Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sophie's 1st Christmas

I am constantly amazed at how quickly time is moving. Sophie turned 2 months old on Christmas. The ten months I was pregnant seemed so discreet--now, time just blurs together. I can't believe how big she's gotten, especially compared to Tim's cousin's twin sons. They are about three weeks old and weigh five pounds each. Sophie sitting next to them looked like a giant baby!
Thank goodness she's been healthy too. A nasty intestinal bug is going around, and my mom, Amy, and Jen all got it Christmas night. A whole bunch of people on my mom's side got it too, including my pregnant cousin. Poor thing--she went in for fluids and ended up with a c-section. She wasn't very dilated, and I asked her on Christmas if she had been having contractions, and she said no, so I think breaking her water (and thus starting the delivery clock) was the wrong choice by her doctor. But, I'm no doctor yet, so I can't really have too much of an opinion yet.

Anyway, Christmas Eve at Tim's side was nice. It was a bit sad--this is the first Christmas his Grandma is in a nursing home and couldn't be there. But with all of the babies around, people seemed to be focused on happy things.

Christmas day was a total blur. We hit 9 AM mass--and Sophie was kind enough to have a giant poop just before mass started. That was fun. Then we had brunch at his parent's house, went to my mom's side for a while, went to my dad's side, and then went back to my parent's house. The flu bug was really starting to hit Amy hard (with Jen and my mom soon after) about 9 PM Christmas night, so we left about 9:30. And luckily (knock on wood) Tim, Sophie, and I are ok. It sounds like the virus that put me in the hospital five years ago Christmas, so I am really hoping we get passed by this round.

I've been home again this week. I was planning to go into lab, but Ossama wasn't in last week and couldn't show me where all the bacteria and transformation stuff got moved to, so I have to wait for him. And I can guarantee that since Dr. B is not coming in this week, neither is Ossama. And I can't really blame him.

I've got to get organized to give lab meeting on January 4th. It'll force me to really re-focus on my project. And I'm still trying to push forward on the paper from Frank's lab. The postdoc really wants to add a few more experiments, but I really need it out. We'll see if I can convince him.

I can't believe it's almost new year's. I'm working on a little resolution/retrospection post--we'll see if I actually get it done any time soon.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Back to work

Well, I've been transitioning back to work this week. It's had ups and downs. It's really hard to leave Sophie every morning (hence why, with the exception of today, I get into work about an hour later than I originally planned.) But once I get into work, it's not so bad. I still miss her, but I know she's ok with my family. And it is nice to have conversations with other people--I really missed getting the dish with Ming and Kim.

And I have to say: Dr. B is being surprisingly human. Almost nice. I was reserving judgement until this morning--we had our big meeting about where I'm at and where I'm headed. And it went as close to "well" as it ever does. Really, I was pleasantly surprised. And he was also a bit clearer about the timeline in the lab. He said this grant should run until the summer, and he put in the renewal and is writing another grant, and we should know about those about the time this grant runs out. So, as long as I can get my butt out by summer (or at least be in the home stretch), I should be good.

And if I can make a concentrated effort to be more efficient--not necessarily come in 7 days a week, just be better about what I spend time on--I think there's a chance I could be done by then. I still have a lot of experiments to run. A whole lot. But I'm going to give it a shot.

So yep, that's how things are going here. I definitely wouldn't day I'm happy to be back in the lab, but I'm happy about it in the sense that the sooner I get these experiments going, the sooner I'm done and can go back to med school, and then the the sooner I finish everything and can have a real job (hopefully one where I get some family time).

It's weird to be back. And I'm having a bit of Sophie-missing right now. But I am working through it, and I know it'll work out in the long run.

I'll try to post again before Christmas, but just in case I don't, have a Merry Christmas! (Oh, and as for the picture picking of the previous post--I ordered both and sent them out randomly. The votes between the blog and the family were 50/50, so I just couldn't pick!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vote for the Christmas pics

OK, one of these two will be Sophie's Christmas picture for her card. I wasn't thrilled with how my pics came out--the ones with the flash look washed out, and the ones with no flash looked dark or blurry--but she started fussing, so I didn't get as many shots as I wanted, and I didn't have a lot of time to adjust the lighting. I'll know better for next year.

So, I narrowed it down to a few, and by family vote, it seems to be down to two. I want to order them Monday or Tuesday so I can actually attempt to get cards out near Christmas. So, let me know which one you like better, top or bottom:
Thanks for the help!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mixed feelings

Wow, time sure flies. It's been a busy few weeks. Sophie is six weeks old now, which is just amazing. She's holding her head up, smiling, tracking movement, and responding to sounds. She's also grown like crazy--she's almost too long now for her 0-3 month clothes (apparently, experienced moms know that all clothes run smaller than the size it says. If most babies are only in 0-3 month clothes until they are six weeks old, why not call it 0-6 week?)
I had my six week postpartum checkup last week. Things looked good, and Sophie was super calm during the entire appointment. She did have three good poops--all loud enough that my doctor even commented on her prolific bowel habits--and of course, it was the one time she pooped through her clothes when I didn't have a spare outfit in the diaper bag. Luckily, I took Sophie up to the lab, Ming kept an eye on her for ten minutes, and I ran out to the car to get the emergency outfit. It was nice to see Ming. Kim was out, and so was Ossama, so things were deathly quiet. In another sign of how the lab is winding down, I moved my desk while I was there. We don't have individual rooms for labs in the building I am in, just large sections with rows of parallel lab benches. Our lab had taken up eight benches, with mine the last one before the next lab started. Since our lab is getting smaller, and the adjacent lab is getting bigger, it was time for me to move. It's just another omen, I think, that the lab won't be around much longer. Ming seemed to think we'd be done by June.

I met with my boss too. He was actually pretty human--his first grandchild was born a few weeks ago, and that may have softened him up. He still said I need to put in double time to get done (that's the standard speech). But I think he's accepted the fact that there's no way I'll be done by the time the lab dissolves. I'll just have to finish up somewhere else.

We agree that I'll be back in the lab starting a week from today. That's depressing, which I'll get back to, but I've been too busy to think about it. Sophie's baptism was yesterday, and getting ready for the party had me booked. My parents were nice enough to let us use their house--ours is big enough, but most of our furniture is still at the old house, so there wasn't anywhere for people to sit. Plus, we didn't have to worry about containing the dog when people were over. It was just easier.
So last Tuesday, we planned all day. Wednesday was my doctor's appointment, plus the stop at the lab. Thursday we went shopping for groceries and party supplies (and Tim had to come bail me out when Sophie had a meltdown in the grocery store. That was an experience). Friday was cleaning day. Saturday we cooked huge amounts of soup--we decided to order a big Subway sub and make a bunch of soups for crock pots. Well, Saturday we made huge batches of chicken soup (two kinds), ham and bean, chili, and potato soup. I mean, we had gallons of soup. For each. We cooked the soups, let them cool, and then poured them into gallon Ziploc bags so we could fit them all in the fridge. Some of the soups filled three one-gallon bags with some left over. We could've fed an army!

Luckily, we only invited family (and on somewhat short notice, since I passed out the invites on Thanksgiving), so we only planned for fifty at the most. We had freezing rain that day, but we still had forty people show. The food went over well, with barrels of leftovers, but we passed it out and froze the rest. It worked out well.

As I mentioned, I've been too busy to think about going back to work. Well, it hit me this morning. I woke up and realized that in one week, I'll be at work. And I cried. And then I decided to do something I hadn't done since I've been home: nothing. I had a house to clean, thank-you notes to write, and a whole laundry list of other chores. But I decided to ignore them. Instead, Sophia and I spent the whole day together--physically together. We stayed in the bed, I cleared off a few movies on the DVR, and we snuggled. She slept on me, I'd feed her when she got hungry, and we just cuddled. And it was one of the most fantastic days of my life.

Tim came home for lunch and brought the picnic up to the bed. I got teary again thinking about not being home, but he helped me get through it. It's just overwhelming to me how much I've come to love this little person in six weeks. Things are tough sometimes--she had a particularly fussy week last week, which was no fun--but I've loved being home with her. I couldn't do it for the rest of my life. I know that. But six weeks is not enough. I need a few months, I think, to really be ready. She grows before my eyes everyday, and the thought of missing out tears me up. The only thing that makes me know it'll be ok is that I'm leaving her with my mom for a while. If I had to drop her off at daycare for my first day back at work, I think I'd break down.

I'm so thankful my mom is going to watch her for a while. We can only pay her what we put aside for day care--not very much on a weekly basis--but she's going to cope with it for a little while. She's looking for a part time job too, but I'd feel horrible if she had to work a whole bunch of hours in addition to being our day care full time. She's volunteered to do it, but she shouldn't have to work seven days a week just to help us out. I wish I could afford to pay her like a nanny so she wouldn't have to work. That'd be awesome. But we just don't have it. We're actually raiding a little of our savings to do it until the house sells (two mortgages plus daycare isn't happening just yet). That's why we have savings in the first place though. It's not a ton, but it's enough until summer, when hopefully the other house will sell and it won't be an issue any more.

