Survival Mode

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
That's where you find yourself during the first two weeks with a newborn.
Having a baby is one of those things that nothing can prepare you for. Sure, everyone offers their expert advice...but once that baby has arrived in all of his/her screaming, gooey, glory, any advice that was previously given means nothing.
You knew your life would change, but you never quite grasped how much.

Your life now revolves around taking care of this tiny human, who is half you, half your partner, and 100% amazing. There is a huge learning curve to caring for a baby, yet most of what you need to know is biology...so you just sort of jump into action. It's actually pretty remarkable. 
The emotions are off the charts. I thought my hormones were out of control when I was pregnant, but that was nothing compared to the cocktail of crazy bewing inside me now. These hormones are tied directly to my little creature. When I was pregnant, external things affected me the most...like happy or sad shows. Now, things involving Aria get the crazy going. For example, a few days ago we took her to the doctor for a clogged tear duct. We had to go to the pharmacy to get her prescription and the wait was very long. She hadn't eaten in while, so I knew her feeding time was coming up. She woke up and was hungry, but I couldn't do anything to help her because we were at CVS. After a few minutes of her crying out of hunger, I started to cry because I couldn't do anything for her. She was crying, I was crying, it was a mess. 
We aren't sleeping all that much right now. It's impossible to sleep with a newborn because they have to eat every 2 - 3 hours. So even if you have a good sleeper, who would sleep through the night, it doesn't matter. You have to wake them up to feed. Aria is pretty good about being woken up. The problem is she never wants to go back to sleep. I swear, that baby could stay awake for 4 days in a row
Luckily I've had a little bit of training for this, without even realizing it. When I was in the Coast Guard I worked overnight from 6:30pm - 6:30am. So being functional when most of the world is asleep is not new. I'd much rather be sleeping soundly...especially when PJ is tucked in comfortably right next to me...and I haven't slept in 14 nights. But at least I've been there and done this overnight crap before.
For what it's worth, I also learned how to function on zero rest and a very cloudy brain, take 2 minute showers, and survive on eating only handfuls of gold fish, while in the CG. Who knew those 6 years were training me to take care of my child.
Now, having said that, there is no amount of training that can thoroughly prepare you for the level of insanity you will reach in the first 2 weeks of caring for your little creature. 
Aria is currently experiencing her first growth spurt. The days are full of crying, eating every hour...which pretty much means she is stuck to my boob all day, almost double the dirty diapers, blowouts on every single onesie I put on her, peeing every time I take her diaper off to change it, crying, more eating, and absolutely no sleeping at night. Last night I was so tired that during the very short 2 hours that she slept (yes, 2 hours over the course of the entire night), I awoke realizing that she had peed on me. I accepted it, then I went back to sleep. 
Don't judge me. You don't know what it's like. 
Yesterday was my first day getting back to any form of working out. I wanted to assess the condition of my pelvic floor after delivering a baby...so I went on a combo fast walk/slow run. It did feel amazing to run, but my body made it clear that it still has some healing to do before I can get back out there, full speed. My pelvic floor is still weak from delivery. I experienced some discomfort and weakness in my pelvis while I was running, which is okay. I fully expected that. It wasn't too bad though. I think a few weeks of strengthening and I should be good to go. 
Today I started my strengthening routine, while Aria napped. I'll be starting a post delivery body series of posts this week, where I'll talk more about training.

Happy Tuesday everyone. And get some sleep for me!

Aria's First Sprint Part II

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Incase you missed out on Part 1

Where did we leave off? Ahh yes…Aria had decided that her first race would be the one out of my womb. My cervix had gone into overdrive. When my midwife and nurse predicted me to just be reaching 4cm dilated, I was actually at 10cm, 100% effaced, and my body had taken it upon itself to begin pushing on it's own.

It took me a second to comprehend what she was telling me. I had been waiting for an hour and a half for pain relief and some time to process what was happening to me.

Instead, it was Go Time!

The anesthesiologist was standing next to us, watching everything. My midwife pointed to her and said "You. You can go."

I looked at PJ, terrified. He looked back at me and told me that I could do this, and were going to do it together. He reminded me that now that I wasn't getting the epidural, I would get to have the drug free birth that I truly wanted.

Even with all of the pain, that thought was very comforting.

Adapt and overcome. Something I'm familiar with.

My midwife had positioned herself at the bottom end of the hospital bed. She instructed me at my next contraction, to push with everything I had.

A strong contraction came on and I could feel it through every fiber of my body. I pushed hard. It felt so good to push. Channeling all of my energy into something that I could actually control, felt incredible. I felt empowered.

My midwife could see the baby's head. She instructed me to hold my legs up and push. I was exhausted. I couldn't even hold up my own legs. I moved off the table and squatted for the next round of pushing. It felt good to squat and push…for a second. Then my legs started to shake uncontrollably. I was falling over.

PJ and the nurse helped me back onto the bed. They held my legs up for me. In the next few rounds of contractions, I pushed as hard as I could every time. It was exhausting. I was making long, crazy grunting noises with each push.

I thought I would be able to feel the baby moving down the birth canal, with each push…but I couldn't. All I felt was pressure. The pushing didn't even hurt.

After what seemed like forever, I felt a sudden burning feeling. My midwife yelled "Stop pushing now!" If you listen to me very carefully, you will not tear."

The baby's head was out.

My midwife then rotated her and worked out her shoulders. She instructed me to push one last time. I pushed with the little energy I had left. Then I felt an incredible feeling of relief. The baby was out. My midwife placed her on my stomach. I just kept saying "Oh my god. Oh my god".

It was 1:35 am and she was here.

It was the most unreal feeling I have ever experienced. She was here. My little buddy for the past 10 months, who I had been carrying with me everywhere, talking to and sharing experiences with, was finally in my arms.

Then because I'm a very sensitive, classy lady, the first thing I said was "She doesn't smell as bad as I thought she would".

My midwife delivered the placenta and told me that I didn't tear during delivery. Then, again, because I'm so appropriate during emotional situations, I raised my arms in the air as if I had just landed a flip, and said "Yes! I'll be running in no time!"

Aria layed on my stomach for over an hour, while PJ and I took it all in. I can't describe the love and emotion that fills a moment like that. It's unbelievable.

The nurse then came in and asked if she could take her and weigh her. When she picked her up, we saw that I was completely covered in baby poop. During our first encounter, Aria completely covered me in crap. It was hilarious.

Aria clocked in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces, 19.5 inches long.






Afterthoughts:

After we were settled, my midwife came in to debrief with us, which I appreciated. An experience as intense as labor and delivery, definitely warrants some processing.

She explained to me that it was pretty remarkable how fast I progressed through labor. The reason I was overwhelmed in pain was because things progressed at an extremely fast rate. If my cervix dilated at the average speed, I would have been in labor until at least 7:30 am, and then I would have started pushing. It still would have been painful, but I would have progressed more slowly through each centimeter of dilation, giving my body time to adjust. Aria had her eye on the prize, and really wanted to take first place (I'm not sure who she was racing), so what should have taken seven and a half hours, took an hour and a half.
For comparison sake…there was a woman there who was 5cm dialated. They had her walking around the hospital for 3 hours, trying to help her cervix to progress. She was walking and talking and completely functional. Finally after 3 hours and no progression, they sent her home to wait it out.

I asked her about transition. Transition is the last part of active labor where your cervix dilates from 8 - 10 cm. It is the most intense part of labor. Some women vomit, some shiver and some start making deep grunting sounds. By the end of transition your body can begin to bear down and push on it's own. I asked my midwife when I went through transition. With all of the reading and prep I did, I expected to know for sure when it was happening, but because everything progressed so fast, I really wasn't sure. She told me that I was in transition for about the last 45 minutes before I started pushing…right when I started begging for the epidural.

Another interesting part of Aria's arrival is that every night for about the past month Aria would get extremely active at 9 pm. PJ and I would just watch my stomach, in disbelief that a little baby could move so much in such a small space. We would just watch her until we went to sleep. Also, the last month I started waking up at 1:30 am and could not fall back asleep. Aria was very active at that time, and would keep me up. Low and behold, my crazy labor started at 9 pm and she arrived at 1:35 am. Amazing.

After delivery you feel like you've just run a marathon. You are exhausted from the miles, elated because you completed the race, pleased with your PR, filled with emotion at the outcome, yet way too excited to rest. I didn't sleep a wink the rest of that first night or the following day.

Labor is not like it is shown on tv. There is no yelling at your husband, screaming "You did this to me!" Even if I could have formed words, those are not the ones that would have come out of my mouth. I could not have made it through the experience of labor and delivery without PJ. He was an amazing coach. I'm a very strong willed person, very independent, and I don't like to accept help.
During the contractions I felt out of control. I was completely vulnerable and I couldn't find any strength within myself. PJ picked me up and gave me the strength I needed to get through the scariest and hardest thing I've ever experienced.

The biggest surprise about labor, for me, was that the contractions were the most painful part. I always thought the act of pushing the baby out of that tiny opening would be the most painful part. Not even close. Pushing her out felt good. It was something I could control, a place to channel my energy, and I was able to use my body and muscles. When she came out, it didn't hurt. It felt like a great deal of pressure. Contractions however, made me want to throw myself out the window.

Although my labor was completely opposite of what I expected, I'm thankful it happened the way it did. If I had progressed even just the tiniest bit slower, I would have gotten the epidural that in my right mind, I firmly did not want. Instead, I was able to have the drug free birth experience that I really wanted.

And here is a picture of me and my new BFF.

Happy Hump Day Ya'll.


Aria's First Sprint Part I

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I still can't believe she is here. Daily I am trying to understand the miracle of PJ and I creating this tiny little person out of thin air. And I'm still trying to comprehend how she just emerged from my body.

Aria came into the world in an unexpected way that my type A personality hadn't quite planned for. I have been preparing for her and for labor, for about 8 months. I read books, did research, spoke with multiple midwives and doulas, worked out muscles to aid in labor, took care of my body, and came up with a plan. I like to be prepared.

On Tuesday September 10th, I had woken up at 1:30am for the one millionth day in a row. I was frustrated, sore, uncomfortable, and 5 days short of my due date. As I lay in bed having a solo pity party, I got online and put in a request to schedule a prenatal massage for that day.

I got confirmation around 8am, that I could have my beloved massage time at 9:30am. Feeling like I still had a long road ahead of me since my mom was about 2 weeks overdue with my brothers, sister and I, I planned out a number of things for the upcoming days. Namely, I was going to sew a few more infinity scarves, make some other crafty stuff and watch all seasons of the Tudors.

I had my glorious massage, went to the fabric store, took the dogs on a long walk, knocked a few things off my supreme productivity list, and then I was so tired that I felt drunk. I decided to watch Titanic and lay on the couch.

At 2:30pm I felt a big pop and something leaked out of me. My inital thought was Oh shit. I just peed myself again and this time on the couch. That's going to be a bitch to clean up. Well, the couch is grey...Maybe no one will notice.
I went into the bathroom and I was leaking all the way there. I put a pad in my underwear and within minutes, it was soaked. That's when I started thinking..."Hmmm, maybe somethings up".

I wasn't having any cramps or contractions, but I called my midwife to get her opinion. She was certain my water had broken. We had talked about this scenario a hundred times before. Since I wasn't having any contractions and it was my first baby, we talked about how I would labor at home likely for an entire day. A large majority of first pregnancy labors last around 24 - 36 hours. Laboring at home would allow me the highest chance of having the natural, intervention free birth that I wanted. She told me that I'll likely start having a few contractions overnight and that we should plan on touching base in the morning about my status. She was confident that I'll be slow to progress and so was I.

I was prepared for this, so I felt good about it. But as the day went on, nothing was happening. I started to feel like an idiot. I wish I hadn't called them yet. I bet this is nothing. I probably just peed myself. Now I feel bad because PJ missed out on his beer and wing night with his friend because I cried wolf. I'm probably going to be pregnant for another 3 weeks. Oh god. I might die if I'm pregnant another 3 weeks.

Then at 9 pm all hell broke loose. I started getting contractions. They came on fast and furious, completely opposite of what I had learned about and prepared for. They started out at 6 - 7 minutes apart for over 30 seconds each. Within a half hour they were 4 - 5 minutes apart for almost a minute. It was happening so fast.

