Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Arwen's Birth Story: The Delivery

The one thing I said through my whole pregnancy was that I didn't want to have a c-section.  It wasn't that I wanted to be a hero and have Arwen naturally and without medication: I didn't want an epidural because I was scared of the needle and what the medication might do to Arwen. I hoped perhaps I could go without the epidural, but I was realistic in my expectations--if I needed it, I would do it.  I figured that if the pain was bad enough, I wouldn't care about the needle. The major reason that I wanted to avoid a c-section was because I wanted to be able to hold Arwen right away.  I wanted her to be able to nurse as soon as possible.  And I wanted the experience, too, I guess, since I knew that Arwen would most likely be my only biological child.

In the last weeks of my pregnancy, when I started swelling and my blood pressure started creeping up, I had to go in twice a week for monitoring.  My blood pressure never got into the danger zone, but it was always close.  Arwen, though, was always perfect! She passed every test with flying colors.  When I got to the point that I was going in once a week, I was hopeful that I would be starting to progress, that I might be dilated at least a centimeter.  Uh, no.  Every exam was the same--NO progress at all. In the end, my doctors let me go until my due date, but that was it. We were told to report to the hospital by 5 pm on Saturday, July 23, and they would start the induction process. No one, including me, thought it would go very well because I hadn't progressed at all. My doctor warned us that the induction could take up to two days. Well, that was WRONG! With the first dose of Cytotec, I was told that they would check me again in a couple of hours, and if nothing was happening, I would get another dose.  And, the nurse told us, it was likely that I would need at least one more dose. To everyone's surprise, when she came back, I was having contractions, so no more doses.

I had to be on the monitor the whole time, so no walking around, no trying different positions, no birthing ball. I could get up to go to the bathroom, but that was about it.  Jay and I caught up on True Blood (much to one nurse's dismay who came in as we had the computer paused at an inopportune moment on the show--I'm sure she thought we were serial killers!) to pass the time.  On one bathroom trip, I stood up and felt a little gush.  I told Jay I thought my water might have broken, but I wasn't sure, so he called the nurse.  By the time she got there, I was sure--about the time I got to the bed, I had that big gush like you see on tv!  At this point, the doctor started pitocin.  Of course, then the contractions got really bad really fast. I still wanted to avoid an epidural if I could, but I was already hurting so bad that I couldn't stand it, so I talked to the doctor and decided to take a dose of stadol to try to get me through a little longer. The doctor assured me that the medicine would have worn off by the time Arwen was born and there would little, if any, effect on her. The stadol allowed me to rest and relax for a while and, as a result, the next time the nurse checked me, I was at a 6.  Once the meds wore off, the pain was more than I could handle, so decided I had to have an epidural or I wasn't going to make it. I couldn't get out of bed anyway because I was on constant monitoring, so that argument was moot. We explained how terrified I was of needles and the whole idea of the epidural, and the anesthesiologist was so understanding and just amazing that I did great.  Of course, I don't even remember the whole experience now, and then, I was hurting so badly that I really didn't care.  

The next thing we knew, I was complete and ready to push. That was some time Sunday morning, maybe around 7 or so.  My whole labor process was about 12 hours total, but most of it is a total blur. While I was in the stirrups, my doctor asks, "Have we ever told you that you have a really small pelvis?  And that you may have trouble delivering?"  Um, NO, they hadn't, and mid-pushing was not the time to bring it up.  I loved my doctors (still do, in fact!), but maybe I would've handle the whole debacle better if I had know ahead of time what might happen.  I wonder, too, if maybe there was something I could have done to help, to loosen my pelvis.  I wonder a lot of things, but what's done is done.  

