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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas! This will be the only card we're sending this year, a "virtual" one. Zelie is a whopping nine days old, still single digits, so I think I get a pass. 

If you think she looks traumatized in the pic above, please see the outtakes below . . .

Little Will rocked the same bow tie and suspenders as last year. And ALWAYS the cowboy boots. From sun up to sun down. Usually, but not always, on the correct feet. 

Zelie continues to be on the nice list (despite the breastfeeding woes, which I think are slowly improving).

I was pleasantly surprised at how excited Little Will was to open gifts this year. "If you sit still and show your teeth (i.e., smile), you get to open a present!" worked well for us. 

Books from Nana.

Just photoshop me in on the left.  Wouldn't mind some airbrushing either. But how perfect are these sweeties? Ugh! If there was ever a time for cliche sayings like "my heart is so full!!!!" this is it. This. Is. It.

We went to the Christmas vigil mass at 4:30pm again. AKA the most crowded, ridiculous mass evah! Of course, Zelie had a deadline to nurse again right at 4:30, so we got there early. Necessary anyway for Christmas mass, if you want to find a seat. We were extremely lucky to find seats in the pew, 30 minutes early!!, so I sat down and got to nursing with my cover. All was well until everyone stood for the entrance hymn and the curious six year old behind me stood up and could see down the cover…. Awkward. Am I a lactivist now?

We attempted family photos with the uncooperative toddler. 

Little Will was more "active" than usual, as they say, during mass. (I say, he be crazy.) Will already had to take him out of the pew, within the first five minutes actually, so they were walking around the back of the church when Father Jim called all the children to come sit on the steps leading up to the altar during the homily. Little Will walked straight up to the front, around all the kids and up the stairs to the side, and then ran back toward the tabernacle in the back of the church. I heard people laughing and then Will walking past everyone, but I didn't realize what had happened until I got the run-down afterward. 

This one. Keep an eye on him . . .

Even though he had some naughty behavior just before the big day, Santa came! The grandparents got most of the kids' gifts, with the exception of some peg dolls I got in a second exchange. Jima (my mom) came through with the BIG gift, the ginormous dune buggy Power Wheels car that took up half the living room. 

He was terrified of it. (I'm kind of terrified of it, too.) 

He warmed up to it eventually when he saw how much fun his stuffed animals had sitting in it, then he spent the rest of the morning sitting in it playing with his other new toys and eating cinnamon rolls off the coffee table. We even convinced him to take it for a spin, once up and down the driveway. But no more. Let's take it slow, okay? In his ripped jeans and cowboy boots, he was a bona fide Ricky Bobby doppleganger. 

My dad came to visit! He arrived late Christmas morning, bearing more gifts, of course. Not to mention it's been awesome having the extra set of hands. This morning, I got to sleep in, and when I got up, Will had already hit up the commissary and there was a pancake feast awaiting me! I ate it one-handed on the couch while nursing and eventually Little Will wandered in and started eating off my plate, but still a pretty amazing way to wake up in my opinion.

Last night, we went to our neighbor's for Christmas dinner after a last minute invitation. Thank goodness! I would have served Chinese food. Delivery of course. Instead we got to enjoy a delicious homemade meal! And no dishes! (We have the BEST neighbors.)

Currently typing right-handed, with Zelie in my lap, and a hoppy brew in my left hand, watching bowl games. We're about to watch the Redskins clinch a playoffs slot. And Chinese food is on its way. I'd say Christmas is off to a good start!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Zelie's First Days

I wrote a similar post for Will after he was born, so in the interest of keeping things equal between siblings (har har), here is a small taste of what we've been up to. 

Staring at her sweet baby face. (Duh.) 

Staring at the wall in hospital sleep deprivation.

At the foot of my hospital bed.

Little Will has been handling the adjustment pretty well. There have been a couple of meltdowns, mostly from lack of attention or for not being allowed to hold Zelie all on his own, but for the most part he is either (a) gently affectionate or (b) utterly indifferent toward her.  

Their first meeting was pretty cute . . .

