Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Lila is 21 days old or 3 weeks old today and doing great. She is a very sweet baby and is pretty easy to soothe. Here at the Tullous household we are all adjusting to life as a family of four and slowly settling into a rhythm. Things are mostly good with an occasional rough day thrown in the mix. I have, of course, hit the wall of tired but am surviving. The good news is that Lila is starting to sleep for longer stretches between feedings at night and that helps. Liam is doing pretty well with things for the most part, and we all seem to be recovering from our rough start and stint in the hospital. He does have his days where he seems to want and need more of my time and attention, and I do my best to be available and present with him. Liam loves his little sister and wants to touch her, kiss her and hug her constantly. In fact, we have to remind Liam to give her a little space especially when Lila is tired and trying to go to sleep. It's a learning process for us all. I am hoping it gets easier as each day passes.
Over the last week or so I have been thinking a lot about my recent birth experience as well as my first birth experience. I guess I am just trying to come to term with things. I catch myself wondering why I couldn't or didn't have an easy, natural birth either time despite all my preparation and efforts to do so. Why couldn't I have the ideal labor and birth of 4 hours and be home the same or next day with my babies? When Jason and I were talking about this, he kindly pointed out that I could ask that question all day long and for the rest of my life for that matter and still not know the answer. So I have been asking that question and going over things in my mind and think that I have been doing so because my perspective on my own birth experiences has changed.
Neither of my birth experiences went the way I thought they would but they both have a "happy ending" as one friend said it so well. When I look back at Liam's birth, I see how being in the hospital instead of at home for his birth was positive. In fact, I have had many a nurse and doctor tell me we were fortunate that Liam's coarc, a narrowing of the aorta, was discovered shortly after he was born as he would have gotten very sick and his outcome and recovery may not have been as good or quick. In the end, we were in the right place at the right time for Liam.
As I go over Lila's birth, it is much the same in that we were in the right place at the right time as the unexpected and unforeseen happened again. I was so close to having that birth I had hoped for and then in an instant it changed. I never even considered the idea that my uterus could or would rupture even though I knew that was a very small possibility. Even as I take that in, I realize it all happened as it was meant to. Lila was born on her special, chosen day and I feel strongly about that given that she was born on the 8th of June at 8 in the morning, weighed 8 lbs. 8 oz. and was 18.5 inches long. All those 8's can only mean she was meant to come as she did. And again, I chose to have her in the only hospital in Southern Arizona that does the cooling pad therapy. This is no coincidence. All these things add up to a multitude of blessings for her, for us.
Of course, I can choose to see both experiences in any way I like as it is all a matter of perspective. That being said, I choose to see the blessings in both instances not because I am desperate for them but because they just seem so obvious. I cannot ignore the fact that both Liam and Lila are healthy, happy and strong despite their difficult entry into the world. I am beyond grateful for both my children even on the days when I feel completely overwhelmed by life and all the challenges motherhood brings.
So I guess where I am at with all this questioning of why things went the way they went is that it was meant to go the way it did. I still believe in natural childbirth and think that those that have that experience are so fortunate to have things go as they hope or want. For the rest of us that have things take an unexpected twist or turn, all you can do is your best because birth is a very unique and surprising experience. It is the adventure of a lifetime.
Ultimately, what I have come to understand is that there is no right or better way to bring your baby into the world. The more I think about it, the more I realize that most mothers want the same thing, we all want a healthy, happy baby. Most mothers want to bring their babies into the world with love and make that entry as peaceful as possible. Of course, how we go about making that happen is a very personal decision. The questions we ask are: home birth or hospital birth, natural or epidural, doula or no doula, midwife or doctor... and the list goes on.
I guess it comes down to that pivotal teaching of responding to each moment as it arises versus reacting to it. Because I can tell you from experience that you can prepare and do everything right and unexpected shit will still happen. What I have learned, though, is that it's how you deal with and respond to such circumstances that makes all the difference. So... be aware, choose wisely and respond well.
In it and making the most of it,
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I am sitting in the NICU at UMC here in Tucson trying to make sense of the last few days, but I don't think that that is going to happen. All I can say is that it's been an epic week.
On June 8, 2011, 30 hours after labor began, Lila June Tullous was born at 8:33 a.m. weighing in at 8 lbs. 8 oz. and 18.5 inches long. I would say that my labor experience was really good up until the end when things changed suddenly and abruptly. Even though the labor was long, things were going well and pretty much the way Jason and I had hoped things would go with laboring at home for a long time and having the most supportive people around us.
