Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Fourth Trimester

Here we are three and a half weeks later and well into the 'fourth trimester'. Julian is doing great! He is a healthy and growing boy currently weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces. (There is no doubt why I gained so much during my pregnancy...what a voracious appetite he has then and now.) He has had two visits to the pediatrician and both times he has received a clean bill of health - thank God! We have his one month check-up in a few days.

Joe and I have become master caregivers with an innate sense of what each of Julian's cries mean. No, not really, I wish it were that easy but we are learning to understand our child's language more and when he wants to eat versus when he has a wet diaper versus when he just wants to be held. I love the last cry; it's not a deafening sound and much more tolerable than its shrieking counterpart "WAAAAAAAAAA! WAAAAAAAAA!" that translates into "PEOPLE: I AM HUNGRY!!!!"

As far as sleep cycles, Julian mostly sleeps during the day and as of four days ago, now sleeps five-six hours straight at night. It may not seem like a lot, but in the newborn world, that is considered sleeping through the night. I'm hoping this is a harbinger of good sleeping habits to come. It helps that he is a 'bigger boy' who is able to eat more during his feedings, which can sustain him to sleep longer periods. God does know what he is doing, doesn't he? Here are a few pics of sleepy Julian...we've recently introduced 'tummy time' into our daily activities, which to our son, also means sleepy time. 

Sleeping on my chest...I wish he could stay this size forever! xo

On Dad's chest

Can't get enough of Julian!

Post-feeding slumber

It's not tummy time but this was too cute not too share!

What an incredible three+ weeks it's been! As much as I enjoyed my pregnancy and the nine months of carrying Julian with relatively no complications (morning sickness was the worst part), nothing beats having him here with us. So what if our nights are interrupted by feedings (I am feeding him as I type!), diaper changes and strange but funny newborn sounds; nevermind the fact that our comforter has been baptized by spit-up and pee; and let's not forget how many times a day (and night) I stop what I'm doing to make sure he's breathing: we love our Julian who has brought us and our families infinite happiness and a joy we never knew could exist. 

Welcome home, Julian!

First family photo! Stay tuned for more!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Welcome Julian Nash!

Well faithful followers, as most of you know, Julian has arrived! Our little blessing was born on November 21st at 3:50a.m, weighing in at 8 pounds 6 ounces. These last nine months of my pregnancy left me wondering what his birth story would be like, and now, I can finally share it with you:

November 19th 10:00p.m.: I complained to Joe about unusually swollen feet, trouble catching my breath and a massive headache. Not normal. We grabbed my hospital bag and jumped in the car. We had no idea whether they would admit me that night or send me home but we didn't want to take a chance. At triage, my blood pressure was elevated and for the next two hours, I was kept under close observation. They immediately started monitoring the baby's heartbeat, checked my cervix, and three hours later did a biophysical exam (fancy hospital terminology for an ultrasound). Here is where they discovered that my amniotic fluid was low (7.5 -- and the ideal amount should be above 10). The combination of elevated blood pressure and the low amniotic fluid made the doctor on call that night decide to induce me at 38 weeks. It was already 4:00a.m. at that point. My Dad and Patricia had joined us at the hospital and kept me and Joe company while we had waited for an answer. Once we were told we (I) wouldn't be going home, I sent the family home so they could get some rest. There were no rooms available upstairs, so I waited the rest of the night (well at this point, morning) in triage until a room opened up. I spent the next few hours alone, mentally preparing to meet my son and bracing myself for my delivery experience.

November 20th 9:00a.m.: I left triage and was admitted to the high-risk floor where the labor induction process began. I started off with a dose of Cervidil; a medication used to soften and 'ripen' the cervix. It takes 12 hours for the Cervadil to do its job, so for the next half-day, I enjoyed my time with rotating visitors along with several rounds of very painful contractions. I had always wondered what labor contractions felt like and the best comparison I can make is that they rival the worst case of menstrual cramps along with searing back pain. Honestly though - the pain wasn't as horrific as I thought it would be. I was actually proud of myself that I could tolerate the contractions in a reasonable manner without turning into a savage beast.

