Newborn Photo Shoot

Today, my mom and I took Gregory for his first photo shoot. He was a perfect model, asleep and easily posable the entire time– until we took off his clothes, that is.

Here are a few of my favorites. For the rest, you can check this Facebook link.

I got an 8x10 of this one to frame for our house!

Our lil Christmas present πŸ™‚

Drunk old man

Our precious boy

Finally awake

Expressive faces

Probably my favorite expression

What's going through his head?

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10 Day Appt.

Today was a bit traumatic. I’ve been dreading our 10 day appt. more than labor.

Why?

Because that’s when they perform the circumcision.

Luckily, they made me go wait in the park while my mom and Jesse stayed with Gregory and the midwife. They injected him with Lidocaine– after that, they assured me that he felt nothing. In fact, Cherie said he just stared at her silently the entire procedure, even falling asleep afterwards.

But it was still hard for me to see the board that they strapped him to, sitting on the table with all the “tools”. They called me back in as soon as he was done so that I could nurse him for comfort. They also instructed us on proper care, then kept us there for about an hour for observation. We go back next week for another checkup, just to make sure it’s healing properly.

In happier news (because who likes talking about circumcision?), I weighed myself on the birth center’s scale, seeing as it’s the same one I used all throughout pregnancy. I have lost all but ONE POUND of the baby weight! Yay for finally being able to wear all of my old clothes! It will be nice wearing things that don’t make me look like an open umbrella.

Also, Gregory is packing on the weight! He not only regained his birth weight of 8lbs. in 10 days (takes 2 weeks for most babies), but also added an extra 4 oz.! Yup, he eats like David, that’s for sure πŸ™‚

Our Birth Story

Gregory is now a whopping 8 days old, so I figured it was about time that I wrote out our birth story.

I’ve decided to include 2 versions: one for the faint at heart, the second for a more accurate picture of what happened.

The first version: I started pre-labor at around 5am, Saturday the 16th. Jesse and I tried everything the midwife was advising, but my contractions (which were real and very uncomfortable, sometimes lasting 1.5 minutes) were not regulating themselves, indicating that I wasn’t in active labor. Sometimes they were coming every 10 minutes, sometimes every 24. At around 4pm, my midwife Cherie called and told me to pack our bags and come on down to the birth center for a checkup.

Once there, Cherie did an exam and found I was 3 cm dilated. She said the baby was coming, one way or another, within the next day or two, it was just a matter of how tired I would be from all the pre-labor once active labor kicked in. Her solution was to break my water in order to start active labor. Within 10 minutes of walking around the block to “get things started”, my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart. Within 15, they were 1-2 minutes apart. At 6pm we walked back to the birth center and were brought to the upstairs birth room (someone else was already laboring in the downstairs room– busy weekend for the birth center!). We immediately began trying different comfort measures as things got harder and harder. Around 9pm, the other midwife, Beverly, checked me and said I was still only 7 inches dilated. Apparently, Gregory’s head was not in the proper position, which was inhibiting dilation. At around midnight was when we began pushing. He crowned around 1:45am, and at 2:22am he was born!

Second version: This one includes more of the gory details. Just a fair warning.

At 5pm once we arrived at the birth center, I was feeling pretty exhausted, having only gotten 3 hrs of sleep the night before (we had stayed out late at Starbucks with the Unruhs). I was also feeling very discouraged, seeing as I’d been having contractions for 12 hrs. I was really worried I’d have to go days like this.

The minute Cherie said, “You’re going to have this baby tonight!”, however, I felt relieved. Courtney and I have talked about how pregnancy is like training and training for a marathon, only, not ever knowing when it is supposed to begin. The anticipation begins to eat at you.

Relief turned to concentration, as I barely had time to recover anymore between contractions. As Jesse and I walked around the park, we called Jenny and Jason, asking them to bring dinner to us once everything was over (this was supposed to be Julie’s job, but she was out of town for the weekend).

