Saturday, October 30, 2010

Now it's the Mama's turn...

Usually when I'm getting ready to write a blog entry I will take a few minutes, look at the photos I've uploaded to use, and dive right in to composing my thoughts. Sunday usually seems to the be day of the week when I end up posting because there's usually a little more leisure time to get it done. I'm starting this entry on Saturday morning, with only hopes that I'll have it finished by tomorrow night. I sit here, looking at the photos that Will and I have taken over the last few days, and immediately my thoughts just turn into a whirlwind of emotions, reviewing every detail I can remember of the most important week of my life. I can't imagine how I'm ever going to capture all this using nothing more than the letters on my keyboard.

During my last blog entry I talked about our recent visits to the doctor, talks of induction, and our hesitation about that. On Monday, October 25th, Will & I returned to the OB office for another US to check on Henry and to see Dr. Woodall. Everything looked great on exam and on Henry's US. Again, talk of induction arose because we were slowly but surely creeping upon the 42 week mark. As much as I wanted to avoid induction, I knew that I would not want to go past 42 weeks because of increased risks for Henry- so an induction was scheduled for Thursday, October 28th, when I would have been 41 weeks 6 days pregnant. On Mondays visit, however, Dr. Woodall discovered that my cervix had further dilated over the weekend and that I was 80-90% effaced- this was very good news. I was hoping for some progression. Will and I, over the weekend, had walked and walked around the neighborhood, hoping to move things along. I had intermittent contractions Saturday but nothing steady. On Sunday night I had contractions about once every hour but they never got any closer. I had a feeling that Henry would come on his own without any help and the doctor even said that she didn't think I would make it to the induction. But with an induction scheduled, we left the office knowing that by the end of the week we would be meeting our son, one way or another.

Monday evening at about 4pm I began having some mild but regular contractions. One every 30-45 minutes or so. In the beginning they definitely got my attention but I could still function through them. Later that night I was unable to talk while they were occurring. I told Will to go ahead and go to bed, get some sleep so at least one of us would be rested, and I set up camp in the living room. I knew we would be headed to the hospital by the next day. I spent the night timing contractions, on all fours, working through the physical pain of what I knew was bringing me closer to meeting our son. I woke Will up the next morning around 6:30 or so. He was ready to take me to the hospital, but I was not ready yet. As he mentioned in his blog post, my greatest fear as a nurse was to get to the hospital and then be sent back home because I hadn't progressed far enough. So we both took showers, he ate breakfast and walked the dogs, and we waited. The contractions got closer and at about 9:30 I told Will that I was ready to go to the hospital. I had been in labor for about 17 hours at this point. He quickly obliged and off we went.

Once we arrived and got checked in, my nurse did a cervix check. I was already dilated to 5cm- whew! I had also decided, by this time, that I was ready to eat my own words about not getting an epidural. My sister in law, Robyn, had both my niece and my nephew without any meds. Let me just say, after experiencing labor, that I cannot express how hardcore I now know that she is. I was just exhausted from the contractions, so the staff proceeded with IV line, epidural, monitors- the works. Once the epidural kicked in, it was an entirely different experience. Will and I spent the next several hours talking and he took so many amazing photos to help us remember our day. Henry's day.

Later that evening Dr. Osburn broke my water when I was dilated to 8cm. The nurses changed shifts, and the night shift nurse arrived. I knew Julie would be the nurse who welcomed Henry into the world. I loved her. She and the other nurse, Keisha, who took care of us that night were absolutely amazing. At about 9pm Julie checked my cervix and said that I was fully dilated. We were ready to begin "laboring down" (pushing some during contractions to move Henry down the birth canal) and then, once things progressed, she would call Dr. Osburn. I didn't feel any pain at all during this process, which totally amazes me. It was amusing to watch from my perspective. I couldn't see what was going on down there, but I would see Julie say "Will, look!" as she showed him Henry's head making brief appearances while I pushed. Will's face was amazing and just glowed with excitement. If I hadn't already been sure he was going to be the best father ever, I would have known it for sure then.

Dr. Osburn was called to the delivery room at about 9:30pm. It seemed so surreal to see her come in and gown up- ready to bring our son out into the world. There was no turning back now! So we started to push, and push, and push. Will was amazing. He supported my neck, held my left leg, and absolutely looked like a kid at Christmas. Dr. Osburn discovered that Henry was in a face up position in the birth canal, which can make delivery much harder. We also saw that he was beginning to have some significant drop in his heart rate while I was pushing. I couldn't see the drops on the monitor, but I could hear every one of them (curse of a medical background) and it was terrifying. I could see Dr. Osburn change gears- every decision she made was with a sense of urgency. I knew we had to get him out- and quickly. There is NOTHING that will motivate you to push like hearing your son's heart rate dropping on a monitor, and knowing that if you don't get him out, it could be very very bad. I pushed like my life depended on it- because baby Henry's life did depend on it. They told me later that with babies in that position it usually takes 3 hours of pushing to get them out. We pushed for 25 minutes.

It was amazing to see him for the first time. It's impossible to describe the sense of immense relief that we both felt when we saw him, and heard him cry for the first time. He was here. He was healthy. We could breathe again. Since it was so late at night we didn't have to worry about visitors, and Will and I spent the next several hours just staring at our son. Amazing. We're still doing it, as I'm sure all new parents do.

I don't think the reality of being parents hits until you get home. You walk in the door, look at each other, look at the baby, and think "Holy Crap, what do we do now?". Henry has shown us. He has taken the lead role in this expedition, and has shown us what he needs and when he needs it. Sometimes we're a little slow, and it takes us a minute to figure it out, but eventually we catch on. Will has been amazing since we got home- cooking, laundry, and just basically taking care of me while I take care of Henry. I can't imagine doing this without him by my side. And the way he just beams when he looks at our son- that makes my heart melt.

So I'm going to post a link to the photos that Will and I took, for any of you who want to see more than the ones posted here. As I said, they are amazing photos. Will couldn't have done a better job capturing the most important experience of our lives.

Click HERE to go to the complete photo album. Here are a few of my favorites. OK, OK, maybe more than a few...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Henry's Birth - A Daddy's Point of View

So this week's entry comes from Will instead of Angela. Yes, you can 'switch off' if you want :-). For those who are still here, the reason I'm writing here is that I wanted to write Henry's birth from my point of view. I'm no great writer - I'm certainly not as good at this as Mummy Angela, but still - Henry may one day read this and maybe it will be good for him to hear from his daddy at this wonderful occasion. I hope you enjoy…..Will xxxx

One Moment. That's what it comes down to. One Moment.

Awoke at 7am after Angela had a rough night. She was up all night struggling with never ending contractions. What an amazing woman. Really, amazing. To endure that much pain, through the night with no sleep without complaint, without shouting and screaming at the world. Amazing. In fact, she came into the bedroom at 7am (after having me sleep for the night to be 'fresh') to not complain but state, in a stressed but calm voice, 'Will…….Can you take the dogs out and feed the cats? Gus is REALLY annoying." See….amazing woman.

I went into 'nesting mode' whilst Angela rode the waves of pain. Got everything ready and tried to stay out of Angela way. I know that most people might be underfoot, but I considered it and thought it was best to quietly be in the background and let my cheek cheek just 'be'.

At around 9:15am, after getting ready and bathing Angela said 'Will - I think I'm ready to go to the hospital".

It was a gray day as we drove to the hospital. It was really windy and wet all night. Perfect day for a baby.

After checking in at the ER we were brought upstairs to room 229. Henry's room.

The next two hours were a flurry of activity. IV's, blood works, Cervix check (engage guy disturbal mode..) - the works. At first, Angela was worried that we had come to the hospital too soon. Every nurses nightmare, apparently. After being told that she was dilated to 4 to 5, all worry of that went away. We came at the right time.

After about an hour and a half, Katie (the superhero according to Angela) administered the epidural. Sitting up, Angela had a needle inserted into her spine. Into her SPINE, Henry! All to help your arrival. Halfway through the procedure the weather turned….Tornado watch led to a Tornado warning led to Angela's bed being moved from the window. Perfect day to meet our boy.

After so much activity (both inside the hospital and out) - the storms cleared, literally and figuratively - the Tornado warning passed, the light were dimmed and then it was just the parents to be. Angela was in good spirits, not wanting to sleep. Excited. She moved from a 4-5 to a 6 within an hour. By 1pm she reached a 7. Does this mean he's coming?….No…..more waiting.

One moment.

Throughout the course of the afternoon, we sat, talked, laughed and waiting to become parents. Angela didn't sleep at all. Over 24 hours without sleep. What a trooper.

At 4:45pm, Doctor Osburn arrived. After checking Angela (she's was an 8) she discussed and broke Angela's water at 4:50pm. Daddification imminent…..

One moment to remember forever.

7:15pm - some activity. The nurses changed shift and the nursery nurse arrived and started preparing Henry's 'table'. All this preparation for the arrival for our boy.

8pm. Angela was placed in the 'Magic Position'. Basically, Angela's left leg was placed in a stirrup whilst facing toward the right. It made her look as if she was freeze framed in the middle of a particular nifty Karate move. Ninja Momma.

And the cogs and wheels of the universe continue to align to bring us ever closer to meeting our little boy....

Changing positions at 8:30pm and things still looked good. Waiting is just part of the deal...

At around 9pm, Angela was sat straight up to allow Gravity to do it's work. She kinda looked like Captain Picard. Henry….Set course for Earth.....Engage…..

9:30pm. Pushing began…..

The most surprising thing was that it all began so quiet. I had expected big, bright lamps….doctors running around in gowns, nurses watching the 'beep beep' machine you see in movies (I'm told it's really called EKG Machine, but I like my name for it better). However, it began with Angela, me and two of the sweetest nurses you could possibility of asked for. No glamour, no commotion, just the most natural process in the world.

I held Angela's feet and supporting her neck whilst she pushed….and pushed. With each push, I actual found myself holding my breath and doing 'virtual pushing'. Weirdo.

At first, I'd see the sight of his little head appear and then, like a wack-a-mole, he would disappear from view. This continued for 15 minutes, until the doctor arrived. Doctor Osburn suited up,calmly took her place for the final act of this wonderful drama.

Push….after push…Henry would appear……then disappear. Doctor Osburn was gently, but firmly encouraging his head….but still he wouldn't come. Stubborn little guy.

Of course, as he started to appear - cause of the 'cone head' effect, the part of Henry's head I could see was like looking at the top of a golf ball. Stupid daddy was thinking 'Wow - he really IS small if that's the top of his head'. I blame tiredness. Everyone else just thinks I'm a thickie.

Then, at 12 minutes past 10 in the evening with a final push (and pull from Doctor Osburn) Henry William Zuill began the journey of life. The experience was - well, indescribably amazing. Trying to, just simply wouldn't do it justice. The circle of life in all it's glory.

Henry was quickly cut from his mother and, yelling like a banshee, put on his mother's chest. Waves of emotion washed over both Angela and myself. Both quietly sobbing, so very happy we had been blessed to have a healthy, beautiful boy.

Next few moments were a blur of activity - photos, weighing, checking, cleaning, wrapping and finally - baby back in mummy's arms. Then, like a circus leaving town, everything was packed and cleaned away - leaving our little family in peace and quiet to begin our journey together.

Much later - laying in a makeshift bed - I spent the wee hours of the morning, not sleeping - trying to re-live the moment that changed my life forever. I saw life begin today....and it all came down to one moment. A moment I'll never forget.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 282...

Our boy totally ignored his eviction notice. Apparently Hotel Henry has much more lush accommodations than I had imagined and he just can't be persuaded to leave. So here we are- week 41, day 2.

We had a visit to the doctor on Thursday. Everything still looked great. My BP was 104/72, weight gain around 21#, Henry is still measuring right where he should be and his heart rate sounded perfect.

The American College of Gynecology defines the length of normal pregnancy to be from 38-42 weeks. I'm technically not overdue for another 5 days. However, many doctors (including mine) get nervous when pregnancies threaten to go past the 41 week mark, and I found myself during the appointment being strongly urged to consent to an induction the next day (which would have been 10-22-10).

Will and I knew we were going to be facing this decision before going into the office that morning. Our doctor had already mentioned that they would let me go to 41 weeks with no problem. She had also said that they would (apparently begrudgingly) allow me to go to 42 weeks, but would want some additional testing done to confirm that conditions in my uterus were still okay for Henry.

When you work in the medical field there is constant exposure to what the wonders of modern medicine can do. Interventions cure disease, they save lives, and it's a wonderful sight to behold. BUT- I feel like so many times, medicine interferes when nature should just be allowed to take it's course. We, as a whole, are not a society who likes to take a "wait and see" approach. This at least partially contributes to the record number of inductions and c-sections that are performed every year.

I don't want Henry's birth to be an experience of forcing nature before it's ready to occur, and I definitely don't want to make a decision to induce if there is no medical indication that Henry would benefit from it. Inductions, while generally without complication, can increase a person's risk of having to undergo a c-section by 2-3 times. Often times inductions lead to harder labors, can cause fetal distress, and can lead the way for a "cascade of interventions" to have to occur- things such as artificial rupture of membranes (breaking the water), pitocin, epidurals, c-sections, etc.

So, with all that considered, Will and I have decided to go the way of the "expectant management" route. We went in the next day for a biophysical profile, which is an ultrasound where they look at Henry's movement, breathing efforts, and the amount of amniotic fluid. Everything looked fine. They estimate that he is right now about 7 pounds 11 ounces. We will go back in tomorrow for another ultrasound and a visit with the doctor- IF young Henry doesn't make his arrival before then. We honestly feel that we've made the right decision for our son but can't help but allow that seed of doubt to creep in. Did we do the right thing? Will Henry be okay in there? It's going to make for a very worrisome next few days. If he hasn't come by tomorrow then we will be scheduling an induction for later on in the week, near the 42 week mark (because there are increased risks for Henry once we pass 42 weeks).

Over the past 48 hours I've been having intermittent contractions. I'm pretty sure that on Thursday, during my cervix check, the doctor attempted to "strip my membranes" which can sometimes stimulate labor. Maybe it worked. Last night the contractions were pretty regular and increasing in intensity for a couple of hours, but then tapered off. Pretty disappointing, but maybe things are just getting warmed up. We're about to head out to go walk for a couple of miles and see if that helps to move things along.

So, as always, thanks for checking in on us, and we'll keep you posted. Hopefully our Henry has already picked a day for check-out and will be here with us soon!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hurry up and wait...

October 15th came. October 15th went.

Henry has made it clear that he is on his own schedule- not his Mama & Daddy's. I seriously cannot imagine who he gets this stubborn streak from but I suspect it's from his father. As of today we are 40 weeks and 2 days into this pregnancy. I really thought at this point we would be snapping pictures of Henry, not of me in all my gigantic glory, but alas...

All things considered, I still really can't do that much complaining. I really feel pretty good for a lady who is 10 months pregnant. Yes, 10 months- that's the same thing as 40+ weeks right? Everything looked great at the doctor's office a few days ago. Weight gain still hanging around 20# and blood pressure was great. My doctor said they will let me go to 41 weeks with no problems, and will be willing to let me go to 42 weeks but will want me to have some additional testing done to make sure things are still cool for Henry in the womb. Obviously if they tell me we need to induce for valid medical reasons I'll do it, but otherwise it's something I really want to avoid. I'd rather just let nature, and Henry, take their course.

In the meantime we're just waiting. All of my 'nesting' is done. Remember those stools I reupholstered for our kitchen? Well, certain members of our family have put them to good use.

I've been off from work for almost 2 weeks now. I started my leave the week before Henry's due date just in case he arrived early. Looks like I could have just kept myself on the schedule! I'm starting to get a little bit bored but at the same time I'm just trying to enjoy this leisure time while I have it. The weather has been gorgeous and we go out and walk the dogs often (sometimes a couple of miles at a time) and just soak it up while we can.

This weekend all of our favorite neighbors got together for what was termed "Smokers in the Alley". Basically it was another opportunity for all the guys to drag out their grills and cook a lot of meat. My friend, and neighbor, Anne referred to it as "Meat Fest 2010". I think her terminology might have been more accurate. The weather was absolutely perfect, the food was delicious and the conversation was abundant. Will was on his own taking photos because getting up and down out of my lawn chair was not high on my list of priorities. He got so many great photos to document the event. My photography "student" has definitely surpassed me on the skill level. I'm so proud!

So that's really about all I have for this week. Will and I are just waiting for Henry. Everybody is waiting. Even Layla has a look of anticipation- either that or she's really embarrassed about the Halloween bows she was cursed with at the groomer's yesterday. I'm not sure which.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And in the words of Europe...

It's the final countdown.

