Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Before Isaac was born, I found it both enjoyable and helpful to read birth stories on various websites and blogs from other moms who wanted to share their experiences of bringing babies into the world. Each story was so unique from all the rest, yet each one encouraged me in some way or taught me something to possibly be prepared for in my own labor experience.
For the sake of remembrance and out of a desire to be an encouragement to other expectant moms myself, I now share the story of Isaac's birth. Be forewarned, however, this story is quite lengthy! If you want the Reader's Digest version, my husband just summed it up in these words: "Isaac was in your belly; now he is not." (Gotta love his sense of humor!)
For the rest of the details, keep reading!
Sunday, February 24, 4:00 a.m.
I awoke from a fitful sleep feeling a vague, general discomfort in my body and a frustration that I couldn’t seem to attain solid rest. I had already been up several other times during the night. This time, however, I began to recognize the sensation of pressure in the lower part of my belly, almost like cramps.
Crawling out of bed, I found a sense of relief by bending over the bed, supporting my weight on my arms, and swaying my hips gently from side to side. “That’s funny!” I thought to myself. “This is a position women use when they’re in labor to help themselves through contractions. I wonder...” And all of sudden, I had the instinctive feeling that I was in the early stages of labor myself! Granted, the sensations of cramping and pressure were not at all how I had imagined contractions to feel, but in an instant, I just knew that must be what I was experiencing!
I climbed back in bed feeling much more at peace with the world that I had an answer to my discomfort and a reason for the fitful sleep! The light contractions continued as I lay there, and I soon felt that I would be better off on the couch where I could work through the discomfort without disturbing Nathan. After all, he had to awaken in a few hours to a usual busy Sunday morning as pastor. He needed all the rest he could get.
On my way to the living room, I stopped to use the bathroom and had further evidence that early labor was definitely underway (but I’ll spare you the graphic specifics). It was an exhilarating understanding, even shocking at first in the most exciting way, that the time had finally come for our baby to arrive! I had read, though, that even with these signs of labor I had experienced, it could be several days before a baby would be born...or it could be within 24 hours. Thus, on the one hand, I tried not to get my hopes up too high just yet until we saw how things played out, but on the other, my gut instinct told me this baby would be born late the following night or early Monday morning.
I settled myself upon the couch and let the contractions come. The feeling, in addition to cramping and pressure, was of tightness in the lower part of my uterus and then a release as the contraction passed. It was a new sensation I had never felt before, even different than the Braxton Hicks I had had off and on since December. There was an unshakable sense that these were the real deal! At that point, the contractions were short, lasting only about 10 seconds, and spaced apart quite a bit. But they were certainly consistent.
As I lay there pondering the coming hours, I realized that if my instinct was correct and this baby came when I thought it would, my mother, who was scheduled to fly in for the birth the following day, would probably not make it in time. I had really wanted her to be a part of our little boy’s entry into the world, and I was counting on her to be my doula, helping me through labor. The only way I could see her making it in time would be if she changed her airline ticket to that day, Sunday. Thus, I made my way to my computer in the office and sat down to see what Southwest Airlines had to offer as far as ticket changes were concerned. I saw that there was only one direct flight that day from Houston to Albuquerque; all others routed through Denver. It was an afternoon flight and certainly doable for a last minute switch if Mom would be up for it. A phone call would need to be made first, though. And soon.
I crept into our bedroom and snuggled up next to Nathan. He awoke as I knew he would and I told him I thought we would be having a baby very soon! He was so happy to hear this news! I told him the signs I had had that early labor was likely underway and my instinctive feeling that the baby would be born before Mom arrived the next day, unless she changed her ticket. He was fine with me calling her to present that possibility. Leaving him to catch a few more winks of sleep before a busy day, I settled myself back upon the couch and dialed Mom and Dad’s home number. Houston time is an hour ahead of New Mexico, so I knew they’d be up making breakfast for their house guests and getting ready for church.
Because I called at such an early hour, my mom immediately asked if I was in labor. I told her the detailed account of what had been transpiring over the past two hours and she agreed that it definitely sounded like I was in early labor! Within half an hour, my dad had changed her airline ticket to arrive that afternoon and I returned to working through my contractions with much more peace of mind that Mom would make it in time for this little boy’s birth! (My parents are the best!)
When the clock finally read 8:00, I felt comfortable calling the midwife who was on call since my paperwork from the birth center said they wanted to know as soon as early labor had kicked in based on the signs I had experienced. This would allow them to plan their day/night accordingly, assuming the baby was actually on the way.
