Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Adjusting to motherhood

I'm not sure why some people strongly disapproved of my decision to take my daughter to church Sunday.  One woman told me my child would die and it would be my fault.  I know it's winter and flu season, so I didn't bring her to Primary and I kept her covered.  Today was her first doctors appointment, and I'm pretty sure the pediatric waiting room is more dangerous than church.  I kept her covered there too.

She now weighs exactly seven pounds.  All infants loose weight when they are born but typically gain back to their birth weight by two weeks.  Andrea still a little shy of her birth weight so the doctor will check her next week just to insure she's still gaining.  She's in the 13th percentile for weight and the 76th percentile for height.  Tall and skinny, just like her dad.

Adjusting to being a mom was more difficult than I thought it would be.  Although I'd been told it'd be exhausting and demanding, the reality of motherhood seemed clouded over by my overactive imagination.  I pictured lots of cuddling, cooing, rainbows, and ponies.  There is some of that.  But between cuddles and rainbows, there is lots of worry, paranoia, nursing, and poop. Our first three nights home Andrea and I spend the entire nights awake and wrestling to understand each other.  I picked her up for every squeak and grunt, interrupting her sleep and causing her to be overstimulated.

The fourth night was a breakthrough thanks to some needed advice from my mom.  We finally got some sleep and my mothering confidence, which was in the toilet before, started to rise.  A routine formed shortly after and I discovered I have a pretty good little sleeper.  Thank heavens!

Breastfeeding has been hard which I was anticipating, but not quite in the way I thought.  I had heard so many stories of painful latches, bleeding, blisters, bruises, and babies starving from lack of milk.  Well, Andrea is a natural and aside from a little soreness the first day or two, I've had no pain.  Her latch is perfect and she's not a biter.  As far as milk production is concerned, I'm a cow.  Go figure.

The difficult part about nursing is my overinflated sense of modesty.  The first few days home I'd be sitting in my rocking chair feeding my child when spontaneous visitors would knock on the door.  Paul would scramble to find a blanket to cover me with whilst I panicked.  I had a friend give me a nursing cover that has saved my life over the holidays.  However, because it has a little U-shaped boning at the top which allows to me to peek adoringly at the bundle of preciousness in my arms, anyone else standing above me can also see down my business too.  I typically nurse sitting down so I feel very self conscious as people walk around and behind me.  I try to avoid nursing in public even with the cover because of how uncomfortable I feel.

My whole world currently revolves around Andrea's eating schedule.  That has been quite the adjustment.  If I feed her and leave her with Paul while I grocery shop or whatnot, I find myself watching the clock the entire time I'm away from her wondering if she is at home wailing for her cow mother.  Going places with her is insane fun.  I try to feed her right before we leave, giving a good two hours before she'll want to eat again, but by the time I pack the diaper bag, search for my phone, strap her in her car seat, re-find the diaper bag, calm her car seat protests with binky, head to the front door, I have to use the bathroom and I've wasted a good half hour or 45 minutes of the between feeding time.  We haven't even left the house.  So, I'm learning to do the baby prep work beforehand.  I have to do some deep breathing just thinking about this.

I've spent a few moments crying, feeling so inadequate, wondering if my imperfections will ruin this little dependent person.  We brought her home and I spent hours staring at her, believing if I blinked my little elven child would disappear.  When she cried I picked her up awkwardly and slowly, afraid she would shatter in my arms.  I've lifted up her little bum during a diaper change only to have her pee all over herself.  I've sat on my bed across from Paul taking his turn soothing Andrea at four in the morning asking myself why I ever thought I'd have something to offer as a mom, and I thank heaven that she won't remember how clumsy and inexperienced I was when she came.  I've wondered if there was a mistake made and if my little blessing was intended for a better mom who wasn't quite as Kayla-ish as I am.

But then. . . she looks up at me with her shiny eyes and crinkled forehead and I fall madly in love all over again, and my heart fills with gratitude for this chance I've been given.  I need her now, just as much as she needs me and I wouldn't change that for the world!

Whoa, enough of all that sap.  Enjoy some Christmas pictures!

 It was Andrea's first Christmas and I helped her open her presents.
Some good looking dads, Andrea, and her cousin Jax.  He's four months older than her.  It's crazy to think she'll be that big in a few months.
 Andrea wearing the Christmas bow they gave her in the hospital.

