Thursday, June 20, 2013

Long overdue update

Hello, it's been a very long time since I have posted. To give you an update, Josie is doing great! She is almost 15 months now and is as active as can be. She is crawling all over the place, talking, and almost walking... any day now. You can find new pictures of her and poems and writings about parenthood on my new blog - I'm honored that it has been nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Birth: Baby Out of my Baby!

The Day of our Birth - April 2, 2012

3:00AM I came out of a very deep sleep to the sound of my wife talking and the lamp turned on. I could not understand what she was saying at first as it took me a few seconds to wake up. I saw her frantic look which awakened me faster. She said "Honey, I don't mean to alarm you, but I'm having strong contractions frequently which I am unable to sleep through."

I asked her how painful they are. She said painful enough so she couldn't sleep through them. She also said after timing them for over an hour they were approximately 4 minutes apart and lasted 45 seconds to a minute. We both knew about the 4-1-1 Rule which means when the contractions are at least 4 minutes apart lasting at least 1 minute for at least 1 hour you should go to the hospital.

I started to get goosebumps and felt slightly sick to my stomach with anticipation. We then called the nurse line to get some advice. As expected, they did not advise us to hurry to the hospital just yet. They suggested her to take a warm shower and call back in an hour see if that affected the contractions.

4:00AM Called the nurse line back and she reported that the shower didn't slow the contractions, actually they had increased in the intensity and were lasting a little longer now, about 1 minute. She said okay a couple more times quickly and hung up. Then she looked at me with a excited/worried look. "We're going to the hospital! Quick, finish packing our hospital bag"

After grabbing her robe and a few last minute items, we were off! She was having contractions while driving to the hospital, but it wasn't like the movies. No water had broken yet, I wasn't speeding, and she wasn't screaming in pain. We were calm, turned on some classical music and drove the speed limit. I was a little fast around corners which prompted her to tell me to slow down so she could stay comfortable.

5:00AM Arrived at the hospital. We parked in and headed up to labor and delivery. After checking in the front desk, we were seated in a triage bed. The nurse on staff came and hooked Nikki up to monitors. The also checked her cervix. She was 2 centimeters dilated. Nothing to be alarmed about since most women labor at home until they get to 4.

Nikki was upset and was thinking that she might get sent home. She was uncomfortable and didn't like the prospect of leaving the hospital. She wanted to have the baby now! So, the nurse suggested that we walk around the hospital for about an hour to see if that helped her progress.

6:25AM It seemed like forever, we made several laps on the first and second floor and Nikki's feet were really starting to get swollen and hurting her. Surprisingly, the contractions dulled and she couldn't feel them as much while walking. After 45 minutes of walking we sat down to rest by the doors of labor and delivery. Then the on-call midwife showed up. She was very nice and explained that we might not be progressing fast enough to stay at the hospital.

This made Nikki more upset and she wanted to have the baby. The midwife sympathized and said why don't we check your cervix again to and go from there. We agreed and headed back into the triage room. The contractions were intensifying now and she was in more pain. I was holding her hand now. We both waited impatiently as we watched the baby's heart rate and the contractions go up and down on the monitor.

8:00AM After about another 30 minutes I was just about to get someone and the midwife and nurse came in. They asked her how the contractions were and she said more painful and just as frequent. They checked the cervix again to find out she was 4 centimeters! She also had some bloody show which was a sign that labor was starting. A sigh of relief came over both of us and they transferred us to our labor room!

8:40AM Now the real pain started! If you read our birth plan, you know that Nikki did not want an epidural. I showed the nurse and the midwife our birth plan I had saved on my cell phone. She wanted to try a water birth if possible and no pain medication if possible. We quickly learned this was a tall order to live up to! Her contractions were increasing in intensity and duration. The pain now was centered on the sides of her hips more than anywhere else.

She described the pain from the contractions as sharp stabbing on the sides of her hips and she asked me to start rubbing there on each side as she was having the contraction. It alleviated the pain somewhat and I was happy to help in anyway I could even if I couldn't help much.

10:15AM They checked her cervix again, she was at 6 centimeters! The contractions were getting more painful now and I had to rub her hips harder each time. My hands were starting to hurt, but I didn't care, it was nothing compared to her pain and it seemed to help somewhat. I did have to keep readjusting where I rubbed because her pain seemed to change locations slightly each contraction but still along the sides of her hips and lower back.

We tried several positions to help the labor along. First she tried hands and knees, which seemed to help for awhile but then it became too painful again. Each contraction I rubbed vigorously until the pain subsided. She then told the midwife that she wanted to get in the bathtub. We knew that laboring in the water can be easier for women and it relieve some of the pain from the contractions.

She sat in the tub cross-legged facing the tiled wall and I continued my rubbing during contractions. She said it did help significantly and I could even gently pour warm water over her between contractions which was soothing she said.

I learned many of these comfort measures from our lamaze class at Baby Love Childbirth Education Classes in Eagan, MN. They taught me to basically be at her beckon call through labor and to do anything she asked. It seemed to help and it was the least I could do for my beautiful wife.

11:30AM after over an hour in the tub, the water was losing its effectiveness in relieving the pain. She was starting to cry and I cried with her. It was so hard seeing her in pain with her teardrops hitting the bathtub water each time a contraction came. It seemed unbearable pain at that point. After a particularly painful contraction, she looked at me and said "I want an epidural!" I said okay dear and kept helping her through the pain while we waited for the midwife to come back. We mentioned it to the midwife and she suggested we check the cervix again to see where she was at and then if we wanted we could start the process of getting the epidural.

11:45AM She laid back down on the bed and the contractions got worse still. The midwife asked her where her pain was on a scale of 1-10 and she said a 9. They suggested some mild narcotic pain medication also called opiods. They would help with the pain but be relatively harmless to mother and baby and would feel like you had a couple glasses of wine. After injecting the medication by IV she felt some relief right away. It didn't help much with the pain of contractions, just helped her rest in between.

She was in a lot of pain now and uncomfortable on the bed. They then suggested the exercise ball. She sat on the ball with her head and arms resting on the bed. They suggested I sit behind her to support her since she now as a bit uncoordinated from the medication. They suggested she do a hula hoop motion with her hips during the contraction as I rubbed still in about the same spot. They also suggested that she say some phrases to help her breathing. She said "Owie Owie Owie" over and over during the contraction that seemed to help. The nurse then said "You're going to hula that girl out of there!" We both laughed briefly and Nikki even cracked a smile for a second which the nurse and the midwife were delighted to see.

12:15PM Nikki carefully climbed back on the bed and they checked her cervix again. She was at a 9! The midwife was astonished how fast she was progressing and just then her mom showed up. She jumped right in comforting her on one side with me on the other while the nurse and midwife monitored. Between contractions I spent my time getting fresh cool washcloths for her forehead, eating a brief meal for energy, and I quickly called my mom to let her know it was time for her to come to the hospital.

12:45PM The pain was off the charts now. Nikki was screaming and crying at times like I had never seen her do before. She seemed barely conscious, almost in a trance like state of pain and anguish! I couldn't contain myself as I sobbed over her. My teardrops fell on her back as I continually massaged her hips. The muscles in my arms were burning now from the pain of rubbing for nearly 6 hours but still I kept going. I know she needed me to continue and it was the least I could do.

We then changed positions again. This time draping her body over the front of the bed with it elevated. This position helped as she didn't have to hold her body up anymore on her hands and knees. It seemed never ending!

1:00PM Between another whopper of a contraction, the midwife asked if Nikki wanted her to break her bag of water. The midwife warned if she did this it would speed things up drastically and the pain would get even more intense. Without hesitation, she said loudly "Let's do this!" My mother-in-law and I couldn't help but laugh a bit because she was so confident in her answer. She was determined to have this baby now!

1:05PM Just after they broke her water, my Mom came in the room in between contractions. I briefly hugged and kissed her when another one started. Now they encouraged Nikki to push. She was completely exhausted so the only position left now was on her back. Now her mom and mine stood back and watched. The nurse took one leg and I took the other. We held them as to have counter pressure for her to push against. Nikki was pushing so hard that the midwife told her to stop, she needed to take more breaths between pushes.

1:10PM Things were happening so fast now thinking back it was like a blur of motion. The bag of water was leaking out and during one of the pushes the midwife saw the crowing of the head. Meconium," the midwife said and suggested that the nurse call the nic unit to stand by to suction the baby off after birth due to thick meconium (the baby's first stool) in the amniotic fluid. Just then I looked down and saw it too. Anxiety flushed over me in a wave. I asked the nurse is the baby okay? She said yes as the baby was still being monitored and the vital signs looked good. Still, I couldn't imagine how the baby could breathe with how think the Meconium looked!

1:20PM The pushing was extremely intense now. The pain was off the charts, we were all encouraging her to push as much as she could. The baby's head was coming out a couple of centimeters. Whew, another contraction done. I noticed that the baby's head would sink back in a couple centimeters between contractions. Almost like 2 steps forward, 1 step back. I thought, how much longer can we go? Then another contraction was starting. This was the most intense one yet. Nikki seemed to push forever with all she had. I was absolutely in awe as I watched what happened next...

The head came out 3 centimeters, then 4, 5, 6, 7, and then enough for the midwife to grasp the head on both sides. She came out face down or in the anterior position which we learned in our class is the preferred method.

It was jaw dropping amazing! I don't understand why I used to and many men still say they wouldn't want to watch it. It was truly the miracle of life right before my eyes. Sure, she was messy and bloody and covered with meconium, but you overlook the gross stuff. Her little chubby body was pulled out in one fluid motion by the midwife. She flopped onto the bed head first quickly the midwife turned her and made sure she was breathing.

1:26PM A nurse called the time of birth and she was born!!! Then the nurse quickly cut the umbilical cord and whisked the baby over to a nearby auxiliary table where she was promptly suctioned off to get all the meconium off of her and to inspect her. We were all silent. We just walked over to inspect the baby ourselves and she was still purple, and was silent. They gave her a little oxygen but then took it off as she was breathing on her own. They said she luckily hadn't aspirated any meconium. She opened her eyes and was looking around for the first time in a new world!

After making sure she was okay, they brought her back to my wife, her new proud and exhausted mom! We had almost forgot about Nikki for a minute there, but I apologized for being distracted, I just wanted our baby to be okay.

Then Nikki held little Josephine for the first time!

That's right, we decided to name her Josephine, or Josie for a nickname. It's one of those old fashioned sounding names that's coming back into style. She was 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 19.3 inches long!

So now that my beautiful baby is officially out of my baby, blogging about our pregnancy has come to a close. I enjoyed writing about this and I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experience. I will continue to post on this blog about my journey into fatherhood raising Josie and at my New Blog:

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thank you for reading from me (Justin), my wife who is my baby (Nikki), and from my baby now out of my baby, Josie! (right before we left the hospital, pretty in pink in her car seat)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

38 Weeks Pregnant - Locked and Loaded!

My wife is now at 38 weeks pregnant. (Full Term) My baby girl is ready to be born now! She's now 6.8 pounds and is 19-1/2 inches long from her head to heels, as long as a leek! She has a firm grasp now, which we'll soon be able to feel when our baby squeezes our finger for the first time :) :) :) Her organs are now fully developed and ready for life outside the womb.

This week, my wife's chiropractor said she's "Locked and Loaded" in the head down position in the pelvis, ready to be born! The midwife also said she has no dilation yet. However, the mild braxton hicks contractions have been increasing with as many as a couple per hour but are still without any pain and come and go. Some women report having these weeks before birth but we'll monitor it for any changes.

This week we've been wondering when early labor will start. We are lucky to have many helpful resources from the midwife and our lamaze classes. According to Budapest Doula here are some common signs of early labor that we've been looking for:

-Intense Nesting: feverishly organizing baby's clothes by color or type, doing laundry, setting up the baby's room in great detail, and in general having an intense desire to prepare your house for your bundle of joy.
-Diarrhea: while it may be gross to talk about, this can be an important sign of early labor. All the mild contractions can soften the stool. Also, some say eating spicy foods can cause more bowel movements which can in turn initiate more contractions. But we all know about old wives tales.
-Increasing Contractions: this is textbook right, increasing in frequency and intensity. Right now we've only had the mild braxton hicks version to the best of our knowledge, but she has noticed the frequency and intensity increasing slightly in the past couple days.
-Dilated Cervix: this hasn't happened yet. We have another appointment this Thursday though and who knows maybe we'll see some dilation. If not, the midwife said she might starting stripping the membranes to help it along. Stripping the membranes can help labor along because it assists in ripening the cervix and preparing it to dilate.
-Losing the Mucus Plug: aka "Bloody Show" is a jelly like substance that can be clear, pink, grey or another color that can range from very small to the size of a golf ball and is the substance that seals the cervix and prevents harmful bacteria from entering the cervix during the 9 months of pregnancy. My wife has not lost this yet, however some women never notice it, some lose it multiple times, it really depends.
-Breaking the Water: ah, yes, the common sign of pregnancy we all recognize from the movies. However, real life is usually much less dramatic. It might start leaking, might gush out, however most women don't actually have it break until active labor. Again, no waters have broke yet. One thing I didn't know with this is once you spring a leak of amniotic fluid, you should not take baths or have sex, because you could introduce harmful bacteria to the open uterus!

We've had some braxton hicks contractions, but mostly we've just been nesting a lot! We even finished the nursery, here's a 360 degree view of our purple and white baby's room. I think it's a beautiful room for our beautiful girl:

Baby Nursery Finished - 360 degree view

So, we're playing the waiting game now. In the meantime I have been stressing a lot about the pending birth. I too am nesting in a way and am afraid we don't have everything ready. It helps to talk about it though.

I mentioned to my brother the other day that you'll never be ready for all of this. No matter how much you want to have children, no matter how many books you ready or websites you research, nothing will fully prepare you for everything you will go through. Your life will go though a major change, but it's a good change and it's one that will help you grow. Becoming a father doesn't happen overnight and it's a process.

Sympathy Weight Update: lost a couple, at 204 lbs, my sympathy weight gained stands at 19 lbs so far. I just took a 10 mile bike ride yesterday so that might help, I'm so sore though, ah!

Well that's all for now, thank you for reading my blog! It means so much to me that people see my experience and hopefully get something out of it. Next week my baby will weigh as much as a Baby Watermelon, believe it or not!

See How My Baby's Growing at 38 Weeks

See What's Happening Inside the Fetus this Week

See how big my baby is getting week by week, now she is as long as a Leekd! Ouch!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

36 Weeks Pregnant - The Final, Final Stretch!

My wife is now at 36 weeks pregnant. My baby girl is now 6 pounds and is 18-1/2 inches long from her head to heels, weighs as much as a Crenshaw Melon! She's now losing her covering of thin peach fuzz hair and the waxy material that covered her skin called the vernix caseosa. Ever gotten out of a hot bath after sitting for awhile and got wrinkly skin? Well, this covering helps the baby stay wrinkle free in the amniotic fluid for 9 months.

This week, my wife's prenatal exams have increased in frequency to weekly. Our midwife started checking the cervix and there is no dilation yet. She'll check every week and it can help them gauge how far off the start of labor is.

This week my wife and I have finally felt like we can see the light at the end of the long and arduous tunnel of pregnancy. I think it's a relief mentally for her to be at this point now, but there's still the anxiety of the actual pending birth which although we've prepared for, we are still uncertain and nervous.

The biggest thing weighing on our mind, which is probably the same for most people, is the pain at birth. We are hoping to have a water birth, however there are many factors that can prevent this. (ie. too much blood loss, unsafe increase in fetal heart rate, no pain meds allowed in the water, and being able to physically get in and out of the water without assistance)

We are learning to take comfort in the little things we can control: our diets (we're both trying to eat more fruits and veggies), our mental health (taking time to relax and de-stress), feeling and hearing the baby's heartrate (my mom is a nurse and gave us one of her stethoscopes), and just knowing that the end is near.

I'm not ashamed to admit, as a new dad to be I'm stressed about it and kind of scared terrified at times. I mean, I think no matter how much you prepare, the thought of having a little life before you that you're absolutely 100% responsible for their well-being 24/7/365 is enough to put stone cold fear into any man before he learns how to do it. I've wondered if I was ready, and even had days where I questioned myself, but I know I have what it takes. I need to remember to breathe, and know that I was born to do this, I am equipped with all the necessary skills, and wherever I lack knowledge I will quickly learn and re-learn as I go.

Sympathy Weight Update: UNCHANGED, at 206 lbs, my sympathy weight gained stands at 21 lbs so far.

Well that's all for now, next week my baby will be as long as a swiss chard... what the heck is a swiss chard - see it here???

See How My Baby's Growing at 36 Weeks

See What's Happening Inside the Fetus this Week

See how big my baby is getting week by week, now she weighs as much as a Crenshaw Melon! Ouch!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

35 Weeks Pregnant - Finalized our Birth Plan!

My wife is now at 35 weeks pregnant. My baby girl is now 5-1/4 pounds and over 18 inches long from her head to heels, weighs as much as a Honeydew Melon! There's not much room to maneuver now that she's running out of room in the uterus.

According to Babycenter guest blogger Katie Marsh Lord, 35 weeks pregnant marks the start of the "Pathetic" stage of pregnancy. This blogger also refers to it as the very uncomfortable, very pregnant, and kind of over it stage. (My wife says that is SO true!)

The pathetic stage was a term coined by this blogger's husband as she says one of the most bone-headed things he said during her pregnancy. I can sympathize because I've had my share of bone-headed moments as a new dad.

As we're nearing the end, we are preparing. My wife is cutting back her hours at work to 6.5 hours a day instead of 8. She has become much more exhausted and cannot work full time anymore. We've also heard it's good to start making double portions of dinners and freezing them for when we have our little one home from the hospital and we are shorter on time. We also need to think of what to start packing for a hospital bag. According to Babycenter, here are some good things to pack:

Hospital Bag Packing List

•drivers license
•birth plan
•anything else helpful

Speaking of a Birth Plan, this week is a good time to finalize one if you haven't already. My wife Nikki just finished ours, and here it is:

Our Birth Plan

Plan A: Water Birth

Plan B: Deliver using a variety of pushing positions- avoiding laying on back during pushing.

Care Preferences: Natural comfort measures (water therapy, massage, moving around), Minimal interventions, IV pain medication as a last resort, NO Epidural

After Delivery:
•Baby placed skin-to-skin immediately (goo and all).
•Cord Blood Banked immediately
•Avoid any testing or treatments such as antibiotic eye cream application, blood testing, and first bath until after first feeding.
•Skin-to-Skin contact as much as possible.

Sympathy Weight Update: Gained 2, now at 206 lbs, my sympathy weight gained stands at 21 lbs so far. (This may or may not have had something to do with increased fast food intake) :)

Well that's all for now, next week my baby will weigh as much as a crenshaw melon... what the heck is a crenshaw melon - see it here???

See How My Baby's Growing at 35 Weeks

See What's Happening Inside the Fetus this Week

See how big my baby is getting week by week, now she weighs as much as a Honeydew Melon! Ouch!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

34 Weeks Pregnant - Crib Assembly, Finishing Nursery

My wife is now at 34 weeks pregnant. My baby girl is now 4-3/4 pounds and 18 inches long from her head to heels, weighs as much as a Cantaloupe! There's not a lot going on in there besides the baby getting fatter. Her fat layers which help regulate her body temperature after being born are filling out giving her that rounder, plumper look that we all love babies to have :) Also this week her central nervous system and lungs are becoming more sophisticated every day preparing for life outside the womb. Our baby is now completely viable, meaning, if my wife Nikki went into labor early our baby should be just fine with a possible stay in the neonatal unit.

