Wednesday, December 18, 2013

1 Month Update

I can't believe Stella is a month old already.  It's so cliché, everyone telling you how time flies, but I must say how true it is.  The days and nights run together for me, and despite all the challenges it really only feels like she's a week, maybe 2, old. 

A few of Stella's favorite things:
  • Focusing on mommy and daddy's faces
  • Finally being comforted by our voices alone
  • Lifting her head during tummy time (she's very strong and can even lift it long enough to go from one side to the other...she can also hold it up while sitting in the chair!!)
  • Cooing and grunting...while awake, while sleeping, while eating...this is one vocal baby!
  • Kicking and grabbing onto things...she's very active
  • Eating, eating, and more eating
  • Sucking on a pacifier when she's not eating...still has that barracuda impulse to nurse 24/7!  This has led us to nickname her "baby cuda"
  • Sneezing
  • Hiccuping
  • Sitting in her bouncy seat and being rocked
  • Laying with daddy on the couch
  • Rocking with mommy in the chair

A few quick updates:

*I made the switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding on Monday.  I ended up with an infection in each breast that hurt so bad it made me wish for the C-section pain back.  My doctor called in some medication for me and I have to go see her next week to make sure it did the trick.  I also have gone back to taking ibuprofen around the clock since I decided to quit nursing.  You can nurse through an infection, but other circumstances led me do decide to make the switch.  I was very disappointed that I had to stop, I really wanted to breastfeed, but I no longer feel guilty.  I was in pain, stressed, and pretty miserable.  I fought all odds to breastfeed for her first month, hopefully boosting her immune system a little bit, but I knew when enough was enough.  The switch has made me healthier mentally and (as soon as the infection clears and my milk dries up) physically.  In the meantime, I'm back to being emotional and in pain.  I made the decision to quit pumping cold turkey, which is more painful, but I didn't want to deal with this infection pain and continue pumping only to have pain all over again when engorgement sets in.  Might as well have all the pain at once!  So, just when I started to get some self esteem back, it's now time to soak through every shirt I own while putting cabbage in my bra to stop the milk production.  Smelling like sour milk and cabbage knocked me back down a peg or two...but I know I'll get there.  My "new normal" is just around the corner.  And in the meantime I have my sister a phone call away and a bottle of ibuprofen on my counter so I'm good!  I have noticed Stella spits up more with the formula and is a little fussier.  She has her 1 month check-up tomorrow so I have a whole other set of questions now, but I'm assuming she's bound to be a little fussier with the switch and will hopefully adjust soon!

*Stella's sleep patterns are still hit and miss.  Last night she fell asleep at 7:00 after a fussy afternoon/evening.  I woke her up at 11:00 to change her diaper (see below) and she fell right back to sleep until 2:00am!!  Then there are nights she's up every 2 hours.  She'll probably sleep longer now being bottle fed since formula stays in their tummies longer.  We shall see!

*We are still adjusting to cloth diapers.  They suit her better than disposable because the disposable stuck to her skin.  She was really red and had a rash, possibly the beginning of a latex allergy.  That has been resolved when we switched to cloth BUT we are having some leaking issues.  We're doing lots of research but she leaks up the back a few times a day.  Stella is a heavy wetter!  We're determined to make them work so hopefully by the next update we'll have it mastered.   That's my only issue with them.  I have no problems with smell, getting them clean, doing the extra laundry...none of that bothers me.  Just gotta fix the leaking issue.

*Stella's umbilical cord fell off during her newborn pictures when she was 2 weeks old.  It didn't bleed or anything.  Part had fallen off earlier in the week and she lost the rest at her photo shoot!

*It has been very cold and snowy during her first month.  We are expected to get another blizzard this weekend.  The cabin fever continues.  I think my next baby will be a Spring one :-)  I'm looking forward to the holidays so we can get out of both our PJs and the house!

The first month has brought many emotions ranging from joy to anger to happiness to frustration...and everything in between.  I'm looking forward to this next month- a New Year and a better routine with less stress in our house! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Mommy Madness: Our First 3 Weeks At Home (Part 2)

The Emotional Roller Coaster
 This post might be a little "Dear Diary"', but I think it's important to be honest with myself about this transition.  I prepared so much for Stella, did so much research, and had everything ready by the time she arrived.  I was so excited to meet her and fell in love with all her little baby things.  But I never really gave much thought to how HARD being a new mom was going to be.  I knew I would be fine, but I should have been a little more honest with myself from the start.

