Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finally Fiona

Fiona Opal Ione Strange made her appearance Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 12:23 AM. All 9lbs 7oz of her! We have spent the last few days recovering, resting and basking.

It was not the HBAC we had planned for but it was a VERY successful VBAC!! Things did not all happen as we had planned, but few things in life, and especially in birth, rarely do. Honestly we could not have asked for a better birth experience.

Wednesday morning I took care of some school work and then headed out to do some errands to get ready for Thanksgiving. I had a couple more things to pick up from the grocery and wanted to get all my "outside" stuff done early so I could get some work in and start the preparations for dinner the next day. Plus Jane was home from school and I knew she would like some "Mom Time". Even when it's doing mundane things like grocery shopping they like to be able to get out with just mom. Plus there's usually a little treat tucked in there, too. A hot cocoa from Starbucks or a candy bar the sisters don't know about. We were just picking up the last things through the store when I started to feel faint. I was suddenly VERY hot and slightly short of breath and broke out in a cold sweat all over. I knew that if I wasn't careful I would end up passing out so we hurried to the cashier and checked out. Thankfully noon on a Wednesday is not a high volume sales time so we were out of there in a couple of minutes. I thought maybe my blood sugar was low since it was lunch time and I hadn't eaten in a couple hours. I hadn't been as hungry with breakfast and I hadn't had a snack before we left. I ate a Snickers and gulped down a Sprite hoping that the chocolate and sugar would make me feel better. I called Charlene to get her take on it. My blood pressure had been up a bit on Monday when I was at the doctors, too - so I was a little worried. She suggested that I take my blood pressure and so I popped into Rite Aid. It was running high but not much higher than it had been at the doctor's so she said not to be alarmed. She said that if I felt like I should go in then I should listen to my instincts and call the doctor. So that's what I did. I called and spoke with one of the nurses who said pretty much the same thing. "You should be fine but if you feel like you should come in then do so". I was glad Doug was home from work when I got home. The doctor's office had suggested that I do some kick-counts and that I should come in if I didn't get 10 movements in 2 hours. Or, if I wanted I could come in then and get monitored. (I'm starting to notice a theme here.)

So, we waited a while and I just wasn't feeling the movement that I felt like I should and told Doug that I wanted to go in and get monitored for a while. We took the girls and grabbed the video camera and Nikon - just in case (both of which we later realized had dead batteries!). I called Charlene and let her know that we had decided to go in and that we would let her know what the outcome was.

We checked in at the Birth Center and let them know how the day had gone and they hooked me up to the monitors. Luckily my OB, Dr Fassler, was on call. After a while he came in and said that he didn't like how baby's heart rate was doing. Not enough to be alarmed but it wasn't what he would call "ideal". He said that since I was term and dialated about 5 anyway that he was all for breaking my waters. Might as well get things going. This meant a hospital birth and not the home birth we had been planning but that was ok. We were both ready.
So Doug took the girls to get some dinner and called his dad to let them know what was going on and that it was time to have a baby!
We moved to the birthing room and got started! Dr. Fassler broke my water at about 7:30 and things got started right away. The contractions started getting more intense almost immediately. I had been contracting about every 5 minutes already. We got the wireless monitor and did some walking through the halls. That really got things going.
The contractions were intense and close together. I was able to talk through most of them and visit with everyone who came to be with us -Penny, Phil, Amy, Staci, Shelby and the girls. It was good to have so many people who love us close during this time. The girls did really great. There was a point when Jane was upset by seeing me in obvious pain. We sat and talked about how natural this was. How this is all part of being a girl and that there is nothing more natural in the world. I told her how this is what our bodies are designed to do as girls. That we are born to be able to have babies. I told her that yes, it was uncomfortable and hard but that it was for a good reason! She sat with me through a couple good contractions and I helped her "help" me through them. It was strengthening to know that she was so worried about me. I tried to make it clear to her that even though it did hurt that there was nothing to worry about and that we were working towards a goal and that once we had reached it I would feel so much better.
We just had to work through it together. I think this helped the other girls, too. While they weren't as vocal about it, I could tell they were concerned too. It's difficult to watch someone you love hurting for any reason. Especially when you don't know what is happening. I am so proud of them.
Doug was my rock. He was my strength. I have told him repeatedly that I could not have gone through it like I did without him. I am amazed at him. He had an almost internal monitor to my contractions. The more intense they became the more we were able to tune into each other. He was my physical support so many times and my emotional support through the entire experience. Holding me, supporting me, and reminding me of my own strength. His mom and Amy have both told me that they were amazed by us. How in tune we were with each other - how connected we were. I was disconnected from everything but the moment and him. We took one contraction at a time. He reminded me to breathe, that this is what my body was designed to do. He told me how much he loved me and how beautiful I was. While physically I was the one who gave birth to our baby, we did it together.
It was wonderful to be surrounded by family. People have been surprised to find that we had so many people there with us. Even more so that Phil (Doug's dad) was not only there but was the one taking pictures. It meant a lot to me that he was there and captured such perfect moments for us. Thank you to everyone who was able to be there with us.

