Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crying over spilled milk now has new meaning...

We had Nicolette's 3 week check up on Friday (July 27) and I was disappointed that her weight was only 7lbs, 6.75 oz...still below her birth weight of 7lbs, 8oz...barely below but still below is below.  You want your baby to be back at his/her original birth weight within two weeks of birth so to still be slightly below was a little concerning.  Dr. Chris didn't seem too worried but did recommend that we meet with a Lactation Consultant soon to see if there are any issues that we need to work on so that we could speed this process up. ( I HIGHLY recommend Jennifer Corbin - she was a million times more helpful than the lactation consultants at the hospital.  When I mentioned that Nicolette wasn't actively nursing much to the LC at the hospital the response I got was "Well breast-feeding is a battle and you just have to win."  Geez thanks lady, that really helps me out a lot considering I've never breastfed before and I literally have NO CLUE what I'm doing!...I'm still irritated at the lack of assistance that the LCs at the hospital provided to me and feel Nicolette and I could have been off to a much better start if we had been working with someone like Jennifer right away instead of being left to "battle" on our own for 3 weeks.

I had a meeting with the consultant Saturday and she was awesome - she came to our house and stayed for 3 hours watching us feed weighing her before and after each feeding and by the end of our session she was up to 7lbs, 7.4oz.  She did notice that I have Low Milk Supply so we rented a hospital grade pump and she recommended that I feed Nicolette for 20-25 minutes on each side every 2 hours, and then pump for 15-20 minutes and then supplement feed her with 1 oz of pumped breast milk (either with a Supplemental Nutrition System* or a Bottle  every 2 hours.  This regimen was designed to help increase my supply.  Its funny how the female body works - the signal for your body to produce more milk is triggered when the milk is being drained.  Since Nicolette was a sleepy nurser and had latch issues that meant that the milk wasn't being drained regularly which further reduced my supply.  It makes me wonder again how people out there can doubt that there is a divine and incredible God out there who designed this whole process!

Now this schedule might not sound TOO bad.  When you do the math that's probably 45 minutes of feeding every two hours but that is SOOO not true.  As I mentioned, Nicolette has a shallow latch so it takes quite a while to get her "on" and ready to go and then since my supply is low she falls asleep so those minutes where she isn't actively nursing don't count towards the 25 minutes.  I found myself literally struggling to get it all done and barely had time to use the restroom & change her diaper before it was time to start all over again!  I had to supplement with a bottle with 1oz of formula at one point on Sunday bc I didn't have enough pumped and I was in tears.  I really didn't want to feed formula to my girl and it was disappointing not to be able to meet her needs but ultimately getting the girl chubby is the most important thing.  She HATED the formula by the way.  We tried it in a bottle and she kept kicking the bottle out of her mouth and when she would take it she would get her mouth full of formula and then spit it all out.  Fun - keep in mind that this still has to fit into my 2 hour repeat feeding schedule. (sigh)

At one point late Sunday afternoon I sat pumping trying to relax (because relaxing while pumping and feeding is apparently so important - the milk literally may not release if you're too stressed out...uh oh that could explain a lot).  I was actually feeling like things were going well.  The LC had said to put a blanket over the pumps so that I don't obsess about how much or how little is being produced (who? me? obsess about something related to performance or production?  she must know me pretty well already).  So I had my blankie covering everything up.  My timer went off after 15 minutes and I looked down and on the right side my shirt had barely gotten tucked up under the flange of the pump which means that all of that precious milk leaked out of the bottle and all over my shirt...are you kidding me...that bottle was totally empty and my shirt was soaking wet????  Cue hysterical tears.

Needless to say with all of this pump, feed, pump, feed, pump, I was a wreck.  Keep in mind that since I was planning to exclusively breast feed I hadn't sterilized any bottles, nor read anything about how to prepare formula how to store breast milk, nothing.  I felt totally unprepared to be thrown into this situation and literally had NO free time to read the instructions with anything.  By Sunday night for her 1am feeding she wouldn't eat anything - she wouldn't take the breast, wouldn't feed with the SNS, wouldn't take breast milk out of a bottle and wouldn't take formula out of the bottle.  I was in tears and so was she and the poor hubby didn't know what to do to console either of us!  I tried to feed again every 2 hours and she wouldn't eat at all throughout the night.  My nerves were shot and I was convinced that my child was starving so I called the doctor first thing in the morning to see if we could get in for a weight check.  At 10am nervous, neurotic first time mommy and baby Nicolette were at the Doctor's office waiting for our weight check.  Now during my time as a cheerleader for the Panthers I had countless weigh ins but I have to say that this was the first time that I was ever hoping to see the numbers on a scale go UP!  They put her on the scale and I said a silent prayer and HALLELUJAH we see 7lbs, 11.5oz!!!!!  That little stinker had somehow packed on nearly 5 ounces since her Friday appointment.  The last time I felt this much relief was when I got the call from REACH letting me know that we were pregnant!

Dr. Chris reassured me that Nicolette is just fine he said that even though her weight was low last Friday that she was still gaining so we didn't need to worry about "Failure to Thrive" (which is associated with babies who continue to lose weight or stall and don't gain ANY weight).  Failure to Thrive babies often face brain developmental issues, may grow to be short in stature and are prone towards mental retardation so you can understand why a new mommy would want to avoid having those terms ever associated with her little one!  Dr. Chris also prescribed a medication for me to help increase milk supply - it is called Domperidone or Motillium.  I started that today and we'll watch over the next 4-6 weeks to see if that helps.

