pregnancy

Nolan: A Birth Story

I feel like I need to preface this by saying that I can't help but compare every aspect of Nolan's - a singleton's - birth with that of having twins. I never really thought of Caden and Brooklyn's birth as being difficult before. Though things (of course) didn't go as "planned" with the twins, everything was fine in the end. However the entire experience, top to bottom, of a twin pregnancy, labor, birth, and the days that followed cannot compare to that of a singleton, at least my singleton, Nolan. While I knew that the experience of having twins was different, more difficult, I really had no idea just how much so until now.

I was continually amazed at the peace, the rest, the laidback pace of it all this time around. Obviously having a planned c-section helped. Yet while we were in the hospital with Caden and Brooklyn, there was always something happening. If one didn't need to feed, the other did, followed by a nurse needing to see me, or Caden, or Brooklyn, or both, or all of us. Someone needed to be taken away for a hearing test, the other needed a day under the Bili light, it was time for my meds, their meds, a new IV, a meal (which I never ate uninterrupted), the lactation consultant stopped by, etc., etc., etc......meaning that my room was a constant hub of activity.

But last week, I actually had downtime with Nolan. Time for cuddles just because I wanted cuddles, a meal or a snack when I wanted to eat a meal or a snack. Tyson looked at me at one point and said, "I'm actually kind of bored".  Let me assure you, at no point during our stay in the hospital with Caden and Brooklyn were we ever, ever bored.

All this to say that this time around, everything seemed to be actually...enjoyable. I was present, in the moment, and mentally and physically able to appreciate the experience. I can even articulate it better now, with a (mostly) clear head of just what all happened.

This is how we met Nolan.

I awoke the morning of February 22nd fully aware and prepared (well...as much as possible) for what the day was to bring. And I did prepare: I had the luxury being able to shower, do my hair and makeup, and finish packing for our hospital stay. It was calm, and besides the packing, more or less like any other morning. From the get-go, this was nothing like two years and two days before, when I spent the night in labor, ended with a c-section, and all after over 24 hours with no sleep. I was rested, ready, and, heck, even clean.

I can't stress enough how calm it all was. I had time to play with Caden and Brooklyn before we left for the hospital at 9:30. We played choo-choos and puzzles, cuddled, and snapped one last photo of us as a family of four before it was time to go. Which Caden and Brooklyn took completely in stride. When I told them that "Mommy and daddy are going to go bye-bye now to go have the baby. We'll see you later!" Brooklyn calmly turned to me, waved, and said, "Bye-bye mommy." (If she only knew...)

Tyson and I drove to the hospital and it was somewhat surreal...yet so ordinary. Driving there in the car felt like any of a million other times we've driven in the car together...and yet - come on - we're going to the hospital to meet out baby! The two just didn't seem to go together.

My family (mom, dad, brother) was already in the waiting area when we arrived, and we chatted for a bit before I checked in. I really can't emphasize how ordinary this all felt. Like it should have felt big and emotional and monumental -today is the day!- but it just didn't. Not yet. And certainly not like the urgency of arriving at the hospital for Caden and Brooklyn's birth.

After signing some paperwork, Tyson came back with me as I was prepped; gowned, given an IV, blood drawn, baby monitored, etc. All this took only about an hour, which meant we had to wait another hour before they were actually ready for my scheduled OR time of noon. Which, to be completely honest, was plain old boring. I didn't have anything to do and so...we waited. My family all came back to say hi one more time, but I basically sat in a tiny room with no windows, hooked up to an IV, in an extremely flattering hospital gown. Just waiting. Again, Caden and Brooklyn's birth was anything but boring.

Then things started happening - really happening. The anticipation began to build. At exactly five minutes to noon, doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, all began entering my room to introduce themselves and let me know what their role would be during the delivery. No sooner did people start coming into my room than they stopped, and it was time. I kissed Tyson good-bye for the moment and walked (Yes walked.  It seemed somewhat anticlimactic.) into the OR.

