Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two Months!

Now that I no longer have weekly pregnancy updates to do, I've decided to do monthly updates on Penny's development and any fun things that have happened with her. Today Penelope AnnMarie turned two months old!

I cannot even believe how much she has changed in the past month. Or the past week. Heck, everyday it feels like she has learned something new or changed in some way. She smiles all the time now with the occasional giggle, she is constantly babbling and trying to imitate facial expressions, she can push herself way up during tummy time, and she is starting to grab for toys and can even grasp them for a few seconds at a time. It's so amazing how quickly she is becoming her own little person with such a big personality!

Weight: 11 lbs 14 oz (54th percentile)
Height: 22-1/2 in (42nd percentile)
Head Circumference: 41 cm (99th percentile)

Biggest Accomplishment This Month: Lifting her head 90 degrees and pushing her chest slightly off the floor during tummy time

Biggest Struggle This Month: Learning how to take naps in her playpen instead of being held through naps

Mommy's Favorite Moment: The couple of nights she has slept 8 hour stretches and whenever she gets a big grin on her face when she sees me after it's been a little while.

Mommy's Least Favorite Moment: When I was leaving to go see Little Mermaid that Daddy directed and Penny threw up all down my shirt. Not just down the front. Nope, filled my shirt and bra with throw up. I didn't have a change of clothes with me so I had to wipe the puke up with water and throw it in the dryer so at least it wouldn't look bad, but I still went to the show smelling like baby puke. Then, when I got back to pick Penny up from Grandma's, she pooped like I have never seen a baby poop before. The entire back of her onesie up to her neck was covered and all down her legs were coated in poo and we had to give her a bath in Grandma's kitchen sink. Baby Girl really went all out that day!

Daddy's Favorite Moment: Smiling back at me

Daddy's Least Favorite Moment: The night I was up with her screaming for an hour and a half straight.

Two Month Developmental Milestones According to What to Expect in the First Year (highlighted in green Penny has accomplished, highlighted in red she hasn't yet):

"By two months, your baby...should be able to:
*smile in response to your smile
*respond to a bell in some way, such as startling, crying, quieting

...will probably be able to:
*vocalize in ways other than crying (e.g., cooing)
*on stomach, lift head 45 degrees

...may even be able to:
*hold head steady when upright
*on stomach, raise chest, supported by arms
*roll over (one way)
*grasp a rattle held to back or tips of fingers
*pay attention to an object as small as a raisin (but make sure objects are kept out of baby's reach)
*reach for an object
*say "Ah-goo" or similar vowel-consonant combination

...may possibly be able to:
*smile spontaneously
*bring both hands together
*on stomach, lift head 90 degrees
*laugh out loud
*squeal in delight
*follow an object held about 6 inches above the baby's face and moved 180 degrees (from one side to the other), with baby watching all the way"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Penelope AnnMarie's Birth Story

I know I'm ridiculously behind on getting this posted and for that I apologize. Little Penny Butt has been keeping me pretty busy and I'm just enjoying every second with her before I start back at work next week :-( Better late than never, though, here is Penny's birth story:

Thursday, August 15th I woke up a little after midnight. Nothing was really happening, I was just wide awake and couldn't fall back asleep. I turned on Amazing Race on Hulu Plus to try and relax me and shut my brain off so I could get back to bed. Around three episodes later at about 3:00am I was starting to fall in and out of sleep, but I noticed that the Braxton Hicks (or so I thought) contractions I had been having were starting to feel pretty regular so I decided to time them. I pulled out my iPhone and hit the timer when one would start, and then by the time it was done I usually had fallen back asleep. Then when another one would start I'd wake up and stop the timer. I noticed after several times of this that all of them were hovering around 7 or 8 minutes apart, but I didn't want to wake up Jon until I was really sure that this was the real deal.

Another hour or so went by and the intervals were slowly decreasing to around 6.5 or 7 minutes on average so I decided it was time to let Jon know that we might be having a baby that day. He continued to time contractions while we watched more Amazing Race until about 6:30am when contractions were down to around 5 to 5.5 minutes apart and we realized we should start getting ready to head into the hospital. Jon and I both emailed work and he packed up the car while I took a quick shower. The contractions were painful at this point but I was dealing with them pretty well. I honestly thought to myself a couple of times, "Hey, this isn't nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be!" I had no idea what was to come...

