Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Got Milk?

I DO! Remember this post? It was all about my experience (or lack thereof) with nursing Evie, and towards the end of it, I said, "at least now we know where we went wrong, and we can do it better next time. We've learned from our experiences with Evie, and I'll hopefully be better able to nurse my next baby the way I so desperately wanted to with her." Well, exactly one year later, I'm writing this post to say I DID IT! I've been exclusively nursing Ella for over 4 weeks now, and we're still going strong! She's been steadily gaining weight, and within the first week of bringing her home, I even had over 25 ounces of breastmilk stored in the freezer!
A couple of posts ago, I told the story of our hospital stay and the situation with the doctor trying to get me to feed Elizabeth formula. I'm still so thankful that we followed our instincts because now I can say that we started out on the right path from Day One, as opposed to my experience with Evie. Actually, my negative experience with Evie has helped this time around, because I'm now much more fiercely determined to succeed with nursing. For example, while I was still in the hospital, the lactation consultant came in to see how I was doing and was very friendly. She answered all of the questions that I had and never condescended to me. I asked for advice about potential use of galactogogues like fenugreek if I needed them, and she gave me helpful information and dosage instructions. She even offered to come in and observe my next feeding if I wanted to make sure I was doing it right. I thanked her, but never called her back in. I figured that I was doing fairly well on my own and, even if I didn't have "perfect" technique, it was working fine. Rather than stress myself out with someone watching and potentially screw myself up in the process, I decided to just relax and let the milk flow in a way that felt natural to me. Besides, my body had muscle memory from the final lessons with Evie, so what felt natural was actually fairly close to the "right" way anyway. My thought is, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Despite maybe not having the perfect technique, I never hurt nearly as bad as I did with Evie. At the beginning of each feeding, I would have to curl my toes and hold my breath for a couple of minutes until the pain went away, but that was only because my body was relearning how to use muscles it hadn't used in over a year, and was "priming the pump" so to speak. Even that initial pain went away within about a week or so. Now, I can just pop Elizabeth on and off with no problem. And it's working! I have so many emotions in my heart right now that are threatening to spill over into my eyes: triumph, pride, joy, love, and gratitude. I have been so blessed with such a beautiful little girl, and I am so thankful for the ability I have to feed and nurture her!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mommy's Miracle Drug

Well, I have found the perfect medicine to cure all of my ills; say hello to my bottle of Percocet! It's made up of acetaminophen with oxycodone, so it's basically super Tylenol. That being said, I would like to make it clear that I would never abuse a prescription narcotic by taking it routinely for minor issues. However, it fixes everything that is ever really wrong with me. Migraine? Check. Postpartum pain? Check. Gallbladder attacks? Check. Stuffy nose? Eh, I'm okay just taking Sudafed.

I've suffered from migraines since I was in my early teens, and they always follow the same pattern. My first sign that one is about to strike is an out-of-body feeling. I'll look at my hands and suddenly feel like they don't belong to me, and that my body isn't really attached anymore. I start slurring words and/or having trouble thinking of specific words that I'm trying to say. Then, I start seeing flashing lights in highlighter colors (hot pink, lime green, and neon yellow) that start in the lower right corner of my vision and slowly take over until I can't see anything else anymore, and my balance is impaired. That cues the horrible pain that lives behind my left supra-orbital process (eye/eyebrow bone). In the past couple of years, the last three fingers on my left hand have started going numb and tingly, and sometimes the left side of my face and lips does too. Honestly, that scared me to death the first time it happened. I was pregnant with Evie and thought I was having a stroke. I cried to Todd that I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to hold my baby. It turns out, though, that numbness is actually pretty common in "aura migraines" like mine. While I was pregnant with Evie, I had a few really debilitating migraines during the first trimester, and then I didn't have another one until I was pregnant with Ella. Once I hit the second trimester, the migraines stopped, and I was confident that I would follow the pattern I set with Evie and be able to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy headache-free. I even thought to myself that maybe I wouldn't have another migraine for a couple more years until we have another baby. Then, in the middle of my third trimester, I got another one. I felt a little betrayed by my body. It was sort of funny, because while I was lying in bed, my OB/GYN's nurse called to reschedule that week's appointment. I told her that was fine, and then told her about my headache. Since I was pregnant, there wasn't much I could take for pain relief, and I asked for her advice. She got concerned, and asked about my symptoms. When I described them, she told me she would talk to my doctor and call me back. A little while later, she called to tell me that my doctor had prescribed acetaminophen with codeine--Percocet's little brother. When Todd got home, I sent him to fill my prescription, and once I took my pills, I started feeling better. I was very careful to use only what I needed so that if I had anymore headaches, I would still have medicine available, and at my appointment, I thanked my doctor for helping me find a form of pain relief that was safe for my baby.

