Sunday, December 29, 2013

Amy's birth story

Truthfully, I'm a bit daunted by writing this whole story down. It's long. And a little boring. Hell, I was even bored when it was going on. So, I'll try to truncate it here and there to see if I can make it more interesting. And shorter.

Okay. I wrote this angry post about being 41 weeks pregnant. And then later that day (like noonish), I started getting twinges. Nothing major, but definitely something I wanted to pay attention to. Before long, around 3PM or so, the twinges became real contractions, irregularly spaced, but real enough to call my mom and tell her that I may end up having a baby sometime that night and she may just want to stay over at our house. Three hours later she arrives... and my contractions completely stop. And stayed stopped. Ugh. So, I just picked up our evening routine and put the boys down with John and went to bed.

I woke up at 11PM to strongish contractions, which were pretty irregular, but close enough to warrant getting out my iPhone to time them. This continued on until around 3AM... and then they stopped again. By that point, I was ready for some sleep, so sleep I did... until Hank woke me up at 4:30AM as is his custom. Sad face.

The morning went as it usually does, except for my mom being there to get ready for her day of work. The boys and I had plans to go to a play date at a friend's house that morning, so I packed up our bag and got ready to go. As I was packing, the contractions started coming on again. But I wasn't about to miss out on a play date with some close friends where my boys would be occupied and I could keep my mind off the pain, so we went. Two hours later, contractions were about every 15 minutes and getting to the point that I couldn't talk through them. So we went home.

Just after we got home, my brother and his girlfriend, Crystal, came over. Crystal is an acupressure/massage therapist/Eastern medicine expert and I had asked her earlier in the week if she would come work on me and get this labor going. So she came over with her massage bed, spa sounds and magic fingers and really worked on me while my brother played with the boys. One hour later, the contractions were waaaaay stronger and about 10 to 12 minutes apart. Yay! Crystal said she was putting money on a 9PM birth, because at this point, I had to concentrate and breathe through the contractions, which were over a minute long.

John came home and helped me through them and then loaded up the car with our birthing essentials. By that time, we were just waiting for my mom, who left work a little early to get to our house before I pushed the baby out, since Hank came so fast. I called the midwife on call to let her know that we were going to be on our way, and unfortunately, my least favorite midwife was on call that night. Bummer. But I let her know what was going on and she said she'd be there.

Finally, my mom arrives... and my contractions stop. Again. This time I almost lost my ever-loving mind. By this point, my body feels pretty battered, especially my lower back, since I'd being dealing with long, strong contractions for a good portion of the last 36 hours. I was tired since I didn't get a lot of sleep the night before and because I'd been laboring all day. After a few tears, I called the midwife back to let her know that everything had stopped and we were not coming after all. To which she told me to have some water as that might stop the "cramping" I'd been dealing with. Cramps? CRAMPS?? It's a miracle I didn't shout her down over the phone. Luckily my doula, Kelsey, was much more positive when I told her the situation and she was able to keep me from losing it on the midwife.

Anyway. John tried to calm me down by reminding me that my body is obviously tired and needed a break, so I should rest and hopefully once I regained some energy, things would start back up. Which, of course, is not what I wanted to do. Not in the slightest. I wanted to have a friggin' baby and end this miserable pregnancy once and for all! But I didn't have many options since I couldn't exactly will myself into labor. So, John, my mom and I (okay, I didn't do squat) made dinner for the boys, put them to bed and "relaxed" for the evening in front of a movie. I "relaxed" with a heating pad on my lower back that soothed my muscles a little before hitting the hot tub to try to ease the soreness some more.

Fast forward to 11:30PM. More contractions. I had been asleep for about two hours and now my body was picking up where I left off that afternoon. I got out my contraction timing app and after one hour, the contractions were 90 seconds long and 10 minutes apart. My lower back was KILLING ME, so I woke up John and asked told him to rub my back during each contraction to make it bearable. After about an hour of that, Hank woke up and John had to go and deal with him, so I was left to labor alone. 30 minutes later, it was clear that John had fallen asleep in the boys' room, so I went downstairs to my mom's room and asked her to help me through the contractions. Thank goodness she was there! This labor was so different from my last one in that I was frigging exhausted, so I felt like each contraction took everything I had. But then another one would come on and I'd feel even worse after that. But the back rubbing helped.

Not long after I walked down to my mom's room, around 2AM, she suggested John and I get a move on since the contractions were now 8 minutes apart and still about 90 seconds long. I went upstairs and got John up, letting him know it was time to get going. I called the midwife and my doula to let them know that we were packing up. I changed into my "birth outfit" which consisted of a nightgown, yoga pants and black nursing bra then headed to the car, all the while dreading what lay before me. Laboring in the car isn't horrible, but it's certainly not a lot of fun. I like to labor on my side or on all fours, but neither position is really safe while in the car. Well, I needn't have worried because after I got into the car, my contractions slowed down and got way weaker. Then after fifteen minutes of driving, they picked back up again in intensity.

We made it to Best Start Birth Center with very little fanfare or commotion at 3AM. That's one nice thing about giving birth in the wee hours of the morning, the roads and birth center are deserted. I walked in, took one look at the midwife (I'm going to call her Agnes) and burst into tears. Not really sure why. I was in transition at this point and I already know that I cry like crazy in that last phase, but John suspects that I was really disappointed that Agnes was going to be delivering my baby. Or, apparently, that's what it looked like. Maybe he's right.

