Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Here's my story.

Wednesday, September 23rd was my due date, and I was so certain that I would go into labor early that I was seriously bummed when I woke up Wednesday morning and nothing had happened. Dan had been asking me every morning, "Nothin' cookin'?" when he left for work in the morning (well, actually, he would say Nothin' to-tin? like the way Jenna would say it) and every morning I would dejectedly say no... nothing was happening. Michaela was home from school sick (but not really ill) for two days and it was a real blessing as she is good company and she helped distract me from my own self. So we went to the mall each day and shopped for Christmas outfits. Because isn't that what EVERY 40 weeks pregnant woman does in September??? (Side note: we bought gorgeous three-child coordinated outfits at Gymboree on Wednesday morning.)

I had an OB appointment that afternoon and valiantly tried to think of anything- ANYTHING- I could do to bribe my doctor to induce me. At one point I told him, "I make REALLY good chocolate chip cookies!" and without missing a beat, he looked up at me, raised one eyebrow and replied, "How about oatmeal raisin?" And I told him I could do those equally well.

"It just doesn't work well to induce if nothing is happening... the labor and delivery can get long and complicated," he said.
"PLEASE don't bog me down with DETAILS!!" I replied, but indicated that I understood completely what he was saying.

But then he looked at my elevated blood pressure, my incredibly puffy legs, and checked me: I was 2-3 cm dilated. He asked how the baby was moving around and I truthfully told him that the baby was much quieter the last day or so, so much so that I almost called the on-call doctor the night before to make sure things were a-okay. The OB wanted to do a non-stress test and after he saw the results of that, he announced, "Well, you're getting your wish! Show up at 7am tomorrow morning to be induced."
And sweeter words I had not heard in many, many months. It was like a tremendous weight was lifted off my shoulders.

We showed up at 7am the next morning and I did my usual, "Uhhh... I'm here to have my baby" statement to the nurses. They were so packed on the unit that there were no rooms available for me to be in. They put me in a post- delivery room, where a sign stating We care about the health of you and your baby! Wash your hands thoroughly! taunted me the whole time we waited. All I wanted to to get things started and hold my little boy and have it all be over with.

We read the paper. We filled out paperwork. I read a People magazine. All three doctors from the OB practice wandered in and out. A very nervous looking third year medical student came in and asked me how painful my contractions were. "Not very," I replied. "I'm not in labor- I'm here to be induced." "Oh," he replied and looked visibly relieved.

Finally at 12:30pm a room was ready and they wheeled me into the room where my baby would come into the world. Dr. B broke my water and my contractions started coming pretty soon and strong after that. The pitocin was started. We talked about my pain control plan, which was to replicate as much as possible Jenna's birth experience, which was terrifically empowering and fast and generally fabulous. I didn't have an epidural with her, instead got some short-acting drugs in my IV and then fell asleep while I dilated. I woke up and pushed her out in four contractions. I was looking to do the same with Alec.

So about an hour into the whole process I got my first dose of pain meds and it just did not cut the pain like it did with Jenna. After two more hours, I was progressing beautifully but was starting to panic about how much it hurt. I asked for something- anything- to help with my pain control and was offered an epidural, which I knew would not come to fruition: I was too far along, too close to delivery, and likely unable to tolerate sitting up and staying still as someone fiddled with my spinal column. I settled for another dose of the same pain meds which they hustled off to get for me.

At about the 4pm mark, the room was quiet, Dan was standing next to me and I was sweating, yelling during every contraction and in the throws of painful labor. I was checked by a resident, who declared me 8 cm dilated and then about 10 minutes later Dr. B checked me and said I was only 6 cm. And that's when I lost it. Because 8 cm is a lot closer to delivery than 6 cm.

But I needn't have worried because a few minutes after that, I started to have to push. Not like, "Oh, I'm feeling pressure down there and think pushing would be a good idea" but more like "Parts of my body are convulsing on their own and I'm just letting you know that very soon a baby will be coming out." Dan called for a nurse and immediately the room was filled with the doctor who started barking orders at the six or seven nurses who came into the room.

As I roared like a lion from the pain, I felt the amazing journey my baby was taking: I FELT his head start down the birth canal, felt all the pushing and shoving my body was doing all on its own. And as I screamed, "HIS HEAD IS COMING OUT!" the only comfort I felt was knowing that very, very soon this would be all over and my baby would be born.

And it was just like Jenna's birth. I went from 6 to 8 to 10 cm and then, after an incredibly breath-takingly painful few minutes that I will never forget nor cease to remind Dan about for the rest of our married life, our beautiful son Alec John Libutti made his debut into the world. It was exactly four hours from start to finish. I have never been so glad that something was over in my whole life.

"Is it a boy? Is it a boy?" I kept asking over and over, because while I could sense that everything was fine with me and the baby, no one was saying anything. Dr. B started fixing me up (if you know what I mean) and the nurses started doing all the stuff they do to newborns.

I had finally gotten my second dose of the pain meds 10 minutes before I delivered, which did little to cut my pain during delivery but instead hit me afterwards and made me groggy. "Danny! Get the camera out! Take some pictures!!!" I told him.

That's when one of the nurses said, "He's a big baby!" and I whipped my head to to the right, trying to look at him for myself. "I bet he's over 9 pounds!" What?? Over 9 pounds??? That was so different than the 7-8 pound prediction that had been repeatedly told to me leading up to delivery. If I had known he was going to be that big, I probably would have opted for the epidural from the start. Because what kind of freak wants to deliver a 9 lb, 3 oz baby without great and total pain control??

I guess freaks like me, who somehow find value in the experience of going through labor and delivery doing the work, feeling the pain, and almost weeping with relief when it is all over. I still don't know exactly why I chose to go this route, but I did- and planned to since the beginning of the pregnancy- and I'm glad in a way, though it did really wear me out for the next few days.

Quick, dirty and painful: a four hour time period that changed our lives forever for the better.

And that's my story.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The first few days.

We are home.
We are doing great. Alec is, so far, remarkably easy: eats every few hours, sleeps most of the time, and every once in a while opens his eyes and stares at us. The girls are adjusting pretty well and are great helpers.
I am recovering very slowly from the whole process; I feel a little more worn out than I did after having the girls. I am trying to rest as much as possible in between feedings and Dan has been a tremendous help with just about everything. I will post later about the whole labor and delivery process, because who doesn't LOVE to tell their labor and delivery horror stories?? Just let me leave you with these two facts and you'll get a good flavor: 1) He was 9 pounds, 3 ounces and 22 inches long and 2) I did not have an epidural. Oh, yeah... it was all au natural.

Here are some pictures from the last few days.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Baby Boy Libutti

We joyfully announce the birth of Alec John Libutti on September 24, at 4:32pm. He weighed 9lbs 3 oz. Baby and Mom are doing great!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part II

This summer I did a lot of work at my house, mostly sorting and reorganizing things. Sometimes it was fun and sometimes it was kind of boring.
A big project I worked on was the playroom. I moved lots of toys down there, organized all my craft supplies, and made some room so Jenna could move into Michaela's room. I am glad that project is over.

We put new shelves in the playroom closet and I put almost everything into plastic bins. Dan was very afraid that I was going to put him into a plastic bin, too.

All my sewing supplies, fabric and notions... out of ghetto plastic bags and into nice neat plastic shoeboxes.

The wall of shelves in the playroom: toys on the bottom, DVDs, CDs, boxes to hold the girls' schoolwork, and picture albums at the top.

Another big project I worked on was getting the room ready for the baby. I really love the new baby's room.

Out with the pink and green... in with the blue. Michaela loved painting!

Now we are ready for fall.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part I

By: Cheryl Libutti

(written in the spirit of most back-to-school elementary age essays about summer vacation)

I had a great summer. I did lots of crafts. I love doing crafts, especially sewing and scrapbooking. Most of what I did was to help get ready for the baby. The baby is due to be born tomorrow, but may not come tomorrow. The baby will come when he is ready. I am ready for the baby to be born. I am tired of being pregnant.

Here are some pictures of what I did.
Because I am filled with Crazy Mommy Hormones, I redid Michaela and Jenna's baby photo albums. Because I am a little obsessive, I redid the front covers and personalized the spines. I also bought a matching album for the new baby, which is blue and green. I like the new albums and so do they.
I made a deluxe baby wipes holder...
... to match the jaunty new diaper bag I bought myself. I love toile.
I washed and folded all the unisex infant clothes I have from the girls. They are ready to be worn by the next baby.
I shopped, shopped, and shopped some more for blue and brown clothes for the baby to wear. I really like shopping for baby clothes. I also bought new Big Sister shirts for the girls.
I sewed my own waterproof changing table pads.
I sewed some pillows for the baby's room. I helped Michaela sew a little stuffed animal for her baby brother.
I sewed lots of new, soft baby blankets and put love into every stitch. Some are flannel, some are minky, and some are fleece.
Coming up next: the nursery, the girl's room and the playroom reorganization.

Friday, September 18, 2009

First Day of School: Preschool Edition

Today was Jenna's first full morning of preschool in the big 4 year old class. She sported a new dress and leggings, and carried a toy cell phone, Barbie compact, and a tube of Princess chapstick in her pocket. Just in case.

'Cause a girl's got to be prepared for anything preschool may throw at her.

She had a great morning, as did I: I spent the time getting a massage, eating a hot blueberry bagel and reading the newspaper uninterrupted.

Doing her job of the day: watering plants

In front of her cubby

Jenna and Mrs. Glaser

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Who Knew?

Who knew that 14 years ago this evening, a chance chain of events would lead me to be at a party at a filthy student housing apartment on Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh?

Who knew that I would meet a tall, quiet, dark haired guy in the hallway of that apartment?

Who knew that I would spend the next year of my life trying to convince him to be with me forever?

Who knew that he would be so eager to be convinced?

Who knew that 13 months later we'd get married?

Who knew that we'd get along so well, have the same sense of humor, get through rough patches relatively unscathed, and build a warm, happy life together?

Who knew we'd make such beautiful daughters together and love them so much it hurt?

Who knew that 14 years later, I would be swollen with his third baby and first son who could make his debut at any moment?

Who knew that it would all work out so well?

God did.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Math and Milestones.

I have been a parent now for almost 8 years. Not the longest tenure, for sure, but a good enough chunk of time to feel like I've got some experience under my belt. I've witnessed milestones in not just one but two children: crawling, walking, talking, growing, going to some types of organized activities and school. I feel I've looked at most with a sense of celebration, not sadness, except for a few notable moments: getting used to Michaela being gone from me all day those first few weeks of first grade, and when she lost her front teeth.

The first I think bothered me because I felt like it was the beginning of Michaela having a life outside of what I have constructed for her, full of people and tasks and interactions that I was not supervising nor even part of. She was beginning to construct a life away from me and enjoy her own set of experiences. This is a huge step for a mom, especially a first-time mom, who has carefully orchestrated every moment of the last five years so that needs are met, hurts are minimal, and plenty of fun has been had by all. And, of course, the somewhat crushing realization that this separation of experiences was only going to continue from that point forward. All I would know what was she chose to share with me, a mommy eager and hungry for my baby girl to be healthy in every way and happy.

The second- losing the baby teeth- was much more concrete: it was changing the look of my little girl. The Michael Strahan-type space between her long-awaited front teeth, which charmed me from their first appearance, was suddenly gone, replaced by a gaping hole that would be filled with brand new adult sized teeth. Her smile was different, her face was different and it took me months to get used to glancing at her and seeing something other than the reliable space and those neatly arranged little baby teeth.

And yesterday I had a third Moment of Monumental Importance, and again it was a mundane-type event that just struck at my heart. Michaela is working out of a Textbook for math this year as opposed to a workbook, and I can assure you that everytime she says the word Textbook, she says it as though it starts with a capital letter. Maybe ALL CAPS. This is a BIG DEAL. This is what the BIG KIDS use in school.

The Textbook needed a cover, even, and we had to go out last week one evening because my TEXTBOOK NEEDS to be COVERED, MOM!! And I had poignant flashbacks of my own grandmother spending hours- HOURS- of her life when I was in school, sitting at our kitchen table carefully covering all of my Textbooks from school with brown grocery bags. Each one was perfectly done, with exact right angles on the inside, exactly even sides, and taped together within an inch of its life. I'm honestly not sure how my covers came off at the end of the school year. And for all my embracing of the domestic arts that my grandmother instilled in me, for every Christmas dress I've sewn, every meal I've cooked from scratch, every homemade craft I've done, I am somewhat of a cop-out failure in the book covering department: we just went to Staples and bought a Book Sock brand cover, which proudly displayed a message on the inside back cover of "Don't Drink and Drive!" which I think is kind of funny. I mean, if your tendency is to go out and get bombed this weekend with some friends, I doubt the little message in your school Textbook book cover is going to be the reminder you needed to designate a sober driver. But maybe not. Maybe that Book Sock message is saving lives.

But I digress.

The point is Michaela is doing math problems out of her Textbook and arrived home yesterday with the results of her first math assignment. It was written on a piece of loose leaf paper, wide ruled, with her name printed neatly at the top, the date underneath it, and the assignment (Pg. 5, #1-12) written below that. And neatly numbered on the side of the paper, as evenly spaced as those precious baby teeth, were twelve perfectly done math problems each with a little star next to it marking it as correct.

I was just blown away.

It was so grownup, so school-age looking, so different than the colorful pictures and counting groups that usually make an appearance on her math worksheets. A true milestone. And seeing her name, neatly written at the top: it's what you imagine when you are pregnant, sitting on the couch with a baby name book, half-watching tv, contemplating all the various names for your baby before they are born. How does it sound? What would it look like written down?

How will it look when he or she writes it on top of a 3rd grade math assignment paper?

Beautiful. Neat.



Monday, September 14, 2009

Two-Wheeler Triumph

After much cajoling, encouraging, begging, and convincing by us, Michaela decided to give two-wheeling a try and let Dan take her training wheels off. She took right to it and is now a bike ridin' maven. We are now one step closer to the soon-to-be five of us going on some kind of biking vacation (okay, it's a little step, but a step nonetheless), like bringing our bikes to the Cape and hitting the Rail Trail as a family.

Here's some video for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last Licks of Summer.

At Hoffman's Playland

At the new playground at Michaela's school

Some of my favorite pictures from the last few weeks, when we soaked up sun and warmth and fun like madwomen.
It was a great, great, great summer with the girls.

PS- 3rd grade is a BIG hit. Her teacher started the school year by handing out Smarties candies: brilliant move on her part.
Michaela has told both Dan and I that she wishes school started at 1am and lasted until midnight. I told her I'd miss her too much and she rolled her eyes and smiled at me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day of School: Third Grade Edition

The Third Grader and the 4-Year Old Preschooler

The new sneakers

The new backpack

Today was the big day: return to school for the Miminator.
We have been trying to get her to bed a little earlier the last few days, since she's been sleeping in until 9am and her bus comes at 8:54am. But we needn't have worried, as she was up and dressed by 7:35am this morning.
Who's ready to go back?

We spent the remaining time doing a fresh french manicure on her nails (because, let's face it, a girl's gotta look good for her first day of THIRD GRADE), straightening her hair, packing her backpack with her lunch, water bottle, and back-to-school forms, showing off her new sneakers, and fielding an early-morning good luck call from Uncle Brian.
Dan went in late to work so he could witness the whole event.
Jenna was also getting ready for her orientation day today (just 20 minutes to pick out her cubby, get her picture taken and generally re-acclimate to preschool), and running up and down the hall in her new sneakers. She seemed very excited to know that next year she'll be getting on the bus with Sissy to go to all-day kindergarten. Thank goodness I'll have the baby boy to keep me from falling apart.
We went outside a little early to take some pics, and then right on time her bus pulled up- good ol' Route 5 bus- with Shawn at the wheel, just like last year. We were thrilled: he's an AWESOME bus driver. And Michaela jumped on, smiling, ready, and excited.

She's a third grader now.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fresh Fruit, Full Moons, and False Alarms.

What a weekend we had.
Our former Pastor and his wife Linda, whom we love like they were our own parents, came up to visit this weekend from Virginia. We spent lots of time with them and even did a little early-fall apple picking, capped off with apple cider donuts for the kids and big kids. It was absolutely delicious spending time with them.

On Saturday, in the evening, we were sitting around my parents' pool, talking and laughing, when I realized that I was having contractions. Like, pretty regularly. So I said, "I don't mean to alarm anyone, but I'm having lots of contractions and they're starting to be kind of uncomfortable." We started timing them and they were only about 6-8 minutes apart. I called the doctor, who, based on my previous experiences of pushing out babies in about 10 minutes, thought it would be prudent to get checked out at the hospital.

Such excitement! I've never rushed to the hospital, because I've never gone into labor on my own and have only been induced, which begins with a rather anti-climactic waltzing arrival to the labor and deliver unit desk and announcing, "Uhhh... I'm here to have my baby."

I was super excited with the idea of having the baby when Pastor and Linda were here, and promised them I would do all I could to have the baby this weekend. (They were my first visitors at the hospital when I had Michaela, so there was a whole nostalgia angle as well.) We all agreed that the full moon lighting up the night sky would only help our cause. So you can imagine our collective anticipation as we left: Dan thrilled to be finally doing a "I'm rushing my wife to the hospital, Officer... she's in LABOR!" ride; I thrilled that the pregnancy may possibly be over and get to meet our little man; my family thrilled about getting a new grandchild, and Pastor and Linda being here to witness the whole thing.
But, alas, it was not meant to be.
I got into a room, got hooked up to the monitors, and signed some paperwork. (One of the consents was whether we wanted to hospital or our pediatrician to give the baby the first dose of a hepatitis vaccine. Ummmm... yeah: I have no idea. We decided to trust the NYS Department of Health's recommendation that the baby get it in the hospital within 12-24 hours of birth. But really? I can't imagine being in REAL LABOR and having to make that decision.) We watched the numbers on the computer screen which showed the baby's heartrate and tracked my contractions. The contraction pattern of the woman who was setup in the room before me was still on the screen, and it was obvious from the giant peaks and prolonged plateaus of her contractions that she was clearly giving birth. Dan looked at those and compared them to my little blips of contractions.
"Harumph!" says Dan. "Yours are nothing compared to that lady's contractions!"
"Dan," I stated as patiently and calmly as I could, "my contractions barely even hurt at this point. She was, I would guess, a little further along in the process than I am now."
Men. Harumph.
After awhile a midwife came in and checked me and announced that nothin' was goin' on up there and I could go home.

But it was a good refresher on the whole process and all our paperwork is on file for a month so we don't have to sign papers/ answer questions/ give medical history if I show up to deliver for real before October 5th. Which seems like FOREVER FROM NOW but remember: Michaela was also due on September 23rd and didn't arrive until 15 days later on October 8th.
But really: who wants to deal with a woman on her third baby who is 15 DAYS over her due date?? I have said many times that you can do that to someone on their first baby, but I am waaaay too savvy now to let that foolishness happen again.
I don't care WHO I have to beg for pitocin.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Checking In.

No, I have not disappeared to have the baby. He is still safely enclosed in my belly.

It was a hectic week- not doing really much of anything except soaking up gorgeous weather and watching my ankles swell- and we have visitors in town this weekend.
Dan and I are going to a wedding this morning followed by a brunch. I've known the bride since fifth grade. :)
My OB appointment this week was thoroughly unremarkable. Only point of interest was that the midwife thinks the baby is average sized, and will be between 7-8 pounds at birth. That was good to hear... though I'm still not convinced that he will not be 25 inches long. All systems are go.
Dan took Thursday and Friday off, making a 5 day weekend for himself, and we are all off kilter from the change in routines and schedule.
Back to school for Michaela in three days. We are still working on getting her to bed at a decent time. She met her teacher on Thursday afternoon and she is young and pretty and it seems like a very nice class filled with good kids. She is not terribly excited about returning to school, saying she'll miss being home with us. And the feeling is mutual: she takes good care of Jenna and I.
Enjoy the weekend!