Friday, September 30, 2011

The Antepartum Suite

For those of you who are familiar with the term "antepartum" and are wondering what we were doing there after delivery, let me explain. The antepartum suites are right down the hall from labor and delivery and my doctors thought it would be best if I stayed close by for a little bit so they could keep an eye on me. At this point, Anna was doing great, but I was feeling pretty crummy. Most of that time is a little fuzzy in my memory, but here's what I DO remember:

I could not focus my eyes no matter how hard I tried. Everyone I looked at had two sets of eyes, one above the other. I'm still not sure if the extra set I was seeing were the upper or lower ones. I also couldn't read the clock, which was right at the end of my bed or see the TV very well. Oddly, I don't remember this annoying me. I think I found it kind of amusing.

Most of the rest of the day on Wednesday I just dozed on and off and enjoyed cuddling with Anna when I was awake. The lactation consultant came in and tried to get us breastfeeding, but that wasn't happening. Jamie wound up giving Anna bottles for the first 24 hours or so (happily, we kept at it and I can now say breastfeeding is going great!). Anna's nurse came in at one point to tell us she had accidentally been given two hepatitis vaccinations. How does that happen?? We were concerned, but were assured she was fine. Several different hospital staff members came in throughout the day to talk to us about it. At one point, her pediatrician came in to tell us they'd called the CDC to check with them, and they said everything would be fine. I think if I wasn't so out of it I might have freaked out. Seriously, how does that happen?

Wednesday night, Arri and my mom left and Jamie stayed with me and Anna. And that's when the you-know-what hit the fan. The first not-so-great moment came when my nurse told me I'd have to have ANOTHER catheter. Remembering how uncomfortable catheters one and especially two had been, I sorta flipped. I remember sobbing and begging her not to do it. All through the day I'd been having bouts of violent shivering. I didn't feel cold (although warm blankets seemed to stop it), I was just shaking uncontrollably. The shakes came back right about then, so I was a pleading, crying, shaking mess. It was ugly. Thankfully, this catheter was not as uncomfortable as they earlier one had been.

Late Wednesday night I apparently had some kind of reaction to the magnesium. The nurse later said my magnesium levels were too high. All I know is I started feeling AWFUL. I was dizzy, my ears were ringing, I was nauseous and I was sure I was either going to pass out or throw up. Maybe both. We called for the nurse and after a few minutes waiting for her, we called again and told her to hurry up! I can't remember if it was me or Jamie who hit the call button, but I do remember insisting she come quickly! Which is really not like me, so I must have been feeling really bad.

Shortly after the nurse arrived, I did get sick. It was horrible. I remember around that time telling Jamie that I felt so bad I just wanted to throw myself out the window. But I felt too bad to get up and over to the window. Which is probably a good thing since we were only on the second floor and a fall from there would have just caused me more pain.

Thankfully the doctor took me off the magnesium at that point. For the next 24 hours I got really nervous every time they checked my blood pressure. I REALLY did want to go back on that awful stuff!!

They decided after doing some blood work that I wasn't bouncing back from the blood loss fast enough, and so they started a transfusion. Also around that time the nurses decided leaving Jamie with me and the baby was asking a little much of a new dad. So they took Anna to the nursery for the night ("nursery" being a loose term since they don't really have a real nursery at NEGA; she spent the night in her bassinet behind the nurses station). Jamie was pretty relieved! He was doing a great job and was already becoming a pro at diapering and swaddling, but taking care of both of us at once was a little overwhelming to say the least.

At some point - the timeline's a little tough to remember - my IV infiltrated. I'd never heard that term used before, and I'm still not sure exactly what that means, medically speaking. As far as I could tell it means your arm swells like a balloon and gets really sore. I couldn't straighten it out completely for days.

My veins had apparently shrunk down into nothingness, so putting in a new IV was pretty tough. The lab people were also coming every few hours to draw blood and each time they had to stick me several places to find a decent vein. I felt like a pin cushion.

Between being off the magnesium and getting a little extra blood, by the time they brought Anna back to us at 9 on Thursday morning, I was feeling a little better. The nurses told me as soon as the blood transfusion was completed I could move on to our next stop, the mother-baby wing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Delivery Day!

Our second day in L&D started at 6:30am when my nurse came in to wake me up. She told me to take a shower and they would be back in at 7 to start the second induction drug, Pitocin.

I tried to get myself psyched up while I showered. I told myself my delivery could still go the way I wanted, even with the induction. Here's what I wanted:
- Hold off on the epidural as long as possible, maybe not have one at all.
- Be very proactive in moving my labor along by walking the halls, rocking in the rocking chair, etc.
- Not have a creepy dude deliver my precious daughter.

