How about a little Q & A?

6 Feb

Well hey there!  It’s me again, in the midst of Week 4 of our latest adventure that we like to call Miss Neve!  I know I’ve said it in the last couple posts, but seriously…How is it possible for time to go by SO quickly now when it was barely moving as fast as a snails’ pace for the 9 months before?!  I just don’t get it…Anyhoo…as promised, I wanted to get away from the cliche mom posts for a minute and get into some of the nitty gritty stuff…Y’all know me, I like to keep it real, especially now, considering that I’ve got quite a few friends in my same boat (there were about 6 of us that gave birth in January- something in the water last April perhaps??) and a good many more due this spring and early summer (I’m talkin’ close to 10!).  Sheesh!  Needless to say, I think it’s important for someone to get it all out there- the good, the bad, the funny…Although since I know I’ve got some male pals who check in here to keep up with our happenings, I’ll try my best to keep it PG-13.  So here we go!  Lots of this is coming from questions both right before Neve’s birth and in the weeks since…The rest, well…it can just be my own musings :).

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Neve’s means of arrival…So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have no qualms talking about it.  Any woman who has gone through delivery should be oh-so-proud of herself.  And I mean that regardless of circumstances- vaginal, Cesarean, natural, pain med free, home birth, emergency, planned…However which way that baby that she’s carried for almost a year makes its entrance is cause for celebration…and a pat on the back.  And this isn’t something new for me since going through it myself…No, I’ve always felt this way: that it doesn’t make a woman any more or less of a woman- or a mother!- to choose (or in some cases have no choice but to…) one way or the other.  If you want to do it naturally and without pain meds, great.  If you opt for an epidural, great.  If you have a C-section, great.  Everyone gets a gold star for a job well done as all of these options come with their own unique set of goods and bads.  Remember back in one of my early pregnancy posts when I used the analogy about the journey vs. the end result- you know, we may not like doing laundry, but we like wearing clean clothes?  And how that was my view on pregnancy (more on that in a little while!)- hating being pregnant, but ecstatic about the idea of growing our family?  Well, that sums up my feelings on delivery, too.  It doesn’t matter how babies arrive…just that they arrive and that everyone is happy and healthy…

OK, back to my own story.  I had a C-section and am damn proud of it. 🙂  No, it wasn’t an emergency or anything grand done as a last resort after hours and hours of unsuccessful labor…Although I wouldn’t call it 100% completely ‘elected’ either.  For years, long before I got pregnant, docs had told me that I had a higher likelihood than some of going this route.  For starters, my mom had needed one (and yes, her’s was after hours and hours of unsuccessful labor!), which significantly increased my chances of needing one.  But more importantly, my body shape apparently isn’t the most conducive to vaginal labor, specifically, my hips.  My normal body is about the same width front to back as it is side to side (*sigh* No waif-thin Giselle shape for me)…In other words, if you were to stretch a belt around my hips and take it off, you’ll see a circle…Not an oval.  And by the end of my pregnancy, their width hadn’t changed at all- they hadn’t widened even an inch, which meant that Neve’s shoulders were planted firmly ON my pelvic bones rather than in between.  Now don’t get me wrong, I talked to my doc about my options and had always remained open to either option as both had very definitely pros and cons for me.  And he was very open, too- telling me that he was certainly OK with me trying a vaginal delivery if I needed that experience…that ‘right of passage’ that so many new moms think they need…That sure, it could end up working out in the end…but that he really didn’t think it would and that a probably more realistic scenario would be that I labor all day and still end up with in the OR when it was all said and done.  So in my mind- and in John’s, it was a no-brainer.  I didn’t NEED the experience of a vaginal delivery to validate anything within me…I didn’t WANT Neve or myself to (most likely) be in labor all day getting all sorts of medicines only to end up exhausted and sore before even getting to the OR.  I wanted to be well-rested (that’s almost comical to write because by the end of pregnancy, you’re lucky if you’re getting 3 hours a night! Ha!), mentally prepared, and HAPPY when I met our daughter!  Trusting my doc- and my own instincts (no one knows you better than you know yourself…), I made the decision about 6 weeks before her birth, that when labor started, we would go to the hospital, Dr. Reeves would meet us there, and Neve would be born via C-section shortly after.

And that’s just how it went…We went to the doc on that Monday the week she was born- I was 39 weeks and had been having contractions.  Dilation had started, but not active labor.  Contractions continued for the next few days and on Thursday morning, I noticed some extra moisture down below.  (I told y’all I was going to keep it real!)  Now by 39 weeks, you’re used to some of this and there’s no telling what exactly it is…It’s hot outside (yes, it’s January, but we’re in Charleston!), you might have sneezed, your body might just be adding one more thing to its list of rebellions…You just don’t know!  So at our 10:30a doc appointment that morning, I happened to cough while he was doing his check to which he quickly said, ‘Hey, do that again.’  ‘Do what?,’ I asked.  ‘Cough, I think there’s fluid.’  Long story short? My water had broken- though nothing fancy like you see in the movies, but rather a slow and steady leak- and it was (FINALLY!) time.  ‘No turning back now!,’ he said.  ‘Why don’t you head on over the hospital to get checked in and hooked up to the monitors and I’ll be over later this afternoon so we can have ourselves a baby!’  BAZINGA!!

