Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I actually don't think I'm going to get a job when I grow up. I'm just going to live here." 
-Joshua Burdullis, age 6

Should I be worried???

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The First Month

Well, here I am over two months since writing last. And now I'm working on two entries in the same day. Tomorrow will be one month since the birth of our new daughter, Veronica Margaret Burdullis. Time is so strange; moving slowly in some moments and then faster than I can fathom.

Veronica was 8 pounds 14 ounces when she was born. Four days later she had lost a little weight as most babies do their first week. She was 8 pounds 9 ounces. Ten days later she weighed 10 pounds 8 ounces. And this morning I got on the scale with her and she is over 13 pounds! I've already had to begin putting away some of the clothes she has outgrown. A little bittersweet. Happy to see that my milk is doing its job and that she's healthy. Sad to see that it is already going by so quick.

Needless to say, she is growing very quickly and thriving. She is already smiling at me occasionally and has become much more alert in the past week. She enjoys hearing me sing and will stare up at my face with wide, doe eyes and a look of such intensity and love. One night, I was rocking her to sleep and she was gazing at me in this way. I thought that I might be distracting her and keeping her awake, so I hid my face from her. She immediately began crying. When I was in view again, she quieted and stared once more. I did this a few times and each time she would begin crying. I am totally in love with her and apparently, the feeling is mutual.

Our first week was spent with non-stop nursing. Hence all the growing.  When I was telling this to Jenny, she wondered aloud why God designed women so that their milk doesn't come in for a few days. I thought about it and although it was frustrating at the time, I saw the beauty in it. It means that for the first several days, mother and baby spend almost all of their time bonding. And it forces mom to sit and rest so that she can begin recovering from the birth.

The past weeks have been unpredictable. I am usually a schedule kind of girl and of course there just isn't one right now. And there are times when I am eager for a schedule, when I am anxious for the days when Veronica will sleep through the night, when she will be able to communicate with me in other ways than crying, when she won't need to be settled back down when she spits up for the millionth time, when my clothes and her clothes won't be perpetually damp, when I feel like I can make plans with a bit of certainty, when I can give a more equal amount of time to Joshua, Noah and Jason, when my body looks back to normal, etc, etc, etc.

But there is a beauty in having several children that makes it easier to put these anxieties aside. I've been through it before. I know what to expect. I have more confidence. And hopefully without sounding arrogant, I am a better mom than I used to be. It's a natural process that occurs. The longer you practice something, the better you become. This doesn't mean that I think I am Supermom or anything. I believe this happens with all mothers. For the past six years, I have worked on skills that help immensely when adapting to life with a newborn: flexibility, patience, time management, staying calm in the midst of chaos and being more comfortable with lowering my standards when needed.

People have asked me how I am doing many times over the past month. Why is it that I want to make life sound harder than it is? I feel self conscious admitting just how happy I am. I find myself giving answers that focus on my tiredness because I feel like people's assumption is that life is really hard right now. But really, it's not. Life is great. I have never felt so much joy as I have the past month. I'm really not that sleep deprived. Veronica wakes two or three times each night, but I am usually back to bed within thirty minutes. And I am better at dealing with my tiredness. My body has recovered quickly. I have continued to have a parade of friends and family bringing us meals and gifts. The parade is ending this week, but after such a long break from cooking, I am excited to begin again. It's one of my favorite things.

Life is so good. For the past six years, I have also continued to work on living in the moment. It's a lifelong journey, but I have definitely gotten better. And just as I did not want to wish away the last five weeks of pregnancy, I am making that conscious effort once again. Sure, I'm tired. Sure, I can get overwhelmed. And most definitely sure, I can get hormonal. Just ask Jason. But that's all part of it.

And most of the time, I am really enjoying it.

When Veronica Was Born . . .

The birth was wonderful. It sounds odd, doesn't it? Of course there was pain. A lot of it. And it was long; beginning on Saturday evening and Veronica being born on Monday morning at 6:10 am. I was hoping that this one would be shorter than Noah's 30 hour labor, as subsequent births are often shorter. Not so much. We went for longer.

On Saturday, Joanna and Alicia had come by to give Joshua a birthday present. We ended up renting some movies and they were going to stay for dinner. Well, at about 4:30 pm, the contractions began. First at about fifteen minutes apart and by about 8:30 pm, they were about every three to four minutes. The pain was manageable. But because they had gotten so close together, we went to the hospital which is thankfully only about ten minutes away. I was only two centimeters dilated, so they had me walk around for an hour to see if I would dilate further. As I walked around, the contractions continued to be just as frequent and the pain grew more intense. After an hour, the nurse checked again and I was just sure that all of this pain must have done something. Nope. Two centimeters.

They gave me some morphine and sent me home. The hope was that I would sleep all night due to the morphine and let my body do the work, waking up in the morning with much progress made. Like maybe I would even give birth in my sleep! Well, none of that happened. The morphine helped me to sleep for the ten minute car ride home. But that was it. For the rest of the night, I moaned in bed with each contraction. By the morning, I had made no progress and the contractions had slowed down to every ten to fifteen minutes apart. Erg.

By about 4:00 pm on Sunday, we were back to every three to five minutes. We called the hospital and the nurse instructed me to drink a lot of water and lay down on my side for an hour. If the contractions let up some, this was not real labor. Well I did as I was told and the contractions did not slow down. Jason called and we were told to come to the hospital again.

When I stood up after lying in bed for that hour, the contractions immediately became much worse. Tenfold. These were not really manageable anymore and I was a little worried that we had waited too long before going back to the hospital. I tried to breathe through them, but it was nearly impossible. Jason helped me to the car and on our way, I noisily threw up in the yard, giving our neighbors quite a show. The car ride seemed like an eternity, each bump in the road causing more pain. The walk from the parking lot to the maternity suite also seemed to take forever, as I had to stop and hold onto Jason with each contraction and could only walk at slug pace. When the elevator door finally opened, the charge nurse took one look at me and said, "Yep, she's in labor."

I was immediately admitted and was thrilled when the same nurse from the night prior, Rachel, was quick to ask what my plans were for pain medication. My plans? Umm, yes please. At some point since Noah was born, I had it in my head that I might try for a natural birth. But I was honestly very relieved at the beginning of this pregnancy when my doctor let me know that because this would be a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), they would really prefer me to have an epidural. This way, if I needed to have an emergency c-section, the line would already be in for the anesthesia. So I had an epidural purely for safety's sake. Oh, and also so that I wouldn't strangle anyone.

At this point, I was only at three centimeters. 

So, why wonderful? Well, for many, many reasons.

While we waited for the epidural, Jason made some phone calls and my mother and my dearest friend, Jenny, were on their way. This may need some clarification. Yes, my mom and Jenny were in the room during the birth. And I don't want to sound defensive or anything, but most people's reaction when they hear this is, "Why?" Well, for support. And in no way does this mean that Jason does not provide enough support all by himself. He has always been a complete rock star during our children's birth. But can you have too much support? It's like saying you have too much love or too many friends. Jason and I made the decision together to ask Mom and Jenny if they would be there. And afterward, Jason and I both agreed that it was wonderful to have them there.

This is not as uncommon as many seem to think. Did you know that women started giving birth in hospitals at the beginning of the 20th century? That's only about the past 150 years. Well, in the history of mankind, that's not really very long at all. And before hospitals, women would give birth at home, often in the presence of other women in their family or community. In many cultures today, it is still very common for women to have other women present at the births of their babies. And while Jason's presence and support is vital and irreplaceable, the presence and support of women who've experienced labor before is wonderful in a different kind of way. It's icing on the cake.

I like the comfort and security of a hospital, which is even more necessary because I have had a cesarean. Also, it's like a mini vacation. It is wonderful to be taken care of by the nursing staff not only during labor, but for a day or two afterward too. So for me, the perfect environment is to give birth in a hospital with not one, not two, but three loved ones supporting me. I am one lucky girl.

Mom and Jenny arrived and shortly after, the anesthesiologist arrived and I received the fabulous epidural. They both had to leave the room while it was administered and I am sure that I looked like a completely different woman when they returned. With the epidural, I began progressing more and dilating further. Then I reached 9 centimeters and stopped. We waited and waited and waited. Hours went by. Still 9 centimeters. At 9 1/2 centimeters, the line for my epidural began slipping out. The contractions were once again becoming unbearable and I had a lot of fun convincing the anesthesiologist that yes, the epidural was no longer working and yes, she needed to readminister it. Once she finally did, I dilated to 10. Thirty-seven hours after we'd begun.

The pushing was a piece of cake. Ten or fifteen minutes later, Veronica was born. I could not believe that it was a girl. I definitely did a double take. In fact, I'm still not used to it. I often still think "he" and "him." It's just what I'm used to calling my children. We were all so ecstatic, with Mom, Jenny and I sobbing, and Jason proudly cutting the cord and later handing her to me; the doctor and nurse both said it was one of the happiest births they've ever experienced.

Veronica let out the initial cry of a baby entering the world. But then for a long time, she was quiet. Not in a way that was concerning or worrisome. She was perfectly healthy and received an 8 on her APGAR. But in a peaceful, serene way. Believe me, she's made up for it at home.

When they weighed her and announced that she was 8 pounds 14 ounces, I replied, "She's tiny!" The doctor and nurses were surprised, but I explained that our first boy was 9 lb 14 oz and our second was 9 lb 6 oz. We all laughed.

We stayed at the hospital until Tuesday afternoon. During that time, Veronica proved to be a pro at nursing. On Monday afternoon, much of my family came to visit. My brother Jeremy drove over from Pullman and Kristen came down from Bellingham. My sister-in-law, Kristal, brought Joshua and Noah to the hospital to meet their sister. They all then went to my parents' house for a birthday party for Veronica, complete with an ice cream cake and a "0" candle. Tuesday was spent seeing doctors and nurses and waiting to be discharged, after which we met my parents at our home where they brought us dinner.

I would like to finish reiterating that it was a wonderful birth. Sure, there was pain. It hurt like hell. Sure, it was long. It seemed like it would never end. But it did. And the birth of a child is one of the most beautiful and amazing and Spirit-filled moments you will ever experience. For nine months, you wait for it. Honestly, at times I am sad that it's done. It's like the end of your wedding. You're so happy to be married, but your big day is gone. There is such anticipation in the arrival of a new baby, I think that was even more enhanced because we didn't know the gender. It's sad to know that you have lived one of the most special times that you ever will and that it's no longer ahead of you, but behind you. Nothing will bring back that moment. Not that I want to be pregnant again. And I'm obviously thrilled that Veronica has arrived. But there is just nothing like having a baby. I don't want to forget anything. And I'm glad, that as long as this entry is, it will help me remember. And that Veronica will be able to read how joyfully she entered the world.