Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Birth Story

It's 8AM on a Sunday. Brent and the baby are sound asleep upstairs. I slipped out of bed to have a quick bowl of cereal and enjoy the next hour or so of the morning to myself before the day officially begins. Me time is hard to come by these days with a newborn!

So...where to begin? Rewind back to late October. The week leading up to my due date, there were signs of impending labor: lost mucus plug, back contractions, spotting, the "nesting urge". My due date came and went, and so did all the labor signs. I actually began to feel really great - the total opposite of what I was expecting to feel given the size of my bump at this point, which was more like a boulder. I walked 2 miles a day, bounced for hours on my yoga ball while I watched TV, used my husband to my advantage, if you know what I mean. Somehow, an entire week went by, and there I was attending my 41 week prenatal appointment. My cervical check showed I was a mere 1/2 cm dilated, which was a small improvement over the complete closure the week before. It was pretty clear my body wasn't going to be doing this on its own, so we scheduled an induction for the following week, allowing some time for my body to hopefully dilate more. At this point, after over 9 months of waiting, we were just relieved to finally have an "end date."

On Sunday, November 9th, we had a really nice day. Brent made my favorite: banana pancakes for breakfast. He took me to TJ Maxx to walk around for awhile and get my mind off of the impending induction. At 4 o'clock, we checked into the hospital. Shortly after, I was getting the IV in my arm, which should have been a good indication of what was to come: it took 3 attempts because the needle kept hitting a valve. Yeah, it's about as pleasant as it sounds. Though, I would have gladly had them make 3 more attempts at the IV before I had to ever experience the doctor inserting the cervidil under my cervix again. Cervidil is a prostaglandin, used to ripen the cervix prior to induction, and since I was barely dilated, they left the cervidil in for 12 hours to further encourage dilation. Brent and I tried to sleep the best we could, but it turned into a night of tossing and turning, something we both really regretted the following day.

The nurse removed the cervidil early the next morning, and my doctor arrived promptly at 7am to do a quick cervical check. After 12 hours with the cervidil, I was still only 1 cm dilated but 80% effaced, which indicated my cervix had thinned a good amount overnight. The nurse hooked me up to a low dose of Pitocin, which is used to bring on labor contractions. Every 20 minutes, the dose was increased until regular contractions began. They equipped me with a sensor on my abdomen that detected contractions and would display them on the computer screen next to me. The contractions began, and I could hardly feel them. After a few hours, the period-like cramping started along with heavy spotting. My mom arrived at lunchtime. She was going to be in the delivery room with Brent and I to help me with breathing exercises. The three of us strolled the halls of the labor and delivery floor. Slowly but surely, the contractions were getting strong enough that I couldn't walk through them and would have to stop and lean over the railing along the wall. Eventually, my water broke. Contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes. Everything looked promising. Soon, my body started to contract on its own, but I was also still hooked up to the Pitocin, so contractions were now coming every 2 minutes and were getting more painful. The doctor did another cervical check, and I was now 2 cm dilated. The nurse decreased the Pitocin dose to allow my body to continue to labor on its own. Unfortunately, the contractions weakened, so they had to increase the Pitocin dose again. Contractions were coming strong every 2 minutes when the Pitocin dose was even slightly increased, but when the dose was decreased, the contractions were not strong enough to dilate. This back and forth continued for a few hours. The subject of an epidural came up, but I really wanted to hold off as long as I could since I know the epidural can slow progress even more. Around 6 o'clock, I opted for a warm bath to ease labor pains. This worked for about an hour, and then all of a sudden, the strength and frequency of the contractions became unbearable. Brent began timing the contractions and realized I was barely getting 1 minute in between each one. I was shaking uncontrollably and crying by the time I got out of the bath. I just remember screaming to get the nurse for the epidural. I was incredibly lucky - by the time I was dried off, the anesthesiologist was waiting for us in our room. He was my favorite person, let me tell you. Five minutes later, I felt relief. I could sit back and watch the computer screen to see contractions without feeling them. It was amazing. The doctor came in shortly after for another cervical check, and I was now at 4 cm dilated. She was hoping the epidural would calm me down enough to allow dilation to continue at a faster rate than it had. I was finally able to get a few hours of sleep.

I'm tearing up as I type this; I still haven't quite come to terms with what ended up being my labor and delivery experience. I barely remember the nurse waking me up to do another cervical check two hours later. At 10 o'clock, my doctor woke me up, and I immediately knew something wasn't right.

You are still at 4 cm. Contractions are not regular enough. Your cervix has not made any progress in hours. We can allow the Pitocin to continue and see if you progress, but he's likely in a bad position for vaginal delivery. Or we can do a c-section, and you can have your baby by tonight. We can get things started in the half hour.

