Two weeks and finding our footing

Well, our little man has been here for a full two weeks now, and it’s hard to make sense of the time in the context of our “Pre-Baby Scale” at this point. Two weeks feels like it’s gone by so quickly in some ways, yet I can’t really remember exactly what my life before Russ was like. Whatever the case, I would never be able to go back – this beautiful little boy has absolutely turned our lives upside down, in such a wonderful way. In fact, he’s blogging with mommy today – I have him laid out in his “bassy” (bassinet) next to me as I type this.

Russ is making hilarious faces already, and I can tell he’s going to have a bit of a sarcastic, funny personality like both his parents – after all, he’s practically perfected his “smirk” face, and he’s only 15 days old now! He smiles more every day, and oh my goodness…it is the most beautiful smile in the whole wide world! It just warms my heart every time he does that. Even if it just means that he’s passing gas…

The baby blues were a real tough thing to go through for me, but they finally let up late last week, around Thursday or Friday. I can finally imagine Russ growing up, look at pictures from his birth, and watch him sleep without wanting to cry from the overwhelming, amazing, frightening, and humbling nature of it all. My mom was honest to tell me that she experienced baby blues with all four of her kids, and that it was never worse than with the last child. I’m assuming it’ll be the same for me, so my time with the baby blues is probably not over, but at least now I know that it’s normal and I know what to expect whenever another baby comes around.

Actually, on the topic of another baby…I’m not really sure what to do at this point about birth control. My doctor told me to think about it, but I’m not sure what to think. See, I don’t do hormonal birth control very well. By that I mean you name it – Loestrin, Ortho, Yaz, Nuvaring, Depo, etc., etc., etc. – I have tried it and it made me a crazed, water-retaining, clinically depressed, hateful, sleepless, night-sweating, horrific MESS. I sincerely mean it when I say that I’d rather end up like the Duggar lady with the 19 kids (I know I pick on her a lot, but I actually really like her! She’s a tough cookie!) than ever be on birth control again. It’s just horrible, and Jonathan can attest to the fact that I don’t do birth control well. So, for me, it’s either the Paraguard IUD or nothing. Not sure how that’s going to go, but I’m honestly not that worried about it. Our general plan and hope is that we’ll put about 3 years behind us before we start another pregnancy. We want to spend lots of time focusing on Russ and getting to where he’s potty trained and all that – and just generally ready to help us welcome a brother or sister – before we venture into plural parenthood. But if it happened sooner than “our plan,” that would be okay, and certainly worth not having to go through the awful experience of being on hormonal birth control ever again. We’ll see what happens, I guess! I know I’m not the only woman I’ve talked to who feels like hormonal forms of birth control just aren’t suited for her body chemistry. I’m happy for women who have good experiences with it, but for me, it’s just not an option. I have to be mentally and emotionally stable for my son and husband, and it’s not worth the 99% effectiveness rate to have to deal with the crap I go through when I’m on that stuff. Yuck…

Though it hasn’t really been at the forefront of my mind, it has been interesting, going through the shrinking of my body back to its pre-pregnancy form (or some semblance of it, anyway). Today I got a wild hair and decided to put on my favorite pre-pregnancy jeans (the ones that I haven’t put on since I was about 12 weeks along). They’re a size 8 from the Gap that I bought maybe two years ago, and I really expected them to not even zip, much less button. But I’m happy and thrilled to say that they are QUITE snug, but they do zip and button! And I only have a teensy bit of a muffin top in them, even! Makes me really happy, since all I’ve really been doing is breastfeeding, sleeping, eating, and walking a mile a few times here and there since the birth. Breastfeeding is really no joke – I am constantly thirsty and pretty doggone hungry, too. I’m trying to make categorically “good” choices, but we’ve been so blessed to have some women from our church bringing us food a few nights a week – and MAN, it has been so yummy! From pot roast to blackberry crumble to brownies to cookies…did I mention I love the ladies from our church? Okay, well, I love them!

And breastfeeding is still going really well for me and Russ both. He seems to be getting plenty of food, and he’s growing really well. At his two-week baby check-up Monday morning, he weighed 8 lbs., 3.5 oz. – up several ounces over his birth weight of 7 lbs., 14 oz.! He’s been spitting up a bit here and there, so I try to burp him really well after each feeding, and I have him sleeping on a bit of an incline in his bassy. The bassy and the swing – Russ loves them both, and seems to be sleeping really well.

All in all, the first two weeks of parenthood have been great, we really can’t complain. Even the bit of sleep deprivation is pretty manageable (I give Jonathan some leeway in the middle of the night when it come to getting up to care for Russ, since he’s back at work now and I’m still at home). I nap when I need to, and for the first two days of this week, my mom was here with us – she was SUCH a life saver! You know life has officially changed when just being able to take a shower without worrying about your baby becomes a new luxury. Mom also helped a ton with laundry and things of that sort – and she really came in handy Tuesday when Russ’s “umbie” finally fell off! Silly thing was hanging by a single thread and we were able to wait until he was still to use a pair of sterilized nail scissors to snip the last little string that the cord stump was dangling by. It really was off, just had this little string of gunk that was keeping it from falling into his onesie or diaper – no major stuff going on, we promise! I’ll confess, I did not keep the umbie because it looked gross and smelled even worse. But throwing it away was a job I left up to Jonathan because it was just too sentimental for me to toss that last remnant of the amazing pregnancy journey during which Russ was still connected to me. I guess his cute little belly button will always be a reminder of that time, though.

