Thursday, November 16, 2017

Vienna's Birth Story

I woke up around 3 am Tuesday morning with some cramping.  It was a constant dull ache and reminded me of the cramps I'd feel during my period.  I put a hypnosis track on and went back to sleep.  I woke up Tuesday morning and still had the cramps but wasn't sure if it was really going to progress into anything or not.  I worked from home and told my boss that things might be getting started.  At some point during the day, the cramping became less constant and turned into waves (aka contractions).

Around 6 pm, I believe I lost my mucus plug and I texted my doula Keli that my waves had been building in intensity but they were still not unbearable.  I ate a big 1200 calorie pot pie from the freezer for dinner which would end up being my last meal before delivery.  We timed the contractions around 8 and they were super inconsistent and I was still talking through them.  Keli said to try and get some sleep, so we went to bed around 10 pm.  I was feeling excited, but still wasn't sure if the waves would taper off and this would end up being a practice run.

I think I got some sleep but not really and around 1 am I got out of bed to labor around the house.  I was leaning over my birthing ball and timed them again for about an hour.  They were lasting over a minute but still very inconsistent coming between 4 and 7 minutes.  Around 2:30, I wanted to take a bath and then found out our tub doesn't hold water, epic fail.  I got in the shower and the hot water felt great on my back and belly.  Getting out really sucked and I spent some time hanging out on the bathroom floor.  Finally at 3:30 I woke Dave up for some support.

Dave timed my waves and they were over a minute long but still coming very inconsistently between 2 and 7 minutes and I was drifting off to sleep between waves.  Dave texted Keli at 5 am with an update and I believe I spoke on the phone with her at this time.  It's all kind of hazy looking back!  I think she recommended I eat something, knowing that I would need the energy later.  I got out of bed around 7 and tried to eat a banana.  I got halfway through and immediately threw it up.  Dave kept offering me Gatorade, which I would drink sips of periodically, to get some extra calories in.  Keli suggested another shower, so I got in for a little while, but soon got out and headed back to labor in bed on my side.

At 9:15 am I was struggling.  I was having trouble dealing with the waves and we were thinking maybe it was time to go to the hospital.  Thank goodness I had a doula!  I spoke on the phone with Keli so she could hear what I sounded like through my waves.  I was moaning through them a bit and trying my best to breathe and use my peace cue.  She was very assuring, reminded me to actually use my hypnosis tracks (which Dave was suggesting and I was apparently rejecting), and we stayed put.

Keli arrived at the house at 11:20 and according to Dave my whole demeanor changed.  Having her there made me feel safe and relaxed.  She just kept telling me that everything I was experiencing was normal and I finally committed to listening to my hypnobabies tracks.  I labored in bed for a while falling asleep between waves.  They were coming every 7 minutes and lasting over a minute, and sometimes even coming back to back.  Mela laid at my feet the whole time.

At some point we moved from the bedroom down to the living room.  I was switching between leaning over the ottoman and my birth ball, lounging in the chair, and laying on the floor.  I kept switching between being really warm and then suddenly wanting to be wrapped up in a blanket.  Dave, Keli, and Mela were all hanging out on the floor with me.  I had to focus during my waves, but in between we were all chatting. The hypnosis tracks were so helpful and I remember feeling like they were timed perfectly for me and saying just what I needed to hear.  Keli and Dave both kept urging me to put my headphones back in whenever I'd ditch them.

Around 5:15 pm we moved downstairs into the family room.  I was standing and swaying through my waves and I remember saying out loud "it huuurts" and "this sucks!" Keli kept reminding me that I was doing it and Dave kept offering Gatorade and water and a Clif Bar, which I managed to eat half of over a span of hours.  At this point we started talking about going to the hospital.  My goal was to try and wait as long as possible, ideally to get there when I was already 8 cm or more dilated and almost ready to push, since the less time I spent in the hospital the less likely I would be to receive intervention.  Keli suggested waiting a little longer, but also mentioned that if we went to the hospital it didn't mean that we necessarily had to check in right away.  We could walk around outside or hang out in the lobby.

I held off for as long as I could and even fell asleep between some more waves on the couch before we finally left for the hospital a little after 6.  The 10 minute drive wasn't too horrible, except when we drove through the construction right near the Paoli train station.  The road was so bumpy and it was awful!  When we arrived Keli was waiting for us, so Dave could drop me off with her and he could go park.  Immediately upon getting out of the truck my water broke!  I was excited and knew this could speed things along and Dave was super happy it didn't happen in his new toy.  I waddled to the bathroom with fluid running down my legs and was glad I had some adult diapers in my hospital bag.  My waves were pretty intense, but I decided that hanging out in the lobby sounded good and a woman was playing Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah on the piano.  I laid across a couch with my hypnotracks in one ear, enjoying the piano with my other and tried to breathe through each wave without moaning too loud and making a scene.

