Wednesday, May 11, 2016

annarose's birth

I have sat down many times to share this story, and each time I felt hesitation. Either it was too wordy or too sappy or too technical. So I am just going to type, try not to over think it, and see what comes out.
I was feeling pretty good late in my pregnancy, aside from moving slowly, sleeping troubles and horrid heartburn. The baby (we chose to not find out the sex) was head down, and at my 38 week appointment, my doctor said I was about one centimeter dilated. I now know this is meaningless, really, because a woman can be a little dilated for weeks. But at the time, I was thinking labor would happen soon. I just had a feeling, that although I was due June 3rd, that I was going to have a May baby.
On Sunday, May 24th, I started having some mild contractions. They were not consistent or particularly strong, but I was hardly able to sleep that night. Things continued to become more consistent and stronger, until my water broke at about 8am on Tuesday morning. I called the hospital, got ready, had something to eat, and we headed to out.

I never wrote out my birth plan, apart from jotting down a few things and discussing them with my mom and husband. The general plan was to have only necessary interventions, and I was aiming for no epidural, but was open to my plan changing. I am going to try and keep this brief, as I know I can get wordy and a lot happened. Of course a lot happened, I birthed a person!
First, my nurse could tell from the looks of things when water broke that there was meconium in the fluid. It's not unusual, but means that the baby is at risk of swallowing it, which means the little one would require more suctioning after birth. I was maybe 3cm dilated when I was admitted, less if the doctor was checking. Nurses are a little more generous with their checks. I let them know my intention of no pain meds, and I felt very supported. I was so grateful to have wonderful nurses and doctors. Later, after about 14 hours of back labor, baby facing the wrong way (got her to move, hooray!), many trips in and out of the bath tub, and no epidural, the on-call doctor checked me and I seemed to be stuck around 6cm. She saw how hard I was working, and with not much progress to show for it. We started a little pitocin, which my body responded well to, and a couple hours later it was time to push! At some point during pushing, it was clear to the staff that I had grown a big baby, and as delivery grew closer, more and more nurses and staff came in. I think there were about a dozen of them. I was pushing and pushing, and hardly any progress. We had a complication called shoulder dystocia, when the baby's shoulder is trapped in the mother's pelvis. Sometimes, doctors have to break the baby's collarbone to get them out. It is a scary complication, so don't over google it. I'm glad I didn't know much about it until after she was born.

The doctor explained to Terry that there may not be time for him to cut the cord, and that's what happened. After 3 hours of pushing, when I felt AnnaRose be born, the doctor quickly cut her cord and passed her to the respiratory therapist. I was asking, boy or girl, and they were working on her. It was scary, but I was so blissful and relieved and was confident she was getting good care. After what seemed like forever, we learned she was a girl and heard her little cry. And she indeed was a big baby. Almost 11 pounds! I couldn't wait to hold her; while I was being patient, she was failing her APGAR test, and they were concerned about some possible nerve damage or broken bones from her being stuck in my pelvis and the aggressive delivery. It was about 4am, and they hurriedly held her in front of my face for thirty seconds before taking her to the NICU for observation. There, they found another complication: low blood sugar. Meanwhile, I was having a hell of a time with a postpartum hemorrhage. Seriously, are we done with trauma yet? A few hours later, I headed to the NICU to really meet my daughter. I have never been so happy, tired, joyful, grateful and hungry all at once. We nursed and snuggled from less than an hour before I had to go move to the mother and baby room. I told AnnaRose I'd see her soon. At that point, I didn't know when.

After I got settled into the mother and baby room, I kept asking everyone to bring me my baby. And finally they did. They wheeled her in around noon, fresh from her first bath. What else can I say, she's a miracle and so worth everything. I will say that I still struggle at times with the trauma we experienced in those first hours and days. It is hard to have a nurse feed your baby before you get to try, and it is hard to watch your little one's foot get poked every few hours and hope she passes her blood sugar tests (she didn't). On Thursday, at one day old, she was admitted into the NICU to work on getting her sugar up. And that's a story for another post.
If you're still reading, thank you! If you are a mama, have you written your birth story? 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

these past six months

AnnaRose at 5 months, photos by Carly Bish Photography

These past six months have been the absolute best. This girl is amazing, and she arrived at the perfect time. I'll just become a mound of gush if I keep writing about how awesome she is, so I'll move onto the difficult stuff. And I'll preface this all by saying this is by saying I'm packing a lot of information into this one.

Following AnnaRose's birth, I healed remarkably well. Her delivery was traumatic (still writing my birth story), but I felt great, all things considered. About 10 weeks postpartum, however, I was on my way to the emergency room with a familiar pain. 10 years ago, I had this similar, extreme pelvic pain. Suddenly, I'm in the ER with my mom, refusing to sit down, screaming for someone to help me and give me drugs. Now, I am not a person who pops a pill for a pain easily. I had no epidural. So this was intensely painful, clearly. It was the same diagnosis from 10 years ago: dermoid ovarian cysts.

I've dealt with these dermoid cysts for the last decade. I had the first round removed then, and they returned within several years. My current doctor explained that these growths are often so incorporated into the ovarian that it can be difficult to remove the whole cyst. So, chances are, some cyst tissue was left behind when my old doctor did the surgery back then. Those cysts were around 10 cm each. And unlike other ovarian cysts, dermoids have no known cause. And the treatments are pretty much "watch and wait" or removal.

This time around, I have known about these cysts for the last 5 or 6 years. They were small and not causing me pain, so we monitored them with ultrasound and MRI prior to me getting pregnant. They were around 4 cm, so my doctor gave the OK to get pregnant. Well, they grew pretty significantly while I was pregnant. And now I'm in the same situation with these as I was in 2005.

A few weeks after that hospital visit, I was admitted for pancreatitis and gallstones. The took out my gallbladder. I was away from AnnaRose and it sucked. Just as I recovered from that, I was in the ER again in October for the cysts. So, I met with my doctor to schedule surgery, because this things ain't going away. They are coming out on Friday, December 11. And there is a chance one of the ovaries might be coming out too.

Clearly, this is A LOT. Really, the past year and a half has been a lot for us. Getting pregnant, two layoffs, childbirth, broken washing machine, and two surgeries in less than three months.

Sometimes, I'm afraid to share the challenges, because I don't want to come off as ungrateful. I don't want to complain, because I am truly happy and grateful, especially for a healthy, happy baby. But I have learned that struggle and gratitude are not mutually exclusive. That we can be grateful and joyous, and anxious and fearful, all at once. And the more I keep the struggles and fears to myself, the more alone I feel.

Unlike the gallbladder removal, this surgery can't be done laparoscopically, so I'm looking at a bit more recovery time. I'm thankful for a non-emergency procedure, which we can plan for as much as possible, and I'm thankful for the most zen baby on earth. She just rolls with all this.

If you are still reading this, thank you. Really. Is there a challenge or fear you are dealing with? Share it in the comments. Lets encourage and support each other, OK?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

three + four months

I take time each week to write a bit about AnnaRose - how she's changing, any fun stories of things we do together, and my experience as a new mom. This is a collection of those writings, in a letter to my daughter.


I must tell you how awesome you are. You are such a happy, easy going baby. No matter what struggles us adults have, you remain unfazed. I'm just in awe of you everyday.
These past couple months, you have changed so much! You love to watch the world around you. For you, everything is new and interesting and it is such a joy for me to watch. At three months old, you got your first cold and faced it like a champ. When you and I are feeling up to it, we like to go out for lunch, and you impress everyone you meet with you chill demeanor. You also get many complements on your hair. You've already visited Pike Place Market and the Fremont Bridge, and I'm sure many more Seattle landmarks will soon follow.
When you have a baby, everyone tells you to treasure the moments, because they grow up so fast. And it is true, and I want to stop hearing it. I don't want to hear how you'll be walking and talking before I know it or how you'll be playing in the yard and riding a bike one day soon. I want to slow it all down, even just a bit, because I just can't process how much you grow each day. Of course, when we get there, teaching you to ride a bike will be fun and joyful and necessary. But for now, let's stick with planning brunch this Sunday and save all that growing up stuff for later, Baby.


Thanks for reading my monthly Rosie Letters. It is how I pause and savor these moments.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

two months

I take time each week to write a bit about AnnaRose - how she's changing, any fun stories of things we do together, and my experience as a new mom. This is a collection of those writings, in a letter to my daughter.

AnnaRose at 7 weeks, photo by Carly Bish Photography

Rosie Girl,
This month, you are giving all the smiles. We love it! Trying to get you to smile is one of our favorite things, but it doesn't usually work. You do it when you feel like it and that is OK. You've got a mind of your own already. And those little baby coos, which you like to do while we change your diaper, there is almost nothing cuter. As you reached the two month mark, you have started "conversing" with us. You love music. I made you a mellow playlist with Ben Folds and Sam Cooke songs, but you usually prefer us singing to you. Some of your favorites are "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," "Sing" from Sesame Street, "Careless Whisper," and anything by James Taylor. But really, I can sing play-by-play of anything I'm doing and you seem to enjoy it.
I just love being your mom. It is hard, at times, to follow your lead; to be patient, to stay awake, to not get stuff done. It's hard for a second, and then it isn't hard at all, because you are amazing to watch and I don't want to miss anything.
This month, we are really getting to know you: Hold me, sing to me, don't count on me napping. Your daddy had some time off before starting a new job this month, and you two really got to bond. It was awesome. You, our girl, are awesome.

Thanks for reading my monthly Rosie Letters. It is how I pause and savor these moments.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

one month

I'm playing a bit of catch up here. AnnaRose is now over two months old, so I will be sharing her one month and two month updates right away, and then I hope to get in a flow. We shall see!

I take time each week to write a bit about AnnaRose - how she's changing, any fun stories of things we do together, and my experience as a new mom. This is a collection of those writings, in a letter to my daughter.

My little Rosie,
One month old, and we wonder what we did with our time before you arrived. You bring everyone around you so much joy - even if you spend much of your time asleep! You are a very content baby; being fed by me is what you want the most. We've made a lot of progress with breastfeeding since coming home from the hospital and I'm proud of both of us! We both had some learning to do with that, but you are doing great, kiddo.
I was suprised at how quickly you were able to grab for things - one week old, and you were pulling at my hair and glasses. By two weeks, you were lifting that adorable head up a little at a time, and already having a signature "look." It is a slightly mad looking, very thoughful scowl. You are without a doubt, my daughter.
I'm so proud of you. You are sleeping well, eating great, and growing. Those are your only jobs right now. But, even if you have trouble in these areas, or challenges with anything, I'd still be so proud.
Baby girl, you are the best gift I ever got. I'm not going to lie to you - those first 3 weeks were tough. Feeding you around the clock, very little sleep, and making sure to take care of myself too was very challenging. But you, AnnaRose, you are worth a million billion sleepless nights.

Thanks for reading my monthly Rosie Letters. It is how I pause and savor these moments.

Friday, July 31, 2015

life lately

Maternity and family photos by Carly Bish Photography

These pictures say it all. AnnaRose is here, and we are obviously so in love with her. Her entrance into the world was a difficult one (more on that later), but we are pretty well settled into this new life as parents. I have several stories to share coming up, including our birth story and monthly updates on our girl. When I get the chance to actually share those stories depends entirely on this baby girl, since she kind of needs me all the time ;) My hope is to better document life in this space; to write more things down before I forget these moments. And I think maybe my baby girl will enjoy looking back at it one day.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

big changes

A lot has happened since I last wrote in this space. I am about two weeks away from this baby's due date. And I'm feeling so many different things.

I am as ready for this as I could imagine being. I have been splitting my time between resting and nesting, organizing all the baby things, and cleaning forgotten spots in this house. We call this little person I'm growing Human Baby, and we can't wait to meet him or her!

I plan to share more about this pregnancy in retrospect. There are some stories to tell :)