Posts filed under ‘Chelsea’

Hello, I Am An Exclusive Pumper

An exclusive pumper, or an “EP” as we in the business like to say (mostly because we’re on Twitter and “EP” takes up only 2 of our 140 characters instead of 16), is a woman who exclusively pumps her breastmilk and does not nurse. I don’t discuss this often on my blog because, well, there are several dudes who read this and for some reason, breastmilk gives men the heebie jeebies. Probably because most men think that breasts aren’t for work, they are for play. Or maybe the idea of juices coming from a human is too much to handle. Well get over it. Or at least skip today’s post. This is what is happening in my life and I’m going to talk about it.

There are several reasons for making this decision. I assume the most popular is that you want to provide the benefits of breastmilk, but for some reason or another your baby won’t latch properly. So instead of fighting with your newborn every few hours, you throw in the towel and let Medela do all the work.

That wasn’t exactly my reason. When I came home from the hospital, I was in serious need of some boob drainage. I had two massive bowling balls attached to my chest and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the throbbing pain of my skin being stretched to its limits. I don’t remember the circumstances but I couldn’t nurse. Maybe he wouldn’t eat enough? Not sure. That part is fuzzy. All I know is that Stephen encouraged me to find refuge in my pump, and that’s exactly what I did.

I nursed exclusively for weeks but I knew I’d eventually have to start pumping. I had a mere 6 weeks for maternity leave and I needed to build up a stockpile so Jansen would have food while I was at work. So after I nursed, I’d pump. As I did this, I realized how efficient pumping was. I knew how much I was producing, it didn’t hurt as bad, it encouraged more production, and most of all, my Medela Pump in Style didn’t have ADD.

We got to the stage where Jansen would be awake while eating. He no longer closed his eyes for the duration of his meals. Turns out, this kid is a curious little one. He looked around and took it all in… taking me along for the ride. It wasn’t enjoyable in the slightest. But the worst part is that his feedings took forever. I was getting frustrated just sitting there for up to 45 minutes while Jansen wretched his neck to see a ceiling fan, yet still not knowing how much he’d actually eaten. Frustration combined with postpartum hormones is a nasty thing. I started resenting Jansen when he was hungry. NOT AGAIN! And I have one of those amazing babies that only eats every 4 hours, so it’s not like Jansen was being unreasonable. So I started to bottle feed when I was in a hurry or away from the home. It was SO EASY.

That’s when the thought crossed my mind. Is it crazy? Do people ever do this? Is there any reason why I shouldn’t quit nursing? I had honestly never heard of such a thing. I figured that even when I went back to work, I’d nurse when I could and pump when I couldn’t. I asked The Google. Apparently exclusive pumping is a real thing and people do it all the time. Instantly a weight was lifted off my shoulders. This was my answer.

I had a goal to breastfeed until Jansen was 6 months, but I knew that at the rate I was going, I wouldn’t last that long. I wanted to provide breastmilk, not just because of the benefits but because it’s cheaper than formula. Pumping would allow me to do that.

It’s been bittersweet. I hate how much time I spend with that stupid machine. I hate that I still go through phases where it hurts as bad as it did when I started. I hate that it’s unreliable, sometimes producing 4 ounces and other times producing 8. I hate that I have to take supplements (Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle) in order to maintain production. I hate that people give me back-handed compliments like, “Good for you! Formula is terrible.” I hate that even though I spend approximately 3-4 hours pumping every day, I still have to supplement with formula.

But I also love it. I feel like a provider, like this is a way for me to show Jansen how much I love him. (I know that probably doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. Pumping is a labor of love.) I love that I save money. I love that it forces me to sit still and read for a bit. I love that it gets me out of my office for an hour at lunch, even though I sit in a shady parking lot with homeless men occasionally tapping on my window. I love that I am still losing weight (I think… I don’t believe in scales) but I’ve also been able to keep my pregnancy boobs. See? Bittersweet.

Did you notice yesterday that it was Jansen’s six month birthday? Which means that I reached my 6 month breastfeeding goal. As the day approached, the topic weighed heavily on my mind. Do I quit? Do I keep going? How do I quit? How long to I keep this up? Was there even a right answer? No. No, there isn’t. Because inevitably there are 20 women on one side of me telling me I’m doing great and giving me a “pass” to quit, but then there are 20 on the other side that are on month 9 with no desire to slow down. There are women who think breastmilk is the equivalent of immortality potion. But there are women who don’t think twice about giving their baby formula from day 1. And while I know their thoughts and feelings shouldn’t matter to me, they do.

Stephen and I laid in bed on Tuesday night discussing my options. I decided that I’m annoyed because it’s win-win and lose-lose. I’m thankful that it is my decision and not some outside source (lack of production) making me quit. What it all boils down to is this: I’m not mentally prepared to quit. It’s too hard. It’s too permanent. And it’s basically saying that my baby is growing up, and I’m just not prepared for that right now. So I’ll just cut down to 3 pumps per day, and not worry about the amount of production. (Although there is absolutely nothing worse than putting in the time to pump and only getting 4 ounces. It’s a terrible feeling.)

I didn’t feel great about my decision but I had a slight hint that I was making to right one. I woke up yesterday for my early morning pump. I got 9.5 ounces. At lunch I got 6.5 ounces. My third pump of the day was 5.5 ounces. Okay God, message received. You’ve made it abundantly clear that I’ve made the right decision. I’m going to keep on until you’ve made it abundantly clear that it’s time to quit. I’m going to be thankful for what You’ve provided and try not to whine about it. But also, I’m going to whine a little because it makes me feel better. I’m going to try to stop comparing myself to every other mother in the continental U.S. and just concern myself with the Hurst family. Because we all know that this is only the beginning of Mommy Guilt and Child Comparison and I think we can all agree that it’s well-wasted on a topic like this.

March 3, 2011 at 7:00 am 15 comments

The Full Birth Story

If you’d rather read it in parts, here are the links. I copied the four parts here so I’d have the enitre story in one spot.

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)

Some people imagine that their labor will be a lot like the movies, they’ll be doing laundry while their husband is in the other room. They get a giant contraction and yell, “Honey, I think it’s time!” They speed off to the hospital, make it to the delivery room just in the nick of time, and 2 hours later they have a beautiful baby with a perfectly circular head in their hands. Other people assume their water will break and they’ll spend the next 17 hours huffing and puffing in the labor and delivery room before they have a rough battle delivering their baby.

Not me. I envisioned some contractions, strong but manageable. I imagined myself on the couch with Stephen saying, “Call your doctor! Where is your phone, I’ll call your doctor!” while I sit there repeating, “Not yet! Please, just sit down, shut up, rub my feet, and watch the clock.” You see, I didn’t want to be the first time momma who rushed to the hospital only to be sent home to wait it out or, worse, left to labor in a hospital room with nurses constantly asking me how I‘m feeling. I’m a people pleaser, it makes me feel bad to tell someone I’m feeling bad.

The thing about life is that you can’t predict it.

August 31 is my sister’s birthday, it fell on a Tuesday last year. That Tuesday night we gathered at my brother’s house to celebrate with my sister. We ate roast and mashed potatoes and I moaned… a lot. I wasn’t feeling well that day. I felt like I had gained 10 pounds in 24 hours and all of that weight was on my back and lower abdomen. I was miserable and it was written all over my face. I’m not sure that I smiled a single time that night. (Sorry Lindsay.) I was 37 weeks along and I repeated to anyone who would listen that I didn’t think this baby was going to wait much longer.

Jansen and I had a deal going on. He wasn’t due until September 19 but I had a feeling he’d want to come early because, let’s be realistic, he knew that life with Stephen and me would be fantastic. I had politely asked him to wait until September 1. My SIL turned 30 and had a big birthday party on Saturday the 28th. I wanted to be there and I wanted all the discussion to be about her, not on her little nephew that was freshly baked at the hospital. The same with my sister. As much as both of them said they wouldn’t mind sharing their birthday with their first nephew, I didn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. (Remember: people pleaser.)