This is where things got really real. I knew that Tyson would be joining me again soon, and everyone on my team was truly wonderful, but there's something about being in a cold OR, up on the table, quite literally bare-assed naked to the world as my epidural was administered, without anyone I knew...it's lonely. I can't say I was scared exactly (it helped having gone through this once before), but anytime I felt anxious I kept thinking, rushing forward, to the moment that Tyson would walk through those doors to join me. I received the epidural, and was splayed with arms wide open across the table as the activity continued. It is sort of nerve-wracking, and yet calming, to observe the activity going on around you, all to bring your baby into the world. Last time, and even more now, I was struck by how formal and disciplined and organized it all was...everyone has their job and their spot to stand and their task to perform at just the right time.  The drape was hung...they announced my name and the procedure and some other formalities...my team was getting ready to start...I had a sudden and momentary panic that Tyson wouldn't make it in time (hadn't they left to get him ages ago?), when he walked through the door. I felt calm again.

Calm and nauseous. The nausea hit almost immediately as they, well, cut me open. There's this weird sort of disconnect as you hear a scissors and other instruments going to work, and know full well what is happening...and yet not be able to feel a thing besides some general pulling and tugging.

It was only minutes, but it felt like ages as I lay there waiting for baby's arrival.  Finally I knew -this is it! - as there was one last, long, huge tug, and baby was free. "It's a boy!" Tyson announced to me, and despite the mask I knew he had the same wide, crinkle-eyed grin just like when Caden and Brooklyn were born, and baby was no longer an "it" but a he. HE was here, our little Nolan, at 12:25 pm. (Fun fact, the hospital plays a little lullaby stanza whenever a baby is born, so at 12:25 my family heard the lullaby in the lobby and knew that "their" baby had made its appearance.) They held him up over the sheet, pink and wet and wrinkled and crying, so that I could see him - him! - for the very first time. His nose, that cute little scrunched-up prominent nose, and a swath of dark hair make up my very first memory of him.

Tyson, all gowned up, rushed over to the warming table where they cleaned, warmed (that OR was COLD), weighed (6 pounds 14 ounces), measured (20.5 inches long), and swaddled him before placing him in Tyson's arms. (Also: Apgar scores of 8 and 9.  #mommybrag.) I didn't take my eyes off of him, even though my neck was cramping as I strained to see Nolan off to my left. My anesthesiologist tried to get me to turn my head to relieve some of the cramping, but I could only last a few seconds before straining to see him again.

At last, though I'm sure it was only minutes, the nurse asked if I wanted to do some skin-to-skin with him. Um...do people actually refuse this?!?  They laid him across my chest where he fit and snuggled right in.  I know I keep comparing this time to how it was last time, but I didn't get to do this with Caden and Brooklyn, who were immediately rushed to the NICU due to an infection. Nolan and I cuddled while they finished putting me back together, and then we rode up the elevator, to our recovery room, which is also where we spent the rest of our hospital stay.

I got over an hour of Nolan and me time. I didn't know that giving birth could be like this. Last time I was so lonely in recovery...Tyson went to see our babies in the NICU (which I wanted him to do, but didn't mean that I felt any less alone), while I recovered in a room by myself just off the OR. But now...I got to cuddle Nolan to my heart's content, as Tyson was in and out to announce the news to our families.  I can't get over how peaceful, how relaxing this time was, despite the lack of feeling in my legs, having fluids pumped into me, tubes and wires snaking their way around my bed, and a nurse hovering nearby to check my vitals every 15 minutes.  I didn't get time to just be and appreciate Caden and Brooklyn. I got Nolan all to myself from the start, and I truly did feel more attached to him because of it.  I certainly loved Caden and Brooklyn and felt strongly protective of them, but looking back now, after this experience, I didn't quite have a bond with them right away like I felt with Nolan.  He was just so fiercely MINE.

The next part that I really remember, that I was really looking forward to, was introducing Caden and Brooklyn to their baby brother. Tyson collected them from the lobby and walked them upstairs to my room. They rushed in, Brooklyn complete with a stuffed puppy to give to baby brother under her arm, but stopped suddenly before they got to my bed. Their eyes were both huge. I'm sure they didn't know what to think. There was mommy in a strange bed wearing strange things and holding a baby. Brooklyn just stared and stared, but Caden was concerned. He pointed to the IV in my hand and said, in a small concerned voice, "Mommy?", and rushed forward, all protective, as if to rip it off of me. I felt so bad, and tried to reassure him that I was okay. They got over the worst of their shock within a minute or so, and took turns on the bed cuddling with "baby". "Cuddling" mostly involved attempts to literally tackle him with their hugs, squish him and me as they tried to kiss his lips, and repeatedly shove the stuffed puppy in his face as they tried to show it to him.

