Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Foster's Birth Story Part 3

I was just about to sit down and write that I knew a time would eventually come where I would be able to sit down and write, but then Foster started crying. So now I'm nursing and writing. And I think most of the time my drive to write is all in my own head and not about the circumstances. I've written posts with children at my feet or laundry piled high, but there has to be a certain level of consciousness for me to even feel like writing. And that's why writing with small children and a newborn can be difficult. Andrew told me while I was talking to him today that I was very "looky outty" today. I laughed. He said he was glad I laughed. Because that's what he tries to do when he knows I'm tired and in my own head. I always people watch when out and about, but today I guess I kept looking out and not really returning as quickly. I actually completely zoned out watching a girl at lunch that I completely missed Andrew saying a prayer for our food. I'm probably just tired. Actually I have been tired for quite awhile now.

Looking at these pictures my first thought is how I wish I could be one of those girls who really looks pretty much like herself after having a baby, with maybe just a bit of weight added to her. I'm always puffy. Actually really puffy with Blanche and this time with Foster. Which is a sign of preeclampsia. My hands and arms were swelling, and my doctor was always worried about my face. I told one doctor when I was being put on bedrest that every time I looked in the mirror I thought my nose looked funny. So when I looked at pictures of myself in the hospital I did not want to post them. I don't see myself as much. I can see my swollen hands in all the pictures. But, in the end, it is an honest part of the story, and part of the beauty of the sacrifice it takes for me to bring life into this world. And really, I've come to really like the first couple of pictures Andrew took of me nursing Foster.

Trying to think back to our time in the hospital feels like work a little bit. The other night I was trying to remember even the day after we got out from the hospital. I kept thinking in my head that I knew I was drinking coffee, but I honestly couldn't recall enough about my day to remember where I had bought the coffee. When did I get that coffee? I just remember carrying it around the ER waiting room while they checked Foster's bilirubin count. Then I remembered all of the sudden. We had been at Target between grabbing lunch with all three kids and then heading across the city to the children's ER to check his numbers. Because it was Labor Day and other offices were closed. We were buying a bottle for Foster. Because in the chaos of it all no one could find any bottles that had been saved from the girls. We had all these little bottles of formula from the hospital, which while there we had little plastic nipples that went on. But then once we were home, where were those plastic bottle nipples? Where were the old bottles? We were told we needed to supplement for a bit longer to really push fluids and help his number come down. So basically, my first day "home" from a week at the hospital was spent running around the city with three kids. And now I know why no one really remembers these days that well. Because by the time the day is over, I just want to go to bed. I don't have a lot of time to rethink the day. Or maybe I don't even want to.

Our week long stay in the hospital and NICU felt similar. The days went by fast and slow. Anytime I would try and nap two or three people would end up needing to come in and talk to me. Our time there really was not long at all, and now that it is all over it feels almost anticlimactic to even really go into too much detail. There were lots of talks with doctors and nurses and just wishing to go home. There was just always so much unknown. I never knew really if I'd be leaving Foster or staying with him. I wanted all of us to be together. The girls and all of us.

I could never be too ungrateful though. Because Foster's bed was at the end of the NICU. In his own little light room. So that meant after scrubbing down we would walk through all the tiny little babies in their incubators and hear all the beeping of monitors. Each baby had their own nurse. Life felt so very fragile. It made me very thankful to turn the corner and see my baby at over six pounds, even a month early. And to see him sucking away on that little orange paci. Healthy and alert. Well, besides getting a few things under control. And now with him on my lap and becoming more alert each day, I know that these newborn days will feel very similar to the hospital. I will remember I was tired, and there were so many things to do, but I'll be thankful... and I'm sure it won't even really feel all that bad.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Foster's Birth Story Part 2

Foster is three weeks old today. He's asleep on my lap on top of the boppy pillow just like Rosemary use to do not that long ago when I would write. I have wanted to write out the rest of this birth story for awhile now, before it gets too far behind me. But of course, life with a newborn has made my brain foggy and there is laundry piled high and I hardly feel justified to write anything.

But, tonight is the end of Andrew's first six days in a row back to work. I'm tired of all the kid time. So many little people all over me all day long. I was laying in bed nursing and cuddling Foster tonight while the girls were wildly tossing and turning instead of trying to sleep in their own bed beside ours. They both napped today, but were awake by three, so I figured our normal routine wouldn't be too rough. But it's becoming a bit of a fight tonight. And Andrew was already laying there. So I excused myself to go hold Foster here at the computer instead of in the dark listening to little voices. Except our house is so small I can still hear every word alongside my typing. Rosemary has been saying "awww" like "aww come on" about anything she isn't happy about. She got that from Blanche. I've already heard a few cries for mom and a few awws.