In an hour or so, daddy will be home to take me and Russ over to the middle school track to walk for a little bit before dinner, so I’m outta here!

One week: In love, amazed, and battling "The Baby Blues"


Well, Russ is here and has been here for a week today – hard to believe the little angel we’ve been waiting on all year long is already 7 days old! Oh man, and what a week it has been. Of course there’s the lack of sleep, the adjustment to breastfeeding (and those BOOBS! Wooooowie!!), and the recovery process for me. But most of those things – at least, for me – have been going pretty well.

Russ is an amazing little person, and we feel so miraculously blessed to have him here, healthy and safe. Everything about him begs to be snuggled, photographed, and squeezed – his little ears, his (abnormally long for an infant) fingers and toes, his little chubby knees, his little poochy belly, the little wrinkles on his neck, his dark hair…oh, I could just go on forever. And the scary part is that it will all change and evolve so quickly, and no matter how many photos I take…this must all be committed to memory in some way, because it’s such a fleeting time. I’ve always been someone who was almost strangely aware of the passage of time and the brevity of life – and having a child heightens that sense even more. This has led to some amount of “The Baby Blues,” and I have to say, they are no fun. I had always heard of women dealing with this, usually in the first 1-2 weeks after birth, but it’s really something I wasn’t fully prepared for. And no matter how much you tell yourself “It’s all hormones, it’s all hormones,” certain things about motherhood rip your heart out. It’s the ugly truth behind a beautiful experience – you will never be stronger, nor will you be more vulnerable, then when you are a mother. I see that now, I realize just how much my parents loved me, and it’s a humbling realization to come to. I guess your children can’t even begin to grasp just how much you really love them until they themselves welcome a child. Pretty incredible stuff, but still, pretty heavy stuff. I’m praying to God that these feelings settle down soon – I know it’s “normal,” but I don’t feel normal right now and I hate that my first week with Russ has been colored by this sense of doom at the thought of him ever growing up, and by the overwhelmed feeling I have at how much I love him. I had to kind of corner my mother-in-law the other day (both of us in tears, at the time, talking about how amazing this little guy is) and ask her “You had a little boy and he grew up, he went away to school, he met a girl, he got married…please tell me it didn’t hurt as bad as I think it’s going to when Russ does it?” She promised me it really would be okay, and I hope that’s true.

As far as sleeping, Russ is a work in progress. We’re still learning his cues, and he’s still learning the difference between day and night, so things are moving along at a snail’s pace. I have to admit, the first couple of days home, I almost looked forward to hearing him cry so that I’d have an excuse to scoop him up and cuddle him. But now, I’ll admit, it’d be easier for me and Jon both if Russ was a bit better at calming down in the middle of the night. He seems hardwired to not want to sleep until around 2 am (this has been several nights in a row now, regardless of when we start prepping for bed). But the positive flipside of this is that, once he’s asleep around 2 (sometimes 3) am, he seems to stay asleep for 4, sometimes 5 hours. This morning, we were asleep from roughly 3 am until 8 am – pretty decent, I’d say! It’s amazing how you can get 4 or 5 hours of sleep and feel so great, when just a week or so before, you were getting 7 or 8 hours.

Breastfeeding has been pretty easy for me, so far. Engorgement…uh, not a lot of fun. Incredible new boobs…super fun! They’re only temporary, of course, but I’m enjoying them. But what I enjoy more is the bonding time I get with my son, the fact that I’m providing him nourishment and helping him grow. Not to mention, his immunity is getting a good boost from his food. Overall, I’m sure that I’ll be able to breastfeed Russ for months to come. I still need to get an electric pump so that I can keep a few bottles ready when Jonathan and I want a date night or when I have to be somewhere away from Russ for more than a few hours.

My recovery is moving along and I feel really good, actually – way better than I was expecting to feel, that’s for sure. I’d like to get a picture of my belly today to document the “regression” of the baby bump – it’s pretty wild! In the past week, I’ve grown a brand new appreciation for the stretchmarks I was so upset over weeks ago. I have two tattoos from college, both of which I would have removed if I had the money or resources – not that I hate them, they just aren’t relevant to who I am now and for the past several years. But these stretchmarks are a tattoo I will always have, proof of the 40 weeks that this little boy was growing inside me. I’m going to wear them proudly. I can’t go back and experience the pregnancy again – and though I know some women hate pregnancy, I loved it and have had a tough time adjusting to not feeling Russ move around in there and seeing my tummy jump when he hiccuped. But I can appreciate my body for what it is now, with the couple of stretchmarks I developed low on my tummy and the oddly wider belly button. Those things are a reminder of the most incredible journey and transformation of my entire life, so I’m going to be proud of them.

Jonathan has been an amazing dad and I cannot sing his praises enough. He makes me feel absolutely beautiful, has been endlessly supportive of me when I’m weepy or tired, has been all too willing to wake up whenever necessary to help with a particularly nasty diaper blowout…I seriously cannot imagine doing this on my own. This one week has made me appreciate single mothers even more than I already did. And Jon is simply a fantastic father. He is so attentive to Russ, so emotionally connected to me and this little boy. His commitment to our family is ever present and never wavering. I waited so long to meet someone like Jonathan, and we’ve had a wonderful four years just enjoying being married to one another. But to have this family with him now is truly unbelievable. I am so blessed.

