Sunday, October 23, 2011

One Month

Photo courtesy of Camera+.  Don't know what Camera+ is?  It's an awesome app for the iPhone.  Don't have Camera+?  Get it.

Stella is one month old today.  I've been thinking about how different things are for us with her around.  It's amazing how drastically life can change in a matter of moments.  One moment, I was doing my thing with a baby in my belly.  Still living life essentially as I had been used to.  Jumping in the car and going places when I needed/wanted to.  Listening to whatever music I wanted to.  Eating when I was hungry.  Sleeping in.  Keeping the house relatively clean.  Walking the dog every day and exercising regularly when it was convenient for me.  Going to bed at night when I felt like it.  Doing only a few loads of laundry every couple of weeks.  Watching a TV show uninterrupted.  Life was pretty good.  In seconds, all of that was over.

Our lives pretty much did a 180 in the blink of an eye.  All of a sudden, little Stella was here.  And, all of a sudden, our lives completely revolved around this little one.  Instead of toting Stella around in my belly, I get to tote her around in her car seat.  Or in my arms.  And she's heavy.  Now I jump in the car and go places only after Stella is fed and happy and only when I really need something.  One of my favorite songs these days is the groo-vay version of London Bridges Falling Down that plays on her swing.  It gets me be-bopping my head every time it comes on.  I eat when I have my arms free now.  I sleep when Stella sleeps.  The house has burp rags, receiving blankets, and other baby paraphernalia strewn about.  I walk the dog (and Stella) only when the baby is happy and ready to go and I'm not too tired.  And exercising regularly?  Well, I'll get there.  I go to bed as soon as Stella is down for the night.  Be it 9 pm or 1 am.  I do at least a couple loads of laundry a week - more if she's been particularly explosive with her bowel movements or spit ups.  And as for watching a TV show uninterrupted - well, thank goodness for Hulu and DVRs.

But, life is still good.  Even though it's gotten a little (or a lot) crazy and my life now revolves around a tiny person that can't walk or talk or do anything for herself, life is wonderful when I get to watch this little gal grow and develop and start seeing and understanding the world.  She smiles now.  It's legit, too.  Not just gas or unconscious muscle movements.  She doesn't do it often, but every once in a while she just stops and looks at me and gets an unmistakable smile on her face.  And it melts my heart every time.  She's the perfect little subject for me to practice my weak photography skills on.  I can never take too many pictures of the cutest little baby ever!

What a month it has been.  The days sometimes seem long, but this month has gone by at an astounding pace.  I feel like we just barely left the hospital with her.  But, time marches on and our little girl is growing and changing so fast.  I find myself already missing the first few days with her at home and the magical newborn stupor we were in.  But, I'm also very excited for the months ahead and the exciting times it will be to watch her grow and develop.

All grown up and ready for church!
Happy one month, little Stella.  We love you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Growing Stella

Stella had her two week check up yesterday. She is definitely growing. She's up to 9 lbs now and has added a half inch to her height. I'm trying to squeeze her into her newborn size clothes for a couple more days so she'll actually be able to wear all the ones she has. But, very soon we'll be moving on to the 0-3 month size. And, that's okay because I was looking in her drawers today and she's got some really cute clothes ready and waiting!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Stella At Home

Baby Stella is two weeks old now and we're all adjusting to life with a newborn.  Poor Scout has really had it rough.  Her whole life has been flipped upside down.  But, she's taking it like a champ, slowly adjusting, and she loves little Stella.  Mr. Frisby and I are also adjusting.  Things have been crazy, especially with the lack of sleep, but we're loving our little girl.  And, of course, Stella has been adjusting to life outside my belly.  She's also taking it like a champ and has even had a few 5 hour stretches between feedings that allow me a solid 4 hour block of sleep.  She's also had some 2 hour stretches between feedings that allow me pretty much no sleep.  But all in all, she eats well, she sleeps well, she poops exceptionally well, and she makes us smile all the time.  I am slightly afraid for Mr. Frisby to go back to work on Monday, but I think everything will be fine.  I still think it's just a little crazy that I actually have a daughter and that that tiny little creature was inside me just a couple weeks ago.  Hooray for babies!  And, now I will shamefully use my blog to photo-brag about said awesome daughter of mine.

