Monday, August 18, 2014

new coffee table for the office

Check it out! I finally got a coffee table for the office!
If you're wondering why it looks so familiar its because it's the coffee table from the living room. I've been making mock ups of potential coffee tables for years and this coffee table has remained the one I've wanted for this room. So after knocking my head trying to find a different one for this room I went ahead and just took it from the living room and got a different one for that area.
I kept thinking I needed a coffee table that was a neutral color since it would be in a room with so many different colors, what's more neutral than clear? Now I have all the magazines I need to read on display and I still have a big surface to eat or drink a pot of tea. 
The office unfortunately suffers from the too much furniture syndrome. Other than the side table to the left of the coffee table, most everything is pretty necessary in this room since it has to do so much and it has to store so much stuff. 
Maybe I should try to do a big cleanse of things and therefore not need so much furniture in this room. I think about that weekly. Unfortunately I suffer from the boy scout syndrome of always wanting to be prepared. Sure, I may not have a use for 10 different tiny boxes now… but someday… 
The coffee table for the living room is a simple white Ikea one.
It didn't cost much, it's sturdy and made of metal and is on casters so we can roll it away once our little friend becomes mobile.
It's also cool that it's white in case I wanna switch it up with the one in the office and it's also two tiered for book display and still allowing an eating surface. Currently on display at the top is Alice's pacifier clip and some pistachios.
I would have cleaned it up but I had to take the pictures fast since I was holding someone that is refusing to nap again.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

she just wants mom

The past two days Alice has been nursing pretty much nonstop. Eating and eating and not sleeping longer than 10 minutes at a time. It's been incredibly frustrating for me since all I can do is sit there and feed her. No precious nap for a tired mommy.

Matt was at work yesterday and I spent the day alone with her trying everything to get her relaxed enough to sleep. She'd zonk out while eating and then I'd rock her and lay her somewhere and BOOP her eyes were suddenly wide open. She'd smile at me or just stare at me and I was going madder than a hatter. I couldn't wait for Matt to come home so he could help. As I finally got the miraculous text that he was packing up I was laying on the bed with Alice laying wide awake next to me fussing and moving. I got her and pulled her onto my chest and after an all day fight, within a minute, she was out.
And so I slept finally with my daughter on my chest. Matt came home and still we slept. It wasn't just food she wanted, it was me. She just wanted to be near her mom.

I'm typing this sitting up in bed. Alice wouldn't sleep much last night once again though she gave us a few hour or two stretches. Matt brought her in for her 2nd morning feeding and laid her on the pillow in front of me and as I prepared to feed her again she was out. She's asleep on a breastfeeding pillow that's in front of me and I'm sleeping sitting up in bed because my baby just wants me. And that just... kills me.

- mobile blog post. spelling irrelevant.

Monday, August 11, 2014

how do single moms do it?

I've been writing a lot about my life as a mom 'cause duh, my blog but before you think I'm some sort of hero, which I totally am (and totally kidding), I'm gonna remind you that it takes two to hero and my other half is often my hero. 
When I can confidently leave to take a shower and say "she's all yours" and not worry about her being okay, he's my hero. When it's 6am and I've tried for two hours to get her to sleep and I am losing my ish and he takes her to the living room with pacifier and swaddle and just tries to get her to sleep so I can get some sleep, he's my hero. When he wakes up from a nap and first thing he does is look for us and offers food, water, or to help, he's my hero. When he takes it upon himself to do the dishes every single day without question and mow the lawn and vacuum the house and do the grocery shopping, he's my hero. When he has a day of work and still wakes up with me at night even though I told him I'd take the night shift so he could sleep, he's my hero.

And now I have a serious appreciation for dads and especially single mothers. 'Cause holy crap, you need two people to make it and how do these women do it?!

weekend

This is my weekend. This is my life. I'm a fan most of the time.





The other times, we just hang on for dear life.

- mobile blog post. spelling irrelevant.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

breastfeeding sucks butt

I haven't quit but man, this crap is hard and I am so so tired.

I can't articulate it but for now, this girl kinda says it well:
http://www.chillmamachill.com/sometimes-breastfeeding-sucks/

- mobile blog post. spelling irrelevant.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

our queen of hearts: month 1

Well, we've survived the first four weeks and now we have a month old little lady.
I was gonna try to do those weekly progress things and I have taken PLENTY of pictures of the girl and honestly getting it together to stage her for a weekly photograph seemed like way too much work so instead I'll do monthlies. I got the idea to make a playing card template with whatever month she is on the card. Ce cute no?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

oh and here's some alice

'Cause the last post lacked some A-ness:
It's cute when she's cute but its cute when she looks ridiculous too.

