Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Big Purse Dump

Linking up with Kendra for The Big Purse Dump of 2014.
I noticed my bag was getting a bit heavy and I don't have the energy or free hand to carry this giant bag around anymore. These days I'm rocking the baby seat carrier in one arm and an 18 month old in the other, with the 5 year old hanging on to my coat tail for dear life, whilst a giant diaper bag is slung across my body and this purse dangles off my elbow. And because we live in the land of the eternal winter, we are all bundled up in coats, hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, and snowsuits. Seriously, that's just to go into our attached garage to get into the minivan.

So Big Purse Dump it is. With the goal being that I can figure out what I actually need and just toss that into the diaper bag.

Here's my purse.
A sensible black tote handbag, aka, the black hole
And here's what was in my purse:
Nice upside down picture that I can't seem to fix.
For some reason, I collect a large amounts of paperwork that could be thrown out. See bottom left of above picture. There were 3 keepers in the pile - Alice's immunization record, paperwork to request copies of Elizabeth's birth certificate, and Elizabeth's hearing screen results.

Other interesting items were some gift certificates to Olive Garden & Marshall's, a list of supplies needed to make Junior a mass kit (and some other random stuff we needed for the house), my big pink coupon organizer (full of expired coupons, super helpful), 2 pens, one pencil, a travel sized thing of tissue, a card from some flowers Mr. Amen sent me a long time ago (at least 2 kids ago), gloves, keys, a sucker from the pediatrician's office, a half eaten candy cane, a penny, an electrical outlet cover (because you never know when you will be near an uncovered electrical outlet with your toddler that will try to stick a pencil into it), a gold dubloon, and a ninja (from Japan).
And while these things are good finds, I am more interested in the items I found in my "toiletries" bag...and I think you'll find these contents supremely interesting as well.
This little bag held such treasures as $1.13 in mostly Canadian coins; 2 lip glosses, 1 lipstick, an eyeliner pencil, mascara, and eyeshadow (fitting, since I don't wear makeup on a regular basis...maybe 6 times a year); a package of off brand Bene.dryl; 5 band-aids, an empty blister pack of off brand Benedr.yl; 3 hair ties with entangled gold necklace with the gold cross I received from my parents for my 8th grade graduation; a handi-wipe; a bug repellant of some sort (acquired at my uncle's funeral when my husband had a tiny cut on his upper lip that wouldn't stop bleeding, the funeral home lady gave it to us to help stop the bleeding, obviously); a teeny tiny mirror; 8 lite-days and 4 tampons (definitely a must have for a lady who has spent the better part of the past year pregnant).

And for the GRAND FINALE, this little gem:

That's right! Ladies and Gentlemen, Elizabeth's shriveled umbilical cord stump (top right). It fell off last week at the Chiropractor and I threw it in my purse because I save these milestone items. I may not take pictures of my kids each month their first year, or even every three months, or really at all with anything other than my phone, but, by God, I save their umbilical cord stump when it falls off.

So to fill in the blanks for Kendra'a categories, we have:

  • My favorite thing in here:  The note from my husband from the flowers he sent me. He's so sweet. I don't like getting flowers (waste of money), but the notes he attaches are the best. And I don't even think the flowers were for any occasion at all.
  • Wow! I really have a lot of these: Canadian coins? I have an over-abundance in the change part of my wallet too. That's what I get for living north of Canada. Feminine care products? Too much for a person who's not needed them for 10+ months.
  • I've been looking for those: My gold necklace and cross. Been missing for 2 years at least.
  • Huh! THAT shouldn't be in there: Elizabeth's umbilical cord stump. For obvious reasons.
And that's the Big Purse Dump of 2014. I think I can just take the wallet and Benedr.yl and drop those in the diaper bag. That's really all I need anyhow.

Thanks for hosting, Kendra!

Oh, as I finished typing this I had to jump up and chase my toddler to get the outlet cover out of her mouth, she climbed onto the counter and stole it as I was typing. Nice.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Welcome Elizabeth Anne! (Birth Story)

Elizabeth Anne

We added a daughter to our little family on February 7, 2014. Miss Elizabeth Anne burst onto the scene at 3:43am weighing in at 8 lbs, 2 oz, and 20.5" long.

After the early arrivals of my elder children, I expected this baby to make its exit mid-to-late January. Oh how wrong I was! My due date according to my charting was January 31st; my doctor, however, had a due date of February 4th. Either way, this kid was a late arrival.

I had had some prodromal labor on January 16th and my mom spent the day with me as I had contractions for the entire day. When I went to my 38 week appointment on Janaury 20th I was very disappointed to hear that that entire day of contractions had done nothing. I was not dilated or effaced at all. A full week later at my 39 week appointment, after having basically no contractions or further prodromal labor, I was 2cm and 50% effaced. Progress. I refused to have my membranes stripped by the doctor.