Yeah, the old house not selling is anxiety for another day. Honestly, I've been too busy (and too anxious about going back to work) to think about it. We're going to take a bath on it, no matter what, but that's life. If I had it to do over again, I don't know if I would've moved. Maybe not right now, at least. But maybe I would have--this house was just such a steal, we might never have found a deal like this again. I dunno.

But anyway, I just wanted to let people know we're still alive. I'm going to savor as much of this last week home with Sophia as I can. And my sister is coming home from California on Sunday for the holidays. I can't wait for her to meet her niece. Hopefully my whole immediate family can have a dinner together. That's what I love about holidays--the family time. I don't need gifts or anything. Seeing my family together is all I could ask for.
(the proud parents and godparents: Me, Tim, Joe, Jen, and Sophie)

(Jason snuggling with his niece)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Time is going so fast!

I went into work, sort of, on Monday. Actually, I wanted to hear a group of speakers--we have a "women in MSTP" group that meets monthly, and this time they had several women in different stages of medical training coming in to speak on medicine and having a family. I asked in advance if I could bring Sophie, and I got the OK, so we trekked through mud and rain to head up to school Monday afternoon.

As fate would have it, there was a last minute endocrine speaker across the hall at the same time. Now, this was in a building across campus from where I work, and I go into this building maybe twice a year. So I was shocked when I saw members of my lab funneling in for the endocrine speaker. I saw Ossama first, then Valerie, and then Dr. B. Dr. B came in just before the speaker was ready to start. I didn't get much time to talk to him (and Sophie had a doctor's appointment right after the talk, so I couldn't hang around), but it sounds like he wants me back in a week and a half. I have my 6 week postpartum appointment next Wednesday, so I'll stop in after that and work out the details. But seeing him made this whole going-back-to-work thing seem more real.

It also inspired me to just enjoy the little bit of time I have left at home. And so that's what I'm working on. She's already grown so much in a month--I don't want to miss a thing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's been a while

Yeah, I haven't posted in a while. It's not for lack of pictures--I have hundreds of those--but for lack of ideas. Life with a baby is time-consuming, but it's not terribly exciting. I could regale you with tales of poopy diapers, late-night feedings, and naptime. But it's pretty much the same story every day. Now, I like my time with Sophia, but it doesn't make for riveting conversation.
Having said that, Sophie will be a month old tomorrow. She's doing well. We're still getting up every 3 horus or so at night, but it's pretty doable. And Tim took all of Thanksgiving week off. That was a huge help--having another set of hands around is fantastic.
Sophie being a month old also means I'm more than halfway done with my maternity leave. Dr. B has been out of the country, but when he gets back, I anticipate he'll start asking me when I'm coming back. I'll probably be back part time in mid-December and back full time in January.
I'm having a lot of anxiety about going back to lab. Things aren't moving well on my current project, which is nothing new. But the paper I wrote with my old lab has been in progress for over a year now. We first submitted it in the spring, and then again in late summer. My old lab is taking charge of where to submit it/formatting it/being in contact with reviewers, so I'm at the mercy of the old lab's timetable. I'd like to move it a bit faster, but they are doing me a favor by handling the details. We submitted to two pretty decent journals to start with--and I didn't have a lot of hope for either accepting the paper--but now I'm starting to worry that no one will take it.

I need two papers. There's no way I can get two out of my crappy current project. So if the old lab paper falls through, I don't know what I'd do. And with my current lab having money/PI issues anyway, things could get worse before they get better.

I'm trying not to focus on it too much, but the thought of going back into the lab is freaking me out. Part of it is leaving Sophie, but my mom is going to watch her in the beginning, so I can transition a little there. Most of it is just the general anxiety of the lab. It's been so nice to leave that behind for a month. I knew the lab affected me--it took being away for me to realize how much it really messes me up.

Still, I've come this far, and I want to finish my PhD, barring disaster. I need a break from research then. Who knows, maybe after residency/fellowship I'll decide I miss it. But, I think the likelihood is that I'll never do research full time, and doing clinical research is much more likely than doing basic science at this point. I do like the teaching aspect, so I'd like to stay at least partially involved in academics. But my original plan of research full time? Gone.
There have been four main sources of anxiety for me lately. First: the baby. That's a good anxiety though, and as time goes on, I'm feeling more comfortable.

Second: the lab. I already went into it, and it's getting worse.

Third: selling the old house. We've lowered the price again, but nothing is selling in Cleveland. At all. And while two mortgage payments aren't sending us into debt, we just break even every month. And once we add daycare into the mix, things could get ugly.

And fourth: post-baby body issues. I definitely don't want to get into it. I've only got ten baby pounds left, and it's great to be in real clothes again, but the stretch marks and flabby skin don't help my already crappy body image. My doc said no diet or exercise till after my six week checkup. But once I'm cleared, I'm going to work on losing the last ten baby pounds and the thirty I had hanging around before I got pregnant. I can't go crazy, since I'm breastfeeding, but I'm actually hoping that will help the weight loss.

Anyway, I've got a hungry baby calling for me. I love being a mom, and I'm excited that at least I have a little more time home with her. The rest of my anxieties can wait, because Sophie comes first.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Two weeks already?

(baby's first Halloween--our little pumpkin)

I can't believe Sophia is two weeks old already! I haven't had much of a chance to go online--or do anything, really--so sorry about the lack of posts. She keeps me extremely busy. I have to plan everything--where I can put her while I pee, or shower, or eat, etc. But I wouldn't trade this time for all the world. I'm already dreading having to go back to lab. I didn't really like lab all that much before Sophia was born, and having to go back to something I dislike while leaving something I love behind is tough.

Don't get me wrong--it's not in my personality to be a stay at home mom. I'm already going a little batty being home all day now. I just wish I had a little bit longer, and I wish I could be part time for a while instead of right back into full time. Actually, it's my hope to ease back into lab, but I know once I start back, my boss isn't going to be so keen on me being part time. But we'll see.

Anyway, back to Sophia. We're still doing sleepless nights (and I've learned the hard way she can't tolerate having me eat broccoli, which sucks for me). But it's gotten so much better since we've been home.

I don't know what I would have done without my family. Seriously, they have been a total godsend. We came home Saturday the 27th, and my milk had come in earlier that day. I was so engorged Saturday night that I couldn't get Sophie to get a good breastfeeding latch. She was frustrated, I was frustrated, and I ended up giving her a bottle of formula so she didn't starve (which was a huge no-no according to the breastfeeding class I took).

Sunday was a little better, but not much. Sunday night my fam (minus Amy, plus significant others) came up for my mom's birthday dinner. All 11 of us (including Sophie) had a nice dinner, and then my parents babysat so Tim and I could run out to the store. I've never enjoyed Wal-mart so much, and I've also never been so distracted by thoughts of Sophie at the same time. I bought a hand breast pump (I had ordered an electronic one that morning, but it wouldn't be here for a while), and I was hopeful that would let me nurse a little better Sunday night.

Sunday night was still pretty rough. Monday was tough too. I was wiped, and my adrenaline rush that had sustained me over the days since birth suddenly ran out. I managed to hang in there Monday afternoon while Tim's parents and a friend of mine from high school visited, but I just dropped around dinner time. Tim watched Sophia with his parents while I tried to sleep, but when I got up, I just didn't feel right. I think it was the baby blues--I wasn't sad, but I found myself crying for no reason.

Tim decided to call up my mom, and she came up Monday night and spent the night with us. Actually, she stayed up the whole night. I did the 1 AM feeding, left her a bottle of milk, and crashed until about 6. She stayed up with Sophie the whole night. She also showed me a trick--Sophie was still having some trouble latching on the breast, but she could take a bottle. It took me an hour to hand express a bottle, so that wasn't too realistic for every feeding, but my mom told me to try putting a bottle nipple on me so Sophie could get on. Sure enough, it worked! I had to do that for a few days until the engorgement went down, but it was such a lifesaver. I totally understand now why people might give up breastfeeding. It sounds so intuitive, but it was maybe the toughest part of the whole experience so far. I can do without sleep, but it's horrible to think you are starving your child because she can't breastfeed (I know she wasn't really starving, but that's what I was thinking).

After Monday night, things got easier. My mom's been a huge part of that. She's come up multiple times, cooked dinner almost every night, and stayed the night twice. She showed us how to bathe Sophia until her umbilical cord fell off (which it did Tuesday night). And most of all, it's been wonderful to have her in the house. It's tough being here all by myself. Forget things like housework--there's no way--but just going to the bathroom is tough when it's just me. Plus, we've gotten the chance to chat, watch Rachael Ray every afternoon, and just have a lot of mother-daughter bonding. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I've loved having Sophia around these last two weeks. It's absolutely unlike anything I ever thought possible. There are a few things I would do differently for the next one--mainly, have Tim take more than a half day off once we are home from the hospital--but we're coping. And she's healthy, according to the pediatrician, so whatever we're doing, it's working. She'll sleep more than two hours eventually. And I can function ok until she does. I guess it's those maternal instincts or something.

And if I need to go somewhere with her, I can. I took her to her last pediatrician's visit on my own, and it was doable, and last night Tim and I took her to Target to get diapers (oh my gosh, the number of diapers we go through...) It takes about an hour or two to get her ready (feed her so she's happy, change her, get the diaper bag together, get her in the car seat, etc). But we'll get better at it.

