Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stuff I'm Learning

Our good friends Aaron and Katy recently sent us a really cool gift. It's a book called The New Parents' Book of Firsts: The Seemingly Insignificant but Truly Astounding Accomplishments of Mom and Dad. Instead of being about baby's first steps or first projectile vomiting incident, it has pages to record the things mom and dad do along the way, like "The First Time You Used Your Own Saliva To Clean Your Baby's Face." There really is a lot of stuff you learn from the birth experience and the early weeks of caring for a new baby. Here's some of what I've picked up so far.

1) Labor really does hurt. A lot. Sorry Elaine, but it's true! I can't lie to you. I was expecting it to be painful, but nothing could have prepared me for what it was actually like - and I thought my pain threshold was pretty high considering that I have endometriosis and suffer through terrible cramps every month. It really is true though that as soon as it's over you know it's more than worth it because the reward at the end is so great. I was ready to do it all again the next day. And this may be my hormones talking, but I am so grateful that I got to experience that pain. It's totally empowering to go through what millions of women have gone through and to know that I survived it! (at least for those six hours before I caved in and begged for drugs.) And it also makes me really really really grateful for whoever invented the epidural.

2) Sleep deprivation is a really big deal. I have to admit I severely underestimated how this would affect me. I thought, "OK, so I'll be a little tired for a while." It never occurred to me that there's a good reason they use sleep deprivation to torture prisoners of war. In reality, I'm walking around like a zombie most of the time. It affects every aspect of life, from my ability to think logically to my fantasies. All of my daydreaming now consists of visions of being tucked up in bed and sleeping for eight hours straight. Which leads to my next observation.

3) 2 hours + 2 hours + 2 hours does NOT = 6 hours of sleep. There's a scientific explanation for this, involving the importance of REM and deep sleep cycles, but my head is much too muddled to sort through it right now.

4) I love breastfeeding. I always planned on breastfeeding Sawyer, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy it, or how easy it would be. I guess I'd heard so many horror stories from my mom friends that I was prepared for it to be difficult and painful to master. So it totally surprised me that aside from one day of engorgement, it's been a breeze. It helps that Sawyer is a voracious eater and has had great latching-on skills from the start. Given our love of food, I should have known we'd have a gourmet on our hands. Breastfeeding produces some funny stories too. A couple of days after my milk came in I was feeding Sawyer and not really paying attention to him because I was reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at the same time. I suddenly noticed he was making a sputtering sound, and I looked down to see that he had let go of my nipple and milk was spraying all over him - on top of his head, in his eyes, everywhere. Poor little guy.

5) I love having Sawyer sleep in our room. I remember when Eric and I were engaged and we were visiting an old mission companion of Eric's who is married and has a little boy. The friend mentioned that their son (who was almost 2 at the time) sleeps in their bed with them. Eric and I looked at each other and later both agreed that we thought it was weird and maybe even a little creepy. Now it's not at all weird to me and feels like the most natural thing in the world - which it actually is. Our culture is unique in the world when it comes to putting babies to sleep in a separate room from their mothers. We have a great little bed for him called the Arm's Reach Co-sleeper (endorsed by Dr. Sears, author of many informative and only slightly self-righteous parenting books.) It attaches to the side of our bed so when Sawyer wakes up at night I can roll over and pick him up to feed him or comfort him. I love that he is right next to us and I can always open my eyes and make sure he's OK. Plus I can feed him as soon as he wakes up and starts grunting, but before he gets hysterical crying, so he goes back to sleep easily. We'll see what happens when it comes time to move him to his own room, but for now this is working really well for us.

And I'm sure I'll have a lot more to share soon! For now I'll be sitting slack-jawed on the couch in the same clothes I wore yesterday, waiting for Eric to get home so I can take a shower.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Sawyer's Birth Story

It started on Wednesday, May 4. I had a midwife appointment that morning and after my internal exam (where I'm pretty sure she stripped my membranes) I had lots of cramping throughout the day. I also had some leaking that I thought might be amniotic fluid, but I wasn’t sure because there was such a tiny amount of it. But I definitely felt like something was different, so that night I decided to skip my Lovenox shot just in case. It’s a good thing I did, because at 2:30 a.m. my water broke. I had just made a trip to the bathroom and as I got back into bed I sat up partway to adjust myself and get comfortable. All of a sudden I felt a gush of warm water. It took me about 5 seconds to register what had just happened. I woke Eric up and said “My water just broke!” and jumped out of bed. When he asked “Are you sure?” I just laughed because at that point I was standing in a puddle. There was no mistaking what had happened! We called Margie, the midwife on call and she told us to come to the hospital so they could check me. Eric took a quick shower and I got dressed. I was still leaking a ton of fluid so I wore a short dress with a towel stuffed between my legs. I was glad it was in the middle of the night so none of the neighbors could see me waddling out of the house in that condition. Before we left, Eric gave me a blessing that I would be able to cope with the pain and that everything would go smoothly, and that was very comforting.

