April 11, 2015

Heating and Air? Check!

We've had a lot going on lately. Having a newborn and renovating a house can be tough. Fortunately, we had some hired hands to do some of the work. (Although Walter still works on things here and there on a daily basis.)

We had a few down months, but now things are picking up again. We now have heating and air:

Downstairs unit (basement)

Upstairs unit (attic)
Walter has been laying out our lighting and electric outlet plan. Also, he has prepped the walls upstairs to get us ready for insulation.

Yet, even though we're busy, we still have time for this:

and this:


And of course this.


Next step, wiring! (Finally!)

April 9, 2015

Our Baby Story

After I was born, my mom wrote down her story of my birth so she could remember it well. I thought that was so cool when I was younger because I was able to know what happened on the day I was born. This post is my way of remembering that special day.

P.S. This a birth story, so if that stuff makes you queasy or uncomfortable, don't continue reading. :)
Now we are three!


Early Labor

At week 37, I had a routine appointment with my doctor. She checked me and I was dilated three centimeters. "You're really progressing," she told me with a smile. "I'm on call tomorrow so I might see you then! If not, I'll see you next week!"

The previous week, I was at one. Now, just a week later, I was at three. I had read a few books that said not to put too much faith in the weekly checks. "That measurement tells you nothing about when you will have your baby". I repeated this over and over in my head. But, I also told myself this let's me know that my body is gearing up and getting ready for this big event. So, I smiled back at her thinking that I probably wouldn't see her tomorrow, and I would most likely be back for another appointment the following week. Yet, a new realization hit me. I would be having this baby. Soon.

Monday, I worked that week with very few contractions. Maybe three a day that I actually felt. The following week, I went back to the doctor. My doctor's assistant checked me. "Hmm... looks like you are still about the same." Ok, so maybe I wouldn't be having this baby soon after all.

At that point, I was a little discouraged. Had my body stalled out? Was I going to have to be induced? Since I had begun dilating so early, I didn't think inducing would be something I would have to worry about. Then, I realized that I hadn't even reached my due date. I wasn't late so there was no need to panic. So, I went back to work trying not to worry. 

That Thursday, my body had some kind of shock to its system. I was shaky. I felt weak. I had to leave work and go home and rest. Walter and I figured it was my body telling me it was time to slow down and take it easy. I rested a lot and took some walks with my husband enjoying the fresh air. Saturday, I felt good enough to go to a household shower for a friend of mine. But Sunday, I started feeling a little odd again. 

I began feeling some "hard" contractions. (I say "hard" with quotation marks because compared to what I experienced later in labor--these were nothing at all.) Walter grabbed his phone and started timing the contractions. Somewhere, I had read that you could measure the strength of your contraction by touching your nose, chin, and forehead. Nose was normal, chin was a medium contraction, and forehead was a hard contraction. So we laid down on our bed timing the contractions and feeling of my belly. These contractions were like a wave that begun with blood rushing to my head and moved down to my stomach. They weren't painful, and as I breathed through them, they felt almost like a rush. Eventually, they settled down and my body went back to normal.

I didn't go back to work on Monday. Walter and I both stayed home. We took walks. We had the gas company come by to hook up a line for us. The heating and air company finished their work on our house. We closed the day by heading to the doctor. 

"Do you think we should load up our stuff for the hospital just in case? It could be like a practice run," I suggested. Walter agreed that was a good idea and we loaded up the car with all of our belongings. We both thought we probably would just end up getting sent home unless I was dilated tremendously, which was fine by us because we both expected me to labor for a while at home anyway.

At the doctor, we sat in the waiting room. I had a contraction or two like I did the day before. Right before I was called back for my vitals, I had a "hard" contraction. I walked to the scale almost out of breath. When I sat down for my blood pressure, I knew my pulse would probably be racing. 

"I'm going to check you one more time," the nurse told me. That's new, they've never done that before, I thought. Now, I am the type of person who thinks of these doctor visits like a final exam or test. I want to get a great score. I want the numbers to be good. So, knowing I had to redo a blood pressure test began to cause me to panic a little. Not the greatest thing to do when you are getting your blood pressure checked. "It's a little high," she told me after taking my pressure again, "168/82. What is it usually?" 

"The highest it's ever been was 127 over something," I replied. I could feel my heart beat faster. Calm down. Calm down, I kept telling my self. But it was as if a surge of hormones were taking over my body, and I couldn't control my emotions. I went back out to the waiting room and told Walter what was going on. 

