February 8, 2018

My Birth Story: Adalaide

            Disclaimer: This is a story I have been debating on sharing, because it was particularly hard for me emotionally. I originally wrote this a few weeks after Addie was born, so the emotions are quite raw. Please be mindful and respectful if you decide to leave a comment. 
In the weeks leading up to her coming I was frequently having practice contractions for two hours at a time. I started having some contractions Sunday night and off and on slept through them. Around 7:30am September 4th (Monday) they started getting stronger and I no longer could sleep through them. I decided to get up and shower and get myself together. We had been joking that we wanted her to come Labor day weekend since it was a 3 day weekend for Garett. At my last appointment my doctor had said that she didn't think I was going to make it to my due date, let alone my next appointment.

           I was roughly timing the contractions and they were about 4-5 minutes apart, but I wanted to eat and walk around before I decided if it was labor or not. Sometimes after a hot shower or eating, practice contractions subside. I chatted with my sister about whether or not they were real while starting some laundry. They weren't overly intense, but enough that I had to stop and breathe a little each time. After about 3 hours I decided they probably weren’t going away and I should call the doctor. My parents were on vacation as their last hurrah before Addie was born since we knew we wanted my mom to come and help after she was born. The doctor told me to go to the hospital and get checked. So we loaded up stuff for me and baby girl just in case and all headed over to the hospital.

           We took Joshua in case it was false labor and had to go home. They got us registered and I spelled Adalaide’s name wrong because I had to talk between contractions. They took me upstairs to get checked. I was at a 4 and 80% effaced. When I had went in the week before, I was at a 3 and 50% effaced. They wanted to keep me for at least 30 mins and have the doctor check me to see if I progressed. I quickly moved to a 5 and then a 6 and was 90% effaced. They decided to keep me and we had a family from church come to get Joshua. I got an epidural, which seemed more uncomfortable and slower than I remember. It seemed so much faster and easier with Joshua. Also they put my IV in a side vein on my left hand despite my trying to tell them which vein to use and then it was sore for so long and I couldn’t relax because my arm ached. I have very sensitive skin. (I hate needles and IVs are cringe worthy. I have really poor veins for IV's because even with putting a band on, my veins are really hard to see. Over the years I have learned that the vein on the top of my left hand consistently works best and hurts the least, but the woman put the IV in the side of my left wrist near the bone and gosh it is hard not to move that part of your wrist!)

I got my epidural and they had me try lying on my side and back to see if it helped anything. Addie’s heart rate started dropping when my contractions would come, instead of speeding up. She stayed at a -1 the whole time. I progressed pretty nicely in every other aspect. The doctor broke my water to try and help encourage her to come down. I got to a 9 and completely effaced, but she wouldn’t have me push because Addie was too far up. She had me labor on my side, but they didn’t put me in a very good position so I could still feel contractions and it hurt. It was rather miserable, but at least it was faster. Finally when the doctor went to check again, Addie’s heart rate dropped for about 5 minutes and my doctor got really worried and recommended that we consider a C-section. You might be able to imagine how I felt when she said that. I so desperately wanted a vbac. I was so close!

           Part of me still wonders if I should have insisted trying longer, but we had already pushed it of a few times already. The risks of a vbac only really risk losing the baby. The mother will be fine, but you can lose your baby and I just wanted her safe and sound. I wish I had taken more time to decide, but I was so tired. Garett and I said a prayer together that she would be okay and come safely. I cried because once again I was failing. My body wasn't doing what it was supposed to; my baby wasn't coming down. I thought I had been open minded that it might not work, but in my heart I wanted that normal birth. Even still it is hard to see those pictures of moms getting to hold their baby as soon as they come out. I always have to wait hours and it kills me.

            Once we decided to do a C-section, they upped my epidural, and took me down the hall to the OR. It seemed scarier this time. Maybe because, while tired, I was still more alert than last time. It looked so cold and scary. They put me on the table, put up the curtain. I remember feeling so cold. It was sad, exciting and familiar. They did a test to see if I could feel anything. I was good to go.

            There was an annoying doctor that told me it would feel like tugging (they always say that and it does feel that way). I’m sure he was just trying to do his job, but he was not very encouraging. Last time it felt like side to side tugging, this time if felt more up and down and felt really weird.    

