Saturday, November 30, 2013

hello, sweetpea!

at long last, our Sweetpea has arrived! we are overjoyed to announce the birth of our daughter, Margaret Kathleen. our sweet Greta weighed 7 lbs, 5 ounces and was 20 inches long. she is happy, healthy, and has us both wrapped around her perfect little fingers :)

she did keep us waiting, though, arriving ten days past her due date and after two days of early labor that felt like twenty! i had been having mild contractions starting the week before her due date, some of which would come 5-7 minutes apart for over an hour and had me thinking that we'd be seeing some real action soon. November 17 came and went without any fanfare. at my 41 week visit with the midwives, they did a nonstress test (which she passed with flying colors!) and we started to talk induction. at this point, Mom had already been in town for a few weeks and was scheduled to fly back to Seattle on November 30. i knew how devastated we both would be if she missed Sweetpea's birth, so i asked the midwife what our options were. we went over some natural induction methods, but decided to go ahead and schedule a hospital induction with Pitocin for Wednesday, November 27 (the day before Thanksgiving!) just in case things didn't kick into gear on their own by then. 

and boy, they seemed like they were going to! on Monday, November 25, i was having steady contractions 3-4 minutes apart that lasted for about a minute each. they didn't seem to be getting progressively more intense, but given the timing and duration, the midwife asked me to come in to be checked that evening. she then sent us out to walk for an hour, so we walked down Penn Avenue past the closed shops and bars, stopping every few minutes so i could lean against Nick. i soon realized that i could actually walk through most of the contractions though, and suspected this wasn't quite the real deal yet. my suspicions were confirmed back at the midwife center when she checked me again and nothing had changed. back home we went! 

that night was probably the worst of my life. i couldn't sleep at all. every four to five minutes i was up with another horrendous gnawing in my belly, rocking back and forth on all fours. i had my hypnobabies CDs playing, but i was too exhausted to effectively concentrate and to top it all off, i started getting sick. it was hard to drink as much water as i should have been when i felt so nauseous, and i couldn't hold down any solid food. Tuesday morning came cold and clear, and i was able to lie in a hot bath for half an hour and relax a little more through the contractions. we then headed back to the midwife center. as we walked into the Ocean Room (my favourite room!) i kept imagining how amazing it was going to be to meet our baby! 

lo and behold, the verdict was that i was significantly dehydrated, which made the contractions more painful and less effective ... with the result that there was no progress. they hung a bag of IV fluids, gave me some Zofran, and i was able to eat an English muffin with some peanutbutter. at that point i was actually glad that i had some time to recover before the truly active phase of labor, but i was starting to wonder when the saga would ever end! when the IV had finished infusing, i did feel much better and the contractions quieted down. we went home again to rest and wait to see exactly what Sweetpea had in mind for her grand debut.

Wednesday morning dawned, and we were off to the hospital to start the pitocin after all! even though i felt like i was coping with the contractions better than i had been on Monday, i was still worried about making it through augmented labor, but i was thrilled that one of my favourite midwives was on call that day, plus i knew that our doula would make a world of difference in helping me use all my hypnobabies techniques.

Nick's parents met us at the hospital and settled in to the waiting room, while Nick, Mom and i got set up in the delivery room. our labor nurse was fantastic. she asked how long i had been in active labor, and we all looked at her and laughed -- i didn't know whether to say "two days!" or tell her that it hadn't started yet. the pitocin started running around 9 a.m., along with an extra bolus of fluids as i was still a little dehydrated. 

and from that point forward, labor was amazing. i'm still in disbelief about just how phenomenal that experience was. the contractions were intense, especially towards the end, but they never once felt painful (a far cry from what i had been experiencing the past few days!). the nurse hooked the fetal monitor up to telemetry so i could move around the room, sit on the ball, lean over the bed or whatever felt right at the time. i felt both incredibly connected to and simultaneously freed from my body, in a way that i imagine marathon runners must experience. Nick was my rock, giving such blissful counter-pressure on my lower back, and sometimes literally holding me up off the ground as i moved the way i needed to in the moment. and our doula was incredibly encouraging, giving me peace cues and whispering "good job!" with every wave. in between contractions we were talking, laughing, or just resting. the mood in the room was so cheerful and anticipatory!

around noon, i started to feel like i needed to push. i was petrified that the midwife was going to say i was only dilated to 6 cm, because, well, wouldn't that just be my luck. but hallelujah, i was at 9 cm, and less than an hour later, things were ready to go! i pushed for forty-five minutes on my hands and knees, and that was definitely a workout, especially considering that i hadn't been exercising much during the last few months. i will never forget the incredible feeling of my baby finally (finally!) being born! the midwife quickly laid the baby under my stomach so no one else could see, and while i was still gasping with the shock and joy of delivery, Nick exclaimed, "It's a girl!" i have never heard his voice more full of happiness and pride.

i scooped her onto my chest and the nurses covered us with several warm blankets as we snuggled together with our daughter. the instant we saw her face, i thought, "of course! of course, how could i not have known what you look like?" 

i will never forget how amazingly good she smelled and how perfectly she fit, nestled on me. we were able to cuddle skin-to-skin for about an hour, and then my curiosity about her measurements got the best of me and i handed her off to the nurse to be weighed and footprinted. 

seven pounds, five ounces, twenty inches long, with Apgar scores of 8 and 9. after the nurse had stamped her official footprints in her chart, she stamped Greta's feet on the inside of Nick's forearm ... the sweetest tattoo. 

our beautiful Greta. we love you more than words can tell! your birthday was the happiest day of our lives and we treasure every day we have with you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

40 weeks!

bump watch: sweetpea is officially head down, thank goodness! annnd apparently not quite ready to debut in the outside world yet. i'm trying to relax and just enjoy these last days of pregnancy, but we're getting pretty impatient to meet this little one! 
sweet pea: is more active than ever the last few days, with lots of kicks and squirms. at my 39 week appointment, baby landed a sucker punch right against the doppler wand that made the midwife jump (and made me laugh!). 

Fetal Development Week 41

best moment: finding out for sure that sweetpea is vertex (aka head down), as that's a prerequisite for delivering at the midwife center as opposed to a hospital birth. it's been quite the mental challenge trying to make informed decisions about our birth preferences, while still holding everything loosely knowing that the birthing process is unpredictable, and in the end, our goal is to have a baby, however that happens! i just read an interesting article about the danger of focusing on "successful" births, with the implication that there is such a thing as a "failed" birth for women who don't try hard enough or aren't well prepared. i certainly don't discount that birth can be traumatic, disappointing and frightening, but we don't need to pile guilt onto that, just as an easy and comfortable childbirth (the Hypnobabies goal!) is a blessing and not something that we can completely control. the semantics are tricky, since the more informed and prepared you are, the better the birth experience should be, but the fact remains that it is a powerful phenomenon and at a certain point, we have to relinquish control and let go.

symptoms: we had a little contraction action on Saturday night that got everybody's hopes up, and then petered out after several hours. every little bit helps, though!  

cravings: orange juice for sure. can't get enough of the Simply Orange juice with mango! 

what i miss: getting dressed without feeling like an eighty-five-year-old. (this encompasses both the compression stockings, which are now an essential part of my daily wardrobe, and the gyrations and grunting required to put them on.)
looking forward to: baby time! if Sweetpea is still cooking next Monday, we'll do a non-stress test to measure baby's heart rate in relation to movement and make sure that the placenta is still functioning adequately. til then, we take one day at a time!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

39 weeks!

bump watch: dropping on down! and hopefully head first. at my appointment last week, the midwife couldn't definitively feel the baby's head, and so i'll be getting an ultrasound this week to rule out breech position. i thought i had gotten pretty good at identifying baby's back and butt, but there has been so much wriggling around the last few days that i just end up more confused. plus, i think Sweetpea's getting sick of all the poking -- every time i feel what i think might be a head (or a knee! or a foot!), baby moves again! 
sweet pea: just keeps on cooking! brain development is still going strong, which will help baby with easier breastfeeding and motor skills. i'm so excited to actually meet this little one! 

Fetal Development Week 40

best moment: Mom's here! she arrived on Saturday night, and it's such a relief to have her here. and the nursery is finally done! we're ready for you, Sweetpea -- come join the party!

symptoms: still with the puffiness by the end of the day, and more lower abdominal pressure. no consistent contractions (or pressure waves, as per Hypnobabies) yet! 

cravings: not much this week. we did have an end-of-season CSA fling on Sunday that featured an assortment of acorn, butternut, delicata and spaghetti squashes stuffed with sweet Italian sausage and mirepoix  -- which, Amy Boots cheerfully informed us, is the actual term for sauteed onions, garlic and celery. so delicious! 

what i miss: fitting into my normal clothes. even some of my maternity shirts are not quite doing the trick at this point. thank goodness for camis!
looking forward to: well, there's not exactly an original way to put this. meeting Sweetpea!!! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

38 weeks!

bump watch: i don't think sweetpea has fully dropped yet, but the bump definitely looks a little lower this week. things are moving the right direction! 

sweet pea: is the size of ... A BABY!!! thanks to the hilarious Amy at pregnant chicken for pointing out that at this stage of development, the produce comparisons are pretty useless. the midwives estimate that our particular baby weighs about 7 pounds now, and are predicting an 8 pound birth weight if baby comes near the due date (only 14 days to go!). i'll be curious to see if they're right, since birth weight predictions made by ultrasound are notoriously inaccurate, but they are basing their estimate off of direct palpation. 

Fetal Development Week 39

best moment: this is long overdue, but at the end of september, Sabrina and Becca threw the most adorable Sweet Pea-themed shower! every detail was planned out, from the cupcakes decorated with little sweet peas, the decorations, green deviled eggs, and packets of sweet pea seeds for favors. and they included one of my favourite baby shower activities -- having guests write funny or encouraging messages in Sharpie on disposable diapers! best of all, i was able to spend time with family and friends, some of whom i hadn't seen since we moved back to Pittsburgh two years ago. 

love this family, craziness and all! 

symptoms: a little more aching in my lower abdomen, especially when i first stand up after sitting a while. intermittent numbness in my left hand depending on how i sleep. and as much as i can't wait to meet our Sweetpea, i'm selfishly treasuring these last days of just me-and-Nick. 

cravings: heath bar ice cream. although i can't really relate that to pregnancy, since it's been a favourite since about age 7. 

what i miss: my ankles! although i have been quite impressed with the Futuro compression dress socks i bought last week. they're like an all-day massage for the lower leg, and they look just like normal women's trouser socks. by the end of the day, though, some puff is bound to set in. 
looking forward to: mom's arrival next week. so glad she will be here to help us prepare for and welcome Sweetpea!