A birth story. Hello again.

Well, my daughter is 15 weeks old, so it’s about time I crawled out of my maternity leave cave and put my birth story on paper. Or, uh, screen. I have been back to work for two weeks now and I am surviving. It’s even a little bit nice to get out of the house on a regular basis.

I have a lot of thoughts on being a new mom but that’s not what this post is about.  Having a baby is crazy. Let’s talk about that.

At 36 weeks, my doctor put me on bed rest because my amniotic fluid was low at a 7. While it wasn’t dangerously low (Between 7 and 25 is normal), it was low enough to take precautions because I was at risk for preeclampsia and a few other things according to a previous test they had done. So for a couple of days, I was off work, I had to cancel some appointments (goodbye, last pre-baby haircut), and I wasn’t supposed to venture out of the house much. Just me and my water bottle hanging on my couch. After 3 days, I was about to lose my mind. I was still doing work and also watching some Netflix (hey, Jane the Virgin!), but sitting around was mind-numbing. I also painted our front door (while sitting and drinking water) because I literally couldn’t sit around anymore. I am sure painting is not on the list of approved bed rest activities, but honestly at that point, I wasn’t too worried about it.

The Wednesday of that week, the babe had not been moving as much as normal, so we went in to Labor and Delivery, per my doctor’s instructions. The baby was fine, but we saw that my fluid was still low. It was higher, at a 9, but not as high as I had hoped. I kept chugging water. I kept not really moving.

At my 37 week appointment, August 1, I was sure that sitting and hydrating had done it’s job and I would be off to work. So, I went to the appointment freshly showered and in a dress. I went in for the ultrasound and the tech, Debbie, was ready to go. She told me that she could see on the screen that I was having contractions. Which I thought were just Braxton-Hicks but were actual contractions. She is usually a chatty Kathy so I was concerned when she suddenly stopped talking. I knew the baby was okay – she had assured me – and as always, I could see her dancing on the screen. But Debbie said she needed to talk to my doctor about something and left the room. My husband and my mom were both in the room with me and we kind of all just awkwardly looked at each other. I said, “that doesn’t seem good.” And everyone agreed. Then I proceeded to read the screen of the ultrasound that was left up. I was getting good at that since I had so many at the end of my pregnancy. Some quick math told me that my fluid had not corrected at all while on bed rest, but instead had dropped.

We were ushered into a room with my doctor to discuss the ultrasound results. She said my fluid was only at a 2 (crazy low…a 7 is low). And then she said we had a couple of options. One – go to the hospital and check my fluid again with their fancy machine to be sure the number was correct. Two – have a baby tomorrow.

I looked at my husband. I looked at my mom. Then I said “I guess we are having a baby tomorrow.” It honestly seemed silly to me to recheck the fluid. Debbie had checked it several times. And I knew it had just been going down since I was in Labor and Delivery. So, without much consideration, I decided it was go-time. On the outside, I was confident and ready. On the inside, I was just yelling “SHITTTTT OMG WTF FRICK.” One comfort was that my OB was on call the next day, so she would be delivering my baby. I felt really good about that.

I called my dad. I called my brother. I made arrangements to take our dogs to my mom’s house. I called my boss to let her know I would see her in November. I went home and I nervously tried to finish three weeks worth of work in my kitchen while I ate a bagel. I finished packing my bag. And off we went to the hospital.

They gave me Cervadil first to get me started around 5:30 that evening. My mom and step dad brought me Chick Fil-A. What a last meal! And then I just hung out and watched Blue Bloods. My poor husband slept in a recliner, kind of. In the morning, August 2, they started me on Pitocin around 9:30. Then I waited. The labor wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t enjoyable at all. I progressed pretty consistently at about 1 cm. per hour, which felt like forever. Then my contractions really kicked in and that was miserable. I waited until I was about 6 cm. to get the epidural and not a damn moment too soon. Not sure why I was trying to be a hero. I had chills for hours, from the epidural. I don’t handle medicine really well sometimes. That part was hard. I was so cold and I was shivering. I was covered in warm blankets but nothing helped. The epidural also only took on the right half of my body at first. They had me lay on my side and eventually, I was numb. It was blissful.

I had some visitors. My mom was there the whole time. My step dad came up. My brother and my sister-in-law came up. My dad came up. The day is mostly a blur. Once I got the epidural, I was pretty happy. I tried the peanut ball and switched positions several times. My doctor was in a delivery and I heard a lot of yelling outside my room, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get going as it seemed like everyone was busy. At 8 pm, my nurse came in and said it was time to push. Just a side note, I had the most wonderful nurses. They were amazing and sweet and answered all of my questions. I was very lucky.

My OB came in and we started the pushing. While I couldn’t really feel it, at that point I was so exhausted that pushing sounded terrible. It wasn’t painful but it was tiring. My labor team, as my mom and husband like to call themselves, were instructed to stand behind my head and behave. They did not. Thank god they were there because they were short-staffed and we only had the one nurse in my room. My husband was on my right leg and my mom on the left because I wasn’t able to hold them up. I pushed for an hour and a half. The labor was actually hilarious because my mom and husband were teasing me and acting as if they were doing all of the work. At one point, I was puking into a bowl and my mom asked my husband, over me puking, if he was feeling okay. Story of my life…

After 35 hours of being in active labor, our daughter Winnie Jean was born. 6 lbs 5 oz of squishy little love. She came out screaming with a head of hair. It was the longest day but meeting her was worth it. I held her immediately and I was pretty much in love, despite being too tired for any emotions. I couldn’t believe I had done it and it was amazing.

winnie

Also amazing was having a turkey sandwich about an hour later. I missed deli meat.

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Kung fu fighting.

What in the hell is going on in my body right now? Someone, who is already really large, is kicking me 24/7. It is the most painful thing ever. Miserable actually. And it almost never stops. I am glad to know she is doing okay in there but Jesus Christ. The kicking is getting to be intolerable. Kicking my lungs. Kicking my bladder. Perhaps she is teaching a spin class or doing the uneven bars on my rib cage? She is constantly flipping, rolling, dancing, doing cartwheels (I assume) or doing the Wobble. But there’s just not enough room in there for these antics. We are so tight on space. She is way too big for her residence and it’s basically making it impossible for me to sit down, drink or eat, or really even live without crying. It’s very intense and I cannot wait for 6-8 weeks from now when that is not a thing anymore.

I hate to say this because I know I am lucky to be pregnant and I am also very excited for this little nugget to get here, but man, pregnancy is not my thing. Many women say that pregnancy makes them feel beautiful or sexy. Those people are the worst. Because this is the least beautiful I have ever been in my life. At every step of this process, I have had the worst possible side effects. I have had fucking miserable morning sickness that lasted months longer than it was supposed to. I had nosebleeds for months. I have had headaches and dizziness. I have had trouble breathing. Horrendous heartburn. I pee like 10,983 times a day. My skin is itchy. I am fucking exhausted. Sometimes I am a little bitchy, also.

The only thing I have going for me is that my metabolism is amazing right now and I can eat a lot of cookies without getting super obese. But I am not sure that’s enough to convince me not to have an only child.

Too much information.

Because the first few months of being pregnant were full of feeling terrible, misery and worry, I didn’t do anything. I barely even thought about the fact that at the end of the pregnancy part, there was a human child joining our household. I was strictly surviving. We bought a crib and a changing table and some curtains for the nursery, but that was the extent of our planning.

Now I am in planning mode. I like to plan. My friends and husband are sometimes annoyed by this, but I do not like to be spontaneous. I am not really going to do something on a whim. I mean, I can do that. But when it comes to events, for example, trying to get ten people into a restaurant for someone’s birthday or anything that requires the coordinating of more than 2 people’s schedules, I like to have a game plan. I have now entered the planning portion of this pregnancy. Not necessarily even planning for the baby. Right now, I am mentally preparing for the birth. Planning my mental game plan for something that cannot be planned.

Planning for me starts with information. And right now, I am on information overload. I am gathering as much information as is humanly possible and sufficiently freaking myself out. I have signed up for several classes and a tour at my hospital. I have read a few books. I have read a little too much online. I have asked other people about their own birth experiences and grilled my doctor. And I have been binge-listening to this podcast, the Longest Shortest Time. (Highly recommended). Basically, I have soooo much information that I am ready for almost anything.

This is a huge mistake.

When you have a lot of information, you can also give your mind permission to wander all over the place. While I like to be prepared, preparing for a birth just seems pointless. But I know I can’t stroll into the hospital with any contractions and not know what to expect. So with a lot of research under my belt (no pun intended, I cannot wear belts right now). I know what to expect. A little too much.

I feel confident that I know every possible way to have a birth – in a hospital, in a tub full of water, etc. From epidural to hypnosis, I know how to anticipate dealing with the pain of contractions and delivery. And more graphically, I now know the things that can happen to you during a vaginal birth, including an episiotomy which I definitely do NOT want and very much recommend you do not Google. I also know almost everything that can happen during a C-section, including horrifying details of the surgery. I know about anesthesia, the general layout and what may or may not happen if everything is routine. I also, unfortunately, know all about what can go wrong.

So, I have about 4 months max before this kid gets here and basically, right now, I am ready for anything. And 100% completely horrified.

21 weeks!

We had our anatomy scan yesterday and our follow-up with the high risk doctor to talk about the scary blood test. As it turns out, everything is fine. It appears that sustaining yourself on a three month diet of Sour Patch Kids and water is good for the baby. Anyway, the test was apparently a false alarm. Now I am taking baby aspirin every day to hopefully prevent any chance of preeclampsia and for now, go back to baking the baby and not worrying so much. But today we celebrate 21 weeks! Over the half way mark!

Here’s a little head shot from the appointment.

baby

Baby G was very busy dancing and talking and swallowing and kicking me while we were at the doctor. It was very strange to see her moving around and also watch her moving around on the big screen. But good to know she is happy in there. She also had her legs up over her head at one point. Definitely did not get that flexibility from her mama. She was hanging onto her big toe with her hand and blocking her face from the ultrasound camera so that was kind of cute.

When I used to run a lot, I had a mental habit of counting down. I always waited until half way while running to start counting down. Once I was half way done, I mentally ticked off the miles until I was finished. It helped me stay sane and not count the seconds I was moving my body. My running partner/friend/BFF Bethany also did this, I found out the other day. It’s good to be at that place in pregnancy. To be on the downhill slide. While I know it gets more gigantic and less comfortable from here on out, it’s good to be in the second half of this baby-growing marathon. And happy to get a good report card for the little miss.

Birth plan.

People are alllllllways talking about a birth plan. Natural birth. Meditation. Home birth. Hospitals. Midwives. Doulas. Epidurals. Breastfeeding. C-section. Blah. Blah. Blah. I think it’s funny when people ask me what my birth plan is because a) I haven’t considered it much because that is about 5 months away and I am a procrastinator and b) to me, it’s totally ridiculous to try to plan your child’s birth.

I haven’t taken a lot of time to consider my ‘birth plan’ because what the hell is a birth plan? How in the world can you possibly make a plan for something you have absolutely no control over? So when people ask me ‘what is your birth plan?’ my response is to birth a child. The end.

I know a lot of people who were dead set on not getting an epidural. Most of those people did not get an epidural with their first child. But most of those people DID get an epidural with their second child. Why? Because not getting an epidural and being in labor for more than three minutes is a really painful combination. I don’t need to be a martyr. I want a healthy baby. I don’t get a medal at the end, so why not be as comfortable as possible? Anyway, you can power through your birth if you want, and you will be my personal hero. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s smooth sailing, I won’t be getting an epidural just for the hell of it. I just don’t have any aversion to the idea of a less painful birth experience. My goal is to let my doctor, a medical professional who spent years in school studying women’s bodies and babies, tell me what course of action is best. That’s why she makes the big bucks. She does. I have seen her car.

I know women used to give birth in a field or in a tent. They also didn’t shop at Motherhood Maternity or get maternity leave. But that was a long ass time ago, and I am not those women. What kind of woman am I? The kind that pays good money (through co-pays) to visit my doctor every four weeks to check on this fetus. If I believe in going to a doctor every four weeks to check on this fetus, then I sure as hell believe a medical facility is a good place to birth a child. I think it’s amazing that some women go natural and give birth in a pool of water or without any drugs. But I am a nervous person. A nervous person who believes in the power of medicine. And I have no problem whatsoever trying to do everything in my power medically to have a healthy baby at the end. I like my doctor. I have trusted her thus far. So when August rolls around, I will be meeting her at the hospital to do this thing.

The thing about being pregnant is nothing goes according to plan. You can’t exactly predict when you will get pregnant. You can’t assume everything will be fine. You can’t even really assume your pregnancies will be alike, should you decide to have more than one child. You might have morning sickness or you may not. You might gain 15 lbs. or you might gain 70 lbs. Of course, when it comes to birthing the child, it’s great to have a goal or a plan. But to me, that is just a reallllllly loose idea of what you want to happen. Because you might plan to have an epidural-free birth at 40 weeks and end up being in labor for a hundred hours and get an epidural. Or you might have a complication at home and need to be in the hospital to have a safe birth. Or you might think you would never have a c-section and end up having one anyway because the kid won’t cooperate. None of this is in your control. This kid is going to do what it wants to do and your body is going to respond however it wants. In fact, the moment you get pregnant is the last moment you have control over anything again. Haha. But it really is. You have to learn patience, strength, flexibility all at once to be a parent. And the pregnancy part is the test. It teaches you a lot about patience. And worry. And other emotions parents feel. And there’s no reason to feel like less of a woman if your birth plan falls through. Because, in the end, you grew and birthed a freakin’ kid. And that’s a good enough reward for me.

 

Twenty weeks.

I (barely) survived 20 weeks of pregnancy. It was in sooo many ways much harder than I ever anticipated. But after spending a good portion of 2016 being tired, sick and more tired, I am feeling human. And my appetite is back! In fact, I celebrated hitting the half way point by eating a brownie. Also a granola bar. Actually two granola bars. And a chicken wrap. And some grapes. And popcorn. And goldfish. Basically an entire vending machine. SERIOUSLY, I AM SO HUNGRY! Are you going to finish that? Asking for a friend.

