Saturday, September 19, 2015

asher's birth story

asher francis white // september 11, 2015

this sweet boy's birth has been on my mind this week, and I wanted to share his birth story, like I did with simon's. I share it in the hopes that it will give another perspective into birth, and I also share it because this is an important story to me and our family. however, I do want to provide an obvious disclaimer: this is a birth story. a child came out of my body. there may be some tmi/descriptive moments because it was raw and physical, but because of those those things it was also beautiful and human.

thursday morning, the 10th, was uneventful as the past post-due mornings had been. since monday I had been having light, inconsistent contractions, but they were nothing that would merit extra attention. this morning was no different. nonetheless, I went to a doctor's appointment with the high hopes that things would be progressing. at the obgyn offices, they had me do a non-stress test to make sure the baby's heart-rate was where it should be. then I had an ultrasound to confirm that the amniotic fluid was still in good supply, and then I had an appointment with the nurse practitioner. at one point during this lengthy visit, I went to the restroom and noticed that I was losing my mucus plug (you were warned about the tmi) and having a little bit of a bloody show. I became VERY excited because this was supposedly a sign that labor was near. I texted phil, my mom, and my friend and let them know that "today might be the day!" however, when I told the nurse practitioner what I had seen, she said that she had not seen any signs of blood when she checked to see if I was dilated. and, oh yeah, I was only dilated to a 1. you have to be at a 10 to be "complete" or ready to push the baby out, and I was about as far from that as I could be. it was possible that this could change quickly, but I felt so disappointed that I wasn't as far along as I had hoped. we scheduled another appointment and an induction for the next monday night if baby didn't come by himself. as I left to go home, I called phil feeling upset. the baby just wasn't coming.

 a nap at home left me in better spirits, and later that afternoon my kind friend, megan, texted me to ask if her and her family could bring dinner by that night. I agreed and was grateful she would since it was doubtful that I'd be making anything for the three of us besides the frozen costco pizza in our freezer. before they came around 6:30, I began feeling particularly uncomfortable and emotional. I was beginning to have more frequent, yet still (what seemed to me) light contractions. when they would come, I would lay down. they did not seem difficult when I compared these contractions to what I remembered from simon's labor; I could talk through them and breathe them out pretty easily. 

when megan, her husband and two children came to the apartment that evening, they brought dinner for us to all eat. I stayed in our room for a little while phil talked and ate with them--I was still lying in bed, waiting on contractions to become consistent (they felt like they were progressing at this point) and wondering if they would ever push me into active labor. I came out to eat dinner with everyone, but then excused myself again, feeling sick and overwhelmed. megan came back to our room, rubbed my feet with lavender oil, and chatted with me. she and her husband cleaned up from dinner with phil, put the leftovers in our fridge, and left. megan must have known that something was happening (even though I was not sure) because she said she would be coming back after she helped her husband put their children down. in the meantime, we put simon down to bed, and phil and I skyped with his family for a little since they were curious about the status of the baby. megan came back during our skype session, and she began timing the contractions I was having. they were coming about every 7-8 minutes. I had thought they were coming further apart than that, so I was relieved that maybe the laboring was going somewhere. but again, the contraction waves were not bad and it seemed like they needed to be coming closer together and more intensely before I could go into the hospital. 

