Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Paxton's Birth Story

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It's been ten days since Paxton was born--TEN DAYS!--so I figure it's time to sit down and write this all out before I forget it. I like to remember the details and I over-share my life, so of course I must blog it. You can read Eisley's birth story here, and Violet's birth story and video {not graphic} here.

Today is the time to record Paxton's birth story, though there isn't as much to it...

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Since it was a scheduled c-section, we checked into the hospital very early, at 5:30 a.m., so I could be prepped for surgery. This time was a scheduled c-section because after two previous pregnancies, with combined labor time of 52 hours, I've never had a baby drop or descend, not even a little bit. Apparently for some reason my babies can't make it into the birth canal and I never dilate {and I went overdue by 2 weeks and had 34 hours of hard labor with Violet, so this is no small thing}. Who knows exactly why this happens to me, though I suspect it might be because when I was a teenager I was bucked off a bratty horse and broke my tailbone so badly that, upon seeing the x-ray, the doctor told me it could give me trouble and break again during childbirth someday. So, that's my theory...but who knows for sure?

This time around, having a scheduled c-section was a source of anxiety for me. Instead of facing the unknowns of childbirth that I had with the last two babies, this time I knew, for months in advance, the exact moment I'd be cut into. Knowing exactly how it was going to go down, as well as having all the time in the world to plan for this birth, it all actually made my anxiety a lot more intense--I was over thinking it. At times I was convinced I was going to die. Thanks be to God, I did not.
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All was well when I checked into the hospital on the morning of July 12th, I was assigned a wonderful nurse who kept my mind off the surgery with funny jokes and personal stories. She was so great. She even prayed with us when my vicar came by to visit before the surgery. The only thing that was off was my blood pressure.

Now, I've never had blood pressure issues during pregnancy before, never even pre-eclampsia, and just a couple of days earlier my OB appointment had been fine with a BP of 120s/70s. The morning of the c-section, however, my BP had surpassed the pre-eclampsia stage and was right up there in the hypertension stage,  a whopping 164/109 at one point. So the anaesthesiologist and my OB decided it was due to my anxiety, but the best way to treat high BP in pregnancy is to deliver the baby and that's what we were about to do!

When my wonderful nurse asked me if I had any concerns before going into the operating room, the one thing I told her was how I hated the hour that I had to spend in recovery while my baby was away in the nursery. I asked her if it was possible to expedite the process of getting Paxton back to me. With Eisley and Violet I went a good 45-60 minutes without them after surgery and I hated it. It is also important to me to try and breastfeed as soon as possible since I have an uphill battle there already, for certain reasons.

The nurse told me to tell the nurses in the recovery room and nursery that I wanted to be able to see my baby ASAP, that most of the nurses are super family-friendly and can make sure the baby is brought to me quickly if I make it clear how important it is. She said, of course you can get that "one nurse" who's a stinker about it, but that I should speak up about my wishes because most of the nurses are really flexible. That made me feel a lot better, and I coached Justin--who always goes with baby to the nursery--to pester the baby nurses to get that baby back to me in recovery with great haste.
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Around 7:30 a.m., I walked myself into the same OR that Eisley & Violet were born in. I sat on the table that feels about 6 inches wide, and the anaesthesiologist started working on my spinal block. This time was a little harder to get the spinal placed compared to my previous surgeries. It took a while, but soon enough my legs went dead and I'm just thankful the anaesthesiologist was able to get it done and I was completely numb through out the surgery.

At some point I noticed the silly anaesthesiologist had strapped my arms down, which sort of ticked me off, they'd never done that before, though I've heard of them doing it at other hospitals and I've always thought it sounded a little barbaric. One nice thing about being "experienced" is that I wasn't feeling as vulnerable as the first time, so I came right out and said, "Can you please take those off? I've never had my arms strapped down before." So he did, he just made me promise that if I had an itch or something I'd let him know instead of scratching it myself. I guess they don't want you interfering with the "surgical zone"...? Still, straps are not necessary. Please...

My blood pressure was still sky high when Justin finally joined me in the OR, and I was all ready to be cut into again {had I known, I would have had them install a zipper when Eisley was born}. I was so much more nervous this time than my past two c-sections, and Justin says he was too for some reason. I was squeezing his hand SO hard.
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This c-section seemed a little more rough and violent than the past two--maybe due to all the scar tissue? A c-section is no gentle birth, folks, it's a major sugery and involves a LOT of movement. It took longer to get to the baby, and there sure was a lot of jerking around, pushing, tugging, prodding. It's like having dental work done, it doesn't hurt but you can feel things going on. The moment they pulled him out, I literally felt relief as things shifted inside with all that space being given up again.

