Monday, October 29, 2012

Penny's Birth Story Pt. 2

I'm not one of those women who look fabulous while giving birth, but these pictures are really special to me. Thanks, Kal, for  sticking with me the whole time. 

When the nurse said I was 8cm, I started to cry uncontrollably--partly in joy and partly in fear that I was too late for the epidural. I could barely talk, but I managed to ask "does this mean I can't get the pain meds?" Everyone laughed but I was dead serious. I wanted relief. NOW. The nurse said she would check. As they were getting me hooked up to the monitors the contractions were coming faster and stronger. Truman was rubbing my feet with eucalyptus oil and my mom was holding my shoulders tightly. I finished breathing through a contraction and the nurse said "are you sure you even want the epidural? You're doing so well with your contractions." I contemplated forgoing the meds for about a second (mainly because I was terrified of the needle) but I decided I still wanted them. 
 The anesthesiologist was really sweet and soft spoken. I told him how terrified I was of the epidural and that he was going to have to talk me through each step. I get really chatty when I'm nervous so I asked a million questions. He was patient with me and answered every one. Most of them being "will this hurt?" Thankfully I was already in so much pain the epidural didn't hurt at all. The only painful thing was having to sit still through the contractions. I'm surprised I didn't break Truman's hand in the process. My legs slowly started to get numb and the contractions were becoming bearable. I could still feel when I was having a contraction, but it was pressure instead of pain. It just felt good to be able to get a break from the constant pain. (Hints the smile in the picture below).
 After I got settled into bed I begged for music to calm my nerves. I had made a labor playlist, but wasn't sure if I would even care about music amidst all the chaos. The music and massage oil ended up being my best friends. They couldn't get the ipod hookup to work in the room so we had to blast it from my laptop. When it started, I immediately felt my body relax. The entire mood of the room changed. Things were familiar-- it didn't feel so cold and stressful. My nausea even started to subside. The worship songs especially brought me back to the miracle that was occurring. I was no longer focused on the pain and intensity of labor. I could soak in the last few moments of pregnancy.

"September Grass" by James Taylor came on and I remember closing my eyes and faintly sighing "ahhh, James." The epidural had slowed the contractions a bit and allowed me to slightly relax (as much as one can relax during labor, anyway). Whenever I feel anxious, I use heat to calm down so I plugged in my heating pad and hugged it tightly. The nurse was skeptical of that and eventually took it away because it was too hot...woops. My good friend, Alyssa, and sister-in-law came to the hospital and it was a wonderful surprise. It was a big help to have loved ones hanging out in the delivery room. It kept my mind off of the fear of delivery and made the time go by faster.
 We were sitting silently when this loud buzz came from the monitor. It was one of those sounds that you know means something is wrong. The nurse came back and noted that Penny's heart rate was dropping significantly during my contractions. She didn't seem too alarmed and said as long as the heart rate was coming back up she was okay. The rest of labor was kind of a blur. I was at 9cm at about 1:00am and the on-call midwife showed up. P's heart rate was dropping lower and lower and I felt a sense of urgency come over the nurses. The buzzer continued to ring over and over like a broken record and my stomach started to turn. At 2:00am I was at 10cm and they put an oxygen mask on me (not sure why). The midwife decided to call in my actual OB due to the concerning heart rate. They did a good job of hiding their urgency, because I wasn't aware of it at the time. My mom had to explain to me later how worried they were. 

As I watched the numbers drop on the heart rate chart I started to get tears in my eyes. I asked for my bible so I could focus on prayer, but the second I cracked it open my OB showed up and was ready to get things going. Nurses started to filter in and prepare for delivery. A few were from NICU in case there was an emergency. My epidural was wearing off on my right side so my mom had to continue rubbing it through contractions again. Once it was time to push there were about 15 people in the room...I was oblivious. They had me try a few pushes and I couldn't feel a thing--it was wonderful! Because of Pen's heart rate, they wanted to get her out quickly by using the vacuum. The nurse, midwife, my OB, Truman, and my mom were all surrounding me as the pushing began. My adrenaline kicked in and the nurse was counting through each push. With all of the encouragement, I felt so strong. They attached the vacuum and started to pull her out. It popped off loudly and I freaked out because if that happens 3 times you have to resort to a C-section. My OB re-attached it, I gave one more big push and my world stopped.
 I had my eyes focused on my stomach and I watched P slowly leave my body. It was the strangest feeling I have ever experienced. This giant bump just disappeared. It felt like my stomach was getting sucked out with the rest of it. I got scared, grabbed the sides of the bed and whimpered "oh my gosh." Out came this purple, beautiful, bundle of Truman and I. She cried out and I cried out. What a relief it was to hear her tiny little voice. Truman grabbed me and I could barely mutter "she's so beautiful". 
 Truman cut the cord and they let me hold her for a few seconds before they had to check to make sure everything was okay. The OB said the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice which explained the low heart rate. Truman went with her while they started my repair.

