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Here we are, six-weeks postpartum and I’ve finally emerged from the haze of newborn survival-mode.  The first month was quite a doozy, let me tell ya!  I’ve never been so anxious, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed in my life.  It’s an understatement to say that life will never be the same.  Even though it’s been tough, we are now settled into our new family home and baby girl is even sleeping through the night!  A couple other special milestones were reached today, too:  Although we’ve seen her smile during her sleep (happy baby dreams!), she gave us her first real smile today.  She was just finished with her morning feeding and I asked her if she wanted to go to church today…she replied with a wide-awake smile and we both just ate it up and took it as confirmation that it was finally time.  Because she hasn’t had her first round of vaccinations yet, Ryan’s been hesitant to take her out in large crowds but I just couldn’t wait any longer.  Thus, this morning was her first visit to the Lord’s house and going together this Sunday morning as a family made my heart so full.

babys first church visit to Grace Covenant Church

Baby’s first church visit

Several weeks ago, I began a blog post sharing Alexandra’s birth story…our time in the hospital was so memorable that I wanted to capture everything that happened.  The aforementioned newborn “survival-mode” quickly took over my time & energy and I never got around to posting it.  So, now that I finally have a minute to collect my thoughts & properly organize a sentence, here is my recount of our daughter’s entry into the world:

Our precious baby girl decided to come early!  Saturday, January 10th was her actual due date but my water broke at home at 5:30 a.m. on Monday the 5th.  I’ve never really placed much stake in the effect of the tides, moon, storms, etc. on our lives, but I believe my “spontaneous rupture” as they called it, was surely brought on by the first full moon of 2015.  Shining brightly into the floor-to-ceiling windows of our downtown condo, the moon was at the height of its fullness right around the exact time my water broke.  In fact, that day the hospital’s maternity ward was at full capacity and the nurse said although it sounds a little crazy, a full moon will usually do that.

During my chat with the doctor on-call, we were told that since it was my first pregnancy we had a couple of hours to gather our things, eat, and make it in to the hospital without rush.  It was so nice to shower up, do some final cleaning, take a couple of pictures, and apply a little makeup before heading out the door.

One huge benefit of choosing the OBGYN practice we did is that their office is located directly across the street from the hospital in which we elected to deliver, Seton Main.  We were already scheduled for a regular weekly appointment with that day, so we just called-in & headed there first to confirm that today was the day.  After testing the amniotic fluid, they determined my water had indeed broken but I still had not begun to dilate.  My doctor advised starting with a single dose of a drug called Cytotec, which is like a step before Pitocin and has an off-label use of initiating dilation/induction.  Since it’s administered at the hospital, we headed on over to get all checked-in.  We arrived at the Labor & Delivery floor around 9:30 a.m. and took one last belly bump pic before everything changed forever!

One last bump pic before delivery

The baby bump’s last hurrah!

Luckily, the Cytotec began to work after just one dose (they were willing to try up to three doses throughout the day) and without having to use Pitocin, my contractions started within about 3 hours.  During this period before contractions began, we had ample time to get acclimated to our room, meet the nursing staff, ask all our questions, chat with my doctor again, and begin to call & alert family that yes, it was actually GO TIME!

The next five hours of contractions were no joke.  Going through labor pains is seriously the most intense experience, but I’m grateful I got the chance to go through it.  The waves of pain rolled in lightly at first but naturally, intensified significantly over time.  I used breathing techniques, the exercise ball, a heating pad, and my husband’s support to get through each wave of pain.  Ryan was such a trooper for me during this part of the process and I especially appreciated him applying counter pressure with his thumbs to the small of my back when I asked for it.  I didn’t expect to feel it so bad in that area, but the severe lower back pain might’ve been the worst part of each contraction.  I got to where they were coming in a minute & a half apart and was dilated to a 4 when I decided to go ahead and take an epidural.  Because you have to be able to sit still for five minutes straight in order to receive the shot into your back, I got nervous that if I waited any longer I wouldn’t be able to hold still!  The intensifying contractions required me to move to get through them and I knew that if I waited any longer, they would prevent me from sitting still & holding that hunched over position for the required amount of time.  Luckily the epidural wasn’t painful or scary at all, and it was successful at providing relief for the next part of the process.

