A Birth Story

I’ve been absent for a bit, as some who occasionally browse this blog may have noticed. Considering the prodigious number of posts I’ve done on the impending arrival of my new little man, you might be able to guess the reason for my absence.

Finally, finally, finally, after 42 weeks even of pregnancy, our man arrived February 22nd at 12:56 pm. He was 9 lbs 13 oz and 22 3/4 inches long. A big boy for sure! However, he was  (and is) completely and utterly perfect.

The big question now might be if I got my VBAC or not. Wow, well, where to begin with that story. The short answer might be disappointing – no, I did not get my VBAC. However, I’m not sad about it, as I might have thought I would be a few months ago (or even a few weeks ago).

This is how it all went down.

As I entered my February break from work still pregnant and went to my last prenatal appointment that Tuesday, I was pretty much at my breaking point emotionally. I felt like I was never going to go into labor naturally. I just wanted my baby in my arms. My OB gave me the option of scheduling a c-section for Friday and if I went into labor before then, then I could proceed with attempting my VBAC as planned. If I didn’t schedule a c-section for Friday then I’d have to schedule one for the following Monday.

After a lot of thought, I went ahead and scheduled a section for Friday. I was having tremendous amounts of anxiety and just felt that if I didn’t go into labor on my own by Friday it likely wasn’t going to happen before Monday.

Well, lo-and-behold, I went into labor on my own (a big achievement, in my mind, since I felt I might not be capable of going into labor by myself) Thursday night. I went in to the hospital at my scheduled time for my c-section, but explained that I had started labor and was hoping that we could see how things were going to progress and possible even let me go home. My OB was on board so long as I had another biophysical profile done to check on the status of the baby.

Well, while the baby seemed to be doing pretty well, he was still measuring very large and his amniotic fluid was super low. My OB was very firm in that she wanted me to have a c-section, almost to the point where I felt a bit betrayed by her 180 degree turn on the VBAC front. That said, I was starting to feel like a c-section might be the best course of action…under certain stipulations.

I wanted, if there was nothing immediately wrong with the baby, to have him given to me right away. No whisking the baby off to be vigorously dried off, poked and prodded, and wrapped up tight so there was a thick swaddling blanket between the two of us as my husband dangled him overhead. I wanted the baby passed to me, I wanted to take him in my arms, just as I would if he had been born naturally, and have him lain across my chest, skin to skin. My OB agreed.

Everything happened very quickly after that. I signed consent forms, had an IV put in, talked to anesthesiology, got prepped for surgery, met a variety of nurses and doctors, and in what felt like a matter of seconds (though it was really probably just a bit over an hour) was taken into the OR.

I felt okay until I came into the OR. It didn’t feel regret or anything, but the sudden gravity of what was about to happen hit me in full force. A mix of “Holy crap I’m about to have a baby” and “Holy crap they’re about to slice me wide open.” I shook. I shook hard. I asked repeatedly, as they gave me a spinal, laid me down on the operating table, felt my legs and abdomen go numb, where my husband was, when I’d get to see him, when he’d be with me. I needed his strength and comfort. I tried really hard not to cry.

But eventually the hubs arrived, took my hands, and tried to not show his own nerves. I felt so relieved with him beside me, especially at first, but as we started to wait for the baby’s arrival, my anxiousness started rise once again.

For one, I still had a cold. I had been getting these nasty colds on and off throughout my pregnancy (you may recall my brutal sinus infection at the very beginning), and this one wasn’t too bad, but it led to a really stuffy nose and a cough. Have you ever needed to cough while having a spinal? Really, really uncomfortable and weird. Between that and the stuffy nose I felt like I was having an asthma attack, but because my oxygen was fine, there really wasn’t anything they could do.

Eventually, however, it didn’t matter, because my doctor began to deliver our little boy. I didn’t get to see him right away, because, of course, that blue curtain was in the way, but a few moments later, the curtain was quickly lowered and my little one was thrust into my arms, bloody, squirming, and shrieking his head off. Perfect.

He lay atop my chest and started to relax, nestling into my arms, falling asleep. I cried as I kissed his surprisingly hairy little head and told him repeatedly, almost idiotically, how beautiful he was. I’ve never experienced natural birth, and now that I’ve had a second cesarean, I likely never will, but I know there is supposed to be high after you give birth. Maybe what I felt wasn’t the same, like I said, I’ll never know, but I was about as high as Mt. Freaking Everest in that moment, and trust me, it wasn’t the pain killers.

I got to hold my little man while the stitched me back up and got cleaned up. After a bit a nurse took him for just a moment to weight and measure him, then he was promptly returned to my arms and we were wheeled into recovery. Once in recovery I started to nurse him (a struggle at first, but now, nearly eight weeks later, we’re going strong) and bonding really began.

As I finish writing this (it’s taken me a few weeks, coming back and forth), I’m getting ready to start my last week of maternity leave. It’s been an amazing journey so far. I remember changing and learning a lot when E. was born (who, by the way, is an all star big sister), and the same is happening this time. I have learned so much about myself as a person and a mother. I am slowly coming to realize what is important, what my strengths are, and, most certainly, my weaknesses. Above all, I’ve come to see even more strongly, just how precious my little family is and how very lucky we are. I wouldn’t change it for anything and I’d happily do it all over again.

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Elves, Tinself, Paper Chains, and BOOKS!

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Well, let’s start here. Emma, as you can see, decided she would break into the M&Ms I had left over from cookies this past weekend, and then, flushed with embarrassment, went and hid in one of cupboards. You might notice the little orange speck near her on the shelf – apparently she decided to take some of the M&Ms with her. I can’t say I’m entirely unhappy with her eating up some of our treats, because I know I’ve been eating way too much junk!

The cool part about this latest elf trick? The hubs and I both had a hand in it and even  was surprised this morning!

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A jingle bell version of the angel Gabriel.

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Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad.

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A crown for Jesus.

So, since I last updated E. and I have completed three more crafts for Truth in the Tinsel. I’m still really into it and E. is enjoying it, too, particularly the crafts (which has led to a lot of non-Christmas related crafting in our house, which I’m totally down with). It’s been a great experience so far and I like how much I’m relearning about the story of Jesus’ birth and how much E. is learning as we go along.

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The beginnings of our paper chain Christmas tree.

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A very shoddy picture of our wrapped Christmas books.

Now for our last two Christmas…things…(I’m not sure what to call them. They aren’t really traditions because this is our first year doing them.)

As a kid, we always had an Advent calendar. It was usually one of those paper ones where you popped open the doors. Sometimes there might even be pieces of sort of stale tasting cheap chocolate! I remember loving my next-door-neighbors’ calendar, which was a pretty wooden one with little doors where there might be candy or little slips of paper with clues for finding early Christmas gifts.

While I do (I promise) have really fond memories of our paper Advent calendars, I have always dreamt of having the lovely wooden Advent calendar I coveted for so long. But that didn’t happen for this year and I devised a different (and free) version of an Advent calendar for this year.

I saw in Pinterest a Christmas tree made from construction paper rings that you took apart over the course of Christmas season. I liked the idea, but wanted to put my own twist on it. First of all, I’d had to make something only to slowly take it apart. So, I decided we would construct a paper chain tree rather than take one apart. In addition to that, I felt like I should add a little something to the paper strips to make this Advent “calendar” a bit more interactive. So, on each strip I wrote either a question, fact, or activity for E. and I to do (or E. and the hubs, depending on who’s home and available). Some examples: Did you know that polar bears live at the North Pole, too. (I play a little fast and loose with my facts.) What do you think baby Jesus would like for his birthday? Let’s call up Grandma and Grandpa and sing Jingle Bells!

It wasn’t a hit right away, because I made the fatal mistake of forgetting (twice!!) to let E. help make the chain and just reading her what was on the strips of paper. But after letting her do the taping and whatnot, it was a hit.

The very last thing I have, though it’s the first thing we do each morning, are the books. Twenty-four wrapped Christmas books. Holy crap. It took me a few nights to get to all of them, and poor E. was barely able to contain herself when she saw this pile of wrapped packages growing on our highest shelf (by the way, Emma the Elf got ALL the credit from E. for wrapping the presents – totally not fair as it didn’t even cross her mind that I could have done it!). I hate to say it, but I think she’s been a tiny bit sad each morning to open a package and have it be a book she already has. I explained to her that all the packages were likely books, and ones that she had at that, because I had noticed that a whole bunch of our Christmas books were missing (yes, I actually own MORE than twenty-four Christmas books). This was actually the first morning where she was really happy with the book she opened. I think it’s slowly growing on her.

Hey, at least I’m excited!

Four and a Half

With this baby brewing in my belly, it’s hard to not become nostalgic about my big baby, E.

Four and a half is very grown up…and extremely childish (the good kind). I’ve caught myself saying things to E. that I distinctly remember my mom saying to me, except I think I was sixteen or seventeen at the time. Example: It’s getting really exhausting to argue every little detail with you! She’s able to do math which blows me away, and her love of books and learning her letters and drive to write seem so out of place with the baby girl I held in my arms for so long. 