You see, Mark and I have been frustrated (to put it mildly) with everyone's comments to us about becoming parents.  We are both organized, motivated, and have really enjoyed it being "just the 2 of us".  We stay active and have lots of hobbies.  As soon as I got pregnant the comments started rolling in.  "I can't wait until you have kids"  "You're never going to be able to do that when you have kids"  "Your house will never look like that when you have kids"  Is it just me, or is it sad that people think their life is over when they have kids?  It's just the beginning!  We were just amazed at all the negativity.  But with every comment our desire to keep our own lives while being great parents strengthened.  It can be done.  I've seen stay-at-home moms and working moms balance it all.  You just have to decide what's important to you and get the motivation to work for those things.  However, with that being said, what we had to accept was that this "balance" couldn't start the day we came home from the hospital.  We tried, and it only stressed us out.  What we came to realize is that temporarily dedicating all our time to being parents now will set up the routines and structure we need to keep our own lives in the future.  And we're finally OK with that.  Sure, there's going to be people who say it will never end, that we'll always be slaves to our children.  But we know better.

Stella Anne

My biggest challenge has been my own recovery.  I was amazed at how helpless I was when we got home.  I couldn't even go to the bathroom without help.  If I dropped something, I couldn't bend over to pick it up.  I couldn't even climb into my own bed, let alone drive, tend to my house, or go downstairs.  As someone who doesn't like to sit still, this aggravated me to no end.  Once I got a few items that were necessary to my survival (a grabber stick to pick up dropped items, giant underwear that went over my incision, and a low place to sleep...our couch) I started doing better.  As with any recovery, you learn to adapt and do things differently.  The challenging part was trying to take care of a newborn at the same time, and a giant dog who just couldn't adjust.  Kaiser is slowly getting used to having Stella around, but it took longer than Mark and I expected.  He barked and ran around the house when she made any little peep.  He wanted to lick her face.  He insists on checking the bassinet every 5 minutes to make sure she's in there.  Sadly he spent most of the first few weeks outside and in the basement.  A big adjustment from being my only baby, but he still has a great life.  And he's finally sleeping upstairs again (although he heads downstairs on his own when Stella won't stop crying at night!).  We'll get there.

Adjusting to being a big brother.  Always supervising Stella.

I've cried a lot since we've been home.  Almost every day.  I considered asking my doctor for some happy pills, but I really wanted to try working it out on my own first.  Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter, but those baby blues just won't leave me alone.  It's been freezing outside, so we don't leave the house.  I can't even drive until this weekend.  Stella and I both have stuffy noses  (and I've been having almost daily bloody noses) from being trapped inside for so long.  I have cabin fever.  I even dream about going to Wal Mart...that's when you know it's bad!  My life seems to be an endless cycle:  change diaper, breastfeed, rock the baby, repeat.  Oh, and try to fit a shower in there, which takes forever since I still can barely move.  And I'm doing all this on very little, broken up, sleep.  Such is life as a new mom.  I just have to accept it for now.  And it's getting better.  The tasks are becoming second nature, so they don't take as long.  I have more time to myself.  Once and a while Stella will sleep for a 5 hour chunk at night.  Again, we'll get there.

Breastfeeding is a nightmare.  It is so important to me, so I stick with it, but I have been hit with every challenge possible in this department.  Stella being given a bottle and pacifier in the hospital, a C-section, Stella is a barracuda feeder (once she latches on HELLO PAIN!)...and some other challenges I will keep to myself this time :-)  I tried to go to strictly pumping because I was in so much pain, but that was utterly time consuming.  I called my lactation consultant and she advised me to give myself a few days to heal by pumping and try again.  So I did.  When getting a bottle Stella was so gassy...she doesn't burp she slept terribly throughout the night.  I went back to strictly breastfeeding a few days ago and she'd doing better.  She takes in way less air this way.  I'm just trying to stick it out and waiting for my nipples to toughen up.  Good thing I'm bull-headed and read up on the million advantages to breastfeeding, or I'd have quit 2 weeks ago.  BUT...if you can't breastfeed there's no shame in that.  I keep reminding myself of that should I not be able to stick it out.  I'm giving it at least 6 weeks and then we'll see.  I want what's best for Stella, but a bottle given lovingly is better than breastfeeding at your maximum stress/pain level.  Again, time will tell.

