Monday, July 22, 2013

Our Birth Story: Part Two

At this point, the story, unfortunately, gets fairly boring.  We arrived at the labor and delivery ward and settled into a triage room in order for the midwife would determine how far my labor had progressed.  I was hooked up to a fetal monitor, and within a few minutes, one of my favorite midwives, Kristen, came in to check on me.  The very first appointment I had with the midwifery practice was with Kristen, and I absolutely adore her.  It was such a relief to see a familiar and friendly face.  Once she checked me out, she told me, “Well, I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is you’re only 1.5 cm dilated…but the good news is your 100% effaced.” 

Ummmm…1.5 cm?  Seriously?  After all those contractions, I’m only 1.5 cm?  Seriously? At this point, Kristen no longer had such a friendly face...

I asked what exactly that meant, and she basically explained that with my effacement, the rest of the dilation could happen fairly quickly.  They just needed to keep me on the monitor to get twenty minutes of fetal movement, and after that, they were going to send me out to walk around and progress my labor.  Now, at this point, I did something kind of stupid…but kind of brilliant…and it bought me a little more time in the triage room.  Every time I had a contraction, I would stand up because that was the most comfortable means to get through the contraction.  Well… they didn’t tell me that every time I stood up, they lost the signal to the fetal monitor, and as a result, they couldn’t track twenty minutes of movement.  Whoops.  So, thirty minutes later, we had to start the timer over again, and this time, I had to lie still.  Luckily, the nurses showed me how to recline the triage bed, and I was able to find an incredibly comfortable position lying on my side.  To top that off, my son fell asleep in utero, so once again, they couldn’t record twenty minutes of movement.  I’m sure some people would have freaked out if their child’s movements weren’t being picked up on the fetal monitor—but I could feel him, and I knew that he was doing just fine.  So between our little Spiderman’s morning nap and my need to constantly get up and down, we were granted three blessed hours in the triage room.  During that time, I fell asleep for about an hour, and my husband—the trooper that he is—slept on the triage room floor for about an hour and a half.  We were both able to rest up before the day grew really hectic. 

Eventually, they sent an ultrasound technician into the room to make sure everything really was okay and get a clearer picture of my son.  For every ultrasound I had up to this point, my eyes were always glued to the screen.  I wanted to see absolutely every bit of my son that I could and soak in every moment he appeared on the screen.  This time however?  I curled up into a ball on the bed, breathed through my contractions, and decided that I would just wait to see his face in a few hours.  The incredibly sweet technician informed us that everything looked normal, our son was in fact sleeping through all of the excitement that was my labor, and we should soon expect a seven pound, fourteen ounce little boy.  Once he left, though, and we were assured that the baby was perfectly fine, it was time for the nurses to kick us out of the triage room.  They wanted me to walk around, either in the hospital, at the mall, or at home, in order to help progress my labor.  I’m fairly certain that this is not a midwife rule of thumb—I’ve been told that New York state law dictates that a woman in active labor cannot be admitted into a hospital until she is five centimeters dilated.  Since I was not at five centimeters, they wanted to send me about on my merry-little-way.

I was not at all okay with this game plan.  First of all, there was absolutely no way I was getting in my car again.  Driving three miles home or three miles to the mall?  Uh-uh.  Not going to happen.  I also told the nurse how my contractions became worse once I stood up and especially once I walked around.  What was to stop me from walking out into the hospital and turning right around and returning to the labor and delivery ward after my very first, intense contraction?  She told me to come back when the contractions felt different—whatever the hell that means.  She also said to get something to eat because once they did admit me, I wouldn’t be allowed eat anything until well after my son was born.  So reluctantly, I trudged out of the triage room, we left our overnight bag at the nurses’ station, and went to find something to eat.  And here is where things start to get reeeeeeaaaallllllyyyyyy interesting…

