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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Emerson: The Hospital Story

Alright, so this post will be about the rest of our hospital stay - our hospital stay post labor.  Last time it wasn't that eventful and I didn't have enough thoughts on it to devote a whole post.  This time I do!

So, first off, I remember that at some point when we were still in the labor room someone told us that Emerson had, had what's called a pneumothorax and that, that had something to do with why he wasn't breathing when he came out.  I didn't really know what that was and it's still a little fuzzy to me, but basically, his lung collapsed.  The whole time he was at the hospital I kept asking questions, trying to figure out why it had happened because usually it happens because either the baby's lungs are still immature because they were born early or because the baby has an infection.  He obviously wasn't early and after doing some tests, determined that he did not have an infection.  One nurse suggested that maybe because he was late the placenta had begun to deteriorate and that, that had affected the lungs or something.  Another suggested that his trouble with breathing when he first came out was caused by something else and that the pneumothorax was caused by them doing chest compressions on him (or by them using a ventilator, I can't remember which one she said), but when she checked the notes it didn't look like they'd done that.  Anyway, who knows?  Apparently, sometimes it just happens.  We'll never know.

Back to the timeline.  So, another thing that happened when we were still in the labor room is that I started asking everyone for food.  I am a food person.  Last time, one of my fondest memories is of getting to order whatever I wanted off the menu, whenever I wanted.  I ordered a steak right after labor and a bunch of other stuff and ate it all.  I was hoping to have the experience repeated this time, but it was not to be.  I did not end up getting any food for like 3 hours (and I was STARVING!).  At Salt Lake Regional you can order food anytime, but at the U they have set mealtimes.  I'm assuming that's because it's a much bigger hospital.

Both labors I was amazed at how busy I was while in the hospital!  Like, more busy than almost any other time in my life.  Between breastfeeding every 2 hours (or, in my case, pumping since he was in the NICU), filling out paperwork, nurse's checks, aid's checks, midwife's checks, pediatrician visits, pharmacist visits, visits with other random people (like the social worker, etc.), visiting the NICU, visits from Harper, updating family and friends, going to the bathroom (a labor in and of itself!), trying to find time to eat and trying to find time to sleep, it's always busy.  I found myself needing to schedule every moment.

And in the 3 days I was in the hospital (1 during labor and 2 after), I barely got to see either Harper or Emerson.  I remember feeling guilty that she was without her mother for so long and guilty that poor Emerson was having such a harsh introduction to the world with immediately having people work on him as soon as he was born and then spending the rest of his hospital stay on a warming table, by himself, in the NICU, mostly without his mom or dad.  It was really strange to be in the hospital room by myself most of the time (aside from the hospital staff), since Tom went home to Harper a few hours after Emerson's birth and Emerson was in the NICU.  It was also strange to know that I'd had a baby, but to not have him with me.  It was almost like a dream that he existed.  I'd love to talk to other women whose babies unexpectedly went straight to the NICU and hear what they thought and felt.  Tom was sad about barely seeing him too.  I didn't see him very often and Tom saw him even less.  For me it was hard to visit him not only because of my limited time, but because just getting to the NICU was painful and tiring, not to mention sitting in a chair and holding him.  By the time I left the NICU after each visit I was always exhausted and sore.

At first, Emerson was hooked up to a CPAP machine (I think it puts pressure on the lungs?), a canula (tube that goes in their nose to provide oxygen) and an IV (for feeding).  He was taken off the CPAP machine after a day and a half, the canula after maybe two and a half and the IV right at the end, the morning that he got discharged.  Because of all this, and labor, he looked pretty beat up and it was hard to hold him.  I wasn't allowed to try to breastfeed him til the CPAP machine was disconnected.  Because of this, he had a bit of a rough start with breastfeeding.  It wasn't until a couple weeks after he was born that he really started to do it regularly.  And even then, it was a struggle.  Until then, I only got him to really latch and eat a handful (or less) of times.  It was really exhausting, because I'd have to spend a lot of time pumping so that I could get enough milk for them to put in his IV, and then on top of that, I'd have to try to get him to breastfeed.  All of that every two hours, day and night.  And all while trying to recover, myself.  Both activities required me to be at least semi-upright, which was painful.

Anyway, the real fun began when, after 2 days post-partum, I was discharge and Emerson was not.  It was kind of ironic, because the only reason he couldn't be discharged, at that point, was because he wasn't feeding 100% without the IV (aka, he hadn't gotten breastfeeding down).  But, I was being discharged, which meant I couldn't be there with him to try to get him to breastfeed every two hours.  Kind of a catch 22.  I knew he'd be much better off at home, since he was a champ at taking a bottle at least and since that was the only way for me to really get him breastfeeding regularly.  So, I told them to please please just give him a bottle if I wasn't there, so that he could be taken off the IV and sent home.  Also, because I was recovering and couldn't really hang around the hospital to feed him all day, my nurse acquired this old exam room for me to use as my room for the night.  The U has these rooms called twilight rooms that are for NICU moms to stay in, that are these mini, very basic rooms.  But, there's a high demand for them and they were all taken.  This exam room was going to be turned into one, but hadn't been yet.  It was kind of like a mini dorm room and it was a godsend.  I kind of felt like Mary, begging for a room at an Inn for she and her baby and being grateful to end up in a stable.

The night that I stayed in the exam room went like this.  I was discharged mid-day.  I pumped and said goodbye to Emerson, then Tom drove me home.  I stayed, to be with Harper, until she went to bed.  Then, I drove (by myself, which you aren't supposed to do right after giving birth and which a nurse scolded me for) through a huge storm (and kept hydroplaning) to get back to the hospital (it's 45 minutes away).  I set my stuff up in my room, pumped, then went to see Emerson.  In the NICU, there are 2 babies to a room (the other baby in Emerson's was a suuuuper preemie born at 27 weeks and teeny-tiny) and one nurse.  Because the nurses only had 2 babies to watch, I found that they were usually pretty anxious to chat and I got to know them pretty well.  Anyway, after the visit I gave her my cell number and told her to call me when he was ready to eat again.  I made my way back to my room, got ready for bed, pumped again, dropped the milk off at the nurse's station.  All of that would take me like an hour and a half.  Then, I'd sleep for like an hour because my phone would ring and I'd have to wake up real quick and head over to the NICU again to start it all over again.  It was a rough night.

