Thursday, September 19, 2013

Breastfeeding Woes

Before I even get started, this post is not meant to become a debate (for all 2 of you who leave comments :)). I absolutely know and acknowledge that breastfeeding is the absolute best nutrition for a baby.

I've commented before that in 2010 I had a breast reduction surgery. It was not a hard decision for me to make. I knew that I was risking the possibility of breastfeeding one day and that was the one con that I battled with at the time. However, we went through with the surgery and it was seriously one of the best decisions I made. I had dealt with it long enough and wanted the surgery. It made such a huge difference in my life.

Now fast-forward to pregnancy... my entire pregnancy I hoped and prayed that I would be able to breastfeed, despite the decision I made to have the surgery. A few times, I found myself questioning if I had made the right decision to have the surgery and if it had been too selfish. While I decided I don't think that, I just hoped for the best. I looked into things I could do during pregnancy to help my supply and did a lot of research on it. Turns out, I really just had to wait and see what would happen. I had become okay with the idea of supplementing formula since it was very likely I would need to do this. However, I still hoped I wouldn't have to! We were armed with an app that would let us track her feedings and her diapers, which would tell us if she was getting enough food.

Now fast-forward to right after Vera's birth. She immediately latched and I was so happy. She wasn't crying, so I knew she was getting something. We met with the lactation consultant, in the hospital, who encouraged the paci as a training tool and a shield since Vera was thrusting her tongue and couldn't stay latched. It immediately fixed the problem and I was feeling really confident about things! We were tracking everything religiously and according to the amount of wet and poopy diapers, she was getting enough. After we got home, something changed. Granted, I was on pain killers and my hormones were likely all over the place, but I found myself really stressed over feeding. I was a hot mess, crying through practically every feeding. And when I wasn't nursing her, I was stressing about the next feeding. I was fortunate enough that everything was going so great. I barely had any discomfort and to the outsider looking in (which there weren't any of these since that's creepy), everything was great. However, I I felt so guilty that I hated it so much. I felt trapped. I couldn't drive so it wasn't like I was trying to go anywhere, but I felt like I was never going to be able to leave the house again, nor was I going to be able to be away from Vera ever again. I was working toward scheduling her, but those first few days are really unpredictable and sometimes she wanted to eat an hour after she had just eaten. I was for sure my life was over. And those sweet moments women talk about it that they have while they sit and nurse their babies... yeah, I didn't have that. It wasn't "sweet" to me and I dreaded each feeding. I seriously couldn't quit crying. A lot of it wasn't even feeding-induced but over the course of a few days I realized that the root of most of my crying was over feeding (and missing Derrick!). At Vera's first doctor's appointment, we talked about the feeding. I started crying and the pediatrician looked at me and said "Formula-fed babies can still go to Harvard". Of course, they recommend breastfeeding, and I wasn't questioning which was healthier. I knew that answer. But it was so nice to hear that. He let me know that if it was stressing me about to the point of not enjoying my baby that it's not worth it. Well, I wasn't really "enjoying" anything 3 days post-delivery so I decided to stick it out until Derrick and I could talk about it and until I knew my milk was in. Well, my milk came in and I still hated it. I finally told Derrick about how I was feeling and we really needed to talk about it. He gave me so much encouragement. I reached out to a few friends who gave me so much support. When I reached out to them, I honestly was expecting them to tell me it gets so much better and that it will be okay! However, what I heard was so different. Each of them told me that it is really hard and it's a job in itself. The conversations extended past that, but they all told me it was okay if I quit. Not that I needed their approval, but it was so wonderful to hear that breastfeeding moms understood and weren't judging the fact that I hated it. Some of them hated it too! We started supplementing a little after that. When we were out and about, I would give her a bottle. It was so freeing. I immediately felt relief and honestly, I felt like I could love on her a little more because she wasn't trapping me and I wasn't associating her with stress anymore. However, the issue still made me cry. I knew breast milk was the best and I was so conflicted since I had so desperately wanted to be able to. I felt guilty about the possibility of switching to formula when I was able to breastfeed. I was pumping as well, and was barely getting anything, so pumping a bottle for her wasn't an option either.

Fast forward to her 2 week check up. She still wasn't to birth weight and wasn't close enough. Not a huge deal, but something to watch out for. I kept breastfeeding and was giving a bottle sometimes. However, she also started sleeping a lot better this week! We had to go back after a week, and she still wasn't there. Supplementing was now something we needed to do. We did so and I also was trying some things to help increase my supply. It started working almost immediately and I was excited!! Now that I knew I could give her a bottle when I wanted to, I suddenly wanted to be able to breastfeed. Just being able to be out and about and not have to go sit in the car or in a bathroom was fabulous. I know some people are cool with whipping it out wherever they are, but I wasn't. Not even with a cover. There's an art to using that cover and I don't think brand new moms have that down just yet. So anyways... as you can tell, I couldn't make up my mind about anything. We were back at the doctor to check her weight again. Still.not.there. So now, we had to give her a certain amount at each feeding to make sure she was getting 2.5-3 ounces at every feeding. I was still breastfeeding at each feeding. I would breastfeed, give bottle, and then pump. It was a terribly long ordeal but I committed to it to see what would happen. Her sleep also turned glorious this week! At her next appointment, we finally had her to birth weight! That was just last week, so it's been such a battle! But we're there. After multiple attempts to increase my supply, it seemed like it was only getting smaller. It took me about a week to pump 3 ounces for her. Any mom knows that's insane. That should be one feeding. She was spitting up, and we were switching formula weekly to help with it. Because the possibility of acid reflux was coming up, I wanted to be able to breastfeed even more, since she never spit up that. But that's also likely because she was barely getting anything. However, the right formula has seemed to really help that issue although she does seem to be a happy spitter! Still praying it doesn't turn into reflux. Last weekend, we decided to quit fighting the battle. I truly did not have enough for her and the process of feeding, pumping, bottle was exhausting, especially when she was barely getting anything from me. At 5.5 weeks, we decided to go formula only. Which is basically what it was before that but I felt better knowing she was getting a little from me. I truly do hate that it turned out the way it did, even though in the beginning I desperately wanted to quit, but I'm just so happy to finally have a set plan! I was able to quit cold turkey, which also says a lot. I never had to pump or wean it and I never hurt or got uncomfortable.