Overall, it’s just been an incredible week and I can’t believe that it has passed so fast. I know that the weeks and months to come will pass equally fast, but I’m hoping that with the adjustments Jonathan and I are making now and the (hopefully imminent) passage of the baby blues, I can really savor each and every moment.

I’m just so in love with my boys. Both of them. 🙂

Russ: A Baby Story

Well, here we are! Though I am way late posting this, I began writing this on the morning of September 17th…

We will be leaving the hospital in a few short hours to go home and begin our life together – in some ways, ending the journey from “you and me” to “a family” that initially began this blog, some eight or so months ago. But of course, I’m keeping the blog, since all the fun is still really just starting.

So, the big thing that every new mom gets to tell (if she wants to) is her birth story. This epic and often painful “war story” is a rite of passage for every mom out there, and I intend to take advantage of my chance to finally tell my own birth story. But let me tell you, I was SO blessed…I expected an absolute nightmare-ish tale of anguish and misery, mostly because those are typically the only kind women will share with you. But I was so lucky to be able to have a really, truly pleasant experience. I mean, yeah, parts of it hurt, but hey, that’s childbirth.

Warning: There is absolutely no shortage of “TMI” below. Brace yourself.

I woke up Tuesday morning (Sept. 14th) feeling permanently pregnant, except for a freakishly weird trickle of clear liquid that went down my leg as I stepped out of bed. I tried to chalk it up as more of the strange and ever-evolving discharge that is part of late pregnancy, but decided to call the nurse at my doctor’s office because something “just didn’t feel right.” For one, my back pain wasn’t getting any better, and I was still having nightly fake-out sessions with contractions. I felt like my entire torso was just hanging low, and that wasn’t helping with the back pain much, either. The nurse listened to me complain (as she has on many, many occasions throughout this year), and told me it sounded like it would be best for them to check me and see if perhaps I wasn’t in the early stages of labor. I figured Heck, those crazy chicks on ‘I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant’ get to 10 cm without suspecting more than stomach upset…I could have some action happening and not realize it. Right? RIGHT?

So Jonathan met me at 1:45 pm for my impromptu check-up, where my favorite doctor was going to check things out and possibly even start discussing a future induction if Russ didn’t come. My weight had dropped just a touch (odd), pee-in-a-cup was all clear, and my check-up yielded little news other than that I was dilated to almost 2 cm and effaced about 70%. I asked the doc if he thought stripping my membranes would help move things along, and he said he’d be happy to give it a shot, so he did that – it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I expected and I actually chuckled at something the doc said during the process. The doc said it would be two more days before they would start considering scheduling an induction, but that he was going to run a non-stress test on me, as well as an ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid levels. The NST yielded little news – Russ was healthy and thriving, though I began having contractions in the middle of the test, possibly due to the membrane stripping the doc had just performed. The contractions continued, every 5 or 6 minutes, but not so bad that I couldn’t tolerate them. I assumed they’d go away, but turns out, they never did! Then the ultrasound – this test showed that Russ was doing great, weighing in around 8 lb., 2 oz., but that the amniotic fluid around him was pretty low. The ultrasound tech smirked to herself and said to us “You may be having this baby sooner than you think.” BEST

Upon meeting with the doctor, he told us that given how healthy and ready Russ was to be born, the amniotic fluid levels were a clear indicator to him that inducing would be the best course of action. We couldn’t believe that it was actually, FINALLY time to go to the hospital!

We headed home, finished packing up some last minute things in the hospital bag, and headed out from the house around 6 pm – since we were supposed to get to the hospital around 7:30 or so. After dropping Rocky off at Jonathan’s parents’ house, we decided “Hey, what the heck, Becky can’t eat again for at least 24 hours, right?” and hit our favorite pizza place, Paisano’s. I got my pregnancy-standard Pizza Margherita with extra EXTRA fresh basil (so much that the entire pie is basically green when it comes out). I munched on two pieces, all the while still feeling intensifying contractions – but still able to chat and laugh a bit. I was in that foggy haze that a lot of pregnant women hit around week 39 or 40. Like you know, logically, that you won’t be pregnant forever, but a very real part of you doesn’t fully believe that fact. In other words, it just wasn’t hitting me.

We chatted a lot with people we knew at the pizza place, and ended up being kind of late getting to the hospital. When we finally got out of the car, I looked up at this monstrous brick building and thought to myself “Wow…this is it. This is really happening.” I knew: the next time I came out of that building, I’d be holding my little boy. When we checked in, the administrators we spoke with had been expecting us, and the process only took a few minutes. Soon, I was set up in a triage room (since all the Labor and Delivery suites were full – kind of a crazy night for baby havin’) for a little while, and our nurse started my Cervadil insertion. The contractions REALLY began to get serious at that point. I actually had to concentrate and breathe through them. For me, contractions were a lot like menstrual cramps, but with one big difference. I don’t know if it’s the way my uterus is tilted or something, because Russ wasn’t a “Sunny Side Up” baby – but I had a ton of back labor, just as I usually feel my menstrual cramps all in my back. My stomach would tighten up like a rock, but all the intensity of the pain was really in my lower back.

