Monday, August 29, 2011

two years with you


Last year, I wrote about how everything had changed in our first year of marriage. I think it's safe to say even more has changed in our second year.

You supported me as I spent weekends running crazy miles to prepare for the half marathon.

I supported you through a job search and the eventually landing of a great new career! We did grad school together. We dressed up like gnomes.

We went to Belize where we climbed pyramids, drank coconut water, biked along the ocean and swam through caves.

This year we found out we were pregnant, and then went through nine months of physical and emotional changes as we prepared to welcome our son into the world. And then just two and a half weeks ago, he arrived in dramatic fashion. In the few hours of intense pain, I learned to put my trust in you in a way that I never had. Trusting you to be my advocate, to take care of me, to carry me through.

Postpartum, I laugh thinking of the barriers childbirth and recovery breaks down. Discussions I never thought we'd have or supplies I never thought I'd ask for you to pick up at Walgreens. But you've done it all with such ease, humor and kindness making me proud we are this close, even in the weirdest, most vulnerable moments.

Since Henry's arrival we've had moments of awe at what our love created and moments of tears wondering how we will make this all work and still have time for our marriage. Right now we're drowning in diapers, laundry, sleep deprivation and meals from boxes. And it's all a bit overwhelming. But as you tell me daily, we'll get through it together.

The reward is watching you with Henry. They way you obsessively take his picture, smile at his every expression, willingly get up for all the diaper changes at 3 a.m., 4 a.m., 5 a.m... Thinking about you teaching Henry how to be a man just makes me love you more.

I love us and the life we've created. One that we're proud of.

Happy two years Ginny.

Love you forever,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the birth, part three

Read part one and part two.

The consequences of a speedy labor, though, started soon after Shea cut the cord. Little Henry was placed on my chest and we focused our attention on adoring this bundle of perfection.

My midwife was stitching me up for what seemed to be a long time. I don't remember the blood but Shea said there was lots of it. In a chain of events I can't really remember, my face turned white, and my blood pressure dropped to 70/20. I didn't know what that meant exactly except a lot of people rushed into the room including the anesthesiologist and an oxygen mask was placed on me for what Shea describes as a scary 20 minutes.

We found out later that I tore across a major artery combined with the fact that due to my labor being extraordinarily fast, my uterus stopped contracting once Henry greeted the world instead of continuing to contract to shut off the flow of blood. All this led to me losing more than double the amount of blood of a normal laboring woman.
There's a lot of time in between that I can't account for but the next thing I remember is Henry weighing in at 7lbs, 4 ounces and measuring 19 inches long. Then ordering a cheeseburger, fries and apple pie from the hospital cafeteria which did not live up to expectations.

Later, they asked me to try to pee, and I fainted in the bathroom. Once again triggering a rush of nurses into the room along with a horrifying torture device - ammonia. The nurses all joked what a champ I was during labor and now my body was falling apart afterward. I ended up needing a catheter but eventually I was able to focus on our sweet little son and our first visitors.

The next 24 hours were full of visitors, learning how to use my bathroom spray bottle, falling in love with the mesh underwear, and meeting with the onslaught of nurses, pediatricians, photographers and visits from random lab people taking my blood at 3 a.m.

Just 12 hours before we were supposed to head home I started complaining of dizzyness and vision clouded by a million little stars. After a quick blood draw we determined my hemoglobin was at a 7. When I checked in, it was 13. Another fact I don't completely understand but it's something my medically inclined friends hear and get wide eyed. That night I got even more visitors including my midwife who came in at 11 p.m. because she couldn't sleep without checking on me. Have I mentioned how blessed I feel to have her? I also got another IV of fluids and a pelvic exam (hi, terrifying) to check for internal bleeding.

Saturday morning a nurse from the blood conservation team came and explained that basically my body had no more iron and my choices were 1. get a blood transfusion, feel better right away but deal with possibility my body would reject it; 2. Get venafer (iron) infusions that help my body make its own blood over two to three weeks and feel better in a month or; 3. Do nothing, and feel better in six months. I opted for option two. I received one infusion in the hospital and then later, two outpatient treatments over the last two weeks.

Finally, Sunday morning, we got to take our little man home.

Now two weeks later, it's all getting better. My energy levels are returning despite the expected sleep deprivation. And the other healing required some vicodin and a large collection of new-to-me bathroom products. Everyday gets a little better. And if it meant having to do it all again, I would. As long as we get Henry in the end.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the birth, part two

Read part one.

