Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ava's Birth Day

I have a very special baby girl, who we struggled to conceive, who shouldn't have existed due to the medicine I was taking, who made it through a high-risk pregnancy and defied the odds, and who almost didn't survive delivery.

This is the story of her birth day!

We really hoped Ava would show up on her due date, the 4th of July. Of course, we had no control over it, so we continued about our last few days as if nothing was different.

I made 2 pecan pie cheesecakes for a BBQ on Saturday. We made some food for the 4th, and chose to just hang out at home all day. We went for a walk with Duke, about 2.5 miles. We went to see fireworks on post with a comfy view in our car. The joke was always that if Ava hadn't arrived yet, that the fireworks would scare her out!

(And they did!)

We went to bed that night, and I played on my phone for a bit.

And I felt a mild contraction.

I didn't really think much of it because I had contractions through the night on Thursday. I think I may have had another contraction before I fell asleep.

Then, at 1:15, I had a contraction that woke me up. It was pretty strong! I stayed in bed to see if I would get more of them or if I could just go back to sleep. An hour later, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep through them, so I got up to hang out on the couch downstairs. I used an app on my phone to keep track of them. They were anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes apart and lasted for about 1 minute each. They were uncomfortable to get through on the recliner, so after an hour I got up and tried sitting on the yoga ball. That was uncomfortable, so for the next one, I tried leaning over with my hands on the counter. That seemed to feel better. After a couple more contractions, I noticed the pattern had changed - they were now between 3 and 4 minutes apart and were lasting right at 30 seconds each. I decided it was time to wake Chris, and just as I was headed upstairs his alarm went off. He had to go into work for a bit, so I told him that I was having contractions. We decided that I would go to work with him and we would pack everything in the car for the hospital and decide what to do after he was done. The contractions weren't that intense yet, so we went to Chic Fil A for a quick breakfast. I realized if this was in fact labor, this was my last chance to eat!

On the drive across town (the drive to the nearest Chic Fil A is like 15 minutes on the interstate, ugh) I think I was realizing that this was in fact labor and that we would probably be having our baby girl today! I was a ball of nerves and ended up only eating half of my chicken biscuit!

And then we drove to the hospital! It was around 6:30 in the morning.

I got all settled in an exam room and was talking with the nurse about what my contractions were like and how the pregnancy has gone. She seemed a bit shocked when I told her they were currently about 3-4 minutes apart! She left the room to go find the midwife on call. She came in and did an ultrasound and checked me. I was dilated to a 4 and was 100% effaced! We were all very excited! I was afraid we'd show up and get sent home because there were no changes. The ultrasound showed that Ava's head was a little off to the side so I would need to walk to get her to move. They told me that they would have me walk for 40 minutes and then get back on the monitors for 20 minutes and repeat.

They got me all set up in a large laboring room. The nurse asked me about what kind of pain management I planned on doing. I told her I'd like to hold off for as long as possible to see what my body could do. She was very supportive, and told me that there are options for pain relief if it got to be too much. And then I began the walking! We had to walk nice and slow and I had to hold on to the handle rails in the hospital hallways to get through my contractions. I have very different thoughts on these hospital hallways now! All of our doctor appointments are at this hospital, so I'm going to be there quite often.

We got back to the room and I got on the monitors. The contractions were much more painful to get through laying in the bed. The second round of walking I decided to stay in the room and use a pregnancy ball. Contractions were becoming tougher to breathe through. And changing positions usually triggered them, making going to the bathroom no fun! I was having thoughts of painkillers, so I asked the nurse if I could be checked to see what kind of progress I was making. When I got back on the monitors, the nurse told me I needed to stay on the monitors because baby was having decels for some reason. The midwife came in and checked me and told me I was at a 5! She instructed me to lay on my left side to help baby's heart rate. After a few more contractions stuck in bed, I decided to ask about my options for pain relief. I opted to go with an IV painkiller first, preceded by an anti-nausea medication.

It barely took the edge off. Like instead of the contractions making a pointy peak, it was more rounded of a peak, if that makes sense.

