How long have I had poo on my hand?

Some questions I have asked myself over the past couple of weeks:

1. How long have I had baby poo on my hand?!  It had been awhile since the last changing :/ Changing tables should have sinks attached.

2. Will I ever blow dry my hair again?

3. Shower, eat or sleep? The clock is ticking!!

4. Why is she crying? How can I get her to stop??

5. What day of the week is it?

6. Is she crying, or am I hearing things, or dreaming?

Leia is really a good baby. I am still getting a decent amount of sleep. It is amazing how constantly I care for her though. I of course knew that would be the case, but are you ever really prepared for a life change like this? Really it is more than a change of circumstances, it has totally changed me! It is amazing how both very easy and difficult it is to put her first and take care of her 24/7. It is totally natural and I can’t imagine doing anything else, but it is also overwhelming too. Like with the labor, I sometimes feel like “is this really me doing all this?” Before I go to sleep I worry what if I fall asleep so hard I don’t hear her? At three AM I feel so groggy when I do hear her I wonder how I can get up and take care of her, but as soon as I go in and pick her up somehow I am capable of feeding and changing and all that. It is a wonderful moment when I see her little face scrunched up and crying and as soon as I pick her up she stops (not that it always works that way, but most of the time in the night she just wants to eat and must know the food is delivered when I get there!)

The feeding I would say is the biggest thing right now. It is pretty constant and I feel our lives revolve around it. No matter what is going on she needs to eat when she needs to eat, regardless of who is in town or what I want to do. I have to find some kind of privacy and stop everything. We have not seemed to have real difficulty yet with breastfeeding though, so for that I am thankful. I am also thankful for the mom and daughter moments that it guarantees too. I mean it is pretty much the mom and daughter show all the time I suppose, but there is something special about those times when I feed her. It is just sometimes I do feel like more of a milk machine than a person. I am really not a fan of the milk leakage. Changing her diaper at 3 am one night I feel something dripping on my foot. At first I think “is she peeing on me?” I survey the scene and realize this just isn’t possible, I mean even if she was a boy this would not be possible. Then I think “is there a leak in the ceiling?” Mystified I start looking up at the ceiling wondering how their could be a leak when it isn’t even raining and then I realize, oh the leak is coming from me! A lot of thinking for a 3 AM diaper change.

Life is still feeling kind of dream like though, all the sleepiness, fuzzy brain, and hygiene issues aside, I can’t believe she is here and she is mine. I can’t believe I get to take care of her every day. It has been hard to find a routine with the healing process and also with so many relatives and friends visiting, but I know that will slowly unfold. I do what I can do when I can do it. I still keep lists just to remind myself of the things I want to get done when I get the chance and the energy to do something, but nothing on the list gets to be very urgent yet. Laundry seems to be the thing I have to do no matter what. Her little clothes get dirty fast and we are doing cloth diapers. I have really not found the cloth diapering to be too much of a challenge though and am happy with the choice to go that direction for sure. I would encourage anyone thinking about it to try it. I also use reusable wipes and find that easiest with the cloth diapers because it all just goes in the same diaper pail and washing machine.

One thing that really should be moved to urgent action item on my mental list is getting my non-pregnant clothes out! I have like two pairs of jeans and three shirts it seems like. I really don’t want to be a total frump and I don’t want to wear my maternity clothes anymore, so a clothing shift needs to happen this week for sure. Happily, I really don’t think I gained much weight other than actual baby weight. The jeans I wore before I was preggy fit no problem. There was one good thing about that first trimester misery  in which I lost 10 pounds I suppose.

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The New To Do List

I am a list person. I am the kind of girl that loves crossing things off to do lists so much that if I do something not on a list, I might write it down just to cross it off! Well, motherhood has changed my lists for sure. I still try and make lists, my fuzzy mind scribbling the most simple things down so I won’t forget them, but it takes so much longer to get through the list, and in reality my daily list should look like this:

Sleep

Eat

Wash yourself and brush your teeth, change clothes at some point…

Stare at, and talk to that gorgeous little baby who seems to change everyday!

