Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Labor-The Good, The Bad and The Ughhly

If you happen to be pregnant and don't want to hear labor experiences that weren't the best, then you might want to stop reading.  If you want to be informed on all types of situations and have a little insight into what could happen, then please continue.

I wouldn't say that my labor was horrible, just not what I had hoped for and could have probably gone a little bit better.  I was aware that you cannot plan for your labor and have to be ready for anything to happen so that baby comes out happy and healthy, but looking back on my experience, I have some disappointment.  Some in part to how my situation was handled and some blame falls on myself for not speaking up.  I have to cut myself some slack, being it was my first pregnancy and, as you'll read, I wasn't on top of my game with quick thinking, but I definitely could have been more assertive with some things along the way.

It was Thursday, February 18th when I decided I had to call my doctor.  I was at work and had non-stop dampness in the you-know-where area.  I had almost called the Friday before, when I stood up after a meeting and thought my water broke-but I had also gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy and I embarrassingly have to admit I was a sweaty mess.  I chalked it up to being overweight and ready to pop, but this day I just felt like it might be something else.  I should probably call-I was 4 days overdue so they had to understand I would be getting anxious for things to start moving.  My doctor had me come in on my lunch to do a quick test to see if my water had in fact broke.  I left work-fully planning on coming back-and headed over to see what was up.  I still had my bag of water but was definitely dealing with some liquid.  The ph paper didn't indicate my water broke either, but she decided to throw it under the microscope for good measure-yup, I was ferning (which ment there was amniotic fluid).  I must have had a high leak and since I told her that I had kind of been dealing with this for almost a week-she decided to send me to the hospital to be induced.  When your water breaks or you have a leak, you and the baby can be at higher risk for infection so they like to deliver within 48 hours (I believe).  I potentially had been leaking for 6 days-so off to the hospital I went.

I had hoped for a natural birth.  I understood that things can happen and actually wasn't completely opposed to an epidural, but I wanted to try to do it without the medicine.  I had spoken to my doctor about my thoughts-I was all or nothing.  I either would do it natural or I would get an epidural.  I didn't want the in-between stuff, the analagesics, that could potentially pass over the placenta.  This might sound silly, since the epidural is a medicine, but this was my game plan and I had a right to it and my doctor seemed on board.

Since I was not in labor I had to be induced.   They got me going and my doctor came in and broke my bag of water-no big deal-I don't remember it being anymore uncomfortable than a pap smear.  My first big disappointment came when I asked to have something to eat.  I had gone to the doctor on my lunch, so I hadn't eaten since that morning.  I was starved, it was late in the afternoon and mama needed some food-nope.  They would not allow me anything more than Jell-o and popcicles, I think it's to try to keep you from vomiting while in labor.  I don't know, I just wish I had known to grab a sandwhich at home before I came in.  I was about to be in some serious labor and could have used the extra strength.  Maybe I'm wrong, but you better believe I'm eating before I go to the hospital, if I do this again...at least something small to help tie me over.

They say induced labor can be the hardest, in my case it was rough.  I was going strong without an epidural, using all the methods I had learned in my birth class-rocking chair, walking, bouncing on a ball.  As my labor progressed by contractions began to cluster.  Basically I was having huge contractions with no valley-no breaks.  They would peak and then start to come down and then peak again.  It sucked, I consider myself to have a high threshold for pain and these were kicking my ass.  Unfortunately my doctor left for vacation that night at 10 pm.  I had met her fill-in doctor and was told she would be checking in.  She told me good luck and that whenever I wanted an epidural just let them know.  After about 13 hours of labor-I wanted one.  I wasn't able to breathe through the contractions anymore, I was gritting my teeth and fighting through them-NO GOOD-I feel that I had stopped the progress by doing this, I was only dialated to about 2.  I asked for my epidural, I gave it a good go, but at this rate I didn't know where I would muster up the strength to actually push-and who knew how long it would take me to get to 10 at this rate. The fill-in doctor refused me, she would only allow me to have the drug Nubain until I was at 3 or 4.  I was devastated.  I tried to explain to the nurse my request to do it all or nothing and that my doctor said I could have an epidural  whenever I was ready...I was ready. The nurse tried again but the doctor refused.  So I refused and tried to tough it out again-I only lasted another hour or two when I finally caved.  It was close to 3am, I was exhausted. The Nubain did allow me to finally rest-it took the edge off the contractions and I actually slept a bit, I was to 4 within about 2 hours.  So it did what they wanted it to do, but it still was against my wishes, which was really upsetting for me.