Monday, July 15, 2013

Our Birth Story: Part One

Months before I gave birth to my son, I kept envisioning exactly what I wanted for my labor:  a quick, easy, natural, drug free delivery.  In fact, I wanted everything to happen so quickly that we barely had time to call our friends and family to even tell them that I was in labor.  I kept seeing the classic movie scene of a husband and wife frantically rushing off to the hospital, proclaiming, "The baby's coming!  The baby's coming!"  The baby would then be born an hour later with barely any time to get settled into the delivery suite.  You see, I grew up listening to the story of how my mother gave birth to me.  She went into labor at four o’clock in the afternoon, played cards at my grandparents’ house for five hours, was finally forced to go to the hospital by my father and grandfather, and one hour later, she had me.  Until I met my mother-in-law and she described the harrowing 25 hours of labor it took to deliver my husband, I really had no idea that labors lasted longer than six-seven hours.  Yes, I was painfully naïve in that regard.  In the weeks leading up to my son’s delivery, I kept praying that I had my mother’s genes and that my labor would go smoothly. Well, as it turns out, quite a few of my visions came true…

On the day I went into labor, I was three days overdue—but truthfully, I was feeling incredibly relaxed.  The most stressful part of waiting was wondering when our maternity and paternity leaves were going to actually begin.  In fact, my husband and I really made the best out of our last few days as just the two of us.  On Friday, we had a date night and indulged in Long Island’s version of Tex-Mex; I made sure to eat some good spicy food to help induce labor.  On Sunday, we saw Warm Bodies (nothing says going into labor like a good zombie flick) and both fell asleep during the Super Bowl.  (New England wasn’t playing, so I wasn’t about to fight one more precious nap.)  In fact, the worst part of being overdue was the constant phone calls, texts, and facebook posts asking if there was a baby yet.  No, people.  There is no baby.  So chill out.

Thus, I went to work as usually on Tuesday and taught two classes.  I was lecturing about research skills and doing my best to induce labor by walking up and down the aisle of our computer lab—a great lecture technique and a means to ensure my students weren’t surfing the internet.  Then, during my four o’clock class, as I paced the aisle, I had a contraction that literally took my breath away.  I stopped dead in my tracks and paused for a couple seconds—briefly enough that my students didn’t even notice anything was different—and thought to myself, “Is this it?!”  Now, I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions since the beginning of the third trimester, so I had no reason to suspect that this contraction was anything different…but I was incredibly hopeful that it was different.  I continued about my business, and by the time I arrived home, I was having regular contractions, which felt like small waves of pressure in my lower abdomen, about ten minutes apart.  I was starting to get my hopes up that this was the real deal, but by eleven o’clock, the contractions were no longer consistent and were, in fact, growing farther apart.  My Lamaze teacher had emphasized that the real contractions would be stronger, longer, and closer together, and these were no such thing.  At midnight, I went to bed thinking that I would not be having a baby the next day.

Three hours later, I woke up, feeling an extreme amount of pressure in my lower abdomen.  I thought to myself, “Man, I really have to go to the bathroom!” So I got out of bed, trudged to the bathroom, but the trip didn’t help in the slightest.  The pressure kept coming and coming and coming.  I even went to the bathroom a couple more times, thinking that I was just really constipated.  It took me about twenty-five minutes to realize that these contractions felt different than any I had experienced before…and they were not going away.  They were in fact stronger…longer…AND closer together.  Oh dear God.  This really was it.

I tried to fall back asleep, but the contractions would have none of that.  Instead, I practiced my Lamaze breathing as best as I could and tried to just relax.  At every one of my midwife appointments, they emphasized that we didn’t need to call the midwife on-call until my contractions were five minutes apart, lasting for one minute, with this pattern continuing for an hour.   As soon as I realized that I was in labor, all I wanted to do was get on the phone with the midwife and head straight to the hospital.   The last place I wanted to be was home.  Still, I kept breathing and watching the minutes tick away.  Finally, after about forty-five minutes of dealing with the contractions on my own, I woke up my husband.  I said, “Honey…I need you to wake up because I think I’m in labor, and I need you to time my contractions and help me breathe.”  Now, a lot of people have asked me:  What was Kevin’s reaction?  Did he jump out of bed?  Did he get panicked and nervous?  Did he start racing to get ready to go the hospital?  Nope.  He groggily said, “Mmmmmokay,” and then proceeded to fall asleep in between contractions.  I later experienced many clichés while delivering my son, but my husband’s reaction was not one of them.

