Monday, May 30, 2011

Birth Story: The Long Slow Build and Next Best Things

When we found out that my mom's babies were all right on time or a few days early, Jesse & I joked about having a May Day baby. "Wouldn't it be cool to have the first baby on the board at the Birthing Inn?" When the contractions hit hard around 11.30 PM on April 30th, I thought that we might just have our May Day baby. I decided not to wake Jesse up unless the contractions got closer together.

I sat on the birthing ball we had borrowed from some friends of ours for a while, but every time a contraction hit that I had to breathe through, I would shiver uncontrollably. I just couldn't get warm. I remembered reading or hearing something about water helping with back labor and, since most of my contractions were in my back, I decided to draw a hot bath. It did ease the pain and it helped me get warm. Once I had stopped shivering long enough to think, I started to worry that there was something wrong.

I got out of the tub to try to do some research in my awesome book from the Mayo Clinic. I started shivering again almost instantly. I managed to flip through a few chapters, but I couldn't find anything. I finally shivered my way to the bedroom to wake Jesse up to come look for me. He was very groggy but managed to stumble back across the house with me as I got back in the warm water to get the shivering under control.

He couldn't find anything. Not in the book. Not online. I decided to call the midwife just to be sure that nothing was wrong. I felt bad waking her up (it was now 2.30 or so in the morning of May 1st), but I wanted to make sure that we didn't need to go to the hospital for some kind of monitoring.

She was baffled. She'd never heard of anything like this. She said that as long as I wasn't running a fever or feeling nauseaus, we were probably fine. She advised me to try to get some more sleep.

I had Jesse pile more blankets on the bed & crawled into bed with my cat. There's no better heater than a purring cat. At least I think so.

I woke up in the morning and the contractions had completely fizzled out. Sigh. I guess I'm not getting a May Day baby after all. Which, to a certain extent, I was actually fine with, I had packed that Saturday full and wasn't sure I wanted to try to do all of that while dealing with back labor.

Fast forward to 12 AM Mother's Day (May 8). I had been sleeping and was woken up by more back labor. Jesse was still up working on his guitar (it's a long story, you'd have to ask him). I came out to the kitchen and asked for water. That's the first thing the midwives ask, so I wanted to make sure I had two bottles down before I called or anything. Jesse was watching me breathe and shiver and he said, "I think this is it. I think we're going to have our baby."

These contractions didn't feel any different than the last set, so I was decidedly not as optimistic. I decided to get in the tub again. It's a little hazy, but I think I took two baths through the course of the night and drank lots of water. Since the contractions never settled down into a pattern or got closer together than about 10 minutes, we decided to go back to bed. Somewhere in here I lost my mucous plug & decided to call first thing Monday morning to get an appointment to get my cervix checked.

I woke up still having contractions about 10 to 20 minutes apart. We decided to skip church to get some extra sleep and finally got ourselves up to meet my family for Mother's Day lunch at our favorite Mongolian grill. We laughed with my mom about how surreal it would be to have a baby on Mother's day.

We came back home & took a nap. We figured if we were in labor, it would be best to sleep as much as we could. When we woke up, I wanted to take a walk "in nature" for Mother's Day. Start a tradition, baby or no baby. We looked online & discovered that our metro parks system maintains several nature parks within the city limits. We decided to go check out Snake Lake Nature Reserve. The Nature Center was closed for the weekend, but the trails were open. We walked for almost a mile. By the end of the mile, my contractions were dropping down under 10 minutes apart.

We decided to go get some BBQ (spicy food) to try to keep things going. When we got to the restaraunt, we were informed by our waitress that she was the only one who had 2 other people go into labor at her table. We gave each other a high-five.

By the time dinner was over, the contractions had settled back down so we went home & went to bed.

On Monday morning (May 9), I emailed my colleagues saying that I wasn't feeling well and would stay home. Since I still wasn't sure if these contractions were going to settle into a pattern, I didn't want everyone getting all excited for nothing. I emailed my boss directly and informed him that I thought we were in early labor and I may not make it in again.

I called the clinic and requested a cervical check. My mom's contractions never got steady with her first pregnancy (me), I wanted to get checked and make sure we knew where we were at. As I was getting ready for my appointment, I was thinking, I don't even care if it's much, I'll be happy if we're at 1 cm.

My mom decided to come take me to my appointment in case the cervical check triggered actual active labor.

2 cm and cervix "soft like butter", ready for lots of changes.

I rescheduled my weekly appointment for the next week, went home, and went to bed.

I slept off and on all day.

