Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lesson of the day

Today I have learned that to think I can take a shower AND get dressed in the space of one baby nap is ambitious.

Enter a dirty diaper and I'm done for!

Monday, September 28, 2009

This blog needs a new name...

...and I'm taking suggestions!

It's been two years, and no disrespect, but Tim hasn't contributed ONCE so I'm taking his name off the marquee!

Linnea at one month!

I can’t believe our baby girl is already one month old! She is starting to coo and smile, and almost unbelievably slept 8 HOURS STRAIGHT last night! Good girl!

We are having lots of fun with her and “Papa” got to come visit this past weekend (he and my mom are going to be Papa and Nana, like my Dad’s parents were to Logan and me)…

Visit from Dad 011

Visit from Dad 012 This is how he used to carry me as a baby!

Tim is back at work for the first time today and things have been going well. I got to go to the gym before he left, then come home and shower and even eat lunch! Linnea has been sleeping, eating, and awake and happy…I’ve updated Facebook with more photos (also check the album under her name) and will put a few here as well.

We are so thankful for and in love with our little girl!

Linnea at one month 001

Linnea at one month 002

Linnea at one month 008

Linnea at one month 010

Thursday, September 24, 2009

And the bar keeps on changing

I am thinking a lot these days about consistency and expectations, and this is the conclusion I’ve come to:

With a newborn, there is no consistency, and I have to keep adjusting my expectations.

Before Linnea was born, Tim and I had a lot of conversations about what we would be able to "do" afterward...from when we could return to church and community group to how we might handle getting me out of the house to go to the gym. His original approach was setting the bar somewhat high, in my opinion then, and mine was rather low--I wasn't expecting we'd be able to do much at all in the first few weeks.

The truth is that we’ve been able to do a lot more than I thought we would—having people over, going on walks, going to the grocery, getting to the gym (for me), making it to community group and church, and even making an excursion to Safeco Field for the Yankees v. Mariners game last week (more on that to come).

BUT, those “outings” have in no way been predictable or consistent. Going to church one week does not mean we will make it the next. Getting 6 hours of sleep in a row because Linnea was sleeping that long, and then going to the gym after an early morning feeding, happened ONCE. Community group was awful with her one week, and fine the next. Baby girl cheered for the Yankees one night, and cried at a baby shower for friends the next.

It’s really hard for me to accept the unpredictability of our days sometimes. I either feel like a bum for sitting around the house unshowered, with the XBOX streaming some mind-numbing entertainment between feedings (we watched the entire first two seasons of 30 Rock…can’t say that was a COMPLETE waste of time, though!), or feel on top of the world when we make it through an entire outing (Yankees game again) with relative ease. OR, I hate outings and only want to sit at home on the couch, which as of last night now has baby poop on it.

The days and nights are very variable. In Linnea’s first week and a half, she was very sleepy during the day and it was hard to wake her and keep her awake for feedings. Nights were tough. Then, she kind of flipped, and was more awake (and fussier) during the day, with a multi-hour cry fest beginning around dinner time, but she slept at night like a champ: 4 hours, 5 hours, even 6 hours a stretch! The pediatrician said at her two-week appointment (which went great BTW) that we could let her go as long as she would sleep at night without waking her to eat, so that was great for several nights. She slept 6 hours straight two nights in a row. But in the last few days she has taken HOURS to get down for bed, and then slept a little less time each stretch, and was harder to get back to sleep.

Luckily she’s had only one terrible bout of gas, causing me to run to the drugstore for some Mylicon that may or may not have worked. I was so sad for my little girl to be in so much tummy pain, and her screaming with real tears was heartbreaking for all of us. But I’m thankful that most of her fussiness is just spurts of crying, and not crying of the I’m-in-pain-why-aren’t-you-helping-me variety.

Anyway, last Friday we had tickets for the Mariners v. Yankees game -- I bought them for Tim's birthday back in May and at the time, a game date of three or four weeks after the baby came seemed smart compared to a week before my due date. But with the recent evening meltdowns I didn't see any way we could get through the game at Safeco Field.