They got her out, I heard her cry! They took her to a table to the side to be weighed. She came in at a perfect 6 lbs 3 oz and 19 inches at 5:08pm. She was beautiful and not as dirty as I remember Joshua being. Garett got to walk over and see her. I stared in awe at my beautiful Adalaide May. I loved watching her, I didn't get to with Joshua. They wrapped her up for me to see and Garett brought her over. She was absolutely perfect! She had lots of dark brown hair. They needed to take her away and check some stuff and they asked Garett if he wanted to go. I told him it was okay, looking back I wish I hadn’t. They started to process of putting me back together and this is where it got scary. 

             My heart rate started to rise part way through and I knew something was wrong, but no one was about to tell me. I found out later a blood vessel had broken and my doctor couldn’t find where the blood was coming from so she called in another doctor to help. I lost about a liter of blood. All I knew is that something felt wrong. The annoying doctor kept telling me to try and slow my breathing. I was scared, I thought I was going to pass out. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. I asked the doctor to talk to me, he sucked at it. I was so scared I was going to pass out. This lasted awhile, me saying something felt off and him telling me to slow my breathing. The thing is, your heart automatically starts pumping harder when something is wrong, I felt like I couldn’t control it. I felt like I was lying on that table forever. I kept asking for warm blankets. They didn’t have the nice heating tubes like with Joshua. I felt nauseous to add to all to it all and had to keep asking them to move the blankets and my robe away from my neck or I would puke. The one good thing is that I didn’t throw up this time. I swear I was on that table forever.

             Eventually they finished, moved me back to my bed and wheeled me to my room. Garett came in eventually and brought Addie. My epidural was so strong that it was up through my arms a good bit so I couldn’t really hold her well, though somehow I still felt the ache of that dang IV.

             They tried to switch me to morphine while my epidural wore off. Note to self: morphine does nothing for me. They gave me around 4 doses or so before they realized that it was doing nothing, meanwhile my epidural was wearing off quickly. Did you know you still have contractions after a C-section? They don’t magically go away right away. So I felt the lovely pain of a 10. It hurt so much and I told them at least a thousand times I swear. They had to talk to my doctor and try to get other medication approved, but they had to be careful of what they gave me because of the blood vessel bursting and the C-section. Eventually they got something approved and I started to feel better.

I felt like I didn’t get to enjoy holding Addie until around 8pm (3 hours after she was born). My mom headed up around 6pm and got there around 9:30pm. Her and my dad had been enjoying a weekend away and had to rush home so my mom could come up. Garett went and got Joshua and took him home. My mom stayed the night with me and then headed to the house the next morning around 6am so Garett could get to class. (Oh the joys of having a kid while your husband is in grad school!) She brought Joshua by later on in the day and I enjoyed holding Addie as much as I could without distractions. Joshua was okay with Addie, but not fully sure what to make of her. 

             The hospital stay was okay. I had one awesome night nurse the first night who was so sweet. They kept asking me if I wanted them to take Adalaide so I could sleep. I don't know how other moms are but I always refused. I spent 9 months waiting for her and just underwent being cut open again just to meet her. I was not about to let her go for anything. The second night I spent alone and I hated it. Garett still had school and my mom and I agreed she should stay at the house so she could be with Joshua in the morning. I'm glad she could, but being alone in the hospital was miserable. Maybe it was because I was trying to cope with having another c-section and being left alone with your own thoughts while sleep deprived is a terrible idea. Luckily we headed home the next day (Wednesday). I was working hard on trying to stand up relatively straight (any c-section moms will know, you hobble around the first week because you literally can't stand up straight).

             While happy to be home, it was definitely harder this time. Garett still had school and Joshua couldn't understand why I couldn't play with him on the floor. Sometimes I did anyway and always regretted it. By Friday I stopped the intense pain medication, because it was too strong and I felt like I couldn't think straight. I made do with a mild pain medication (why did they not have a medium prescription? Oh well). Despite all that, Adalaide was a great eater and started sleeping through the night at 2 weeks old (and she still does!).

I love Addie. She is my angel. I wish her birth story wasn't so hard for me to deal with. She is so incredibly sweet and the happiest baby ever. She rarely cries and loves to be held. I am thankful she came safe and sound into this world. I have needed her far more than she may ever know. She has been such a blessing and watching her and Joshua interact has made my heart grow infinitely more. I think I will question my choices for her birth for a long time, but at least the ache has dulled with some time. Regardless of her story of arrival, I will never regret having her. I love this sweet angel on mine and the joy and love she has added to our family.


