Thursday, May 22, 2014

Introducing Malcolm Charles

Malcolm Charles, 7 lbs, 8oz, 19 1/2 inches long.

I knew it. I knew it!  I had a feeling that my last post about sitting around, waiting for the baby would essentially be an invitation for labor to start!  I almost didn’t post it at all because it kind of felt like taunting the labor Gods.  Lo and behold, within hours of publishing that post, labor started.  Not long after that, Malcolm Charles was born!

This labor experience could not have been more different than with Guinevere.  They always say that the second baby arrives faster than the first.  Considering I had a 3 day long induction with Guinevere, I figured just about anything would be faster.  I had no idea that I would go from a 3-day induction to a 3-hour (in total) labor!

I felt the first contraction around 3:30 in the afternoon.  This time it felt different than any of the pre-contractions I had been having.  All of the pre-contractions were more focused on the top of the belly, whereas these new ones were lower and felt almost more like intense period cramps.  I decided to start timing them around 4.  By 4:30, they were getting more intense and coming every 4-9 minutes.  I texted Aaron and asked how quickly he could get home because my contractions were starting to get painful.  Oh, did I mention that I was home all by myself at the time?

When Aaron hadn’t gotten back to me by 4:45, I called him and asked him to come home now because I was pretty sure I was in real labor.  He got in his car and raced from Pasadena as quickly as Thursday afternoon rush hour traffic would allow (of course, I would go into labor at rush hour on a Thursday!)  I called our housemate, Whitney, to pick up Guinevere from daycare for us.  At that point, crazy me was considering picking her up myself.  So glad I didn’t attempt that!  Once I knew Whitney would get G, I decided to take a shower while I waited for Aaron to get home.  I’d heard that helps with labor pains.  I’m not sure it actually helped, but I was glad to have to opportunity to show up at the hospital feeling clean.  I even shaved my legs!

Once Aaron got home, I was in some serious pain!  It was to the point where each contraction nearly sent me into a ball on the floor.  I tried breathing through the pain – much easier said than done! I said to Aaron, “I don’t know how women do this without drugs!  The moment we get to the hospital, I’m going to ask for the drugs!”  Up until this point, I had been thinking I might try to give birth without drugs . . . mostly because I wanted to know what actual labor pains felt like since last time around I was already drugged up by the time hard labor began.

The drive to the hospital was one of the most painful experiences ever!  Every bump and turn sent shooting pains throughout my body.  My contractions had progressed to 2 ½ minutes long every 3 minutes – i.e. I had 30 seconds between contractions. 

We got to the hospital parking lot around 6:20pm. When we got to there, Aaron asked me if I wanted a wheelchair, but sitting was painful for me at that point, so I decided to attempt the walk.  We had to stop at least 3 or 4 times, for some super intense contractions, so it was 6:30 by the time we checked in at the hospital.  I said to Aaron right before we entered labor & delivery, “Well, at least I know they’re not going to turn us away!”

They saw the state I was in and quickly ushered me into a labor room.  At this point, things kind of become a blur.  I remember a team of nurses stripping my clothes off of me, and giving me a hospital gown.  They were trying to ask me admission questions in the 30 seconds in between contractions as well as give me an IV and hook me up to the monitors.  They asked me my opinion on pain meds, and mumbled something, which was intended to come out as, “Well, I originally didn’t want them, but now I do.”  I know it must have come out super garbled because I heard Aaron say, “Yes.  Yes, she wants them.”  They sent someone out to go get the drugs for me while a midwife came in to check and see how dilated I was.  I was already 9 cm dilated!!!  They said, “No time for drugs.  You are having this baby now.”  I was equally terrified and relieved.  I would finally have the drug free birth that I wanted with Guinevere . . . but that meant I had to actually go through with pushing a baby out of my body without drugs! 

Kaiser was very busy the day Malcolm was born.  When we checked in, all the delivery rooms were either in use, or in the process of being cleaned from previous births.  The nurses realized we did not have time to wait and said we would have to deliver in the labor room.  They got the bed I was already in ready for a delivery and I felt my water start to break.  I warned everyone that my water was breaking, but they must not have heard.  Next thing I know, my bag of waters literally exploded all over the midwife’s face!  It was like something out of the movies!  I had no idea that could happen!  I will forever laugh about that as one of the most surreal moments of my life!

