Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day weekend

My sister Stephanie, her husband Brandon, and their two kids Craig and Abby came for the weekend. They stayed at a hotel and swam in the pool and hung out with us in the evening. Everyone loved Olivia!

And we made chocolate cake!

Heidi made it into town today!

And this is me sporting Olivia in the sling that Juliet gave me! Love the sling! Thanks!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A few updates...

On Wednesday, we went back to the pediatrician for a weight check and a breastfeeding check. Olivia gained one whole pound!!! She weighed 9 lbs 11.5 ounces! She also grew a quarter of an inch, so she is up to 21.25 inches. Amazing!

Mom goes home today, and Steph, Brandon, Craig, and Abby come in tomorrow. Heidi comes on Monday. I'm so thankful for all of Mom's help this week! I was definitely able to get a little more rest with her here helping. I'm excited for Steph's family to come and see Olivia as Craig has already asked if she looks like him and Abby wanted to name her! Heidi's staying for a week, and I'm thrilled for the help there, too!

Breastfeeding is still going badly. I try nursing once a day, but Olivia doesn't get much and I pump anyway. I'm still not producing enough for her, either, so we will probably quit this experiment when Heidi goes home on June 6. Maybe I will continue through my maternity leave if I feel like I can handle feedings and pumping on my own. (My max production has been 115 mL, which is almost 4 ounces. But, it varies widely, and the average is probably more like 65 mL. Since Olivia takes between 90 and 135 mL, it is a little frustrating given that it takes almost 30 minutes to pump, 20 minutes to feed her, plus about 20-30 minutes for prep and clean up. Every three hours makes for little resting time in between.) The doctor was pleased that I have been trying, though. The Reglan, the Fenugreek, more rest, oatmeal, etc. have all been tried. I don't feel badly about it now, though, as I have definitely given it my best shot. Who knew that nature just doesn't work sometimes? The good news is that my sweet baby is growing and is healthy. Thank goodness for formula!!! I figure that if I stop pumping and just do formula, I will have hours of extra time with her, so that is incentive to stop. However, even the little milk I can give her has all those good antibodies, so I am loathe not to try!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Settling in...

Olivia is gazing at us when she is awake, and follows an object in front of her in about a 90 degree arch. Her tummy time has been worthwhile as she is lifting up her head with more and more control and regularity. She is grunting and tweeting and making other sweet noises. Her cries still aren't too intense...except when she has a bath and is cold. She is eating about 105-110 cc's of total breastmilk plus formula (and I am making between 70-85 cc's of breast milk each feeding). Her days and nights are mixed up, so she has been up most of the night and sleeping much of the day. Thank goodness Mom is here to help, as this is a routine I am not used to!

Nicholas continues to be a wonderful hands-on dad. I am so thankful for that, too! He can do everything I can do except make milk. Olivia loves to sleep on her daddy's chest and gaze into his eyes.

I am really enjoying Olivia. Since I don't nurse her more than once per day (and she is so lazy at the breast that I have to pump after anyway), I have been laying with her on my chest, too, to get some good bonding time in. We've been reading "Olivia," "Olivia Acts Out," "Clifford," and "Animals," which is a black and white board book. I love the "Olivia" books, which are about a little pig named Olivia who is sweet and precocious. We've been rocking and walking and talking and generally just loving Olivia.

I've been trying not to feel guilty that I get VERY LITTLE done in a day. Mom has been cooking and cleaning and walking dogs, and I have been eating, sleeping, pumping, and spending time with Olivia. When all my help goes home and reality sets in, I will have to adjust. But, for now, I appreciate the help and the time it affords me to spend with my baby.

I've decided that although I have done some difficult things in my life (ran a marathon, studied for and passed my PhD qualifying exams in one round, finished that PhD in mathematics in four years, gave birth without pain meds), feeding Olivia has been the most difficult. I want to quit at least once a day, but I am hanging in, one a time.

After a feeding while I am pumping and looking at Olivia:

When Daddy feeds her:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Letting go of my pre-conceived notions...

