April 10, 2013

A name for her

Knowing that my family was willing to murder us if we didn't check out the baby's junk, we said "yes" to the ultrasound technician when she asked us if we wanted to know what we were having. When it was finally known that we were, indeed, having a baby, and that this baby was going to be a girl, we were granted the gift of continuing our lives and we immediately went out and cleared Target of all the things.

When we revealed our intention to keep the baby's name a secret, we had no idea that we were going to be put on some people's shit-list. Apparently surprises are not appreciated when it comes to babies. I should have remembered this from my first pregnancy when we decided wait to see if our baby was a boy or a girl the moment it burst forth from my blessed womb as in days of old. Fair warning: that baby you are carrying is not your own. Or, at least, your friends and family will make you feel that way.

Regardless of whether we wanted to reveal our naming intentions, or not, we couldn't decide on a name either way. So we were as much in the dark as anyone else. We approached the name with two main goals: The middle name will be a hand-me-down name, as is our tradition*. And the first name will be an old fashioned type of name because this really appealed to me.

For me, the middle name came easy. I wanted to name one of my children after my brother. My brother is so special to me and our relationship continues to grow, year after year. I treasure him in a way I never imagined possible and I wanted to honor one of my children with such a special name. So I chose Ryan for her middle name and never looked back.

Eric and I developed a list of names and would email back and forth while he was at work, crossing off names we didn't care for and pleading our case for those names that we wanted to win:

cross off what you don't like and send back

finley (fair haired hero)
everly (nickname Evie)
violet (purple)
clara (bright, clear)
lucy (light)
ramona (wise protector)
jane (god's gracious gift)
elodie (marsh flower)
mabel (lovable)
ivy (plant name)
poesy (poetry)
virginia (virginal)
Elowen (elm) nickname- Ellie, Wennie

 finley (fair haired hero) no
everly (nickname Evie) I like Evie but not Everly
violet (purple) I like Violet
clara (bright, clear) Clara is good. 
lucy (light) As a middle name maybe.
ramona (wise protector) Maybe.
jane (god's gracious gift) I don't know, because my old boss ruined this for me otherwise I might like it.
elodie (marsh flower) Meh
mabel (lovable) I kind of like Mabel
ivy (plant name) Ivy isn't too bad
poesy (poetry) Maybe not
virginia (virginal) MAYBE as a middle name, I don't know.
Elowen (elm) nickname- Ellie, Wennie  This one is alright.

How about Parker? 

I don't like parker. I'm pretty set on Ryan as a middle name. I would like you to send me a short list of names that you really like and I'll veto the ones I'm not fond of as well. Then we can have a short list of names for when we are at the hospital. I'm going to leave Ramona on the maybe list because I feel like it may be one of those names that grows on you AND that it could be a name that you have to see the baby to feel it's a good fit, if that makes sense. I'm not a fan of Evie and I think I'm liking Ivy less and less as well. They both sound like initial nicknames like DJ. IV, EV. You know what I mean?
Also, I do like Elowen, came across it last night, but maybe it's too fancy/fantasy world sounding for my taste. What do you think?

So first names that we can decide on when we see her:


Beside the ones you sent..


I wasn't really thinking of these names that much, just ones that I found that initially sounded decent.

Okay, of those four I like Juliet and possibly Maisie. Clementine is cute, it's definitely becoming a trendy, hipster name though.

Ok, that's fine. 

So, the list we brought to the hospital was:

We were adamant about not sharing ANY names with anyone. I didn't want anyone to have any input on the names we were even considering because I know myself too well and know that I would take everyone's opinions in and let them take over. I am working very hard on not being such a people-pleaser! I had to remind Eric several times that we weren't telling anyone ANYTHING! I still wonder if he was discussing things behind my back. He just cannot keep a secret! As far as I know, he didn't. One day, on his death bed, he'll probably reveal to me that he was asking everyone's opinions on every name we considered. 

I really thought that I was going to go with Ramona or Mabel. I just imagined a dark haired, dark eyed little girl in my arms and Ramona was going to be written all over her sweet little face. I wasn't as smitten with Mabel but the name means "lovable" and, I mean, come on...  how precious is that?

After Baby Girl was born I went to take a shower and while I was in the bathroom Eric came in to talk about the name. While I was showering I had felt very struck by the name Violet, which was really not what I was expecting at all! I thought the name was sweet and I liked that it was a family name (Eric's grandmother), but I hadn't felt in love with it. For some reason though, that little baby just looked like a Violet to me! I was drying off and Eric said to me, "So, I've been thinking about the name and I think I like Violet."