Sleeping peacefully after we got home from the hospital.

Daddy loves her!

After a bath

Look at all of her luxurious red hair!  We'll see how long it lasts.

Scout supervising a diaper change.

We love our little Stella!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stella in the Hospital

Another long post.  Skim read if you want.  But, again, I wanted to document the experience.

Usually when babies are born, the pushing process squeezes their lungs and gets out any fluids or mucus that's there from their time in the womb.  Because our little Baby (still not Stella yet) came all in one push, this didn't happen.  As a result, they had to suction out her lungs and really get her crying in the delivery room to try to clear them.  After they had worked with her for a few minutes and bathed and diapered her, she seemed to be doing better.  So, after everything was taken care of in the delivery room, we made it to our postpartum room around 12:30 am Saturday morning.  Mr. Frisby and I talked a little about which name we would choose for her, but decided to sleep on it and decide for sure in the morning.  We spent that first night with Baby in our room, doing our best to help her get a good night's sleep and rest up ourselves.  Sometime around 5 am, the nurse came to get Baby for her newborn hearing screening.  She came back around 6 am without Baby and with the Pediatrician.  The doctor informed us that Baby was still having some trouble breathing and that her stomach was very distended.  She said she didn't think it was anything serious and that it was probably just stuff Baby had swallowed/inhaled during delivery, but they wanted to keep her in the nursery where they could do an x-ray and monitor her to be sure it wasn't anything else.  They said we could go to see her in the nursery whenever we wanted and they would update us after they did some more tests.

We took all of this information in and tried to settle back in for a little more sleep as it was still very early.  However, with Baby gone, this was very difficult for me to do.  A little after 8 am, another pediatrician came to give us an update.  The x-ray had shown a couple of cloudy spots in her lungs, but this is often normal in newborns, so they would just need to repeat the x-ray the next day to see if the spots cleared.  They had also gotten a lot of stuff out of her little tummy and it was looking much better.  However, they wanted to wait 12 hours before trying to feed her anything.  She also said they would be starting her on antibiotics as a precaution a little later and she would need to be on them for at least 24 hours, so the earliest she could go home would be Monday.  I was supposed to be released Sunday morning.  This was a disappointment to us, but we thought Monday, it's just one day, it will be fine. And, all in all, it was good news.  We then discussed our two names again and decided to go with Stella.  After that we decided to head to the nursery to see our little one.  After a long walk to the nursery (because I had to take it very slow), we walked in and saw our poor little Stella all hooked up to the monitors.  So sad!

We couldn't hold her what with all the wires attached to her and they didn't want me to try feeding her yet, so Saturday consisted of several trips to the nursery to just see her.  Saturday night they decided I could try feeding her.  She did well, so then we got to go to the nursery every few hours through the night to feed her.  The next morning, the pediatrician on duty briefly informed us that they had x-rayed Stella again and the spots had cleared up so everything looked good.  That was all she said.  The midwife on duty checked me and said that, although I was doing well, she would see if she could come up with a reason to keep me another day since Stella wouldn't be able to go home that day.

