Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Letter to My (Almost) 7-Month-Old Daughter

My dearest Sydney,

It's been awhile, and I've missed a few months of letters to you, but today you are napping peacefully in your car seat after dropping Daddy off at work which means today I have time to write.

I'm not sure how time has flown by this quickly, and this is the first year in my life where it's two weeks before Christmas, and I don't feel like it should even be December yet. Life has been moving at a quick pace for awhile now, but since you were born time began flying at an exponentially fast speed.

Because of this, I find myself sneaking in extra cuddles and kisses, forgoing my dirty dishes and laundry, and just staring at you while you sleep. And you know what, that's okay. It's okay because you won't be little forever, and you have already changed so much since birth. If I had spent those precious  moments cleaning then I wouldn't have quite as many memories and photos. Children have a way of drastically changing one's priorities. That's a good thing.

In fact, I've been putting off my chores to cherish memories a bit more than normal in the last few weeks because you have begun to start wanting more and more independent time. You want to be on the floor, in your jumper, or sitting beside me on the couch rather than be cuddled in my arms. You still enjoy house tours and us carrying you, but you'd much prefer chewing on Sophie while lying on your stomach and staring at the Christmas tree.

My independent girl.

Your desire to do things on your own already blows me away. Feeding times are now you holding the bottle with your feet or hands (you still can't tip it up enough at the beginning which means we hold it for you, but it must be held discreetly or you will get upset that we are helping you) while you lie on the floor (because mom's arms just aren't a cool place to be anymore), and play time means less interaction with me and more interaction with your blocks, rings, and balls.

So when the time comes throughout the day when you start getting fussy, rubbing your eyes, and pulling on your ears, I run to you and swoop you into my arms eager to cuddle you close to my heart. I snuggle you into me, give you a pacifier, and watch as you stroke my shirt and drift into sleep. And I breathe. I breathe in your scent, and I feel my chest move slowly up and down as the comfort of having you near me overwhelms me.

Watching you transform from that cuddly newborn to an increasingly mobile and self-soothing infant is beautiful and hard all at the same time. I wish these snuggly days would last longer, but I so thoroughly enjoy watching you learn and grow. I have a sneaking suspicion that this feeling will forever stay as I continue to watch you change and develop into a beautiful young woman. So I live in the moment, and I enjoy those close times together as thoroughly as I can. I know they are fleeting so I grasp each one I can get. I believe you will be one of those little girls who must do it all on her own and simply doesn't have the time to cuddle with Mommy or Daddy too often.

But for today you are (almost) 7 months old. And at 7 months, I still get to cuddle and hold you throughout the day. I still feed you (sort of) bottles, and I still help you with sippy cups, grabbing toys, and eating food. So what are you doing at 7 months?

Well, we've covered that you like to feed yourself, but you are also sitting with complete control on your own. You catch yourself if you tip to the side or backward (most of the time), and you rarely cry if you fall over. As of last night, you pushed up on your hands and knees and began rocking in order to get to the wrapping paper rolls Mommy had left out on the ground. You succeeded in moving three feet to get them, and you threw a tantrum when I took you away. You are starting to really babble, and your favorite thing to say is "inga" over and over again. You will say "da da" occasionally when we ask you to, and sometimes we SWEAR it sounds like you say "I love you." You are currently sleeping in Mommy and Daddy's room more often than your own because of the pesky eczema which keeps you up and scratching throughout the night. Your favorite toys are Sophie the Giraffe, your links, and books. Oh do you love books. And your favorite food is carrots. At your 6 month appointment (about a week ago), you measured 26 1/2 inches and 14 pounds 4 ounces. You are growing like a weed, and we couldn't be happier.

I can hardly believe the changes you have made just in the last month, and I am so looking forward to the changes the New Year will bring. I'm imagining you will be almost crawling by Christmas, and that means I will probably lose even more cuddle time. That's okay though because you are doing just what you're supposed to do. I just hope you know that Mommy is always going to be here for those snuggles. Even when you're a grown adult.

