Friday, July 31, 2009

You Ask and I Deliver

I know you've been anxiously awaiting the detailed story of Kate's birth. Why is it that so many women just love this stuff? Perhaps because it's the female equivalent of tales of going into battle. Well, suit up in your pink armor and grab your ruffled sword, cuz here we go!

(Or perhaps put on your gauntlet? Made of hospital bracelets?)

Not exactly the sort of bracelet most people mean for a "push present... Seriously, at some point it actually starts to impede movement!

Kate's Birth Story

Because of Kate's two vessel cord, my doc wanted to induce me a little early. As a pregnancy goes longer, there is the risk that the placenta begins to deteriorate and the baby's supply of nutrients suffers. With a two vessel cord, that's even riskier. She suggested we target an induction at 39 weeks.

So the day after I hit 39 weeks I had an induction appointment for 7am, but I got a call the day before asking to move me up to 6am. After a little coordinating with our babysitter for Claire and Scott, we rescheduled for 6am. So bright and early the next morning, our friend came over to our house to stay with the kids until they woke up after which she took them over to her house for the day.

Now I know that you're not supposed to eat right before your induction, but no one explicitly told me this. One of the forms I was given said that I should ask my doctor about this. Oops! guess I "forgot." "Ignorance" is bliss. I had a light breakfast before we headed to the hospital because I remember being SO hungry while in the hospital with Claire and Scott.

After giving them my info and getting into a gown, the first and arguably worst, order of business was my IV. I hate needles, but only because I have had SO MANY bad experiences. In the past I've tried to donate blood and it usually went something like this. Force fluids for 24 hours beforehand. Show up and have multiple nurses look quizzically at my arms trying to find a vein. Have the first attempt get painfully flubbed. Have the second attempt in my other arm be painful the whole time and end with me just STOPPING bleeding. Like I hit the time limit they allow and I've stopped filling the bag without having donated enough for them to use. Then I have to have M help me do everything for the next 24 hours because BOTH my arms are bruised and in pain. So M made me stop even trying to donate blood anymore. I just don't have good veins AT ALL. With both Claire and Scott my IV was in my hand and quite uncomfortable. With Claire it was in my right hand, and so a big pain when trying to do pretty much anything. And with Scott, it was in my left hand, but it hurt like crazy and made my whole hand cold when they sped up the flow to get more fluids in me so I could get my epidural. I hated that it held up my pain relief! I guess I only have obviously usable veins in my hands. This time there really was only one they could use in my right hand, and it was kinda tricky anyway because they said it was "crooked." And after telling my experiences, they tried very hard NOT to put it in my hand, which I appreciated. The first try was in my wrist just below my thumb on my right hand. It didn't work, but it sure hurt! After some wiggling that made me squirm and break out in a sweat, they gave up. Then the nurse called a different nurse. She tried in my inner forearm on my left arm and same thing. OUCH! I had bruises and tenderness from those failed IV attempts for longer than I had pain from delivery:

Yes, those are my arms. And, no, I am not a hairy man, I swear.

Finally they got a great IV just below the crook of my right arm. It didn't really hurt and it ended up not being uncomfortable to bend my arm like I feared. The only drawback was that anytime I bent my arm, the flow would stop and the machines would beep at me. But if not bending my arm was the price I had to pay to get that epidural sooner rather than later, then sign me up and call me the girl with the stick straight arm jutting out.

Once my IV was in place, they told me my doctor was going to come break my water. Enter M to fulfill his role as my advocate. His primary job this time around was to make sure I got my epidural, fast. In my last two labors, the common factor in what made me unable to easily handle my contractions was my water being broken. So M was under strict orders to NOT let them break my water unless I had an epidural. Fortunately, they had already been getting those IV fluids flowing because they knew I was going to want one, so all I had to do was keep making sure I didn't bend my arm! I conceded to let them break my water as long as the epidural was truly "on it's way." When my water was broken, I was still at about 2cm like I had been since my appointment 2 weeks before. My water was broken at 7:14am and that marked the official beginning of my induction. Pitocin was started either just before or just after my water was broken, I don't remember which.

A couple minutes later, the anesthesiologist showed up for my epidural. The epidural went very smoothly (WAY better than getting my IV!) and as I sat hunched over while he finished up my epidural, I was just beginning to feel guilty about getting an epidural before I had even felt a contraction when I felt one and right off the bat, it was pretty uncomfortable. So perfect timing. I felt a few uncomfortable contractions and then the epidural kicked in and I only felt a sort of tightening occasionally when the contractions came.