- mobile blog post. spelling irrelevant.

these dumb things

For some reason every Target in mine or my in-laws vicinity had run out of these guys:
I dunno why I feel the need to tell you about the triumph in the fact that my Target finally got some in stock and I bought 4 packs. And since I didn't know what Target officially called them I couldn't find them online to order them. Now that I know, I'm set.

See... I had received as gifts a few outfit type things that fit best in the nursery closet with these type of hangers that come with clips to keep the tops and bottoms together. I had a few already but they got used up quick and I needed more and could not find them anywhere!

Its one of those baby gifts no one ever gives a new mom that would be so appreciated. So as a hot tip, next baby shower you go to, gift a woman these and she will be so thankful. It may not be cutesy and fun but trust me, so practical.

This post may be the 4am delirium talking...

- mobile blog post. spelling irrelevant.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

so you have a newborn: my essentials list for baby and mom

One of my favorite things to research as I was pregnant was what every mom considered her "newborn essentials". I being obsessed with gadgetry and preparedness was curious and spent a lot of time reading people's lists and then adding things to my registry that fit my general qualifications for a baby item being worth it. It couldn't be expensive unless someone swore to me up and down that it was worth the dough (like the mamaroo and the ergo carrier), it should ideally serve two purposes, and it had to be clever in its execution or purpose. For the things that serve two purposes for example, the pack and play is good, the top becomes a bassinet you can have in your room while the baby is wee and when the baby is bigger it's a portable crib and baby jail.

GEAR AND BABY ITEMS
spit up rags- At our Baby-Q Michelle had our friends decorate plain white cloth diapers and our friends made some very cute designs for Alice that we love seeing when we're cleaning up spit up, laying on the bed while I nurse her, and general all purpose-ness.
aden + anais swaddle blankets- I think these were on every mom's necessities list and they really are great. They're multipurpose and extra large and breathable which is great for our summer girl. We have them all around the house and Matt swaddles her in them and she likes it.
some sort of bouncy chair- we have the glorious mamaroo that does all the bouncing for you and the baby just chills in there happily but we also have a basic fisher price rocker that has gotten so much use, it's amazing and might I add that I totally called it? Matt kept saying we didn't need another one since we have the mamaroo and I said we did. We got the rocker as a registry gift and thank goodness because we move it from the living room to the bedroom at night and Miss Alice sleeps peacefully in it after we discovered that she HATES the bassinet part of the pack and play we were trying to get her to sleep in. We actually have the pack and play still set up and we put the swing in it and then she's at arm level and makes it easy to take her in and out of it. I think she likes sleeping at an angle to aid her digestion and the rocker feels more snug than a flat crib
nursing pillow- I have two. One, the mombo is double duty, one side is flat so you can nurse your baby easily and the other is soft so you can lean the baby on it for tummy time, to burp, or to lounge. I use this one in the nursery with the glider. The other one is my brest friend which was highly recommended by the lactation consultant and I'm gonna throw my hat in the ring and endorse it as well. It's just for nursing but it's really clever. It has a back support pad for mom and it snaps around you so it won't shift and move and right where the baby's head goes there's a slight elevation so she lays with her head nipple height. If you're planning on breastfeeding, get this pillow.
 a baby carrier- I also have two. I honestly haven't used them much but when I did try the moby wrap, she enjoyed being so close and I enjoyed being able to have both my hands available. The other one is mostly so Matt won't be embarrassed wearing the moby since the Ergo is more like a backpack (which is one of the ways you can carry your kid when they get old enough). She's a little too floppy headed for the Ergo but we have big plans to use it. Big! I know this whole "baby wearing" thing is all on trend and whatnot but ugh that term is stupid. People have been carrying their babies on their bodies all over the world for centuries. America, we did not invent this, we just made better tools to do it so get off your high horse and just do it.
a car seat and stroller easy snap thing/travel system- You can't leave the hospital without a car seat! I'm really happy with our stroller and car seat thing. We have the Britax B-Agile travel system. The fact that you can just snap her out of the car seat and onto the stroller without waking her is amazing and the ease of snapping her back into the car by just clicking it in: genius. When they're teeny they hang in the car seat that snaps easily onto the top part of the stroller and once they get bigger they will go in just the stroller part. I HATE how 90% of strollers look and this one is all mod and very light. I chose the all black because Matt would be pushing her around in it and want him to stylin' like the cool dad he is.
pacifiers- Oh yeah, I gave in. It wasn't as if I had anything against them but I resisted for awhile because we wanted to establish breastfeeding. I think it's safe to say we're getting the hang of it and she's going back and forth between paci and boob no problem. It keeps her quiet when we're trying to get some much needed sleep or when we're out and I can't nurse just yet and for that, I'd just about do anything. Matt is a big fan since it means he can help soothe her while I get much needed rest. We're using the Mam ones but we also have a WubbaNub to help out.
double electric pump- I don't know if you moms know this but a breast pump is covered by your insurance. I KNOW! I chose the Medela one even though I had other options because it's the most popular brand and knew the accessories were readily available at Target. I'm glad I did because the few days in the hospital they wanted me to pump since Miss Alice lost a little more weight than they wanted (she was fine BTW) and they used the Medela hospital grade one and they let us keep the extra pieces for it! When I go back to work I'm planning on leaving a hearty stash for Matt to feed our daughter but right now it's helping me out because I have one boob that particularly fills up and it comes at Alice so fast that I'm getting in the habit of pumping that side for a few minutes to alleviate the rush and she takes that side much better now. It also helps when she's sleeping for that extra hour and I'm so full and heavy that I can just let out the milk a little and let her keep sleeping and I feel much better. We stash the milk in the fridge and then if we never have to resort to the bottle after a few days, I put it in a freezer bag and watch our stash grow.