Once we got to the hospital we found out that the door you are told to enter to be admitted to the birthing center, while very close to the birthing center wing, is on pretty much the opposite side of the building as admittance and triage. I kept turning down people's offers of wheelchairs as I figured we had to be getting close, but it took for freaking ever to get there when I was waddling down the halls and stopping for every contraction.

When we finally got to the admittance counter I was taken to triage where they strapped me up to a bunch of monitors and checked to see how dilated I was. 1.5 centimeters. Damnit. I had been at 1 cm for the past week and a half. They told me they couldn't admit me with so little progress, so they sent me to walk around the birthing center for about an hour and a half to two hours to get things moving. This part sucked. Not only was it incredibly painful to be walking around at that point, and it was really embarrassing to have to stop in the middle of the hallway and hug Jon as hard as I could to get myself through contractions, but I was freaking out the entire time that it wouldn't work and they'd send me home and baby wouldn't come for another couple of days as they kept reminding me might happen. There was no way I was going to put up with another several days of contractions with no meds. After we had been walking for a while, the contractions started getting further apart and more irregular which continued to set me in a panic.

Eventually the triage nurse came to find us so that they could check my status again. Still 1.5 centimeters. Crap crap crap. I was getting sent home with the instructions to only come back if either my water broke or contractions were down to 2 to 3 minutes apart. As soon as the nurse left the room so I could get dressed again, I started bawling. I absolutely did not want to be told that baby could still be awhile a way yet. I shamefully got dressed and we made the long, painful waddle back to the car. This time, walking not only reduced the span of time between contractions to around 4 min, it increased the severity of the contractions. By the time we were driving to Panera to get some lunch (it was almost noon by the time we left) I was crying and yelling like a maniac through every contraction. Have I mentioned I'm not good with pain?

When we got back to the house I could barely eat I was hurting so badly. I took a bath which slowed contractions back to about 7 min apart, and Jon and I were both so tired that between each one we'd fall asleep for five minute increments, me in the tub and Jon on the bathroom floor, until the next contraction would start. When I finally made myself get out of the tub, I moved onto sitting on the exercise ball to try and speed things up again. Within half an hour my contractions were down to an average of three minutes apart and were PAINFUL. Like I thought I was going to lose my mind painful. I insisted that we wait until my contractions were either all the way down to 2 minutes apart or until I had been at 3 minutes apart for at least an hour so that we wouldn't just get sent home again when we showed up at the hospital. That hour felt like the longest hour of my life. I hovered right around 2.5 to 3 minutes apart for what felt like forever before we got back in the car and drove back to the hospital, not even three hours after I had been sent home.

Once again, I was stubborn about not grabbing a wheelchair at the entrance. I wanted to keep walking to encourage things to keep moving on my way up to triage. About half way there, however, a couple of nurses and a doctor spotted me and Jon as I was going through a particularly rough contraction in the hallway, and they rushed over in a panic and forced me into a wheelchair and even insisted on taking me up to the birthing center themselves. Looking back on it, it was quite funny actually to see the difference in doctor and nurse's reactions that clearly didn't work in the maternity unit vs. those in the birthing center because when I was having contraction up on the maternity level no one even gave me a second glance.

Back in triage I was hooked back up to the monitors and then it was time to check my dilation again. I was so so scared. The nurse waited for a contraction to be done before checking and....THREE CENTIMETER'S DILATED! I was going to be allowed to stay! I burst out crying because I was just so ridiculously relieved that things were finally happening! I tried to play it cool and told the nurse that I wanted to try and go without meds for as long as possible. About four contractions later, before I had even been moved into my room, I told her I wanted the epidural. I wanted it now. As fast as possible. Please please please get me the epidural. Yup, I'm such a warrior.

