Monday, August 11, 2008

Journey's End

Well, we've reached the end of PK's journey from the womb to the real world. It has been an incredible journey, and I am a little sad to be leaving this blog. It has been a blast sharing my pregnancy experiences online, and I am grateful to have had some regular readers.

Even though PK is now out in this crazy world of ours, there's no reason to stop blogging, which is why I've started a new blog called PK Land. Please feel free to drop in and read about PK's adventures out in the real world!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

PK is Born!

As I mentioned in my last post, we went to the hospital early on Wednesday morning because I was getting some regular contractions.

After I posted that last entry, my contracions suddenly got stronger and more frequent and I badly needed to sit on a toilet to feel better. After I got out of the washroom, I sat for a bit before having an uncontrollable urge to use the loo.

The pain was completely unbearable and I was re-considering the epidural. I hated myself for even thinking that because I was so passionate about having a drug-free birth.

That thought didn't last too long, because I was suddenly overcome my the urge to push! Small detail: I was still sitting on the toilet!

Out of desperation I called for help. The nurse burst into the bathroom and whisked me from the toilet to a bed so she could check how dilated I was. Turns out I was 7cm dilated from 2.5cm just one hour earlier!

I was quickly taken from triage to the labor room. By the time I got there, I was 8cm dilated, and was full-on screaming and swearing. It hurt THAT much! I was told not to push yet because I wasn't fully-dilated. I told them I needed to push ASAP, so they checked me again and this time I was fully-dilated. It was showtime.

My doctor arrived just in time for the pushing phase. I tried to do the J-breathing that we were taught in HypnoBirthing but my doctor insisted on my pushing by taking a deep breath and pushing like I was crapping. I was so afraid that by doing this, I'd wind up with burst blood vessels, but that didn't end up happening. Needless to say, it took a while for her to come out because of our slight clash. By the end of it, however, I just wanted her out and was ready to try just about anything. At one point, when PK's head wasn't fully out, I asked if they couldn't just yank her out. The doctor responded by saying that that's not how things worked. Phooey.

Unfortunately, I wound up needing an episiotomy because she wasn't coming out fast enough and her heart rate was slowing down. Needless to say, I wound up with a few stiches. So much for those perineal massages! I feel okay right now and can pee on my own with minor pain. The only thing is that I feel like someone tore me a new butt hole. Yes, very pleasant imagery, isn't it? I just hope that the recovery period is kind to me.

In the end, PK made it out. It was the most curious sensation. It was like passing a giant stool after months of serious constipation. All of a sudden my belly went from super-inflated to just flattening all of a sudden. I still have a bit of a pooch in front, but I'm told that my uterus is contracting nicely.

PK, by the way, was born at 6:43am and weighed in at 7lb 4oz. She is 52cm in length and is breat-feeding very well. She is an absolute angel who seldom ever cries and loves to be swaddled.

Since she was born so fast, the GBS antibiotic treatment was never properly administered. This means that hospital staff needed to run some tests to make sure that she is okay. So far the first test went fine. We will get the results of the second test sometime tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, I'd better get some rest. PK is sleeping so that's my cue too! I'll post a photo of her once I get home.
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In Labor!!!

Well, I'm at the hospital waiting out my contractions. Although I was 2.5 cm dilated when they checked me, my contractions have been very frequent and very painful. On top of that, my water broke about 10 minutes after I got here. Since I'm GBS-positive, that's reason enough for them to keep me here.

My water breaking was a curious sensation. I felt a "pop", followed by an annoying trickle. I thought that I'd peed myself, until I realized what was actually going on.

My contractions right now are downright unbearable, but I'm hanging on, doing the slow breathing that I learned in HypnoBirthing. Easier said than done! One thing that helps is sitting up during contractions while breathing and rubbing my lower abdomen. Another was sitting on the toilet, since my bowels are being pressured like mad! Strange, a little gross, but effective!

Right now I'm freaking exhausted and could really use a nap. If only my contractions weren't so close together...
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The Real Deal?

As I write this, the hubby is driving us to the hospital and I am currently getting over a nasty-ass contraction. It's 2:44am, and the roads are eerily quiet. At least it means that the drive to the hospital will be quick!

I hope that this is the real deal because I'm in a whole lot of pain and my bowels feel like they're going to explode. Pleasant thoughts, eh?

I feel another one coming one, so this is my cue for exit. Maybe the next update you get will be to say that PK has arrived! Either that or there will be an angry post from me saying that we were sent home. :P
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Counting Contractions

Ever since I got back from the doctor today, it seems that my contractions have gotten stronger and a little more regular. At this point, however, I can't say with confidence that this warrants a trip to the hospital.

Being the geek that I am, I started noting the contractions on my BlackBerry. The hubby, being an even bigger geek has decided to post the numbers on MS Excel and has even gone as far as plotting a graph of my contractions! I'll have to post the Excel worksheet later because it's too friggin' hillarious!

As my contractions get stronger, I'm finding it harder to do anything else other than just try to breathe through them. A friend of mine who had recently had a baby said that one of the most beneficial things she did while in labor was uttering a low grunt while breathing out.

I've gotten pretty creative in dealing with my contractions by uttering "mooooo" as I breathe out. I figure that I might as well have fun with it.

Well, gotta run. I'm in the middle of managing a contraction. We'll see what comes of this...
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Dilation Update

I got back from the doctor's office a couple of hours ago, and in spite of my more frequent and painful Braxton-Hicks contractions, my bowels feeling like they're turning inside-out, my mucus plug passing and having the bloody show yesterday, it turns out that I'm only 1 cm dilated. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!! I really need to learn to relax, don't I? ;-)

False Alarm

Last night I almost ended up in labor and delivery triage. I was up late, messing around on the computer, when I started noticing some contractions. What caught my attention was that they seemed to be pretty frequent. So I started keeping time of when each contraction started. This was just after 1am. By 2am, it looked like the contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart, but I still went to bed. By 3am I started worrying that I might be going into labor, since the contractions seemed be 2 minutes apart, and they seemed to be stronger.

I called labor and delivery triage at my hospital, to ask if I should come in. They said that I probably should, so I woke up the hubby and I started getting ready. That's when I noticed that the contractions had suddenly become less intense and less frequent. It was starting to look like a false alarm. The hubby and I stayed up a bit longer to time some of the contractions and consulted our pregnancy books for some words of wisdom. After about 30 minutes, we realized that the contractions were lasting anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds, and that the time between contractions wasn't regular enough - anywhere between 2 and 7 minutes. Needless to say, we aborted our trip to the hospital.

I have a doctor's appointment a little later today, so I'll probably have him check under the hood to see how things are progressing. Maybe he'll even monitor my contractions to see if it warrants going to the hospital. Even if my doctor determines that PK is not ready to come out just yet, I don't think it will be much longer than one week until PK pops out.

Fearful

As L-Day approaches, I'm starting to feel some anxiety. The anxiety isn't around the labor itself. Nine months ago, if you'd asked me, I would've said that I was terrified of going into labor. Nowadays, I think that I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I guess nobody is ever truly ready. That being said, the combination of my pre-natal exercise class discussions and the HypnoBirthing class have put me much more at ease about this whole labor thing. My fears right now are broken down into main parts: pre-delivery, and post-delivery.

On the pre-delivery side of things, my biggest fear is of delivering a stillborn child. It's a terribly morbid thought, but it's always crossing my mind, especially as I get closer and closer to delivering. What if PK is okay one minute, but not okay the next? What if the umbilical cord gets tangled around her neck? Even as I write this, these very thoughts make me cringe. I also worry about all of the coughing and sneezing fits that I've had over the last couple of days. It's one thing to have been coughing in January/February, when PK was surrounded by a thick cushion of amniotic fluid. Even when I had my April/May allergies, she had a pretty nice cushion. Now things are crowded in utero, so whenever I sneeze or cough, I worry about hurting her.

For post-delivery, I wonder what type of baby PK will be. Every parent hopes for a healthy child. But what if the delivery itself causes her harm - brain damage, physical deformation, or something else that I can't even fathom. Or what if PK has a congenital defect, or some sort of developmental disability? How would I deal with that? I truly admire parents of special-needs children. They are truly brave and loving souls. Would I ever step up like these parents were I placed in a similar situation? My honest answer is that I don't know, and that scares me. I hope I would. At the same time, I don't want to find out. Does that make me a bad person?

I know that these are all "what ifs", and but they're out there. If they don't affect PK, they will affect some other kid out there. It's a scary world out there, and I don't blame PK for wanting to hang out in utero for a little while longer.

Getting Closer!