After listening to the voicemail at the birth center and learning that Kiersten was the midwife on call, I dialed her cell number. Kiersten just happened to be the midwife I had seen for the vast majority of my prenatal appointments and as a result, I felt especially close to her. It was so comforting to hear her cheerful voice answer after the second ring and rejoice with me that the baby was coming! Considering that I was only in the very beginning of labor and that I likely had a long way to go before delivery and that I had been up half the night, she advised me to rest as much as possible that day in order to be ready for the marathon ahead. “Rest, rest, rest. Drink, drink, drink. And eat, eat, eat.” Those were her words of wisdom! I was only too happy to oblige!
The contractions had been steady all morning and little by little, were increasing in intensity. By the time the hour arrived for the morning church service, I was having to work through some of them on my hands and knees. Since our parsonage home is connected to the sanctuary through a door and small side entryway, I was still able to participate in the service in the privacy of my own living room by opening the door and listening in! With my Bible propped open on the stoop to the entryway and me on my hands and knees until each contraction passed, it was a great setup for getting to hear Nathan preach! I must say, I thought it rather appropriate for this little baby, the son of a pastor, to decide to start coming on a Sunday when his daddy could announce to the congregation that labor had begun and ask for their prayers! :)
The church service over, Nathan came back into the house and fixed us lunch. Contractions had plateaued at about 30-45 seconds long and 5-6 minutes apart. They stayed that way for the next several hours. In the meanwhile, Nathan set to work on a few remaining school assignments for his online seminary courses. Spring break would begin for him on Tuesday and the assignments were due before then. If the baby came that night or the next day, he knew it would be helpful to have the work completed!
At last, I could stay on the couch no longer! I knew I was supposed to rest, but by then, I was itching to get up and tend to a few household tasks, especially since my mom was due to arrive from the airport within a couple of hours. I did a load of laundry, finished preparing her guest room, dusted the furniture only where absolutely necessary, and all the while stopped along the way when a contraction hit that required my concentration. When the work was done, I returned to my rest on the couch. Often, though, I had to roll off the couch and onto my hands and knees for a more comfortable position for a contraction. At this point, they were lasting at least a minute and feeling stronger than before.
Just as a side note, I had found early on that a warm bath was very soothing and as a result, had been in and out of the bathtub throughout the day, although I can’t remember the times exactly.
We heard the sounds of a car pulling up to the house and knew it was our good friends from church delivering my mom. They had been kind enough to drive all the way to Albuquerque and back in order to pick her up at the airport and bring her to our house! We were so grateful!
By this point, I was entering the “active labor” phase when contractions were definitely intensifying. I can’t describe how wonderful it was to see my mom walk through the door just when I was going to be needing her the most! She was so excited to be here, too! I gave her the royal tour of our house and showed her to her room. Then, knowing that she would want to get to work right away and having been unable to so myself, I asked her if she would mind making dinner. As she began preparing turkey, mashed potatoes, and broccoli for our meal, I returned to the living room floor where contractions were now taking a great deal of concentration.
We had a dinner party in the bathroom seeing as how I was back in the tub, soaking in the warm water. The food Mom fixed tasted so good! In fact, those were the best mashed potatoes I had ever eaten!
When I returned to the living room a little while later, Mom prepared a special tool for working through contractions that my sister had taught her: a crock pot of warm water, lavender oil, and washcloths. These she pressed up against my belly with each contraction, and oh, the comfort they brought!
At some point in the evening, Nathan packed the rest of the things we needed in our bags and food basket for the birth center, doing a great job getting us all prepared to go whenever it became necessary.
Finally, when contractions were about 1-1 1/2 minutes long and coming more rapidly at 3-4 minutes apart, I decided I needed to call the midwife to check in and see if we should head to the birth center yet. At this point, Madrona was the midwife on call. She had been told by Kiersten that I was in labor and so had been expecting to hear from me. I gave her the update on where things were but told her I could still talk through contractions. She gave me the option of either laboring a little longer at home or coming to the birth center to be checked. I chose to labor longer at home, sensing that I still had a ways to go and feeling like a check at this point would be a bit premature. Madrona was totally fine with that. We made arrangements that I would call back in an hour and at that point, we would likely meet at the birth center to check my progress and vitals.
This time, when I called Madrona, I couldn’t talk through one of my contractions. She was able to listen in as I breathed my way through it and even coached me on how to breath a little more effectively. We timed the contraction and it was the longest yet: 2 minutes. We agreed to meet Madrona at the birth center in 15 minutes. The arrangement was that if I had not dilated very far, we could return home to keep laboring, but if I was progressed enough, we would stay at the birth center.
