Posts tagged Buddy

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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A Look Back at Week One

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A few days ago, I posted the birth story and promised that Carrie’s version would follow. Well, it’s still on it’s way, but she hasn’t had much time to write it in the past week in between feeding Brooklyn and trying to get some sleep. So while we wait for that, I’ve decided to give a one-week update.

Brooklyn was born a little over a week ago and I can’t believe she’s growing up so fast! She’s going to be going away to college and dating guys before we know it. But seriously, she does feel like she has grown a little bit since last Friday (or maybe my arms and chest are just getting more and more tired from holding her). We won’t know for sure until next Sunday, the 27th, when we have our next appointment with the pediatrician.

Brooklyn's first cab ride

The past week has been both challenging and rewarding. We left the hospital on Sunday and Brooklyn got her first cab ride (welcome to NYC, where you don’t bring your baby home from the hospital in her car seat in your car; you either strap her car seat into a cab or take her on the subway). Bringing her home was pretty amazing. We both couldn’t believe the hospital actually let us bring this little thing home by ourselves. The first thing she got to do was meet Buddy. I was really interested in seeing how Buddy would react since he’s been used to being the center of attention the past eight months.

I had taken a class at the hospital on dogs and kids, so I learned that the best way to introduce them when you first get home is to have one person go in first, greet the dog, and let him settle down, and then the other person come in with the baby, sit down on the couch and let the dog come up to her on his own. So that’s what we did. Buddy didn’t quite know what was going on or what this little moving thing was, but he started licking her feet and was really curious. The first time she started crying, he didn’t know what to do, so he kept barking.

As the days went on and he learned that she’s here to stay, and that her crying from time to time is normal, he got used to it and is now the protective older “brother.” When we’re holding her on the couch, he loves to come up and lick her feet or hands, and see what she’s doing. When she’s sleeping in her swing in the living room, he lays right at the foot of it. When Carrie is feeding her in the bedroom, he lays at her feet. I’ve been amazed at the way he has handled this change. He gets that something is different and that he’s not the center of attention anymore. I have tried to play with him, take him to the park, and pet him as much as possible to make sure he still feels loved and important, and I think that has really helped as well.

Buddy and Brooklyn

As for Brooklyn, she obviously has no idea who or what he is, but by the time she’s able to crawl and talk, she’ll be used to him since having him around is all she has known.

We took Brooklyn to the pediatrician on Monday for the post-hospital check-up. He’s an old Jewish guy in his 70s named Dr. Gordon and came highly recommended by our doula, Tanya. His office was straight out of the 60s with a big wooden baby scale that uses the little weights to measure instead of digital. But he was very nice and we really liked him. He said he was a physicist before becoming a doctor, so he comes about everything through well thought out reasoning. Carrie described him as very non-alarmist. For every worry we had, he gave us a long reason for why we shouldn’t worry or what it meant. He did all the tests on Brooklyn and basically said everything looks great so far.

Carrie’s mom has been here since Sunday evening and has been a HUGE help. She has cooked us some great meals, helped us keep the apartment clean, helped take out Buddy, and best of all, helped take care of Brooklyn so we could get a little sleep. Since Carrie is breastfeeding, we have been sticking to an every two hours schedule during the day and stretching it to every three hours at night. So that means that Carrie has to wake up every two to three hours and spend 30-45 minutes each time feeding Brooklyn. She definitely has it worse off than I do, so I won’t even try to make my plight sound bad.

I’ve been taking the late night shift with Brooklyn since March Madness games usually go to about midnight. She sleeps on my chest or in my arms as I watch the games, upload the day’s photos or work on stuff on the computer, while Carrie sleeps. Once we get to the after midnight feedings, we put Brooklyn in her crib, or in her swing seat inside her crib, and I try to sleep. Brooklyn doesn’t like sleeping on her back in her crib yet, so that’s why we have improvised by using her swing seat inside the crib, since it vibrates and keeps her a little bit upright. Even so, she stirs a lot throughout the night, so I sleep with one eye and ear open during those hours. By 5 or 6am, Mrs. Barnes wakes up and takes the morning shift while I get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Brooklyn meets Nana and Pappy

She’s going home in a few days, and it will be just Carrie and I, and then I go back to work next Monday, the 28th, so we’ll have to figure out how to manage without her taking the morning shift, but I think we’ll be able to handle it. Carrie has been amazing performing the most important role of all – feeding Brooklyn. She sometimes reflects that life is passing her by while all she does is feeds and sleeps, but this won’t last forever and she’s doing such a good job of it. She’s sustaining our child while all I can do is hold her.