Now for the fun part…the event that will forever be known to us as the “Bad Ambien Trip.” Jonathan and I will laugh about this for the rest of our lives. The nurse said that since my contractions were just starting to ramp up and I still wasn’t dilated much past 2 cm, they’d give me an Ambien to help me sleep. I’m not exactly someone who takes a lot of controlled substances (I’d have made a horrible drug addict, I simply have no tolerance for much other than Benadryl and Motrin), so I was nervous – not to mention, the contractions hurt bad enough that I knew I wouldn’t sleep through them anyway. She assured me I’d fall right asleep. Well…guess again! Though it wasn’t much fun at the time, I can really laugh this off now. Basically, from about 1 am until 4 am early on the morning of the 15th, I was a mess. At one point, I asked Jonathan, “Who is that fat man in the corner? The round man in the chair?” and Jonathan looked over where I was pointing (there was nobody there) and said “Um…baby…that’s your Boppy pillow.” I then proceeded later to complain about how many people were in the room (including a skinny lady smoking cigarettes who, I told Jonathan, “can’t be smoking in here, they use oxygen in this hospital!”). There must’ve been 20 people in that room with me that were complete hallucinations from the Ambien. I was just bouncing back and forth between dreaming (because it did work…for about 3 minutes in between contractions!) and being awakened (by the contractions…OUCH!) so fast that I couldn’t make any sense of it all. I even tried to “hold up” the bathroom walls at one point when Jon helped me go potty, because (my words) “they’re falling down.” It literally looked to me like the walls were tilting in on me. Eeek!

By about 3:30 am, we were told that an L and D suite was available and it would be best to go ahead and get me set up in there, so I was helped into a wheelchair and rolled over to that side of the maternity wing. I was REALLY hurting at this point, and because of the Ambien, I couldn’t stay on top of my contractions…they were sneaking up on me, and before I knew it, I was shocked awake and trying to control my breathing (not very successfully, I might add). Jonathan stayed right with me. The doctor came in around 4 am and said she thought it would be best for me to go ahead and get the epidural if I wanted. I told her I didn’t want to get it too soon and have it slow down my labor, but she assured me that they’d be starting the Pitocin in another hour or so, and then I’d really want it – and that I needed to get some sleep to be ready for pushing. So in went the epidural and…wait for it…AHHHHHHHHHH! (that’s the biggest sigh of relief ever, by the way).

I have an entirely renewed respect for women that forgo or miss the epidural, because WOW…I wouldn’t have wanted to go without it. I know the things can have complications, but mine was perfect. I really was happy I got it. I went right to sleep and slept for a good 3 hours (but it was such good sleep, it felt like 7 hours). Around 6 am, someone came in and started the Pitocin drip, but I barely remember it. I only woke up for a second or two. Jonathan even caught some shut eye! Around 8:30, Jonathan’s mom arrived and we all just visited and I had breakfast (ice chips). Jonathan went downstairs to get some food while his mom sat with me, and I chatted with my mom on the phone, who was on her way up from Myrtle Beach along with my older brother, Jake. Dad wasn’t too far behind them, but had a meeting before he could leave town. Around 11 am, the nurse came in and I said “Hey, can you check me? I just want to know what kind of progress things are making.” She checked me and said “Hmm…you’re about 5 cm, give or take. About halfway there!” I wasn’t disappointed, but I assumed it would be hours before we’d have a baby. Boy, was I wrong…

Mom and Jake arrived about 10 minutes later and we all hung out for a little while and chatted. Jake ran out to grab a drink and mom went outside to call Dad. That’s when I felt it. The shift. A drop, like Russ’s head had just suddenly fallen a few inches lower or something. I reached down under the blankets and noticed that things were kind of…well…not what I’d call “normal.” What can I say, lady parts do strange things during labor…it’s just the way it is. I asked Jonathan to get the nurse, knowing that what was happening was probably pretty normal – but wanting to give her the heads up just cause I’m paranoid sometimes. She took a look and said “Oh yeah, that’s normal,” but her expression gave me pause. A few minutes later, the doctor swung through the door, saying “Well, let’s just see what’s going on here.” She did a quick check, and her eyes flashed upward “Wow! Okay, well, we are ready to have a baby!”

“Uh…what?”

“We’re going to start pushing, it’s time,” said the doc. She seemed amused at how bewildered I was. Jonathan had been about to go grab lunch downstairs – thank goodness he stuck around when the doctor came in! We called Jonathan’s mom (who had gone to have lunch with his dad) and told her to hustle back because it was time (she made it, about 5 minutes before Russ was born – haha!). Then my brother retreated to the safety and sanity of the waiting area, while my mom got situated near my head and Jon grabbed a leg. The doc stepped out, probably thinking that it would be awhile before she was really needed (many first time moms push for anywhere from 30 minutes up to 2 or more hours) to “play catch.” I told Jonathan that there was no way that I was going to be pushing for 2 hours. Not that I really had a choice in how long it took, but I guess I’m just competitive like that sometimes.

Pushing is a strange thing. You can’t push with your face or your jaw or your arms or anything like that. It requires the most intense physical and mental focus I’ve ever given in my life! Luckily, Russ’s head was pretty low, and on the first push, Jonathan saw hair! Now, I had always told Jonathan “Do NOT look! Err…don’t look until he’s almost out! Well…just look for a second!” But the reality of the matter is that, in that moment, I couldn’t have cared less that he was looking. We were having a baby. These two guys were my life. If he wanted to watch his son be born, I didn’t have anything to say about it. Besides, the look on Jonathan’s face was absolutely priceless – he just couldn’t believe that our little boy was right there, about to be finally be in our arms.

Russ moved down a bit in the first few minutes, but got stuck for a few minutes. It happens, no big deal, but it took some work to get him unwedged and moving along. I was having a little trouble getting my form just right to move him under the bone, so Jonathan started directing me.

“Becky, you know how your body is curled when your sitting in the leg press machine at the gym? (Oh, yeah sure, I’m totally thinking about that right now…) You have to do that to get him out.” Having some familiar reference from my gym life actually helped a lot, and with that, I pushed with all my might. Just a minute or two later, Russ was crowning. I expected to feel the infamous “Ring of Fire,” despite the epidural (since I knew women who had epidurals and still felt plenty of pain), but never did. The nurse said “Do you feel anything?” and I was like “Nope, I’m pretty much numb!” I couldn’t feel anything except for pressure, which was absolutely manageable. At this point, the nurse began to get a little worried because the doctor wasn’t back yet and Russ was just about out! She hit the call button on the wall nearby and asked for the doc to get in there – quickly. She asked me if I could stop pushing and I said “Sure, no problem!” After all…I really couldn’t feel that much of what was going on. When the doc returned just a minute or so later, she said “WOW! You work fast! Alright, let’s have a baby!”

With just another push, our son was born into the world, at 12:45 pm.

Russ was put directly on my chest on top of a cloth that had been laid down just before he was born. The baby nurse that was in the room for him helped wipe him down as I looked at him, completely in awe. All I could really say was “Hi, baby! Hi, baby! Hi, baby!” I’ll never forget Jonathan’s face – tears streaming down, huge smile plastered on, just as amazed as I was. It was the moment of a lifetime. Nothing could top it. I could hear my mom and mother in law both squealing with joy, hugging each other, and crying, but none of it really made any sense to me at that moment. Everything was fuzzy compared to the sounds of my son’s cry and my husband whispering in my ear that he loved me. I remember (and have on video) looking at Russ and Jonathan and saying to Russ “That’s your daddy! That’s your daddy!” It was just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. We stayed like that for five minutes or so before the baby nurse asked to go weigh and check Russ and took him away for a few minutes.

Right before the baby nurse picked Russ up, the doctor let me know that – though I had some mild abrasions that would feel like a skinned knee – there was no major damage (which was what scared me the most going into the whole experience). She knew how scared I was about really bad tears. I guess Russ just had a small head (it ended up being right in the 50th percentile at birth, I think). I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, expecting a 9 lb. (or more), gargantuan baby boy, and what I ended up with was a 7 lb., 14 oz., handsome little man – and NO irreparable damage! What luck, right?

Seriously, I know I’m going to get hate mail soon.

After just a few minutes with the baby nurse, Russ was returned to my arms, where I was able to get him to nurse. That was weird at first, but we got the hang of it pretty fast. The hospital we delivered at really encourages moms to try and breastfeed within the first hour or so after birth, when babies are usually very awake and active. Russ latched right on with very minimal discomfort, and nursed pretty well for a few minutes on each side. Granted, for the first few days, all I produced was colostrum. But by the time my milk came in on Saturday morning, we had hit a rhythm and things worked out pretty well for us. Two visits with the lactation consultants on staff at the hospital really helped, of course! I cannot say enough about the lactation consultants at Greenville Memorial. They are amazing!

About two hours after his birth, Russ and I were moved from delivery suite to the postpartum room that we remained in for the next two days. This was a funny process because – though it had been removed at that point – my epidural was nowhere near wearing off. So moving me from one bed to the next was…well, entertaining. Thank goodness for a hoss of a male nurse who, along with another nurse, used a nifty little contraption he had to shimmy me from one bed onto the next.

The remaining two days in the hospital were pretty much dedicated to getting to know our new son, waiting for my lazy right leg to regain feeling again (haha…that happened, finally, around 8 or 9 o’clock Wednesday night! Sheesh!), nursing every 2-3 hours, learning about baby care, and trying to recover (and deal with the usual postpartum stuff). Probably the most unpleasant part of the process was the pain of cramping the first few days, especially when I would feed Russ. It was especially bad at night! As long as I stayed on Motrin, it was at least manageable – but I really wish someone had told me that the cramping from the uterus returning to its smaller size would be almost as painful (for me, anyway) as the contractions I felt during the earlier part of my labor. But as is always the case…it was all totally worth it.

I couldn’t have been happier or more thrilled with my birth experience. Greenville Memorial was a wonderful hospital and we got to work with an amazing group of people during the process of having and getting to know our little boy. We felt cared for and looked after the entire time, and the quality of actual education that we received was especially impressive. I’ll definitely be delivering future babies there, Lord willing.

Russ’s birth was the single most incredible event of my life, and though I’m sure any future children Jonathan and I have will be just as amazing and wonderful when they are born, I don’t think anything in life will ever really rival the beauty of that experience. The wonderful privilege I received was that I not only finally got to meet my son, but I was lucky enough to have a birth experience that I would happily go back and re-live if I could. It was just so incredible. I am so blessed. And so in love. 🙂

Introducing… :)

Russell Clark Wilhoit is here! Our little man finally made his long-awaited arrival today, Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 12:45 pm.

