Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aaron - 12 Days Old

The world’s best dad is getting some quality time in with Aaron so I can write!

Somehow the better part of two weeks has passed since Aaron came into the world. As is the case with most families adjusting to life with a new baby, it has been a whirlwind! It has been joyful, hard, tiring, amazing, and many other things all wrapped up into one. All in all, I am just so glad he is here! He is filling a part of our hearts and home that has felt so empty for far too long. We are so absolutely in love with him, and are just amazed at how strong he is. It has been bizarre to compare our experience with Noah to this; sick baby versus healthy one. With Noah we had no frame of reference as to what is normal or not. Now that we have Aaron here, it has helped us accept the idiosyncrasies of our whole situation with Noah. Hard to do, but wow, of course he was sick. We get that now.

Let me start from the beginning. Last I left off, I had just told the story of Aaron’s birth. He spent the majority of that first night in our room with us. Early that next morning, a nurse came in and told us that they needed to move Aaron to the NICU nursery. They ran blood work right after he was born. Everyone had had a chance to review it and his blood sugar was a bit low for comfort. It was in the healthy range, but on the low end of what was still considered ok. This is the big thing we were watching for MCADD. MCADD is life threatening hypoglycemia. Until his newborn test came back with a final answer on whether or not he had it, we had to watch his blood sugars very closely.

Because of all the testing that had been done on him to date, everyone felt pretty certain that he didn’t have MCADD. The more likely suspect for the low blood sugar was his size when he was born. He was well above average for his gestational age. I didn’t realize it, but big babies tend to have blood sugar issues. It made me feel so glad that I let the acupuncturist put me into labor rather than waiting longer. He would have only grown more, and maybe made this more of an issue.

We always knew that Aaron could very well have to spend time in the NICU nursery because of his risk factors. I had mixed feelings about it going in. After losing Noah, I knew I would likely have separation anxiety around anyone taking Aaron away from me. Or, would I find it comforting to know that he was being watched that closely? Turns out the latter was true. I can’t say that I slept much after having Aaron when we were in our room together because I was so paranoid about every little grunt, noise, movement, or lack thereof for any brief period of time. It was a relief when the nurse wheeled him off and hooked him up to all those monitors.

The culture in the NICU nursery was not at all what I expected. Maybe some of you that have been through it can clue me in on this. Aaron was there for four days, and I hardly saw another parent there with their babies. For me, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else! The nurses almost seemed annoyed by how much we were there, but I really didn’t care. I can see why when they have free reign over all the babies without anyone asking for an active role in the care of their charges. Regardless, we were there as much as they’d let us, mostly around his rigorous feeding schedule. He had to eat at least every three hours, unless he wanted it sooner. Aaron came out being a really great eater (THANK GOD!) so we were there a lot.

Finally, the MCADD test came back. As we had expected, Aaron is free and clear of MCADD. He is not a carrier, so he’ll never have to worry about it with his own children. We were so excited! The news came in while we were in the NICU nursery feeding him. To look down at this beautiful boy and realize that this one is here to stay was a very emotional moment. The staff at the hospital all knew our story and what we have lived through. They were crying and hugging us too. It made them all feel really good about sending us off, knowing that we had really overcome some major hurdles to get here! The extra time in the hospital had given Aaron enough time to get his blood sugar levels stabilized enough that we could finally go home. There was nothing left to worry about. His pediatrician told us to “go home and enjoy him.”

Going home was a pretty nervous feeling for both Chris and I. This was when things had gone downhill last time. Even though we have confirmation that Aaron does not have the same issue Noah did, the physical memory of it all was hard to escape. It was also day four of Aaron’s life. Noah only lived four days so Aaron was soon to outlive his brother. I cried the whole way home. I worried about everything. I arranged with our post-partum doula to meet us at the house to help us get settled in. It was pretty crazy, getting in, getting all our stuff in, getting settled, changing a dirty diaper and feeding Aaron in the middle of it. As crazy as it all was, Aaron really didn’t seem to care. He adjusted to the change beautifully.