C-section? You mean surgery? Right now? I broke down. I don't think I have cried so hard in my life. Enduring 31 hours of labor just for it to end in a c-section. No woman wants that. But the thought of enduring another day of labor with no guarantee he would come on his own killed me. It was a simple decision to go with the c-section, but painful nonetheless.

Before I knew it, I was being sketched on, equipped with a hair net, carted down the hall, transferred to a surgery bed, injected with an epidural bolus to completely numb my lower half, and fitted with an oxygen mask, surrounded by room full of eyes. The epidural causes uncontrollable shaking. When Brent was let in the room, I finally felt calm. The doctor did a quick "pinch" check to make sure I couldn't feel anything before she made the cut. A few tugs and pulls later, our names were being called to look up above the drape, where our baby boy was being held for us to see. I could barely hold it together, it was such a surreal moment. He was quickly taken over to the table, where Brent got to cut his umbilical cord, and the nurses cleaned him up a bit before he was placed on my chest for skin to skin contact. It was the happiest moment of my life.

Brent got to go with him to the nursery while I was being stitched up, and shortly after, we all were reunited in our room. We practiced our first latch to get him acquainted with nursing, and then we were transferred to our own private suite for the duration of the stay at the hospital.

I am beyond excited to announce that Wyatt Allen Morse was born on November 10th at 10:59pm weighing 8 lbs 1.5 ounces, 20.5" long.

He is incredible. Brent and I are so lucky to have been blessed with a healthy baby. He is a great eater, sleeps very well at night, and has only a short fussy period in the evening before bed time. We are loving being parents!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our Nursery

Suffice it to say, we had a lot of fun getting the nursery ready. We painted the walls gray and picked the animal theme early on, knowing it would be a great gender-neutral choice. It was a work in progress for the summer. We ordered furniture very slowly and assembled it as we got it - every month, it was exciting to have something new to look forward to. After our baby shower, we were able to add the final touches, and it's been ready to go since! I admit, I spend a lot of time in there these days, just sitting in my glider, Jasper always by my side, imagining what it will be like with my baby boy there.

I'm officially on maternity leave now, just counting down the days until labor begins. I've been doing a lot of relaxing and binge TV watching (Reign is my new guilty pleasure!), along with preparing freezer meals, cleaning, and spending time with Brent and Jasper before our newest family member arrives and much of my time gets devoted to him. Every day now, I get contractions, but nothing ever comes of them. They last about an hour or two then dissipate. It's actually pretty frustrating at this point - I feel like I'm going to be the girl who cried wolf when labor does finally begin! In the meantime, I'll make the most of the quiet time.

Crib: Amazon
Crib Mattress: Amazon
Dresser: Amazon
Changing Table: Babies R Us
Crib Mobile: Target
Crib Bedding: Target (sheets) & (comforter set)
Glider: Amazon
Nightstand: Target
Wall Decal: Etsy
Wall Shelf: Target
Laundry Basket: TJ Maxx
Diaper Basket: TJ Maxx
Stuffed Owl: Pier 1

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

38 Weeks

How far along? 38 weeks
Total weight gain/loss? Loss...really? Yeah right! I'm up 30 lbs as of last week's doctor appointment.
Maternity clothes? Even maternity clothes are snug these days. I'd be fine with wearing a potato sack for the next two weeks and never leave my house. I'm down to one pair of jeans that still fit comfortably, and other than that, I live in maxi dresses, lounge pants, and leggings.
Stretch marks? None! Coconut oil, I'm telling works wonders.
Sleep? I've always been a really great sleeper, but lately, not so much. Between the middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks, pregnancy insomnia at 2 AM, and being confined to sleeping on my side, sleep has become a bit of a task. I'm counting down the days until I can sleep on my stomach again!
Best moment this week? When Brent arrived home from his work trip to England and Baby Mo was still safely inside me. Last week was a bit stressful on that front!
Miss anything? RUNNING, sleeping on my stomach, cold cuts, pumpkin beers, being able to get off the couch without grunting...
Baby movement? All the time. He's a little wiggle monster! As he gets bigger and space becomes more limited, his kicks and punches have turned into slow rolling movements. He's engaged at this point, so is his head is VERY low, which presents different problems - my bladder is a pancake at this point. Even so, I will soon really miss feeling him move throughout the day.
Food cravings? I have a sweet tooth these days. I can't figure out if it's a mental thing, knowing I only have two more weeks to go so I might as well indulge while I can - or because baby boy is piling on the pounds like crazy these last few weeks and requires foods with a higher fat content.
Anything making you queasy or sick? No. I've been very lucky during pregnancy and never really had issues with food aversions.
Labor signs? YES. Every day. At my appointment last week, doc said baby is engaged, I am very effaced, and he could come any day at this point. I have frequent false contractions throughout the day and other TMI signs I won't bother mentioning. We've had a handful of "could this be it??" moments over the past week. It's all a waiting game from here!
Belly button in or out? In. Also, not sure what I was ever thinking getting my belly button pierced 12 years ago - even though it's been out for awhile now, the hole left behind is quite ugly while pregnant!
Wedding rings on or off? On. I haven't had any swelling or fluid retention at all thankfully.
Happy or moody most of the time? I've remained pretty happy throughout the 9 months. I was blessed with a very comfortable, healthy pregnancy so far - what's not to be happy about? Though, I admit, I am very ready to cross the finish line at this point. The days are not getting any easier, especially while still working 40 hours a week.
Looking forward to? My doc appointment this week to see if I've progressed since the last visit. This is my last week at work for awhile, and I'm very much looking forward to my maternity leave. I'm excited to meet our son very shortly! I can't wait to experience nursing for the first time. I'm excited to introduce him to his amazing family. I'm looking forward to the first time Jasper meets the baby. Oh man, the list goes on.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hospital Bag