So yeah, that's my life right now. It's tiring, but she is so worth it. It's amazing, and a little scary, how much I love her, and how quickly I did. And it has changed the way Tim and I look at each other--but so much for the better. I got a little teary last night as I listened to Tim reading Sophia her first bedtime story (the Sneeches, by Dr. Seuss.) Seeing him be such a good dad really touches me. It's just one more way we love each other, I guess. The whole experience had been emotional and overwhelming. No amount of reading or research could've prepared me for this. And I couldn't be happier.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Ok, without further ado:
Sophia BrynnJust after delivery (hey, not so attractive, but I was in labor for 16 hours):
Proof that she weighs 9 lbs, 1 oz (we couldn't believe it!):
Tim, the proud papa:
Me and Sophie (after a shower, hooray!):

Sophie and Macgyver got acquainted pretty quickly:

Fast friends after less than an hour:

It's been a whirlwind few days. Being with the baby is great, but it's been a challenge too. Nights are really rough for us, and breastfeeding has been more difficult than I expected (and I thought it might be tricky). We've gotten lots of help from family and friends, thank God, and that makes things better. But no matter how tough things get, Sophia smiles and it's all worth it. I'll try to post when I can. No promises on a time though--I'm still adjusting to life as much as Sophie is. So until then, I hope life is good for you!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The baby story--the short version

Here's the highlights, in bulleted form of course.

-Tuesday I didn't feel the baby move in the morning, so they had me come in for a non-stress test. Turns out the baby was fine, she had just shifted a little. My doctor came up, and I think she was debating inducing me, but we decided to talk about it the next day at my appointment.

-I drove to the hospital Wednesday morning for my 9:30 appointment. As I got out of the car in the parking garage, my water broke (I kept thinking--"how embarrassing if it was just pee").

-I told the secretary I thought my water had broken when I checked in. She told the nurse, who told my doctor, who though it was hysterical. They sent me up to labor and delivery to be checked. I called Tim about 9:30 AM and told him I'd let him know if they admitted me.

-About 10, they admitted me. I called Tim, who was up a little before 11, and my family, who all started migrating to the hospital (despite the fact that I tried to tell them it would be a while).

-The theme of the day: every time I hit a milestone, they told me delivery would be just around the corner. My water broke (and I was still 4 cm and 70% effaced), so I should deliver fast. At about 2:30 PM, they re-broke my water, which should start things moving. At 3:30 PM (6 hours later), we decided on an epidural and pitocin (I was 4-5 cm dilated, 90% effaced, -1 station at that point.) They were sure the pitocin would enhance the contractions (which were regular and strong, but not moving the baby), so they started me off low on pitocin at 4:30. I started at 2 mu/min. I ended at 16 mu/min. The max is 20 mu/min.

-So much for fast. At 8:55, almost 12 hours later, I was 9-10 cm, 100% effaced, and +1 station. They assured me I'd deliver fast. In fact, they thought my full bladder was holding things up, so they sent my family out when they straight catheterized me, thinking the baby would basically shoot out afterwards.

-That was 8:55 PM. I started pushing at 10:45 PM. I had the baby at 1:27 AM. So much for fast!

-The epidural was amazing for the contractions, but I felt every stretch with pushing. From 10:45 to about 1 AM, it hurt, but I was breathing and getting through it. When the baby crowned at 1 AM and the doctor came in, she decided to stretch me with every push. It was the worst pain of my life, to the point where I had no control over screaming or being able to open my eyes. And it lasted half an hour with no breaks. And I ended up with an episiotomy anyway.

-Want to know why labor lasted 16 hours and pushing lasted 3? Because everyone was prepared for a 7 to 8 pound baby, including the nurses and doctors. I kept telling people she'd be bigger, but they waved me off. Know what? I was right. Nine pounds, one ounce, 21 inches long, head circumference 37 cm. They weighed her twice, because even after she came out, the doctor was sure there was no way she could really be that big. I pushed--I KNEW she was that big!!!

-She's big, but beautiful. She's actually proportional, so instead of looking like a basketball, she looks like a two week old baby. Which, according to her newborn maturity assessment, she was two weeks overdue. So if she came two weeks ago, she'd be average. I can't imagine if she decided to wait until next week, when my doctor had thought about inducing me!

-Family got to see her for a little while Thursday morning, finally. I felt so bad that they had to wait so long. They hung out during labor in the room with me, but they all had to go downstairs to the cafeteria for three hours during pushing. Tim would call once an hour or so just to tell them we were still pushing! I felt so bad for keeping them up until almost 3 AM (they wanted to clean me and the baby up before visitors came up). But they came back later Thursday, after we were up in post partum, and got a little more time with her.

-Thursday was a long day with little sleep. Tim went home Thursday and Friday nights and came back the following mornings. Without fail, Sophie would be an angel until ten minutes after Tim left, and then she'd start screaming bloody murder! I felt guilty the first night, but I sent her to the nursery between feedings. The next night, I didn't feel so bad doing it--I know I needed the sleep. And it was doctor recommended to sent her out now and again to get a break. I think it was a good call.

-We got home about 2 PM today. It's unreal to have her home, but also so exciting. I'm terrified of spending our first night, the whole night, with her. I worry she'll be too hot, or too cold, or I won't be able to soothe her. But, we'll get through it!

All in all, she's absolutely wonderful. Tim's been a natural, and it's such a huge help to have him around. Both of our families have been so wonderful and supportive. I'm so glad we had our first one with so much support around. My mom has already helped me breastfeed, so there's one boundary we don't have any more!

Tim and I are both totally in love with our baby. I've got a million pictures. I've got to go through and pick out just a few, and then I'll post them. But she's amazing. and totally worth all the pain. Having said that, I still want to wait at least several years before undergoing that pain again. But if she's the prize, I'd do it again without hesitation.

The baby story--the long version

We're finally home, Sophia's sleeping on Tim's chest, and I have a few minutes to play on the computer. So, I figured I better write the story before I forget!

(Editor's note: this is the long version, intended for my personal record and people who have trouble with insomnia. Feel free to check out the bulleted version for the highlights.)

I had intended to post another "still pregnant" post on Tuesday, focusing on some of the things I've learned instead of being all "I'm so uncomfortable, blah blah" again. But when I woke up Tuesday morning, things didn't feel right. I was up when Tim left for work about 7:30, and from then until about 10:30, I didn't feel the baby move. She's usually very active in the morning. Sometimes she would wake me up from a sound sleep with her kicking! When I couldn't get her to move with all of the tricks the books tell you to use (eat something then lie down, get up and walk around, shift positions, etc), I called the doctor's office about 11 AM. After I left a message, I emailed Tim as calmly as I could that I couldn't feel the baby, I called the doc, and they may want me to come in. I didn't feel calm, but I didn't want us both to panic.

He came home about 12, and the nurse called backed back just before he got home. They told me to come in for a non-stress test. I grabbed a quick shower and grabbed anything we'd need for the hospital just in case they wanted to get the baby out immediately. We headed up to the hospital, went to labor and delivery, and got hooked up on the fetal monitors. They instantly found her heartbeat. I was so relieved (and feeling kind of stupid at the same time). She was moving like crazy and doing well, but I couldn't feel her, so she must have moved around a bit. They didn't do an ultrasound, so I didn't know how she was laying, but I could tell it was different.

My doctor came up to check on me. She said to come to my regular appointment the next day (Wednesday at 9:30) and we'd make a plan. She had a look on her face when the topic of induction came up that both Tim and I thought looked like she was really thinking if she wanted to do it right then. But, since the NST was ok, she decided that we'd wait. She was talking about not inducing me until next week, but we both agreed to talk about it the next day. She also stripped my membranes for a third time, since she was there.

We also found out that one of Tim's friends that he's known since high school is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital. She was great about explaining things and offered to be our nurse when we delivered. The catch was she was going on vacation for her birthday, and she was only working Tuesday (when we had the NST) and Wednesday. So we'd have to deliver soon or hang out for a while :)

After we got home from the hospital, we had just enough time to stop home, let the dog out, and then leave again. Tim took me down to my parent's house to be baby-sat while he went to class. I had dinner there and hung out until he got back from class about 7:15. We then headed over to his parent's house to say hi (we hadn't seen them in a few weeks because they had been in New England), and we left there about 9:30 or so. By the time we got home at 10, we were exhausted.

I had a few contractions right after the doctor had stripped my membranes, but they had fizzled out around dinner time. I tried a few more of the old wive's tales Tuesday night to try and get labor started, but nothing really seemed to work.

Then, about 11:30, I was lying in bed when I started having some contractions. I think they were real--they were definitely uncomfortable--and they seemed strong. I paid attention to them for a while. I tried timing them, but they were still pretty irregular. They were painful enough that I couldn't sleep (plus I was excited at the thought that maybe we were headed for labor). So, about 2:30 AM, I decided to test them and see if they got stronger with walking. I got out of bed and headed downstairs to walk around. And of course, they went away. Even just sitting and watching TV led to no contractions. But, as soon as I would lay down, they'd be back. Final answer: they weren't regular enough to be labor, but they were painful enough to prevent me from sleeping.

So I got basically no sleep Tuesday night. I went back upstairs about 7:30 to shower, and Tim went to work. He asked me if he should come to my appointment that morning. I told him no, we'd just talk induction and I'd fill him in. As I was getting ready to shower, I had a moment of vanity. I had planned to do my hair, shave my legs, put on makeup, and generally try to look nice before I went into labor, figuring there'd be pictures and whatnot. But, since I was so tired Wednesday morning, and I was convinced this baby wasn't coming anytime soon, I just got a quick shower and threw on some crappy clothes, pulled my hair back, and skipped the makeup entirely. Figures, right?

I left about 8:30 to head to my doctor's appointment (rush hour sucks, so I figured I'd need an hour or so). It was crappy outside, and I half debated using the valet parking for labor and delivery, but I decided to be honest and just pay to park in the garage.

Right as I was pulling into the garage, I felt a little pop. It was strange, but I didn't feel any fluid, so I just ignored it. It took me another five minutes to find a spot. I parked, stood up to get out of the car, and felt a huge gush. I had a feeling it was my water breaking, but I also had the thought that maybe my bladder had decided to empty on its own. As discreetly as I could, I grabbed the stack of McDonald's napkins I keep in the car, plugged myself up, and walked to my appointment (about a five minute walk). I didn't think my pants were soaked too obviously, but I wrapped my jacket around my waist and waddled to the hospital as best I could.

I got there right at 9:30 (I try to be a little early, but the waddling was especially slow with the napkins). I signed in, and I leaned into the window and told the secretary, "I have a weird situation. I think my water just broke, but I'm not sure."

She went back and told the nurse, who came out and said that I'm going right out to labor and delivery. She also said that she had told my doctor that my water just broke, and she said my doctor just laughed and laughed.

I was hoping to get a chance to head to the bathroom and see if this was really my water or pee, but I didn't get the chance. I did call Tim and tell him we may be having this baby today, but it depended on the water breaking situation. I told him to wait until I called him back (because that's so easy to do when you think your wife's in labor), but I was really worried it was just pee and they'd send me home.

Well, when I got up there and changed into a gown, I knew instantly it was my water (no need for details). They checked me out, agreed, admitted me, and I called Tim a little after ten to tell him we'd be having a baby today. I was four centimeters dilated, 70% effaced, and -1 station. They said that things should be pretty quick because I was already progressed, so I called my family and Tim called his. I told them we might not have the baby until a few hours later, so no big rush (but again, like I could convince them to wait).

My doctor stopped up about 12:30 or so to check me out and chat. The contractions were pretty regular, but they weren't pushing the baby down. She said we'd start pitocin maybe 3-3:30 if the contractions didn't start things on their own. By this time Tim and my mom were in the room with me, so they kept an eye on the monitors and kept me company. The contractions were strong, but I could breathe through them, so I wouldn't call them painful.

About 2:30 or so a resident came in to check me. She thought she felt a forebag, which I guess is another part of the amniotic sac, so she got the amniohook (with Tim assisting) and re-broke my water. If what I had before was a gush of fluid, this was a waterfall. So again I was told things should start moving quickly now.

Do you see a pattern developing?

We were lucky enough to have Tim's friend come into work from 3-7, and she volunteered to be our nurse. I was way past having any personal boundaries at that point--we even had a student nurse stay with us from 2-11:30 PM so she could see the labor and delivery process--so who cares if someone I know gets to see my cash and prizes? It meant she gave us a lot of personal attention. And she's got a good sense of humor too, which is always helpful.

At 3:30, I was checked and was 4-5 centimeters, 90% effaced, and -1 station. Things were moving, but very slowly, and the baby wasn't coming down. We talked about starting pitocin, but I asked that we place the epidural before the pitocin. I didn't think we wanted to try and insert a spinal catheter while I was having strong contractions. Or worse yet, things would move as quickly as they kept saying, and I'd be pushing with no epidural.

They placed the epidural at 4 (piece of cake), and it was probably what they call a "walking epidural". I had no pain, diminished abdominal sensation, but I could feel my feet and legs (although they still don't let you walk because they worry things could chance any time). They started the pitocin at 4:30. They started me at 2 mu/min and said they could go up every half hour if need be, with the max dose at 20 mu/min. The pitocin got the contractions stronger, and with the epidural, all I felt was pressure and no pain. Totally awesome. Ask anyone in the room at that time, and they'd tell you I was like a public service announcement for epidurals at that time.

At 5:15, I was 5 cm dilated, 100% effaced, but still -1 station. They kept upping the pitocin, and again all I heard was that things would take off soon. At 8:55, I was "complete": 9-10 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and +1 station. They thought maybe the baby was held up on my bladder (I had been getting fluids IV for hours because of the epidural), so they sent all the family members out. They straight catheterized me to drain my bladder, and they warned everyone that the baby could basically slide right out if that was the hold up.

Umm, yeah. That was 8:55 PM. I had already been there for almost 12 hours, and I was constantly being told how quickly things were going to happen. Still no baby.

And the straight cath didn't produce a baby either. They had me just labor on pitocin for another two hours, hoping she'd move down. Not so much. And by now, the pitocin was at 16 mu/min. I didn't have much more room to go--if the contractions wouldn't do it at 20 mu/min, we'd be thinking about other ways of getting the baby out.

Finally, at 10:45 PM, we decided to start pushing. We sent all the family downstairs for real this time. It was showtime. Again, I was told that things should move fast once we started pushing.

Umm, not so much. I started pushing. And then I realized I could feel the head. In the birth canal. And it was not fun. I pushed the epidural button to up the pain meds, but it didn't work. It was then that I realized things could get interesting.

I pushed for what seemed like ages. Tim would hold one leg up, and the student nurse would hold the other. And I'd push. I could feel pain and stretching, but I just tried to breathe through it.

So we started at 10:45 PM. And at 1 AM, the baby crowned. Yes, more than two hours later. No one thought it would take that long. They kept saying, "Maybe the shoulders are stuck in pelvis" and things like that. So I tried pushing in other positions, like pulling on a sheet wrapped around a squat bar with my feet on the bar. That had to be quite a sight, I'm sure. The cool thing about that was that they put a mirror at the foot of the bed, and I could see the top of the baby's head at the end of each push. I couldn't see much of it, and it would disappear at the end of each push, but I knew she was coming.

At 1 AM, the on call doctor came in, and she decided to move things along. (Warning: talk of girl parts). She decided to stretch the opening of the birth canal with mineral oil and her hands during each contraction. That should stretch things enough that the baby should come down faster and without an episiotomy.

Let me explain the pain. During contractions, pre-epidural: uncomfortable, like cramping, but it doesn't last long. During contractions, post-epidural (including transition, the tough part): I could feel a little pressure in my abdomen, but no pain whatsoever. I could talk through contractions, and everyone kept commenting on how I was smiling and laughing. Pushing, pre-crowning: a sharp pain in the birth canal (I kept saying that I could feel her nose or something on the right side jabbing me). Lots of pressure and stretching/burning during the push. But it felt more relieving to push during the contraction than to let it happen without pushing. And in between contractions, I could rest.

And then there was pushing once the doctor got there. The worst pain. Of. My. Life. I felt like I was going to black out from the pain. And there was no rest from the pain. And pushing wasn't relief. I was screaming, and I couldn't help it. Tim kept telling me to open my eyes and see the baby's head. I physically couldn't open my eyes because of the pain. I was drenched in sweat. And all I could say was, "Oh my God, it hurts!" I tried breathing and all the other things they tell you, but the pain level was like nothing I've ever even heard of. Each time the doctor would stretch me, it just multiplied the pain by ten. And I did this non-stop for almost half an hour.

Now, let me take a detour for a minute. To amuse ourselves during labor, everyone in the room was guessing the baby's weight. She had been 6 pounds, 7 ounces by ultrasound estimate at the end of September. She was also smack on for the earlier due date of Oct. 16. Overall, that meant she was 55th percentile for both weight and head circumference.

They say babies can gain an ounce a day or more at the end of pregnancy. So, I estimated she was over 8 lbs 7 ounces a month post-ultrasound, and since she was also overdue for both the earlier and the later due date, I said she'd be over 8.5 pounds.

Everyone in the room, including the doctor, nurses, and every other random person coming through, said there was no way. Just the day before, where I was in for the non-stress test, I had asked my doctor about size, and she said she wasn't concerned. I had measured 42 cm to the top of the fundus the week before (and since I had a little extra padding around the middle from before I was pregnant, I measured 1-2 cm ahead every week). So 42 cm is within normal range for a full term pregnancy (the estimate is 1 cm=1 week gestational age). And even though we only had the month old estimate of weight by ultrasound, they didn't want to check again.

Want to guess how big she was?

Nine pounds, one ounce. 21 inches long. Head circumference of 37 cm.

She was HUGE! As the doctor stretched me right at the end, she could finally feel around the head, and she said I'd need an episiotomy anyway, despite all the stretching. But even when Sophia was born, the doctor guessed her to be about 8 pounds before she was weighed.

Not so much. 9 lbs, 1 oz. They weighed her twice, because neither the nurses or the doctor could believe she was really that big.

