June 21, 2012

First Two Weeks

As I look at these pictures, I see a whole lot of Native American in her facial features. Am I imagining things or do you see it too?  I think she got a lot of her look from my side of the family, where the boys got a lot from the Sampson side.


48 Hours

The first rose was blooming as we left for the hospital.
 Getting a little cleaned up
 You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wonderful. 
 The nurses put her first bow on her head for an ID picture
 Holding the baby for the first time
 In love
 So precious
Best. Picture. Ever.
You can tell he is pretty tired after being up all night
helping me, but he is also pretty content. :) 
 Getting snuggles
 First onesie 
 Going home outfit
 Even though it is a pretty small NB sleeper, her legs would
pull up right out of the legs she is that tiny.
 Carseat test passed and ready to go home
 Seems like they all decided to bloom the day we got home in her honor. :)

Jammies and ready for bed

June 20, 2012

Charlotte's Birthday

Pictures will be forthcoming, but for now, here is the story.  It is long and more detailed than most people will care for, so feel free to skip it and wait for the pictures :), but since this is basically my journal, I want it written down for my own memories.

After having prodromal labor for weeks, things were finally going to happen.  June 2nd in the middle of the night I woke up to realize my water had broken.  A quick dash to the bathroom confirmed it.  I was a little surprised, as my water never broke with the boys.  With Porter I fully dilated and it didn't break even then, and with Gabe they broke it for me at about 7 centimeters. Knowing I would want energy, I cleaned up and went back to bed. As I had gotten up I told Adam my water broke, but when I went back in to change the sheets, he was still asleep and hadn't heard me, so he was very surprised when I started to take the sheets off. lol

  Even though we knew this meant she would be four weeks early, we also knew that everything was fine.  I had been promised in a blessing early on in my pregnancy that she would be born healthy and whole and that promise had been in my mind and heart any time something tried to bring up fear.  Both of us had felt that she would come a little early (both my boys were about 10-12 days early and were still fairly big) and also that she would be smaller than her brothers.  We just didn't think it would be a full four weeks early.  I am sure all my family joins us in being grateful that it wasn't five weeks early in Jackson Hole. :)

We waited the whole next day for labor to start, but nothing happened other than some occasional contractions that never got regular.  I felt fine with waiting at home for labor to start on its own, at least for a day or two, but we did try all the things we knew to get things going.  I walked, ate some pineapple, pulled some weeds, bounced on the ball, tried to get some rest, did some stairs, etc.  Nothing got labor started.  Adam gave me a blessing and said she was ready and willing to come that day, but my body just wasn't cooperating. 

Sunday we did more of the same.  Mom was trying to decide when to come down and in the end we were happy she decided to come that evening as contractions finally started.  By the time she got here I had been having contractions for a couple hours. They were fairly strong and had gotten down to just a couple minutes apart and lasting a minute or two.  Until about 11:30 that night and then all of a sudden they stopped completely.  They didn't just slow down or get farther apart.  They just stopped cold.  Confusing.  So, I decided to go to bed and try to get some rest before they started again.  Only they didn't.  I woke up the next morning at 5 and went for a brisk walk thinking that would get things moving again.  But it didn't. 

That afternoon we had passed the 48 hour window of having my water broken and had come to the conclusion that things just weren't going to get started again on their own.  I was hoping to get at least some contractions going before we went in as I was unsure what the protocol would be for me with pitocin.  Normally they don't do inductions for someone who has had a c-section as the chance of uterine rupture goes up slightly.  Since I have also had a vbac since then, and my uterus was basically 'proven', there wasn't as much risk of that, but I didn't know what the hospital policy would be.  We knew there was a chance they would just opt for a c-section and I wanted to avoid that if we could.  If I was already in labor they could augment with pitocin (they did that with Gabe), but they don't usually like to do a complete induction after a c-section.  Unfortunately, labor wasn't happening and we were getting to the end of our options at home within the time constraint.

