Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cora Jane Patricia Mertz (A Birth Story)...

This birth story is a story of redemption and healing in so many ways. If you want to understand the full extent of those ways, make sure to read my son's birth story in full here.

Here we go...

I'll start by saying that there is such a difference between preparing for your first baby and your second baby. When I was pregnant with Will, I had my hospital bag packed by 30 weeks, his nursery complete by 36 weeks, and my house perpetually clean in case he decided to come unexpectedly early. This time, by my 36 week appointment, I hadn't even had my baby shower yet and didn't have my suitcase down off the garage shelf. So I was in a bit of a panic when at my 36 week appointment my doctor, Dr. Schwartz, told me I was almost 3cm dilated and 60% effaced. She warned me I may want to have a plan in place in case Cora decided to come earlier than my planned c-section at 39 weeks (March 20th). Will was born exactly 1 day before his due date, so I was surprised at the idea of this one coming earlier than 1 week! I went home and scrambled to set up a bassinet, started throwing things into a suitcase, and made lots and lots of lists to prepare. 

One week later, for my 37 week appointment, I was checked again and hadn't progressed at all. My doctor also told me that Cora was as high up as she possibly could be, so I was confident that labor wasn't going to happen any time soon. I was so relieved and decided to set aside my feverish planning for the rest of the day and relax.

I remember that evening, as I was hobbling around the house uncomfortably 8 months pregnant, I had the thought that while I was glad Cora wouldn't be coming for a little while longer, I was so done being pregnant. But Aaron and I had a full week ahead of us with a few appointments for Will and then our friend's wedding and another friend's baby shower that weekend! I just kept thinking that if she did decide to come early, I just needed to make it to Monday and I would be more ready. I went to sleep that night completely confident that baby girl was staying where she was.

A little after 2am, I got up to use the bathroom and then crawled back into bed. As I was falling back to sleep I had a braxton hicks contraction like I normally did after any sort of activity. I rolled over to help it pass and as I did, my water broke. My first thought was to save our brand new mattress, and so I leapt out of bed saying, "oh my God, oh my God" over and over again. Aaron woke up with a jump and asked what had happened. I informed him my water had just broken and he immediately sighed in relief and said, "oh gosh, I thought something bad had happened like someone had broken in or Will was in danger!" I laugh now, but at the time was so annoyed that he didn't consider my water breaking to be something important!!! 

As my mind began to process the fact that I was actually in labor, I immediately felt so incredibly pissed! I was not ready to have this baby! It was too early! I only had a few items of clothing in the hospital bag and everything else was still spread around the house. Speaking of my house, it was a disaster because I have a toddler and little energy to pick up after him constantly. Aaron asked if I should call my doctor or if he should call his mom to come over. My response was, "I'm gonna take a shower." But, I did hand him my phone with the hospital bag lists so he could start gathering things up into the bag. When I was done with my shower I asked if he wanted to take a shower next. His response: "No, I'm ok, shouldn't we go?" My response: "eh, we're good. Take a shower." I had reached the full denial phase. There was still a piece of me that thought maybe it wasn't my water breaking (even though it clearly was). I moved at a glacial pace around the house gathering things and getting dressed. I just didn't want to fully acknowledge this was happening.

Pretty soon after my water broke, I felt my first contraction. With Will my contractions didn't start right away after my water broke and weren't painful at all until a few hours later. My contractions this time started right away and were strong enough for me to have to stop walking and pause for a second. This should have been motivation to get my butt in gear and go to the hospital, but my denial was more powerful. Finally when Aaron got out of the shower, I called my doctor and they told me to go to the hospital and when the hospital confirmed I was in labor, my doctor would head over for my c-section. Aaron called his mom to come over and be with Will. Laurie arrived about 10 min later at 3:30a and we left for the hospital. Not of course without me going into Will's room and standing over his crib quietly crying over the fact that I didn't get a proper goodbye cuddle and that this would be the last time I saw him when he was my only baby.

When I got in the car, I took a deep breath, cried a bit more and prayed that God would help me change my attitude and be on board for this all happening. I tried to let go of the fact that none of our family could be there to pray with us before the c-section or wait in the waiting room. I let go of my daughter's birthday not being March 20th - the first day of spring (I know that is a silly thing to grieve over, but I was so excited that she would be a true spring baby). I let go of not having a sibling gift for Cora to "give" Will when he met her. I let go of the fact that I was running on only 2.5 hours of sleep. Aaron and I prayed together and pretty quickly after I started getting excited to meet our little girl in just a few hours. We text the rest of our families to ask them to pray and to let them know that she was on her way!

