June 30, 2012

Triumphant Return

After well over a month (maybe close to 2?) I was able to make it to the gym this morning. 

My mom Some might say this was a dumb thing to do. In fact, one of the ladies at the gym asked how long ago I gave birth. When I replied three weeks ago, she shockingly asked if my doctor had cleared me already. 

Nope. In fact, I don't see my own doctor until next Friday. But I've been feeling really good, the class I wanted to take wasn't super early, and compared to my normal balls-out approach to working out, I maintained a relatively low intensity. 

So how did I feel?

I felt GREAT!!!

It was great to be back at the gym with my mom. It was great to be able to move my body the way I used to be able to. (I can lift my knees to my chest again!) It was great to be able to do regular sit-ups again. It was great to feel light again!

I missed being away from G, but knowing Brian has things under control at home made it easy to be away for an hour or so.

I need to modify my old work out routine- obviously, I won't be able to do 6 am workouts anymore. For a while, anyway. Brian and I have been taking Giuliana and Kevin out on walks almost every night, but I'm ready to step it up a little bit more. Insanity, maybe? Turbo Fire? I'll figure it out.

And here's how things have been looking around here in the last 3 weeks:
I'm in love!!! ♥

Her 3 week stats: 21 inches, 6 lbs, 9.5 oz... coming right along!

June 25, 2012

The First Two Weeks

If the Friday Giuliana was born was one of the happiest days of my life, the Saturday after she arrived was one of the worst.

Because I would still be a magnesium-induced fall risk for 24 hours after giving birth, not only was I literally stuck in bed ALL DAY, but I couldn't go see my new born baby. They wouldn't let anyone wheel me to the NICU because of the way they were monitoring me. So bed rest it was, with an IV stick stuck in my right arm, a lab tech coming in every couple of hours to take blood from my left arm, a catheter, and a tv remote that didn't work. Oh yeah, and my baby shower was at 12:00 that day. 

Alexis came and visited me in the morning. Brian came by for a couple of hours before he made an appearance at the shower. Doctors kept coming in to inform me of G's status (it was always positive- she was just an uncoordinated eater at first, so she would forget breathe while she was eating). My parents came after the shower ended. Brian came back to spend time with me in the afternoon/evening. 

But the day was slow. I was in pain. I really wanted a shower- or at least be able to brush my teeth. And most of all, I wanted to see my baby.

Finally, after 11:30 pm, my nurse came in with good news- they were going to remove my IV and catheter, and I could get up immediately after.

As soon as I was able to, I jumped up wobbled to the shower and got cleaned up as best I could. Then I was able to make it to G's bedside for her midnight feeding. The nurse there fed her as I watched- they were still a little weary of how well she was able to eat. But as soon as she was finished, I was able to hold her and have some skin to skin time. 

It was bittersweet- I had already sent Brian home for the night so he could get some quality sleep- but I wished he was there with me. We still didn't have time for us to be our little family yet. I don't think he even got to hold her yet at this point. Even though I was thrilled to be holding my little love, it made me sad that Brian wasn't there with me.


The next day (Sunday), they released me from the hospital, but told us that Giuliana wouldn't be able to go home until Wednesday at the earliest. Brian was visibly upset, but I look at it as optimistically as I could- it would give us time to get everything ready for her. To open our gifts from the shower and set up her nursery. To clean up the house and prepare Kevin a little bit more.

We went to visit her before we left and she was so sweet, and so small.
It wasn't until we were walking away that I cried for the first time. That was when it hit me that the little baby inside that hospital room was MY baby. OUR baby. And we were leaving her.

The rest of the day was spent with family- we went to my parents' house where we were also meeting up with Brian's family and Alexis, eat dinner, opened up G's gifts from the shower, and then we headed back to the hospital for her 9:00 feeding.

The next 3 days, we went to the hospital as often as we could- in between running errands and getting the house as ready as possible. Leaving Giuliana never got easier. Actually, each time felt more difficult and I think I cried more each time we had to leave. 

