Thursday, December 31, 2009

Six Weeks? Already?! REALLY?!?!

Wow--it has been a few weeks since I last posted! It seems like a lot longer though....and at the same time I can't believe how fast the time has gone by!! Has it really been six weeks since he arrived? SIX?!

Gabriel is growing and learning by leaps and bounds. I am absolutely astonished at his progress--it's something new every day!! I could just sit and watch him for hours! COULD being the key word....COULD if I didn't have other things to do like cleaning and eating and showering and helping take care of my niece, Lily.

The first few weeks were so crazy! Just when I thought I had him figured out, he'd change up the game and I had to relearn new patterns. I was trying to stay a step ahead of him, but a lot of the time I found myself struggling just to keep up!! Gabe is settling into a routine (for now) though. He has pretty predictable feeding and napping times and mood patterns. I'm getting into a routine that works really well for the both of us (except bath time--that just happens whenever I can fit it into the day, but I'm going to start doing it in the evenings before bed). I prepare three bottles of boiled/cooled water (4 oz. each) and take those up to my room with me, along with a formula dispenser (one of those plastic ones you can buy that's divided into sections that you portion out enough formula powder for one bottle each--an absolutely necessary item for formula fed babies!!) at bed time. Gabriel wakes up for a bottle around 5am, give or take an hour depending on when he fell asleep--he usually sleeps for about six hours or so. He goes back to sleep for a few hours and then wakes up for another bottle (the third bottle is for "just in case"). I read to him while I feed him is 8/9 o'clock bottle. When he's done eating, he's ready to coo and play with mamma for a while!! Yay!! For the rest of the morning and early afternoon he takes little cat naps and has some active play time between bottles. He drinks around 4oz. (give or take an ounce) about every 2-3 hours. He takes a long nap in the late afternoon and then he's cranky for a little bit (haha). Then evening hits and we all go to bed and do it all over again!

So. Updates. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote! We (Mom, Candace, and I) took the kids to the beach in early December--Gabe's first time! He, of course, didn't really do much. Ha! He just sat in his carseat/stroller most of the time and slept under the shade of his little canopy thing. The sound of the waves knocked him right out!! I drug him out into the sun for a few minutes for pictures, but that was about it for him. Lily had a lot of fun though. We got her some beach toys--shovels and buckets and whatnot--and she had a ball!! I tell ya, that kid is FEARLESS. She charged those waves like she was gonna show them who was boss! A few of them weren't having it though and she took a spill or two. Hahahaha!

Mine and Gabriel's footprints in the sand

Gabe's initials in the sand at Bellows to remember his first beach trip!

This is what I did most of the time...but I love playing with my son!

Ugh...ignore my icky post-baby body...

When we got home, Gabriel got his first real big boy bath in his little tub!!

We forgot to take pics DURING the bath...but we got some immediately after!

Gabe had his one month well baby check. He measured in a 22 inches and 10 lbs. 12 oz. The kid grew an inch and gained almost TWO POUNDS!! I couldn't believe it! My little boy is growing so fast! I swear I can't blink or I'll miss something!

Mamma's little fatty!

The doctor found a heart murmur, but that's pretty common in newborns and they usually grow out of it. There's not much to be concerned about, but he ordered an echocardiogram anyway just to be safe. That's in about two and a half weeks.

December 20th was Gabriel's blessing day. For those who are unfamiliar with what that is, let me explain. First off, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (of which I am a member) doesn't believe in "original sin"--which is to say that we believe all men will be punished for their OWN sins and not Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden, contrary to the beliefs of other religious groups. Because of this belief, we do not find it necessary to baptize babies or very young children because they are born innocent (they are baptized, if they choose, when they are of an accountable age - no earlier than eight years old). Babies are given a name and a blessing by a priesthood holder (usually the father of the child--in our case, my stepdad Mike), most of the time within their first few weeks or months--but this is entirely up to the parents. It's a very special occasion. We believe that the priesthood holder who gives the blessing is prompted by the holy spirit to know what to say in this blessing. It comes from heavenly father and each is unique. Traditionally, the baby is dressed in white (a dress or suit). Well we bought the most adorable little suit for Gabriel's blessing!! He is the first grandson and the first to be blessed in what will become a family heirloom for the baby boys in the family. It was sooo cute on him! We took pictures of the whole family the day of his blessing, but I got home and realized the memory card wasn't in my we had to redo them the next week LOL. I did get a few pictures of him on the actual day of on my cell though... I also went and had professional pictures taken of him in the suit a few days after his blessing. I can't wait to see them!!

