Saturday, August 31, 2013

3 Weeks Out

It's hard to believe that Gabe is three weeks old--- in some ways, it feels like he has just always been here. In other ways, he is still so new and we are still adjusting. The biggest adjustment for me is the complete lack of a schedule. I am a schedule person; I like to know what is going to happen and when. Right now, Gabe's not really in a sleep pattern or routine; the only thing that is predictable is that he likes to eat and is happy when he's eating.

Chris and I are learning to help each other and work as a team (not always flawlessly). Before Gabe, I knew we were Team Knipe. We were good at dividing and conquering. However, dividing and conquering is easy to do when each member of the team is well rested. When team members lack sleep, it's much more difficult to communicate needs and be sweet to each other. (We're working on it!)

Post-Gabe, Team Knipe does different tasks, tasks that we've never done together before: diapering, rocking, singing, soothing, burping... Further, these tasks occur at all times of day and night--- and I think that is another adjustment. I don't think we've ever valued sleep so much! A 15 minute power nap to us is equivalent to winning the lottery these days.

Also golden, is time out of the house:This week, Chris's Jeep took a dive. For a few days, he took my car, leaving me at home with Gabe. Gabe was not the problem for me. The problem was being stuck in the house, with Gabe practically attached to my chest, day and night. I didn't realize that I was loosing my mind until it was almost too late. Yesterday, we drove out to my parents' house and I sat in the sun and talked to my mom for about an hour. After, I felt like a new person! Lesson learned: anticipate the cabin-fever feeling and prevent it by communicating to your spouse that you need out! You need sunshine and interaction with other humans---It's amazing what some sun and adult conversation can do; even though the conversation focused on Gabe, it was still refreshing.

My incision/stomach is still sore, but it is healing. Give me another three weeks, and I hope to be able to walk more than a few blocks!

All in all, Team Knipe, all three of us, are doing well!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

He's Here! (...and here's my attempt to recap it all)

(Sorry this post is delayed and somewhat jumbled! It's been a crazy, but awesome past week!)

Chris and I planned to begin induction on Thursday night (8/8/13) at 5 PM. They told us to call prior to arriving just to make sure there was a bed available for us. Apparently, many people were having babies on Thursday! After pushing back our arrival time a few hours, Chris and I walked onto the labor and delivery floor at around 7: 30 PM.

Our midwife Janice hooked me up to the monitors and then started Cytotec, a cervical ripening medication that also was supposed to begin contractions. I had to be on my left side for two hours; basically, Chris and I just hung out and chatted while we waited. We slowly started to see contractions on the monitor, and then, I started to feel them. They were pretty spaced apart, at about every 8 minutes or so, and they were not that painful.

Janice came back to check me at around 10:30 PM. I was only dilated to 1cm and the contractions were not close enough apart to keep me for the night. She sent us home to sleep with the instructions to call in the morning around 5 AM and to plan to come back for Pitocin to really get labor started. She advised us to call sooner if my contractions became five minutes apart.

We arrived home around 10:45. I got into pjs and wanted to try to get as much sleep as possible because I knew the next day was going to be a long one (but one I wanted to arrive ASAP!). My contractions really started to pick up in intensity and frequency after 11 PM; we had only been home for 15 minutes! The contractions were so bad that I actually could not find a comfortable position. They were 2-3 minutes apart--- it seemed like out of nowhere, I was in full fledged labor!

Me: What is going on?!? This is insane! We have to go back to the hospital. Seriously. I can't even catch my breath!

Chris: Let me call Janice and see what she says we should do.

Me: Holy crap. I think my water just broke. (I walk two feet). Yep. It did. Oh, and I think I am going to throw up now. Grab me a bowl! Seriously. (And I throw up).

The above events happened within 15 minutes of arriving home from the hospital; as we know, Chris is not one to do well with super fast change. He was running around trying to grab everything that we had just unpacked from the car while trying to make sure I wasn't going to leak all over the house, while trying to get ahold of Janice on the phone.

Chris: I left a message and Janice will call us back. They are paging her.

Me: We have to go now! I am going outside. Get the car!

As we waited for the phone call back from the midwife, the only "comfortable" position for me was being on all -fours. I must have looked like a total lunatic--- on all-fours on our back deck waiting to get into the car upon Janice's return phone call.

Once we got the green light to come back to the hospital, I climbed into the car, hanging backward over the front seat (as sitting actually made the contractions WAY worse). All I could think of was how I would get to the labor and delivery floor from the car between contractions. I knew I had two minutes, but I knew that wouldn't be enough time.

We walked quickly into the hospital and at about the lobby, I had to go down--- on all-fours that is! It was a good thing it was so late at night because I would have looked even more ridiculous in the middle of the day! Janice, met us in the lobby with a wheelchair, which she promptly directed me to sit in. I told her I didn't want to sit. She said I had to (seriously--- she was so direct, which was what I needed at that point---I sat down and she and Chris sped me up to a room).

Once I got into the labor and delivery room, I noticed that my nurse was one of my old high school friends, Emily. It was comforting to know her, and I had NO problem stripping down and asking for help!

My contractions continued every two minutes, with me on all-fours during each. After getting an IV started, and getting checked, I was frustrated to hear that I was only 2 cm dilated. Only 2?!? It was going to be a long night....

After two hours, I was given an epidural--- Holy amazingness! I could still feel pressure and slight pain, but I felt like a million bucks after getting the epidural. My fear level and anxiety level lessened once I was able to get a grip on the pain and really start focusing on the fact that I WOULD be having a baby soon (or so I thought).

At 7 AM, my good family friend Kathy was scheduled to be my nurse after Emily. God knew I needed comforting people around me--- the fact that Emily and Kathy were my nurses during labor was so comforting--- I am so thankful for God's provision in them for me.

Janice's shift was over at 7AM (Friday) also and Cathy (sorry-- a Cathy and a Kathy= confusing), another midwife, took her place. Cathy checked me periodically throughout the morning, noting that I really wasn't progressing. She suggested I begin Pitocin to hopefully open my cervix more. Every twenty minutes, the Pitocin level increased and the baby was monitored to make sure everything was okay. At around 1 PM, Cathy mentioned that we could keep trying for a few more hours, but that we might want to start thinking about a C-section, should I not dilate any further. I kept hoping that something would break free and that I would be able to dilate further.

At around 4 PM, Cathy (midwife) and Kathy (nurse) came in and checked me one more time. I was between 3 and 4 CM dilated, but my cervix was beginning to swell and actually reverse some of the progress. Even though the baby's head was super low, my cervix just was not cooperating! It was the weirdest thing, to be able to feel something like a softball between my legs (the baby's head!) yet know that I was not dilated enough to get the baby out.

Once it was decided that the C-section was the safest and most effective way to get him out, Chris and I came to grips with the plan. We were told the anesthesia team would be ready for us at 5PM.

At around that time, Kathy (nurse) was ending her shift. She offered to stay with me through the C-section, but I felt bad making her stay. She introduced me to Laura, the nurse who would be accompanying me into the C-section and staying with me afterward. Laura had such a sweet, comforting demeanor. I felt like Kathy left me in really good hands!

The anesthesia team came in and got me prepped for the O.R. Chris had to wait outside until I was completely prepped. This was about 20 minutes, where I felt very nervous--- I began to shake and just feel alone without Chris next to me. Laura stepped up to my side and held my hand, filling me in on each step of the procedure. It was comforting to have her next to me until Chris was able to come in. Finally, Chris came in and took a seat right next to my face. It was scary, being strapped down and only being able to move my head. However, Chris knew exactly how to make me feel better--- he stared directly into my eyes and began telling me a story, trying to make me laugh, while rubbing my head. He knew I needed to be distracted for a bit until the baby was ready to come out.

Chris told the doctors and nurses that we did not know the baby's gender, and asked if he could be the one to announce it when the baby was out. Finally, the doctor announced that Chris should stand up and look over the divider. I watched Chris peer over the divider, proclaiming excitedly:


At that point, I heard the baby cry and of course, I began to cry. So did Chris. It was so unreal. They handed the baby to Chris and then he held him up for me to see. It was a really short view, because they needed to check out the baby on the warming table. I instructed Chris to go and be with the baby while they finished closing up my stomach.

It was the most surreal feeling--- watching Chris stare down and talk to the baby on the warming table. I couldn't see the baby because there were so many people standing around him. But, I could see Chris's face. He was beaming--- through the mask, I could see his high cheek bones raised with a permanent smile. Chris's eyes were huge and tears were streaming out of them as he talked to the baby. Finally, once the baby was given a thorough once-over, they gave him back to Chris to bring over to me. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and tried to just look at him. This was hard to do because I couldn't lift my head up. However, seeing him, and seeing Chris with him, was enough satisfaction for me!

The baby was officially born at 5:33 PM, weighing 8 lbs. 13 oz. and was 22 and 1/4 inches long.

Chris went with the baby to the nursery while I was getting stitched up and taken to recovery. This was somewhat of a blur, but I do remember just shaking uncontrollably from surgery, the excitement, the news. They gave me tons of warming blankets to help me relax and reduce the shaking.

In the recovery room, I got sick to my stomach from the anesthesia, but Laura was with me the whole time. Finally, Chris brought the baby into the recovery room. I was super groggy--- I was so happy to see both of them, but I was SO out of it! They asked if I wanted to nurse him, which I did, however, my body was so numb I struggled to be able to lift my hands to hold him. Chris helped hold him to my chest and we tried our best to make a go at nursing. We must have been a sight--- Chris holding the baby (who still had no name) to my chest, while I struggled to stay awake!

We were taken back to a hospital room where Chris and I made a few phone calls-- again, this is blurry to me because I was so drugged up! I do remember my parents and Chris's parents coming to the hospital around 10 PM to see the baby briefly.

