Monday, February 22, 2010

One Month Old Already?!

3.5 weeks old3.5 weeks old

4 weeks old

One month old today

I can't believe how quickly one month has gone by!

Caleb is doing great and for my lack of posting, I'm still catching up on sleep. (I don't remember being this tired at one month with Elijah though Ethan was not in school yet and we were living in a small apartment, so there was a lot less to clean, etc.) All else is well though. Tomorrow is Caleb's one month checkup and they will draw blood again to check his bilirubin and CBC panel.

I can't imagine there will need to be any intervention at this point, but they have to follow up on him. I am guessing he weighs 10 lbs. already based on weighing him on our bathroom scale.

He has now has a full set of eyelashes (so neat to see them growing longer each day) and a receding hairline. His head started peeling the other day and with that, his hair started thinning on top. I don't remember this happening with the other boys, but I'm sure it's not a concern.

We're still waiting for an intentional smile and the chance to see his double dimples in action. For the most part, I'd say he's a happy baby, though like most babies, he prefers to be held over being set down and we're usually happy to oblige. He is co-sleeping with us like our other boys did, but we have a small pack and play he can sleep in when I need him too. He has such big eyes and I love seeing him stare up at me. He is such a blessing and I'm trying to memorize every detail of his baby-ness.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lovingly Made and Written

Yesterday I received a package from Bethany, a blog reader and faithful friend, though we have not met in person. Inside was a beautiful handmade blanket for Caleb, but it was her words especially that warmed my heart.

Dear Rachel,

Praise God for the birth of your precious son, Caleb. He is the fruition of the earnest prayers of many saints and the evidence of the grace of God. As he learns and grows, you will share with him the story of another precious little one, who is also evidence of the grace of God, tainted with sorrow and grief though it be. Felicity will always be a part of your family and for this we rejoice. Because the very joy that is evident in her name reveals the joy she is existing in even now, and the joy that is promised to all who cling to Jesus, even though we cannot taste it fully until the day that we are with Him forever. This is why I wanted to include Felicity and Jeremiah's initials in Caleb's blanket. (The F upside down looks like a J.) They are just as much a part of his history as Elijah and Ethan. Caleb will always remember, just as we do now.

Much love,
Your sister in Christ,

"Let me hear joy and gladness...let the bones that you have broken rejoice." Psalm 51:8

Monday, February 8, 2010

Caleb's Birth Story.....Finally!

First bath
All photos at 9 days old

We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. on the 22nd as directed. A nurse checked us in and showed us to the birthing room we’d be using. She went over my information and chatted for a bit. Over the course of the day, she was the first of three nurses we’d see as the shifts changed.

I had to change into the hospital gown and get hooked up to a monitor. It was such a relief to hear Caleb’s heartbeat throughout most of the day. Normally I’d have been all for minimizing interventions during labor, but the monitoring was important to me because of Felicity’s death. Overall, we were incredibly pleased with how the hospital handled our birth.

The OB on the floor came in to talk with us about how the day was going to progress and the perinatologist also came in to discuss things. (He was the doctor who did our original consultation with Maternal Fetal Medicine back in July, but since then I had not seen him at any of my appointments.) They wanted to start off with a dose of cytotek, which would help to ripen my cervix. I was still only a cm dilated. Depending on how ready my body was for labor that might be all I needed. Otherwise, I could receive up to four doses of cytotek (four hours apart) and then proceed with pitocin to really get labor going. We’d just have to see how my body handled everything.

I was hooked up to an IV due to be Group Beta Strep positive. I needed to have 4 hours of penicillin prior to Caleb’s birth, which is actually a five hour process because there needed to be an hour between the two doses. The first dose of penicillin was really uncomfortable; it felt like it was burning my arm as it went into my vein. After the initial dose of the cytotek in my cervix at around 8 am, I began having light contractions after about 20 minutes. The nurse said this was pretty unusual. The contractions continued to be light for a couple of hours, but then started to increase in frequency. Slowly they started to increase in intensity too, but I was able to handle them easily. The doctor checked me sometime after 12:30 and I was dilated to 3-4 cm and with very little discomfort from the contractions. Because the contractions were coming so frequently at that point though they couldn’t give me any more cytotek OR start me on pitocin. We were excited by the thought that I might not need anything further to really get labor going. I was restricted to a clear fluid lunch (beef broth, jello, sherbert type stuff, and juice), though I cheated just a little.

