Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Latham's Delivery

I promise not to be too graphic with this, but I wanted to share Latham's birth story and have something to read should I be contemplating another baby Copeland anytime soon.

No, I did not yell "I hate you, Adam" or "Don't ever touch me again" during labor. In fact, I'm quite happy that, without my pregnant belly, Adam and I can actually cuddle again. Anyway, I certainly have heard the mantra that "it's all worth it." But I'm a bit more hesitant to think about birth in terms of "worth it." If that's what you think, fine, but I dislike that phrase. One, it assumes that there's some sort of hellish pain that you must undergo to appreciate your child. Adam appreciates Latham just as much as I do, and he didn't have to undergo physical pain. Two, I refuse to believe that a higher being would require pain in order to "prove" any amount of worth or love. So, call me crazy, but numerous people have been saying "oh, he must be worth it" and I just want to clarify that I love Latham but I do not associate him or blame him for any amount of pain. In fact, nobody is worth the amount of pain involved with childbirth. And that's why I'm glad that Latham didn't cause the pain, Adam didn't cause the pain, etc. I have no one to blame for the pain and that's a good thing.

I do have someone to thank for taking away the pain--the anesthesiologist. After she gave me the epidural, I told her she was my favorite person in the world. And, wow, she was. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I reached 37 weeks and was pleased that I made it full term. Week 38 ticked by too quickly--lots of papers to grade and stuff to move in/get situated. Yes, moving in March when you're due in April isn't the best idea, in case you were planning to do that. But we had lots of help and my parents came during Week 39 (it was my dad's spring break), so they painted our library and planted plants and were just awesome. I think they kind of hoped I might go into labor while they were here and it could save a 10-hour trip. They left on Thursday, so they did just miss it.

At my 39 week appt, I was a whopping 1 cm dilated. Yeah, I was pretty sure I'd just keep going for another 2.5 weeks and have a Shakespeare birthday baby. 'Twas not to be. That Thursday (April 5th) that my parents left, I finally firmed up who would cover classes for me if I went into labor. My students were doing presentations and working on rewrites the rest of the semester, so I did do a good job of planning so I could miss class without any problems. I did have their final papers to grade and I wanted to get that done that weekend so I wouldn't have to worry about them. The best laid plans, though....

On Friday, I worked at the Arboretum, I graded papers, and I tried to do some housework/finish up the nursery/pack my hospital bag. Seriously, that hospital bag just didn't want to be packed. I always found excuses not to do it. I've known friends who had it all packed and organized in the second trimester, but that just wasn't me. The pajamas I would want at the hospital were my usual ones, same with clothes and fluffy socks and my toiletries. I felt like a loser because I knew I would hate myself if I was rushing around collecting stuff while in labor, but I was annoyed to have a bag where I was still using everything on a daily basis. It felt like I was living out of a suitcase! However, I didn't have to feel like that long.

Saturday, with few plans other than cleaning and grading (and trying to sort books in the library), I was planning to sleep in until 9. Imagine my annoyance when I was up at 4 with (probably Braxton-Hicks) contractions and a general sick feeling. I tried to lay down, but it just wasn't comfortable; I got up for good at 7am. I was grumpy, tired, felt like I had too much to do to be sick, and just plain bad company. Poor Adam. We met with a dog trainer at our house from 9:30-11; she was great and gave us a lot of good advice to use for Oliver. The best part was that the contractions seemed to not be as bad since my mind was distracted. After the dog trainer left, Adam and I went to a baby consignment sale at one of the local elementary schools. It was great and we found some fantastic deals. The contractions were hurting a bit more, but the fun of shopping kept the pain at bay.

We headed home and the pain was increasing in frequency and amount. We started timing the contractions and they weren't exactly regular, but they were happening 4-6 minutes apart and lasting for 1-3 minutes. I didn't know how to distinguish Braxton-Hicks from "real" contractions, and so I didn't want to go into the hospital and be sent home.  Anyway, in 2007, I had an emergency appendectomy and I measure my pain by that standard. (Or, at least I did. I now measure it by labor pain.) Anyway, the pain I was feeling at noon on Saturday felt just slightly less than when I decided I needed to go to the hospital in 2007. It was at a wretched level, since I was pretty sure I would die if I didn't drive myself to the hospital in 2007. Fast forward to 2012 and, luckily, Adam was patient with me and drove me to the hospital this time. But first, he had to throw together his hospital bag; he hadn't been too keen to prepare that either.  :)

We got to the hospital, checked in, got to the room, had all the measurements and monitors hooked up...and I was 2 cm. So, the nurse (who was WONDERFUL) had me walk around, soak in the jacuzzi, rock, and do some other laboring positions. Although it still hurt, I liked doing all the different positions. And the jacuzzi really eased my back pain. They measured me again after an hour and I hadn't progressed at all.  :(  So, they called it false labor and sent me home. The nurse said we could call with any questions, and that it was a full moon...so she might see me again that night! I was still hoping that the contractions would just go away and I could plan on having my baby 2.5 weeks later on Shakespeare's birthday. But the pain did not go away...

We were hungry, so we went to Chick-fil-A and brought some stuff home. I only managed to nibble a few chicken nuggets during the next few hours, even though I knew I needed to keep up my strength. I talked to my mom, who told me that she was very slow in progressing from 0 to 6 cm with all of her labors. Apparently, with my older sister, my mom went into labor during one World Series game (my sister was born in October) and she was born during the next World Series game. Adam tried to make a joke that it was a long time until a World Series game, but I didn't find the joke very funny. My mom also said that my sister took a long time to progress to 6 cm (after that, it went fast). I was pretty disappointed in all that news and figured that it wasn't going to be happening soon--so WHY hadn't the pain stopped??

We sat on the couch and watched an episode of "Grimm." It was so freaky (and good) that it did distract me from the ever-increasing pain and contractions. I knew it was getting really bad, though, because I couldn't sit through a re-run of "Psych" (my favorite show) after "Grimm" finished. I got about halfway through "Psych" and just couldn't stand it. So, I went on a walk with Adam and Oliver. We were walking in the neighborhood, and I seriously had to stop every 2 minutes or so when the pain would just kind of wash over me. Adam was helping me maintain good breaths, but I was just getting more and more frustrated. If this wasn't labor (and they had sent me home, so it must not be real), then why was it hurting all the time and never stopping. I had had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions (and some were even more painful than what I was currenty feeling), but none had lasted so long.

After I stopped the walk due to pain, I came in and went to the bedroom. Adam tried to massage me and place a heating pad on my back. He called the hospital (on my grumpy order), but they just said they couldn't say anything definitive unless I was in there. So I struggled some more. Oddly, I found that doing the yoga "child" pose and being on all fours was the least painful contortion for my body. I felt like I was going all primitive though--I couldn't breathe, could barely talk, and just kind of tried to do an inner monologue of randomness to keep my mind distracted. I think I mumbled 10 or so parts of different Shakespeare monologues; I said the lyrics of Disney songs; I think I even tried to say some Latin declensions. My mind was trying anything it could to keep the pain banked away.

So, around 8:30 p.m., I vaguely remember feeling a spring of hatred at my situation just well up inside me. I'm fairly sure that I sounded like someone possessed when I told Adam "Call the hospital; we ARE coming in; I don't freaking (not the word I used) care if they send me home again." He called; our same nurse picked up and said she'd notify the doctor and get things ready. Adam drove me to the hospital. I know he was freaked out, though he still followed all safety rules of course. Sitting in the seat was NOT comfortable for me, so I was straining to be comfortable and breathing rather heavily. I would have LOVED for a cop to pull us over because, at that point, I would have murdered anyone who stood between me and the hospital. Actually, when we left the hospital with Latham, I noticed that there was a styrofoam cup in the front seat that had bite marks all over it. Yes, I don't remember doing it, but apparently I was biting my way through a styrofoam cup on the way to the hospital. Weird.

Adam dropped me off at the emergency entrance. The first time we had been there, we had parked and walked in together. This time, he dropped me off and there was a nurse with a wheelchair right there. They wheeled me into the check-in room and, luckily, didn't have to ask me too many questions since I still had on the admission bracelet and everything. But they did try to ask me questions to distract me, and I clearly remember barely being able to say "39" when they asked how far along I was. Two words! I could barely say two words....ugh, how did women ever have children in a field while they were working? Adam scurried in just as they started to wheel me up to the room. We got to the same room as before, and the nurse said "ok--we're going to check to see your progress. If you have progressed, do you want some...?"

