Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gabe's birth story, part I

Waiting for [Gabe] was like knowing something was coming but being in denial it could happen at any minute. While I told myself, this could be it, he could be here before we know it, the day he arrived I was still in some shock until it was really happening.

I had lunch with two of my best gal pals earlier in the week (the first week of November, that is, right after Halloween), and discussed how his arrival would ideally come after the first weekend of November. {Ah, the best laid plans o' mice and men, oft go astray!!} Many of my friends were speaking at a ladies event at our church that Saturday (the 5th), and my parents had some important plans that first weekend that I didn't want them to feel torn about if I had Gabe before the 6th.  However, things started getting into motion long before the 6th...

On the eve of his arrival, I was at our church's Wednesday night bible study along with the rest of our tiny family of 3, feeling a little rushed and out of breath as I usually am after the mad dash it takes to get everyone to church.  My belly was tightening a little bit in class and I figured it was just Braxton Hicks from all the movement it took to get there. I even jokingly told someone my water might break there and it'd be sort of awkward having this stream of liquid go down my pants (I am one for poise & grace regarding delicate matters, that's for sure!)  Awk-ward!  After class was over I was speaking with some of my dear birthing friends, Juline & Jenny B. I asked Juline, who is a birth assistant at the birth center where Mia was born, to feel my belly.  Did she feel like it meant anything? She wasn't sure but we were all just having fun discussing the possibility of imminent labor and all that.  I had only started taking 5-W, an herbal supplement, earlier in the week. 5-W (which stands for 5 weeks) is an herbal blend that supplies nutrients supportive to the female glandular and reproductive systems and should be taken during the last five weeks of pregnancy.  It's supposed to strengthen the uterus to make labor & delivery easier.  I was not taking Evening Primrose Oil or any other late-term pregnancy supplements as some of them were contraindicated with my blood thinner.  I had also taken 5-W with Mia the last couple of weeks and looking back I believe it helped.  It is supposed to even shorten pushing time.

Regardless, we all went home that night and got settled into bed assuming the following day would be busy with continuing the food prep I had begun the day before (see this post).  As I slept that night, I awoke a few times noting some low pressure in my abdomen, like he was pushing down on my cervix.  I assumed it just meant he was dropping even more, getting further into the birth canal. I did not necessarily think it meant delivery was soon.

However, when I woke up that morning, things started to feel different. Mia was acting much more differently around me, really wanting my attention and wanting Mommy to play with her. I had skipped my normal breakfast items to instead play with her and try to be "present," only to find myself distracted by what was going on with my own body. What was I feeling? Were these waves of pressure the real deal? Were contractions settling in??

Meanwhile, Greg was getting ready for work and we were discussing what was going on, and I started noting to him that I was having a harder time staying focused. But within a span of probably 10 minutes, we went from saying, "Go ahead, go to work," to "Why don't you stay home and sign-in online here, just in case?" to "Let's call Brian & Amanda, we need to get a little day & overnight bag packed for Mia!"
I downloaded Contraction Master on my iPhone and started timing these "waves" (a hypnobirthing term, which felt appropriate at the time as they were only waves and quite tolerable).  I texted my doula, Stephanie, who happened to have a totally free day ahead of her and was quite enthusiastic about the prospect of assisting me through another birth that day.  I was still dubious that this was it, but at the same time my body was telling me things were getting underway.

I still hadn't eaten breakfast and was hardly interested in it as I was slightly fearful of throwing anything up, as I did in Mia's labor, but I was glad I had made some homemade stock the day before that was still warm in the crockpot--that at least seemed to sound soothing to my stomach. I started sipping on that while Greg got Mia ready to go over to cousin Braden's and I unloaded the dishwasher.  Yes, I did very silly things while in early labor.  I unloaded the dishwasher and tried to clean up some of the kitchen.  I called my mom (not silly), to let her know what was going on, and I took a call from Monica--I think we were talking about her pregnancy weight gain (ha!) and I told her I thought things were happening.  I even had a contraction while on the phone, and the dear that she is told me to breathe :).  I sat on the birth ball during these waves and tried to relax through and sway through them, but I could tell they were speeding up and increasing in intensity.  I wanted and felt that I needed to take a shower, so while Greg was out dropping off Mia (and quickly running through Target as we needed some last minute hospital items!), I took a shower, did my hair and even put on some makeup.  Who knew if it would last but when I went into labor with Mia, I was not prepared in that sense.  I just wanted to feel presentable (somehow knowing I had done something with myself that day gave me the feeling that I was "in control") and have one good last shower before I was in a hospital for who knows how long.  By that point in time, our doula was almost to our house and when she arrived and Greg had gotten back, it didn't take too long for her to watch me to decide we should go ahead and get to the hospital.  

