Theodore James’ Birth Story

Disclaimer: This is a birth story.  Like, a real one.  It’s not particularly graphic or gross, but if you’re not interested in such things, I’d pass over it.  Also, a lot of the pictures I’m posting here, while not at all graphic, are pretty personal, and even just looking through them to choose the ones I’d post actually made me sort of sad.  But…it is what it is.

Seeing as my son is five six months old now, I guess you can say I’m late to the birth-story-writing party.  It’s true.  I’m super late.  And, surprisingly, it’s for more reasons than being tired and busy and overwhelmed (though goodness knows, I am).  I didn’t really want to write about it because I didn’t want to relive it.

Before Theo was born, I read for sure over a hundred birth stories.  Before I was even pregnant I’d read dozens, at least.  And I didn’t just read peaceful water births or home births.  I read them all.  Emergency C-sections, inductions, complicated ones, lightning-fast ones, impossibly long drawn-out ones–everything.  I felt like I was ready for anything really, but I couldn’t help but have preferences.  For example, I actually really, really looked forward to the time I could labor at home with just Andreas.  We made plans for it–I planned to make him watch Bend it Like Beckham with me (as many times as I wanted), to use the shower if we needed, to walk, and hold out as long as we could.  We had taxi numbers in our phones, contraction timer apps–we were prepare.  But that’s not how it happened.

Every day that I went over my due date was a little bit of a disappointment.  I grew more and more apprehensive of being induced, and a week or so over my due date, it just felt like I would never have this baby–not by myself, at least.  I could just feel it.  And I could have as many Braxton-hicks as my belly could take–and they could be strong, and consistent, and it still would not happen.

Theo’s story really starts three days before he was born.  We went to the hospital for our last check–to see how far along I was, and what our approach was going to be.  I got checked, and was told I was 4-5 centimeters dilated and almost completely effaced.  The midwife did a membrane sweep, and basically told us she’d be mighty surprised if she didn’t see us again before her shift ended in a few hours.

I started getting excited, and decided that Andreas and I would go for a long walk.  I was going to walk this baby out, if that’s what it took.  But even with all the walking, there wasn’t any sign of baby by bedtime, and at that point, I just kind of knew I wasn’t going to go before Monday, when my induction was scheduled.  At that point, I was a bit disappointed–because that was so not how I always imagined it would happen, but I had time to sort of resign myself to an induction, and felt comforted in that I was already so far along in the process, so hopefully a simple breaking of my water would set the whole thing going.

Birth Story 1

Sunday passed in a flurry of getting everything ready, and before we headed to bed, we watched Bend it Like Beckham.  We got up very early the next morning, gathered our things, and calmly left the house–locking the door behind us, knowing we wouldn’t return without a baby in our arms.  It was a far cry from the somewhat-hectic exit I always imagined, piling into a taxi, hurrying to the hospital–but it was what it was, and I was just glad the process was going to get started!

The first thing they do as they check me in to the hospital is put a monitor on my belly and check to see where I’m at.  Expecting to be around the same as last time (because you can’t get much farther than that without it being rather close to real labor!), I was crestfallen when I heard that I was only about a centimeter dilated, and not particularly effaced, either!

Birth Story 2

Either the midwife checking me the first time around made a dreadful mistake, or I’d gone “backwards.”  I’m actually inclined to believe the latter, as I’ve heard you can regress if there’s anxiety or nervousness (which, let’s face it, there always is with me), and the midwife had stripped my membranes, so how could she have made such a mistake?!

Either way, it was rather discouraging news to hear, first thing, but we tried to just take it all as it came.  I got an enema (which was way more awful than I thought it would be), and they broke my water and sent me on my way.  They told me to walk for two hours, and come back.  So Andreas and I left the hospital and started walking.  And walking.  And nothing really happened.  We walked around the neighborhood, took photos of a squirrel, and when the two hours was nearly up, to a nearby store (where I bought a pair of sweatpants, mentos, and the cookies that would power me through my labor).

When we came back, they checked me–no progress.  No contractions.  Nothing.  They wanted to start me on oxytocin, but I wanted to try everything else first, so I asked for acupuncture.  I’ve always heard that the needles were super thin and it didn’t really hurt.  Pa-hah!!  Each needle hurt worse than when I got my eyebrow pierced–and there were eight needles!  Anyways, after the acupuncture, there was still no sign of labor, so they asked again about oxytocin.  I asked, instead, if we could walk again, and we were given the go-ahead, although she warned us that she didn’t expect anything to happen.  And she was right.  Nothing. Happened.

So, six hours after originally coming to the hospital, I had the IV put in, and started on the drip.  I sat on a birthing ball, bouncing, playing my little Bubble Pop game on the Kindle, and chatting with Andreas.  We noticed that the curtains hanging in the room were the same ones that hung in the windows of the room we rented for the wedding.  Of course, contractions started soon after, and got worse, and worse.  And because I was on the drip, they had to monitor both the contractions and the baby (which meant no using water as pain relief).  As soon as I was attached to all of the machines, I just wanted the monitors OFF.  I hate being attached to things, and that was really one of the worst things I remember about being in labor.

Birth Story 3

Of course the contractions were painful, but honestly, what I remember the most is how absolutely tired I was, and how much the contraction monitor was bothering me.  It dug into my (really-sensitive-because-of-all-the-stretchmarks) skin.  Three hours after starting the drop, I was using a TENS machine, which I honestly wasn’t a big fan of.  Not that it didn’t work…exactly…but it felt like it was just distracting me from the pain with more pain, and seemed to make me even more tired.  Three hours after that, the TENS just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.  I was So. Tired.  I still felt like I was handling the pain okay (maybe I wasn’t, but I felt like I was, haha!), but I couldn’t take the exhaustion.  I couldn’t imagine several more hours of swaying through the pain.  At this point, I remember, to get through every contraction, I would think of something–for example, an office chair–and think of something that has to do with an office chair (wheels) and think of something that has to do with wheels (a car) and think of something to do with a car (an antennae), and so on, as quickly as I possibly could until the contraction was over.  Around this time, we had Friends playing on the Kindle in the background–of course!  Even through the contractions and my constant brain activity, it was rather comforting.  (For perspective, I’ve always, always watched Friends as a comfort TV show.  I’ve watched each episode at LEAST 15 times.  I had it playing in the background in college any time I’d do homework, or bake, or be home alone, etc. And when I moved abroad, it became even more of a comfort to have.)

It was somewhere around this point in time, where it felt like the contractions were never-ending.  The monitor showed that there were pauses between them, but since it was more the exhaustion and pain from the monitor I was feeling, I never felt any relief.  I was around five centimeters when we played with the idea of an epidural, and about an hour later (at 8:30 pm), I got one.  I had really not wanted an epidural, but the thing is, I’m actually really glad I got one–given the circumstances.  By the time the epidural was wearing off (around 10:30 pm) I was 9 centimeters.  When the pain was mostly gone, I could finally really talk to Andreas again, and couldn’t believe how much I’d missed him when I was so inside myself, trying to get through everything.  We talked a bit, and while I wanted to talk more, and really be with him, I knew I had to get some sleep, so I did.  When it wore off, I got through the contractions again with deep breathing, but after a while, the exhaustion got to me again, and I asked for an epidural “refresher.”

Birth Story 4

However, there was something wrong with it, and it wouldn’t work.  The midwife advised me to wait, and I did, but after a while, I just didn’t feel like I could.  I wasn’t progressing anymore.  I was doing my best to sway, be in good positions (the epidural I had was enough to take the edge off the pain, but I still had absolute control over my legs, so I could sit, stand, and be on hands and knees, etc.) but I was frustrated and just tired.  I agreed to some “bee-stings” instead.  I’m not sure what they’re called in English, honestly, but they’re like sterile water drops that they inject under the skin.  It’s supposed to just cause a momentary “sting” and cause the body to send extra pain relief stuff to that area.  I vaguely remember getting them, but don’t remember them doing anything except for hurting.