This seems to be about all I can really handle. There seems to be several reasons for this. First of all, though my peanut sleeps really well for a newborn I did just go through a 30 hour labor (see my last post for gory details) and I figure I am working off a sleep deficit while not sleeping through the night and trying to let my body heal. Sometimes I will do a burst of work of some kind or go somewhere and then bam I am hit with major fatigue. Plus, there is the soreness from the stitches and such, so I can only move so much. Then of course there is my main priority Leia Juliet. I am learning how to care for her, and she needs to eat every 2-3 hours in general. This pretty much immobilizes me at this point since we are both getting the hang of it (can’t wait until we can do that while she is in the Moby wrap and I am standing up, I will feel like a breastfeeding pro when that day comes!) and can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes, depending on her hunger or how hard she is to get to stay awake.  Gotta get her to burp, and then at least one diaper change after each feeding of course and then I have to help her go down for a nap or at least be in a peaceful state before I can sit her down. The process takes a while and has to be done when it needs to be done pretty much. Confession, I was so starving today (also comes with the breastfeeding) I let her cry for like five minutes while I gobbled some food, I felt dizzy and she quieted herself anyway :).  I love her so much and I love getting to know her and take care of her, but you can see how this gets in the way of a to do list. Finally, there are the emotions. I stare at Leia all the time, but sometimes that makes me cry! She is so awesome and it is just so overwhelming that she is mine and came out of me! Then there is the crying that comes from nowhere and seems to make no sense. I thought pregnancy made me emotional, but the postpartum emotions are way more intense.  I don’t feel depressed, many times I am crying happy tears, but I don’t know it is what it is right now I guess.

So there is a new rhythm to my life I have to get used to, and I get the feeling that as soon as I do the rhythm might change again. Leia and I are growing and learning together right now and I know I need to give myself grace in this time and ask for guidance from the Lord everyday, not only on how to best care for her, but how much I should do. I want to get out and get with other people so we don’t get isolated, but I also need to heal and rest too, so I definitely need balance, and maybe to lay off the lists for a while, or limit myself to only so many action items a day.

Leia’s Journey (The birth story)

Let me preface this all by saying I am really thankful in the end for my birth story. It was not the one I would have written to be sure, definitely did not match my birth plan, but I know it strengthened me and probably helped prepare me for the challenge of motherhood in some ways. I had to be stronger than I have ever had to be before to get this little girl into the world, I didn’t know I was capable of doing anything that difficult! Having said that, this entry may not be for the faint of heart.  The whole thing was a little traumatic! (oh and this post will be a bit on the long side too 🙂 At 6:00 AM Thursday April 7th,  I woke to my water breaking. I suppose that was when labor started. I had mild contractions all day and was in really good spirits, even when it got a little more serious in the evening I felt I was managing everything great and had high hopes for my birth experience. I was pretty calm and collected and happy she was coming early! Our doula Gracie Davis valiantly agreed to attend our birth even though she had just come from attending a difficult two day birth right before ours! I was so glad I waited at home for labor to get going all day Thursday as opposed to rushing to the hospital as soon as it broke. There was no need for me to go in (and little did I know how long I would be there in real labor anyway!) and it gave Gracie a chance to rest up a bit so she could be with us. So far my plan was on track, I wanted things to be progressing a bit quicker, but what pain I had I was on top of and I was calm and not running to the hospital. We headed to the hospital around 7:30 after traffic had died down. I was admitted, but not very dilated which discouraged me a bit, but I was still calm. The doctor’s and nurses were perfect, everyone read my birth plan right away and was so respectful towards us. Through what ended up being about 30 hours of hospital time I saw a lot of doctors and nurses, not one was grouchy or condescending. Every shift change I was assured my birth plan had been looked at without being asked and never did a doctor talk down to me or ignore me, they all patiently explained everything to me and why they recommended what they wanted to do. I am so thankful for my experience at Kaiser Sunset! I am not sure exactly how long, but for probably at least 20 hours or more I handled my contractions with out any medication.  Things got really intense and hard. Gracie and the nurse couldn’t be sure, but thought my baby was probably face up as opposed to the normal face down because all I had was “back labor” during that whole time. They ended up being right, Leia was sunny side up. If you are not familiar with this problem, normally babies come out with their faces down so what goes against your tail bone is the face and belly, the soft stuff, but if a baby is faced the other way what is going against your tail bone is her spine.  You can probably understand how this could complicate things and bring a lot of pain to your back during contractions! Gracie kept encouraging me and we tried different positions to see if we could alleviate the back labor and get Leia to turn. For a while having Gracie or David push on my lower back or squeeze my hips did help, but at some point it just got too be too much, I could hardly think straight enough to even try new positions and I felt so tired. I knew I was a long way off still from pushing and didn’t see how I could make it when the time came. I was shutting down and getting scared. Despite everyone’s efforts I asked for some help. The nurse suggested we try some morphine and then maybe I could get some rest and get back on track. I accepted and I knew I was deviating from my birth hopes and wasn’t sure what would happen next. I was kind of thinking I just didn’t want the pain to come back ever and I didn’t know if after some drugs I could kick the habit! Plus, the thought of morphine making it into my baby’s system didn’t excite me either, but I was feeling so exhausted at that point I felt something had to be done.  The nurse Erin that was with us through the night was awesome, lots of energy and very positive. She sat down by the bed after I decided to have the drugs and looked me in the eye and proceeded to tell me how amazing she thought I was and that she told the other nurses about me and how hard I was working, etc and basically made me feel a lot better about my decision to accept some interventions. Gracie and Erin both talked to me about how difficult this kind of labor is, and Erin said most women wouldn’t have made it this far. I took the drugs and got the sweetest thing in the world at that point – some sleep! Erin stood guard out front to make sure no one bothered us.

When I was coming to she and a doctor came in. The doctor explained to me that it had been 24 hours since my water broke and for some reasons my contractions had slowed down. She said she strongly encouraged the pitocin at this point, but said I was a part of this team too so she wanted me to make the call. Now going into the birth pitocin was one of the big things I wanted to avoid. Pitocin is a drug used to induce or augment labor, and it actually makes your contractions more intense and much harder to survive without drugs to help.  One more nail in the coffin of my birth plan! The doctor really wanted to do it because I was getting into the zone of possible infection for me or the baby since it had been so long since my water broke. I didn’t feel I had the knowledge to go against that and I consented. Again the staff was so great it really helped me feel better about the decision. It seemed like almost immediately the pain got worse, my morphine had worn off and the pitocin was kicking in, yuck! I was still totally exhausted, I don’t know the time but it was the middle of the night, I had technically been in labor since 6 AM and had hours of painful back labor I was crumbling. I was going to go for that darn epidural. I mean hey I had already had morphine and pitocin at that point anyway! So crying and hugging my arms around Erin’s neck I made it through those awful contractions while the anesthesiologist got the epidural going. I just wanted the pain to stop! FYI I didn’t feel any pain as far as the epidural went in case anyone reading wants to have one, I know the thought of a needle in your spine sounds awful, but it was no big deal. Of course at that point I don’t know what would be? I felt better but even after all that it was like it didn’t take in one side, the pain was still coming, I felt a little desperate, they called in another anesthesiologist and gave me a stronger drug and had me lay on my side, finally the pain went away and aaah more sleep!

Surely I was on my way  to at least some kind of end right? So things didn’t go as planned, but what was done was done and how bad could that pushing be after the drugs anyway, and that part shouldn’t take too long right?

I started pushing at 11:00 AM. I don’t know if the epidural wore off on its own or if they turned it down or what, I do remember at some point overhearing a nurse say “her epidural is out”, but anyway this part was NATURAL. I pushed for three hours. When it started I heard it would be like an hour or less, but it never seemed to stop. I vomited, I had to wear an oxygen mask, I have never experienced anything like it! It was the most frustrating trying time of my life. Somehow, I wasn’t pushing correctly, it was so hard to even stay lucid at that point let alone remember everyone’s directions about how to push. I was crying, I just wanted to escape, but there was no escape from those contractions so close together and strong.  I felt so out of it.  I felt for sure if this was Little House on the Prairie or Sarah Plain and Tall I would be dead by now! Could I still die in childbirth?? I pushed with everything I had and did it again and again and again. In my mind I thought surely three more pushes and they will get the doctors in and get the baby out right?  I can’t do anymore, this has to be almost over, but it just never came! Finally, after three hours of this, the doctors were in and Leia just wouldn’t come out, I just couldn’t push her out. The doctor asked if they could help me by using the suction device that they cup on the baby’s head and sort of vacuum her out while I push. I heard a voice that didn’t even sound like my own wail “yes” and they got the device out. Here again, the vacuum thing or forceps major things I wanted to avoid, I was afraid of making the birth extra traumatic for the baby, but I barely knew where I was at this point and knew there was nothing else I felt like I could do. I think I remember being told just a couple more pushes with that and the baby would be here, everyone could see her little head after all. Well it wasn’t a couple more pushes, it was soon but it felt like a million more pushes. I felt panicked at this point and remember screaming “It’s not working!” a couple times. I didn’t know what they would do next! The doctor was having difficulty because she was in fact turned the wrong way as we found out then, but finally finally finally she was born!!!

I don’t remember much of her actually coming out, I didn’t see anything, but I remember feeling what I knew must be her body come out. I expected her to be put right on my chest after delivery, but she was rushed away and I didn’t know why. I was still having pain and looked down to see the doctors working away down there, Gracie explained to me that I had torn and they were stitching me up, then I hear “No he is not OK” from one of the nurses and look over to see David collapsed on the floor! Talk about a circus, would the drama ever end?? Gracie looked me in the eye and told me he was OK, and took a picture of Leia where the doctors were looking at her and showed it to me while we were waiting for her, they just wanted to look her over because it was kind of a traumatic birth for her and she was fine.

