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Friday, April 29, 2011

Vacation Question

We're in the process of planning our first official vacation as a married couple.

And we've been married for almost 3 years!

Due to circumstances, some beyond our control (losing our job, getting delayed in starting our new one,) and some within our control (choosing to spend money on things like living room furniture or towards student loan debt,) we have not yet had the funds to take an actual vacation.

About 10 months ago, we set up an extra bank account to automatically put money in towards a vacation fund. We've dipped into it twice now, for spending the night in the Big City, but other than that we've been able to save some (a very tiny amount) of money.

All of that to say, we're finally starting to think about where and when we want to take that first vacation.

We know we want to get out of the Arabic speaking world, to give our minds a break and to be able to let our cross cultural guards down a little bit- so that rules out the Middle East, parts of Eastern Europe, and some of North Africa.

We also know that our work is flying us to Turkey, for a conference, in the fall, so we want to not use up all of our vacation funds in case we want to extend our time in Turkey into a mini vacation.

We also don't really feel like venturing into Asia right about now. Truth be told, Asia isn't high on my world traveling priority list, I'm not really sure why.

We'd really like to go somewhere where we have friends, in order to get some fellowship and it not just being Ian, myself, and Grace, in a foreign country (because we do that enough already, honestly.)

So, we're looking at going to France! In August! It's just an inkling of an idea, so we'll see if it actually pans out. We have friends that live in a Mediterranean coastal town in France so we'd have free lodging for awhile.

We know we'd fly in and out of Paris, so we would just have to book a hotel for a couple of nights. (This part makes me nervous- does anyone have a place they would recommend?)

My real question is....How do you do it? How do you plan a vacation to a foreign country (or, I guess anywhere,) and not feel like you have to see everything?

I figure, we'll only go to France once on vacation- how do we manage to fit in everything in that whole country into just two weeks? This stresses me out to no end. I know France has so much more to offer than the couple of days we can give it, but narrowing down what we will see is going to be tough.

(I've been to Paris, by the way, but only for about 24-36 hours, before we moved on, so I know we'll go back and see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre. What else in France do you think are "must sees?")

I suppose this post should have been entitled vacation questions, since this turned out to have more than one question. Any and all advice is appreciated here!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why, Hello There.

Why, hello there.
My name is Grace. I'm currently blissfully unaware about what is about to occur.

Here comes Momma and she has a suspicious grin on her face.
Oh, Crap. Not this again.

I'm really modest in my heart and hate it when I am not covered.

Momma says I'll fit right in here in the Middle East. Something about a newborn sized burqa. I'm not really sure, but if it means I can avoid diaper and clothes changes, I'm all for it.

Well, this is a new one.

I've never sat in water before.

At least, not since I've been born.

Daddy washes me in a giant seashell shaped sink. Perhaps I'll burst into "Part of Your World," or "Under the Sea," any moment now.

I really don't mind it though. Warm water, talking, and eventually.....

Cuddling!
I'll say this was a satisfactory experience.
And also, I have giant eyes.

Just FYI.

(and Grace!)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Three Weeks, Grace!

(Grace, in her Easter outfit from her Gammie and PaPaw- my parents.)

Clothes: Grace is still wearing newborn sized clothes and diapers. A few of her outfits actually fit her right now, so that is encouraging! We learned the true difference between regular diapers and "premium," diapers, as the regular ones almost repel liquid- not good!

Food: We're still switching between a 2 and a half and a 3 hour schedule, depending on what the day looks like and how hungry she is. We received some Mylicon in a care package and just started using it, so hopefully the post meal gas that she has been having will get better!

Sleep: She is definitely not on any sort of a schedule yet, though I suppose she tends to sleep solidly for 2-3 daytime naps and at least 1 four hour shift at night- we just never know when those sleep periods will land!

Activity: Grace's awake time has increased more and more and she will sit contently in her bouncy seat for 10-15 minutes (she won't sleep if the vibrations are on, but she still likes it!) Though this might fall under the "sleep" category, if we go out of the house and put her in her car seat, she instantly falls asleep! We keep taking her out of the house to try to stimulate her, and she keeps sleeping! We received a mobile for her crib and it looks like she likes it!

Personality: I'm not sure if much has surfaced about her personality this week, but we have learned how to identify several of her cries, which makes it easier to soothe her!

