Posts tagged Baby

The Brooklyn Bridge, The End of the World, and a Nosy Lady

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With the impending move, we felt like we needed one last romp around the city, to remember what we will be leaving, and especially to show Brooklyn what this amazing city is like outside of the little Washington Heights bubble she has lived in for her first two months of existence. While it was a little sad to know we may never see these sights again, we realized just how right the decision to move is at this point in our lives, and we gained a new appreciation for the handicapped and those with small children who live their lives in the city.

In Central Park

My good friend from college, Jon (Snake, for those of you from Taylor) was in town for work, so we met up with him for lunch at Shake Shack on the Upper West Side. We ate on the benches outside the Museum of Natural History (yes, I somehow made it five years in NYC without going to a single museum…sad, I know). Brooklyn was pretty good up until this point, but was starting to get fussy, so we walked into Central Park and walked all the way across to our old neighborhood, the Upper East Side.

After a quick Starbucks visit (always a must), we got some pics at the reservoir in Central Park, and then walked back through our old haunts. Luckily, our favorite bartender in the city, Jara, was working at Bullpen, our favorite sports bar on the UES, so we went in to say goodbye and introduce her to Brooklyn. She served us many a drink and meal on college football Saturdays the past few years when Michigan and Notre Dame were playing at the same time and we were forced to go to a bar to watch.

We then got on the train and went down to the Brooklyn Bridge because Brooklyn can’t leave NYC without ever seeing the famous bridge she’s (not really) named after. We walked halfway across, got some good pics, and walked back. By that time, Carrie had to feed Brooklyn again, so we stopped at some benches at the foot of the bridge. A guy nearby started counting down, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1….” and surprise! the clock struck 6pm and the world didn’t end today after all. Who knew?

We walked over to the 2/3 train and took it up the west side to our favorite Thai place, Land. When we got off the train, to our amazement, the ground was soaked and people were just folding up their umbrellas. It had been perfectly sunny the entire day up until that point, and somehow, for the 30 minutes we were on the train, it stormed like crazy, but was done by the time we came back above ground.

Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Bridge

The train was a pain in and of itself, as Brooklyn wasn’t feeling her stroller, so Carrie was carrying her in the Moby wrap and I was holding the stroller on the PACKED train, feeling the dirty looks burning holes right through me as people were forced to contort their bodies around the stroller (that wasn’t even holding a baby) to hold onto the poles.

Dinner at Land was amazing as always, except that Brooklyn always has this knack for waking up and getting fussy right when the food comes. I mean, there are certain things you can count on in this world, like the sun coming up, the wold not ending on May 21, 2011, and Brooklyn not letting us eat peacefully.

After dinner is where things got really interesting, as if God was confirming to us that it was indeed time to leave this city. We left Land, which is at 82nd & Amsterdam, and walked across to try to catch the A train on Central Park West. We carried the stroller down the subway stairs only to realize that the A was running express from 59th to 125th, so we would either have to take the downtown A to 59th and transfer to the uptown, or walk across to the 1 at 86th & Broadway.

Brooklyn enjoying her first trip to the Brooklyn Bridge

We didn’t really want to go back downtown, so we walked across to the 1. We got down the stairs just as a 3 train was pulling away. Hmmm, that’s weird, the 3 train shouldn’t be stopping here. Apparently the 1 train was skipping that stop today. The 2 and 3 go to the Bronx, not anywhere near our place, so we have to take the 1. So we got on the next train that came by, a 2 train, and took it to 96th and transfered to the 1. Then, we found out that the 1 was only going to 168th (we go to 191st) due to construction. Great. It’s 9:30, we’ve been out all day, Brooklyn is so tired, and we don’t want to get off at 168th because it’s not a great neighborhood and hard to catch cabs there.

We decided we would take the 1 to 125th and transfer to the A. Unfortunately, that involved carrying Brooklyn and the stroller down a huge set of stairs from the 1 train, and then walking a few blocks across a dicey neighborhood at night and then down more stairs to the A.

We made it just as a train was pulling in. Whew, finally some luck, we thought. Nope. As soon as we got on, Brooklyn lost it. Screaming as if we had just ripped off her arm. We were trying to calm her down, but she was tired and hungry and overstimulated from a long day, and nothing was working. It’s hard enough being “those people” with a screaming baby on the subway, annoying everyone else. But then, this lady gets up and comes over to us and has the following exchange with Carrie:

Lady: “What’s wrong with her?”

Carrie: “She’s hungry and tired.”

Lady: “Well why don’t you give her a bottle?”

Carrie: “She’s breastfed.”

Lady: “Well you’re supposed to pump so you have bottles.”

Carrie: “Yes, but she won’t take a bottle.”

Lady: “She won’t take a bottle? Well what about a pacifier?”

Carrie: “She won’t take that either.”

Lady: “Well do you have one?”

Carrie: “No, we don’t have one with us because she refuses them.”

Lady: “Well shouldn’t you hold her?”

Carrie: “We’re getting off soon, so I’ll just have to put her right back in the stroller.”

Lady: “How far are you going?”

Carrie: “To 190th Street.”

So then the lady goes back and sits down and says to her friends, “It’s okay, they’re getting off in a couple stops.”

It took everything in me not to punch the lady, and it infuriated Carrie as well. She handled it amazingly, but was really upset because she was already horrified that her daughter was screaming on the subway and there was nothing we could do about it at that point, but then this nosy, meddling lady pretty much made her feel like the worst mother ever in front of a train full of people.

It was a great day overall and some of the places really made us sad to leave the city, but the difficulty of taking a baby in a stroller through the city, and having strangers who always think they know better tell you how to handle your kid really made us glad we’re moving out to the suburbs. We realized how hard it must be for handicapped people in this city because it’s really not designed for them at all. Most of the subway stations don’t have elevators, MTA service has gotten continually worse over the past five years while prices have continually risen, and sidewalks are so packed with people rushing past that it’s hard enough to push a stroller, let alone a wheelchair or anything like that.

We lived the city life for five or six years and loved it, but now that we have a family, and life is about more than just having a good time together, it’s time to go.