I tried to do more movement after eating lunch at about 1:30, but it was kind of hard due to the cords from the monitor and the IV, not to mention the hospital gown wasn’t covering a whole lot. So I paced and stood in one place and moved my hips back and forth. I also rocked in a rocking chair. The contractions continued to pick up both in intensity and frequency. Finally at close to 2:30 as I was standing and swaying back and forth, I felt a weird sensation, like something was stuck and then not. Right away I felt my water dribbling out. What I had felt was the amniotic sac move through my pelvis and break. My parents arrived just then and I continued to leak more and more water. Soon after that I moved into active labor.

I’d say within about 10 minutes the contractions were getting hard to get through regardless of my position. My back was aching during each one despite Paul applying counter pressure. I had back labor with Ethan (my first) and it is not fun. This wasn’t quite as bad, but it was bad enough. I tried sitting in the rocking chair, leaning against the hospital bed on a pile of pillows, and finally I got onto the bed because I was starting to worry that if I didn’t move soon, I eventually wouldn’t be able to.

During this point in labor I was thinking of Felicity. I was remembering my labor with her and how intense it was, though at the time I didn’t know she had died. I was also thinking of all my grieving mommy friends. I thought about all of them that went through labor (or c-sections), knowing that their babies had died. I was struggling to get through labor and all the while I could hear Caleb’s heart beating away on the monitor. I could only imagine how incredibly painful it must have been to labor in physical pain while being in so much emotional anguish knowing your baby was gone from this world.

At about 3:15 (I’m not totally sure of the exact time) I was in a hands and knees position on the hospital bed, leaning on a pile of pillows, when I began to feel “pushy.” I said so and the nurse called the doctor, but both the perinatologist and the OB on call had been called down to the OR. So they sent in the midwife on call, who just happened to be the midwife who caught Ethan 7.5 years ago. (I wasn’t too fond of her back then; she just isn’t very friendly and does not have the right demeanor for being a midwife.) She checked me and said that I was dilated to 6. This was SO hard to hear since I was feeling like I might need to push. I got upset and told them I needed something for the pain. I was exhausted and the contractions were right on top of one another or so it seemed to me, not to mention the pain of having back labor. Both Paul and my mom encouraged me to keep going, but I was at my breaking point.

My dad finally had to escort my mother out. (My mom and I have a great relationship, but I’ve learned to set definite boundaries when she can’t deal with decisions I’ve made. I love you Mom, but you understand this part of our relationship!) I moved to sitting on the edge of the bed, while they went to get me a shot of morphine. To my knowledge (I was pretty unaware of anything but the pain at this point), Paul and the nurse were the only ones in the room. I sat on the edge of the bed for a few contractions before feeling the urge to push once again and harder at this point. I said I needed to push and the nurse quickly called for the doctor or midwife. I moved back onto the bed all the way and then another contraction hit. I think the perinatologist just made it into the room and to the bed, when I pushed. Caleb came into the world with that single push at 3:55 pm. I never even felt him crown, it all happened so fast.

He was put on my chest and we all marveled at his small, perfect body. It was pretty obvious by just looking at him that he was my smallest baby. We called my parents to inform them that he had arrived and they came back to the room. The doctor had to take him back after a few minutes to suction his mouth and nose. This process took a good 5-10 minutes. I couldn’t see him too well, but Paul was right next to him and everyone was telling me what was happening. I had already delivered the placenta, without much effort. It was then that it all hit. He was alive! He was okay! I asked if the cord had any issues and the OB said it was fine. I started to cry thinking of all we had been through in the last 15+ months. I cried for Felicity. I cried for my grieving mama friends. I cried because I was happy and tired and had a beautiful baby. Finally he was back in my arms and then nursing! I thanked God for being merciful and allowing Caleb to be born healthy and alive.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Busy Happy Mama

Sorry for my lack of posting. It's not because things are going poorly. In fact, they're going really well. Sure I could use some additional sleep, but other than that I can't complain.

Caleb's bilirubin levels were normal when I took him to the doctor on Monday. They don't need to check him again until one month of age. He's looking and doing great! No more prayers needed on the "poop front." We're good. Seriously, you can stop praying now! Because of his Hemolytic Disease (which is the medical name for what he's dealt with), he still needs to be monitored until about two months of age, unlike other babies just dealing with jaundice which for them typically peaks by the seventh day of life. I'm not sure if I explained that before or not.

We're adjusting to life with a baby - how it affects parenting other children and homeschooling Ethan, but we're all happy to make whatever adjustments needed. Elijah has stepped up to the plate of being a big brother. Sure, he still has his moments, but for the most part I'm really impressed with how he's handling his new role.

I'm loving my little men more now that Caleb has entered our lives. I think about Felicity often as well, but haven't felt any overwhelming grief since Caleb's birth. I just look at him and trust in God's plan for our lives.

And yes, I'm still working on that birth story. Maybe it'll be ready to post this weekend?