Monday, August 7, 2017

Our Son's Birth Story

Thomas Daley Melton was born Thursday morning at 9:06 AM on July 27, 2017! I can't believe I am his mom, that he is our son, that I get the privilege of raising him and knowing him for the rest of my life. I also cannot believe he has been in our life for over a week now. It has gone by in such a blur of baby snuggles and nursing and nursing and nursing and diaper changes. And it has been wonderful. But his birthday already feels so long ago so I am going to try to record the details of his birth story before we get too far out.

I'm glad I got in one more pregnancy update last Wednesday before I went in to labor that day. Wednesday morning I had my 39 week appointment with my midwife. At my 38 week appointment I was already 2 cm dilated and 75% effaced so I was eager to see what progress I had made that week. She checked me and I was 3cm and so she offered to sweep my membranes which was incredibly more uncomfortable that I was expecting but I was very hopeful that it would kick start my labor. After my appointment I felt crampy and had a dull ache in my back. My sister and I made one more grocery run to stock up on food for the weekend in case I went in to labor. For the rest of the afternoon I kept getting more and more uncomfortable. I'd been having braxton hicks for a few weeks but I didn't notice any real uptick in frequency or intensity in them, which I was watching for, just a painful backache that got worse and worse as the day went on.

We sat down for dinner that night and both T.J. and my sister later told me that they noticed a sort of shift in my attitude around that time - that I became snippy and was clearly uncomfortable and not myself. I went to take a hot shower around 8:30 hoping the hot water would give my back some relief. While in the shower I felt a weird pop and (WARNING TMI UP AHEAD) I lost my mucus plug. I also felt a gush of more fluid which I later learned was my water breaking but at the time I wasn't a hundred percent sure since I was in the shower. I hesitantly called for T.J. and told him that maybe, possibly,  I think this might actually be the real thing.  But I still wasn't super confident since I know you can lose your mucus plug a couple days before actual labor.

However, as soon as I got out of the shower the pain in my back ratcheted up to a whole 'nother level. I was on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor trying to find a position that would provide some relief. I was asking T.J. to push ("HARDER!") on my lower back but nothing really helped and there was no break. It didn't feel like what I expected contractions to feel like. First of all they weren't in the front of my body, it was all in my lower back. Secondly there was no real beginning/middle/end. We tried timing them on the app I had downloaded and there just wasn't a distinguishable rise and fall or a wave pattern to the pain.  It was just consistent pain with peaks of worse pain appearing every couple minutes. Everything I'd read about coping with natural labor told me to rest between contractions, to remember that you get a break between contractions, that you can rest between them, catch your breath and gear up for the next one. This was not like that. There was no break and I began to think I might not be able to do this.

And then I threw up. This was around 10:30PM and I knew that was definitely a sign that this was in fact real active labor, back labor, and things were moving fast.

And thus began a new level of intimacy between my husband and I where he would see things he could never unsee and I cared not one bit.

I hollered for my sister to help T.J. "PACK THE CAR!" and begrudginly put on a loose dress (no underwear or bra- screw that) and then hobbled to the car. Sitting in the car was awful and I was perched on the edge of the seat with a death grip on the hand rail. When we pulled into the Army base gate they didn't even bother to check my ID and just waved us on as I moaned in the front seat.

It took approximately 30 minutes for us to walk the 10 feet from the car, into the hospital lobby and up the elevator to Labor and Delivery as I had to stop every few minutes to drop into a squat or get down on my hands and knees (flashing everyone we passed along the way) to breathe through the peaks. When we finally got to L&D they led me to a triage room to get me and baby boy hooked up to the monitors and to check me. I was mildly hopeful that they were going to say I was already fully dilated but I was just at 6cm. While this was definitely considerable progress in a short period of time I immediately started crying and said I wanted an epidural, I was done.

