Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life with Charlotte, Week 2: Overwhelmed

Charlotte is now officially 16 days old (feels like she should be starting college next week...time is flying). In Charlotte's 2nd week of life, she continued to eat, sleep, and poop. She also continued to wow us with her sweetness and beauty, reminding us to thank and praise God often for the gift of both of our girls.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it. After I had Noelle, I cried for many days, multiple times a day. I had the classic case of "Baby Blues," lasting about 2 weeks and then disappearing. I had many a breakdown in the days following Noelle's birth-- breakdowns over silly things and breakdowns over serious things. I developed new fears, couldn't watch scary TV shows, needed lights on at all times because darkness made me sad. I cried in the shower, I cried when I looked at her, I just cried.

I prayed I wouldn't have this same case of the "Baby Blues" following Charlotte's birth, but that didn't happen. Sure enough, I turned into a blubbering mess upon bringing her home from the hospital, and having a toddler at home who likes to push boundaries intensified the emotions.

There are plenty of women who have babies and never experience this unexplained sadness and emotional roller coaster, but there are also plenty of women who go through this exact thing and some who have it much worse. I guess what I'm saying is that now that Charlotte is 16 days old, my "Baby Blues" are dissipating and I am finally starting to get a handle on being a mother of 2 little ones.

The whole process is quite overwhelming.

Not only is parenthood overwhelming in the "too much going on, I can't breathe, how do I help two crying babies at the same time, Noelle just peed on the floor because I was feeding Charlotte and couldn't help her get to the potty on time, Luke's working late again, the house is a freaking mess, I don't feel like cooking" kind of way...but it's also overwhelming in the "how could I be so lucky to have the most beautiful, healthy babies, and how do I deserve them when so many others are suffering losses of their children or infertility issues" kind of way.

Little by little, one day at a time, we are learning how to navigate this new world together.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Life with Charlotte, Week 1: Adjustment

Little Miss Charlotte is officially one week old, and the word to describe this week would be "adjustment." Oh boy...all kinds of adjustments have taken place. We are adjusting to living on very little sleep. We are adjusting to splitting our time and attention between two girls. We are adjusting to me being at home alone with the babies. We are adjusting to life as a family of four and the realization our "old life" is officially not coming back! 

When you bring a child into the world, it seems that everything goes through adjustments. Our marriage is already bending and stretching to accommodate another human being who is much more important than either one of us right now. A co-sleeper bassinet rests in between Luke and me at night leaving no room for snuggling or spooning for the two of us. There's not a lot of time right now to talk about things that don't involve diapers or feeding schedules or Dora the Explorer. We are OK with this, definitely, but we also understand the importance of making time for each other and for adult conversation. I believe that you can't have a healthy home life with healthy children if your marriage isn't solid and strong. Putting children above your spouse should be done with caution, in my opinion. Right now, we really have no choice but to give all of our love and energy to our girls, but sooner or later, after this initial adjustment period ends, we will be able to give something, even if it is the very last remnant of our hearts, back to each other.

Noelle is adjusting, too. She really loves her baby sister and speaks with excitement about her. However, I know that Noelle sees us interacting with Charlotte and giving her attention and I'm sure she thinks "Who is this person stealing my Mama and Papa?" We have tried to shower Noelle with praise and love and special attention, but there is only so much to go around at any given moment. I have thought this many times-- but thank goodness we are playing "man to man" and are not outnumbered yet.

I am adjusting to my new primary role of caregiver and not teacher. I must say I have suffered from a great deal of guilt because here I have the two most beautiful girls in the world, and I am constantly having to remind myself that my #1 priority right now is taking care of them-- not thinking about school, attending meetings, grading papers, planning units, taking photos, etc, etc, etc. It's difficult though, to change gears like that, when it's all I feel like I know how to do. I am used to being really busy, so when I'm home now without any real place to go or be or anyone really to talk to (aside from Noelle), it causes some uneasiness and loneliness to be quite honest. I am adjusting (have I mentioned it's the word of the week?) to this lifestyle and am trying to embrace it as I know that this leave will be over in a flash and I will have all of that familiar chaos back in my life in no time. 

Lastly-- Charlotte is adjusting. :-) She had her days and nights completely mixed up upon entering this world. In her first few days of life, she barely opened her eyes during the daytime. She wanted to eat all night, which left me with about 2 hours of sleep each day. However, last night, she allowed me to sleep about an hour and a half to two hours between feedings, and she has spent several minutes today taking in her world and surroundings with her eyes open. I am hopeful that she is going to start sleeping more and more at night and show us her beautiful eyes throughout daytime hours. 

Also noteworthy...she weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces (birth weight was 7 pounds, 8 ounces) at her first appointment with Dr. Woodworth. Her umbilical cord stump fell off at the appointment, too. We go back this week to have a weight check to make sure she is gaining enough weight. I am really hoping she is because I am going to be pretty resistant to formula supplementing this time. There's nothing wrong with it, but it is a personal goal of mine to nurse Charlotte and not have to add the expensive formula to her diet. Here's hoping...

Anyway, each new day brings a new adjustment for us, but sooner or later it will stop feeling like an adjustment and more like our new normal. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

25 Minutes

I promised myself that when Baby Charlotte arrived I would get back to blogging regularly so as to document life's happenings as a mother of two. She's 5 days old and currently enjoying a milk coma, so I thought I would take advantage of the time to write about quite possibly one of the most terrifying and downright crazy nights of my life.

October 14, 2012

With our scheduled induction to take place Monday morning, Luke and I enjoyed a weekend of time with his family and a dinner date to Johnny Carino's. We visited a pumpkin patch with all the kids and took in the beautiful fall weather. We watched Notre Dame win and the Colts lose (a pretty normal combo this football season), and we tried to soak up as much time with our sweet Noelle as we could. We knew we were down to the final hours of being a family of 3, which was part exciting and part sad.

I wasn't feeling great on Sunday morning, partly because I was up from about 1-4 a.m. feeling a lot of back pain and pressure. Charlotte was very active and agitated, which prevented me from sleeping and causing me to question every little move of hers. I was finally able to get myself relaxed enough to sleep, but the restlessness took its toll on me and left me at home while Luke took Noelle to church with the family. It took me a few hours that morning to get up and moving, feeling sore and achey and more than a little whiney.

I managed to find enough energy to go out to Luke's parents' house for a bit. After a few hours, we were all exhausted and ready to settle in for our last night as just the three of us. We stopped to pick up a quick dinner at Noodles and Company and made our way back to our house.

It was about 6:30 p.m. and my tailbone was really hurting, so I decided to take a hot shower and see if I felt better. An hour later, I was already in bed and trying to kill the pain with a hot rice bag. After laying down for a while, I started to notice a little pattern in the spasms I was feeling in my low back. It did seem that they had a certain rhythmic timing-- starting around 6 minutes a part.

I had downloaded a contraction timer app on my phone a couple months back when I started having Braxton Hicks contractions all the time. What I was feeling on Sunday night were nothing that I recognized as contractions. After all, I have experienced true labor contractions before and would certainly know them when I felt them...right? Well, I was amused by the pattern of this back pain, so I started to log the waves of spasms in the contraction timer. By about 8:15, these "spasms" were getting stronger and coming about every 90 seconds to 2 minutes.

Then it hit me.

I was in labor.


Luke would come in to check on me and I would be just a little more uncomfortable each time. Finally, he walked in on me rocking back and forth on all fours on the ground, and he knew it, too.

Panic hit me pretty hard as I realized that we needed to leave for the hospital immediately if we had any chance of having the baby in Indy. Luke's mom was due to arrive at our house to stay the night so we could leave for our induction the next morning, but she wasn't there yet and Noelle was fast asleep. As we were frantically throwing last minute necessities into travel bags and exchanging wide-eyed and panicky looks with each other, the pain began to get so intense that my main emotion at that point was fear. Fear that we wouldn't make it to Indy. Fear that we wouldn't even make it to Ball. Fear that I was going to have this baby in my own house.

I made a call to my mom and dad at 9:00 and told them to get to our house now because it was time. In the 5-8 minutes it took for them to arrive, we loaded the car and went back and forth with "Are we going to Indy or do we need to go to Ball?" As the pain and INTENSE pressure worsened with every minute, I told Luke we had to go to Ball. My parents arrived and we exchanged very few words. We simply got in the car and drove to Ball...the place I was avoiding throughout my entire pregnancy. I wasn't avoiding it for any reason other than the fact that I didn't want to be put in the vulnerable position of giving birth in front of any of Luke's colleagues or directors or anyone else he knew. Not to mention we really wanted our original OB to deliver Charlotte. That, and the fact that Community North is basically a luxury hotel and nothing compares aesthetically.

However, none of that mattered in the 5 minute ride to the hospital as I turned into your standard screaming, laboring pregnant lady. I remember screaming in pain, yelling things like "I'm scared" and "Help me" and "We aren't going to make it." I know this sounds dramatic and silly, but to be honest, these were my truest feelings at the time. I can't even put into words how incredibly scared I was.

Luke called ahead to the labor and delivery floor to tell them we were coming and to be waiting for us with a wheelchair. We pulled into the circle drive of the emergency room entrance and two nurses and one of Luke's fellow residents were there with a chair waiting to transport me to the 4th floor.

They knew the urgency and literally sprinted me through hallways and to the elevator as fast as they could, asking me various items of information along the social security number, my blood type, my allergies. People waiting to be seen in the ER stared as they raced me past, and I had never been more relieved to see the elevator.

We made our way to the floor and they took me to the room. I didn't even know that Luke hadn't been with us. He was parking the car and doing his own race through the halls to get to me in time, hurdling a few chairs along the way. Thankfully, he came in behind us and was able to be there for the birth of our baby girl, which happened approximately 5 minutes after.

More panic hit me as I realized that there would be no chance for an epidural and I would be doing this the old fashioned way. I remember saying how I couldn't do it and I remember everyone saying that I could. I did do it...a true testament to the fact that you will do what you have to do in the moment to get the job done.

It hurt. Not gonna lie.

About three good, hard pushes was all it took to give life to my second daughter-- a far cry from the four hours of seemingly endless pushing with Noelle. From start to finish, 25 minutes was it...from the 9:00 phone call to my parents to the 9:25 delivery. I don't think we even left our house until 9:10 and didn't arrive at the hospital until 9:15. I can't decide if those were the longest 25 minutes or the shortest 25 minutes of my life-- probably a little bit of both.

Waves of shock hit us both as we looked at each other in disbelief. "Did that really happen?" I managed to say multiple times, along with "It wasn't supposed to be like this." And it wasn't supposed to be like that. She was supposed to be born the next day. We were supposed to have her in Indy. She was supposed to have been delivered by Dr. Ertel. I was supposed to have an epidural for the love of God. However, for as much that went "wrong" or not according to plan that evening, so much went right.

Charlotte didn't have to spend any time in the NICU (unlike Noelle), which meant that I got the moment I always wanted to have-- they put her on my stomach seconds after her birth, and Luke got to cut her cord. She was never taken out of our room following the delivery, and we bonded with her right away. These things were luxuries to us-- things we didn't get to do the first time.

I am so incredibly thankful for those two nurses and Dr. Anderson who were there to help us that night.  I am thankful that we didn't try to head to Indianapolis only to have our baby on the side of I-69. I am of course so thankful for Luke who was always calm and never showed any fear if he had any.

And tonight, I'm thanking God for another  beautiful baby girl who will no doubt have a life full of adventure and spirit given her entrance into the world.

Charlotte Scout, we love you and your sister so much.