Nathan loaded up the car with all the things we needed while Mom helped me get my coat and shoes on. Then, we were off! I had the feeling I would only be dilated to a 2 or 3 and that a lot of hard work was still ahead, but I was grateful to know things were moving along.
We arrived at the birth center where we were greeted warmly by Jaime, one of the student interns and also Madrona’s assistant for the birth. Then, Madrona herself came sailing in from another part of the building, enthusiastically said, “Hi Darling! I hear you’re having a baby!”, and gave me a big hug. It was quite the welcome!
They took my blood pressure and pulse, checked the baby’s heartbeat, and then did a cervical check to see how far I had progressed. Madrona told me I was dilated to a 2 and 90% effaced! Everything was looking good. We returned home to keep laboring while Madrona and Jaime went to their homes for a few hours of sleep.
Upon reaching home, we encouraged Nathan to also go to bed for a little while, knowing we would need him and his strength later in the night. Then, Mom and I returned to our spot on the living room floor where she had laid out puffy blankets to make my work more comfortable.
At that point it was like a switch went off in my body and the contractions just kept coming and coming, stronger and stronger, with no break whatsoever. That crock pot of warm washcloths and Mom’s encouraging words were a tremendous help as I endured some of the hardest, most intense work of my life. At some point during the process, I found that moaning and groaning my way through the contractions came naturally and helped me through them.
Monday, February 25, 2:15 a.m.
I knew the time had come to go back to the birth center. I just sensed a change in my body. Was it the “transition” phase I had read about in my childbirth books? I still am not sure, but I thought it might be and wanted to go get settled at the birth center and be under the direction of the midwives at that point, feeling that the actual delivery of this baby wasn’t too far off.
Nathan placed another phone call to Madrona and she told us to meet her there in 25 minutes. It took us awhile, however, to actually get out the door because as I mentioned above, my contractions never stopped and were so strong I had to be on the floor to get through each one. Finally, Mom and Nathan helped me hobble to the car where I climbed into the back seat, positioned myself on my knees, and draped my upper body over the top of the seat in our little SUV. I remember telling Nathan to drive fast!
We pulled up to the birth center and contractions were so intense, I had to hang on to Nathan just to make it into the building. All I wanted was to climb into the big bathtub in the “Pink Room” where I had planned to deliver. However, they first had to check my vitals again and do another cervical check. It was hard to find a window of time in which to do these tasks since the waves of contractions didn’t stop. At last, though, I got a tiny break and Madrona and Jaime worked fast! Madrona said I was dilated to a 5 or 6. I had hoped I would be farther along than that, but I honestly didn’t have time to really stop and care...I was too focused on getting through those exhausting contractions!
At last, my bath was ready and I gladly climbed into the big tub. Instantly, a soothing sensation washed over my body and I was able to relax...for about thirty seconds. Then, the contractions returned, although they were a little bit easier to work through in the warm water. Nathan donned his swim attire and climbed in with me to let me lean against him. It was a little more crowded in the tub than I had imagined it would be, but it was so comforting to have my husband supporting me physically and emotionally!
All of a sudden, a new sensation gripped my body and I involuntarily began to push! Madrona recognized what was happening and immediately told me not to push! She said it was too early because I wasn’t dilated far enough yet. I didn’t know how not to push, though, so she had to coach me through a specific way of breathing in short little puffs of air to cause the urge to push to dissipate. However, the urge kept returning and pushing was all my body wanted to do!
At that point, Madrona checked me again and to all of our great surprise, I had dilated in just thirty minutes to a 9! Relief swept over me to know I was that far along and even more so when Madrona gave the go ahead to push! She said there was still a little bit of cervical lip in the way, but that if my body wanted to push, to let it, and she would help with the cervical lip if necessary.
“Call Kiersten, and tell her to come now!” Madrona called out to Jaime. It’s the birth center’s policy to always have two midwives on duty during a birth, along with their students, and with me being that far along, she knew it was time for the rest of the birth team to come in.
As I labored in the pushing phase for the next few hours (yes, you read that correctly - hours!), these are some of the specific recollections I have from that time:
~ Kiersten arriving along with her student assistant, Denise, and the tremendous joy I felt when I they walked into the room
~ Grabbing the arm rail on the wall at the side of the tub and hanging onto it for dear life during contractions
~ Nathan holding me up in the water with his strong arms (he was out of the tub at this point)
~ Jaime and Madrona coaching me through contractions and Kiersten teaching me how to channel my moans down into the contractions so they would be more effective uses of my energy
~ Mom praying and speaking words of encouragement at my side
~ Sporadic cries to God to help me and give me strength
~ The verse I had picked out ahead of time to help me through labor going around in my mind and sometimes quoting it out loud: “The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusted in Him and I am helped, therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth and with my song will I praise Him.”