This was not what I had planned or hoped to do. I wanted an unmedicated labor, my reasons being that I hoped to avoid the cascade of interventions that sometimes follow an epidural like pitocin, forceps, episiotomies and emergency c-sections. But again, at that point I was out of my mind and I did not care one bit! I'm glad I didn't cling to stubbornly to my "plan" because it all ended up happening just how it was supposed to and I have no regrets. Plus, I also think T.J. was relieved that I was going to get some relief.

They moved me to my room and gave me a bag of fluids that I had to have before they could place the epidural. While I waited I leaned over the bed, squatted, moaned, went back and forth to sitting on the toilet, squeezed the heck out of T.J.'s hands and annoyingly answered all the questions and signed the paperwork in a haze of pain.

Finally around 1AM the anesthesiologist came in and where a few days ago I would have hesitated about this decision, that night I was just counting down the seconds until my back would stop feeling like it was being broken in half.

Sweet relief came soon after and once the epidural was placed they checked me again and said I was already at an 8.5cm and fully effaced. They told me to rest while I could because it surely wouldn't be too much longer until we'd be meeting our son.
Hah. Not so much. T.J and I slept restlessley on and off for the next couple hours. It's so surreal just sitting round waiting for your baby to arrive. The nurse said I was most likely complete already but that they would let me wait to start pushing until I felt a strong urge and my body told me it was ready, so that I wouldn't wear myself out too soon. So we tried to rest some more until finally around 7AM I said I thought I was feeling a lot of pressure down there. The nurse came in and got me situated and she and T.J. helped me hold my totally numb legs so I could do a couple practice pushes before the midwife arrived. She immediately said she could see that baby boy had tons of hair which I was so excited and surprised to hear. 7AM was also the shift change so the new midwife came on and happened to be the one I'd seen the day before at my appointment. I really liked her and was excited to have her there for my delivery.

This is getting really long now so basically the rest of this story involved 2 hours of pushing and more pushing and trying to get baby boy's head past whatever he was stuck on, which made me really grateful for the epidural. Luckily he handled all the contractions and stress and pushing like a champ and there was never any concern for his heart rate so they just let me keep on trucking. T.J. put on music, Needtobreathe and Eric Church, and gave me sips of water and held my legs and rubbed my back and was such an awesome support for me. The midwife and nurse were so encouraging and gave great feedback on which pushes were most effective. They rolled out a mirror so I could see the progress I was slowly making and that really helped. And even though I had an epidural and my legs felt like they weighed 100lbs I could still feel when a new contraction was starting, though it just felt like pressure not pain, so I knew when to push and I got to see baby boy moving further down.

And then finally  his head was out and then the rest of his body and all of a sudden there was a whole new person in the room being laid on my chest. And I was crying in relief and joy. He was whole and perfect with a full cone-head of dark hair, and he was mine.
After about an hour of skin to skin they got him cleaned up and measured. He weighed 8lbs 1oz, which was honestly a shock to me (and thank goodness he came early and not late), and was 20.5 inches long. Then we were moved to the Mother Baby wing where we spent the next couple days figuring out breastfeeding and diaper changes and started getting to know our new little guy. 
They finally let us leave on Saturday afternoon and we were so excited to bring our son home and introduce him to our pup and also excited to sleep in our own bed with our little bundle of joy beside us. To say we are obsessed is an understatement. I have about 500 pictures from this past week that I could share but I'll end here because I've got a hungry little boy who's ready for his next mealtime. 
I mean have you ever seen a more perfect little sweet baby boy?? 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Last Pregnancy Update: Weeks 33-39

How Far Along: 39 weeks and ready for this baby boy to make his arrival.

Size of Baby: A pumpkin. Basically it looks like I'm smuggling a basketball under my shirt.

Weight Gain: 23 pounds.

Does Baby Have a Name?: Yes he does and I know our family is very eager to be able to call him something other than "baby boy." We had two names that we love and were kind of debating between but we were pretty sure it would be the one over the other and we've finally committed. I can't wait to introduce him to you!

