Saturday, April 14, 2012

In Love...(Weeks 1-7)

With this little guy! Almost 8 weeks have passed since Asher joined our family and now, it is really hard to imagine what our life was like without him. Granted, it was a little easier to get out of the door to go somewhere, but overall the transition has been really smooth! Praise the Lord! Can I just say he is so pretty...I know you shouldn't say that about your little boy, but really he is. That is the most common response we hear from other people...they say, wow, he is just too pretty and then say, well handsome is a better word to use!

I love the newborn stage...the sweet smiles, yawns, and sounds, the tiny hands, feet, and clothes, the sweet cuddling. There really is nothing more precious (Although Avery telling me she loves me completely unprompted comes close)! I am certainly aware of how quickly it will pass and I am trying to soak it in. Something inherently newborn is swaddling and for the first few days, Asher was not fond of it. This totally freaked us out, due to how much Avery liked it, so we tried it again sometime around 1 week old and he loved it. I really like the swaddle me quick and easy for during the day and for family who haven't mastered swaddling with a regular blanket. There is just something so wonderful about a swaddled baby...all snug as a bug :)

So far, Asher has taken really well to a schedule. At the beginning he ate every 2.5 hours during the day and we have moved to every 3.5 hours now. He is only awake for a total of about an hour before he is ready to go back down for a nap. And boy, does he nap like a champ...I can count on at least a 2 hour nap each time I lay him down. He would probably sleep longer, but I never let him go over 4 hours, so that he will sleep at night. Speaking of sleep at night, we had maybe 2 or three rough nights during his second week. For the most part now, I feed him at 10, he is down by 10: 30 and sleeps till 3 or 3:30. I feed him and he doesn't wake again until 7. He also sleeps on his stomach and loves it. Don't get me wrong... we are looking forward to sleeping through the night, but for now, feel good about the rest we are getting and are thankful for God's blessing in this area. I say "we" because Levi wakes up with me every night and gets Asher ready for me to nurse (unswaddles, changes his diaper) and then puts him back down after he is finished. This gives me time to use the restroom and afterwards, change nursing pads and get some water. He is up every morning at 5:30 an leaves the house by 6:15...What an amazing man to sacrifice for me in this way! My love language is acts of service and I couldn't ask for a more servant minded husband! Asher has a wonderful example to follow.

To plug Babywise once again, let me just say... the method is so natural and if you just watch your baby and how they react to being tired, rather than rushing over to comfort them immediately, you can learn a lot about their needs and help them self soothe. Sleep, Feed, Wake, just makes so much sense. For Asher, it was learning that he doesn't want to be awake very long in between eating and going back down. He is as happy as can be when he first wakes up and then while eating, but about 15 minutes after he is finished, he is ready for a nap again. If you do not put him down pretty quick, he gets really fussy.

With a sister as girly as Avery, he has lots of baby dolls in his future!
I have told several people that I think I am more smitten with Asher than I was with Avery. In the early days with her, I was just so busy trying to figure everything out that there wasn't much time for relaxing. This time, things have been much more laid back and I have had time to just be in awe of how perfect and precious my little boy is. I must say that he is smitten with me too...smiling when I sing to him and trying really hard to find me when he hears my voice.
Avery must really love him to share her prized Elmo!
Nursing has gone pretty smoothly...he nurses really well and I have plenty of milk, which is an awesome blessing. I just love how his little hand holds my finger while he is nursing. It melts my heart! With that said, nursing is not a cake walk. It takes time, dedication, and sacrifice. While I have had some pain, I have worked to get through it and hope to be able to continue to nurse through most of his first year.

As far as growth goes, Asher was 7:6 at birth and left the hospital at 7. At one week he was 7:3, at  two weeks he was back at 7:6, and at his 1 month checkup (5 weeks old) he was 9:12 (50th for weight). His length was wrong at the hospital...they charted 21.5 inches, but at his 1 week visit he was only 20 inches. He wasn't even back up to the hospital length at 5 weeks, measuring 21.25 (25th percentile). I am looking forward to his next check up!