"It's ok," he replied calmly, "It's probably because you are having some contractions." I tried to trust that he was right, but I was in full panic mode. When they called me back to a room, I cried on him. 

"What if something is wrong?" Just then, the nurse came in again to do another blood pressure test. 

"I'm just going to check you one more time," she told me. I tried to make myself look as if I hadn't been crying and was calm, but I'm sure I failed. She took my pressure again this time telling me the new numbers, "162, so it is going down some."




The doctor came in shortly after and looked to see if I was swelling. I was. She checked me out and saw that I was about 4 and a half. "Here's what I think," she began, "I think you are about ready to have this baby. I think you are in early labor and transitioning. I'm going to send you over to the hospital for monitoring and blood work. Because of your blood pressure, we want to make sure you don't have preeclampsia. Your urine doesn't show any protein, so it probably isn't preeclampsia. But, I'm pretty sure you are either going to have this baby tonight or tomorrow. You've just got that look about you."

Let me take a minute to explain the "you're about to pop" look. From what I understand when you are about to have a baby, you end up going from something like this:
Image result for belle
Pregnancy glow. 
To this:
I'm not a monster!
If my blood pressure was dropping before, it certainly skyrocketed at that moment. My mind was racing. I was going to have this baby. I was going to the hospital. I didn't even feel like I was having contractions. What about laboring at home like I had pictured. What about the enormous pain I was about to experience? 

The office sent some paperwork over for us and said the hospital knew we were coming and to check in at the emergency room. I heard the words C-section mentioned. I felt sick. Walter was pretty shaken himself. Part of it was because we didn't believe I was in labor yet and were afraid they were going to try to start my labor for me. Part of it was because we knew in a short time we would be parents.

We pulled in to the parking lot and Walter looked over at me and asked if I was ready to go in. "We can wait or go right in," he told me. "Do you think you need to eat? We can still go get something. We don't have to go in right now."

"I don't know. I know I need to eat, but I don't think I can. Maybe I can eat one of those protein bars."

"Do you want to walk around on the track?"

Taken in the hospital parking lot.
I was a nervous wreck, but
I was trying to look excited.
"I don't know. I guess." I couldn't make any decisions because I was too nervous of what was about to happen. Walter, trying to ease the tension, got out the camera to take a picture of me arriving at the hospital. I was still a mess. So, he took me by the hand, and we walked to the walking trail around a pond.

I broke down on him. "I'm really scared," I confessed, "Mostly of the pain." He hugged me and we said a prayer, then, walked some more around the trail. Finally, when I felt somewhat ready, we went on in to the hospital.

There was a line in the emergency room, when one line opened up, Walter and I headed over but were cut in front of by a couple who was looking for someone. So we waited. And waited. Both of us were getting more and more nervous as every second ticked by. Finally, we checked in and I was wheeled to my room.

There, I was introduced to my nurse. She was incredibly friendly and that helped Walter and me feel much more at ease. After talking to her about what I wanted for my labor, she took note and let me know that they would do whatever was needed to help me achieve the labor I wanted. I felt a great sense of relief.  In fact, I remember telling her that I could handle this now after talking to her. She said she was excited for us and joked that maybe we could wait until morning shift so she could be with us when we had the baby. She talked to me about my vitals and told me my blood pressure was good, but they'd keep checking it just in case. Then, they got a reading with the fetal monitor. She pointed out that I was having contractions. At that point, I didn't even know it. She told me to feel my belly and pointed out that it was very hard and would let up and soften. Then, Walter and I watched the rise and fall on the computer screen. For a moment, I thought, if this is a contraction, this will be a walk in the park. But, realistically, I knew this was nothing.

Walter packed the rest of our stuff in, and we made our self comfortable. It was probably around 6:30 or 7:00 when we made ourselves comfortable in our room. A new nurse, just as great as the first, came in for her shift and introduced herself. She told us she had talked to the doctor and the doctor was on board with our natural birth plan. She talked to me about options of some pain medicine I could have instead of the epidural.

I was very vocal about wanting to be able to move in order to get more comfortable during my labor, so they said they'd remove the fetal monitor after about fifteen minutes. They also brought me a birth ball. I asked if I could still eat, and the nurse told me I could until midnight. Since the hospital cafeteria was closed, Walter went out to get some food for us. While he was gone, I got in the spa tub to ease some of my back pain. Once I was in, I realized that I might need help getting back out due to my contractions (mainly back pain), my huge body, and my limited mobility. I texted Walter and told him when he got back I'd probably need his help. Unfortunately, I had locked the door, so I had to gingerly climb out of the tub and try not to hurt myself.

My contractions were picking up at this point, and I had to concentrate to breath through them, but they were spaced out enough where I could still talk, eat, and move. Walter and I ate our meal, but my appetite was decreasing.

Now, my contractions were getting stronger, but they weren't terrible or painful. I would have Walter walk me into the bathroom and help me get on the birth ball. Eventually, we decided to relax in the hospital bed and watch the tv. Then, we tried to get some sleep. The nurses came in intermittently checking my vitals and asked me to rate my pain on a scale from one to ten. "Well, I don't really have a good reference to go on," I replied. "I guess, a four?"

The nurses looked at me amused and one answered, "Ok, good. Some people would already be saying a ten."

After they left, Walter turned out the lights and we got into the hospital bed. I was having stronger contractions and needed to know he was near me. We prayed together, and then, tried to get some sleep.

Active Labor

We thought it would be a long night because I was having more "intense" (as I described it to the  nurse, I wasn't going to call it pain yet) contractions. Suddenly, as we lay in the bed, I felt something pop in my pelvis. I jumped up in a panic. (I guess I should mention prior to this Walter had read a message board comment about a lady who said her sons head had been jammed into her rib cage during her pregnancy, so I was just imagining my baby's head stuck somehow in my pelvis.)

"Do you want me to call the nurse?" Walter asked.

"I don't know," I worried.

"That's what they're here for to help," he reminded me.

He called for the nurse. I turned just a bit and it felt a some water, "I think my water broke," I told him, but I wasn't sure because it wasn't a lot of fluid.

The nurse and her assistant came in right away. "She thinks her water broke," Walter told them.

"Ok, well let's check." They had some kind of swab that was supposed to turn blue if it was really the fluid. The problem was they had a hard time finding the fluid. I just want to note that the assistant was doing a LOT of checks. I guess this was her first birth. All I know is it felt like she was the Mr. Magoo of nurses. She couldn't find anything-- and I mean anything--my fluid, the baby's heart rate, other vital measurements that let you know how you are progressing...) She put the fetal monitor on and couldn't find the heartbeat for a moment, which made me panic because, remember, I was thinking the baby's head might have been the pop. When she found the heartbeat, I was relieved.

While I lay there, she swabbed for some fluid, but there wasn't much to get. During this, I told them I had to go to the bathroom. When I got back out, she was still looking for something to swab.

"I think you could probably find some on the bathroom floor," I finally told her. Fortunately, she did and it was positive. My water had broken. This was around midnight.

"Now, things will start moving along," she told me.

And they did. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the birth ball, pillows stacked at the foot of the bed and my upper body leaning on them. I was trying to rotate my hips between contractions to ease the--I'll go ahead and say it now-- pain. Walter was pushing on my lower back to help relieve the pressure. He would also help me remember how to breathe and to relax.

I couldn't really look around the room or answer questions, but I could hear everything. I heard the nurses come in and say they needed to get a monitor on the baby's heartbeat again. so when the nurses came in after a little while, they asked me if I wanted to sit on the peanut ball. I had no idea what that was, but it sure didn't sound like anything I would ever want to do.

"She seems like she's pretty comfortable here," Walter told them.

They asked me, and I replied with my signature, I don't know phrase I had been responding with since told I was in labor.

"How about we do it after the next time she gets up to use the bathroom?" Walter asked. I have no idea how much time had passed, but I could no longer walk to the bathroom on my own. Walter had to help me and let me rest on him. Then, when I got there, I felt as if I had no time before the next contraction started. After what seemed like eternity, I was finally able to make my way back to the bed.

The peanut ball. Thank you for speeding up my labor.
No thank you for the pain you caused me.
The nurses were ready and armed with a gigantic orange ball that they wanted me to keep between my legs. I was in too much pain to protest. Their reasoning for this was it would help with dilation. They also put on the heart rate monitor so they could get a read on the contractions.

"About five minutes apart," the trainee nurse said. They felt a lot closer than that. I laid on one side with that ball. Walter would watch the monitor where he could see the contractions, but after a while, I think it must've slipped because he couldn't watch them on the monitor anymore.

He didn't have to guess when they were coming though because I would let out a low groan to help relax through it. I had my eyes shut tight. All I could do was feel and hear. I would hear him telling me to relax certain parts of my body. "Relax your jaw. Relax your shoulders." He didn't say them like orders, they were calm statements that I was able to focus on and I would try my best to do it. (What we had read was that relaxing lets the body do what it needs to do, and tensing fights that. That's why there was such a push for me to relax.)