~ Thoughts of my getting to see my baby soon and hold him in my arms which helped to keep me going
~ Denise supplying me with things to drink and spoonfuls of honey to keep my energy up
~ Talking to my baby and telling him he was doing a good job
~ Hearing Nathan describing to the midwives the story of his proposal to me, since this day was exactly one year after we got engaged
~ Feeling so tired
~ Trying different positions for labor in the tub at first, and then out of the tub at the midwives’ request in order to try to keep things moving
~ Reaching down and feeling a small portion of my baby’s head and the great encouragement that was to me that we were making progress!
~ The feelings of joy and peace throughout labor that I had prayed for
~ The thought that even though this was intense, hard work, it was very doable and I could envision myself doing it again with future babies!
~ Crawling up on the bed and feeling a brief period of rest as the contractions ceased momentarily
~ Entering “the zone,” at which point the rest of labor is a bit fuzzy in my memory.
It was like the people and environment around me faded just a little into a hazy background as I had to put all my concentration into the final stage of pushing.
I’m not sure that this was the exact time, but somewhere right toward the very end, I remember surfacing from the fog I was in to realize that I was on the bed, leaning back against Nathan, and hearing Kiersten say, “Katrina, you are going to need to push this baby out in the next two or three contractions or else we will need to do an episiotomy.” That snapped me out of the hazy daze I was in, and I felt scared for the first time. An episiotomy was the last thing I wanted as the very thought of what it was and what it would do to me freaked me out.
Apparently, the baby had crowned for a long time, with part of his head coming out and then going back in again with each contraction. It seemed as though he was a little stuck and it was going to require all my might to push him all the way out.
I knew I didn’t have the strength to push him out on my own and it was going to have to be God who gave it to me. However, at the mention of a possible episiotomy, I was certainly motivated to push as hard as I could and cry out to the Lord to deliver this baby!
In about three hard contractions, with me pushing with every last ounce of strength I had and crying out to God to bring this baby out, all of sudden there he was being lifted up to my chest! God had done it! He had heard my cries and our precious son was born!
I don’t know which emotion was stronger at that moment; the feeling of excitement at finally being able to see our baby or of tremendous relief that I had not had to have an episiotomy and that labor was over! In any case, it was a surreal moment, seeing our child for the first time! He was all curled up in a little ball, slick from the womb, with a funny, cone-shaped head from being molded in the birth canal, but oh, so beautiful to me! He had olive toned skin like his daddy and a head of wispy dark hair. I was thrilled beyond words to see him and hold him. From his vantage point behind me, Nathan was excited as well and greeted his new son with tender words.
Meanwhile, all was busy around us as the birthing team flew into action. Some tended to me and some to the baby from his position in my arms. I honestly don’t know what all they did at that moment, so enthralled with the baby I was and too exhausted to pay them much attention. I do know that I birthed the placenta and my mom cut the cord when it stopped pulsing. At some point Nathan asked if they wanted to know his name and all activity ceased as each one listened excitedly. “Isaac Nathan!” he proclaimed proudly.
Little Isaac proved to be, in reality, quite a big baby! He weighed in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces, 19 1/2 inches long. His head measured 14 inches in circumference, which is one inch bigger than the average baby. No wonder he had trouble coming out!
The midwives checked me for tearing and found that I had indeed torn in several places, no doubt due to the size of my baby. While Madrona was comfortable stitching me up in one area, there was another area that was too close to an ultra sensitive spot and she thought it would be better for an OB/GYN to examine me and made the sutures if necessary. So, she dashed off to make a phone call to the hospital while our little family enjoyed our new addition.
The word came that an OB/GYN was available for the operation, but we had to be at the hospital in 15 minutes since that was the only window of time he could give us! Again, all became a busy beehive. They stood me up and got me dressed in my street clothes and fed me a little snack since I was so weak from labor I felt faint. I was hustled into Madrona’s car and whisked across the street to the hospital. The baby stayed behind with Nathan and the others to be washed and dressed and brought to me later.
When we got the hospital, my mom registered me with the receptionist while Madrona and Jaime pushed me in a wheelchair down the hallway to the designated room in the labor and delivery unit. To make the end of this long story a little bit shorter, the doctor took care of giving me stitches (he did not think them necessary in the ultra-sensitive spot) while I held Isaac and nursed him for the first time. Meanwhile, I could hear Nathan making lots of phone calls out in the hallway to excited family and friends!