He checked her out and gave her a quick kiss upon our prompting. Then Zelie gave him his big brother gift, a toy postal service truck. My boy is obsessed with the mailman. Probably because we are in these days leading up to Christmas where there's a UPS, FedEx, or USPS truck in every direction. Once he had his new truck, he pretty much ignored his little sister in favor of exploring the hospital and his cool new toy. He even went to bed that night with truck in hand. 

The next day, we left for home. I couldn't wait to get out of the hospital. I barely slept in that hospital bed! Once Zelie had reached 24 hours old (i.e., in the middle of the night the second night in the hospital), she could be taken to run all her tests necessary for discharge, so she was out of the room most of the night. It helped—she was kind of a loud sleeper those first couple nights!—but I still wasn't able to get much sleep. Will had gone home for the night to take care of Little Will, so I thus started penning my birth story. In case you are wondering, and rightly so, how I was able to get it up so fast.

Someone didn't like the car seat at first.

Others were a bit preoccupied with putting things in his mouth that he shouldn't. 

Zelie spit up a lot of amniotic fluid/colostrum that second night in the hospital necessitating use of a certain aspirator. So this is pretty gross.

(Yeah, I'm just over here snapping away rather than intervening. Yeah, that's the slight remnant of a black eye from a Flip 'n' Play collision.) 

"Don't want your paci, Zelie? I got this." - Wm. H. Brez.

He gnawed on it on the drive home until he passed out. 

Things have been going pretty well since coming home. Zelie is a MUCH better nighttime sleeper than Will was. I am jinxing it right now, fine, but she's been one that I need to wake up to nurse rather than being woken up to nurse every two hours. I'm sleeping so much better now than I was the last three weeks of my pregnancy. It's making me very impatient for the physical part of the recovery to be over with! But I'm being good and taking it easy. 

We've had a rough start with nursing, though, which I was not expecting after such a smooth experience with Little Will. During her first nursing session right after the birth, I was a bit absorbed with, oh I dunno, birthing the placenta and not dying as I was stitched up and my abdomen was crushed by well-meaning nurses, that I wasn't paying attention to Zelie's latch and she took off a chunk of my left nipple. The nips were further destroyed in the colostrum phase in the hospital. I met with the hospital's IBCLC for over an hour yesterday to work on things and they are much improved. At Day 5, she was 8 pounds even and she took in 61mL/2oz. during our in-office nursing session. (She also showed off for the LC just how nicely she was producing diapers. So proud. So proud.) The LC gave me some gel pads to "heal from the inside" rather than using lanolin, so I think things are looking up despite some marathon nursing sessions. They wear me out because I have to really focus on keeping her in tight and fixing her latch, but it will be worth it over time when things (hopefully, please Lord) become effortless. She also had another blood draw to check bili levels, but all easy fine on that front (her forehead scan was 19, borderline, but the corresponding blood draw was only 13.8!). 

It's allllll worth it obviously . . . 

. . . for those precious moments when my daughter looks up at me with that grumpy newborn scowl. 


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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Our Daughter (an Intro & a Birth Story)

She's here! I am overjoyed to share the arrival of our daughter, Zelie Clare. Zelie (pronounced ZELL-ee, rhymes with Kelly) is named after Saint Zelie Martin, the mother of the ever-popular and beloved St. Therese of Lisieux. We are utterly smitten.

She's currently being seen by the pediatrician in our effort to get the heck out of this hospital (the boys went home for the night last night and should be arriving here in an hour or so), so let's take a minute to tell the story of how she arrived. (Please be advised, bodily fluids/birth stuff discussed beyond this point. You've been warned.) 

I'd been experiencing prodromal labor since December 1st that seemed to be intensifying over time. I was decidedly NOT handling it well due to the lack of sleep and hormones! Oh, the hormones! On the afternoon of December 16, Little Will and I met my friend Lauren (Zelie's godmother) at Barnes & Noble and started having the most consistently intense/painful contractions thus far. Before heading to bed, they were 5 minutes apart and I let myself think maybe this is it. I packed some final odds and ends in my hospital bag just in case, and we even texted our neighbors (who agreed to watch Little Will) a head's up that we may, probably not, but may, be headed to the hospital that night. They spaced out when I went to bed even though I couldn't sleep through them much, and finally fizzled out at 4:30 that morning. I woke up the morning of December 17 a sleep-deprived zombie, convinced I would never ever go into real labor. 

I was wracking my brain as to why I was having so many false starts. According to Spinning Babies, Zelie was in the LOA position to a T, i.e., "the most common, ideal position." So I didn't think her position was causing my issues. I'd been reading a lot of natural birth stuff and watching Business of Being Born, etc., in an effort to give myself some patience, but after the night before I was thinking, "Just give me an epidural and all the drugs so I can have a good nap and then push this baby out!!!" At my last check I was 3.5cm, 70% effaced, at -1 station, so I knew things were favorable for induction already. It was so tempting just to go ahead and ask for one! I had my 40 week checkup the afternoon of December 17 at 3:30pm. (I was 39 weeks, 6 days.) I planned to ask the doctor to strip my membranes.

That morning, we had a play date with our neighbors at our house to pass the time. I stayed in my PJs. I talked to my neighbor, Sally, all about how I felt like I'd never go into labor. I had a couple contractions during their visit, but thought nothing of it. After they left and I got Little Will down for his nap, around noon, I went to the bathroom and noticed a chunk of blood in my mucus. I'd been noticing a lot more mucus the past couple days. The weekend before I'd seen a LOT of bloody show that I figured was the result of my 39 week cervix check as it had stopped after 2 days. I thought maybe it was a good sign that a membrane stripping that day would put me into labor, but I didn't get my hopes up in any way. (2+ weeks of prodromal labor really did make me think I'd be pregnant forever by this point.) At that point, I was feeling cramps, but contractions were painless.

At 12:30pm, I texted my husband that I'd had my first "good" contraction of the day. I was hoping they'd pick up a little before heading to the doctor. Little Will was still napping, so I ate lunch and tidied up the house. When he woke up, I got us ready to leave for the appointment. I took Little Will outside to check the mail and let him play with chalk in the garage. (It was freezing outside!) Will got home from work around 2:15pm and we hurriedly loaded up the car with the hospital bags and headed out. Will didn't have time to change out of his ABUs. I started timing contractions in the car. They were about 3-7 minutes apart the whole drive. There were a couple pretty strong ones, too. Really, they were no different than the afternoon and evening before. 

At 3:30pm, I'm at the doctor's office. I mention that I think I might be in early labor with contractions 5 minutes apart, but I don't really believe it. I get checked and lo' and behold, I am 4-5cm dilated. The doctor suspects I am in labor, but I'm really not convinced. My doctor tells me I can wait it out and go home, or he can call over to L&D and let them know I'm coming, so I can get monitored, start an IV (GBS+), and walk around to see if things pick up. If things stall out, he says he'll break my water. So basically, do I want to have a baby tonight?

Yes. Yes I do.

I opt to head straight over to L&D so that I can get set up while Will takes Little Will all the way back to our neighbor's. We live 45 minutes from the hospital, so he'd be gone at least a couple hours. I figure if this is real labor, at least we'd know by the time he got back and there was no threat of him missing out on anything. So, we leave. We part ways in front of the doctor's office building, me heading to the hospital next door, my guys heading to the car. Little Will is pretty upset I'm not coming with them (i.e., he throws a tantrum!), and I get all weepy thinking that that might be the last time I see him before his sister is born!

Still having regular contractions.

It's 4:00pm. I head up to L&D by myself. The nurses were expecting me and I am put straight into L&D Room 7. I change into a gown and get strapped to the monitors. The plan is to stay on the monitors until I'm finished my first round of penicillin, and then I can get up to walk around and see if labor picks up. By 4:50pm, I'm on the IV drip and my nurse Felicia tells me my contractions are 2-5 minutes apart. The drip doesn't hurt at all, so I ask Felicia to turn up the drip, so I can be up and walk around faster. She obliges. It burns now, but it's done in half the time, 15 minutes. Felicia starts prepping the room for delivery, saying "just in case you go fast." This freaks me out that maybe my contractions are stronger than I'm feeling. I text Will to hurry back!

One last bump shot.

By 5:30pm, I am pacing the room in my yellow socks and hospital gown. I pray the Christmas novena Will and I started November 30 and I text him to say it in the car so we don't forget. I then move on to a joyful mysteries rosary. I tried turning on some music, but I felt awkward listening to Adele by myself in my room for some reason. At 6:00pm I text Will asking whether he's close. I just had a hard contraction. Things are definitely picking up! Am I really in labor or is this all in my head?!

