So as to uphold my side of the bargain, I will be publishing some posts detailing Olive’s pregnancy and birth for posterity’s sake. These posts will be pretty dense, as I wanted to chronicle in detail the events leading up to my sweet Olive’s arrival. They are not as entertaining as Eloise’s semi-famous birth story, but I hope that someday O will read them lovingly and know how precious she is to me. If you are not interested in the minutia of pregnancy and childbirth, or you don’t really want to indulge what Brakes calls my, “diabolical need to overshare”, drop back in another day for cute pictures of my girls, renovation tales, and probably a couple of poop references! If you are nosy, have at it! The following is more than you ever wanted to know about the inner-workings of my bodacious bod:
I was shocked when we got pregnant the first cycle we tried. It took us much longer and we had a loss when we were trying to conceive Eloise. In fact, with Olive, I semi-tricked Brakes into trying a month earlier than originally planned because I was SO sure we would not get pregnant right away. The crazy in my head had convinced me we were obligated to go through some predetermined number of bust cycles, before we could be blessed with a baby (I obviously did not pay enough attention in health class). I wanted to get the show on the road, so I whined and seduced Brakes (ooh-la-la, a potent combination) until he agreed to try in early August 2010. Eight days later, (7 dpo) I had a positive hpt in my hand and a BETA (blood pregnancy test) of 10. For those of you not in the know with the pregnancy lingo, a 10 means you are just a little bit pregnant. In fact, my OBGYN did not even consider me pregnant with a level that low. He went on and on about how we would not know if this was a viable pregnancy for another couple of weeks.
This picture was taken at Diana’s wedding, right after finding out I was pregnant:
Within a couple of weeks, even without repeat blood tests, I knew that this was a viable pregnancy. How did I know? Vomit. A lot of it. All the time. The morning sickness I experienced with Eloise, which I had thought was so cute and novel, was like a paper cut compared to the general state of malaise I found myself in for the first 17.5 weeks of Olive’s existence. Try chasing an 18 month-old (who BTW, was still breast-feeding at the time. I used to be such a hippy.) when you were living off of water and air. Better yet, try changing an 18 month-old’s diaper. I still gag just thinking about it.
About the time my morning sickness cleared up we had our big ultrasound. I had opted out of all the earlier prenatal screening, believing that if anything really serious was going on, it would show up at the 20 week scan. This was a decision I would come to regret. Brakes, Eloise, and I were so tickled to see our happy and healthy baby wiggling on the screen. We loved finding out Weezy had a baby sister on the way, and we totally marveled at her obvious brains and beauty. Then the radiology tech got suspiciously quiet and she started taking many, many measurements of Olive’s little belly. Soon the radiologist joined us. She gently explained that Olive’s belly was measuring way ahead of where it should be which could mean several things. It may be that she is (like her Mama) an emotional eater and she guzzled amniotic fluid in nervous anticipation of her big photo shoot. Or she could have some rare-genetic syndrome, a bowel obstruction/mutation, or a myriad of other problems. A potentially sick baby, combined with my intimate knowledge of the world of special needs as an early childhood special education teacher (I work with kids with rare genetic syndromes every day), pregnancy hormones, and the stress of pulling together Thanksgiving dinner for my family plus 5 houseguests all amidst a major renovation on the house, proved to be too much. I was pretty much a mess for the rest of November. Oh and, almost as an afterthought, my doc called that night and informed me that they’d forgotten to mention I had partial placenta previa and I was on strict pelvic rest. So much for sex being a stress reliever.
You cannot begin to imagine my relief when, after 3 inconclusive follow up ultrasounds, Olive’s belly was finally measuring within the typical parameters. We still do not know if she is just a drama queen and drank up before each appointment or if for some reason, her belly was growing faster than the rest of her, but by December 22, the day we were set to fly to Phoenix for Christmas, we were in the clear. Olive was growing right on track and kick, kick, kicking away. I enjoyed a calm 2 weeks of pregnancy where I was not vomiting or a crying mess.
The first week in January I was on my way to a student’s house when I felt a familiar tug tracing across my lower belly. I loosened the seat belt. 8 minutes later it happened again. And again about 7 minutes after that. I soon realized that they were contractions. They kept on coming almost daily for the next month. I was not especially worried about them because they always seemed to stop within a few hours and they were not very painful. However I could feel myself slowing down physically. I don’t know if it was because this was my second pregnancy, or if my job was so physically demanding (I was on the floor, bending at the waist, doing therapy with babies and toddlers all day long), but by 30 weeks I felt huge and so drained and sore by the end of each day. My body was telling me I was doing too much but as we all know, listening is not my strong suit. I went for a regular check-up, mentioned the contractions and so my midwife checked me. I was dilated to a 2 and my cervix was funneling or thinning already. She immediately pulled me out of work and put me on modified bed rest for the next 7 weeks.
Was it difficult to manage an active toddler when I was not supposed to be on my feet for more than 15 minutes every 3 hours? Yes. A freckle. But it actually was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. When I heard bed rest, my heart sank. Obviously, I would do whatever it took to keep Olive safe inside me until she was fully cooked, but bed rest meant no big birthday party for Eloise, no mommy and me adventures before our two-some became a three-some, and most tragic of all: bed rest meant I had to miss my baby brother’s wedding in Arizona. Patrick married the most amazing woman, Auntie Jessica, and it nearly broke my heart to miss out on the grand event.
Not to say that there weren’t some positives to bed rest. As soon as I got off my feet, my aching cervix went away. I actually felt pretty comfortable right up until the end. And since I was sure I would do nothing but sit home and stuff my face all day, I was extremely careful about what I ate and I ended up gaining a lot less weight than I did with Eloise. Also, my sweet girl had to get used to Mommy not being 100% well in advance of her baby sister’s arrival, so that when Olive actually did arrive, Weezy was already used to being more independent, which has really eased the transition for her. Finally, bed rest forced Brakes and I to get our act together organizationally and communicatively. Since he had to take on so much added responsibility (which he did with focus and good humor. Love that man.) while I was laid up (or down as it were), it was actually a relief when I was done being pregnant and could be an equal partner again. Surviving bed rest made the awful newborn stage we had been dreading seem like a non-event compared to what we had just been through.
I was finally taken off bed rest at 37 weeks and after feeling like a ticking time-bomb for the last 7 weeks, I was bound and determined to squeeze as much fun as I could into however long I had until Olive made her debut. Weezy and I finally went on some adventures! We zooed, shopped, and playdated galore! It was really a good time. I cleaned and organized (and by cleaned, I mean I paid my new favorite person, Marcia, to clean) but I definitely nested. I finally tackled the basement which is now organized within an inch of its life. I managed to identify the few areas in my house which were label free and I quickly rectified that situation. I also got to put together a beautiful nursery for my new daughter full of vintage books and hand-sewn crafts. Since I knew it was my last nursery, I poured a lot of love into it’s four walls. And I waited. After being on red-alert for labor since 30 weeks, I was shocked when I passed 38 weeks without any action. When 39 weeks rolled around, I had to laugh! Olive obviously had a sense of humor. When 40 weeks came and went I was completely flummoxed. Easter Sunday was her due date and Daddy spent the night rubbing my belly feeling her kicks and watching a little foot sized blob course across my stomach. She was SO strong in there! I still have an achy spot in my ribs where she liked to nestle.
40 weeks, 1 day: I went to my midwife appointment. Now as you know, I am kind of crunchy. I had Eloise w/o meds and it nearly ruined my pachina. And I was fully planning on doing it that way again but then I met Mellissa. Mellissa is my midwife and she is also the boss of me. She tucked me under her nurturing and slightly bossy wing during the whole placenta previa/scary ultrasound drama, and it was because of her vigilance and guidance I made it through the pregnancy as happy and unscathed as I did. As a result, I made her the boss. If she told me to jump off a bridge, I probably would. That is how much I trust her judgment. In the appointments leading up to Olive’s birth, Mellissa re-read my file from Eloise’s birth, as part of her preparation for Olive’s delivery. Once she saw what a traumatic experience that had been (fast labor with a lacerated cervix, a hemorrhage, and a hematoma) and how difficult the recovery was (I could not sit flat on my heinie for 10 months) she gently, but firmly kiboshed my med-free birth plan. She really wanted me to get induced to avoid a whole crowning-in-the-car scenario (this was actually quite a possibility. I was already dilated to a 5 by this point and I went from a 5 to a 10 in less than an hour with Eloise.) And she wanted me to have an epidural because she did not trust me not to push before I was ready, which is exactly what happened with Eloise hence the cervical laceration. I was pretty determined that Olive come on her own time, but Mellissa would not budge from her insistence on the epi. We compromised; Mellissa stripped my membranes and gave me a bit more time to try to go into labor on my own, and I agreed to not fight her on the epidural if she deemed it medically necessary.
I went home that afternoon and had a long talk with Brakes. And my mom. And my sister. And my dad. And my girlfriends. And the lady at the soft serve counter. They all agreed I was being silly about waiting to go into labor naturally. They painted horror stories of us slinging Eloise out the car window onto her baby sitter’s lawn in our rush to get to the hospital after my water (finally) broke. Or worse yet, they talked about what would happen if I just never went into labor at all. I could be pregnant for another 2 whole weeks. My sister sent me scary pictures of old placenta and I was finally convinced. I decided that if I did not go into labor by tomorrow at noon, we would head to the hospital and get “nudged”. Mellissa was kind enough not to call it an induction. She said, I would just get nudged in the right direction with a quick hit of Pitocin. It was almost like a little hair-of-the-dog to get you going the night after a big party. (Mellissa put it into words I could relate to.)
By 5 am the following morning, I was timing contractions. They were longer and more intense than any of the other ones before and I knew that Olive was on her way. I had a feeling I would not need the nudge and I was grateful that Olive did not make me decide her birthday. She was ready to come on her own. I got up early and checked me email, called my family (It was my sister’s birthday too!) and, just enjoyed the minutes before my world drastically changed. At 8 am I texted Brake’s sister and my BFF, Diana, to hop on the BART as she was going to watch Weezy until my mom arrived from Phoenix the next day. She was so excited and I am not sure how she managed it, but she was on our doorstep in 30 minutes having taken a bus, a train, and a cab ride to get there! We rushed around getting last minute stuff ready, taking pictures, and loving on Weezy. I was so sad to leave her at home and she was such a good, brave girl. I was excited to know that next time I saw her, she would be a big sister!