Monday, July 30, 2012

Phone Photos

Making cookies with Grandma
During the last two weeks of my pregnancy I didn't blog much, but I took a lot of pictures with my phone. Here is a random assortment of pictures from the two weeks before Hazel was born, trying to pass the time while my mom was here visiting. And waiting for a baby to be born.
One of Ellie's favorite activities: building a "BIG" tower with blocks.

Her new "pack pack"

At the zoo with Grandma

Watching soccer with Daddy

We went to a local water park and Ellie loved every second of it.

Ellie had to put her glasses on her forehead like mama.

Almost last family photo of the three of us

Ellie could have gone on this slide a hundred times

Whirlwind of Emotions

Last weekend was a rough welcome into the world of parenting two children. Ellie woke up Friday night with a burning fever and continued to have a fever for two days, peaking at night. I got mastitis (a plugged milk duct) that left me alternating between burning fevers/sweats and chills, and I felt achy and had flu-like symptoms all weekend. Thankfully, this all happened over the weekend so Michael was home to take care of all of us and let me rest a lot. I even woke up from a nap to a cleaned bathroom. I'm a blessed wife, thankful for my partner in parenthood.

After the weekend I had a bit of a panic about my milk supply and Hazel's health, as well as a couple major meltdowns because this whole nursing-an-infant-while-keeping-a-toddler-happy is HARD WORK. I went to the doctor and was relieved to know Hazel is doing fine. She's gaining weight and we have figured out a lot of our nursing issues. My lactation consultant told me I win the prize for not giving up and pushing through a lot of pain, when a lot of people would have given up. Thankfully, I'm healing and Hazel is eating well.

If you had called me at about noon last Monday I would have answered the phone a blubbery, hysterical crying mess. Just ask my husband, who I called while crying and lamenting, "I can't do this." I was nursing Hazel and it was taking way too long because she was so lethargic (part of why I had been worried about her). Ellie was getting impatient and starting to act out and getting into things she's not supposed to, throwing things and being defiant, requiring a time out. How in the world do you give a toddler a time out while simultaneously nursing a newborn?

The answer is probably: you don't. But, I have attempted not one, but two time outs with Ellie this week while seated in my nursing chair. Both times Ellie obediently walked over to her corner, sat down, waited until I told her she was done, walked back over to me, apologized, and moved on. I know that's rare and I need to probably just put Hazel down or come up with an alternative, but in those two instances it worked, and for the sake of my sanity, I was thankful in those moments.

What I've found to work the best is to sit on my bed with Ellie sitting next to me reading books while I nurse Hazel. It gives Ellie something to focus on, plus I can sit there and interact with her and talk about the books. It keeps Ellie somewhat contained and I'm able to give her more attention than I might sitting in the living room in a rocking chair. Slowly but surely, we are figuring this out, one day at a time.

Hazel-3 Weeks Old
I have experienced such a vast array of emotions in the last few weeks:
  • Exhaustion (Should I nap or enjoy a few minutes of quiet during the girls' naps? Or finally take a shower at 2:00pm?)
  • Fear (How am I ever going to handle two little ones? I CANNOT do this. What were we thinking?)
  • Guilt (Am I spending enough quality time with Ellie? Am I holding Hazel enough between feedings? Am I overly emotional and taking it out on my daughter and/or husband?)
  • Impatience (Feeling frustrated and having a short fuse, then feeling guilty for it.)
  • Overwhelmed (Will I ever find a way to cook dinner again, to find a routine? How can I discipline a toddler and deal with her tantrums when I have a crying, hungry, poopy newborn? I ONLY HAVE TWO HANDS!)
But also:
  • Gratitude-I'm blessed and so thankful to have such a sweet family, and two healthy, beautiful girls. I'm grateful for friends and community who have brought us meals. Making dinner is literally the last thing I have wanted to do over the last few weeks. Oh, and Hazel is a pretty good sleeper already, sleeping for stretches of 4+ hours at night.
  • Joy-Ellie and I have had some sweet bonding moments, including painting her fingernails for the first time. It may seem like a silly, trivial thing, but it was a special mommy/daughter moment where I got to really focus on my oldest for a bit.
  • Slowly growing in confidence-Some days, or rather, some moments, I strap Hazel in the carrier and find ways to spend more quality time with Ellie. We've been swimming in her kiddie pool, blowing bubbles, drawing with chalk, doing puzzles, coloring, playing with play-dough. It's these moments that give me hope and confidence that I might be able to do this after all. I just have to focus on these moments in between the crazy, chaotic ones.

