Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Birth Story

Here is the birth story!

On April 10th I was 37 1/2 weeks pregnant and at 12:30 am my water broke while I was sleeping. It was just like being in a movie! Just a little bit of water leaked out so I went to the bathroom and prayed that if this was the real deal God would make it obvious. Sure enough, I stood up and the leak turned into a steady stream. I woke Garland up (who handled the whole situation like a champ, definitely the calm one of the two of us!) and we started packing our last minute items (we already had a lot of stuff packed). We checked into triage around 1:15 and they had me do a test to make sure my water broke. This was ironic because in the minutes I spent waiting for the test to be done a puddle had formed around my ankles because I was leaking so much fluid! At 2am they finally cleared us for full-on labor and measured me at 1cm dilated and 0% effaced (at this point we knew it would be a long day). We moved to a Labor and Delivery room and starting making all the calls to the grandparents and sending texts to our friends.

We tried to sleep some throughout the night, but between the uncomfortable couch for Garland and the contractions I was having, we didn't even get a wink (we were way too excited). The grandparents started showing up around 3am and we were having a really happening party! By 7am I had not progressed any so they decided to start Pitocin and estimated that I would be in labor for at least another 8-10 hours. I made it through about an hour of Pitocin contractions before asking for the epidural and this was a GREAT decision! I could feel my legs but I didn't feel any pain, and I thought getting my IV put in hurt much worse than getting my epidural put in (I say "to each their own" when it comes to deciding on whether to use pain meds during labor or not, but I will tell you this, if you are going to have a long labor or if they have to use induction meds, I would DEFINITELY recommend it!). Another benefit of the epidural: It killed my appetite, which was a total blessing because the only thing making me grumpy at this point was being hungry and eating only ice chips!

Fast forward to 10am and I had progressed to a 2.5 and 70% effaced. By noon I have reached a 4 and 90%, so things were beginning to move quicker (the nurse said getting to 4 is the longest part). Here is where we enter what I now refer to as "the dark hours." I started feeling some pain from my contractions (which I hadn't felt since I got the epidural) and called the nurse in, who said it wasn't unusual to start feeling a little pain as the contractions progressed. She hooked me up to the epidural push pump and told me I could pump extra medicine every 15 minutes into my direct epidural line for an extra kick. I started pushing the button but for the next 45 minutes the pain only got progressively worse. At this point the pain was getting so strong that we kicked everyone out of the room, turned off the lights, and Garland and I sat there in the dark breathing through the contractions. The anesthesiologist came in after this had been going on for two hours and checked the push pump, which was working fine. He then gave me a speech that can basically be summarized as, "labor can be painful, you probably just have low pain tolerance and need to suck it up." As he was leaving, he turned to the nurse and said we should check to make sure the epidural line was still in my back, as a few and far between times he had seen it fall out. Sure enough, they flipped me over and all the epidural medicine was pooled under the tape and the epidural line wasn't in my back whatsoever. At this point I'm having contractions every minute to minute and a half and I'm bent over the bed waiting for him to reinsert it and he decides NOW is a good time to mull over how it came out. He kept asking if we'd shoved a pillow down by my back or moved the blanket weird and I just wanted to scream WHO THE FREAK CARES PUT IT BACK IN!!! They finally put it back and within 15 minutes I felt relief. They measured me right after that (at 2:30pm) and I was at a 7 and 90% (from what I've been told from other moms, contractions at a 7 while on Pitocin are nothing to sneeze at. This actually secured my choice to get an epidural because I got to experience labor without medicine and liked it much better before!).

By 3:30 the party was back on and I was feeling great again, so I was really surprised when the nurse told me I was at a 10 and 100% and we were ready for Titus to get here! AHHHHHH!!!!! Everyone left the room and they put me in the stirrups and it was all I could do to keep from giggling because I was so nervous and was I really going to push a baby out of me?! The nurse started me on my pushes and after about 10 minutes my doctor arrived (I got lucky and delivered during the day so I got to deliver with my prenatal doctor). Once Dr. Mason had me pushing things got a little strange. From the combination of low blood pressure, not eating for 20 hours, and not sleeping, I started having what they call "vasovagal episodes" which is a fancy name for my heart rate dropping so low I would pass out. Y'all, I was PASSING OUT DURING LABOR. It was the strangest thing, I would be pushing and when I would wake up only a couple of seconds would have passed, but I would just hear my doctor saying, "You HAVE to push." Garland told me later that when I would pass out my head would fall back to my pillow and he just thought I was giving up! Ha! I finally worked up the words to tell them I was passing out and my doctor gave me a couple more breaths between pushes and I didn't pass out any more after the first 3 times.

At 4:16pm after 18 minutes of pushing Titus James Autry was born into the world with a head of hair that would make a grown man jealous. He was born face up and came out so fast that Dr. Mason literally had to drop to a knee to catch him because he FELL. OUT. Titus was 6lb 3oz, 18 inches long, and I will forever remember praying for that first cry. I can't say enough about how incredible my husband was throughout the whole process, he did exactly what I needed him to do and was an amazing daddy from the first moment on. While they were stitching me up (I turned to my doctor in my delusion and said, "Okay doc, what's the damage?" he told me I had a 2nd degree tear which I was glad I couldn't feel!) Garland went and stood with Titus and the nurses and brought pictures to me on his iphone. I had tears streaming down my face and just kept praising our faithful God for giving us this baby we had prayed so long to be able to conceive.

I don't think I have ever been more thankful in my whole life than in that moment.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The First Two Weeks

Warning: This blog includes details of how a woman's body responds to delivery and breast feeding. Everything is strictly scientific and PG, but don't read on if it freaks you out!

Some people might get to the two week mark with their newborn and say, "I can't believe it's already been two weeks!" But maybe there are some of you out there that have felt like me and it seems like the first two weeks of mommyhood has lasted 6 months. It's not a reflection of love (or lack thereof) for my son, but rather a statement about how difficult it is to become a parent. Let me explain.

My labor and delivery experience was incredible (I'll blog the birth story soon) and I would do it five times over (all 16 hours) to have been able to skip the last 14 days. I know this sounds harsh, but I want to be really honest with myself about my personal journey with Titus. We went home 24 hours after delivery (first mistake, stay in the hospital the extra day if you have a tear or a long labor). The first couple of days were SO EASY. Titus had to be woken up every 3 hours to feed and went right back to sleep after a perfect 15 minute colostrum feeding (colostrum is the milky substance you make before your real milk comes in). My mom was staying with us to help, I wasn't to the point of exhaustion yet, and it was still fun to have friends come over.

Fast forward to day 5, my milk comes in. Without getting too graphic, I'll just say that I suffered from MAJOR engorgement and it was AWFUL (engorgement is what happens to the breasts when the milk comes in- it makes them tender, hard, and huge. It's incredibly uncomfortable). I would wake up at all hours in the night because they were so tight and sore and constantly leaked throughout the day. I had to use hot compresses before I fed to help my milk let down and then either hand express or pump to relieve some of the pressure. Then while I was feeding, my milk would let down so fast I had to constantly take Titus off and burp him/do more hand expressing because he was drowning in milk. When I finally finished feeding him I would have to use ice packs to bring down the swelling. This process happened with every feeding for about 4 days straight. I also had a 2nd degree tear, so walking and sitting were uncomfortable and I had a pretty stringent routine for taking care of my stitches which took a lot of time throughout the day.

At this point, it was starting to be less fun. We cut back on visitors. I cried every night at 8pm on the dot (another blog on baby blues to come soon). I was exhausted but I couldn't sleep. I was so uncomfortable because of engorgement that I had thoughts about quitting breast feeding altogether. But, we were making it and Garland was incredible (again, I can't wait to blog about how wonderful he's been!), so I was just trying to make it past the first two weeks, everyone kept teling me it got better if I could just make it to day 15.

