Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So I'm sitting here watching "The Biggest Loser" and surfing the Web when I should be sleeping (because Harry is sound asleep right now) and I read an entry on one of my favorite blogs, Finslippy, in which the author reports that her son recently had a fever of 111. Yeah, you read that right, and if you don't believe me, check out her entry. I told Aaron about what I had read and said, "If Grace had a fever of 111, I would flip my shit." And he said, "Yeah, I know you would."

And then I realized something. If Harrison had a fever that high, or anywhere near that high, that would also cause me to flip my shit. And then it sank in...I have two kids. I have twice the gripping fear, twice as many reasons to worry when sickness invades our home.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Summer Dreams...

After our first, largely unsuccessful attempt at having a vegetable garden last year, we are rethinking and replanning and restructuring with hopes that this year's garden will yield more veggies and less heartache. (We did learn a lot last year, like how you shouldn't wait until mid-June to plant and we did end up with a couple of HUGE cucumbers, so it wasn't a total loss.) Aaron has been busy planning out the garden and since we live in Wisconsin and our backyard currently looks like this:

we decided to go ahead and purchase some seed starter kits and get the garden started indoors now. A couple of weekends ago, Aaron and Grace planted beans and cukes and peppers in one of the kits, and already we are seeing some results.

Aaron and Grace finished planting the remaining four seed kits yesterday afternoon, so now we have our very own indoor garden growing in our living room.

All of this planting has kicked my cabin fever into overdrive. Yesterday afternoon our dining room smelled of fresh soil and all I could think of was kicking off my shoes and socks and walking around barefoot in the warm grass. I can't wait to be able to take these fledgling little plants out of these kits and get them into the ground outside, and I really can't wait to be able to pick and eat some tasty fresh veggies out of our garden.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Month One

Happy one month birthday, Harrison. One month ago today you came into our lives, earlier than we had expected, and you changed everything. You have turned our worlds upside keep us up at night, you keep us busy during the day, you keep us on our toes, and we are so, so happy to have you.

It's so cool to see your little personality developing. You love to just chill out, snuggling with Mommy or Daddy or Big Sister. You're happiest when someone is hugging you tight and nuzzling your soft cheeks. You hate to be messed with--you hate diaper changes and you REALLY hate baths and if Mommy happens to have cold or wet hands when she picks you up, you wrinkle up your little face and voice your disdain. And when you are awake, you love to just look around, soaking up everything you can about the world around you. You love to listen to what is going on around you and your little face lights up in interest when you hear us talking to you or to each other.

You've only been here one month, and already I can't imagine my life without you, my little man. I love you and you now and forever will occupy a very special place in my heart. How lovely it is to be your mama.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Boob Question

Lately there has been a lot of chatter on the mommy blogs and in the media about breastfeeding and whether or not it really is best for our babies. I'm a little late to this party since I am just getting around to posting about this issue now, but I wanted to throw my two cents out there, just for giggles. And, since I have a newborn at home, this issue is particularly close to my heart right now...

For those of you who haven't read the article that seems to have started this most recent conversation about breastfeeding, check it out here. It's a long article and parts of it irritated the crap out of me, but the thing that caught my attention was the author's assertion that there is no conclusive evidence that breastfeeding is better than formula feeding. According to the article,

"....After a couple of hours, the basic pattern became obvious: the medical literature looks nothing like the popular literature. It shows that breast-feeding is probably, maybe, a little better; but it is far from the stampede of evidence that Sears describes. More like tiny, unsure baby steps: two forward, two back, with much meandering and bumping into walls. A couple of studies will show fewer allergies, and then the next one will turn up no difference. Same with mother-infant bonding, IQ, leukemia, cholesterol, diabetes. Even where consensus is mounting, the meta studies—reviews of existing studies—consistently complain about biases, missing evidence, and other major flaws in study design. “The studies do not demonstrate a universal phenomenon, in which one method is superior to another in all instances,” concluded one of the first, and still one of the broadest, meta studies, in a 1984 issue of Pediatrics, “and they do not support making a mother feel that she is doing psychological harm to her child if she is unable or unwilling to breastfeed.”

So, given all of this, I find it interesting that many, many mothers, fathers, health care providers, and others go to such lengths to convince us all that breastfeeding is so much better than feeding our babies formula. In fact, I was hard pressed to find any good information and advice on formula feeding in any of my baby books or on the baby care websites I frequent, and in Aaron's favorite baby book, The Expectant Father, the author assumes that moms will nurse their babies and doesn't offer any wisdom on formula feeding at all to expectant dads. It's almost like society is making the decision for us, and I don't like that one bit. Isn't it up to my husband and me to decide what is best for our baby?

Now, I understand the benefits of breastfeeding. I understand that it is way, way more convenient than bottle feeding. I know that it provides an opportunity for precious, wonderful bonding time for moms and their children. I also recognize that there is a lot of evidence out there that shows that breast milk is superior to formula. For a lot of women, the decision to breastfeed their babies is a no-brainer. But what about the rest of us??

I nursed Gracie for less than two weeks before I quit. I didn't quit nursing because we couldn't do it...on the contrary, Grace was an eager eater and I had no trouble at all nursing her from the get-go. She had latched on successfully mere hours after she was born and had I decided to keep on nursing her, I have no doubts at all that we would have nursed successfully for as long as I wanted her to. However, my life situation was vastly different at that time. I didn't have the spousal support that I have now and there was so much other crap happening in my life at that time that nursing Grace was way too mentally taxing for me. I needed for someone else to be able to help me out with her feedings, and I wasn't educated enough about pumping and giving breast milk through a bottle at that time for that to be a feasible option for me. So, Grace started on formula at about two weeks of age and she never went back to breast milk. And I think she turned out just fine--she is a healthy, smart, happy, well-adjusted kid. In fact, she is sick way, way less than other kids her that were fed exclusively breast milk. There's my anecdotal evidence that maybe, just maybe, breast milk isn't SO much better at building kids' immune systems than formula is.

When I found out that I was pregnant with Harrison, Aaron and I had some serious heart-to-heart talks about nursing. Aaron wanted me to nurse our baby, but I was still harboring some negative feelings about the experience from the short time I nursed Grace and I wasn't sold on the idea. I promised Aaron that I would make a concerted effort to nurse our new baby but made no promises. So, after Harrison was born and we discovered that he is tongue-tied and physically cannot achieve a good latch-on (well, he might be able to if we clipped his frenulum, but we're not going there yet), the decision was not about whether or not I should nurse, but rather about whether or not I should pump and offer Harry breast milk through the bottle. We decided to go ahead with the pumping, but even with me pumping every three hours or so, Harrison's appetite is way ahead of my supply so we started supplementing with formula for a few feedings each day. Do I feel bad that my baby isn't receiving exclusively breast milk? Not at all. On the contrary, I am thrilled that our little guy has such an awesome appetite and I am happy to feed him breast milk when we have enough available, but I am just as happy to be able to provide him with formula when the breast milk stores are running low.

There's another facet to this as well. One downside of nursing exclusively is that it leaves dads out of the feeding process. Sure, there are lots and lots of other ways for dads to bond with their children apart from feeding them, but there is just something about watching Aaron feeding Harrison that makes me so happy that both of them have that opportunity. And, our parents and siblings are able to feed Harry, too, when they are visiting us, and I know they cherish that time with our little guy since they don't get to see him that often. Yes, mother/child bonding is extremely important, but so is father/child bonding, and grandparent/child bonding, etc. Even Harrison's pediatrician has told me on more than one occasion that he agrees with our decision to pump and supplement because of the opportunity it gives Aaron to feed Harrison.

And then there's the question of going back to work full time while nursing and/or pumping. I would agree that nursing would be more convenient for stay at home moms, but for those of us that work outside the home, there are definite and real obstacles to nursing/pumping. I have to go back to work at twelve weeks postpartum and my employer does not have a room exclusively for pumping. Sure, we have a "women's lounge" that some of my coworkers have utilized for pumping in the past, but how comfortable am I going to feel pumping twice or three times a day while whomever strolls through the lounge on their way to the restroom? Should I go out to my car to pump instead? And will my supervisor allow me a few fifteen-minute breaks each day to go and pump? I'm not saying that these things will absolutely keep me from pumping--in fact, I plan to keep right on pumping once I go back to work--but these obstacles will make things more difficult for me. (Side note...Canada offers new moms one year of maternity leave. One year. We get twelve stinking weeks, and that's only if we've been employed with our employers full-time for more than a year and our employers employ more than 50 employees. Maybe it's time we take a queue from our neighbors to the north.)

I guess what I am saying is that the decision to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, like all decisions when it comes to parenting, is a personal decision. For many parents, it's not an easy choice or one that is clear-cut, but at least let's get the facts out there so that the decision can maybe be a little easier for those that are on the fence. Let's remind everyone that if parents decide not to breastfeed their children, they are not causing their children any harm. Let's remember that there are so many facets to parenting in addition to feeding, and succeeding in all of those areas together make a happy and healthy child.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Today is my original due date...Harrison was due today. He had his own ideas about this, though...

And here I am, snuggling my little man and thanking my lucky stars I didn't have to push an eight-plus pounder out of my va-jay-jay.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Fog

When do babies start sleeping through the night? I have vague memories of going back to work at six weeks postpartum with Gracie and still having to wake up twice or three times a night with her at that point, but I am *hoping* that my memory is cloudy and she was sleeping through the night by then. Pretty sure that's not the case, though...

So Harrison is on a three to four-hour eating schedule, and unfortunately he keeps that schedule both day and night. I took Harry in to the pediatrician on Wednesday for his three-week checkup and his doctor was amazed at his progress...this is the kid who refused to eat when he was a couple of days old, but who is now eagerly eating four (sometimes even five) ounces at a clip and has gained darn near two pounds since birth. Yes, this is a very good thing...Harrison is now on pace with babies his age that were born at term and he's making a near-vertical climb up the growth curb. But damn, this is exhausting.

Gotta jet...Gracie is telling me that I have had enough "computer time" for today...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life With a Baby

So, I know my posting has been scant over the past few weeks, but there's a newborn in the hizzy and I haven't had much time to shower, let alone sit down for a few minutes and think of something (sorta) brilliant to blog about. So here is my feeble attempt to update y'all on My New Life...

Harrison has morphed from feeble preemie into full-fledged newborn, eating and pooping and sleeping on a semi-predictable schedule. He has been eating every 2-3 hours or so during the day, and at night sometimes he sleeps for a 4-hour stretch (although that doesn't happen often), and he has been averaging 3-4 ounces of breastmilk per feeding. I am still pumping every three hours to keep up with Harrison's demand, although I ran into a snag when I had to return my rented hospital-grade pump back to the hospital and I purchased a less-than-stellar electric double pump and my milk supply slowly started to dwindle. Because of this, we decided to bite the bullet and buy the Medela Pump-in-Style last night, so hopefully that takes care of the problem, otherwise we'll be stuck with a very expensive pump and some serious feelings of inadequacy.

Other than that, Harrison is doing really well. He is awake for longer stretches now, so we are able to spend time chatting with him (well, chatting AT him) and gazing into those beautiful eyes. And, although I know it is probably gas, I swear he smiles at me as he drifts off to sleep in my arms...that makes all of the sleepless nights more than worth it.

Lots of people have asked me how Grace is doing with a new brother, and my answer is always, "Better than we expected." Sure, we did have a couple of rough days at the beginning (the first time she saw me kiss Harrison, she said, "You don't love me," and then she ripped my heart out of my chest and tore it into bite-sized pieces. Just kidding about the last part.), but on the whole, she has been doing pretty darn well. She did sleep on her own in her room for several nights in a row right after Harry came home, but now she is back to falling asleep in her room and then coming in by us during the night, and that seems to be working out all right for now. And, she has pretty much gotten over the initial jealousy that she was feeling and even offers to help me out with diaper changes and baths. The best thing ever, though, is when it's time for her to say goodbye or good night to Harrison, and she gives him a little kiss on the head and says, "I love you, little brudder." Cutest thing ever.

And, Aaron and I are slowly but surely adjusting to the sleep deprivation and busy lifestyle that come with having a baby. I did have a mild case of the baby blues the first week or so after we got home, but I must be getting used to my new sleep schedule (or the hormones are wearing off a bit) because I have been feeling pretty okay for the past few days. Now I just need to find time to take a nice, hot shower and maybe grab, like, six hours of uninterrupted sleep...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Defense of Co-Sleeping

Recently, a tragic story broke in the Milwaukee area in which a six-day old girl died while sleeping with her mother. (Link to story here.) Even more tragic is the fact that this same mother lost a child last April, apparently due to the same cause--co-sleeping with her child. Losing a child would be the most painful thing that I think I could possibly fathom, but losing two kids would be enough to land me in a mental hospital for the rest of my living days. I just wouldn't be able to move on. So, before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I am very sympathetic to this mother and that I am NOT judging her, because really, I just can't imagine the pain she is going through right now and my heart is breaking for her.

This story has the anti-family bed peeps foaming at the mouth, I'm sure. Here is just another instance of how those damn liberals and hippies are putting their kids in danger and leading them to death's door by allowing them to share a bed with their parents!! When will they ever learn??!?!

Except here's the thing...this mother admitted to police after her child died that she had gone to a party, gotten drunk, and didn't even remember picking up her children from their sitter or bringing them home. She didn't remember where she had put her poor child to sleep, but said that it was possible that she fell asleep on the couch with the baby. Her other baby that died last year is reported to have fallen asleep under the same type of circumstances.

Anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that I am a proponent of co-sleeping. I shared a bed with Grace for the first two years of her life and I don't regret a moment of it. And, even though co-sleeping is not a goal of ours with Harrison, I have to say that I won't be upset if it happens. I believe that co-sleeping is a great way for parents to have extra time connecting with their children at the end of the day, and if it is done safely, the family bed can have many benefits for both the child and the parents.

That is the key--it must be done safely. Apart from making sure that your bed doesn't have any guardrails or other obstacles that could potentially trap your child, the number one thing to remember when co-sleeping is that you should never, ever, sleep with your child if you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to, "If you are drunk or drugged, these chemicals lessen your arousability from sleep." In other words, if you are so drunk that you don't even remember coming home from a party, you probably will not wake up automatically if you roll over on your baby and smother him or her. Dr. Sears also says, "Parents should use common sense when sharing sleep. Anything that could cause you to sleep more soundly than usual or that alters your sleep patterns can affect your baby's safety. Nearly all the highly suspected (but seldom proven) cases of fatal "overlying" I could find in the literature could have been avoided if parents had observed common sense sleeping practices."

Again, I don't want it to seem like I am judging this poor mother, but it seems to me that common sense was not exercised in this tragic case. A vast majority of us parents who make the decision to allow our children to sleep in our beds with us do put our children's safety first and we ensure that we are taking all of the proper precautions we should take in order to keep everyone safe. We really do believe that we are making the right decision for our family by co-sleeping and we are not just choosing to do it because we want to spoil our kids. I'd encourage anyone who would rush to judge parents (based on this one tragic story) who share a bed with their kids to do some more research and reconsider the facts...again, according to Dr. Sears, "Research shows that infants who sleep in a crib are twice as likely to suffer a sleep related fatality (including SIDS) than infants who sleep in bed with their parents."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Birth Story Part Four: The Arrival

Tater's trip down the birth canal was harder than average although the actual pushing phase of my labor was really quite short...all in all, I pushed anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, depending on who you ask (Aaron says 15, I say 20). As I stated in my previous installment, my dilation occurred very, very rapidly at the end. I was at 6 cm at 2:15pm, and by 2:35-ish, I was fully dilated and ready to push.

But I didn't need anyone to tell me that I was fully dilated...all of a sudden, I felt this incredible, tremendous, undeniable urge to push and honestly, after all of those hours of waiting, that urge felt good. That urge is so hard to describe--it's the most powerful, earth-shattering thing and there is no escaping it once it hits. I screamed at my doctor and anyone that would listen that I needed to push RIGHT NOW and after that final cervical check was done and I was made to wait through one more agonizing contraction, I was given permission to push.

It took me a couple of pushes to get my bearings and remember how to push effectively, but once I got the hang of it, it was like second nature. I tried to get in three good pushes with each contraction (it was like push--breathe--push--breathe--push--cleansing breath), and with each push, I could feel Tater moving further and further down into the birth canal. The pain was excruciating but I could no longer feel the pain in my back. I mentioned this between contractions to Cheryl and she said that the baby was probably rotating into the proper position as he made his way down.

After only a few contractions, I began to have that unmistakable "ring of fire" sensation and I was excited for a few moments because I knew the moment was at hand and Tater would be born soon. I remember being extremely frightened of that sensation when Grace was born and actually pulling back a bit from my pushing efforts, but this time, even though I was in tons and tons of pain, I was able to pull myself together and force myself to literally push through the pain. With the help of the nurses, I grabbed the backs of my thighs, put my chin to my chest, and screamed until I was hoarse through those last few pushes. Suddenly, I was able to see Tater's head and I was being told to pant instead of push--Tater's cord was wrapped around his neck so I needed to stop pushing for a moment so Dr. Fab could pull it off. Then, once I was given the ok to push again, his head was out, and then one push later, the rest of him came. Harrison Glen was born at 2:54pm.

The first thing I said after Harrison was born was, "That's so much better," and that drew laughter from everyone in the room, but I wasn't just talking about the pain being gone (although that was WONDERFUL). After having a miscarriage last year and after having a rough third trimester with this pregnancy, I was just so, so thankful to actually be able to see my son at last and know that he was all right.

After Harrison was born, Dr. Fab told us that she wanted him to go right over to the nurses because he was a little pale (really pale, actually), and of course Aaron and I consented. Aaron and I took a few moments to congratulate each other and cry together, and then I sent Aaron over to the warmer to be with Harrison while Dr. Fab finished up with me. I was still in some pain after the delivering Harrison, but the delivery of the placenta was mercifully easy (I didn't even have to push--Dr. Fab just kind of gently pulled it out) and after Dr. Fab examined me, she determined that I wouldn't need any stitches at all. I had torn only about 1 mm and she said that the tear was so small that it wasn't even worth fixing, so I was super thankful that I would be able to walk away from this delivery without even a stitch much less an episiotomy. (Almost two weeks postpartum now, I know that this made a HUGE difference in my recovery. The pain isn't nearly what it was last time, when I needed several stitches.)

Once I was cleaned up a bit and I was left alone, I rolled over onto my side and watched the nurses and Aaron with Harrison. I overheard that his weight was 6 lbs. 4 oz. and I was glad for that, especially since he was almost four weeks early. His APGAR scores were 7 and 8, and again, I was happy with that, especially given how pale he looked to me and the fact that he was a preemie. I watched Aaron's first moments with his son, and he just exuded happiness and pride as he talked to Harrison and took in the enormity of the moment. He was (and still is) the definition of the Proud Daddy.

It was decided that Harry would need to go to the nursery for a few hours because his blood pressure was lower than the nurses would have liked to see, but before he went, Aaron and I each had an opportunity to hold him for a while. I remember being really concerned about having enough love for another child (I love my daughter so much, after all, that loving another child THAT much seemed incomprehensible to me), but that fear melted away as soon as Harrison was placed in my arms. The love that I felt for him was immediate and all-consuming, and I learned that a mother's love has no limits. I spent a few precious moments holding my new son before passing him off to Aaron who held Harry for a while before he was taken to the nursery.

Harrison ended up spending more than a few hours in the NICU--he actually ended up spending three nights there. His blood pressure rebounded after he was given a bolus of IV fluids, but the concern then became his eating...because he was a preemie, he wasn't able to learn to suck effectively and ended up needing an NG tube for his feedings until he was three days old, when miraculously he started to eat on his own and we were able to pull the tube.

(The whole eating thing did not come easily for him, though. I had fully planned on breastfeeding Harry, despite not having the best of luck nursing Gracie, but Harry is tongue-tied [his frenulum, the little piece of skin under his tongue, is longer than it should be and his tongue is more attached to the bottom of his mouth than it should be], which makes nursing nearly impossible since he is not able to achieve a good latch onto my breast. It also makes any attempt at nursing extremely painful. Our pediatrician told us that if we wanted to, we could have Harrison's frenulum clipped and he might be able to nurse, but honestly, I am not so married to the idea of actually nursing him that I feel the need to put him through more pain and possibly subject him to short-term eating issues. So we are not having his frenulum clipped, at least not right now. I am pumping every three hours and Aaron and I are both feeding Harrison my breast milk through a bottle.)

The other issue Harrison had in his first few days was jaundice. For some reason, Harry's trip down the birth canal left him with a huge, painful bruise on the back of his head--many people that saw him actually asked if Dr. Fab used a vacuum extractor on him because his poor little head was so bruised and misshapen--and it took Harrison's body a lot of time to reabsorb that blood and his liver was not able to handle it all at once, so the jaundice set in. This bought him several days on a phototherapy bed, not to mention lots of trips to the lab for heel sticks. and we were finally able to get rid of that all late last week. Thank goodness.

The bruise that he had on his head is still somewhat of a mystery to me. The bruise is gone now and his head has a wonderful round shape, but it was nasty for a few days. The best explanation that I have been able to get is that he was so high in my pelvis for most of my labor and then made such a rapid descent down the birth canal that his head was put through some pretty major trauma in a short amount of time. Also, both my doctor and the nurse that attended me during labor observed that I have a really small pelvis and that I probably wouldn't be able to deliver a baby over 7 pounds naturally, so that might have had something to do with it as well. Either way, the bruise caused Harrison more than just a bad headache.

We have had Harrison home for a week now, and I have had lots of time to reflect on my birthing experience. Overall, it was a good one...for anyone in the Milwaukee area who is looking for a hospital to deliver their baby, I would highly, highly recommend the hospital where I delivered. The staff, both in L&D and in the NICU, was absolutely wonderful. They made me feel supported and cared for each step of the way and they made a difficult time for our family much more bearable. And, I am so, so glad that I decided to follow Dr. Fab to her new clinic and hospital. I really don't think I could have asked for a better or more attentive OB to lead me through this whole process. I made the right decision on that one.

I also wanted to mention one other person who I could not have done this without, and that is Aaron. I get teased occasionally because I tend to ooze and gush about my husband and how awesome he is on my blog and on my Facebook page, but man, I gotta give credit where it's due. I know this pregnancy was not easy on him, especially since this was his first time going through this and I know that he was afraid both for me and for Harrison. But, he was my rock throughout my pregnancy and he didn't falter during labor and delivery either. He was there for me every second that I needed him to be during labor and he did exactly what I needed him to do without me having to tell him. He joked with me and made me laugh when I needed to laugh, but he knew when I didn't want to joke around anymore and he let me be serious and quiet when I needed to be. He coached me through each contraction and reminded me that I am strong, even when I felt like I was at my weakest. And after Harry was born, he spent a lot of time reassuring me that everything was going to be all right when I'm sure he was just as scared as I was. I just can't imagine going through this experience with anyone else. Thanks, Aar, for being your usual awesome self.

So, that's it! Harrison is home, we're sleep deprived, and we're loving every minute of it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Birth Story Part Three: Epidural, Schmepidural

Disclaimer: This is the part of the story in which the shit hits the fan. If you are at all squeamish about bodily fluids or talk of a screaming woman, you probably shouldn't read this particular post and just maybe wait to read the next installment, where baby is born. If that stuff doesn't bother you, read on...

So, my water broke at 7:05am and I wasn't even sure that is what happened at first, so I decided to call the nurse to see if she could help me out of bed to go to the bathroom. My new nurse, Cheryl, came in, and as I walked to the bathroom I left a trail of clear fluid behind me, and Cheryl said, "Yup, you're definitely ruptured." My heart soared, because this was my first tangible evidence that labor was underway. I also noticed as I walked that I was feeling A LOT more pressure on my bottom, and I considered this a good sign as well. In fact, the pressure was so strong that I had to stop and take several breaks on the way from the bathroom back to my bed to collect myself. Cheryl commented that I was definitely committed to having that baby today now that my water had broken, and I silently laughed at the nurse from the night before who suggested I might be going home to wait it out.

My contractions were also starting to pick up quite a bit. I was expecting this--when I went through my induction with Gracie, the one thing that managed to rocket me into labor was my water breaking, so I was prepared for labor to take off with a bang once that happened this time as well. I made Aaron take this opportunity to go down to the cafeteria to grab something to eat, since I wasn't sure that he would have that chance over the lunch hour. And, although my contractions were coming more frequently, they still weren't at the point where I felt I needed Aaron to coach me through them. I also called my parents to let them know what was happening, and I told them to go ahead and take Grace to school since I wasn't sure the baby would arrive before the end of her school day anyway.

Dr. Fab came in at 8:00am as promised, and she was pleased to hear about my progress. She informed me that another dose of Cytotech would definitely not be necessary at this point. She also brought up something neither of us had considered...the fact that I had had cryotherapy on my cervix a couple of years ago (about a year after I delivered Gracie--I had some precancerous cells on my cervix and they were removed). Dr. Fab mentioned that she thought of this after my 4:00am check and told me that because of the cryotherapy, there was scar tissue on my cervix and that was making it difficult for my cervix to dilate at the same rate a normal cervix would. At this point she checked me again, and sure enough, I was still only dilated 1 cm. Crap.

Cheryl, my wonderful nurse, told me that in cases like this when there is cervical scarring, the cervix tends to "pop" open after several hours of labor and then dilation occurs very rapidly. She also asked me what I had been thinking of in terms of pain medication, and I told her that although I hadn't ruled out having an epidural completely, that I would like to try other methods of pain control before going that route. Cheryl then brought me the consent form that I would need to sign should I decide to have an epidural and told me that I could sign it then and then if I decided that I didn't want the epidural, we could just tear the form up. She also warned me that with circumstances being what they were with my cervix, things could go very quickly and that if I was feeling the need for the epidural, I should ask for it right away so they could start pushing the fluids I would need immediately. The nice thing was that there was no pressure involved in what she was was purely informational and non-judgemental.

Before Dr. Fab left to head into the office, she decided to place a pressure catheter in my uterus to measure the strength of my contractions since she didn't feel that the external monitor was doing a good enough job of tracking them. Having her place that was very painful, especially when I would have a contraction, and I whimpered a bit as it was placed. She also attempted to place a scalp monitor on Tater's head to better monitor his heartrate (since again, they had such trouble tracking it via the external monitor), but she was not able to do so because I had not dilated enough. Dr. Fab said that she was going to head into the office for the morning but that she would be back at noon to check on things. She told me to feel free to relieve her of her morning appointments before then if I wanted to, and I laughed.

As the morning progressed, my contractions became strong enough that I needed Aaron to coach me through them and help me breathe through them. I was even getting to the point where it was helpful to moan through the contractions, and Aaron encouraged me to let it out and do what I needed to do to feel better. In fact, the contractions were strong enough and frequent enough that I asked for a dose of Nubain (I LOVE Nubain) mid-morning, and that took the edge off of the contractions for a while and actually relaxed me so much that I fell fast asleep between contractions. The only bad thing was that even though my contractions were strong and frequent and I had established an active labor pattern, they were still spaced out and they were not becoming more frequent--they had been coming every two to four minutes all morning. At this point, Cheryl suggested a "whiff" of Pitocin, just to pick things up a bit. I agreed, and Cheryl paged Dr. Fab to see what she thought, but Dr. Fab said that she wanted to wait until she came in at noon to see what kind of progress I was making before going that route.

Noon came, and so did Dr. Fab. She noticed that my contractions were getting much stronger (both from the readings from the pressure catheter and from my moaning and yelling through contractions) and so she did another cervical check--2 cm. I couldn't believe it. I was so disgusted. From what I remembered from my labor with Grace, I was having these types of contractions when I was heading into transition, and I was terrified that if I was feeling this way at 2 cm, I would feel much, much worse as my labor progressed. I expressed my frustration at the situation, and Dr. Fab gave me my options. I could wait things out to see if labor picked up even more on its own (which could take hours) or we could go ahead and try the Pitocin to see if we could speed things up. I didn't even hesitate...I wanted the Pitocin, and before I got the Pitocin, I wanted the epidural. I was exhausted, I was in tons of pain, and I wanted things to be over with. I handed my signed consent form to Cheryl and she immediately pushed IV fluids to get me ready. I was very excited that relief would surely be on the way soon.

The one thing that no one mentioned to me was that if cervical dilation occurs very quickly, sometimes an epidural doesn't have time to catch up and it offers only very slight, if any, relief. I suppose in hindsight I would have still gone ahead with the epidural had I known this, but part of me wishes I would have known because I would have had the proper expectations. I was fully expecting to feel tons of relief once the epidural was administered and I thought I would be able to maybe catch a quick nap while I finished dilating.

I was wrong. At 12:45pm, the anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural which was an excrutiating process in and of itself. For one thing, my contractions were stronger than ever and we had to keep pausing so I could holler my way through another one before they could continue. And, because of my terrible back pain, I couldn't sit well at the angle that the anesthesiologist needed me to in order to thread the catheter into my spine, so she ended up having to do the procedure twice. Again, I didn't care so much about that because compared with the contractions, the epidural felt like a bee sting, and I was so sure that I would feel so much better afterwards, I would be willing to do anything. Once the epidural was finally in place, the Pitocin was started.

But for some reason, relief was no where in sight. The first couple of contractions I had after the epidual was placed were a little more manageable--I had to control my breathing through them and I felt a lot of pressure, but the pain wasn't as acute as it had been in the hour or so before. However, after two or three manageable contractions, the pain kicked back in with a vengance and soon I was yelling through my contractions again. Cheryl asked me if I was feeling pressure or pain and I screamed, "BOTH!!" I told her that I didn't think the epidural was doing anything anymore. I felt so angry and desperate and nothing was helping me with the pain anymore. Cheryl went to get Dr. Fab (who had brought her lunch to the hospital with her because she had a feeling things would progress quickly once the Pitocin was started) and another cervical check was done. Suddenly, I was at 4 cm. It was 1:45pm.

Things started to happen very quickly after that. The room started filling up with equipment. Nurses and Dr. Fab were rushing around, putting on scrubs, warming up the incubator, and checking on baby's heartrate. I continued to feel each and every contraction, except now that they were bolstered by the Pitocin, they were much, much closer together and much more intense than they were before. I did the best I could to follow Aaron's lead and breathe effectively through each contraction, but as they peaked, I abandoned any attempt to control myself and just let myself holler as loud as I could until they were over. Cheryl tried to get me to breathe and relax as well, but as any woman who has ever been through labor knows, any attempts at logic or gaining control once you hit transition are futile. All that I could do was hold on to Aaron as tightly as I could and stare at his face as intently as I could to try to keep myself tethered.

At 2:15pm, Dr. Fab checked me again because I was starting to feel A LOT of pressure on my bottom and I was at 6 cm. Then, less than 20 minutes later, I had dilated to almost 10 cm and I was getting ready to push.

Cheryl was absolutely right. My cervix had popped.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Birth Story Part Two: Waiting with Barack

We arrived at the hospital at 2:00pm and breezed through registration, thanks to the fact that I had preregistered weeks ago and the hospital was remarkably on the ball and actually had all of my paperwork ready when we arrived. After registration, an elderly volunteer came down to take me to my room in a wheelchair, which seemed silly to me. After all, I wasn't sick, I wasn't in labor, I wasn't even having strong contractions, but the lady was so nice and seemed to enjoy what she was doing, so I humored her.

Aaron and I arrived at our room and my nurse came to check me in. I was told to change into a hospital gown and then I was put on the external monitors so the baby's heartbeat could be checked. After a good 30 minutes of pushing and prodding at my belly, the nurse was FINALLY able to locate Tater's heartbeat. (This would be a common occurrence while I was in labor...we would pick up baby's heartbeat for a little while, but every time I would shift position, we'd lose his heartbeat again and it would take FOREVER for the nurses to be able to find him again. Super frustrating. The nurses and Dr. Fab couldn't figure out why the heartbeat was so hard to find. Turns out the baby was posterior for much of my labor and he was really, really high up in my pelvis until the very end of things.) An IV line was started, and I settled in to my bed to wait for the induction to begin.

At 4:00pm, Dr. Fab came in to give me my first dose of Cytotech, which felt like nothing much at all. She also checked my cervix and indicated that things hadn't changed much in that department, although she seemed pretty confident that this first dose would get things underway pretty quickly. Dr. Fab told me that she was going to head back to the office and then she was going grocery shopping and then home to make dinner, but that she would be back by 8:00pm to administer the second dose if it was necessary. I felt really, really thankful that my doctor was going to be doing this herself instead of leaving it all to the nurses. And then Dr. Fab left us to wait...

And wait, and wait, and wait...waiting for labor to start is like waiting for the grass to grow. You know it's happening and you know that eventually you will have something beautiful to look at very soon, but it can't happen fast enough.

We made a few phone calls and watched some TV while we waited, and we noticed that President Obama would be making a nationally televised speech to Congress that night, so we decided that we would watch that when the time came. I talked with my brother-in-law, who is as staunch a Conservative as I am a Liberal (but who I love anyway), on the phone and teased him that if the baby would be born during Barack's speech, we were going to name the baby Barack Hussein. However, I still wasn't feeling any strong contractions, so I told him that wasn't likely.

And I was right. Barack's speech started and by this time I had gotten tired of laying in bed (and frankly I was getting frustrated that I was not able to get up and move around), so I moved to the recliner in the room and the nurse propped me up with pillows and placed a warm rice sock behind my back. My back was killing me at this point, and each contraction that I was having--they were coming every few minutes or so, but they were pretty easy to handle--was felt in my back more than in my abdomen. Dr. Fab came back as promised at 8:00pm, decked out in scrubs and her glasses, to place the second dose of Cytotech. I was surprised and very pleased to learn that Dr. Fab was planning to stay at the hospital all night to monitor my progress. We chatted for a bit about Barack and his speech, and Aaron told me that when I was in the bathroom at one point, Dr. Fab commented that her kids often ask her why they are the only Democrats at their private school, and Dr. Fab told them, "It's because we care about people." Love it.

When Dr. Fab placed my second dose she also did a cervical check, and I was not happy at all to hear that I had not dilated at all because I had been feeling regular contractions. But, Dr. Fab was encouraged because although dilation wasn't occurring, my cervix was thinning and changing. She mentioned again that often it can take two to three doses of medication to get things moving so she assured me that when she came back to check me at midnight, there would be more change. She offered the idea that a third dose might not even be necessary. She reminded me that we were basically starting at zero, so I should be patient and try to get some rest if I could. She also rechecked my BP and was happy to see that it had dropped to normal levels. Aaron told her that was because this was the first time in my pregnancy that I have actually laid down for several hours, and Dr. Fab told him that she believed that.

I stayed in the recliner for a bit longer and tried to sleep for a bit, and then when shift change came and my night nurse came to introduce herself, I decided to move back to my bed. My new nurse did a check of my vital signs, and again my BP was well within normal limits. My contractions were still coming every two to five minutes or so but they were not increasing in intensity at all and they were tending to peter out a bit before receiving another dose of Cytotech. The nurse commented that she wouldn't be surprised at all if the doctor decided to send me home and let me wait a few more days, since my BP was fine, and I hated her for even suggesting that notion. I was there, I had made all the arrangements I needed to make for Grace, and I was not leaving without my new baby.

Midnight came, and Dr. Fab came in to administer dose number three of the Cytotech. When she checked me this time, she was able to get her fingertip through my cervix so there was progress there, and my cervix was continuing to thin out. She also mentioned that baby was still floating really high in my pelvis, and I asked her if this was why I was feeling so much pain in my back (it was pretty nasty at this point). Dr. Fab said that she didn't think so, but she brought up the possibility that baby was posterior and this could be causing my back pain. She reminded me again that I should try to rest as much as possible and to drink plenty of fluids because things could progress quickly now that the third dose had been placed. I agreed and bid her adieu until 4:00am.

Aaron was fast asleep on the pull-out bed at this point, and I was so glad that one of us was going to be rested up, because I certainly was not able to get any decent sleep. My contractions were just strong enough and frequent enough to wake me up if I did happen to doze off. And, the suggestion that the nurse made that I might go back home was frustrating enough to keep me stewing. How dare she mention such a thing!! Still, I did my best to rest as much as I could...I even put The Weather Channel on the TV in an attempt to lull myself to sleep, and it worked sometimes, but mostly I just laid in bed and watched the clock.

4:00am came and so did Dr. Fab. She asked me if my contractions were getting any stronger and I dejectedly told her no and I told her that I thought things were supposed to pick up after three doses. She suggested another cervical check to see how I was progressing, and she was pleased (more than I was) to discover that I had dilated to 1 cm and that I had a good amount of bloody show. She told me that although this didn't seem like much to me, it did indicate good progress. I asked her if she was going to administer yet another dose of Cytotech and she said that she would, but she was convinced that this would be my last dose.

And it was. My water broke at 7:05am, and then things got interesting.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Birth Story Part One: A Commonplace Miracle

Tuesday, February 24th:

Last week Tuesday I had the first of my biweekly scheduled NST's along with my weekly prenatal checkup with Dr. Fab. Before my appointment that day, I was busy at work, setting up calls with my client contacts to introduce them to my colleague that would be replacing me when I would be going on maternity leave. I didn't feel particularly bad or anything--I was just feeling really, really tired, but I chalked that up to the fact that we had made our pre-baby trip to Costco the night before and that took a lot out of me.

When Aaron and I arrived at the clinic, the nurse took my BP--161/100. I groaned, but I thought that maybe after sitting for a while for my NST, they could recheck my BP and it surely would come down a bit. So, we completed about half of the NST (Tater looked great), and then my nurse rechecked my BP--it was 160/104. Ugh. We decided to wait until the end of the NST to check it again, just in case, but again, it was elevated enough to be considered severe, so the nurse went to alert Dr. Fab. The nurse mentioned on the way out the door that she would probably be coming back to help me schedule an induction. Once we were alone, Aaron and I ventured some guesses as to when my induction date would be and we mentioned how glad we were that we had had a chance to get a lot of our pre-baby shopping done the night before. We felt a little more prepared now that we had finished that up.

I frowned at Dr. Fab as she came in the room because I could see that she was concerned, and she looked at both Aaron and I and said, "So, is today Baby Day?" It took me a minute to process what she had said, but when I recovered, all I could ask was, "Today?" I looked at Aaron and I thought for a moment that he might fall out of his seat. Dr. Fab told us that she was extremely concerned about my BP, especially since it didn't come down at all after I had been resting for more than thirty minutes. She told us that since I was 36w2d and had been consistently measuring two weeks big, baby would be considered preterm but that the risks of keeping him inside much longer far outweighed the benefits. She said Tater might have to spend an extra day or two in the nursery but that he would most likely be perfectly fine.

At this point, Aaron spoke up. I could tell that he was a bit frustrated because Dr. Fab and I were throwing around terms and acronyms that he wasn't familiar with (this was his first time going through this, after all), and he said, "Wait a minute. You're speaking in code. Are we having the baby today?" Dr. Fab told him yes, that I would be induced that day. She explained that if my BP stayed at the level it was at or went even higher, several bad things could happen. I could seize. I could have a stroke. My placenta could abrupt and we would lose the baby. I watched Aaron's face change as this all sunk in, and he quickly agreed that we needed to get the show on the road so that none of that would happen.

My head was buzzing, processing all of this as Dr. Fab checked my cervix to get a baseline and figure out the best method of induction. I was very, very slightly dilated (Dr. Fab called it "not even a fingertip"), but I was about 50% effaced, so that was something. Since I had not dilated much at all, Dr. Fab said Pitocin was out because she only likes to use that if the patient is dilated a few centimeters. So the method of induction would be a series of Cytotech pills that she would place in my cervix every four hours to force dilation. Dr. Fab mentioned that it might take a couple of doses to get things moving, but she assured me that women rarely need more than three doses to achieve to an active labor pattern.

Dr. Fab asked us when we could be at the hospital, and I asked her if we would be able to head home to pack our bag before heading over there (we were planning to pack our bag that very night). She said yes, so I told her we would arrive at the hospital around 2:00pm (it was noonish at this point). She left the room to make the calls to arrange everything and alert the hospital that we would be on our way, and then she sent me down to the lab to have the pre-eclampsia labs repeated, just in case. (If the gestational hypertension had morphed into pre-eclampsia, I would need to be on IV mag for labor and delivery, so she wanted to find this out before we arrived at the hospital.)

I sent Aaron on his way before I headed to the lab, because he wanted to stop at work and alert his boss about what was happening, and then I sat and waited for my blood to be drawn. An eternity passed before I was finally called back, and when they finally finished up, I rushed out to my car and started making phone calls. My first thought was of Gracie...she was at school and would need to be picked up and taken care of for the next few days. I called my dad, who told me that he had already spoken with Aaron and was aware of what was happening, and that he would be more than happy to come down to Milwaukee to pick Grace up from school. He told me that he and my mom would spend the night at our house with Gracie and that I shouldn't worry about anything. He asked me how I was feeling and I said, "Terrified," (because I really, really was) and then I cried for a while. My dad offered me some much-needed words of encouragement, and then I made a couple more calls on my way home, mostly to tie up some loose ends at work. Finally I called Grace's school to talk to her to let her know what was going to be happening, and to let her teacher know that my parents would be handling school pickups and dropoffs for the next few days.

Aaron hadn't arrived at home yet when I got there, so I took the opportunity to update my blog and send a couple of quick emails, and then I started packing. I planned to be at the hospital two or three nights (depending on how the induction went), so I just packed a few shirts and some comfy pants. When Aaron got home, he finished up the packing while I unpacked our new baby car seat so that we could get that in the car. After a whirlwind of checking lists and packing and quick cleaning, Aaron and I decided that we would leave home a few minutes early so that we could stop and pick up something small to eat on the way. After all, I wasn't sure when I would be able to eat again since I was famished and I didn't think I'd be allowed to eat once I arrived at the hospital and the induction got underway.

On the way to the hospital, I kept looking at what was happening in the world around me. People were going about their normal daily routines, commuting to and from work, shopping, going to school, and no one knew what was taking place inside our little blue car. Everything outside seemed so normal, so ordinary, but my entire world was about to change. I mentioned this to Aaron. He thought for a moment and said, "Yes. It's a commonplace miracle."

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Well, we got to bring Harrison home today, which is a day earlier than our pediatrician had predicted. Harry took to feeding yesterday and we were able to pull his NG tube last night, so he has been eating now for almost 48 hours without any supplementation via the tube. Yay!! We are still not breastfeeding, as little Harry is tongue-tied and isn't able to form a good seal at the breast, but I have been pumping every three hours and Aaron has been feeding him with a bottle, so I suppose that is the next best thing.

Harrison is on a bili-bed due to having jaundice, but hopefully we will be able to get rid of that in the next few days, especially since he has been eating and pooping so well. It sucks having him on that bed all day and not being able to hold him as much as I would like to, but then again, I'm just glad to have him home.

I'm feeling a little dazed...last week at this time we were heading home from our baby shower at my parents' house, completely unaware of what would be coming, and today I am here at home with my new baby and Aaron and Gracie, and so, so much has happened in the past several days. I'll start getting the story down here as we get acclimated to life at home with a newborn and a prekindergartner.

I also turned 31 today. Having my family all at home together tonight is the best birthday gift I could have ever asked for.