Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lucy's Birth Story

Our sweet baby Lucy arrived on March 18; nine whole days ago!  I cannot believe more than an entire week of her life has flown by already; I know it sounds silly, but it really does scare me at how fast time is flying.  Already she looks completely different from when they first yanked her out of my belly, and she is so alert and smart and sweet, and just ABSOLUTELY perfect!  From the night she was born, life has felt like one long, never ending day.  Now that I've finally got a moment, and a little spare energy, I want to share Lucy's birth story...

It all started on Thursday morning...  Casey and I headed to Banner Good Sam Hospital in hopes of turning Lucy via an external cephalic version (read about that procedure in this blog post:  click here).  The procedure was unpleasant and unsuccessful; before leaving the hospital, I had an internal exam and I was a whooping 4 centimeters (hello active labor!).  My doctor said to go home anyway, take it easy, and she'd call us later in the afternoon with a new game plan.  When she finally called, she said that this was officially a high risk situation and to get our butts back to the hospital ASAP.  The reason it was "high risk" was due to Lucy's breech presentation.  Should a woman go into labor with a breech baby, there is a chance of cord prolapse (the umbilical cord coming out of the cervix before the baby).

Casey and I hung out in OB triage for a good three hours before a room in the labor and delivery ward became available.  We spent the night in L & D, and I was officially put on bed rest; I think we finally got to sleep around 12 or 1 am (ideal).  The next morning, I enjoyed my last meal before having to fast for twelve freaking hours (please note, I didn't actually get to eat again until lunch time on Saturday).  Casey and I lounged around the room all day, watched a few movies, and I got an IV (ow!).  Both of our families arrived at the hospital that evening.  Before leaving for the OR we had a group prayer, and I was truly appreciative of all the love and support from everyone. The operating room was booked solid at both Banner Good Sam and Scottsdale Health Care Shea; we ended up at Banner because we had already been there for the version.  The plan was to try the version again, this time with an epidural - to relax my uterus and every other muscle below my chest - and if the procedure was unsuccessful the second time around, we would have a cesarean section immediately after (hence the fasting...).

Because the OR was exceptionally busy, our time slot kept getting pushed back.  We moved from noon, to six, to six thirty, to seven thirty, and eventually eight.  As the minutes ticked away I became more and more petrified.  I was scared to become a parent, scared to be responsible for a little baby, scared of having a c-section (um, hello, that's major surgery!)...  I started shaking and I was nauseous beyond belief.  As Casey and I rolled down the hallways of L & D, up to the big double doors you see in all the hospital TV shows, my thoughts were like one massive, run-on prayer.  Casey was brought back to a separate area to be dressed and prepped in those adorable scrubs, and I headed to the OR (also in scrubs).  

I climbed atop the operating table, and the anesthesiologist began inserting the epidural.  It really wasn't that uncomfortable, just a big pinch followed by a burning sensation.  The numbing was almost instantaneous; within a few minutes I couldn't feel my legs.  They tested the epidural's effectiveness by spraying ice water on  my wrist and then on my belly; I couldn't feel the cold until they reached my chest.  I was put on oxygen and the nurses added all sorts of junk to my IV.  My doctor and Casey finally came into the OR, and they began the version.  They tried three times, checking by ultrasound intermittently, and eventually decided that our baby was not meant to be turned.  It was so nice to not feel all the pressure and pain of the version again; but like a baby, as soon as they decided to do the c-section, I started to tear up.  Casey was sweet enough to wipe my tears away and hold my hand the entire time.  I wasn't crying because the version failed, I was crying because we were about to meet our daughter.  My doctor kept apologizing, but I couldn't talk (that always makes me cry even harder); I felt like such a jackass.  

And so they began prepping for the cesarean.  They hung a curtain below my neck, so neither Casey or I could see; they scrubbed my belly; and, finally, they sliced me open.  I felt no pain whatsoever; all I could feel was a slight pressure and pulling on my belly.  I didn't even realize they had started; I was drifting in and out of sleep (because of all the drugs) and I was trying desperately to stay awake.  I just stared at Casey, and kept telling him how thirsty I was (haha!).  The anesthesiologist told Casey to get his camera ready and to stand up; Casey poked me in the forehead to wake me up, and then he literally watched them pull her out of my belly.

Lucy cried immediately, and so Casey and I began crying immediately.  Casey said that Lucy was bent in half, and our doctor yelled, "She's a gymnast!"  Dr. O cut her cord, and Casey was brought back to the warmer to meet Lucy for the first time.  He brought her back to me and put her face by mine so I could kiss her cheeks and see her.  He just kept saying, "She's perfect!"

Casey and Lucy were brought back to recovery, while I was sewn up.  The doctor's told me to try to take a nap, and let me tell you, I did not have to try very hard.  Twenty minutes later I was being rolled to recovery and I joined my little family.  Lucy's measurements were double checked, Casey was on text messaging and picture taking duty, and I was put on a million different monitors.  Casey took over 200 pictures in the first hour of her life; he did such a great job capturing the moment.  The nurse helped me feed Lucy for the first time, and surprisingly, breastfeeding didn't hurt like I expected it to.  Our family came back one person at a time.  Most of the time spent in recovery is a blur for me.  I remember staring at Lucy and Casey in utter disbelief.  I remember being insanely thirsty; fortunately, Casey fed me ice chips and I was eventually allowed to sip water.  And I remember having a death grip on Lucy, because I was so afraid of dropping her.

We eventually made our way to the postpartum floor.  It was a little sad to leave the amazing team of doctor's and nurses; they took such great care of us and they were all so genuinely kind and supportive.  The nurses that welcomed us in postpartum proved to be just as amazing.  They showed Casey how to change Lucy's diaper, how to swaddle her, and bathe her; they had me up and walking by 4 am, and they took great care of us overall.  I was not expecting the experience with this hospital to be nearly as wonderful.   

After I hung up with my doctor Thursday evening, I started sobbing.  I really thought the version would work, and that I'd go in to labor when nature intended; I didn't really think we'd be having a baby in just a few short hours.  I wasn't crying because my natural childbirth was becoming less and less likely; I was crying because becoming a parent is terrifying and utterly surreal.  In the end, the cesarean really wasn't bad at all.  I'm sure having a natural, vaginal birth is very empowering and rewarding, and I hope to experience it one day, but I am very happy with the efforts my doctor put into our care.

I fell in love with Lucy the moment I saw her.  Every ounce of fear dissolved; feeding her, changing her, loving her is all so natural. We love you, Lucy.

Lucille Ann Shelton
Born March 18, 2011
7 pounds, 1 ounce; 19 inches long

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Turn Baby, Turn!

My baby is breech.  She has been breech since our great big anatomy scan ultrasound (possibly even before this).  This is what breech presentation looks like:

Our little angel likes to hang in the Complete Breech position.  Meaning, not only can you NOT determine her gender, but you also can't have a vaginal birth (without some serious intervention and risks).

I didn't realize the severity of the situation until I was thirty-some weeks pregnant (just a little late in the game).  Had I known that this would mean the demise of my vaginal birth, I would've started trying to turn this child MUCH sooner.  I guess maybe its common knowledge that babies don't come out buttocks/feet first, but when I was first told that she was breech, that didn't really register for me.

For the past (almost) two months, I've tried various techniques to turn Lucy:  chiropractor visits, hours on the birth ball, loads of Cat movements, feet up/feet down while sitting, night after night on the inversion table (pictured below), and now, for the grand finale, I will have an External Cephalic Version.

A friend of mine told me about a chiropractic procedure, The Webster, that supposedly has a 100 percent success ratio in turning breech babies.  The chiropractor applies pressure to two pressure points on the front and back of whichever hip is causing the breech position; it usually requires three treatments...  I had FIVE.  

My wonderful in-laws let us borrow their inversion table for these last few weeks of the pregnancy.  So every day after work, I hang like a bat for as long as I can take, and repeat once before bedtime.  This method is supposed to encourage the baby to tuck her chin and make turning easier. 

Lastly, I'll be having an External Cephalic Version on Thursday.  Rather than trying to explain what it is, I'm posting a short video of what the procedure entails:  click here.  Gulp...

Seriously, the video is two mintues long...WATCH IT.

Thoughts and prayers that this works would be much appreciated!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I was stood up... my doctor.

I've never had to wait for a guy to call me back, but I imagine this is what it feels like.  And it sucks.  Why would this woman say she'd call me on Monday (today), and then NOT call me?!


Someone, ANYONE, turn my baby!!!

Freezer Meals

This is what a stocked freezer looks like:

Are you impressed?  I am.  I wish I could take credit for this brilliant idea, but I actually read about freezer meals in one of the many foodie blogs that I follow:  What's Cookin, Chicago?

I knew that I wanted to cook and freeze meals before Lucy's arrival from very early on in my pregnancy.  It just seemed like a great, easy way to be prepared for the newborn phase of life.  I fully expect to be a sleep-deprived zombie those first four weeks or so, and I know cooking will be the last thing on my mind, but I still want to be able to eat delicious food! 

A few weeks ago I compiled a list of our favorite freezer-friendly foods, and began composing the longest grocery list conceivable of all the supplies I'd need.  Unfortunately, the grocery shopping trip that followed completely zapped my energy for the day, and the cooking frenzy didn't begin until the next day.  The recipes I chose were a combination of family recipes and recipes that I've collected from food blogs (which is why only some of the recipes below have links).  

Shredded Pork (for Tacos)*
Ground Turkey (for Tacos)
Fallon's Italian Chicken Soup 
Mama Bear's Sauce
Twice Baked Potatoes

Mama Bear's Banana Bread
Breakfast Burritos

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Stacy's Pumpkin Cookies

*Indicates an adaptation has been made

I'd like you all to know there was a brief moment where I contemplated buying a second freezer...  Here's a pic of my breakfast burrito assembly line:

This was a really fun process (in my opinion, anyways; I just love to cook and bake!), and its inspired me to try out Once-A-Month-Cooking (OAMC) and Dump Recipes after the this batch of freezer meals is demolished. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

38 weeks

Baby is now the size of a:  newborn!  We can expect to see her at this current length and weight on D-Day; approximately 7 pounds (ya right, this baby is going to be an 8 pounder MINIMUM) and 21 1/2 inches long.  She is fully developed at this very moment; her organs are mature and ready for life outside my belly!  Here's a fun fact, if she is born with brown eyes, the color will not change (those would be from me, thank you very much).  If she is born with gray or blue eyes, the color can change to various shades of blue, green, or brown.  

How I'm feeling:  same old, same old...big, tired, swollen, and enjoying constant lower back pain.  I waddle A LOT; walking and just being upright in general is pretty uncomfortable.  Yet another reason why I am truly grateful to have a desk job.  My wonderful supervisor got approval for me to wear flip flops for the remainder of my pregnancy; I didn't even ask for this privilege, but it is totally appreciated.  And now that my stomach is thoroughly crammed under my left rib, I don't have the room to eat normal portions... As a result, I'm constantly eating; a few bites here and there, because I'm still hungry - I just don't have room for food anymore. 

Physical differences from last week:  I didn't weigh in this week, and I never let the nurse say my weight out loud...  I'm hoping to still be right around 32-33 pounds.  Cervix progress:  not quite 3 cm dilated and 50 percent effaced.  This would be AWESOME news, if Lucy were head down...  Here's my weekly pic:

What's been on my mind:  I think we are ready for babe-a-roni's arrival!  Thank you notes have been mailed; freezer meals are cooked (yes, I have a post coming ALL about this); the seemingly impossible to-do list is DONE!!!  These days I'm just trying to relax as much as possible and enjoy my amazing hubby while he's still all mine. 

What I'm looking forward to:  my doctor calling me sometime tomorrow with potential dates for the version procedure.  I'm scared, but excited for this procedure.  I'm scared because of the rare, but potential, risks; I'm excited because this may be the answer to my prayers for a natural, vaginal birth.  Never fear, I have an entire post dedicated to our baby turning journey - hopefully I'll get that posted later this week.

Random thoughts:  Casey's co-workers threw us the sweetest joint baby shower on Friday.  They were extremely generous and thoughtful.  I went to his office after my prenatal visit for lunch, cake, and presents!  One of his co-workers made the most adorable bumble bee cake:

And they were all very generous gift-givers!  We got tons of cute outfits, blankets, toys, and even a swing! 

It was a great afternoon!  We couldn't be more appreciative of all the love and support we've received from everyone.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A finished nursery...

We may go down in history as being the BIGGEST procrastinators in history when it comes to setting up our child's nursery...but that is just fine with us!  It was well worth the wait!!!

In order to keep things gender neutral, just in case, we chose a bumble bee theme.  The colors we went with were mostly pastels; yellow, sage green, and white.  We're really not insect people, but these bumble bees were too cute to pass up.  I love going in her room and just imagining all the time we'll spend in it.

And now some pictures, because those are more fun than my rambling:

Looking in from the guest bathroom
 Our beautiful crib and glider
Our DIY headboard
Changing table set up
The crib with all the bedding and decor
Close up of the decals - my favorite!
We are so happy with the end result!  All the picking and choosing, and PATIENCE, paid off in the end.  All we need now is a baby!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Showering Baby Shelton

Last Sunday, my mom and sister threw me the cutest baby shower.  They did such a beautiful job, and I couldn't be more grateful for all of their hard work.  It was so great to spend the afternoon with friends and family, and celebrate our sweet baby, Lucy.

Mama Bear and Fallon planned and planned for over a month.  They chose the most adorable gender neutral theme: baby feet!  And they prepared the most amazing Italian-inspired lunch buffet; let the record show, if Russo women do one thing right, its cook (and bake)!  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law coordinated some very sweet games; it was too funny to see the results of the "How big is the belly?" guessing game.

Pictures are limited, as we forgot to grab the camera until about halfway through the shower!  And now, for your viewing pleasure:

 The adorable invites

Mama Bear and Sissy

Unofficial group photo - whoops!
Opening presents!  Hehehe

The most DELICIOUS, and beautiful, cake 

Annnnd my lone contribution to the big event, totally adorable favors

It was an absolutely beautiful day!  We are so very lucky to have such thoughtful and generous family and friends.  Baby Lucy is thoroughly spoiled, and she hasn't even made her debut yet!  Her nursery is stocked and just about ready for her arrival, and its all thanks to our amazing family and friends.  A big thanks to everyone, we couldn't be more grateful!!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

37 weeks - Full term!

Baby is now the size of a:  watermelon!  ::insert jaw drop::  She weighs approximately 6 1/3 pounds and measures anywhere from 20-21 inches in length.  She will remain at this length for the next three weeks, but she will continue to plump up.  Currently, her body fat is about eight percent; by birth, it'll be about fifteen percent.  At this point, she can do all the things a newborn can, with the exception of breathing air and pooping in a diaper.  Baby Lucy is now considered "full term"; meaning, if I were to go into labor now, her lungs would be mature enough to fully adjust to life outside the womb. Baby girl, you are absolutely welcome to join us any day now!!!

How I'm feeling:  exhausted, big, and swollen.  It does not take much to zap my energy level these days.  I fully intended to complete all cooking and freezing this weekend, and after just a few errands, I was completely and utterly drained for the day.  Before last week, I really hadn't experienced bad swelling...then the wonderful AZ sun decided to crank up the heat.  I've officially removed my wedding rings and toe ring, and I miss them terribly!  I cannot imagine being pregnant in the Arizona summer.  I'm also stressed about Miss Lucy's breech presentation, as her turning days are numbered...   I pray every night that Lucy turns, and every morning I'm greeted by the sight of her big ol' noggin right in front of my rib.  Fun fact:  breech presentations account for 3 percent of all pregnancies.  

Physical differences from last week:  I've hit the 32 pound mark...AND I'm two centimeters dilated!!!

What's been on my mind:  the phrase, "Your baby could be born at any time."  My contractions remind me of that almost daily.  I think we are pretty well prepared for her arrival.  I did all of her laundry on Sunday, we bought all the little things we still needed, and the nursery is almost complete.  I've decided to take three-day weekends until D-Day (hopefully that will only last one or two more weeks) to rest and finish up my remaining to-dos. 

What I'm looking forward to: Lucy flipping (either of her own free will or via an External Cephalic Version)!  Casey and the doc said I have to stop trying to bring on labor until she turns...

Random thoughts:  I'm now at the point in my pregnancy where I see the doc once a week.  When I saw her on Friday, and she told me how dilated I was, I almost screamed!  Unfortunately, this excellent news is sort of canceled out by Lucy's being breech.  If I were to go into labor today, before having the version procedure, I would be forced to have a c-section.  The game plan is to check her presentation at my appointment on Friday, and if she's still breech, we schedule the version.  Baby turning prayers would be appreciated, friends!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Birth Class (Part II & III) and The Hospital Tour

I hate to cram so much into one post...but time has officially gotten away from me!  Here I am almost 37 weeks pregnant, and I'm still rushing to prepare for this child's arrival (which could be any day now, thank you very much)!!!

The second and third birth classes were much like the first; hilarious, packed with info, and overall, a lot of fun.  I was actually a little sad that the classes had to end. 

The topics we covered during the second class included: epidurals, postpartum recovery, cesarean births, what-to-pack, and the role of the support person.  After hearing the instructor's spiel on epidurals, I realized they weren't nearly as awful as I imagined, and that the research and feedback I had received prior to the class was slightly biased.  Not to say that I'm suddenly in favor of pain meds, I just appreciate the different perspective.  The what-to-pack portion was especially beneficial.  The instructor recommended a few items that never would've crossed my mind.  For example, rice bags.  What the hell is a rice bag, you say?  Its a GENIUS, homemade massage device.  You fill a sock with rice, tie it off, and your partner can use it to rub your back.  It feels absolutely heavenly; it can be used at room temp, chilled, and even warmed.  Example number two, ice packs.  At any point during labor, hold the ice pack until your hands start to hurt.  The pain in your hands will distract you from the labor pain you are feeling.  Other items that I never would've thought of include racquet balls, popsicles, electric handheld massagers, and the birthing ball (as the hospital only has two birthing balls on hand, and if they are in use at the time, you're out of luck chuck).

The third class focused mainly on breathing and massage techniques, as well as positions for laboring and delivering.  We spent the last hour of class on the floor getting massaged by our hubbys; I thoroughly enjoyed this portion of the class.  I've got a few hand outs that I need to copy down on to notecards for the hospital bag, as there is A LOT to remember!  One thing to remember: "BURP'EM".  This acronym stands for Breathe, Urinate, Rest/Relaxation, Position, Encouragement/Enviornment, and Massage.  The support person needs to coach your breathing, remind you to use the bathroom every half hour, remind you to rest between the contractions, remind you to change your laboring position every half hour, offer encouraging words and keep the room neat, and massage you like there's no tomorrow.

I absolutely loved this class, and I loved the instructor; I highly recommend anyone planning on delivering at Scottsdale Healthcare on Shea OR Osborn take this class.  Unfortunately, our wonderful teacher is retired from nursing.  I asked her (lol) in hopes of having her present for my L & D.

Just a quick blurb about the tour:  it was not nearly as exciting as I expected it to be.  The tour was something I had been looking forward to from very early in my pregnancy.  Well after our amazing birthing class, we had already heard all the pertinent information about the hospital lay out and procedures.  It was nice to do a physical walk through and to familarize ourselves with where to go when its time, and of course, it was very exciting to realize I'd be in one of those hospital beds in a few short weeks (hopefully A LOT sooner)!  The rooms are very spacious and clean; they have a refrigerator, microwave, tv, cd player, dvd player, jacuzzi tub, and private bathroom in every room.  I plan on LIVING in the shower while I'm in labor, but all that other stuff is nice too, I guess.  LOL