In the morning I tried to make it over there at the same time that the attending was doing her rounds so that I could try to convince her to let him go home.  When I got there, no one knew where she was or if he was being sent home or not.  I notice that his IV (which had been in his head) wasn't there anymore though.  When I finally found the attending, she gave me the good news that he could be discharged!

The rest of the morning was filled with trying to find someone to take Harp so that Tom could meet me at the hospital and help with the discharging and going through the list of things that needed to be done before he could leave.  Things like doing his hearing screening, checking to make sure his oxygen levels stayed stable while he was in his carseat, watching mandatory parenting videos, getting paperwork signed, etc.  We were lucky to have some friends volunteer to watch her while they went to Stake Conference (biannual church meeting) and after a few hours, we finally got to take him home!  We left the car that I'd driven up in Salt Lake for a few days so that we could all drive home together, as a family.  It was so nice to finally go home!

And that concludes the hospital stay!  Next up, the recovery / the rest of June, which will probably be combined into one post.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Emerson: The Birth Story

Writing this down seems really daunting to me, because it was so intense and I have so many feelings about it.  That said, I'll do my best.  I'm sure it's going to be long, so be forewarned.

So, the night of Tuesday, June 2nd, I had a couple of gift cards to use - one at Babies 'r Us and one at Target.  I was in the mood to get out by myself and get something for the baby, so I did.  I spent the whole evening wandering around those 2 stores deciding on the perfect items to get for the new baby.  On the one hand, it was SO exhausting.  I remember being at Babies 'r Us (my first stop) and just dying for a place to sit down.  I seriously considered finding a spot where no one else was and sitting on the floor.  Yeah, I was pretty done with being pregnant.  I also remember thinking that the previous Tuesday both Tom's dad and I had this thought that it was going to be Tuesday and I thought, "maybe we got it wrong and it was THIS Tuesday."  This could be revisionist history, but I think I kind of had a feeling something was going to happen that night, without consciously knowing it, if that makes any sense.  Anyway, as you might have guessed, that was my last night pregnant and I think it was kind of fitting that I spent it getting something special for the baby.

After my shopping trip, I came home and went to bed.  Around 3:30am I woke up and felt like my underwear was wet.  I don't remember if I actually felt liquid come out or if I just noticed the wetness.  It was early, so what can I say?  I decided to get up and go pee, and see if anything else came out.  I remember that after I was done peeing more liquid kept coming out without my control.  I started being more and more sure that my water had broken.  But, it was still really surreal and my brain had a hard time really accepting it on some level.  I got up to put a pad in my underwear and it just kept coming out in little squirts.  By this time I was pretty positive my water had broken, and I decided to try to go back to sleep if I could, since I figured I wasn't going to have the chance to sleep for a while.  It didn't work of course.  I just laid there trying to get my brain to stop thinking about it.  Finally, around 5am I decided to get up and start getting ready.  The first thing I did was shower.  I tried not to wake up Tom, but he had set his alarm unusually early that day, so in the middle of my shower he opened the door and said, "What's going on?" with this tone that said, "I know something labor-ish is happening."  I told him and said he should try to go back to sleep until 7.  He tried and failed as well.  The rest of the morning was spent getting ready for the day (eating, getting dressed, getting Harper ready for the day, etc.), calling the midwife who was on call, finishing packing bags (mine and Harper's), contacting our babysitter, etc.

The midwife told me that, if labor didn't start on its own, they would induce me 24 hours after my water broke and that until then I was free to either come into the hospital or stay home.  I decided not to go to the hospital and just keep getting things ready unless labor started.  Around 7:45am, the 3 of us went to Walmart to get some last minute things, including castor oil, since I really hoped to avoid Pitocin (drug used for induction) and castor oil can sometimes induce labor (and give you diarrhea).

I took the castor oil around 9:15 and tried to take a nap.  The midwife called around 10:15, which made me too awake to try to sleep any more.  She thought I should go into the Daybreak clinic and have them make sure my water broke and do a non-stress test and an Amniotic Fluid Index (basically, make sure baby was ok).  So, I got up and did some more picking up around the house (it was spotless by the time we left).  Around 10:30 I started having diarrhea and feeling nauseous.  I continued to have diarrhea most of the day.  Fun.  At that point I just sat around in bed until lunch (stopped feeling nauseous around then).  After lunch I used a breast pump (which is also supposed to be a labor inducer).  Then, around 12:30 I started to have really mild contractions that just felt like mild period cramps.  It was hard for me to time them, but I think they were about 5 minutes apart.  I tried to take a nap again, but Harper woke up from hers before I fell asleep.

Around 2pm I decided it would be a good idea to head to the hospital, for a few reasons.  My contractions were a little stronger and closer together (though still not difficult to manage) and I knew it would take us a little while because we'd have to drop Harper off at the babysitter's (my friend Jill and her hubby Dave) once we got to Salt Lake and it takes 45 minutes to get to the hospital anyway.  Plus, I didn't want to hit rush hour.  I felt like, while I probably would be fine waiting, it was better to be safe than sorry.  So, I cancelled my clinic appointment and we threw our stuff in the car and headed to Salt Lake around 3pm.  We dropped Harper off at Jill and Dave's house, which she was super excited about, then drove to the hospital.

