Thursday, March 21, 2013

that time i rambled about my baby

Well, it's official.

I am obsessed with my baby.

[But from the looks of that last picture, she is clearly not as obsessed with me.]

It's so fun to hang out with my little girl all day.  We don't really get much done, other than sleeping and eating.  But let's be honest - we probably both prefer it that way anyway.  I know she does, at least.

Here's a little list of things Ellie currently enjoys:

  • Eating.
  • Sleeping.
  • Being held.  All the time.
  • Her swing.  Some of the time.
  • Being sung to.
  • Holding onto our fingers.
  • Going for rides in the car.
  • Crying as soon as mommy tries to eat.  [I think she's putting me on a diet.  Smart girl.]
  • Dancing with daddy.
My heart radiates sunshine every time I hear her little sneezes or hear her little cry or see her little yawn.  And for the past couple of nights, she's even been sleeping for four hours at a time, which makes my heart radiate sunshine to the nth power.  [Let's just both take a moment here to knock on wood and hope that she keeps this miraculous schedule up!]

Well, kids, it was nice talking to you.  She just woke up from her nap.  And I missed her.

Until next time!

Monday, March 18, 2013

ellie's birth story: part 4

Surprise!  Bet you didn’t guess there would be a Part 4.  But I felt like the story wasn’t quite done yet, and there were some things I wanted to remember.  Read Part1, Part 2, and Part 3.

A few hours later, a nurse and a CNA came back to help me go to the bathroom for the first time.  My left leg was fine, but for some reason my right leg was still completely numb.  They told me to stand up slowly and lock my knees to make it less likely for me to faint.  I did the best I could, but it was difficult, to say the least.

They gave me some instructions about what to do, and when I was finished, they helped me into a very large pad, which looked eerily similar to a diaper.

You guys.  I won’t go into detail, but the next few hours brought the most bleeding and the most pain I’ve ever experienced.  I’m sure it’s not this way with everyone, but it was worse than labor for me.  Every time I walked, every time I moved, I was in an immense amount of pain.  And it stayed that way for the better part of ten days.  No one ever warned me about that part.  I mean, I realize that it involves a fair amount of common sense, but really.  I feel like someone could have said something.  Or maybe they did and I just wasn’t paying attention.  Also likely.

But the upside of all of that is that it was made a thousand times easier by a simple glance at our new daughter.  My in-laws, Jeremy and Ali, came for a much-needed visit, and they even brought Thin Mints, Twix, and flowers.  Best in-laws ever.  And late that night, we watched the season premiere of Psych.  But to be honest, I was a little distracted by holding baby Ellie and marveling at how perfect she was.

She didn’t leave our room until that night, when we had them take her into the nursery so we could try to get some sleep before we went home.  It didn’t work.  Well, I guess it worked for Tim, but I think I got about 45 minutes of sleep total that night, between Ellie coming in for feedings and nurses coming in to check how I was doing.  The funny part is, as much as I don’t do well on little sleep, I really didn’t mind.  I just wanted to see her.

The next day was full of paperwork, more instructions from the nurses, and a visit from Ellie’s doctor.  I’d been able to take a shower the night before, and I took another one that day as well.  In our downtime, we snuggled with our baby, and since Tim liked to hog her, I even had some time to “get ready” for the day.

They told us that our insurance would allow us to stay for another day, but by the end, we were both ready to go home with our new daughter.  And my mom was coming in that afternoon, which made me even more eager to get home.  We strapped Ellie into her carseat, which made her look even tinier than her 6 pound, 9 ounce frame, and the CNA walked us out to the car.

I rode in the back with Ellie, and she slept the entire way home.  I switched between staring at her and out the car windows.  In the brief time we’d been in the hospital, the sun had come out and melted a good percentage of the snow.  I smiled.

Whether or not it was really spring, my spring had finally come.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

ellie's birth story: part 3

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

At this point, my whole body started shaking.  I couldn’t control it.  It was probably a combination of a few different things, including the epidural and nerves, but nothing I tried to calm my body down worked.  Tim suggested that we each say a prayer in our hearts.  He held my hand as we each said our separate prayers.  I didn’t stop shaking, but the shaking became less violent almost immediately.

Dr. Ferguson walked back into our room.  He told me that since it takes most women at least an hour of pushing, he was going to have Jami push with me for a few minutes while he ate some lunch.  Jami explained to me how the pushing was going to work and waited for the next contraction.  She told me to push.

“Oh wow, good job.  Let’s try that again.”

I pushed again, and Jami looked quickly up at the monitor.

“Ok, dear, the baby’s heart rate has dropped again.  I’m going to go get Dr. Ferguson.”  She’d said it so calmly, but I could tell she was concerned.