It seems like the nurses wanted to check me again, but they were nice enough to wait until the contractions passed. I think I remember them saying the number 6. I remember wishing that I had heard a higher number because I was in a lot of pain. I knew I wasn't in the thick of it yet, according to what I had read, the worst was yet to come. Soon, my body was trembling uncontrollably, so it became really hard to relax. I was hardly aware of anyone else in the room. I just kept focusing on my breathing and Walter's instructions. I think they flipped me over which was no fun. Walter kept his hand on my back so I knew he was there. I think I heard him ask the nurses where he could get something to drink. I also heard them tell him, my body shakes were normal and caused by hormones.

He said he was gone for a few minutes. I didn't realize it at that point. I don't even remember being flipped over a third time. Walter tried to help me relax my legs, but that ball made me feel as if I was having to hold it. I just wanted it gone so I could curl up and relieve this intense pressure I was feeling. It felt like some kind of machine was pushing down with full force, then, another was pushing my hips apart with full force. At this point, I started thinking that if I had to endure this for hours longer I might not make it. I didn't want to say that out loud though. I didn't want to give up. Also, I remembered that when you get to that mental breaking point, it is usually when the worst of the labor is over. What if I was wrong, and I was one of those "my pain is a ten" claimers when it was really a six?

I don't know how long I was in this state of trembling and groaning, but I do remember suddenly feeling my stomach do two pushes down. I was able to open my eyes. I waited for the enormous contractions to continue, but I felt some type of relief. I remembered reading that before the pushing stage you sometimes get a relief period. I looked at Walter, "I think I need to push!" I told him. He didn't hesitate to call the nurses, but he admits now that he didn't think there was anyway I was at that stage yet.

Second Stage

"Uh, she told me she thinks she needs to push," he told the nurses over the call button.

In no time, about a dozen nurses came in. The lights flipped on. People were moving in all directions. Mrs. Magoo did a final check. "Yeah, the head is really low and I don't feel anything."

I was so relieved to hear this because I was thinking if I were just at a seven or eight, I wouldn't make it.

"We'll call the doctor, don't push yet!" The nurses instructed. One sat on the end of the bed seeing how far the baby was moving with each contraction. I heard one nurse say that they might be delivering this baby themselves. One was instructing me to act like I was blowing out candles in order to keep from pushing. I grabbed Walter's hands and squeezed. Locked my eyes on his and breathed. They kept telling me not to push, and I finally replied, "I'm not trying!"

I just wanted this baby out! The contractions were picking up again, and I didn't want to fight them anymore. Finally, the doctor came in and my hotel-esque room turned into a full blown hospital room.

I heard three voices this time. The doctor, the countdown nurse, and Walter. Others were cheering me on, but they were faded in the background. I was supposed to hold my breath for ten seconds and push, then, do this again two more times. It was very difficult. I felt like the only thing I was pushing out were my eyeballs from their sockets. Also, at first, I kept letting out my breath early. Once I even yelled and the doctor told me there was no yelling at this stage.

I don't know how long I pushed, but I don't think it was a terribly long time (even though it felt like it). They would follow my lead as I felt each contraction building I would push with it.

"Look at all that hair!" I heard some of the nurses exclaim as they saw my baby's head. Now, that I was getting the hang of this and knew he could be seen, I began to push harder.

"Five pushes this time!" the doctor ordered.

I pushed until I saw black and stars. On my final push, I let out some kind of primitive war cry. I felt something hit my chest. I looked down and saw my baby boy for the first time. I looked over at Walter, who had tears in his eyes. I had such an adrenaline rush that I couldn't even see straight. (This rush lasted for about two days, I think). He was born at 4:11 a.m.
Exhausted, yet elated.

Third Stage

He was measured and weighed-- 7lbs 14 oz. and 21 in. long. Then, he was given to me, and I fed him for the first time. After an hour, Walter got to hold him. Somewhere in all this, I was put on pitocin to help heal, my placenta was released, and I was stitched up. I still had tremors, but no more pain--only joy.



Mom and Dad came in to visit around 6 a.m., and then, a nurse told me when I was ready she would walk us to our room. I expected to get wheeled again, but I guess, they thought I'd be fine. So, all of us walked to our new room where we would spend the next two days learning how to take care of each other, learning our new roles as parents, and learning a new definition of love.




There are some days when I still can't believe he is here or he's ours. 
God has truly blessed us.