Monday, January 28, 2013

Ava's Birth Story

Ava Grace Norwood is here!  Ava was born at 7:11 pm on Sunday, January 20, 2013.  She weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 21 inches long.  She is now one week old and as precious as can be.  She takes up approximately 100% of our time, but I did want to find some time to record her birth story here on the blog!

My due date of Wednesday, January 16 came and went.  On Friday, January 18, I had a few signs that labor was imminent.  I was excited and totally freaked out at the same time.  We knew it wouldn't be immediate, but Brent and I went into nesting overdrive.  When I got out of the shower, I found Brent cleaning the floors and packing his bag.  I did a few last minute things and tidied up the house.  Friday night we stayed at home and had homemade pizza for dinner.  I didn't feel any contractions Friday overnight, but I was expecting them at any time!  I woke up on Saturday and immediately felt something had changed.  I felt some definite contractions and pain way down low in my belly.  I had read that "real" labor would be up high and in my back, so I thought that that maybe this was not the real thing.  Still... it was hurting, and it was pretty regular - about every 10-15 minutes.  I had a haircut appointment at 11:15, and I was determined to keep it.  I made Brent come with me since I didn't want to drive with contractions.  Bless my stylist's heart.  She looked a little worried when I told her I was having contractions.  I was pretty excited that I was probably going to the hospital with a fresh haircut and style!

On the way home from the salon, we stopped and got one of my favorite lunches from Saladelia Cafe.  We also called the doctor on call at the hospital (since it was the weekend).  She agreed that I was in early labor and told us to come to the hospital when contractions were five minutes apart lasting one minute each for the span of an hour.  At this point, we also called our parents.  We tracked contractions for the whole afternoon with my iPhone app and watched HGTV.  Things did seem to be progressing, and by around 4 pm, I was in definite pain.  Brent took Blazer to stay with some friends, and for some reason, that made me so sad!  I cried because I felt like it was the end of our old life as a married couple with just a puppy.  I had a "last supper" of plain pasta before we packed up and headed out to the hospital!  Thankfully, I wasn't overly emotional about leaving home - I just was ready to get this thing going!

Once at the hospital, we had to wait in the emergency room with a ton of sick people (super annoying!)  Brent wouldn't let me sit down for fear of germs, so we stood to the side until the L&D nurse came down to get us.  We filled out paperwork and I got my gown on.  We arrived right at a shift change, so we had a bunch of different nurses and attendants for the first 15 minutes.  Here's my last pregnant pic.  Notice the hair, please.  Thank you.

We finally got settled in around 7:30 pm, and the doctor came to check me.  She said, "You're going to be disappointed."  I was only 1 cm dilated.  Boo.  She then stripped my membranes to speed it along, which was, um, less than pleasant.   She asked me to walk around for an hour or so to see if we could get things going.  Brent and I walked laps around the L&D wing, stopping every time I had a contraction.  Two hours later, she checked me again - 1.5 cm.  Lovely.  At this point I knew:  we were going to be here a long, long while.  Thankfully, I fully expected Ava to come late.  I also fully expected to have a long labor.  I also didn't really have any strict "birth plan" or preconceived notion of what my birth 'had' to be like. I just decided to be patient and go with the flow, which I think served us well.  I found it easiest to trust the expertise and advice of the doctors and nurses.  Although I ended up doing things and getting meds I didn't think I would, it was definitely for the best.  At this point, they officially "admitted" me and did all of my lab and blood work.  I labored in the room for several hours.  The contractions were pretty intense for just being 1.5 cm dilated.   The only thing that made them better for me was standing up and leaning over the bed with my head down.  

At 12:30 am, I was given IV pain medication and something to relax me.  I didn't think either worked very well. At 2:30 am, they suggested I get in the jetted tub to relax. I stayed in there about an hour, and it did seem to help a bit.  After I got out, they gave me more pain & relaxation meds plus an Ambien.  I tried to sleep, but I woke up with every contraction, so it was a very fitful and disoriented sleep.  At 9 am on Sunday, the doctor checked me again, and I was at 2 cm.  2 cm after all of that???  I tried hard not to be frustrated.  I had a GREAT doctor who was very sweet and understanding.  She really wanted to move things along while keeping me comfortable.  Even though I was not yet at 4 cm, she suggested I get the epidural since I was in a lot of pain and I was exhausted from laboring for almost 24 hours with no progress. I got the epidural at 10:30 am, and it wasn't too bad except that they had to do it twice because the first time they hit a nerve that sent bursts of pain down my legs.  After the epidural, things were great.  I felt awesome and was able to sleep on and off all day.  I think it worked to relax me and speed things along because they checked me an hour later, and I was at 4 cm.  At this point, the doctor broke my water, which was painless since I had the epidural.  She discovered that Ava had passed some meconium in the womb, which meant that she would need some special care once delivered.