I was in the pushing phase of labor when my uterus ruptured, when my uterus tore along my previous c-section scar line and then tore down to the right in a j shape. With my uterus torn in two places and with the stress of labor, the placenta then detached from the uterine wall. Fortunately, my doctor and the staff acted quickly recognizing something was very wrong and an emergency c-section was done. When they opened me up, they found Lila floating in my abdomen outside my uterus. She was not breathing when they pulled her out. She had no oxygen because the placenta detached. Lila had to be resuscitated. As she began breathing, they took her to the NICU to continue her healing process. Meanwhile, the doctors worked on me trying to assess the damage. Luckily, as my doctor put it, I hardly bled and that was a total surprise to them. My doctor said I have amazing healing powers as they found no major scarring or damage to any organs and I did not need a blood transfusion. The surgeon stitched up my uterus and abdomen and sent me off to the recovery room. All I remember when I woke up is feeling confused by what had just happened.
I still can't believe everything that's gone on over the last 7 days. Lila is doing great and has made major progress everyday. So far, she seems to be fine with no real damage to her brain or nervous system. The first few days were the hardest with having to wait to hold her while she lay on the cooling pad. The cooling pad therapy used here at UMC lowers the body temperature to keep circulation slow in order to keep swelling down in the brain. Lila was pretty miserable and cold for the first few days, and all we could do was place a hand on her head and chest but could not pick her up. Since she was taken off the cooling pad and we got the go ahead to hold her, things have really improved. I was given the okay to begin nursing her and she took to that with the first latch. All the nursing and skin to skin contact has made all the difference for her and for me. Everyday is better than the last. Everyday, we get to see and know more of who Lila is, and she is something wonderful.
The truth be told, though, I am tired of being in the hospital away from home, Jason and Liam and am ready to take my sweet Lila home. That being said, I know we will be home soon. We just have to hang in there a few more days. Today has been an emotional day for me with feeling the tired and dealing with my fluctuating hormones. I still can't get over the fact that my second birth has been so traumatic. What are the chances of having two difficult births with both babies ending up in the NICU somehow??? Apparently for us the chances are pretty high. I don't think it's a coincidence but am not sure what to call it. No matter what you call it, I feel incredibly grateful and fortunate to have both my babies make it through to this side. I hate that both Lila and Liam's entry into the world has been so hard but am so amazed by their strength and resilience.
I will say that in a lot of ways this go around with NICU and a birth that was a total surprise has been easier. Jason and I have dealt with everything quite well and think that has a lot to do with the fact that we've been through this before. Physically, this go around has been harder to recover from, but emotionally, I have been way more steady and centered. I know it sounds crazy to say but I do feel that this experience has helped me to heal and understand my first experience in many ways. After Liam was born, I very much felt like I failed to protect him, and I felt disempowered by the whole experience. This time, I realize I did everything I could and did everything right and it still ended up the way it ended up. In fact just knowing that less than 1% of uterine ruptures occur during a VBAC, vaginal birth after cesarean, tells me there was nothing I could have done to prevent this. By all accounts I am healthy and was so throughout my entire pregnancy. I think my happy, healthy pregnancy and all that time to bond with Lila in utero has helped us both to tolerate this wild ride. She is a strong, sweet, beautiful baby.
Most of the tears I have cried have been out of deep gratitude for Lila and myself being alive and together. I am so grateful she is here and doing well. I am so thankful to everyone who has helped take care of us here at UMC and thankful for all the love and blessings from family and friends that have sustained us while we are going through this.
Hopeful and Thankful,
Friday, June 3, 2011
I am 39 weeks and at the end of my pregnancy. It's been pretty quiet this last week. I taught my last class until August 2 last Thursday and am just staying close to home. Mostly, I've spent my time doing the last bit of preparing before this baby arrives and resting in between.
Everyday, I feel little changes in my body as it prepares for labor. I feel highs and lows in my energy as one day I feel the desire to do a lot and the next, I feel like doing nothing at all. It's strange not to be headed off to class to teach but am enjoying a little break before it gets really busy. I can't complain. I miss seeing people at the studio but they are always close at heart, and I will be back at it in no time.
I am now at that point where I feel ready to meet this little one. I have enjoyed this pregnancy and think this is just such an amazing experience. And even though I have been pregnant before and loved being pregnant with Liam, this time around is still unique and, in many ways, feels new.
At this time, I am just waiting and making sure I enjoy these last few days of ripeness, enjoying these last moments of feeling this little girl wiggle and move around on the inside, and savoring the sweetness of sharing the same space, the same body with this little one.
It's an interesting place to be, sitting on the edge of life as I know it; anticipating the changes to come. My life, the life of my family is about to shift in ways we cannot even fathom yet. The structure of our family will be different in a matter of days, and we will have much to learn in the days to come. How will we manage our time with two little ones? How will we manage our energy and keep a good attitude and a buoyant spirit when we feel heavy with the tired. We just will. Just like we did with Liam, we will figure it out as we go. Besides, parenting is a jump-in-and-swim sort of thing. It's a learn on the job affair with moments of humor and exhaustion thrown in and a whole lot of moments of wonder. Seeing life through the eyes of a new soul is a gift. Life becomes new for us too even with all there is to do.
Soon, I will be in it and living a life that is new in some ways and familiar in other ways. I am looking forward to embracing what life is bringing us and to meeting this baby girl.