But Linnea surprised us both and, after a good bit of yelling in the car on the way over (she still hates her car seat), she was either asleep or happily awake for THE WHOLE GAME! We stayed until the end, with three feedings and two diaper changes (one with an outfit change as well -- she sure knows how to trash those diapers!), and even got a certificate commemorating her first Major League baseball game! It was a really fun time.

09-24-09 Linnea at Yankees Game, etc 005 09-24-09 Linnea at Yankees Game, etc 030 09-24-09 Linnea at Yankees Game, etc 025 09-24-09 Linnea at Yankees Game, etc 004

Here are some more pictures from baby girl being really fun and smiley during awake time this week! I am so blessed to have this girl…it makes all the long evening hours worth it when she’s cooing and smiling sometimes during the day!

09-24-09 Linnea at Yankees Game, etc 035 09-24-09 Linnea at Yankees Game, etc 051 09-24-09 Linnea at Yankees Game, etc 047 09-24-09 Linnea at Yankees Game, etc 039

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A note on pictures

Just to tell you all, if you click on a picture it will get bigger, so you can see everything better that way. But keep in mind it doesn't open up a new window, so you'll have to hit "Back" on your browser to get back to the post.

More pictures!

sneeze

Linnea likes to stretch all the time -- after being fed, before being swaddled, when she's waking up, when she's asleep...it's really funny to watch, especially since she always arches her back, turns red, and grunts!


car seat...which has become one of her least favorite places (imagine screaming instead of this mild look of contempt)


love that hat!


a sling we borrowed...one of two times we've tried it so far. I think it's too big for me. oh well.



baby girl with Grandma Mary! She and Lydia were in town for a week to help out and just left last night. It was great to have them here! They made lots of food for us, including multiple loaves of bread, a cheesecake, a carrot cake, puppy chow, pecan tarts (sense the theme here? Lydia really likes to bake!), split pea soup, homemade mac and cheese, beef stew, calzones, hamburgers...we have the fridge and freezer stocked!



Aunt Lydia! Wow, an aunt at only 11. Sarah beats her at 8 years old (but almost 9).



Some play time on the blanket Mary made.



A walk. We went out just about every day when Mary and Lydia were here...and I got more used to feeding her outside. But the love for the car seat did not grow. Unfortunately that, combined with her new fussy period from about 7-10pm (we are in a calm spell now which is allowing me to write this post) means we probably won't make it to Tim's birthday Yankees game on Friday night. They are playing the Mariners and I bought him tickets way back in May for his bday...bad idea? Apparently yes. I'm bummed because I have no issues taking a 3 week old baby to the ballpark...but I think our 3 week (on Friday) old baby has issues with being taken out to a game at 7:10pm! We'll see what we do.


no she's not doing the Thriller dance, Linny Bean's just stretching again in her crib

LOVE these baby feet.


With Mary and Lydia before they left.

Got baby girl a mini-swing. (and the square footage in the living room keeps getting smaller!) she likes to look to the side rather than up, which is a mystery to me!


silly face. this girl already has a personality! i'd call it "particular." that's just the word that comes to mind.

When being just me is kind of lonely

Today I drove to the gym by myself and started to put my hand to my belly -- I used to talk to baby Linnea when she was still in my belly and we were in the car together: we just dropped Daddy off at work; now we're going to the gym; etc -- and then I realized--

It was just me.

Alone, in the car. No baby to talk to.

I was glad to get the time to go to the gym, but I was also kind of sad.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mommy means...

...Santa Claus isn't the only one with a belly like a bowl full of jelly.

...when getting dressed for the day (usually after noon) I reach for clothing in the passable pile rather than for what's clean. Reasons: A) not much is clean; B) I've reentered the no-man's-land where very few prepregnancy items fit and most maternity stuff is now too big. Sigh.

...time to myself is relegated to my (almost) daily shower.

...I am constantly congratulating someone on such basic bodily functions as burping, pooping, and opening the eyes to look around.

...it's actually kind of fun to be up in the middle of the night because that's become the easiest time of day -- Linnea will always eat well and fall asleep soon after. Forget the dinner hour until bedtime, though: that's reserved for a daily meltdown.

...getting partially nude in public is not a problem if it means quieting down a screaming girl.

...having my baby girl look me in the eyes is the most wonderful part of my day.

...when I used to want everything just so, the amount of clutter that has descended on my living room is hardly noticeable.

...giving lots and lots of kisses to my sweet little bundle and rubbing my cheek across her soft soft hair.

...finally getting to show off the end result to friends at the gym who watched my belly grow for the last 9 months.

...writing lots of thank you notes for many sweet cards and gifts.

...Netflix is suddenly the world's best investments.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Observations of a new parent

I know the recent posts have been few and far between, and I'll try to get better with that, especially with adding more pictures! (I have been especially lame about Facebook recently because I still cannot log on from my laptop--no idea how to fix that for the time being).

I would love to post every day about what we've been up to, etc, but that's just not realistic at this point. I think the bulleted list will be the new default format for my posts for a while to come!

Here is the latest news:

  • Linnea is not a creature of habit, much as we originally thought. Breastfeeding has changed every day, and while she is good at it, the amount of time she wants to eat and the frequency of feedings changes day-to-day. HOWEVER, we had a breakthrough yesterday in which I fed her IN PUBLIC for the first time, TWICE! I have this cute little nursing cover and right as we pulled into the Marina Park parking lot in downtown Kirkland she wanted to eat, so I pulled it out and gave it a whirl. Nothing to it! AND, we busted it out again at community group in another park last night...our first time back (we really only missed one week -- last week when she was 4 days old). It's great to know we can get out of the house and not be stuck with a screaming, inconsolable infant.
  • Sleep deprivation reduces your anxiety about SIDS. It just does. During Linnea's first night, when I was alone with her in the hospital, I literally didn't sleep a wink because I was just staring at her to make sure she was breathing. I even ran out into the hall in my nursing gown, completely barefoot and ridiculous, when I thought she was choking once. But now we're almost two weeks in and the two-ish hours of sleep I get per stretch at night are so necessary my body just shuts down. I feel fine during the day, but my heightened anxiety level and decreased energy level seem to cancel each other out somewhere around 1 am.
  • The whole motherhood instinct thing is taking a while to kick in. I feel more confident now about consoling her and being alone with her, but I was so dependent on Tim in the very beginning that I didn't know how I'd ever be able to spend the whole day alone with Linnea after he returns to work. She needs so much, which boils down to me being kind of afraid of her. What if I do something wrong, or don't do something right? What if she starts choking and no one else is around? (I have read through all the stuff on infant CPR, and used to be certified for adult, but will probably take a course on it at the hospital in the near future just to be safe). What if she's crying and I can't calm her? Besides the physical reality of producing food for her, I am not yet possessed of the motherly notion that I am sufficient in and of myself to care for my daughter (which is how I expect motherhood to feel...you know, capable of anything). Ha, guess that's where God comes in.
  • We have been taking more outings and that's been great. I baked a bunch of chocolate chip cookies for the nurses at the hospital and the three doctors who took care of us and we delivered them yesterday afternoon. We've been on three walks now, and also to the grocery store. While I am wary of the fact that fall is approaching and they say not to take newborns to crowded public spaces in the first few weeks (how many, I'm not sure), I need to be able to get out of the house to realize that yes, I can function with a baby. Doing the whole thing by myself, though -- carseat, stroller, diaper bag, errands, feedings, etc -- is going to take a while. God bless Microsoft for their four week parental leave! Can't say enough about it.
  • Besides the "super mom" thing I'm not sure I've mastered (and probably all moms really do feel like they're inadequate most of the time), the bonding thing is a bit of a mystery to me. Linnea now looks me in the eye a lot when she's nursing, which I love (and is also when I think she's the cutest), and also if she's lying on her back on the floor during her awake-play time, but in the first week she wouldn't really meet my eye. I think it was because she was so sleepy when she was nursing that she didn't look at me much then, and then Tim was the one who did most of the rocking and diapering to give me a break. I'm waking him less and less for the nighttime feedings so I can get a chance to, well, be in her face, basically. But I do still appreciate him holding and playing with Linnea to give me a few minutes here and there to straighten up or take a shower. (Tim does his fair share of laundry and dishes and cleaning up, though...but there's something therapeutic about it that I can't completely let go of!) So probably more of the mommy-baby bonding will take place as she's more awake and I'm the one who spends more time with her.

