26 August 2011

the day our sunshine (girl) arrived

i love reading other people's birth stories and i have been meaning to post mine/ruby's but, as you can imagine, things have been busy.  i wrote this in the pregnancy journal i kept while i was pregnant with ruby, but since this blog is kinda great big "book" for ruby to one day read, i want to keep it here, too.

so, here goes.

my due date was march 18th. at my last few prenatal check ups, i was told i wasn't dilated at all. i hadn't been having any contractions. i pretty much didn't think this girl was coming out and that she had decided to take up permanent residence in my uterus. even though her landlord was seriously ready to evict her butt. :) however, my doctor had informed us that he would be out of the country from march 8 - march 20 and since i kinda wanted him around for the big show, i was willing to hang out with my co-pilot a little while longer. my doctor scheduled my induction for the day after he returned from vacation and i had settled into idea that i would likely be induced.

however, ruby had a different plan. :) when i went to bed march 14th i felt a little "off". i can't really explain it but i was just unsettled. i got up that night 10 times to pee, which was more than my usual 6. and i remember waking up feeling like i was getting cramps, but they were so light that i would fall back asleep right away and didn't think much of it. i woke up around 7:30 am on march 15th, rolled over, and heard a "pop". yup, that's right. you can actually hear when your waters break. gross, i know. i remember saying to T "oh my gosh! i think my water just broke" and jumped out of bed. at which point, my suspicion was confirmed as i waddled to the bathroom with my knees held tightly together. i had noticed that it looked like ruby may have had her first poo (i know, ew!) already so i called the hospital right away and they said to come in. we live only 4 blocks from the hospital, which was great because i got to jump in the shower (and stall a minute while i processed that this was actually happening!) and get myself together. terence, of course, had yet to pack anything for him to bring to the hospital so he ran around and did that while i showered. we let our families know, i called into work, and off to the hospital we went.

i obviously had nothing to compare contractions to, but i was surprised by how strong they became and how quickly they became that strong. by the time we got to the hospital (around 8 am) they were coming about every 3 or 4 minutes and were pretty uncomfortable. they checked us into a room and hooked us up to some monitors. they checked me and i was at about 3 cm around 8:30 am. the nurse started taking background and health information from me and this is when the contractions really started getting stronger. i definitely couldn't talk through them at that point. around 10:00 am, the monitors picked up that ruby's heart rate dropped quite a bit (in the 80s) for about 6 minutes. at this point, a lot of doctors, medical students, attendings, etc came into our room to check me out. ruby had an internal monitor put on her to monitor her heart rate closer. it seemed whenever i sat up, walked around, or changed from any position except on my sides or on my hands and knees, her heart rate continued to drop. it was really scary. i was so grateful for the medical staff that helped us. they were supportive and informative and really made me feel like we were in good hands.

ruby's heart rate continued to drop every so often so i kept switching the sides that i was laying on. my nurse kept reminding me to breath deeply and slowly so that ruby would get enough oxygen and that really helped me to stay focused on what ruby needed from me. contractions are uncomfortable, to say the least. the pain is maddening, after a while. it just keeps coming and you know it's going to come back so it can be difficult to relax completely in between them when you know it's returning soon. at one point, the contractions were lasting 3 - 4 minutes long with about a minute break in between. i just kept thinking to myself "just breath. it's just one more thing you have to do for ruby." that, and T rubbing my hands and my forehead, really helped me focus and get through the pain.

around 12 noon, i was checked again and was told that i was 8 cm dilated. 8!! i couldn't believe it. as far as pain meds went, i knew i didn't want any IV meds. i assumed i would get an epidural, i just didn't have a plan as to when. i figured i'd wait until i needed it. when they told me i was at 8 cm, i remember thinking that i'd be coming up on what they call "transition" which was when all the preggo ladies on "a baby story" would become absolutely crazy-looking and start screaming about how they "can't do it" and "get the baby out!!!" i had managed to stay pretty focused and had yet to "lose it" so i told T and our nurse that i was ready for the epidural. the nurse told us that the best anesthesiologist was in surgery and if i could hold out another hour, she'd recommend waiting for this anesthesiologist, in particular. i agreed and carried on.

