Monday, February 8, 2016

How our days look now

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It seems a bit strange to me, but the first time Chester and I had a day home on our own was the day he turned 4 weeks old. Greg was home with us for his first ten days (when we weren't at BB). And then my mom and step-dad were here up until the 4 week mark.

So now Chester and I just hang out for a good portion of the day.

Although I guess Chester is sleeping for most of our time together. He is starting to be awake for longer stretches of time, and I think it makes us both question what we are supposed to be doing with that time. He used to fall asleep while eating, sleep for a variable amount of time, wake up, get his diaper changed, then eat again and repeat. Now he doesn't fall asleep every time he is eating, so then we have time to stare at each other for awhile. Or get fussy. Sometimes we lie on our back and then on our tummy and then on our back again. Today we sat down and read half a storybook.

When Chester is asleep I like to attempt short and quick outings. Our first day together we took the bus to the store and bought taco supplies (it was a Friday) and took the bus back home, all within an hour. That was partly due to a perfectly timed return bus, for which we did a small bit of running to catch. Another day we met up with Greg to go to the library. We wanted to check out the children's section and also pick up Chester's free book, his gift for being born. They have lots of good places for feeding a baby, and a bathroom that is well-equipped for changing diapers. I plan to make use of these spaces whenever I am in town and in need.

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When we are at home I've been having a good time getting Chester comfortable being worn in the wrap. Right now we both like it a lot. He likes to fall asleep while being worn, and I like to get laundry done (or blog?) while wearing the baby. Mutually beneficial. And hopefully good training for dancing in the future(: Priorities, you know(:

Plus, bonus, when I have the wrap tied on, but Chester isn't being worn, then I feel like Rey from Star Wars.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Our time at BB

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After Chester was born we spent a few more hours in the labor & delivery room. Then we got moved to a room in the BB department, which is where you stay for the remainder of your time at the hospital. Chester was doing really great after he was born and would have been ready to go home fairly fast, but they had decided I should stay for three days for my own recovery. During those days I hardly even got out of bed. And Greg changed every single dirty diaper. Greg also fixed all of my meals for me (which the hospital provided). We also had a call button at the ready, for summoning nurses or midwives whenever we pleased. One of the most beneficial parts was that each new person who came to check on us had their own bit of advice for us. One showed us how to clean Chester's belly button with a cotton swab. A few had different thoughts or ideas about breastfeeding. Greg and I both learned a lot during that time.

That first stay (foreshadowing) at BB was such a cozy time, where we were almost in our own little Chester-centered world. I had a book and knitting along but never touched either one.

So Chester was born on a Friday, and we left BB the following Tuesday. Then on Wednesday we had a home visit from a midwife through a service that (translated) is called BB On The Road. One thing she checked was his bilirubin levels, which were too high and required us to go for a blood test at the hospital the following day. So on Thursday we went back to the hospital. Chester got checked out by a doctor and got his blood test. They told us that we could go home and they would call us back with the results in an hour. And when they called back, his levels were too high and we were told to go right back to the hospital to the BB department.

So, even though we knew that he might need to go back for the UV light treatment, I hadn't realized what kind of timeline we were talking about. I thought they would have us back the next day, since they had told us to go home. We travel by bus, so we are not particularly fast about getting around town. And because of this misunderstanding, we had just started doing laundry when they called and told us to go back. I got pretty stressed out about my failure to ask the appropriate questions and let myself get surprised with information. Due to the shared laundry situation, we waited for the washers to finish and then hung wet clothes all around our apartment (well Greg did… I was still in bed quite a lot at that point).

And back to BB we went.

We got put into a little temporary room where he could do his light treatment. They used a thing called a bili-blanket, which was a sort of flexible, plastic-y blanket thing that glowed blue that Chester had to lie on. And when he was eating I also had to hold the blanket wrapped around his back.

It was well into the evening by that point. I was feeling stressed and miserable since I hadn't brought any painkillers with me (of course simply asking for some was a solution for that). And they moved us to a permanent room. And I got a dinner (unfortunately for Greg, meals are not provided for the partner). And that was when we realized they intended to keep us overnight. Somehow I thought the light treatment was a more short-term thing. But no.

I've already forgotten the timeline, but he was getting regular blood tests to check his bilirubin levels. At some point he got an additional light, which was a lamp placed above him to shine on his belly. That one also required that he wear little sunglasses, which he did not like. We had one of my favorite nurses at that time, and she managed to get him to wear his sunglasses.

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By Friday night they were happy with his bilirubin levels, but they wanted to take him out of the lights and make sure the levels kept going down without them. So we spent a second night there, but at least Chester got a break from the sunglasses and also got to be held by me or Greg all the time. Saturday morning at 6am he got his follow-up blood test. It took several hours until a doctor was able to give us the okay for going home. We were super-ready to be out of there. I'm guessing they don't often see a room evacuated quite so quickly.

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Luckily for us, we got to leave right as my mom was arriving in Uppsala, and they even came to meet us at the hospital!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Chester!

On January 1st of 2016 Chester Alexander was born.

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He is a super amazing kid. And he happens to be asleep right now, which makes the start of my first full day alone with him pretty good. So now seems like an appropriate time to start blogging about his birth.

Here is the thing. Reading birth stories on blogs is probably one of my favorite things. I think it really helped me get comfortable with the fact that it is most likely that if you plan your birth very strictly, the reality will be very different from that, if not opposite. It makes sense to me now. Before the birth, you have ideas of how things should go and so you make plans accordingly. During labor, you just sort of go with whatever is best for the health of the baby and you at any given moment.

In my plans, I wanted as little intervention and medication as possible. In the moment I wanted all the drugs and things! Well, nearly all of it. Toward the end when I was ready to throw in the towel, I realized that the only thing left would be an emergency c-section, which motivated me into pushing properly, because I really wanted to avoid that if I could.

The other thing I can't fathom is how so many women remember the details of labor and delivery in order to be able to write out their birth stories. How? This was the hardest thing I've done, and I was so out of it that I hardly remember any of it.

These are the things I remember. I guess Greg remembers with better clarity and could probably fill out this timeline a bit.

I went into labor at 9 pm on new year's eve (or was it 11 pm?). I remember telling Greg I was going to try to go to sleep, because I read that eating food and resting up are the best things you can do.

Sometime in the middle of the night I woke Greg up. I made him start timing my contractions. And I made him push on my lower back during contractions because they said that was supposed to help.

Close to the time when the buses start running we called the hospital to talk to a midwife. She said that since it was my first baby I should take two tylenol and a hot shower. She figured it was still too early and wanted me to wait it out at home a bit longer.

I remember the shower made the contractions come even closer together. I also remember Greg asking me how long I was supposed to be in the shower, according to the midwife. I didn't know, but figured I should stay as long as I could stand.

Eventually I called back and did a better job of sounding serious, because the midwife I talked to agreed that I could go to the hospital. We called for a taxi, and the driver seemed pretty excited because I was the first woman in labor he had to drive to the hospital, so he was going to check that off his list. I got there and was put in a temporary room where they want to be able to monitor you for an hour. I stayed in that room for a long time. I was glad they didn't try to send me home, even though I was only dilated 1 cm. But they also didn't have any proper delivery rooms available, so I had to wait it out in the temporary room. At one point I puked. It ended up being a big mess, because Greg's frantic search for something to puke in resulted in a bag that unfortunately had a hole in the bottom. I was already so out of it that I didn't know the woman who came in to clean up was a different person than the one who had been checking on me (my nurse instead of my midwife).

This is where the memories start to get really patchy. I guess I got a real room. I started using the laughing gas. And then I think they let me have a higher concentration of laughing gas.

At the time when I intended to tell them I wanted an epidural, the midwife came in and said she thought I should have it.

I got the epidural, and it was apparently too effective. I couldn't feel anything from my neck to my toes. It is a really weird sensation to see people lifting and moving your legs around, knowing they are your own, but not feeling like they are a part of you.

The too-effective epidural caused a steady flow of new people in and out of the room. They were worried that it would affect the baby, so they were monitoring him and me super closely. I think I only remember this because Greg talked about it afterwards.

I do remember overhearing a conversation in Swedish where the anaesthesiologist made a comment about the epidural being "good for her" even if it was too effective, and I laughed and he was surprised to learn I understood some Swedish.

At some point I finally got to 10 cm dilated. But! It was not yet time to push, because I was not fully dilated. What? Everything I had ever heard or read said 10 cm = fully dilated. How? Why?

At another point, probably before I was to 10 cm, the epidural wore off, and a new anaesthesiologist came in after a shift change to give me a little booster. He just wanted to give me a tiny bit to avoid the previous situation.

Pushing seemed to last forever and was indescribably painful. Every time someone would suggest I was "almost there" I expected the baby to be born within the minute, which he never was. When he was finally born, they put him right on my belly. The cord was quite short, so he couldn't be higher up on my chest. Greg said I was so in shock when they put him on me. I believe that, and sort of still feel a bit of shock about how the whole thing happened.

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I remember someone telling Greg to put a hand on the baby while he was on my belly, because something was about to cause me pain and I guess they were worried I would drop the baby?

He was on my belly for a long time before I asked Greg if he knew if we had a boy or a girl. He didn't know either, so the midwife rolled the baby over for him to see. And lucky he was a boy, because we never did settle on a name for a baby girl.

Fairly quickly after he was born, Greg and I got to hang out in the room alone with our baby. I think it is nice how they just let you be alone with your baby. Later they came back and weighed and measured him. Chester was 4400 grams and 51 cm long, although Greg and I suspect that his length was a bit under-measured at birth.

I think I will stop here for now. Hopefully I'll continue to find time to write and avoid my usual blog silence(: