Monday, October 31, 2011

Week Three

Dear Sprout,

Happy Halloween!

And now you are 3 weeks old!

You are so very different from the day that we met you. It doesn't seem all that long ago, but you are so much bigger. You get more and more handsome at every turn. You're getting a ton of strength and you're able to pitch yourself forward in a fit of rage when you are hungry and the bottle isn't getting to you fast enough. You can lift your head with the best of them.

We're getting more into the swing of feeding you. Pumping has been a royal pain in my butt, but seeing you pack on the ounces has made it all worthwhile. Not that you wouldn't have gotten there with formula, because of course you would have, but of all the things that have gone wrong in getting you safely onto this earth, the one thing I have been determined to not have go wrong is breast feeding. Which, of course, it has gone all wrong but I am able to pump and supply you with milk and I plan on doing it as long as I can. It's hard and my supply barely keeps up with your demands, but no amount of sore, cracked nipples is going to make me fold on this one.

You will learn that I am just as stubborn as you are. Keep that in mind, my future teenage son.

I even ordered some not illegal but not prescribed to me drugs from New Zealand. I scoff at the FDA and their regulations! I WILL MAKE MORE MILK! I am finally a couple of bottles ahead so I can feel like we can leave the house for a couple of hours and I am not just a milk cow attached to suction hoses. Hopefully when my drugs gets here, I can start really storing some up and ease the pressure on myself.

This week has brought with it your first really fussy day. It was... interesting. It was stressful and I felt so lost. You had previously gone through a bit of a growth spurt that required tons of feedings and came with a bit of fussing, but this day was something else entirely. You spend the majority of the day awake and probably crying. Maybe not crying, but definitely awake. The only times you would sleep were when I walked you around in your stroller or when you were swaddled and being rocked.

It was exhausting. You were so sweet and cuddly the next day, though, that it made it almost worth it.


Last week, we did your newborn photos with Heather Puett from Marysville. She did an amazing job and captured some great shots. I would recommend her to anyone. Hopefully, she'll still be available for your one year photos.

I still don't have all of them, but the few that I have seen have been outstanding. You were such sheer perfection (and really, who am I kidding? You still are!) and you just looked flawless. You are absolutely not a normal baby. You didn't ever look wrinkly and icky and new. You always looked like the cover of a magazine.

This is our last week with your Nene staying with us in the house. I am both nervous as hell and kind of excited to see how we handle this on our own. It won't be easy, I know that. I'm not sure I'm very good at this whole "newborn care" thing. I try, but I kind of take it all personally. When you grump, I am pretty sure it's because I am incapable of doing the right thing for you. I know that's ridiculous. I know I am being dramatic. But I am hormonal and scared. It's just how it is, right now.

This coming week does bring a visit from your great-grandma Betty and your Aunt Sarah. They are coming out for a couple of days to visit with you and spend some quality time snuggling you. We are all looking forward to their visit.

I really do hate that you will get to see the rest of your family so infrequently. I love it out here, I do. And your daddy is so happy, I would never give it up, but the idea of being so far away during this time of your life just kills me. Will a couple of days here and there be enough for you to know these people and how much they mean?

The dog has decided that you can stay, but you need to stop taking up so much room in people's laps.

All of my love,
Your mama

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week Two

Dear Sprout,

Today you are two weeks old!

Your two week appointment was this past Thursday. Even with our milk production issues, you've managed to regain all the weight you lost after birth and then gain an extra ounce. Way to go, us! We are making a happy, healthy, chubby baby! Knowing this has made all of the trouble of pumping every 2 - 3 hours so worth the effort and pain. You are worth all of it and knowing that I am able to give you pretty much exclusively breast milk even though we have latch issues... it makes me feel so much better and I will continue on this path as long as I can.

What a wild 14 days it's been getting to know you and know your habits and patterns. You are seriously the most laid back kid. You sleep well and often, you are rarely fussy and if you are, odds are you are super hungry. There isn't much of a cry that a good snuggle, a little pacifier action, or your swing can't fix.

Besides laid back, you are so reactive, so very alert. Your eyes are wide and bright and you make so much eye contact. It's so intriguing. I have this desire to never, ever put you down when your eyes are open. I figure if your eyes are open, I should give you someone to look at. If I walk into your room to check on you and see you looking around, I have to get you out of your crib. I can't leave you there. I doubt I will ever regret the decision to spend more time with with you even when I could be sleeping.