I've spoken with the Lactation Consultant several times over the past 3 days and she recommended that we go to a 3 hour feeding schedule instead since Nicolette was obviously starting to put on some weight.  We've also made additional tweaks based on what I'm finding from my sessions with Nicolette.  I'll include our current protocol below in case anyone is struggling with the same issues and might want some ideas of how we're making it work...

Kelly & Nicolette's Current Protocol

  • Wake Sleeping Beauty - change diaper (praying for poops as that means that she's getting plenty to eat and gaining weight).  This takes 15-20 minutes to get her awake enough to nurse.
  • Feed 1-2 oz expressed breast milk via SNS* (this takes anywhere from 15-20 minutes depending upon how hungry the princess is).  We know it's time to stop when the princess is "milk drunk" - arms limp, eyes closed and totally zonked out!  If she's not then she gets switched to the other side to try to nurse for 15-20 minutes.  Keeping in mind that it can take 5-10 minutes to get her "on" and ready to go
  • Put the princess down to nap and get ready to pump.
  • Double Pump with hospital grade Medlea Symphony Pump 15-20 minutes...at this point since my supply is low I usually get about 30ml (1oz) but it varies...had one disappointing session with only 5ml and then an awesome one with 65ml.  The LC said it's not about quantity at this point.  The goal with pumping is merely to stimulate the milk production..."if you build it they will come" you might say.  
  • Find some time to snuggle with Sleeping Beauty - skin to skin contact between mother and baby is vital to breastfeeding success.  
  • I also take supplements
    • Fenugreek = 3 610mg supplements 3 times per day
    • Blessed Thistle = 3 390mg supplements 3 times per day
  • And the aforementioned prescription
    • Domperidone/Motillium = 1 20mg capsule 3 times per day
  • Weekly weight checks with the doctor until 6 or 8 weeks to make sure that we're making progress.

We repeat every 3 hours.  In between I have to wash all of the bottles, pump parts, etc as well as try to take care of myself so it's still a challenge but this 3 hour schedule is much easier than the 2 hour schedule we were on this weekend.  Poor Nicolette was miserable and so was I!

*I prefer to try to feed with the SNS as that consists of a tube hooked to a bottle of either expressed breast milk or formula with the other end of the tube running down the breast so that the baby actually nurses AND gets the supplement at the same time so you don't have to worry so much about nipple confusion that may come with giving a newborn a bottle.  

OK - so there is more than you probably ever wanted to know about breastfeeding.  Sorry for the lengthy post.  Hopefully there might be someone out there reading this who may find it helpful.  I know that during my few minutes here and there of free time I was struggling to find information and people's real life experiences to try to gain insight into my own issues.  As far as this goes I'd like to say where there is a will there is a way but the truth is that some women are not able to breastfeed as their supply simply will not increase...hopefully I'm not in that small minority but if so, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it and make decisions at that point.

As I finish this lengthy post I hear my precious little one tooting away...here's to praying that we have a nice full diaper.  It's the little things...I literally celebrate every poop...means mommy is doing her job and helping her baby grow!  Send prayers our way for lots of poop!  (never thought I'd ask for prayers for poo).  :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cluster -

So we survived our first real day or  two of "cluster feeding".  For those who are not familiar with this wonderful phenomenon it is basically 24 to 48 hours when your darling baby is not satisfied unless he/she is permanently attached to your boob.  It's usually associated with growth spurt periods and we are coming up on the 3 week growth spurt so it appears that we are right on schedule.  Clusterfeeding not only helps nourish the baby through a growth spurt but also serves to stimulate increased milk production by mommy so that she can keep up with growing baby's increased needs.  It's crazy to me how well thought this whole process is - anyone who has been through childbirth and delivery and tries to deny that God orchestrated everything is in serious denial.  

Clusterfeed 2012 started Sunday morning I noticed that instead of wanting to feed every 3 hours, she was starting to feed every hour to maybe every 2 hours.  Little Miss had finally gotten to the point where she was able to stay awake throughout most of her feeding so I was feeling like a rockstar and like we were finally getting into the swing of breastfeeding.  I was so happy to not have to poke and prod her for 45 minutes to an hour just to ensure that she was eating.  Little did I know what I was in for.  We finished our late afternoon feeding (or so I thought) and Sleeping Beauty had dozed off so I rocked her for a bit and then went to lay her in her bassinet (as we usually do).  Well, as soon as her head hit the bed her eyes popped wide open, her hands went directly into her mouth and she started screaming bloody murder.  What the heck?  Where did my sleepy little princess go?  Now since hands in the mouth is a feeding cue I figured that she fell asleep before she was able to get "full" so back to the glider we went for another session.  45 minutes later she seemed to have dozed off again so I rocked her for about 15 minutes to make sure and then back to the bassinet we went...repeat - eyes open, hands in mouth, hysterical screaming.  Back to the glider for another 30 minute or so feeding and repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat...I think you get the picture (and NO, I am NOT exaggerating - it would take 5-10 minutes to calm her down enough to nurse, then she'd nurse for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour then we rock for 15 minutes or so then head to the bassinet and BAM time to repeat).  

The Italian was working from home yesterday so felt totally helpless as he heard the screaming off and on throughout the day.  He felt left out because he loves cuddle time with Nicolette and there was no daddy-daughter cuddle time in her majesty's schedule at any point yesterday - she only wanted mommy and not even mommy, just 2 very special parts of mommy...all...day...long!

This continued until our 10pm bedtime feeding Monday night so at this point mommy and baby were operating on probably 1 to 2 hours of sleep total for the 2 days.   After our 10pm feeding I rocked the princess for a bit and then carefully went to place her in the bassinet fully expecting her eyes to pop right open.  Down she went and lo and behold her eyes stayed shut.  I stood there in disbelief watching and waiting for 10 minutes absolutely certain that the hysteria was bound to begin any minute but it DIDN'T!!!!  We were able to sleep until 1am and when she woke up at 1 there was no screaming just the sweet little sound of her wiggles and her little hands in her mouth.  Feeding time throughout the night went beautifully and my perfect little baby has returned to me!  So far we seem to be more on a "schedule" today with some naps in between feedings.




