Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nick and V Photography!

As some of you know, Nick and I have been interested, learning, an
d shooting photos for a long time. Nick has about 10+ years of experience and I have about 3 in photography. Collectively, we have taken pictures in still-life, dogs, landscape, head shots, engagement photos, weddings, and now with the arrival of our little one: lots of pictures of our baby girl.

With the hefty price tags of upgrading equipment (camera, lens, lights, studio-set up, etc) we have decided to launch our small business specializing in Newborn and Kids Photography. We're not really in it to make a large profit, it's more to find a venue for funding so we can afford new and better equipment.

So if you know of any newborns and small kids in the Dayton, OH area we'd love to take pics fairly cheaply as we keep building our portfolio. We'll still take pictures in other categories but we're focusing our energies on capturing little ones right now. Here's our website, although it still needs work, it'll be where we post more pictures of our work in the future:

Speaking of pictures, here are some of the latest ones...enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's sleepy time...

It's hard to believe little Olivia's 24 days old today! Time is flying by and I'm sad to even think about going back to work. My plan is to go back at the beginning of October, taking 3 weeks of my own leave. That'll put me at having 9 weeks with my little girl - really pretty good actually.

Nick's parents will be in town Labor Day weekend and my parents are probably coming back in October sometimes, depending on my sister's school schedule.

Not too much else new to report, except that Olivia did great at Bekah's house today! Even though it was only about 2 hours or so, she took all the newness in, not to mention little David was apparently fascinated with her hands. :-) She was so excited she didn't sleep or eat much, but that's okay...

Here are some pictures Nick took last night - I think they're so cute. Nick's also having fun playing with filters...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Watering the flowers...

The last twenty-four hours have been a blur. I was mostly laid up in bed with a case of beginning mastitis. :-( I was hoping to avoid this but when I could hardly get out of bed this morning I knew something wasn't right. I called the hospital and was told to come in. I was prescribed antibiotics to start treating the infection right away. I hate taking medicine but in this case I need to get better so I can take care of Olivia. Plus I read that the earlier it's treated the better it'll be. I'd say nursing is tough, anyone who says otherwise is simply not giving accurate information! But since breast milk is best I'm determined to keep going with this...

So as I start to feel better hopefully, we are still moving forward with more photo-shoots of our little girl. This one is so incredibly cute I had to share pronto!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Olivia's 2 week follow-up!

Nick and I took Olivia (17 days old today!) to her 2 week follow-up appointment at the base pediatric clinic. Everything went fairly smoothly. She was kind of squirmy and didn't like being completely undressed on the table for measuring her weight and height. Somehow hospital clinics are always freezing! She is 8 lbs 4 oz, more than surpassed her birth weight of 7 obs 10.7 oz so she's doing great. Apparently it takes up to 2 weeks just for newborns to gain back to their birth weight so we're really pleased with her progress. She is 20.25 inches, up from her birth height of 19.25 inches. As far as percentiles goes, she's 50% for weight, 77% for head circumference (to hold all her smarts in) and 17% for height. Nick says she's short like me - oh well. But since she's so small all of this can change at anytime. I'm just trying to make sure she's nursing well and gaining weight.

Since her umbilical cord has fallen off, we have also started to cloth-diaper her. We originally wanted to use the G diapers, but they were way too big. So I tried the Fuzzibunz one-size, but they were too bulky. So now we have a system of using the Fuzzibunz X-small until she grows into the G diapers a bit. So far they're working out great, except we did learn that we have to double-stuff the diapers since she's a heavy wetter. Because of their softness, the cloth diapers have actually helped heal her little booty. The disposables were really making her little bottom red, even with applying Aquaphor or baby powder at every diaper change, so I'm really happy about that.

We're fairly lucky that our little girl is a pretty good sleeper overall. Don't get me wrong, there are still moments where we cannot figure out why she cries (and the girl has a set of pipes on her!). But generally she sleeps fairly well, and I have to periodically wake her up during the night to feed her. She has been known to sleep four or five hours straight! But I've read that it's more important that they eat about every 3 hours, so as hard as it is I periodically have to wake her up to get her to eat.

We are also so lucky to have such wonderful neighbors and friends. Several neighbors and friends have come by to see the baby and shower us with food! It's amazing how tired we can get and to have a meal ready is all-too-awesome! We're very thankful indeed.

As far as other news is concerned, Nick has to go back to work this coming Friday :-( but I suppose that has to happen sometime. I have until 11 Sept but I will take a few more weeks off to be home with Olivia - it's going to be so hard to leave her, at least I'll know she'll be in good hands (with our friend Bekah!)

