We don't tell anyone that we're TTC, but I really felt like I needed to get some ideas/thoughts out, so after I stumbled across these journals, I decided to start one myself. Hopefully having an outlet for what I'm feeling about this process will help me feel/be less crazy in my everyday life- lol!
Before my husband and I got married, talked about what we wanted in life, and made a few tentative plans. We got married young (I was 21 and he was 20), so we wanted to wait at least five years before having kids, so that we had time to enjoy just being married and get established in life a little bit first. We wanted to raise our children in the faith that we share. We weren't 100% sure about how many kids we wanted to have, but decided we definitely wanted more than one, and definitely not more than four. We also agreed that we would do whatever it takes for me to be a stay-at-home-mom. These are the things we wanted for our family.
So we graduated from college and got jobs. A few years later we bought a house and adopted two dogs from a rescue organization. I had been able to get back into horseback riding (something I had done since I was a little kid but had to give up during college and a year after graduation for financial reasons), and even co-owned a horse with a good friend of mine. We had been through ups and downs in our relationship and started to feel like the time might be right to think about starting a family. We prayed about it a lot, and decided we should start TTC right after Christmas, 2007.
I went off BCP the beginning of September 2007, but we continued to prevent using condoms at the recommendation of my doctor, to give my body time to adjust to going off the pill. So as we were approaching the time to start trying, we kind of panicked and decided to put it off for a few more months. We had always said that we wanted to take a big vacation- like a European cruise or something- before having kids, and it was something we hadn't gotten around to doing. So we figured, why not wait a few months to TTC, and take our big vacation? So on Thursday, January 31st, 2008, we went to see a travel agent and got info on possible vacation options.
Now that whole week I had been waiting for AF to arrive. I felt crampy and gross and basically like she was about to arrive at any minute, but she didn't. Two of my co-workers knew about this because I was a preschool teacher and had to get someone to come take my class every time I had to run to the bathroom thinking AF had shown up. On Friday, February 1st (the day after we had been to the travel agent, mind you), my co-worker convinced me that I needed to take a pregnancy test (my period was basically a week late at this point, and I'm usually very regular). I was pretty freaked out. There had been one time we hadn't used a condom because I had finished my period the day before and thought it would be fine- I thought there was no way I would ovulate the day after my period ended. So I picked up a pregnancy test on my way home from work, waited until my husband got home from work, and took it. BFP... pretty much instantly... no need to wait the three minutes or whatever it is. Despite the fact that I wanted to have children, I freaked out. We're talking hyper-ventilating here. It took me completely off guard and I just felt unprepared and downright scared! DH was totally excited and a little disappointed that I was freaking out.
Timing-wise, it's actually kind of funny. When we prayed about when we should start trying, we really felt like we should start right after Christmas, 2007. Even after we chickened out and put it off, when did I get pregnant? Right after Christmas, 2007. It's almost like God said, "Sorry kids, you had it right the first time!"
Okay, DH just came home from work and DD is fussing, so I have to go. So... to be continued, I guess!
Medically speaking, my pregnancy was great. I was healthy, the baby was healthy, there were absolutely no problems. But I really didn't enjoy being pregnant very much. I had morning sickness, which in my case should have been called 24/7 sickness, up into my second trimester. I know there are women who have it worse than I did, but I think any at all is more than enough! While I was soooooo grateful that we were able to conceive, and I enjoyed feeling the baby move, etc., I was pretty miserable being pregnant. I taught riding lessons up until I was eight months pregnant, which meant being on my feet 12 hours a day. While I was really thankful for the exercise that gave me, my feet hurt soooo intensely and I had a lot of joint pain as well. I was just ready to have the baby, basically.
My husband had wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise, but I absolutely had to know, and since I was miserable and barfing all the time at that point, he very kindly gave in and we found out that we were having a girl! I was so excited- I had really been hoping for a girl. Knowing what we were having helped it all seem real to me, and my type A personality appreciated being able to plan, buy girly things, etc. I had three wonderful baby showers and enjoyed celebrating our little girl with friends!
My due date was September 25, 2008 (which also happens to be my FIL's birthday). I was with an OB who was very supportive of my desire for natural childbirth, and the hospital was wonderful and also very supportive. The only problem- not being allowed to go past 41 weeks. They were more than willing to let me do pretty much anything else regarding my birth- intermittent monitoring, moving around, being in any position I liked, but induction at 41 weeks was the way it had to go. Like many first time moms, I went late. I did just about everything I could to try to induce labor (aside from castor oil- that scared me too much, but I probably should have tried it!) but nothing worked. At my 40 week appointment, I was 1cm dilated, 75% effaced, and the baby had been at -1 pelvic station for about two weeks at that point. The word uncomfortable does even begin to cover how I felt, lol!
I was scheduled for induction on October 2, 2008. I guess that's a good stopping point for now- DD just finished her breakfast so my few minutes of quiet are over!
So we were told to get to the hospital at 11:00pm on October 1, 2008 so that we could get checked in and start the induction right at midnight. They gave me cytotec vaginally to ripen my cervix, then left us alone and told us to sleep, and that they'd start pitocin in the morning. DH went to sleep (after complaining about how uncomfortable the pull-out chair was, of course. But I couldn't sleep. I lay there listening to my ipod and to the baby's heartbeat on the monitor (since I was in bed anyway, they went ahead and put the monitor on).
The cytotec gave me some minor contractions. They were only slightly more intense than the BH I'd been having, so I didn't think much about it. But somewhere around 4:30/5:00am the baby decided that she was not enjoying this whole contraction thing, and her heart rate dropped. Low. Really low. My nurse came running in and had me roll from side to side, gave me oxygen, etc. but her heart rate didn't come back up. My husband sort of woke up during this. My nurse called my doctor who told her to reach in and tickle the baby's head to see if that stimulated her. Let me just say, that was very possibly the most painful part of my entire labor. But it worked- the baby's heart rate came back up and stayed up. The nurse told me to try and get some sleep. My husband started to roll over to go back to sleep, and I freaked out on him. Hearing her heart rate drop had been really scary, and I felt like he wasn't taking it seriously. I asked him to call our doula (she actually isn't a trained doula, but I'm calling her that for lack of a better word. She's a family friend who has attended many births over the years and basically performed the role of doula for many women). The reason she wasn't already there with us was that since I was being induced and most of the action wouldn't start until the morning, I told her to get some sleep at home and we'd call her once things had actually gotten started. So she headed for the hospital, and I felt better knowing she was on her way.
Next, shift change for the nurses. This was when I got the only nurse/staff person in the entire hospital that I didn't care for. She was the one who started me on pitocin. I was free to move around, but had to check in with the monitors periodically. The problem was, this nurse had a hard time getting the monitor to pick up my contractions (and believe me, I was having contractions), so she kept turning up the dosage of pitocin. I was having excruciating back labor (even though my baby was in the optimal position), and the pitocin gave me tetanic contractions (basically one ongoing contraction rather than a rise and fall). That was pretty tough to deal with (remember I had no pain medication).
My doctor came in to check on me and decided to break my water (looking back, I should have asked her to wait, but hindsight is 20/20, so what can you do?) The amniotic fluid was tinged with meconium. After that my contractions got a lot more intense. To make a long story short, over the next several hours I continued to progress (slowly, but steadily), but the baby periodically had more heart rate decellerations. They did everything they could, but she was just not tolerating labor, right from the beginning, even before they gave me pitocin. At one point, they all rushed into my room saying we had to go to c-section NOW, but then her heart rate came back up and they decided to wait a little longer. I had finally given in after 7 or 8 hours of one continuous contraction and asked for the epidural (the anesthesiologist was about to give it to me when they ran in saying c-section), so after they decided to let me continue I went ahead with the epidural.
The baby continued to have trouble, so at some point (the timeline is not totally clear to me since I obviously had other things on my mind) they took me off pitocin completely and gave me a shot of something to stop the contractions, but it didn't work. Everyone was in agreement that we needed to go to c-section. They were just waiting for a c-section in progress to finish, then they would take me in (they have two OR's on the labor floor, but they only had one OR team, so they wanted to avoid calling a team from another floor if they didn't have to). I forgot to mention that at some point the nurse I didn't like got called away and replaced with one who was wonderful. So that was awesome. Anyway, about 20 minutes after I got the epidural, the baby's heart rate dropped AGAIN. Really, REALLY low. And it didn't come back up. The rolled me from side to side, I was on oxygen, they had pumped me full of IV fluids, and basically done everything they could at this point (and remember that I was no longer on pitocin AND on medication to stop the contractions). So they prepped me for surgery as fast as humanly possible, paged an OR team from another floor who came -literally- running as fast as they could. They left my husband behind in the room because he couldn't get all the stuff on fast enough (what they give you to wear over your clothes). There were ten or fifteen people RUNNING my bed down the hall, including the director of L&D. My husband told me afterward that when the baby's heart rate dropped that last time that made them all panic, my blood pressure also dropped really low. I have really low blood pressure on a normal day, so that's saying something.
