Thursday, February 16, 2017

Baby Pictures and Birth Story

You guys. I have another baby! It's still not quite real yet. And it has already been a week. So many wonderful changes and experiences. I'll do a brief recap/update on how life is going currently, followed by lots and lots of sweet pictures, and I'll finish with Elaina's birth story (so if you're not interested in knowing the details you can look through the pictures and be done with the post). Also, here's a link to pictures from when Evie was born, in case you want to pull it up and compare :)

Life Update: 

Elaina is doing great! She is nursing well (thankfully!) and is a great sleeper too. I think the sleep is partially her personality and partially how diligent we have been to establish good sleep habits with her. I read lots of posts (thank you Pinterest) about newborn sleep habits and clearing day/night confusion quickly before she was born and that has helped better equip me to establish those good habits. The only problem is that it means there aren't as many opportunities for other people (friends and family) to hold her, since she is only awake for a few minutes after she finishes nursing before she needs to be laid down for her nap. We did a weight check appointment on February 9 and she had already surpassed her birth weight! She was 8lbs 1oz at birth and dropped to 7lbs 12 oz at her two day appointment (well within normal newborn weight loss ranges). At her one week weight check she was 8lbs 6oz! She still seems so scrawny to me, because at 21.25" she is in the 94th percentile for length. At her two week appointment she was still gaining weight great and weighed 9lbs 0.5oz. 

Evie is such a good big sister and loves to help. We have burp cloths where she can reach them and bring me one if I need it, and she will say "it's okay baby sister" when Elaina cries. She also loves to turn the vibrate feature on for the bassinet and will help say "shh" with me if Elaina is having a hard time staying asleep during her naps. She has enjoyed being able to hold Elaina (has wanted to nurse her as well) and says hi to her whenever her eyes are open (moments which are few and far between right now). Evie also loves to tell Elaina what she is doing: "Evie playing with blocks baby sister! Evie in the bath baby sister!" She often will say baby sister instead of Elaina because we referred to Elaina as "baby sister" during my pregnancy even after we had the name picked out. (Evie knew the name and we didn't want her spilling the beans!) We've been blessed by friends and family taking Evie for play dates and little outings so that I can rest and relax a little! She has also enjoyed getting to do those fun things with friends (park, library, seeing/feeding the animals at our friends' farm). Evie is also still in a phase where she is not wanting to stay in her bed. She'll gather her blankets and BeeBoo then come open her door saying "Hi, Mommy! Hi, Daddy!" The past few nights she has also taken to stripping out of her pajamas and diaper. Thankfully she's only peed on the floor of her room twice. Any tips or advice?? 

I (Marissa) am doing really well surprisingly enough. I feel like my recovery this time around has been so much better than it was with Evie. I think some of it is because I knew better what to expect, and some of it is because of how Elaina's birth went. I have been up and about around the apartment and the thought of going out doesn't terrify me. The thought of going out with both children by myself does, but that will come later once Elaina is ready to be out and around groups of people. I am embracing the night time feedings instead of dreading them like I did with Evie, and I think I am getting better rest because of it. Right now Evie and Elaina have a nap that coincides so I'm able to rest during that time as well. Normally I can't nap during the day, no matter how tired I am, but I was actually able to take a nap (about an hour long) the other day. It was so refreshing! I've had a little bit of time to read and I've been watching Netflix in the night. Any good Netflix recommendations, folks?? Or Amazon Prime video? Right now I'm watching The Flash on Netflix, and I need to catch up on Call the Midwife, but after that I'll need some input to help me find a new show. I got mastitis a week and a half after she was born: no fun at all! Thankfully I was able to be seen that same day and get started on antibiotics. Graham stayed home from class to help me and a friend took Evie for an all day play date (10am-5:45pm) which was so helpful. It allowed me to be able to rest and didn't place even more on Graham as he was taking care of me and Elaina.

Graham is doing well. He is enjoying is classes this semester (his last semester! Woohoo!!) and recently started his Critical Care (ER and ICU) clinicals. He's been picking up "my slack" by helping out with things I normally take care of (grocery shopping, dishes, dinner prep, etc.). He also is so great with Evie (and Elaina, but she isn't as fun for him since she doesn't do much). He went for a run the other day and Evie kept telling him not to go. She would say "no Daddy run. Daddy stay with Evie." Heartbreaking. And oh so sweet. When he got back he took her outside to play for a few minutes even though it was cold. (She had been asking me to go swing and put on her rain boots saying, "Evie go swing by Evie's own self, Mommy," when I told her I wasn't available to take her outside.) 


