Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Story of Brayden Michael

            As we are approaching 3 months since the morning we met our Brayden Michael (how is that even possible?!), I think it’s about time I wrote down his birth story while the details are still somewhat fresh in my mind. I will begin by saying this birth story was the opposite of Avery’s in almost every way possible, but honestly equally as amazing. (see The Story of Avery Grace for her birth story) As I reflect on both of their arrivals, I feel blessed to have had such unforgettable experiences to remember and tell them some day.

This time around, I was not working in Labor & Delivery anymore so I wasn’t on my feet as much for long 12 hour shifts AND I wasn’t able to get multiple checks and membranes stripped in the weeks leading up to his delivery. For these reasons, I was sure I was going to delivery past my due date. I was feeling a little TOO good as I hit my 39th week and made a special appointment with my midwife friend to get things “stirred up” (I claimed I’d never be that patient who wanted to speed things up before 40 weeks but sure enough both times by 39 weeks I was eager to get things started!) I got my membranes stripped on a Thursday morning, and was told in 24-48 hours something should happen.

Well, Thursday came and went, Friday came and went with some cramping here and there, but both nights I had the BEST nights of sleep that I had in a long time (ironic how it annoyed me then, but now looking back I see how my body was preparing itself) Then, Saturday rolled around and a huge wave of nesting hit. I pulled out all of Avery’s baby book stuff that I had barely touched in the last year and a half and got to work. As I was working away I was timing contractions that started, never much closer than 10 minutes, so I resumed my day as normal. We went to Weston’s parents’ house for dinner and I was so distracted that I didn’t think much of the contractions that continued to come about every 10 minutes. We got home, and got ready for bed, Weston fell asleep right away like always and finally around 11pm laid down for the night. As I was dozing off realized I was being consistently woken up by contractions every 7 minutes. So, I got up and gave up on sleep for the time being, hoping I could get them closer and make this turn into something if I was going to be kept awake! I got my earbuds out and sat on the exercise ball at the side of our bed, paced around the room, leaned and swayed over the side of the bed, all the while Weston snoring away oblivious to what was happening. (it was better that way!) Around midnight, I realized they were coming every 5 minutes and I had to move and breathe through them. This was just so different than the beginning of Avery’s labor, so I didn’t know what to think? (With Avery I was already at work and comfortable at 5cm, the painful contractions didn’t start until after they broke my water) I decided to fill up the tub and spend some time in there. As I was soaking and contractions continued to come consistently I texted my mom “Are you up?”

 Immediately I got “Yes!” (The plan was for my parents to come to our house so Avery could sleep the whole night at our house if things happened in the middle of the night)

“I think I may call the midwife, my contractions have been 5 minutes apart for the last 2 hours”

“We’ll leave now, you get to the hospital!”

“Calm down. I didn’t even wake up Weston yet!”

I love my mom.

At 1am I woke Weston up, trying to stay calm and not cause a complete panic. I also talked to the midwife. She asked how I was feeling, and let it up to me when I wanted to come in. I definitely felt like something was happening but wanted to stay home as long as possible. On the other hand, I was GBS+ this time (I was negative with Avery) so the nurse in me became very fixated on getting the two doses of antibiotics I needed. My parents got to our house soon after and we left for the hospital. The drive to the hospital was that stereotypical one from movies I always worried we’d have to make living 30 minutes from the hospital. Weston speeding, me breathing hard through each contraction, dreading the next one and feeling e.v.e.r.y. single bump and turn. Not fun. Something about sitting upright and not being able to move made them 10x worse, and by that point I was thankful we were on our way because flashbacks of how I felt during transition with Avery started to surface. This was happening.

We got to the hospital around 2am and I tried to calmly walk into triage, knowing I was about to see all my former coworkers. A few contractions interrupted registration, and by the way I was leaning, swaying, breathing, and not talking they must have known I needed to be seen and got me straight to a room. The midwife came to check me after what felt like an hour but was probably only 10 minutes. I never even sat down on the bed until she came in, since by this point I had to be standing and moving at all times. The contractions were now coming every 2-3 minutes. She told me I was 5-6cm and intact. All I could think was I wanted the antibiotics ASAP.

After my check the midwife asked “So are you thinking epidural?”