At that point, the urge to push became overwhelming.  I can’t quite describe the feeling, but it kind of feels like you have to poo really badly.  Also at this point, one of the delivery rooms became available.  So they wheeled me into the delivery room.  As soon as we were in there, they told me to push.  I don’t know that I will ever be able to adequately describe the feeling of pushing a baby out of my body while being able to feel every moment.  It was amazing and painful all at the same time.  You kind of feel like you are being ripped open, but there’s no turning back.  You can’t change your mind at this point, so you have to keep going, knowing you will meet your baby when it’s all over, knowing that the female body was designed to do this.  I was sweating and shaking, and suddenly I had my squishy, goopy, slightly purple baby lying on my chest and it was all over. 

There was a HUGE rush of hormones and endorphins and relief at the end!  It is one of the biggest highs I have ever felt in life!  I think it’s nature’s way of ensuring that women will have more than one baby.  There really is such a thing as pregnancy amnesia.  I know labor was super painful, but the moment it was over, that rush of joy/excitement/relief/love erased much of the previous hours of pain that I had experienced.  Of course, it also helps that it was a VERY fast labor.  To recap the timeline: 3:30 felt the first contraction, 4 started timing, 6:30 checked into hospital, 6:52pm Malcolm was born.

We are now home and adjusting to life as a family of four.  More updates to come soon, including how Guinevere likes her baby brother.

The three of us, just before leaving the hospital.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Waiting Game

My view as I stand barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen! (Yes, I know, I stand like a dancer.)

38 weeks, 6 days.  That’s how far along I was the day G was born.  Today I am 39 weeks.  I totally thought this baby would be earlier than G. Guess I was wrong!  But then, I was also induced with G (read her birth story here), so I really don’t know when I would have gone into labor with her had we waited for it to happen on its own. 

This whole waiting around for labor to happen is weird!  It’s weird knowing that I have given birth before, but still having no idea what to expect this time around.  By the time hard labor started with G, I had already been in the hospital 2 days and gotten the epidural, so I don’t actually know what the super painful contractions you see in movies & TV feel like.  I am having flurries of contractions here and there, but still nothing painful or regular.  Saturday night and last night they started becoming more frequent, averaging 8 minutes apart (sometimes as close together as 2 ½ minutes, sometimes as far apart as 20 minutes).  We seriously thought it might be leading to meeting our son.  I decided to get some sleep and see how I felt in the morning.  By the time I woke up though, both times, my body had reset and we were back to infrequent, sporadic contractions.

I am very grateful to this child for giving me adequate nesting time to clean and organize and prepare for his arrival.  I have organized parts of our house that have needed to be organized since before G was born!  However, it seems there is always more to do!  In addition to organizing, I have also done some deep cleaning throughout the house.  It feels so good to finally have the time to do some deep cleaning and organizing!  The only problem is that I definitely do not have the stamina that I do when not pregnant.  I find I can only be on my feet for about an hour or two before I start to get exhausted, my back starts hurting, and my feet and ankles start swelling. Granted, my feet and ankles are generally pretty bony, so the only person who can tell they are swollen is me … and maybe Aaron.

I’m really looking forward to meeting this little one.  I can’t wait to see what he looks like and hold his little hands and touch his little feet that keep sticking out of my belly!  I’m so curious to see what his personality ends up being like.  Will he be similar to G or completely different?  She was such a good baby that we are preparing ourselves for a colicky, needy baby, just in case he’s the exact opposite of her. 

At today’s appointment, the midwife said that I am already 80% effaced and 4cm dilated!  So it really could happen any day now.  At least the hospital bags have been packed for weeks.  Now all there is to do is wait . . . (Watch, after making a post all about waiting for labor to happen, I’ll go into active labor tonight!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Perfect Mother's Day

When making our plans for Mother’s Day this year, we didn’t know if we would be in the hospital, be a family of four, or still be our little family of three, so I decided I wanted to plan a family outing that could either be canceled last minute or accommodate however many of us there happened to be.  Family trip to the beach it was!

I love the beach.  It is my happy place!  I have been very fortunate to have worked and/or lived within a five to ten minute drive to the beach for the past decade.  Whenever work gets too stressful, I can just hop in my car and take my lunch at the beach.  We don’t live as close to the beach anymore, so packing up Guinevere and all the baby accouterments makes it difficult to get there as often as I would like on the weekends.  But this weekend it was so worth it!

When we got there, I was surprised to step out of the car and find the temperature in the 80’s!  (I swear, while the rest of the country had one of the longest, worst winters ever, we just had a full year of summer . . . we really need some rain!) Even though the temp was warm, it was SUPER windy!  We decided to eat our picnic lunches on the grassy area near the sand, but not on the sand.  I am very glad we did because once we were done and moved to the sand, our stuff was nearly buried within minutes!

Guinevere was so well behaved the entire time!  She sat with us while we ate and didn’t try to wander off.  Once we moved closer to the water, she found the water both fascinating and terrifying.  I picked her up and took her out to try to get her feet wet, but she clung to me like a monkey and wouldn’t let go.  We did get her feet in the water a little, but immediately after, she went toddling up the sand, grabbed her sand toys and started digging well away from the water, but still within viewing distance.  Aaron and I took turns alternately hanging out with her and dipping our feet in the water.  Guinevere sat and played in the sand for about an hour and seemed perfectly content the entire time!  She kept looking over at the water and saying, “water!” or “ocean!”  She also learned the words “beach,” “shell” and “sand.”

Once we had enough fun in the sun, sand and wind, we packed up and headed home.  G was fast asleep before we even left the parking lot.  I was worried that she would only nap during the drive home and then wake up and be a tired, cranky toddler for the rest of the day.  But we were able to transfer her to her crib and get her to fall back asleep.  Her nap lasted almost 4 hours!!!  Guess all that excitement really tuckered her out!  I used that time to relax, unwind & take a bath.  I love baths and don’t take them often enough.  One weird thing about taking a bath at essentially 9 months pregnant: having the majority of your body submerged in warm water, but this ginormous belly still sticking out in the cold air!

After G’s nap, we had family dinner and together time, playing in the living room until bed time.   That’s all I think I ever want for Mother’s Day: family together time.  The whole day was exactly how I wanted my last Mother’s Day as a the mom of 1 kid to be . . . and probably how I’ll want them to be when we are a completed family unit of 4.

What did you do for Mother’s Day?
Time for Mom

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Advanced Maternal Age

I have no qualms about my age.  I’ll say it loud & proud: I am 35 years old!  Granted, it helps that I don’t necessarily look 35.  However, 35 is the magical cut-off age for pregnancy.  If you are 35 or older and pregnant, the doctors will stamp all your paperwork with the following phrase: Advanced Maternal Age.  The nurses did warn me about it when we went in for our first pre-natal appointment.  They also told me that it wasn’t that big a deal – especially since I am just at the cutoff - and most likely the only way it would affect this pregnancy is that we would have to go to a genetic counseling session.

We did the genetic counseling, which was actually rather informative.  They went over the variety of potential risks of being “older” and pregnant and offered us various tests that we could do in order to determine the likelihood of any major issues (i.e. down syndrome, etc.).  The only extra test we did this time around that we didn’t do with G was a blood test where they tested for any chromosomal abnormalities.  The bonus to that test is that they are able to also determine gender out of it, so we’ve known the gender of this kid since 13 weeks! 

Now I am 38 weeks and apparently another “fun” extra is that towards the end of pregnancy, the doctors want you to go in for regular monitoring (at least Kaiser does, couldn’t tell you about other doctors).  They called me last week and said that I needed to start coming in for NSTs.  I had no idea what that even meant, so I looked it up.   NST = non-stress test.  Basically, they give you a button to push every time the baby moves and hook you up to some machines to monitor fetal movement and any contractions.  Once a week they also do an ultrasound to measure the amniotic fluid.  Of course, I ended up stressing out about the “non-stress” test because it’s essentially the same test that made them decide I needed to be induced for Guinevere.  Fortunately, the first test went well and they didn’t send me to labor & delivery!  Unfortunately, I now have to go in twice a week for regular NSTs.  Good thing I’m off work now and have time for all these doctor appointments!

Turns out I’m having some contractions; nothing regular or painful or anything to send me to l&d.  They said to wait until the contractions were regularly 3-5 minutes apart and painful enough that I can’t walk/talk through them before going to the hospital to deliver.  I suppose the advantage of having to go in regularly for monitoring is that now I know exactly what the difference between a contraction and just the baby moving.  These pre-contractions, really just feel like it could be the baby stretching out in my belly.  But now I know different.

Want to see my “fun” take home gift from the NST?  (you know you do!)

My very own straps!  I have to bring these with me each time I go in for the test.  I guess it saves them money from having to use new ones each time and I get a “fabulous” souvenir to stick in the baby book.