Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Lincoln's Birth Story

 I chose to use a midwife for the second time because I loved my experience with Desmond. I love that they let you be in charge and will let you go much further over your due date than most OBGYN providers. (Long pregnancies run in the family... I mean my sister had to be induced 2 days before her due date to TWINs who were 7 and 8 pounds!) BUT! at the beginning of my third trimester I started to suffer from over-production of the pregnancy hormone relaxin. This was making my (already weird) hips to separate too much, too fast. It was painful. It affected everything.. sitting, standing, walking, laying. So when my due date started to loom close I was SOO done. I scheduled an induction for 1 week past my due date.

The morning before my scheduled induction I woke up, swung my legs to the side of the bed, put my feet on the ground, and stood up. I then tried to lift one foot up to take a step, and I simply could not. There was no tension in my hips, they were totally separated. I tried for about five minutes (and I super had to pee, haha) and then I just started sobbing. Jerry woke up and thought I was in labor.. I wish. He carried his 9 month pregnant whale wife to the toilet. I then had a complete melt down. How could I ever have a baby naturally if I couldn't even walk?!?

After a few hours of feeling reallllly sorry for myself, I decided I should probably let my midwives know, just in case. I knew there was nothing they could do, and I knew the baby was fine. I called in and they told me to go to the hospital triage immediately just to be sure baby was okay. My mom told me to bring my hospital stuff, just in case. I scoffed at her. There was no way I was having the baby. But I brought the stuff just in case. O, and I curled my hair and put on make-up, just in case, haha.

After a few hours of monitoring, it was confirmed that I was not in labor and that baby was healthy. But, it just so happened that it was a slow day, so the-powers-that-be decided to just keep me and induce me! Mom's always right. I was very surprised and so excited to get that baby out of me and have my legs back!

Around 2:30 pm I started my first round of gels. I felt some contractions, but they were very manageable. I progressed a cm! But my cervix was still super high, and still posterior. 5 pm started my second dose of gels. Didn't feel too much, didn't progress. 7:30 pm started my last round of gels. Felt a lot. progressed some. Baby came down a little and I was to 5 cm.

Around 10pm the midwives decided to break my water. My contractions became real immediately. My mom and Jerry would both hold my hands and I would just try to relax through my contractions but they KILLED. Like some sort of alien was burrowing through my body. I could feel baby descending each contraction with immense force. Like someone was dropping a bowling ball from 10 feet up and it was landing inside of me.

My contractions were random and irregular. I would get 3 in a row with about 20 seconds rest between and and then nothing for 4 minutes. It was so different from my first two birthing experiences, because even when I wasn't contracting I was still in significant pain and discomfort.

After a half-hour the midwife checked me and I was to a 7, but my cervix was still oddly high and still posterior, which seemed to concern the staff. 

I then started to have the urge to push. I told the midwives that I wanted to, to which they told me it wasn't time. But I seriously couldn't not push. I would just slightly push and that would help calm my body down.

After a few half-pushes, the baby started to be in distress. His heartbeat would go super low during contractions and wasn't recovering very well during rest periods either. With every contraction it got more and more dire. Within ten minutes I had about 10 nurses in my room, and, as much as they were trying to keep a calm demeanor, the hasty whispers and panicked faces told me this was not good. The nurses were trying to get me into new positions to help get oxygen to the baby, and being completely unable to move my legs made this impossible. Suddenly I had an oxygen mask on and nurses sternly telling me I need to MOVE. NOW. BABY NEEDS OXYGEN. And I couldn't move. It was the most stressful experience I have been in. I felt totally unable to assist my child, and was as the mercy of the hospital staff to do what I could not do myself for the wellbeing of my child. At this point my midwife calmly told me that the surgeon had just arrived at the hospital and my operation table was being prepped. Not what I wanted to hear.

The midwife checked my progress and told me, I needed to get this baby out. NOW. So with the next contraction I pushed as hard as I could. With the next, I started to push and was told to STOP! Which, when you are in full labor, is really really hard. Like having a bite of the most satisfying chocolate cake you've ever had and being told mid- swallow to throw up. When I would stop pushing my midwife was manipulating my (still posterior) cervix. Although I was almost fully dilated, it was still thick and folded around  some edges amd she was trying to rotate the cervix to the birthing position. I have no concept of how long this PUSH! (BECAUSE YOUR BABY IS ABOUT TO DIE) and STOP PUSHING! went on for, probably 5 minutes, but it felt like 45. I then delivered baby's head. If you have ever seen a birth you know that once the head is out the rest of the body just follows. But not Lincoln. Babies turn as they come out, but Lincoln was still straight on. His linebacker shoulders wanted to come out together, instead of one after another. So after more cervix manipulation and an impossibly hard and long push that almost made me black out, Lincoln was born.

