Friday, September 29, 2006

Annabella is here! She came nearly 3 weeks early. She was born Friday, Sept. 22, 2006. 5 lbs 8 oz, 17.5 inches long. She is just beautiful! And teeny tiny!

The last time I posted on here was one day before she was born. She was still in my tummy. I went into early labor at 1:30 a.m. Friday. She was born at 8:16 p.m. that night. It was around 2:30 p.m. when things really started happening. I had an OB appointment scheduled at 11:15 a.m. that day, and we kept that. I was dilated 1 cm at the time. I didn't know if I was in for a LONG weekend or what. We went to Arthur's Garden Deli for lunch. Got lots of stares when contractions hit. Then we went to Target to get the other car seat for my parents (we wanted to get another base only, but they didn't carry our brand--so for $10 more, we got a base and seat). Contractions started getting more major. The nice lady at the Starbucks counter gave us water. When we started walking around again, we headed to the Bootique--the Halloween section and my favorite. I was not enjoying it much, though. We ran into our friend Tracey T. there. I remember talking to her but not about exactly what.

The OB had said to call in once my contractions were under 5 minutes apart for more than an hour. They certainly were at Target. She said to head over to the hospital. See, it works out that my OB, general practitioner, the hospital and Target are all in the same area. The OB is right across from the hospital, and Target is in the strip mall to the left of the OB. How handy! We wanted to stay close.

When they checked me at the hospital, I was dilated to 4 cm. They admitted me. It was at this point I told them I wanted drugs. Actually, by the time we were at Target, I was convinced I wanted them. All my plans of having a totally natural birth went out the window, and I was more than willing to push them out.

By 6:30 p.m. I had had my "take the edge off" drugs (one dose at about 4:30 p.m.). When they tell you it takes the pain away but you still feel the contractions, they mean it takes a little pain away, you feel the contractions and every other one kicks your ass. Ouch! At 6:30 to 6:45 p.m., the doctor on call for me (Dr. Pagadala) broke my water. Whooosh! Right as she was saying, "Now that your water has released, the contractions are going to have more bite to them," I felt like a shark had a hold of me. "Oh, my god! You weren't kidding!" Or something along those lines. Soon after, the nurse had me get on the birthing ball. I was to rock back and forth sideways, which would help get baby into position. It sounds easier than it is. For those who haven't gone through the birth experience, imagine trying to sit or rest comfortably with someone's head coming down your birth canal. It's not comfy to say the least. Bill, my husband, was sitting behind me putting pressure on my low back, which helped me a lot. He was trying to get me to rock and at one point I said in a near-Exorcist voice, "I DON'T WANT TO." And he said okay and backed off for a few minutes. Aside from little things like that, I never blamed him for my pain or anything. I was in the zone women talk about.

Here's the deal about the zone. It almost feels like an out-of-body experience, but the thing is that you aren't out of your body--you're deep inside it. It's like you're there experiencing the pain and near delusional, and the rest of you is focusing on your body and your body only. That's the primal part. You don't care what bodily functions happen as you're pushing, that you're pouring with sweat, that your body is moving in weird ways (my one hand was reaching out and waving around most of the time, like I was trying to conduct the pain away).

After being on the birthing ball for a little while, I told my mom or whomever was listening (by the way, my husband, mother and father were with me the whole time) that I was pushing. "I don't know if I should but I am." So Mom got the nurse who said to stop. She got me on the bed again to check my dilation, and she said, "Oh! Yes, it is time for you to push! I'll get the doctor." So I had progressed fast once the waters broke and the ball rocked the baby into place. Since early on, I had effaced nicely, so it was all a matter of the cervix opening up. That water was holding me and baby back. We were ready.

Birth was not what I expected. It didn't matter how many books I read, websites I looked up or subscribed to or people I talked to. It really did not prepare me. Of course, she did come early. Still. I thought you would push push push until the baby came out. I had read/heard that you get to rest between contractions (because that's when you push), but it didn't register with me at the time. I kept feeling like if I didn't keep bearing down, she might slide back in, and I'd have to start over again! So I wanted to clench to hold her in place.

Then Bill and my mom started saying they could see her head. Dad was at my head placing cool wash cloths on my forehead (and in my eyes!). He also held my head down to push my chin to my chest, which I just couldn't do. Mom and Bill held my legs for me. I gripped onto the handle bars on either side of me to bear down like nothing else. I could hardly move them a couple of days later. But when they kept talking about her head, I was sure it would be over soon. To them it was, to me the pushing session were never-ending. Then once her head came out, I thought she'd come on through ... and the doctor said, "One more push." Aaahhhhh! But I did it. Just when I didn't think I could do anymore. And I'd been thinking that since mid major pushing.

At 8:16 p.m., the most beautiful baby I have ever seen was born. She is incredible. She is worth all the pain and more.

I didn't even have an epidural, which earlier that day I was thinking would be a very nice option. So aside from one dose of pain meds, we had a natural birth. It was an amazing experience, and I am so blessed to have shared it with the support team of my husband, mother and father. Before hand I thought it might be weird to have my dad there, that he would be uncomfortable and maybe I would. But no. It was more than natural to have them there. It has bonded us all so much closer together, and we were close to begin with. As my husband said, "I can't imagine it any other way.

That's Annabella Clementine Powers-Douglas' birth story. Today she is one week old. We had some feeding/weight loss issues earlier this week, but we've figured it all out with the help of visiting nurse Salli and Kathy the lactation consultant. And the Medela breast pump. I've been dealing with some chills, fever and earache. Funny, I don't remember my ears' involvement in the birth process.

I'm just now getting *a little* caught up on e-mail stuff. It's not been my priority, really. :-) But other people have sent me payments for items and magazines, so I've got to take care of it sometime soon.