When my girls were born, I was prescribed Percocet to help relieve any postpartum pain. With Evie, I healed quickly, but was still quite sore when I went home, and was sad that I was only sent home with 10 pills. With Ella, I healed even more quickly, and didn't need as many pain pills as I did with Evie; I mostly only hurt while I was nursing, because Ella's suckling helped tighten my uterus back to its original size, and I wanted pills to help with the cramping. This time around, I was sent home with 30 pills, and I'm still hoarding them, too. I noticed that the composition was very similar to my migraine medicine, so I asked the nurse about them. She told me that codeine is just a milder form of oxycodone, so all of my pain pills are very similar, and almost interchangeable. I keep them separate, but I figure that once my codeine pills are gone, I can use some of my leftover Percocet to relieve any migraines I may have, and will probably have even better and more immediate relief from the pain. And since they prescribed it to a nursing mother, I'm sure that even the stronger Percocet is still safer for me to take during any future pregnancies than aspirin is.

Last year, when I had all my gallbladder issues and ended up in the emergency room, the doctor did a whole bunch of tests on me, but all he did to actually help me with the pain was to give me a Percocet and send me home with a prescription (which I never filled). It sure worked, though! Of course, I've also figured out how to minimize my attacks, so they don't happen very often anymore. I don't really like spicy food anyway, so it's easy to avoid it. I learned that most pizza was fine for me to eat, but specific brands (Papa John's and Little Ceasars) would set me off. However, I don't really like either of those brands anyway, so it was no big deal. If I do wake up in the middle of the night with a gallbladder attack coming on, I take some Tylenol, go to the bathroom, and, if absolutely necessary, throw up whatever was making my belly hurt. Most attacks are little, and they go away within an hour, but I'm a little concerned because I started having them soon after Evie was born, and now that Ella is a few weeks old, I feel like I'm due for some more severe attacks soon. If my gallbladder flares up again this time around, though, and nothing else works to kill the excruciating pain, I'm willing to take one of my precious pills because I know it'll work, and it's what the doctor would give me anyway. Hooray for the modern medicinal miracle that is Percocet!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Best Two Years

Next week, on July 25th, Todd and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary. We've had such a wonderful time together so far, and I'm really excited to spend the rest of eternity with him. However, I think most of our best experiences have happened within the past two years. Tomorrow will mark the second anniversary of the day that we found out we were expecting Evie, and the thought sort of blows my mind. It's interesting for me to realize that in the space of two very short years, so much has happened to change my life:
  • We've quit 3 jobs
  • We've started 3 other jobs
  • Todd graduated from BYU
  • We've moved 3 times
  • We had 3 hospital admittances
  • I went through 2 entire pregnancies
  • I went through 2 births
Not everything during the past two years has been happy, including Evie and my dad both getting very sick, and our family having to move in with extended family. But, for the most part, the past two years have been the best of my life, and we have so much to show for them. Todd has a Master's degree from BYU, he now has a great job, and we have two beautiful and healthy little girls. Except for their daddy, those girls are the greatest blessing in my life, and they have changed me for the better. Because of them, I'm a kinder, warmer, more loving, more patient, and more motivated person. All in just under two years.
I don't know what the next year holds for us. I do know that it does not contain another baby; we're going to wait at least a year before getting pregnant again so that I have time to fully heal and adjust to having two little ones under the age of two. I'm also sure that whatever does happen this coming year, it will hold many more blessings and happy memories for our family!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Hospital Stay