Paxton was born at 8:07 a.m.. They let you know when they're almost to baby, this time they had to use the vacuum {just like with Eisley} because he was so high up there. We have a video of the moment he was born, but I won't be posting it because it's actually sort of graphic compared to Violet's birth video. Also, right after he was born you can hear the anaesthesiologist tell Justin that he can't record--which annoyed us both because I actually had gotten approval from my OB prior to the birth, but I'd forgotten to coach Justin {that's my thing, to prepare myself and others with all possible scenarios and what to say and what-ifs} since I'd ALREADY GOTTEN APPROVAL. But, we did get the moment he was born on video, as well as right after when he was being cleaned up on the warming table. In between is just sound and a visual of blue scrubs.
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Paxton moments after birth
He cried right away, they brought him over for me to see before taking him to the warming table--and this time the nurse working on the baby made sure I had a good view the entire time. That was wonderfully thoughtful. She even told Justin to move out of my way so I could see Paxton, and honestly, that's how it should be. I'm a big believer that c-section moms should be afforded as many liberties {as safely possible} that regularly birthing moms are given. My first thoughts were overwhelming, first that I loved him! Second, I was struck with how much he looked like my father. I had no predictions or premonitions on what he'd look like, but I immediately saw so much of my father in him, and I still do.
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Holding my son for the first time

He cried quite a bit, up until the moment they had him all bundled up and wiped down and they handed him to me to hold, then he calmed right down and didn't make a peep. I held him and marvelled, and we had a wonderful few minutes...

Until I felt like I was going to vomit. I got really nauseous all of a sudden, and I said, "I'm nauseous...Justin, take the baby!" And the anaesthesiologist said, "Yep, I thought you were about to say that." Because apparently he'd been watching my blood pressure fall and now it was very low. It had started out in the hypertension stage 2 area and now was all the way down, so low that I was feeling faint and sick. I hated to pass up the baby, but I also didn't want his first moments of life to include his mother either vomiting on him or dropping him on the floor in a dead faint.

Anaesthesiologist are well trained and have a locker full of drugs at the ready, so he was able to help me feel better within minutes. Justin and Paxton were ready to head off to the nursery to be weighed and such, I talked to the nurse first {she was so sweet} and asked her to hurry up with the baby and she promised me they would. Now it was just a matter of letting my OB sew me back up. I'm blessed to have had 3 c-sections now go off without a hitch. I have scar tissue, but everything is still where it should be and functioning and this is so wonderful. Some women leave the OR without their uterus after having a c-section, it's always a concern for me that something might go wrong. I'm so glad that so many people were praying for us.
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Dad & Paxton head to the nursery
One of the worst parts of a c-section is when they're finally done, but they have to move your from a tiny operating table into a hospital bed, and that includes tipping you over on your side both ways. Just try and imagine being completely numb from the chest down and having a bunch of people tilt you off an operating table, holding you mid-air, you think you're going to fall to the floor and become a human Humpty Dumpty. They do this every day though... I haven't fallen yet!
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Paxton is weighed
I was wheeled into recovery {I've always been the only one in there} where two nurses were waiting to take care of my post-op needs and monitor my vitals. The nurses introduced me to recovery as "Adele". Just as I was about to correct them and tell them my name is actually Heather, they started commenting on how much I look like the singer Adele and I realized they were joking. I've heard that before, many people have told me I look like Adele...but it was funny that the nurses noticed with all that was going on!

Justin must have done his job of bugging the baby nurses to hurry because it wasn't even 5 minutes when the phone rang and it was the nursery asking if "Erickson mama" was ready to see her baby yet. That's when I heard my nurse say, "Give us another 15-20 minutes or so..." At which point I spoke up and said, "Actually, I want him brought to me right away. I want to be able to nurse him as soon as possible." Unfortunately, my nurse was already hanging up the phone.

"Can you call them back and tell them I'm ready please?" I asked.

"Let's just wait another 20 minutes or so..." she replied. UGH! Apparently I had gotten that "one nurse".

I told her that I'd already talked to several nurses about it and that I had been told he could be brought to me right away.

Again, she replied, "I understand...but let's wait another 15-20 minutes to make sure you're up to it."

Now here's the thing: this wasn't my first rodeo. I was not the vulnerable, do-whatever-you're-told first-time-mom any more. After ALL the trouble I'd gone through to demand Justin pester the baby nurses and talking to nurses myself, I wasn't about to let Nurse Ratched ruin this for me. {Okay, calling her Nurse Ratched might be a little harsh, she wasn't mean or rude, she just wasn't doing what I wanted her to.} It's not fair that c-section moms should have to wait an hour to see their baby when the other birthing moms are never separated from their newborns if they don't want to be. But I am assertive, and while I genuinely appreciate the work nurses do, I also have no trouble pulling out my stern voice when I feel I need to... I wanted my baby and darn it, I was going to get my baby!

