Saturday, November 12, 2011

You're here!!!!!!

Dear Alex,

You arrived a week ago today! You were scheduled to come out this past Monday, but you decided to come a couple of days early. Your dad and I had some plans for those last couple of days, like a last date out to the movies, taking some pregnancy pictures, and resting up for your big debut. We'd finished all our appointments and work commitments and were looking forward to relaxing over the weekend. I think maybe you sensed that all the important stuff had been done and that we were ready for you. I was certainly more relaxed. We had boneless wings and mac & cheese for dinner that night (yay comfort food), and watched "The Happiest Baby on the Block" DVD twice.

Around 3:30 in the morning I had a dream that I was in labor and trying to get hold of your dad on a cell phone so we could go to the hospital. I woke up to a feeling that things weren't quite right and i asked your dad to turn on the light so I could see if the sheets were wet. They were, and when I tried to get up, there was a gush of more wetness. I told your dad that my water broke, and he panicked a little. He got me towels to lay on, and I told him to call the midwives and our doula. We were told to come to the hospital for 8 and to call back if you stopped moving. Dad started to pack his bag. I was able to get up and get myself dressed and ready, and while I was doing that, some mild contractions started. They felt more like moderate period cramps than anything else.

We got in the car and to the hospital without incident. Dad tried to wheel me into the hospital and down the hall quietly, but the wheelchair had something wrong with it and was fantastically loud. Jodie, our doula, was waiting for us. We all went into a labor/delivery/recovery room and Dad and Jodie took pictures of me, as we hadn't taken that many when I was pregnant and this was our last chance. I got changed into the hospital gown & tried to knit/ relax as a parade of nurses and doctors came by to ask questions, introduce themselves, and poke me in various places. I didn't get much knitting done, and relaxing was pretty impossible too. There were just too many interruptions. We made our preferences known, that I wanted to have skin-to-skin contact with you as soon as possible, that Daddy wanted to announce your name/ sex, that Daddy wanted to cut the umbilical cord, that things be quiet when you came out. Daddy also wanted to see the entire operation, and the anesthesiologist told him no, that he "wouldn't be able to see anything anyway", standing behind the big blue curtain. She wanted him to sit on a stool and not even stand up, in case he fainted from all the blood and everything that goes with a surgery. All the other doctors were fine with it, though, and everyone advocated for him. Finally she allowed him to be able to move between the sides of the curtain, as long as the midwife went with him.

There came a time, though, when they gave Daddy and Jodie scrubs to wear into the operating room, and soon after that started to get my bed ready to wheel away. That's when it all became very real to me: when I next came back into that room, I wouldn't be pregnant anymore, and we'd have a baby. This is what we'd waited years for. It was finally happening. I started to cry. Daddy leaned over and kissed my cheek and squeezed my hand. Then all I could see was the ceiling moving as we went out of my room, across the hall, and into the operating room.

It was very white and very cold and reminded me a little of a spaceship - very sterile and empty of everything except equipment. There were only a few people in there, all scrubbed up and busy doing something. Two or three people helped me transfer to the operating table, and after a couple of false tries, the anesthesiologist gave me a spinal block, which is a shot in the back to make you numb from the chest down. The needle pricked a little, but it wasn't bad at all. The spinal made my feet warm up, then my legs and all the way up to my chest finally warmed up. Meanwhile, my arms were being held out to the sides and a pulse clip was put on my finger. The IV was hooked up, and the blood pressure cuff started to work every couple of minutes. My feet felt like they were asleep, and I couldn't feel anything else, really, below my chest. A couple of weird tugs as the OB was putting this orange-colored stuff on my belly. That was the last thing I saw happening to the rest of me before someone put up the blue curtain, only a few inches away from my face.

Suddenly there were a lot of people in the room. Jodie was next to me, and Daddy was there too. I asked him to hold my hand, and I started crying again. Things were getting close to the important stuff, and having them in the room just made me realize it more. Jodie said that having them there made it feel more human. I said I'd rather just distance myself from it so I could relax and not cry, and she said that was okay too. I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and concentrated on what I was feeling, or not feeling in most cases. They tilted the bed a tiny bit to the left, and with my arms out to my sides and very limited field of vision (and an oxygen mask on), it felt a little like I was flying.

I kept breathing with my eyes closed, or else staring up at the blue sheet, and everyone got very focused. I couldn't feel anything, but from the sounds people were making, I knew something had started. Jodie narrated for me: "There are feet!" "There's just the head left to come out now." Then I heard "28" and knew that you had been born - they had just announced your time of birth but I hadn't heard the beginning part. I didn't know if it was closer to 9:30, 10:30, or 11:30, and I didn't care. I hadn't heard you yet. Jodie said "you have a baby!" and then, finally, I heard you crying. (You sounded mad.) I saw some action over to my left- you getting to the warmer near the pediatrician, who examined you and declared you stable. While she was doing that, Daddy came over and whispered to me, "We have an Alex." I knew that meant that you were a girl, because we'd decided to name you Jonas if you were a boy.