Pretty much since we moved to Colorado, I've been researching the local hospitals. I knew we were wanting more babies fairly soon, and I wanted to deliver in the best facility around. Most of the people I talked to recommended Sky Ridge Medical Center, claiming it was almost like staying in a hotel suite. And we actually got the opportunity to test it out before having Ella, when Evie was sick. Granted, I didn't see much else besides her room, and the pediatric rooms are obviously a lot smaller than Labor/Delivery and Mother/Baby rooms (which are absolutely HUGE, by the way!), but I did feel like we were in the best place possible for her. And when I went into labor with Ella, I felt like we were once again heading to the best place possible to have her. For the most part, I really enjoyed my stay at Sky Ridge. The birth went smoothly, the food was really good, my nurses were great, and my room was large, clean, and pleasant. However, there were just a few little things that I wish could have been different.

1. My nurse was so nice and helpful, and everything was clean and ready for me. Then the time came for my IV of fluids, and another, older, lady came in to stick me with the needle. Really, I don't mind needles. I've donated blood and plasma many times, and they don't scare me. The only thing that bothers me is the initial stick. If I see the needle coming, I involuntarily tense up, which makes the stick hurt more. I don't even like it when people count down to the poke, either, because the same thing happens; if I know exactly when it's coming, my body automatically tenses. It doesn't affect the size of the hole, or shift the needle away from my vein or anything; it just hurts more. So I tell everyone drawing blood the same thing: "Don't warn me when you're going to do it. Just do it. I'll look over there until the needle is in, and everything will be fine." People are usually pretty accommodating. So I told this nurse the same thing, and looked away once she agreed. She finished prepping my arm, and then, just before she poked me and before I could stop her, she counted down: "Three, two, one," *poke.* Well, just like it always does when someone forgets what I've told them, it hurt a little more than usual, because my arm muscle had tensed up a bit. Usually, I just hiss a little through my teeth to relieve the extra sting and then the pain subsides, and everything is fine. This time, though, the pain lingered a little longer while she fumbled with the needle, and then I felt something warm dripping down my arm. I looked down and saw blood flowing from the hole in the crease of my elbow. The older lady kept apologizing while both nurses worked together to bandage me and try to clean me up. I assured her that I was fine, because I understand that it's hard to overcome 30 years of habit just because someone asks you to. But at the same time, a small part of my brain was thinking, "This has been your whole job for 30 years. You should be an expert at this, but you somehow botched the stick and made me bleed onto the floor, which has never happened before in all of the many times I've given blood. Sure would have been nice if you could have listened to and remembered what I said less than 5 minutes ago." Really, the pain and the blood didn't bother me as much as that they weren't able to completely clean me up, so I had dried blood under all of the tape holding the tube in place on my arm and hand. It just didn't feel very professional.

2. When a nurse came in to give Ella her first bath, Todd helped, and we thought it went well. It wasn't until we were in our Mother/Baby room that we realized that something was wrong. My Mother/Baby nurse was listing off the security protocols that protected our baby, and she mentioned the bracelets on our arms (which we each had) and the box that was attached to our baby's ankle. I asked, "What box?" She repeated, "The one on your baby's ankle." Todd and I looked at each other and said, "Ella doesn't have a box on her ankle." The nurse checked, and looked startled. Apparently the nurse who gave Ella a bath was supposed to attach a security tracker to Ella's ankle so alarms would go off if anyone tried to take her off of the maternity floor. I was horrified! Granted, my baby had never once left my sight up to that point, but if we hadn't found out about that security box and asked for one... My mind raced through all sorts of distressing scenarios in one instant. Then I blinked, smiled at the nurse, and asked her to bring us a security box. She agreed and promptly left. Unfortunately, that wasn't the last thing we had to ask her to bring for us.