The midwife came back and informed me that, although I wasn't showing any symptoms, I was pretty anemic and for that reason, they would keep me until Monday morning so we could stay with little Stella.  We were very excited about that and the rest of the day was spent with trips to the nursery every few hours to feed the wee one.  One of the benefits of feeding her was that I got to hold her.  Poor Mr. Frisby couldn't.  Her feedings were off and on.  Sometimes she ate well and sometimes she didn't.  After good feedings, they would turn down her IV, slowly weaning her off it.  I was convinced that she wasn't always eating well because of the IV.  I found it very frustrating, because I thought if they just took her off the IV, she would eat better because she would then need the nourishment.  During one of the feedings either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, one of the nurses decided to give us an update.  And, that's when things went downhill.  She was a different nurse that we hadn't worked with before and I don't think she was looking at the most up-to-date info.  She told us that Stella's x-ray looked questionable and they would have to repeat it and that it was going to take a little while to wean her off the IV, so she wouldn't be able to go home until at least Tuesday.  We informed her that they had done another x-ray which the pediatrician told us was normal.  She checked the computer again and then saw the other x-ray.  She then told us the weaning schedule for the IV.  Stella needed to have two good feedings before they would turn it down.  And they had to turn it down several more times before taking her off it.  We took all of this information in and left the nursery disappointed since that particular feeding hadn't gone well.

As we walked back to our room, I voiced my frustrations to Mr. Frisby.  He agreed.  We couldn't understand why Stella was still on antibiotics and an IV when she was supposedly doing well and they hadn't even found anything wrong with her.  We also didn't like that we were getting different info from different nurses and yet the pediatricians weren't giving us any info.  When we got back to our room, Mr. Frisby went down the hall to use the restroom and my nurse came in to give me my medication and take my vitals.  She casually asked how the baby was doing.  I was already very frustrated with the situation and with postpartum blues setting in fast, it was all I could do to keep it together.  I responded that I didn't really know how the baby was doing because everyone was giving us different information but nobody could say what was wrong with her and yet, they kept pushing back her release date.  I don't think my nurse expected to open such a can of worms with her simple question, but as I was on the verge of tears, she could tell I was frustrated.  She made a quick call to the nursery to find out what was going on, but the problem was that she spoke with the nurse who had updated us just a few minutes before.  So, no new information.  Mr. Frisby came back sometime in that time and as the nurse left, I completely broke down.  She must have heard my sobs as she left the room and informed the nursery staff of my frustrations because when we went back in the morning to feed Stella, it was a complete change.  The nurses were all very nice and helpful (they really had been the whole time, they were just more so that morning) and the pediatrician who was very short with us about the x-ray the previous morning was very nice and informed us that Stella was doing well and they would be taking her off the IV and antibiotics that morning since she didn't really see a need for her to be on them.  We were thrilled!  Maybe she would be able to go home that morning after all.  She then informed us that Stella was looking a little yellow, so she needed to check for Jaundice.  If she did have Jaundice, she would have to stay the night under the lights and go home the next morning.  If not, we could take her home that day.  As I had also noticed Stella's yellowness and worried about Jaundice in the back of my mind, I had a sinking feeling that we would be going home without her that day.

When we got back to our room, the midwife checked me and asked what was going on with the baby.  We told her what the pediatrician said and that we had to wait for her blood test to find out if she would be staying or not.  The midwife said that they wouldn't be able to keep me past 6 pm that evening, so if Stella was able to go home, we could leave with her that day.  Otherwise, we would be discharged at 6 pm and would have to leave without the baby while she stayed for her little tanning session.  Later that morning, we got a little surprise.  They had taken Stella off the monitors, IV, and antibiotics, so we were allowed to bring her to our room for her feedings.  It was so exciting to have our little baby with us again and not all attached to machines.  My sister just happened to be visiting us when we got to bring her to our room, so we had her help us take some photos.  Unfortunately, the family photos didn't turn out.  We had the wrong lens on the camera for it and Mr. Frisby blinked, but we got some other good photos.

After our little photo shoot, the lab came to draw her blood.  We got the results a little while later.  Stella had Jaundice.  I balled again when I knew we would have to leave her for the night.  We enjoyed our last little bit of time with her, did one more feeding right around 6 pm (incidentally, Stella started eating much better as soon as she was off the IV - just as I thought), and then we were discharged.  I balled again as we drove away from the hospital.  Mr. Frisby did his best to console me, but it was a very difficult thing leaving without her.  They told us before we left that they would do another blood test in the morning and as long as her bilirubin numbers went down, she could go home as soon as she was checked out by the pediatrician.