Speaking of sleeping, having your Nene around has been a life saver for me. Or a sanity saver. Both, really. I have been able to recuperate from the surgery with lots of sleep and rest. I get to take naps when I need to and I don't have to do the heavy lifting around the house. She's kept me from tears a number of times. When Rob offered to just keep her and pay her rather than daycare, he wasn't joking. We love having her here and you are all the better for having her with us during this time.

Every time I go anywhere people are shocked that I had a c-section so short a time ago. Apparently, being up and about so soon is unusual. I'm trying to take it easy and not over-do it, but I just can't exist without feeling like I'm doing something. Which is strange because during the uncomfortable last month of my pregnancy, I barely moved and now I am stir crazy and can't wait to be able to walk my dog or cook dinner or go to the grocery. I do not know how single moms do this, especially after a c-section. I have a wonderfully supportive husband and a mother who does everything and I'm still exhausted. I have such a huge amount of respect for people who can do this on their own.

We have a photo shoot today for your newborn photos. I am so excited to have these days documented by a professional, though I have noticed that you have already changed so much. It's almost heartbreaking. In a matter of weeks, you are a totally different baby. I can't imagine what you will look like in two more weeks or two more months.

I love you, baby boy. I love every moment I have with you. I can't get enough of your smell and your soft skin and your blonde hair and your feet and your chubby thighs. You are intoxicating and addictive and I don't think I will ever get enough of you.

All of my love and sore nipples,
Your mama

Thursday, October 13, 2011

And Our Hearts Grew Three Sizes That Day

Welcome to the world, Baron Douglas Schuster!

Today you are 3 days old. You made your grand entrance at 8:29 PM on October 10, 2011. You were 19 1/2 inches long and 8 pounds on the dot. And I am pretty sure there was never a prettier baby in all of the world. You came out looking like one of those babies from the movies where you know it's SO FAKE because that baby is clean and pretty and doesn't look like a little old man. You have the most amazing steely blue-gray eyes and blonde hair. I think we're both kind of wondering where that comes from in our genetic pool, but we will gladly take it. 

Since you've been around, our lives have changed so much. Your father has stepped up his game and I didn't even know it was possible for him to be more supportive or more nurturing. He's mad about you and he has done everything he can to make you happy. It's working. You two are on a whole other level of fathers and sons.

The story of your birth is not going to be an easy one for me to tell. I'm going to do it because I need to for myself. Because I need to get it all out and process this in my heart. I want you to know also why I might be a creepy, overly possessive mama. Someday you'll read this and you'll know why I wouldn't let you leave the house until your 30th birthday.

I have had a birth of my dreams in my mind since I found out that you were coming to be with us. To say I did not have that is the understatement of a lifetime.

We went in for our induction on Saturday, October 8th. None of my tricks to induce my own labor worked. We went in to the hospital at 7:15 PM. I got myself dressed, filled out some paperwork and then the fun started. They started with a cervical ripening medication called Cytotec. It went to work pretty fast and got me into having contractions that were 2 to 3 minutes apart. This went on all night and into the morning with no big change in my cervix or our labor.

We had a long Sunday when no doctors came to try anything else. They basically forgot I was there. Contractions stopped entirely and I just became disappointed and frustrated. Around 6:00 PM on Sunday, they came and started more Cytotec since it had been working to produce contractions. We did three doses over 12 hours. Contractions weren't as frequent but they were there through the whole night. 

At one point during the night, your heart rate took a big dip and frightened the night nurses. They immediately hoked me to IVs and my mind started racing. At this point, we had been unsuccessfully laboring for 36 hours. I was tired, I was frustrated and I was scared to death that something was going wrong. 

You did stabilize after that one dip and went on like nothing happened, but I still started thinking about asking for a c-section, just to get you out and know that you would be safe. I made my peace with that decision after talking it all over with your father. We just wanted the best for you.

On the morning of the 10th, my doctor came in to do a check and to talk over the options. During my check, she saw that I had dilated more and my body felt more ready for laboring. She said she would agree to the c-section if it was what I truly wanted, but felt we still had options. After going over them and her letting us know that one dip during a contraction was no big deal, that they do happen and that when we labored we would use internal monitoring to keep on top of everything. I have never wanted to do internal monitoring, but it's just another part of my birth plan that didn't happen like I wanted. And in the end? It was the best decision I made that day.