3. I know I mentioned that there were evidently several mothers having their babies that morning, and we had to wait a while for a room to open up for us. It seems that once a room opened, they hurried and cleaned it for us, but didn't get around to restocking everything, and they didn't show me around to find the things that were stocked, so we had to keep asking the nurses to bring us stuff. For example, when I asked my nurse if I could have something to drink, it turned out that I was supposed to have a complimentary water bottle, which she brought for me.

4. When we asked if Todd was able to get one free meal, like he got when Evie was born, the nurse exclaimed, "Oh, your cake!" Once again, we looked at each other and asked, "What cake?" thinking to ourselves, "Did she somehow misunderstand our question about dinner?" She left the room and came back with a (really yummy!) personal cake for Todd that included a meal voucher for him. When we tried to use the voucher, there was a mix-up because the kitchen was almost closed. The server brought our dinners but forgot take the voucher. It turned out that we were also missing a couple of things, and when another server brought us the missing items, he told us to just use the voucher for breakfast or something. So we ended up getting two free meals for Todd! That was great, and we really appreciated it, but it was apparently something that should have been in our room waiting for us.

5. Todd went with Ella to the nursery to get weighed, and when he came back, he said to me, "I wonder why Ella doesn't have a name tag on her bassinet. All of the babies in the nursery have one." So when my nurse came back again, I asked her about it (mostly just because I wanted a cute name tag to put into her baby book), and she apologized and hurried and got one for us.

6. Really, the biggest deal for me came the morning that we were supposed to be discharged: July 4th. During the first couple of days after they're born, babies lose, on average, 10% of their body weight. During our stay, Elizabeth was weighed often to see how she was doing, and all of her numbers were great. Nursing was going well, unlike my first time around with Evie, and Ella was eating often, and having lots of dirty diapers; all of those are signs that a baby is eating enough, so we were really feeling confident that everything was fine and that Ella was plenty healthy. That is, until the night before we were scheduled to leave. Todd went with the nurse to weight the baby again, and, between one weighing and the next, the numbers suddenly dropped, out of the blue, to the point where she had lost 13% of her birth weight. The nurse seemed a little concerned, and sent in the hospital-issued pediatrician (we hadn't quite finalized our pediatrician choice at that point). The doctor tried to send me into a homicidal rage by suggesting that we get Ella's weight up by "giving her extra calories" through formula supplementation. I was furious that that was her first suggestion, instead of suggesting that I nurse the baby more often to make sure she was getting enough to eat, or something similar that wouldn't sabotage my nursing efforts. Again. I figured that since 10% is the average, even if she was below that, we could find a way to still take care of our little one and keep her healthy without giving her formula, especially because she was doing so well at nursing, and because of all of her dirty diapers, but the doctor just dismissed that out of hand, telling me that those signs didn't necessarily mean anything. She also tried to tell us that we might need to stay in the hospital for another few days. I tried really hard to be civil, but I told her flat-out that we were NOT giving our daughter formula. I told her that we would find another way to keep our daughter healthy, and that we needed to go home as scheduled because we had things we needed to do (Todd's oldest brother and his family were in town). Finally, after I argued with her for about 15 minutes, she reluctantly offered to let us reweigh the baby to see if the suddenly low numbers were maybe just a fluke. Todd and the nurse weighed the baby again, and, sure enough, the number was back up where it had been before. So the real percentage of her birth-weight loss was actually only 7%--well above average; it was such a relief to know that my mommy instincts were right about my little girl's health! Of course, it also made me even grouchier that the doctor would have just poured formula down my daughter's throat without even doing any rechecking or doing any other tests to figure out what the issue was. My mood got even worse when I explained to the nurse why I was frustrated with the pediatrician and she told us that, even if Ella had needed a little extra boost in calories, the hospital offers donor milk as long as we were still in the hospital. Really?! Why on earth didn't the doctor mention this? If Ella had really been in trouble, our first line of attack should have been to have me nurse more often to boost her weight. If that didn't work, our next option should have been to have a lactation consultant come in and work with me to see if we needed help with our latch. Next, we should have been offered donor breast-milk. The very last option is to supplement with formula, and I was furious that, without considering any better options for my baby, the doctor just automatically turned to the worst possible solution to a (fortunately) non-existent problem. I feel very fortunate that, instead of blindly following the advice of strangers, I followed what I knew in my heart to be right, and advocated for my daughter. My instincts were right, and she turned out to be healthy and growing right on track. We never saw the doctor again; I think she was a little ashamed to show her face in our hospital room. But we went home that day, as scheduled, and were greeted by a big family party celebrating Elizabeth's arrival! Welcome to Earth and to our family, baby girl! I love you so much!

