Sunday, December 25, 2011

One Year Ago Yesterday - Part 2 - Cora's Birth Story

As I suddenly woke up I looked at my phone on the nightstand and it was 1:09am. I ran to the bathroom a few steps from my side of the bed and noticed a small amount of leaking fluid that appeared a little blood tinged. The obstetrician had told me that if my water broke I needed to go to the hospital immediately but if I passed my mucus plug, I needn't even call because it could still be days or weeks before I delivered. The amount of fluid was so small that I figured it must be the mucus plug. 

I crawled back into bed. All of a sudden I was leaking a little again and eventually it was just a clear color. I googled what it is supposed to look like when your water breaks, and everything seemed consistent but the amount was so small that I was confused. After waking Sean and asking him if he thought I should call the OB, I finally decided to wake up whoever was on call. It was my favorite doctor in the group, so I felt extra bad about waking her up. She said it did not sound like my water had broken because the amount of fluid was not enough, but the only way to know for sure would be to go into the hospital and have the residents on the L & D unit perform some tests. She asked if I was having contractions and I said no (I had never even had any Braxton Hicks contractions, so I wasn't even sure if I would know right away what a contraction was). She said it was up to me to decide what to do.

Ugh... not helpful information. Sean was scheduled to work at 2pm that day, so I felt really bad about dragging him all the way to the hospital (which was about 30-40 min away) for a false alarm. I decided to go back to bed. At 1:38am I had what seemed to be a contraction (I was very excited that I had figured this out). I still didn't really want to go in, so I decided to try to sleep a little and time the contractions with a trusty app I had downloaded on my iPhone. Amazingly I started having pretty regular contractions about 5-8 min apart. They didn't hurt at all, so I was able to doze a little for a couple hours. 

Around 3am I woke Sean again, and we decided that we had better go in and just be seen since I was having contractions now. We figured if we went in right away, we could get out in time for Sean to come home and sleep a little before his shift in the ER at 2. Neither of us thought there was any way that this was the real thing.

We had to stop and pack a bag for the hospital. We still had 2 1/2 weeks before my due date, and I had been so tired after work that we didn't have anything ready. I had not washed any baby clothes, packed a hospital bag or purchased any groceries or any of those things you are supposed to have ready before a baby comes. Nesting? Yeah, I don't know what that is.

Since it was Christmas Eve, EVERYONE we knew in Chicago was out of town, including the friends who were going to watch our dog Brigita when I actually went into labor. We tried to contact one friend who I thought maybe was still around, but her phone just went directly to voicemail. 

We thought about trying to board Brigita at a kennel she had been to before, but it was really far in the opposite direction of the hospital and that plan seemed really ridiculous considering this was going to be a false alarm. We finally decided to drop her off at the house of the same friends who were originally going to watch her even though they weren't home. They had a key box on their door that we had used previously, and I still had the combination in my phone messages. We know them to be kind, generous and easy-going people, so we decided to not call them at 4am to ask permission. 

After dropping of Brigita in our friends' kitchen, we arrived at the hospital (about a 10 min drive from their house) around 4:30am. We strolled up to the L & D unit. Everything was very quiet (no one gets induced on Christmas Eve, so there were very few patients). 

We told the nurses our story. They asked if I was still leaking fluid and I said no, so they took us into a room designed for quick checks on patients whom they suspect will not need to be admitted. As soon as we arrived in the room, I felt a slight warmth on my pants. I told the nurse I guessed I was still leaking after all. At this comment, she looked at us and hesitated, then said that maybe we should just get set up in an admitting room instead. 

I looked at Sean with a disbelieving look. This is not for real. I've never had any indication that anything is actually imminent. I'm sure we won't end up staying.

I got dressed in a hospital gown, gave a urine sample, and sat in the hospital bed waiting to see what would happen. They explained to me that they needed to verify that my water had indeed broken. The nurse took a swab test, which was negative of course, since they had just had me wipe away any evidence for the urine sample. 

The next step was to get the in-house OB to come and do an exam to verify. I did not understand what this would entail. I had never even been "checked" at my OB/GYN office yet to see how far along I was. At my last clinic visit they said they would "check" me the next time at 38 weeks. I seriously thought that "checking" was like getting a yearly pelvic exam. Little did I know what I was in for when that doctor verified that my water had broken.

I had been contemplating trying to not get an epidural and seeing how everything went. Considering that I was currently having the easiest contractions ever and had been for the past few hours, I was hopeful that I would be able to make it for a little while. 

A very nice OB doctor came in, introduced himself, and in the next breath apologized to me for what he was about to do considering that we had just met. I sort of laughed anxiously, wondering what was coming. All I can say is it was extremely painful, I cried, and I decided that I would get an epidural after all. Apparently my water had broken, but Cora's head was so engaged that the fluid was just leaking around it. Yowza. No wonder I was hurting so much at work.