Miscellaneous:
*We gave her her first real bath on Wednesday and she liked it!
*We went out of the house for the first time this week, several times, to run errands and she was an absolute angel. She falls asleep as soon as the car is turned on and sleeps the entire time!
*She had her first diaper rash (stupid normal diapers- we WILL be paying more for those premium ones again,) and also her first projectile vomiting experience. Awesome.
*She's developing so much muscle control of her arms, and often pushes us away when our hands are near her face. I'm sure it's more involuntary/reflex than intentional, but still!
*Though we wanted to avoid it if possible, we've become a Pacifier Family. It's how we are keeping our sanity. We try to save it for when we are exhausted or nearing the end of our rope, and it soothes her about half of the time. The other half of the time she rejects it. Blah.
*We were able to show her off to family and friends this week via Skype, meaning we are just about all caught up on introductions.

Happy Easter 2011, from the Galloways!

Friday, April 22, 2011

This & That

{warning: randomness to follow. be prepared}

*I never got a chance to blog about this, but the Friday before I went into labor, Ian surprised me with an overnight trip to the big city! It was a belated birthday gift (my birthday was in February,) but our Norwegian friend come to stay so he wasn't able to take me away until late March. Turns out, it was perfect timing since just one week later Grace arrived! We got in a little bit of a babymoon after all, I suppose. We ate at American restaurants, I got a manicure and pedicure, we tried to see a movie, but that failed, and we sunned up on the deck of the roof top pool. *Sigh...* It was perfect.

*Speaking of our Norwegian friend, he texted us from Egypt, which was his next stop after us. He's doing great and is loving his adventurous lifestyle.

*My maternity leave is almost up, just one more sweet week of at home time. I won't lie. I naively thought maternity leave would be much more relaxing, thinking my newborn babe would just be sleeping most of the time. Ha.

*My brother-in-law gets married tomorrow. It's very bittersweet for us since this is the first major family event that we will be missing. I'm sure there will be more and that's just sad. Our company has a "no returning to the States," for your first 1-2 years (depending on your supervisor,) policy, to discourage people from going through reverse culture shock or from even leaving the company due to homesickness when they return to the States. I totally understand, and we knew what we were getting into when we signed up, but it is still hard.

*Easter is in two days! We kind of keep forgetting about it because the commercial side of Easter is non existent over here, so there aren't visual reminders everywhere! We really only have one option for Easter morning, and that is a sunrise (uh...5:45 am?) service in the desert. We have a 3 week old, so, No thanks. I do want to go though, just so that we'll actually get to worship corporately on the day when our Savior rose!

*I watched 9 episodes of The Biggest Loser in 2 days. In case you are wondering, that is almost 16 hours worth of tv. I should be ashamed, but I am SO not.

*Ethical question: If a child, who you are not particularly endeared to, paints a pictures for your newborn baby and then her mom goes out and buys an actual frame for it, gives you said picture for your baby's nursery, is it wrong not to put it up permanently because 1) it doesn't match, and 2.) it's made by a 10 year old. Need I say more? So my question is, is it morally or ethically wrong or right to put the painting out on display only when this child visits?

Yeah... because I need an answer for this one.

*I'm almost all caught up on my Skype calls. YAY! It's taken forever to schedule calls with family and friends to show off Grace and rehash the whole birth story.

*We had an invasion of ants in our apartment- 2 different types actually. Ian spent the afternoon deep vacuuming and laying down ant killer powder around the edges of the room. Hopefully this will do the trick. I hate bugs in the house, not because I dislike bugs, but because it makes me feel dirty- like I'm living in squalor.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Two Weeks, Grace!

Clothes: She is still wearing size one (newborn,) diapers and newborn clothes. I think we'll be in these sizes for at least another two weeks. Though she's beginning to fill out, it's only by the smallest amounts. All of her sleepers are so long on her and just swallow her up!

Food: Grace has been very hungry this last week, and we've switched from a solid 3 hour schedule to going between a 2 or a 3 hour schedule, depending on how hungry she is. We are wanting to transition back to a 3 hour schedule but won't until we know she is for sure getting enough to eat.

Sleep: When we switched from a 3 hour schedule to a 2 hour schedule, it interrupted her sleep schedule. She was fuller more often and basically slept the days away in a milk coma but then had her awake hours in the middle of the night. We're working on correcting that.

On a side note, I know I just used the word "schedule," alot, but I use that term loosely. Really "routine," could be used in place of schedule but I want to emphasize that we strongly believe in flexible scheduling, even with newborns. It's what has worked for us and Grace is a great sleeper and eater, we believe, because of it.

Activity: Grace's awake time has increased, especially in the last 2 to 3 days. You can tell she's working on developing muscle control and loves grasping on to the edge of her blanket or our fingers. She'll track objects and sits in our arms contently if we read/talk to her. We've started using a bouncy seat to keep her awake after her feedings, since she won't fall asleep while it is on. She loves when we move her legs around for her or when we unswaddle her so she can squirm as we think it helps relieve some gas pressure.

Personality: What a diva! She's usually a calm baby, but change her diaper or her clothes and she screams bloody murder. We've even taken to turning off the AC in her room when we have to change her, but it hasn't seemed to make a difference.

Miscellaneous:
*Ian started back to school during this week and Grace was great for me during the week!
*We gave Grace her first and second sponge baths (outside of the hospital,) and she loved getting a lotion rub down afterwards!
*Her umbilical stump fell off at 12 days old and we look forward to giving her a real bath as soon as we pick up her baby bath (today!)
*Her hands disturb her sleep so much. If she isn't swaddled she'll wake herself up with her hands every 10 minutes or so. Poor Baby!
*She makes the funniest faces! I need to work on capturing them while she still makes them!
*Grace is a total daddy's girl. If, after she's eaten, she gets fussy, I am no comfort to her and only her daddy can soothe her!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reads.

Today at Kelly's Korner is Show Us Your Life Fridays and since the topic is something near and dear to my heart (books!) I decided to join in.

First, let me tell you that this Friday (which, in the Middle East acts like a Saturday since the weekend is Friday/Saturday,) we've done absolutely nothing! Grace's sleep schedule was way off but we got 2 four hour shifts in before we started our day and then we spent the whole morning and afternoon on the couch, napping, watching tv, reading blogs before settling down to watch the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings while a sand/wind storm kicked up into high gear outside. What an amazing movie! I haven't seen it in probably 2 or 3 years and I'm always so impressed! My parents got us all three on Blu-Ray so I'm sure we'll be watching the other two soon.

All of that to say that, no, I have never read the Lord of the Rings.

{hanging my head in shame}

But here is what I have been reading: (all images from Amazon.com)

Just Finished:


Crucial Conversations{an awesome book for any person, whether for business or just family interpersonal dynamics! I'm an avoider and stuffer and this book was perfect for helping me learn how to address issues that I would typically need to confront but, well, I avoid them! I'll reread it in a year or two to brush up on what I learned!}

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
{Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series are my guilty pleasure reads. I've ventured to a few of her other non series books but they are not as clean as the Shopaholic series is. Also, if you saw the movie, please don't judge the books based off of that! I was so disappointed in the movie and I LOVE the books. They make me actually laugh out loud the entire time!}

Reading Now:


Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

{Oi. Vey. This one is taking me forever to read. I've written several times about the holes in my literary education pertaining to all things classical literature, and I've been working on filling in those holes. I thought for sure that I should tackle a Charles Dickens book, since I haven't read anything by him since A Christmas Carol in 2009. It's really good, it's just really slow going!}

Live Fearlessly: A Study in the book of Joshua
{I started this study while living in Vancouver, Canada, last summer, but when we packed and moved here, it got lost in a sea of books and clothes and I just started it back up. I love how this study is written and how it is very thought provoking with out being time intensive or requiring videos or discussion groups.}

Next up to Read:

(I know a bit in advance what my options are to read next are, since we don't have an English bookstore in this town, and the big town next to us has limited options. That means we have to drive the 2 hours to the big city to stock up on books or have people ship us them!

Bringing up Girls by Dr. James Dobson{My parents, who raised two daughters, recommended and gifted this book to us. I'm sure alot of it won't come into play for awhile, but I'll read through it once now to get an idea of when I need to reread it, if that makes sense!}

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

{Love the broadway musical, love the movie, now I want to see how closely they stick to their literary counterpart!}

Love & Respect

{A Sunday School class in the States sent us a care package with a bunch of date night and marriage things (movies, candy, games, marriage books,) and this was one of them! I've heard such good things about this book and I figure after having a baby and having our family dynamics change might be a good time to spend on our marriage!}

What are you reading?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Home Sweet Home

In case you haven't already, check out our Early Labor, Labor & Delivery, and Hospital Stay stories.

Grace and I were discharged from the hospital around noon on Tuesday, April 5th.
Grace was SO tiny in her newborn sized going home outfit and looked even tinier in her infant carrier seat!

