Thursday, April 18, 2013

"I Don't Know Nothin' Bout Birthin' No Babies"

That's me! And still is, even after the experience of having Anjuli! As I write this, she has just finished her 3am feeding and is lying cuddled up in one of my pillows next to me, swaddled and content. I'm overcome with being a mother after these 5 years of marriage to Lou, I've heard women describe it in all types of ways....but for me its a mixture of wonder and tiny pieces of amazement sprinkled through my this baby who is totally dependent on me to care for her and also her own little person through and through already!

So, I've been getting a lot of questions about the BIRTH. Tell us the birth story! When are you going to give out the details? I'll try my best! :) Its not that I haven't wanted to share "birth day" pictures and the synopsis, but we've been spending our time doing wonderful and painful things this developing sleep patterns and Mommy/Anjuli nursing education and coordination, etc etc.
Wednesday, April 10th -0345 am. I woke to my alarm, got up to shower and check my bag one last time for our 0500 induction scheduled at the Sierra Vista hospital. I was exactly 41 weeks. I couldn't remember if it was ok to eat before going in but I was so nervous and excited that I decided against it, for the moment. I woke Lou 10 minutes before we were supposed to leave and he did his "ready for the day in 5 minutes" magic as usual.
Before the grand induction adventure started!
Lou trying out the bed, since I was determined to walk around and "get things started" ha!
We arrived to the hospital at 0500 and went through registration before walking to the OB unit. They have a small, maybe 13 bed unit but its really nice, updated and their staff is so friendly and helpful every time we've had to make a visit. The nurse directed me to my room, we signed stacks of paperwork saying that we would let the staff care for me, etc etc. and not smoke in our room...all that good stuff. She started my IV, took vital signs and at 0600 she started me on Pitocin at 2mu/minute for the induction, as well as a penicillin bolus as I tested positive for Group B strep in the office. The penicillin BURNS, there's no denying it! The monitor showed I was having contractions, but they were irregular when I arrived, just uncomfortable but no biggie. They turn up the Pitocin 2mu every 30 minutes until a regular contraction pattern occurs so she came back in at 0630 and then at 0700. Dr. Kacenga was going to be in at 0730 to break my water and that made me more nervous than anything else. I'm not sure why, maybe it was all the horror stories about contractions being merely "uncomfortable" until your water is broken and then they are straight from the Pit! Or, my mom's tale of T's birth where the doctor broke her water and her cord prolapsed...requiring an emergency c section. Either way, I was silently praying that he wouldn't need to! At that point I realized just how HUNGRY I was...I was starving! So, we ordered me a clear liquids tray of delicious broth...haha, and gingerale. It did have its saving grace, Italian ice in strawberry flavor. Yum. Definitely a bright light in a dark room. I ordered Lou a regular tray and we ate as I stood rocking back and forth to try and help contractions become stronger. Poor Lou, right as he put the first bite of omelet into his mouth, my water broke! It was such a strange feeling, followed by the relief that Dr. Kacenga wouldn't be needed for that part. :) Lou is a trooper, its a good thing his stomach is made of iron as most folks would promptly throw away their breakfast and stay Kermit green for a while. He manfully ate every bite! LOL At that point Dr. Kacenga arrived to check my progress-did I mention that those exams make me want to climb backwards up and off the bed? Its a universal feeling, I believe. The bad news was that I was unchanged from Monday in the office..still 1.5 cm and 40% effaced. He gave me some encouragement and headed out, then my nurse came back, offering me a birthing ball to use at the bedside. The contractions had started becoming more and more uncomfortable at this point so I was glad to try it out and I definitely am a fan of birthing balls now. The only problem with my case was my amniotic fluid. My close friends know that I've carried a water bottle with me since early pregnancy and drink massive amounts (for me, as I don't really like water) of water throughout the day in order to stay hydrated. The high measurement for amniotic fluid on ultrasound is 20 and when they did my ultrasound at 40 weeks I had 17...which explains why Anjuli could bounce around inside so freely for so long! This massive amount of fluid resulted in gushing every time I had a contraction...which meant that Lou ran back and forth getting towels and replacing the ones I had around the ball every 2 minutes-because that's how often the contractions were now. They began getting really painful and I was deep breathing, praying, and moaning...then they picked up and became even closer, every 1-1 1/2 minutes. My amniotic fluid saturated at least 5 hospital towels and it was still coming when I got incredibly sick and ended up in the the same time I started vomiting not just the clear liquids from the morning's tray but also food from the previous night. It was quite the scene. I knew it was coming so I was able to have Lou grab the blue upchuck bags from their spot and didn't entirely make a mess...but my body felt as though it had completely lost control of all functions. I remember sitting in the bathroom clutching Lou's hands and praying that I would survive another contraction! Whew, quite the drama! When the nurse