The Birth Story as Told by Mom

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No turning back

I went to bed Thursday night feeling good, but really tired.  It was the only day since going back to work that I had stayed all the way until 5pm…go figure.  Around 12:30, I got up to go to the bathroom, and was hardly awake, when suddenly my legs were soaked and I realized this was not normal.  Suddenly I’m running the 10 feet to the bathroom yelling, “J, I think my water just broke!!!!”  I sat there in disbelief as I realized that, in fact, my water had broken and that meant there was no turning back now.  Justin came into the bathroom trying to wake up and comprehend what I was saying, and to process exactly what it meant.

We decided not to call our doctor because we knew that we would then be “on the clock” to deliver within 24 hours, but labor had not started at all at this point, and we didn’t want to risk being induced.  Justin called Tanya, our doula, and she agreed with our decision and told us to get as much rest as possible and to text her when contractions started, and to then call around 5am.

We went back to bed and contractions started within 30 minutes or so.  I told Justin to go to sleep, that I could easily handle these early contractions without any help, and I needed him to be as rested as possible in the coming hours.  This lasted probably an hour and then I really needed his help to get through each contraction.

As I was lying there, I was trying to relax every part of my body so that my uterus could take all the energy it needed in order to make the contractions effective.  I pictured my uterus as a piece of machinery that was gaining power with each contraction.  I envisioned it pulling all the energy inward from each of my limbs, which were totally limp.  With each contraction, a little bit more of my uterus would light up, and eventually the whole thing would light up, and that would be when I was ready to push.  This worked for a while, but eventually, lying down was no longer an option.

There were some really challenging contractions, and all I wanted to do was take a hot shower or bath to help me relax.  Unfortunately, our building has a sub-par hot water heater so Justin kept checking for me, but there was zero hot water, so I just had to wait until it kicked in again.  I was really emotional at this point, and kept crying in between contractions about how I wanted so badly to do this labor naturally, but I just wasn’t sure that I could actually do it.  Justin was amazing at keeping me focused on the present and telling me that not only could I do it, I was actually doing it, so just keep it up!  I could feel myself becoming more and more dependent on him with every contraction as the intensity picked up and my energy level was dropping.

Justin helped me sit up and that helped some, but it limited how much I could relax the rest of my body.  We tried sitting on the birthing ball (an exercise ball), leaning over it (NOT a good position for me), and anything else we could think of to help relieve some of the pain and allow me to relax.  Eventually, I ended up sitting on the toilet and that was the most comfortable I was for the next eight hours or so.

Yes I can!

Around 7am, Justin ran to Duane Reade for me to get some drinks and other things I needed.  At first, I was totally terrified to have him leave. He had been with me for every contraction and was so encouraging that the thought of him being gone even for a little bit was almost too much.  I really needed him to go to the store, though, so I decided to get into the shower and thank the Lord we had hot water.  As I stood in the shower, I rocked back and forth and started chanting, “Yes I can!!”  I realized that mentally, labor was getting away from me, and if I was serious about doing this med-free, I was going to have to gain control of my mind and work hard to focus.

While Justin was gone, I started throwing up during contractions, so as soon as he got back he called Tanya and told her this.  She said she was on her way over right away, since this was a change in my labor and indicated that things had stepped up.  When Tanya arrived and rang our doorbell I had just started a contraction and Justin started to head to the buzzer to let her in.  I think it’s a miracle that my nails didn’t dig into his arms to keep him with me until the contraction ended.  He had no more than opened the door for her when another one came and I was screaming from the bathroom for him to come back to me—I think he covered the length of our apartment in about 3 leaps to get to me!

Tanya and Justin talked for a minute and I remember hearing her say, “Oh she looks great, she’s really doing it, this is great” so that was encouraging.  I was really doubting myself because I didn’t think I was doing it “right.”  I told Tanya this and she was so sweet—she said of course I was doing it right, I’m having my baby and I’m doing exactly what I needed to do!

We had arranged for our dog Buddy to go to a dog sitter’s house while we had the baby, so once Tanya arrived, Justin was planning to take him.  While he was getting dressed to leave, Tanya asked me where Justin needed to go, and when I told her 27th street (we live on 196th), her face totally changed and she immediately went to tell Justin that Buddy was on his own because that was NOT an option at this point.  I must say, I was really relieved because I really didn’t want him to leave me.

Next time, have a home birth…

Instead, she said we were going to the hospital because I was in a lot of labor at that point.  Suddenly, I was really scared at the prospect of going to the hospital and really having this baby.  It also didn’t help to think of getting into a cab and driving down the West Side Highway while contracting, but as Tanya explained, “Next time have a home birth, but right now, we’re going to the hospital”.

I think that was what I needed to hear—that we’re going and that we’ll take it one minute at a time, and at the end I would have my baby girl.  I had 2 contractions before we got to the front door of our building so I’m sure the people on the first floor thought some animal was dying in the lobby, but it was really just my moaning.

As we got into the cab, the driver looked totally terrified and started yelling “ambulancia, ambulancia!!” Tanya assured him that I was fine, this was not an emergency and he needed to get us to the hospital.  As we were driving, I was holding my head halfway out the window and Tanya was putting counter-pressure on my hips to relieve some of the tension and pressure.  This was by far the longest car ride of my life and ended with a trip down what I have labeled the road from hell—where potholes in NYC go to die!!  As we pulled up to the hospital I heard the driver (speaking Spanish), giving our credit card number to the dispatcher and he was saying, “Run the number, this woman is going to give birth in my car!!!”

As we got into the elevator at the hospital, someone had the nerve to get in with us and press for a stop at the 5th floor (we’re going to the 12th).  Even in my state of semi-awareness I wanted to tell them how annoying that was to me in that moment.  We also stopped at the 2nd floor so someone else could get on, but they took one look at me and decided it was not worth it!  Finally we got to the 12th floor and I was so relieved to be there—the final leg of the journey!

