Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Weeks Old

Today Ethan hit a milestone-- two weeks old! He was weighed at our nursing appointment, and has gone up to 6 lbs. 13 ounces. It's not where they wanted him to be at two weeks, which is at his birth weight (7 lbs 2 oz), but at least he's headed in the right direction. We think he might be having a little growth spurt right now, too, because he has been guzzling down milk to the point where we have to supplement with formula just to satisfy his hunger. He started off last week with 1-2 ounces per feeding, and eight feedings per day. Since this weekend, he's been gobbling up 2.5-4 ounces per feeding, and sometimes eats 9-10 times a day. Yikes! On the one hand, yahoo! Eat up, boy! On the other hand, mom needs some sleep, kid! Which is why we have a daddy around, I guess...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baby Stuff: Love, Hate, Want

Now that we are new parents, we are starting to get a feel for what we like and what we don't like in regards to baby supplies and strategies. Here is the beginning of a list of what has/hasn't worked for us:

-- Newborn diapers with an indicator stripe that changes from yellow to green when moisture hits it. Makes diaper checking so much easier, because you don't have to open the diaper or stick your finger in to check for wetness! Huggies "Gentle Care" Newborn diapers are what we've been using; found them at Target.
-- Stroller Frame that fits infant carseats: Several manufacturers make these (Graco Snugrider, Kolcraft Universal, etc.), and they are awesome-- very lightweight, easily fold up and store (only a few inches tall when folded), and the perfect item for a mom who is dealing with post-surgery pains and has a hard time lifting those giant seat & stroller systems.
-- Kimono-style onesies: These are great because they don't need to be pulled over baby's head, they just snap around him. Pulling shirts/onesies on over a newborn's floppy neck is a heart attack waiting to happen, because the whole time you're convinced you're going to paralyze him, so these help you avoid that problem. Ours also had the folding "mittens" at the end of each sleeve to help baby avoid scratching his face.
-- Zippered footie sleepers: Again, zippers help avoid the whole snap on/snap off deal. Very convenient, and the fleecey ones are perfect for winter babies.
-- Cucumber-green tea baby wipes, by Huggies. Our absolute fave! They smell delicious, stay nice and moist, and come in an awesome "pop-up" box. Our sister & brother-in-law just brought us a giant pack from Costco, and it's a lifesaver because we go through them like there's no tomorrow. (PS-- Also very useful for the bathroom, kitchen, car, etc.)
-- For winter babies, long-sleeved/long-legged outfits that convert from "pants" style to "sack" style. For this outfit, you can either button the legs separately and then put socks on baby, or button the legs together in front and back to make a sack-style outfit. The sack is nice for diaper changes, because you just slide it up his body when the time comes, no snapping/unsnapping necessary.
-- Boppy pillow for feeding: This thing is a lifesaver. Sure, you could use a couch or bed pillow, but the Boppy is contoured to fit around your body better, and is a bit firmer to help keep baby propped up correctly for feeding.
-- Footstool for feeding: Again, your knees need to be lifted up a bit higher to prop up baby closer for feeding. A short footstool is perfect.
-- Nuk bottles. We tried several bottles, but for these first few weeks, the Nuk works best for us. Later we may go over to the Playtex bottles with liners, but the Nuk is the only one he can drink from right now without spilling out milk everywhere or losing his latch on the nipple. (Bought from Wal-mart, the only place we could find them.)
-- The small-size diaper bag. Perfect for short visits to the store or mall, when you don't need to carry around a million items. Save the big bags for day-trips or weekend visits, they're way too bulky to deal with on a daily basis.
-- Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker: There’s a foldout kickstand that allows you to stabilize the seat for feeding or sleeping, and then you can tuck it back underneath to use as a rocker. It has a vibration mode and a detachable toy ring with musical pull toy included. Later, when he's a toddler, it can be used as a rocking chair. Pretty cool-- we are using it a lot lately when we need some hands-free time.

-- Onesies or shirts that have to slip over his head. As a newborn, at least; dealing with that floppy neck is a nightmare, so we avoid it as much as possible.
-- Bibs with cute designs, but no absorbency: Better to use a terry-cloth type bib, or a small hand-towel/washcloth tucked around his neck. Those will have much better absorbency and won't let the milk (or spit-up) slide right off the surface and down across you and baby.
-- Socks for newborns: They just don't stay on! The best kind have a significant amount of elastic, but even those aren't staying on our boy's little ankles.