We got to the hospital and I walked into our triage room at 4:03a. I remember this time because I was timing my contractions and they were pretty strong (about a level 5 pain wise) and about 8 min apart. Then we checked me in the triage room, I was already 6cm dilated and nearly fully effaced. This labor was progressing WAY faster than Will's did!

I wasn't sure what to expect having a repeat c-section, but having it be unexpectedly early. I didn't know how long we would have to wait. I actually was a little worried my doctor wouldn't be available to do the surgery! Thankfully as we settled into our triage room and I got hooked up to all the monitors, the nurse let me know that my doctor actually was already on her way to the hospital to deliver another patient who was fully dilated and ready to push. As soon as that patient was delivered, it would be time for my c-section! I was surprised it would be less than a couple hours until I delivered, but also relieved because my contractions were speeding up and getting a way more intense. Aaron and I were so thankful that everything was going so smoothly. It was actually so nice because there was never a moment at the hospital where we were waiting around with nothing to do. Nurses were coming in and out to check on me, finish my registration, and get my IV and fluids going. The anesthesiologist came in to let me know how everything would go in the OR. Then Dr. Schwartz came in and it was go time!! Not even an hour and 15 min after we arrived at the hospital, I was being rolled into the operating room.

Aaron and I were so amazed how incredibly different this experience was from Will's birth. For one thing, I was conscious and able to get out of my bed and walk to the OR table. Aaron wasn't able to come in with me right away and so I was alone with the medical team at the beginning. By the time I got into the OR my contractions were nearly on top of each other and I was squeezing the life out of Aaron's hand until we parted and then I just had the sides of the operating table to white knuckle while the pain was nearly unbearable. As I focused through each contraction, what sustained me was that very soon I would be getting a numbed from the naval down and that helped me get through! I got to the operating table and quickly got the numbing shot so they could put in the spinal needle to start my anesthesia. I was so thankful that as they laid me back on the operating table I could feel my feet going to sleep and the pain of my contractions going away.

As I lay back on the table, I remembered that my doctor had told me if I wanted skin to skin in the OR that I needed to let the nurse know. The hospital's policy was that a nurse had to take Cora right away to check her out at the baby station in the room before I could see her or do skin to skin. Luckily the table was going to be in my eye line the entire time and then after a minute or two, once they knew she was ok, I would be able to do skin to skin. As I lay flat on the table, I really couldn't see anyone else in the room except the anesthesiologist who was near my head, so I just said to the room at large that I wanted skin to skin. No one responded, but my anesthesiologist heard me and got the attention of the nurse and made sure she took note of my request.

Soon after, Dr Schwartz came into the OR and then they put up the sheet in front of my face and I started feeling them get me draped and situated. Aaron came in then and I was so thankful to see him. I had been warned that I would still be able to feel movement and pressure on my stomach and hips from them doing the surgery, but I wouldn't feel pain and this was definitely true. I could feel them press and pull and before I knew it the anesthesiologist let Aaron and I know that Cora would be born within the next minute! Seriously?! I couldn't believe how quickly that happened! I wasn't even sure they had made the first cut yet! The anesthesiologist (man, I wish I had remembered his name cause he was amazing) was the only person talking to us while every one else was intently focused on the surgery (rightfully so). He was so kind and let Aaron know the best place to stand to get the right view of her arrival. I felt them press down on the top of my stomach to "push" her out and then heard Schwartz declare, "There's her head!"...

And then I heard the most glorious sound!

Cora's sweet cry filled the room and I instantly started crying!

There was such a wave of redemption and a wave of grief all at once. So much of what I lost with Will and didn't get to experience in his birth was healed and redeemed in this moment, but I also had a wave of sadness now fully understanding what I missed with him. It was so incredibly bitter sweet, but definitely more sweet!

Schwartz handed Cora off to the nurse and I was so excited to get to have a clear view of her while the nurses wiped her down and checked her out. I couldn't stop smiling and ached to have her in my arms. I remember someone saying that she had a bit of hair and so when I saw her on the table I was actually quite shocked, because "a bit of hair" was an understatement! Our girl was born with a full head of adorably and surprisingly DARK hair! I had been picturing her having the same hair color as Will, so I was shocked beyond anything to see a raven haired little girl!

It was only about a minute and a half before they brought her over to me and she was on my chest. Oh my word, what an incredible feeling to hold her in my arms and see her only minutes old! I got to stare at her sweet face and take her in as they put my body back together. I can't actually tell you how long it took to close me up, but it probably was around 30-40 min. I didn't feel any of that time pass and it was as if Cora and I were in a completely separate world as we gazed at each other.

The anesthesiologist switched on my morphine drip and I was started getting a bit shaky and had to pass Cora off to Aaron. I thought holding her myself was a complete dream, but watching Aaron hold his daughter was equally magical! Aaron was born to be a dad and I knew that he would make an exceptional dad to a little girl! What a sweet moment to watch him take her in and walk around the room with her.

After each of us had gotten a good snuggle, we handed her back to the nurses and they continued checking her and weighed her in at 7lbs 6oz and she measured at 20in. Her head was 14in and therefore in the 86%. Schwartz informed me as we were leaving the OR that she was glad we did the C-section because it was very clear to her that Cora wouldn't have been born any other way due to her size and the shape and position of my pelvis. I didn't really care either way at that point, I only cared that she was in my arms.

I held her on the bed all the way to the recovery room, which was such a peaceful and sweet space for us to begin our time with her. The lights were dim and the room felt surprisingly cozy considering we were in a hospital surrounded by machines and medical equipment. They continued to monitor Cora and I and made sure we were doing ok. Both of our body temperatures were a bit low, so they put her on my chest and we did more skin to skin covered in warm blankets. I was still dealing with the shakiness of morphine, so a lot of the time was spent trying to relax as much as I could. Cora also had her first feeding. I had been nervous because Will was SUCH a champ at eating right away and I didn't want to expect that perfection again, but I was so happy that she took to it right away! She actually happily ate for over 30 min on each side! This was my first inkling that this girl LOVES to each, which is still true 5 weeks later.

The nurses shift change happened while we were in recovery, so we met a new nurse and then soon after we were moved into the room we would stay in for the rest of our hospital stay. I was able to properly sit up finally and I had stopped shaking, so I could really start to take her in and just stare at her! I just couldn't believe she was here and in my arms. It was 7:30a by the time we got to our room and I realized what a whirlwind I had been in since 2a! For the rest of the day, Aaron and I would look at the clock and try to remember where we had been in the midst of Will's labor at that time vs. our life with Cora.
It was interesting because my labors with both kids had started almost at the exact same time (1:30a and 2a respectively). With Will at 7:30a I was still walking the halls waiting for my contractions to get strong enough, and this time with Cora, she was here and we were already comfortably tucked into our little hospital room relaxing.

I had started my labor with a lot of anxiety and frustration that my plans had been thwarted and thinking about all the things that I wasn't able to control. But as I stared at my sweet girl in my lap, none of it mattered. She was perfect and safe and healthy and just the sweetest and sleepiest little bundle of love.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Will's Seventh Month! 8/11 - 9/10

7 MONTHS OLD!! • I love moving all over the place and don't
like being still (hence the picture) • my mom and dad thought our
house was baby proof, but I have a knack for finding danger •
I can now army crawl, get myself into the sitting position, and
I have pulled myself up to standing once now • I have one tooth
and the second one is on its way • June now steers clear of me
cause I have pulled h
er tail one too many times, but she gets a
few face and hand licks in after each meal time to get the
extra food off me • I love watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in
 bed with mama in the mornings • I love singing and when my
 mom claps for me • I love when dad carries me around the
house in the ergo • I love my new van • there is not a food I
have tried so far that I can't stand, but green beans are low on my
favorites list • I prefer eating squash, apples, pears, and carrots! •
I love that I am getting to take walks outside more often
in the mornings • my favorite book the the Jabberwocky •
my favorite toy is my play school ring tower! •
my favorite song is still Winnie the Pooh. • Being 7 months old is so fun!

Well we started on this 7th month of life at a sprint... or most honestly at a crawl! Yes, our little nugget, having just barely mastered the art of sitting up decided that it wasn't enough for him anymore and he needed to start scooting! It was starting to become more imperative to him when his toys would be just out of reach and he just NEEDED them and couldn't wait to momma to move them closer. I had been noticing some tiny inches of movement here and there and definitely some good rolling skills to get where I wanted. But, one day while we were playing on the ground, Will caught sight of my phone and just HAD to have it. This was the motivation he needed to do some proper scooting!

