Little Acorn

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

delivering pure joy

Words cannot describe the experience I went through to hold our little one over two weeks ago. My Nina. The absolute soul of me. I still cry thinking about how much we've already endured together, how we already have bonded beyond reason, how we stare at each other, trying to figure out the other one, how we snuggle cheek to cheek and chest to chest. So let's start at the beginning. It was definitely an unexpected and rocky beginning, but I think the greatest of stories often start out that way. Should I have been surprised? Of course not. Was I still shocked as Hell? Absolutely.

I went in for my routine 38-week OB appointment on Thursday, November 29. My blood pressure was sky-rocketing at 150/100, which was extremely odd considering I have been textbook normal the entire pregnancy. My doctor discussed the likelihood of preeclampsia and that she wanted to do additional blood work. If it came back abnormal, she was going to induce me that weekend since the baby was already full-term and there was no reason to wait around just so I could get sicker. She hooked me up to a baby heart monitor and all was well on the baby front after a worrisome 20 minutes of monitoring. I was sent away with strict bed rest and a request to come back the next day at 1:30PM. No work until then.

I, of course, was not prepared to leave work one bit. I kept thinking everyone I knew was at least a week late having their baby so I still had well over a week to prepare. I didn't even bring my laptop home with me I was that confident I'd be back. So I was completely unprepared for the fact that we could be having this baby much sooner than expected.

Ryan and I took it easy on Friday, going to lunch and wondering what our near futures would hold. Still, we were convinced we would have more time. Funny how you prepare and prepare for so long and want this child with all your might, but when it comes down to it, when the time is close, you're still not ready! Not even close! Well, the blood work results were not good. My blood pressure was a tiny bit better, but it was my platelets that were the real scare, down to 106 and anything below 100 is really bad. This was a major sign of preeclampsia and the breakdown of my placenta. So without further adieu, the doctor scheduled us to come in to the hospital that night at 6PM to start the cervical ripening process. And so the panic ensued.

We raced to get my laptop at work for me to finalize things like assigning projects and providing notes that no one else knew about. Such an annoying hassle to stress over at the last second, but it had to get done. Then we raced home to pack our hospital bags. I had organized everything for weeks, but of course I use much of the stuff we needed on a daily basis, so alas, we were still scrambling.

Leaving the house

We arrived at the hospital and finally started to breathe. We were there. We had made it! This was finally going to happen! The cervical ripening (so odd, right?) medicine was administered as soon as we arrived and I started to feel minor contractions throughout the night. But at 8AM on Saturday (December 1st), the real fun began. They started the pitocin to get the contractions rolling. They also gave me magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures from the preeclampsia. Its flu-like side effects and bed-shackling catheter added to the fun!

I have to give complete and utter respect to all the mothers in the world who deliver naturally. I had every intention of getting an epidural, but once the nurses told me my low platelets would likely prevent me from getting one, I had to face the very real possibility that I may have to do this naturally. And it wasn't pretty. They of course said that there may be a chance if the anesthesiologist could do this special platelet test that just so happens to only be available at the very hospital I was delivering in. But just in case, expect the worst. Those few hours waiting to see if they could do the test while my contractions were increasing in intensity were probably the most anxiety-ridden hours of my life. After each increasingly painful contraction, I could only imagine how much more gripping it could all get. So I have to give a shout out to all those who have to or choose to do it naturally--I commend you, you fearless ladies!

But THANK GOD, the test came out showing that the few platelets I had left were highly functional, so in went the fabulous epidural at 1:30PM and all was eerily quiet after that. No pain. No wincing. No crying. No nothing. I blissfully slept through the entire rest of my labor until 8PM when they told me to push. Thank you, Lord, for modern medicine.

Happy as a clam with my new bestie, Mr. Epidural!

Some Pre-Nina Love

 The delivery took much longer than it should have because my contractions were still so far apart, about 3 minutes a round. So I'd push for 30 seconds and then we'd chill out, twiddle our thumbs, chat with the nurse and doctor and wait until the next slow cycle to start again. It was more tiresome than anything. Not painful, just exhausting. I could barely keep my breath. But once the doctor said she saw the head and HAIR, Ryan and I were both renewed with energy. Wait, hair? Ryan and I were both bald so a full head of hair was definitely not expected. So out the window went all sense of modesty and preservation of Ryan's regard for my lady bits. We just had to see this.