In the car on the way home from my sister’s birthday dinner, I told Stephen that I’d like him to do some research on the stages of labor. When the time comes, I’m not going to have the mental capacity to have any clue if this is “it” or if it’s just the beginning of a very long, exhausting previews of “it.” Also, I decided it was about time we pack a bag. I had a few things in a bag for a couple weeks because I’m a crazy person. But Stephen would need some clothes and we’d both need slippers because everyone knows that you can’t have an extended stay at a hospital without slippers.

Right when we got home, Stephen pulled out one of the books. He studied labor until he was comfortable in his knowledge. He packed his portion of the bag, and we went to sleep.

The morning of September 1, I had my 37 week OB appointment. The previous week I was 2 centimeters dilated and after my appointment, I’d had a serious case of Braxton Hicks. I had a feeling that if I felt that bad after last week’s appointment, I was likely to feel worse after this one. Stephen had quit coming to my appointments with me because neither of us saw the point of him missing several hours of work if there was no ultrasound involved. But because I had a yucky feeling about this one, I asked him to come with me. Every Wednesday morning he has breakfast with a few guys from church at the local Einstein’s Brothers, so he went to breakfast and came back to pick me up with a bagel in hand.

I felt better that morning than I had the previous night. I no longer felt that Jansen was about to fall out. (Can you imagine if it was really that easy? If you were just walking along and your baby just sort of slipped out?) We arrived at the doctor at 8:15 and sat down. They called my name and we went back. My nurse took my blood pressure and urine, good as always. She weighed me and I had only gained one or two pounds since the previous week, which was shocking to me since I was eating Oreos with wild abandon. My weight gain was up to 38 pounds as of that morning, and I was certain I’d hit the 50 pound mark by my due date.

My doctor came in at about 8:40 for my check up. I was 2 centimeters the previous week so part of me expected to be up to 3 or 4, but I’d also been told you can hover at 2 or 3 for weeks before you have any progress. My OB had told me that any dialation before labor was great because it was just work my body didn’t have to do later. So I was welcoming a bit of progress in that regard. When she checked me, her eyes opened a bit. “Hmmm.” Stephen and I looked at each other. “Have you been having any contractions?” “No, not really. I think a bit of Braxton Hicks here and there but that’s it.” She looked at me and raised her eyebrows, “Really?” I suddenly became unsure, “Well. I mean, I don’t think so. I’ve been feeling a lot of heaviness, but not contractions. I’ve never had a baby though, so maybe I’m wrong.”

She stepped back and took off her glove, “Well you are 3 centimeters and quite effaced.” That statement didn’t really phase me, I didn’t think 3 centimeters was a big deal. I had heard of this “effaced” business but I had no idea it made that huge of a difference. “All of our beds are occupied this morning so I’m going to send you to the hospital so they can hook you up to a monitor and see if you’re contracting because you are really soft.”

Interesting.

Stephen and I got in the car, my hospital was only a couple blocks away. I texted a couple people at my office to let them know that I was headed to the hospital for a quick check, so I’d be in a bit later than I thought. I honestly can’t remember if I called my mom at this point. It’s likely that I didn’t because I really didn’t think it was a big deal. I just thought, “Oh good, so now we’ll be somewhat familiar with the labor and delivery unit for when we have to run in there screaming, “BABY! We’re having a baby!”

We parked and walked up to the doors. We were talking about how weird this was and if it means we’ll be having a baby in the next couple days instead of the next couple weeks. I saw a sign that mentioned valet parking, “You will be using that when we’re arriving for real! Don’t even think I’ll be making this walk when I’m about to have a baby!”

And THAT, my friends, is what we call foreshadowing.

We went to the third floor and checked in. “Are you coming from your OB’s for the prenatal monitoring? Go take a seat in the waiting room, all of our beds are full right now so we’ll have to wait until one opens up.” So Stephen and I went to the waiting room and watched some chef prepare a 5 star meal on the local morning show. I got a bed at about 9:45 and they strapped two monitors to my belly. One to track my contractions and one to track my heartbeat. I thought the monitors were pretty interesting but I constantly felt like they were going to flip off of my giant belly.

I laid in bed with Stephen sitting in a small chair by my side listening to all the beeps around us. There were four beds in this room since it was just for these sorts of tests. All of the beds had curtains around them so you could feel a bit of privacy. The nurse came back about 15 minutes later and asked me if I had any contractions. I hadn’t. She went to read the screen with all the results. I don’t remember the nurse’s face or the color of her scrubs, but I will never forget the way she looked at the screen and then turned to me and said, “Umm, actually you have been having them every 3-4 minutes.”

Listen. I’ve never had a baby before but I know that every 3-4 minutes is a big deal. That’s grounds for calling your doctor and high-tailing it to the hospital. Well I was already at the hospital so we could go ahead and put a check in that box. The nurse decided to go call my doctor to give her the news and ask her what the next step was. While she was gone, Stephen and I did a whole lot of looking at each other and saying, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.” We really just had one main question: WHO HAS CONTRACTIONS AND DOESN’T KNOW IT?? I mean, I’ve always thought that because I have experienced so many migraines that I have a higher pain tolerance than many people, but not that high!

The nurse came back and said, “Well, I spoke to your doctor. Looks like you’re having a baby today!”

My eyes turned into saucers and my smile went from ear to ear. And if I’m going to be completely honest with you, the smile wasn’t from excitement, it was from nervousness. Nervous terror. I was just supposed to be going to the doctor. You know, a quick check with several it’s-getting-close’s from the nurses and OB. And now I’m in the hospital and you’re telling me that I’m going to have a baby… today? As in, this date? As in, 2.5 weeks early? NOW? 

The nurse checked me and I was now at 4 centimeters. (This was also the point in my life when I learned that there is a skill to checking someone’s cervix. My OB was so good at it that it never phased me. This chick? Not so much.) There was no need to rush me to a delivery room because there was still a lot of labor that needed to happen. It’s a good thing because every single delivery room was full. So our job was just to hang out and watch reruns of Home Improvement.

The nurse came back in to give me my IV and tell me about the strict “no eating or drinking” rule. It was about that time that I was cursing my bagel breakfast and wishing I had eaten 17 pancakes and a pound of bacon. I’d heard plenty of stories about people being in labor for upwards of 24 hours and the thought of no food until the next morning was giving me serious anxiety. (Remember, I was still pregnant at this point. The possibility of no food is a common fear in pregnant women.)

While I sat in my bed texting random people to tell them this new turn of events, Stephen stepped into the hall to call our parents. My parents were instructed to pick up our bag from our house and take care of our dog for the next couple days. We weren’t able to get in contact with his mom for a couple hours. She’d given us direction to call her cell phone when it was time. If she didn’t answer, we were to call the office. She’d told her office that she would be leaving work the instant she got the call. She works at a preschool and apparently the secretary didn’t think it was that important to get her. Or something. Not sure. The details are sketchy because honestly I didn’t care about anything besides the whole “looks like you’re having a baby today” thing.

Of course we told them all not to rush, that babies take their time. Do you think they listened? No. They all decided that they’d set up shop in the waiting room and sit tight until Jansen decided it was time to come. Since we didn’t have much real estate in that room (literally only had a bed and a small chair) they all had to come in one at a time to say hello. Throughout the next few hours, each of them came to keep me company and ask how I was doing. Remember that since I was still pregnant, I still had a pregnant woman’s bladder. So Stephen would have to help me out of bed and wheel my IV to the bathroom. It was all very awkward since I would have to try to hold the back of my gown closed while waddling and trying not to rip my IV out. (I have an irrational fear of IVs ripping out. It got better throughout the day, but at this point it was a pretty serious concern of mine.)  

By this time, I’d learned what a contraction feels like. I suppose they were getting stronger and that’s why I was able to feel them, plus I was laying still with nothing to do but concentrate on my stomach. Stephen would stand in front of the computer and watch the numbers (we didn’t know what they meant, but we knew that a change in numbers was likely a contraction). I would say, “Oh wait! I think this is one. Is it? Is it a contraction?” And he’d watch the numbers change, “Yeah! That’s a contraction! It’s still going, babe! You’re still having it!” It was a fun little game that would last several more hours.