By 9:00p.m. that night, my cervix had ripened to allow for the next step in the labor process. It was go time at this point! They moved me into the labor and delivery room and by 10:00p.m., I got Pitocin, which intensifies uterine contractions. I won't lie -- those menstrual-like cramps I had experienced earlier paled in comparison to what I felt once the Pitocin came. I still refrained from morphing into a savage beast and all in all, they were still tolerable. By 2:00a.m., the epidural was administered (something else that presented a fear unto itself but that too was manageable. The administration of the euphoric drug felt like a small prick in my back and before I knew it, it was over. Just don't look at the needle before it's administered. Glad I took a peak at it after the fact.) My water broke shortly thereafter (a trickle first then a big gush of water for those curious to know!) and the next thing I know, I had fallen asleep for about an hour. When I woke up at 3:00a.m., the nurse checked my cervix and I had fully dilated to 10cm (!!!!!!) That's right - within one productive hour, I went from 4cm dilated to the end goal of 10cm. I pushed for 50 minutes straight...and by the end of the hour, Julian was in my arms.

In my arms, finally!

Hello son

All cleaned up!

Hungry baby!

Happy baby!

What an experience - a very wonderful one at that. The nurses at Winnie Palmer were phenomenal and I don't think I could have pushed without them. (It sounds strange, but no amount of preparation or 'labor training' can really take you through the delivery process. In my opinion, it's the people around you guiding you on how to breath and telling you when to push that really carry you through to the end.)

And there it is! Our birth story. Julian is a beautiful and healthy baby and Joe and I are enamored by this little one. He has changed our lives immeasurably and every day I am grateful for our miracle baby. Stay tuned for posts on our life with Julian!

*Side post...
My dear grandma "Teta" passed away the night I was admitted to the hospital. It's hard to believe she is no longer here but I am convinced she was there that night I delivered Julian - in some spiritual way - standing at the foot of the delivery bed, guiding Julian into my arms. It was a bittersweet experience, welcoming one life while simultaneously saying goodbye to another one. But, this beautiful exchange only enriches my faith. I know that Julian and I have a guardian angel who will watch over us for the rest of our lives.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Waiting Game

Well faithful followers, I have officially said goodbye to the office and am now working from home until it's go-time. These last few days have undoubtedly slowed me down; back pain has taken the lead in the list of pregnancy annoyances and to be quite honest, I don't really want to be outside the house in the event labor kicks in (as in, when my water breaks or contractions begin).

I had my final ultrasound this morning (November 14th) to identify the baby's presentation, to gauge his weight and to make sure all looks good. Right now, Baby Julian is head down and face down (the ideal position). It was hard to distinguish much from the ultrasound just because at this stage, babies are so big that you can't really decipher what you see on screen. Example, at one point I thought we were looking at his face and when I asked the technician, she giggled and said, "No that's his heart." LOL. Oops. The technician also estimates that he currently weighs 7 pounds and 14 ounces, but that's just her estimate and is not 100% accurate.

I won't lie -- I am getting extremely nervous. I think it's the anticipation of when labor will begin. I'm a planner (schedules and checklists excite me), so this state of unpredictability is driving me nuts. I'd love to know when things will get started, but alas, it's just not how this works. The bags are packed, anxiety has taken up permanent residence, and now it's a waiting game with Julian in the lead. Tomorrow (November 15th - 37 weeks 3 days) is my next doctor's appointment. We'll see if I have dilated any further and what his predictions are for the big arrival!

Friday, November 11, 2011

I finally get it...

I get what women who are in their waning days of pregnancy experience: Extreme fatigue, chronic soreness, difficulty moving, (hell, difficulty SLEEPING), major swelling (hands, fingers and wrists are not immune to this effect of pregnancy either), intense hip and joint pain (I'm talking pain that almost impedes your ability to walk and forget trying to squat, get into an SUV, pick up something off the ground or get up easily from bed...), anxiety x2 (you're no longer worrying just about your personal struggles or fears but now the health and well being of the baby take center stage), sleep deprivation, differentiating between false labor pains and true labor pains (it's as if you need a medical degree to understand the differences), an overwhelming range of emotions, raging hormones, more anxiety, spontaneous tearful episodes (due to said hormones), a disintegrating mucous plug (gross, I know), and oh yeah, the emotionally draining and physically taxing weekly pelvic exams to check if the cervix has begun the dilation and effacement process. Don't we go through enough?

I have one day left in week 36. Saturday, November 12th will mark the start of week 37 and with that, the baby will be considered full term, which means, if I were to deliver at this point, his lungs would be mature and he would be able to live outside the womb. (Delivery prior to this mark is considered preterm and poses a threat to the fetus.) I had my weekly doctor's appointment on Tuesday and what a day it was. I won't go into detail but let's just say it was not pleasant. My doctor's appointments these last 8 months have been a breeze. Doctor would measure my abdomen, check the baby's presentation, listen to the baby's heartbeat, discuss my burgeoning weight and answer my myriad of paranoid questions. But starting at week 36, weekly pelvic exams are in order. Again, don't we go through enough? I'll skip the delicate details but as it turns out, my cervix was 50% effaced (thinned) and I am 1cm dilated. But just because dilation has begun, does not mean labor is imminent. The only bona fide sign of true labor is the infamous contractions (and this could be coupled with water breaking, extreme lower back pain and of course a bloody mess down below). I asked him if he thinks I'll make my due date, but in true medical fashion, he was non-committal with an answer and reminded me that due dates are simply estimates. And I do understand, the baby's big arrival is so unpredictable. No one really knows what causes the onset of labor. It's Mother Nature's call, really, when labor begins. Here's hoping that Mother Nature has been listening in on my prayers and that Julian stays checked in until the last week of November. I know my opening paragraph may have seemed like a long diatribe but it was more of an affirmation that I understand and can appreciate all the stories women have shared in the past. But as difficult as it can be, it's one of the most beautiful gifts in life and an indescribable miracle that can only be expressed through experience. So until we meet in 3 weeks Julian, here's to a few more painful physical exams...

Before the exam... I really hate this part.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One Month to Go!

I'm rounding out week 35 (just one day left) then I enter week 36 better known as the ninth month. Understandably, it's the most celebrated month in pregnancy and also the most exhausting. Sleeping has become obsolete and as you can probably conclude from these pictures, it's getting REALLY difficult to move around. I can't complain too much though; I am still able to drive, go to the office, do *light* cleaning, laundry and some other things here and there. But really and truly, my mobility has been significantly reduced. Just four weeks to go and sleeping will remain just as obsolete. But at least I'll be able to see my feet and my lower half in general. :-)

My belly and somewhere underneath feet.

There they are! (I have to lean forward to see them.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Yoga Baby

The long-awaited last set of 3D ultrasound images are here! We had our final 3D/4D session on Saturday, October 29th (day 1 of week 35). Julian was NOT cooperative for the first 45 minutes, covering his face with his foot of all things (my coworker is affectionately calling him 'yoga baby' now.) Toward the end of our session, he started to relax and gave us a nice glimpse of his pretty face. Understandably, it's getting more cramped in my uterine hotel, so I can't blame the little guy for inadvertently covering his face with his lower limbs. He can't help it. Nevertheless we enjoyed the session and were happy with the 4D experience all around. 

Enjoy the images of our beautiful and talented yoga baby!

I think at this point his foot was kicking his eye (according to the tech...)
Not sure if that's a good or bad sign.

Yep, that's his foot directly over his forehead!

Crazy yoga pose!

Finally, foot down and face is revealed.

With fingers on the face

What a handsome boy!
My shy guy!
We see you!

He is puckering his!
He's getting tired of the paparazzi.

We'll see you in a few short weeks, Julian!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You Okay Down There?

At about this stage of pregnancy, it's very common for pregnant woman to experience Braxton-Hicks contractions or 'practice' contractions where your uterus starts preparing for the big day. While I've had my share of distinct cramping and discomfort, I can't say for sure whether I've officially started feeling these practice moves. Maybe I have; maybe I haven't. Any uncomfortable sensation I've felt up until now has been quickly linked to gastrointestinal discomfort and even ligament stretching. But for the contractions, I really can't say. From what I've been reading, your body actually starts preparing for delivery early on - with Braxton-Hicks starting in the first trimester - although at that point, you certainly wouldn't be able to feel it. For now, maybe it's a good thing I am oblivious to the rehearsal sessions taking place in utero. I mean, while I'm an expert at discerning gas trappings from labor pains, I think trying to discern true labor pains from false labor pains would freak me out. Let's just hope when it comes time for the real thing, there will be no doubt what is happening.

In other pregnancy news, fetal hiccups have become part of our daily routine. It never fails: Every day between 2-3 in the afternoon, I feel rhythmic intervals of bop..bop..bop.. in my belly. They concerned me at first (who am I kidding - everything concerns me), but after reading one form of baby literature after another, I've discovered fetal hiccuping is perfectly normal and some would even venture to say that it is a sign of a healthy baby. And while hiccups may be bothersome for adults, the fetus experiences no discomfort during a hiccuping session. This is all wonderfully reassuring because as a worrisome mother already, you can only imagine the anxiety I was experiencing during these daily - sometimes multiple times a day - rituals. But if they are normal and possibly an indication of a healthy baby, well go on, my son, go on with the rhythmic bops. Anything to keep you healthy.

Week 34! No rhythmic bops in this shot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Status Update: Week 34

Here we are...< 6 weeks to go before D-Day. All in all, I'm feeling pretty good! I have resigned to the fact that trying to sleep is a lost cause. Truthfully, I do sleep, but it's not a restful night's sleep. How can it be when you are tormented by limited sleep positions, have difficulty 'getting comfortable' and taunted by an overactive bladder. (In actuality, I only get up once on average to pee - although sometimes it's more like twice a night. I consider myself lucky.) I decided to sleep on the couch last night, thinking it would provide a more comfortable place of rest. Plus I didn't want to keep annoying Joe with my chronic tosses and turns. It's bad enough we have a giant imposing snake (it's a body pillow people, don't be dirty!) separating us and infringing on his space and between that and my restlessness, I figured he could use a night off. So, I did what any dutiful, loving and selfless wife did: I gave up the bed for the couch. His first words to me this morning, "Why did you sleep on the couch? What did I do now? Was I snoring again?" LOL. Good husband.

I had my final bi-weekly doctor's appointment this morning. From now on, it's a weekly visit to the doctor's office. We listened to the heartbeat (150 bpm!), so a strong heart rate! Baby G's presentation is also good: He is head down as he has been for the last few weeks. I have a final ultrasound week 38 to see his official presentation and to confirm that I am set for a vaginal delivery. Another piece of good news: I only gained one pound since the last visit. Thank. God. There is nothing more troubling than the nurse telling me, "Oh honey, you gained a few more pounds than average this week." And believe me - that's happened a couple of times already. Once I got to the office, I realized how swollen my ankles were (my feet seem to be okay but ankles are a different story.) I kicked off my shoes and socks and put my feet up on the office's nice leather ottoman. This is my new signature, feet up and [trying] to relax. After all, I only have a few more weeks to go before relaxation becomes obsolete. 

Notice the swollen ankles. Thank God for plush footrests and a relaxed office.

Off to bed now. My real bed that is. Not sure if I can do two back to back nights on the couch. I'm not that considerate. :-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Showered with Love x Two

No pregnancy is complete without a baby shower... well, not in a literal sense, but what a wonderful way to prepare for the big arrival by having a celebration all about YOU and the BABY! I welcomed week 32 of my pregnancy with a baby shower that included family and dear friends. I was deeply moved by the kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness of the people in attendance (and those who were celebrating with me in absentia). I must thank my mother in law for hosting a LOVELY shower with no detail overlooked! Equal thanks to my sister in law - Annie, my best friend - Christina, my mother - Tereza and stepmother - Patricia who all helped pull off a truly fantastic day. 

Here are a few pics...

No introduction needed!

"The Hartford" girls - I worked with them for years
From left to right: Meri, Michele, Jade, Carrie, Me, Amanda and Kerry

Me and CP (Christina)

Me and Jessica (my coworker at NCR - we've been cube-mates for 7 years now!)
God, I hope I have her body after I have the baby (she's a mom!)

Family! From left to right: Huguette, Micha, Monique, Me and Natalie

With CP this time

With Shannon who is also expecting!

With the moms (my mom left and mother in law, Maria, right)

With Mom
With Maria

With stepmom Patricia

With my cousin Desiree and sweet Aunt Judy

Cute pic! Foreground and clockwise: Ambry, Aunt Rita, Grandma, Mom, Maria and Annie

Maria's good friend Patty, Joe's Aunt Rita and Joe's Grandma (who looks thrilled to be there!)

I'm full...
But there's always room for CAKE! This was so delicious.
A vanilla cake with lemon filling (a pregnant woman's dream!) Thanks Dad and Patricia!

And CUPCAKES! Thank you sweet Ambry!

Now it's gift time!
Go Knights! (This was more for Joe...haha!)

Cute outfits!
For Julian's trips to Disney!

A sweater vest to match daddy's attire

My dear friend Carrie made these circles that spell out JULIAN (they are now hanging above his crib!)
A complete outfit with SHOOOZ!

But this is probably the funniest's an actual children's book. Notice the title! This was from my friend Jason who knows no boundaries in life. :-)
With Daddy Joe who made an appearance
Joe is proud of the 'accomplishment' lol

And if I didn't receive enough gifts at that coworkers surprised me with an office shower one week later! My boss who is based in Atlanta flew down for the day to celebrate!


With my boss Caroline!
This is so cool...they took Julian's ultrasound picture and had a bakery recreate it on the cake!

With my baby!

Opening MORE gifts!

Love these outfits

Thank you everyone who helped us prepare to welcome Julian Nash! Only 6 weeks to go!

Main shower: 10/8/11 
Office shower: 10/14/11