When Jay and I went for our Lamaze class and hospital tour, the instructor had shown us all an internal monitor that in some cases had to be screwed (yes, I said "screwed") into the baby's scalp.  It looked like some kind of medieval torture device, and I so hoped we wouldn't need it for Arwen.  I should have known. I wasn't making much progress by pushing, and the doctor was concerned that the process was putting to much pressure on Arwen, considering my small pelvis (who knew that anything on my body was small???).  So, she pulled out the medieval torture device. I tried to push a couple more times to no avail, and the doctor said that Arwen was not handling it well, so she said we had to do the c-section stat. I cried and cried. I wasn't tired, I wasn't hurting, I felt like I could do it. It was my worst nightmare come to life. Everything happened so fast that I never had time to fully digest it all. I wanted someone to show me what was happening with Arwen, to explain everything to me so that I could understand, to prove to me that the c-section was necessary, but there wasn't time. I would never risk Arwen's safety, so I didn't argue.  I was beside myself, though.  I cried uncontrollably, and poor Jay did his best to assure me everything would be ok. The fact that he had to leave me while they took me to the OR and got me prepped didn't help.  They strapped my arms down (which I HATED), but at least didn't have to cut off my rings (I was afraid they would--they were stuck on due to the swelling).  

I don't remember much about he delivery.  I remember the curtain, and seeing Jay bring Arwen to me and kissing her and talking to her.  And I remember crying pretty much non-stop.  I remember asking if she was ok, if she was healthy.  I remember Jay trying is best to calm me down.  Jay cut the cord, which was what I wanted, but he had said he didn't want to, so that was a nice surprise.  I told Arwen that I was her Mommy and that I loved her. Then they took Arwen to the nursery.  Jay went with her, so that was comforting, but again, I just really wanted to hold her and bond with her. Since I had the c-section, I was in for some additional surgery to remove a cyst from my ovary, so, of course, that meant it would be even longer before I got my hands on my baby.  Soon enough, though, I was out cold, and when I woke up, it was only a few minutes before I was able to see her and nurse her. 

I was so disappointed about the c-section, but I was so happy that Arwen was here and healthy. That's all that mattered.  For a long time, I cried every time I thought about Arwen's birth.  I felt like a failure because I couldn't deliver her naturally. I guess I still feel that way sometimes. I don't think about it as much now as I used to, but when I do, it is still upsetting.  I probably always will be, to some extent.  In some ways, I feel like I let Arwen down. But she's here, and she's healthy and beautiful and perfect, and I love her and she loves me.  That's really all that matters.  Like I said before, I wonder sometimes if there was something I could have done to change the outcome, like maybe chiropractic or yoga to stretch my pelvis.  I wonder if things would've turned out differently if I had been allowed to go into labor on my own rather than having the induction. And even though I trust my doctor, and I know she did what was best for Arwen and me, I still sometimes wonder if the c-section was really necessary.  Once I was back in my room and settled, my nurse told us that she was so happy that my doctor had ordered the c-section.  She said that she had seen babies with shoulders displaced and worse in similar situations.  I knew, logically, that she was right, but it was, is, still hard to accept.  Still, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, that it is all God's plan.  Maybe if I hadn't had the c-section and had the cyst removed, I would've had some kind of serious complications from it.  Maybe if I had tried 
to have Arwen vaginally one or both of us would've been in jeopardy.

In the end, my healthy, intelligent, beautiful little girl was born at 8:04 AM on Sunday, July 24, 2011, weighing 6 lbs, 14 ounces, and 20 inches long. She has brought such joy that I can't imagine our lives without her. She has completed our little family. She is truly a blessing every day, and we are so thankful for her. She is Mommy's baby, Daddy's little girl, and 
Bubba's best friend. Happy first birthday, Arwen Rose Perry. We love you!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Arwen's First Perry Easter Egg Hunt

Ok, all.  Here's some advice.  DO NOT try to compete with my in-law's Easter egg hunt.  You will be sorry.  Remember, this is just a family event--not like a church-wide hunt or anything.  Just the grandkids. We hid 250 eggs.  Yes, 250.  5 grandkids X 50 eggs each = 250 eggs filled with candy.  Let me tell you, hiding the eggs is a chore, and we were thankful for good weather this year so that we didn't have to hide them in the house again, but I'm confident that the real chore is stuffing 250 eggs. And my in-laws are painstakingly careful about making sure that all of the kids get equal amounts of candy, so I imagine this takes them hours to do. In addition to stuffing the eggs, they have also marked the eggs with each child's initial so that there are no mix ups or hurt feelings.  My grandchildren, if I am blessed enough to have any MANY, MANY years from now, will probably not be this lucky!! Ok, some more advice--when hiding 250 eggs, make sure that you note WHERE you hide the 250 eggs.  This may require a detailed map and some tedious marking as you hide, but if you do not follow this advice (we never do), some lucky person (in our case, PawPaw) will be finding plastic eggs full of melted chocolate in the yard for weeks to come! 

So, to properly conduct a Perry-style Easter egg hunt, first, the kids must hide in the house, preferably upstairs in the playroom where they cannot sneak peaks out of the windows.  Second, the parents must hide the eggs in locations of varying difficulty around the yard.  If you are like my husband, you may take this approach: make an effort in hiding the first eggs (say, 10, 20, 25, depends on his mood) and then simply toss the remaining eggs randomly around the yard.  Don't toss them too hard, though, or they will pop open and spill their precious, chocolate contents! If you are like me, you will probably make an effort hiding all of the eggs and be the last one finished hiding because let's face it, it's hard to find 250 perfect places to hide Easter eggs!

At this point, you are ready to call the kids. Have them line up... 

and then go with the traditional "Ready, Set, Go!" (Or, if you are a Perry male, throw in a "Ready, Set, Stop!"or two to really get them wound up!)

With this number of eggs, expect to have your child stopping to count multiple times to see how many eggs he or she has left to collect.  Also expect to have to help your child find the ones that you hid too well.  Do not be upset or aggravated about this: remember, this problem is, technically, your fault.  Being too good at hiding Easter eggs is not really a positive. Oh, and this is important, while the children are finding the eggs, and you have a short (very short) break, begin planning your excuses for why you will not hide the eggs again.  It is good to work with the other parents on this one: you know, safety in numbers, a united front, and all that.  If you have a baby in the family too young to hunt, this can work in your favor: have the kids hide the baby's eggs.  You will have to go find them, but you will get a break in between, and this can be a trade off for your refusal to hide the eggs again (it worked for us--next year, we won't be so lucky, though!) 

You may also want to set aside some time after you child goes to bed to scope out his or her candy-hiding spot so that you can sneak some treats. After all, it is not healthy for kids to have so much sugar, so you are really just being a good parent when you do this.  Just try not to overdo it, or your child WILL catch you and may employ a candy alarm in the future (ala Grant Perry).

If you fail to follow my advice and try to recreate this Easter egg hunt with your family, please note that 50 stuffed eggs will not be sufficient. You will also need to supply each child with an Easter basket full of treats, including their favorite candy.  This year, Granna used mini utility totes from Thirty-One, which was brilliant.  The boys were camouflage, and Arwen's was floral.  These totes were the perfect size and now can be used as a great storage container for toys in the kids rooms, in the living room or den, or even in the car.  

After all is said and done, if you are the lucky grandparents hosting this event, send the kids home full of candy and excitement, sit back on your couch and relax or lie down for a nap--I personally would go for a nap, but it's really a matter of preference--and giggle to yourself about how much trouble your children will be having calming the grandkids down for the night and pat yourself on the back for another spoiling job well done! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Arwen's Birth Story: Telling Jay

Ok, I don't know how long it will take me to do this, but my plan is to do a series of posts telling Arwen's birth story from the BFP (Big Fat Positive!) to her much anticipated arrival.  So, here's my first installment: Telling Jay....

It really all started, thanks to Wakefield, on the day Jay and I got married, July 26, 2008.  On the way home from the reception (yes, the RECEPTION), Wakefield asked me, "So, do you have a baby in your belly now?"  Apparently someone (not us) told him that once a couple got married, they had a baby.  Well, he took that quite literally and fully believed that, once the ceremony was over, a baby would suddenly appear in my belly!  Love that kid!  Anyway, I would have been all for starting right away, but with our marriage came a lot of changes--I moved away from my house and my family, left my job of ten years, became a wife and a step mom, all basically overnight.  Plus, we were renting a house from Jay's parents and trying to sell mine in SC, so financially, there was no way for us to afford a baby.  And, to be entirely honest, Jay wasn't 100% sold on the idea of having another baby.

After what seemed like forever, we were finally able to sell my house in SC (thanks a lot, terrible housing market!), and in the summer of 2010, we bought our house.  At that point, I was ready to move on the baby front, and I drug Jay with me kicking and screaming. I went off the pill before we even closed on the house and started using ovulation tests.  I knew that getting pregnant wouldn't happen over night, but that didn't make it any less disappointing each month when nothing happened.  After trying all summer and early fall, I was getting frustrated.  I guess it was only-child syndrome kicking in, but I was getting impatient (shocking for those of you who know me, I know!).  So, around September-October, we started backing off and taking a "whatever happens, happens" approach.

When our family birthday season rolled around, I didn't think there was any way I could be pregnant. Jay's birthday was on November 6th, Mom's on November 8th, and I was feeling fine.  Completely normal.  No nausea, no nothing.  My pants seemed a bit tight, but that's not all that unusual in my world, and I figured it would be too early for me to be gaining any weight from a pregnancy.  Then my birthday rolled around on November 16th, and I was late. Never in 34 years had I been late, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.  I mean, there was VERY LITTLE chance that I was pregnant, so I figured it was just a fluke.  I decided to wait until that Saturday, the 20th, and if I hadn't started, I would take a pregnancy test. I got up early Saturday morning (Jay was still snoring away), and no period, so I took the test.  First time in my life I had ever taken one, and way before the three minutes were up, it read "pregnant."

I did a quiet little happy dance in the bathroom, got ready, and crept quietly downstairs and out the door. I had always known how I would tell Jay I was pregnant: I was going to buy a Carolina onesie and give it to him.  Not very original, I know, but I felt it would be perfect for us.  So, I headed off to Wal-Mart, hoping Jay wouldn't wake up before I got back.  He didn't. I ended up buying a little 3-6 months Carolina sweatsuit that I felt like could work for a boy or a girl, on the outside chance we had a girl (ha, ha!). I came home, put the pregnancy test in the bottom of a gift bag, the outfit on top of that, and covered it up with some tissue.  Then I started trying to get Jay up.  I thought I would never get him downstairs!  He didn't want to get up, couldn't figure out why he needed to come downstairs--man, was he cranky!  When I finally got him down to the kitchen table, he was barely awake and very confused by the gift bag on the table, as his birthday had already passed.  When he pulled out the baby outfit, he wasn't quite awake enough to put it all together and just had a puzzled look on his face.  "There's more," I said, and he reached in and pulled out the pregnancy test. When he read it, his eyes bugged out of his head, and his mouth fell open.  It was complete disbelief!  After it all sank in, I asked if he was happy, and he said yes, at which point, I promptly burst into tears!

Eventually, Jay made me take another test "just to make sure," and it was positive, too, so we made a doctor's appointment.  Jay wanted to go to the doctor and have them do a test, "just to make sure" (do you see a pattern here?), but when we went in, they pretty much said that OTC pregnancy tests today are extremely accurate, so they just proceeded on the assumption that I really was pregnant--much to Jay's dismay.  I'm not sure he was entirely convinced until we had our first ultra-sound, but at that point, there was no doubt, we had a little Perry on the way!

We told my mom first, on my insistence--Jay wanted to wait, but I was freaking out about every little twinge, so I wanted her to know so that I could ask her questions and calm myself down.  We took Wake to the beach over Christmas break and told him while we could have him one-on-one to answer any questions he might have.  The three (well, I guess, technically four) of us went out to dinner, and Jay broke the news.  We weren't sure what Wake would think about the whole thing, but I have never seen him smile so big! He was so excited, and that made us all the more excited! We told Jay's family on Christmas Eve and the rest of my family on Christmas Day.  As a matter of fact, we drove to SC in a snowstorm so that we could share the news with my family. In hindsight, not our brightest idea, by the way, but we made it.

It's hard to believe that on that day when I told Jay we had a baby on the way that Arwen was only about the size of a poppy seed.  Look at her now!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Let's Blow Something Up, Daddy!

The Wakester is in third grade, so this year was our first foray into the world of science fairs.  Individual participation for third graders this year was optional, but Jay felt that it would be a good experience for Wake, so he told him he had to at least compete at the school level.  Wake, of course, didn't want to participate at all, but Jay did a pretty good job of getting him on board by talking up all the different experiments they could do.  Wake really wanted to do a volcano (he got one for Christmas a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it), but Jay felt that wasn't original enough (quite true!) and encouraged him to do something else.  Well, Wake just wanted to "blow something up!"  Thus, our Acidic Reactions science fair project was born.

The goal of the project was to see what acid would cause the greatest reaction when combined with baking soda.  The boys looked at lemon juice, bleach, soda water, cola, and vinegar.  Wake learned what kind of acid was in each of those liquids, and his hypothesis was that the soda water would cause the greatest reaction "because it was bubbly." Then he learned that the bubbles were caused by carbonation. Jay bought him some test tubes, safety goggles, and a mask, and they got to work.  In the first round of tests, they found that lemon juice actually caused the greatest reaction.  Wake really enjoyed doing the experiments, and his daddy really enjoyed going over the top in designing his presentation board.  This is what happens when Daddy is a graphic designer....

In Jay's defense, he did ask the teacher if he could help Wake with the board (she made the mistake of saying yes), and Wake did pick out the colors and pictures for the design.  So, it was Wake's idea, Daddy just helped with the designing and printing part! :)

When Wake got to school with his project, the teachers were very disappointed that he had not chosen to compete at the county level should he place at the school level, so he and Jay decided to go for it.  Jay helped him get together the research paper he needed to turn in (most of which was already done to meet the school level requirements), and they entered.  Wake ended up placing second in his school (the only third grader to place--go Wake!!) and went on to the county competition.  He didn't place there, but he did get an awesome medal to go with his cool trophy! We were all very proud of all of his hard work, and we can't wait to try it again next year!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mommy, You've Been Holding Out on Me!

Arwen is all about some fruit, just like I knew she would be!  We started out with applesauce for breakfast with some cereal either mixed in or mixed with breast milk when I had enough extra.  Arwen liked the applesauce pretty well, but she prefers it without the rice cereal. We went for prunes next.  I personally wouldn't eat prunes if my life depended on it, but Arwen was a bit clogged up from all the new food, so I knew we had to give them a try.  Luckily, I didn't have to feed them to her--that fun job went to Daddy and Grandma! Oh, and they worked, by the way! Ha, ha!  Apparently she liked them pretty well.  (Per my earlier post on Beech-Nut vs. Gerber, I have to get Gerber prunes--Beech-Nut doesn't have them, at least not in Stage 1).

After the prunes, we went on to bananas, which were a HUGE hit, as were pears. Up next will be peaches, which I expect Arwen to go nuts over, but I tried oatmeal with her tonight because I felt like she was probably tired of the rice cereal, so we will have to try that for a few days before adding in the peaches.  I'll probably try oatmeal with applesauce in the morning and see what she thinks.

So, now Arwen is eating fruit and cereal for breakfast (or lunch, depending on when she gets up for the day--she's like her mommy and likes to sleep in!) and two veggies and cereal for dinner.  This has really affected my pumping schedule.  When I first started back to work, Arwen was taking three bottles while I was at work, so I got up at 6 and nursed her and then pumped before going to work, then pumped twice at work. I was blessed to have a dear friend, Deidre Westmoreland, agree to teach my class during her planning period for about 15 minutes EVERY DAY, so that I could pump at around 9:30.  Then I was able to do my last pumping session during my planning, so I was only disrupting one class.

Since Arwen has started solids, I've been able to drop the before-work pumping session, and I don't have to do the planning period session every day either.  Arwen quickly went from three bottles while I was gone, down to two bottles, and now to usually only one.  Basically, she's spaced herself out to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Luckily, I have an inclusion class third period this semester, so the EC teacher that helps me out watches my kiddies while I pump.  At some point, I'll have to do a post on pumping at work.  It's not fun, but it is doable, and I'm glad I've been successful with it.

Sweet Potatoes, Squash, and Carrots, Oh, My!

Well, little Arwen is moving right along on the whole solid food front. Mommy is handling it slightly better these days, but it is still tough.  I started off making homemade baby food.  We decided to try sweet potatoes first since everything I had read suggested them as a first food, as did the doctor, so I just picked up a couple of sweet potatoes at the grocery store.  When we got ready for our first sweet tatie meal, I cleaned up one of the sweet potatoes, dried it, and wrapped it in saran wrap.  Then I poked it with a fork several times and popped it in the microwave for about five minutes (time varies, of course, depending on the size of the potato).  When the potato was fully cooked, I peeled it and pureed it in my food processor (see below--just a regular food processor, not a special, high-priced baby food processor).
Image found here.