-- Our own Medela electric double-sided breast pump: We are renting one from the hospital for now, and love it. Wish we could afford our own, but those buggers are expensive! I hadn't planned on having to pump so much, but since Ethan is having a tough time latching on and breastfeeding, we are pumping 8 times a day and feeding him that milk. That much pumping means you really need a top-quality pump at home. Best idea is to rent one from the hospital and then see if you're going to need it; ours is $20/week to rent it from Memorial, which is better than spending $280 for your own pump before you know if you'll need it that much or that often.
-- Baby Bjorn or other infant carrier: We love to keep him next to us, but want to be able to do some hands-on activities at the same time. A carrier would be nice, especially because that carseat gets pretty darn heavy after awhile. I'm glad we waited until after he was born, though, because I think it's important to be able to "try out" the carrier first, with baby inside, before making such a purchase. We plan on going to the second-hand children's stores to check out which type we like best before buying.
-- More sleep! The most difficult part of all of this has been lack of sleep. The most helpful gift someone could give new parents is to come over and help out during the day sometime to give them a break-- do some dishes, help with laundry, clean up a bit, maybe take on one bottle feeding (with mom's milk, if possible) during the day to give mom a break and a chance to sleep for at least 3-4 hours straight through... Sleep is the most precious commodity during those first few weeks, and any way you could help give new parents a couple of hours at a time, you would be doing them the biggest favor possible!
-- Massage for mom or dad. The upper back/neck gets sooo sore from feeding baby and bending over so much. We think this would be an awesome baby shower gift for a new parent!

That's all I could think of so far. I'm sure I'll come up with more things as we go along, and I'll add it as we go.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ethan's First Doctor Visit

I took him in to meet his Pediatrician, Dr. Truscello, today. He measured well, and then the minute I got him onto the doctor’s table to change him, he decided to baptize the area. And boy, can he store a lot of liquid in that body! I was so embarrassed, and felt totally unprepared—even with my diaper bag, I felt like I needed an extra 2 or 3 hands to get everything taken care of correctly. Luckily, the doctor was running a bit late, so I had time to do a hasty clean-up before she arrived. At least the baby wasn’t dripping wet for his first meeting with the doc! She seemed very nice, and concerned about all of the troubles I’d been experiencing. And then she did his exam, and started saying “Hmm…” while staring at and gently stroking his chest/rib cage.

I started to get a little nervous. She says “Did anyone order a chest x-ray in the hospital?” My heart dropped. I said no, and she pointed out that his chest area seems a bit smaller than it should be; I agree, it seems small—he looks like a little Ethiopian baby, with this tiny rib cage and full belly area. I thought it was just how babies look sometimes, though. Apparently not. She ordered a chest x-ray and asked me to go over and get it done immediately after leaving her office. Good lord, anything else?? Um, yes. She also takes a look at his face and says “Maybe part of the reason he’s been having trouble latching on while breastfeeding is because he has a slightly recessed jaw.” Oy. I mean, I have a definite overbite, but a recessed jaw? I thought it looked pretty normal, but then she *is* a pediatrician…

Anyway, I took him in for the x-ray, trying not to let my mind race around the possibilities (a disorder? a genetic condition? Problems with his internal organs?), and they told me they’d get the results by Wednesday. Oh, good! Only one whole day and night to think about what could be going wrong with my brand new baby… In my stupidity, I went online and looked up information about babies born with narrow chests; wow, was that a mistake. All it does is give a worrying mind more ammo for their neurotic anxieties. It’s like having a DSM-IV or a Physician’s Desk Reference around; you’re bound to find a diagnosis to fit almost any symptom you have, which just makes it all seem even worse than it is. Well, the next morning I was feeding Ethan when the answering machine picked up a phone call from my doctor’s office. She said that the x-ray did not pick up any abnormalities, and that he looked great, and wished us all a happy Christmas. I just started crying and crying, so happy that his x-rays turned out good and that we can stop worrying about it. I said some prayers of gratitude and kissed him all over. Hey, I have to shower him with affection while I can, before he grows up and turns into one of those kids who says “Come on, mom, quit it!” whenever I try to love on him.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Naming the Baby…