Ian made several trips out to the car to get everything packed away then made one final trip to get Grace and I.
Before going home, we stopped by a mall to get groceries and lunch. Ian carried Grace in and sat her on a table where I sat with her while Ian did the grocery and lunch run. In hindsight, we should have just stayed in the car. The walk into the mall just about did me in! I had cold sweats and the shakes and began having some terrible pain all before Ian made it back to us. I was in tears and told him I just wanted to get home, so he made a quick Subway/McDonald's run and then we skidaddled back to the car.

We were able to cross the border without any hiccups, praise the Lord! Considering Grace didn't even have her real birth certificate, let alone a passport, the border guards really could care less.

We pulled up to our building and I let out a giant sigh of contentment. Home, at last!

We had a bunch of visitors come over that evening, and I won't lie, it was a bit overwhelming. Our apartment is pretty tiny and there were kids and adults stuffed into 10x12 family room and at one point, one of the children told me he was sick that week and I had a melt down.

I took Grace into her nursery, fed her, and stayed in until I was 1) all calm and 2) everyone was gone. ha! Our friends are awesome, it was just alot to take in at once.

Since then, I've done alot better with saying "No, Thank you," to visits and protecting Grace's health first and foremost.

I'm not really sure what the next several days contained. Lots of laying around on the couch, nursing, burping (the baby, not myself), watching Gilmore Girls, and blog reading.

Grace fell into a pretty natural routine around hour 48 of being home, where she feeds every 3 hours on the dot, even during the night. We're thankful for this routine as it helps us plan out our day, but we're still pretty flexible. For example, yesterday she slept right through her 4 am feeding (and, honestly, so did I-otherwise I would have woken her up,) and when she woke up at 6, she was famished, so I fed her, then refed her at 7 (she was still hungry!)

Her coloring has changed alot from this picture. She was so dark and red when we first brought her home, but she's much paler now. Her eyes are still indistinguishable in color but her hair is still there (when or will it fall out?)
During the night, I get up at the feeding times, feed her, rewrap her, and put her down, while Ian gets up with any fussiness in between feeding times. He's gotten 3 or 4 nights straight of 6-7 hours of straight sleep since she isn't waking up for anything between feedings. Yay! Can't wait until we feel like she is big enough/strong enough to make it a little longer between night feedings. We're just taking it one day at a time right now though.
I've lived in my pajamas now for over a week and I'm really okay with that! Grace and I had our first day alone yesterday, as Ian started back to school. It was a perfect day, with Grace eating and falling back to sleep for the rest of the 3 hour shift until I rewoke her. I watched Girls Just Want to Have Fun and 13 Going on 30 until Ian came home.

Today, our 2nd day, was really NOT good. She fussed all morning and couldn't get comfortable due to some gas. Poor girl. We're praying for a good nights sleep and a good day by ourselves tomorrow. Who knows.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hospital Stay

Check out our Early Labor and Labor & Delivery stories before moving on to part 3 of Grace's birth story!

We left off with Grace being in the NICU for basic observation and Ian and I still in the delivery room trying to relax.

We were moved to a postpartum room at 1 am, on Sunday, April 3rd, and shortly after that we got permission to have me wheeled to the NICU.

We were buzzed in and weaved our way through isolettes and heating tables to the back of the room. There our little, baby girl was in an isolette. She was hooked up to tubes and had monitors on her. I asked if I could hold her and was told I couldn't, because she wasn't stable enough.

I won't beat around it, I was shocked. Ian had just come and checked on her an hour before hand. She wasn't hooked up to things, she was only on a heating table, and he had been able to hold her, no problem at all!

I fought back emotions as I reached through the holes and touched her sweet hands and told her how much I loved her. We weren't really sure (and still aren't) what went wrong in that hour, but her respiratory rates were high and she was on some IV antibiotics (still not clear what that was for, since they told us that she definitely hadn't inhaled into her lungs the meconium.)

We said good-night, headed back to our room, and had a restless night. Ian slept alright on a mattress on the floor, but I was sleeping in half hour increments as nurses came in and out to check different things, ask permission for Grace's medical care, and as I battled with the emotions of having given birth and not being able to take care of my baby.

Around 9, we began to get up and get showered. My doctor, who wasn't there for the birth, stopped by our room to check on us and answer some questions we had about the immunizations they give in this country.

By 10:00 we were on our way to the NICU and this time we were able to hold Grace! I wish I had gotten a picture during that first time holding her, but I was a little preoccupied with loving on my baby. We got to try nursing and then we headed back to our room.

