Thursday, October 25, 2012

Welcome home, Graham

I don't remember anyone telling me how hard the first two weeks of being a mom would be. And if they did, maybe I blocked it out. I guess I was expecting nothing but rainbows and butterflies when bringing baby Graham home.

Heading home from the hospital
Turns out it's more like baby boot camp coupled with raging hormones and parents who have no idea what they are doing. I was actually terrified to leave the hospital because I wasn't sure how we were going to do this on our own when walking to the bathroom felt like running a marathon for me.

But alas, we were home. Ready or not...we were on our own.

Within 5 minutes of walking through the door Pat changed a blowout poopy diaper and was peed on.

The next day I let Graham pee on his own face while trying to change his diaper. Since then he has peed on himself or someone else at least once a day. Today, he is in his third outfit already and it's only noon...

Our first trip out together was for Graham's doctors appointment on Friday. It was a lot of work getting myself ready and then getting him ready and all packed up. We were late to the appointment and didn't realize we forgot the diaper bag until the nurse had us strip him naked to weigh him.

It was pretty embarrassing to have to tell the nurse we didn't have a clean diaper to put back on him. Luckily she gave us a diaper to use - although it was about three sizes too big. In the meantime, he peed all over the exam table while she was taking his measurements.

He ended up peeing in the diaper she gave us (and out of the diaper since it was too big) and then pooped in the next diaper she gave us. We ended up using three of their diapers. We didn't need to have "new parents" tattooed on our foreheads because we made it quite obvious.

The first night home Graham slept really well... I did not. I was so paranoid that he was going to stop breathing or something was going to happen to him while I was sleeping. So I barely slept and just kept watching him to make sure his chest was still moving. And I never turned off my bedside lamp. Paranoid, I know.

I was so excited for people to finally get to meet him. I wanted that experience we never got in the hospital where people were constantly stopping by to meet the baby. So we welcomed visitors the entire week. Everyone was extremely generous - bringing us meals and gifts for the baby. We are so blessed with awesome friends and family!

But the more visitors we had, the more tired I got and by the end of the week, I came to the brutal realization that I had overdone it and had spent the week trying to pretend that I was 100% when I definitely wasn't. Coupled with several all nighters in a row, I was absolutely exhausted.

This is what the day after an all-nighter looks
like. All my boys asleep on the couch. 
Our first "all nighter" lasted from 11:45 p.m. to after 3 a.m. in the morning. As we approached the 3 o'clock hour, Graham, Pat and me all awake, the only sound you could hear in our bedroom was our dog at the foot of our bed snoring. "At least someone in this room is sleeping," Pat said.

When Graham started crying again because he was still hungry, Pat said, "So this is what all the parenting jokes are about."

On top of the lack of sleep, Graham and I were having some serious breastfeeding issues. Call me naive, ignorant or just plain stupid, but I just assumed that the baby is born, you put the baby on your boob and everything just works.

Unfortunately this wasn't the case for us. It would take about 45 minutes to get the baby on the boob (and he was screaming the entire time we tried), and when he was finally there, his latch was bad and extremely painful - like make me cry the whole time he was eating and makes my boobs bleed kind of painful.

The whole process became very stressful for both of us. After several days of just fighting through the pain and tears and the frustration of him screaming the entire 45 minutes we tried to get him to latch, I finally decided it wasn't working. It had gotten so bad that I cried as soon as he woke up knowing the pain and frustration I was going to have to experience to try to feed him. 

So on Sunday night, when he was just eight days old, I decided to introduce the bottle and used breast milk I had pumped and frozen. This was not a decision that came easily for me. I can't even begin to tell you how many tears I had shed.

I read books, took a breastfeeding class and it had been drilled into my head "breastfeeding is best." It had never crossed my mind that breastfeeding might not work for us. And now, here I was - not able to breastfeed my baby. I felt like a complete and total failure as a mom. It was so difficult for me to accept.

But I wasn't giving up that easily. The next day, I went to a breastfeeding support group to talk to a professional about the issues we were having and come up with a plan to make things work. At this point, my nipples were blistered, bloody and even pussy.

After I stopped crying and was able to articulate why I was there, the lactation consultant looked at my battered nipples and told me I was in need of a prescription nipple cream and that my nipples were "way beyond Lanolin" like I had been using.

