Friday, October 9, 2015

Abel's Birth Story

I know birth stories involving planned c-sections aren't as exciting as other birth stories.  There was no moment when my water broke, no contractions that got stronger and stronger, no moment when I suddenly turned to Sam and said, "I think it's time!"  But it's a birth story, and it's mine and it's something I want to remember.  Also, it may help give someone about to have a c-section a general idea of what to expect.

Sam and I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 on Monday morning.  The nice thing about a scheduled birth is that there was plenty of parking at the hospital and zero traffic to worry about.  It was very odd, knowing exactly when I would have my baby.  I felt a little numb.  Because there were so many emotions and feelings competing for space in my brain, I think my mind shut itself off to everything, making me feel almost nothing at all.  I was on auto-pilot, to protect myself from being too scared or too overwhelmed.  But I was definitely excited and so ready to meet this little man.

We got to our room and the nurses quickly hooked me up to an IV and began walking me through what would happen during the surgery.  It was so helpful to have everything explained to me so thoroughly, and even though I've had a Cesarean before, it calmed my nerves to be informed about exactly what to expect.

Here I am getting warm air pumped into my hospital gown.  Don't I look like a really happy whale?

One of the nurses told me she was on light duty because of a torn rotator cuff, which meant she'd still be in the operating room but wouldn't be too busy.  She offered to take pictures of everything for me which was wonderful.  It was so special to have this done because a blue curtain prevented me from seeing anything during the birth (which is good, because I'd most likely pass out if I saw myself cut open), yet I still have these images of Abel being born.  And most hospitals don't allow anyone except hospital staff into the operating room, so I didn't have the option of those great professional birth photos I've seen on Pinterest.  But iPhone photos are good enough for me.

They wheeled me into the operating room and gave me a spinal while Sam waited outside.  My doctor, Abby, is amazing.  She stood with me while I was getting the spinal and talked to me about Christmas, keeping me nicely distracted.  Abby is the kind of doctor who makes you feel like she's your friend, not your doctor, and that you are the most important person.  I'm so thankful she was the one to deliver Abel.

Soon I was laying on the table and they were setting up the partition.  After determining that I was sufficiently numb, they let Sam come in.  He sat near my head and started talking to me.  They began the surgery around 7:45, and it seemed like it went super fast.  I kept taking deep breaths, trying not to think about what was happening (I was being sliced open) or all the potential problems that might occur, and prayed constantly that everything would go well and Abel would be healthy.  The anesthesiologist warned me that I might start getting itchy, and encouraged me not to scratch.  I remember thinking that was weird.  I also couldn't stop my teeth from chattering.  I wasn't cold, but it was almost like my body thought I was, so I was shivering.

Here I am being cut open! ^^

All of a sudden, there was a slight uproar from my doctor and the nurses.  I heard, "Did you see that?"  "I've never seen anything like that before!"  It didn't sound like it was anything bad, but when you're having major surgery performed, and a doctor is attempting to cut a baby out of you, it's a little alarming to hear things like that.  My mind raced with what could have caused it - was this baby actually a girl?  Was there a second baby inside?  I tried not to panic, and thankfully one of the nurses poked her head around the partition and told me what had happened.  Apparently as soon as they cut through the final layer, Abel's arm shot out of me, as if to say he was ready to come out.  I said, "Like an alien trying to escape?"  She said, "Yeah!  That's exactly what it looked like!"  And for those wondering, no, he didn't jump out and start performing "Hello My Baby."  (Spaceballs anyone? <-- click the link if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Here's my little prince, straight from ma insides.

(I put this picture in black and white, so those with sensitive stomachs don't freak out over all the bloooood.)

They allowed Abel's cord to finish pumping, then cut it long and took him to be wiped off.  Sam then cut the rest of the cord, and after determining Abel was breathing well and not in any serious trouble, they brought him to me and laid him on my chest.  I couldn't stop crying with relief and crazy, crazy love.  It is mind-blowing to have a new baby.  This person was my tiny companion for nine months, and suddenly there he was, in the world.  With both Ellery and Abel, I saw them as brand new people and knew them.  They seemed so familiar to me, and I had the strangest sense of, "Wait, haven't we met before?"  It's crazy the connection between mother and baby, and for me the intense sense of love and protection for this little person, this person my body worked so hard to grow and develop, is such a spiritual experience.  (I know, I know, I'm such a cliche.)

The baby nurse said, "Tell me when you start to feel sick, and I'll take him away."  I thought that was weird.  What made her think I'd start to feel sick?  A few minutes later, I said, "I think I'm going to throw up."  She quickly took him over to be weighed and measured and cleaned up, and Sam came over to distract me.  I don't know what it is about the process of being sewn up, but they said there would be a miserable few minutes and then I would feel better.  They were right.

He weighed 9 lbs, 14 oz, just like Ellery, and was 21 and a quarter inches long.  As soon as I didn't feel sick anymore, the nurse brought him back to me, and I so appreciated how quickly they had him next to me.  The whole team was determined to keep him close to me as much as possible as soon as possible.  That's what I loved about my doctor and my hospital; they were focused on what's best and healthiest for the baby, even in the event of a c-section.

Soon we were wheeled into the recovery room where Abel nursed.  The baby nurse and another nurse stayed with us to keep track of our vitals and make sure Abel's blood sugar wasn't too low.  His first couple readings were a little low so they just encouraged me to nurse more.  Thankfully, my body knows how to nurse.  And my babies know how to nurse.  So he nursed and nursed and soon his blood sugar levels were in the safe zone.

After two hours in recovery, we got to go back to our room.  I felt elated, and so thankful that everything was okay.  I was also pretty tired, but enjoyed nursing Abel and watching Sam fall head over heels in love with his son.  I couldn't believe how much he looked like Ellery.  I think Ellery has changed so much since she was a newborn baby, but as soon as I saw Abel, it was like a flashback in time to Ellery's first days.  When he cried and nursed and slept, I was reminded of her.  And it made me so happy to think of how much they look alike already, and how happy I was to be giving her a sibling.  It also made me miss her a lot.

The rest of the day was lots of time being checked on by nurses, and lots of nursing and cuddling and welcoming visitors.  Ellery didn't want much to do with her brother, which seemed pretty natural for a nineteen month-old.  She didn't understand why I was holding another baby, and just wanted me to hold her.

The hardest part was being separated in the hospital.  My mom and Sam traded off taking care of Ellery and helping me with Abel.  They brought her to the hospital as much as possible, and she had fun running around the halls.  It was the first time I'd ever spent a night away from her since she was born.  Fortunately, we only ended up staying two nights!

When I first got pregnant with Ellery, I had such high hopes of a natural birth.  I really wanted the chance to try it.  When that didn't happen, I hoped that I'd get to try a VBAC with Abel, and maybe have a natural birth the second time.  After determining his head was a full 4 weeks bigger than it ought to be, my doctor told me she would support me if I wanted to try a VBAC, but said that with how big his head was, we would probably wind up having an emergency c-section, which is not as safe as one that is planned.  I let go of those dreams of natural birth, and accepted that it's just not meant to be for me.  If I tried to have natural births, there's a good chance my children or I would have had critical medical issues.  I probably would have been one of the women that died in childbirth back before modern medicine made Cesareans possible.  Or my babies wouldn't have survived.  So for that reason, I'm thankful for the way my babies were born.  After all, isn't a healthy baby and mother the end goal anyway?

My recovery was easy and quick.  I had very little pain.  The first time I stood up, which was the same day Abel was born, I didn't have any pain at all.  I had two nurses standing next to me as I pushed myself out of bed, ready to catch me if I fell over from the pain.  But I stood easily, happily surprised at how great I felt.  I only had one moment when I had pretty strong pain, but that passed fairly quickly.  It makes such a huge difference when the surgery is planned and you're able to rest beforehand, and not be on pitocin, because I think that's why I felt so great.  Not to mention, I have two beautiful babies and my lady parts are still fully intact.  Like, I can totally jump on a trampoline and sneeze without peeing my pants.  So you know, pros and cons.  C-sections aren't the most horrible thing in the world, especially when done at a hospital that is so focused on doing everything in the baby's best interest.

And now my baby boy is nine months old!  And I can't imagine our family without him in it.  We love you, little mister!  So thankful you picked us.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

ellery says

Two year-olds say the funniest things.

A few of the latest things Ellery has said:

When Abel kept crawling toward her toys that she did not want him to play with, "Abel's a monster!"

Often if we tell Ellery, "You're a munchkin!" or "You're a monkey!" she answers with, "I not a munchkin, I'm Ellery!"  But then she started saying, "I not a munchkin, I'm a panda bear!"  No idea where this came from, but we're hoping it lasts.

While I was changing my clothes, she said, "Mommy, you're cute!"  That did wonders for my self-esteem that day, and went a long way toward my accepting my flabby, stretch-marked, mom tummy.  (Pretty sure Sam put her up to this one.)

Right before going down the slide at the park, she said, "Mommy, behave for daddy!"  (Pretty sure Sam put her up to this one, too.)

When I asked her if she wanted to go to Target, she said no, which was strange, because she usually loves Target.  I asked her where she wanted to go instead and, after thinking for a moment, she said, "Scotland."  Hashtag futureworldtraveler.

This one is more sweet than funny.  As I was tucking her in one night, she said, "Can you keep me safe?  Can you protect me?  Can you snuggle me to keep me safe?"  Yes, my heart melted.

Abel has been practicing standing a lot, so I was explaining to Ellery that soon he'd be walking and running and playing with her.  She bent down and got close to his face and said, in a very motivational tone, "Oh Abel, you can't give up!"

She's in a toddler bed now, so once when I was tucking her in, I put her comforter over her and said, "You're snug as a bug in a rug."  Now she calls her comforter (and all other big blankets) a "snug-in-bug."  "Where's my snug-in-bug?"  "Put my snug-in-bug on."