So, I've decided to quit being mad at my body. After all, it did help make a beautiful, healthy baby girl. So, it can only produce 2 - 2.5 ounces of milk per feeding while Olivia needs 3 - 3.5. Well, at least it can produce some. And kudos to science! Thank goodness for the pump or Olivia wouldn't even be getting that much from me since she can't seem to suck hard enough to get it. I'm also taking the herb Fenugreek and the prescription medicine Reglan. I'm not sure if they are working or not. I just started the Reglan yesterday and I am on it for 24 days only. Hopefully, it will work, but if not, then so be it. My new short term goal is to continue pumping until all my help goes away. Jane left today, my mom comes in tomorrow, Stephanie comes in next weekend, and Heidi comes in the following Monday. So, by the time everyone goes home, Olivia will be 30 days old and I will have given breastfeeding my best shot. Dr. Roberts says to give it a month, so that is what we will do! I feel a lot better now that I am not so angry at my inability to produce enough milk. It could be worse...I could have none at all!

My sweet little bird continues to awe Nicholas and me. Her little faces and little tweeting noises are beyond cute!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

12 day well child visit

Today we had Olivia's "two week" well child check up. We went in early because of the clogged tear duct, and it was just that. Apparently that is very common in newborns as often the tear duct isn't open at birth and hust needs time to do so. We've got drops to be on the safe side, but Dr. Roberts says it will clear with warm compresses and time.

Our biggest issue on the agenda was breastfeeding, as I was on the verge of breakdown this morning...I just couldn't keep up the pace of hour-long "feedings" every two hours. Dr. Roberts didn't like the back and forth suggestion of the lactation nurses. Instead we are exclusively pumping for 48 hours as she thinks the real problem is a lack of stimulation from Olivia and a lack of sleep for me. Only pumping allows Nicholas or Jane to feed while I pump, cutting down my time by half. Then I can get some rest. This has been working so far, and I feel like this is something I can manage. Stay tuned...

Olivia has grown .75 inches in these 12 days and is up to 21 inches long. Her weight today was 8 lbs 11 ounces. Dr. Roberts okayed walking outside with her. I did that today and it was wonderful! We're also okayed for visitors, but not crowds until her 2-month shots.

I love Dr. Roberts! She gave me a plan I can do and feel good about, and even hugged me on the way out!

Tid bits

(1) I've given myself the option to quit breastfeeding. This actually makes it easier for me to continue...knowing that I can quit if I just can't do it anymore.

(2) I think that this is my just desserts for ever having judged anyone else about not breastfeeding. Not that I have ever said anything, but when someone told me "it didn't work out" or "I just couldn't do it," I always thought, "I'm going to do it no matter what."

(3) Olivia has a clogged tear duct in her right eye. It keeps swelling shut with goo. We are going to the doctor today instead of tomorrow or Friday for her two-week appointment so she can check it.

(4) I walked with Ringo for 15 minutes last night, and unlike seven days earlier, my pelvis did NOT feel like it was going to fall apart. I am on the road to recovery. I am ready to walk with Olivia, but we are going to check with the doctor to make sure it is okay.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pictures and video!

Before eating:

Making her mad to wake her so she'll eat:

After eating:

Monday, May 17, 2010

10 day update

We had a BIG day today! Olivia and I went out together alone for the first time. At ten AM we went to have her newborn pictures taken, and I must say they are going to be even better than I expected. Looking at Lindsay Smith's work on her website, I can tell you that Olivia is the most beautiful baby she has ever worked with. Lindsay showed me pictures as we were going, and the are gorgeous! She also said that very few babies get such good photos (smiling, sleeping, and alert shots) and that not all babies are cute, but Olivia is beautiful! About 3 weeks and we get to see the results! The "photo shoot" took three hours, during which time I nursed her twice and she urinated all over me in one of her naked shots. All worth it! I can hardly wait for the pictures!!