After the baby was born, we had to come up with a name. It took a few days, but we managed to decide on Ethan Noel. Ethan had been one of Joel’s favorite names, but I had been reluctant to use it because of its poularity—I didn’t want our son to be the 9th Ethan in his class. We were actually going back and forth between Colin and Isaac for a long time,and I thought we had settled on Isaac Cruz just before we went in to the hospital. But then I mentioned that someone said we should name him with the intials EZE, and Joel was hooked. In the hospital, it came down to run-off between ICE (Isaac Cruz) and EZE (Ethan Zachary)... but I couldn’t do it. I thought it was cute to have a fun name, but not so much for a real name. I didn’t want to be one of those annoying parents who names their kid something “funny” or “cute” and it ends up with both the kid and the parents regretting it.

Anyway, we debated about it back and forth several times, and even filled out the birth certificate with "Ethan Zachary", but when I thought about turning it in, I just couldn't let it go. We ended up choosing Noel, which was one of our original favorite middle names, partly because I really liked the way it sounded paired with Ethan, and partly because Christmas was so near, and partly because it is similar to Joel—his daddy’s name. (Both are pronounced similarly; Jo-el, No-el). And he is truly our miracle baby, and the best Christmas gift I could have ever received, so it all comes together rather nicely, I think. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Baby Feeding Attempts

The first few days after Ethan’s birth were a bit of a blur. We were in the hospital from Monday morning through Thursday evening, partially because I was having so much pain from the surgery and wasn’t walking as easily as they wanted, but mainly because Ethan wasn’t doing so hot. Like a lot of “early” babies, he doesn’t quite have the feeding reflexes down yet. He had a really hard time opening up his mouth at first; he would just clench his gums together until forced to open them. Then, he would arch his tongue up to the roof of his mouth, which makes feeding basically impossible. Breastfeeding was definitely not working… the nurses would end up taking him to the nursery to feed him, giving him formula using a variety of methods (through a tube taped to the fingertip, by cup, by bottle, etc.).

It was the most stressful scenario I could imagine; trying to feed the baby while nurses are basically forcing his head onto me in an attempt to get him to latch; knowing I wasn’t able to give him sustenance; hearing every day that he was losing too much weight and appeared to be getting dehydrated; and all while trying to recover from the surgery. It was too much! Joel and I were both stressing out, and trying our best not to take it out on each other. I felt like I had already missed out on labor and delivery, and now it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed, either. Both of us were getting tired of trying with no results, and just wanted him to get food inside him, even if it meant we would be using formula and bottles from this day forward. It didn’t matter, as long as he was getting what he needed to be healthy.

But, a week later, he seems to be doing much better. We went to several appointments with the lactation nurses at the breastfeeding consultation center near Memorial, and he’s starting to get the hang of feeding. It helps that my milk finally came in, and he has an easier time with that than with the colostrum. I’ve also been using the Medela double-pump that we rented from the hospital, in order to build up milk for use in those middle of the night feedings. We feed him from me first, then from stored milk, and then as a last resort have Enfamil formula in case we need it. For now, he appears to be starting to gain weight, finally—at his doctor appointment on Tuesday 12/23, he had gone up to 6.9 lb—so apparently we’re on the right track!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ethan's Birth Story: December 15, 2008

Part 1: The Beginning…

On Monday, December 15th, I was feeling a bit yucky and decided to take a nice, warm shower at around 10:15 to try to feel better. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up feeling better, because halfway through my shower I noticed vivid red blood streaming down and swirling inside the tub. My heart dropped—more bleeding? Again?? And this time, it seemed worse, somehow—it just wouldn’t stop, and it was much scarier. We hurriedly called the Family Birthing Center and drove over to get checked out. To keep my mind busy, I was thinking of a few totally off-topic and trivial things—like, “Man, I didn’t get a chance to do my hair before we left home” and “The ground beef that just defrosted in the fridge will need to be cooked soon” and so on. We even sent Joel out to go pay a bill and drop off a check just a few minutes after I got admitted to the Birthing Center, which shows either how much denial we were in, or how much we were buying the doctor’s usual “this is a totally typical pregnancy!” spiel.

