Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gillian Bryce: 6 weeks

Pregnancy books tell you that the first 6 weeks with a baby are the hardest. I'm not sure, because I haven't had more than 6 weeks, but I think they've been awesome. I think the idea behind them being the hardest is partly to do with the learning curve and sleep deprivation, and partly to do with the fact that the baby is in survival mode and not necessarily very interactive. 

This last week has been marked by Gillian's growing interaction. She is awake for longer periods of time and likes to "talk" to her toys and to us, which is SO fun! She is also smiling beyond the dreaming and farty smiles, but really genuine smile responses to momma and daddy's best goofy efforts to invoke a smile. 


She is beginning to grow too big for her newborn clothes, which is amazing to me. She's getting so big! She is now wearing 0-3 months clothes, which are honestly still very little. We don't see the doctor again for another couple of weeks, so we can only guess that she's just shy of 10 lbs, but we can't know for certain. Gillie is starting to get little rolls on her legs and arms and her cheeks are plump. Definitely looking more like a baby and less like a newborn. 

I'm amazed at how NOT productive I still am. It's probably been the hardest thing to handle with motherhood. I have been juggling the same "to do" list for a few weeks and have finally resigned to being satisfied if I simply get one thing crossed off each day. I am sorry to all of you wonderful mothers before me - i sincerely did wonder what it is that you did all day when you were home with your little one. Now I know. And it is absolutely the MOST IMPORTANT thing on my "to do" list and the most satisfying by far. I love being with Gillian and watching her learn and grow. She is so fun and amazing and I don't want to miss a minute.

I started running last week with some soreness, so I decided to try it again this week. Running Monday and Tuesday was nice. I really can feel the extra 25lbs that I now carry that weren't there only 9 months ago. It makes running a lot slower and more difficult, that's for sure. I am realizing, though, that my body has a different primary purpose right now than to carry me to the top of mountains, and it is doing a really awesome job at keeping my baby healthy and growing. So I try not to be too hard on myself when I get disappointed that the "baby weight" is still hanging around. 

Now on to a few pictures:
I love her in this color. 

Still a little snuggle-bug

Mutton-Chops with Nakey-Baby

When I return to work in 3 weeks, Gillian will have to receive 2-4 of her meals each day by bottle. This week Landon has given her a bottle a few times so that it goes smoothly once I'm gone.  She received both of them great and didn't mind that  Momma was missing at all. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gillian's Birth Story

I always struggle with how much detail to include with giving Gillian's birth story so I will include all details and you can enjoy how many or however few you would like.

The "ideal pregnancy" (according to my OB), led to an non-ideal birth, with more excitement than Landon and I would have hoped for.

I had been having irregular contractions for a couple of days. Thursday night, i got little sleep, as the contractions grew to about 8 minutes apart for the majority of the night. Although, Friday morning, contractions were about 90 minutes apart - how does that happen? 

We woke Friday to a winter wonderland. I'm not sure if you remember, but I mentioned that I had hoped our baby would be born during a snowstorm, like her daddy was. Between that hope, the worsening snowy roads, the fact that the storm was growing and not waning, and Landon's utter certainty that the baby would come with a low-pressure system (he had predicted that this Friday would be the day ever since he saw the weather report 10 days earlier!), I worked from home that morning instead of going into the office (at my husband's insistance).

At 1pm, the storm was still raging when Landon and I went to my 39 week OB visit. There, she declared me still 80% effaced and still only 4cm dilated. When she asked about baby movement, I told her that I hadn't really noticed the baby moving that day. To play it safe, she sent me to get some fetal monitoring done.

We waited for awhile for this next appointment. Landon had read every single magazine in the waiting room when I suggested that he go run some errands and come back and get me when he was done. I wasn't concerned about the fetal monitoring, as I know i felt the baby move at least once that day and we heard her heartbeat at my OB appointment and it was perfect, as always.

Apparently every woman is supposed to have a certain amount of amniotic fluid surrounding her baby. From 8-22, they said. After having two different women measure my amniotic fluid via ultrasound, it was determined that i only had 3 and would be sent to Labor and Delivery immediately.

