Friday, February 10, 2017

Birth Story of Emmett Raymond

I meant to post our birth story much, much sooner. But once our little one was born, this blog really got put on the back burner! I apologize for taking so long to get this posted! I had originally written it out just a couple days after he was born, so I am copying it exactly as I had written it.

Birth Story of Emmett Raymond 

I had been having irregular contractions for about a week, and hoped it was my body prepping for labor. On Thursday afternoon, I lost a big piece of my mucus plug, which one of my midwives said was likey to happen with the contractions I had been having. When I left my midwife appointment on Friday, I had no idea I would be going to bed that night and waking up in labor! I went to bed with contractions, but that was nothing new. I woke up at 4am Saturday morning, planning on a quick trip to the bathroom. I noticed things were a little wet, but didn't think anything of it. Until I stood up and had a ton of fluid come out! I pretty much stood there in disbelief while it just dripped into my PJs. I finally called to my husband who was also in disbelief. We were still more than 2 weeks from my due date! Funnily enough, the last thing they said to me was if my water broke in the middle of the night, to just go back to bed. So I cleaned up, put on a pad, laid down a puppy pad, and tried to go back to sleep. I was having contractions about every 10 minutes at that point. I basically spent the next few hours between being wide awake and in complete disbelief it was happening, to dosing off.

Around 8:30am I called the midwife, who said that they prefer me to come in for a quick non stress test to be sure the baby was not bothered by my water being broke. So my husband and I had some waffles for breakfast and then headed down to see the midwife around 10am. He looked great during the non stress test! I had a few contractions while hooked up to it too. I asked the midwife how long people usually have to go after their water breaks until they have the baby. She told me most people are in active labor within 24 hours but a small percentage take 48 hours. It was up to us how long we were comfortable waiting. But she said for us, her guess was that we'd be holding a baby at 3am.... and she was right!

So we went back home and waited for my contractions to pick up. My husband cleaned the house and got things ready in the car. Slowly throughout the day, my contractions got more intense. Around dinner time, they were much closer together, between 5-7 minutes apart. I had some soup to eat, but as things continued to pick up, I wasn't able to keep anything down. After HG during the pregnancy I was certainly not surprised to be puking during labor!

Once the contractions were 4 minutes apart for awhile, we called the midwife back, who agreed we should drive down (45 minutes away). I was very nervous for the car ride because I had heard from other people how awful it was to have contractions in the car! But I was happy and surprised that I handled them very well. I kept telling myself that they did not actually hurt... that it was really just sensations of tightening. Repeating that to myself really helped! And when I really concentrated on them, I found that the contractions did not actually hurt. It was just pressure and tightening!

Once we got to the birth center, our midwife wanted to check me to see how much I was dilated. They want to be sure you are progressing before they admit you, (since it's technically an out patient facility, you have only 12 hours to be admitted due to insurance rules) that way you have as much time as you need. I was a little disappointed to find I was only a 4! After being in labor all day! But my contractions were really intense so my midwife felt I'd be progressing quickly very soon. To give us extra time, she had me use the birth ball in the living room outside the birthing room, which I did for about 30-45 minutes. At that point she admitted me, and checked me again, and I was 5.5cm dilated. She suggested a shower, which I quickly agreed too. It helped so much! There was so much pressure with my contractions from the baby's head. Again, not really pain, but intense pressure! I was in the shower for over an hour.

Next I moved to the bed, where I squatted and was on all fours, just moving into different positions. Again, the pressure was even more intense! I remember looking at the clock at that point and it was around 10:20 pm. My midwife checked me again and I was at 7cm. I decided to try the tub for awhile. The water felt nice, but not as nice as I had hoped. The pressure from my baby's head was incredible! I was in the tub for awhile, and started to feel "pushy". It helped to relieve some of the pressure during contractions. I wanted my midwife to check me... I had only progressed to 8cm, which was disappointing to me. Our midwife said that the baby's head was locked up tight against my cervix, and she felt like we had to move him up a little bit so I could continue dilating the rest of the way. So I got out of the tub!

I sat on the toilet for a few contractions so I could be in a squatting position without having to really put any effort in. Then I moved to the bed and got in a side lying position with two big pillows between my knees and one between my arms. Our midwife warned me that the contractions may feel more intense this way, due to the change in position and not really being mobile while lying down. But she said "stick with it and it will work". The contractions lying down were the most intense I had and the toughest to handle. I laid like that for an hour until getting checked again. I was almost there! I just had a tiny cervical lip!

Our midwife was confident that if I started pushing, she could pop the lip right up over our baby's head. So I moved into my back, on an incline, with my knees pulled up, and started to push on my next contraction. It took a handful of pushes over 3 contractions and then the lip popped up and over! Instantly the contractions felt totally different once his head had moved past my cervix. There was no longer the period type crampy feeling with them, just a very intense pressure feeling from his head. My contractions also spaced out to 5 minutes apart, which I initially didn't even realize.

So I officially began pushing! I ended up staying on my back (which I actually had originally not wanted to deliver in that position, but at the time it was working just fine!). I could feel our baby move down and the pressure changed depending on where he was. The absolute strangest thing was when he decided to start wiggling around and turning his head! I could feel his whole body moving! It was the strangest feeling I've ever felt. At one point I heard our midwife mention the baby's hair to my husband, and I was like what?! You can see his head? My husband had been taking photos the whole time, so he showed me a few. I was shocked! I didn't realize he was right there! So I reached down and got to feel him! For the rest of pushing I would reach down and feel his head off and on.

Once I knew he was right there, I was in disbelief he was about to be born, and I felt like my progress pushing slowed down a little bit due to my emotions. The lower he got down, the more intense the pressure got internally. The spaced out contractions were actually a blessing, because it allowed me to stretch out very slowly. That plus the oil and warm compresses our midwife used seemed to really help my skin stretch. When I felt him start to crown, I did get a little nervous about tearing. I could feel my skin stretching out and I felt a tightness and a bit of a stinging feeling. But I couldn't help but think that it didn't feel how people had described it to me (I didn't think it hurt for example), but it was just a really intense sensation.

I pushed for about an hour, but it really didn't seem like very long because my contractions were so spaced out (5-6 mins apart). So I'd push during a contraction, and then his head would just sit there between them. I could actually feel my skin stretch and relax during that time! Once he was crowning and I pushed his head out, the rest of him quickly followed (it literally felt like he slithered out!), and my husband was able to grab him (with our midwife watching) and place him on my chest!!

He immediately started crying, which was a relief to hear. I kept asking if he was okay (over and over) and I was in disbelief I had a real live baby squirming on my chest! My placenta came out 7 minutes after he was born, and I didn't even realize it. I had one tiny little tear and my midwife popped a couple stitches in it. Afterwards, they told me I had very little blood loss and zero swelling to my lady parts. So they were not expecting me to have much discomfort from the birth, and they were right! I've felt pretty normal down there since day 1.

We were left alone for the most part after he was born, and I was discharged about 6 hours later and we brought our little boy home!! One of the midwives came to our house to check on him the next day and then he went for our first pediatrician appointment the day after that. We still don't really believe that after everything, we really have our own little baby! Breastfeeding has been going pretty well - he gained weight very quickly and still is. The hardest part has been worrying if he's getting enough! I know he is, due to all his wet/poopy diapers and weight gain, but I can't help but worry. We just love him SO much! We loved our experience delivering him and bringing him into the world as gently as possible. His labor/birth was the most exhilarating and amazing things I've ever done!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

36 Week Pregnancy Update!

I've made it to 36 weeks! I hadn't done many updates on my youtube channel during this pregnancy, although I had wanted to. I finally had some time, so I did a video update! I had originally vlogged our IVF cycles, but after getting a positive pregnancy test, I suddenly was terrified to make any videos about it out of fear of "jinxing" things. Ridiculous I know! But I figured I'd pick back up doing videos weekly once I was released from our RE at nine weeks.. but I hadn't counted on getting so sick with HG. Once I was pretty much in survival mode, making weekly bumpdate videos were the last thing on my mind!

