Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Welcome Amelia: the extended version

Kyle's summary of Amelia's birth in that last post may suffice for many of you, but for the minority of you who care about things like placentas and pitocin, here's the extended version. Very extended. Feel free to skim.

So, my back was killing me, right? I actually really looked and functioned like a cripple. Try as I might, I literally was unable to straighten my spine so waddling about was very strenuous and painful. I planned to hit up the chiropractor first thing Monday morning (it really was too bad all this hit at the start of a long holiday weekend), but then there was still the weekend to get through. I could go into labor at any time and even if not, I was having a hard time emotionally being such a useless human being. I know that's silly because people were around and happy to help, but I'm a mom, so I feel bad about things like that.

Kyle convinced me to try the emergency room Saturday night for an osteopathic doctor on the off chance that he could pop a bone back in place and we'd be out of there in a wink. Well, they took one good look into my eyes and sent me straight up to labor and delivery. I knew I wasn't in labor, but it was hospital procedure to check anyway. Two and a half hours later (thankfully Storage Wars, one of Kyle's faves, was on in the triage room), the nurse confirmed that I was not in labor, offered pain meds, and sent me on my way. Why, thank you.

I tried to compensate for that royal waste of an evening by crafting with Mom Larsen, Mish, and Kjerst late into the night. I finally finished some hair bows, Kjerstin applied newspaper print to her finger nails, and Mish whipped up bacon-chocolate-chip cookies and a knit ruffle scarf. After midnight as we were finally wrapping up, I looked at my pathetically crooked posture in the mirror and tried one more time to shift my torso into an upright position... and it worked! Walking worked, too! I paced around the living room couch with glee, rolled on the floor, twisted, squatted, and even bent down to the floor. A Christmas miracle! I hadn't the slightest clue what had suddenly healed my back, nor did I care!

To celebrate, I took a power nap and promptly went into labor. The contractions were strong enough to wake me at 4:00 am. I timed them for a little while, just to be sure, but I'd had enough contractions over the past weeks to know these were different. These were real. Kyle woke up around 4:45 as I was topping off my hospital bag with toiletries and about to hop in the shower. Go, go, go! Kyle's not one to condone my dilly-dally attitude and he pushed me out that door (after giving me a blessing with his dad, and miraculously I made it through the prayer without a contraction) around 5:15. By this time, I was having to really move, breathe and focus to get through a contraction.

We arrived at the hospital around 5:45 and only the ER was open. They still made me sign paper work, answer silly questions about my family history and what not, asked me about four times if my water had broken yet, forced me into a chair to take my temp and blood pressure, and other extremely annoying and unnecessary details that a woman deep into labor should not be subjected to.

This was the ER, right? I thought they knew an emergency when they saw one, but absolutely no one seemed to feel any urgency about getting me up to labor and delivery. A nurse had supposedly been called to come fetch and escort me back to that wing, but perhaps she forgot or decided to take a coffee break first? Meanwhile, I labored behind the registration desk in the ER, pacing and huffing and puffing through hard contractions and resenting all of the employees around me, chewing their gum and doing absolutely nothing to help me realize my dream of laboring in the jacuzzi.

FINALLY the nurse arrived, and soon I saw how it had taken so long for her to arrive. She "led" us down the hall to the elevator at about the pace of a dead raccoon. This was not a moonlit stroll along the Seine-- this was a matter of life or death! Well, life at least. When we got out of the elevator I knew where to go and had no inclination to wait for the sluggish nurse to catch up with me. Only I needed her code to get through the locked door at the end of the hall.

And then there was another waiting room, in which they made Kyle wait while I went to triage. The nurse tried to get me to pee in a cup first, but just getting into my gown unassisted was a fierce struggle. There was no way at this point that I could relax enough to produce a pee sample, and for what? They could take my baby's urine sample in about five minutes if they'd just admit me to a delivery room.

Well, next I got strapped with fetal monitors and blood pressure cuffs and again interrogated about my pregnancy and family history. Good grief! What does a woman need to do around here to get into a delivery room? Should I start screaming and flailing or do you actually need to see a head before you'll take me seriously? Eventually the nurse checked my cervix and, surprise surprise, I was already completely dilated and ready to push. Yeah.

So, they let Kyle come in and together we waited AGAIN for some doctor's permission to do something. I don't know. At this point I'd been waiting 45 minutes and all hopes of laboring in the tub were lost. The midwife appeared and I asked her not to leave me because I really didn't want to deliver on that triage table, but nobody else seemed to care if I got to a room or not so it just might happen.

Finally someone decided I deserved a delivery room and a nurse wheeled me to it. As I looked around the room, I realized that I had never developed my plan B for a spontaneous water birth. Water births are technically illegal in most hospitals, but that's only because they want to be able to swiftly wheel you away on the bed if necessary. I hadn't planned on birthing on the bed anyhow, though, and pushing could be a fast process, so it was tub or bust in my mind. Except that that was no longer an option and nothing else in the room looked quite comfortable enough to birth on. Hmmmm, rocking chair? Cot? Toilet?

The midwife asked if I felt that ominous "urge to push." I've never really known what that's supposed to mean. With Ellie and Erik, the doc told me I was fully dilated and told me when to push. With Charlie, all I knew was that pushing wouldn't get him there slower, so I pushed (gently) through most of the hard labor. If that "urge" was simply the feeling that there was a head lodged in my crotch and I wanted it out, yes I felt the urge. However, I've never felt like I couldn't not push. It's only the knowledge that pushing will get that baby out faster that prompts me to push.

Well, the midwife stepped out for a minute (it better have been for something good!) and the nurse had the nerve to ask me to sign a stack of paperwork (have none of these people felt a contraction before?!?! Could I stab her in the uterus and ask her to neatly print her name twelve times on some forms?) and tried to put an iv in one arm and then the other, but I ran away from her each time to work through another contraction.

The midwife stepped back in and defended me, politely asking the nurse to just deal with that later. We were having a baby now. So, I settled for the bed. I sat up and writhed through just another contraction or two, pushing but not with all my might. Then we decided to break my water and just get this over with. I always dread that part because without the cushioning of that fluid, the contractions are considerably more intense. Still, all I really needed was a boost in effectiveness to push this baby out, and breaking my water did it.

The very next contraction I pushed like I meant it, felt the burn, ignored the nurse's advice to slow down/stop pushing, and a baby was placed on my tummy. I did it! I conquered! It was over. Well, almost.

After Charlie's birth (placenta acreta, hemorrhaging half my blood supply, almost losing my uterus, etc.), we were all pretty nervous about the placenta this time, and it seemed like it took forever to decide to come out. I was enjoying my baby and basking in love and relief and pride that I had survived it once again, but I was also very distracted by my placenta's tardiness. Well, a shot of pitocin and some long minutes later, all was well and beautiful and over, and entirely free of stitches--woo hoo!

Amelia was such a beauty-- I could tell immediately. She didn't even cry at first. She just opened her pretty little eyes at me and we fell in love. She is our first baby with hair! Like, more hair than Charlie has even now. She's also our first thumb sucker, and our first possibility of a child that looks like BOTH of us. Her hair is decidedly brown, her eyes are decidedly undecided (that bluish-brown that could go either way), and she's just a sweet and content little angel that none of us can get enough of! Well, not Charlie. He hasn't even pretended to care one whit about her, but he's also been a little under the weather... we hope that's all that accounts for his monstrous behavior as of late.

The rest of us are completely enraptured. I knew brand new babies are precious and cute, but still I take one look or snuggle and can't believe just how much I love her already.

Some of you know that I'd had quite a few strong intuitive feelings about Amelia, beginning in my first trimester. I felt strongly that she would be a daughter, have dark hair and eyes, and have some serious health problems and developmental delays. I had these feelings confirmed multiple times, though I always checked out fine at ultrasounds and on blood tests.

Still, I didn't need a doctor to diagnose for me when I'd already had confirmation from a divine source. It was a trial of my faith and patience to know but not "know" throughout my pregnancy, but I was able to do so without much doubt or concern.

And then she was born without any of the problems or even the color hair I'd known she'd have. So, I'm still working through these surprises and the self-doubt that accompanies them. She is certainly not the baby my heart has been preparing for all these months. I'm sure I sound crazy for being disappointed that my baby is healthy and normal. I feel crazy.

However, though my faith in my own ability to receive and interpret revelation is somewhat shaken from this experience, my faith in general has not wavered. I've just got some more soul searching to do.

And plenty to keep me busy in the meantime. This newborn phase is a doozy! There's no way in the realm of sanity that I'd have survived the past few days without my team of helpers, and with Charlie's screaming fits and sleepless nights, we have needed every drop of help we can get. Kyle's parents, Kjerstin, Mish while in-town, and Kyle have been wonderful.

My backbone is still awry, which is frustrating because nothing, including chiropractic work, has seemed to make a difference and I refuse to live the rest of my life out like this. It corrected itself enough for me to walk, which was very useful through labor and delivery, but it still feels very much wrong. If not for my back pain, I would be feeling quite fine, actually, and I hope soon we'll figure it out so I can return to a state of somewhat usefulness around the house and with the kids. Still, it was a tremendous blessing to have it corrected just in time for the most arduous physical feat of my life. (One of the four, I guess.)