I write all of this so that other moms know breastfeeding isn't the picture perfect scenario it seems to be. I surely thought it was! I knew it could hurt but that it was temporary. I didn't know how trapping it felt and I had NO idea other moms felt that, too! For myself, I found that after the baby blues started to disappear, it didn't seem as bad. I still didn't get the warm fuzzies from it, but I could do it and be okay with it. I'm glad I pushed through and can have good thought about it now, and with (possible) future babies, I'll try again, but right now, I'm thankful for formula, and that's okay!

and that's the last mommy post on my list.... (for now :))

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The First 2 Weeks

When I was still pregnant, I was getting so tired of all the comments from people... "Enjoy your sleep now", "your life is about to change", "enjoy time with your husband, it'll never be the same", etc. It was frustrating and no one really had anything good to say. I often rolled my eyes (after they weren't looking) at the comments. Now that I'm on the other side, I get what they were saying. The sleep is different, our lives have changed, and my time with Derrick is definitely limited. No one can fully prepare you for what you are about to embark on. I thought the sleep I was already lacking while pregnant wouldn't be any different, but I was wrong. There are nights I would gladly go back to that constantly-interrupted, have-to-pee sleep. I would love to have more alone time with Derrick. In those first 2 weeks, honestly, I wondered what the heck we had done. Before I go further, I want to acknowledge that I am only speaking about the first 2 week of sweet Vera's little life. Well, really a week and a half. Everything at the hospital was totally fine! Things have gotten SO much better and so many of the things I was feeling no longer hold true.

As mentioned 74 times before, Vera came at a really bad time in terms of work schedules, specifically Derrick's. RA training is his only real time to get to to know the new RAs and that's of great value. We had decided early on that I would go and stay with my parents while he did RA training. I could have stayed at home, but his hours are very long during these 2 weeks and he's exhausted. I didn't want Vera to be keeping him up at night and I didn't want to do it alone all day. Luckily, my parents were thrilled at the idea of us being there :) As anyone who follows me on social media knows, I couldn't wait for Vera to come. After she did (late, I might add), I saw why she didn't come early. I would not have made it 2 full weeks without Derrick.

That first week at my mom's house was terrible. I had all the support I could imagine. My mom was willing to be up all hours of the night to help me, she cooked for me, and listened to my constant complaints and concerns. However, it was still awful. Like I said, no one can fully prepare you for what it about to happen. I was tired, excited, and overwhelmed. More importantly, I missed Derrick fiercely. That was new for me. Sure, I love him to pieces, but I have never been the needy type and I was miserable being away from him. The baby blues kicked in right when we left the hospital and I would cry at the drop of a hat. I pretty much cried through 90% of her feedings (more on that later!), anytime I would think about her eating, and anytime I thought of Derrick. As a new mom, you're thinking about feedings a lot. And when I wasn't, I was thinking of Derrick. And when I wasn't doing either of those, I was likely sleeping. So pretty much, I cried and slept for 2 weeks. I can't really put into words what it was that was so terrible. Mostly, I think I was experiencing some serious hormonal changes, the Lortab was making me slightly crazy, I had a brand new baby that I didn't know what to do with, and I was away from my husband. I so desperately wanted her on a schedule. I think a lot of it stemmed from that, too. I had read Babywise (I know it's controversial, you can hold the comments!) and was ready to go. I thought I would be able to train her in her first week of life. Any parent reading this is likely smiling right now. It probably took me those 2 weeks to realize (with the support of family and friends) that those schedules are goals, and not something I can force immediately. I was still hanging onto it though and anytime she would veer from it, I would cry, thinking how am I ever going to do anything again? I was seriously convinced I'd never be able to work again (since I work from home) and that she would never be on a schedule. In my mind, my life was over. I need a schedule and I definitely needed my child on one! Derrick would call me and I would just starts bawling. It was pitiful!

When I was home with Derrick, things got better, but I was weaning from the pain meds and I was getting a little more used to things. However, it was still tough. Feeding was a huge stressor for me (again, more on that soon!), and we were still just trying to figure her out. All of our conversations revolved around her and her eating and sleeping and it was overwhelming. I thought we would never be able to have normal conversations again and we would never be able to just lie on the couch together and watch TV again. Sure, those things are limited now, but they do happen! And I cherish them so much more! We have to make a conscious effort for our conversations not to be all about her. It's taking time but it's getting there. 

People tell you all babies do is eat, sleep, and poop. This is true. But what those people don't tell you is that while your baby is eating, you're stressing out about it. While your baby is sleeping, you're wondering how long it might be before they wake up or why they won't sleep more than 30 minutes or why they want to be held all the time. While your baby is pooping or not pooping, you're worrying about why it's so much or why they haven't pooped in 4 days, examining it for color, consistency, and amount. Which by the way, who knows if it's a small, medium, or large amount as a new parent. Who defines that anyways?! It's poop and it's disgusting whether it's small, medium, or large. ugh! (by the way, I definitely know if it's small, medium, or large now:) ).

I write this as a reminder to myself that the beginning is awful. I've already forgotten everything it entailed, but I don't want to forget that it was the hardest 2 weeks of my life. IF we decide on more children in the (very distant) future, I need to remember that it gets better.... so much better... but I also need to remember that it was so difficult. I admit that a lot of it was my expectations. I wasn't fully prepared to deal with all the emotions, as I thought all that babies did was eat, sleep, and poop, so how hard could it be?

Derrick and I have real conversations about life now, we lie on the couch together, we go out alone, I get out alone, I'm not trapped, I get sleep, I don't do laundry all day, and while we are still working to figure out Vera's schedule, it's definitely much more defined than it was. I am sane again and I don't just sit around and cry anymore. Whew! I thought that would never end! Sure there have been a couple days where I was brought to tears by her neediness, but that's so much different than thinking my life was over.

To all the new moms out there and soon-to-be moms, don't be fooled by all the negative comments. Sure, things are about to change, and I'll be the first to tell you how terribly difficult and draining those first 2 weeks are, but I'll also be the first to tell you that it gets better and for me, all the changes have been good. I value my marriage so much more, I treasure the moments alone with Derrick, I have a compassion for people I didn't have before, I live in the moment more than ever before, I'm realizing life isn't all about schedules (although I will get her on one!), and most importantly, I survived the first 2 weeks and I couldn't be more in love with our baby girl.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Labor and Delivery

So I can't promise this won't turn out to be a mom blog :) I fully intend it to be more about our lives, but right now, this new little girl is our life! I have a few posts I'll be sharing in the next few weeks, but then I promise it won't always be about baby :)

I have been anxious to write about labor and delivery since being in the hospital! Mostly because I don't think I ever read anything about it, other than books, but I wish I had seen something more personal, more hopeful. This will be long so prepare yourself... Let's start from the beginning....

As I have mentioned before, out sweet girl was due during the worst possible time of the year in regards to both of our jobs. More specifically, she was due during the worst week for Derrick's job... RA Training. There is a camp they all go to for 2 nights during the first week of training. I had previously not wanted Derrick to go since it was past my due date and I didn't think he would have cell service, but since I wasn't making a ton of progress and it looked like Vera was staying put and it was really important to him, we decided to let him go. I would stay at my parent's house for those 2 nights. The morning he was getting ready to leave, I told him I'd go into labor as soon as he got settled into camp. As I was packing my clothes for my parent's house, I got a little teary, thinking I wouldn't be coming back to our house without a baby. But when you're 10 months pregnant, those tears don't mean much since anything can make you cry. Derrick made it to camp and got settled, and had great cell service. I had been out with my mom for some of the day and was getting home to eat dinner. During dinner, I felt something that got my attention. I made note of the time, but also tried to brush it off since at 10 months prego, anything makes you think it's time. However, exactly 5 minutes later I felt it again. I started to get nervous and during the 2nd one, my mom noticed. I continued to eat dinner and keep note of the time. Every 5-8 minutes, I was feeling contractions. The books say if you drink water, change positions, walk, etc. that they mat stop and they are false. I did all of the above... for nearly 2 hours before I called Derrick. I wanted him to know what was going on just in case they didn't stop, but I wasn't ready to be hospital bound yet. 3 hours in, I decided it was time to go. By this point, it was 9pm. They hadn't stopped and were getting worse. They were still about 5 minutes apart, lasting 30-45 seconds but they were taking my breath and getting stronger. Derrick met (aka drove like a maniac I think) from Cleveland to Gainesville to meet my mom and I there. My poor mom was excited but it also wasn't the best timing for them! My little brother had his first day of 10th grade the following morning, so she took me to the hospital and dad handled the first day of school :) The whole way to the hospital and really for the 3 hours prior, I kept second guessing it. I had envisioned Father of the Bride scenarios for weeks, where I went to the hospital multiple times and it be false labor. I really didn't want that to happen. And if it was false labor, I was getting concerned about what real labor may be like! I called my sister to let her know and Derrick called his family and everyone insisted on coming. Talk about pressure! I was really convinced they would send me home since everyone was coming!