They put me on pitocin to speed the contractions up. When your water breaks, they want to get the baby out within 24 hours or there is an increased risk of infection. Pitocin is not nice. Normal contractions lead you up to the worse ones, whereas pitocin just starts bad ones in right away before you even get a chance to get used to them and build your pain tolerance. I got the epidural pretty quickly after I had decided on one. I figured why be in more pain than necessary if I already knew I was going to do it. I didn't really care about the experience of feeling natural labor.

In the meantime we called our families and let them know that apparently we were having a baby today (some small part of me thought that maybe we would still get sent home). I wanted my mom to be with me, so she got herself ready and started driving all the way to Chicago from northern MN on Christmas Eve.

I was dilated to a 2 on arrival and progressed to a 4 by about 10am. We asked our nurse for a ballpark time when she thought I would start pushing and she said that according to the textbooks, being a 4 at 10am would put me in the dinnertime delivery window. 

Armed with this knowledge, Sean and I decided that it would be a good time for him to drive over and let Brigita outside. I rested and watched some TV. He got back and brought some lunch up to our room (I was not allowed to eat at this point). 

The very nice OB resident told me that she would be back when it was time for me to start pushing and to let them know if I was starting to have any pelvic pressure (whatever that meant - everyone throws these terms around and it only all makes sense after you have done it and are looking back). 

I was feeling great with the epidural but was also worried that I wouldn't know when to push naturally at all when the time came. That was my biggest fear with getting one in the first place and why I had not wanted to. My nurse informed me that they would turn the medication down to a certain point so I would know what to do. 

At 11:45am I started feeling a pressure (that really is the perfect word) that was different than the faint contraction sensation I noticed. I notified the nurse and the resident came back to perform an exam to check my status. 

Then I heard the news that I had gone from a 4 to a 10 in less than 2 hours, and it was time to start pushing. I felt like I didn't even have time to really get good and scared like I wanted to before everyone was setting my room up for delivery (I was in one of those rooms where you do it all in the one place).

I started pushing around noon and Cora was born at 1:02pm. I managed to be calm and follow directions the whole time even though the "pressure" really hurt. I was happy that I could feel it though, so I knew what to do and they didn't have to tell me. By the way, those movies where everyone is like "PUSH!!!" to the woman with the nice makeup are really stupid. Your body tells you what you need to do. There is no other option than to push.

I never yelled at Sean like in the movies either and only got frustrated with the staff once in the very end when everyone was talking over me about whether to push or not push when Cora was almost born. Sean said I did great, and he was the best person I could have ever wanted there with me. He always seemed to redirect me when I felt like I kind of wanted to panic. He was so calm. 

I remember holding my little love for the first time. I wish I could put that into words. They didn't give her to me right away like you hear about or see in the movies (you know, delivery and then place baby on mom's chest). I wish they had. That's the only thing I really would have changed about the whole experience. She got weighed and got goo put in her eyes and all that stuff before they gave her to me. 

Sean cut the cord and followed her around to get pictures, but he made sure that I was the first of us to hold her. I cried while they were taking care of her (while I was getting stitched up) and when I first held her. There is just so much emotion that goes with delivery. It's hard to control when to let it all out. Then we just marveled at this tiny little person.

I felt calmly on an adrenaline high for the rest of the day. Until my mom arrived. She got to the hospital around 9:30pm after getting in her car at 8 that morning. She walked in the room and came towards me and said, "oh, my brave girl." Then I broke down. It makes me cry even now to think of that memory. I have it seared in my mind. There's something about becoming a mother and then being with your own that is indescribably beautiful. 

It snowed softly but heavily overnight, and we opened the curtains in the morning to a beautiful white Christmas.

Early Christmas in Minnesota

Earlier this month Sean, Cora, Brigita and I flew back to MN for 8 days to visit with our families and celebrate Christmas with them. I was planning on a horrible time traveling with an 11-month-old and a dog in heat, but both our flights there and back were as perfect as they could be. 

Erin and Chris picked us up from the airport late on Friday evening of the 9th and we spent two nights at their lovely new house in Minneapolis. I was able to see my friend Allison for a hot second when she came over during some of our free time in the afternoon of the day after we arrived. Although as my mother says, a little time is better than no time.

Sunday afternoon we celebrated Christmas with Sean's family. A wonderful time was had of fellowship and gift-giving. Cora received some great toys that kept her well entertained while we were away from her big stash at home. 