Dr. Ferguson was back within a couple of minutes dressed in his scrubs.  He instructed Jami to put me on oxygen again, and a few other nurses filed into the room.  He told us that the baby’s heart rate wasn’t a huge concern unless it stayed low for a long time, so they wanted to get her out as quickly as possible.  He asked if I was ok with it if they used forceps, just in case it took too long for me to push her out.

I looked at Tim.  I knew he was thinking the same thing.  “Do whatever you need to do to get her out safely,” I told him.

Dr. Ferguson waited for the next contraction, then told me to push.  “Oh, great job!  Maybe we won’t need the forceps after all.  Keep it up!”

I pushed again during the next two contractions.

“Oh!  Is that her head?” Tim asked excitedly.  He was holding my hand but still standing in a position where he would be able to see her coming out.  The doctor confirmed that it was indeed her head.  He assured me that it would just take a couple more pushes.  It was an odd feeling.  I could feel her coming out, but because of the epidural, it didn’t hurt at all.  I pushed again.

“There’s her face!” Tim told me with a dazed smile.  “Was that her umbilical cord?” he asked the doctor.

“Yes.  It was wrapped twice around her neck.”

I was glad I hadn’t known about that beforehand.

Finally she was out.  She started crying.  Light filtered in through the windows as the doctor held her up for me to see.  She was completely covered in blood, but she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  My heart felt like it might burst.  It took every ounce of self-control I had not to start sobbing in front of everyone. 

I looked at Tim.  He smiled back at me.  I knew he could feel it, too.

“1:34pm,” Jami told me, smiling.  “She’s beautiful.”

The nurses started cleaning her off, and while Tim was still holding my hand, I caught him staring longingly at her.  “Go to her,” I smiled.

“Are you sure?”  I nodded.

The doctor continued to stitch me up, while I continued to look intently at my beautiful baby.  After a few minutes, Dr. Ferguson breathed a sigh of relief.

“Originally, I’d thought the tearing was much worse than it actually was.  You still needed a lot of stitches, but I’m glad the sphincter muscle wasn’t torn like I’d thought.”

“I’m glad, too,” I said.  [Understatement of the year.]

After they’d checked and cleaned her up a little, they brought her over to me and put her directly on my chest.  She curled up against me.  Tears welled up in my eyes. 

“Hi, baby girl,” I whispered.

I held her for a few more minutes before they took her back over to a table where they did a few more tests and weighed her for the first time.  

Finally Tim got to hold her.  He looked like the happiest, proudest dad ever.  And he was.  

Eventually he handed her to me again, although I could tell it was with a high degree of reluctance.

After bringing me some food and some juice, Jami had to go help with another delivery, so one of the other nurses taught me how to breastfeed.  Suddenly I realized how tired I was.  It was hard to make my body do anything.  Even the food, which had looked so appetizing a few minutes ago, didn’t look appealing anymore.  All I wanted to do was snuggle with my baby.

Finally everyone had filtered out of the room, and Tim and I got to be alone with our baby girl.  We enjoyed a few precious moments of solitude and basked in her glow.

“We’re a family,” I smiled.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

ellie's birth story: part 2

Read Part 1 here.

At 5:00am, we walked into the emergency entrance, as we’d been instructed.  A young man behind an admitting desk welcomed us and asked what we were there for.  Just as I opened my mouth to answer, another contraction finally overtook my body and I tried to block out the pain.  Tim noticed my discomfort and took over answering questions for me.  As much as I hated the pain, I was relieved it was back.  Maybe it would mean that I would be able to stay.  But still I worried that the contractions were no longer close enough together for me to be admitted.

The young man instructed us to sit in the completely empty waiting room until a labor and delivery nurse came to get us.  As we sat down, I had yet another contraction.  Once the pain had subsided, I breathed a little easier.  Maybe we would be staying after all.

Just a few short minutes later, a nurse came to get us.  She was a sweet girl who said complimentary things about it not looking like I was far enough along to be in labor.  I smiled through my pain, not coherent enough to disagree with her.  But I was sure I looked at least a month overdue.

The nurse got us situated in a room and told us another nurse named Jami would be back shortly to take care of us.  Jami arrived less than a minute later, smiling from ear to ear.  I loved her immediately.  Everything about her demeanor was calm and reassuring – just what I needed.  She got me hooked up to the monitors so they could monitor my contractions for a few minutes and left.  Tim held my hand during every single contraction, which probably involved a lack of circulation for him.  But he never complained.

Jami came back around 6:00am and informed us that she’d talked to my doctor and monitored my contractions long enough to determine that I would most definitely be staying, even though I was only dilated to a two.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  She said that I’d been having “variables.”  I’m still not entirely sure what that meant other than that it had something to do with Ellie’s head making its way down the birth canal.  Jami then asked if I wanted an epidural.

