Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shout Outs

There are a lot of people who deserve shout-outs for the help I received before, during, and immediately following giving birth to Eleanor. Here are just some of them.

Suzie Bell:

Ellie loves Suzie too! (less than two weeks old)
Suzie is one of the most motivational people I know. Since we moved away from Hawaii I have had almost zero motivation for much of anything. I blame it on the fact that I no longer have constant contact with this girl. Besides lifting my spirits by seeing her smiley face all the time, Suzie helped me with preparing for labor by teaching me the Tupler technique. I'm pretty sure that's the reason that pushing only took me about a half hour when this was my first baby. My stomach doesn't look too bad either, though I stopped doing some of the exercises (no motivation without Suzie, remember?) so I know it could be looking a TON better if I were still doing them. Or if I had even done them for the first month. Anyway, Suzie was an amazing trainer.

What's more is that she was an incredible friend. Not only is she motivational, but she's just all-around an uplifting person to be around--something I really needed especially in my last trimester.

I MISS YOU SUZIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Castle Medical Center

Castle Medical Center in Kailua, HI was the best birthing center ever! Ok, granted it's not like I've had any previous experiences with birthing centers, or even hospitals where they deliver babies. BUT, I couldn't believe how nice and accommodating everyone and everything was. They had everything I could want for the labor, but also all the nurses were so awesome--especially right after giving birth.

They let me hold the baby as long as I wanted but were there to help every first steps of the way. Everything was done at my pace and the way I wanted. They were all just so sweet and considerate. Plus there was plenty of room for my mom and husband to stay there the whole time. Typically only one guest is allowed to stay overnight, but when they saw both my mom and hubs sleeping on the couch and floor mat provided they let it go.

I highly recommend Castle birthing center to ANYone getting ready to have their own baby.


Five days before Eleanor was born
Wow, how do women have babies without their moms there? More specifically, without MY mom there??? Even Mark right after the whole thing mentioned we wouldn't know what to do without her there. She stayed up the whole night pushing on my back, encouraging me, and supporting me in all my decisions. She was particularly amazing in the week following. She stayed up with the baby so I could get sleep and helped driving me to pediatrician appointments.

Ellie had major problems gaining wait her first week. She just wouldn't latch on no matter what we did it seemed. I tried the breast shield, saw a lactation consultant (who, btw was awesome and deserves a shout-out, but I just don't have the time to write one for everyone or I'll never get this thing posted), tried all different holds, but nothing worked. She was born at 8lb 5oz and dropped to 7lb in four days. Newborns typically lose some weight their first week, but not that much. The doctors were really worried so from her first check-up on Monday until that Friday we drove 45min every day to get her weighed in. It was one of the most stressful and draining experiences of my life. I had to feed Eleanor every two hours--morning and night. But, because we knew the problem was latching this meant I would have her on me for 45minutes and then I would pump so she could have another 2-3oz every feeding. It was crazy, but my mom was there with me the whole time. It was such a huge relief! I have no idea what I would have done without her helping me get an hour of sleep here and there between feedings and pumping!

Mark, My Handsome Hubster

Less than two weeks after birth
Wow, well, first of all, Mark is amazing. I don't think I can adequately express the kind of help and support he has been for/to me since Eleanor came to us. Eleanor was born during Mark's last few weeks of school and I know I was probably not an easy person to live with as the stress and lack of sleep made me an emotional wreck. But, he's always been supportive and helpful and loving the whole way. During the labor he was up when I was and walking and breathing with me. Afterwards he would also wake up to take care of the baby while I pumped (he and my mom switched off to give each other some sleep). After my mom left his duties doubled as I asked even more of him. But, Mark has never once complained and has done much more than I know a typical new father might do. This is because feedings were SO LONG and stressful for the first month and a half. But, he's always taken it with nothing but love for me and Ella.

Now I just pump which is still time-consuming but not as much as pumping AND breast-feeding and is also a lot less stressful. Still Mark helps all the time and is up every night with me to heat up bottles and sometimes rock (or in Ellie's case, walk) the baby back to sleep.

About a month old
He is so loving towards Eleanor--it's so fun seeing him as a daddy. He sings to her, plays with her, makes her laugh, calms her when she cries, and shows so much love to our beautiful girl. He loves being a dad and I think it suites him well. One thing's for sure, I don't know what I'd do without him.

Well, those are all the shout-outs for now, though again I know there are so many more. The thing is, it takes me forever to write these posts because they are so long so eventually I just don't finish them and then, you know, a year goes by. So, this is just where I'm going to end it for now. I am a very blessed girl with a beautiful family of my own that is so full of love. My life couldn't be better.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Story

Well, a lot of people have already heard my birth story, but I want to have everything in writing for me. Also, I apologize if I get too gross for some people, but birth--though beautiful--is gross too, so that's what I'm going to include. Don't worry, I don't go that much into detail!

There are so many things I want to write about, but first I think I'll just start off with the story. Later I'll write a post with a bunch of shout-outs to the things/people who saved me. Then I'll write all the really mushy feeling stuff about what it's like being a brand new mom for me.

Here goes, the story!

So, the whole of my labor from when I could really feel the contractions to when Elly came out was about 24 hours. The good thing is that I only pushed for about half an hour. Overall the recovery went really well. I "delivered" the placenta I think maybe ten minutes after Elly came out. I barely had any tearing and heavy bleeding only lasted a week... maybe two. The worst part was that I totally threw out my back and I could barely sit and get up without someone helping me for the week after. Sitting was SO uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. That made nursing so much harder (another story all together). But, I got better and now it's still sore if I sit for too long, but I'm grateful for not having any other things the past couple months to worry about.

2-6pm: Earlier that day I had gone to my doctor without feeling like I was having any contractions whatsoever--all I could feel was this sort of pressure in my lower abdomen--though definitely not regular like contractions. He was worried about wanting to induce me which got me worried until he checked me (btw, pelvic exams are the WORST!!!). He felt his way up there and said, "well, you're two centimeters dilated, so I don't think we'll have to worry about inducing you." What a relief!

So, until that evening I had to put my hands on my stomach to feel if it was tightening up with a contraction or not which totally got me in the wrong mindset. I felt like this was going to go SO WELL and would be so fast because I was already two centimeters without feeling much of anything.

10-11pm: At the time we were living in Laie, HI and our hospital was about 50 minutes away so when I could feel my contractions about 3-4 minutes apart I felt like we should head in. The contractions weren't too hard to handle, but I was pretty terrified of having Eleanor in a car. Looking back I realize what a stupid fear that was considering it was my first, but I guess pregnancy gives a woman permission to have ridiculous fears.

12-2am: I got to the hospital around midnight and the nurse said she thought I was still about 2 centimeters. I was so confused and disappointed! I was sure I must have been a 5 by now since ten hours ago I was a 2. Well, because my contractions were still pretty regular and we lived a good distance they let me stay and I think it must have been 1.5-2 hours later I reached 4 centimeters. That meant at 2am I was in a lot more pain, but feeling alright.

2-4am: Well, shortly after that my contractions were coming in at 2 minutes apart and quite a bit stronger. I was so tired, though, so I didn't want to walk around that much. Also by then my contractions had all moved to my lower back, also making the pain worse. By I think about 3am my contractions were 1-2 minutes apart and for the most part I was on the bed making my mom and Mark push really hard on my back to try and lessen the pain. I don't think it worked physically, but I think mentally it was nice thinking that SOMEthing was being done for the pain.

4-8am: Even though I had gone in saying that I was just going to see how the birth went to decide whether or not I needed the epidural, deep down I really wanted to do it all natural. So, I decided to stick with it with my contractions coming in at about 1-1.5 minutes apart by around 4am. I had them check me again thinking with these contractions I must be close.

WRONG! 4 centimeters still. I cried. Just cried. It wasn't even so much that I felt like I couldn't take the pain any longer, but it was the not knowing when it was going to be over that was so stressful. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was in pain, but the not knowing was the worst for me.

I felt like I tried everything--walking (my least favorite), the birthing ball, the Jacuzzi, kneeling on all fours while swaying or arching my back, squatting, and I don't even know what else. The nurses came in thinking I was on pitocin my contractions were so close. I remember reading stuff about how you should try and take a break in between contractions--even sleep for a couple minutes. Well, when your contractions are that close together there is no way you are sleeping! There is no break!

I remember my mom telling me to just breath out as low as I could to try to bring everything down (Elly was riding high right up until the moment I had her). It's funny now to think about what I must have looked/sounded like--hobbling with my legs spread in a squat, wearing my hospital gown, and moaning in the lowest voice possible "uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh" over and over and over again. Yeah, it's pretty funny to think about now.

8-11am: Well, at about 8am with contractions still coming at 1-1.5 minutes apart I had them examine me again. I was 5 centimeters. Again came the gush of tears. How could I only be 5 centimeters after all this time?! The nurse gave me a couple different options. First was the epidural and second was a morphine like drug that would wear off in about 45 minutes but would let me sleep. I cried and thought it over for a while and then decided to do the morphine drug (can't remember the name of it) around 9am. I was so tired after staying up all night I thought if I could get just a little bit of sleep I would feel so much better. I had it administered to me twice because sleeping--even for just a half hour each time, felt so good. But, the pain was still so severe and contractions were still close together and I was still exhausted.

11-12:30am: After having it given to me twice I had them check be again at about 11:30am. Again, only 5 centimeters. This time there was no hesitation--"just given me the freakin' epidural!!" I think I might of cried a little bit, but at this point I was mostly angry--angry at this stupid pain and for going through the morphine thing when I could have had the epidural sooner. I was angry, but I don't think anyone could tell the difference between my moans. Well, by the time the anesthesiologist came it was about 12pm. I was even more angry that he wasn't there the second I asked for him. It took about a half hour (maybe less? It seemed like too long either way) to get me all hooked up. He put in the needle wrong the first time which SUPER freaked me out because I started bleeding and feeling dizzy. This only last a few seconds, though as he quickly fixed it and got it right the second time (I guess the first time was just a test anyway...). I didn't doubt my decision (after he got it right) because I knew if I didn't get some rest there was no way I would have enough energy to push.

12:30-5pm: RIGHT! I was right... or, at least as far as I can tell. After getting the epidural I slept for 4 hours straight. I could still feel some discomfort in my lower back, but nothing like before. Sweet, sweet sleep never felt so good! I woke up around 4:30pm and asked to be examined AGAIN without high hopes, but with a much more positive attitude.

Lo and behold I had dilated to 8 centimeters and was almost completely effaced!!! This time I almost cried for joy! Plus the epidural wasn't as immobilizing as I thought it would be. I mean, I couldn't walk, sure, but I could shift around in my bed a little bit. By the time I woke up I could move my legs quite a bit and could start to feel the pain more. They up'ed the dosage but it didn't really make a difference. It didn't matter, though, because it was still better than before.

5-6:15pm: A little after 5pm I started feeling like I wanted to push, but the nurse said I should wait until I was further dilated and completely effaced. I started doing the pushing technique I had been practicing just lying down until about 5:45 when I told them again I really wanted to push. The nurse checked me again and said I was no different but I could start pushing if I really wanted to. I decided I did and within a few minutes she said she could feel Elly's head. Our doctor came shortly afterwards and I kept pushing, making I'm sure the weirdest and most horrible faces Mark had ever seen. Sweet guy didn't even mention it, but I know I must have looked SO WEIRD.

6:15pm: Then, at 6:15 Eleanor Mei Ackerman came into the world crying and beautiful. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen. They put her on my chest right away and I'll never forget the feeling of her cries stopping as she heard the sound of my voice and felt me softly shaking and shushing her. She just looked right up at me, totally calmed down with the sweetest disposition I've ever witnessed. She is one special girl... that's one of the many things I thought to myself then and continue to think every day.

Mark, my mom, and I were all so full of tears. I couldn't believe this little baby had been inside of me this whole time! It was truly incredible.

And now I'm a mom! The mother of a beautiful miracle. I am so blessed.

And that's the birth story. More mushy stuff will come soon :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Attempting to blog.....again? that year went by fast...

I admire people who can keep up a blog starting the week after they have their baby--I am definitely not one of those people. It took me two months to even think about blogging and then another two weeks to start writing something. Of course, I was bad about blogging before the baby (as you can see from looking at the date of my previous post), so whatever.

Well, quick recap: I worked at Macy's in Kaneohe, HI from October of last year to July (a month before Eleanor was due) of this year. At first I was incredibly negative about it, but I really grew to love the people I worked with and it turned out to be a great experience. Elly (aka Eleanor, aka Ella, aka Ella Mei, aka Miss Mei...yeah, i know, it will be a miracle if this girl ever learns her name..s) was born August 10 and Mark graduated August 31. September 2 (Mark's and my one year anniversary) we flew to Utah to stay with Mark's wonderful parents in South Jordan while Mark looks for a job. It was crazy with a huge stop when we moved to Utah as suddenly we had nothing pressing to prepare for. Anyway, I'll write about the birth story later. For now, here's a cute video taken of Eleanor this week... she'll be eleven weeks this Friday! And yeah the quality sucks... we need a video camera or something!