So hard to leave that sweet little face
Every time Brian and I have faced a challenge, we have been able to lean on each other. We balance each other emotionally and I am so thankful not only to have him in my life, but to have him as my best friend, my husband, and now the father to my child. He is an incredible man that is strong when I need him to be, but also not afraid to show emotions of his own. I love him so much.
My eyes are puffy from crying :(
It is quite possible that Wednesday, June 13th might have been even better than G's actual birthday. I was feeling incredibly better, we were feeling more settled at home, and best of all, Giuliana was released from the hospital!
The nurse took this picture before we left the NICU
Her gestational age was 36 weeks exactly, her eating habits had vastly improved, and our family could finally all be together.
Strapped in for her first car ride
Giuliana came home just in time for Brian's first Father's Day! We did a little photo shoot and spent time with our families where everyone got to hold her and spend real quality time with her for the first time.

She is the sweetest baby. Even her little cry is sweet and it makes me smile. All of her little noises- grunts, sighs, cries- she even has this little laugh- they all make me happy. Happy that she's here, happy that she's healthy, and happy that she's home and in our arms where she belongs. 

She loves to cuddle and be held. She has this crazy spiky black hair- I'm still not sure where that came from! And I swear, her cheeks are the perfect size to be kissed! No question about it- we're in love!

As for me, I realize now how silly I was being before and how much I complained about such insignificant matters. Like, my weight and being forced to eat a more well-balanced diet. I've already lost weight- I'm 4 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight, actually. I would go through it all over again (but hopefully the next time I'll have a bit of a healthier pregnancy- or at least a healthier end to my pregnancy). 

Time to wrap this up and go cuddle my little love.

June 19, 2012

Giuliana: Labor and Delivery

Friday, June 8th was one of the weirdest, most painful, and happiest days of my life.

I spent the week doing what I was instructed to do- which was nothing. Just peeing on sticks and poking myself with a needle. My sister-in-law Melissa flew in from Idaho on Wednesday evening for my baby shower on Saturday and she was staying with us. I felt bad because Brian still had to work, and I felt like I was pretty boring to hang out with on Thursday, but it was nice to have the company!

On Friday morning, I woke up on the early side to drive to the hospital to turn in a 24 hour urine sample because they were monitoring me for preeclampsia. (I won't go into details, but let's just say that 24 hours leaves you with a pretty hefty jug of pee to be lugging around.) I figured while I was there, I would also turn in our pre-admit form so it was one less thing we had to do come time for labor. 

I had just sent Melissa a text message before I got into my car to let her know I was on my way home, I wanted to take a quick shower, and then we could go head over to my mom's house to help her set up for the party the next day.

At 9:15, about half way into my drive, I felt a little pop, but assumed it was the baby kicking. Until I felt a little leaking. I was wondering if she kicked me so hard that I peed a little.  

Great, now my car is going to smell like pee.

Then I realized, that it was definitely a pop that I felt- was it my water that broke??

As soon as I got home and stood up outside of my car, more fluid came out, making it very apparent that it was definitely my water breaking.

I called my mom, she was on her way over. I called Brian to give him a head's up that he would probably have to be leaving work early. And then I called out to Melissa to warn her that our day was shaping up to be pretty different from what we were expecting.
My mom showed up at my house after what felt like hours. The three (4?) of us girls got into her car and headed off, back to my new home away from home, the hospital. 
Once we got there, they put me in a room and tested to make sure it was amniotic fluid- it was. That made me nervous. I had learned that once the water breaks, they want you to deliver within 24 hours to decrease the risk of infection. That meant the baby was coming. I was only at 35 weeks and 2 days- short of my 36 week goal and very short of my due date.
I wasn't feeling any contractions right away, and so I was feeling pretty good. I was joking around with my mom and Melissa. Brian was still at work answering some emails before he left for the day. Everything was going as smoothly as possible.
Then around 1:00 in the afternoon, things started to take a turn. I was 6 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. Brian still wasn't at the hospital yet. I was starting to feel contractions. And it was confirmed that I did in fact have preeclampsia. With that confirmation, I was hooked up to an IV with a Magnesium drip as well as an insulin drip since I was no longer allowed to eat or even get out of bed (I was deemed a "fall risk.")
Brian got there shortly after, and I was not feeling well at all. I had originally decided I wanted to do the whole birthing process naturally. That idea flew out the window once I started feeling some of those really strong contractions. I was miserable and I had no idea how long I would be feeling that way. The contractions were irregular. One lasted almost 10 straight minutes. So I gave in and got an epidural. 

