Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Birth Story: Part 1

Since I have nothing exciting to share today, I thought I would recount the birth story of Gabe. Hopefully to be followed at a not-so-distant time in the future by the birth story of Nick.

Oscar and I were married on October 30th, 2004. It was a beautiful ceremony at the main post church on Ft. Meade. I wore my mother’s wedding dress (altered to fit). I went with a fall color scheme of red, orange, and yellow. My friend Jen and Oscar’s sister were my bridesmaids. They wore simple floor-length red dresses. The best man was Oscar’s brother and his other attendant was my brother. I used fake flowers for the bouquets, and still have mine to this day.

We honeymooned for a week in Hawaii, it was beautiful and magical, and everything a honeymoon should be. I discovered I was pregnant three weeks later – which happened to be a few days after my 23rd birthday. Of course the timing couldn’t have been worse, even if we had agreed to a let’s see what happens approach to having a baby. So Gabe was definitely planned, I just wasn’t expecting him so soon.

You see, in June I had reenlisted for three years with a two-year guaranteed assignment in Colorado. Oscar and I had planned to do the time apart until he got out in January. We would have spent every holiday weekend available together and used our leave for additional time. We would have made it work. We had just sold our townhouse in Maryland and I had scheduled the date for the movers to come pick up our stuff. We were about to sign a contract for a townhouse in Colorado.

And I was pregnant. That changed everything. I had no desire to be alone in Colorado AND pregnant. There was no guarantee that Oscar would be able to make it in time for the birth, and then I would be dealing with a newborn mainly by myself. So we tried to get him an assignment out there, with little success. So instead I chose to leave the Army and stay in Maryland.

Oscar was so excited about the baby that he actually tried to plan me a surprise baby shower. His mom and sister drove up for it. His mom had made a diaper cake and planned games. Unfortunately all my friends sucked and none of them showed up (most of them missed my wedding too, hmmm…), although a couple friends of Oscar’s came. It was very sweet and I really appreciated the thought and effort.

I then had to find a regular job, hopefully one in Virginia, because that’s where Oscar is from. Also, his mother has always been a stay-at-home mom and wanted to be the only one to watch the new baby. Which is how I ended up in Northern Virginia. The military hospital I was using for my OB was in Bethesda, which was about a 45-minute drive from our apartment.

I did not end up starting my new job until three weeks before I was due, which of course I made sure was known before I was hired. That was interesting. Here I am, 37 weeks pregnant and starting a new job. I stayed with my in-laws while Oscar was up in Maryland cleaning up our apartment before our move to Virginia. We moved the week before Gabe was due and spent the weekend prior getting his room set up. I was so worried we wouldn’t have everything set up in time.

The theme for his room was the Original Pooh and the furniture was purchased from J.C. Penney. My MIL made a number of items for his room, including a cover for his Boppy, extra sheets, and a diaper stacker. I can still picture his room in my mind. The mirrored doors that ran the length of one wall. The big window with his rocking chair sitting in front of it. His dresser and changing table were right next to each other, and his crib was right by the door. His bassinet was kept under the window in our bedroom.

The ladies I worked with were very sweet and actually planned a baby shower for me on August 2nd, about a week before my August 6th due date.Unfortunately, my baby boy decided that he didn’t want to wait until the 6th and I started having contractions around 3:00 pm on the 1st. It was funny; all the ladies were so disappointed that there wouldn’t be cake. Also, Oscar was currently at our company headquarters signing the paperwork for his new job. It wasn’t ideal, since it was a shift work job, which included nights and weekends. However, the pay was good, and well, he needed a job, since he had just been med boarded from the military.

He had dropped me off at work that morning, so he raced over to my office to pick me up, and I insisted he go back and finish signing the paperwork, since that would be one less thing to worry about and the contractions had only just started. Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat at Wendy’s.

I was up most of the night with the contractions, often pacing. I got to see what the mucus plug looks like (ewwww). I also called the hospital a couple times. Finally around 5 in the morning we drove to the hospital. There was an express exit near our apartment, which was open in the direction we needed to head. However, Oscar was so worried about getting to the hospital in time that he was speeding, and of course we got pulled over. Luckily the officer was nice and let us go with a warning, since I was in labor.

The contractions were super painful at this point and all I wanted was to be checked in and given drugs. I am not the natural type. Pain? No thank you. They examined me as soon as I got settled into a birthing room, and told me that I was already 9cm dilated, was I sure I wanted an epidural? I said, yes, of course, as long as there is time to give it to me. Thankfully there was, since Gabe was delivered about two hours later at 7:04 a.m. via forceps. Apparently he had gotten the cord caught around his neck halfway out, so they used forceps to pull him out.

His arrival coincided with shift change, so his distress prompted my room to be filled with two shifts worth of doctors and nurses. My hoohaw was on display for everyone to see. Although I didn’t really care because my baby was in distress, and dammit I want to see my baby. Oscar was not able to cut the cord because he was taken to be examined as soon as he was out to ensure he was all right. He weighed in at 6 lbs, 13.9 oz and was 19 inches long.

All I wanted was my baby, and of course he needed to be fully examined. I was so anxious, I hadn’t had much experience with babies and suddenly my baby is here, and was he all right? It was much longer before I finally got to hold him. We tried breastfeeding, but that was a frustrating process. He got supplemented with formula a lot during our three-day stay. He also was taken to the NICU a few times to be examined since he was diagnosed with a heart murmur, which he still has.

Those first few weeks and months flew by so quickly. It took so long to heal from the delivery. I did not receive an episiotomy, and due to the method of delivery, I ended up with a third degree tare. I remember shortly after we came home from the hospital, maybe a day or two later, Oscar forced me to take a walk. We only walked out of our apartment complex to the corner, and yet it was so painful.

The first few weeks were great, because he was on leave from the military, and hadn’t started his new job yet. So we were home together. It was after that, when I was still on maternity leave, and often alone with Gabe that things got harder. Or when Oscar was working nights and weekends and I was working during the week. I was so tired and Gabe would often cry for hours on end and nothing I would do would get him to stop. In the evenings I would often call my MIL to come over to help me. Because I was alone. And desperate for him to stop crying.

Breastfeeding didn’t work out very well for us. We didn’t bond well to begin with, and getting a latch was always difficult. So he was partially formula-fed pretty much from day one. Also, my job at the time, didn’t really have a place for me to pump while at work. I mean, there was a health office in the basement that had a couple rooms, but I worked on the fourth floor, on the opposite side of the building. So I only pumped once a day at lunch. Also, I had a Playtex pump, that didn’t seem to be powerful enough to get much milk.

I continued nursing Gabe in the mornings before I dropped him off at my MIL’s and in the evenings before I he went to bed. I also managed to pump about three ounces at lunch. However, by six months he was officially uninterested, preferring a bottle or pacifier to suck on over me. He adored his pacifier from the moment the nurses first gave him one at the hospital. In his newborn picture his lips are pursed and his eyes are staring off to the side because we removed his pacifier right before the photo was taken and he’s staring at it, waiting to get it back.

We moved from our apartment to a townhouse a few months after Gabe was born. The months flew by so quickly with Gabe. I remember that he was a pumpkin for his first Halloween, at the advanced age of three months. We went over to my MIL's, while she gave out candy. I don't remember exactly when he learned to sit up or pull himself to standing, but I do remember that his first word was "ba" (ball). I remember that he loved to zoom around with a little push cart that assisted him with walking. His first step occurred on the August 6th, which was the Sunday after his first birthday party and I have it on camera.

His first birthday party was at my MIL's on August 5th. The theme was Curious George, because he loves monkeys. I made the carrot cake and frost recipe from What to Expect the First Year. The guest list was small, with only three children in attendence - my MIL's neighbor's grandchild who is a month and a half younger, my coworkers daughter, and his 2nd cousin. I made the mistake of trying to open gifts at the party.

He started gym classes at 13 months, and made some good friends in those classes, we still hang out with them to this day. I loved those early gym classes, with Oscar and I both in the room with him. It's one of the things I regret we can't do for Nick. Gabe's first gym class was traumatic - he spent most of the time crying and clinging to Oscar or me. However, the second went much better and he quickly grew to love going. Shortly after that we moved from the townhouse we were renting to an apartment.

At 18 months, he figured out how to climb out of his crib, but not how to do it without falling. We choose to convert his crib to a toddler bed, which made bedtime so much more difficult, since he could now get out of bed to voice his complaints. Had I known about those cool mesh crib nets that you can put over top of cribs, I think I would have opted for that over the toddler bed, but hindsight is 20/20.

His 2nd birthday party was at a moon bounce place, which we had discovered when we attended the birthday party of one of his friends from gym class. The theme was again Curious George. His cake was from Costco, although my MIL also made him a cake. We invited most of the children from his gym class, as well as his cousin. It was a great party. We did not open the gifts at the party, having learned by attending other parties, that it wasn't what people did at parties.

We did a lot of fun things during his third year, despite me being all pregnant with Nick. We went to the National Zoo and the local petting zoo a couple of times. We also moved again, this time from an apartment to another townhouse. His 3rd birthday part was held at the Little Gym. During the previous year he had discovered Playhouse Disney, so the theme he choose was Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Again we chose to purchase his cake from Costco. His close friends attended, as well as the daughters of one of my coworkers.

I started blogging a few months after his 3rd birthday, so most of the stories that come afterwards are held in this blog. I'm trying so hard to capture my memories, so that I have them in years to come. Many are very foggy already, and he's not even four. I don't want to forget. That's why I started blogging. That's why I'm working so hard to get a handle on our pictures. Because I always want to be able to remember.

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