Thursday, November 26, 2009


We had a great Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's house...21 people total. 13 adults, 6 kids aged 2-6 and 2 babies. It was a bit wild, as it should be with kids this age, and definitely wonderful.

The highlights:

Gage is thankful for "The 'Little Gardeners' book at my Grandma's house." Lila is thankful for "My healthy Mommy. And my healthy Daddy." (That one nearly made me cry.) Josie, if she could talk, would most certainly be thankful for my breasts.

Gage ate very well, having second servings of the veggies, and looked around the room at everyone talking and laughing. He stage-whispered to me, "I thought Thanksgiving Feasts were supposed to be quiet." Ha! It'll be a long time before we have a quiet Thanksgiving...and I think I prefer the loud ones anyway.

Lila sat next to my dad, her beloved Pop-pop, during dinner. At one point she took a bite of squash and got that deer-in-the-headlights look. She glanced around and took my dad's napkin off his lap - ignoring her own napkin - and spit her bite of squash into his napkin. She wiped her tongue once or twice and balled up the napkin. "Here, Pop-pop," she said, handing it back to him. Gross, Lila! My dad laughed and surely saw a bit of his own influence in his grand-daughter's sneakiness.

All in all, dinner was a great success. And I'm already hungry again.

Some Random

I am totally, completely in love with Josie. We all are. It's amazing how much this tiny girl moves us...she's definitely something special.

The smell of the hospital...especially the green hand soap...makes me want to cry. I wish I could smell that soap once a month for the rest of my life. It brings me right back to my each baby.

Josie looks a lot like Gage as a newborn. Especially her profile.

Gage and Lila love their new baby sister so much. They often ask to hold her, and I always say Yes. They sit on the couch and hold her in their little laps, and stare at her sweet squishy face. "I like her! I really like her!" they always say, as if surprised.

I know that everything I'm thinking and feeling right now is riddled with hormones, so I am trying to take it with a grain of salt. That said, I totally want a fourth baby someday. Right now I'm all about Josie, and trying to wring every moment of babyhood out of her, but I definitely feel like we'll have one more. Someday.

Gage and I have been calling her 'Jos.' Like, rhymes with 'Most' but without the 't.' I like it.

Speaking of crying, I was actually brought to tears when I heard a little song from a baby toy that has been in the attic for two years. Actual tears. From a battery-operated musical toy. And so it goes.

Unbelievably (and again: riddled with hormones), I am already nostalgic for my baby belly. Also, I CANNOT get over the fact that this kid was INSIDE me a week and a half ago! Geezum! How did THAT work!?

Josie seems wise - she has big, alert eyes and is quiet and observant. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out...whether or not those qualities stay. She's all potential right now.

My first beer in ten months was nice...but rather anticlimactic.

I forgot how much I'm charmed by the little birdy mouth of a nursing baby...the way she twists her neck and fish-kisses my bicep. She knows how to get her point across, for sure.

I'm really, really happy.

She's Here!

Josephine Lynn, AKA Baby Josie, was born on Monday, November 16th, at 5:20 AM at 7 pounds and 19 inches.

*Warning* Detailed birth story follows! (Written 11/20/09)

Saturday night I had what I thought was yet another case of false labor. I've had many (at least a dozen) instances of lots of contractions, increasing in intensity and getting closer together, but never quite *painful* and they always ended abruptly. I learned that the best thing to do is try to go to sleep ASAP, and if the contractions wake me up…I'll deal with it then. Every time that I had false labor at night the contractions were gone by morning.

Sunday morning they were still there, but still irregular and not painful. The kids and I took a walk around the neighborhood, then went to the grocery store with my mom. Our dear babysitter Abbey volunteered to come watch the kids, knowing that I was really close to having Josie. She came over and I called the doctor at 4:00 PM on Sunday and said, "I don't think I'm in labor yet but things are starting." He told me to call back when the contractions got more intense.

Mike and I walked around the neighborhood for a while and decided to go out to dinner. I still wasn’t sure that I was in labor, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I had a serious craving for fajitas so we went to Jack Creek, and got hot wings as well, just in case spicy food would help things along. We got home, put the kids to bed, and settled in. At 9:00 PM I got my first painful contraction. I wrote down the time, and made a decision to write down only the contractions that were painful. I’ve had so many contractions lately that I can drive myself crazy trying to record them – this painful one was notably different.

I continued to have painful contractions for the next few hours, but they were few and far between. I’d have a painful one, then a couple of minor ones, then another painful one. The painful ones were about 20 minutes apart but the minor ones were every five or six minutes. At 1:30 AM I had a *very* painful contraction and I called the doctor. “I think I should go to the hospital,” I told him. He agreed.