They placed him on me. It was the biggest sense of relief. He was significantly purple so they thought he was low on oxygen, but it was just that his whole face was completely bruised from descending so quickly. My (amazing) midwife made some sort of comment about how that baby was too stubborn and dramatic. I felt immediately defensive and just so in love with this baby. He was here. Safe. And he was perfect. Although I was so happy to have my baby, my body and mind began to be in shock. I was shaking and bawling uncontrollably. I had just gone through a traumatic experience and I didn't know how to cope.

About 25 minutes post-delivery I still hadn't delivered my placenta. I tried nursing Lincoln to spark some contractions. I tried just pushing without a contraction. 35 minutes post-delivery my room was once again filled with nurses and doctors and they hurriedly whispered to each other trying to decide what the next step was. They told me that they were going to start an IV. Although I had no pain medication for delivery I was given no choice for whatever they were about to do next to deliver my placenta. Another ten minutes passed, my IV was in, and my midwife and a doctor were quietly consulting in the corner. I was filled with absolute fear. I said a desperate, silent prayer. I felt a small contraction start to approach. I pushed as hard as I could muster. I tiredly announced, "It's out."

After you deliver a baby the nurses push hard on your empty womb checking for hemorrhaging. My phenomenal nurse started pressing and I could tell it was clear that something was not right. She informed the midwife that she thought she felt blood clots and she was ready to remove them. She firmly felt around my stomach and then found a spot she liked and then basically punched me. A baseball-sized blood clot popped out and traveled two feet away, reaching my feet on the table. She did this 6 times. It was seriously freaky. And once again my room was filled with worried and busy hospital staff assessing my condition. They concluded I was in no immediate danger but that my blood levels needed to be closely monitored.

I will spare you the blow-by-blow details of the following 24 hours. But it was a miracle. My blood levels barely moved. I didn't have any damage or tearing. My bleeding was the expected amount. Despite a traumatic birth, Lincoln's sugar levels were great. He nursed very well. His bruising cleared up by the time we went home. And I WALKED from my hospital bed to my hospital bathroom.

I am so grateful I had the midwife I had at delivery. During prenatal care, she was my least favorite midwife of the group, but she was exactly who I needed. She was able to force my body to do what it was refusing to do. She was confident and encouraging. There was another midwife who was shadowing her and she seemed in awe of what my midwife was able to accomplish. I have a new-found sympathy and a speck of understanding of why unplanned c-sections are difficult experiences for so many women. Bringing a baby into this world is no joke, and when the experience involves any sort of emergency treatment, it is terrifying. It is a type of horror I will not soon forget, but it does make me hold my kids a little tighter.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five Years!

So this blog over the past few years has really been boiled down to documenting only really important events, and this post is no different!
Five years ago I said, "yes," across an alter in the temple of the Lord to spend eternity with Jeremiah. I had only known him for eight months, but I had never been more sure of any decision in my life than to marry him. 
There was a huge snow storm the day we were married. It was beautiful.

We have been through the thick and the thin together, but I know even happier and harder times are ahead of us. I feel immensely grateful everyday that I get to experience this existence with Jerry by my side. We really have made a good team!
So here are ten pieces of marriage advice that I can give, now that I am an expert. Some of these things I have painfully learned, some of these are things we implemented from the beginning, all of these things Jerry is much better at than I. :)

How to stay happily married for (at least) 5 years

1. Humility
This is definitely number one.
Okay, so I wrote out a huge explanation of this, but I will leave it to this:
Ask to be forgiven right away
Don't harbor ill-feelings
Know that your spouse isn't trying to hurt you (not everything is about you!)

2. Forgiveness

3. Don't sweat the small stuff
For realsies. Sometimes Jerry will do something that drives me BONKERS. But I have made a policy for myself: If it is something that really is just a habit or personality trait that is not harming me, or essentially bad, then I don't say anything. I pray to not let it bother me. And nine times out of ten, the annoyance passes and it becomes something that I love about him. I have seen quite a few relationships where there was constant communication about what annoys you about the other person and constant compromise. I feel like that would just squash someone's spirit. To be told that the way they do things, or how they were raised, or their inherent personality is wrong , bad, annoying could crush a person. And I married Jerry as-is. Not as a placeholder for what I imagined him as.

4. Communication
This goes with #1. The most important thing about this is to communicate your wants and needs. Your spouse can't read your mind. Don't play games trying to get your spouse to fulfill your desires. Tell them. examples: "Hey, I know it doesn't look like it, but I have worked really hard today at trying to keep the house clean. Can you compliment me on my hard work?" or "I'm feeling grumpy. Can you pick me up a Dr. Pepper on the way home?" or "I'm stressed. I would really like it if you would help me cook, that would help me feel less stressed." (okay, all of those are real life examples from the past month, haha)

5. Make spirituality an integral part of your marriage.
Pray together. Read scriptures together. Talk about God together. Every day.

6. Never speak badly of one another.

7. Go to bed at the same time.

8. Make goals together. Achieve them together.

9. Have hobbies and activities you do together. Have your own hobbies and activities you do apart.
10. Be generous in compliments and sweet nothings :)

I'm sure there is more, but this is what is coming to mind this morning. 

I love you, Jerry. You have made me better. Thanks for making me laugh and letting me cry. Thanks for being patient and understanding. I never knew marriage could be this fun and fulfilling. I'm glad we have eternity together!

11. Marry a model.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Desmond's birth story

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling pretty miserable. I had spent a few hours the day before on the ground reupholstering chairs so my back was killing me. I also did not sleep very well for the first time in weeks. So I attributed my discomfort to those things. I texted Jerry and my mom, "fyi I am feeling a little crampy today. But it could totally not be labor." Then, of course, my mother called me all excited thinking I was about to push a baby out.
After a failed attempt to nap, I spent my afternoon at my parents' house helping my mom watch my niece and nephews. I went to bed feeling pretty decent. Although Jerry and I did stay up later than usual getting stuff done around the house.
I woke up a few minutes after 1 am from some weird dreams. I was dreaming that my stomach was filled with curtain rod ends and they were vibrating and really causing pain. After a few minutes of contemplating the reality of my dream, I realized that I was actually feeling bona fide contractions! I tried to go back to sleep because I thought I was probably still in early labor, and I was also quite tired. After about 10 minutes of laying in bed and having multiple painful contractions, I realized that I was in real labor. So I got up and called the midwives to let them know I would be coming in sometime that day. As I gathered a few things together for the hospital, I would have to stop during my contractions to really concentrate on relaxing. Actually, it was odd--I would feel my lungs sort of collapse and all the air would leave my body before I would start to feel the pain of a contraction. So then I would have to play catch-up with my breath. Once I noticed this pattern though, I was able to pay closer attention and be better prepared for each contraction.
I decided to take a shower to help me relax and pass the time. I came up with a little system to help me through each contraction. And I know this is going to sound weird, but it was actually a little fun! Between my contractions I would think of what I would do during the next contraction to test what helped me the best. In the end what helped the most was to sing through certain phrases from a Debussy song cycle, picturing my baby coming down with each contraction. As long as I started relaxing in time, this method really worked.  A lot of my contractions were pretty much pain free.
I finally got out of the shower and told Jerry I thought we were going to have to leave soon. So he got up and ate and got his hospital stuff ready and tried to call my parents to let them know.
Just before heading to the hospital. 40 w 5 d
My contractions really took a turn at this point. I called the midwives and Janice told me to come to the hospital. Before we left, Jerry gave me a priesthood blessing, and I felt really good about what I knew was about to come.
We dropped Liana off at my parents' and then started our 10-minute trip to the hospital. I had 4 or 5 contractions on the car ride, and as we were walking in the E.R. to check in, I did the math and realized my contractions were probably less than 2 minutes apart and I knew I was going to be pushing soon. While we were checking in I started to lose it during my contractions. In retrospect, I was about to transition. When we got to the triage, I really lost it during my contractions, and I was in full transition. Of course, I thought this in my head, but didn't tell anyone because I didn't want to sound demanding or be wrong. The nurse forcefully reminded me to breathe through my contractions, and I was able to get through better. Janice came in and checked me. I was 7 cm. Then they did a quick ultrasound to makes sure the baby was head down. Just as they were wheeling me to my labor room I started having some serious pain. I started to slightly push to see if that would ease the pain, and it did. When I got to the room I told the nurse that I wanted to push and she ran to get Janice.
Oh, I should probably mention that by the time I got to the triage room I couldn't look at anyone or anything, I was covering my face with my hands.I probably looked like I was terrified, but I was having serious over-stimulation and needed to block out the light.
Janice came in and I told her I wanted to push. She said I was at a 9. I am so grateful that I had a midwife that let me push before I was completely dilated or before my water broke. It would have been pure torture to have to wait. So on the first push my water broke which relieved a lot of pressure. No one had to tell me how to push or when to push. I just knew what to do.. which really was an incredible feeling. With each new contraction I would start to bear down and.. scream.. like really scream. Sometimes my scream was super crazy high, and some times it was a groggy grumbling scary painful scream, but both were very, very loud (I mean, I am an opera singer!). And I was so self aware at just how insane I sounded. I kept on apologizing to the staff because I was really quite embarrassed, and I felt terrible for any other laboring mothers on the floor who had no choice but to listen to me. But I couldn't not scream. It reminded me of going down the big steep water slide at Seven Peaks and getting to the bottom and all the friends I was with telling me that my scream echoed and was super loud. But I had tried really hard not to scream on the slide! It was involuntary.
Anyway, I was screaming and pushing and all the while covering my face, and I felt like my body was literally splitting in two. And I knew that I was going to have a human baby, but I kept on picturing that I probably was feeling a lot like the big alien in Independence Day who has a slightly less big alien rip out of it. In between the contractions I was deliriously happy and just so so excited knowing that I was going to see my son any minute.
After about 10 minutes in the labor room I heard Janice hastily say, "Dad, do you want to come catch the baby?" And then, "okay you better get down here now!!!" Then a little push later, I took my hands off my eyes, looked down, and saw Jerry holding our new, pink, crying son. I felt so intensely happy, but also I think I was in shock. I was expecting an experience so different from what had just happened that it did not seem real. I wanted to cry, but my adrenaline was still going strong and was not letting me. They placed Desmond on my stomach for ten or fifteen minutes, and then I delivered the placenta, Jerry cut the cord, and then Desmond nursed like a champ! Later Janice came back in to check me out and I thought for sure I was going to be a torn up mess (like the big alien), but I only had two very minor tears that didn't even bleed or need stitching. 
30 minutes after delivery. Happy!

For the first hour or so after delivering I still felt like crap in the nether-regions. And nursing Desmond gave me contractions again, which I knew would happen, but still really annoyed me. But overall his birth was amazing. It was thrilling. It was.. fun. I know that is crazy, but it was so satisfying in a totally unexpected way. It made me feel like yelling (in a ghetto-angry-way), "BOOM. Yeah! I BIRTHED that baby!" But I resorted to just a lot of, "O my gosh! I can't believe it!"s. 

Unlike after my first birthing experience I was able to walk and it didn't phase me at all, and I was able to pee without really having to concentrate. Also, I wasn't a hungry-hungry-hippo this time. Probably because I didn't have to go through 24 hours of fasting whilst contracting and pushing, like last time. But for-realzies, I wouldn't change a thing about Liana's birth. It was perfect in its own way. But if I could choose future birthing experiences, I would choose Desmond's any day.
Desmond Thomas Hale. 8 lbs 7 oz
Bringing Desmond home was a dream. I think I was mildly depressed for about a month leading up to his birth. I was absolutely terrified. I kept thinking, "What have I gotten myself into? This is going to be terrible!" I really was expecting the worst. I had myself convinced that it was going to be impossible, especially since Jerry was uber-busy at work and would be gone 10+ hours every day. But Liana loved Desmond (I can't say it is quite the same any more, but nothing I can't deal with, or laugh at) and he was, and is, the easiest and sweetest and handsomest baby I could ever imagine. I feel overwhelmed with love by the family I have been blessed with. If I think about it too long, it makes me literally sick to my stomach (I know that sounds backwards, but I'm sure other moms out there know what I am talking about.. right?).
I know this is the type of birth story that will annoy a lot of other moms, or at least it would have annoyed me before it happened, but it is true and real and mine!

10 days old. Photo: Cathi Cenatiempo

Photo: Cathi Cenatiempo

Friday, April 5, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Provo [food]

Provo has been really good to us. We met here. We started a family here. We have experienced life here for a combined 16 years!(!!!!)

I have to admit that when I first came here I thought the food scene was awful. (one of my first experiences: Costa Vida employee accidentally pouring dirty dishrag water into sauces.. and then using them!) And I think it generally was, but over the last few years Provo has really stepped it up!

Here are the establishments Jerry and I have really come to love. We have been splurging a little and have been going to each one to say goodbye.

(in no particular order)

1. DP Cheesesteaks

Wow. It's amazing. I don't know if I can come up with the words to tell you how amazing it is. If you like cheesesteak sandwiches at all, you will love these sandwiches. Our favorite ones are Mushroom Pepper steak and the Cherry Pepper steak. Adding mustard makes the experience even better.

It is located in the shopping strip with Jamba and Sub Zero. There is never a line! It takes about 3 minutes for them to make your sandwich. This is an ideal place to bring a baby (which is a huge plus for us)

2. Nicolitalia Pizzaria

By far the best pizza in town. At least a billion times better than Brick Oven, but I really don't think much of Brick Oven..

There is a really extensive menu, and we have only tried a few things, because after we found our favorites it's hard to  be adventuresome when perfection has been reached. The margarita pizza is superb. I love the sausage and peppers calzone and Jerry prefers the chicken parm calzone. The house salad dressing is really yummy. Our favorite part is the marinara sauce. It is special. Jerry thinks if we ask nice enough they will give us the recipe. Keep on dreaming, man.

Located by KFC and Pizza Pie Cafe. It is a walk-up and order place, which we like. Since the pizza is Boston style and the owner is from Boston, when they call our order they say, (in a Boston accent) "Jerry Rice!" My dad always wants to eat here when he visits, he says it is authentic Boston pizza(he lived there for a few years).

3. Black Sheep Cafe

The only "real" restaurant to make the list. We prefer non-traditional restaurants because a) no tip necessary and b)  it's easier with a rowdy baby. So, this one-of-a-kind restaurant has to be really good to make our top 5. That being said, we only go at lunch time.

According to its website, Black Sheep Cafe is "Contemporary Southwestern Native American Cuisine." We have had probably half of the menu, and it has all been good. But our favorites are all the sandwiches: pork is Jerry's fave and the Bleu burger is mine. (My brother Devin says that the Bleu burger is the best burger he has ever had) They come with a choice of sweet potato fries or Mexican street corn, we both prefer the fries WITH the chipotle lime dipping sauce, which you have to specifically ask for. The shrimp is good, the tacos are good, the frybread is awesome. I think my favorite part of going here is the unique flavors and combinations.

Located at 19 N. University Ave. The service is unreliable, but nice.

4. Braza Express

Jerry served his Mormon mission in Campinas, Brazil. In the 2 years he was there he developed a deep love for the native cuisine. He says that Braza Express is really authentic. Unlike fancier, pricier Brazillian restaurants, this one is more like the daily cuisine.

My favorite part is the rice and black beans and the fancy juices (cashew is so nummy).

Located at 180 N University Ave. Cafeteria-style ordering.

5. Cubby's

Another manly sandwich joint. But let me tell you...it might be my favorite on the list. Unfortunately, it seems to be everyone else's favorite too. Especially the hipsters. Unlike the other places in my top 5, this place is always packed, so try to go on a weekday, but even then it will probably be busy.

We've had probably half of the menu, and it is all phenomenal. I don't think it is possible to not have something absolutely life changing every time you go. No exaggeration. Jerry's favorite is the tri-tip sandwich. My favorite is the italian sausage, or italian beef, or the burger.. can't decide. And the salads are the best around. The rosemary sea-salt fries are yummy.. and I really want to try the buffalo fries, but I'm too cheap.

Next to Little Ceasers and Sonic. In walking distance from our house... yeah, it's awesome.

Honorable Mentions:
Red Line Deli (food is decent, but the best part is playing on the free arcade)
Pizza Pie Cafe (I love the salad bar and the cookie dough desert pizza.. and really, what beats all you can eat?)
Cafe Rio (last time we went we found an almost full punch card! score!)
La Dolce Vita
Tucanos (but only when your parent's are paying)
J Dawgs
JCW's (we only really go for the shakes)

Wow, now I am hungry.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Adventures in Breastfeeding

written in June, 2012

I feel like I need to put a super warning on this post. But I think the title should indicate to you whether you want to read this post or not. It's about babies and boobs, namely mine.