Later, Tyson's mom was holding Nolan while Caden and Brooklyn were out of the room. When they returned Brooklyn immediately rushed over to grandma saying "Mommy baby! Mommy baby!" and tried to rip poor Nolan out of her hands to give him back to me. She was clearly protective of this little brother, and as far as she was concerned it was mommy's baby, and no one else's.

Fine by me. I was more and more in love with this little guy every time I held and looked at him. He was just so perfect. He hardly made a sound, except when he was legitimately upset (hungry, naked, we dared to disturb him for a diaper change), and was content to just cuddle and sleep.

The following morning we woke up to a perfect fluffy snowfall - Christmas snow. It was so peaceful and beautiful as I watched from my bed, with Nolan just next to me in his hospital crib. And the rest of our hospital stay continued to have this calm over it.  I truly cannot explain or overstate the difference between the calm this past week vs. the constant activity of Caden and Brooklyn's birth.  

I didn't know it could be like this.

I assumed all births, twins or no, were somewhat busy and chaotic, even in the days that followed. This hospital time was like a mini mommy vacation. A strange vacation, where you don't get to sleep through the night or even all that late in the morning, and maybe the meals aren't quite up to par, but a vacation nonetheless. And this time I had hours at a time with Nolan all by myself, which I absolutely reveled in, and now have stored up in my memory forever.  He became more and more mine the more we spent time together, just him and me.

My Nolan.

I can't believe it's been a week.  I'm not usually so sentimental, but chalk it up to postpartum hormones that I keep tearing up while typing this, and wanting to go back to that peaceful hospital cocoon that we will never have back ever again.  Instead we'll soak up new memories here at home, as a newly formed family of five.

And there is this feeling, that of course - of course - it was a boy all along.  It was Nolan all this time.  How could he have been anyone else?

Enjoying This Week

With baby's arrival scheduled for Monday (!!!) I am absolutely enjoying these last moments as a family of four.  I propped my exhausted, stretched-out, 9-months pregnant self on the couch last night and just took in the fun that my three favorite people had together, working on a puzzle, running around, and just generally being silly the way only (almost) two-year olds and their "I-can-still-act-like-a-two-year-old" daddy can.  As excited as we are for baby's arrival, I can't help but think of how I'll also miss the routines and life we've built with these two little people.


Also enjoying this "last" week:

  • The ability to move around easily.  Now that I know what to expect from a c-section recovery, a 9-month preggo belly actually seems manageable.
  • The relative ease of leaving the house with two toddlers in tow, who can walk, (sort of) follow directions, and (somewhat) dress themselves.
  • Driving.  Because I just remembered somewhat recently that a c-section recovery also means no driving for several weeks.  *sigh*
  • Sleep.  Nighttime bathroom trips not withstanding, a full night of uninterrupted sleep is a luxury that I probably won't have again for the next several months to a year.
  • Me time.  I might have incredibly active twin toddlers, but at least their nap and bedtimes sync up.  Adding an infant on a completely different schedule is going to be an entirely different ballgame.
  • Not planning my wardrobe around what's easiest to nurse in.  'Nuff said.

Prepping for a Singleton

It's official.

We are scheduled to meet Baby #3 at about noon on Monday, February 22nd.

(Yes, I scheduled a repeat c-section.  Suffice to say that my doctor thought it was incredibly likely I would end up with a c-section again anyway, even if I tried for a "natural" birth, and I was not about to go through 12+ hours of labor again, including 3 excruciating hours of pushing that resulted in no progress only to wind up being sliced open anyway.  Cut me open.  Let's do this.  Done.)

It's kind of weird to know your baby's birthday in advance.  Granted, I will be 39 weeks (+2 days) at that point, so it IS possible I could go into labor before then, but still.  See you in 6 weeks and 4 days, baby!

