Birth Story

Early Labor
On March 10, 2012, I woke up to a huge thunderstorm. Although it rains a lot in Hawaii, thunderstorms are pretty rare. I happen to love it when it storms here. It reminds me of being back in Texas.  This storm was no joke, though. I turned on the news to learn that record-breaking hail was falling on the windward side of the island. It pretty much NEVER hails in Hawaii.
The storm wasn’t as bad on this side of the island (the south side) so I drove to class as usual. I planned on going to the gym right after, but between all the excitement from the storm and the slight crampiness I was feeling I decided to skip it. I went in for a quick orthodontist appointment where one of the girls that works there asked me how many more months I had left of pregnancy. Months?? I told her I was due on Sunday! I don’t blame her, though. My belly stayed relatively small and even my doctor predicted I’d have a tiny baby (which… I didn’t!). By this time I was starting to get semi-regular cramping so I downloaded the “contraction timer” application on my phone just in case. They weren’t very painful and they came about every 10 minutes and lasted about 30-60 seconds. I’ve heard of this sort of thing happening weeks before delivery so I didn’t get my hopes up that I might be in early labor.
By dinner time my cramping was getting more painful and regular.The cramping started coming about every 2.5-4 minutes (with some a bit longer) and hurt quite a bit. D kept telling me we should go to the hospital, and I kept saying we should wait a little bit longer. The cramps didn’t hurt like I thought labor contractions should hurt and people were always telling me how common it is for first-time moms to drive to the hospital thinking they are in labor only to be sent away. It wasn’t long before I caved. I didn’t want to have a baby in the car on the way to the hospital so I decided that we should go in “just in case.”
When we walked into the hospital D asked me if I wanted a wheelchair and I said, “No, I’m fine… I don’t want to make a scene.” Hahaha. We walked up to the labor and delivery center and I told the nurse that I had been having regular cramping that I thought might be contractions. She looked at me skeptically, and like so many other people she explained to me that many first-time mothers think they’re in labor when they’re not. She told me that if I was having real contractions I wouldn’t be standing at the counter talking to her with a smile on my face. I was getting frustrated and asked, “Umm… so do you want me to go home?” And she said that they would check me just in case but that I probably just experiencing false labor.
Active Labor
I was taken to the NST room and was hooked up to the monitors while I waited for the doctor. I have to admit, I was a bit discouraged by the nurse and figured I would be sent home and would have to deal with false or early labor for a few days. As soon as she came in she checked my cervix. “Amazing…” she said, “you’re like five or six centimeters! I never would have been able to tell from looking at you.” This kind of surprised me. Was I supposed to be in more pain or something? Yes, the contractions hurt but they were nowhere near unbearable. Definitely not even close to other levels of pain I have experienced. I was admitted into the hospital and taken to my delivery room at about 11:00pm. When I arrived, the nurses asked if I would like to get my epidural started, but I decided to wait. I didn’t want my labor to slow down and the pain I was experiencing really wasn’t all that bad.
At about 1:00am I was 7cm, almost done with active labor and quickly approaching transition. The doctor decided to break my water. I was exhausted from being up so late and I didn’t want it to get “too late” for me to have an epidural, so I decided it was time. I’m glad I got it, too. The pain relief was immediate and I was finally able to rest a bit. I expected it to be a lot different. I was stoked that I could still move my legs and sit up in bed. I still had trouble sleeping though. At about 2am the nurse came in and checked my cervix again. I was almost at 10 with what she called “just a lip” left.
Shortly after, the doctor came in and asked if I had the urge to push. I wasn’t quite sure whether or not I did so we tried anyway. We waited for a contraction to come and I tried. I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing. No biggie. The doctor decided to sit me up and “let gravity” work for a bit before I tried pushing again. So the doctor let me sit up for a couple of hours and over the course of time I started to realize what he meant by the “urge to push.” I started to feel my contractions again- not as pain, but as a crazy pressure down there. I could feel the baby’s head pressing and I knew she was ready to come out. At about 4:20am the doctor came in and I tried pushing again. After the first contraction and push, the nurses said they could see the baby’s head starting to come out of my vagina. “She has lots of hair!” they exclaimed. There was a slight problem, though. The doctor discovered that the baby had pooped in her placenta so he called the NICU team to the room. I was a bit worried, but that seriously gave me the strength and energy to push her out as fast as I could. The next contraction took a long time to come, but when it did I was able to push the top part of her head out. With the next contraction I got a little bit more. The nurse told me to look down and I could see the top of her beautiful little face. I knew I only needed one more contraction and she’d be here. When it finally came I pushed as hard as I could and the doc pulled her out of me. 4:40am. I heard her little whimper and then cry and I really can’t explain the emotions I felt. It was surreal.
In my birth plan I wanted to have her placed straight on my chest, but because of the meconium she had to immediately be taken under the lights where the NICU team could inspect her. All I could see was her little hands and feet flailing around. I wanted to hold her and comfort her little cries so badly.
After what seemed like forever, the NICU team decided she was fine and that there were no complications from the meconium. She was washed off and placed on my chest for skin-to-skin contact. I cannot find the words to write what I felt in that moment. All I can say is that all the clichés are true. I finally had my baby girl.
Well, it turns out my baby girl likes to poop. I’m not sure how long she was laying on me before she let another one out right on top of me, as if to say “welcome to motherhood!” I didn’t mind one bit, though. All I could feel was pure bliss.  The nurses cleaned up the baby and me and got us ready to be transferred to the mother-baby unit. They took the baby’s measurements- 7lbs 10oz and 20in long. She weighed a lot more than we had expected with my belly staying comparatively small. I had a small tear in the wall of my vagina so the doctor gave me 2 little stitches. Other than that, I felt pretty good. The only thing I really had to complain about was my swelling. I was dehydrated when admitted to the hospital and had to be pumped with like 4 bags of fluid. You can definitely tell from the pictures. My face, my hands, and especially my feet felt like they had doubled in size.
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better labor and delivery. 5 and ½ hours after being admitted to the hospital my healthy baby girl was in my arms. After watching so many episodes of “A Baby Story” and “Special Delivery” I was convinced that I would have some horrifying experience. And so many people told me that if I get an epidural it will take forever to push and the baby will be in danger and I might have to get a C-Section and blah blah blah. I only pushed for 20 minutes. Maybe even a little less. It just all happened so fast, and now she’s here. I can’t help but feel so blessed.
I feel like I still have so much more to write about, but as you can imagine I don’t have much time at the moment. I’ll pick up where I left off (in the mother-baby unit) soon…