Varsana and Malia

Cora with Daddy and Auntie Erin

Erin and Chris

the cousins

Malia learning to take pictures with Dad

Granda and Cora

After spending a couple days with Sean's parents, we drove up north to visit with my family. We picked up my brother on the way and also stopped halfway and met Sean's Grandpa Walter and his wife Carol, along with Aunt Mickey, for lunch at a cute little 50's diner. Cora was a big hit and even allowed herself to be held for a little while. 

Poor Nany... we wanted a pic with Cora just before we left but she was not in a very good mood :)

Cora, Daddy and Great Grandpa Walter

Daddy and Cora, Great Grandpa Walter, Great Grandma Carol, Great Aunt Mickey, and Uncle Korry

We spent the next few days in northern MN with my family. We had a little birthday party for Cora where she got to see extended family and Great Grandpa Jim. She absolutely loved her four year old cousin Abbi and wanted to be near her the whole time she was there. 

Cora met all of Gramma's critters. She loved the dogs! She met chickens, cats, fish and, of course, the ponies. We were able to see some snow falling on one of the days we were there but it did not hinder our travel at all!

meeting the chickens

Cora loves Zeke

opening presents with Grandad

It's a rooster!!

meeting the outside kitties with Gramma

Gypsy the pony

Cora and Great Grandpa Jim

I love you, Abbi! Will you come home with me?

Cora and Great Aunt Dawn

Abbi frosting Cora's carrot cake birthday cupcakes

Gypsy the Christmas Pony

Georgia the Birthday Pony

One Year!! pumpkin pie

Birthday/Christmas dress

What a wonderful time we had!

Friday, December 23, 2011

One Year Ago Today - Part 1

Last year on this day, I had dragged my massively pregnant self to work for one last shift before having a few days off over Christmas. I had planned to try to work almost up to my due date of January 11th at the beginning of the pregnancy, but at this point I had convinced Sean to let me quit a little earlier. I was just so sore and my job involved a lot of walking around. My feet were so swollen that all I wore to work (in addition to business casual dress) were a pair of black slippers that looked relatively like shoes and an over-sized pair of black ugg-type boots. After Christmas break, I was only going to have to work three more shifts and then I was going to sleep as much as you can when you are nine months pregnant. I was very excited.

I had planned that the day was going to be busy and awful, because that was usually how it went as a home care liaison on the day before a holiday break. Lots of last minute referrals for patients who didn't want to stay in the hospital over Christmas but couldn't really go home safely completely on their own. I dragged my roller bag around the hospital and wrapped up all of my work. I parked myself down in the Au Bon Pain at RUMC in Chicago and strained to lean over and get my laptop out of my bag to transmit referrals. I kept waiting for my pager to go off with a bunch of new referrals, but it really didn't as much as I was thinking it would. Perhaps the case managers were feeling sorry for me being huge and pregnant and decided to dump difficult and last minute patients on some other home care agency liaison. Whatever the reason, I was thankful. I was sore and didn't really care about getting any more patients.

I finished around 4 or so and booked it out of there fast. Little did I know that would be the last time I would finish a day at that job.

Sean and I were going to go out to eat with a gift certificate to Ruth's Chris steakhouse that my brother-in-law had given us for Christmas. We got dressed up and headed downtown. I ordered a delicious steak and baked potato, and we sat in a booth in a corner of the restaurant (I can still see it clearly in my head: Sean facing the booth and me facing the dining area), taking our time and enjoying what was probably to be our last night out at a nice restaurant for a while. 

After our long dinner and a couple glasses of wine for Sean, we thought it might be nice to walk around downtown for a little while. Christmas in Chicago is beautiful. But as we waited for the bill to come, I felt less and less like walking around. I was just tired. I didn't want to be such a downer but told Sean that I thought I just wanted to go home. So we drove back home and went to bed around 10:30pm or so that evening. 

I awoke at 1:09am to a strange sensation.... 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Remember the Moments

I had been thinking a lot lately about all the things I wish I had shared on here as Cora is getting older. It seems that the more behind I get the more I just feel like I want to give up because I could never get caught up. I sometimes get very all-or-nothing about things. 

But every day is so precious! I just have to make time and get right back on here even when I couldn't for a while because life just got too busy. I want to look back and read my blog posts and think, "Wow, I remember when she did that. Where does the time go?"

Where does the time go?! 

My Cora is almost one. I feel sad and happily anticipating her next stage all at the same time. A dear friend told me today that she missed reading on here and that did it for me; I have to keep writing. I have to do it as often as I can. These moments are so fleeting, and I am one who has a hard time remembering very specific things in life after it has been too long. And this is my only written record.

I am sitting at my kitchen table with the fire roaring in the fireplace thinking back to a year ago at this time. I didn't know anything. I had barely ever changed a diaper, much less knew what kind of a parent I would be. All I could think about at the time was how uncomfortable I was and this pregnancy thing sure was the pits. 