Although I had an unmedicated birth with Avery, I was very open minded to an epidural leading up to Brayden’s birth. (Partially because I was just so curious what they felt like after working in labor & delivery four years) With Avery I remember having a strong, determined desire to have a natural labor (also out of curiosity of what it felt like) and this time I just wasn’t in that same place mentally for whatever reason. I looked at Weston with question in my eyes and after an eager nod from him I said, “You know what, yes! I would love an epidural!”

They started my bolus and antibiotics in triage, I walked back to the room stopping to breathe through contractions on the way and once we got there I got bossy with Weston, telling him to “Get over here” and to apply counter pressure during contractions. (He doesn’t quite know how to contribute until pushing so this time I must have felt the need to change that HA) I remember feeling like I may be transitioning while we were waiting for the anesthesiologist, but by that time my mind was so set on the epidural I didn’t want to admit what my body was doing. The anesthesiologist entered the room and after a grueling few contractions of having to sit still on the side of the bed (didn’t even feel the epidural placement because of if), I started to feel some glorious relief. And let me tell you, Epidurals are everything everyone raves about and MORE! I absolutely loved that it was the middle of the night, just Weston and I, and we could sit in a peaceful dark room and bask in the anticipation of the arrival of our son! Something we didn’t get to experience in the intensity and speed of my labor with Avery. My contractions were coming literally back to back but by this time all I felt was tightening across my belly and a little pressure. We tried to take naps but I was too excited to sleep! Even being able to rest was so wonderful. My water broke on its own at 6am, they got my second dose of antibiotics in (YAY for crazy nurse brain peace of mind!) and although I was feeling some pressure, I was still so comfortable that I was able to wait until the midwife was available to check me. She was busy due to a crazy morning on the unit but I got to spend the wait catching up with coworkers who were stopping in one by one to say “Hi”. After she finished a few deliveries and took care of an emergency in another room the same midwife who stripped my membranes on Thursday entered the room. It was now Sunday morning, she checked me, and said “Oh he’s right here, ready to have a baby?” !!!!! WAIT. This is happening. Again, that sense of anticipation and excitement that I barely had time to acknowledge last time washed over me. Everyone got ready, Weston held a leg, and I was prepping myself for another strenuous hour or two of hard work ahead after pushing for 1.5 hours with no medication with Avery. I requested a mirror and on the first push I saw almost his entire head! WHAT. Then we waited for another contraction while chatting and laughing, I still wasn’t feeling anything more than pressure and when the next one came and I pushed and he was born!! DOUBLE WHAT! I just had a baby in two pushes and barely felt it (at least compared to what I remembered with Avery). Crazy. I was in awe. I pulled him right up to my chest and snuggled him immediately just like I did Avery. He had the same big mouth and lips and squinty eyes that I remember so well from the first time I laid eyes on her. (also, maybe TMI but since I was so comfortable and able to ease him out so slowly I didn’t tear at all! If you've ever had a baby you know that's reason to celebrate) He was the exact same weight and measurements as Avery born a few days before his due date and perfect as could be. So bottom line. I LOVE EPIDURALS. And also, I LOVE UNMEDICATED BIRTH. I just love birth and babies as a whole and am so thankful for the miracles that they are.

After reflecting a lot after Brayden’s birth, I honestly found myself not as eager to write his birth story. Will people even think it’s interesting if it wasn’t unmedicated? Should I have been more determined to go unmedicated again? No. I realized I was being ridiculous. His birth story was beautiful in every way, and in hindsight, almost too good to be true! My physical recovery was 10x easier than it was with Avery. I guess all this is to say, I just hope that all women can be proud of their birth stories no. matter. what. Whether it went the way you planned or the complete opposite. Whether it was traumatic or the definition of Zen. Whether you delivered at a birth center or a high-risk hospital. Whether you had a vaginal delivery or c-section. Be proud. Your body is strong, beautiful and capable of amazing things.

Monday, February 13, 2017

What's in my Hospital Bag // Do's and Don'ts from an L&D nurse

In just a few days, I will be 37 weeks pregnant (!) so I am officially packed and ready to roll whenever baby boy is! From four years of experience as a nurse in labor & delivery, and one delivery as a patient, I feel like I have a good idea of the necessities (and non necessities) so I wanted to share what is in my bag and the do's and don'ts of packing.

What is in my bag: (Do pack...)