Let me explain that last one a little. I go to a very large OB/GYN practice. I considered leaving when I found out we were expecting, but ultimately decided I like my doctor too much. I stayed and saw my regular OB for all but a couple visits. However, I knew whoever was on call the day I delivered would do the delivery. So I was a little nervous about who it might be.

My first disappointment came early when I found out Jack was on call that day and would be delivering Anna. Jack the male midwife. Don't judge me, but a male midwife totally weirds me out. I mean WIFE is right there in the word.

On the plus side, Jack is what they call very "granola" and anti-epidural, so I knew he'd support me in having a natural delivery.


I had to be on Magnesium (aka Devil Juice) because of my blood pressure. And because of the magnesium, I had to have catheter #2 (this was about the worst thing ever; so so so uncomfortable!!) And because of the catheter, I had to stay in my bed. On my back. Just laying there enjoying the contractions. So walking, rocking, etc. were out of the question. We decided to go ahead with the epidural pretty quickly!

So day two looked like this - shower at 6:30, start the Pitocin at 7:00. Contractions started pretty quickly and were very productive, especially considering I was not dilated at all when I came into the hospital. By 12:30(ish), my water had broken on its own, my epidural was in place and I was 10 centimeters and ready to push.

At least my nurse said I was ready to push.

I on the other hand, felt way too drugged up and tired (a side effect of the magnesium and a pain killer they had given me when I was trying to hold off on the epidural). I asked if I could wait and the nurse, seeming a little confused at that request, suggested we try pushing for a while just to see how it went.

Here's how it went - I pushed for 2 stinkin' hours, couldn't feel what I was doing because of the epidural, and I don't think that baby moved one centimeter.

We took a break and the nurses left saying they'd return in 30 minutes. It was more like 45, and during that time my epidural wore off. I could now feel the contractions and was really feeling like I needed to get that baby out!! When they (finally!) returned, I pushed for another hour and finally at 4:45 our beautiful girl made her appearance. I was so happy to finally see her! Lots of people have commented on my pushing for 3 hours, but honestly that was the best part of the delivery. It was hard, I was exhausted, but it was nice to be doing something instead of just laying there in pain. And once all the after-delivery fun started for me, pushing seemed like a walk in the park. They put her on my chest and let me hold her for a minute before taking her to be weighed and measured.

Unfortunately, that's when things started to get ugly for me. I was hemorrhaging badly and the midwife was trying to quickly stop the bleeding. This mainly involved having the nurses press on my stomach with all their strength. Super painful! I also needed a ton of stitches and basically was not doing so hot. As far as the day was from my ideal, this was my biggest disappointment. My sweet baby girl was being cuddled, kissed and loved on by her daddy, Nana and Aunt Arri and I was unable to hold her. One of the things I loved about our hospital was their policy of giving mom and baby bonding time. Typically the baby is given a quick once-over to make sure they're healthy, wiped off and handed over to mom and they're given up to 2 hours to bond before the baby is taken for their bath and immunizations in the nursery. I was looking forward to that and was really bummed that I couldn't take advantage of it.

But our girl was BEAUTIFUL and healthy and I was so happy to see her precious face. Once they got me all settled we were relocated to our next stop on the NE Georgia Medical Center tour, the antepartum suite.

A Funny Little Story

Yesterday I was singing to Anna. She usually LOVES when I sing to her (she'll get over that as soon as she learns what music is supposed to sound like I'm sure). She was watching me and listening, pleasant and content when I decided to try "You are My Sunshine". I guess it's not my best piece, because as soon as I started to sing her lower lip started making its way out. As I sang, her pout got bigger and bigger until she finally broke out in a loud wail. It was hilarious to watch! I have to try to get the pout on camera. She just started doing it and it's so cute!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Labor and Delivery - Day One

Once I arrived at the hospital, I was taken into a labor and delivery room, told to change into a gown and then the fun began.

Because they were worried about my blood pressure, the put a cuff on me and set it to take my pressure every 5 minutes. Then they gave me a lovely plastic wedge pillow and told me to lay on my left side. Apparently this helps your blood pressure. It also gets really uncomfortable after several hours. This was also when they gave me the first of what would end up being three catheters. I won't go into detail, but catheter + labor? Not fun at all!

Jamie got there soon after I checked in and I was so happy to see him! (Actually according to his security nametag, the man who came to my hospital room was Jamison Ho Falen. But whatever, he looked like my husband).

The afternoon was pretty stressful. Every time someone came in, they told me something different. One moment they were concerned about my blood pressure and lab work results and were in a hurry to deliver and weren't ruling out the possibility of a c-section. The next my pressure seemed to be stabilizing and they were going to wait and let me eat lunch and then start the induction that evening. The back and forth was really frustrating! But by late afternoon they had decided to let me eat something and rest for a few hours and start the induction that evening.

