Thursday, May 30, 2013

Time Flies!

Remember how I used to blog frequently? Well, that sure has changed. I'm glad I wrote down my birth story when I did, because otherwise I probably would have forgotten everything. Since that post, I have just been trying to keep up and adjust to life with a baby. It has been a challenge to say the least. I've debated how much I actually want to share. Some things are just too personal, which is probably why I haven't posted for almost a month. 

Side note: Clearly I jumped the gun on my announcement to go private. I am still debating. I don't really post that many pictures anyways, and there are plenty of bloggers with WAAAAY more readers than I have that post pictures of their little ones. What to do, what to do...

Back to the post. Having a baby isn't the blissful experience I had expected. I thought I would connect instantly with my baby, but it's been more of a journey to feel that love and bond with her. I have constantly doubted myself and compared myself to the many friends that have seemed to be head over heels for the babies from day one. I've thought about the pictures and captions I've seen talking about how happy they are and everything seems so perfect and wonderful in their lives. I felt like the worst mother on the planet. At times I have felt emotionless and empty. Other times I have felt beyond frustrated and helpless. 

Ellie hasn't been the greatest eater. The first time I tried to nurse right after she was born, she just screamed and shook her head. They had to use all sorts of tools to try and get her to eat. They tried a drip thing that had formula dripping into her mouth to try and encourage her to suck. That kind of worked. Then they added a shield to the mix. That helped a little more. The last tool was a syringe filled with formula. I would wear the shield while someone would squirt formula into the side of her mouth. She needed the instant gratification. She was not interested in having to work for the food. I felt completely defective (and still do sometimes since I am still using the shield). It also broke my heart to see her struggling so much to eat. She was so hungry and my body wasn't making it easy for her to eat. That first week home was so hard for me. I was so angry because every feeding was like a war. It took an additional person to get her to latch because of the syringe and even when she did latch, it wasn't for long. Then we ran out of formula and I panicked about what we would squirt her with. I started to pump to replace the formula, which did make me feel better, knowing she was now only getting breast milk. But I still couldn't see an end to the difficulties and worried I would never be able to feed her by myself. Luckily, after much determination, I finally broke her of the syringe. I keep trying to break her of the shield but she's not quite ready. I really hope I can break her eventually, the shield is becoming really obnoxious.

My point in telling about the eating problems, is to help explain why my ability to bond and connect with her was hindered. I was told many times that breastfeeding is extra frustrating because it's supposed to be natural but it takes practice. I believed that, but I still thought I would be able to get the hang of it with her without so many tools. In fact, I didn't even know that those tools existed. I thought if I couldn't breastfeed right away, I would have to turn to pumping exclusively or using formula. Even though it hasn't been perfect, I am extremely grateful that those tools exist so that she can get the breast milk, without having to go through the hassle of pumping and warming bottles and storing milk. 

Anyways, I haven't wanted to blog because I like to be honest in my posts, and I didn't feel like I could honestly say that I was loving life with my baby; I couldn't say that I felt so lucky and couldn't imagine life without her, all of which I have read many times on other blogs. I'm sure that sounds terrible, but it's the truth. The baby blues are real, and I have been worried I was going to have postpartum depression. I kept a lot of my feelings in, because I didn't want to be told to go talk to a doctor and get medication. I so badly didn't want to be on medication and feared that I was going to have to be.

One night about a week ago, I lost it. I handed Ellie off to Mathew and shut myself in the closet and just cried and prayed. Mathew got her to sleep and came in to talk to me. Our conversation is very personal, but he asked if I wanted a blessing, which he then gave to me. I don't think I have ever felt such a dramatic change after a blessing as I did after that one. It makes me cry just thinking about it. Things have been completely different since that blessing. I feel so much more joy and happiness when I'm with Ellie. There are still moments of frustration but they don't bring me down like they did. I can honestly say now that I love my daughter and can't imagine not having her. I have been able to bond with her so much more and am looking forward to all of our time together as I watch her grow and develop. 

I hope that whoever reads this can try to be understanding. If I would have read this before I had Ellie, I would have been horrified and judgmental. I have a new perspective now, though. Having a baby is hard and no matter how many people said that to me, I didn't fully comprehend the reality of that. For some mothers, the love for their child comes instantly and without a doubt. For others, like myself, it takes time. I wish it would have been easier for me, but then it wouldn't be worth it right? I'm grateful to be a mom and have a little one to take care of. I know things can only get better. I'm incredibly grateful for Mathew and his unconditional love for both Ellie and me. He has had faith and confidence in me since the beginning, which has contributed greatly to my ability to get through the struggles. Now that things are so much better, I hope to be able to blog more and talk about all the exciting and happy times we are having with Ellie! We love our baby girl, for real! :) 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ellie Diane Williams

We officially have a new member to our family! Sometimes it still seems so surreal that she is actually here. I pretty much just sit and stare at her all day. I guess since birth stories are the thing to do, I will share her story.

Wednesday, May 1 was my due date. Leading up to that day, I hadn't had any obvious labor signs. I kept walking every day like usual hoping I would get things going. At 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, my eyes shot open. I was having a contraction. I laid there for a bit and another one came along. I was so stoked. Maybe I was going to start labor soon. I went into the bathroom and wiped blood. I have never been so excited to see blood before. I got back in bed and timed a couple contractions just to see. I honestly don't really remember the specifics but I do remember them being about the right length and close enough together to get me excited. I tried to tell myself that it was probably just pre-labor and to not get my hopes up. I got back to sleep but was in and out experiencing contractions until about 6 a.m. I was really bummed when it all just stopped, but I just went about my day like normal, looking forward to my doctor's appointment that afternoon.

At 12:45 I picked Mathew up from class so we could go to my doctor's appointment. The doctor and I had a little chat about what would happen if I didn't go in to labor on my own and why it would be wise to induce before too long. I was still hopeful that I would go into labor on my own but was to the point where I accepted the possibility of needing an induction. He offered to strip my membranes to help things get going naturally and I gladly accepted. I was so not prepared for that pain though. It was so uncomfortable! Apparently I was dilated "closer to a 3" at that point. (I had been at a 2 for the previous two weeks). I was so bummed. I was really hoping that those contractions I had were really helping. The doc sent me in to get an ultrasound to check the fluid and the placenta. I was kind of beyond excited to see our little baby again. I had them check to see she was in fact a girl and sighed with relief when it was confirmed. No need to return anything, yay! All looked good on the ultrasound, but they still hooked me up to the NST monitors. That is about the most boring experience ever. She wasn't cooperating no matter what they tried: pushing her around, juice, etc. and her heart rate was low-ish, but the doctor decided everything was okay and she was probably just really sleepy.

They set an induction date for May 7 and sent me on my way. My doctor's last words as he set the date were that he had an inkling I would be back in sooner. We got home and ate lunch and the contractions started coming. At first they were about 7 minutes apart and lasting at least a minute. I got up and walked around to test them and see if they were real. They kept going and got closer and closer. I went upstairs to finish packing the hospital bag and they were at 2 minutes apart. I was freaking out. I sat back down to test them again and they stopped. We just kind of hung around the house waiting until 8 o'clock when we went to Mathew's brother's apartment to watch Psych. I had a few really strong contractions during the show, but they were far apart so I didn't think anything of it. I decided she just wasn't coming until another day. On the drive home, we hit a few bumps and I was shocked at how painful and strong the contractions were. When we got home, they kept coming but didn't get much closer until about 10. That's when things really started moving. Each contraction was really strong. They were starting to take my breath away. We were timing them and they were 4 minutes apart and lasting 1-2 minutes. For some reason, I still wasn't convinced it was really labor.

After an hour, I finally called the hospital to see what they thought I should do. She said since I wanted to go natural to just stay at home if I wanted, but they would definitely check me if I wanted to go in. She ended with "sounds like we'll be seeing you soon." I told Mathew that we would leave at 11:30 if I was still contracting consistently. By 11:20, I was way beyond calmly breathing through my contractions and was yelling. We frantically grabbed everything again (I had decided it was okay to unpack-stupid!) and got in the car. Of course as soon as we started driving, my contractions stopped, but then the biggest one hit me and I could barely sit still.

When we got to the hospital, I waddled slowly up to the door, only to discover it was closed for the night, so Mathew ran back to the car to pick me up, and we headed to the emergency entrance instead. I got checked in and turned down the wheelchair to labor and delivery. I swear that was the longest walk ever and I was embarrassed I had to keep stopping to get through my contractions.

