Hello again!

Dear friends,

I apologize for my long haitus. I have missed posting on the blog. I am committing myself to catching up and resuming my posts 🙂  Here are a few recent gems before I launch into the past:

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The bassinet on the plane was a blessing!

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We chained our stroller to a bike rack before we got in a taxi to go get lunch 🙂

3 weeks in

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So… for some reason my photos are loading sideways. I swear I rotated them before I saved them… but I’m having loader issues so just turn your head the appropriate direction 🙂

Life is good in China. Our new fabulous neighbors the Willford’s are proving to be a party below us. They have 3 darling girls (photo at Daylight Donuts included) and their cute little 3 month old son. It’s nice to have a friend who is an experienced mom close by. We walked over to get a donut this morning and I indulged in some sub-par hot chocolate. It’s very cold and windy here!

Rod invited one of his students from last year over. His chosen English name is Brett (much better than some gems Rod has had: Mango, Matrix, Smiles, Circle) and Rod really likes him. He says “Brett gets it.” His English is good and it was nice to have him come for dinner. He brought us over a bottle of Australian Merlot to be polite – and we felt bad to have to tell him we don’t drink 🙂 hahaha

My fave photo in there is the one of Reese looking at the photo on facebook of th Hacking’s new baby boy. We were so excited to hear about his arrival and Reese is excited to meet him 🙂

Reese in China

Happy Halloween!

Yes it snowed 5 inches. Yes that is our “garbage man.” Yes those few garbage cans are for a few 20 floor towers of people. Yes it’s gross.

Just getting ready to go on a walk. She’s a content little girl.

Meeting the staff on Rod’s campus.

They love her in China 🙂

We miss you all!

We’re here!

Ni Hao! Okay this may be one of the lamest posts ever but I’m just popping on to say we made it to China. After a huge cry fest because my parents ended up being unable to get on my flight with me (buddy passes are a tough way to travel), Reese and I did in fact survive our journey around the globe and arrived in one piece happy to see Rod and to settle back in to our apartment. Mom and Dad arrived the next day and we totally enjoyed them being here – even if for a short time.

I don’t have any pictures to post for this one – and I haven’t posted in forever because A. I’m feeding an infant around the clock 😉 and B. Our internet pass code to get around the Great Firewall of China to access blogs and Facebook has not been working. Magically it connected tonight and thus this short post. Hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of posting on here soon. Miss you all!

1 Month

Just got done changing a blow out diaper 🙂 Love it! Can’t believe she’s 1 month old. Honestly. I still need to do a post about coming home from the hospital, her first bath, her blessing, etc. but I’m afraid I’ll have to get to those later. Until then enjoy these cute photos. This is going to sound corny but I really don’t have words for how much I love her. Isn’t she adorable?! And she’s growing a double chin like a champion!

Thanks Hailey for the super cute hat!!!

Love my baby carrier! She was totally comfy in it and I think it’ll be really nice to have in Beijing.

Skyping with Daddy. We miss him! We fly out next Wednesday with my parents – how totally fun is that?!

Reese Anella Carter: Her Birth Story

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Alternate titles: “Our little miracle, and the miracles it took to get her here.”

“Holy cow, that did not go at all how we had planned.”

“Why I will never have a home birth.”

Warning – this is really long. Just look at the pictures if you don’t want all of the details. I wanted to get it all in writing for myself so that I won’t forget.

Tuesday September 11:

So here we were at the Doctor’s office again – at an appointment I thought I’d never make it to (my due date was Sept. 9). I had been dilated to a 3 and 80% effaced for almost a month. How rude. When I told the doctor I’d prefer to give my body some more time to go into labor on its own she replied that she could let me go to 42 weeks with twice weekly stress testing (to make sure my fluid levels were okay, the placenta was still functioning, and the baby wasn’t under any stress) at the hospital, but she’d prefer to only let me get to 41 weeks. We decided after some conversation to get my membranes stripped and see what happened, but ultimately to set an induction date for Monday the 17th. Getting my membranes stripped wasn’t too bad (I had heard it was terribly painful – no pain for me just uncomfortable pressure) and I was told there was a 50% chance I’d go into labor within 48 hours. I figured pretty quickly (since I felt no different and I didn’t bleed at all – sorry gross I know) that it wasn’t going to do anything.