So, everything worked out beautifully. In terms of what my body did, this was my best and easiest birth, simply because it was so fast (2.5 hours start to finish) that I didn't have as much time to freak out about how much pain I was in. The hospital setting and protocol were very frustrating, though. If I could have had this baby outside of a hospital, it would have been the perfect birth. Still, I don't regret my choice because we had to play it safe. We feel oh so blessed that everything went well and we have a beautiful, delectable little baby to show for it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Done waiting for Amelia!

Here are the highly anticipated baby pictures of the day!

Amelia Larsen
Born: Nov. 27, 2011
Time: 6:47am
Weight: 7lbs 1ounce
Length: 18.5 inches
Minutes in the delivery room: 11
Pushes by mom: 1
Description: Cute

Tiff and baby are both well and happy.

The Larsens

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Still waiting for Amelia

Well I'm still here, spending Thanksgiving at home rather than the hospital. That's a good thing, I know.

At the same time, I'm getting the inkling that the only way I'm going to get a smidget of relief from the intense back pain that seized me on Monday is to expel this fetus.

First I suspected a pinched nerve, and then posterior orientation (baby's skull against my spine instead of her nice, squishy face). But with the severity of my soreness and a steady decrease in mobility (today walking/shuffling around is a serious struggle and standing up straight as-of-yet impossible), I am more and more at a loss as to the cause.

I would very much like to go into labor spontaneously. I no longer feel a need to accomplish a thing before Amelia's grand entrance, which is good because there's only so much that can be achieved from a solid existence on the couch.

The idea of back labor terrifies me, though. My lumbars are already so messed up right now that contractions on top of this pain might drive me out of the water and straight into the anesthesiologist's arms.

I recognize that worse things could happen to a person than an epidural, or even a c-section. Emotionally, I am not-at-all prepared for those alternatives, but I believe I must try to be.

I guess all I can really say is that this Thanksgiving I am grateful to have Kyle's parents, Mish, Kjerstin, and Kyle around to help. I am completely useless as a matriarch right now and they have all stepped up in ways I deeply appreciate. And the fun has only begun! This is shaping up to be quite a memorable holiday season.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

waiting for amelia

Well, I'm still large and in-charge and infant-less. With two and a half weeks until my official due date, I understand that this is normal. Still, given my birthing track record (Ellie-5 wks early, Erik-3 wks early, Charlie- 2 wks or 4 days early, depending on which due date you trust), I don't feel my anxiousness is entirely premature.

Unlike my last go at self-inducing labor, in which I tried absolutely every reliable and unreliable trick in the book, this time I am not-so-very desperate. This time I am more torn between wanting this pregnancy to end immediately and needing more time to check boxes off of my nesting list. Daily tasks drain my energy reserve enough that I am hacking away at that nesting list at a rather sluggish pace.

My former self, who lived off of veggie smoothies and never needed to sit down and rest once during the day (remember that? I was really like that!) could have swept away the entire list in a weekend. Oh well. That former self no longer exists. And while I look forward to reclaiming much of my body's proper functioning that's been lost over the past nine months, I also recognize that the newborn phase can be the most exhausting of all.

A friend recently asked me about how long it takes after having a baby for things to return to their former state of normalcy. I could only honestly answer that they never do. Yes, eventually you create a new state of normalcy, but that former dynamic with its ease and simplicity (in retrospect, of course) is permanently lost.

I hope I am ready for this.

Actually, to say that I am "ready" to mother four little ones is a presumption laden with denial. I have no expectation of being capable of caring for four on my own for quite some time. How do I anticipate our survival then, you ask?

Enter support network. Kyle's parents come in on Tuesday, as well as Mish for the weekend, and the Larsens will stay right up until my mom arrives. Then almost the entire Goodwin clan trickles in for Christmas and New Years. Kyle has most of January off of school and Mish will be living with us until the spring. Especially with that snuggly newborn around, Kjerstin will also often be around.

I feel very fortunate that we will be well taken care of. Our schedules and living arrangements will be rather skewed for a while, but that's a small price to pay for extra hands and attention spans to dedicate to my older three.

Yes, I suppose everything is going to be alright. I'll still welcome you without restraint any old moment you come, Amelia. In the mean time, though, I've got a closet to organize and some hair bows to whip up for your pretty little head. I look forward to kissing it very soon.