Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Atlas Holden

Atlas Holden Mazzola was born ten days early, at 11:49pm on August 18th, 2016. 7 lbs. 1 oz., 19.5 in. long, light brown hair, chubby cheeks, dagger fingernails, and squinty blue eyes that I am still betting will change to green eventually. :)

WARNING: Birth Story ahead. If you're not into this kind of thing, definitely skip this blog post.

Last week leading up to my mom's arrival on the 18th, I had talked to both her and Kristin about my plan for picking her up from the airport. She was scared that my water would break at the airport, but I figured I was close enough to the hospital to pick her up, even if that were to happen. Kristin was on standby just incase, and we joked about how my asshole rebel baby would probably come at the most inconvenient time possible. If he didn't come on the 18th, then he would definitely be late. I told Eric I didn't think I would go into labor that week, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it happened.

Well, the morning of the 18th, I was up until 2:30am, and then woke up a little before 7am with what felt like period cramps and a very upset stomach. I woke Eric up and told him I thought this was it, so I was going to curl my hair. He thought I was craycray and went back to sleep. But the cramps and upset stomach continued, and would sometimes feel worse than others, so I texted my doula, Jeni, to get her opinion, and told Kristin she should probably be prepared to pick my mom up, no joke.

Jeni called me back, and after hearing my end of the phone call, Eric finally got out of bed. When I hung up, he just looked at me, and I told him Jeni thought I would have the baby before the day was over. Eric decided to work from home (good call), and I got as much last-minute stuff done as possible. I thought I had some time left before I went into labor, so I felt like everything was a mess, and I wasn't completely prepared with food and supplies for my mom, or myself for that matter. I ate some light meals to fuel up for labor and used a bunch of labor-inducing tricks... and then I started feeling that "these are definitely contractions now" feeling when I was halfway around the block on a walk.

After timing them for awhile and feeling them get more painful, I just tried to stick it out until my mom got here. Kristin dropped her off, we took some last photos with my belly, and then Eric and I headed to the doctor for a labor check. Dr. Kaufman is the man, and I like the fact that he's pretty conservative with his diagnoses. He won't say you're dilated to 2 if you're only JUST ABOUT 2. He'll give you a 1. When he checked me, he said I was already 5cm dilated and 100% effaced, so I should probably head to the hospital. I could NOT believe I was already that far along without really being in any notable pain.

We met Jeni at the hospital, where I got to go right into a good room and had the best nurses (the perks of having a doula who knows everyone ;) ). They monitored me every hour for 20 minutes, but the other 40 minutes I could do whatever I wanted, which was awesome. I walked the halls, used a birth ball and peanut ball, and even used some of my prenatal dance class moves because my instructor was also my nurse! So fun. It honestly really helped with the pain of the contractions. They felt so much worse when I was just sitting in bed, but it was REALLY cool being able to see my contractions on the monitor matching up with my baby's movements and heart rate. It helped me visualize that the pain was actually DOING something, and he was trying to move down with every contraction.

Fast-forward a couple hours: I'm still only 5cm dilated, but the contractions got so much worse. I had the shakes, which almost sent me over the edge, since that is a trigger for panic attacks for me. Eventually I made it to 6cm, where I proceeded to shut myself in the bathroom and sat on the toilet in the dark. It makes sense if you think about it. When animals are in pain, including when they give birth, they tend to go off on their own. That's what I did, and it worked.

So, eventually, I'm moaning in a ton of pain, but still keeping it fairly together. When I started feeling the urge to push, Dr. Kaufman was called in. He said I was 10cm, so I tried pushing on my back, my side, using the squat bar on the bed, on my hands and knees... it just wasn't going well. They checked me again in the middle of a push, and sure enough, I was NOT at 10... I was at like 9.99999.

So then, I had to HOLD IN the urge to push and let the contractions hopefully dilate me that extra tiny bit. And held it in I did, for TWO FUCKING HOURS. TWO HOURS. If anyone has been through childbirth and felt this feeling, you know what I'm talking about. It sucked. I asked if I could have an epidural, and they said no, by the time I got prepped and had one, I would have already pushed this baby out. I said I wanted it anyway. I said I wouldn't be upset if I got a c-section at this point. I said I COULD NOT DO IT ANYMORE. But everyone just kept telling me that I was already doing it, and coached me through each contraction while I had Eric's hand in a death grip.

Finally, I told them I REALLY could not hold it in anymore, so they ran to get Kaufman, and I just started pushing. I still wasn't dilated all the way, but at that point, I gave zero shits, and it worked. The pain of pushing was bad, but it was such a relief after all the other pain that it didn't even matter.

After 45 minutes of pushing, my little Atlas Holden was born. I knew it was definitely his name as soon as I held him. We obviously had talked about this name (no one is going to just pull Atlas out of thin air), but we really were not completely committed to it until that moment. It has a lot of significance to us, but it is kind of unusual, so we wanted to be positive about it. We tried it as a middle name, but couldn't agree on a first name to go with it, so when July rolled around, we figured we should just use it as his first name and figure out a middle name that he can use if he finds Atlas to be too unusual at some point in his life (although I know kids named Breezy and Flossy at this point, so...).

So, Atlas Holden it was. Atlas, after the Coheed song that we both love, which was written by Claudio about his own son. Go look at the lyrics. It will make you feel all the feels. And also, after Atlas the Titan, who was condemned by Zeus to hold up the heavens for eternity. This sounds like something negative to resign your child to, but I see it as giving him the power to handle anything that life throws his way. And ALSO, after an actual atlas. Eric and I have been on quite the journey together, and Atlas is the next part of our journey. This name is perfect for him. Holden is named after Holden Caulfield, the main character in The Catcher in the Rye, which had a life-changing impact on me as a teenager.

Our other options included Indigo, but this child has not exactly been calm or easy since his conception... and Ash, which, no, because Pokemon Go just came out and all anyone would think is that we named our kid after Pikachu's best friend or whatever. So DEFINITELY NOT.

Anyway, Atlas was placed right up on my chest, and he nursed almost immediately, because he takes after his mom and wants to eat ALL THE TIME. :) Eric cut the cord, which he wasn't sure he wanted to do, so that was neat. My placenta was a lot bigger than I expected it to look, like a deflated basketball. How did all this fit inside my belly for 9 months?! I had my placenta encapsulated, which you might think is gross, but I am going to try everything I can to try to help myself in this postpartum period. At the worst, it does nothing. At best, it will help regulate my hormones, control postpartum depression, speed the healing process, help with milk supply, and so much more.

Also, my wonderful doula captured the entire birth on camera for us, since Eric was a little busy in the moment! We wouldn't have been able to get through everything without her helping Eric and I. I highly, highly recommend you get a doula if you are interested in a natural childbirth. BUT, if you don't have one, I still think it is completely doable. Besides my cervix being a jerk, the rest of the labor was honestly not as bad as I thought it would be. I know plenty of people have things go wrong, and emergencies occur, and that sucks. Sometimes, medical intervention really is extremely necessary. But, say it's not in your case. If you get yourself to a good mental place and go into it being excited to meet your baby instead of terrified of the pain, you can do it! It's not about getting a trophy or putting yourself through pain for no reason. It's just a personal decision, and for me and my sanity, I am really happy I was able to do it this way.

So how has Atlas been doing this first week? Very well! I've had a bit of a rough time, because I needed some stitches, but we are all very happy here. We have been feeling the love pour in from all over the country, so thank you for all the well-wishes! My mom, Kristin, and Eric have been the biggest help. In fact, Eric is now a diaper-changing champion. Breastfeeding has been a bit of a mental struggle and source of anxiety for me, but Atlas surpassed his birth weight at only five days old, which is great! He's the cutest little chunk I ever saw. And he is very strong, kind of like Atlas the Titan, I guess. :) He sleeps a lot, and nights wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't for my own anxiety. I keep waking up to look at him and make sure he is okay.

I can't believe a week has already flown by. I've had a decent rest from blogging and most social media, but I'm looking forward to documenting our lives weekly again. I want to remember every single detail.

Getting monitored for the first time at the hospital
Eric learning to change diapers!
A latte from Kristin
The first diaper Eric changed on his own, which was a HUGE poop, AND Atlas peed everywhere during the change. Hah! Eric handled it like a champ.
The Florida sun rising over my boys <3 
Baby burrito!
Going home outfit, complete with Converse Chuck Taylor socks, of course!
My little family heading home. I wish they didn't have to wheel me out though.
Skin to skin cuddles
Beautiful flowers from Aunt Linny
Milk drunk
Cupcakes from Sarah. They had edible glitter on them!
My smiley chunk. I love him so much I could cry. <3

Monday, August 15, 2016

38 Week Reflections

Ever since I started writing about my random life shenanigans (THREE whole years ago now!), but especially during the past nine months, I have had a lot of people tell me that reading about my experiences has helped them deal with their own. I write to cope with my own shit, but I post publicly in the hopes that, maybe, someone out there could benefit from knowing that they aren't alone in how they are feeling.

Having a kid is something I never, ever imagined for myself, and at 38 weeks pregnant, the experience is feeling more surreal than ever. The past nine months have gone by in the blink of an eye. I don't think anyone is ever REALLY READY to give birth or take on the responsibility of nurturing another human life to its fullest potential (let's be honest, I can barely take care of myself).

If you are pregnant or planning to be at some point in your life, here are some things I think you should know:

1. It's okay to change your mind. It's something you need to talk about with your partner, but it happens. And when other people find out that you've changed your mind, you might get a lot of "told ya so" crap from them. But it's whatever. Stay true to yourself. It's your life.

2. It's okay to freak out when you find out you are pregnant. Doesn't matter if it was planned or not. Sometimes, when you see a positive pregnancy test, your entire life flashes before your eyes, and you wonder if you are actually cut out for this, and you FLIP. A. SHIT. I did. It doesn't mean you aren't happy. It means you're fucking terrified, and honestly, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. You are about to take on a pretty big responsibility.

3. It's REALLY OKAY to not like being pregnant. If you are fortunate enough to have an easy physical and mental pregnancy, props to you, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the majority of people have a rough time. I think some women are afraid to be honest about it, because they don't want other people to think they are ungrateful, but guess what? You can try for years to get pregnant and feel blessed to have conceived and STILL think being pregnant is difficult, because IT IS. And even if you feel physically fine, it can be a giant mental struggle. Besides gaining weight, A LOT of weird shit happens to your body, and you might not feel like yourself. You are literally forming body parts inside of you. I know it's miraculous and awesome and all, but it's weird to think about, right? Don't let people make you feel bad for not being all sunshine and rainbows about it. It's normal to struggle. Which leads me to...

4. Don't be afraid to rely on your support system. It can be extremely difficult to ask for help, especially if you are used to being independent. Just accept the damn help, please. If you push yourself too hard, you could end up injuring yourself or your little unborn chicken, or you could run your immune system into the ground and get sick with bronchitis and fracture your ribs from coughing, like I did. :) And for the sake of your mental health, PLEASE talk to someone about how you are feeling. Stress can run you down, too. Talk to a friend who has been through it, your parents, your partner, me, whoever will listen. There is no shame in that.

That all being said, I think this pregnancy has been one of the best things I have ever experienced, despite it not being the easiest time period for me. I've learned that I am a lot stronger mentally than I gave myself credit for in the past. I learned to use coping skills, like this blog and talking to others, rather than isolating myself during rough patches. Even though I give him shit all the time, my relationship with Eric has only gotten better. When you have a partner who will paint your toenails on your swollen feet, you know you are loved. And the thought of gaining weight terrified me for my entire life, but the truth is that this is the first time I have ever felt truly confident in my own skin. I've filled out a little in my face and thighs, and the skin around my belly button looks stretched pretty thin, but that's life. I like my belly, and I like that I have taken care of Baby Mazz. Post-baby body image issues will be a different story I'm sure, but I hope that I can use what I have learned about myself and my relationships over the past nine months to make it easier for me to deal.

The latest doctor update: 3cm dilated, 85% effaced. Once again, this means nothing in terms of when I will go into labor, but the doctor did say that it will hopefully mean my labor goes more quickly than someone who is less effaced to begin with. Apparently, that's what takes the longest time.

He's trying to make a run for it, that little rebel. I've been peeing every 15 minutes (wish I was exaggerating), especially in the middle of the night, and feeling all nauseous and crampy (not contractions), so as soon as he gets out, he is grounded for life.

My mom comes in to town on Thursday, so he just needs to stay put until then! We're going to make a bunch of freezer meals. Speaking of freezer, I spent like an hour over the weekend making witch hazel/aloe pads, which are now sitting in my freezer. Ugh, what my life has come to. I keep adding random songs to my birth playlist so I'll have all my bases covered to distract me and keep me calm. We're talking everything from AC/DC to Rihanna to Moonlight Sonata. The hospital has birth balls, a squat bar, and a nice shower in every room, and my doulas will have some oils and massage tools. I've been doing squats, stretching, everything. I don't know how much more prepared I can get for a natural birth. Hopefully, I will be able to do this without an epidural, because I'm scared shitless to be stuck in bed for hours. Yes, I am even more afraid of that than the pain.

OH, and I chipped my front tooth on Friday night, because that is the kind of luck I have. I was able to get it fixed this morning, but wouldn't it have been HILARIOUS if I had gone into labor over the weekend and looked like a REAL wreck in all my birth photos? No, it would not have been, and I bet the stress of that possibility is what kept Baby Mazz put.

Alright, off I go to eat some ice cream, as usual. I'll let you know if it's Go Time before next week's post, but I doubt it. Peace out for now.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

37 Weeks

I think this is the first time I didn't write a weekly update post since I found out I was pregnant. Everything is fine! I haven't had the baby yet! Things have just been CRAZY hectic here. I've had appointments and plans every single day, it's been raining most of the time, and I am trying to keep the house clean and prepared for us to leave at a moment's notice for the hospital... but no matter how much I do, it seems like there is always more that needs to be done.

This week alone, so far, I had a breastfeeding class, 37 week checkup, meeting with our doula, dentist appointment, prenatal dance class, pediatrician meet-and-greet, Nym groomer appointment, a three-hour-long salon appointment, and spent time with a few friends.

My hands, feet, and even face are a little swollen. I can't walk without waddling. I made Eric paint my toenails the other night, because 1. I don't want totally gross toes when the doctors and nurses need to be right next to them to deliver my baby, and 2. I can't bend over to do it myself. It feels like I'm squishing my insides whenever I bend over. Every time I stand up, it feels like Baby Mazz is going to fall out of my uterus, seriously (if only it were that easy...). At my checkup, the doctor said I'm 2cm dilated, 80% effaced, and 0 station, so he is engaged and sitting right on my pelvic bones. It feels like he is headbutting me on the inside, and it is not comfortable at all.

That being said, both the doctor and my doula said they don't think Baby Mazz will be overdue. But, I COULD sit like this til my due date and beyond. There is no way to know for sure.

And now, I am not feeling so well. I think I pushed myself a little too hard the past several days. So here I sit, napping, resting, and sharing apple slices with Nym in between my loads of laundry, trying to chill and cursing my shitty immune system.

I guess that's all for now.

Monday, August 1, 2016

36 WEEKS?!

Well, Week 35 was an eventful week!

On Wednesday, I picked up my bridesmaid dress for Rob and Lindsay's wedding. I'm kiiiiiinda freaking out about fitting into it and making it up to NJ, but I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN! I am determined. I ordered the dress 2 sizes bigger than I was measuring a month ago, and I have an alteration appointment set for mid September, so cross your fingers that Baby Mazz arrives on time! After that, I stopped by my friend Rachael's house, where we chatted and ate a huge slice of chocolate cake and ice cream. I'm clearly not THAT concerned about fitting into the dress. :P On my way home, I went to Kirkland's, which is a Homegoods-ish store I guess? I don't know, I had never been there before this, but they had this perfect guitar lamp for the baby's room. They also had a ton of fall decor out, and I had to do everything in my power not to buy it. I am OVER summer. Halloween needs to be here.

Besides that, Eric's aunt, uncle, and cousins came to visit! I love love love having visitors, and it was good timing right now. I've been starting to freak out about my due date being a month away... not about the actual labor and delivery, but actually having a kid. So it was good to hang out with Eric's cousins and talk to his aunt and uncle about everything. We went out to eat, went to breweries, and hung out with Nym. We finally made it to the Funky Buddha brewery, which was INCREDIBLE. It was torturous to not be able to drink there. There was a couple next to us with a little baby, maybe a month old. That will definitely be me in early October.

I was SO happy with how Nym acted with a house full of people, including four kids all over her. She loved the attention. When they stopped petting her and playing with her, she just followed them around for more. I don't know why I get so nervous about Nym with people when she has never given me a reason to doubt her behavior. It's obviously important to always be cautious with any animal and to introduce them properly to new people and situations, but Nym has shown time and again that she is great with adults, kids, babies, and all of them at once. I love that big fluffbutt.

Besides that, we have just been buying some things we still need for the baby, finishing up the nursery, and watching Stranger Things (which you should definitely watch if you haven't already).

And today was my 36 week doctor appointment!

How far along?  36 weeks 1 day! That means 3 weeks 6 days left until my due date. HO.LY.SHIT. Baby Mazz is the size of a papaya, or a chihuahua.

Total weight gain/measurements: 25 lbs. exactly... also HO.LY.SHIT.

Maternity clothes: Even the ones I have barely cover my belly at this point.

Stretch marks: None yet, but I think I might get a few. The skin around my belly button is starting to look like it's stretched pretty thin. I have some faint white marks... I'm using baby oil and lotion twice a day, but honestly, there is nothing I can do at this point. If my skin is going to stretch, it's going to stretch. And I am still going to rock my bikinis, and if anyone is grossed out by my stretch marks, they are idiots, because they COULD be staring at my boobs instead. So there.

Sleep: NOPE.

Best moment this week: Seeing friends and family, and my doctor appointment today! Eric came with me, and my doctor is super awesome and explained everything very thoroughly to both of us.

Miss anything? Family and friends, feeling comfortable, sleep, alcohol... the usuals.

Movement: Lots!

Food cravings: Doughnuts, which I haven't had in over a week, which is just unacceptable. And now, I really want vanilla soft serve with rainbow jimmies.

Anything making you queasy or sick? I kind of just feel queasy a lot now :/

Gender: A little dude

Labour signs: The doctor examined me today, and I am 1.5cm dilated, 75% effaced, and Baby Mazz is at -1 station in the best birthing position. I guess this explains why I need to pee every five seconds and feel like a giant weight is on my pelvic bone. If you don't know what this all means: 10cm and 100% effaced is when the baby can come out, 0 station is when the baby is fully descended into the pelvis, 3 station is crowning, and the best birthing position is head down. But even though it sounds like I am getting there, women can stay like this for weeks and even be overdue with the same progress that I have right now. So let's hope I keep progressing... but not too fast, because Baby Mazz is NOT fully cooked yet!

Symptoms: Heartburn, trouble sleeping, back pain, peeing all the time, and lots of swelling and general discomfort. My feet looked like balloons for real on Saturday night.

Belly button in or out? Out. Like, I feel like it will cease to exist soon.

Wedding rings on or off? Off

Happy or moody most of the time: I mean, I'm happy, but definitely having mood swings. You would be, too, if you were so fucking uncomfortable.

Looking forward to: Finishing baby's room and meeting my kiddo soon!