At 2 PM, we had our lactation consultant appointment. Olivia has gained back her birth weight and she is now 8 lbs 10.4 ounces, so she is gaining well. (The rest is about breastfeeding, so skip if you are squeamish.) I told the nurses how discouraged I am because I am still supplementing with formula because I am not producing the 3 ounces per feeding that she needs. I told them that I am still doing the triple feed: breast, expressed breast milk, and then formula. Then I pump. All this takes about an hour, and I was trying to do it every hour and a half to ramp up production as everyone says feeding more is a sure-fire way to ramp it up. They said that a "lesser woman than I" would have thrown in the towel by now and that I should be commended for (1) listening to myself and continuing supplementing even though they said to go exclusively breast by Saturday (I did that for 12 hours and Olivia was extremely agitated. She was just too hungry.) and (2) maintaining that crazy routine. They weighed Olivia, and then watched me nurse. The diagnosis: Olivia is an amazing latcher and a "lazy sucker." Ha! So, I was nursing her at each breast for 10-15 minutes, but she was only sucking about 4. Also, I still have a lot of swelling and knots in my breast that are difficult for her to pull down. The solution: (1) The herb Fenugreek for me to ramp up production (and a prescription from the doctor if the herb isn't working by Friday), (2) more water and oatmeal for me--oatmeal helps bring in milk, (3) nursing Olivia naked, agitating her, and moving her from breast to breast three-four times per session (right, left, right, left, right, left) so that she is only at the breast 4-5 minutes per, and (4) continuing to pump after each feeding while kneading at the knots. We had six hands going at my lactation appointment, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do everything myself, but it is all working out. This past feeding, Olivia didn't take any formula! Hooray! I feel very positive that this is going to work itself out. They weighed Olivia after I nursed, and she was 2 ounces more. So, I am providing her about 2/3 of what she needs. I'll hopefully be able to close the gap soon.

The lactation nurse also commented on what a beautiful baby Olivia is. She asked me if our baby pictures looked alike, and I told her I thought so. She said, "Olivia is beautiful. You aren't so bad yourself, but your baby is gorgeous!" Ha!

Nicholas's mom, Jane, came into town on Saturday and has been helping with the house, cooking, and watching Olivia. (That is a chocolate stain on my shirt. I was eating a chocolate covered strawberry and some fell into my pocket. Whoops!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010


From an email of one of Nicholas's friends:

Olivia's Diary:

5/8/2010: Day One (I started counting at 0 last night - I think Dad would prefer it that way for some reason) - still tired from the move, but I do have more hair than Dad.

5/9/2010: Day Two - it's really bright out here, and everyone talks to me like I'm an idiot. I think they may all be retarded. Also, they're confused - they're not feeding me through that convenient hose in my bell...wait a second, someone stole my hose! WTF? Who's in charge out here?!

Friday, May 14, 2010

More pictures...

Getting a sun tan in the evening with Daddy:

The swelling is down...and I am just 8 lbs away from pre-pregnancy weight! That's a loss of 24 lbs in a week! Whoa!

Olivia loves her daddy!

Olivia is so smart! She holds her pacifier with her hand so it doesn't fall out!

Pictures of me when I was a baby...Thanks, Mom! What do we think? Do we look alike?

Olivia DOES have curly hair!

Like her mom and dad's, it gets straight when you put a hat on it or comb it.

What Stephanie heard of Olivia's delivery...

Mom and I arrived at the hospital around 9:30 p.m. We were so excited (Mom needed to stop to use the restroom, but I told her to wait and we quickly walked to the nurses desk and they directed us to your room.) We knocked on the door and were asked who was it, we responded and heard Christine say in a pained voice, "No, I can't." or maybe it was, "No, don't let them in." (I'm not sure- you sounded in a lot of pain.) We stood outside Christine's delivery room, Mom just around the corner and me by the door. I think it was really hard for Mom to hear her baby in such pain, later she said she almost had to leave because she couldn't bear to hear you hurting so. Your voice had such a pained sound that it was hard to listen to but magical at the same time. I heard the nurses counting to ten and Christine's anguished sigh and pained cry when ten was finally reached. Then with words of encouragement the nurses, Nicholas and the doctor would tell you were doing a good job and to push again when another contraction came. This seemed to continue another 15 minutes or so until the baby was crowning and we heard the doctor call to the nurses station and say, "We're going to have a baby." Then about 2 more nurses entered the room with the bassinet to ready for the eminent delivery. We were so excited. I leaned into the door to listen and could hear Dr. Edwards tell you to wait for a contraction and to push hard. The nurses would count and you sounded in such pain, I didn't hear any words from you except once you said, "It hurts!" and "Oh my God" and then a few minutes later an exasperated whimper and an, "I can't." (Mom and I stood outside with tears in our eyes imagining you with in such pain, working so hard and us being helpless to help you.) The "I can't" didn't stop you or even seem to phase you because in an instant you were pushing again with the nurses counting to 10. (With each count I prayed let Olivia be born with this push.) I heard the doctor tell you that you may have to back off a little so not to tear, but never actually heard him tell you to do this, After about 5-10 minutes of this the nurses would count to 10 and then you said, "Can I keep pushing?" They said, "Yes." And it sounded like you let a little pain and breath escape your lips and you continued to lumber on through painful labor. Finally we heard the doctor say one more push, but I think it took two and then Olivia was born. We didn't hear crying at first but we hear the nurses say, "Congratulations, it's a girl." And we heard you say, "Oh, my God. What a beautiful baby." Then we heard you say, "Come on baby," and Olivia cried, the sweetest sound. We cried and Mom immediately got on the phone to call Dad, Wilson and Heidi with the news of Olivia's birth. We couldn't wait for the details.