The Morse household is very busy these days finishing up the final prep for Baby Mo's big arrival. With only two weeks to go until the due date, our most recent chore was to put together our hospital bags. As a first time mom, I was kind of clueless when it came to figuring out what to bring - and chances are I way over-packed - but here is what I narrowed it down to:

For Baby:

- Swaddle wrap (aden + anais)
- Receiving blanket
- Fleece SwaddleMe
- Pajamas
- Short-sleeved onesie
- Socks
- Hat
...These were all packed in my super cute JJ Cole diaper bag - this thing is amazing!

For Mom:

Toiletries: (my awesome neighbor gave me a gift bag at my shower full of all sample-sized necessities to take to the hospital) 
- Hand + face lotion
- Hand wipes
- Face mask
- Blistex lip gloss
- Shower gel
- Razor
- Hemorrhoid cream
- Garnier eye roller
- Heel cream
- Nursing pads
- Lanolin cream 
- Tooth brush + tooth paste + floss

- Slippers
- Nightgown (this one from Target, sized up)
- Robe (similar)
- Nursing bras
- Old Navy t-shirt
- Gap Body modal cardigan (bought years ago at the Outlets!)
- Fleece socks

In between packing, we have been taking advantage of the beautiful New England fall weather. Jasper can't get enough of all the leaves!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Our Baby Shower

Yesterday's Workout:
2 mile walk 

I know I'm a little delayed on this post, but better late than never! Last month, we hosted our baby shower at our home in the back yard. I wanted to keep it low key, laid back, and comfortable. The theme was rustic and revolved around DIY projects I found while surfing Pinterest late at night. My mom and I began planning early and had pretty much everything done by the time summer even began. We gambled with the weather that day. We opted to go sans party tent, figuring if it ended up raining, we could move it inside. Luck was on our side because the weather could not have been more perfect. It was a beautiful New England summer day.

We had the most amazing day among our family and friends. There were a few moments through the shower where I had to step aside and regroup myself - it was a surreal day for me and one I will never forget. Brent and I are very aware how lucky we are to have such wonderful people in our lives, but to see the love and support given to our baby left me speechless. It truly does take a village. I held it together, but as soon as I started unpacking the gifts later that week, there were tears. So many happy tears. Hey, no one ever said pregnant women are the most emotionally stable creatures.

Anywho, enough with the hormonal pregnant lady!

Decoration, mason jars, and burlap - oh my!
Jasper wanted nothing more than to rip through all the bags and find the stuffed animals.
Baby Mo is fully equipped for football season!
Can't wait to bundle our little munchkin in this shark robe ahhh!
The stuffed animal slayer watching very patiently.

Friends for almost 20 years now! Dom and Baby Mo are going to be little buds!

Baby Mo's NY Grandma! 
Brent and Ang
Baby Mo's Auntie Ally, love this girl and couldn't have done the shower without her!
Mom and Dad-to-be 
Yes, we absolutely had an ice cream sundae bar. Along with a cookie bar. And cupcakes. And cannolis. And whoopie pies.  
Mom and I - this lady is seriously going to be the best grandma in the world

Friday, September 26, 2014

An Honest Post

Yesterday's Workout:
40 min prenatal Barre3 online workout

As I approach the end of my pregnancy - aka the nine month hiatus of grueling workouts and weight maintenance - I am faced with anticipating the next step: post-pregnancy. While overall exciting, it stresses me out. With that next stage comes these somewhat novel expectations for new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy selves within months, even weeks. The first reaction from people when I tell them I plan to nurse is "that's great - you'll lose all your pregnancy weight in no time that way!" I smile and know deep down, it's reassuring to hear, but I find myself fighting back tears anyway. I hate feeling pressured to look a certain way by some arbitrary deadline; to be ashamed of the change my body has undergone since January.