He was NOT havin' it at this point. He wanted the suit OFF!! I think he may have been too warm...

Much happier in his adorable little white tie onesie I bought him before I left Utah

Gamma kisses!

This is the hat that came with the suit...needless to say, he didn't wear it for his blessing...HA!

Me, Gabriel, Mike

Love my lil guy

Hahaha--he got hot again...poor kid!

Gabe and Gamma

Candace with Lily and Gabriel

Lily loves her cousin!!

The sister/cousins/niece/nephew picture!

Hahahaha--love the look on his face. It was really bright lol

Gabriel's first Christmas was so great--thanks to the love and generosity of friends and family! He received clothes and rattles and educational/developmental toys--he even got a bouncer! Can I just say--I never realized how beneficial and pretty much absolutely necessary those are!! I didn't buy him one because I didn't think I needed to, but he LOVES it! It keeps him calm and occupied and he's becoming a lot more active than he already was--which is really saying something!

Another thing that is really helping to promote movement and muscle development is a set of rattles my mom and Mike got for him. There are two that wrap around his wrist and two attached to socks. They are awesome!! Since he can't quite keep ahold of plastic rattles yet, these are essential for his development right now. They are plush rattles and they aren't super loud (so they don't startle him). I put them on him and he gets so excited when he is able to make them rattle and make noise! You should see him kick and wave his arms! It's super cute and really exciting to see him learning new things!

Anyway--I opened his presents since he is unable to for the time being (LOL). After presents and lunch, the whole family (Mike, Mom, Candace, Lily, my brother Adam, his girlfriend Karen and I) went to the beach! Candace bought the family a couple of boogie boards and they all hit the waves while I hung out on the beach with Gabe. It was a beautiful day--hard to believe it was Christmas with no snow on the ground!

So those are the major events so far! I am loving being a mother--what a fulfilling, wonderful calling in life! Gabriel is such a joy to have. I can't believe God gave me this precious, sweet, adorable little boy! Gabe has taught me SO MUCH in these past six weeks. I've learned a lot--not only about taking care of a baby and what it is to be a mother (not even CLOSE to what I imagined!), but also about myself and life and love. There have been some frustrating days and sleepless aggravating nights, times when I felt like I was thirteen years old again with no idea what I'm doing, feelings of helplessness and cluelessness, but I wouldn't trade any of it for the world! I learn something new every day and I get to watch my son do the same. I experience real, true happiness in each of his smiles and in his laughter (a somewhat new development!). I feel the warmth and unconditional love from a child that I get to call mine. Every time he looks at me or falls asleep in my arms or coos my heart just melts. I treasure every second I have with him.

He is my special little guy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Small Milestones

So! Gabriel officially has a belly button! His little cord nubbin finally fell off this morning!! yay! I hated having to work around that thing...and now he can take real baths!! I think he's going to have an outtie...but maybe I just need to give it more time...

Another milestone today: Gabe's first outing! No big deal, really--just went shopping with Candace and Lily and Grandma! Candace needed a dress for a work party so we all went shopping with her!! Can I just say one thing? I LOVE MY STROLLER. It is seriously the best out there for infant carriers! The ones that come in the whole "travel system" are horrendous--they are huge and bulky and hard to maneuver--ugh. So I got the Graco stroller frame thing--it folds up really slim, it's light and compact and really easy to steer around. I. Love. It. It totally rocks. And I got it on CraigsList, so it was a steal of a deal!

Anyway, while we were out, we found a cute little outfit for Gabriel! My mom bought it for him but we don't get it till Christmas...bummer... Anyway, it's really cute.

So I'm a little frustrated right now. I was pumping and feeding Gabriel with a bottle--but still breast milk. And then one day I get the retarded idea that I should give nursing another try...bad idea. It totally threw my milk supply out of whack! I was pumping about 3-4 ounces per breast before and now I'm lucky if I can get that COMBINED!! It sucks sooo bad! Especially since he's wanting to eat every hour right now! I can't keep up with him! I'm afraid I might have to supplement with formula... =(  HUGE bummer. I do NOT want to have to give him formula! But if I can't give him all that he needs....ugh...this is hard. My nipples can't take much more of this anyway! (TMI for you? Oh well. I'm over it) Unless I get calluses or something...eew. I don't even want to think about that. But I'm just so sore!! I'm beginning to dread pumping time! Even though I know it's doing SO MUCH good for my little just makes me so sore and to only get an ounce or two out of each breast is so disheartening...makes me want to give up. But I felt that way in the beginning too--I stuck with it and eventually started getting quite a bit. I just don't know what to do! I've been pumping consistently, drinking more water--more than before when I was getting plenty of milk! And I've been eating better too! I just don't understand why it's not working. The worst part is that he has thrown up TWICE in the past two days. I'm talking projectile vomiting. And entire bottle--not just a little spit up. Three or so ounces. THAT sucks...especially when I can barely keep up with the demand for it. Poor little guy--I know it's not his fault.

So there's the joys and frustrations for the time being. Blah.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Post-Birth Story...

So Gabriel is a little over two weeks old now! I can't believe it! He is changing and growing every day!

Anyway, to continue our story...

After a brief few minutes with Gabriel, they took him away to the nursery to do more newborn tests and checks and to bathe him. The doctors began repairing the many layers of incisions...that took about a half hour or more. While they were doing that, they told me what was wrong/why a vaginal delivery would never have happened. There were three factors: 1) Gabriel's size--he was just too big!, 2) The shape of my pelvis--too small? not conducive to vaginal delivery EVER? or just wrong for Gabe?, and 3) his position--he was posterior (facing up instead of down) and his head was kinda cocked to the side. I never would have been able to push him out. A c-section had to happen. Period. So anyway, they sewed me up and then Dr. Foley took the time to glue the last layer to minimize the scar, which was REALLY nice of him. Especially since he had two other surgeries to get to (I made him late)--mine was last minute and it takes a lot more time and effort to glue it rather than just staple or stitch it. When I thanked him for taking the time to glue me, he said (in his Oxford, England accent) "Oh of course! Staples and stitches are for Frankenstein's monsters, not ladies. Especially not pretty ones." *wink*   LOL

After repair, they wheeled me to triage for an hour. That was weird. You know the "patient view" in those tv shows were someone is being wheeled into the ER? That's what it was like. I hated not being able to see anything but ceiling, lights, and the people pushing me.

I finally got to my recovery room and they brought Gabriel to me. I cried--I was more happy than I had ever been in my life. I just stared at him for what seemed like hours. I couldn't believe this little angel was MINE! Could he really have been in my belly just HOURS ago? I never understood my capacity to love until that moment. My heart out grew my chest--and I was holding it in my arms. My little baby boy! How did anything matter before this? Suddenly any pain or heartache or frustration I had felt during my pregnancy or labor was gone. None of it mattered. Only this. Only my child. My son. My little angel, Gabriel. He is my whole heart!

Every time I look at him, I have this overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude. I know things are probably going to be hard. I know that. But as long as I have my baby boy, somehow I know I'll be okay. All we need is each other. I love him more than I've ever loved anything! As we go from day to day, I marvel at his progress and his adorable little habits and sounds. He is such an amazing little miracle! He makes me laugh every day! My life is so much fuller with him in it! I am so happy to have him here with me!!

Gabriel was circumcised the day after he was born--sad!! That was a rough day for him. On top of that, he was having a hard time latching, so he wasn't getting as much nourishment as he needed. His biliruben levels were a little escalated because he wasn't eating enough. If they climbed any higher, it would have turned into jaundice. They told me I needed to supplement with formula. NOOOO!! I didn't want to do that! But I had to because he couldn't latch on so....bummer. In the meantime I tried pumping to make my milk come in. That didn't happen. Grr... When I got home, though, I started pumping and slowly but surely I started getting enough for full feedings! Yay!! I'm so glad I'm able to feed him breast milk--it's so much better than formula (cheaper too!!)

It is a little frustrating trying to care for him and recover from surgery at the same time. I wish my body would just hurry up and HEAL already so I can be Mommy 100%! He's going through his first growth spurt, so he's a little fussy and he wakes up once or twice in the middle of the night to eat. It's hard for me because I can't even sit up! It's quite the maneuver, actually. But I can't get to him as fast as I'd like to. It breaks my heart that I can't do everything I want to for him. Recovering has annoying. I have no patience for it! I've never had to recover from anything except wisdom teeth removal! Never broken a bone or had to have stitches or anything. I'm not cut out for this being indisposed crap.

So yeah...that's life right now! Gabriel and I are both doing really well! He just went to his two week check up on Monday and he's right on track! The only thing is that his umbilical cord hasn't fallen off yet, but Dr. Newcomb says not to worry about it. I went for my two week follow up as well. Dr. Foley says everything looks good. I just can't really do anything until January--I'm not allowed to lift anything heavier than Gabriel and I can't take a submerged bath, go to the beach, or exercise for six weeks. Guess what though?! I'm already down to my pre-baby weight! Crazy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Birth Story!

I know, I know. It's been a while. But I have an excuse: I HAD A BABY!!

It's about time, right?! I know. So here's the story. It may or may not be super long. I don't want to be here typing it out forever, but that might just be how it works out. Bear with me!

My birthday (the 13th) came and went and no baby.

I was super bummed. I actually woke up on my birthday and cried! Seriously. That's how badly I wanted him HERE!! My mom took me out to lunch and that cheered me up. The next day, my uncle flew in from Georgia for vacation and Thanksgiving. Still no baby. Ugh.

I went to bed on the 14th having contractions, but didn't think anything of it because I had been having contractions for DAYS. This time was different, though, and I didn't even know it!

At around 1:30 am, I felt a little something. I got up and went to the bathroom and that's when I realized what that "something" was--my water broke!! Yay!! Not another case of false labor! I woke up my mom and she woke up Mike and we were off to the hospital!! (Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women and Children)

When we got to the hospital, the triage nurse had to take a look at the..uh...leaking fluids...under a microscope to make sure it was amniotic fluid....yep! I was sooooo freakin excited!! I was only dilated 1.5cm and 50% effaced, but they kept me because my water broke--they made sure I knew it too! I finally got a room and settled in for some labor and delivery--about time!!

The nurses checked in on me pretty often to take my temperature because they were worried about infection due to water bag breakage. The annoying part was that I didn't know if I was progressing because they wanted to check me as little as possible to avoid further risk of infection. I labored in bed and on a ball and walked the halls...nothing really did any good. They checked me at eight hours and then again at twelve hours....nothing. No progression. At all. Just useless contractions for 12 hours. They were getting more and more concerned about the length of time with no progress. If my water hadn't broken, they would have sent me home, but again--infection.

Finally, much to my dismay and against my birth plan, we started Pitocin. I was not happy about that. Contractions got worse, but I was hell bent on riding them out without an epidural! After a few hours, though, it got bad. Really bad. I was concentrating on relaxing and breathing through them, but I couldn't handle it anymore. The nurse checked me and I was dilated to a four and 70% effaced--yay! Progress!! They gave me phentanol (spelling? most likely wrong, I know) for the unbelievable pain. That stuff was freaking AWESOME. Knocked me right out! I had three doses of that spaced out over about five hours or so. When they checked me again, I was dilated to a seven (!) and about 80 or 90% effaced. They wanted the drugs to wear off before I started pushing, so they wouldn't give me any more phentanol. Bummer. Plus, my temperature was climbing, which points toward...guess what? Infection. Great. They started me on antibiotics--again, NOT something I wanted to do! My birth plan was slowly disintegrating. I really wanted to stick to it, but I couldn't handle the pain after so many hours of labor so I caved and got the epidural. That was nice because I was able to sleep for a while.

The doctor came in to check me after a while and told me I was dilated to a ten and fully effaced! I was so excited! He told me I could start pushing soon and I was ecstatic! We just needed to wait for my regular/usual doctor (Dr. Newcomb) to get there. Some time had passed and the nurse doubled checked things to make sure we were good to go. Wah-wah-waaahhhh.....The doctor had made a mistake. I was still only 7cm and 90% effaced. Boooo!! They said that my cervix was really soft and doing its job, but Gabriel was still at -2 station and in order for me to continue progressing, he needed to descend so his head would push against my cervix and get me the rest of the way.

We decided to give him some more time since his heart rate was still awesome and he didn't seem to be under any stress. An hour or two passed. No progress. The doctor told me that they needed to insert an internal monitor to see if my contractions were strong enough to be doing their job. This way they could see if they needed to turn the pitocin up a notch or two. I REALLY didn't want to do that (there are risks...just like anything...). We decided that we would try blindly upping the pitocin and go from there. We waited a while more and there was no progress. Fine--put in the monitor. They did the internal monitor and saw that my contractions were definitely strong enough to do the job, but something else was preventing it.

Eventually they brought in the attending OB (Dr. Foley) so he could assess the situation and tell us what our options were. He delivered the news: I needed to get a c-section. NO!!! This, aside from one of us being harmed in some way, was worst case scenario for me. I didn't want Pitocin. I REALLY didn't want an epidural. And I MOST DEFINITELY DID NOT WANT A C-SECTION!!!  I cried. I was so upset! And disappointed!! My ENTIRE birth plan went completely out the window! Nothing happened the way I had hoped it would...but that's life I guess. Dr. Foley said that he was concerned for a few reasons: 1) there had to be something keeping Gabriel from descending--especially with how hard my contractions were--and he didn't want to wait to find out if that would put Gabe under distress, 2) whatever infection I had could get to Gabriel at any time, 3) my temperature was high, which meant Gabe's was even higher, and 4) even if I tried waiting for him to descend and he did and I dilated and effaced the way I needed to, my uterus might rupture if I tried pushing because I had been in labor and contracting for sooooo long (over 30 hours at that point!). I agreed with him. I was absolutely exhausted anyway. I couldn't go much longer. I was done! Besides, the most important thing for me was that they get Gabriel out safe and sound. So they prepped me for surgery.

They wheeled me into the OR suite and began adjusting my epidural. Oh boy. Here goes. They put up the blue curtain and started poking me to make sure I was fully numb. Yep. Let's get on with it! I started shaking uncontrollably. It was weird. I tried to make myself stop. Concentrated on it. But I couldn't!! I asked the nurse why I was shaking and she assured me that it was normal--it was the anesthesia.

Okaaayyy..... Finally, they escorted my mom in (all gowned up, camera around her neck) and they went to work.

I gotta say--it was really weird hearing Dr. Foley and Dr. Newcomb talk to each other about what they were doing ("Nice incision."  "Okay good, let's suction that..." "Alright - next layer....goooood...." etc.) knowing it was ME they were slicing up. SO weird. Even though I was kinda out of it, it was still very very odd.

I knew he was about to arrive because they told my mom to get the camera ready. I was suddenly very aware. This was it! THE moment! They told me "Okay, Ashley, you may feel some pressure here..." I didn't. I was concentrating on hearing my baby. That's all I wanted. I heard some gushy sounds and then some suction and "BIG boy...!" and then....little gurgly baby sounds!! And then a cry!! My baby! He's here!!

I was instantly in tears. The nurses took him over to a little station where they cleaned him up and took his vitals really quick. It didn't seem really quick though. From where I was, strapped to an operating table, straining to see my baby, it seemed like an eternity. They untied my arms and brought him over to me so I could touch him and sorta-but-not-really hold him.

MY ANGEL!! MY LITTLE GABRIEL!! I finally had him! It was the happiest moment of my life.

And THAT, is the birth story. Tune in later for updates and other fun facts and stories!