As soon as they did the epidural, they also put in a catheter (which I didn't feel), and I was able to relax.
Smiling again

MIL and SIL keeping me company  
They were monitoring me very closely- taking my blood pressure every 20 minutes, my blood glucose level every hour. Before too long, I was at 8 centimeters, which was good- I was progressing on my own, so they wouldn't have to induce. 
Hour by hour passed. Brian's parents and Melissa had left to get dinner and brought back some food for Brian. He headed out to the waiting room and by the time the poor guy got back to me, they had me on oxygen because the baby's heart rate was low. His face dropped and he looked so worried until we all explained it too him.

Around 9:00, they moved me into a bigger room and the whole family followed.
Ready for baby
  At this point, my brother and his girlfriend were there too. It was also around this time that I started feeling contractions again. Miserable contractions.
Fake thumbs up. I was miserable.
The hospital staff assured me that the epidural was continuously flowing but I was in PAIN! At one point, it seemed like no one had been in my room in a long time and I felt like every time I was having a contraction, I had to hold the baby in. When I expressed this, my mom got into mom-mode and went out of the room to look for someone. Apparently, my mom and Brian were told that there were 3 back to back deliveries and that someone would be with me soon. 
Before too long, my sweet nurse Allison was back in the room with me, I was fully dilated and ready to go. So she kicked out everyone but Brian, the moms, and Melissa. And it was time to push.
This is where the whole experience seems surreal. Granted, I was a bit drugged up, but I remember the whole thing perfectly. Allison held my left leg back, Brian held my right and she instructed me on how to push three times while holding my breath with each contraction. 
So we started... without a doctor. I was so confused- who was going to catch the baby? Shouldn't there be more people in here? But I was in too much pain to say anything. After a couple of pushes, Allison announced it was time and went out to get the doctor... who came back with a team of TWELVE people. 
It was around that time I realized how serious everything was. This whole team was necessary because I was giving birth to a premature baby. A baby whose level of health and ability to survive so early outside the womb was really unknown. 

I pushed from about 11:00 pm until 11:31 pm when my sweet little Giuliana was born. I screamed the entire time. I got what I wanted- even with the epidural, I felt everything. (A lesson in being careful what you wish for.) At one point- as her head was coming out (which took at least 2 different contractions, maybe even three), I yelled out, "I can't do this!" Looking back, I feel ridiculous with all my screaming and moaning, but at the time, I was in the most pain I have ever felt in my life. I feel bad if there were any expectant mothers in labor that could hear me because I probably scared the crap out of them! 
But what an awesome reward I got out of it- Giuliana was born at 5 pounds, 13 ounces and 19 inches. Small, but not too bad for as early as she was. She was also very healthy- all 9's on her APGAR test and able to breath on her own (crying right away!)
 This was pretty much all I could see of her after she was born. But I could hear her crying, so that was reassuring.
Poor little thing

Brian got to cut the umbilical cord.

I finally got to hold her... for about 30 seconds...
And then she was off to the NICU.

At that point, I was exhausted and glad that the hard part was over. The doctor stitched me up (I had some tearing) and Allison brought me a turkey sandwich and fruit salad- my first food in about 14 hours. Then our families left and Brian and I were wheeled off to the NICU to really get to meet our baby for the first time.


We didn't get to hold her that night. She was hooked up to machines and they were monitoring her breathing and how well she could regulate her own body temperature. 
We got to look at her and oooo and ahhh for maybe 5 minutes before they brought us to the recovery room. 
It was almost 2 am, and I sent Brian home so he could sleep comfortably and be with Kevin. (My dad had gone over to our house earlier in the night to feed him and take him out, and our friends Mike and Kristen were with him for most of the night.) 
I was still a fall risk- I had to be on the magnesium for 24 hours after labor. And I had to take motrin every 6 hours. I was sore, but feeling good overall. Before I knew it, I was asleep for the night...

