Saturday, June 18, 2016

One Month of Penny

With all of the tragedy that has occurred this month in our country and around the world I have found myself feeling so grateful for my little family. That isn't to say there haven't been times this past month that I have wanted to rip my hair out during those moments where I am holding a screaming infant and am dealing with an obstinate 2-year-old who is yelling, destroying something, or is ALSO crying. But for the most part I am just so grateful. I have two beautiful healthy children and an amazing husband who bring me more joy than I ever imagined I could experience in this life. I love my crazy life.

Penny joined our family just over a month ago now! Nathan has had a bit of a hard time adjusting, which is expected for a two year old who has been dethroned.

His favorite pastimes in the past few weeks (most of which happen when I am nursing or putting Penny to sleep) include:

-taking all of my mom's books out of the bookshelf and scattering them all over the living room
-breaking a huge industrial-sized fan
-getting into mommy's makeup (grrr)
-meticulously removing all of the wipes from the container one by one so it is impossible to put them back
-being generally angry at the world

For the first couple of weeks he really pushed me away. When I would try and hug and kiss him during the few moments I had free hands he would push me and tell me no. Once when Cameron was reading him his bedtime stories and I came in to say goodnight he pointed to the door and told me to "go!" I almost cried. It isn't that a 2-year-old really hurt my feelings, it was more that I felt guilty that he is feeling abandoned by his mama. He is so young still, and I still view him as my baby, even though he isn't THE baby anymore.

As of late he has been enjoying making everything into "chase." I know I should just play along, but when Penny is in the swing screaming to be picked up and I am trying to change his poopy diaper and he makes me chase him around the house? Mommy turns into somewhat of a Witchy McWitcherson. This morning I chased him around for 10 minutes trying to get him to put clothes on so we could get to an appointment. He wouldn't listen so, I gathered my things, put Penny in her carseat, and said goodbye. I could hear him start to cry when I closed the door and immediately felt a little guilty, so I put my stuff in the car and came back and asked him if he was ready to put his shirt on. He smiled and said, "yep!" and let me put his shirt on. That little stinker. I can never stay mad at him though because he is so full of life and love and energy. After all, it wasn't HIS idea to bring a boring old baby into the family! He was just fine being our #1 and only.

That being said he hasn't once been unkind or tried to harm Penny in any way. He will often come up to us and ask if he can "hold it." We're still working on him telling us when he is done instead of just trying to shove her off when he's done holding her. Haha.

The other day I was washing dishes and Penny was in her swing and started to fuss. I finished rinsing and came into the living room and Nathan had Penny half way out of her swing trying to pick her up. He informed me as I walked up to save Penny that she was crying. Yes, son, I know.

Just a couple of days after returning from the hospital-I love seeing these two squishies together 
Penny's first month went by SO quickly! When Nathan turned a month old I felt like I had accomplished a great feat. With Penny I have no idea where the time has gone! It's not like Penny is some magic baby that doesn't cry or wake up at night (she actually wakes up a lot more than Nathan did-darn it), the only reason this month has been any less crazy-azy is because I am not as crazy. Becoming a mom was a huge adjustment for me. I guess because I was already a mom and my life already revolved around another little person, bringing another little person into the world to take care of was much less overwhelming.

Penny love loves her bathtime-she gets so relaxed and peaceful
So, Penny doesn't like being put down so LOTS of our pictures of her look like this:

Haha. This was her one week birthday where I was trying to document her cuteness and EVERY time I put her down she screamed. I felt like one of those Pinterest needs the words "nailed it" to be written across the bottom.  

Here are my three favorite people, chillin out max and relaxin' all cool:

After a family walk-Penny was out! 

He loves her-sometimes ;)
My mom wanted to do a two week  photo shoot, so we dressed her in a pretty dress her Grandma Kaye made for her and took some pictures of her out on the lawn. We love her little dimples!

Grandad is a comfy place to nap! Every time he holds her while she sleeps she sleeps longer and better than any other person! Like my sister Tara said, "babies are dad's jam."

And here are some pictures I took of her on her one month birthday! She woke up the morning before with a horribly goopy eye and has terrible baby acne, but I think she is just the most gorgeous thing on the planet.

