"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

28 February 2011

Baby G's Birth Story

My friend Carol asked me for The Labor Story, and she made the point that I should keep a copy of it, so I don't forget the details.

I'm going to warn you, I was in labor for 30 hours with Brennan, so this is going to be long and detailed. If you are prone to getting grossed out easily, consider yourself warned. Get comfy...

My water broke at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 19, but I didn't know it at the time. There was no "gush" like in the movies; I just had a "leaky" feeling. I went to the bathroom and noticed a bit of spotting. Although I had had an internal exam at my NST/postdate appointment that previous morning, I had never spotted after one before, so I woke up Nich. We called the OB on call (Dr. Cutler), and as I suspected he said that I was probably just spotting from the exam on Friday morning and to not worry. So we went back to bed. A few minutes after settling back down, I felt that "leaky" feeling again and returned to the bathroom. This time, not only was there a lot of fluid when I sat down, there was dark, almost fibrous, material. I knew something was not right, so we called the doctor again. He told us to come on down to the hospital. We grabbed our bags, let my mom know what was going on, told her we would have a friend pick her up if it was the real thing, and headed to the hospital at 4:00 a.m.

It was PACKED in the maternity wing. All the nurses were saying it was because of the snow and the full moon. "Double whammy" is what they were calling it. There were actually no rooms available on the labor/delivery hall, so we were put in a tiny little room with no closet on the recovery hall while I was checked out. All my vitals looked good, and when the nurse (Marilyn) took my history, she said, "Oh, this will be so easy! You're the perfect pregnant mom!" Unfortunately, upon an internal exam, we discovered that the baby had passed meconium, so I was immediately hooked up to an IV with saline solution and penicillin to ward off infection. Yuck and double yuck. Penicillin BURNS in an IV, by the way. The good part was that I had dilated another 3 cm from the 1 cm I had been hovering at for three weeks - hurray! We called a friend later in the morning, and she brought my mom to the hospital.

Nine hours later, NOTHING had progressed, other than getting moved to a nice, big room on the labor/delivery side. We'd walked the halls as much as they would let me (which they were limiting, because they had to keep an eye on the baby's vitals due to the meconium passing). The tub was no longer an option, since I had the IV. Because I wasn't progressing at all, they hooked me up to Pitocin (oxytocin) through my IV to "get things moving." At this point, we sent my mom back home, since Dr. Cutler had said it could be 12-14 hours before anything happened, and we didn't see the sense in all of us waiting around overnight. I was also not in any mood to be translating for my mom every time the doctor or nurses came in.

Six hours of increasingly painful contractions later, the doctor checked, and you got it. NOTHING had progressed. I had held up pretty well up to this point, thanks to a very supportive husband who let me squeeze his hand through each contraction as I needed, rubbed my shoulders and back, supported me when I wanted to stand up, etc. (Although, I have to admit, part of what motivated me to endure the pain quietly was because the girl next door to me was a screaming, swearing banshee, and I did NOT want other people on the floor to hear me doing what she was). The doctor mentioned the possibility of a Cesarean because it had been a while, and I was obviously getting exhausted. He asked me to consider an epidural (I had initially said that I didn't want any drugs, which was already a bit of a laugh, since I had three different things dripping into me through the IV). He also made the point that if I had to have a Cesarean, I'd have to have an epidural anyway. Once he left the room, I let myself have a little cry. It's one thing to deal with horrible pain knowing that there is a purpose to it. When I learned that I had been enduring hours of painful contractions to no visible end, it added to the frustration of being attached to all these bags of medication through the IV, not being able to have the pain management I had wanted, having to consider surgery, etc.

Nich and I talked about it, and I agreed to the epidural. Dr. Cutler said that even if I could get to 5 cm in a few hours, it would be a good sign. It was the best decision I could have made. The anesthesiologist (Dr. Taylor) came pretty quickly after we had let the nurse know (at this point, we'd had Paula and then Marilyn had come back for another shift - for the length of time we were there, we went through several nurse rotations). Nich had to leave for this part, which was a little scary for me, because I'm sort of a wuss about expected pain. Once I'm in it, I can deal, but the "knowing that it's coming" part freaks me out. Anyway, I jumped a little at the local anesthetic, and because I was already tired and worn out, when he had to re-try the epidural needle, I cried ... again. Dr. Taylor did have to come back to adjust the catheter, because I had a section on my left lower abdomen that was still feeling the contractions very intensely, but once it was all adjusted, I was able to relax enough to fall asleep. I slept on and off through Saturday night (from about 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.), waking up whenever my blood pressure cuff would squeeze, when the nurse (Paula again) would come in to take my vitals, or when the girl next door would go off on another one of her special moments. Nich, however, got a pretty good night's rest on the very comfy recliner in the room (he had ear plugs in), which was great, because I needed him later.

When Dr. Cutler came to check me at 4:00 a.m., I had dilated to 7 cm and was 80% effaced! Woohoo! I started pushing around 6 a.m. when I was at 9 cm and 100%. The baby wasn't letting me off the hook, though. After two and a half hours of pushing four times per contraction, I was thoroughly exhausted. I said to Nich that I just didn't think I could push any more and that I just wanted to go to sleep. Our nurse at the time, Paula, and Nich were both being very encouraging, as was Dr. Cutler whenever he came to check on me. It gave me extra strength to hear them saying things like, "She's doing great. She's a motivated pusher. This is going to happen!"

There were so many women in labor that Dr. Cutler was in and out of the room. Women who had arrived long after I had delivered their babies and were sent over to recovery. Paula was also in and out, delivering updates to Dr. Cutler, so at times, Nich was the only support I had while pushing through contractions. I was frustrated, worn out, and tired of my legs feeling like tree trunks, and it was around this time that when Nich said, "Can you give it just a little bit more, honey? He's right there!" I opened my eyes, looked at him, and said, "Do you WANT a bloody nose?" It was the worst thing I think I said to him through the entire labor, so all things considered (and having heard some of the things the girl next door was hollering), he said it wasn't that bad. :~)

Eventually, the baby's head had progressed far enough that Dr. Cutler came to help things along. He performed an episiotomy, and as I pushed, he pulled with a vacuum. I had opted not to have a mirror, but Nich said that it was so strange to watch our little baby's head being "domed" by the suction of the vacuum.

Within fifteen minutes, Brennan Lucas came into the world at 9:09 a.m. on Sunday, February 20, 2011. He was 9 pounds and 5 ounces (the doctor said we could call it 9.5 pounds, since if Brennan hadn't passed the meconium in utero, he probably would have weighed more than that!) and 21 inches long. His head circumference was a whopping 33 cm; no wonder I was having a hard time getting him out by myself!

Because of the meconium, they couldn't give the baby to me right away, so after they cleaned him up and took all his stats, Brennan got to meet Daddy while I was being stitched and cleaned up. Our little family was left alone for the "Golden Hour" to get to know one another. Once the crowd dispersed from the delivery room, I got the shakes very badly and just couldn't get rid of them. I'd had them during labor a bit, but this time, my teeth were chattering so much, and I had no control over it. They turned on the heat, piled blankets on me, but I just could not stop shivering. I thought maybe my blood sugar was low (since I hadn't eaten in close to 40 hours), so I asked for some juice. The nurse (Amy now) ordered me some breakfast and told me I really had to eat something, because they had to help me get up and use the bathroom before taking me to a recovery room. Unfortunately, the combination of fatigue, sudden sugar from the juice, and being forced to eat when all I wanted to do was pass out must have been too much for my system, because half an hour later, I was throwing up everything, including the Tylenol with codeine that I had been given for the episiotomy. It made a huge mess all over me, the bed, and the floor around the bed. The poor nurse who was helping Amy (she had just started in the unit) apparently later asked Amy if this was "how it always is."

Anyway, I got cleaned up, and since I looked "terribly pale" and out of it, Amy didn't want to risk me trying to stand up. For the first time in my life (there were a lot of firsts over this weekend!), I had to try to use a bed pan. (It didn't work.) They decided to keep us in the delivery room, so after taking my vitals, they finally let me sleep. Brennan was getting his first bath, and Nich was helping move things around so the housekeeper could clean and sanitize the room for us, and by the time they both returned, I was awake again and feeling so much better.

We enjoyed the remainder of our hospital stay. All the doctors, nurses, and staff were very nice and incredibly helpful. We had a small handful of visitors on Monday, because we intentionally held off on publicizing about Brennan until late Sunday evening. Brennan latched on like a champ, and he tolerated all the poking and prodding of vaccinations, an ultrasound (a follow up to the enlarged kidney they had seen at my third ultrasound), and circumcision pretty well. At one point, I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and then I walked to the nursery window (just across the hall from our room, conveniently enough) to peek at Brennan. All the babies are taken to the nursery around midnight to get checked out, so they were all lying in a row in their little plastic bassinets. I had to laugh, because Brennan was easily recognizable among the bunch, being a good bit larger than all the other babies in there.

Some other fun facts from the hospital:

- My dad got to "meet" Brennan via Skype while we were still at the hospital.

- Nich brought me glazed donuts that first night because I had been having all sorts of crazy cravings during labor (I guess I had to make up for not having any cravings during pregnancy, and plus, by the end of it, I hadn't eaten for almost forty hours!)

- I was shocked to discover that I had cankles (I'm not sure if those were from the IVs or the epidural, but it took several days after being home for my legs to look normal again).

We were released to come home late Tuesday morning. We're all doing very well. I'm a bit sore from the stitches, obviously, but Nich has been so supportive and immensely helpful. Meals and visits have been/are coming from friends from church, I've been able to shower and put on make up every day (the little things help!), and in general, all is well in the Guillory household. :~) Brennan is such a joy to us already, and we are loving learning about being his parents. He's a good little napper, eats well, spends a few hours a day pretty alert, and has slept for several hours at a time two nights in a row. We've had two pediatric visits so far. He lost a good bit of weight between birth and the first visit, but he was gaining again by the second one. We see the pediatrician again on Friday. Hopefully, he'll have gained more of his weight back by then!

This was fun to write, and it was good for me to take the time to reflect on the experience. It has been a wonderful first week with our little boy, and I have so enjoyed having Nich home for the entire time, too. It was sad to see him go to work this morning, and I very much look forward to his homecoming tonight.

17 February 2011

Always Learning

I often wish that there was a job for me where I would be paid to go take classes, to read and write to my heart's content, to travel and observe...

And although that's probably never going to happen, I do realize that I am learning every day.

- I ought to be grateful that I've had a fairly easy pregnancy for the past ten months
- Just because I haven't been super-emotional during this pregnancy doesn't mean that I'm going to be able to hold it together all the time (I've cried twice this week already)
- It doesn't mean I'm weak because my back HURTS continuously
- That I need to be more cautious, because one slip on the ice last night has made my pelvic region feel like it's been bruised very badly
- Adjusting to having another adult in the house has been extraordinarily difficult for me
- Realizing the prior statement, I need to pray more for grace, patience, and strength for when the baby comes, because that'll make TWO new people in the house for the next month
- I need alone time, and I need just me-and-Nich time, every day
- I have really, really good friends, even if most of them are far away
- I really have enjoyed having this little boy growing inside me. I love feeling him move around in there, and it's one of the things I'm going to miss most about being pregnant.
- I know that being entrusted with this new life is a privilege, and the closer that we get to Baby G being born, the more I'm realizing the significance of that truth
- I really love waking up early and opening the curtains to be greeted with a glorious sunrise
- I'm craving sunshine, warmth, fresh fruit, and the ocean

There are probably a lot of other things I could list, but
1. I'm emotionally a bit exhausted (I know, already)
2. I have laundry to do

16 February 2011

Halmoni's Here and a Kerry Update

I don't often think of flights taking off early, but arriving at their destinations early is almost unheard of! But my mom's flight from JFK -- the last leg of her trip -- did just that, and she got here 45 minutes earlier than scheduled. Thank goodness for a flexible friend who was able to leave his job early to pick her up!

As she felt my belly soon after she arrived, my mom said, "Okay, Baby. Even Halmoni's here now, so you can come out."

Nich worked an extra hour yesterday to make up for some of the time that he's missing with the more frequent appointments at the OB, so once he got home, we went out to the Korean restaurant -- the only one we know of in the drive-able area -- for dinner.

After returning home, Mom was tuckered out from her 23 hours of traveling, and I was pretty exhausted myself from restless nights over the past three days, so we all headed to bed. I think I fell asleep between 8:30-9:00 last night and slept soundly until 5:30 this morning! I didn't even hear our friend Ben's nightly text message updating us about how Kerry's doing; I was that tired.

Speaking of Kerry, she's doing much better. She had an injection in her vocal cords this morning to help her voice. She was moved from the stepdown unit from the ICU. She passed the swallow study, so she can now have small sips of thickened liquids, liked thickened ginger ale and thickened apple juice. She's gaining strength. By 4:00 pm yesterday, she had walked half a mile. They did find a little blood in her stomach, so they're doing an endoscope today to see what's going on, but Ben says that the doctors don't seem terribly concerned about it. Thanks to those of you who have been praying for Kerry, Ben, and their family!

15 February 2011

Needing Mercy

Yep, still here and still pregnant.

Nich and I didn't go to church on Sunday because frankly, we're sick and tired of people saying stupid things to us. He handles it with much more grace than I do -- as with most things in life -- but even he has reached a point of irritation. Honestly, what goes on in people's heads to say things like, "Are you still here?!"

Well, obviously, unless you have frequent hallucinations, and then the problem is with you and not with me.

I've also been deleting people's posts on my FB wall that are along the lines of, "Still pregnant? Hasn't that baby shown up yet?" and posted this instead. Maybe they'll get the hint.

So we pretty much holed up at home all weekend, except to take a "breather" out in Saratoga on Sunday afternoon. We seriously thought Baby G would be here by now, but I guess my body just isn't wanting to cooperate. Not that I'm ungrateful, because it has done a great job thus far with this pregnancy. I'm so thankful that I haven't had most of the typical pregnancy woes, but




The nurse today mentioned induction, and I was surprised to find that I got pretty darn irritated (on the inside) with her. I don't want to be induced, damn it. I want my body to do this on its own, and I don't want to be strapped down and hooked up to machines for extended periods of time while I'm at the hospital. We still have until Friday (9 days past my "due date") before they'll seriously talk to us about it, so I'm just PRAYING Baby G comes before then.

Furthermore, my mom arrives this evening, which is sort of stressing me out for a variety of reasons.

I've been more teary and moody during the past few days about everything than I have been during the ENTIRE pregnancy.

God, have mercy.

11 February 2011

NST, Kerry, & Baby Timmy

We went for another ultrasound (to measure amniotic fluid) and our first non-stress test this morning. Our hopes were raised during the ultrasound, because it was looking like the fluid level had decreased (if the measure was 5 or under, they would have sent us over to the hospital) , but then the tech found a good-sized pocket of fluid where he wasn't so crunched up in there. Darn. It's okay, though. I really don't want to be induced, so it's better this way.

Baby G was being a bit of a chump and being uncooperative during the NST. He was wiggling around and kicking just great during the car ride to the doctors' office, but once I was strapped onto the machine, he just didn't want to move. I drank ice water to try to get him going and even poked at his legs and back, but he was content to just doze in there. He did kick around a little bit each time I had a contraction, though, and thankfully, that was good enough for the doctor. Of course, once we got in the car to come home, he started kicking around again. Little butt.

I'm glad we went for the NST today, because although I have been having what I suspected were contractions over the past few days, it was good to have that be confirmed. A few of them registered quite high (going up to 75 on the machine), and the nurse was really surprised I was tolerating them. In all honesty, I barely felt the ones that were 50 and below, and the higher ones were just a bit uncomfortable. She said that it was a good sign that I may tolerate labor well. I hope, I hope! :~)

No more dilation or effacing (I've been about a centimeter dilated for three weeks now), but things are "very soft" according to the doctor. He said that could mean that once things start to move along, it'll progress quickly. I like that thought. Our OBs aren't ones to give false hope, so I'm trusting that they didn't just feed me a bunch of hogwash today to make me feel better. :~)

On another note, my friend Kerry is doing really well. Her surgery lasted about 16 hours, but she has both lungs, a new liver, and a new pancreas. She has been walking. She's off the ventilator and the oxygen (which means her new lungs are working, I think!). She hit a little bump in the road on Tuesday. They needed to take care of some fluid in her abdomen and find out where the excess fluid was coming from. It turned out there was a blood clot in the portal vein, which they removed. Overall, she's doing fantastically well, which just makes me giddy. When I first got the news that she was heading into surgery for her new organs, I called Nich to let him know and (this is going to sound corny and cliche) started crying with happiness. I'm grateful for how quickly the Lord has answered prayers for Kerry. I know He does things in His good and perfect time, but I'm so glad that His timing for Kerry was sooner rather than later.

And speaking of answered prayers and continued miracles, my friend Michelle from college has a little baby boy who has been in the hospital since he was prematurely born last September. As a new mom-to-be, I can't imagine the heartache that Mark and Michelle are going through, and I think they have been so incredibly strong and brave through this journey. Nich and I have both shed tears as we have followed Timmy's struggles. Read here for Baby Timmy's story, and please join us in praying for Mark, Michelle, and Timmy.

I've actually been able to keep pretty busy this past week, which has been really good so that I'm not just sitting around bored and waiting. We had a couple birthday parties at the end of last week, I finished my sewing project (covers for my rocking chair cushions), mended two coats, went to my ladies' Bible study, experimented with new recipes for dinner, baked cookies, shoveled our driveway, swept the kitchen floor, set up a bed in our study for my mom's visit, gave Nich a much-needed hair cut, etc. Nich got me the Harry Potter book set for Christmas, so I've been reading through those, as well. I've had great conversations with some of my sweet friends on the phone, which is always so good for my heart. I've also heard of two more friends who are expecting babies (although they aren't publicizing the news yet), which is such fun!

We're hoping for this weekend with Baby G! I hope the next time I post, it will be with good news and some pictures!

*This just in from Kerry's mom: "Kerry says pray for her to pass the FEES test (swallow test) today. She sure would like a sip of juice. Also pray for success in getting a pic line in today and for pain level to decrease. She is up walking 3x a day inspite of the pain."

03 February 2011


My friend Carol -- who used to be one of my youth leaders when I was in high school in Africa -- posted this recently on her blog. I don't think we can be reminded often enough about who Jesus REALLY was. Not your "buddy" Jesus, but Jesus, son of God, son of man.

The best news of the day: My friend Kerry who I've blogged about before (see here for a synopsis of her story) just got The Call this morning with a potential match for her lungs! When I texted with her this morning, she was on her way to the prep floor at Duke.

Things to pray for:
- That the organs are a perfect match
- For her family
- For her doctors and nurses
- For the donor's family
- For a smooth procedure and transition to recovery

A Grown Up Snow Day

As a testament to the dire predictions from the weather people, Nich's work called a delay yesterday morning ... and then closed altogether. This is a big deal. They haven't done this in over thirteen years, from what we've heard. Even when the NJ and LI branches closed, the one here hasn't.

It was so nice to have Nich home unexpectedly, to cuddle, have breakfast together, drink hot chocolate, watch the snow plows go by from our bedroom windows like little kids, and read in bed together all morning.

In the afternoon, I got a craving for glazed donuts, so we ventured outside, and while I brushed the mounds of snow off our car, Nich shoveled






No neighbors came to the rescue with their snowblower this time, unfortunately. The lady who lives next door actually needed rescuing herself. She tried to back out of her driveway without clearing it at all and got stuck at the end if it, halfway into the street. Her son was trying to dig her out, so Nich went over to help. I suggested putting down towels behind the wheels for traction. After a lot of pushing and rocking the car, they finally got her out.

And of course, the older couple across the street has their daughter come by to clear their driveway, so we can't exactly expect them to help.

But then there's Mr. Hoity Toity on the other side who thinks it's okay to snow blow at 11 at night when everyone else on the street is sleeping. And the couple with the little kids who we took fudge to last year when we moved in who never reciprocate. And the guy on the other side of the old couple who piddled around with his snow blower until Nich and our neighbor's son got the car un-stuck, and THEN came over, pretending like he wanted to help.

It's a weird neighborhood.

Anyway, Nich got our driveway cleared, we went and got a couple donuts from DD, then headed to SB for an afternoon of coffee (I had a smoothie instead, since I obviously am not consuming caffeine) and reading on one of their comfy couches. This SB is great, because they have a bookshelf of "exchange" books, where you can take a book as long as you either bring it back or bring one to replace it. They let you sit there as long as you want and they don't bother you at all.

It was a great day overall, but I do have one complaint. I feel a tad gypped after all the talk about storms bringing babies because of the drop in barometric pressure. I'm starting to feel like all these so-called "bring the baby" ideas are just a bunch of absolute ... hogwash.

Anyway, happy new year, everyone! Baby G will share being born in the year of the rabbit with my father, sixty years apart. :~)