We got to see Otter’s cute face for the first time today.
How far along: 12 weeks
Total weight gain: -5 or so
Maternity clothes: I pull out my jeans on days when waist bands bother me.
Stretch marks: frack ton from the first go round. Trying a couple of home remedies to see if I can prevent more & hopefully heal some of the existing.
Sleep: bouts of insomnia. Starting a magnesium supplement this week, whuch y midwife recommended.
Best moment of this week: Christmas morning with AJ. Watching her really experience Christmas for the first time was incredible.
Miss anything: coffee. Mornings have been so difficult, that coffee doesn’t even sound good.
Movement: starting to feel slight flutters.
Food cravings: lemon things. Lemon Italian ice. Lemon sorbet. Lemon meringue pudding.
Anything making you queasy or sick: almost anything. Major triggers are diesel smoke & AJ’s diapers.
Have you started to show yet: just “popped” this last week.
Gender: thinking boy
Labor signs: nope
Belly button in or out: in
Wedding rings on or off: on
Happy or moody most of the time: mostly happy. A bit emotional & weepy during movies, shows & commercials.
Looking forward to: first real appointment with my new midwife.
Guest post by Auntie Kari
How does one put into words the wide range of thoughts and emotions wrapped around the addition of a precious little one? I was asked to, so I will try my best.
September: I guess this story starts the night they told us. We were having a family dinner at the house. Angela and Peter were visiting from Rhode Island. We were probably eating Mexican food. Conversation topics were all over the place. Angie and Peter’s wedding, school since they were both in school, Angie in art and Peter in medical. Peter was telling us about how his residency was going and his plans for what he was doing after. He and mom were talking about family practice and something was said about OB/GYN. Amy said, “Speaking of OB/GYNs… we’re pregnant.” There was a moment of shocked silence followed by murmers, elations and congratulations. I didn’t know quite what to think. It was very weird to think my sister is going to have a baby. For the longest time, I had to remind myself she was pregnant. Oh yeah, Amy’s having a baby. Then she started showing and getting rounder and rounder. Her baby bump was so cute! The first time I felt Panda kick was amazing. To feel life before I could see it made my heart so full of happiness. I already loved this little one. Auntie couldn’t wait to meet this precious life.
Mother’s day: We were all going to meet at Jasmine Mongolian grill for a Mother’s Day lunch. I was getting myself ready for the day, hair, make up, when Mom comes in my room and tells me Amy has gone into pre labor. I pause what I’m doing (putting foundation on, I think), look up with a semi blank stare and say “What does that mean?” After a short explanation I realize that Panda was coming soon. Like within the week, but mostly likely early in the week. Yeah, I started freaking out. I needed to pack an overnight bag. I started running around like a crazy woman. Trying to finish my make-up, pack, do my hair, and pack some more. My heart rate had gone through the roof. Reality finally sank in. My sister is having a baby!! I’m going to be an auntie. That’s so weird!
So the rest of Sunday….. Nothing.
Go to work Monday… Still nothing.
I really needed Panda to be born today because one of my coworkers had something on Tuesday so she couldn’t be there the whole day.
Go to work Tuesday… Open the doors at 6:30am, first kids come at 6:45am and the phone rings at 7:30ish. It’s Mom. Amy’s entered active labor and is heading to the Birthing Inn. Mom is getting herself together to head out. I instantly start freaking out internally. I’m at work, I’m in charge and I can only get part of the day covered. I call my coworkers to put them on alert. Mom calls again about 8:30 to tell me Amy is dilating quickly and that I should get there soon. My coworkers can’t get there until about 9. I prayed that I would be able to be there for the birth of my niece or nephew. As soon as my coworkers arrived, it was go time! This baby has until 1pm to come. Luckily work isn’t that far from the Inn, so I was there in less than 10 minutes, ready to cheer my sister and the baby on.
