31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

So today was the "Big Day." Sylvia turned two weeks old, I had my first postnatal check up, and Sylvia got to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Halloween is Dave's favorite holiday and a tradition that he has been eager to begin with our family is to watch the Charlie Brown classic every year. And so this year he and Sylvia sat down together and had some quality Daddy-Daughter bonding time. Sylvia seemed to enjoy it until she got a wet diaper. Then they needed to take a little movie break.
This adorable monkey costume is thanks to Sylvia's Aunty Stephy. Aunty Stephy loves monkeys and was thrilled when she found this perfect costume for her first niece. It was HUGE but Sylvia did look oh-so-adorable! And when we took her into town for my doctor's appointment she attracted quite a bit of attention.
These are not the greatest pictures but we had a camera that was on the fritz to contend with. By the time we managed these few shots the camera completely died. [BUT we had it under warranty, took it back to Best Buy today and already have received a replacement.] These next two shots are taken with the phone camera and are not quite the same quality. After my doctor's appointment we took Sylvia to meet some of our favorite folks and sellers of some of the best coffee in the greater Grand Rapids area: West Coast Coffee on Monroe Center. These pictures are of our time there this morning.
While we were enjoying our coffee beverages Sylvia indulged in a bottle. The family that drinks together, stays together?!?!

And my doctor's appointment went well. I am indeed healing very nicely and did give driving a try today. No real pain when applying pressure on the peddles, so I am good to go! I was reminded to continue to take it easy and not push it too much; I am still recovering from major surgery. But I am feeling so much better and my pain has become quite minimal. I still need pain meds at night but most days I can manage just fine without it.

And now we are going to try to get some sleep and so I will sign off by wishing a Happy Halloween to all!

30 October 2008

A Screaming Halloween Part II

I wanted to get a picture of Sylvia in her Little Pumpkin outfit now that it fits her, but she was NOT in the picture taking mood today and made it quite clear to Mama. Hopefully she will be a little more cooperative tomorrow when she is in her costume!

We are not having "official" visiting hours this weekend, but if you are interested in stopping over for a visit, please email me: george544@juno.com. And perhaps this coming week I will be up for having visitors on the weekdays. Again, please email me with your availability if you would like to see us. (We would love to see you!)

29 October 2008

Halloween Part I

Sylvia has a lot of Halloween stuff to wear so today was Halloween Part I. Look for additional segments over the next two days!
Here she is with "Oma" (my mom) in a cute pumpkin onesie from "Grandma" (Dave's mom).
I am getting a little disheartened; her hair is turning more and more strawberry blond like her daddy's. If her eyes become a grey-blue then no one will ever believe that she is my daughter! Dave says that she will act like me, though.
And here she is in an adorable cat hat and bib set from her "Uncle Phil."

27 October 2008

Family Life

I haven't posted anything in a few days, but rest assured, we are doing well as a family. We are VERY tired and VERY overwhelmed but not anything that was unexpected. All of these pictures are from this past Saturday and give a glimpse into our lives at present:

A 3:00 a.m. feeding with Dad.
Dad with both of his "babies." (By the way, Chloe is quite jealous!)
The little star right before her big public debut: We hosted visiting hours on Saturday.
Dave is afraid the beret will warp her and she will end up in a Paris coffee shop reading bad poetry and hanging out with the likes of the characters in Audrey Hepburn's movie Funny Face.
Our first "real" family picture. (I don't count the one from the O.R.)
Daddy and daughter-- he's smiling on the inside, I promise.
Mama and daughter-- I am looking a little less exhausted!
Sylvia and the cats-- they have really taken to her and are very good with her. She frightens Audrey a bit, but otherwise I think they all think that she is another kitten. She does pretty much the same stuff!

24 October 2008

One Week Old!

Sylvia is one week today. She continues to do quite well and is growing like a weed! She has probably grown as much as a full inch in length. How do I know this? Well, now when she lies on my belly her feet reach my incision and when she fidgets it hurts!

22 October 2008

First Doctor's Visit

Sylvia had her first doctor's visit today! She did very well. Just as the doctor came in, though, she gave a nice gushy "squirt" into her diaper, so I think her initial impression may have been a little negative but she quickly warmed up. Her birth weight was 6 pounds, 15 ounces. Her discharge weight (only two days ago) was 6 pounds, 7 ounces. By today she was already 6 pounds, 13 ounces! Of course, this didn't surprise Mama or Oma as she eats like a little piggy!

Sylvia seems to be lactose intolerant (like her Mama), so the doctor has switched her to a soy formula and already feedings have gone better. He also suggested using Dr. Brown's bottles, and these things are great! Thus far I highly recommend them to any bottle-fed tyke. They eliminate the vacuum effect, force the baby to drink slowly, and greatly reduce colic and other "gas issues." (As a side note, my milk has not come in, and some research has told me that it is not all that uncommon for women with traumatic deliveries to not have their milk come in or have it come in really late. So there is still hope!)

Below is Sylvia's hospital picture. She looks like she is saluting-- this should make her Army Captain cousin quite happy!

And for those of you who know about my relationship with Edgar and are wondering how he is coping with the change, he seems to be doing quite well-- as long as there is room for both of Mama's "babies" on her!

And in other cat news: One of our cats has already claimed Sylvia as her own. Autumn, our newest and "most feral" addition has taken a rather possessive and protective attitude. She curls up next to Sylvia, chases other cats away from Sylvia, and sits guard under Sylvia's swing. It is pretty neat.

And I am doing pretty well. Still very sore, very tender, and very exhausted. It is difficult for me to not be able to really care for myself much less not be able to care for my daughter, but I cherish the moments I have with her. She is so precious and when I see her little eyes studying my face I marvel at how remarkable this little human is.
And this Saturday from 2:00-5:00 we are having "visiting hours." If you would like to come visit, we would LOVE to see you. For directions or further information, email me at george544@juno.com.

21 October 2008

Sylvia's Here!

Sylvia Christine Ertman Trowbridge was born at 8:53 p.m. Friday, the 17th of October. She weighed 6 lbs. 15.7 oz. and was 20 inches long. She was born healthy and pink and fidgety.

She is beautiful! I have included the "story" in pictures below. The labor and delivery were very difficult and kind of scary and if you wish to get a general description of the events I have included a letter I wrote about it at the bottom of the post.

Sylvia and I made it home last night and we have been doing well today. We are spending it in bed (I will be confined here for a couple of weeks) and my mom is, VERY thankfully, here to help me care for Sylvia, my house and myself. We will be posting more pictures as we get them!

The Labor: Lots of IV's and a splitting headache
The Delivery: C-Section was decided upon after pushing for over an hour.
Weighing and Measuring: Our beautiful pink baby was a good size.
The Recovery Room: I FINALLY got to hold her!
Post Partum Room: Getting to know my daughter and still recovering from my headache.
Proud Papa: Taken Saturday, does any more need to be said?!
Little Pumpkin: Taken Monday, so precious.
Little Pumpkin: With Matching Pipe.

Going Home: This outfit is what her hospital picture was taken in as well

We apologize for the delay in getting this message out to everyone. The labor and delivery were very difficult and complicated and scary. Thursday night (same day as my last doctor's appointment when they were possibly going to admit me) I began having a constant throbbing headache and blurry vision. We went to the hospital where they admitted me and told me they were going to induce. They began the induction process but by Friday morning my preeclampsia had gotten so bad they had to put me on magnesium sulfate to prevent me from seizing. They also had to line my bed with padding for in case I did experience a seizure. I began to get a migraine (presumably from the preeclampsia).

Sylvia continued to do pretty well in the womb. They did need to add an amniotic flush to my IV and I was required to lie propped on my side to help keep her heart rate stable. These measures seemed to make a difference. I continued to decline and by the time I was ready to begin pushing I was in so much pain from my head that life was pretty unbearable.

I pushed for over an hour (maybe 75-90 minutes). Between an intense throbbing in my head and then an intense pain in my pelvis (a pain that did not feel normal to me for delivery and was so severe I wondered how I could just give up on everything), the doctors finally figured out that Sylvia was positioned wrong and was never going to come out. Her brow bone kept hitting against my pelvic bone (bone on bone pain was what I had been feeling), and a C-Section was immediately ordered.

I was in the O.R. with a couple of towels firmly wrapped around my head because of my headache and I remember very little of what happened. I remember asking to see my child and being told by a doctor, "In a minute." That minute became at least twenty. I finally held her in recovery a couple of hours after she was born. Fortunately Dave was there and was able to see her and hold her very quickly.

BUT Sylvia came out so healthy!!!

