Tuesday, June 30, 2009

1 Week Old

Where has the time gone? I can't believe our sweet angel is a little over a week old. We've had a pretty good week. It's been stressful as we've both been figuring out the "breastfeeding thing" and getting to know one another. We've had my mom here everyday since Emma and I came home from the hospital and are REALLY going to miss her next week. She's been my moral support so far and it's going to be tough to transition to life on our own.

I think we've done pretty well so far. Nights are the toughest because that's when WE'RE used to sleeping and Emma's used to doing her own thing. We've been feeding every 2 hours during the day and 3 hours at night, per the doctor's orders. It's often hard to get her back to sleep after a feeding - she's either passed out afterwards, or wide awake with no hopes of going to sleep for at least an hour.

We've had 2 doctor's appointments this week. The first was a wellness appointment to check her out. She had lost more weight - down to 8lbs. 1oz. She was also looking a little jaundiced, though it wasn't bad enough for the doctor to test. She got her hepatitis shot, which was painful to watch. The entire appointment was pretty painful for me. Emma wanted to nurse constantly before we left and I had to stop her so that we could leave in time. She didn't want to be in the carseat so she screamed the entire way to the doctor's office. She calmed down once I took her out of the carseat and was ok until they had me take her clothes off to weigh her. That's when it hit the fan! She screamed bloody murder until we left, at least 20 minutes later. We discovered that she had uric acid crystals in her urine while at the doctor. It's caused from dehydration, and is often common in babies who are breastfed in early weeks. She also refused to nurse in the office because we had really just begun to get the breastfeeding pattern down. Needless to say, when the doctor recommended a follow up appointment to check her weight, I could have cried.

Today was that follow up appointment. She gained 0.5oz since Friday, which I thought was good. The doctor was glad that she didn't lose more, but wanted her to have gained more. Everything else checked out well. The uric acid crystals are gone and Emma was much more pleasant - she slept through most of the appointment. We have to go back AGAIN on Friday to re-check her weight. I'm dreading it, but hoping and praying for a better number on that scale. The doctor's only advice was to feed her more often. We're going to start to feed every 2 hours even at night and let her have small meals whenever she wants them. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

I'm going to cram some photos in quickly while Emma naps - she's starting to wake up! I'll update when I can with the results of her next appointment. Keep us in your prayers!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Sweet Angel is Here!

Emma Claire Gilchrist
Born: 6/22/09
Time: 5:35 PM
Weight: 9.0 lbs
Length: 20.5 inches

The last few days have been the absolutely biggest whirlwind of our lives. We’ve had what is most certainly the best day of our lives, and in some ways the worst. Emma is finally here, but it took quite a physical toll on her mama and an emotional one on her daddy.

I went into labor shortly after my water broke on Father’s Day evening. We called the doctor and decided to wait at home until labor really began before heading to the hospital. A few hours later we were on our way. We dropped Lucy off at my parents house and took off for Northside.

When we were admitted I was measuring 2-3 centimeters and making fairly good progress considering that I had just gone into labor only a few hours before. The pain got progressively worse and I got an epidural. It helped for about 4 hours or so and then I regained all feeling. I received 2 more boluses of the medication directly into the epidural catheter. Neither one worked. I progressed to about 5-6 centimeters on my own, but was beginning to run a fever from my water breaking earlier on and the risk of infection was getting higher. The doctor began pitocin in my IV in order to make the contractions more productive.

After SEVERAL hours on pitocin and my epidural doing absolutely nothing, I was ready to throw in the towel. It was my only true moment of weakness during labor and delivery. The pain was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Just as I was about to give up, I got the urge to push and the doctor checked and told me I was finally 10 centimeters and ready to push!

I pushed for about 30-40 minutes or so and Emma’s head popped out! Her shoulders were the issue. Rather than delivering one shoulder and then the other, Miss Emma decided to have both come out at the same time, horizontally. They placed her on my stomach backwards – I couldn’t even see her little face. Once Brad cut the cord he brought her back to me to see. Unfortunately, he’s so tall that I still couldn’t see her very well.

