Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lila's Birthday Story: A Mother's Day Post

I've been thinking I need to write this out before it becomes too fuzzy to remember. Some of you may have already indulged me in the detailed re-telling of Lila's birthday story, aka, the Craziest and Best Day of My Life, but some of you haven't. As this blog is turning into a sort of journal of Lila's life, I thought I best create a post about her Exodus/Entrance! And what better day to post it than my first Mother's Day??

Here goes:
Tuesday December 15th, after having contractions off and on for about a week I was losing my optimism that they were actually doing anything. However, that day my contractions were pretty consistent - all day long, though irregular in duration and interval. I spent the day wrapping Christmas presents (my rendition of nesting, I guess!) and by that evening I was feeling especially pregnant and miserable. I still had a few gifts to buy so we decided to go to Chipotle for dinner before hitting Borders and Target. The evening was kind of a blur. I remember going through the order line at Chipotle and being vaguely aware that the girl serving our food was a bit agitated by our inept ordering. My diabetic husband was having a low blood sugar incident and kept telling her he wanted his fajita on the side and I had to stop in between each ordering station to lean against the counter and breathe through a contraction. I remember, between moans, telling the girl, "He means tortilla." I still wasn't sure if I was in true labor, although in hindsight it was definitely the beginnings of it.

After dinner, we went over to Borders and then to Target where I sat in the food court while Eric bought the things on our list. I called Genny, our dear friend and awesome doula and told her I thought I was in labor. After listening to my description of my contractions, she suggested I go home and take a Tylenol PM, explaining that the best case scenario was I would have my baby within 24 hours, but worst case was that this was just early, early, early labor. She didn't want me up all night timing contractions only to have true labor kick in early in the morning at which point we'd be exhausted. I dawdled a little bit, still hoping that the contractions would really kick in. I ate a piece of pizza, took a shower, packed the last-minute items in my hospital bag and finally flopped into bed after reading through a few Psalms to calm my anxieties.

I woke up about every hour with contractions, but I told myself to just breathe through them and that if I found that I couldn't just breathe through them, I would start timing them. Around 5:30am I involuntarily jumped (in all my pregnant, hippopotamus-like glory) to my hands and knees. The words of our birth class instructor came to me vividly, "You'll have this moment when you think, 'Oh THESE are contractions! I thought those were contractions, but THESE are contractions.'" I took out my trusty iPhone and pulled up the iContraction app. What a wonderful invention (thanks for the tip, David and Holly)! 2 hours later I decided it was time to wake the Husband. I called him (yes, on the phone because he had been banished to the guest bedroom after a certain 3:00am sob-fest, the genesis of which was my inability to sleep with the extra human in my body and my husband's snores). I'm not sure, but I think my words were something to effect of, "You better get in here, NOW."

We called Genny and the second she walked in the door a general peace fell over the house. Someone smarter and saner and more experienced than we was here to tell us what to do. I labored at home for a few more hours before Genny said those magic words, "I think we should go to the hospital." To which I responded, "So this is real labor?" I had read all this stuff telling me not to get too worked up because adrenaline can stall out labor, so I wouldn't let myself believe that I was in real labor. Secretly, however I was thinking, "If this isn't real labor, I don't think I can do real labor!" Thank God, it was real labor! So 30 minutes (and 20 contractions later), we loaded up into the car. And then Eric couldn't find his wallet. I started reciting Psalm 23:

"I can't find my wallet!"
The Lord is my shepherd.
"I'm sorry, Honey, I thought it was in my bag!"
I shall not want.
Scramble, scramble, bang, bang, run, run.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.
"I'm sorry, Kels, I don't know where it is!"
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...
"Here it is!" (in the bag after all)

Okay, off to the hospital. Good thing we live three minutes away!

Now, I had been in the waiting room of the hospital many times before this day and never had a woman in labor come in while I was there. So it never occurred to me that I might have an audience to my performance of moans and groans and my costume of hair that was slept on wet and giant alien belly. But I did. And I remember caring for about 2.5 seconds and then another contraction hit and I no longer cared who they were or what they witnessed. After what seemed like 4 hours, they finally wheeled me in through those glorious double doors and into my delivery room (not the wonderfully giant natural labor suites with the spa tub, nope - those were all full. Turns out no one wants to have their baby on Christmas so lots of moms induce the week before). It was close to 10:00am by then and they checked me and I was dilated to a 4.

We were introduced to our labor and delivery nurse, and I went into the bathroom to change into my laboring clothes. I called from the bathroom to the nurse that I had been praying for her. "Why? Am I going to need it?" she asked with a bit of trepidation. "No, I've just been praying for whoever would be my nurse and you're it!" I was hoping she'd take comfort in that, but I'm not sure it had the intended effect.

The next two hours passed rather uneventfully. You know, other than my uterus contracting every other minute for 30 seconds out of a minute. But I was starting to get the routine down. Whenever a contraction hit - with the coaching of my team*- I would get into whatever position felt best and start with my low moans and groans, focusing on relaxing my face and thinking calm thoughts.

However, around 11:30, everything changed. I suddenly felt this new sensation. I remember saying, with probably not enough modesty, "I think I have to poop!" After some clarifying questions, I was informed that this was the urge to push and they decided to call the doctor. So I'm thinking, "Man! Easiest labor ever! I've only been at this hard stuff for 6 hours and it's already time to push!" Not so, friends, not so. I was only at a 7 when the Doc arrived and checked me which meant that if I pushed, I could do some serious damage to my cervix. This ushered in a whole new ball game. Suddenly, all my tools and tricks weren't working. Before I had focused all my mental energy into distracting myself from the pain, relaxing, and breathing. Now, I had something more important to focus on - keeping that baby inside me!

For two agonizing hours, I endured contraction after contraction, back-to-back with panicked breaths and cries of, "I have to push! I have to push!" My Team would yell back, "No you don't! You can do this, Kelsey!" It seemed that every time I got through a contraction, another one was on top of me before I could catch my breath. It was miserable. I remember focusing in on my little sister's bright blue eyes and repeating the phrase, "Blue eyes. Blue eyes. Blue eyes. Blue eyes." Over and over to myself. And then the next contraction tuning in to my mom's shirt (which had a bird on it with a santa hat that had some sort of glitter on the brim - sounds weirder than it was, it was actually pretty cute) and thinking, "Sparkly hat. Sparkly hat. Sparkly hat. Sparkly hat." I don't know. It helped.

I would beg the doctor to check me after every contraction. "Please check me! I'm sure that one did something! I know it did! I can tell I dilated that time!" Unfazed, she would calmly explain that checking me after every contraction would only discourage me because surely I hadn't progressed enough in 30 seconds to start pushing. Bah, what did she know. I resorted to glaring at her across the room as I ticked down the minutes until she would check me again.

Finally, after 2 anguished hours, she announced that I was at a 9-ish and that we could try to push and see if the baby could slide under the tip of my cervix. I remember feeling both relieved and panicked because this was the first thing I felt like I had any control over. I had to do this pushing thing right and I wasn't sure if I had the guts. I mean, it sounded so violent!

Ahh, but it was WONDERFUL. Pushing took away the pain of contractions! It felt like progress! It felt like I was in control! Until she told me it wasn't working and I'd just have to wait until that 9ish eked its way to a nice round 10. Noooooooooooooooooo! So I contracted and contracted some more and eventually, we gave it another go and it worked! I could officially start pushing!

Again, my ignorance got the best of me and I thought, "Man, she's been ready to come out for 2 hours, three good shoves and she's gonna come flying out!" Did I mention this is my first baby? 30 minutes of pushing. No baby. 1 hour of pushing. No baby. 1.5 hours of pushing. The heads coming, but still no baby. The last 5 or so contractions, I remember looking in the mirror and being sure this was the last push. And then when the contraction would end and I would have to stop pushing I would think, "She didn't come out? How could she not come out!?"

By this point, I was so exhausted that I was actually falling asleep in the 30 seconds in between contractions. And then finally, after 2 hours of pushing, Lila Josephine Kautzi snuck her way out into this beautiful, dusty world. All purple and gooey and with the cord wrapped around her neck like a scarf, trying to pull her body back into the womb (thus the hours of pushing). The doctor had to pull out an extra length of cord to deliver her body after her head was out.

Eric cut the cord and they wrapped her in blue towels and handed her to me. I was a weepy, exhausted, bloody mess but none of that mattered. "Hi Baby Girl," I said. "Hi, Lila." And she screamed and screamed and it was the loveliest sound I had ever heard. Her beautifully clear and loud lungs calling out for the comfort and safety of the womb where her Creator had so carefully knit her together for the last 9 months. And now her painful separation from the Father would be our joy of getting to know her until someday we are all reunited with the One who loves us and forms us and calls us and delivers us - both from the womb and from our sin. Lila, the journey is worth it. He who has called you is good. And I, your Mommy, will try to be good as well. But remember, I'm a novice.

*I would be remiss if I didn't introduce my teammates:

The Husband: Silent supporter and encourager. Ever-patient, ever-considerate, ever-loyal, ever-forgiving (I might have responded to his kind words of, "I'm so proud of you" with "Your breath smells like coffee")

The Doula: Awesome friend Genny who knows the right things to say at the right times. Who called it an honor to risk missing Christmas with her kiddos or her son's first birthday to be there on my daughter's birthday.

The Little Sister: Nurse Jessica. Calm and excited all at once. I tuned into her blue eyes during the hardest part of my labor and she calmly smiled back and whispered encouraging words to me. Then, when holding Lila for the first time said, "I feel like this is my baby."

The Mama: Sometimes you just want your mama's hand on your head when you are sick. And sometimes you push her face away when she's trying to breathe with you because she is actually breathing on you. Nanny Nancy had the kindness and sense of humor to not only think it was funny that I did that, but actually took notes of those things so that I could enjoy another perspective of Lila's birthday after the fact.

The Daddy: My Daddy, that is. He stood behind a curtain and prayed, hands clasped the entire time I was pushing. At one point, I noticed his shoes under the curtain and asked who was there. When they said it was Daddy and he was praying, I felt a rush of peace and confidence.

