Oops! Did you miss Part 3???

Some of you might have missed Part 3 of the EH birth story.  That's because when I scheduled it to post for 8/29 I accidentally back-dated it to 8/22, so it was buried back in older posts and only people who were reading back that far would see it.  My bad!!!

I've reorganized the posts, so Part 3 is now available!! Click here to read it.

The good news is that if you went from Part 2 to Part 4, you actually didn't miss any of the "action," which Part 3 was more of a reflective post.

I hope you're enjoying EH's story!

EH's Birth Story - Part 4 - Operating Room

Two nurses wheeled me towards the operating room, and DH followed closely behind, holding all of my belongings.  A moment before we entered the actual room, the nurse remembered that DH wasn't allowed in there yet, and took him away to a "waiting room."  I say "waiting room" with quotation marks because later on DH told it wasn't really a waiting room at all, and was instead a tiny room with a chair facing a clock.  They told him they would be back in 10 minutes to get him once I was administered the spinal.

I should also mention that the only reason that all of this was able to happen so quickly was because I hadn't eaten anything since the night before.  If I had eaten breakfast or anything really before going to the hospital they would have made me wait until everything was out of my system because you're supposed to not eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to your surgery.  Thank goodness that I don't usually eat breakfast!

Anyway, I was told to sit up on the stretcher I was on and sit Indian style, hugging my stomach.  A nurse took my hand and told me I could squeeze as hard as I wanted, which confused me at first because I didn't understand what was happened.  But then the anesthesiologists started explaining what they were going to do, and I realized that this might hurt.  I was right.

First they felt for my hip bones and spent a lot of time poking around on my spine with their fingers, which didn't hurt per se, but it also wasn't comfortable.  There were 3 anesthesiologists there at various points - the head guy who made all of the decisions, another guy who reported to the head guy, and then someone who was clearly a student or intern of some sort, and of course this was the guy that was going to be sending a needle into my spine.  I think I sort of hate teaching hospitals for this very reason.  I wanted the head guy to be doing the procedure, but no such luck.

Anyway, they swabbed my back with betadine and then the needle goes in.  It instantly hurts and I feel like I'm being stabbed in the spine.  Oh wait, I was being stabbed in the spine.  I immediately clench the nurses hand so hard that I can't believe she didn't yelp and pull away.  My eyes filled with tears, and because I was leaning over, they fell out of my eyes and pool into the lens of my glasses until they were overflowing.  Seriously.  I don't remember a lot of the details about how long it took for them to finally find the right spot in my back where it wasn't causing me tremendous pain, but it felt like forever.  I was crying and nearly hyperventilating and couldn't seem to catch my breath, which I'm sure didn't help them do their job any better, since I wasn't exactly sitting still.

As soon as they were done administering the spinal, they wanted me to quickly lay down.  I was too busy trying to empty and clean the pool that were my glasses and they started panicking because they thought I wouldn't be able to move within seconds.  Once I was laying down, they waiting a minute before the sort-of-senior anesthesiologist guy decided to test whether or not the spinal was working.  He poke my arm with a sharp object of some sort, told me to remember that feeling, and then scratched my stomach and asked if it still felt the same.  I said yes.

That was apparently the wrong answer.

He kept repeating the game for the next 5 minutes or so, and I kept still feeling the scratch on my stomach.  He could not believe it.  Seriously, I think he thought I was lying because he kept telling me that I should be feeling pain and not just pressure. I know the difference between pain and pressure, sir. I still feel pain from that.

They decided to lower my head on the table to try to the medicine to travel up towards my chest.   Then he repeated the poking game.  I could still feel it.  I could also still sort of move my legs, which they were not at all excited about.

The head anesthesiologist came back in and middle guy explained that I still had feeling in my abdomen and suggested to head guy that they do "general," as in "general anesthesia" as in knock me out.  NO!!! I did not want to be knocked out for this!!! But I didn't say anything, because really, would it have done any good?  But in any case, head guy shook his head and said "no, give it time, lower her head more."  So they did.  At some point the tilt was so steep that I started sliding down the table and they had to raise it back up a bit.

We played this game for about another 10 or 15 minutes until finally the medicine had moved up my torso enough that I no longer felt the pain from the scratching on my abdomen.  Because of this whole debacle I still have the scabs from no fewer than a dozen scratches on my stomach (over 2 weeks later!), but at least I was still conscious and finally numb. They strapped down my arms spread out to the sides (so that I don't try to "help" the doctor, they told me) and put an oxygen tube in my nose.

All of this had take so long that they were eager to get things started.  Fortunately at the last minute one of the nurses remembered that DH was still not here, and she ran out to get him.  You might recall that DH had been seated in a small room right in front of a clock with the promise that someone would be back for him in 10 minutes.  He had been staring at this clock for 35 minutes now, and he was pretty sure that something terrible had happened and I had died.

So he climbs over all of the wires and tubes to the tiny little space that they set aside for him.  I think I thought that there would be some place more formal for the father to sit during a c-section, but that is not the case.  Same old operating rooms as they use for everything else, but in this case, they add an extra chair and make an exception to let an outside person be there.  There are still machines and tubes and wires and nurses and doctors everywhere - with one extra person.  It's pretty crazy.

They were finally ready to start.  My doctor steps up and starts cutting and I start breathing like I'm hyperventilating. It wasn't painful, but man, was it weird.

Up next - We have a baby!!!

EH's Birth Story - Part 3 - On Timing

I'm going to interrupt the telling of the actual birth story events (I know, already??) to talk about something that's been on my mind.

When I think back about everything that we went through in the month of August so far, it's incredible to consider what "could have been" and what actually happened.

DH's mom died on August 1st.  I was in Delaware from July 30th through August 7th, with a 1 day return to Pittsburgh on August 2nd to go to my 37 week doctor's appointment.  I told them at that time that I would be out of town for the rest of the week, and although they were not excited about that prospect, the doctor that I met with was extremely sympathetic and understood that life happens and sometimes there are simply things that we need to take care of.  He gave me copies of all of my pertinent medical records in the event that I would go into labor while I was out of town. 

The funeral/memorial service was August 6th.  As part of the service, I read a poem that DH had written a few years ago that his mom simply adored (DH posted that poem here if you'd like to read it.)  Surprisingly I was able to hold myself together during the reading, and only got choked up on the last stanza.  A minute after I returned to my seat, an intensely painful contraction ripped through my body.  This wasn't just a cramp or a Braxton-Hicks, this was a real contraction (or rather, false labor. But still, it hurt.)  I was instantly afraid that I would go into stress-induced labor right then and there and my baby would be born in Delaware, but fortunately that was the only real contraction I experience throughout this entire pregnancy.

We returned to Pittsburgh on August 7th, emotionally exhausted.  DH was previously scheduled to fly out of Pittsburgh on August 8th to spend the entire week of the 8th through the 14th with his mom in the hospital. He canceled his flight the evening of the 7th, after we got home. 

My water broke around 6:30 a.m. on the morning of August 11th, and EH was born at 10:32 a.m.  If DH had gone to Delaware that week, even if he had acquired a car and drove home as fast as he could the moment I called him, there is no way he would have been here for the birth of his son.  The thought of going through that process without him terrifies me, and I can't imagine him not being there.

Alternately, if his mom had passed away one week later than she did, I would have been in Delaware when my water broke.  I have no idea what we would have done.  Would we have gone straight to a random Delaware hospital? Or would we have started the drive home immediately to get to Pittsburgh to deliver?  If everything had happened one week later, I wouldn't have been able to attend the memorial service, and DH would have been torn between staying with me in the hospital or returning from wherever we were to attend the service himself. I can't imagine having to make that sort of decision. 

Additionally, for no real reason, on the morning of the 11th DH had decided to stick around and get some things done around the house.  All of the other days that week he left before 6 a.m. to head into the city to work on rental property matters.  The fact that he chose this particular day to stay home seems like pure coincidence, but was it?

If you are a person who believes that everything happens for a reason, how do you explain all of this?  To me, in many ways, it seems like way too many things happened for a very particular reason - to make sure that DH was there for the birth of his son.  But at what cost?

I can't explain it, and I won't begin to try, but I am so thankful that he was there with me when everything happened, and that I was able to be there for him during the week following his mom's passing.   I will forever wish that his mom could have been around for the birth of her first grandchild and to get to meet him, but in a way, she alone allowed DH to be there on August 11th when EH was born.  EH's middle name was chosen to honor and remember her, and I'm happy that we decided to do that.

A lot of sadness was felt in the days and weeks prior to feeling the joy of meeting our son, and a lot of sadness is still felt on a daily basis.  But the fact that we were able to process through each of these life-changing events together as a couple - as a new family - was incredibly important and meaningful.  I know I alluded to this before, but DH and I have never been more of aware of the power of the circle of life than we are now, in ways that I think few people can truly understand until they've been through similar events in such a short span of time.  Life is definitely not something to be taken for granted....


So, when I left off with Part 2, we were at the hospital!  Next up is the fun part - the spinal and actual c-section.

EH's Birth Story - Part 2 - To the Hospital

We headed out the door to the hospital right around 7:15 a.m. on a Thursday morning, basically the peak of rush hour traffic.  I had two worst nightmares about going into labor.  The first being that my water would break while I was in bed and I would ruin our mattress, and the second being stuck in rush hour traffic while suffering through painful contractions.

So we were stuck in rush hour traffic but I wasn't experiencing any contractions, so I at least lucked out in that regard.

Interesting fact - Did you know that only 8% of women have their water break without experiencing any labor pains?  Guess I am one of the lucky 8%! Of course, for most women who plan to have a regular delivery experience, having your water break prior to experiencing any contractions usually means that the hospital will induce your labor via pitocin since they want a baby to come within 24 hours of your water breaking.  Pitocin was something I did not want to experience.  But since I was already a scheduled c-section, it didn't really matter whether I was in active labor or not.

Anyway, rush hour traffic was frustrating but since DH was with me, we were eligible to take the HOV lane!! For those of you who don't live near major cities, HOV lanes (stands for High Occupancy Vehicle lanes) allow you to bypass most of the congestion on the highways and zip straight into downtown.  I always get excited when we can take the HOV lane because it is sooo much quicker.

It was a beautiful day to have a baby - this is the view that we enjoyed on our drive.

Among the ridiculous things that I stressed out about on the drive:
  1. The fact that I had a meeting scheduled at work for 10 a.m. that day to discuss my transition plan with the co-worker who would be taking over my responsibilities. 
  2. The fact that my office baby shower was scheduled to take place the following day, and that this was already the second time it had been rescheduled because it was previously scheduled for the week that I was in Delaware following DH's mom's death. 
  3. The fact that this baby might not be born on 8-18-11 like DH so desperately wanted (obviously, at this point, he didn't really care, but I still felt bad because I know he really liked the 8-18-11 date!)
  4. The fact that I hadn't had time to dry my hair or put on make-up.  You know, because everyone is supposed to look their best when they're having a baby.
But none of that could be helped at this point!

So we arrived at the hospital, parked the car and walked up to the Labor and Delivery wing.  We checked in and were taken to a triage room, where I promptly had to get undressed and hooked up to monitors.

There's nothing like a hospital gown to make one look and feel like a marshmallow. 

They took my blood pressure, temperature, and all of that fun stuff, and then did an exam and test to make sure that my water had actually broken.  It had!!!  I officially had a ticket to the operating room, but of course had to wait for a room to become available and for my doctor to arrive.  I was only 1 centimeter - maybe 2 - dilated, and still not experiencing any contractions, so I was about as comfortable as one could hope to be. 

It was at this point that I started making phone calls and we both posted things on Facebook.  My mom hadn't even left for work yet, and decided that they would come down as soon as possible.  

Over the course of the next hour or so, I was seen by a multitude of doctors and nurses.  It was overwhelming how many people came in and out of the room.  I was hooked up to a contraction monitor (which showed nothing - ha!), a heartbeat monitor to track the baby's heartbeat and a blood pressure cuff that took my blood pressure every ten minutes.  For some reason (ok, well we probably know the reason) my blood pressure was abnormally high, so an alarm beeped repeatedly until a nurse who knew how to turn it off came in.

Although we were initially told that the c-section would happen either later that morning or early in the afternoon (we weren't necessarily an "emergency" but we also weren't scheduled) things happened extremely quickly.  

DH had to put on scrubs and a hair net so that he could be in the operating room with me.  The outfit looked like a painter's suit, and because DH is bigger than the average human, barely fit him.  But he looked great in it nonetheless - a proud and excited daddy-to-be.

We met briefly with an anesthesiologist who explained the spinal tap that I would be receiving. I was told that I had to take my contacts out and since we hadn't brought my bag upstairs (you're not supposed to bring your things until you're in your actual room where you'll be spending the night) and since I didn't have my glasses, I begged DH to run down to the car to get my contact case and glasses.  I did not want to be in the operating room and not able to see a thing.

The timing was very tight and we were both scared that they were going to wheel me away before he got back, but he quickly got out of the scrubs and ran down to the car.  He came back in record time, but not a moment too soon because they were preparing to wheel me out as he was putting the scrubs back on.  He admitted later than he was sprinting and that he made more than a few people in the hospital nervous by his manic speed.

Moments later we left the triage room and headed to the operating room...

Happy Due Date!

Today, August 24th, was EH's original due date.  It's a date that has long been stuck in our minds, and for months we had recited it whenever anyone asked when the baby was due.  I thought that maybe this date would become so ingrained in my mind that it would be hard to remember/embrace his actual birth date whenever he was born, but that has not been the case.

It's hard to imagine spending the last 13 days being pregnant (not considering, of course, that we recently scheduled the c-section date of August 18th.)  I am so grateful that I never had to get to that point of waiting around for the baby to come, or for the dreaded "late baby."  EH caught us off guard with his early arrival, but we were more ready that we ever realized.

In the past 13 days I have been peed on more times that I can imagine. I have laughed, and I have cried.  I lost 15 pounds, and occasionally remembered to eat.  I took EH on his first shopping trip to Target, and DH and I took him to his first Mexican restaurant. I learned the breastfeed but also embraced the relief from the occasional bottle feeding.  I took a trip to ER and went to 4 doctor's appointments. I learned that I prefer Pamper's diapers over Huggies and Dr. Brown's bottles over Playtex.  I (we) already took hundreds of photos of him and there's no sign of that stopping anytime soon.

To say that the month of August has been emotionally exhausting for us is a severe understatement, but it's also hard to describe the level of joy and happiness that EH has brought into our lives.  There have been rough times, for sure, but then he opens those enormous grey/blue eyes of his and we just melt.

He is definitely a challenge, but we needed a challenge and a change in our lives, and we got both.

Happy due date, little EH.  Or better yet, happy 13th day birthday!!  We're so glad that you're here.

EH's Birth Story - Part 1 - My Water Broke!

Authors note: Some of the contents in this upcoming "birth story" series might fall into the category of "too much information," depending on who you are.  Just wanted to warn you.  It's not my nature to sugar coat things.

When I really stop and think about it, EH's birth story actually probably started a few days earlier than his birthday.  On the Tuesday before he was born, I noticed some light bleeding in the evening.  It wasn't enough to concern me in any way, and I didn't even tell DH about it.  I figured it was just a weird fluke, but now I realize that it was probably a sign that I had either lost my mucous plug or it was that wonderfully sounding "bloody show" that signifies the early stages of labor (both sound equally disgusting, so take your pick.)

At this point I was still more than two weeks away from my actual due date and operating under the information that everyone kept telling me over and over and over - first babies are always late so don't expect anything else.

So I filed the light bleeding in the back of my head and moved on with my evening.

The next day, which officially marked the 38 week point, I went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned.  I would not recommend doing this at all.  The entire time I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out.  I kept having to sit up and drink water and I felt super strange for hours after that.

That evening I decided that since it was a fairly cool night, I would work on the much neglected garden.  I harvested all of the potatoes (which did NOT do well at all) and did some general weeding until my back started to hurt and then called it a night.

I slept great that night.  I only woke up twice and I fell asleep almost immediately afterwards.  I woke up feeling refreshed and even remember thinking to myself, "wow, that was a great night's sleep."  I went into the bathroom to start my morning routine, going to the bathroom and getting into the shower.  I felt a little strange in the shower, but didn't think much of it in the moment.  But then I start drying off, and I noticed that even though I had dried my legs, they kept getting wet.  I had the realization that it was possible that my water had broken but didn't quite believe it.

I dried off as much and as quickly as I could and went to the bathroom again. Since I had just went before the shower and didn't have to go again, I knew that the fluid could not possibly be urine. I processed all of this information, put on a pad to catch the liquid, and then quickly started doing things like brushing my teeth, putting on deodorant, etc.

I still hadn't told DH at this point.  Why? Well, part of me wasn't 100% certain that my water had actually broken (since the fluid was such a trickle, instead of the gush I was expecting) and because I was worried that he would rush me to the hospital and I would look like crap (seriously, this is what I was thinking.)

So I finished getting ready as much as I could, and put my shorts and t-shirt back on and then went into the bedroom, closed the door, and laid down on the bed.  I wanted to stop and process everything and try to determine whether or not this was real.  I wasn't having any labor pains at all, not even cramping, and that really threw me.  After a few minutes of laying down, I went back to the bathroom and confirmed that I was still leaking fluid.  Yep, this was real.

So I go to the office, where DH was on his computer, and said something like, "I'm not 100% sure, but I think my water broke while I was in the shower."  His eyes opened really wide and I don't even remember what he said.  I asked him if he thought I should call the doctor, and he told me only I knew what would be best.  For some reason, I was still in disbelief.  I waffled a few more minutes on the topic until I went ahead and called the answering service for my ob/gyn's office.  At this point, it was still before 7 a.m. so the office wasn't open.

The doctor promptly called me back, I explained my situation (schedule c-section on 8/18 due to breech baby, water just broke, etc.) and she told me to head to the hospital.  I told her ok and hung up the phone.

Crap.  Remember by 38 week post?  The one I posted the night before making fun of myself for not packing my hospital bag yet?  Yeah, that was coming back to bite me in the ass.  I told DH that we needed to go to the hospital and I started scrambling around to pack a bag.  Fortunately I had already written out a full list of the things that I wanted to pack, so it was relatively simple and we just needed to grab all of the things that were on the list. 

I was remarkably calm, probably because I wasn't in any sort of pain.  Or maybe it was because I still didn't quite believe that today was actually going to be "the day." After all, during our hospital tour, they talked a lot about the women who made multiple trips to the hospital thinking they were in labor before they actually had their babies.  Maybe I was one of those? (Unlikely, I know - my water had just broken! That pretty much seals the deal.)  

Anyway, before heading out the door, I insisted that DH take one last picture of my belly. I wanted a "this is as pregnant as I ever was" picture.

38 weeks and 1 day

We were rushed, and so it isn't the best picture ever because 1. I had just gotten out the shower, 2. I wasn't wearing any makeup, and 3. I'm standing at an angle so you don't get the full sense of how big my belly was.  
That's ok though, since I had just taken the 38 week pictures less than 12 hours before this one.  I think I look significantly bigger in these photos. 

And with that we were out the door!

If you hung in there this long, then stay tuned for Part 2!

What a Week!!!

We've been home with EH for 5 full days now, and it's been a crazy ride.  I have some detailed posts in the works, but here's a (somewhat) quick synopsis of how things have been going for us!

One of my favorite pictures of DH and EH from the hospital!

We're working hard to try to get him to establish a morning/night schedule.  The first few nights that he was home he slept all day and cried all night long.  And I don't mean cute little timid baby cries - he screamed.  It was awful.  My mom spent a couple hours up with him and I took the rest so that DH could get some sleep for working the next day.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't on the verge of tears a couple of times in utter frustration.

Last night we were fairly successful though.  We have to really make an effort to keep him awake in the evening, usually anytime after 5 p.m., but if we can do that, it seems like he's going to be fairly willing to sleep through the night, minus feeding times, of course.  It's really hard on me since I have to be the one to wake up with him each and every time, and sometimes he's not willing to wake up, so what could be a quick feeding takes almost two entire hours, but after that he was willing to sleep through until the next feeding.

He's also doing great with breastfeeding and even though we are giving him 1 ounce of formula from a bottle with every feeding (my milk still does not seem to be in) he isn't having any trouble at all switching back and forth from breast and bottle, which has been really helpful.  Twice in the past two days I have had to miss feedings. The first time he got two ounces of breastmilk that I had pumped and the second time he just got formula but in both cases, since he was already used to the bottle there wasn't any issue in getting him to eat, and fortunately there wasn't any issue with him going right back to breastfeeding when I was home.

So why did I have to miss feedings?  Well, on Tuesday night my incision started bleeding.  It bled through the four layers of gauze that I had on the sutures, through my under and through my shorts.  It was a relatively small amount of blood but disconcerting nonetheless.  Then the next afternoon around 3 p.m. I noticed that it had bled through again, so I called my doctor's office, who recommended that I go to the ER to make sure that there wasn't a hematoma or other serious problem.

So we spent Wednesday afternoon/evening the emergency room.  Ultimately they decided that the bleeding wasn't bad enough to warrant opening me back up and re-suturing the incision, and for that I am glad.  I feel like that would have set me back on my recovery.  The next day I went in to see my ob/gyn practice and the doctor there spent about 5 minutes "draining" my incision.  There was a fairly significant pool of old, thick dark blood just under the incision, so he pushed on my abdomen, watched the thick stuff literally ooze out, and then wiped it up.  He repeated this over and over until the oozing amount finally slowed down.  It was slightly uncomfortable but not horribly painful and the bleeding has definitely slowed down since he did that.  I get a spot here or there, but nothing too significant so I'm hopeful that that issue is behind us. 

It may not sound like much, but all of those things have pretty much been occupying our lives!  DH is working hard finishing up his rental property work and I'm working hard keeping our baby fed, well rested and just generally alive.  Now that we're finally getting into a routine, I should be able to get back into something resembling a routine on the blogging front! 

Not Quite Home Yet....

It's 10:38 a.m. right now, which means that little EH just celebrated completion of his third day of life.  Have 3 days really passed already? It seems hard to believe.

We should be on our way home right now, but little E's jaundice levels are high, so they had to do some additional bloodwork to make sure that he doesn't need to go under a bili-light.  Since his levels are already somewhat elevated, regardless of the blood test results, we will have to start supplementing his feedings with formula, since breastfeeding alone doesn't seem to be cutting it.

He's a pro at breastfeeding when he wants to be, but last night he screamed and cried instead of latching on and so I think that had a lot to do with his high jaundice levels today.  He just didn't get enough to eat in the last 12 hours.

So now we wait.  The boys are napping together on the bed, while I write this post.

There's obviously a lot to tell and hopefully I'll be able to do that sooner rather later.  Obviously August 11th was a crazy, whirlwind day - we were totally NOT expecting him to arrive so early!!!

But he's here, and we're just smitten so far.  We're also exhausted, sleep deprived, probably malnourished an definitely learning as we go, but it's been fun and exciting and crazy and overwhelming all at the same time.  We're already sure that our kid is the cutest of them all, despite the fact that he's not very keen on sleeping or eating at night. 

So I promise more stories to come soon, including the events leading up to EH's very unexpected birth!

On loss, love, and the circle of life

A post from DH:

Last week in Delaware, I held my mom’s hand as she died following a long and courageous battle against cancer.

This week in Pittsburgh, I held my wife’s hand as she gave birth to our first child – a boy – whose middle name honors a grandmother who couldn’t wait to meet him.

In the interim, plenty of time to reflect on loss, love, the circle of life, and what it takes to be an incredible parent, which my mom achieved above all else. At the memorial service in her honor, we read a poem I wrote more than five years ago – before her battle began – about my experiences growing up. As I become a parent myself, as I mourn the loss of my mother at age 63, this poem from the past provides a bit of hope for the future.

I believe everyone might benefit from its message...

Duck ... Duck ...

Like ducks in a pond, swimming next to each other,

We were rarely apart, me and my younger brother.

Raised on 40 great acres, we knew each one quite well,

Fully two miles out, we’d hear mom’s dinner bell.

See that net by the pipe? That was used to catch tadpoles.

We’d kick goals and dig holes; conjoined souls with no soles.

We missed out on fine grooming; wore no shirts and no shoes,

But we lived a young life no good boy could refuse.

See that three-wheeler parked by the brown basement door?

We began driving that by the ripe age of four.

It’s not that our mother and father neglected,

It’s more like a parenting style perfected.

They gave us good training, on how not to get dead,

Then set us both free, with some rules, and some bread.

The bread we then fed to the ducks in the pond,

The rules we then bent, but upheld, as our brotherly bond.

Never ever go out past the end of the lane,

Always come home for dinner, if you have half a brain.

You should aim for improvement – it goes Good, Better, Best.

And when seated for dinner, you must always be dressed.

When you’re roving the woods, act as friends and don’t fight,

When you’re roving the world, always do what is right.

Retain what you learned as great back woods explorers,

And keep goodness in mind as you face some of life’s horrors.

Like these ducks you will know, when it’s your time to fly,

You’ll look back on these woods, as you take to the sky.

But please try to come home, every once in a while,

Where your mom will be waiting, with that all-knowing smile.

Presenting ... Evan Wheeler Hartman

Align CenterTurns out Baby Hartman had his own plans.

Though the original due date was August 24, and the C-Section date was August 18, the birth date was August 11.

Evan Wheeler Hartman was born at 10:32 a.m., weighed 7 lbs. 2 oz., and is 20 inches long. Mother and child are in great health and spirits. And father is ecstatic.

After Lisa's water broke this morning during her shower, we drove together to the hospital, the doctors confirmed that the water broke (despite the fact that Lisa had almost no laboring pains), and a C-Section was completed with a proud new father joining the team of 9 doctors and nurses in the room.

Here are a smattering of pictures ... with more to follow, probably for the next two decades or so.

38 Weeks

38 weeks.
2 weeks to go until actual "due date."
1 week and 1 day to go until schedule c-section.
1 week left at work.
Still haven't packed my hospital bag and have no motivation to do so.  This is procrastination at its best.

Weight Gained - 34 pounds
Belly button - 20% out, 75% flat, 5% in (it's quite weird; see picture at the bottom of this post)
Stretch marks - Still none; I just need to get through one more week

Emotional State
Stable but fragile, but given the events of the past two weeks, and the impending events of the next two.  I have no doubt that August 18th is going to be an incredibly emotional day for a number of reasons.

Mental State
Ready to meet our baby. We're excited and nervous, which is probably exactly what we should be feeling.  I waver between wanting to meet him right now, and reminding myself to slow down and cherish these last few days.  Once he's out, he can't go back in.  Ever.  Everything changes. 

Physical State - ME
Ready to get this baby out of me.  He's getting too big for his/our own good.  A solid night of sleep continues to be harder and harder to achieve.  My spine aches at night. My back aches during the day.

Physical State - House
We are ready.  As ready as we will ever be.  Room is ready, everything is Dreft washed, products that he won't be big enough to use for months are assembled and waiting.  All the house needs now is a baby.  Oh, and our iron filter repaired, stat, because our water is crap and without the filter it smells like you're showering and washing in liquid iron/metal.  Probably not really good for a baby.

But otherwise, we're ready.  I just wish that one other person could still be around for the big day....

9 Days

There are only 9 days left until Baby Hartman is scheduled to make his debut.  I recently realized - and have come to accept - the fact that I will not be able to finish all of the posts that I wanted to get done before his arrival.  That makes me slightly sad, but then I remember that there are a lot of other things to be much sadder about and it seems silly to care about not getting a few blog posts up.  There are an equal number of things to look forward to and be excited about and I need to focus on that.

I only have 7 days of work left.  With my expected leave date being pushed up a whole week due to the c-section, and then being out of the office for a whole week due to the funeral, my preparation time for getting things together at work went from what felt like a month or more, to just a mere 7 days.  I am confident that I can do it though, and being out last week gave everything a great trial run for what it will be like when I am gone.  They did a great job so I know there's really no reason for me to be worried. 

So many things - oh, so many things - have occurred that were/are completely out of my control.  I need to remember that things will continue to occur that are completely out of my control.  (I hear that having a newborn is not exactly a walk in the park and that sometimes there might be a surprise or two in store.) 

Anyway, the real countdown has begun.  And while I promise to try to get up as many posts between now and hospital time as I can, I'm not going to make any promises about how many posts that will be.  Carrying around this melon of a body is exhausting and I'm not exactly bounding with energy when I get home in the evenings.

A Hard Week and a Sad Good-bye

I have alluded at various points that this summer has been very hectic for us, and that it's involved a lot of travel.  I didn't get into too much detail at the time, but part of the reason for all of that travel is that DH's mom was fighting an intense battle with cancer, and we tried to visit her as often as we possibly could.

We went there again this past weekend, as she was not doing well and was admitted to the hospital.

Yesterday afternoon, shortly after 4 p.m., she passed away surrounded by her sons and siblings and other loved ones.  DH was holding her hand the entire time.

I had just left a few minutes earlier to return back to Pittsburgh, so I was not there.  I have a lot of guilt about that, but know that ultimately there was nothing else that I could have done, other than to be there to support my husband and his family.  I had a chance to say my final goodbye, as we all knew that the end was very near.  Actually, I didn't quite say good-bye - I couldn't find it in me, so instead I told her I would see her later.  I'm not sure why I got so hung up on the actual good-bye part, but nonetheless I am glad that we got to spend so much time with her in her final days, and I am so glad that DH was able to be there with her at the end.  She knew that she was loved by everyone there.

Obviously the past week or so has been really hard for DH and I.  Last week we found out that our baby is definitely breech and we were forced to make a difficult decision regarding whether we wanted to try a manual procedure to try to flip the baby, or to schedule a c-section instead.  We felt pressured to make a decision quickly, since time is of the essence now.  After some follow-up conversations with the doctors, and their belief that it is relatively unlikely that the baby is going to turn based on how big they believe him to be and the fact that everything is very tight and compact in this uterus of mine, we decided to go ahead and schedule a c-section.  All of this was happening while DH was receiving phone calls about the declining health of his mom, and he was torn between staying with me and going with her.

We were at peace with the decision to move forward with the c-section, and we decided to attend the child birthing class that we were scheduled for on Saturday, with plans to then immediately leave for Delaware to see his mom.  The child birth class was a severe disappointment and we left halfway through.  We do not plan to attend day 2 of the session this upcoming weekend.   We hopped into the car and left for Delaware, and in retrospect, I am really glad that we made all of the decisions that we did.

DH got to spend some quality alone time with his mom.  Although he only had a handful of lucid minutes to have a conversation with her (she was asleep most of the time), he was able to fill her in on the developments regarding her first grandchild, and he got the chance to share our front runner names with her.  There were many tears.

It breaks my heart a thousand times over that she will never have the opportunity to meet her grandchildren - she would have been an amazing grandmother. I know that she wanted so badly to be able to hang on long enough to be able to meet him..... but now we know it simply wasn't meant to be.

On the drive home yesterday I couldn't stop crying. I went through about a thousand napkins because I quickly ran out of tissues.  It was pouring down rain and between the rain on my windshield and the tears in my eyes I'm not sure how I could see straight.  His mom was too young, and it was too early for her to go.   I struggle with how cruel the universe can be, making a young man go through losing his mom way before her time, a mere 17 days before the birth of her first grandson.

It sucks.  All of it sucks.

And yet life must go on, somehow.  The circle of life could not be more evident to me, as I am kicked from the inside by my new little baby boy while I try to swallow the huge lump in my throat that just won't seem to go away.  He will never get to know his Grandma Hartman. Although we will do our best to make sure that he knows her through pictures and stories and the legacy that she's left behind with her own son, it will never be the same as it would be if he could know her for the amazing woman that she was. 

We all knew that this time would come.... was coming... would probably be here soon.  But no matter how much you mentally prepare yourself for the end, no matter how many times you remind yourself that she is in a better place now, that she is no longer suffering, and that she was loved immensely up until and beyond her last breath, it doesn't make it any easier.  No amount of words will ever convince me that it was her time to go. It just isn't fair. 

She raised three amazing sons and she will live on through them in ways that I'm sure she could never have imagined.  I have never before seen such a bond between boys and their mom, boys who are strong and tough and independent and yet who are not afraid to show emotion or shed tears and who let their love for their mom just pour out of them in ways that leaves nothing unsaid.  If my own son loves me with even just half of the intensity and devotion that DH loved his mom, I will know that I did something right, and I will die a happy woman.

Just like I know his mom did....

In loving memory.