Birth story: 

It's hard to believe that February is already half over. I feel like I was just at the hospital! I suppose that's what getting 5-6 hours of broken sleep each night will do to you (and boy, am I so grateful for that sleep!). 

Elaina was due on January 30th, and throughout my entire pregnancy I was mentally preparing myself for a February baby. Starting about a week out from when Elaina was born, I started having consistent contractions in the evening (about 20 minutes apart). Then on Sunday they started getting closer (10min apart or so). Tuesday morning, Jan 31, I woke up at 6 am and was having contractions 3-5 minutes apart. So I woke up Graham at 7:30am and we thought "today's the day! She's coming!" I was induced with Evie, so we weren't sure what to expect with the contractions and labor, other than the 3-5 minute window we were told. So we went into the hospital and my contractions basically stopped. After about two hours there we decided along with the staff that I would just go home. (I didn't want to be induced and I was opting for a medication-free labor this time around, so I told them "please don't feel the need to keep me here. I promise I'd rather be home.") I felt silly and disappointed. And I vowed to not time my contractions anymore. 

That same night (31st) while I was making dinner I started feeling contractions again. And actually feeling them this time around. By that, I mean I was starting to have to focus on breathing through them and they were starting to be uncomfortable. Before, I could feel the tightness, but there wasn't any pain/discomfort involved. I had just promised myself that I wouldn't time my contractions, and I didn't. Graham had class the next morning and I had my prenatal check-up that I was fully prepared to attend! At the suggestion of a friend, I made cookies after Evie was in bed. (Double chocolate chip cookies that turned out so tasty and fudge-y, I may or may not have eaten 6 of them right then.) 

By 10 or 11pm it was pretty obvious that I would not be able to sleep through the night. At 11pm I tried laying on the couch to get a nap in, because I knew it was going to be a long night. I nodded off some, but didn't fully sleep, and got up at 1am. I told Graham he should go lay down and try to take a nap, and that I would wake him if I needed him. He went into the bedroom and came out about 15 minutes later saying, "It's no use. There's no way I can sleep right now." 

Just after 2am I asked Graham to call my friend, Jodanna, to come over.

 **I had decided (pretty much on a whim) that I wanted to deliver Elaina without any pain medication. On January 29 (so Sunday and she was born Wednesday, February 1) I asked Graham what he thought about it and he said he fully supported me. On my due date (Jan 30) I texted Jodanna telling her what I was thinking and asked if she would be my last minute birth coach. I am so glad I did! Her mom was in town, so Elaina had perfect timing for Jodanna to be able to help me.** 

So Jodanna came over and gave me some breathing tips and applied pressure on my lower back and bottom during each contraction. Shortly after calling Jodanna, Graham called his parents to come over (they would be watching Evie while we were at the hospital). He had asked me a question during a contraction and I said "don't ask me that right now" (thinking, I'm obviously having a contraction, how do you expect me to answer you?). Right after I made that comment he responded, "I'm calling my parents to come over now." Jodanna had told Graham to watch for when I got moody, and that would be a good signal for when to head into the hospital. 

We left for the hospital a little after 3am. The contractions I had in the car were so uncomfortable because I had been standing, squatting, or on hands and knees during my contractions at home. Since it was the middle of the night, we went in through the ER. I labored through several contractions in the ER before they came to bring me up to the 5th floor (Labor and Delivery). I think we got into the room around 3:45 or so, and I got changed. Graham asked for a labor ball (one of those exercise balls) when we got to my room. Before I could start that though, my nurse needed to check how dilated I was. I was at a 5 and 70% effaced when she checked me just before 4am. I sat on the exercise ball to labor through my contractions, resting my head and upper body on the bed. Jodanna continued to apply pressure and Graham held my hand, got a cool washcloth for my head, and told me how great I was doing. I was breathing well through the contractions. As each one would peak I would think "I don't know if I'm strong enough. Maybe I can't do this." However, after the peak of the contraction I could breathe easier and would remember a few scriptures I had looked up that day about The Lord strengthening me and trusting in Him. My contractions were coming back to back at this point. Jodanna told me that I had just had three in a row and that it was my new pattern. She told me to prepare for that when the next one came. During one contraction, around 4:30am, I felt Elaina kick a couple times (so painful!) and you could hear the thumps on the fetal monitor. Right after the kicks, I felt a gush of liquid and said "I think my water just broke." My nurse was in the room already preparing my IV (I told her they could go ahead and start one in case I ended up needing anything). After getting my IV in I wanted to pee before getting into the bed for her to check me again. I couldn't pee, and then I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. I told Graham this and he said "don't push. When this contraction finishes we're getting you to the bed." I looked at him like he was crazy, because I wasn't wanting to push I just felt like I needed to use the bathroom!  