I was also hit with some challenges in the cloth diaper department as well.  We chose to use disposable diapers in the hospital and for the first 2 weeks because of convenience, and then with my C-section I couldn't do laundry for a few weeks.  I hated disposables!  They made her bottom so red and literally STUCK to her skin.  When speaking with my cloth diaper consultant, she said it may be the result of a slight latex allergy.  I couldn't wait to get her into her cloth diapers.  We tried to make the switch about a week ago.  I had ordered a few (7) newborn diapers in two different styles, and the rest were supposed to fit from birth through potty training.  Well, they did fit, but were way too bulky.  When she laid down there was an arch in her back from her butt being so high in the air from the diaper.  And one of the newborn styles (which I had 4 of) leaked up her back every time except the first 2 times I used them.  Of course I jumped the gun and ordered more of that style after the first few times worked, so I have to send those back.  The other newborn style (Blueberry Newborn) work great.  I ordered more of those and received them yesterday.  They are washed and ready to use, so now Stella is OFFICIALLY in cloth diapers full time.  They are very gentle on her skin and keep her dry.  I've also been using my all natural diaper cream on her bottom...looking forward to the rash going away!  So we got there, it just took more work with the diapers than I expected.  I'm glad my husband is more patient than me, he really helped me through the diaper frustration period.

Stella's cloth diapers are the cutest!

Despite all the challenges, all the stress, all the frustration, all the sleepless nights...the love I have for Stella is greater.  There's nothing better that when she actually looks at me, the first time she was comforted by my voice alone, and how warm and snuggly she is wrapped in her towel after bath time (even though her first bath was a disaster and we had no idea what we were doing!).  These little moments get me through all the tough times.  I now know how challenging being a mother actually is, and how rewarding as well.  As I forge through the frustrations and actually get into a routine, I'm looking forward to more "playtime" with Stella.  We've started tummy time, and as she's spending more time awake I can't wait to start reading to her, playing dress up (even though Mark hates that...that's what little girls are for, right?), and just interacting more with her.  She's so much fun.

Dress up time with Stella while Daddy hunts.
I also look forward to going back to taking better care of myself.  In the hopes of healing faster, I have tried to do 1 thing each day that I couldn't do the day before.  Baby steps, but every little bit helps.  I have really, really struggled to eat, which sucks because good nutrition and lots of calories are important for breastfeeding.  I haven't had any problem making milk, but I know I haven't been good to my body.  Sometimes we just need to focus on getting through the day.  But now it's time to start cooking and eating healthy again.  I never thought I'd be excited to get groceries!  Mark is taking me to the spa for my Christmas present, so I sure am looking forward to that!  At my 6 week appointment I hope to get the OK from my doctor to start exercising again...this belly isn't so cute when baby's not in there.  And what I wouldn't give to be able to put on a pair of jeans again!!

What a wild ride this parenting thing is!  And it's only just begun.  So go ahead, tell us our lives are over because we've become parents.  It only strengthens our resolve to prove you wrong.  With the proper motivation and energy, you really can have it all!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Mommy Madness: Our First 3 Weeks At Home (Part 1)

What We've Been Up To
The first day at home was even harder than the first night at home.  We went to the hospital first thing in the morning (after a sleepless night with an unhappy baby) to have Stella tested (again) for jaundice.  We had to register her to begin with, there was a huge wait in the lab, she hated getting her foot stuck (again), and then we had to wait for the results.  Luckily we were able to wait in OB, which was empty since they're closing that department.  I could tell her levels were rising, she was beginning to get lethargic and wouldn't wake to eat.  I finally got her awake after an hour in the waiting room and nursed her.  I was so sore, it hurt so bad just to sit and we'd been at the hospital for over 2 hours.  Finally we got the results:  the levels were too high, and her doctor (who we hadn't even met yet) wanted her to go on the blanket.  We opted to pick up the blanket while we were there and get started right away to knock this thing out.  So we waited for them to bring the blanket up.  And waited.  And waited.  After another hour passed Mark went downstairs to get it himself, and came back very livid.  When he went to the equipment department, the lady behind the desk informed him that the lady who had the blanket decided to eat her lunch first and THEN bring it to us.  At this point I started that all too familiar crying again.  Mark got super mad (rightfully so) and went back to hunt her down at lunch and get the blanket himself.  Just when we thought it couldn't get worse, when he went back to the office the lady behind the desk says "oh, it's actually right here."  Mark asked her if she knew how to use it and she said yes!  She had the blanket that entire time!  What a terrible liar/person!  While Mark was taking care of business, I started getting worse.  I was in pain, didn't have my meds with me, and had only eaten a granola bar all morning.  We were going on 4 hours at the hospital.  I started crying, and a nurse gave me some Tylenol, water, and pudding.  She was so nice.  But those baby blues had kicked in, and when my doctor's nurse came in to say hi (who is one of the nicest girls ever) I just lost it.  I started crying hysterically and she just hugged me.  At this point Mark returned and we were able to go home.  The first nurse had informed the supervisor of the bad treatment from the ladies in medical supply and they were all super mad at that department.  From the sounds of it this was the norm for them.  They said we could file a complaint but I just needed to get home.  Once again they had to wheel me out.  So I guess I was "discharged" from the hospital twice.  When we got to the lobby there was a big presentation going on, lots of political people visiting.  And there I am in my wheelchair bawling.  Must have been quite the show!!  I'd like to say it got better when we got home, but no such luck.  I was in so much pain and Mark left to go into work for a few hours and to make a Wal Mart run.  My mom was with me, but I couldn't stop crying.  The blanket sucked too.  I don't know why they call it a blanket, it's more like a large paddle that they expect you to wrap around your 7 pound baby.  I cried about that, and just everything.  I also couldn't eat, my stomach was so messed up, but I had to in order to breastfeed.  Luckily my mom made us some supper.