We decided to stop with any drugs to induce labor. We went with an inflatable catheter/bulb thing. They inserted it into my cervix and blew it up with saline to manually dilate my cervix. It was possibly one of the most uncomfortable things on earth but I was pleased with our decision to keep trying to have a vaginal birth and to do it with the least amount of drugs we could. The idea was to keep it in until it fell out and it would fall out at 4 or 5 centimeters dilated. At that point, we would break my water and see what happened, moving onto Pitocin if necessary.

She started the bulb at about 8:00 AM and your dad, Nene, Nana, and I spent a long, uncomfortable day in the room waiting for something to happen. Everyone knows I'm not good at waiting and I won't lie... I was not the easiest patient. I wanted to be able to get up and move around and they kept me hooked to monitors all day. I became a bargainer and got my doctor to agree to an hour of monitoring and then a half hour off so I could move and stretch. The bulb was so uncomfortable when I was sitting, that standing up felt like such a huge relief. 

At a little after 4:00PM, the bulb came out on its own while I was up and moving. The room let out a collective cheer and even took pictures of our bouncing, baby cervix dilating bulb. The nurse called the doctor and the doctor gave us the great news! She would be in around six that night to break my water and get the party started. We were FINALLY on our way to meeting you and we couldn't have been more excited!

When she got to the room, she checked my cervix and I was a fantastic 5 centimeters dilated. It was officially time to get things moving. She broke my water and I was immediately grossed out. Suddenly, labor didn't feel very glamorous at all. It was especially yucky because I had lots of fluid. Your mama is going to give you some TMI, so you need to deal with that. Almost my entire bed was soaked and it was just so... gross. But hey! We were actually getting somewhere!

They put the internal monitors on and it was much nicer to be able to stand up or sit up straight and just move a little. I couldn't go far because I was still attached to the machine but I was able to get myself comfortable and reposition when needed. It was a much needed relief.

The idea was then for me to go ahead and order and eat a light dinner before we started the Pitocin at 8:00 PM. We relaxed and got our minds wrapped around the fact that we would possibly be holding you in a few hours. Contractions kept coming and things felt pretty good, really. The pain was minimal and your father was helping me through all of them. It was an amazing feeling.

Until a nurse came running back to check on me because your heart rate had dropped again during a contraction. Once again, it came back up after the contraction was over. Another sigh of relief was breathed, though we did talk to our labor nurse. She said it was most definitely not unusual and we would absolutely keep an eye on it. We had a few more contractions with some small dips and then you were back to normal. 

And then it didn't come back. And it dropped more and more. The contraction stopped but your heart wouldn't come back. The nurses ran in the room and changed my position. You still didn't respond. They changed to my other side and you still didn't come back. They put me on my hands and knees and you still didn't come back. In a flash, everything I had ever feared was coming to fruition. 

In a matter of seconds, the nurses had kicked your Nene and Nana out of the room. My head was spinning and all I could hear was your father crying and yelling for the nurses to fix it, to take care of me, to make sure I was ok. My heart broke in an instant. They were wheeling me out of the room and your heart was barely there and nothing was making sense.

They rushed me to the OR and wouldn't let your father come because they were going to have to put me under to operate and get you out. I have never felt so alone and desperate and panicked in my whole life. I kept calling for your dad. I kept asking for them to help me, please help me get my baby.

The rest of what happened is kind of a blur. I remember everyone in the OR introducing themselves and explaining what they were doing and why they were there. I remember not giving one bit of a shit and begging them to just help you, please, please, please just help me. My doctor came in and told me that she was going to get you out and take care of us. I remember hearing your father's voice and thinking I was hallucinating until a nurse came over to me and said that my husband was there and that he couldn't stay but he was telling me he loved me.

I remember the anesthesiologist asking me about medication allergies and telling me that he was going to have to put me under and he was sorry but that they would take care of me. I remember having a thought that I could hear your heart again and then there was a flutter of people talking and asking if the anesthesiologist had time to do a spinal because it looked like the baby was starting to stabilize. I remember begging them to just hurry, please hurry and get my baby out.

They decided to give me the spinal and as soon as it happened, I had a panic attack. I couldn't feel my legs and it made me want nothing more than to kick my feet. I kept telling the anesthesiologist that I needed to move my feet, that I couldn't help it. He promised I couldn't because they were strapped down which only made me worry more.

Though they put a sheet up below my head so I couldn't watch what was happening, they didn't think to block the reflection in the glass on the light above us and I could see most everything. I have to say, I thought watching someone cut into your abdomen and move your insides around would be the scariest thing in the world.

