Friday, March 26, 2010

The birth story...finally

So I'm just now getting around to writing down the details of Emma Grace's big arrival. It's been on my to-do list, which hasn't gotten shorter over the past week. But that's ok, because the most important "to-do" for us right now is to love on our precious new baby.

This post is going to be long - I'll warn you in advance - because not only am I writing this down for the few people who might care enough to read it through, but also for my own keepsake. I don't want to forget any precious details. So here's the story...

As many of you know, Emma was scheduled to arrive on Monday, March 22nd. I had a scheduled induction for Thursday, March 25th in the event she was being stubborn. Turns out, that wasn't necessary as Emma decided to come two days early on Saturday, March 20th.

I woke up around 1am and wasn't feeling quite right - very crampy. I hadn't had many contractions through the pregnancy so I wasn't sure if this was the "real" thing or not. I woke up again around 2am, still feeling the same uncomfortable feeling. I finally decided to wake hubby around 3:30am telling him, "honey, I feel very uncomfortable." Well, that brought him to full alert.

The pain started getting worse and he kept asking me whether it was time to call the doctor yet. I got the feeling that this was indeed the "real" thing, so I got up and showered and started making sure we had everything in order around the house (knowing that our moms would be coming up and staying at our house while we were at the hospital, I couldn't stand the thought of a mess upon their arrival). I even did a load of laundry!

Finally, hubby convinced me around 6:30am that we needed to call the doctor given that the contractions were 5 minutes apart. She said to meet her at the hospital - thankfully, since it was Saturday morning, we didn't have to deal with the horrendous Washington, D.C. traffic.

Now, I have to say, I knew contractions were painful, but I really wasn't expecting to cry during almost everyone of them. By the time we got to the hospital, the contractions were about 3 minutes apart and I was a wreck. I couldn't stop crying at the registration desk and felt and looked like a total mess.

They took me back to a "decision" unit where they decide whether this is the "real" thing and whether to admit you. I was only 2+ cms, but the nurse could tell that this was serious and, when she talked to the doctor, told her I was 3cm so she wouldn't send me home.

It was a very busy day in labor and delivery and it took a while to get a room, like checking into a fancy hotel. We finally got a room around 9am and, thanks be to God, I had an epidural by about 9:30am. I was scared all along about the epidural, but it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. And, of course, when you get an epidural, you also win the prize of a catheter - again, not as bad as I was expecting.

So, hubby and I hung out in labor and delivery and I was feeling good from the epidural. I was hesitant to push the button to increase the dose as the nurse suggested, but I did do it a few times when I started getting uncomfortable. I just don't know how anyone can do this au naturel! By the way, the epidural gave me the chills and shakes. I think because my legs were so numb, I ended up feeling cold and shaking all the way through the delivery.

Ok, back to the about noon, I had progressed to 4cm and the doctor decided to give me pitocin and to break my water. Our moms finally arrived around 1pm (they had a 4 hours drive...and I think my mom went about 80mph the whole time).

When the doctor came back about 2 1/2 hours later (around 2:30pm) to check me, I was 10cm and ready to go! That's when panic set in. I didn't think I was ready for the task ahead and the tears came pouring back. But, of course, they really don't give you much of an option. When it's time to push, it's time to push.

One thing that was nice and not what I was expecting was how private that whole process was. I pictured a room full of nurses and doctors, but for most of the pushing, it was just our one nurse and my hubby. She could tell as soon as I started pushing that it was not going to be long. Hubby did such a fantastic job encouraging me throughout the process, cheering me on, and counting to 10 over and over.

Finally, the nurse got the doctor to come in and after probably 2 sets of pushes (each set having 3 pushes) Baby Emma emerged after 30-45 minutes total of pushing. Hubby, who originally thought he couldn't watch any of the process, ended up watching most of it. And I'll never forget him saying "oh my gosh, she's out." When they put her up on my chest, I was in total shock. Hubby had to tell me to hold her because I was completely frozen.

And then I started laughing and, according to my hubby, yelling pretty loudly in astonishment. I just couldn't believe that this beautiful, perfect thing on my chest was my baby, the baby I've waited for and prayed for, not just for nine months but for years. It was unbelievable.

Emma didn't cry right away - she had a lot of fluid in her lungs - so the nurse took her off to the side and worked on her for awhile. Hubby immediately went over to watch and all I could keep asking is whether she was ok. Finally, while they stitched me up (yep, a fun little tear) they gave her to hubby to hold - probably one of the most precious pictures I'll ever have in my mind. Just totally unbelievable.

Emma's a tiny little thing. All along the doctors had projected that she was small, but near the end of the pregnancy, when it was evident that she was growing properly, they thought that maybe they had overreacted about her size. Well, she did end up being a small little thing - 6lb, 4oz and 19" long. And she is so skinny...her little arms and legs are super long and super skinny. It's a joke trying to get her to fit into newborn clothes but she is too long for preemie clothes. Oh well, she'll grown into them and will get to wear the newborn clothes for longer.

Back to the story...Our moms finally got to meet little Emma about an hour later. Hubby and I stayed in the hospital for two nights and then headed home, back to the real world, on Monday, March 22nd, my original due date.

Emma had her first pediatrician appointment on Wednesday, March 24th and had dropped to 5lb, 12oz. The doctor said she didn't like to see the drop, though it's expected, and actually recommended that I add an ounce of formula after each feeding. She asked to have Emma come back in two days to see how she was doing. I was very hesitant to do the formula given all I've heard about nipple confusion and since we were just starting to figure out breastfeeding. I'm awfully glad I did hold out because when she returned to the doctor 2 days later, she was up to 5lb, 15oz, which the doctor said was terrific. Usually they only see 1oz a day and she had grown 3ozs over 2 days. Good girl!

We are still figuring out breastfeeding. For awhile she was doing really well and latching on well, but in the last day or so she has gotten more stubborn with latching (perhaps, once the milk comes in, babies also have to make adjustments?). To make matters even more difficult, she loves to flail her long arms around which makes the latch even more difficult. But I am committed to breastfeeding and know that we'll both figure it out soon enough.

To the few of you who have made it to the bottom of this post, I'll reward with you with a picture or two. Emma is the joy and light of our life and despite the minimal sleep and little frustrations, I can't stop praising God for blessing us with this perfect, beautiful little miracle. My heart hurts sometimes when I look at her from loving her so much and I am already wishing that she wouldn't grow up.

Sweet Emma Grace...

After her first bath...

Posing in her gigantic newborn sized hoodie...

A pink string bean...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Emma's Here!

Emma made her big debut at 3:22pm on Saturday, March 20th. She's a small little thing (as the doctors predicted) at 6lb, 4oz.

I will post all about it so don't worry about not getting many details yet. In short, labor started around 1am on Saturday am. We got to the hospital around 7:30am. Had an epidural by 9:30am. And pushed for about 45 minutes. All in all, a really wonderful, beautiful process.

We are so in love with our little baby!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A little more certainty

Now I know for sure that I will not be pregnant indefinitely...that one day soon we will actually have a baby in our arms. Of course, I joke. But as you enter these final days it does kind of feel like you'll be pregnant forever.

We had our regular OB appointment today.

1) I went from 1cm last week to 2cm this week. Yay, progress!

2) The OB very gently stripped my membranes. Apparently the last time the OB stripped membranes, she broke the person's water, so she is hesitant to be very aggressive. It really didn't hurt at all.

3) I have an induction scheduled for next Thursday, March 25th in the event baby doesn't come sooner. Ideally, I would like to have everything progress naturally, but it is so nice having a definite end date in site.

4) On a weird note, my blood pressure was high. I always have very low blood pressure...we're talking 90-110/60-65. Today it was 132/78. While that is still in the normal range, it is definitely high for me. The doctor told me to check it twice this weekend at a pharmacy and let them know if it goes over 140/90. Not sure what that means. Perhaps just something that happens as you get closer to labor? They are monitoring me so closely that I'm not overly concerned. I go back to the perinatal center on Monday for my regular nonstress test and fluid check. And then back to the OB for the last time on Tuesday. Or maybe she'll just come this weekend (fingers crossed...).

So, as you can see, I will eventually have a baby, in case there was doubt in any of your minds. Well, there was in mine, at least :) Ok, I'm off to cherish my last weekend of pregnancy. Happy weekend to all of you, too.

P.S. I've added the last belly shot picture hubby took...this was almost 2 weeks ago. Please ignore the sweats and ponytail!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm looking forward to... (hint, not baby-related)

I love reading all my blog friends' posts - whether they are about babies, the desire for babies, or something completely not baby related. But I don't think I ever have anything non-baby related to talk about. But I do have two things coming along this July that have me very excited, and I thought I would share (as I sit here 4 days before my due date obsessing about whether baby will EVER come).

First, hubby and I just booked a trip to Bermuda for July? Some friends of ours are getting married there. I've wanted to go to Bermuda FOREVER and am thrilled at this opportunity. And, yes, baby Emma gets to go to. Perhaps we're crazy thinking we can take a 3 1/2 month old on such a trip, but I just can't imagine leaving my baby girl.