We walked back to the birth center once I felt like I couldn’t walk anymore. Debbie, the nurse, brought us to the upstairs birth room. Jesse and I tried different positions we were taught during our class, using the birth ball, pillows on the bed, you name it. Things were so intense though, that not a lot was happening. I was pretty convinced I was already in transition, although that didn’t occur until much later. The contractions were only 1-2 minutes apart, and they were pretty intense.

Then Beverly came up to check me. She said that I was still only 4 cm dilated, mostly because Gregory’s head was not only tilted, it was pulled back towards my tailbone. The next couple minutes were the most painful of the whole experience. While I was in each contraction, Beverly used her fingers to literally PULL my cervix forward into position. I thought the contractions hurt before– this was twice as bad. But she assured me this was the only way to get him into proper position for full dilation to occur. This went on for about 1/2 hr. NOT FUN. But the way he was facing and tilting was the reason for all the back labor I was experiencing (back labor= intense tailbone/back pain, like tons of sharp knives being shoved in).

A lot of the details get fuzzy from here on out. It’s amazing how much you forget in just a week! I remember that I kept repeating I wanted to get in the shower, since hot water has always been very comforting. In fact, I had actually wanted to labor and give birth in the tub, but the downstairs birth room had been taken just moments before we got there. The shower, then, was the only option.

Beverly did want me to use the toilet first, however. It was here that the contractions got so bad I started uncontrollably throwing up. Jesse and Beverly has both walked away for a moment, so all the Gatorade and water I’d been drinking all day went on the floor and my lap. They ran in with a pan so I could finish.

I stayed in the shower until it stopped feeling good. Beverly (or Jesse, I don’t remember) helped me into my “birthing gown”, as I like to call it. The midwife had suggested I buy a black short nightgown to use for the birth, so that if there were pictures, they would be “share-able”. Β We went back to the birthing room, where I labored some more with Jesse. I tried really hard not to keep throwing up, because Beverly had said that if I did, they would need to put me on an IV for fluids. Eventually, however, I couldn’t help it, and I started throwing up again. Let me tell you, throwing up during contractions HURTS, mostly because the act of throwing up causes another contraction to start right on the heels of the previous one.

Here, I insert a part of the story that Jesse told me happened. Β I don’t really remember it. Back when Jesse and I discussed our birth plan, I said I would want only want pain medication under two conditions– if I was given pitocin (which induces transition-like contractions without any of the build up– very very painful!), or if labor went longer than 16 hours. We reached the 16 hour mark at 9pm. At this time, it was 10pm. All of a sudden, I said to Jesse, “I’m going.” He said, “going? where? to the bathroom?”. “No, to the hospital.” I said. “I want pain meds. I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore.” But I didn’t actually move or go anywhere.

After that, Jesse and I finally found a position that really worked for me to manage the contractions. Using the bed post, I straddled the bean shaped birth ball, rocking back and forth. I think that this helped keep all the weight off my back. The rocking also helped me distribute the pain more evenly throughout my hips so that no one place was taking the brunt of the whole contraction. In between the contractions, I would fall back on Jesse’s chest, since he was sitting behind me on a stool, massaging my back and applying our hot rice socks. We got into a really good rhythm– it was the first time I thought to myself, “I can do this! It’s not so bad!”

That feeling ended abruptly when Beverly came back again to inflict the cervix-pulling exercise. She made me get rid of the birth ball, instead just having me squat on the ground with my hands still on the bed post. During the contraction, she would “pull”, in between, I would stand up and catch my breath. At this point, they started feeding me some Coco Cola through a straw, all in an effort to perk me up and give me more energy (apparently, that’s what all the IV fluids were supposed to have done, but I was too wiped for it to make a difference).

Eventually, once I was at 9cm, they put a mirror down there and told me to start pushing. I had always said I didn’t want the mirror (it’s a common thing) because I’d be grossed out, but it was actually SUPER helpful. I could visualize what I was doing and what was working. Eventually, we could see the smallest white circle.

“That’s the head! He must be bald!” Beverly said.

Obviously, he isn’t bald. What we were seeing was the very back of his neck. His head was so tilted that he was literally coming out neck first.

Cherie had joined us by this time, seeing as the woman downstairs had finally given birth. She took a look, then told me the white circle was as big as a dime. Once it was a silver dollar, we could head to the bed for the final pushing stage.

I’m very goal oriented, so this imagery really helped. I was determined that these contractions were sooo bad, I wasn’t going to let a single one go by without it being profitable in some way. What I found was that pushing actually HELPED the pain, which gave me even more of an incentive to work with my body. I pushed as hard as I could for an hour, before it was finally time to finish pushing on the bed.

Here’s where we hit a few more roadblocks. The position they had me pushing in– on my my back, knees in the air, feet supported by Jesse on one side and Cherie on the other, was causing me to hyperventilate. I didn’t realize I was breathing so fast– I was simply trying to use every ounce of my being to get Gregory out!Β As a result of me breathing so fast, they had to let my legs rest in between contractions. This caused Gregory to slide back in after every contraction, eliminating any progress made.

In between every contraction, they checked Gregory’s heart rate with a doppler. At this point, Cherie looked at me and said that his heart rate was becoming sporadic, as a result of my fast breathing and being stuck too long in the birth canal. She made it clear that although I was doing my best to push as hard as I could, my uterus was completely worn out from 21 hours of contractions. Gregory was in distress, and needed to come out now to avoid huge complications for him.

This was the only point during the whole labor where I got scared. I also panicked and felt guilty. Here was my baby, within inches of being born, and my body was unable to push him out, no matter how hard I tried.

Cherie then said that if I couldn’t get him out with one more contraction, she was going to need to perform an episiotomy. Jesse could see that I was panicking, so he said a few quick pep talk words. One more contraction went by, with no results. Cherie gave me the warning– on the next contraction she was going to perform the episiotomy. It happened– yeah, it sucked, but at that point, everything was happening so fast, that I didn’t care any more. I just wanted to know that Gregory was safe.

That’s when Cherie told me to push now, without a contraction. It was tough, because contractions tend to help the whole process! But it turns out this is the best way to get a baby out once there’s been an episiotomy– they can “control the damage” better, so to speak.

I pushed on my own, and out came Gregory. Right as I heard him cry, I heard Cherie tell Jesse to catch him. They helped pull his head out, and all of a sudden, he just slipped right out. I remember feeling his shoulders and body. It felt like a bag of bones, falling out. Kinda weird to describe, but now I wouldn’t trade remembering that sensation for anything.

And there he was! They put him on my chest, and I just remember recognizing his face (I used to stare at his ultrasound photo), and yet feeling like I’d just seen the most unique face I’d ever encountered. It was just how I’d always dreamed I’d meet my first baby.

And then they were cleaning me off, cleaning Gregory off (he pooped all over everything as a result of the distress he was in), giving me a shot of pitocin to slow the bleeding and stitching me up. And all was well!

Overall: While I banned the words, “another” and “next” from any conversation those first few days (unless they included words like “adoption” or “epidural”), by Friday I was already dreaming about my next child’s birth, reliving Gregory’s and realizing I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Sure, I would’ve liked labor to be shorter. But I’m also glad I got to feel everything. I know that sounds weird, but I can’t imagine missing out on that final few moments. The rest pretty much sucked, but the pushing stage ended up being my favorite part. The pain was totally doable– if I hadn’t been so tired, things would’ve been even more manageable.

I’m also very grateful that I had him at the birth center. Jesse and I are pretty convinced that had I chosen to have him at the hospital, I probably would’ve been advised to have a C-Section, as there were multiple places in which it could’ve just seemed like my body wasn’t able to progress. Turns out, there was a reason, and although their methods were a little un-orthodox, the midwives were patient and worked with my body for hours in an effort to let it do what it was made to do.

I am recovering well. All eight of my stitches have dissolved, and my tailbone (which the midwife is pretty sure I fractured as a result of all the back labor) has healed. Gregory had a slight case of jaundice the first few days, but we cured it by taking him out in the sunlight for 2-3 minute intervals.

So there you have it– our birth story! I might have Jesse post something covering the details I can’t remember. Another viewpoint might be interesting as well.