Also, this is totally off topic but I realized that I haven't written it down any where and I just don't want to forget.  The day after we got home from the hospital I was going through all of Nicolette's things and putting paper work away when I realized that we didn't have the little paper with her foot prints on it that the hospital put together for us!  I triple checked all of our bags and folders to find nothing....I tried to remain calm so called the hospital to see if they had perhaps found anything in lost and found...no luck.  Cue hysteria.  I cried and cried and cried and cried.  The Italian didn't know what to do...I'm really not the kind of girl to burst into tears so he has never really seen this type of reaction from me.  So you know what he did?  Sweet guy went to Michael's (those who know the Italian know that he is NOT the type to frequent craft stores) and bought ink pads and paper so that we could re-do her footprints.  When he got back he showed me how he had even picked out pink paper with Disney Princesses on it - not only were they Disney Princesses, but they were BALLERINA Disney Princesses - special since mommy was a dancer :)  So the three of us got together and stamped the little ones foot prints on her pretty paper picked out especially by daddy and I must say that our footprints turned out much better than the hospital prints...on the hospital print one of her feet had seven toes and ours show 5 perfect toes on each foot.  

I must say that I'm loving the thoughtful side of my hubby as we establish our little family and our own memories :)  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What a difference 2 weeks makes...

Today is our little girl's two week birthday!!!!  Everything is already moving so quickly!

Our princess lost her little umbilical cord "stump" yesterday (July 18) - which made mommy cry.  It's sitting in a box in our room right now and I'm not sure what to do with it.  I'm sure that most people toss it right in the trash, but for me that is the last thing that connected me directly to her so it's hard to just pitch it.  I'm sure I'll be able to part ways with it eventually but for right now I'm hanging on to it.

Nicolette also received her first piece of mail yesterday from the Social Security Administration.  So fun to see a piece of mail addressed especially to her!  She's a little person with her own mail and everything :)

We had a fun newborn photo shoot this past weekend with one of my dearest friends and I can't wait to see the images.  She is so stinking cute I could just eat her up!  And yes, I WILL be THAT mother who will shove photos of my daughter in everyone's face...so just brace yourselves.

As far as mommy (aka me) goes...I know that I'm supposed to be napping when she naps throughout the day (which is A LOT - her nickname is Sleeping Beauty because she sleeps SO much and can sleep through nearly ANYTHING!!!!!) but I can't keep myself from holding her, staring at her and kissing her sweet cheeks and head.  I know that this special time where she is so tiny and helpless is going to pass by so quickly so I'm trying to live in the moment and take it all in as much as I possibly can.  Both mommy and daddy love "skin to skin" snuggle time with the little princess.  There's just something so special about having her right up against me.  I know it sounds weird but sometimes I miss being at the hospital - we spent most of our time with the 3 of us cuddled up in our little hospital bed together.  It was so nice to have all of us so close together.  I had heard friends say that having a baby really strengthened their marriage and I would have to say that so far that is definitely true for us as well.  I feel closer to the Italian than ever before.  And every time I look at her sweet face I know that  without him there would be no her.  He's a very good daddy and loves snuggle time.  He gets a little jealous because I get to spend so much more time with her due to the 9+ hours a day we spend feeding and burping!

When I look at her I cannot believe that only 2 weeks ago she was inside my body.  When I look back at my 39 week bump pic - taken 1 day before her birth and then look at my 1 week, 5 day post partum pic I can't believe the difference that 2 weeks makes!  Sometimes I miss my bump and having her safe and inside me but as soon as I see her sweet cheeks, fingers, toes, nose, lips or hair I am so glad that she's here!  I've found more joy in the simplest things like watching her sleep than I ever thought possible.  We are exclusively breastfeeding so not only did I grow a person over the past 9 months (CRAZY!), but for the past 2 weeks I have successfully kept that person alive.  This is absolutely mind boggling to me!  I know that it's natural but it still is so amazing to me now that I'm in the process myself.
39 weeks

1 week, 5 days Post Partum

Breastfeeding definitely presents it's challenges and has been difficult for a control freak like myself to undertake.  I'm big on tracking things and with breastfeeding you don't know how much she's eating or sometimes if she's eating anything at all or just comfort suckling.   Having to rely solely on dirty and wet diapers to guesstimate her intake is a little scary (especially on our first day at home when we had NO poopy diapers for 24 hours!  (I never thought that I would be so excited about another human being's bowel movements...but alas I am.  I now rejoice with every poop and pee - even the 3 am projectile poop that not only covered my hands but also the walls of her beautiful little bassinet...oops!)

We had some trouble with breastfeeding during the first week.  She had latching issues and her never ending sleepiness made it nearly impossible to feed her but we seem to be getting into the swing of things now.  It is still VERY difficult to keep Sleeping Beauty awake long enough to finish a feeding and I feel guilty but I spend most of our feeding time, poking, prodding and tickling her in order to keep her awake.  We've even resorted to a cold washcloth to help shock her a little bit when all the other pokes and tickles don't work.  I feel like she and I are getting better at it with every feeding and I have no doubts that we'll have it down pat sooner rather than later.

That's all I have time for now - Sleeping Beauty is finally awake which means it's lunch time!  Hoping for lots of messy diapers today so I know that I'm doing my job well!  :)

Is it odd that I find the number of dirty diapers more gratifying that getting signed contracts for big pieces of business at work???  :)  My how things change in just a few short weeks!    