I know I already posted this one a few weeks ago, but since it was taken just moments after the above conversation, I thought it only natural to post again...Having just driven across the street to the hospital. Neve was born about 4 hours later 🙂

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The actual delivery…And no, not to worry…No need to go too into the details here…But since lots of folks- from expectant parents (possibly) planning for a C-section to older generations who’ve had ’em in the past- seem fascinated with the process, I think it only right that I hit the highlights!  So…we spend the early part of the afternoon hooked up to monitors, taking care of paperwork and meeting the team.  Most important to me?  The anesthesia team.  Now, y’all know I can have panic issues, so the idea of being wide awake and completely numb scared the HELL outta me, so it was important that I talk with these folks BEFORE the fact…

So once that was all out of the way, Dr. Reeves arrived in time to poke his head in for a quick ‘Hello!  See you in there!’, and with that, the nurse (my friend, Melissa) and I headed down the hall to the OR.  (Husbands can’t come in until everything is set up and ready to go…)  It looked different than what I’d expected…Smaller, brighter, colder (downright chilly!) and with way more people.  I’m talkin’ like probably 20 blue scrubs walking around in there!  I crawled up on the table, my legs- complete with their warm alternating compression socks- dangling off the side.  Then it was time for the part I dreaded the most…Dread is probably an understatement- it was more like a petrifying, I don’t think I can do this sort of fear that I’d been wrestling with since the day we made the decision to go this route.  But at that point, all I could tell myself were these two things: 1. She has to come out.  And 2. All these people are already in here.

The anesthesiologist got behind me and began to clean the area on my spine just below my shoulder blades.  Per my request, he announced what he was doing each step of the way to avoid any surprises.  So, I was ‘hugging’ Melissa and pushing my back out like a cat, per his instructions.  Next, he gave me a shot to numb the skin- this felt alot like a bee sting.  And I guess because I knew what was coming next, my panic intensified for a minute as he did the actual spinal tap.  It didn’t hurt at all- just an odd sensation that felt like he was ‘tickling’ the inside of my spine.  And just like that, those compression socks that had been keeping my legs warm- and that I’d been counting as they did their thing- quickly stopped working.  You know where I’m headed with this, right?  They actually hadn’t stopped working…the feeling in my legs had.  And then in my pelvis…my stomach…and even a bit up my rib cage.  As all this jazz was taking place, the team was quickly swinging me around and laying me flat on the table.  I remember them positioning my legs like a frog just before they started to put the drape up- the one that would separate my chest and head from the sterile workspace below…A funny note: since that’s the last position in which I saw my legs, I assumed they stayed like that for the remainder of my time in there.  And I fretted about it!  Several times I thought to myself, ‘Jeez, all these people in here and I’m stuck with my legs like THAT!  How awkward!’  After the fact, though, I asked Melissa about it and she reassured me that my legs had, in fact, only remained like that for about 2 minutes and had then been laid flat.  Phew! 🙂

Within just a few minutes, when everyone was in place and ready to go, in came John- in his sexy scrubs, cap and mask ;)- and it was Go Time.  My panic was under control and we were giddy in anticipation.  No quicker had he sat down by my head and grabbed my hand when I asked the anesthesiologist (also camping out by my head) if we were close to starting to which he replied, ‘Oh we’ve been started, give it just a few seconds…’  Wait, WHAT?  Ha!  And sure enough, within less than 30 seconds, he reached over the drape to push on my abdomen and Dr. Reeves announced, ‘Here she comes…’  And we heard her cry.  Oh my, there really are no words for that moment.  That one single cry…John and I looked at each other and cried ourselves.  Then the doc held her up above the drape so we could see her for the first time.  We just stared…in awe and in disbelief.  That this moment we’d waited for was finally here…That she was healthy and perfect…That that’s what she looked like…That we had a daughter.  John kissed my forehead and whispered, ‘We made that.’  Wow…

The nurses quickly took some preliminary measurements (6 lbs., 8 oz., 19 inches), bundled her up and brought her to formally meet us.  Another moment that will never be forgotten.  We were a family of 3 (actually 5 🙂 ) now and it felt good.  John then went with Neve and the nurses to handle the rest of the ‘just been born’ stuff, while I stayed behind for about 45 minutes (no one tells you how long it takes AFTER the fact!) to let Dr. Reeves wrap things up. 🙂  And he was awesome- great to keep me informed of what he was doing each step of the way.  Melissa and the other nurses kept me distracted in between until it was time to head next door to the recovery room.  John and Neve met me there, followed quickly by my parents.  *Happy Hearts All Around*

Really, this picture can't even begin to capture all the love and overflowing emotions of that moment...