Will walks into the room about 15 minutes later. With food. So heartless. (I sneak a few bites of his burger.)

Around 6:30pm, Felicia checks me for the first time since my doctor's appointment. I am SHOCKED when she announces I am 6-7cm dilated, baby is low, but my cervix is a bit posterior. There is blood on her glove after the check and from that point on I have bloody show. The contractions slowly gain in intensity, but they aren't bad. I update family and friends on my progress, wondering how the heck I am still barely feeling this labor! 

What labor?!

I'm getting monitored intermittently. So every 30 minutes, I have to put the monitors back on so they can observe the baby's heart rate through at least one contraction. It's really no big deal at this point.

My doctor isn't at the hospital, but he wants to have the on-call doctor break my water. I'm not sure whether I should let labor progress a little more, after all I hadn't really even been convinced it was really labor, or go for this augmentation to really ramp things up. I decide to just go for it. It had been a while since I'd really eaten, or slept for that matter, so it was probably best not to slowly labor all night.

Somewhere around this time, I get a new nurse, Danielle. Felicia's shift had ended. She never said she was leaving. FELICIA NEVER SAID GOODBYE.

Sitting in the bed for monitoring and such really isn't all that painful. The contractions are much more intense when I'm up and walking around, which I figure is better for the progression of labor. I do a lot of walking and swaying against Will during contractions. It feels really good to squat while he pulls up on my arms, so I do that during contractions, too. The exercise ball is out and I have Will do counter pressure on my hips through some contractions on it. BUT, it feels so good I decide to "save" the exercise ball for when contractions get harder. After all, it seems like walking and squatting do more to move her down in my pelvis anyway.

At 9:00pm, I need another round of penicillin. I have Danielle make it a quick line again. She checks me when it's finished, around 9:30pm and I am 7cm dilated, about 90% effaced, and baby is at -1 station, however, my cervix is still posterior to Zelie's head. I don't know what this means or how to fix it. Danielle just tells me that Zelie needs to come down more. To me, that means I should be up walking around letting gravity do its thing.

Just before 10pm, the on-call doctor arrives to break my water. I am simultaneously really excited about it because I know it means Zelie is coming soon, and yet dreading it because I know how bad the contractions will get. The doctor has small, gentle hands, and the water breakage is a lot less painful than I was expecting, so things are off to a good start. However, the doctor also confirms that my cervix is the dreaded "posterior." I wish I knew what that meant, all the medical professionals are giving me confusing explanations, but I am officially in the labor zone where Googling is out of the question.

I labor for over an hour. First I sit/stand on the side of the bed because I have to be monitored for the 15 minutes following the membrane rupture. I manage to keep the amniotic fluid mess to a minimum! Will and I pray the Christmas novena through a few more contractions here. I am still able to coherently talk through contractions and we pray together. The Christmas novena is a great labor prayer! Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the son of God is born….

Baby looks good, so I have sweet freedom! At this point, things are getting pretty intense. I decide to kneel on a towel on the side of the bed and squat during contractions. I am so sure that this will help Zelie move down and take care of that pesky posterior cervix. I'm beginning to get vocal with low moans. I try out the exercise ball that I'd been "saving" and decide that I hate it. I decide to sit on the bed with my left leg dangling off to the side. I shake my leg during the contractions and moan while Will strokes my hair and face (which, yes, I told him to keep doing - it was the only thing that felt good at this point!). Danielle comes back in and breaks the bad news that it's time for my intermittent monitoring. I can't find a helpful position to labor in anyway, so whatever. I'm still having breaks between contractions (something I lacked during the pitocin contractions with my first), so I am handling things okay.

It's about 11:10pm and Danielle checks me. I tell her I just want to be able to push. Not because I feel the urge, but because it would be something different to try. Like I said, nothing is helping the pain. She checks me and breaks the news …

I am still 7cm.

Over an hour of really intense contractions. Zelie has moved down, but my dilation has not progressed at all. I am still only at 7.