After we left the doctor’s office I had an overwhelmingly positive feeling about our plan. So much so that I said out loud to Rod “I feel really good about our plan.” This turned out to be integral for me later.

Sweet Rod had been taking me to Hobble Creek golf course about 10 minutes away from where we were living in Mapleton to walk and walk and walk – we had been there several times. I had also gone “curb walking” with my mom and sisters (one foot on the curb and one not) and had been going to the gym 3 times a week – but my most extreme measure was this:

Saturday September 15:

Alicia accompanied me to hike the Y. As an unenthusiastic BYU graduate I had never hiked the Y during my schooling – so I figured now was the perfect time. Here’s my post about it. We went slow – I didn’t want my heart rate to get too high. It was shorter and easier than I had anticipated – and like I said we went really slooooow. But it didn’t send me into labor either!

Sunday September 16:

I went on one last walk in the evening to try to give my body one last shot to go into labor naturally. I walked at a pretty fast clip for about 40 minutes and tried to calm my nerves about being induced the next day. I must mention that I had a beautiful easy pregnancy and even felt great up until the day I had her. What a blessing!

Monday September 17: We called the hospital at 6 a.m. per our instructions, having been told that we’d probably be admitted at 6:30 but to call and check before we left. The nurse on the phone said “We actually just had 4 women come in who are in labor and have been admitted. If you haven’t heard from us by 10 call us back. Sorry!” So Rod and I went back to “sleep” – yeah right who can sleep when they’re contemplating the fact that they will be going in to have a baby that day!

2:15 p.m. We were finally told that we could go in – that there would finally be a bed for me. I was checked in and my cute nurse Kristy said “Alright, well just get into this gown and we’ll hook you up and get you going!” and I said “Wait… all I want done is my water broken. I’d like to have this baby as naturally as possible…” and she said “Oh! Okay well that sounds good too. I didn’t know your birth plan but I’m here to help you with whatever you’d like so we’ll do that.”

I was told that my doctor would not be available for another few hours as she had just delivered one of her staff member’s baby and had to go see the patients waiting at her clinic first. I was given the option to wait for her or have a colleague of hers who was there delivering another baby come in and break my water. I went with that option.

4:30 p.m. The doctor came in was an older gentleman, very kind, and he apologized to me after it was a little rougher and took a little longer to break my water than was normal. They speculated that maybe my amniotic fluid was low and so it was harder for the sac to be torn because it wasn’t taut. Who knows. In any case, not very much fluid came out – and the fluid that did was tinged brown/green so they knew that the baby had had a bowel movement. Not a good thing but they didn’t act alarmed and we celebrated when we realized within about 10 minutes that I was having contractions. I didn’t know it at first because it just felt like intermittent mild period cramps. I walked around and had conversations and functioned quite comfortably for about an hour but eventually wanted to just lay in the bed.  I tried sitting on an exercise ball but it was uncomfortable. The only comfortable position was lying on my back at an incline while Rod pushed on my knees through a contraction. Eventually I was not allowed to be in that position and had to be on my side because the baby’s heart rate was decelerating with my contractions and they tried to put me in other positions to relieve that.

Dr. Savage came in probably an hour or so after my water was broken and expressed encouragement that my body had gone into labor on its own without pitocin. She said she’d be back later when things had progressed.

9:00 p.m. I finally asked for IV pain medication to help take the edge off the pain. I think it made me very drowsy. It seemed that my contractions peaked and never came all the way back down. I felt like I was never getting a break to rest and gear up for the next one. It was exhausting and very painful. I was told I could only have 3 of those shots and they had to be an hour (?maybe half an hour – can’t remember) apart. I was only dilated to a 6 at this point – it was pretty discouraging. By about 9:45 I was asking for the epidural – I couldn’t do it anymore.

Somewhere during this span of time they put an internal monitor inside on the baby’s head. I had read about it in my pregnancy book and thought “They better not attach a monitor to my baby’s little head!” but as it was happening I understood that they needed to monitor her heart better. She wasn’t handling labor well. I also vomited twice during the ordeal – I don’t remember when – but I wasn’t having a very good time. At some point they also put a stream of water back into my uterus in an attempt to cushion Reese a little to see if she needed the fluid to improve her heart rate. They probably did it to clean out the uterus a little too because of her bowel movement. Gross  things I know. Labor isn’t glamorous, that’s for sure.

10:10 p.m. The anesthesiologist came in and wanted to have a friendly little chat while he prepared to do the epidural. I remember thinking “Shut up and get it done! It hurts!” and not caring that I was getting stabbed in the back and would soon not feel my legs (stabbed is a strong word – but before then I had always been afraid of having an epidural having heard that the needle was really long and you had to have a catheter – but by that point I didn’t care and I barely felt it going in). I remember asking my nurse (Lindsay was my nurse during the bulk of my labor – Kristy’s shift changed soon after my water was broken. We had had Lindsay for our stress test the week previous and really liked her – we were happy and surprised when we learned that she’d be our labor nurse when Kristy left. All of the nurses and staff at Timpanogos Regional were wonderful. We really felt well taken care of.) “How much better will I feel after an epidural?” and her reply was “About 1000%” and that sealed the deal for me. It was such a relief to finally be able to just lay there and not dread the next contraction coming on. I did still have to remind myself to try to keep my upper body muscles relaxed. I was pretty disappointed to have gotten an epidural and was discouraged that things weren’t going as I had hoped – but at that point I was just kind of going with the flow and felt really tired. Apparently my blood pressure took a scary dip and really affected the baby’s heart rate and another nurse or two came in at that point to try to help stabilize things. They moved me into a different position and that may have been the point when they inserted the internal monitor onto Reese’s head.

11:30 p.m. Dr. Savage came in the room and said “I’ve been monitoring your contractions at home and I’m concerned about your baby’s heart rate. I am also concerned because your contraction strength is averaging between 90 and 110 and we need it to be up around 200 to really be effective. You are only dilated to a 6 and the baby’s heart isn’t handling the contractions well. At this point we need to discuss the possible need for a c-section or we can try putting you on pitocin to strengthen your contractions and see if that progresses you, however I don’t know that the baby will handle it well.” Rod piped up from the couch in the delivery room (probably relieved to finally not have to press on my back or hold a fan – he and Alicia and Elleny and my mom were a WONDERFUL labor team!) and wanted to discuss the options a little more and I remember thinking “Rod, what the heck?! If this is what they have to do to get here here then so be it! Why are you questioning this?!” but luckily he did because Dr. Savage said “Okay, well let’s check her again.” So she checked me and said “Oh, well you’re actually at an 8-9. It’s time to do this!” and the nurses and NICU team started flooding in. Dr. Savage said “Alright, you only have a few pushes to get this baby out. We’d love to help you do this but unfortunately this is all up to you. I’m going to attach the vacuum to her head to help you a little bit, so when you push I’ll pull, but you’ve got to give it all you’ve got. Now would be the time to start saying prayers,” and then she proceeded to instruct me on how to push. I looked over at Elle and Alicia and said “Rally the troops,” and rally they did. I learned later that text messages were sent out to family members who knelt down and prayed for us. I know it helped. THANK YOU! Meanwhile the Dr. was having the surgeon called in. I think she assumed we’d end up doing it c-section, but luckily after 4 or 5 long pushes Reese was delivered up to the shoulders. Rodney says that this was the most nerve wracking point for him. He could see that she was coming out – but he felt like Dr. Savage wasn’t getting her out fast enough, and the reason was that the cord was wrapped around her neck AND chest. This made it impossible for the doctor to simple loop the cord up around her head (a common practice) because it would tighten on her chest. She clamped it of f in two places and cut it and then delivered Reese the rest of the way at 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday September 18 and immediately handed her off to the NICU team. I got a fleeting glimpse of her little blue body as she was handed over and I remember being acutely aware of the fact that she wasn’t crying. The NICU team surrounded her and I couldn’t see anything else as the doctor took care of my episiotomy/afterbirth.