-brush (Wetbrush to be exact)
-deodorant (LOVING Lavanila natural deodorant right now!)
-hair products (along the lines of dry shampoo, scrunch spray & gel cause chances are I'm not taking the time to blow dry and style it)
-headbands (for labor and beyond)

-phone charger with extra long cord (to reach bed while charging)
-camera (trying my best to not only document on my phone!)
-bluetooth speaker
-diffuser and essential oils (make sure your hospital allows use of them)
-rice bag (microwavable to use as heading pad, hospital provided heating pads don't get very hot)
-granola & protein bars
-coconut water & Gatorade (better hydration for labor and beyond than hospital juice or soda)
-large water bottle
-pillows from home (hospital pillows are always in short supply and super flat)
-abdominal binder (I loved having extra support for my core after delivery and am convinced it helped minimize my bleeding and the time it took for my muscles to heal and uterus to shrink back to its normal size)

Clothing for me:
-bathing suit top for labor (perfect for shower and Jacuzzi and easy to remove for first feeding)
-yoga pants
-pj shorts
-nursing tanks
-nursing bras
-loose tshirts
-flip flops (for shower)

For baby:
-swaddle blankets
-going home outfit
-1 onesie and sleeper
-boppy pillow
-nursing cover (love my 360 cover, perfect when unexpected visitors stop by!)

For husband:
-extra sweats
-pillow from home
-blanket from home

What NOT to pack...(based on my experience at one hospital)
-5 page birth plan - labor is unpredictable. Preferences for your Labor & Delivery experience based on your personal beliefs and preparation are wonderful, but remember: the end goal is healthy mom & healthy baby. The best mindset to have is an open one. I can't tell you how many times I've seen patients come in with such a detailed plan, attempting to control every step is almost guaranteed disappointment. With that said, there is nothing wrong with advocating for yourself and as long as everything looks good, laboring and delivering in a hospital with minimal interventions. I labored naturally with minimal monitoring for my daughter, but when I was pushing did need a scalp electrode to monitor her heartrate due to decelerations.
- Fashionable hospital gown- please just use what the hospital provides! Save your money. Labor is not a fashion show, and chances are the "cute" ones you find online have openings that make monitoring or working around IV's more difficult than need be. Also, delivery is messy. Chances are it will get ruined anyway! The same goes for your favorite fuzzy socks. Save them for postpartum!
- Specially bought "Granny" underwear - this is one of the most common things I hear moms telling each other to buy, but don't understand. Again, save your money! The hospital provides mesh undies that are superrrr comfortable and disposable! Wear them from the time you are admitted into labor & delivery to the time you go home. And grab a few pairs to take home with you to wear until your bleeding subsides! They hold the bulky pads better than normal underwear too!
- Pads - along the same lines of the point I made above, the hospital provides everything you need! Multiple sizes of pads as well as medicated pads and sprays. The hospital I worked at & deliver at provides tucks pads (little circles meant for hemorrhoids but perfect for any soreness or swelling caused from delivery, line your pad front to back with them!) dermoplast spray (a numbing spray for pain relief after delivery) I will say, its nice to have some smaller pads to wear for a few weeks once you're home, but no need to bring them to the hospital!
- Breast pump- the hospital provides double electric pumps for all patients to use while in the hospital AND chances are you will be sent home with a brand new one provided by insurance. (again this is based on my hospital) I see moms registering/buying/packing pumps all the time and its just not necessary! The hospital also provides all pump parts when you need to use it in the hospital, so don't buy or pack those either. Also remember, not all mom's need to pump in the hospital!
-Baby's entire wardrobe- while you are in the hospital, your baby will only need to wear a hat, tshirt, diaper, and swaddled in a blanket. For the amount of times baby will be assessed and unbundled in a day, there is just no need to dress them in full outfits as fun as it may be! All you need is an outfit for photos and a going home outfit. The hospital provides little white tshirts and diapers, so if anything pack a few cute hats/headbands and swaddle blankets.
-Wipes- along with diapers being provided, the hospital provides little gauze squares that are perfect to use as wipes the first few days. Just add a little warm water and that is all you need to change the first few days worth of diapers. Baby's skin is so sensitive store bought wipes can actually irritate it.
-Nipple shield - although you can buy them in the store, do not buy or use a nipple shield unless a lactation consultant tells you you need one. The ultimate goal for all moms is to nurse without any kind of aid, but sometimes they are necessary! Save your money and let a professional help you decide that! Using the correct size is also crucial so again, let a lactation consultant help you. Also as a side note, colostrum and breast milk makes for the best "nipple cream" for soreness and chapping in the first few days of nursing instead of store bought ointment.