This concerned me because I wasn't really sure what this meant and no one could explain it to me because my doctor was assisting with an emergency C-section. And I was totally alone, as Landon was out in the snow buying dog food. I called him and told him to take his time, but please swing by the house to get our hospital bags and car seat. I really wanted him with me right away but I didn't want him to hurry on the slippery streets. He took my message to heart and even took a shower before coming back to the hospital. 

It was 3pm when i was admitted to Labor and Delivery. I was put on an IV immediately as I needed to receive a lot of antibiotics to fight against the Strep-B that I had tested positive for weeks earlier. I was still having contractions and they were about 10-15 minutes apart. Landon arrived and we just sat there and waited and waited and waited. Apparently, there were 3 emergency C-sections that afternoon and the entire staff was consumed. They would induce me soon.

At 6pm, the doctor broke my water, hoping to progress my labor, but held off on the pitocin, hoping that the labor would move along on its own. I didn't know this, but when you lose your water is when the contractions become painful. With no fluid to cushion baby's head against your too-small opening and other body parts, the pain grows excrutiating. I labored through these contractions with Landon's amazing support for several hours, with contractions growing closer together. Landon really enjoyed watching the baby's heart beat and my contractions monitored on the screen beside the bed. He would be really encouraging, "that was a big one!", or "the hardest part is over, it's near the end". I was so grateful for his involvement and support.

Around 10:30, the nurse came in to check the progress of my labor. Unfortunately, I was still only 4-5cm dilated. She told me that she would call the doctor (who was on-call but at her home at the time) and let her know that they would be putting me on pitocin, which would "make contractions closer together and more intense". I honestly couldn't imagine contractions more painful than what I was already experiencing so I asked for an epidural before the pitocin. 

After passing around the needle during our Labor and Delivery class a month before, epidurals were my biggest fear. And I didn't want to wuss-out of delivery or be imobile. I wanted to be strong during and after the delivery. But I already felt like my contractions were excrutiating and on top of one-another, so I had to concede. 

In fact, the process of receiving the epidural was not awful at all! It kicked in pretty quickly and I was happy to have relief from the contractions. Before my nurse administered the pitocin, she checked the progress of my labor and she said that I was 9cm dilated, she could feel the baby's head, and I wouldn't need pitocin after all. That was great news! The nurse had me wait for another hour before I would start pushing so the baby could align with my pelvis properly.

I pushed as hard as I could, and in that moment, baby's heart beat went from 140 to 60bpm. People started pouring through the doors and I was immediately given a shot to end contractions, and was put on oxygen. The nurses flipped me onto my hands and knees to take any pressure off of the baby and I was terrified and praying frantically. At this time, the doctor was  called to come in, but she lived 15 minutes away, so we would be waiting for her. The nurses were able to stabalize the baby's heart rate. 

When the doctor arrived, she explained to us that my contractions were so strong and lasted so long that our baby didn't have a chance to recover inbetween. We could do a C-section or delivery by forceps. She explained that with a forcep delivery, the baby's heart rate might drop again but she would deliver her as quickly as possible. She thought this was the best option, so we agreed and gave her the OK. They brought in the NICU staff as a precaution, which didn't make me feel very good. 

Within the next few minutes my contractions resumed and after 6 pushes (2 contractions) our baby was out and screaming. I was praising God. Landon cut the umbilical cord and I got to see and touch my little girl before they wisked her away to make sure she was okay. 

Unfortunately, I could not deliver the placenta for the same reason that I could not deliver the baby. The doctor tried to get the placenta, but eventually had to manually scrape pieces of it out from my uterus. This took several minutes and a lot of bloody tools. She went through 3 suture kits to stitch me up, as she had cut a third-degree episiotomy in order to get our baby out quickly with the foreceps. I am so grateful that I got that epidural, even though I never was administered pitocin. 

(Momma's first time holding Gillian)
Gillian Bryce was born at 1:08am on Saturday morning, in a snow storm.
6lbs 12oz, 19inches long with apgar scores of 8 and 9. She is perfectly healthy.

The doctor told me that since I have such a strong uterus, I should never receive pitocin in any future deliveries. I am grateful that i was never given any with Gillian! I am so grateful for the staff at St. Mark's. They were wonderful during our entire stay there, and they were especially impressive during our daughter's delivery. If we had been stuck at home or in the car or 1913, my daughter and I would not have survived the delivery. It's amazing that something that could have been so serious in other situations, was simply a routine birth at the hospital. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the staff there, and for God's amazing provision. His faithfulness is great.