I love you so much, baby girl!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Those Peaceful Moments

Last night as I relaxed with my daughter on the couch, her chest rising and falling so peacefully from the sleep which finally found her, I felt that overwhelming sense that all would be okay. We haven’t had the easiest of weeks since we are battling teething, a growth spurt, and stranger anxiety all at once. We’ve had more fussy times than happy times, and if I go to put Sydney down or walk out of her line of sight, there is often a meltdown. But in that one instant, I hear her soft sigh of contentment and see a flicker of a smile cross her lips, and I know that it will all be fine and that tomorrow is a new day; my heart is filled with joy and serenity. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Days like these...

The house is a complete mess.
The dishes are stacked a mile high in the sink.
Halloween decorations are tucked in a bin still.
We ate Subway for dinner.
It's after midnight, and I'm just getting my second neb/vest in for the day.
My sugar has bottomed out three separate times today.
My cough feels gross, and I'm beyond exhausted.

It's days like these where I feel guilty that my daughter has a sick mom. A mom who has to conserve her spoons for the important things and has to worry about how much sleep she has gotten. A mom who has to sit attached to machines for an hour (or more) each day and who takes a ridiculous number of pills. A mom who struggles to walk up and down the stairs sometimes, and a mom who wakes her daughter up with coughing and hacking. 

Cystic Fibrosis slows me down in ways I hate to even admit. I have so many fun ideas, places to go, things to see, but they often get pushed aside because I need to do a treatment or take a nap. My daughter is 4 1/2 months old so for right now it's okay, but it's not going to be easy for her to understand when she's 4 or 5 years old. I just pray there's a cure around the corner. I really need this cure. I need to be here for my daughter as an active part of her life.

Vesting with my baby girl!
Please...please let there be a cure...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

4 Month Pictures

Yesterday was your four month appointment, and I felt the sadness and anxiety over the appointment during the entire drive to the office. Four months means shots, and you, my dearest sweetheart, hate shots (understandably). Since I knew the rest of the day was going to be a wash, I decided to dress you up for your four month pictures prior to the appointment, and boy I'm glad I did.

Your appointment went very well overall. The doctor said you were able to sit up really well for your age, and he even told us you would be fine to start solids at any time. We are going to wait a bit longer, but it was nice to hear he felt you were doing so well. You weigh 11.8 pounds, and you are 23 inches long. You're definitely a peanut for your age, but considering you were born at 5 pounds, 14 oz, and only 18 inches you can see that you have grown quite a bit. 

Once the appointment was over, the nurse came in with those evil needles, and the second she started wiping your leg with the alcohol swab you started crying. One thing I will never forget, my dearest darling, is just how dramatic you are. Although the alcohol made you cry, the actual shots made you scream at the top of your lungs. You continued screaming for 15 minutes straight - to the point where you could hardly breathe. You then would calm down for a minute and start right back up again. It took us quite a bit of time to get you calmed enough to put you in the car seat to head home. 

After that, you complained to me for the rest of the day, and you were even whimpering in your sleep off and on. We did end up giving you tylenol as you began screaming like you had just been stuck all over again multiple times once you were home. I felt so terrible for you, and your reaction makes me want to forgo the remainder of your childhood immunizations. I know I can't, but boy do I want to...

So despite having a very sad and hurting baby at night, we did manage to get a few really cute pictures in the morning! Happy 4 months, baby girl!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy Four Months!

Dear Sydney,

Today you turned four months old. How the time flew so quickly, I'm still not sure I understand, but here we are. . . four months. Wow.

When you were first born I remember telling myself that it couldn't get any better than this. I had this precious new baby who cuddled into me and slept for hours on end. I stared at you endlessly telling myself to relish these memories for this time would be gone way too quickly.

And it did go too quickly, baby girl. It really did. But something amazing and seemingly improbable happened at the exact same time those newborn moments were passing: it got better.

As soon as that first smile graced your face, I realized this new period of your life would be extra special, and it really has been incredible. Here are a few of the things I never want to forget as you turn four months

- You still love to cuddle. You are such a cuddle bug, and when you aren't feeling tip-top or are really tired, the only place you want to be is in my arms. This makes me feel quite special.