Been here before

The waiting room in triage was packed, but at this point I couldn’t open my eyes, I was just focused on each contraction as it came so I just kept doing my thing.  After about 20 minutes of waiting (and lots of contractions, and throwing up in front of a bunch of strangers), we were called back into triage.

As we went back, I felt myself getting really defensive because our hospital separates the laboring mother from her spouse to do a domestic violence screening (yes, WHILE she is in labor!).  The triage nurse started to tell us that we needed to be separated and at that point I was yelling, “He is NOT leaving me, there is no domestic violence, we have been here before!”  She was not fond of my behavior and said, “Well if you’ve been here before then you know how to put the gown on—last room on the right,” and walked off in a huff.

Once we got settled, Dr. Shulina came in to examine me and see our progress and this is where things went downhill for me, mentally.  She said I was at 4cm (I was expecting 7-8).  I wish I could say at this point that I was brave and courageous and kept my eyes on the prize, but I wasn’t and I didn’t.  I lost it.  I was sure she had made a mistake and was totally beside myself.  Justin was working so hard to keep me calm but I was truly in a state of panic.  Dr. Shulina had to really talk me down and get me to re-focus on what I was doing.  Contractions were really strong and I figured I had a good 8-12 hours to go and was convinced that I couldn’t do it—there was no way.  I told Justin I wanted the epidural and that I wanted it NOW.  I figured I would have it eventually, so there was no need to wait!  Again, I became really emotional, because I was so disappointed that we wouldn’t have the birth we both wanted so badly, but I was drowning in self-defeat by this time.

Justin was amazing—he just kept encouraging me to keep it up, that I was doing great, even though I kept telling him just the opposite.  Finally, Dr. Shulina decided that I was severely dehydrated because I was continuing to throw up all the water/Gatorade I was drinking, so I needed an IV.  She explained that my uterus was not relaxing between contractions because of the dehydration so in essence I wasn’t getting a break between contractions.  Although I wasn’t able to verbalize it, this made a big difference to me.  Knowing that something wasn’t working 100% the way it should made me think that maybe I could do this once my body was back to laboring the way it needed to.

The same nurse who greeted us at triage was responsible for getting my IV ready and in my arm, and she took her sweet time.  Even in my state of labor I knew this was taking a long time, and when she finally came in, it’s a miracle Justin didn’t smack her for not getting there sooner! Originally, I did NOT want an IV because I wanted to be free to walk around between contractions, but at this point I had no interest in walking, so I figured an IV couldn’t hurt.  The feeling of that cold liquid going into my arm was like pure adrenaline going into my body.

I had the IV in my arm for only 5-10 minutes when suddenly the room was full of nurses and doctors.  They were telling me that they couldn’t keep Brooklyn’s heart beat on the monitor and they needed me to turn onto my side.  I told them I couldn’t but the resident looked at me and said, “Your baby is in trouble—get on your side.”  Suddenly, what she was saying clicked in my mind and I rolled to my side and they started me on an oxygen mask.  Again, I really started to panic because I didn’t know what was going on but all of these people in our room made me think something was REALLY wrong.

I HAVE TO PUSH!

They did another exam to check my progress and just as the resident announced, “She’s fully plus two, go get Shulina,” I had the most unbelievable urge to push.  Dr. Shulina came right in and they started to move me into a delivery room (we had been in triage for about 30-40 minutes at this point).  As they’re moving my bed, my arm was lifted into the air because my IV was still attached to the wall.  A nurse told me to keep my arms inside the bed and Justin kindly reminded her that it was because my arm was attached to an IV which was still in our triage room!

As we were moving into the delivery room I told Shulina, “I HAVE TO PUSH”, and she responded with the calmest voice, “So push!”  That was a great comfort to me—I had been in a panic mode in triage and Shulina made it clear that this was the most natural thing in the world, so if I wanted to push then it’s time to push and that was fine with her! 

Once we got settled into the delivery room, Shulina started talking to me about how to push, and preparing me for the “ring of fire.”  I had read a LOT of labor stories and knew a lot about the stages of labor, so I was prepared for this, but I still found that I was scared.  Many of my friends had pushed for several hours and I told her I couldn’t do this for 3 hours!  Again, she was totally calm and said, “You won’t—you’ll be done very soon!”  She probably couldn’t have really known that, but at that moment I needed to hear it, and it helped change my attitude to an attitude of “Yes, I can do this—my body is designed for it!”

With the next contraction, I had the most satisfying feeling of pushing.  Finally, instead of trying to relax into contractions, and allowing my body to take over, I could do something in response to the urges.  I was mostly on my back but sitting up to push when again, Brooklyn’s heart rate was not steady enough for Shulina’s liking, so she had me lay on my right side.  Again, Justin was AMAZING.  My entire upper body was supported completely by him, and from my hips down I was on the bed on my side.  Between contractions I just wanted to bury my face in his chest and hold his hand because it was such a comfortable and safe place.  With each push it was amazing that I could feel Brooklyn moving through my body, and I knew I was so close to meeting her.

As she was starting to crown, Dr. Shulina took my hand so I could touch her head and I remember yelling, “I don’t want to touch her; I want her OUT!” It sounds bad, but what I really meant was that I didn’t want just the top of her head; I wanted to hold my baby girl!

The most beautiful sound

Finally, she was there, screaming bloody murder, and it was the most beautiful sound!  The cord was around her neck once, which was why her heart rate was dropping (it was being compressed), but once she was out everything was perfect!

When they handed her to me I couldn’t believe how tiny she was.  I also couldn’t believe that I had gone from 4 cm to holding my daughter in an hour and fifteen minutes (maybe less)!!  They took her away a few minutes later to get her foot prints and do the eye ointment, foot prick etc, and while I HATED being separated from her, it was a beautiful sight to see Justin over there with her with his hand covering almost her whole upper body.  Finally the nurse brought her back and Tanya helped us get started on breast feeding.