Finally at 3:45 they wheeled me into a delivery room. It was much bigger and I was allowed to have 4 guests in there. That was nice since I enjoyed the company, plus I felt bad that they all had to wait out in the waiting room. (I literally JUST realized that they all had each other in the waiting room, so I was probably the most bored of everyone. I had only had one guest at a time. Hmm.) At this point the nurse checked me and I was still at 4 centimeters. The anesthesiologist came in to explain the process to me. (I knew I was going to get drugs even before I got pregnant. I know me. If I didn’t get drugs I would have been miserable, plus I would have given myself a migraine from the pain.) I didn’t really need to hear the details from him but I think they have to do that, although meeting him made me feel better about the whole sticking-a-needle-in-a-dangerous-place thing.

At this point, just about everyone had arrived. My parents, Stephen’s parents, Stephen’s sister from Fort Worth, and my sister. Stephen’s other sister came after work and my brother and SIL weren’t able to come. I think we were all pretty bored. Every now and then one of them would say something that showed how excited they were. I was nervous. And mostly bored. I watched several episodes of Cash Cab to try to keep my mind off things. Sort of like “a watched pot never boils”… a thought-about cervix never opens. Right?

We continued to play the contraction game. My dad was really into it. I’d tell them when a contraction came (they were much stronger now, but still not painful) and he and Stephen would run over to the machine to watch the numbers. “OH LOOK! This is a good one!” or “Man! What a weenie contraction!” Eventually he started trying to foresee the future. “Well you’ve had several strong ones recently, I think we’re getting somewhere.” It was a good way to pass time.

My OB came to check on me at about 5:40 that evening. There were several patients of hers in delivery rooms so she’d be hanging around for the rest of the night. She checked my cervix and I was “a good 4″ so she decided to break my water. I think she was ready to get the show on the road. I started having a panic attack. I had been at the hospital almost 9 hours and it was just hitting me that I was about to have a baby. Once your water is broken, there is no turning back. (Not that there was any turning back before that, you can’t exactly un-conceive a baby.)

For some reason I was terrified of her breaking my water. I think it was because I had read descriptions that said the doctor will take a long stick with a hook on the end and stick it in there to manually break the water. That was the scariest thing I had ever heard. All of my guests stepped out. I started sweating and begging Stephen to come hold my hand. My OB looked at me like I was a nut job, “It’s really no big deal, Chelsea. I promise. You won’t feel anything.” I tried to relax but I really just wanted to scream, “OF COURSE YOU’D SAY THAT. IT’S NO BIG DEAL TO YOU! YOU AREN’T ABOUT TO GET YOUR VAGINA STABBED WITH A GIANT CROCHET HOOK!”

But I kept my mouth shut and I’m certainly glad that I did because, well, she was right. It was no big deal. She broke my water and I’m sure that 17 gallons of liquid came pouring out of me. But I can’t remember that. I think I remember several towels. But mostly I just remember sitting there, wide-eyed, thinking, “This is it. I’m going to be a mom. I’m going to have a baby.”

After a much-needed trip to the restroom, I settled back into my hospital bed and allowed my visitors to come back in. Everyone was revived, renewed, ready for the next step. This was no false alarm, this was the real deal. I knew that within 24 hours, my baby boy would no longer be taking up residence in my uterus.

I’d say than no less than 30 minutes after my doctor broke my water, my contractions started getting more intense. You could see my belly tighten up and I could no longer ignore the pain. As you can imagine, this just upped the excitement of The Contraction Game my dad was playing. He was getting more and more excited as the numbers went higher. My nurse was fluttering around my room doing something productive, I’m sure, but mostly just being the most important person in my entire life. “Deanna. I’m ready for my epidural if my doctor says it’s okay.”

I wasn’t willing to play around. I didn’t want to have a situation where I went from 4 to 9 centimeters within the hour and the epidural was no longer an option. I’d have gotten through it, I know, but I would have been a wreck the next couple days. The pain would undoubtably caused me to tense up during each contraction, which would then cause some serious knots that would turn into a serious migraine. I was really hoping to enjoy the first few days with my baby, so a migraine wasn’t an option. Plus, I have nothing against epidurals and I didn’t (and still don’t) see any reason I shouldn’t completely enjoy my birthing process.

There’s something you should know about me. I’m terrible at understanding accents. I watched the entire movie Four Weddings and a Funeral and I honestly have no idea what the movie was about. So when my anesthesiologist, who was a small, soft-spoken Indian man, came in to my room to give me my epidural, I was pretty clueless as to what exactly was going on. Plus at this point my contractions were quite painful and I didn’t have the energy to focus on decoding the message he was giving me.

I planned to get through my epidural the same way I had gotten through my water breaking – by squeezing Stephen’s hand until his bones crushed to a fine dust. Unfortunately that was not an option. I don’t know if this is a nationwide rule, but at my hospital, husbands have to leave the room. “Why? Why? What? But why? He has to leave? WHY?” They told me something about it being a liability. That there was a case where a man was watching and he fainted and fell and hit his head. The doctor and nurse couldn’t help him because, well, you all have to be very still during the epidural so it’s done properly. So the woman was freaking out because her husband was laying unconscious on the floor. Anyways, bad stuff. And Stephen had to leave.

The second the door closed, I felt very alone. I was tired, hungry, hurting, anxious, and extremely nervous about the epidural. The doctor instructed me to sit on the side of the bed. I was to tuck my arms to my chest and then curl into my nurse who was standing in front of me. She wrapped her arms around me and I was instantly comforted. Don’t get me wrong, I was still tense and scared to death, but I no longer felt alone. I felt safe. The doctor started giving me the shots to numb my back. I have no intention to scare anyone here, but in an effort to be completely honest, it was not fun. Shots in your back are not enjoyable. And since I knew I had to stay really still, I was very tense. We waited a bit to let the pain killers do their thing. I figured the worst part was over so I relaxed a bit. My nurse, who was a woman in her late twenties with pretty hair and a sweet smile, talked calmly to keep my nerves in check. She was wonderful and I thought that maybe I should order her to-go so she could comfort Stephen and Jansen when they are sick and I’m not being compassionate enough.

It was time for the epidural. I rested my head on my nurse’s shoulder and tried not to think about it. I felt the pressure of the needle. No pain, just fear caused by the knowledge that there was a needle in my back that had the potential to cause a lot of damage. He injected the anesthesia. I could feel it enter my back and move into my body. The feeling was so uncomfortable that it almost makes me hurl when I think about it now. My nurse tightened her grip and talked me through it. And just like that (well, several minutes of “that”), it was over. They taped the line to my back and told me to relax and lay back down.

I consider myself a pretty smart girl but every now and then I shock myself with how stupid I can be. I understand what happens during an epidural (your whole bottom half goes completely numb) and I also understand how to deliver a baby (lots of pushing in the nether regions). But it never dawned on me that you have to have a catheter put in. Obviously I couldn’t walk to the bathroom anymore. And I’m sure my doctor had no desire to get peed on while delivering my baby. So when my nurse said, “Okay, now that your epidural has kicked in, I’m going to put your catheter in” I was totally taken aback.

She put it in and it totally freaked me out. Catheters give me the heebie jeebies. Not to mention how weird it was to see my line immediately fill with urine and go into my pee bag. Childbirth. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now that I was numb, I’d no longer be able to feel how intense my contractions are. And since they’d broken my water, they couldn’t just check my cervix anytime they wanted. Each time they checked, it would increase the chance of bacteria and infection in my system. So basically, it was up to me. They kept telling me to buzz them if I felt like I was going to have a bowel movement. Over and over they said this. I kept thinking that it was awfully weird that they were so concerned about my poop, but then I realized (after further instruction from my nurse) that when Jansen descends into the birth canal, it’ll feel like I have to poop. So really poop time is actually baby time.

Things were pretty easy at that point. Every few minutes my belly would tighten up. I’d hardly feel anything but a bit of movement but I would still try to guess if it was a big contraction or not. We had to make a lot of assumptions since we didn’t know how far I was. So we all just hung out and hoped for something to happen soon. At one point I could feel my epidural starting to wear off. Through a series of miscommunications, I got a double dose. My nurse was less than pleased, but I after I found out that it wasn’t going to kill me, I didn’t really mind the extra drugs.

Around 10:00 that night, my nurse came in and told me that I should try to get some rest. Whenever the time came, I’d need energy. I felt like saying, “Do you honestly think I can sleep at a time like this? Don’t you realize I’m about to have a baby??” But I didn’t. Instead I asked everyone to leave so that Stephen and I could close our eyes for a bit. There was a chair that pulled out into a twin bed, so Stephen put some sheets on it and laid down. I couldn’t move so I just laid where the nurse had left me and tried to clear my mind. We turned the lights down and tried to ignore the beeps and bum-bum, bum-bums from the monitors.

A few minutes went by and I heard Stephen’s breathing patterns change. He was resting up for the big moment.

The room was almost silent except for all the beeps and heartbeats coming from the machine next to me. There were heavy breaths from Stephen who had just dozed off. And then there was an occasional sound of a piece of paper coming from my sister who had decided to stay in the room and read a book. She said she wanted to stay because that chair was better and it was quieter, but I’m sure the real reason is because she wanted to be close to the action.

Then we heard it. A blood curdling scream. There were no words at first, just the sound of a woman in the next room in serious pain. Then came the words. “OH MY GOOOOOOOOOD!” We all looked at each other with wide eyes. “OOOHHHH. THIS HURTS LIKE HELL!” Screaming and more screaming.

“Screw the sleep, y’all. I can’t do this. No. This has got to go. I’m about to have to DO that. I can’t listen to that!” So I turned on the television which, in my memory, was located about 30 feet away. The remote was attached to the bed and the sound came out of it. I found something on television that didn’t feature any screaming, blood, pain, or babies and I turned the volume up and put it right by my ear.

A few minutes later my nurse came in to check on me and read the secret number code that was coming out of the machine next to me. The fetal monitor, my monitor, my IV bag, my epidural which was under lock and key, my pee bag, and my blood pressure stats. I felt like a freak show being attached to so many cords and wires, they’d even added a danger-red wristband that said “FALL RISK” to the collection I had around my wrist.

I looked up at my nurse with wide eyes, “Are you hearing this?” She looked back at me and with a sigh and a nice eye roll she replied, “That chick needs to learn how to breathe!” I thought she was being snarky (and I liked it) but then she went on to explain how all of her screaming was taking her energy and oxygen and blah blah blah, she was making her life a lot harder than it needed to be. That was the extent of what I was told at that point. The following day I learned that she’d gotten an epidural but it “didn’t take.” I don’t really know what that means but if I’d had my epidural for longer than 30 minutes and my legs hadn’t gone numb, you’d better believe my doctor would be in there jerry-rigging the heck out of that epidural catheter!

My epidural actually was wearing off and I was beginning to feel the strength of my contractions. They were totally bearable but I knew that it would continue to wear off and I had the worst of it yet to come. They gave me one more pump of the good stuff and I prayed it would last. I don’t know why my body doesn’t understand that painkillers are supposed to kill the pain. I will continue to blame migraines.

It was getting late (around 11:30, I’d guess) so people decided to go home and get some sleep. They knew there was a chance that it could still be several more hours. My FIL went home for a nap, my sister and SIL’s went to my house for a bit, and my parents and MIL continued to try to nap in the waiting room. Stephen went back to sleep in his little twin bed and I tried to go to sleep. I found that it was hard to sleep while your eyes were as round as coke bottles and you were staring at the clock. I rested my hands on my belly, simultaneously begging Jansen to hurry up and also to stay put for the rest of our lives. I was so excited, but so very terrified.

At around 12:50 I thought I might be getting this elusive bowel movement feeling they warned me about. I wasn’t sure though and I didn’t want to cry wolf. I put all of my effort into debating the question, “Do I feel like I need to poop or do I not feel like I need to poop??” I felt a lot of pressure down under and I assume that meant that Jansen was beginning his grand entrance… or grand exit. The last time I’d told a doctor that I “just felt a lot of pressure” was early the previous morning (since we were now into Thursday at this point) and that pressure had actually been contractions. So when my nurse walked in on perfect cue, she looked at my screen and then immediately looked at me.

“Your contractions are really strong.” Uh huh. “Yeah, I think I have that bowel movement pressure you warned me about. And yeah, these contractions are really strong.” She gloved up and checked my cervix. “Ten centimeters. It’s time.”

Time. It’s time. Already? I’ve only been here for 1, 2, 3, hmm, like 16 hours. How is it already time? It can’t be time, my husband is asleep!

“Stephen. Stephen, wake up. It’s time.” Stephen popped up. He was a bit taken off guard and kind of in a half-asleep state but he tried to ready himself for the big task at hand. “Can I put my shoes on? I want to put my shoes on.” So he sat back down on his bed and put his shoes on. The same shoes he put on the previous day to go to work, but instead went to the hospital.

My nurse was running around the room preparing everything. Towels and water and whatever else was needed. Stephen stood up with his shoes on and sleep still showing in his eyes, “Deanna, can I go to the bathroom before we start? Please?” So Stephen went to the bathroom and bought me a bit more time. He was back before I knew it. And Deanna told me that we were going to do some “practice pushing.”

Good, I thought. So it’s not actually time. We’ll just do some breathing exercises and wait it out a bit. She started to explain the process to me. “So wait. I push? Like I really push? Like hard? Like I’m trying to push him out?” Okay yeah, there is nothing practice about this. It’s just real pushing without the doctor. The quick lesson and ease of breathing further proved to me that you don’t need birthing classes if you’re getting an epidural. Your nurse is a genius and an angel and she’ll get you through it.

The room was dark and I felt like I was watching all of this happen from the outside. My husband was on my left, holding my leg and speaking words of encouragement to me. My nurse was on my right with my other leg and a wealth of invaluable knowledge. As I felt a contraction hit, I’d begin the process. Breathe, breathe, push, breathe, push, breathe, push. Then the contraction would be over. We’d sit and wait for the next one, and do it all again.

After about 10 minutes of this, my nurse told me to stop and she paged my doctor. Within minutes, my room was full – or so it seemed. My nurse, my doctor, the pedi nurse, and some other woman who I imagine was there incase of an emergency. My doctor got set up with her tools, hair cover, and gloves and turned on the overhead lights. I immediately felt the urge to close my legs and grab a blanket. I’d had my fair share of people looking at my business that day, but spotlights? Really?

Finally they were all in place and it was time to start pushing again. My nurse continued to be my encouragement while my doctor had her serious OB face on. Stephen was gitty and overwhelmed. The real pushing started. It was all very awkward. Since I only pushed during contractions, we had minute or two breaks when there was nothing going on. We had small talk. We discussed the weirdness of the day, the fact that my doctor had already delivered several babies that night and would still deliver a couple more before she got to go home, the baby’s name, how thrilled we were that I didn’t need any pitocin, how my body was made for making and birthing babies, etc.

With the next pushes, the head started coming out. “Stephen look!” my doctor said. He was already looking but she wanted to be she he was seeing it happen. “Oh my gosh! Awesome. Chelsea, the head! I see the head! He’s coming!” He was sort of bouncing up and down as he stood there holding my leg. It was so fun to see his excitement.

I continued to push. It hurt. No amount of drugs can prevent your body from the pain of pushing a human being out of it. It wasn’t bad, it was just there. I was more concerned with the fact that I was pushing so hard I thought my ears and eyes were going to burst off of my face. My doctor’s words changed from “push!” and “good job!” to “keeeeep going!” and “come on, almost there!” I could tell we were getting close. And all of a sudden, at 1:37 am on September 2, 2010, she said, “Okay stop pushing!” I could feel the pressure ease and see a 7 pound 14 ounce red, white, and purple thing get pulled from my body. He immediately peed on my doctor.

