Friday, December 20, 2013

Henry's birth story: part one

This is Henry.

Henry Charles Koechling was born on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 10:50am.  He was 8lb, 5oz and 21 inches.  This is the story of his birth and first few days thus far:

Julie came to the house to stay with the kids on Monday morning.  We were supposed to get to the hospital by 8:00, but as is our norm, we were running late.  It worked out well though, because we were able to see Noah and Emily in the morning and take a last "family of four" picture.  The kids were well prepared for the day, since we've been talking about the plan for over a week.  They were happy to see Julie and have her help them get ready for the day, and Emily was especially excited to show her our Elf on the Shelf, "Christmas".  "Wook, Juey!" she hollered.

We got to the hospital around 8:30, apologized for being late, and quickly signed consent forms.  My nurse Z (Zardeen, I think?) took us to our labor & delivery room to prep for surgery.  From there, things went pretty quickly.  The nurse who came in to do my IV was my L&D nurse from when Emily was born, Amanda.  I told her that, and she said she remembered me.  BS, but sweet girl, thanks for only poking me twice to get that line in...

Only about ten minutes behind schedule, we headed to the OR shortly after 10am.  Z & I dropped Ben and our stuff in the recovery room, and that's when I got emotional.  I had already warned Z I was a crier.

We walked to the freezing cold OR and, still crying, I sat on the table.  Another nurse tried to engage me, and she gave me a weird vibe, which Z must've recognized because she came over and put her hands on my knees while I was prepped for my spinal.  When it was time for the spinal and I was instructed to curl my back into a C, still crying, I leaned forward and Z put her forehead on mine and held my hands.  Love her.

Within seconds, the spinal made my legs feel warm and heavy and I remember laying on the table reminding myself not to even try to move my legs, because I knew that either the creepy tingly feeling or the complete lack of response would gross me out.  Once I laid down, I started shaking a little.  Not nearly as bad as after my epidural with Noah - that was teeth chattering to the point my jaw hurt.  This might have been slightly med related, but I think it was primarily nerves.  The wrapped my neck and arms in warm blankets, and after a while, I was able to calm myself and the shaking slowly stopped.

I lie on the table staring at the tile on the ceiling, trying to just breathe and relax.  The whole idea of being conscious for surgery is creepy, and add to that the emotion of knowing that your baby is about to be born... it's an overwhelming feeling.  Plus in the back of my mind, I'm trying to stay cognizant of how I am feeling physically.  The anesthesiologist said it was important to let him know if I felt light headed, dizzy, or nauseous.  What I mainly felt was nervous.

Before they started, what was making me the most uncomfortable was something that I did remember from my c-section with Emily, but I didn't really remember how bad the sensation was.  With a spinal, the numbness goes to your chest, and you get the sensation of feeling like you're having trouble breathing because you can't feel your chest rise.  I had a nasal canula in, and tried to inhale the oxygen and keep my breathes steady. The warm blankets on my neck were starting to feel heavy on my throat, and I felt claustraphobic.  Two or three times, I asked the nurses to moves them to a different position, but finally I just asked them to take them off completely.  I was no longer shaking or shivering, and had otherwise calmed down, so the literal weight off my chest helped me breathe more easily.

They brought Ben in and got started.  He grabbed my hand and I think I might have started crying again.  So many emotions, but finally the fear and nervousness were replaced, and I felt a sense of calm and comfort when I knew Ben was there.

From starting surgery to getting the baby out is pretty quick.  We knew it wouldn't be long before he would be here.  Casual talk amongst the doctors and nurses, pressure on my abdomen, the announcement that baby was almost here... and then pressure.  A LOT of pressure.  And then urgency.  Doctor asks for the vacuum, which of course instantly makes me nervous, because I guess I've never thought of the vacumm with a c-section, and a lot of women are fearful of needing a vacuum with a vaginal delivery.  When the vacuum wasn't readily available, I could hear the urgency and frustration in his voice - get the vacumm, why is it not out and ready to go, turn it on, turn it up.  And then an excrutiating amount of pressure, and the assisting OBs elbow literally in my face from the other side of the curtain.  He was pushing, pushing, PUSHING to get the baby out, and it felt like it was taking way too long.  I was scared.  Why was it taking so long and WHY was it so hard to get him out?  Is he okay, is he stuck, is there danger in the fact that I am cut open and they are pushing and pulling to get him out and he is NOT coming?

Finally, a wail.  My baby is out, and he is pissed.  I completely started bawling.  Ugly cry bawling.  He is screaming non-stop and in that moment, it is the greatest thing I think I have ever heard.

Briefly, the assisting OB pops him around the curtain to show him to us, and he is beautiful and loud.  I am happy.

A few minutes later, after inital vitals and APGARS, they bring him to me.  The nurse lays him on my left shoulder, with his head on my chest near my chin.  I reach my right arm across my body and rub his little forehead.  For the first time ever, I am holding my minutes old newborn.  He is so beautiful and perfect.  I am so lucky.

It felt like a brief time but I am grateful for that experience, and I'm pretty sure (at least I hope) there are some pictures.  Holding him for the first time in there was so sweet.  After probably several minutes, Z told me she was going to take Ben and the baby to recovery, and they'd see me soon.  Once they left, I felt tired, suddenly very emotionally exhausted.  I wanted to just close my eyes and rest, but then I thought maybe it wasn't normal to feel like I wanted to sleep in surgery.  I announced that I was tired, and they told me that was normal.  Okay, I thought, then I'll rest.  But then.... nausea.  Gross.  I let them know i feel nauseous - after all they have been pushing with a great deal of force on my abdomen and are currently repositioning my internal organs.... the anesthesiologist gives me a puke bucket and tells me he's giving me Zofran in my IV to help.  Dry heaves and then vomit.  I feel better.

Before I know it, surgery is done.  The nurses move me from the OR table to the bed, and wheel me in to recovery.  I am pretty sure I am crying or about to cry at this point.  I see Ben there with the baby, and I'm definitely crying. 

I felt good in recovery.  It didn't seem like we were there long, but in retrospect I feel like I might have been a little out of it cuz I kind of don't remember a ton now.  I did try to latch him on to nurse, but I don't think he did much in recovery.  (It took several hours before he really showed interest.)  I do know I held him and snuggled him and kissed him all over while Ben took pictures.  I made sure the nurse knew I didn't want him to go to the nursery for a bath because we wanted the kids to meet him right away.  I made sure Ben texted mom and Julie and his parents to let them know we were in recovery and when we were getting ready to go upstairs.  The nurse told us that she had talked to the nurse in Mother Baby and explained that we wanted a brief visit with our family before baby went to the nursery and she was agreeable.  I held Henry as I was wheeled to elevator and up to Mother Baby.

Once settled in our room, Ben texted his parents to see if they were in the unit, since they had been elsewhere at the hospital doing something work related.  Ben and I decided that rather than having just the kids come in, that we would just have everyone come it right away.

The kids came right over to the bed to see their new baby.  I told them (and everyone else) his name was Henry Charles, and they said hi to him and examined his little face.  (I'm looking forward to watching the video of their meeting.)  Poor Emily was clearly ready for nap, but she was a trooper and hung in there.

We asked if they wanted to hold him, and they both scrambled onto the little couch in the corner.  Emily held him first.  She was so sweet and so gentle.  When Ben asked her to give him a kiss, she rested her little cheek on his head.  She gazed at him so sweetly, and in that moment, I knew she understood that THIS was her baby brother, and not my tummy or belly button.

Next it was Noah's turn to hold Henry.  Emily was NOT happy about having to give him up and cried "no, mine".  Noah was equally sweet and gentle, but he's a pro at being a big brother.  Still, it was so sweet to see the way he looked at his new baby.


As the kids were finishing up holding him, the nurse came in and announced that she had to take him to the nursery.  Without so much as letting me take a breathe, she said he'd be back in 45 minutes and whisked him away.  I felt bad that gaga and grandma and grandpa had barely gotten more than a look let alone to hold him, but they all seemed to understand.  I offered for them to stay and wait, but insisted the kids get home to take a nap.  Everyone decided to leave, and I took the next half hour to update the world via text message and Facebook that the boy was here!

Monday, December 16, 2013

one last time as a family of four

there aren't really words that i have for how i'm feeling tonight.  it is 12:23 am.  we have to be at the hospital at 8:00, with my c-section scheduled for 10:00.  i will be 39 weeks, 4 days.

there are times when this pregnancy has flown by and others where i feel like it's gone on forever.  i honestly still think i'm in denial.  i'm clearly pregnant.  the "i didn't know i was pregnant" concept still blows my mind.  my cervix screams everytime this giant child moves, and unlike his big brother and sister, he makes my belly move in the most unreal ways.  tonight we thought for sure he'd punch a hole through my right side and come jumping out.