Once I got admitted, the nurses noticed that I was still bleeding quite a bit, and called my doctor to come check things out. He finally arrived at around 12:30 and did a pelvic exam. He could feel the cervix finally dilating, but also noticed that the placenta was covering the cervix—unless it was a large blood clot, of course. Oh, great! From bad to worse. He could also feel the baby’s head, but was concerned about the amount of blood I was losing and the fact that the placenta was apparently detaching (Placental Abruption). He felt that inducing labor and attempting a vaginal delivery could be dangerous, so he said he wanted to do a C-Section instead just to be safe. I agreed, so he looked at the nurse and asks “How soon can we get her in; is 1:30 okay?” At this point, by the way, it’s 1:00 p.m. The anesthesiologist wasn’t free until 2:00 p.m., so he agreed to wait until 2:00 for the surgery. Considering that it took them half an hour to get me prepped for surgery, I started to get a sense of urgency about this whole situation. That’s because, as I found out later, it was considered an emergency C-section.

I was so overwhelmed with how suddenly things were happening… and all while my husband is out paying bills! My brain felt incapable of processing what was going on. I called Joel and told him to hurry back, then made a few phone calls and sent some texts to update the “phone tree” and let everyone know what was going on. And then I cried. This was not part of the plan!

Plan or not, they prepped us for the C-section. I got a lovely blue cap for my hair, an IV (hey, this one didn’t blow a vein, at least!), and then they took me in for the epidural… yowza. They laid me down on a surgical bed with my arms angled out from my body, like a maternity crucifix, or something equally strange… The epidural let me have the sensations of pressure and movement without feeling pain, which was somewhat like getting dental work done while numbed up—uncomfortable, lots of pressure, thoughts of “Oh my god what are they digging for in there”, etc. And then, after what seemed like forever but was only 12 minutes later, I heard it—the sound of my baby boy, crying loud and clear. The tears started immediately, just knowing he was safe and sound and finally here with us… I was smiling and crying, and then crying while I was smiling, and then laughing and crying… what an overwhelming moment. I knew I would lose it when I heard his voice! Joel was there the whole time, comforting me and taking pictures and video when he could; he was much more involved than I’d expected. He even cut the cord, which I never thought would happen. I was so proud of him for stepping up and being a great support, right from the beginning. I knew he was going to be a great dad, but that he would be such an awesome partner in this adventure was an added blessing.

Part 2: Placental Abruption…

Just after the C-Section, I heard the doctor telling a nurse that it was definitely a placental abruption—a chronic abruption. The next morning, in a haze of pain and meds and lack of sleep, I asked him about it. He confirmed that the placental abruption appeared to have been happening for some time now. The placenta had apparently been tearing away from the uterus little by little; when that happens, it causes bleeding, sharp pains every so often, and even contractions. All of the symptoms, of course, that I’d been bringing up for the past month. Luckily, the placenta was very low in the uterus, and the abruption (tearing away) was taking place low enough to allow blood to slowly drain out rather than building up and causing even more tearing away, which could have lead to a sudden/critical abruption. If that had happened, the majority of the placenta tears away from the uterus and there is a markedly increased chance of hemorrhage and fetal/maternal death. So, all of the bleeding I’d been experiencing since mid-November *did* have a cause, and wasn’t really cervical bleeding or “normal” bleeding, as my doctor had been saying. Ah, vindication! But not really the way I wanted it.

When I got home from the hospital, I did some research about placental abruption. It’s pretty uncommon (less than 1% of births), and even mild/low grade abruptions are highly dangerous for mom and baby— fetal mortality rates are as high as 40%, and maternal mortality can be anywhere from 10-25%. When you “Google” abruptions, you are directed to blogs and comment boards all over the web where women write about losing their babies after an abruption… some of them happening at term (40 weeks) during a regular labor, others happening earlier in pregnancy. Knowing how close I was to losing this baby makes me feel 100 times as blessed to have this child with us today; he could so easily have not survived, and I wouldn’t be listening to him sigh in the bassinet right now. But this also makes me wonder if things could have happened a little differently if my doctor had been more aggressive or proactive when I started having problems with bleeding in mid-November. Instead, he was very laid-back and fairly dismissive of my concerns (“Oh, that’s normal in pregnancy… The bleeding is old blood, probably caused by cervical changes..” etc.). … It really bothers me to think that we were so close to losing this baby. We are just so very lucky to have our son here, healthy and happy and doing well.