I’ve never been this close to anyone having a baby before so the experience was quite new. I have heard many stories of pregnancies and births, but never had it been this close to home. All the experiences were new, including The Birthing Inn. I’ve visited people after they’ve had babies so the atmosphere at the Inn was shocking (in a good way). It was nothing like I had seen. The room Amy was in looked like a bedroom with a big tub in it. A queen size bed, a night stand, an armoire. The weather decided to be sunny so light was coming in through the window. It was so cozy. It was relaxing, except for the pounding of my heart due to the excitement that had to be contained. I was so excited I could hardly contain it. I wanted to dance all around telling everyone I was going to be an auntie!! But per request of the parents to be, the birth was to be kept off all social networks till after Panda was born. So I kept my mouth, and thumbs, quiet while I danced in my heart and mind.
And then the waiting game began. Waiting for the baby, waiting for the next contraction, waiting for family to arrive, waiting for more contractions. Getting water, walking the halls, sitting in the tub (Amy did, not me), following different suggestions by the midwife to get labor progressing. Amy wasn’t really feeling the contractions when she was sitting or lying down. All the while my anxiety level is taking over my excitement. The clock is ticking and I had to go back to work at 12:45. I was praying and trying to hold back the torrent of emotions and tears. Time kept creeping closer to the time I had to leave but Panda still hadn’t arrived. I hurriedly gave kisses and headed back to a place I really didn’t want to be. As soon as I got in the car, the storm of my pent up emotions let loose. I started bawling and crying out to God. I wanted to be there for my sister. We had shared so much of life together. We had been there for each other through thick, thin, joys, sorrows, laughter and heartache. And now I was missing the biggest event so far.
During this time, we were on a Daniel Fast and my human emotional distress cravings couldn’t be satisfied with dark chocolate or a caramel macchiato. I composed myself a few blocks from work and prepared myself to be there. The kids were all sleeping so it was calm as I sat, tried to eat something and deal with the turmoil I was feeling.
Mom texted me a little after 2pm letting me know they were transferring Amy to St. Joseph’s hospital since labor had pretty much halted. I was bummed because I knew that is not what she and Jesse wanted. I knew she was going to be disappointed. Our ratio was scheduled to go down at about 3:30pm. I had all my things packed so when our numbers dropped, I could rush out. The kid’s pick up was earlier than scheduled, so at 3pm I was off to the hospital, which was only a few blocks from work. I frantically tried to get a hold of Mom or Dad so I knew where to go. After several tries I reached someone in the know, parked, and tried not to run into the hospital. When I reached the floor where Amy was, the waiting game continued. Waiting for some medical consent so they could give her Pitocin, waiting in the room, waiting in the lobby. By this time Amy had been in labor since Sunday morning and in active labor for over 9 hours. She was exhausted. As the medication kicked in and her contractions started with more intensity, her physical and mental exhaustion were very evident. She was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t keep warm. I watched the contractions come on intense and watch my sister try to handle it. It was really hard to watch. For once there was nothing physically I could do for her. I couldn’t carry any of the pain or the intensity. All I could do was sit there and pray. And pray I did. Hard. For renewed strength to come and satisfying rest in between contractions. The midwife came over and asked Mom if she thought Amy would be open to having an epidural. It would give her the opportunity to sleep and get some strength back so she could push this baby out. We the left the room so they could discuss the option and make a decision. She decided to go ahead with an epidural so more waiting began. Waiting for the doctor, waiting for her to sleep. Waiting, waiting. Sitting in the waiting area, playing random games on my phone, reading, sharing the one phone charger we had, walking around, eating, more sitting, more waiting.
After her nap and Jesse grabbed a bite to eat, she rested for about 15 more minutes, then push time! I texted dad, who was in the lobby, “We are getting ready to push!” and he answered with “Ok we are pulling!” It was really weird not knowing what to do. Mom and Jesse had her legs while the midwife and nurse were coaching and monitoring her. I stood by her head and with each push just stroked her head and prayed over her, labor and the baby.