My parents came over so Mike and I could leave. My dad was going to stay with the kids until I had the baby, and my mom was going to give us a head-start and then come over to the hospital to be with me. While we waited for them, and on the drive to St. Luke’s my contractions got a bit more painful and a bit more regular. I still wasn’t sure that this was the real thing, but I was getting more convinced by the minute.

I was admitted to triage on the labor & delivery floor at 2:00 AM, and changed into a gown, got hooked up to a monitor. Here’s where things get interesting.

We had a decent nurse, but she wasn’t very proactive. Once she hooked up the monitor she left, and we didn’t see anyone for maybe a half hour. Then a med student came in, and I swear I think it was his first day in L&D. He seemed to have very little idea about what, exactly, labor was. He gave us this whole speech, with lots of fumbled words and vague descriptions, basically saying, “We’ll do an ultrasound to determine if the baby is head-down.” (She was – and I knew this.) “We’ll check you to see if you’re dilating.” (Yes, please, now.) “I can see by the monitor that you’re having contractions every four minutes. We’ll leave you hooked up to the monitor for a few hours to see if you’re really in labor.” (Um, what?)

He left again without checking me or doing the ultrasound, and popped his head in ten minutes later. “It’s going to be a while before anyone comes in to see you,” he said. “A woman has just unexpectedly gone into labor.” (Again: Um, what?) Turns out he meant someone progressed much faster than they were expecting (a hint of what’s to come?) and was ready to push. “Let the nurse know if anything changes.”

Two minutes after he left I told Mike, “No way am I waiting for him. I wasn’t even checked yet!” My contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and quite uncomfortable. “Tell the nurse I’m feeling pressure.” This wasn’t a lie – I *was* feeling more pressure – but it was a bit of a prompt. When my sister had her third baby the nurse mentioned in hush-hush tones that the way to get your cervix checked was to mention the word ‘pressure.’

My nurse said, “Oh, we’ll check you right away – the woman who is having her baby now was feeling pressure – turns out she was 10 centimeters!” I said, “I’m hoping for an epidural, so I’d like to get that started before I get too far along.” Here’s the second hint of what’s to come: the nurse said, “She was hoping for an epidural, too, but she didn’t get one!” Ha. Ha.

She checks me – I’m 3-4 centimeters. Good. Not too far – plenty of time left. But my contractions are coming harder and faster, and I’m getting really uncomfortable. The nurse says that my cervix is super thin, and any movement (or any randomness) will break my water. The nurse also says she’s going to start an IV and take blood – they have to check your blood in the lab and you have to have 1-2 bags of saline through the IV before you can get the epidural. By now it’s about 3:30 AM.

She takes the blood, she starts the IV. S l o w l y. I can’t believe how long she’s taking. I can see that she’s not busy, and I can see that she’s not hurrying. My mom arrives – I’m glad she’s there. The med student comes back in with a doctor, the doctor checks my cervix. I’m 5-6 centimeters. They all exclaim over how quick that was – going from 3-4 to 5-6 in twenty minutes. Mike and I look at each other – I think it’s this moment that we know I’m not getting the epidural. Obviously I’m progressing quickly, and they’re not reacting to me quickly at all.

I’m moved to a delivery room via wheelchair and by now it’s about 4:00. The contractions are two minutes apart now, and each one lasts about a minute. It’s very intense. My own doctor comes in to check me and I’m 8 cm. He wants to break my water. I’m scared, because I know that the contractions will get worse when the water is gone, and the contractions are already pretty darn bad. The nurse says that my bloodwork is not done, so the anesthesiologist cannot yet put in the epidural. My doctor says: “Do you want to do this on your own?” I feel tears well up in my eyes but I nod my head ‘yes.’

He tells me he’s going to break my water and check my cervix again, although it’s only been a few minutes. I feel the gush, then I feel an awful pain that makes me groan out loud. I can’t believe how much this hurts – I’m vaguely embarrassed at my vocal reaction – but then it’s over. “I tried to stretch out your cervix,” the doctor says. “Sometimes when I break the water I can stretch the cervix out to ten, if you’re already close. But I couldn’t. You can still get the epidural if you want it.”

The contractions seem to never let up. I can barely catch my breath. Mike keeps saying “You’re going to be okay. You’re doing great.” I finally have to tell him “I know. Please stop talking.”

The anesthesiologist is on his way, finally, and it’s 4:30 AM. I’m struggling to breathe through the contractions. The nurse keeps telling me to breathe differently, and, as it turns out, wrong. My instincts told me to breathe shallow, quick breaths. The nurse kept telling me to take deep, long breaths. Her way was much more difficult for me to do, more painful, but I tried to do as she said. I wish she had let me do it my own way – I believe that would have made things a bit easier. I wish I had known that my instincts were telling me to breathe the way Lamaze teaches – then I could have stood up for myself and told the nurse to shove it.

The anesthesiologist gets held up – there’s an emergency.

Another half hour of breathing through the contractions. Each one seemingly worse than the last. Many of them double contractions – I’d have a normal contraction, feel it begin to let up, then it would worsen again, right into another contraction. I just had to deal. There was no other choice. I was grateful for the single contractions – at least that way I got a bit of a break. With every contraction I’m breathing vocally on each exhale – I’m dragging a breath in and humming it back out.

My mom, who had three babies with no pain relief, gave me a brief coaching session. She told me not to be afraid of pushing – that the painful part of labor was the contractions, not the pushing. I nodded my head and gripped her hand harder.

The anesthesiologist finally arrives, after 5:00 AM. I struggle into a sitting position so that he can insert the catheter into my spine. While sitting I have three contractions. It’s absolutely essential not to move during this procedure, and the contractions were the worst yet. I know that being in an upright position contributed to the intensity of the contractions, but what I didn’t know was that my body was transitioning into the final stage of labor. The first contraction I breathed through, focusing only on getting through it. I’m now groaning through each inhale *and* exhale, and, again, I’m vaguely embarrassed, but not nearly enough to try to stop myself. The second contraction felt different – like the baby was pushing down, hard. I figured, again, that it was because I was sitting up. The third contraction coincided with the anesthesiologist finishing up, and with this third contraction my body started to push the baby out.

It wasn’t a conscious choice, and it wasn’t something that I felt I could control. My body was pushing and I was along for the ride. I’ve heard the phrase ‘urge to push’ but this was not an urge, it was a *need.* When the nurse realized what was happening she shrieked for me to stop pushing and I said back “I can’t!” She said, “You have to!” so I tried my best to stop. I was still sitting up at this point - they got me onto my back again and the room went mad. Nurses and doctors came running in, donning scrubs, adjusting the table. I had another ‘pushing’ contraction and managed to fight the urge – easier to do when I was on my back. When I was sitting up it was near impossible.

My doctor felt the baby’s head and said, “She’s still pretty high up, but we can start pushing.” I said, “Is the epidural in?” The anesthesiologist said, rather sheepishly, “The catheter is in, but the medicine hasn’t been turned on yet. It will take 15 minutes to work.” There was no waiting. This baby was coming NOW.

With the next contraction by OB talked me through it: “Take a deep breath, let it out. Take another deep breath, let it out. Then you push.” I knew how to push – this is my third baby, after all, and the first two came out pretty easily (I’m lucky to have small babies). I curled myself up, rounding out my back, and tucked my chin to my chest. I gave it my all and I felt the baby move down. I took another quick breath and pushed again. HARD. Her head was out. The doctor paused to unwrap the cord from around her neck – it was looped once. I felt like there was no way that my body could accommodate this baby coming out, but I know that there’s no other choice. I grunted “It *does* hurt!” while thinking about my mom’s words from earlier, and some part of my brain reminded me to focus, and I didn’t try to talk again. I took one more breath and pushed one last time. Her body was delivered, and she was out. She was out in one contraction.

And I felt every tiny little bit of it, start to finish.

Amazingly, as soon as she was born I felt a thousand times better. I had no stitches, which was great. I was in a scary, dark place for the last two hours of labor – it was terrifying and incredibly painful. But as soon as she was born it was over – the sun rose and everything was beautiful. I felt great. I felt amazing, actually.

The only lingering dark cloud was that awful med student sticking his head in the room to say “I guess you really were in labor!” Yeah. Thanks for that, pal.

We got to snuggle our new little one for two hours while the nurse filled out paperwork that should have been done before the delivery – but of course there had been no time. After those two hours I walked myself to the bathroom to clean up and I felt really good. I couldn’t believe how normal I felt. I was tired, of course, and sore, but not nearly as much as I expected.

I’m actually grateful that things turned out the way they did – sure it was a difficult time, but I did it. I’ve always been interested in natural childbirth but I was too intimidated to try it. This time I had no choice, and I am truly amazed at what my body did, what I did. It was trying, for sure, and definitely the most intense physical experience I’ve ever had, but then it was over – it ended. And I got a beautiful baby and a new respect for my body.

I keep looking at her, especially at her head, and marveling over how big she is. I’m smiling as I write this, because I know she’s not big, but she looks impressively large, considering where she came from. I’m totally in love with her. I’m also more than a little in awe of myself right now - my body and my ability to take things as they come. I handled it, for sure, and I’m really very proud of that.

I’m also glad that both Mike and my mom were there through the whole thing – we made a good team and none of us freaked out. We each saw solid, stand-up parts of each other that maybe, under normal circumstances, you don’t really see.