Pregnancy Part Five: Recovery

I’d been told the recovery was worse than the actual labor. This is something else I found to be untrue. Because of how much blood I lost and all of my stitches, I chose to stay two nights of recovery.Little Giraffe

Day One: Once I got up to Mother & Baby, I had visitors pouring in. The catheter was my ball and chain to my bed, so I didn’t move at all that day. The room was set up in such a way that I couldn’t see my visitors. The epidural took a little while to wear off and they were giving me Motrin for any pain, but I felt pretty good. I’m sure I was not a pretty sight, with all the sweat and being covered in icky baby goop. And at some point through labor, I’d vomited all over myself. I was tired, but so wide awake. I was also slightly dizzy and light headed from blood loss. But, I’ve got to say, after almost twenty-four hours without food, that hospital cafeteria cheeseburger was the BEST burger I have ever had!

Day Two: This was the day the catheter came out and I could finally shower! Visitors continued to come see my baby girl, and lots of pictures were taken. That night, I had to watch a bunch of videos in order to be discharged. Most of them were fine. They talked about nursing and bottle feeding and what to do when the baby won’t stop crying. The worst was the video about SIDS. I sat, holding my baby, while they told me all the ways to keep her alive, that aren’t even guaranteed to work. Not cool, hospital people. Not cool! Carseat

Day Three: I got to go home!!! I had breakfast. I got the room picked up and all of my stuff put together. And, by noon, I was discharged and ready to go. We got Lacey loaded into the car and we were homeward bound.

It’s kind of nerve racking to take your baby home. At least, it was for me. I’d just watched those videos, and I was trying to remember everything they told me. Taking care of Lacey was a little bit scary, now that I didn’t have nurses constantly checking on me. Alex even went to work at one point and I was completely alone. But my baby has survived this far, so I think we’re doing alright.

As for me, I’ve felt great ever since. I’ve felt better and more able to do things than I did during that last stretch of pregnancy. I was ready to go back to work within a week, but I doubt I could have spent that long away from my baby without going crazy. Some days, I can barely run across the street to the grocery store without missing her terribly. Both she and I have been happy and healthy since she was born, and that’s really what matters, right?

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Pregnancy Part Four: Labor

I’m going to state a very unpopular opinion here. Labor was the easiest part of pregnancy. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but for me, it really was the easiest part. I think the easiest way to do this post is to break it down into a concise timeline of what happened.

It all started on Saturday, May 3rd, unfortunately. Alex and I had ventured to visit his family that lives two hours away, and then another two hours to his brother’s and sister-in-law’s graduation. We sat on hard bleachers for almost three hours and then helped them finish packing up their apartment to move up by us. During all of this, I started having noticeable contractions. They were close to a minute long, and thirteen minutes apart. Close enough to be completely annoying, but not close enough to go to the hospital.

This went on for a week and a half. The weekend following their graduation (May 10th), we moved to a new apartment. Our one-bedroom apartment was a perfect first home for the two of us, but it was not big enough to welcome a baby, especially after you figure out how much stuff a baby needs. Our new apartment is much more like a home. We have a kitchen that is more than a wall in our living room; we have a hallway; we have a bathtub; we even have our own washer and dryer. Thanks to much help from my family, we were able to get completely moved within the early part of the day.

I continued doing everything as normal. I worked at the schools and tried to nap through most of the days. At my weekly appointment on May 8th, my doctor told me I was dilated to 2+ centimeters. She told me to schedule another appointment, but was skeptical that I would make it.IMG_2370 (1)

On Tuesday, May 13th, around 7 pm, I realized that my contractions were becoming more and more frequent. They were lasting a minute or longer each, and varying between three and five minutes apart. Within an hour, my lower back was killing me, and I was ready to be done (more so than I had been for the previous nine months). At 9:30, we decided to go to the hospital to see what was going on. I’d tried calling, but they were unable to give me any information over the phone. They were unable to give me any information once we got there, until I was checked in as a patient.

The plan was to monitor my contractions for an hour and see if I dilated any further. If I did, we’d stay and I’d have my baby. If I didn’t, they’d send me home. When we went in, I was still at 2 centimeters. Once I was hooked up to the monitors, my contractions evened out and the waiting began. At the end of the hour, I was at 3 centimeters. It was time for me to have my baby.

We checked in on facebook, and it was official. We started letting family and friends know what was going on. I texted my bosses to let them know I wouldn’t be at work. It was really happening. My parents left at some point (I think around 1 am), and my mom told me to let her know when things happened.

The contractions really weren’t that bad. They felt, to me, like the same cramps I’d had every month since I was twelve.IMG_2382

At 4:00 am: I was given an epidural. Really, that was the most terrifying part to me. That is one LONG needle. But the poke for the local anesthetic was the worst part, and I jumped a lot. But once that was over, it was just waiting and squeezing Alex’s hand as hard as I could. It was over quickly enough, and I was numb.