We’ve since been settling into a new normal around the house. Chris and I are getting to be a little stir crazy. We ordinarily lead pretty busy lives, so to sit around and watch TV and hang out all day is really not us! It is just what life needs to be right now as we jump to care for all of Aaron’s needs. Now that he is free of all the monitors and craziness of the NICU nursery, we have much more freedom to hang out and see what he can do. He is pretty amazing! He already shows signs of smiling! He’s done it quickly a few times, both in his dreams, and awake as well. I imagine it will be a while before he’ll do it long enough to get a picture. We’ll keep watching. He can also turn over onto his side if you leave his arms free when he lies down. He is really fighting to hold his head up on his own too. He also has really great long periods of being awake. It is so much fun to interact with him. He looks deeply into your eyes. Chris thinks he’s a deep thinker by some of the expressions he makes when you talk to him. He continues to eat really well. He just hit a growth spurt I think. His feeding times have grown from being 15 minutes to being closer to an hour. I will be honest and say that it has me pretty pooped since the burden is all on me with breast feeding! Chris has been a great help and is eager to jump in with diaper changes, or soothing him back to sleep once we’re done. He is such a great father to both boys in how he is just so willing and eager to do anything for them. I love how both kids seem to have such a strong understanding of who their father is. Aaron will hear Chris’s voice and will turn to look for him. I absolutely love it.

Healing from this child birth seems to be a bit slower for me than it was last time (that I can remember anyways!). The hormonal changes those first few days were pretty rotten. I also had mild mastitis for a few days last week. Wow, I can’t imagine the full blown version of that, since the mild version of it was pretty unpleasant! Thanks to my amazing midwife, she got me healed up using herbs and supplements so I didn’t have to take antibiotics. Life is finally starting to feel more like normal. We have been able to get out and go for short walks around the neighborhood the last couple of days, which has been wonderful! Fall has hit Colorado, and I just want to be out in it with Aaron.

Our post-partum doula is working out well. She shows up at 7:30 every morning. It is right about that time after a night full of waking up to change diapers, feed Aaron, and get him settled back down to sleep that we are feeling overwhelmed. She takes the baby. I go back to bed and sleep for a couple more hours. Chris gets up to walk the dog, and have breakfast. I wake up, and she hands the baby to me to feed him. She then goes off to make me breakfast. Then we trade off. She takes the baby and I eat and take a shower. In between, she does laundry, makes the bed, cleans up dishes, feeds the pets, restocks the changing table with fresh diapers, burp rags, wipes, etc. When she leaves at noon, we are in great shape and ready to face the day. I love her.

It’s getting to be time for Aaron to need me again, so I’m going to sign off. Thanks for your patience with us! We have both gotten a lot of calls, emails, and other notes from you guys. We owe you all so many responses back, but life has been more than a little nutty! Please know that all has been received and appreciated! Here’s some more pics of our boy:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Patience Please!

Chris and I are fortunate to be connected to a really loving group of people who have been cheering for us all along on this journey. We appreciate it more than we can say. I understand that you guys are all so anxious to meet the final product of everything we’ve been through. We want Aaron to grow up knowing you all and understanding how loved and appreciated his life is. I am feeling guilty because I have gotten lots of calls, emails, Facebook messages and such saying “when can we come over?” I wish I could say “Today! Right now!” but I can’t.

Chris and I both feel a strong sense of hyper-vigilance around Aaron because of our past history as parents. Noah died right under our noses at four days of age. The scars from that experience run deep. It isn’t that we are afraid that anyone would do anything to Aaron by any means. More that the distraction of having company would pull our constant attention away from Aaron and our need to continually see that he is ok. Some of the visits we have had so far have triggered this panicky feeling in us already, and has unhinged us for quite a while after the visit ended. Therefore, I hope you can appreciate our need to hold off on visits for a little while until we begin to build some days under our belts where we look at Aaron, feel anxious, and nothing happens. Aaron is one big strong boy, and every day he is teaching us to trust a little bit more, but the process is just going to take some time.

Thanks for hanging with us in the mean time. I plan to try to keep up on blogging so you all have a sense of how we are doing (as Mr. Aaron allows of course!). Love to you all, and I promise we will resurface again soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Aaron's Birth Story

Hanging out on the birth ball during contractions.

Our boy is here!

I think have successfully fed Aaron enough to put him into a serious turkey coma (ala Thanksgiving) enough to be able to catch up on some blogging. I owe so many of you phone calls, emails, thank you notes and the like. Please forgive me as life has been a little crazy of late! I know many have asked for our stories of how he was born, and what life has been like since, so I am turning to my trusty blog to fill you all in! Please forgive spelling mistakes and weird sentences. Time is tight! Now to type as fast as I can…

Wow, has my life changed within the short span of just a few days!!! We are just absolutely in love with this little guy, and can hardly keep our hands off of him. He is so amazing in how strong he is, and how well he has adapted to life outside of me.

Aaron made a dramatic entrance into the world on October 14th. The day before I had one of my weekly visits to the acupuncturist. She has been helping me keep the PUPPPS away as well as toning down a number of other pregnancy discomforts. She saw me on this Wednesday, took one look at the exhausted expression on my face from lack of sleep, my extremely swollen ankles and feet, and looked at the itchy skin beginning to spread across my belly as we were starting to lose the battle of keeping the PUPPPS at bay, and said to me “you’re miserable, aren’t you?” I just about cried, I was just so glad to hear someone validate that for me. She asked if I was ready to get things started, and before she had the question out of her mouth, I was saying “YES!” She did some points to help encourage labor, and sent me home. That night at my 2am pee break (one of many), the pressure of my full bladder along with the incredible weight of the baby my water broke. I was pretty wired the rest of the night, waiting to see if contractions would begin. Chris was sleeping downstairs in the guest bedroom because of my constant restlessness and snoring, being that big. I let him sleep and didn’t wake him since I knew Aaron would need him as soon as he was out for whatever care was in store.

In the morning at a more decent hour, nothing had happened yet. I called my midwife, and she told me that I should make it my business to try to go into labor now that my water had broken. If I go to the hospital, they will give me drugs, which I don’t want. So, it’s time to pull out all the stops on the natural ways of inducing labor. She suggested a few things, but strongly encouraged that I go back to the acupuncturist for another treatment. I got an appointment for 4:00 that afternoon with my doctor’s backup (she was off that day), and did what I could with walking, herbs, essential oils and the like in the mean time. None of it worked. My 4:00 appointment came, and the acupuncturist pulled out all the stops with her treatment. She did two points on the back of my second toe that really kicked off. I had five contractions in ten minutes! I had my mom drive me to my appointment, and I am glad I did because I continued to have contractions the whole way home.

Chris got off work, and he hung out at home to wait for me to arrive back from my appointment. We called my dad to get us some dinner. I needed to load up on carbs for the marathon I had ahead of me, so he got me some pasta. I sat on the birth ball in my living room, watched movies, and hung out as things progressed. Chris would talk me through each contraction while he rubbed my shoulders, back and arms, and occasionally do a hip squeeze movement we learned from my doula that felt fantastic! My parents timed my contractions so he could focus on me. All of it was very tolerable, and exciting because I knew Aaron was coming!