Sometimes it feels overwhelming to feel so needed by so many. Of course I love them and do like being needed. My hospital experience still feels almost unreal in someways because it was a completely different life for a week. Before having Foster, I had only left Blanche for two nights in a row when Rosemary was born, an occasional night with Gigi, and had never left Rosemary at all. Well, the first night I was admitted in the hospital I had to leave them. But they fell asleep with Andrew on the drive home. My hospital stay was seven nights where I wasn't there. Going from bedrest to the hospital was another step removed from their lives a bit. Which I know on these occasions learning a bit of independence is good. But what wasn't fun about the hospital is I didn't know how long it would take or how long I would have to stay. It all felt so much longer because each day I was trying to guess whether or not we would go home.

I'm trying to sit here and write my birth story. But for some reason it just isn't flowing out quite like I would like. Maybe it is that tired and foggy brain. Maybe there are just so many things to process that I am having trouble putting things down into words. That is not to say that my labor with Foster was really intense or crazy. Actually it was probably the easiest labor yet. I say that because I just felt so bad going into it, that I really didn't want to work for it. Maybe thats why I am having a hard time writing it down. I have always thought a home birth or natural birth at a birthing center would be great. But maybe this time I just realized that I have had issues every time. And that natural or home birth wasn't going to happen for me. I think in my mind I debate myself. I read natural labor books and stories of midwives. I know the "snowball" effect of the hospital. I know c section rates are too high. But I guess in the end I trust the hospital. I trust the doctors. Especially with pre eclampsia and high blood pressure issues. I will be fine one minute and then the next appointment things are no longer fine. And every time I have had to trust the doctors to help me stay safe. So this time after being on bedrest and not feeling well, and knowing my body... (my blood pressure only rises while in pain and under stress) I chose to say yes to being induced at 36 weeks, to having petocin, to having an epidural... and it actually all went great. My epidural actually kept my blood pressure low. I was able to relax and rest until it was time to deliver. I had a great doctor who knew what she was doing. I was told to keep using the bathroom, eat breakfast, stay calm and wait for my body to really become in active labor before being given an epidural. I had a great experience being helped by an awesome medical team. I pushed Foster out during one single contraction and didn't have a tear. He was put on my stomach immediately, they did delayed cord clamping, and he was given to me to nurse within the first twenty minutes of life.

So this time maybe I don't really have a long and heroic tale of how I birthed my child. But I did it. I made it through my bedrest and feeling awful and had my baby. Any woman who has a child, no matter how she has that child is strong. And stronger for going through it.

I'm glad my labor went so well. Because immediately after I had to be given a magnesium treatment, use a bedside commode  (you know get out of bed and use the potty right beside the bed... while my nurse came in and out) and then had time being wheeled back and forth from the NICU. My time at the hospital was filled with highs and lows. Like any postpartum woman.  Andrew and I had our share of good times. We spent a lot of time watching the food network and HGTV. We discovered we loved the show "Fixer Upper" that had a cute married couple and four kids on a cute little country home. I debated moving to Waco just so JoAnna could find me an old farm house and make it adorable. Andrew would do food runs and found an awesome boba tea place. We laughed a lot when Andrew would "drive" my wheelchair to the NICU. I'm sure it was lack of sleep, but it always felt like he was running when he pushed me. My hair would blow in the wind. I had an almost hysterical meltdown in front of a doctor because I was told all day by a nurse that I was being discharged... and then once my girls were at home waiting for me and it was 7pm I was told I had to stay because my blood pressure wasn't good enough. My emotions were all over the place. I was use to my kids being with me for twelve hours straight a day. And then both girls were gone and my new baby was over in the NICU. I was stuck eating, laying in bed and watching tv. Which does sound awesome now... but at the time not so much.

Thinking back to all of the moments and all my emotions I am just glad it's over. I am so happy Foster is here and we are all together at home. In the hospital I wished so badly for just a day of my old life back. Where I was mama and the girls played. Now I have that back but with a newborn and I am probably not as thankful as I should be.  Life is just hard when you are tired. Like I posted the other day on instagram from Amy Poehler, "Sleep helps you win at life." Lack of sleep can make things hard. Its easy to wish away the beginning days and want a bit of normalcy. Or you know, lunch without nursing through the entire thing. But, I have a really sweet baby on my lap. So tiny and three weeks old. And one little girl who is fast asleep according to her daddy and another little girl who is still waiting for me to come back to bed...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Foster's Birth Story Part 1

I would have been 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow. I had been at my 34 week appointment when the nurse took my blood pressure and got a reading that was a little high. I wasn't in a dangerous zone, but pre-hypertension after 20 weeks, I think, is a warning sign to start looking for any other symptoms of preeclampsia. Having a history of preeclampsia with Blanche, and then postpartum hypertension with Rosemary, my doctor went into testing mode and began to tell me the plan. It all hit me so fast. I even had laughed off the first reading and told the nurse to take my blood pressure again because I had just talked financials with the office before that. My doctor took it again later and it was still high. I honestly now can't really remember all I wrote on the last post while I was on bedrest. In my mind I feel like all the things that happened were over several months, when really it was only one.