and man, was she right! around 1:30, the woman of my dreams, er, i mean, my anesthesiologist arrived. within 5 minutes, the epidural was in and within 15 minutes, i was feeling like i was in the middle of a spa day instead of in labor.

by 5 pm, i was fully dilated but ruby was facing up so she wasn't descending exactly like she was supposed to. i pushed for about an hour and a half, during which time her heart rate continued to drop. the doctor who was taking care of us (remember, mine is in puerto rico at the moment! ha!) voiced her concern for ruby and her heart rate continuing to drop. she recommended prepping me for a c-section and then using a vacuum to try and help ruby out. if that didn't work, we'd immediately proceed with the surgery. the epidural had worn off by then and i quickly agreed. :) in all seriousness, though, i was scared for ruby and was just absolutely ready to meet her. 

they got us ready and wheeled me into the OR. T was right alongside me. they tried with the vacuum during one contraction but it wasn't successful. the doctor said we'd try through one more contraction and move forward with the c-section if it didn't work. thankfully, we didn't have to have surgery. at 7:26 pm, ruby finally made her appearance. she was worked on pretty quickly by the medical team present because she had the cord wrapped around her neck 5 (yes, 5!!) times. they got her to respond pretty quickly but her APGAR scores were very low and they let us know she needed to stay in the NICU for one night for testing. before they took her down, though, we got to hold her and take a few pictures while they took care of me. 

to be honest, i was kind of in shock, i think. i remember feeling absolute relief that she was here, she was okay, and that i wasn't in pain anymore. i just couldn't believe that she was here - in the same room as me. i mean, this little person that i've been literally sharing everything with for the last 9 months, was finally on the outside and i was looking right at her. i was still worried about her and her health, but she seemed to look okay to me, so i tried to let that worry subside a bit. i do remember ruby looking directly at me, like she knew me. it was the most surreal feeling. and actually, she did know me already. and i knew her. i can't really describe it but any of you mothers out there know what i mean, i'm sure.

i went to the NICU three times that night to feed ruby. she seemed to take to nursing pretty quickly, although she couldn't do it for very long. those times together, just the two of us, in the middle of the night, were really wonderful, though. i still couldn't believe that she was actually my daughter, but i was immediately over-the-moon proud to say she was.

she came to our room the next day and has been with us ever since. :) she was in the 10th percentile for all of her measurements at birth and caught up by her first month appt. now she is in the 50th percentile and growing like a weed. she's come a long way...

ruby when she was brand new to the world.
we're a good team, rubinski. we got you here all safe & sound. 

25 August 2011

found & must be shared!

...because i hope ruby will always know how little her appearance defines her...
...because i hope we can foster her independence and encourage her curiousity to learn about the world...
...because although she is an absolutely beautiful child, i hope she knows that she is so much more than that...

i've posted this on facebook, too. i think it is incredibly powerful. the way we interact with, treat, view, dress, and raise girls is so vastly different than the way we are with little boys. it's why i don't like for ruby to have tons of pink stuff or to have a lot of designer clothes and why i don't constantly dress her up like a little doll and prefer her to be in normal (little) clothes. i feel very strongly that we need to teach her what is really important in life. okay, i'm getting all soap-box-y, so i'll move on to what i am refering to. :)

this article was linked to in another blog that i follow and i found it so powerful that i just had to share with whoever reads this. :)

"I went to a dinner party at a friend's home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.
Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, "Maya, you're so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!"

But I didn't. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.

What's wrong with that? It's our culture's standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn't it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem? Because they are so darling I just want to burst when I meet them, honestly.

Hold that thought for just a moment.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What's missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.
That's why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.

"Maya," I said, crouching down at her level, looking into her eyes, "very nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too," she said, in that trained, polite, talking-to-adults good girl voice.

