27 May 2015

Infant/Toddler Weight Gain Issues

First, some back story:

We took K to the doctor for her monthly wellness check at nine months and found out she had only gained five ounces since her six month check-up. Initially, I didn't think it was that big of a deal. She had steadily been in the fiftieth percentile for weight since birth. She was exclusively breastfed until about seven months. She refused a bottle and formula at an early age, but she had always been great with the boob. I probably should have been more insistent that she take a bottle. I chalked up her sudden nine month slim down to the fact that she started crawling, and seemed to be burning a lot more calories than before. But her doctor seemed concerned, and (nicely) berated me for not feeding my "hungry" child. I left the appointment feeling deflated, but figured I would pump my baby full of healthy fats and carbs, and she would be fine.

Increasing K's caloric intake worked for a very short time, then she was hit with a series of illnesses. First, it was scarlet fever. Then a cold. Then a stomach flu. With each illness, she experienced a weight setback. It felt no less than devastating each time we dragged our sad little butts into the doctor's office to face the dreaded scale. In recent months, she has completely fallen off the chart in terms of weight. We have seen specialists. K has been poked and prodded. She has had a feeding study performed by an occupational therapist. It has been an eye-opening and exhausting experience filled with meal planning, reading food labels, calorie intake obsession, forcing nasty drinks and concoctions down K's throat, and worrying.

Aside from her small stature, K is a healthy fourteen month old. She is hitting her milestones at an average to above average pace and is a very social, well-adjusted baby. But, this weight gain issue persists. Her pediatrician wanted her to be about twenty pounds by her first birthday. Her gastro-enterologist thought she could make it to 20 pounds by simply adding more whole milk and supplements such as Carnation Instant Breakfast to her diet. We are two months beyond her first birthday, and the heaviest she has been is 18 pounds 9 ounces. This was a huge feat as she was in the 16 pound range for months.

K has no known food allergies. She is an intensely picky eater, and seems to be hyper aware of different tastes, textures, and foods. She dislikes anything sweet. It is like World War III trying to get her to take Infant Tylenol due to the grape flavoring. It tastes great to most kids, but, for some reason, K gags, chokes, and barfs it up. Her intense distaste for anything sweet (including chocolate) makes it very hard to get her to eat a lot of fattening things including nutrition drinks like Pediasure. We have tried adding all kinds of butters and oils to her solids to add calories. Most of it, has been met with minimal to no success. It could be genetics; like she's just meant to be a smaller person. But, I still worry, because I was in the ninetieth percentile for weight at one year old, and my husband was a chunky baby, too. We weren't small babies, and we aren't small adults, either!

As recently as last week, K developed yet another fever and cold that really did a number on her appetite. Yesterday, she weighed in at 17 pounds 15 ounces. *sigh* So, it's back to the drawing board, because I really don't want her to regress and lose more weight. I have started her on a powdered probiotic to hopefully help beef up her immunity, but the powder makes her milk lumpy, and K has been very disinterested in it. As I sit here, my mind is racing thinking about different food combinations. How can I get my baby to eat more and gain weight?! This is an ongoing issue in our household, and I hope to share a lot more about our experiences, in case anyone is curious as to how I feed my picky, underweight toddler. Or maybe you have dealt with a similar situation?

Stay tuned.

20 May 2015

Life After Infertility

I have tried to write this post several times. I never seem to get very far, but, this time, I'm going to finish it! I feel like, since getting pregnant and having the baby, I should have some wise words or encouraging advice to impart on others struggling through infertility. But, the truth is that I really don't. Like most things in life, you don't know how you will react and cope until it happens to you. You do what you've gotta do to survive. All I can do is share what it has been like for me.

Becoming a mother, while it has been equal parts rewarding and grueling, has been amazing. I have been 110% devoted to my role as a new mom. It has been considerably harder for me to define, or perhaps, re-define my role as a wife. When I was deep in my infertile woe, I imagined that having a child would solve everything. I ignored a lot of red flags going up around me, because I had my eyes on the prize: getting pregnant. It's been more than a year, and I feel like we are still picking up the pieces. A lot of money (along with my sanity) flew out the window during those years. Infertility negatively impacted my marriage a lot more than I imagined it would. While going through treatments, we were like little machines working together to achieve this lofty goal. It felt like we were always in survival mode. When the baby was born, we were thrown into a different type of survival mode. But, a survival mode none the less. When the adrenaline from simply surviving wore off, we were left exhausted and sorta lost. For example, I was so used to having sex only to fulfill a specific need to "try to conceive" I couldn't remember what having sex for the sake of pure enjoyment actually felt like. I know we need marriage counseling, and probably should have been getting help while we were moving through infertility. I always had an excuse why I couldn't go. Now, we really, truly don't have the time. What can I say, other than we are working on things...

In terms of the role infertility plays in my current state of being, the answer is: a minor role. For years, infertility robbed me of a lot of happy moments. It made me feel isolated, self conscious, anxious, and angry. It was one of the first things I thought of when I woke up in the morning. It's easy to say "don't let it get you down" and "continue to enjoy your life," but it's hard when you want something so badly and you have almost no control over the outcome. It's almost impossible not to have those jealous, bitter moments. I had many of those moments. I still have them. They aren't nearly as frequent as when I was knee deep in fertility treatments, but it's still a part of my life. I can recall a conversation I had with fellow first time moms about trying for a second child. Many of the women I spoke to had conceived their babies on the first or second try, so their biggest worries were contraception and getting pregnant too soon after the first baby. Given that we have no idea if we will ever be able to conceive again, my contribution to that discussion was, "Well, it took us five years to have the first baby. So we just don't know." *shrug*

Let me just add that, many who know about our past struggles have told me about "someone they know" who had trouble conceiving #1 and then never had trouble conceiving again (told to me by the OB-GYN who delivered K). Or also "someone they know" who had endometriosis and it was cured by pregnancy (told to me this week by the OB-GYN who performed my laparoscopy). While I feel encouraged by these stories, I also know that there is a very good chance we will need IVF to conceive again.

It has been a long road. We have made it past infertility. Have we succeeded? I don't know how to answer that. We have this beautiful little girl. So, in that sense, we have achieved success! Would I go through IVF again? Yes. The thought of going through IVF is terrifying, but I would do it. We definitely aren't there yet, but still, my biological clock keeps ticking.

P.S. I'm not sure I am done sharing my thoughts on life after infertility. There may be future posts about this!

15 May 2015

Recent Faves

Here are a few favorite moments over the past couple of weeks. 

 It was my birthday, and L took the morning off from work. We took K to a doctor's appointment, and enjoyed a wonderful lunch at a restaurant we used to frequent over ten years ago! This was my priceless birthday view.

Mother's Day 2015.  
Brunch with K + L. We celebrated with both of our moms (a.k.a. the grandmas!) the day before, so we had Sunday to ourselves. 

I was given an assignment by my former Mommy & Me group leader to do one selfish thing on Mother's Day. I decided to pop into Anthro and check out their 20% off everything Mom's Day sale. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea. It was a zoo! I managed to snag a cute blouse, so I'll call it a win.

Having a little snack at the park with K. There's a sweet park within walking distance of our new digs which makes us pretty damn happy.

K just turned 14 months. She is a happy, friendly, hilarious ray of light. Her personality has really blossomed over the past couple of months. She went through a very sensitive period where she couldn't stand unfamiliar people looking at her or engaging with her. She didn't care for other babies, either. Thankfully, she has moved on from that stage. Now we can't get her to stop waving and smiling at every single person she sees. It's adorable, but also somewhat awkward when strangers just want to eat their lunch, and they have a new little friend waving at them from the next table. 

Looking at photos of her, I can't help but feel like, for so many years, I had a hole in my heart that could only be filled by this amazing little girl. To know her is to love her, and I have fallen deeply, hopelessly in love. 

1 May 2015

What happened?

Getting back into blogging is harder than I thought it would be. This world has changed. A lot of the blogs I used to follow have abandoned ship. It strikes me that everything seems much more business-like and much less personal. Rather than random tidbits about daily life, there are tons of suggestions about how and where to buy all the things. It's just so...different...than it used to be. Maybe it's that now people turn to blogs to learn a new skill or to get better at living life - a.k.a. 15 ways to cut down on screen time (while looking at a screen). I'm not knocking it. I have learned a lot from following blogs! But previously, reading a blog felt like you were making a connection; a small investment in someone else's world. Maybe we don't need that connection when we connect via other forms of social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. P.S. I don't have Snapchat. I feel I must draw the line somewhere.

It is tricky trying to figure out where I fit in when I have been gone for the better part of two years. When I stopped writing, I was anxiously awaiting the results of our second IVF cycle. My life felt like it was on hold for a long time. These days it feels like someone pushed the fast forward button, and I often feel like I need to stop and catch my breath. Since I am still new at this parenting gig, my life is mostly about keeping my head above water. Maybe that is something I will try to explore: surviving parenthood. I hope to post some updates on K's life/milestones, too. Also, I want to address some of my ongoing health issues, more thoughts on infertility, and having more kids after IVF. Well, shoot, I guess I do have a few things left to blog about.

There is pretty much no place for me in the new, ultra-chic era of blogging. I have never worn less makeup in my life. My body has never been so soft, and my clothes have never been so wrinkled. Motherhood has turned my life upside down, and, I am far from the perfect pictures seen on blogs these days...mommy blogs included. But, I am going to keep seeing how this goes and updating when I can. Keep exploring and sharing random stuff along the way.

22 April 2015

While You Were Sleeping

I only have time to write when the baby is napping or after she goes to bed at night. (I plan on K taking daily naps until she is at least 15 years old.) During the day, I am up and running for most of the day. This self-proclaimed "less than domestic goddess" has been forced to add a little domesticity to her life. Being a thirty something stay-at-home-mom, by definition, has made it impossible for me to continue hating on cooking, cleaning, and weekly trips to Target. All of those activities have become part of my daily life, and I have embraced it (for the most part). What the hell has happened to me?!

Being that we are a one-income household, and intend to keep it that way for at least the next couple of years, we are continuously examining and editing our household budget. It is still a major work in progress. Recently, we made our biggest change yet. We moved across town to be closer to family, increase our quality of life, and decrease our cost of living. Our condo in L.A. was draining us, emotionally and financially. It had no outdoor space, and we were surrounded by what felt like four walls of constant traffic and congestion. I often found myself fighting the urge to hide indoors rather than deal with the daily grind of life in the big city with my baby girl. Now we are further east, and in a more suburban setting. It's quieter, and it's possible that we might actually get to know our neighbors. K is still young enough where we aren't super worried about the school district, but we are starting to keep our eyes and ears open when it comes to good preschools, etc.

I am outside of my comfort zone. I am leaving behind an area where I was born and raised; where I was within a five mile radius of where I went to preschool, grade school and high school. I had just started finding my way as a mom and making new mommy friends. As you may or may not imagine, making mommy friends is akin to being in seventh grade all over again. AWKWARD. So yeah, I put a lot of effort into convincing other moms that I know what the fuck (I'm trying not to get rid of my potty mouth. Blogging doesn't count since the baby can't read yet, right?) I'm doing, and, in some ways, I am back to square one. Damn. I totally suck at making new friends. I'm from L.A. L.A people aren't friendly and inclusive. They prefer to yell at each other in their cars, but, otherwise, cease to acknowledge each other's existence.

But, ultimately, we are hoping that this leap of faith will lead us to greener pastures. Like any major move, you don't really know what you are getting into. You hope that the decisions you are making will have a positive outcome for your family and yourself. You question and second guess. Ahhhh, adulthood.

My original topic of choice was trying to find time for myself while K sleeps. Hence, the title of this post. Oh well, this is my current state of being. I am sitting in a sea of packed boxes that I should really be unpacking. But, this move has been absolute chaos (not in a good way) and I would rather chill and listen to Taylor Swift's "Style". My kid loves Taylor Swift and Pharrell. I need to write a future post about how my one year old has been cooler than me since she was like five months old. Okay, more like three months, but whatever.

20 April 2015

Oh...hey there. Remember me?

My little IVF bean says "Hi!"

I am dusting off this blog. I have thought about it over the past few months, and I really want to get back in the habit of writing. But, what do I write about? This blogging thing all started with wedding planning back in 2008 (?), and then it was all about newlywed life, and eventually it became an outlet to talk about infertility, IVF, nervous breakdowns, and occasionally, to lighten the load, I would share what I was wearing in the midst of an IVF mental breakdown.

I have spent this past year watching my baby girl grow up, which has been everything I ever wanted and more. I feel pretty good as a new mother. I am not sure what else has happened to me. I am lost somewhere under a pile of adorable BabyGap clothes. My life revolves around my child! I have definitely let myself go in the sense that I don't think about myself really...at all. I don't know how healthy that is, but I am guessing it is fairly normal in the world of new mommyhood? I know I need to find more balance. That is possibly the only thing I am sure of right now!

So, yeah, a lot of rambling. Not sure what I will write about. Maybe a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of nothing? I am still deciding. But I really hope that by posting this, I will give myself the big shove I have needed to get back into the world of online (over)sharing.

28 August 2014

The Beginning of a Life, The End of Another...

Some thoughts on my grandma and her death on the eve of her birthday (August 29th).


My grandma passed away on September 27, 2013. She had a massive stroke (it wasn't her first), was left severely disabled, and several weeks later, died from an infection she contracted while in a nursing facility. I was a few months pregnant from IVF #2 at the time. I was advised by my doctors not to visit her in the intensive care unit of the hospital, and later, at the nursing home where she was sent to "recover". Recover is in quotes because the nursing home eventually killed her. I never got the chance to hold her hand and tell her I loved her. I never got the chance to tell her how sorry I was that she had suffered a crippling stroke. My mom was going to try and set up a Facetime conversation, but she passed away before that happened.

It was stressful and traumatizing to see her in that state of being. My mom's face when she talks about the dark days after my grandma's stroke tells me everything that she will never actually say out loud. My grandma couldn't really speak or do anything for herself anymore. A fiercely independent woman couldn't even brush her own teeth.

Almost a year after her death, I am left feeling very sad and empty. I didn't get to say goodbye. There was no finality. My daughter is now here, and I am constantly reminded around every corner that my grandma is gone. I have visions of her when I go places we used to go together. I am haunted by what could have been; what should have been.

She was a quiet woman, and rarely ever discussed anything deeply personal. She lost her own mother when she was only thirteen years old. She never spoke of it to me. In the throes of our first IVF cycle, she told me she prayed every night that I would have a baby. I cherished every word of that short conversation we had about my infertility. She knew I was hurting, and there was nothing she could do about it. But her words gave me strength. I knew she was there for me.

When I found out I was pregnant, it gave me so much joy to call her and tell her the news. She was so happy for me and L. I never really talked to her again after that. It brings me some comfort to know that she knew I was pregnant. She didn't get to meet the baby, but she knew there was a baby. I like to believe that she is the reason the baby was a girl. She was working a little magic from up above. The passing of one strong female was making way for the arrival of another tiny strong female.

I won't get into the endless memories I have growing up with my grandma. There are way too many to count. I was lucky to know her for over thirty years. She was an amazing woman: smart, graceful, beautiful beyond words. She is a role model to me, and an inextricable link in the chain of my family's history. I miss her every day. I love her more every day. In her absence, I have an even deeper appreciation for the woman she was. She lives on in my mind and in my heart. One day, my daughter will hear stories and will see pictures of her great-grandmother who loved her so much even though they never had the chance to physically meet.

I love you, Grammy! Happy Birthday!

5 August 2014

Baby Update: 21 WEEKS!

Baby K is 21 weeks old today! 

I was terrible at documenting my pregnancy. I don't have those week by week adorable belly photos where I'm frolicking in a garden. Instead, I have a bunch of random iPhone photos of me standing in our teeny tiny bathroom in front of a dirty mirror. Regardless, they are going in the baby book (that I stopped writing in).

We also haven't done weekly photos of Baby K. I know, new mommy fails left and right! But, rest assured, there are literally thousands of photos of her. They just aren't exactly organized. I did buy those month stickers for her first twelve months, and we have been semi-good about taking her monthly photos. One of my mommy resolutions is to get it together in the photo department. I absolutely loved staring at all my baby albums when I was young (a little narcissist in the making), and I figure K might just be interested one day, too.

Baby K is 21 weeks old today. She is almost FIVE months old. Whaaaaat?! Every parent says this, but she is growing so, so fast. Too fast. Every day we get a new glimpse into her personality, and this little girl is quite a spit fire! She isn't shy about expressing herself, often with a loud voice! She's friendly and warm, and already makes us laugh so much (despite the fact that most of her jokes are fart jokes). I don't know where she gets all this fire from, but I think it skips a generation. I'm reserved like my grandma, and my mom is a spit fire. So, I supposed she gets it from my mama!

It is beyond a privilege and a joy to be K's mommy. I am grateful every day. She is my world, and my husband's world, and we would do anything for her. When I think about the road we traveled to get to where we are today, I haven't forgotten how tough it was. But those memories are slowing drifting off and making room for new memories with our little IVF miracle. We love her so much.

2 July 2014

Catching Up: The Birth Story

I woke up on the morning of March 11th feeling good. I got a decent night's rest (by pregnancy standards), and I was trying to remain as calm as possible. I showered, dried my hair, and even put a little make-up on. I remember being much more of a basket case on the morning of our wedding! L busied himself with making sure we had everything packed in the car. We got a little giddy over taking the car seat with us. The empty car seat was sitting in our living room for weeks. The empty crib was assembled and waiting in our room. The changing table was all organized and filled with various baby-related items. I had been staring longingly at all of these unused items and furniture for a long time, and couldn't believe that the next time we came home, we would be a family of three. We took a few last photos of my pregnant belly and our dogs, and then we were out the door.

The car ride there went smoothly. I got annoyed at L because he was SO chatty. For the first time all morning it dawned on me that he was nervous. His incessant talking was infringing on my zen mood! We got in a minor tiff about it, which is so typical of us. My zen mood wasn't even ruined by the fact that we were running almost an hour late for our 10 a.m. hospital check in. We got to the hospital, and I remember texting my mom that we were there. She planned to meet us there later once we were settled in our room. It didn't feel real. Was I really having a baby?!

We checked in at the front desk, and they took us right back to the labor/delivery room that would be ours for the next several hours. It was a beautiful room that overlooked the Hollywood sign. The view was calming to me, and I recall looking out the window a lot throughout the course of the morning. It was a good reminder that it was just a normal day for most people, but for us, it would be life changing.

Our nurse, Ashley, checked us in, and together we discussed every detail of the labor and delivery process. Ashley was such a huge help! I was so thankful that we had scored such an amazing labor nurse. She told us her shift was ending at 7 p.m. that evening, so it was unlikely that she would be around for the birth of our baby. (Spoiler alert: the baby arrived well before 7 p.m.) But, she reassured us that we were in good hands no matter what.

By the time Ashley finished asking me a million and one questions, placing my IV, and getting me all comfy in my hospital bed, it was noon. My doctor had already called into the hospital, and was wondering what was taking so long. His original plan was to start me on Pitocin, and break my water on his lunch break. We hadn't even started the Pitocin and it was lunch time! At that point, I felt a little bad for being almost an hour late for our check-in. Oops. During this time, my mom arrived, and it was so nice to see her face. I had my husband and my mom there, and I was ready.

Nurse Ashley brought in the bag of Pitocin and started her up. She quickly explained about the monitors, and showed us how we could watch my contractions on the screen. She told us that the machines would sometimes beep, but not to get too alarmed by the beeping. Usually it meant that one of the transducers she had placed on my belly had shifted or fallen off. Then she introduced us to a new nurse who would watch me while she went on her lunch break.

I was only on Pitocin for what felt like a few minutes, before a super friendly doctor waltzed in the door. He introduced himself as Dr. F and said he was sent there by my doctor to break my water. I was so nervous throughout the entire process. It ended up not being too painful; just uncomfortable. Once my water broke, we discovered there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. This was the first time all day that I began to feel anxious. Dr. F reassured me that it was okay, and that everything would be fine. I was still worried, but couldn't dwell on it for long, because the painful contractions took over.

When the contractions first started they felt like a small wave of menstrual cramps. I could talk through them, and they were popping up every ten minutes or so. I knew that it was only going to get worse, but I tried not to focus too much on how bad it might get. From Day 1, I was fine with getting an epidural, so for me it was just a matter of figuring out when I wanted the epidural. In birth class, we talked a lot about how getting an epidural could stall labor and possibly lead to needing a C-section. I was trying to avoid a C-section, so I became fixated on the idea that getting an epidural "too early"= C-section.

After my water broke, everything started moving very quickly. They upped my Pitocin one notch, and the contractions were becoming painful. I couldn't talk through them, and I was laying there like a beached whale, sweating, and holding onto the bed railing. Nurse Ashley wasn't even back from her lunch break yet. At some point, the charge nurse came in, took one look at me, and asked if I wanted my epidural. I looked up at her and remember blurting out that I didn't want the epidural to slow down labor. She responded that she didn't think there was any reason I should be in this much pain, unless, of course, I wanted the pain. I quickly consulted with my "team" (L and my mom), and agreed that I wanted the drugs.

Side note: I liked that the nurses, doctors, and hospital staff never made me feel bad or weak for getting an epidural. In fact, they encouraged me to do whatever I felt I needed to do. I appreciated the lack of judgment regardless of my stance on pain medication.

The charge nurse called the anesthesiologist, and he and his team were in my room in a matter of minutes. I was off on another planet trying to breathe through contractions while some doctor that must have been part of the anesthesiology team asked me a bunch of questions. The charge nurse was like, "She's in pain. She can't really answer your questions." Did I mention that I loved the charge nurse? I wish I got her name. She held my hands while they administered the epidural. It wasn't painful at all (from what I can remember), and soon after, I was feeling much better...on one side.

One side of my body was completely numb, and the other side was feeling full on contractions. I started panicking because I had read birth stories where the epidural didn't work for some reason or another. I really didn't want to be one of those stories. Also, I hadn't mentally prepared myself for the scenario of "What if the pain meds don't work?" But before I had a full on panic attack, Nurse Ashley was back and she upped my epidural and then turned me on my other side. She explained that when they go in to place the epidural, they go in blindly. Sometimes it goes off to one side or another. The medicine was likely pooled on one side of my body, so I needed to roll over so it could work on my other side. I have no idea if I described that correctly. All I know is that I was overjoyed to get some relief from the pain.

I remember rolling over, and feeling a little light headed and strange. However, I just chalked it up to the epidural taking effect. Nurse Ashley left the room, and I tried to relax and get some rest. I didn't get much rest before one of the machines I was hooked up to began beeping. We didn't freak out because Ashley had told us earlier about the transducers acting up. So we calmly called her, and she was at our door right away. She took a look at the baby's heartbeat, and started moving the transducer thing around on my belly. Apparently, the baby's heart rate had either sped up or slowed down significantly. I can't remember clearly, because Ashley had me rolling all around on the bed in different directions. She decided she was going to check me vaginally, and it was then that all hell broke loose. Apparently, I was one sneeze, cough, or fart away from having my baby.