- Your smile is incredibly contagious, and you are starting to laugh which cracks us up each time you manage to giggle. You smile at anything and everything, especially your toy monkey underneath your rainforest gym. You think he is pretty cool because even if you are in the middle of a meltdown he will cheer you up. Besides Monkey, the person you smile at the most is Daddy.

- Speaking of Daddy, you LOVE to have conversations with him. You will be quiet all day with me, but the minute Daddy gets home you talk his ear off. It's apparent that you are already becoming Daddy's little girl. He loves it, and so do I.

- You randomly will imitate our noises. Even though we realize you are not actively saying words, we have heard you make sounds that sound clearly like the following words, "Hi," "Mom," "What," and (I kid you  not) "I love you." We get so silly and excited whenever we hear these sounds.

- You still hate baths. You really do. You typically have a meltdown each time that you have to go in the bathtub. We aren't sure what it is, but if you never had to take a single bath again you would be so much happier.

- You are showing such an interest in toys now. You love your links, stuffed animals, and rainforest gym. You also love your bendy ball. It's so fun to watch you grab at your toys as you explore you world.

- You are such a happy and fun baby. You really are, and we are blessed!

Baby girl, it's hard to believe that you are four months old already. Today was a rough day for you so we didn't get a picture in, but we will surely take one tomorrow before your four month shots :-( .  You have made the last four months of my life downright perfect. You are the best blessing I have ever received, and I love you more with each passing day.

I love you Peanut, forever and ever,


Monday, September 9, 2013

Sydney's birth story: Part Two

This is long overdue, but I'm finally getting around to posting the remainder of her birth story. This part continues on from the moments after her birth until the day we were able to take her home. Again, this is quite long so I understand if you choose not to read it or just speed read through it. Thank you all for being so patient with me:

After they were done stitching me up, I asked the nurse when I would be able to see you, my sweet baby. She told me the horribly difficult news that I would have to wait 24 hours from your delivery time to be able to see you because the magnesium sulfate combined with risk of stroke requires bed rest for the first 24 hours. 

I was devastated.

Here I was, lying and waiting to see your beautiful face after months and months of anxiety over the pregnancy and hours and hours of labor, and yet I was going to have to wait even longer. I ended up falling asleep as my body was so exhausted it couldn’t stay up any longer, but sleep was fleeting at best between nurse checks, breathing treatments, and the pain from the tear. 

One of the pictures your daddy took to show me while I waited to see you in person.
At some point during the early morning, your daddy and Grandma Murray went to go take a look at you in the NICU. Daddy took many pictures of you so that I could see you even if it couldn’t be in person. During the rest of that day, I worked on getting the needed sleep for my body and I cried while staring at your picture and realizing that you didn’t have me by you to comfort you.

As the day drug on I kept checking the clock to see how much closer I was to getting to hold you and kiss your sweet face. The minutes moved agonizingly slow, and I swore at points time was moving backward.  As I fell asleep for the night, I reassured myself by knowing I would finally be able to see you the next day, but my heart was unable to keep me asleep for long. At 3:30 AM, I woke up and I stared at the clock for 55 minutes, until I paged the nurse to have them take my IV out so that I could go upstairs and finally hold my precious miracle. 

Daddy grabbed a wheelchair, and I got myself all set to go see you for really the first time since the brief minute I got with you after your birth was not nearly enough. Daddy pushed me gently through the halls, and as he made his way up to the door of the NICU I felt my heart pounding heavy in my chest. This was it. The day I had dreamed about and longed for my entire life; I was going to really hold my sweet precious daughter for the first time. 

As I approached your incubator, I saw the most gorgeous face I had ever seen. You had these massively adorable chubby cheeks and your eyes were so cute as they were so tightly shut to get the much-needed sleep your body craved after such a hard delivery. They had a cute pink hat on you, but I could see little tufts of bright yellow hair sticking out from underneath it. You were swaddled pretty well, but your long sweet fingers were sticking up just above the edge of the blanket, and I marveled at how beautiful they were. Then, I asked the nurse if I could hold you, and my heart leapt when she said yes. 

