Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The coolest thing I've ever done

Have you ever felt so far behind on something that you don't know how you'll ever catch up, and then you realize, ah well?

It is with this attitude that I am attempting to start blogging again after the biggest life adjustment I've ever (or Harry's ever) made. There are a few things I really want to blog about before the memories evaporate. So, to begin: Rower's birth story.

I'm not sparing many details here, so if you are squeamish about this kind of thing, or don't want to read exhaustive details about the day Rower was born, consider this your chance to turn back. For the rest of you, here goes.

My due date was August 27th, 2013. Pregnancy was such an interesting adventure (read: it was kind of cool but also very uncomfortable and I'm mostly glad that it's over). The second trimester was great. I had a fun job, I got to carpool to work with my husband and eat lunch with him a few days a week, and for the most part I could still exercise. My third trimester brought about a lot of nerve/ligament pain in my left leg, and my doctor told me to stop exercising. I think that's when I started looking back fondly on the days when I wasn't pregnant like it was another lifetime, and I longed for it constantly. Being very, very pregnant is hard work. Right after I had Rower, I couldn't even look at pregnant women for a while. I'd just yell, "Too soon!" and squeeze my eyes shut.

At my 38 week check up, my doctor noticed signs of developing preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is basically high blood pressure associated with pregnancy, and the way to cure it is to give birth. It's pretty dangerous if it goes undetected for long. She ordered a full blood panel for me. On a Sunday afternoon, two days before my 39 week check up, I was awkwardly bending over a bunch of fabric, cutting it out to make myself a really comfy nightgown for the hospital (speaking of which, I haven't touched it since...) when my doctor called. She said to come into the hospital, that she'd looked over my blood panel and that I was borderline preeclamptic, and that she wanted to monitor me for the evening. If she didn't like what she saw, they would induce me that night. I told her I'd be right there and hung up the phone. And then, I burst into tears. Harry wasn't home, he had been at work for about 36 hours straight (yes, this is real), trying to finish up a project before the baby came. I called him and told him what was going on in between sobs. It was all really frightening to think I was sick and didn't know it, and it could be dangerous for the baby, and that we might be having a baby that night, without much warning.

Harry came home, and he and our good friend Oliver gave me a blessing that everything would be fine, the baby would arrive safely and would be healthy. Peace filled the room in a very palpable way. I still am so grateful for the comfort I felt.

We arrived at the hospital shortly thereafter. After 5 hours of sitting in a triage labor and delivery room, hooked up to a monitor, and giving more blood, my doctor said I was still too borderline to induce, and to go home, and she'd monitor me again two days later at my 39 week appointment. We went (I waddled) home.

Hanging out at the hospital on a Sunday evening.
When I went in two days later for my 39 week check up, I brought my hospital bag. My check up showed an increase in the likelihood of preeclampsia. I didn't have it yet, but I was definitely headed in that direction. I was instructed to head over to Labor and Delivery where the OB on call would make the final decision.

Minutes later, the OB, who I'd never met before, walked in, shook my hand, looked at my progress, and said, "Well, you're not preeclamptic, but let's not wait until you are and you're having a seizure. The baby is healthy and ready to go. Let's induce you."

I just remember feeling my eyes get really wide and saying, "Okay!"

And then I remember saying, "Um, I'd really like to get an epidural before the pitocin."

I called Harry and my family and told them "it's go time." I was that odd mixture of terrified and thrilled. Meredith texted me that at least I was getting to know exactly when I'd go into labor, and that was really nice!

Harry rushed over from work and arrived just after I'd been hooked up in a delivery room, around 2:00 pm. Man, I had no idea I would have to have so many tubes and doodads hooked up to me. I felt like a Christmas tree. While I was being stuck and poked with needles and tubes, a nurse told me that since I was a first time mom, and was being induced, that the labor would probably take 12-15 hours. The OB herself said, "I'm guessing you'll deliver around 2:00 am tomorrow, earliest." I hunkered down for the long haul and wished beyond wishing that I had eaten lunch. I texted my sisters and told them the last thing I'd had was a bowl of cereal at 7:00 am. Elizabeth texted back, "Yes! Next time stop at In-N-Out on your way to the hospital!" Lesson learned, people.

