure I kept repeating, "Oh my God, that's my baby!" After another contraction or two I pushed out the shoulders, and there she was. They placed her on my chest, and the midwife turned to James and said "He looks just like you." 

I frantically lifted Taylor off my chest to check, and yes, she was still a girl. The midwife just misspoke! Someone went to get my mom, and she came in and took some pictures, like this one.

The midwife kept working down below, dealing with all the afterbirth necessities. I was told I needed either a shot of Pitocin or some Pitocin in my IV to prevent hemorrhaging. I chose the shot (which I now regret because I'm still having issues where they did the injection), but I barely felt it. My dad came in to see us, then both my parents left to wait in our other room. The nurses slowly filed out, and it was just me and James for awhile. 

We had a lot of time with our new little baby before they did anything, but after awhile they wanted to clean her up (she'd pooped all over me!) and do her measurements. (She was 6 pounds, 7.7 ounces, and 18 and a quarter inches long.) James went with Taylor, and I took a hot shower. The best thing about not having any drugs was that I was able to hop up and take a shower by myself. I actually had to open the door and call out for someone to bring me a towel, because we were out in the room and there wasn't anyone in there! 

Once we were all cleaned up, they put Taylor in her bassinet and I wheeled her to our recovery room where my parents (and our dinner) were waiting. We were in the hospital until 4ish the following day, and then we headed home!

Whew, and that's it. I've struggled to write this, I kept wanting to rewrite it or shorten it. But it's 16 weeks later, it's time to just hit publish and share. Thanks for making it to the end. Maybe now I'll actually update the blog with other things!



Taylor's Birth Story Part 1: All the False Starts

Finally, here's Taylor Grace's birth story! Well, the first part of it. The rest will be up next week. It only took 10 weeks :) 

My due date was April 13th, and since the hospital we used was a 2 hour drive from our house we decided that James would drive me down on Sunday, April 10th so I could stay with my parents. They live about 10 minutes from the hospital. The plan was for James to have dinner with us and then head back home. Before we left our house that day, I asked James to pack a bag for himself, just in case. 

Well, I started having contractions on the drive down. Nothing strong or consistent, but they were definitely there. They came and went throughout the day, and around dinner I thought maybe my water had broken. I'd listened to and read a lot of birth stories, and I knew it wasn't always a gush. Since I wasn't sure, James suggested I call one of the midwives and ask. He didn't want to leave if things were getting started. 

The nurse I spoke to suggested we come in and get checked. Since it was a Sunday night we had to go through the ER, which meant I was put in a wheelchair and wheeled back to the Labor & Delivery Triage. They hooked me up to all the machines and checked things out. I was having pretty regular contractions, but they weren't painful. It turned out my water hadn't broken either. The nurse who checked me informed that I was 90% effaced, 2 centimeters dilated, and the baby was at -1 station. She assured us we would have a baby soon, maybe within hours, but that we should go back to my parents' house and wait.

Note to all medical professionals: please don't tell a first time mom she will have her baby within hours unless you are positive she will. That tiny little sentence that the nurse probably never thought twice about definitely changed my birth experience. More on that later. 

That being said, I know L&D nurses work super hard and I'm so thankful for them. I'm sure this woman had no idea how much her words would affect me.

first time in triage

Thanks to the over excited nurse, James decided to stay the night. I started tracking contractions, but I was able to sleep because they still weren't terribly painful. We woke up Monday morning pretty sure we would have a baby that day. We went on a walk, I bounced on the yoga ball we'd brought, and we just hung out with my mom who had stayed home with us. By mid-afternoon the contractions were coming close together and getting strong, so we headed back to the hospital. Again I went to triage and they hooked me back up and checked me. I was 100% effaced and the baby was still at -1 station, but I hadn't dilated much more. The midwife suggested we go have dinner and walk around for a few hours, then come back. So we went to my favorite Mexican restaurant and walked up and down Main Street. We bought a red headband for the baby and a Melissa & Doug fire truck, then headed back to the hospital. Nothing had changed. I was still having pretty regular contractions, but they weren't strong or consistent enough. We went back to my parents' house and went back to walking up and down their long driveway.

Walking it out

Thankfully it was a pretty rainy week, so James ended up staying with me on Tuesday as well. At that point I gave up tracking the contractions and just went with it. I was trying various natural induction techniques (clary sage oil, eating pineapple, chugging pineapple juice, etc), but Tuesday came and went with little change.  I had my 40 week appointment on Wednesday, so we decided I'd just hold off until then. We also decided that James would get up early on Wednesday and go back to our house to check on our pets and get some more clothes. The bag he packed on Sunday wasn't meant to last this long. But he was going to try to make it back for my appointment. Meanwhile I kept trying things like chugging pineapple juice. (The plus side to all those visits to triage? I ended up with several of those hospital cups.)

Chugging pineapple juice

Contractions started to pick up throughout Wednesday morning. They were getting closer together and I was really starting to feel them. James made it back just before my appointment, so we went in for my regularly scheduled appointment. However, when I was getting checked into my appointment they noticed that I was having contractions and sent me back to triage. 

Yes, that was my third time going to the triage area. 

They checked me yet again. I swear, there's something about that room that just shuts down my labor, because the contractions that were coming minutes apart nearly stopped completely. The midwife said I was a little more dilated than the previous visit, but not much. At this point the midwife started talking me into an induction. 

Here's part of the reason I ended up agreeing. One of my dear friends, whose baby was due three days after mine, had given birth earlier that day at the same hospital. She knew which midwife was on duty and who was coming up, and shared that knowledge with me. The midwife working that Wednesday was my least favorite one, and she would also be the midwife on call all weekend. The midwife scheduled to work on Thursday, the day they suggested I come in for an induction, was one of my favorites - she's also probably the crunchiest :)

That Wednesday afternoon, facing the prospect of being sent home yet again, I agreed to an induction the following morning after being assured that we could try several things before using Pitocin. This entire pregnancy I swore I wouldn't be induced, but there I was signing the papers. In addition to the midwife issue, I also think I was feeling pressure by family and James's work schedule. None of that pressure was intentional at all, but I was feeling it either way. And everything was magnified because we'd been so sure the baby was on her way on Sunday night!

I'm going to break here for now, and next time I'll share the actual story of her birth. I've already written most of that part, so it will be up next week. I promise!