G’s First Park Outing

It rained a lot today

No. Way.

I feel bad posting something so negative about motherhood when it’s really a complete blessing. So, I thought I’d share an added incentive– if you breastfeed, the pounds literally MELT away. Literally. I just weighed myself for the first time, and I’ve lost 20 POUNDS in one week. No joke. I can’t believe it either!

So, for all you females out there, GET PREGNANT! BREASTFEED! IT WORKS!

Battle of the Liquids

Some people said that my last post made them want to be a mother.

Warning: This post might make you laugh. It might make you cry. But it is in no way going to promote motherhood.

The Battle of the Liquids began last night, right after I finished my 40 weeks post. I went in to see Jesse, fast asleep with Gregory on his chest.

So cute.

And Claire, laying on the bed next to them. With 4 spots of blood next to her.

NOT CUTE.

Yes, you guessed it. Claire’s little doggy body chose NOW to begin her “womanlies” again. UGHHHH (seriously, why isn’t this dog spayed yet?). Two babies, both in diapers! It’s kind of funny, they both wear the newborn size! Of course, Gregory has the nice organic Huggies ones that Courtney got him. Claire’s are a $3 generic brand.

Jesse looked up, eyes full of dismay. He is so exhausted, earlier he had forgotten to pull the parking brake when we went to move his Mustang to a better parking spot. As a result, he got out and the car kept rolling. I, of course, am hypersensitive to danger right now, so I screamed.

So helpful.

Anyways, you get the point. He’s super super tired and had to get up in 6 hours for work. So I commanded him to go lay down in the guest/baby room, where Julie usually sleeps. He put up a 1/2 second protest, then handed Gregory to me and stumbled to bed.

So there I was, at 2am, still cleaning the blood stains off the sheets, doing a cold pre-soak, scrubbing with some color safe bleach. These are my favorite sheets, people, by a long shot, and I wasn’t about to let them go without a fight. I finished and put different sheets on the bed.Β And then, of course, Gregory needed another feeding…by 3am I finally got my first “nap” of the night. I say “nap”, because babies eat every 2-3 hours.Β Luckily, nursing has taken a huge turn for the better, so this activity isn’t as despair-inducing as it used to be.

Thank God, because I needed every ounce of optimism for the morning. Since Gregory is currently sleeping next to our bed in the Pack n’ Play, I keep a few diapers, wipes, and a changing pad in the attached diaper stacker. See, babies also poop and pee every 2-3 hours, sometimes more if you’re Gregory. Jesse and I realized that it was much easier to throw a new diaper on him without having to walk to his changing table in the other room.

Easier, unless Gregory decides to poop again AFTER the diaper is off. Not just poop, but PROJECTILE ORANGE poop. The orange part is all normal, that’s the stage he’s in. The projectile part? That was a Gregory Special.

SO GROSS.

Since I was sitting in front of him on the bed, the projectile poop went all over my lap, my legs, and all the blankets and burp rags in between us. I was completely shocked and couldn’t move for a moment. That’s all it took for him to also spray pee everywhere.

I started grabbing every wipe, rag, you name it within arm’s reach. And then I remembered, the mattress pad! The mattress! I jumped up, and pulled the sheets over in an attempt to keep it from soaking through to our nice rest warmer mattress pad. Yeah right. Liquid poop doesn’t wait for tired brain cells.

Gregory doesn’t like being wet or dirty. He’s a very hygienic boy. So he promptly started screaming, seeing as he doesn’t like being left in a puddle of his own poo. I wiped off my legs as best I could, ran him over the changing table in the other room, changed him, and put him in the Pack n Play. I then gathered up the whole messy bundle, pre-treated as much of the poo stains as I could, moved the PREVIOUS dirty sheets from the washer to the dryer, and dumped the whole poo bundle into the washer for a pre-soak. I stripped off my pajamas and added them to the mix.

I heard Gregory screaming his head off. “That’s odd”. I thought, because Gregory only cries when he’s hungry or has a dirty diaper.