My first time holding you after birth.

At this point, I should add that they made me gown, glove, and mask to be able to hold you since you were in the NICU, so while I was able to have you physically in my arms, I had yet to actually touch you with my bare hands. It would be another few days before I could finally stroke your sweet cheek or feel that soft downy hair on my fingertips, and waiting for that was terrible for me. I fought the nurses quite hard to be able to finally touch you. 

At least I was able to hold you though, and I was able to feel just how light 5 pounds 14 ounces really was in my arms.  I fed you a prepared bottle, and I just stared and stared at the miracle of you. I couldn’t fathom how such a perfect and beautiful baby had grown inside of my body which had always failed me in multiple ways before. Yet here you were…perfection. 

This was also the first time Daddy held you as he waited for me to be there with him. From the second you were in his arms all I could see in his face was wonder and love. He stared at your perfect cherub features, and he could hardly get over everything we had triumphed over to get to this point. We were finally holding the biggest blessing the Lord could ever give us, and we knew we needed to cherish the moment because it was the most special day of our lives. 

After an hour or so I was hurting so badly from sitting up that I had to make my way back to my room despite my overwhelming need to never leave your side. I sat with tears, both happy and sad, as your daddy wheeled me back to bed. I was over the moon that you were so beautiful and so healthy, but my heart was ripped apart at the thought of not having you right by my side at all times. 

The rest of the day was a little bit better as I could technically go down to see you whenever I wanted. The problem was that I was still in so much pain that sitting up was very difficult to do so I had to watch the amount of time I was actually up and not recovering. I remember thinking often that if I didn’t have cystic fibrosis you would be in my room with me, and I wouldn’t even have to worry about splitting my time. I was reassured, however, by the fact that the NICU nurses expected you to be out of the NICU by the next morning.

Your second day of life was really such a busy day for you in the NICU. We were able to have your grandparents hold you, and your Aunties and Uncles came to see you as well.  My heart was heavy that I couldn’t be in there to see their reactions upon seeing you for the first time (We were limited to two people in the NICU at one time), but they all came back to my room with overwhelming joy on their faces. Oh kiddo, they were just so happy to meet you for the first time! 

As the day turned to evening, we settled in with the happy thought that we would have you in our room the next day. We fell asleep rather quickly as we were both exhausted, but I woke up to head into the nursery to feed you every three hours.  Feeding you was (and is) such a beautiful time for us. You struggled with nursing, but even bottle feeding was just amazing. There is something that connects you deeply in your soul as you feed your own child regardless of what method is used. I sincerely pray that you get to experience this feeling once you are an adult.

A picture of you with the NG tube.
When the next morning finally rolled around, we learned the devastating news that you wouldn’t be joining us as you still had to regulate your blood sugars. We understood that the NICU was the best place for you, but it was so hard to hear this news. We ate breakfast and headed down to see you only to find that you had an NG tube placed after your last feeding as you didn’t take enough formula to maintain your sugars. We had been warned that this might happen, but seeing you with that tube in your nose was so overwhelming that your daddy and I stood there with tears. We were so very sorry that you had to go through this – that you had to handle this fight for the first few days of your life. You had such a rough delivery that you were simply exhausted and had trouble eating at all.

After this day, the remaining time in the NICU seemed to blend together. You were in there to heal for a total of nine days, and your Daddy and I hardly ever left your side. We had to head home for a few hours to take care of bills and grab my treatment supplies since unfortunately life doesn’t stop even when your own world has temporarily halted. We immediately came back up to see you, and we refused to leave you other than for meals. 

We truly believe it was our dedication to staying by your side that got you out of the NICU as soon as you did. You struggled immensely with feedings as you were too tired to suck and swallow efficiently. We often had to strip you naked and tickle your toes or sides to wake you up enough to eat, and even then you wouldn’t eat enough to keep your sugars stable. Because of this, most of your feeds continued through the NG tube.  Thankfully within another day your sugars had stabilized, but you continued to have trouble eating enough to maintain your weight. 

