Friday, August 24, 2012

Fears of a Kindergarten Mom

Learn the story behind this picture here.

It happened.  I don't know how.  I don't know when.  But my baby has become a boy, strong and smart and caring.  He has his own ideas, his own style, his own way (boy does he ever have his own way ;).  And now he has his own space.  A space separate from me, from our home.  I love his new space.  I know he will thrive and flourish in this space, but we were inseparable for 9 months and then seldom apart for nearly 5 years after that and now we spend large parts of our everyday with little knowledge of what the other is doing, thinking or feeling.  On the car ride home from school he giggles and rolls his eyes as I grill him like a drill sergeant about what he did, who he played with, how he felt during the day, etc.

As we begin our school journey I am surprised by my comfort in it all.  I believe that he is where he is meant to be.  You see, there was a very small chance (18 spots for 198 applicants) that he would literally win the lottery and be admitted into this loving school family.  But win the lottery he did, we did.  And now he is right where he is supposed to be - in kindergarten.

I enter this chapter with a smile in my heart because I know that he is ready and strong and able.  I know that he is being nurtured and respected while he is away from me.  Still, I think it is only natural that I have fears.  I have the normal fears about safety and mean kids and long days, but I am just now realizing that my biggest fear lies within myself.  My biggest fear is that I will fail my kindergartner.  That I am not ready for this responsibility.  That I will not know how to support him at the end of those very long days.  That I will not spend enough time in his classroom because I have two other babies at home.  Or that I will forget an important school assignment or event.  This is not his journey it is our journey and he will need my love, my embrace and my steady hand to help guide him.  I'm sure I will drop the ball now and then, but he has the support of his siblings, his incredible father, and some really caring friends and family to lift him up and walk beside him when he needs it most.  I love you, Leon.  You are bright and empathetic and strong-willed and athletic.  You are a part of me, and I you, and I am with you every morning when you walk through those big glass doors.

I know I owe you a birth story, but I just haven't had a chance to polish it yet between starting kindergarten, the hubby being sick, and preparing for this weekend's craft fair.  I'll post it next week polished or not.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Five Gift Rule in Action

A few weeks ago I shared my Five Gift Rule for gift-giving to my children.  It was a variation on this four gift rule that is popular on sites like Pinterest.  So, as promised, I'm going to share with you how we put the five gift rule into action.  (update: I added some more pictures to include her matching outfit)

1 Thing They Want 
Topsy Turvy Doll - I got the idea from this tutorial though I changed it up a bit to suit my needs.

1 Thing They Need 
A headband, because even when she's decked out in pink from her beautiful bald head to her cute little toes someone still calls her a he.

1 Thing They Wear
I made her a 1 year onesie with reversible skirt - it all matches her doll

1 Thing They Read
Her baby scrapbook I've been working on from Becky Higgins Project Life

1 Thing Handmade
Big brother Leon and I made a receiving blanket photo album.  (Hopefully I'll get a tutorial together for ya soon.) Her birthday gifts from us were mostly handmade, but I thought this gift fit nicely into this category.  It was super simple and I think it turned out really cute.  What do you think?

I think the gifts were perfect for our precious girl.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ada Marie's Water Birth Story Part 2

Now where were we?  Oh, yes, part 1 of Ada Marie's birth story concluded a few hours short of 38 weeks, 2 cm dilated, 50% effaced, with mild preeclampsia and low amniotic fluid.  As I mentioned, I was really surprised that the ultrasound revealed anything out of the ordinary.  I was prepared to take castor oil.  I was prepared to be induced on Monday.  I was prepared to go home and wait.  I was NOT prepared to stay at the hospital for an immediate induction.  I was feeling anxious.  For us, birth had never unfolded exactly the way we thought it would, but somehow this felt very different.

Shortly after we got settled into our room our doula arrived.  We talked through some of my anxieties while we waited for our midwife.  Our midwife brought such a calm, soothing presence to the situation.  She sat with us and explained the decisions that were being made, patiently answered all of our questions and told us we could try nipple stimulation with a breast pump to see if that would be enough to start labor.  We tried that for about 45 minutes.  It didn't start labor, but it did cause contractions and I was able to collect some colostrum that I was able to give to a gay couple who had a baby the day before and were looking for breast milk.  When the nipple stimulation didn't work our midwife explained that we would use cervidil to get labor started and then remove it once I was in labor.  I was nervous because we'd never used cervidil and because it was getting late and I was getting tired.  They inserted the cervidil around 10:30 p.m. and I was able to sleep for a bit.