At 4:45 am: Dr. Someone came in and broke my water. I’d been admitted in the middle of three deliveries, so I’d had every nurse on the floor in my room. The on-call doctor broke my water, and was on his way.

At some point: I puked all over myself, and fell asleep. The nurses came in a little later and changed the bedding. My left hip had been killing me during every contraction since my water had been broken, so they put me on my left side to let the epidural spread, and I slept most of the night.

At 6:00 am: My mom came back to the hospital.

At 8:00 am: The nursing staff changed, and I had a whole new set of people taking care of me.

At 9:00 am: I was dilated to 10 centimeters. The nurses had me wait for an hour to help make pushing easier. Every contraction, I had the strongest urge to push, but I tried my hardest to relax. I had the worst cold I’d ever experienced, and I was constantly coughing, which didn’t help the relaxing.

At 10:00 am: The nurse came in to check and I was ready to go. Within minutes, the doctor was there, and I was pushing. Three contractions later, it was 10:22 am.IMG_2336

At 10:22 am: My daughter was born. She was perfectly healthy at 7 pounds 4 ounces and 19 inches long. Those first moments, holding my baby girl, were easily some of the most emotional moments of my life. I didn’t cry, I came very close, but I didn’t. But if I had, they would have been happy tears, because, at that moment, I’d never been happier in my life.

The most painful part of labor? There’s 80% chance of vaginal tearing during natural birth. With those chances, you’re likely to end up with stitches. And that was the most painful part of my labor experience (and, if you want me to be completely honest, that wasn’t even that painful). I’m sure being able to hold Lacey during it all was what made it all bearable.

Pregnancy Part Three: The Third Trimester

I lied in Part Two. The third trimester is so much longer than the second. Mine was cut 12 days short, and it was still the longest part of my pregnancy. So many things carried over from both previous trimesters, plus there was more to come. My morning sickness made an unwelcome reappearance, my emotions took a turn for the worse, even air conditioning felt too hot, Lacey’s kicking got much stronger, my bladder got smaller, my belly got bigger, and I got more unbearable to live with.

Morning Sickness: If you could just not, that’d be great. Waking up is hard. I’m in no way a “morning person.” But when you are waking up to be sick, every day starts terribly. My friend recently announced her pregnancy and posted this little piece of truth to facebook. “I’m making a movement for it to no longer be called morning sickness. Something like ‘the sickness’ seems like much less of a misnomer.” I was never sick just in the morning; it lasted all day long. It was also made worse by the most beastly cold I’ve ever experienced…twice. Coughing so hard that you puke is a pretty miserable feeling.

A Lack of Emotional Control: The easiest way to traumatize your husband. Everything made me cry. Even happy things. The most traumatizing for Alex was probably the night before I went to the hospital. We’d just moved into a new apartment, and we finally had a bath tub (among other things). I was convinced I’d finally be able to shave my legs. So while Alex was at work, I’d decided to do just that. But there were so many factors working against me. For one, I had a massive belly that was impossible to bend around. But my baby had also dropped, and made it very uncomfortable to sit in the hard tub. I was also having very unpleasant contractions. By the time Alex got home, I’d done half of one leg, and I’d completely given up. He tried so hard to help, but it was just too difficult to hold my leg to where he could reach it… and that’s when the waterworks started. I’d gotten to the point that I always felt gross. I was so big and awkward and had hairy sasquatch legs. I just wanted to do something to make me feel pretty, but I couldn’t. And I ended up crying for hours until I fell asleep. I’m sure Alex was just about done with me at that point.

Heat: Even the freezer felt like fire. By the time I was in labor, I seriously felt bad for all I put Alex through. But that night, I was still forcing him through thoroughly uncomfortable situations. Situations like sleeping in a room that was 60 degrees. And I would have been very content to have it even colder. I don’t know what it is about being pregnant that makes you so unbearably hot. It could be the extra insulation or the hormonal changes, but it’s definitely not my favorite part of pregnancy (though, I’m not sure what my favorite part was; probably the end). I awoke many mornings with sheets soaked in sweat.

Sweet Baby Kicks: Until they grow up and get strong. My doctor asked me at one of my weekly check ups if my baby had been less active. She explained that it’s normal for babies to be less active during the final weeks of pregnancy due to the confined space. Alex and I both laughed as I told her that Lacey made her own space. I spent many days poking my belly, hoping that Lacey would play with me, and many nights pushing her legs back into where they should be, hoping that she’d let me sleep. All in all, that wasn’t really all that bad.