When we first arrived, they put you in a small little room to monitor the contractions and make sure you are in labor. When I got there and admitted, around 10ish, I was around 1 cm. by 12pm, I was at 2.5 cm. It was really happening. I was nervous and excited. I was just so ready to be done being pregnant! They admitted us to labor and delivery and the show got started. Let me back up for one minute and just comment on the fact that everyone wants to give you so much information as soon as you change into a hospital gown. I had administrative people coming in and wanting me to sign consents and tell me tons of important information... all during contractions. I could not focus on anything they were saying! It was amusing but also frustrating. I'm signing consents about all the things that could go wrong while not hearing anything they are saying. That didn't stop the entire hospital stay. You'd just think there was a more appropriate time to discuss those things! Ok.. back to labor and delivery... In my head, I wanted a natural birth. I did not want an epidural, but I was open to it if I needed it but I really didn't want it. We had taken childbirth classes and had breathing patterns ready to go. I was planning on laboring in the jacuzzi as long as I could handle it, trying the birthing ball, anything to help with the pain and not have to use medication. For me, if medication was needed, it was epidural or nothing. I was not okay with narcotics. As soon as we got moved to the room and they checked on Vera, I asked to get in the jacuzzi. You're allowed to be in for 30 minutes and then you have to get out for the baby to be monitored for 10. I was planning on doing this for a while. After the first 30 minutes, the contractions were coming much quicker and much stronger. It was a struggle just to get out of the jacuzzi. Derrick helped me back to the bed and I found myself in a dilemma. I wanted to do the jacuzzi again but I was scared at how fast it had progressed me. I knew I couldn't handle the pain without getting back in but I was scared of what the pain would be like after another 30 minutes in there. At some point during this time, I started to get a little upset. I was hurting and I didn't know what my next step needed to be but I knew that the idea of an epidural was creeping in. I held out for a bit longer and couldn't take it anymore. After deliberating with Derrick, I asked for the epidural. I was sad that things weren't going as planned, but I was only almost to 4 cm and I knew I couldn't do 6 more cm without something. The anesthesiologist got there pretty fast and boy, was I glad to see her! By this point, it was only getting worse. Derrick was helping me breathe through the contractions and when I had to hunch over to get the epidural, it was like the contractions got even worse. Derrick was amazing in helping me get through that. He was making me breathe like we had learned, and the nurse and anesthesiologist even made comments about how they found themselves doing the breathing patterns too! He was a good coach :) The first epidural attempt didn't go in, so it took a little longer but the relief was pretty instant when it was in. I was so scared of the idea of an epidural, even in the moments of wanting it desperately, but at the same time, I needed relief. Once that happened, things calmed down drastically. I was stuck in the bed at this point, but I didn't care. Everyone was able to get some sleep. I didn't get a ton because I was so anxious, but it became much more relaxed! The epidural happened around 3am, so I made it 9 hours without anything. I'm proud of that fact :) At this point, labor began to slow down. I didn't know epidurals did that, but apparently they do. We sat there for the next 12ish  hours, slowly making progress. Around 3:30 or so, I was fully dilated but they have this process of letting you labor down (aka, letting the baby drop). We sat there until about 5pm and then it was push time. I got emotional again, anticipating everything that was about to happen. I was scared and excited. For the next 3 hours, I pushed as hard as I possibly could. I tried numerous positions trying to get our baby out. I was exhausted but so wanted her out. After about 2 hours, things weren't progressing. Her head wouldn't move past my pelvis. They weren't comfortable using a vacuum or forceps since she wasn't even low enough for that. At this point, the nurse staff changed and we were back with the nurse we had when I was admitted. She was absolutely fabulous! We actually went to college together but didn't really know one another. Words can't express how thankful I am for her. She came in and was ready to do whatever it took to help me get this baby out! The last hour is when things got most intense. I was working so hard and giving it everything I had. She was moving down some but she was still stuck above the pelvis. I was on hands and knees, using the squatting bar, and a few other things. The one thing that was most motivational was the mirror. I had previously turned this down because who really wants to see that? I definitely didn't, but my nurse told me it was the only thing that got her son out. I gave in and told them to put it up. I have to say it was the best decision. To not get totally graphic, it wasn't the nasty scene I thought it was going to be and seeing Vera's little head only made me want to push more.However, it just wasn't happening. After another hour, they called the midwife and doctor back in to check and it was the same story... she still wasn't low enough to use anything to assist. The doctor began to explain that they could give me a little more time if we wanted it, but that we were putting ourselves at risk for an emergency c-section situation. I definitely didn't want to get either of us in an emergency situation. At this point, my world was slowly crashing. I had prepared myself for a lot of scenarios during labor and delivery but I had NEVER prepared for being fully dilated, pushing for 3 hours, and still requiring a c-section. I was so upset but Derrick and I had no choice. This baby was not coming out on her own and risking an emergency scenario was not worth 30 more minutes of pushing. I was pretty upset and got myself worked up over it. I remember my nurse being so encouraging and assuring me that it just wasn't God's plan for her come any other way. I can't believe I even remember her words but they really stuck out in those moments. I was being prepped to head back to the OR and was still upset. Planner me just couldn't come to terms with what was going down. I remember saying to the nurses, "I'm so excited to meet her, but she kinda sucks". Haha... sorry Vera :) The nurses seemed to appreciate my sense of humor.

In the OR, I was getting nervous. I couldn't breathe because I had gotten myself so upset and the combo of lying flat on my back was not helping. That's just cause I was 10 months pregnant though. No one can breathe like that. They gave me oxygen and were numbing me and I wasn't liking it. I asked to sit up but it was too late. I could feel myself getting really claustrophobic but there was no solution. The anesthesiologist could  tell I wasn't handling it well and was trying to help me get a deep breath but I was struggling. I was lying there just praying that I could get it together. At that point, Derrick came in, scrubs and all :) I was happy to see him and get the show on the road. I thought I was still being prepped and I could feel the doctors pushing and tugging, although it wasn't painful at all, and before I knew it they were telling Derrick he could stand up and watch. She was finally here :) All the nurses immediately started talking about the size of her big head and how no wonder she wouldn't come out. My only thought was, "Why is she not crying?" I immediately asked that and the responses was, "oh, she will in a minute". In the next few seconds I heard those sweet cries and watched as they moved her over to start wiping her down and examining her. I was in awe. I was watching her and watching Derrick. I remember Derrick mouthing to me over and over "She's so beautiful". It was such a sweet moment. I wasn't worried about not being able to breathe anymore and was totally focused on our sweet girl. Then suddenly, I realized I hadn't counted her fingers and toes. From my position on the table, I began frantically counting and was able to count them all :) I have no idea why this occurred to me or why it was so crucial, as it wouldn't have mattered, but I needed to account for them all :) I have no idea how long all of this took, but I know her 9 pounds got quite the reaction from everyone in the room. Before I knew it, they were taking her out and Derrick was going with her. They immediately gave me something to help calm me down and apparently I fell asleep. Next thing I know, I'm waking up in the recovery room and see Derrick holding her. Another sweet moment. She breastfed (which is supposed to be a tender moment and I really don't remember it... again, sorry Vera :)) They bathed her, which I definitely remember. She wasn't a fan. But honestly, this whole hour is really a blur. A lot of it I don't remember and have pieced together since being back home. The absolute worst part of the entire process came at this point. Apparently, the nurses have to press on you abdomen to check on your uterus and to help expel anything still in there. This was the most painful thing I encountered all day. She had to do it every 15 minutes for that hour and it was just terrible. I was just so sore already and it hurt so bad. But that hour went fast.