I got admitted to a room and had to answer a bunch of questions and sign a bunch of papers through my contractions, and then needed to be checked out by a medical intern for dilation and effacement before they could issue me the epidural as they wanted to make sure I'd be staying before they shot me up with the drugs. When the intern checked me out, I had already moved up to 4.5 cm dilation, another 1.5 centimeters in under an hour. The nurse called for the epidural over the walkie, but didn't get a response. She shrugged and said, "Well, they probably heard me," and continued on with her paperwork. I wanted to kill her. Seriously. If I had had access to a quick and easy way to do so, and Jon hadn't been there to stop me, I probably would have done it.

Contractions are the absolute worst. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think. And that stupid freaking nurse just kept telling me to concentrate on breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. Screw you, lady! Side note here: Jon says this nurse was actually very nice and I'm sure she was, but I was having to dig my fingernails into my palms to keep myself from punching her in the face. After another half an hour or so with the anesthesiologist still not having shown up, I screamed through a contraction, "ARE WE SURE THEY GOT THE MESSAGE?! I NEED THE EPIDURAL!" I had been pretty nice and composed on the outside up until this point, so I think I freaked the nurse out a bit with my sudden outburst. She called over the walkie again and was told the anesthesiologist was on his way up.

I have never been so relieved to have a giant needle shoved into my spine in my entire life. I had a heck of a time holding still through my contractions so he could get the epidural in, but he told me I had done a good job and I felt almost immediate relief. It was amazing. I was so excited that I felt so much better and was so ready to take a nap! Unfortunately, it wouldn't last.

Within an hour, the strength of the contractions were pretty much back to where they had been early that morning, just not in my abdomen anymore, now it was all pressure downstairs. It was bad enough that I still couldn't sleep through the contractions (I was still getting one to two minute speed naps between contractions) and I either needed to squeeze the crap out of Jon's hand or, when I finally got him to take a nap, the railing of the bed to keep myself from yelling again. This went on for several hours despite me consistently pushing the button to up my dosage for my epidural (which P.S. no one told us that I even had a button like this, so for a while the epidural was almost all the way faded off again because I had no idea I was in charge of keeping it going).

There's not much to tell about the evening hours. I got a new nurse on the night shift who was absolutely incredible. She was also lucky enough to have gotten me post-epidural so this extreme favoritism towards her might be skewed. My family came and sat out in the waiting room pretty early on, despite me telling them to go home and rest as it could still be a very long time. I continued for hours and hours with the painful (though not as painful as pre-epidural) contractions and no sleep. I also remember being really hungry, but every time Jon or the nurse would bring me one of the things I was allowed to eat (popsicles, sherbet, broth, etc.) I wouldn't be able to focus through the pain to eat more than a few bites.

Something no one tells you is that the nurses don't continuously check to see how dilated you are unless you ask them to check. They kind of just let you be until your water breaks or you tell them that you're feeling the need to push. I was so terrified that I wouldn't know when it was supposed to happen though that I asked them to check every couple of hours. I sat around 8-9 cm dilated for several hours, and finally after my fourth or fifth time of asking the nurse to check me, she called in the doctor for her opinion on what we should do.

The doctor figured that since I had been so dilated for so long and seemed to have stopped progressing that it was probably because my water wasn't breaking that the baby's head couldn't move down further to fully dilate. We decided to break my water and get pushing. The doctor told me that as a first time mom with a vaginal birth, I could still expect baby to take another 3 hours or so of pushing to arrive. THREE HOURS? That sounded like a lot of work. But at around 2:40am I started in.

I never through the whole process ever felt a natural need to push, but the one plus of my epidural being so ineffective is that I could still feel every contraction coming so that I knew when I was supposed to be pushing at least. With each contraction I was told to inhale and then hold on to the breath as I pushed and counted to ten, then breathe out and repeat again. I'm not going to lie, pushing is no joke. Quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever done. Luckily I had such an amazing husband and an awesome nurse that were there by my side for every second and put up with all of my moaning, tons of questions, inability to follow directions (I kept wanting to breathe out immediately when I started pushing despite being corrected several times), and bad jokes between contractions. I was also unaware that the hospital sheet covering up the lower half of your body from view is only in movies. You quickly learn no shame during childbirth.

Photos Courtesy of 1708 Photography
Yup, I totally watched Tangled while I was pushing. Other favorites during labor included Fever Pitch, Little Mermaid, and The Holiday.