We have three nights booked at what looks to be a fabulous hotel, the Fairmont Southampton. We have our plane tickets booked, too, but couldn't get baby's until she's here because you have to give them a birthdate (even though she will just be in our lap on the flight). And did you know that, on international flights, an infant in lap still costs 10% of the adult ticket price plus you have to pay all the fees and taxes? Yuck. Anyways, if anyone has any advice on Bermuda, or traveling with a little one, please share.

Ok, item number two. This one will not involve baby. Hubby and I got tickets to go see Dave Matthews in D.C. in July. And the opening act is one of my favorites, the Zac Brown band. My mom is already planning to come up to take care of Emma while we go. It should be a great time and I haven't seen DMB in over 10 years. Can't wait!

So there you go, some non-baby related fun for this fine Thursday. Now I'll go back to counting down the hours until we meet our little one :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To strip or not to strip, that is the question.

For all of my friends who clicked over here expecting to find something scandalous, I apologize! I just liked the teaser of a title :)

Anyways, the big question on my mind, as I sit here at 39 weeks +1 day, is whether stripping membranes is an effective way to bring on labor. I've read tons about it on the Internet and the verdict seems to be that it may or may not help. Oh, so very useful.

I'm interested in any personal experience any of you have on the issue. How much does it hurt? What has your doctor said about it? Anything you can give me is much appreciated. Thanks!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The agony of waiting

When I first put my Lilypie Ticker on my blog, I think it read "About 280 days to go." It now says "10 days to go." Why does it seem like these last 10 days are going to feel about as long as the last 270??? Patience is definitely not my strong point.

Hubby and I just got back from the weekly rendezvous with the OB. Still 1cm. Still 75% effaced. Head at -2 station. Baby is way too comfortable in there.

And, ironically, after weeks and weeks of anxiety about having a bad placenta and, thus, a baby that may be too small, the first thing the OB said to us was, "wow, the baby is growing great, now we just have to make sure she doesn't get too big." Oh, the irony.

The one bit of good news, and I warn you in advance about TMI, is that she said I've lost most of my mucus plug. Gross, I know, but a good sign. She also said that March 29th - one week past my due date - is the last day they'll let Baby stay in there before induction. And that they'd be willing to consider induction at any point after 40 weeks. But we're really hoping that won't be necessary.

Oh, the agony of waiting but, oh, the joy we know that awaits us!

Monday, March 8, 2010

This is not going to be a small baby.

First order of business on this fine weigh-in (I sure enjoy that a lot more than mommy weigh-in). A little refresher...
  • At 32 weeks, the doctor informed us that baby was only in the 11th percentile for size, weighing in at 3lb 11oz, and that this may be indicative of a placental problem.
  • Four weeks ago, at 34 weeks, baby was estimated to weigh 4lb 11oz.
  • Two weeks later, she had grown to 5lb 14oz.
  • Today, at 38 weeks, the doctor estimates her weight to be 6lb 12oz. And she still has at least two more weeks to grow. While apparently that is only 40th percentile, it sure doesn't sound like a small baby to me.
We are obviously very happy with her growth, and I'm slowly accepting that, since she is clearly thriving in the womb, I shouldn't rush her entry into the world. Don't get me wrong, I'd be happy if she decided to come today, but I've finally accepted that nature should just take its course (though check in with me after 40 weeks and I may be singing a different tune!).

Friday, March 5, 2010

This is for Courtney...

This post is for my blogger friend, Courtney, who found out this week that she is pregnant! Please congratulate her and keep her in your thoughts and prayers during this exciting time.

But I also wanted to let her know that, NO, Baby Emma isn't here yet :( So you can back off the edge of your seat. I just haven't had much to say this week. Fluid was low on Monday and then in the normal range on Thursday. And I'm off to the OB in an hour for my weekly appointment. Emma's weight will get checked again on Monday...come on, baby girl, grow, grow, grow! Theoretically she should be well over 6lbs by then, but I'll let everyone know on Monday.

I did ask the doctor at the perinatal center on Thursday what I needed to do to get induced early. He said he would consider recommending it if I can get 2-3cm dilated (was 1cm last week). So that's what I'm hoping for now.

But, I promise, Courtney, you'll be one of the first to know when Emma makes her grand debut. For right now, go celebrate and praise God for your little miracle! And I'm praying for you.

(Post OB Appointment Update: Still 1cm/75% effaced. Darn!)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Not Again!

I'll keep this post short and sweet...

My fluid is ONCE AGAIN low, which means I've won an all-expense paid trip back to twice-a-week monitoring at the perinatal diagnostic center. Oh, how did I get so lucky?

On the up side, I'm 37 weeks today. Now, I just need to figure out how to convince the doctors that they should go ahead and let Baby Emma make her debut. Hmm.....