By far, this was the hardest most emotional experience of my life, but it was also an intensely empowering experience.  I felt like if Justin and I could handle this, we had a good start into parenthood.  I have never needed another human being the way I needed Justin during those 12 hours, and seeing the way he took care of me took our relationship to an even deeper level.  He was my rock– emotionally, physically and mentally throughout this labor.  I am so deeply thankful that we got the labor we wanted and that we did it together—Praise the Lord!

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The Birth Story As Told by Dad

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Well I’m sure many of you are anxious to hear the birth story, so we have decided to give it to you from two perspectives: mine and Carrie’s. While the overall story will be the same, the details will undoubtedly be different. We’ll start with mine, and Carrie’s will follow.

The beginning

It was Thursday night and we went to bed like any other weekday night, expecting to wake up and go to work in the morning. Although we had pressed some labor inducing pressure points the past couple days, we had no idea that labor was about to begin. Carrie fell asleep first as I worked on an article for my Michigan football/basketball site as is our usual nightly ritual. I finally turned off the computer and went to sleep around 11:30.

What seemed like a few hours later, I was awaken out of a deep sleep by Carrie jumping out of bed, running to the bathroom, and yelling, “J, I think my water broke!!!” I jumped up and ran into the bathroom, stepping in “water” all over the floor along the way. She asked what time it was, and thinking it had to be 3 or 4am, I looked at the clock shocked that it was only 12:30. We decided to call our doula, Tanya, to let her know. Since labor hadn’t actually started yet, she told us to go back to bed, get some rest, and not call the doctor, because they would tell us to come into the hospital right away and we would be on the clock. She told us to call her back at 5:30, or earlier if there was a major change.

We got back in bed hoping to get some sleep and expecting a long road ahead. All I could think of, however, is the Beastie Boys song “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” About a half hour later, labor started. Since we took Bradley classes and prepared for this moment, everything we learned was that if labor starts in the middle of the night, sleep in between contractions because you’ll need to save your energy for later.

Over the course of the next four hours, the contractions got worse and worse to the point where Carrie couldn’t lay down through them anymore. At 5:30, I called Tanya and gave her the update. She asked a bunch of questions and even talked to Carrie and we decided that she would come over around 10:30. We could make it until then, or so we thought.

The mistake

It became apparent that Carrie needed some items that she had run out of. The drug store, Duane Reade, opened at 7, so I ran out to get those items and some Gatorade right when they opened. This is where I made stupid dad mistakes number one and two. I made the seven block walk, got everything I needed, got to the checkout counter, and realized I had no money. I had forgotten my wallet. So I ran home, grabbed my wallet, ran back, paid, and ran back home sure that Carrie was going to kill me. Mistake number two was that in my hurry to grab everything, I got Gatorade G2, the low calorie kind. Tanya had specifically told Carrie to drink something with calories. But Carrie was fairly out of it by then, and we didn’t even realize until afterward.

The change

At that point, the contractions were getting really bad and the only position that seemed to work was sitting on the toilet. We tried pretty much all the techniques we had learned in Bradley class, but this was all that was working by now.

I talked to Tanya again because Carrie had started throwing up, and she said she would hop in a cab and come over right away. It would take her about an hour to get there. We kept fighting through the contractions and I tried the calming technique that she had told me she really wanted to use: visualizing the beach. Unfortunately, she was having none of it. She even said, “I don’t want to go to the beach; I want this to stop.” I was starting to lose hope (although I would never outwardly show it). I was definitely ready for some reinforcements, and thankfully, Tanya arrived.

The plan had been for me to take Buddy to a house-sitter when Tanya got there, but she quickly decided that Carrie was far enough along that it was time to go to the hospital. Sorry Buddy!

I called the doctor and told her the status, and she said to come in right away. It was 10am at this point. I called for a cab (not telling them that we had a pregnant lady in active labor).

The cab ride

Tanya told us we had to go, but Carrie didn’t think she could make it down the stairs, let alone a 20 minute cab ride. We got her dressed and I frantically grabbed our go-bag and the car seat. We made it outside, after stopping for contractions at the bottom of the stairs and in the building lobby. We climbed into the cab as Carrie was moaning “I can’t do this!” Tanya got in the back with Carrie and I rode shotgun to give the driver directions. When we got in, he wasn’t very happy with what he was seeing and hearing. He barely spoke English and kept saying “ambulancia! ambulancia!” Tanya calmed his nerves by telling him that we were going to make it to the hospital and to just get us there.

Along the way, Carrie was hurting from all the bumps. At one point, she screamed, “I’m going to die!!!!” Tanya was doing a great job of calming her down and reassuring her, while I was reaching my hand back from the front seat and letting her squeeze the life out of it. After we hit a little bit of construction on the West Side Highway, we got to our exit and then hit a road full of pot holes, to which Carrie screamed, “This is the road from hell!!!!” I think the cab driver got a little chuckle out of that, but we were only a couple blocks from the hospital, so he was calling in my credit card number to dispatch. They were taking forever to respond to him, so he was saying (in Spanish), “Run the credit card, this lady is going to give birth in my cab!”

The hospital

We made it to the hospital and Tanya took Carrie inside while I finished paying. As we got in an elevator, Carrie started another mammoth contraction. Some lady had the gall to get on and press the fourth floor (we were going to 12) and hold the door. Carrie screamed, “shut the door!!!” Then things got interesting.

We got off the elevator and walked into triage waiting room, which was filled, not with people in labor, just with people. We barely made it into the room when another huge contraction started, wailing, moaning, and all, so Tanya and I threw down our bags to support Carrie. A triage nurse had the nerve to say, in mid contraction, “You need to clear the way.” Tanya said we would do it after the contraction, but the nurse snarkily said, “one of you can hold her and one of you can move the bags.” Again, we said we would do it after the contraction, but she said something about it being for safety, to which Carrie yelled, “SERIOUSLY?!?!?”

The contraction ended, we moved the bags, and Carrie sat down in a chair. It took about 15-20 minutes for the nurses to call her in to a bed. Her contractions were almost non-stop at this point. When they called us in, Tanya told me to go in with her. New York has this awesome (as in, not awesome) law where they don’t let the male go in right away. They have to ask the patient questions about domestic violence first. Well, we were prepared (since we had already been there twice for early contractions). I went in with her and when the triage nurse started to say something, Carrie said, “He’s coming with me. There’s no domestic violence. We’ve been here before.” So the nurse then said, “Well if you’ve been here before, then you know how to put the gown on.”

