Thursday, March 27, 2014

Life Update with My 5 Week Old (!!!)

I don't know how people go back to work at 6 weeks. I seriously bow down to any of you who have done it. Granted, we have some extenuating circumstances but still... I feel like I'm just starting to get it together and it's week 5. Oh, speaking of extenuating circumstances... Felicity's lip and tongue ties BOTH need to be redone so we are headed to Charlotte next week for a 7:10am appt to have them lasered. And she has thrush. And reflux. So yeah, it's been a rough... life?... for her over here and in turn a rough time for mommy and daddy as we take care of her and try to manage all the doctor appointments that come with her issues. The good news is that hopefullyhopefullyhopefully her nursing will improve (from the current state of nothingness) after we re-take care of the ties and now that the thrush is being treated. And the other good news is that even with the newest health developments for her, the last week and a half has seriously been a million times better than the first 2.5 weeks when I was honestly thinking "why did we want a baby????" and then hating myself for thinking it. She is finally sleeping some, crying much less, and just generally is a more pleasant baby. The big change? Donor breast milk. Apparently formula doesn't sit well with her, even the kind for gassy/colicky babies. So thank God for the women (7 of them!) who have stepped forward to help me feed my baby because she is a different person!!! I am actually enjoying being her mother which is incredibly refreshing. It is so, so nice to enjoy having her around :). So back to the 6 week thing. I would cry my eyes out if I had to go back to work next week when we are just starting to get a handle on life. So for those of you who do it, you are beyond awesome!

How is life as a stay at home mom? Well, ironically I'm not sure that I feel like one yet. I don't know that it's hit me that I'm not going back to work. In a way, work feels like something I did in an alternate universe or previous life. It just sort of feels like I've always been home with her. In another way, I think it will still take some more time to hit me that this is my job. I also haven't even begun to take on my new tasks. Steven is still helping me with pretty much everything. Bless him for working 11-12 hour days, coming home and basically taking over diapering and feeding, and still helping with laundry, cleaning, and meal prep. Seriously, he has been so amazing. Luckily this week I've started doing some of those things myself. It's slow going and the house is still in a constant state of turmoil, but it's slowly getting better and I'm very, very slowly learning how to manage Felicity, pumping, various doctor appointments, getting some rest, and taking care of the homestead. Did I mention slowly? The nicest part is that I'm finally enjoying my baby, and the house can wait, for the most part.

It's interesting to me that I haven't really thought about myself as a stay at home mom since I've become one. The impetus for the post was when a friend asked me the other day, if the decision feels right now that I'm home and she's here. I hadn't stopped to think about it until then but, yes, it absolutely does. Especially with all that's going on with Felicity, I don't know where else I'd be. For me personally it feels like I am exactly where I need to be at this time in my life. Might that change later due to desire or circumstance? Sure. But for now, and for long term as much as I can predict (haha!), taking care of my family and my home full time feels right. Honestly, I think doing this full time is helping me take care of me as well. Again, I don't know how working moms do it because, as much I as leave myself out of the mix right now, I highly doubt I'd take care of me at all if I was having to juggle a job with life currently. And, sure, that would probably change as we get even more used to being parents and caring for Felicity becomes more routine, but that's where I'm at right now. Right now my day looks like feeding, pumping, tidying, resting, rinse and repeat. And that may sound awful to some people but it's comforting to me. I have something tangible to measure my days by and I can easily see my improvement and my settling into my new role by how much I get done, how I handle unexpected events, and how much joy I'm able to get out of doing these things. And by the fun I'm able to have... 2 dates with friends just this week! It's wonderful to get out and feel human again. But right now home is very, very nice, especially after weeks of almost daily doctor appointments. Right now, home is my job and very much feels like a full time job. Home is where I belong.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Felicity at One Month (and 4 days...)

I bought a baby book shortly after Felicity was born, but the way the months are listed, it doesn't actually cover weeks 1-4 or "0 months". So since that book will be updated with 1 month covering weeks 4-8, I thought I'd do just the opposite here- call this 1 month, since she turned a month old last Thursday, and update on the weeks leading up until now. Confused? Yeah, me too :). But I figured that way I'll capture two different time periods and, between the book and blog, will have plenty of details to look back on!

{Felicity Marian: One Month Old}

Weight: 7 lbs 0.5 oz (finally gaining well!!!)

Height: 20 inches

Medical Issues: Oh dear Lord! Still not nursing because both ties reattached (getting them lasered next week) and she has thrush, some reflux, clavicle...weirdness (?) that the doctor will be following, hemangioma rapidly growing (treating with a topical medication)

Sleep: We had 2 glorious nights of her sleeping off and on from about 9pm to 9am, after a long stretch of sleeping 5am- all day and then 12:30am to 11:30 am. Now she's doing a 2:30- early afternoon thing. We're trying to get her back to 9pm! 

Clothes/Diaper Size: Newborn clothes (still some room to go although she's filling out the length), newborn disposable diapers, newborn cloth covers and preemie prefolds

Likes: Milk, a good butt pat, being bounced on the exercise/birth ball, Putamayo's World Playground CD, her paci, being worn, car rides, and stroller rides

Dislikes: waiting for milk, losing her paci, having clothes put on and off over her head, being put in the car seat, waking up hungry

Nicknames: I'm ashamed to admit that many of the nicknames I use for the cat have been transferred to the baby. I use pet names all the time, and really need to work on using her given name! She does have one nickname that we use a lot that she doesn't share with the cat: Mush (rhymes with push). Steven and I both call her that and I think it's because, as tiny as she is, her face is sooo mushy and chunky when she's in a carseat. And she's just a pile of mush when she's sleepy.

Milestones: This doesn't really count I don't think, but she rolled from tummy to back during tummy time about a week ago. She has a very strong neck and holds it up all the time!

I don't want to forget this!: We went to my post partum check up and the whole office was so excited to see her! It's a very small office (I think I've talked about it before) so we got to know the staff very well over the last 2 years of me going there. They were excited to see our "miracle baby" :) and all ran up to the check in desk to see her when we arrived. Here's us with our awesome napro ob!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Birth Plan in Review

I'm mostly doing this for me for future births, but who knows- someone might find my birth plan helpful in determining what they do or don't want. I was thinking about the few things that I ended up abandoning from my birth plan but how, for the most part, my birth plan worked really well and I want to keep it for next time, but I also want to remember the things that didn't happen or that changed. So here is my annotated birth plan with the colored commentary being my follow up.

Birth Plan/Preferences for Induction
Mother: Stacy XXXX Father: Steven XXXX            Doula: Brittany XXXX

This birth plan is intended to express  the preference and desires we have for the  birth of our baby. It is not intended to be  a script. We fully realize that situations may arise such that our plan cannot and should  not be followed. However, we hope that  barring any extenuating circumstances, you  will be able to keep us informed and aware of  our options, and that informed consent will be obtained from myself or my husband for any procedure relating to mother or baby. Thank you. I totally copied this section word from word from an online example because I couldn't improve upon it!

First stage (labor):
I would like the ability to labor outside of the bed. They were amazing about this and I would definitely, definitely request this next time. Sitting in bed felt pretty awful. My two favorite positions were sitting on the birth ball and being on my hands and knees in bed. Even with continuous monitoring, the nurses were amazing about not confining me to bed.
Do not offer pain medications. I will request them if desired. The doctor went over them with me about a million times before induction day, but the nurses never mentioned nor offered them. I did end up requesting them but luckily did not get them. I had a 'code word' to use with Steven and will plan on doing that again next time.
Brittany is certified in the TENS unit and I may use this during labor. If we use a doula next time (which I think we will!), I would probably leave this in there although I don't really know how much the TENS unit really helped. But I'd like to at least have the option. My doctor didn't know what this was but was open to us using it once I gave him information.
As long as the baby and I are both doing well, I would prefer not being held to a strict timetable for laboring. This didn't really apply to my labor lol... TOO FAST! But I'd leave it for next time because I strongly believe that, if everything is going ok, I want to give my body and the baby plenty of time. My doctor reminded me that the curve they judge you by is for the bottom 5% of births, so he sticks to it pretty closely, so I'm not sure how much he would have honored this but I think I would have had wiggle room if I pushed it.

Second stage (birth):
If baby has issues with heart rate that are not an emergency while pushing, I would like to try different positions that might be helpful. Non issue this time and not sure if I need to leave it because my doctor said this is very standard.
I would prefer a prolonged length of pushing if everything is ok with the baby and progress is being made, even if it is slow progress. This kind of goes with the timetable one... I'd leave it, though, and let Steven know that he needs to advocate for more time if me and the baby are ok.
I would prefer to use people for leg support. My doctor said that was fine but that I could be pushing for hours so people might get tired and I might need to use the stirrups which I was open to. Turns out I did NOT want people holding my legs and requested (in a breathless, pushy manner) to put my legs in the stirrups. The stirrups (which are totally unlike the stirrups in the office, thankfully) were much more comfortable and stable feeling, and I preferred not having my legs move up and down like they would if people were holding them. So yeah, I'll take this out and rock the stirrups from the beginning next time. Also, I had no clue that there would be handles to hold on to while pushing but those were AWESOME.
I would prefer to tear rather than have an episiotomy unless I will tear towards the urethra. And tear I did! Everything I read suggested that episiotomies are kind of controversial now because you may tear worse with one than without and generally heal better without one. I would definitely leave this for next time even though I have nothing to compare it to.
I would like Steven to announce the sex of the baby. This was so fun! I've seen on birth shows where the doctor announces but I wanted hubby/daddy to do it! I actually had to ask him... I waited until she was out about 3 seconds and then was like "what is it!!?!?!?". :)

I'd add back in the thing about pushing for 6 seconds. I had it in there (the newest information suggests that 10 seconds is too long and can have negative effects on mom and baby), but my doctor said that most moms don't actually push well enough to get a whole 10 seconds out, making it closer to 6, so I took it out. Then he remembered it and had me just push for 6 seconds. Pushing was no big deal for me and I don't know if this was part of why, but I'd probably add it back in there next time just in case.

Baby Care:
If our baby is a boy, we will not have him circumcised. Moot this time, but we feel strongly about this so we'd leave it.
We would prefer a delay in cord cutting, even if only by a minute or two. I was kind of wishy washy about this because I'd read conflicting information. It ended up not happening since Felicity wasn't looking good and she needed to be checked right away. I think I would actually probably take this one out for next time because it just doesn't matter to me that much (unless some kind of convincing info comes out before then).
Delayed testing/weighing/vitamin K shot or done while on mother’s chest. This is funny... so of course they had to take her immediately since she was non responsive, but once they gave her to me, they did not push at all to do anything. About 15 minutes in, I asked "did you weigh her?" and the nurse was like "uhhhhh... no... your birth plan says to wait" and for some reason I just HAD to know how much she weighed so I handed her back for a weight. So weird! I still don't know what I was thinking, but it makes me laugh. Anyway, I'd leave this in because I do really think that initial bonding time is important, and of course I can change my mind again if I want. I loved that the staff was so cool about this.
We do not want erythromycin applied to our baby’s eyes and are happy to sign a waiver. They never made me sign a waiver, and never even questioned it. It can affect breastfeeding (haha, clearly moot), but we also just find it completely unncessary so I would leave this in.
Breast feeding only; I have markers of insufficient glandular tissue and would like to see a lactation consultant soon after birth. I'd leave it, although I'll go in armed with a little more knowledge next time. I had researched a TON this time, but now I'm armed with actual personal experience.
No separation of the baby and me; if necessary Steven will go with baby and remain until baby can come back to me. They were great about this. They had the pediatrician come in the room (normally they examine in the nursery), bathed her in the room (also usually in the nursery) and when she had to go there for the pulse ox test and a few other things, they let us come at our leisure and we stayed with her the whole time. It was so nice not being separated from her, and I would absolutely leave this in.
I would like to be skin to skin with the baby as much as possible immediately following birth. This is another one that didn't turn out like I thought. My doula unbuttoned the gown so she could go skin to skin, and somehow when I took her, I ended up putting he ron TOP of the gown lol. So I'd leave this but try to actually get the baby on my skin next time! (I fixed it a little later, but pretty sure she hung out on my gown the first 30 minutes to an hour!) This was somewhat impractical to continue during our hospital stay with visitors but, knowing the extent of our breastfeeding issues, I'll push it harder next time and just not care if I'm half nakey.
No hepatitis B shot in the hospital. They didn't question us, we didn't see a need for it after researching, and I'd leave it this way for the next baby.

Free hand to touch the baby after birth; baby placed upon chest for a few minutes if possible.
Breastfeeding initiated as soon as possible in recovery room.
Consent for any intravenous medications used after csection.
Steven will stay with the baby after birth and initiate skin-to-skin until I can be with the baby.
Double layer repair of the uterine incision to help with future pregnancies/deliveries.
I'd leave all of this. Obviously, thankfully, I didn't see how that would play out to revise, but I still like those goals so I'd keep them the same in case I needed a csection next time around.

Friday, March 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes- Post Baby Edition

I haven't done a 7 Quick Takes in forever! I guess that's what happens when you're busy gestating and birthing a human ;). Felicity is currently napping in the swing, giving me a few precious moments to myself! I took her to visit my old workplace yesterday and someone asked me what was surprising or what did I not expect about pregnancy and parenthood. I'm awful at those types of questions on the spot (and after a sleepless night, I couldn't do simple math let alone be introspective) but here are 7 things I did not expect and surprised me!
I didn't imagine the sleepless nights to be so hard and so infuriating. I do really well on a little bit of sleep and I do well being woken up, so I thought I was just made for this. Imagine my surprise when I feel like I'm about to fall apart at the seams each night that she is up off and on the entire night. I didn't know I could be this exhausted or be so annoyed with the little human who loses her paci every 2.4 seconds. I didn't know I could miss my bed, solid hours of sleep, and cuddling my husband SO MUCH.

On the flip side, I've never known a love so powerful that one second I can kind of wish she's not here, and then she looks into my eyes, or does an epic man fart, or shows her one dimple and I fall more in love with her in that second than I can ever explain. It feels very bipolar to be so frustrated and then swoon so hard. Steven and I have said quite a few times to each other, "God knew what he was doing when he made babies", because the sweetness is so overwhelming that 30 seconds in the morning can wipe out 8 hours at night. It's crazy.

I'm surprised that I never got big big, didn't really get stretch marks, and went almost back to my normal size immediately. Being a fluffy person, I really thought I'd be doomed, but it has been a really pleasant surprise. I'm still 10 lbs away from my pre pregnancy weight, yet I'm fitting into my pre pregnancy clothes, which excites me for when I do reach my pre pregnancy weight! I know she was small and a bit early and that could play into it, but I seriously imagined feeling like I was wrecked (long term... I did feel that way short term lol!) by being pregnant. Speaking of, I thought I'd hurt longer and recovery would be harder!