Since we were the ones always feeding you and watching you, however, we noticed that you started taking less and less through a bottle and requiring more food through tube feedings. Your nurses fought with us that this was because you were a daughter to a diabetic mom, and you would struggle with eating for quite some time. They assured us you might be in here for months before heading home, and we found ourselves outraged as we knew you were perfectly healthy (aside from having trouble eating).

At one point we came back from a meal to find that you had only taken 10 ccs of milk (you were taking 30 ccs by yourself at birth so this seemed odd to us). Your daddy and I prayed and talked in depth about what to do because we couldn’t believe that you were regressing in your feeding abilities. The nurse again told us this was because you were too exhausted to eat (due to my diabetes), and she told us to let them tube feed you the entire night through. We had such a hard time believing this, but we allowed them to do this as we knew this would tell us if it was truly you being too tired to eat or not.

As the next morning rolled around, you were well-rested and the most awake we had ever seen you. You were staring at us with your beautifully large and innocent eyes, and you stayed awake for such long stretches that we were stunned. Yet you still wouldn’t eat. You took only 11ccs, and that confirmed our instinct that you had become lazy. You never had to eat (which was a lot of work for you) in order to feel full, so you chose not to do the work. You were quite smart right from birth, Munchkin. 

We then fought terribly hard to be able to get the NG tube out of you so that we could try feeding you without the tube helping you. The physician’s assistant told us that our “little experiment” wouldn’t work, and you would have to be back on the NG tube by the next day. We didn’t care as we knew we had to try. We also felt in our hearts that you were perfectly capable of taking enough food, but you simply didn’t have to with the NG tube in. 

Your first pictures after the NG tube was removed.

The first feeding after the tube was out was another meager 11ccs, but we expected this as we knew you were waiting to feel full from the tube. When you didn’t receive that supplement through the tube, you were actually trying to suck on your hands to show us you were hungry a mere two hours later! We could hardly believe it as you had never shown a single hunger cue until then!  The next feeding you managed 20 ccs, and then a few hours later you ate 30! From there you maintained 30-45 ccs at each feeding!! We were so very proud of you because we knew you could do it! 

The next 48 hours were quite important for you as we had to watch and wait to ensure you would continue to take enough each feeding. There was one feeding that you took about 15 ccs, and I found myself in tears as I worried this would make them put the tube back in. They reassured me, however, that as long as you maintained an average of 32 ccs per feeding then they would leave the tube out. Well Angel, you did it! You maintained the average you needed just fine, and over the 48 hours after the tube’s removal you managed to eat on your own and gain weight!!

The doctor’s told us that you would be able to come home as long as you passed their car seat test (a test to make sure you could handle being in a car seat for an hour and half without having any breathing problems)! Oh we were so happy, Sydney! We found ourselves holding our breath throughout the car seat test, but of course you passed it with flying colors! When the physician’s assistant (a different one than from before) asked if we wanted to take you home, I sat and cried. I had prayed and longed for this day since your birth, and it was finally coming true!
During your car seat test!

We dressed you in the sweetest pink outfit, and we wrapped you in the two blankets that I came home in as a baby! We then waited so patiently so that we could complete all the discharge paperwork required by the NICU. As we walked you downstairs in your car seat, we were stunned at how much we had gone through and you had gone through to get to this point. And here we were finally heading home with the most precious package we had ever been given!

Your going-home outfit. It was different than we anticipated because of how small you were, but you looked beautiful regardless!

You were so tiny in the car seat! Here you are coming home for the first time in the same blankets Mommy came home in.
Your car ride home and the whole first day home were quite uneventful. We spent the entire time staring at you, feeding you, and cuddling you. In fact, that’s pretty much all we did for the next month!