She laid Jansen on my stomach and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. He was filthy. And I’m sure my hands weren’t clean. Could I touch him? Should I touch him? He’s very pissed and naked and not really that cute. What’s happening? I told my doctor that Stephen wanted to cut the cord. She seemed excited by that. The cord was short, she told him, so he’d have to be careful. He was nervous but he did it.

The nurse took Jansen to the other side of the room for a quick clean and all the other stuff they do. Stephen went with them. I laid there, wondering what I was to do. I thought I’d have to do the push/breathe thing again to deliver my placenta. But it just sort of plopped out with a little tug from my doctor. Stephen was taking pictures of Jansen like a mad man. I think we have 12 pictures of fresh Jansen screaming on the table with his legs wide open and his newborn baby junk exposed for the world to see.

Stephen came back over to me, probably so he could see the placenta with his own eyes. My doctor showered me with compliments as I’m sure she does with all of her patients. Regardless, it felt good. I only had one tear so the stitches and recovery would be minimal. Once she was done and I was all cleaned up, they brought my little bundled baby to me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t instantly fall in love. I was overwhelmed and tired and mostly I was hungry.

I knew it would take me a while to bond with that baby in my arms. I don’t understand the people who say, “I fell in love the second I laid eyes on him.” I’m sorry, I didn’t. Sure, I loved him. But he didn’t feel like my son. He felt like a stranger.

A nurse came in to make me try nursing. Everything is a blur at this stage. It was after 2:00 am and I’d just been through the most life-changing event in my life. When I think back to this time, I remember it so differently than I think it really happened. I’m sure I wasn’t sitting in a gigantic white room on a random chair in the middle of the room. But that’s how I see it now.

They eventually took Jansen away again for his check ups and real cleaning. Stephen went along to show him off in the hallway to our family who had all come rushing back. I was only a slight fall risk at this point so my nurse walked my to the bathroom where I proceeded to pee the longest pee of my life. In reality though, it was mostly fluids. She walked me back to the bed and asked me if I wanted anything.

“Food. Please, food.” She brought me some chips or crackers or something and the most delicious can of Sprite I have ever laid lips on. We waited around for another hour or so because there hadn’t been a room available, and at 4:45 they finally wheeled me down to the room I’d be in for the next 2 days. It was a shared room but we were told it would be private in a few hours when the other new mom left.

I laid down and started dozing off while Stephen tried to make himself comfy on the new awkward chair-turned-twin-bed. We were asleep for about an hour before the nursery wheeled Jansen in to me and left him at my side. I had a slight panic attack that the people who were trained to handle babies would trust me with a newborn. Buck up, Chelsea. This is it. You’re a mom now and this little boy needs you. There’s no time for doubt or uncertainty, there is only time for parenting. And love, a lot of love.

I smiled and closed my eyes. It was a great day. It was shocking, long, and exhausting, yes. But it was the most exciting day of my life. It’s a day that I like to remember any time I have a free moment with my thoughts. And have no fear, it didn’t take long for me to fall hopelessly in love with this little boy. He’s pretty well wrapped around my finger and filling up my heart!

February 26, 2011 at 7:11 am 3 comments

The Birth Story – Part 4

(Click here for Part 1)
(Click here for Part 2)
(Click here for Part 3)

The room was almost silent except for all the beeps and heartbeats coming from the machine next to me. There were heavy breaths from Stephen who had just dozed off. And then there was an occasional sound of a piece of paper coming from my sister who had decided to stay in the room and read a book. She said she wanted to stay because that chair was better and it was quieter, but I’m sure the real reason is because she wanted to be close to the action.

Then we heard it. A blood curdling scream. There were no words at first, just the sound of a woman in the next room in serious pain. Then came the words. “OH MY GOOOOOOOOOD!” We all looked at each other with wide eyes. “OOOHHHH. THIS HURTS LIKE HELL!” Screaming and more screaming.

“Screw the sleep, y’all. I can’t do this. No. This has got to go. I’m about to have to DO that. I can’t listen to that!” So I turned on the television which, in my memory, was located about 30 feet away. The remote was attached to the bed and the sound came out of it. I found something on television that didn’t feature any screaming, blood, pain, or babies and I turned the volume up and put it right by my ear.

A few minutes later my nurse came in to check on me and read the secret number code that was coming out of the machine next to me. The fetal monitor, my monitor, my IV bag, my epidural which was under lock and key, my pee bag, and my blood pressure stats. I felt like a freak show being attached to so many cords and wires, they’d even added a danger-red wristband that said “FALL RISK” to the collection I had around my wrist.

I looked up at my nurse with wide eyes, “Are you hearing this?” She looked back at me and with a sigh and a nice eye roll she replied, “That chick needs to learn how to breathe!” I thought she was being snarky (and I liked it) but then she went on to explain how all of her screaming was taking her energy and oxygen and blah blah blah, she was making her life a lot harder than it needed to be. That was the extent of what I was told at that point. The following day I learned that she’d gotten an epidural but it “didn’t take.” I don’t really know what that means but if I’d had my epidural for longer than 30 minutes and my legs hadn’t gone numb, you’d better believe my doctor would be in there jerry-rigging the heck out of that epidural catheter!

My epidural actually was wearing off and I was beginning to feel the strength of my contractions. They were totally bearable but I knew that it would continue to wear off and I had the worst of it yet to come. They gave me one more pump of the good stuff and I prayed it would last. I don’t know why my body doesn’t understand that painkillers are supposed to kill the pain. I will continue to blame migraines.

It was getting late (around 11:30, I’d guess) so people decided to go home and get some sleep. They knew there was a chance that it could still be several more hours. My FIL went home for a nap, my sister and SIL’s went to my house for a bit, and my parents and MIL continued to try to nap in the waiting room. Stephen went back to sleep in his little twin bed and I tried to go to sleep. I found that it was hard to sleep while your eyes were as round as coke bottles and you were staring at the clock. I rested my hands on my belly, simultaneously begging Jansen to hurry up and also to stay put for the rest of our lives. I was so excited, but so very terrified.

At around 12:50 I thought I might be getting this elusive bowel movement feeling they warned me about. I wasn’t sure though and I didn’t want to cry wolf. I put all of my effort into debating the question, “Do I feel like I need to poop or do I not feel like I need to poop??” I felt a lot of pressure down under and I assume that meant that Jansen was beginning his grand entrance… or grand exit. The last time I’d told a doctor that I “just felt a lot of pressure” was early the previous morning (since we were now into Thursday at this point) and that pressure had actually been contractions. So when my nurse walked in on perfect cue, she looked at my screen and then immediately looked at me.

“Your contractions are really strong.” Uh huh. “Yeah, I think I have that bowel movement pressure you warned me about. And yeah, these contractions are really strong.” She gloved up and checked my cervix. “Ten centimeters. It’s time.”

Time. It’s time. Already? I’ve only been here for 1, 2, 3, hmm, like 16 hours. How is it already time? It can’t be time, my husband is asleep!

“Stephen. Stephen, wake up. It’s time.” Stephen popped up. He was a bit taken off guard and kind of in a half-asleep state but he tried to ready himself for the big task at hand. “Can I put my shoes on? I want to put my shoes on.” So he sat back down on his bed and put his shoes on. The same shoes he put on the previous day to go to work, but instead went to the hospital.

My nurse was running around the room preparing everything. Towels and water and whatever else was needed. Stephen stood up with his shoes on and sleep still showing in his eyes, “Deanna, can I go to the bathroom before we start? Please?” So Stephen went to the bathroom and bought me a bit more time. He was back before I knew it. And Deanna told me that we were going to do some “practice pushing.”

Good, I thought. So it’s not actually time. We’ll just do some breathing exercises and wait it out a bit. She started to explain the process to me. “So wait. I push? Like I really push? Like hard? Like I’m trying to push him out?” Okay yeah, there is nothing practice about this. It’s just real pushing without the doctor. The quick lesson and ease of breathing further proved to me that you don’t need birthing classes if you’re getting an epidural. Your nurse is a genius and an angel and she’ll get you through it.

The room was dark and I felt like I was watching all of this happen from the outside. My husband was on my left, holding my leg and speaking words of encouragement to me. My nurse was on my right with my other leg and a wealth of invaluable knowledge. As I felt a contraction hit, I’d begin the process. Breathe, breathe, push, breathe, push, breathe, push. Then the contraction would be over. We’d sit and wait for the next one, and do it all again.

After about 10 minutes of this, my nurse told me to stop and she paged my doctor. Within minutes, my room was full – or so it seemed. My nurse, my doctor, the pedi nurse, and some other woman who I imagine was there incase of an emergency. My doctor got set up with her tools, hair cover, and gloves and turned on the overhead lights. I immediately felt the urge to close my legs and grab a blanket. I’d had my fair share of people looking at my business that day, but spotlights? Really?

Finally they were all in place and it was time to start pushing again. My nurse continued to be my encouragement while my doctor had her serious OB face on. Stephen was gitty and overwhelmed. The real pushing started. It was all very awkward. Since I only pushed during contractions, we had minute or two breaks when there was nothing going on. We had small talk. We discussed the weirdness of the day, the fact that my doctor had already delivered several babies that night and would still deliver a couple more before she got to go home, the baby’s name, how thrilled we were that I didn’t need any pitocin, how my body was made for making and birthing babies, etc.

With the next pushes, the head started coming out. “Stephen look!” my doctor said. He was already looking but she wanted to be she he was seeing it happen. “Oh my gosh! Awesome. Chelsea, the head! I see the head! He’s coming!” He was sort of bouncing up and down as he stood there holding my leg. It was so fun to see his excitement.

I continued to push. It hurt. No amount of drugs can prevent your body from the pain of pushing a human being out of it. It wasn’t bad, it was just there. I was more concerned with the fact that I was pushing so hard I thought my ears and eyes were going to burst off of my face. My doctor’s words changed from “push!” and “good job!” to “keeeeep going!” and “come on, almost there!” I could tell we were getting close. And all of a sudden, at 1:37 am on September 2, 2010, she said, “Okay stop pushing!” I could feel the pressure ease and see a 7 pound 14 ounce red, white, and purple thing get pulled from my body. He immediately peed on my doctor.

She laid Jansen on my stomach and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. He was filthy. And I’m sure my hands weren’t clean. Could I touch him? Should I touch him? He’s very pissed and naked and not really that cute. What’s happening? I told my doctor that Stephen wanted to cut the cord. She seemed excited by that. The cord was short, she told him, so he’d have to be careful. He was nervous but he did it.

The nurse took Jansen to the other side of the room for a quick clean and all the other stuff they do. Stephen went with them. I laid there, wondering what I was to do. I thought I’d have to do the push/breathe thing again to deliver my placenta. But it just sort of plopped out with a little tug from my doctor. Stephen was taking pictures of Jansen like a mad man. I think we have 12 pictures of fresh Jansen screaming on the table with his legs wide open and his newborn baby junk exposed for the world to see.

Stephen came back over to me, probably so he could see the placenta with his own eyes. My doctor showered me with compliments as I’m sure she does with all of her patience. Regardless, it felt good. I only had one tear so the stitches and recovery would be minimal. Once she was done and I was all cleaned up, they brought my little bundled baby to me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t instantly fall in love. I was overwhelmed and tired and mostly I was hungry.

I knew it would take me a while to bond with that baby in my arms. I don’t understand the people who say, “I fell in love the second I laid eyes on him.” I’m sorry, I didn’t. Sure, I loved him. But he didn’t feel like my son. He felt like a stranger.

A nurse came in to make me try nursing. Everything is a blur at this stage. It was after 2:00 am and I’d just been through the most life-changing event in my life. When I think back to this time, I remember it so differently than I think it really happened. I’m sure I wasn’t sitting in a gigantic white room on a random chair in the middle of the room. But that’s how I see it now.

They eventually took Jansen away again for his check ups and real cleaning. Stephen went along to show him off in the hallway to our family who had all come rushing back. I was only a slight fall risk at this point so my nurse walked my to the bathroom where I proceeded to pee the longest pee of my life. In reality though, it was mostly fluids. She walked me back to the bed and asked me if I wanted anything.

“Food. Please, food.” She brought me some chips or crackers or something and the most delicious can of Sprite I have ever laid lips on. We waited around for another hour or so because there hadn’t been a room available, and at 4:45 they finally wheeled me down to the room I’d be in for the next 2 days. It was a shared room but we were told it would be private in a few hours when the other new mom left.

I laid down and started dozing off while Stephen tried to make himself comfy on the new awkward chair-turned-twin-bed. We were asleep for about an hour before the nursery wheeled Jansen in to me and left him at my side. I had a slight panic attack that the people who were trained to handle babies would trust me with a newborn. Buck up, Chelsea. This is it. You’re a mom now and this little boy needs you. There’s no time for doubt or uncertainty, there is only time for parenting. And love, a lot of love.

I smiled and closed my eyes. It was a great day. It was shocking, long, and exhausting, yes. But it was the most exciting day of my life. It’s a day that I like to remember any time I have a free moment with my thoughts. And have no fear, it didn’t take long for me to fall hopelessly in love with this little boy. He’s pretty well wrapped around my finger and filling up my heart!

(The first picture of us as a family. The nurse caught this moment.)

(I will be posting all 4 parts as one piece tomorrow. You can ignore it, I just want to have it all in one place.)

February 25, 2011 at 6:50 am 22 comments

The Birth Story – Part 3

(So this is going to be 4 parts instead of 3. As I kept rereading it, there just weren’t any details I wanted to omit.)

(Click here for Part 1)
(Click here for Part 2)

After a much-needed trip to the restroom, I settled back into my hospital bed and allowed my visitors to come back in. Everyone was revived, renewed, ready for the next step. This was no false alarm, this was the real deal. I knew that within 24 hours, my baby boy would no longer be taking up residence in my uterus.

I’d say than no less than 30 minutes after my doctor broke my water, my contractions started getting more intense. You could see my belly tighten up and I could no longer ignore the pain. As you can imagine, this just upped the excitement of The Contraction Game my dad was playing. He was getting more and more excited as the numbers went higher. My nurse was fluttering around my room doing something productive, I’m sure, but mostly just being the most important person in my entire life. “Deanna. I’m ready for my epidural if my doctor says it’s okay.”

I wasn’t willing to play around. I didn’t want to have a situation where I went from 4 to 9 centimeters within the hour and the epidural was no longer an option. I’d have gotten through it, I know, but I would have been a wreck the next couple days. The pain would undoubtably caused me to tense up during each contraction, which would then cause some serious knots that would turn into a serious migraine. I was really hoping to enjoy the first few days with my baby, so a migraine wasn’t an option. Plus, I have nothing against epidurals and I didn’t (and still don’t) see any reason I shouldn’t completely enjoy my birthing process.

There’s something you should know about me. I’m terrible at understanding accents. I watched the entire movie Four Weddings and a Funeral and I honestly have no idea what the movie was about. So when my anesthesiologist, who was a small, soft-spoken Indian man, came in to my room to give me my epidural, I was pretty clueless as to what exactly was going on. Plus at this point my contractions were quite painful and I didn’t have the energy to focus on decoding the message he was giving me.

I planned to get through my epidural the same way I had gotten through my water breaking – by squeezing Stephen’s hand until his bones crushed to a fine dust. Unfortunately that was not an option. I don’t know if this is a nationwide rule, but at my hospital, husbands have to leave the room. “Why? Why? What? But why? He has to leave? WHY?” They told me something about it being a liability. That there was a case where a man was watching and he fainted and fell and hit his head. The doctor and nurse couldn’t help him because, well, you all have to be very still during the epidural so it’s done properly. So the woman was freaking out because her husband was laying unconscious on the floor. Anyways, bad stuff. And Stephen had to leave.

The second the door closed, I felt very alone. I was tired, hungry, hurting, anxious, and extremely nervous about the epidural. The doctor instructed me to sit on the side of the bed. I was to tuck my arms to my chest and then curl into my nurse who was standing in front of me. She wrapped her arms around me and I was instantly comforted. Don’t get me wrong, I was still tense and scared to death, but I no longer felt alone. I felt safe. The doctor started giving me the shots to numb my back. I have no intention to scare anyone here, but in an effort to be completely honest, it was not fun. Shots in your back are not enjoyable. And since I knew I had to stay really still, I was very tense. We waited a bit to let the pain killers do their thing. I figured the worst part was over so I relaxed a bit. My nurse, who was a woman in her late twenties with pretty hair and a sweet smile, talked calmly to keep my nerves in check. She was wonderful and I thought that maybe I should order her to-go so she could comfort Stephen and Jansen when they are sick and I’m not being compassionate enough.

It was time for the epidural. I rested my head on my nurse’s shoulder and tried not to think about it. I felt the pressure of the needle. No pain, just fear caused by the knowledge that there was a needle in my back that had the potential to cause a lot of damage. He injected the anesthesia. I could feel it enter my back and move into my body. The feeling was so uncomfortable that it almost makes me hurl when I think about it now. My nurse tightened her grip and talked me through it. And just like that (well, several minutes of “that”), it was over. They taped the line to my back and told me to relax and lay back down.

I consider myself a pretty smart girl but every now and then I shock myself with how stupid I can be. I understand what happens during an epidural (your whole bottom half goes completely numb) and I also understand how to deliver a baby (lots of pushing in the nether regions). But it never dawned on me that you have to have a catheter put in. Obviously I couldn’t walk to the bathroom anymore. And I’m sure my doctor had no desire to get peed on while delivering my baby. So when my nurse said, “Okay, now that your epidural has kicked in, I’m going to put your catheter in” I was totally taken aback.

She put it in and it totally freaked me out. Catheters give me the heebie jeebies. Not to mention how weird it was to see my line immediately fill with urine and go into my pee bag. Childbirth. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now that I was numb, I’d no longer be able to feel how intense my contractions are. And since they’d broken my water, they couldn’t just check my cervix anytime they wanted. Each time they checked, it would increase the chance of bacteria and infection in my system. So basically, it was up to me. They kept telling me to buzz them if I felt like I was going to have a bowel movement. Over and over they said this. I kept thinking that it was awfully weird that they were so concerned about my poop, but then I realized (after further instruction from my nurse) that when Jansen descends into the birth canal, it’ll feel like I have to poop. So really poop time is actually baby time.

Things were pretty easy at that point. Every few minutes my belly would tighten up. I’d hardly feel anything but a bit of movement but I would still try to guess if it was a big contraction or not. We had to make a lot of assumptions since we didn’t know how far I was. So we all just hung out and hoped for something to happen soon. At one point I could feel my epidural starting to wear off. Through a series of miscommunications, I got a double dose. My nurse was less than pleased, but I after I found out that it wasn’t going to kill me, I didn’t really mind the extra drugs.

Around 10:00 that night, my nurse came in and told me that I should try to get some rest. Whenever the time came, I’d need energy. I felt like saying, “Do you honestly think I can sleep at a time like this? Don’t you realize I’m about to have a baby??” But I didn’t. Instead I asked everyone to leave so that Stephen and I could close our eyes for a bit. There was a chair that pulled out into a twin bed, so Stephen put some sheets on it and laid down. I couldn’t move so I just laid where the nurse had left me and tried to clear my mind. We turned the lights down and tried to ignore the beeps and bum-bum, bum-bums from the monitors.

A few minutes went by and I heard Stephen’s breathing patterns change. He was resting up for the big moment.

February 24, 2011 at 7:09 am 16 comments

The Birth Story – Part 2

(Click here if you missed Part 1.)  

We went to the third floor and checked in. “Are you coming from your OB’s for the prenatal monitoring? Go take a seat in the waiting room, all of our beds are full right now so we’ll have to wait until one opens up.” So Stephen and I went to the waiting room and watched some chef prepare a 5 star meal on the local morning show. I got a bed at about 9:45 and they strapped two monitors to my belly. One to track my contractions and one to track my heartbeat. I thought the monitors were pretty interesting but I constantly felt like they were going to flip off of my giant belly.

I laid in bed with Stephen sitting in a small chair by my side listening to all the beeps around us. There were four beds in this room since it was just for these sorts of tests. All of the beds had curtains around them so you could feel a bit of privacy. The nurse came back about 15 minutes later and asked me if I had any contractions. I hadn’t. She went to read the screen with all the results. I don’t remember the nurses face or the color of her scrubs, but I will never forget the way she looked at the screen and then turned to me and said, “Umm, actually you have been having them every 3-4 minutes.”

Listen. I’ve never had a baby before but I know that every 3-4 minutes is a big deal. That’s grounds for calling your doctor and high-tailing it to the hospital. Well I was already at the hospital so we could go ahead and put a check in that box. The nurse decided to go call my doctor to give her the news and ask her what the next step was. While she was gone, Stephen and I did a whole lot of looking at each other and saying, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.” We really just had one main question: WHO HAS CONTRACTIONS AND DOESN’T KNOW IT?? I mean, I’ve always thought that because I have experienced so many migraines that I have a higher pain tolerance than many people, but not that high!

The nurse came back and said, “Well, I spoke to your doctor. Looks like you’re having a baby today!”

My eyes turned into saucers and my smile went from ear to ear. And if I’m going to be completely honest with you, the smile wasn’t from excitement, it was from nervousness. Nervous terror. I was just supposed to be going to the doctor. You know, a quick check with several it’s-getting-close’s from the nurses and OB. And now I’m in the hospital and you’re telling me that I’m going to have a baby… today? As in, this date? As in, 2.5 weeks early? NOW? 

The nurse checked me and I was now at 4 centimeters. (This was also the point in my life when I learned that there is a skill to checking someone’s cervix. My OB was so good at it that it never phased me. This chick? Not so much.) There was no need to rush me to a delivery room because there was still a lot of labor that needed to happen. It’s a good thing because every single delivery room was full. So our job was just to hang out and watch reruns of Home Improvement.

The nurse came back in to give me my IV and tell me about the strict “no eating or drinking” rule. It was about that time that I was cursing my bagel breakfast and wishing I had eaten 17 pancakes and a pound of bacon. I’d heard plenty of stories about people being in labor for upwards of 24 hours and the thought of no food until the next morning was giving me serious anxiety. (Remember, I was still pregnant at this point. The possibility of no food is a common fear in pregnant women.)

While I sat in my bed texting random people to tell them this new turn of events, Stephen stepped into the hall to call our parents. My parents were instructed to pick up our bag from our house and take care of our dog for the next couple days. We weren’t able to get in contact with his mom for a couple hours. She’d given us direction to call her cell phone when it was time. If she didn’t answer, we were to call the office. She’d told her office that she would be leaving work the instant she got the call. She works at a preschool and apparently the secretary didn’t think it was that important to get her. Or something. Not sure. The details are sketchy because honestly I didn’t care about anything besides the whole “looks like you’re having a baby today” thing.

Of course we told them all not to rush, that babies take their time. Do you think they listened? No. They all decided that they’d set up shop in the waiting room and sit tight until Jansen decided it was time to come. Since we didn’t have much real estate in that room (literally only had a bed and a small chair) they all had to come in one at a time to say hello. Throughout the next few hours, each of them came to keep me company and ask how I was doing. Remember that since I was still pregnant, I still had a pregnant woman’s bladder. So Stephen would have to help me out of bed and wheel my IV to the bathroom. It was all very awkward since I would have to try to hold the back of my gown closed while waddling and trying not to rip my IV out. (I have an irrational fear of IVs ripping out. It got better throughout the day, but at this point it was a pretty serious concern of mine.)  