relief after epidural

All smiles during delivery following the sweet relief after epidural

The next few hours of labor held a night and day difference from the first half of the experience.  Our parents came into the room & visited with us, I was actually able to hold a conversation with them, and I had time to rest my eyes and attempt to relax before the big moment.  Around 8/8:30 p.m., it was time to get checked again and the doctor proclaimed that it was time to push!  The most amazing part of the whole process is that baby girl was more than completely effaced…even to a +2 (I believe that’s how they put it?) — basically, you could tell for weeks that she had “dropped”…in fact, she was always really low from early on in my pregnancy and now that it was time for her to come out, she had already done most of the work getting there!  With the mirror, I was able to see her little head and touch her hair before I even started pushing.  No episiotomy, either — my doctor just used olive oil to stretch & massage the skin during delivery.  I was told my pushing style was unique — I could quickly tell having other people hold my legs wasn’t cutting it, so I held ’em back myself.  The nurses were cheering me on & said they’ve never seen someone do that but the ‘Happy Baby’ pose from yoga class was working for me:  I only had to push for 30 minutes and she was here!

post delivery new baby picture

Me, just after delivery, holding our new bundle of joy

Hmmmm, how to convey the epic moment you see a little person emerge from out of you?  An actual human being who’s been cooking inside your belly for 39 weeks?  To see their eyes blink open and hear their cry?  –It’s incredible, amazing, miraculous.  I didn’t care that she was covered in goop, I wanted to hold her close and just be in awe of her.  I could tell immediately how much she looked like Ryan and upon seeing her face, we both had confirmation of our top choice of names:  Alexandra August.  I wanted to do “delayed cord clamping” and although I don’t think she agreed with the merits of the practice, our doctor obliged and we kept her cord connected for 5 minutes after birth.  I was nervous he wouldn’t want to or be able to stomach it, but Ryan cut the cord!  Oh, and they asked if I wanted to see my placenta and I said yes — yikes, this mass of afterbirth looks like a huge sack of yuck!  But, next time I will definitely look into saving it for freeze-drying into placenta pills.  (No one warned me about the Baby Blues and I’ve heard the hormones in your placenta can help with that.)  I can’t say enough great things about my OBGYN, Dr. Kung at Women Partners in Health and I can’t sing enough praises for the labor & delivery nurses at Seton Main.  I couldn’t have asked for better partners to see us through the birthing process.

So, on January, 5, 2015 at 9:38 p.m., we welcomed our baby girl Alexandra August Wiese into the world.  She was 6 pounds, 4 ounces and 21 inches long.  Half an inch of that height was from a pretty gnarly cone head, but that evened out within a couple of days — haha!  But seriously, our prayers were answered:  she was totally healthy and I fared the labor & delivery process pretty well, too.  Came out of it with an ‘average tear’ (level 2 laceration) and some numbness in my knees attributed to temporary nerve damage during labor.  Our parents were obviously overjoyed with the news of a successful delivery and they were able to come in and meet their grandchild just in time for her first bath.  I remember being ravenously hungry but feeling & looking pretty good, considering I just had given birth.  –I guess when you only push for half an hour your makeup doesn’t sweat off!  Soon after our visitors had left but before we were put into our recovery room, it was time to try to breastfeed.  We tried cross cradle hold & football hold with no luck, but side-by-side was a success.  She now nurses like a champ — no issues with latch, nipple confusion, or anything!

The first night in the hospital was a sleepy blur…in hindsight, I would’ve utilized the hospital’s nursery (it was full anyway, apparently due to the full moon) but because I was breastfeeding, we were advised not to offer her a bottle or pacifier just yet and keep her in the room with us so she could nurse on-demand.  The second night was sleepless, too…up for hours upon hours rocking her side-to-side, skin-to-skin.  Our post-delivery hospital time was rotation of specialist visits, not-as-bad-as-I-was-warned hospital food, and just plain exasperated exhaustion…when it was time for discharge, we were certainly ready to go home.

Dada's 2nd night in hospital w/ new baby

Our new “Dada” during the second day of our hospital stay

Now, here we are:  out of the hospital, out of our downtown condo, and in our new home, happy & cozy.  Her nursery is coming together, she’s past her one-month fussy stage, and I’m getting the hang of this whole newborn parenting thing.  She’s growing splendidly (is breastfeeding as I type this now, actually) and is just so beautiful.  We are incredibly thankful for our blessing…she’s truly made us into a family.