June 14, 2007

I'm new here . . .

I’m sitting at my kitchen table with Jack’s head on my chest and his butt balancing on the computer so that I can type with both hands. It’s 12:48 and I’d love to be in bed, but I refuse to complain. If you had told me last year at this time that I’d get to be caring for this little guy, I wouldn’t have believed it. And now it’s here and I feel so blessed that I’ll deal with the late nights! Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog, so I should start from a while ago.

The last week and a half has been a whirlwind. I kind of feel like on June 1 someone pressed the “fast forward” button on my life and it’s never going to slow down!

On Thursday (May 31), I worked at camp all day and helped serve dinner at a board meeting. It was really warm and although I had wished he'd have come earlier, I was glad for all of the time I had during the week to get things done for the summer. On Friday (June 1), I kicked it into high gear knowing that it was my absolute last day to get things done. I was so productive . . . I think it was probably one of my most productive days on record! I think most people were surprised to see me at camp on that day because they knew I was going to be induced. Actually, I think most people were surprised to see me for the two weeks leading up to giving birth. But keeping busy helped the time to pass fast.

In that last week, I had a couple of emotional breadowns about all of the normal stuff. Will my baby be healthy? Will we have enough money to provide for him? Will I be a good mom or an utter failure? Kyle was so patient and so good to me. I can honestly say that the last three or four weeks have only increased my love for him.

We got to the hospital at 7:30 on Friday and I was so nervous. When they called to tell me to go ahead and come in for induction, it kind of sent me into a panic. I was struggling to hold back tears as I realized that these last few moments at home for Kyle and I were kind of an end of one life and the beginning of the next. I knew that the next time we were home together, everything would be different. I was excited but really emotional. I do this with everything. At the end of each summer, I get emotional about the fact that we’ll never have another summer exactly like the one we just had. I guess I’m just sentimental and it was elevated due to all of the pregnancy hormones!

We stopped at McDonalds on the way to the hospital. It’s the same McDonald’s that we got breakfast at every morning on our way to Ann Arbor for fertility treatments (and is probably the reason I gained more weight than I should have with this pregnancy). We spent a lot of time reminiscing about the last year and talking about how much had changed. A year ago, we weren’t sure we’d ever be able to have a baby and here I was getting ready to go give birth.

I was just a combination of excited and nervous.

When we got to the hospital our nurse (Heather) took us down to our room and I got changed into my fashionable hospital gown and they put the monitors on me. They monitored my contractions as well as the baby’s heartbeat. We pretty much listened to his heartbeat non-stop for the next 21 hours.

My nurse also started me on an IV with anti-biotic because I tested positive for the Group B Strep virus. While she was getting the IV started, the anesthesia guy came to explain the whole epidural thing and to have me sign and consent. Between listening to the risks of epidurals and having the IV started I started to get pale and thought that I might pass out. Kyle was fanning me frantically with the room service menu. It took about an hour for me to feel ok again. All I could think was, “If I couldn’t get through the IV, how will I ever get through labor?!”

At 10 PM, my doctor (who wasn’t even on call that night, but just stopped in to see how I was doing and to make sure everything was ok) came and found that I was 2 cm dilated and they used a suppository to help me continue to dilate. They came back at 2 AM and found that I was at 4 cm and started the pitocin into my IV.

Here’s what I learned about pitocin: They start at .5 units per whatever length of time and double it every hour until it’s up to 2 units. From there, they add 2 units every hour. I was having contractions from the start every 3 – 4 minutes, but didn’t feel a thing. I thought that was lucky for me! I was wrong.

That night was miserable. The bed was uncomfortable and it was so hard to get any sleep hooked up to an IV, blood pressure monitor, fetal heart rate monitor and contraction monitor. Plus, I was still dealing with swollen hands and feet and that didn’t help much! Needless to say, I was still exhausted in the morning.

My mom and sister came Saturday morning and sat with us for a while. It really helped the time pass quickly. They went to get lunch (and to get lunch for Kyle) and while were gone, my pitocin was bumped up to 20 units (which was as high as the doctor would have let them go). They tried to break my water . . . and they thought they did but there wasn’t much to show for it. I still wonder if my water had broken days before that and the doctors just didn’t believe me! When the contractions hit, they hit with a vengeance. They failed to tell me that even though I hadn’t been feeling any contractions, that when the pitocin finally started working, I would feel them 10 times worse than usual. My mom and sister were there for just a few minutes after the contractions started and I could tell they were upset to see me in so much pain . . . which was hard for me to see. Eventually, they went to the waiting room and it was just Kyle and I. Seriously, Kyle was amazing. You would have thought that he had been through this before because he knew exactly what to do and say to make things as good as they could have been.

The hospital was packed that day (Kyle saw one woman in a wheelchair waiting for them to find a room for her) and there were three c-sections going on and one on deck when my contractions hit. I had to wait two hours for the epidural. It was the longest two hours of my life. Going into the hospital, I wasn’t sure if I wanted an epidural or not . . . for many reasons. But as soon as I had about 10 minutes worth of contractions, I was ready for one. The hard thing was I had to sit perfectly still while they placed the catheter for the epidural . . . that’s really hard in the middle of intense contractions. Once the epidural took effect, I fell asleep almost immediately. I know that my contractions were more intense than most, but I don’t know how women go through hours upon hours of labor with contractions of even half of the strength of mine! Those of you who have been induced and given birth naturally . . . I have a great deal of respect for you. I don’t understand it, but I respect it!

As soon as I got the epidural, they came to check me and, of course now that I was comfortable with my epidural, I was dilated to 10. The doctor wanted me to rest for an hour though before starting to push because the two hours of over the top contractions had tuckered me out. I tried to rest and the nurse ordered Kyle to get some food before the pushing started because he’d need all of his energy too. But Jack didn’t want to wait. About 20 minutes into my “rest time” I started getting awful aches all over my belly and the nurse said it couldn’t wait.

It was at this point that she mentioned that most first time moms push 2 – 3 hours to deliver. I think I blocked that piece of information out during our childbirth classes. 2 – 3 hours?! I couldn’t imagine. At that point, I was determined to get this done and to get it done quickly. Kyle and the nurse (whose name was Deena, by the way . . . we couldn’t have done this without her) were so good at encouraging me. When Kyle could see his head he’d tell me and tell me how much he could see and kept me going by reminding me that as soon as this was over, I could hold my son. I seriously can’t even explain to you how much my love for Kyle increased during this whole thing.

I also saw a whole new side of myself during the process of labor and delivery. I’ve never known how I would respond to that much pain and to be honest, I’m really proud of how well I did. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment! Deena called me a rock star . . . I’m not sure why, but I took it as a compliment. People have asked me which was harder: the contractions or the pushing. They are honestly so different, I can’t even compare them.

After 45 minutes of pushing, Jackson William Luke made his entrance into this world at 5:01 PM on June 2. I don’t think anyone can describe the feeling of seeing your child for the first time until you experience it for yourself . .. whether it be in a delivery room, or in the office of an adoption agency or in a recovery room after a c-section . . . it’s truly amazing and Kyle and I were both overcome with emotion and it is a moment that I hope I will never forget.

He was an absolute conehead when he came out! I had never seen a baby with a head that pointy and I was a little worried at first that it might not go away. But it did within a few minutes. He was beautiful!

Jack cried for less than a minute and then spent the next 30 – 40 minutes just looking at me and Kyle . . . he was quiet and wide-eyed. He was completely awake and seemed to be taking everything in.

Kyle took Jack out to introduce him to our families (and tell them his name that they had been so anxious to find out). The nurses helped me to get to the bathroom and get ready to have visitors. I was a little depressed to see that my ankles, face and hands were still really swollen and that I had gone from looking 41 weeks pregnant to looking 37 weeks pregnant. But I was on such a high that none of it really mattered all that much.

The rest of the evening was spent having visitors and making phone calls to let everyone know the good news!

After everyone left on our first night in the hospital, Kyle and I were just stunned as we looked in the little crib and saw our son laying there. He was so perfect and so amazing. All throughout the night, we would just randomly look over and watch him sleep. Could we have possibly brought this kid into the world? Could he possibly be half Kyle and half me (although I’m glad I pushed him out because he looks so much like his dad I needed something to prove that he was mine too)! The nurses and doctors came in and out throughout the night. I probably got about an hour of sleep total . . . but that hour of sleep was way more restful than any of the sleep I had gotten over the last few weeks. I just kept thinking, “I’m his mother!” It was both a daunting and exciting thought. I just kept praying that God would make me equal to the task.

We were told that we would have to stay at the hospital for 48 hours because I tested positive for the Group B Strep virus. What they really meant is that I would be discharged after 24 hours and Jackson would be discharged after 24 hours. Luckily, they have nesting rooms at U of M that allowed us to stay with Jackson until he was discharged. The second night, we went from a really nice hospital room to a really small nesting room that had a couch with a pull out bed for Kyle and I. The walls were paper thin so we could hear everything going on in the other rooms, but at least we all got a little time to cuddle together in the same bed as a family.

Our nurse that came on after Deena was excellent (her name was Becca). The nurse after Becca, however, was not so great. Her name was Jean. She sound Jamaican and I had a hard time understanding her. She seemed like a very kind woman but was very frustrating. She wouldn’t answer any of my questions about when we’d be discharged and would always answer me with “you don’t need to worry about that.” What kind of answer is that?! Then, when I told her I was frustrated and needed answers to my questions (through tears) she told me I could ask the nurse who came on after her.

Needless to say, by the time we were released on Monday, we were ready to get home. Our staff had all arrived Sunday night and we were sad that we couldn’t be there to greet them, but it just wasn’t good timing!

As I reflect on the whole “birthing experience” I’m beginning to forget a lot. I think that’s the only reason that women choose to have more than one child! But I will never forget the moment that they handed Jack to me. I’ll never forget looking at Kyle and seeing how he looked at me and looked at Jack with so much love. I hope that those memories never fade.

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