We are still wrestling with the insurance company and local contractors to get our roof, skylight, and gutters replaced after May's hail and wind storm. With a huge deductible it's tough, but we want to make sure everything's done right. Hopefully we can get everything done before it gets cold and snowy again this winter.

The weather has finally gotten a little cooler and we're very glad for it. My garden is suffering again this year - I simply don't have a lot of time to devote to it. The first year we were in Ohio we were too late in starting a garden (2009). The next year I was in grad school and Nick was deployed (2010). This year we have a baby...maybe next year I'll have a superb garden, although that may be wishful thinking. BUT...I'm still getting yummy tomatoes, peppers and zucchini so I guess I can't complain too much.

Nick and I went a bit crazy at Michael's and Kohl's a few days ago buying props to take more baby photos. I must say, Nick's getting better and better being an amature photographer! I will leave you with more samples of his work. As for me, I'll take limited credit with helping to set up and with some design as Nick's the brains behind all of our beautiful photos!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Olivia's Birth Story

As I write this today, Olivia's is 11 days old and we love her so very much it hurts! It's such an indescribable feeling to hold her in my arms knowing she's our baby.

I feel that it is time to share the story of just how she finally arrived into this world. It's difficult to put down in words, as I'm probably still in my post-pregnancy/labor hormonal stage, with lots of emotions that come and go, not to mention an extremely difficult labor that really took its toll on my body.

As some of you may remember, she was due on 31 July, 2011, that would make the pregnancy exactly 40 weeks, according to the way babies' due dates are calculated these days (using the 1st day of a woman's last menstrual cycle prior to becoming pregnant). Somehow I had a weird feeling that she would be either be due on the actual due date of 31 July or would be arriving late. I had secretly hoped she would arrive a bit earlier, but it's obviously not within my control.
So as her due date approached, I began to really put the final touches on everything including her nursery, trying to tie up loose ends at work, and cleaning and doing laundry at home in preparation for her arrival. My mom also booked her plane tickets from 29 July until 9 August. Everything seemed to be going along smoothly, except I was having increasing back pain and often had a hard time sleeping with bouts of insomnia here and there (more on this later).

On the morning of the 27th, a Wednesday, I started to feel kind of uncomfortable. By 3 am, it was enough to wake me out of bed. I came downstairs quietly and started to sit on the exercise/birthing ball and rocked back and forth, alternating between that and going on my hands and knees to take the pressure off my spine. I wondered if I was in early labor (which I was). By the time Nick got up, probably around 6:30/6:45, I was pretty darn sure I was having contractions, although they were still very manageable with the soothing nature of the various exercises I was going through. I used slow breathing techniques to get through each one. I was also a bit hungry but nothing sounded good. I heated up some leftover pancakes but after they were done I had no desire to eat them. I sent Nick off to work, letting him know that I'll call/email when things progressed further. Off he went.

Since my water did not break, I drew myself a bath and sat in there to relax as much as possible. I called my boss and supt and let them know that I was in early labor and would not be there for work that day. By about 10 am things were definitely progressing and the contractions where stronger and closer together, although they were not very regular. Another hour passes and I'm starting to feel very uncomfortable. I ate a small bowl of cherries and a granola bar. I finally called and emailed Nick to come home by around noon/1 pm. He came home and we labored together some more. We were trying to delay going to the hospital as much as possible, knowing that when we got there I would be hooked up to monitors and not allowed to eat lightly anymore. Some more time passes and I'm feeling even worse. I asked for a bowl because I felt like vomiting. I need to add that I absolutely HATE vomiting. I try my best to not vomit at all, but this was involuntary, and it happened, and somehow I felt better, even though I had nothing in my belly.

We finally decided to go to our good friends Mark and Jackie's house on base close to the hospital. We stayed there for probably an hour and decided to make our way to the hospital a bit after 2 pm. I was in triage briefly before the nurse announced I was at 5 cm! We were elated! We thought the labor would advance quickly and I may even have the baby that night - we were WRONG.

I continued to labor naturally even though the contractions were getting much stronger, looking back though, I don't think they were ever very regular, but we were still hopeful. I labored naturally from 2:30 pm until about 9:30 pm. I was checked again, still 5 cm! I was devastated and very discouraged. The pain was really starting to get to me. It didn't help that the resident on call (we'll just say Dr. W) did NOT read my birth plan and asked me if I wanted pain relief multiple times. Her nurse (nurse T) also asked again about pain relief - I wanted to choke them since I had specifically written in my birth plan that I would be the one asking for pain relief, not the other way around. Still, the pain was getting to me and their suggestions did not help. Finally around 10 pm I asked for something mild and was given Nubain. It did provide relief, but wore off very quickly. At this point, in my discouraged state and very exhausted state (having been up since 3 am that morning), I discussed the epidural with Nick and decided to go for it. The main reasoning is that I hadn't progressed at all, I was getting worn out, the pain was increasing and I didn't want to go through the slew of drugs before having to have an epidural anyways. The anesthesiologist was called in and the epidural was inserted around 10:45 pm. I felt relief after the drugs started kicking in and Nick and I finally got some rest.