I woke around 1 a.m. to use the bathroom.  I'm not sure if I was conscious of it or not, but I began to pace from one corner of the room to the other while chatting with Steve and our doula.  I was cold so I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders as I paced.  Steve and our doula knew I was in labor at that point, but I don't think I had realized it yet.  I started to feel like our baby girl was very low - like ready to fall out kinda low.  The nurse checked me and said that baby was very low, but that I was only 3 cm and she could feel some scar tissue and we'd probably need to manually break up the scar tissue.  Whaaa?  That didn't sound like fun and it didn't make sense to me because the procedure causing the scar tissue was from way before my pregnancies and hadn't caused any problems with the other two.

Our camera stopped working just moments before her birth.  These were all taken with our cell phone.  At first I was really disappointed, but now I kind of like them.  They are dark, like the room was and not completely clear kind of  like the mental state (aka labor land) that mamas enter during active labor.

By 2 a.m. I was fully aware that I was in labor.  I had hoped for a water birth with my other two children, but the first time I was monitored heavily and the second was too fast.  So our doula began filling the large birthing tub.  While it was filling I sat on a birthing ball in the tub and she ran water on my shoulders, back and belly.  It was so soothing.  Then I got down into the tub on my knees.  I felt my body relax into the contractions that were now fast and furious.  I knew we'd be meeting our little girl very soon and I was filled with emotion.  Needless to say the scar tissue on my cervix did not present a problem.

The midwife had given us space to sleep and relax while we waited for the pitocin to kick in.  She asked to be informed immediately when labor started because my second labor was so fast (1 hr. 45 mins. from 1cm to birth).  Somehow she wasn't told, but I was fully supported by my husband, doula and nurse.  She came in just in to check on us and immediately realized that birth was imminent.  She removed the cervidil.  I had a hard time staying low in the water during the contractions so she turned me around to sit and lean against the tub the way you might take a bath at home.  When I turned my water broke.  I pushed once and her head was born.  And, oh the sweet relief.  I didn't feel the need to push again for what seemed like a long time, but was probably about 20 - 30 seconds.  They told me I could reach down to touch her head.  At the time it seemed like so much effort, but I'm so glad that I did.  It felt like a freshly washed peach.  One more push for her shoulders and a last one for her bum and she was born.  She was born with her hand up under her chin as if deep in thought.  Our midwife joked that she almost came out holding the cervidil.  I reached down and pulled her up out of the water.  She was tiny and perfect.

At some point in the tub I remember saying to my husband, "I think this is the part where I say, 'you did this to me' and 'we're never doing this again'".  But I never even thought about drugs.  There was no doubt in my mind that I could bring my baby into this world exactly the way I wanted and needed to.

Nursing my sweet girl about half an hour after birth.

Ada Marie was born in the water and into my arms at 2:57 a.m. on Saturday, August 6, 2011, exactly 38 weeks.  She was an itty bitty thing weighing 6 lbs. 1 oz. and measuring 17 1/4".  And she was loved instantly.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ada Marie's Water Birth Story Part 1

One year ago today our family and our hearts grew as we welcomed our little girl into this world.  Here is the story of her beautiful birth.

36 weeks pregnant and on a date with the hubby thanks to our fabulous friends who watched the boys.

First the backstory:
At 32 weeks my blood pressure (BP) started to rise. My blood pressure is normally on the low side so when it hit 130/80 I knew we were headed down a familiar, yet still bumpy and sometimes scary road.  You see, my first two pregnancies were very similar.  The first time it came out of the blue and took me completely by surprise.  First the high blood pressure and then the protein in my urine.  I felt fine so how could I have this potentially serious condition known as preeclampsia? And I had no swelling, headaches, upper abdominal pain or funny spots in my vision. But I was induced at 37 weeks the first time and went into labor while waiting to be induced at 37 weeks the second time.  And now I found myself in the same position and while I was not surprised I was still frustrated that there seemed to be nothing I could do to change my fate.  I took comfort in the fact that my first two children were born perfectly healthy at 37 weeks and I was still able to have beautiful, unmedicated births with both of them.

