In an effort to keep our family blog, The Parker Pack, from being overrun by pregnancy photos and updates, I’ve started this blog, A Belly in Bloom, to record my voyage through these next 9 months. Check back often for belly pics, sonograms, and just general posts about Mom’s thoughts throughout this journey. Keep watching our original blog, The Parker Pack, to see videos, photos, and more from our day-to-day lives.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Aubrey's Birth Story

On Tuesday, I woke up feeling horribly down and emotional (see my blog post) and out of sorts. Little did I know that all of those emotions were probably due to my body getting ready for labor!

Tuesday night, after a long day, I climbed into the tub to relax. I started having contractions in the bath, and noticed that they seemed really close together. I figured they'd probably quit, since I had been having contractions for weeks now, and just stayed in the tub. When I got out, I began timing them--and they were 2 minutes apart, lasting only 30 seconds, and not very strong. I figured it was just my uterus acting weird again and decided to watch TV with Brad.

My contractions started spacing out and getting longer and stronger, but since they had started out closer together and weak, I figured they were still just Braxton Hicks. After several hours, about 10:30 PM, the contractions stabilized at every 5 minutes and began getting pretty intense, so I called my doctor for some advice--I knew it was going to take family members at least an hour to get to our house to care for Aiden, so I didn't want to wait too late, but I didn't want to rouse the troops and be sent home from the hospital for a false alarm, either. The doc called me back at midnight and told me that I was probably in early labor, but that I could labor at home until I felt them getting really intense--he encouraged me to trust my body, that I would know when to come in.

The contractions were too strong to really let me sleep, so I cat-napped on the couch between contractions, which were now about 4 minutes apart. At around 4 AM I put out the call, knowing I'd want to go to the hospital soon. Brad and I got to Medical Center of Plano around 6:30 AM and I was hooked up to the monitors. I was contracting every 4-5 minutes and had dilated to 3 cm, so they admitted me and monitored me for a while, then I got up and began walking the halls, hoping to speed things up.

Several hours later, after many walks and a couple of catnaps, they checked me again and found I was still at 3 cms, despite hours of regular contractions. The nurse put a call in to my doc, who suggested that I consider either Pitocin or having my water broken. He was at the office and had meetings to attend, so I had a couple of hours to decide what I wanted to do and to see if things would speed up on their own.

I think I must have walked about 100 miles that day! We tried natural induction methods, like nipple stimulation and walking, but when the doc arrived at 2:00 PM, I was still at 3 cm, so I agreed to have my water broken--we figured this might be enough to get things moving along, but I would be able to avoid the really intense and close-together Pitocin-induced contractions. Doc broke my water, then I was up and walking the halls again.

Within a couple of hours, the contractions got much stronger and more intense. I walked for a while, sat on the birth ball, kept moving around, and then got into the shower with the birth ball when things really got tough. I stayed in the shower for probably an hour, and despite a small flood of the bathroom floor when I blocked the drain with the ball (oops!), the water felt great and kept me relaxed between contractions. I was in a lot of pain during the contractions, but I was able to rest and relax in between, so I kept laboring naturally. Pretty soon, it was time for me to be monitored, so I had to climb out of the shower and back in to bed. This was absolute torture--at this point, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasting about a minute, and I was in a ton of pain. They checked my cervix and informed me I was only dilated to a 5, maybe a 6, so at this point, I threw in the towel and asked for an epidural. Had I been dilated to an 8, I could have gutted it out, but I still had 4-5 cms to go, which had taken me 22 hours to accomplish so far, with no sleep, so I knew I was just too exhausted to continue.

The nurse hooked me up to an IV and began running fluids in so I could get the epidural, and about an hour later, my best friend (a.k.a. the guy with the drugs) came in and gave me the epidural. He gave me what I really wanted--a light "walking" epidural that would take the edge off, but I could still move my legs around and change positions in the bed, and I could still feel my contractions.

A few minutes after getting the epidural, my blood pressure dropped and I got the shakes. Aubrey's heart rate dropped with it, and so they put me on oxygen and began moving me around to find a good position that would make her happy. The charge nurse came in and began working with my nurse, and she asked how I was feeling. I told her I was feeling a lot of pressure and described where, and she suggested that my nurse check me. It had been 15 minutes since my epidural, and I had just dilated from 6 cm to 8! They now knew why my blood pressure had dropped and Aubrey was having the decelerations in her heart rate--the quick descent and change had stressed her (and me) out. She rebounded within a minute or two and started doing well again, so they began prepping the room and getting things set-up, figuring I didn't have much longer to go. But even the nurses didn't expect me to go as fast as I did--in 15 minutes, I was complaining of a ton of pressure in my butt and groin and feeling like I needed to push, so they checked me again: I was completely dilated and Aubrey's head was practically ready to be delivered!

The nurses began scrambling and calling my doc to hurry up, while I panted and tried to not push. The nursery team and all of the delivery team were in place, I was in position, when my doc came in and quickly suited up. I pushed through 3 contractions and Aubrey was delivered--an hour after having received my epidural! 24 hours of labor, 23 of them natural and dragging along, then 1 very fast hour and she was delivered!

The delivery itself was great. With Aiden, I had had so many complications, from spiking a fever and getting a uterine infection, to having to be on medication for pre-eclampsia, to multiple decelerations in Aiden's heart rate that resulted in him having to be vacuum-extracted. When he was born, he was instantly whisked away to the NICU and I didn't get to hold him but for about a minute. But with Aubrey, I got to watch her delivery in the mirror (which I know would freak some people out, but to me, it was amazing to see), and then she was placed on my tummy for me to touch and hold as soon as she was delivered. They kept her in the room to be quickly cleaned up, then brought her to me and I was able to hold her and nurse her for a couple of hours before they came and took her to the nursery to be bathed and assessed. My doc was so relaxed and encouraging, my nurses were fantastic, everyone was laughing and joking and happy--it was such a great experience all around. It was a joyous time that matched the excitement of the moment of bringing my daughter into this world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A watched pot never boils...

I think everyone and their mother has called me in the past few days.

"Have you had that baby yet?"
"Are you still pregnant?"
"When is that kid going to come out?"

I've gotten plenty of advice on things to try to get labor started--most of them I've already been doing, some of them are just plain silly, and a couple border on dangerous or sound amazingly uncomfortable, so I'll just skip those! By the way, I don't think I've ever had so many people encourage me to have sex in my life!

I promise, everyone, when we go to the hospital, I'll post on the blog before we leave and will send an email to everyone I have an email for. After that, I'm sure you'll get phone calls from each other as to when Aubrey arrives--the family/friend phone tree has a surprising way of working on its own. And some time after the birth, I'll post pictures and the birth story on the blog.

Until then, I'm waiting.... I think I'm going to go crazy or broke trying to come up with things to distract me and keep me busy until she gets here!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

39 weeks

We're getting close! The bags are packed, care is lined up for Aiden, I'm officially on maternity leave, we've found people to cover our class of 5th and 6th graders at church, and we are SO anxious for her to get here! Now, if Aubrey will just get with the program and decide to join us on the outside, we'd be all set!

At my weekly sonogram, she looked great--measuring 7 lbs. 12 ozs, her measurements actually putting her a little ahead of schedule. She is practicing her breathing so often that now, I'll see my belly rising and falling with her "breaths." Her movements are great, the fluid volume is still optimal, and her umbilical cord is still functioning very well, so there's no rush to get her out...but her daddy and I would be very happy if she'd decide to join us sooner rather than later!

I walk with a decided waddle these days--between my pubic bone having split entirely (no cure except delivery of the baby), my back having long ago moved out of alignment, and some major sciatic nerve pain, by the day's end, my walk looks pretty awful. But that's OK--I have the "cankles" and swollen feet to match the waddle, so it's all good! My weight gain has seemed to stall at 36 pounds, but I think my butt is getting wider by the moment. I'm swollen everywhere these days--my face, my hands, my entire legs, but since my blood pressure has stayed low, my doc isn't concerned. But my engagement ring has been abandoned to my jewelry box and most of my shoes (including all of my cute fall boots) are sitting quite dejectedly at the back of my closet until after baby arrives, since I can no longer stuff my feet into them.