The Nurse: Ashley. Unwitting victim to my no-drugs, no-nothin' rampage. Capable, calm and compassionate. Everything you want in a labor and delivery nurse.

The Doc: The stoic, no-nonsense Dr. S. I have a love-hate relationship with her natural-way affinities. She wouldn't let me do anything I wanted to do during pregnancy (like gain 100 lbs eating chocolate croissants every day or take Tylenol Cold when I had a nasty case of the blek. The nerve). I apologized to her after my delivery for all the glares and whining I did during the two hours of not-pushing.

The Baby: The superstar of the whole day. The sad thing these days is a labor has to go pretty textbook for them to let you do it naturally. Lila cooperated from the beginning. She was in the right position, came just on time, didn't give us any heart-rate scares, and just did what she was supposed to do: get born.

The Pray-ers: You. All yous. My faithful friends and family who remembered us in your prayers before, during and after Lila's arrival. The prayers of the righteous have great power and wonderful results! Amen!

So that's it. Lila's birthday story. Written down in black and white. Have you ever read anything more beautiful? Happy Mother's Day, all you mamas out there!

Lila on her birthday - 12/16/2009

Lila wearing her birthday suit - 5/9/2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

She is 4 months going on 17

When I was little I watched the Sound of Music until I had it memorized. I loved that movie. (Which might explain why I get teary every time I watch this.) I wanted Maria to come live with me and make me clothes out of curtains and dance and sing across the country. I dreamed about sneaking off at night to dance in the rain with my true love and squealing over our first kiss. That is, before he ran away with the Nazis. Stupid boys.

Anyway, I've been humming that song to myself the last few days because Lila's been acting like a teenager lately. Meaning all she does is sleep, eat and yell at her mom. My coping strategy has been to alternate between laughing at her, begging her to stop hollering, and losing my temper saying, "Fine! Don't eat!" and resorting to a bottle instead of nursing. I'm a good mom.

Also, I've been making really healthy decisions like staying up until 1:00am reading blogs. So last night at 1:28am I was counting down the hours until the rooster crows. Or until my 4-month-old adolescent wakes up. The good news is it's the weekend so the Husband can help with baby duty and I can go back to bed after the AM feeding. I love Saturdays.

Unfortunately things do not always go as planned. Turns out the Husband also loves Saturday and its elusive promise of extra hours of sleep. So after hours of silently passing the baby back and forth all day and taking turns crawling back into bed, we finally both admitted to the other that we each thought the other had the better end of the stick. He's jealous of the fact that I get to stay home every day and play with Baby Girl. I'm jealous of the fact that he gets to have conversations that are less about poopy diapers and more about...well anything else.

I shudder to think what emotional damage we would have done to our daughter if she had the mental capacity to understand that we were arguing over who had to stay awake to take care of her. The guilt almost makes me want to go and wake her up and snuggle her in remorse. Not really, though. I'm not that crazy. Let sleeping babes lie, for goodness sake!

I've gotta admit though, these last few days have been rough. I keep telling myself that the kid is just transitioning out of the newborn phase and into a more set schedule. That it's the "ing" part of that which makes it rough and once we can replace that "ing" with an "ed" things will be much better. But what it really feels like is someone took my sweet, cooing angel and replaced her with a wiggly, opinionated, over-tired, restless, hollering demon. Who eats a lot.

In desperation, I asked around and was advised to read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Which I did. In one day. And the next day, I awoke with foolish optimism, armed with the knowledge of my new Sleep Bible. I vowed to take notice of the early cues of sleepiness, to make sure Baby Girl could take all of her naps in her own bed, to not allow her to get overtired. My type-A brain was a-spinning with graphs and charts and timetables and I thought, "Now I've got a hang of this."

Apparently Baby Girl doesn't read (I think I learned that lesson during my pregnancy). This was her response to my grand plan (sorry it's a bit dark, it was nap time after all):
I especially like her response right before the video cuts off when I ask her if it's nap time: "Eh-eh." Getting her to sleep wasn't the only problem. Despite canceling all grown-up interactions so I could respect the nap times, despite putting her to bed before she got fussy, despite following every rule in the whole stinkin' book, the child slept all of 39 minutes for every nap. Which is 21-119 minutes too short. Which meant that her eating schedule was off, too. Which meant that my body and her tummy were not coordinated appropriately. Which meant that every feeding was a frustrating battle. Baaaaahhhh.

Sometimes I wish the answer to all of my parenting problems was piling the whole family into bed and singing about our favorite things. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, sleeping and sleeping and sleeping and mittens. Please, all you experienced mamas out there, tell me there's hope! Tell me that I won't spend the rest of my life watching the clock and doing math that never quite adds up. Tell me that one day I'll wake up before my child (and not because an alarm went off). Tell me that one day I'll feel like I have more purpose in my life than being a walking kitchen. Tell me about the day that my body becomes mine again - even if it's 40 years from now. Tell me that day exists!

Well, I know one thing for sure: that day is not this day. This day Baby Girl decided not to wake up from her last nap and that 6:00pm was her new bedtime. Which might mean that 4:00am is her new wake-up time. Which, as you can imagine, is not a good thing in this house. Oh, Husssbaannnd.