Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jackson's birth story - Part 2

You can read Part 1 here. Where we left off? It was 9:20 a.m. and time to start pushing...

I started on my back and pushed through every contraction for about 30 minutes. I still wasn’t making much progress, so we moved to my right side with the peanut ball between my legs. When a contraction came on, they’d take the ball away and make me push. The epidural was completely useless by this point and I found this position uncomfortable and painful. After about 25 minutes, we moved to my left side and did the same thing. Again, it didn’t seem to be doing much, except for making me more and more miserable. Obviously, the contractions were getting more intense as we went on and I was getting completely exhausted. I was sweating profusely. The nurse changed my gown because I had completely drenched the one I was wearing. I was so sweaty even the tape holding my IV and epidural in wouldn’t stay on. They had an anesthesiologist (my third one now) come in and give me another kind of pain medicine through my IV, but like everything before it, it wasn't doing anything for me. 

They sat me up again, this time with the back of the bed almost all of the way up and my legs below me – almost like sitting in a chair. I sat like that for what felt like forever. I was in so much pain I had completely checked out. It was beyond my control, I just couldn’t seem to focus on anything. I could hardly open my eyes, and when I did I could only stare in a haze at the wall ahead of me. I couldn’t see anyone’s faces, and could hear their voices but not muster the strength to respond. I remembering being afraid they were going to tell me I wasn’t progressing enough and they were going to have to do a C-section, but my nurse kept telling me to push and we’d see how things were looking “in a little while.” She knew I was in a lot of pain so she went to talk to the doctor about some sort of relief. She came back and said that the doctor agreed to doing a spinal block. She checked me while we waited for yet another anesthesiologist and discovered that the baby was crowning.We didn’t have time for more medicine. 

Everything that followed was even more of a blur. Everything moved so quickly. The lights all came on. More people filled the room. They started taking the bed apart and putting it into position to deliver. Meanwhile, I sat there groaning in pain and pushing—almost involuntarily—through every brutal contraction. Finally, the doctor and her resident arrived and the real pushing started. I could feel him crowning. I remember screaming and saying I couldn’t do it, but Sean, the nurses and doctors kept pushing me on. 

“Kristin, he’s coming. I can see him. He’s right there. You’re almost there!” I could hear Sean saying. Hearing his encouragement and sensing the excitement in his voice gave me the final strength I needed. I gave 2 more hard pushes, screaming through them, and suddenly felt a whoosh of relief. I looked down and saw the doctor holding our baby.

“11:50 a.m.!” our nurse Liz announced. 

I was so exhausted and still in a bit of shock. They put Jackson on my chest and I started crying. I looked up at Sean and he was crying, too. I just kept saying, “he’s here, Sean. Oh my God, he’s here.” Sean was taking pictures and videos and we were soaking in this little boy who in an instant became ours.

The doctors finished stitching me up and eventually they took Jackson to weigh him and get his measurements. He was 8 pounds and 11 ounces and was 21 inches long. They quickly returned him to me and a nurse helped me as I tried to breastfeed him for the first time. Sean and I just sat and stared at him. We couldn’t believe he was finally here. Around 1:00 Sean went to the waiting room to find our families. He returned with my mom, sister and his mom who came in and met our little man!

We all hung out in the labor and delivery room for a while, and around 2:00 the nurses came back to prepare us to move to our recovery room. They had our family take our things down to our new room. They put me in a wheelchair with Jackson in my arms and wheeled me down the hall. We were soon in our new room, ready to get some rest (hah!) and start our lives as a family of three! 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Jackson's birth story - Part 1

Four months ago today our little nugget was born. And almost exactly 1 year ago (Sunday) we found out we were expecting him. So no better time to start sharing his birth story then now!

I hope not to drag this out too long, but I'm long-winded and had a lot to remember, so it's naturally just a bit long. Hopefully I can keep it to just two parts!

A coworker of mine had gone into labor just a few days before me when her water broke after getting a pedicure. I actually already had a pedicure appointment scheduled for Thursday with some coworkers, so everyone joked that maybe it would work for me, too.

I had my 38 week appointment on Tuesday (Nov. 18) and wasn't feeling hopeful. I had been dilated to a 2 the week before and was hoping for more progress. I was incredibly uncomfortable and having Braxton Hicks contractions every day. Baby had nestled himself in my pelvis and walking even the shortest of distances was just plain painful. I felt huge, everything was swollen, and I was anxious to meet our little man. Unfortunately the doctor said I was still just barely dilated to a 2, and effaced around 50%. It didn’t seem like it would be happening any time soon. After feeling sorry for myself for most of the afternoon, I decided there was nothing I could do to change it and that sooner or later, he would be ready.