After sleeping off some of the drugs, I think I was finally lucid at around 3 AM, when Chris and I were both up to feed the baby. It was finally in that moment that I realized I was a mom, that I had had the baby, and that it was REAL. As I held him, I was finally able to see each part of him, examine him, and take in that sweet baby smell. 

We went through a list of boy names, before both equally agreeing that Gabriel (Gabe) was the perfect name for him. I can't believe how easy it was! Months of negotiating and discussing name possibilities, and it came down to a sweet moment, at 3 AM, between Chris and I. It was priceless. 

When Chris and I finally left the hospital, with Gabe in the car, I began to cry. I just couldn't believe that it was real; he was coming home with us. Call it hormones. Call it whatever you wish. I call it a miracle; we have a son, a precious gift from God who is part of our family, who is legitimately ours to love up and to cherish from this point on. 

And so, nine days later, here we are. I can't believe so much time has gone by. It's strange; in some ways I feel like Gabe has been with us forever. In other ways, I feel like he is super new. We are adjusting to less sleep, but more smiles than I thought imaginable. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Here's the "plan" Stan

Warning: This post might be TMI for some (however, I promised I would outline everything in the IVF/pregnancy/delivery process, so here are some more vivid, kind of gross details of the process):

I had an appointment yesterday where they checked to see if I had progressed any further. Not really, they said. The baby's heart rate was still in the low 140s and he/she appears to be really liking life in my uterus! All of my vitals are still good and within normal, so they did  not feel pressed to induce me on the spot.

The midwife we had yesterday got us scheduled for "cervical ripening" and induction for later this week. Joy!

While I am not thrilled at the prospect of having to have my labor started in a somewhat unnatural manner, I am happy to know that SOMETHING will be happening! We will go to the hospital Thursday afternoon for a few hours for Cervidil and maybe the Foley balloon. If nothing happens, they will send us home for the night, and then we would come back in at 6AM Friday for Pitocin and hopefully, a baby!

My midwife yesterday stripped my membranes with the hope of getting the ball rolling. Almost 24 hours later, I can report that I've had cramping but nothing more.

So today is Tuesday, 8/6/13. Maybe by 8/9/13, we will have a baby. I hope so!

I was encouraged by the fact that the doctor's office did not want me to schedule another check-up appointment--- hopefully that is their sign of confidence that a baby will be born soon!

Friday, August 2, 2013

And one more thing...

I must remember for next time:

Lie about my due date.
Tell everyone it is two or three weeks later than it really is.
Then, Baby Watch won't even have to happen.

And here is the 40 Week Pic:

Patience, patience...

Chris, two nights ago at dinner: "Dear God. Thank you for this food and for all of the blessings you have given us. Thank you for this baby and for the joy he/she has given us already. Please help us to be patient while we wait for the baby to arrive. Amen"

Me, kind of jokingly: "What are you doing!? Praying for patience!? Don't you know that God will make us wait LONGER to so we really LEARN to be patient!?"

Even typing the word patience makes me annoyed.

Yesterday was not a great day. As I indicated in an earlier post, it's like Baby Watch 2013 around here. I do appreciate the phone calls, emails, and texts from inquisitive minds, wanting to know how we're doing. However, it is hard to know how we are doing, and even how to respond to certain questions sometimes (especially ones that deal with my female region and its preparedness for labor. Not cool folks. Not cool).

I know it is all in my head; when my anxiety kicks in, everything is bigger in my head. I feel like I am living under a microscope and people are just sitting around, in their lawn chairs, waiting for me to go into labor. The drive-bys, the drop-ins of family and friends "just checking" to see if we are in labor are unnerving. I know everyone is excited, but for me, I just feel overwhelmed and on edge. I guess these feelings are normal? I don't know?

Chris came home last night, and I met him at the door crying. I don't think I've done that since the hormonal IVF days this past fall.

"I'm done! I just need the baby to come. My nerves are killing me!"

"You're okay. You're fine. It will be soon!

"No I won't. It is never coming out. Everyone wants updates and I have nothing to tell them, nor do I even want to speak/see anyone! I just want to be left alone!"

After my "tantrum", Chris suggested we go chat on the couch, which meant me continuing to complain/sniffle/snot all over his shirt. After about ten minutes of that, I feel asleep.

I think anxiety makes me tired. Yep, I'm sure of it. I woke up 45 minutes later feeling better.

At around 10 PM last night, we went for a walk. Chris dawned his infamous headlamp, you know, the one that makes him look SUPER cool. We must have looked like quite a pair-- headlamp man and waddling woman. Oh well. At least it was dark and no one could really know who we were.

Chris is being supportive and funny, just what I need him to be.

Today is Friday. We have an appointment in the morning on Monday. If I have not progressed at all, we will schedule an induction at that time.

It's not that I am physically uncomfortable being pregnant; I am just emotionally tired of the waiting. We waited for years before this, through countless procedures and appointments. Clearly I can wait a few more days (but please God let it be sooner).