How I'm Preparing for Labor: I read and re-read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth throughout this pregnancy and honestly feel like it has put me in just the right mindset going in to labor and equipped me with really practical tools to deal with the intensity of the day (or however long it takes). I feel like it has helped remove all my fears and anxieties surrounding labor and delivery and I mostly just feel excited and eager to experience it and see what my body is capable of-what it was made to do. The first half of the book is just positive real birth stories and that is mostly what I have chosen to focus on during my pregnancy. It seems that tv and movies love to make birth look like the most traumatic thing ever and a lot of people love to share their horror stories with expectant mothers but that's not necessarily the norm and it's not the way it has to be. I watched tons of natural birth vlogs on youtube and read countless blog posts of moms sharing their real birth stories and feel like I now have a whole library of knowledge on all the ways birth can go. I'm not so naive to think that it will be easy by any means, but I do have evidence that birth isn't all cussing at nurses and screaming in agony.  Some of my favorite vlogs that I've watched are: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5.

Aside from saturating myself in positive birth stories, I am also preparing for labor physically by walking (waddling) every day. I bounce on my exercise ball and swivel my hips instead of just sitting on the couch while watching tv. And I've started drinking red raspberry leaf tea which may totally be a load of crock but supposedly it helps strengthen the uterus which makes contractions more effective and could mean a shorter labor.

Symptoms: Baby boy thinks my bladder is a squeeze toy so I am hustling to the bathroom all day and night at this point. I am also having braxton hicks contractions which aren't painful just uncomfortable mostly because I usually have to pee immediately after one comes on. Also, "lightning crotch" (who comes up with the names for these things?) which is quick flashes of pain from the baby pressing on nerves and my cervix.

Best Moment this Month: Finding out at my 38 week appointment that I was already 2 cm dilated and 75% effaced! This was super exciting and encouraging since I was making progress without having to deal with any real pain!

Looking forward to:  Uh duh! I am going to have a baby any day now! Like he could come tonight or tomorrow or this weekend and that is just CRAZY exciting!!! Come on baby boy, your mama is ready to meet you!!
T.J. and I went on one last date night last Thursday, just the two of us, before becoming a family of three. I can't wait to see him become a dad but this time of anticipation is so sweet.
I had one last baby shower on Sunday and now there is nothing else on my calendar except have a baby! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

we're getting close...

We are just a few weeks away from meeting our baby boy. From seeing his little face, holding his squishy self in my arms, and staring into his eyes for the first time ever. In just a few weeks I won't have to wonder what he looks like. I will know what color eyes he has, what color hair. We will know if he has my nose or his daddy's dimples (please let him have his dimples!!).  In just a few more weeks T.J. and I will become parents and we will be forever mom and dad to the little guy who's been growing in my belly for the past nine months. And I am feeling all the things.

Even though I've seen my belly grow (and grow), and I've felt the glorious kicks and rolls, and heard his strong heartbeat, it still makes me catch my breath that an actual baby, my own baby, will be joining our family. I mean I knew I wasn't going to be pregnant forever but it's just so huge!  Is there anything bigger, or more life changing?

I am so excited. I am so incredibly over the moon excited. That is the overwhelming emotion,  joyful anticipation. I have been so blessed to have had an easy pregnancy. Yes, I was a little queasy and emotional (and terrified something was going to go wrong) during the first trimester but for the most part I have felt really great. I have loved being pregnant, it is more than I hoped it would be, all that I wanted. I know how lucky I am.

And maybe this is my first-time-mom naivete speaking, but I am truly excited to experience labor and to give birth. I can't wait for that day to come, to see what my body is capable of and to surrender it to the Lord's design and bring our son into the world. What a magnificent privilege and what an amazing day that will be.

Now all that is to say, my only real hesitation as my due date gets closer and closer is that everything is going to change. Duh. And while I honestly believe those changes will bring us the most incredible, sweetest parts of life, I am feeling a little sentimental about leaving behind this current season. This season of being newlyweds, just me and T.J. (and Hunley), building a life together, learning how to be married, figuring out how to be partners.