I smiled, and let out a little laugh. I was so surprised and, as usual, in awe of the connection we have. I told him that I felt the same and thus, a sweet little Violet brought joy and beauty into the world. We took great pleasure in announcing the name, first to Eric's parents and sister and our other children who were in the room (not the bathroom, cause... gross). Then to my parents, and finally to my brother and his wife. 

I'm so glad we kept out naming process secret. I'm so happy that we waited to choose her first name. It was such a unique experience for us and I loved the feeling of certainty that came with our selection. I highly recommend it! We are so in love with our darling Violet Ryan.

* Jenna Noelle was named for my high school best friend and maid-of-honor, Stephanie Noelle. Marah Sue was named for my Aunt Carla Sue who had been a hugely special person in my life. Alexander Eric was, of course, named for his daddy.

April 9, 2013

Where New Life Begins

Before I begin my last birth story I just want to say that I am wanting to start posting on my blog again more regularly but I am doing it on my own terms. I've spent so many years writing for other people. Writing to try to make other people happy. That may seem strange but it's the truth. I'm done with that. I'm writing for me and I'm writing for my children. What I write is for us. I'm sharing it because I hope that someone else might find value in my words but mostly it's for us. If you don't care for my language, I understand. I also don't care. Like I said, these are my words and they're for us. Having said that, I hope you enjoy the birth story of my fourth child.

Friday, April 5, 2013
The day begins like any other- a husband waking early to head to work, Alex's footfalls shaking the house as he runs through the living room, bursting through my bedroom door, exclaiming "I have to go potty!" My sleepy shuffle to the living room where I turn on the tv for Alex and then shuffle back to bed to hope for contractions that seem to come daily but tend to fade by lunch time.
Today I lie in wait for these cramping sensations and, as usual, am greeted with that strange, foreign feeling in my belly. I roll over and grab my phone to turn on the contraction timer app I downloaded a few weeks ago. I've been using it religiously each morning but typically give up after a few hours of no progress. For the last five or six days I've thought labor was imminent. For the last five or six days I've been sadly mistaken.
This day the contractions begin as before but by lunch I'm still feeling them and they are starting to be more uncomfortable. The obligatory text to Eric goes out but I assure him that I'm in no way certain at this point. The contractions begin in my belly but send up a wave of discomfort all the way to my sternum (a word I learned, and heard too often, in choir). The pain is quite unnerving and reminds me of the terrible gall bladder attacks I experience during my first pregnancy. Gall bladder having been removed several years ago, I'm even more unsettled about what the pain could be coming from. It confuses me at this point and leads me to doubt whether I am really in labor.
Eric reveals that he has called his parents to let them know what's happening and they are planning to head down after work. I know they are trying to be helpful but it causes me a bit of stress because I now feel pressured to hurry up and have this baby. Ever the people-pleaser.
By nightfall there has been no progress but the contractions keep coming. A full day of pain behind me and no real end in sight. The idea of trying to sleep through this pain is ridiculous.We stay up late, watching a movie that I can no longer remember. I paid little attention anyway. The pain in my chest becomes so intense that I vomit in a bowl in the living room. I spend most of the movie time standing against a wall because it seems to relieve a bit of the pain.
Finally I decide to go to bed. I don't sleep much. I'm just completely miserable. It is the pain that will not end. And still my contractions are much too far apart to head to the hospital.