***

I'm not really sure what to expect with one baby.  It seems like everything I know about babies, I know in relation to twins.  Sure, I expect it to be easier -- Tyson and I won't BOTH need to be up for all feedings all the time during the middle of the night, forever, for example -- but one baby also seems kind of strange to me.  To us.  Take breastfeeding for example.  Nurse twins by feeding one on each side.  Done.  Switch sides the next time.  I think with one baby you're supposed to try to nurse both sides each time?  Maybe? However also in relation to my second-pregnancy-been-there-done-that apathy, I feel no desire to research these things whatsoever.  We'll figure it out.  There are nurses, doctors, lactation experts, etc. at the hospital.  It'll be fine.

***

I went to my 32-week appointment yesterday.  I actually lost weight since my last appointment a month ago ("I think you're the only patient or person ever who actually lost weight over the holidays," my doctor remarked, "What about cookies?  Didn't you eat any cookies?"  Oh yes sir, I ATE THE COOKIES.) and am measuring smaller than 32 weeks.  To have lost weight and be measuring SMALLER than the week I am in?!?  Boggles the mind. Twin pregnancy this is not.  I actually sort of feel like I'm not doing my pregnancy duty by losing weight.  I immediately began to rectify the situation by making a lemon ricotta pound cake.  Take that, scale.

***

People keep asking me if I'm looking forward to having one baby this time.  Won't it be so easy?!?  The short answer is yes (barring any colic/other unforeseen medical problems that we did not have to deal with last time).  In fact, I feel like being in the hospital is going to be a sort of vacation with just me and baby.  I've never had only one baby to take care of before. Throw in meals delivered to me three times a day and lying in bed surrounded by fluffy pillows with someone at my beck and call at the push of a button?  Sounds pretty good. However once we are home, keep in mind that Caden and Brooklyn will STILL BE HERE. While, yes, taking care of one infant will certainly be easier than taking care of two infants, I will be taking care of one infant and also two VERY active just-barely-turned-two-year olds.  We are not trading Caden and Brooklyn in for the 2016 version of a Williams baby.  Yet.

***
January's project: ACTUALLY PREPPING for a baby by finishing off the nursery.  (As well as planning Caden and Brooklyn's birthday party.  And organizing/decorating the office which became our catch-all room after the move while Tyson was gone.  Since I absolutely do not go overboard on these kinds of things (har har har) there is absolutely no pressure here.) (Who, me, NESTING?!?)  (I have my calendar organized with what tasks need to be completed each week. Sometimes each DAY.  Typical first born child/OCD much?)  Progress so far: accent wall painted.


Crib is ordered.  Dresser is being picked up this weekend.  Misc. decor ordered or already delivered.  Boxes stand at the ready to be unpacked.  Take that self-imposed-somewhat-arbitrary calendar deadline of January 24th!


30 Weeks

It dawned on me the other day that I am 30 weeks pregnant.  THIRTY WEEKS.  That's like, third trimester territory.  Which actually means I hit the third trimester a good two weeks ago.  Without even realizing it.

People told me the second pregnancy was different.  They were busy, they weren't as concerned, their pregnancy books sat and collected dust.  I didn't believe them.  I was always astonished when I would ask how far along my friends were and they would have to stop and think about it.  I'm far too organized.  That would never be me.

Reality check.  That is now TOTALLY me.

The first time around, one of the highlights of my day was checking my pregnancy app every day to check in on their development and my to-dos.  One of the highlights of my week was on Thursdays, when I hit another week of being pregnant, and I would get to read more about their development.  (I am apparently super boring and lame.)  I probably could have told people down to the day how far along I was: "24 weeks and 3 days"...though that may have been aided and abetted by the fact that I had 8 hojillion doctors appointments and ultrasounds, all based on how many weeks/days along I was.  Pregnancy books, classes, planning and decorating the nursery...having a baby (well, two) was always at the top of my mind.

This time I have to think to even remember what day adds another week to my pregnancy, (Saturdays), much less how far along I am.  (Though that may be aided and abetted by not only having two toddlers around, but also the craziness that has been our life lately with moving and Tyson being gone, never mind being pregnant.)  I can't tell you the last time I cracked open What to Expect or even bothered to glance at my pregnancy app.  I can still forget about being pregnant, sometimes, until a walk past a mirror or my reflection in a window startles me.  I used to countdown to each doctor's appointment or ultrasound, just waiting to be reassured that they were both developing okay. This time I hardly even remember when my next doctors appointment is, and the kicks, jabs, and rolls that I feel all day long are more than enough to confirm that baby is doing just fine.

