"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Big Boy

Julian is a beautiful, intelligent, gentle soul. It's very obvious that I would say that, as I'm his mom, but it's really neat when other people (other than Jeff and my parents) say the same thing. Last week, the teacher's aid at school told me that he had the biggest fan's club of all. At first I didn't know what she meant, but then she explained to me that all 9 girls from his classroom are in love with him. And she went on and on telling me what a sweet boy Julian is, what a great helper, how willing to help, how respectful ... And she congratulated Jeff and me on doing such a great job in raising him. And on Tuesday, he had a talent show at school (his talent was soccer, and he demonstrated how to kick the ball), and two moms told me the same thing, about how respectful and obedient and sweet. Right before we left, his teacher, Mrs. Beck, repeated everything the other ladies had said, and added how happy she was that he was willing to translate for Melissa, a little girl from Mexico who doesn't speak a lot of English yet. I can't take any credit for that because he has such a wise soul. I've always said that he has the gaze of an old spirit, that his eyes look so wise and old. He already came like he is now; Jeff and I have just provided a home, and yes, we try to teach him and his siblings, but they're the ones who teach us.

So in honor to my little big boy, I dedicate him this day's entry and I post some pictures of him.

Te quiero tanto Julian, mi amor tan puro y perfecto. Nunca te olvides de ser quien sos.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I'm loving this Christmas season!!!!

I'm very happy that this year Christmas hasn't caused me any homesickness for Argentina or "holiday blues." Even though I now miss my siblings more than ever, I'm really feeling the true Spirit of this season. Maybe it's because of Areli. I honestly feel there's an angel in our home. There are actually four because Julian, Magali and Joaquin have more than exceeded my expectations. They all love the baby so much, and even Joaxie is ever so careful when he walks past her, so as not to wake her up. I love it when he's playing, and then he comes over where she is and kisses her so gently on the head. He's like a giant teddy bear, and I feel my heart swell with joy when I'm surrounded by my little lovies.
Jeff's been so tired lately! He's been working out three times a week with a personal trainer, and he's having wonderful results, but he goes to the gym at 7 in the morning (he leaves at 6:30 because it's all the way down in Provo). So the poor baby is now snoring away in the couch. We were going to have "mate" (our Argentine tea) and our nightly talk, but I don't have the heart to wake him up.
Today the Relief Society presidency from our neighborhood came to meet Peewee and see how we're doing. Both our branch and this ward have been wonderful. We had meals brought to our home for two straight weeks. Everybody wanted to help, especially after I had to go to the hospital for an infection. Four days after Areli was born I started having a very high fever and very severe abdominal pain. At first I thought it could be appendicitis, but when I got the fever I knew I had an infection. I ended up staying one night at Timpanogos Hospital, to get 24 hours of IV antibiotics. It was horrilbe to have to end up at the hospital. Luckily they let Peewee stay with me. The kids stayed with my parents. I'm very grateful I could get the treatment I needed and go home. I kept wondering what Jeff would do with four kids, including a newborn, if something happened to me. I'm very grateful for my health and my life!!!!!! I love being me and having this family and staying home and everything about my life!
It was very funny to see the reactions of the hospital personnel when they learned I had had Areli at home. Someone even asked me if I had been trying to save money! Even when it wasn't about having the birth I wanted, I'm very happy I've learned so much in preparation for Areli's birth, because when I was going to be given and IV with narcotics (for the pain) , I told the male nurse that I didn't want it, and I asked if I could just have the hep lock. He just stared at me and asked me if I had any professional medical training. I said, "NO, but I've educated myself very well with the options I had for the birth of my babies, and I'd like as few interventions as possible." Another nurse told me I must have a great degree of pain tolerance, and looked skeptical when I told her Areli's birth hadn't been painful at all. The one who thought I had had her at home because I was a poor immigrant (they really look down on immigrants!) without resources, later became very friendly, and said Areli was the most relaxed baby she had ever seen (she was an L&D nurse!!!!), and I said it was because her birth had been very peaceful and non-violent; she told me later that her husband had cancer, and I realized that behind a person with a bad attitude there's usually a sad story.
I'm very grateful I have my mom to help me and support me in my decisions, and that I have Iris, my dear friend, who takes so much care of me.
I hope I may keep this feeling of peace and love for everyone; it's like I'm in high, and it's also because I'm certainly enjoying this babymoon. My little princess sleeps from 11 to 7. But she's also gaining weight steadily. At her check up last week she was 7 lbs 8 oz. It was on the 12th, one day before her original due date, so had she been born "on schedule", she would have been the same size as her siblings.
My little prince is also sleeping all night, and Juli and Maga are awesome helpers.
Tomorrow is Jeff's and mine wedding anniversary--8 years together. Life couldn't be better. I guess I could do with a couple of hours of naptime every afternoon, but I guess I can't have everything, can I?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Areli's Birth Story