In her jaundice "blanket"

Sweet girl didn't mind the blanket!
The next afternoon Stella had her first doctor appointment.  It was nice to meet her doctor, we really like him.  She checked out just fine (minus the jaundice).  He let us ask all the questions we wanted (I had quite the list!).  That night was our first night alone, my mom left when we went to the doctor.  By this time my feet had swelled up so bad I couldn't put shoes on.  I called my doctor and she said it was the fluids working their way out of my system, but it still concerned me.  I always worry about blood clots.  She called the next morning to check on me, which really impressed me!  I sure came to like my doctor. After speaking with her (the swelling had only slightly went down so she wanted me to come in Monday) we headed to the hospital for another jaundice check.  This time we didn't wait for the results.  It was Saturday and we got there right as the lab closed, but the lady still did the test and fell in love with Stella.  Stella's doctor called before we even got home with the best news:  her levels were down!!  No more blanket!!  I was so happy we only had to use it for 2 days, I could tell it made a big difference.  Stella was back to waking up every few hours to eat, and her color was so much better.  Jeff & Jenny brought a pizza over that night, it was nice to socialize again.  Sunday my dad came over to help Mark in the shop (they are hooking a heater up out there) and my sister came to help me.  She did some cleaning and laundry and had also made a Wal Mart run for us.  Sure is nice to have family around.  She was also lucky enough to help me shower (Mark got a day off)...I'm sure that was the highlight of her weekend!

Ready for my first doctor appointment!

I'm one week old today!

Monday brought another trip to the doctor, but for me this time.  My swelling was normal and everything else looked to be healing nicely.  I remember telling my doctor that I hurt so bad.  In her normal to-the-point manner she says "well we sliced open your stomach, pinned it back, sliced through 7 layers of muscle, took everything out, got baby, put it all back in, and sewed you back up.  You're going to hurt."  Although I grimaced at the mental picture, that made me feel better.  I was supposed to feel like this, terrible as it was.  After a quick pit stop at Ace, we got milkshakes and went back home.  I was glad this was the only doctor/hospital trip scheduled this week, sure got burnt out on those!  Tuesday was my due date...crazy Stella was 9 days old already!  I spent that day and Wednesday resting, because Thursday was Thanksgiving!!  That was actually a good day.  The sun was out, it wasn't bitter cold, and we had so much to be thankful for.  We spent the morning drinking cappuccino, watching the parade, giving Stella a bath and getting ready.  Lunch was spent with Mark's family, dinner with mine.  It was a great opportunity to introduce Stella to the rest of her family.  She was as good as gold all day...probably because she didn't go long without being held!

We paid for that the next couple days.  She was SO SO fussy Friday and Saturday!  By Sunday she was back in her "routine" if you can even call it that.  My parents came out and brought lunch and supper.  Mark's aunt and cousin also stopped out to meet Stella.

Monday afternoon Stella had her 2 week doctor check-up.  We waited in the waiting room for an hour before we got in.  That was rough, there's nothing worse that bringing a brand new baby into a place full of germs!  I made the next appointment for first thing in the morning to avoid that happening again.  Thankfully her check-up went well.  She weighed 7lb, 8oz at birth; 7lbs at her one week appointment; and 7lb, 12oz at her two week appointment.  She was right on track, which made me feel good about the breastfeeding.  I had lots of questions again, and the doctor took his time answering all of them.  Gotta love that!  He's really laid back, which is good for me because I'm not, so it helps me relax.

We were going to my friends after the appointment to take Stella's newborn pictures, but since we were at the doctor so long she was super hungry and crabby when we got there.  Even though I nursed her, she wouldn't snap out of it.  We're going to try the pictures again next week...but my friend is good, so she captured a few good ones despite Stella's attitude :-)

Stella and I haven't left the house since that day.  It's been 9 days.  We got some snow and temps have been well below freezing, so we are hibernating.  I can't drive yet anyway, and we've been able to get into a better routine, but I am starting to develop cabin fever.  I don't think the next baby will be a winter baby (if we can help it).  Mark went deer hunting last weekend and I was super lonely and bored.  I can drive again this weekend, so I'm hoping to go out (alone) and do some shopping...even if I only make it to Wal Mart!  We also hope to get a Christmas tree Friday, it's supposed to be decently warm that day.