June 5, 2012

Bummer x 10

I'm not even know where to start with this post. I guess I'll start with the good news- I'm heading into my 35th week of pregnancy. The baby is still at a normal size, her heart beat is great, and she seems to be doing well! And thank goodness for that, because I cannot say the same for myself.

I mentioned last week that I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. At first this news seemed completely devastating, but that was a pretty selfish reaction and one that was felt mostly I really like to eat and pricking my finger 4 times a day did not sound appealing in the slightest.

After about 3 weeks of playing around with my diet and testing my blood sugar, I've settled down from the disappointment of that diagnosis and I'm looking at it as something that just needs to be done. There is still a lot about GD that confuses me (and frustrates me), but here's what I basically know...

Gestational Diabetes

Again, I'm a PE teacher, not a doctor, but the way it's been explained to me is that GD is a form of diabetes that exists only while you're pregnant, and it's because your hormones from the placenta are not allowing your body to produce enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar and turn it into energy. As long as the GD is controlled, it should not affect the baby. If left untreated, it can lead to high birth weights and the higher likelihood of a c-section and other possible complications during delivery. Untreated GD can also lead to problems for the baby after birth like jaundice, difficulty breathing, low blood sugar levels, and an increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.

When I was diagnosed, my numbers weren't incredibly off, so I have just been diet-controlled. This means I don't have to inject myself with insulin everyday (woo-hoo for that!). Playing around with a diet has been tricky. I love chocolate, I enjoy eating out at restaurants, and I strongly dislike measuring out my food... like figuring out ratios of protein to carbohydrates.

Simply put, what has been working for me is a diet high in protein (eggs have been my best friend), lower in carbs, and almost non-existent in sugar. I found that occasional sugar and carbs are okay, as long as I FUEL UP on protein along with it. My biggest problem has been trying to fit in a night time snack because my morning blood glucose numbers have been high. But I'll get back to that later...

So I've been attempting to keep my levels in check with diet and the way I know how well I'm doing is with the finger pricks. I have to do a fasting check along with a check for ketones first thing in the morning. I'm still not completely sure what the whole ketone thing is about, but I know my number is supposed to be non-existent/low. To test for the ketones, I have to pee on a stick first thing every morning. To test my fasting blood glucose levels, right after I pee, I wash my hands then prick my finger. I prick my finger three more times throughout the day- 1 hour after each meal.

One more thing- exercise are supposed to be helpful. Up until last week, I was still going to the gym every morning. Then I got sick- a really bad sore throat. I couldn't talk, I would wake up all night long, I couldn't drink. I tried to go to the gym once, and it kind of set me back a couple of days and made me feel worse. Here's something important to note- while I was at the gym, I weighed myself. I had lost 4 pounds. Up to this point, I had only gained 20. (I was at the doctor yesterday and it turns out I've lost 2 more, bringing my total pregnancy weight gain to 14 pounds... hmmm....)

Since the baby is measuring a healthy size, I'm going to go ahead and assume that the weight I'm losing is my body atrophying from my lack of exercise. I've been itching to get back to the gym. But again, more on that in a little bit...

Friday, June 1

I was so pumped up for Friday- it was the last day of work, and then I would be home free to continue to work on my projects for the baby! I went to the gym, finally feeling better from almost TWO WEEKS of that crazy sore throat. I sent my mom (and workout partner) a text telling her that my stomach wasn't feeling so hot, so I wasn't going to go to the spin class that we usually do. I was just going to to the elliptical instead. My stomach was just feeling heavy- like the baby dropped and was hunkered down pushing on my pelvis. Not really painful, just uncomfortable.

I was on the treadmill for about 4 minutes when I started feeling more uncomfortable. I decided to stay on for 15 minutes, then switch to walking on the treadmill where I felt like there would be less bouncing. I managed 15 minutes on the treadmill before calling it a morning and heading to my mom's to get ready for work.