checked on me, we asked her about the bloody show we were seeing-it seemed like quite a bit. No, let me re-phrase that, Lou asked her about it as I was fighting my way through contractions and groaning. From the short walk to bedside from the bathroom I had two and I couldn't seem to catch my breath long enough before another one hit. She turned the Pitocin down and said that they were coming one on top of another so a little too close together for comfort. At that point, she checked me and TaDa! All that pain and suffering was the result of lots of change-I had gone from 1.5/40% at 0730 am to 4.5cm/100% effaced at 1000. I was glad, but it didn't change the fact that I thought I was dying, literally. I've never experienced pain in that way, where my body started cleansing me of everything I had put it in in the last 24 hours! During the check, I vomited again and she asked me,"Are you sure you don't want the epidural? I just want to offer it again." Frankly, I couldn't see myself surviving at this point. Dr. Kacenga and the nurse both seemed to think my labor as a first time mom would be at least 14-16 hours with the induction and it had been only my brain kept saying "you're only 1/4 of the way through at most". Ahhhhh! I was breathing through the contractions but I didn't feel in control either mentally or physiologically. On the other hand, I really had wanted to attempt it without the epidural and I felt guilty for "caving in" to my weakness. I asked Lou, I remember crying and telling him that folks would be disappointed in me (think there was some crazy pain induced thought process going on there, lol :)) and he assured me that no one would mind, that he felt it would be a good thing for me to have it and not be in such pain. So, I was like,"Yes, I'll take it" and the anesthesiologist popped in 5 minutes later to start it. Those 5 minutes seemed eternity, with 2 more fact, I have to say that I felt absolutely no anxiety or pain during the epidural placement (although Lou was in shock about the needle cannula length...he still talks about!) because the pain of the contractions was overwhelming everything else. Once he placed it, it took 15 minutes or so and then....euphoria. I've never felt that before! It was like going from dying slowly and painfully to warm numb drowsiness. Lou said that is when I started talking and smiling again.....and I'm sure he's right. I was disappointed I couldn't continue without it until I had it, it ran beautifully and I lay back and relaxed.
A hot mess- right after the epidural was placed!
We sat and talked, then Lou turned on HGTV's "Love It Or List It" and we laughed about the owners of the "un-liveable (in their minds) homes" as they complained about the color of a room's wall, or exclaimed that they "couldn't live here, we need at LEAST 5 bedrooms and 4 baths and this home is just too small" of the 4,000 square foot dwellings they were shown. We wondered aloud what they would think of our 1400 sq. ft Fort Huachuca house with its leaking drains, linoleum tile over concrete in EVERY room, drain roaches and concrete exterior walls that make it almost impossible to decorate! :) I'm afraid we had very little sympathy for the dis-satisfied show participants. At noon, my nurse re-checked me and I had progressed to 8cm! At 10cm you're allowed to start pushing so she was optimistic I would be delivered much earlier than expected. Yay! It was so difficult to imagine being a mommy at that point. I had so much excitement but it still felt so unreal that this child who had spent the last 9 months inside me would be meeting me, today! I kept speculating on who she would look like, whether she would have hair? (I was bald when I was born) Lou assured me she'd be beautiful! (And he was right, she is!)
At 3pm I was 10cm and began the pushing process. I was numb from the waist down due to the epidural but I could still center my pushing somewhat...I asked my nurse for a mirror to be able to push effectively and that helped me tremendously. We did several pushes through the contractions and then she called Dr. Kacenga to come from his office, which is just a few blocks away. He arrived close to 330pm and while he gowned and gloved we continued, Lou supporting me on one side and my nurse on the other. It was a strange feeling to be at that stage of the labor, wondering if I was "doing it right" and the excitement building as she moved down the birth canal. And then, she was there! Her head was showing and Lou said,"Kim, she has hair!" so I reached down and felt her little fuzzy head...I think that threw me into overdrive...I just wanted her out! She arrived- at 346pm, covered in vernix and goopy-ness....and I babbled, "Here, lemme have her, lemme have her!!!" I remember grabbing at her and Dr. Kacenga and the resident laughing at me as I wouldn't let her go....I never thought I'd be that anxious to hold an unwashed newly born baby (I thought perhaps I would want her cleaned up first?) but it didn't matter a bit at the moment that she was covered in gunk, I just wanted her in my arms and to see her, for the first time! She was beautiful, angry and screaming!
30 seconds after she was born!
Wonderful new life shared together!
Just beautiful! Up to that point (since we hadn't had a 3/4D ultrasound) our last ultrasound had been for fluid check only so I wasn't sure what she looked like...just a vague outline from our 24 week one. I can't get enough of her! She's this amazing little bundle of joy from the Lord and I can't imagine anything better than having her as our own!
 She weighed in at 7 lbs. 9 oz and is very long, 20.5". Lou cut the umbilical cord. :) Her apgars were excellent, 9/9.