Carrie’s dad came for a one-day visit to meet Brooklyn, so that was fun. I’m glad he got to meet his first granddaughter (he already has three grandsons) this soon. Brooklyn has now gotten to meet Nana and Pappy. I can’t wait until she meets my parents in a few weeks!

Another big highlight of the week was letting Brooklyn make her March Madness picks. I laid her on her back and held up two fists in front of her and said “Duke or Hampton” and whichever hand she touched first was her pick. I did that for every game and she ended up picking Michigan over BYU in the finals. I honestly didn’t cheat or make it up…it just goes to show that she’s a Michigan fan already.

This week flew by, but it has been so amazing to hold and comfort and sustain this little girl. She’s seriously the most beautiful little thing ever and some of the faces she makes are priceless. I wish you could all see them…pictures and videos don’t do her justice. If anyone has Skype and wants to meet her that way, let me know. I’m jpotts424. We already Skyped with Aunt Jenny all the way from Dublin, Ireland, as well as my parents and Aunt Jandi in Ohio.

This past week has been amazing and I’m so thankful for work allowing paternity leave so I can take this time to comfort her and get to know her and welcome her to this world. I look forward to all of you meeting her soon. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.

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.

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

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

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

29 Weeks and Lots of Hiccups

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Well you’re 29 weeks along, which means almost three-fourths of the way here! You’re now the size of a squash and weigh about two-and-a-half pounds! Apparently now your brain is busy developing millions of neurons, which basically means you’re going to be a genius. You’ve also been training for the Olympics in mommy’s tummy. We can actually see you move now, which is all the time. Sometimes it even makes mommy light-headed. You’ve also been getting the hiccups a lot lately and it tickles mommy’s belly.

Over Christmas weekend, New York got hit with a huge snow storm. We were stuck in Chicago for an extra few days, so by the time we got back it wasn’t too bad. Still, we got to take Buddy to the dog park for his first experience with snow. He loved it and kept running full speed and then skidding to a stop right at our feet, as if he were on a snowboard. I can’t wait to introduce you to snow for the first time next winter!

Last week, we had quite an experience at the doctor. I was in Pittsburgh for work and took a really early flight back. I landed at 6:40 a.m. and went straight to mommy’s appointment. The waiting room at this office is pretty much the size of mommy’s womb. There are about 10 seats and nowhere to stand. So we got there and I had a suitcase and backpack and the waiting room was full. Not only was it full, but most of the women were there for their sugar tests. They were drinking these orange and red sugary juice drinks and clearly not happy. So I’m one of only a couple men in this room full of angry, hormonal pregnant women (even mommy agreed…this isn’t just me exaggerating here). We had to stay there for three hours (she had to take a blood test, drink the juice, wait an hour, take another blood test, wait another hour, and take another blood test). Thankfully, I left after the first one and after we met with the doctor because it got even more crowded and tense after I left. Pretty much the most out of place I’ve ever been in my life. I’ll remember this someday when you’re complaining that your parents are embarrassing you.  🙂

Right now, I’m watching the National Championship game and realizing that it’s my last one without you. Tonight could also be the last night without Michigan’s new head coach! Remember a few months ago, you predicted that Rich Rodriguez would be fired. You’ll never get to experience Rich Rod at Michigan, but hopefully you’ll bring us some luck next season with our new coach!

Keep developing those brain neurons!