I can’t believe I’m already writing my birth story, that my baby is actually here, but she is! All 6 lbs 3 oz of her! My guess date was December 13th, but because of having Intrahepatic Cholastasis of Pregnancy (ICP), I knew I was going to be induced at least 2 weeks before that date, depending on how my high liver enzymes and bile acid levels were. I thought I could escape ICP this time; I was ever so careful with my diet, and I took liver cleansing supplements and drank tons of water. But at around 26 weeks, much sooner than with my other three pregnancies, the dreaded itching started. So I had the blood work done, and even though the acid levels were always within the normal range, they were steadily climbing up. At my 36 week appointment, Suzanne, my midwife, and I made out the plans for induction: we’d start with a folley catheter, followed by stripping the membranes, breaking my water, and using minute amounts of cytotec. Of course, I was hoping we’d only need to use the folley … We were to start on Wednesday 22nd, the day before Thanksgiving. That morning I was so ecstatic that I got very nervous and emotional when it was time to drop the kids off at my neighbor’s.
We met Laura, my doula, at Suzanne’s office, and my midwife put the folley catheter in. Last time this procedure hurt a lot, so I put my hypnobabies into practice, and I was so pleasantly surprised at how well it worked! I was completely relaxed and had hardly felt a thing. Now we just had to wait.
The surges started very slowly but steady, so Jeff and I went to walk at the mall and had dinner out. It felt like we were on a date. That night I went to bed, and when I woke up at 6 in the morning to go to the bathroom, the folley came out! So I knew I was at least 4 cm! Thanksgiving day we waited all day for birthing time to start, but not much happened. So I made a pumpkin pie that Julian my son had requested, and cranberry sauce because my mom didn’t know what that was (we’re from Argentina). In the afternoon we went to see the kids. When we went back home I called Laura, my doula, who had offered to do some pressure points. I listened to my “birthing day affirmations,” and she did pressure points and aromatherapy mainly with clary sage and blue spruce.
The next morning Suzanne came early and checked me, and she said she could stretch me to 6 cm. She did, and said the cervix was still very thick. All day Friday, we waited and even though the surges kept coming I knew they weren’t the real thing. We worked around the house, and put up a nativity scene outside. At night they were coming so irregularly, but I wanted Suzanne to check me, so she came and said that I was still the same, and we talked about breaking my water, but I was very nervous to do this; Jeff and I decided to wait. That night the surges kept coming until they got very regular, every 3 minutes and lasting more than one minute. I was soooooo excited! This was it! So at around midnight I called Suzanne and Laura. I sat on my birthing ball, listening to my hypnobabies Cd’s. Laura was such a great help! I could have never done it without her! Jeff and Suzanne got the pool ready, and Suzanne also readied her things. I wasn’t very comfortable in the water, and to my disappointment the surges stopped very suddenly! I got out, tried walking, but to no avail. It was 2:30 am. Suzanne suggested that I take a nap, and Laura stayed with me in my room, and Jeff and Suzanne went to the family room. I woke up at around 8:30 and found a note from Suzanne that said to call her to discuss options. We had breakfast, and when Suzanne arrived we decided to break my water. Amniotic fluids were nice and clear. We talked for a little while, and they decided to leave so I wouldn’t feel like a watched pot. Jeff and I went walking, we took a nap; we didn’t know what else to do. When I woke up from my nap at 3:30 I hadn’t had a single surge. I knew I was 7 cm, so it couldn’t take much longer once active birthing time started. Even though we had try to avoid it, we decided to use the cytotec, because we now had the time limit since my membranes had been ruptured. I really wanted a safe baby, and really wanted to avoid a c-section. The next day, the 26th, was my birthday, and the last thing I wanted was spending my birthday having a c-section. I was praying so hard that the surges would start, and even told Heavenly Father that I didn’t care anymore if the hypnosis didn’t work as long as the baby was born safe and sound without the need for a c-section. I had a good cry, and by the time Suzanne arrived at 4 I was in better spirits. She put such a tiny dose that she doubted labor would start, but we wanted only to stimulate my uterus to start contracting gently. I stayed in bed for about an hour, and little by little I could feel something starting! At seven Suzanne came back and out another minute dose, and this time around the surges kept coming more regularly. I listened to my hypnobabies on my ipod, until I couldn’t find a comfortable position on my bed anymore. I sat on a chair in my room, with my ipod and I finally decided to call my doula. We had talked on the phone all day, and she was such a source of encouragement to me!!!! After working with me through a pressure wave, she suggested that I call Suzanne to let her know because we didn’t want an unassisted birth! Was it the real thing now? I so hoped it was!!!! Suzanne was planning to come at 11 for a third dose, but when Laura got here, at 11:38 she called to make sure Suzanne was on her way. I was so excited! And yes, I KNEW this was different!!!! Jeff and Laura got to work on filling up the pool. When Suzanne got here at 11 she checked me, but she didn’t make any comments, so I knew that she was trying not to discourage me because things were still the same in there … I tried to walk from the bed to the pool, but I couldn’t walk through the waves, so Laura let me hang on her shoulders until it passed. I got in the water and Laura kept saying the scripts in a strong voice that kept the distractions out. In the water I got in the all fours position, and found that rocking was very soothing. My special place was Culebra, a little island off of the Puerto Rican coast where Jeff and I have been many times and that we love, and the rocking felt like the ocean waves. The prompts from Laura really helped me relax. I asked her what Suzanne had said my progress was, and she said that I had been between 6 and 7, but that I was already 80% effaced and that baby was moving down. I tried not to dwell on numbers and I started working with my body. It was very soothing to know Jeff was right beside me supporting me, and that we made a great team! I couldn’t turn my switch to the off position because I needed to move my body and make sounds, so I kept it in center position. Sometimes the pressure was overpowering, but I remembered that Ina May Gaskin says that a relaxed face and low pitched sounds help the cervix dilate faster and easier. So that’s what I did. At a certain point I felt such an extreme pressure in my rectum that I wanted to push, but I didn’t know how dilated I was, so I didn’t want to try in case my cervix got swollen. Suzanne offered to check me, but I couldn’t handle the thought of not being complete yet, so I said no, and I asked her what I should do. She said to do what felt right, and I went for it; I just couldn’t help it. In the meantime Jeff and Laura put the “Pushing Baby Out” track on my ipod, and when Kerry’s voice said “…you push your baby when your body tells you to …” I heard Suzanne say, “This is what I love about hypnobabies…” and I pushed when my body told me to do it. I felt the baby’s head enter the birth canal, and I said “Her head is coming!” and I felt a stinging sensation and tremendous pressure. My first reaction was to raise my body from the water, but they wanted me to stay lower, so I felt Jeff’s hand on my shoulder and then caressing my hair, and he said, “She’s here baby!” And I asked, “Are you sure?” And the two midwives, my doula and Jeff all said “Yes!” And Trinette, the other midwife assisting Suzanne said “That’s your baby’s head right there! Touch it!” So I reached down and exclaimed “Oh my gosh!” And one more push and she came out, and Suzanne handed her to me. When I saw the video the next day I saw my face change from being strained with the effort of pushing her out to such an expression of joy and relief. Jeff’s beaming face must have mirrored my feelings. I kept saying “Gracias Dios” over and over. She didn’t even cry. She just kept looking around, all pinked up already, while Trinette massaged her body. I kept thanking everybody and Suzanne said, “You did it all yourself!” I told her “No more p***!” And she reminded me that the placenta was still to come, but I replied, “But like you said last time, the placenta doesn’t have any bones!!!” So I delivered the placenta, and Jeff cut the cord that has stopped pulsating. Jeff got the baby warmed up in a towel, and I was shaking so violently (cold, adrenaline, exhilaration) that I got in the shower. Laura was standing right by the shower, and I just kept laughing for joy and relief. I got into bed, and tried to nurse the baby but she wasn’t interested; she just wanted to look around. After a little while she did latch on, and when everything had been cleaned up the midwives started checking her and me. I only had a tiny tear that didn’t need stitches, and the baby got 9/10 in her Apgars. She weighed 6 lb 3 oz, and measured 19 in. The official birthing time length was 3:31 hours and 11 minutes of pushing. Not bad! She was born at 11:51, 9 minutes before my birthday, but in Argentina (where I was born) it was already the 26th, so in a way we do have the same birthday.
I did bleed on the higher range of normal, but it was nothing to worry about. By the next day it was completely normal.
That night I called my mom, and she was crying when I hung up. It must be something special to have your daughter give birth 29 years after you did. The next day, the best present I got was seeing the look on my children’s face as they came into my room and saw the baby—my mom hadn’t told them the baby had been born yet.
And this is how my story ends, all six of us, Jeff, Julian, Magali, Joaquin, I and the baby whom we named Areli Estrella Mendez, snuggled up in bed, just like my other special place image from my hypnobabies practice. All I keep saying is “Thanks You God”, and my heart is just overflowing with gratitude and joy.