Friday, October 25, 2019

Fiona is ONE Month Old

Dear Fiona, 

You are ONE month old! It has been a blur since you arrived into our family four weeks ago. It is such a dream that you are here with us. Mama has always wanted a brood of boys with a touch of gem in the bunch. Then she got just exactly that, and it was akin to winning a lottery. 

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Ever since Mama got pregnant with you, she knew that it was going to be her last pregnancy for a several reasons, and it had been bittersweet experience to come to term with the finality of having more children. It was difficult to put away maternity clothes to be donated with knowing that they were not going to be worn again. Mama's heart ached a little bit when she saw that you were gradually outgrowing your newborn clothes. With those feelings in the motion, it was the right decision for the family, since there was a feeling of completeness, and wanting to enjoy the next stage in life. Despite it being the right decision, it was still an emotional one, because it meant an end to an identity in Mama's life regarding pregnancy, and having a sweet squishy newborn in her arms. All of this simply meant Mama got to cherish you a bit extra during your early days of life.

You recently visited Dr. Karbon for your two week wellness check. You gained one pound since your birth! It was a big change from your brothers packing on weight quickly, and Dr. Karbon assured Mama that it was all good, since you maintained your growth on a steady curve. You measured at 20 inches tall. Mama had a few questions answered, mainly with you being a girl and how some of care approach differed from the boys, and not much was really needed to be added to the discussion. Dr. Karbon knowingly chuckled, and made a comment that Mama was already an old pro at this. After all, your older brothers were buzzing around in the exam room, and Mama could only imagine what went through the doctor's mind! She knew that chaos was going to rule the roost for an extremely long time after, and they all might as well get used to it! Dr. Karbon looked you over, and declared you to be in a good health.

You are far more sleepy than you are alert. It could be because you are still so young, or it could be just your personality. Only time will tell! Mama sure hope you will always love to sleep! You love to snuggle with Mama or Daddy while sleeping. You often need to be woken up in order to eat during the day. You have a long stretch of periods of sleeping during both day and night, usually about 4 hours, then after that long nap; you tend to have shorter naps, and more frequent feedings in the between. Mama feel pretty lucky to have such a good, easy going baby who loves to sleep! You go to bed fairly easy after your witching hour, which usually begins around 5 PM and ends at 10:00-10:30 PM. Even with your witching hour, you are not that terrible with your fussing.

Having mentioned your witching hour, you tend to fuss if Mama eats something that disagrees with your belly, and she has been careful with what she eats. You fuss if you are not being held enough, which means you simply get wrapped, and be babyworn! When it comes to the bath time or changing your clothes, you fuss because you don't like the sensation of being naked! You fuss when you are overtired, and that part is still a challenge, because time management with the schedule has not been mastered yet. There is usually a lot of chaos after school until bedtime with kids' needs to be met for eating, homework, bathing/showering, preparing for the next day, and trying to survive the evening pretty much! It can be quite hard on you, because you just want to be either held while you are not feeling the best, or to be able to sleep without so much interruptions. Hopefully, this will be solved in few months when a routine is better established.

Nursing is going well with you. You are not a big eater. More often than not, you don't like it when milk is forceful, and you spit up, or you let milk dribble out of your mouth without swallowing it. It has been a learning curve for both Mama and you to perfect nursing. With you gaining weight, and doing well, Mama isn't very worried, and know that you will get hang of it. It is her favorite time with you, just you and her together (sometimes with Fox by her side), and enjoying your sweet baby self during this time. Nursing you while babywearing is still a work in process. She hopes that you will get a hang of it, which will help to free up some of her time to be there for older kids, or to cook meals. You wake up two to three times during the night, which is not too bad considering, and your feedings increased only when you are going through a growth spurt.

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Your older brothers are absolutely in love with you. They are so gentle, patient, loving, and cautious around you. They are great with hand washing practice before touching you. Each boy express their own way of love toward you, and it's extremely sweet. Forrest often wants to hold you, to make sure you're well protected from the littler brothers, sweet talks to you, tucks you in, and making sure you stay warm. Franklin is the affectionate one; he loves to look at you, rub his cheek against your soft fuzz hair on top of your head, pat your belly, and wants to kiss you. Fox is fascinated by you, and is always looking at you. He enjoys sitting next to Mama while she is nursing you, and tries to nurse his dinosaur toys as well! It's ridiculously sweet to witness. He's learning how to be a wonderful parent by observing you with Mama or Daddy. You are quite lucky to have such loving brothers looking over you.

You had your first family trip to a pumpkin patch! It was a rather chilly day, so you spent your time tucked against Mama's chest while the boys hunted for their perfect pumpkins. You contently slept away the whole thing. The boys had a wonderful time. It was a successful outing as a family of six, Mama thought! She looked forward to making more memories with you kids in the years yet to come.

The transition from a family of five to six may continue to hold some challenges that needs to be smoothed over. Mama knows that this is but a season. Just like every season, it will come to pass, and it will always be appreciated for what it is in time. With each child joining our family, it feels like you always have been a part of our family, and it is hard to imagine a life before you came along. Mama's heart has so much love flowing out for all of you kids. Being a mother is the best role that Mama has in her life, and she hopes that she does a good job of being a mother, because you all are so important to her.

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With each child, a lesson has been taught to Mama, and she will always hold them dear to her heart. Forrest taught Mama how powerful love is. With him, Mama became a mother for the first time. Before Franklin came along, Mama did worry about her heart having enough room to love another. Suddenly, Franklin eased the worry by showing her that love grows, and expands. Love never has a limit. Soon after, Fox arrived after a storm, and he healed Mama's broken heart. Fox showed that love is an anchor, and holds a family together during difficult time. Then you, my dear, came along, and you cemented the love in our family. You completed the circle, and glued us together. Love is what protects, contains, and allows a family to flourish throughout the years.

We love you so much, sweet Fiona.


Mama, Daddy, and the boys

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Welcome to the World, Fiona Evelyn!

After a long pregnancy with a lot of roadblocks, iffy first trimester test result, prodormal labor constantly starting and stopping, two months of non-stress fetal testing, alternating between a regular OB and consulting high risk OB, seven ultrasounds, one false alarm, three trips to Labor and Delivery, a lot of worrying; Fiona Evelyn, an ever firecracker of ours, decided to make her debut on Thursday September 26th at 10:41 PM. 

I woke up at 3 am on Thursday with an anxiety about deciding to go with an elective induction on October second. I had some guilt about booking an induction, because our older two boys resulted from having a spontaneous labor, and I felt it was easier to deal with than being induced. Even though my induction with Forrest was a very positive one, it was still an intense labor experience, and I was not sure if I wanted pitocin based labor again after having him. However, with so many challenges with my pregnancy, I was mentally, and physically done. It had been a hard pregnancy, and I was eager NOT to go too overdue with her. Dr. Mbah was on the board. Nonetheless, I harbored some guilt for having an induction booked, and I was pretty sure that my membrane sweep failed, because Dr. Mbah had some difficulty with trying the procedure due to my cervix being still high. I spent some time searching online about kick-starting labor naturally, then my mind calmed down some for me to go to sleep. I managed to get some light rest until I had to get up to use bathroom at 4 am. 

I noticed I had a lot of mucus-like discharge with pink tinge. I was not sure if it was the beginning of a bloody show, which was what I had with Fox before I went into labor with him, or if it was a result of spotting due to a rough procedure I had the day before. I noticed I had some back ache as well. Stu was already up to get ready for his work out, and I told him about what I had noticed. He asked me if I thought I was going to have a baby today, and I told him that I doubted it. He decided against going out of town that day for a conference, and to stay locally...just in case. I could not sleep, so I decided to just stay up, and cuddled with Fox until it was an acceptable time for us to get up for the day. 

I dropped off the older two at the school, and decided to go on 2-mile walk with Fox and Beatrice to see if it made any difference. There was none, except for a continual pinkish discharge. I went on with the day. Around 1 PM, I had a strong contraction out of the blue, then it stopped. I didn't think anything of it, and bounced on my yoga exercise ball all afternoon. I noticed I had 1-2 contractions every hour, but having had prodormal labor, I felt it was not worthy to be worried about. I was more concerned about the bleeding picking up, especially with the sporadic contractions. Fox had a speech therapy at 4:30 PM, and after it concluded, I decided to check on the bleeding. It became reddish, and darker. Concerned, I called Labor and Delivery. They recommended me to come in, and advised me not to eat or drink. Stu and I called Spencer and Wally to have them watch our boys, and ordered Domino's pizza for dinner. While we waited for both to arrive, I finished last minute packing for my bag. If anything else, I felt more frustrated, because it was yet one more roadblock to deal with before being sent home again. 

We left to go to the hospital. On the drive over, I noticed I had 5 contractions, even though they were not causing any pain, and we arrived at Bellin Memorial Hospital by 7:00 PM. We got admitted in the triage for monitoring. Sara, our attending Labor and Delivery nurse, decided to perform a cervix check, and found that I was at 4 CM. I noticed she had blood on her glove, and I asked her if it was normal. She assured me it was at the moment, and it was going to be monitored. She felt that membrane sweep was the cause of the bleeding. During an hour of monitoring, my occasional bout of contraction intensity grew stronger, and I had to breath through them. Sara returned to inform us that we would be getting admitted. 

We got transferred to our suite while Stu brought up our hospital bags from the van. I asked Sara if I could walk around the floor, because walking was my preferred method of laboring, and it was how I dealt with the pain in the past. Sara told me that I was not allowed to walk the hallways that evening, which left me feeling bummed, and I later learned it was because of my history of fast delivery, needing to have my bleeding to be monitored, and to stay on top of Fiona's heart rate while I was laboring. Sara was a wonderful nurse. She was very hand off, and got IV in my hand quickly without any struggle (I have an icky veins, so a huge round of applause goes to her for that). 

I requested for a yoga ball in hope that it will help with the waves. The contractions were still manageable, and becoming closer together. It helped that I had a lot of relief in between of my contractions, and I had been messaging with my best friend, who had been sending me plethora of funny memes and GIFs. Stu was watching Packers play, and let me do my thing until I needed him. I was just laboring along, and doing well. 

Sara had to adjust my fetal monitor strap often, because the fetal doppler kept sliding off my belly from me bouncing through my contractions, especially the stronger ones. I kept visualizing myself as a Viking warrior wielding a sword working her way through calamity, and chaos. Sara kept a track of my contractions by logging the strength, intensity, and frequency. My contractions continued to pile up on each other. It became more difficult to cope with the pain. I began to feel very sick, and warned Sara that I may puke. She quickly gave me blue airport bags to vomit in. The nausea did pass without me throwing up, and I was relieved (I hated the thought of throwing up)! 

With my previous labors, I was able to take those contractions on my chin, and power through them. With this labor, they came on very fast, and furious so quickly. Every time I thought I had a breather, other one hit. I had been in active labor for 2 hours and half.

After a brutal contraction that resulted me vocalizing through it, and putting down the phone, because the pain became too overwhelming for me to focus anything else; Sara decided to perform a check to see where I was at, and waited for me to finish a powerful wave. Once it ended at 10:37 PM, she checked me, and found that I was only at 6 CM. The feeling I had was akin to a balloon being popped. Everything went out of me. Only 6 CM? And I was already in the world of intense, godawful, kill me now pain. I had never experienced that so early on in labor with any of my boys until I was in transition. I was so sure that this phase was transition...only to be told it was not. 

I had been up since roughly 3 am, and began to seriously regret not napping earlier that day. Exhausted. Beaten down. Seriously discouraged, because I was only at freaking 6 CM, and god knows how long I had to go left before delivering our baby. I lamented to Stu that I was just too old for this "shit", and I no longer had a stamina for laboring like that anymore. I began crying, and was unable to stop sobbing, because I was oh, so tired, and had no more left in me to continue. My body was shaking terribly between my sobbing, and from the pain. In that very moment, I was afraid that the pain was going to be everlasting, and there was not going to be any respite for the next few hours. And this was coming from someone with ridiculously HIGH pain tolerance. Stu held my hand to try get my attention, and to tell me to breath. All I could remember in between the pain was him telling me to look at him, and to breath. Everything overwhelmed me in that very moment. 

Suddenly, I felt a lot of pressure at 10:40 PM, and told Sara this. As she went to check, my water broke, and she declared that my water bag ruptured. I had a relief from pain only for an instant, and then the pressure returned. Suddenly, Stu exclaimed, the baby's head is crowning! Chaos ensued. Sara called out to the other nurse that I had gone from 6 CM to 10 CM in 3 minutes flat, and it was time to push. I hadn't began to process that I was going to deliver like NOW. 

Sara gloved up while the other nurse swiftly set up the stir-up. The room was suddenly swarmed by a team of nurses running around. Someone grabbed my legs, and pushed them back. Stu continued to cheer me on. All I could think in that moment was, do I really have to push? It was funny looking back at that moment! In that moment, it was just so much pressure, and it freaked me out, like am I supposed to deliver a giant baby out of me? My previous boys barely had to be pushed out. This one was going to make me really work for it. 

Dr. Massee, an attending OB on the call, rushed in as Sara slowly rotated our baby's head out, and took over. Fiona's head had emerged sideways, and had to be rotated around. Dr. Massee guided Fiona's body out. We later joked that he had only delivered X number and half babies that day, because he had arrived just in time to deliver the rest of Fiona. At exactly 10:41 PM, he lifted up our baby for us to see, and said congratulations! Just like that, it was over. No pain. I had given birth four times. With each time, it blew my mind how labor pain abruptly could end just like that. 

Stu snapped photos of me shortly after giving birth, and I was glad he did, despite me looking exhausted, because I had always felt that it was a special moment. I asked, as he cut the cord if our baby was indeed a girl. Despite having countless ultrasounds confirming that Fiona was a girl, I had to SEE her to believe it, and I got a visual confirmation that we did have a daughter. It was extremely fitting that Fiona was born on National Daughter Day! Fiona Evelyn weighed 7 pounds and 3 ounces, making her our second biggest baby out of our brood of kids for weight, and measured at 19 inches  long!


The rest of the birth went rather uneventful, and I was told I had some abrasions as well as a second to almost third degree tears from having a quick delivery. Aside from those, I was in a pretty decent shape from laboring, and giving birth to Fiona. It was worth all the pain to have her. We were thankful that the bleeding remained under control for the entire time, and that Fiona was healthy. She did swallow amniotic fluid during birth, which was very common with a precipitated delivery, and it made nursing a bit difficult in the beginning. Once she was able to regurgitate the fluid over the course of 24 hours, she became more effective at nursing, and it helped with her Jaundice level to go down as well.  

The first 48 hours were honestly a blur. I was so thankful that our family, and moms were able to help while we were in the hospital, and when we came home. We had several appointments to monitor Jaundice level in Fiona, and the numbers decreased over the hours. Dr. Karbon looked over Fiona, and said she was in a good health. My recovery continued to be on the right path. Our boys were introduced to their littlest sibling, and they all were enamored by her. We couldn't have been any more pleased with how well the introductions went among the kids, and they all were so gentle with sweet Fiona. We could tell that Fiona was going to be very loved, and cherished by her older brothers. All was right in the world, knowing that we were completed as a family of six, and it was immeasurably perfect to be at peace with concluding the chapter of pregnancy in my journey into motherhood.  

And though she be but little, she is fierce. Welcome to the world, our sweet little girl.