When the operation was finished, we were discharged from the hospital and free to go home. (Usually, when giving birth at the birth center, one stays for anywhere between 3 and 8 hours in recovery, but because we had to go to the hospital right away and were transferred to their care, when we were discharged, we did not return to the birth center.) It all sounded good to me since I just wanted to be home in my own bed at that point! I was so tired I could barely move.
As time went on that day, I found that I could not walk on my own, could not lift my legs at all, and felt a lot of pain in my pelvic area. It turns out that I likely have a condition called Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction, which means that my pubic bones separated more than is usual when I gave birth, probably because Isaac was so big. As the bones and ligaments have slowly been coming back together, there has been much pain and the need to be on bed rest in order to allow healing to occur.
For the first three days after birth, I felt like a paralytic learning to walk all over again. I was quite helpless to do anything for myself since, as I discovered, one’s pelvic muscles are required for just about every movement in life! Thankfully, I had wonderful caregivers in Nathan and my mom! They were willing to help me walk, lift me in and out of bed and on and off the couch, help me shower, get me dressed, bring me the baby, etc. It was a very humbling experience to be so dependent on them for everything. At first, I was disappointed to not be able to care for my baby fully from the very start, but then I realized that this period of constant rest allowed me lots of time to just be with him, holding him, snuggling him, and feeding him. “Savor the moment,” has become one of my mottos and I have definitely tried to live this out everyday with Isaac!
I am now three weeks into my six week period of bed rest and doing so much better! I can walk normally again and every day I regain more muscle control in my legs. There is still some pain both in my pelvic area and from the stitches, but it is very bearable. I can’t be up and about for very long periods of time yet, but I can at least move around on my own, give my baby his baths, do an occasional load of laundry, and fix myself a snack when necessary.
Even though labor was intensely hard work and recovery from birth has been painful, every time I look at Isaac’s little face, I think to myself, “It was so worth it.” He is such a precious gift from God! So often, as I lay here on the couch with Isaac in my arms, I can do nothing but marvel at the beautiful baby God has given us. Sometimes, it’s still hard to believe he’s actually our very own! The mother love that fills my heart for him is impossible to put into words. And seeing Nathan as a daddy interact with his tiny son - well, it’s enough to melt my heart every time.
Isaac means “laughter” and Nathan means “a gift.” He truly is a priceless gift who brings us much joy and laughter already! We are deeply grateful to God for blessing us so richly with this child!
February 25, 2012
One year later...February 25, 2013
Isaac Nathan joins our family!
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Friday, March 15, 2013
It has been so wonderful having my mom here for the past 3 weeks, and my dad here for the past few days!
They have been a tremendous blessing to us!
My mom helped me through labor and got to watch Isaac come into the world, which was really special for both of us.
She has also cared for our little family for the past three weeks and tended to the household while I have been on bedrest.
They sure love their little grandson!
Farewell, Grandmommy and Granddaddy! We love you!
Hi everyone! It's me, Isaac, again!
Check out the handsome double chin I'm sporting these days! Isn't it charming?
Bet I can make you smile with this picture!
I still love sucking on my hands.
Rocking in the rocking chair is another favorite activity of mine.
Here I am at the birth center for my two-week check-up.
This is Kiersten, one of the midwives who helped bring me into the world. My mommy really likes her, and so do I!
Did you know that pacifiers are wonderful inventions?
At least, that's what I think (and so do my parents!).
Look, I know how to hold my pacifier even when I'm not using it.
Grandmommy is really good at snuggling. I like to fall asleep in her arms.
But that doesn't slow her down! She can eat and work in the kitchen even while holding me! She's pretty amazing.
Monday, March 11, 2013
This little boy just gets cuter every day!
We are quite smitten with him! :)
Kisses from Daddy
A foot rub from Grandmommy!
Look at that head of dark hair!
Isaac studying with Daddy...
Nestled in the perfect little nook.
I don't seem to make it into too many pictures, mainly because I'm usually the one behind the camera! And because I'm not exactly photogenic these days with my pajamas and bedrest-look! :)
What a precious face.
A quick visit from Ms. Denise!
Somebody's all tuckered out.
Grandmommy and her little man.
Lovin' those snuggles!
Isaac and Daddy watching the Michigan University basketball game.
Look who came into town for a visit this week!
Granddaddy meets Isaac for the first time!
A handsome man with a sleepyhead.
(I love the giraffe on his backside!)
Our little fellow fast asleep with Grandmommy.
Sporting some chubby cheeks today!
Two weeks old and cute as a button!