So other than a few quick updates, such as our heartbeat ultrasounds and gender reveal, I hadn't done any on youtube. I figured it was really time to do one! There's also a sneak peak at some of our maternity photos in the video. I'm planning on sharing some on here too! Hopefully next week :)

It still feels so surreal to be this far into pregnancy. The first half went so slowly when I was sick, both physically and with worry about damaging the pregnancy. But time really did pick up once I started to feel better. And once I hit 37 weeks, I'm eligible to give birth at our birth center. Again, it seems so surreal that it's so close! I can't wait to find out when our little guy decides to make his arrival!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Visual Birth Plan

Making a birth plan can be a great way to learn about what type of birth you and your partner are hoping to have. Making it together can be helpful to be sure that both of you are on the same page about your birth preferences. When I made mine, I looked through a lot of birth plans made by others to get ideas. One of the first things that stuck out to me, was that a lot of the birth plans that were typed out just seemed so long. I had a hard time believing that anyone would really want to read such an in depth plan, especially in a hospital or birth center, where there is a lot going on.

But then I saw visual birth plans, which consisted of small icons that got right to the point. No excessive explanation needed. You can simply quickly look at the icons and get all of the information needed.

These icons were created by someone named Seanna, who has also created a birth plan generator as well. If you'd rather just make the plan yourself, the icons are available for free for everyone.

The easiest way to make your visual birth plan, is to save the icons you'd like to use to your computer, then insert them into a word document. We wrote a few sentences on the top as well, introducing ourselves and explaining that these are simply our preferences in an ideal birthing situation, and that we understand birth is unpredictable and situations may arise where we may need to deviate from these preferences.

I also like to call them our birth "preferences" rather than birth plan. With how unpredictable birth is, it seems like it would be impossible to really plan anything. We are hoping to go into the birth of our baby with a flexible mindset and we were hoping our birth "plan" would reflect that.

Here's a closer look at the icons we included in our birth plan. It might be helpful to note that we are planning to use a local birth center and midwives rather than a hospital (although our birth center has a good relationship with the hospital and is just across the street).

I did tweak the colors of the icons a bit, just because I thought it looked nice! I also may make a hospital version of this plan (which would remove the water birth aspect, but I would still labor in the tub) as well as a c-section plan. Again, just to be prepared for all possibilities.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Finally Pregnant For Christmas...

I know a lot of us who have dealt with infertility have had difficulty with holidays. Because holidays are such special times often spent surrounded by family, you can't help but be aware of how badly you want to share these moments and holiday traditions with a little one. We started trying for a baby in 2014, so we have had a quite a few holidays where we told ourselves that this was "the last one before we had a baby to celebrate with". When you are a whole year later in TTC (or even two years, as we experienced), and yet to be pregnant or holding a baby in your arms, remembering that last years Christmas was supposed to be "the last one without a baby or pregnancy" can really sting.

I have always loved the holiday season. We always cook so much food for Thanksgiving and start making things days before. We have some traditions that I enjoy so much! We pick up our fresh turkey from a local farm, brine it at my parent's house. My husband and I cook homemade cranberry sauce, apple pie, pumpkin pie, creamed onions, mashed winter squash (grown in our garden!), and homemade bread or rolls. My mom cooks the rest of the meal, and we bring everything we've made over to their house. The next day, we all drive together as a family to a local Christmas tree farm. We all walk around through what seems like millions of trees to pick "the perfect tree". My husband and I put up two full sized live trees and it always makes the house feel so festive and warm! We decorate a gingerbread house which we keep on display... just so many fun things we do each year. For Christmas, we celebrate on Christmas Eve and eat some traditional Swedish foods. So many wonderful memories!

Last year at Thanksgiving, I was recovering from my first early miscarriage after our third IUI. After getting pregnant, I suddenly was very ill with intense nausea and severe vomiting. After being diagnosed with HG this pregnancy, we suspect it may have been HG because sometimes it starts very early. I was in the hospital twice with that "illness", and I started to miscarry. We had been planning to tell our family on Thanksgiving day that we were finally pregnant! But instead, things turned out very different than we had hoped. The cycle following the miscarriage was long and strange. We met with our RE and decided to do more IUIs. But my cycle dragged on. In the end it was 36 days, which wasn't really that long. But it gave me a new appreciation for how frustrating it must be for those with longer cycles. AF finally arrived, on Christmas day of course. Last year during the holiday season, there was always some constant reminder that I still wasn't pregnant yet. Along with new doubts introduced to our minds about why we had an early miscarriage.