The truth is I love my pregnant body. Ever since day one of peeing on the stick, I have felt amazing. Creating life has given me the confidence I wish I had my first 28 years of life. I'm 5'1" and weigh 150 lbs right now, yet somehow, I feel better about myself than I did when I was 120 lbs last year at this time and wearing size 2 jeans: the jeans that have been sitting collecting dust in the back of my closet for the past 6 months now. Every morning, I take a long look at my giant belly in the mirror and relish it. While I don't have stretch marks, my torso now resembles a map of tiny blue roads, courtesy of my skin being stretched to reveal the network of vessels responsible for keeping my baby oxygenated for the past 8 months. I know that after next month, everything will slowly return to normal, beginning with my body, and I almost mourn that thought. My growing belly is a constant reminder of how incredible the female body is to be able to do what it does. For the last 8 months, my body has constantly been working on growing this life inside of me; every minute of every day, every sip of water, every bite of food, every breath, it has all gone towards creating and sustaining this baby boy. How can I not be proud of that? It's been the greatest accomplishment in my life so far.

The changes that pregnancy has brought to me go beyond my body though. From the second I took that test, my entire mentality shifted. Any last bit of selfishness I had in me was cast aside immediately. Every decision I made became about this little person I had never even met. I no longer associated myself as a wife, daughter, sister, or friend. I was now a mother, and this became my identity. I learned immediately there were no lengths I would not go to in order to protect the pea-sized mass of cells I had growing inside me. I knew I was lucky to be gifted the experience of pregnancy, and making sure this baby has everything he needs to survive has been my entire purpose for the past 8 months.

Perhaps that is the hardest part of letting go of pregnancy? Knowing that once he is out in the world, my body is no longer his safe house. There will be no barrier to protect him. Many things will be left out of my control. That is the scariest thought in the world to me right now. So again, I have to remind myself to take a step back and live in the moment. I will never get another opportunity to be a first time expecting mother. It's difficult to let go of that.

So while I gear up for the infinite number of changes that I'll be experiencing over the next month, I'm making a promise to myself to cherish every small moment until his birth. I will continue to look into the mirror every morning, place my hands over my belly and whisper hello to my son. I will continue to go home after work every day, close the door to my room, and sit in silence for 10 minutes on the floor as I practice breathing and connecting with my baby. This has become my favorite part of the day. I will keep giggling when I feel his hiccups low in my belly, and I will continue fighting back frustration when I feel his feet kick hard into my ribs. While it may be uncomfortable at times, I love every ounce of movement I feel knowing he is alive and well. I will take every step with a smile because I know he is always safe as long as I am carrying him inside of me.

It's been an honor, little guy. Mom and Dad can't wait to meet you soon!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Yesterday's Workout:
20 minute walk with Jasper
Bicep/Tricep circuit
Yoga for sciatica

I attempted a short walk yesterday with Jasper - the weather was too good to resist. We made it about a mile before I felt the sciatic pain kick in, so we headed on home where I continued my workout with some weights and yoga. I can't begin to tell you how great it felt to be outside and active again, even if just for a short period of time.

I also began to revisit my Barre3 online workouts the other day. I've explored a few of the prenatal workouts, and even in the 2 weeks I've gone without running, I feel like I've managed to fall out of shape already! I said this to Brent, who couldn't resist an eye roll and sarcastically commenting on how he's sure it has nothing to do with the fact I'm 8 months pregnant and still under the impression I can workout 6 days a week without feeling fatigued. Perhaps he has a point? Either way, I'm really glad I have these Barre3 workouts to turn to now as a nice low impact option to keep my body in check and prepare for labor.

I have to admit, I was very uninspired in the kitchen during the summer months. Most of our meals involved grilled meat of sorts with a salad. I was far too lazy to prepare fun side dishes, and I ended up becoming very bored by food in general. Minus dessert. I seemed to have no problem getting excited over a scoop of ice cream. I don't know what it is about the fall season, but it makes me want to be in the kitchen. All. The. Time. Cooking, baking, you name it.

We tried this ridiculously simple chicken stir-fry dinner the other night, followed exactly as is (recipe here), and I can't wait to try it again using other mix-ins (celery, carrots, peppers, cashews, water chestnuts).

I'm going to start preparing freezer meals for my maternity leave in the upcoming weeks, so I'll make sure to share those as well!