At 10 pm I called the midwife back. "I know you wanted me to labor at home until tomorrow, but I think things are happening faster than they are supposed to. My contractions are getting really close together, and really long, quickly." At this point I could not talk through the contractions any longer. With each contraction, I doubled over, holding on to anything I could. Then I started throwing up.

Throwing up while contracting is just wrong. It shouldn't be possible for that to happen. 

As if your cervix opening to fit a human through and your pelvis pretty much unhinging, isn't bad enough... I was also on all fours on my bathroom floor, groaning like a cow in heat, with spit and other wetness leaking from my face. PJ is one lucky sonofabitch.

The midwife told us to head into the hospital. The car ride was the most painful ride of my life. My contractions were still picking up and I couldn't hold it in anymore. I started screaming and making noises to get it out. I couldn't control myself.

We arrived at the hospital and everyone kept trying to put me in a wheel chair. I wanted to kill them.

The nurses took me into triage to have my cervix checked. My midwife examined me and reported that I was only 2 cm dilated. Two centimeters????? What kind of devil magic is this????!!!! I felt like my body was going to tear itself in half. I couldn't believe I was only 2 cm. My contractions were still coming in fast and hard and lasting what felt like an eternity. One would come on, reach it's peak and then peak even higher.

Inside I was thinking a hundred things about what I wanted to say to the nurses and my midwife about how this didn't feel right, but I couldn't speak. I couldn't even speak between contractions. The nurse and my midwife broke the bad news that I'd likely have another 7 and a half hours before I was fully dilated because on average, that's how long it takes. Logically I knew this. During my prenatal visits we had talked about how a first timers cervix's open about 1cm per hour.

I started to feel like a failure.

How could I have prepared so long for this and be crumbling to pieces at only 2 centimeters. I usually have an extremely high tolerance for pain and discomfort...what is happening to me right now?

PJ stepped up to the plate and took control. During the next contraction he made eye contact with me, ordered me with a very tough love type of motivation, to keep my eyes open and stay with him to ride out the contraction. We breathed together and while my body was flailing in pain, I was able to keep my vocals under control. PJ became my crutch. I couldn't let him out of my sight. Not even to use the bathroom.

Through preparing for labor, I learned that when I was in transition I would beg for an epidural. I didn't believe anyone who said that.

I was still in triage 45 minutes after we arrived, barely making it through each contraction.

I wanted to die.

I begged for the epidural.

I was only 2cm dilated 45 minutes before that, and they told me I had to be 4 cm for an epidural. That meant that in another hour and a half, I could have it. I felt disappointed in myself because I had caved before I even reached transition...or so I thought. i just couldnt imagine another 7.5 hours of this constant agony. They hooked me up to an IV to give me some fluids in preparation for the epidural. I waited, while flailing and arching like the exorcist. I've never felt so out of control.

I was so scared. I knew something felt off about how I was progressing, but I've never been through labor before, so I was going off of what I was being told. I could tell the nurses were surprised at how much pain I was in for being "only 2 cm".

My IV finished transferring fluid and they moved me into a labor and delivery room, for the epidural. The plan was for me to sleep once the drugs worked their magic, so I would be rested up for pushing. By this point my contractions were directly on top of each other and it was the most pain I could have ever imagined. The anesthesiologist was getting everything ready and she was asking me questions. I couldn't form words to answer them.
The next contraction came on and my body took over. It started to bear down and push on it's own. I was panicking inside. I couldn't control it.

The nurse looked at me really frightened and told me to stop. I couldn't. She called my midwife over to check me again. This was at 12:30am, only an hour and a half since I had arrived at the hospital.

"Oh my god. You're fully dialated and 100% effaced. We have Super Woman over here."

I wanted to punch her. I felt like she was patronizing me.

Stay tuned for part two...

We Are Here...38 Weeks

Friday, September 6, 2013

38 Weeks, 6 Days

I have been pregnant for 271 days. Holy crap.
 
Body/Mind:

Week 38 has been a little bit of a roller coaster. A hugely uncomfortable roller coaster. My stomach keeps growing...getting heavier and larger. I swear I'll never take for granted the ability to put on underwear or get up out of a chair, without struggling, again.
 