Russ weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces and measured 21.25 inches in length. He is perfect and we’re absolutely in love. I don’t know who cried harder when he was born, me or his dad (or my mom, or Jonathan’s mom…).

Here are some pictures. We’ll be in the hospital until Friday morning or afternoon, at which point it will be time to head home with our little man! I look forward to updating with his birth story and some more pictures pretty soon. Love you all and thanks for the prayers and well-wishes!

Short, sweet, and to the point

WE ARE HAVING A BABY!!!

Man, it feels good to finally say that. I mean, granted, we were having a baby no matter what, but there is a very real part of every pregnant woman that believes – somewhere in that hormones-distraught psyche – that she will be pregnant forever. So, it’s nice to say it is officially happening.

The short version is this:

We went to the doc today to check some stuff out and everything looked great. I was dilated 1.5-2 cm, 70% effaced, and Russ responded to a nonstress test wonderfully. The doctor’s last order of business to see if all was good to go with little man was to have an ultrasound done to check my amniotic fluid. And guess what? It was low. In fact (and I hope this isn’t TMI), but some stuff that I’d been experiencing was actually symptomatic of a slow amniotic fluid leak. So, given that I had started having pretty good contractions after the doctor stripped the membranes (look it up, it’s also probably TMI), that Russ was in great health and SO ready to be born, and that my amniotic fluid was low…we decided an induction was the way to go. And lo and behold, here I am in my hospital bed at Greenville Memorial, preparing for an experience that is entirely outside my comfort zone! Awesometastic!

My contractions are 3 minutes or so apart, but they’re not too bad at all. I’m still only about 2 cm dilated, so I know this is just the beginning of a very long and arduous journey towards mommyhood, and I’m as game as one can be for the process. Pitocin scares me a little, since I hear it is basically harvested from the veins of Satan himself. But it’s what it takes to get my little guy here safe and sound, and so I’m okay with it. For someone who is such a control freak in many other areas, I’m pretty chill and open-minded at this point when it comes to labor and delivery. This is Russ’s show. I’m just sitting in the front row.

So, there will be updates coming along sometime maybe tomorrow, maybe Thursday, maybe even as late as Friday. We’ll just hope this gets moving fast and wraps up quick. But next time I post on this blog, I’m going to be a mommy! GAHH!!!!

Kisses and hugs to you all – Becky. 🙂

The last week

Well, it’s Monday morning and I’m realizing that this is most likely the last Monday that I’ll be pregnant. My doctor’s office doesn’t let patients go over 41 completed weeks of pregnancy – and that point, for me, comes on Saturday. So it’s pretty likely that I’ll be induced towards the end of this week, if Russ hasn’t arrived on his own yet. On purpose (if I’m being honest), I scheduled my last doctor’s appointment for Thursday afternoon. Given that it is one day difference from when they’d induce labor anyway, I’m going to ask if they’d consider starting the induction Friday morning of this week.

For one thing, I’m extremely uncomfortable and it seems like any kind of movement causes contractions that hurt, but don’t produce any actual labor. For weeks now, I’ve been going into hours-long periods of regular contractions that even get closer together…only to have the activity fizzle for one reason or another. If it were just a few days of this, I’d understand, but I’ve been going through this off and on since about 36-37 weeks of pregnant…so, close to a month now.

For another thing, Jonathan and I both have families scattered across the southeast who are planning to drive in for the birth and to meet Mr. Russ – and starting an induction at the beginning of the weekend would allow those loved ones to take advantage of the weekend. Some will stay with Jonathan’s parents in Greer, while some will stay at a hotel near the hospital. The plan is for most of the visiting to calm down a bit when we are discharged from the hospital and take Russ home (though, admittedly, I know our parents will probably want to accompany us and watch us take the little guy inside the house and all that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way). I imagine we’ll see a lot of close friends and church family throughout the week for periodical visits, but most everyone I know is really great about understanding the immense change that we’re going to be going through in just a few short days, and about allowing us time to take in all that change. I think it will all work out really well.

Finally – and this is a big one – is the issue of Jonathan’s schedule. He’s taking off a week from work after the baby comes, but if we got things started at the end of this week/beginning of the weekend, well…that would give him a full week AND two weekends on either side of it to enjoy getting to know his son, bonding with him, and honing his diaper-changing skills. Though, I have to say, Jonathan got a LOT of practice in the baby department four years ago when my nephew Wesley was born.

I still don’t *want* an induction. That’s really not the issue. But I’ve been on maternity leave for close to two weeks now, am extremely uncomfortable, am not sleeping well, have been dealing with awful back and hip pain, and well…it’s just time to be done. Some people have a real issue with inductions, and that’s perfectly fine. One thing I’ve found is that there is absolutely no way that any two expectant mothers will agree 100% on how they do everything. No. Way. Never. Happen.

But for me, I honestly feel that if there is medical evidence that the placenta begins to deteriorate after 41-42 weeks of pregnancy, then I am all in when it comes to inducing labor. And I understand the risks associated with induction, and that it does put me at a somewhat increased risk for having to have a cesarean (certainly not my first choice). I know it will not be pleasant. I know it will hurt (though, admittedly, I don’t have a good gauge or scale for that type of pain). There’s just not much I can do at this point except deal with it, and honestly, I choose to believe that it will all be fine.