In some ways, this is very, very good.  By the time I was 30 weeks with twins, I was already measuring over 40 weeks (aka full term for a single pregnancy).  I don't even want to recall what my weight gain was by this point.  I was so uncomfortable from December onward.  This time, I feel downright petite.  It's still sort of easy for me to forget.  And while I'm type A enough that I absolutely want the nursery completed before baby arrives (January's project!), I also know that we have everything necessary to get us started.  The blankets, the pack and play that they will sleep in for the first few months in our room anyway, plenty of sleepers, some diapers.  


Two years ago about this time.  You don't even want to know how swollen my legs and ankles were by that point.  Just like the Grinch's, they grew at least three sizes...


vs. today.  Let me tell you, there is NO COMPARISON.  And I'm even two weeks further along this time than I was with the twins.  Also, these are probably the only photos I've taken of my "bump" this entire pregnancy.  Sorry, baby #3.


2nd Pregnancy, 3rd Baby

There's something strange and curious about having pregnancy number two equal baby number three.  From doctor's visits with a new nurse ("So this is your second baby." "Third." "But you've only had one other pregnancy?"  "Twins." *blank look* "Ohhhh...") to that first ultrasound ("Is this your first?"  "No, third."  Holy crap that sounds like a lot of kids, it sounds like I know what I'm doing and I really have no idea) to articles and blog posts that seem to pop up at least once a week about how to balance (singular) toddler with a newborn and adding a second child to the family after parenting just one for oh so long!


(Practice!)

In fact, it was and still is kind of hard to relate to other people's posts about their pregnancies since, y'know, the usual is to add (just!) one baby at a time.  We've always had to balance two.  That's just the reality of twins...you're thrown to the wolves and expected to swim.  (I...may be mixing metaphors here.  Whatever. Seems accurate.)  While seemingly everyone else I know is concerned with adding baby #2 to the mix and OMG how to I manage TWO KIDS?!?  Well...I've just always had to deal with that.  In most ways, I don't really worry about how adding another baby to the mix will effect Caden and Brooklyn. They've always had to deal with another little person around and having my attention divided between them.  Come to think of it, I don't really worry how adding a baby to the mix will effect them at all.  I'm more concerned with keeping them occupied while I'm nursing without fighting for the eleventeenth time over the same toy (which we probably have two of, anyway) and that I'll manage to get them fed on a somewhat regular schedule with something resembling actual, real food.


Not to diminish anyone (i.e. everyone else) who is adding a baby to the chaos that is already having a toddler.  If I only had a Caden or a Brooklyn, I'd be worrying about all the same things.  And in a lot of ways, I can relate so much more this time to articles about baby's development and whatnot, since there is only one baby in there, and my timeline as far as actual due date, doctor's appiontments, etc. actually matches what it's "supposed" to.  It was a shocker to me last pregnancy when I opened What to Expect When You're Expecting (aka the pregnancy Bible) and found no more than three pages on twins/multiples pregnancy.  (I recommend this book if you're looking for something multiples-specific.)  Or when we went to the labor and delivery class and approached the seasoned nurse who was instructing with several of our twin-specific questions and got mostly answers of "I'm not sure".  (How reassuring!).  (It went fine.)  Now when I open WTEWYE (Which, second pregnancy, so-HA!  Not that often.) it actually more or less all seems relevant, which is...nice.

Second pregnancy with only one baby after twin pregnancy BONUS: while everyone else is complaining about showing much sooner and gaining weight faster in their subsequent pregnancies, there is NO WAY I'm showing as much as I was at 17 weeks last time.  Forget second pregnancy...one baby/placenta/amniotic sac takes up WAY LESS room than TWO babies/placentas/amniotic sacs.  I'm pretty sure I was trying on maternity pants at the 7-8 week mark last time, and I held off until the 12-14 week point this time.  Whoo-hoo!