BABY CLOTHING
snap PJs- They're also known as 'sleep n plays' or footed one pieces and there's various combos but my favorite are the ones that cover the feet and have snaps or a zipper. We've learned that Miss Alice likes to soothe herself with sucking on her hand or thumb (yay!) so we make sure her hands are always accessible to her and keep her little tiny feet warm with these. We only had 0-3 sized ones and they were a smidge too big on her so we got a few newborn sized ones to rotate for the next few weeks. I think we go through two of these a night due to spit up and pee/poop situations. 
As far as other clothing I mean, to each their own. I just put whatever people got her on her and try to dress her up in "outfits" when we have guests coming over that way we use up all the clothing we've been gifted before she outgrows it. 

FOR THE NURSERY (aside from the obvious things)
a digital clock/sound machine- We actually have an old iPod loaded with a white noise cd on it that we can just put on loop to help Alice sleep and it has a big digital clock face on it which is super helpful when I'm sitting there timing how long she's been nursing on each side (which is something you do in the beginning to make sure she's eating and pooping enough). Plus we have a little playlist of songs we like on it so we can play music in there during the day.

a comfortable glider chair- I LOVE my chair and ottoman. I nurse my baby in it for hours, I rock her to sleep in it, hang out in it while she's falling asleep, and I sleep in it. It's the perfect height for laying in and the arms are the perfect height for resting your arms that probably have a baby in them.

a fan- A ceiling fan and a dimmer has been really helpful for us. The fan is very refreshing while I'm sitting there nursing and schvitzing. Also, thank heaven we installed the Nest system before we had this babe because I can sit there and control the air conditioning system from my phone without breaking Alice's latch.

waterproof changing pad liner- Boy has this thing saved our bacon. We'd have had to wash that changing pad cover about 10 times already but thanks to these guys we just swap them out when Alice decides that she wants to pee on us while we're changing her or spits up on them. We bought 3 and we bought 3 more. Definitely get them.
side table nursing station- The side table next to the glider is loaded with supplies like chapstick, snacks,  nipple balm, and is a surface for my water bottle, iPad, and magazines.

FOR MOM (nursing particulars highlighted in pink)
an insulated water bottle- You have no idea how hot and sweaty you get while nursing. Your hormones really do a number on you so keep some nice icy water nearby that actually stays cold for hours.
nursing camisoles- I have four of them and actually thinking about getting more. They're incredibly comfy and it's so easy to feed your baby you just unsnap and pop baby on boob. I haven't set foot outside of my house for the past week and since I left the hospital I've been rotating these four shirts the entire time.
nursing sleep bra- I labored my entire time in this bra, was wearing it during the surgery, and wore it when I nursed Alice for the first time and during most of my recovery in the hospital. It's like a comfy sports bra but with the bonus of easy boob access. They recommend you wear a bra to bed for support and this one definitely fits the bill.
yoga pants with the band that goes up- Again, comfort and support.
non-glamorous items- snacks at the ready everywhere, pre-natal vitamins, maxi pads/panti-liners

to help with pooping- prune juice, milk of magnesia, stool softeners: to get things going. medicated wipes/tuck wipes, preparation H: once things get going its gonna be a little painful, have these nearby.

breastfeeding supplies- nipple balm, disposable nursing pads

comfortable flip flops- ain't nobody got time for socks in the summer! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

still kicking

It's been an interesting few days around the Fredrich household with our lady. We're slowly getting a groove going, just in time for her to change it all I'm sure. Anyway… trying to make some time to type things but napping sounds like a better use of my time.
In the meantime, enjoy this little pic from our newborn photo session. It's so nice having friends that are professional photographers.