I've been getting more tired this week. I think it has to do with carrying around this bowling ball all day long. Generally my days consist of getting up around 5:30am, walking Harper for a few miles, the gym, cleaning, organizing and crossing things off my "list of supreme productivity" until about 2pm. Then I crash really hard. After that I'm pretty useless for the rest of the day. Harper and I squeeze in our second long walk in the evening, and then I'm in bed by 8 or 9. PJ always offers to do the second walk, but I like doing it because I have a lot of contractions when I walk her. I feel like that's a sign that I'm on my way in the right direction...so I always opt to do it.
 
I'm still not sleeping well. I get up every 2 hours to use the bathroom or because I just can't sleep. The good news is once the baby does get here, I'll be accustomed to getting up so often. So na na boo boo, body.
 
This week has been a little tough emotionally. I think I must have had a hormone surge or something. The first 3 days of the week I was in a dark dark place. I felt like if I was pregnant one more day I would scream. I was frustrated, sore, tired and I wanted to be alone. Then today I woke up feeling back to normal. I'm in a much more positive place, and I'm feeling okay with the fact that I could be looking at a few more weeks time.
These hormones are insane!!!
 
I had a doctors appointment on Monday and my midwife said that the baby's head is as low as it can possibly go. It sitting directly on my pelvic bone. That makes a lot of sense considering how much my crotch hurts. Unfortunately because of how low her head is, when she tried to internally examine my cervix, it was so painful that she couldn't do it. So we have no idea what that is looking like.
 
Were downt to 9 days until she's due...so now were just waiting for her to decide it's the right time.

Food:

There isn't really any exciting news on the food front. I've been normally hungry. Nothing crazy.
 
This past weekend I made 11 frozen crock pot meals, for us to break into once the baby is born. They are extremely convenient. Basically you just put all of the ingredients into a gallon ziplock bag, write instructions and anything else that should be added at the time of cooking, and then freeze it. When you are ready to cook it, just take it out the night before, to thaw, then toss everything into your crock pot in the morning, and let it cook.
 
Training:

I've been walking 4 miles a day with the dogs, and going to the gym 5 days a week. At the gym I stick to the elliptical and strength training. I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to spin this weekend. I want to because I love the high intensity workout...and right now it's the only high intensity workout I get. However, because of the baby's head I'm so uncomfortable when I sit and after I get up from sitting for a while, I feel like my bones are going to break apart. I don't know that I want to put myself through that.
 
If I were a reasonable person I would go to class and leave if it got to bad. But I'm far too competitive/ridiculous/proud to ever leave in the middle of class...so if I start the class, I'll need to finish. Gotta love that ego.
 
Pounds Gained: 30
 
Clothes: I'm so ready to wear normal clothes again. I feel like I've been cycling through the same 6 things for months. My belly is starting to hang out of all of my shirts. Even maternity tops. Sixty percent of the time I look like a trucker.
 
Signs of labor: There are tons of websites and articles that write about different "signs" that your body is preparing for labor. I have had every single one for almost 2 weeks. My body must be very efficient at preperation. Let's hope it's as good with executing the task.
 
Things that were way harder than expected: Setting up the car seat. That thing is made for geniuses. How can such an important detail have so many weird instructions?!
 
Things we need: For the past few weeks I've been feeling like we couldn't possibly need anything else. We have EVERYTHING and more. But, as this tiny human grows, and becomes not so tiny, I'm thinking we may have bought too many newborn diapers. If this beast get's to be 9 pounds before she comes out, she'll likely explode right through them...not to mention she will likely snap me in half on the way out. I should have known better than to anticipate having a small child. My husband is pretty much the tallest person I know.
 
Catching up: Now that my personal training course is over, and I have all of this free time, I've been catching up on reading. I love to read...but I have a tough time when I find myself with other responisibilites, to be able to relax and enjoy a book. The past few months I've been so caught up in the NASM course, that I wouldn't let myself touch another type of reading material. But nowwww, I have time to read to my hearts content.
 
What do I like to read? I love history and historical fiction.
 
Homeopathic remedies: In preperation for labor I've been doing some small preperations. Two to three times per day I drink a combination of Red Raspberry Leaf tea and Nettle Leaf tea. The RRL tea helps tone the uterus for labor and the NL tea helps with bleeding after delivery.
 
Happy Friday everyone!!!

 

 
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