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our Happily Ever After (our birth story)

Wow - what a whirlwind the past week has been!  And it has passed so quickly that I am terrified as to who quickly the next 18, 20 or 40 years are going to fly by.

Let me preface this post by saying that some bits and pieces may be a bit TMI but for those who are about to embark on the miraculous journey of childbirth I want to be totally honest.  Also for my own personal recollection I want to have as much of this written down as possible so that I don't ever forget how amazing the process was.  Delivering Nicolette without any medication or interventions was the single most empowering experience that I believe I will ever have.  She IS my greatest achievement and everything that I have ever done up to this point pales in comparison and seems frivolous and trivial.

This post has been written over the past 6 days (and mostly in the wee hours of the morning in between nursing sessions) so I apologize if it is disjointed and certainly apologize for the length of it.  I'm afraid it may take you longer to read it than it took me to deliver my daughter!

With that said, here goes...

I believe in my post on July 4th I wrote something along the lines of believing that her royal highness was going to take her sweet time getting here and probably deliver AFTER our July 11th due date, right?  Well, I must have irritated the princess - (she definitely inherited some of her mother's stubbornness (I think one of my first full sentences was, "I can do it by meself.")) and she obviously wanted to prove me wrong because things really started moving very late that same evening!

We celebrated the 4th of July with a nice cookout at our neighbor's house on Wednesday evening.  While the kiddos were playing with sparklers and (legal) fireworks, the Italian and I decided to head home and call it a night around 9:30pm.  It was a "school night" after all, so I needed my beauty sleep since I had to go to work the next day.

That night around midnight during one of my many potty breaks I noticed something in the loo after going...here's one of those TMI moments.  It appeared to be that I had lost my mucous plug.  For more info on what a mucous plug is, click here.  (It's not as gross as it sounds, it's basically the cork in the wine bottle so to speak).

So I start to get a little excited...maybe something IS happening and SOON!  I resort to GoogleMD (the most reliable source of medical information that I could get my hands on in the middle of the night) and was disappointed to see that losing your mucus plug could mean that actual labor is still a couple of weeks away.  I drift back to sleep content with the fact that we're just going to have to be patient and wait until the "time is right" for Nicolette to get here.

That lasted all of about 2 hours.  At around 1am I woke up with what I at first thought was a Braxton Hicks contraction.  As it tightened there was actually some serious pressure along with it...not unbearable, just some moderately intense pressure (and I had never had ANY pain with my BH Contractions so this was definitely new for me).  I just laid in bed for a couple of hours to see if they continued and they did so I grab my trusty iPad and start tracking them with my Sprout Pregnancy App at around 3:30am.  The contractions were a little erratic...MOSTLY 5+/- minutes apart and lasting 1 minute or longer but every once in a while there would be one that was 7, 8 or 10 minutes apart still 1 minute or more long - in our childbirth prep class and at my past several Dr. Appointments they had reminded us to call when we hit 5-1-1 Contractions 5 minutes apart, Lasting 1 minute in duration for at least 1 Hour.

I shot an email off to my boss and some of my co-workers letting them know that I would not be in on Thursday.  I still didn't think that "This is it!  We're in Labor!" but knew that I would be TOTALLY useless at work on fewer than 2 hours of sleep, trying to count contractions on my iPad.  I knew that sleep was useless and around 4:30 I got up to take a shower.  While in the shower I realized that I hadn't scrubbed the shower in about a week so I proceed to spend an hour cleaning the shower WITH A TOOTHBRUSH (I am totally neurotic...I KNOW!!!!  I think this was one of my last bursts of nesting energy).  After showering and cleaning I laid down in bed in my towel and breathed through some more contractions and started tracking them again.  Again, these contractions were NOT unbearable, they were uncomfortable, there was pressure and some moderate pain (but I'm really reluctant to use that word because it isn't like "injury pain").  It was like my body and mind knew that this was supposed to be happening so I just sort of embraced it and went with it.

The Italian awoke around 6:30 and I told him what was going on.  That definitely snapped him out of his morning slumber.  He asked, "Are we going to have a baby today?"  I said probably not.  I know that contractions can come and go in the final weeks and even if it did progress that first time mothers can take a LONG time so who knows.  At this point most of my contractions were 2, 3 and 4 minutes apart with a couple here and there that were 9 minutes apart but I had been having contractions non-stop for 5 - 6 hours.  We decided to go for a walk to see if that got things moving so to speak.  We walked around the neighborhood for about an hour but didn't time contractions.  They definitely were continuing throughout our walk so we headed back home to start timing things again.

When we got back from our walk I timed the contractions for about an hour and found that they were all 5 minutes apart or less and lasting at least 1 minute.  This is the 5-1-1 that they taught us about in childbirth and at this point you are supposed to CALL YOUR DOC!  The nurse told me to come in by 9am (20 minutes from the time of my phone call) and to eat a piece of toast with peanut butter and have at least 2 glasses of water before we got there.  Now cramming all of that in while hurrying hubby along to shower and get ready and trying to get myself dressed, hair brushed, etc was a bit of a mad rush.  We got to the doctor's office and they checked all of my vitals and did another cervical exam...only 2 cm dilated DARN - only 1 cm progression since my last appointment???  She said to go home and call back if/when the contractions got closer together consistently (i.e. 3-4 min apart) and/or were much more intense.  We headed back to the homestead - the midwife had said that walking would be good for me at this point but it was the start of yet another beautiful 100+ degree day in Charlotte so that was obviously not an option.  Instead I resorted to house cleaning - vacuuming everything (AGAIN), cleaning the kitchen, bathroom floors, etc.  This was a little tricky to balance while running to my iPad every 3-5 minutes to track contractions which were continuing but not consistently closer together or much more intense.

Around noon, I decided to lay down to see if I could possibly rest through some of these contractions.  There was no rest for the weary (although there was pizza for lunch - yummy!).  The contractions continued at the same pace and intensity over the next couple of hours with a super strong contraction every now and then (one in particular that I thought was going to make me throw up).   Then around 2 or 2:30 things really slowed down a lot.  Contractions were not very intense and were definitely not within the 5-1-1 phase anymore.  Mind you that by this point in time I had basically been awake for 30-32 hours with only a few minutes sleep here and there so I decided to try to take a nap since things had slowed way down.  I let the Italian know that I didn't think anything was happening so he hunkered down in his office to bang out some of his work just in case we did have our sweet baby in the coming day or two.

I slept for a couple of hours and woke up around 4/4:30 with contractions again.  This continued and I noticed that they were gradually getting MUCH more intense.  I tried to sit in our bathtub for a while as recommended by the midwife and it did feel better and relieve much of the pressure I felt in my back but it was so hot with the warm water, me sweating, etc that it just made me feel more tired and icky so I got out of there.  By this point I noticed some light bleeding and the contractions were definitely getting MUCH stronger.  I found that I would drop to my knees shortly after the contraction would start and I would have a hard time getting to the iPad to track so it was hard to tell how close or far apart these contractions actually were.  I don't know why I was still in such denial at this point.  The Italian was still working in his office until he heard a loud noise coming from me in our bathroom...he came in to see me on my hands and knees mid-contraction around 7pm.  At this point I figured I really needed to call the doctor.  We were pretty consistently 3-4 minutes apart and the contractions were way more intense than those in the morning.

Now when you call the doctor's office after hours you sit on hold for a bit while they forward you to the on call operator.  I went through the shpeel with her and she said that she was going to have a nurse call me back.  10-15 minutes later I repeated the whole story to the nurse who had called me back and she said that she was going to have the midwife at the hospital give me a call to give me instructions.  10-15 minutes later the midwife gave me a call.  I now know that the reason that they want the mother to make these phone calls is so that everyone could hear what I sounded like while trying to carry on a conversation.  Since I was still able to talk through contractions the midwife asked if I wanted an epidural or natural childbirth and if this was my first child.  I said yes it is my first child and I'm really hoping that I'm able to have a natural/unmedicated childbirth.  She said that she would advise that we stay at home a bit longer as the rates of success with natural childbirth are significantly higher for mother's who stay at home.  I couldn't imagine staying at home any longer but wanted to think about what she said.  She said that regardless when I decided that I was ready to go ahead and head to the hospital and they would take care of us.

By this point it was almost 7:45pm and I had a contraction so strong that I literally fell to my knees.  I looked up at my husband and said I think we need to go NOW.  So he was on a mad dash to pack the car with our pillows, my body pillow, my sweet snack basket that I made for the nurses, Nicolette's bag, Daddy's bag and of course mommy's bag that I am ashamed to admit I never totally finished packing.  So I'm trying to figure out what I have and haven't packed in between crazy contractions and notice that there was some blood on the carpet which I decide that I can't leave without cleaning up (okay, so that was definitely TMI but again just goes to prove what a nut job I am!  I also had to make our bed before we left which drove the Italian nuts).   As he was finishing putting my bag in the car and giving the neighbor instructions for how to take care of our cat and dog child I had the craziest contraction.  Again I was on my hands and knees on the floor and my stomach literally started convulsing.  The only thing I can relate it to (remotely) was one time at TopCat practice when we had a contest to see who could hold a plank hold the longest...I held out at just over 5 minutes and by the end my abdominal muscles throughout my entire torso were trembling...this was similar but MUCH stronger.  At about this time The Italian invited our neighbor into the house to say hello to me...seriously dude!  What is your problem? Do you think I feel like chit chatting with the neighbors (who I love dearly) right now? I'm trying really hard not to deliver a baby on our living room floor!

We finally got into the car around 8:10 and started towards the hospital.  About 5 minutes into our drive  (as we were driving past the resort that I work for) I told the Italian, I feel like I need to PUSH!  I could literally feel her moving around in between my pelvic bones and it felt like my body just wanted to start pushing her out.  I focused on breathing and NOT pushing as I did NOT want to deliver this child on the side of the road.  Hubby kicked it into high gear and by the time we hit the interstate he was going 95 miles per hour with the hazards flashing down the merge lane just to get us to the hospital exit.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that we hit EVERY SINGLE RED LIGHT between our house and the hospital...and not hit it mid-redness...approached it (behind another car of course) as it was turning yellow and then red so it felt like we were trapped except for when we were on the interstate.

We pulled up to the maternity ward entrance at 8:30.  The Italian ran in and let them know that I was in labor.  He said that they started rushing around and bringing a wheel chair.  At this point I was hunched over the front seat with another contraction.  As soon as it started to pass I walked in and when they saw me walking on my own everyone sort of calmed down.  They asked if I wanted the wheel chair to take me to triage and the last thing I wanted to do was sit or lay down so I said no that I'd prefer to walk.  I think this made them feel like I really wasn't that far along and that the Italian and I were being overly dramatic first time parents.  As we started walking down the hallway I had to ask to stop to bend over a chair with another contraction.  The nurse asked again if I wanted a wheel chair letting me know that we had a ways to walk.  I could almost hear her inner dialogue saying "Silly first time mom, I bet she's only dilated 3 or 4 centimeters".  We walked to the triage room and they left us alone and told me to put the gown on and get in the bed.  By this point I couldn't do anything - I went into the bathroom to change and hubby had to help me with everything.  And this is gross but all I wanted to do was sit on the toilet.  No one had prepared me for the fact that childbirth makes you feel like you have to take the world's largest bowel movement (sorry TMI) and that it feels like "it" may come out at any second (and by "it" I mean it felt like a watermelon sized poo was stuck in there and about to slip out at ANY MOMENT (TMI, TMI, TMI)!!!!