I was so wrong. The scariest thing to me at that moment was that they wouldn't open me up or, at least, not in time. I watched everything to make sure it was happening, to make sure they were going to get you out. 

It seemed like an eternity. Everything was moving so slowly and in my haze of fear, it was like time just stopped though I was begging it to keep going.

The reality was it took nearly no time at all. From the time I entered the OR until you came out (screaming the most beautiful scream), was around eleven minutes. I remember watching them take you from me and keeping my eyes on you the entire time they were working on you. One of the nurses yelled at me that you were perfect and gave me all of your stats. Another one of the NICU nurses said to the other nurses, "I cannot believe how perfect this baby is. He's beautiful." Your APGAR score was a 9 and that is outstanding.

There were some complications with my surgery and it was taking longer than expected for them to close up my abdomen so the nurse came over with you in her arms and held you near my face. I couldn't believe you were here and safe. She kept you there so I could look at you. It was so very kind of her but it suddenly hit me that your father was still out there, still waiting with your grandmothers and knowing nothing. I thanked the nurse and asked her if she would please take you to your father and let him hold you and let him know that we were okay, that we made it.

It seemed another eternity for them to finish closing me up. All I wanted was to be with you and your father. I was so happy knowing that your grandmothers and your father could be with you since I couldn't. I was a flood of mixed emotions.

The details are fuzzy when I got back so I can't say much about the after. The rest really doesn't matter, though, does it? 

You were there, you were safe, and you were loved.

Other things from the hospital stay and beyond that I remember but don't have the time or energy or desire to expound on at this time:
  1. Feeling my feet again was awesome until I realize they weren't going to let me actually use them.
  2. Catheters can really spoil a person, especially if that person was previously quite pregnant and peeing nearly every hour. Removal of said catheter is a rude awakening.
  3. Those damned mesh underwear they give you after birth are the most comfortable things on earth. I begged for more to take home and they gave me quite a few. I was embarrassingly pleased.
  4. Lactation is a chore and we may not be able to breastfeed, but we plan on working our butts off to be able to pump and feed. 
  5. We are total n00bs at parenting.
  6. We are going to freakin' rock at this parenting gig, anyway.
  7. Having your husband in the same room as you but not being able to sleep in the same bed for 5 days is akin to torture.
  8. Morphine is one hell of a drug.
  9. Your dad is a total baby raising rock star.
  10. I never want to be in the hospital again.
  11. You are SO going to be an only child.
So, we didn't have the birth we ideally wanted. We tried. We made decisions as the time came and then the decision was taken from us entirely. There's a lot to be said for all of the natural methods and in a perfect world, that's all it would take to have a successful birth and a healthy baby. In reality, I have never been so thankful for nurses and doctors who have no problem with doing an intervention when they really think it's necessary. There is a possibility we could have gone on to have had a vaginal birth, but in that instant, that moment when we could have lost you, the last thing I cared about was my vagina.

The doctors and nurses at Overlake deserve a gold medal and a million dollars and flowers and candies and a new car and maybe some jewelry for not wasting one single second. They went above and beyond my expectations in most every way. The aftercare they gave us was amazing. People that complain about hospital births should give it a shot there. I mean, honestly, we felt so ridiculously supported and cared for.

Anyway, we are home now. We are settling in and trying to get in the routine of having you here and what your needs are. We get overwhelmed. We get frustrated. We panic. But we support each other and we have a fantastic support system from our parents. Your father keeps my spirits high when I'm feeling down, and trust me, without even meaning to, I feel very down about my experience. Not only do I feel like I missed out on the birth I wanted, but I missed out on so many of your firsts. Your dad keeps me sane and reminds me that we made a wonderful baby and we will have lots of firsts, that we are going to do this, and that we are one awesome family.

He is so, so right.

All of our love,
Your mama


Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Countdown is OVER

Dear Sprout,

This is my last letter to you while you are on the inside.

Holy crap!

Welcome to week 39, the week you will be born. This week you are the size of a newborn -- a real, live baby boy. And tonight, we start the journey to bringing you into our arms.

As you can tell, I have not gone into labor naturally. I did what I could. My body just hasn't been ready. Tonight we start the induction. You may be born then, you may take a day or so to get here. In any case, my amazing son, you will be with us in a matter of days with the help of a few drugs to get the party started.

In a mere matter of hours, we will be in the hospital -- holing up until we have a baby. You have a lot of people cheering for you and ready to meet you, so let's not dawdle, okay?

This past week has been a very emotional one for me. I am scared and nervous. I'm thrilled. I'm just plain overwhelmed. What if I change my mind? Can I just keep you in there forever? I mean, it might be a little awkward when you're 16 and six feet tall and wanting to date, but I think we can make it work.


Today, we are going to get some pedicures and have a nice dinner before heading to the hospital at 6:00PM. We're going to have one more relaxing day before our lives change for good. For the better.

I have been on edge for the past 24 hours. I absolutely cannot wait to see your beautiful face and hold you in my arms. It's been a lifetime in the making.

All of my love,
Your mama


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lots of Babbling Because My Brain No Longer Works Properly

I remember when I was marveling over the fact that something as small as an apple seed could cause so much trouble in my body. Now, after our last growth scan, we know you're measuring around seven pounds and three ounces. How that happened, I don't think I will ever fully understand. Sure, something something cells dividing something organs maturing something something fatty tissue, but it's all gibberish when I think about how you just grew there and my body made it possible.

I need to brag for just a few minutes, too, since I am technically responsible for this baby that is about to come out. Your dad helped, obviously, but as the incubating unit I'm the one that's kept you warm and growing. He's more the guy that made you incredibly handsome and genetically awesome.

My blood sugar numbers have been great for weeks, even with a few cheats (red velvet cake with magical no blood sugar spiking properties). The doctor says it's this that has kept you from turning into a ginormobaby that would require a C-section to deliver. So, suffice it to say, it's been pretty miserable not being able to just go and do and eat whatever we want, but in the end? This is so worth all of it.

I feel like we've actually accomplished something great, that somehow with all the bad stuff that has come along, your father and I have managed to keep our shit together and keep you healthy. He's most definitely a part of this team. He watches out for both of us. He sets me straight when I get angry or sad or feel pitiful. He does it the most amazing way possible.

When I'm feeling down and want to rant and rave about how incredibly hard this has all been, he takes my hands and looks at me and says, "Thank you. Thank you for everything you do to grow our son. I know it isn't easy." And that is all I need.

It hasn't been easy. It has been appreciated. We did good -- no, we did awesome.

And with that bragging, welcome to week 38! We are really in the home stretch now, baby boy. We are officially in our last week of gestation. Tuesday is my next appointment with the OB. We're going to do a membrane strip (don't Google that until you're way, way older, ok?) with the hopes that it will send us into natural labor within 72 hours. If it doesn't work out, then we have our induction scheduled for October 9th.

I won't lie. I'm kind of hoping you come and we're out of the hospital before October 10th. Alton Brown will be in town doing a book signing. What? That's a big deal! Oh, and I am dying to meet your face.

This could, in theory, be my last blog entry before you are with us.

That is incredibly exciting!

The other day, your father came home from work and out of habit, he gave me a kiss and I flashed my big bare belly at him. He, of course, gave you some pats and said hello. This look came over his face and he said, "I just realized I may never see this again. Can I take a picture? I promise I won't put it on the internet." (Note: if anyone on the internet sees my husband posting a photo of a gigantic, glowing white ball that looks like the moon orbiting, let me know so I can yell at him.)

And it's true. Any day now, any day could be the day that you come.

Watching you move right now amazes me. I can see your butt pushing up the side of my tummy and I can watch your feet stretch my skin out. And soon, all of these parts will be in our arms instead. No more alien baby, no more hiccuping inside my gut 10 times a day,  no more gigantic tummy (but hey, thanks for the new stretchmarks anyway!)... just my beautiful son.

I flutter back and forth between incredible happiness and excitement to complete fear and shock. Mostly it's the happiness parts these days, thankfully. I can't help myself. I got into your room and sit in the rocker and breathe in the amazing smell of baby detergent on all of your things. Sometimes I just look into your crib and try to imagine what the world is going to be like with you sleeping in there.

I have nothing left to prepare in your room. Well, that's not entirely true. If your growth scan was correct, we WILL need to get some more newborn sizes and I'll need to wash those, but I'm still holding out on that until you are out and we know. I have an aversion to buying more clothes that you will only be in for a couple of weeks.

Welcome to the world of your kind of cheap mama!

Sorry this post was so disjointed, baby. My brain is not exactly functioning in a manner that is easy to organize my thoughts. I can't imagine it's going to get better before it gets worse, you know what I mean? All of these coming sleepless nights and frustrations.

I love you, sweet boy. I cannot wait to hold you and tell you in person just how incredibly special and important you are.