I started to feel sleepy. I had hardly slept the night before after my water broke because I was so amped up. I had meant to take a nap that afternoon, but had gotten busy with the natural labor induction activities and hadn’t slept then either. I decided to lie down and close my eyes for a bit. I slept for about half an hour, occasionally waking up during a contraction. When I woke up for good, I was trembling pretty hard, and the contractions were very strong. We decided that we really needed to get to the hospital sooner rather than later. In between contractions, I made a run for the car before another one came on. My mom drove, and Chris rode in the back with me. Shortly after we took off from the house, I felt the urge to push! I was so desperate to follow what my body was telling me to do, yet, we live a long way off from the hospital and quite a drive left to go. My mom floored it, and she and Chris did their best to coach me through shallower breathing to try to slow things down. This boy had plans of his own, and as we were getting to the hospital, I could feel his head right down where it should be to come out. They insisted on putting me in a wheelchair(!!!) to get me up to labor and delivery. I sat in it crooked to save room for him. We had gone in through the emergency room entrance, and I vaguely remember people looking at me and saying in horrified tones “oh my God…”

They took me to triage where they do the initial check to see where you are. I was +3 station (meaning the baby’s head was right there and ready to come out). They didn’t even bother to tell how many centimeters dilated I was or put me into a hospital gown, and ran me on a gurney down the hall to a delivery room. The nurses were frantically telling me not to push, and holding my legs together. I really didn’t care at this point. I am strong, and I had held him in long enough. Fortunately, the doctor was right there quickly, and I went to town, and had him out in very short order. I had been at the hospital for ten minutes, if that. I delivered him right there, haphazardly thrown into a room on a bed in my street clothes. Nothing mattered. I was overcome with joy at this beautiful little boy that they had placed next to me on the bed. He was gorgeous, and so very alert and pink. He cried and cried, which was just music to my ears. I just looked at him in wonder, and was so incredibly excited and relieved that he was out. We had made it. I had had yet another amazing natural childbirth, and he looked so healthy and active. My mom and Chris were with me through the whole thing. Our poor doula had gotten there a few minutes later. It was just one of those things, though. Aaron had plans of his own, and he was ready to be born regardless of anything else going on in the world!

He was 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and 20 inches long. His head was 14.5 centimeters in diameter. A big boy! They let me hold him and bond with him for quite a while, and then it was time for him to be whisked off to the nursery to begin the rigorous checkup process that had been outlined for him by the Children’s Hospital. They patched me up, and got me moved to a postpartum room. We didn’t have time to bring up any of our things prior to his birth, so everyone brought my stuff up to our room. Our doula remembered that I wanted to go to the nursery to be with Aaron, and asked the nurses if I could do that. They said that would be no problem, and wheeled me in a wheelchair over to him and Chris in the nursery. Chris and I just sat there and looked at Aaron, played with his hands and feet, felt his soft skin, watched his chest rise and fall with each breath, and felt completely elated at this amazing baby we had created! I couldn’t help but cry a little with complete joy at his life, and the miracle of it after all that we have been through. I knew that I loved him deeply, but at that moment, the feeling intensified a million-fold. It had been a wild ride of a night, but here we were at the end with this wonderful spirit to spend our lives with, watching him grow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

38 Weeks

I am still here, and this time with an attitude adjustment. Life with lots of contractions throughout the day is becoming the norm. It has been a week and a half since all that started. I have stopped keeping count of how many in a day. They just come and go, and I let them. I don’t fight it, or stress out. I know that this is all part of it. Sunday at about 3pm I started to really not feel well. When I was up on my feet, I would get dizzy and nauseous, so I lay down and relaxed the rest of the day. As long as I stayed horizontal, I felt ok. It was when I got up that I would feel bad. I felt a lot of pressure down low through all of it. Even though it was inconvenient as I had a lot of things I wanted to get done, I had a really nice afternoon with Aaron. He was quite active, and I played with his feet through my belly as we watched movies. Chris and I are really going to have to find some activity for him to work his energy out. Maybe he will be a runner? Maybe a cyclist like Chris? We will need something for those feet to do! I went to bed that night wondering if all this activity was going to be it, and if I would wake up in labor. Instead, I woke up feeling fine again, but he had clearly dropped quite a bit through all of it. He is sitting pretty low in my pelvis now.

All of the fear and anxiety I felt that I wrote about in my previous post I have had the chance to work on, and I am feeling better and better about it all. It still scares me, thinking about life after he comes, but I am feeling more confident in my ability to face it. What has been hard since is all the commentary from everyone around me, calling, sending emails, facebooking me and the like saying “you’re STILL pregnant?!” I have felt frustration and anger as well, both at having all this pre-labor activity, yet not the real deal yet, as well as everyone’s good natured exasperation layered on top of it all. This seems to be the way it goes for all pregnant women when you get down to the last part of it. Everyone is so excited and has such good intentions, and can’t help but openly put the cart before the horse in their expectations as to when things should happen. I remember it from last time and how I felt about it all. What is different about this time is that I hear people saying these things to me, and I feel like they are looking at me and Aaron and implying that there is something wrong. I am really sensitive to anything being wrong with Aaron after what I have been through, and so it strikes me a little closer to my core and makes me so anxious in a way that I know that no one intends. It has therefore been a hard week.

I had a really good day of being around all of my “hippie-earth-mama” cheerleaders yesterday. I saw the acupuncturist in the morning, the midwife in the afternoon, talked to my childbirth doula for a while after that on the phone, and then I had prenatal yoga in the evening. All were so kind and encouraging and the midwife in particular gave me the pep-talk that I have so badly needed (lord that woman is worth every penny!). She did her usual super-thorough evaluation of Aaron. He is measuring 40.5 weeks right now, and she estimates that he is comfortably in the 8 pound range (all is a guess of course!). He looks great, and perfectly healthy. I told her about the frustration that he hasn’t come sooner. Noah came at 37 weeks on the nose. Why hasn’t Aaron? Her opinion is that the human body is an intelligent being that inherently knows when something isn’t right, and Noah was very sick. We will never know for certain, but that he came so early could be tied to that. She told me to consider every day that Aaron stays in as confirmation that he is healthy. She really doesn’t think that I will go to my due date, and that this will happen soon. However in the meantime, I need to take advantage of my last bits of freedom to do whatever is fun. Go out to dinner with Chris. Go treat myself to a pedicure. Go see a movie. Go shopping. Take naps. Above all, insulate myself from whatever negative comments are around me in whatever way that I can, and just focus on these things. Today I have had a much better day. Maybe he really is holding out for my birthday? The midwife’s measurements have said all along that October 10th or 12th is far more realistic. That isn’t that far away. I really do need to live it up before I am tied to home for quite a while. I am also loving that he is further into October. The excitement and anticipation of seeing Halloween decorations come out, and being able to tie that to his birthday is really going to be fun as he grows up. He must really want it too since he is holding out on being born. So, I am learning to be more patient and to trust what is going on. Off to go put my feet up and see what’s on the TiVo!

Friday, October 1, 2010

37 1/2 Week Update

We’re down to the frustrating part. I am past the 37 week mark, so Aaron is full term. It is now October, which was also a milestone I wanted to hit. I have loved being an October baby (my birthday is the 10th), and would love to share that with him as well. Now it is any day, any second really, that he can come.

Everyone knows this, and so I get lots of phone calls, emails, and other communications from people saying “has it happened yet?” Believe me, I want to have him pretty badly at this point. I want to share him with everybody too. I will likely post on Facebook when I am in labor. Or, if I am not by a computer when it happens, I have an email list put together and ready to go so all Chris has to do is attach a picture, type up a sentence or two and hit send. So, I promise I will tell you! (And I love you for caring so much! Please forgive my grumpiness!)

This last week has been a little nerve wracking. Saturday, Chris and I went up to Woodland Park to hang out with my parents. After dinner as we were lying around and hanging out, I started getting contractions regularly. They were light. I could still talk and be normal through them, but they were coming regularly, so I gave the signal to Chris and we came home. Rather than being the trained, prepared and calm Bradley Method parents that we are, we panicked. We didn’t rush off to the hospital or anything, but both of us felt quite a bit of anxiety and frustration over the whole situation. It was late in the evening by the time we got home and settled, so I just went to bed. When I woke up, the contractions were gone.

I have really been trying to examine what I felt and why I felt it. I was anxious because I was technically still 36 weeks, which in the western medical tradition is considered pre-term. I know from my ultrasounds with the midwife that Aaron is of a fine size, but would they ferret him off to the NICU nursery away from me after he was born if he came that night? What other complications would this cause? I also hadn’t had any of the other usual signs of labor coming on, which made me wonder just what the heck my body was doing! It was also still September, and I had really hoped Aaron would come in October. Stupid thing to worry about I know, but it was part of what bugged me.

The big reason that I was so nerved up (Chris too) was that the reality hit around being so close to being handed an infant to care for again. What happens when the nurses hand him off to us and turn around and walk off? Our best instincts failed us last time. We lived the worst case scenario with Noah. This is a really hard responsibility to accept again. Hindsight, it was a blessing to have Saturday night and the contractions that I had because it has given me time to work though this issue (not that I don’t reserve the right to freak out again after Aaron comes!)

The thing that I keep coming back to with this that is comforting is remembering what life was like in the months after Noah died, but before Aaron came long. The word "unfulfilling" doesn’t even cover it. We had set aside all hobbies, interests and activities in favor of dedicating ourselves completely to being parents. We did it joyfully. Caring for Noah fulfilled a deep need that we never knew we had. To go back to our old life pre-kids was so unbelievably empty and depressing. Having Aaron around has rescued us from that life. As hard as it is to face the trauma of our last experience with parenting, it is completely worth it to not have to feel like we did those months.

I have also tried to think of the multiple ways in my life when I didn’t think that I was capable of something, but persevered on anyways. I know that I am capable of a lot more than what I give myself credit for. When I have pushed on despite fears and reservations, the blessings that have followed have been massive. So, as scary as this is, when Aaron is ready I will go to the hospital and push him out and will somehow figure out what comes next. The initial days with him will be scary, but over the long haul of his life, to watch him grow from baby to boy to man will be one of the most amazing blessings of our lives. How can we deny ourselves this gift? No, this must be faced. We will work through it, and every second of it will be worth it.

I have continued to have contractions quite often since. It has been good practice to meditate on this line of thought, and get comfortable with the fears I feel going forward. I have been able to begin to get excited. Ironically, just as I have been working through this and feel good about it all, the contractions have started to taper off! Monday and Tuesday I had about 20 during the course of the day. Wednesday I had around 35! Yesterday things slowed down, and I had about 15. Today I have had a few of them, but haven’t kept track. They are mostly small. Some have caused me to stop and breathe it out, but those don’t come enough to think that this may be it. Either way, I am being careful with myself, resting a lot and keeping life simple as much as I can.

Because of the contractions I keep having, I am keeping life pretty close to home. I am still working. I am pretty grateful for the distraction of my job. I come in, put on my headphones and get sucked into whatever projects I can find. I plan on being here right up until I go into labor. I have cleared this with my office, and they fortunately have no problem with it. When I am not at work, I am beginning to back out of social activities that take me away from home. When the contractions come and are more intense, it makes me anxious if I am out somewhere. I would so much rather be at home close to my comfort measures. Chris is eager to keep an eye on me too, so we are both sticking close to one another and not going anywhere aside from work.

My belly is no longer a smooth sphere. It is bumpy with body parts that are not my own. It is really bizarre. I can feel his movements so much more because he has no room left. Sometimes I can tell that this annoys him. He’ll kick a little harder, or make what feel like frustrated quick shifting around sorts of movements. Or maybe he moves this way because it feels good and it’s fun? Who knows. I am ready for him. My mother reminded me this morning that this is the beginning of a lifetime of waiting for him to do what he needs to do. That has helped me to take a step back and not worry so much. I want to be the kind of mom that gives him plenty of room to be who he is, and see what comes out. This is just the first step!