Asher, it has been so much fun getting to know you the past two months! You are such a blessing to our family. Asherboy, little man, Ash man, we all love you bunches!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Asher's Birth Story

On February llth at 1:08 pm,  we welcomed precious Asher Thomas Elliott to our family! He weighed 7 lbs. 6 oz. and was charted by the hospital as being 21.5 inches long (it turns out he was really about 20 inches, as confirmed by his ped).  There really are no words that can adequately describe how you feel when you see your baby for the first time. Joy, exuberance, relief, and gratitude are just a few of the ones that come to mind. It is a sweet and special moment, that is forever a part of your being. But, because I know the details of his arrival will slowly become foggy, I want to document them for our memories.
Rewind to my 39 week appointment on 2/8/12, where it turned out that I had not progressed any since 37 weeks.  I was still at 2.5 cm dilated and around 80% effaced. Due to this, Dr. Golden, Levi, and I discussed a potential induction for that Saturday the 11th. Throughout this entire pregnancy, I sincerely wanted to go into labor on my own and attempt a natural birth. With Avery, my body reacted very poorly to the pitocin and the epidural making for a truly horrible induction experience. I was really sick for the last 8 hours of the delivery and felt completely out of control of any aspect of bringing my child into the world. I attribute a lot of bad experience to being uneducated on the true process of labor. Throughout this pregnancy though I became very enlightened on many of the birthing techniques, labor preparedness exercises, and all that is natural labor. In particular, I focused on the Bradley Method for child birth (Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way). Thus when the topic of induction came up, I was definitely reluctant.

At one of my earlier visits, Dr. Golden and I discussed the issues I had during my first delivery and my preferences for this forward to this appointment and he spent a lot of time reassuring me that if we did induce, this time, it should be very different than the first. Apparently, based on Asher's station (-1) and having a favorable cervix, he anticipated beginning the induction about 8:00 a.m and that we would be holding our baby by 2:00 pm. Admittedly, it sounded perfect to both of us, but I could  not shake the guilt over scheduling and induction after working so diligently toward a natural birth. Dr. Golden lightened the moment though by telling me that "Guilt is so overrated!" I definitely needed to hear that :) He told us to sleep on the decision and let his nurse know what we wanted to do at some point the next day.

The next morning, I was pretty much an emotional wreck over the decision. I called my best friend Katherine and basically went over every good and bad aspect of the decision. She was great and allowed me to shed all of the tears I needed to. She is so diligent to pray for her friends needs, and I know also covered me and our family in her prayers. After we talked, I called Levi about 10:00. I let him know my doubts and he said, lets pray separately over the next couple of hours and at 2:00 talk again to make a final decision.
As I prayed, I truly began to feel a sense of peace about being induced. The timing was spot on for maximizing Levi's time off from work and I was in a lot of pain every night when I got home from work. Thinking about going in for another week seemed daunting. Yes, I could have just started my leave, but to sit at home when I could have either been at work or had the baby, seemed pointless. Also, boys in our immediate family (Levi, Alex, and Samuel), all have a history of hanging out well past their due dates and storing up food for the winter (i.e. getting large). Dr. Golden had estimated Asher to be around 7 lbs, which seemed pretty perfect to me. Based on how hard it was for Avery to move through the birth canal at 6 lbs. 10 oz. we knew that a baby over 8lbs would be hard for me to deliver. So, at 2:00 we talked, and God had aligned our hearts in agreement for an induction.

Looking back, many of the emotions I experienced over making the decision came not so much from deciding if we should induce, but more from the realization that our family was about to change forever. It was the first time I had allowed myself the freedom to grieve over the loss of our family of three. Would I be able to devote enough time and attention to both children, would Avery handle the transition ok, would we have a healthy delivery? I used that Thursday morning as time to reflect on the memories we had made with Avery over the last 2.5 years, as well as face all my fears and doubts about bringing a new little one into the picture. By bed time, I had released them all to the One who holds the world together. Through the delivery and these first few weeks, He has been faithful to provide for our every need.

Friday night, Avery stayed with my mom, while Levi and I prepared for the next day by going to bed early. We arrived at the hospital at 7:30. By 8:00, my nurse Madonna had me all set up and started the pitocin. I got my epidural at 9:30. It was a much different experience to get it when I wasn't in a lot of pain. I endured 8 hours of labor before getting it with Avery, which I think was part of why my delivery went so terribly the first time. This time, I knew I wanted it very early, so that I could remain as relaxed as possible and let the pitocin do the work. At 10:00 Dr. Golden broke my water and checked me. I was 3.5 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Levi and spent the next couple of hours talking and resting. I surfed the internet, he did crosswords. About 11:45 Dr. Golden checked me again and I was at 7 cm and pretty much thinned out. He said that by the time everyone ate lunch (except me of course), I would be complete and ready to push. Over the next hour, I could definitely feel pressure and the contractions getting stronger. I also started to feel nauseous, which is a good sign that things are moving along. At 12:45, he checked me again and sure enough, it was time to push!

I pushed with Levi and Madonna for about 15 minutes...I was even brave enough to use the mirror this time! Dr. G came back in at 1:00, by 1:08 Asher was here. Dr. Golden used the manual suction cup for about 20 seconds right at the end and before I knew it, he was saying stop pushing his head is out! Asher's cord was wrapped around his neck (so was Avery's) but shortly after he emerged, he began to softly cry. Then they laid him on my chest and I took in every little nook and cranny of our precious little blessing. So tiny, so new, so perfect! Levi cut the cord and they weighed and measured him. One part of my natural birth plan that I did stick to was asking that they not put the gooey stuff on his eyes. There is not a purpose to use this on most babies and for a short period of time, it makes their vision more blurry than it already is. After they cleaned him up, they laid him back on my chest. I cried as I nursed him for the first time. What an amazing gift from God. The moments He was allowing us to live were completely underserved, but here we were experiencing the birth of a second child. Oh how awesome is our God!

Levi is such an amazing birth coach. Through both births he has been right there for every hard, gross, sweet, and amazing moment. He is always so cool and collected and his words of affirmation give me so much confidence. I cannot imagine experiencing it with any one else. Once at home, he told me that seeing me hold his babies for the first time is when all the emotion hits him. Then I remembered that both our eyes filled with tears when they gave Asher to me the second time. I am so thankful for the love we share!
Because Avery's delivery was so long and unpredictable, we told our family that we would call when I started pushing. Levi's parents left Haleyville about 10:00 that morning thinking it would be at least late afternoon before he was here. Levi called my mom around lunch to let her know I was at 7 and he was born before she could get to the hospital. Asher had been here about 15 minutes when she arrived. To plug how wonderful my mom is, I got really sick at the hospital shortly after he was born (no reason to give details) and she was there to take care of patient and attentive. Lets just say I do not know what I would have done without her :)

By 3:00 the whole crew was there and Asher was meeting his big sister for the first time! It was priceless and Avery was interested in examining every little part of his cute face, his hands, and then even his toes! Eventually, the new wore off and she grew restless. Grandmommy and Grandaddy brought her back to our house where she was spoiled with lots of play time and candy (she loves Grandaddy's smarties).

The next couple of days for us were filled with lots of cuddling and getting to know Asher. I had the sweetest nurses who took great care of me and get ready for a shocker, but I actually like hospital food! We got breakfast out most days, but even Levi ate lunch and dinner in the cafeteria both days. Several sweet friends came to visit little Asher and before we knew it, Monday came and we were heading home! This entire experience (except the 2 hours after he was born that I was so sick), was much better. Dr. G says that all OBs wish they could specialize in the birth of 2nd babies...typically much easier and quicker deliveries. I am thankful that this was the case for me!

Asher you are simply too good to be true! Our days are so much sweeter with you in them. It is amazing how my heart grew to hold even more love than could already. My little boy, my son...I look forward to watching God's plan for your life unfold and am unbelievably grateful to be a part of your story.