Thursday, December 23, 2010

Issue 10: Baby Strom!!!

All I want for Christmas…
I recently received a message on Facebook from a college friend that read, “All I want for Christmas is an updated Farm Notes…you have three weeks, get on it!”.

So, here I am, two days before Christmas, trying to fulfill my girlfriend’s wish! Thanks for the motivation, Brittany!

Baby Strom
Grant and I had a beautiful baby boy, Gavin Edward Strom, on July 17th at 11:04 pm. He weighed 7lbs 7oz and was 20 inches long. Gavin was very punctual and came on his due date! My last Farm Notes I mentioned that I planned a party at our house the night before my due date to make God laugh at my plans, since I hadn’t planned anything all summer in case baby came early. Well, He let me have my party, but after everyone left the party, I had pre-labor signs and told Grant before going to bed, “We’re going to have our baby tomorrow!” which made him respond, “Yeah right!” Sure enough, at 6am the next morning, I had even more pre-labor signs and I started to feel cramping. I knew this baby was coming, ready or not!

It wouldn’t be a Farm Notes without a story pertaining to farm life…and yes, folks, my labor story has a few!

Because our house has an old septic system (and the plumping wasn’t done correctly), whenever we have a lot of people over, our toilets back up and the basement toilet overflows. This means you can’t use the toilets until Grant, Doug, and Marsha work to get the pipes unstuck or until the plumping company comes out to fix the problem. After everyone left our party Friday night, Grant went to the basement and noticed the puddle on the floor outside his bathroom. I heard a loud “AHHHH!” and knew what he was mad about. Too tired to fix the issue that night, he said he’d get it taken care of the next morning and to not flush the upstairs toilet until it was unplugged. From all our baby classes, I knew that a woman in pre-labor was in definite need of a flushing toilet. However, I tried to sleep knowing that I was probably going to have a baby the next morning. I just prayed that God would let me get a good night’s sleep because I had a lot of work ahead of me. I was exhausted from cleaning the house, preparing for the party, entertaining, and staying up late. I didn’t want to continue the party in the middle of the night at the hospital. God would really be laughing then!

Fortunately, I slept until 6am, when cramping woke me up. I was officially in pre-labor and was definitely in need of a working toilet. When I got up, I still used our upstairs bathroom and just didn’t flush….and we all know how often nine month pregnant women need to use the bathroom! Grant went outside to do hog chores and said he’d be back to fix the toilets with his dad. As I kept using the bathroom for a few hours and Grant still wasn’t home, I kept thinking, “Dude, you need to get home to fix this thing because you don’t realize how serious this is…I’m in labor!!!”

Eventually, Grant made it back in the house by 9am with his dad, but they couldn’t get it unplugged. The options were: a) pre-labor in my own house where I felt most comfortable but go to the bathroom outside behind the barn, or b) go to my in-law’s house across the street so I’d have a working toilet…not awkward at all! I chose the later, grabbed a few things I might need (my watch, cell phone, a bottle of water, and my journal—in case inspiration struck to write Baby Strom a letter before he/she arrived, which never happened because I was too focused on watching the minutes tick away in between contractions), and headed across the street.

Oh, and to make the situation even more awkward and more “farmy”, Grant went to a pig show 25 minutes away all morning and early afternoon. He left me with orders to call him if I thought it was serious enough that he would have to come home early before the show ended otherwise he’d be home at 4pm. Grrrrreat! Marsha and Doug also left to go into town, meaning Galesburg, to go get a contraption that would fix our toilet system. That left me, alone in their house with use of their bathroom, watching The Sound of Music and the clock. Just the way I wanted to start my labor!

As the minutes ticked away and my cramping started to become more frequent, I called my colleague and great friend, Sandra, for labor advice. My doctor had left that morning (great timing) on her summer vacation, so when I called the hospital that morning, the doctor on call said to watch my pre-labor signs, keep track of my contractions, and head to the hospital when they were five minutes apart. Sandra agreed. By the time I was 5-7 minutes apart, she suggested I call Grant to get him home and head to the hospital. I wasn’t in extreme pain, just really uncomfortable, so I wasn’t sure what to do. From the way movies or TLC’s “A Baby Story” make it seem, I assumed that I would go to the hospital when I was in extreme pain. So, just to be safe, I made the call to Grant to tell him that he probably didn’t have much time before he needed to come home from the pig show. In the meantime, Doug and Marsha returned with lunch and a contraption that would leave our “toilet without a chance!” Doug was certain it would do the trick! However, I didn’t.

So, I stayed to eat lunch and waited to see when my contractions would become consistently five minutes apart. While continuing to time my contractions, I ate my heart out. I had multiple friends tell me to eat as much as I could before heading to the hospital because once I got there, I may not eat for many hours. I savored every bite of the sub sandwich and sweet corn knowing what was ahead. (Everyone that knows me well, knows that I can’t go without eating a meal, so I definitely tried to eat as much as possible which ended up being a huge mistake.)

By the time lunch was over, my contractions were still 5-7 minutes apart. Marsha went outside to mow the lawn and Doug went back to our house to work on the toilet, leaving me alone to watch my movie. I didn’t last more than five minutes before I called Grant and told him to leave and get home, and that yes, I was serious, we were having our baby today! I got in my car, found Marsha on the lawn mower, pulled up to her and told her that I was headed home to wait for Grant because we were indeed going to head to the hospital. I assured her that I’d be okay waiting on my own for a few minutes before he arrived (and without the use of a toilet).

I wasn’t home for more than ten minutes and Grant pulled in. I took the advice from all my baby books: we both showered, I shaved, I made him a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, packed granola bars, bags of cereal, and water bottles. Weeks before, I packed up what we’d need and made a list of what we had to do before getting out of the house and things we didn’t want to forget. As I crossed the last thing off that list, we took one last picture of me in the house with a sign in front of my belly that said, “Here we go Baby Strom…we can’t wait to meet you!” Within twenty minutes, we were out the door with our already-packed bags of overnight clothes, pillows, relaxation things, cameras, etc. that were waiting for us in a pile by the front door.

I jumped in the car, making sure to sit on a beach towel- another piece of advice from a girlfriend. Actually, she said to put a garbage bag under the towel because if my water broke, the towel probably wouldn’t do. However, I purposely forgot the garbage bag thinking that there was no way a towel wouldn’t be sufficient. We didn’t make it too far: our first stop was across the street at Doug and Marsha’s to use the bathroom one last time before our 45 minute drive to the hospital. By then, my contractions were consistently 4-5 minutes apart and I was having a hard time standing up through them. We hugged his parents goodbye, and Marsha insisted we drive straight to the hospital and not stop to get the car washed, like Grant wanted. Pulling out of their driveway and driving down our gravel road was awful- every little bump made my pain worse. I was really regretting living out in the country on a gravel road, 45 minutes from the hospital!

It seemed like forever until we made it onto a smooth pave road, but in reality it was only five minutes. The entire way to the hospital, Grant counted me through my contractions, as I grabbed onto the door and breathed my way through them. Then, I’d have 2-3 minutes of pure bliss, talking, looking through the cds for ones we wanted to bring into the hospital, only to find myself breathing through another contraction with my eyes closed and griping the door handle and counsel a few minutes later. Grant couldn’t believe how the pain just seemed to go away instantly after the contraction was over.

Instead of dropping me off in front, we parked in the parking garage, grabbed our bags, and walked through the skywalk- what all the nurses told us to do when we went on our tour of the labor and delivery floor. However, we failed to do a practice run of their directions and realized they themselves had never taken their own advice. At the end of the skywalk, we assumed we’d be right at the labor and delivery floor or at least the hospital registration desk, but instead, we came to a dead end with an elevator. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” was all I could muster up at that point. Without another choice, we took the elevator down to the entrance and had to walk down another long hallway to the hospital check in. When I say walk, I mean waddle slowly for about two minutes until I stopping to grab onto something to breathe my way through my next contraction.

We came to the registration desk where an older woman was sitting, who obviously wasn’t a nurse and was VERY slow when it came to using her computer. I told her I had pre-registered months ago as the hospital advised, only to hear many minutes later that they didn’t have my information. As I started telling them my name, date of birth, etc, I had to stop to grab onto their desk, bend over, and breathe through another contraction. In the meantime, the older nurse kept asking me questions as Grant rubbed my back and answered them for me. Did she not realize that I was in labor even though my first words to her were, “I’m in labor” when we walked in?! She then proceeded to ask me, “Are you sure you’re in labor?” That’s when I lost it, and the other nurse sitting next to her came to my rescue and told her, “We’ll finish their registration later, I’m taking her up because she’s going to have a baby!” She helped me into a wheelchair, pushed me down the hall to anther elevator and wheeled me into the labor and deliver center. Did it really have to be that hard?!

I was taken to a room, told to put on a lovely hospital robe, and wait for a nurse to come in to do an examination to just make sure I wasn’t one of those ladies who thinks they are in labor but really aren’t. If that was the case, I didn’t want to know what real pre-labor was like! The nurse, Kristen, (with that name, I knew she’d be awesome!), was shocked that I arrived at the hospital having contractions two minutes apart. We explained that we lived pretty far from the hospital and they sped up pretty fast by the time we left the house. Within a minute of her examining me, and saying I was already a centimeter dilated, my water gushed. Yes, folks, gushed. If that would have happened in the car, I would have definitely needed that garbage bag! Next baby, I will have one pre-packed in the car for the drive to the hospital.

We proceeded to my labor and delivery room where we made ourselves as comfortable as possible in between my contractions. My doctor ended up being the same doctor who was on call that morning. When he came in to see me, he couldn’t believe that my contractions were so close. Upon meeting him, I said, “Well, I was definitely in labor!” He laughed and said, “What happened to coming in when contractions were five minutes apart?!” We laughed and said it was a long story!

I will spare you all the other details. One, because they don’t have anything to do with living on a farm, and two, they are pretty intense. My labor and delivery was not very easy. I made it as far along as I could without drugs and then begged for them at three centimeters only to be told that the anesthesiologist was in a c-section and wouldn’t be available for another hour. I remember responding, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I also had excruciating back labor, so my doctor and nurses wanted me to hold off on an epidural until I could get the baby to flip off my back so I’d have less of a chance to have a c-section. My pain was so intense that I was throwing up my lunch with every contraction. Yes folks, on top of being in pain, shaking, and sweating, I was throwing up every 1-2 minutes with every contraction. I felt like I had run a marathon with every contraction that passed. I won’t ever forget Grant saying, “What! You had sweet corn for lunch!!!” His attempt at trying to make me laugh didn’t work- I have to give him credit though!

After I got the baby to flip off my back and the anesthesiologist was available (thank God for both), I received an epidural and was on my way to a relaxing labor and delivery. Finally, I could smile. Unfortunately, baby wasn’t very comfortable in there and his heart rate began to drop with every contraction. At 11:04pm, Gavin Edward Strom was born by c-section. Even though he wasn’t born the way I wanted, we were both healthy and safe. As the doctor pulled the baby out, he said, “Oh my…Dad, you have to see this! I’ve never seen a cord this wrapped around a baby before!...and he’s peeing!” Gavin was a mover and a shaker—he had his cord wrapped around various parts of his body at least four times, which was the cause of the low heart rate during contractions. He also celebrated his arrival into the world by relieving himself. With only six minutes to go until he’d be a day late, he arrived punctual (like the Strom Family) and was free at last!

Now, five months later, Gavin is a smiley, peaceful, and fun little guy. He is rolling, sticking out his tongue, grabbing onto his feet, and putting anything he can get his hands on in his mouth. He is such a little lover, too. Every person who sees him says what a gorgeous little baby he is. I, of course, am biased and completely agree. There were a few weeks where women would just stare at his blue eyes and comment on how striking they were. These days, he looks a lot like his daddy. Although, people that don’t know Grant, think he looks just like me. Others, who know us both, think there is no denying that he’s Grant’s son. Since Thanksgiving, I am back to work, so Gavin spends the day at his babysitter’s house. She claims that he is the most perfect baby she has ever been around. We completely agree! We couldn’t have asked for a better baby. He is perfect in every way, and we feel so blessed to have him as our son. As Christmas is upon us, we are excited to create new memories and traditions as a family. We are so thankful for all the blessings God bestowed upon us this past year.

Whether you find yourself on the farm or in the city, we hope this holiday season also finds you with many things to be thankful for. God Bless you all!

...more Farm Notes to come once we head into 2011. For now, Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a happy and healthy 2011!!!