Thursday, August 21, 2014

Joseph's Birth Story: Part 2

For Part 1, GO HERE.

So off we went to the hospital, since our amazing friends (John and Monica!) took over for what we were sure was going to be- at the most- a 2 hour ordeal for them to tell me I am still at 4 centimeters and not in real labor. We had done the false alarm thing with Lucy and since everything was feeling almost exactly the same as it did when I was in labor with her, I was sure this was not the real thing (and I was ok with that since I was still just 37 weeks).

We got tot he hospital, checked in, went with the nurse to triage in the wheelchair and from the time we left the house to the time we were in triage I had ONE contraction, that's like, one contraction an hour. I felt like the biggest idiot ever being wheeled along by a nurse when not in any notable labor, I'm sure she was chuckling internally at what looked like the first time mom in for false labor and about to be sent home- I know I would have been.

The nurse came into triage where I was not-laboring and did the 1000 questions thing and the monitor thing, which registered one whopping contraction the entire time I was hooked up. Then she checked the old cervix to see what was happening and let me know that I was now at...

5 centimeters!

This is where it gets exciting. The nurse had the resident check me and he confirmed her assessment then they called my doctor to see what she thought. Her recommendation was for me to either a) go home and wait for more contractions or b) stay and walk around for a couple of hours, see if contractions pick up and have them check me again and see if I was still progressing.

My initial decision was to go home, especially since walking around is when my contractions were stopping, so I got clothed and ready to go but then the nurse who had checked me expressed her desire for me to stay. She really didn't want me to give birth in the car and thought that I was probably, or at least maybe, actually in labor. She suggested we stay for an hour and re-check the situation. One hour didn't sound too bad and wasn't a problem with our babysitters so we stayed.

We walked around and around and around and since my cervix had just been checked not once but twice, things were plenty stirred up and contractions were coming fairly regularly, anywhere from every 5 to every 10 minutes.

(I really regret not taking a picture of our circle walking, please imagine one here)

The hour passed and we went back to triage for another cervical check and the nice nurse lady declared me a...


Naturally she needed to have this verified and so she had a different nurse check me again. That is 4 cervical checks in like, 2 hours! Mike just kept saying "cervix with a smile!", sometimes I laughed.

And so now my contractions were just crazy and the nurse was not ok with me going home at 6 centimeters so she called my doctor again to see what she thought. The consensus was? I was staying and could get an epidural any time I wanted.

Now, please?

They checked me into a room and got my IV started, which was incidentally the best IV experience I have ever had. Now that I was "officially" in labor, or deemed so by the hospital, I got a little nervous that my contractions would die down again. My worries were put to rest after another hour of them coming every 4 minutes or closer- it was the real deal now.

This epidural experience was a bit hairier than my last, which was nothing but glorious, and there was a good deal more "ouch! I can FEEL that and it hurts" while the anesthesiologist was putting it in. It was not my favorite part at all and maybe makes me want to try a natural birth again (God willing) in the future. I also had a lot more pain and weird shortness of breath afterwards, a little creepy, that's all.

The epidural was kicking by 5 p.m., the sun was shining through my window and I was able to rest. A day time delivery with minimal contractions, kids cared for by great friends-- I declared it my best labor thus far. My doctor came in around 5:45 and broke my water (she was able to make it to the birth since I went so early!) and around 6:15 Mike asked her if he could run to the cafeteria to grab some food. Since she didn't think I would be ready to push all too soon, she sent him off.

At 6:45, Mike was still eating downstairs and I started feeling like I needed to push. I could feel so much more with this epidural and I was a little terrified to actually push the baby out since I was pretty sure that I was not actually numb in the area where the head emerges. So at 6:45 I was feeling "pressure" and the doctor checked me and declared me "ready to go!"

But wait! No husband!

I frantically called Mike who scarfed down the remainder of his cheeseburger in record time and made it back in time for me to push around 7 p.m. Everyone suited up and it was time.

Apparently I only pushed for "3 minutes", according to one nurse. I know! I am so lucky! But let me just tell you that the area where the head emerges was indeed NOT NUMB AT ALL. It was straight up crazy to feel nothing.... nothing... nothing... a little bit of pressure... then.... EVERYTHING. ALL THE PAIN!!