Oh, and here are the "new parent" observations for which I named this post:

  1. You don't get too attached to what you've put on for the day when it's likely to be covered in leaked milk or spit up within the hour.
  2. Laundry is a fact of life. Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day.
  3. You get kind of good at doing things with one hand.
  4. Guilt--am I neglecting her if I go take a shower or finish my sandwich? If I sleep five more minutes before feeding her? If I don't change her outfit for the third time this hour because she's spit up on the sleeve AGAIN?--takes on a whole new level.
  5. Your sensibilities ping-pong between ultra-sensitive (is she still breathing? QUIET, everyone, she's trying to sleep!) to eh, she'll be okay (that diaper really isn't that wet...let's turn up the volume a bit on the XBOX).
  6. The nurses on the 24-hour line at the pediatrician don't hate you for calling every day.
  7. Every nurse has a bit of a different opinion; listen to the advice but trust your gut.
  8. While being a new parent is stressful, and overwhelming, it is also the ultimate in fun!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Linnea's First Week

Baby girl has been doing so well!
She's 8 days old, and we have had an adventurous week:
  • trip back to the ER late Sunday night to make sure the redness in her diaper was nothing (it was nothing. if someone ever tells you about the apparently normal urite crystals, listen to them--it will save you some gas and a sleepless night!)

  • check-up back at the hospital Monday morning -- Linnea is doing great!

  • many, many loads of laundry -- that baby stuff gets dirty quickly when you're nursing and changing diapers around the clock!

  • milk came in Monday, and Linny Bean is a good eater -- so good she's vomited up a few meals; guess she wasn't born at 8 lb, 15 oz for nothing!

  • first trip out to Target in the stroller on Thursday to get Mommy some nursing tanks (all three of which had to be washed a few hours later...I am going to have to get used to this!)

  • first walk around the block yesterday afternoon

And lots of fun naps, playtimes on the floor, and snuggly times with Mommy and Daddy!

Linnea has also been acquiring a slew of nicknames...Tim called her a "bean" when she was swaddled in the hospital, so it's been Linny Bean, Miss Bean, Beanie, Linny Bug, Linny Lou, Linny Love, Linny Girl...and also we do call her Linnea. :) I'm not thinking she's only going to be Linny (the way I am mostly Cameron but also Cam and sometimes Camie to a select few, hehe), but it sure is fun.

Tim also calls her a Hungry Hungry Hippo, which I would say is deserved.

And finally, some fun pictures! More to come on Facebook.

















calming down

bean in the basket

Daddy/Daughter nap time



already making plans

tummy time


learning how to row


an elegant sleeper

the inevitable...playing XBOX with Daddy (it arrived on her birthday; Tim says I got the baby, he got the XBOX)


first bath


who's tired?


happy 1 week! champagne & brownies with burp cloths and the monitor side by side

hi there


yawn

hi Dad!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Our birth story

So...this is the post I started last Thursday, which some of you might have seen because Tim accidentally posted it while I was still writing --- and then things were happening and I couldn't finish it (and then deleted it from the blog). I'll give it to you now in raw form and then add on the rest of the story!

And the birth dates keep flying on by...

Is it super lame to update your blog while in labor?

I suppose so, and since I've been in the hospital for about 21 hours now and am NOT in labor, I don't mind if I do.

Right. So here's what happened. Yesterday, Wednesday August 26, at around 3pm I thought my water broke. There had been signs for a few days but nothing major, so when I thought this could be it, I called the dr and they told me to come in so they could check. If it HAD broken, I would be going straight to the hospital (finally!), so I rushed around without even drying my hair or anything (had just gotten out of the shower...yes at 3pm...what do you want I was 4-5 days overdue) and got all my stuff together for the hospital.

Mom and I drove to the office and then she left to get Tim. I sat in the waiting room YEARNING for this not to be a false alarm. And it wasn't, not really.

My water had not broken. In fact, there was no detectable rupture in the membrane. BUT, there was almost no amniotic fluid, which my dr confirmed with an ultrasound. How the fluid escaped without rupturing the sack is beyond me, but baby can't just be hanging out with no amniotic fluid, so my dr said I should go ahead to the hospital and they would induce. She wanted to think about exactly how to do it because my body was nowhere near going into labor, but she was all excited and said, "You're having this baby today!"