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OK, enough with all the serious stuff!  Let me get into some of the other questions we’ve gotten before I go 🙂

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No, our house is not falling down around us as we forego dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc…From the day we got home, we have both maintained our normal duties and it looks just the same as it always does.  Definitely don’t understand all the stuff about ‘just let it all go and focus solely on baby…’  We would go nuts!

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On that same note…No, I’m not letting myself go either.  Do women really do this??  I have showered twice a day, gotten dressed, put on makeup and done my hair just about every single day since we got home.  In my opinion, ESPECIALLY after being pregnant for 9 months (y’all do know it’s actually 10, right?!), I’m more inclined than ever to look good and feel confident!

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Yes, I am breastfeeding- and pumping- exclusively.  No formula.  Yes, my already giant tatas have once again defied my wildest dreams and increased in size.  Please, Lord, let this be it!  Yes, I hate this part.  But other than that, things on that front have been going pretty smoothly, knock on wood.  We’re definitely figuring it out as we go and adjusting our ‘system,’ often daily, as we learn.  That being said, I view breastfeeding in the same way that I view just about everything else in life.  I definitely see the benefits of it and want to give it a shot.  If it works for us, great.  If it doesn’t, there’s formula.  And my job is to do what’s best for all of us…It’s that simple.  So I set small goals for myself from Day 1.  ‘I will do my best to make it to 3 days.’  (The first ‘benchmark’ for BF benefits).  Then, ‘I will try to make it to 2 weeks.’  (The second ‘benchmark’).  Now, I’m working on getting to next Thursday, the 1 month benchmark.  In other words, it makes more sense to me to set small, realistic goals, (rather than ‘I must do this for at least a year!’) especially during a time that’s already so overwhelming and life changing.  Knowing that, statistically, I’ve already done more than many new moms takes alot of the pressure off.  I won’t have guilt if and when I choose to stop… 🙂  But for now, we’re trucking right along…

My Liquid Gold stock pile in the freezer 🙂

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Yes, we were SO very fortunate that John has been in a position to take as much paternity leave as he wants to.  It ended up being about a month and I truly believe that it made all the difference in this transition…For all of us.  He went back to work in the form of travel to Rome- this past Friday, for about 2 weeks.  Speaking of Italy, they’re in the middle of a frigid cold spell and their first snow (6+ inches when John landed!) since 1985!  Needless to say, John may be a bit underdressed during his visit!  On the plus side, it’s now Sunday which means that Neve, the pups and I survived our first- and now second- solo nights!  WOOHOO!  Coincidentally, about an hour after we dropped John at the airport Friday morning, Neve hit her first growth spurt, right on schedule at 3 weeks.  Jeez Louise, let me tell you that THAT has made for a fun couple of days!  *Totally joking, folks.*  Lots more eating, lots less sleeping and lots more fussiness going on in this house!  Fortunately, my Mom and I had already planned a ‘Girls Slumber Party’ and she came to hang out and spend the night with us last night, so that helped to take the edge off.  I’m so glad that she was able to be part of things like bathtime, playtime, etc.  You know how there’s a very small handful of people who you can do absolutely nothing with yet still consider it time so well spent?  Yeah, that’s us. 🙂

From John...The Roman Forum on Saturday as the snow had just begun...

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Yes, I made it through pregnancy without a single stretchmark!  BAZINGA!  I know, I know…they say it’s genetic, but I totally swear by the daily BioOil rubdowns!  Why not at least FEEL proactive, right?!

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Yes, I do finally know how much weight I gained during the preggo adventure and no, I’m not going to share it with all of you, at least not right now!  C’mon, you should know me better than that!  In a few months, when I’m back in the shape I like to be, I’ll probably share, just to help show all new moms what’s possible :)!  I will say that I definitely never got on the scale facing forward, though.  Instead, I had the nurse write my final pregnancy weight (taken the morning Neve was born) on the back of one of my hospital discharge papers, so I could look at it at home when I was ready.  Then I waited two weeks- no need to weigh when you’re retaining all those fluids they pump you so full of!- and figured it was time to bite the bullet and see the damage.  So I mustered up the courage to not only look at the not-so-tiny number she’d scribbled for me, but also to get on my own scale for the first time since last May.  *SIGH*  And I’m not gonna lie…my mini meltdown in the privacy of my bathroom that morning probably wasn’t pretty!  But it gave me a starting point, an exact number to reach my goal weight, and thus, the control over my body that I’m accustomed to having- and have SO missed, which is a fabulous feeling.  Getting back into the swing of clean, healthy eating and exercise is a bit challenging, of course, but it’s SO worth it…Especially as I watch that number (slowly) decrease :).