At 7:15 a nurse came down to the lobby to ask if I was the 7:30 induction, nope!!!!  At some point another nurse came down to urge us to check in to the maternity unit and I said no thank you.  Keli's notes said that I was birthing so calmly it looked like I was asleep.  The waves were super strong, but I just kept breathing through them.  Around 8 pm I decided it was time!

We headed up to labor and delivery and checking in sucked.  I was already preregistered, but standing there for even a short bit of time was awful.  I had to sign a few things and I just remember scribbling something that barely resembled my signature on each one.  At 8:22 pm we arrived in the birthing room and I immediately threw up.  I changed into the hospital gown and they started checking my blood pressure and monitoring the baby.  My birth plan called for intermittent monitoring but apparently the baby's heart rate wasn't consistent and I had high blood pressure, so suddenly I was stuck with the blood pressure cuff strangling my arm every few minutes and super tight straps across my belly.  At first I didn't realize that I was now on board for constant monitoring and I kept asking the nurse when the straps on my belly were coming off.  They were so tight and I was so annoyed by them.  Keli didn't seem super concerned with the blood pressure numbers or the baby's heart rate and we kept asking the nurse if it would be possible for me to get a break and labor in the shower for a short period of time, but she said no.

At 9 pm I was checked for the first time and thankfully part of my birth plan was not to hear the numbers, because after laboring for over 24 hours... I was only 4 or 5 cm dilated, 70% effaced, and at a -1 station.  I would've been so defeated!  And thank God we didn't head to the hospital any earlier (like at 9 am when we originally wanted to go) because I definitely would've been sent home or I would've gotten stuck at the hospital for hours "failing to progress" and probably ending up with pitocin.  I was also super glad I denied any cervical checks during my OB appointments because they were terrible.  It felt like the nurse stuck her whole hand inside of me and twirled it around.  And laying flat on my back was my least favorite position.  I was still mostly laboring on my side at this point, every time I tried a different position, kneeling over the back of the bed, standing, sitting on the birth ball, I vetoed it quickly.

Around 9:50 pm I felt a ton of pressure in my bottom and started to feel like I needed to push.  I felt like I wanted to poop the baby out, but without telling me how undilated I was the nurse just said that I was not allowed to push and to breath the contractions away.  This felt impossible.

At 11:15 pm I was checked again and still didn't want to know my numbers.  I was now at 8 cm, 90% effaced, and at a +1.  Keli told me I was getting close and was very excited about the positive change.  The waves were getting stronger and stronger and I felt like I was pushing with each one, even though I was not supposed to be.  It was super frustrating that I was forced to deny my natural urges.  On top of that, my blood pressure was still high so they wanted a urine sample to make sure I didn't have preeclampsia, but I could not pee!  The baby's head was so low that peeing was impossible.  I went to the bathroom at least three different times, desperately trying to pee, but I just couldn't.  I'm pretty sure I pooped a little in front of Dave at this point but I was way beyond the point of embarrassment, I was just trying to hang in there with my waves.  At 11:55 pm, the nurse put in a catheter and drained my bladder, which was uncomfortable but I was glad to have it done and my urine sample came back negative for preeclampsia.

I was still fighting through every wave by trying not to push, but it was pretty inevitable.  Looking back I know I was pushing my baby down into the right position.  At 12:30 I was considering getting checked again and Keli kept urging me to just wait a little while longer (to avoid the disappointment of not being complete).  Finally I decided I didn't care, I needed to know where I was at and wanted to be checked again.  At 12:58 pm, I was finally at 10 cm!  And the baby was at a +2 station, so she was super low.  At this point my blood pressure was also deemed normal, so I avoided the medication they were considering.

I started pushing at 1:18 am.  I decided I wanted to push on my knees leaning over the back of the bed, since that position made me feel super pushy while I was laboring.  I remember feeling kind of frustrated that my waves had slowed down, but Keli pointed out that this was a positive thing because I had time to rest.  It felt good to push with each wave, whatever felt right to me, and I was smiling between pushes.

Eventually the baby's head was getting low and the doctor finally came in.  They asked me if I wanted to reach around and feel her head, but I wasn't into it at all.  The OB at the time was someone I met once, I barely remembered her.  When she came in, she informed that I needed to turn and that I was going to birth my baby on my back.  I was pissed.  I did not want to be in that position but she insisted that it was the only way she could support my perineum.  I'm calling bullshit because I'm pretty sure that the position I was in put my perineum directly in her face and really she just wanted to do things how she's used to doing them.  We were told after the fact that 90% of the births at Paoli are done with epidurals, so I'm guessing she hasn't done many deliveries in alternate positions.  I just kept pushing on my knees and giving Keli a look that said please help me!  Her solution was to suggest pushing on my side with one leg up.  I still wasn't sold, but the staff kept urging me to turn so finally I flipped over onto my side.

I hated it.  It was way more uncomfortable and when I expressed that sentiment my OB said "you're having a natural birth, it's going to be uncomfortable."  The OB had her fingers inside of me to help things stretch which I also hated and I think I pushed her hands away at some point.  Everything was pretty hazy during this part.  I had wanted to do "mother directed pushing" like I was doing in the beginning, but when the doctor came in I just remember them telling me when to push and saying I needed to get her out!  I know the cord was around her neck, but again I'm not sure if all the urgency was medically necessary at this time or if the doctor just wanted to get things over with.  Pushing her head out was super painful, but I just kept going and felt very strong.

Finally I felt a change and asked "what was that?!" and they informed me that her head was out!  After 41 minutes of pushing, I pushed one more time and at 1:59 am Vienna Edythe Midgley was born!  They unwrapped the cord and I flipped over and they put her on my chest.  They suctioned her mouth and she cried the sweetest newborn cries.  I was in shock!  I just kept saying "oh my God!" over and over.  It was such a surreal moment.

Dave cut the cord!  A few minutes later I delivered the placenta, I think I pushed a little to help but it didn't take much for it to come out.  I felt pretty raw post birth, but I wasn't in severe pain down there and I was completely distracted by the amazing new human on my chest.  I wanted to know if I had torn or not and made a joke to the doctor about not wanting any extra stitches for Dave's enjoyment.  She didn't find my joke funny but Keli had a good laugh.  The OB said I barely tore and she could do some stitches or skip it and I told her to do whatever she thought was best.  I ended up with one stitch in the front and one in the back.  I was still stuck with the blood pressure cuff and they decided to give me some blood pressure medication (my blood pressure was completely normal every time after that).  They gave us a full hour of skin to skin with the baby before they did her measurements.  She weighed in at 8 lbs 2 oz and measured at 21.25".  Everyone immediately noticed her super long fingers and toes and I said it was the Nowak in her!  We couldn't believe she actually came on her due date!

I honestly still can't believe I did it and that she's here.  I am convinced that the techniques I learned from Hypnobabies were key for me to be able to relax through such a long intense process.  I also think that working out, being adjusted by a chiropractor, and spending a lot of time sitting on a birth ball (helping baby get into the right position) were all factors in my successful birth. And I absolutely know that I couldn't have done it without such a supportive team.  Having a doula was totally worth it and I would recommend it to every single expecting mother.  It felt great to have someone that was so experienced and natural minded in our corner.  And Keli was more than just our birth coach.  I'm not sure you can go through such a life changing moment with someone and not feel a special connection with them.

And I cannot say enough wonderful things about my husband.  Dave was such an amazing birth partner and was my rock through my entire labor.  If he was nervous at any point during the process, he did a great job hiding it from me.  He was confident and supportive and did anything he could to help make me comfortable.  And he transitioned so smoothly into his new role as Daddy.  He basically changed all the diapers in the hospital, assisted every time we attempted to nurse, cleaned and set up all the pump parts, and did every single thing to make sure we were taken care of.  Vienna and I are so lucky.
I am extremely proud of my birth and I will never forget this amazing experience that made me a mother.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Vienna Edythe

Vienna Edythe was born at 1:59 on her due date Thursday, September 28th.  She was 8 lbs 2 oz and 21.25" long.  She has super long fingers and toes just like her Aunt Michelle and her Dziadzi (aka the polish word for grandpa that my dad is going by, pronounced jah-jee).  She loves to have her hands up by her face and will use her little fists to box my boobs while I'm trying to feed her.  She's always  pursing her lips into the cutest pouty face and makes lots of funny grunting noises.