After laying down for a few minutes with my epidural, my blood pressure monitor started beeping at us. It was taking my blood pressure every 2 minutes as the epidural came into effect, and the numbers were too low. This might have been okay, except along with it Kate's heart rate was dropping when I had a contraction. They like to see “variability” in the heart rate in response to contractions, but they prefer the baby's heart rate to go up and not down. So something had to be done. First try was to have me tilt over to my left side for improved blood flow for Kate. That wasn't enough, so then I had to lay completely on my left side. In the meantime, the anesthesiologist was contacted about my blood pressure. When my blood pressure continued to be too low and continued to cause annoying chimes from the blood pressure machine, it was decided that they needed to give me drugs to raise my blood pressure. What does low mean, you might be asking? I was measuring numbers like 78/28. So you know, almost deadish. I always have low blood pressure (like it's not unheard of for me to measure at 88/56), but this was really something special. Two doses of ephedrine later, my blood pressure was finally reaching acceptable numbers (meaning the systolic was USUALLY over 90 and the diastolic was usually over 40).

Just then the anesthesiologist checked in on me, but since my blood pressure was okay again, he merely suggested that I lay on my right side for a change or my epidural would get lop-sided. So my nurse tried having me lay on my right side. No go. Apparently Kate's heart rate really just didn't like me on my right side. This fit with what I'd seen the whole pregnancy. I can't even count how many times throughout the pregnancy I remember different medical people commenting things like, “This baby just doesn't like you laying flat on your back.” Or, “Let's have you lay on your left side,” followed by, “Much better!”

Now that things had settled down a little, I told my nurse that I really had to pee. Things had been so crazy that she had forgotten to get a catheter in me. We took care of that and she said it was a good thing too because my bladder could have kept Niagra Falls going for quite some time. No wonder I could feel it through the epidural! The nurse suspected it had been impeding labor. Before that I had been checked and was dilated to a 4 or maybe 5. But things REALLY picked up after my bladder wasn't full!

Since I was stuck laying completely on my left side, my epidural did get VERY lop-sided. I could wiggle my toes on my right foot and almost felt like I could have walked on it. It only felt a little tingly to me. My left leg on the other hand was COMPLETE dead weight. I couldn't move it AT ALL. I don't know if it was related to my uneven epidural, but as the blood pressure situation was resolving itself and my bladder was finally empty, I started feeling those contractions more and more until finally they were genuinely hurting again. Because I was hurting again, the nurse checked me at I think it was somewhere around 9:15am-9:30am and said I was dilated to a 7 or maybe even 8. So the anesthesiologist was brought back in and re-dosed my epidural. The nurse told him that this was basically my “delivery dose.” The re-dosed epidural took awhile to help and those contractions were pretty intense. I was even having to use breathing exercises. Imagine that, labor being, like, hard or something!

Those breathing exercises were especially interesting to do when I ended up with an oxygen mask on. This has happened in all three of my deliveries because the babies have reached a point where their heartbeats weren't that fabulous and the nurses know the baby is headed through the most taxing part where they are actually pushed out. So, feeling like Darth Vader having a panic attack, I laid there.

Then the nurse told me to tell her if I got the urge to push. After only a couple minutes, I told her I was feeling “different,” like there was a lot of “pressure.” But it also kinda wasn't hurting as much and I wasn't sure if it was just the epidural redose taking effect or what. I was checked and I was ALMOST to a 10. The nurse told me again to tell her if I got the urge to push. Well, with the very next contraction, I had the urge to push. She checked me after that and it was no longer about dilation because she immediately said, “Oh yes, there's the baby's head, and there's her ear.” So then I had to resist the urge to push while my doctor showed up and they put down all the sterile drapes.

Up until they took the oxygen mask off and actually wanted me to push, I had easily felt every contraction and the accompanying urge to push. At first things were going okay, but after the first or second push, I couldn't really feel it anymore. I knew what I needed to do, but the urge was gone. Figures. The worst part was that it was hard for me to tell exaclty WHEN the contractions were so I wasn't sure WHEN to push. I had to have the nurses tell me and I could tell they were confused because before I hadn't needed that. I guess the epidural finally kicked in all the way! I was probably pushing for maybe 10-15 minutes total.

Toward the end, things kinda stalled and Kate's heartbeat wasn't looking so great and my doctor said that if I didn't get her out on the next push we'd have to use the vaccuum. That motivated me a little throw caution about not pushing with my upper body and such to the wind. The nurse thought that's what got Kate out, but I think it was that at the same time, they had me change position slightly to lay less propped up sitting and more laying on my back. The change of angle seemed like it got things unstuck and I could feel to push better.

Kate's head was delivered and they suctioned her mouth and then while her shoulders were being delivered, Kate cried a little. Before she was even all the way out, so cute! Although, I hope that isn't a portent of an impatient personality! The official time was 10:30am, so just over 3 hours from start to finish. I'll take it.