Sydney, carrying you in my body and birthing you was truly the best thing I have ever done in my entire life. I cherished every single moment I could of the entire experience, and I am trying to cherish every moment of your infancy as well. I find myself ignoring chores just so that I can sit and stare at your beautiful face. I hold you, and tears roll down my cheeks as I sit and think of just how blessed I am. My life has never been more perfect than it is now that you are here, and every single day that I wake up and get to see your gorgeous face is another blessing that I intend to enjoy fully! Thank you, baby girl, for changing my life so wholly and wonderfully. You are incredible, and I look forward to every single moment we will be lucky enough to share together as the days, weeks, months, and years go on. I love you, Sydney, more than words will ever convey.
Love, Mom

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sydney's birth story: Part One

I have been working on getting this just how I want it for awhile now, and while I have yet to think it is perfect I know that it is time to share it. This is part one of her birth story. It is quite long, and it goes from when labor started until her actual arrival. The craziness which ensued after her delivery will be in part two. I started this over a month ago so the date is different, and it is written to my daughter so it is written a bit differently than it would be if it was just a blog post.

My Dearest Sydney,

It’s so hard to believe that you will be three weeks old tomorrow, June 7, 2013. I have spent the majority of the past three weeks just staring in wonder at the miracle of you. I find myself wrapped up in your tiny noises, engrossed by your facial expressions, and totally in love when you open your eyes and look at me.  In truth, the past three weeks have been the best three weeks of my life.  I realized, however, that I have spent no time documenting your life thus far because I’ve been too caught up in staring at you. What follows is a summary of your birth and the first three weeks of your amazing life. I love you, Angel!

May 16, 2013 marked the arrival of week 36 in my pregnancy with you. My body had been aching for a few weeks at this point because (mostly) of the bed rest that I was on due to my risk of preeclampsia.  I had an appointment with Dr. Ismail at 10:00 to have an NST and BPP (non-stress test and biophysical profile) and then see the doctor. Your grandpa was driving me up to my appointments at University of Chicago because I was told not to drive, and it was so nice to have the company during the many months of visits up there. 

I woke up that morning feeling exhausted. You were always such a good night time sleeper in my tummy, but the previous night you were awake almost the entire night through. You kept kicking, punching, rolling your head, and doing whatever else you could think of in your cramped quarters. This was so extremely unlike you, and I was kept awake by your strong movements for hours on end. When the alarm went off in the morning, I struggled to keep my eyes open and I dreaded the tiring length of the day ahead of me. I truly had no idea how long the day would actually be.

My NST went great, and you passed the biophysical profile with flying colors. They attempted to get a 3D picture of your face for us, but the technician remarked that you were so far down in my pelvis that it was just simply impossible to get a picture of your face. She was shocked at how low you were. We had been hearing that you were low for weeks so I really didn’t think much of this comment, and I proceeded to wait for Dr. Ismail’s appointment. 

As I was called back to Dr. Ismail’s office, I was put into an exam room, and my blood pressure was taken. My blood pressure was pretty high as it had been a few days prior at my last appointment. They were very concerned at this point that I was developing preeclampsia so on May 13 I had many blood tests done, and a 24-hour urine collection as well. They were hoping to have results for me during this appointment to make sure that everything was safe for me and you. 

As I was waiting for the doctor to come in, I started feeling miserable suddenly. I was nauseous, crampy, and just overall feeling terrible. Dr. Ismail arrived shortly after this feeling began, and after talking to me for about ten minutes, he concluded that he believed I was in active labor. He had his P.A. check me which showed that I was 100% effaced and 2 cm dilated. He immediately sent me over to labor and delivery to be evaluated, but I figured we would be going home in a short while. I truly did not think that I was in labor at this point.

I vaguely remember the walk over to labor and delivery as I also called your daddy’s school to find out what time his lunch was (I didn’t want to interrupt his classes to tell him I was in labor and delivery since I knew I was going home soon).  I checked in at the L&D desk, and I was given a gown to change into and hooked up to the monitors to see about contractions.  Sure enough, I was contracting every 2-3 minutes, and they were looking like very promising contractions. Since I had steroid shots with you at 33 weeks for our preterm labor scare, there was no reason to stop labor from happening at this point so they moved me into the labor and delivery room for admission.