I'll definitely be writing a full birth story post, but the short version is that I labored at home for 24 hours, had to fight the urge to push for almost 5 hours while I was in the hospital waiting to be fully dilated, and then pushed for 41 minutes... all without even considering getting an epidural.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but also the most rewarding.  Dave was an amazing birth partner and I definitely couldn't have done it without my amazing doula Keli!

It has been 8 days now and it feels like she's been here for months.  We were discharged from the hospital on Saturday afternoon and the days have been filled with breastfeeding, snuggles, and trying to sneak in as much sleep as we can, plus lots of visitors bearing food and gifts.

Knock on wood, I think we ended up with a pretty easy baby!  She is a sleeping pro and rarely fusses for more than a few moments... other than around 4 am.  She still has her days and nights confused and our biggest struggle is actually waking her up to feed during the day.  Breastfeeding wasn't going that great in the hospital, so I started pumping from day 1 to give her bottles when she can't be bothered to nurse.  I think all that pumping is the source of my awesome milk supply.  I've already started my freezer stash for when she heads to daycare in January.

I've been trying to get this post together for the past 3 days... so here comes a photo dump and hopefully I'll get to post again soon!



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Pregnancy: 39 Weeks

So I officially packed my hospital bag... well bags, plural!  I honestly tried to pack relatively light but I'd rather have everything I could need with me than bring the bare minimum and be annoyed that I don't have what I want.  I have one bag with all my and baby's stuff, then another bag of snacks, the L&D nurse basket, gatorade, and some odds and ends, like a folder for paperwork, an extension cord, etc. and then there's a trash bag with a pillow for me and my nursing pillow.  So 3 bags and a birthing ball... Dave should be able to carry all that in one trip right?!  lol.

I hit the gym on Friday morning for the Bergeron Open Test.

Last time I did it was in January and I had my sights on a big PR... then my jump rope broke in the middle of the dubs and I was pissed.  I was much more relaxed this time!  My modifications included using a 10# wallball, I did 10 calories on the assault bike instead of dubs, I stepped up to a smaller box, I did 40 incline barbell push ups instead of T2B, I did 15 regular pull ups (!), 15 squat thrusts, and I used 55# for the power cleans.  In the 20 minutes I got through 18 of the power cleans.  I probably could've repped out 30 pull ups, but they were taking forever and I didn't want to spend the last 5 minutes of the workout just doing 1 pull up at a time.  I was feeling the squat thrusts in my abs, which hadn't been a thing for me in the past, so I figured 15 of them was plenty as well.

On Saturday Dave and I cleaned the house a bit.  We're trying to keep it super tidy so it will be clean whenever baby comes.  Dave vacuumed the entire house!  I did odds and ends, but found myself on my hands and knees scrubbing the floorboards of our one set of steps at one point.  The need to nest is real haha.

In the afternoon we checked out the Pierogi Festival that was happening at a church in Phoenixville.  I was debating all morning if I actually wanted to leave the house, but the homemade pierogies were totally worth it!

Other stuff:
  • I think I'm done getting a good night's sleep.  Womp womp.  Getting up to use the bathroom isn't terrible, but it's when I can't fall back asleep afterwards that really sucks.  I've been listening to my hypnosis tracks to go to sleep, but now I've been doing them in the middle of the night to try and help me drift off again.  Sometimes it works great and other times I'm just awake and annoyed.
  • I'm definitely uncomfortable.  I'm still walking fairly normal for the most part, but getting comfy on the couch isn't a thing unless I'm full out laying down.  I've been spending a lot of time leaning forward on my birth ball or sitting on it and bouncing around or just sitting on the floor indian style or in a butterfly position.  All of those positions are supposed to be good for getting the baby into the right position and they feel good anyway, so it's a win win.  I'm so happy that I'm working from home now!  Mela is too.
  • My hands have been achy for a while and the internet says carpal tunnel is common in pregnancy, but my hands suck lately.  When I wake up, I can barely bend my fingers into a fist and it's pretty painful.
  • I've had some cramping over the past few days, but nothing that seemed noteworthy.  I'll feel some somewhat painful tightening in my uterus like once or twice and then nothing the rest of the day.  The baby is still sitting super high.
So I wrote that last bullet during the day Monday and then early this morning around 3 am, I woke up feeling crampy.  It didn't think it was Braxton Hicks or waves (aka contractions in Hypnobabies language) because it was pretty constant and it didn't have a tightening feeling to it.  I put on a hypnosis track and was able to sleep on and off, but the cramping was still a thing when I woke up at 7. 

I continued to feel some action throughout the day and at some point in the afternoon, the cramping turned into what I officially deemed early birthing waves.  I've been in touch with my doula all day and she's excited but told me to try and get some rest unless things really pick up.  They haven't been consistent yet so this could be my early birthing time or they could fizzle out and just be a practice run.  Either way I think its safe to say I'm not heading to CrossFit at 6 am haha!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Pregnancy: Week 38

I always figured I'd stop working out at some point near the end of my pregnancy... but maybe not?  I still feel good in the gym and although I'm modifying a lot, I could be doing less and still getting a workout, so it seems silly to stop completely.  I think working out has been a huge factor in how good I have felt throughout my pregnancy and especially now at the end.

For this Friday workout I did 10 calories on the bike instead of the run, I used the 10# WB instead of the 14, I did 10/8/6 pull ups instead of 21/15/9, I did the thrusters with 10# dumbbells, and I did 15/9/6 barbell incline push ups instead of the 9/6/3 HSPUs.  I finished in 23:10.

On Friday night Dave and I went out for a nice dinner date at Sage in Phoenixville.  I decided we were having the "mixed combo" appetizer before we even got there and it was so good.  It came with tabouleh salad, hummus, kafta (meat on a stick), goat cheese, stuffed grape leaves, tahini sauce, and super delicious falafel that I'm still dreaming of.  We ordered two entrees to share: veal saltimbocca (thin slices of veal with prosciutto and mozz in a marsala red wine sauce) and linguini pescatore (linguine topped with shrimp, clams, mussels, and lump crab meat smothered in a white garlic sauce).  The veal dish was fine but didn't wow us, but the sauteed veggies that came with it were actually awesome.  But the real star of the meal was the pasta!  The bowl was gigantic and filled to the brim with tons of seafood and garlicky goodness.  The waitress told us she was very impressed when we finished the whole thing minus some pasta.  We figured go big or go home because who reheats shellfish?  The service was great and between the BYO status and our gift card it was a super affordable date night.

On Saturday night I think I had my first practice waves (aka Braxton Hicks)!  Dave was in the city for a bachelor party and we had a loose plan in place in case I suddenly went into labor, but I was positive it wouldn't be necessary.  I had Jeff and Arley over to watch the Penn State game and keep me company for the evening and the whole night was uneventful until they left.  Around 11 pm I started feeling pretty lousy and was really nauseous.  I wanted to go to bed, but laying down didn't feel great so I stayed up watching Easy A and taking lots of trips to the bathroom.  I finally threw up a little which took the edge off my nausea and I went to bed around 1 am.  When I laid down I started feeling some cramping at the bottom of my belly!  It was pretty mild and just a little uncomfortable so I didn't think it was the real deal but it was definitely something I hadn't felt before!  I put on one of my hypnosis tracks and just tried to relax (and not think of the fact that Dave still wasn't home and hadn't answered my last text...) and within 20 minutes I was asleep.  I woke up later in the night with awful heartburn fire throat, but I woke up the next day feeling totally fine.  I haven't had any cramping/possible contractions since then.

I had my weekly OB appointment on Tuesday and it was super uneventful.  The doctor confirmed that the baby is still head down but her head is pretty high, which is what I suspected.  My due date may be 9/28, but I'm fully expecting an October baby.

I worked out this morning.  I still find it humorous that lifting weights feels better than walking around my office.  I skipped back squats and did some power snatching and got up to 70#.  It was definitely feeling heavier today.  The WOD was 30 Curtis Ps (clean, lunge L, lunge R, push press) for time.  Cleans and push press still feel good with the barbell, but I knew I didn't want to lunge, so I subbed those for 10# dumbbell squats.  I broke it up into 10 rounds of 3 cleans and push presses at 55# + 6 DB squats and finished in 10:04.

Other things:
  • I still don't have any stretch marks.  I feel like it's a pregnancy miracle, but I'm also still expecting them to show up right at the end as a cruel joke.
  • Friday is my last day in the office, I am so excited to work from home in my pjs!
  • I still haven't actually packed my hospital bag yet.  95% of the items are laid out on our spare bed, but I still have yet to put them in a bag... maybe after I publish this post haha.  Here's a little snack basket I made as a thank you for the L&D nurses.

Anybody that knows me, knows that patience isn't exactly my forte, but I'm really trying to just relax.  In my birth class we learned that the average first time mom births at 41 weeks and 1 day.  So there's only 8 days till my due date, but really it could be double that.  Baby will come when she's ready!

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