So unhappy with us! :)
I had some tearing (2nd degree) from delivery but all in all I'm so thrilled with how everything went, the nursing staff at the hospital was so good to me, I started taking the Ibuprofen/Vicodin Dr. Kacenga prescribed that evening in order to pre-medicate before the pain became seemed to work super well and I've been very sore at times during the healing process but its not unbearable. They took my iv/epidural out after delivery, let me get up through the night and feed her on demand. She spent the night rooming in with us and I hated to let her go out of my sight, even for the pediatrician's exam. :) I was exhausted though after delivery and the adrenaline wore off! I took this picture just to remind myself of how zoned out I was that night! It makes me laugh. :)
The nurse said my heartrate went into the 130s when I delivered and stayed there for half an hour so once it dropped, I felt like I'd just run a marathon!
I was released home the following evening after we successfully had the requisite number of dirty/wet diapers and her nursing was going well. :)

I've been here ever since getting in the groove with our little blessing and feeling better and better each day! I am amazed at how well I feel, how much energy I have!
Some wonderful changes for me involve: more sleep (shocking, I know, with a newborn-but before her birth I was getting less than 4 hours a night), being able to eat anything and everything without having reflux and heartburn, walking without pain, no more trips to the bathroom every 15 minutes! Its amazing! I love it, and her!

:) Lou and I spend an inordinate amount of time admiring her,"Isn't she beautiful? Yes dear. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!" :) Thank you all for prayers throughout this process, for praying back when Anjuli was only a name in a novel, through the infertility treatments, through the pregnancy and now for her healthy birth! We can't wait to share her with you all on our visits home, our little blessing!
Growing every day-her favorite sleeping pose after a morning feeding!
PS- This blog will now be dedicated to all things baby Anjuli, lol. Seriously, be prepared for a lot of that but also I plan to keep you updated on our lives in general and where the army takes us next. :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Forty + (Almost) Free Food!

Hi there friends! So today is Saturday, its 9:30pm in Arizona time (we're 3 hours earlier than EST) and this is not a birth announcement. :) Anjuli's due date came and went uneventfully, at my 40 week appointment on Wednesday they were pleased that everything is looking good and she is continuing to be her active self, but wanted to begin non-stress tests twice a week to monitor her activity, schedule my next appointment for Monday, and then begin talk of an induction.
One of those dreadful self portraits...but Lou had a full class schedule on my due date. :) 40 weeks!
 I was disappointed to find that I haven't dilated or effaced more (1cm and 50%) since my 38 week exam but she is considerably lower so progress is being made. I went in to our little hospital on Thursday for the non stress test which consists of being hooked up to two monitors for an hour-one that measures Baby A's heartrate and the other that shows both movement and contractions. I had spent most of the morning in bed after getting very little sleep, so my contractions were few and far between. Anjuli is amazingly active, and her heartrate stays around 140 when she's chilling but as she moves it elevates to the 180s...which like I said, is a lot! No wonder I feel drained at times of all energy! There's plenty of amniotic fluid around her and she's still a girl, according to the ultrasound. :) Just has to finish her cooking time.....
I have been fluctuating between, "I must rest up for labor" and "I must get this baby born" for the past few some days I have amazing amounts of energy and others its a struggle to get the basic daily tasks done. Last night I had some very restful sleep- I discovered if I play my "Fernando Ortega" Pandora station on my phone and place it next to my belly, Anjuli jumps up and down on my bladder for the first 10 minutes but after that it seems to put her to sleep. Amazingly wonderful discovery after quite a few restless nights! (She lives off her own special version of in-utero '8 Hour Energy' starting at 11pm, I've decided. :)) So, I have done that for the last two nights and gotten at least 5 hours of sleep. This morning I was energized and rested enough to head out to the "Market on the Move" here on post. It was the first time it has been organized here in the area and I was curious to see the results, as they said that they had over 36,000 lbs of produce donated. :) They advertised "60 lbs of produce for $10", so my two (also very 8+ months' pregnant) friends/neighbors Lindsay and Sarah joined me in my Saturday morning quest. :) There were hundreds of folks standing in line when we arrived to the site and we ended up waiting for a little over an hour but we spent that time chatting about: Bar vs Bat Mitzvahs, chick flicks, pregnancy massages, Walmart bikes, Alaskan geography....etc etc etc and the time went by fairly quickly. :) At the front of the line, we were handed a poker chip token to cash in-showing that we were paying customers, two large fruit boxes and directed to one of five different table lines. The produce available was vegetables only but they had an ample selection of cucumbers, peppers, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes and I ended up bringing home these two boxes full to process.