Saturday, April 6th, 2013
By morning I am close to tears. I take a long, hot shower and start to get dressed. My in-laws arrive and Terri comes to check up on me. I have my heart set on spending as little time in the hospital in labor as possible. I want to stay in my home. I don't want to be pressured into labor intervention or induction of any kind. My goal is a completely natural birth. Eric and Terri feel like it's best for me to go in and be checked and at this point I am ready to give in.
We pack up and head out. Dick takes the kids out for breakfast and Eric, Terri, and I head to the hospital where we get settled in to my room. The room is nice and there is a huge shower with two sprayers and a comfortable bed with a Tempurpedic topper. Eric has a fold out sofa bed for rooming in with me. I am given the third degree with nearly a hundred questions by the sweet nurse and hooked to a monitor. I am internally examined at this time but am only dilated to two centimeters but baby's head has engaged so things are looking good even if they are going a bit slow. I am discouraged by how little I have dilated after being in labor for 24 hours but I am feeling positive about what is to come.
After the monitor is going for about 30 minutes there is a dip in the heartbeat. The dip is pretty low and happens a few times so the doctor comes in to speak with me about my options. I'm incredibly irritated by how quickly he seems prepared to give up on my body's ability to birth this baby naturally. This is exactly what I was afraid of happening when I got to the hospital and it didn't surprise me in the least. For the first time in my four pregnancy history I feel prepared to debate the doctor.
He tells me that he is concerned that the baby is in distress. He wants me to progress quickly so that the baby can come out. He recommends a Pitocin drip to make my contractions stronger so that I will dilate more quickly. He also wants to break the bag of waters. Of course, I think this is ridiculous and know that if the baby is in distress, Pitocin is only going to put more stress on her and the likelihood of ending up on an operating table is much higher. I tell him that I want to break the water but hold off on Pitocin for awhile. I want to see if breaking the water speeds up labor without drugs. He agrees to my plan and hurries off. He's always in a rush. He never looks at me, choosing to direct his questions and recommendations to Eric. I can't stand him. I refuse to let him bully me. I express my dislike to Eric and he agrees.
My water is broken and it is tinged green. Baby decided to take a dump in my body. How nice. I now have the pleasure of seeing a green puddle in my bed each time I get up to use the bathroom. The nurses keep cleaning it up but it's the flow that won't quit. I don't pretend to not see it. I enjoy making a joke about the embarrassment of bodily fluids.
With no more water to float in, baby seems more determined to make her debut. My contractions intensify and grow more and more steady. Panting and moaning and wincing and groaning and all those beautiful labor noises increase. The monitor shows baby's heart rate slowing only when I'm lying on my back (hm... imagine that! The back is not the best position to labor in. It's as if modern birthing practices have it wrong! Who knew? *eye roll*). I turn to my side and all is right with the world again.
The nurse recommends I sit on the big labor ball. I pop a squat on that thing and start to feel my body falling into a rhythm. It knows what it's doing. I just have to wait for it to go through the motions. The pain increases several more notches and I feel like pushing time is nearly here.
I climb back into bed because, let's face it, I'm more bold than ever before but not bold enough to request an alternative birthing position. I tell the nurse I want to push and the doctor is called in. The room preparation dance begins as nurses grab blankets and turn on the baby warmer, the bed is pulled apart and stirrups are put into place. A respiratory team is called in on the chance that baby aspirates on the dirty amniotic fluid. An intern looms in the corner, watching me pitifully wail and scream and writhe in pain. I am offered some pathetic drug to ease the pain a bit. My will is weak at this point and I cannot refuse. I wish I had not been offered. It's as if I'm being given a final test in this adventure and I fail. I push my disappointment in myself to a recessed corner of my mind and emerge ready to take on this thing called birth.
My eyes are clamped shut at this point and I can sense everything and everyone in the room but I am trying so hard to focus on the task at hand. I start pushing only to feel the doctors hand barge into my nether regions and start digging his fingers around what I can only assume is baby's head. It's completely unexpected and I feel so angry and violated I yell at him. "That hurts! What is that?!" It's his hand, he tells me. "Jesus Christ! Get it out!"
I'm screaming. I get the sense that I'm shitting all over the table. I feel so glamorous. I just want it to be over. I'm crying. "I don't want to do this anymore!" I feel so small and so ridiculous in this moment. Then I feel that it's nearing the end. One last push, not nearly so painful this time, and then the slippery, slimy sensation of a big bubble and then leggy limbs bursting from my body. Small and ridiculous is replaced with mighty and powerful in one instant.
Squalling, bloody baby girl is placed on my chest and I cannot even enjoy the moment because "Stupid" (I'm calling the doctor "Stupid" now, fyi) down there won't give me a second to breath and relax. He's pushing on my belly and the placenta is expelled. I'm shaking and in pain and so damn tired I just want them to take baby girl away because I'm afraid that I'll drop her. I tell someone to take her and she is gone. "Stupid" starts randomly poking me with a needle to numb me up so he can stitch up my torn perineum. A small tear that likely would have healed on its own. Oh, the needle hurts! He must jab me four or five times before he immediately starts in with the stitches. Seriously, why the hell is this guy in such a rush and why the fuck did he decide to be an OBGyn? "Ouch! That really hurts!" I cry out. He jabs me a few more times with anesthetic. The stitches still hurt but they're bearable, so I just suffer through it. I really just want this douche bag out of my room.
Now that I'm feeling up for it, I ask for baby girl. She is laid upon my chest and I am finally able to enjoy her. Doing what comes naturally, we settle in for our first feeding and all is perfect and beautiful in the world again. I stare at her tiny features, write them upon the walls of my memory. I never want to leave this moment in time. I marvel at how she seems to know that her place is with me. She watches me with wondering eyes, her first attachment synapses firing. It's a love created in the bonds of maternity. Forged in the depths of my womb. I feel so primal, so connected to a long line of ancestors in this ritual of birth. Much has changed over time but the beauty of bringing new life into the world remains the same. These first precious moments are imprinted upon us. They are life changing. No matter how many times you go through it, you are changed in new ways each time.
So here I am again; a new mother learning and growing and finding my way along this path of new discoveries.