But then he came out and it was all ok.

In fact it was amazing. I cried more than I have at any of the births so far and it was beautiful.

It was a really rough post-birth experience because I couldn't be with Joseph, I hadn't slept and was incredibly hormonal. (He had aspirated some amniotic fluid and had to go to the NICU for oxygen for a night, and was then held for other random things for 4 days- so lame)

Mike was so great though and in the end, everything was just fine.

So there you have it- the earlier-than-planned, rather confusing labor and birth of my first son It was really hard but ultimately, it was beautiful and I am so grateful for all of it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Joseph's Birth Story: Part 1

It seems fitting to post part one of little Joseph Pio's birth story today, his official "due date", which is now his 3-week-old birthday. It took at least a week for it to hit me that he was actually here, and the aftermath of his birth was super emotional for me (it was not that bad, I was just a sleepless ball of raging hormones), so I didn't really even want to think over the birth story. Now I have waited so long that His Royal Cuteness is no longer content to slumber anywhere other than in my arms or attached to me in some way, while I am standing and preferably moving, so posting the birth story in parts it is.

I am getting somewhat of a grip on the postpartum hormones (Mike might say otherwise), and will venture now to share the story, which is actually terribly uneventful, but still, it's a birth story.

So let's get to it.

But first, a some current Joseph pictures since part one of this story has almost no correlating pictures- sorry about that.

Pink blanket what? He's comfortable with is masculinity.


It all began the day of my 36 week doctor appointment (just like with Lucy!). I had been feeling like things were starting to get moving towards birthing, but the "Early labor" had not gotten too unbearable yet, just the typical terribly-uncomfortable-but-not-the-most-painful-they-could-be braxton hicks I had been having since I hit the 3rd trimester. I knew that the baby was very, very low because I had had an ultrasound at my 34 visit to make sure he wasn't breech and by my 36 week check I was feeling like I was probably fairly dilated, but I was 4 centimeters for 2 weeks with Lucy, so I knew better than to think anything of being "fairly dilated".

(Side note: with both Naomi and Lucy I went into labor at 38 weeks, 4 days. I went ahead and interrogated my mother while she was here helping me about when she birthed her 8 children, just to see if I could be genetically disposed to early labors. I found out that she went early with 7 out of her 8 kids and 2 out of those 7 were born at 36 weeks. So I maybe I am!)

Anyways, I went into the 36 week appointment feeling "laborish" and expecting to be at least a couple centimeters dilated, maybe even 3. Then the doctor checked me and I had the worst case of deja vu ever when, with super wide eyes and shocked voice she declared:

"Wow, you are really dilated. A good 4, and very effaced"

Pretty much the same exact thing she declared to me 2 years ago at my 36 week check with Lucy. So I geared up for a good 2 weeks of feeling like it could be "any minute" and a whole lot of discomfort. There was a bit of an issue with how progressed I was because my doctor was going out of town in just a few days and would not return until my due date. So she begged me to "stay pregnant" until she got back, which almost made me cry because: 4 centimeters for 4 weeks? Somebody shoot me please.  She did give me my records to give to her backup doctor while she was gone and in case I went into labor early:

Let the record show all of Ana's personal deats about her most personal parts. On paper. So weird. I cropped out my weight because I am that vain.

Up until the appointment the contractions were not that bad, but something really changed after the doctor checked my dilation- my contractions got really, really crazy. I stopped at the store after the appointment and was having to stop walking during some of them. I was later told by nurses in the hospital that cervical checks can really "stir things up". Ok, good to know and I might be avoiding those in the future.

So I went home that Monday, July 28th, 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant and things were very "stirred": crazy intense contractions, especially at night, keeping me from sleeping any longer than 20 minutes at a time. No fun at all.

Tuesday came, July 29th, 36 weeks 6 days, and I was exhausted from barely any sleep and lots of hard early labor contractions all night, not picking up enough to go to the hospital, but hard enough for them to keep me awake. I got through that day ok, made dinner, cried a lot to Mike about how I could not imagine doing this for 2 more weeks like I did with Lucy, but it was WAY to early to do any caster oiling or anything crazy, and went to bed to try to sleep.

1 a.m., July 30th, 37 weeks exactly and I woke up with capital C Crazy Contractions, every 10 minutes exactly, and about a minute long a piece. They never got closer together, but kept me awake the entire night. I tried to pray a lot and offer it up for this family who really needed it, but by 7 the next morning I felt like someone would need to check me into an asylum if they couldn't check me into the hospital and I begged Mike to stay around that morning to help me. I kept trying to nap during the morning, but every time I laid down to rest the contractions came back and were exactly 10 minutes apart, so no napping either. BUT, every time I got up and walked around? They stopped. Almost completely.

So... not real labor. Right? Maybe, I still have no idea.

After a brief bathroom break with some other "laborish symptoms" which I will not name because they make ME gag, I decided to just call the doctor and see what she thought.

She thought I should go to the hospital.

I was incredibly reluctant to follow her advice because I could still talk through some of the contractions AND they stopped when I was moving and doing things. I was sure it would be a false alarm for which I was not interested in getting a babysitter for the girls. I was really surprised that the doctor told me to go in because she is usually the you're-not-in-labor-unless-you're-ripping-someone's-head-off-during-contractions type. However, since she knew how progressed I was, I decided to listen.

The rest to come very soon!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

And now he's Catholic!

Today we celebrated the de-heathenization of little Joseph Pio, and it was such a beautiful day. We actually got to Mass on time, the girls were shockingly well behaved considering it was our first Mass with all four in tow (having 2 uncles, an aunt and a grandfather sitting with us helped, but still). Only one major screaming freak out was noted at the very end of Mass, I think it was during the announcements, and who cares about those anyways, amiright?

SO! He was baptized! And sweet, SWEET Katrina came with her awesome little family and offered to photograph it for us (best friend ever!). She did a stellar job.

Blissfully unaware of the coming sacramental events.

And then...

He be Catholic.
He was WIDE awake and super squirmy, more than any of this sisters were at their baptisms, and he followed up his entrance into the Church with a stinky evacuation of his system and some violent hiccups. He was just keeping things exciting.

We had no real plan of what to do with the girls during the baptism, which resulted in a lot of this:
Not too bad, just bored.
Then there was this:
Also not too bad, a baptism isn't complete without a Doc McStuffins appearance.
But then there was this:
Where? Why? Who the heck knows?

The point is, he got baptized, and there really isn't anything more important than that.
It was such a blessing to have a great priest friend and colleague of Mike's baptize Joseph and another huge blessing to have my sister Becca and her husband Phil, Joseph's godparents, make the drive in from Steubenville for the occasion. AND Mike's brother and dad made it in to meet Joseph and celebrate with us.
    ^ little Joe with his Uncle Joe                                     
Too much goodness, really.

And then we did some eating and drinking and making merry with all sorts of friends and family.

The eating and drinking would not have been possible without my amazing mom who provided us with all anyone could ever need for a great baptism party, thank you, mom!

Joseph could barely contain his excitement and partied real, real hard.

Thank you, Katrina for you great photography skills, I owe this blog post to you!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prince Joseph and His Ladies

Getting the most millage out of newborn posts as I possibly can thanks to my fabulous in-laws for taking and sending all sorts of great photos from Joseph's first day home.

For a really long time now, whenever Bernadette would tell anyone that we were having a baby boy, she would follow it up by announcing that "now we will have a PRINCE!" And so, on the 3rd of August, 2014, Prince Joseph was presented to his ladies at Castle Hahn, where he is to reside with them, and hopefully stay alive and unharmed while doing so.

Excitement overfloweth from all parties with a healthy side of apprehension for partially pictured Lucy.
                        Oldest + youngest = best ever

The first few days after his homecoming mostly consisted of Naomi and Bernadette duking it out about who would hold him first, and Bernadette winning almost every time. Then the stomach bug took her down and we wouldn't let her within 3 feet of him until it cleared, which made the fights easier to settle. Then Naomi got the bug and Bernadette did all the holding, it worked out great.

Now they are each content with a few small holding sessions per day and are both very insistent on needing to "shush him down" every single time he makes any noise at all. "Shushing him down" consists of making an increasingly loud SHUSHING noise right in his face until he a) quiets down on his own, which they are always very confident is attributable to their crazy shushing or b) starts screaming and I have to take him from them. Each happen with high frequency.