One week later, at my 40 week appointment, I was still feeling great and after being checked was 3cm dilated. Again I refused to have my membranes stripped. The doctor began to discuss my options for induction. As I was now 40 weeks, he was concerned that my uterus would become "old" (it's more than 38 years old) and that by continuing the pregnancy beyond 40 weeks, it would put strain on my previous c-section scar and possibly make contractions less effective when they did start. He suggested scheduling an induction for Wednesday or Thursday. I told him I would need to discuss it with my husband.

After talking with Mr. Amen, we decided that while we'd rather have labor start spontaneously, we were comfortable with a modified induction on Friday. By a modified induction, we were agreeing to have my water broken and to see if labor would begin on its own once that happened. It was a risk, because if labor didn't begin on its own after my water was broken, I would be on the clock at the hospital for delivery within 24 hours. We knew the chances of a c-section were greater, but it seemed about equivalent to the risk of c-section should my uterus continue to "age" beyond 40 weeks. So I called and scheduled an induction for Friday morning, February 7th, at 7:45am.

Of course on Wednesday, February 5th, I woke up around 3am with contractions. These got progressively stronger and closer together until they were 6-7 minutes apart lasting about a minute each. At 7am I called my parents to come over. Mr. Amen had stayed home from work, and we thought we were within an hour of leaving for the hospital. I called my doula and gave her a status report and she suggested that we not wait too long to go because my last birth went pretty quickly once active labor started. I told her I just wanted to take a quick shower, then we would call her and let her know when we were leaving.
Before going mall walking...GET OUT, BABY!
So I jumped in the shower and all the contractions stopped. It was 9:30am. You might say I was a little ticked off. I just stood there crying. Mr. Amen had "wasted" a vacation day by staying home and now nothing was happening. My parents took our children back to their house for the day, so Mr. Amen and I decided to go mall walking. Of course, there was also a fresh 6 inches of snow or so on the ground, so that was a fun drive to the mall. We walked and walked. And walked and walked. And stopped to say hi to a friend that works at the mall. And walked and walked. Then we left. And nothing happened. My doula offered to come over and massage some Evening Primrose Oil on my cervix (she also happens to be a retired labor & delivery nurse, so it's not as creepy as it sounds). But as enticing as that offer was, I declined.

Thursday morning, Mr. Amen left for work, just like always, and I hung out with the kids at home. And still nothing happened. My doula called and offered once again to come over and check me, massage my cervix and give me some stronger homeopathic remedies than the ones I had been using. I finally relented and had her come over. She arrived at 7:25pm and after chatting with my 5 year old, we headed back to our bedroom to massage my cervix. (Typing that makes me feel like a major weirdo, but it's what happened, so it's in the story). As she checked me, she said, "you're a good 3, no wait 4, no 5cm, maybe 6! I can feel the baby's head. Huh, fingers, I can feel the baby's fingers. The baby has its hand on the top of its head." I knew I had been feeling little digits down there where they didn't belong, but Mr. Amen didn't believe me.

No wonder baby wouldn't come out. The hand being on the top of the head was preventing the baby from fully engaging in my pelvis. My doula spent about 10 minutes massaging the EPO on my cervix and pulling and holding it in an anterior position. Once she was done with that, she had me do some cat & cows (basically being on all fours and arching my back like a cat, then going swayback like a cow). She did a Rebozo (or "sifting") technique on me. This entailed me getting on the floor on my knees and resting my head on a pillow on the ground (bear position). She then stood behind/over me with a crib sheet (as a make shift sling) snugly around my belly and she gently jiggled it for several minutes. Next we did some side lying leg drops. Finally we moved out to the kitchen where we did a series of stronger homeopathic remedies. I had been doing a series of 3 different homeopathics 15 minutes apart several times a day for the past week, but nothing seemed to come about from it. I had also been using clary sage essential oil (without dilution) on my belly and various pressure points without success. My doula had stronger homepathics and I did a series of those, then she used a special "labor oil" essential oil rub on my ankle pressure points. She also left me with a vial of labor enhancer with instructions to take 1-2 droppers full with a big glass of water. I had a few contractions while she was there, then they pittered out and she left.

I texted my parented before going to bed to tell them that I was 5-6cm dilated and had taken some homeopathics, but nothing was happening. My mom asked if I wanted them to just come over and stay the night, but I declined saying I would just seem them in the morning at the planned time so they could get a good night's rest before taking the kids. Then I went to bed.

At 1:50am, I woke up and had to use the restroom for #1. I went to the bathroom, then back to bed. Then I felt like I had to use the restroom again for #2. So I did, then went back to bed. As I lay there, I had a big contraction that was quite painful. Painful enough that I reached out to grab Mr. Amen's hand, something I don't usually do because I don't want to wake him up unnecessarily. He asked if everything was OK, I told him I had a big contraction and that I was going to go out to the family room to see if anything else happened. I got up and as I was walking out to the family room, I felt like I had to use the bathroom again (#2). I went to the restroom and thought, "huh, maybe this is early labor with all this pooping! Maybe I won't need to be induced." Little did I know...

And while I sat there on the toilet, I had another contraction, and another contraction, and another contraction. They were coming about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minutes 30 seconds each. One would barely finish before the next one would start. I tried calling for Mr. Amen to come help me, but he couldn't hear me at the other end of the house and I didn't want to scream and wake the other children.

Finally I got enough of a break that I was able to get out of the bathroom and head towards our bedroom. On the way, I had to stop several times for contractions (and our house is not large!). At 2:41am I called my parents and when my dad answered the phone I just grunted, "Come now! Now! Come over now! Come now!" and hung up. At 2:44am, I called our doula and told her we were going to the hospital as soon as I could get Mr. Amen up. I went in to get Mr. Amen and said, as I collapsed over our bed, "Get up now! It's time to go!" When he didn't move as fast as I wanted him to, I shouted, "NO! NOW! GET UP NOW!" I had my arms and head on the foot of our bed, standing on my tip toes swaying in pain. My darling husband, just looked at me and said, "Why do you always wait until the last minute?!?" I just groaned and tried to explain that I had been calling him, but the contractions were too close together and I couldn't move. He jumped up and ran into the bathroom and started getting dressed. I peeled off my pajamas during a contraction and started getting dressed between them. It took me a couple tries to get dressed and get my shoes on, finally, I made my way back out to the family room, where I called my doctor at 2:48am. Of course, in all that pain, I couldn't remember to call their answering service, so I called their office, and was trying to remember the answering service number to call them. It took me 2 dials to get it right and I could barely talk to them because of the pain and contractions. The doctor called me back about 7 minutes later at 2:55am and when I couldn't even catch my breath to talk, she just said, "OK, how long until you get to the hospital?" I answered that it would be about 10-15 minutes because I needed to wait for my parents to get to my house to stay with my other kids.

I went to the kitchen between contractions and Mr. Amen was trying to load the bags into the car. I was moaning in pain hunched over the island. Mr. Amen did a hip press to relieve the pain, and as the contraction let up, I told him to go ahead and load the car. But another contraction started before he walked away, he attempted to do another hip press on me, but my legs gave out and I hit the kitchen floor on all fours growling. I started shaking my head back and forth saying, "no, no, no, no" over and over again. My rational self said, interiorly, "huh, what do you know? Transition already." But my mouth yelled, "Where are my parents, what is taking them so long to get here?" As I was  about to tell Mr. Amen to call 911 for an ambulance, my parents pulled up 20 minutes after I called them. (My dad says it was 13 minutes, but if I look at my phone records of when I made calls and when things happened, it was more like 20 minutes before they arrived.) I pulled myself off the floor and tip toe ran to the car, where I climbed in he back seat and went into bear position again (head down, butt up). Mr. Amen was backing the car out of the driveway, and I shouted for him to stop and pick up my mom who was standing in the driveway. I guess I said it twice, and Mr. Amen yelled, "I heard you! I'm trying to back out of the garage!" (We have probably 3 feet of snow or more on the ground so our driveway is a little restricted in terms of space and my dad's SUV was taking up half the driveway.) My husband stopped to get my mom and shouted, "GET IN THE CAR!" She hopped in and off we went.
The hospital is literally a mile from our house, but it was the longest mile to drive in all the snow and ice. Luckily there was a green light at the one intersection we have to go through, but Mr. Amen said that he wouldn't have stopped for the light anyhow because he thought I was going to deliver in the car. We pulled around the back of the hospital to the L&D entrance, and as soon as I was able to move when a contraction ended, I backed out of the car and hobbled into the lobby, where I shouted to the lady at the registration desk, "I'm in labor. My name is Mrs. Amen. A-M-E-N!" She just looked at me and said, "Go straight upstairs." But I couldn't because the next contraction was upon me and I was on the cold, wet, slushy, muddy floor on all fours, thinking about putting my cheek against the tile because I was sweating to death. Gross, I thought, but entirely necessary. The receptionist called for a wheelchair for me and I got up between contractions to go sit in one of the wheelchairs in the lobby, but didn't make it before collapsing to the floor again. It was about 3:15am.

A minute later, a nurse burst out of the elevator with a wheelchair and came to get me. Mr. Amen and my mom lifted me into the wheelchair and Mr. Amen ran over to the registration desk to "sign me in". We went straight to the elevator and where another nurse was waiting for us and already had our bags. Up we went, and when we arrived on the third floor, Mr. Amen was right behind us coming out of another elevator. As a nurse let us into the secure area, the nurse pushing the wheelchair said, "We are gonna just skip triage, hon, and get you straight to a room." I thought, "Ah, yes, good idea. You must've graduated at the very tip top of your class."

"Room 9!" another nurse shouted as I saw them rolling a delivery tray into the room. As we entered the room, I could see nursing buzzing around and they were asking a million questions. "My name is Katie. What's your name?" I answered. As I launched myself out of the wheelchair towards the bed, I pulled my pants down and another nurse ripped 'em right off. Then I started pulling at my shirt to get it off because I was sweating. Mr. Amen handed a nurse my one-page "birth plan/patient information sheet" that had my name, pertinent health information and other birth plan type things on it. I shouted that I was a VBAC and a nurse held a doppler to my belly to check the baby's heart rate (I never got a monitor at all, the poor nurse just had to stand there holding the doppler the whole time). A doctor came in and said, "we need to get you on your back or at least just open up your legs so we can check you." I complied by opening my legs and he announced that I was 9cm and if he broke my water, I would deliver within a few minutes. I don't remember if I agreed or not, but the good doctor, who was not even my own, broke my water a few seconds later and then I needed to push immediately.
A doctor from my practice ran in just in time for me to start pushing. She was wonderful in that she didn't tell me to push or count to 10 when I did or anything like that. She let me direct my own pushing and let me do what I needed to do to get the baby out. I gave 2-3 pushes and my doula walked in - FINALLY! I had a 2nd to 3rd degree tear with my last VBAC and we wanted to try to stretch me out by taking the pushing stage a little more slowly this time to avoid another tear. She was coaching me to push a quarter inch at a time, but I am a pretty effective pusher and the urge to push was so strong. I looked at my doctor, who was wearing glasses, and I could see the baby's head crowning. I could feel the tearing, but my body couldn't stop pushing. A minute later the baby's head was out. They suctioned the baby well since there was slight meconium when my water broke. I pushed again and felt the baby slide out. It was 3:43am.

We didn't know if we had a boy or a girl so the doctor held up the baby so my husband could announce what we had. I was sitting there thinking, "Geez, it's a boy, just put him down on my belly already!" Then Mr. Amen said, "It's a girl, another daughter! What am I gonna do with another daughter?!" (Our other daughter has Mr. Amen wrapped around her little finger and he knows it!). I was in disbelief. I had thought all along that the baby was a boy. I was convinced it was a boy and the baby being a girl had really not been a remote possibility to me. So I was totally surprised. My mom was so surprised and happy to have been there when the baby was born. She asked, "What's her name?" Mr. Amen and I looked at each other and said, "we don't know. We don't have a name picked out." Mr. Amen then walked over to our bag and pulled out the list of names we liked so we could take a look and talk about it.

The doctor and nurses were fantastic and followed all our wishes about the delivery. They let the cord stop pulsing before cutting it, which Mr. Amen got to do. They baby was kept on my belly as long as possible before taking her to be weighed and wiped off. They delayed the eye ointment and saved my placenta so I could see it. (We didn't plan on encapsulating it or eating it or anything like that, I just wanted to see it because I love medical stuff and I've asked to see it after each of my other deliveries and have never gotten to.) I was able to nurse the baby as soon as I wanted and hold her as soon as they were done stitching me up. Because my labor went so fast and I was there for less than half an hour before delivering, I didn't get an IV or even a heart rate monitor on the baby.

Ah, the stitching. Almost as pleasant as the belly mashing, but not quite. I had a 3rd degree tear that required extensive repairs. Ouch! But the doctor did a great job and it was over before I knew it. The belly mashing is probably my least favorite part of having a baby.
  • Contractions? Painful, but tolerable because you get a baby at the end.
  • Pooping on the table? Majorly embarrassing, if you think about it, but the nurses and doctors are used to it and you don't really have time to think about it in the moment. Not that I know from experience or anything. Just sayin'. 
  • Ring of fire? Bring it on, the baby is almost here. 
  • Stitching up a tear? Numbing shots, uncomfortable, but not painful. 
  • Belly mashing? NO FREAKIN' THANKS!! 
It's the part of having a baby no one tells you about. And it is the worst part, in my humble opinion.
Finally, my mom and my doula stepped out of the room to go get some coffee so we could discuss the baby's name. We looked at her pretty little face and a name that we thought would be the middle name became the first name. Elizabeth. But none of the other names on our list went well as a middle name with it, so we started making suggestions. We finally settled on Anne with an "E", which is how I say it. Her name is Elizabeth Anne with an "E". Mr. Amen went to retrieve my mom and doula and we announced her name.

And that's how our newest baby girl entered this world. Less than an hour and 45 minutes of labor, almost not making it to the hospital, and shocking us all by being a girl.
Big brother and sister are in love with her and can't get enough snuggles in.