Out came the mirror and it was all somehow still beautiful. Legs splayed, everything exposed to the world, nurse on one leg, Ryan on the other, me bearing down, me focusing on this precious head of hair inching forward with each push. It was so natural, so wondrous, so exciting. After almost an hour and a half of pushing, she passed my pubic bones and her head was out. One more push and the rest of her was free, arms flailing, beautiful eyes wide open. She was placed on my bare chest and I looked at her for the first time. I thought I would have cried, but instead there only was a feeling of pure joy. Pure awe in what I was seeing. Her. This precious being that wanted to live so badly she overcame all odds, survived our broken anatomy, and grew ferociously with bullheaded determination.

While the nurses checked her vitals, they sewed up my second degree tear and did some major overhauling to stop me from bleeding out due to the low platelets. I didn't even notice that the doctor's entire arm was inside me and a team of medical staff was whizzing by me in a mad rush to control the bleeding. All I saw was Nina, which was a great distraction.

Checking Vitals

Of course, nothing comes easy. Nothing is perfect. The medicines they gave me to coagulate my blood also made me sick as a dog afterwards, making me vomit and have diarrhea at the most inopportune times. The very thing that happened was my biggest fear in delivery. But at that point, who cares? I was so out of it and was in sheer bliss with the baby being okay, nothing else mattered. 

Our tiny little girl was born at 9:24PM on December 1st, 2012. She came out looking like sheer perfection. Not alien. Not warped. Just beautiful. I would have been happy with any kind of baby, but to have such a beautiful miracle baby such as Nina was beyond my wildest dreams.

Nina Lauren Greuter
6 pounds, 9 ounces
20 1/2 inches long
Born 12.01.2012 at 9:24PM

Mother and Child

Daddy's Girl

Sweet, Beautiful Perfection

They made us stay an extra day because she was losing weight, down to 6 pounds, 2 ounces by Tuesday. And the breastfeeding was not going as well as we would have liked. She was a chomper, working hard to suck out what little colostrum I was producing, which made for bruised  nipples and an increasing worry as to how long I could go on like that. But we had a few lactation consultants help us through the process and it's getting better. Acorn looks just like her dad--spitting image, actually. I think she may have my chin and lips, but that's about it. She's all Greuter!

Two Peas in a Pod!

I'm glad we stayed an extra day. We got to practice a little more, ask more questions, and get more help from the nursing staff. I can't believe it's taken me this long to write about this day, but who knew you can't multitask while breastfeeding? And that the sheer exhaustion would take every ounce of you to write a blog entry. I'll update with more at-home photos of what we've done over the past two weeks, but to sum up: it's been the sweetest kind of hard I've ever known. She's been an easy baby so far, only crying when hungry, having 4-5 hour feed/sleep cycles at night. Yes, I broke down every day the first week, mainly due to severe lack of sleep and me not being able to handle her crying yet, but it's getting better and better every day. And today, I think I'll take her on her first walk!

Finally Going Home
Here, she's making her bird-call noises! I'm so in love!

Thank you God for letting it all work out okay, for letting her come into this world safely and into my open, eager arms, for the love, joy, and gratitude I feel every day. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

a partner's thanksgiving

I was always worried that my husband never had an outlet to vent his frustrations or sadness during our struggle with infertility. I can count on one hand the times he fully opened up to me about his grief. They were extremely painful for him to experience and so I could see how he kept his feelings bottled up inside and tossed way in the back of a closet. But still, I always wished he would at least write it down like I did on my beloved outlet, The Cobbled Road, to draw the poison from the body onto paper or screen. Occasionally, I'd have him read my words and he would feel regret for never being able to fully express his feelings, but nothing ever came of it.

This Thanksgiving, he finally wrote something and actually shared it with our families after dinner. It was so therapeudic for him to get a few thoughts down on paper and it was so well written that I asked him if he minded sharing his beautiful words on The Shaded Acorn

From Ryan, November 22, 2012:
I do not have an outlet like a blog nor have I had any baby showers to say thank you to family and friends (thank God), but I would like to get a couple things off my chest about the last few years.

There is a cliche that it is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all. If I had to summarize all of the heartache and failure in a few words it would be to say that I was fearful that I would never get a chance to love a child with my wife. It has always been a given that I am the luckiest person on the planet to have found Kensley. I always knew I was fortunate to have the kind of relationship we have, but everything had been so easy for us that I really struggled to deal with our infertility. From my surgeries to her surgeries to my injections to her injections, and all of the failures in between, I know that the worst of everything is behind us. Looking back now, I would not trade that experience for anything because it has set me free to be fearless as I try to inspire Nina to be the type of person she wants to become (and it better fit with my expectations or we are going to have issues).

I have not felt thankful for much of anything over the last three Thanksgivings, but today I want to thank anyone in here who threw up a prayer for us as we went through this journey.  I am grateful for your support to gain God’s blessing so I can have my chance to love a child with my wife.  Amen.

I am so thankful for Ryan, for his tender heart, and love for this little girl we are about to bring into this world. I am proud to call him my partner in life. These last 15 years with him has been a crazy journey down a cobbled road, filled with beautiful scenery and unexpected roadblocks, stormy nights and and sun-kissed days. I will not say it has been a perfect journey, far from it actually. But perhaps its those imperfections, those unexpected roadblocks that are the "ties that bind, though they are barbed and spined, hold us close forever" (Joanna Newsom). And the love and respect we've found in the depths of Hell has strengthened us to a titanium bond that I can only hope will grow mightier with time.

Thanksgiving Day 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

feeling squirrely (38 weeks)

I haven't posted in a while because (a) I needed to seriously buckle down at work at concentrate on finishing my last big report, and (b) because I really haven't wanted to post my increasingly unflattering weekly shots of the Belly Expansion Project! These last couple of weeks have been a mixture of extreme excitement, exhaustion, bronchitis, lovely showers, Thanksgiving, swollen elephant cankles, and wake-me-up snoring.

We have also been nesting like a couple of squirrels, finding a nice, safe den and filling it to the brim with strips of cedar and moss. Little pack-rats we are, readying our nest for our wee little pup, neurotically hiding acorns down a tree, cleaning and storing, stocking up and organizing till we collapse from exhaustion. We have turned our little 2 bed/1 bath home into an efficient, baby-housing machine! All we need is a baby. All we crave is that pink-sweet skin! Dear God, help me be patient!

Squirrel-like Nesting Behavior

We even have the car seat installed and ready to go. All this prep work, all this time and energy spent on getting everything ready, and now we're...done! Now we wait. And I like that we didn't (or couldn't) wait until the last minute. It will make these last few weeks as relaxing as possible, make them more memorable as the last of being just the two of us, the last of what we've been for the past 15 years. It certainly made Thanksgiving weekend calm and lovely, involving only the finest of fall pleasures: amazing turkey dinner and tons of yummy PIE, family love and excitement for the baby, and putting up my beloved Christmas tree! Throw in a baby care class, some thank you notes, a massage, pedicure, and catching an amazing flick, Life of Pi, which was one of my all-time favorite books, and it was a fabulous, productive weekend!

On a side note, I thought I'd jot down some recent symptoms so I can remember the good times and the awkward: My jowls came in like they're molars or something. They just "came in" one day! What. And my left foot is extremely swollen and bloated, where the edema doesn't even leave in the mornings now and it looks like I painfully squeeze my water-fattened foot into my flats to only have the impression remain when I finally pop the shoe off. This beast drags behind me like its a wooden prosthetic that doesn't quite keep up with the rest of my body. Kinda funny!

No one tells you to anticipate a wooden leg. Or 60-year-old-man snores! Or the odd, needle-like sensation beneath my chest. Either I am the exception to the rule, or everyone else forgets? Or they don't think it's important to mention? Or they're too embarrassed to warn? Or the baby books want you to obsess over the inconsequential instead, like soft cheeses? I mean, the ladies in my prenatal yoga look at me like I'm nucking futs for saying things like edema or, God-forbid, snoring! I guess I should just say I'm tired like the rest of them. Lame.

Let me reiterate that I'm not complaining. On the contrary, I think it's quite hysterical actually. These ailments keep you creative, constantly in a problem-solving mode, in anticipation of new solutions, and in continuous adaptation of our former lifestyles. This stuff keeps me on my toes and I wouldn't trade it in a million years because my waddling jowls, my janky wooden foot, my man snores, and my pin-pricked chest are lovely signs of our impending joy. They are harbingers of amazingness. Doves of happiness. So bring it, bitches!
Week 35
After a few good nights sleep on the wedge pillow. Ah, the wedge...

Week 36
Jowls and elephant trunk cankles setting in.

 Week 37
Excuse the Rudolph-ness. I had just ripped off my breathe-right strip after passing out from sheer exhaustion only to be woken up by my incessant bladder...

Week 38
Ah, the night before the home-stretch insomnia began. My snores are so loud now not even the sleep wedge can nullify them, nor the sound machine can drown them out. I guess it's practice for those long sleepless nights in my near future!

Friday, November 23, 2012

acorn's houston shower (37 weeks)

I have been meaning to post these photos of the lovely Houston shower, but I was having technical difficulties getting the photos  to upload and frankly, time got away from me. But it was a fabulous shower at a Russian Tea House, hosted by my mother-in-law, Linda Greuter, and a good friend, Carrie Stavinoha. Thank you so much for the fabulous lunch, unbelievable cake, and fun goodies for baby acorn! I loved it all!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

acorn's san antonio shower (35 weeks)

We had the San Antonio family shower this weekend and it was lovely! Good family, good family friends, good childhood friends, good food, and goodies to take home for acorn. Thank you so much, Jeanann, Hannah, Emilie, and especially Karen for hosting such a lovely and memorable shower in her beautiful home!


Sarah, Kate, Oma, and Marcia 
(and yes, that's a real Blue Dog painting in the background!)
Lovely food spread

Amanda (SIL), Linda (MIL), and me
Loved the flowers!


 Lovely Ladies
Amanda (SIL), Linda (MIL), a second Linda, and Oma (SIL)

MIL gets a corsage
 Childhood friends, Leah, Carolyn, and Megan

Cousin Jeanann and Brenda

Cousin Pam and my cutie second cousins, Brittney and Ashley
Crazy-amounts-of-super-cute-clothing time!

Thank you to all who attended! It was so nice to celebrate with such lovely women from my life!

Monday, November 5, 2012

the weighted milestone (35 weeks)

I can't believe it. Today is such an amazing milestone: we are at 35 weeks with only 35 days to go!


I can tell acorn is getting cramped and not moving nearly as spastically as she was, not nearly as many roundhouse kicks and cross-jab combos are being practiced on me lately. I crave to feel those movements like an addiction, like a drug. I need it. I wait for it. I anticipate it every second of the day. So when I feel a roll here, a stretch there, a wiggle of toe or wrinkle of nose, I try to remember this transient feeling, try to hold onto it, like a talisman in my pocket, knowing I will one day want to pull it out when I miss it most.

Such blessed joy to feel her heat within, to savor these last few weeks of silent, exquisite anticipation and hope, these lovely cryless nights and rested excitement and stressless preparation. I went to a breastfeeding class last week and thought, "Man, I got this. So it's the areola, not the nipple! No prob!" But I'm sure in the depths of exhaustion, when it's not working, when I'm Toni-Braxton-style sobbing in the shower over spilt milk and cracked nips and crying babes, I'll think differently. For now, though, there is this lulling calm that surrounds me, that keeps me warm in a bubble of grace.

I say that and then I realize that I sometimes find myself consumed with the uncomfortable, my back aching, my snores frustrating, my breathlessness overtaking. But I try to drag myself back into the light and let her presence shine on my aching limbs, let her little soul warm my marrow and illuminate the darkened edges of this fleeting pain. 

I curiously think about labor as a horribly exciting thing, just one last painful obstacle among hundreds, among thousands, that we've had to overcome on our path to holding her. Labor is the ultimate road block, that last downed thorny limb, that final jagged boulder, the gaping chasmic finale. To leap, to climb, to crawl, to fall, to give the good fight just one more time is endurable, no matter how long or painful. 

Because she will be there on the other side. She will be on the path across the way, glowing pink from the sun-kissed morning, squinting at the jeweled trees, sniffing the wildflower-scented air,  pondering all that is new under a mackerel sky.