We heard you cooing and talking to Olivia telling her how beautiful she was while the doctor continued to work on you. It all still sounded painful as we could hear, "Ohhh... Ahhh.." from you. But now their were joyful sounds also coming from the room and we couldn't wait to see meet the newest member of your family and ours.

About 10-15 minutes after Olivia was born Nicholas and Dr. Edwards came out and gave us the details. Nicholas face beamed, he was so proud of you and Olivia. Dr. Edwards even seem impressed with your natural birth, he said you were a real trooper. (Or something like that.)

When we saw you, Christine, you looked swollen and tired but unbelievably happy. Happier than I have ever seen you. You were so proud of your new baby girl and we are so proud of you.

Congratulations! We love you! Welcome to motherhood!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What I remember of the labor and delivery...

Finally, the long-awaited "he said, she said, they said" piece. I'll give my account first, Nicholas's second, and Stephanie's third--all in different posts.

On Thursday, May 6th, I felt really good and happy. I thought that I had passed my mucus plug that day, but it was not bloody as I expected, so I wasn't sure. Instead it had a transparent jelly like consistency. But, I knew something was different. I worked from home that day, took a short nap, and made dinner. I took the dogs for a 2-mile walk, talked on the phone, and felt good. Later in the evening, I couldn't sleep, so I worked a little more from home, replied back to some emails, took a warm bath, and went to bed about 2 am. The one way that I have read that has been medically shown to bring the onset of labor is nipple stimulation. However, it is not recommended without clear instructions from your doctor. The study showed that women who did 15 minutes of nipple stimulation on each breast for a total of 3 hours a day brought on delivery. I wasn't that desperate, but I decided to do five minutes on each side and see if that helped. Since this isn't a controlled experiment, I'll never know. But, I'm writing that down just to record the facts.

I had been having contractions all week, but nothing that was painful. They had been very regular, though, coming about every fifteen minutes for hours at a time, then getting down to as close as four minutes apart. Since I didn't have bloody show and the contractions that were five or under minutes apart didn't last consistently for more than an hour, I didn't worry.

I woke up around eight on Friday, May 7th still feeling tired and having contractions. I decided to use the bathroom and go back to bed. I used the restroom, stood up, and my water broke. There was no doubt in my mind that was what happened since the gush was all over the floor in front of me. It was clear, so I was reassured since "they" say it may be bad if it is yellow or greenish as that might mean baby has had her first stool.

I woke Nicholas up. He was wide eyed and couldn't believe it. He had just gone to sleep maybe two hours previously. I decided to eat breakfast (Cheerios and a banana), check my email and let work know I wouldn't be working that day, fix my hair, put on my make-up, and get things ready to go. I thought the make-up and hair fixing would last through labor so I could have pictures with Olivia right away. Boy was I wrong!

Our bags and everything were packed, but I needed to write a note about how to feed the dogs, and I wanted to clean up the kitchen a little. I gathered up a few last minute things that were on my list--phone and charger, back massager, etc. My contractions were four to five minutes apart, but they felt the same as they always have--annoying, but not painful. The difference was that now, every time I had one, more fluid leaked. I also called Dr. Chwe's office. They told me to come in and he would check me.

We loaded up the van and set off. We got to the doctor's office about 9:30 and after a pH test, it was determined that I was in labor and my water had broken. Dr. Chwe said, "You seem awfully calm for this to be the biggest day of your life!" I clapped and told him I was so excited. I was just 1.5 centimeters dilated, though. He told us that since my water had broken, I needed to deliver within 24 hours since after that time, there is too great a risk of infection for me and the baby, even though I wasn't carrying Group B Strep. So, he suggested that since my contractions weren't painful, we make them so by starting Pitocin. He said that we could wait a few hours and see if my "labor established" itself, but he sounded like that would just make for a long day. Nicholas and I discussed it and decided to go ahead with the Pitocin, even though I had been hoping for no IV's and a totally natural birth. I wasn't disappointed though, as I hoped that the Pitocin would speed up the labor and ensure that I wouldn't have a cesarean that might be necessary if I went past the 24 hour mark.

I was wheeled down to the hospital one floor below, and we commenced getting checked in. The labor and delivery ward was slammed, and I got the last room. Women with elective inductions were being turned away. We were both excited, but the next hour was just our nurse getting a bunch of paperwork for us to sign and gathering labor paraphernalia. Our nurse's name was Bethany, and she was young and sweet. I asked her how long she had been a nurse...and she said three years, which was reassuring since she looked about 20.

Around 11:30 they got the fluid drip and the Pitocin started. We started at 4 units and slowly made our way up to 32 units, going 4 units up every 20 to 30 minutes. Each time Bethany hit the buttons to increase the dose, I could feel my contractions getting stronger. Dr. Chwe came and checked on me around 12:30. He was impressed by the regularity of my contractions and seemed surprised that they didn't hurt. I told him that they were the same ones I had been having for weeks. He said I looked too happy and instructed Bethany to increase my Pitocin dose.

I told Nicholas to go ahead and run out, get himself some lunch, let Puck out of his crate, and bring my Bomb Pops that we left at home. We did that on purpose because I figured they would have melted by the time we got to the hospital. I was right. While he was gone, Bethany asked me a million admission questions. Another nurse actually had to put in my IV because my vein rolled when Bethany did it. The bruise left by that stick annoyed me throughout delivery since they had to take my blood pressure on that arm, and the bruise flared every time. It is still annoying on day 6.

The nurse who did the IV was named Chris, and she was really positive and fun. She told me that if I was going to go natural, I better get out of bed. I knew this, but I hadn't been told that I could since we were still doing all the admission/IV stuff. So, Nicholas got my yoga ball and I started swaying on that while Bethany found the baby monitor that used telemetry so that I could walk the halls and have more movement. Apparently, they only have two that do this as most people get epidurals and can't leave the bed anyway.

I'm not sure when she found it, but at that time, Nicholas was gone and I decided to go ahead and start walking. It was slow going since I was having loads of pressure. Nicholas came back around the time I finished my first lap. After each walk, I stopped by the room to use the restroom as I was losing lots of fluid and I had lots of bloody show by then. I alternated between walking, rocking in the glider they had, swaying on the yoga ball, and standing and moving my hips. The yoga ball was my least favorite, even though that is what I had envisioned my labor involving. Nicholas hooked up his iPod to the speakers and we listened to Celtic relaxation music. That CD was the best $10 I ever spent! It was the music my yoga instructor played, and it really calmed me...and everyone else, I think.

Around 2 (maybe) I was three centimeters dilated, and I met the doctor who eventually delivered Olivia. His name is Dr. Edwards and he seemed very good. He asked me about pain management and I told him I planned to do it med-free if possible. He was encouraging and said he felt like the labor was progressing smoothly. At that time I was able to read while I rocked in the rocking chair...I brought the latest murder mystery novel I am reading. But, I couldn't read during the contractions. I had to close my eyes and start breathing through them.

Around 3:30 (maybe) I was five centimeters dilated and my contractions were coming every 90 seconds and lasting about 30 seconds. I continued to walk every half hour or so, but it got harder. When a contraction came, I leaned into Nicholas and tried to relax my body. He was great at reminding me to (1) breath, (2) focus on that breath, and (3) relax various parts of my body. If he noticed that I was tensing my hands, he pointed that out. This was increasingly important to me since I was having a tendency to focus on the pain and the pressure. My legs shook when I had contractions, so standing became difficult. At this time, I was hoping to deliver by 7 since that is when Bethany left from her shift, and I didn't want to risk getting a nurse I didn't like.

Around 6:30 (maybe) I was up to a dose of 28 of Pitocin and I was still walking. Every time a contraction came, I thought I would cry, but I didn't. I remember my last walk vividly. Nicholas was making a joke and I was laughing, and then all of a sudden I got very nauseous and I threw up in the hall. It was nothing but water and one Bomb Pop, but it was gross. Nurse Chris suggested to Nicholas to do counter pressure on my back when contractions came. We had learned about this in the Breathing and Relaxation class. It helped.

