Thursday, August 27, 2009

37 weeks.

This is how far along I would have been today, had Jolie not come early. So I guess that makes her full-term today, kind of.

Jolie will be ONE MONTH OLD next Wednesday, and I can't believe it. The hours have gone by slowly, but the weeks have flown by, if that makes any sense. I can't believe how much she's changed in such a short period of time.

Jolie at 9 days, two days before we left the hospital:

Jolie yesterday, at 3 weeks, 3 days, SIX POUNDS!:

In Asian culture, the first month birthday is a big deal - instead of having a baby shower before the baby is born, Asians (traditionally) have a huge one-month birthday party. I guess if the baby survives the first month, then it means she'll make it for sure, and it's cause for a huge celebration.

That first week and a half in the hospital was just hell for me, with some rude nurses (there were some nice ones too, though) stressing me out about every little thing and making me feel incompetent just because Jolie would conk out when I would feed her, and it made her lose a little weight. I still maintain that they bullied me into rooming with her not to help me "feel more comfortable" being alone with my baby, but so they could test me and evaluate me and judge me about whether or not I was a fit enough mother to take my baby home. Yes, Jolie's a preemie, but still, I doubt the labor and delivery staff are so judgmental of mothers of full-term newborns. They really put me through the wringer those first 10 days, and I would leave the hospital crying and angry and sad because all I wanted was to have my baby at home with me.

And then we finally took her home, and it was an adjustment, introducing her to the rups (who are okay with her, but still keep their distance because they're not entirely sure what she is yet) and getting her feeding schedule established, and then I was stressing out a lot about breastfeeding. See, I really want to breastfeed my baby, but at the moment, the disparity in our sizes makes us slightly incompatible, anatomically. And the way it works is that I can't just wait until she's big enough - believe it or not, breastfeeding is a skill that both baby and mother need to practice to get it right. So I've been trying to BF her a little bit, in between all the pumping I've had to do, and I would cry because I was angry and sad that there was something wrong with me that I couldn't BF my own child, and I HATED pumping because it was painful and uncomfortable, and then I hated myself for even considering switching completely to formula, knowing all of the benefits of breastmilk, especially since she's a preemie. (At this point, you should be feeling sorry for Jimmy, because I have NOT been pleasant to be around.)

But my mantra of "one more day!" has gotten me through it - I've been BFing Jolie here and there, and she's successful some of the time, and pumping hasn't been as painful anymore because I think my body is adjusting, and while I still despise the tedium of the schedule and sitting at my desk hooked up to a machine, I now feel like it's manageable. I still hate it, but I no longer feel like I can't do it.

And Jolie herself is changing too. She was so incredibly tiny when we brought her home, and she still is, but she's grown two inches since birth, and she's now 6 pounds. Her double chin is adorably chubby, and she's been staying awake longer after feedings. I just KNOW we're going to hit that "crying constantly" stage soon, because she's becoming more fussy lately and she needs to be held more. We love playing with her, giving her baths, and basically looking at her all the time. Between Jolie and our X-Files binge, we're definitely not bored.

Bath time!

Her grandparents (on both sides) are over all the time, or asking us to bring her over, because they adore her, and I don't blame them. She is pretty damn adorable.

So there are three weeks left until my due date, and considering how much has happened in the last three weeks, I can't even imagine what leaps and bounds she will achieve by the time she reaches September 17th. And then we can start looking for all the regular milestones, like turning over, sitting up, and recognizing faces. Jimmy and I are both excited for the day she can laugh and play with us, but we're also not in THAT much of a hurry to see her grow up, because we want to cherish this time with her while it's still going on. She won't be a baby forever, and I don't want to take this for granted.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Jolie is one week old today.

These last seven days have been both the most wonderful and the most painful seven days of my life.

Life is wonderful because, obviously, my daughter has entered the world and everything in my life has shifted. The love I feel for her just cannot be described. She makes me happy in a way that nothing else in my life can. (And that's not to say that nothing else in my life makes me happy; what I mean is that it's a specific kind of happy that only she makes me feel.) I could watch her sleep for hours. Even seeing her sneeze or make a funny face is the most amazing thing in the world. As she is discovering life for the first time, I am rediscovering life in new ways.

Life is painful because it's been hard having to visit her in the hospital. This is the happiest I've ever been, but it's also the saddest I've ever been, and I think I've cried more this week than I have in a long time. I just miss her so much. I know she's doing well and she'll be coming home soon, but it's just really hard to come home and everything is "business as usual," but it's not, because I'm no longer pregnant, but there's no baby here either. If you think about it, I haven't been apart from her EVER, until I gave birth to her and had to leave her in the hospital. She was a part of my body, you know? And now when I look at my belly, she's no longer in there, kicking me or nudging me. But at the same time, she's not HERE, at home, in her crib either. It's a desperately sad and empty feeling. And it's been equally hard on Jimmy as well. He misses her just as much, and it's just as hard for him to say goodbye to her at the hospital as well.