I can't remember when the pitocin (artificial oxytocin) was started but since my contractions were still not regular I finally consented to having it started. I was pretty sure it was sometime after the epidural was inserted.

By the next morning a new shift of doctors and nurses had come in (also very discouraging). Come to find out, the attending there that morning was a surgeon (we'll call her Dr. S) and was very much a surgeon, not personable at all. I understand her concerns but she was very pushy with her talk on me needing a cesarean. Her exact words were"you're dilating too slowly, this is not normal". Even though I had read plenty of literature that talks about every mom being different, and thus dilate differently. Her resident, Dr. H, was also probably pushed by her to keep checking me. Luckily the very best labor and delivery nurse also came on shift, Julee, who was literally the best thing in my labor. She was our advocate all the way and explained a lot of things to us so that we can make the best decisions. Dr. S and Dr. H wanted to insert an IUPC into my cervix next to the baby to monitor my contractions. By this time the baby, poor thing, had been stressed enough that she had had her first bowl movement, known as meconium. I had discharged just a little of it, and it was recorded as "light meconium" - which is kind of a bad sign that she was being stressed in my uterus. There were no immediate concerns yet, but if I started spiking a fever we would both have to be monitored more closely and we would both need antibiotics and she would be presumed infected as well. Common sense told me that introducing this IUPC contraption would not help with limiting infections, so we refused it. Dr. H came in and had a "talk" with me stating that he would have to document that I refused to be checked and refused the IUPC to be placed into my cervix, and that it was against their recommendations. Nick and I agreed that we were okay with that. I was checked again after the attending left but was only at around 6/7...again, very discouraging how slowly I was progressing. Also, as a side note, they were never really sure when my water broke. It probably "broke" sometime Thursday late morning, but it was never a huge gush, but more like a trickle here and a trickle there. I think they had written down maybe around 11 am or so.

Finally Dr. S left, and a new attending Dr. G came on. He was so much better than the last attending, very personable and very understanding. He came in and talked with us for a long time. In his personal and professional opinion, he did not deem the IUPC necessary, nor a cesarean necessary at the time. He said that the baby and I are both doing fine, and really reassured us in our decisions. I told him that as long as the baby was safe we were not opting for a cesarean anytime soon, he agreed with us. I continued to labor and was checked again sometime on Thursday afternoon, I was at 8 cm, but the docs were saying that was "reducible", which we took it to mean that they can somehow try to get the baby out that way, but we weren't sure.

Now we're getting close to 6 pm...and Julee was at the end of her shift...very sad. BUT...she set us up with another excellent nurse, nurse A. She was also very knowledgeable and so calm about everything, which was great. I still wasn't progressing very well and I really did NOT want a cesarean delivery. So, Nick and I discussed it and did the only thing I knew to do at the time. We asked for the epidural to be turned way down so that I can go back to a squatting position as well as get on my hands and knees to try to use gravity to bring the baby down to open up the cervix. We were warned against this, and told that it is very difficult to come down from the epidural once you've tasted relief. I didn't see any other choice. So after awhile I could feel my legs again and started to squat and do other positions to try to encourage the baby to keep descending. After close to 3 hours I felt like I couldn't do it anymore and asked for the epidural to be turned back on. However, this time only my left side was numbed :-(

Nurse A came and decided to put me in a funny position where I'm almost on my belly, on my right side, twisted somewhat with my right arm going straight up and legs somewhat opened up on the table that they bring you food on. She said this was a good position to try to dilate the cervix - boy was she right! After a good 30 minutes I started to feel the urge to push. She said to try to breathe through it. I was checked again and was complete!!! I wanted to shout! I'm not sure when I was told to start pushing but it started later that evening, probably around 10:30 pm on Thursday. I pushed for 2 hours with the bar in a squatting position, and also did the "tug of war" thing. Unfortunately Dr. W from the first day had returned, and mentioned something again about a cesarean section. I tried to just brush her off, although in the back of my head I was dreading to have to go through all of this and end up with a c-section. Nurse A told me it's typical for a new mom to push from anywhere from 1 to 6 hours. But Dr. W gave me a 3 hour limit. Luckily Dr. T, the attending, came on. She had used the Bradley method to give birth to her child and was very understanding in terms of supporting me to have this baby vaginally. She was amazed at my mobility while under the epidural - I think it had to do with the fact that only half of me was numbed, with crazy back pain that was concentrated on my right side.

Now we'll talk a bit about pelvic stations. As the baby descends, the imaginary line that passes across on my pelvis is known as the "0" station. Anything above is a -4, -3 -2 and so on, and anything below this line is a +1, +2, etc. For the longest time I was stuck at +1, and finally reached +2 after a lot of pushing. Dr. T didn't understand why things were taking so long, so she ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound machine was brought in, and voila, all the back pain and painfully slow labor was explained: the baby was in a occiput posterior, or sunny-side up position, meaning she was facing out, with the back of her head on my spine. This not only causes for intense back labor pain, it makes descent very difficult and is a "dreaded" position by OBs and midwives. Come to find out, most babies turn by themselves on their decent and only 5% of babies are born this way, with almost half of cesarean births occurring because of this position. Dr. T suggested we try to turn the baby internally, which we agreed to. Now this was probably the most excruciating pain I've felt all my life, coupled with the fact that all the drugs were turned way down so I could feel when I pushed. For about 25 to 30 minutes she tried to turn the baby by reaching her hand up through my cervix, and I would be told to push. She needed to turn the baby a full 180 degrees, but every time she started to go past 90 degrees, the baby would start to turn back. I was starting to lose myself in the intense pain but did as I was told every time I heard her yell to push. I don't even know what happened but with all the turning and such the baby finally presented herself and descended enough for us to see her when I pushed! They brought the mirror in to try to encourage me but it didn't help since every time I pushed I would start to see her and as soon as I stopped she would retract. I asked for the mirror to be put away. Did I mention that by this time I was utterly and totally exhausted? I had been up for close to 48 hours with almost nothing to eat, just jello, pudding, popsicles, and some broth. I started to question whether I can do this. I kept telling myself we're almost there and that I can do it. More nurses came in to try to encourage me. I still couldn't get her out. Finally Dr. T asked about either the vacuum or forceps. We chose the vacuum. She warned that we can only break suction 3 times, and that we'd have to use something else if it didn't work. Luckily she only broke suction once and on the 3rd or 4th try our baby girl was finally born at 1:14 am!!! It had been about 47 hours counting back to early labor and about 34 hours after being admitted.

They put her on my belly briefly and I started to sob uncontrollably. They had to take her away quickly because of the possible infection and the fact that she was hyperventilating somewhat. Nick followed her out.

Nick came back in and told me she was 7 pounds 10.7 ounces and 19.25 inches. The midwife's student had guessed she would be maybe 6 pounds!!! Good thing I believed in the 6 pounds, because I would of had a mental block thinking she was that big!

Now comes the next part...the normal delivery of the placenta should take from 6 to 30 was going on 50 minutes and my placenta was still very much attached...everything that can possibly go wrong did, with the exception of needing a c-section. The docs were massaging my stomach to try to induce contractions to help the placenta out. I honestly don't remember how but it eventually came out and I took a brief look at it - it really is amazing, even though I'm sure most people would think it was utterly "gross" but to think that it was the lifeline of the baby for the past 10 months is no small feat.

Because of her positioning, I tore very badly (3rd degrees) and needed a lot of stitches. Nick walked in briefly but had to leave because he said it was utterly a blood-bath in there. Tons of towels were soaked up in blood. Nurses were rushing around earlier to get more sutures - not good. I was told I lost between 900 ml to 1 L of blood!!! After the suturing was done, I dove into a somewhat delirious state. I was in kind of a dream world coupled with the real world. I also had a fever, I was so incredibly hot, and Nick said I was really burning up. I didn't know at the time but I was being taken off all the drugs and I was literally having withdrawal symptoms. I was shaking uncontrollably for I don't know how long, and my muscles were exhausted with the shakes. I eventually drifted off...

Upon waking, Nick told me I was saying random things that really didn't make much sense. I do remember some of this. In my head I had a story line all figured out that was kind of a play-byplay. When I closed my eyes I played out the scenes, but when I opened my eyes Nick didn't say the things I "expected" him to say. He told me I was delirious and needed rest. After awhile I finally drifted off again...

I was up and about by 9 am later that day on Friday, the 29th, Olivia's birthday. All the nurses were surprised but I really needed to I was up. We had to stay and be monitored and the baby had to wait for cultures to be done, which luckily came negative 48 hours later. The first two nights at the hospital were hard because my milk had not come in yet, so the baby cried a lot. We managed to get through it somehow. I was grateful that the nurses and med techs would watch her for a bit when they were not busy so that I could rest.

We were discharged at about 11 am on Sunday, the 31st! It's since been a little over a week and we are recovering well. Here are the pictures Daddy the photographer took: