Friday, July 17, 2009

Alex's Arrival

SHORT VERSION: Our sweet baby Alex was ushered into the world on July 9, 2009. Due to my developing preeclampsia, my labor was induced and after about five hours of labor and one push, Alex was born at 5:09 pm. He weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19.25 inches long. He is sweet as can be and so far has earned his nickname of Mr. Mellow. We also call him Peanut and Yertle. He must have heard me call him "scrawny" at birth because he loves to eat and eat and eat. Haley loves to hold him and show him lots of toys, while Jake likes to put the dirty diapers in the garbage (nice!). We're so happy he's here safely and part of our family! And thank you to all our dear friends and family for your good wishes and support during this time - we love you! (Scroll down for pictures.)

LONG VERSION/JOURNAL ENTRY: Our sweet baby Alex was ushered into the world on July 9, 2009. I went in for my 37-week check-up, sure that I would be told as usual that everything looked fine and that I would most likely go full-term. The nurse took my blood pressure, said "that can't be right," then changed the cuff on the machine and took it again. A few minutes later the nurse practitioner came in and I could tell immediately from her brisk behavior that something was wrong (and besides, how often do you only have to wait 2 minutes for the doctor?!). She gave me a quick check and said that a wheelchair would be there in a few minutes to take me over to the Family Birthing Center where they would run some tests and "make a plan" because my blood pressure was way too high. I immediately sent a text message to Rob, telling him to pack his bags and call our wonderful friend Laura to stay with Haley and Jake because baby was coming that day. Although it was unexpected, I must have had some premonition...

I had been "nesting" like a mad woman for the last month: scrubbing the showers with a toothbrush, reorganizing closets, painting, cleaning windows, stocking the pantry and freezer, and washing every last bit of clothing/bedding/baby items I could find. The night before my appointment I made sure the floors were all freshly clean and that the laundry was caught up, "just in case." I also made sure my hospital bags were packed and ready to go. I was so glad that I'd been prepared - it made it much easier on Rob and myself when it was TIME.

Once I was settled in the hospital room and hooked up to an I.V., I was put on magnesium sulfate, which helps prevent the seizures and strokes that are the biggest concern with high blood pressure. A while later the doctor broke my water, started me on Pitocin to stimulate contractions, and labor was on its way! After giving birth "naturally" twice before, I had decided that instead of an epidural I would opt for an intrathecal - a one-time injection that provides a few hours of pain relief and then wears off. Because I'd had very fast labors in the past, this seemed like a great option for me. I was disappointed to learn that because the intrathecal can sometimes raise blood pressure, it was not an option this time around. I was still very unsure about getting an epidural, but as the contractions got stronger I remembered just how painful things were about to get and I reluctantly asked for the anesthesiologist to come in. Twenty painful minutes later, when the tube was still not in place and every poke sent a zing up my back, I yelled at him to stop everything and go away. I had delivered without one before and I would do it again. I could tell the nurses thought I was nuts, and Rob seemed unsure too, but my mind was made up. The nurse later told me that ninety-eight percent of her patients use epidurals (which really surprised me, but I won't get into that here).

Because of the blood pressure issue, I had to stay flat on the bed and didn't have the option of walking or taking shower to get through contractions. So instead I opted for the drug Stadol, which turned out to be a lovely choice. A half dose didn't provide any pain relief, but did allow me to relax between contractions, which were now coming faster and faster. A short while later things got very serious and I could tell I would be pushing soon. We had warned the nurses and doctor that I would "go" quickly, but I guess they hadn't quite believed us. As with Haley and Jake's births, the last few minutes had nurses running in and scrambling to set things up while yelling for the doctor. But I wasn't waiting for the doctor - ONE push and out came Alex, with hardly a pause for his shoulders. The medical resident caught him (Rob swears he really was airborne, at least for a second), and we found out later that it was the resident's first "catch." Our sweet little boy weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19.25 inches long. After a few minutes' deliberation, we decided he didn't look like a Max or Samuel or Bennet (or Blizzard, sorry Jake), and we named him Alexander Breckon Wood.

Rob went home to get the kids after things had wound down a little, and our wonderful nurse Mary let them help give Alex his first bath and listen to his heartbeat. Haley's face was pure delight when she saw him for the first time. She kept saying "I can't believe he's here!" and "I can't believe there was a real person inside your body!" Jake thought he was cute, but was more interested in all the tubes coming out of me. I was just so happy that it was over and that Alex had arrived safely. He was quickly nicknamed Mr. Mellow, a title we hope he continues to earn in the coming months. He looks a lot like his dad, and also a lot like Jake as a baby. I also see a lot of my dad in him. He has a full head of reddish-brown hair, and his dark eyes look like they might someday turn blue like Jake's. We're so happy to have him here and can't wait to see who and what he becomes in the coming months and years. Welcome to our family, Alex!

Anyone who saw my swollen legs, hands and feet in the last few months would not be surprised that I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure). We were so blessed to have the preeclampsia diagnosed before anything serious happened, and are very grateful to the good friends, nurses, and doctors who supported us during my 5-day post-birth hospital stay. I went home on blood-pressure medications and it should go away on its own within 6 weeks. I highly encourage all pregnant women to know the warning signs for preeclampsia and be prepared in case your birth doesn't go how you expected it to. A good website to visit is:

Winking at me - he's such a flirt already.

How did we end up with a brunette, a blond, and a redhead?

Mom of THREE kids - is that officially a "brood"?

2-hour old Alex with mom. I was still very loopy from the drugs.

The brothers.

Alex has a lot of cuteness to live up to!

Haley kept saying "I'm in HEAVEN with this baby!"

Alex with his big brother and sister.

Jake listens to Alex's heartbeat.

Haley has a turn with the stethoscope.

"He's so cute and tiny!"

Checking out the world.

Haley gives Alex his first shampoo.

Helping wash him.

"Whoa! Where did he come from?!"

Haley, taking her first look at Alex.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Itasca Sunday Drive

Yesterday we decided to take a Sunday afternoon drive to Lake Itasca, about an hour and a half east into Minnesota. We'd been there before because it's the headwaters of the Mississippi River, but we wanted to explore more of the State Park and surrounding area - we were in for such a pleasant surprise! We discovered sandy beaches, beautiful vistas, hiking trails, playgrounds, campgrounds, and wonderful visitor's centers. It was gorgeous and it felt so great to get out of town, if only for the day. We will definitely be going back ("every day!" says Jake) to camp, fish, hike and swim, and possibly to snowshoe in the winter. Some of the views reminded me so much of Seattle - I was very grateful for this little piece of "home" within day-trip distance.

Jake gets ready to "blast off" down the dock.

Rocket boy.

Notice Jake's feet - I can't believe he didn't fall in (this time, anyway).

We were lucky enough to be in the park while the lady slippers (MN state flower) were in bloom. They are pretty rare and bloom only for a short time.

Haley reached out and plucked one right as Rob and I both said "NO!" I guess we didn't explain the "rare" or "state park" aspect well enough. But she was enchanted with both the flower and its name.

Hiking from Peace Pipe Vista down toward Brower's campground. We turned around because we hadn't put on bug spray yet and Jake was about to get carried off by mosquitos.

Ah, the beach! We were so glad we'd thought to bring swimsuits.

Jake's hair looked especially beachy that day.

I think he's showing off his "super-strong muscles" here...

The kids found a lot of rocks and shells and other treasures.

I just couldn't believe how much this felt like "home" - the sparkling water and emerald treeline reminded me so much of the lake beaches we swam in growing up.

Jake gave Rob's harmonica a try. He was pretty good, much to the amusement of all who passed by.
We could NOT get Jake to give us a good smile... everyone did "silly" instead.

You want "cheese," Mom? Here you go!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fourth of July Weekend 2009


The Fourth of July in our town is such a little slice of Americana - an apple pie contest, cutest baby contest, rides and games for the kids, live music, and more. On Saturday morning, the kids decorated their bikes and we headed downtown for the annual Children's Parade. Rob was kind enough to not complain when I backed out of walking in the parade this year (my belly and I are quite a parade ourselves, thank you), so I went ahead down the route to get some pictures of them as they rode by. Haley and Jake were so excited to spot their friends and wave to them. Afterwards we enjoyed some live music and bouncy houses before meeting up with friends for an afternoon of barbequeing and playing at the splash park, followed by a picnic dinner downtown before the fireworks show. It was a long, but fun and festive day. Happy Fourth of July!

Yep, that's a Coke and a smile.