Uterine Damage?

Anyway, after explaining how I was unlucky to have had an abruption but lucky to have that specific kind rather than the sudden abruption, the doctor then says “We also found some necrotic uterine tissue, which was strange… I didn’t expect that.” Not what I wanted to hear while laying back in a fog of pain pills and fatigue, trying to process the fact that (a) I have a newborn, (b) I had an abruption that luckily didn’t go bad, and (c) now my doctor is telling me I also had necrotic uterine tissue?? I was too in shock to ask him about it, and he left almost immediately after that anyway. The next day I brought it up, and he said that he excicsed the necrotic tissue and sent it in to Pathology for assessment. Now I’m worried about what this means in terms of future pregnancies… how could this affect my chances of carrying another child in a year or so? *sigh*

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pregnancy: December 9-11

Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Last night, I had the absolute *worst* experience with the Family Birthing Center. It was so shocking to be treated the way I was treated, especially when we've had fairly positive interactions over the past few weeks... in fact, not only has it not been bad, it's been great-- the Nurses are typically very caring, responsive, and sensitive, and we usually end up feeling pretty good about our time spent at the FBC. Well, last night was different; and that was just over the phone!

I had been taking it easy since we got out of the FBC on Sunday, but at around 4:00 or so, I started to get this sharp, searing pain on the right side of my abdomen. It almost felt like my stomach was tearing open, or something. It wasn't completely debilitating, but it was enough that I didn't feel comfortable sitting up, so I laid down on the couch to ease the pain a bit. The tearing sensation would last a few minutes and then ease up, to just feel tender and sore in that area. Then, a bit later, it would start again. It happened on and off for the next few hours, before it occurred to me that this might be related to the problems I've been having recently. Of course, I hadn't seen any of the other things the doctor told me to watch out for (profuse bleeding, no fetal movement, increasing contractions/labor progressing), so I wasn't really sure what to do at that point. After some particularly sharp pains, I went in to use the bathroom at around 8:00 and noticed thick red blood, which was different from the weekend bleeding, but still a bit concerning to me. I mentioned that I'd call the doctor in the morning about it, but Joel told me to just call the FBC for some advice while he went out to fill up his tank. And that's where it all began...

I called the FBC, gave them my name and how far along I am (37 weeks as of today), and then they transferred me to a nurse to speak about what was happening. I felt a bit silly calling yet again, and I said so. What ensued was a conversation with the most rude, insensitive, negative health-care provider I've ever had contact with. Here's the conversation with the Nurse, as I recall:

Nurse: So, what's going on?

Me: Just to give you some history, I've been in & out of the Birthing Center for the past few weeks with bleeding and contractions, and I was just in there this weekend overnight for monitoring because my doctor was concerned about a possible placental abruption...

Nurse: When are you due?

Me: Three weeks.

Nurse: No, what is your due date? I need the actual date, the day you are due, not just "three weeks".

Me: Oh. December 31st.

Nurse: What baby is this for you?

Me: First.

Nurse: Look, hon, I can hardly hear you. Can you speak up, or put the phone closer to your mouth? What baby is this for you?


Nurse: Uh-huh. So, why are you calling in tonight?

Me: Well, I feel weird calling because they told me to call when I have major bleeding or contractions getting stronger, and I don't... but I have been feeling this sharp pain in my side...

Nurse: (Interrupting) Where on your side?

Me: To the right of my belly button, kind of going up and down...

Nurse: (Interrupting) Are you feeling the pain right now?

Me: Well, not as much, actually. It started at around 4:00 or 4:30, but it's been on & off... Sometimes, it was pretty strong, I told my husband it felt like my stomach was tearing open, but then it would go away and just be sore. I've been laying down for the past 1/2 hour, and it's feeling a little...

Nurse: (Interrupting) Okay, here's the thing--next time, you really need to call us when you're actually having the pains. It doesn't do us any good to call after they go away, because then you'll just come in here and we won't be able to see anything and we'll just end up sending you home again. Are you feeling the baby move?

