This week on 09/13/2012, you turn 40 weeks old, and this past Saturday (9/8) you turned 9 months old.
We took you to get your 9 month portraits taken on Saturday (of course, because I’m a stickler for having month portraits done on the appropriate day), and you did marvelously. As is your way, you charmed the photographer, you smiled and laughed, you demonstrated your standing skills for the camera. You are just amazing. While we were there, the other studio was doing a newborn shoot with a baby who was just 3 days old and his family. That baby was so small, much smaller than you ever were, and I couldn’t help staring at them because I just cannot imagine having taken you somewhere the day after we were released from the hospital to do a photo shoot with you. Them people was crazy!
The big thing this week: We’ve been working on revising your nap schedule, using a combination of the Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child and wake time observation. Sometimes I think all these sleep books are just a way for people to make money from sleep deprived families, but then when it really works and you actually take a decent nap? Well, then, my cynicism is required to re-evaluate itself. It’s not perfect, of course, but there is hope that maybe we’re on the right track with things. Of course, after weeks of frustration, it’s easy to get discouraged when something goes awry.
We also cut back your milk intake from your bottles. I have been suspicious for awhile that you may have been drinking too much during the day and were too full, because you weren’t nursing very well when I got home from work. But you did nurse well for your early morning nursings before I leave for work. I would rather you be hungry and nurse well in the evenings, rather than push me away or bite because you’re too full. It’s so easy to overfeed with a bottle a breastfed baby, because even though it may seem as if 12 ounces in 9 hours isn’t that much, it actually is because breastmilk changes composition and calories to meet your needs as you grow. Whereas formula fed babies don’t have that “changing” component and so the ounces constantly have to be increased.
You are weighing in at 26 pounds 8 ounces this week. At your 9 month doctor’s appointment, you were measured as being 30.5 inches tall. Your growth continues to be consistently in the 97th percentile. Your pediatrician thinks you are “so strong” and “doing well” and “have amazing chunky thighs” and did I mention strong? Your favorite food to date has turned out to be banana — something you didn’t care much for at all when it was first introduced to you.
Things I want to remember about you this week: Physically you continue to get stronger and stand for longer periods of time. You seem to have a penchant for accidentally biting your lip with those sharp sharp teeth of yours. You love to dance if there’s music playing, or pat your hands on things to keep the rhythm. You love music — one time you were so upset that I put you in crib, crying, you bounced your way over to the musical soother and turned it on, attempting to help yourself feel better. Umm, bouncing? Yes, you love to bounce in your crib as if it’s a trampoline, holding onto the side. You are still fascinated by the camera for the video monitor and will stare at it for long periods of time, plotting, I’m sure, how you will climb that pole and get a hold of it one of these days. When you’re not contained in your crib or play yard, you have realized that you can follow us out of a room if we leave, and will do so. You also will crawl to us when we call for you, and you crawl SO FAST and get yourself all out of breath while you giggle about it, You attempt to mimic things we say or sounds we make, sometimes you even instigate it, and then you laugh and laugh about it when you get it right. You get mad if the cats leave and you can’t follow them. You love to go on outings and get so happy when the garage door goes up. You love going outside and stroller rides or walks are the bane of your existence, it soothes you like nothing else. I realized this week that I need to be consistent across the board about biting — no biting mommy means not biting me ANYWHERE or ANYTIME, not just nursing. So I started implementing the “no biting mommy” on my shoulder (a favorite of yours) or my leg.
You are continuing to work on your linguistic skills — I’ve heard you working with the letters “t”, “n”, “y”, “d”, “m”, “p”. We had a hilarious conversation about tater tots the other day, with lots of laughter. You are so interactive and seem to love repeating sounds back, or will initiate sounds that we mimic. This part of being a mommy? This part is so much fun!
It’s crazy to think that 18 months ago, I was holding a box that contained within it medicine that was our last resort to having a family. That box was it — it either held the end result of our dreams come true or our dreams crashed down. Nine months ago, I was holding my abdomen that was swollen to hold your entire body within mine. Today I hold you in my arms, I smooth your hair back from your brow, and swell with love, for you are every dream I ever wanted contained in a warm, snuggly, wiggly, giggling little baby body.
At 40 weeks pregnant… ummm, actually, I didn’t make it to 40 weeks pregnant.
I had been intentionally pushing myself hard physically that week, and the weeks prior. We decorated our home for Christmas — as usual, I did the inside, he did the outside. Walking, lots of walking — that week we went to a our local park for their Victorian Christmas celebration, and visited Disneyland twice. Both Disneyland visits, we speed walked from the parking structure to the gate, passing people pushing strollers (must have been a sight) and walked around Disneyland, and then speed walked back to the car. I didn’t take any time off from the gym and lap swam an hour each night directly after work, mostly because I wasn’t sure when The Last Swim would occur. I would get home and, quite literally, drag myself up the stairs and go to bed.
My Tuesday doctor appointment went well that week, but on Wednesday, with no sign of labor in sight, I was concerned that at my 40 week appointment my OB might recommend inducement given her belief that the baby was big. Knowing inducement increased the chances of a C-Section, I didn’t want that. To alleviate my concern, I emailed my birth doula who said she would attend my Friday doctor appointment with me for support. I also determined that if inducement was medically necessary, I would choose the Foley catheter method.
I had Braxton Hicks contractions all day on Wednesday and, to amuse myself, I was writing the start time of them on a post-it note and keeping it under my keyboard while I went about my job. They weren’t painful at all, just annoying and a bit distracting. My boss joked with me that day, not knowing that I was having contractions, that, knowing me, I would give birth to this kid on a schedule.
After my swim Wednesday, I packed my lunch for the next day, ate a salad and went to bed early. I woke refreshed, but chilly, on Thursday at 4:11 AM. It was 62° in the house, so I went downstairs to turn on the heat… and a contraction came on, and then another. I sat on the yoga ball to alleviate the pressure and then headed back upstairs with a detour to the restroom. More contractions occurred and time passed in a blur. I heard the shower start up in the other restroom, so my husband was up and it was shortly after 5 AM. Since I couldn’t seem to move without a contraction happening, I managed to walk a few steps to my purse and I sent him a text message: “I think I might be in labor.” And I waited.
A few minutes later, he came in the bedroom to find me still sitting on the floor holding my cell phone. He asked me what I was doing and I replied that I thought I might be in labor. We started tracking the contractions, but it started to feel as if the contractions were right on top of each other, or not ending at all. I finally passed some blood, and I suggested that maybe we should call my birth doula, that it was after 6am so it seemed a reasonable hour. I wasn’t really sure I was in labor, and was fairly convinced that she would tell me to take a nice relaxing bath and wash my hair. In fact, I was debating the entire time if I should go to work, but was annoyed because I didn’t think I would be able to concentrate because of the contractions, and I was fairly certain that I probably shouldn’t drive.
I was kind of surprised, then, when my doula suggested that we meet at the hospital. When I hesitated, she said she would come over. So, she came over, evaluated the situation and noted that I was having what is called “piggyback contractions,” and then insisted we head for the hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital, after changing out of my cool Jack Skellington pajamas into their ugly hospital robe, the nurse checked me. I was shocked when she told me I was dilated to 7 cm. She asked if I had called my OB… umm, no. But I was obsessing about calling my job to let them know I wouldn’t be in, but everyone kept declining my requests. The nurse exited my curtained area to call my OB, and a huge contraction waved over me and my water broke. As exciting and startling as that was, my first thought was, “Oh bummer, now I don’t get to use those awesome jacuzzi tubs in the delivery room.” It was at that point that I finally accepted that I was really in labor.
My blood pressure was running a little on the high end and I was encouraged to relax and breathe deeply — yay for the Bradley classes and all the practicing we had done! With my team’s encouragement, I was able to relax and lower it to a more acceptable level. At one point, the contractions became painful, but my doula applied counterpressure and it reverted to the feeling of intense pressure. My doula then whispered to my husband that I was in transition and I expected the pain to increase, but it really didn’t.
The pressure increased to the point where I felt like I needed to push, and I was checked again and was given the OK to do so, which kind of amused me because, at that point, it wasn’t something that I couldn’t do. I remembered from the tour of the hospital that “when the lights come out of the ceiling, you know it’s show time.” Dun, dun dun… the lights came out of the ceiling.
I attempted to follow their direction on pushing, but it became easier for me to self direct since I was able to feel the contractions beginning and ending. I asked several times whether Baby was in stress, and was assured an equal amount of times that he was fine. Since there had been meconium in the water, my OB had requested the NICU team be present, as well as a second doctor to help catch our son when he was born. Given my fear of perineal tearing, I felt as if the pushing was taking forever, but at the same time I knew that the slower I went the more time I gave my skin to stretch… and since baby was fine, I took my time.
Our son’s head emerged, and then the nurse did a maneuver to bring his shoulders through (avoiding shoulder dystocia), that although she had warned us what she was going to do, it was still a bit startling. And, so it was, that 6 hours and 42 minutes of labor yielded the birth of our son at 10:53 AM on December 8, 2011. Despite the meconium in his fluid, he was fine. More than fine, actually, as his APGAR ratings were 8 and 9. One of the first things I told my OB after William was birthed was that I needed to cancel my appointment the next morning… and I also told her that I guess I had proven her wrong, no C-Section needed. I am in awe, to this day, that I was able to birth a baby who weighed an astonishing 10 pounds 11 ounces without an epidural or pain meds or tearing. That because of the insane amount of lap swimming and diet restriction that I did, I gained a mere 24.5 pounds… and much of that, quite literally, was William.
The entire process felt like a dance to me, The Labor Dance, I called it. The event, while simple in words — “I gave birth” — was actually a much more involved event with me doing what I had to do and my son had a job to do, too, moving and aligning himself properly. We both had to tolerate a great deal of stress, as labor is a very physically intense event. But really, it was the two of us, working together, supported by our team, to bring him into this world… so we could become a family. I also loved that Tony was there through every bit of it, helping me through the contractions, helping me with my labor positions, providing emotional support and, best of all, cutting the umbilical cord. But really? The best part of all, was that this wasn’t an ending, it was the beginning.