When she checked me (around 4:45am I think) I was only at a 7 and she said some of the fluid was still intact. Laboring on my back in the bed was so painful during those contractions. I did a few contractions on my hands and knees on the bed. They were getting to be really painful and I had to really listen to Jodanna to have her coach me through them. She wanted to get me back on the exercise ball but the contractions were coming so close that I would start to feel some relief and think "oh I can move now...nope here comes another one I'm not going anywhere." It was after one of these on the bed that I looked at Graham and said "I can't do it. I want the epidural. I'm proud of what I've done so far but I can't take any more of this. Please." Graham told me I was strong and that I didn't need his permission. My nurse tried telling me this was as painful as they would get and that I could do it. She also said that I'd have to get a full bag of fluids through my IV, in addition to waiting for the anesthesiologist. Jodanna was also encouraging me. At this point I was feeling so frantic and overwhelmed. I would tense up during my contractions and it was only through Jodanna's coaching that I was able to relax and breathe at all. 

My nurse had left to go order the meds for me, and Jodanna had Graham go wet the washcloth for me again. As he was on his way to the sink to do so, I was having a really intense contraction. I felt like I peed myself (although looking back it was the rest of my water breaking) and then felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. I remember thinking "oh great. I'm using the bathroom all over myself. Cool." Jodanna could sense something had changed during that contraction and asked me "are you feeling the urge to push?" And as she said that I went "oh yeah, that is what I'm feeling." Jodanna told Graham to go get the nurse and tell her I was feeling ready to push. She came in (she hadn't even had time to order the meds, and Graham hadn't had time to wet the washcloth) and checked me and said "yeah, that's the baby's head. I'll call the doctor." 

Jodanna really helped me to be able to relax during the contractions and to breathe the baby down instead of trying to push. Focusing on her voice was really helpful and honestly that's what I remember most from this time. I remember the doctor coming in, saying "let's have this baby" and telling me that I needed to push her out in one contraction because her heart rate had dropped. I remember thinking "uhh, are you crazy? In one contraction?!"  But it totally happened. (And boy am I glad it did happen quickly. That "ring of fire" they talk about? Very accurate description.) In one push Elaina's head came out, I paused briefly so the doctor could unwrap the cord from her neck, then out came her shoulders and the rest of her! She was born at 5:01am. 

Graham cut her cord and the doctor handed Elaina up to me to hold while the nurses wiped her off a bit. She had taken a breath but wasn't getting angry or crying. She was very blue still. After suctioning a bit and still no crying (and still very blue) the nurses took her over to the warmer to be able to work on her. After what seemed like an eternity she started to cry. I don't think Graham was ever so happy to hear a cry before! While that was taking place my placenta was delivered and the doctor stitched one tear that I had. 

It was incredible to me how all of the pain of labor completely vanished the second Elaina was born. I'm glad I got to hold her right away, even though she hadn't started crying. She was so incredibly beautiful (if a bit alien looking, because again, very bluish grey in color) and she was all mine. The sweet little girl that had been growing inside me for so long. She was finally here! It still doesn't seem quite real. After she was getting her color back and crying well, Graham brought her over to me again to hold and nurse. She took a little bit to figure out how to latch, but after that she did great! 

We were transferred to a postpartum room at 7am. We were both incredibly exhausted. However, Graham really wanted to be at his class that morning (they were covering a topic that was pretty in depth and something he needed to really understand well). He left shortly after David and Cinda brought Evie to visit. At first Evie was timid because of the strange surroundings. After she got her bearings she was wanting to hold Elaina and "see hers tiny toesies." Everyone left allowing me to take a much needed nap. Graham didn't get any sleep until that afternoon. I still don't know how he managed to stay awake for class! 

Elaina and I were both doing well and were able to go home on Thursday just after lunch. It was great to get home, shower, and start our life as a family of four! (Which is still weird to say.)

Thanks for sticking with this until the very end! Sending love your way :) 

xoxo, Marissa