Friday, July 25, 2014

the breast of times: adventures in milk making

First of all, I have been dreaming about breastfeeding my baby since I found out I was pregnant. I've been a staunch supporter of this most wonderful of things since well, my mother breastfed me for a year and to this day we all swear it's the reason I have such a great immune system. But I would literally have dreams where I was breastfeeding my baby and was really hoping I would be able to do it once Alice was born.
Thankfully, it's happening. It happened right from the minute they placed her in my arms. She wasted no time and went right to the source. I was so relieved, especially since we didn't have that special snuggle time after the operation, I said hello and they whisked her away. 
First off: I don't give a crap how you feed your baby. You do what you gotta do for your family. Right now we're going this route but let me tell you, it's HARD work. I am consumed by feeding this kid. At the moment we're going bottle-less and pacifier-less for a few weeks 'til Alice gets the hang of it before I start pumping and introducing bottles that would give me a break for a few minutes a day. When you are someone tiny's sole source of food, it is exhausting work believe you me. And it's not like you can do much while nursing either. You're basically confined to sitting or laying while holding a baby with your boob out and whatever you can do within a few inches reach. When not staring at her, I'm messing with my iPhone or iPad either on social media sites, pinterest, playing games, reading magazines or browsing blogs. I can also watch some Netflix on the ole iPad which is how I'm finishing "Call the Midwife". I'm trying to be in the moment and enjoy how teeny and needy she is and what a special bond we have that no one else in the world can have with her. We cuddle, we snuggle.
But, dude, it can get boring. Is that okay to admit? I am forced to sit still and if you know me, you know that's not my M.O. I don't do that, I multi-task. But with nursing a baby, you just gotta be still.
I have never known a hunger and thirst like breastfeeding hunger and thirst. My entire pregnancy I spent it waiting and waiting to get hungry and it never happened but now, I can down a tofu and fried rice plate in one sitting and suck down a bottle of water faster than you can say H2O. And I'm SUPPOSED to eat and snack all the time, as a breastfeeding mother I'm supposed to have an extra 500 calories a day and I am burning them like crazy. I have burned through so much that I am down to only 6 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. And that's not even a brag (well maybe a little), that's me telling you the facts and how much calories I'm burning. I don't care about losing weight or fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes or any of that business, I didn't while pregnant and I don't now. I'm in no hurry to be 100% back to looking normal, I just made a baby and am feeding a baby, my body can evidence it.
Weird things are the chills and then the sweats. One minute I am FREEZING and can't get warm enough and the next I'm heating up and sweating like crazy. That's hormones for you.
Currently she's having some crazy growth spurt that requires constant feeding and it is exhausting. This is hard work my friends and I am a tired woman. But… we soldier on. 'Cause she's worth it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

oh alice

She's been extra hungry lately and I've been extra tired lately. Matt snapped this photo that reminds me that no matter how ravaged my body has been due to this girl, it is so worth it.
- mobile blog post. spelling irrelevant.

Monday, July 21, 2014

all you never wanted to know about c-sections & c-section/postpartum recovery

In my research about labor & delivery I would keep ignoring the chapters about C-sections and C-section recovery because well OBVIOUSLY I wouldn't be having one because I was going to be an A+ student and birth my baby the way I wanted and within a short amount of time. Duh.

Oh the arrogance!

In Alice's birth story I described what it was like when I was wheeled into the OR and the general what happens when you get one and meet your baby for the first time so here's a few more details on the experience.

You are only allowed one person in the room with you and for me that person was Matt. He was allowed in right before Alice was delivered and he stayed with her the whole time after she was born and brought her to me when she was cleaned up.

Obviously you don't see much with a curtain about 1 foot from your face blocking the view so when your child is born you don't get to see them for a few minutes but you do get to hear them, which is a joyous sound you will never forget. Your arms are numb and heavy and they are stretched out like you're waiting for a hug and resting on a table on each side. Your legs are wrapped up in this massage machine that keeps circulation moving during and for a few hours after you deliver and it feels pretty good like someone rubbing your legs up and down. I was offered oxygen which I didn't really want and as I mentioned before I felt like I was gonna pass out but once they didn't seem to be alarmed by that I got over myself and woke up. After I met her I asked if I could just fall asleep and they said sure and I maybe closed my eyes for a second but you feel very exhausted.

Once the baby is removed from your body you get these crazy shaky chills that are normal and they put a warmed up blanket on you that is heavenly. Before you know it and after you've met your baby they're done putting you back together and the curtain is gone and you are feeling numb but okay. They wheel you over the a recovery room that I shared with a poor girl that was having a rough reaction to the meds and had puked a few times. Nausea is to be expected with the anesthesia medication but luckily I didn't experience any of that, I was just beat.