And all of a sudden, it was clear why I labored for 16 hours and pushed for three. Her head was gigantic. And my body just had a hard time pushing it out.
Now, a caveat. I don't think she looks like a basketball or anything. She looks two weeks older than every other newborn. She does have round, full cheeks, but she's proportional. Her measurements, for a 40 week baby, put her at the 90th percentile or so for height, weight, and head size. But for a 42 week baby (2 weeks overdue), she'd be about 50th percentile. And her newborn maturity score put her at 42 weeks.

So basically, she was two weeks overdue by her physiology. Which is what I had been trying to tell people. By the end, I knew she was ready, but I also realized that my body couldn't get labor started. If my water hadn't broken, I still probably wouldn't have had contractions, wouldn't have gone into labor, and would still be pregnant. And she'd be even bigger!!!!

Anyway, once she was out, I had something else to think about besides the pain. They put her on my chest right away. I still had pain (especially after the placenta was out--I had a lot of uterine bleeding with clots, and the way they get those out is gross and painful). But I also had a beautiful baby (who I affectionately called "my little porker" for most of the morning). The family came back in three at a time at about 2:30, and they all left about 3:30 AM when we were headed to postpartum. Unfortunately, things were busy, and we were stuck in labor and delivery until 5:15 AM. I hadn't slept since Monday night (it's now Thursday morning), I had eaten one turkey sandwich in a day and a half (and that's only because my doctor overrode the no eating during labor rule and had them get me something about 2 PM Wednesday), and I had just labored for 16 hours and pushed for three. I was beyond exhausted, and so was Tim.

We finally got upstairs about 5:15 AM. By the time they checked us in, did what they needed with the baby, and took her to the nursery, it was 7 AM. We got about 2.5 hours of constantly interrupted sleep, and at 9:30 they brought her in to eat. Surprisingly, the 2.5 hours was enough to at least make me functional again. The rest of Thursday was spent feeding the baby, having family come by, and just recovering. I was in a lot of lower abdominal pain, especially externally, and I was still losing a lot of blood. At one point the clots were big enough that they were talking about starting an IV in case I needed fluid/blood, but things leveled off after that.

Sophia was a doll all day Thursday. We definitely had a learning curve with the breastfeeding, but the nurses were super helpful. And when she wasn't eating, she was a peaceful little angel.

Once all the family left again at about 9:30 PM, Tim and I chilled. He went home a little after 11 to sleep. Sophie had been so calm all day, I planned to have her room in with me overnight (she rooms in full time unless you want the nursery to take her). Not twenty minutes after Tim leaves, she starts screaming bloody murder. I tried to soothe her, and I fed her again. She went back to sleep, but she woke up again a few minutes later and screamed. I tried feeding her again. Just as I was finishing, the nurse came in to take her to the nursery to be weighed. She asked me if I wanted her back in my room afterwards, or if I wanted Sophie to stay in the nursery. I thought about it for a minute, and I felt really guilty, but I told her to keep the baby in the nursery.

For as hard as it was to send Sophia out of the room, it gave me five hours of sleep. They didn't bring her back in to feed until 7 AM. And that five hours made me feel like a new person. I fed her and got her situated, and then I had the nursery take her again for 20 minutes so I could shower. Of course, just as I finish the shower, I hear noise in my room. It turns out my doctor had stopped by to say hi, and they had brought Sophia back. So I threw on my gown and didn't even take my hair out of the towel. I was trying to talk to my doc about things, but Sophie was screaming because she was hungry. That turned out to be the theme of the day.

Tim came back about 11 AM, which was a nice relief. One of my friends who works at the children's hospital pharmacy (attached to the same hospital) stopped by, and Ming and Kim from the lab came by, but each time Sophie would only give me about ten minute's peace between feedings (and I'm still a little weird about flashing boob randomly). Due to car issues, my parents couldn't visit Friday, and Tim's didn't come up till about 8 and stayed till 9:30. And you know what? It was actually really nice to just have it be me and Tim most of the day. I thought I'd be stir crazy or lonely, but once Tim got there, we were our own little family.

He went back home again last night, and I didn't feel bad about sending Sophie to the nursery. Kim from lab, who's a pediatrician, said not to feel bad at all about using the nursery option while I had it. I didn't get quite the sleep last night that I got the night before, but it was still better than nothing. I do have to say--I hope the night sweats end sometime soon. The nurse said they can last a while, but it makes sleeping tough.

Tim came back about 9 AM this morning. Sophie was eating again like crazy, and my milk came in sometime overnight, so now she's getting the real thing. Let me tell you--I knew my chest would get bigger, but I'm about 5 times the size I was when I was pregnant, which was twice as big as I am normally. It's insane!!

We got everything squared away for the discharge, and at 1:30 PM, we left the hospital and headed home. Sophia did well with the ride home, and she didn't seem to mind the change of scenery once we got home either. Macgyver was a little wound up, but I came in the house first, got reaquainted with him, and let him smell Sophie's hat. He was still hyper when she came in, but not aggressive. I had to feed her again almost as soon as we got home. The dog sniffed her the whole time, but no other trouble. I think they'll get along fine.

It's amazing the difference in feeding from even yesterday to today. Yesterday, with just colostrum, she would feed up to 30 minutes on one side, switch and do the same on the other, and then she's hungry again half an hour later. I felt like she never left my chest. Today, she eats for 10-15 minutes on one side and is totally full. She'll sleep for about two hours between feedings and then only spend another 10-15 minutes eating. And we've already had two pee and two poopy diapers since we've been home! Just unreal.

So that's been the experience. She's totally gorgeous. Tim's been absolutely amazing with her, and both of our families have been great and super supportive. Really, other than the tough delivery (and the after effects that go along with it), it's been great. Now, the delivery was tough enough that I'm not real anxious to do this again anytime in the near future. Sophia will definitely be an only child for a while.

Tim and I both look at each other on occasion and think, "They let us take her home?" We're still learning a lot--like how she can pee while you are changing her, soaking her sleeper and the changing pad cover underneath. But, that's what the washing machine is for.

I think we'll be learning for a while. But we do a lot together--change her together, do diapers together, he'll take her when I'm done feeding, etc. It's been wonderful. I know he'll have to go back to work next week, but I'm so glad we'll have at least one more day to learn together.

Tonight is our first night with Sophie full time. I'm scared to death that she'll be too hot or too cold in her crib, or that she'll cry all night and I won't know what she needs. It's terrifying, but it's something we've got to get through. We'll survive it, but I'm not counting on getting a lot of sleep.

But it's all worth it to be able to have Sophia in our lives. She's a little angel.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

She's here!

I am sitting here, typing one handed, because I have a baby in the other hand. That's right, she's here! At 1:27 AM, Sophia Brynn came into the world. I'll give the full story when I have both hands to type, but I just wanted to share the news!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Maybe now she'll come...

Before I got married, "Father of the Bride" was on TV one night when my whole family was together at my parent's house. I got all teary and emotional, as did several other members of my family, and it was just a touching time.

Well, I was channel surfing this afternoon, and "Father of the Bride: part 2" was on. I watched it while Tim was upstairs napping (I'm not the only one sleeping crappy). And of course, at the end when the babies are born, I got all teary and emotional again.

So, maybe now that I've done the unofficial ritual of Steve Martin pre-major life event, the baby will decide now is a good time to come. Of course, if she doesn't, my mom's having family dinner at her place tomorrow night, so at least I'll have something to take my mind off being ten months pregnant.

Still not yet

It's getting depressing to keep having to post the "not yet" message. But what can I do? She's just not ready to come out yet. And so we wait.

Not much of an update--feeling a little bummed out, so I'll wait to post more until I'm in a better mood. Or the baby comes. Whichever comes first.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The weekly update

Despite having a few bouts of contractions that I thought would be the start of labor over the last few days, I still managed to make it to my doctor's appointment this morning.

The weekly stats were 4 cm dilated, 70% effaced, and 0 station, so some progress from last week. The baby's heart rate and everything was fine, and despite being very swollen, I got the ok health wise too. Usually, I'd be pretty pumped about being given a clean bill of health, but what it meant was that I have to wait another week to be induced if she doesn't decide to come on her own :( I guess no medical indication for induction is a positive though, so I'll just try to be patient!

The doctor did sweep my membranes again, and I've already had a few mild contractions and some back pain since then (and that was since my appointment at 11 AM), so I'm hopeful maybe this will get things jump started.

So much for the due date, which was yesterday. But, I know a lot of first time babies come late, so we're just following the crowd I guess! I'm going to hang around at home and hope the contractions don't fizzle out again. I'll let you know if things change!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Not yet

I'm really exhausted, so this will be brief (and maybe I'll update more later). Still no baby. I was hopeful this weekend, but nothing. I'm home now for good--just too tired to keep going into lab. My next appt. is Wednesday morning, and I have a feeling I'll still be pregnant, so I am going to ask what she thinks about breaking my water or even trying pitocin. I'm so desperate to not be pregnant anymore!

I'm having constant contractions, but not strong enough to go to the hospital, and that's tiring. Plus I'm not sleeping from the heartburn, the contractions, and general discomfort. I'm just totally wiped out.