Everyone has been offering their congratulations and good wishes, and we're both really grateful, but honestly, the celebratory mood is in such contrast to what we've been feeling all week. Everyone is like, "Yay! Baby!" and we're like, "No... no baby here. Just an empty house."

And it's been REALLY hard for me to hear people say things like, "WE WANT TO SEE THE BABY!" or "WE WANT TO HOLD THE BABY!" because even _I_ can't SEE my baby or HOLD my baby as much as I want to. I feel like this baby doesn't even belong to me yet, and everyone else is already making demands on her time and trying to take her away from me. So I've been feeling really agitated and angry and frustrated. I just feel like... How can you expect me to share my child with you when I haven't even taken her home yet? How can you demand my child when I can't even demand my child? All of my time with her, right now, is extremely limited, and it's VERY hard for me to keep my cool when it comes to other people wanting to take up that time right now. I mean, I'm not trying to single anyone out here, but please stop saying this to me at least until I've brought her home and gotten things settled down. Please. For the sake of my own sanity and well-being.

In addition, please stop telling me to SLEEP NOW, BECAUSE YOU WON'T GET ANY REST WHEN SHE COMES HOME, because the way I feel right now, I would rather have her home with me and never sleep again, than have to deal with being apart from her. I would make that trade IN A HEARTBEAT if it meant stopping the aching pain in my chest.

I've just been experiencing such a whirlwind of emotion this week. In between being extremely happy and extremely sad, I've had to find some sort of balance just to get business taken care of (maternity leave, gathering last minute baby things, etc.) It's hard to be business-like and efficient when my entire world has changed.

I'm sorry this is such a downer post, but I just needed to get out everything I've been feeling, because what pregnant woman ever expects to be leaving the hospital WITHOUT her child? Really, only Jimmy has known exactly how I feel this week because I haven't really been telling anyone about it. It hasn't been all storm clouds and darkness; the time I spend with Jolie makes everything better. As you can see by all the photos (and videos, if you're my Facebook friend), she's quite an amazing little girl, and she really is my sunshine. And since the doctors have said she'll be ready to come home in the next couple of days, I've been feeling less sad because now I have an actual day to look forward to (because it's absolute agony not having any solid answers). They've already started discharge procedures. So since I've heard that news, I've been feeling so much better, and am SO excited, and the things that were bothering me have been bothering me less.

So Jolie is one week old today. It's about 8:30 in the morning as I type this, and I know that at this time last Sunday, I was awake, probably sitting here at my computer, and experiencing what I know now were contractions. We were getting ready to go to my baby shower and I was frightened and in pain and totally not expecting that, less than twelve hours later, I would no longer be pregnant.

If anything, this past week has proven to me that with life, you really have to expect the unexpected. Period.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The weather was nice, the Giants beat the Phillies, and I gave birth.

Dear Powers That Be,

When I said I was sick of being pregnant and I was SO READY to have this baby and get it out of me, I really didn't think you'd take me seriously. This really wasn't what I had in mind.


PS - But since you did decide to listen to me this time, I have to thank you profusely for making this as easy and fast as it was.

To say it was a weird day for me yesterday doesn't even BEGIN to cover it.

It really started early in the morning. I woke up as early as 2am feeling some pain in my hips. This didn't alarm me, because ever since growing really huge, I get hip pain when I sleep (especially if I don't have a support pillow between my knees, which I didn't that night), and so I tried to reposition myself and then went back to sleep. I woke up feeling the same (but slightly worse) around 4am, and by 5:30am, it was no longer just hip pain but really intense downward pressure, and so I gave up on trying to sleep and just woke up.

By 8 or 9am, the pressure was getting worse, and coming sporadically. I was worried, but was trying to stay calm, because believe it or not, I was having a baby shower that morning - Jimmy's sister Laura was throwing me a baby shower in Willow Glen, and what kind of person calls in sick to their own baby shower? In addition to the pressure and pain, I noticed some mucous, but it wasn't bloody, so I wasn't really sure what to think. I vowed to call the hospital after I got home from the shower if things got worse. (The shower, by the way, was awesome and lovely, and I only wish I wasn't feeling so much physical discomfort throughout the whole thing.)