When I got back to the room after that last walk, I went to the bathroom and had a really hard time getting back out. The contractions were about a minute apart now and were pretty intense. I asked Nicholas to put the yoga ball on the labor bed, and I got on my knees in the bed and laid my head over the ball, letting my arms drop. Nicholas rubbed my back when the contractions came. I was starting to hyperventilate because I was confused about how to breath well. They knew I was hyperventilating because I told them I felt tingly in my arms and legs. They told me to breath more shallowly, and I did, but that made things worse. Nicholas told me to breath "medium" and that seemed to help. I had been taking long deep breaths. Dr. Edwards came in to check on me and I was 7 centimeters dilated. Transition was beginning.

My new nurse, Laurie, came in and Bethany briefed her on my progress. I was distracted by their talking and had to really focus on Nicholas's voice. (Bethany was getting married in a barn? I think that is what I heard.)

Soon, I had to vomit again...and again. Laurie made me lay on my side in the bed and she moved the baby monitor on my belly and poked and poked me. The baby's heart rate had dropped because of my vomiting limiting oxygen to her. They made me put on an oxygen mask. I kept asking if the baby was okay. She was. It gave me resolve to figure out my breathing so that I wouldn't hyperventilate. Laurie asked me if I thought I needed something for nausea. I thought it was over, but then I vomited again. Because I was afraid of hurting Olivia, I said that, yes, I would take something for nausea. She gave me phenergen, which didn't immediately help since I vomited again. I asked for Dr. Edwards to check me again. I was at 8 centimeters.

At some point, I stopped opening my eyes between contractions. They hurt too much and there was very little rest between them. I doubted myself. I said I didn't think I could do it. Laurie said that we could do some pain medication in the IV, but said it wouldn't take all the pain away. I said no to that, I would just keep doing it myself. She told me I was a "formidable woman" to have gotten this far without pain meds and she thought I could finish.

I kept feeling pressure. I asked for Dr. Edwards again. I was at nine centimeters. The contractions kept coming and kept getting worse. The phenergen made me a little tired, so that helped me relax between contractions. I was either on the ball in bed or sitting up in bed during contractions now.

The contractions kept coming. I felt like crying. I don't know if I did. My eyes were closed. Nicholas kept talking me through them. I asked Laurie to check me. I was 9.5 centimeters. By this point I was down to one word responses, "water", "chapstick", "ball", "vomit."

Soon I told her I felt like I needed to push. Dr. Edwards came and said I was 10 centimeters and I could start pushing. He said that I needed to refocus my efforts from relaxing to effective pushing. He said the best way was to hold my knees and bear down, trying to push for a count of 10 at least twice, but maybe 2-3 times per contraction. Hold your breath. Push for a count of ten. Blow it out. Do it again. Do it again. Do it again. Dr. Edwards stayed for the first contraction and pushing. He said, "Now that's effective pushing!" since I apparently brought her down significantly on the first contraction. He left. Laurie massaged my perineum. (I had been doing perineum massage, not religiously, since 36 weeks in hopes of avoiding tearing or the need for an episiotomy. ) I kept pushing. It went on for a LONG time...maybe an hour. At one point, Laurie said that Olivia was stuck on my pubic bone. She leaned my bed back and I pushed from that position. Dr. Edwards came in and I asked if I was going to be able to get her out. I was worried, but he said yes.

That is where I thought I was for the rest of the time...trying to get Olivia past my pubic bone. No one ever told me she was past it, and when they brought in the mirror for me to look, I couldn't do both. I had to push or look and I chose pushing. Sometimes I was able to push through four times in one contraction. Everyone was encouraging, "Push, push, push." At one point, I remembered something from a birth story I read. "Ring of fire, ring of fire." I thought that statement couldn't have been more accurate. When I felt that "ring of fire" I didn't want to stop pushing because it hurt so badly that I just needed it to be over. At some point Stephanie and Mom arrived and I could hear their voices outside. It was too much. I said "not now." Finally I heard them call the baby nurses and the assistants. Everyone was there. Everyone was encouraging me. They kept saying, "One more push and you are going to have your baby." How many times did they say that? Someone said, "Look at what you are doing." I was able to open my eyes. I saw Olivia's head and part of her shoulders. I pushed again. She was out and she was on my chest. I couldn't believe she was here. Her eyes were open and she was looking at me. I think I was crying. Nicholas was touching her and me. The nurses rubbed her. I don't remember Nicholas cutting the cord, but he did. I remember thinking that I wanted her skin-to-skin, but I still had my gown on. She was perfect and beautiful and felt so good in my arms.

They asked if we wanted to know her weight, so they took her and put her on the scales. I cried while I looked at her. She was beautiful. It was all worth it. I was tired, though, and sore. While she was on my chest, Laurie started pressing on my uterus. I didn't expect it to hurt too much. It really hurt. Really hurt. I kept saying, "Ooh. Oh! Ooh. Oh!" Eventually, Dr. Edwards had to reach up and help deliver my placenta. It really hurt, too.

I did tear a little, but not bad. Dr. Edwards put in three stiches, which I am thankful for as my mom told me she had 64 stitches with Wilson. Three is nothing. I think the perineum massage helped. (Again, not a controlled experiment, so I don't really know.)

They told us that she might have broken her clavicle. They all heard something pop when I pushed out her shoulders. They wanted to take her to the nursery. First, though, mom and Steph came in and saw her. They both were crying and I didn't know why. They said, "You're pain is our pain." I understood. My girl was born. I nursed her before they took her to the nursery. Mom and Steph left. After an hour of "recovery," I took a shower. I was shaking all over and very sore. Nicholas held Olivia when they brought her back I was too tired to sit up, but I was so happy. I am still so happy.


1. Olivia didn't break her clavicle. They did several sets of x-rays to determine this. They think the popping could have been it coming out of and back into joint.

2. My make-up and hair didn't make it through delivery. I sweat like it was my job, so my straightened hair was frizzy and my make up was all over. In fact, something I didn't know about labor and a labor with Pitocin in particular is that you swell big time. My face was unrecognizable after. Under my eyelids were puffs the size of tea bags. My face was huge. My feet were bigger. Dr. Edwards explained this the day after that a woman retains water to replace fluid loss. Since I didn't lose that much blood, it would take even longer to come down. Perhaps two weeks. On top of the swelling, I popped blood vessels in my face, neck, and shoulder/chest area from all the pushing. It was quite a sight.

3. As a follow-up to Stephanie's post above, I remember that I said "I can't" when I couldn't make the full 10-second count pushing or when I couldn't push the third or fourth time in one contraction, not that I couldn't push anymore.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Five day update

I planned for my next post to be the "he said, she said, they said" accounting of Olivia's labor and delivery featuring Nicholas, me, and Stephanie. But, it is taking me a while to find the time to write down the account. So, for now, an update.

Olivia was born a good eater. I breastfed her on demand until she was about 48 hours old. Everything seemed to be going well until Sunday night when all of a sudden she was lethargic and I could not wake her to feed. They made me send her to the nursery where they discovered that her bilirubin levels were high. She had jaundice. They started photo-therapy right away, made me supplement with formula, and started me with a pump. I was extremely scared and I cried a lot. Nicholas held it together for us. Even though she was in the nursery, I made sure to be there at every feeding--giving her the bottle myself and giving her any breastmilk I was able to pump.

On Monday there was a question about whether or not she would be able to go home with us. My insurance wouldn't allow me to stay past Monday night, but Olivia's pediatrician thought she might need to stay longer for more phototherapy. Olivia's bilirubin at midnight Sunday night/Monday morning was 12. They did it again at 6 am and it was 11.3. They did it again at 4:30 pm, and it was 8, which they felt was good enough for us to go home. (Note that during this time, too, she went from 8 lbs 9 ounces to 8 lbs even. This weight loss was not alarming as babies lose weight at first, but it wasn't helping the bilirubin levels. Also note that jaundice is common as a baby is born with an immature liver and cannot break down bilirubin well.)

Stephanie and Mom made it in on Friday night, but Mom had come down with something. She never held Olivia, and because I was so nervous, I asked that she go ahead back to Indiana with Stephanie on Monday so that there was no risk of Olivia getting anything. So, Mom and Steph bleached the house (after having cleaned the house, washed the windows inside and out, dusted blinds, weeded my garden...) and left on Monday. Nicholas and I made it home on Monday around 7 pm.