Whether or not I wanted to breastfeed was never a question to me. To me, breastfeeding just seemed like a natural thing that I would want and that would happen. I knew the typical challenges of breastfeeding before ever having a baby. Bad latch. Milk shortage. Inverted nipples. and the list goes on (and on).

When I arrived at the hospital to induce my labor, my first nurse asked whether she should mark me down for breastfeeding or not. I told her I wanted to nurse. She said that was a good decision, and that those first few moments with my baby would be precious and a good time to bond. I kind of felt like rolling my eyes and saying, "Girl, you're preaching to the choir. That is of course what I want."

14 hours later I had my precious new baby girl in my arms. The nurse helped me strip down so Liana and I could do skin-to-skin and nurse. After a few different positions, the nurse said Liana probably wasn't going to latch now and that I should just enjoy her instead of trying to nurse. I was a little deflated because I knew that that first feeding was so important. But I did want to enjoy my baby and didn't want my first memory of her to be frustration.

During the course of my hospital stay I had multiple nurses and lactation consultants try and help me to get Liana to nurse. But no luck. She loved the time close to me, but she would just fall asleep or just play. She didn't seem interested in eating at all. I pumped a tiny bit of colostrum and fed it to Liana with a syringe, so as to eliminate nipple confusion. My hospital stay was coming to an end, and I felt desperate to have Liana nurse just once before we left.

Over the next week I spent hours every day doing skin-to-skin with Liana and trying different holds. I started pumping and feeding her with a syringe. I spent hours crying and mourning the fact that my baby did not want me. She just seemed to refuse my body. It was something that I could never imagine before, and is so hard to describe. It was hard. I was so grateful to have a beautiful, healthy baby. I was so happy, but it wasn't what I imagined.

A week after Liana was born I went to another lactation consultant. Liana had lost one pound. The consultant informed me I was starving my baby. My stubbornness to not give Liana a bottle was just making the problem worse. Liana was so tired from having no food that she did not have the energy to nurse. No amount of different positions, supplemental tubes, or nipple shields was going to cox my baby into breastfeeding. I just needed to get some food in her. The consultant suggested I rent a hospital grade pump to keep my supply up, and to start feeding Liana with a bottle.

The next few weeks went like this: attempt to feed Liana at the breast, pump, feed Liana with a bottle, sleep, do it again. It was exhausting emotionally and physically. And although Jerry was helpful in feeding Liana with a bottle, there essentially was not much else he could really do.

On my birthday Liana finally nursed. Well, kind of. She sucked and had a really shallow latch, but she was able to get out some milk. I was so excited. But it KILLED. After a day of pain, letting her feed like that and still supplementing some with the bottle, Liana started to again refuse me. I was devastated. I went to the lactation consultant again. She told me I was doing everything right--I just had to keep trying until my baby caught on. She told me it might take months, but that it would be worth it. I went home and had a meltdown. Months?!?? I just didn't think I could do it. It was too much for me to handle. I had this perfect little girl who I loved so much and I wanted to give her the best. But she didn't want it, or me. Jerry suggested that I take a break from trying for a little bit. So I started to only try to nurse a few times a day. And then only once a day. Not being rejected every 2 hours started to lighten my spirits, and I could feel the cloud of despair start to lift. I finally decided that I was going to exclusively pump and bottle-feed. Once I made the decision and decided it was okay, I felt elated. I was so grateful to have modern technology that made expressing milk so easy, and I was still able to give my baby the best. Since pumping became just another part of my daily routine, I was happy to do it. Unfortunately, it wasn't perfect and happy all the time. I was pumping enough milk for twins (and then some) and was frequently having clogged milk ducts.

When Liana hit 6 weeks, I started to try and nurse her again, but only every few days. When she didn't take to my breast, it didn't bother me all. I had a new reality. I was happy to pump. I found that it was pretty convenient.