Tomorrow I will finish up this post with Part 2:  The Emotional Roller Coaster I've been on since we've been home...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stella's Birth Story: Part 2

We stayed in the hospital for 4 full days and 4 nights when Stella was born.  We arrived Saturday night around 9:15pm and didn't leave until Wednesday night around 8:45pm.  And I loved every second of it.  My nurses were great, the cafeteria food was wonderful (seriously!), and I only did partial room-in with Stella so I was able to get some rest.  I knew we were in good hands and I was very relaxed despite all the pain.  I couldn't have been happier with my birthing experience, which was somewhat of a surprise since I had planned on delivering at a different hospital. 

I was very excited when I woke up Monday morning.  I had high hopes Stella would be able to come out of her oxygen hood.  They tried a couple of times during the night but her levels always dropped so she had to go back under.  However, she stayed out a little longer each time so I was hopeful today she'd be out for good.  Plus I got to get off most of my machines in the morning!  They took my leg puffers off and catheter out first thing.  A little later the IV came out and I started taking my pain meds orally.  I also had to use a breathing device to make sure I didn't get pneumonia since I wasn't moving around much.  I was glad to be off the machines, but going to the bathroom was tough!  I couldn't bend over and Mark had to pull my pants up for me.  Sure am glad for that "for better or worse" clause!! 

Not long after I was free to move about on my own (even though I didn't want to it was nice to have the option!) Stella accomplished her oxygen goals!  She was breathing on her own!  The baby doctor came down and updated us on her progress.  I was so glad, and they finally brought her down (Mark had been running to the nursery frequently to check on her progress).  I was able to breastfeed her and much to my amazement she latched right on.  What a fighter!  Despite having a bottle the first 24 hours AND a pacifier she was a natural at breastfeeding!  Holding her was the best medicine I could have received.  I was also able to eat, which was good because I was starving!  Much to our relief the hospital food was amazing!  Mine was "free" (included in that hospital bill anyway) and Mark got to eat for about $3 a meal.  Not bad. The cafeteria staff delivered the food and they were so nice.

Monday was a day of visitors.  My sister and her husband came in the morning, and they got the best visit because Stella was awake!  Mark's grandma came next, followed by my parents, followed by Mark's parents, followed by Jeff & Jenny.  It was nice to have company, especially for Mark I think.  Everyone actually got to hold Stella, which was nice since they didn't yesterday.  We enjoyed seeing our family, but by the end of the day I was exhausted.  We decided to do partial room-in...Stella would stay in the nursery and they would bring her to be when she was hungry.  It was a broken night of sleep, but I enjoyed all I could get!

Finally holding my baby girl!
 Tuesday we took the day to rest.  Mark had thought he'd have the opportunity to run home, but I was so helpless from the C-section that it just wasn't possible.  He didn't pack anything, so he ran to Wal Mart to pick up some essentials.  He also helped me shower.  Ok basically he showered me.  It took everything I had to stand up for those 7 minutes, but afterwords I felt like a new person.  I even put my own PJs on!  It was the little things.  We spent the day eating, napping, hanging out with Stella, and watching TV.  My doctor was coming in every morning to check on me and she said I was healing very nicely.  Good to hear, but I didn't feel like any healing was going on.  Stella's hospital doctor came in and told us her jaundice count was going up, but it wasn't high enough to require treatment yet.  They were just still watching it.  By the end of the day I think Mark had pretty bad cabin fever, but I was enjoying our time there.  My favorite part of the day was right before bed when they would bring Stella in to eat after her bath.  She smelled so good and was so adorable swaddled in her blankey.  She was a dream come true.

Just enjoying time with our daughter.
Wednesday brought the last day of our stay.  In the morning Stella's doctor told us her jaundice levels were still rising.  He said we could go home early, but we might have to bring her back for a test in the evening.  Or we could hang around all day and have the test done that night at 6pm.  We opted for that, it was cold out and truth be told I wasn't ready to go home.  I was nervous to take her on our own.  I also looked forward to a relaxing day getting ready to leave.  I was able to shower again...well, Mark showered me again...and we got some rest.  Mark went to Wal Mart to pick up my pain meds while I began filling out discharge paperwork.  They took some pictures of us and Stella for the hospital website and as an option to order later if we wanted.  Stella received her Hep B vaccine and was tested again right at 6:00 to check her jaundice.  We packed up as we waited for the results, which came at 7:00.  They were rising, but not enough for treatment yet.  We would have to go to the Princeton hospital tomorrow to be re-tested.  They helped us load Stella in her car seat, and by 8:45 we were being wheeled downstairs.  I was excited to go home, but so nervous. 