Things didn't get worse, but they definitely didn't get better, so when I got home, I called Labor and Delivery, and they said it didn't sound like I was in labor, so maybe I should just rest and hydrate, and if anything got worse, then I should come in. After a very short, rather painful and uncomfortable nap, I noticed that things DID get worse - I was bleeding now. The pain and pressure were stronger as well. I grabbed my purse and ID and whatever paperwork I had that my doctor's office had given me, and Jimmy and I headed to the hospital so they could examine me and see if what was wrong.

In the car, the pain was... manageable. By the time we walked all the way up to L&D, it was getting really bad, and I was bracing myself against the wall to manage it. At this point, I was starting to believe that I was having contractions, but I still wasn't thinking that I would be having the baby - I read that at this point (33 weeks), the doctors will give women fluids and monitor them and basically try to hold off labor. I pretty much thought that was what was going to happen.

So, we arrive sometime between 4:15 and 4:30pm... we had to sit in the frickin' waiting room until WELL after 6 o'clock! And every few minutes or so, I would have a really strong contraction. They were getting more and more painful, and closer together, but since all the rooms were full (SUPPOSEDLY!), there was nothing they could do for me, and so I had to suffer the indignity of going through all of this in front of about five other families, screaming kids, and people eating French fries. I was on the verge of tears, whimpering into Jimmy's shoulder, and gripping his hand until it turned white. I was begging him to go harass the receptionist, tell them that THIS WAS NO JOKE and that I needed help desperately. And every time he went, they would just tell him, "10 more minutes, okay?" Well, if you did the math, that "10 more minutes" turned into over an hour and a half. I was ALREADY in bad pain when I got there, and by the end of it, my body was literally trying to push. I was fighting it as much as I could, but I was in so much pain and scared to death.

They FINALLY took me in to an observation room, and I finally felt free to yell and moan and be as loud as I wanted to because I was experiencing so much pain and SO much pressure, and without forty people looking at me, I could finally deal with it. You have to understand, I'm not scheduled to take the "Preparing for Childbirth" class for two more weeks, so I had no idea how to manage all this pain other than to try to breathe, but it's really hard to remember things like that when you're scared to death. And I still wasn't even thinking that I was going to deliver a baby - I was scared to death that it was something ELSE, a complication, something that would endanger Jolie's life or mine. So I was panicking.

So how surprised was I when the doctor came in to examine me and said, "You're fully dilated and the baby is RIGHT THERE, so we're going to wheel you to the delivery room, and there's going to be a birthday today!"

And how surprised was I when I asked the nurse, "Is there going to be time for pain medication?" And she said, "NOPE! But she's small enough that she should just come right out!" And then I was scared.

No time for an epidural, no time for an IV. They wheeled me to a new room, moved me onto a delivery bed, propped me up, and finally let me push. And less than 20 minutes from the time I was brought in and the doctor examined me, out came a Jolie:

Jolie Estelle
4lbs, 13oz
Sunday, August 2, 2009

When I first heard her cry, I started to cry too (this is where I give props to Urban Decay Primer Potion), and it all happened so fast that it felt surreal. I'm STILL not sure that what happened really happened. I was afraid I'd wake up this morning and it would all just be a dream.

Other than the nightmare of the waiting room, it was the easiest possible delivery anyone could have possibly asked for. And what's more, Jolie is HEALTHY. Other than being early (and therefore small), she's absolutely fine - she was breathing fine on her own (no machinery), her muscle tone was great, she was regulating her body temperature fine... no complications. And as I found out this morning when I visited her, she was feeding fine as well. She still has to stay in the NICU for a couple weeks so they can monitor her functions and make sure she can do everything she needs to do, but she's just perfect.

So how often does it happen that someone goes into labor at 33 1/2 weeks totally spontaneously (they have NO idea how or why...), pops out a perfectly healthy baby, and then is perfectly mobile a couple hours later? I have no idea, but it happened to me.

They allowed me to go home a day early, and I chose to because I was going stir crazy at the hospital, and I need to sleep in my own bed anyway, and take care of getting things ready for Jolie. Today I woke up really early, had breakfast, and then waited for Jimmy so we could both go see Jolie together. She looked good last night, and she looked even better this morning. Our little Jolie is such a rock star!

So, I was sad today when I went home, because I never thought I would be leaving the hospital without my baby, and I cried on the way home, but I know it won't be long before we can take her home. In the meantime, I plan to see her every day and hopefully soon, you all will get to see her too.

So, please extend my daughter a warm welcome to the world. Jolie Estelle Fuqua has arrived.

Pause and reflect

I haven't written a blog post in almost a year. I've had a lot of stuff happen, some good and some bad, and I could've written a...