When we got there, they took us to a triage room, where they made sure my water had broken.   I was positive it had at this point though, because it had been heavily leaking ALL day.  Pretty annoying, really.  Also, around the time we got to the hospital, my contractions stopped.  Boo.  While we were in that room we took this last pregnancy picture:

After that, they took us to a labor room.  I wanted one with a tub though, and all the tub rooms were taken at that time.  There was one that was going to be available soon though, so that room was also temporary.  While we were in that room they did some monitoring of the baby and checked vitals and all that, then pretty much let us do what we wanted.  We decided to walk around the labor ward.  Man, hospital walking is boring though.  It all looks the same and the labor ward isn't that big anyway.  We also walked around the delivery area and tried to catch a glimpse of a baby, but were not successful.  At one point, while we were walking around the labor ward, a new mom (in wheelchair) and dad came out of a room in front of us, on their way to the delivery area.  The young dad had this huge, cheesy grin on his face and kept turning around and looking at us.  Finally, he turned around and, in the happiest way you can imagine said, "it's all worth it!  It's all worth it!" Haha.  It was so cute.  Clearly they had a way different labor experience though!  Tom would NOT have been saying that right after ours!  While in the first room we also had dinner (Rumbi chicken salad).  Bless the U of U for allowing laboring women to eat!!!

Around 11pm we got moved into what I think was probably that couple's room, which had the tub. Once we got settled in we decided to try to sleep as much as possible before 3:30am when they would induce me if I wasn't already in active labor.  I was REALLY dreading being induced.  I was induced with Harper as well, because I had pre-eclampsia.  The thing about being induced with Pitocin is that it makes your contractions more frequent and more painful.  Now, I don't exactly have a non-induced labor to compare it to, but I can testify that that's absolutely true!  Anyway, getting ahead of myself here.  So, Tom and I slept until around 3:30am, aside from the hourly (?) nurse checks.

At 3:30am the on-call midwife came in to talk to me about induction.  When I'd talked to her about it the night before she'd made it sound like there were several options for how to start the induction.  I was thinking she'd probably offer Cytotec and Pitocin, but also maybe membrane stripping or something, based on how she put it.  When it came to it, though, it was just a choice between Cytotec and Pitocin.  I already knew what both were and what they are supposed to do, from Harper's labor.  With hers I started on Cytotec (which is primarily for ripening the cervix, otherwise known as effacement, and then sometimes the labor will continue on it's own, without Pitocin), then was given Pitocin once the 3 rounds of Cytotec (the max you can have) were through.  We decided to have them check me to see how dilated and effaced I was, since there would be no point in taking Cytotec if I were already all the way or nearly all the way effaced (effacement largely happens before dilation).  They hadn't checked me before then because the more they check you, the higher your risk for infection and my risk was already higher due to my water breaking.  It turned out I was fully effaced and dilated to a 4.  To me, that was good news because with Harper I wasn't even at a 1 when I was admitted and only at a 2 when I started Pitocin.  It took me a LONG time just to get to a 4 last time.

Also, I'm going to jump in here and explain where I was at with natural labor at this point.  So, with Harper I did a lot of preparation in hopes of having a natural labor.  It can be (and was) REALLY hard to go natural (meaning, no epidural) when you're induced with Pitocin, but I tried to do it anyway, last time.  I made it 21 hours and was still only dilated to a 5, so I finally gave in and got an epidural.  I don't AT ALL regret that choice, but I was really hoping to be able to go natural for this second labor.  I was told SO many times how much easier the 2nd labor usually is.  Plus, I felt like chances were small that I'd have to be induced again.  After all, I hadn't had any signs of pre-eclampsia or anything else that would require induction, until my water broke with no onset of labor. I was kind of banking on not being induced again, so I hadn't really much considered what I would do if I WAS induced.  Would I just throw in the towel?  Would I try again?  So, when I was faced with being induced again I wasn't sure where I really stood.  The previous labor was also really messing with my head.  I decided that since I was already farther than when I started last time and since I had a tub this time, I should at least give it a good try.  But, I decided that if things progressed really slowly, like last time, I wouldn't struggle for so long before just getting the epidural.  Ok, back to the story.

So, around 5am they started the Pitocin drip and my contractions started again.  Before long they were strong and close together, but still manageable. I learned a lot from Harper's labor and feel like I'm pretty good at handling the pre-transition contractions.  These contractions are still really difficult to handle, but with really focused, calm breathing and a focal point I can take them.  At first I just laid in bed.  When they were first started I mostly slept through them.  I was so tired.  When they got stronger I got out of bed and sat on the birth ball and leaned over the bed (same as last time).  When they got a little stronger I hopped in the tub.

For a while, the tub was fabulous.  Unfortunately though, the nurse had put my IV port (what's that called again?) in my hand, somewhere close to my wrist, which made it so that I couldn't put weight on that hand because I couldn't bend the wrist.  Really really dumb placement.  In labor it's REALLY helpful to be able to put weight on both hands!  This really became a problem when I was in the bath.  Eventually I started freaking out because the contractions were getting stronger, the bath was no longer helping, I couldn't get into a good position because of my IV.  To make things worse, I decided to be checked again because I was at the point where it was getting really hard and if I wasn't making reasonable progress I wanted to just get the epidural.  Unfortunately, the nurse who had checked me before was tied up.  I also wanted the midwife to come to help me talk through the decision, but she was with another laboring woman.  Both were tied up and took a really long time to come and in the meantime I was freaking out and poor Tom couldn't really help.

Finally, they came.  The nurse helped me out of the bath and onto the bed where she checked me.  I was at a 6.  This kind of sucked because if I'd been a 7 I would have felt pretty good about my progress and confidently continued.  If I'd been a 5 I would have pretty confidently gotten an epidural.  But at a 6?  I was conflicted.  I decided to continue but to have them check me again in like a half an hour.  If I hadn't made it to a 7 by then I'd get an epidural.  I also had the nurse re-place my IV.  Around that time I started being able to handle the contractions a little better.  I think it was a combination of getting out of the tub, having the IV replaced and moving positions.  Plus, I think the contractions may have died down a bit because I think I told them not to increase the Pitocin.

Anyway, because of that I kept putting off the next check.  I didn't want them to check me and not have progress and I felt like I was ok, so I could handle more.  Then, they started turning the Pitocin up again, so of course the contractions got crazy hard again.  I say crazy hard, and they were, but even though I felt like I could barely handle them at that point, they were to get so much worse!  Ah!
When they got harder again I started freaking out again.  I kept referring to my previous labor and the midwife kept trying to tell me not to focus on that one because this was a different one and my second one, which should make it easier.  But, it was really frustrating when she did that because I really needed to express my fears and she was basically trying to block me from doing so.  And, I mean, how can you NOT compare with your previous labor?  It's all you have to draw from!  Plus, up to this point there were just too many similarities that were freaking me out and I needed to address that.  Anyway, this was just the beginning of this midwife driving me nuts.  She really had an abrasive personality and wasn't good at letting me lead the way.  Plus, you know how some people tell you what you want to hear, thinking it will help you in the long run?  That's the kind of person she was, and that does NOT work for me.  As soon as you do it once and I know you're not 100% truthful with me I don't trust anything else you say.  So, the whole rest of the labor she told me OVER and OVER how I was SO close and it was almost over and it really had the opposite effect from the one she wanted it to have.

So, for a while, I suffered through these really intense contractions and intermittently...bickered with the midwife.  I mean, she drove me nuts, but maybe I needed a midwife like her or else I would have caved and gotten the epidural?  I say that because at this point I was really really ready to be checked again and pretty ready to just get the epidural.  Somehow it took longer than I wanted to get check again and I vaguely remember that it had something to do with the midwife being resistant to it and that I was frustrated, but I can't remember the details.  I also remember that before I got checked again I started feeling nauseous during contractions and I knew that was a sign of transition.

Anyway, finally she checked me again and I was dilated to an 8.  Part of me was excited because I'd never made it than far without the epidural.  Last time they checked me and told me I was at a 6 one time, then told me I was at a 5 the next time they checked (backwards!), so I didn't feel that way when they told me I was at a 6 this time.  Does that make sense?  Plus, I knew that an 8 meant I was officially in transition.  And thank goodness, because the contractions were getting SO HARD!  I wish there was a better, more accurate description of them, because that does NOT convey what I was experiencing at all.  At this point, I kind of felt like the epidural was no longer an option.  I'm not sure if that was actually true, but that's how I felt.  At the same time, I wanted one more than ever.

From this point on, things were on a whole other level.  The laboring up to this point was very hard and at some points quite difficult for me to withstand.  But at this point it was somehow at least 3 times harder.  Each contraction was just so violent.  Violent is the best word I can think of to explain it.  It was like something violent was happening to my body that I had no ability to control but that wouldn't stop.  Earlier labor contractions kind of feel like a charlie horse in your abdomen.  This was so much more than that.  Until this point, I was a pretty quiet laborer.  I just breathed a lot and probably loudly.  Once I was in transition though, I could not stop myself from screaming and yelling like crazy.  I remember the midwife telling me to try to make the yells lower pitched, because that's supposed to help, but even that was hard.  I just wanted to scream and it took too much extra concentration and effort to lower them.  I also felt like the contractions were nearly not stop at this point.  And I was definitely freaking out.  I really felt like I couldn't do it.  It's a horrible feeling to feel like you can't do something but that you have to somehow do it at the same time.

I remember sobbing and saying over and over, "guys, I can't do this!  I really can't do this!" in some vain hope that one of them would offer some solution.  Like, somehow one of them would say, "oooooh, you can't?  Well, in that case, I guess you don't have to.  Alright, let's go ahead and stop these contractions."  I really feel like labor is the closest you can get to understanding the atonement, as a human being.  I think of Mark 14:35-36 where the Lord is at Gethsemane and is experiencing the Atonement and it says, "And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.  And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." I mean, I feel like with  my own more limited ability to handle pain I was saying the same thing to everyone in the room.  By the way, that includes Tom, the midwife, the midwife's student and the nurse.  And just like with Jesus in Gethsemane, the "cup" could not be taken from me.  I had to just endure it somehow.

I remember getting in several different positions and that all of them seemed unbearable. I also remember that most of this time Tom was holding my hand and the midwife and student were both trying to press on pressure points on my back and that sometimes they wouldn't stop what they were doing or change it, ever so slightly, in the middle of a contraction and I would get so mad!  I mean, I'm sure they were all dying after doing this for so long, but having that change in the middle of a contraction would make something that already seemed unbearable that much worse.  When that would happen I would try to yell out and tell them to go back to what they were doing, but all I could get out was a nearly unintelligible, "stop!" or, "no!" and not only would they just say, "what?" (as if I could easily repeat the effort), but even if they understood the word they still wouldn't understand what I meant.  There wasn't enough time in-between contractions to explain either, as they were nearly non-stop.  And I was so exhausted than I had a hard time summoning the effort needed between contractions.  It was torture.  And all the while, the midwife just kept saying, "you're so close!"  Oh, and did I mention that Emerson was turned funny, so I was having back labor?  Yeah, Pitocin plus back labor.  Lovely.

So, as best I can figure, this transition period lasted for about 2 hours.  Probably from about noon until 2pm.  Finally, I started feeling a vague urge to push.  Everyone I've ever talked to about this has told me that they felt an undeniable urge to push.  They always say, "oh, you'll know when it's time!"  Somehow, thats really not how I felt.  I actually did need confirmation that I was ready to push.  I think that actually made it harder too.  Here's the thing, pushing is tiring and really really painful.  If you can help it (and apparently most women can't, as I just explained) you don't want to do it.  That's how it was for me.  Even when I was in the thick of the pushing phase, I could very easily not push.  This made it harder because then I wasn't being forced to do something that was extremely painful, like I had been with all the contractions, I had to consciously choose to push even though it hurt REALLY bad.  It's like having someone cut you with a knife versus cutting yourself with a knife...over and over.  Probably just as painful too.  The only thing that got me through it was that I knew it wouldn't end unless I pushed.  Such a mental battle!  

Once again, no position seemed right.  I tried laying on my side, squatting while holding onto a bar and leaning back against Tom.  It was also hard for me to figure out when to push and how hard and for how long and all of that.  I was constantly doubting whether I was doing it right.  And again, it seemed like it was taking SO long and I wasn't making progress even though the midwife was constantly barraging me with, "you're so close!  You're almost there!"  I even had a mirror down there so that I could see my progress and I swear they kept saying, "his head's right there!" and I'd look and could never see it until the last contraction or two.  This happened OVER and OVER before then.  It was driving me crazy.  Everyone also kept trying to motivate me by telling me about how I'd get a baby in the end and how great a prize that was.  Let me tell you, in the middle of all that pain and exhaustion, there was no spare brain cell left to concentrate on such an abstract (at the time) thing as a baby I'd never even met.  I finally yelled, "stop telling me that!  I don't CARE!!!"  Haha.  Yeah.  I was that DONE.  Another thing driving me crazy was that whoever was holding the mirror (the nurse?) had a really hard time placing it in the right spot so that I could actually see anything.  I spent so much energy trying to tell her to move it one way or another and yet it was almost never in a good spot.  Such a little thing, but it was so important at the time!

Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was only about 30 min, I could see the top of his head.  I remember Tom and I both feeling like the pushing took longer than with Harper, though in reality I pushed for 1.5 hours with her and only 35 min with him.  I also remember that the top of his head looked crazy.  It was really wrinkled and veins were popping out and it just looked weird.  At this point I was leaning back against Tom.  I remember thinking that once the head comes out, the body just slips right out.  Or at least that's how it seemed in all the birth stories I'd read or videos I'd watched.  That's not how it felt though.  It felt like all kinds of tugging and pulling and craziness was going on down there once his head came out.  It could be that it was because he had his hand up next to his face?  Maybe they had to maneuver some things?  I don't know.  Anyway, it felt weird.

So, finally, he came out and they pulled him up to my chest and for a split second I thought all the hard work was over...

Not so.

So demoralizing to not get to experience relief at that point.  I had just been through SO much and was clinging onto the thought of being able to relax.  Instead, when they pulled him up to my check it was quickly apparent that he didn't look right.  I remember noticing it right away and feeling like it took forever for the midwife the notice - even though I'm pretty sure it was a matter of seconds before action was taken.  He was blue and floppy and not crying.  The next thing I remember was the midwife clamping the cord and saying, "hurry! STAT!" to the student, who was going to cut it.  Then, they rushed him over to the warming table and a bunch of people started working on him.  In the meantime, they delivered the placenta (which was just more hurting).  Then,  they were waiting for some kind of anesthetic to arrive so they could stitch me up.  In the meantime it hurt really bad down there and I kept asking why it hadn't come yet, because I really wanted them to numb me down there already, even though it was just numbing in prep for the stitching.  I can't remember at what point they took Emerson away to the NICU.  I've had a lot of people say something to the effect of, "man, you must have been so worried about him!"  In reality, that wasn't as pressing of a thought as you might think.  First of all, I think that for some reason I felt like he'd be fine.  Maybe because Harper was taken and worked on right away too (meconium in the water) and she was fine?  Second of all, I was still in so much pain that my brain couldn't think straight.

Finally, the anesthetic arrived and they set to work on stitching me up.  Despite the anesthetic, it hurt really really bad.  Of course, the midwife kept saying she was almost done.  At one point she said, "I'm very, very close to being done" and then proceeded to continue for longer than she had done it to that point.  The longer it went on after she said that the more bitter I got.  But I was so exhausted and had been in so much pain for so long that I just reached this point where I was too tired for anger.  Instead, I just cried.  Yup, at this point I was DONE.  Poor Tom.  He was still holding my hand and had been for hours, I think and there was nothing he could do but just watch me cry.  I don't mean to put all of this on the midwife, especially since, in her mind, I'm sure she thought it was helping, but I was just really in a situation where I needed to be able to trust what people said.  Instead of it making me feel like the hard thing was almost over, it made me feel like I had no idea when it would end and took away my hope.  Does that make sense?  And I know we're just talking about the stitches here, but after all the rest it just felt like the last straw.  And it really was quite painful, it a totally different way from the rest of the labor.

Anyway, after what was probably 45 minutes or so, she finished stitching me up.  That's pretty much what I consider to be the end of the labor, because it was the end of a continuous string of pain.  Not that there wasn't more pain later, but it was a break in the pain.  I still have more to say about the hospital stay and Emerson being in the NICU, but I'll save all of that for the next post.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Introducing Emerson August Armstrong

Emerson August Armstrong was born Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 2:37pm.  Here's some quick info about him and his first few days.  This post will be followed by his birth story:

- He came 5 days late, just like his sister.

- He was 8lbs. 9oz. and 21.5" long at birth.

- When he was born he took one breath and then became unresponsive.  They cut his cord and rushed him to the warming table to work on him.  It turned out that he had a pneumothorax (basically, his lungs collapsed).  They aren't sure why since it usually happens when babies are premature or have an infection (which he did not).

- He spent the rest of his 3 day hospital stay in the NICU, in the "Very Low Birthweight" area.  He didn't actually need to be in the NICU after the first day and a half, but they didn't have room for him in the well baby nursery.

- He was, at various points, hooked up to a CPAP machine, Canula and IV.

- He couldn't breastfeed while he was hooked up to the CPAP machine, so we got a bit of a rough start with that.

- He has a long torso, long legs, long feet and long fingers.

- His middle name is August for a few reasons.  We liked the name to begin with, but not enough to use it as a first name and we like middle names that have significance.  The NICU he was in was called the August L. Jung NICU and I kept noticing the name each time I'd walk in to visit him.  Finally, I looked up the guy and found out that he was a pretty awesome guy.  He actually pioneered the NICU system in the Western US, starting with that very NICU at the U of U.  Basically, in my mind, he's responsible for my kid being alive AND he was a really great guy to boot.  As an added bonus, it turns out my great great grandfather was also named August.  And that's how he got his middle name.  Here's a link to some info about August L. Jung:

- So far, he is VERY chill.  He sleeps A LOT and barely cries.

Monday, June 1, 2015

May 2015

I feel like May has been the month of nesting and waiting...and rain.  Nesting because we finally figured out where we were moving (Tom's parents basement).  Waiting because, you know, I'm due May 30th and you never know when the baby will come.  Rain because it has rained almost every day this month, which has made it especially challenging to find things to do with Harp during the day.  At the beginning of the month I was in super nesting mode.  We got everything moved in remarkably fast because it was the only thing on my mind and I just couldn't stop putting things away.  It was exhausting but good.  And it felt good to get things in their places so fast.  I still took Harper out to do things, since she demands it, but anytime I could, I was working on putting things away or other important things on the to-do list.  For a little while it felt like my to-do list was insurmountable.  But, I just worked so hard that it cleared up pretty fast.  Tom was a great help too.  He pretty much always is.  He's was very glad when the to-do list got smaller though, because he didn't get much of a break either.  

So, the first few weeks of the month were focused on doing all of the absolutely essential things to get the house ready for the baby.  Next, I spent about a week getting a bunch of freezer meals ready.  It was hard work but I'm so glad I did it.  It's really hard not to eat it all now though, especially since it made me sick of cooking!  I made taco soup, spaghetti, chicken cacciatore, enchiladas, tomato basil soup (which I actually use as a sauce on noodles because it's really rich), Mexican pork (for tacos, quesadillas, on rice, etc.), quiche, two curries, a curry soup and some chocolate/peanut butter/honey/chia/flax/oat balls.  Um, but if you were planning on bringing us meals, please forget that I just told you all that and pretend we have nothing.  That's like my favorite part of having a baby except baby.  That and getting free unlimited hospital food during the hospital stay.  I like food, ok?  Alright.  My next baby-prep task, after the freezer food, was to put together a slew of activities that Harper can do at home, that should (theoretically) garner her attention for a little while at a time.  Things like finger painting, snack necklaces, oobleck, etc.  I found a bunch of ideas on pinterest, then created a word document for each one with supplies needed and instructions, then got any supplies we didn't already have. Now, if I need a quick activity for her, especially in the early days of double-kid-dom I'll have plenty of things to fall back on.  I think I have 14 activities so far. Not bad, eh?  I'm trying not to use them until after the baby comes and after Tom goes back to work and my mom goes home.  Turns out it's just one more thing making me impatient for the baby to come, like the freezer food.  But, it will make things better after the baby comes, right?  Basically, the theme is that everything = more impatience for baby.

To illustrate the rest of this month, the rest of this blog post will be organized into themes.

Things to do in So Jo

So, when we lived downtown, I got to the point where I had quite the quiver of activities that I could fill our days with.  Feeling like a big, fun adventure?  Zoo or children's museum.  Quick outside activity?  At least 3 parks within walking distance.  Feeling like some time to myself?  Gym.  Want to see Tom?  City Creek.  Plus, I'd started a babysitting co-op and dropped Harper off at a friend's house 2 or 3 times a week.  Basically, I almost had TOO many activities for us to do.  This was important because Harper is an out-of-the-house kind of kid.  As in, if we even stay inside for an entire morning it's miserable.  She will just constantly beg to go "outside."  Now that we've moved and it takes us at least 20 minutes to get to all our old activities (and she has started hating the car again and falls asleep in it and skips her nap if I'm not vigilant) I am in the process of trying to come up with activities close to our new home.  This has proven rather difficult.  Even though there are more kids/capita in South Jordan (a lot more, I'm pretty sure) there seem to be way fewer kids activities.  Plus, there are much fewer places we can go that are within walking distance (or even biking distance, but we'll touch on that later).  Plus, it has rained almost every day THIS ENTIRE MONTH.  Not a good combination for trying to pass the time at the end of pregnancy.  If you've never been pregnant before, let me just say that the last month of pregnancy feels like a year.  The only plus side is that I now have midwife appointments once a week AND THEY HAVE BABYSITTING, which Harper actually loves.  Anyway, here are some of the things we have done:

There is a tiny and kind of lame neighborhood park within (kind of far) walking distance of our house.  The first time we went it was great.  Harper was in full-on flower picking mode and the park has this huge grassy area (with just a teeny tiny park on it...whatever) with tons of dandelions.  She was in heaven.  Unfortunately though, I didn't realize the reason she was so quiet all the way there was because she'd fallen asleep.

Can you see Harper way off in the distance in this bottom pic?  She was so happy wandering all over picking the flowers.

I was super paranoid that she'd fall asleep on the way home and not fall asleep in her crib when we got home.  Even though I checked on her obsessively, it only takes a second and she did fall asleep.  I figured the best way to transition her to her crib and have her actually sleep would be to hold her, so I picked her up.  She fell right asleep on me, but I still had quite a way to go!  It was SO hard to push the stroller, hold Harper on my shoulder and be super duper pregnant.  I swear I almost didn't make it.  But I will do almost anything to get my naptime break, and it worked!
Got some new backyard toys at the local kids consignment store:

Harper is a big fan of babydolls and strollers these days...which is great since I'm about to have a baby.

Went to the Museum of Natural Curiosity (Children's Museum) at Thanksgiving Point.  Harper LOVED the water table.  Plus, we ran into an old friend from my home ward (church congregation) in California who got us in for half-off.  This was the 2nd of FOUR times I've now run into someone from that ward since moving back to SoJo:

She also loved the fishies in the outside part of the museum:

McDonald's playplace:

I was actually really proud of her for wandering all the way up in the structure a couple times.  I was also really fortunate that each time some nice little girl would help her back down when she inevitably got lost and wanted mom.  Navigating a playplace structure is not on my bucket list while being 9 months pregnant.
I like to say that Harp makes friends easily because she's that friend who laughs at you even when you're not being that funny, making you think you're hilarious.  Everyone needs that friend.  Here's an example with a friend she made at the playplace:

The store, of course.  This particular outing she saw a bin of those little taffy candies and I decided she could have one.  She knows you have to wait til we "pay" though, to eat it.  The whole time at the store she held onto it and was super happy and kept saying, "candy! pay! pay!"  When we finally paid I used a grocery bag as an impromptu bag for all the purple goo running down her chin.  Happy Harper:

Typical grocery store outing moment:

I haven't been terribly impressed with the parks here, and there's almost never anyone at them, but I will say that they often have fabulous mountain views:

Much more impressive in person, as usual.

