Just Us Girls

Just Us Girls

...one SMC's adventures in single motherhood.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Random (with pictures)

Life is absolutely amazing with a little one! I know, what an obvious statement, but it's just now sinking in. A lot has been sinking in lately...including a small meltdown in the shower this morning (I know, crazy, right?) when I heard the song "Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister on the radio. I have NO idea why that song always seems to affect me so strongly...perhaps it's because it dates back to my high school days, who knows. I love the song, I really do. Today it made me think about how imperfect I feel and how perfect I wish I were for my daughter. I hate the fact that I still have things I need to work on in my life, and I love her SO MUCH, and I want to be better, to learn how to be better...for her.

Something else that has sunk in recently is what kind of a special, amazing love it is between mother and daughter...I've never known this kind of love, and I feel so lucky to get to experience it. You can't really put words to it. On a related note, I've decided that I can't watch Law & Order anymore...so much of it seems to involve parent-child relationships, and it's often hard to watch, especially now that I have a better understanding of the love between parents and children. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love watching Law & Order reruns, including ALL of the franchises: C & I, SVU, and the original, of course. But it's like, aha, now I get it. And sometimes it just makes me bawl. Yeah, I know. What can I say, I'm a total sap.

Yet another thing that has sunk in lately is how scary it is to have this perfect little person depending on me...just me. This is by far the worst part of single parenting--I can deal with taking care of all of her needs by myself on a daily basis (not saying it's easy, but it's do-able). But there is this deep-down fear of what if something happens to me, what if I'm not enough of a parent to serve as both a mom and a dad, what if something is wrong with her medically-speaking that I end up missing somehow...she completely depends on me for everything, and I want to give her the world. Of course I'll do the best I can, but what if my best isn't enough? Yep...like I said, scary. But we'll get through somehow.

I had an awesome time at my postpartum appointment last Friday! The best part was how excited everyone was to meet this little girl...it sounds trite, but it really felt like the staff was like a family, and they were SO thrilled to finally meet her! Everyone from the u/s tech, my favorite nurse practitioner, the nurses, and a few receptionists whom I dealt with the most often. They really seemed to want to see each pregnancy through...to finally see the end result after working with the patient over the course of nearly ten months. I also got my questions answered, and they really put my mind at ease: my placental abruption was only 20 percent, and my OB felt that it probably happened right before delivery. My life was never in danger, and neither was K's...if they had not acted when they did and made the decision to do an emergency c-section when they did, her life might have been in danger in another twenty minutes or so. But they did need to act quickly, and I'm so glad they did. (goes without saying) My OB did show me what was in the pathology report, and none of it seemed to surprise him, which is good. I did get the chance to thank him, both in person and in a card that the receptionists put on his desk for him, and he very warmly told me that I didn't need to thank him, that it's his job, and he's just glad it all had a great outcome for me.

Here are a few pictures of my sweet girl...

Her first bath at home (about a week and a few days old):
(I love how skeptical she looks in the last pic!)

Posing (and yawning) next to the flowers my cousin sent us...

And here she is at 3 weeks (and 8 lbs, up from 6 lbs 1 oz two weeks ago):
(She looks so serious here! Napping is serious business, I guess!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Unanswered questions

Well, I have my first of two postpartum appointments tomorrow, and I get to see (and thank) Dr. Fabulous for everything he did for me at the hospital two weeks ago! I intend to be brave tomorrow and ask him a few questions that only he has the answers to, such as how critical my placental abruption actually was, how close of a call was it, really, for Baby K and for me, am I a good candidate for a VBAC should I achieve pregnancy again (SO not thinking about that right now, but hey, you never know what the future holds), and how high-risk would a future pregnancy be. He's a straight shooter and I'm quite sure he'll tell me straightforwardly what I really want and need to know. In all honesty, I'm scared to death to find out how much (or how little) of a close call it actually was for my sweet girl, but something inside me really needs to know the truth, scary or not. Her Apgar scores were great--8 and 9--so my suspicion is that it wasn't as critical as I'm fearing. But like I said, I just gotta know.

Dad flew home to NY this afternoon, but thankfully I'm not as sad as I thought I would be since he and Mom will be back in two short weeks! Baby K's baptism will take place on the night before Easter, April 3rd, and Mom and Dad plan to fly back on the Wednesday or Thursday before...they really don't want to miss it, which makes me happy. I'll still be on maternity leave so it'll be easy for us to pick them up from the airport. Mom flies back to NY tomorrow, and I'm planning to attend a fabulous Irish dance recital with K tomorrow night so I won't have to mope around an empty house! I really miss being involved in Irish dance, and we will get to see lots of friends and incredible dancing, so that'll be fun. Plus lots of people are wanting to meet this sweet baby girl, so I'm quite excited about it!!

I'll share what I find out tomorrow in a future post. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thrilling news!

I could not possibly be happier for LoveYouAlready, who is now a new mom to a gorgeous baby girl through domestic adoption! I have hoped for this for her for as long as I've been following her blog (not sure how long it has been now)...what an amazing, ecstatic turn of events! And now that I have a precious baby daughter of my own, it makes it that much sweeter to know that she'll be able to know the same happiness that I've discovered over the past two weeks!

There just aren't words to express the magnitude of this kind of joy...it humbles me completely

I have always loved a great happy ending, though this is far more of a beginning than anything else...congratulations, and enjoy every moment!!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Things are good!

It has been so much fun to see both of my parents turn to mush whenever they pick up baby K and coo at her and make faces and so on! I love the fact that they both obviously love her SO much, and it was pretty instantaneous. I need to make a list of all of the pet names my mom calls her, because it's so adorable and they're different from the names I call her on a regular basis. Some of the pet names we both use date back to when I and my two brothers were babies! Mom and Dad unfortunately head back to New York this Thursday and Friday, and I know I'm going to be incredibly sad. They're going to miss this little one like crazy, and the best I can do is to send pictures and updates on a very regular basis. I'm not worried about what it will be like with only the two of us here, but it WILL be a much quieter and in all honesty, a much lonelier existence as well. I've enjoyed having the extra company here, and I'll definitely be missing it (and them) after they leave. Mom and I have been through quite the adventure together, and it's a set of memories that are unlike any other. It's really changed the face of our relationship, but in what ways, I can't really put into words. All I know is that childbirth is a very profound experience, and neither of us will be forgetting it anytime soon. But I'm so excited about what the future holds...I am so thrilled I get to watch her grow and learn new things and interact with me and with her environment more and more each day! She is SUCH a treasure, and a blessing. I feel like the luckiest mama in the world!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Birth story

Wow, so where do I start? It's been a weird and wonderful ride, and I'm still processing all that went on this past Tuesday, March second, when I went into the hospital to be induced. First, the basics: my amazing miracle daughter, Kiernan Sienna, was born at 6:34 am on Tuesday, March 2nd, weighing six pounds, twelve ounces, and she was 19 3/4 inches long. I always have heard about how boundlessly you find yourself loving your child, but it's the kind of thing you can't truly understand until you get to experience it for yourself. I never imagined how much I could love this tiny, perfect human being, and I feel so incredibly blessed to get this chance. Every day is a new discovery, and I keep feeling like it's all this amazing, incredible dream that I don't ever want to wake up from.

But when I say that I really need to process all that went on this past Tuesday, I'm not kidding. There is definitely some grief involved...it was a very traumatic delivery for several reasons, and I still can't think about it without reliving a lot of the fear and sadness I experienced. I still cry when I think about it, and it's not all due to hormones. I'll admit, a lot of it probably is, but I have to let a few things go, and hopefully in time I will.

I guess I'll start at the beginning. I'm hoping that writing about it will help me to process it, so please, bear with me. I went in for my usual Monday morning monitoring appointment, and overall things went okay. The biophysical profile was fine, and I met with my ob. But he was surprisingly concerned about what he perceived to be a lack of movement during the biophysical profile (I'm still convinced that my baby girl was just sleepy, especially considering the fact that I rushed out of the house without eating breakfast, and she typically becomes much more active once I've eaten.) He informed me that he wanted me to check into the hospital that night instead of Tuesday night, just to play it safe. He was concerned about possible "decreased fetal movement", and I didn't mind being cautious, even though it made that day much more stressful because I still had so much to do before heading to the hospital! But okay, I knew I'd go with whatever he thought was best. They put me on the monitor, and everything was fine...she was moving around a TON, her heart tones were great, and there were really no concerns at that point. So I got a LOT done throughout the rest of the day, with my mom's help, and I'm still proud of all that we accomplished! I was panicking a bit, though, because I was planning on finishing up my sub plans that night, which I now wouldn't get to do, and I had to figure out what to do regarding getting ready for my sub for the next seven weeks. I went over to school to figure it out, and to make a longer story a bit shorter, it all worked out just fine.

So that afternoon, I packed up my hospital bag and headed over to the hospital with Mom around 6:45 pm. I was excited and nervous all at the same time, and as luck would have it, we toured the birth center just the night before as part of the last childbirth class, so I knew exactly where I'd be spending the next day or two. That was really reassuring. Once I got settled in my L & D room, they had me change into my hospital gown, put me on the monitors, checked what was happening, and everything looked good. I even got to take the best jacuzzi tub bath of my life before they started the Cytotec and my IV around 9 pm. Much to my surprise, the Cytotec was very good to me. I had read all about the nightmare stories about the off-label use of this drug, did a lot of research, talked to a lot of people, and decided to trust my ob who has been using it for the past ten years with not a single problem to speak of. They only used one dose, and it started my labor in a very gentle way, if that makes any sense. I started to feel contractions, but they were totally manageable, and I was able to breathe through them the way we had been taught in childbirth class. Mom and I tried to get some sleep before things really began to happen.

Around 1:30 am, though, the contractions got a lot stronger, and I realized that I was barely able to breathe through them and stay on top of them mentally, which would only get worse. So I called the nurse and asked about an epidural, and she sent the anesthesiologist over. As the two nurses were getting me situated on the very edge of the bed, towards the top--where I'd have to sit in order to receive the epidural--much to my surprise, my water broke! Now that's a weird sensation! I was so surprised that putting in the epidural took a full 25 minutes...I don't know why, but I've always assumed it was a fairly quick procedure. Um, no. You have to sit basically curled over into a ball and endure some pretty painful moments, all the while still finding a way to get through many strong contractions. Not easy, let me tell you. I wouldn't relive that experience for anything, but the anesthesiologist was very patient and encouraging, as were my nurses. (He was even nice enough to visit me later in my hospital room, which I'll say more about later.) And the epidural did make a huge difference, which I really appreciated at the time. It took effect very quickly, and they asked me to try to get some more sleep until I was more dilated. I was surprised to discover that even though I didn't feel the contractions as much as I was before, an epidural does nothing to relieve the pressure of the baby against your cervix and in truth, your entire pelvic floor. So the pressure (contractions) still continued to get more and more painful, and I had to use all those breathing techniques I learned in childbirth class. I went from a 4 (dilation) to a 6 to a 9 in what felt like no time at all, and then finally, I was a 10, and it was almost time to push! The nursing staff was trying to hold off, though, until at least 5 am so my ob could be there to deliver the baby. They had been talking to him several times throughout the night, but he was trying to hold off coming in until at least 5 am. If the baby decided to make an appearance earlier, they would have had the on-staff ob deliver, but my ob really wanted to be there himself. My ob did finally arrive, and they had me push for I think about half an hour. (Such a strange feeling to not be able to move my legs very well due to the epidural, and to feel pretty helpless as a result!) Baby Girl was only at a zero station, and she wasn't budging much at all. The nurses put an oxygen mask on my face. What I wasn't fully aware of at the time, though, was her drop in heart rate during every contraction and push. At this point, things started to happen very, very fast.

My ob made the decision that an emergency c-section was needed because the baby's vitals began dropping, and Mom recalled that as soon as he made the decision to go with an emergency c-section, he was out of the room like a shot to arrange for an operating room to be set up. Everything seemed to go into hyper-speed, and the nurses explained that I'd be brought into the operating room right on the same bed I'd been laboring on for the past several hours. It was that quick. The anesthesiologist proceeded to tell me that there wasn't even time to give me a stronger epidural, a spinal block, anything resembling the way I'd seen c-sections happen on TV. I was going to be completely put under, under general anesthesia. It was NOT supposed to happen that way. All I could do was lie there on that bed as it was being rushed down the hall, feeling absolutely paralyzed in fear--I will never forget how it felt to not be able to move because I was so terrified. I have never been so scared in my entire life. I didn't know if my baby would survive, I didn't even know if I would survive the surgery. All I could do was start to pray, and I prayed the hardest I ever have in my entire life, not knowing if it would even make a difference. They got me into the operating room (I think I now have a phobia of operating rooms) and pressed this hard plastic mask over my nose and mouth. I couldn't breathe well, and it felt like they were trying to suffocate me. They kept asking me how I was doing, if I was okay, and I was so upset that I was still conscious. I just kept saying from behind the mask, "I'm still awake!" I think I must have told them that at least four times in response to their "How are you doing?" questions. If I had to be put out, I wanted to be put out sooner rather than later, and it felt like it took forever. I have a vague memory of the betadyne stuff being squirted all over my front (they referred to this kind of operation, if I recall correctly, as "splash" or "splash and dash" or something equally as horrifying.) and I was still! conscious! I finally smelled the anesthesia gas coming through the mask, and that was the last thing that I remember before coming to about a half an hour later.

