Thursday, January 31, 2008

Grady's Birth Story - Part 1

On Easter Sunday, April 20, 2003, we found out that I was pregnant. It was perfect really, to find out on Easter. I had had that miscarriage in December with my first pregnancy. So, I just thought it was really cool to find out on Easter...the whole new birth, restoration, new life thing. We found out in Las Vegas...we had gone there for a little late celebration of our anniversary.

The pregnancy went very well. I gained a total of 55 pounds (jaw-drop)! I started really showing around 18-20 weeks and wearing maternity clothes then...even wore some maternity pants before then. I had always had a pretty flat belly and was so not used to my pants touching me there on my belly. It was such a weird feeling that I just had to go buy some bigger pants. So I haven't had that "loose" feeling in my jeans for a while. :-)

I had lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions all throughout the pregnancy. In fact, right around the time I was 20 weeks I also started having them so much and they were so strong that I would have to stop what I was doing. Of course they are nowhere near the labor contractions, but they are still strong (have had them with all my pregnancies, but Grady's was the strongest...then again, I had never felt that either, so it may be that I'm just more used to it now).

We had decided before I found out I was pregnant that we would use a nurse midwife. The doctor I had with the first pregnancy (and she did my D&C) was fine, but just not what we wanted. I did some research and we went to an orientation meeting at the birth center. We knew after that that a midwife was the way to go for us. We chose the birth center though...didn't even think about homebirth at that point. It was great. I loved having a midwife taking care of me.

My due date was December 21st. It came and went. Christmas and New Year’s came and went. Finally on January 2nd I woke up having contractions every 7 minutes. They started out pretty strong and I was convinced we would have a short labor. I had seen Connie, our midwife at Bethany Birth Center, about a week and a half earlier. I wasn’t dilated at all at that point, but I was 70% effaced and the baby’s head was at Station 0. My labor started at 7am. I was able to still walk around, but had to just pause when a contraction came. By 10:30am they were getting a little stronger. From the start my contractions lasted about a minute and a half. I went in to the birthing center at around 10:30 or 11am. I was only 1 cm dilated! It was very discouraging. (picture taken early that morning, about an hour into labor)

So, we headed back home, stopping at Wendy’s to eat a salad and frosty of course. :-) I was hurting, but not too bad to eat part of a frosty, come on now (ha ha ha). I would just stop what I was doing when a contraction came. Anyhow, went home and labored on the couch until my contractions were coming 2-3 minutes apart consistently. I was very uncomfortable. I didn’t go into this labor with any sort of plan. I was winging it. Unfortunately, the way I deal with pain is that I hold my breath and tense up every muscle in my body. Of course that just completely works against what your body is needing to do. (picture: so very tired...and uncomfortable on the couch)

It was around 6pm by this point and Joel called the midwife on call to tell her about my contractions. My midwife was on vacation. She had told us when she was going to be out and we, of course, thought surely we'd have had the baby by then. Ahh, little babies and their own agendas. :-) She usually delivers all her clients’ babies, but her son was getting married the next day (the day Grady was actually born), so it was understandable that she wasn’t there. Sad though. Anyhow, while Joel was on the phone with the midwife on call (Suzanne), I vomited. Ugh. Not my favorite thing to do. But, Suzanne heard me in the background and said that it was a good sign (it's a sign of being in transition...8-10cm...about to push). She said to go ahead and go get checked out.

We drove to the birthing center, almost getting into an accident on the way (two cars right in front of us had a wreck). The drive was so horrible (another good reason to have a homebirth :-) ). Got there and got checked. I WAS ONLY 2-3CM DILATED! "What?!?!?!?!?" I wanted to scream. 12 hours of consistent and strong contractions (I never do that whole thing where you have contractions every 30 minutes for a while, then every 15 minutes, etc....don't clean my house to pass the time, etc....when it starts, it's on) and only 2-3cm dilated? And what about the vomit? Hadn't she heard me vomit? Vomit was supposed to mean I was at least 8cm. Hello. It was a horrible disappointment. I had 2 choices...go home and labor some more or walk around for an hour or so and see if I had progressed. We went outside to walk. The contractions were coming fast and hard. I was gagging. Between gags, I told Joel, “I don’t think I can do this.”

We went to the hospital. If I had been ready to deliver by this point...or if I had even been at least 7cm dilated or something...then I think I could’ve done it. But, only 2-3 cm after 12 hours of steady, painful contractions...I knew I couldn’t do it anymore.