This is the part that always makes me want to cry when I talk about it. I get teary thinking about it. Poor Rodney stood up and tried to see the baby and could tell she wasn’t moving or breathing. He frantically asked the NICU team what was happening hoping that any of them would tell him what was going on. One woman finally turned and said “Sir, we can’t talk to you right now, we’re working on the baby.” Rod turned and came to the doctor who was working on me and said “Please tell me what’s going on. What’s wrong with the baby?!” and sweet Dr. Savage faced him and said “Rodney, listen, her heartbeat is strong now, they just need to help her a little bit. You need to sit down, you look pale.” Alicia helped lower him into a chair where he sat with tears streaming down his face as we waited to hear if Reese would be alright. They put oxygen on her sweet little face and worked on her for I don’t know how long. I heard later that her APGAR (a measuring system for newborns to assess their well being) at birth was 2 (on a scale of 1-10) but by the 5 minute mark she was up to a 7. I think she simply needed some help after the trauma of the birth to begin breathing. They made sure that the meconeum from her bowel movement wasn’t causing her problems, and after she was stabilized the NICU doctor was very professional and finally told us “She’s doing much better but we are going to take her into the NICU and help her a little more. She may need to stay there for up to a week. We will know more after we assess her further,” and I think he said some other things but my memory of the entire experience is pretty blurry to be honest so all I knew was that they were taking her away and I hadn’t even met her yet. Rod went with her and after about an hour he came back to check on me and show me pictures of our little beauty. He was beaming and told us how good she was doing and that they thought they’d have her out to me soon.

Dr. Savage was awesome enough to stay and talk to me about everything. She said “You two really ought to consider all of the things that went right today, because at any moment things could’ve gone wrong, but everything turned out great.” I also had her show me the placenta which she said was unusually small, and also looked like it had begun to calcify which means it was “old” and not functioning fully. She said that poor little Reese had probably lost weight during her last week in utero. How sad is that?! And here I thought I’d end up with a big baby since I was so late! I also told her how guilty I had felt to have been having an induction and really second guessed myself during the days leading up to it because I wondered if I ought to just be waiting and letting my body do its thing. She said “Y’know, considering her birth weight and the circumstances she was under with the cord and probably low fluid it’s a good thing you got induced today. Had we waited another few days I might have delivered a stillborn baby.” I can’t even contemplate that thought.

I had a little bit of a scary moment with my bleeding after all was said and done. When the nurse pushed on my stomach I could hear a flood of fluid coming out and even said to the nurse “When do we use the word hemorrhage?” and she gave me a shot in my thigh as an extra measure to try to stop the bleeding. Apparently it worked because nothing else had to happen in that respect.

2:00 a.m. I finally met my sweet little 6 lb. 4 oz. 20.5″ daughter. I’ll never forget how bright eyed and alert she was. She was also making sucking motions with her mouth. Poor little sweetie was hungry! I couldn’t believe how perfect she was. How UN-squishy her face looked. She looked beautiful and perfect to me – and I LOVED her beautiful long fingers and big funny feet. She has big hands and feet 🙂 Thanks Dad 🙂 She has been a great little eater since the beginning. How lucky am I?! Honestly – the amount of love I feel for her is really something totally new to me. I love being a mom. And Rod – to say he loves her is a massive understatement. I’ve never seen him so happy. It’s a really beautiful thing. We chose Reese just because we liked it and Anella because my middle name is Nell and I also weighed 6 lb. 4 oz. at birth.