I cut her off there with a resounding YES. And then I puked, which was lovely. They checked, and said I was 6 cm. The nurse said "That make sense! People usually throw up around 6 cm." Goodie. My only thought, though, was when will I get the drugs? I knew even before I got pregnant that I was going to take advantage of modern medicine and get myself an epidural. I've read the pros and cons and educated myself on all sorts of ways to deal with labor, but an epidural was the best choice for me. To each their own, but I'm not going to subject myself to even more intense pain if I could avoid it (and avoid it safely). Anyway, while we were waiting for the anaesthelogist, I think I kept muttering, "just a little longer, just a little longer." They gave me some sort of drugs in an IV, but the nurse had trouble finding my vein, so that was just a little frustrating. However, once those drugs kicked in, it was already better. Then the anaesthelogist came in. I think this was around 11:00 p.m....but I was a little out of it.

I had seen the epidural needle and knew the process, and I wasn't scared. I was a bit on edge about my scoliosis and whether that would prevent placement of the epidural or be a problem. But, it was as easy as pie--the epidural didn't even hurt going in. And Cathy was happy. Actually, Cathy was dead tired. I fell asleep and didn't wake up until 1:50 a.m. when they woke me and told me it was time to push. Adam said that he had taken a nap too. If you ask me, that's the best way to progress from 6 to 10 cm: Asleep. :)

So, then I pushed. It was odd pushing because I didn't have much feeling thanks to the epidural, but I knew my muscles and did feel like I could tell my brain to tell my muscles what to do (rather than just pushing with my muscles). That probably doesn't make much sense, but that is what it is. Pushing was a bit frustrating because I think I've watched too many Hollywood births. It's always 2 or 3 of "Oh, you're doing so well, keep pushing, it's almost there" and then the baby popped out. Everyone was super-encouraging, but I was just thinking the whole time, "c'mon, it hasn't come out yet?" And I did puke again shortly before he actually came out. I knew there would be pain and stuff, but the puking was one symptom that I didn't fully expect to be so prominent. Oh well. There wasn't any pain; it was just interesting to me that it was taking awhile. I did have to get a small episiotomy, but then Latham just slid on out really quickly. He was born at 2:57 a.m. on April 8th!

They put him on my chest, and wow, was he yelling. But he was so perfect. His Apgar score was 8 in the 1st minute and 9 at 5 minutes, so he was healthy. I'm so thankful!! And he was so little and yet so big (earlier that week, the doctor thought he might be 6.5 lbs, so she was surprised that he came out at 8 lbs 2.9 oz). So much dark hair. The most perfect little fingers, toes, eyes, nose, everything. I really couldn't believe that I (and Adam) created something so amazing. And that the nurses and doctor just assumed that I could take care of the little tyke. Wow, the responsibility!

I love my little Latham Patrick Copeland! And I hope I haven't scared off my readers too much with my descriptions. Labor is horrid, but my little boy makes me smile! :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pregnancy: Third Trimester (to full term)

Week 28: I just have a lot of sadness in my mind. My dreams have been nightmares ranging from me dying to Adam divorcing me to Oliver & Baby Copeland getting advice from friends on how to leave me. And when I'm not dreaming horrid things, I have difficulty falling asleep. It's pretty sad.

Also, I may have gestational diabetes and I do have low hemoglobin. I'm not that surprised about my iron levels; I've always been low (not anemic, but right close to it) but my first two trimesters seemed to actually boost iron levels. However, I can just take some iron pills and that should help. Not a big deal. The gestational diabetes has me more worried. I got a 147 on the 1-h glucose test; a good score would have been 139 or below, while a "definitely gestational diabetes" score would have in the 160s. So, I'm in the middle range and have to do an intensive 3-day diet and then 3-h glucose test. I start the regimen on Sunday and my test is Wednesday, so I know I'll be freaking out. Gestational diabetes upps the odds of me having type 2 diabetes later in life, but, more troubling, it can predispose the infant to diabetes and/or obesity. Gestational diabetes can cause preeclampsia and high birth weight (larger chance of C-section) and a host of other difficulties. It stresses me out tremendously.