I was awakened at around 3 in the morning (May 10) with more strong back contractions, accompanied by that blasted shivering. I drew a bath & pulled up my contraction timer app, since it felt like these were closer together.

I timed six contractions at less that 4 minutes apart.

Ok, now we're getting somewhere.

I woke Jesse up saying, "I just timed six contractions at less than 4 minutes apart."

He sprang out of bed sputtering. And followed me back to the tub so I could get warm.

We timed an hour of contractions and called the midwife at around 430 in the morning. She said that since this was the first, she wanted us to wait a little bit longer and call again. We went back to bed and I got some more sleep in between contractions.

We were just getting back up and getting ready to start timing the contractions again when I had a bloody show.

We called the midwife again, and she decided to have us meet the next midwife on call (there's a group of them, and I had met all of them before this point) at the clinic at 8.

I showered and we loaded up our "to go" bag in the car & headed to clinic.

While I was in the changing room getting ready for my cervical check, I felt a warm trickle run down my leg. What the hell? I don't think I peed. Holy crap. I think my water just broke. "Um, honey? I think my water just broke."

Chuckle. "What? Are you serious?"

Then the midwife, Kim Horvath, came in & I heard him tell her. She laughed too. "Well, I guess you're having a baby today."

I got myself sort of cleaned up & got back up on the chair.

7 cm, which apparently is pretty good, since Kim and the nurses were impressed that I'd made it that long.

We headed down the hall for fetal monitoring while Kim & the birthing assistants, Melissa and Susan, got the room set up downstairs.

The sensation of the amniotic fluid leaking was absolutely disgusting. Every move I made caused more of it to gush out. I think I said "Ew" or "Gross" about a hundred times before we got settled into our birthing room. I changed into my labor dress and got up on the bed.

Since I'm Group B Strep positive, the first order of business was to get an IV in. It took Kim a couple of tries to get the needle in, but that's never really bothered me, so I just waited. The tape really bugged me, but that was about it.

I labored for a couple of hours, on the bed, on the birthing ball, and walked a little. I was still shivering pretty badly so Melissa threw some blankets in the dryer and brought them out for me. They were heavenly.

Sometime around 10.30, Kim checked me again and I had dialated to 9 cm. They started filling the birthing tub & pulled all the baby equipment out. I had another costume change to get in the water. Jesse got his trunks on and got in with me.

The warm water felt absolutely amazing. We were so excited. We were going to be holding Panda by noon for sure.

A half an hour later, Kim came in and I had stalled out at 9 cm. I was crushed.

I climbed back out of the tub and changed back into my other labor clothes to start walking. I walked the halls. I lunged up and down the stairs. I sat on the birthing ball and rocked.

We couldn't get the contractions to come any more than once every half hour. My legs were so sore and from all the shivering that it was getting hard to walk up the stairs.

Kim let me go for 3 or 4 hours, and then she said the words I had hoped wouldn't come. "I think we need to transfer you to the hospital. Your uterus has been contracting basically for three days. I think it's just decided to give up."

We cried. Actually, I sobbed, and Jesse held and cried with me. It was so devestating to make it all the way to 9 cm and not be able to finish it out. Panda wasn't going to get her name on the board at all. The credit for the birth would all go to St. Joe's. This wasn't what I wanted.

"Please," I prayed. "Don't let them give me a Cesarian."

Since it had been several hours, Kim gave me the next dose of antibiotics before we packed up and left.

We got settled into our new room at the hospital with all the monitors and the horrid hospital gown. They wouldn't let me wear my labor dress.

I sat in the bed and sniffled while they hooked up fluids and the Pitocin to my IV.

In the interest of keeping this PG, I won't share the words that went through my head when the Pitocin hit my system. But if anyone has ever told you that it's evil, they're right.

Those contractions sent my shivers through the roof. I'm sure it looked like I was having a seziure every time one hit. As the got closer together, Kim came back in to the room and watched me shake.

She talked to my mom and decided to recommend an epidural. I had basically been up for 17 hours and shivering for most of that. She didn't think I would physically have the strength to push. If I got an epidural, I would be at least be able to sleep for a little while.

Jesse and I attempted to talk about it, but I was in so much pain and so tired, I just didn't care anymore. He asked a few questions (which I very much appreciated) and then looked at me. I asked him what he thought we should do and he broke down and cried. Watching me shake like that tore him up emotionally. He prayed about it and felt like we should go ahead with it.

The anesthesiologist came in and started running through his disclaimers. At that point, we both just wanted him to shut up and stick the needle in. They brought Jesse around in front of me on the side of the bed so I could lean on him while the Dr was looking for the right spot.

Several more contractions hit before the epidural kicked in. The last one I felt was the only one that pushed me over the edge and left me completely out of control. Jesse heard me starting to groan and lose control of my breathing. He started regulating his breathing, which was the most helpful thing he could have done at the time. It pulled me out of the pain and helped me to regulate mine.

I started falling asleep before the Dr left the room. I was finally warm. And so tired.

They let me sleep for about half an hour. Then Kim came back in and said it was time to push. It was time to get excited again.

We pushed for 45 minutes and out she came. Jesse's voice cracked, "It's a girl." I looked over to see tears streaming down his face. And then I saw her. And she was beautiful. And purple.

I got a good look at her face and all of her features were just perfect. A full head of dark hair. She had big beautiful dark eyes. A little button nose. The tiniest little fingers. And her mouth. Round. Red. Rosebud lips. Just perfect.
After the cord finished pulsing, they clamped it off and Jesse cut the last physical link between us. She was now her own person. This little life that I had carried for nearly 40 weeks was on her own. It was a spiritual moment.

Then they asked the name. I looked at her & then her daddy and asked:

"What do you think? Do we have our AJ?"

The tears renewed and he nodded.

"Can you do it?"

He shook his head.

I took a deep breath to steady my voice. "Aravis. Aravis Jade."

Aravis Jade Carrigan was born on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 7.59 PM during the sunset. She was 6 lbs 10 oz and 19.5 in.

She's ours. And she's here.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

34 Week Maternity Shoot

We had our maternity photos taken by the lovely and super talented Stacy Wagoner.

We went down to Point Defiance park here in Tacoma & had the shoot in front of the pagoda and the Asian garden. A couple of weeks later, the pagoda was burned by an arsonist. We may have gotten some of the last photos in its original state.

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite shots.

This one is me being a goofy Aspergian: "Can I pat him on the head?" Stacy, laughing: "Sure."
The rain finally let up long enough to get some awesome reflection shots.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Confessions of a Vulcan Mama

"But it's not logical, Jim." - Spock

I hate emotions. They're not logical. Pregnancy is a roller coaster of emotions. Ergo, I hate being pregnant.

Okay, okay. "Hate" is a little strong.

But I do strongly prefer the consistency of logic to the changeability of emotion. In the span of minutes, I can swing from excited to scared to happy to grumpy to sad to downright angry.

I wish I had been more consistent about blogging through the journey of pregnancy, but I've been so tired that it hasn't been a high priority. It doesn't bother me much, I just wish I'd had more energy. (Don't we all?)

A lot of women enjoy pregnancy immensely. I am not one of them. I am blogging so that, if you're like me, you know you're not alone.

Live long and prosper.

PS. Eventually these posts will move over to a blog devoted to parenting, once DLH & I decide on a domain & get the blog set up. Ah, the downsides to having two geeks in a marriage... It takes a lot more work to get anything set up. :D

32 Weeks: You must be getting excited...

(This was written almost 2 weeks ago. Things are slightly better now.)

... Actually, at the moment, no, I'm not.

If you're only interested in the happy moments of pregnancy, please stop reading now.

This last weekend was rather emotional for both DLH & I. Given our shared proclivity towards black humor, we have jokingly referred to it as early-onset post-partum depression. While neither of us thinks that this is that serious, the emotional adjustment has been rather difficult of late. DLH has been irritable and quick-tempered and I have been alternatively weepy and grumpy.

We realized that we have a long way to go still in just learning to take care of ourselves, let alone adding Panda to the mix. This has led to some "What the heck were we thinking? We're not ready for this!" emotions and conversations. (Are you ever? I don't think so.)

On Saturday morning, as we were heading out to a wedding of all places, I stated, "I don't want to have a baby any more." DLH lovingly responded, "I think you do. Anyway, it's a little late for that now." My emotions have dulled into a state of resigned ambivilence since then. This baby is coming whether I think I'm ready or not, so I'm going to try to make the best of it.

But, if I don't seem all that excited this week, it's because I'm not.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gender Neutrality and Why It's Important to Us

Over the course of the last few months, I (Amy) have had several conversations with friends and family about our decision to not find out the gender of Panda. The responses have ranged from "That's awesome!" to "How am I going to shop for you if I don't know the gender?" Since Panda's arrival is nearly upon us, I felt like it was important to talk about what we mean by gender neutrality and why we're serious about it.

  • What we don't mean

    1. That we want to dress Panda in ugly or impractical clothing.
    2. That we will never dress Panda in gender specific clothing.
    3. That we will switch to gender specific clothing once Panda arrives. (The exception to this is one or two dress outfits. We hope to dress her in colors and patterns that will complement her skin tone & hair/eye color. If she inherits our coloring, this probably means rich, saturated hues and darker neutrals. Neither of which lend themselves to gender specificity.
  • What we do mean
    1. That we don't want to reinforce gender stereotypes. We ourselves do not fit neatly into the gender stereotypes and we do not want to force or reinforce those stereotypes on Panda.
    2. That we want Panda's clothing to be practical for her development.
      [T]he infant needs to be comfortable when lying in a prone position. This means that her clothes must be free of big buttons, bows and other ornamentation...Appropriate clothing for the infant allows her to get her knees under her, push off, scoot and crawl, just as soon as coordination and muscle strength make these actions possible. On her upper body, the infant wears layered clothing: a soft cotton undershirt and, if needed, a long-sleeve cotton shirt as well as a lightweight wool sweater buttoned up the back. Her cloth cotton diaper should...[allow] the legs to come closer together for freer forward movement...For the rest of her dress, the infant has bare legs with booties or socks with ankles just tight enough to stay on her feet. If she is going to be on a chafing surface such as a rough carpet or stone patio, she may need a pair of cotton leggings for protection. – Lillard and Jessen, Montessori From the Start
    3. That we want to recycle as much of Panda's wardrobe as possible for the next baby. The more of her wardrobe that is gender neutral, the more will be able to be passed on, no matter what gender her sibling(s) are.
  • What we need from you, our friends and family
    1. Support for our decisions, from how we dress Panda to how we choose to raise her.
    2. Other gear for Panda besides clothing. We are the first in our family to give birth, and we have no hand-me-downs. We desperately need diapers, swaddling blankets, wetbags and other essentials. Especially the diapers. The start up cost of cloth diapering is quite high and assistance with this would be greatly appreciated. If you are unsure of what is needed, we have a registry.
Examples of gender neutral clothing we already have

Monday, January 31, 2011

Football and How It's Helping Our Marriage

Over the last few weeks, I have been surprised to find myself in several long conversations about football with my husband. For those of you who didn't know, I'm the sports fan in our family and football has previously been about as interesting to him as a day at Bellevue Square. (Actually, he'd probably enjoy that more.)

He decided that since I'm not going to stop liking football, he should at least learn enough about it to be able to talk about it with me. And boy, did he ever. I suddenly found myself debating merits of quarterbacks, the differences in defense schemes and potential strategies for opposing teams in upcoming games. He took the time to research and became so well versed in the analytics of the game, that I actually found myself having to research to keep up with him.

This is not the only subject that he has done this with, just the most recent. I remember on one trip to the mall, coming out of the dressing room and asking him what he thought. He thought for a minute and then asked, "When you ask me that, what are you looking for?" Which then led to a discussion of fit, style, and generally what I look for in an outfit when a girlfriend asks me for my opinion.

Now ladies, before you go running off to show this to your husband/SO, ask yourself what you have taken the time to learn that is important to him.

For the last five years, I have asked a lot of questions about guitars, amps and recording gear. I can now explain (somewhat) the difference between Strats & Les Pauls. I can tell you that my husband likes PRS guitars, but can't stand their pickups, so if he ever bought one, the first thing he would do is swap out the pickups. I can tell you that he typically prefers the tone of a tube amp to a solid state (and that he's a fan of Trainers and Voxes). I still get lost in the technical details sometimes, but have enough of an understanding to keep from tuning out once he starts talking shop with other guitar players.

Learning about each other, and your likes, dislikes and passions is a life-long pursuit. And, who knows, you may end up actually liking to watch football, if you're willing to give it a try.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


We have made our decisions about who our loan officer & real estate agent will be.

We will be meeting with our real estate agent tomorrow to start walking through houses. Yay!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet

We awe hunting howses...

Hubby & I started the serious house hunt this week. We're kind of testing the waters online and will be interviewing real estate agents over the next week. We hope to be actually walking through potentials here very soon.

Our lease is up and we have to move out of our apartment on the 30th of September. Chances are good that we will not have closed by then, so it'll be back to Mom & Dad's for a while. Should be an adventure, what with baby sis moving back in, too. Two years ago, the family in the house went from 7-8 to 3, when we all moved out. In a couple weeks, it'll go from 3-6. Guess it's back to scheduling our showers, eh?

We are very excited about the prospect of owning a home. About being able to change things we don't like. When you rent, ya just kinda gotta live with what's there. >_<

I'm hoping to maybe keep a blog history of this journey, but most of those kinds of ambitions have failed miserably, so we'll just have to see what happens.