The nurse came back in and said she needed me to switch to my right side for the sake of her heart rate. She wasn't tolerating the left side anymore. And after just like 1 or 2 more contractions on my right side, my hip started to hurt really bad. I had the whole body shakes. I was beginning to become more vocal through the contractions. It only took like 1 more contraction for me to ask for the epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived pretty quickly. But, it took FOREVER for him to administer it - I was stuck in that horrible hunched over position and had 3 more contractions before it was complete! And I had to try to calm myself to stop the shaking so he could insert it correctly.

Thankfully, it worked! I was able to relax on my back and I soon realized my legs were numb to the touch. The nurse came in and told me to get back on my right side because baby was having more decels. It was more tolerable as I had numbness in my hip. 

Suddenly the nurse and midwife came rushing back in and told us that they were going to break my water because baby kept having decels and they weren't really sure why, and that labor needed to be progressed to get baby out. I rolled to my back and the midwife proceeded to break my water. I felt a warm gush and she said that there was meconium in the waters. The midwife and nurse were talking quietly, but urgently, and apparently I was at a 7/8. Then the nurse demanded that I roll to my right side, followed by an urgent Now, sweetie. Quickly.

The next thing I know, our room is flooded with commotion, and my bed is being lowered to a position to get my head lower than my feet, and the midwife is climbing onto the bed with me, her hand still up at my cervix. The nurse says that she is so sorry, but we have to get baby out now. Being on my right side, I was gripping the side handle to stay on my side with the doctor between my legs, so my face only had a view of the side rail. I think this was a blessing - I was able to remain calm and focus on praying for everything to be alright amidst the urgent talk "where is everyone?" "let them know we're coming!" 

I could hear her heartbeat on the monitor. It was so incredibly slow. The beeping tone was a different sound than a heart rate in a normal range. It was no longer the quick woosh-woosh-woosh sound and was more like

thump.

thump.

thump.

It was the scariest sound I have ever heard.

Chris had to help push us into the OR, with the midwife still on top of me, trying to help stabilize baby's heart rate, until everyone else seemed to appear out of nowhere. Please don't take my Ava, was all I could think.

There was lots of commotion in the OR. Everyone was scrambling and moving about. No one was shouting, but there were lots of loud discussions. I had a nurse up by me having me breathe into one of those mask things, and I heard someone say the umbilical cord was coming out first. The doctor appeared in my face and petted my hair and said that they were going to get baby out now and that they will take very good care of us both. Another nurse was by my face keeping me calm. The anesthesiologist was back in the room, ready to give me the spinal. They moved me from my laboring bed to the OR table, and then some part of the epidural broke. "How can this break?" I heard him say in disbelief. He quickly explained to me that they had no choice but to put me under general anesthetic. He quickly gave me some sort of injection in my IV that burned like crazy and he asked me to take a big, deep breath. And another.

And that's the last thing I remember.

The next thing I know, I'm back in my laboring room, and it all empty and quiet.

Just me and the nurse.

She explained to me that baby was out and she was fine and was in the special babies unit with Chris.

She was fine! She was perfectly fine!

So I was okay.

Ava was being washed up so she could come and see me. She had been given an IV to give her fluids to pink her up a bit.

Chris came into the room and hugged me and showed me some pictures of her. She looked so sweet! He showed me the "Air Assault Birth Ceritficate", which is like a keepsake birth certificate, I guess, and it had her tiny footprints on it. So tiny!

I asked Chris if he was okay. I felt badly for him that he was out of the loop and must have felt so helpless. I could tell by his genuine response and body language that he was doing great - he had gotten to spend time with Miss Ava!

And then, they brought her to me!

It all seemed so surreal. This was my baby. OUR baby.

And she was perfect.

Shortly after we were taken to our new room in the Mother and Baby unit. We got all settled and Chris got to hold Ava for the first time. We were completely in love!

Over the course of my short stay at the hospital (I was released Monday at 10 am, so it was only like 48 hours!) we had visits from staff who had various comments about the delivery and Ava. The anesthesiologist came in and talked to me about what happened. He showed me the piece that broke, and at first they thought it broke because of how quickly they were trying to move me between beds. But the piece I guess is designed not to break at all, and he said he was very sorry for this. He was very bothered by the fact that it happened and he said he was writing up a report with intentions to send it to the manufacturer.

