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.