Once when she was misbehaving, I scolded her and she started laughing.  Frustrated, I told her, "Ellery, I'm serious, knock it off!  I'm not playing!"  She grinned mischievously and said, "I'm playing!"  And she kept laughing and misbehaving.  (I am totally in control as a  mom.  Also, that sound you hear is my own mother laughing.  It seems I have a daughter who is as sassy as I was.  Mom, if I haven't said it already, I'm sorry for my sassy mouth.)

Here's hoping she also gets my delightful sense of humor, that makes up for the sassiness,  (Now that's Sam laughing.)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Spontaneous Thought on a Rainy Day

He wakes at 4:30 to nurse, and finally falls back to sleep at 5:30.  Resigned, I get out of bed, knowing that I can either sleep a little longer or get a shower and a few minutes to myself before the chaos of the day begins.  It's unlikely I'll get a shower if I don't take make the most of the opportunity.  I make some coffee and read a little in my Bible, and in my book about mothering, while Abel sleeps next to me on the couch.  Ellery wakes at 7, and the day officially begins.  Between the two of them, I hardly have a moment to sit down.  When I get Ellery in her chair for lunch, Abel is finally sleeping and there are toys and books and laundry covering the living room floor.  The living room that was spotless in the still-dark hours this morning when I read my Bible and drank my coffee in the quiet.

It's rainy and gray, and I feel like I haven't accomplished anything.  Yesterday seemed so productive, and I felt like I was able to give enough attention to Ellery and Abel.  Today I feel like I'm failing both of them.  The day isn't even half over and I feel defeated.

I lay her down for her nap, grateful that I can perhaps have a few minutes to eat lunch while they both sleep.  But as I shut the door to her bedroom, I hear Abel stirring.  Time to nurse again.  Finally he sleeps again and I eat lunch, only to be interrupted by a crying girl.  She still hasn't fallen asleep.

So I put down my salad and ignore those hunger pains in my stomach, and go get Ellery.  The nurse in the hospital warned me that my oldest might regress and act like a baby again now that she isn't the baby anymore.  But she hasn't started crawling again or resorted to baby talk.  She's as smart and active as ever.  No, the way she has regressed has been in sleep.

Sleep, easily the biggest challenge we've had with this girl.  From the moment she was born, she hated sleep.  It wasn't until now, having Abel, that I realize just how much Ellery struggled with sleep.  Abel fell asleep during tummy time and I was shocked.  He doesn't spend half an hour crying before falling asleep every single time.  It isn't a battle to get him to go to sleep.  And in talking to friends, I hear that Abel is fairly normal in this newborn sleep game.  I knew Ellery had a hard time with sleep, but I didn't realize just how much of a difference it makes to have a baby that actually sleeps.

So during a life transition, she regresses to her biggest challenge.  And yes, I'm pretty sure that's true of me, too.  A big change, one that I didn't ask for or hope for, always seems to bring forth those parts of me that I struggle with the most.

Ellery is standing in her crib and says, "Rock baby?"  Normally I'd say no, but today I just want her to nap.  She has skipped her nap far too often in the past few weeks, and tonight she'll be up later than normal, so I need her to nap.  I'm in that desperate, whatever-it-takes mode.

And so I pick her up and take her to the glider and we rock.  And within minutes, my sweet, precious baby girl is sleeping.  Her body feels so long across my lap, now that I have a newer baby to compare it to.  I study her face, so innocent and cherub-like while she rests.  And I think my heart will burst with how much I love her.  She's growing so fast, and every time I look at Abel I think that it must have been just a few months ago that Ellery was his size.

And while I rock with her, I read on my Kindle a book that talks about giving thanks to God even when we don't want to, even on our bad days.  Today feels like a bad day, but it really isn't.  It's just a day that hasn't lined up in the easiest way for me, and it's normally a day that I'd call Sam to complain about.  And then I lay her in her crib, and as I shut the door, I remember a poem I read on a friend's blog the other day.  A poem about how we get so excited as parents for our babies' firsts, and we never know when we'll experience the lasts.

I cried when I read the poem, because it's so true.  Right now I'm still in those precious years when my children are so little, and I know someday I'll miss these years.  I'll miss Ellery's tiny baby voice, and the way her hand clasps my finger as we walk down stairs.  I'll miss the way she says "Mommy."  But probably more than anything, I'll miss the way it feels to have my babies fall asleep in my arms, as if I'm their ultimate comfort and place of safety here on earth.

And as I shut the door to her room, it hit me that God allowed at least one more time for me to rock her to sleep.  I thought I'd already experienced the last time she fell asleep in my arms.  Maybe this will happen again, or maybe this really was the last time.  And if it is the last, I want to savor it and be thankful, rather than complain.  No, she didn't fall asleep on her own the way I hoped she would.  But there is still something to be incredibly thankful for - a sweet moment with my first baby, a memory I can recall and appreciate when she's too big to need her mommy to sleep.

Thank you, Lord.