We had been alone in that triage room for over 10 minutes and the Italian was getting antsy so he went into the hallway and asked if anyone was going to come check on us.  The midwife and a nurse sauntered to check on this first time mama...they asked me to get on the bed and I asked if I could go back into the bathroom and they said "no, IF you're going to deliver this baby soon, we're not going to do it in the bathroom".  DARN I thought.  The last position I wanted to be in was on my back in a hospital bed but I was a good patient and obeyed.  She did a quick exam and said with a huge smile "you're Rim."  Hubby and I looked at each other and were like "what the heck does that mean?".  She said, "It means you're going to deliver this baby, now".  HOLY MOLY!!!!

All of the sudden the sides were pulled up on the bed and about 6 nurses were quickly wheeling us down the hall from triage to a labor delivery and recovery room.   As we moved I don't remember seeing anything I just kept saying "I need to push, I need to push."  The nurses and midwives kept saying no, not yet, not yet.  Are you crazy?  I have a human being trying to escape from my body and I want her out NOW, not when it is convenient for you!  We got into the room after what seemed like an hour long journey but I now know that it was only 1-2 minutes (I had hubby walk the route with me the next day since I couldn't remember anything about it).  I had to move from the triage bed to the bed in the room and as soon as my booty hit the new bed she said you can start pushing now so I DID!  In between pushes I recalled that we hadn't given them our birth plan yet so I asked the Italian to do that.  I had spent all this time coming up with a very detailed plan of how I preferred to labor - dim lights, my own music, no medication, my choice of position, etc... so much for all those well thought out plans.  In between contractions and pushes the nurse was trying to put an IV in my arm and I had to stop her and ask what that was for and she said for your Pitocin drip to help deliver the placenta after birth.  I said, "I don't want Pitocin or an IV."  They looked at me like I was crazy, but let me go.  Then I hear the midwife and nurse down there talking about Cytotec and after a good push I said "I do NOT want Cytotec".  I'll do a separate post on my thoughts (and the FDA's stance) on those medications for use during childbirth later - for those interested PLEASE consider watching "The Business of Being Born" and "Pregnant in America".  

I was amazed at how coherent I was able to remain even in between pushes.  And I am so thankful for that because otherwise I would have wound up with an IV, pitocin and possibly cytotec - all things that I absolutely, adamantly was opposed to!  I think that because I had no medication that I was able to totally take control of the labor process.  They didn't tell me when to push I could feel it and pushed exactly how and when I was supposed to.  I heard the midwife say, "she knows what to do, she's pushing exactly as she should with each contraction." So everyone just let me do my thing from that point.  The Italian said that they were all talking about what a "rock star" I was and how they couldn't believe that this first time mama who had not taken any Lamaze, Hypnobirthing or Bradley Method classes was doing with this delivery.  I didn't hear any of it - was just totally focused on the task at hand.  After about 10-15 minutes of pushing the midwife said that her head was "right there" and that she was a redhead.  She said that I could reach down and feel it if I wanted.  I could not believe how far out she was at this point...it was insane!!!!  They had hubby take a peek too at which point I reprimanded him..."You're supposed to be an uptown daddy!!!!"  We had had numerous conversations about how I wanted him uptown and not exposed to the trauma of the downtown area...another item on my birth plan totally out the window.  At one point I asked for water and the Italizan ran and filled a cup and made sure to bring some ice chips too.  Soooo sweet - poor guy did not realize that we were WAY BEYOND the ice chip phase of labor.  They had hubby hold one of my legs and I was asking if I could switch to another position - being on my back even on an incline just didn't feel "right".  She said unfortunately we were too far along at this point to switch it up...DARN.  They kept placing an external monitor on my pelvis to monitor Nicolette's heartbeat to ensure that she wasn't showing signs of distress.  She was a total CHAMP!!!  Daddy says that she's tough like her mama :)  Her heart rate didn't change a bit throughout the whole process and they said that she turned her head exactly where it needed to go when it needed to go to help get her out.  Thank you baby for being such a good girl!!!!

At this point with 5-10 minutes of pushing left I realized that we hadn't brought in the nurse's snack basket.  I don't know why I was so fixated on this but I kept asking the Italian if he had brought the basket in - he assured me that while he hadn't done it yet, he would.  A doctor walked into the room around this point too and I don't remember exactly what he said but I remember that I found him a little irritating.  He has a strong southern accent (nothing wrong with that in itself I also have a bit of a southern drawl) but he said something about "Let's deliver us a red headed baby" and he was all hyped up.  That along with his poor grammar irritated me for some reason.  Thankfully he was only in the room for 2 minutes and then he told the midwife that he wasn't needed here that I had it under control myself so he left...whew!  The Italian was being a great coach... I could tell that he was totally caught off guard by how quickly this was moving but he held it together and was really encouraging which was so sweet.