She then weighed Graham and we realized he had lost about ten ounces in just three days. "It's time to start supplementing with formula," she said. I wasn't sure how this could happen since I felt like I was nursing all the time but she explained that between his bad latch and my anemia, I probably was suffering from low milk supply.

This could explain why Graham was getting so frustrated before feedings - because he knew he wasn't going to get enough milk from me. She tried to correct his latch, too, but wasn't successful so she suggested using a nipple shield.

But for now, she suggested giving my nipples time to heal and continue pumping and bottle feeding. So that is what we're doing and things have been much less stressful for everyone. I do feel like all I do is pump and yield very little results but I am not giving up. As of now he is getting half breast milk and half formula with every bottle. I am taking an iron supplement, drinking mother's milk tea, eating oatmeal and drinking lots and lots of water - all with hopes of increasing my milk supply.

Someday I would like them to be full breast milk bottles and maybe even get him to nurse again (because let's face it - formula is not cheap!). But for now, I have come to terms with where we are and I know that the most important thing is that my baby is getting the food he needs - regardless of the source.

In addition to crying over breastfeeding, I also shed quite a few tears over Pat going back to work. I felt like we had just started to get into a "routine" - as much of a routine as you can with a newborn - and I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to do it all on my own without him. I was terrified of being by myself.

But with the help of my mom and my friend Aubrey, I survived Pat's first few weeks back at work. It was so nice to have their help and it felt much less overwhelming. It is definitely getting easier every single day. And most importantly, I am absolutely in love with our little boy. I know I'm biased, but I think he's absolutely as cute as can be.

Photo taken by Julie D Photography

Even when he's peeing on me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Graham's birth story and the annoying nurse that saved my life

There are people who believe in miracles and there are people who don't. I've always been one who doesn't. The problem I have with miracles is that when you believe one happened in a situation with a positive outcome, you have to wonder why one didn't happen in situations with bad outcomes.

As I sit here typing this, with my two week old baby boy sleeping next to me, I am seeing the subject of miracles a little differently. Maybe it's becoming a mom that has changed my opinion because let's face it - from conception to birth, everything about bringing a child into the world is miraculous.

To say that Graham's birth story turned out a little differently than I had ever anticipated is a huge understatement. But knowing what I know now and how very much worse it all could have been, I believe the story is nothing short of a miracle.

Let's start from the beginning.

Thursday, September 27

I was sitting at my desk at work when I started getting really weird changes with my vision and just wasn't quite feeling like myself. I was very tired and worried that my blood pressure was high. I went to our school nurse and she took my blood pressure. It was elevated for me, but nothing too high to be alarming. Still, she recommended that I call my doctor and tell him. So I did.

I told them I was worried because of what I had read about vision changes being a warning sign of pre-eclampsia. They recommended going into a dark room and resting my eyes and coming to see them in the afternoon. So I did. My blood pressure was fine and there was no protein in my urine - two of the biggest indicators of pre-eclampsia. Doctor said I wasn't showing any signs and he didn't seem too worried.

Sunday, September 30

I woke up at midnight with lots of contracting and lots of cramping. I was in so much pain that I couldn't sleep the rest of the night. I tried to time the contractions but when the contraction would stop, I would have horrible menstrual cramp pain so there was never an "end" to the contractions.

Monday, October 1

Due to lack of sleep and still not feeling like myself, I stayed home from work. Still experienced lots of contracting and cramping throughout the day and started losing my mucus plug. There was a dime/nickel size amount in my underwear at one point and then mucus every time I wiped for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, October 2

At midnight I woke up again with lots of contracting and cramping. I started timing the contractions again and from 3-6 a.m., the contractions were five minutes apart consistently. I got in the shower at 6 AM as an attempt to see if I could go to work. I got extremely nauseous in the hot shower and called the doctor when I got out.

The on-call doctor said to head to the hospital so I called Pat at work and he headed home. By the time he got home, the contractions had spaced out and were less painful but we decided to go to the hospital anyway. They took my blood pressure, tested my urine, checked my cervix and found that I was still only a centimeter dilated, monitored my contractions for an hour and decided that I wasn't in labor and sent me home with a brochure that said, "Ready...Set..Not Yet.."

The rest of the day I was absolutely miserable with pain, cramping and contracting. I started getting flu like symptoms of feeling very feverish, achy and nauseous with diarrhea. That night I lost more of my mucus plug and noticed a red tinge to it.

I was still in a lot of pain before going to bed so I took two extra strength Tylenol - something I had avoided throughout the entire pregnancy but just couldn't take the pain anymore. I woke up at 3:30 AM as soon as the Tylenol wore off and took one more.

Wednesday, October 3

I woke up feeling better and rested and decided to go to work. I made it through the entire day but around 3:30 PM the cramping and contracting returned so I headed home. That night I took more Tylenol so that I would be able to sleep again.

Thursday, October 4

I woke up feeling okay so I went to work but as soon as I got there, I started feeling extremely nauseous and the flu like symptoms of being achy and feverish returned. During my drive home from work, I noticed the upper right part of my stomach was actually really sore to the touch. Every bump I drove over actually hurt my belly like it was bruised or something.

I thought this was weird so I called the doctor. By the time the receptionist took down all of the information, she said I had already missed the nurse and the doctor but she would leave them a message. I took Tylenol again and headed to bed, hoping to be able to sleep.

Friday, October 5

I woke up at midnight with contractions. The Tylenol wasn't doing anything to help the pain and they weren't coupled with any cramping, so I thought maybe this was the real thing. I couldn't sleep at all so I went to the living room and started bouncing on our exercise ball. It was the only place I was comfortable.

I stayed up all night bouncing on this ball, folding laundry, re-organizing the drawers in the nursery, etc. When Pat woke up for work at 4:30, he found me in the nursery putting clothes away and bouncing on the ball. I told him that I was having contractions and that they were getting stronger and more regular. Neither one of us wanted to rush to the hospital again only to be sent home so I told him to go to work.

I kept timing the contractions and they were still getting stronger and closer together and just when I thought they had been less than five minutes apart for an hour, they would space out again so I started the timing over again.

I had a doctor's appointment that afternoon so Pat decided he would come home at lunch either way and either we would go to the hospital or he would drive me to my doctor's appointment. He wasn't even home for 20 minutes when all the sudden I felt this drop and pressure, enough to make me yell, and then I started leaking fluid. I was pretty sure my water had broken.

So we headed to the hospital. I was in pretty intense pain by the time we got to the hospital. They took my blood pressure, tested my urine and then checked my cervix. I was 3.5 centimeters dilated and my cervix was 100% effaced. They confirmed that my water had broken and we were definitely staying at the hospital until we had a baby.

They said I could get the epidural when I was 4 centimeters dilated and that it should only take 20 minutes or so before I can get it. Four hours later finally someone came to get me hooked up for the epidural.

In the meantime, The cord blood donation representative came to talk to us about donating the cord for research and to save lives. We said we wanted to do it so they had to take my blood first. After they did this, the anesthesiologist started attempting to get me hooked up to an IV.

I warned her how tricky my veins were but she had to find out on her own. Her first few attempts were not successful and she ended up blowing one of my veins. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but I bled A LOT from where she had attempted to insert the IV. There was blood all over the sheets. I'm not usually much of a bleeder, but I was in a lot of pain so I didn't give it much attention.

After a few more attempts, she finally got my IV in and I finally got my epidural. Life was much better at this point.

Around 10:15 PM I started pushing with a doctor I had never met before but she was young and really nice and I liked her a lot. The nurse was great too and between them and Pat, I felt like I had a great support team.

With each push, I could never really tell if I was doing it right, pushing hard enough, etc. But I told myself that each time I would try harder and make sure I was giving it everything I had. I was so determined not to have a c-section.

After an hour of pushing, I wasn't making much progress. But I had a slight tear that was bleeding like crazy, the doctor said. She asked me if I had any hemorrhoids because she couldn't figure out why it was bleeding so bad. I told her no and we moved on. 

I continued to push for another hour and still wasn't making much progress. I had it in the back of my mind that eventually the doctor was going to throw in the towel. Finally she said I was making progress. The rest happened so quickly and before I knew it, they were showing Pat the head and my adrenaline really kicked in and I was able to push the baby out.

They announced that it was a boy and put him on my chest. Pat cut the umbilical cord and I just stared at this baby, waiting for him to start crying. But he didn't. Instead he laid on my chest with a stunned look on his face, no movement and no sounds.

I started to panic and kept asking the doctor and nurse, "why isn't he crying?" "Shouldn't he be making noise?" The nurse said it was going to be okay and that she was going to call a pediatrician to come in and evaluate him. The doctor interrupted her and said, "No, you need to call a code pink."

Pat and I both knew what a code pink meant and we knew it wasn't good. An entire team of doctors rushed in and took the baby and started working on him. I couldn't stop crying. I remember thinking to myself that he wasn't going to make it. Our baby was going to die.

For the next few minutes, I heard the doctors talking, using suctioning on the baby, flicking him and trying to get him to react but I still didn't hear that cry I had been waiting so desperately for. The nurse kept assuring me that he was going to be okay but her face told me she wasn't so sure.

Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, we heard a cry and they said he was going to be okay. He had a bowel movement of his meconium during the birthing process - known as meconium aspiration - and he ended up swallowing the fluid, filling his lungs. Although he had a low apgar score, they assured us he was going to just fine.

When I finally got to hold him again and we were able to get a good look at him, we decided to name him Graham Evan Robinson. He was born at 1:17 AM, weighed 8 lbs. 2 oz and was 20 inches long. 

After that, things get really blurry. I had a lot of tearing and required a lot of stitching - I know it took over an hour. The next thing I remember they were wheeling us up to the postpartum floor for recovery. It was around 5:30 or 6 AM. One nurse started assessing Graham and another nurse, Emilia from Romania, started to go over information with me.

The first thing she asked me was if it was normal for me to be so pale. I told her no and that I was just really tired after a very long week and getting no sleep for the last 48 hours. She wouldn't drop it and kept telling me how pale I was - as white as the sheets she said.

Next, she started to go over paperwork with me. I kept dozing in and out of sleep while she was trying to talk to me. I was hoping she would get the hint and just let me sleep but she didn't. She continued through all the paperwork - I remember none of what she went over with me. Finally she left and I remember telling Pat how much she was bugging me and that I just wanted to sleep.

When she came back, she asked me if I had a history of low platelets. I told her that I didn't even know what platelets were. I think she tried to explain it to me, but again, I remember very little. The only thing I got out of it was that she said mine were a 50 and that was low.

She then kept emphasizing how important it was for me to page a nurse if I felt any gushes of blood. I asked her how I would know and she said it would be gushing off of the bed. Even as I type this, I find it so scary that I was at risk of hemorrhaging, but at the time, I was too out of it to even be concerned. 

I rolled over and looked at Pat and asked, "Should I be concerned about this low platelet thing?" He said he didn't think so and I asked him to text my step-mom Jill just in case. I think I drifted back to sleep and the next thing I know I wake up and a lab tech is there poking me to draw some blood.

I needed to go to the bathroom at that point so I paged to have someone come help me. A nurses aid came and helped me out of bed. From the moment I stood up and made my way to the bathroom, things did not seem right to me. I felt like the world was closing in around me. I got really dizzy and I started getting a really loud ringing in my ear that was slowly eliminating by ability to hear.

I asked the aid if she heard the ringing too. She asked if I meant the ringing at the front desk in the hallway. I told her no. I explained to her what I was hearing and that I was quickly becoming very dizzy and feeling like I was going to pass out. She helped me back to bed.

Before I knew it that annoying nurse, Emilia, who wouldn't let me sleep was back in the room asking me more questions about my symptoms when I got up and emphasizing that if I needed to get up again I must make sure it is a nurse who is assisting me, not an aid.

I drifted back to sleep again and woke up to the doctor who delivered Graham and the annoying nurse Emilia again. This part is very, very fuzzy but here is what I remember. The doctor explained to me that I had a rare complication with my pregnancy called HELLP Syndrome - which means:
Again, most of what she was saying didn't mean much to me because I didn't understand the medical terminology and I was too out of it to comprehend much. I know I was asking her questions, I just don't remember what.

What I do remember her saying is that I was at risk of having a seizure or stroke and that I would probably need a blood transfusion. She explained that my platelet count had gone down from 50 to 20 and I was at risk of hemorrhaging.

She explained that they were going to move me back down to the labor and delivery floor where I could be monitored more closely and that I was going to need to be hooked up to a magnesium drip for 24 hours to keep my body from having a stroke or seizure. I was also told I wasn't allowed to have any food or drink - only ice chips for the entire 24 hours, in case I were to have a seizure.

As they wheeled me back down to labor and delivery, I was crying a lot. Even as out of it as I was, I knew enough to be scared of everything that I had just been told. What I didn't know at the time, thank goodness, is that Graham could have been affected by this disease too. Thankfully he wasn't and thankfully I didn't know to be concerned about that (Pat tells me I was made aware of this risk - I just don't remember it). 

I know I met with a high risk doctor who specializes in all pregnancy complications - including HELLP Syndrome and I know I was asking him a lot of questions but unfortunately, I remember very little of what I asked or what he answered.

In fact, I remember very little of the entire 48 hours after giving birth. I know I have never been so thirsty in my entire life, I know that I was poked, stabbed and prodded with needles way too much (see picture). I had little to no use of either of my arms because one had an IV in it and the other was so sore to the touch that I couldn't move it because of an infiltrated IV.

With no use of my arms, my inability to comprehend what was going on (even though at the time I felt like I was aware of everything until the next day when I would realize I remembered very little), I couldn't really hold my son let alone breastfeed him.

The nurses were wonderful and between them and Pat, they were constantly trying to get Graham to nurse and get him the ever so important colostrum that he needed for nutrients. I would say these nurses went above and beyond their call of duty - manipulating my boobs for me so that my baby could breastfeed.

I remember feeling completely helpless and overwhelmed as I watched my husband take care of this baby every time it cried or needed changed. Instead of looking at the baby and feeling joy, I felt nothing but overwhelming sadness that I couldn't take care of him.

When nurses would come in to ask how many dirty diapers he had had, when he last ate, etc., they would look to me for answers but I couldn't answer any of the questions because I had no idea. Pat was doing it all. I wondered if I would ever feel like a mom and even worse, I wondered if I would ever even bond with my baby. It was such a sad and helpless way to be feeling in a time that was supposed to be filled with joy.

I also felt so bad for Pat. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him to be thrown into this situation where he had to worry about me being okay and take care of this newborn baby, not knowing a thing of what he was doing.

Because I was on bed rest and on the magnesium drip, Pat wasn't supposed to leave me alone with the baby. So he rarely left to eat or drink and I felt like I was watching him get more tired and more skinny right before my eyes. 

He never complained once and he never even showed me if he was scared or insecure about any of it. He was definitely my rock through it all. He never ceases to amaze me and this is just another example of why I am the luckiest girl in the world to have him as my husband.

After about 36 hours on the magnesium drip (and strict bed rest), they took me off and let me have liquids again. I was very excited about this. I had never been so excited for nasty green jello in my life. The orange Popsicle was like a dream! When they finally let me have solid food again, the first thing they brought me was Graham crackers. I thought this was quite ironic.

After getting some food and liquid into my system, I had to pass one more test before they would let me return to the postpartum floor and officially begin my recovery - I had to show that I could get up and walk to the bathroom.

I failed the test miserably. As soon as I got up, my face went ghost white again and I instantly felt nauseous and like I was going to pass out. The doctor paid me a visit moments later and very bluntly said, I failed the test and I needed a blood transfusion.

By 11 PM on Sunday night, they had me all set up to start the transfusion. From the moment the new blood started entering my body, I instantly felt very weird. The best way I can describe it is that it was an out of body experience and maybe what it feels like to get high (don't worry, Dad - I wouldn't know).

Half of my body was physically and mentally exhausted and the other half was being pumped full of energized blood. It was so weird and I started having a slight panic attack thinking something was happening to my brain. I was too afraid to go to sleep, fearing I would never wake up. Eventually I did fall asleep and when I woke up, I felt better and more like myself than I had felt since having Graham.

By Monday morning I had received two units of blood and by late morning, I was taking another test of walking to the bathroom. This time I passed. Yes, I still got pale they told me but I didn't feel like I was going to pass out which was a huge improvement. I got my catheter out and before I knew it, I was finally moved back up to the postpartum recovery floor.

Seems I had left quite an impression on the nurses on the postpartum floor. Several nurses stopped to say how happy they were to see me with some color in my face and told me the last time they had seen me, I was as white as the bed sheets.  I was still moving very slow and it was a lot of work to get to and from the bathroom. But it felt so great to be in an actual hospital bed instead of a birthing bed where I had spent the last 36 hours.

As an ironic end to this miraculous story, on Monday night, our last night in the hospital, the "annoying" nurse Emilia was our night nurse. It was the first time I had seen her since the morning I was diagnosed with HELLP. I was glad to see her so I could thank her for recognizing that I was really sick.

What I didn't know until talking to her, is that she did more than just recognize that something was wrong with me. She pretty much diagnosed me with HELLP on her own by looking at my old labs, ordering new labs and comparing them. She was the one who notified the doctor that there was something seriously wrong.

When she saw how pale I was and that I was drifting in and out of sleep while she was talking to me, she went to my chart and checked my lab results from before I got the epidural (the only reason I had those labs taken was so that we could donate our cord blood for research). This is when she came back to me and asked me if I had a history of low platelets and told me that mine were in the 50s.

After this conversation, she had the lab come up and draw my blood again. This time my platelets were in the 20s so she then called the doctor. She explained to me that she even stayed beyond her shift to make sure I was okay because if she would have left not knowing, she wouldn't have been able to sleep.

She also explained how nervous she was to call the doctor and tell them what she thought was going on with me because typically doctors don't like nurses telling them how to do their jobs. But she did it anyway - to make sure I would be okay,

It was at this moment that I realized the "annoying" nurse Emilia did more than just look out for me - she went out of her way to make sure that I was okay and ultimately, could have saved my life. I've heard the quote so many times that nurses are angels but after this experience, I really believe it to be true.

Graham was the miracle and Emilia was my guardian angel.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

38 weeks


Week: 38
Baby length:
19.75 inches
Baby weight:
6.8 lbs. - the weight of a mini-watermelon
Bump size:
42 inches (down half an inch from last week)
Weight: +35 pounds (+1 lb. from last week)
Cravings:
Apple crisp

Wow. A lot has happened during my 38th week and I'm not about to sugar coat anything. Things are about to get real on my life as I know it.

Not to say that I've ever really censored my blogs before but I'm about to be even more graphic than ever. Why? Because someone needs to talk about this stuff so that all future moms can say they were warned.

Let's start with the fact that I am once again using a watermelon this week to illustrate the baby's weight. We still haven't eaten it, obviously, and I don't know what a leek is and it was a long week/day when this picture was taken so I just stopped caring.

Besides, my What to Expect When You're Expecting app used the watermelon comparison for two weeks in a row so why can't I? Don't be surprised if you see it in next week's picture, too, since I am 39 weeks tomorrow and currently don't have anything else to use.

Maternity Lessons

"No one said pregnancy was going to be easy," Pat said to me as I was sitting on the toilet checking my underwear for the second time in 20 minutes. I confirmed that yes, I had peed my pants for the second time that night, immediately after using the bathroom and despite the fact that I didn't even feel like I had to go nor did I feel it coming out until it was too late.

"No one talks about this s#!& before you are pregnant," I responded. "And no one prepares you for this shit before you get married," my dear husband said as he was helping me change out of my underwear for the second time since not only is it super uncomfortable to bend over to put on clean underwear, it actually physically hurts.

Touche, Patrick. Touche. Needless to say, my husband is taking very good care of me.

I had a doctor's appointment at the beginning of this week and my doctor checked me for progress for the first time. Remember how excited I was to get checked for progress? Take note, friends - it is not all it's cracked up to be.

First of all, it hurts like h#%%! It was more painful than any pap exam I've ever had. Second, in my case anyway, you don't get the answers you're looking for. You want your doctor to say, "wow you are really dilated, completely effaced and you are going to have this baby SOON!"

But instead, you hear "You are 1 cm dilated, 80% effaced, but this means basically nothing because you could still be a week late." Awesome. In addition to that great news, my doctor also reminded me of how tiny my bone structure is down south and that he really doesn't think I am going to be able to push out a baby.

Most people have about a 10% chance of having a c section - he told me I have about a 50% chance and that knowing this, he will be much more quick to "throw in the towel" during labor. He still will let me get in there and try and he hopes that I prove him wrong but he's been doing this for a long time and I believe he knows what he's talking about.

The good news I got out of this is that he's not going to let me spend 24 hours waiting for me to dilate to a 10 and start pushing, only to prove that he was right and ultimately give me a c section anyway. If he sees that my body is really struggling to dliate, he will take this as further proof that my body just can't get the baby in the position it needs to be and he will call it a c section.

I find this oddly comforting because I know he's not a big c section guy and I just really trust him. Now let's just hope he is actually the doctor that delivers my baby and not someone I've never met (the odds are about 1 in 9 that he will be the on rotation doctor when I deliver).

He also told me that Baby R is "sunny side up" meaning it's back is facing my back and it's face is facing my belly. This is not good. He suggested I start getting down on all fours at least once a day. Which I've been doing, but then can barely get myself back up.