We went in that afternoon and told them that I had been leaking some fluid.  Of course we got a lecture from everyone about not coming in right away.  But when they asked me if anyone had told me I needed to come in if my water broke, I could honestly say no. :)  I was only 36 weeks so my doctor hadn't said anything about it yet, and since it had never broken before labor before, no one felt the need to say anything anyway.
   *** Hospitals can scare people into thinking they need to have the baby immediately after their water breaks, when in actuality, as long as their is no meconium or other risk factors like hospital checks that could introduce infection, you can go with broken waters for days and be fine.  We were at peace with our decision to wait and also at peace with our decision of when to go in, so the frequent finger shaking at us for waiting was actually kind of humorous to me.  If I had my way, we would have had the baby at home, and then there really would have been some finger shaking. lol

Speaking of which, looking back, I am sure this is why, even though we really liked the midwife we interviewed, I could never get settled with hiring her.  There was a lot of red tape with the insurance we would have had to go through, but we would have been okay with that if we had felt she was the right decision for us.  I really wanted to hire her, but something held me back.  Now I am grateful for that as we would have had to transfer to hospital care anyway since we were only 36 weeks, and that would have meant paying for the birth twice, plus going in to a doctor who might have been a bit unhappy that we had transferred out of his care before. Glad we didn't have that worry, and grateful for that nudge that kept us where we were.

Okay, back to the story.  Since we were a little vague about my water breaking and when, they tested the fluid to see if it was amniotic.  Came back inconclusive.  Hmm.  Did another test that was supposed to be more accurate and it came back negative.  Once again, something privately humorous to me since I had no doubt about my water being broken.  But I knew that sometimes a leak could seal itself again, so there was that possibility.  I was checked and we hoped that all the previous contractions and weeks of labor on and off would have done something, but no, I was still only 1 cm and only 50% effaced, the same as I had been at my last appointment. :(  Since obviously my body wasn't gearing up to do its own thing despite all the signs, they decided to do an ultrasound to see how much fluid was there.  If there was plenty, since I was only 36 weeks, they would just send me home to wait for labor to start.  We were hoping for that.  When he took a look, there was fluid there, but not a ton.  It was just low enough that the doctor didn't feel great about letting me go.  So then we had to talk about options.

Cervidil, which is commonly used to kick things off, was out of the question.  It would have been the optimal solution for me, just 'ripening' the cervix and allowing a more natural labor, but it was too risky with my previous c-section.  The other options were a repeat c-section and pitocin.  Neither one fun options.  My doctor had been on call all weekend, but had just gone home before I came in.  Ironically, the doctor -Dr Fowers- who had followed me all through my pregnancy with Gabe was the doctor on call. When I had Gabe, he was out of town and the doctor I have now -Dr Kirkman- delivered Gabe.  Now it would be just the opposite.  He left a message saying that he recommended a repeat c-section as he didn't think my cervix was favorable and any induction would end in a c-section anyway.  (Maybe another reason I was so at peace with waiting until we did to come in?)  Dr Fowers, on the other hand, gave me my choice.  We really wanted to have a normal delivery if we could even if we couldn't have a completely natural labor, so I asked him if we could try the pitocin for a while and see if it got things going.  If there was no progress after a while we would go with the section.  He was fine with that, so they got everything ready to start the pit drip.

Man, I had forgotten how incredibly horrible pitocin contractions are!  I started out in the bed since with an induction they have to constantly monitor you and they hadn't gotten a portable monitor for me yet.  If you have never experienced pitocin, let me tell you, you don't want to.  I have experienced normal labor before.  At least up to 7 centimeters.  Slower, softer contractions building to stronger, longer contractions.  With pitocin, for me at least, the contractions start out as strong as they would be in the end of labor and are just as fast.  I don't think I went longer than two minutes from contraction to contraction from the beginning and it only took about half an hour for them to be so strong I really wanted, no needed to get out of bed and move!  I sent Adam out to see what was holding up the portable monitor and they finally brought one back to me after an hour or so.  I felt like forever, but it probably was only an hour.  So, they got me hooked to that and I got out of bed.  Only they were just as bad when moving around. Even Adam's help with couterpressure wasn't helping.  Normal labor for me has been, and was through all the prodromal labor, easier for me when moving.  But this, this was agony.  People have said transition can feel like you are being split in half from the inside out and that is a little how pitocin contractions felt to me.  It might not have been quite that bad, but it was definitely approaching it.  Somehow in my head I was hoping that once labor started that they would be able to turn the pit off and let me go on my own, but I don't know what I was thinking. Once they got that drip in, there was no going back.  And since they had to constantly monitor me, things like the whirlpool they have there wasn't an option for me. :(  None of my coping techniques were able to withstand this.