The doctor who performed the csection came in to talk to us, too. She said that the surgery lasted about 30 minutes and they had Ava out within 10 minutes. When she was closing things up and suctioning things out, she said she noticed my cervix wasn't exactly centered up with my uterus. It was a little to the side, which explains why Ava wasn't lined up, either. Other than than, everything was as it would normally be. She said that the umbilical cord was what was causing the decels and Ava kept ending up on top of it or something. They were anticipating that it would need to be a csection for this reason, just not an emergency one. She told me that I am still eligible for a VBAC should I want one in the future. I was happy to hear that! Considering that I labored almost unassisted  and only had about 30 minutes worth of an epidural and I made it to a 7/8 makes me think I probably could have got my head right and delivered her naturally. It wasn't something I was set in stone to do, but I just wanted to see what my own body could do. When the nurse had first brought Ava to me, she was commenting on how precious and tiny her head was, and knowing I wanted to at least try to go naturally, she told me it would have been pretty easy to push this little one out! She was a fantastic nurse. I really liked her! My midwife who was checking me during labor was great, too. Even Chris though so. She was able to remain so calm when things got scary, which made us able to stay calm.

One nurse came in and was taking Ava's vitals and told us that all things considered, Ava should have had complications. She said that she must have had a guardian angel because the meconium and prolapsed cord can cause major problems, and to see a baby with none really doesn't happen.

I think I know who that angel is. :)

So, it was a very, very intense weekend full of emotions! We are so happy to have Ava here with us. Parenthood has been both a joy and a struggle so far, but she is so worth it!!

We love you, Ava Mckenzie!!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

40 Weeks

I'm writing up this post early, not knowing if I will even be able to publish it on Friday or not. So I think I will update this post a day at a time, and we'll just see how far it goes!

(Actually, I work on all my posts throughout the week, or else pregnancy brain would cause me to forget all the new things that happened!)

I'm not sure if I will be posting too often after Ava's birth. One, because I will obviously be busy/tired/exhausted/unavailable. And two, because I don't know how I feel about plastering photos of her on the internet where anybody can access my posts. I get a ton of spam comments (fortunately Blogger is able to block them from ever being posted) and a lot of random spikes in traffic on my site and traffic trends that make me think weird things are going on. I want to keep it a public blog, so I'm thinking that I may not post too much more about my private life on here. I wanted to have my fertility and pregnancy stories on here to help other women in similar situations. This day in age, it's just hard to know what can happen with what you write and the photos you post online.

Anyway, here are my daily updates for the week!

Over the weekend:

I think I may have lost my mucus plug? I didn't really know what I was looking for, and I read that most women don't even know when they've lost it. I had a bit of spotting after my check at the doctor last week for a few days, and it happened in the midst of that.

I've started googling all these labor things. It must be interesting to be the person who tracks/analyzes the things that people google!

We tried to stay busy! We are both antsy and excited and had a hard time just staying in the house. 

We went for a walk. It makes my back hurt, so we didn't go too far. Just meandered through the neighborhood.

Monday:

Hard to believe, but I started packing up the maternity clothes I borrowed! I can't believe that this pregnancy is just about over! Even though I am counting down the minutes until she's here (if only I knew how long I had to count!), I am trying to remind myself of what a special time this has been, and to enjoy it down to the last day. All her movements and squirms still bring a smile to my face, even when she stretches out into my ribs and bladder! I am trying to cherish every moment I have left with her in my belly. 


I will miss using her as a table. I've gotten quite used to it when I am eating! :)

Tuesday:

With each morning that passes, when I wake up and manage to get myself out of bed, I feel like I'm 5 pounds heavier. I have to hobble to the bathroom carefully as I am unsteady on my feet until I readjust to being vertical! I'm having tons of Braxton Hicks contractions. They are getting a little old since I've been having them for weeks and weeks now. I am waiting for the contractions that makes me think it's labor!