On Sunday of this week, I got a huge burst of energy. I was cleaning our house, doing laundry, going shopping, etc. Everything was fine and I was feeling great. Until midnight Sunday night/Monday morning when I woke up with extreme cramping and some contractions.

This did not go away. I also started to lose my mucus plug on Monday morning. I ended up working from home that day because I was exhausted from not sleeping at all and was in miserable pain. On Monday night, I went to bed and woke up at midnight again with even worse contractions.

These contractions were actually timeable so at 3 a.m. I started to keep track. They were anywhere from one minute to two minutes and were coming every 5 minutes. From 5-6 a.m. they were actually coming every 3-5 minutes. I was starting to think this was going to be the real deal.

I got out of bed at 6 a.m. and decided to shower to see if that helped. It didn't. In fact, the pain was so strong that when I got out of the shower, I thought for sure I was going to throw up from the nausea. My doctor said this would be a sign that it was the real deal so I called the office.

The on-call doctor called me back and told me to head to the hospital and that she would notify them that I was coming. So I called Pat who had already been at work since 5:30 a.m. and he headed home. While I was waiting for him I decided to bounce on the exercise ball for a little bit and then I went and laid down.

By the time he got home, I was almost falling asleep in bed and the contractions weren't coming as frequently. I started to suspect it was a false alarm because the contractions I had been feeling for the previous 3-4 hours were not contractions I could have slept through even if I wanted to.

But we decided to head to the hospital anyway. I stayed for an hour and they told me I was dehydrated and that could be one cause for the contractions. They monitored the contractions and even though yes, I was having them, they were 6-8 minutes apart and not 3-5 like they should be.

The nurse checked me and said I was still only 1 cm dilated (and that was being generous, she so nicely added) so they sent me home with a pamphlet titled, "Ready. Set. Not yet." which really annoyed me for some reason.

When I got home, I was in serious, serious pain for the rest of the day. Cramping and contracting so that even when the contractions ended, I found no relief because I was still having such bad cramping.

I was also feeling flu like symptoms all day - feeling feverish even though I didn't have a fever and feeling like I was really cold even though my cheeks were bright red and my head was hot. My whole body felt really sore and achy.

So after 48 hours of constant pain, I decided to take Tylenol last night - something I've been avoiding this entire pregnancy - just so I could find some relief and get some sleep. It worked.

I slept like a baby (a metaphor I might find more similar to an oxymoron in a few weeks) and so did Pat. I went to work today and made it through the entire day before the pain got bad again and I headed home.

So here is what I now know about false labor.

The contractions can be just as painful as real contractions and can be coming regularly for hours, only to suddenly become sporadic and less intense
There are ways to find relief from these contractions which if you do, indicates they aren't the real deal

So here is what I plan to do the next time I think I'm in true labor, just to make sure I don't get to the hospital again only to be sent home. I will wait until contractions take my breath away before I even start timing them. Once they are five minutes apart and one minute long for an hour, I will try the following to see if I get any relief:
  • Take a shower
  • Bounce on the exercise ball
  • Walk around
  • Chug water
These are all things that have provided me relief before and if they do again, I will know it's still false labor. If I find no relief after doing all of these things, I will call the doctor.

But please can't my water just break so that I know for sure? Did you know that only 1 in 10 women will have their water break at home? I didn't either until recently. I just always assumed that is how this whole thing worked. Your water breaks and you know you're in labor. None of this time the contractions, think you're in labor only to find out you're actually not.

What is the worst thing about false labor? That I experienced it for 34 hours only to find that it did absolutely nothing to get my body any closer to having this baby. That is just downright depressing. I do not enjoy pain and I certainly do not enjoy pointless, unproductive pain.

On a positive note (yes, I'm still trying to be positive), the pain I experienced on Tuesday really made me appreciate the lighter pain I experienced today. Pat and I have also gotten lots of practice with breathing through contractions and we are definitely packed and ready to go to the hospital now that we've already been there once...

Weight Gain

I gained one pound this week, bringing the grand total to 35 pounds - the weight my doctor would like me to not surpass. Another reason why Baby R needs to come SOON!

Gender Prediction

Have you made your gender prediction yet? Click here to enter the pool and pick when you think the baby will be born, how much it will weigh and whether it will be a boy or a girl. You just might be running out of time (I hope!) or you may have at least a week left. Time will tell....