On Wednesday, Nov. 19 I got up and went to work. Most of my team was traveling that week, so it was a quiet day, but a long one—as most understandably are at the end of your third trimester. I had book club that night, so my friend Katie picked me up and we rode together. It was a small crowd—just four of us—so we chatted and enjoyed snacks for a couple hours before calling it a night. Katie dropped me off around 8:00. I watched a little TV until Sean got home from work around 9:30, then we both headed to bed.

While lying in bed watching TV, the dog was acting strange. He always wants to snuggle, but this time he insisted on lying between my knees underneath the covers. He was shaking a little, but wouldn’t move. I got up and took him to go outside, and when we got back in bed he went right back to the same spot between my legs. Around 10:40 Sean finally turned off the TV and we started to wind down. Sean was talking about how he was exhausted and needed a good night’s sleep. I thought I felt a little “trickle” but didn’t think much of it at first. After a few minutes, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom just to be sure – plus I figured I could knock out one of my bathroom breaks while I was still awake anyway.

I went to the bathroom and felt a little gush of fluid and stood up to see a little bit of blood. It quickly became clear there was something going on. I started to panic a little. I walked back into the bedroom and flipped on the light. I told Sean I think it may have in fact been my water breaking. He sat up and we looked at each other like, “what do we do now?”

I pulled out a towel to sit on while we made a few phone calls. I started shaking so bad that I couldn’t even hold on to my phone. It was scaring me. I couldn’t figure out if it was just nerves or if there was something more going on. The shaking got so bad that Sean wanted to call medics just to check me out, but I told him to give me a few minutes to try and calm myself down and see if that would work. It’s not unusual for me to have physical reactions to emotional stressors so I assumed it was all related. I was able to take some deep breaths and calm down enough to call the Birth Center to explain what was going on. They said we should come in, but since I wasn’t contracting it was OK for us to take our time. We were so wired though that we instantly grabbed our things and headed out the door.

We arrived at the hospital by 11:15. They checked us in and brought us to labor and delivery, where our nurse, Sarah, got us set up and explained what we could expect. They checked me to confirm that my water had broken and it had, which meant we’d definitely be staying and be having this baby within 24 hours. (And I wasn't going to need that pedicure on Thursday after all.) I was dilated to a 4—two more than I had been at the doctor just the day before! We called our moms to give them an update, but knowing it would be a while before anything really happened, we told them to stay home and we’d keep them updated.

I had tested positive for Group Strep B, so I needed to get a dose of antibiotics before delivery. They were monitoring my contractions but they were mild and very sporadic (20-25 minutes apart), so they decided to give me the IV meds and then reevaluate things after that. By 3:30 I had finished my dose of antibiotics and my contractions were still irregular, so they started me on Pitocin to get things moving. By 3:50 my contractions were 10-15 minutes apart (between the big ones), but they quickly picked up. At 4:15, they checked me again and I was dilated to a 5 and the contractions were getting stronger and coming more often—about 3 minutes apart.

I tried a half dose of Fetanyl to ease the pain before I was ready for an epidural. It didn’t help with the pain, but definitely made me feel great in between contractions. I knew I’d be ready for the epidural soon, so I told them to go ahead and get it ready and give me the fluids I needed ahead of time. Around 6:00 a.m. the anesthesiologist came to give me the epidural. I was contracting pretty strong and frequently, so while I had thought the worst part of the epidural would be the giant needle in my back, I was wrong. It was much worse just trying to sit up, sit still, and breathe through the contractions while they were doing it.

They had me lie down on my right side while we waited for the epidural to start working. After 15 minutes, I was still feeling contractions pretty strongly, especially on my left side, so that had me roll over to see if the medicine would pool on that side of my body and start working. About 30 minutes later, I was still in a lot of pain and it no longer seemed to be limited to my left side. I could feel it everywhere. They did the ice test (where they place a bag of ice at various points of your legs and pelvis to test your numbness) and determined the epidural wasn’t working.  They decided to have the anesthesiologist replace it with a new one. Around 7:30 or 8:00 they came and put a new one in. Once again, it felt impossible to sit there calmly while they put it in. When a contraction would come on, I virtually shut down. I would just sit there gripping the side of the bed and grinding my teeth, completely unable to pay attention to whatever they were asking me to do.