This evening I was greeted by some blood after I went to the washroom. I thought I had already passed my mucus plug, but maybe that was some preliminary goop. This discharge was goopy but it was more red-tinged than the previous one. The previous one was more browny than red.

I've never gone into labor before, so I obviously don't know what to expect. Books are fine, but the real deal is always different for everyone. I called my sis for some insight/advice, but unfortunately she hasn't gotten to that part in her medical training. Next, the hubby and I consulted our various baby books for signs of labor. From what we've read, the the bleeding I was experienced may very well have been the bloody show (I think that the mucus plug/bloody show are pretty much the same thing). It wasn't heavier than a period, but it reminded me of the very early stages of a period.

I'm not seeing the doctor until tomorrow afternoon, but I think I might give him a ring tomorrow morning just to check. PK seems to be moving about, and the bleeding appears to have subsided. I guess all this just means that PK is on her way out soon!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Week 39

I've still got about half a week until PK is officially due, but just in case she happens to come before then, I thought I'd get a jump-start on the update for this week of gestation.

I have to admit that I'm a bit torn. On the one hand, I really want PK to come out. I'm so curious to see what she looks like and who she resembles the most. On the other hand, it has been nice to enjoy these last few days off to myself and with the hubby. It has been good to say goodbye to the old lifestyle without PK, and to start getting used to the thought of having a new lifestyle with PK. Not only that, this extra time to myself has allowed me to read some of my baby books so that I know what to expect post-partum. The two books I'm currently reading are The Mother of all Baby Books and The Happiest Baby on the Block. The first book starts off by talking about the last few weeks of pregnancy, and then talks about the post-partum period, including how to change diapers, breast-feeding, and caring for the baby's umbilical cord stump. The second book is all about the so-called "fourth trimester" and how to keep fussy, colicky babies happy. That fills me with confidence, because at least I know that there are proven techniques out there for dealing with colicky babies, so hopefully I won't have to fret as much if PK ends up being such a baby.

While I do think that I will miss PK's kicking and squirming (it is still my absolute favorite thing about pregnancy), I will most certainly not miss the lack of mobility that I have these days. While I think I've managed to avoid the dreaded pregnancy waddle (either that, or I'm totally delusional), it has been extra-hard for me to do the following things:

- shave my legs
- cut my toenails
- sleep for more than 2 hours at a time without having to get up to pee
- tie my shoes
- put moisturizer and/or sunscreen on my legs

Apart from getting up to pee every 2 hours at night (can't be helped), I'm still managing with all of the other items above - it's just getting difficult, and I have to get pretty creative. For example, when I tie my running shoes, I find that it's easiest to do a nice wide squat (like one of the recommended labor positions).

Sleep, or lack thereof, has probably been the biggest inconvenience of all. For months I was worried about the fact that I kept waking up on my back, even though all of the pregnancy books tell you that you're not supposed to be lying flat on your back after month 4 or 5 (or something along those lines). I mentioned this to my doctor, and he told me not to worry. He said that the body naturally feels so uncomfortable when you're on your back later on in pregnancy, that I will likely stop waking up on my back at some point. Well, it took a while, but he was right. I think that sometime between 7.5 and 8 months, it finally hit me. There was NO WAY I could wake up on my back or even lie on my back propped up by two pillows because it felt REALLY REALLY uncomfortable. Ah, nature at work!

Even lying on my side is proving to be really uncomfortable. Last night, I couldn't fall asleep on my left or right side because I was having trouble breathing. So I propped myself upright with 3 pillows just so I could fall asleep. When I CAN fall asleep on my sides, I have to constantly switch sides, because my hips are in so much pain. I hear that it's best to sleep on your left while pregnant, so I try to do that, but I'm finding it really difficult to do so nowadays because lying on my left side is aggravating an old shoulder injury from climbing.

Since I'm getting such crappy sleep, my body makes up for it by forcing me to nap during the day or in the evening. I say force because I'm not a napper by nature. Yesterday, for example, we were running a few errands before going grocery shopping. On the way over to the supermarket, I told the hubby that I needed to sit down because I was feeling a bit tired. Next thing I know, I'm sitting there in the middle of this mall, with my head leaning against his shoulder, taking a nap. I think I was out for 20 or 30 minutes. Later that same evening, I sat down to read a book, and zonked out after reading 4 or 5 pages. I only woke up because my sister called me to say hello. That same evening, I was sitting in bed reading, and fell asleep after 4 or 5 pages. The thing is, I feel most refreshed after I take these naps, so I try to embrace them, rather than resist them.

One thing I've found rather amusing in the last few weeks is the timing of when people would like PK to make her world d├ębut. I wanted at least 1 week off before PK came out. That way I could tie up loose ends and have some time off to myself - not to mention enjoy my kitchen! The hubby wants PK to come out sometime tomorrow. That way we had the long weekend to ourselves, and he'd take 3 weeks off from work starting on Tuesday, and returning sometime after Labor Day (the September holiday, not MY labor day :P). My sister wanted PK to come this weekend, because she was in town and would be able to stick around for the birth. Next weekend is no good for her because she's on-call for her obstetrics rotation. Plus she goes to school out-of-town and it would take her a couple of hours give or take to make it over here. So since apparently I'm taking orders, when would you like PK to come out?

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment. It was shifted to Tuesday because of the long weekend, so I suspect that he'll be an hour late to see me. I'm thinking of asking him to do another cervical exam to see if I've dilated at all since last time. From what my sis tells me, I shouldn't expect the doctor to check my cervix this week, though a lot of women in my position ask for it, if they want to avoid being induced. I'm also going to ask him about my suspicions of having passed my mucus plug. I'm pretty sure that I did pass it, and that it's not left-over discharge related to last week's cervical exam. That bleeding/discharge had subsided a few days earlier. I think at this point I may refrain from doing the perineal massages, just in case the mucus plug did pass. I know that PK is still protected by amniotic fluid, but just in case I'm leaking fluid and I don't know it, I don't want to take any chances, especially since I'm GBS-positive (bleh).

Rather than subway up like we usually do, we're thinking of driving up to the doctor's office tomorrow, just in case I'm actually dilated enough to the point where he'd recommend that I check myself into the hospital. My bags are now fully-packed (or at least packed enough), so we'd be prepared just in case.

On a more annoying note, the cold that started last week has morphed into a coughing, sneezing, and stuffy nose fest. I was hoping that it would subside by tomorrow, since will make it a week to the day of when my sore throat started, but I think it may be another week until it's completely gone. It seems to be progressing very very slowly, and it certainly doesn't help with my sleep situation.

And finally, PK still continue to move a fair bit in utero. Sometimes I feel like she's not quite as active as she used to be, which makes me worry. That being said, all of the literature out there says that babies seem to move less later into gestation because there's less room in the uterus. I don't find that particularly comforting, since I'm so used to her moving a lot. Sometimes when I don't feel her moving, I like to coax her into moving by either doing some pelvic floor exercises or leaning forward. That usually gets her moving. I don't think that she find that particularly disruptive, since I usually only get a foot jab from her out of that. Good enough for me. I just want to know that she's okay in there.

Whew! That was a mouthful! The race is on! Only 3 more days until I'm due. Will I be one of the 5% of women who actually has their baby on their due date? Will PK come just before? Will PK come just after? Will PK need to be induced? Stay tuned!

Hurry Up and Wait

I have 3 days until my due date, yet PK is still sitting pretty comfortably in my womb. They (whoever "they" are) say that walking and going up stairs can help induce labor. In my case, I don't think that that's going to work. I've got a ton of stairs in my house (each room is on its own floor), and I walk A LOT as part of my exercise routine. PK is too used to my moving about, so no amount of walking or stair climbing I do will coax her out of her comfy little coccoon!

Now, even though PK has not yet arrived, I do think that we're fast approaching L-Day. First off, she has dropped since last Monday. I didn't find PK's drop as dramatic as everyone says it is, where all of a sudden you've been released from your squished-up-lung prison, and eating is no longer an indigestion-laden ordeal. I did have have trouble breathing, which I noticed mostly when I worked out, walked, or went up stairs, but it wasn't THAT bad. Also, I didn't really have that much indigestion. I was pretty much able to eat the same portions that I did before PK started squishing my innards.

All that aside, she DID drop. My belly now looks pear-shaped, and the trouble breathing I had seems to have gone away. I just didn't feel like it was that dramatic a change. Maybe it's because PK moved down slowly.

I've also noticed that the Braxton-Hicks contractions are more frequent and more powerful. That being said, there's no set pattern to them, so I know it's not time just yet.

And finally - and I'm not 100% sure on this one - I think I passed my mucus plug this morning. I'll probably confirm that with my doctor when I see him tomorrow. This means that labor can start anytime between sometime today, and sometime in the next few days. No kidding...