And, to keep things real, this is how she looked most of the time we were taking pictures:

We just love this little love-muffin. Here are some fun facts about Penny:

-Penny is the fastest nurser in the west. She nurses for about 15 minutes total when she nurses on both sides, which I still haven't gotten used to, When Nathan was her age he was a 45 minute MINIMUM kind of guy. It is actually really convenient for me!
-Has a sensitive tummy and mommy hasn't had chocolate or dairy for a month. Some day she will understand the sacrifices I make (NO CHOCOLATE!?)
-Penny wakes up often at night-usually every two hours from midnight-6:00 am, but only nurses on one side and for 5-10 minutes and goes right back to sleep. So even though I would love it if she woke up less often, it is doable. So, basically I am tired, but not a zombie.
-Penny sleeps like a champ in her bassinet at night but hates sleeping in it during the day, so I spend lots of time snuggling my girl during daytime naps. I am trying to really just enjoy it and not sit and think about about what I "should" be doing instead. This infant stage goes by so quickly and I don't want to wish it away.
-Penny is currently a super mama's girl and cries when anyone else holds her. I love and hate it.
-Penny started smiling regularly right around her 1 month birthday. Her smiles just fill me with such warmth and joy. It is the best.
-She is already finding her voice and has the cutest little feminine coos. It is the cutest.

We are so grateful for this sweet spirit who has joined our family! She changes every day and it has been so fun to watch her grow. We are excited for her blessing next month!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Penelope's Birth Story