Tomorrow is the original due date. Since I've been dilated/effaced for a month, lost my plug 3 1/2 weeks ago, and been having contractions five minutes apart since the version three weeks ago, I didn't figure I'd still be pregnant on the due date. So much for that!

Friday, October 12, 2007

No baby

That's how I answer the phone now--no baby. I've regressed, contraction-wise, to the point where I went back into work today (I stayed home yesterday, thinking that might be the day). Even now, I'm thinking I may go into work next week if things are still the same.

I think I might just stop gathering information too. I've been checking a lot of websites and message boards about what people's stats were (dilated/effaced/etc) before they went into labor, how long from when they were first at a certain number until they delivered, etc. It just varies too much. Some people weren't dilated or effaced at all before they went into labor, and some were even more dilated/effaced than me and had to wait a while.

I guess I just need to be patient. If I make it until my doctor's appointment on Wednesday, I'll ask her what she thinks. Maybe she'll break my water. Maybe she'll want to wait. I don't know.

I know ultimately the baby will come when she's ready, even if I'm ready now (and have been for weeks.) I did have a symbolic gesture yesterday--I had finished the thank you notes, but I hadn't sealed them, on the chance I'd go into labor soon and have a baby picture to send out with the notes. Last night, I just decided to stop waiting. I sealed them up and mailed them out this morning. No baby picture included, but now at least I'm not jinxing myself by having things waiting on the baby.

I'm not so good with this patience stuff. But, at least work seems to be really good about things--quite a change. My boss came by around lunch time and was really pleasant about it, and he told me he hoped he wouldn't see me Monday. And the girls at work have been super supportive this whole time, which has been great.

I still don't know what I want to do about maternity leave. I don't do well sitting at home by myself--I get so bored--but I don't want to start a ton of things at work either. My mom came up yesterday afternoon. It was fun--we chatted, she made dinner (always a treat!), and we just hung out. Of course, when she went to leave at 8:30, her car wouldn't start. It was pouring, and Tim, my mom, and I are trying to jump her car. We couldn't get it started, so we called my dad, who called AAA. My dad came up to get her, and the AAA guy got the car jumped (figures), so they were both able to drive home about 9:30 or so. Always an adventure with us.

I guess I'm just going to play it by ear at this point. The contractions are back to the Braxton-Hicks, and even the constant pressure I was having yesterday has disappeared. I feel just about the same as I did before my appointment Wednesday. So, my official verdict on the membrane stripping: it didn't work for me. But, it wasn't horrible either, so at least we tried.

I'm just going to wait it out this weekend, but I'll post here if things look like they are moving ahead. Till then, I'm just trying to be patient.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I wish I knew...

So, everything I've ever heard is that, "you'll know when you're in labor, and if you have to ask, then you're not." Despite that, I have no idea if I'm in the beginning stages of labor, or if this could go on for another week or two.

After the doctor stripped my membranes yesterday morning, within a few hours my contractions were a little stronger. Not yet painful, but stronger. I stayed at work the whole day, but I had Tim pick up some last minute things from home just in case I went into labor at work and he had to meet me at the hospital. It turned out that wasn't necessary.

Last night the contractions felt more like increasing pressure. But again, not what I'd call painful. I took a little nap, and they I stayed up until about 11:30 or so hoping things would start moving. They didn't. So, I went to bed (anxious and excited, which doesn't lend itself to good sleep). At about 11:45, I had one good contraction, and I told myself that if I got another one like that, I'd start timing them. I didn't.

I did sleep decently (for me anyway). I woke up this morning with very weak contractions--more like the Braxton-Hicks I've been having for months. As soon as I got out of bed though, the pressure was back. Since then I've been up and moving around. I have occasional contractions with either cramping or pressure, but nothing painful, and they actually feel less strong than some of the ones I had last night.

I'm still home, at least till lunch, because I don't know what's going on. Are the contractions different than they have been? Yes. Are they painful? Not really. Are they regular? No. So, I don't think it's labor, but I do think it's a step in the right direction. The question now is: how long until real labor starts? I'm not even thinking about how long it'll be till the baby's born once labor does start. I just want to know how long till I go to the hospital! (And they keep me!) Once I'm there, the baby will be monitored, and there will be doctors and nurses to give me info. It's the lack of info killing me right now.

For now, I wait. I'm just hoping things get started soon. Today's Tim's dad's birthday. That'd be cool for her--I was actually born on my grandfather's birthday (my mom's dad). Really, any time is fine though. I'm not picky.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The weekly update

Today's stats: still 70% effaced and -1 station, like last week. I'm 3 cm dilated now, which is a little more. And she stripped my membranes, which she said has been shown to not necessarily start labor immediately, but it does prevent people going past their due date. Another MSTP was telling me that she went into her appointment not dilated or effaced at all, had her membranes stripped (by the same doctor), and she was in labor 12 hours later. On message boards and things, it sounds like sometimes it takes a few days, and sometimes it doesn't work at all.

She said that maybe it'll increase the strength of my contractions. I've been having regular contractions for weeks, but they aren't painful. So, they aren't labor. But, if this works and my contractions do increase in strength, then maybe I'll be able to be admitted.

The doctor had me schedule my appointment for next week, but she said she may see me before then. I am hoping! But, I don't want to get too excited. I at least want to have a couple of real contractions before I start making plans.

So, again we wait. At least the weather's better (only going to be mid-50s the rest of the week, instead of 90). And I have things to do in lab today (not that I want to), so maybe I can keep myself distracted.

If anything changes, I'll let you know!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Still no baby! I detect a theme...

Yep, still here. No baby. It's getting harder and harder to wait. I almost wish that I wasn't really dilated/effaced at all--it's sort of like false hope. I've been checking all these message boards and talking to women who recently had kids, and each person's experience varied so widely that it is difficult to compare my situation with theirs.

I've been grabbing onto anything as hope that labor will start soon:
-my face broke out (so maybe my hormones are changing)
-I had a crazy huge appetite this weekend (so maybe I'm fueling my body for labor)
-and then today I have no appetite (so maybe my body's getting ready)
-Gross alert: I've gone from having one stool every 3-4 days to 4-5 stools a day (an old wive's tale that your body cleanses itself before birth)
-I finished cleaning and setting up the nursery, with help (so maybe I'm nesting, even though I didn't get the burst of energy with it).

Or, it could just be that my body's exhausted, and I'm tired of having a messy house. Those are more likely.

But really, it's amazing how desperately I look for any sign things will happen soon. I'm almost 39 weeks by our original date. It feels like forever, but still, all the statistics I've seen are that first babies are much more likely to come after their due date than before. I took all of my dilated/effaced info to mean I'd move faster than most. But here I am, nearly three weeks from first hearing I was partially dilated/effaced, and still no baby.

I'm trying to be as patient as possible. I know she'll come out when she's ready. But it makes it nearly impossible to plan things. Take lab, for instance. My boss was actually pretty non-confrontational last week about my experiments, but I know that won't last forever. I won't have as much done as I had hoped before I go on leave, which is disappointing, but I will finish the last of the small experiments before this weekend hopefully. I just underestimated how feeling tired and crappy all the time would affect my lab work. It's nearly impossible to concentrate.

I'm actually debating about making this Friday my last day at work, baby or not. It's getting tough for me to walk from my parking garage into work. It's hard sitting at my desk or bench in the uncomfortable chairs (and it makes my feet swell like crazy). I'm tired, and I'd be more alert with a mid-day nap, but there's nowhere to do that. I'm just not being as productive as I could be, so I might as well be home.

On the other hand, starting leave early means I get less time home once the baby comes. And while I'm at home, I'll just be antsy. I still have a few thank yous to write from the shower (I was hoping I'd have a baby picture to mail with the thank yous, but that doesn't seem to be the case). So thank yous would keep me busy for a day or so. After that, I'd probably just pace around the house, waiting for the baby. But at least I could rest when I need to. Or sit in the air conditioning, which we thankfully turned on late last week (it's supposed to be 87 and humid today. In October. In Cleveland. What is going on?)

I'm still on the fence about work. Of course, if the baby would just show up before Friday, then I wouldn't have to make a decision. However, something tells me I might be waiting for a while if I wait for the baby to decide.

Anyway, life is good otherwise. I've got some pictures of the nursery I'll load maybe tonight or tomorrow. I'm trying to get copies of the shower pictures too (I am usually the photographer, but since I was otherwise occupied, I'm relying on other people's pictures for this one). I might do some final (hopefully) grocery shopping tonight to make sure we're well stocked. But otherwise, I'll just be waiting.

I've got my next appointment Wednesday morning. I'm hoping there's some good news. My doctor is using a later due date (Oct. 21), so I don't think she's as antsy as I am. The different due dates were no biggie for most of the pregnancy--with the exception of the very first ultrasound at six weeks (which is why we have two due dates), every test and ultrasound has put us on Oct. 16, our original date by LMP. So that's what we kept. My doctor said no biggie, they're only 5 days apart. Except now, five days is a long time. So even though I'll be 39 weeks at this appointment by the original date, I'm 38 weeks 3 days by her later date. Because of that, I'm wondering if she'll be less likely to want to do something like strip my membranes to get things working. I'm going to ask anyway, but she may want to wait another week or so.

Honestly, I think I might be crazy in another week if this baby's not here!

But, I guess it's probably a lesson for me. I can't plan everything. And as long as she's safe and healthy, the baby can stay comfortable for as long as she wants. I'm terribly uncomfortable--if you don't have stock in Rolaids or Tylenol, you may want to buy some, considering how much I've been using. I have horrible heartburn (even with water! or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!), my hips ache terribly, I can't sleep, I pee constantly, and my feet swell so much that I have trouble flexing my ankles. But, as long as the baby's ok, I'll keep putting up with it for a while. I know it's all worth it in the end.

That's it for now. I have this feeling, judging by the Braxton-Hicks contractions (and the lack of any real ones) that it may be some time before little girl makes her debut. Of course, this would be one gut feeling I would be more than happy to be wrong about.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Happy anniversary to me

Today is our 5 year wedding anniversary. Tim was really hoping that the baby would come today. His reasoning was that then he only has one date to remember for two events, but considering how freakish he is at being able to remember dates anyway, I don't really think two dates is an issue for him.

So five years ago today, the remnants of Hurricane Lily had just swept through our area (it was a torrential downpour for our rehearsal dinner). I was so worried we'd have terrible weather for the ceremony and reception, but it was gorgeous. We had some great pictures taken outside. Overall, it was one of the greatest days of my life. I had been very uptight about planning everything up to that point (ask my family how many excel spreadsheets I had). But when the day came, we just went with it. There are moments in every wedding that don't go how you plan (our DJ, for instance, was not good at all). But we had a great time anyway, and hopefully that helped other people have a good time too.

The last five years have really flown. We still haven't been married as long as we dated (dated for nearly seven years), but so many of the important events in my life have happened in the last five years that it's hard for me to remember what life was like before. I wouldn't change it for anything.

So yeah, happy anniversary to us. I don't know if we're going to do the yearly anniversary tradition tonight--takeout Chinese food and cherry coke--but we'll come up with something. We're real romantics, can't you tell?

It's hard for me to think that every anniversary after this one, we'll be parents. I think we're going to work hard to be good parents and still have some us time too. We might not be really good at it right away, but it's something we're planning to work on.

Time sure flies. Well, it flies for everything but pregnancy--I feel like I've been pregnant for years! But I know--soon enough. She'll be here when she's ready.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Moving right along

Not that I think people lie in wait to hear the state of my cervix, but just in case you do, here's the latest from the doctor:

Today, I am 2 centimeters dilated, 70% effaced, and at a -1 station. The baby's head is down (the doctor could feel it during my internal exam).

The -1 station means she's already descended a bit ( floating above pelvis is -5, middle of pelvis is 0, baby's head crowning is +5, to give you a reference).
She didn't think labor was coming super soon--she still had me schedule my appointment for next week--but we're on our way. She said it wasn't out of the realm of possibility for me to go into labor before next week (and she'll be out of town for a few days, so Murphy's law says that's when I'll go into labor). But she thought it might still be a week or more.

Good news is, since the baby's in the pelvis, the chances of her head coming up (and thus our needing a c-section) are very low. There's always things that can happen during labor that necessitate a c-section, but we won't need to schedule one.

So, we wait. The contractions have actually settled down a little over the past few days, so while last week I woke up every morning thinking she was coming that day, now I think it might be a little while.

That's what I know. I'd love for the baby to come sooner rather than later, but I guess I'll keep experiments going for a little while. As pumped as I am that we won't need to schedule a c-section, it would make planning a little easier.

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Still hanging around

I was back to work on Friday, and I'm back again today. Not fun, but considering I don't know when I'll go into real labor, I figured I'd better get some experiments up and running again before my boss has a heart attack.

I don't know when real labor is going to start, but I hope it's soon. I've been having near constant Braxton-Hicks contractions. Friday night they were so bad I didn't really sleep at all. They are very irritating, and it makes it extremely difficult to get comfortable, but they aren't what I would call painful. I do get some that start in my lower back, or give me crampy pain in my lower abdomen, but they aren't the real thing either.

I did get some sleep Saturday night--I went down to sleep on the couch, and I actually got about 7 hours straight of sleep. I haven't done that in months. I felt well rested for most of Sunday, which was great, but I was tired again by Sunday night. And it was back to tossing and turning all night long last night.

I know I was a little dilated and about 50% effaced nearly two weeks ago, and it's been over a week since I lost my mucus plug. I thought that meant things would be moving a little faster. Apparently, that isn't the case. I'm interested to see where I am at on Wednesday when my doctor checks me. Hopefully I've progressed. I have to say though--this time last week, when she was still breech, I woke up every morning with a feeling that labor was coming that day. Now that she's turned, I think we could be waiting a while. Of course, she's been moving around a lot, so I'm not sure she's 100% head down anymore. She's not totally breech again, but she feels like she's more transverse now. But, I don't think that means she can't get head down when she needs to. One more thing for the doctor to check Wednesday.

I'm definitely at that point where I just want to be done with the pregnancy. I know it's actually easier to take care of her now than it will be when she's born. But I'm antsy to meet her, and I'm tired of being pregnant. Besides, the nursery's ready now. We're packed and ready to go. We're prepared. Which means she'll probably take her sweet time.

And, I'm sick of work. My boss, whom I didn't see much of last week (thank goodness for that), is really antsy, and it's driving me crazy. I'm trying to wrap up some loose ends, but I don't want to start this next phase of experiments (that will likely take several months to complete) right before I go on leave. I'm nearly at a good break point. But, I don't think he understands that. I've accepted that I won't have as much done as I wanted to initially before I go on leave. It sucks, but that's life. Unfortunately, he's not of the same mind, so it's frustrating to talk to him about my project. Another reason that the sooner I go into labor, the better.

Anyway, I'm just hanging in there today. I'm very tired, and the contractions are irritating. But, I've got my cells treated for Wednesday's experiment, and I've got seminar at four. At least the end is in sight. For today, anyway.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happily wrong

Well, my prediction was wrong yesterday, and I couldn't be happier. The procedure worked, and we now have a non-breech baby. Hooray!

They hooked me up to the monitor for about an hour before they did the procedure. The baby's heart rate was good, and she was having regular accelerations of her heartbeat, which is also good. The interesting thing was I was having regular contractions about every five minutes. They lasted about a minute apiece, and some were longer. They were mild though, so no one was worried. I did get a shot of terbutaline just before the procedure, which relaxed the uterine muscles.

So, when the time came, they put me in the Trendelenburg position, checked me again with ultrasound, and got ready to go. My doctor had the head in her hands, and the resident had the breech (the butt) in her hands. Another resident kept an eye on things with ultrasound.

It only lasted a few minutes--they said I had a "very accomodating baby"--but it was not fun. I did my breathing exercises and tried to relax as best I could, but there were definite moments of great pain, and the rest of the time was just generally painful.

They kept me on the monitor for another hour or so after the procedure. The baby's heart rate didn't drop much, but they wanted to see the fetal heartbeat acceleration patterns again before they sent me home. Again, the interesting thing was the contraction pattern. They told me the terbutaline should wear off after a few hours, but within a half hour after the version, I was having regular contractions again. And I could tell the terbutaline was still in my system--I felt all jittery and my heart was racing (totally normal and expected side effects). But now, instead of having smooth waves of contractions, the peaks of the contractions post-version were sharp and jagged. They were still relatively mild overall. They sent me home anyway, so it must have been fine.

My doctor didn't do an internal exam yesterday, so I don't know how dilated/effaced I am. I asked her about it, and she said she didn't even want to know, because it wouldn't change anything with the version. Plus, being hooked up to the monitors was a better indication of what was going on than doing the exam. So, I'll know that info at my next appointment on Wednesday.

I felt pretty good right after the procedure. Tim and I walked next door to the lab to just stop by (and get a band-aid, since I bled through the gauze they had on my IV site). We chatted for a while, Dr. B was nowhere to be seen, and then we headed out. I felt really good. My doctor had told me to stay vertical, so we were even discussing going for a walk (which hasn't been comfortable in weeks).

Then, about 5:30, it really started to get painful. I don't know if that was the terbutaline wearing off or what. But I was SORE. My back hurt, my pelvis and hips hurt, and my abdomen hurt. We abandoned the walking idea and just chilled at home.

I took some tylenol, but it didn't help too much. I felt like I had stopped a runaway truck with my abdomen. And since I couldn't lay down yet, I just tried to relax sitting up. Not comfortable at all.

I had originally planned to go into work today. It was supposed to be my last VA clinic before maternity leave, and I had some cells I wanted to treat. The nurse told me yesterday to stay home today (they even gave me a doctor's excuse, which I haven't had since grade school). Considering how good I felt when we left, I wondered why anyone would stay home.

I get it now. I'm in much more pain today than I was yesterday. I couldn't sleep for crap (and neither could Tim, because of me). And tylenol can only do so much. So, I'm home again. I'm definitely going back tomorrow though. As nice as it's been to not be in lab since Monday, I know things will not be pretty with the boss if I take any more time off. Especially now that we'll wait for natural labor to start. I need to make sure I piss him off as little as possible.

So overall, I'm glas she turned. A few days of pain is worth not having to schedule a c-section. There's always the chance that I'll go into labor and end up with a c-section anyway, but it's a much smaller chance now.