Ian ran out to get food, as there is no food services in this hospital so we would have to provide our own meals. I rested and ate when he returned, then had a family from our language school come visit us. Right around 2:30 we returned to the NICU for another feeding. Our friends A and K arrived at the hospital for a visit, so Ian went to pick them up in the lobby and take them to our room while I finished feeding Grace. Right as I was finishing, the fourth or fifth nurse came in to check on how Grace was latching on and feeding, and she told me she was signing off on Grace's papers so that she could come to our room!

I thought that would mean a couple of hours until we'd have her with us, so I headed back to our room and just 10 minutes later they wheeled Grace in! Her respiratory rates had stabilized and they were able to finish some of the IV meds so she was cord free. Our friends stayed for a little over an hour then headed to a mall to pick us up dinner. We enjoyed our evening alone with our daughter and were so excited to finally have her with us!


Our night was restless. She spat up for several hours and I was very unsettled by this (as she seemed to be spitting up more than she'd actually eaten.)

Nurses came in about every 30 minutes or so to check me, my blood pressure, my temperature, give me medicine, check on our breastfeeding, tell us we weren't wrapping her up enough (they like to have a TON of wrapping on babies,) check her temperature, check her blood pressure, or administer more IV meds.

It was a long night.

Monday, April 4th rolled around and we spent the morning hanging out in our room. We had a visit from our friend L and her daughter M and they administered Grace's last dose of IV medicines then took out her IV port in her hand that had begun to cause her some pain. The doctor told us he was going to discharge us both right then, but that we would have to return in the morning to have several blood tests run on Grace (to monitor the amount of medicines in her blood stream and to check for a thyroid issue.)

Seeing as we live across an international border from our hospital, and that Grace wouldn't have a passport for several months, we wanted to eliminate any trips across the border that we could, plus avoid the stress of returning on that long drive with a 4 day old. We looked into it and found out we could opt to stay another night, and since our insurance company had given us a cash advance to pay for the birth, we had enough to cover the costs.

Tuesday night was a little better, with Grace having some gas issues from about 10 pm until 4 am, but we woke up excited to know we were heading home. Ian went out in search of food for us while I began packing up our gear and while the lab techs came in and drew blood from Grace. Ian took care of all of the paperwork, we had a final consultation with our nurse, and then we were out of there a little before noon on Tuesday, April 5th!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy One Week, Grace!


It's hard to believe that our little Grace has been with us for one week now. It has been a week of indescribable joy and inexplicable happiness. Ian and I are learning so much and growing together as new parents.

Grace weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces and was 19 inches long at birth. Our hospital didn't reweigh her when we left and we don't go back until she is one month, so I'm curious at how much weight she lost in the first few days and how she is gaining.

Clothes: She wears size one diapers and is in newborn clothes. Both are too big on her and the clothes swallow her whole! She's kind of particular about clothes- she seems to get fussy if the material isn't super soft or if the seams are rougher or if they aren't tight enough on her (she can't wear her gowns yet because they don't hold her tight.) I know that sounds crazy, that a baby could be particular about clothes, but it makes sense to me- her nervous system is on overdrive and she can't take in touch much outside stimuli.

Food: Grace is breastfeeding really well and we are so blessed by this. I wasn't able to try feeding her right after she was born because she was taken to the NICU, but I was able to the following day, about 12 hours after she was born, which was exciting. She latches on correctly and as long as I relax and am not stressed it is a great experience. My milk came in about 48 hours after she was born and she is one happy feeder!

There was about 48 hours where she didn't have a bowel movement as we went from colostrum to milk and I was a little concerned but on our second day home she showed us who was boss and let's just say we are no longer concerned, ha!

She feeds every 2 1/2 to 3 hours for about 30 minutes at each feeding, during the day and during the night she feeds every 3-4 hours. We're getting in 8-9 feedings a day and she seems to have settled into a nice routine.

Sleep: Grace sleeps pretty much any time she's not eating. Ha! She has a few sporadic moments of alertness but other than that she's asleep. She loves to sleep in warm PJ's and all swaddled up. She sleeps at night in her crib and naps during the day in our pack n' play in the family room. Occassionally she wakes up crying during her naps, but a quick snuggle or a walk around the house usually settles her down. We've tried not to use a Paci, but 2 or 3 times when she was inconsolable we've popped it in, only for her to make faces like "what the heck is this? this isn't food!" but it usually confuses her enough to calm her down!

Miscellaneous:
*My favorite cry of Grace's is this slow non piercing cry that literally sounds like "Wa-Ahhhh." It makes me laugh every time.
*Grace makes this singular hiccup sound and it sounds like a drunk hiccup. It cracks us up and we call her Squeekers, because of it.
*Grace has a tendency not to actually wet her diapers until it's changing time. Probably 8 out of 10 diapers are dry until after I open them and wait for a minute or two. Sure enough, it'll be wet! Sorry if that's too much information, but we think it's funny. Now we are just trying to figure out if it is the cold air or if it's because she gets worked up during diaper changes.
*Grace really wants to be a thumb sucker. Problem is, she can't figure out what to do with her other four fingers. Usually she gets her thumb in and then the rest of her fingers fish hook her eyelids and she gets upset/hurt.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Labor & Delivery

Make sure you're read about the Early Labor before moving on to the Labor & Delivery story!

I also would like to make an addendum to the last post, since in my sleep deprived haze I forgot to mention a very important fact.

I wrote about how the Lord brought me peace through Psalm 121. I had been worried about which border to cross through and was worried alot about the timing of everything.

Then God reminded me to "Lift up my eyes to the hills," in Psalm 121, and wouldn't you know it? The desert border post is surrounded by rugged mountains and hills, while the other border post is in town, not near any hills or mountains. I didn't realize this until we were already on the road to the desert post and tears came to my eyes as I realized that the Lord was Sovereign, even in this {scary} situation.

Alright. Addendum over. Moving on.

I left off by saying we arrived safely at the hospital.

We checked in and were ushered into a curtained off bed area, similar to a triage or ER situation. They didn't have me change or anything, just crawled into bed, hooked me up to a contraction and fetal heart rate monitor, then waited for 20 minutes or so in order to get a good reading on what was going on.

The nurse confirmed that my contractions were indeed 3 minutes apart, then she did an exam (my first exam for the pregnancy!) and found out I was only 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced.

She had me stay on the monitors for another 30 minutes and then gave me the option to get up and walk around, to try to speed up the effacement. I agreed and Ian and I took off for the majilis, or sitting room/museum of the hospital. Round and round we walked and I quickly realized that we weren't having to stop for contractions at all- they had completely stopped!

Two of my friends arrived, A and L, and we stood around talking for awhile before I had to dash off for the restroom again. I felt a little tired so I sat back down on my bed before rejoining the group out in the lobby. After about 10 more minutes I decided it was time to go lay back down. Ian stayed in the lobby and the girls joined me in my "room."

I knew I wasn't going to be checked again for 4 hours from the time we checked in and was anxious for 11:30 to arrive. We laid around chatting and when it was time to be checked, the girls went out and Ian came in, only to find out I was still 3 cm and was now only 70% effaced (she had checked me before in the middle of a contractions, hence it seemed like I was more,) and that my contractions were sporadic, if happening at all.

Boo.

The girls had gone to get lunch and we were moved to a real delivery room.

I began to relax a little and my contractions returned to their 3 minute apart glory.

Hallelujah.

I loved watching the machine that monitors the contractions and Grace's heart beat and spent most of my time staring at it. We ate subway for lunch (the nurses let me eat and drink the entire time, is that normal in the States?) and around 4 I was checked by a doctor and told I was 4 cm and 90% effaced. The nurse tried breaking my waters and sweeping my membranes, but, for reasons still unknown to me, neither worked.

They started me on Pitocin to try and move things along and the contractions almost instantly got stronger.

She came in an hour later and retried and was able to break my membranes.

Talk about a weird feeling.

Somewhere during all of this back and forth with the nurse, I mentioned that I would probably want an epidural. She gave me a crazy look and half tried to talk me out of it. Being my wimpy self, I just let the subject die and then made sure Ian got our desire across to the nurses. ha.

We found out later that epidurals are rarely (10% or less) given at this hospital because the locals believe that you will be paralyzed, so they really just use Nitrous Oxide (happy gas,) or some sort of injection.

Immediately after my waters broke, my contractions got super strong and I said "yes, epidural now please!" I had been contracting for 15 hours and hadn't slept in two days. I was tired, and I was so looking forward to a little bit of relaxing before the big "Push!"

The anaesthesiologist came in and things began to get a little dicey. I hadn't been worried or stressed about the epidural at all, so it tells you alot that this man made me NERVOUS. He started out by saying that an epidural was all about luck. He said "If I'm lucky, and you are lucky, then today your epidural will work."

Fabulous.

I sat on the edge of the bed with Ian in front of me. He numbed my back and started barking orders to the nurses.

He yelled "relax!" at me numerous times whenever I contracted during the procedure.

He failed to tell me about the electric shock feeling that I had when he hit the dura and then he got angry at me for being surprised. Seriously.

He made Ian leave the room because he was apparently making it a "stressful environment." (He totally wasn't.)