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Today's Firsts

    Hazel's First Trip to the Zoo

    First use of the Double BOB
    First outing in the Baby Bjorn
    First Bath
    Today's other first was two kids with blow-outs in an hour. As we were getting ready for the zoo this morning, we suddenly noticed poop all up and down Ellie's leg. We took her straight to the shower. Not sure how it got there or when. Then as I was changing Hazel's diaper on our bed she suddenly sprayed me with a shower of poop: I was covered in it across my whole shirt, my arms and even my legs, and so was our bed. I just started yelling "HELP, HELP, HELP, HELP!" until someone came to help me. That was definitely a first I won't forget.
    Happy One Week to Hazel Jane!

    Hazel Jane's Birth Story

    Walking into the hospital at 41 weeks 1 day pregnant
    We headed to the hospital at 7am on Friday, July 6. I was one week and one day past my due date. My doctor had told us to come in and ask for a “labor check” so that I would be examined for any progress. We quickly learned there were still no changes and my doctor presented us with three options:

    1)    Go home and hope labor starts on its own, and come back Monday and repeat
    2)    Schedule a C-section for later that day
    3)    Break my waters (which she was against because of lack of progress)

    I was disappointed and discouraged. Michael and I had decided beforehand that if these were our options we’d wait. The idea of going home and waiting through the weekend for nothing to happen again was disheartening, but we’d made our choice: we’d go home and wait out the weekend.

    This is where I think the prayers for clarity came through: Michael thought to ask a few more clarifying questions and our doctor mentioned one other option: a Foley catheter. It has a balloon-like end that is inserted and filled with saline solution. The hope is that it puts pressure on the cervix to help dilate and kick-start contractions and labor.

    Our doctor had used it several times with success. We liked that it was a form of induction that if unsuccessful, we could change our minds and still head home. We felt like it was a good compromise because it was a very gentle form of induction without using drugs or more invasive physical force.

    By this time in my pregnancy I had a sense that my body wasn’t going to go into labor on its own, or at least, not before we passed the time my doctor would feel comfortable doing a VBAC. I was beginning to think I inherited my mom’s pregnancy genes, who carried babies several weeks past each due date. With Ellie, it took very little induction to get my labor going, so I was hoping that a small “help” would push things along.

    Checked in and waiting for labor to start
    We were admitted to the hospital, the Foley bulb was inserted, and we waited. We were told it could take 6-12 hours to do anything, but it fell out after 3 hours. I had progressed to a 3! This was exciting news because I never got past a 4 with Ellie throughout my entire labor. A 3 sounded like a great start!

    After walking around for an hour or two, we made the “no turning back” decision to break my waters at 3:30pm. This meant that we were committed and wouldn’t be leaving the hospital without a baby in our arms. Once the waters were broken, we had a limited amount of time to get labor to happen before a C-section would be necessary.

    We spent the late afternoon and evening walking and waiting. I was able to unhook from the monitors and walk for 40 minutes and then be monitored for 20, intermittently. This was a change from my last pregnancy where I was never allowed to be unmonitored. As we walked, the contractions steadily increased in intensity, coming every few minutes.

    By 8 or 9:00pm the contractions had really hit and were painful and close together. I was working on breathing through each one, hoping I was progressing. At midnight I was dilated to a 5 and shortly after I started considering narcotics.

    Having labored for 14 hours with Ellie and never getting past a 4, I had a good idea of my pain tolerance levels going into this labor experience. I had reached it. I needed some help if I was going to make it because a 5 was great given my history, but not nearly close enough to a 10. At the rate of 1cm every 2-3 hours, I knew I needed something to help take the edge off so I could try to relax and rest between contractions.

    I was given a round of phenerol and was told I could get a new dose every hour. It immediately seemed to help lessen the severe intensity of the contractions, and I could rest for a few minutes between. Unfortunately, the effects of the narcotics only lasted 20-30 minutes, not 60. Also, there was some slight concern that baby’s heart rate was a bit lower during contractions, but nothing serious.

    At around 3am, right before I was going to get a third round of phenerol, they checked my progress. I had only progressed 1 cm to a 5 after several hours. I was majorly struggling. The contractions were extremely intense and coming every 2-3 minutes. I was not able to relax between contractions and baby’s heart rate was still dipping with contractions. (This was déjà vu of my experience with Ellie). I was frustrated to only be at a 5 and the phenerol seemed to have lost its edge. I was physically done and knew that I was still a long way from being fully dilated. Plus, as the nurse reminded me, I still needed to have some energy and physical stamina to push, if I ever got to that.

    I asked for an epidural. It was about 3:30am. The baby’s heart rate quickly recovered when I was able to relax. Michael and I even got to rest for almost two hours. I was able to sleep because the epidural was strong enough that I just felt some pressure, but not a lot of pain. I don’t regret getting the epidural and having a chance to rest and relax, which definitely seemed to help the baby. Unlike the epidural I received with Ellie where I couldn’t feel my legs for hours afterwards, this epidural was done perfectly: I could feel pressure but not intense pain and I could still feel my legs and was able to be active and aware during my entire labor. 

    By 5:30 am the pressure had increased and although I couldn’t feel the intense pain of the contractions I had an irresistible urge to push with every contraction, something that was surprisingly painful, took a lot of concerted effort NOT to do, and wasn’t relieved by my epidural. I was checked and had progressed to a 6. My cervix was a bit swollen which possibly meant that the baby’s head was too big. My doctor informed me we had reached the point where I needed to progress at least 1 cm every hour or I would have to have a c-section.

    I was at a 6. I had been progressing slowly, every few hours. The hope of even getting to a 7 within an hour seemed improbable. The urge to push was getting so strong and because I wasn’t ready to push this was another sign that a c-section was going to be likely. I prepared myself mentally for a c-section. The baby’s heart rate was dropping again and so was mine. I was given an oxygen mask. I could tell my doctor was also assuming a c-section would be happening in the next hour or so. My nurse, on the other hand, decided to prepare the room for a delivery. She was optimistic and wanted us to be ready. After preparing the room she decided to check me again, less than an hour after my “one-hour” ultimatum was given.

    I heard the words “there’s no cervix” and “we’re ready,” and I was confused. We’re ready for a c-section? The doctor walked in and the nurse told her I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing. I was so surprised I burst into tears! I had progressed from a 6 to a 10 in about 40 minutes?!? I was going to start pushing? No C-section?!

    At about 6:35 I started pushing. I remember that it was such a relief to be able to push after an hour or two of using every ounce of strength NOT to push. As the pushing progressed there was talk of the baby possibly being stuck, but somehow we got past that. I pushed until a little after 8 when I wasn’t sure if I could push anymore. The baby was close and suddenly I heard the doctor ask me if it was OK to do an episiotomy. I didn’t really answer since I had an oxygen mask over my face but remember panicking for a second, mostly afraid of the pain (but I was numbed, of course), and within a few short moments I had one final push (I literally told myself this had to be the last one, I was physically done), and out came our precious baby at 8:13am.

    They quickly wiped her down and put her right on my chest. I was so in awe that we had done it, we had had a successful VBAC and my baby was cradled in my arms after about an hour and 40 minutes of pushing. (Later I was told average pushing time in my situation was about three hours).