So I got all strapped up to the monitors and got checked. I was at a 5! However, baby was under a little stress because I was dehydrated so they got working on getting an IV going. Since she needed monitored for at least 20 minutes, I was forced to sit in bed. Worst thing ever. I was having back pain along with my contractions that didn't subside between contractions and I was so unbelievably uncomfortable. The nurse also said I was having couplet contractions, so I was getting a second contraction as the previous was fading. No wonder I never felt like I got a break. She also bummed me out by saying they usually weren't as effective at progressing labor. I was so discouraged. Finally, after a while, they managed to get a monitor that I could be strapped to and still get up and move around, but by that time, I was in so much pain from sitting that nothing seemed to help me get through a contraction without screaming. I kept saying to the nurse that I was sorry I was the screamer in the building haha.

With each contraction, I cried to Mathew that I didn't want to do it anymore without an epidural. I also caught a glimpse of the heart rate monitor during a contraction, and her heart rate had dropped to 68, so I was freaked out. He stayed strong and kept telling me I could do it, just like I taught him, so I kept going. I had to pee and that's when I lost it. The pain from sitting was absolutely unbearable. When the nurse came in I told her I wanted the epidural. She checked me and I was at a 6. I barely managed to sign the paperwork. After she left to get the anesthesiologist, I was back sitting in bed and had a death grip on Mathew's shirt and was screaming and crying and thrashing. When the anesthesiologist came in, he tried to talk calmly to me but I could tell he was concerned about me being able to hold still enough, with good reason. They sat me up and I curled over the side of the bed. I was absolutely terrified and almost changed my mind, but somehow I was able to stay very calm and focused. After the epidural was in, he admitted that he was concerned for me and was impressed at my control. If only I could have had the control before! The epidural was a very low dose and I was still able to feel a lot, which I was really happy about.

They checked me again after it was in at about 1:30 I think and I was at an 8. Seriously? That fast? Then at 2:00-ish, they checked again and I was complete. I was shocked when she said that. I had been there for two hours and was ready to push. Well, the only bad news about that was that I had Strep B and needed antibiotics in my system for 4 hours before she could come out. By the time they got the antibiotics from the pharmacist and hooked up to my IV, it was only 1:00, so I had only been treated for an hour. I prayed that somehow we were going to be able to keep her in long enough. The nurse and I both said before we knew I was complete that we were hoping the epidural would slow things down since I had been progressing so fast. When I still had three hours of needing to be treated, I was extremely grateful for the epidural. I had to resist pushing for an hour, which was pretty difficult with an epidural.

So, at 3 a.m., the nurse came in and we did a few practice pushes and then when my next contraction came, we pushed for real. It took a few contractions before I really figured out where to feel my pushes, but I finally got it. I kept pushing and we kept hoping that time would go quickly and I would get all my antibiotics in. She had me resist pushing every now and then, which wasn't hard until about 4:45. At that point, when I had to resist, I was shaking. Mathew did so good to keep me as calm as possible. Some pushes I had to resist to slow things down, and others were because the nurse kept losing her heart rate. I started to get really scared that something was wrong with the baby. The heart rate was so hard to find and sometimes I couldn't hear it at all. The nurse assured me all was fine, but I still couldnt help but worry. At 5 a.m., I was officially treated and the doctor was on his way. I couldn't believe I was about to have my baby here. I pushed until 5:23 when my baby finally came out. It felt like forever before they finally put her on me. I just cried, I was so happy and relieved. Apparently, the cord was wrapped around her neck twice, and it's kind of a miracle that she didn't have any problems. She was perfectly pink and screaming just like she should have been. During my entire stay at the hospital, every nurse that came in my room kept saying she had a really stressful delivery. I didn't really realize how stressful it was for her and that she is a little miracle. She is an incredible blessing.

 In my preparation for labor, I prayed that I would be inspired during my labor and be able to make the right decision on epidural vs. no epidural. As badly as I wanted to be able to labor naturally, I know that Heavenly Father made it hard enough for me that I felt the need to change my plan. Had I waited any longer, I may have been too far dilated to be able to get one and I would have had to resist pushing without any sort of pain management. I don't think I could have handled it and she may have been born without being treated. With all the stress that she went through and with the cord being wrapped around her neck, the worst thing would have been for her to come out without me being treated. That epidural may have saved her life. I know that might be a little dramatic but you never know and I feel strongly that the epidural was necessary for her safety. I'm so grateful that she made it here safely and that I have a beautiful little baby to snuggle. It's been extremely difficult from day one. She has had major issues feeding but we almost have them all worked out. She is a precious little angel and I love her so much.

 I look terrible in this but it's still our first family photo!
 She loves having her hands by her face. I also think this is the sweetest picture of Ellie and Mathew. He is the absolute BEST dad ever!
And she hated the car seat!