I spent a lot of time today doing the "hurry up and wait" thing for my appointment in the afternoon. At the appointment, we learned that I am almost 2 centimeters dilated (yay!) and still at 50% effaced. My cervix is still pretty high, so she has not "dropped" yet. My next appointment isn't until the 8th and at that point I'm sure we will be discussing an induction date.

I saw yet another doctor for this appointment, and she was asking about how things have been going during this pregnancy because of my bicornuate uterus. She was using it as a teaching opportunity because she had another lady with her who I can only assume was shadowing. She commented that my baby seems to have defied the odds of what a a bicornuate uterus pregnancy usually looks like!

I have not gone into early labor (how ironic it would be if this kid was late!).

Based on her growth scans, it appears that she will not have low birth weight (although we still have to wait until birth to find out for sure) and is in fact, right on track for her growth.

She was presenting breech until the doctor was able to flip her. And now she has remained head down!

We were bracing ourselves for troubles with this pregnancy, and it has turned out to be quite the opposite!

And above all, I did not....I can't even say the word...have a "starts with an M"....if you know what I am referring to. I refuse to think that way until I am holding her in my arms.

Ava is one determined baby!

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the continued inflammation in her kidney will not be problematic to her after birth. There's still time for it to resolve on its own!

Wednesday:

I kept myself busy today by going to the splash park with the MOPS group here on post. I thought it was funny that almost every mom had one of those Thirty-One totes! Like, every. Single. One. I have one that I keep in the back of my car for hauling in groceries, so I guess I'm off to a good start! I came home and filled our kiddie pool for Mr. Duke. We played in the shade of the patio for a bit. He had a pretty good time and learned a lesson about holding his nose under the water for too long!

I was very excited to get my shipment from Babies R Us. I ordered a few random things off our registry that I knew I still wanted (including a PUR water filter for the faucet for only $17!). It's obvious that I am a preschool teacher because I was dying for Ava to have these:


Sensory Shapes!!!

I'm sure I will be more excited for her to play with these than she actually will!

Somehow those Discount School Supply catalogs mysteriously found my address here and I still get them several times a year. And while they usually go right to the recycling bin, I have been finding all sorts of things that I want to get for Miss Froggie lately! But unfortunately, a lot of it comes in bulk for a classroom setting. She doesn't need a mega pack of wooden puzzles!

Thursday:

If you would have told me that at the beginning of July, I'd be almost a jillion and one months pregnant, sitting inside my house with the windows open, I would have called you crazy! I keep the house at 70 degrees, and I'm still usually warm, so I thought having a day that the weather was nice enough to have the windows open was long gone! But I'll take it! The high was only 79 degrees today, so it was a nice break from this hot, humid weather we've had lately.

Annnnnnd......

Photos of Ava's room!

Finally!!!


View from the doorway!


Love this little corner!


Her daddy made the shelves on the wall. 


Our friends made the growth chart ruler. My sister made the wreath.


Her daddy also refinished this dresser. Remember it was a vivid teal color?!


Where all the "belly shots" take place.


I love this little corner, too. The shelf brackets were like $5 at Hobby Lobby, by the way!


Her toys and sippy cups and shoes and books and bibs and stuff I don't know what to do with yet are all in here!


Ava at 10 weeks. Before we knew she was an Ava. :)


She has a few bows. They have their own basket/shelf.


I am obsessed with this quilt that our friend made for her! Can't wait to rock with her here!!

Ok Ava...your room is officially finished...it took all 40 weeks, but we did it...I vacuumed and everything...

I'm gonna go make some more pecan pie cheesecake for this weekend. If she's not gonna show up, then I guess I'll just eat, haha!

Friday:

I spent the morning cooking and exhausted myself. I had some contractions overnight, but then they stopped this morning. What a tease! But, it's all progress!

We had plans to go to the Carnival on post today, but I was too tired. 

And I have a feeling we will just watch the fireworks on post from our backyard. It would be even better if we could be watching them from the hospital room!!!

Alright, miss Ava...let's make this our last belly shot!



On the right is how I really feel today. :)