I know she'll be here soon enough--but what is it about these last few weeks of pregnancy that make every women wonder whether she'll be the first woman to stay pregnant forever? Or that she'll deliver by "uterine explosion" instead of vaginally or by c-section? I know, ridiculous, but these thoughts have crossed my mind!

For now, I guess I'll just keep waiting.... Hopefully, the wait won't be too long!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Does anyone know...

...if there is a place on a pregnant woman's body you can push/bang on in order to get the kid out? You know, how on a ketchup bottle, if you turn it to just the right angle and tap on the 57, the ketchup comes pouring out? I need to find that spot on my body, thank you, 'cause I'm sick of having this kid in me! Get her out, please! Maybe if I lean back at a 45 degree angle and someone taps my belly button....

By the way, before you leave me some dirty, perverted comment on where I can be "banged," just remember who you are talking to and how I got into this mess in the first can bet Brad and I have already tried all of the "obvious" spots to no avail! :) All you perverts should be ashamed....

Monday, October 27, 2008

37 Weeks

If Aubrey were to come today, she would be considered full-term, so I am officially hanging the "No Vacancy" sign in my uterus.

On Friday, I went to my OB for a check-up and my weekly NST. Aubrey is doing great--her heart rate is still in the normal range and shows good variability. My doc also checked my cervix to see if I'd made any progress, and he informed me that I'm not even quite dilated to 1 cm yet. What?! I'm still at the same dilation I was before, when I started having early labor contractions at 31 weeks! Even after all these weeks of Braxton Hicks, nothing, no progress.

My doc told me we'd schedule my induction for 40 weeks at my next appointment, but I quickly declined--I'm adamant about wanting as few interventions in this birth as possible, after having just about every intervention short of a C-section last time, so starting out with an induction seems like a horrible idea to me. I told him we can schedule an induction at 42 weeks, but not before--I may be miserable, but I'm not THAT miserable! He said he'd strip my membranes next week to see if that would help things along, and said I could spend the next few weeks doing "my part" and hopefully this kiddo will come out sometime between now and her due date (neither of us really wants me in labor on Thanksgiving, right after her due date, if we can help it along naturally). "So, basically I should spend the next few weeks walking around, keeping upright, vacuuming floors, and 'stealing my husbands prostaglandins'?" I asked. "I've never heard it put that way before," he chuckled, and sent me home to have sex with my husband. (A prescription Brad didn't mind in the least, after weeks of being "benched" while I was on bed rest.)

I've stocked up on red raspberry leaf tea and evening primrose oil supplements (2 herbal remedies that are supposed to help things along). I've been walking as much as my poor feet will allow me to, but the swelling has gotten horrible in the past few days. My poor feet look like giant loaves of bread, and my hands are looking pretty bad, too. I'm still having tons of Braxton Hicks contractions--I just hope they'll actually do something to move things along--I'm so tired of being pregnant, I could scream. My back is sore, I can't sleep at night, the heartburn is torture, my feet ache non-stop, and I feel as if I'm puffy and swollen everywhere. It is as if a cartoon character has come along and inhabited my body--I no longer recognize it as my own.

And to top it all off, none of my maternity clothes fit anymore. How this is possible, I don't know. Most of my maternity clothes are leftover from last pregnancy--in which I gained just shy of 60 pounds--and they fit fine through the end. I've only gained 34 pounds this pregnancy, yet my belly sticks out more--most of my shirts no longer cover my big ol' round tummy! (Did they shrink in storage??) So I'm stuck wearing the same 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants every day until the end--I really don't want to invest in new maternity wear that I'd only wear for a max of 3 or 4 weeks! And now my shoes are all getting too tight--at this rate, I'll be living in PJ's and house shoes all day!

Monday, October 13, 2008

35 Weeks

Only 35 days to go! Aubrey is doing great so far. Her weekly BPP's and non-stress tests (NST's) have all come back great so far, meaning she is doing very well in there. She has been practicing her breathing in the uterus for weeks now, so if she were to come early, the chances are good that she would not need any special help with breathing and would be able to come home with Mom and Dad from the hospital. Mom is doing well so far, too--my blood pressure is staying down and I'm not showing any preeclampsia signs, so all is well.

Cathy and Wayne, Brad's Aunt and Uncle, are in town to close on their new house they bought north of Dallas, so they joined Brad, Aiden and I for the ultrasound this week. Most of these appointments I end up going to alone (the BPP's only take about 5 minutes), but since they were doing both a BPP and a growth check, I brought along the whole gang. Cathy and Wayne enjoyed seeing Aubrey on ultrasound, and Aiden got a kick out of watching her shake her fist at him. The sonographer indulged us with a few extra minutes of "show time" and was great about pointing out Aubrey's many features.

At today's appointment, Ms. Aubrey measured at a whopping 6 lbs. 3 oz. Her thigh bone, arm bone and tummy circumference are all measuring several days ahead of schedule, but what really worries Mom is that her head is measuring 2 WEEKS ahead! Heaven help me if this kid keeps growing like this these next few weeks!

The late-term ultrasounds are so neat. With Aiden, we got one ultrasound at 20 weeks and that was it. At 20 weeks, you can tell the baby's sex and see their basic shape, but with the late ultrasounds, the baby has fat under their skin, so instead of seeing a skeleton, you really see the baby's face and features, even her hair. Speaking of which, I now know why I've been having all this heartburn--Aubrey has grown quite a thick head of hair and it is already pretty long! And it looks as if I'll be getting a chunky baby this time around--she already has little fat rolls along her back!

Now it is just a matter of waiting. As long as all of the NST's and BPP's come back with good results, she'll get to stay inside. If anything changes, they'll induce me that day. And now that I'm past 35 weeks and since Aubrey is showing "respiratory maturity," they won't stop my labor if I go back into labor again. Brad and I are hoping she'll keep "cooking" for another week or so, but then I'm ready to get this kiddo out--I am feeling pretty miserable these days! Constant heartburn, an aching back, swollen feet, a sore belly from all the contractions and little knees and elbows digging in, and sheer exhaustion from an inability to sleep has me ready to GET HER OUT SOON!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

3D/4D Ultrasound

Since we didn't get to do it with Aiden, we decided to splurge and go for a 3D ultrasound this pregnancy. My mom, Marilyn, and my grandmother, Charlotte, joined Brad and Aiden and I to get a sneak peak at Aubrey Ryann.

She didn't want to cooperate at first--apparently, my daughter is using the placenta as a pillow and likes to keep her face buried against it--but after some walking around, a few yoga poses, and some maneuvers from side-to-side, we were able to get a clear view of her face. Brad was elated to see she has the signature "Parker chin" with the adorable dimple, and I was happy to see she has inherited the chubby "Brum cheeks" from my side of the family. Aiden got a kick out of seeing her yawn and smile, and he was pleased to see that she was "cool" and had fat feet like Aiden and I (we tell daddy that he isn't cool because he has skinny feet). And we can all rest assured that we won't have to return any pink clothing--Aubrey is definitely a girl, and gave us a good shot of her butt and girl parts to prove it!

It was such a neat experience, getting to see our little girl for the first time. We got a tiny glimpse at her personality, seeing her grab for her feet, smile, and rub her forehead with her fist. It makes me even more excited to meet her face-to-face!! I hope these next 8 or 9 weeks fly by so I can hold her already!

Here is a slideshow of the stills--you can click on the pics to be taken to a larger version of them. I've tried several times to upload the DVD, but my DVD ripper software isn't working, so I'll try to get it added as soon as I can.