Our doctor was wonderful. He helped us to have the birth we were looking for. He was incredibly patient with me. Even though I was instinctively fighting my body he helped make it easier for me. He talked me through what I had to do. He understood our desire for a natural birth and was very supportive. He didn't try to push me to do anything that we weren't comfortable with
and didn't restrict my movements during labor. We were lucky to have him on call that night. For so long we have expected to struggle with having a VBAC - this never was an issue that came up. He never brought up c-section, never discussed an epidural or any other augmentation of my labor.
It was 5 hours from breaking my water to Fiona's birth. It was intense, difficult, painful and a LOT of work. By the end I was exhausted. I could hardly keep my eyes open between pushes and contractions. Once she was born we were elated. Still exhausted but elated. She spent two hours after she was born nursing - strong and alert. We couldn't ask for a better experience.
We're enjoying our daughter and addition to our family.
It has been a long few days. I am still tired. Still recovering. I hope that I was able to do justice to Fiona's birth story. What a happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No baby yet!

First of all, thank you to everyone who has called to check on us! I appreciate all of the care and concern.

Fiona is still taking her time deciding to join the rest of us in this big ol' world. It's been a difficult week. As most know I've never gone this long. That itself is a blessing. However, it's also a tad frustrating. Last weekend Doug and I went to a nice dinner together at Salty's. Kind of a last date night before the baby. It was a chance to reconnect and concentrate on each other for a while. The weekend was hard for me emotionally. Not knowing what's going on has been difficult. In the past I've always been so monitored that I didn't move without someone knowing it. Now we're just waiting to see. I'm not patient and this gets to me. I don't feel like I'm doing anything and that's hard. Doug has been wonderful through it all. While he is at a loss for what to do when I burst into tears he's trying to be supportive. I know it's hard as I apologize in between sobs. He just laughs and hugs me and says "baby will come when baby is ready". It's not terribly helpful when I'm ready but he's so comforting I feel better.

I'm doing what I can to stay occupied. It's not terribly easy. My boss, knowing how close I am, has reduced my work load. There's only so much to do at home - although I could do more. It is hard to concentrate on any one thing for a length of time. But, I'm working on it. Doug's schedule is a little different these days so he's home more. It helps having him home.
I did have the realization yesterday that Thanksgiving is only a week away. We've been concentrating so much on the baby that I hadn't realized how quickly it was approaching. Yes, I am planning on hosting this year, even being so close to when I'm due. No, I'm not crazy. This was difficult for Doug to agree to but he finally did. The girls are home this year and it's important to me that they have Thanksgiving at home. They are excited since they will be helping cook. Cooking has become something fun for them to do lately and so I like to let them do it as often as possible. It'll be fun to work out what they want to do.
So that's basically it. I'll keep you all posted when things start to happen. Hopefully soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting started - sort of.

I know it's been a while since I've updated. Things have been busy. That happens with a big, busy family.
I started contracting yesterday pretty regularly. I was timing them and they were between 5 and 25 minutes apart - never going more than 30 minutes for 5 hours or so. I knew I wanted to get checked but didn't want to go all the way to Valley just to come home again and I didn't want them to "send" me to the hospital because I had progressed to far. So I went to the family practice clinic I take the girls to. They have a walk in clinic and I explained to the receptionist what I wanted. They seemed a little confused as to what I was looking for at first but when I explained this was my 4th baby and I was contracting they agreed to check if I was dilating. Turns out I was dilated to 3.5cm!!! Yay! 4 is considered active labor so I was thrilled. I came home very excited! I called Doug and let him know that it would be soon and that he might not be going into work today. I called Charlene and let her know that she might want to be on standby - hopefully we were getting ready to have a baby! We had dinner and sat and watched some TV and the contractions were consistently about 8 minutes apart and lasted just over a minute for about 2 hours. When we went to bed we put some chucks pads under the sheets in case my water broke and got some sleep - fully expecting to get up in the middle of the night and call the midwife to come down. It was hard for me to get to sleep and I spent most of the night tossing and turning, more than normal. But I wasn't really having contractions or I was sleeping through the ones I was having and there was nothing more happening. It was frustrating to wake up at 5:30 and have it feel like any other day.
I am grateful for not being in the hospital though. Had I followed the advice of the on-call doctor at the walk in center I would have gone to the hospital last night once Doug got home. Once there I would have been put on the monitor for my contractions and had my cervix checked about every 30 minutes or so. The general guideline for hospitals is that you are expected to dilate 1cm every hour once you are in active labor. Sometimes they let you go a little longer. It depends on the doctor on call (one British study found that the more anxious personality the doctor had the more likely you were to have a c-section). So basically had I not progressed to completely dilated and ready to go over night they would have diagnosed me with "Failure to Progress" and started trying to augment my labor and the cascade of interventions that causes. All of which increase my risk for an unnecessary c-section. Thankfully that was not something we even had to have be part of our day.
My contractions have started up again this morning. I've had about 6 since I got up an hour and a half ago. I decided not to time them just yet, as it's not doing anything other than frustrating me. Doug is leaving for work in about an hour and I have a massage at 9. Maybe things will get going today and we'll have her tonight. Hopefully she doesn't decide to be stubborn! It looks like she does things on her own time, just like her Papa! I'll keep everyone posted.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Any time now