    We had been in the hospital for over 24 hours, laboring physically, and mentally making all kinds of exhausting decisions along the way. Several times throughout the process I literally had said the words, “I can’t do this,” and “I’m not going to make it,” (usually uttered during or after an intense contraction) and here I was holding my precious baby. I looked at her, her cord not even cut yet, so grateful and full of love for this little bundle, and immediately said out loud to my doctor who was still stitching me up, and to all the nurses and my doula and my husband and my mom who had all been in the room as I pushed:

    “I could totally do that all over again.”

    Though everyone laughed, my doctor shook her head and said, “let’s take some time to recover from this one!” Speaking of my doctor, I am more than blessed. She was amazingly supportive throughout my entire pregnancy. VBACs are not done by many doctors, and she knew how important this was to me. She had been scheduled to leave the hospital at 7pm the night before, and stayed on all night long to see my delivery through, over 14 hours past her scheduled shift. Talk about a committed doctor going above and beyond the call of duty! Our night nurse, who also works in our doctor’s office doing billing, was also super supportive, optimistic, and just a wonderful nurse.

    We are so thankful Hazel Jane is here, happy and healthy. She is nursing great and is very mellow. She mostly only cries when she is hungry or ready to be swaddled. Ellie is continuing to adjust to having a little sister around. She gives her lots of kisses and pats her, although we are noticing that she is needing a bit more attention lately and is crying a lot more often. But we are all doing well.

    Hazel Jane Chapman
    July 7, 2012
    8:13 am
    8lbs 6 oz, 20 in.
    I am so thankful I was able to experience a VBAC. There were so many times when I doubted myself and my body’s ability to cooperate. In an ideal world, I would have gone into labor on my own, but I was fighting against the clock because of my history with a c-section. I am thankful we had a doctor who was willing to try everything, even something not used often, like the Foley bulb, and allowing me every last opportunity to make this birth experience what we were hoping for. In the end, we just wanted a healthy baby, which we have. I’m just extra blessed to have had her how I wanted.

    And now begins adventures of a family of four.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Today's Pregnancy Update

    I had another appointment today. It was a post-due date appointment I scheduled weeks ago, but hoped would be unnecessary.

    The good news is our little girl looks healthy and strong. Amniotic fluids look good (unlike Ellie at this stage) and she just seems to be content right where she's at. She's so comfortable that my body has made no progress. I'm dilated to a 1cm and about 50% effaced. In other words, NOTHING HAS CHANGED in two weeks.

    I'm very thankful that my doctor is extremely supportive of my desire for a VBAC. As of this morning she has absolutely no reason to recommend a C-section. Instead, she's letting me try to go into labor on my own. It's up to me as far as scheduling surgery right now, which is not my desire. An induction is not an option at this stage. When it comes to VBACs, inductions are highly frowned upon. If I were to dilate to a 3 or 4 by my next appointment then breaking my waters would become an option.

    So...we wait. On Friday I head to the hospital for another check-up, since my doctor is on-call. If things are exactly the same (no progress but also no reason for concern) we have the option to go home and go in again on Monday.

    We have the option to "throw in the towel" and schedule a C-section, but that's not our ideal or plan. As convenient as that sounds, a VBAC is our desire and we want to hold to that. We have always been against scheduling a non-medically necessary C-section (or induction) and thus we want to do everything we can to try to go into labor naturally. Hopefully, time will be enough to get that going!

    It's emotionally and mentally tiring because in so many ways I'm "done" being pregnant. I can empathize with why so many opt for a non-medically necessary C-section. Michael and I know we want to just make the decision that if everything is the same we will choose to wait out the weekend.

    It will be tough to be in the hospital on Friday, knowing that we could just say the words and schedule surgery and have a baby in our arms within a couple of hours-especially because my mom has been here for over a week and leaves on Sunday. I'm staying focused on the fact that we have a healthy baby in utero and our desire is to do everything we can to avoid a C-section.

    We're praying for spontaneous labor to happen before we have to deal with more tough decisions.

    Time for more curb walking.