Who was this little Cora going to be (she finally had a name after much deliberating)? How was I going to know what she needed? What if I dropped her? How bad is the sleep deprivation really going to be? What is she was colicky and cried all the time and I had no idea what to do for her? 

What did I know? Nothing. I couldn't know anything until I had experienced it all for myself. No amount of baby book reading or advice asking was going to help me. In fact most of the stuff I read was not even accurate or helpful. One must really pick and choose what to believe or use as a child rearing tool in books. In fact just chucking them out the window and going with your instincts will get you on the right path nearly every time. No one knows my child like I do.

Who knew that I would go completely against our pediatrician's advice and decide that I did not want to let my child cry herself to sleep at a young age? And even when we went backwards with the sleeping and she never really slept through the night, or even longer than six hours consistently, I still couldn't bring myself to follow the advice of the sleep books I was reading and what our pediatrician and multiple wonderful friends had told me to do. Who knew that now, at 11 months, if I was asked to name two things I love most about parenting that make me feel truly connected to Cora, I would say without hesitation - breastfeeding and co-sleeping? I never would have pegged myself as such a hippie character when it came to parenting. But I am. 

Who knew that things I used to find important in my life would fade away to nothing in those moments as I held my little one? I used to love to watch movies. I rarely watch television anymore. I used to say that I will never, ever own a minivan and no one can make me. I just don't even care anymore. Does it run? Is it convenient for toting children in? OK, I'll take it. I'm sure we will get one eventually. I used to enjoy a glass of wine or two with dinner or more on occasion. Now I am afraid to ever drink too much to the point where I would not be at full brain capacity if anything were to ever happen to Cora, so I just gave it up entirely (and for other, longer reasons). I don't even miss it at all. I used to love going out to eat. Now I like to have all of my paraphernalia for feeding Cora conveniently, so I would just rather stay at home and cook.

I never could have imagined this love that I have. Different than any love that I have ever known. I want the very best for my Cora. And not the best in material things but the best of character. I want her to learn to be kind, generous, patient, sweet, merciful, thoughtful, caring. All of this and more I want for my precious girl. 

She is God's child. Just on loan to me for this tiny amount of time. I want to teach her about Him and how he changed her Momma's life in so many ways. I want her to know Him for herself. 

I want to remember these beautiful moments.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cora's First Time Swimming

Tonight we took Cora for her first swimming "lesson" at the Sports Center. She loved it. What a fun time we all had! The lesson is a half hour long for 6-month to 3-year-olds and the instructor has us sing songs and do little things that teach the kids how to be in the water and just get used to it. All the different age groups have sea animal names. Cora is in the Starfish category. It is adorable. I can't wait to go again.

first time in the water

she was very interested in being buoyant

fun leg splashing

how very interesting this water is!

she became quite attached to the rubber ducky the instructor gave all the little ones to try to "swim" to

learning to kick with Daddy

singing "the wheels on the bus"

Friday, September 30, 2011


So the meetup group? Sure is keepin' me busy!! I know that it only has to be what I put into it, but I am not one to do things halfway (except for most crafts) and am really trying to have a variety of events for people to participate in. Plus it gets Cora and I out of the house and on our adventures. 

I am not complaining. It doesn't feel overwhelming or anything yet. It is just more work than I thought is would be at the beginning. Especially now that I am really getting to know a few of the women. 

We are starting a book study next week. Nancy Leigh DeMoss's Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. And I am leading it. It just sort of happened like that. One girl suggested the book, but she does not want to be the leader. So it falls on me since the site is "mine" and I've done all the organizing. I've never led anything like this before (only participated), but I had a wonderful teacher so am actually pretty excited about it. 

It just feels so strange to be truly living life here. Sometimes I feel like we are on a perpetual vacation by the sea, but here I am getting to know new friends and participating in a community more than ever before.

Monday, September 26, 2011

9 Months

I know it has been a while since I posted. More about that later. For now I just wanted to get some more cutie patootie pictures on here of my 9-month-old. I can't believe it! She's getting so big.

She is completely content to not be crawling yet. She just loves to sit on her little play area (as evidenced below) and doesn't seem to be concerned that she can't go anywhere. She just rolls around if she feels like going somewhere else, but even that is not that often. 

She loves when you make stuffed animals have voices and thinks it's even funnier when they give her kisses. 

She loves to go places. If we sit at home all day long, she will be much fussier than if we get out and go for a walk or to a park or the beach (she loves the beach).

She especially likes the baby swings at the park and will just lounge and stare sleepily around while being lightly swung.

She is such a little person. I treasure every day with her.

bed head

first time with her toes in the sand