Then and Now

The following pictures are from two of the best days of my life: the births of my two precious daughters. We got some really great pictures when Evie was born, and tried to get similar shots of Ella this time around. I'm sure we'll try to get similar pictures of all of our kids, turning these poses into a family tradition. These are the girls' close-ups. Honestly, I think they look pretty different. Sure, you can tell that they're sisters (especially when they make certain facial expressions), but they're definitely not clones of one another.
Evie had dark brown hair and those dark blue eyes that all babies are born with. However, her eyes quickly darkened until they turned dark brown, and her hair has gradually lightened to a dark blonde. Also, Evie has her Daddy's slightly darker complexion.
Ella has bright blue eyes and light brown hair. We're pretty sure that her eyes will stay light, either staying blue or turning green like mine, and we have no idea what her hair will do. Also, she seems to have my really fair complexion.
These are the "proud papa" shots: Todd holding each of his girls just minutes after they're born. If you look closely, you can see the happy tears in his eyes; I absolutely love these pictures!
Todd holding Evie for the very first time. He actually got to hold her before I did.
The doctor put Ella on my chest immediately after she was born, so Todd was a little more composed by the time he got to hold her. Not by much, though!
I really debated even posting these next two pictures because I prefer to be the one taking the pictures, rather than being the subject of them. Besides, nobody ever really looks good immediately after giving birth. However, since I posted "proud papa" pictures, I guess it's only fair to post the "proud mama" pictures too.
This is me in all my grunge...I mean glory. Even my baby had had a bath more recently than I had, and I felt very slimy and unattractive. Evie sure was cute, though!
This time, I made sure I had my makeup with me so I could feel a little bit better about letting Todd take pictures of me post-birth. Funnily enough, Ella is the slimy one in this picture!
These next couple were Todd's idea, and this is what I meant by family tradition. When Evie was born, he thought it would be fun to measure her against his hand to show how little she was. Then, when Ella was born only a couple of ounces bigger than her sister, he wanted to measure her in the same way. I think it's a really cute idea, and I'm glad he remembered to do it the second time around. 
Evie weighed 6 lbs, 3 oz when she was born, and measured 18 inches long.
Ella weighed 6 lbs, 6 oz when she was born, and measured 19 inches long.
I might love this next picture most of all. I love that they both have their eyes open so you can see the contrast in their coloring. But my favorite part is the idea that our girls are going to be best friends, and that their bond started in this one moment. I feel lucky that we caught it on camera!
My two precious girls, sharing a sweet moment of sisterly love.

Special Delivery #2

She's finally here! Our sweet little girl arrived at 10:29 am on July 2nd. She weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19 inches long. Having two little girls is lots of fun! Evie's birth story can be found here, but this is a record of Ella's birth story so that I can keep the details of both clear in my mind during the coming years.

During my previous two doctor appointments, Dr. Lamb and I had discussed possibly scheduling an induction. Todd didn't like that idea because he wanted our daughter to have as much time in my belly as she needed so she could be as healthy as possible when she finally decided to be born. My opinion was that, since I was induced with Evie, I kind of wanted to experience going into labor spontaneously. On the other hand, Todd's oldest brother and his family were in town for a week, and we wanted them to be able to meet their niece while they were here. We hadn't made up our minds yet, so the doctor tentatively scheduled an induction for Tuesday the 3rd of July, and we were supposed to check into the hospital at 9:00 pm on Monday the 2nd with our bags all packed so we could begin the process. He said he would check to see how progressed I was and would strip my membranes again if I wanted him to. Then, if we chose to go home and wait for labor to start on its own, we could. But if we chose to go ahead with the induction, we'd already have our time slot reserved at the hospital.

As it turned out, I started having contractions at 12:02 early Monday morning. At first they were sort of irregular and felt like menstrual cramps, and I was afraid they were the same Braxton Hicks contractions that I'd been experiencing off and on. 10 minutes later, at 12:12 am, they started to fit into a pattern, and I kept praying that they were the real thing. An hour later, at 1:12 am, I called the doctor's office to see if I should come into the hospital or stay home for awhile longer. The on-call doctor, Dr. Etten, asked how regular they were, and if this was my first child. When I told her that my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and this was my second baby, she told me to go ahead and hurry to the hospital. Remembering last time, I disobeyed her and took a quick shower first. Then I grabbed my computer, a book for Todd, and a box of granola bars; everything else was already in the car. I scarfed down a couple of granola bars on the way to the hospital so I wouldn't be as hungry this time around. We arrived at Sky Ridge Medical Center at around 2 am, and after spending several minutes being admitted, I was taken to room 2309 in the Labor/Delivery unit.

My nurse, Amber, checked me to see how progressed I was and to make sure my labor was the real thing. I was still 3 centimeters dilated, so she called in the doctor to help make a decision. Fortunately, by the time we arrived, the doctor that I'd been seeing for my entire pregnancy, Dr. Lamb, was the on-call doctor. He said that I was probably still in early labor, but since we were supposed to go back later that night anyway for our induction, it made sense to just keep us there and help the labor along. So I was hooked up to an IV of pitocin at 3:00 am to help make the contractions stronger. I was on the second lowest setting, only getting 2 mL an hour out of a possible 20, but apparently that was enough for me because I soon started having heavy contractions every three minutes and within an hour and a half, I was definitely hurting and ready for my epidural. At 4:30, the very kind anesthesiologist, Dr. Kim, gave me my epidural. It was different from last time: instead of rolling onto my side, he had me sit up to administer the medicine. Also, I didn't go completely numb from the waist down; I still had sensation, I just couldn't feel pain anymore. Although, my entire body immediately started to itch like crazy, which is a common side effect that's supposed to subside within a few hours. Mine didn't. I was itching clear until late that evening.

Ten minutes before the nurse shift change at 7 am, Dr. Lamb came in to check me again. I was still between 3 and 4 centimeters dilated, so he decided to break my water. Once again, I could feel the gush of fluid, but this time it came out clear, and I immediately dilated to 5 centimeters. My new nurse, Mary, came in at 8 to introduce herself, and because of how fast my labor with Evie went, I asked her to check me again. She said that they usually wait until 3 hours after breaking the water because usually not much changes in that time, but she checked me anyway and was surprised that I was already at 7 centimeters. She told me to call her if I felt any pressure, because my labor seemed to be moving quickly. Almost immediately after she left, I started having uncomfortable pressure in my bottom every three minutes, like I really needed to go to the bathroom.
However, I didn't want to bother her again so soon if it was just a false alarm, so I did my best to ignore it for another hour or so. At about 9:30, I asked Todd to check the monitor for me, and sure enough, the pressure was coming with every contraction. He told me to call the nurse, but I said that I would wait just a little longer so I could put on my makeup. He just rolled his eyes and went back to his book while I started getting ready for the pictures he would take of me holding my new baby. By this time, even through my epidural, the pressure was getting really intense and it took everything in me not to push.