 In the meantime I had some of those breathtaking contractions start. Whew....they do take your breath away! This is it....I hoped! So, I got home with my loot and began processing, determined to stay on my feet and keep them going, but also get all my vegetables blanched and frozen for meals later on....just so they wouldn't rot as I lay in the hospital.
Peeling tomatoes after blanching for freezing-assembly line!
Finished! Whew....plenty of good stuff for Lou's future dinners. :)
The contractions lasted for the next 2 1/2 hours and then abruptly stopped...which by that time I was grateful for. So much for that! That left me with only one option-NAP. And I took advantage of it. :) Meanwhile, in North Carolina my sister in law Christie was laboring and had her baby, a little boy named Thomas James! (Tommy for short). He has a full head of hair and is 7 lbs, 11oz at 37 weeks!
Tommy with daddy Jim, look at that beautiful hair!
I'm wondering how much bigger Anjuli will get in these remaining I have started craving carbs like nothing I experienced earlier in the year! My sweet friend Mikki sabotaged all good nutritionally healthy eating intentions with this stash of Wawa goodies that arrived in a care package yesterday from Kentucky!
How can I resist all this Tastykake goodness at my fingertips! Hopefully I haven't added an extra lb to Anjuli's weight with my lack of self control, lol.

 I finished this little sign to hang over her crib and although we still need to put it up....I'll be more than glad to postpone that task for a ride to the hospital instead. :) Lou keeps saying,"Just let me know when your water breaks, ok?" And I will, I assure him!
Hope you all have a restful weekend and beautiful Sunday of worship! We haven't been able to get out to church for some time but we are enjoying listening to Redeemer Church Blacksburg's online sermons each Sunday, what a blessing modern technology can be when utilized wisely. :) Hope to be updating this again soon with lots of pictures of sweet baby redness!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Waiting Game