We got to the little room in triage and made it through some more contractions. The doctor came in to check the cervix and our worst fears came true. She was only at 4cm. At that point, I didn’t think I would be able to keep Carrie going any longer. We had prepared for nine months to have a completely natural birth, she had stressed that she really didn’t want an epidural, and in our meeting with the doctor a couple weeks ago, she told her that. But at that moment, hearing that she was only 4cm when she expected to hear 8 or 9, she lost it.

Thankfully, the doctor was awesome. She encouraged Carrie and did just what she said she would do in our meeting: asking Carrie to just go a little longer. She also informed us that Carrie was dehydrated and needed an IV. Even if she got an epidural, she would still have to have the IV because the dehydration was keeping the cervix from relaxing in between contractions, which explained the extreme pain Carrie was in. She wasn’t getting any kind of rest in between.

We were in there for about 20 minutes and the IV really seemed to help, but Carrie was still really hurting and still asking for the epidural. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hold off. This whole time, every chance I got, I had been texting back and forth with Tanya, who was still in the waiting room (they only let one person in at a time in triage). She was giving me encouragement and saying that Carrie wasn’t really 4cm. Everything pointed towards much more than that.

All the sudden, two different nurses came in saying the baby’s heart rate was declining and they needed to check Carrie again. Just as they started to check her, Carrie screamed, “I have to push!!!” The nurse said that she was now 10, plus 2, or in other words, 12cm., so they called for the doctor. The doctor came in and told Carrie it was okay to start pushing and that it was a good thing because the baby was coming, so they were going to wheel us in to labor and delivery.

The triage nurses started wheeling the bed away and I noticed that no one had remembered to grab the IV pole, which was still attached to Carrie’s arm. If I hadn’t yelled at them to stop, they would have ripped it right out, but they stopped and grabbed it and then wheeled her into L&D. I ran into the waiting room to grab Tanya and then went back to the room, which was right across the hall.

The birth

She started pushing at about 11:40 and eventually, the doctor told her she had to lay on her side. It all happened so fast that the way she laid, her top half was off the bed and I was completely holding her up. Tanya was on her left side holding her leg up, and a nurse was holding her right leg up, while the doctor was monitoring the pushing.

At first, Carrie was really screaming when she was pushing, but the doctor told her to focus that energy downward instead of outward. She really seemed to respond to that and did a great job of pushing for the next 10-15 minutes (if that). I started to see the baby’s head come out and the doctor had Carrie reach down to touch it so she knew it was almost out. As it came a little farther, the doctor reached in and unwrapped the cord from around her neck (it was only wrapped around once, so it wasn’t a huge worry). Then, Brooklyn came out and it was the greatest feeling in the world.

Carrie was exhausted and incredibly relieved that we had done it. I couldn’t help but tear up as she pushed her out and the doctor sat Brooklyn up and she started crying. I don’t really remember much during those first couple minutes other than hugging Carrie and then standing with Brooklyn underneath the heat lamp while Carrie pushed out the placenta.

The lesson

If you or your wife is pregnant, or you’re planning to get pregnant down the road, and you want to do a natural birth, I would strongly recommend getting a doula for your birth, especially if it’s your first one. We felt so comfortable with Tanya because she had witnessed so many births and really understood all the signs to look for in the process of labor. Obviously, I had never done it before, so having someone who we both felt comfortable with and trusted was invaluable.

A few days before that, we met with Tanya for a final time to go over any last fears, questions, or requests and she told us a couple of stories about recent births where they didn’t trust her instinct and ended up not getting the birth they wanted. I don’t really remember the details of them, but was right in both instances if she had only trusted her instinct instead of giving in. That told me that I could trust her, and boy am I glad I did. I don’t think we would have made it to the hospital if she hadn’t been there because by the time she got to our apartment, Carrie was a lot farther along than either of us thought. She was still coherent in between contractions, which all of our training told us she wouldn’t be.

I’m so incredibly proud of Carrie. I knew that if any woman in this world was capable of a natural birth, it was her, and even though I almost gave up while she was asking for an epidural, I never doubted that she could do it. The biggest challenge was helping her believe that she could. Thankfully, that worst period, where she was saying she couldn’t, was really the period of self-doubt, which is a the final stage of labor.

The funny thing is that we had wanted so badly to give birth in the birthing center, but didn’t even need it. We had wanted to spend as little time in the hospital as possible, that our hope was to show up, be checked, and be admitted to the birthing center for the birth. But because of how far along she really was when we got there, even though the initial exam didn’t reflect it, we were in the hospital barely an hour before Brooklyn was born. I had gone to bed that night expecting to wake up and go to work, but my daughter was born before lunch time. Carrie obviously won’t say it was easy, but from nothing to born in less than 12 hours, with only about 20 minutes of pushing is not too shabby.

Welcome Brooklyn Mae Potts

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She was born Friday, March 11 at 12pm. 5 lbs. 8 oz. 19 inches

She’s amazingly beautiful and healthy. We will post the birth story soon. Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers. We could not have done it without you.

36 Weeks and We Made It!

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Well, we finally made it to 36 weeks and now we’re ready for you to be born! Mommy is off bed rest, so we spent most of the day out enjoying the perfect weather. It was her first time outside the apartment in five or six weeks (aside from walking out the front door, hopping in a cab, going to a doctors appointment, getting back in a cab and coming home), so we took advantage of it. First, we slept in for what might be the last time (if you’re born before next weekend) and I made some killer blueberry cornmeal pancakes. The recipe is on the new food page on the dropdown menu up above. I can’t wait for mornings with you in a couple years when I can make you pancakes.