Hopefully this is helpful! If nothing else it helped me mentally double check that I have everything I need! The countdown is on!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hello Again!

I'm back for my yearly "I'm going to blog more" post which I had every intention of writing on New Year's day, and yet here we are at the end of January already! First of all, if you didn't already know, I am in the home stretch of my pregnancy with baby #2. We found out late summer we were expecting, and now know a baby brother for Avery is growing by the day! I am 34 weeks today and can hardly believe how fast time is flying! (We have yet to touch the room that will be his nursery...yikes.) So here is a little interview style recap of the pregnancy so far:

How did you find out you were pregnant?

We decided to stop birth control in May, unsure of how long it would take to conceive this time around but knowing we wanted our first two pretty close in age. In mid-June, the day we got home from a family vacation in the Outer Banks, I took a test on a Saturday morning when Weston was home because I had super vivid dreams the entire week on vacation and woke up at 6am a few days having to pee (these were the first symptoms I had with Avery's pregnancy so I just had a feeling!) and sure enough, there were TWO LINES! It was so fun to have him there in the moment like last time. There's no way I would be able to wait until he was home for work if I would have found out during the week! We were so happy but also a bit in shock with the reality that it was all happening again. As an OB nurse I know the statistics of how long conception can take and unfortunately how often miscarriage happens (ignorance is bliss!) so although so far both pregnancies have started quickly and with a lot of excitement, there has also been a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. The first trimester has been a struggle for me mentally both times because of this, but I owe my sanity through those weeks to my encouraging husband, LOTS of prayer and a home doppler. Pregnancy has proven to be such a needed faith & trust growing experience for me both times, and for that I am so thankful.

How was your first trimester cravings and symptoms?

For most of the first 14 weeks, I was convinced we were having another girl because this pregnancy has been almost identical to Avery's. I was nauseous in the evenings but thankfully not vomitting, and craved super salty foods, carbs, and veggies. It took awhile for me to really pop again, in fact I'm carrying almost identical to Avery even though I'm carrying a boy. I fought fatigue so much more through my first trimester, whether it was hormonal differences or just the fact that I now have a little one to take care of and chase after unlike the first time when I could nap and lay around as much as I wanted. I haven't had any significant symptoms into the second and third trimester, and am thankful to have my energy back and feel pretty much like my normal self except for dressing my growing belly.  

How did you find out the gender?

At 14 weeks I chose to get a new blood test done that detects DNA to determine the sex of  the baby. Avery's anatomy scan was more stressful than fun when they couldn't see what they needed for an hour to be able to tell us her gender. So this time, I loved that we could not only find out earlier but know for sure the results were correct! In a few days, I had a midwife check the results while I was at work and she revealed the news, we were having a BOY! I immediately called Weston and he was happy to say the least. Avery is such a Daddy's girl and he is wrapped around her little finger, but I knew deep down he was really hoping for a boy. We didn't even bother with a gender reveal party or cute way of telling family and friends, we just called and texted everyone as soon as possible in our excitement. Sure enough, the anatomy scan at 20 weeks was a polar opposite experience from Avery's, with no pressure of seeing the gender, which of course he showed us proudly anyway! We were on cloud nine watching him yawn kick and wiggle around.

Does Avery understand what is happening?

At 18 months she definitely has limited understanding of what is actually coming, but she is obsessed with any kind of baby doll, kissing and holding and rocking them any chance she can. She also loves my belly, always trying to pull up my shirt when she's sitting on my lap. She also kisses it without any prompting which almost brings me to tears every time. If we see a baby in public she will exclaim "bay-bee!" and light up so I am confident she will be an amazing big sister. We will have to watch her though because she has a sweet tendency to share her snacks with her baby dolls, we'll have to work on teaching her that baby brother doesn't eat goldfish ha.

Avery will be 18 months old in 2 days, so I decided its about time to put off the procrastination of professionally documenting this stage of life. We had intentions of getting family photos done before Christmas, which unfortunately never happened. So this week Kelly Lapp Photography came over on a rainy Monday morning for a documentary session of our routine on a normal morning at home. I am so excited to have these simple memories documented of our time together before baby brother arrives. Plus, we were home in our PJs! No worry of coordinating outfits and less than excited husband and kids.

This year my hope is to cherish the everyday just as these photos do. To slow down, live simply, be present, and soak in the beauty that is life. 2017, you're already proving to be an interesting one but I'm ready to make the best of you!