Anyway. I got checked and was at 7cm, but completely effaced and thus "stretchy" as Agnes put it, so I could get to 9cm if stretched out. But I still needed to do some work to get there. So Agnes retreated to another room to rest up for the final act while I labored for a while on the bed. Then I labored on a birth ball. Labored on the bed with the birth ball. But nothing was really comfortable. My lower back was on fire, even between contractions, and I just couldn't find a position a liked. I decided to try the bath to see if that helped. I got into the bath and the contractions slowed down. A lot. To the point that I was afraid we were going to have to leave since they might stop completely. So I got out and decided to put my clothes back on and walk circles around the birth center.

I told John to lie down and get some rest while Kelsey followed me around on my quest to get some contractions going. She was such an angel. I was downright crotchety with my start and stop labor plus being in transition for this long was making me even crankier. Oh, and don't forget that I've had approximately six hours of sleep in the last two days. Kelsey just kept smiling and trying to guess what I needed or wanted. She kept me hydrated and even attempted to get me to finish the banana I had started in the car... and wasn't put off when I gave her an angry hand gesture to indicate I wanted no part of the banana since I wasn't hungry and it was making me nauseated.

We continued like that for, oh, an hour or so. I'd have a big contraction that would last over a minute and would require every single ounce of concentration I had to stay relaxed and then I'd have two or three wimpy ones in the next 20 minutes. It was so frustrating. This was not the textbook, linear labor I had experienced with Hank. It was completely unpredictable and I was losing it. Finally, I asked Agnes to measure me again. This time I was at 9cm and could easily stretch to a 10. Agnes suggested that I start pushing on the big contractions to see if the baby's head could push me to a 10 and maybe jump start the pushing contractions. Okay. Jump start. Let's do this.

I headed back to the bathtub, waking John on the way and told him the plan. I got in the water but had the same problem from earlier: I couldn't get comfortable. I didn't want to be on my knees since the tub had a rough textured bottom, but I didn't want to sit since my legs felt cramped and leaning back was uncomfortable. Finally, John offered to get in the bath with me (he kept his underwear on, in case you were concerned) and sit behind me so I could sit in his lap. That worked well.

By this point, after all the walking and shifting of position, I was tired. And frustrated. And just hated my body for not doing what it was supposed to be doing. Plus Agnes was sitting right in front of me, like a vortex of all positive thoughts. (In Agnes's defense, she had already delivered a baby that shift and it was 5AM at this point; I imagine that would be enough to exhaust anyone.) I was crying and losing patience and kind of coming unglued. I was terrified that I would be too exhausted to give birth, which is a fear I had had this entire pregnancy, as I don't get much sleep EVER and this pregnancy was really an energy suck.

After a few uncomfortable and unnatural-feeling pushes during regular contractions, the nurse, Elizabeth, asked if I liked honey at all. I said that I do, and she got me a huge tablespoon full of honey to eat. I ate it without any question and, no joke, 30 seconds later, a huge pushing contraction came on. I pushed for about 15 minutes or so and out came the baby... Kind of. The head actually wasn't coming out as fast as anticipated, so Agnes felt around with her finger and was a little shocked to be grabbed by a tiny hand! Turns out there was a hand tucked up next to the baby's face, which was slowing things down. So, Agnes pushed the band back and out the baby came!

Agnes caught the baby and put her on my chest to stay warm. When I finally thought to check the sex, I held her up and noticed that she didn't have a penis, like I thought she did. The umbilical cord had looked a bit like a penis in the fleeting look I had gotten when she was pulled out of the water. But no! I had a baby girl! And everyone in the room was shocked. Floored, really. But definitely in a good way.

Amy Rose Durso was born at 5:45AM, Friday, November 22nd, thanks to a big tablespoonful of honey. Oh, and John and Kelsey helped, too. And Agnes. Kind of.

The whole thing was not what I expected, but it was all worth it because of this little face. Welcome to the world, Amy!

Ain't she purdy?
This is my doula, Kelsey. She is a rock star.

Birth euphoria. Drugs don't make you feel THAT good.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Johnny is 4!

Today we celebrated Johnny's FOURTH birthday. Well, it was the first celebration of the weekend, anyway. Before I had Amy, I talked with Johnny a lot about what he wanted to do for his birthday. I wanted to make sure that I had his birthday party mostly planned before throwing a newborn into the mix.

He decided he wanted a small party with some friends and a bounce house. Oh, and construction trucks. At first, he wanted a train birthday party, but then the winds of obsession shifted and he decided that construction trucks were the way to go. Planning his party this year was way more fun than previous years because he's been to enough birthday parties to know what it's all about. We went on Pinterest and picked out some cakes he liked so I could get an idea of what he wanted, which was a lot of fun to do together. I also asked him a lot of questions about what kind of a bounce house he wanted, what flavor he wanted the cake to be, if we should get pizza or something else... and he usually had preferences on these things. It was fun to put together a party that he had ideas about. :)

Luckily, his desires are pretty simple because there are some limitations to what I can accomplish with two rambunctious boys and a newborn. Bounce house, pizza, construction trucks, and a cake. I can handle that.

I told Johnny his cake could be any color he wanted. He chose pink.

Unfortunately, taking pictures was something I didn't even think about until it was time for cake. Whoops. So that's what I have for Johnny's 4th birthday thus far! We still have a celebration with family this weekend. Maybe I'll remember to take more pictures.