April 13, 2015

my birth story, part two

the previous post left off at the moment i decided to get an epidural, but before i begin the last half of my birth story i need to make a shout out to my husband michael, aka mr. doula. i know that i could not have made it through contractions for as long as i did without an epidural if it hadn't been for my man. he was the most amazing birth partner and the way he cared for me made me feel so unbelievably loved. i believe him when he tells me he loves me but man, feeling it as this level was absolutely insane, in a really really good way. so good that maybe when we argue about who's turn it is to unclog the drain, i'll let him win. maybe.

back to my birth story!

once the anesthesiologist set up her station and prepped my back for the epidural, i curled into a ball as best as i could so she'd have a clear path to direct that huge needle where it needed to go as quickly as possible because i. hate. needles.  even getting the iv in was agonizing for me so the idea of an epidural was pretty terrifying but hey, when you've been enduring contractions for 36 hours, you gain a little perspective and a few minutes with a needle seems fairly tame in comparison.. unless you've had an epidural incorrectly placed. technically, you're not supposed to feel anything once the needle/catheter reaches the epidural space, but for whatever reason, every time the anesthesiologist thought the needle was in the right spot, i felt the most unpleasant, cringe-inducing pinch in my spine. those pinches were brief, but it was like accidentally biting down on tin foil and listening to nails on a chalkboard at the same time... in your spine. after a few tries the catheter was finally placed into a less cringe-worthy spot and firmly taped onto my back. now all i needed to do was lie down and wait for peace and painlessness to come.

only it didn't. at least, not on one half of my body. once the epidural has had time to take effect, a nurse will test numbness by running ice along your body in order to figure out just how far the anesthesia has reached. in my case, my right side felt the majority of the ice which was a concern because it meant that the epidural didn't take properly on my right, and my left side was numb up to my neck, which ended up being an even bigger concern as it apparently meant that my respiratory system was at risk. this meant that they had to reduce the dosage so that the anesthesia on my left half would recede to only the correct areas that should be numb, but this also meant that i would be feeling more of my contractions on my right side. still, some anesthesia was better than none and i did get a few hours of reprieve from full on contraction pain. 

a few hours and a couple progress checks later, the ob came in for another measurement to see how far along i was. since monday (it was now 5 am on a wednesday) i had been slowly dilating and had reached 7cm at the last check. feeling optimistic, my nurse and i jokingly placed bets on how far along i would be this time (8? 9?) until we looked over at my ob and noticed her frowning. she took her gloves off, placed her hand on my leg and told me that i had regressed to 4cm and instead of being effaced, my cervix was now swollen. my baby was too big to pass through and while we had a few other options, our best bet to get him out safely would be a c-section. talk about heartbreaking. to come this far (43 hours), to endure this much pain, only to end up with a c-section.. i cried. i cried a lot. we asked for some time and privacy to think it over and i cried some more. ultimately though, i agreed to the c-section and they immediately wheeled me to the o.r. for prep while michael waited in the waiting area. alone in the o.r. with the delivery team, they explained that since the epidural had not worked, they would be administering a spinal block, which meant that my legs would be completely numb, and i would be feeling zero pain. 

but that didn't happen either. 

once they laid me back down on the operating table, they tested the incision area by pinching my skin to ensure the anesthesia was in effect. again, my left side was completely numb, but my right still maintained sensation. they asked me if maybe what i was feeling was pressure, and not pain but no, it was definitely pain. they tried waiting for the meds to spread. they tried tilting the table head down to allow gravity to push the meds to where it needed to be. nothing was working, and time was running out. eventually, they explained that they would be injecting another local anesthetic directly into my right side and while they could guarantee that the first layer of tissue would be successfully numbed,  they were not sure about the subsequent layers and that if i started to feel pain that i should let them know and they would put me under (general anesthesia). all i could think was "how much time would pass from the time i felt pain from being cut open to being knocked out?" it was terrifying, to say the least. and did i mention that michael was still waiting outside? i was alone and frozen with terror, but i must have given some sort of affirmative signal as they ushered michael in and started with the surgery. 

that's my baby! all 8lbs, 12 oz of him

the pain i felt from my c-section was 100x worse than all of my contractions combined. when they remove the baby from your uterus during a c-section, you're supposed to feel tugging and pressure. after all, the incision isn't very big. but i felt very sharp, very strong, very real, pain. all i remember is screaming "is it over, is it over" repeatedly because each second was more unbearable than the next. once sj was out and getting checked/cleaned, the doctors told me to look over and focus on him, presumably to take my mind off the fact that i was being operated on and i could... feel it. and as much as i wanted to look at my newborn son and feel that euphoric wave of bliss hit me i couldn't, because of the constant, searing pain and the horrifying sensation of parts of my body being stitched back together.

the happy tears came a few minutes later, when they placed sj on my chest and he wrapped his little hand around my finger while i stroked his cheek. i remember looking up at michael and thinking how amazing it was that we were now officially, a family of three.

November 17, 2014

my birth story, the prelude

as is the case with most deliveries, sj's birth was not one without drama. and oh, the drama. it took me 6 weeks to get over the emotional and psychological pain from his birth. 6 weeks of nightmares every single night, 6 weeks of being unable to share my birth story without breaking down in tears. but now that 6 months have passed, i'm finally ready to document the most insane experience of my life!

but first, this is what i looked like on his due date. behind that smile, probably under that double chin,  was a desperate plea for my unborn baby to vacate the premises. immediately.

 before i begin, i would just like to thank everyone who ever told me i was 'all bump' and gained 'only belly weight'.. you are all wonderful, encouraging friends, and even better liars!

sj was born on april 30, early on a wednesday morning, 5 days overdue. i had been experiencing consistent braxton hicks contractions for quite a while, so by the time my monitoring appointment arrived on the monday before his birth i had high hopes that the hospital would tell me that those contractions meant that labour would be happening soon. the nurse who was monitoring my contractions told me that they were fairly strong, which encouraged me even more! little did i know, i would be experiencing 44 more hours of contractions before sj's birth.

yeah, you heard me. 

after the monitoring, they offered me a membrane sweep (heck yes!) and sent me on my way. then the fun started. the contractions were getting closer and closer together, and more painful with each one. i knew i wanted to labour at home as much as possible (to avoid unnecessary medical intervention! to have a natural, unmedicated birth! ) so i dutifully timed every single one in hopes that sooner, rather than later, the contractions would reach the desired 5-1-1. i barely got any sleep that night, due to equal amounts of both excitement and pain. the next morning i waddled my way to my ob for our regular weekly appointment, clutching my back and sucking in my breath every time a contraction came on. when she finally came into the examination room, she smiled and said 'looks like you're in labour!" what i wanted to say was "no sh!t, sherlock, you think?!" but what i really said was.. i don't remember what i said, i was in labour. 

after the check up, she offered me another membrane sweep to expedite things (heck yes!) and sent me on my way. then the real fun started. michael had planned to head back to work after the appointment, but at that point my contractions were so strong i didn't feel comfortable being by myself. so, i did what any grown woman would do.. i called my mama. in the 30 minutes it took for my parents to arrive at our home, my contractions escalated from me being able to articulate my pain level with real words to incoherent moaning at which point michael decided that going back to work was probably not the best idea. when my parents opened the front door they were greeted with the sight of me draped over an exercise ball, michael kneading my back and my father, not realizing the gravity of the situation, bent over and leaned in to my pale, sweaty face to ask me WHERE I WOULD LIKE TO GO FOR LUNCH. this makes me laugh now, and it made me laugh even then. i did want to punch him a little though - just a little. my mom busied herself in the kitchen to prepare a lunch for us to eat, while i alternated between the ball, the shower, the couch, the bed.. whatever position alleviated my pain for even a few moments. knowing that i would most likely not be eating much when we got to the hospital, i managed to force down a few spoonfuls of rice and soup, but the contractions were so intense i could hardly bear to stay seated at the table. at that point, we all agreed that it was probably time to head to the hospital. by the time michael and i actually got in the car, my contractions were 3-1-1 and i was.. concerned. what if i had waited too long? what if i didn't make it to the hospital? we made it though, just barely, and luckily we found a parking spot closest to the hospital entrance and waltzed right in. 

just kidding, michael asked if we could try and find street parking to avoid the high rates of the hospital parking lot and people, i agreed. we parked and let me tell you, that walk from our car to the hospital entrance felt like it was 100 miles long. i remember thinking that i might give birth on the sidewalk. but you know, it was worth it because we saved a whole $2 an hour on our parking.

now fast forward 10 hours or so because if you're not in it, labour is boring y'all. also, i was in so much pain during this period i don't really remember much, and thank goodness for that! i see now that this is why people opt to have additional children after the first.. your memory is blissfully wiped clean of the insane amount of pain endured during labour. by 11pm that tuesday night, i had already been in early labour for 25 hours, and 12 hours of active labour. i had refused pain medication up until this point, but my contractions were making me so nauseous (a feeling i absolutely distaste) i caved and asked for the sweet juice - an epidural.

and then, things got interesting..

October 28, 2014

the days are short

sometime during the haze of the first three months of parenthood, a friend told me

"while the days may seem long, the years are short.. so enjoy it!"

while some days certainly did feel like they would never end (along with the revolving cycle of spit up, poop and tears), i can happily say that most days since sj's birth have been too short, and have gone by far too fast. we're now just a few short days away from his 6 month half-birthday and i can hardly believe it! 

honestly, wasn't this just last week? oh wait no it wasn't, because a week postpartum i could barely move and was too sleep deprived to know my left hand from my right foot. more on that later..

the past 6 months have been such a blur and yet some moments are so clear in my mind i wonder if i'll be remember them forever (if i don't, that's what babies #2, 3, and 4 are for.. right?)

 i mean, how could i ever forget his 'marshmallows-stacked-on-a-stick' rolls.. i love each and every ounce of pudge on my boy!

or our first time swimming. i promise you he enjoyed it, although his face might say otherwise..

 or these sweet moments between father and son..

 his warm breath on my shoulder as i lull him to sleep (oh lord if i forget everything else please let me remember nap times forever!)

his little (and big) smiles that melt this mama's heart every time..

it's ok that the days seem short. i'm grateful for them when i encounter the long days that just seem impossible to get through. my only hope is that short or long, the memories from each day will stay with me for as long as possible. which, given the current state of my baby-brain, won't be very long.

oh well, c'est la vie!

December 13, 2012

bean, jelly bean

ok, calling for a temporary wedding post hiatus because 

1. it happened 5 months ago. it's time to move on
2. i'm sick of seeing pictures of myself (aren't you?)
3. whatever residual wedding energy i have left must be directed to thank you cards, which are way, way overdue. i know. I KNOW.

but most importantly, we have some far more interesting updates - like the expansion of the pak fam'!

without further ado, please meet

the bean. jelly bean.

perhaps a little back story? 

michael and i had always intended on getting a second pup (much to the dismay of our mothers, who rightly assumed that getting a fur baby would further delay the arrival of a human baby) and we were resolved on adopting one from a shelter #socialresponsibilityforthewin. we had also intended to wait until next spring, giving us time to settle into the everyday with one dog (luna) to assess whether we could really handle life with two.

 then in the beginning of september i checked luna's breeder's website, and this image dissolved all my resolve to adopt a puppy. 

then at the end of september, michael suggested an impromptu pit stop at the breeder's house on our way back from the okanagan, and this dissolved our resolve to wait until next spring..

just for the record, i would like to state that i knew this would happen. i warned michael that an innocent visit to the breeder would result in hopelessly falling in love with a puppy. seriously. there is nothing you can to do safe guard yourself from a shar pei puppy's charms! i knew this puppy would be ours as soon as i saw michael sharing a quiet moment with jb, in the corner, whispering sweet nothings into her ear as she dozed off in his arms. forget when he met me, this was real love at first sight, people!

we brought the bean home a month ago, and since then our lives have been filled with even more love, kisses and cuddles. 

as for luna, she loves her new sister.

maybe a little too much, as jb's airflow is quite often restricted by luna's tongue. 

but love is about give and take, right?

luna would just like to know how much more of this 'my leg is a chew toy' she must take.

November 23, 2012

the prep (pt. 2)

right after where we left off, it was time for my mom to come and zip me into my dress. 

ps if you're wondering, everything took place at our new home, which held so much more meaning to us than getting ready at a hotel. 

ps if you're also wondering, the wall are as blank as they were four months ago because i can't commit to hanging anything.

each bridesmaid helped with an aspect of my outfit.. 

which provided for plenty of 'kodak' moments..

 then my dad came in to see me and effectively killed the photo op, since he always makes me crack up, like this:

but we managed a tender moment after all, and i'm so glad this was documented!

 after my papa left there was a brief moment where i was alone in the room, waiting for michael to come up for our first look. 

i'd be lying if i said i didn't feel any nerves in my stomach!

and then he came in! but that's another post for another time..

all photos by the lovely morgaine of pure light studio