We tried to get a good night's rest that night since it would likely be our last.  But, that was easier said than done.  The next morning, we called the nursery.  They said her bilirubin count was down and she looked really good.  She would be able to go home, but she had to be checked out by the pediatrician first.  They said the pediatrician should be done checking in the next half hour, so we could call back then.  When we called back, the pediatrician had been called into a delivery and hadn't finished checking Stella out yet.  So, we had to wait yet a little longer.  When we called back a little while later, they said Stella had been examined and she was all ready to be discharged.  We headed to the hospital, super excited to finally bring our little one home.  When we got there, all of the nurses were so excited for us.  They got all the paperwork ready and got everything taken care of and then they told me I could dress Stella to go home.  All of a sudden, I was very nervous.  I think it took awhile, but I finally got her in her little outfit and we were ready to go.

I was all smiles as we made our way to the car.  And, as was the case throughout our hospital stay, everyone on the way commented on all of Stella's beautiful hair.  We got to the car, strapped her into her car seat, and finally headed home!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Arrival of Miss Stella

Miss Stella is now a week old. It's taken me a while to get to this post with everything that has been going on. But, it's time to document her arrival. So, let's get started.  This is going to be a long post; you can skim read if you want.  But, I wanted to get the experience down in writing so I can remember it.

 I started having some contractions on Wednesday night just after I went to bed. They were stronger than any I had had, but not bad. Still, I couldn't sleep through them, so it made for a long night and I thought I must be going into labor. In the early morning hours, the contractions stopped. False alarm. I went about my day Thursday and that evening around 6 or 7, the contractions started again. Stronger than before, but a little irregular. Around 8 pm, I decided I should start timing them. I thought it might be a repeat of Wednesday, but after several hours, the contractions were still there, as strong as ever and getting stronger and closer together. Sleep was impossible, so I tried to keep myself distracted listening to music, trying to relax, etc. Around 4 am on Friday morning, I woke Mr. Frisby up and told him he needed to get up. I knew it wasn't time to go to the hospital yet, but misery loves company. Around 5, when my contractions were about 8 minutes apart, we called Labor & Delivery. The nurse told me to drink lots of water and take a warm shower to see if it would stop the contractions. She said not to worry about coming in until my contractions were about 4 minutes apart. I drank the water and took the shower. The contractions didn't stop, though it did seem to help me relax. I continued laboring for another few hours with the contractions getting closer. I was getting very anxious for that 4 minute mark as my contractions were lasting 1.5 to 2 minutes each and they didn't completely relax in between. We called L&D again around 8 am when my contractions were about 5 minutes apart. I was getting very anxious - I wanted my epidural. But, they again told us to wait until my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart for about an hour. Around 10:30, I decided to take another shower to try to relax.  It didn't do much this time around. At last, around 11 am, my contractions had been about 4 minutes apart for an hour. We called L&D and they told us to go ahead and come in. We grabbed our bags and loaded Scout and her things in the car. After a quick stop at the neighbors' to drop Scout off, we were headed to the hospital. At this point, I totally had the shakes and the only thing on my mind was the epidural. Also, I was very scared that we would arrive at the hospital, I would only be dilated to a 3 or something like that, and they would send me home.

We arrived at the hospital, got checked in, and got settled in the L&D room by about 12:30. I told Mr. Frisby to go tell the nurses I was ready for an epidural. My nurse came in and said, "so you're ready for an epidural?" and started hooking me up to all the monitors, IV, etc. I said, "yes, please." She went through all of the questions they have to ask you at the beginning. One of them was, "what is your biggest concern/need?" She asked me that question and looked over at me. I looked at her and said, "uhhh." To which she responded, "just the epidural?" "Yep". She informed me that they were waiting for the lab to come draw my blood. As soon as they got the results, they would do the epidural. She then checked me to see my progress and determine if I would be sticking around. The moment of truth. Please, don't let it be a 3. Please, don't let it be a 3. She checked me and said, "well, you're dilated to about a 6. I think we'll keep you." Thank everything!