The first high reading at 32 weeks was cause for awareness, but not alarm.  Then at about 35 1/2 weeks I was running errands and my heart began to race, I felt flush and dizzy.  I was in a store that had a blood pressure machine and though I know they can be unreliable I had checked it at that location before and felt it was better than nothing.  My BP reading was 142/92.  I informed the midwives of my high BP reading and waited for an official reading at my appointment 2 days later, 146/104, argh.  The midwife didn't want to tell me, but I believe in making decisions based on all the facts, not just the ones I like.  I had her note that reading along with the second reading, 135/96.  I had blood work done and was sent home to collect 24 hours worth of urine, not my favorite thing to do, but relatively simple in the scheme of things.  I cannot remember what the results of this test were.

We continued to go into the office twice a week to monitor things closely, but I was fairly certain we'd coninue the rest of the pregnancy status quo like the first two and thought we might even have a chance at going full term.  Then, on 8/2, at 37 1/2 weeks the headache hit me.  It was intense and unrelenting.  I drank water like a fish, downed a few acetaminaphin and layed down.  I was home alone with the boys and they knew something wasn't right.  They were patient and quiet and allowed me to try to rest.  My neighbor made it home to watch the boys just as my husband arrived to take me to the midwives' office.  BP was 150/110 - the highest of any of my pregnancies.  We were sent on to Mission for non-stress test (NST) and blood work.  Baby seemed to be doing well so we were sent home with another jug for collecting urine. We were expecting to hear results of our urine collection sometime, hopefully early, on 8/4.  When I heard nothing I thought it was odd, but assumed that no news was good news.  Not so.  Steve and I were driving home separately from a swim at a friend's pool when one of the midwives called to tell me that the 24 hour urine results were in, 364.  Not super high, but anything over 300 plus the high BP is preeclampsia.  So we had two choices 1) come in for an induction, um, now or 2) go in for testing in the morning and then decide.  That hit me like a brick.  It was like 8 or 9 p.m. and I wasn't with Steve and I was just completely caught off guard so I decided to keep my appointment for the following day.

I called our fabulous doula and she was able to calm me down and we talked through all the questions I had so that I could be prepared for our appointment.  Like I said, this was familiar so while I was a little disappointed and caught off guard because of the time that we received the news, I was still confident that our baby girl would be healthy and that we could have another wonderful birth.  Our bags were packed and in the car just in case, but we had a busy weekend with our small business so I assumed that the tests would be fine and we'd either take castor oil or be induced on Monday.

Just before the big event:
At my appointment my belly was measuring 36, which alone didn't seem to concern anyone. Baby was slow to react during the non-stress test, but once she got going she was strong (the test occurred at at time when she was normally less active).  Then they led us to the ultrasound room for the rest of the biophysical profile.  It's amazing to see your baby so far along in pregnancy, but the lights were dim, the fan was humming quietly and it had been an emotional few days.  Those are all the excuses I use for both hubby and I falling asleep. Seriously, who falls asleep during an ultrasound of their baby?  When I woke up the tech told us that baby didn't do the practice breathing but that was all she said.  We headed back to labor and delivery outpatient area and prepared to leave as the nurses phoned the midwives with the results.  We could hear them talking on the phone but couldn't exactly tell how it was going.  Our wonderful midwife called our room and told us the news.  We were not going home.  Whaaa????    She would be heading to the hospital and we would begin an induction immediately.  I didn't see that coming.  With my other pregnancies our tests had always come back fine.  I was surprised to learn that our amniotic fluid appeared to be pretty low.  Average is about 12, 6 is on the lowest side of normal, mine was 4.  I realize this is not an exact thing because they are limited by what they can see, but it is a part of the big picture.  If it was just that the fluid was low they said they probably would have had us drink a lot of water over the weekend and come back on Monday, but with the other symptoms they felt it was safest to induce.  I was one day shy of 38 weeks, 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced.  We phoned our doula and she was on her way.

Tomorrow I'll post about the labor and birth.