Lucy's initial reaction was more like recieving a doll that she loved but also kind of hated. Her main way of asking to hold him at first was to shout "I HAVE IT!!" and grab at him with all her might. A little terrifying to say the least, which is why we have no pictures of just the two of them when they first met. However, she has come quite a long way since that first day and now asks to hold by actually pleading "hold 'im?!" and proceeding to imitate the crazy loud shushing in his face that she sees the elders do. My favorite Lucy gem by far is when she follows me into the room where I change his diapers and stands at the end of the changing table saying "sauwwy buddy" over and over again until I'm done. It melts my heart.

     ^The parents, darn happy to be home and wire-free.

So far my preferred nicknames for Joseph include "tiny nuggins", "baby J" and "lil brudder", which you always must follow up by telling him he has "the heart of a champion". Because he does.

My saintly mother departs tomorrow and it's only one day late for Blythe's Hot Mess link-up, which is too bad because you better believe that yours truly will be the hottest mess of them all after the glut of help I have had the last 2 weeks. Prayers and alcohol are much appreciated as we attempt to settle into "normal" life plus an extra human being.

Friday, August 8, 2014

7 kinds crazy (quick takes)

I knew that going from 3 to 4 kids was going to throw me for a serious loop, but I had no idea how crazy it would actually be. I am still processing the fact that Joseph is outside the womb and still processing the events of his first week of life thus far- he is one week old, how did that happen already?!?

So I am joining Jen for some processing. Process with me, will you?

1) The NICU finally set us free this past Sunday morning and it was a glorious occasion for all parties involved. We finally got to introduce Joseph to his older mothers sisters and the battle of "MAY I HOLD HIM?!?!'s began. Unfortunately I have no pictoral evidence of the event but will be sure to inundate you when Mike's mom sends me her iphone pictures (kids and their phones these days!).
The 2 older girls' favorite activity is sitting in chairs and making up their own words to the wordless music that the baby swing plays.

It is presh and Joseph clearly loves it.

2) We got back home Sunday and Tuesday I started to get a little-- a very little -- concerned that I had been feeling somewhat short of breath since Joseph's birth. After some googling I chalked it up to being a weird side effect of the epidural, but my wonderful mother-in-law suggested I call the doctor to make sure. The doctor's answer? GET TO THE ER NOW. I was a little emotional about that answer to say the least and still having flash backs to our captive NICU days (so dramatic, Ana! I know). Anyways, Mike calmed me by reassuring me it would only be a couple hour thing, and he took me and Joseph to the ER to check to make sure things were cool.  (this is getting long, we'll make it 2)

3) After a few hours at the ER, 1 cup peed in, roughly 8 tubes of my blood stolen from my body, we were pretty sure everything was going to check out just fine and I was feeling so stupid for even going. All the blood work had come back clear except the one test that shows whether you are at high risk for a blood clot, so the most important one and the one they were actually concerned about. Since I was confident it would come back ok I was packing up our things to head out when the doctor popped his head in to tell me it was not good and I was indeed at a higher risk for a blood clot and would need to go in for a  CAT scan. This did not please high hormone Ana and I broke down, the ER staff surely thought I was nuts. Anyways, I got to have my first CAT scan ever, nurse a baby with an IV port in arm and get the good news that I do not have a blood clot. And that was that. 5 hours and too many tears later, I am fine pulmonary embolism free!

4) I am pretty sure that Lucy is having her own little bouts of PTSD from the extra NICU days and the extended ER stay and now whenever she thinks I am going any farther than 5 feet from her an insane screaming fast ensues. Also if I don't give her exactly what she wants at the moment she wants it, another screaming fest.

She is spending more time in her crib than ever before and we are coping just fine.

5) We had to say goodbye to Mike's mother yesterday and it was a lots of bitter and not so much sweet. Her presence was absolutely invaluable this past week and I am so unbelievable grateful for such a generous, nurturing mother of my husband.

It was so sad to see her go, but I am very much comforted by the fact that Joseph's early arrival made it so that my mom can come for several days this coming week. It is going to be off the postpartum hook, people.