After what seemed like forever, but was really only an hour, the lab came to draw my blood. As the lady finished, I asked how long it would take to get the results. I was nervous for her answer. I really wanted that epidural. When she responded, "about an hour" with no amount of sympathy in her voice, I felt like all was lost. But, with all the chaos of being in the hospital getting ready to have a baby and the constant interruption of nurses, midwives, and doctors, the hour went by in a bit of a blur and at last the anesthesiologist came walking through the door. I've never been more happy to see a health care provider in my life! I quickly nodded in consent as he went through all the necessary info, side effects, risks, etc. and finally he got to work. Sweet relief! For the first time in almost 24 hours, I was pain-free. The midwife said I should nap after I got the epidural so I would have energy to push later on since I hadn't slept the night before. Easier said than done when I'm hooked up to a blood pressure monitor that goes off every 15 minutes, making my arm feel like it's about to fall off. I did the best I could and dozed on an off for the next couple of hours. Mr. Frisby passed the time by having fun with the camera.

After checking me again and seeing that I was dilated to a 9, the midwife thought I might be ready to start pushing around 5 pm or so.  We told my mom to come around that time.  She came a little after 5, but I wasn't ready to start pushing then, so it worked out.  For the next few hours, we just waited for me to dilate to a 10.  Unfortunately my contractions had slowed a little.  Just after 8 pm, it was go time.  By this time, the nurses and midwives had switched shifts, so I was working with new faces.  My new nurse came in and gave me some info about pushing.  She said the average birth has about an hour of pushing.  She also explained that whenever I had a contraction, I needed to push with it as if I were having a bowel movement.  Noted.  The midwife came in to check on things and said we should turn down my epidural so I could feel the contraction and push with it.  My epidural level was a 10.  She told them to reduce it to a 7.  I thought, "can't we try a 9 or an 8 and see how that goes?"  But, 7 it was.  I could definitely feel the contractions then, so away we went.  Since my contractions had slowed, they started me on Pitocin to get things going a little faster.  It did pick things up, but it still turned out to be a long and laborious process.  At 9:30 pm, I was still pushing.  I was totally exhausted by this point, but her head was visible with each push.  They asked if I wanted a mirror so I could see.  I was hesitant, but I said sure.  They brought the mirror.  I watched for a second and decided I didn't want to watch anymore.  So, they took the mirror away.  The nurse said, "let's see if we can get her out by 10 pm."  I looked at the clock and I really didn't think I had it in me to keep going.  I was completely beat and I was in pain.  Fortunately, at that point, things picked up and got pretty intense as Baby was all of a sudden moving.  There was no more time to think I was done.  Because all of a sudden I had to PUSH!  I knew we were close when the midwife came back in and started putting on all her blood/mess shields, got out the instrument tray, and broke down the bed (I delivered at Kaiser San Jose where most of the babies are delivered by Certified Nurse Midwives).  It made me excited that it would all be over soon. After about 20 minutes and several pushes later, she was crowning.  And, with one more big push, she came out all at once.  Baby was finally here (she wasn't Stella yet).  They immediately put her on my belly and it was love at first sight.  Mr. Frisby cut the cord, I delivered the placenta with one more push and at 9:52 pm it was done.

The whole experience was very intense and somewhat of a blur, but I will never forget the feeling I had when I saw her for the first time.  Even covered in gunk and with a pretty wicked conehead, she was beautiful.  I won't go into any more detail about the whole thing because the rest of the details are pretty gruesome.  But, I will say that I think I was completely unprepared for the pushing part.  I had assumed that it wouldn't be very hard and that it would be pain-free because of the epidural.  Wrong on both accounts.  However, despite the difficulty and the pain, this little babe was totally worth it.  She's the best!  And to prove it, here are a few pics of her first couple of hours in the world:

By the time she was examined, weighed, bathed, and diapered, her conehead was gone and she was ready for a name.  That will have to come later, though.  The story of her arrival is enough for one post.  Next up, little Stella's time in the hospital.