Now, we wait. I'm still having regular mild contractions, but my doctor said strength of the contractions was much more important than frequency. And since I can still function (relatively) well, I'm not in labor. The pain and soreness is a constant thing, so I know that's not labor either.

I guess that's it for now. I just had a little lunch (Tim came home for that--he only works ten minutes away--so that was a nice little break). I'm going to wash a few dishes, nothing too stressful, and then try to nap. Exciting stuff!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Baby watch, post 2

Well, Tim will be home in ten minutes or so, and then we're off to the hospital for the external cephalic version. I'm a little nervous, but I really trust my doctor, so I think things will be fine. If I had to make a prediction right now, I'd say they won't be able to turn her, and we'll have to schedule a c-section. I'm even wondering if they'll want to do the version procedure if I've progressed in my dilation/effacement at all. I have to think that physics would say pushing hard on a bag of fluid (the amniotic sac) when there's been a weakening at a point (thinning/opening of the cervix) means I'm more likely to have my water break. Which would mean a c-section sooner rather than later.

I really don't know what to think. I'm still having contractions, but they aren't terribly painful. And with my doctor going out of town starting tomorrow, I don't know when they'd schedule a c-section. I have a lot of questions I'd like answers to before we start this whole process.

But, I'm not worried. Nervous, sure. Anxious, a little. Excited (especially at the thought that there's a chance, albeit tiny, we could have this baby today), absolutely. But I've been really peaceful about the whole thing. I just think that whatever will be, will be. As long as we make decisions based on what's best for the baby, I know we'll be fine.

So, that's it for now. If things do happen today, it may be a little while before I post again. I've got my laptop at work still. I don't know about the computer capabilities of the hospital--I know some sections have wireless access, and some don't. But, if things happen today, maybe I'll have someone walk next door to get my laptop and then post some info.

Wish us luck!

Oh, PS: Tim got smart and turned on the air conditioning when he got home yesterday. So the evening was much more comfortable than the daytime. Sometimes, I'm too stubborn for my own good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Baby watch, post 1

I'm awfully tired, and it's 88 degrees, so this will be brief. No, I haven't had the baby yet, but I think it'll be sooner rather than later. I've been having fairly constant false contractions for a few days. Yesterday, I started having contractions that felt a little painful and crampy. They weren't regular, and they weren't super painful, so I didn't go in. Today, I stayed home on bedrest (basically), and I've been having more of the same type of contractions.

However, my doctor said I would know when they are the real thing. Since I'm thinking these aren't them, I don't think I'm in labor yet. But, since they'll hook me up to monitors tomorrow before the version procedure, I'm hoping they can tell me what's up. And hopefully they'll check and see how dilated/effaced I am.

The heat's been brutal--I should've turned the air on, but it was only going to be hot for one day, so I cheaped out. Oh well. It's already 5:30, so it should start to cool down soon.

Lots to blog about, with the shower being this past weekend and my sister Amy flying home for the weekend from California (a total surprise). It was an awesome weekend overall. But, I'm exhausted now, and that'll get me all emotional again, so it'll have to wait, at least until it is cooler.

I'll try to fill you in after the procedure tomorrow. I've been told it's pretty painful, so I may not be up to blogging right away. But I'll do my best.

Wish us luck!

Friday, September 21, 2007

A mini-update

So here's what I know:

-I called the doc this morning, and her nurse called me back. She said that they usually like to do the external cephalic version to turn the baby at 37-38 weeks. So she said to come to my regular appointment Wed. morning and we'd discuss the plan there.

-She called back later and said that my doctor would be out of town for a few days after Wednesday, so change of plans. They cancelled my regular appointment scheduled for Wed. morning and we'll do the version Wed. afternoon.

-In the interest of full disclosure (and besides, it's not like I'm showing a picture), I lost my mucus plug about noon today. Not too surprising--I was a little dilated on Wednesday anyway, and she was messing around with my cervix, so it probable wasn't too tough to dislodge the plug. It doesn't mean too much, as long as my water doesn't break. If I do go into labor, I just have to tell the doctor on call that I'm breech, and they'll check again with ultrasound and then take me up for a c-section. But I haven't had contractions or anything, so I'm not too worried.

-The deal with the version: I get there a few hours ahead. They do another ultrasound, set me up with an IV (in case of an emergency c-section, which the nurse said was very rare), and do a non-stress test on the baby. Then my doc and another person will do the version. The whole thing only takes about 5 minutes, with stops in between to check the position of the baby. It's not fun, but at least it's fast. Then I'll hang around for a while afterwards so they can monitor me and the baby again.

-Hopefully it'll turn the baby. If, during the version, she's not budging, then they'll stop. And if she's still breech, then we'll talk scheduled c-section. But it sounds like she won't be coming today or tomorrow (as long as I don't go into labor on my own).

That's what I know. I'm trying some positions and postures to see if she'll turn on her own, but no success yet. I guess we'll wait and see!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

That answers that question

So now I know why the baby hasn't dropped yet. It's because her head is up near my rib cage. That's right, she's breech. As soon as the ultrasound probe hit my stomach, I saw her head and said, "Oh no!" No doubt on that one. She's breech, and she's comfortable.

The ultrasound took 5 minutes. Of course, it took more than half an hour to get called back, and then I spent an hour waiting for the doctor (after the technician had already done the ultrasound and told me she was breech). The doctor came in, asked why I was here, and when I said, "to see if the baby's breech," he looked at the screen and said, "yep, she's breech". Duh.

Everything else looked good. We're 36 weeks 2 days, smack on with the original due date (and the one we've been using) of October 16. They checked her heart (heart rate 138, good flow), kidneys, bladder, stomach, brain, etc and it all looked good. They estimated her weight at 6 lbs 7 oz by femur length, which is just under 50th percentile, and her head was just about 50th percentile too. Nice average baby. The placenta was higher (we were placenta previa at the first ultrasound, but haven't had a problem since). I'm wondering if where the placenta is located is part of the reason she's breech--it looks like she's leaning on it--but I didn't ask. There's a good amount of amniotic fluid, and they didn't say anything about the cord, so I'm hoping that's good too.

I have a picture of her face, but it looks a little creepy, so I may not post it. The split second before the tech took the picture, there was a really cute one where she was looking right at the probe. You could see her eyes, nose, and mouth. And then she moved just enough to have it look creepy in the picture :) Oh well, I could tell she was pretty cute. But I might be a little biased.

So, the next step: I wait to hear from my doctor. She's at the other hospital today, so I may not hear from her until tomorrow. She mentioned that we'd try external cephalic version. Basically, it means that they'll try to push the baby down into the head-first position by pressing very hard on my abdomen. Fun stuff. The doctor today said the success rate for first time moms is a little less than 50%. Risks range from the very rare (uterine rupture) to the more common but still not super-frequent (emergency c-section due to a drop in the fetal heart rate). If she can't be turned, then we'll have to schedule a c-section to get her out.

I'm a little bummed about the c-section, but I'll do whatever we need to do. I'm hoping she can be turned. But, at least if we have to have a section, it'll be scheduled. That fits my OCD pretty well.

I wish I would've asked yesterday how soon they would scheduled the version. From what I've read, they like to do it sooner rather than later, since the room in the womb keeps getting smaller as the baby grows. But, if one of the risks is emergency c-section, I don't know if they'll want to wait a bit longer. I guess I'll know when the doctor calls.

I am partially relieved, in a way. I've been having a huge amount of Braxton-Hicks contractions the last two days. Since the doctor told me yesterday that I was slightly dilated and half way effaced, I woke up this morning thinking that I might go into labor before the shower. Like today. I swear, at the VA clinic this morning, I kept willing myself to not have contractions. It didn't work, but at least they've only been the false contractions. No real stuff yet. But every time she jumps on my cervix, I worry that she's going to pop out. Now that I know she's breech, at least I don't have to worry about delivering any time soon. Although if I went into labor now, they'd c-section me.

Anyway, I'm relieved to know the baby's doing just fine, happy to have gotten to see her again, excited that it sounds like she may be here sooner rather than later, and worried that we'll have to have a c-section. I know there's still a chance she can be turned with version (and Ming, who was an OB in China, gave me some exercises to try and turn her), but I just have this feeling we're going to end up with a c-section.

It's not the end of the world to have a c-section (and you don't have to go through labor if it's scheduled), but I'm a little bummed. Part of me is bummed for normal reasons: this is major abdominal surgery, and the recovery is tougher than a vaginal birth. And part of me is bummed for silly reasons: after nine months of book reading and childbirth classes, I feel a little shortchanged that I might not experience labor and delivery. I know--not that I like pain, but it's something everyone talks about. Forever and ever. People still ask my mom and aunts how long they were in labor, etc, and they all have stories to tell. I don't know. I just feel like I'd be missing part of the process.

But, in the long run, the baby is what matters. And if she needs a c-section to come into the world, so be it. I'm delivering at the best hospital around, with the one of the best NICUs in the country should we need it, and I know I'm in good hands. So, what will be will be.

If I hear anything from the doctor about scheduling the version or the c-section, I'll post again. Man, I hope this stuff is all covered by insurance. Things could get expensive really fast.