“Would that slow labor down at this point?” I asked.

“It might,” she replied honestly.

“I think I’ll wait then,” I said, surprising myself.  In the months leading up to this point, I had been expecting to be a total wreck during labor, crying hysterically during every contraction.  Even though I was in a lot – and I do mean a lot – of pain, it was empowering to realize that it was something I could handle if needed.

While we waited on the doctor, Tim and I watched Psych on his phone, and Tim ate a turkey sandwich that our nurse had brought for him.  Ironically, eating his sandwich was one of his main bullet points on the timeline I’d asked him to keep for me so I could better remember the sequence of events.  So we know that sandwich must have been important.

At 8:15am, soft-spoken Dr. Ferguson walked through the door.  He smiled and said that when he’d first received the call from Jami that I was in Labor and Delivery, he’d thought that I’d just gotten confused about the day that they were going to induce me.  She assured him that I was actually in labor.

After checking me, he determined that I was still only dilated to a two.

“Ok, if it’s alright with you, I’m going to break your water now.”

“What?” I said, shocked.  Even though cognitively I knew this was a logical step, my body went into panic mode.  That meant that everything was going to happen much sooner than I had expected.  I would meet my baby in a matter of hours if everything went well.

“I think it’s time,” he assured me.  “Then you can get an epidural if you want, and if your labor isn’t picking up a bit, we’ll give you some Pitocin as well.”

Having my water broken didn’t hurt like I’d expected it to, but it was certainly one of the oddest feelings I’ve ever experienced.  Having a gush of fluid between your legs is undoubtedly an abnormal feeling – unless you’re a potty-training toddler, I suppose.

Jami asked again if I wanted an epidural.  I said that I did.  I knew that I could handle the pain if I’d needed to – which, again, surprised me to no end – but I didn’t know why anyone would want to if they didn’t have to.

At 8:30am, a nurse anesthesiologist came in and prepped my back for the epidural.  Probably because of all the adrenaline, I was extremely jumpy.  It took all the concentration I had to not let my body jolt as she cleaned my back, and again as she poked the needle into my back.  I’d already had a spinal tap, so I wasn’t worried about the pain, but my body was especially sensitive to touch, so it was hard to hold still.

After she was done taping everything up, she asked, “Did you know you have scoliosis?”

“Yeah, they told me when I was in high school.”

“Epidurals don’t always work with scoliosis, since it’s hard to tell where the center of your back is, but we got lucky,” she said calmly.

I wasn’t sure that made me feel comforted. 

But it was nice to have the relief of the epidural, even though it did make me extremely itchy, just as she’d warned it might.  Every once in a while, I could still feel the pain of the contractions in spite of the epidural, but they gave me a little button to push for more medicine just in case of that very thing.  I came to have a great love for that little button.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur for me.  Tim tells me that we watched HGTV, which doesn’t surprise me one bit.  We love that channel.  But he also says we watched Chef Brad, which makes me question his credibility a little bit.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

Unfortunately, I remember what happened at 10:00am a little too well.  Jami came in and told us that during the last contraction, Ellie’s heart rate had dropped too much and that I’d need to be put on oxygen.  Even though I felt an underlying peace that everything would be ok, it still made me nervous.  I mean, this was my baby’s heart we were talking about here.

Somewhere along the line, Jami took me off the oxygen and gave me some Pitocin, and by 11:35am, I was dilated to a six.  She checked me again at 12:55pm and smiled her reassuring smile. 

“Ok, dear, you’re dilated to a 10.  Let me call Dr. Ferguson’s office.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

ellie's birth story: part 1

I thought about calling this post “Labor and Delivery: The Period from H-E-DoubleHockeySticks,” but I thought it didn’t really capture the true essence of the miracle that is birth.  [However accurate that description might be.]  [Though that alternate title might give you some foreshadowing of the amount of detail this post will contain.  Beware to the faint of heart.]

No, the truth of the matter is that the whole experience exceeded my expectations in every way possible.  Not because it was easy – because heaven knows that would be the greatest lie in the history of man.  But because it was the most miraculous thing I’ve ever experienced.

It’s hard to explain, but something about giving birth changed me.  I will never be the same person ever again.  I’m sure you moms and dads out there know exactly what I’m talking about.  Heaven feels as though you could reach out and touch it.  And then you hold your baby for the first time and you know that’s exactly what’s happening.

But I guess I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  Let me back up a little.

Once I’d passed my due date, I began to give up all hope that I’d go into labor naturally.  I’d just resigned myself to the fact that I would be induced on February 28th.  Of course, I let the smallest part of myself hope that my body would just do its thing, but I wasn’t counting on it. 

On Tuesday, February 26th, I woke up to some light bleeding.  My heart started beating a little faster.  This was new and different.  I felt like my body hadn’t been doing anything new and different for weeks now.  I called Tim immediately and excitedly told him the news.  It took him about five seconds to decide to come home – just in case.  But once he got home, we called the hospital and asked for their opinion.  They said that as long as I wasn’t having any contractions, we would just have to wait.

Of course, we thought.  It probably didn’t mean much after all.  Tim drove back to work and I continued to hobble around the house, trying to get some laundry done.  When Tim got home again that night, we decided to go out to eat, since we figured we probably wouldn’t get the chance again soon.   I purposely chose something spicy, choosing to superstitiously invest in the oldest of wives tales.

Since the sidewalks were still covered in ice, we went to the local market to walk around a bit in the hopes that it would somehow bring on contractions.  Still I felt no different.  On the drive home, I felt my stomach tighten and then harden.

Huh, maybe that was a contraction, I thought.

By the time we got home, I was certain I was having sporadic contractions.  But there was only one problem: they didn’t hurt.  And I was certain that was some sort of requirement for this whole labor thing.  We watched an episode of Bones and then got ready for bed.  As we sat on our bed and started our scripture study, I felt the first true labor pain.  It felt like a period cramp on steroids, with a few jagged knives to dice up my insides as a bonus.

By the second painful contraction fifteen minutes later, Tim was already asleep.  Over the next few hours, my contractions became closer together and more painful.  I closed my eyes tightly with each one, trying to block out the pain.  But there was no blocking it out.  No breathing technique or visualization worked for me.  I turned on Psych, which helped to prevent anxiety about future contractions but did nothing during the contractions themselves.  I decided to try walking around, which did nothing but make me want to curl up on the floor in a fetal position.

My movements woke Tim up around 3:30am.  He asked how far apart my contractions were.   I told him they were anywhere between six and eight minutes apart.

“Ok.  I think it’s time to get up and get ready to go.”

The thought both terrified and excited me.  But I knew he was right.

We showered and got ready.  Figuring since I was awake anyway and had some time, I even did my hair and make-up in between contractions.  It proved to be a pretty good distraction.  Meanwhile, Tim packed up some last minute things that we’d need for the hospital.  I’d stopped timing my contractions regularly, and by the time I started again, I was alarmed to realize that they were only three minutes apart most of the time.

“We need to go,” I told Tim urgently.

“Ok.  Do you want a blessing?”

I sat down on the edge of the bed, and Tim placed his hands on my head.  Through the power of the Lord, he promised me that my labor and delivery would go smoothly.  And then he told me that we would feel the power of Heaven in our little hospital room as our precious daughter was born.  That promise echoed throughout my entire being, and I knew without a doubt that it would be true.

When the blessing was finished, we grabbed our bags and headed out to the car.  Another painful contraction hit as we were almost to the car, and I stopped in my tracks for a minute and closed my eyes once again.  The pain subsided somewhat, we got in the car and headed toward the hospital.  A few minutes into the drive, I noticed that I hadn’t had a contraction in awhile.  I mentioned it to Tim.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if your contractions stopped right now?”

I gave him a horrified look.

“I was just kidding, Babe!” he assured me.

But the closer we got to the hospital, the more I worried.  Before I knew it, fifteen minutes had passed and we were pulling up into the hospital parking lot.

And still no more contractions.

Continue on to Part 2.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Despite my original doubts, I finally did have a baby.

And she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Presenting Ellie.  

Born 2/27/2013 at 1:34pm. 6lbs 9oz. 19.75 inches long.

The hospital took these pictures for free the night after she was born, and sometimes I think my heart might literally melt when I look at them.  But she is even better in person.

All of my concerns over the past nine months simply melted away the moment I heard that cry and saw her beautiful, tiny body.  I fell in love quicker than I've ever fallen for anything in my entire life.

Now I have a whole new set of concerns.  Is she getting enough to eat?  Am I feeding her often enough?  What is that tiny little scratch on the top of her head?  Does she need me to watch her every move while she sleeps so I can make sure she's still breathing?

As hard as it is to believe, I think Tim worries about her even more than I do.  And that's saying a lot.

But I surprise myself every single day with how much pure joy I am finding in motherhood.  Already.  I cherish every movement, every cry, every whimper.  My heart constricts impossibly when her cries are soothed by my touch.  I am completely convinced of her superior ability to lift her head, display incredible lung strength, and capture the hearts of millions.  And I wonder how we could have ever possibly spent our lives without her.

I will write her birth story as soon as possible.  It just might take a little more concentration than I am capable of at the moment.  But I can't wait to share with you all the story of our little miracle.

Because that's exactly what she is.

A miracle.