Thursday, May 24, 2012

Three Weeks

Since we came home from the hospital with a six pound little baby named Ellie, the last three weeks have sort of blurred together.  Sleepless nights, nursing sessions every two hours, crying fits, cuddles, sleepy baby smiles, and an endless amount of dirty dishes and laundry.  Who knew such a tiny person could dirty so many things?  ;)

It has been wonderful, and it has been incredibly difficult.  For the first ten days of Ellie's life, the main problem was getting her to sleep by herself.  She loves being held and snuggled and doesn't like to be put down very much.  Since we didn't want to spend more money on buying a bassinet, which by the way is not too cheap, we decided to have her sleep in the Pack-n-Play in our room.  Although there were occasional nights of her sleeping a few hours at a time in there, for the most part she just would not fall asleep longer than thirty minutes in it.  Sometimes I resorted to sleeping with her on the couch just so Israel and I could get some sleep.  If she was snuggled, she would sleep for four or five hours straight.

Finally, a friend on facebook told me about the Rock-n-Play which she had used as a bassinet for her son.   It sounded like a good idea, since it's at a bit of an incline and it just very cozy and snuggly.  I'm not sure if Ellie has a bit of acid reflux but she definitely hates being flat on her back for long periods of time.  I told Israel about it after another sleepless night, and we purchased it at Target a few nights ago.  Best $54 we've ever spent.  The first night we put her in it, she didn't have any fits and slept for a solid four hours straight.  Total lifesaver!

She loves it!  

That (so far) has been the solution to the first problem.  The most recent issue we've been having is endless amounts of crying in the evening.  This started when Ellie was about ten days old, and almost consistently, she will cry every night between 5 until about 10 or 11.  Non-stop crying between feedings.  We've tried literally everything to try and calm her down, but she just wails and wails.  It sounds like a rage cry where she's red in the face and makes sounds that should probably break glass.  This is both sad and frustrating as parents, because I feel so helpless in trying to figure out what's bothering her.  After the worst night on Monday, I finally called our pediatrician the next day and spoke to a nurse who thought it sounded like she has colic.  

I figured this was a good possibility, but was so discouraged when I heard this.  Especially since colic is such a mysterious condition that no doctor really seems to know what causes it or how to cure it.  You pretty much just have to ride it out, and most people say it usually lasts until they're about three or four months old.  I just came home and cried.  The last few weeks have been so emotional, especially with my crazy postpartum hormones, sometimes I just join Ellie in her crying.  I felt like a bad mom and sad because I just want to enjoy my new baby, but I feel like I'm going insane when Ellie's in the middle of a crying spell. It helps so much to have such a supportive husband.  I don't know how I would keep my sanity without Israel's help.  We take turns trying to soothe her or just letting the other one sleep while holding a hysterical Ellie.  

I have cut dairy out of my diet for the last two days, and Ellie has been way less fussy and in a better mood.  It's too soon to tell if this might be the cause of her distress, so I think I'll continue keeping away from dairy (although I so miss cheese and milk... and ice cream!) for a little while.  I'm also planning on visiting the lactation consultant at the hospital and seeing if they have any suggestions.  

I really can't believe it was just three weeks ago I was in labor and about to meet our little daughter for the first time.  I don't miss the huge pregnant belly or really being pregnant.  I'm still getting used to rolling over in bed to my other side without propping myself up first.  I've forgotten how to roll!  Although it's the most difficult thing I've ever done, giving birth to Ellie is the most important thing I've ever done in my life.  It's such a sacred honor to bring a new life into the world.  So precious.  It's hard being a new mom, but I love my little girl so much.  I love her little sighs and grunts and sleepy baby smiles.  I love seeing her change every day and watching her grow.  Although it's the hardest job in the world, I really, really love being a mom.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My First Mother's Day

It was a very special first Mother's Day on Sunday.  Our little girl let us sleep in until about 11:30, after being up numerous times throughout the night feeding and changing her.  My love gave me some beautiful flowers and a very sweet card, and we went on our first family picnic at the park.  Later we went over to my parents' house to say hello and wish my own mom a happy Mother's Day.  It was a special day, and I'm so lucky to be Ellie's mom.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ellie's Birth Story

It all started with a Habanero sandwich.  I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions consistently every night for about two weeks. Each evening I would excitedly time the contractions to see how far apart they were but they usually went away entirely within a few hours.  It was incredibly frustrating because I just wanted to meet our daughter already.  My due date came and went and suddenly I was three days overdue and I thought I might have to get induced if our little girl didn’t come that weekend.  