I think throughout my labor I made a really big mistake, this being the first main instance...I was very concerned with being a "good" patient.  I didn't want to be the stereotypical girl in labor-yelling at everyone, I wanted to get along with everyone. I'm not saying that you should be a bitch, and I wouldn't be next time, but you better believe I will be a lot more assertive with situations.  I knew my body, I knew I was the reason I wasn't dialating-I was muscling through those contractions-I knew if I got that epidural I would dialate fast...I was right. 

Once I got to 3 or 4 with the Nubain they prepped me for my epidural-the guy was awesome. Nobody can be with you when you get an epidural, except your nurse-I wish Don could have held my hand, but the nurse and epidural guy were great at keeping me relaxed and preparing me for pokes and pricks I might feel-the epidural was not bad at all.  Half the reason I wanted to go naturally was because the epidural scared me-I had made it into something it wasn't.  It wasn't bad to get-at all-and once it kicked in...Ahhhhhh.  I now understood why they were so popular. I was fully dialated to 10 within an hour or two.

Once I hit 10 the nurse was like-alright time to start pushing.  I think this is where I made my second mistake, I needed to labor down.  I couldn't feel anything when I was pushing.  There is no way that I was being productive and it showed.  I pushed for almost 3 1/2 hours when the fill-in doctor came in.  She told me she was going to do a c-section and if I wasn't crowning when she got back, I was next.  This horrified me.  Of everything I had hoped for-a vaginal delivery was at the top of my list.  I did not want to have a c-section.  I swear I was hanging by the rafters trying to get our little Pipster out...to no avail.  About an hour later they began to prep me for my "c".  I remember at this point the urge to push came on big and bad.  It's like I had to grunt and push with all of my might.  I may be wrong, but I feel like if I had been able to get to this point before I started pushing, I may have been able to go vaginally.  I will say that Piper had gone sunny-side on me (face facing towards by belly) and my night nurse suspected this, but noone checked and there was no discussion about possibly trying to get her to turn-another disappointment.

The c-section went well-I didn't like it-it is a bizarre situation, but at that point I just wanted to meet her and know she was ok.  My anesthesiologist for the procedure was amazing also!  Piper was born at 1:23pm on February 19th after exactly 24 hours of labor. 

I remember everything and I definitely remember the pain-but I will say that the benefit, our little Piper, outweighed those 24 hours and I have gotten to a place where I could do it again, just this time I have a little more insight into things. 

So if you are pregnant and worrying about the labor-don't.  You'll get through it, it will be fine and all that matters is that you and baby are healthy.  But if you walk away with anything from this post just know to speak up for yourself.  I trust doctors in situations that they are there for, but in labor, a lot of it has to do with your body-and only you really know what's going on there.  So let them know how your feeling, or not feeling and ask lots of questions as to why it's going the way it is-that's your right as a patient and a mother.  Don't worry about pleasing anybody during this time, let everybody worry about you-labor can be tough and you deserve to let yourself be taken care of! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Please Don't Text and Drive-My plea to you!

It was October 30th of 2009, it was a Friday.  I was at work, plugging along and almost 6 months pregnant when my phone rang and it looked like it was my mom calling from work...it wasn't.  "Nici, this is Beth, your mom's co-worker.  There has been an accident with Ashley, oh god Nici, Ashley is dead.  Your Mom just screamed and ran into the break room, people are with her.  I don't know what happened, I'm so sorry."  WHAT?  This wasn't happening.  Ashley was my niece, she was going to be 21 in 21 days-the countdown had begun.  We were going to celebrate.  There had to be a misunderstanding, Ashley was fine. 

 I remeber starting to ask questions and starting to cry-this wasn't right, this wasn't right, this wasn't right. My mom can be very emotional, they weren't getting the whole story.  Some co-workers started to come to my desk to see if I was all right. Beth was concerned about my Mom, she couldn't drive and they didn't want her to be alone.  I told them I would call my dad to come and get her and hung up.  Thankfully my parents were very amicable, even though they had been divorced since I was in 7th grade.  Then my phone rang again-it was my Mom.  She was sobbing-"Ashley is dead Nici, Ashley is dead, there's been a car accident and she was killed."  I told her I was calling dad to come and get her, I was leaving work and I would be to Toledo within the next 3 hours.  I hung up the phone and it started to sink in.  I lost my brother 3 years ago and now I've lost Ash...and she wasn't alone in that car-she was almost 5 months pregnant.  Oh god the baby too. 