I am sure it was all very quick, but it felt so long before my baby was in my arms! Then everything melted away, I felt clearer and totally emotionally overwhelmed. I hoped I hadn’t done anything to make her journey more difficult, I remember saying “I’m sorry” after she was out because I really hated that I hadn’t been able to push her out without the vacuum and I was afraid I had given her a cone head lol! I couldn’t believe she was there in my arms and was mine. David hobbled over to the bed as the nurses were telling him not to stand up and we sat there and stared at our amazing gift from God! David was so overcome at this time ( I mean fainting twice probably demonstrates that) it was so touching to see him becoming a father before my eyes, and he has been so wonderful and calm with her since then.

Looking back, pretty much everything I didn’t want to happen did, but I don’t have regrets. My husband and Gracie and all the staff were so supportive and this was a tough birth. Besides, the way I look at it I did have a natural childbirth, if you add all the time before I took the morphine and then the three hours of pushing, it is really like I had a natural childbirth and one with drugs! I handled a lot of contractions, I am no wimp! I have nothing to compare this too, I just have never done anything so difficult before, and have never had such an amazing reward for my efforts.

So, of course there could be so much more to write, but I knew I had to get the labor and delivery story down while it was fresh in my mind and it is something I have needed to process. I am not the same woman I was before it happened that is for sure. I am Leia’s Mommy now. If you read all this thanks! next post won’t be so long 🙂

The end is near…

Three more days teaching elementary school. I don’t think this will sink in for a while because it is just impossible to really reflect on the end of four years at Judson International School while I am so pregnant and wondering if I could have this baby anytime soon! It is a very strange week because since it is my last I have no lessons to plan for next week and no real grading to speak of, we just turned in grades for the last batch of report cards, so when the kids are occupied by art or recess or whatever I don’t have too much to do. Today is my last staff meeting though, I have been waiting for that one! Meetings, bleck!! I look forward to bringing Leia around and showing her to my class in a few weeks. Will I miss work though? Hmmm, I kind of don’t think so. I have always had mixed feelings about what I do, I am such a homeschool fan sometimes it is hard for me to reconcile my passion for that with what I do at work. I like the kids, but I am definitely ready to nurture my own children now.  Plus, getting my MA in teaching English last year and the year before kind of burnt me out, working full time and going to grad school full time was a lot (how glad am I that I  did not get pregnant until that craziness was over??!!!). I know I am really ready for this new season and calling! Also I can’t wait to run errands when other people are at work. One of my favorite things is going to Trader Joe’s in the summer at say 11 AM on a Tuesday, I just want to skip through the aisles past  the couple of old ladies and Moms of small children that are there. Such a feeling of freedom!  I won’t have to pack my lunch anymore, that is cool too.  Leia and Arnold and I can walk when we feel like it, not a rushed walk at 6:30 or 7:00 (or sometimes 7:20 when I am really pushing it) in the morning before work. I am so excited for her being old enough to enjoy field trips and things and little day adventures with me (not that I want her to grow too fast, but I know she will!).

If I had to bet I would say she was coming sooner than later, but I know I really have no idea! I have never done this before and it is so different for everyone, so all the getting ready my body is doing sometimes makes me feel like surely she is coming out soon, but I know I could be wrong! I am to the point where all the necessary things are done, bags packed, room ready, car seat in car. I am just trying to stay on top of light housework and napping when I can at this point to be ready for labor. Having all the baby stuff ready makes me extra antsy though! I just keep wondering what her little face will look like, how much hair will she have or not have, what color will her eyes be (I know it will be a while before we will know that one) and imagining holding her.

I feel like I have been preggers forever! I really don’t remember what it felt like to be normal. I feel like an expert on pregnancy symptoms now because it seems to me there were none I have not experienced! Even a couple I have been like “oh well at least I didn’t get that” and then bam a couple weeks later I got that too! What a crazy ride, it is strange to think it could be over at anytime. It is beautiful having her inside of me to be sure, and I am trying to keep that in mind. We will never be so close again after all, but I am so ready to meet her and see who she is and let her start being her own little person!

I feel like I get stares when I am out in public or walk my dog, as if people think if they look long enough they will see the baby just fall out or something? It could be all in my head, I mean I do feel like she is just going to fall out sometimes when I am walking. No one has said anything really inappropriate to me, no strangers have rubbed my belly either so that’s good.