6) Last night during dinner Bernadette got down to lay on the couch because her "tummy was hurting" and started holding her mouth like she was going to hurl. Mike grabbed her and with the speed of a cheetah on crack ran her to the bathroom where she insisted over the toilet that she DID NOT need to throw up and went back to the nice living room couch which she promptly vomited all the contents of her stomach onto. I naturally spent the rest of the evening in a paranoid hormonal fit over Joseph getting the stomach bug, well freaking out and cleaning up vomit.

7) So for now I am drinking plenteous G&Ts and snuggling this sweet baby boy to my heart's content, telling myself that it is all going to be fine, because it is.

When the girls are not around. And yes, I wear a nursing cover at home, because I cannot handle the glut of boob questions during every. single. nursing. session. "So.... there are holes there?? Where does the milk COME FROM???" etc...

That is that, party people. Have a fabulous weekend and please pray that we are done with the hospital FOREVAAA!!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Look Who's STILL Here!!

I know what I boasted in my previous post about being discharged to go home, but let me take a hot second to vent about this, because once it is over I never want to speak of it again: we are STILL IN THE NICU.

Mike has a made a few accurate comments concerning our NICU stay, which I will share with you to demonstrate the situation:

"It's like the Hotel California, but with no champagne"

"The sign at the entrance should read 'NICU: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here' "

I know (I promise I do!) how wonderful the NICU is for babies who need it and am incredibly grateful for it in our case too since our baby was not breathing well enough on his own breathing is pretty important. The problem is that once they admit you to this place, they hover over every single tiny detail of your infant, and if it does not please them, YOU DO NOT LEAVE. Joseph's breathing has been perfectly fine since the morning after his birth, they have just a new thing every day to "be concerned over" and then refuse to discharge us.

My lone wonderful visitor, Sarah with the coolest baby on the NICU block. She brought me a giant bag of giant peanut M&Ms, bless her.

And one more of Mike and his boy, because there will never be enough of these:

I will not bore you with the details, but rest assured, everything is absolutely fine- we are just pretty sure they are never going to let us leave. We were supposed to be discharged yesterday and then were told we had to spend one more night and thought we would leave this morning, but now I type this like so:
^Glowing baby and peanut M&Ms at my side trying to not completely lose my cool over them making such a fuss over his supposed jaundice and making him (and subsequently me) stay yet another night.

They have quoted "billi levels" to me that I know my other kids had after they were born but since he is already admitted, they are "not allowed" to let him leave yadayada... Meanwhile his 3 older sisters are absolutely dying because they STILL HAVEN'T MET HIM-- kids with colds + 2 pound babies in NICU = no-- and meanwhile I am kind of a wreck about not seeing the girls, but especially little Lucy, for so many days.

I am such a baby about this, especially considering how much you other amazing moms (Jen, Kathryn, Bonnie, who else? SO many!) have experienced with looooong stays. I am so happy that the concerns they have here aren't actually concerns to me, AND they are letting me sleep in a bed here instead of just a reclining chair- huge plus! I am just sending this little SOS for prayers for my sanity out into the Saturday night blogosphere void, because that is my M.O.

Baby Joseph is doing great and I am well too, but when this whole thing is over I will refer to this place always and ever hereafter as "The Place We Do Not Speak Of", and leave it at that.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Look Who's Here!!

On Wednesday at about 11 a.m., Mike and I drove to the hospital and I vented to him about how ridiculous it is that with our 4th kid, we were about to be sent home from the hospital with a false alarm, just like last time. At 7:15 p.m., Joseph Pio was born. More on that later.

He is super healthy and everything has been great other than a short stay here in the NICU with more cords and machines and room hopping than I ever imagined. There were some slight complications due to a combo of amniotic fluid being aspirated and him being only 37 weeks.

^ Happiest dad in all the land.

He spent until late last night looking like this:

Which made nursing interesting. But is now resting peacefully sans stupid infant IV (worst thing ever!!) and no more nose tubes!!

He is the sweetest thing in the entire world and I am wrapped tightly around his tiny fingers already, and we will be taking him home today! We could not be more blessed.

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers, you are the best!