After we ate, we went for a nice long walk in Ft. Tryon Park with Buddy, up and around the Cloisters. We came home and relaxed for a couple hours, watched some basketball and golf and then went out to dinner. I surprised mommy by taking her to one of her favorite restaurants, Ivo & Lulu (thanks to Restaurants.com for the awesome $25 off gift certificate). Ivo & Lulu is a great little French Caribbean restaurant down in Tribeca, right near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. I’m talking maybe 20 people can fit in this place, but the food is fantastic. We had an appetizer of a baked avocado stuffed with spinach and mushroom vinaigrette. Mommy (and you) had the roast duck leg confit and I had the boar and sage sausages in blueberry sauce. It’s all amazing.

Enjoying her first day off bed rest...we've always wanted to get a picture by this mural around the corner from our apartment

After dinner, we went to church for the first time in a few weeks. The great thing about our church, Redeemer, is that it has five services every Sunday at three different locations, so if you aren’t able to make it to one, you can catch another one. There, we just so happened to run into a former classmate from Taylor who I didn’t know very well, but had some classes with (small world), and we also ran into the guy who married us three years ago, John Bowen. I lived with him and his wife on Roosevelt Island when I first moved to the city, and he served as a great mentor for us throughout our engagement. He did our marriage counseling and married us, so it was great to see him again.

It was a good day all around, although mommy’s back and legs are pretty sore from all the walking, which she hasn’t done in a few weeks. She’s going back to work tomorrow, though she probably won’t work a full day. We’ll see how it goes because she’s been used to taking naps throughout the day and just taking it easy. Luckily, she’ll just be sitting down doing research, so it’s not like she’ll be walking around in court all day.

We have our next doctor appointment on Thursday afternoon. This will be our sit-down meeting with the doctor to go over our birth plan and ask any remaining questions. We’re pretty much ready to go. I plan to install the car seat tomorrow, and we have our “go-bag” packed and ready for when we have to go to the hospital.

Can’t wait to meet you soon!

Love,

Dad

35 Weeks and No More Meds!

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Well we finally had an uneventful week as far as you are concerned. After the craziness of last week, it was nice to have a normal week with no problems.

The highlight of this week was your Pappy coming to visit. He was a tremendous help, allowing me to go back into the office for work, and just taking care of mommy. The contractions settled down and while she’s still having them, they haven’t been as bad. Tonight is the last day she has to take the meds to slow down the contractions. The doctor said she could stop taking them today so it doesn’t slow them down too much since this is the last week of bed rest.

I must admit, she’s been handling the bed rest really well considering how hard it is to just sit/lay around all day. It helps that the weather hasn’t been great so there’s no real incentive for going outside, but Friday was in the mid-60s. It was an early dose of spring and that was really hard for her to not be outside. We have one week left though and tonight we’re supposed to get 3-5 inches of snow, so she won’t want to go out tomorrow at least.

Pappy was such a great help when he was here this past week. He ran Buddy ragged with a few walks a day so mommy could rest and work from home all day without distractions. It was also great for her to spend some quality time with someone other than me…a rarity in the past few weeks.

Since I was able to go back to work for a few days, I was able to participate in the 8th Annual Marketing Werks Chili Cookoff. It’s one of the best traditions at my company and every year about 25 teams compete. This year was the first year that the New York office participated (since it just opened last March) and I’m proud to say that I won. This year’s theme was superheroes, so my team name was Chili Pepper Potts and now I get my name on a plaque in the office. I can’t wait to introduce you to my famous chili someday.

The winner of the Golden Crock Pot from the 8th Annual Marketing Werks Chili Cookoff

I also took a quick day trip to Chicago last Wednesday for some training meetings. The training was supposed to last Wednesday through Friday, but because of the “baby situation” as I have dubbed it, I only went for one day. It was good to meet the new people on my team at work and get together with everybody to get ramped up for the rest of this year.

This morning, I went to a Father’s class at the hospital. It’s one of the optional classes that the hospital offers and I found out that it’s the only class for expectant fathers in all of New York City. That’s pretty amazing that in a city with 8 million people, there’s only one class for expectant fathers that meets once a month, and on this Saturday I was one of only five men in the class. That really goes to show that society still views fathers as second-rate parents, which is something the teach of the class harped on. We aren’t the on-call parent; we’re the other parent, he said. We talked about a lot of topics and he said his favorite acronym is:
Dependability
Availability
Dedication
If you have those three things, you’ll succeed as a father. He wasn’t the greatest teacher in the world (he went off on tangents off of tangents off of tangents), but I definitely got some useful information and it was good being around other soon-to-be dads who had some of the same questions/thoughts I have.

This week is back to working from home, but it’s the last week we have to do that. Next Sunday, mommy will be able to go back to doing pretty much whatever she wants. We have another doctor checkup on Tuesday afternoon, so hopefully everything will check out well.

Stay in there for a couple more weeks and then we can’t wait to meet you!

Keep growing!

Love,

Dad

34 Weeks and Hanging in There

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Well, we’re 34 weeks along and things are really starting to heat up. We had another trip to the hospital last week because you apparently decided to rebel against our grounding you. Late Tuesday night, mommy started feeling more painful and intense contractions. She waited a couple of hours, trying to fall asleep and hoping they would subside, but they didn’t. So around 3:30 a.m. she woke me up out of a dead sleep by saying, “We need to go to the hospital.”

When you’re not ready for it, that’s probably one of the worst ways to wake up. I mean, if it were a few weeks later and we knew you were about to come, then I’d be more ready for it. But at 33 weeks, we had gone to bed just like any other night, expecting to wake up like normal.

We called the doctor and she said to come to the hospital right away. I admit that during those few minutes of calling for a car and throwing a few clothes in a bag, I was thinking, “is this it?”. We got to the hospital and they put her in triage where she’s already been twice before. They performed some tests, hooked her up to the fetal monitor, and gave her a couple of IVs and basically said our doctor would be in between 8 and 9 to let us know where things stood and whether we could go home or whether she would have to be admitted to labor and delivery.

Finally, the doctor came in around 8:30 and said she was about one centimeter dilated and that they would need to admit her for 24-48 hours and give her some medicine to slow the contractions, as well as some steroids for you to help your lungs develop. I guess that disqualifies you from professional sports in the future.