I didn't expect to have a high maintenance baby. This was probably me being naive since my pregnancy was high maintenance, but for some reason I just expected a low maintenance child. But between her having days and nights sorely mixed up, being really gassy, and having feeding issues, she is most certainly high maintenance. In fact, after a few hour visit with her, my brother went out and got her an outfit that said as much :P.

I'm shocked that I had a baby who will be in newborn clothes for a long time! My little peanut is so teeny and petite! My family grows large babies... like 9 and 10 lbs. Even though I knew that both my blood pressure and my blood pressure medicine could effect her size, and she was 2 weeks early, I guess I still didn't expect her to be so little (6 lb 6 oz at 3 weeks). So we had very few newborn size outfits, but it will be a while until she's in 0-3mo! Luckily friends and family loaded us up on some cute clothes, and I even had a friend bring us a couple preemie outfits after seeing some of the newborn clothes swimming on her. I love that she's little (as long as she's healthy, of course), but it really took me by surprise!

I did not expect the paci to be my enemy. We had plans to not give Felicity a paci, or at least until breastfeeding was established. That was until she freaked out in the hospital when we were working with the LC and she suggested offering a paci to calm her so we could keep working on breastfeeding. And then when she wanted to suck but wouldn't nurse and couldn't eat bottle after bottle, we bought the paci that the ENT recommended (a soothie). We did take it away for a few days at the recommendation of the IBCLC but she said not to let it become a power struggle. After the 4th hour of crying one night, we decided that's what it was and gave it back. And she stopped crying immediately. So now the paci is her bff much to my dismay. BUT the worst part is that she CANNOT keep the paci in her mouth. I spend hours at night reaching over to put the paci back in every 3-10 seconds. It makes me want to claw my eyes out. I'm seriously considering dealing with a couple of really horrible days in order to break her of the paci again but I feel like I can't do that until she is nursing more so she has a replacement... so the enemy paci lives on.

It didn't hit me until this week that we helped to bring a new soul into the world destined for heaven. Um, that's kind of heavy, I know. But seriously... what could be more awesome? Steven and I made a person (that alone blows my mind!) and she has a soul that will exist forever and ever! CRAZY COOL!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Our Breastfeeding Journey...So Far

Felicity is 3 weeks old (!!!) and yet I feel like we've been on this rocky breastfeeding journey for WAY longer than that. In a way, I have been. When I was pregnant, I suspected insufficient glandular tissue and knew that, between that and PCOS, it was a very strong possibility that I wouldn't make a full supply. I also knew that the likelihood of our baby having a tongue tie was very high since Steven has one and there is a genetic component. So I probably shouldn't be surprised that she had a tongue tie, lip tie, and I don't have a full supply of milk, but in a way I am because of how it all came about. Or, I guess I'm not so much surprised about that, but surprised that actually nursing her has been such a battle. I started typing up what was going on each day because it all felt like one long day and I was losing details when I'd try to explain it to professionals. So here is the general timeline of our breastfeeding journey thus far:

Days 1 and 2- breastfeeding on demand, seemed to latch fine, did suspect tongue tie from tongue positioning when she cried 

Day 3- weighed feed showed no transfer and rust colored diapers showed dehydration, spent hours with hospital IBCLC, got formula samples, tried to pump, got syringe, SNS, bottles, nipples, instructions from hospital ped to feed 20-25 ml every 2-2.5 hours; aimed to mainly use SNS but she would get so frustrated that we were using the bottles at least half the time, WENT HOME! 

Day 4- Hospital IBCLC called to check on us, went back for weight check, up an ounce, pumped and got small amount (a few ml), practiced more with SNS, pumping every 2-3 hours

Day 5- visit with regular ped, up another ounce, she said we could go go 4-5 hrs at night, 2.5 during day, feed amount on demand, taking about 30 ml, attempting SNS but more often than not using bottles, producing half supply, other half formula

Day 6- if won't use SNS, do finger feed, had tongue and lip tie clipped, won't latch at all, scheduled with ibclc who specializes in suck training/refusal

Day 7- got special needs feeder and used at all feeds, producing 2/3 supply, called hospital ibclc to update per her request

Day 8- met with ibclc, possibly never needed to supplement, said to do skin to skin, rebirthing, put to breast often, sns/medela, give til 3 weeks age for things to start being smooth, writing up care plan 

Day 9 and 10- blur, used mostly SNF, family visiting 

Day 11- worst day yet, won't latch/nurse, screams at the breast, won't take SNS, down half an ounce at weight check son increase feed amount and feed every 2-2.5 hours during day and 3 at night 

Day 12-much better, latched once for SNS, once just to nurse, did rebirthing, ibclc suggests formula with breastmilk bonus until weight is figured out

Day 13- latched middle of night laying in bed, am after feed, at weight check up 2oz

Day 14- latched twice (15 min and 45) after CST chiro appt 

Day 15- latched after every other feeding, started eating 5ml more 

Day 16 and 17- a blur... lost forever

Day 18 and 19- pumping very little, latching a bit less, secured donor milk

Day 20- pumped enough for Felicity to eat without supplementation twice in a row, latched once for SNS but refused the rest 

Day 21- did breast crawl and latched/nursed for 45 minutes, using my pumped milk and donor milk at all feeds

This has been, by far, the most emotional aspect of parenthood for me. To have your baby reject the breast is a really hard experience that I'd never wish on anyone. Each day I commit to that day only, and I often think "how long should I do this? How do I know when enough is enough?". At the very least, I'd still pump and feed her that and donor milk, but I'm not ready to give up on having some type of nursing relationship with her yet, so I guess that's how I know it's not enough yet. Steven has been very supportive, and I know this has been just as frustrating for him. In a way, it might be more frustrating because it has put a lot of work on him as I need a lot of help feeding her since I'm pumping around the clock. I let him know that I will be the person to call it quits, if I do, and I need him to fully support whatever I feel is right but to never suggest that I quit trying. As of now, I'm committing to today and I'm hopeful that Felicity will continue to nurse at least once a day and maybe more. And I will take that as a win, because I can sit and stress about me not producing enough, about her not wanting to nurse, about the breastfeeding relationship I always wanted and will probably never have, or I can look at what I do have an be thankful for every drop of breast milk she gets and every minute she nurses and stares at me with those beautiful eyes. And I choose that- to be thankful. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What's In a Name: Felicity Marian

If I had it a little more together, this would have posted yesterday on Saint Felicity's feast day. If I had it more together, I would have done more to celebrate than just repost the Happy Saint's picture on facebook since St. Felicity is special to both myself and our daughter. But, hey, I've got a newborn so this is all I've got in me :). 

I knew my first daughter would be named Felicity before Steven and I were even married. My history with her name goes wayyyy back (unlike our boy name which we picked out early on in the pregnancy). My confirmation saint's name is Felicity. I've probably written before about how I chose it because I liked the name and, more so, because I liked the late 1990's/early 2000's tv show. Yeah, you know, Felicity and Noel and Ben? Yep. I swore up and down at the time that I didn't pick it because of that show but we all know I did. 

Ironic though, when I realized years later that part of her patronage is that she is the patron saint of barren women. Ironic because I was given the diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome, ironic because my body decided to be at a stand still hormonally speaking for months and even years, and ironic because when we got married we knew we would have challenges trying to conceive. So I may have picked Felicity for the tv show, but I'm pretty sure she picked me knowing she could help intercede on my behalf in the future. Once I realized the irony of having picked her, I suddenly began to feel really close to her. And it was around that time, shortly after Steven and I got together, that I decided my first hypothetical daughter had to be named Felicity. I knew I would want to do that whether it was a biological or adopted child.... however God helped me to grow my family, I wanted to honor His saint in that baby's name.

All through pregnancy, we really thought we were having a boy. Technically, neither one of us had a gut feeling but since EVERYone else was convinced it was a boy, we just tended to think of the baby in that way. I kept telling Steven that it didn't really matter to me whether or not the baby was a boy or girl, as long as I get my girl, my Felicity, some day. You can probably imagine my surprise and my joy when he announced that our baby was a girl, and I knew I had her. My Felicity.

The middle name came to us pretty early on in pregnancy. We prayed a particularly beautiful prayer to Mary (which I can't find anywhere now!!!) the cycle that we conceived. That cycle was really special to us in more ways than just getting pregnant. I was supposed to do 4 cycles of Clomid and then have surgery to check for endometriosis because, statistically speaking, if you don't get pregnant after 4 cycles (with other factors accounted for), you are unlikely to get pregnant without further intervention. But since we had a vacation to Alaska last June, I knew there was no way I could turn around and take time off of work and still get my job done. So I asked the doctor for just one more cycle of Clomid, promising to immediately do surgery if it didn't work, and he thankfully agreed. We found the prayer to Mary and prayed it that cycle, and we were pregnant on our 5th, unlikely to conceive, cycle. So fairly early on we knew that, if we had a daughter, we would like to honor Mary with some version of her name as our daughter's Middle name. We didn't want two names ending in "y", and neither of us loved Marie or Maria, so we went with Marian. 

Our beautiful Felicity Marian! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Open Letter to Women Who Have Left the Church

An open letter to women who have left the Catholic Church:
We want to invite you to come talk with us, and we are excited to meet you! Just like you, we are daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers; students, professionals, and stay-at-home moms. We are teenagers, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, and beyond. We are from many walks of life and from diverse backgrounds, but we share a common faith - one we want to invite you to revisit.
Some of us have been away from the Church, and by one way or another we've come back. Some of us never left - but that doesn't mean we’ve never questioned nor been confused. Some of us were raised outside of the Church, and made the decision to join as adults. In one way or another, each one of us has come to know and love Christ in the Catholic Church - and in keeping with Pope Francis’ request we want to share that love and joy with you.

Being Catholic isn’t easy, and we’ll be the first to tell you that we aren’t perfect; we have many planks in our own eyes to worry about. Our faith embraces paradoxes, challenges our culture's values, and makes us feel uncomfortable when we are called to examine our actions and our motivations. But - as you already know - just because something is challenging does not mean it is not worthwhile.

We know that you are intelligent and capable. We believe that you deserve answers to your questions, and explanations for the teachings with which you're struggling. We’ve all struggled with various aspects of our faith, but we aren’t here to judge or condemn you. We simply want to listen to what you’re feeling. We want to understand what is making you uncertain about being part of our Catholic faith. We want to help you find the answers and explanations that helped bring us home. We want to meet you, we want to hear about your experience, and most importantly, we want to invite you back.

Feel free to email any of us with questions or concerns you may have about the Church, her teachings, or what reversion means. If you’re not ready to bare your soul to complete strangers, we’d love to direct you to sites that helped us (and still help us) as we discerned our calling in life.
Wherever you are, whatever you believe, know that we are praying for you. You are our sister - another woman navigating a challenging world. We look forward to talking with you!
In The Peace and Love of Christ,

The members of #cathsorority

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Felicity Marian: A Birth Story Part II

So there we were Thursday morning and the pitocin had just been started somewhere around 8 or 8:30 am. The two nurses on shift would come in and check on us, and kept talking about how the baby would be here by noon, and later by 2pm. I got so mad when she said that because I knew it would be MUCH longer, and didn't want unrealistic ideas in my head of this taking less time than it actually would. My doula was on her way (she's an hour away), realized she didn't have her wallet, and went back to look for it. I had a few contractions here and there that I would just breathe through, and I kind of thought I was awesome. Until about 10am when they came every 2-2.5 minutes. I wanted out of bed, so the day nurse, Kelly, came and got me on the exercise ball. She was beyond amazing because she would come in every time the baby fell off the monitor, which was almost constantly, and readjust the monitor straps. She spent about 30 minutes jerry-rigging extra straps to keep the monitor in place. Apparently the doctor has an app on his phone that he can watch the monitor with from his office, so she said she had to come in often enough to fix it to avoid a questioning phone call from him, ha! The contractions were quickly bad enough that I would close my eyes and deep breathe/breathe out through them. Steven was behind me and would either rub my back or not touch me depending on what I directed him to do. Later he remarked both stunned and happy how I didn't cuss at him or call him names ;). So the doula walked in a little after 10am when I was mid contraction and the nurse was yet again trying to fix the monitor. She could tell I was in a contraction and was immediately at my side, helping me through it. Her presence is so calming and gentle, which is a huge reason of why I was drawn to her when we interviewed her, and was very helpful in that moment when I was, frankly, getting a little scared about how long this would all take and how I would handle it. For the next few contractions my doula watched me, helped Steven to help me, and opened up her bag of tricks.

She put lavender oil on my temples, got me on the TENS unit, brought out a rebozo wrap, and a massager. She would use the massager on my legs to help distract me and put the focus elsewhere during contractions. It really helped! I'm not sure how much the TENS unit helped, and at one point it annoyed me so I had Steven take it off, but I guess that means it was at least a distraction ;). I tried a few positions like in the rocking chair but that was great when I wasn't contracting and awful when I was, so it wasn't worth it. I did some standing and swaying and leaning over the raised up bed. Brittany was great about reminding me when to switch positions to help the baby continue to move down. Steven was wonderful about anticipating when I needed my lower back rubbed, as it really offset some of the pain I was having.

I started having really intense pressure in my pubic bone so she tried using the rebozo wrap to help the baby get underneath the bone. But any position I needed to be in to use the wrap was really uncomfortable for me, so we abandoned it after a while. She asked the nurse for any suggestions as to what would help (later explaining that she wants everyone to feel like a team, not like she is directing the birth without the nurses... smart lady) and Kelly suggested getting on my hands knees with the head of the bed raised up a bit. So I did that, with no shame as to the gaping back of my hospital gown. Brittany kept trying to cover my butt and I couldn't have cared less! The hands and knees was the single best position of my entire labor. It took the pressure off my pubic bone and I had Steven rubbing one hip and my doula rubbing the other. Oh wait, what was that 3rd set of hands? That was Kelly, the day nurse, who stayed in there for almost an hour straight holding the monitor against my stomach so that I could remain in that position. Brittany was blown away by how much the nurses interacted with me and stayed in there to help, with another nurse who wasn't assigned to me even coming in to do some imagery with me to help me through labor. I have said it a million times and will say again here, that the little country hospital I was so skeptical of completely amazed me and I will never birth anywhere else if I don't have to. It was small, intimate, and the staff was all around amazing. So back to my hands and knees. Eventually I got noodle armed. I wanted to stay in that position SO badly because I literally had moments of feeling completely painless, but I just couldn't hold myself up anymore. I think after that I tried some sitting in bed, with my legs 'froggied' out.