Around midnight, I remember feeling like I had to push.  Like…I couldn’t not push.  But I still wasn’t progressing, so I wasn’t much nearer getting him out than I was a couple of hours ago.  At this point, I was not able to relax at any time.  I was exhausted, and in pain, and really sad that I couldn’t connect with Andreas.  Around 1:30 am, they offered to put in a whole new epidural, which I accepted, and they did.  I stayed on my hands and knees, swaying (as per the midwife’s suggestion), and an hour later, the epidural took better effect, and I fell asleep around 2:45.  Apparently I slept like a rock for about an hour, after which I woke up (because the epidural was wearing off) and it was time to push!

This is why I’m glad I got the epidural.  Each time I got one, I was able to relax, and I really progressed so much better this way.  I’d heard they can really slow down labor, so I was reluctant, but I think because I get so nervous and anxious in general, I was extra nervous and anxious–being in the hospital, under unusual circumstances (I don’t give birth on a regular basis, haha) and surrounded by people I don’t know.  This wasn’t the best environment for me to progress naturally in, but with the effect of the epidural, I was able to relax a bit more, and my body was able to do its work.

The epidural had worn off by that point, but pushing felt good.  It was nice to finally be able to work with my body, to know the end was near, and it was actually nice to feel what was happening.  The “ring of fire” is a real thing, but honestly it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.  It felt like I pushed for ten minutes, but it was actually about half an hour before Theo was born.  I remember just before the last push, I asked if he had hair (which he did, a little bit) and reached down and felt it.  It was cool to feel, but I wouldn’t exactly call something that slimey “beautiful” or “miraculous.”

A minute later he was out, on my belly, and yelling.  I was, of course, completely amazed that it was over, he was here and he was a he!  Well, to be honest, I wasn’t amazed that he was a he.  Even though we didn’t find out before he was born, the feeling I had that he was a boy had been so strong that in the end, it didn’t really feel like a surprise at all (although I guess it would have if he would’ve been a she!)

Birth Story 5

While we were adoring our little man (and I was slightly distracted by the fact that he hardly fit on my chest), the room started to buzz a bit.  I wasn’t paying so much attention, as it was all in Danish, and I was in a baby-daze, but I did what I was told–which was to push the placenta out.  After about twenty minutes, more and more people filtered into the room–more midwives, perhaps, and a real doctor or two.  Apparently I was bleeding a lot, and the placenta wasn’t all there.  At that point, I was rushed to emergency surgery (where I had to get a spinal block, and they manually took the rest of the placenta–but not before I lost two liters of blood!) and Andreas was left in the room with our tiny new baby boy.  We didn’t see each other again for a couple of hours.  I didn’t even know how long my baby was, or how much he weighed.  But that moment Andreas walked in the door of my recovery room with our as-yet-unnamed baby was definitely a highlight of the whole process.

Birth Story 6

That day was one of the hardest.  Theo was born August 20, 2013 at 4:21 am, and I am not ashamed to say that that was not one of the best days of my life.  Not even close.  Was I happy I had my baby boy on the outside?  Of course I was!  But, after losing so much blood, having a bad reaction to a transfusion, and not being allowed to eat for about half a day (after having just been in labor and only eaten cookies…oops!), I didn’t even have the strength to hold my (9 lb 1oz, 22 inch long) baby boy.  I had to have Andreas strategically place him so I could even see him.  For the next full day, I was attached to something at all times–there was a catheter, heart monitors, and three IVs (one in each wrist, and one in my arm).  Those photos of me and Theo in the first few days are, of course, precious to me.  But my periwinkle lips don’t exactly say “best day of my life.”

 

Not me at my best...

Not me at my best…

Birth Story 8

Birth Story 9

I know it’s not what I wanted, but as the circumstances allowed, I was, of course, satisfied with my birthing experience.  I just really, really, really hope that next time, it can be a bit more on my terms, or at least my baby’s terms.  That I won’t be 42 weeks pregnant, that I won’t be induced, tied to monitors and IVs and have strings and tubes and wires attached to me for three days.  Now, when I think about my birth story, my skin crawls, remembering how trapped I felt with everything just on me all the time.  And more than anything, I want to be able to connect with Andreas.  Whenever we talked about labor, I kind of thought that he would just be my support person–that he would get anything I needed, massage anything I needed massaged (haha), and just be there to encourage me.  But next time, I think I really need him in there with me–talking to me, holding my hand–the. entire. way.