However, I am going to put on my shoes and head out for a walk with the dog at this point. There’s no sense in sitting on the couch all week waiting for an induction to happen when I could be walking and potentially starting up labor. Who knows if it’ll work, but it’s worth continuing to try!

Due Date is here and so are contractions

Well, it’s the day that I’ve been looking towards all year long…September 11th, 2010. Not that 9/11 is usually a date I “look forward to,” but this year it has been pretty different. I consider it a blessing to be able to take a day that was transformed into something horrible nine years ago, and have it be something almost positive this year. One thing we all learned from the events of September 11th, 2001 is that life has to go on and people have to move forward. Not that we didn’t know that already, but it’s one of those lessons that is always absorbed somewhat deeper in the wake of a loss. Time wants to stop. We want to throw in the towel. We feel sure that we are lost. But we choose to pick ourselves up and continue walking through this crazy world, because we must. Not only do I believe that the souls lost on that day would want us all to continue to celebrate birthdays on 9/11, to be married on 9/11, or even to have babies on 9/11…I also just think that choice to proceed through our lives is a lesson I’d want Russ to have. Whether he’s born sometime in the next 5 or so hours doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, because for the rest of my life, I will think of September the 11th as a juxtaposition of two major experiences in my life. Just as I’ll never forget that day in the fall of my senior year of high school, I will never forget this amazing process and the symbolic (if nothing else) culmination of growing this little life inside of me – exactly nine years to the day after that horrible morning in the library, watching things unfold on the media room television. Life ends, life begins. Tragedy befalls us, but blessings follow. Such is the nature of the cycle we are all a part of.

Great, and now I’m all teary-eyed. And having a contraction, which I’m convinced cannot be real. But boy, let me just say…these things SUCK! The good thing is that I get a break of sorts in between them, but they’re just a very menstrual-y, back-achey thing that I find utterly annoying, for lack of a better word. They’re just…annoying. Nobody ever told me how much contractions would just antagonize, but they really are kind of like my brother Jake, at age 7, sitting there with his finger 1/4 inch from the side of my face on a 10-hour car trip to Nashville, saying “I’m NOT touching you. I’m NOT touching you. I’m NOT touching you.” Early labor contractions are the figurative “little brother” of real labor contractions.

But yeah, my back hurts like the dickens. I’ve been on the phone with the hospital nurse today once, and she told me she thought I was smart to just hang at home until it was so bad that I HAD to go in. Though I know that’s definitely the right plan, and it’s what I fully intend to do…I’m not handling it as peacefully as I had hoped to. I would love it if I’d launch into an “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”-style birth scene, sans the toilet baby, the fainting spouse, and the inaccurately skinny “dramatic reenactment” body double. But for now, we’re left timing and hoping that these contractions become more regular and closer together – and longer lasting and all that fun stuff. You know, all the joys of childbirth. Bring ’em on. Bring on the pain. I’m as ready as I am going to get.

And the verdict is…

I’m still pregnant.

Oh yes, I know, you’re probably just as shocked as I was – which is to say not at all. But today’s doctor’s appointment was great and everything looks good. I’ll admit that today has been a little worrisome just because Russ has not been moving as much as his usual hyper little self. He’s still moving “enough” for safety/medical reasons, just not kicking and squirming around as often as I’m used to. This could be attributed to him perhaps settling lower into my pelvis in preparation for labor to begin (ahem…AHEM…FOR LABOR TO BEGIN, Russ! LABOR!).

Today was another visit with the illustrious “Dr. Fishman,” who I have to admit, is really growing on me. I used to say that I didn’ want him or “that other witch from the doctor’s office” to be the doctors on-call the day I went into labor, but now I think I’d be just happy as could be if he was at the hospital the day I delivered. He’s just a little dry in personality, but that’s okay. He actually laughed at a few of my jokes today, so I think we’re probably good to go.

Today’s cervical check (yippee, indeed) didn’t yield much – I’m effacing just great, but not dilating yet. The doctor told me that he actually would prefer a mom who was effacing well rather than dilating but not effacing as much. I guess what that means is…well, it’s much easier to break down a balsa wood door than it is an oak one. That’s about as much as I can draw from the situation, what with my limited knowledge of gynecology and obstetrics. Just because I have the equipment, doesn’t mean it came with an owner’s manual.

The plan is to wait and be patient, walk, pray, poke my belly button in an effort to annoy this kid into trying to find his way out, etc. – until next Saturday night, at which point an induction will probably be started. Now, I say “Saturday night” not necessarily knowing for a fact that I would check into the hospital at that point in time. But in many cases, moms who are being induced are checked into the hospital “the night before” to receive Cervadil to help with effacement/dilation, and then Pitocin is begun sometime later or the following morning. Again, as the doc reminded me several times today, statistical probability is that I will go into labor, on my own, sometime “within the week.” But we’ll see how it all goes.

At this point, I think as long as my little man gets here safe, healthy, and sometime before the end of this millenium, I’ll be absolutely satisfied.

Are you there, Contractions? It’s me, Becky…

So, with the “39 Week Plan” in full effect, we might have struck paydirt. My contractions started about 1 hr., 45 min. ago and are coming about every 8-ish minutes. Err, well, I think…I have too much ADD to start timing them at this point because, quite frankly, they just don’t hurt as bad as I think they should for this to be the real thing. I know I will eat those words, and I’m tempting fate PURPOSEFULLY with that statement. Do you hear me, Mother Nature? Just call me the little pregnant masochist, because I am saying “Bring on the pain!”

But still, you gotta wonder when you’re a first time mommy what it will feel like and, more importantly, HOW will you know, when it’s the real deal? Because right now, what I’m feeling is simply period-like cramps, tightening of the abdomen, and backache – all shooting up in intermittent spurts. The back pain wasn’t there prior to the commencement of all the other stuff, either, so I don’t think I hurt myself at the gym or anything like that (and all I did was glide along slowly on the elliptical for about 40 minutes, anyway).

So…I dunno. Hmph. (BIG sigh) I’m so ready to find out what this big labor thing is all about. It’s been a mystical process and one that scared me senseless since, oh, 9th grade or so. It’s time to nix the mystery and uncover this bad boy. I’m ready. I hope this turns into something.

Update: Well, it’s the morning after this post and unfortunately, things fizzled out! I know, I was kinda bummed. I got to where I was having contractions (that came in rising waves, coupled with very uncomfortable back spasms) every 6-7 minutes or so, for over three hours! Jonathan was timing them and everything – it felt kind of like we were almost there, almost getting to the real thing. But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking “It has to hurt worse than this.” I also noticed that, though the contractions were coming regularly and getting somewhat closer together, they were not getting stronger or longer-lasting. So, 2 out of 4 isn’t bad…but it also isn’t labor, turns out! *sigh*

I may see about having my doctor’s appointment moved from tomorrow up to this morning. I’d really like to find out if I am dilated any, and possibly see if they can sweep the membranes (and yeah, I’m SO looking forward to that procedure…hmph) to try and move things along. My tummy is so ridiculously low and it feels like it could be “time” at any time now. I’m trying not to be too impatient, but I figure if there are some avenues available to hurry things along and I’m having contractions this much, maybe it will all make sense.

We’ll see…

"The 39 Week Plan"

So, here I am, exactly 39 weeks pregnant. My due date is less than a week away now. And the date on which my doctor(s) would have me come in for a scheduled induction (should my little boy decide to go overdue) is less than 14 days away. We are in the final, FINAL stretch.

Everyone keeps telling me “He’ll come when he’s ready,” and I know they are right, but man…I just do not want him to get too big. That is probably my greatest fear. As I told my mother-in-law earlier, “I’d like to be able to go to the bathroom out of the…um…proper holes when this is all over with.” I know that nobody – not myself, not Russ, and not even the doc – has control over that. But let’s be honest: the female body has got to have at least *somewhat* easier a time accommodating the passage of a 39-weeks-gestation infant than it would accommodating the passage of a 41-weeks-gestation infant, right? RIGHT?

Again, I know I’m really just a sitting duck in this situation – and really, my mind has (for self-preservation reasons, I’m sure) somehow avoided going to the places required of it to consider what physical hell I am about to go through. It’s funny, because I’m one of those silly people who is frightened by the idea of death and can become pretty emotional when trying to wrap my head around the fact that death is inevitable. Well, birth is kind of like that, at least for me at this point…this little guy has GOT to come out somehow. But I know that I have no control over that, and that there is no point in worrying about the pain, because the pain is going to come regardless of how I worry.

So, yeah, it would be great for me if Russ arrived sometime this week. And in all honesty, there is a 50/50 chance that he will. He’ll either get here this week or he’ll get here the following week, but with a solid two weeks left in my time being a pregnant woman…it’s just a matter of fate when he will actually make his appearance.

Pregnancy has been such a blessing and such a “faith-building” process. I’ve said that once before, but it really is true! There’s nothing I’ve ever been through in my life that has convinced me more of how helpless we are as humans, of what a fragile process our creation is. During my own pregnancy, I’ve had several friends who either struggled to become pregnant or became pregnant, only to suffer the tragic loss of their babies through miscarriage. It’s incredibly humbling when you sit here with this big, pregnant belly – and, by all indications, a healthy baby – and consider how easily the situations could be reversed or exchanged. The creation of life is truly a miracle.

And at this point, meeting this little guy would be a miracle, because I think he is pretty comfortable in there! So, this week, we have a sort of “39 Week Plan” happening. It all starts today. Now that I’m out of work, I’ll have even more time to focus on this great plan. The weather for this week – though not as wonderfully mild and moderate as these past two days here in Greenville have been (60s this morning when I walked outside! 60s!!) – is looking pretty nice. So there will be walking. There will be walking, walking, and some more walking. Outside, in the mornings at the mall (yes, I am going to become a mall walker this week…laugh if you like), at the gym…anywhere I can waddle my way along to try and get this little guy lower in the pelvis, I will do it!

At current count, I have 2 lbs. of fresh cut pineapple sitting in the fridge, so we’ll try out that old wives tale. I have the recipe for the famous, labor-inducing Eggplant Parmesan served at the well-known Scalini’s Italian Restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though Atlanta is only about two hours away, I’m not about to travel anywhere that far away from the comforts of home and a close travel radius to Greenville Memorial Hospital. So we’ll try making that sometime this week, also. Scalini’s is said to have HUNDREDS of “Eggplant Babies,” courtesy of some as-yet-unidentified substance in its recipe. We shall see…

Of course there are…um…other things that you can do to supposedly induce labor, and I will say absolutely nothing as to whether that is happening (but assume what you will).

So, bring it on, week 39!!