At this point, I called your daddy to make sure he knew what was happening. I explained that they were admitting me and this was the real deal (we had had two previous hospitalizations prior to your delivery); you would be making your arrival into this world within the next 24 hours! Your daddy’s work immediately told him to go, and he, Grandma, and Auntie Ellie came up as fast as they could to be with me. 

Shortly after being admitted to a private room, they broke the news to me that I did indeed have preeclampsia. This meant that I was to be put on a magnesium sulfate drip to protect me from having seizures during labor. The problem with magnesium sulfate, they explained, was that it was known to stop labor so they planned on adding in Pitocin if needed to continue my labor pattern. I had really not wanted to have Pitocin so I was quite sad to hear this news, but I knew that it was safest for both of us if you made your arrival vaginally so if Pitocin was needed I would be okay with it. 

Your daddy arrived shortly after all of this was explained, and it was nice to have my family there to support me. I called Grandma Murray to let her know I was in labor as well, and she planned on coming to the hospital as soon as she got off of work. Everyone was quite anxious and excited for your arrival! Soon after Daddy’s arrival, they hooked me up to the magnesium sulfate, and this is where things start to get a little blurry for me. The magnesium sulfate created an almost anesthetic like effect where everything seemed really foggy and blurry (literally). Unfortunately, it did nothing to take away from the pain of contractions. 

Within about an hour of starting the magnesium, the Pitocin was started because my contractions stopped being regular. It was hard to accept that I needed Pitocin, but the whole experience wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it to be. In fact, the contractions got stronger, but they were completely manageable as long as I had a hand to squeeze and a pillow to breathe into. I actually remember having Braxton Hicks contractions which were stronger than the ones during the Pitocin. 

These contractions continued for hours upon hours as they let me labor on my own. I wasn’t able to get out of bed which was the most frustrating part to me, but it was required because of the magnesium. So I lay in bed as the family took turns staying beside me so everyone could eat dinner. Your Auntie Ellie bought a sweet headband and socks for your arrival, and your Grandma Murray showed up at this point too. This period of time seemed to go by so quickly and before I realized it, it was starting to get dark outside.

At some point, I decided I wanted to watch the season finale of American Idol while going through the contractions, but I remember so little of the actual show! I was too busy breathing through contractions every three minutes or so that it was hard to focus on what was happening. 

About 12 hours in (around midnight), Daddy convinced me to get an epidural so I could get some rest. I felt that I had been handling the contractions well, and I fought him on this decision. He managed to talk me into it though as he worried I was too exhausted (remember I had very little sleep from the previous night).  Even when anesthesia came in to talk to me, I told them I really wasn’t sure I needed it but to put the order in for one anyway. So they did. At this point, they also decided to check me to see how much I had progressed. 

When the doctor came in to check me, I remember wondering how far I had progressed and how many centimeters dilated I was.  I never really expected her to tell me that I hadn’t progressed at all except that you had moved further down in the birth canal. I was truly heartbroken. I had been in active labor for twelve hours and made no progress whatsoever! I felt defeated at this point, and I realized the epidural would probably help move things along. 

About twenty minutes after being checked, my water broke! I remember asking the nurses a dozen times if the water was clear, and each time they assured me that yes it was. I was so worried that something would be wrong during your delivery that I kept questioning everything. Within minutes of my water breaking, my contractions went from manageable to completely terrible. They were so painful that I could hardly breathe through them, and I was so grateful that anesthesia was on their way with the epidural. I had been so against having an epidural, but these contractions were no joke anymore, and I didn’t want to manage them without pain meds.

Receiving the epidural was scarier than I wanted it to be, but at the same time not as bad as I had imagined. I always worried about the needle going into my back, but honestly I didn’t feel that part at all. The part that was scary was when my blood pressure plummeted, and I started blacking out. Daddy was in the room holding me up during the procedure, and he said there was a lot of blood everywhere. He also heard the doctors talking to each other about how the medicine they were giving me just wasn’t working, and he very quickly became quite frightened. It took several minutes to get things back to where they were supposed to be, and I soon started feeling better. 