I begin to kind of freak out. I turn to Will and ask him whether I should get the epidural. In our conversations beforehand, the only thing I wanted him to do if I asked for an epidural is insist I get a cervix exam first to check progress. Well, I was just checked. The short breaks between contractions are my saving grace because they give me the tiny glimmer of confidence in myself that I can make it, but during contractions I am asking for help and shouting things like "oh God! Oh God!" Danielle asks me what I want to do and I tell her I don't know. She tells me she'll give me a minute to think about it. According to her notes, she leaves the room at 11:15. While in the hallway, she tells another nurse that her patient is thinking about an epidural, but she thinks she can make it without it.

At 11:19pm, she hears screams and returns to our room.

Yup, that's me screaming. After Danielle left, I switch to hands and knees on the bed. I don't know why - just something different to try. And that's where I truly entered transition. I am totally unable to control my screaming and barely able to control my breathing. I tell Will I might puke and he sticks a trash can in my face. Not my favorite move, but luckily I only dry heave into it during a couple contractions. The contractions are wracking my body, though there does seem to be very short breaks between them when I can stop screaming and catch my breath.

I start pushing, still on hands and knees. I literally have no control over this. I just start screaming "I'm pushing!! I can't help it!!!!" Danielle tells me to stop and wait for the doctor, but I can't. Then she switches to telling me I need to breathe so the baby gets oxygen. Breathing I can do. Stop pushing I cannot do.

I can hear the flurry of activity behind me and I feel the ring of fire. I still really have no concept of where the baby is. Was she crowning? I feel tons of pressure, but I really have no idea. How bout I just keep screaming at the top of my lungs? That's what I'll do.

More pressure, more screaming. There is lots of excitement behind me, but all I know is pressure and screaming. And then I feel her slip out! And then I hear her cry! It's 11:24pm. The relief is indescribable. I am so relieved it's over and excited to hear her cry that I just start sobbing hysterically. I turn my head briefly to see her on the bed behind me, but I can't move. I just keep sobbing. Sobbing feels good after all that screaming. I look over to my left at Will and he is crying and telling me I did it! I couldn't believe it was over! After a minute or two, I am able to move my body and flip around so I can sit on the bed and hold her. It was a little difficult with the placenta still inside and cord still attached and everything. But finally, I am able to hold my baby! She remained with me for the next hour while I birthed the placenta and got a small tear stitched up. I tore in the same spot as with little Will, but a little less. Zelie nursed like a champ for about 30 minutes until we finally had to cut her off so she could get measured and looked at!

Little Will came to the hospital to meet his new baby sister yesterday. I can't wait to head home today and settle in as a family of four!

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Monday, December 14, 2015

39+3 is the Way to Be

These are all just going to be pregnancy updates from now on until she's here, probably. Complete with grainy mirror selfies because the #cantdeal is strong. Here I am at 39 weeks and some change over the weekend.

As the title of this hither post may or may not indicate, I am currently 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant.  (I'm due on Friday.) I've been having on and off contractions (usually on) for almost two weeks now. However, as of my last check on Thursday, they aren't doing anything to move things along. When checked, I was still 3.5cm dilated, 70% effaced, and at -1 station. 

That's the moment I knew I'd be pregnant forever. 

Not to over-dramatize.

The past few days have been pretty rough. The weekend moved at a snail's pace and I got very little sleep. Crampy contractions would wake me up in the middle of the night and I'd have to get up and walk them off in order to fall back asleep. Sort of unrelated, but I also ate lots of cereal. 

These guys kept me pretty good company though. 

Can we talk about Little Will's cowboy boots? He loves his boots and usually insists on putting them on himself. It's such a quirky little personality trait of his and I LOVE it. I have so many photos of him in a diaper and those cowboy boots. I know they will eventually come in handy for display in his senior yearbook and/or that very sad day when he tries to bring a nice girl home to meet his parents. 

Anyway, my doctor basically told me we can induce whenever we want, which is OH SO TEMPTING when you feel like you'll a) be pregnant forever, and b) that when your body suddenly decides not to be pregnant forever, it's going to expel the baby in record speed and you'll surely have a roadside birth. Much rational is the way of the greatly pregnant. BUT! We are remaining patient.

Sort of. 

Don't know how that got there.

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