Harper actually made a friend at this park trip.  The girl was playing with the bike rack and Harp thought it looked fun so she joined.  It was pretty cute.  They sat there and pointed out cars and trees and stuff to each other.
 The Aquarium.  Verdict is that she's still much too young to enjoy it and it was super crowded too:

Chick-Fil-A Playplace.  Loved having her own dipping sauce for the chicken, but the play area was lame:

She is saying, "Chick-Fil-A!!!"
Auntie Jan.  One day this month we went back up to our old stomping grounds to visit with our friend Jan.  Harper knows Jan as the nice lady who has fun toys and feeds her ice cream.  Every time I say, "Jan," Harper says, "ice keem!"

Jan let Harper play with this big bear and Harper was SO excited.  She walked right up to me and said, "picture!  Take a picture!"  First time she's ever requested I take a picture of something.

The other reason we go see Auntie Jan is because she helps me figure out how to do genealogy.  And because we just like her.

Cousin Ellie.  One good thing about living in SoJo is that we get to see Cousin Ellie a lot more than we did before.  Ellie is one of Harper's favorite people.  She's always excited to see her and always has fun with her.

Backyard. Another plus to living in SoJo is that we have use of a backyard!  I don't know why I don't have more pictures of Harper playing in it, because she does all the time, but I'll try to get some next month.  She plays with scooters, kid chairs, a water table, a trampoline and swings, among other things.  I generally chill on a pool lounger.  Or, in the case of swings (like below), a chair that I strategically placed so that I can push while sitting.  Yay pregnancy.  Anyway, this video was pretty much the first time Harp used a big kid swing without falling off.  She LOVED it and sat in it quietly for like 45 min til Tom got home.  Other times we talk about everything and anything while she swings - birds, colors, clouds, wood chips, food, Daddy, every sing person she knows, etc. 

Biking.  This month, for my birthday, Tom got me a bike and his parents got me a bike trailer.  It was pretty great.  I'm still trying to figure out places we can go via bike though.  I've found a few and hope that once I'm not pregnant I can venture a little farther.  So far, I took Harp and her best-buddy-cousin Ellie to that neighborhood park I mentioned earlier:

They had a BLAST.
Took Harper to the store:

One awesome thing about the trailer is how much I can fit in it.  I had several grocery bags underneath.
And took Harper to the temple.  The temple trip was definitely one of the highlights of this month.  Harper really likes temple and requests the "temple song" all the time, so I thought she'd enjoy it.  

At first we just looked at all the flowers.  

Then, a nice man who was doing some of the temple gardening came over and gave her two pansies.

She carried them around until they were ragged and limp...and then carried them around some more.
She chased a bird:

 Found some mushrooms:

Then (and this is the real highlight), a random temple patron came over and gave her a dum dum.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I don't think she could have loved that dum dum any more than she did.  For the next hour and a half she sucked on that dum dum and said "yoyipop!" at least a few times every couple of minutes.

Right after she got it we sat on the edge of the fountain, near the doors of the temple.  Most of the time she was silent, just sucking on her lollipop (unusual for her), but every few minutes she'd just say, "yoyipop!"  We sat there for like 45 minutes, just like that.  Then, we walked back down to the bike.  I think this will be one of my main memories from our last days of it just being Harper and I all day.

She happily sucked on it during the ride home.

I feel like she looks a little crazy in this picture.  Is it just me?

Then, she happily sucked on it for a quick trip to the store.  Finally, I had to take it away for her nap, since she still had a ways to go.  She fell asleep sobbing, "yoyipop!"  When she got up I gave it back to her and we watched youtube videos of various versions of the "Lollipop" song by the Chordettes. 

 She sucked it dry and is now thoroughly obsessed with lollipops.  She found a toy block with a picture of a lollipop on it (for the letter, "L") and carries it around with her 24/7.  If she finds anything with a lollipop on it she instantly loves it.  The random guy at the temple will never know how much his tiny gesture influenced our week!

Jordan River Trail.  This was something I really really wanted to do as a family before the baby came.  The rain made it really hard to find a good a good time, but we finally did it.  So, we live pretty close to a long trail that goes along a river.  Along the trail is a playground.  I wanted to have us go down to the trail (it's too steep to bike back with the trailer from the trail, so we had to drive one of the bikes there and have Tom bike the other one), bike along it til we got to the playground,  get off and play, then bike back (and drive back).  It worked out great.

While we were waiting for Tom to get to the trailhead with the other bike Harper and I discovered some cows.  I thought she might be afraid of them but she LOVED them.

When we got to the playground, we ran into the Wrights!  It was the 2nd time we'd run into them and the 4th time we'd run into someone from my home ward, since moving back to SoJo!  Crazy!

When we got back to the trailhead, Tom headed home with his bike while Harper chased some very friendly ducks.  

Then we hopped in the car and met Tom at home.

It was a great outing!

Anyway, besides those these I've mentioned, other places we've gone (not via bike) are the rec center pool (a pretty good one) and the library.  Unfortunately, the libraries here stop doing storytime for toddlers over the summer.  They do have this open play thing though, where they just lay out a bunch of toys and let the kids go at it.  

So far, I'm not impressed with the kids stuff that SoJo has to offer and would take downtown's activities any day.  But, we'll survive.  At least we have a backyard now!  Need to get some pictures of that next month.  Oh, and at least we are on the verge of summer and will be able to take advantage of a whole new slew of activities.  It's been hard to have so much rain this month, but things should be looking up from now on.

Pretend Play

This month Harper has really started to pretend.  It's the best.  I love it.  So far, her pretend play pretty much centers around food (she is sooooo my child) and to a lesser extent, all of her babies and animals.

The picture below shows pretty much the first time I remember her pretend playing.  That block you see in the middle there is part of a block puzzle.  One day she just started calling it "chocolate" and pretending to eat it.  Then she started giving it hugs and kisses and, as you can see here, put it down for a nap.  "Night night chocolate," she said.  Since then, various other blocks in the puzzle have received identities.  Theres her pancake block, her ice cream block, her cookie block, her peanut butter block, her "English" block (don't ask, I don't know) and, of course, her "yoyipop" block (from a different set).  She even seems to know which puzzle block is which, and sometimes must have a specific one.  She almost always has at least one block in her hand these days.

