Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things I’ve Learned From My Daughter -- Written By Laura

Well, Kayleigh’s been here now for just under 4 months, and already she has taught me quite a bit! I thought it might be interesting to share some of these droplets of wisdom…

I’ve learned that birth is a really hard thing to witness. Who am I to complain, I didn’t have to do it! But in all honesty, being the partner in the experience is not easy either. I spent most of that evening nauseous, as I had extreme difficulty watching Bel suffer for so long without being able to offer her any relief. It was rough. I just wanted the pain to stop for her. In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad, but by the time the pushing came, it was pretty hard to take. I just wanted to move to the good stuff. I also thought I was going to get punched eventually, for being so annoying. The entire time I found myself repeating the same things over and over every time a contraction came – “You’re doing great! You’re almost there! You’re past the worst part, it’s letting up…” Blah, blah, blah. All useless garbage that started to annoy me. Bel later admitted that she wasn’t listening to the words, just the soothing sound of my voice. I guess that’s how I escaped a beating! Under normal circumstances she probably would have told me how annoying I was.

I thought I knew exhaustion… I was wrong! Or maybe I’m just old. I remember back in the days of college, being able to stay up 2, maybe 3 days in a row before coming to a complete collapse. Not anymore. It’s a strange existence to spend all of your days running on empty. I’m glad we finally got through it! I can’t count how many times I thought I might die if I didn’t get at least a little bit of sleep. In the end, it has all worked out, and I am a much more rested person.

I have learned that there is nothing better than a baby’s smile. Wait, scratch that. I had thought there was nothing better than a baby’s smile, until the first time I watched Kayleigh throw her head back and giggle. That was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was! She looked like such a little person.

I have learned that I make a lot of noise! I guess I kind of already knew this was true, as Bel is always quick to point out how loud I am, especially when she’s trying to sleep. But I didn’t realize how loud I was until I was trying to quietly sneak into the room with Kayleigh sleeping next to us. Yeah, I am loud. I’ve since tried to learn the art of “stealth walking”, but it’s definitely a skill I could use more practicing! Interestingly enough, before Kayleigh’s arrival I always thought our floor wasn’t too creaky. I now know where all the squeaky spots are, as I learned the hard way by trying to put Kayleigh to bed and inadvertently stepping on all of them!

I’ve also learned a thing or two about little miss Kayleigh… She likes the guitar, she enjoys lullabies and music. She has an octopus that I’m pretty sure she thinks is her best friend. She enjoys trying to cram her fingers into her mouth, and rubs her eyes often, which certainly sends Bel and me into a panic! She’s great at blowing spit bubbles. She is a little princess already, and has no trouble telling you when she’s a little aggravated. And today, Kayleigh discovered something new – her tongue! She is sitting here making all sorts of noises and finally using her tongue to change the sound. She’s going to town with it, too!

I can’t wait to see what Kayleigh turns into over the next few years. I think she’s going to be a pretty interesting little girl!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Birth Story -- Written by Bel

A lot of people have asked me about Kayleigh's birth experience & I've never really had the ability to put into words what it was like, nor have I really tried to explain it before. Don't worry - I will leave the REALLY gory details out of it.

Kayleigh was due on Monday, February 2, 2009. She was ready to come out, but I wasn't ready for her to. I was actually terrified of the whole labor & delivery process. Until the doctor started talking about induction. We had an appointment on the 2nd, and
the doctor scheduled an induction for the following week for if she hadn't been born yet. Once that was set up, I guess I decided that I was ready because I went into labor the very next day.

Around 1:00pm was when the first twinges of contractions started. At first, I wasn't sure they were really contractions at all, but by 5:00pm, they were in full swing & that's when I called Laura at work. So what do you do when you realize you're in labor? What anyone else would do - take a shower & make a giant mesquite steak dinner with baked potatoes (so much for a light meal!).

Since I wasn't sure if I wanted to get the epidural, I wanted to labor for as long as I could at home so that I could stay mobile & more comfortable. Once they give you the epidural, you're pretty much tied to the hospital bed & can't move around anymore. My biggest fear was that the epidural wouldn't work & then I'd be in horrible pain & stuck in bed. And since moving around was really helping me get through the contractions, I REALLY didn't want that. To add to the stress of everything, we were in the middle of the biggest snowstorm of the winter, so timing was going to be everything. We didn't want to leave too early & get sent back home in the snow, but we didn't want to get there too late for the epidural, in case I decided I wanted it.