Napping with Grandma Rowberry after an exhausting day.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Birth on a half birthday

Sunday night was my due date and the thought of having a baby any time soon was fastly fleeing.  With a doctors appointment on Monday I prepared myself for the news that my body wasn't progressing and that an induction might be necessary.  As much as I wanted to hold my daughter, I also wanted to deliver naturally and I'd heard horror stories about the pain that comes from pitocin induced labors.  My best chance to deliver naturally was to labor naturally.  I went to bed feeling sad.

At one o'clock I was awakened by a new sensation I'd not had before.  My abdomen was tightening like it had been for the last few days but this time it was accompanied by sharp cramping pain.  I breathed through it and watched the clock to see if it happened again.  Seven minutes later I experienced what I was guessing another real contraction.  I turned on to my side facing my alarm clock and watched it closely, taking note of the time between.  By two they were six minutes apart and about a minute long.  At three, they were five minutes apart.

At 3:17 I tapped Paul's shoulder and told him that we might have a baby today.  He grunted.  "Paul, I'm having contractions every five minutes and they hurt," I elaborated.  He was instantly awake asking what we should do.  I had a few things left to pack in the overnight bag and I wanted to tidy my kitchen.  Paul showered and between contractions I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher.  At about four I called my mom and we loaded up into the car, me in a bundle of nerves.  This had to be it!  Otherwise, arousing my husband and folks to adrenaline-induced wakefulness at four in the morning for nothing was something I couldn't live down.

We checked in at the front desk and were sent to a holding room to be monitored and analyzed.  I was in real labor.  The endorphin rush of such exciting moment was short lived because contraction pain was beginning to seize my body.  I couldn't speak or move and breathing took all my focus.  I was feeling nauseated from skipping dinner the night before and I was given a tall cup of apple juice which I threw up within minutes of finishing.  My body started to tremor.  No one mentioned these symptoms to me and I was unprepared for their arrival.  I knew things were only going to get worse, so I asked my mom if she'd be disappointed if I got help for the pain.  She laughed at me!  "Do whatever you want!" she said nonchalantly, supporting me no matter what I chose.

A nurse came in to take me to a delivery suit and, feeling defeated, I asked for an epidural.

Which was. . . AMAZING!!  With my pain gone I could relax, joke, nap, and enjoy family around me as I prepared to hear the magic pushing news.

Pushing was an interesting sensation.  Imagine the worse constipation possible.  Multiply that by 12.8 and add an indescribably strong urge to excrete the blockage.  That's pushing in nutshell.  My epidural was beginning to wear off a bit and although I had a button to increase the dosage, I chose not to.  I wanted to be able to feel if I was pushing.  This turned out to be very useful.  As the baby moved down into the birth canal the monitors were having trouble picking up the contractions because (apparently) I have an odd shaped uterus.  The nurses called it my funky fundal.  Thankfully, I could feel the building pressure and could let my midwife know when I wanted to push.  I pushed for an hour or so, and then, just as I thought I had maxed out all of my energy. . .

Andrea Jane arrived
on 12/13/10 (my half-birthday)
at 2:12 P.M.
weighing 7 lbs. 2 oz.
20 inches long!

Babies don't like that eye goop.
Our first moment, skin to skin.
I had some minor tearing, so small they were having trouble finding it.  I kept bleeding while they poked and prodded and sopped and stitched.  Thank heavens I had an epidural during that!  Afterwards, I had lost so much blood that I couldn't sit up without turning green.  They monitored my blood pressure for hours, the cuff going off every five minutes, and they pumped me with bag after bag of saline solution.  The family got to hold my baby while I recovered.

Happy first-time daddy!
Wednesday morning we got to go home.  That made it feel so official.  She was ours!

And we like her A LOT!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Waiting must be part of labor 'cause it's hard work

 Due date.  I know it's just a guess and having my baby a little early or late doesn't bother me as long as she's in my arms by Christmas.  At least, that's how I use to feel.  Tuesday I went to see my midwife and I finally let her check my cervix and all the joy that comes with that.  She's been asking for about three weeks now if I wanted her to do it, and I repeatedly turned down the chance.  However, I was getting pretty close to my due date so I caved.  She excitedly put on a rubber glove, told me it was about to feel cold, and there might be some pressure.  He. . . he. . .