We're in the clear! No longer considered "high-risk" and now we wait.
I had a doctor's appointment yesterday. Everything is going well and we are right on track. As of tomorrow I am considered full term and can deliver any time. He checked my cervix and I'm only dilated to 1cm. He said the contractions I am having are normal and to just relax and try to rest. I don't want to rest! I want to get this on with already! I've never been this pregnant and that was only once with Jane (and I was hospitalized in labor). And even then it was a nerve wracking experience filled with doctors and hospitals and serious decisions to make. This time is just so, well... normal. Everything is functioning as it should be. While I have had changes I am going at the normal rate and progressing as expected.
I'm getting anxious about the whole thing. I'm ready and apparently Fiona is not. It's like getting the best present ever and not being able to open it. I think that part of it is knowing that we are finally past a point where even if I was to go to the hospital they wouldn't stop my labor and we would be treated like any other laboring woman. Charlene will be here tomorrow to visit with us. Hopefully she will be able to calm my nerves a bit. I have so much nervous energy that I don't really know what to do with. I'm thinking of going on a walk. Doug says not to push it but baby will only come when she is ready and for the moment seems rather content in her ever-shrinking mommy-condo. We've talked. I've tried to tell her all of the wonderful things waiting and the people that are excited to see her. So far it's gotten me a roll and a kick in the ribs.
Doug keeps telling me it's not time yet. He says "she's a Strange baby, and she hasn't hit the 9lb mark yet". I don't think he's funny. While I am looking forward to our natural home birth and everything that comes with it, I am not going to be upset if I am not able to proclaim that I had a 10lb baby at home! I've thought about it, come to terms with it, and will manage if this little one is actually little.
I promise to keep everyone informed and let everyone know as things progress.
Right now I think I'll go for a walk. Get rid of some of this energy so I can concentrate on the work I have to get done today.
Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and send lots of good vibes our way.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Belly Cast

While we were in Hawaii Doug and I saw a belly cast in a little shop we were wandering through. It was actually Doug who said that when I got further along it was something we definitely had to do. I've had mixed emotions about it as I've gotten bigger. I also wanted to do maternity portraits but that was just one of those things that we haven't gotten to and I don't think we will. The end of the pregnancy has come upon us faster than we thought and with the wedding, honeymoon, job changes for us both and everything else, it just didn't get to the top of the priority list. I'm not entirely heartbroken about it since I'm not too fond of having my picture taken these days anyway. It's hard to prioritize portraits when you're not feeling your most attractive. And I think there's enough photos floating around to document my ever expanding size that I'm OK with it.
Actually doing the cast was a blast. The girls watched and took pictures. Luckily they are girls and my own modesty is not something that I am particularly protective of. If the girls had their way (and Doug too) we'd have half a dozen of these. It was pretty fun!

Getting everything ready!
Reading the instructions carefully
This part was yucky! You have to cover yourself in Vaseline so the plaster doesn't stick to your skin. You know where you don't cover well later!
Censorship at its finest!
Pretty much covered

And waiting...
And being goofy!
Just waiting for it to dry now.

An obviously messy process!
The inside
The end result! Now we just wait for it to dry!
We'll add some plaster to smooth out the lines and do a bit of sanding before we paint. I'm still trying to decide how I want to decorate it. I'm thinking a Hawaiian theme since that is where the inspiration came. Plumeria flowers, pineapples, palm trees and sea turtles. We'll see!