 

But in the end, we got our little boy, and thank goodness we didn’t know how hard the next couple of months would be, or I might have wished he’d stayed inside even longer, haha!

 

And that’s how Theo came into our world.

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Happy Half Birthday to our Theodorable!

So, today is Theo’s half birthday. And he’s adorable.  So there’s going to be some photos (obviously) and I thought I’d do just a quick Theo update!

He’s learned to kiss! Albeit sloppily…

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He had a Valentine’s Day!

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He’s learned some new facial expressions…

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And is looking even more like his Papa!

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Teeth:

He’s got a bit of one front tooth, and a tiny bit of the other–I think teething is in full swing!

Eating:

Wonderful! His base meal is applesauce (often with prune or pear) but he gets all sorts of finger foods.  Mostly fruit and veg, but today he had a bit of toast.  He’s putting that one tooth to good use, and actually eating a surprising amount of the finger foods.  It’s really fun that he can eat more of what we eat lately, and so wonderful to feel like a family eating dinner (he loves eating with us!) instead of two parents, one of whom must always be holding/entertaining a grumpy baby.

Sleeping:

Still off-and-on.  There was one really awesome night last Thursday…I’ll remember it forever! Haha!  But he’s still up multiple times a night, and naps are sort of unpredictable (though it seems they’re on the upswing!) The most important thing, though, is that he goes to bed at 8 pm every night, and in general, stays there, at least while Andreas and I get some grown-up time!  That was our biggest battle, so it’s great that we finally have a steady bedtime!

Moving:

Not…so much.  He definitely wants to move, but has no idea how to, haha! He even periodically forgets how to roll, but he can roll both ways (front to back and back to front).  He’s also starting to lunge from his seated position (which he’s great at!) to get things, but as he can’t crawl, this usually results in faceplants.  He’s starting to try to pull up on things, though!  Can’t quite get all the way up there, but he’s definitely doing his best!

Social Skills:

He’s starting to be more gentle! Not all the time, of course, but he’s starting to pat and stroke my face instead of hit and scratch, and will grab my face with both hands to pull me in for a slobber/kiss.  We can really tell he’s connecting with us these days, and it makes it a lot easier to be there for him.  He’s also starting to laugh whenever I laugh (after giving me a quizzical look) which I LOVE!  There’s a lot more laughter in our house than there ever has been before.

Miscellaneous:

He’s still clicking his tongue, and just today started trying to make some sort of raspberry noise.  He’s in full babble mode lately, mixing some LOUD shrieks/jabbering in for good measure.  One of his favorite activities is sitting on the windowsill and watching the people, cars, and bikes go by.  He’s even starting to bang on the window when he sees people nearby, and the passers-by that notice him always smile.

Anyway, considering that his sleep is still so unpredictable, and it’s already 10:40 pm, I’d better end this, but I couldn’t let Theo’s half birthday go unrecognized!  We love our boy more and more, and it’s so exciting to be reaching the really fun stages!

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Yesterday in the Life of Us

So, I’m still working on the birth story, but just thought I’d share this in the meantime: a slightly long-winded recap of my yesterday.

Yesterday, in the Life of Me

I woke up at 8:30 for the day, but that’s not really when my day began.  It began at 3 am to feed Theo.  I put him back to bed, but he just laid there and kind of groaned and grunted and didn’t go back to sleep–so I presumed a poo was imminent.  I was right.  So after a diaper change (and helping him squeeze the rest out), I put him back down around 4:30, and after a little chat with himself, he fell asleep.  But I didn’t.  Because the day before I had walked through a graveyard, and the evening before, I had read that someone with a baby Theo’s age had suffered the loss of her husband, and I couldn’t stop morbid, awful thoughts from roaming my brain until 5:30 when sleep won out.  For a little while.  Because by then, Andreas started snoring.  And not like…snoring, so I could wake him up and he would stop and I could go back to sleep.  He would snore twice, and then not snore for like half an hour, and then snore three times, and stop for twenty minutes.

So I slept on-and-off until 8:30 when I begrudgingly opened the curtains and got Theodore up to eat.  Usually after he eats, he plays in bed and lets me check Facebook on the Kindle so I can have a little wake-up time, but today, he was a grump from the start.  So we got up and went to play in the living room, while I did my workout.  Then I needed a quick shower, and though I usually bring Theo into the bathroom with me to sit in his little baby-seat so I can keep an eye on him, he seemed okay playing in the living room, so I put on some Curious George (in case he got bored of the toybox) and ran off to the shower.  There were some grumpy shrieks, but we made it through.

Unfortunately, Theo was tired of solo-playtime by this time, and we had to leave in about half an hour (for my international mothers’ group),.  So I did my best to keep him happy while I ate breakfast (which didn’t work, since all he really wanted was to also eat my breakfast), combed my hair, put a bit of makeup on, and got dressed.  I had decided to walk into town today, since his naptime fell at a time where, if I let him sleep, we couldn’t really make it to group.  I also figured that it would take about an hour to get there, and since he usually sleeps longer if he’s in the carriage, I thought it would fit perfectly, and getting an hour-long nap out of Theo would be wonderful!  However, he was super grumpy by this time, as it was about time for his nap, but we weren’t quite ready to go.  He promptly spit up all over my pants (and I noticed that in my hurry to brush my teeth, I’d spilled toothpaste on my shirt), so I changed my clothes, then noticed I had to change his pants.  I hurried back to the living room, as we were running late at this point, and hit my leg on the foot of the bed so hard that I had to sit down and just cry for a second.  I got Theo all wrapped up for wintertime, and got the carriage down the steps and we got on our way, but not before I’d just gotten so fed up with everything (and Theo’s constant whines and yells) that I lost a bit of my temper and scolded the morning in general.

I had decided to take a route I’ve never taken before, and was glad I did, as the road was much nicer than the one I might usually take, but when I got about halfway there, I encountered heavy construction, and couldn’t see how I could get through–so I detoured, and detoured, and got lost, and detoured a little bit more.  I ended up wandering for 10 minutes in a little gated apartment complex, that had one ungated entrance/exit (WHY?!).  When I finally found my way out, I was super delayed, and despite the fact that I was out in public, couldn’t help but let a few more tears out.  I considered just turning around, but decided if I was going to go through all this, I would make it to my mothers’ group.  The rest of the trip went fairly smoothly, and group was wonderful.  I was so glad that I made it all the way out, and met lots of new ladies.  Theo showed off his new rolling skills (from back to belly!) and I shared how excited I was about his first tooth with people who actually also care about things like a hint of a bottom left tooth.  Around one, it was definitely time to go, so we made our way home.  A couple minutes’ walk knocked Theo out, and thankfully this time he stayed asleep!  I took the normal (uglier) walk back home, and after an hour, we were nearly there.  But in the middle of a crosswalk, what should happen but one of the wheels to the carriage falls off!  I trip on it, the carriage tips dangerously (thank goodness Theo stayed safe! Although of course, he woke up) and I grab the wheel and hurry to the other side of the street where I put the wheel back on (but not securely, as it’s broken and just sitting on the axel).  I stopped at the supermarket to buy chocolate and fruit (because I felt I deserved it) and walked the rest of the way home (the wheel coming off one more time, this time thankfully not in the middle of the road!).

Getting home, I wanted to just collapse, but I had left the apartment in shambles, and had to tidy up.  Luckily Theo was in a better mood after his hour-long nap and after a nice feed (and cuddle!) let me get on with my business–tidying, kitchen-cleaning, and sheet-changing.  He was getting grumpy towards the end, so I made him some prune/pear/applesauce, which he enjoyed, but probably not as much as the glass of water I also offered, and after a few more grumbles, I put him down for his nap where he promptly fell asleep without a peep.  And I sat down to write this and eat M&Ms and think about making a cup of coffee, but not daring, because I fear that he’ll wake up if I do, and it’ll end up like the morning’s cup of coffee which I found almost-full on the coffee table when I got home.