When Liana hit 10 weeks, I had a slightly mortifying experience. Once when I was pumping, I looked down to see that one of the bottles was full of blood. It totally revolted me. I gagged and dry heaved a little. After a lengthy google search I felt confident that blood in breastmilk is normal.  But still disturbing. I went to pump again and it happened, again. This time it was was in the middle of the night, so my reaction was even worse. I was tired and emotional. After more internet searches that confirmed it was normal I went to sleep with reassurance that I was going to live, but I wasn't quite sure I could get the image out of my head. The next morning when it was time to pump I was scared and shaking. During the course of my hours of internet reading it frequently said that blood was normal, and it probably happens to most mothers, but they aren't aware because the baby just drinks it, and it is fine for the baby. So while Jerry was in the shower, I woke Liana up. I told her I was sorry if she drank any blood. And after weeks of not trying, I put Liana to the culprit breast. And.. she nursed! For real! The funny thing was, I wasn't even surprised or even that happy about her nursing, I was just so relieved that if there was blood, I didn't have to see it (selfish, I know).

So now Liana is just a few days shy of 4 months. She nurses like a pro! Just within the past few days I have been able to get my milk supple under control. Until then, I had still been pumping extra.

Right around the time she started nursing.

Update: Liana is still a very good nurser. In fact, now I am trying to wean her, which feels so bizarre after all the prayers and effort that went into her starting to nurse.

After only a few weeks of nursing, Liana gained around 4 lbs.

Liana's Birth Story Part II

Okay, I have been building suspense for 3 months now, so hopefully the rest of the story does not disappoint.

We arrived at the hospital and I had to fill out a bunch of paper work. I'm assuming if the woman is already in active labor they don't make her do this part when she arrives at the hospital.. because it was a lot! My mom, husband, and I just kind of sat around the lobby for a few minutes. It felt pretty surreal.

In the lobby.

Then I was ushered to my room and given a hospital robe. My mother was there through the whole ordeal, and she took great notes. So I will let her take it from here!

6:15 am – Arrived at the hospital to be induced, per doctor’s orders. Policy is to induce after one week over due.
Got settled.
7:45 am - Started Pitocin
       Danielle's aside: I had never felt a contraction until I arrived at the hospital. The nurse hooked me up to an IV and started a drip. She also put a monitor around my belly to measure contractions. About a minute after I was hooked up I said, "Whoa! I am feeling a contraction!" The nurse said, "I haven't even started the Pitocin... But yes, according to the monitor you did have a slight contraction." So I may have had contractions before, but I just wasn't lying there expecting to feel them.
10:10 am - Broke Water – 3+ dilated, 90% effaced
11:14 am - still 3+ dilated, 90% effaced, -2 station (how low in the pelvis?)
Danielle is very tired and dizzy. Sits on edge of bed or stands and hugs Jerry during contractions. Lots of low pressure. Cries during contractions, but pretty good with her breathing most of the time.
       My contractions were 2 1/2 minutes apart. And I was falling asleep between them from exhaustion.
12:22 pm – 4 cm dilated  90% effaced, -1 station – head has lowered. Tried a few different positions at her mom’s request, and also tried the birthing ball – but no relief from the pain.
12:44 pm - asked for an epidural. Says she is sooooo tired and just wants to be able to rest. Anesthesiologist is in an emergency c section and may not be available for another 15 minutes. Jerry hesitant to sign the papers in spite of Danielle’s pleading, begging with droopy puppy dog eyes. I couldn't believe he was being so tough when she was obviously in so much pain and it could drag on for awhile.  (Found out later he was hesitant because Danielle had previously told him that no matter what she says don’t let her get an epidural! He wanted to uphold her wishes!)
1:15 pm – Received the epidural
1:25 pm  -  Still at 4 cm dilated, 90% effaced. Increasing Pitocin to 20 – the highest dose
Danielle changes sides every hour. Epidural is making her very shaky.
       I was extremely shaky. I decided to get an epidural so I could sleep, but because I was constantly violently shaking, I could not sleep. Also probably around this time my mom and Jerry both got delicious smelling food and ate it in my delivery room, even though I asked them not to! The smell was torture because I was so hungry.
2:27 pm – dilated to 5 cm and 100% effaced
3:44  pm – dilated 5-6 cm and 100% effaced
4:30 pm – dilated to 6 cm and 100% effaced. Reduced Pitocin to 16 to get more time between contractions. No relief from shakes and she was never able to sleep. She remained awake the whole day.
5:55 pm – dilated to 8 cm, 100% effaced and +1 station
7:40 pm – 100% dilated and 100% effaced
7:55 pm  – started to push. She could feel enough to push, but Jerry had to hold up and bend one leg and Danielle’s mom the other during pushing, while Mom counted to 10. Danielle complained the count was too slow and her mom needed to do a more accurate count and not drag it on.
8:45 pm  – Doctor came in for the first time. She had a temperature of 100.7 so they gave her 2 grams of ampicillin to combat any infection. Baby kept crowning and then would go back up. Thought an episiotomy would help, but he wanted it to be the couple’s decision.
       I think I had a temperature because I was shaking so much and kept on asking for heated blankets.
9:25 pm - doc came in and put stirrups up.
9:38 pm  - Liana Jade Hale was born immediately after an episiotomy was finally agreed upon and done.
                8 lbs 13 oz, 20 ½'' long

She was extremely CONEHEAD and half white and half blue at birth, freaking out both Jerry and Danielle’s mom! But it was so awesome to observe the birth and be a part of this new life!

Thanks, mom!

so happy.

So, my birth experience wasn't quite what I expected or wanted. But I was glad I kept an open mind about the epidural because the Pitocin gave me really hard contractions. I knew it was the right decision when I still took 7 more hours to become fully dilated. I also didn't want an episiotomy(who does?!). The doctor was very understanding and made it clear that it was my choice. My episiotomy ended up being less than a half-inch, so really, it wasn't bad at all, and with my next contraction Liana was out.

Hearing Liana cry for the first time really was magical. I was so moved and excited to meet her. She was a beautiful newborn. She didn't look anything like I expected, but even better and so much like her dad.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Liana's Birth Story Part I

Reading birth stories before I gave birth was so incredibly interesting and exciting. Even the most boring ones helped me understand the process. I literally read hundreds of them. So here goes my experience birthing Liana!

Before I ever was pregnant I didn't have many opinions about childbirth. Despite my mother giving birth to all four of us kids naturally, I thought getting an epidural wouldn't be too big of a deal. But again, I really hadn't put really any thought to it.

The day we found out I was pregnant. The photographer didn't know. :)

A few months into pregnancy I decided that I wanted go to natural. I would think about this tiny baby inside of me who I already loved so much and I thought, "Why would I not want to really experience bringing this baby into the world?" It was a quick and uncomplicated decision, but as soon as I made it, I knew it was right, and I was so excited.

I was really private about my decision. I didn't want praise or disappointment. I didn't care what other people thought. I wasn't doing it for them. This was for me, my baby, and my husband to experience.

I did, however, have two really interesting experiences  with two different labor/delivery nurses who attended my church. Since they were nurses, I felt comfortable telling them my birth plan when they asked me about it. When I told the first my plan she jumped for joy! She was so excited for me. She told me that I was strong and that I wouldn't regret my decision. She told me I could do it. The second nurse scolded me. She had the most serious look on her face and said, "You know, they created the epidural for a reason. You aren't being realistic if you don't get it." I was a little shocked at that conversation. But I was more determined than ever that I would be an active participant in my daughter's birth.

A month before my due date I was showing no progress towards giving birth. I wasn't too surprised by this because my mom was weeks late with all of her babies, except for me, her last, and I came right on my due date. (See mom, I AM perfect.) But then the real kicker came when the doctor told me that if I was a week overdue they would have to induce me. I asked if I could maybe go a little longer to see if the baby would go on her own and the doctor told me that I would become a liability and they would not deliver the baby. I was so sad to hear this. I knew that inducing labor made further medical interventions much more likely.

At 40 weeks, 5 days.

I knew I was going to be induced. I never felt one single contraction. I think I was 3 cm and 70% effaced at my 40 week appointment.

The night before my induction, my mother flew in. I was so happy to have her there. The hospital called and told me that I was scheduled to come in at 5:30 the next morning. I remember trying to go to sleep was so hard. I had been getting really poor sleep for the the last month of my pregnancy and I was starting to retain a lot of water. I remember just feeling so excited to know that withing hours I would meet my daughter. I kept on imagining what her face would look like. I just wanted her to be cute! I told Jerry that if she was ugly and people told me she was cute I would say, "You don't have to lie to me! I can see!"

The morning of my induction came. I ate a fried egg and piece of toast. Jerry gave me a beautiful priesthood blessing. It was so surreal to leave my apartment knowing that the next time I stepped inside, it would be with a baby. My baby. That came out of my body.

...to be continued...