Anyway, they got me into the OR (they told DH he'd have to wait outside) and I discovered from the anesthesiologist that that they were putting me under general anesthesia- didn't have time for me to get numb with anything else. That told me how serious everything really was. I'm actually really thankful that I didn't know sooner, because this way I only had about 30 seconds to freak out. The anesthesiologist was wonderful. No one else had time to talk to me about what was happening, but he reassured me that everything was going to be okay, asked if I had any questions, etc. Then he knocked me out.
Obviously I have no memory about what happened next. They got the baby out in about 30 seconds. Her 1 minute apgar score was a 2. But thank God, they suctioned her nose/mouth, rubbed her down, and she revived immediately. Her 5 minute apgar score was a 9. Apparently she pooped about five or six times between the OR and nursery. As soon as they were sure she was okay, they let DH in to see her while they were stitching me up. She was born at 1:54pm. She weighed 7lbs 6oz and was 20inches long. DH husband carried her to the nursery. After staying with her for a few minutes, he went outside to get some fresh air and let our families know the baby was born. Apparently he completely lost it once he got outside (I can count on one hand the number of times this man has cried in the almost eleven years that I've known him, but this was like the floodgates opening. He had thought he was going to lose both me and the baby). He pulled himself together and called his dad, his mom and stepdad, and then my parents. He was okay until he got on the with mom, then he promptly lost it again and she bawled along with him.
Meanwhile, I woke up back in my room. As soon as the nurse saw I was awake, she went to get my doula who was waiting outside my room. I asked her where my husband was and she said he'd gone out to get some air. A minute or two later DH walked in, and I swear his face was GRAY. So ironically, as I was lying in a hospital bed after 13 hours of labor followed by major surgery, I said to him, "You look awful!" At which point he kneeled down by the side of my bed, laid his head on me and started crying again. Poor guy. I reassured him and then asked the nurse something like, "Do I have a baby?" I was pretty groggy. She immediately called the nursery and they said they had gone ahead and bathed her since I was still out from the anesthesia and they were just finishing up. My doula left at this point... I think... again, groggy and out of it. A couple of minutes later they brought my daughter in. She was perfect- absolutely nothing wrong with her. And she was PISSED that she hadn't been fed yet! Lol! I so appreciated that they nurses respected that I was breastfeeding and didn't give her formula even though I was out from the anesthesia. The nurse who brought her in said she'd give us a few minutes to get to know each other and then come back to help me feed her. But after about a minute my little peanut let me know that she was not going to wait any longer, so I just started feeding her (I had educated myself as much as possible on breastfeeding ahead of time). She a great, latch, a REALLY strong suck, and never had any problems. I, on the other hand, was very sore for the first couple of weeks (they had warned me that with suck a strong suck it was likely to happen), but that went away and I nursed her for a year, until she weaned herself.
On a humorous side note- my husband and I had actually chosen two names (complete with middle names) for our daughter. We were pretty sure we were going to go with Caitrin Elizabeth, but we decided to wait until we saw her to make our final decision. Under the stress of the moment, DH totally forgot about this and told EVERYONE that her name was Caitrin Elizabeth. So when I woke up, the news was out to the world and I was like, "Huh. So much for waiting until we BOTH got to see her!"
Our first visitor that evening was my brother. He had been on my case for quite awhile about giving him a niece or nephew, so he was very excited. While he was still there, four of our closest friends came. We were the first to have a child, although the other two couples have since followed suit . Over the next few days we had lots of visitors, and felt very loved by our family and friends. We took our daughter home on Sunday, October 5th.
If you made it through that marathon story, bless you .
So why am I posting my first birth story (in detail) on my TTC journal?
Because it's a big part of what I think about when I think about having a second child. Pretty much all moms know that the postpartum period can be difficult, especially with a first child when you have no idea what to expect. Through in some post traumatic stress syndrome and you've got yourself a really good time. It took a long time for me to start to heal from my daughter's birth. I had nightmares about hearing her heartbeat drop on the monitor for months after she was born. I had to come to terms with the fact that we almost lost her. I had to come to terms with the fact that my birth did not go the way I had hoped it would.
Grieving the expectations of what you had wanted for your birth is so important to do, although not easy and not often acknowledged in our society. I kept getting the, "you have a healthy baby and that's all that matters" line. Yes, having a healthy baby and mommy is the MOST important thing about a birth experience. But it doesn't mean that it's the ONLY important thing, and it doesn't mean that a traumatic experience doesn't affect you just because it had a happy outcome. I thank God every day that our daughter came into the world alive and healthy, but I still had/have to deal with the way it happened.
It didn't help that I knew about a million other people who were pregnant at the same time as me (believe me, this is only a small exaggeration... there were a lot). All around me people were popping out babies with no trouble. Not only going into labor on their own, but EARLY even! Vaginal birth? No problem! I felt like a failure. I felt like it was all my fault and I had put my baby through something terrible by allowing myself to be induced. Several things have helped me find some peace in this. One is simply the passage of time. It still stings, but not as badly as it did. Another is the fact that the first heart rate decel happened BEFORE the pitocin was started. A friend who went into labor on her own (and received no medications/interventions) had an eerily similar birth story to mine- while of course I was sad that she also had a difficult time, it was reassuring (in an odd way) to know that a baby can have the same reaction and not tolerate a natural labor as well as an induction. My doctor assured me that I would have no trouble having a second baby and that I was an excellent candidate for a VBAC. One of my best friends said some things to me that really helped. Gradually, healing started.
I still get very emotional when I think in depth about my daughter's birth, and there is still a little bit of hurt there. There may always be. My daughter's birth obviously impacted my life hugely. It changed every second of every day since she was born. But the way she was born has also impacted my life. All experiences do. You can chose to learn from them and grow from them, or you can let them make you bitter, angry, afraid, etc. But it's ridiculous to think that it doesn't change you/affect your life at all. I hope that I have chosen to learn from and to grow from this experience. I think that acknowledging it, knowing that most definitely has a part in shaping not only decisions I make about a second birth, but the entire TTC process and pregnancy will make this part of the healing.
So, after all that, here we are. Ready (or as ready as we'll ever be) to start trying for number 2. I'm excited and scared. Terrified might be a better word here, actually. Will I be able to get pregnant? Will I be sick again like I was last time? How will I make it through a pregnancy if I'm exhausted keeping up with our daughter when I'm NOT pregnant?! How will I be able to take care of two kids as well as everything else when I can't even keep up with the laundry now? How can I divide my time and attention between two kids so that they both feel important and loved as individuals? And the list goes on. You get the idea.
It freaks me out. And we only plan on having two kids. I have no idea how moms out there do it with 3,4,5,6.....
Right now, let's focus on question #1. Will I be able to get pregnant? Until recently, I wasn't too bothered about this one. We had gotten pregnant so easily (insert the word "unintentionally" here) last time that I wasn't too worried about it. Then I went off birth control the beginning of September. I had a normal period at the end of last birth control pack, as you would expect. Well, I should have gotten my next period on Wednesday. Two days ago. So far, nothing except for a few light cramps that have come and gone with nothing to show for them. I know that being two days late the first cycle after going off birth control is pretty normal and nothing to worry about. Especially since my cycles pre-pill were always longer than 28 days (consistent, just longer). I can't remember if this happened the last time I went off the pill. DH says yes, but I don't think so. I thought I went off the pill and my cycles went right back to normal, but he swears I was late and freaking out like I am right now. So who knows. And just in case anyone out there is thinking it... no, I am not already pregnant. I am POSITIVE. Not going to go into details, but let me just assure you that it would be impossible.
So I guess I'm playing the waiting game. Waiting for AF to show up. Waiting for some time to pass and my body to get back into the swing of things so we can start trying. Just waiting. Have I mentioned that I hate waiting?
So the plan is (assuming that AF shows up at some point), we will stop preventing and start actually trying as of December 1, 2010. The original plan was January, but I got impatient and moved it up (DH would have been okay with it if we had started trying six months ago, so he had no objection). If I were to get pregnant on the first cycle, that would give us a September baby, and the kids would be just about 3 years apart (2 years 11 months to be exact... close enough). We've said for a long time that we'd like them to be spaced somewhere in the 3-4 years apart range.
I can't deny that the thought of being done with pregnancies isn't a welcome one. While I am looking forward to that special time with the baby, and I really do WANT to get pregnant, there are a lot of other parts of it that I'm not looking forward to. And as much as I am sooooo excited to meet the 4th and final member of our family, I am scared to death to do the whole newborn thing again. That period of time is equally magical, exhausting, and terrifying. Yikes. What am I getting myself into?! This is going to be a wonderful thing... right?
So today is CD 32 and still no sign of AF. I know it's normal to have a wacky cycle immediately after going off of BCP, so I'm trying not to freak out. I have never wanted AF to show up so badly! My body just feels off... I've had a couple instances of minor cramping, but then nothing. I just feel weird and want to get AF so I can feel normal. And I'm still 100% convinced that I'm not pregnant, so I KNOW that's not it. That would be nice, but just not possible.
CD 33. Ugh. I feel so gross. Just want AF to show up. This may be TMI, but this weekend DH and I didn't even bother with prevention when we DTD. I figured there was no point. I'm honestly surprised that AF hasn't started yet because I really do think that I ovulated this month... I wasn't full out charting or using OPK's, but I was keeping track of some signs, and I'm almost positive that it happened. Maybe it was later than I thought? I don't know, but it's driving me crazy. Having a nice weekend to try and keep my mind off it. Yesterday DD slept in until 8:30 (a very rare event), and it was my "morning off" so I stayed in bed until almost 10, then drove out to the barn to see my horse. I came home to DD taking a long nap and DH baking a fancy chocolate cake and a new bread recipe. The three of us went out to dinner and then came back and played with DD until bedtime. After that I watched a movie and went to sleep. This morning I got up with DD, we went to church, and now it's nap time. This afternoon we're meeting up with my brother and going to an art exhibit at the botanical gardens, then DH is making his amazing homemade pizza for dinner. Between the cake and the pizza, and I'm going to be fat! Lol! Guess I will definitely have to get to the gym this week. Here's hoping SOMETHING happens with AF this week!
Today is CD 34. Yesterday afternoon/evening I had some light (very light) spotting. It wasn't much, but it's making me more hopeful that AF is going to show up soon (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease). So that is all the news I have on that front. We had a really nice weekend, and this morning I'm taking the munchkin to the zoo to meet up with a friend of mine from college and her daughter, so that should be fun. My friend is going to be having baby #2 in about a week and a half (scheduled c-section) so we wanted to get the girls together for one more play date before she has the baby.
So I'm pretty sure this is a universal kid thing- they have a fairly consistent schedule, EXCEPT for the day you have plans at a specific time. Then they will throw everything off for that day to make things way more complicated. Usually DD sleeps to about 7am. 7:30 if I'm lucky. Today, she wakes up at 5am. It's rainy and pitch black outside still. There is NO WAY I'm getting up for the day. So I change her diaper, find her paci for her, get her settled back down, etc. and inform her that I'm going back to bed. She didn't cry, but I could hear her rolling around in her bed, kicking her legs, etc. so I had a hard time going back to sleep. At about 6:40 we both go back to sleep... then my alarm went off at 7:00. I usually don't even set an alarm, I just get up whenever she does. But today because we're meeting friends at the zoo I had to get up and shower before DH got up for work at 7:30. So I am feeling kind sleepy. Hopefully she will take a good nap today and I can take one too! I know this isn't really a big deal (especially compared to when she was a newborn), but I've just been feeling run down lately, so any and all sleep is appreciated. I think I've been fighting off a cold. Well, time to get DD dressed and head to the zoo!
Just a quick update- today turned out to be CD1! AF decided to show up! I don't think I've ever been so excited to start my period before. It's just reassuring to get that first period after going off of birth control. And even though I'm having cramps, I feel so much better... just more normal.
DD and I had a great morning at the zoo, then she took an almost 4 1/2 hour nap (!) and I took an almost 2 hour nap! Definitely a good day.
So last night I got a reminder how delightful cramps can be when I'm not on the pill (debilitating cramps was the reason I went on the pill in the first place, when I was 19). I am not exaggerating when I say it feels exactly like being in labor. Back labor, no less. It was pretty bad, but definitely not as bad as I've had in the past (I've been known to throw up, pass out, etc. due to severe menstrual cramping). So I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night. But I'm still so happy that I at least started my period. Here's hoping that we can get pregnant on the first try so that I don't have to keep dealing with these cramps! This will be the last cycle that we're preventing!!! So crazy.
We have been having some crazy weather today. A cold front moved in with the usual Tennessee drama. It started out downright hot this morning (I dressed DD in a tank top, if that tells you anything). We've had crazy winds, random downpours that start and stop without warning, tornado watches, etc. DD and I made our weekly grocery run (it's usually a Monday chore, but with our big day at the zoo yesterday it got postponed) and just barely missed the storm. It was really windy, rained while we were in the store, rained a little on the drive home, and then started downpouring as soon as I got the last grocery bag into the house! Now it's cold out!