Andreas came home around the same time as Theo woke up, and we spent our evening passing each other a fussy baby, while the other one of us heated up dinner, or did chores.  Finally, 8 pm rolled around, and Theo, deciding to be a golden baby again fell asleep without so much as a whine, slept until one where he woke for his pacifier and a belly pat, and slept again until 6 for a pre-breakfast, and then slept again until 9!  And that’s a mixed-bag stay-at-home-mom day.

sahm

To tide you over…

As per request of my sister, I’m working on my birth story to post here.  I know birth stories aren’t for everyone, but I figured if I post a warning, no one can complain 😉  It’s taking forever-long, so I thought in the meantime, I’d better give an update on our daily life!

All in all, things are getting better.  I know this.  But there are still rough days (and nights!).  The biggest victory is that he goes to bed (usually around 8) and stays there!  That doesn’t mean he doesn’t wake up and whine, but we’ve managed to teach him that he doesn’t get to get up and play again, and that’s progress!  We’ve had some pretty good nights (with around 4-5 wake-ups) and some NOT as good ones (like last night with at least 11) but overall, I think we’re headed in the right direction.  He doesn’t eat as often at night anymore, and I’m hoping he’ll just gradually drop some of his wakenings, as he learns that there’s no food waiting for him, and he doesn’t get to get up and play or cuddle.  Usually, it’s a simple pop-the-pacifier-back-in or rub his belly and he’s back asleep, so I’m remaining optimistic here.

That said, this morning I actually wept when I realized I had to get up for the day.  Theo woke around every fifteen minutes starting at 4 am, and was up for the day around 7:30 (after having been awake in his crib for about an hour).  I was shattered.  I was so tired.  I think I would have had an easier time just getting up at 4 am than getting up every few minutes to shush the baby, falling back into bed and immediately passing out, only to wake up again 10 minutes later.  But I’m blaming it on a big poo that just wasn’t happening (but that did happen when we went out–go figure…), and not taking it as a sign of habits to come.

We’re also doing solid foods, bit-by-bit, and soon he’ll be six months and able to have most things, which I’m excited for.

All-in-all, things seem to be settling into almost a sort of routine, which is wonderful.  As long as things keep heading in this direction, we’ll be okay.  Andreas and I have gotten a few evenings together lately, and I really feel like we’re connecting again.  Not that we were ever disconnected exactly, but when you have precious little time to spend together, and when one or both of you is grumpy and/or hopelessly tired, it’s next to impossible to feel as “together” as you do in those first couple of child-free newly-wed years.  I feel like we’re getting that back (although it doesn’t just come–we’re definitely working for it).  I’ll sometimes sacrifice some sleep to stay up and have a cozy evening with Andreas, and he’ll try to be more helpful around the house, and step away from his computer in his scarce free time to really talk with me, have coffee, and just laugh!  We’re starting to laugh a lot more–probably even more than we did before Theo came along, and it just feels really good.

One thing that’s also helping me a lot is starting to knit again!  I’ve had a hard time really relaxing since Theo was born.  I always seem to have at least seven things on my mind, and four un-done tasks hanging over my head.  So even when I try to relax–either browsing online, watching TV, even reading–I feel like I’m only half-relaxed, and the other half of my brain is buzzing and nagging.  But I started a hat the other day, a simple lace pattern, and realized that knitting fills my mind just enough to push out any other thoughts, and still allow me to really let go.  It’s been amazing to spend even a few minutes every day with the yarn and needles, and just *breathe*.

It seems like even that second cup of coffee is wearing off now, so I’d better get moving before I fall asleep and drool all over the couch.  Here’s a few pictures from the past few weeks, and a promise of a birth story as soon as I can manage it!

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