We then had to wait a couple of hours more for a bed to come available, so the doctor told me to go out and get mommy some breakfast since she hadn’t slept all night. I went to Starbucks for coffee and a diner for breakfast and brought it back and we ate in the little room in triage. Finally, a room opened up and we were taken down the hall.

At first, she had her own room, and was able to pick out the bed closest to the window, where she at least had a good view of the Upper West Side.

The view from our hospital room (day)

The view from our hospital room (night)

They put her back on the fetal monitor and she had to take the medicine every six hours. At that time, with mommy in good hands and sleeping, I went home to take care of Buddy and get things taken care of at home for a couple hours. Her contractions weren’t getting better, so they switched the dose to every four hours. I came back and brought dinner and at that time, she had a roommate who was in for a scheduled c-section. It was pretty awkward walking in with food from our favorite Thai restaurant and eating it while this other girl was in early labor awaiting a c-section and unable to eat or drink anything. But it was delicious. I stayed there with her for a few hours until she was ready to go to sleep for the night and then I went home to sleep since I couldn’t sleep there.

The next morning, I got up and went back to the hospital, and shortly after that, we found out that they were letting her go home because the contractions weren’t getting any worse and weren’t causing her to dilate any more. We were very relieved. By that time, the first roommate was gone and there was a second who was on full hospital bed rest and only 23 weeks along. She was pretty young and by herself, so we definitely felt bad for her, but we were ready to go home for a few more weeks.

Mommy is still on bed rest for two more weeks until we reach 36 and you’re considered full term. She still has to take the meds every four hours day and night, and has strict orders to come back to the hospital if things get any worse. We have a little system through the night where she sets her alarm for 2 a.m. and I set mine for 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. so she doesn’t forget to take her pill. It’s pretty annoying that we can’t just sleep through the night, but I guess it’s getting us ready for when you are born and we have to feed and change you at all hours.

In the past couple of days, the contractions seem to have slowed down a little bit, so that’s a good thing. They’re still a little more intense than they used to be though. Mom is getting really bored and restless from being confined to the bed or couch non-stop, and I certainly can’t blame her. I’m trying to do my best to take care of her, cook for her, clean the apartment, and keep her occupied. Yesterday, she was lamenting the fact that she hasn’t even changed out of sweatpants the past three weeks, and I tried to point out that she had in fact changed into a hospital gown for a couple days, but that didn’t seem to help. We just need to make it through the next two weeks and then she can go out and do whatever she wants because if she goes into labor then, you’ll be full term.

While mommy's on bed rest, Buddy watches the Westminster Dog Show

We had another doctor appointment today and she checked the cervix and everything looks great. She said to keep taking the meds until next Sunday (week 35), and stay on bed rest until the following Sunday (Feb. 27), which will be week 36, but otherwise, she was very optimistic about you making it to full term! She said you might be a little on the smaller side, but that’s certainly nothing to worry about. You’re healthy and that’s the biggest thing. Last week when they checked, you were about 4 pounds, 11 ounces, so you will probably put on at least another pound before you’re born.

Another thing we have been worried about is not being able to deliver in the  birthing center, which is one of the main reasons we switched to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. That has been our hope and goal all along since we’re going natural, but our doula told us that only about 30 percent of people who want to actually end up getting in. We were supposed to take a birthing center class yesterday that’s a prerequisite for getting in, but since mom’s on bed rest, we couldn’t go. She even called the doctor on Saturday to ask if she could make an exception for her bed rest so we could go, but she said absolutely not. But today, our doctor said that if she makes it to 37 weeks (they don’t accept anyone before 37), she will get us in and won’t tell them that we didn’t take the class. So that’s what we’re shooting for now – 37 weeks, which will be March 6, one day after my mom (your grandma)’s birthday.

Mommy’s dad (your pappy) is coming to visit and help out this week from Tuesday to Saturday, so we’re thankful for that. His help and his company will be very much appreciated…she’s probably getting tired of just seeing me and nobody else every day. I’m going to Chicago on Wednesday for some work meetings, but I’m just making it a day trip instead of the three days that it was supposed to be. I’m thankful that my boss is understanding enough to let me participate in the other two days by conference call.

We are trying to remain positive about everything and just pray that God has everything under control. I think today’s appointment really helped for some good news. If anything, this whole situation has really reminded us that it’s not in our control, no matter how good she eats or how much we prepare. Sure, we can do things to prepare ourselves, but your birth is truly a miracle of life that is fully in God’s hands.

The contractions seem to build up and then die down (compared to previously, when they were just sort of uncomfortable). In finding the positive side of it, mommy says this could help when she’s in real labor, since this time has allowed her to practice her breathing techniques and feel what it’s like when the contractions are coming (obviously on a much lighter scale right now).

She’s really doing a great job of handling it all and preparing for motherhood. I think you’re pretty lucky because you get to be born to a great mom who really loves you and has worked really hard to give birth to you fully healthy and fully developed.

Should be only a few more weeks!

Keep growing!

Love,

Dad

33 Weeks and You’re Grounded

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Well, you’re 33 weeks now and your immune system should be developed and you have rapid brain growth going on right about now. I can tell that by the way you’ve been kicking. We’ve even started playing a little game where I try to follow your foot or hand as it’s pushing against mommy’s belly. I push down a little bit and then you move somewhere else and I follow…our first game of hide and seek. You’re pretty good at getting away from me and hiding.

Mommy has been on bed rest for two weeks now. She’s about to go crazy and I don’t blame her. She has barely left the house (except to go downstairs to get some fresh air) and all she’s been able to do is sit/lay around all day. My work has been nice enough to let me work from home last week and this week, and it’s nice to be here to keep her company. Thankfully, the contractions aren’t doing anything and we have placed you under strict orders not to come out yet. In other words, you’re grounded for at least three more weeks. I hate to do it to ya since, you know, I haven’t even had the pleasure of meeting you yet, but we need you to be healthy and have fully developed lungs.