I finally had to ask for the epidural.  They had checked me and they told me I was 5+ cms.  Only halfway through and I knew I wasn't going to make it another 5 hours like this. (Yes I know, nothing is exact with time, but that was the thought in my head)  And if I was going to ask for it eventually, I might as well have it sooner rather than later. Plus, I knew from past experience that once I asked, it could still take at least an hour before I got it.  I wasn't crazy about asking for it.  Just once, I would like to experience a completely natural birth, but this time obviously wasn't going to be it anyway, so there you have it.  When the anesthesiologist came in, he asked me if he was going to make me cry like the last lady.  He said she wasn't even in enough pain to need it yet and that getting it was worse for her than the contractions.  I assured him that nothing he could do was going to be worse that what I was already feeling.  I thought he was just making conversation and wasn't offended, but Adam was offended for me and told me later how rude he thought the guy was.  Eh.  He was getting rid of my pain; I was okay with a little rudeness..

Having had an epidural before, I was ready for the pain to diminish immediately.   It did not.  I was getting worried that it wasn't going to work at all.  My legs were starting to go a little numb, but I was still feeling the full force of the contractions.  I was able to get a little bump from the machine they give you to let you regulate it, and finally after about 45 minutes they were bearable again.

One thing I really don't like about epidurals is that they make me really sleepy without allowing me to really get any sleep.  So I just feel groggy the whole time.  Ugh.  So I was in and out of sleep for the next few hours.  But, Yay!  everything was going well and I wasn't going to need a c-section.  I progressed pretty much by the book, a centimeter an hour and my epidural took the edge off without making me so numb I couldn't feel my body and what was happening.  By about 5:30 am I was complete. I think I had been for a little while as I had been feeling her move down with each contraction and was pushing just a bit with each one as well.

Its funny, the last time my legs weren't numb and I could move pretty well, but I couldn't feel at all, when I was pushing, what was happening and if I was doing it right.  This time, my left leg was totally numb, my right partially so, but I could feel everything and knew just what was happening with my body.  I think, other than her being so much smaller than Gabe, that really helped my pushing time to be so much shorter.  They also put up hand bars for me to use and they were really helpful in focusing my pushing. I started really pushing a couple minutes before 6 and she was born at 6:21.  I wasn't looking at the clock, but Adam said I pushed for 23 minutes, through maybe a dozen contractions.  Not too bad considering I pushed for over 3 1/2 hours with Gabe and still needed the vacuum to help. 

  I remember feeling kind of emotionally numb at the moment of birth with my boys.  One because it was a c-section and I didn't get to see or feel it and I was still in a bit of shock at what was happening, and with the other because I was so physically wrung out I didn't have much left to register that he was finally born.  But with this one, I got to really be in the moment as she was born.  What an incredible thing to feel your baby leave your body and meet the world.  I don't think I will ever forget it. 

They knew I wanted to wait a couple minutes to cut the cord and that I wanted her placed on me once she was born.  The doctor had her for a couple minutes and I remember thinking what is taking so long and only had a second to wonder about it before he let Adam cut the cord and then lifted her up to me, letting me know it could only be for a little while as with her being early they needed to check her out.  They put her on my chest and my first thought and words were, "She is so tiny! So much smaller than the boys!"  Covered in vernix and so beautiful, and to our surprise, a lot of dark brown hair.  We had our little girl.  Wide eyes taking in her new world and this time I actually got to be one of the first things she saw.  That meant a lot to me.

Eventually they had to take her so the nurse could look her over.  He was the first of many to ask if we were sure she was really only 36 weeks as she ended up weighing 6 lbs 15 oz and did very well from the beginning.  She needed no oxygen or anything else and only needed a little formula to stabilize her blood sugar after birth.  While they were looking her over and weighing her I delivered the placenta and I was able to see it this time.  What a cool thing.  This little tiny sac where she had lived all balled up for the last several months.  Adam was across the room with the baby and I am sure he is glad he missed it, but I thought it was neat to have the doctor show me my side of it and her side and the sac, etc.

 Once we were in recovery, we had someone come in and tell us all about late term preemies and what to expect.  There were things we needed to look out for even though she was bigger and didn't look preemie.  The primary thing being her nutrition.  Because she was early she was always (and still is for the most part) very tired and didn't wake up to eat, so we needed to wake her every three hours to feed her.  Because she was tired and didn't want to wake up and because of her being preemie, she didn't nurse well. The muscles just aren't developed well enough for it yet, and it would have been hard to get her awake enough to even try.  We needed to know what she was getting and make sure her sugar stayed where it needed to be, so that necessitated our switching to pumping and bottle feeding.  Since, in the past, we have had to supplement with formula anyway, this was nothing new, but it has definitely been challenging.  Enormous thanks goes to my husband for supporting me in wanting to give our baby breast milk and also to everyone else who has made that possible by providing meals and caring for our kids so I would have time and energy for everything the baby needs and also thanks for the medical/lactation people who have given me the tools and information to make this work.  It takes a village and I am so grateful for mine.

My recovery this time has been great, the best of all three of my births.  No surgery, no tearing/stitches, short labor, and short pushing have all combined to make my recovery very very easy.  Other than being exhausted, I felt fine after just the first day.  I gave the nurses headaches I am sure by declining their help to the bathroom etc.  Thankfully they didn't push matters and let me have my way.  I was up and walking around even before they came back to check on me and chided me the first time, but then after that, they let me be.  Charlotte is a doll and has been great.  Since we wake her to eat most of the time still, she usually eats when I am up to pump in the night anyway, so we have gotten into somewhat of a schedule with Adam taking the time or two that she has woken before my schedule.  He has done so much to make things easier for me and I SO appreciate all his service to me and our family.  He is the best Dad. 

At her two week appointment this week, she was up an ounce so she is now 7 lbs even.  She is 19 inches, and everyone, including us, continues to marvel at how tiny she is.  Not for long, I am sure. :)  We love having pink in the house, and especially love all the adorable clothes and things people have given us.  It is so much more fun to dress up a little girl. :)  Thank you to everyone who has called, texted, emailed good wishes, as well as thanks for every one's prayers on our and Charlotte's behalf.  We have felt the love and send it back in your direction in thanks.

June 18, 2012

Gabe Turns Three

Gabe turned three the day after we had the baby, so I wasn't able to go to his party, but Adam took care of everything and they had a great time at the Funpark.  We briefly thought about moving it, but even if we pushed it a week, I wouldn't want the baby there, so I still would have missed it and we didn't want Gabe to get skimped on attention for his big day.

 Porter turned out to be very lucky and as my SIL said, if we ever go gambling in Vegas we should bring him along, because he won a jackpot in his second turn of the night. 

650 tickets!  He was one happy boy!

Playing some games

We found out the hard way;as Adam was walking in the door, that no food is allowed inside.  Whoops, guess I should have checked that ahead of time.  So after playing for a while, everyone went outside to eat their cupcakes in the grass.  It doesn't look like they minded too much...

 He got a cowboy hat from his dad and he loves it!  He goes around doffing it and saying, "Howdy Howdy!"

He also got some parachute men.  Gabe's uncle Isaac had to rescue a few.

All in all, a pretty successful birthday party.  Thanks Honey, for making sure Gabe still got his day. :)


June 14, 2012

Then and Now

I will write the story of her birth soon, but for now, a picture or two.

As soon as she was born, I thought of this picture of me with my baby blanket and knew I wanted to do a comparison picture.  The blanket has seen a lot of wear and tear over the years as I slept with it forever.  I wish I could find some of that material now so I could maker her one too.  These pictures are of us both at nine days old.  The 14th of April and the 14th of June, 33 years apart. :)