I eventually got up and was leaning on the side of the bed again. I was hot, nauseous, and thirsty. The nurses checked me at 11:30 am and I was 5 cm. So progress, but slow progress. The doctor came and said he'd break my water; I asked for him to wait and he said that was fine. I just didn't see much of a reason for him to do it and I didn't want to be on a 'clock'.  I asked the nurse what was typical as far as dilation goes and she had said a centimeter an hour. So I figured I had about 5 hours ahead of me (hey, maybe last night's nurse was right about baby being here by the time her 7pm shift would start!). A little before 12:30, I had eaten all my crushed ice and needed more. The nurses had stepped out so there was a few minutes of just Steven and I in the room. I was standing on the side of the bed, leaning onto the bed which was raised. I didn't have much time to process this thought, but something felt really weird all of a sudden. As much as I'd had uncomfortable pressure, there was suddenly a different type of pressure and a 'pop' feeling. Annnnnnnd water! Water all over my feet. I knew right away what had happened; the look on Steven's face as he figured it out was priceless. He ran to the door and yelled "her water broke!". Brittany came back in with my ice and I think was surprised at what she missed in only being out of the room for a few seconds. The nurses cleaned up the floor underneath me and said they needed to check me. But oh, the pressure! Seriously, I think I could take the pain of labor, even induced labor, any day, but that pressure still gives me nightmares! I was having trouble moving at all because it hurt so badly and eventually got on the bed. I lost it at that point from the pressure. Brittany was there talking me through and I'm sure I was traumatizing my poor husband who is used to seeing me in control of most everything.

The nurse checked me and..........5. 5 cm. STILL. Talk about losing it. I lost it some more. I felt like I had no control over anything (hello, I didn't!) and all I could think of was 5 more hours of this horrible, awful pressure. I told Steven I wanted an epidural. He asked for my code word, established in advance so he would know I really meant it. Brittany asked if I could do a few more contractions before deciding and I blurted out "mushrooms!" to Steven... yep, the code word. He told her that I really meant it. And then I was like "stadol, I want stadol!". Not my proudest moment, especially since stadol wouldn't have done a thing for the pressure, and the pain was not a problem at all. They asked me if I understood that it could take an hour to get the epidural and I said yes. So there I was laying there, eyes closed the entire time because I just could not be in that room. I turned back over on my hands and knees, because I knew that had worked before. Yeah, it wasn't touching it now. I was seriously afraid, as much as I know it happens all the time, that I would use the bathroom on the bed. My body was pushing and I freaked out because I knew it was too soon. From things I've read online, pushing too early can swell your cervix and make everything last longer, but this was involuntary. I couldn't help it! I said as much to Brittany, followed by "my body is breaking in half!". She apparently mouthed to Steven that there would be no epidural and then ran out of the room. I was aware at some point that she ran out, and I remember wondering if this would happen faster than the 5 hours I was thinking. I basically collapsed onto the bed on my stomach and just did not know what to do or how to handle it. It's funny how I could have some rational thoughts in the middle of all of this because I remember thinking "I probably shouldn't be laying on my stomach....".

Lady, whatever you're sellin, I ain't buyin! 

Kelly came back in and told me I needed to lay on my back. I freaked out because the thoughts of moving seemed impossible. Brittany and Steven eventually got me turned over. It was never declared that I was 10 cm, out loud where we could hear at least, but suddenly the room was bustling with nurses who were setting up the room for delivery. I didn't know most of this because my eyes were still closed, so I don't think I knew delivery was imminent. I also don't know at what point my doctor came in, but apparently they called him twice (at his office across the street) and he didn't answer because he was on the phone with another physician. At the same time as he was calling back, the unit manager was apparently running down the stairs of the hospital trying to catch him as he made his way to lunch (someone at his office must have told them he was getting ready to go to lunch). By the time he came in, I think I'd had maybe 4 or 5 of those involuntary pushes. Which, by the way, the body fascinates me. I seriously had no control over that!  Once the doctor was there and directing me to push, I think I only pushed 3 times. When he directed me to push at first, I was kind of like "whaaa?" and was probably fighting against the pressure a bit. But I got the hang of it quick. I felt what is referred to as the "ring of fire" and remember thinking that people are crazy to make a big deal out of that; I'd take the ring of fire any day over the pressure (a constant theme, I much prefer pain to pressure, but probably only because she came so fast!). So with the 3rd push, Felicity Marian was born into the world at 1:01pm. Yes, I was 5 cm at 12:30 pm, and my daughter was earthside at 1:01! It was as intense as it sounds.

Steven delivering his baby girl! I'm not brave enough to put it on facebook but I'll put it here :). Sorry, I know it's a bit Nat Geo, but thank God it's fuzzy because I love it! 

My eyes opened for the first time in possibly an hour or so the second I felt her be born. Sweet relief! It wasn't until then that I noticed the room had been transformed, there were more nurses, and oh... Steven was gowned and down near my feet!? Apparently, much to the shock of the nurses who know my doctor well and did not expect this, the doctor decided Steven would get gowned and help deliver his baby! I had no clue any of this was happening until he told me after, but he gowned up and delivered her head before the doctor delivered her body. How cool and special for him!? I was so, so proud of my husband who gets nauseous and light headed at the littlest medical thing, for watching and helping to deliver his daughter, and later exclaiming what an awesome experience it was! And no worries, I had my doula right there beside me, not that my eyes were open enough for me to know who was there or not ;).

 Right after she was born, I asked Steven "what is it!?" and after a brief pause he said "it's a girl!". Since everyone was predicting a boy, we were in shock! Even after our Friday appointment where the ultrasound tech said "she"... yeah, that happened... and we were convinced she had just said a random pronoun. The next few minutes were terrifying. My doctor had said she would come straight to my chest and could initiate breastfeeding if everything was ok. So when she was handed to the warmer, I knew it wasn't good. For probably 3-4 minutes they worked on her, the pediatrician ran in, they suctioned her, and gave her oxygen. Her apgar was 1! Finally she began breathing and crying, which was about the sweetest noise in the world. And then she didn't stop for about 45 minutes, but that was ok with me! Her 2nd apgar was 9. They could not explain what happened but there were theories like her being born so fast, her not realizing she had been born, and fluids not being able to be squeezed out of her during delivery. Once they got her going, they brought her over to me and put her on my chest. It was really interesting trying to hold my newborn while the doctor delivered the placenta and stitched me up! She was certainly a good distraction. She pooped so they took her away to clean her up quickly and she pooped again. That's my girl! Then they gave her back for more cuddles and Steven called both our parents as she screamed in the background. Steven says my placenta fit in the palm of the doctor's hand, which the doctor told him was due to my blood pressure throughout the pregnancy. Anyway, I was dying to know Felicity's weight, so I asked if they weighed her. The nurse, God love her, responded, "your birth plan says no weight or anything for the first hour so we haven't done it. Do you want it done?", and I said "yes!". Not sure why I was dying to know so much! She was 6 lbs 9.1 oz and 19.75 inches. Little peanut! After everything was done, they brought me pizza, salad, and chocolate cake, which I wolfed down while Steven held Felicity. Then I took the most glorious shower ever and the pediatrician came back on to check Felicity. Afterward, I walked her to the nursery (thanks to my friend lidocaine!) for her vitamin K shot and then down to our postpartum room where we waited for my parents to arrive. And that, my friends, is the story of our precious little girl entering the world! 

So back to the epidural thing. I am so, so glad that everything worked out the way it did because it was really important to me to birth without an epidural or other pain medications. I don't know that I would have regretted the epidural with the way I felt, though it's hard to say since I don't know that it would have helped with pressure. I do know I would have really, really regretted the stadol. I credit my husband and doula with getting me as far as they did before I caved, and I am beyond thrilled that my baby came fast enough that it ended up being moot. I don't know enough about 'normal' labor to know this for sure, but I think if the baby had come on a more normal timetable... ie not 5 cm and delivering in 31 minutes... the pressure would have been more bearable or built up more slowly or something. I would hope that future deliveries of mine will either a) go as fast so it's moot or b) go more slowly and be more manageable. I will say that our doula was worth her weight in gold and one of the best decisions we ever made. I think both my husband and I would have been completely lost without her, even with how amazing our nurses were. I would highly recommend a doula to anyone wanting to birth without pain meds, and especially to someone being induced not wanting to use pain meds. The nurses were really impressed with me and said I was about the 3rd person this year to birth without an epidural and the only one who was induced. I can't tell you how much the experience and that knowledge empowered me. I seriously still look at Felicity, think about that crazy intense day, and get overwhelmed by what my body is capable of. With all the failures I feel like I deal with in my body- hypothyroidism, PCOS, low progesterone, high blood pressure- it was the best feeling of my body finally getting something right

One thing that I cannot express enough that I loved about the hospital is their commitment to our birth plan/preferences. My doctor was very honest with me that my pregnancy was not low risk and that a healthy baby and mother mattered the most. I agreed with him, and was glad they were willing to work with what they could. We were never questioned about our choice to not vaccinate in the hospital, about our refusal of erythromycin, One thing I had taken out of the plan was my desire to push for 6 seconds instead of 10 (based on actual research, not just a random number!). My doctor had said in the office that he does 10 because the mother generally only gives a good 5 or 6 seconds, so I took that out, trusting him in that. Well when I was getting ready to push, he made a comment about how he needed me to give a good 6 second push. I was so touched that he remembered that! The nurses who came in during delivery were at some point all informed of my wishes because they followed them exactly, unless I requested otherwise (like the weight). I know that's the way it should be, but often times it's not, and I was so impressed and pleased with my birth experience. But most of all, I'm pleased with my little family of 3 :). Thank God for a healthy mommy and healthy (CUTE!) baby! Hard to believe our baby will be 13 days old tomorrow and it will be her due date!