Thursday, June 19, 2014

What All the Fuss Is About

 I sat down on the couch to write this post, baby in one arm, but I had to stand up. Leah doesn't like me to sit very often. :) It's incredibly hard to find time to blog right now (let alone eat, shower, or sleep), but I want to make sure I record my thoughts and feelings during this phase of life. So I'm doing it on my phone, with one hand, while I walk around the house so Leah will stay asleep. It took several days to actually complete this post.

Nate and I have managed to create yet another fussy baby. I don't really like to even say it because I feel like people will think I'm crazy. 4 colicky infants? 4 high need babies? 4 little ones that don't sleep well and want to us to do elevator movements with them to help them sometimes calm down? It's hard to believe that every one of them have been difficult. And each pregnancy we have thought, this one has to be easy. But that's just not how we make 'em. I definitely don't claim to have hard toddlers or hard kids in general...but babies...we have fussy babies. We've talked about it all, read about it all (reflux, my diet, gas, etc), and heard of every remedy. Some work a little bit. Mostly we just believe it's something to wait out and that she is and will be perfectly fine. 

They have all varied in difficulty of course. And Leah is very healthy and nurses like a champ. And my older 3 have been so good and really stepped up their game when my attention is on Leah 90% of the time. So I definitely don't intend for this to be a post where I complain...but I do want to document life as it is now. Before I know it I'll be looking back on this post as Leah toddles around the house. 

So many people talk about how quickly time flies with their newborn. How they want to slow it down, they want them little forever, and they enjoy this phase SO much.  A quiet, snuggly, sleeping baby IS quite possibly the closest thing to heaven. I love my babies with every fiber of my being and every ounce of me, but I would be crazy to want "this" phase to never end. I've never experienced those feelings of wanting a tiny baby to never grow up. If I'm completely honest, I can hardly wait for them to grow! At least enough to not cry so much. Or to be content while they are awake for more than 10 minutes. Or to not have my stomach in knots as she screams in her car seat almost every time we go somewhere. Not that we leave the house much. :)

I feel like "colicky" babies are a sort or private battle to be fought. They always sleep great and don't cry when you are around others. It's those hours and hours at home (often in the evening or the middle of the night) when they really drain you. Nate often does lunges to get Leah to stop crying, and I prefer the "elevator" move that's similar to a squat. Swaddling is a must. 

Some days Leah is in our arms probably 20 hours of the day. That counts feeding of course and also night time. Often at night she sleeps in the recliner with me because it's the only way either of us get any rest. She must be in a deep sleep in order for us to put her down in her bed during the day, and even then she often wakes up after about 10 minutes. She definitely prefers our arms. That gets really hard when you have 3 other kids! When she IS out of my arms I feel like I need to snuggle with Emmy and give her some attention. Leah hates her car seat. Nate and I have always been in awe of people who bring their baby to church in a car seat and the baby stays in there quietly for most of the meetings. Not Leah! We are pushing her to take the pacifier every day, but it's a lot of work to get her to take it. 

It's funny the things you crave so badly when they become difficult or are taken away. A trip to the grocery store by myself has become my idea of fun. I enjoy showers so much once I finally get to it in the day.  I want so badly to lay in my bed for an entire night instead of spending part of it pacing the house or in a recliner. And to do my hair! I can't wait to actually do my hair again. 

Our sweet little Leah is endless work, and she is also endless happiness. 

She's not smiling yet, but I snapped this picture that sure looks like she is.

I took this one evening when I took Leah on a walk to keep her happy and to get out of the house.

Shield your eyes if you feel the need...this is Emmy nursing her "baby."

Nate and I feel that children are such a blessing to our life, and these choice spirits don't come without a price. I believe pregnancy and raising a family HAS to be very hard because the joy and happiness it brings is incalculable. These rough days will pass. We've been here before. And going through them really does help us enjoy the not-so-rough days even more. 