After a grand total of 30 minutes (at most) of pushing I felt her little body wiggle out at 9:20pm.  Now THAT was the most surreal feeling that I have experienced.  There really aren't words to describe what that feels like.  Not painful at all but it is like the sweetest relief that you can ever imagine.  I didn't even recognize the sound that came out of me at that moment.  It didn't feel like it even came from my voice it was from within me if that makes any sense at all.   All I wanted was to have her in my arms immediately.  They quickly scooted her up on to my chest and to be perfectly honest I have no idea what else was going on at that point.  Everything and everyone else disappeared and she was all that I could see.  She let out a little cry/scream while moving up to my chest and that was the best sound that I ever could have heard.  (They had let me know that she had taken a potty break while inside (gross Nicolette) so if she was not crying when she came out they would have to take her away to be examined before I could hold her).  The thought of her being in someone else's arms before mine made me sick to my stomach so that little scream meant the world to me and meant that mommy and baby and daddy could have time together immediately.  I was completely oblivious but apparently Daddy cut the cord (I had wanted to leave the umbilical cord attached for a few minutes...yet another item on the birth plan out the window) and then we were just the three of us...even though there were 8-10 nurses/midwives in the room I honestly only remember the 3 of us for the next 30 minutes or so.  I think I kept saying, "I can't believe it, I can't believe we did it, I can't believe I just had a baby with no drugs!, I can't believe she's here! I can't believe it happened so fast!"  I kept whispering to her, "I'm going to worry about you forever baby."

It feels like there are a million other things that happened during that short period of time...I never imagined that so much activity and so many thoughts could happen in such a small window.  Our car was still sitting at the entrance of the maternity ward...Hubby never even had time to park for goodness sakes!

Nicolette came into this world perfectly!  All in all I was in labor for a total of 19-20 hours with no doula, no meds, etc.  Just me, myself and I and my own fortitude.  I know that natural childbirth is not for everyone and I firmly believe that there is a time and place where an epidural or piton or a cesarean section or other medical interventions are not only warranted but are absolutely necessary for the safety of mother and/or baby.  But I do wish that more women recognized their own inner strength and would give themselves and other women the credit that they deserve.  I do find it sad that the few times that I would mention the fact that I wanted to try for a natural childbirth the responses that I received from other women were incredulous, "Why would you want to do that?", "Are you crazy?", "I'm getting the epidural as soon as I walk in the door", etc.  These were comments coming from some of the strongest and most accomplished women that I know so I was in shock and started to wonder "well if they can't do it I probably won't be able to either".  Instead of being supportive and saying "That's awesome I believe that you can totally do that" and encouraging me it was all Debbie Downer, doom and gloom horror stories.  I thought we were all supposed to be feminists now...I am woman, hear me roar and all that jazz, right?  God made our bodies to do this.  He made women to do this, not men.  He didn't say it would be easy actually He said exactly the opposite - but "with God ALL things are possible...".  I made a conscious decision for most of my 3rd trimester to keep my plans for a natural birth mostly to myself with the exception of a few trusted friends who I knew would be supportive and encouraging just because I didn't want the judgement and negativity creeping in to my head.  If you hear someone say, "you won't be able to make it" enough times, you will start to subconsciously believe it.  So I made the decision to keep the focus on Nicolette and I and staying positive.  There is no doubt that I my body was ABLE, so it was just having a WILL that believed in my body's abilities.

So take that with a grain of salt - I certainly will never, ever judge any woman's decision to have a medicated birth and I hope that other women give those who opt for even considering natural birth a little more encouragement.  If the mother gets into the process and "can't take it" - let her be the one to decide that DURING the process....please don't plant the seeds of doubt in her mind in advance and potentially rob her of the most empowering experience that she may ever have in her life.  I had my faith to get me through and had prayed and meditated nightly about having a natural birth.  I know that "If you believe you will receive whatever you ask in prayer." Matthew 21:22.  That verse was my mantra in the months leading up to this (and was also my mantra during our IVF process).  I believe that I can do it and because I believe that I can and am praying to God about it in faith he will make sure that I achieve it!  But not all women have that sort of faith (which is sad for an entirely different reason) and all she may have is the advice of her female friends who have been through childbirth.  So for those who are sharing stories with mommies to be, please be mindful and respectful of the power that you have to influence and encourage (or discourage) her.

"When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world." ~ John 16:21

If you made it through this novel, thank you for taking the time to read our story.  This is mostly for our own recollection but I did want to share in case any mommies-to-be may be reading.  I not only believe that you can do it...I know that you can if you choose to do so and I will be your biggest cheerleader even if you do get halfway through and change your mind.

Peace and blessings to all!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

HDBD - my "outside bump" :)

Hard to believe that today was Nicolette's Due Date.  

She surprised us with an early arrival at 9:20pm on Thursday, July 5th!  7 lbs, 8 oz and 18.5 inches long.  Mommy labored at home for most of the day and made it to the hospital at 8:30 just in the nick of time for Nicolette's 9:20pm Grand Entrance!  

Mommy was thrilled to have a natural, drug free birth experience and is working on writing out my Birth Story so that I don't forget a single second of the experience.  It was beyond perfect!    

She is absolutely perfect and mommy and daddy are in heaven!  

We're getting our schedule situated and enjoying our new family so you might not hear much from us for a while.

Many thanks for all of the prayers and well wishes.  She could not be more perfect and we could not be  any happier.  I honestly never knew that I could love anyone this much.  I feel like my heart grew 100 times.  

We are certainly blessed beyond what we deserve!  

Thank you to Jesus through whom all things are possible!

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give her him to the LORD. For her his whole life she he will be given over to the LORD.” 
 I Samuel 1:27-28
Lord, forgive me for changing the pronouns to fit our situation :) 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

HDBD - 39 weeks (1 week until D Day!!!!)

I am fully aware that my weekly Hump Day Bump Day posts are pretty monotonous - filled with "I can't believe we only have this many weeks left".  But this one is for real...