My friends went into calm down mode-I was pregnant also, so I had to be aware of our little girl-I shut down.  I called my dad to tell him the news and to go get Mom and stay with her until I could get there, please.  Then I called The Don-he was at work, I needed him to come home and see if his parents could please pick up Justin from school so we could leave immediately.  I didn't want Justin to have to go with us to Toledo yet, he didn't need to be there when we were getting the full story and arranging his sister's funeral.

I think I was in denial when we left-there had to be a mistake and I would get there and she would be ok.  That wasn't the story. 

The story was a tragic one.  Ash was on her way into Toledo from the outlying suburb she lived in.  She was on Airport highway, a main road that runs through Toledo and out farther than I know.  It has a speed limit of 50 mph so people cruise.  She was heading in for a day with friends and family, she may have had school also.  A text came through from a friend about lunch-that's the last we know.  She hit a semi truck in front of her that had stopped to turn left-head on.  The car was a mangled mess and Ash was killed instantly.  There were no skid marks, she hadn't even had time to slow down, she had become preoccupied as so many of us do.  It happened that fast.  Her phone probably sang a top 40 song, that she loved to download for her rings, she looked down to check her message...it ended up that God had called that day.

I got to Toledo and had to help plan her and baby Steven's funeral-it finally sunk in.  I had to keep it together for the family-for my Mom.  I laid in bed that night and just cried, where I was alone so noone could see.  Our Ashley was gone, I never got to meet her baby and she would never meet mine, the little baby girl who came into my life when I was 9 years old had left my life, only 20 years later.  Too soon.  Too young. To texting.

There are many stories that are coming out about the dangers of texting and driving.  I don't know what it will take for people to make a change and just stop doing it but if this story convinces one person then I am grateful.  The only blessing from Ashley's accident is that nobody else was hurt, but that's not always the case.  More than just your life is in your hands when you get in a car, it is too important of a responsibility to allow yourself to be distracted.  Not just with texting but with talking and drinking and being overly tired.  We need to take driving more seriously!  Please turn off your phones when you get into your car-nothing is more important than protecting yourself and everyone else on the road when you are driving...nothing.

I miss Ashley everday.  I have an ultrasound picture of Baby Steven at 14 weeks-that Ashley texted me, his heartbeat was 152.  He was a healthy baby boy.  That's a picture I look at all the time, just not when I'm driving.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Deciding to stay at home

After being a working mom for almost 5 years, I thought for sure I would continue down that path.  I mean we had made it work with Justin, though stressful at times.  I had a good job where I loved the people I worked with and my clients.  I felt like I was pretty good at what I did.  I was contributing to the family finances and we were doing ok and prepared for the extra daycare costs.  So I figured I would enjoy my nice long, 13 week maternity leave and then be ready to get back into the swing of things with adult interaction and what not...how wrong I was.

I think my first misstep was comparing this with Justin.  He was 4 1/2 years old when he came to us so we weren't dealing with daycare as much as pre-school.  He was ecstatic to start his pre-school and play with friends all day. Plus, that was when Don was off Mondays, so Justin esentially had day-long playdates 4 days a week, all while getting prepared for kindergarten. He was stoked!  I will admit it became stressful as he got older and more involved.  Don and I both worked in an industry that required late nights-me more than him.  I worked about 15 minutes from Justin but Don worked about 40 minutes away so getting him by 6 could be tough and lots of times his practices/games could be at 5, so we had to figure that stuff out, but we did. 

I figured with the baby I would just have to adjust and we'd, like always, figure it out. But Piper came and that theory went out the window.  They learn and do so much that first year, gosh those first three months-I was a mess with the thought of missing any of it.  I think our situation with Justin also added to the yearning of being there-I didn't get this with him, I didn't want to miss it with her.  Oh how we crunched the numbers, but boy was it going to be tight-it just didn't seem like we were going to be able to make it work...then Don got a new job.  It moved him from a 40 minute commute to about 10 blocks down the street.  There was some pay implication and with the money we would save on gas, we decided to recrunch...tight just loosened a belt notch and we went into doable range.

As much as my soul told me that being home was were I should be, my work ethic said that I needed to at least go back. I had never not worked and thought maybe I just needed to get back into it and I would adjust.  I mean the extra money would help and we were able to get Piper into a fabulous daycare facility and Justin was in a great after school program, so back to work I went.

Piper's spot at the daycare didn't open until three weeks after I went back, so god bless the grandparents.  My dad, my mom and mother-in-law all took time to come and be with her to get us through those three weeks.  I felt like this was the perfect transition for the whole family and felt pretty good...until that first day.  I went back to work, but my heart wasn't in it anymore-all I could think about was what I might be missing-I had some serious seperation anxiety.  I muscled through it, trying to be a trooper, but the battle was lost.  I knew that I couldn't be the employee I wanted to be and that they knew me to be. The day we dropped her off at daycare was the day I put in my notice.  I was torn because I didn't want to upset my work or the daycare facility but I had to do what I had to do.  Thankfully, both were extremely understanding and supportive.

It's funny.  I had thought that the nine year age gap would make things a little easier to deal with, being that Justin is a functioning child and able to be somewhat independant.  I mean he can feed himself and shower-that kind of stuff.  But in actuality, the age gap made for a big juggling act.  Justin loves sports and participates in quite a bit, so getting him from school and getting him fed and to practice or a game was always a big hustle for us.  Now we had Piper too, who had a schedule that needed to be kept.  We were running Justin here-shoving a granola bar in his mouth to tie him over, trying to spend a little quality time with Piper before bedtime, getting dinner made, picking Justin up, checking homework, trying to get quality time with Justin, baths, showers- on and on-all between the hours of 5:30 and 8pm. The decision was made.

So here we are.  I am at home and really loving it.  I definitely miss some aspects of work, I'd be lying if I said I didn't.  They say parenting is a thankless job and for the most part they're right.  Work provided yearly reviews with comments and critiques and clients would send accolades for a job well done, I felt like I knew how I was doing and got some moral boosting kudos here and there.  At home you're flying blind-doing the best you can with little feedback.  Hoping and praying that you're getting it right.

The Stin just came in to give me a hug-I'll take that as a Meets Expectations review for now. Here's hoping that I can Exceed Expectations one day!

Should 13 year olds have Facebook pages...

my answer is a resounding NO!  I mean really, what does a 13 year old have to post for their friends that can't wait until before the first bell tomorrow at school? 

I'm sure with the movie The Social Network out that most people are familiar with the creation of this social media powerhouse...it was created by a college student, for college students.  I remember when you couldn't have a Facebook profile without an .edu email address. So why oh why are we allowing our middle/high school children on? 

I see Facebook as an advanced form of social interaction that benefits those that have responsibilites and priorities that have taken precedent over their social upkeep.  I mean lets face it, when you are a big kid your life becomes consumed with work and family.  Friends move and you lose touch, everyone is busy and you lose touch. Facebook helps alleviate that-which is great, but in high school-your friends are your world and usually live blocks away.  Why is Facebook needed? 

With our world getting less and less personal, shouldn't we as parents be stepping up and making sure our children know how to make real, meaningful relationships before they are sucked into the cyber world we live in?  Make them pick up a phone and call their friends to share news.  Teach them how to have real conversations- face-to-face, real relationships. Shouldn't this be a priority as parents? 

I get that we live in a technological society, but I cannot be convinced that by not letting a 13 year old have a Facebook profile, that I will be depriving them of some great learning curve.  My 9 year old son knows more about a computer than I have ever taught him, because he gets to use them at school and kids these days seem to be wired for this stuff. They will be just fine when they are adults if they have to wait to be on Facebook.

I know it's tough when "all the other kids" seem to have one but being a parent isn't about being cool and I figured that out fast!  I thought when we adopted The Stin that I'd be this young, hip mom-I mean I was 26 and in advertising-I would be cool...Nope.  I found out real fast that having rules makes parenting tough and the comparisons begin with other parents and kids at school.  I came to terms real fast that being the "cool" mom wasn't as important as being A mom.  Parenting is unpopular, but if more of us put our foot down with these types of things we won't be quite as uncool as before!

Who's with me?