They explained that I could hit a button for additional pain medicine to be delivered when I needed it, and it was only minutes after the doctor left that I was hitting the button because only one side of my body was getting any relief from the contractions. After several contractions and still being in excruciating pain, the nurse called the anesthesiologist back to give me a bolus of pain meds to see if that would help. The bolus did help for a few minutes, but then the pain was back on one side yet again. At this point, it was pretty apparent that my epidural was “patchy” and would only cover part of the pain.

The doctors told me to try and sleep as much as I could because I would need my energy for pushing, but I simply couldn’t sleep with the pain I was in. Thankfully, I had a wonderful support system around me to help get me through each contraction. I squeezed the bed railing so hard while your daddy put pressure on my back each time a new contraction would come on. I was so exhausted at this point, and I truly had no idea how I could keep going any longer. 

An hour after my water broke, I started feeling a lot of pressure between my legs but I didn’t think anything of it. With the epidural being patchy, everything felt a little different anyway. When the pressure continued to increase during the next hour, I told Grandma Brooks how as I feeling, and she asked the nurse to have someone check me again.  When the doctor came in, I truly expected her to say that I hadn’t progressed much more. Instead, she told me that I was “complete,” which meant that I had gone from two centimeters dilated to ten in just two hours.  She also told me that you weren’t facing the “right way” for labor, and you were looking up toward the ceiling instead. I asked what that meant, and she told me it would be a harder labor than regular. Given how stubborn you were throughout the pregnancy, this didn’t really surprise me! Instead of worrying about your position, all I could think of at that point was It was officially time to push.

The nurse put an oxygen mask on me to help with the strain of pushing and given how exhausted I was, the oxygen was very beneficial for me. As I began pushing, the doctor who was on staff had already called Dr. Ismail to come in, but she would be taking care of me until he arrived. 
The next hour seemed like an eternity as I struggled to push with an epidural that had become very ineffective at this point. I could feel everything in both legs which meant it had basically worn off, but I had to keep pushing. I was so very frustrated with the doctors because they kept telling me I was making progress, but I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.  With each contraction, the pain was so strong that I thought I was going to rip off Daddy’s hand.

I kept pushing though, and eventually the doctor told me that she could see your head and that you had a full head of hair! I was thrilled to hear this, and it gave me an energy boost I desperately needed to keep going.  At this point, however, the doctors were handling two deliveries, and I found out that they told Dr. Ismail not to come in because he wasn’t going to make it in time for your birth.
The doctors kept going in and out of the room to deal with both births happening at the same time, and I kept asking where they were as I kept pushing and pushing with just our family and a nurse present. All of the sudden, the nurse told me to stop pushing (this seemed like the most horrific request and it was the hardest thing in the world to do), and I suddenly got scared. I thought something was wrong, but she simply had to run and get the doctors because it was officially time for you to make your entrance. 

I remember pushing as hard as I possibly could again and again at this point. Daddy said he was thinking I was going to pass out because of how strained my face was and how hard it was for me to breathe at this point. As soon as I felt burning, however, I felt such a relief because I knew that meant your head was ready to come out! I gave it all I could on that push, and I felt such a relief when your head popped out and at 4:25 AM on May 17, 2013, I watched you come into the world. You were so very beautiful, and I was ecstatic to hear your faint little cry. 

My first time holding her..completely exhausted and very out of it.

Everything happened quickly then. I was allowed to see you and give you a quick kiss before they whisked you off to the NICU to be monitored for your blood sugars because of my diabetes. In the time I got to see you though, you were crying and crying until they put you on my chest and you heard my voice. It was such a magical experience to know that my voice, which you obviously recognized, calmed you down so instantaneously. They also did tell me that you weighed 5 pounds and 14 ounces which I thought was great for only being 36 weeks! After you were taken to the NICU, I was so upset not to have you near me, and I was so exhausted at the same time. I ended up with a third degree tear from the birth, and it took them over an hour to stitch me up as well.  

I thought the stitches would be the worst part of the entire experience (after the actual labor), but I had no idea what was to come.

To be continued. . .