Ahem.

We checked in at about 4:45 yesterday (I have only just been taken off the continuous external fetal monitoring) and they spent a while looking at baby. Then they did a contraction stress test to see how baby would fare with stronger contractions, since usually babies without amniotic fluid to cushion them don't take it as well and their heart rates decrease. If baby couldn't handle contractions, it would be pretty much an automatic c-section, which of course we didn't want, so we were eager to see how it would go. It was a big dose of Pitocin through an IV (synthetic hormone like oxytocin, which the baby is supposed to release to stimulate labor).

Baby passed with flying colors and I actually got to eat a sandwich at 8pm. (I never felt any of the contractions except for some tightness...not normal). People, this is a big deal. They don't let you eat during labor, and with all this medication stuff I wasn't able to eat anything except for the weak tasting grape popsicles they had in the freezer. So I was really hungry.

At about 9:30 last night they started me on a prostaglandin, which is supposed to get things all ready for another go with Pitocin to stimulate contractions. We had to wait for it to take effect over 4 hours, and when I was checked at 1:30 this morning (after getting not much sleep...this hospital bed is the pits) it had SORT OF worked, but as I was still contracting they didn't want to start me on Pitocin again until 4:30am since adding contractions to existing contractions is not super good (reduces blood flow to baby).

Are people wary of the term dilation? Maybe so, but I'm just going to say it. I was only the tiniest, the merest hint dilated at 4:30 this morning. Hadn't gotten a lot of sleep. Had heard some women screaming down the hall. All was not pleasant. And poor Timmy just had a rickety cot to sleep on next to my bed.

And now to continue the story...

At 4:30 Thursday morning they started the Pitocin again, and they let it go for six hours (!). I was contracting a lot but I didn't feel it much, which in retrospect might have been good because some of them were SUPER long, like 8 minutes one time. (They are supposed to be about 90 seconds to 2 minutes at the longest). I think Tim and I probably played backgammon a bunch of times, and I was able to sit on the birthing ball some to get out of bed, in addition to my fun trips to the bathroom with the IV. All these long blocks of time were really frustrating, because it wasn't as if we could just try something and see if it worked--we tried something and waited about 1/4 of a day to see if it worked, which made the whole process stretch out way longer than we had ever anticipated.

Well, the Pitocin didn't do much. The tiniest bit dilated I was increased to a little bit dilated, and at this point I was feeling very down and like this baby was never going to come...or not going to come without a c-section. I felt like we were running down a rabbit hole and every attempt was just keeping us in the hospital longer, with a c-section being the inevitable outcome. Of course plenty of people have c-sections and they recover just fine, but I was worried about the possibility of infection, missing the initial bonding with baby since I wouldn't be able to hold her (still it at this point) right away, having a longer recovery, not being able to have the experience of a natural birth, and reducing the number of kids we could have to 2 or 3, since that's about all doctors will do once you start having the surgery. But we kept praying for something to work and for the ability to trust God whatever the outcome.

My doctor was present at the beginning of this, but throughout the first evening and night I was in the care of the nurses. I want to say right now how wonderful the experience was in that regard -- everyone we interacted with was so friendly, helpful and encouraging. I honestly couldn't have asked for better care at the hospital, and am so grateful that God placed those specific people (we went through about 7 shift changes) on the floor that night to take care of Tim, baby and me. They responded quickly when we needed help and offered tissues when yet another induction method failed to make much progress, and sent encouraging glances our way when we took a sad walk down the hall every time we needed to start something new and i was given about an hour's break between medications. Without them this difficult situation would have been almost unbearable.

Dr. Brown (our OB) was on call the night I was admitted to the hospital, but she had the next day off and was planning to take engagement photos with her fiance in the afternoon. When we first checked in I thought, no way will that get in the way, I'm having the baby in the morning! Well. Guess I didn't really understand what "long process" meant. Dr. Brown came by mid-morning after the Pitocin had run its course and let me know we'd be in the hands of Dr. Moore, the on-call physician who is one of the OBs in the practice we had previously met. I didn't have much of an impression of her previously because our visit had been so short, and that particular time we didn't have any questions. But Dr. Brown said she held her in the highest regard, and she'd been doing this about 10 years longer than herself, and also that she was her sister's OB. So I was encouraged, and especially so when the nurse on that shift said she really liked her a lot.