Then when things died down M went with her to get cleaned up while I was stuck waiting for my epidural to wear off. My right leg felt great, but that left leg, UGH. They needed the delivery room, so they kept checking if I felt like I could move. I kept telling them sorry but I don't have feeling back in my left leg even though my right leg felt fine. I think they didn't believe me despite my explanation about having to lie on my left leg the whole time. Then they would try to have me move my left leg and when I couldn't budge it AT ALL without help, THEN they believed me. It ended up taking FOREVER for me to get feeling back in that leg. They moved me to a postpartum room LONG before I had something more than dead weight attached to my hip.

So I ended up ordering lunch in the LDR room. How great is that? I didn't even have to miss a meal! In fact, had I wanted to, I could have ordered a 2nd BREAKFAST based on the time!

My poor nurse was SO busy dealing with my quick labor and low blood pressure that she hadn't had a chance to sneak out and use the restroom or eat her breakfast! It's so true. Though it wasn't exactly scary, we were kept on our toes. There was just no “down time” during my labor. I had brought along things to kill time, but a time with “nothing going on” never presented itself!

When I called my mom a little before 11am she was in the car on her way to a tennis game. After I said hello, she asked me to hold on a second. I could just tell because of that and the way she was talking that she thought I was just calling with an update. She came back on the phone and said, “So you're at the hospital.” She thought I was just letting her know how things were going during some down time. So when I told her, “We had Kate,” the surprise in her voice was priceless!

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Preferred It When They Only Cost Us a Few Tomatoes

My mom left town this morning. Today was the real start of me being a mother of three. You know, where I actually do it by myself during the day. *GULP*

While my mom was still here, she bought some steaks for us to grill this last Wednesday. These were Costco steaks. So, needless to say, we were pretty excited to eat them.

M got home from work and fired up the grill. We got the four huge steaks cooking and then we noticed something down inside the grill next to the burners.

Rat poison.

Last year we didn't actually get to eat any of the tomatoes from our garden because something was getting to them before us. And since I saw a rat along our back fence once when we first moved into this house, I'm betting the culprit was rats. Pleasant thought, no? I suppose it could be squirrels, but what's the difference really? Squirrels are practically rats with bushy tails.

After we lost two bell peppers in the garden this year, M decided to try some rat poison. M and Scott came back from Home Depot with it and the first thing Scott announced as he burst through the front door was, "Mom! We bought rat food!" That's right Scott, we bought those rats the only kind of food we want to share with them. M put out three little chunks and two chunks disappeared. I guess some little critter wanted to eat his poison lightly tossed with rancid grill fat. When it had its fill, it decided to leave its little "treat" inside the grill for safe keeping. That is, until (hopefully) it keeled over and never returned! Bwa ha ha!

Hmmmm... wonder where the third chunk of poison went? (Please let the rat have taken it home to its friends. Please let the rat have taken it home to its friends. And please don't let it turn up somewhere like inside our Brita pitcher. I have this nagging fear that in reality our neighborhood has super-intelligent evil rats that escaped from some science experiment gone awry and that are now trying to exact their revenge by poisoning people. "My name is Ratty McRat. You killed my father. Prepare to die.")

But the steaks. Ah! I weep for those steaks. Considering the warning labels on that rat bait (Can you say cerebral edema?), there was no choice but to throw those neurotoxin smoked beauties away and scramble for something else to eat. I WANT to be ready to laugh about this. Not sure I'm there. I think I'll go caress our steak knives and sigh wistfully some more.


UNRELATED UPDATE: I snagged Kate's umbilical stump yesterday with my hand while doing a diaper change and that sucker just popped right off. Phew! Not too bad. In the end it took 23 days to fall off (or get accidentally pulled off - po-tay-to, po-tah-to). I knew complaining to the wwworld would do the trick. There was a tiny bit of bleeding, but nothing that wasn't a "variation of normal."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It IS Gross

Kate's umbilical cord stump still hasn't fallen off.

In the wise words of Scott, "What's that brown thing? I don't like that brown thing. That's gross."

Too true, Scott, too true... I don't like that brown thing either. Nor do I like swabbing it with alcohol at every diaper change to adhere to the whim of whatever the doctors are advising in that regard THIS week. And, for the record, I don't like sponge baths either. I can't wait until I can just dunk her.

Kate turned three weeks old yesterday. That pesky umbilical cord of hers, trying to keep up it's problem causing status for as long as possible. I am a true mother because I am blaming myself and trying to figure out what I have done wrong. Did I over swab? Did I accidentally get it wet with my sub-par sponge bath skills? Did I forget to do the ritualistic stump dance? Nevermind the fact that all three of my kids haven't lost their umbilical stump until they were over two weeks old. It couldn't possibly be just "the way my babies roll." No, no. Perhaps I will just tell myself that the doctors are making it up when they say it usually takes 10-14 days to fall off, right? RIGHT???

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Few of You Pulled A-HEAD

Thanks guys! Your answers gave me a good laugh. Then again, I'm so sleep deprived, I'd probably laugh at ANYTHING, so you might want to take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Mad props to Leann for my favorite: It's like an orange on a toothpick! (Because any quote from that movie will always win with me.)

But Spencer gets the prize for best runner up. His comment was on Facebook: Mom, do you know the name of a good shrink? or maybe a head hunter?

And now, Scott's actual quote:

I'm wearing my daddy's hat!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ding Dong

In a fit of sleep deprivation, I tried to leave Kate on Ralphie's doorstep, but she interpreted it as a photo op.

Totally kidding, totally kidding. I wouldn't trade Kate for the world, of course. Even if I do have to wait patiently through the newborn phase (not really my forte) before I get to the "I can actually talk to you" phase. But cute pictures, no?

I better be careful what I say or Ralphie, lover of the little baby stage, might take me up on the "offer"...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Say What?

I'm inviting you to write your own caption for this photo. In a few days or so I will reveal the actual Scott quote that accompanied this moment. But with the potential I see in this photo, I have faith that your imagination is even funnier than reality!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

And The Winner Is...


Winner of what you'd probably like to know. Good Question. It turns out that unbeknown to the rest of the world a quiet stand off has been taking place between G and I for some time now. Think on the level of U.S. and Iran but not quite to the North Korea/South Korea level.

The crux of the issue lies here:

This is the diaper bag we used with Claire. It has a few pros: made of nylon instead of pleather, more than one pocket, not fluorescent, etc. It has some cons: looks "sporty" (not good in our case), made of nylon instead of something nicer, is a diaper bag, etc.

I considered this bag Totally Adequate (TM). This bag was so much better than the contractor style garbage bag we would have carried around if I had been in charge of this sort of thing I was content indefinitely. Then, when G was pregnant with Scott, insanity gripped her brain and she decided she needed a "better" diaper bag so we acquired a new diaper bag (below) with a different set of pros: not made of fake fur, not obviously a diaper bag, large.

It also has its cons: a little floppy, is a purse, not as many pockets as I'd like.

We kept meaning to pack multiple bags so I didn't have to look like a transvestite but there were inevitably "special" things that couldn't easily be replicated (original birth certificate, camera, noise canceling headphones, etc). They had to go back and forth anytime we went anywhere and we were lazy and usually running late so that never happened. Also, at the time, no one knew where our old diaper bag or our pile of ~37 free diaper bags had gone. So we stayed at an impasse through Scott's early childhood that mostly involved me trying to play dumb to the fact that ~90% of the time, my wife was carrying the bag with the poop wads wrapped in whatever plastic bag was available when the kid needed a diaper change.

Finally I put my foot down and declared to G that I really would like to not have to carry around a purse while caring for our child. Also, it sure would make it easier for me to take Kate somewhere if I had a less intimidating care package to take along with us (nudge nudge, wink wink).

That has finally resulted in this

[angelic choirs]

[/angelic choirs]

Come on, you gotta admit that's one awesome diaper bag.

On the run from the car seat installation zealots? Just find a bush, cradle the kid in your lap and pull this bad boy over your head.

Got a diaper loaded with standard issue #2 baby excrement and no trash can? Switch over to the (not quite) custom made diaper duck pocket and seal that puppy up with all the hermetical-ness a flimsy plastic bag can provide.

Yes, thanks to my incessant whining and a good father's day we have finally reached disarmament in our now larger family

Thanks G.


Kate arrived on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 10:30am. She weighed 7 lbs 15.9 oz, which I have been rounding to an even 8 lbs in conversation, because really, who measures to the tenth of an ounce? That makes her my heaviest baby so far, despite being born a week and a half earlier. (Claire was 7 lbs 12 oz and Scott was 7 lbs 13 oz.) On the other hand, I can still claim that all my kids were under 8 lbs! Kate was 20.5 inches long, which is about the same as the other two kids were.

So yes, despite my shameful lack in posting about it (it's almost like I've been busy or something...), Kate was in fact born. Rather promptly in fact. My induction officially started when they broke my water at 7:14 am. I promise the detailed version of the story later for those who want it. For now, just let it be known that she is here, things went smoothly, and we are holed up in the A/C recovering nicely.

And since she is a newborn and will look like a totally different person in a month or so anyway, I shall allow some photos in these early weeks:

Here she is a couple hours old.

Here she is ready to go home from the hospital.