We pulled up to the hospital and the valet opened my door, heard me and said "hmm wheelchair?" Uh yeah, buddy. The nurses took me into the triage room where I had to strip, put on a hospital gown and get checked.  "Well, I have good news and bad news. You're 100 percent effaced but only 1 centimeter."

It was in this moment things turned down a different path. I panicked. "If this is 1 cm pain, how am I going to get to 10 cm? I will surely die. Or pass out from shock. Something must be wrong. I'm going to have a c-section."

The same nurse yelled at me to calm down. She wasn't sure if there was anything they could do since I was only 1 cm. Which if I could have actually spoken, I would have assured her that I was most definitely NOT leaving this hospital without a baby. After checking me again, she reported that I was pushing. "If you think you are in pain now, wait til you rip your cervix." More panic. And later a grievance against snotty nurse who fortunately we did not see again.

I've never been in labor. I've never pushed. And I most certainly did not how to stop pushing. Things didn't get better from there. The nurse botched my IV and a wide-eyed Shea told me not to look. The two-inch long bruise left on my arm now 12 days later is evidence of what probably happened.

Half an hour later, I was checked again. Eight centimeters. EIGHT. Suddenly it all made a lot more sense. The pain I was feeling, the panic, was me in transition. A few minutes later I would be at 10 cm, and I could hear the nurses' shocked whispers in the hallway. I was shaking violently, which they told me was hormones that surge right before pushing.

Then I made a decision I am still processing. I cried, begged, pleaded for an epidural. I told Shea not to be mad at me but I couldn't do it. The nurses and Shea assured me this wasn't "normal" labor and I had nothing to feel guilty about. My strong desire for a natural birth went out the window when my body had no time to prepare and cope with the pain. When I went from one to ten in an hour. There was no lead up, no time for coaching or confidence building. And there was a nurse who induced panic and fear. And the confusion of what was happening and the lag time as I had to wait to push when my body was already ready to go.

I didn't feel the epidural needle. My body was slumped over Shea's with my eyes locked into his waiting for relief. And then it came, like a sweet wave of warm water. I know I could still feel the contractions somewhat because I remember asking "is this one?" but my memory is fuzzy. We waited an hour for the little man's head to turn. The nurse asked me to try pushing just to see how close we were. With one push, the nurse asked Shea if he wanted to see his son's head.

My midwife arrived and with only two more pushes, I was sobbing as my son was placed on my chest.

The consequences of a speedy labor, though, started soon after Shea cut the cord.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the birth, part one

We were prepared for a long labor. The ones where you start out at home, feel cramps that gradually, over hours, work up to painful contractions. We prepared for husband-led coaching, tennis ball back rubs and focal points. We were ready to stay strong through the transition period when panic and doubt set in. We anticipated hours of pushing before we'd get to meet our little man.

At our 39 week appointment, we found out I was 50 percent effaced (had been this way for three weeks) and only 1 centimeter dilated. Baby boy had dropped more but still had a ways to go. After leaving the appointment, I called my mom and cried for an hour. I was tired. Swollen. Ready. That night I cried more and Shea rubbed my back as I bounced on a birthing ball. I felt nothing that would indicate labor was just hours away.

At 4 a.m., I woke up to what felt like strong menstrual cramps that seemed to come in waves. I slept in between them but started to casually check my phone to see how far apart they were coming. Six minutes. At 5 a.m., I got up to walk around. I still figured it was just another bout of false labor that would end up with me sitting at work yet another day. I calmly woke up Shea. I walked around, got the trash ready to go out, and shrugged my shoulders as Shea asked, "so do you think this is it?"

At 6 a.m. we called my mom. We think this is it. Shea made me peanut butter toast, which I couldn't eat. I started a bath but then immediately drained the tub. Next, I tried a shower. Shea washed my hair as I realized standing there was not comforting at all. I dragged myself to bed. Quickly, the contractions were closer to three minutes apart. I was yelling through each contraction - low, monotone yells. We talked about the hospital but I was determined to wait at home until the clinic opened at 8:30 a.m. I was starting to feel like I was drowning in pain, losing control as the contractions started to come on top of each other. I dragged myself to the bathroom afraid I was going to throw up. And there I would lie curled up in the fetal position on our bathmat, yelling Shea's name followed by "please help me" during contractions where a break never came.