We had some fun visitors in the hospital (see the pictures) and I enjoyed ordering all I wanted from the food menu at mealtimes. The food was good – not great, but good. I ate like a horse. My feet were more swollen than ever after I got home. It freaked me out so bad that I called the doctor’s office and they told me to just wait it out as long as I didn’t have any of the scary symptoms that can signal a problem. Luckily it went away a week later. It was actually extremely strange to see my feet and ankles normal-sized again. I had forgotten how they looked because I had had swelling since month 5! When I stepped on the scale that day for the first time I had lost 23 pounds – and I swear 10 of it was water weight. I spent my first few days at home sweating like a pig. I tell ya – I had had so many fluids pumped through me. Anyway – those are all of the details I guess – and now I’ll point out what I view as the miracles:

#1 We induced the day that we did (I only stuck with it because I kept remembering the feeling of peace that I had after we left the doctor’s office the week previous).

#2 We didn’t go in at 6:30 a.m. Had we done that and the timing had gone the same, Dr. Savage would not have been available to deliver my baby since she was delivering one of her employee’s baby around noon which I’m sure would’ve taken precedence. I feel that her decision making in the crucial moments was extremely important.

#3 I got an epidural. I believe this may have allowed my body to relax enough to progress AND it made the episiotomy and repair completely painless. Had I not had it I also probably would not have had the energy to help push at all at the end.

#4 Although my contraction strength was apparently too low to really do the hard work – my body progressed in the end anyway. I had sort of felt disappointed in my body and a little let down that I hadn’t gone into labor on my own – but even though my contractions were apparently weak (yeah right! haha) my body still did the work to make things progress.  Had we have had to do pitocin I don’t know that Reese’s heart would’ve been able to handle the stronger contractions.

#5 I didn’t have to have pitocin. My labor started and continued once my water was broken.

#6 We didn’t end up having to have a c-section.

#7 The prayers of family members really made a difference – I honestly believe that.

#8 Reese improved so quickly after a few scary moments and didn’t have to be in the NICU for longer than two hours.

#9 Reese’s beautiful little head is perfectly round and the bruise from the vacuum was gone within 24 hours.

#10 We have a perfect healthy little girl. What a miracle!

This post is long – I just wanted to get it all out before I forget it. Labor amnesia is real. What an odd experience – it already is sort of a huge blur to me – but it feels great to be a mom. We are so happy!

I have to add here at the end that although I was really hoping to have a smooth and easy hypnobirthing experience (and even felt entitled to it as my mom and sister had both had beautiful experiences) and really felt like I’d be able to go un-medicated (if you read my previous post you heard my whole spin) I’m just grateful that everything turned out well and now understand how glorious an epidural is in the moment of need. I don’t believe that I caused myself pain because of being afraid of birthing – I wasn’t afraid – it just hurt and that’s the bottom line for me. My experience was my own obviously and what a happy ending!

Holy Smokes She’s Here!

Okay – little Reese is 3 weeks old tomorrow and I have CLEARLY neglected the blog. Wow! Motherhood is so wonderful and just a complete change from what my life used to be 🙂 I am now a milk machine – plain and simple. I promise to start posting again soon – I sure do have a lot to catch up on – but until then here are a few picture gems.

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Belly Watch: 41 Weeks

Despite my best efforts (see photos below) baby girl is comfortable in her uterine hotel so we’re going to help her out tomorrow. Thanks for all of the kind messages and prayers!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Much thanks to Alicia for making the trek with me and taking these beautiful and flattering photos. I’m only posting them because I think the whole situation is pretty hilarious. So hilarious that 5 of my girlfriends who were due at the same time or AFTER me have already had their babies 😉 I speak truth. I never thought I’d have to be induced but we feel like it’s the right choice under the circumstances. Rod has to fly back to Beijing in 2.5 weeks (I’m going to go out later) and we don’t want to let this little booger get too big in there (or let my fluid get too low – or let the placenta stop working, etc. etc.) so HERE WE GO! Tomorrow it is!

p.s. I had to include the photo of the couple on the Y having a very serious “getting to know you” chat – ah Provo – you are so unique!