At 2:00am, after over 12 hours of labor, we decided to leave for the hospital. We were hoping to be at 3cm when we got there so that they would admit me & I was really happy to find that I was already at 5cm! Woo hoo, halfway there & we were admitted at 3:00am. Most of our families were in the waiting room by 5:30am, little did they know we still had a long haul ahead of us.

At around 8:00am is when I finally gave in to the epidural. Even though I was in a lot of pain, I was still afraid of it - I didn't want to be completely numb, I just wanted to take the edge off. But I also didn't want it to not work at all - I have heard plenty of stories where the epidural did nothing for the woman's pain. Also, there's the whole giant needle in the back thing, which I wasn't looking forward to, especially since they were going to make Laura leave the room. But I guess I thought I was in enough pain to ask for the epidural. And wouldn't you know it - my worst nightmare came true. My right leg was completely numb. Like, dead, motionless, I cannot move it numb. So now I was definitely stuck in this bed for the duration. And NOTHING else was numb. It did nothing for my pain, whenever the nurse would pinch me to see if I could feel it, I could feel it. Except for my right leg. So if the baby was going to come out of my right leg, we would have been set.

Right after the epidural, the nurse said she was leaving for a minute & when she came back we could start with the pushing. But then she was gone for almost 2 hours and a new nurse came in - I don't really know what happened there. So around 10:00am is when we started the pushing with a new nurse.

At first it was overwhelming, mostly because I couldn't hold my breath long enough to push for as long as they wanted me to. And because when you're pushing, you can actually feel the baby moving down & out and it's scary because you're not sure if your body can actually handle it or not. But once I gave myself over to it, it got easier & I was less afraid. It was just a matter of will at that point.

When we got to the crowning part, they told me to stop & there was a mad rush of people into the room. There was at least 3 doctors, an intern doing his OB rotation, a group of nurses & a nursing student. I felt like I was becoming some kind of sideshow act. Especially when one of the doctors put on a splash guard over his face. I kid you not. I even made a joke about it to him.

I don't know if I can explain what the actual moment of birth is like. I think it is unexplainable. I've heard many, many women telling their stories, and none of them compare to what it is like to actually live it. We all know that the head comes out first, but you can't explain what it is like to see that & to see her little face being suctioned when she's not even fully out yet. And you don't even know that she's a she yet!! And that minute or so in-between, while you're waiting for the final contraction to push out the just seems like an eternity. All along, you've been fighting the contractions because they are so painful and here you are, impatient for the next one to come. And when it does...I can only describe it as an explosion. Literal, emotional, physical. You feel your body give out. There is an eruption of fluid & blood. It is a burning pain like you have never felt before in your life. And the weight that you have been carrying around this whole time is now magically...just gone. I think my friend Sarah put it best when she said that you feel hollow - There is nothing but flappy skin left where your baby once was. Like the quote, you can almost feel your heart leaving your body. And then they announced that she was a girl, which was shocking because I was so convinced that she was a he. They put this bloody, gooey little thing on you that is screaming because she doesn't know what just happened. And the moment that your eyes connect, there is a wave of emotion that is simply inconceivable. Her little eyes, swollen from being smushed down the birth canal, look right into mine & you can actually feel the instant connection between the two of you and everything else just disappears. I had no more awareness of what was going on around me in that moment & no one else was even in that room full of 50 strangers. It was the quickest, longest few minutes of my life. We've all seen women crying at that moment, and I knew I would probably cry. I just didn't think it was going to be that unstoppable. I thought it would be like every other time I've cried - I thought I would feel it building up and eventually the tears would come. But it's not like that at all - you literally can't control it - it just happens to you. There is no warning, there is no buildup - it just overtakes you.

When they took her away to clean her up a little bit is when I noticed all the blood and the rush of doctors around me. It was quite an overwhelming amount to be honest with you. The doctors were covered in it, I was covered in it - It actually looked like something out of a bad horror movie. The guy with the splash guard - not as funny anymore. I see his point. Thank God I was somewhat disconnected from it all because if I was fully aware of what was going on, and that it was all my blood, I would have started freaking out & would probably have passed out. And luckily I was so focused on Kayleigh, I only heard fragments of what the doctors were saying: "Pretty bad tear", "We have to stop it", "Move quickly".

Thankfully, all I could focus on were her little feet sticking up in the air as the nurses surrounded to tend to her in the layette. The little feet kicking, toes spreading, her little raspy cry, and the almost daunting feeling that I am responsible for another human life. I just gave birth. I am a mother. I can do anything now.