It was April 29, Sunday night, when Israel and I were watching X-Files and had just ordered sandwiches from Dominos.  I decided on the very spicy Habanero with lots of jalapenos, hoping that the spicy food old wives’ tale would smoke her out.  My mouth was on fire and within an hour, I started having contractions.  I began timing them but they weren’t all that close together and by the time I went to bed, they had dissipated.  I thought once again, that this was just a false alarm and that our little girl might never come.  I had more than once joked with Israel in the last week that I would probably be pregnant forever.  It was hard to imagine life not being pregnant anymore. 

On April 30, the next morning, I woke up around 6 feeling contractions regularly.  This got my attention because I had never gotten contractions at this time of the day; they were almost always in the evenings.  After about a half hour of feeling them consistently in my lower abdomen and having them circle around to my lower back, I began timing them.  They were five minutes apart and kept coming.  Israel woke up and noticed that I was awake and kept touching my cell phone to check the time.  I casually said, “I might be going into labor.  I’m timing the contractions but I’m not sure if this is the real thing or not.”  I told him I would let him know if they were still pretty consistent and told him to go back to sleep, although he just stayed awake since he was pretty sure it sounded like the real deal finally.

After another half hour, the contractions were still coming at five minutes apart.  They weren’t all that painful yet, just felt more like intense menstrual cramps.  All of the books and our hospital childbirth class told us to call the hospital when my contractions were five minutes apart, each lasting one minute over the course of an hour.  After I had been timing them for two hours, I called the hospital and let them know that I was coming in.  Israel and I finished packing our bags and I tried to eat some peanut butter toast but couldn’t even finish it because I was too nervous and excited.  We left for the hospital and I was led to a room where I thought I would be staying and laboring in. 

Right before leaving for the hospital the first time

At my last doctor’s appointment the week before, I was dilated to 1 centimeter and 50% effaced.  Another nurse checked me when I got to the hospital and I was 3 centimeters dilated and about 70% effaced!  I was so excited to hear that all of those Braxton Hicks I had been feeling for weeks hadn’t been for nothing and that my body was actually preparing for labor.  I changed into a gown and the nurse hooked me up to a monitor, keeping track of the baby’s heart rate and seeing how regular my contractions were.  Over the course of two hours, I kept feeling the contractions and soon they were about three minutes apart.  When the nurse came back to check me, I was still 3 centimeters and about 80% effaced.  She told me that it sounded like I may be in early labor, but they were going to send me back home.  They told me to come back when my contractions were two minutes apart or were so strong I wouldn’t be able to walk or talk through them.  I was so disappointed.  I hadn’t read much about early labor and didn’t even know they could send you home when I felt like I was definitely in labor.  I had known women who came in dilated only 1 centimeter and they got to stay.  I didn’t want to be sent home; I wanted to be kept since I was obviously having regular contractions.

The nurse gave me a couple of Tylenol Codeine and sent me home with instructions to rest and come back if the contractions got stronger.  I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously, that I really was in labor.  After doing a little Google research at home, I read that this happens to a lot of women in early labor.  But most people say if this does happen to you, keep active and keep walking.  I did nap for about an hour and the contractions had worn off a little bit when I woke up.  I did not want to wait another two days until going into “real” labor, so I was feeling quite determined when I woke up to have this baby that day. 

Israel and I went for two different walks that afternoon, the second one for about an hour.  On our walk, the contractions intensified to the point where I was feeling one right after another.  All the pain was in my back.  That evening, they had become more inconsistent but they were definitely becoming more painful.  I had told my sister Renae earlier that morning before leaving for the hospital that I might be in labor.  She left her home in Indiana and was in Topeka by that evening. 

Israel and I went to bed that night, not sure what was going to happen, but I felt confident that I would be back at the hospital the next day.  Surely enough, when we went to bed I couldn’t sleep at all.  The contractions were back and they were stronger than before.  They were coming at five minutes apart and didn’t stop through the whole night.  I didn’t get any sleep and for the first part of the night, I just lay in bed, curled up on my side and clutching my pillows when I felt the contraction intensify.  It got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe and just had to cry through each one.  It felt like my back and front were being compressed and squeezed so tightly and that I was being lit on fire.  That’s the best way I know how to describe what my contractions felt like.  Israel rubbed my back for a while, where I was feeling the most pain, but I couldn’t stand being in bed anymore.  Feeling restless and quite helpless, I just paced the living room floor in the dark until a contraction would come and then I just had to stand still and try and breathe through it.  It was better if I didn’t move. 

I felt crazy with no sleep, not eating much and I was in so much pain but I wasn’t sure if I should call the hospital again because I definitely did not want to be sent home again.  I had a doctor’s appointment set up for that afternoon, but I wasn’t sure if I could wait that long.  Renae came over after Israel left for work on Tuesday morning, May 1, and intended to stay with me that afternoon until my appointment.  I decided after about an hour to go ahead and call the hospital and see what they thought I should do.  I called Labor and Delivery in tears and in mid-contraction, and hearing the strain in my voice, they told me to go ahead and come in.  I was relieved to hear this and decided that I wasn’t going to come home unless I went into labor or they induced me because I just couldn’t do this much longer. 

Around 9:30, Renae and I drove very carefully to the hospital and my mom met us there, for it hurt just to get in and out of the car, and we had just gotten to the walkway from the parking garage to the hospital, when I had to stop walking.  I reached for my lower back and a nurse who passed us in the hallway saw the way I was standing and asked if I’d like a wheelchair.  I hadn’t even thought of this but knew it would have taken me a while just to walk to Labor and Delivery, so she went and got one.  I was wheeled into a labor room and the same nurse, Cindy, from the day before came in and said she knew I would be back soon.  She checked me and I was between a 4 and 5 and fully effaced!  She still wasn’t sure if they were going to keep me so they wanted to monitor me for an hour and see if I would progress. 

When Cindy came back and checked me again, I was definitely a 5 (already halfway there!) and they decided to keep me!  I was so relieved!  My mom and Renae stayed with me in my room as I continued to labor and felt the contractions growing even stronger.  It helped to just take it one contraction at a time and try and focus on breathing through each one.  I wanted to wait and call Israel until I knew for sure that I would be staying, so I had Renae let him know and my mom picked him from work and drove him back to the hospital.  Israel was there by 11:45 and it was so wonderful having my husband there with me, holding my hand and leading me through some breathing exercises.  I felt a lot better once he got there.  At 12 p.m., I was dilated to a 6 and I put in my request for an epidural.  I had been on the fence about getting one, but by this point, I was tired from pretty much being up all night two nights in a row and from the contractions that I just wanted a little rest.  Within about a half hour, the anesthesiologist came down and gave me the epidural.  I was so worried that I might move while they were inserting the needle in my back, but it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. 

My contractions were so strong, they were literally off the charts

I began feeling the effects of the epidural—my legs felt heavy and I couldn’t really move them from being so numb, and I felt a little relief from the contractions.  My mom and Renae left after Israel got there to grab some lunch for him and run a couple errands.  Around 1 p.m., the doctor on call, Dr. Blake, came in to check me and then break my water since it still hadn’t broken on its own.  I was already dilated to a 7 and when she broke my water (which involved inserting a croquet hook-looking object up there), I really didn’t feel the gush that everyone describes and that you see in movies.  Dr. Blake thought the majority of my bag of waters might be behind the baby’s head and that more might come out later. 

They went ahead and started me on Pitocin at 1:45 and from there things progressed pretty quickly (for a while…).  Cindy came back in and told me to try and rest for a while before the pushing stage.  Israel laid down on the couch and we both tried to sleep although I know I didn’t really get much sleep.  It did feel nice to just close my eyes and try and not think about what was to come very soon.  My nurse told me that I would feel pressure during the pushing stage and I wasn’t sure how much pain I would be in. 

At 2:54, Cindy returned with some ice chips, checked me again, and I was dilated to a 10!  It was already time to start pushing.  I couldn’t believe how quickly I had progressed once Tuesday morning came, and I was ready to meet our little girl at last.  Israel and I just stared at each other in disbelief and excitement as the moment that we had been waiting for nine months had finally come.  I started pushing at 3:15, with just Israel and my nurse in the room helping me through each one.  By this point, the epidural was starting to wear off no matter how many times I pushed the magical button that would release another dose.  As I started to feel pressure and the urge to push, I would push three times during each contraction about every minute.  After about an hour, Israel said, “I can see part of her head!  And she has a lot of dark hair!”  We both had predicted that she would have Israel’s black hair and that there would be a lot of it. 

I had heard many stories of women only pushing for thirty minutes or less and their baby was out.  I knew that for a lot of first time mothers, the pushing stage usually lasted anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours.  I was beginning to grow discouraged after pushing for an hour and there was little to no progress.  I kept asking the nurse and Israel if they could see more of her head, and they could only see a tiny bit of it.  After two hours and little progress, the epidural had worn off completely and I was in a whole lot of pain.  It really was like I was having a natural labor because I could feel every single contraction and they were strong (especially with the Pitocin).  Still at this point, I could only feel the pain in my back and the word I used to describe it was debilitating.  I felt the pressure increase until it felt like I was being tightly compressed on my lower back, like something very, very large was crushing it. 

At the two hour point, my nurse was starting to get concerned, because the baby’s heart rate was dropping.  She put an oxygen mask on me and I tried to breathe as deeply as I could for my baby’s sake.  This is the point where I began to get really worried and scared.  Dr. Blake came in to check on me and suggested Israel and I try a really old school pushing technique called Tug of War.  I was borderline exhausted but willing to try anything before the word Caesarean came up.  She knotted two ends of a bed sheet, and I pulled one end and Israel pulled on the other end at the end of my bed, all during each contraction.  The theory was that we would create tension and it would give me more resistance each time I pushed.  I pulled as tightly as I could during each contraction and was completely out of breath after each one. 

This went on for about 45 minutes and still with hardly any progress on the baby’s head crowning.  We stopped the Tug of War method and I continued to push like I had before, but I kept saying to Cindy and Israel, “I’m done.  I don’t think I can do this anymore.”  I was writhing in pain from the contractions and was in the most pain of my life.  After three hours of pushing, Dr. Blake returned at 6:15 and asked if I wanted to try the vacuum to get the baby out, which would involve another thirty minutes of pushing.  But she also said it didn’t look too promising since I was swollen quite a bit down there and she didn’t think she would be able to get the baby out vaginally.  I was completely worn out and in the worst pain and I told her just to do the C-section.  I wanted to be done and I couldn’t handle any more pain.  At that point, I didn’t care what they did to me as long as I could just meet my daughter already. 

My nurse Cindy, who had stayed with me all day, was ending her shift so she had to leave without delivering the baby.  Another nurse, Tammy, took her place as they got things ready for the C-section.  This period of time is a bit of a blur as I waited with only Israel in the labor room and my doctor and nurse were getting the surgery room prepped.  All I remember is continually moaning in pain, shaking and squirming around, and Israel trying to help me breathe, but I just kept feeling the strong contractions and I lost it at that point.  I felt delirious as I couldn’t even focus on the breathing techniques.  I kept asking Israel when the anesthesiologist would get there so they could just give me the drugs and why it was taking so long! 

Finally, at 7 p.m., my nurse came back in and told me they were going to begin the surgery.  Israel got suited up in the “bunny suit” they gave him and he was covered from head to toe in white except for his blue cap.  As they wheeled me down the hallway in my bed, I continued to thrash about in pain from the contractions and I couldn’t stop moaning.  The nurse told me to keep pushing since the baby was still wedged in the birth canal and that would help relieve some of the pressure.  We arrived at the surgery room and Israel blew me a kiss as the doors were closing.  He would be able to come back in once they were done giving me a spinal tap and preparing everything else for the surgery. 

One of my family members took this picture of Israel as he waited in the hallway for me

They transferred me from my bed to the operating table and suddenly I felt like I was really in a hospital for real.  My hands wouldn’t stop shaking, so the nurse held them as they inserted the spinal tap in my back.  I had known that a C-section was a possibility but I really thought I would never need one, so I kind of skipped over reading about them in all the pregnancy books and blogs.  Suddenly, I felt so unprepared for what was about to happen, and I felt scared of someone cutting open my skin to get my baby out.  The spinal soon took effect and I could feel absolutely nothing from the top of my abdomen all the way to my toes.  I couldn’t move a muscle and I was glad for that, especially since I was about to have major surgery. 

Israel was able to come back in the room, and he stood beside me behind the large sheet they had up blocking my view of the rest of my body (which I was also glad for).  They started the surgery, and although I couldn’t feel much pain, I felt a lot of tugging and pulling in my abdomen.  I felt all of my organs up under my chest and I was having trouble breathing.  Israel told me later he peeked when they began to pull the baby out and saw some of my organs.  He can say now that he has literally seen my guts (crazy!!).  That’s love.  Dr. Blake was struggling to pull the baby out because of how wedged she was down there.  And it turns out that she was in the posterior position, although head down, which means her face was turned up.  That explained the difficult pushing phase and why she wasn’t making any progress on coming out.  If I had continued to push, she wouldn’t have been able to come out that way, or if she did she would have major bruises and maybe a couple injuries. 

I felt so anxious not being able to see what was going on but so excited to finally meet our daughter after a very long and traumatic labor.  At 7:22, I heard my baby’s first cry and tears began streaming down my face.  It was over, and our little girl was finally here.  They placed her on another small table too far up for me to see her yet and began cleaning her.  Israel exclaimed so I could hear, “Oh honey, she’s so pretty!”  They announced her weight at 6 pounds and 2 ounces and she was 18 ¼ inches long.  Our little girl was indeed quite little.  Ten minutes had gone by and I still hadn’t caught a glimpse of her face, only tiny feet wiggling around on the table.  The surgeons continued to stitch me up and I was still having trouble breathing as they put my organs back in place. 

Finally, the nurses handed her to Israel and brought her over to my side to see her.  Fresh tears welled up in my eyes all over again and my heart was overflowing with joy at seeing her, after dreaming of her face for so long.  When I first saw her face, I couldn’t believe how perfect she was.  I had felt a love for her while she was still in the womb and I had nine months for that love to grow.  But when Israel placed her beside me, my love for her became so much more real and I was completely smitten.  I couldn’t stop thanking the Lord for this precious gift.  This was our daughter, here at last!  And she was more beautiful than we ever could have imagined. 

The first time I saw my daughter

So exhausted, but so full of love and happiness

Israel loving on little Miss Ellie

I’ve got a lot of stretch marks, a jiggly stomach, and a six inch Caesarean scar across my lower abdomen that I’ll probably have for the rest of my life, but it’s completely worth it all.  The only important thing is having our little girl with us now, not the way she got here.  On this day, May 1, 2012, Ellie Marie came into our lives and we are more than thrilled to be her parents.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Melt my Heart

Love these two.  Watching the love Israel has for our daughter truly just melts me.  Last night, after we gave Ellie a sponge bath (which she does not like one bit), she was feeling quite traumatized.  After a very long crying fit, Israel took her in his arms in the rocking chair and started making up a story right there on the spot just for her.  Although she has no idea what he's saying, I think she was really comforted by hearing his voice.  She calmed herself down and was soon asleep, but Israel continued to tell his story.  I can't wait for when she is a little older, and I can just see these two making up stories together before bedtime.  I didn't think it was possible to love my husband any more than I already do, but seeing him with our daughter just takes that love to a whole other level.  I'm so thankful for such an amazing man, both as a husband and as the father of our child.  So lucky, so blessed.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sushi and Sunshine

Yesterday... I had sushi for the first time in many, many moons.  This is one of the top no-no foods during pregnancy because of the raw fish, so it was a wonderful treat to have it again today!  Bekah and my mom have come over for a few hours the last couple of days and it has been so nice.  We've eaten lunch on our deck on both days and it's wonderful to get some fresh air when I'm home so much these days.

My mom has been amazing at helping out with Ellie.  It's really hard not getting sleep at night and then being up most of the day too, taking care of Ellie and literally not having many spare minutes to myself.  These days I really feel like the theme is:  There's no time!  The house is a mess and most of the time I'm trying to keep Ellie from crying and just trying to keep her a happy baby.  It's been so great having my mom come over and watch Ellie while I try to get a few things done or just shower or take a nap.  I'm very thankful to live five minutes away from her, because honestly I don't know what I would do without some kind of help during the day.  My mom is pretty amazing. I hope to be such a mom to my little girl.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One Week

My baby is one week old today.  In some ways, it feels like she is already so much older and that we've had her for much longer.  Last Monday, I went into early labor and continued to labor until Tuesday morning when I was having the most painful back contractions of my life.  36 hours after my initial contractions and after three extremely painful hours of pushing, I had an emergency C-section due to Ellie's position in the birth canal and finally met our baby girl.  Recovery has been rough and how things went down definitely wasn't how I envisioned my birth experience, but none of it really matters now that we have a beautiful healthy baby girl in our arms.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

I've been enjoying getting to know Ellie this week and learning her different cries and cues.  I love the way her tiny lips pucker (oh, by the way, she did end up with Israel's Cupid bow lips) and her eye brows raise in the most adorable way after I nurse her.  I absolutely love her scent and cannot stop kissing her all day long.  I love her tiny nose and how it's always cold, even if the rest of her body is completely warm.  I love the way she nuzzles into my neck.  I love that she has a combination of both Israel and I's features and that she is ours.  I love watching Israel be so tender and protective with her, and watching the two of them together.  I love hearing Israel sing Cuban lullabies to her and that he calls us his girls.  I love our little family.

I still can't believe I'm a mother, but hands down, it is the best job in the world.  I absolutely love being Ellie's mother-- I can't think of a more rewarding experience.  Happy One Week, Baby Girl!  Just please don't grow up too fast now.  ;)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Welcome to the World

Ellie Marie Sanchez,

Born on May 1, 2012 at 7:22 p.m., weighing 6.2 pounds and 18 1/4 inches long.  

She is a beautiful and perfect blessing, and we couldn't be more in love.