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« Waving in the amniotic breeze | Main | First time turning over...me, not the baby »

Julian is here!

Our sweet baby is finally here! He was born Friday. Feb. 13th at 4:07am, weighed 8lbs. 3ozs. and measured 20 inches long.

It was a rough ride the whole way. We got back from the hospital late Monday afternoon after a stay of three days. I was in labor at home for over two days, starting light contractions Tuesday night, Feb. 10th (my last night of full sleep!) going on through Wednesday and then keeping me awake on Wednesday night. Not too unbearable that night though. I squirmed around with each one and kept track of how far apart they were (with the Contraction Timer software on my Palm Pilot, naturally) but I was still able to sleep for a few minutes in between. However, the next day was a full day of hard BACK labor, which was absolutely excruciating and only got worse as the day went on.

I finally got to about 8.5cm dilated towards evening, but then started to reverse, my cervix started swelling tighter! Walking around and squatting had put too much pressure on my cervix from the baby's head. I had to lie on my left side on the couch for three hours without standing up, having the worst pain of my entire life. I thought those contractions were literally going to drive me mad. We tried the pool, but unfortunately and surprisingly, it made the pain much *worse*. I left the cover off it that morning in my contraction confusion, so the temperature cooled off and it felt cold while I was in there.

Several hours later my midwife checked again and my cervix had opened up to 9.5 cm. I tried to push a little, but the opening was too small for his head, we needed the full 10 cm of dilation. I was sent back to the hell of back labor on my left side, trying to relax as much as possible while trying not to scream my head off! Well, OK, I screamed a few times. ;-) Dan was a champion, he pressed on my lower back for about six hours straight with one hand, and held my other hand while I tried as hard as I could to crush it to a pulp with each contraction. Occasionally the doula would press on my back so Dan could have both hands free to be crushed to a pulp. Holding his hand and having someone push on my back as the only thing that kept me from going completely insane. It was just that bad. I can't even describe it. I couldn't even begin to imagine it without having gone through it.

An hour later, instead of being completely dilated, I was back at 7.5-8cm! At that point I said I just couldn't do this anymore, I was literally crazed with pain, at the very end of my rope, exhausted, and I couldn't just lie around having these horrible contractions hoping to make some progress but not knowing. We tried pushing again, but my midwife couldn't slip the cervix over the baby's head. I was shaking uncontrollably as well, which made it impossible to relax.

So we all went to Good Samaritan hospital at about 2:00am, it's about 3 minutes from our house. My midwife knew the OB-GYN on call and said he was a really good doctor. They whisked me upstairs and I got an epidural, which was a blessed relief at that point. We were going to wait and see if some pain relief and rest could help my cervix dilate that last little bit. Well, it did finally dilate, but by then my contractions had become farther apart and weaker, and pitocin didn't help . My uterus was just too exhausted to keep going as hard as it needed to to get the baby out now that my cervix was ready.

I was laying there enjoying the relief from pain when all of a sudden an alarm went off and the doctor and nurse rushed back into the room. The baby's heartbeat had dipped down way too low on the last contraction. Normally it makes a V pattern during a contraction, goes down and then comes right back up afterwards, but he stayed down a while this time, in more of a U. This meant that he was getting dangerously tired too.

That decided it, we had to get him out. So they prepared me for a C-section. I was fairly terrified, and still shaking uncontrollably from hormones and the epidural. Dan held my hand and tried to hold my arm down to keep it from shaking off the platform, my midwife stroked my arm, and the anesthesiologist gave me an IV stand to grip onto with my other hand. My epidural got boosted up to full-strength-toes-to-chest, although it ended up going all the way up to my chin. I couldn't see anything that was going on, as there was a sort of surgical tent over me.

It didn't take long at all. Julian cried as soon as he came out, which was a great sign. Dan stood up to see him and he cried too. They both went off to do weighing and testing, and Julian checked out to be wonderfully healthy.

Veronica stayed with me and held my hand, told me how healthy the baby was, how incredibly strong I had been, how we had done all we could to avoid this, but it was the only solution and it was fine, I shouldn't feel bad at all. I cried a bit, but I agreed with her. We delivered a healthy baby, and that was the most important thing. The only trouble was...I was paralyzed! The epidural went too high up, I felt like I couldn't swallow or breathe. And my mouth was as dry as sand, which didn't help. I felt like I was choking to death. I told the anesthesiologist, but he said I was fine. They wheeled me to the recovery room, where I watched Dan hold the baby and waited for the terrible paralysis to wear off. I could see my foot poking out of the blankets at the end of the bed, but not move or feel it at all. For some reason my foot was at a weird angle, almost parallel to the bed, and it totaly freaked me out to have my leg at such a weird bent angle and not even be able to feel it. Luckily I had a wonderful nurse (named Laura) who took good care of me and snuck me a few ice chips to relieve my dry-mouth suffering.

After about an hour, the epidural wore off down to my arms (it wears off from head down to toes in that direction) I was able to hold Julian and breastfeed him. He latched on perfectly right away. I couldn't feel my breasts at first, then they came back while I was breastfeeding, which was kind of funny. The nurse and I were laughing about it. Dan went home to get some sleep and feed the dog.