For the rest of the day, I lay in bed waiting for my body to do its job.  In the afternoon, they began giving me pitocin to speed things up.  The nurse helped me switch sides every 30 minutes.  {Side note:  Brent was so awesome this whole time.  He barely slept either, and he was always ready to give me juice, water, and encouragement.   I also had the BEST nurses. The one who was with me most was so kind and sweet.  She really helped me get through it!}  Fast forward to 6 pm on Sunday.  I was FINALLY 8 cm!  They predicted she would arrive within 2 hours.  At this point, I started to get a little freaked out.  Also around this time, my mom arrived from Texas and was brought to the hospital by a friend.  My heart rate was setting off all kinds of alarms in the room because it was so high.  We had my mom leave the room so I could breathe and calm down.  At 6:00, my sweet doctor had to go home (she had been on for 36 hours, so I don't blame her!)  I had a new doctor from another practice I had never met before, but it was OK.  He was just there for the delivery.  At around 6:30, I was finally at 10 cm, so they had me start to push.  They expected me to push for hours, but by 35 minutes, the doctor was called in and the neonatal specialists were poised in the adjoining room to tend to Ava once she was born.  Here I am in the last stages - ready for a baby!

Although the pushing wasn't painful, I could definitely feel the contractions and the pressure.  Ava made her entrance into the world at 7:11 pm, and it was wonderful, but also a bit stressful!  As he delivered her, the doctor saw that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck TWICE and completely knotted in another location.  I did not know what was going on, but Brent saw the whole thing, and although the doctor was very calm, he definitely had a sense of worried urgency.  Before she was completely out, he had to cut the cord while it was still around her neck.  The Lord was truly merciful to us to give us this safe delivery.  It was actually a pretty scary situation that no one could have predicted.  The doctor was so skilled and calm, and we are grateful for that.  

Once she was born, she was whisked off to the specialists.  She was not breathing (because of the meconium), but this was expected.  They worked on her for a few tense minutes, and I finally heard her cry for the first time.  The whole thing was a very surreal experience.  Because of the issues with Ava, she could not be brought to me right away, but the doctor worked on me and Brent got to go see her and take pictures.  Look at all those hands of wonderful people there ready to help her!

About 20 minutes later, they let her lie with me for about 3 minutes.  I got to see her and hug her and kiss her.  

Then they took her to the nursery for some monitoring for about 30 minutes.  Brent went with her, so it was kind of lonely for a while!  Finally, she came back, and we got some family alone time for around an hour.  I got to nurse her for the first time, and we could admire her tiny little features.

After a dinner of pizza brought by my mom (I hadn't eaten in about 30 hours), we were taken to what would be our room for the next two days.  More to come later on Ava's first days!  Here she is with my mom (her Winnie) that first night.  These were days I will never forget, and I thank the Lord that my labor and delivery, though long, were smooth and safe.  The Lord is good!

Friday, January 18, 2013

40 Weeks

Well hello 40 weeks!  Today we are at 40 weeks and 3 days, and still no baby!  Ava seems nice and cozy in there, and at the moment, I don't feel like birth is imminent, though maybe she will surprise me.  I have thought from the very beginning that she was going to be late.  I just have not heard many stories at ALL of first babies being early or on time.  My mindset has been that she would be born after her due date.  This has been good, probably, because I really don't feel that impatient at all!  Here are my thoughts at 40 weeks:

I feel very blessed to be feeling as good as I do.  For the most part, I have plenty of energy to keep working as usual, keep up with household tasks, and attend the few events we have going on in the evenings.  We also walk about an hour a day.... that's Brent's attempt at getting her to come out and meet us.  Our life has definitely slowed as we wait for Ava.  There are not many things on the to-do list each day, and that is pretty nice!

I am definitely enjoying some sweet time with my husband.  Between Christmas and his five week break from school, we've had many, many chill days at home, which we both love!!  We walk every day, go out to dinner a few times a week, and one day this week we took an impromptu trip out to try a new donut place for breakfast and walk the mall.  I know... gettin' crazy!  Brent has been amazingly sweet and helpful.  The other night he went to the grocery at 7 pm to get ingredients for dinner even though I had all day to do it and just didn't.  He also ties my shoes every day when we walk because I can't anymore!  If we go out and it's really cold, he warms up the car for me and parks right next to the walkway so I won't slip on ice or leaves!

The Lord has really protected my mind and heart in these last few weeks.  I am not great at change, although I am getting better.  This is kind of a BIG change.  If I dwell on it too much or think about too many unknowns, I cry and become very anxious.  For the most part, I've been able to focus on the present and not think too much about the unknowns of labor and delivery and having a newborn.  I know God will give me the grace and strength to deal with whatever comes.  He has blessed me with patience and peace for now.  I'm still reading and learning what I can, but I am never going to be fully mentally prepared, so Brent and I are ready to just do this thing and jump in.  No more thinking!

Small Annoyances:
I think God is preparing me for sleepless nights, because I dread going to bed.  I have always been one to look forward to going to sleep, and I usually sleep very well.  Not anymore!  I wake 5-6 times to go to the bathroom, and I usually have about 2 hours of insomnia each night... sometimes at the beginning, sometimes right in the middle.  My carpal tunnel hands are horrible.  I've been pretty patient and have done well controlling my mind with the pain, but last night I just lost it.  I truly wanted to cut my hands off.  I may or may not have hit the bed and the wall with my useless hands out of frustration.  {Low point.}  Finally, it's just impossible to get comfortable.  My legs are restless and my belly is huge.  I know - sleep won't be good for a long time.  I will deal.

Although I know people mean well, it stresses me out when people say things like, "Enjoy it now", "Get out while you can", "Sleep while you can", "Your life is about to change forever", "Hope you're having fun hanging out with Brent now", etc.  Isn't having a baby supposed to be a good thing?   I mean, people do it multiple times so there must be something awesome about it!  I know people are just trying to prepare me for the reality of a newborn, but I feel like there is intense pressure to "enjoy it now" before she comes.  Hopefully I will enjoy it now AND later.  :-)  Brent is so sweet... every day he says how excited he is for Ava and how he can't wait to meet her and just have her here.  He gives me confidence!  

Daily Life at 40 Weeks:
I'm not very hungry at all.  Usually I'm starving in the morning, but after I eat a bowl of cereal with fruit, I'm typically so full that I can't even think about eating lunch until about 2 pm.  Even then, nothing sounds good, so I've been eating peanut butter and apples or small reheated leftovers.

Everyone asks me if I am nesting.  Yes, I think I am... but that's kind of what I do ALL the time!  I've always been OCD about my house, randomly organizing cabinets and closets, decorating, and cooking.  So, I can't really tell if my nesting is just what I usually do or is a result of pregnancy.  Last week I did scrub the sink, wipe all cabinets, clean out the pantry, dust, clean the microwave, buy flowers for vases, and make sure every last baby thing was put together.  Today I'm going to clean the bathrooms, I think.

My next post may be with pictures of a real baby.... or maybe not!  You'll have to check back to see!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nursery Art Projects

I had four art projects I wanted to complete for Ava's nursery.  They have all been fun ways to be creative and keep myself busy and distracted in the evenings.  It's been quite frustrating to work with my numb and painful carpal tunnel hands, but I was able to do the projects a little at a time, and I'm so glad they are done!  I absolutely love how they all turned out, and it was fun to add personal, one-of-a-kind touches to the nursery.  For project 1, I made some felt flowers for a lamp which I showed you here.

Project 2:  Animal Canvases
Next, I painted some canvases for above the changing table.  Ever since I painted these canvases for Maggie and Campbell last year, I knew I wanted to make some for my own child.  I am SO happy with how they turned out!  I decided to paint an owl since she has a few owls throughout the nursery and a dog since Blazer is going to be her best friend (fingers crossed) and she's going to grow up to be a dog lover, obviously.

Here they are hanging over the changing table!

Project 3:  Hospital Door Wreath
For my next project, I was coveting several ribbon wreaths I saw online like this one.  However, priced at $40 to $60, I knew I could make one myself for way less.  I purchased about 10 spools of fun ribbon 75% off at Michael's.  The only other materials I needed were a styrofoam wreath form, pinking shears, a wooden plaque, and paint.  With the pinking shears, I cut equal lengths of ribbon from all of the spools.  Then, I randomly tied them on the wreath making sure they were right next to each other.  There wasn't really a pattern.  When all the ribbon was tied on, I trimmed up the ends and arranged them how I wanted.  About half of the ribbon was wired and half was not, which I think gave it a good look.  Finally, I painted the wooden plaque with her name and attached it with ribbon and pins.  I intend to hang this on our hospital room door after she is born.  Then, it can hang on the door to her room and be used for parties, etc. for years to come.  I love it!!  You could do this for any occasion with any color scheme.  It took me forever with my freaking carpal tunnel, but for those of you with hands that actually function, it should be a cinch.

Project 4:  Framed Painted Verse
Lastly, I found this adorable wooden frame at Michael's for only $7.  I knew I had to have it.  It was unfinished, so I spray painted it a glossy white.  Then I bought a thin canvas and painted the gray stripes and pink cross.  Finally, I bought sparkly white stickers (from the scrapbook section) to spell out the verse.  Put the frame & canvas together, and you've got cute wall art!  This is hanging in one corner of the room, and I just love how it turned out.

...Full nursery tour coming soon!  We're at week 39 as of today and totally ready for Ava to get here!!
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