Friday, September 17, 2010

My Life As a Mama- The Early Weeks

I'm excited to finally write this post. I actually have some energy and our little one went to sleep at 9:30 which means I get some free time!

The first few days home from the hospital were an emotional roller coaster for me. I admit I had the baby blues. I was so happy to have Evan home with us to begin settling into our new life as a family and our new roles. I would cry with tears of happiness just staring at my little guy. Then the next minute I would start sobbing because I suddenly felt like I wasn't capable of being responsible for another person or that I couldn't handle the immense pressure of this new responsibility. I felt overwhelmed. I would cry a couple times a day and sometimes they were gut wrenching sobs that I couldn't control. It was obvious that I was having trouble settling into my new role as Evan's mama. Luckily John was able to take 2 weeks off from work to help.

Feeding- I am breastfeeding E so there is that added dependency that I had trouble with as well. In the early weeks, E wanted to nurse almost constantly. Let me tell you, the books, magazine articles and other breastfeeding mom's made it sound so simple to is NOT that easy. It was SO painful the first 2 weeks that I thought I couldn't make it. I would scream because my nipples were so sensitive. At first we had a bad latch and that caused one nipple to be cracked and bruised. Each time I had to nurse I would cry from the pain. This was really important for me to do and felt like I was failing. I wanted to provide Evan with the best possible start to life that I could. After all the research I did, I knew this was the healthiest thing to feed him and I knew I wanted that special bond that forms through breastfeeding. So, I forged on. Each time I nursed I would say, "Nope I can't do this anymore, that's it, I'm done." One side hurt so badly I avoided nursing on it and ended getting engorged which brought with it a fever, headache and aches all over, like the flu. The only way to fix was to nurse on that side. It was excruciating. Yet, I kept going, with the support of my mom and John. E and I eventually got the hang of it, I toughened up and it didn't hurt as bad.

Sleep- I'm sorry, what does that mean? Is that english? Now, I knew I wouldn't be getting much sleep, but what I didn't know was what that would do to me. John and I both felt like zombies. We both had dark circles around our eyes and just looked run down. The sleep deprivation made me have even worse mood swings. It made me feel dizzy, helpless and hopeless. I had a hard time keeping track of the days. Evan would sleep during the day off and on and would scream, and I do mean scream, ALL night long. If he did sleep, it was for a short time and would only be on our chests, no where else. Eventually he slept in his bouncy chair. He would not and will not have anything to do with his bassinet. Because John took 2 weeks off from work, we were handling the situation together which, I think, helped me hang on to the last shred of my sanity. BUT when John went back to work it was just me dealing with it and it made me crazy. We have come a long way now. We have a bed time routine, supplement with formula twice at night (so he sleeps for a few hours straight rather than one hour), and mom and dad have their sanity back. He is also sleeping in his crib! People told me to sleep when Evan sleeps.

This is the face we saw most during those "dark days."

Sadly, I was wondering when I was going to start enjoying the experience. I felt awful feeling that way but it was SOOO hard for me those first few weeks (I call them the "dark days"). I am proud and relieved to report that we have moved beyond the "dark days" and we are enjoying being a family and watching our baby grow and change. He gives me smiles that melt my heart and they help to erase the terrible time I had the first month. I can't stop staring at him!

This isn't a smile, but he's not crying and I love that.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor and Delivery

I am sooo tired but I really want to record my memory of my labor and delivery of Evan.

WARNING/CAUTION: I am going to be honest so if you are close to me and don't want to know personal details of the event or you have a week stomach, skip this post. It's really not that bad but I just want to warn those who don't wish to know the gory details of birthing.

Friday, July 30th was a typical day. John had the day off of work so we took care of some chores and errands. I was feeling good but I was having contractions. Later that night John and I were eating dinner and watching "The Wire" (really good show by the way). I noticed that the contractions were not going away and they seemed to be more consistent than I was use to. Around 10ish, we started to time the contractions just for fun. They were consistently 7 minutes a part and they were stronger than I was use to with the braxton hicks contractions. We watched 3 episodes of "The Wire" and went to bed around 1 am. The contractions were still continuing and still strong. We didn't take it seriously so we just went to bed. Not but 10 minutes after laying down my water broke. I felt a gush of warm fluid soaking me and the bed. Immediately I said, "John my water broke!" He had fallen asleep quickly and I startled him. He jumped out of bed and says, "Really?!" We turned the lights on and I felt the reality of the event hit me. I felt dizzy, overwhelmed, excited and scared. I knew that I would soon bring a baby into the world. My heart was beating hard, I was shaking and I felt like I couldn't breathe even though I was trying my best to stay calm. John and I stumbled around trying to find the book that described what to do if your water breaks. We called the hospital to ask them for instructions (How long could I labor at home? Could we wait until morning to go to the hospital?). Since my water had broken, they said we needed to come to the hospital but not in a frantic rush. So, I got in the shower to clean up, we gathered a few last items for our hospital bags and loaded everything up in the truck. The whole time I was thinking, "Oh my, this is really happening. The next time we come home, we will have a baby with us."

We headed to this hospital around 2:30 a.m. I checked in at the front desk and I was appalled that they made me stand there in pain to fill out something and show ID etc. It was cruel and awful (I had pre-registered because I thought that would help me avoid this....guess not). They got us set up with our wrist bands and sent us to triage so they could make sure I was really in labor.....

Again, I was appalled because the nurse had to ask me like 100 questions before beginning the exam. So, in some pretty awful pain, I answered the questions. They wanted me to change into the hospital gown but I didn't want to. I hate hospitals and being in my own clothes helped me feel more comfortable. I had to leave a urine sample and then I was examined. Turns out my water hadn't completely broken. When the nurse did the internal exam she ended up breaking the rest and I was surprised at how much water came rushing out of me! I pictured an ocean of water, I swear. She had to see how far I was dilated and it was excruciating! I think I actually let out a scream. I felt bad because John was holding my hand and probably feeling awful because of the pain this nurse was causing me! It was cruel. I think I was only 2 cm dilated, but I was definitely in labor.

In the triage area at 2:30 a.m.

Eventually I was moved from triage to a labor and delivery room. Poor John looked sooo tired and I was exhausted. I had been taking daily naps but had missed the Friday one, bad move. I didn't want to get into the bed because I had read a lot about how counterproductive it is for labor. BUT I was sooo tired, so I got into the bed. They placed the IV which was painful because she had to redo it twice....and then it was pinching and hurting my hand. Then we met our nurse. She was AWESOME. I was so afraid we would end up with a mean nurse but we sure got lucky. Turns out she actually lives on our street! Small world. She was so kind and encouraging and didn't force me to do anything I didn't want to. She reset my IV and made it more comfortable and helped me try out the birthing ball. I was sad to see her go at the end of her shift at 7am but we got lucky all day, the nurses were great.

So, by 8 am I was thinking about pain meds. I was in some pretty bad pain. I don't know why I didn't just get the epidural at that time, I kept waiting. I would say, "Lets do it at 8:30," then 8:30 would pass and I'd push the time out further even though the contractions were bringing tears to my eyes. Finally I caved (I'm not really sure what I was trying to prove, maybe to show myself what I could endure?) and got the epidural around 10ish. This was an AWFUL AWFUL experience. I'm pretty sure it's not that bad for most people but my experience was just wrong. The doc comes in to place the catheter in my back which was painful. Then, he had to do a test dose to see how I reacted to the medication. John was standing in front of me supporting me while I sat on the edge of the bed. As I got the test dose, John says I turned white. The doc said to let him know if I had any ringing in my ears and I did. I felt weird in a bad way. It was like I wasn't in my body, like I was dreaming and had no energy to hold myself up anymore. The nurse was talking to me and I could barely hear her let alone answer her. It was scary. After a couple minutes I came out of it and recovered. Later, they explained that the medication had been put into my blood which is not correct so they adjusted the catheter to fix the problem. Once the epidural kicked in it was nice to have relief from the pain. I was so exhausted. I was able to doze off a little but the excitement of the whole situation made it hard to settle down. John stayed awake the entire time. I was in labor for 24 hours total. He's certainly a trooper.

Then....the epi started to work on only my right side which means I felt contractions on the left side. Oh. Boy. They were really painful. I kept pushing the little button that gives you a boost of meds but it wasn't helping. My in-laws had come to check on us and visit for a bit and I could not concentrate. By this time I was at a 6. So, the doc came back to fix it. He had to RE-DO the epi.....This was scary and painful again....I swear I am traumatized now. After he finished, the meds started working again and everything was fine, BUT...I started to slow in progress. It took half the day to go from 6cm to 7 cm. They had the pitocin going but that wasn't helping things along. I was getting nervous because I did not want to have a C-section. Because my water broke, they like you to deliver within 24 hours. I was also shaking a lot which is a side effect of the epi. I was having trouble getting the shaking under control and it started to scare me. Luckily John calmed me down by talking to me and helping me focus.

The hours seemed to fly by. John and I just sat there. We were too tired to play any games or watch movies or anything. 7pm rolled around and the nurse that lives on our street was back! I was so glad because she had this nurturing way about her and I knew she would help John and I get through the delivery in one piece. She checked me and I was at a 9.5!!

By 7:30 I started pushing. John holding one leg and the nurse holding the other. The lights were dim and it felt very calm and relaxed. The actual pushing hurt the top of my abdominal muscles...I should have worked those out because that was what hurt the most! After maybe 40 minutes of pushing I was skeptical. Was I really doing anything? Because I couldn't feel anything down stairs, I felt like I was simply holding my breath and flexing my abs. The nurse and John both said I was making good progress and they could see Evan's head. I was thinking, "Yeah right. You guys are just saying that to make me feel better." I continued to push and felt tired yet exhilarated at the same time.

By 9:00 ish the nurse got the doctor because we were getting close. Unfortunately, my doc wasn't on call but her colleague was there and she did and excellent job. At 9:16 our little guy was born. I heard him cry and it was such a beautiful sound. He was placed on my belly and I was instantly in love. He was so perfect. I just stared and cried and talked to him. He looked right into my eyes. I looked at John who stared at us with a huge loving smile. They stitched me up but I didn't even notice. I had 2nd degree tears which scared me but it could have been worse.

They cleaned Evan up and performed their tests while John took pictures and stared at his new little dude. What an amazing experience. It was scary, exciting, tiring and exhilarating all at the same time. I couldn't believe he was ours to love and care for forever. This was our family. I couldn't stop crying and smiling.

They took our baby boy to the nursery to have his bath and more tests. I was sad to see him go...I wish they would do that stuff in the room.

Evan, just after delivery.

Evan, getting to know Dad.

I was allowed to rest for a bit and enjoy my strawberry Eegee (like a slushy). After a while the nurse needed to be sure I could pass urine so they told me to slowly get up and she and another nurse would help me walk to the bathroom. Of course, I think I can just get up like I normally would....I didn't take my time sitting up or walking. I go to the bathroom and everything is just peachy....until I stand up and immediately faint. I wake up to that nasty smelling stuff they stick in front of your nose..yuck. Clearly I needed to listen to the medical staff and take it slow.

Eventually we were moved to another room for rest and recovery. They also brought Evan back to us and we all crashed for the night. Poor John had to sleep on this sad chair that kept folding up on him. He made it work though.

Evan and I, exhausted.

Evan and Dad, exhausted.

What an adventure it all was. What an adventure it all is. Of course, I think our baby boy is the most handsome baby ever. I am so lucky to be his Mama. I'll never forget this day.

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