Me: Uh, not as much lately, but the doctor said that's normal as we get closer to the due date. He's really been slowing down and not moving as much lately...

Nurse: (Interrupting) What does "lately" mean? That doesn't tell me anything. How long has it actually been since you felt him move?

Me: Uh, I'm not sure... it's hard to tell, sometimes. I can't really remember..."

Nurse: Okay, have you felt him move in the past half hour?

Me: Um, no...

Nurse: The past hour?

Me: I don't think so, I'm not sure...

Nurse: You're not sure? Do you even remember the last time you felt the baby move?

At this point, I was feeling so attacked and harrassed that I was about to start bawling my eyes out. I told her "Look, I'll call back when my husband gets home" and hung up the phone. And that's when I started crying and called Joel, all hysterical and upset about the way she was treating me on the phone. He was so ticked off! He came back and said that we should go in and complain to the supervising nurse, or at the very least to the doctor the next day, and that we shouldn't let this slide. Nobody deserves to be treated so rudely, but especially when it's a woman with a first-time pregnancy that has already had several complications... I mean, that's their job, right? To assist us, guide us, treat us, and support us medically while we try to get through pregnancy & labor successfully.

I still can't believe that she was so rude to me, and so harsh. I was only asking for advice and reassurance, nothing more. Anyway, I'm going to call in to my doctor and to the FBC this morning to (a) discuss what I was feeling physically yesterday, and (b) report what happened with that nurse. I only hope I don't have to endure dealing with her in the future! I mean, if she can singlehandedly turn me away from going in to the FBC, despite the fact that I might actually need to be in there, then how much more damage could she do when I'm really in labor? I could easily see this woman turning away women who should otherwise go in to the FBC, and thus making things even more scary, problematic, or possibly even dangerous for the pregnant mom and her baby. It's people like that woman who need to re-trained or just leave the field altogether; heck, if you're that unhappy, lady, go work somewhere else!

Thursday, December 11, 2008
Yesterday I spoke with the manager of the Birthing Center about my negative experience on Monday. She was very kind and understanding about the whole thing, and apologized several times that I was treated that way. She said that she would look into it and take care of things on her end, but wanted me to promise that I would call or come in if I ever felt concerned about the pregnancy or the baby. She said that she believes God gives pregnant women a special grace of becoming very knowledgeable about their own bodies... even more so than medical professionals, sometimes. She has been a nurse for 20 years, and said that she couldn't count the number of times a pregnant mom had told her "Something is wrong"-- even when doctors were assuring her that things were fine or couldn't tell anything was a problem via their initial assessments-- and they eventually found out that mom was right, not the physician. She said that I really needed to trust my instincts, and that if I felt something was really wrong, I should definitely just go straight in to the Birthing Center. I'm glad she said so, because at least someone was validating my "feelings" about how things were just not right with the bleeding and pains and so on. If only she were my doctor instead! /:)

I met with the doctor again today. Apparently I'm still not dilating, but still bleeding a lot. Just another waiting game, I guess. Can't wait for baby to get here!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pregnancy: December 1-8, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008
Joel left this afternoon for Sonoma, where he'll be until Friday night. Is it too cheesy to say I miss him already? This week I'm just going to focus on keeping everything calm and relaxed while he's gone, because I can tell you right now that I do NOT plan on having our first baby without him! Keep your fingers crossed that we can make it until Saturday at least...

I'm off work as of today, due to all of this pre-term labor stuff that's been going on. I'm really glad that I can take the time to rest and slow everything down, because I want the baby to have as much time in utero as possible. He needs to fatten up a bit before coming out into the cold December, you know? But I'm definitely getting more and more excited as the days tick by... I can't wait to meet the baby, see his tiny little hands and feet, kiss his little face, and all that good stuff. I'll probably start bawling uncontrollably in the delivery room, just like I did at my wedding; I just get so emotional when I'm at my happiest, I can't help but cry. Oh well, I'm sure they've seen every kind of reaction in the Birthing Center, this'll be nothing new! :)

Thursday, December 04, 2008
This week has been a fairly calm one for me; in fact, on Tuesday night I got in two 3-hour stretches of sleep (yay!), and then last night (Wednesday) I actually made it from about 1 a.m. to about 5 a.m. without waking up *once*! It was like a miracle, only one of those minor miracles rather than the whole water-into-wine thing. Still, it was soo nice to finally have an uninterrupted sleep like that. I haven't slept more than 2-3 hours at a time for weeks now, and usually don't end up sleeping more than a total of 5 hours a night, period, with several wake-ups. Shouldn't my body be trying to stock up on sleep before the baby gets here?? Sheesh...

Speaking of the baby's due date, we still have about 27 days to go for that. We'll see how long it actually takes-- anyone want to start a "Baby Pool"? I go in to the doctor today for my weekly pre-natal appointment; I'm pretty sure he'll take me off the Nifedipine and just let labor progress naturally at its own pace, now that I'm at 36 weeks. The countdown has officially begun! :)

Monday, December 08, 2008
Well, this weekend included another visit to the Family Birthing Center. I swear, those people are going to be so sick of seeing me by the time I finally come in for good!

We made it through the week while Joel was gone just fine, thank goodness. At my prenatal appt. on Thursday, Dr. Altman took me off of the nifedipine and said that we could just let things progress at their own pace from here on out. Joel got home on Friday night, and that was when I finally felt comfortable because he was within reach. :) On Saturday, he & I went out to do some shopping around for a stroller-- we still need to pick up one of those Graco Snugrider frames for the carseat-- and we did a fair amount of walking around. I remember telling him "Yep, those contractions are starting up again; all we need to do is keep up this type of pace, and the baby will be here before you know it!" Oh, Melanie; why did you have to say anything?

That night, I went in to use the restroom at around 8:00, and noticed bright red bleeding-- and a lot of it. I called the Birthing Center, and they told me to come on in. Again. So we packed up the car, and with each step I felt a little more panicky, because I could tell that the bleeding hadn't stopped; it actually seemed to be getting worse every time I moved. When we got there 3 minutes later, the nurses were a bit surprised; I guess they hadn't realized we only live a few blocks away. They thought we called from the parking lot, or sped there at 95 mph, or something. :) I have to admit, it's nice being so close to them, especially considering I keep ending up there so often! Anyway; they asked for a urine sample, and ended up getting a blood sample. Yipes! They hooked me up to the monitors again-- baby looked great and his heartbeat was super-strong-- and then did pelvic exams, only to find out that I'm still not dilating. Tons of contractions, yes; but they are "ineffective" contractions, because they are not resulting in any cervical changes, and labor isn't progressing. Oh, goody! They called the doctor, and he came in on his Saturday night to check me out.

The bleeding was really worrying him, because of the possibility of placental abruption (the placenta starts to separate from the uterus). He did an ultrasound and didn't see any problems, but then you can't always detect a minor abruption on ultrasound... so they attached a fetal heart monitor and contraction monitor to my abdomen and kept us overnight. They also hooked me up to an IV and were actually preparing for the possibilty of a C-section or even labor/delivery, if things progressed in one direction or another. Instead, though, my body started to calm down, and the baby was doing great (there were just a few times early in the evening where his heart rate dipped a bit, but not too bad). Getting any rest, of course, was practically impossible, but at least we were where we could get immediate help if anything bad happened. On Sunday, they eventually let us go with instructions for modified bed rest-- and to take it EASY the next couple of days.

The doctor told me to come back in if there is another session of major bleeding, or if labor begins (contractions get stronger, closer together, and I can't talk through them), but otherwise to just rest at home. It was so weird to be at the hospital and realize, this could be it; this could be the time that starts off with just the two of us entering the hospital, and three of us leaving. :) Both of us kind of wished things would just keep going forward, but I guess it's not time yet. I think the baby is ready, actually; it's my body that isn't getting it together yet! The uterine contractions are constant, but as yet are not producing any cervical changes. We could be at this stage for weeks, really, although I hope that things don't continue like this for the rest of the month. I was so exhausted by all of it yesterday that, even though part of me wanted to just give birth already, another part of me was praying that this wasn't it because I was so tired that I didn't think I'd be able to do it! Well, either way, I'll be at 37 weeks on Tuesday, so we're finally in the clear. From here on out, anything goes. (Did you hear that, body? Come on now, let's work together on this!)