The next few days in the hospital were so special. We had a lot of visitors but we also had a lot of time of just me and Derrick. He has been so great through everything, which I will blog about later. Those days mostly consisted of pain meds, sleep, and holding our girl. Our entire relationship as husband and wife changed, literally overnight. I have always been pretty modest in terms of gross stuff, and that's definitely out the window! I needed help in and out of the shower and changing clothes the first couple of times. The criteria after a c-section to be discharged it to be able to pass gas. That's romantic :) We had romantic walks down the halls to help get things going. So much for being modest!

While absolutely nothing went as planned, we could not have asked for a better experience. We talk about it all the time. The doctors and nurses, the stay, everything was so fabulous. Labor was not what I thought it would be at all. I envisioned terrible, screaming, movie-like scenes. While I was definitely in pain and the pressure I felt when it was push time was painful (even with an epidural), it was not nearly as bad as I thought. Labor and delivery no longer scares me. I can do that part again, and I don't think it's cause I've already forgotten! Being pregnant was way harder for me! And the pushing on my stomach post c-section, I could do without :) I just want other women to know that. Granted, I can't comment on what the final pushes may feel like since I couldn't get there, but everything else was seriously not that bad. Yes, it involved some pain but for me, it was tolerable and when it wasn't anymore, the epidural did it's job. Again, while nothing went as planned, on August 7th, at exactly 9pm, Vera joined this world, weighing in at 9 pounds even and 20.5" inches long with a 15" head :) Vera is here and healthy and that's all that really matters :)

EDIT: I completely forgot to comment on who was in the labor room. I'm only editing this because it's for me to remember :) Throughout the 25 hours (OMG!), Derrick's parents were in there, his sister, my mom and sister, and my dad came in to say hello right as it was about to be push time. However, they were pretty in and out and when I started getting upset they moved to the waiting room and held out there :) Anyways, my mom had planned to be in the labor room with us to watch Vera's arrival. I had also told my sister she was welcome to stay if she wanted to, but she had no interest. On the actual day, she did decide to stay. I am so thankful for everyone who was in that room. It really did take all of them. There was no standing in the shadows. For the majority of the time, if not all of it (some of it is a blur), Derrick was holding one leg and my mom was holding the other while I forced my sister to keep my handheld fan on my face. That is one thing for other moms to take note of! I was absolutely burning up the entire time. My mom and husband are both pretty hot natured and they were so bundled up the majority of the time! I think mom finally took her jacket off around the 1 hour mark of pushing. Ha... so anyone in that room should take layers! The fan was the best idea I had. I remember having to tell Leslie multiple times that she wasn't holding it right :) I also want to comment on the fact (and to have it as proof) that Derrick thanked me for being so nice during labor. ha... I think we both expected a lot different out of me. I only remember having to tell him to quit being so loud at one point. I don't even remember what it was over though. The only other thing I remember doing was telling my sister to quit counting so loud for the pushing and to hold the fan on me more :) And that's all I wanted to add!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Almost Time

I can't believe it's been mid-May since I have posted! What a whirlwind it has been! In the midst of wrapping up the school year, we found out that Derrick was offered the position of Assistant Director of Residence Life at UNG. We were beyond thrilled! While we have loved our time living on campus, we were getting ready to be able to move into our own real place. We were only interested in renting and we knew we had to move quickly, so we started the house search ASAP! We found a few places but none seemed just right, and through a series of events, found out that a couple we had run the Peachtree with previously needed someone to rent their place. They are good friends of a close friend of ours. It was one of the neighborhoods we were interested in, and the price was right! We had secured a place in about a week. After that, the packing began. We had some beach trips approaching, so we were living out of boxes in between those trips and finally made the official move at the end of June. Within a couple of week, we were all settled! Which brings us to about now! I've started back to work and Derrick is frantically preparing for RA training and Vera's arrival.

As an elementary school teacher, I'm obviously a planner. I always had ideas of the best time to have a baby. With our complications, I found I didn't really care anymore and a baby was more important than the timing. Derrick's work was never really an issue because there's really only one month that would be horrible and the likelihood of that would be slim. Well, that month would be August. And we're due August 2nd. It's seriously the worst timing. But we still couldn't be happier! We'd just love her to make her appearance tonight :)

Moving has also made it hard to tell if I've been nesting or not. Our amazing families helped us paint, clean, and move-in. I seriously made them scrub this place from top to bottom. I think that part may have been the nesting! I finally was able to work on the nursery which was so exciting! We had been putting it off since we knew Derrick would be job-searching and we could possibly be moving. Having that ready made me feel so much more prepared and ready for her arrival! Since then, we've attended numerous classes getting ready for this baby. Actually, just 3, but that's a lot! Most recently, we finished up Childbirth class. I'm the prepared type so I like to know what to expect.... it helps to calm me. Today, we toured the hospital. It didn't calm me. Besides the fact that Vera was trying to bust out of my stomach during the tour, it was a little too real for me! I'm a little more on the nervous side right now! I also want to do this naturally, no pain medications, so I think that makes me more nervous, too! It's going to be an experience, that's fo' sho'!

Overall, we're ready. It's no secret I hate being pregnant. That hasn't really changed. My next update will likely be her arrival story! Let's hope for the best!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Guilt

So lately I've noticed (and if you follow me on social media, you have likely noticed) that I've become really negative about pregnancy. And frankly, I've been feeling pretty guilty about that. For so long, we mourned over the fact that we were struggling to stay pregnant. When I got pregnant and things were looking positive, I prayed I would be sick until I could feel that precious baby kicking. I regretted that prayer in many instances, but it still comforted me. Well, now, Vera is practically trying to bust out of my uterus and I'm still miserable. I knew pregnancy would be hard. I never expected it to be easy. I watched my mom be super sick with my brother and I heard friends complaining. In my moments of sadness, I would be so angry that they were complaining. They were pregnant, how could they complain when there are so many people around who want that? Well.... now I understand. I just wasn't completely prepared for it. Throwing up multiple times a day, headaches, the aches and pains, the swelling, the weird ridiculously itchy rash on my feet and hands... it's just been too much for me lately. And for that, I've felt guilty. How could I think those things when I wanted this so much? It's just been an ongoing battle. I haven't sugar-coated anything in our journey to have a baby, and I'm proud of that, but I also don't like the negativity I've acquired. I think I'm also self-conscious about the fact that I think I only post pregnancy-related things and I don't want to be that person, but it is my life right now! I'm trying to be more cautious on both things, but it's difficult.

I'm just ready to meet this sweet baby. I want to know what she looks like, start learning her personality, and be able to hold her. I'm getting anxious about delivery day and I'm just tired... tired of being pregnant (but it's still too soon for her to make an appearance!) I'm anxiously awaiting school to be out so I don't have to worry about it anymore and can just start enjoying myself more. Decorating her room will be fun and the beach trips we have planned will be fabulous! I know it's only going to get harder these next couple of months and I'm trying to mentally prepare for that.

I know I shouldn't feel guilty. I can't change anything that happened. I didn't do anything to lose our other babies but it's just an emotion that I've been noticing. There is no book on how to feel or what to do when I feel these things. All I know is I so desperately wanted to meet our 3 little ones that we lost and speaking negatively about pregnancy creates an emotion of guilt in me. I know we'll meet those babies and what a glorious day that will be! But until then, I still have this life to do, and if I'm miserable sometimes, that's okay. I know there will be many days where Vera has me so upset/mad/frustrated/confused, and I have to focus on the present and the future. I'm sure the guilt is only beginning and I know having her here with us will only create another sense of grief over never meeting our other babies, but I also know I have a responsibility to Vera (and any other babies we get to meet) and one day, there will be the most wonderful reunion Derrick and I could ever imagine. Until then, I've got to work on this guilt and know that everything can't be glorious for the rest of my life, but I can learn to be more appreciative!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pregnancy After Miscarriage

I have thought about writing this post for some time now but would quickly realize that we had another appointment quickly approaching or something to that effect and I would shy away from posting because I thought I would jinx the health of our baby if I posted about how well things were going. That's the life of pregnancy after miscarriage. Over the past few months, I've had some friends reach out to me who were in the same boat and just didn't know how to handle it. I had nothing positive to tell them. There was no secret for how I was getting through and managing this pregnancy. Honestly, I haven't been.

From day one, I had a hard time accepting that we were pregnant. I think we both had learned to distance ourselves from the excitement. It's a sad truth but it's the only way we had learned to cope. Of course, we would be sad if we lost the baby, but it helped to not get too excited initially. When we first heard the heartbeat, we gained a little confidence. The sicker I was, the happier we were. On the days I wasn't sick, I would take note of the day and think to myself "We lost the baby today".

I refused to document this pregnancy through pictures, through a pregnancy journal, or anything that would be permanent. I would even put sonogram pictures on a shelf that I didn't see daily, just in case something happened and I wouldn't have to face it. I think a lot of this was unconscious in the moments, but looking back, I think there was more to it. Heck, I even refused to write this post for a while! I was nervous to buy a crib, clothes, everything with the thought of how hard it would be to put those things away if things didn't turn out for the best. With every symptom or lack thereof, I refused (although occasionally lapsed) to google it. For those of you in a similar boat, don't do it. Absolutely EVERYTHING can be a sign that you are miscarrying or a sign that everything is fine. There was no comfort and it usually brought me something else to be fearful about.

With every doctor's appointment, about a week before, I would begin to get really nervous. I was convinced there would be no heartbeat and I had to mentally and emotionally prepare my heart for that news that the doctor could deliver. Everytime I have to pee, it was like a freakin' science experiment examining tissue for any blood evidence. (I know that's gross, but it's true). On the days I felt good, I couldn't bring myself to exercise because after exercise was always when I had my first signs that we had lost our babies. At my last appointment, as morbid as it may sound, I asked the doctor how far along I needed to be for there to be a chance of survival. For those of you wondering, there are 3 milestones: 24 weeks and a baby will typically survive although there is a higher risk for long term problems associated with the prematurity, 28 weeks and the baby has an even better chance for survival with not a very high chance for long term problems, but likely some short term ones and, after 32 weeks, while the baby would have to spend some time in the NICU, it's almost as good as having a full term baby with little likelihood for issues.

I've spent a lot of days in prayer, especially in the beginning. Although the days were few where I had no symptoms, I would freak in those moments. If I only threw up once a day I would be nervous. In those few moments I felt good, I would pray that I would stay sick until Vera started moving regularly. God heard those prayers because it hasn't really let up! Let's just hope he heard the whole prayer and when she starts moving regularly, I'm no longer sick :) Now, in the moments that I am actually sick I wonder why the heck He chose to hear those prayers and why in the world I would have asked for that. If you've ever been pregnant and sick, you know how stupid that prayer sounds, but it's been a (weird) comfort for me. Now, when I haven't felt distinct movements for a couple days, I again will take note of the day (and sometimes time if I had a weird sensation) and find myself thinking "We just lost her".

Statistics don't comfort me anymore. I know it's unlikely to lose a baby this far along, but it was also unlikely to have 2 miscarriages in a row and even more unlikely to have 3. Seriously, it's like less than 1 percent. A heartbeat means good things, but for me, it has not provided any real comfort. I've literally had to have faith that Vera's life is not in my hands and there's nothing I can do to ensure anything.

A college friend is having a baby girl soon and naming her Vera. I wrote her to let her know I wasn't stealing her baby's name :) and she mentioned they liked the meaning of the name. I hadn't even looked this up yet! I did and found that the name Vera means "faith". It was such a defining moment for me because this whole pregnancy had been such a test of faith. With every symptom, lack of symptom, appointment, etc. I had to just trust that everything would be okay. That's not always what I did or how I handled it, but day in and day out I have to have faith that Vera is just fine. It's not easy, but it's certainly something I'm learning to do and getting more comfortable with.

The fear hasn't really left me although I have learned to put it aside and to pray through those moments or remind myself of the last time I threw up or felt movement and usually, the answer to one of those is within the past 24 hours (or usually 12 hours), and I can be calm for a little longer. So long story short, pregnancy after miscarriage is scary. There's no secret to managing all the emotions. Although time and good check ups bring a bit more confidence each time, I imagine I am not going to feel she is safe until she's in my arms, and in that moment, I'm sure there will be a whole new flood of things to be fearful about. I guess I've been welcomed into parenthood! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Reveal

Well, it's no secret that we had our gender reveal party a little over a week ago... It's a girl! Around Tuesday (before the party), the envelope started to haunt me. I was getting anxious. I called ahead to Publix to make sure they could fill the box (that was a pain in the butt to wrap!). She said to bring it on Thursday and I could pick it up Friday. Well, on Thursday, she said she could do it and I could just wait for it. Ah! I wasn't prepared to have the box in my possession for over 24 hours. I went to my parents house and hid it in the basement without telling anyone. I knew my family would drive me crazy trying to peak (which my brother did as soon as I brought the box up on Friday!)

I've never handled parties well. I don't know why. My parents say none of us ever did. I just get anxious and on the verge of tears every time. It's strange. I knew once everyone was there, I'd be fine. I also don't like surprises. I thought I'd be ok with this one since the surprise was only one of two things but it proved to be hard, too. I like small surprises, as in Derrick bringing home flowers, but not big ones. I'm weird... I know. And I don't know what it is that makes me feel that way. It's probably because I'm not in control.

I also think finding out gender was very scary for me because it made having a baby so much real. With everything we've been through, the idea of knowing the gender was scary. It's sad that I think like that now but it's honest. It's still a little hard for me to believe that I'm pregnant. I get nervous every time we have a doctor's appointment and get afraid the baby didn't make it. But so far, every time, Vera is just perfect. I also think it's hard to believe because I don't have much of a bump yet. Sometimes, this bothers me, but then I realize it's just going to be less work to get rid of it after Vera is here. So I'm kinda loving it now! And even though I feel like I've gained 10 pounds, I've lost 3 since the beginning and have maintained that the entire way so far. So I'm okay with it :)

So about the name.... originally, Derrick and I liked the name London. As I've mentioned before we are partial to state/city/location names. It's weird, I know. I don't even remember how the conversation started, but it was a while ago. I always referred to my grandma (Dad's mom) as grandma Bonnie. My mom mentioned that her first name was Vera and I fell in love. Then I realized I could combine my Grandma Ruth (mom's mom) and my mom's middle name (Sue) and get Rue. I was instantly in love with that name and what it meant. Both of my grandma's were so very important and special to me, and obviously so is my mom. It was a little harder to convince Derrick but the more he heard it, the more he liked it. And his family has a tradition for a boy's name that we were going to go with so it's only fair I get the girl's name :)  So that's where the name comes from. Oh, and it's Vera as in Vera Wang or Vera Bradley. Which I know is not phonetically correct but oh well. I'm really not sure yet how I'll refer to her.... Vera or Vera Rue. I'm sure it will be a mix. As for embroidered things, either is fine! I love how Vera Rue looks, so we'll see!

Below are some pics from the reveal!
The box with the secret!
We made everyone take their pick before we revealed. Girls- 13 Boys- 12 (Mommy was right by the way :))
The reveal! When we planned the party, we didn't account for the fact that it's pitch black outside. Oh well!
It's a girl!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Pregnant Girl's Rant

I'm going to preface this by saying that I am beyond thrilled to be pregnant, and this far along. In no way do I wish that were different.... however, that doesn't make it a bed of roses either.

It totally sucks:

8. Felling sick all day
7. Throwing up on a pretty regular basis
6. Eating bland foods all day (to prevent reason #7)
5. Not being able to workout due to reason #8 and #7)
4. My vision completely leaving me (all because of baby!- I didn't wear glasses before but need them almost full time now!)
3. Being told to quit sleeping on your back when it's the only position that doesn't make me want to hurl
2. Not having a good's night sleep due to bathroom runs or other reasons I'm not sure of!

But the thing that sucks the most is.....

1. buying fat clothes to get fatter in.

(Maybe I'll feel different about that when I have a legit baby bump... we'll see).

Anyways, this baby {bump} business is not what it's cracked up to be!{And I'm also vain}

However, when I hear that sweet little heartbeat and see our sweet baby moving all around, it makes it all worth it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wishing & Hoping & Thinking & Praying

I haven't been in a blogging mood lately. I wanted to focus on how I was feeling over the Holidays and really, it's just been so hectic since then. We've had a lot going on with work, our personal lives, and many other things. I thought about secretly blogging, and I wish I would have but we've just been so busy! I'm going to try and recreate all the emotions I've had over the past couple months... so here goes.