For the first four hours after the surgery you are monitored very carefully to show signs of any infections or adverse reactions to the medication and the procedure. They check your blood pressure, temperature, etc. I was so so thirsty after the thing and all they would let me have were ice chips and I feel like I had two big buckets of it. It was during this waiting period that I was able to hold Alice for the first time and give her the first meal I'd been slow cooking all these months. After the family left we were wheeled upstairs to the postpartum recovery floor to begin the recovery period. It is customary to stay in the hospital for 3-4 days after a C-section since you're way more delicate than a vaginal birth.

I had an IV with some oxytocin and pain meds going into me, still had a catheter, and the massage thing was working on my legs. I was still pretty numb so I'm not feeling much pain, only tiredness. I'm not sure why they gave me oxytocin, I know what it is, it's the synthetic for a chemical your body makes to help your uterus contract down back to normal size which your body pretty much does anyway but maybe since I hadn't delivered vaginally they thought I needed the help.

It seems like there's two stages of surgery: the being tied up with tubes and assistance of all kinds and the weaning off of these tubes and assistance. I was given pain meds through the IV for awhile and then transitioned to oral medication. Either that day or hours later, the catheter was removed and I was able to walk to the bathroom on my own. The first time I got up and walked to the bathroom was one of the more painful moments in recent history. Sore all over and my legs just barely working I moved to the bathroom at a very slow pace with Matt guiding me there. If you'd have seen me, it was both comical and pretty pathetic looking. Over the course of the stay I was able to move faster and faster but we did have a sad incident where I couldn't get to the bathroom in time and peed on the way there. At this point gang I have peed myself so many times that I have no shame. Just the way it is.

The pooping on the other hand was the big hurdle we had to overcome before we felt ready to go home. Since during pregnancy your organs are all squished up to make room for the baby now there's no baby so they're stretching themselves back down to where they originally are and that makes for a very slow pooping situation. I had eaten three square meals a day for about 3 days before I was able to poop and that was after days of stool softeners, milk of magnesia, coffee, and warm prune juice. I feel like I sat on the toilet for a half hour the Monday morning I finally pooped but the relief of knowing things were normalizing was enough for us to decide okay, we are ready to go home now.

Once we were home however, pooping became difficult. Michelle thinks its due to all the oral pain meds I'm taking but I am clogged up like the 10 freeway on the way to Santa Monica during rush hour. The poops have been the most difficult and painful poops in my life. I may have missed being able to push the baby out but I was close to the experience with these poops, yeesh. For such moments I was prepared however thanks to my expert: stool softeners, medicated wipes, and preparation H and now the house is stocked with prune juice & milk of magnesia and I am drinking water like crazy.
On top of the incision to deal with there's also the looseness of your tummy due to no more baby being in there. It's quite freakish to see your skin just out of place but you know it was for a good cause. They put a giant maxi pad on top of the incision to act as a barrier from the support wrap I'm wearing. It's taken me a week to finally look at the incision, I was just freaked out by the concept but it's right around my bikini line and I'm told my doctor is one of the best so the marking should be minimal. That was a bummer there: 9 months of no stretch marks and now I have a surgery incision scar. Oh well. I have a support wrap around me as well that's not the most comfortable thing in the world so we're looking for alternatives one of which is to just use those high waisted shape wear support undies aka granny panties. I think this whole belly loose thing is more part of the postpartum and not particular to C-sections but you know, thought I'd mention it. I've heard good things about this wrap and honestly, it doesn't feel like a vanity thing, it feels like a support thing. To me anyway.

One of the more annoying things about the incision is the fact that it hurts to laugh. I have to hold myself in and Matt makes me laugh so much that I have to have him tone it down a notch. Also, don't watch "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" while recovering, you may literally bust a gut laughing.

You are able to shower with the incision, in fact it's encouraged, just let water run down your body and don't scrub it with any product, just water. Let it air dry completely or pat it down before you put any wraps or pads or clothing on it. You're encouraged to take walks to gain your strength back but just don't over do it and no carrying anything heavier than your baby. Heck, don't carry anything but your baby, you're recovering from surgery darn it.
Accept help as much as possible and don't be shy about asking your partner to get things for you. Don't try to do much yourself, take it really really easy. It's going to take a while to recover from this and you will have to see your ob/gyn for a follow up within a few weeks to remove staples and see how you're doing in general after all you've been through.

The recovery is definitely the hardest part but at least you have an adorable baby as a reward. When you're feeling tired and in pain and weak, just spend a few minutes staring at your baby and holding its little hand and somehow, you'll find the strength to keep going.