As Kevin sleepily timed my contractions over the next hour, I did everything I could to relieve the pressure I was feeling.  I would lie on my side or practice different yoga poses, like child’s pose or the cat stretch.  I did my best to stay on my feet and continually move around so that the baby could also move into the right position.  However, every time I stood up, the contractions became much stronger and closer together.  When I lay on my side, they were more manageable, only four to five minutes apart, whereas when I stood, the contractions came every one to two minutes.  Eventually, I kneeled in front of my couch, planted my face into the cushion, and whined to Kevin, “This really hurts.  I don’t think I can do this.”  I kept begging Kevin to let me call the midwife.  My reasoning was that I had been having contractions for almost an hour by the time I finally woke him up, and we really only needed to time the contractions for fifteen minutes before we could call the midwife.  Sound reasoning, right?  Ladies, this is why you have a partner when you are in labor.  No matter how reasonable of a person you are in real life, no matter how many times you go over your birth plan and say that you’re not going to freak out, you’re going to relax and chill out when you go into labor and stay at home for as long as possible, all of that changes when you actually go into labor.  You will become an entirely new person—neurotic, anxious, primal.  My husband knew there was no sense in rushing to the hospital only for me to be hooked up to IVs and monitors—and he knew that wasn’t my ultimate wish—so he patiently let an hour go by before we phoned the midwife. 

Around 5:30, I finally spoke to a midwife, and I expected her to tell me to come to the hospital right away.  Or maybe it was just that I was really, really, really hoping that was what was she would say.  While I was on the phone with her, I had two contractions, and she could tell so by the way my breathing and voice changed.  I was able to keep talking to her, so she said that I was “handling my contractions very well”, and since we lived so close to the hospital, I might as well stay at home.  Seriously?!  No, I thought.  Get me out of my house and into a place where people know what the hell is happening to me!  Please.  I tried to reason with her that when I stood up the contractions came much more quickly, and so they were actually less than five minutes apart.  She advised me to at least wait until 7:00 to come to hospital, when the midwives had a shift change.  At that point, a new midwife would be on-call, and she would be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—and much more ready to deal with my whining and neurosis.  Begrudgingly, I agreed to sit tight for another hour.

In order to distract myself from the contractions—and to relax (the mantra of Lamaze)—we started calling people to inform them that the big event was in progress.  I first called my mother to let her know that she could start her drive out from Philadelphia, and to continue to help me relax and distract me, we didn’t talk about how I was feeling; instead, we talked about The Bachelor and Tierra’s ridiculous antics.  I think that week’s episode was the one with the Polar Bear plunge when Tierra faked hypothermia.  There’s nothing quite like someone else’s craziness to distract you from the feeling of an exploding uterus.  My mom said that she would head out once rush-hour traffic ended, believing that she would arrive with plenty of time before her grandson was born.  We also called my mother-in-law, and my neighbor, Becky.  For the previous three weeks, every time our car wasn’t in the driveway, we would get the text, “Baby?”  I kept "yelling" her when she sent those texts, telling her that no matter the time of day, we would tell her when we were heading to the hospital.  Mainly because we needed her to take care of our dog…but also because we love her!  I don't think Becky has ever been more excited to be woken up by a phone call at 6:30 in the morning.

Even though the midwife said to wait until 7:00, we made the decision to tough it out as long as possible and try to make it until 8:00 before going to the hospital.  However, at 6:45, I had had enough.  I was feeling restless and incredibly uncomfortable.  I could not relax at home any longer, and I told Kevin to walk to dog because we were going to the hospital.  I grabbed our hospital bag—which we had packed about two weeks beforehand—and was out the door.  Now, I only live three miles away from our hospital, a drive which takes about ten minutes.  Those three miles were by far the most excruciating three miles I have ever spent in a car.   I writhed around in the passenger, trying every which way to get comfortable—but to no avail.  I swear I had a contraction at every red light, and I thought that my child was going to be born right there in my Nissan.  When we finally reached the hospital parking garage, I breathed a sigh of relief.  Thank you, Jesus, I thought.  We made it!  Now, this kid can come out at any moment!  We grabbed our bag, Kevin gave me a look like, “you ready for this?”, and my husband and I walked arm in arm into the hospital, ready for our lives to change forever…

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Single Greatest Phone Call Ever

One year ago today, I got the voicemail that changed my entire life:

"Hello, Caitlin.  This is Janet.  I hate to leave this over a message, but we're about a close up, and I didn't want to leave you hanging for the weekend so...

Congratulations!  Your test was positive."

I had my blood drawn at seven o'clock that morning, and waiting for the results was absolutely the longest six hours of my entire life.  I waited by my phone, and as each minute passed, my heart raced faster and faster.  I had to work the morning shift at my part-time job, which meant I was all by myself...all by myself with nothing but my own thoughts.  After about two hours alone, I had to call Kevin to get him to calm me down.  He told me, "If the test is negative, that's okay.  It takes a couple tries for most couples.  If it's positive...well, then, it'll be like we won the lottery."  Kevin's words helped to make the waiting a only little more bearable.

When Janet finally called, my phone somehow hit a dead zone and didn't even ring.  The call immediately went to voicemail, and I shouted more than a couple obscenities as I tried to call the RE's office back.  The voicemail came through first--before I could even dial out--and as I stood in an alleyway next to a Long Island wine store, my life changed forever.  I burst into tears and thanked God with all my heart.

After I called Janet back to make sure that what I heard was real, Kevin came by the store to check on me. I ran into his arms and screamed, "We just won the lottery!"  And we most certainly did.

Even though this all happened a year ago, it feels like just yesterday.  As frustrated as I was by the waiting process, I'm so glad that my phone hit that dead zone because I was able to listen to that voicemail over and over and over again until I finally had it memorized.  May 26 will always be a day that I will treasure, as it was just the beginning of a wonderful and incredible journey with a wonderful and incredible little man.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Club Friday: The Baby Owner's Manual

I'm making my return to the world of blogging and what better way to begin than to link up with Heather and Katie for Book Club Friday?

Today, I'm sharing my favorite baby book:  The Baby Owner's Manual.

Via Amazon:
At Last! A Beginner's Guide to Newborn Baby Technology 

You've programmed your DVR, you’ve installed a wireless Internet connection, you can even check Facebook on your cell phone. But none of this experience will prepare you for the world's biggest technological marvel: a newborn baby. 

Through step-by-step instructions and helpful schematic diagrams, The Baby Owner's Manual explores hundreds of frequently asked questions: What's the best way to swaddle a baby? How can I make my newborn sleep through the night? When should I bring the baby to a doctor for servicing? Whatever your concerns, you'll find the answers here—courtesy of celebrated pediatrician Dr. Louis Borgenicht and his son, Joe Borgenicht. Together, they provide plenty of useful advice for anyone who wants to learn the basics of childcare.

When you have a baby, there are hundreds--nay, thousands--of books advising you on newborn care, and all of the options can seem unbelievable daunting.  The Baby Owner's Manual not only provides parents with practical advice about taking care of a baby...but it's absolutely hilarious!  Writer Joe Borgenicht teamed up with his father, a pediatrician, to compose a baby book that is written more like a service manual for a new piece of technology.  Babies are referred to as models, parents as primary users, and pediatricians as service providers.  Chapters include, "Preparation and Home Installation," "Programming Sleep Mode," and "General Maintenance", and the authors offer advice on everything from swaddling to soothing to feeding with each section written out as step-by-step instructions.  As a result, the advice is incredibly easy to follow, and it's really quite fun to see how many ways they can make a baby sound like a brand new car.  When I grew stressed about why my son was fussy, I would consult this book, and not only would my questions be answered, but I always ended up laughing at the authors' ironic descriptions of children--providing me with some much needed stress relief!  I really cannot recommend this book enough for new parents...and nerds like me!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Six Weeks Old!

