Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Celebration and Mourning


Everyday moments with my little ones—nursing Reese, helping Jace hold his sister, singing “The Wheels on the Bus” while laying next to both of my babies in Jace’s bed, a trip to Target as our family of four, holding both my children in my lap while Nolan vacuumed (one because she was eating, the other because he is scared of the vacuum)—have taken greater meaning and weight.

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A girl I went to college with, yet really didn’t know, lost her baby the other day. She was 38 weeks pregnant when they discovered there was no longer a heartbeat. Just a few months ago I was doing hair for a wedding that she was in. While she curled her own hair and I pinned up that of others, we had fun talking about our babies; we were due only a few weeks apart. She was thrilled to be having a son for her first child. I was thrilled to be having a daughter for my second. And now she is having to say goodbye to that precious boy while I get to say hello to new memories every moment with my precious girl.

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Over the past few years I have cried through the blog posts of women who either had a child be born into heaven, or a farewell was said within hours of the birth. I couldn’t help but wonder if knowing their stories was meant to prepare me for a similar one myself. This wondering bred great fear in me throughout my pregnancy with Reese. A little spotting at the beginning and I was desperately pleading with God not to let me lose this baby. Sporadic movements from her at a time when they were supposed to be increasing in frequency had me obsessing over the possibility that she was in distress. Lower abdominal pain drove me to Google. While my fear didn’t always show itself to the world around me, it was ruling my thoughts. I finally realized that by allowing this fear to rule in my mind, I wasn’t trusting God to take care of my child.

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I’ve come to understand that knowing the stories of great grief and loss for women like Molly and Angie doesn’t mean I need to assume I will share a similar experience. But it does mean I can have a greater level of understanding and empathy when people I know or know of experience a day/week/month/life-shattering sadness. And their stories have made me more grateful for the story I get to live through. A strong sounding heartbeat. Fully formed limbs in an ultrasound. Organs that function like they should. Birthing a living, breathing, screaming baby.

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And as I wince while getting up from the couch, feel sore from muscles having to change where they support and have a belly that probably won’t reduce itself as quickly as I’d like it to, I’m thankful. Thankful because I get to hold and look at my precious baby while experiencing these reminders of the life that I carried within me for nine months.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Introducing Reese!

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Reese Elizabeth Nelson joined our family at 1:03 am on Friday, October 5. We are absolutely in love with her and I love being a family of four! She was 7 pounds 13 ounces and 19 3/4 inches long. She made her appearance VERY quickly and left me and Nolan in awe of how well a birth experience can go (Jace’s long, drawn out, dramatic story can be read here).


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We had been expecting Reese at any time for a while—at my appointment the week before my doctor had told me she could come “any day now.” Wednesday the 3rd I had my regular check up only to be discouraged by the news that there wasn’t any progress from the week before. I had been having regular contractions and lots of aching and warning signs that labor was coming soon, so to have all that amount to no progress was quite the let down. Because my cervix was so soft, my doctor felt I would be a prime candidate for induction and we schedule it for Friday the 5th at 6 am. It was nice knowing we had a scheduled end. My doctor went ahead and still stripped my membranes (which proved to be ineffective the week before) and we hoped she might come on her own. I had steady, mild contractions for the rest of the day, but sleep that night put a stop to everything.


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Thursday, our due date, brought even fewer contractions and by mid afternoon I figured we’d just have to wait until the next morning to meet our baby girl. My parents headed to Salem for the evening, so Jace, Nolan and I went out to First Burger for dinner to enjoy one last special time as our family of three. On our way there I had a stronger mild contraction, and then another one shortly after we got to the restaurant. When another one came I started timing them (6:30 pm). They were coming about 12 minutes apart. While distinct, it didn’t take anything more than a pause from talking to get me through the contraction.


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We got home around 7:30 and the contractions were starting to get a little stronger but were inconsistently between 9 and 14 minutes apart. I was bracing myself for them to just go away. As they got a little stronger, all it took was laying on my side on the couch and breathing through them while Nolan rubbed my back. Jace had no idea what was going on and thought it was fun to help Daddy rub my back. My parents got to our house around 8, and at that point the only thing different was that the pain was getting stronger. By 9 we were confident this baby was coming at some point, so Nolan hopped in the shower thinking he had about a 9 minute window before the next one hit. Immediately, my contractions jumped to 2-3 minutes apart, and were lasting close to 2 minutes each. My mom and I decided I needed to go to the hospital and not wait for the hour stretch of consistent contractions. She started getting the last items we had left to pull together packed, and once Nolan got out of the shower we were moving quickly to get out of the house (all while trying to get through some very painful contractions in the process). We didn’t get a final “bump shot” since I was in too much pain and worried we might not make it to the hospital.


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We delivered Jace in Corvallis which meant we had a 25 minute drive to the hospital. Delivering in Albany this time was wonderful because we only had a 7 minute drive! I was so thankful to be completely preregistered at the hospital because they were able to get us right up to the maternity floor right away (that is, after one contraction of me on all fours on the floor in the ER waiting room). We were in our room at 10.