At work, I was not feeling my greatest. I felt like I needed to sit down a lot. I couldn't keep up walking fast with my co-workers to get all of our last day papers signed off. I was just feeling crampy and gross. I was thinking that maybe it was Braxton-Hicks contractions. One of my co-workers said that maybe the baby did drop. All I knew for sure was that I was really uncomfortable.

Saturday, June 2

I woke up Saturday not really feeling any better. My mom told me that she was skipping our step class that day (she's been working hard on getting everything ready for my shower that's coming up this weekend) and I agreed, saying that I wasn't feeling up to it anyway. Brian and I had plans to go to Ikea to get a couch for the nursery (which is coming along, btw). He drove and I remember I had to keep stretching out because my stomach was bothering me so much. We had a successful trip and set up the couch that evening while we watched the Kings win another Stanley Cup game. :) Brian did all of the work while I read off directions. I remember leaning over the arm of the couch at one point, and I just felt so uncomfortable. Like, it was hard to breathe. I started googling Braxton-Hicks contractions and early labor. What I was feeling felt a lot like what was being described as early labor, which at 34 weeks, is not such a great thing. We went to bed early- Brian had to work the next day and I was planning on going to my parents' house to help my mom and hang out...

Sunday, June 3

Brian left for work pretty early, so I got up and jumped in the shower. With all of the previous night's googling still in my head, I figured I better start keeping my legs shaved every day and my hair looking nice- you never know when you might have to go to the hospital, right?

Call it mother's intuition or something. I got out of the shower and got dressed, straightened my hair, then went to the bathroom before heading off to my parents... and there was some blood when I wiped.

Immediately, tears came to my eyes.

It wasn't that much blood, but enough to the crap out of me. I put a panty liner on and then headed off to my parents'.

My stomach had still been cramping and it was getting worse on this particular morning. I had to keep stopping whatever I was doing and hunch over. I explained to my mom what I was experiencing. I went to use their bathroom to find that the panty liner that I had just put on about a half hour before was filling up with bright red blood.

I called my mom into the bathroom and showed her. She just looked at me and said, "We got to get you to the hospital."

I called the labor and delivery department just to make sure and they told me yes, to come in as soon as possible.

As soon as I got there, they hooked me up to a bunch of monitors. The first one was the doppler and I could hear the baby's heartbeat- to my immediate relief. They kept taking my blood pressure (which was high). They determined that the cramping I was feeling was actually contractions. Like, real ones, not Braxton-Hicks. They also figured out that I have a UTI which could have been brought on because I was dehydrated. (Which could have been because of my sore throat- it was really hard to drink that whole last week and a half.)

After about 3 hours of sitting there with my mom, they released me with the instructions to drink A LOT more water and make sure I have a low salt/sodium intake. I was in preterm labor (any labor before 36 weeks is considered preterm). Because my blood pressure was so high, they were worried about preeclampsia, so I have to make sure I'm watching for other symptoms. I had to get antibiotics for the UTI, so now I'm taking those with breakfast and dinner for 5 days. Oh, and the worst part- BED REST.

They wanted to write me out of work, but I proudly told them I was done for the summer. So they were like, perfect, and you can't do anything else either. I was like, "But it's okay for me to take the dog out, right?"

Nope. No walking the dog, no shopping, they didn't even want me up and cooking for myself. They literally want me sitting/laying down at all times unless I get up to go to the bathroom. That made me cry. It was like a reality check- this is serious.

My mom kept Brian updated about the whole situation. He was able to get home a little earlier than planned that afternoon and he was very good about helping me.

We headed to bed around 9:30 and the cramping contractions were getting worse. More intense, closer together. We learned in our Lamaze class that you go to the hospital when contractions get "stronger, longer, and closer together" or follow the 411 rule- 4 minutes apart, for 1 minute each, for an hour.

Brian started timing these contractions- they were only a minute apart and lasting for a minute. It was miserable. They were one right after another. I couldn't fall asleep, I couldn't get comfortable. And after we timed them for a little bit, we decided to call the hospital again to see what they thought.