Then I got sick. Really sick. On day 5 I started having nausea, low grade fever, diarrhea and completely lost my appetite (I was barely able to keep down a little apple sauce or toast for the whole day). This lasted all day and night (alongside the engorgement) until day 8 when I started vomiting uncontrollably and couldn't even keep down fluids. I called my doctor and they called me in some anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea medicine with the diagnosis of a stomach virus. I continued to throw up everything, including fluids, and it got to the point where my doctor told me if I couldn't keep down fluids by 6pm that night, they were checking me in to the hospital. At 5:45 I dry heaved but was able to keep down my gatorade so we decided to stay home. I want to be transparent at this point and say that I was ready to be checked in, I was just too tired to deal with it anymore. The only blessing was my engorgement went down and my breasts returned to normal feeling so I stopped my engorgement routine, giving me a little more time to sleep.

By day 10 (5 days into being sick) I was no longer throwing up but still not eating hardly anything and feeling nauseous with a fever. I went in to the doctor and they gave me a full check to make sure I didn't have an infection from the delivery or mastitis (an infection of the breast tissue from feeding)-everything checked out but I was so nauseous and weak they sent me to the ER for an IV drip and more testing. Everything came back normal and they sent me home where I felt hungry for the first time all week. I snacked all night and felt like things were finally looking up.

Welcome days 11-13 (over a week of being sick), and the cycle of nausea, fever, stomach cramps, feeling fine, feeling hungry, and losing my appetite completely. I was so frustrated because they didn't know what was wrong and I wouldn't stay better consistently. One day I would feel great, two hours later I would feel awful. During all this, Titus started having trouble feeding (he would grunt and strain like he was having gas during a feeding and it would take an hour for him to feed for 20 minutes) and the lactation consultant helped me to realize I needed to pump off my fast let-down milk before feeding him because his digestive system couldn't handle how quickly he was filling with milk.

The day before his two week check up my doctor finally decided to put me back on the strict breast feeding regiment (heat pads, pre-feed pumping, post-feed pumping to empty the breasts, ice packs to reduce swelling) that I had done during engorgement in case I had a blocked duct. Finally, I started to feel actually hungry for the first time in over a week. I ate a real meal and even had some ice cream for dessert. Even though it adds 15 minutes of pre-work to my feedings, it has been worth it because I finally feel better and Titus feeds better.

I can't explain how hard it has been emotionally, physically, and spiritually to get through this first two weeks. I love my son so much and he really is a pretty easy baby, but not even that could make up for this upheaval of lifestyle. I know for sure that I have been broken over the last 14 days and the Lord is my strength and my salvation forever. He has sustained me and has set my feet on solid ground. When all else had failed, my Savior remained the same.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Nursery is Finished!

I've had the nursery completed for a few weeks now, but I've been delinquent in taking finished product pictures. So here is a look into Titus' nursery, which is super tiny so I'm actually really happy with how well everything turned out!

On the wall behind the crib is the alphabet display (my step-by-step tutorial can be found here).

Since we knew we wouldn't have enough room in the nursery for multiple furniture items, we had a family friend, Mark Ceola, make us this custom changing table/dresser. It has TONS of storage and the changing table pulls out for easy changing. It can also be used as an entertainment center once we no longer need it for a nursery! (If you are interested in having something made, I can get you Mark's info)

This adorable owl pillow matches the curtains and the colors in the bedding. I custom ordered the crib sheets, crib skirt, curtains, pillow, and changing table covers all from one place on Etsy. I would definitely recommend this for future mommies! I picked out all of my fabrics and got exactly look I wanted for a great price. The Etsy shop I purchased from is Rocky Top Design

 Monogrammed blanket given to me by a sweet friend. This is seriously the softest blanket I've ever felt!

Garland and I made these book shelves out of recycled pallets. So easy! We literally sawed the pallets into three pieces and then nailed a board to the bottom so it could hold books.

Maternity photos by Brooke Robinson, which I just tied up with string and clothes pins

Rug from Urban Outfitters

Hope you enjoyed the tour--can't wait for our little man to actually live here!