Now I am FULLY aware that many first time mommies do go past their due date and I'm honestly get the feeling that that is what may happen with us too.  I haven't had any contractions or any other signs that labor is near and have been sitting happy at 1cm dilated and 50% effaced for the past 2 weeks (we have another doctor's appointment on Friday so we'll see if that has changed at all).  I DO however have baby brain and not the kind where I'm forgetting everything...the kind where she's all that I can think about ("she's moving a lot, why is she moving so much", "she's not moving much, why isn't she moving, I don't think she's moved all day!!!!").  I have a hard time thinking or even talking about anything else.  I guess that's a sign of the "new normal" that we'll soon be living.  So while I don't feel like she's coming any time soon or that she'll even be here on or before her due date I am praying that we're able to avoid an induction at all costs.  Luckily my doctor really does everything possible to avoid inductions (as they tend to pose more complications for first time mothers than benefits) so I trust that they'll help walk us through this.      

Last weekend I was being a nice wife making my hubby's favorite cookies for our anniversary (yeah, I totally think that my homemade cookies are equal to the rockin' ruby and diamond pendant he bought for me) and whilst baking I ate a couple of spoonfuls of cookie batter...as soon as the second spoonful was down I started FREAKING OUT - "WHAT AM I DOING EATING RAW COOKIE DOUGH????".  I have been SOOOOO careful with what I've eaten (and NOT eaten) during this pregnancy - no deli meats, no unpasteurized cheeses or dairy, trying to avoid MSG whenever I can read ingredients and see what's in food, no meats, fish our poultry that aren't cooked well done, etc.) and now at 9 months pregnant I eat RAW COOKIE DOUGH?  What the heck was I thinking?????  I was immediately terrified that I was going to get Salmonella.  So what do I do?  First I literally throw up (TMI, I know) - I was so upset and nervous that it was like a natural reflex that couldn't be stopped and then I of course consult Google to find out how much damage I potentially may have done....BAD move...the outlook was grim, apparently salmonella does cross the placenta and can have horrible, horrible effects on the baby.  I was an absolute wreck for the entire day and night...literally did not sleep at all Sunday night - laid awake almost all night with my BabyConnect App on my iPad so that I could count fetal movements every hour.  Everything that I read said that if you do get salmonella that you're going to show symptoms within 12-72 hours - so as of today we're officially clear...no traces of salmonella, baby girl has been active and rolling around regularly and my neurotic obsession with researching this topic can subside for the time being.  

In other news - still wearing heels at work (and my stylish pantyhose - that are required, not optional), still no swelling and the jeans I have on in the pic above are actually PRE-PREGNANCY skinny jeans (I was even able to zip and button them below the belly)!  Not bragging but I am pretty happy that I still fit into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes (except for the belly of course).  I know that the weight won't fall off like Heidi Klum or Jessica Alba's (I surely will not be strutting my stuff in my underwear on a runway on national tv 6 weeks (or anytime) after childbirth), but I'm hoping that being reasonably healthy during this pregnancy will help things go somewhat back to normal once I have an outside baby instead of an inside baby.  My 6 pack may never come back but hopefully my clothes will fit!  

We're ready to meet you Nicolette!  Any day now and it can't come soon enough!!!!

Happy 4th of July everyone!!!  Hope to have our own little Firework soon!!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Seven Year Itch?

We seem to have beat it!  Happy Anniversary to Us!!!!  7 years ago at 7pm I became Mrs. Randazzo!  It really does not feel like it's been 7 years since we said "I Do" and it really doesn't feel like we've been together for 10 years.  Time is funny that way!  We've definitely had our ups and downs but so thankful that we've persevered and are where we are today.

Weren't we cute???  :)

We don't normally exchange gifts for Anniversaries but this year the Italian surprised me.  He gave me a beautiful ruby & diamond pendant as an anniversary/(advance) push present.  Since it's officially July 1st and the little princess hasn't arrived yet that means that her birthstone will definitely be a RUBY.  So thoughtful, and I mean no disrespect but definitely unexpected coming from The Italian. 

I LOVE IT!!!!!   

Speaking of her highness, the little princess has not made any further progress.  At my doctor's appointment Thursday we were still dilated 1 cm and 50% effaced.  Doc says that that really doesn't mean anything - he's had patients not dilate at all and deliver that night and some who walk around dilated 3cm for 3 or 4 weeks!  Her majesty has however discovered a new toy...my bladder.  The Italian and I were trying to watch a movie last night and I literally had to have him pause it 3 times in 10 minutes...I am NOT exaggerating either.  (wish I was).  

I did get some packing done yesterday...

Nicolette's bag is all packed (Boppy, Going Home Dress - which was actually one of my dresses when I was a baby, Extra Onesie for Going Home, Hair Bows, Blankie, Baby Legs, Socks & Mittens). 
Sweet Nicolette's Bag of Goodies for the Hospital 
I LOVE this bag from Auntie Laura - it's the only one big enough to fit the Boppy to take to the hospital!  

I packed a basket full of "snacks" to give to the sweet Labor & Delivery Nurses at the hospital.  It's my "please-be-super-nice-to-me-even-though-I might-yell-at-you-peace-offering gift". 

I also vacuumed the whole house (again), cleaned the bathrooms (again), started working on Nicolette's baby book, learned how to make a Sock Bun (thinking this might be the best way to keep my hair out of my face during delivery), packed up (and hid) snacks for Daddy...but I cannot seem to make myself make any significant progress on MY hospital bag...
Mommy's Hospital "Pile"
At least I have some stuff together - pjs, slippers, chapstick, hair ties, headband, flip flops, leggings, t-shirt, hospital paperwork, starting to get charging cords together for camera, iPad, computer, going home dress, etc... I don't know why I'm procrastinating so much with this!  Maybe today will be the day that I get fully motivated...