Normally I pride myself on my patience...that is, my outward patience. I have decided that I'm actually not a patient person but I'm good at faking it most days. Like when I'm at the grocery store and the clerk decides to inspect and comment on each item I place on the belt....What I'm not good at faking is patience over Anjuli's impending arrival. If I knew a day...I could patiently wait, right? But each day starts with,"Boy, I feel terrible" or "Boy, I feel great!".....followed by,"What if this is it?" I've had a lot of those lately and I think Lou is more than humanly patient because he gets to listen to all my hormone crazed reasoning over why or why not I'm in early labor, pre-labor, maybe going to have labor???? pretty much throughout each day, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Due date is Wednesday the 3rd, today is April 1st and I've been having contractions throughout the day, but not regularly. This makes me excited! My friend Lindsay and I walked this morning (she's 3 weeks behind me in her pregnancy) for 2 miles and I was psyched because I ached from back to front and back again...only time in my life that I get excited about hurting so badly! No baby in sight yet...but the night is young, haha! When I saw the doctor 2 weeks ago I was a centimeter dilated and 50% effaced but my next appointment is Wednesday and I feel like she's been moving lower and lower down each day. She was head down and snugly planted but you'd never guess that from the kicking and acrobatics that go on non-stop!
Last week we got the "slate" with the list of next duty stations after graduation. Lou's graduation from Military Intelligence Captains Career Course is May 31st and the slate basically gives the students 20-30 different assignment possibilities at various forts in the US and overseas. You choose your "top ten" choices and explain why you're requesting them in the paperwork submitted to the branch manager. Just because you want a location doesn't guarantee that you will be assigned there....or even anywhere in your top ten. It really depends on the army's needs and your perceived some random who knows what thrown in to make it interesting, lol. Our slate was pretty dismal by most standards....with overseas assignments being all in Korea. The CONUS (continental united states) stations ranged from Ft. Drum in NY to Ft. Richardson in AK! We were supposed to hear back about our assignment on Friday, but since it was Good Friday no ones' hopes were too high. The army tends to give out information that changes from one briefing to the next.....and the only constant in our lives is that nothing is constant. :) Instead, the assignments came out today and we will be staying at Fort Huachuca until December! Lou had requested a class after graduation in order to allow for Anjuli to be older during our next move...and they assigned him to a Military Counter Intelligence course which runs from July-December 2013. This will be good for his resume and career goals, but it will mean a very WARM summer for us. :) Fortunately, unlike Kentucky the humidity is next to nil so it will probably feel cooler than summer 2012 was! So, what this means as far as our next assignment??? We probably won't know where we're headed next until November. And that's ok.
So....that's the latest on our little family..for tonight. Tomorrow there might be big news, but until then....... we wait. :)
Update: this is the next day (Tuesday)... Well, today was almost an exact opposite of yesterday. I woke up with plans to walk, go to Bible study and clean out the refrigerator in prep for Lou's weekly shopping trip. Its been great to make a list and hand it over, knowing that he will be back in less than an hour from the commissary. Man on a mission, let me tell you! Instead, I barely climbed out of bed in time to throw together breakfast, began crying at the breakfast table, and ended up spending most of my morning lying in a lawn chair in our enclosed courtyard, trying to sleep through contractions. Lou's idea...he knows how much I love the sun and usually its a winner. Today everything hurt so much and I was so exhausted I couldn't focus on even the basics. I ended up showering and crawling back into bed at 11am, only to wake up at 5:30 with stronger contractions. I also had this overwhelming craving for fried chicken, even though I know,"Eat light if you think you're in labor" is one of the 5 basic labor rules. Lou ran out to Burger King, which is less than 3 blocks away and brought back those "crazy bad for you" but delicious chicken strips, fries and a coke. I don't know if it was a mixture of hormones and pain from contractions or just pure hunger after not having eaten today, but I was a hysterical mess tonight. Sobbing about the house being dirty, being in pain, not being able to eat without getting nauseated, not having done anything all day, not having any makeup on or my hair fixed, failing to answer friends' text name it, I cried about it. I'm so blessed to have Lou here for me, in spite of my craziness he holds me and assures me that he loves me just the same...and that can do a lot for a pregnant woman's morale. :) That and chicken from Burger King. These contractions have been frustrating because I can't seem to time them. There's no tidy "oh, its starting" moment, only a "I can't breathe" feeling at some point followed by "wait a minute, I can breathe again" realization later on. I can't tell by pressing my abdomen because (not to brag) the doctor affirmed my conviction that I have really hard abdominal muscles in they always feel hard. Before I got pregnant my stomach was the flat part of my body, nice and toned unlike most of the rest of me, though through no virtue or dedicated exercises of my own. Now, it remains rock hard even though its 12" wider than it was pre-pregnancy. All this to say that I spent most of tonight walking back and forth through the house, deep breathing, and then at 10pm was seized with an urgent need to clean the bathrooms and mop the floors. And yes, I did it. And then the contractions stopped. So.....the bathrooms look sparkling clean now, which is nice because part of my crying session was related to our staying in this house for another 8 months.  It IS a good thing to be staying until December, but the realities of the old housing aren't glamorous. There's no regulation of heat/cold, no insulation, the paint is 15-20 layers' thick with peeling at every seam/doorway/window, the floors are stained and chipped plastic tile, impossible to keep clean, all the exterior walls are concrete and make decorating a challenge, and the cockroaches in Arizona are drain roaches, which means that unless you pour bleach down all the drains and close them each're going to see roaches. These aren't insurmountable challenges, but with the door closed to our leaving in June/July for new horizons and a new duty station, today they seemed so.
Anyway friends, I know you have been wondering and emailing about Baby I thought I'd update the blog before the big event occurred, just to let you know it hasn't happened yet! Lord willing, we'll be holding Anjuli by the end of this week as I'm very ready to meet her and also be un-pregnant. :)