January 9, 2018

Some Thoughts On Nursing

I want to start out saying I am not here to condemn people. I understand there are circumstances out of people's control where they cannot breastfeed. I will say though, that I am pro breast feeding and I hope that all mothers at the very least try to breast feed if they can.

I have had quite the mixture of emotions while breastfeeding. Now nursing my second child, I feel like I have a much better grasp on things. So I want to talk about what I learned personally that no doctor ever seemed to tell me.

1. Sometimes babies don't know how to latch properly. I had this problem with Joshua. He struggled for the first few months with latching and we had to go to a lactation consultant and honestly he was partially on formula for the first month of his life until I discovered nipple shields that helped him latch.

2. Birth control can change your milk supply. My doctors vaguely mentioned this, but I had no clue what they meant and they put me on a stronger birth control that dried me up. As soon as I realized this I had to hurry and get my prescription changed.

3. Nursing hurts! Gosh it hurts and between that and my son not latching and my milk supply drying up, I had a really rough start. (And it hurt the 2nd time too for the first month with Addie, though maybe not as bad?). I have to say a HUGE thank you to my mother! She pushed me and encouraged me and I am SO glad she did! No one told me that nursing would hurt or be hard and I clearly did not research things because I thought things would come naturally. HA!

4. There are a lot of ways to get your supply back up. With Joshua (and Addie) I have used fenugreek  (it's an herb that no one really understands, but it helps boost your milk supply) and it works! I took 9 capsules a day for a few weeks and pumped 30 minutes after every nursing, 10 minutes on each side. I literally pulled my milk from being less than an ounce to filling more bottles than I could ever use (with Joshua).

5. If you have extra milk, freeze it! I wish I had done this with Joshua. I had so much milk for the first 6 months, but as he got older my body struggled to keep up and I really wish I stored some of that milk. This time around I feel like I have just the right amount though.

6. What you eat and how much you drink water very much affects your supply! On days where I don't eat a good lunch or drink enough water I can tell my supply isn't as good. I remember thinking with Joshua that personally I have to eat more when I'm nursing versus when I'm pregnant. Now I understand I am a petite person, so others may not struggle with this as much, but I need those calories to make milk.

7. Stress can affect your supply. I'm not sure why my supply dropped off at 6 months with my son. Maybe it dropped because of stress or maybe I wasn't eating enough, or maybe I just couldn't get Joshua to focus enough.

8. Nursing burns calories. I don't think it's all that much, but it is something to take into consideration, making sure you stay hydrated and knowing what is going on with your body can help.

10. Nursing is a beautiful bonding experience. I have a love hate relationship with nursing. It is tiresome and can be exhausting, but it is also a great bonding experience. It encourages you to hold your child more and I have more respect for my body because of it.

11. Guys our bodies are super cool! Not only do our bodies know exactly how to grow these perfect little people and form their hearts and eyes and all the sweetness, but our bodies continue to be able to feed our children! It has been so empowering knowing that my children grow from the milk my body makes. It's really cool!

12. Your milk is never the same! I actually only learned this recently, that when you nurse, it creates a vacuum and your baby's spit goes in and some receptors in your body read the spit like a chart and say "hey this baby needs more of this nutrient" and so your milk changes to fit the needs of your baby. You also give them antibodies which can help keep them from getting sick and if they do get sick, it can help them fight off their illness. Guys breast milk is amazing!

There are plenty of other interesting facts about breast feeding. This isn't supposed to be a lecture on breastfeeding, on the contrary I hope maybe someone who is about to be a mom or maybe someone who is struggling might read this and maybe they won't feel so alone.

I guess I wrote this because nursing can be hard! There are so many factors that can go into our ability to breastfeed. Seriously I cried for the first 2 weeks of Joshua's life because he wouldn't latch and everything hurt and I was scared he wouldn't grow. It has taken a lot of research and personal experience to overcome these challenges. More than ever I have been incredibly worried about Addie growing, because I know the struggles I had with Joshua (she's doing fine by the way). But guys it's okay if it's hard. If you're at home crying being like "am I the only one struggling?" no you aren't.

I really wish people would talk more about nursing, giving birth and pregnancy. Now having had gestational diabetes with Addie, moving across the country, changing insurance in the middle of both my pregnancies and having had 2 c-sections, I kind of feel like I've been through a lot.

I'd like to hear from other moms of their experiences of being able to breastfeed or maybe not being able to. Did anyone else feel like they weren't given enough information?

I'm wish y'all all the success in the world!