I was lucky enough to have a really good doctor and fantastic nurses, so my stay in the hospital was really as pleasant as it could be. They were all great breastfeeding advocates, and took wonderful care of me and Julian as I recovered. The food was even decent. The first day and a half were kind of blurry. I was taking Percocet for the pain and was so tired and hungry and out of it. I hadn't eaten much for the previous two days and then I was on clear fluids at the hospital for another day. I just focused on Julian and let the nurses do everything else. We cocooned in my hospital room bonding skin-to-skin for most of the three days, breastfeeding like crazy...I think I set a record for getting a baby back to his birth weight! ;-) I napped with him on my chest and gazed into his eyes about 18 hours a day. I am MADLY in love with this beautiful baby!

One of the nurses tried to take him to the nursery so that I could get uninterrupted sleep, but no WAY was I about to let anyone take him away. Other than that, the nurses were all absolutely fantastic. I actually enjoyed my time in the hospital, it gave me a chance to just focus on my baby without distraction.

I was surprised that my stomach was still so HUGE, and I was terribly swollen all over. You can see both in the photo where I am sitting in bed talking on the phone to my friend Angela. The doctor explained that my belly was mostly trapped air, retained water, and uterus, plus my internal organs had to slide back to where they were before the baby pushed them out of the way. The swelling was from being on the IV...it had a lot of sodium in it and would take about a week to go away.

Dan came to visit us for most of every day, when he wasn't home cleaning up and taking care of the dog. My friends John, Lisa, and Ray came by, Dan's family came by, we had quite a party at one point!

I was a little scared to go home on the third day. I still felt so crappy and could barely walk back and forth to the bathroom. Getting in and out of bed was a task, and that was a nice hospital bed that moved up and down to provide assistance! But I wanted to be with Dan and Bugs, and they were eager to have us home as well, so I asked to be discharged. The first night was a challenge. It was so hard to move around, and we have stairs, and getting into bed was almost beyond me, much less getting out. Plus now I had no nurses, and my hormones were going crazy. My fantastic friend Lisa brought over a full-on ravioli dinner with salad and bread and prepared everything for us, what an angel! Thank God she did, I was not up for anythng besides eating and going to bed. Totally wiped out, and I had forgotten to take any Motrin since coming home, so every movement was incredibly painful.

I cried about fifty times the first two days at home. I cried because the baby was so beautiful, I cried because my incision hurt like hell, I cried because I kept DROPPING everything and couldn't bend down to pick it up, I cried thinking about that terrible labor and delivery experience. Plus my back was killing me. Bending over a baby held in your arms is a real back-killer. My back is still killing me, but I am starting to feel a lot better in all other regards.

My breasts were like wooden bowling balls on my chest for about three days too, which hurt like hell. Total engorgement to the point where I was totally numb and couldn't even feel them. Julian was having trouble latching on, but still getting the job done. I went to the Parenting and Breatfeeding Center at the hospital the day after I got home (with Julian in his sling, which he LOVES) and they told me to put cabbage leaves inside my bra for 24 hours. Surprisingly it worked really well...there is some chemical in cabbage that slows milk production. It was too funny to walk around the house with big green leaves sticking up out of my shirt though.

That same day we went to the pediatrician and he had his first well-baby checkup. Babies *lose* weight their first week after being born, and Julian had gotten down to about 7 lbs. 12 ozs. two days later, but now five days old he was already up to 8 lbs. 8 ozs. So I felt great about that...I may be incapacitated, but my baby was eating like a champ!

Dan's mom Ida has been taking excellent care of us. Each day she drops by with a delicious meal all packaged up for us, does dishes, whatever we need. We are so grateful, it makes life so much easier knowing that we have something good to eat already prepared. Between nursing and diaper changes and trying to nap when Julian naps, I don't have much time to do anything else, and my back pain and the incision make standing up and cooking very difficult. During the day Dan is walking the dog, cleaning the house, running errands, and picking up all the things that I have dropped ;-). In the evening we play "pass the baby" where I stuff him full of milk and then pass him over to Dan for playtime to keep him awake. We do that from late afternoon post-nap until about 10:30pm, otherwise Julian tends to sleep all day and then wants to play all night and gaze into our eyes when I am dropping dead from exhaustion. If we can keep it to nursing and diaper changes every three hours at night, I'm OK, but if each one is a nighttime play session on top of that, then I fall apart.

I always thought newborns were kind of boring...what do they do besides eat and sleep and poop? Well, they do a lot of that, it's true, but this baby is so incredibly funny and cute. He has the craziest expressions. We took pictures of some of them, you can see them in the photo section. Plus he makes hysterical little noises...chirps and hoots and all kinds of sounds. He barely ever cries. He smiles a lot. He likes having his hands free to wave around and pat you. He LOVES to snuggle. He loves his Baby Bjorn bouncy seat. He loves being worn in slings. He's really very happy. The only thing that makes him cry very hard is being hungry, and we never let him get too hungry, so therefore he never really cries too much. He sleeps with me, so I can tell by his little noises when he's hungry, I don't wait for a full-on cry. I know what he's saying, I don't make him spell it out!

Watching him breastfeed is a laugh riot. He has this whole relationship with the nipple. He plays with it, he coos to it, he lunges for it like a crazy starving madman, he pops off it all of a sudden and slaps himself around the face with it, then leaps back onto it with fierce gusto. Then he snuggles up to it and practically smokes a cigarette afterwards. It's too, too funny. After he eats he gets the Drunk Crazy Baby expression, with a big sloppy wet smile and half-closed eyes. Then he throws himself around all dramatically. I'm telling you, these newborns are fascinating! Who knew? And I hear they just get more interesting as time goes on. ;-)

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