This man had the worst bed side manner I had ever seen.

After he made Ian leave the room I sat sobbing on the bed just willing for the whole thing to be over so that horrible man would be gone.

Ian came back in and when the doctor tried to make him leave again (OH. YES.) I said "He STAYS!"

1 hour and 15 minutes later, the procedure was over and I was not numb at all. Turns out he kind of failed.

Maybe he just wasn't "lucky."

Or maybe I wasn't.

The epidural turned into a walking epidural, meaning my legs should feel heavy but not numb and that my pain should be a 2 on the scale of 1 to 10 instead of a 0 or 1, like in a regular epidural.

When my contractions carried on, I was definitely NOT at a 2, but when the doctor told me he wouldn't be leaving until my pain was 2.

So, I did what any red blooded American pregnant woman would do.

I lied.

Contraction 1- "Oh that was a 5"
Contraction 2- "Much better, that was a 4"
Contraction 3- "Definitely a 3!"
Contraction 4- "That felt great, it was a 2."

Bada Bing, Bada BOOM, crazy horrible bed side manner doctor left.

I got my one wish.

And even if I was still in bad pain, the sheer relief from having him gone was good enough for me.

The epidural kicked in over the next 20 minutes or so but one hour after the doctor left, the epidural wore completely off.

It was horrible. I never signed up for a medicine free labor. They popped on the happy gas mask and sent for the anesthesiologist. The happy gas was SO good and SO bad, all at the same time. I was relaxed but I was loopy beyond belief. I kept trying to get the mask off of me because I would rather deal with the pain but I didn't seem to have muscular control to manage that.

The doctor upped my dosage and I was instantly at a 2. It was amazing. And he left so I was even happier.

I suddenly had the urge to push. My nurse was a little alarmed. She checked me and I was still only 8-9 cm so she told me I couldn't push.

The next hour and a half was the worst part of the whole day. They wouldn't check me again since they didn't want to introduce in bacteria yet I wasn't allowed to push even though that's all I wanted to do. I think I murmured "Don't push, don't push, don't push!" with every contraction.

The sweet nurse was concerned and even disobeyed the doctors orders not to check me several times. Finally, she told me I could start pushing at 9 pm.

At this point I hadn't slept in almost 48 hours and was beyond exhausted. I was super concerned that I wouldn't have the strength to push Grace out.

Two hours and fifteen minutes later, after pushing 3 times for every contraction, and being told that she was only "10 minutes away," for over an hour by a very annoying but well meaning nurse, (while the doctor shook her head and looked skeptical, saying that if I pushed perfectly for every contraction, that she would be here in half an hour,) Grace Madeline Galloway was born!

As she was exiting, I heard the doctor say that she had passed her meconium, and I instantly knew that could mean trouble (or it could be perfectly fine.) As the pulled her the rest of the way, the doctor called for a couple of extra nurses and the pediatrician to come. They placed her on my chest and Grace let out one little cry before turning completely blue and stopped crying. They whisked her off of my chest over to the warming table and began working on her.

They had to put a tube down her nose and throat to suction out any possible meconium that could have been inhaled and were rubbing her to get her breathing or crying. It was proably only 1-2 minutes but it was a tense couple of minutes. Finally she was breathing and crying, and within 5 minutes her color was better.

I delivered my placenta and they showed it to me.
Whoa.
Gross.
Like a really disgusting bowl that you would never want to eat out of.

They whisked her off to the NICU and I sent Ian to be with her while I was stitched up.

My local that they had given me when they gave me my (super small) episiotomy had worn off and they brought out the happy gas again. This time, I didn't fight it and I had a 20 minute nap while they finished.

Ian came back right afterwards and told me he had gotten to hold Grace and that she was being checked out in the NICU but that she was going to be just fine. They were going to keep her for observation for 24-48 hours so we sat back and tried to relax.

More on our hospital stay and Grace's time in the NICU.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Early Labor

I'm sitting at home, on our couch, holding my sleeping baby and realizing that all of the little details of her birth are vastly insignificant now. All that matters to me is that she came home safe and sound and that she is doing well!

However, I realize that I could get booed right off of the blog world stage if I left our birth story at that, ha, so I'll document for the sake of saving face.

And also for the sake of my memory. Since we all know that in about 4 weeks the edges of this memory will become fuzzy and I'll resort to saying where and when I had her and that will be it!

Brace yourself. This is a long post.

I had my 38 week appointment on Wednesday, March 30th, (I was 38 weeks and 5 days,) and though no physical exam is given here, the Doctor I saw measured my belly and felt for Grace's position and said that she "wasn't coming anytime soon."