I feel a bit of desperation to do as many things together before the baby arrives. More date nights, more cuddling on the couch, more games of ping pong in the garage, more hand holding, more dreaming about the future together before the future comes screaming into the hospital room.

Yes, lets get tickets to the Mariners game.  Yes, lets get our own inner-tubes and float the river next weekend. Yes, lets book a last minute getaway to the coast.  Yes, lets sleep in 'til 10 and get donuts and watch Netflix all day.

It's not that I don't think all those things will be possible (except maybe the sleeping 'til 10 part), and most likely even more fun with our baby. I just know we'll be a bit distracted in the early days and weeks with a newborn as we try to figure out our new normal and we adjust to this new layer in our identities. But there is no one else I'd rather be starting this lifelong adventure with than him. So I'm storing up and savoring all the moments of being simply T.J. and Shannon, husband and wife, right now, before we become three.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pregnancy Update: Weeks 29-32

How Far Along: 33 weeks (sorry I'm a bit behind on my bumpdate)

Size of Baby: a head of celery and I can feel every jab and somersault and kick in the ribs.

Weight Gain: 19 pounds total.

Cravings: All the fruit. Summer fruit is my favorite- peaches, nectarines, plums, watermelon-and luckily baby seems to agree. Also, lemonade just sounds so so good right now. Think I might need to drive through Chik-Fil-A today for lunch.

Symptoms: My back is really starting to pay the price for the extra weight I'm hauling around. It's just all achy and sore. I am trying to be more conscious of my posture because I'm either overarching my back or slouching all the time. I'm trying to sit on an exercise ball as often as I can to help with that. I am out of breath pretty easily so I definitely have slowed my pace, much to Hunley's frustration. I keep accidentally bumping my belly into things like doors and countertops. I guess I'm underestimating how larger and in charge I really am. This also means I feel a bit like a turtle on its back or a beached whale when I'm getting out of bed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, again...

Best Moment this Month: Turning 29 and it not being a big deal.  Honestly turning 29 used to sound not fun because it was awfully close to being 30. Plus T.J. had to work on my birthday (and most of my birthday week) so I really didn't do anything special to celebrate. Normally this would have bummed me out but this year, my birthday seems so insignificant to everything else we're anticipating.  I had my 32 week appointment on my birthday and got to hear my son's strong heartbeat and know that 29 is probably going to be the best year of my life.

Looking Forward to Next Month: Getting all the baby things. Suddenly it seems like baby is going to be here any minute and I have a million things to do before he arrives. And I just know after my next appointment at 36 weeks it will really feel like game time. I also want to start more seriously getting physically and mentally ready for labor and delivery so that it doesn't feel like I'm cramming for an exam at the end of the semester third trimester. I just can't believe this pregnancy is nearing the end of the line.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Baby Boy's Nursery Tour

Baby boy's nursery, otherwise known as my favorite room in the house, is complete (mostly). We just a need a couple more things and then it's ready to be the sweetest little room for our son. I have absolutely loved getting this space ready, finding just the right touches, hanging shelves, and fluffing pillows. I cannot wait to fill this room with story times, late night feedings, lullabies, play time, belly laughs, and so many sweet memories.

Go here to see the before pics and my inspiration for the nursery. And here is how the room looks now looking in from the doorway.
This print with lyrics to one of my favorite Needtobreathe songs was actually a gift from my mom in my Easter basket this year (yes I still get an Easter basket). I decided the nursery was the perfect place to hang it and I hope baby boy loves Needtobreathe as much as I do and doesn't think his mom has lame taste in music one day. I also pray that my son will intimately know the God these lyrics are sung about. 
I went back and forth on what sort of lamp to add to the room. I knew I'd want another light source other than the overhead light for bedtime. I finally found this fillable lamp at Target where I also picked up some blue legos and retro Tonka trucks. 
I LOVE how the wall shelves turned out and I love the pop of color all his new books add to the room. I also updated the pillows on the daybed and think it looks totally refreshed and boy friendly. 
We decided to take the doors off the closet so we could put the dresser in there. I was nervous about how it would look and I'm still a little nervous about how I'll keep it clean but I'm hopeful the baskets will help make organization easier. Taking off the doors also really makes the room feel bigger. It's more like a nook than a closet now. 
The baskets on the upper shelves right now are storing swaddles, receiving blankets and burp cloths as well as extra diapers and wipes. On the lower shelves, the basket right next to the changing table will hold diapers and wipes and diaper cream. In the other baskets for now I've stored hats, bibs and his shoes. I'm sure I'll end up moving things around as I learn what I need where and what works best. And all the sweet tiny baby blue clothes hanging there are like the frosting on the cake in this perfect room. 