This was supposed to be happening during transition. The deep pain, the panic, the doubt - not now, not at home. Shea wisely packed our bags into the car, and somehow I got myself to the car as he put the dog away. The car ride was a blur as Shea tried to call my midwife to tell her we were on our way while speeding down Ward Parkway and running red lights. I was getting no break from contractions and alternating my yelling between "just please help me" and "put on your flashers!"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

one week ago

One week ago this little guy came into our lives.

Henry Charles. 7 lbs, 4 oz, 19 inches. Born at 12:23 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11

Labor and birth went exactly opposite of how we expected and planned. There were disappointments and really scary moments. But all were completely trumped by the miracle of birth, the bond between Shea and I and of course, this amazingly perfect little boy.

I'm working on putting it all into words. Until then, enjoy my favorite picture so far.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

39 weeks

Baby boy,

There's nothing even to say about your development because you're done! Ready! LET'S GO!

Your mother has every sign labor is imminent except the whole regular contraction part and water breaking. Though I've had countless dreams that my water has broken so I feel like that should count. I've got contractions but they are completely unpredictable. Enough so that when I got up for communion Sunday night, I had to brace myself hoping one wouldn't hit and then everyone in the church would cringe as the large pregnant woman appeared to be going into labor in God's house and potentially soil the holy carpet with amniotic fluid.

Assuming you insist on staying cozy and warm, mama's last day of work is Friday. Thank goodness because my focus and patience are wearing thin. The morning greetings of "oh, you're still here?" help a lot.

Your grandparents are on the edge of the patience cliff as well. I have to answer the phone with "Hi, nothingishappeningofimportance." There's the twice-daily texts to check in and the buying a new GPS for the other car "just in case." Though I have become a freak about ensuring the dishes, laundry and vacuuming are done each day because I could most definitely not have a baby if there were a dirty bowl in the sink. Can you tell we're all really excited to meet you?

Technically you've got a whole week til everyone expected you. But when the TOTALLY INACCURATE midwife told me you'd be coming toward the end of July instead, this August 9th business is just silly.

That being said, I hope your gentle, patient, easygoing demeanor now translates to real life. Why don't you just come to the outside, and we'll find out? Please?!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

38 weeks

Most appropriate picture for this week of pregnancy.

Baby boy,

Pregnancy has been great and all, and I love carrying you inside my belly. But let's move on to something new, eh? Our last appointment we did another internal exam and found out things are the same as they were the week before. It means absolutely nothing so we've decided that at our appointment tomorrow we'll just let things like effacement, engagement, dilation and stations be a surprise from now on. Otherwise the progress, or lack thereof, just makes me cranky. The record-breaking heat hasn't really been helping either.

My favorite pregnancy calendar says this about your mother in week 38: "Backaches, joint aches, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, Braxton-Hicks contractions, painful kicks, bladder pressure, stretch marks, itchy skin, swollen ankles, fatigue, dry mouth, mood swings, did I miss anything else in this cavalcade of late-pregnancy hilarity?" 

It's all true minus the heartburn (thank you for dropping early) and stretch marks (KNOCK ON WOOD). I'm also nesting, which really forces me to question why I operate on such low productivity levels in normal life. I can freeze meals, do laundry, make dinner, put together your dresser, wash dishes, make cookies and scrub the floor all in three hours. Rock star.

Your nursery is done.Your diapers are washed. Your clothes are in place. The sheets are in the cradle and the crib. Your baby monitor has batteries. We even got your new car seat installed and will have it safety checked tonight. Everything is ready.

See you soon.


Monday, August 1, 2011

weekend perfection

Dinner of barbecue chicken pizza at Coal Vines
major nesting: washing diapers, installing diaper sprayer, making hospital cookies, freezing muffins, installing infant seat, cleaning out moldy fridge
standing in Trader Joe's line for 20 minutes just to save 70 cents on milk
dinner at BRGR where perceptive male waiter notices tall, metal bar stools are close to impossible for a nine-month preggo and seats us outside on cushioned benches
French toast and Meet the Press in bed
finishing nursery details
four episodes for Friday Night Lights 
lots of naps and cuddling
super amazing salmon recipe
much-needed, perfect weekend with the hubs.

And now, the baby can come. Did you hear that baby?