Thankfully, the new epidural seemed to start working and the contractions became bearable. For about an hour, we were able to relax. Soon though, they started getting worse. I could feel a lot more pain. The nurse wasn’t sure whether it was simply because I was progressing and feeling more pressure, or if I was in fact feeling pain. I assured her it had to have been more than just pressure. I was miserable. Before deciding how to address it, she wanted to check me and see where we were at. It was 9:20 a.m., I was fully dilated, and it was time to start pushing.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Returning to the blog

I've been inexecusably absent for such a long time. I've been keeping up on others' blogs, and in doing so have realized how much I miss this place. I miss putting my thoughts down on paper (so to speak). I miss capturing the moments--both monumental and mundane--in our lives that I don't want to forget. And my goodness, there is quite a lot to remember from these last six months.

Let's start with the most obvious. Last time I posted, I was anxiously expecting a little one. And I really do mean anxiously. Pregnancy for me was both wonderful and terrifying. I'm a worry wart by nature, and after two ectopic miscarriages, my fears were amplified with my third pregnancy. Thankfully, everything went as smooth as possible. I tried so hard not to complain during my pregnancy because I was feeling so grateful for the opportunity I was never sure I would have. But let's face it, it does quite a number on your body. I had back/hip problems that made things quite a bit uncomfortable, but it's funny how quickly you forget all of that and think, "I could do that again!" (Someday. Someday.)

Anyway, all of that is to say after 38 weeks and 6 days of being pregnant, our little man made his grand entrance into our family. Jackson Steven was born Thursday, November 20 at 11:50 a.m. I have already written out his birth story so that I could remember it while it was still fresh, so I'll share that here soon.

It feels like a lifetime ago already. He's about to be 4 months old and just the very best thing to ever happen to us. There are certainly days of utter exhaustion and frustration, but all in all, I'm feeling so blessed to have the chance to be his mom.

I'll be back - there's lots to catch up on - Jackson's first 4 months, the loss of my beautiful grandma, maternity leave happenings, and all sorts of random things keeping us busy these days.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Where have I been?

Things went dark around here far too long ago. As many of you may already know, we're expecting a baby this fall. Earlier this year, it was equally hard to keep it a secret and avoid word vomitting about all of the crippling anxiety and fears of being pregnant again after two losses. So it became easier to just say nothing at all. To hold my breath and take it one day at a time, head down and hopes in check.

I'd be lying if I said all of those anxieties have gone away, so I'm not sure I'll ever get to the place where I blog regularly about being pregnant. But it's completley consumed our lives - been the best and most terrifying thing to ever happen to us - so it's not like I'll ignore it all together, either. The bottom line is this: we are feeling so grateful that God has granted us another opportunity to be parents, and we couldn't be more excited to welcome our little baby boy later this year. I will never get tired of feeling him dance around my tummy. I'll also probably never stop worrying about every little thing my body does - wondering if it's normal, if it's anything to be concerned about. I realize the anxieties of carrying a child are only a precursor to what it's like to have a child in this world, their life in your hands. So I suppose this is only just the beginning - the paradoxes of fear and pure joy that make up parenthood. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

So what else have we done these last 5 months, in addition to the minor detail of gestating a child?
  • Celebrated 2 years of marriage
  • Took a vacation with Sean's family to a cabin in Wisconsin (and hit a deer on our drive up there)
  • Had the 5th annual golf tournament in memory of Sean's dad
  • Found we are having a BOY
  • Finished our 10th consecutive season of co-ed softball (I was starting scorekeeper this year)
  • Celebrated my mom's 50th birthday
  • Had a 3D ultrasound of our little man
  • Went to the MN State Fair (and saw 30 Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park in concert)
  • Started the third trimester
  • Had one last night on the town for my friend Gina before her wedding
  • Celebrated Oliver's 8th birthday 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

31 Things I was Thankful for in March

  1. Vacation!
  2. The start of a spring thaw.
  3. Half Priced Books.
  4. A book club that doesn’t look down on you if you didn’t read the book. We’re more of a social and food club, anyway.
  5. The sump pump we had installed in our house last year.
  6. A family that rallies together when tragedy or hardship happens.
  7. Three lunch dates in one week with great coworkers.
  8. The generosity of people who donated to my cousin and his girlfriend’s family after she died unexpectedly.
  9. A renewed focus on prayer. 
  10. A super friendly dog trainer who had great advice on some problem areas we’re having with Oliver.
  11. An extra day off at the end of vacation before heading back to work.
  12. Free bagel Fridays at work.
  13. Redbox movies.
  14. Getting the process started on our new kitchen floor.
  15. Naps.
  16. Friends who make you laugh until your stomach hurts.
  17. Aveda Shampure candles.
  18. A neighbor who calls just to tell you he saw lawn mowers on sale at Menards (since yours broke last year).
  19. Great customer service.
  20. Brunch with family and friends who feel like family.
  21. Sweet baby snuggles with my friend’s newborn.
  22. New recipes.
  23. Patience.
  24. An afternoon roaming the aisles of a quiet bookstore.
  25. Lazy Sundays.
  26. Will power when trying to give up sweets for Lent.
  27. Moroccan Oil frizz control spray. I’d use it even if I didn’t think it helped just because it smells so good.
  28. When Sean’s schedule aligns with mine and we actually have a weekend off together.   
  29. Humidifiers.
  30. A few (though more would have been nice) days that actually felt like spring.
  31. Making fun spring and summer plans with friends.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Paddy's Day may never be the same

Today is St. Patrick's Day, a typically celebratory event in my family. We almost always marched the parade or at least attended, and then shared homemade Shamrock Shakes at my aunt's house.

This year was going to be different, only we had no idea how different it would be. There was a lot going on and many people had to work, so we scrapped plans to celebrate together this year. It was going to be the first time in my life (to the best of my memory) that I was at work (or school, in my earlier years) instead of celebrating St. Patrick's Day. I was bummed, but I dressed in green and went off to work anyway.

Only, the day took a different turn. While in meetings this morning, I missed a call from one of my cousins. I presumed she had called to see if I was heading to the parade or celebrating somewhere today, so I didn't think much of it. But when I returned to my desk a couple hours later, I also had a message from my mom saying simply, "Call me at home when you get this." My mom and I often talking during the day, so I shouldn't have been concerned. But I was.

When I called her back, she told me in tears that my cousin's girlfriend (pretty much his wife, in our eyes), had an accident and died. My cousin and I are the same age and have been close since we were babies. He and his girlfriend have been together for more than 10 years and have two young boys together. It seemed impossible. I was heartbroken, and instantly in a fog.

Just like is tradition in our family, we all congregated together. We gathered food and went to be with my cousin, his siblings and dad, his girlfriend's family, and their friends. We spent the afternoon huddled together, trying to process a fresh and unimaginable loss.

St. Paddy's Day will never be the same in my family after this. We will always remember it as the day we loss Melissa. Rest in peace!
With her youngest, a few years ago at our annual Shamrock Shakes party.
Please keep this precious boy (and his brother, in the photo above) in you prayers.
They are going to miss their mommy so much!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Learning Love Languages

Understandably so, Sean and I sometimes speak very different love languages. It’s not terribly uncommon. Men and women are clearly wired very differently.

After being together for 9 years, you’d think I’d know and appreciate all the ways he shows his love by now. Truth? Not even close. But I think I’m getting better.

Sometimes it’s simply lost in translation. Other times, I’m too wrapped up in the emotional, irrational state of mind that is so often my life that I forget that when he doesn’t love me the way I expect him to, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. And I’m sure for him, my love language can sometimes be equally mystifying or even frustrating.

Lately I’ve been paying a little more attention to a few examples of the different ways we show our love, not just for each other, but for others, too.


…throws away the “baby” mail we get before I get home.

…texts me no less than 5 times a day, usually just to say hi or see what I’m doing (when one or both of us is at work).

…calls his mom right away as soon as he as any kind of news or hot gossip to share.

…takes care of all the outdoor chores without ever complaining.

…gets excited to see the dog after being away from him for a while.

…texts his brothers with sports questions and facts.

…never fails to give me a goodnight kiss and say, “I love you.”

…speaks proudly about his family. 

…calls his friends regularly just to catch up and say hi.

…takes care of me when I’m sick or hurt or feeling sad.

{blurry; but I'm sticking with it anyway}

…grocery shop, meal plan, and cook (most of the time) so that we are always set for dinners and leftovers for lunch.

…am a snuggler.

…talk to my mom every single day.

…am always on the lookout for fun surprise gifts or treats that might brighten someone’s day.

…make sure all of our finances, health records, and other “administrative” stuff are always in order.

…let Sean have the window seat on every flight we ever take together.

…schedule regular dinners or outings with friends to keep us all connected.

…worry. (Not always the best thing; but I’m always thinking about people.)

…pray for Sean, our families, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances.

…say “I love you,” a lot.

What are your love languages?