Like most birth stories, no matter how or where they take place, mine was very different from how I envisioned it.  
Before reading this post there are a couple of things you should know. First of all, this is how my first birth went down. Because of my experience with my C-section with Nathan any time I thought about having another baby I would get huge waves of anxiety and fear just thinking about it. For months after he was born I just felt like there was no way I could do it again. After my C-Section with Nathan I was dizzy and nauseous for days afterwards (horrible reaction to the anesthesia). I could barely hold Nathan for almost 12 hours after he was born because I was throwing up and too unsure of myself to hold him. Because of that I think I had a hard a really hard time bonding with him. And that broke my mama heart. And made me feel guilty for months afterwards.
This story isn't supposed to be depressing! I just wanted to explain what brought me to the decisions I made when Cameron and I decided to have another baby. At the time Cameron and I had Medi-Cal for our insurance and there weren't very many doctors on the Central Coast to choose from. So I chose an OB and went for my first appointment. I HATED it. I met with one of the Nurse Midwives and asked her if there was any chance they would let me try a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). She basically said no way, but proceeded to tell me how AWESOME C-Sections are. That you can "schedule it" and "get a babysitter" and you are "well rested" the day you have your baby because you haven't spent the night in labor. I felt like screaming at her, "YOU'RE NOT TELLING ME ABOUT SOMETHING I'VE NEVER EXPERIENCED! I'M NOT AN IDIOT!" She was very condescending and I felt completely unheard. I left feeling like I was doomed to stay with this practice and doomed to have a repeat C-Section, no questions asked.
A couple of weeks later we were having dinner with our friends Jeff and Justine. Justine is a midwife, and for some reason, even though I was only 8 weeks and wasn't telling anyone I was pregnant yet, (I think I thought she had some secret midwife super power and could smell it on me or something-haha) I told them I was pregnant. After telling Justine all about my negative experience at the doctor's office she suggested that we try home birth with her. I know, I know, most people think it's totally nuts-o, but when she told me I felt this really great sense of peace and felt like it was the right choice for us. Cameron was totally supportive of me. I was so grateful that he backed me up 100% and I wanted me to have the birth I wanted. So I started seeing Justine for all of my prenatal care and started preparing myself for natural childbirth and for having baby at home. I was very much aware of the risk factors, but I also had done my research and knew that Justine would take all of the necessary precautions to make sure I was an excellent candidate for a VBAC.
Having a midwife was a perfect fit for me. Having Justine as a midwife provided me with ways to be proactive throughout my pregnancy and that felt so GOOD.  I started right away doing specific exercises and stretches on a daily basis to prepare my body for birth. Through her care I was provided with opportunities to connect with some amazing women, above all, Justine herself. She was the most attentive, caring, relaxed, and wonderful midwife. She is exactly the kind of person you want around during one of the most personal and important moments of your life. Just like in Nathan's pregnancy I had serious hip pain when I slept. Justine suggested going to a Chiropractor and referred me to Dr. Molly Stevens at the SLO Wellness Center. I found out when I had my first appointment that Molly was pregnant as well and was due just about a week before I was so her sister, Nicole took over my chiropractic care when Molly went on maternity leave. These women are amazing! I do not feel connected to people very quickly most of the time, but these women are special people. I felt a special connection with Nicole as we were able to have some amazing talks about birth, our bodies, motherhood, and being mothers of girls. She was so wonderful and supportive and told me at each of our appointments how much I was going to love home birth and encouraged me to trust my body and its abilities. And just as a bonus, between the adjustments and the foam rolling I did nightly, my body felt great for the rest of my pregnancy! No more hip pain whatsoever! I am a HUGE advocate for chiropractics now! Especially during pregnancy! I also had the opportunity to connect with Therese Powers who does acupuncture at the birthing center where Justine works. When I got the absolute worst virus I have ever had 3 weeks before my due date I went to Therese and did cupping and some acupuncture which was the only thing that gave me any relief for two weeks of being bed-ridden with this horrible sickness. In the following few weeks I had a few treatments with her to try and help "nudge" me into labor as well. Poor Therese saw me at my absolute worst, 12 days overdue, huge as a whale, makeup-less, basically in my PJ's, bawling my eyes out,  and she was so kind to me. She helped me talk through how I was feeling, and shared with me something special. She asked me what animal I was for the Chinese New Year Calendar. I told her I was the Rat. She said, "I knew there was a reason I liked you!" she was born in the year of the Monkey, and this year is also the year of the monkey. Apparently there are certain animals who feel special bonds with others and the rat and the monkey are supposed to have a special bond. For some reason in my fragile state that made me feel all warm and tingly inside and I felt a little voice inside me telling me that my daughter and I would have a special bond. It might sound trivial to you, but to me it was special. She is such an amazing person.
So, as I approached my due date I knew that in the state of California that Justine could only legally let me go 14 days over my due date and then I had to go to the hospital. Since Nathan was born 11 days overdue I knew that the chances of that happening to me were more realistic than for most. So once I hit my due date it was go time. Justine pulled out all of the stops for the next 13 days. I tried tinctures, homeopathics, pumping, walking, walking, walking, walking, yoga, primrose oil, spicy food, and in the end I even tried Castor oil which gave me contractions until it wore off and my uterus was still again. Justine did everything she could and was right there by my side, meeting with me almost on a daily basis to check my progression. My cervix was changing, getting soft, my body was preparing, but since I wasn't having any big contractions I wasn't dilating and it was impossible to sweep me or break my water. By Sunday, May 15th, I was 12 days overdue and still wasn't in labor. I went and saw Justine (couldn't handle going to church and answering everyone's questions why "baby wasn't here yet!!" gah!) and she said that we needed to go get a full scan of baby at the hospital the next day to make sure that she was still doing ok. I think there are 8 things they check such as breath movement, heartbeat, reactivity, and fluid levels. If she scored 100 % Justine told me it was my choice. I could go to the hospital, which we both knew inevitably would mean a C-Section, or I could sign a paper saying I was going against medical advice and stay pregnant until my body decided to go into labor. After lots of tears and prayers and love and support from Cameron we decided that we would see what the test said and if we passed I would stay pregnant. It was such a hard decision because I was 500 % ready to not be pregnant anymore, worried about baby Penny, feeling like a crazy person, and scared out of my mind to go to the hospital and have a repeat of Nathan's birth.
Monday morning, May 16th we went to French hospital and got baby checked. I was feeling really anxious, wanting her to pass, yet scared she would pass and that I would be pregnant forever. (irrational, but true). Penny passed on everything except my amniotic fluid was too low for me to be pregnant anymore. Justine told me it wasn't an emergency, but that some time that day we needed to go to the hospital. When she told me that I feel like I turned a switch off in my heart and mind and just did what I had to do. I just didn't want to feel anything because it was too scary to deal with what was ahead.  Justine called ahead and talked to the on-call doctor and faxed them my charts since I was showing up at the hospital unannounced. Cameron and I drove back to Paso and packed a hospital bag, got my mom, and got back down to Sierra Vista Hospital around 1pm. As I was changing and registering I was still holding on to some hope that the on-call doctor would let me be induced but I was 90 % sure at that point I was at the hospital for a C-section. After getting checked in I met the on-call doctor, Dr. Whitt. Dr. Whitt is a tall, stern-looking black lady, and I could tell from the look on her face as she walked in that she wasn't going to be a warm and fuzzy kind of lady.  She dove right into business. She told me flat out that she understood that I wanted to try and be induced but that was NOT "procedure" and what was GOING to happen was that I was GOING to sign the paperwork to have a "voluntary repeat cesarean." She asked when I had ate last. I told her 11:30 am. She turned to the nurse and told her to schedule the C-Section at 8:00 pm and walked out. The whole time she was talking to me I felt that I was getting reprimanded. From my perspective she seemed to think that I was a hippie granola freak who was putting myself, and more importantly, my baby, into jeopardy by trying a home birth. She was ticked that I didn't have all of the blood work done (yes, I am positive I don't have HIV, but I wasn't planning on having a surgery and I understand why she needed those labs done before surgery-but I was NOT neglectful)  I don't know how I held it together because I had basically been crying for the past 24 hours, but I did. When she walked out my nurse (whose name was Penny-I thought it was a good sign :)) apologized for her bedside manner and told me that she was actually a really good doctor and that I was in good hands. Even though it didn't change her behavior it made me feel better that at least I would be in good hands in the operating room. Then came the fun part where I got to sit in the hospital for 6 hours and wait for my C-Section. My mom, Justine, Cameron, and my nurses all talked to me and did their very best to distract me. My nurses were all so kind. Several of them (although my guess is that most of them are not advocates for home birth) told me that they were so sorry that I wasn't able to have the birth I wanted. I was very touched by their compassion. Honestly, I thought I was going to be more anxious as I awaited this surgery I had worked so hard to avoid for the past 9 months. But at that point I was so anxious to finally meet Penny and see that she was OK that I did pretty well as I waited.