 She held his finger the entire time. It was a special moment for him :) I am so, so thankful I had the epidural. I ended up with fourth degree tearing so it was a real blessing that I couldn't feel a thing. Make no mistake, labor and delivery was still incredibly difficult, but I'm glad I was able to enjoy the experience.
Everyone left so we could enjoy the first minutes alone with our baby girl. It took a while to digest what had just happened. After watching me in so much pain, Truman decided I could choose the middle name. I was kind of thinking he would :) So I chose Emerson. We were in disbelief that she was finally here. That we made her. That she was healthy.
 She hugged my chest as I breastfed her for the first time and we sat quietly listening to the remains of my playlist. Content and filled with joy. Thankful that the day we were dreaming of for 9 months was finally here. I felt so tough--amazed and shocked that I actually did it and survived. I turned to Tru and said "I could totally do this 4 or 5 more times" only half joking. His eyes got wide as he tried to decide if I was being serious :) He said "we'll talk about that later..."
 I am so madly in love with our little family. These past four weeks have been harder than I could have imagined, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I love being a mom and Penny is already teaching me so much. I rock her at night with tears in my eyes as my understanding of Christ's love grows. He died for her. This tiny little life. I feel so lucky to get to teach her about Jesus and watch her learn about His love.
I'll hold onto these moments forever...and probably have to re-read them when she's 16 and complaining about her curfew :) Our lives have been changed for the better and I can't wait to watch this little one grow.

Praising Jesus for His many blessings,
Thursday, October 18, 2012

Penny's Birth Story Pt. 1

I have been putting off writing Penn's birth story because 1. I'm scared my lack of writing skills won't do it justice, 2. the only time I have to do it is when she's napping and if I want to stay sane I have to make myself nap, and 3. I'm not sure what the birth story "etiquette" is on sharing too much. However, the longer I wait the more details I forget so here I go...

At 38 weeks I felt pretty good so I was certain that P was going to wait a while to greet the world. We decided to do some last minute maternity pictures with our friend, Micah, on the evening of October 2. I was feeling unusually nauseous that night but chalked it up to indigestion. I hadn't been sleeping well the last month of my pregnancy and I didn't get to bed until 3:30am that night. I woke up at 5:00am to pee with some pretty strong lower back cramps that I hadn't felt before and when I went to the bathroom...well, let's just say signs were pointing to the fact that labor was near. I screamed (in fear and excitement) and Truman came to see what was wrong. All I could say was "I think it's happening!"

I figured manageable back cramps weren't even close to the pains of labor so I assumed I had a ways to go. Truman went to work and I decided to go over all of my laboring information just in case. Throughout the morning my cramps were getting increasingly stronger and coming every 10 minutes apart. I was still certain that they weren't real contractions, though. I called my mom to give her a heads up and she suggested that I call the doctors office to let them know what was happening. I was hesitant to do so because I didn't think I was in active labor. When I called, the nurse said to head to the hospital. That felt so final! I said "are you sure? water hasn't even broke yet." The nurse probably thought I was an idiot for questioning her. She reminded me that it didn't matter and said to get there anyway. Part of me was sad because I had plans of laboring at home for as long as I could. I didn't want to spend the entire process in an uncomfortable hospital room. So I called Truman and took my time packing the hospital bags.

We got to the hospital around noon and they hooked me up to a monitor and checked me. The nurse couldn't even feel my cervix so she had me speed walk the halls for 30 minutes to get things going. The contractions were getting much stronger and coming every 5-7 minutes. I was hopeful that we were making progress, but when she checked me again she felt nothing. At this point I was in quite a bit of pain when the contractions hit. Truman had to massage my back through each one. They sent us home at 4:00pm and said it could still be a few days before I was in active labor. The thought of enduring these contractions for a few days was very discouraging and I worried that if I could barely handle these "fake" contractions then I wouldn't survive the real deal.

My mom was certain that I was in labor so she called to say she was on her way. I remember telling Truman that she shouldn't be coming so early because she was just going to have to turn around and go home. The contractions were only getting worse as we got home and I spent the next few hours crawled up on the couch with my mom massaging my back, feet, legs, etc. (She was amazing.) I was browsing through Pinterest to distract my mind from the pain and I came across a pin from my friend Brigette. It was a photo that said "Keep calm, you may be weak, but God is strong." I didn't think much of it at the time, but when the next contraction hit I found myself chanting "I am weak, but He is strong" over and over again. I stopped talking as the contractions got stronger, but that continued to play through my head.