Before you start reading though, the most important thing you need to know is we're pregnant :) I know that's really not a surprise since getting pregnant isn't a problem for us and I think many of you have been wondering why I haven't come out with that news yet. But given our history, I think you understand! (You should also know there's really no rhyme or reason to the italic, bold, or underlines words. It just makes me feel fancy :)) Anyways, even though I said I hadn't been secretly blogging, I am now, so currently I'm 2 days shy of 12 weeks but you won't be reading this for another couple of weeks at least! I should also go ahead and apologize to the people we've flat out lied to but you people are getting comfortable asking if we're pregnant and we're so appreciative of your love and support for us but we just had to keep it under wraps for a while.

Right after Thanksgiving, we found out we were expecting. It was exciting and scary. As many of you know (well, maybe not), but we had just experienced our 3rd miscarriage in late October and that's also around the same time I got pregnant. Well, technically a couple weeks later I guess. Regardless, that made it scary too. It also gave us a lot of unknowns since we didn't know how far along we were or anything. When I took the pregnancy test, first of all, it was at night. That was a bad idea because I'm such a line freak. If it's not bright and dark, I freak out (Myrtle and Lincoln both gave us faint, on and off lines). That's not to scare anyone else, but for me personally, it meant bad things. The test was so bright and so dark. I literally fell to my knees and prayed. I couldn't go through all that again. And not so soon again. After 3 miscarriages, the excitement of wanting to tell your husband in a fun way fades. I hate that for us, but it's part of it (more on that later). Derrick was literally on his way out the door for a night meeting and I was like "Wait! Look at this"... intimate moment, right? He was a little taken back but was happy and went on his way. It's pretty sad when I think about how we've become. It's just so scary! We are trying to guard our hearts while experiencing joy at the same time. Not easy, friends. Some days, I feel like we've been so robbed of the experience, but I also know that we are going to be able to appreciate a baby in our arms so much more (not that people who don't have issues don't appreciate their baby's, but I hope you get what I mean). Anyways, we moved forward cautiously and optimistically. In my heart, it did feel a little different, but that's always hard to know if it's truly my heart or just me wanting that. As the weeks went by, we felt more and more comfortable. Nausea, along with some other noticeable symptoms, hit sometime around week 6 and hasn't let up. I've had a few good days, but I've been so miserable. Miserable, but happy :)

Long story short, we told our parents right around Christmas when we were 8 weeks and had seen the ultrasound. Oh yeah, I didn't even talk about that! Ok... this post is going to be long. Sorry. I knew I should have secretly blogged. So once we found out, we scheduled an appointment. Had an u/s and saw everything that needed to be there minus the baby. A little scary, but I was also measuring a little over 5 weeks, so not uncommon. Still scary though. We went back a week later to see our little nugget (which really was a blueberry sized mass of cells) and heard the heartbeat. I laid there and cried. It was the sweetest sound I've ever heard. We've never had a heartbeat and we lost Jessie before the 6 week mark (even though I was 10 weeks). It was huge for us. We went back a few weeks later and had another u/s to check on everything. It was the most amazing experience. The baby was huge! Granted, in real life it was only the size of a lime or something, but it looked massive. You could seem, the body, head, arms, and legs. It was even moving all around. AMAZING.Heard the heartbeat again, and of course, I cried again. We were feeling great. We also found out at that appointment that I was 10 weeks instead of 9. That was such an answer to prayers because when we hit week 9, I started to become very anxious. That's when things turned bad for us with Jessie. We lost Jessie right before week 10 hit. So to hear them say, "Oh, you're actually 10 weeks" and to skip that whole week I was so worried about, was incredible.

All was well until almost week 12. Let me back up just a little, because all of this ties together. Between week 10 and 12, we started contemplating switching doctors. I wasn't comfortable with delivering at the hospital in Dahlonega. I have been there a few times (our u/s have been there) and I just didn't love it. While my doctor had been amazing in helping us get some answers, I also didn't get the warm fuzzies there. We decided to switch back to the doctor we had visited after we lost Jessie (never going back to that doctor!) Well, a couple days later the original office called me back to let me know that there is a strong chance they will start delivering at one of the bigger hospitals nearby. They gave me some more details (which I'm trying to be respectful of in case they still haven't announced) so now I was back to square one. I had been so confident in our decision but now I was confused. Well, then week (almost) 12 hits. I woke up to blood. Freaked out. Made an appointment for that day, but was starting to think everything might be okay for reasons I'm not going to explain, which you'll understand in a few sentences down. But still, we were shaken. We get to the doctor and find out there is no sign of vaginal bleeding but I actually had a small hemorrhoid (I know, that's gross, but it's not like I haven't blogged about grosser things). We did the u/s (which was also great because they can now do it on my stomach!) and we saw the baby moving all around again and heard the little heartbeat. Sweetest sound ever. We were so relieved. I also realized in this moment that that was the doctor's office I wanted to be at. So I got my answer. I had also started to get really anxious because I'm almost out of progesterone (which I've been taking since we found out). I felt like an addict counting how many I had left till I ran out. My doctor was able to reassure me that I'm completely fine, which of course I fired back with some questions, mostly about "but what if my placenta isn't developed?" (because progesterone production is taken over by that) and he was able to prove to me that it had developed. So I'm really believing this was God's way of answering our doctor question and my progesterone addiction. I'm still scared to come off of it, but by the time you're reading this, I will have been off of it and had another u/s, so we will know if we're good to go!

It's been a roller coaster, but I'm so glad to be nearing trimester 2 ( I definitely just typed semester, btw). My doctor told me the chance of miscarriage at this point is slim, although I know it's always a possibility. But I have been getting nervous that as I near this trimester, that just means if I miscarry, they have to induce labor. That's a scary thing to consider, but I know women do it everyday. Regardless, we still need your prayers and love and support. We're happy and baby seems to be thriving but we go through spells! Pray for peace over the next months!

I think that about sums it up. We can't wait to share this news with you and hopefully, things are still going well at that point!