"Hey, what are you reading?" I asked, a twinkle in my eyes. I love books. I'm nuts for them. I let that show.
Her eyes got bigger, and the practiced, polite facial expression gave way to genuine excitement over this topic. She paused, though, a little shy of me, a stranger.

"I LOVE books," I said. "Do you?"

Most kids do.

"YES," she said. "And I can read them all by myself now!"

"Wow, amazing!" I said. And it is, for a five-year-old. You go on with your bad self, Maya.

"What's your favorite book?" I asked.

"I'll go get it! Can I read it to you?"

Purplicious was Maya's pick and a new one to me, as Maya snuggled next to me on the sofa and proudly read aloud every word, about our heroine who loves pink but is tormented by a group of girls at school who only wear black. Alas, it was about girls and what they wore, and how their wardrobe choices defined their identities. But after Maya closed the final page, I steered the conversation to the deeper issues in the book: mean girls and peer pressure and not going along with the group. I told her my favorite color in the world is green, because I love nature, and she was down with that.

Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It's surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls, but I'm stubborn.

I told her that I'd just written a book, and that I hoped she'd write one too one day. She was fairly psyched about that idea. We were both sad when Maya had to go to bed, but I told her next time to choose another book and we'd read it and talk about it. Oops. That got her too amped up to sleep, and she came down from her bedroom a few times, all jazzed up.

So, one tiny bit of opposition to a culture that sends all the wrong messages to our girls. One tiny nudge towards valuing female brains. One brief moment of intentional role modeling. Will my few minutes with Maya change our multibillion dollar beauty industry, reality shows that demean women, our celebrity-manic culture? No. But I did change Maya's perspective for at least that evening.

Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she's reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You're just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.

Here's to changing the world, one little girl at a time."
~ Lisa Bloom

21 August 2011

it's a weird kinda feeling

sometimes i feel so in love with our little family - T, ruby, & i - that it literally hurts my heart. i feel like that tonight. i feel like that often, actually. having lived away from my family for so long, i sometimes could forget just how happy being with your own flesh and blood can make a person. until now. now i'm around it every day and it just fills me up with pure joy. and sometimes, like tonight, it makes me so happy that i can't help but think of all the bummer things in life that can crop up from time to time and mess that happiness up. but what's that saying? something about how worrying about tomorrow robs today of its joy or something? yeah, so that's what i'm focusing on. i'm keeping my head and heart focused on all the good in our life and all the plans we have for the future. it is (and is going to be) a wonderful life.

15 August 2011

what up, 5-month-old??!

did i go a little overboard? yeah. but whatev. she'll only turn 5 months once. :) 
the last one is definitely my favorite. the caption is "i'm 5 months old. like, whoa!"

08 August 2011

a perfect afternoon {almost!}

last weekend my friend michelle & her husband, cody, came over and painted our apartment back to white (so that we can move in a few weeks --- whoo! but that's another post...) anyway, ruby took an awesome nap during all that so we (well, mostly cody) got everything done. by the time we were done there were paint fumes throughout the house, so we figured it best to get ruby out for a bit while it aired out. michelle & cody went home and ruby & i went for a walk to the park. it was a beautiful day. ruby absolutely loves to look at the leaves on the trees and did so for about 25 minutes while we relaxed under the trees. the only person missing was T.

05 August 2011

we've got a little bookworm on our hands!

and this little geek mama couldn't be more excited! :) we don't have a lot of books...yet. i'm working on building up ruby's book collection. it's still missing classics like "where the wild things are" and "the cat in the hat" but we've got a few favorites. i am a big fan of sandra boynton and ruby loves "the belly button book". most nights we read "blueberry girl" - a book that took me about three weeks worth of reading each night before i managed not to cry through the whole thing. :) it's a great book. i don't think ruby's really picky about which book we read, she just loves to lean forward (she's really working on her sitting-up skills) and touch the pages, looking closer at the pictures. it's definitely one of my absolute favorite parts of the day. check out the cutest thing ever ~ ~ ~

i just love how she sucks on her bottom lip when she's really focused on something. :)