Since Arwen was just starting with the whole solid food thing, I added some breast milk to make sure the consistency was smooth enough.  Arwen loved it!  I should have known she would--I mean, a sweet potato? She is my child, you know! Ha, ha! 

I kept on with the homemade baby food for a few days, but when we were ready to move on to the next food, I realized that my lifestyle really wasn't conducive to making homemade baby food.  Jars of baby food are just too quick and easy.  Does this make me a bad mother?  Maybe, but it works for us, and Arwen seems just as happy with jars as fresh. We are using Beech-Nut Homestyle Stage 1 vegetables: sweet potatoes, squash, sweet carrots, green peas, and green beans. 

Image and more information on Beech-Nut baby food found here.

I've been getting these jars 10 for $4.50 at Bi-Lo, and if you by $15 worth, you can usually get an extra 20 cents in fuel perks. The Gerber Stage 1 vegetables are usually 10 for $10, but they come two to a pack, but I like the Beech-Nut glass jars better than the Gerber plastic packs for what is probably a stupid reason: when I peel the top off of the plastic packs, I always sling baby food all over myself!  Not a problem with the glass jars, so glass jars it is! (Well, except for prunes, but fruits will be another post.)

After three or four days of sweet potatoes, we tried squash.  Arwen wasn't a huge fan at first, but when I went back to them later after she had tried all of the the other Stage 1 veggies, she liked them just fine.  We've also been through carrots, peas, and green beans, all of which she has enjoyed.  I think carrots are probably her favorite. 

It's amazing how quickly Arwen has mastered eating.  We had zero issues from the start, which I attribute to our waiting until 6 months to start solids.  She has really gotten speedy over the last couple of weeks, too!  I usually give her two veggies for dinner along with rice cereal when I have extra milk--I don't stress about it if I don't because I figure the veggies are the most important, and she's still getting her primary nutrition from breast milk. And on that same note, I always nurse her before feeding her solids.  The veggies and cereal are just extra--not a replacement for breast milk.  Eating solids has had an effect on my pumping schedule, though, which I'll discuss in another post. 

We are on to fruits next.  I know Arwen is going to love them--I hope that she will still eat her veggies after she discovers sweet fruit!  Like I said, she is her mother's child!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rice, Rice, Baby!

Ok, forgive the less than original title.  I was traumatized by the event that lead to this post, so my creative juices weren't exactly flowing.  Tonight (January 22, 2012), Arwen ate her first bites of rice cereal. She did great and was happy as a clam. Me? Not so much.  I know this was just one of many steps she will be taking away from being dependent on me, and I'm not handling it so well. Arwen was exclusively breast fed for six months, so the idea that she can now rely on someone besides me for her nutrition is just about more than I can handle.

My mother, of course, has wanted Arwen to start on rice cereal for months now, but the recommendation now, especially for breast fed babies, is to wait until the six month mark. I guess technically we went a couple of days early, but Arwen's six month doctor's appointment was scheduled for the 23rd, and Jay and I decided it might be good for us to try the cereal with her before the doctor appointment so that we could discuss any issues with the doctor (the doctor had cleared her for cereal at four months but was 100% behind our waiting until six months).   I knew Arwen was ready to start solid food--she was staring at us every time we ate, grabbing for food and silverware--but it was still nerve-wracking.  Jay, of course, demanded to give Arwen her first bites of cereal (and rightly so!), and she was just tickled about it.

I'm mixing the rice cereal with breast milk, and that is causing me a little anxiety, too, since I will need a couple extra ounces of milk for that purpose every day.  Right now, I pump three times a day: once in the morning after I nurse Arwen and before I go to work, and then twice at work.  Pumping has gone really well (I was terrified at first that my milk would dry up), but I pretty much get exactly as much as I need--no extra.  So, anyway, it is a concern.  But hopefully, it will all work out.  Breastfeeding has been successful for us so far, and I would like to continue at least until Arwen is a year old.

Next, we will start with stage one vegetables.  I plan to try to make my own baby food, but we will talk to the doctor tomorrow and then see how it goes.  My baby girl is growing up!