UPDATE: Continued Here

(Still) Running for Two

I had a feeling during my 3 mile “run” today that it might be one of my last during this pregnancy, seeing as my due date is only 3 days away. I wanted to somehow document a run for Eva so that she has some sort of proof when I tell her that I ran throughout my entire pregnancy. Because I’m at a semi-new gym, there was nobody I felt comfortable asking to snap a pic for me, especially since I usually get worried looks from fellow patrons. I think they still believe the old school misconception that women can’t jog (or even exercise) while pregnant. I tried to take a few pics of myself but they turned out really blurry with all the bouncing:
I gave up and decided to take some video, which is also pretty shaky. As you can see, my pace has decreased to about 5.5mph, making it about a 32 minute 3-mile run. Before pregnancy I could run 3 miles in just under 21 minutes, so it’s a huuuuge decrease. I think it’s because I was so scared to run my entire first trimester. Still, I’ve been able to keep my 3-mile run to about 30 minutes throughout most of this pregnancy (jogging at about 6.0 mph), but I’ve been extremely exhausted and achy these last few weeks and I’ve really had to cut back. Still, I’m happy just to make it through the 3 miles despite being so slow. I’m so proud of myself for keeping with it. I wonder how long it will take for me to get back under 21.

39 Weeks

Size of baby: 19-22 inches, about 7lbs (Watermelon)
Symptoms: Lots of braxton hicks contractions, but I feel like there were more last week than this week. I still have back and rib pain. I’m feeling a bit swollen (although I can still wear my rings just fine) and I also feel like my bely has gotten a lot bigger in the last week.
Fetal Movement: The baby has shifted again. Now she kicks me right under my left ribs instead of the right side of my belly. She moves more slowly and more slowly. It’s crazy how I can now make out feet and knees and elbows when she pushes them against my belly. Her feet are so big, I can’t wait to give them kisses.
Sleep: What’s that?
Aversions: Oh Emm Gee… The chick behind me in class yesterday was eating curry and I wanted to barf. I love curry, but I only like the smell when I’m the one eating it, which is especially true when I’m 9 months pregnant.
Belly Button: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have an outie! Does that mean the bun in the oven is ready? I think so.
What I Look Forward To: Again… Having this baby! I’m getting so impatient. I’m hoping I won’t have a pregnancy update next week but I’m almost certain that I will. Maybe that’s okay because I still have quite a bit to do. Also… MY MOMMY GETS HERE SATURDAY! YEAAAY!
To-Do List: pack the hospital bag, finish the labor playlist, install the car seat, and finish the nursery

P.S. – This is my 100th blog post! Woohoo!

The Ranch

In honor of Texas Independence Day, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk a little about my favorite corner of Texas… my family’s ranch. My Daddy could tell you many more details, but I’ll share what I know.

On the southernmost tip of Texas, just before the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico, lies Palmito Ranch.

My family has witnessed a lot of Texas history on that ranch. It was first acquired by my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Praxedes Orive, around the time that that part of Texas was switching hands from Spain to Mexico in the early 1800’s. (I’m not sure exactly when and although I think I remember my dad telling me why/how, I don’t remember that either).

My great-great-great-grandfather, Antenogenes Orive, was born on the ranch in 1845, the year Texas became a state in the Union. He used the ranch to grow cotton, and at some point during the Civil War the ranch was one of the most productive cotton producers in the United States. Someone once told me that this was because we were smuggling extra cotton from the ranch across the river in Mexico, but Mamo says she doesn’t think this is true. I know the ranch’s location by the river mouth did allow for convenient transport to the rest of the United States.
In May of 1865, the last battle of the Civil War was fought on my family’s ranch. It is known as the Battle of Palmito Ranch, and you can read more about it here. When I was little I was afraid that I’d see a Civil War ghost or something spooky but I never did.
Below is a picture the house Atenogenes and his wife Cenobia Hinojosa Orive lived in. They had 16 babies here – 14 survived. The girls would sit on the porch in the afternoons and try to stay out of the sun. Atenogenes Orive, Jr., my great-great-grandfather, also lived there. The house is no longer there. (Information courtesty of my distant cousin, Tía Cookie)
My great-grandmother, Carlota Orive, was also raised on Palmito Ranch. By that time, the ranch had been divided between all of the Orive children. When she grew up and got married, her husband, Damaso Feliciano (D.F.) Lerma, began buying pieces of the divided ranch from Carlota’s relatives. Mamo (my grandmother who ended up marrying D.F. and Carlota’s son) says they ended up acquiring about 1500 acres of the ranch, which is what our family has today.
My grandfather, pictured below, was the next person to take care of the ranch.

Mamo & my grandpa came up with this brand for the cattle. Another name for the ranch is “Circle L” ranch. (“L” is for Lerma, circle is for the shape of the ranch.)

Now, my Daddy takes care of the ranch.

And finally, here are some pictures of me growing up at the ranch. According to my mom, I was almost born there. When she went into labor with me, my dad was at work in town which is about 20-30 minutes away. She had to wait for him to come get her and had me shortly after arriving at the hospital.
My great-grandmother, Carlota Orive, and I with the Rio Grande in the background.

Me, Steph, and baby D.J.

We had so much fun at the ranch when we were kids. We would run around everywhere, play hide-and-seek, ride horses, and check out all the other animals. It’s crazy to think that my great-great-great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, great-grandmother, grandfather, and father (along with my aunties, uncles, etc.) all probably did the same things in the same exact place. I’m a little bummed that Eva won’t be raised around the ranch like we all were (until she’s about 10), but I hope she still ends up appreciating it the way I do. It’s my “Tara.” ♥