(Daddy's first time holding Gillian)

We spent 36 hours at the hospital where Gillian and I received a lot of care (read: no sleeping but constant poking and prodding). I was on an IV until 8pm Saturday night because I needed antibiotics to help with any possible infection that I could received from the plancental extraction. I was happy that Gillian got to stay with us in our room the entire time. I didn't even want to sleep because I didn't want to miss a moment with her. Landon stayed with Gillian and I during the 36 hours, although he didn't get much sleep either as he slept on a plastic chair. We asked to leave early (although my insurance would cover another day) because we were really struggling without much sleep. We left the hospital Sunday afternoon. If felt wonderful (and a little terrifying) to take Gillian home. 

Getting Gillian ready to go home.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Introducing Little Baby

Tomorrow our daughter is 3 weeks old. It's about time I pull myself out of the new-momma twilight zone and connect with the outside world. I hope to do a weekly update on our little bean, similar to our pregnancy updates (and hopefully some more creative blogs interspersed). 

First off, I want to say THANK YOU to our many friends and family for your loving support, gifts, meals, and for celebrating with us. Our joy is made even greater in getting to share it with you. 

The Baby: Gillian Bryce

Hands may appear bigger in this photo than in real life, but the cuteness is actually this huge. Photo taken today.
Someone commented that she looks huge. She is actually really little. This picture proves it. 

For today, let me just say that having Gillian in our lives is even more awesome than we could have anticipated. Everyone tells you that your love swells deeper than you could imagine, which is certainly true. Landon and I are absolutely in love with our little Gillie-bean. Suddenly our lives have taken a shift and the things that once seemed of most importance are not as important, because she is most important. We find ourselves cooing over her all the time. We can just sit and watch her many expressions and soak in her yummy smell, precious noises, and the reality that she is finally here. She is a joy. 

Gillian is healthy and growing and absolutely perfect. She is a happy baby, which makes her utterly delightful.

The Grandparents:

Her first week of life, we enjoyed having my parents (Sho Sho and Papa Joe) visit and help out. 

And this last week, Landon's folks (Nina and Big Daddy) came into town to meet and love on Gillian. 

The Parents:

Landon loves being Gillian's daddy and has taken to every parenting task possible. He has even helped me keep her awake during breastfeeding. She loves to sit in his lap, and is soothed when he sings to her. Landon is the best at swaddling our little girl. She is an escape artist and loves to have her hands near her face, so it takes an expert's technique to keep this baby swaddled for more than an hour.
Gillian was born one week before Landon's 31st birthday. Having a newborn at home makes for some sleepy parents. This daddy has already been peed and pooped on. Somehow, it isn't actually that gross when it's your own precious babe. 

It's taken Gillian and I about 2 1/2 weeks to figure out breast feeding. I am so grateful that these last 3 days have been easier because it was certainly a challenge there at first. A breast pump was absolutely essential in the first few weeks, which i was not anticipating at all. I was heart broken when she wouldn't breast feed well but would take the bottle (at the recommendation of my lactation specialist). However, now she is off of the bottle and strictly a boob-girl, much to her mother's delight. So no more pumping for me for now, which makes for sweeter and quicker feedings. 

I love to hold my daughter as much as possible, which may not be in her best interest. I just know that I only have 10 weeks maternity leave with her, so I am trying to spend every minute with her that I can. Gillian likes it when I sing to her and I have a 2 song rotation:  Cinderella's "So this is love", and Tommy Walker's "He knows my name".

In the last 3 weeks, we've changed over 200 diapers (cloth diapers didn't work the first 2 weeks because we had to wait for her umbilicus to fall off, and now her legs are so scronny that the cloth diapers leak like crazy. We will have to wait until her legs are little meatier before the cloth diapers will work), taken over 1000 pictures, and have only taken her out of the house 4 times. 

I am hoping to catch up on the first 3 weeks of her life and her birth story in the next few weeks, so look forward to that. Thanks for caring about us and our daughter.