Sources:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pregnancy Journal: Weeks 25-28

How Far Along: 28 weeks! Hello third trimester!!

Size of Baby:
an eggplant

Gender:
Still a baby boy.

Weight Gain:
14 pounds total and I am measuring right on track.

Symptoms:  
Yesterday I had my 28 week appointment with the midwife. I also did my glucose tolerance test, got my DTaP vaccine and a shot of rhogam so it was a big day. She said she'd call if I had to come back for the 3 hour glucose test or if I showed signs of being anemic but so far no call. And honestly I'd be surprised because I feel really great! Yes I have a hard time bending over and I am easily out of breath, but if it weren't for the growing belly I could probably convince myself I wasn't pregnant. Second trimester rocked, but I have a feeling that, even though I might get more uncomfortable in the third trimester, these last few months are going to be the most exciting!

Belly Button:
Nope.

Best Moment this Month: The crib and dresser came! The nursery is basically, almost, done. I love to go in there and just sit in the glider and rest and try to imagine how it will feel to sit in there with my baby boy in my arms. I picture myself laying him down in his crib and pulling the curtains closed so he can nap. I picture T.J. sitting on the floor with him and the two of the playing together. I can't wait. Every time I walk past the door I peak my head in and smile. It's such a sweet and restful space, my favorite room of the house now.

Looking Forward to Next Month:
 Just getting closer and closer to meeting our baby.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Tulips and Time

A couple weeks back my mom and sister came out to visit me for my sister's spring break from school. Of course it didn't really feel much like spring in the Pacific Northwest, still doesn't, but we didn't let that stop us from getting out and getting stuff done.

One of the things I really wanted to do while they were in town was go to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. This has been on my PNW bucket list since before we moved out here. Skagit Valley is a couple hours north of where I live and I knew my mom and sister would probably appreciate a long drive just to look at some flowers more than T.J. would. So we checked the weather and picked the only day with a sun icon on it, and after a quick stop for donuts that morning, we headed up to see a bit of Holland in Washington.
There are two main growers/farms that participate in the tulip festival and they're just down the road from each other. After doing some instagram research to see which place had the most blooming we decided to go to Tulip Town. We parked in the muddy lot, paid our absolutely-worth-it $7 entry fee and were greeted by rows and rows of colorful blooms.
We wandered up and down the paths and tried to pick our our favorite tulip which pretty much changed every time we saw a new color or variety. Once our eyes had taken in as much as we could we hopped back in the car, hoping to beat the rush hour traffic through Seattle, and then stopped for a late lunch by the water in Tacoma. It was the perfect PNW springtime afternoon.

Part of the reason for their visit was to help me check off some items from my "to-do before baby list." We hit up Ikea for nursery closet organization, got the last office bookshelf moved from the nursery to the garage, waited around together while a tech guy got our tv mounted on the wall in the living room, ordered the crib and dresser, set up the new baby swing, and of course it was essential that we picked up some adorable baby clothes to add to his little wardrobe.

But in between running errands with me and reminding me that everything doesn't have to be done by August 1st, or whenever baby boy makes his debut, we just enjoyed this rare week of time together, just us girls (with the occasional appearance of T.J.) for the first time in a long time and probably the last time for a while. It's so wild that the next time they're out here will be to meet the newest and littlest member of our family.