I was told to close my legs, and Ashley had her phone out and was calling my doctor. He was in the office treating patients. When he got the call, he apparently dropped everything he was doing, jumped in his car, and flew over to the hospital. They wheeled in all of this birthing equipment, and everyone was getting dressed in their bio-hazard looking suits. I was given oxygen, which Ashley told me was for the baby, and not for me. She said the baby was stressed out from all the contractions. She was actually in the birth canal and about to shoot out of me. A nurse who I will refer to as Nurse Bertha (because she looked stern and like she doesn't fuck around) was brought in to deliver the baby if my doctor couldn't make it on time. I briefly recall her reading a book in the corner, and then talking to the other nurses about her upcoming vacation to Disneyland. She was an old pro and none of this phased her one bit.

This entire time, I hadn't felt anything. Ashley explained that when I felt light headed and woozy before, it wasn't the epidural taking effect. I was actually in transition, and the baby was descending. Luckily, my doctor made it to the hospital quickly and sprinted in just in time. I was trying my best to stay calm. It was all very surreal. Before I knew it they were hoisting me up, and coaching me on how to push. All I can remember is that I was supposed to push as if I was trying to take a huge dump. Well, okay. This simple task became disproportionately difficult, because I couldn't feel my ass. I couldn't feel anything below my waist, and I was getting frustrated. Everyone kept saying, "PUSH", and I kept yelling back, "I can't feel anything!"

At one point, my doctor looked me in the eyes, and said, "You're doing just fine. You're fine." After that, I gave one final push, and the baby was born. I felt her slide out, and watched them put her on my chest. She was screaming. I stared at this beautiful creature that had just popped out of me. I had no idea what to do. I was frozen. But, before I could actually say or do anything, they whisked her away. She had inhaled some meconium. At the same time, I was laying on the bed, spread eagle, and my doctor was repairing what I would learn much later was a third degree perineal tear.

I kept asking L and my mom, "Is she okay? Is the baby okay?" And they kept saying she was doing okay, but it was still a very scary few minutes. I remember glancing over at the other end of the room where they were "working" on my little baby. There were probably ten people surrounding the warmer, so I couldn't see any part of her. I couldn't hear her. I felt like I was free falling. L was by the baby's side the entire time. We didn't have that whole husband/wife coach/player connection that likely occurs when you have a much longer laboring experience. L was by my side, but everything happened so fast, that we were both a little in shock. From start to finish, I checked into the hospital around 10:45-ish and the baby was born at 4:28p.m. Nobody expected this. Since this was my first baby, I was told repeatedly that I could be in labor for a really long time. Nurse Ashley exclaimed, "You were made to have babies!" I chuckled to myself given how insane that sentiment sounded to me.

After what seemed like forever, I finally got to hold my baby. The pediatric specialist that was working on her explained that it was taking extra effort for her to breathe, and they needed to make sure that everything was cleared out of her lungs before they let me hold her again. She scored 8's on her APGAR tests at both one and five minutes. I was a little bothered and concerned by that, being the nerdy ass student I am, but she was perfectly healthy.

She had one eye open, and she was staring directly at me. This was my baby. Two surgeries, one round of IUI, two rounds of IVF, four and a half years of wondering, questioning, and agonizing over whether we would ever have a child. Countless months of bleeding, cramping, negative pregnancy tests, painful fertility testing, depression, anxiety, and total and complete loss of self.

She was finally here, and our lives just got a hell of a lot more awesome.

19 June 2014

Catching Up: The Pre-Birth Story

I am writing the details of these "Catching Up" posts in bits and pieces. Gone are the days when I can write an entire post in one sitting. I write a little here and there, usually in the evenings after the baby has gone to sleep. Here is an account of the final few weeks of my pregnancy.


Almost the entire time I was pregnant, I didn't really think too much about the whole "giving birth" part of the deal. My "birth plan" was simple. I wanted to labor and deliver at a hospital, and I was not opposed to any measures that would keep my baby and myself safe. I was hoping for a vaginal birth, but, if I needed a C-section, I needed a C-section. The baby's health was my only concern. In my mind, I was being such a super relaxed, go with the flow, wind in my hair, chilled out mama. But, in actuality, I was scared shitless about what pushing a large object out of my vagina was going to entail, and I was basically hiding under a blanket hoping it didn't happen to me.

Looking back, I wish I had done more research and learned more about *cough* perineal tears. Spoiler alert: I tore. It was bad. I was not one of those ladies who prances around the day after giving birth, poses for photos in a robe that matches their newborn's onesie, and then goes for a light jog after being discharged from the hospital. No, no, NO. I was a HOT MESS. I actually couldn't believe the hospital let me go in the state I was in. They abandoned me with a screaming newborn, some Colace, and a pile of gigantic maxi pads the size of my head. But, another story for another time.

My due date was March 3, 2014. Officially, I think it was March 2nd according to the measurements at our 20 week anatomy scan, but when anyone would ask me when I was due, I would say March 3rd.

Starting at 37 weeks of pregnancy, I started seeing my doctor every week for check-ups. It became a little routine for us. We would go in for our check-up, and then I would reward myself with a Georgetown Cupcake. By the way, L took me to every appointment except one. That's L. Our birth coach spent a good amount of time poking fun at how ridiculous Type A, anal retentive husbands can be during labor. Some women don't like being fawned over. Some women do. L didn't fawn over me during labor (because I told him I would want him to back off. When I'm in any kind of pain, step off), but he was there for me and he still is. That's L. Good man.

At my 39 week appointment, my doctor declared that my cervix was softening (I think I was 80% effaced) and I was one to two centimeters dilated. He told me to pack my hospital bags, because the baby could come at any time. We had prepared for this moment for months and months (years, actually), and I was a mix of nerves and excitement. I called everyone I am close to and told them to get ready...she was on her way! Obviously, I had no way of knowing that the wait would last another two and a half weeks.

At my 40 week check-up, I was like, "Soooo, how about that baby?" And my doctor was like, "You're getting closer!" Then he striped my membranes. Or, I think he striped my membranes? He didn't really tell me what he was doing down there, but I nearly jumped off the exam table it was so painful. Whatever he did was more than a cervix check. That's my doctor though. He never really explained anything to me for nine months. After I had my cervix/tonsil check, I hobbled out of the office, and became convinced that something was finally happening. I was starting to feel light contractions, and my doctor even said he would be surprised if I didn't deliver within the next few days. Ha HA.

For the next week, I had inconsistent contractions. I felt a lot of pressure in my pelvic region, and {TMI alert} I had a day and a half where my body performed its own natural cleanse. I was pumped. I had learned in birth class that this was a positive sign that your body was preparing for labor. Score! Now I just had wait for my water to break, and we would be on our way.

I hit the 41 week mark with the same light contractions, but nothing really changed. I was now 100% effaced and still one to two centimeters dilated. I was really anxious to get the show on the road. I felt huge. After expressing his shock and awe that I was still pregnant, my doctor told me he would support whatever I wanted to do, but he wouldn't let me go past 42 weeks. Joy. We decided that 10 a.m. on March 11th would be my induction time, because being 42 weeks pregnant sounded like an awful idea to an exceedingly uncomfortable me. If the baby hadn't made her appearance by then she would be met with Pitocin.

My quick thoughts on induction. First off, I never thought I would need to be induced. At 39 weeks, my body and the baby felt ready to go. It goes to show that you can never really predict anything when it comes to labor. It's such a crap shoot. Second, I was deathly afraid of Pitocin because everything I read said that it would cause contractions to speed up and feel like they were ripping you in half. Due to the fact that I got induced, I had nothing to compare my contractions to. They definitely ramped up rather quickly and felt strong to me, but it wasn't like I had been in active labor for hours and then they introduced the Pitocin. Also, they only had to increase my Pitocin once, and I was good to go. So I would say "Don't fear Pitocin" but every body and every birth is different. All in all, I am cool with the fact that I was induced. Do I wish that I had gone into labor naturally? Of course. But, at 41 weeks, 3 days, I felt like my little baby cooked as long as she needed to cook. We were ready to meet the tiny dictator.

The morning of the induction with our fur babies, Emma and Henry!
Up next: Baby's fast and furious birth and some thoughts on postpartum recovery.


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