Oh...and I cut my hand on an olive can last week. It was awful. I was beyond thankful Nate was home. He stitched it up, and it's healing great. That week we also battled fevers (Natalie and Emmy) and some long appointments at the hospital to check on my hearing problems from the pregnancy (hearing is great now). Phew. Being a mom is crazy town. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Leah's Birth

All day Friday there were no signs of labor, just an occasional mild contraction. Around 8:55 pm that night the contractions started to be more painful. They weren't crazy intense, but they were different than any I'd had in the last week or so. I timed a few of them, and then I just told Nate I thought we should go to the hospital since I was 40 weeks. I told him we could always turn around if they stopped, but in case this was the real deal we may as well get going. We grabbed our things and headed out the door by about 9:30 pm. We decided to take Nate's car so his mom would have the Pilot with all the car seats. It was low on gas, but thankfully Nate had some in a container and we poured that in and took off. I'm so glad that Nate's mom was there to be with the kids and we didn't have to take them somewhere or wait for someone to come over. We may not have made it to the hospital in time if we hadn't been able to leave right then. 

I was doing ok, but about halfway to the hospital (with no traffic it was about a 20-25 minute drive) I was starting to need to breathe through the contractions. Nate was on the phone with the hospital letting them know we were on our way and giving them the details in doctor talk. As we drove up to the gates to show our ID, the driver in front of us seemed to be having a particularly relaxed and long conversation with the guard as he checked his ID. Finally Nate hollered out the window that his wife was in labor. The guard quickly waved us through. We debated between going to the parking garage or leaving our car in an area at the front of the hospital and hustling in. Since it was nighttime and the garage wouldn't be crowded and was close to the entrance anyway, we just went to the garage. We quickly parked and I kind of hobbled/hurried in through the contractions.

Of course Labor and Delivery was super busy that night. They put me in a triage room and started doing all the "things" they do and asking all the questions they ask. There was a medical student on call that night (Max Lystrup) that is a friend of Nate's (he is the one who actually caught Leah), and both he and Nate were excited to see each other. I was starting to really be in a lot of pain. I remember really trying to breathe and kind of rocking my head from side to side during the contractions. Since so many ladies had shown up in labor within such a short time that night, the doctor was slow to come in.  So Nate checked my cervix, and I was already dilated to 7cm, 90% effaced. Not long after that they wheeled me into a real delivery room. The anesthesiologist came into the room to talk to me about the epidural, and I asked for one as quickly as possible and signed the consent form. She then left to get her cart and supplies. After she left I basically asked everyone if there was even time for an epidural and should we just move forward without it. Believe me, I wanted one! But I also didn't want to go through all the mess of getting it placed, etc if in the end it was just going to make things take longer and not even work in time. Everyone basically said the baby was coming fast, and I should probably just forget it. By the time the anesthesiologist came back to place the epidural I was already feeling the urge to push, so it was too late anyway. That urge to push always kind of freaks me out.

I remember I was sweating so bad. I started to get nauseous and they brought me a bowl that I could have easily thrown up in, but somewhere in my mind I decided the act of throwing up would be painful and just kind of burped and tried to keep it all in. Since I was really sweating, Nate was trying to cool me off by blowing on me and I asked him to stop because I did not want to smell his breath. When I am in labor I get easily annoyed with people around me. I can remember feeling that way with certain people during each of my deliveries. Earlier when I first got to the hospital I wanted to smack the nurses as they small talked to each other, and I wanted to knock Nate's head off during his casual conversations with the medical student. 

Our regular doctor (who we love) had left town that afternoon for a few days for Memorial Day weekend. We had known from the beginning of my pregnancy that he may not be at the actual delivery. He has a lot of responsibilities at the medical school, etc. There was a nurse midwife (Casey) there that was helping me through everything, and I really liked her. She asked me if I wanted her to break my water, and that the baby would probably come very quickly after that. I said, yes, yes, anything to make this go faster. I was in SO much pain. I just remember trying to figure how to escape the to remove myself from the situation somehow. I had NO idea how I was going to continue to exist while experiencing that much pain. It sounds so dramatic, but that's what I was feeling. Every minute seemed like an eternity. I was squeezing Nate's hand so hard and digging my nails into his hand and just yelling "what am I supposed to do?!" I didn't know if I should scream, push, breathe or what. I remember that when it was time to push the midwife kept saying my name loudly and told me I needed to hold my legs. I was sweating so much my IV just fell off my arm.

