A Warm Welcome for Julia Mae Ford

This birth story is more than a week overdue, but I guess you could say I’ve had my hands full.  While hubby is on rocking detail, I thought I would pound this out real quick.

I went in for induction on Friday February 14th at 0700. Upon check in, they checked me and found that I was 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. Julia was still pretty high at -3 station, so it was decided that a Foley bulb would be used first.

Around 4pm, the Foley bulb was removed, and I was dilated to 4cm, 80%. Nice and steady progress. In the hours between the insertion and removal of the Foley, I was able to walk the halls numerous times, bounce on my birthing ball, sit up in a chair, and otherwise do whatever I wished and be on portable monitoring. I loved this.

After the Foley was removed, I then had the Pitocin started. Rather than follow the hospital protocol of increasing the dose by TWO every 30 mins, I chose to have it started at 1 milliunit, and increased by 1 mu each HOUR to start. I did this until the Pitocin got up to about 6 mu or so. My contractions began to ramp up, become more intense, and became more regular. I was checked around 2200, and was still 4cm, and 80%. I chose to continue the Pit at a conservative dosing protocol.

Around 0030, they checked me once again. I was STILL only 4cm. Now, at this point, I asked the resident to go ahead and break my bag of waters. I opted to try a dose of the IV Fentanyl, but to be honest, the half-life of the drug was so short, it wasn’t even really worth it. But, hey, I was equal-opportunity. No heroes here. I learned with my son that unmedicated labor can be a whole different ballgame. I was interested in playing a different kind of ball this time.

As soon as they broke my water, the resident left her fingers in and checked me immediately. I was instantly 5cm and I felt Julia’s head descend. BAM!

The contractions that followed literally took my breath away. Literally. I felt like it was an out-of-body experience. It was at that point I decided to give the ol’ epidural a try. Why not? My eyes pleaded with my nurse, as I asked her, “Can I please have that epidural now?” It was all I could do to be polite and not spout off a string of expletives.

Anesthesia came immediately, and with the help of my fantastic nurse, I was able to make it through three very intense contractions, hold still, and get the epidural in place. Within 15 mins it took effect.

I was in love. Seriously. In. Love. Where the FUCK was this pain relief all my life??

The pressure was still there, but there just was no pain. The block was flawless. My nurse set me on my right side with plenty of pillows, tucked me in with a warm blanket and told me to sleep. She turned off all the lights, and James laid down on his little corner bed as well.

Next thing I know, two and a half hours pass, and I awaken. While I was sleeping, the nurses ensured that my desire of being turned q hourly was honored. Since the epidural is gravity-based, I wanted it distributed evenly. It was. When I awoke, they checked me once again.

I was 9cm, 100%, and -2.

Holy shit. What? I slept from 5cm to 9cm. I felt great. I was smiling, laughing, chatting, and just enjoying the ride. I knew that soon the real work would begin.

Within 20 minutes, I was complete and we began to practice pushing. After about 30 minutes, a decision was made by myself and my nurse that since the epidural was working so beautifully, let’s turn up the Pit, allow the baby to gently come down a station or two, and THEN we can have this baby.

Voila. It worked.

30 minutes later, I began pushing. I asked for the mirror. They placed the mirror at my perineum. Awesome. The mirror allowed me to focus all my energy on the precise location. Best part yet? James was able to take part in the delivery, touching Julia’s head as it descended from the perineum and take video.

I cry every time I watch it.

At 10:01 am on February 15th, 2014, our Julia Mae was born spontaneously across a 2nd degree laceration, (which I’ll take any day of the week with a pound heavier baby and not a 4th degree tear).

I could not have asked for a better experience. I am forever in debt to the residents, attendings, nurses, and other staff members for an awesome labor and delivery. Now, we settle in and become a family. Sleepless nights, sleepy days, and finding our way in parenthood.

introducing Julia Mae Ford

introducing Julia Mae Ford

 

Making sweet introductions.

Making sweet introductions.

Dear Baby Girl

I’ve had these thoughts in my head for quite some time, and now that you’re about to make your long-awaited debut, I decided it best to capture them. Here. Now.

In mere days/hours, we will greet you for the very first time. To say that we are excited is a complete understatement. I remember peeing on the pregnancy test stick for the very first time, doing my best to calculate your due date. It seemed so far off. So distant. So far removed from that very moment.

The days, weeks, and months have passed.

I sit here typing this while you are squirming happily inside my belly. I marvel that you still have enough room inside to make any movements at all, yet you do. You reassure me constantly with your squirms, punches, kicks, and with the gentle rise and fall of my belly as you show me your practice breathing skills.

We love you very much, baby girl.

You are truly a love personified, and your daddy and I cannot wait to see what our love looks like in the coming days. We have dreamt of this moment, and while happy tears sting my eyes right now, I know that somehow I will have known you all along.

Let’s talk a minute about your daddy…..

Never has your mommy known a better man. Your daddy is a kind, loving, thoughtful, generous, funny, man. He waited many, many years to be a daddy, and now that the time has come, he is beyond thrilled. He will make you laugh. He will make you think. He will challenge you to be the best person you can become.

You will be loved fiercely. Protected unconditionally. Adored constantly.

Mommy still can’t believe it all. Even as all these months have passed, and my belly grows with the weight of you inside, it’s still surreal. I truly thought my days of becoming a mother again were over. Your brother was born January 25th, 1999, and I never thought that almost 15  years later, I would find myself pregnant with you.

Life holds many surprises, mark my word.

Speaking of your brother, he is a kind, tender, smart, loving soul. He is 15 years old now, and while that is a considerable gap of time, I have no doubts that over time, you two will find a way to become close as siblings. It’s my wish to have my children know and love one another.

My children…..wow. I’ve gone from ‘child’ to ‘children’ in a relative blink of an eye.

And mommy? Well, I write this letter to tell you how much I love you even before you leave the relative comfort of my belly. You are a gift to me, to your daddy, to your brother, and to all of our family. The anticipation of your arrival is palpable.

So, with all that said, when you are old enough to read this for the first time, I want you to remember a few things:

Be kind to everyone you meet. Kindness is free. It is appreciated and reciprocated. When in doubt, be kind.

Be compassionate. Whether you say it with a good word, a good deed, or something in between, show others you care.

Be a good friend. When you form friendships, remember how special those people are in your life. Friends will lift you up when you’re down, listen when you need it, and provide a listening ear when you need to talk. 

Be honest. Tis better to be honest and deal with consequences than lie and deal with the hurt later.

Be passionate. Live a life of gusto and filled with all the things you want to accomplish. We only get one chance to live, so take full advantage. Don’t look back with regret at what you wished you could have done. Do it. 

Be polite. Say thank you. Say please. Show appreciation to those you love and those who love you.

Be conscientious. Study hard. Do your homework. Don’t be late. Work hard. 

Be proud of yourself. No matter how well you do something, be proud of the results, and more importantly, be proud that you tried it in the first place.

Be respectful of yourself and others. Don’t allow others to take advantage of you, your body, or your mind. In turn, don’t disrespect others in the same way.

Time is fleeting. I hope you read this letter someday and realize most, if not all, of what was written. Life is precious, and with you in ours, it will be even more special.

We cannot wait to meet you soon, baby girl…..

Love, mommy and daddy

The Home Stretch

37 weeks and counting.

We are now down to literal DAYS before we greet this special little gal that is currently burrowed warmly inside my uterus. Amazing, really. Everything is ready. Clothes washed and put away, furniture built, bedding complete, glider rocker currently being broken in, cloth diapers at the ready. We wait for nothing, except baby girl.

What a journey it’s been….

While I would love to say it’s flown by, that’s not entirely true. Looking back, I can say that maybe it has at moments, but now that I’m on the verge of having my second child, I think it’s progressed about like I thought it would.

As for me, baby girl has ‘dropped’ into my pelvis, and perhaps the best news of all is that at our last appointment last week, we were treated to a special surprise. After weeks of being breech, baby girl made that big flip, and she’s now head down. To say that we were all shocked would be an understatement. The gasps in the exam room were audible. It was a sweet, sweet surprise. To see that beautiful round head presenting first was beyond awesome.

Locked and loaded

Locked and loaded

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to be able to have another vaginal delivery. I would have been fine with a cesarean section if she stayed breech, but now that she flipped, I am beyond giddy with the possibility of repeating what I did 15 years ago. More importantly, and perhaps selfishly enough, I am so happy that James will be able to experience a more natural birth experience. For a man who has waited many years to become a parent, I think this will be fantastic.

Let’s do this.

I’m ready. Technically, if labor were to start at this point, there would be no stopping. I’m keenly aware of this with contractions ramping up, becoming stronger, more powerful, yet still irregular (for now). The weight on my pelvis is real and heavy. Hips and back ache fiercely when I’m up and walking. My fingers resemble small Vienna sausages.

Of course, there are sensations and feelings I don’t quite recall from my last pregnancy, yet they are here, making their presence known.

I don’t remember anyone saying that your labia would resemble tumescent, gravid earthworms. Oh my.

The gas? Oh mercy. I can clear a room in seconds flat. If you don’t believe me, ask my husband.

The sweating. Jesus. I dimly recall feeling ‘warm’ during my last pregnancy, but this time? I am a fucking blast furnace turned on HIGH. I wake up soaking wet with sweat, thinking, “Am I in menopause?” only to look down and see my protruding, round belly, gravid with life.

The hormones. Last pregnancy, I don’t really recall these being any big deal. I wasn’t overly weepy, I wasn’t overly pissed. I was pretty even-keeled. This pregnancy? I cry at ASPCA commercials (well, maybe that’s a bad example. I think everyone does), or seeing a mother/daughter duo holding hands at the local car wash. And, ahem. Sex? Well, let’s just say there’s no problem there. I think at one point I was scaring my husband. I resembled the little Chihuahua humping the leg of the Great Dane.

The incontinence. Sneezing has become a contortion of legs crossing, hurriedly finding a chair to sit in before letting ‘er rip. If not? The flood gates just might open. Coughing is a close second.

The body image. Last time I was pregnant, I gained MUCH more weight, yet cared MUCH less about my appearance. This time? I have broken down, naked, in front of my husband, pleading with him to help me understand how he can love THIS body, THESE huge tree trunk, cellulite-marked thighs, THESE massive boobs that rest oh-so-sexily on top of my burgeoning belly. His response? He hugs me. Kisses me. He rubs his hands gently on my belly. He tells me that this is a temporary state, and that I am CREATING LIFE INSIDE MY BODY. That can’t happen without a bit of remodeling. And the best part? I believe him. And he believes it, too. How do I know? See entry above re: hormones, Chihuahua vs. Great Dane.

So, for now, we wait. We count down the days. With every hour that passes, we realize that our unit of two, will soon become a family of three. Yet, only baby girl knows the deal. She’s in there just biding her time, growing stronger, and deciding the exact moment to break free.

Tough Love

This morning in the grip of insomnia, as I perused my usual haunts on my smartphone, I stumbled across a post in a group I’m a member of on Facebook. The group is a small one of women who are all pregnant and due in the same time frame as me. We have grown close to one another, even though we haven’t met. We share in each other’s triumphs, joys, heartaches, and milestones.

The post that caught my attention was one about weight. The dreaded weight gain. It rears its ugly head often it seems, especially with pregnant women. We all say we won’t focus on it, yet somehow it always comes back to that issue.

I finally decided to expand upon my thoughts later this morning, and below is the exact post. I believe in every single word….

I feel as if I need to make this a separate post to expand upon my thoughts I shared earlier this morning in response to a concern for feeling less than beautiful and weight gain that we all deal with.

I am sitting here typing this post unshowered, hair a mess, boobs unrestrained, resting on my big belly, same big belly resting comfortably on the tops of my huge, cottage-cheesy thighs. And you know what?

I could give two shits.

I’m 45 years old. I’m pregnant. I’m ecstatic. I’m chubby. I’m in love with my husband. I’m in love with this baby inside my belly. I’m letting it all go. All of it. All of the self-loathing. All of the self-doubt. All of the insecurity.

You know what I do when I’m feeling less-than-desirable? I strip down naked and stand squarely in front of my husband. I smile. I dance around with my fat self, and tell him that I’m glad he knew me and met me when I was many, many pounds lighter, but this is the here and this is the now, and this is reality. And if he can love me for all my new curves, new flab, new cellulite, huge belly, fat ass and all, then I can, too. Spend some time viewing your body with objectivity, rather than negativity. I bet if you all ask your significant others, they will tell you how much they love you because YOU ALONE are bringing them a HUGE gift. A gift they perhaps can’t bring themselves. Isn’t that worth a few extra pounds?

We are bringing new life into the world, mamas, and that is no small feat. I’m getting tears in my eyes just typing this, thinking of all the mamas that didn’t get to this point in their pregnancies, and are perhaps even a bit jealous that they didn’t get to put on that weight for their babies, and I’m also thinking of all those women who NEVER GET PREGNANT. We are an honored group of women. WE GOT PREGNANT. Don’t ever forget the enormity of that.

As I said earlier, we are all allowed a bit of time for a pity party, but please, please remember the bigger picture. This body of ours is doing what it does for a reason. The reason is just below your boobs and just above your crotch. Don’t forget that. 

I love you one and all, and we have all traveled quite a journey to be here, some longer than others, and we deserve to love ourselves, too.

Now then, if you’ll excuse me, I have to figure out if I’m having mac and cheese for lunch or if I’m going to have McDonald’s. 

xo

Let’s Get Real

Most recent routine OB appointment this past Friday suddenly put everything into perspective and things got really fucking real.

We are having a baby.

And she’s coming soon.

This past Wednesday, I found myself in the middle of a work meeting and contracting more than really should have been happening, so I ended up spending a few hours in Labor and Delivery at the hospital where I will eventually deliver. While I wasn’t thrilled about going, it was nice to have a ‘dry run’ of sorts. All ended well, and the contractions were knocked out with a liter and a half of Lactated Ringers. Baby girl was beyond reactive on the monitor. She was indeed so active, the nurse had a helluva time KEEPING her on the monitor. I chuckled. She’s already a spitfire.

Friday I recounted my visit to L & D with my NP. In the course of the conversation, it came up that after an ultrasound there, we found that baby girl is sitting squarely on her bottom. Frank breech.

frankbreech

 

Shit, she already seemingly has the concept of yoga down pat.

With this development, it was discussed that she really has three solid weeks with which to turn herself around. If she fails to flip vertex (head down) by my next appointment (1/13/14), we will go ahead and schedule my cesarean section. After going over all the pros and cons of surgery, discussion with my husband, and an external version, I had made the choice to go ahead with the decision of surgery, if necessary.

Am I disappointed? Let’s define disappointment. I won’t lie: I would love to attempt another vaginal delivery, but not with a breech baby. I’m not THAT confident in my hips and pelvis, and to be quite honest, I’m not willing to jeopardize this little princess that currently floats on her bottom inside my womb. It’s just not worth it. If she flips, I’ll give it the ol’ college try, and be happy with that. If not? Book the OR, Dano, and let’s get this show on the road. I originally felt as if I was cheating my husband out of the whole birth experience by opting for a cesarean section, but as he so adamantly told me, “We worked hard to get her to this point. Let’s not negate that by being selfish regarding which means she enters the world.”

He’s absolutely right.

Oh, and let’s not forget my lady bits. Fifteen years ago when I delivered my son, I became the proud mother of not only an 8-pound baby boy, but a lovely fourth degree laceration. I won’t post a picture of that. I’ll let you Google it on your own. Suffice it to say, when you are unlucky enough to get one of these, it can be the ticket to an immediate cesarean without question. Google it. You’ll see why.

So, for now we wait. And we wonder what’s going on in there. As of my appointment this past Friday, she had mixed it up a bit. Baby girl was now not only breech. She is a footling breech.

footling breech

 

This might explain why I feel this almost constantly:

So, after discussion with my NP, I realized that either method of delivery is a win. Vaginal is good, and I kinda know what to expect anyway, and cesarean is okay, too. Safe and healthy for mom and baby is key. Priority number one.

With cesarean discussion, NP said she would like to schedule the surgery at 39 weeks or so.

This means we could be meeting our daughter around 2/7/14.

Holy shit.

There is a light at the end of this pregnancy tunnel, and it’s only weeks away. We may actually have a DATE to meet our baby girl. I guess that finally just hit me over the head like a damn brick.

Ow.

We’re getting there, baby girl, we’re getting there.

baby girl

The Best Laid Plans

31 weeks today and all the focus has turned to birth plans.

Do you have one? Do you want one? What’s in it? What do you want? What don’t you want?

I’m probably basing most of my birth plan on a few different things: I’ve been through this before. I’m a nurse. I worked in Labor and Delivery for 7 years, side-by-side with some of the best, and yeah, I think I learned a thing or three. And above all else, don’t take yourself too seriously.

Here goes:

Hello, one and all! It’s your lucky day! Why? It’s delivery day for James and Lisa! Now, before you cringe and roll your eyes at yet another detailed, overdone version of a birth plan, hear us out.

First and foremost, thank you. Thank you for doing the job you do every single day. Our wish is to allow you to do your job today as any other day, without much in the way of primadonna requests from us. We are keeping it quite simple:

-If I come in ruptured, just give me enough chux to sop up the baby soup. I don’t expect you to wipe my hoo-ha constantly. Just gimme something to keep from flooding both the bed and the floor, and we’re good. 

-We will bring our own Hippity Hop birthing ball (minus the fun handles), and I’d love to bounce around the room on it. Sorry if that means for irregular fetal tracings on the monitor….

-Getting in the shower to relax sounds like a great idea, but I’ll be honest, I probably won’t.

-If at any point I see, smell, or hear about any sort of food item, I may sweetly beg you for a bite, a drink, or a taste. Humor me. We both know that labor is hard work, and a damn Reese’s Peanut Butter cup isn’t going to make or break this party.

-My husband is a rookie. I’m the semi-seasoned veteran. Focus most of your attention on him. He may need it. If he looks pale, just make sure he has a soft place to land. 

-Pain medication? I’m open to it. Please extol the virtues of them all. I’ll listen with rapt attention and decide from there. If my last delivery is any indication, I will most likely opt out, but it still doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear about it. Just for fun, if the anesthesia peeps are hanging around the unit at the time, bring them in. If he’s handsome enough, I just might let him put in an epidural.

-Last delivery I was mortified that I might poop. Did I poop? You betcha. This time I could care less. I’m giving fair warning now, though, that if I decide I need to get up and have a bowel movement during labor, don’t be surprised if you already see the Hershey highway as evidenced down my ass crack. It happened before, and I’m quite certain it may happen again. C’est la vie!

-As my labor nurse, you are the gatekeeper. You get to decide who comes and goes, who stays, who’s in the way, and who’s just generally pissing you off. I leave it in your capable hands to decide when to call the doctor, because quite honestly? I know you can deliver this baby with your eyes closed in just about any crazy position I may find myself.

-If I’m not too fat, and can actually REACH my perineum, yeah, I think it would be kind of a thrill to feel the top of my baby’s head during crowning, but honestly? I’ll probably be so consumed with the intense fucking burning sensation that is radiating from my vagina and around to my asshole during crowning, that I’ll probably forget. Don’t bother to remind me. It’s ok.

-As the lucky recipient of a fourth degree laceration with my last delivery, I’m beyond open to alternate birthing positions: dancing, squatting, scissoring my legs in the air, side-lying, all fours, naked, interpretive dance, whatever. I leave it up to you. Let’s have fun with this.

-I won’t be eating, planting, or using my placenta in any other way. If it looks particularly cool or has some neat design in it, sure. We’ll be happy to take a gander. Otherwise, toss it right into that red bio bag.

-For the cord cutting ceremony, we prefer to use our own Hattori Hanzo sword. We are huge Kill Bill fans.  

-Once baby girl actually emerges, as tempting as it is to have her crawl up my body to sniff out my breasts and immediately begin breastfeeding, feel free to get a good hold of her, do what you need to do first, then hand her slimy body over to me. I’ll have my ginormous breasts out and at the ready.

-Immediately after delivery, I would love ice. Not just for the possible gaping bat cave that my have once represented my vagina, but for the champagne that we would like chilled. We will provide the stemware. If there weren’t such a strict policy regarding drinking on the job, I would most definitely have you join us. Maybe after you clock out?…

-Once baby is safely delivered, tucked into my waiting arms, I only have one more request: a huge high-five from my nurse and OB/resident. WE FUCKING DID IT!

Now, let’s get this party started, shall we?