Thursday, July 22, 2010

Flashback: 10 Days Old

I wrote this post on June 12th, when Malachi was 10 days old. I didn't post it at the time because I intended to write more, but now I will post it as it is, for my memory's sake.

Malachi is 10 days old today. We've been home a week. It's been a wonderful, hard week. I've never spent so much time with someone. When you are with a person pretty much 24 hours a day, staring at them from 12 inches away, its amazing how you notice the tiniest changes that no one else would be able to see.

I started on Malachi's birth story while we were still in the hospital. But I can't seem to finish it. The memories became so fuzzy right away. I've remembered things over the last few days, and friends have reminded me of other things.

I wish I could write a beautiful, eloquent post about babymooning, and how happy we are. But honestly, at the moment, I am feeling more "postpartum-y", than "babymoon-y". I'm tired of being dependent on drugs to feel good. I want to take a bath and I can't for 5 more weeks. For some reason that seems like a real hardship right now. I have the motivation to be up and about, but not the energy for it. I have concerns about Malachi's weight gain. It doesn't take much to make a new mama worry. I'm frustrated at how everyday living creates such a mess, and I'm not really in a position to clean it up right now.

Flashback: 1 Day Old

Less than 24 hours after Malachi was born, I was hit with a wave of sadness and regret. I can't believe how quickly it hit me, and I burst into tears. I felt guilty for feeling sad during what was supposed to be one of the happiest times of my life. But that's Baby Blues for you. Those feelings continued on and off for about 10 days. This is what I wrote.

I wish that he had been in a better position. I wish that I hadn't thrown up all day. I wish I had best well-rested. Given the circumstances, I am thankful for the sign that something wasn't right.

The thing I regret most was that I wasn't with it when Malachi was born. Had I know the effect the nausea medication would have on me, I would have turned it down...

The Long-Awaited Birth Story of Malachi Justice Allen Grasty

I actually wrote this from the hospital, the day after Malachi was born. In the interest of being authentic, I haven't made any edits. These are, for the most part, the facts, not the feelings of the June 2nd, 2010, the day our beautiful son was born.

I wanted to write out the birth story while it is still fresh in my mind, for me, for Malachi, and for those who love us and are interested in our lives. I know there are those who are curious about what happened, especially how the home part of it went, and how it turned into a c-section after a planned home birth.

I went into labor around 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, June 2nd. I hadn't slept at all, though I had tried. I'd had a long nap that ended around 2:30 in afternoon that day, because I hadn't slept at all the night before either. Less than an hour after the contractions started, I knew that this was our day. I called Alicia (my midwife) and she and the birth team were there by around 7:30, I think. I labored in different positions while the birth pool was filling. They measured me late morning, and I asked not to be told since I didn't want it to change my perception of how long it would continue. I believe I was at 6 or 7 at that time.

I kept laboring. Got in the pool. It was hard. But I knew I was doing it. The birth team was so supportive. My husband was amazing. I couldn't believe how much it helped just to have him there by my side, looking in my eyes and telling me "You're doing it!" My midwives and doula were so helpful to help me manage the pain. Everything was going great, even though it was the hardest thing I've ever done. The only problem was I wasn't keeping down solids or liquids. Literally every ounce I drank came back up.

By early afternoon, I was dilated to 9. I got excited. I knew the hardest part was almost over and I was going to push this baby out in just a matter of time. Joshua and I jumped in the shower b/c the birth pool needed to be refilled (I had vomited in it. Oops.) We laughed and cried in the shower over our little boy that we would meet so soon. I held on to him during contractions. But the limited space wasn't giving me enough options for birth positions.

I got back in the refilled birthing pool. Knowing that this would be over pretty soon, I had someone call my girlfriends, Ingrid, Kim, and Heather to let them know they could come watch a baby being born this afternoon. We were that close. I was just waiting to feel that urge to push. And it started to come. And it came and it went, not that strong, just a little pushy. I kept contracting. It hurt so bad, but I knew I could do it. For some reason, I HAD to take a drink toward the end of every. single. contraction, or I would vomit. And if I took the drink too late, there my water, or sports drink or whatever, would go, ounces and ounces of precious fluid--energy that I needed to finish this. It went on like this for hours. I got more and more tired, and nothing was staying down.

I started to lose energy. Finally, somewhere around 8:30 p.m. (I learned later), I threw up again. Probably 36 ounces of energy, down the drain. I knew there was a problem. Why couldn't I keep anything down? I didn't know what time it was, but I knew it had been a long time. Why had I been dilated to 9 for so long without any further progress. When Alicia came into the room, I said something along the lines of, "I'm really concerned about the vomiting. This is really not good. I think I need an IV," She said she agreed, and was just coming in to convince me (she thought) that it was time to go to the hospital. She didn't go into details at the moment, but said the vomiting, the lack of progress after hours at 9 cm, and a couple other things, were all indications of a problem. I said, "Okay, I want to be gone in 5 minutes."

She called the hospital to let them know to expect us. They rushed us up to a room. I knew that things were going to change, and whatever happened, it would not be a natural birth from here on out. I was okay with that because I knew it was what needed to happen. I was pretty low on energy, and out of it, but I recall that I agreed to the IV. I threw up. I agreed to nausea medicine. We did an ultrasound and discovered that Malachi was in an occiput transverse position (if I recall correctly), and that was the cause of the failure to progress past nine centimeters. I agreed to an epidural so that the doctor could literally stick his hand inside and manually try to turn him. If it worked, I could still possibly deliver vaginally. The procedure was unsucessful. Where some babies heads have room to move, his head seemed almost stuck in that position. My midwife was surprised the doctor was able to move him at all, but even the small amount that he shifted was not enough to make a difference. So my options were:

A) Continue to labor with the epidural for an hour or two more to see if he would move. If he didn't shift, I would need a c-section.

B) Do an internal fetal monitor to check the strength of my contractions. If they weren't strong enough, take some pitocin to get him to shift. If he didn't shift, I would need a c-section.

C) Go ahead and get a c-section.

We decided on Option C. The reasons were that a) I had already been pushing with strong, hard contractions for hours. My midwife believed that my contractions were strong and hard and yet had not cause him to shift all day. It seemed unlikely that an hour or two more would help, especially since the doc couldn't even move it. B) I was concerned about the possible complcations of pitocin. Malachi could go into fetal distress, the c-section would become much more urgent, and there coul be delay in having him with us, a delay in breastfeeding, breathing problems, etc., and I really didn't want that. C) If A or B didn't work, which was likely, C was our only option anyway. I felt that I was ready to be done with this. After 17 hours of labor (before medicine), I was ready to hold my baby.

I didn't feel upset. Or pressured. Or disappointed. I just felt it was the decision that needed to be made, based on the circumstances.

So we did it. All the drugs messed me up. I don't know if they were normal side effects or what, but man, I was out of it. I felt almost paranoid, not about the surgery, but just about how weird I felt. I'm sure that was a side effect. I was not alert at all. When they showed Malachi to me, I couldn't really take it in. I saw Joshua holding him, and felt so incredibly fuzzy and tried tried tried to stay awake to look at him but just felt confused and sort of other-worldly, and a sense of not-rightness that they were over there, and I was over here in a fog. I couldn't feel happy. I was too drugged. I remember feeling concerned about him eating. What would they do if I couldn't feed him because of my state? I remember desperate, disconnected thoughts going through my head that I had to tell Joshua to make sure Malachi got to breastfeed tonight, even if he had to hold him to my breast. And I remember fuzzily reassuring myself that I didn't need to tell Joshua these things, he already knew, and I could trust him to do what was best for Malachi.

When they woke me to take me to my room, they handed him to me and I was concerned that he would fall out of the bed. I couldn't barely hold him. And then we were in our room, and he ate. And I slept. I fed him again. And in the morning, I really saw him for the first time. He was beautiful.

That's where I stopped writing. It was the middle of the night, and I was exhausted. I didn't anticipate that it would be seven weeks until I felt ready to come back to this story. Since then I've been able to recall more details about that day.

I remember being surprised that he didn't look like a fresh from the womb baby. He wasn't red and puffy. He looked a week old. I remember feeling relieved that he was so beautiful. I really expected to look at him and see both of us in his features, and I didn't at all. It took a few days to see us in him.

I remember feeling so disconnected from Malachi, and disoriented. I had expected to feel an immediate connection, like I already knew him. That's the way my mom describes the moment she saw me for the first time. But it wasn't like that at all. I kept asking myself, "Is this love that I feel?" It felt less like love to me than responsibility, or ownership. Looking back, my feelings seem so normal. Considering the circumstances, I don't know how I could have felt differently. I was so out of it and incredibly tired. As OB after Pediatrician after nurse came in and out of the room, for what seemed like all day, I would literally fall asleep between their questions.

It took a few days to feel a strong connection to Malachi and I felt guilty about that. That feeling made me feel very regretful that he had been born by c-section. Not that there really was a connection, but in my mind there was. I believed that if he had been birthed from my body, instead of surgically removed...If I had felt him crown with my fingers, seen his head being born, and pushed his body out of mine...If I hadn't been handed my baby two hours later, still so drugged that I had to struggle to keep my eyes open on one of the most significant days of my life...If he had been caught by the four hands of his mother and father, his new family, the people who he will share life with and who will love him best...If his slippery little new born body had been placed on my chest fresh from the womb...If we had both been alert, our bodies and minds unaltered by medicine...If those things had happened, then I would have felt the connection I had anticipated, I thought.

But over the next few days, the hours that we spent together, me getting to know him and learning to provide for his needs and feed him, through pain and fatigue, and him learning how to eat and breath and live in the world with me by his side, bonded us together. We learned together. And my love for him grew so fast and deep that it overwhelms me at times.

And now, seven weeks later, the rough beginning that we had doesn't matter in the same way. I don't regret the decisions we made. It was the best decision under the circumstances. But I regret that it had to happen that way. I wish Malachi had been in a better position in the womb. I wish that I had been able to keep my food and fluids down so that I could have possibly labored for a few more hours. I wish that I had been well-rested. But since those things didn't happen, I am thankful. We needed the hospital. We needed a c-section. We were one of the exceptions to the rule.

People are all the time saying that it doesn't matter how he got here, all that matters is that we got our baby, and that we are both healthy. I appreciate what my midwife told me. To loosely parephrase, "It does matter. You can be thankful that you have a healthy baby, but you can also be sad about the how you got the baby. When you lose something that was special to you, it matters, and you are allowed to grieve what you lost." That expresses very well the feelings that I have about it. But each day our experience with Malachi grows, and his birth, though significant, is just one small part of our life together, a life that is all the time growing and changing, as we grow and change together. We are so in love with our precious baby boy.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I only have a minute. My mom is spelling me for a little while, and I should be sleeping. We had few good days, and a few rough days. We're in the midst of some rough days now. Thanks to those who have sent encouragement. I am having a rough time today. I'm tired of the crying. It is hard to remain sympathetic. But we're surviving. I'm hoping that we get a good day or two here soon, or I might go off the deep end. I'm going to make an effort to start pumping in earnest. I really want to be able to leave for a few hours if I need a sanity break.

Thanks also for your suggestions about what to try. I am working through the list. Next is gripewater and probiotics that several have suggested. I'm praying that something will work.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

HIgh Times, Low Times

Joshua always tells me, when I am experiencing the highs and lows of life, that I should be blogging this. I don't take his advice nearly as often as I would like, probably because the highest and lowest times are the hardest to put in words. But tonight, I am taking his advice.

To call what I'm experiencing a low isn't really accurate. I'm actually very happy, would not describe myself as sad or depressed in any way. What I am experiencing is, in a word, just hard.

Malachi has colic. Until a few days ago it wasn't too bad. Every couple of days he would be clearly highly distressed for anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. He was sleeping in three hour stretches through the night, and we were able to manage the colic using a swaddling blanket, swing etc. Then three days ago, it changed. Malachi began sleeping only 45 to 1.5 hour at a time with inconsolable crying in between. He still has some longer stretches here and there, but not usually uring the night. He wants to nurse almost constantly. He'll have a while here and there where he is happy as can be.

Needless to say, I haven't been getting much sleep at night. I have been surviving by sleeping more during the day, which means nothing is getting done. When Malachi is awake, it's taking some effort to keep him content, if its possible at all, so I usually can't get anything done then either.

I know we're not experiencing anything that unusual. That's a small comfort, but it doesn't help much when it is happening to us. It's just hard watching my child suffer, especially when my own fatigue just serves to heighten my emotions about the whole thing.

Amazingly, I'm handling all of this better than I thought I might. Somehow its easier to deal with hard things when I'm the one responsible. Malachi needs me to keep it together.

On a positive note, he is changing so much. He is almost too long for his smallest onesies. He is holding his head up so well. I just started doing tummy time with him on Tuesday, and he decided to roll over four times! He didn't like being on his tummy, so I guess he was motivated. Unfortunately, I didn't see any of them because I was cleaning the kitchen. I'm just taking Joshua's word for it.

He's also really interested in watching objects move the last few days. We've been putting him in his bassinet and turning his mobile on and he will listen to the music and watch the little owls go round an round for 10-20 minutes before he gets bored. He is also looking into my eyes alot when he nurses now, which is so sweet.

He's such a joy. He smiles all the time when he's feeling good. I am so looking forward to his colicky-ness being over, because I can see that he has a great temperament.

(P.S. The photo is from July 4th. We went to a party at our friends' the Hillery's. Joshua loves to put cute outfits and shoes on Malachi for special occasions, and this photo is an example of that.)