A couple of minutes later (after I'd thrown up), Daddy brought you over to me. You were wearing the yellow hat I'd knit for you and were wrapped in one of the hospital's receiving blankets. You didn't look like I expected, but I was really happy with how you looked - better than I could have made up on my own. Really cute, especially for a newborn. You weren't crying anymore, just hanging out in your Daddy's arms with your eyes closed. I could reach your head only enough to kiss you and rub your ear with one hand. You and I and Daddy stayed like this until I was stitched up and beginning to be a little sore. We were ready to go back into the recovery room, and I was tired. Jodie tried to help us begin to breastfeed, but I was so tired I was fighting to keep my eyes open, and you weren't much more alert but were doing better than I was, anyway. I fell asleep and could vaguely hear your Daddy and Jodie talking. I think Daddy got something to eat. He helped the nurse give you your first bath and cut the umbilical cord.

When I woke up, it was much easier to focus on what was going on around me. Pretty soon after that, we moved to our post partum room, which is where we would be staying for the next 4 days. There was more practice with nursing, and more sleeping, and lots of people coming in and out to take vital signs for you and me and show your daddy and me the basics of newborn care (like changing diapers - your dad did almost all of those, since I still hadn't been given the ok to get out of bed.).

There is a lot more I could write about recovering from birth and our stay in the hospital, but I don't think it would really interest you much. A couple of highlights:
The nursing info board in our room had a place for a daily plan. In that space when we moved in was written "get to know Alex, breastfeeding, skin-to-skin".
We had incredible nurses over the weekend, even overnight.They were friendly, helpful, patient, and thought you were just adorable (you were).
All your grandparents came to visit that night and again on Sunday. They all held you. Many, many pictures were taken.
Your auntie, Bubba, and Nana came to visit on Sunday night. More pictures, more holding. That was a really fun visit.
We had some trouble getting started with the breastfeeding, so they gave me a nipple shield to use. You wouldn't suck more than a couple of times without one, and even after that and after using a pump, we had to supplement with formula a little because you never seemed "satisfied" after feeding on both sides and getting whatever milk I could pump.
Your newborn going-home outfit was enormous! The pants fit okay, but the top went down to your knees and the sleeves were nearly double the correct length.

I'm really glad you're home and that you've been doing okay. There are concerns about your weight (not gaining it back after birth quickly enough) and your hips (loose joints). We're doing round-the-clock feeding with you, and it's definitely not easy. Round-the-clock means every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night. You seem to always want to either eat early (or really long after I'm supposed to have stopped) or sleep past a feeding time. Or both. Your newest trick is to nurse for longer than you should, and then cry for more when I go to pump. Today your Daddy was at a meeting for 5 hours and you wouldn't let me put you down for four of them.

Tomorrow you have two doctor's appointments: One in the morning for your hips and one in the afternoon to check your weight again. I hope it's been going up so we can stop going to the doctor's every other day.

Right now Daddy has taken you to his office, and I am alone at home. This time to be quiet and take a shower and maybe sleep for a little bit is nice, even though I'm wondering how you Daddy will be able to work and hold you at the same time. He hasn't brought anything with him but you and a big blanket.

I love you,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You survived 2011

Dear Flash,

Since you have existed, you have been through/to the following:
Tornado (June)
Your mom's job lay-off (June)
Athens, Rome, Pompeii, London, Sicily (June/ July)
Greek strikes (July)
The premiere of the final Harry Potter movie (July)
London riots (July)
Your dad's new work location (July)
2 apartment moves (July, October)
Earthquake (September)
Hurricane Irene(September)
A car accident (September)
3 speech contests (September/October)
Record-breaking, unseasonable blizzard (October)

That's a pretty eventful nine months (well, 5 months - that tornado you conjured up seems to have started everything)! I'm just waiting for the locusts to descend tomorrow morning and for Mt. Tom to erupt sometime over the weekend. I'll probably be waving to a couple of nice pairs of horsemen in the sky on my way to the hospital Monday morning...because you're scheduled to be yanked out by your butt on Monday, and those are the last couple of things that need to happen before I can be convinced that I'm actually going to have a baby, and that all the infertility crap I've been enduring for the past 3-4 years has actually resulted in success.

Love, Mommy

P.S. Feel free to cancel the locusts, volcano, and horsemen. I'd really prefer to be calm when you finally join us here on the outside.