Sunday, May 6, 2012

Story of Claudia Angeline Elkins' Birth

On April 11, 2012 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Claudia Angeline Elkins.
I personally picked the name Claudia Angeline about two weeks before I gave birth. We had been thinking about using the name Claudia, Angelina, Gabriella, Charlotte, Clarissa months prior but I like Claudia as first name the most. For the middle name, I wanted to use Angel as part of her name, as well, because I want Claudia to have an Angel-like personality: kind, generous, loving, most lovable, adorable, caring, etc.  So I chose the middle name of Angeline.  Combined with the name Claudia, I simply love it.  The name Claudia is a Latin name, and derives from the same Latin word as cloud.  If you believe the internet, every baby name site out there will have you believe it just means "lame."  However, the origin of the word some say it means perseverance or persevering, and also has the same root of the word cloud, and can also mean to encompass, safety or haven.  Of course I would like to associate her name to perseverance and these other positive words.

1 Corinthians 1:27 and 2:5 God gives a promise, "...but God Has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God! Claudias' persevere in the right direction...

What a great person to have perseverance along with a loving and caring personality.

Adam really liked the name "Charlotte".  I love the name Charlotte too, but Claudia sounds better with her big sister's name "Chloe" and it seems to be more unique in the US while it is still easy for people to spell without guessing, so we also considered these practical things when picking out her name.

Birth Story:

Early in the morning on April 10, 2012 I worked from home and started to feel cramping around 8 AM.  The bloody show had started the day before, right visiting to my OBGYN doctor for an exam. It is usual to have the bloody show after that. I didn't associate the cramping to "potential" labor but continuously monitoring for pattern. At 9:30 AM I took Chloe to her new daycare for observation day from 10 to Noon. I noticed the cramping happened almost every hour or two. Some are lighter than others but definitely noticable. I remember feeling uncomfortable sitting on a small toddler chair in Chloe's class room which I sat on the day before just fine. After lunch I took Chloe home and had a conference call related to projects I had at work. Back to back meeting from 1:30 PM till about 3:30 PM. During that time Adam called to ask me to do a TCPA Dialer (Interactive Intelligence product) test and I told him about the cramping while still telling him that I needed to go back to my other call with a coworker and assisting Adam with the Dialer test calls. I was heavily multitasking on my computer, my phone with two lines and having cramping every half hour on and off at that point. At this point I was still doubting that I was having a labor. I told Adam so but Adam who was a good labor support person and a great husband took the initiative to start telling Debbie, Erin, Amy and Sue (our neighbor who was our backup to take care of Chloe). I was expecting a callback from my OBGYN nurse at this point but our Doula Julie Pichon called at the right time. She asked me how I was doing and I told her about the cramping. The OBGYN nurse, Julie and myself were thinking that the cramping and the bloody show could most likely be caused by the previous day's exam but they both wanted me to still watch for the pattern and time the cramping just in case it is labor. The cramping interval period got closer but not close enough to be considered labor like the one I had last time with Chloe. It jumped from half hour back to one hour and then down to 15 minutes and half hour until it was more consistent every half hour and then every 15 minutes. When it got to consistently 20-30 minutes Adam was already home and started getting ready. We both finished all the things we have postponed like finishing assembling baby swings, car seat, re-adjusted baby bed and Adam finally packed clothes (which I had been reminding for a couple of weeks). Right when I thought we were ready, Amy and Chris came. I was lying on the bed trying to rest but the cramping became stronger. I started thinking this is definitely labor but when should we go to the hospital? Debbie came not long after that and I think she could tell that I was focused and she thought I was ready to go to the hospital. Julie has been checking regularly at this point and she told me I had to follow my motherly instinct regardless of anybody else says including Julie herself. She was right. I went to the bathroom not long after the call with Julie around 11 PM. I heard Adam talking to Julie while I was having a very strong cramping or contraction. I told Julie the intensity of the cramping convinced me of this being labor and I told Adam that we now had to head out to the hospital.
We got to the hospital at exactly midnight. There was no one at the receptionist table and the security guard could tell I was in labor as I had to put my head down the desk and wait to talk. Julie came not long after.
Adam, Julie and I were taken to the initial examination room. I was asked to change to the hospital gown but Julie reminded me that I didn't need to change to the hospital gown if I feel more comfortable in my dress.
I was wearing my long black dress that is really comfy so I decided not to change to the hospital gown.
We waited for a good 40 minutes before the nurse came back to do the examination. Before that I had to give my driver license, insurance card, answer some questions, gave urine sample and signed a hospital form. There was also an intern asking some questions which at that point was not an additional thing that I wanted to do in pain. Finally the nurse told me that I was 7 cm dilated. Julie reminded me how such good news that was and we got there at the perfect time. The nurse took us to the delivery room. More questions were asked right after I got in to the room and right away I gave the hand gesture and leaned forward on the bed showing that I was experiencing strong contraction and couldn't answer. I remember Adam trying to remember the pediatrician name. No matter how hard I wanted to answer I just couldn't. Julie put up the exercise ball on the bed and asked if I wanted and could kneel and lean forward on the ball. I thought I should try anything else other than standing at that point and I quickly climbed on to the bed without assistance and quickly followed Julie's direction to rest on the exercise ball. It helped but the contraction got stronger and stronger. Julie gave me some ice water because she saw my lips became dryer. The nurse put an IV heplock and started an antibiotic for strep B. I started to vocalize with every breathing (every time I breath out). At some point the grunt became the sound of pushing. This is when my experience giving birth the first time helped. I knew exactly that I needed to push. The resident doctor came and asked if she could help check the baby position and dilation again. I exclaimed "Yes". The doctor gave recommendation to change my pushing position right away. She said the baby wouldn't come out easily with the kneeling position. I followed the instructions to lay down on my left side and hold up my right knee with Julie on left side and Adam on the other side. I pushed two times (long pushes) and the baby came out.  It was a very quick birth.  We were in the triage room checking the dilation for about one hour from 12:00 AM to 1:00 AM, when we moved to the delivery room.  Claudia was born at 1:42 AM, which was so fast that they had not finished administering the strep B antibiotic, which is a typical procedure, but it goes to show how fast Claudia came.  She weighed 6 lbs. 8 oz, and was 21 inches, although Adam suspects that there was an error in measurement because she seemed shorter than Chloe.  At her first Pediatrician appointment less than a week later she measured 19.75 inches.

I held baby Claudia right away and put her close to my chest. However due to her low temperature she needed to be warmed up and taken from me right away as well. Not long after that she came back though and I nursed her on my left side. Julie assisted. The baby sucked but didn't latch too well. The nurse came and suggested to try the other side. Claudia latched on better on the right side. After about 10 minutes the baby let go and I tried the left side again. It was a little bit better. I continued nursing until I came home from the hospital. Although I didn't really want to use pacifier, there were times we used pacifier at night/early morning.

One the way home from the hospital we stopped by CVS and I didn't try to wake Claudia up right after we got back home. I gave pacifier when Joe, Mamaw and Erin visited and skipped a feeding when the baby fell asleep after the visit. What a big mistake. My milk came in that night and my breasts were engorged. I felt I just had breast augmentation with a very unexpected super large result and I felt like carrying heavy bricks on my chest. I tried warm shower, cold compress, pumping, nursing and Adam helped with Reverse Pressure Softening, (Adam's Commentary:  This could also be described as "Boob Pushing."  Now you know.).  The latter was not a good idea... extremely painful and the nipple ring was back to its swollen state right away. My milk didn't come out when I pumped and the baby refused to nurse which I think is because of the hard and swollen nipple and breast. I know being a Mom is not easy but this engorgement period is one big struggle. Mom goes through a lot of pain and this is one of them after birth.  I later read online that the addition of an IV, which we used during this birth, can contribute to this engorgement.   I finally called Julie and she suggested to take Ibuprofen. The next morning I felt better.