We have our 20 week/anatomy scan next week (at technically 21 weeks – apparently doctors take spring break?). I had a little scare with some blood tests so I am hoping everything looks just fine at that appointment. I have had one ultrasound since our blood test results, so I am not super worried. Also, follow-up tests came back normal. Apparently there are a lot of false positives on these tests. WHICH IS SUPER. And not stressful at all…so yeah, I am very much looking forward to that appointment. I have never been super into doctors for obvious reasons, but prenatal appointments have, so far, been uneventful or fun, so they are actually something to look forward to. Plus it’s fun to see the little thing in there and what she looks like. And that she has arms and hands and feet and lips and whatnot.

At my last ultrasound, the tech pointed out her lips, hands, feet, etc. to me. She commented on how cute they were. Honestly, all I saw was a gray blob. I have no idea what she was talking about. I am sure I looked confused/horrified as I stared at a gray and black screen and tried to make out lips. No such luck. I did, however, see my bladder. Which the ultrasound tech said was ‘very full.’ Which I found hard to believe because I peed like thirty seconds before the ultrasound, but she insisted. It was apparently squishing my child’s face. So, now I feel pretty guilty when I have to pee because I may accidentally be smushing the baby.

On the sexy body front, my bump is bumpin’ these days. We just got back from a little mini vacation. We went to Canada for a long weekend, Montreal specifically, and since I couldn’t drink beer, I ate my way through the city. (On a semi-related note, don’t go to Canada in the ‘spring.’ Only go in the hottest part of summer or you will freeze your baguettes off.) As it turns out, a steady diet of chocolate croissants and poutine will take you from not really showing to definitely showing in 4 short days. Hello, friend.

b

Uncomfortable.

You know the series of unfortunate events that occur when you step foot into a Mexican restaurant while hungry. And the chips and salsa come and you haven’t even looked at the menu, so you just jump right in. And you don’t stop to take a drink (or order a drink, if we are being honest) and you don’t really stop to breathe and suddenly most of the chips are gone and you don’t really know what happened but you do know there’s a chip in your hair. And then you order a whole meal anyway …and eat the whole meal anyway. And then after dinner you feel so full,  you think you could explode or that one single sip of Diet Coke could push you over the edge. Oh and also you really need to pee.

That’s what pregnancy feels like. Almost all the time.

I am in the beginning of the uncomfortable stage. I think this stage lasts for the remaining 21 weeks. But I have started the process now and I will be honest, it’s not pretty.

Every morning for the past three days, I have woken up more gigantic than the day before. My stomach skin is so stretchy and tight and hard. It’s kind of gross. Right now I literally cannot imagine a scenario where it continues to stretch in this way until August. Even though I know it will. It seems impossible. I didn’t look all that pregnant until this week. I could certainly pass it off as a little weight gain. And I can probably still hide it a little bit. But it’s out there. And we are now what the moms call ‘popping.’ And that is uncomfortable. Turns out, housing a water balloon full of a mango is uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong. I think pregnant people are adorable. I am that person who sees a pregnant person and admires them from afar and thinks they are basically the cutest thing ever. I love to rub a little pregnant belly (if I know you) and sometimes I will do it without permission, which I now realize is so, so weird. (Sorry, if you are reading this and I have violated your personal space.) But I truly think pregnancy is amazing and adorable and wonderful. Or I did. Until it was me.

It feels really selfish to say it, but while I am 100% so grateful for the amazing things my body and all bodies can do during pregnancy and while I feel incredibly lucky to be pregnant, it’s really hard to accept the new me.

Last year, I spent 6 months training for a half marathon. I worked my ass off, literally. I typically ran 5 days a week and did boot camp on top of that. I lost 25 lbs and was in, arguably, the best shape of my life. I worked so hard to get there. And I liked the way I looked for the first time in a long time.

And now I am selfishly jealous of people with tiny waists. And jealous of the runners I see out on a Saturday morning. Because I used to be that Saturday morning runner. I earned my smaller waist and my much smaller jeans. And now I feel like a lollipop. I feel like my brain hasn’t caught up to what my body is doing. Part of that is my hesitation to get too excited about this pregnancy because I am just honestly so nervous about what can still go wrong. And part of it is just me being a round turd. And so when I look in the mirror and weigh myself, I feel a little panic. And that makes me embarrassed and a little ashamed. Because not everyone gets to be pregnant. And being pregnant is a gift that my brain is taking for granted.

So I am trying really hard to embrace my new body. And I know this is just the beginning. But being pregnant is uncomfortable in so many ways. A lot of ways I just never really even considered. But, trust me, none of this has stopped me from eating cookies.