After only a few pushes, the baby's head emerged and the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.  The midwife Casey and medical student Max together pulled the umbilical cord loop over her head and pulled Leah out, since she seemed to be momentarily stuck.  As her arms emerged, they found the umbilical cord was also wrapped around her belly.  They had to "deliver through" this cord, again pulling her out.  This all happened over about 1-2 minutes.  Super fast!  They suctioned her mouth and placed her right on my belly. I know this is a special moment for many mothers, but I have never had the desire to have my babies placed on my skin immediately and before being cleaned up. I still remember the feel of her warm skin as they laid her there, and I was happy to have her close. And then she pooped on me. :) She was very quiet and purplish, but after a minute of rubbing and stimulating her she finally started crying.  It wasn't until about 15 minutes after her birth that she really started crying better, so the midwife called pediatrics to come evaluate her.  About 20 minutes into her little life, the pediatrics resident and attending had evaluated her, and she was much pinker and breathing better, so they "gave her their blessing" and left. 

She weighed 8 lbs 2 oz. Her full name is Leah Kim Nye. Nate and I had struggled the whole pregnancy choosing a name, and we still hadn't decided at the time she was born. Leah was on our list, but not really anywhere near the top. We just both ended up liking and feeling best about the name Leah after meeting her.

I spent about 36 hours in the hospital. The nights were long and pretty sleepless, but I feel like my recovery has gone really well. We made it home on Sunday morning with just a couple hours till we had to get Kim to the airport. It was SO nice to have her here, and we're so glad Leah came before she left! All the kids wanted to name the baby May, and to this day, stubborn little Emmy insists that's her name. They all love her. Natalie is very motherly and sweet with her and is constantly saying, "She's so cute!" Jansen really hates hearing her cry, and always tries to soothe her when she is upset. It has been a big adjustment of course, but we are so, so in love with our little Leah!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Days Before Leah's Arrival

When I was 39 weeks, Dr. Stephens stripped my membranes. It was a Friday morning. This put me into labor quickly with Natalie (at 40 weeks) and had worked pretty well with Emmy as well at 39 weeks. Nate and I were both fairly optimistic we would have the baby that weekend. I had care for the kids all lined up, their overnight bags packed to sleep at the Rasmussens, and back up for Saturday if I was still in labor that day. We dropped Emmy off at a friend's house and then headed to the clinic for the appointment. The appointment went fine, and we stayed in Bethesda for a couple hours to see if  I would really start contracting. We had lunch just the two of us, which was really nice, and then decided to go get Emmy because I clearly wasn't going to have a baby in the next couple hours. 

There was a time in the evening that the contractions picked up and we debated going to the hospital. I prayed, debated over and over in my head, and decided it wasn't time and that we should all just go to bed like a normal night. On Saturday we decided the best thing at that point would be for the baby to stay IN until Nate's mom arrived on Tuesday night. Turns out Leah was perfectly happy waiting till then and even a few days after Kim's arrival as well. :) We had another appointment with Dr. Stephens on Wednesday and he stripped my membranes again. He said not much had changed, and he did not think it was going to put me into labor. That was a little surprising, but I really felt like she would come when it was time and when it was right. We ended up having a great time doing a little sight seeing in the days before Leah was born. We made a stop at the National Gallery of Art and the Sculpture Garden on Thursday.

And here I am trying to summon the labor inducing powers of the rabbit.

It was such a gorgeous day in DC.

We walked over to the Washington Monument that afternoon as well. We have driven by it many times, but this was my first time actually visiting the grounds. I was pretty proud of myself for trekking around that day almost 40 weeks pregnant!

On Friday we drove to Bethesda to show Kim the new hospital (Walter Reed National Military Medical Center). We also grabbed lunch and cupcakes. 

I repeat my love for these cupcakes. They really are divine.

Although I was incredibly anxious to not be pregnant anymore, the big reason we really wanted Leah to come soon was so that Kim would not miss her arrival. Her flight was scheduled for Sunday around 3, and it was now Friday afternoon. 

After school Nate finished up a rope swing for the backyard. No more squirrel obstacle course. The kids love it. We had a little pizza and movie night later, and then put everyone to bed.