Ready to head home!

Our family.

On the drive home she slept so well I made Mark pull over to make sure she was breathing.  And the paranoia begins.  When we got home my parents were there with Kaiser.  He was excited to see us, but unfortunately we had to keep him downstairs otherwise he'd jump on me...not good for a healing stomach.  The first night at home was awful.  Stella pooped all over right away, I could barely climb in our bed (we've been sleeping on the couch ever since), I was in tons of pain, Stella wouldn't eat and cried hysterically that first night (I woke her up to feed her, like I was supposed to, but it made her mad.  I learned my lesson and haven't done it since.  She gets up on her own when she's hungry.)  Luckily my mom stayed with us the first two nights to help out and so I wouldn't have to be alone.  Somehow we made it through that long first night with only one call to the hospital (because she wouldn't eat).  The next day would prove to be a bigger challenge that that first night.  More on that in my next post, which will be about the past 3 weeks of recovery, challenges, and yes lots of joy too.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stella's Birth Story: Part 1

Our Last Week as a Family of 2
 A week passed by between my last prego update and Stella's grand arrival.  That week was full of anticipation, fear, extremely numb hands, lots of resting and some final nesting.  I got to the point where I couldn't hurt my back and gave me Mark drove me to my 38 week doctor appointment.  Doc couldn't even tell if I was dilating because Stella was sitting so low.  She was also still posterior (facing outwards as opposed to in) so she told me there was a chance of a C-section, but most babies turn prior to delivery.  I read over the C-section chapter in my book but wasn't too concerned about it (in hindsight I should have read a little more!).  Then on Thursday of Week 38 I swore my water broke around 10am.  I called the doctor and she said to go to the hospital to have it checked.  I called Mark, he rushed home, we grabbed the bags and headed out.  I wasn't having contractions, so all I felt was excitement!  Was this it??  We arrived at the hospital and they performed the test...negative.  They also checked (again) for dilation and couldn't tell either.  Man does that test HURT!!  After half an hour of monitoring they sent us home.  I was disappointed, Mark was relieved.  See, he had been working 12 hour days 7 days a week in busy season and still had lots to do before he felt comfortable taking a week off, so this was a wake up call for him.  I guess you could say it was for me too, because I spent the entire next day cleaning and tying up all loose ends.  She could be here any day!!  (Little did we know "any day" would actually be Saturday...the very next day!)

The last weekly picture I got to take!!
It's Time!  (for real this time!)
On the Saturday of Week 38 I wanted to go to Wal Mart.  Ok, not wanted to go as much as needed to go.  However, I just felt really tired and couldn't bring myself to go.  I spent the day lounging on the couch while Mark worked.  It was rainy and crappy out, so he came home early around 2:30.  I popped a lasagna in the oven and we watched TV all afternoon.  Around 7:00 dinner was almost ready and I made a quick trip to the bathroom before we sat down to eat.  I felt something funny but just shrugged it off...already made that mistake of thinking my water broke once...surely I'd be able to tell if it actually did!  Then as I was washing my hands I felt kinda funny, like I was still going pee (again, the modesty is gone, sorry if you think that is gross).  So I sat back down, but didn't have to go.  Weird, but again I figured it was nothing.  Then the contractions started.  They were decently mild in the beginning, but still unmistakable.  We decided to go ahead and have dinner (that lasagna and some garlic bread, which turned out to be a HORRIBLE decision), but I told Mark he better get ready because I think this was it.  We both grabbed a quick shower and by 8:20 I decided to call the hospital.  My contractions were between 7-12 minutes apart, which I knew wasn't close enough, but I was paranoid and ready to go in.  They told me to go ahead and come in, so once again we grabbed our bags, checked over the house, and headed out into the night.

This trip wasn't as enjoyable, my contractions got closer together and they hurt!  We arrived a little after 9:00pm and headed in.  After checking in at registration the nurse put me in a wheelchair.  I insisted I could walk, but she said policy made her push me.  So I just enjoyed the ride.  When we got upstairs they had me change into a gown and pee in a cup.  That is so hard to do when you are the size of a blimp!  When I came out of the bathroom the nurse told me I was walking funny and asked if I was leaking.  I told her I had been for months and was checked on Thursday.  She said they better check to see if my water broke just to be safe.  Once again they performed the test (put a stick inside you and then swirl it in a solution...2 lines if it broke, 1 if it didn't, just like a pregnancy test), only this time it was positive!  The nurse said she was glad they checked, because if my water hadn't broke they would have sent me home!  She told me I wasn't going anywhere now! (sidenote:  these 2 nurses were my favorites throughout our stay, they made me feel so safe and I just can't say enough good about them.  it made all the difference in a time of fear and doubt.)  So then came the dreaded dilation checks, again yielding no knowledge if I was dilated or not.  Stella was low and ready to come out!  Now it was just time to be admitted and play the waiting game.  After lots of paperwork, and IV and a blood draw, they left us to wait.  We watched an episode of Breaking Bad on the Ipad and tried to get some sleep.