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And speaking of exercise, yes, I’m gradually returning to a more normal activity level.  And it feels SO good!  We’ve been walking- with Neve and the pups- since Day 7 and, with my doc’s OK, I started to reintroduce moderate exercise back into my schedule by Day 14.  Now, before you guys start sending me notes about taking it easy and not overdoing, I assure you that all is well.  🙂  No one knows her body better than the person herself and I’m certainly letting my body dictate what it needs, what it’s able to handle each day, what it’s not, etc.  Right now, at 3.5 weeks out, it’s good with long power walks pushing the stroller, about 4 miles on an elliptical, and light weights avoiding the midsection (which sure, that’s a bit discouraging as that’s the part that needs the most work! Ha!)…This week, I hope to include a spin session or two, but we shall see :).

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No, we’ve definitely not become homebodies- at least not any moreso than we’ve ever been!  We got home from the hospital on a Saturday afternoon and our first outing- to lunch and to run errands- was that Tuesday…And we’ve been going strong- and venturing out on our normal routine!- every day since!  Disclaimer: That’s definitely not to say that it doesn’t take an additional 30 minutes to get ready to go and that it can be challenging (even that’s probably an understatement!) to run lots of little ‘quick’ errands!  If only you could crack a window and leave her in the car with the pups! Ha!

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Speaking of leaving the house, yes, we are planning to take our first family vacation- to Hawaii- this spring and will head back to Europe over the summer.   I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a tad nervous about the usual stuff: Neve’s first airplane ride, time changes, overall traveling with an infant…But our excitement and confidence trumps it all, so we can’t wait!  We’ve always known that she’d be a world traveler and that it’s best to start early if you want something to seem like second nature!  Like everything else these days, it’ll be a new adventure and a learning experience for all of us :).

Neve's passport picture. With all the guidelines they give you, it took me 157 attempts, but I got it! 🙂

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(Knock loudly on wood 🙂 ) Yes, we’re actually get pretty good sleep, especially when John’s here to tag team this beast!  Ha!  Granted, we don’t have much to compare our experience to, but based on some of the horror stories we’ve heard, we think we’ve lucked up in that department, at least so far.  Since the first week, she’s only needed one feeding in the middle of the night.  In other words, she eats before we go to bed, wakes us sometime between 3-4a, then eats breakfast when we get up or when I get home from the gym, depending on the day.  Now, I know what some of you will be saying: ‘You’re supposed to feed more often than that!’ or ‘You should wake her every couple hours to eat!’ or ‘This could mess with your milk production!’  And for the first week, we tried it that way, but it just didn’t feel right for us…And I truly believe that’s what you have to go on, folks.  Neve’s simply not hungry quite that often- she definitely prefers larger but fewer meals as opposed to smaller, more frequent ones…And we’ve made that work for us.  Yes, we definitely wake her to eat during the day if we need to, but as for the nights, there just hasn’t been a need to so far.

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Which brings me to a big question we’ve gotten alot from our fellow new parent/soon-to-be new parent friends…Scheduling and routine.  Now, if  you truly know us, you should be able to guess where we fall on this debate!  We are creatures of habit…We prefer order, routine, schedule, etc.  Our philosophy is pretty close to the old school notion that babies thrive when they know what to expect…That they crave ‘normalcy’ just as much as their parents do.  So that’s how we’re approaching this latest adventure- shaping Neve’s world into one that fits into our world, complete with an ever-slightly-changing daily routine…We wake, eat, play and sleep at roughly the same times each and every day…making for a happy Neve and happy parents.  🙂  With her help, we’re creating a schedule that best fits into our schedules, so it’s as win-win as we could ask for.  Oh, and I strongly recommend the ‘Babywise’ and ‘Baby Whisperer’ series for anyone with similar thoughts.

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No, my feelings about pregnancy (ie. loathing it!) have not changed since Neve’s birth and yes, I do remember being pregnant (do people really conveniently forget that??  Yeah, no likely to happen for this girl…Ha!  That being said, I will say that the cliche ‘I’d do it all over again to have her’ definitely applies, but the buck definitely stops there! 🙂  She’s awesome and totally rocks our world, so there’s no need to push it, right?! Ha!

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OK, well I think that about sums things up for the moment!  Things in the Thomas household, as crazy and as different and as exhausting as they are, are WONDERFUL.  Seriously, we are loving this season of our life.  And not just John and me, but our families, too.  Neve has brought something to all of us that we didn’t even realize was missing.  It’s amazing…So profound…

Anyhoo, I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend and I’ll be in touch again soon- this time with lots of pictures rounding out Month 1, I’m sure!  Love you guys!

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