I couldn't hold in my annoyance any longer. I huffed. Loudly. I said, in my best mama bear voice, "Look, can you just please call the nursery and tell them I'm ready to see my baby? I don't have to hold him yet, I just want him brought here now."

"Okay," said Nurse Ratched. She walked over to the phone, and while she was put on hold for several minutes by the nursery this time, I had at last gotten my way. Soon enough, Justin and a nurse were wheeling Baby Paxton in to see me.
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I felt a little loopy and light headed from the morphine and narcotics, but Paxton's nurse was quick to put him in my arms. I really do love the nurses. I had yet another run-in with that one, but for the most part, they are wonderful at seeing to a mom's needs. So this time around, my time in recovery without the baby was much shorter than  my previous two experiences, so I was happy.

Time flies once you have the baby here and in your arms, and he'll be turning 18 and leaving the house, like, tomorrow. Before we knew it I was in my room in the post-partum wing, cuddling my newborn and being doted on my husband and nurses. They take good care of you at our hospital.
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After a while my parents brought Eisley & Violet by to see the baby--what a wonderful moment in life! Your babies meeting your newest baby. Eisley had been waiting months for this, and she immediately fell head over heels for her baby brother. Violet was not nearly so standoffish was Eisley had been toward her when she was born, I would say Violet was interested enough for a two-year-old. She thinks he's cute and likes to kiss him and bring him his things, but she's also been unphased by his birth. They both took turns holding him, Eisley could sit and stare at his face for hours.
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Paxton meets Eisley
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Paxton meets grandma
Justin stayed with me one night in the hospital, the next night he took the girls home so they could sleep in their own beds again. It was easy being alone with Paxton because so far he's been the most mellow baby a mom could ever hope for. Even his sister's can't seem to wake him up {and Violet has tried}.
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Yay for baby brothers!
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Eisley, Papa, and Paxton
This recovery has been so easy and swift this time around. I never took any of the narcotics they offer, I dealt with the pain of recovery on Tylenol and ibuprofen alone. I remember how much I hated the Percocet and Vicodin when I had Eisley, Justin has stories to tell about the crazy things I said. I'd rather not take prescription pain killers at all. Because of this, I was able to go home from the hospital after only two nights. C-section moms often stay up to five days, but when you have two little ones already and the only thing you're getting at the hospital any more is Tylenol and free diapers, you feel the call of home, your own bed, and good old normalcy. So I asked to leave early and was allowed to go since I was recovering so well.
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Daddy's lap has reached maximum capacity
Each child has been an adjustment. The first child is, well, the first child! You drive home so slow from the hospital, you fret and you're anxious about every little thing. You hold that first baby like a priceless pieces of crystal that could shatter at any moment.
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Watching daddy do a diaper change
By the time you get to #3, you're more relaxed because you have to be. Paxton is so chill too, so that helps. He already sleeps up to 6 hours at night! He sleeps a lot during the day too. He nurses so well, he fusses occasionally but is easily calmed. He sleeps through the two-year-old's tantrums and the four-year-old's singing in the car.
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All buckled in and ready to leave
With number one you're thrown for a loop because you really had no idea what it'd be like to be a parent. With #2 you think you're a pro but you quickly realize, hey, this is a different baby. What worked with #1 doesn't work with #2 and so then you're humbled and even more thrown off. When #3 comes along, you're prepared to be humbled and so you're not as nervous or thrown off by their injection into your family. We knew Paxton's birth would rock the boat, all babies do, this much we know by now.
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Party of five! Ready to go home...
So far the trouble with #3 is that it's not just mom, dad, and baby any more. There is not just another quiet toddler in the background learning to adjust. This time we've realized it's tricky to have two little ones demanding so much when we're trying to care for Paxton. Eisley hovers and asks questions constantly. It's really endearing, honestly, that she is so in love with her brother. Though we've had to ask her to back off and give us some space at times when we're knee deep in stressful moments that come with having a newborn. She is a wonderful big sister, and this little guy is so loved. Violet isn't as much in our face, but she just keeps being Violet and won't let us off easy just because we have a new baby.
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My favorite nurse accompanied us out of the hospital.
The girls are not at all jealous toward Paxton, there is no aggression {yet}, but they have gotten competitive with each other. Like little mother-in-laws fighting with each other, one pulls the blanket up over Paxton to keep him warm, the other pulls it down to cool him off, repeat once or twice and suddenly they're arguing over how to properly place the blanket over the baby and we're breaking up a fight.
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Our back seat is full now! Time to work on that third row...? ;-)
We have a family of five now! I can hardly believe we're here already, at this stage of life. Three? Already???
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Eisley hovers around the baby...endearing!
I swear just yesterday Justin and I were going to our junior prom together, holding hands and then some in his car and talking about what we were going to do with our lives. Kids were always part of the plan. Now we have three.
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Baby Paxton is home, sleeping in his own bed.
We love you always, Mr. Paxton!
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Why we named him Paxton...