All smiles until about midnight!!
Around midnight my pain intensified.  I was squeezing Mark's hand with everything I had at each and every contraction.  It was around this time that I came to regret my dinner.  The pain made me throw up.  And throw up.  And throw up.  I threw up so much I was dry heaving in a few minutes.  This was so out of character for me, I think I've had the flu twice in my entire life.  But I couldn't stop.  Around 1:00 am they finally gave me medicine to stop the puking, and put some pain medicine in my IV as well.  However, the pain medicine only worked for an hour and could only be given every two hours.  For me, it didn't work at all.  Around 3:30 I couldn't take the pain anymore.  The nurse asked if I was ready for my epidural and was I ever!!  The anesthesiologist came in quickly.  They had to switch out my bed because the one I had didn't break down for labor.  It hurt to stand.  My favorite nurse said if you sway back and forth it helps the pain, so she held onto me and I swayed.  I'm sure it looked like we were dancing, but at that point I couldn't care less what I looked like...anything to stop the pain!  They couldn't believe how well I took the epidural, I didn't so much as flinch.  It's because all I kept thinking was "the pain is going to stop!!"  And it did.  For about an hour.  During this time I could actually think straight, so Mark was able to call my mom and tell her I was in labor.  We also asked her and my dad to go get Kaiser (our dog) and take him to her house.  We are so grateful they did this, it was one big concern off my mind.  Mark also texted the nursing student who was going to observe my birth (lucky her!!)  Around 5am I felt so much pressure in my uterus I thought I was going to blow up.  Unfortunately the epidural doesn't help that.  I kept telling them my catheter hurt.  They inserted and re-inserted it 6 times trying to get it right.  That was extremely painful.  Once it was in right and still hurt, I figured out it was just pressure from Stella being in the birth canal.  After several more dilation checks (which didn't hurt anymore compared to everything else) it was determined I was at a 7.  I went from 0-7 in a few hours and stayed there.  And stayed there.  I was begging them to let me push, but it wasn't time.  After a few years (or so it seemed) my doctor came in at 7:00am.  I wanted to jump up and hug her.  She'd been there since 3:00am, but was letting me try to get to a 10 on my own.  She checked me and told me it was time.  For a C-section.  Damn.  At this point even that seemed to be good news, I just wanted Stella OUT!  I remember crying as she explained I wasn't dilating anymore, Stella never turned from her posterior position, and she'd been in there too long so it was time to get her out.  My tears were a mixture of pain and joy.  Everything moved fast after that.

They immediately wheeled me down the hall to the surgery room.  Much to my dismay, it was shift change for the nurses.  My 2 friends were leaving.  In my emotional state, this was devastating.  I remember crying when they said they were leaving, asking if they were coming back.  I was like a little kid being abandoned.  One said she would be back the next day (and turns out she called Sunday afternoon to check on me before she came in) and the other wouldn't be back during my stay (but she came all the way in 2 days later just to see me and Stella.  again, can't say enough good about them.  they were like my angels).  Adding more fear to this, Mark couldn't come with for the surgery prep.  He was washing up and changing into scrubs.  I felt really scared.  I couldn't stop shaking from the pain.  The prep took about an hour.  The anesthesiologist came back.  When administering the epidural he seemed cold and distant, but he proved to be so soothing and helpful during the surgery.  It didn't take long for the drugs to kick in.  Although I was awake, I felt like it was a dream.  There were about 200 nurses and doctors (OK, only about 10, but they were everywhere!) getting me ready, organizing tools, and talking amongst themselves.  After about 3 years Mark was allowed in.  The curtain was hung and they began cutting.  It didn't hurt, but I felt pressure.  And I knew what they were doing.  Cutting through 7 layers of muscle...yuck.  I was saying "oww", but Mark told me suddenly I just started silently mouthing it and didn't make a sound.  I remember him telling me it's OK to say something or be in pain, but I just wanted it to quietly be over.  And then I heard her cry.  My life as I knew it changed in that second.  I remember tears running down my face, only this time they were only tears of joy.  I looked up at Mark and he had tears in his eyes too.  He went to cut the cord (something he swore he wouldn't do), and saw me cut open in the process.  I couldn't handle this, but it didn't phase him.  He even asked if I wanted a picture of it!  Heck no, I didn't want to see that!  When he was tending to Stella, the anesthesiologist kicked in as my caregiver.  Since I was still pretty freaked out, he took over Mark's job and held my hand.  He told me he had 5 daughters.  He must be a great dad because he sure helped me feel better until Mark returned.  As they stitched me up I drifted off to sleep.  Or passed out from the drugs, I'm not sure.  All I know is that at 8:27am, on November 17th, 2013, Stella Anne Bomleny joined our family.  She weighed 7lbs, 8oz and was 19 inches long.  After she was cleaned up and evaluated (Apgar score was 8!) they brought her over to me.  I had never seen such cuteness.