Meanwhile, my mom had changed her flight and left right away, so by Tuesday evening she had arrived. Jamie's sister Arri was in Atlanta taking care of some official business for her teaching stint in Korea, so she was able to pick my mom up and be there with us, too.

By Tuesday night I was settled in, still on my left side (which was now mostly numb), just hanging out with Jamie and my mom in my room. We decided Jamie would go home for one last good night of sleep in our bed before baby, and my mom would stay with me overnight.

Before bed, they started the first induction medication, Cervidil, and it started working right away. I started having contractions and they decided to stop the Cervidil and let my body do its own thing overnight. It was a good sign that the Cervidil started working so quickly and an indication of things to come! Mom and I tried our hardest to get a little bit of sleep before the real fun started the next day...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Doctor's Office **

My plan for Tuesday August 2nd looked like this:
Doctor at 10:30
Target and Babies R Us to make some returns and buy some still-needed baby items
Home to finish washing and putting away baby clothes

Here's what actually happened...

I got to the doctor a few minutes early for my 10:30 appointment and was still sitting in the waiting room at 11:30. I was pregnant, hormonal, irritable and TICKED OFF when they finally called me back. When the nurse told me my blood pressure was "a little high" I had to try really hard to keep myself from responding, "Ya think??" I wasn't too concerned. She told me to sit and relax for 10 minutes and she'd take it again and see what happened. Ten minutes later, it wasn't any lower and they decided to put me on the fetal monitors to make sure our baby girl was doing ok.

After a few minutes of monitoring, the midwife came in and told me that the baby looked great, but that my protein levels were high in addition to my high blood pressure. High blood pressure + high protein levels = preeclampsia. I really didn't know much about preeclampsia, so I was concerned but not too freaked out. Until she said, "Once preeclampsia starts it will continue to get worse until the baby is delivered. So it's time to have a baby."

Wait...what? Like today? Yep.

I asked if I could go home and get my things together and she said, "No I'm going to register you here and you're going to go right over and get checked in."

Then I started freaking out.

But honestly I was pretty impressed with myself for not totally losing it. I answered all the registration questions ("Are you planning on getting an epidural?" "Umm...I don't know I wasn't planning on being induced a week early..." "Who is your pediatrician?" "Umm...I hadn't chosen one quite yet." I was very helpful.) On my way out of the doctor's office, I called Jamie. No answer. I tried again, no answer. I think I deserve some sort of award for not losing it at this point. I called his office and spoke to the receptionist who told me Jamie was at a client's. Dang it. I tried his cell phone two more times and still no answer. And I STILL didn't freak out, thank you very much. I decided to call his office back and get the number for the client and call him there. But when I called, the receptionist told me they'd already reached him.

Here's how Jamie found out about the impending birth of his daughter. He was sitting in a meeting with a client at her office when her phone rang. She answered and this is what Jamie heard:
"Yes he's here....his wife's in labor?....ok I'll tell him."
He called me right away and I explained I was NOT in labor, but I was going to be soon! He of course left his meeting immediately and headed straight to the hospital.

In the meantime, I called my mom who was supposed to be arriving at 3:00 the next day. She had planned to fly in a full week before my due date so we could get some stuff done before the baby came. Obviously Anna was not waiting for her Nana. The doctor had told me the induction could take a while and I'd most likely deliver late on Wednesday or early on Thursday, so I told Mom she could change her flight, but she didn't have to. She did.

So with both Jamie and my mom on their way, I headed over the hospital to have this baby a whole lot earlier than I'd expected!

**This is a long story and I didn't figure anyone wanted to read a novel so I broke it into pieces. I decided the easiest way to do that would be by location. Tune in next time for the delivery room :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pictures of Our Cutie

Anna loves being outside, so we've been taking her out in the backyard in the evening to enjoy the cooler weather. How cute are they?

Tummy time! Look how well she holds her head up. We're so proud :) And that expression cracks me up.

And last, but not least - it's not a fabulous picture, but I caught a smile! I love that she's smiling now. It melts me every time. And look how chunky she's getting!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Other Half

Anna got to meet most of the Hotalen side of the family this past weekend (minus her Grandpa). We had a fun weekend and Anna loves her family!

Uncle Aron

Uncle Shane

Aunt Julie

Grandma :)

Next month we're hoping Jamie's parents can both come up again for TFC's homecoming and Anna will get to meet her Grandpa!

Today we had her 2 month appointment with the pediatrician and she's almost 9 pounds! She's starting to get a little bit better about sleeping and has even given us a good 6 hour stretch a few nights. She's also started smiling at us, which is the sweetest thing EVER! And she will hold eye contact with us now too. It's so cute when she just stares at me or her daddy. I always wonder what it is she's thinking. We're slowly adjusting to being home all day just the two of us. Some days have been harder than others, but we're getting there. It's a big adjustment, but I'm thankful for the chance to be home with her full-time! How could I not be when she's so darn cute?