I texted Lindsay to ask her to come over after we left to deal with all the soaked beans, lentils and quinoa I had sitting out, and to store the remaining chicken stock.  And to also fold my laundry.  Let's just pause here for a minute and say I have some good friends who would come over and do such a thing for me.  Like I said, I really didn't think labor would be that day!  (In an ideal world you go into labor with your house spotless, your clothes clean, folded and put away, and your freezer already stocked with all the meals you intended to make!...and your printer already loaded with paper and your birth plan printed out.)

While we were about to head out the door, Stephanie put some more broth for me in some containers so I'd be able to sip on it at the hospital, and we grabbed our bag and our birth plan, which was just printed out that morning, and started the crazy journey to Tampa General Hospital...
The very beautiful Tampa General Hospital, on Davis Island

To be continued...

Friday, November 25, 2011 a family of 4.

Every time I have a moment to sit down and think about blogging, my mind essentially turns to mush. I had so much to organize and keep track of before Gabe was born and life seemed really interesting (to me, at least) with all that I had going on, and now life has simplified down to the bare necessities: are we all fed? Do we have clean clothes? Is the dishwasher unloaded, or running? Have I bathed recently?  Perhaps I make it all sound like we're in a crazy mad dash all the time, which we're not, but I've had far less time to just sit down and twiddle my thumbs.  For which I do not complain. I know in time, God willing, that personal free time will return. And I'll take what I can get, when I can get it.

3 weeks in with Mr. Gabe and life's been pretty good to us so far.  None of the rough starts that afflicted us with Mia have been present with Gabe, bless them hearts.  Gabe's only concern so far was slightly elevated bilirubin levels (threatening us with jaundice) right after he was born, which kept us all in the hospital about 2 extra days.  The mixed blessing in that was that I received extra lactation help, which has made a world of difference this time around when it comes to breastfeeding.  I struggled so much with that in the beginning with Mia, which led to my decision to exclusively pump for her.  I've not even touched a pump in over a week with Gabe, which has felt really nice.  There are times when I wish I could just hand him over to Greg and he give him a bottle so I could get a little more sleep in the middle of the night, but in some cases it's not worth the effort to go through all of that.  We're still working through the first few weeks of nursing, but all in all, we're very much off to a better start, for which I'm super thankful.

sleep: it's mostly what he do
Because that is going as it is, and we're not using bottles, in some ways I feel like I'm dealing with a newborn for the first time.  I often wonder--is he fully content and fed? Does he need me? Is he sleeping right now because he's full, or is he just taking a little break? With Mia, we gave her a bottle with approximate amounts based on what she seemed to need to consume, and that was that. There was very little question as to if she was full/hungry; anytime she cried hard we gave her a bottle and up she went gaining weight! And generally speaking, she'd go back to sleep with a little prompting.

Sleepwise, it is what it is.  Some nights are certainly better than others. He could sleep soundly all day quite easily, and tends to right now, feeding every 2-4 hrs, but at night, he is still figuring out how to consistently sleep longer stretches.  Let's just say I'm thankful it's a holiday weekend because with Greg home, I'm allowed to go back to sleep for another hour or two after Gabe wakes up for a morning feed, while he hangs with Mia.  During the week I do not have that luxury.

And speaking of luxuries, my mom was in town for the first week and a half that Gabe was home, and that made such a world of difference. I don't know how people survive without their families, communities, villages or tribes (whatever you want to call it).  I cannot fathom having a child without having the help of someone you inherently trust to assist you with the nitty gritty.  (This includes Greg as well, and those friends of mine who have *blessedly* seen me in unusually compromising positions! *points to certain hospital visitors*)
Mommo & Gabe
For essentially the first week and a half, Mia was taken care of, fed, bathed, napped, and entertained by either Greg or my mom. I was instructed not to lift her the first 2.5 weeks, which I was not expecting to hear!  It was emotionally hard to not be able to deal with Mia at certain times especially when she wanted mommy, but I was so thankful to have others around to attend to the situation and keep things rolling, keeping my stress levels low.

My parents were in town part of this week for Thanksgiving, so my mom went home and essentially turned around 5 days later, meaning I only had to be totally on my own for 3 weekdays.  It was not as rough an intro to life with 2 kids as I'd been fearing.  However, next week when everybody is gone, including Greg's parents, I might feel otherwise.  It'll be 5 straight days on my own!  That, my friends, seems a little bit scarier!

The most challenging parts of the day are usually at feeding times, when Mia all of a sudden wants mommy to hold her; naptime, if I'm not sure if Gabe is totally out and asleep and I'm trying to get Mia down; and right after naptime, when Mia tends to wake up as I'm feeding Gabe.  I think it's probably hard for her to often see mommy consumed by another baby, but right now, so much of my time is spent sitting in a chair "eating" Gabe (that's what Mia says instead of "feeding."  "Mommy, you eating Gabe?"  "Yes, I'm 'feeding' him.")

loving on her baby brother
Mia loves Gabe though, wants to hold him, burp him, give him his pacifier, and talk and play with him. She received a new Signing Time DVD this past week (about going to the potty! *thinking positive thoughts here*) and it showed some signs she already knew and she started putting Gabe's hands to his mouth to sign "eat".  It was so cute and I love that she already wants to get him involved in everything.  If she puts up a fight about anything, it's just about the attention she is not receiving 100% of from mommy and daddy anymore.

Before Gabe was born, I had a lot of concerns. I was nervous about his health, my health, his delivery, the postpartum period, dealing with all the changes that occur after one gives birth, and how I'd feel by Thanksgiving. I'm happy to say that many of my concerns were relieved as soon as he was born and things started moving on "normally." I'm happy to be normal in this case, for once, and not at any extremes.  I still have much ground to break when it comes to mothering two children, and getting into a groove with Gabriel and Mia, so I shant count my chickens before they've hatched, but I'm so grateful to God and to my tribe for seeing us through the first three weeks.  Yesterday we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with both sides of the family including both sets of grandparents and nothing but good times accompanied our gatherings.  With Mia, I was very much of a Nervous Nelly for those first few weeks.  I figure that's probably a common first-time mom feeling and there's nothing I can do to change the past, but it makes me realize now how nice it is to just let things be and live in the moment, and not worry about every detail of the next 3 hours.  Just breathing is nice.

And now that Gabe is stirring, that's my cue.  Here a few pictures of Gabe meeting his other family members over the past week!

Gabe & Papa Jack

Gabe with Nana & Granddad

Sneaking in a picture of Mia with Uncle Jackson
Uncle Jackson & Gabe
Gabe happily asleep with Mommo & Papa Jack

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gabe's first 2 weeks

It's crazy how much life has changed in two weeks. There's so much that could be said but for now I'll just share a little slideshow of Gabe's first two weeks!  And celebrate the fact we're halfway through the first month -- always an accomplishment :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And...we have a BABY!!

Last Thursday, just a day after my big to-do post, I woke up and had a baby.

Okay, it wasn't quite that simple(!), but, he arrived!

Gabriel "Gabe" Charles Ciampa
born at 5:03pm, 11-03-11
weighing 6 lbs, 2.5 oz, and measuring 19" long!

I'll post a more detailed birth story soon, but here are some quick newborn-fresh pictures for you!

First moments with Mommy

Sweet Relief - He's here!

Family of 4!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making a list & checking it twice

Spaghetti Noodle Brain: have you heard of it?
Girls have spaghetti noodle brains and guys have waffle brains.  For girls, everything's connected like a piece of spaghetti. For guys, each thing has its own separate compartment, much like a waffle. And never think for a guy that each box in the waffle is full of thoughts, because it's not!

I definitely have spaghetti noodle brain.  This is related to that, which is related to this, which means I need to do this, which means...AHH!! I'm going crazy. I have an iPhone, which often helps me with spaghetti noodle brain (I can "quickly" look something up if I'm forgetful at the store), and I also have a pen & paper at home so I can jot something down real quick if I need to. I'm a visual-verbal-kinetic person, so to remember the sensation of writing something down and then reading it really helps me stay on track.

So, now that you've taken a quick walk inside how some of my brain works, I say all that to say, I'm finally doing my freezer meal planning. Probably about 2 weeks too late, but hey, better late then never, right?

The Freezer Meal Plan
Currently I have 3 "grains/legumes" soaking: black beans, quinoa and lentils.  (In case you need a quick primer on how to soak said food items, check out Healing Naturally by Bee's cheat-sheet!)  I loved everyone's suggestions from the freezer meal suggestion post and am incorporating the recipes I already know first, and in time I think I might try yours as well.  So far a lot of my planned freezer meals are soups.  With winter coming often comes depressed immunity, so maybe I'm just psychic and am hoping my soups made with homemade broth will keep us on the up & up.  Because I'm pretty sure my sleeping won't :-\

Here's my plan, should the Lord will me to see that these recipes actually meet their fruition before bambino's born!

Last weekend, I already froze what we didn't eat of Wellness Mama's 5 ingredient Crockpot Chili - bean free, which was was super easy and tasty.

I'm also planning to soak great northern beans so I'll have beans ready for our White Chili recipe, and in my crockpot right now are chicken bones simmering so I'll have some more chicken stock to use in all these said recipes! (My freezer stash of chicken stock is quickly depleting).  

If I can be so productive tomorrow, I'm hoping to knock out maybe 2-3 of these recipes or at least get them started.  I accidentally picked up parsley instead of cilantro at the store so I won't be able to completely put together my sofrito just yet, but I can go ahead and chop the other veggies.  We ate that black bean soup with the sofrito last winter and it was really yummy!  Goes well with some kind of crunchy gluten free bread :D


And speaking of the bambino, here's what I didn't tell you a couple of weeks ago, because it clearly meant NOTHING.

The Crazy Doctor's Appointment which nearly sent me into hysterics
I had my 35 week appointment 3 weeks ago and I had the Group Beta Strep test. This is a pretty important test because you are cultured to see if you are a carrier of GBS. If you are positive, the hospital protocol is to administer IV antibiotics during labor so hopefully you won't pass it onto your baby. Being a carrier does not necessarily mean you will pass it on to your baby or that he/she will get GBS, but it can be pretty serious if the baby gets it.  Fortunately, I passed my GBS test and was negative! I feel like I've had enough with antibiotics during my life so if I can avoid it one more time I'm quite happy. Well, while I was being tested for GBS, my doctor did an internal exam (um, hello! only 35 wks! -- was a little surprised to be honest) and told me I was already dilated about 2 cm, 50% effaced, and the baby was at the -1 station.  Her reaction really freaked me out.  She thought I would likely have the baby within the next 1-2 weeks.  As I said, I was only 35 weeks. Which meant at most, in her mind, I'd make it to 37 weeks. She then added, "Of course you could make it to your due date and then you'd be frustrated with me."

Well here I am, sitting on my heiny in my home, blogging, at 38 weeks.  And I'm not in labor.  And I have no idea how dilated I am at this point, or when the baby is coming.  But the doctor really sent us into freakout mode for a while, which was good because things needed to get done, but may have been a bit preemptive.  With Mia I never thought I would go early (and I hardly did, she was born within her 40th week).  I say it was preemptive because at 38 weeks, knowing I could totally go 2 more weeks and be just fine, I wake up every day and think, could this be it? Surely, I hope not, because I do not feel ready (! And then again, other days I'm ready to get this show on the road!

The truth about labor ... and the bambino
I know, just as well as from hearing it with Mia, and from saying it to others, the baby will come when he is ready.  My chiropractor once told me some hormone between mom and baby sync up when labor is ready to start and before then there's not much you can do about it. So, I need to let things lie and just get on with my business.  The only reason I'd want him to come earlier is for health reasons, which is an entirely different subject---
This guy's growth is slowing down (he's still growing but no longer in the middle of his peer group with respect to weight), so we don't want him to fall too far down the percentile rankings.  Yet, all his other signs look good, including the amniotic fluid and his movements and breathing, heart rate, etc.  Maybe Greg & I just make small babies.  What more can we do?  I'm eating as much real food as I can stomach! ;)

Weekend Recap
And all of that to say, we had a great weekend and Halloween. Like another friend who is due any day (more so than I am), I'm glad we didn't have an October baby because it meant I got to experience one more fun weekend with Mia.  We took her to a horse farm way out in Oldsmar on Saturday and had a blast.  There was so much to do we literally couldn't do everything.  

They had plenty of farm animals to pet & feed, a hayride, "train rides," a pumpkin patch, hay to climb, pony rides, face painting, craft making, swings/playground, snakes, a tire name it, it was there.

A Zorse: offspring of a male zebra & female horse

And Mia was once again, Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween. But she figured out her costume this year, actually kept on the cape, and liked the hood.

getting ready for Kindermusik class

All prepped to "trick or treat!"

Cheesing with Braden in front of a totally decked out Halloween house

To tie this awfully long post back together, I'm still making lists, and still crossing off items. If I were to go into labor tonight, would I have everything ready? Not in my ideal world. We'd make do, though.  I'm 38 weeks, and this is Megan C., signing off.

Let's have a Nice November, shall we?