She can seem so old, but then I’m  reminded of just how much she is truly a little girl. Her baby dolls that are dragged from the house to the car to the grocery store. Her impossibly small, but oh-so fashionable jeans and shirts. Her quick willingness to climb into my lap and wrap those arms around me, her chubby little hands clasped behind my neck. 

This age, four and half and this little girl, are so precious to me right now. It’s not as though she was not precious to me before or that any other age were less special, but, despite the multiple frustrations of a too smart preschooler, there is something I’d love to bottle about this time in E.’s life. I love that she can simultaneously be so brilliant and wise, but without the jadedness and lack of innocence that we so often find ourselves plagued with later in life. I wish she could be like this forever. To be so smart and so loving, to eager to learn through play, to not take herself too seriously. To be naive about some things, but wise enough about others. It’s a tall order for children as they get older these days, and it’s not to say that some of these most loved traits won’t stick around for years to come, if we help preserve them…But I know some of the protective shell of early childhood will crumble away and no matter how I desperately try to paste it back on her, it’ll only get knocked off again. 

And I suppose that’s part of growing up. 

 

Summer Lovin’

One of my favorite memories of growing up are family vacations. We never did any very extravagant trips – no trips to Disney, anyway – but my parents tried to take us places, sometimes not all that far from home, and made those little family adventures fun.

Now that I’m grown up and E. is getting older (I can hardly believe she’ll be four in less than a month) and we’re contemplating the next addition to our family, I’m itching to make a go of our first real family vacation this summer. Because I’m in education I’m lucky enough to have the entire summer off (I guess it balances out the fact that I get paid beans), so I’ve got a solid two month stretch to figure out when we’ll go (and luckily, the hubs has hardly used any of his vacation time since he started his “new” job last June, so he’ll have a few days saved up as well).

While we’re not sure just when we’ll be going, a destination has been picked:

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We live in Maine, the vacation state, the way life should be, we’re open for business (our latest slogan from our wonderful governor – you can decide for yourself if I’m being sarcastic or not). Even when I didn’t live here as a little kid, we still vacationed here, because my grandparents’ had a home in the town where we eventually moved. I love Maine, and I totally encourage people who haven’t come to visit, because this is an amazing state, from the beautiful western Mountains with it’s ski resorts and great hiking, to the coast with it’s sandy beaches and yummy lobsters, to the north, with it’s ridiculous amount of untouched land and state parks to explore.

I’ve been coming to and living this state my entire life. I get to be on “vacation” every day. We didn’t go anywhere except Old Orchard Beach last year and didn’t do one night of actual camping all summer long and we didn’t feel like we missed it, because there is so much to do as a tourist in your home town.

BUT.

This year we want to start a tradition of checking out different states, start camping again, and spend time learning about what else is out there for fun, food, and people. We chose Vermont as our first destination because it’s close, neither one of us has ever really been (I went once to check out the University of Vermont and didn’t get to see much of the state or even Burlington, for that matter), and I lived in Massachusetts, we live in Maine currently, and New Hampshire is crazy close, so we go there frequently and will probably return for our anniversary at the end of August, SO Vermont was the next logical stop.

I am so incredibly excited. My last out of state vacation was back in ’98 or ’99, when I was still in elementary school (we visited Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. – a vacation I so want to recreate for E. when she’s older). The few glimpses I got of Vermont when we visited UVM’s campus about seven years ago have stuck with me all this time later and I’m looking forward to seeing those mountains, picturesque fields, and quaint towns and cities all over again.

I’m pushing hard for a camping trip not too far from Burlington and on Lake Champlain. Husband wants the Green Mountains (if someone can give me a general idea of the proximity of the Green Mountains to Burlington, that would be amazingly helpful). In the end, I don’t think I’ll mind too much where we end up – I’m just excited to be going somewhere different, even if, in actuality, it’s not all that different from Maine.

Other places we plan on going this summer:
The White Mountain National Forest for a more unplugged camping trip (basically, there are sites you just walk up to and pitch a tent – no room for our pop-up there)

Old Orchard Beach, which is a perennial vacation spot for our predominantly French Canadian family (OOB is THE vacation spot in Maine for French Canadians – I hear more French there than English, for the most part).

Scituate, Massachusetts is on the south shore of Massachusetts (my mom’s old stomping grounds) and is where my aunt currently lives. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she’ll invite us all down for a stay again this summer at her beautiful home just a short walk from the ocean.

My parents’ house is across the street from a lake that provides miles and miles of great boating, swimming and fishing. We love visiting, and it helps that their house is lovely and only 20 minutes away.

Our local beach! It doesn’t get better than a cute little sandy beach on a lake, a picnic lunch, and a few hours of playing in the water, laying in the sun, and then going for an ice cream afterward!