Ha.

Thursday morning, March 31st, I began having contractions during class. They continued all day long but I didn't even try timing them because I could just tell that, although they were coming often, they weren't consistent. I'm guessing if I had timed them, they would be coming every 8-12 minutes.

Thursday night, we went over to our friends' house for dinner and a game night. On the car trip over there, I told Ian that I didn't know if anything was going to happen soon, since I didn't have any other early labor symptoms.

While at our friends house though, I had my first "other," early labor symptom (I'll spare you the details,) and I started to get excited. I had the contractions the rest of the night, and all through the evening. They were mild and just a little stronger than menstrual cramps. I woke up and took a shower, and right after my shower they stopped completely.

Boo.

I was kind of alright with that though, since Friday was April 1st, and I really did not want Grace being born on April Fools Day. After all, it's no way to enter the world on a day where you'd be thought of as some sort of cosmic joke.

We went to church on Friday and hung out at the house all day, but no more contractions. I did 3 loads of laundry and put the finishing touches on a bunch of things around the house. I skyped with several friends and finally went to settle down for bed around 12:30 only to have the contractions come roaring back.

And they hurt.

Alot.

Stop you in your tracks, have to breathe through them, can't talk, kind of hurt.

So, as I tried crawling into bed at 1 am on Saturday, April 2nd, I pulled out my cell phone and started timing the contractions. I timed them for about 40 minutes and they were a solid 7 minutes apart.

I got up and turned on some Gilmore Girls and pulled out my computer to use an online contraction counter until about 4 am, when I realized that it was probably about time to get moving. My contractions were getting closer and closer together at 3-5 minutes apart and were even stronger.

I got a shower and had a complete melt down. I knew we were still hours away from our in town border post from opening (at 8 am,) so that if the baby was definitely coming, we would have to do the long drive out to the desert border post, an almost 2 hour round trip.

In my head, I kept going over and over the situation. We could either A.) wait until the one in town opened up and possibly have the baby come before it opened or B.) go ahead to the far away post and risk having the baby in the car.

I prayed that God would give me a peace about the situation and give me an answer as to what we should do. He brought Psalm 121 to my mind, a verse that I've meditated on many times during the last couple of years.

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.


What an appropriate verse to come into this world with!

I finished my shower and fixed my hair, washed some dishes, and woke Ian up at 5 am. He was a little confused. I don't think he realized I wasn't in bed that whole time.

He kicked into high gear, taking a shower, cleaning up around the house, while I finished getting ready and packing the last minute hospital bag things (toothbrush, deodorant, etc,) and tracked my contractions online for another hour. They were coming 3 minutes apart and were lasting 40-50 seconds.

We knew it was time to get moving!

But first. I had to take care of the strawberries.

Yes, the strawberries.

You see, I had just bought 3 containers of these GORGEOUS strawberries when we were over the border in the big city. I had not had time to clean and cut them and I knew that if we were truly in labor that we would be back in our home for several days, meaning those strawberries would go bad.

I just had to clean and cut them to take with us to the hospital.

Ian looked at me like I had lost it.

Or grown a second head.

Either way, it was not an endearing look of love and affection.

After about two minutes of him asking me "you want to do what? and you're in labor?" I realized the foolishness of my ways and at 6 am on Saturday, March 2nd, we got in the car and headed for the border.

We made record time, thanks to no traffic, and the border office was absolutely empty. I was having horrible pain with these contractions and had the chills and was nauseous. We were able to be heading back from the desert border post within about 30 minutes and we were over the other border into the big city within an hour.

We pulled into the hospital parking lot and (I) waddled into the labor and delivery ward at 7:30 am. The receptionist asked if I had an appointment and I said no, that I was in labor. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a language barrier, and she didn't understand me (in a labor and delivery ward, go figure.) Finally she asked if I was in pain (what they say for contractions, I learned,) and I was able to mumble out a "yes," before going into a really strong contraction. That kind of kicked the ladies at the desk into high gear when they realized I was in active labor!

Tomorrow, the Labor and Delivery story!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Introducing...

Grace Madeline GallowayBorn April 2nd, 2011, at 11:15 pm (our time.)She weighs 6 pounds and 12 ounces and is 19 inches long.She's got her daddy's chin, lips, and forehead, and my nose and eyes. Word is still out on whether she'll have eyebrows or not, ha!

22 hours of labor, four days in the hospital, and we're so happy to be home together!
More details to come!