Thinking back to where we were last year, when contrasting with this year... things are so different now. We really are expecting a baby! So much has happened in the past year, almost all things I didn't expect. I never thought we'd need IVF. I never thought we'd suffer a second early miscarriage. I certainly never thought I'd be diagnosed with HG. I also never thought pregnancy would be so hard. But as I've come to realize, very little ever goes the way you expect it to. And that's okay.

To those of you out there who are still trying, who's hearts might be aching this holiday season... please do not give up. While we were trying, I would have given anything to be pregnant. But now that I finally, really truly am pregnant, I would not change anything that brought me here to this moment. Even though it was a difficult and painful journey. Everything we went through led to this baby, who I feel wiggling and hiccuping at this very moment as I type. You will get there too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NT Scan, Anatomy Scan, & Fetal Heart Echo Ultrasounds

Throughout this pregnancy, I had 6 ultrasounds already by 22 weeks! After IVF, I had my first ultrasound at 7 weeks, then another at 9 weeks. I had another ultrasound when I was in the hospital for fluids for HG, at 11 weeks. I was in pretty bad shape, so they wanted to be sure our little one was alright! The following week I had my NT scan at 12 weeks 3 days. Next was the anatomy scan at 18 weeks 2 days! They had recommended we do a fetal echo to check our little one's heart, because some studies have shown a slight elevation in heart defects in IVF pregnancies. We had that one done at 22 weeks 3 days.

It's absolutely crazy to see how much he's grown! We have photos from each ultrasound, except for the one when I was in the hospital. I was so ill that all we were focused on was making sure he was alive. I never even thought to ask for a photo and they didn't offer. But we still have lots of pictures!

We also were lucky enough to see our little boy on the 3D ultrasound at our anatomy scan! It was amazing seeing him move around and getting to see some of the details of his face.

As you can probably guess, everything went very well at all of our ultrasounds. They had no problem getting all the views the needed at all of them. Although it does seem like our little one doesn't really enjoy the ultrasounds that much. He seems to try to "get away" from it. I felt really bad he had to go through the fetal heart echo, because it took 1.5 hours! I'm not sure if they usually take that long, but we also had a med student there learning, so I have a feeling it was a bit longer due to that. 

I've been a bit behind in updating this blog and I apologize! For any of you wondering, at the time of writing this, I'm officially in the third trimester at 28 weeks. I can't believe how fast all of this is going by now. I do have some more updates to share, such as how the nursery is coming along, our birth plan (and why we might have to change things), as well as some unexpected news I got recently. Hopefully I'll have those updates soon!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Gender Reveal!

We decided it would be so much fun to do a gender reveal for our family! I know gender reveals are a bit controversial in some circles and people feel that they are unnecessary and/or silly. But we honestly didn't care :) This may be the only child we ever have, so we really hoped to be able to surprise our family with the reveal. I know they thought it was a lot of fun! And just a reminder, we did the gender reveal about a month ago, but just now I'm having time to do this update.

While I was feeling really sick, I tried to amuse myself by pinning fun gender reveal ideas. We waited to have the gender reveal until I had started to feel a bit better and was able to eat some actual food. My husband and I had fun making all the desserts for the party and it was the first time I'd made any food or even assisted with any food prep in months! So it was kind of a big deal to me, like I was passing a milestone where I might be through the worst.

We had all of our family members do the photo booth displaying their guess! Lots of fun :)

It's a BOY!! 

And here is a quick video:

We are SO excited to be welcoming a new little boy into our family! When we had our NT scan, they had asked us if they were able to get a good enough look, would we like a guess on the sex? And we said, of course! We were also doing the Harmony test, so we would be getting confirmation soon. Throughout the scan, our little guy was doing his best to hide his crotch area. But right at the end, he moved enough where she was able to give us a guess that it was 80% chance of a boy, using the nub theory. We found out about a week later that she was correct and I had a little boy cooking away! We truly had no preference for boy or girl, so finding out was just so exciting for us! 

For any of you interested, we got a lot of the items for the reveal on amazon. Here's links to a few:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pregnancy Update: Where I've Been

Well it's certainly been awhile since I gave an update! I haven't updated since 9 weeks! I'll get caught up on what has been happening since then :) I will most likely split it into a few posts, just to make it easier.

The main reason I had not been updating was due to very severe vomiting! I plan to write more about this at a later time, but I suffered from severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, also commonly called HG. You may remember that Kate Middleton suffered from it during both her pregnancies, and it was in the news. I remember learning about it during her first pregnancy and thinking how awful it must be! I was happy to learn though, that it's relatively rare. I never, ever expected to suffer from it myself.

At it's worst, I was in fear for my baby's life, as well as my own. There were times I couldn't walk or even stand up unassisted. I lost over 20 pounds and a very significant percentage of my overall body weight. The entire thing was terrifying. My spine and ribs were extremely prominent. I felt as though I were both starving to death, and dying of dehydration. Worst of all, I felt like I was starving our baby. I did everything I could to get down my prenatals, but eventually I was told to stop, as my midwife felt that they were doing more harm than good.

My skin was so dry. My mouth was so dry. My eyes were so dry. I couldn't keep down fluids at all. I threw up countless times per day. Up to 15 or more times. It was always extremely violent and it felt like my body was trying to rid itself of poison. I couldn't help but feel like there was something very wrong with my body's reasoning. I need water to survive! My baby needs me to drink! But my body just didn't care. My entire existence revolved around constantly slowly taking small sips of ice cold water through a straw. Chewing ice chips. Just praying some of it would be absorbed. At one point, my throat began to bleed.

I didn't realize how bad off I was. I was in denial that I could have HG. After all... isn't it so rare?! I think I would have been much better off had I accepted it sooner, that this wasn't just normal morning sickness. But I was so scared. I felt that somehow admitting that's what I really was suffering from would make it worse. I've heard that some HG pregnancies never improve until delivery. I had never been more scared in my life. I felt like I could possibly lose the pregnancy over this... our sweet little baby we worked so hard to get.

When I finally began hallucinating, I knew I was bad enough that I needed to go to the hospital. I could not even walk in on my own and I needed a wheel chair. They told me I had waited too long to come in, and that in the future, I needed to come in much sooner. I won't go into detail, but I was given lots of fluids and other things (maybe vitamins?) that I cannot remember. But we got to see our little one on the ultrasound! He was moving and wiggling so much. He looked so alive. His heartbeat was perfect. His growth was perfect. Despite everything, he was okay! Somehow, he was unaffected by all of this. It seemed like a miracle.

The next few weeks were spent trying out additional combinations of anti vomiting medications, different dosages, etc. Until we found something that finally seemed to work and lessened my vomiting. The longer I was on the medication, at the right dosage, I slowly got better. I was keeping down a few glasses of water a day! I still felt so thirsty, so hungry. But I knew I was getting better.

Suffering from HG has been the most difficult and most terrifying thing I have ever done. I have never felt worse, both emotionally and physically. I cannot fully describe how low I got emotionally. There were lots of ugly feelings. Lots of crying (but few tears, since I was so dehydrated). Thankfully, my mind seems to have developed some sort of defense mechanism, and I feel as though the last few months are blurry in my memory. I've heard the same from other people, that our mind tries to protect us from the memories.

I've since learned that HG is often not taken seriously and is very under diagnosed. I was told over and over again by well meaning people, that I just had regular morning sickness. That I was making it worse by "thinking about it". That I wasn't getting enough fresh air. Not eating enough crackers. Or ginger. Or whatever worked for their normal morning sickness. It feels so isolating because no one truly understands what you are going through. People don't know about HG.

But here I sit, at almost 20 weeks. I am still on the medications. But I am not vomiting. I am eating more foods each week. I have gained back all the weight that I lost! I am getting fluids! I am one of the lucky ones that has been able to control their symptoms with medications. Within the next few weeks, I will try reducing my meds, to see if they are still necessary. I am terrified to try. For some with HG, the symptoms do resolve at some point. I'm praying that I am one of those cases. But if I cannot manage without the medication, I have been assured it is safe for me to remain on it.

I am so thankful to be feeling better! I appreciate every sip of water and every bite of food! But the best thing has been feeling our little one move :) I began feeling the first movements around 16 weeks, and they became more and more noticeable. I have lots of updates to share, and more will be coming!

Poke Count (This is the final count! We stopped PIO around 11 weeks!)
Arms: 13     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 8   Butt: 66