She will also often take one of the blocks and put it inside of one of a set of nesting boxes (boxes that fit inside of each other) that we have and pretend it's in a bowl.  Then she'll want to sit on a chair at a table and pretend to eat it.  One day, I was taking a nap while she was playing (yup, I do that) and when I woke up she was carrying a stool over to these green baskets, where she had her box with block inside and she was pretending the stool was her chair and the baskets were a table.

At the desk with various boxes with blocks, feeding Panda.

Dress Up

Harper has also really gotten into dressing up.  I've decided that I really aught to make her a dress up box, because whenever there's any opportunity to dress-up she loves it.

To illustrate my point, here is Harper decked out with a necklace, a bib and one of the baby's pjs on her arm, all requested by her.
And this time she requested bunny ears and a gold necklace.  Pretty good combo IMO.

Unfortunately, she has also learned how to UNdress.
Stuffed Animals

Harper has really started loving her stuffed animals this month.  She's loved Panda for a while now, but this month it has turned into a loved of stuffed animals and baby dolls in general.  Her favorites are Panda, Puppy (sandwiched in the middle below) and Ladybug (the pillow, below, which is actually her cousin's).  She likes to hug them (or, as she says, "hold you"), put them down for naps, pretend to nap with them (below), actually nap with them, "rockabye" them and feed them food blocks (see "pretend play" above) among other things.  She's often carrying multiple ones at once.

Harper's Room

Another big thing this month was putting Harper's room together.  Initially, there was a big bunkbed in her room, which took up most of the space.  It was pretty crowded.  Then, it got even more crowded because we tried to dismantle it and some of the screws were stripped and we kept trying things to get it apart and kept failing.  The room was a disaster zone.  Then, one night we officially gave up on taking it apart and decided to put it back together again and just leave it.  I was pretty sad about it, but was coming to terms with it.  Then, we came home to find it all taken apart and in pieces in the theater room.  And even more amazing, her room was nicely arranged, cleaned up and vacuumed!  Yup, Tom's dad had just randomly thought of a tool that could take out the screws and they went to work on it!  It was honestly one of the best surprised ever!  I was in shock for a while.  How nice is that?  I must say, living with Tom's parents really has been great so far.  I know in-laws get a bad rap, but they're an exception.  After the initial clean up we ended up buying her a bookshelf and a chair, for her table.  Then we rearranged it again and voila!

Wall decorations will, theoretically, come later.
This picture kind of cracks me up because she LOVES her chair and you can see their connection from the very beginning.  I took this pic on the way home from IKEA after buying it:

All the room work ended up being SO worth it.  Harper LOVES her room.  In our old place she almost never played in her room even though there were largely the same items in it.  I think a lot of the reason for that is that it was much smaller and, therefore, cramped.  This one just feels so open and inviting.  To illustrate what I mean, when I got her up from her nap today she wouldn't let me carry her to the living room like I do every day.  She wiggled down and wanted to play in her room instead.  That NEVER happened in the old place.  It has been so nice.  She is finally playing with her toys!!!

Sick Harper

This was another sick Harper month.  Harper has, at the least, had a runny nose nearly every day this month.  Some of the time I think it has been seasonal allergies (like, when the snot is clear and she has no other symptoms), other times it has clearly been sickness.  She had one sickness that was particularly bad.  She had a horrendous runny nose, to the point that the skin around her nose started bleeding and would just bleed more if we tried to clean it and she'd have to have a scabby clump of bloody yuck under her nose all day (yum!), an ear infection, a fever, a bad cough (croup) and was just in a bad mood.  Poor thing.  Poor us.  

It was a rough week or so.  It was so nice once it was over and she got back to her normal, jolly self.  The runny nose was only gone for like 2 days though and has been back every since.  Will I ever have a break from wiping her nose every couple of minutes?  She's super patient about it though, so that's a blessing.


So, this WILL be the last blog post of this pregnancy.  I am due May 30th and will be induced by June 13th if he doesn't come on his own before then.  I am convinced that's exactly what's going to happen.  Harper was 5 days late when she was induced for preeclampsia and I feel like she wouldn't have come for at least several days on her own.  I had no symptoms of labor before the induction and don't this time either.  I'm just looking at June 13th as my due date.  It's not working that well though, because I'm still feeling super impatient.  At the beginning of the month I didn't want him to come yet because things weren't ready yet.  Now there's almost nothing left on my to-do list and the things that are left aren't that important.  Plus, I'm WAY more uncomfortable now.  I feel like my entire middle section, and then some, hurts.  Trying to sleep....or even ridiculous.  Plus, the end of pregnancy really messes with my head.  Like, I can't plan the next month AT ALL.  I have no idea whether he'll be here today or in 2+ weeks!  Ahhh!  The good news is that last time I got a lot more patient after my due date passed and I think the same will happen this time.  I think it's because at that point I know that no matter what the baby will come SOON.  Plus, this time that's also about the start of when the weather will start to be more summery, which will help us pass the time.

37 weeks
39 weeks


Most of this month I've been too busy for projects.  But, I did do one or two!  A little while ago I bought a square of plain white muslin fabric (same as what they use for Aden and Anais swaddle blankets).  Then, this month I stamped on it using a stamp and some fabric ink that I bought.  If you can't tell, the stamp is of a leaf.  It looks way better in person.  Then, I hemmed the edges and ironed over all the leaves (hadn't done those two things yet when I took this pic).  It turned out great and I'm super excited for the baby to actually COME and use it.  Aye.  Come out already!

The other blanket in the picture is an Aden and Anais blanket.  They are the same size now that I've hemmed the one I made.
Other Random Photos

Took a nap while Harper was playing one day (yup) and noticed she'd been quiet for a while.  Still not sure if she was actually asleep or just playing because Tom came home right after I took the pic and she got up when she heard him.
Every month I can't help but take a few sleeping Harp pics.  She's just so sweet looking when she sleeps:

And then there's her awesome hair:

Having fun eating the cottage cheese all by herself:

And to end of this month's post, here are two really cute videos of Harper.

First, Harper being really cute while eating cottage cheese (again):

And finally, I decided to ask Harper to say a prayer, just to see what she'd do.  Here's her really cute response: