Monday, January 21, 2008

The Sound of Silence

You never realize how beautiful the absence of sound is until you've been trying to help a baby learn to sleep on her own. Up until 3 days ago, Alyson has slept with us in our bed. We had been unsuccessful in helping her to sleep on her own in the past - she'd wake up soon after we'd put her down each time and we also just like to snuggle with her. She's now two months old and though not yet able to sleep through the night, needs to start learning to comfort herself and sleep in her crib.

Day 1, January 18:
We put Alyson down to sleep after feeding her and making her comfortable. This being our first attempt to really try to get her to sleep on her own, it took quite a while for her to settle herself. Every ten minutes, we'd go in to comfort her and make sure that she was alright. Since I'm such a softy, Erik "let" (read sent) me go pick up a movie to rent so that I wouldn't hear her cry. When I got home, she was still crying but not as wildly. After 1 hour and 3 minutes, we broke the rules and picked her up to comfort her. The "rules" dictate that you're not supposed to pick the child up when you're comforting them, but this wasn't working for us - everyone is different and though she wasn't dirty or hungry, she didn't want to be comforted in the crib. When we put her back down a minute later, she slept just fine... for a half hour. We then brought her downstairs with us where she slept in her swing while we watched our movie. Since we were having such "success", we decided that I'd sleep downstairs with Alyson in her bassinet so that Erik could be rested for work the next morning at 5 am. That was not a fun night, but she did sleep off and on throughout the night in her bassinet.

Day 2, January19:
After fifteen minutes of her crying, Erik found me having an emotional battle with myself by Alyson's crib. I was not doing well with hearing her cry and my attempts at calming her in the crib were not working. He took over with her and told her in a firm voice that it was time for her to calm down and sleep. She calmed right down and we turned her over to her tummy (yes, we watched very carefully) and she went to sleep within about a minute. After she was asleep, we came back in the room and turned her over onto her back, and like magic, she slept for hours. The first night feeding was a breeze - I fed her and burped her until she was drowsy, then laid her down to sleep. A couple more hours and she woke me again to eat. That time was a little harder - Erik had to "Alpha Dog" her (calm assertive energy), and then a few more minutes of crying ended with her being placed on her side (again with supervision) and she slept better than a baby.

Day 3, January 20:
Miraculously, Alyson did not cry at all when I put her down to sleep on day three. I kept checking her to make sure she was still breathing - this couldn't be our baby - our baby didn't sleep like that! Well, apparantly, she does when we prepare her well and get her used to the idea. Similar midnight experiences with feeding, though this time Erik didn't have to Alpha Dog her - I'm learning to be calm and assertive myself. Once, she did cry for a few minutes and I checked her right away without any results. I let her cry for another 5 or 6 minutes to tire herself a little and went in to check on her. This time I picked her up and comforted her (against "the rules" and laid her back down on her back. I left the room while she was calm and awake (following the rules) and didn't hear a peep out of her until we woke up this morning at 7:00.

Day 4, Tonight:
Alyson slept in her crib today for her nap (a very new development) instead of her swing and I'm very proud of her. I'm trying hard to time her naps well so that she'll be tired enough to sleep but not so tired that she can't by the time we try to put her down. We fought sleep all afternoon - I wanted to let her have a nap so that she'd be good to go, but every time we put her down to nap with Daddy (normally one of her favorite past times) she'd wake up and want to be awake doing something. Consequently, we started her nighttime routine a half hour early. Daddy bathed our cutie while I played paparazzo and took lots of pictures. He then gave her the bottle he prepared while I read her the story of the three little pigs. After we had a family prayer, we put her down to sleep and left her with kisses and "good nights". She cried for less than five minutes before she put herself to sleep. I'm overwhelmed with the success that we had. I don't want to jinx our efforts by saying that out loud - I know that we'll have good nights and bad nights, but we're thrilled with our results and so proud of ourselves and our baby.

Love to everyone, and most of all, good night!
Cara and Erik

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Collage of Cuteness

For your viewing pleasure, we've created a collage of pictures of Alyson. We have many more to add so keep checking!



Erik and Cara

Monday, January 14, 2008

2 Months Old!

Alyson had her 2 month birthday today! Cute as usual, we now have new stats for our little girl. At her checkup, she was measured at 22 inches (from 19 at birth) and 10 pounds 8 ounces (from 7 pounds 3.8 ounces). It seems to us that she's gained about 3 pounds just in the last few days, but maybe we're just now aware of it. She's outgrown some of her original newborn clothes and is wearing a combo of newborn and 0-3 month clothing. She's so cute - starting to hold her head up well (for a little while and then she gets tired) and definitely smiling because she means to at this point (not solely gas bubbles like at first). When we give her tummy time, she's able to tip herself back onto her back (most of the time) and we cheer for our little gladiator.

Love, Cara

Friday, January 4, 2008

Labor Day

Our labor and delivery.

As a warning, if you're creeped out by details, don't read - I'll be giving them. :)

November 13, 2007:

6:00 am: Woke with mild contractions.
These were not as painful as I'd expected them to be. They felt like regular menstrual cramps for about 30 seconds and then they'd go away. I decided to go to work and time them just in case they were false alarm contractions.

5:00 pm: Left work for the hospital.
My contactions, though still not painful were now only five minutes apart and lasted longer. Since I work in the HR department of a hospital, I decided to go to our birth center to be checked just in case. When I got there, they didn't have any of the exam rooms open, but since I'd called on the way, they had birth suite #10 ready for me. The nurse that helped me was technically off duty - she said that one of the nurses had told her that I was a week early so she didn't mind staying. I think she thought she'd be able to check me and then send me home - in other words quick and easy (most mom's get sent home a couple times before they're actually admitted due to false alarms and too early in labor to do anything). She got me hooked up to the appropriate equipment designed to monitor my contractions and the baby's heartbeat. I was gratified when the monitor confirmed my timing of my contractions - she said that I was right to have come in. Unfortunately, since I'd not progressed very much (I was only dilated to 1.5 centimeters of the necessary 10), there really wasn't any need for me to stay. Also unfortunately, I was having high blood pressure at the moment, so the lab wanted to do blood work on me. The nurse then had me give a urine sample and then I never saw her again. About an hour later, Erik called the front desk for me to ask if I was going to be admitted so that he'd know whether he should come or not. Frankly I think they may have forgotten about me, but it's my hospital, so I'm willing to think the best - I was operating on the no news is good news theory. Erik wasn't with me yet because he had to be at our house for the landlord to walk through with a prospective new tenant and I told him that he didn't need to come until they told me definitively that it was time for me to be at the hospital (I'd already given him a false alarm a couple of days before and I wasn't really in pain at this point). After Erik called, another nurse named Becky came in to discharge me. She also gave me a shot to either stop the contractions or to help me not notice them so that I could sleep.

7:30 pm: Left hospital - headed home.
I slowly hobbled my way out of the hospital - partly because of the recent shot I'd received in my right... uh... rear, and partly because the contractions I was having had moved from the realm of uncomfortable to painful and I was experiencing pressure on my rectum with them. Maybe I should have mentioned this part to Becky before I left, but I'm not the professional and didn't want to argue. This is part of me needing to grow a backbone, but everything was fine anyway. I got home and took a shower to try to relax and got into bed with Erik to try to rest.

10:00 pm: Woke Erik to go back to the hospital.
I'd gotten to the point that my contractions were more painful than I wanted to handle at home. Erik brought me back to the hospital, but we left the bags in the car - just in case. I was praying the whole way there that they wouldn't send me home - I was in enough pain that I didn't know what I'd do on my own. Since it was after 9:00 pm, the main entrance was locked so we went through the Emergency Room entrance. This time, I didn't decline the wheelchair that was brought for me by the OB transport aide. This time, I was provided with an exam room - not nearly as comfy as one of the suites, but I was happy to be where the professionals were. We went through the process again of providing urine sample and getting hooked up to the various machines in the room. I was surprised to see that the contraction no longer looked like the gentle curve it had before, but that it was now multi peaked. I didn't make the connection until later (other things on my mind), but that actully indicated that I was in the transitional stage of labor (right before the fireworks start). These are actually the most painful contractions and if you've gotten that far, you'd theoretically be able to make it without painkillers. The hardest part about the pain in my opinion was the not knowing how long it was going to last and how much worse it was going to get. If I'd known that that was as bad as it would be, I don't think I'd have been as interested in painkillers. At any rate, I was still only dilated to 2 centimeters at that point (and if you're reading this and don't know what that means, it's not that important for you to know - just know that that generally means that you have a long road ahead). I asked for pain meds and after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, the nurse came back with a shot of Demerol at 11:15.

11:15 pm. Demerol administered.
That went into my other butt cheek as an attempt at controlling the pain. Well, once again, it didn't. Frankly it hurt more than the contraction I was having - it burned while the contraction was a gnawing, achy pain. I actually (naiive as I am) didn't know that Demerol was a narcotic variety - designed to "take the edge off" rather than make it hurt less. Well, it didn't hurt any less and it certainly didn't make me feel any better. The nurse said that it'd take about 15 minutes to take effect - hah!

11:45 pm: Time to walk.
The nurse came back to check on me and I told her it still hurt. She said that we needed to have me walk around to see if that helped to progress things. She told me that after walking around for 30 minutes if I hadn't progressed farther, they'd have to send me home. I tell you what, I've never hoped for a more productive walk in my life! Erik and I walked around the birth center which is shaped in a large circle many times. Normally, you could walk the loop in about one minute if you took your time - well, it took us about five minutes per loop. We'd stop each time to get more ice or water at the family hospitality center. It seemed like I hardly ever got a break from the contractions. As soon as one multi peaked contraction ended, another would start and then again and then again. Erik, bless his heart was such a trooper. I think I must have almost dislocated his shoulder and thinking back, there are several labor positions that I should have used but didn't think of. They would have taken advantage of gravity like standing, but all of my muscles and weight would be distributed rather than concentrated on his right arm. As it was, every time I had a contraction, I would pull down on his arm and they only got worse. About halfway through our walking period, I started having the urge to bear down - felt like I needed to throw up - it made me hunch over double and I probably should have recognized that as something to mention to a nurse. Well I'll be better prepared next time. At any rate, we finished walking around and headed back to our exam room at about 12:25. Erik headed out to the car for the bags because at this point, I was more conviced that we'd be able to stay.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
12:30 am: Erik retrieving bags, another checkup.
While Erik was at the car getting the bags (not an easy procedure to get through the maze and then back in with several bulky bags through the emergency room) the nurse came back in to check me again. She asked me my pain level - I said an 8 on the 1-10 scale. She said that that was interesting, because I was dilated to 8 centimeters at that point. She said "You're going to have this baby". She then helped me out of bed and back to birthing suite #10 (where they'd had me earlier that day) to deliver. She pointed out as we walked the 50 feet that they were preparing the crib for the baby and there was a hubbub of activity. There were about six people in the room doing all sorts of things - preparing the bed, giving me an IV and all sorts of things that I didn't know. I later found out that a couple of the nurses were from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) to be ready in case the baby needed attention because of my extremely fast progression at the end. I'm glad that I didn't know they were there - I think it would have made me more worried. The nurses had to keep reminding me to slow my breathing as it was getting faster and faster. Poor Erik, he came back to an empty exam laden with bags. He went back out to the main desk to inquire as to my whereabouts and they said - "Oh, she's having baby!" He made it into the suite just as I was not quite yelling "Where is my husband?!" Just in time for pushing. Dr. Anderson was the physician from Associated Physicians for Women (see the upcoming post on pregnancy) on call that night. I was happy about that - he has a good bedside manner and is pleasant. The nurses directed Erik to my right shoulder - I was so relieved that he wouldn't miss it. They were waiting for me to finish fully efacing when my water broke. I rememer hearing what sounded like a water balloon breaking and then droplets flying everywhere. I'm not sure if it got all over everyone or not - I feel badly if it did, but really it won't have been the first time it happened nor will it be the last. At that point, we were ready - it was time to start pushing. The nurses had to keep reminding me to not let all of my air out of my mouth (in the form of yelling and screaming) but to hold it so that I'd have more powerful pushing. They also had to keep telling me to relax my forehead - I guess I kept tensing up which doesn't help things to progress. I pushed through the first contraction and was so happy when they started telling me that I was doing it correctly. I warned them when I started to feel the next contraction coming and we started to push again. I can honestly say that I don't remember fully how painful it was (natural amnesia is beautiful), but I do remember that it was more intense than the contractions, but less frustrating because I knew that it was almost over and that there was something that I could actually do to progress it at that point. Demerol only stays in your system for one hour, so I was truly on my own at that point - there was no time for additional medication and I'm glad for that (at least now I am).

12:56 am: Good Morning Alyson Jane.
At 12:56 am, Alyson Jane joined us. She was born at Kadlec Medical Center in Suite #10. 7 pounds 3.8 ounces, 19 inches long. She was and is the most beautiful baby in the world. We're so proud to have her as a part of our family. I'm grateful that we left home when we did and that I hadn't tried to progess labor too much at home before going to the hospital or Erik might have had to deliver the baby on the highway over the Columbia River in the middle of the night. Thank goodness for trained professionals that were there and ready to take care of our family. A couple of pictures are below from our stay at the hospital. We love our daughter and look forward to posting lots of pictures of her beautiful smiles.

Cara, Erik and Alyson

Erik and Alyson at the hospital.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Random Acts of Cuteness

Alyson smiling at her bear-mobile (and Mommy).
Alyson smiling at Daddy (and her bear-mobile).
Alyson hanging out with Daddy.
One of Mommy's favorite facial expressions.
Alyson smiling in her sleep in the car.