The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mother Nature has a twisted sense of humor

I'm going to give it to you straight:

Breastfeeding is HARD and anyone who tells you it isn't is either deluded or just a boldfaced liar.

It doesn't help that we had an 11 lb. baby. From the get-go I've been behind the 8-ball. In the hospital her blood sugar was low so they recommended we supplement her with formula right away because colostrum probably wasn't going to do it enough to keep her out of the NICU. And since then, my poor breasts have been fighting an uphill battle.

More than one person has made the joke in the past, based on my well-endowedness in the breast area, that my babies would never starve! No one apparently accounted for the fact that I would have an enormous baby...

It's a constant battle of supply and demand.

We went to a lactation consultant yesterday though, and she said that we're doing everything right. The main concern is just to work hard to keep the supply up. So I'm trying things like fenugreek and "Mother's Milk tea" to help too.

I was able to finally buy some nursing bras at the lactation center. They are cup size "G." Yes, G as in "ginormous."

Cruel joke number two courtesy of Mother Nature:

I'm already starting to forget how tough pregnancy was, especially at the end. It's all I can do to remember the trouble I had doing chores while 9 months pregnant, scrubbing the toilet and the shower with a giant baby-filled midsection in the way. I'm forgetting how hard it was just to roll over in bed, or get in and out of the car, or, pretty much anything with the world's most achy breaky pelvis. My brain is starting to think, "Oh well, maybe it wasn't that bad?"

And this is why the human race has persisted.

40 ml. to Freedom

Q: How much does an 11 pound baby eat?

A: A lot. More than you think. More than you've heard. More than your friend's baby ate. More than your baby ate. More than logic dictates anything that small should eat. Way more than 40 ml. but I just can't pass up a good Sublime reference.

Here's what our baby is like (apart from being adorable, cuddly, sweet-smelling, soft and occasionally sleepy). For those of you who've seen LOST, you'll get this analogy. The rest of you can probably skip ahead a bit (as in this entire entry).

You know in Season 2 of LOST, how Desmond lives in the hatch for three years pushing the button every 108 minutes? And at the two-minutes-to-go mark, he starts getting the friendly cash register beep sound signaling that it's time to input the numbers? And at ten-seconds-to-go, the friendly beep turns into an ominous buzzer type sound? And when the clock runs out, those freaky hieroglyphics pop up and there's that something-wicked-this-way-comes sound of a horrible, horrible thing that's just about to happen? And then the world ends?

Our baby is like that. She sleeps (when she sleeps) for periods of up to four hours at a time. When she wakes up, she's all smiles, making the occasional "I need to eat" gesture. Do not let this fool you. Get as much milk or formula into her as quickly as possible. If you do not, within two minutes, the sleepy-smiley baby will turn into what would sound to the untrained ear to be a vaguely annoyed baby. You do not know how close to the end of the world you are at this point. You now have less than one minute to get a bottle into that mouth or it's

time. If you ignore the previous two warnings, she will begin to let out such an ungodly shriek, you will swear that someone has just set upon a pillowcase full of kittens with a blowtorch. If she is anywhere near your head, your ears will ring for a period of several minutes to an hour. This shrieking will continue until you place a bottle in her mouth. If you're able to get the bottle into her mouth within about fifteen seconds, the screaming may subside and you may, in fact, have bought yourself 108 more minutes of peace. If you do not, the world will end. Which is to say, you will spend the next three to six hours trying to get her calmed down and back to sleep.

I maintain that God sent us this particular baby because He thinks we can handle it. But right now, after two weeks I feel like it's already been three years. If John Locke showed up right now, I wouldn't wait to see if he got the snowman riddle correct. I'd be on my sailboat immediately.

Just kidding, I love my daughter to death and most of this entry has been exaggerated for comic effect. Except the screaming. Oh, god, the screaming. I don't think I came close to doing it justice.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. Stay tuned for our next exciting installment wherein I detail Claire's first bath and how she ended up dirtier when she came out of the tub than when she went in!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Birth Story

This is a long one, so get ready!

Thursday, July 2, we went to the doctor to have the aforementioned NST and ultrasound. We had the same ultrasound tech we had for the last two appointments, which was nice because she remembered us.

We were really excited to see Baby Girl again! It was a little difficult to get all the measurements the tech needed to make an accurate assessment of our baby's size because of the way she was positioned, but she managed. Finally she brought up the calculated results, and said, "You guys are going to kill me..." And I said, "Why?" And she said,

"I have this baby measuring at 11 lbs. 3 oz."

After we picked our jaws up off the floor, we got some printouts of the heartbeat and a one-more-time verification that we were having a girl (!) and we went to the NST. It was uneventful, thankfully. And then we waited to see the midwife.

When the midwife came in (she was the same one we saw last time who formulated a "plan" because I didn't want anyone else to try to change course) she had quite a look of astonishment on her face. She immediately stated that because of Baby Girl's size she was going to have to counsel me on having a primary c-section. Not only would it be inadvisable to try push out an 11 lb. baby, we'd have no idea if I'd be successful and if I wasn't, I'd end up needing a c-section anyway. It would also be very stressful on the baby, and could cause shoulder dystocia or other birth complications. I was okay with the c-section, and I agreed that it would be the safest course of action for all involved. After a few phone calls to the hospital scheduler, we made arrangements to have the procedure on Sunday. Finally, we knew for sure when Baby Girl would be here! The midwife checked me for dilation/effacement but said that nothing was going on still, so at least we had a plan.

My mom and dad had come to our house a couple of days before to stay with us until the baby was born, so we went home to tell them of the news. Craig called and let his family all know. We made plans and waited.

Friday morning, July 3rd, I woke up around 5:30 am (like usual) and stumbled off to the bathroom. When I wiped I discovered I had lost a large mucus plug. I had lost one on Wednesday as well, but this new one was bloody. I didn't panic because I knew that was something I could expect to happen. I felt a little crampy, like I had light menstrual cramps, but it seemed like nothing to be alarmed about, so I went back to bed.

The rest of the day, I had light bleeding, like a spotty period. And then the cramping started getting more intense. It was very low in my pelvis, and at some point I thought I should start trying to time how long it was in between moments of real discomfort. When I timed it I realized they were almost exactly 20 minutes apart. Then they were 14. Then they were 10. Then they were 15 again. Not exactly regular, so I figured I could just keep an eye on it.

I went outside to talk to mom and dad for a while on the back patio. When I got up about 15 minutes later, I had a sudden urge to use the bathroom. I felt some kind of warm "leakage" but when I checked, it looked just like a tablespoon or so of the same kind of discharge I had been having all day, or maybe just a little thinner. I thought maybe it was just an effect from sitting in the sun too long. I went and took a shower. When I got out, I laid on the bed and started timing the cramping again. 14 minutes. 8 minutes. 10 minutes...

At this point I was starting to get concerned that I hadn't stopped bleeding all day, and Craig shared my worries. But because (in typical fashion) it was after the doctor's office hours already, I had to call and speak to the triage nurse. While we waited for a call back, Craig ordered some pizza for dinner for everyone. The nurse called me back, and I explained the situation. She said she would get in contact with the on-call doctors at the hospital and let me know what they wanted to do. But in the meantime, she told me, don't drink or eat anything. So much for my delicious barbecue chicken pizza...

When the nurse called back she said that the midwife (the same one who saw us the day before) was on call and she wanted me to come down and just get checked out to be on the safe side. So Craig and I left mom and dad to the pizza, and went down to the hospital to get me checked out.

I had a hard time getting out of the car at the hospital because of the pain. They were waiting for us at the front desk, and took us to the triage room. I got undressed and into a gown, hooked up to monitors, and we waited. The nurse said, sure enough, I was having contractions! When the midwife came in, she checked my dilation (3 cm!) and said my water was broken! They did a little litmus paper-type test just to make sure, and then said, "Okay, you're having this baby tonight!"


And then a flurry of activity began all around me. Suddenly there were 4 or 5 nurses in the room, each doing some thing to get me ready to go to surgery! I told everyone they had to wait a minute while I called my parents so I could get them to the hospital asap. We also hadn't brought anything with us because we were expecting I would just come down to get checked and then we'd go right home. I had no cell phone reception, so one of the nurses tried to help me use the hospital phone to call my dad. Meanwhile, I had a nurse on my left trying to (unsuccessfully) insert an IV catheter in my arm. I was trying to tell my dad what was going on while she was doing it, and I'm sure it came out with a lot of "OW OW OW" in it but she just wouldn't stop while I was trying to talk! When she finally realized it wasn't working, and went for attempt number two I asked her to just hold up one minute while I finished on the phone before she attacked me again. Honestly, the pain of her trying to get that done was probably the worst thing about the whole experience!!!

With my parents called and everyone getting me ready, they wheeled me to a suite where Craig was already waiting for me. They had decked him out in scrubs by now (he looked so cute!) and he had a look of nervous excitement on his face. The flurry of activity continued around us, until the doctor came in. He and the midwife were the same team that were originally scheduled for our c-section on Sunday, so he told me I messed up because I was supposed to bring him an omelet on Sunday morning!

I looked at the clock, and it was 9:45 pm. They said they were trying to get me into surgery by 10:15 pm. The doctor explained the procedure, explained about the anesthesia, made sure I was comfortable, and went to get ready. He said in less than an hour from then, our baby girl would be here!

The nurse anesthetist came in and introduced herself, and explained what to expect from the spinal. And then we waited until they said they were going to wheel me out to the OR. My parents didn't make it there in time to see me beforehand, and the nurses told Craig he would have to wait to come into the OR until the spinal was done, but they would come get him.

They rolled my bed into the OR, and asked me if I could get up on the table myself, which I was able to do. I had to sit on the edge of the table and wait. At this point I started shaking, which they told me was normal because of the temperature of the room and the IV fluids I was receiving, so they got me a warm blanket. When the anesthetist came in, they told me to drop my head down, slope my shoulders and arch my back, and that the worst part was going to be the injection he had to do to numb the area. Sure enough, that thing burned like crazy, but they told me to count down from five and it would be done. I did, but it came out like, "Five OW four OW three OW..." And then a few minutes later I felt the slightest little nerve pinch which must have been from the spinal catheter, and then we were done! My legs started getting heavy, and they laid me back on the table.

From then on I let them put me into position (like I had a choice!) and waited for the anesthesia to work. My feet started disappearing, which was really, really uncomfortable to me because I wanted to move them so badly! They put up the big blue sheets so I couldn't see my bottom half. Then they gave me a nose tube of oxygen to breathe, and warned me that my chest would feel heavy, and it may feel hard to breathe, but that was normal. They let Craig join me and he sat by my head. I asked him to rub my hand because my fingers were tingly, maybe from the oxygen.

The doctor came in and they confirmed my name and what I was there for. He said he was pinching my abdomen and asked me if I could feel it, and I said, "No." I really couldn't feel anything! Not even pressure of what they were doing. Hooray for spinal anesthesia! And then they got started...

The rest of the procedure happened quickly, and it was kind of a blur because I felt so lightheaded. I remember them saying they saw me have an enormous contraction while I was on the table, and they couldn't believe how pushed out my abdomen got! I remember them having to get out footstools to stand on so they would be at the right angle where they could deliver baby girl. Then they asked Craig if he wanted to watch her be born, and with uncertainty in his voice he quavered, "Uh...okay?" and peeked a little over the sheet. (The nurse told him if he needed to sit, his chair was still behind him!)

And then she was out! They asked me if I wanted to see her and I said yes, so they lowered the sheet a bit and passed her in front of me. I saw a bluish, wet, baby-shaped mass fly by, and then the nurses had her.

Then I heard her! The lungs on this child! She was certainly breathing, but she was not happy about it. Craig was back and forth trying to watch them with her, and worrying about me. They let him cut her cord. Everyone exclaimed that she had a lot of hair, and they were all eagerly taking bets on her weight. Everyone knew she was no 7 lb. baby for sure!

11 lbs 11 oz! 5300g. What a big baby! I'm so glad I had that c-section!

After that I believe the nurses had gotten my dad's camera from the waiting room, so there were pictures to be taken. They put her close to my head, and Craig huddled in, and I was crying from the excitement and the relief and WOW look at that beautiful baby we made! I could hear them still putting me back together on the other side of the sheet, but I was otherwise mentally occupied...

They let Craig take her back to the room while they finished up my stitches, and then they helped me onto another gurney and told me how great I had done. When they wheeled me back into our room, I was exhausted. I was still shaking from the anesthesia, but I was ready to hold my daughter!

My family came in. My parents were there as well as my younger sister and her husband. Everyone was excited to meet our new little baby, Claire.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Welcome, Claire Marie Collin!

Claire Marie Collin was born at 10:38 PM on July 3rd, 2009. She weighed in at a whopping 11lbs, 11oz and was 19.5 inches long. She and Kathy are both doing very well.

Note: we have tons more to share... when we get a free moment, there should be a few more stories forthcoming.