Yup. Wet again, head to toe in pee. In his defense, I am NOT very good at getting these newborn diapers to securely wrap around his waist. He may have my face, but he definitely has Jesse’s long, thin torso, making it nearly impossible for me to cinch the diapers any tighter without cutting off his circulation. So the pee just goes right out the top, all over him!

Right then, Courtney called about Gregory’s naming prayers, which were supposed to happen tonight. I quickly explained the situation. She asked, “are you crying, or laughing?”. I realized that I was laughing– I couldn’t help it! The situation couldn’t get much more gross!

But I realized that I’m grateful. I’m grateful that my natural impulse in this situation was to laugh instead of cry. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me to cry. They say the “Baby Blues” (not to be confused with Postpartum Depression, which occurs later), happens to 70% of women in the first two weeks. Perhaps it’s too early to say whether I’ve dodged this bullet, but I’d say that laughing in the midst of the Battle of the Liquids is a promising sign.

40 Weeks

I know I’m a couple days early, but this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

On Becoming a Mother

This will be my first “written” post since the birth, but it’s still not the “birth story”…hopefully I will have the time and energy for that later today, because already God is working his mommy magic on the brain. In other words, I am already starting to forget certain things. That’s pretty much the only way women are willing to do this, in my opinion. In order to ensure the procreation of the species, the female brain feeds on any memories pertaining to the 3rd trimester and labor experience.

What I wanted to do was give a quick update about how the last few days have been. All I can say is that they’ve been the most trying, yet most rewarding and special days of my life thus far. Hands down.

Physically, I am healing super super well. The stitches from the episiotomy (again, birth story later) are almost gone and don’t hurt. The postpartum bleeding has all but stopped. Almost all of my 3rd trimester annoyances have gone away, leaving me feeling healthier than I have in months (I can actually write again!).

But emotionally, I’ve come to a few realizations that are completely changing who I am as a person, deep-down on the core level, and I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Our childbirth classes were worth their weight in gold, and not necessarily in the way that you’d think. We learned lots of positions and comfort measures for the trials of labor and, while they were helpful, I didn’t have a “textbook labor” by a long shot, so some of it wasn’t relevant.

Instead, what I find really valuable is the way it gave Jesse and I the confidence to work as a team. The Bradley method focuses on the husband or partner as the one in charge of directing the woman. It opens and establishes lines of communication, teaching him how to minister to her when she’s hurting, direct her when the pain makes her unresponsive or unclear, and see clearly when everything seems whacky. We practiced all sorts of things during the class, along with being given “homework” for certain conversations I’m sure we wouldn’t have otherwise had.

In the process, we discovered a lot about ourselves and the ways that we work together. And, as a result, it spilled over into the rest of our lives. I’ve been a lot better at accepting direction from Jesse in tough situations these past few days.

For example, there has been at least one “Come to Jesus” moment every night over the trials of breastfeeding (no one ever told me it’d be THIS hard!) combined with sleeplessness.Β One night in particular, when I was too tired to care anymore that Gregory wasn’t “latching properly”, Jesse brought him in for the 3rd time and said, “Listen, Kelly. Our son is hungry, and it’s because he’s not eating right. I went out and found the paperwork Linda gave us on breastfeeding. I know it’s hard and you’re tired, but I’m going to help you. We’re not going to sleep until we get this. We can do it.”

And he followed through. Stayed up with me, through the tears and emotions, and worked it out. I didn’t even think about whether or not to trust his direction, it just happened automatically. I could’ve been prideful and stubborn, insisting that the way I was doing things was fine and/or the best I could do, but that didn’t even occur to me. He was the leader, calling the shots, and it was nice to be able to fall back and trust him on it.