Coming to was like discovering that what I thought was just a dream was actually happening after all. It felt like someone had just given me a second chance, that I'd get to have the baby after all. The first thing they told me was that my baby was just fine, but I don't think it fully registered at that point. I just started to sob, saying, "I've never been so scared!" I couldn't stop crying. They told me that my mom was with the baby, and that she was doing great. I was still in such a fog that things weren't really registering, but they were starting to. They wheeled my hospital bed out of the OR and down the hall past the nursery, where I could see (barely, as though in soft focus) a nurse holding up a beautifully pink baby...I don't think I'll ever forget that sight, even though I don't really have a crystal-clear memory of it, only a rather vague one. They brought my bed into another hospital room, and I discovered with a start that it was the same one I had been laboring in. And at that point, I think they put my baby girl, who by this time was dressed in a little shirt and hat and wrapped in a blanket, into my arms. I hate the fact that I can't really recall the specifics of that moment, only that I started sobbing all over again once I really realized that she was just fine. I also hate the fact that I never got to have that moment of the nurses putting the baby on my stomach or into my arms right after she was born...I had to wait a half hour or so just to find out she was going to be okay. I won't ever be able to get that moment back, and it breaks my heart. I'll get over it, but right now it still makes me incredibly sad.

But I think what has affected me the most has been discovering that the reason behind my baby girl's decreased heart rate during all that pushing was a placental abruption. My ob had suspected it, had made the decision to rush me into an emergency c-section, and had discovered that his hunch was correct. He was the one who performed the c-section as well. My baby girl almost didn't make it at all. Someone mentioned later (can't remember who it was) that during the surgery, they ended up removing my placenta in pieces, something I'm trying so hard not to picture in my head. I've decided to write my ob a thank-you card of sorts, which is the least I can do, considering all that has happened. Will someone please tell me how you thank someone for saving your child's life?! I am honestly not sure how to even put into words the gratitude I feel. But I know I have to try.

So I had to stay in the hospital from Monday night all the way until Friday morning. Recovery has been difficult, as any woman who has gone through a c-section knows. I had a "pain ball" attached to my incision (a grenade-shaped plastic ball of pain medication connected to the incision itself) for the rest of the week, which was great, I guess, except for the fact that I had to be tethered to it 24-7. It was also very upsetting to have every kind of hospital personnel come into my room and preface their remarks with "I know you've just been through a very difficult/traumatic/upsetting (pick one) delivery..." yet no one really came to talk to me about exactly what had happened during delivery. As my mom put it, it felt like everyone was invited to my party except for me. The anesthesiologist did come back later to visit, and he told me that in non-emergency c-section situations, it takes fifteen minutes for the spinal block etc. to take effect, whereas my doctors had only minutes to get my baby girl out. I've basically been putting together the pieces of the puzzle all last week during my hospital stay. Needless to say, my mom was just as panicked and scared as I was while I was in surgery, and she spent the duration of the surgery basically pacing the floor. She described to me later--in tears--the way at the moment they came to tell her that both the baby and I were okay, dawn was breaking, and it was an absolutely beautiful sight. I don't regret the c-section at all...it was necessary to save my daughter's life, and I couldn't possibly be more thankful that she's now here to continue the journey with me.

I know that I might very well have more to add to this birth story, but for now, it's a start. I think she is absolutely perfect and beautiful in every way, and I swear she gets cuter by the day! I'm not sure what I would have done if she hadn't made it out of surgery. That's a question I will gladly leave unanswered. I'm just so happy to enjoy her presence every day...she's truly amazing.

Friday, March 5, 2010

She's here!

My amazing, beautiful new daughter was born at 6:24 am on March 2nd after an emergency c-section (not fun)! I will share her birth story and her name SOON, with pictures!! Stay tuned!