It was about 8:00pm and my contractions were 2-4 minutes apart and lasting a little less than a minute. My mom kept saying "you're in labor, babe" but I was still convinced that I wasn't. I decided to try a shower and bath and though they slowed my contractions down, I started to feel nauseous (which is what I was mostly terrified of). I laid by the open window with about 30 minutes of relief until the contractions started up again. This time they were consistently 2 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute and 20 seconds. I couldn't speak through them. The only thing that worked was to breath steadily in through my nose and out through my mouth. I was starting to whimper and moan as I clenched the couch cushions and Truman suggested that we go back to the hospital. I refused because I didn't want to get there and get sent home again. Plus, I was in so much pain that getting into a car seemed impossible. It took them a while to convince me, but at 10:30pm I gave in and we started to pack our things again.

I started to cry as I got into the back seat. I couldn't do it anymore. I was in so much pain and the thought of them telling me it wasn't active labor made me hurt even worse. Truman looked into the rear view mirror and noticed I was crying. I could see the pain in his eyes--I don't remember what he said, but he was trying so hard to encourage me. They took me to the ER entrance and ran to get me a wheel chair. I was embarrassed that they were in such a rush because I was still under the impression that this wasn't the real deal. I was trying to control my sobbing as the nurse wheeled me up to the fourth floor. I didn't want them to think I was a wimp.

They got me into a bed and the nurse came in to check me. This was the moment I feared. Not only does checking your cervix hurt like hell (pardon my french) but I was terrified that the nurse would say "you're 2 centimeters!". I squeezed Truman's hand really hard (he commented that he didn't realize I was that strong) and braced myself for the bad news. "Oh, you're 8 centimeters!" she said with a surprised and slightly panicked voice. Truman, my mom, and Kali started to cheer with excitement and I bawled like a baby. My water broke immediately when she checked me and it finally hit me that I was going to be meeting my baby girl soon.

To be continued!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

{Penny's First Week}

The first week was difficult. We were getting 1-2 hours of sleep each night and I couldn't get around very easily. There were lots of tears shed, (90% hormonal) tears of joy and frustration. Truman and I couldn't stop saying "I can't believe we made her!". The most challenging part has been the breastfeeding. Before, Penny was born, I couldn't wait to breastfeed. The concept was so beautiful to me- God created my body to nurture my baby. I was so excited to bond in that way. Plus, all of the videos I watched made it look so easy. Once I found that it's not as easy as it looks, I was incredibly discouraged. It hurt, she wasn't latching on correctly, and we were both getting frustrated. It was my first "failure" (of many to come) and it was hard not to feel like a bad mother. Thankfully the gals at Milkworks have helped us and we are making progress...the little gal even slept 6 hours total last night!

Coco meeting Penny for the first time. She didn't know what to think. But she has adjusted now.
Daddy already has her watching motocross.
She loves to be tightly swaddled. That"s the only way we can get her to sleep.
Her favorite spot is on our chests, mainly daddy's. He has the magic touch when she's being fussy.

Being cuddled by Aunt Ash and Aunt Kal.
Always has a hand up by her face. She was like that in the womb.

Though the first week was rough (which, honestly, I anticipated) I am so full of joy and content. I am soaking up every family snuggle in bed, every adorable little sneeze, every unintentional smirk, and every cry because she just wants to be held. This girl has forced me to slow down and just enjoy. And I love her for that.

My favorite moment so far was when we were all snuggling in bed. She was starting to get fussy so we put her on Truman's chest and played "Great God Bird" by Sufjan Stevens. Trums was singing along and it put her to sleep instantly. That song means so much to the both of us because we listened to it a lot during our first year of dating. We laid in bed and spent hours talking about memories from the past. I felt so thankful at that moment and so amazed at God's perfect plan. The song isn't recorded on any of his albums so we have to listen to YouTube.

You can listen to Penny's current playlist here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

{Maternity Photos}

At 38 weeks I decided last minute that I wanted a few photos of my tummy before it no longer existed. Thankfully our talented friend, Micah Unruh, lives close by and agreed to help us out. Little did I know that 24 hours later I would be preparing to deliver our baby girl! Though I miss the big belly and all of the little kicks and hiccups, I'm so happy to be feeling them in my arms instead.

{38 Weeks}

Goodbye, big and beautiful baby bump. I hope to see you again soon (but not TOO soon).
Working on that birth story...
Friday, October 5, 2012

Penny Emerson Faeh

 The last 24 hours have been indescribable.
I stare at my sweet girl in disbelief that she is really here-- that she was snuggled in my stomach just the other day. My deep and instant love for her has made God's love for us much more real.
 We are completely smitten with this little one and can't wait to take her home and start our lives as a family of 3.

"For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well."

-Psalm 139: 13-14

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