Thursday, August 11, 2011

Precious moments

No, not the figurines, silly! Those precious moments of the first week...

Your "going home" outfit

Snuggling with Mama

Snuggling with Papa

First sponge bath at home (she's a bit camera shy here!)

Tummy time on the beautiful quilt your Grandma Mary made for you

Cloth diapering adventures begin! Adela modeling the wool soaker made for her by Mama's friend, Victoria

Wearing the onesie Courtney gave us. Adela and Maddie must have a matching onesie party asap!

Playtime with Mama

And then there's all those times that I don't have the camera for, like when she's finished nursing and she purses her lips and sighs contentedly, when she coos in her sleep and makes the funniest facial expressions, when she stares at me with her big beautiful eyes as if pondering the meaning of life. Those are the moments I hold in my heart because they're the most precious of all.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adela Marie's Birth Story

Adela Marie Melby
Born Friday, August 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm
UPMC Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
7 pounds, 8 ounces
21 inches long

Here is your birth story, as real as they get down to every last detail, not necessarily for you (at least until you're well older), but more for me as I want to remember all that happened and begin the healing process:

9 days overdue. You were just as snug as a bug in a rug. We were scheduled for the biophysical profile ultrasound at 7 am that morning. The night before I added lots of pepper flakes to my dinner and went for a walk. Just like I had done for the previous 3 nights. But something must have changed...

I realize now that as we were driving to the hospital for the ultrasound I was starting to have contractions. They continued through the ultrasound, about every 5-6 minutes. Hhmm...I thought.

The ultrasound did not go as well as hoped. The technician noticed particularly low levels of fluid, not uncommon for a baby that overdue, but it was worrisome nonetheless. She paged the Midwife Center, and the technician cautioned us that we may not want to leave the hospital. Luckily we had our bags in the trunk if we needed to stay. And so the waiting began.

Promptly after the ultrasound, though, I had to use the bathroom, and had the "bloody show" that accompanies early labor. Woo hoo, I thought! Only it was a lot bloodier than I thought it probably should be, and I started to get nervous, and so I too paged the Midwife. I then called our doula, Courtney, to let her know the scoop and that labor had likely started.

And we waited some more for her to call us back. The contractions kept coming, close and furious. We went to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat (because once you're admitted all you get is ice chips!), and we finally heard from the midwife on call, Theresa. She had been waiting to hear from the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor that they consult with to see if we could perhaps attempt a birth center birth, even though fluid levels were so low. But she couldn't get a hold of him, and she said she knew what her back-up Doctor would say--stay at the hospital. So about 2 hours after the ultrasound began, Courtney met us at the hospital and we made our way up to labor and delivery.
Last picture pregnant! 41 weeks, 2 days.
 Because the fluid levels were so low, Theresa explained that I would have to be on continuous monitoring throughout the labor. If baby's heart rate remained steady and didn't decelerate during contractions, I would be able to have the wireless telemetry monitor so I could get up and move around. They hooked me up and we waited some more as they monitored me through contractions, which at this point were running 3-4 minutes apart. Another hour later and about 3 centimeters dilated, I was given the all clear--baby was handling contractions just fine. So they strapped me into the telemetry device and a walking we went.
Getting ready to go a-walking!
 And it wasn't long, between the walking and the squatting during contractions, that my water broke.
Right before my water broke.
 It was just like everyone describes--an internal "pop." Now, I didn't have a lot of water in there anyway, but it made all the difference in the world. Those contractions kicked into high gear instantaneously. The next few hours are a blur. All I know is that I found my rhythm--a rocking rhythm accompanied by low moans--and tried to go with the waves. I sat on the toilet quite a bit and leaned over the birthing ball on the bed. Those were the positions that seemed to work best for me. I also was very hot during labor, and they all kept me bathed in ice cold wash clothes during the entire time. It was genius! The contractions got stronger and closer together. I was making lots of progress, which Theresa was very happy to see. I went from 3-5 centimeters in an few hours, and dilated the rest of the way by about 2:30 pm. I didn't ask for pain meds, and there was only one time where I said "I don't think I can do this." And Jake and Courtney both reminded me--numerous times after that--that I was in fact doing it.

What was sort of abnormal was that I started having signs of transition at 5 centimeters, complete with puking, shaking, and yes, even pooping. I didn't know before I got pregnant how common pooping was during labor, so I didn't feel that bad despite it being a tad bit awkward! I also had a strong urge to push from 5 centimeters on. Theresa was great and just let me roll with it, which I appreciated because I don't know if I could've stopped it even if I wanted to. Apparently the low fluid levels could be blamed for that, but because of the puking and pushing, I dilated completely by 2:30. All told--a pretty quick labor.

So things were looking good. I was all set to have the unmedicated birth I had wanted. And then I did a few big pushes. And baby's heart rate plummeted. We tried another position, but it plummeted again during the pushes. It came back up during the resting period, but always dipped low. So within what seemed like 30 seconds, all of a sudden I had an oxygen mask strapped to my face, 5 new people in the room, the OB telling me that they were going to try a vacuum extraction, and I was wheeled off to the OR. They kept telling me not to push--which is the hardest thing in the world--and as they wheeled me into the OR, I knew things were not looking good. But funny, at the time, I was never scared. I was still just rolling with it. Perhaps I was delirious from the pain, too.

In the OR, there was such hustle and bustle, it was incredible compared to the relative calm of my labor when it was just me, Jake, Courtney, and Theresa in the dimly lit room, all whispering words of encouragement. And here's where things get even blurrier. I remember them getting prepped for the vacuum extraction, and the OB just yelling in my face to push harder than I've ever pushed in my life. And I did. I tried. The vacuum popped off once, and they reattached it. I could feel as they gave me an episiotomy. I thought I was so close during my last two pushes. But then I just felt the OB push the baby's head back in my body, Jake was ushered out ("Dad needs to leave!"), and the prep began for the cesarean. I first received a drug that stopped contractions, then the spinal anesthesia, and they brought Jake in just as the screen came up. And a few minutes later, the cries could be heard of our little girl. Jake looked over at me and said "That's our little girl," (or something like that), and I could see her just out of the corner of my eye as they got her cleaned up. Jake was invited over there to watch, and as they finished stitching me up, Jake brought her over for me to see. All I wanted to do was hold her, but had to wait until they finished with everything. Mom does all the work, and she's the last one to hold her in this scenario. So be it, though. It wasn't long before they put my little girl in my arms and we made our way back to our room.
On top of being late, thus leading to the low fluids, you were also posterior (sunny side up) and as you were trying to come out, you decided to tilt your chin back instead of down. Apparently, as I found out later, the OB on call that day happened to be more anxious than others and wasn't as willing to let things play out as others might have been. So all of these things combined to eventually lead to the pretty traumatic birth that happened.

And while I am of course grateful that you are healthy, as my midwifes and Courtney keep telling me, it's okay to grieve about how the process went. We had done such preparation to try to bring you gently in the world, but as is always the case, our best laid plans went awry. I am taking great pride in the fact that at least part of our plan--an unmedicated labor--was achieved, especially with the fact that you were posterior. And my midwives keep telling me I'm an excellent candidate for a VBAC, so I may get a chance to have a vaginal birth yet. Especially if I have a doula as great as Courtney was (seriously, she was amazing! Jake and I couldn't have done it without her!).

But that, in sum, is the beginning of your life, my sweet Adela. Now, we're soaking you up. Your papa is mesmerized by you and is already proving to be much better at this job than he thought he was going to be. Because of my healing process from the cesarean, he was thrown in head first into diaper changing with zero experience, and he lives to tell about, first meconium diaper and all.  Nursing is going, albeit not all that well. We haven't quite found our groove as far as latching goes (let's just say I'm sore all over these days), but I know we'll get it. We're both too stubborn to give up that easily. You already make the cutest noises and faces while you sleep, and if I could, I would give you kisses all day long. You are just that kissable :-)

I also want you to know that your name carries with it the legacies of many strong women who all love you very much. My great-grandmother "Dale" lived until she was 104; may you have as long and as a fulfilling life as that Adela had. Marie is my middle name, my mom's (Grandma Karen's) middle name, a variation of your Grandma Mary and Great-Grandma Marion's name, and as I later found out after we had already decided on it, was also the first Adela's middle name. Know that you will always carry with you the love and support of family, no matter where you go and what you do. We will always be behind you.

We are all so excited to see the person you are going to become!