After a while, I started to notice that my last couple of pushes felt even more painful than usual and I literally felt like I was ripping apart when I would push. The nurse told me she could see the head and then called for the doctor on the walkie, "We need you in here, we're about to have a baby." Within seconds we went from just the three of us to an entire team of nurses, assistants, and the doctor who were quickly pulling equipment and bright lights out of the walls and ceiling. The doctor got down in front of me and started repeating some word I couldn't understand as I was pushing. I think she was only in there for two contractions before she told me to keep pushing even after my standard set of two counts of ten and then....there was a baby!

I can't believe how fast it went once the doctor was called in. There was tons of people and then POOF! Baby was here! Penelope AnnMarie entered the world at 4:01am after 25 hours of labor but only an hour and twenty minutes of pushing.

Photos Courtesy of 1708 Photography
Photos Courtesy of 1708 Photography
Photos Courtesy of 1708 Photography
The first couple of hours after Penny's birth are kind of a blur. Actually, more like snapshots. I can remember specific moments very clearly, but I don't remember much surrounding those moments. I remember being handed Penny the second after she was delivered. I remember that she was crying at first and almost instantly quieted once I was holding her. I, however, became a blubbering mess once I had her on my chest for the first time. Honestly, I was also partially crying due to the fact that the doctor was stitching me up (3rd degree tearing and 12 stitches) and my epidural was almost entirely worn off at this point so it hurt like crazy! I remember the nurse cleaning her off while she was in my arms, Jon being asked if he wanted to cut the umbilical cord, and Penny getting her first shots (where she once again resumed screaming and crying).  I remember my family coming in to see her and, soon after they left, Jon's parents driving over to the hospital to see her and to bring me a Diet Dr. Pepper, the one thing that I was craving more than anything after labor even though I'd eaten next to nothing in the past two days.

Photos Courtesy of 1708 Photography
After everyone had left, the nurse helped get me cleaned up (the preliminary mess had been cleaned by all of the staff right after the delivery and the rest had been covered up with blankets and sheets while our families came in to say hi) and then Penny and I took her first bath together. Then the nurse sent Jon off to figure out diapering and getting Penny dressed all by himself while she helped me out of the tub. ***Spoiler Alert: Jon learned a very important lesson that it matters which way you put the diaper on (tabs in back) because when he put the diaper on backwards I ended up with poop all over the front of my shirt a few hours later.***

Shortly after we were all squeaky clean, or as clean as we could possibly get after what had transpired earlier that morning, we were switched to a recovery room which was slightly smaller with a much less impressive view. We stayed in this room for the remainder of our stay, which consisted of a lot of visitors, a lot of getting checked in on by the nursing staff, and a lot of Jon being quickly thrown into parenthood as I could barely walk let alone do a lot of the changings and feedings by myself. We really didn't sleep much at all the entire two and half days we were there, but surprisingly we never really felt super tired. I guess we were just going on adrenaline.

When Jon did fall asleep at night, though, he fell asleep HARD. On the first night I literally thought he had died because the baby had woken up screaming to be fed and I was yelling for Jon, who was on the couch only a few feet away, at the top of my lungs and he didn't even bat an eye. I had to hobble out of bed and shake him by the shoulders before he woke up. I also learned how to master the skill of sleeping while sitting up in bed and holding Penny in my arms. I would completely pass out and then wake up freaking out that I had dropped her, but in actuality I had never moved a muscle. Pretty cool considering I normally toss and turn like a crazy person when I sleep. Mom instincts I guess :-)

By the end of our stay, we were actually really ready to go home and start adjusting to life with our gorgeous baby girl. All in all, we were super lucky and had a really positive experience throughout the entire process. The only real issue or negativity that we encountered was a rocky start to breastfeeding which I will write about in another post, but even that has worked itself out and Penny and I are both doing super well in that department now. Now, don't misunderstand me, labor and delivery are HARD. I still have nightmares about having to go through it again. But even a giant wimp like me got through it without ever saying I couldn't do it AND without pooping on the table. So there you go. I'd say that's success. And in the end, we got the most amazing, spectacular thing that has ever happened out of the deal. Seriously, this kid is incredible.

Professional Newborn Photos Courtesy of 1708 Photography