Finally, my makeup in place, I called in the nurse just before 10:15 am. She checked me and found that I was fully dilated, so she put me in the stirrups and told me to give a practice push. I was so scared to, because it felt like my baby was right there, and that one push would be enough to bring her into the world, something I really didn't want to do without the doctor there. Mary called Dr. Lamb who was in his office. He told her that he had a woman in stirrups and was giving her an exam, and asked if I could wait. She said, "Well, I've got a woman here in stirrups, and I'm telling her not to push!" Apparently, that was enough, and he hurried over from the other wing of the hospital where his practice is located. He got to my room maybe 2 minutes later, still wearing his dress shirt and slacks. He asked the nurse if he had enough time to get changed into his scrubs, and she said yes. I remember looking at the light directly above my head and thinking to myself "I don't know if he does have time to change!" I somehow managed to hold on, though, and then he was there and we were ready. Again, I was kind of scared because, even though I'd given myself an extra shot of the epidural medicine, it hadn't had time to kick in yet, and while what I felt wasn't exactly pain, the pressure was intense enough that I was afraid of what it would feel like during the actual birth. Then the next contraction started, and I finally let my body take over. Since I wasn't completely numb like last time, I knew exactly when to push, and for how long. Instead of telling me when each contraction was starting, my nurse was asking me when one was starting and if I was ready to push some more.

It only took three contractions of three pushes each. Then there was one final moment that balanced perfectly on the edge between pressure and pain, during which the doctor told me to stop pushing so he could remove the cord that looped around her neck, but then it was over and my second daughter slid into the world at 10:29 am. Because my amniotic fluid had come out clear and we didn't have to worry about clearing meconium out of her nose, the doctor quickly wiped her off, then placed her directly on my belly like I'd asked. I stroked the still-sticky skin of my baby while the nurse draped a blanket over us to keep Ella warm. Still holding her, I felt one more contraction build, and, without being prompted, I pushed out the placenta. I remember absently noticing how gross it looked and being disgusted that some people will actually eat it. Then Dr. Lamb started stitching me up, and even though I could feel the needle, it didn't hurt, and my attention shifted back to my little girl. Nobody tried to take her from me to do any tests or anything until I was ready, so we just lay there skin-to-skin, getting to know each other. Finally, I let Todd hold her and we got all of the tests and measurements out of the way. There were several births that morning, and we had to wait while a room was cleaned and readied for us. While we waited, I nervously tried nursing Ella; to my joy, she took to it quickly and easily! Eventually, we were moved to room 2204 in the Mother/Baby unit.
Once there, I asked Todd to bring in my suitcase from the car, and we called everyone to let them know that Ella had arrived and was healthy.

I'm very impressed with what my body accomplished this time around. Despite the fact that I eventually ended up using pitocin, I feel that my labor still started on its own, and I'm content with that. Whereas with Evie, I was in active labor for only 5.5 hours, including an hour of pushing (which is excellent for a first birth!), with Ella, I was in active labor for only 3.5 hours, and I only pushed for 10-15 minutes before she was born. Evie's birth was amazingly easy and I didn't even feel her come out, but Ella's birth was empowering because I trusted my body to be in control the entire time. Apart from the itching, which lingered for several more hours, my body also reacted well with the epidural. I didn't throw up, and my body didn't freak out because it couldn't move. My body seemed to bounce back even more quickly than last time, and I only asked for pain medication whenever I nursed Ella, because nursing would help my uterus contract back to its original size, and the resulting cramps hurt. The mere fact that nursing went as well as it did also really impresses me, but there will be a separate post about that. To top things off, my weight is already back down to what it was before I was pregnant with Evie! All around, Ella's birth has been quite a special blessing in our lives!