We also learned that I am very bad at sincerely asking for help. Sure, I can be “bossy” and jokingly order him around at times, but when I truly need it, I get afraid and wait for him to offer. We realized this during one of the classes where Jesse was practicing different massage techniques meant for active labor on me. Afterwards as we debriefed, I said that the only hard part about it all was I felt afraid to tell him what felt good and what didn’t. I was afraid that I was dragging him to these classes and that he would rather be doing something else and would resent all the attention being paid to me. He immediately responded with, “Wow! The only frustrating part for me was that I felt useless and ineffective because you weren’t communicating and I had to keep guessing!”Β It was good to talk about how this happens more often than we’d like to admit– I wait for him to volunteer help because I’m afraid of “taking advantage of him”. He’s usually wanting to help, but can’t since he isn’t being given all the information needed! Since then, we’ve established a way for Jesse to say, not in a bossy way, “Don’t play games. Tell me exactly what it is you want. Trust that I will do it if I can, and that I will only say no if there is a good reason.”

And let me be clear, because all of you know how independent and stubborn I can be. This automatic lead-follow hasn’t taken away any of my style or identity. Instead, it’s given me all the best strengths of his personality to mold with mine. When there is trust and love, there is no “over-running” or “superiority”. There are just strengths amplifying strengths. The midwives noticed this during the birth. One of the midwives was asking me to do something, and since it was painful, I guess I was resisting (I don’t remember things all too clearly). Finally, the other midwife said, “Get Jesse to ask her. That girl would do anything for her coach.”

2. I’ve blogged many times about my fears over becoming a mother, and what that’s going to mean for my life. I’ve fretted and worried about what it’s going to be like to stay home, changing diapers all day, taking time away from things that I like to read and study, getting in the way of me making money, etc. In the end a few weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that I was just going to have to grin and bear it– one of the necessary negatives to bringing a beautiful human being into the world. I had decided that although I wouldn’t necessarily “enjoy” being a stay at home mom for most of the day, it was a type of surrender and martyrdom.

So far, however, even though the “newborn stage” is said to be the most trying, I don’t think I could’ve been more wrong about my conclusions. Last night, after I got done feeding Gregory, I was all of a sudden mesmerized by him. I couldn’t stop looking at his toes, legs, soft cheeks and lips, and, probably due to the hormones, I started crying. Jesse finished his shower, came out, saw the tears, and immediately asked what was wrong. I explained that I couldn’t believe how wrong I was about devoting my life to raising this baby. It wasn’t a necessary evil, full of tribulations to shoulder, hoping to make it to the other side. It was a privilege, something I’m not even worthy to be granted. How could I ever possibly think for even a second that the things I care about– grad school, building my business– should take precedence or even come close to the same level of importance as having a baby and raising it? It’s almost as though I said, “God, I want to make things with my mind!” and God said, “I’m going to give you something even better and make you a human being.”

Not to get too theological, because hormones + extreme sleep deprivation= recipe for heretical statements, but it reminds me a lot of the incarnation and why we need Jesus in the first place. The Pharisees wanted their ambitions and dreams, their promised “theoretical” Messiah. Instead, God chose to give them the real person of Jesus Christ, flesh and body and so much more than they could’ve asked for. In fact, it was so much more, that they failed to recognize it.

I’m so glad that God put the desire for being a mother into my heart, because otherwise I might have done exactly what the Jews did, desperately clinging to my mud pies when God was trying to give me a feast.

Pictures

Too legit to quit

New booties!

Such a poser

Facebooking with Daddy

Gregory and Godmother

Julie meets Gregory for the first time!

Gregory Lawrence

For those of you who don’t check Facebook or live overseas or under a rock, Gregory Lawrence was born October 17th at 2:22 am after 21 hours of non-medicated labor. He is exactly 8 lbs., 21 inches long!

The birth story will be forthcoming, but for now just rest assured that all 3 of us Cones are at home and doing great! Praise God!

Right after they checked his vitals and cleaned him up a bit

I know. I look exhausted! And kinda puffy from the 3 liters of fluids they gave me through the IV. That's what happens when you throw up lots!

Visitors who waited 5-6 hours to meet the newest Cone

I wonder if they're next!

What a great godmother, helping Jesse put a diaper on him!

Proud as can be Daddy!

Calling my mom at 5am! Luckily she kept her phone on by her bed.

Our little family, leaving the birth center

Awwww!

Clarabelle checking him out