noah and emily are very excited.  i know noah remembers when emily was born, and i'm fairly certain that emily is only somewhat aware of what is actually happening.  in recent weeks, i do think it has started to make a little more sense to her.  she asked me a few days ago "baby brother is coming out soon?"  clearly we talk about it regularly, and tonight prepped them for how their day and week will go with mommy away.  noah is fine with it.  emily follows his lead.

when i stop to think about the gravity of how life is going to change......  i just paused for about 15 seconds, because i don't really know how to finish that.  infertility was always such a huge part of our story, and i feel like it always will be.  noah asked tonight (for like the 2nd or 3rd time recently) how the baby got in my belly, but quickly shifted to how did he get in my belly and did the doctor put him there.  that is a much easier one to answer, because yes my child, the doctor did put you in there....

i still have friends struggling with infertility and it breaks my heart all over again when someone shares another failed cycle.  but i am reminded that i have paid my dues, four years and four IVF cycles worth, to be exact, and i know that i would do it all again to wind up here, ten hours from having my miracle "freebie" that i never really dreamed possible.

i was so mad after emily was born that my body made the decision that we were done having kids.  did i want three because i really wanted three, or did i want three because i knew i couldn't have three?  but then when three became our new reality, the initial excited "oh shit!", quickly became a terrified "oh shit..." and i feel like i've waivered back and forth between the two in recent days, as i did in those first weeks of my pregnancy.

we've figured out a lot of the logistics- minivan, big kids sharing a bedroom, me going to part time in the spring (20 hours a week - working monday and thursday, and a half day on wednesday), and ben changing his schedule to acconmodate mine and eliminate the need for child care....  money is still going to be tight, and that's something ben and i will have to actively work on and adjust to.  we have the stuff- i kept everything for the big kids and feel so fortunate for that.

it's the physically, mentally and emotionally juggling parenting three kids under five that i'm most nervous about.  i hope my fuse grows longer over the next several months and that noah's recent bratiness and emily's recent two-year-old-ness improve.  i hope i am physically able to keep up with all of them and still have something left at the end of the day.  i hope my RA stays quiet.  i don't want to have to worry about that on top of everything else, especially since last time i saw the rheumatologist was AGES ago, and she encouraged me to wean emily from nursing by 12 months so i could go on some stronger meds.  (for the record, i got pregnant whilst breastfeeding when emily was 15 months old, and didn't wean until she was 20 months and i was 20 weeks pregnant...)

i hope that my emotional state and mine and ben's ability to co-parent, outnumbered, on our new schedule will be strong and healthy and that we won't want to kill each other (and the kids) at the end of each day.

three kids is scary to me in so many ways, but i remind myself that they won't be little forever and then i step back and try to take it all in.

noah's such a kind boy and he really is a good kid.  he is loving and funny and so smart and creative.  lately his thing is telling the story of  "noah's great day" movie.

emily is a fiesty little firecracker who says and does things to get a rise out of you, but then quickly turns on her cute face and pouty kissy lips.  she takes it all in and constantly surprises us with what she knows.  tonight, eating her crescent roll at dinner, she looks at me and say "mmm... licious!"  (delicious)

baby brother - you don't have a name just yet, but i know we'll figure it out in the next few hour or so help me - you aren't even here yet and you have already changed out lives so much.  i never ever dreamed we could have another baby, and even though i have had my fears, i know that you are meant to be a part of our family.  i have always said things happen for a reason, and we have the children we are meant to have.  i cannot wait to meet you and know you and fall even more in love with you than i already am.  you are currently torturing me from the inside - seriously, between the sciatica, the hemmorhoids, and the baby movement slash contractions, this has been my most painful pregnancy of the three.  you move into my right ribcage and i feel like my skin might rip open, and then you burrow down into my cervix and i fear like you're stabbing me with a knife.  i promise not to hold these things against you.  tomorrow, i will complain of the post c-section discomfort, and after that of the booby pain, and after that something else, because it's always something.

but inspite of all of that, you are truly a miracle, in a new sense of the word to me.  i am so grateful for the opportunity to have you in my life and to be your mom.  i'm scared that i won't be great, but i know i will do my best.  we will have good days and bad days, but at the end of each of them, you and your brother and sister will know that i love you all tremendously.  i want you to know that i love you all with my whole heart and that i would do anything for you.  i know you will be amazing and beautiful and smart and strong.

and now, after one last breakfast, one last nap, one last dinnertime, and one last bedtime cuddles as a family of four, it's time for one last sleep before we meet our baby brother.  my youngest child.  my new son.