Claudia seemed to cluster fed from 10 PM to 2-3 AM for the first three weeks. The first two nights at home we had to give formula to Claudia but the next day Julie reminded me to not give formula and pacifier. Even when the pediatrician told me to supplement every other feeding due to potential jaundice on the one week visit, Julie again reminded me that I could go back to the old habit of supplementing if I do that. As long as I breast feed continuously and sufficiently it should help with jaundice she said. I really took in this suggestion and for the next couple of nights I persisted on nursing even with one eye open and baby on my chest and lap almost 24x7. Of course I carefully laid the baby and woke up periodically which also meant I didn't get enough sleep for three weeks. However, right after the first week and a half I felt very comfortable nursing already regardless of my lack of sleep.

Right on the start of week three of Claudia's life, she slept longer at night giving me good 3-4 hour of sleep at one time, nursed for half to one hour and sleep for another 3-4 hour the next. What a relief.

Some things that helped in breast feeding Claudia:
1. Cross hold
2. Skin to skin and touch the back of her head directly on her neck skin. Don't cover the back of her neck with blanket.
3. Massage or express milk before nursing.
4. Nose aligns with the nipple and let her open her mouth wide. Sometimes letting her cry first and right after she opens her mouth wide push her mouth right on to the nipple until she latches on.
5. massage the breast close to the underarm right after the latch to force her to open her mouth wide and re-adjust the latch when the milk is coming in faster.
6. When she is sucking, continuously in one stroke massage/gently put pressure on the breast close to the underarm and let go every time she stops sucking. Also put a gently pressure on the neck behind her ear/massage her hand/touch her chin to remind her to keep sucking especially when she is falling asleep.
7. Align her body horizontally facing me (make sure she is not falling on one the bottom side).
8. Sometimes I have to let her start sucking even with small mouth opening and let her re-adjust after one or two sucking motions.
9. Start using nipple lotion from the start of nursing at the hospital until the nipple is soft and the latch is good. Continue applying in between feeding.
10. Burp in between before offering more
11. Sometimes massaging or expressing milk caused the milk to come faster than the baby can handle so expect the baby to let go and burp first before offering more. But offer right away before the baby falls asleep.

One new thing that happened at the hospital this time was one of the nurses told us that I was Hep B positive. Actually I was Hep B Antibody positive which would be expected, because I got this antibody from Hep B vaccine during the Green Card process.  However, the nurse apparently incorrectly told the pediatrician and didn't get the feedback from the OBGYN in time. To be safe, Adam and I decided to follow the suggestion to provide the Hep B vaccine to Claudia and administered the booster to help fight the Hep B virus, if that was the case.  (Adam's Commentary:  Oh by the way, we were also freaking out about having Hep B.  Thanks nurse.  Fortunately, using the powers of deduction, we had figured out by nights end that there must have been some confusion, however, it wasn't until the next day when the doctor came in and explained the mistake and that there wasn't anything to worry about that we felt 100% better.)  We didn't want to give the Hep B vaccine right away, similar to how we did a delayed vaccine schedule with Chloe, but this event forced us to give this to Claudia right away. According to Dr. Gates (my OB) and the hospital Pediatrician, the booster wouldn't do any harm. What a headache due to a nurse not knowing what the antibody means.

Claudia continues to grow, and I have been nursing her and we have only used about three bottles worth of supplementary formula.  Her weight dipped as normal, and she reached her birth weight about a week after her birth.  She is very attentive, and looks around all the time.  Her cheeks are getting chubbier now, and she's very cute.  She looks like a little version of Adam.  Chloe is thrilled with her, and has adjusted splendidly.  She talks about seeing Claudia when she comes home from daycare, and she says, "Claudia kisses" when she wants to give her kisses, which is all the time!