Really, there are no words to describe the feeling when Panda’s head crowned, then came shooting out with one arm overhead, like superman. And the moment I realized I had a niece! WOW! I wanted to cry, laugh, jump, dance, shout it out and sit quiet to take it in all at the same time. They placed her up on Amy’s tummy and started rubbing her down. Her eyes were side open, taking it all in. I ran down the hall to announce to Papa Jeff, Grandma Sallee, Aunt Caryl and Uncle Jon, “IT’S A GIRL!!!!”
I had been planning to fix my Epiphone Les Paul for a while. I was finally doing it now that I wanted to sell it, which struck me as a pretty ironic thing. It’s like when people upgrade the kitchen to sell a house; it would have been a good idea to do so 10 years prior, when they could have enjoyed it. In any case, I had found the connection that was causing the pickups not to work, and was just finishing it up when Amy walked out at midnight on Saturday May 7 and said she was taking a bath because she was cold. Strong contractions were kicking in. We sat for a while, first in the bath and then the kitchen. We waited out the contractions together. One of the hardest things was not to ask if she was ok when the more intense ones hit, because I could see how much of a physical toll it was taking. It wasn’t as painful or difficult for me at that point, because I knew there wasn’t much to do except to ride out the wave, but asking “how are you doing?” was so automatic. I made a mental note to not do that when the real birth started.
We went to bed and slept in a bit, missing Phoebe’s baby dedication (but confident that the Wetzels would understand). As we started to get ready to meet Amy’s family for a mother’s day lunch, Amy lost her mucus plug, signalling that things actually were progressing. We thought that more progress would be forthcoming after we had lunch at Jasmine and walked around for a while. The contractions never fizzled out, but simply didn’t progress beyond random intervals without any consistency or uptick in intensity. We took a walk at the Tacoma nature preserve near Cheney Stadium, hoping that things would progress further, but didn’t see much change. Finally, we had dinner at Famous Dave’s. Our waitress said she had 3 women go into labor at her table so hopefully today would be our lucky day. Though it wasn’t, the food was delicious as always.
Throughout the weekend, we talked about Panda and how excited we were to meet her. I felt totally overwhelmed a few times but overall I was just excited about the prospect of finally getting to see and hold our baby. I couldn’t understand the experience of loving someone without having met them. I felt the weight of love and responsibility in being her father. I’ve pondered, too, what it would be like to have a boy, since I had always thought of Panda as a girl. The anticipation was tiring, and I kept hoping that things would kick into gear. By the time we finally got to bed, I fully expected Amy to wake me up in the morning on Monday and be heading in to the Birthing Inn.
When I woke up late at 6am, nothing had really changed; Amy was still having contractions but no significant increase in consistency. I decided to head in to work, since there didn’t seem to be any imminent indicatiors. Mom called me expectantly, providing Dad’s cell number and her extension at the school for the day so we could let her know when we would be going in. Amy made an appointment with the midwife for an exam. I fully expected to get a call after her appointment that I would need to leave for home, that she was at 5 cm and counting and there wasn’t much time to spare. However, I didn’t get that call. Amy was dilated between 1-2 cm, which meant that things were definitely moving and we were going to have the baby very soon, but there wasn’t really any rush to come home. In fact, she said, it was possible that it would still be a few days. I was a little disappointed. The waiting, I think, was the hardest thing; the continual state of alert is a strange place to be. “Hurry up and wait” is the phrase that probably best describes the experience. Grabbing the phone every time a message came in, only to have it be an email about random things that I couldn’t care less about at the moment, was fatiguing in a strange way.
Amy woke me up at 3:30am the next morning. She had been having strong contractions since midnight, she said, and had timed an hour’s worth of contractions that were about 4 minutes apart. I got up with her while she took a bath and timed again for a while. We started to get down into the sub-3-minute range and called the midwife. She asked Amy some questions and recommended that we wait a little longer. We slept for a bit. Amy got up to use the bathroom a couple of times and noticed a flow of blood that concerned us a bit. She called the midwife back and we planned to come in to Pearl Place for another checkup. While Amy was changing in the room before Kim, the midwife on call, got to the room, her water broke suddenly. Kim checked her cervix and Amy had made it to 7 cm before getting into the office. By the time we got settled down at the Birthing Inn, Amy had gotten to 9 cm and we thought we would have Panda by noon. Amy decided to get into the tub to get ready, hoping we could do a water birth, and I got in with her. As soon as we did, the contractions stopped completely. Full stop.
Over the next four hours we did everything we could think of to get the contractions going again: nipple stimulation, walking, lunges, stairs, ball, etc. Nothing we did got more than about one contraction every half-hour. After four hours or so, Kim told us that since nothing was progressing, we were going to need to transfer to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. Probably, she said, Amy’s uterus was just worn out after having contractions for 3 days and couldn’t get the rest of the way without some help. She left Amy and I together for a bit by ourselves. We cried about the birth we had hoped for and weren’t going to get to have. I told Amy how proud I was of her, that this wasn’t a failure on her part, and that we were still going to have Panda; we just weren’t going to have her there. I was so impressed with Amy’s strength in that moment as I watched her grieve the loss of what she had wanted so much and then wipe the tears away to get ready to transfer.
We drove over to the hospital and were able to laugh a bit. Emergency parking was full, and we excoriated the hospital for their lack of vision. Eventually someone left and we were able to snag the space (she was dressed in scrubs, and I’m fairly sure that employees aren’t supposed to park in emergency, so I didn’t feel too bad about taking it). We went in, did paperwork, wheeled Amy up to the 14th floor, and got settled in to the room. It was…a hospital room. There were machines. It was beige. There was a big oval window, one of the distinguishing features of St. Joseph’s at least from the outside, but the rest of the room was a fairly typical hospital room. It seemed to take forever for things to get going. We had to wait for Kim to get out of surgery to get the petosin started because we hadn’t signed something or other (I wasn’t really clear on what it was and I didn’t much care at that point; I just wanted to get our baby out and for Amy and I to get some rest).
Eventually Jennifer, our nurse, did start the petosin, and the contractions kicked in. And they were brutal. Amy was shaking uncontrollably every time one of them hit. Amy had been awake at that point for most of 17 hours, and her body wasn’t able to cope with the additional stress. Kim eventually suggested that we consider an epidural; that way Amy could get some sleep and hopefully gather the strength to push. She left us together for a while to consider it. Amy asked me what I thought we should do. I said I didn’t know. This was something we had hoped we would be able to avoid. As we were talking she had another contraction, and I wasn’t sure I could take it. I was afraid of what could happen to her, if the doctor missed and nicked her spinal cord, or if the epidural didn’t wear off, or any number of things; but the contractions induced by the petosin were so bad that she wasn’t going to be able to push through them either. My decision making ability was completely shot by then, and so I prayed, asking God for an answer as to what to do. I felt that his answer was that we needed to do it, to get this done. Amy said she didn’t disagree, so we let Kim know that we had decided to do the epidural.
Dr. Chen came in, and began explaining all the things he had to about the risks, benefits, what he was going to do, etc. I knew he had to go over all of it, but I desperately wanted him to stop talking and get the thing done. He had Amy lean over me, hunched so he could find the spaces in between the vertebrae to insert the anesthetic. While he was working, Amy had the worst contraction she had had so far. She was shaking, and I heard her stop breathing regularly and start to gasp, interspersed with sounds of pain, and I started to breathe regularly as loudly as I could. I didn’t think words would help her at that point, but I wanted to try to get her back to breathing through it. She heard me and began breathing again. Once the contraction had subsided, Dr. Chen finished and she was falling asleep before he left the room. I said I was going to go for a bit, to get out of the room for a change of scenery. Amy was already falling asleep, bit nodded and whispered “thank you”. I wasn’t sure if she meant for breathing with her, or for making the decision on the epidural, but I started to cry again. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally, from having her lean on me. The position I had been curled in to support her had taken a toll on my legs and my back, but I needed to move more than I needed to sit.
I went down to the cafeteria with Amy’s dad, and continued crying. I sort of laughed about it, because I wasn’t sure why I was crying. I was just mostly tired. We ate briefly, walked outside for a bit, and then went back up to the birthing floor. By then, Kim had returned, Mom and Kari were there, and Kim said that it was time to push. I held one of Amy’s legs and Mom held the other. Kari stood near her head. We waited for the contractions, and Amy pushed through them, one at a time. I could see Panda’s head starting to move through the birth canal and looking for egress. It was strange, I thought, that this wasn’t nearly as traumatizing as I thought it would be to watch Amy birth our baby. It was beautiful.
Finally, Amy pushed once more, and Panda was out, her left arm coming through along with her head. She cried almost immediately, strong, no cord around any part of her, completely free and open. I could see immediately that she was a girl; we had been right about her. They set her on Amy so she could see her, and I cried again. She was beautiful. Her face, which I had expected to be a bit squished from the journey, was fine; her eyes were open and taking in the world around her; her hands, feet, ears, everything was perfect. Even her head wasn’t strangely shaped, as our birthing classes had warned us might happen from the shifting of the plates in the skull during birth.
We named her Aravis Jade after the heroine of The Horse and His Boy, the fifth book in the Chronicles of Narnia. I couldn’t believe she was ours, and that she was here. She cried quite a bit in the first few hours, which was understandable given that she had been thrust from the warmth and safety of Amy’s womb into the cold air of a hospital room. I sang to her, anything I could think of (I remember specifically Blue Jean Blues by ZZ Top and The Longest Time by Billy Joel), and she seemed to enjoy it, or at least was interested in the sound. She was awake for hours watching and listening. I almost couldn’t believe that all the months of preparation had culminated in that moment, holding my daughter, seeing my bride smile at us. It was transcendent. It was mystical. It was miraculous.
We had our maternity photos taken by the lovely and super talented Stacy Wagoner.
We went down to Point Defiance park here in Tacoma & had the shoot in front of the pagoda and the Asian garden. A couple of weeks later, the pagoda was burned by an arsonist. We may have gotten some of the last photos in its original state.
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite shots.
“But it’s not logical, Jim.” – Spock
I hate emotions. They’re not logical. Pregnancy is a roller coaster of emotions. Ergo, I hate being pregnant.
Okay, okay. “Hate” is a little strong.
But I do strongly prefer the consistency of logic to the changeability of emotion. In the span of minutes, I can swing from excited to scared to happy to grumpy to sad to downright angry.
I wish I had been more consistent about blogging through the journey of pregnancy, but I’ve been so tired that it hasn’t been a high priority. It doesn’t bother me much, I just wish I’d had more energy. (Don’t we all?)
A lot of women enjoy pregnancy immensely. I am not one of them. I am blogging so that, if you’re like me, you know you’re not alone.
Live long and prosper.
(This was written almost 2 weeks ago. Things are slightly better now.)
… Actually, at the moment, no, I’m not.
If you’re only interested in the happy moments of pregnancy, please stop reading now.
This last weekend was rather emotional for both DLH & I. Given our shared proclivity towards black humor, we have jokingly referred to it as early-onset post-partum depression. While neither of us thinks that this is that serious, the emotional adjustment has been rather difficult of late. DLH has been irritable and quick-tempered and I have been alternatively weepy and grumpy.
We realized that we have a long way to go still in just learning to take care of ourselves, let alone adding Panda to the mix. This has led to some “What the heck were we thinking? We’re not ready for this!” emotions and conversations. (Are you ever? I don’t think so.)
On Saturday morning, as we were heading out to a wedding of all places, I stated, “I don’t want to have a baby any more.” DLH lovingly responded, “I think you do. Anyway, it’s a little late for that now.” My emotions have dulled into a state of resigned ambivilence since then. This baby is coming whether I think I’m ready or not, so I’m going to try to make the best of it.
But, if I don’t seem all that excited this week, it’s because I’m not.