I'm pretty sure I started this post around the time Dr. Brown left, when I was given another hour break and another turkey sandwich (there was a fridge down the hall with tons of food for Tim, and for me, when I was allowed. The turkey sandwiches, which I'd been missing all pregnancy, were super good...or maybe I was just happy to eat something every 6 or so hours). Anyway, I had to stop writing when Dr. Moore came in to give me the prostaglandin gel--a similar drug to the previous prostaglandin but one that worked a bit differently.

Let's just say that getting the gel was not pleasant...and with it came ANOTHER 4 hour wait for progress. That was followed by another 6 hours on Pitocin. But Dr. Moore was very pleasant herself, and I liked the way she approached the induction. I was feeling confident that if she ended up delivering baby everything would go well--but I was still hoping Dr. Brown would come back to check on me later that night and *hope against hope* do the delivery, or do it in the morning. Again, I had contractions, actually painful ones, and it was late at night when Dr. Moore came to check me again after the next two installments of induction.

Unbelievably, there had yet again been only a slight change.

I was really feeling at my wits' end at that point...we had been through such a long process already and it seemed like nothing was going to work; meanwhile we were just waiting and pumping my system full of drugs I never wanted in the first place. (How ironic that I was mentally approaching labor and delivery as a drug-free, intervention-free event -- ideally -- and I ended up getting almost everything in the book. God's plan, not mine!)

We asked Dr. Moore how realistic it was to expect repeating the same induction methods -- the next step was another go with the terrible gel -- to get my body to respond differently; isn't doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result the definition of insanity? But she said that since SOME progress had been made it was reasonable to expect we'd get somewhere with more gel and Pitocin. It had to do with my body creating Pitocin receptors and being more likely to respond to the drug on the second or third try. However, maybe it was best for now (it was already nighttime) to just give me some Ambien to sleep and try again in the morning. Tim and I thought that was an excellent plan. I was in no shape to go into active labor having not slept much the night before, and having been up in the night Tuesday night just unable to sleep well at home. A third sleepless night trying to manage labor was not going to work. So they gave me the sleeping pill -- more drugs! -- and I was happy to get a few hours' rest. Dr. Moore was going to come back to check on me at 4:30 in the morning, and then we'd roll forward with more prostaglandin.

Ah, sleep. And the beauty of taking a rest from all that we were doing. Because you know what God did in that amount of time? He broke my water.

It wasn't a lot, but literally at 4am, 30 minutes before Dr. Moore was going to start me up on the hideous gel, my water broke on its own while I was still in bed. That meant we could skip the gel and go straight to Pitocin, with my body hopefully taking over labor on its own, and the drug acting as a sidekick to speed things up. I was so relieved, and as the morning progressed I definitely started feeling those contractions.

Tim had already shown himself to be a great labor coach, because the previous day's Pitocin session had produced the most painful contractions yet, and I spent a good three hours breathing through them with his help (that's why I felt so frustrated when they hadn't done much). Tim would watch the printout that monitored baby's heart beat and my contractions, and he warned me when one was starting, talked me through its peak, and helped me make it to the end. I basically sat on the edge of the bed with my head buried in my arms propped up on a pillow that was on top of a table, and he rubbed my shoulders. It worked really well to help me focus on breathing and I was so encouraged by him. So that was the position I assumed for this start of "real labor," and it was the position I was in when the contractions started coming so hard and fast I started vomiting and begged for narcotics.

And that was the beginning of the end. Dr. Brown had come back later that morning and broken more of the amniotic sac that was around the baby's head. That, combined with the Pitocin, revved up my labor so that I was getting rip roaring contractions only about an hour (and 2-3 centimeters dilated) in. I do think that if my body had progressed into labor naturally I would have been able to cope with the pain better, but it doesn't matter now. I got my lovely narcotics (once again, something I never thought I'd do) through the IV I'd had in place since Wednesday afternoon (the site of which now sports a nasty bruise), and it took the edge off the contractions. I spent most of that part of labor in bed, and Tim still counted me through the contractions. I got very sleepy and silly in between, and started talking nonsense from the drugs. Tim thought it was pretty funny. But neither of us thought it was funny when the narcotics had worn off about 1 hour and 10 minutes in, and the contractions were super painful again but I wasn't technically supposed to have an epidural.

Well, thank the Lord for nurse Peggy. Apparently they like you to be at around 4 cm to get an epidural, but either she talked to Dr. Moore and they took pity on me or she just said it was fine and got the anesthesiologist to come anyway. I could have had one more dose of narcotics, but only one, and then I would have been out of luck until I could get the epidural. But this way I was definitely getting to have constant pain relief for the duration of my labor...and I was definitely on my way to having this baby. Dr. Silverman, the anesthesiologist, was super nice and I had no problem with the epidural at all, except for getting itchy. Another intervention on my plate, but no way would I ever take it back!

It was really strange to be numb from the belly down and unable to move my legs. I got all itchy, which is a normal side effect of the medication, and had to be flipped every hour. For some reason the epidural didn't work so well on my right side, so every time I was on my left I still had to breathe through some contractions. I had a fun little button I could push to get an extra shot of the drugs when I needed it, but overall I was much happier lying on my right side with all that fantastic medication draining down my body. At this point we were just waiting for labor to take its course, and I felt kind of lame that my body was doing all the work of getting ready for baby but I couldn't feel it. At the same time, though, I think I definitely earned a little relief!

I was FINALLY fully dilated around 6pm, and that was an exciting moment. This baby WAS going to come! And soon! Sure, it might take 2 hours of pushing (an average, I hear, for first babies), but there was definitely an end to all this. By this time Dr. Moore had moved on, and the new dr. on call was Dr. Zimmer. He was another doctor we'd met during the pregnancy, and we had liked him a lot. He is our friends the Claytons' OB, and we didn't originally go with him for this pregnancy just because I prefer female doctors, but I have to say I could really feel God's providence as I was preparing to deliver. We liked and trusted Dr. Zimmer, and at that point I couldn't have cared less that he was a man. He is friendly and funny and I knew he'd take care of us. He showed up at about 7pm, and a couple of other nurses came into the room to help out because there had been some meconium in the amniotic fluid, meaning baby might need a little help breathing if he or she had swallowed it while still in utero. The stage was set and we were ready to have a baby!

You know what? The pushing stage was FUN! I have the utmost respect for women (my mom and Tim's mom included) who are able to go through childbirth completely unmedicated, but given our ridiculous circumstances that was really not an option for me. And I'm so glad I got the epidural, because I thoroughly enjoyed the pushing part. Tim and our latest nurse helped support me, and they let me know when a contraction was coming so I could push. I got about 3-4, sometimes 5 good pushes for every contraction, and in between we just talked and joked about how long baby's hair was (the head was so far down when we started, probably due to our extra bit of a wait for Dr. Zimmer to arrive, that it was visible right away). Every time I laughed baby got lower, and hearing that just made me laugh more. And despite not being able to feel a thing, apparently I was a strong pusher (hey, I got compliments), and baby was born in half an our. Our precious baby girl! She kind of looked like an alien when she came out, and I have to say I was surprised when she was a girl. Guess I really had been expecting a boy all along.

So, all you ladies who were SO SURE that from the way I was carrying this baby was a boy, sorry! One of my first thoughts really was, Yikes, now we have to name her. Because we had settled on our boy name, first and middle, earlier in the week, but the girl name was still elusive. Oh well...whenever we have a baby boy we'll be all set. And I was SUPER surprised that she was so huge! Everybody asked me where I was hiding this 8 lb 15 oz crazy person, and to be honest I don't know -- she must have been curled up like a snail! I was so thankful and relieved that she was well--she went to the nursery staff right away to be checked, but she did cry and the meconium wasn't a problem, so Timmy got to cut the cord after it had been clamped. I got fixed up and Timmy got to hold his daughter for the first time. It was a wonderful experience.

I'll save Timmy's surprise trip to the ER later that evening for another post, and will soon have pictures and updates for baby Linnea's first week.

Thank you to everyone who was thinking about and praying for us this entire time. We really felt your prayers and are thankful to God for how awesome and faithful he is. A wonderful pregnancy, a perfect little girl. We just had a bit of a hiccup along the way. Praise Jesus!