Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dear Ehren: Week 1

Dear Ehren,

In the first week of your life, we spent the first 3 days of your life in the hospital and 3 of the remaining 4  in doctor offices. It was a lot better in the hospital than I realized. Someone brought me all of my medications at exactly the right time, you always had diapers in the right spot, the bed did all of my movement for me, food was delivered to us right to the room, and there was always someone there to answer my questions. Always.

We went home Saturday afternoon and just getting you into the house and being home was enough to make me forget that I had medicines to take. Hours of excruciating pain later, I figured out what the problem was and tried to be patient after getting back on board with the pain medication. It wasn't a good time for any of us, but it was a good lesson in getting on a schedule. Dad put all of my medications on the calendar to coincide with your feedings and we were already on better footing.

When we came home from the hospital, I was supplementing you with formula. A rather painful process that I'd rather not recount, but after our appointment with your doctor we decided to just switch to breastmilk only. And then you didn't soil a diaper for more than 48 hours. Never have we been so obsessed with someone's bowel movements. Fortunately, you celebrated being a week old by messing 3 diapers in a row and a trip to the doctor wasn't needed.

Sleep is another thing that has changed. We feed you every 3 hours, whether you wake up or not, so we get about 1.5 - 2 hours of sleep at a time after feeding you and pumping whatever extra I have. The structure is nice in this otherwise chaotic time, but the sleep is starting to get to Dad and I. We're a little snippy with each other and my current favorite pastime is crying for no reason, but I have hope that things will get better eventually. Like all things, it will just take time. Right now, it feels like time is both fleeting and dragging on forever and I imagine it's the same for nearly every new parent. I just don't want to hear someone tell me to "enjoy these moments" again, because right now, I really need to focus on surviving. I'll revel in memories later with photos and these letters, but there won't be much to reminisce about if I don't figure out how to sleep, feed you, recover from surgery, and deal with these hormones.

On the bright side, here is a list of things I know for sure - I love wearing you around and hearing people tell me how cute you are. Your dad is the best partner I could have asked for. He's up with every night feeding (unless I'm sneaky and grab the alarm before he stirs) and makes sure I'm well taken care of while feeding you. I love snuggling with you and kissing the top of your head especially since you smell so sweet. I love our new family, but I'm still getting used to (and figuring out) our new normal. I love how far we've come in a week and how bright the future (even if distant) seems.

Love always,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dear Ehren: How you got here

Dear Ehren,

These are the things I don't want to forget. Your first days, your first cries, and everything about being a new family. I'm sharing them here so that they will never be lost.

Throughout my entire pregnancy I had an odd sixth sense about things. When I started to not feel well on Monday afternoon, I sent dad an email titled "Loose Ends" and told him that he should make sure he is ready to leave work for a while when he came home that night. Then I started to feel awful. I had pain deep in my abdomen, I felt nauseated, I was sweating. I couldn't read my monitor at work and I couldn't focus.

I went to the bathroom to hang out, and mostly hide from well-meaning co-workers, and hoped that the change in position would mean a change in the pain. Alas, it did not. So, taking a page out of the second trimester, I went and laid on the floor in an empty office. After about half an hour of not improving, I went back to my desk and emailed dad to tell him that I needed a ride home and wouldn't be able to make the 4 block uphill trek in the 94 degree heat. I knew I would go into labor at work, I just didn't know what it was at the time.

Your dad rescued me and took me home where I tried to lie down. The upper abdominal pain increased and I tried in vain to ease the discomfort with a bath. It ended with a lot of vomit, but then I magically felt better. I thought that maybe I was going to be okay. Then, I made the mistake of eating a peanut butter & cheese sandwich and an apple. The pain returned, with greater force, and a multitude of pre-eclampsia symptoms started to set in. After a phone call to the OB, a phone call to a dog sitting friend, and one last round of vomiting, we were off to the hospital.

We checked in around 12:35 to OB Triage and they kept me for observation for a few hours. My blood pressure was high in addition to my protein and creatinine levels being elevated and me being dehydrated. I continued to throw up and shake - the full body tremors really bothered dad. But you? You were perfectly ok. Your heartbeat accelerated properly when I had contractions (the monitors cleared up that mystery) and you stayed mobile throughout our observation period. The doctor walked in to talk to us, and let us know that she was unsure if we should stay or not. She moved my leg so she could sit on the bed, and I suddenly felt wet. Then she asked me to move up the bed a little and my water broke in a massive gush. Exciting, but terrifying because we found that there was meconium in the water - a potentially dangerous issue for you. It was settled, we weren't going home. I wasn't dilated very far, and my contractions were coming every 6 minutes, so we knew it was going to be a while before you came.

Dad texted all of the grandparents and worked on getting Grandma Sue to come up to Seattle from Vancouver. Then we settled in for the "night" in our labor and delivery room. I was on the monitor for another hour before they let me get into the bath. That's where I was most comfortable while I coped with the contractions and awaited your arrival. Boy, did we wait. All day. I truly tried to get you out, but my contractions weren't making my body respond appropriately so after much discussion it was decided that we needed to start Pitocin and use some internal monitors. It meant that I wouldn't be able to take baths anymore and at that point, I was not sure how I would cope with stronger contractions and no relief. It took me more than 24 hours of labor to decide to get an epidural, but at least the decision of epidural and pitocin got us all the way effaced and dilated to a 9.5 by the next afternoon. All in all, it was about 56 hours of labor before we talked about a c-section. I was crushed; all of my hopes for a natural, medication-free delivery had been swept away and the one thing that I wanted to avoid the most appeared to be my only option.

I talked it over with your dad and we both agreed that getting you here safely would be a good idea and at this point he would still be able to come into the operating room and be with me. So it was decided, I would have a c-section and you'd be here within the hour. It was an hour filled with anxiety. Grandma took some photos of us, dad got dressed, and I tried to prepare myself mentally for what was about to happen.

The OR was already set up and waiting for us and it was a fairly fast paced 60 minutes from entering the room to leaving. We waited very anxiously for your first cries, and after you were out it was very quickly determined why you hadn't been born yet. You didn't fit! Your head was too big for my body and you were stuck at my pelvic bones, determined to come out but losing to the laws of physics. Dad went with you as they evaluated you and tried to clear your lungs of all meconium. He trimmed your umbilical cord (you can blame him if you have a weird belly button) and helped to get you cleaned up. You weren't breathing quite right so they took you to the NICU for observation. I got one kiss on your sweet cheeks and they whisked you and dad away. I was alone on the table in the OR while they stitched and stapled me back together and then took me back to the labor & delivery room to recover for an hour. Dad stayed with you for a bit and then came to get some breastmilk to take to you. He tried not to leave your side, but I could tell he just wanted us all to be together.Soon enough we were, and while it hasn't been perfect ever since, it's been more than I could have imagined.