I was frustrated because I couldn't hold her.  My entire body was numb.  They placed her on my chest and held her there for me so we could get a picture.  And then they took her for more testing. 

After the surgery was finished I was taken back to my room.  I was groggy and on so much medication that the few hours after surgery are a blur.  I had an IV, epidural, catheter, weird puffy things on my legs to prevent blood clots that puffed up at certain time intervals and made me sweat like crazy, oxygen in my nose, (I had to have a mask throughout my 12 hours of labor...that sucked because it also made my face sweat.  Contrary to what it should have been doing, it made me feel like I was suffocating and couldn't breathe.  I kept taking it off.) and a black and blue arm from having so much blood drawn.  And I couldn't have been happier.  I was a mommy.

In my groggy state I remember the nurses telling me I couldn't hold Stella or have her in my room.  She was having trouble breathing.  They assured me this is common in C-section babies.  Removing them so suddenly without the process of pushing them out puts their body in shock.  She wasn't quite ready for the world on her own.  They had to put her under an oxygen hood to keep her breathing on her own.  Her blood sugar levels were also low, so she had formula the first 24 hours.  This was upsetting because I figured there's no way I'd be able to breastfeed now.  Adding to my dismay she had a pacifier because she kept trying to nurse her oxygen hood!  I hated not being able to see her, but since I couldn't even sit up yet and they assured me she'd be fine, I took the day to rest.  My mom, dad, sister and nephew came to visit us first.  I knew it was raining out, but after I got back to my room I found out there had been devastating tornadoes around Peoria.  My sister had even driven through terrible weather to come visit.  Stella was certainly born on a day where the weather would go down in history.  They could look at Stella through the nursery window, but that was all.  Mark's parents came to visit later in the day. 

One of the only things I remember from that afternoon was being so thirsty, but I wasn't allowed to drink, only munch ice chips.  That was torture.  When I handled them OK, they let me have some water.  After our parents had left, Mark made a run to Wal Mart.  He also wanted to announce Stella's arrival on Facebook.  We wanted to be the ones to announce it, and unfortunately some people don't think twice about sharing someone else's news.  So we only told our parents until he posted a picture from a hotel computer.  While he was gone I was allowed to order broth and jello.  When Mark returned the nurse had promised me she would wheel me down to the nursery to see Stella.  I hadn't really seen her except for a few seconds after birth.  I was so excited!  However, getting out of bed proved to be quite hard.  I couldn't even sit up on my own.  They had this "binder" (basically a stomach cast) around my waist.  It felt so weird when the nurse helped me up (it was one of my original nurses again!!).  I couldn't stand.  I was so swollen and my feet wouldn't work.  I was horrified at all the blood I lost when I stood up.  I was sweating like crazy, but couldn't have been happier. 

Seeing Stella was good for my soul.  She was wide awake and very alert!  She held Mark and my fingers and just stared at us.  I think she knew us right away.  She was precious, tiny, and a true miracle.  I cried (again, good thing I was getting fluids because otherwise I'm sure I would have been dehydrated from all those dang tears).  We just sat there for the longest time, and were able to capture some great pictures.

These are my favorite pictures from Stella's birthday.  You always see the picture of the happy family, baby girl in her headband ready to go home.  But to me that doesn't explain the reality of birth.  It's emotional, it's painful, it's exhausting, and it doesn't go like you imagined.  I couldn't even hold my daughter, couldn't breastfeed her.  But it was the best day of my life.  She was here.  She was beautiful.  And she was going to be just fine. 

It was hard to leave the nursery, but I needed to rest and wash up.  They got me a bowl of water and a washcloth, and Mark cleaned me up as best as he could from my wheelchair.  I don't know how people do it without such a loving husband.  Granted, I could do it, but it was so much easier with him by my side.  I went to sleep that night very content.  I still didn't sleep well, the nurses were in every hour with medicine and to check all my machines.  Of course I asked about Stella each time.  She was doing good, but still under the hood.  They hoped to take her out in the morning.  I couldn't wait for morning!!

***Stay tuned for Part 2.  I'll finish the details of our hospital stay in that post!!