Sure enough, they told us to come back. We got there around 10:30. We were there until after 2 am. I was hooked up to all of the same machines. The same doctor was working and she said she thought I might be back before the night was over. My BP was still high so they were monitoring that the entire time and making sure there weren't any signs of preeclampsia. They had me click a button every time I was feeling a contraction (which was often). They did a cervical examination and the doctor said again that I was definitely in preterm labor- my cervix was shortening. She said "hopefully we can get another week out of you."

They re-emphasized that I need to be on bed rest because we want the baby to stay inside of me for as long as possible. Scary stuff. Definitely not what I was expecting from this week.

Brian and I were talking about how unprepared we felt- I still wasn't done painting furniture yet. We didn't have the car seat yet- how would we even get her home?? We haven't done our big house cleaning yet or fully prepared the nursery anything for her arrival.

We went home that night a little scared, very overwhelmed, and extremely tired.

Monday, June 4

Brian took Monday off, partially from being tired (2:30 am bedtimes are not easy to recover from when you have a 5:30 am wake up call) but mostly because the baby could come at any moment, I was miserable, and he wasn't comfortable leaving me yet.

I was up off and on the entire night with contractions. When I woke up, (after my usual pee on a stick and take my blood routine) I went downstairs so I wouldn't bother the boys with my moaning. I did manage to fall back asleep- curling up on the couch has proven to be far more comfortable for me than sprawling out in bed right now. Brian woke me up in time to get ready for my regularly scheduled doctors appointment.

This particular appointment was with the sweetest midwife who was extremely easy to talk to. She already knew about my whole debacle from the day before. Again, my blood pressure was high, which worried her. She also wanted to do a Group B Strep test. When she did that, she told me she was pretty sure that I was losing my mucous plug and she wanted to do another cervical check.

She determined that I was about 80% effaced, 1 cm dilated, and at 0 station.
0 station is pretty much the last stop before the decent into the birth canal, and it's still just a bit too early for any of this business.

She said reiterated that I need to be on bed rest, think only happy thoughts, and that my goal is to make it to week 36. That would be next Wednesday, June 13th... still an entire month before her due date.

After each appointment now, I have to meet with a GD team that goes over my numbers and is there to support me. Because my fasting numbers have been high, they wanted me to go on a pill (the last step before insulin) to see if that could help my fasting numbers... one more pill to take.

Because my blood pressure was still high, I had to go back to labor and delivery for the third time in 24 hours. I was hooked up to the same machines and asked all of the same questions. Brian has been so patient throughout this whole thing. He made phone calls to the moms to let them know what was going on. I sat there patiently, reaching out to me every time I groaned in discomfort.

After drawing more blood (the results can back normal) and watching the baby for a bit, they determined that I was ready to go home.

It was around 4:00 that Brian and I were in the car. (My appointment was at 11:10)

I was still having contractions pretty much until the time we went to bed. Throughout the night, I woke up maybe 8 times with contractions.

Kevin has been taking very good care of me

Today has been better though. I have been mostly off of my feet- which has been a very difficult task for me. I hate being bored and I hate depending on others, so this isn't easy. Pain-wise though, I feel better today. I get a dull pain low in my abdomen, but with the baby that low, it makes sense. My back hurts occasionally too- which I've been warned can also be a contraction- but all in all today, I've maybe only felt light contractions about 4 or 5 times. This is like heaven compared to how I was feeling yesterday and Sunday.

So for now, I'm taking it day to day. Work ended at a perfect time because they wanted me to take off work now anyway- especially once they discovered I teach PE! I'm hoping to make it until at least next week for the baby's sake. If I can go even longer, obviously that would be ideal. I just want her to be as healthy as possible.

Sometimes I feel selfish because I want to be able to eat whatever I want again, and I want to be able to go shopping or work out or even RUN! These last couple of days or weeks will be a true test of my character and how selfless I can actually be. It's definitely been a learning growing experience for me. I'll be back with updates whenever I can!