after skyping, megan, phil and I talked for a while about birth and about things phil could do to help me through contractions. I know it sounds strange, but during this pregnancy phil and I had barely discussed how we were going to approach labor. we had packed our hospital bags, purchased things for the new baby, prepared a bag for simon and a place for him to be during our hospital stay, but we hadn't talked about the birth itself. with simon's pregnancy, we would often discuss how I'd like things to go, what I'd like phil to do, the things I'd like for him to say to help me, had listened to cds that help prepared me for a non-medicated birth, and I had spent hours practicing relaxation techniques. simon's birth was a big to-do. I envisioned it happening a certain way and being peaceful throughout it. there was much about his birth that was peaceful (mostly the epidural...), but many things happened that I wasn't fully expecting or ready for. perhaps it was because simon's birth did not go according to the "plan" I had hoped it would (and, of course, now I think, "duh, laurel! it's a BIRTH. it is not a crafted, perfect moment. it is human.") that this time around I ended up not thinking much at all about how I'd like it to happen or how I would handle it. I, more or less, put it on the back burner, deciding that I would figure it out at the time. essentially, I would wing it knowing that I could opt for an epidural if things became unbearable. this may not be the best idea to approach big events (such as birth), but it was the way that seemed best to me and helped me not to think about it with fear.

anyway, megan left around 11pm wishing us luck and hoping that we would see them soon (we had already planned to leave simon with them when the time came for us to go to the hospital).  I changed into something I could wear to the hospital and made sure our bags were ready, just in case. during the next hour, contractions continued coming consistently between 5 - 8 minutes apart. I thought I should call the obgyn just to see what we should do at that point. I talked with a nurse on the phone for at least two contractions worth of time (I was measuring things in 7 minute increments by that point). she called the hospital, spoke with the doctor there, and said that I should come in. I told her we would come soon but that we had to drop off our son first. I was still skeptical that anything was actually going to happen for a while and it seemed like we had time to spare to get to the hospital. phil packed up the bags in the car, and he carried a sleeping simon out while I grabbed the diaper bag and simon's brown bear. we dropped him off with our friends and then drove the next 10 minutes to the hospital.

at the hospital, we thought we'd be so clever and park in the visitor's parking and avoid having to park in the emergency room parking lot since parking there would require us to move to the visitor's parking the next morning. however, after walking from the car to the entrance we noticed that the main entrance to the hospital was closed and we had to walk around to the other side of the hospital to get to the emergency room. we felt very un-clever at that point. as soon as we got inside the emergency room doors, I happily plopped down into a wheelchair. at that moment, I felt my water break. I wasn't sure at at first since I was like, "well, that could have just been my bladder because heaven knows I lost control of it months ago," but this felt different. after checking in and getting wheeled into labor and delivery, I stood up out of the wheelchair and, again, the waters below flowed. I grabbed a towel, stuffed it oh-so-lady-like between my legs, waddled to the bathroom, and changed out of my clothes and into a hospital gown.

you know how I said that my contractions weren't very difficult up to that point? well, after my water broke things got crazy. the contractions became STRONG and grew stronger. we had arrived in our room around 12:30 am (and, keep in mind, asher was born at 2:41 am) and the nurse checked me and said that I was dilated to about a 7. oh, the difference a few hours made from that morning at a 1 to that night at a 7! after about 15 minutes of these strong contractions I was like, "yeah, how about let's get that epidural ordered for me because I want it. a lot." however, before they could have the anesthesiologist come, they had to draw some labs and get my iv hooked and pumping (gbs positive - so I needed penicillin for the baby). that took FOREVER + a few contractions where breathing/yelling/saying over and over "I don't want to feel this" were my method of coping. asher's labor was not the most graceful time in my life. finally they said that the anesthesiologist was on the floor but administering an epidural to someone else, but that I would be next. that took FOREVER + yelling through some contractions + phil pushing/applying counter-pressure on my back, on my hips, pulling my hips up, not touching me at all, me on all fours on the bed with my head buried in the pillow because that was the only "comfortable/bearable" position I could find. finally, around 2:10am-ish, the anesthesiologist comes in. I sit cross-legged on the bed with her behind me preparing my back for the procedure, phil in front of me breathing me through contractions. I had to stay super still for the anesthesiologist since she was, well, putting this long needle into my spine, and that was hard because CONTRACTIONS. I was amazed though at how still I was able to stay during those ones. thank goodness phil was there holding my hand, breathing with me, and blowing cool air on my face. afterwards, the anesthesiologist and the nurse agreed that, "that was incredible breathing! you both must have really practiced a lot." phil and I laughed. oh, irony.

after she placed the epidural, the anesthesiologist said that I wouldn't feel the next contractions but that they should, instead, be fading away. however, I felt the next contraction just as strongly, and the next. still sitting cross-legged on the bed, I had the sudden and distinct feeling that the baby's head was super low - like RIGHT THERE and I began to feel the urge to push. I did not want to say anything because I wanted the epidural to kick in before I started pushing. after another full-on contraction, I told the nurse that I thought the baby's head was right there. we maneuvered me such that I could lay down again, the nurse checked me and said, "you're at a 10. you're complete." that's when things started getting crazier. the anesthesiologist (who had left then came back? I don't remember.) touched my leg and then my arm and asked if I felt any difference between the two. no, I didn't. I'm not sure what happened around me after that, but there were more contractions and a deeper need to push. I was yelling out a lot by this point--I was feeling all the labor feels and was not really holding back how I felt about them. no cursing (aloud) was involved though. felt pretty proud of that. phil held my hand and was breathing me through things as much as possible. I wished and wished that the epidural would kick-in and swallow the pain, but it didn't (and never did). the difficulty of the moment became all-consuming. I remember them bringing down the big light, more people coming in, the stir-ups coming up, and the obgyn doctor sitting in front of me. as I began the instinctive pushing, I just closed my eyes and held onto my nurse, kelli's, hand and phil's. at one point, I nearly kicked the doctor and he jokingly said that he bites if he gets kicked. I'm sure that I apologized. despite feeling delirious and caught up on the moment, I felt bad for being a bit out-of-control, but there was no helping it. as I pushed asher's head out, it was the most intense and desperate moment I've ever felt. I couldn't imagine this baby making its way out - he didn't fit! however, of course, he had to come. phil says that near the end I asked, "is it close? is he coming?" and recalls that the baby's head was halfway out. feeling that the end was near, I saved up my breath and then really pushed down. I thought I was going to faint/die, and then I felt the baby's head come through, then the shoulders, then the rest of his little body, and then came the relief. OH! the reprieve of having the baby out erased all the previous pain in an instant. it was immediate and comforting. when I finally opened my eyes, I saw phil crying and he gave me a kiss. I laid there baffled that the baby had come out at all. then they placed his little body on me, and that's when I saw his face and all his brown hair. he was calm as I held him and I felt happy.

the rest of the stay in the hospital was semi-eventful. the anesthesiologist came in after asher's birth to apologize about the epidural never setting in. we think she may have missed the epidural space in my back where the anesthesia can take effect. I told her that, in hindsight, I was grateful to have experienced all the feelings of the birth even though it was difficult. after she left, the nurses took care of asher and me, and we were soon all able to sleep a little. later that morning, since I had lost a bit of blood during the labor and afterwards, I ended up passing out in the arms of two different nurses. the first time was in a wheelchair. the second time around, it was on the toilet. I know. but, it was kind of sweet because the nurse saw that I was on the edge, came to me and cradled me as I lost consciousness. so it could be considered a tender moment except that I was passed out. in a bathroom. on a toilet. this particular nurse, gayle, ended up reviving me with a packet of ammonia salts. she said she was going "to get me straight," put me back in bed, granted me an extra few hours in my labor and delivery room, and hooked me back up to an iv bag.

later that day, we made it to postpartum and got comfy in our room with our new boy nearby to snuggle. simon came by with phil and my parents (who flew in) later that evening. simon was sweet with baby asher. he gave him kisses and lovingly poked and "caressed" his face all whilst making his "ahhh!" sound that he holds in reserve specifically for dogs, squirrels, baby animals, and, now, his brother. we felt like that was a sign of approval. 

simon stayed with my parents the next two nights at our apartment while we recovered at the hospital. on saturday night, phil ordered out thai food and we snuggled on the hospital bed with pad thai and the BYU game playing in the background. on sunday morning we were discharged and sent on our way, happy to reunite with simon and be our family of four. 

I'm grateful that both my experiences with having a baby have been positive and have allowed me understanding of the physical and spiritual nature of birth. I am grateful we have a new little boy, a new little body and spirit to nourish and love and kiss and dance with and sing to and read to and cherish and wipe tears from and snuggle and hold near.

^^ just moments after our boy took his first breaths and I could sigh in relief.

^^as you can see, asher's face is fresh and squished from being quickly pushed out. the term they used for his birth was a "precipitous birth." you'd think that a boy that waited a week to come would have dawdled on his way out, but when he was ready, he was ready!

^^ will his head be one full of curls? time will tell. all I know is that this fella has way more hair now than his older brother did at his first birthday.  

^^ we named him asher because we've both liked that name for a while and both love the book, my name is asher lev. as for his middle name, francis, it is my late grandpa's name. I wanted to pay homage to the kind, funny man he was by giving his name to our son. 

^^ proud big brother giving some love

^^grandma and grandpa with the boys

^^ our first family photo

and, a few more from being home with this love:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

duke gardens

the most magical place in all of durham: duke gardens.
this was our walk there the sunday before baby was born.

here and there

this is just a smattering of what we've been up to over the past few weeks. I originally wanted to post this before sweet baby asher debuted, but such is the fruition of most of my good intentions: tardy.

^^ this north carolina place astounds me. every turn and bend in the road
leads somewhere new and beautiful.

^^ chimichangas and stairs emblazoned with "the love song of j. alfred prufrock" welcomed us at the cosmic cantina. a friend recommended this place (close to east duke campus), and yelp also pulled through to let us know this was a fine eatery; the review that said that it's a really good place to go "if it's 3am, you're craving a burrito, and intoxicated." that was just the push we needed to go.

^^ the q shack is not the place you want to go on the weekend, because this bbq place is PACKED! like, parking lot is a zoo. we went on a wednesday afternoon after receiving numerous recommendations to go there, and LOOK AT THAT FOOD! it was southern-style, cheesy, meaty heaven. and, let's not forget the hushpuppies. the hushpuppies, people.

^^ just some shots of the belly that used to be all baby kicks and nutella.
it's still nutella, btw.

^^okay. these shots make it look like simon is plastered to the tv all day, every day! he isn't (yet). we recently purchased a tv for our place and started watching some pbs kids with simon. sometimes I find that I'm the only one watching since the dude has gotten bored and starts reading a book. ANYWAY, when I am getting ready for the day too slow for simon-pants (he's grabs his shoes and is like, "let's go outside now, mom!" every flipping morning, and I'm like, "child, I am still in my underwear."), I'll put on an episode of "daniel tiger", and he is entranced (and me too?? those songs get STUCK in your head bad bad bad). and, sometimes the way/the positions in which simon will watch a morning episode are hilarious (especially that middle one from down the hall!) and need to be documented. 

^^ don't get me started on this little, blue stroller obsession. 

^^sweet doggie for asher.

^^ average leaf

^^ went to the unc soccer game undercover and working the light-blue of the tar heels. the guy behind us, however, sensed we were dukies. 

^^ more sugar from the pelican sno-ball/cone shack. man, they've got over 60 flavors and made decision-making nearly impossible. but, obviously, not totally impossible because: pomegranate, passion fruit, peach!

^^ it was a waffle house kind of saturday morning, and hello to my apple crumble waffle. it wasn't for me though, it was for baby.

^^ grandpa reading  animal books to the animal lover. reading that book gets INTENSE. I mean, you get to the page about puppies and simon nearly has a meltdown every single time.

^^ and a final photo of pregnant, chocolate loving me before I decided no more pictures until the child arrived. this package of goodies was delivered and became my deliverance that day.