Remember how last St. Patrick's Day was one of my toughest days of infertility?

This is how I spent my St. Patrick's Day this year:

Honestly, every day just gets better and better.

The little man is absolutely amazing!  We have our ups and downs every day, but I think I'm starting to figure out this whole motherhood thing.  Of course, once I get the hang of one thing, everything changes, and I have to figure it out all over again. Here's a couple anecdotes about life so far:
  • At his last pediatrician's appointment, which was two weeks ago, Spiderman weighed 10 pounds!  Thankfully, that's all the proof I need that breastfeeding is going well.  The first two weeks of breastfeeding was definitely challenging, and I still have a strong let-down that forces too much milk out.  Luckily, we're figuring out ways to make him more comfortable while feeding.
  • A couple weeks ago, my son threw up in my mouth.  I was re-positioning him after his feeding, and well...oops.  When it happened, I immediately started laughing because all I could think was, "I really am a mother now!"  My own mother said that I have officially been christened.
I cannot believe that my baby boy is already six weeks old, and while it's had its ups and downs, this has been six of the greatest weeks of my life.  Parenthood is everything I hoped it would be...and more.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Our little Spiderman
Born February 6
7 lbs 14 oz., 20.5 inches

Completely and totally perfect.
Absolutely worth the wait.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Thanks 2012!

One year ago, I wrote a blog post about my New Year's Resolution for 2012:  to have a baby.  I was incredibly wary of sharing my fertility story, but I soon realized that documenting it was necessary to help me cope with the struggles of overcoming PCOS and conceiving a baby.  Also, I hope that along the way, I've been able to find the humor in trying circumstances and also give hope to other women who are struggling to have a baby.

I could note all the important dates throughout the year, but here is a glimpse of important dates surrounding my pregnancy:

April 22:  I started my third round of Clomid.

May 12-13, Mother's Day Weekend:  My son was conceived via IUI.

May 26, the day that changed our lives forever:  We learned that we were pregnant.

June 7:  I threw up for the first time and realized, "Yep, I'm pregnant." (Yes, this was a momentous occasion that deserves note.)

June 8:  An ultrasound confirmed our pregnancy, and I "saw" my baby for the first time (even though he was only a small speck of white in a yolk sack).

June 19:  I heard my son's heartbeat for the first time.

June 25:  We announced our pregnancy on Facebook in the cutest way possible:

July 3:  I saw my son move his little arms and legs for the first time.

August 5:  "Morning" sickness and nausea ended, and I could finally feel like a real person again.

September 7:  We learned that we are having a boy!

2012 has been a year full of ups and downs.  January through May was an emotional--and above all hormonal--roller coaster that sometimes left me a complete mess.  Throughout June, July, and August, I was incredibly sick, just trying to keep my head above water.  Finally, after August, I could relax a bit and thoroughly enjoy the many blessings of my pregnancy.  In November, we also weathered Hurricane Sandy and a week without power; as a note, being six months pregnant during a hurricane and the subsequent recovery period...not at all fun.  Throughout it all, I have always tried to remain thankful for what I have--the good and the...well...not-so-good.
.'ve been a good year.  Thank you for the many blessing you've given me...but to be perfectly honest, I've been looking forward to 2013 since May 26!  I cannot wait to meet the little man who has been pushing his butt up against my ribs for the last six weeks and kicking me as I fall asleep.

So happy new year to you all!  May 2013 bring you health, happiness, laughter, and love!

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