I finally made it to the labor and delivery floor after some confusion about our insurance. It was like something in the movies. They wheeled me up immediately while Joel stayed downstairs to do the paperwork and insurance stuff. When I got up there, they had called from downstairs to say that I couldn't be take me back down. I got back down and Joel met us at the elevator saying that they had just started taking our insurance that day, to go back up. It was craziness I tell you...and not fun when you are having hard, painful contractions every 2-3 minutes lasting a minute and a half. I got a shot of stadol and phenergan around 8pm or so. Of course all that did was put me to sleep, but I still woke up at the climax of every contraction, still feeling them hard and about a rude awakening. I was dehydrated, so I had to have about 1500-2500 cc of fluid before I got an epidural. About 10:30pm (after 15 1/2 hours of labor) I got the epidural. Ahh. It was nice. After the epidural I still felt the pressure and tightness of the contractions, but no pain. (picture: smiling again with the epidural)

About 11:45pm Suzanne and the nurse came in. I was progressing the whole time, just not fast enough for their liking. At this point I was about 5cm dilated. So, they went ahead and broke my water (my bag was bulging bigtime anyway they said) and it was meconium-filled. Now, according to the birth center protocol, anytime waters have meconium in them, that mom and baby is automatically taken to the hospital anyway. So, I would’ve ended up at the hospital no matter what. That made me feel a little better. After that Joel and I just slept...hard...except for when people came in to do things. At one point I started feeling a lot of pain in my right side and they gave me a little bolus of the epidural. Then...slept some more.

At 3am they came in and started some Pitocin on me. I was about 7cm dilated at that point I think, but again, progression was just so slow they said, so that’s what they decided to do. They thought it might help a little. They turned my epidural off between 4 and 5am. I started pushing at 6am. By the time I started pushing I could feel the pain, the ripping (I tore and they also gave me an episiotomy...the attending midwife was a little more on the medical side of the midwife spectrum, i.e. breaking my water, the Pitocin, the episiotomy). OUCH!! It was very painful. Because of the pain, I pushed...and I mean hard and fast. I wanted it over and done. I only pushed for a little over an hour. Grady Lester Ebersole was born January 3rd at 7:09am, weighing in at 9 lbs. 2 oz. and was 21 ½ in. long. He came out with his fist on the side of his head too (there is an actual medical term for this, but I don't remember what it is). He also came out rooting and sucking and holding his head up...and smiling some big smiles with his gorgeous dimples. (picture: pushing flat on my back...horrible)

It was a very different experience than I had expected, but it was great. I was SO EXCITED about my little boy. He is our little noble knight from God. He’s such a joy to us and to everyone he meets. (picture: Grady's first picture)

But, I do have more to tell you concerning the recovery...also not what I had expected. That...tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Just Some Fun

Of course I have birth on the mind alot these days. I have about 7 1/2 more weeks to go 'til this birth. Plus, I've been reading a friend's birth stories on her blog. Very interesting. They have inspired me to do the same. I've talked about birth-related issues some, but never actually posted my full experiences. So, I'm going to be doing that for the next week or so. Plus, they are already written out...will give me more time around here to get ready for that upcoming birth in the near future. Lots to do...lots to organize and get in place. Nesting is upon me.

I just wanted to give you that heads-up. Some find it completely strange that anyone would ever share their "private" birth experience, much less read someone else's. I personally don't think it's any big deal at all. I could care less who reads my birth stories. It happens to be a pretty natural part of life. I guess for some there are modesty issues, but please...if someone is caused to stumble watching someone give birth or hearing a birth story, I think they are a little off the edge in the first place. Just my opinion.

So, if you are one of those people who just don't want to hear it, you might want to steer clear of my blog for the next 7 or 8 days.

But, are some fun pictures we took one night before bed. Our kids are so dadgum goofy. They crack us up. For instance, this morning Grady and Hadley were outside playing. Grady was performing his specialty slapstick probably. Hadley was laughing at him and then they would both laugh. Then Hadley says in this little sing-song voice, "You think you're so-o-o-o funny" and then commenced to laughing hysterically. Apparently he is. Anyway, just so cute to hear...totally funny, too, to hear them saying the things we say.

Anyway, here are the pictures taken that night. Some fun stuff.

First, a sweet picture of daddy and cuddly Eissa after a nap.

And now, just for kicks, a couple of similar images from about 15 months ago. The little blob on the bed on the right is Eissa...just a few days old.
They were very serious about their work that goofing off.
Then, again last week, this was the day after they saw the pediatrician. Hadley was an expert in what to do with her medical kit then.
Writing a prescription.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Doctor Visits

We had doctor visits last week...Wednesday - Friday. I'm just going to update you on them by day.

Wednesday - We went to the pediatrician. A couple of people we know and love recommended her. We really liked her. Doesn't matter too terribly much though...we'll be moving again in a few months. But, still...good to have a doctor you like. The kids had fun. They loved it when it was their turn. We were all in the same room (which is also the doctor's personal's pretty big and has 2 couches that the kids played on while they waited for us to give histories and get shot needs straightened out). Eissa went first and didn't know exactly what to think about it all, but didn't really fuss about it either. She almost teared up a couple of times and looked at me as if to say, "Um, what's going on...what's she doing?" But, was fine. The other 2 couldn't wait though...loved the whole process of the doctor's special attention...going to the scale to weigh, being measured for height, having their eyes, ears, noses, and mouths checked, having their blood pressure taken and their heart and lungs listened to...just all of it. It was so cute to watch. Grady was very serious. The doctor even told him that (in English)..."So serious" she which point he broke out in a huge grin and smiled the rest of the time. Hadley was her normal self...probably felt like she was in a movie or some major production as she was being checked...the star you know. It was funny.

Anyhoo, their stats came out like this:
Grady - weight: 43 pounds
height: 3 ft. 7 1/2 in.
wt. percentile: 90 (which means he's taller than about 90% of the kiddos his
ht. percentile: 95
Hadley - weight: 29 pounds
height: 3 ft. 1 1/2 in.
wt. percentile: 40
ht. percentile: between 50 and 75
Eissa - weight: 21 pounds
height: 2 ft. 8 in.
wt. percentile: 25
ht. percentile: 90
So, basically the girls are tall and skinny and Grady is just "enormous" (the doctor said about Grady..."enorme." :-) And also, that's about as close to true stairsteps as you can get...they are almost exactly all 6 in. apart.

After the doctor we went straight to the shot place. The kids got 2 shots each. Both shots they got were combination shots, so they actually got vaccinated for several things at once which is nice. What's not nice is that it was SO EXPENSIVE!! The best option for us as far as health insurance is a thing called Unimed. They are good, but don't cover vaccinations. So...yeah...900 reais later (that's over 500 US dollars, people!) we had some vaccinated kids. Seriously, when they told us how much it was, we just stood there with our jaws wide open for a while. :-) Gone are the days of 10 dollar co-pays. :-) Of course you can go to the equivalent of the health unit for shots, but we were told by them at the health unit that the particular shots we needed weren't available there...that we'd have to go to the other place. So, basically we had no other option. Bummer...there went our savings/retirement/furlough money for the month. :-) Oh well...God always provides. It was just a shock is all.

The kids did fine with their shots. Eissa cried pretty hard, but was still. Grady cried a tiny bit, but was really still and fine seconds later (he's always been that way...when an infant, he wouldn't even cry). Hadley on the other hand...she screams and thrashes about. I was sweating after holding her for her shots. Whew!! But, all 3 immediately get a lollilop out of my pocket after their last shot needle comes out of their skin and once it touches their tongue, they are miraculously healed of any hurts. :-)

Thursday - Joel and I went to the OB here in Anapolis, Dra. (that's doctora...the feminine form of doctor) Kenia. She is the one that we needed to ask if she'd take over if something went wrong in the delivery and we needed to go to a hospital. So, she checked me all out and then we asked her. She was thrilled for us and agreed without hesitation, although she called me a "parteira" (Joel's translation for this was "baby-spitter-outer"...birther is basically the literal translation) and was sure that I wouldn't need her services. We asked her if she wanted to see us again or get updates. She said no...that I was healthy and a parteira :-), if by chance we needed her to just call her cell and head to the hospital there where she would meet us. It was great. We were so glad that she agreed so easily and that it didn't hurt her feelings in the least that we chose another doctor who would do a homebirth.

We also did several other errands that day, including I went to get my CPF number. For you Brazilians reading this, you know that I am feeling pretty important and special these days. :-) Hee hee hee.

And, that was the day we sat in that fine mobile called a Kombi. Ahh, good times.

Friday - Joel and I went to Goiania to see the doctor who is going to do the birth, Dr. Luiz. Everything went really well there. We just discussed everything in depth about the birth and treatments, etc. He will be bringing a pediatrician with him (the midwives we've had before have always been able to do the baby stuff...the exams, vit. K shot/drops, etc.). So, he gave us the name and number of that pediatrician. We will be going to see the dr. again in 3 weeks at which point we will also meet the pediatrician and just discuss with her our expectations and hers and such. I'm glad that she will be coming along with him for the birth. As it was, I was going to be the only female at the birth with 2 men (the doctor and Joel). Although it's fine...I'm usually a little busy during that time anyway and I completely trust them both...still...will be nice to have another girl in the room. It will be esp. nice if she's at least given birth before, but whatever...doesn't really matter. It'll be good to meet her and see what she's like, too, before the birth.

We also ran other errands there in Goiania too. We went by Pastor Jefferson's and Carmen's house to grab something there and visited a bit. Then we met Joel's friend (mine too now) for lunch. Then, Joel went to try to get his driver's license yet again...a huge, long process...still not over. Maybe someday he'll be driving legally...until then, we are completely illegal (me too when I drive), but you know, we have to drive.

It was a productive week and that's the update with where we are with doctors.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Researching - Hippie Style

I know...I said I'd update you on the Dr. visits today, but I am knee-deep in this right now, so I thought I'd share. I promise to update about last week soon.

We are in the midst of doing some major research. There are 2 things that we are in need of (concerning the baby coming in March...and other little ones that might come our way) and so we are looking into them...majorly (and praying for God to make the way financially to do each if that's what He has for us).

#1 - Vehicle. Not sure if you noticed in that last post, but our car is pretty full as is. If you add luggage to it (as in this picture)...can't even ever take all the things we want/need. The things in the back were falling on the kids' heads, we all had things under our feet, and there was basically a wall between me and Joel in our bucket seats. :-)

When we aren't traveling, we only have one carseat in the car for Eissa. Hadley just uses a seatbelt around town. But, there are only 3 seatbelts anyway...a 4th child is just not going to fit in there...period. So, a different vehicle is just a necessity. These are the ones we've been looking at...

First, this is a Doblo. This particular one is owned by a guy we met at Palavra da Vida...where we stayed on vacation. They have 4 children. This vehicle seats 7 (has 3 rows of seats). The downside is that it's pretty small otherwise...hard to fit anything other than us and basics (stroller, etc.) in it. Not very good for grocery shopping for instance, if the whole family is along. When traveling we would need to use the luggage rack up top...but it does have one, so that's good. The is pretty nice, does fit us all as I said, and has a radio, CD player, and air conditioner. The radio/CD player I could personally do without, but the A/C would be nice, esp. in the Amazon. This could possibly be our God option as well considering that we "just happened" to meet up with this guy who "just happens" to be leaving next month and needs to sell. They are missionaries there at Palavra da Vida (they work there) and is going to be moving to the states with his family for about 9 months and working with the Word of Life Ministries there in New Jersey and New York. We would be able to pay him in US dollars...he would need them and we wouldn't have to lose money in the exchange rate thing. Also, he said we could pay him in several payments, not all upfront. We'll see.

This is a Besta...made by Kia. It is a nice size and can also seat 7 I believe. Don't know much about these personally...this is Joel's area of research. I will get to mine in the latter part of the post. But, it is also a possibility.

And this is my personal favorite just in terms of the fun factor...a KOMBI!! This is also known as the VW Van. This starts the hippie part of the post. :-) We went and sat in one of these the other day. This is an AWESOME picture, but most of the ones around here are newer models (2001 we sat in the other day) and white...used for more utility type stuff. Oh my gosh...I love this vehicle. It is terribly practical on many levels...big, incredibly roomy, basic, cheaper than the others, would last us with our growing family, and we'd be able to travel with visitors too. But, then not so practical in other areas...Joel doesn't like that you don't have much between you and the oncoming traffic (a front-end wreck in one of these wouldn't be that great) and then there is no A/ any of them. It seats up to 9 people, depending on what kind of seats you have. But, we would probably opt for the 8-seater in that we would have bucket seats in the front so that I could reach back if the kids needed something (and they always do). We'll see...I love it though, but would also love an A/C, esp. where we are going. Joel suggested letting the kids fingerpaint it for the complete look. :-)

Alright, and now the other thing we have been might want to sit down for this...

#2 - Cloth diapers. "What the hoo hoo are you thinking?" some of you might be saying. Well, I will first of all explain the reasoning. Then I will give you a gander at what kind we are thinking we would like.

As we've discussed numerous times, I do like the all-natural, more simple lifestyle (for the most part). I've always loved the idea of cloth diapers. Because of all of our travels and moves, though, have never even been able to consider it an option. But, now that our travels and moves are mostly over (to the extreme that they were before anyway), we have been able to look at cloth diapers as an actual option. So, around Thursday I started my research.

These are not the diapers of yesteryear people. They are not your mother's (or grandmother's) cloth diapers. They do still have that kind, but they seriously have TONS of options in the cloth diapering world...from that old-fashioned kind to the fancy boutique-style decorative diaper. It's crazy and overwhelming. I've been researching non-stop (except for the usual basic household, food, laundry; literally, non-stop...I even stayed up until 4am this morning doing just that). Thankfully I've had some major help along the way from a few experienced mamas. Anyway...

So we like the all-natural approach (homebirths...need I say more). We like the thought of no plastic, unnatural stuff spending that much time attached to our baby's tush. Even though I'm not overwhelmingly convicted of this (not Mrs. Green or anything), it is always a good thing to be a good steward of our planet that God made, good to not make as much trash. And of course there is the amazingly astounding good reason...cost savings. More on that later.

Here is the diaper we think makes the most since for us...the bumGenious one-size. It is called a "pocket diaper." There are several pocket diapers on the market. Basically they just have an outer waterproof layer which is sewn to the inner layer forming a pocket in which you put an insert (to absorb the pee). It's nice because once they are laundered you can stick an insert in and put them in the closet. Then when you are ready for a change, you just grab one and go...the convenience, in that aspect, of a disposable.

The reason we chose this one (so far) is because it is, like the name states, one-size-fits-all. It fits babies 7 lbs. up until 35 lbs. Hadley is almost 3 and potty-trained...and not yet 35 lbs. herself (29 to be exact). Therefore, from this claim and from the testimonials I've read, this diaper could fit a child all the way through their diapering days. Not bad.

Although a clear investment upfront, it would more than pay for itself very shortly. We plan to be able to use these with Eissa and the new baby, and hopefully at least 2 more (even more if possible...will just use them until they completely wear out and/or stop working) if those babies should come our way. Hopefully we'll at least be able to use them with at least one more though.

Although we haven't figured this out specifically for our family personally, from several things I've read, most people spend an average of at least $500 a year on diapers for a baby. If you diaper your child for 3 years (which is what we have done on average so far), that's $1500, right? So, let's figure this out, using the possibility of diapering a total of 3 children (newborn to potty-trained) with these diapers...

Diapers for 3 children for 3 years: $4500 (wow)
Cost of 48 bumGenious diapers (what was suggested to us for diapering a newborn and Eissa...that would put me doing 2 laundry loads of diapers a week): around $800 (not including shipping or any accessories...just for the diapers themselves)
Savings: $3700...not bad at all

Of course that doesn't even figure in the time, effort, and gas money for trips to go get diapers either. Anyway, we are excited about this new possible investment and hope it works out.

So, those are just a couple of things that you can be praying with us about...for God to make it clear what to do in each situation and provide the finances for each thing He has for us. Thanks.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

First Family Vacation - Part 5

These next few pictures most of you might not care a flip about. But, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what the place looked like...the apartment where we stayed. Plus, for those of you who might be planning to visit us before we leave this area, we would love to take you here and this is where we'd most likely be staying. Fun stuff. This is as you walk in the front door.
The kitchen to the right...and a little washroom straight through the kitchen.
Standing in the living room, looking straight into our room...the kids' room through the door to the left and their bathroom to the right.
Our bedroom.
Our bathroom area.
Aren't these cool bunkbeds? This might be the next design we go with as far as bunk beds go (I'm sure we'll need more bunk beds in the future). It sleeps 4...the bottom bunk has a trundle under it.
The kids' bathroom.
The living room area, taken from the bedroom area. The bottom of the couch also pulls out with a bed.
Immediately up the stairs (which we never even used) is this couch and pull-out bed to your left.
There is this full-size mattress directly ahead.
And this bedroom to the right.
The upstairs bathroom. That's it for the apartment tour. :-)
Not long after we left Caldas Novas.
We had to stop in Goiania to get diapers on the way back, so we of course thought it appropriate that we end our vacation with a bang...a stop by Pizza Hut. The kids thought this a fabulous idea too, esp. since they have a playground area there...nice!
This guy, whose little boy was also playing, seemed to kind of "adopt" Eissa...helping her and making sure she sat down before she plunged down the slide (she forgets that part sometimes).
Mmmm, pizza again...American style.
Some sibling affection on the slide.
Back home again. This was the morning after we got home. Hadley was very glad to be back to her princess dress. My favorite part was the shoes she chose to go with it that day though.

As you can see, we had a super great vacation. It was so fun and just perfect. At first I wasn't really thinking it was going to be much like the "vacation" I am used to. And, yes, it was quite a bit different on many was a vacation taken in Brasil after all...and with our 3 children (literally, the equivalent, in some ways, of taking your work with you on vacation). But, it was great...and a joy to "have our work with us." :-) It was a break in the routine of life, a fun time at the pool, we didn't have to do laundry or clean much, it was a chance to just have some great quality time with our kiddos with nothing else competing for our time, etc. Super duper fun, blessed time. We are very thankful for the opportunity to do it, that's for sure.