We officially have 5 days left until Henry's appointed due date. Of course, in the world of pregnancy, the actual due date means nothing, especially since I'm sure Henry's not sitting around in utero checking his calendar to make sure he's not late. As of today, we are 39 weeks and 2 days along. Tuesday was my last official day of work prior to my maternity leave. I decided to take off about a week before our due date just in case Henry decided to come early, and to give me a few days to finish getting things ready for the boy's arrival. And please believe me when I say I have been in serious nesting mode. During my first full day off from work, I think Will was ready to send me back to the clinic. It's possible that it had something to do with me trying to clean off his desk while he was trying to work at his desk. But who knows? Regardless, I did manage to get a lot of things done, including finishing framing and hanging photos taken by Sarah B. Gilliam. Thanks Sarah, for providing such lovely wall decor!

I'm still feeling pretty good. Naturally I'm more tired and I've been having a lot more low back pain (which usually just gets me excited, thinking things might be "stirring"). Weight gain is still hanging around 19-20#. No swelling. Heartburn, restless legs, and Henry's hiccups are my daily companions, but are a small price to pay for the prize at the end of this race.

Yesterday Will and I went down to Pulaski to meet up with my family at the Pumpkin Patch. The weather was beautiful, although a bit warm for October at almost 90 degrees, and the kids had a great time. I did conclude by the end of the field trip, however, that when you're 39 weeks pregnant and going to a pumpkin patch, perhaps selecting an orange shirt as part of one's attire might cause your appearance to become eerily similar to your surroundings.

Cohen and Ella Grace had a big time wandering among pumpkins and riding trains (which were motored in true Pulaski fashion).

Cohen also displayed his generous spirit by sharing his popcorn with me.

Seconds after he shoved his entire salty little hand in my mouth, I realized that was the same hand that moments ago was taking part in this activity:

Nothing like a little sheep flavored popcorn to wrap up a trip.

Here are a few more photos from our day yesterday. Hope you enjoy them and check back soon~ hopefully it won't be too long before the blog has it's biggest news EVER!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Caution: Nesting Underway!!

Despite the fact that I only "worked" 16 hours this week, I have nearly worked my fingers to the bone. I'm pretty sure that I have become an innocent victim of the syndrome known as nesting. Will had to be in Detroit for work the first 3 days of the week so I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I spent nearly one entire day lounging. During the other two I kept myself overly busy completing my self-inflicted honey-do list. Doing things that, when I looked at them, I thought "If I don't do this now...". So I've been painting closet shelving, upholstering barstool seats, and patching drywall nicks.

They say it's hard to find good help these days, but I did manage to scrape some up. Gus was kind enough to be my "test sitter" and evaluate the comfort level of the upholstery material. He gave it two paws up.

Just as I expected, the Tennessee weather went from being in the 90s to being in the low 70s in what seemed like 24 hours flat. No gradual progression here. And while I was hoping for a week or two of weather in the low 80s, I'll still take it. The arrival of fall has stirred new pregnancy cravings- for pumpkin candles and homemade chicken stew. I satisfied both cravings almost immediately.

Anybody who knows Will and me, knows that I am definitely not the chef in this house. However, I can whip up a mean pot of chili or chicken stew. With Will being gone I had tons of leftovers, so based on previously received advice, we now have individually portioned stew in the freezer ready for nights of sheer exhaustion.

Will says that he has been nesting too. Male nesting? This was a new one to me. As it turns out, male nesting (at least at our house) consists of cleaning up your car and getting new tires. Oh, and making necessary repairs to our Halloween cauldron.

So as of today, Henry and I are 38 weeks and 2 days into the pregnancy. While I've still managed to so far avoid the dreaded stretch marks or swollen ankles, over the past couple of days I've begun to have quite a bit of lower back pain. I'm also pretty sure I've been having some Braxton Hicks contractions. Since both of these things lead me to believe that my body is getting ready to introduce me to baby Henry, I really don't mind too badly. Weight gain is about 19 pounds. Henry is still very active, throwing elbows like a pro wrestler. He is now approximately the size of a 7 pound watermelon. Here are a couple of pictures that Will took this week.

That last picture is the one I'm proudest of. You want to know why? You know you want me to tell you. Because those jeans I'm wearing- those are my regular jeans. Still able to wear them with the help of a little rubber band extension at the waist line. Folks, this may be my second biggest accomplishment of this entire pregnancy. My biggest accomplishment will be when I successfully deliver a healthy baby boy.

Thanks for catching up with us, and we'll be sure to keep you updated!