The doctor delivered my placenta and then started to panic a little. I suffered a 4th degree tear – the worst that the doctor or nurse had ever seen. They realized immediately that I needed to be rushed to the OR to be stitched up correctly. Not to be too graphic, but my perineum tore completely through to the other side. They brought Emma over so that I could kiss her and try to see her little face through my tears before they whisked me down the hall.

I remember them trying to administer more epidural drugs, but nothing was working. They eventually ended up giving me a “cocktail” of several drugs intended to make me not as aware of what was going on. I was still able to feel almost everything, though I did get some lidocaine injections before they started. I was in surgery being worked on by 2 surgeons for over 2 hours. I was in recovery by myself for another 2 or 3 (hard to keep track of time!). They kept me longer because of my increased heart rate, which was nothing new for me.

I finally got back to my room in time to say goodbye to Brad’s parents and sister. I was able to eat and wash my face before they brought Emma in to us. I spent the next several hours (it was at least 1 AM before we saw her) eating her up with a spoon. It still amazes me that she’s here.

We got about 2 hours of sleep the first night in the hospital. I was able to nurse for the first time with the help of some awesome nurses. The next day is pretty blurry. I was on a pain pump because of the surgery and a catheter, so needless to say I was confined to the bed. Nursing Emma was fairly easy for the first day or so. Then it got tougher.

She’s got a little temper to her and wants her food NOW! My milk was just starting to come in once we got home, but she wanted immediate gratification. I saw a great lactation consultant in the hospital, but it’s easier said than done. She gets very impatient when the milk isn’t coming out right away, and isn’t very willing to “work for it.”
Nursing has gotten somewhat better. She latches on fairly well and only refuses when she has gas, which she has most of the time. It’s a full-time job for both Brad AND I, as he has to help me position, strip her down to her diaper if she’s falling asleep, talking to her and tickling to keep her awake, etc. He’s my lifeline. All in all, it’s a good 1 hour job to feed her – and then start all over again 2 hours later. Her gas issues are awful. She’s been keeping us up every night, all night. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we literally got 2 hours of sleep last night. She eats, refuses to burp on occasion, and then writhes and screams in pain ALL night long. I’ve gone to a really bland diet to try to keep gassy foods out of my breast milk, but she’s still having issues.

My mom has been coming every morning and spending the whole day with us until dinner time. It’s been the biggest blessing. She’s making sure the house is taken care of, keeping us well fed, watching Emma while we nap, and helping me maintain my sanity. I’m having a hard time with my confidence level as a new mom and it helps more than she’ll ever know to have her here by my side. I really couldn’t do this without her. As tough as our nights have been, I have to admit that I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when she leaves. However, I know that she’ll be better off if she’s had sleep at night and can help us during the day while we sleep. I can’t tell you how hard it’s going to be when she has to go back to work – I may have to find a way to pay her to stay here with us. I wish I was kidding.

We took her to her first pediatrician visit yesterday. It was a little rough. She decided she wanted to nurse for a couple of HOURS before we left, and I had to stop her so that we could leave. She screamed the entire way to the office and calmed down once we got there. That was, until they made me take her clothes and diaper off to weigh her. She’s down to 8 lbs 1 oz, which isn’t great. The day that we went, my milk had come in the night before, so I’m sure that’s the reason. The doctor also noticed a little jaundice, but nothing too serious. She recommended feeding as often as possible, which I am. We go back on Tuesday to have her re-weighed to make sure she’s gaining weight.

In terms of my recovery, it’s been very difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I’m recovering, but it’s tough. I’m in a great deal of pain most of the time and sitting in general is very painful. I spend a lot of time in bed with Emma resting and walking when I can to keep my energy up. I’m pretty surprised that they released us from the hospital when they did because they were considering an extra day because of the severity of my tear. I am using lots of cool tools every time I use the restroom, which is an entirely different story altogether. It’s the only rain on the parade though – Emma’s my doll.

I hope this was a pretty complete posting. I’ve been writing it over several days, as I have no time anymore! We’ve had a tough time lately, mostly with no sleep and a very fussy, gassy baby. We’ve been spending any spare time we have sleeping and are sorry to say that we haven’t really been able to have visitors yet. I really hope that you all understand that it’s not because I’m trying to be selfish with her – I can’t wait to show her off. It’s just been a difficult transition and we’re really right in the middle of it. We’re enjoying our little girl and can’t wait until she’s a better “visitor” and her mommy is a little more recovered so that we can show her off. She’s tends to get VERY over-stimulated when she’s passed around or out of her “comfort zone” for more than a little while. When she gets to that point, there’s no coming back and she cries inconsolably for a LONG time. She’s a little hurricane! She’s the sweetest most pleasant and cuddliest little baby on the planet when she’s happy, but when she’s stressed out, look out! Please keep us in your prayers – it’s a great time, but a hard one!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

She's Here!

I'm working on a new blog post, but my time is better spent these days :) Most of you have probably heard that Emma Claire was born on 6/22/09 at 5:35 PM. She weighed 9 lbs. and was 20.5 inches long! And THAT was at only 38 weeks! Here are some pictures to tide you over until I get a blog posted!

Emma Claire Gilchrist's Debut!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

38 Weeks

She could be here any day now! The waiting is torture, and the discomfort is even worse. I'd love to say that I've had an excellent week of putting my feet up and feeling great. Instead, I've been pretty miserable.

Health-wise, everything's great. Emma's graduated from kicking to HUGE movements in my belly - lots of "foot trails" that you can follow. She gets sweeter and sweeter everyday. She's also dropped quite a bit, which is the issue. She's SUPPOSED to be engaging in my pelvis right now, which she is. However, no one ever mentioned that it hurts like hell! The symphasis pain that I had earlier on in my pregnancy was NOTHING compared to what is likely a 7 lb. baby resting her head on my pubic bone. Ouch!

The heat in Atlanta is pretty miserable as well. Today my car was registering at least 95 degrees. We've tried to stay out of the heat as much as possible and have spent quite a bit of time lounging in mom and dad's pool, which is awesome.

We haven't really done much this week. I went to dinner with some friends/former students' moms and stopped by my new favorite store - New Baby Products. It's addictive. They even had brand new Baby Einstein videos (no DVDs) on sale for $1 a piece - needless to say, I bought 5. I was also able to pick up a few last minute things for Miss Em - teething guard for the crib (cheaper than Target.com!) and a waterproof pad for her cosleeper.

Tomorrow we are doing a make-up date for maternity photos. It was raining and storming when we tried a couple of weeks ago, so we rescheduled. I can't wait to see how they turn out!

A few days ago I was fairly sure that we wouldn't be able to hold out for maternity pictures. I've started having Braxton Hicks contractions (AKA, false labor). In fact, a couple of days ago they were so regular that we could have timed them. That went on for several hours. However, they stopped when I laid on my left side, which is a tell-tale sign that they weren't the real thing. I haven't had BH contractions before this week, so I think it's a sign that SOMETHING is coming up soon!

I have a doctor's appointment with my favorite and primary OB on Wednesday. He's the "decision making man" as far as I'm concerned, so I am excited to see what he has to say in terms of a plan from here out. He may not have anything to add, but I'm hoping he can give me a better idea of what to expect if Miss Em is as big as they say she is. She's got the hiccups as I type this. I think she's ready to come out!

I'll let you know what the doctor says! Also have an ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday, and I'm HOPING that they measure her again, but they will likely just check her fluid levels again. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Monday, June 15, 2009

37 Weeks and a little progress...

This has been a good, but very busy week for Brad and I, and for Emma too. Brad took a class last week that was for art teachers in Dekalb. He was pretty much gone during his normal "work hours" so I was on my own. It was a little nice, truth be told. I was able to get a lot of stuff around the house done, get to my doctor's appointment, and even meet a few friends for lunch in my spare time - all things I'll have little time for in a few weeks or less!

On Thursday I went with my mom to Thomson (about 2 hours away) to visit my Grandpa. My doctor wasn't too keen on the idea, but I had a pretty good feeling that not much would happen in terms of labor before we could get back to Atlanta. Following the doctor's orders we stopped every 45 minutes to stretch in order to prevent blood clots from forming. It was a really nice trip - nice to spend some time with Mom and nice to see Grandpa for the first time in several months. He shocked me though. He was asleep when we got there. He woke right up, looked right at me and said "Hey Susie!" (he's the ONLY one, aside from my Grandma, who has ever been allowed to call me that!!!) and looked right at my belly. I haven't seen him since January or so, so it was a great visit.

We're really feeling very prepared for a baby these days. Someone asked me this week what else we needed to get done. I had to stop and think.....nothing! Everything's washed, packed, prepared, planned, and ready to go. All we need is a baby! According to my ticker I have 18 more days. That's pretty mind blowing.

Here's a picture of something cool that I bought this week. It's called a "Woombie." It's made for swaddling babies, which is recommended for up to 4 or 5 months. You could use a blanket, but according to the woombie website, it can inhibit normal motor development if used too much. With the woombie, she can move and stretch a little, but not enough to startle herself awake. It's also supposed to help prevent SIDS. MY biggest reason for wanting one? Middle of the night diaper changes are MUCH easier. You just unzip, change the diaper, and zip it back up. Cool, huh?

I've not really felt my best this week. I've reached that point where everything hurts. I hurt getting out of bed, getting out of the car, sitting up, standing, walking, etc. I've even got pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel. You get the picture. I got a little excited yesterday - beware, you're about to hear something that may be TMI. I lost my mucous plug yesterday. According to the doctor, she could come at any moment from now, to 3 weeks from now. It doesn't mean much, but a lot of moms swear that they delivered a few days from losing their MPs. My fingers are crossed now that we're full term!

I had a doctor's appointment today and another ultrasound. The ultrasound didn't actually measure the baby, just the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding her. It was pretty hard to differentiate anything in the ultrasound. Her head is so low that you can barely see her face and she's using "all of her space" with her other parts. Apparently, it's only accurate to measure the baby's size every 4 weeks. The doctor wanted to be sure that I wasn't measuring so large because of too much fluid. Good news - her fluid levels checked out perfectly. Next week I will have another ultrasound to check fluid levels, and the following week (should I make it that far) I will have an ultrasound to check her size.

The doctor didn't have much in terms of news, but was pretty informative on our course of action from here. I told her that I was concerned that if Emma was so big, that she may not fit and we'd have to do an emergency c-section. She explained that induction wasn't a good option at all. Apparently, when a mother goes into labor naturally, the baby has several ways of letting the doctor know whether she will or will not fit through the birth canal. That way, if she's showing signs that it may not work out, we can go ahead with the c-section. When you induce, you take away all chances that the baby had to let the doctor know of issues and things could get dicey.

She DID say that they would wait until a week or so before my due date before deciding anything and if she was looking REALLY big, they would schedule a c-section. I'm pretty comfortable with this. As a teacher who works with a lot of kids that have had their brain function compromised by a lack of oxygen, the LAST thing that I want is for us to try to deliver naturally and have her get stuck, cutting off her oxygen. The doctor also mentioned that the stabbing pains in my sides and pubic bone that I've been getting lately are completely normal at this point.

I'm not really sure how or when things will go down from this point, but I'm ready! For all I know, I could go into labor tonight. Then again, I could also be overdue. I have complete confidence in my doctors - they've been SO diligent and on top of my medical needs so far. I was looking at a copy of my medical records over the weekend. I've had 9 ultrasounds with this pregnancy alone - and that doesn't include the perinatal specialist's ultrasound, or the ones that I will have after this week. I'd say that they're very cautious and are keeping my and Emma's best interest in mind when they decide where to go from here. I'm just anxious because of the unknown. On the plus side, in 18 days or less it won't be unknown anymore!

I thought it would be fun to post a "before" and "after" picture of the belly today. The "before" was taken at 14 weeks. The "after" was taken today, after spending most of the afternoon in the pool. It's amazing how good it feels to float in the pool. The only down side is that gravity takes over HARD when you get out! Ouch.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Doctor's Appointment

I just got back from my weekly doctor's appointment. I've been trying to see a different doctor in the practice each week so that I'm familiar with them all, so this appointment was with a very nice doctor that I haven't met before. She measured my uterus and said that it's still measuring large (39.5 weeks/centimeters) and that she wondered if it was because of a good amount of amniotic fluid around the baby. She said that, because the baby was so large at the last ultrasound, she wants to do another ultrasound next week (which I already suspected) to see how much bigger she is and make sure that the measurements are right.

I asked her what her guess was as to birth weight. She said that she was surprised to see a first baby be this large, but that she would suspect between 8.5 and 9 lbs!!!! I almost fell off the table. I asked her if she thought I'd make it to 40 weeks. She said I "might." Her game plan is to wait for a couple of weeks and see if the baby descends into my pelvis more. If I've reached almost 40 weeks and she's not, they'll schedule a C-Section, assuming that she's just too big to fit. I asked about whether or not her head would fit. She said that we would take it as trial and error, meaning that if I go into labor and the baby doesn't descend - C-Section. She also hinted that if it looked like she were going to be huge, they would try to induce a little early rather than schedule a c-section automatically.

I'm pretty happy with that plan. I'd like to give Em as much of a chance to come naturally as she can, but don't want to risk her being too big and getting stuck, which could be a real possibility. So, as it stands now, I have an ultrasound and another weekly appointment scheduled for Monday. We'll take it from there! Leave it to Brad to get me pregnant with a baby ogre! Hehe!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

36 Weeks

And JUST when you thought I couldn't possibly get much bigger...... :) This has been a fairly uneventful week so far, which I consider to be a good thing. Brad is taking a one week seminar this week with the Dekalb County art department. He's thrilled because there's a stipend. In fact, tonight he told me that I absolutely COULDN'T go into labor this week because he needed his $$. I just laughed.

I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow morning which should just be a check-up. I'm expecting the follow-up ultrasound the following week to check and see how big my "not-so-little miss" is. Tomorrow evening we are going to Agnes Scott to have professional maternity photos taken. I'm excited! I'll share those as soon as I get them.

I've spent most of the week catching up with friends and relaxing, two things I won't have much time to do in a few weeks! So hard to believe that she will be here in a little over 3 weeks at the most. I'll be considered full-term this Friday. I'm getting so excited!

Emma sort of "turned" immediately after my last doctor's appointment. For a few months now she's been in the exact same position most of the time - her butt under the right side of my ribcage and her legs under my left, in a C-shape. Her kicks were mostly in the same spot. After she moved, she's now EVERYWHERE! She spends most of her time in positions that I can barely distinguish based on which body parts I can identify. A good deal of the time she seems to be facing out now rather than in, with her knees and feet poking out of my belly under my ribs. Hard to explain, I know. I can definitely tell you that I'm feeling a ton more kicks and movements now with her like this - she's an active girl. Her favorite thing to do is stick out a foot and move it all the way across my belly - creepy and a little uncomfortable! My mom got to feel her moving like this last week and almost flipped out - it feels very....different. I guess she's just in cramped quarters these days!

People have asked me if I'm nervous yet. I am, but not as much as I would have thought. I've never been admitted to a hospital before, so that freaks me out a little. The IV freaks me out a little. Seriously though, the only thing that truly scares me is making it through the pain of getting to 5 cm (the point at which I can have my lovely epidural). I can hardly wait to meet my new best friend - Mr. Anesthesiologist Man. I'm sure I can do it, but am really not looking forward to it. After that, I'm pretty comfortable with the process. I'm not even that concerned about the actual delivery - she'll get here one way or another!

I can't wait to be able to take her home. I was thinking a lot last night about how much things around here will change once she's born. When I was first pregnant and it was really starting to sink in that I may actually have a real baby in a few months, I was terrified. It hit me all at once - we can't go out anymore, we can't come and go as we please, sleeping in days are over, etc. etc. etc. Now that it's just around the corner, I really don't care about any of those things anymore. I'm actually looking forward to life changing because it will be so much for the better.

I'm still a little concerned at how Brad will adjust. He's quite used to being spoiled. His mother will happily admit that he went straight from her doing everything for him and spoiling him, to ME doing the same. He's definitely grown up a ton though and I will happily tell you that he is much more self-sufficient now than he was when I met him. He's done an excellent job of taking care of me while I've been pregnant, and long before. I'm not ashamed to say that he spoils me rotten almost every night (or whenever I ask) with foot massages and back rubs. He IS, however, very accustomed to sleeping in and making spur of the moment plans, which will be things of the past. I'm sure that once she's here and we are on some sort of a schedule and know how to plan around her, things will get much easier than they seem. It's just a matter of getting there! I just can't wait to see this little girl rock his world!

I'll update tomorrow after the doctor's appointment, though, once again, I doubt there will be much of an update!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My BIG girl!

"Your baby doesn't have much room to maneuver now that she's over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5 1/4 pound." This is the quote that I received from my weekly email updates on my pregnancy for last week. According to MY calendar, I'll be 36 weeks tomorrow. According to the doctor's calculations, I'm about 35 weeks and 4 days, but who's counting?

I said all that to tell you about my ultrasound and doctor's appointment today. Guess what little bit weighs???? Go ahead, guess........I was shocked. In fact, I muttered an expletive a little louder than I should have (luckily the ultrasound tech and I have become friends over the last year). 6 LBS 13 OZ!!!!!!! She's a chunky monkey! Don't get me wrong - I'm thrilled that she's so healthy that she's tipping the scales - and in the 86th percentile, might I add (it was the 66th percentile at the last ultrasound). I was just REALLY not expecting to hear that she's nearly 7 lbs already and I still have about 4 weeks to go. Wow.

She was head down, which I already pretty much knew, but was a relief to confirm. At this point, she's not likely to flip again because she's really running out of room. She's been hanging out on the right side of my belly with her butt under my ribs and her head down. She gets the hiccups at least once a day and I can tell that she's head down when she does. It's cute as can be - watching my belly jump with each hiccup - but I feel so sorry for her! This week she's also been sticking her little feet out so that I can feel them and could even measure them if I had a ruler! She doesn't kick quickly and then pull that little foot back in like she used to. I guess she just doesn't have the room anymore, but it's precious to feel those little feet and knees sticking out.

After my momentary freak out and a marathon long wait in the waiting room, we went in for the doctor's appointment itself. She measured my uterus, which was measuring at 40 weeks! Apparently, at my appointment 2 weeks ago I was measuring 39 weeks (she didn't tell me) and that was why she ordered the ultrasound this week. The doctor didn't seem concerned about her size. She wants to do another ultrasound when I'm "term" (37 weeks) and see if she's still getting bigger. If she's too big, they will schedule a c-section. I asked for her educated guess as to what Em will weigh when she gets here. Her "guess" is in the high 7's, low 8's. I'm PRAYING that she's right and that I don't have to take the c-section route. We'll see. It's in God's hands now.

It was a great appointment all in all. I gained my 1 lb per week that they want me to (14 lbs. total for the curious). I have ample amniotic fluid and Emma looks great - big cheeks and all. I may scan an ultrasound photo tomorrow, but they weren't great because her head's so low. we WERE able to see those big old cheeks though! The doctor DID notice how much she had dropped, but still has a way to go. I asked if she thought that I'd deliver on time or had any chance of being early, considering that the ultrasound machine projected June 28th today. She said that I'd likely be on time. I have a slight risk of an earlier delivery because of her size, but it's not likely.

These past 2 weeks or so I've been having some ankle swelling and redness, which the doctor got to see today and was ok with. She said that the swelling was really minimal and that the redness was just from the normal edema from this point in pregnancy and was to be expected. The only real issue that I've had this week has been my hands falling asleep and some pretty serious pain in my right hand that radiates down my wrist. She said that it's pregnancy carpal tunnel and that it's also very common. Not much to do other than wear a wrist brace occasionally (which I have been doing) and keep it elevated, as well as my feet. I told her that it was great timing because I've finally reached the point in the school year where I can sit back and put my feet up a little more often.

That being said, I can't begin to tell you how busy we've been this week. Brad installed the carseat this week and we've really gotten everything done that we could possibly get done at this point. We've almost finished packing "the bag." It feels great to get so much accomplished. I keep realizing that there's always the possibility that I could go into labor any minute. It's a good thing that we didn't procrastinate on this one! Hard to believe that my 9 months of "cooking" this baby are almost over! I'm DEFINITELY ready!