Friday, July 18, 2014

a week of alice

Hey! We have been parents for a full week now can you believe it?
- mobile blog post. spelling irrelevant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

the birth of alice (very long post)

As 07/07/14 came and went I was feeling very much like a grenade everyone was hoping to pull the pin on. That evening as nothing happened and we were just going stir crazy, Matt and I got dressed up and went out to dinner at Granville and went to see 22 Jump Street and walked around the mall. As we hoped it would be our last date just the two of us though not as we expected.

That night as I showered I felt a trickle of water between my legs and I stepped away from the shower I could tell that I was peeing myself (it was yellow and definitely pee) but the warm trickle before I couldn't tell if it was my water breaking or just the shower. I gave it all night and I felt no contractions but the next day, 07/08/14 I was still leaking involuntarily. I had a 3pm appointment that day anyway but I called my doctor's office to see if they could see me earlier 'cause I didn't really want to go to the hospital. The doctor's office told me to go though I tried to insist I wasn't sure if my water had broken they didn't want me in the office. Under the concern that what if it was water breaking and bad things could happen we went to the hospital. We told not a soul (except my resident confidant/expert Michelle) because I was sure it wasn't labor but didn't want to take any chances. Like baby Jesus in Bethlehem when we got there there were no rooms at the inn and all 8 of the L&D rooms were full and we had to wait in the waiting room (and watched Germany slaughter poor Brazil). It was HOURS before we got in to be seen and after they checked that I was not dilated at all I went home. By then it was 4pm and I cursed myself for not having listened to my instincts to just stay home and wait 'til my regular appointment because we'd have been home an hour ago. Ugh, annoying.
On the drive home I was feeling pretty disappointed. I knew I wasn't in labor but I just felt the pressure of everyone waiting for me to birth this baby and I was just so so sad. This sort of despair that cuts through all rationale and just hurts and makes you cry. My brother, as always, was able to hear my despair through the benign texts about boredom and he, his wife, my mom, and Angie came by to cheer me up and distract me. Mom made us quesadillas and we walked to Starbucks and then the park. Angie picked flowers for Baby Alice. We talked about life and babies and they prayed for me...
… which is probably why a few hours later…bloody show. I went to the bathroom around midnight and sure enough, pink tinted business and contractions began a few hours after that. I knew the beginning parts of labor take forever so I tried to sleep and handle the pain best as I could by myself and not wake Matt because once it got going he wouldn't be able to sleep and someone in our party should be coherent. I finally woke him up around 6am once I was tired of feeling alone and told him I was in labor. He made sure I was fed and watered and would massage my back in between contractions. The way I handled contractions, which by the way feel like intense period cramps and unfortunately for me included back labor which is intense lower back pain, was either rocking side to side and breathing or on my knees by the bed as if I was praying rocking my hips side to side. Constant movement as well. Pacing. Not being still. My contractions came in threes: the first would be intense, then a few seconds another one that would be less intense, then a few seconds later another that was either milder or on par with the first one. Around 8am I was incredibly exhausted and prayed that I could get at least an hour of sleep because if this was just the beginning I was not gonna make it and I badly needed to rest. Miraculously, I fell asleep. I woke up and we had some lunch and labor continued with back massages and addition of a heating pad and finally at 4ish once they were about 5-6 minutes apart we loaded up the car and headed to the hospital, contracting all the way. We let our family know what was happening and told them to pray and wait for an update.
It was around 5pm and we were sent into a recovery room while we waited for our room to be almost ready and my vitals were checked and we learned that I was at 3.5cm and 90% effaced. This is when I texted my girlfriends and told them to standby. Hopefully soon things would get moving and within a few hours we'd totally be having a baby. Right?
My first nurse was Shawna whom I loved right away and we had a chat about what my plan was and goals and she was totally game about my wanting to do it naturally and if I wanted any pain meds it would come from me and she wouldn't ask me. There were a few things that had to be approved by my doctor though which I dunno if I'd mentioned but at my last checkup, the doctor that I'd been seeing for all my prenatal care was going on vacation and would not be around to do the delivery. While normally this would drive a woman bananas luckily I had met the other doctor in the practice and actually liked him so much I almost switched. My doctor had me meet the backup doctor just so he'd have a face to the name and he just wanted to know my general feeling on natural vs medicated birth. I told him I wanted to have it as "low tech" as possible and he was very pleased. He would prefer that when possible and he was not the type to want to rush things, he would let things move at their pace. I later learned that he comes from a time when midwives and ob's worked together so he had the old school training. Also, he was Irish so he had a cool muddled accent. Win.

Back in the labor room, Shawna wrote up my plans on a white board. We wanted it to be low-tech, no pain meds, fun, and with the end result of healthy momma and baby. The items that had to be approved by my Irish doctor were the following: I wanted to be intermittently monitored (they monitor your contractions and the heart rate of the baby) instead of monitored the whole time which would mean sitting on a bed tied to cables, very difficult to deal with when trying to labor naturally, I wanted to be able to ambulate (aka move around), and I wanted to only have an IV lock instead of being tied to an IV. The difference being that I would have the IV ready to go on my hand only in case of emergencies vs having the IV tube going into me, once again tying me up to machines. We had no doubt he would approve all these things but he had to be asked, which of course he did. This is where the reading and knowledge came in handy. Had I walked in there not knowing that they were gonna wanna tie me to the bed things would have gotten uncomfortable fast. But since I knew they would and I knew there were alternatives I was able to ask for and be given these things.

Unfortunately Shawna was off at 7pm but she remarked optimistically, hey, I'm back at 7am tomorrow hopefully I'll see you then. Ha! I arrogantly thought, hopefully we'll have a baby by then!

Katherine from Nigeria came next. She had four boys naturally and was totally pro whatever I wanted. That night may have been one of the harshest nights of my life. I was in a boatload of pain, in a hospital, and really tired. Up until this adventure I'd never spent much time in a hospital except for a car crash and when I got hit by a bike last summer and even then it was for a few hours and never overnight. I let Matt sleep a few hours and I dealt with what I could as best I could. Another strange thing that I didn't know about labor was how much I would have to pee. Every contraction made me feel like I had to pee and rushing to the bathroom barely making it each time and a contraction hitting right as I was peeing making it worse. All I could have were ice chips which was fine by me, I wasn't hungry.

Matt was incredible. Having it be just the two of us made a big difference to me: it was our baby and we were a team. He would massage my back during contractions, let me lean on him to sleep, held my hand, kept telling me how proud he was of me, got me water, he was my everything. My strength. My love. I couldn't have done it without him.
Time went on and 7am came and I was checked again and this is when the massive heartbreak began. I was up to 4cm. One measly 1/2 a centimeter after all my hard work that night. Somehow I kept going, took one of the most uncomfortable showers of my life and around 3pm things were getting out of control painful. My previous quiet breathing and medium moans were getting louder and my capacity for keeping it together was getting lower. I asked to be checked and I knew that if I wasn't pretty far along say 7 or 8 I was done with natural labor and was going to get the epidural. In Ina May's book she mentioned stories of some women just being exhausted and needing their body to relax to be able to dilate and that was me all the way. Plus I knew that the pushing was coming and I would have no strength by then to handle it so I told Shawna I was quitting and gimme the numb. At this time my mom came by and saw me and got to see me contracting a few painful ones and told me later once she left the room she started crying. She told me she didn't wanna see me in pain and I was glad she sucked it up while seeing me, holding me tight as I moaned. I told her I was getting the epidural and hang tight and then they could say goodnight while it took effect and we'd see where we'd be in a few hours. I was at a 5/5.5 at this point and was at over 36 hours of natural labor.

My doctor came in and told me he wasn't sure the epidural was a good idea. He thought it would slow things down and we'd end up having to take the eventual steps of water breaking and pitocin to get things moving again. I pleaded with him to give me a chance to see where we'd be in a few hours with just the numb and he checked me. After his check he pretty much knew that Alice would not be born vaginally but instead told me that at this point there was a 50/50 chance of a C-section and that her head was not descending and there was little room for her to fit through the pelvis but he would give me that rest on the epidural. Why make me suffer naturally when I was on a road to C-section anyway?

Epidurals begin a big ole chain of reactions. You are numbed from the waist down so you can no longer move, you are totally confined to the bed. You can no longer control your pee so they stick a catheter in you. You can also no longer feel your contractions so that intermittent monitor is now an all the time monitor. And before you are given the epidural a bag of IV liquid must run through you so that IV lock that once no longer had a tube running into it now did. And epidurals aren't just a one time shot, it's a tube going into your back that has to constantly have medicine flowing to it and that's also on that IV pole. Yes, all of these things now were happening, you can see why I was trying to avoid it.

The anesthesiologist came in and everyone but Shawna cleared out.  I sat up on the bed with Shawna holding me steady and the doc poking me in the back with a big ole needle. This was when I had my strangest pain coping mechanism. I loudly hummed the song from Fivel Goes West "Somewhere Out There" and then hummed "Look out for Mr. Stork" from Dumbo. I think I needed to focus on something rhythmic, I dunno. Well within minutes relief was felt throughout my very weary body. My mom and Gaudy came in to see me and told me they thought I was ultra brave and no one could fault me for getting it after trying so hard. I fell asleep fairly instantly and thought I'd have gotten more sleep but soon my doctor was back and talking about what to do next. He was wrong about the epidural slowing the contractions down, they kept right on going and he acknowledged that. But the baby was starting to show signs of being tired and so were my organs.

It was going to be a surgery. That hit me like a ton of bricks and I wanted to cry but I had no strength. We could have waited a few more hours to see what would happen but I was starting to be convinced that even if I got to 10cm what was going to happen was I'd be pushing for more hours and then we'd realize she was still not fitting and now we were talking about an emergency c-section instead of a regular one. I had Shawna describe to me exactly what the procedure would be like step by step, when would I see my daughter, how long would we be apart, where would my arms be, etc. etc. Matt alerted our family and told them to come to the hospital and wait by the L&D entrance where they would meet Alice through a window. I was laid flat and moved to the OR, Matt put on scrubs. I don't remember posing for this photo but it's me just before I went under the knife. I labored like this the majority of the time in just a nursing sleeping bra. Enjoy this picture internet, it's what vulnerability looks like.
A curtain was lifted to block my view of the yucky stuff and I was numbed even more than the epidural. I could feel no pain, only pressure. They gave me an oxygen mask and I didn't like it so he moved it to the side of my face. I felt like I was gonna pass out and when the anesthesiologist  asked me how I was feeling I said "I feel like I'm gonna pass out" which got little to no reaction out of him so I figured that meant that was normal and then I felt better and more awake. I heard my doctor say "okay here we go", clearly felt the slice of the scalpel and then in 3 minutes felt the pressure of something large being wiggled and removed from my body. It was Alice. I heard her cry a polite cry and I was so happy and relieved to hear it. One of my nightmares was for my baby to be born silent and blue and have to be resuscitated so that cry was heavenly. The next thing I heard from the doctor was confirmation that we had made the right call at the right time. "Oh, there's a little bit of meconium, not too bad, just a little brown." Meconium is inside the womb baby poop and it's no good for babies to poop that stuff. During the stress of labor and delivery they can swallow it and it can cause lung infections, it's no bueno. She was tired and it showed and that was enough to let me know we had made the first right parental decision of a long road ahead. I felt body chills all over and they put a warm blanket on me.

Matt was able to go over the curtain to where they were cleaning her up and doing baby things to her. I was still on the other side of the curtain yelling out questions like "it is a girl right?!" "does she have hair?!" The doctors kept working on me and I waited for the first glance of my daughter. The daughter I've been baking in my body for the past nine months. Finally, Matt rounded the corner carrying the most beautiful sight these eyes had seen.
I had always imagined that the first time I'd see my child I'd have pushed it out of my body and meet it immediately and start crying but I couldn't cry when I met Alice. I just stared at her and smiled and smiled. I think I was just too exhausted to cry but not exhausted enough to be thrilled. A few days later as I recovered, I couldn't look at these pictures because I'd start crying and it hurt my incision.
On top of the meconium, the other proof that we made the right call with the C-section was if you can see the top of Alice's head here there's a little bump, that was where her head was stuck trying to come down and making no progress. That's why I wouldn't really dilate, her head wasn't pushing open the door the way it was supposed to, she was sunny side up and not coming down on her own.
While they continued putting me back together, Alice was taken to the nursery to be weighed and given her eye drop ointment and Vitamin K shot. The family anxiously waited on the other side of the window to see her and the nurse lifted her up Lion King style and they all cheered and then booed when she put her back down. The moms all cried and then they waited their turn to hold her.
Meanwhile I've been wheeled to the recovery room, the same one where I first met Shawna and was monitored and given medication and they took my vitals and after all these hours informed me that I still couldn't eat since I just had surgery and had to wait a few more hours. I wanted the strength in my arms to return so I could hold her, I knew that was coming soon and I wanted to start nursing her and was worried that we'd have a rough time at it since she wasn't laid in my arms right away after birth. Someone asked if mom was ready for baby yet and I said YES. I had barely any strength but Matt helped place her on me and she started moving her head down right away looking for her first meal.
After she was done with one, she moved onto the other one and there we stayed for about an hour checking each other out. Mother and daughter.
After we were done the family came in twos to hold this creature we'd all been waiting to meet for so long. My dad and brother then mother, stepfather, and Angie, then Dan & Jill, then Mari and Gaudy. Everyone stayed for about 5 minutes each and went home. Matt, Alice, and I were wheeled upstairs to the recovery floor to begin our new life as a family.

So, in retrospect do I regret having labored like a sucker for 36 hours and ended up getting sliced anyway? Heck no. Not for a second. I will always look back and feel proud that I tried really really hard to get this girl to come into the world the way it was meant to be and I could have made it if those road blocks hadn't been in the way. I may look back and wish I could have delivered differently but in the end I got all that mattered: a healthy baby.