So this is now crunch time! This is the last several weeks until the baby comes. My wife and I are scrambling to finish last minute tasks that we won't have time for soon like finishing the nursery. I just finished putting together the crib my mom purchased for us. I made a short time lapse of me putting it together:

Crib Assembly Time Lapse

I also need to finish the rest of the nursery by touching up paint, setting up the furniture, and purchasing an air filter so our beautiful baby's lungs stay healthy. Of course, she will be sleeping in her bassinet in our room at first.

My wife Nikki is starting to reach the point where she just wants the baby out. The fatigue is wearing on her and it's hard for her to get quality sleep with the tossing and turning as well as more frequent trips to the bathroom.

I wish I could take some of the burden off her shoulders. If I could I would carry the baby, I would love to experience pregnancy first hand if that was possible. However, I probably would not handle it nearly as well as her, and would probably be complaining much, much more. As strong as us guys can be, I don't think we could handle the pain of pregnancy well.

What do you think about that? Take my survey to the Right of the page >>>>>>
Chime in on your opinion about men carrying a baby if that was possible, and thanks!

Sympathy Weight Update:Unchanged at 204 lbs, my sympathy weight gained stands at 19 lbs so far.

Well that's all for now, next week my baby will weigh as a cantaloupe... GOOD GOD, believe it or not! I feel so bad for my poor wife. I love her so much!

See How My Baby's Growing at 34 Weeks

See What's Happening Inside the Fetus this Week

See how big my baby is getting week by week, now she weighs as much as a Cantaloupe! Ouch!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

To bank cord blood or not to bank cord blood... that is the question!

That is what my wife and I are trying to decide. Actually, we've mostly made up our mind, mostly because my mother-in-law is a big supporter of it and helped my sister-in-law finance it and is going to help us too. In an effort to be unbiased and offer a service for the readers of baby in my baby, for this post I will pretend we don't have the influence of financial assistance. As with all of my posts I'll let you make up your own mind. First, let's talk about why people bank cord blood.

Cord blood is rich in young stem cells that is obtained by capturing the blood in the umbilical cord when it is clamped and cut at birth. Cord blood stem cells are being currently used to effectively treat some forms of cancer, blood and immune genetic diseases, and some blood disorders. While it has become much more common, critics of cord blood collection still argue that it may be more valuable for the baby to get as much of the cord blood as possible at birth instead of saving it. On the other hand, supporters claim that some of these valuable cells will be wasted without the banking.

When banking cord blood, you'll typically receive a cord blood collection kit with everything the hospital needs to collect it, and then it's your responsibility to ship it via overnight courier to the cryogenic facility to be put in frozen storage. The company we went with is CBR, and here's a video showing the cord blood kit contents we received so you know what to expect:

CBR Cord Blood Kit Contents

The bottom line is, the jury in the medical community is still out and it should be a personal decision for new parents. Private cord blood banking is a relatively new practice that has to be a personal decision for parents. Costs can range from $800-$2,000 or more for the initial cord blood banking, and then several hundreds of dollars per year to store in a cryogenic facility.

Cord blood banking is a significant ongoing expense which is sold by private banks as a life insurance policy that is a smart decision. Many times they say that if siblings or other family members are a match, they also could potentially use the blood if they develop a disorder that could be treated with the blood.

Another argument in support of storing cord blood is that science will most surely continue advancing and some of the uses for this blood may not be in practice today yet. This is another idea that is communicated by companies trying to convince you to save this precious blood.

In the end, as with most decisions as new parents, you have to make the call. My wife are going with CBR (Cord Blood Registry), and we just received our kit which we need to bring to the hospital, but I still have my reservations. We most surely would not have done it if we needed to come up with the entire cost ourselves. However, with all that considered we do think it's a wise choice for the scientific future potential uses for the blood as a good investment. Perhaps if either of us or a sibling is a match, if any of us gets cancer, (which runs in our family) then perhaps we could benefit.

Worst case scenario would be if this money and the blood were never used and wasted, however, there are worse things to spend your money on. Also, if we get older and think it will not be used we could donate it or turn it over to our children and it could potentially be past on to the next generation as long as the blood could still be viable.

Hope this blog helps and whether you bank cord blood or not, thanks for reading!