I continued to be nervous through today since the lactation consultant made it clear to me that Olivia needed to be getting 2 ounces of breastmilk plus formula at every feeding. The problem is that bilirubin acts as a doping drug, and it was hard sometimes to get her to take that much. We worked and worked at it. Nicholas was great.

Our efforts paid off. Today, at the weight/bilirubin check, she had gained back 6.4 ounces and her bilirubin, which spikes on the fifth day, was only 9.5, which is well below the 20 that would have caused warning bells. My milk is coming in now, too, so I have instructions to continue pumping until Saturday and then to go exclusively to the breast. I am so thankful, and I feel so much better about everything!

Olivia continues to awe us. She has the sweetest little noises. She is alert for hours sometimes, but doesn't cry much. She downs breastmilk like there is no tomorrow and kind of turns her nose up at the formula. However, today I was able to get 3 ounces of milk (mine and formula) into her at the last three feedings! I'm so proud of her!

The picture above is us in the indirect sunlight, which is also supposed to help the jaundice. We've been doing this for a couple of hours each day.

Thanks to everyone for all the gifts! Lisa send a "baby bunch", Wilson and his family sent delicious chocolate covered strawberries and a birthday cake cookie for Olivia, Donna send a beautiful arrangement, Janice sent an arrangement, clothes, and bath stuff, Dad sent a pink and white arrangement, Mom and Steph brought pink tulips, onsies, and books, Rachel and Lance brought chocolate and a onsie that says "I still live with my parents", and Julie brought pink tulips and a balloon. I am forgetting people, but don't think that I am not grateful. I am. We are.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

She's arrived!

Olivia Ann made her entrance into this great big world on Friday, May 7th at 10:09 pm. And everything they say is true. I couldn't imagine the love I would feel for her. I can't believe how amazing the entire delivery was. And now I can't imagine my world without her.

More on the the labor later. She weighs 8 lbs 9 ounces, is 20.25 inches long, and has a head of curly brown hair. The pictures don't do her justice, and her hat has flattened her hair to her head. She's beautiful, Nicholas and I are more than thrilled, and now I know that every complaint I had was so worth this precious gift. I feel so very grateful to have had a healthy pregnancy, a smooth labor, a good delivery, and a beautiful, healthy baby.

Since I was able to go without pain meds, I look like I have gone a couple of bouts in the boxing ring, so I'll withhold pictures with me for a couple of weeks. I don't want to scare anyone!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

39 week, 4 day doctor's visit

Almost no progress. But, at least I had a better attitude today! Last night I cried about it and today I accepted that I will be soaring right through my due date. Olivia is doing great in utero, with a heartbeat of 144 bpm. She has dropped some, and I am slightly more dilated. Dr. Chwe didn't give a number, but if I was 1.5 cm and now I am slightly more, I am going to say 2. I gained one pound this week, so we are both still growing.

Dr. Chwe said that if I had begged for him to induce on Friday, he would since my cervix is in a favorable condition. But, since induction increases the risk of Cesarean and since Olivia seems to be thriving, we are giving her more time. I agree with that decision. I reminded him that according to my LMP, my due date should have been 5/11/2010. He reminded me that my previous two cycles were 17 days and 23 days, so the 5/7/2010 due date could actually be past 40 weeks, and he sticks to his original 5/7/2010 due date, which according to ultrasound at that early time is very accurate.

Anyway, I have an appointment next Tuesday, 5/11/2010, and at that time we'll discuss being induced if Olivia doesn't come by 5/14/2010. At a week past due, there is some concern that the placenta will break down and the baby will have potential complications. At two weeks past due, the risk to the baby to stay in outweighs any potential benefits. So, we'll see if she comes on her own or if we have to induce on or after 5/14/2010.

Contractions continue. Although I can't be certain about the time that I am asleep, I was having contractions at least every fifteen minutes from Friday night to Monday morning, Monday night, last night, and again this morning. They wake me up at least once an hour at night. Saturday night they got down to 4 minutes apart for about 45 minutes, but then tapered off again. They aren't painful, just annoying and exhausting.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Has she dropped?

Mom said upon looking at my last photo that it looks like Olivia hasn't dropped at all. Not trying to get my hopes up, but taking into account that I have been having Braxton Hicks contractions on a very regular basis since Friday night and I am feeling more pressure, I'm taking pictures to get opinions. What do we think, does she look lower?

This one is my view. My belly usually looks lopsided because I think she has her bottom stuck out.