Paxton Bradford was named after my great-grandfather from my mother's side, Arthur Paxton Baker, who's mother's maiden name was Angeline Paxton. I would think she must have wanted to hold onto her maiden name since she gave it to her son. Seeing as I kept my maiden name for personal reasons, I like to think that naming my son, her great-great-great-grandson, Paxton would have thrilled her...I hope. Bradford is my father's name. Paxton was also born on my uncle Eric's birthday, and he passed away when I was seven. I love using family names. Violet is a family name, and Eisley's middle name, Kathryn, is also a family name.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Paxton à la Pyrex

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Feeling beyond thrilled, devastatingly blessed and over the moon
to be able to announce that this little guy joined our family this week.
Today I shot some birth announcement style pictures to be able to share. 
Birth story to come...for now all I've got is this:
Paxton à la Pyrex
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Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate. - Psalm 127:3-5

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I am especially so grateful to all my friends and family who prayed for my surgery and Paxton's birth, when my anxiety was high, I truly felt on the Lord's presence and all is well.

Cheers,
Heather

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Best Day{s} of Summer - Part 1: A Surrey Ride

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We've been trying to cram as much summer fun family time into these last couple weeks before Paxton is born. Yesterday we did something that has been on my bucket list for a while, although my advice to anyone else would be: should you chose to rent a surrey carriage to ride 2.6 miles, do so before you reach the 38th week of pregnancy.
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This is one of Denver's best and oldest gems: Washington Park. 161 acres, 3 lakes, a boat house,  a bath house, a whole rec center, beautifully kept gardens, and a 2.6 mile trail--all that in the heart of our beautiful city. It's the Central Park of Denver. Our outdoors-loving state goes crazy for this place, especially on the weekends when volleyball nets cover the acres and there are so many bicyclists that it looks like the Tour de France has relocated.
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I grew up minutes/blocks from this park. I attended school and was baptized across the street, and even now we live less than 10 minutes from this gorgeous place, and Justin works down the street from it. We're lucky to have this in our backyard!
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We rented a two-person surrey. They have seats for little ones too, and helmets are included with the rental. Due to the fact that Justin's legs are longer, and I had a baby bump to push against, he probably did 75% of the work, poor guy. I went home with some pretty intense Braxton Hicks, however, so I figure it evened out in the end. I had wanted to do this before Paxton was born, since I wasn't sure how we'd manage it with an infant. In hindsight, I now know he was there all along...in my belly...and I felt it. Baby Pax probably experienced a rough ride too...
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On a surrey ride around Wash Park, you have a chance to see all the beauty in this large park. Like the gardens...
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The two large lakes are so pretty, plus there's a small pond at one end. Obviously, lots of water fowl. We had to stop a few times to let geese cross. The girls loved it.
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Here is a random photo of Violet doing a face plant after she tried to harass a group of pigeons and squirrels. Karma?
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See that building between the trees? That's St. Johns Lutheran church. Yep, I was baptized and schooled through age 7 right across the street from this park. These are truly the old stomping grounds of my childhood, so it's a fun nostalgic joy to get to enjoy the park through my kid's eyes now.
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I have a lot of memories of this place. I have photos of my 1-year-old diapered butt feeding the geese. My first bee sting was at this park. One time our dog, Ben, picked up a dead goose and an animal activist saw and thought my dad was hunting with his dog in the park and they called the police or something....ANYHOO. Lots of memories here.
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When I was little, it was still a popular neighborhood to live, but the homes were all cute bungalows and cottages. These days, if you want to live in Wash Park you will spend at least half a million on your home, many of which have been scraped and rebuilt, the originals have all been renovated. The big homes right across the street from the park? You're looking at at millions. But, they sure are pretty to look at while you're riding around the park!
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Coloradans love to get outside and active, this is a fun way to do it if you have a chance. There are several rental options...
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In case you're in the area and would like to rent a surrey, bike, or boat, here are the prices:
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The pedal boats look fun! I want to come back and try that out, sans kids. Looks a little more relaxing than a 2.6 mile trek around the park.
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Still, we had a great time and a lovely day.

Cheers,
Heather
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