My Ever-Shrinking Bladder: Baby’s favorite play toy. Once baby dropped, I experienced some of the best and worst things. The best being that I could breathe again! And I could eat more than two bites without being full. It’s amazing the organs that a baby can squish. Including the bladder. I’m not sure how, but it got even more squished, and I had to use the bathroom even more frequently. It made for me being pretty active though! I was constantly in and out of the bathroom. But I’m sure it was entertaining for everyone to watch the awkward, pregnant woman waddle back and forth.

The Belly: It never stops growing. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t think I’d ever be normal sized again. I’d become so accustomed to having a belly that it seemed as if it’d become part of my identity. People had taken to calling me Preggo (which I openly endorsed). Alex told me on a few occasions that he didn’t remember what it was like for me to be not pregnant. We had pictures of us at our wedding hanging all over our apartment, and he couldn’t remember what I looked like before I had a bowling ball tucked under my shirt. My mom often told me, “I can’t wait for you to be my normal Jorden again.”

I know I was kind of a beast at points throughout my pregnancy. I was never aware of how much pregnancy effected the husband, but I can assure you, some men are pretty stinkin’ great to put up with how some women act. If the situation had been reversed in my relationship, I’m really not sure how well I would have handled it. By the end of my pregnancy, Alex and I both couldn’t wait for Labor.

Pregnancy Part Two: The Second Trimester

The second trimester was easily the best for me. It was also the longest. Emotions got stronger, my belly got bigger, acid reflux killed me, but I got to feel my little girl kick, and I found out she was a little girl!

23 Weeks

23 Weeks

Dem Feels: Waterfalls from my eyes. Really, it wasn’t that I was having more frequent mood swings or anything, they just got more extreme. Around 22 weeks, I fell off my couch. We had TV trays set up in front of the couch and had dinner and Sherlock going, so I climbed over the arm rest and fell off, taking a TV tray with me. Somehow, I scraped my knee, but I mostly caught myself with my hands. The rest of the night I spent in tears, freaking out about the effect on the baby. I sobbed for at least two hours before I could calm down. Thank goodness she kicked or it may have been longer!

Getting Fat: It’s not the worst thing in the world…yet. I started buying some maternity clothes (which, Ross is the best! Super cheap, and usually pretty cute). My old jeans didn’t quite fit, and my belly was definitely pregnant. I even had people asking me if I was pregnant! I, luckily, have only really gained weight in my belly, and I definitely look pregnant, not fat. But it was cute. I got a ton of stretch marks, which is kinda stinky, but at the same time, not. I’m dealing with nine months of growing a human being, I deserve some battle scars.

Acid Reflux: Death takes a new form… I’d never really experienced this pain before. But I will say, without Pepcid, I wouldn’t make it through this pregnancy. No matter what I ate or drank, my throat was on fire all night, every night. To the point of waking me up. Taking a drink of water would set my throat on fire. The only things I’ve found that have helped are Pepcid and milk. (I checked with my doctor first about taking Pepcid, and she basically prescribed it to me.) So every night, and multiple times through the day, I was taking my maximum strength pill with a glass of milk. Thank goodness it’s gotten better, or I’ve gotten used to it. Either way, it’s a rare phenomenon now.

I made the frames for our announcement.

Gender Reveal: It’s a human! I’d been pretty back and forth on whether I wanted a girl or boy. It mostly depended on the kid I’d seen most recently or the pictures on Pinterest. Alex knew that he wanted a girl from the start. It was all about “Daddy’s Little Princess.” We had names picked and everything. Girl was Haylee; boy was Benjamin. And then we found out, and anxiety started. I’m not sure if people think of it the same way that I do, but naming a kid is a big deal. I mean, that’s what they go by for their entire life! I was seriously terrified of messing that up. So, we nixed that, and had tentative names that we would tell people. I don’t even know if we could remember all of them. We did finally settle on Lacey Ann, and that’s here to stay.

Baby Kicks: The weirdest gas bubbles ever. It took what felt like forever before I actually felt my little girl kick. I’d been told it felt like gas bubbles, so every time I felt that, I would get so excited, and then I would toot, and be sad. Eventually, the kicks got strong enough that they were very distinguishable. By the time I first realized that they were kicks, I figure I’d been feeling them for a few weeks. The best wasn’t even feeling her kick though. It was right around the end of the second trimester, when I could see my belly move when she kicked. And when Alex could feel her kick. It was definitely a precious experience for both of us.

BABY_17

20 Week Ultrasound

There was a day I was at school, and I was working with one of my favorite students. Lacey started kicking, a lot. I pointed it out to him, and he watched in amazement for a second and then reached to feel it. I’m pretty sure he almost died. It is kind of a weird thing to feel after all. He hasn’t stopped talking about my baby ever since.

All of my student’s have been super excited about the baby. Since I started showing, they ask me all the time how she’s doing and when she’ll be here. It’s probably my favorite thing, even if I do end up repeating myself a million times. I don’t think they realize that when I have her, they won’t see me until school starts next year. Some of them won’t even see me then. But we don’t have to think about that now. Instead, we’ll hope I make it through Pregnancy Part Three before I go into labor!

Pregnancy Part One: The First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy was probably the hardest for me. Alex and I had just gotten married, and we were realizing what a financial pain in the bum it was to live. I quit one of my jobs and started another, and ended up working around sixty hours a week for about three months. I was starting my day at 7am and working until 11pm some nights. Morning sickness was kicking my butt, as well as sleep deprivation and crazy hormonal emotions.

Morning Sickness: The world’s way of putting you back in your place.

Seriously, what is the point? I know some women have it much harder than I did. I also know that some women, somehow, get off lucky and don’t get to deal with it. I didn’t even have so much nausea as I did just the sudden urge to vomit. In some ways, it was nice. I wasn’t constantly miserable and icky feeling. However, I never seemed to have any warning on when I needed to rush to the bathroom. I experienced many mornings of walking out the door to go to work, only to run back in to the bathroom. There were plenty of times that I had to pull over on the side of the road to puke into the curb. My favorite memory happened on date night. That group of friends that Alex and I met through, all ended up in couples within our engagement, and it was our turn to host date night. I’d made my favorite meal (Honey-Mustard Chicken and Rice) and welcomed my friends into my tiny apartment. We ate, we chatted, we laughed… And then I made a couple of trips to the bathroom. I wasn’t feeling well, but nothing had happened yet. Alex and I texted from across the room. How could I subtly encourage my friends to get the heck out of my apartment?! Well, I solved the problem, though not how I’d have wanted to. But once they heard the lovely noises of me being sick in the bathroom, they were ready to go.

That's my little peanut!

That’s my little peanut!

I was slightly terrified that, because of my sickness, something was going to be wrong with my little peanut. Thank goodness she stayed healthy and growing! There is one good thing to come of morning sickness, though. I lost almost twenty pounds during that first trimester, which makes losing weight after pregnancy a lot easier (I hope).

The Hormonal, Emotional Roller Coaster: You think it won’t happen to you. 

I’ve always been emotional. At four-years-old, I was crying during Dumbo because he learned how to fly. The happiest part of the movie, and I was bawling. Many years later, I cried the whole way through Up. (You’d think at some point they’d stop mentioning his dead wife. They don’t!) But it gets worse during pregnancy. Steel Magnolias, that normally makes me ugly, snot-nose cry at the end, had me ugly, snot-nose crying through the entire thing! Although, it wasn’t just movies that had me in tears. At this point, I’d quit working for a hospice company, and began working as a private aide for a paraplegic woman (I’ll refer to her as M for her privacy). She and I had known each other for almost a year, and I loved her to death! But I went from seeing her for an hour a day 3-5 times a week, to seeing her every day for 5-7 hours a day. It was fine, at first. She was supposed to be hiring someone else to help take some of the hours, but in the meantime, I was getting paid a lot, and I was okay with that. But after a month or so, I couldn’t handle the hours. I was to the point that I’d given her threats of my two weeks notice if she didn’t find someone. Working for her that much had become so emotionally taxing, that my family and friends were all sick of me, because when they talked to me, all I did was complain about her. I’ll openly admit, there were a few nights she went without her dinner, because I told her I was too sick. Those nights, I spent bawling for hours, until I would finally fall asleep. I ended up only working for her from the beginning of October, to the end of December. M passed away in March. It was probably one of the hardest losses I’ve had because of the way I left things between us. Her funeral was a very good example of my emotions getting the best of me, because something as simple as the flowers was causing me to sob uncontrollably.

Little things set me off so easily, but sporadically. Some days it just hits that tender spot, and suddenly you’re in tears. And, sadly, this hasn’t gone away with the trimester changes.

Sleep Deprivation: Just adding fuel to the fire.

I understand why I was so tired. I mean, I was growing a human being inside of me! Between that, and working so much, and the stress of my two jobs, I was finding it very hard to drag myself out of bed some mornings, which definitely upset my boss at my morning job. Somehow, through high school, I managed to go to bed around 2am, and be up and to school by 7:30am. But that doesn’t happen. I have this hope, that I’ll be able to bounce back after I have my baby, but I’m skeptical.

I know one thing for certain, my irregular sleep habits during the first trimester contributed greatly toward my morning sickness and my emotional chaos. Once I got that under control, things started getting a lot better, but we’ll save those stories for Part Two: The Second Trimester.