I started having contractions on the way to the hospital. They were mild and about 4-5 minutes apart, so I had no problem breathing through them, although some of the bumps we hit didn’t feel very good. Mostly I was excited to get my baby here and I wasn’t thinking too much about the pain. When we arrived at the hospital at 3:00 a.m. they had us sign some forms and put us in a labor and delivery room. They checked with a pH strip and confirmed that my water had broken. I was less than a centimeter dilated, 50% effaced and my contractions were still very mild. Margie and Dr. Giamittorio discussed sending me home to wait for things to get into gear, but since there was a possibility that my water may have been leaking since earlier in the day they decided to keep me and get things moving - the risk of infection increases greatly if the baby isn’t delivered within 24 hours of the membranes rupturing.

While Lynn, my labor and delivery nurse started my IV, Margie put some prostaglandin gel on my cervix to ripen it, with the plan of starting pitocin a few hours later. The pitocin turned out to be unnecessary though, because within 10 minutes of the gel being applied my body went into high gear. The contractions were instantly extremely strong and less than 2 minutes apart. I managed the pain by walking around the room and holding on to Eric while I swayed my hips back and forth. Lynn was incredible and talked me through the difficult contractions, held my hand and rubbed my back. I was having back labor and the pain was quickly getting hard for me to manage, even with so much support from Eric and my nurse. After about 4 hours I was desperate for relief. I asked for an epidural, but Margie and the doctor both felt it was too early, so instead they gave me a shot of Nubain to help me get through for a little longer. Lynn put some in my IV and injected some in my hip. It helped a lot at first. The contractions were just as painful as before, but I was able to relax between them which I hadn’t been able to do previously. The downside was that I had to stay in bed and I wasn’t able to move around like I had done before; in hindsight, this took away a lot of my ability to cope with the contractions.

About 45 minutes later the Nubain wore off and they gave me another dose. This time it was completely ineffectual. I felt dizzy and disoriented with no relief. It was around this point that I felt like I was losing control. I asked for an epidural again, so Margie came in to check me and see what kind of progress had been made in the last 5 hours. Given the strength of my contractions and the pain I was in I was shocked to hear that I was still only one centimeter dilated! My cervix hadn’t budged. Margie told me to hang in there for a few more hours and they would think about an epidural. She was worried having one this early would stall my labor. At this point I was feeling completely desperate and the thought of going through this for hours more sounded like a death sentence. Lynn was quite upset that my doctor wouldn’t let me have the epidural because she could see how much pain I was in. She said “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I know when someone needs an epidural; you need one.” I was so tense from the pain that I couldn’t let my body relax and do its job. After another half hour of screaming and gripping the sides of the bed (I was squeezing so hard that my blood started flowing backwards in the IV) Lynn called Margie in to sit with me for a while. After a few minutes she left, and came back to say that they had called for the anesthesiologist.

At a little after 9:00 he arrived. I’ve never been so glad to see a huge needle in my life! He worked very quickly and I wanted to kiss him and name my child after him. (Unfortunately I was too disoriented to remember his name; in fact I have no idea what he even looked like.) At about 9:10 I told Lynn, “Either I just wet the bed or amniotic fluid is gushing out.” She said “It’s fluid, because right now you’re at the peak of a huge contraction.” If I had been able to I would have jumped up and done a happy dance. The pain was completely gone! I was able to feel and move my legs and I could feel pressure from the contractions, but they didn’t hurt at all. Eric said he had never seen such a transformation in his life. A few minutes later I was eating a popsicle and chatting with my mom on my cell phone. I was even able to doze off a bit, but I was way too excited to actually sleep. In a way it was completely weird to have no unpleasant sensations, and yet be very aware that my body was doing some really hard work. My contractions didn’t slow down one bit but continued exactly the way they had before, strong and fast. Eric and I talked, he played with my hair and rubbed my back and the time passed very pleasantly. It was so nice to have those quiet moments together before our son was born.

At around 1:00 p.m., Margie checked me again. I was dilated to 5 centimeters! Things kept moving along at a moderate pace, about a centimeter an hour. The baby’s heart rate started to decelerate too much when I was on my left side, so they had my lie on my right side for the rest of the labor. At about 6:00 I started feeling a lot of pelvic pressure and I could tell the baby’s head was moving down. Margie had left and Karen was the midwife who took her place. I had a new nurse too, Rachel, who had a quirky sense of humor and kept making us laugh. At 6:40 the pressure became more intense (but hallelujah, still no pain!) and when Karen checked I was fully dilated and ready to push. They figured it would take a while since this was my first delivery, so Rachel said “Let’s try pushing and see how it goes.” Eric held one of my legs and Rachel held the other. We waited for a contraction, and on my first push the nurse announced “He’s a blondie!” His head was already visible and it was clear that it wasn’t going to take that long for him to be born. They called Karen back in and set up a mirror so I could see. It was so amazing to watch! I pushed for 20 more minutes. It was hard work, but felt so empowering; in sharp contrast to just dealing with the pain, I was DOING something and I could see that it was productive.

Karen was suddenly called out on an emergency, so I got my third midwife, Sue. We had a bit of a scare when the baby was close to crowning and his heart rate suddenly decelerated. Sue decided he needed to come out as quickly as possible, so she had a nurse apply fundal pressure, which basically means this lady put all her weight on my stomach with her elbows to push the baby out from above. It hurt a lot and I could barely breathe, but I pushed as hard as I could and within a couple of pushes his head was out. He had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, which explained the decelerations. His shoulders came out easily, and Sue helped me reach down and pull his body out and pull him up onto my chest. It was the most indescribably amazing moment I’ve ever experienced. I cried and laughed at the same time and Eric couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. Little Sawyer didn’t cry at all, just whimpered a few times, and then looked around the room completely alert like he was just taking it all in.

He weighed 6 lbs 5 oz and was 17 ½ inches long – well over a pound smaller than the lowest ultrasound estimate. His Apgar scores were 9 and 9. I held him and nursed him for about an hour before they took him to the nursery for a bath. I was (and still am) completely overwhelmed with love for him. I was in awe of how perfect and tiny he was and that he was mine.

My mom came into town the next day - she had been planning on coming out for the birth, but Sawyer’s early arrival took us all by surprise. On Saturday they let us go home from the hospital and we’ve been getting settled in ever since, getting to know Sawyer and learning to how care for him.

My birth experience was wonderful and I feel like I could do it ten more times! (You should see the look on Eric’s face when I say that, it’s really funny.) Now that we have Sawyer home I am growing more and more in love with him every day. Eric and I feel closer than ever before and we can’t wait to see who this precious little person grows up to be.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Welcome Home, Sawyer

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days - but I've had a really good excuse. Our baby is here!

William Sawyer Watts was born at 7:06 p.m. on Thursday May 5th (his great-grandpa William's birthday!) weighing 6 lbs 5 oz, 17 1/2 inches long. Labor and delivery went very smoothly and we are both exhausted but doing great. I'll post the whole birth story later; right now I have a baby at my breast and I'm not very good at typing with one hand. Sawyer is already the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I can't believe how precious he is and how much I already love him.

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Great News

I've known this for a while, but I'm just now free to share it with the world at large. My sister Megan is pregnant! She's about 9 weeks along and is due in late November/early December. We've become really close since we live so near each other and I'm so excited for us to have babies together!

Time to Suck It Up

I saw Melinda the midwife again this morning. And my cervix is being a little bastard. Despite all the evening primrose oil and raspberry leaf tea I've been taking, I'm only 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated. My midwife told me to increase the EPO to 1500 mg three times a day (total of 4500) and have lots and lots of sex. Yay. I told her we haven't been doing it much because it's so uncomfortable for both of us and she said, "Girl, this isn't about pleasure! This is business! Suck it up and get the job done!" Hmm, where did I ever get the whacky idea that sex was supposed to feel good?

The original plan was to wait until next Wednesday to check me again, but I whined pathetically enough that she took pity on me and had me schedule a quick appointment for Friday. She also poked around a bit more than usual during my internal check, and I'm pretty sure she stripped my membranes (it was rough enough that I yelled "Ow!"). So we'll see if anything happens in the next little while. I've been feeling really crampy for the last couple of days, like when my period's about to start so hopefully that means something is going on in there.

Here's a picture from last week (37 weeks) to prove to you how huge I'm getting. First is my 32 week picture so you can compare. Yowza!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

He's Put On a Few

About a week ago Safeway was having a sale on Thomas bagels where if you bought one bag you got two free. Eric and I both love bagels and I'm a sucker for a good deal, so naturally I stocked up. E had one for breakfast with butter and jam one day and decided to leave a stick of butter on a plate out on the counter so the next time he wanted butter for his bagel it would be nice and soft and spreadable. Throughout the week I noticed the butter quickly disappearing. "Wow," I thought, "Eric's really on a bagels-with-butter kick." I'm a cream cheese freak myself so I wasn't using any of it. What struck me as odd, besides how fast it was going, is that it was being cut from the top instead of the ends. I had never noticed my husband's butter spreading habits before, so I figured it must just be his own quirky way of doing things.

Fast forward to Friday evening as Eric and I were eating dinner. We heard our cat Walker jumping up on the kitchen counter. He's not allowed up there and knows it but we've been completely ineffectual in training him not to jump up. I went into the kitchen, but by the time I got there he had jumped down and run into the basement. E came in behind me armed with the spray bottle, looked at the counter and a got a weird look on his face. The butter was completely gone and the plate was licked clean. "Honey?" he said. "Have you been eating the butter?" I told him no, I thought he had. He hadn't used it all week since that first bagel. He didn't want to say anything to me about it because I'm so sensitive about gaining pregnancy weight and he didn't want to hurt my feelings by implying that he was concerned that I was eating large amounts of butter on a daily basis.

No wonder the cat has been looking a bit chunky.

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