"Go time."
Here's something that I'd heard about having a baby but wasn't sure was true: time FLIES when you're having a baby. Every time I looked at the clock, hours had flown by and it had felt like 10 minutes. It made me feel a little crazy. Case in point: thanks to a lovely nurse named Yvonne, I got that epidural before the pitocin drip (the OB had wanted to start the pitocin drip before the epidural, but my momma didn't raise no fool). The CRNA administering the epidural made Harry leave the room for it, saying they'd come get him when it was over in 20 minutes. I guess it's too traumatizing for a lot of husbands to see. It took a while for the epidural to happen, I guess. It literally felt like 5 minutes, but when Harry came back in, he looked really stressed and worried and asked me if I was okay. I said, "Yeah, why?" Apparently it had taken 50 minutes to do the epidural and he was pretty freaked out, sitting in the waiting room all that time, wondering if something had gone wrong.

Then something unpleasant happened. The epidural didn't fully work. I could feel all the contractions (which were crazy and coming very fast and were very painful) on the right side of my abdomen. The CRNA and her assistant kept giving me more medicine until they couldn't give me any more, but the pain was still raging. They tilted me onto my right side so that the medicine would spread, but then I started feeling back labor on my left side. The nurses kept rolling me over every few minutes, side to side, trying to get the drugs to spread out, but the pain was still intense. The pitocin made me vomit, and after a while the contractions were right on top of each other, and I couldn't catch a break in between them, and started to cry. I was completely exhausted. I was covered in blankets because I had been so cold, and I was holding Harry's hand. I remember telling him, "Harry, I'm so tired. I think I'm going to close my eyes for a while." I actually fell asleep between contractions every few minutes.

After a while, an anesthesiologist's assistant said she'd go get someone to try to re-administer the epidural or to try to give me a different kind of narcotic for the pain. She left, and Yvonne, my lovely, warrior princess nurse, said she'd just check my progress for the heck of it.

She checked me, and her eyes got really wide. "OMG. I swear, you're complete!" She said.

"I'm at a 10?!" I asked her.

She told me the baby was literally an inch away. Our minds were completely blown. It was about 6:45 pm and had only been 4.75 hours. She said, "I can't believe this happened so fast! Do you want to try pushing?" I said, "Sure!"

After a few pushes, she told me to STOP and called in the cavalry. A bunch of nurses rushed in, saying, "I heard you were at a 10 and I didn't believe it so I rushed over to see for myself!"

My sister Meredith described this moment like you're a race car when it's tired are being changed. All of a sudden you're surrounded by people who are hoisting up stirrups, moving your pillows, getting you into position at lightning speed, and she's totally right. In the blink of an eye, things get real. The OB was in a c-section, so it was just me, Harry, and the nurses. Harry was the perfect coach and jumped right in without hesitation.

Pushing is hard, but there's a sense of relief that comes with each push. I was breathing so hard that they gave me an oxygen mask. After a while I was so tired, I started to say, "I don't want to do this anymore..." but right then, Yvonne bellowed (and I mean bellowed), "SARAH, PUSH YOUR BABY OUT!" So I pushed and pushed until the nurses said, "STOP!" I could see Rower's little head and said, "Oh my gosh!" The nurses laughed at that.

Just then, a midwife came in to do the delivery, and Yvonne yelled, "You have about 10 seconds to wash your hands and get over here!" The midwife was this very calm, quiet, older woman who glided over to me, sat down, and told me to push. So I did. Then she said to stop, and do one little tiny push. All of a sudden, they were pulling Rower out and laying him on my chest while he screamed.

First family photo
Rower Eaton Reynolds
Boy's Club

He stopped crying when he was on my chest and I kept saying, "Hi, baby!" Harry immediately started saying, "Hi, Rower!" We'd kept his name completely secret for my entire pregnancy, and I was thrilled to hear Harry call him by his name finally in mixed company! Rower is a Reynolds family name. Sarah Elizabeth Rower was the mother of Harrison Tallman Reynolds (Harry's namesake). We first read the name years ago when we were newlyweds, and we always knew we had to use that name the minute we read it on a family tree.

In a crazy turn of events, one of my very best friends, Karina, went into labor the same day and had her baby, Mac, about 3 hours after Rower was born!

It was a wonderful, perfect day and even typing it up has made me all warm and fuzzy inside! We love our little Row and are thrilled he came to our family.

One month
Two months
This is just the beginning of the picture dump that is about to take over this blog.  We've taken hundreds of photos of this dude and it's only the beginning.  We love him like crazy.  He's our favorite thing in the world.  Our lives have been turned upside down in the best way!

Now he's 2.5 months old and my mind is blown!  He eats and poops like a champ, smiles and coos, and is overall the cutest baby we've ever seen (biased first time parents that we are), we're just still working on that whole sleep thing.  Sleep deprivation has done a number of crazy and hilarious things to my brain, but I wouldn't trade my early (early) morning minutes with Rower for anything.

That's about it for now.  We love being a family of three.

A video, in parting, of his first smile, taken at 6 weeks.