There was no stopping after this and it seemed like time sped up by 100x and I don't know how I am supposed to keep up. Gone are the days of being able to put him down and he would stay in the same place. Gone are the days of tummy time and you being content to lay on your back and just stare at my face. You are a mover my sweet boy and you never stop! Will's weight percentile actually went down recently because, according to our pediatrician, is "one of the more active 6 month olds I've ever met." Lucky me!

But actually this new stage of moving had brought out one of my favorite personality traits Will has and that is his curiosity! He wanted to know and discover and explore EVERYTHING! I began the process of really baby proofing the house and Will was ever so helpful at constantly letting me know areas I had missed. It took a couple months to finally be able to relax in the house and know that he was safe (as long at the bathroom and laundry room doors were shut and June's food was up on the counter).

there are outlet protectors on there, they are just clear
As if crawling and scooting weren't enough, Will also started solid foods! No more being able to eat only momma's milkies. The amount of moving he was doing called for a lot more calories. We started on rice cereal as usual and then slowly began to introduce new foods. Will loved everything we gave him... except green beans, which he didn't like, but would still eat.

This month we had a VERY special visitor! Auntie Carla came to visit us all the way from London, England! I was so incredibly excited for her to be here with us and to meet my little man. She brought Will a little Oxford bear since she was starting her teach certification program there in the fall. Will was enamored with her and they were best friends instantly!

It was a short visit and had such a crazy beginning to it! She was initially supposed to be able to stay 10 days, but then a couple months before her trip, her parents got an opportunity to go to Chicago for a conference and decided to bring Carla's little sister Candace with them. Since Candace is only 8 years old, Carla decided to reroute her trip to Chicago for the first 3 days to watch her sister during the conference. Sadly the airline she was flying wouldn't let her change her destination to Chicago, so she ended up keeping her flight to Phoenix and back, but then buying another ticket from Phoenix to Chicago almost immediately. This meant that she was going to fly into Phoenix one night and then immediately fly to Chicago early the next morning. Well with unexpected flight delays in Toronto, it meant that she ended up having to fly directly to Chicago and there was a ton of drama to try to get her tickets to stay valid even though she missed some of her legs. It was so incredibly stressful for her and ended up throwing the whole point of the relaxing vacation into a frenzy. By the time she finally did make it to Phoenix, she was utterly exhausted from the flight drama and caring for an 8 year old for 3 days stuck in a hotel. Needless to say, our time was about relaxing and sitting on the couch watch suits, talking, crying, processing, laughing and enjoying the joy Will created with us!

We had a party for Carla to welcome her with a bunch of people. I sadly didn't take very many pictures, but managed to catch a photo of Carla with Bruce and Janet, who she absolutely loves. Every time she visits she wants to make sure to see them as they were so sweet and intentional with her at our wedding.

My mom, got these photos on her phone from the party. Right before the picture of my dad holding Will with my mom was taken, my mom simply asked my dad if she wanted to take a picture with her and Will. My dad smiled and said, "sure!" and reached out to hold Will! This was the first time my dad ever held my son! I was nearly shaking taking the picture, I was so excited! It is one of my favorite photos of all time. The moment I was done taking the picture, my dad handed him back to my mom and the moment was gone. But I am so thankful for this picture.

Carla noted how different my dad was even from her last visit a year and a half before. It was hard and so sad for her to see his progression. I sometimes don't really stop and take in how much he has changed in the long term. It is easy just to notice the subtle and slow changes from week to week.

During Carla's visit, we also did a day trip up to the Mogollon Rim for the day to escape the heat and show her some beautiful Arizona scenery!

It sprinkled as we walked along the rim trail and we just talked and processed life all together. Aaron was able to get the day off work to go up with us and it was so nice to have him with us as we hung out.

Then before we knew it, she was off to return home! It seems each of her trips makes it so much harder for us to part and continue to do life so far away! Thankful for social media and video chats to keep us connected.

With San Diego and Carla's visit behind us, we got back to normal life again and Will just kept growing and changing! He continued eating all the fun new foods we were introducing him to and just grew life a little weed. He had been a little extra fussy and a restless sleeper while Carla was here and I chalked it up to probably being thrown off by a visitor in the house, but as soon as Carla left, I discovered Will had cut his first tooth at some point in the week! No wonder our little man was so sad! I actually was a bit impressed though, because I had expected much worse for a baby cutting their first tooth. He was mild considering what I had pictured.