By this time, I’d learned what a contraction feels like. I suppose they were getting stronger and that’s why I was able to feel them, plus I was laying still with nothing to do but concentrate on my stomach. Stephen would stand in front of the computer and watch the numbers (we didn’t know what they meant, but we knew that a change in numbers was likely a contraction). I would say, “Oh wait! I think this is one. Is it? Is it a contraction?” And he’d watch the numbers change, “Yeah! That’s a contraction! It’s still going, babe! You’re still having it!” It was a fun little game that would last several more hours.

Finally at 3:45 they wheeled me into a delivery room. It was much bigger and I was allowed to have 4 guests in there. That was nice since I enjoyed the company, plus I felt bad that they all had to wait out in the waiting room. (I literally JUST realized that they all had each other in the waiting room, so I was probably the most bored of everyone. I had only had one guest at a time. Hmm.) At this point the nurse checked me and I was still at 4 centimeters. The anesthesiologist came in to explain the process to me. (I knew I was going to get drugs even before I got pregnant. I know me. If I didn’t get drugs I would have been miserable, plus I would have given myself a migraine from the pain.) I didn’t really need to hear the details from him but I think they have to do that, although meeting him made me feel better about the whole sticking-a-needle-in-a-dangerous-place thing.

At this point, just about everyone had arrived. My parents, Stephen’s parents, Stephen’s sister from Fort Worth, and my sister. Stephen’s other sister came after work and my brother and SIL weren’t able to come. I think we were all pretty bored. Every now and then one of them would say something that showed how excited they were. I was nervous. And mostly bored. I watched several episodes of Cash Cab to try to keep my mind off things. Sort of like “a watched pot never boils”… a thought-about cervix never opens. Right?

We continued to play the contraction game. My dad was really into it. I’d tell them when a contraction came (they were much stronger now, but still not painful) and he and Stephen would run over to the machine to watch the numbers. “OH LOOK! This is a good one!” or “Man! What a weenie contraction!” Eventually he started trying to foresee the future. “Well you’ve had several strong ones recently, I think we’re getting somewhere.” It was a good way to pass time.

My OB came to check on me at about 5:40 that evening. There were several patients of hers in delivery rooms so she’d be hanging around for the rest of the night. She checked my cervix and I was “a good 4″ so she decided to break my water. I think she was ready to get the show on the road. I started having a panic attack. I had been at the hospital almost 9 hours and it was just hitting me that I was about to have a baby. Once your water is broken, there is no turning back. (Not that there was any turning back before that, you can’t exactly un-conceive a baby.)

For some reason I was terrified of her breaking my water. I think it was because I had read descriptions that said the doctor will take a long stick with a hook on the end and stick it in there to manually break the water. That was the scariest thing I had ever heard. All of my guests stepped out. I started sweating and begging Stephen to come hold my hand. My OB looked at me like I was a nut job, “It’s really no big deal, Chelsea. I promise. You won’t feel anything.” I tried to relax but I really just wanted to scream, “OF COURSE YOU’D SAY THAT. IT’S NO BIG DEAL TO YOU! YOU AREN’T ABOUT TO GET YOUR VAGINA STABBED WITH A GIANT CROCHET HOOK!”

But I kept my mouth shut and I’m certainly glad that I did because, well, she was right. It was no big deal. She broke my water and I’m sure that 17 gallons of liquid came pouring out of me. But I can’t remember that. I think I remember several towels. But mostly I just remember sitting there, wide-eyed, thinking, “This is it. I’m going to be a mom. I’m going to have a baby.”

(Part 3 coming tomorrow.)

February 23, 2011 at 7:14 am 18 comments

On Letting Yourself Go

I always heard about how moms let themselves go when they have kids. How they can’t seem to find the time to do things for themselves. You see it on What Not To Wear all the time. “I didn’t think about myself after I had kids. It was all about my kids. That’s why my jeans are 12 years old and my shoes have holes in the soles.”

Or maybe it isn’t clothes related at all. You’ve heard about the mom that never loses the baby weight because she drives thru McDonald’s on the way home from work every night. Frozen pizza is a much quicker option for her than a true home cooked meal.

And what’s the excuse? “I’m a mom! I work fulltime and I am also a fulltime mother. I don’t have time to cook! I can hardly keep up with laundry.” It just becomes instinctive for women to say, “I’m a mother. I don’t have time for myself.”

Please don’t hear what I’m not saying, y’all. I am NOT saying that we should be able to keep up with everything. But let me just say this: The “I don’t have time for myself” business? That is not entirely true.

I’d like to clear up any confusion. It’s not that moms don’t have time to do things for themselves, it’s that we choose other things. Yes I need to tend to my fingernails, shave my legs, write a decent blog post, and cook a well balanced meal. I need to vacuum my house and scrub my floors. I need to meal plan and cut some coupons. But, you know what? If I have a spare hour of time that isn’t spoken for, chances are I’m going to sleep or watch some television that makes me laugh.

We’ve been through my schedule before, right? Eight hours are spent at work, an additional hour and a half is spent on the commute. An hour is spent on getting ready in the morning. Three to four hours are spent pumping. Then there are bottles to wash, a baby to bathe, bills to pay, laundry to hang, etc. Sometime in there I feed myself and my husband and give my baby some love.

If we’re going to be completely honest, there is free time in there. I’m sure I could sit my baby down in his Bumbo with some toys while I load the dishwasher. But I don’t want to. I’m away from my baby all day so the moments I have with him at home are very valuable to me.

So excuse me if I don’t invite you over. It’s not personal. It’s just that my house is a disaster and I don’t want your judgement. (Even if you say you won’t judge me, you will. I judge me.) And I’m sorry if you invite me to dinner and I bring Jansen along. I emotionally cannot leave him any longer than absolutely necessary. And, unless you are also a working mother, I do not expect you to understand that, I just expect you to accept it.

Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom is harder. I know that being a stay at home mom is difficult work too, but it’s different. You will never know the pain of leaving your child in someone else’s care every single day. You will never know the frustration of knowing that you may miss your child’s first crawl, first word, first step.

And while it’s hard, it is so very worth it. I am blessed beyond measure and I will never take my life for granted. I have a beautiful baby boy. I have a husband and together we have the money to provide a home and food and life for our little family. Even if that food is purchased in the frozen food section and the house has dog hair tumbleweeds.

February 16, 2011 at 7:11 am 21 comments

Whirlwind

My life is caught up in a whirlwind right now. It’s not falling apart or anything, it’s just changing. Seriously y’all, I’m not kidding. Every single aspect of my life is going through a change. Some are minor adjustments but some are gigantic overhauls.

Most of the time I can cope just fine. It’s part of life, I remind myself. The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes, right?

Here’s the thing though, I don’t like change. Some of it is for the better and I’ll be thankful when I’m on the other side of it. Strike that: all of it is for the better. But these little growing pains are wearing my body out. I don’t want another Debbie Downer post, I think one per week is enough. I don’t want you to think I’m over here sulking and being all “woe is me” because, frankly, I’m not. I’m a rockstar and I’m powering through even though changes give me the heebie geebies. I even manage to genuinely smile all throughout the day.

Change can be a good thing and one day I’ll tell you a bit about it. Until then, just know that I’m soaking life in bit by bit. I’m finding the joy in all of it! Not like I have to look hard, have you SEEN my baby? Plus, I’m a Christian and you know what that means? It means I have hope. God knows what’s best and He’s going to work it all out according to His purpose, and His purpose is the best purpose. (And if I repeat that enough times, I’ll actually believe it… still working on that part!)

So my cute baby, my sexy husband with the fantastic smelling armpits, and I are going to huddle together and enjoy every moment of this crazy life. Because that’s the best we can do, right?

February 2, 2011 at 7:15 am 8 comments

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