She was surprised to find me three centimeters dilated and 80% effaced, and she said my cervix was really soft.  We went ahead and made an appointment for me to come in on Monday (the day after my due date) just in case I didn't deliver over the weekend, but my midwife said she thought I'd have the baby by then.  I was stunned at her prediction.  I hadn't washed baby clothes yet or even packed the hospital bag because delivery had seemed so far away.  I went home-- I called my mom. I told my mother-in-law. I scared my husband.  Something was sinking into me.

Up to that point the reality of my circumstance hadn't hit me, but like a bucket of ice water splashed in my face, I was now confronting the fact that I wouldn't be pregnant for the rest of my life.  Tuesday morning giving birth seemed like some abstract idea from an episode of a sci-fi thriller; Tuesday afternoon it became reality and it was knocking at my door.  Wednesday I panicked and began final preparations.  During my first class I started feel contractions that came at regular intervals but died down by noon.  Thursday I walked and walked and walked.  I avoided sitting down, I crawled when at all possible hoping my baby would turn around so I could avoid back labor.  I did three loads of laundry, packed the overnight bag, nearly finished the baby quilt, and hiked two or three miles on campus.

At about three o'clock contractions started again and continued to come every ten minutes.  While they weren't especially painful, just uncomfortable, all the activity was wearing me down.  My stomach got more achy and tense as the evening passed.  It was like someone was standing behind me pulling the strings to an invisible corset and every ten minutes they gave an extra strong pull.  I was excited, nervous, and confused.  Excited because I could feel things happening in my body, nervous because I didn't know what to expect next, and confused because I didn't know if it was real labor or something else.  I decided to sleep on it.  If it persisted through out the night and intensified I would wake up my wheezing husband and give him the famous line I'd see in all the movies: "It's time!"

I woke up three times in the night from abdominal discomfort.  The contractions were slowing down considerably, and by the time the sun peeked over the mountains. . . That's a beautiful image, but it was actually rainy and dark. . . by the time my phone alarm started beeping at seven the contractions were all but gone.  It is Friday evening; they have not persisted much today.

Five days ago I was patient, oblivious to the fact that I'd ever deliver.  But I've since been plagued with the realization that any moment could be the moment.  It has been my ruin.  This is why I waited for so long to get my cervix checked.  I knew myself and I knew that it would effect me intensely.  This afternoon I have sat alone stewing in my own thoughts and trying not to cry.  I wish I wasn't here alone.  I wish Paul was home.  I made him soup.  At four.  I was too restless to wait 'til eight, which is his expected time of arrival.  And I made him a pie too. . . that I've had to wrestle my sorry self away from all day.

As I sat at the counter this afternoon studying for finals, my little baby played a round of Dance Dance Revolution on my rib cage.  My stomach rolled and squirmed with her movements and I began talking to her, which admittedly I haven't done a lot thus far.  I told her I loved her and I promised to take care of her.  I told her that she was miraculous and how happy she's made me in the few short months she's been apart of me.  And I let her know, as awesome as I am, she has a daddy and some grandparents who would like me to share her.  Just sayin'

We'll see if that conversation does any good.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Thursday morning Paul decided to help himself to a bowl of cereal.  This is not common as he prefers toast or something warm for breakfast and most mornings goes without it completely because neither of us have the time or energy to wake up and cook something.  He must have been desperate that day.  He peaked into the pantry and frowned.  "Do we have any good cereal?"  He asked.  I inquired as to what he meant.  Wrinkling his nose he said, "All we have are fiber cereals."  Poor guy.  I bet he's wishing he had a more exciting wife right about now.  But I believe there is a method to my madness.  I am preparing him for retirement.  As his bachelors program is coming to a close and feelings of accomplishment are setting in, realizing that you've worked for so long only to help you work another 40 years can seem discouraging.  Believing retirement to be boring and full of long days eating nothing but high fiber cereal might help him enjoy working hard for a few more years in order to buy exciting food, like frosted shredded wheat, in the future.  See?  I'm so selfless!

Okay, the high fiber cereal was bought for me.  I think it tastes good.  And it keeps me regular.  I know, too much information, but my midwife said that staying regular can help me go into labor in a timely fashion, and I'm all about that!

This week I've been really pushing myself to finish all my assignments for the semester, even if they aren't due quite yet.  Yesterday, I printed off the last one and all I have to do is study for finals.  This baby can come anytime she is ready.