One of Will's favorite things to do is read books and one book series I am obsessed with for him is the Babylit books! He has a ton of them and we love them! They are board book primers that are based on classic literature! Will's favorite is the Jabberwock, but I also love the Pride & Prejudice counting primer and the Jungle book animal primer. They also have books on cities around the world and the national parks! Since the National Parks were celebrating 100 years on August 25th, I had to do a little photo shoot of Will and one of his favorite books.

Oh this kid is getting so photogenic! He makes the absolute perfect expressions and I can't get over how animated he is. So the photoshoots just kept on coming this month!

We did a little photoshoot with the mommy and me Robin Hood set Nicole gave us for Christmas since Will finally fit in his! I had a vintage Robin Hood lunchbox that was a great prop.

One of my favorite photos of him ever!

Will also got more play time with little friends. We had a play date with Caleb and Livi! Livi is just a couple months older than the boys, so I can't wait to see them all together in Sunday school at church and growing up together. Livi, being the only little girl, had the boys literally chasing (crawling) after her and she was so sweet to give them hugs.

My Mamaw's 92nd birthday was on August 27th, so we made a special visit to her to celebrate! Will loved seeing her again and she even sang him the lullaby she wrote that my mom sang to me and I sing to Will every night. They are so sweet together.

Before we knew it, we were in September! Cooler temps were just weeks away now and I was dreaming of playing outside again. It also was Aaron and my 5 year dating anniversary, so we decided to take Will out to dinner to celebrate all we had done and accomplished in 5 years since dating!

September also meant the beginning of College Football season and Daddy & Will Saturday mornings watching the Georgia Bulldogs! One of Aaron's co-workers had given us the cutest University of Georgia onesie set when Will was born and it was the perfect size for this season!

Like I said... so many photoshoots!

Labor day weekend is our Church's yearly family weekend up North in Payson at Mountain Meadows Ranch, and is a great excuse to get out of the Phoenix heat. We weren't ready to stay overnight and camp with everyone else, so we just headed up for the Sunday that was our big all church day. It was so lovely to let Will be outside in the cool fresh air and take in the forest scenery. We hung out with the Stoops' and other friends, so Caleb got to play with his little friends and cousins. We also got sweet pictures with Grandma & Grandpa. Aaron and Will and I took a walk along the creek while Will was asleep on me. This was the Summer camp that Aaron and I grew up going to with church summer camp. It was so sweet to be able to walk some of my favorite walks and remember having a crush on Aaron as camp there in High School and now to be walking around with him as my husband and with our little baby.

Will had been rocking at all his crawling and sitting up as the month went on, but we reached another fun milestone right before he reached 7 months where he was able to get into the sitting position on his own. I had been excited about this achievement because he often wanted to be sitting up and I had to be constantly available to help him get there if he'd fallen over or tried to crawl. One day I went into his room to get him up from his nap when he called out to find him happily and proudly sitting up!

And then within a couple days he took it one step further and started being able to pull himself up in his crib.

I was so proud of my little boy and so excitement for this new accomplishment. He too was so excited and loved trying out his new tricks. Sadly, he liked trying them out in the middle of the night when he was half asleep and then would wake himself up all the way and have trouble getting back to sleep. Will had been an awful night sleeper since Mother's Day, which was the last time he slept through the night, but was getting so close to getting better after some sleep training. Sadly this derailed him completely and he went back to waking up many times.

To finish off Will's 7th month, we finally decided it was time to upgrade our family vehicle and get a van! I was SO EXCITED! Aaron found us a great deal on a used 2008 Kia Sedona. I was so excited to be able to fit a ton of more stuff and ready for all the family road trips! Will too loved his new wheels and being able to see out the window better!

Between visitors, trips out of town, cutting his first tooth, trying baby food, sitting up on his own and standing, this kid had a pretty awesome and eventful month!!

more food!

When Will wouldn't nap, mom would get cranky

More Georgia Bulldog swag!

Go Dawgs!

falling asleep in the middle of morning playtime with daddy

trying more food

We tried out a movement and dance and reading time for little kids at church,
but Will might have been too small and overwhelmed. 

playing with the baby in the mirror

politely waiting for dinner

he was so excited any time he was ready to eat

hanging out by the back door because it's too hot to go outside

bath time

my two grumpy boys

all the foods

Saturday mornings are game time! Go Dawgs!