Here are some pictures of our angel.

In love with my little girl,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How Madonna Ruined My Night

I'm telling you, that Madonna can ruin a perfectly good evening. I had a dream last night where I was hanging out with a bunch of people, friends and such, and Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and their baby stop by. In the dream, Tom and I are old pals. And as I give him a hug hello and coo over the baby, I'm thinking, "You know, I've known Tom a long time. So he's gotten a little kooky acting. He's still my friend." And we go on to have a lovely evening reminiscing and catching up.

Then the whole group of us decide to go out for dinner. It's Thanksgiving and dark out and rainy. We decide to go to Shogun, this sushi/hibatchi grill that's not to far away. Only in the dream it's a totally different place. It's supposed to be open, but it looks closed. Fortunately, we're in good with the owners and they insist we come in--all 20 or so of us. So we all start piling out of our cars, and who pulls up in some crappy old green beater of a car but Madonna (and, I think, Lindsay Lohann). She not only is uninvited but also pulls right up to the door and PARKS her car in front of it sideways! And I'm thinking, "What a cow!" Then I'm all, "Madonna, what are you doing? You can't park there. It's raining, some of us are pregnant and it's totaly illegal!" She just gives me this "I don't care, you peon" look and walks inside. And then I'm all, "Who invited Madonna anyway?" No one fesses up.

Aside from the cow, it's a lovely time. Great food. I remember picturing lots of red and black lacquer in the decor. The real Shogun is all blond wood and white. Totally different.

And now for something completely different ...

Baby update:

We are officially 20 days until d-day. Less than three weeks, friends! Holy cow! (and I don't mean Madonna) She's dropped a little but not a lot yet. Bill and I are still getting the house ready. The nursery is still crazy with stuff. After three showers, it's a bit full. I'm not complaining, though! We have just about everything we need or want for the upcoming arrival. I'm currently on the prowl for nursing undergarments and shirts that a) fit and b) don't cost an arm and leg. Apparently the nursing garment industry thinks that the only women who get pregnant are between a size 6 and 10. If you're a curvy gal like me or little and tiny, you're screwed.

One thing I didn't realize until I was a million months pregnant was that because all your internal organs get pushed up, it expands your ribs. I'm broad-chested anyway, and now my bra extenders need bra extenders. It is so lame. And if I'm lucky enough to find a bra that fits around my ever-expanding chest, it is assumed that my cup size is equally enormous. Not the case. Well, not yet anyway. If I could fill in a DDDD size cup, I doubt I could walk upright.

I went shopping at a place called Vintage Baby yesterday. It's a consignment store. There is one close to my work and one close to my home. I found a nursing top, which is in my size and I hope fits. It's really hard to tell if something will fit you post-baby when you have said baby still bulging in your belly. So for $6.99, I thought what the heck. I can always consign it back. They carry baby and kids clothes and stuff as well as maternity and every once in a while nursing clothes. Of course I also saw the cutest Christmas dress in red velvetine that should fit the baby for the holidays. I couldn't resist. I'm telling you, baby clothes are made by evil people passing as innocents. They make all these adorable outfits that a baby will maybe be able to wear two times then grow out of. And most are generally not that pricey (some are, though), so you think it's fine. But it's not. And suddenly you have a closet FILLED with tiny adorable outfits! They multiply like rabbits on speed! And if you're a first-time parent, you get twice as suckered in. And you don't know exactly what sizes to buy. Buy them big, but how big? I'm telling you, it's a huge plot. And my husband and I keep falling for it. Bill bought the baby two Halloween caps (little ghosties), a pair of boo socks and a boo onesie in less than an hour at two different stores. That's on top of the Halloween cap I bought the day before that looks like a witch hat. Weeks before, we couldn't resist a "Baby's first boo" onesie and "I love my mummy" bib. And during shower number two we got another Halloween onesie and bib from a friend who knows how much I love Halloween. It's a coup.

In cemetery-related news:

Epitaphs Magazine is plugging along. I'm editing right now and starting layout stuff. The plan is to get it to designer Kristie within a week.

One thing I need to do is pack my camera along with me wherever I go. I keep seeing cool cemeteries I haven't been to but have no camera to capture the moments. What kind of taphophile am I anyway?

In other news:

I'm getting back into the jewelry-making swing. Actually I'm currently focusing on making beaded bookmarks (or book thongs like you see in mall bookstores). If you are in the market, And the Bead Goes On (my friend Tracey's super-cool business), sells them for $3 each (instead of $6.95 everywhere else!!!). Great for Christmas and birthdays! I can hook you up! I can also hook you up with beautiful and affordable jewelry if you are in the market. You can see examples of what we make in issue #3 of Epitaphs Magazine (ad is on the inside back cover).

I'm shamelessly promoting this stuff because a) it's great stuff and b) because it's how I'm earning baby savings. I'm doing what I can to save up money for when my paid maternity leave ends. I'd really like to be able to be off through most of December (if the baby is born on time or late). If she's early, I want to be able to have at least a week's salary to get me paid through the Thanksgiving break without having to come back. It's all up to baby when I get off. That's the great unknown, not knowing exactly how to plan for this. I'm working all the way up until I have her.

Well, that's the scoop. My mom is coming over to talk baby stuff and go over the house with me to see what we can get done. I still have baby brain. Words fail me when I'm talking sometimes. At least when I'm typing things move a little smoother. For a few weeks there, it was a wonder that I was able to string two sentences together. I don't know how I did the work projects I did. Perhaps I was on marketing auto pilot.

Have a great weekend, everybody! Fall is here! At least in the western Illinois region, and I'm loving it. It's my fave time of year. Love it!