I tried to keep as positive as I could while waiting. I had to wait to see if I had preeclampsia. Which only a day later I was in the hospital not feeling well. And although I was originally diagnosed with "mild preeclampsia" during my labor they were mostly calling it pregnancy hypertension. The last four weeks have just been so many unknowns right after one another. I laid in bed for two weeks almost. I would lay there not really doing anything and I could almost feel my blood pressure rising. And before I come across as too dramatic, I know my symptoms and case were mild in some ways. And I know there are many women who go through way more physically while pregnant or even postpartum. I read just this week on instagram about two moms diagnosed with cancer while pregnant. I am so thankful for my own health and the strength I have had. But there is also something scary about blood pressure and pregnancy and the scary side effects that can sometimes happen. My sister had full blown eclampsia before she was twenty. She had a case that was really poorly taken care of and her medical team did not only not catch it but she went to the point of being rushed to the ER, started having seizures, and her son was taken emergency C-section at 32 weeks. They are both okay today, but at the time my family and I really didn't know what the outcome would be. I know it is one of the hardest things my sister ever had to go through. So, while I was lying in bed looking at my own two daughters, I couldn't help but go down that road again in my mind. I would try to lay still and relax and pray I could carry my baby boy as long as physically possible without being in danger.

My mom coming really helped us get through those days of me lying in bed. Sure, the first day or two it was nice to know I didn't have any responsibility but to relax. But even getting up to make my own lunch sometimes made me feel bad, and I was still supposed to go through labor. Sometimes by the end of the day I just felt like I had the flu, and all I wanted to do was take a nice hot bath. I had been told though to only take a shower every couple of days, and to not get overheated. I guess nothing is really that fun if I am doing it because I'm sick.

My days on bedrest felt long and short all at the same time. Andrew would get up and spend the morning with the girls. He would do breakfast and playtime outside. I would sleep. He would make smoothies and sometimes I would wake up for one. Other times the girls might pop in and out of the room. One time Blanche came in and I remember feeling so warm and dizzy. I felt her cold little limbs in the covers next to me. I remember her saying she missed Cedar Park. I tried to talk groggily. I fell back asleep thinking and wondering if she really meant to say she missed me and going to the park like we did so much in Cedar Park. Or maybe it was just me, missing the old life I shared with the girls before being pregnant.

Andrew would leave and do a shorter mid shift at work. My mom would take over for the rest of morning and lunch. They played a lot in the backyard in the baby pool. Once my mom got her bearings a bit she took them to Chick-fil-a and would send me pictures of them playing. I went from a full time mom to not really having a hand in anything. I felt emotional at times. My mom tried to stay close to my schedule or how I would do things, but it was really just about me not getting to do it that I would feel sad about. I wondered if the girls missed me, and knew they probably did, but for my blood pressure's sake I tried to keep looking at how much fun they had with their Nana.

I kept going to the doctor. Twice a week. The sonographer worried about my fluid levels the first time. The second time I started crying because I felt so bad. They checked on baby. They did stress tests. I would be sure that I wouldn't make it another day and then I would see one of my doctors and feel so encouraged. There were three doctors that really encouraged me at OBGYN North. My clinic has a rotation of doctors and midwives. Which I know some might not like, but the doctors that are there are so genuine and good at what they do I don't mind the rotation. They would say my baby looked great. The baby was a healthy size. I was going to make it another week. We talked about baby names and one doctor desperately tried to remember the caption's name off of the movie Titanic. She was just sure it was a fabulous 1920s name that would go with the girls.

Everything suddenly came to an end two weeks ago on a Sunday night. August 30th. I was trying to read Blanche her new Strawberry Shortcake book. The book was making me feel dizzy. I felt like Blanche was right up in my face. She wasn't really. I just knew something wasn't quite right. We did the routine of checking my blood pressure. It was high. Too high above the range of comfort my doctor had given me for bedrest. So I began the routine of laying very still in the dark room. Trying to relax. Trying not to have anxiety and make it any higher. It stayed high. I called my doctor again. Yes, I better come in she said. Maybe it is just time. I felt like it was time. I had carried my baby to 36 weeks, but was really only feeling worse by the day. Plus I wanted to be strong enough for labor. Blanche was asleep and Rosemary was still awake after a late afternoon nap. We gathered our bags and left Nana with the girls. Rosemary was watching Elmo with Nana so she wouldn't cry as we left.

Andrew and I drove in our van across the river downtown and I watched us pass all the big buildings lit up in the night sky. I didn't know what would happen, but I felt a peace knowing things were eventually going to end. I was ready to see my baby and have the rest behind me.