Love,

Dad

Week 15 and an Orange

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written to you, Pablo, but you certainly haven’t been forgotten. I was in Baltimore last week for the Ravens-Browns game, so we didn’t get to do the picture, but since then, we’ve started taking Bradley classes to learn how to have a natural childbirth.

Today is the first day of the 15th week and since the last time I wrote, not much new has formed with you except that your organs and everything are getting stronger and you’re growing. You’re about the size of an orange now. Soon we’ll find out if you’re a boy or a girl, and judging by peoples’ votes on here, it looks like everybody is split. I can’t wait to find out!

Mom is feeling a little bit better now that the first trimester is over. The nausea seems to be going away, but now she’s starting to get a lot of back and neck pains.

We are now trying to decide which hospital to have you at. We are currently planning on NYU, because that’s where the doctors we’ve been going to deliver. But apparently NYU isn’t great with natural birth, so we are contemplating switching to St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital, which has a birthing center. Doing so would mean finding a new doctor.

The current practice is a group of four, two of which we’ve already seen, and any of the four could be the one to deliver you. We really liked the first one we saw, but the second one was pretty abrasive and barely even recognized that I was there. Neither of us liked her, but a girl in our Bradley class is using that same practice and said she really likes that doctor. So who knows.

The other positive thing about switching to St. Luke’s is that it’s on the Upper West Side, near Columbus Circle, so it will be much easier to get to than NYU when you’re on your way. Hopefully we can get that figured out soon, but regardless, we’ll make sure you’re in good hands.

Buddy likes to help Carrie do her stretches...he loves the yoga mat

This was a great sports weekend. Michigan beat Indiana to move to 5-0 and Denard dominated again. My mom (your grandma, who I can’t wait for you to meet) called and said we should name you Denard. Carrie isn’t too keen on that idea though. But if you come out of the womb with dreads, we definitely will.

Also, the San Francisco Giants won the NL West today for the first time since 2003. The playoffs start on Thursday and the Giants host the Braves. I’m hoping it’s the Giants vs. Yankees in the World Series and I’ll definitely try to get tickets. But we have to get through the Braves first.

Buddy had a bad eye infection this weekend. I felt bad for him because he definitely wasn’t his crazy, hyper self. He could barely open his eyes, so he just slept a lot. We took him to the vet and got him cream that we have to squeeze into his eyes three times a day. It made me think about what it will be like when you’re really sick. As bad as I feel for Buddy, I’m sure it will be even harder to take when it’s you.

Well, this week should be a normal week. I don’t have to travel next weekend, so I’m just looking forward to spending more time with Carrie and watching the big Michigan-Michigan State game next weekend!

Talk to you next week.

11 Weeks and Moving Ears

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Ten weeks down, 30 to go. We’re a fourth of the way to meeting you, little one. My book tells me that you’re now two inches long (twice as long as two weeks ago when we saw you on the ultrasound!) and your head is still half the size of your body, which means that your head is now the same size as your entire body was two weeks ago! It also says that your ears are moving into their final location…just in time to start listening to The Victors (Michigan’s fight song).

Speaking of The Victors, Michigan won its opening game on Saturday 30-10 over UConn. Denard Robinson dominated, running for 197 yards and throwing for 185. It was a great first game for you to experience, although mommy made you suffer through the Notre Dame-Purdue game. This weekend we will have a divided house as Michigan and Notre Dame play each other. I would try to make a bet with mommy that whoever wins is who gets your fanhood, but she knows she’ll lose that bet and she’s still holding out hope that you’ll go to the dark side.

Buddy in Central Park

Today we spent the entire day at Central Park with Buddy and mommy’s cousin Travis. It was a perfect day and nice to just relax and enjoy some good old fashioned people-watching. As we were getting ready to leave, a couple of ladies came over with their dog and little boy.

 Buddy and the other dog were playing with each other and the little boy, who was 18 months old, was definitely not afraid of dogs…he kept jumping in the middle of them and petting them. I can’t wait until you can play with Buddy.

I’m going to Buffalo next weekend to kick off the Buffalo Bills season, so it should be a fun one!

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