Justine and I 

Justine asked if she could attend my C-section which none of us thought Dr. Whitt would allow. But she said OK and we suited up! They were the best cheer squad I could have asked for. 

Ready for surgery-ready to meet our girl at long last

My anesthesiologist was amazing and talked to me before surgery about my first C-Section and told me he would do his best to adjust my spinal meds to help me avoid being so sick for the days following my surgery. I was so appreciative that he was so attentive and willing to help me have a better experience. When I left Cameron and Justine in the little waiting area and walked into the operating room with my nurse everything hit me like a ton of bricks. The operating room, just like with Nathan, stark white, bright, and I was alone with a bunch of strangers that were going to cut me open. I started to freak out. As the anesthesiologist started to prep me for my spinal I was already crying and praying for help. The nurse noticed and asked me if I was in pain because of contractions. Then I felt really dumb and squeaked, "just scared." She was so kind and held me and patted my back as I got my spinal which ended up not being that bad! I remember it being really painful the first time.  Tender mercy.

Once they started it felt like it took forever to get her out. I started getting anxious that something was wrong and started bawling again. And I was so THIRSTY! I don't remember feeling that way during my first C-Section, but I seriously couldn't stop thinking about how thirsty I was. Then finally, Justine said, "I think I see your baby!" (they had a clear piece in the plastic sheet between me and the doctors so I could watch if I wanted...but I didn' Cameron and Justine got the first glance at baby Penny.) When they finally pulled her out she was screaming bloody murder. I just wanted to know if she was OK. I remember asking, "Is she OK? Is she OK?" since they don't place the baby straight onto your chest after a C-Section I was really nervous because I couldn't see her immediately. Justine assured me she looked great! And BIG! When I finally got to hold her I couldn't help but think how absolutely perfect she was. 

Mama's first view of Penny

Her hands were all grey and pruned like she had spent too long in the bath. They had me try nursing right away which was really awkward to try and do as half of my body was being put back together and I was laying flat on my back. But I was grateful that while they stitched me up and Cameron and I finally got to see and touch and hold our baby girl. 

The surgery went really well and I felt fine afterwards. I started to think that maybe I had a magical anesthesiologist and I wasn't going to feel sick this time! We were wheeled into recovery and my mom got to come in and meet Penny. When she walked into the room we both started crying again. I showed my mom my daughter and told her, "she is perfect." And she was.

Penelope Jean Jensen
8 lbs 5 oz 21 inches

When we were finally ready to head to my room I knew that this was the real test of how I was feeling. After my C-Section with Nathan it was when they wheeled me from recovery to my post-partum room that I really lost it. The movement of my bed made me so motion sick I started throwing up and felt awful for at least 8 hours afterwards. Well, history has a way of repeating itself...we had barely got to the door of the recovery room and I told them, "I'm going to throw up." I don't think the nurses really believed me because they kept wheeling me and took their time getting me a barf bag. Thankfully they handed me the bag just in time for me to spend the whole trip throwing up into the bag. Let me tell you, retching when you've just been cut open and you are no longer numb is pretty much the worst. By the time I got to the recovery room it was after midnight and was covered in barf. Needless to say, Cameron and I didn't get much sleep that night. By the time I got cleaned up and settled for the night it was into the wee hours of the morning and I spent the rest of the night getting mine and Penny's vitals checked (what felt like every 5 minutes) and having my nurse kindly remind me multiple times that if I was going to sleep "baby needs to be in the bassinet" I would politely nod and continue snuggling my girl. #rebel

I had a liquid diet the first full day in order to keep my nausea under control and my dizziness wasn't as bad as it was the first time, thank goodness. The rest of my hospital stay is kind of a blur. Penny was great nurser from the beginning-yay! This was a miracle for me because with Nathan he was such a bad nurser at the beginning that I had blisters and was literally crying from the pain for about the first two weeks. 
Tuesday Nathan came to meet baby sister. His reaction was just about what we thought it would be. He was more interested in squeezing the nose aspirator and walking around the hospital room than seeing Penny. 
We kept trying to get him to give her a kiss and finally he leaned over to me and whispers, "no, it's yucky." I'm not sure if "it" was Penny, or "it" was kissing. My guess is Penny. I think it freaked him out that her eyes were closed so tight because he kept saying, "eyes." Don't worry, Nathan, she wont be like this forever. 

Haha, totally freaked out in this picture. He told Cameron she was "too heavy"

As far as Penny's health they were concerned she might have Jaundice but thankfully her numbers stayed in the healthy range-thank goodness. One night the nurse was checking her vitals and she said she was concerned about her resting heartbeat being too low. So, against my better over-protective judgment, I let Cameron sleep instead of going with the nurse when she took her to "monitor her for a little bit." We were both so exhausted I knew we needed the sleep. So the nurse wheeled Penny out and Cameron and I fell immediately to sleep. Welp, THREE HOURS later I wake up and Penny is not in the room with us. I yelled at Cameron, "CAMERON!!!" (this was not an angry yell, but a yell because he was snoring and sleeping so soundly it took a yell to wake him up even from a few feet away) "Penny isn't in the room with us! The nurse was going to monitor her heart, where is she?" I was freakkkked out. Literally 15 seconds later the nurse wheels Penny into the room and she is fast asleep in her bassinet. The nurse goes, "she was sleeping so soundly I just kept her with me and let you guys sleep." Well, you could have told me that so I didn't panic. The next day Penny got an EKG,

It hated to see her hooked up to the monitors and worried what the test would say. Heart problems are a big deal! A big deal that people deal with for the rest of their lives! Thankfully when our pediatrician came in and checked the results and listened to Penny's heart he said she was perfectly fine and there was no irregularities with her heart.

Mama finally had the strength and the go-ahead from the doctor to take a shower-unfortunately in the first family pictures I hadn't taken a shower yet and look terrible. I am still pretty swollen in this picture-I get especially swollen when I am on an IV, but that first shower post C-section is amazing. I felt like a new woman. 

Our friends Wes and Nicole Mallett gave us this cutie beanie that says, "Penny" on it. We love it!

On Thursday both Penny and I were given permission to go home. Thank goodness. It is so nice to go home and sleep in your own bed and get away from the sleep disruptions and uncomfortable bed at the hospital.

Going home!

 So, honestly, this was really hard. It sucked. It sucked that I ended up in the hospital. It sucked that I had to get cut open again. It sucked that I ended up in a situation again where I felt betrayed by my body and disappointed in myself. I have to allow myself to admit that or this wont be honest. It's really hard for me to not see this as a failure. I worked so hard for almost a year of my life to prepare my body for natural childbirth. It was on my mind 24/7. I wanted it SO BADLY. And I am allowing myself to feel sad about it.

Although I am disappointed, I will say this: I know that Heavenly Father had a plan for Penny and I. I know that I was prompted to take this path even though Heavenly Father knew what my end results were going to be. As time goes on I have realized that I would not change my choice if I could go back. I had so many positive experiences throughout this pregnancy, I was more comfortable, my healing process has been quicker and easier, and I feel much better mentally and emotionally than I did after having Nathan. I know that my recovery has been better because of the way that I took care of my body during pregnancy. I am so grateful to Justine for the love and service she provided me and my family and for her dedication to me as her client even after I ended up in the hospital. I owe her a great debt of gratitude. I am also so grateful that my family is living with my parents and I have been given the help and support I have needed with a 2 year old and a newborn after a C-section. I literally do not think I could have managed it alone. My parents have helped me with Nathan, making sure he is loved and nurtured and taken care of as well as Penny and I. And of course, my sweet wonderful husband, Cameron. I don't know how women do it with husbands who don't help. Cameron has bent over backwards to do anything and everything to help. I can see in his face and in his actions that he wishes he could do more to help and just knowing that makes me feel better. I am grateful to a Heavenly Father who preserved the life of my baby girl, who allowed her to be born healthy, and allowed Cameron and I to be her parents. We understand and feel the responsibility of that calling. I am so grateful for friends and family who were praying for us who called and texted and worried for us. Although things didn't end up like I wanted and although I am still grieving over the birth that I wanted, I am so grateful every day as I cuddle this sweet bundle straight from heaven.

We are blessed.