On Saturday, we met our doula, Tonya. Mommy had already met her when she hired her, but it was the first time I had. She came over to our apartment to meet with us and talk about our hopes and plans for the birth. She seemed really nice and knows what she’s doing, so she should be a great asset for the birth.

How she feels about bed rest

Last night was the Super Bowl. Our last one without you. It was a good game and the Packers beat the Steelers. Your grandparents aren’t happy about it because they’re Steelers fans, but I was rooting for Green Bay because of Charles Woodson. He played for Michigan in the mid-90s and is one of my favorite players. By the time you’re able to realize what football is, he’ll probably be going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Since mommy is on bed rest, I have become a cooking and cleaning machine. For our Super Bowl party (which consisted if just us), I made pulled pork, which brined and slow cooked for 24 hours, as well as bourbon and brown sugar baked beans. It was amazing, and the best part was that the smallest pork shoulder I could find was 8 lbs, so we have leftover pulled pork to eat all week. I also made chocolate chip blondies for dessert. I can’t wait to cook for you!

It’s sad that football season is officially over, but now we can look forward to March Madness. College basketball season is winding down and this will be the last sporting events we get to watch without you.

This Friday, we have another ultrasound to see how everything is progressing and make sure you’re still doing well. Every appointment we’ve had so far has shown that you’re growing and developing perfectly! I can’t wait to get another ultrasound picture of you to see what you look like!

Well, it’s time for me to go to bed, so until next time. Keep growing!

Love,

Dad

32 Weeks and You’re a Blonde (maybe)

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Week 32 on bed rest

Well you’re 32 weeks along now and what a week it has been. We went to our scheduled doctor’s appointment on Monday and mommy mentioned that she had been feeling some contractions. The doctor checked her out and said that everything seemed okay, but if they continued or got worse by 24 hours later, to come in to Labor & Delivery. I had to fly to Chicago that next day for work, while mom stayed home from work, and sure enough, the contractions continued, so she went in to the hospital on Wednesday.

The doctors put her on an IV and monitored the contractions. She was there all afternoon and they determined that the contractions weren’t actually causing anything to happen, so she was put on three weeks of bed rest and sent home with

Your room (half of our room)...crib on the left, mommy's chair, and changing table on the right

instructions that if they got any worse she should come back in right away. Fortunately, her friend Amber was gracious enough to go to the hospital and come stay with her while I was stuck in Chicago for a couple extra days due to anther big NYC snowstorm. And Amber’s fiance Chris was gracious enough to come get Buddy and watch him for a couple of days until I got home.

I got home on Friday and worked from home while helping out mommy. I have now officially become “Mr. Mom” for the next few weeks. Cooking, cleaning, taking care of Buddy…you name it, I’m doing it while she’s on bed rest. The last thing we need is for her to think she’s okay enough to do something and then the contractions get worse and we have to go back to the hospital for pre-term labor or hospital bed rest. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait until you’re born…but I want you to be fully developed when you’re ready to come out. So give it another 4-5 weeks and then you’re free to come out!

On Thursday, when mommy went back in for a check-up, they did an ultrasound and said that you are perfectly healthy and progressing perfectly. You weighed three pounds, 10 ounces, which was right on target, and they also pointed our your hair (the white stuff in the bottom right of the picture). Looks like you’re a blonde!

32 Weeks

It has only been about four days of mommy’s bed rest so far and she’s already starting to go crazy from just sitting/laying around all day. Yesterday, I went out and bought a Blu-ray player (because our old DVD player stopped working a few months ago) and we signed up for Netflix (because DirecTV is terrible when it comes to ordering movies on demand). So she’ll have plenty of movies to watch in the coming weeks.

We have another doctor’s appointment tomorrow to get everything checked out again, and my work is letting me work from home for at least the next couple days so I can be here to help out mommy. Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday and your grandparents are officially opening a new church in Tipp City (where I grew up). It should be exciting for them.

We’re not expecting your for at least another month, so keep on growing and developing until you’re ready to meet the world!

Love,

Dad

31 Weeks and Kicking Like Crazy

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Well, you’re 31 weeks along now and you weigh about 3 1/2 pounds. Your eyes can now respond to light and you are moving around like crazy. Your kicks are getting a lot stronger and we can see you moving around from the outside of mommy’s belly.

Mom had a baby shower in St. Louis last weekend and everyone was so generous. We are really excited about everything we received for you. While she was there, I spent the weekend moving some of our extra furniture and clutter into storage so we could make room for you. Big shout out to our friend Topper for helping out.

Your swing in the "Buddy-free zone"

Sorry to disappoint you, but you don’t get your own room yet…it’s half of our bedroom. We completely rearranged the room from they way it’s been since we moved in and set up half the room for you. It’s still not complete yet because mommy’s chair hasn’t come yet and we haven’t set up the crib yet, so I won’t post any pictures until those things happen. But it’s looking great and I’m really excited about it.

This weekend, we went to Babies R Us and got to park in the “For expecting mothers” space, which was fantastic, and we got some more stuff for you. We got a gate to put up around your swing (pictured) in the living room to keep Buddy from jumping on you. We also got your stroller and a lot of clothes, including a Jets outfit. Unfortunately, the Jets just lost in the AFC Championship game, but you’ll be able to wear it next football season when they win the Super Bowl. We also hit up Marshalls and TJ Maxx for some amazing deals on outfits for you. You’ll definitely be the best dressed baby in NYC.

Last week was our last Bradley class. One of the girls in the class who already had her baby brought her to the class. She was so cute and just laid there and nursed a lot. I can’t wait for that to be you in just a few weeks!

We have our next doctors appointment tomorrow afternoon, and then I’m going to Chicago for a couple days this week for work. Hopefully we get some more ultrasound pictures of you tomorrow. Next week, we have our tour of the birthing center, and in a few weeks we’re taking some classes at the birthing center. It will be a busy next few weeks as we count down the weeks until you’re born!

Keep growing and developing!

Love,

Dad

Since there was no Week 30 post, here's last week's picture, from the baby shower in St. Louis

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