24 May 2012

The US vs the UK: Part 1

In the weeks leading up to the birth of Lowri to say that I was nervous would be an understatement. It's funny because looking back I was not really nervous at all about Eleri. I knew my options, or lack thereof, and I had genuinely convinced myself that it would not be that bad. I read books on natural childbirth, went to classes,watched videos, and then read some more books. I really felt prepared.

The truth of the matter was simple. On one hand I could have as much pain relief as I wanted. But an epidural also came with a stay on the 'ward' side of the hospital. Two to a birthing suite and then 6 women plus their babies to a room. The UK does not have a fancy nursery for babies that you can call whenever you want and they will come get your child. Nope, baby stays with mom 100% of the time. Or, on the other hand, I could have a private room to give birth in, a private room to stay in and a private bathroom in the birthing center. But no pain relief. Ok, I take that back. 'Gas and Air' was offered, which is nitrous oxide, but i could never grasp the breathing/sucking on the mask, carrying the big tube around and dealing with contractions. To me it was an easy decision. Private room. Birthing center. Natural birth. Not a question.

But this time around was different. Because of the complications I knew I was going to have to be induced a month early. It made sense that if I was going to be medically induced then there was really no point in going natural after that. I may as well opt for the epidural. So that was my plan. Easy right? You would think that after giving birth to a nine and half pound baby naturally I would have no qualms about an epidural on what was almost guaranteed to be a much smaller baby.

But I was scared. Really scared.

It was one third scared of the unknown and two thirds terrified of the aftermath. I had no idea what an epidural would be like. Would it work? Would I feel anything? Would I have back pain or headache issues afterwards? I didn't know what to expect and that was making me nervous. But mostly I was having serious anxiety about the hours and days following the birth.

I had no idea just how traumatic Eleri's birth had been to me until Lowri's got closer. When I looked back, I thought about the labour part. Granted that was not the most fun I have ever had, but it was manageable. So I had convinced myself that whilst it was different in the UK, it wasn't really all that bad and I had been just fine.  But it was what happened afterwards that really scared me. E was born at 8:08 pm.  Hospital visiting hours were over at 8. They let Rhys and my mom stay for about an hour afterwards. They brought in tea and toast, because that is all you are allowed after birth, and when we finished the midwives said it was time for them to go. I had gone through 22 hours of labour in the most interesting, and painful, positions possible. My baby came out dark purple and not breathing. She was breathing by this point, but still fairly dark in colour. My arms were so weak that I could not pick her up. I was bleeding profusely- quite possibly from having to walk down the hall to get stitches and then walk back to my room. I had already soaked through my sheets twice. I was mentally, physically and emotionally spent. And now my husband and mother were being told to leave and here I was alone. Alone with a baby that wasn't even 2 hours old.

I love Eleri so much that it hurts, so hear my heart when I write this- that first night alone with E was without a doubt the worst night of my entire life. She screamed and I couldn't calm her down. She wanted to eat and I couldn't get her to latch on. I fainted twice when I got up to go to the bathroom. I bled through my sheets again, and when I called up to the midwife desk to ask for new sheets, they brought some in, put them on a chair and said I could change them when I got a chance. I couldn't do it; I tired, but my muscles wouldn't work. I laid in bloody sheets all night. (to be fair, they did change them about 6 the next morning when they came in and slipped in the pool of blood that had gathered under my bed)

I was terrified and exhausted and all alone. I did not have a clue what to do. I called Rhys and my mom countless times, but there was nothing they could do. Visiting hours were over and they were not allowed back in. The midwives were understaffed and had to see to the women giving birth. I was completely on my own. I know I have blogged about this before, but at one point Eleri was crying so much, and I was so broken and at a loss that I summoned every last bit of strength I had, picked her up, and walked around the room, sobbing and reciting Bible verses to her over and over. I couldn't think of anything else to do. I was miserable.

Rhys stood outside of the ward doors for about 2 hours the next morning buzzing, asking to be let in. When he was finally allowed in, they released me to go home- almost exactly 12 hours on the dot after E was born. I could barely stand, let alone walk but I somehow managed to hobble to the car.  Once I got home, I was so shattered from the birth and that first night, that I was pretty much useless for weeks. Literally weeks. I struggled to do anything, I was an emotional wreck. I had nightmares about waking up alone, with just the baby. I even struggled to want to be around E for a while. I was traumatised.

Obviously things evened out and most of the horrid details of the aftermath were shut away somewhere else in my brain. But as the birth of Lowri got closer, those memories came flooding back with such a force that I nearly lost it.

Rhys and I talked about it constantly; how all of the things I was fearful of were circumstantial. He would be allowed to stay, the room would be private regardless, I would not have to bring in my own sheets, towels, pillows etc... There was a nursery for Lowri if I needed a break, the bed was not a metal frame without a mattress at the head, and the nurses in the US actually helped you with things like bleeding and sheet changing. I knew all of those things in my head, but I had a hard time believing that. I made Rhys promise multiple times a day that he wouldn't leave. And I packed extra things in my hospital bag just in case it wasn't as glorious as everyone said it would be.

Rhys told me to stop comparing the two. But the only other place I have given birth is the UK, it was the only experience I had to fall back on. The more I thought about Eleri's birth (aftermath) the more I feared Lowri's.

But the day came regardless. 12 May, 5am sharp at the hospital to be induced. It was a strange feeling, but also an completely unavoidable situation. The baby had to come out, and soon. So here I was, facing labour, delivery and recovery once again.

10 May 2012

Lowri's Room

Lowri's room is done, more or less. The only thing that is really lacking are pictures on the wall. Maybe Rhys will hang those tonight. Or maybe it will be a few more weeks. But regardless, the majority is finished and here it is!
This is the view when you walk in. The dresser was actually my dresser in middle school. Getting lots of use out of that! Since LG's room is also the 'guest room', we decided to get a pull out couch so that when our international family and friends came to stay, there would be room. It is a surprisingly comfy couch. Plus, I love the look.

The bedding is Pottery Barn, Brooke. It was Eleri's bedding when she was tiny. Well, it still is Eleri's bedding, she just has the 'grown up' version on her big girl bed. I love this bedding. As shallow as it sounds, one of the reasons I wanted another girl was so that we could re-use this bedding.

Here is a close up of the monogramed L pillow that matches the set. Again, love it. The little doll was one of E's favourites back in the UK. It is from the most amazing baby store, Mama's and Papa's. E so generously donated her doll to 'baby sister wow-wi'.

Our house was built in 1984. The man who lived here before us bought the house brand new in 84. He was a Marine for almost 30 years and when he retired from the Marine Corps, he became a police officer. He retired the year before we bought the house from him. He was single, never married, had a giant German Shepherd and never updated the house. What is the point of the background story? To point out just how outdated and unkept the house was. It was a single man, and a hardcore 'man's man' at that!

Lowri's room was by far the worst. Ugly carpet, outdated paint colour that was chipping and folding closet doors that were broken and missing a few pieces. Something had to be done. But doors are so expensive. So we opted for an expandable curtain rod and some light, white curtains. Done. LG's closet problem fixed.

One of the first things I did when we found out we were having another girl was to go through Eleri's clothes. We pulled everything out of boxes, rewashed and put away. I am so very thankful that we did that because as a result, I have bought nothing for LG. Well, thats a lie. I bought her a new 'coming home' outfit. But other than that, nothing. In my head I knew I had gone a little crazy buying things for E, but because our flat was so tiny, whenever E outgrew something, we shipped boxes to either Wales or America. Because of that, this is the first time that Eleri's clothes have been out, all together, in one place.

uh, yeah. we are pretty set in terms of clothes for our next 8 children. (so long as they are girls!) Hanging are 0-9 months. the big tub on the floor is 9-18 months. Seriously, I went overboard. The moral of the story is to keep clothes in one place so you know what you have. Or to not spend so wasterfully on clothes. It is sad, I know. But at least I'm being honest about the closet. (and never buy us clothes!!)

Here are a few of the things that will be up on the walls. (Hopefully by tonight.) Below is a hand carved, wooden light fixture. One of my closest friends in the UK has Danish family. When we went to visit Denmark we got to know her aunt, uncle and cousins who live in Copenhagen. They are wonderful! Seriously, amazing people. My friends uncle is an incredibly talented wood carver. He makes everything from furniture pieces to things such as this light. I made a comment that I really liked the light fixture and he took it upon himself to make me one. As a complete surprise he carved it in Denmark, packaged it, and brought it with him the next time he flew to the UK. Amazing! I love it so much and even though it wont work as a light because at the moment it still has Danish plugs, I love the look and the story. Up on LG's wall it will go.

And this will go above the changing table to add some colour.

There you have it. That is basically the room. We plan on hanging a set of 6 or 7 pictures above the couch along with the Danish light, and then it will be complete. But it is pretty much there now. Which is great because little Lowri Grace will join us on Saturday! Only 2 days away!!

6 May 2012

less than a week

In just 6 short days I will be able to hold little Lowri Grace in my arms. I am pretty excited about this for several reasons, mostly because my body is so very tired of carrying her around. I dont remember pregnancy being so uncomfortable with Eleri. And that is even with almost 30 weeks of constant throwing up. But as they say, every pregnancy is different and that has proven to be very true in my case. The two could not have been more different. It has been busy the last few weeks and I suspect it is not going to slow down any time soon. I turned 30, had a great birthday dinner with some dear friends, went to an Artic Monkeys and The Black Keys concert, had another amazing birthday dinner with my family and then yet another meal out with some other great friends. My mom also watched E a few nights in there so Rhys and I could have some time and sleep in as late as we wanted. We took E to the zoo as her big special treat before Lowri enters the mix. That child could go to the zoo everyday if we would let her. She loves animals. I finished Lowri's nursery (pictures tomorrow) and am working on packing my bag for the hospital. So yeah, busy. Then after saturday we have a new tiny little person to look after and that, I am sure, will be crazy in and of itself. But I am thrilled that it is only 6 days away. I cannot wait to see the little miracle that is my precious Lowri Grace. I can't wait! oh...and because the experience of birth int he UK is SO different than here, I am a bit unsure what to take in my hospital bag. What did you guys take with you? any adivce is much appreciated.