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The nurse checked me and I was just at 3 cm, which felt so discouraging! We were worried they might try to send us home and tell us we weren’t really in labor (what happened with Jace), but they reassured as that would not happen. And even if I wasn’t in labor, they would have admitted me since I’d be back in a few hours for the induction. At this point my contractions were one on top of the other with no more than a 30 second break in between. The doctor on call approved my epidural (music to my ears!), and then it was just a matter of waiting for the anesthesiologist to arrive. My epidural was fully working by 11:30 (LOVED it!), and a little after that my nurse checked me since it had been about 2 hours since she last had. I was so happy to hear I was at a 6! (My nurse later admitted that I was closer to a 7, but she didn’t want to get my hopes up.) We were told to settle in, get some rest and it would be a few hours before I might feel some pressure that would indicate Reese was getting ready to come out.


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Less than 15 minutes later I felt a change and some pressure in my back. I debated calling my nurse, thinking it might not be enough pressure to warrant attention. I paged anyways, and when she went to check me she was shocked and said, “Your sack is coming out!” My water hadn’t broken yet, and the water sack was on its way out. My nurse hadn’t seen this happen before, so she called the other Labor and Delivery nurses, and they kicked things into gear saying this baby was on her way! The doctor was called at home to come in (he had been monitoring me from his computer at home) and our room was prepped for the delivery. When my nurse went to check how dilated I was my water broke and Reese’s head was right there. I was told to hold tight and not do anything that might be pushing. We needed to wait for the doctor!


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The doctor got there soon after, checked me and said to go ahead and push as soon as I was ready. Nolan and I were shocked that it was already time. On the next contraction I started pushing, and with just 5 pushes on that contraction Reese was born! I got all teary and I’m pretty sure said something like, “That was amazing!” So different from the 2.5 hours of pushing followed by forceps with Jace! After unwrapping the cord from around Reese (it was wrapped 3 times around her), she was placed on my stomach skin to skin. She was screaming! And not mild newborn screams, but loud, adamant screams. She laid there for a while just screaming and I loved being able to take her in.


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After a little while they took her to clean her up and then handed her back to me to nurse. She took right to it without any problems and I loved having this special time with her. After she ate Nolan had his turn at holding her and it was so precious for me to watch him rock and talk to her. He just rocked her for about an hour while I dozed off. They bathed Reese while we were still in the delivery room (waiting for my epidural to wear off), and while she loved having her hair washed she made it clear she did NOT appreciate the rest of the bathing process. Finally, at 4 am we were moved to our room. Everyone was amazed by how quickly she came. Our nurse hadn’t even had a chance to get my chart started since there really wasn’t a moment of down time between getting me into the room and Reese coming out.


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Because she came so quickly, her little head was perfectly shaped and we couldn’t get over how beautiful she was. Her nose is very similar to Jace’s, but her eyes are different. We’re thinking she might have the same eyes as Nolan’s baby pictures, but it’s still hard to say at this point. Later in the morning my parents were able to bring Jace to meet her and he was instantly in love.


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We enjoyed our visitors and our little girl slept through everything! She is quite the sleeper and very content until she decides something is not going how she’d like and she makes her opinion very known.


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I love how much Jace loves her. Both times he visited he wanted to know exactly where “Sissy” was, and smiled so much as he’d look at all her features. Since we’ve been home (we came home early Saturday afternoon), he wants to know everything that’s happening with her, loves to look at her, and is so obvious about his love of her. At one point, he started playing with nick names for her saying, “Sissy. Sis. Reese. Reesey. Reesers. Jace and Reesers. Jacers and Reesers!” And since then, he’s either called her Sissy or Reesers.


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I love our little family! Jace doesn’t have any jealousy over the attention we give Reese, but we’ve definitely seen him struggling from the fact that we were gone for two days and that I’m just not physically able to do the same things with him as I could before giving birth (all things that I’ll be able to do again, just not until I’ve healed). Nolan is taking two weeks off which I think is the best thing possible for Jace right now—he loves having so much time to play with Daddy!


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Reese continues to sleep a lot—with only a few short spurts of alertness each day (although they are becoming longer each day). Our first night was rough as she only wanted to be screaming or eating until about 3 or 4 in the morning, but she slept after that. The second night was wonderful as she slept for 3 and 4 hour stretches with minimal fussing in between feedings. Last night we had a rough start, but she finally wore herself out and slept great between feedings!


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At her weight check yesterday she’d dropped to 7 pounds 3 ounces, an 8% weight loss, so they’d really like to see her gain some weight. Thankfully, she’s becoming more cooperative when I wake her up to eat!


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She has such an expressive face and we just crack up watching all the different looks she has. 


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She loves being swaddled at night, but loves having freedom during the day.


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Diaper changes are considered abuse in her mind, but being put in the car seat is soothing and puts her to sleep.


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I am so captivated every time I watch Jace near her. Today she was sleeping in her bouncer and he sat next to her for about 10 minutes talking to and about her, touching her head, and just loving her.


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We can’t wait to see more of her personality come out.


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And in the mean time, I’m loving dressing her in all this pink!