Week 29: Three-hour glucose test came back negative---no gestational diabetes! Thank goodness!! I was really worried about it but everything looks fine. YAY! The doctor also suggested using some straps to lessen back pain. Adam and I went and got some and they have been A MIRACLE. Of course, the straps aren't that sexy, and you can see them if I even wear a simple scoopneck, but who the heck cares. My back pain has virtually gone away!
The doctor said that most women don't start wearing these straps until the last month or so, but I don't care. I know I have back problems (hello, severe scoliosis), so I'm perfectly happy to wear something that helps me even if it's comparitively early in my pregnancy. And, oddly, wearing the straps reminds me of the days when I wore my back brace. It's intrusive; anyone can see that something doesn't look quite right (shape-wise for back brace and strap-wise for pregnancy), but I know I dealt with wearing a back brace for 5+ years, so I'm happy to wearing some straps for a few mere months.

Week 30: Dang! A lot of crazy movement is happening inside me. Our little baby apparently wants to squirm all over the place. I like feeling the movements, but it's also odd. I find myself wondering if he's moving too much or what. My bump feels a bit more solid or hard at times, which also kind of freaks me out. Speaking of my bump, it's definitely out there for the world to see. Random people have started asking what I'm having (Is "a human" the correct answer?), and, since the random people just ask without any delay or qualms, I guess it's safe to say that I look definitely pregnant. I feel big and I think I kind of waddle a bit, but I know I still have SO MUCH TIME TO GO! But, how big can I actually get? Oh, I'm a bit scared to find out!

Week 31 and 32: Insomnia. I've often had insomnia throughout my life, so maybe this symptom doesn't bother me as much as it should. But it's still annoying. I can usually fall asleep pretty quickly, but then I wake up after 2-3 hours, go to the bathroom (of course), and then lay awake for another 3-4 hours. Then I'm usually able to nod off for another 2 hours or so before my alarm pulls me out of bed. I feel sluggish during the day, of course, but the pattern just keeps repeating. And, of course, because we're buying a house and having all of those issues and questions, etc, I think too many thoughts during those insomniac night. But, on the other hand, I don't want to get up and do work or read because then I'm afraid I'm just feeding the madness.

Week 33 and 34: The heartburn is out of control. I've been eating small, multiple meals through the day; I don't eat less than 2 hours before bed; I drink plenty of liquids. However, when I lay down, it just burns. Ugh. The doctor prescribed me some Pepcid and I guess it helps a little bit.

Me and the baby in our new kitchen!

Week 35: It's been an exhausting week. We're painting the dining room and we had a few guests over already. It was GREAT fun to show some friends our house, and to see Mr. Oliver joyfully running in the yard, but I'm just not used to the limitations on my body. For instance, before my pregnancy, I never noticed how often I would grab something from the floor or clean/paint walls close to the floor. Now it's a giant production to get down on the floor...and to get back up!

Week 36: This has been a tiring week. We're moving this weekend into our new house. While exciting, it just means that there's so much to do. Sometimes, especially with the pregnancy, it just feels overwhelming. And I feel absolutely massive. Although the scale says about the same amount of weight, I feel like my bump is the size of Alaska. Sigh. My ring on my right hand started to feel really tight almost all day, so I decided to pull it off and store it until after the birth. It's the ring that I got from my parents when I was 11 or 12, and I miss it terribly. My wedding ring and watch (both worn on my left side) aren't getting any tighter, so at least I have those though.

Week 37: I'm technically full-term! My shoes still fit, but I noticed that my feet look puffy. And my ankle bones, which I have always thought were quite fetching, are fading into the rest of me. Is this cankles? Adam says I look like I have a slight swelling--like I twisted my ankle or something. But I'm not amused.

Weeks 38 and 39: Pregnancy is good training for sleepless nights, I suppose, since I have to get up every 2 hours or so. I feel (and am) huge. People have started looking scared that I might give birth during meetings or in class or while I'm in line at Target. I want to tell them that I don't think birth is exactly going to be quick.
I have been very scared about giving birth.It's a daunting task, but I'm glad to have Adam supporting me. I just hope I can tell when it's actually labor and not the Braxton Hicks contractions that I'm always feeling. I've organized everything for my classes in the event that it starts, but I'd still like to go to the 23rd. Weight-wise, I'm at 159.2. I started at 118, and I keep telling Adam that I don't want to break the 160-lb mark. We'll see if I'm able to stayunder my self-imposed limit. Ugh, gaining 42 lbs! I hope it's not too much....I feel a bit like a failure for not staying between a weight gain for 25-35 lbs. We'll see how fast (if?) it falls off.

In front of our new house (with some of the plantings that my parents did).

We're excited for baby!!!