I was hooked up to IV's for just over a day longer to prevent seizures and, sadly, could not get pain medication for my incision until my blood levels looked good enough. They did by Saturday morning. The IV's left me feeling like I had the flu and I have never had such fatigue in my life (still suffering from it). Saturday was not peaceful. I had to have my IV fluids replaced every ninety minutes, blood drawn every three hours, vitals taken every two hours . . . I had people in and out of my room constantly! By the time the IV’s came out late Saturday night and the drugs had left my system, I was feeling much better on Sunday. (And the number of nurse/lab/doctor visits to my room had decreased dramatically.)

I was discharged last night and Sylvia and I made it home around 9:00 p.m.

We appreciate all the love and concern from everyone and your continued thoughts and prayers are much needed. We are well, but my recovery is going to be a while and I am frightened of being able to care for my child when I literally cannot even fully care for myself. Dave is well and is a very proud daddy, but he also has concerns as his job does not permit him to be as available to me and Sylvia as he would like. And while I could not be happier with my daughter and feel more blessed that she is so healthy, I do find myself sometimes wishing I were still pregnant and could “do-over” the labor and birth in the hopes of having it done “right.”

Sylvia is, however, the most beautiful baby and she has actually been very, very good thus far. We are eager to see her grow and to let you all know her most recent adventures and our most recent happenings as a family of three (plus all those animals!).

Love to All,
Dave, Valerie and Sylvia

17 October 2008

Update: from Dave

Hello everyone, I'm posting on behalf of Valerie. As everyone knows from the previous post, at the visit yesterday Valerie's doctors were a little concerned because she appeared to be borderline for a lot of things and they almost admitted her. Well...late last night she was feeling a little worse, so we called the on call doc who told us to get to the hospital. Long story short, we got admitted last night and they are in the process of inducing. Valerie feels really crummy from all the meds that she has to be on and she has been poked and prodded quite a bit. The good news is that Sylvia appears to be very healthy, and she should be joining us in the outside world by late today. We'll do our best to keep everyone updated, but don't be surprised if we lose track of this, it's going to be a busy day.

16 October 2008

The Great, the Good and the Bad

The great news is that Sylvia is doing very well. The NST revealed a VERY active baby with a great heart rate. She seems to be quite happy.

The good news is that I was not hospitalized today.

The bad news is that my body is not handling pregnancy well at all.

My blood pressure is SKY high. It was so high during the NST that the numbers were flashing and beeps were coming from the machine-- very exciting! I, therefore, had to stick around and speak with the doctor (the same one we saw in the elevator a couple of weeks ago) after the test. The first thing the doctor asked, "Where is your husband?" Hmmm . . . Not starting off on the right foot here. I told him Saginaw, and he said, "Well, depending on what your blood tests show I may hospitalize you." Well, darn't. That's not part of my plan for the day at all!

Fortunately, my blood tests were already back and while my numbers were not good, they were not bad enough to warrant an immediate trip across the street. (Thank goodness!) I was sent home with pretty explicit instructions: rest, rest, REST and to call immediately if I get a persistant headache, vision problems, nauseua, etc.

Monday's appointment they will discuss inducing-- he said to not plan on being pregnant for much longer than that. (So, it looks like I may no longer have a choice regarding the inducing bit.) Hopefully a miracle will happen and I will go into spontaneous labor over the weekend, which would be great because my favorite doctor is on call all weekend.

And so, the irony to the whole thing is that for almost the entire pregnancy they have been very concerned about Sylvia. Now, Sylvia is fine and they are very concerned about me. I guess I would rather be assured that my daughter should handle labor and delivery well, but I would also rather not be considered "high risk."

Stay tuned for more!

14 October 2008

The Mommy Update

These are my feet, my balloon-like feet. The lines around my ankles are from my socks.

Today I had another prenatal visit. This was not such a great visit. Baby seems to be fine, but Mom is not. My body is simply not handling pregnancy so well anymore. My blood pressure has gone sky-high and as a result I have been put on partial bed rest (resting for no less than two hours every morning, afternoon and evening and then eight hours at night). I also begin a 24 hour urine test tomorrow morning and when I return to the office with that on Thursday they will do some blood work and also do an NST (nonstress test) to make sure baby is handling the stresses of my body all right. I will also be required to have an NST at least twice a week until baby's birth.

It was certainly not a terrible visit, but it was frustrating. If my body is getting so sick of being pregnant why doesn't it just go into labor? The doctors are a little surprised I am still pregnant and even today the doctor muttered, "So when is this baby going to be born?!" Alas, the days are now very numbered and soon it will all be over. In the meantime, however, I am feeling pretty crappy.

I do, however, have some recent late pregnancy experiences that have kept me smiling. The first is the conflicting report I get from people regarding my size. The first is the people who ask, "Are you sure you're not having twins?" [No, seven ultrasounds and an amniocentesis have all confirmed both the number and gender, and yes, I am huge.] The second group of people say, "You don't look large enough to be as far along as you are." [Great, so I look like I should be this bloated and fat normally?!?!] In actuality: My uterus is measuring smaller than average, but I do carry everything "out front" and this does make me look astonishingly large.

Then there are the kinds of people I have met at the supermarket. The first group is frightened of me and avoid all eye contact and try their darndest to stay out of my way. I can't blame them. The second group is comprised of mostly older women and women who do not have children. This group is the one that will give me the large sympathetic eyes when they pass me, will always give me the right-of-way when rounding the corner, and sometimes offer a word. It is not always an appreciated word. For example, the lady who, when she saw me, stopped dead in her tracks and gushed, "Awwwww . . . I just LOVE pregnant bellies!" Huh? I almost had to duck and cover to make sure she didn't come running over to begin stroking my, apparently, much-loved belly. But other times these people are a godsend. This afternoon was one such time. I had to stop at the supermarket on my way home and I needed to buy a case of water. A lady behind me in the check-out line offered to put the water back in my cart and then offered to walk me out to my car and put it in my car for me. She was much-needed and much-appreciated.

My stories can go on, but I don't want to bore anyone. I do, however, want to share these things while I still can. It seems that most women within a couple years after childbirth kind of forget what pregnancy was really like, so I wanted to make sure I recorded all this while I was still in the throes of it. (A recent study has actually confirmed my hypothesis. About eighteen months after delivery women tend to remember mostly the good and not the bad parts of pregnancy, labor and delivery. It must be a species-survival mechanism!)

But in other nature news: The color was gorgeous up here, but after last night's wind and rain most of our leaves are already scattered on the ground. I did, however, include a couple of pictures that when using some imagination you can see how beautiful it was up here.

10 October 2008

No Excitement-- Yet!

I haven't been able to post anything in a few days because we have been having internet problems. Hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week things will be fixed. Until then, I will try and post when I can and if anything "big" happens we'll be sure to find a way to let you all know!

In the meantime, I am well, Sylvia seems to be well and Dave is just anxious to become a dad for "real." My dad and sister celebrate their birthdays this coming Thursday (the 16th), so there are two really strong forces who are encouraging Sylvia to make her birthday the same day. For all I know, it could be their fault that she decided to not come last weekend!

07 October 2008

Healthy Baby, but Still in the Womb

Today's visit went well. I finally met the fourth doctor in the clinic (incidentally she is my actual attending physician) and so now I know all the doctors who may deliver my child. We are not inducing. At least, not yet. Last night I mentioned to Dave that I wasn't sure I wanted to induce and he said that was fine with him. His only concern is being in Saginaw when labor happens (which is kind of likely), but I am very confident he will make it to the hospital in plenty of time to attend the birth.

They did not see any urgent need to induce, which is good. Her kidneys, while the technician forgot to measure them today, are still large. Previously they have never been large enough to make her entire abdomen in the above-average range but today her abdomen was measuring large. But ALL of her was measuring large: She came in at 7lbs. 14oz.! The doctor is thinking this measurement may not be entirely accurate because only less than four weeks ago she was in the 51st percentile and today she had jumped to the 77th percentile! While not impossible, it is not likely that a baby who has always measured very average in size to suddenly measure well above average in size.

The sonographer spent a lot of time with the 3D scan today. That was pretty cool. Sylvia continued to be a bit of a stinker, though, and would never show her entire face. What you see below is a closed eye and a nose smushed by a foot. Yes, on the left side of the picture is a foot, and an arm is covering her little lips. (She has run out of room!) And the above picture is an ear, an adorable little ear.

On the whole all looks good. They still have some concerns and as a result they want to continue to see me for sure on a weekly basis for the duration of my pregnancy and I will no longer be visiting my regular OB. But that is all right. And on the issue of when she may arrive-- Well, the doctor said the same thing as my regular OB last week: "It could be any time!"

06 October 2008

Back to Being Pregnant

I woke up early yesterday morning and it was like everything had changed. My body simply gave up on labor. I had had no contractions at all the night before, and I felt more "balanced" than what I had in days. I no longer had this mantra "MUST EXPEL BABY" flowing through my core. I was also physically exhausted and fell back to sleep and didn't wake up until 1:00 p.m.! (Dave was nice enough to let me.)

And so, I feel like I am "just pregnant" again. Of course, there are some added discomforts. Baby is fully descended and that, ummm . . . Well, it is a very unpleasant feeling and makes movement difficult and often very painful. And there are some other unpleasantries that I won't go into, but are all signs that labor and birth are imminent. (Just not right now.)

I will post again tomorrow with the report from the doctor and if we decide to induce.

04 October 2008


I am nothing but agitated. No labor. No baby. Just a bunch of pre-labor (and labor) symptoms. The last several days have been miserable. My body is "primed" and ready-- beginning to dilate, probably effaced completely by now, lost mucus plug, baby "locked" in place, etc. I am kept awake at night by contractions that come and go, are strong then faint. And my hormones are certainly responding with unbelievable highs (and mostly lows). I truly feel physically and emotionally miserable. It is hard for a left-brained, rational person like myself to realize how "primitive" of a condition I am in right now. It is as if my entire body is screaming only one thing: MUST EXPEL BABY!

And yet, here I am . . . Still pregnant. Now, I realize this is only 37 weeks, but when my body is in this pre-labor state it may as well be 41.

The bit of "good" news is that while on our hospital tour this morning we ran into one of my doctors from the specialists' office (the doctors who will be delivering our baby). After talking with him for a spell and mentioning that my next appointment is Tuesday morning he pretty much said that they would agree to induce at that point. When my body is totally ready but for some reason labor is simply not starting, they will want to try and "jump start" the process.

[Also interesting: This doctor was hopeful that we would deliver this weekend, because he is the high-risk doctor on call all weekend and then was disappointed that he has Tuesday off and won't see me for my office visit. But then did mention that he was back at the hospital Tuesday night. Ahhh . . . These are the advantages of having a father-in-law in the peds unit and a husband who has been known by many of these doctors for over twenty years. In fact, this particular doctor remembers being at Dave's folks' house and meeting Dave when he was about eleven.]

And so, I eventually hope to tell you that our daughter is here, but it looks like it will be at least a few more days (at least) before this happens.

03 October 2008

Last Vestiges of Me

I took this picture as a sort of "last remembrance" of me before motherhood. (And it was quite a challenge to get a shot that didn't show any real evidence of my very pregnant body!) I took it to remind myself of who I am, who I have been, and to anticipate who I will become. While I am eager to embrace being a Mom, I also am fully aware that a part of me will be permanently gone, forever changed, and will never return. This is a huge passage in life, similar to marriage, and while the changes will be grand and shape and model me in new and wonderful ways, there are things that I will leave behind. I will miss some of the old me, but I eagerly await the new me that will come from experiencing the joys, challenges, frustrations and miracles of being a mother.

[And on that waiting to be a mother note, Sylvia has not yet designated a birthday, but after talking with the nurse yesterday on the phone giving her the updates of the last 24 hours, she "assured" me that it should be within a day or two. We'll see. I remain skeptically hopeful.]

01 October 2008

Potentially Exciting News!

I had my doctor's visit with my regular OB today . . .

But first, let me back up a bit. Last Thursday morning (the day before my sister's wedding) I experienced pretty strong contractions about every ten minutes for a little over an hour. I sat on the bed and prayed: "Yes, I want her to come, but not today! Please, God, not today. I need to be at that wedding!" Fortunately, everything stopped and I made it to the wedding with no problem.

Today I had my first cervical check and the doctor's face lit right up. I am already 70% effaced and 1.5-2 cm dilated! She said last Thursday was a false labor and that I should count myself very lucky that everything did stop because it could have kept going. Anyway, while she can make no guarantees of anything, she suspects that I could "go" any day now-- and certainly does not think that I will reach my due date. (But with a first pregnancy, especially, it is very hard to make a guess.)

So . . . Next Tuesday I see the specialist and I am quite confident that if they don't suggest it, I can request being induced as my cervix is ripe and my husband will be in town that week (he won't the week following).

But I am so ready to have this baby that I am doing all kinds of "old wive's tales" to try and induce labor: I had a pedicure earlier today, just finished eating the "labor-inducing salad" that my cousin handed me the recipe for at the wedding, am going to vacuum the entire house tonight and drink hot tea before I go to bed. While there are MANY more things I could try, I figure this is a pretty good start!

We will keep you all posted!