.:Remembering your first days, Miss Sawyer:.

{copied and shared here from my online journal}

I haven’t looked at the last time I updated this LJ thing, I’m guessing it was greater than 3 years ago. So much has happened since then, but of it all, the memories I am compelled to hold on to, are those of the last three weeks. Three weeks ago today, I gave birth to a little girl, Sawyer Lee Bowers. The last four years of marriage have shown Seth and I an MS diagnosis, additions to our home, and a wealth of experiences that I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share with him. But so far, of everything that Seth and I have done and been through together, the single greatest is our baby girl. She is perfection and it’s still surreal to me every time I look at the creases in her hands, or her perfect little ears that something so amazing came from us, and that we get to spend our lives loving her, and sharing her life’s experiences.

The last three weeks have been full of first memories that have brought so much joy to my life and my heart, that it pains me to think that they could leave my memory at some point, so at the risk of boring those who choose to read – I chose to document them here for safe keeping, for reference, and so my child can at some point read about what she’s brought to my life in just the three short weeks she’s been here with us…..

Dear Sawyer,

As I sit here typing this, even now my eyes well up with tears as I think about you, as you sleep on the couch right next to me. Eyes gently closed, breathing in, breathing out. The sight and slight sound of which are an absolute miracle to me. I first learned that you as a little life were growing, reliant on me, on March 4th , 2010. Your daddy and I spent our Valentine’s day by celebrating a day early (February 13th). We had sushi at The Naked Fish, went to the Ballet (which we left early), had a glass of wine at Bambara and spent the night at The Hotel Monaco. This entire evening was the idea of your daddy, whom you will learn is one of the most thoughtful and loving men you will ever have the opportunity to know. He has the biggest heart, one of the smartest heads, and the most love to give of anyone that I’ve had the privilege to know. This may be a “TMI” type situation, but this was the night that you came to be – my due date, the date you were to come into this world was to be November 13th, 2010.

Since your daddy was diagnosed with MS on December 13th, 2006 and the MRI that diagnosed him showed 13 lesions, we’ve since had a Walk MS team, raising over $30,000 thus far to help fund research that we hope will one day be the cure for this disease. Our Walk MS team was very appropriately named “The Lucky 13’s”, because we were determined to take this diagnosis and do all we could with it. We were going to change our luck and the idea that this is such an “unlucky” number. So as you can imagine, you being conceived and due on the 13th, was just one more reason for your daddy and i to believe that we really are two of the luckiest people we know.

Just a couple of weeks after you were conceived, I was so tired that I thought something was seriously wrong. I took a pregnancy test and it was negative, so I didn’t think the possibility of a baby was the cause. I was concerned enough that I went to see JoAnn Haeffele, (Laura’s mom) on March 3rd, 2010. She had me do another urine test at her office to check for pregnancy. Her test was supposed to be more accurate than my “at-home) test, detecting pregnancy within 6 days of conception (you would have been about 2 weeks in the works at this point. This test was also negative. In my mind, there was no way that I was pregnant. So she sent me to the lab next door to have blood drawn. We were going to check to see if I was anemic, possibly having a thyroid issue, or maybe I had mono. I had my blood drawn and JoAnne told me to expect my test results within about a week. To my surprise, she called me around 4pm the next day, March 4th. I was at work and missed her call on my cell phone, but called her back immediately thinking that such quick test results were indicative of imminent danger, that something was severely wrong. To my surprise, Joanne told me that I had previously had mono (something I didn’t know prior to this), and that my iron levels were fine, but the most obvious explanation for exhaustion was…..that I was pregnant. I was shocked and didn’t quite believe it yet, but I couldn’t wait to tell your daddy. I picked up sushi for dinner and came home. As we were unpacking our sushi to eat, I told daddy that I’d gotten a call from JoAnne and that she had my test results. When I told him the news he was also surprised and neither of us knew exactly what to expect. We had gotten pregnant back in September 2009, and that little baby was not meant to be for us, and left mommy’s body on November 6th 2009. I know now, that maybe that little one was just prepping my body for the beginning stages of pregnancy, prepping my mind for the realization that I really did want to experience pregnancy, and prepping my heart as I realized that there was a place in there that was waiting to be filled. I had no idea that it would be so soon, or that I could love so much, but I knew as soon as I found out I was pregnant with you that I would do anything for you. All I wanted was to keep you warm, safe, and make sure that you had all the love in the world. Several weeks after learning that you were to be, I started bleeding, and he sadness that I might lose you too was slowing breaking my heart. I went back to JoAnne who did another blood test to make sure that my Hcg levels were rising as they should as you grew. Two days later she called me (on a Saturday) and told me that my level had gone from 55 at first blood draw, to over 7000, a HUGE indication that you were growing and could have been twins!! I was not prepared for that, but had a feeling that there was just one in there. I was so relieved to hear that things looked okay, and a few days later, the bleeding stopped. My fear and sadness turned to excitement once again

My pregnancy with you was what most would consider “easy”. I was really tired for the first three months, even took my lunch break at work to take a nap in our “whatever room”. Other than that, it was pretty easy. No morning sickness, just slight heartburn/sour tummy at night around 7 pm, which could easily be avoided if I managed to squeeze dinner in. While daddy was frantically working on the house (we added on the family room and our bedroom), I was usually asleep by 6:30 or 7 every night those first few months. You were taking a lot of my energy, but I didn’t complain – am still not complaining. I would take the tiredness, morning sickness, just about anything as long as it meant you were doing fine in there.

At 10 weeks, daddy and I went to the doctor for an ultrasound. We saw your little heart beating, and mine absolutely skipped a beat as I stared at the screen in amazement. I had known it for almost two months, but at that moment, I saw your life, your beating heart, and you stole mine.

Because we didn’t know your sex til a little later in my pregnancy, and we didn’t like calling you “it”, your Aunt Jenn suggested that we call you “Pickle”. This is so fitting because mommy has always loved pickles, and at that point you were about the size of a little pickle. You are six weeks old to the day as I type this entry, and many of our friends and family still call you “Pickle”.

At 18 weeks, daddy and I went to Dr. Barton’s office for another big appointment. It was June 9th (9’s become another prominent number in our lives!). Today was to be the day we would find out if you were a girl, or a boy and they also check to make sure that a few other things look good and healthy. We saw the chambers in your heart, still beating strong. The notches that are the vertebrae that are a part of your spine. Finally, the ultrasound tech asked if we wanted to know your sex. I excitedly replied, “Yes”, and after rolling her wand around in the jelly on my tummy some more, she said “It looks like you’re having a girl”. I was ecstatic! Daddy knew it all along. He said from the beginning that you were a girl, guess he knew that his “daddy’s girl” was on her way. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. At this time, you are the only girl on both sides of our families. You have boy cousins Andrew, Tyson, and Lucas on daddy’s side, and your cousins Gage and Tate on my side of the family couldn’t be more thrilled that they were getting a little girl “Pickle”.

Throughout my entire pregnancy, I would get updates from babycenter.com. An online site that would send weekly updates about what was going on with your development and pregnancy expectations throughout this journey. One of the updates said to expect to feel you move or kick between weeks 18 and 22. Despite me resting my hands or rubbing my belly frequently from the day i knew you were in there, I first felt what was probably a “kick” on July 9th (there’s a 9 again!). I was at work, sitting at my desk working. I had my ipod in and was incredibly focused on what i was doing. I am embarassed to admit that I was slouching in my chair, and suddenly, I felt a very distinctive push from the inside of my belly just above and to the right of my belly button. From that day on, I would feel little pushes many times throughout the days. As you grew and things got a little more crammed in my tummy, your kicks turned to stretches and what I can only imagine were somersaults – at least that is what I imagined you doing as I would see my entire belly ripple. You got very active around 2:00 in the afternoon, and then around 11:00 p.m. when I was trying to go to sleep. Its such an indescribable feeling to see and feel your child moving inside of you. Someday I hope that you can experience the same thing (it’s weird to even think about me having grandbabies right now!). But carrying life inside of you is truly amazing, and I’m so grateful that I was able to share that with you.

On September 1st, we went back for another ultrasound. At the appointment when we found out that you were a little girl, there were two things that the ultrasound tech didn’t see, which could have been an indication that something was wrong. The first was a 3 vessel cord, which can either mean that there may be chromosomal abnormalities (with your heart, lungs, kidneys…). When Dr. Barton told me in a previous appointment that the tech wasn’t able to see three vessels, I didn’t think much of it. He didn’t seem worried about it, but my curiosity got the best of me and I went back to work and googled what that could mean. When I read that it could mean something was wrong, I was terrified. I started crying and wasn’t sure what to do. I shared my concern with your daddy, and a couple other people. Shortly after, although I still wanted the next ultrasound to make sure, but while I knew it was a possibility that you only had a two vessel cord, I had a feeling, maybe mother’s intuition that everything would be okay. Daddy and Aunt Jen came to the ultrasound on September 1st, and the tech was able to confirm what we had hoped. Your cord had three vessels, and you were healthy. She was also able to get a more accurate view of your distal spine and confirm that there was nothing to be concerned about with that as well. I was thrilled to have medical confirmation of what I already knew…that you were healthy, and hopefully happy growing in my tummy.

On September 9th (here’s another 9), your daddy and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we decided it would be fun to go to Fetal Fotos and try to catch a glimpse of what our baby girl looked like. For a couple of moments, you had your eyes open and were blinking. I know it’s dark in there, so I wasn’t even sure that this was “normal”. The tech assured us that it was, and we continued to stare at amazement at your little face, your hands – which were always right up by your face, which is something that you still do even to this day. You were cooperative for a little while, but after about 5 minutes of the technician there rolling the wand over you, you were done with the photoshoot, and kept turning your pretty face into the wall of my uterus. We’d gotten a glimpse of you, some photos, and even a dvd of images, and that was all we were going to get. The photos we received are hanging on our refrigerator even as I type this, and as soon as I got a good look at your face just after you were delivered, I couldn’t believe the resemblance. You’re absolutely beautiful.

October 9th is your daddy’s birthday (and another 9!). Other than turning 37, I don’t have anything specifically noteworthy that we did on that day, but little did we know, exactly a month after his birthday, and exactly two months after our anniversary and the day we got our first glimpse of you, you would come into our lives.

The last month of pregnancy I went to Dr. Barton’s office every week for checkups. By my second weekly appointment, I was starting to dilate and efface, which I thought meant you would be here just a few days from then, but the progression was slow. Beginning with my weekly appointments, my blood pressure was high each time, which was slightly concerning but Dr. Barton didn’t feel you or I were in danger, so we resolved that I would just be conscious of headaches or my heart racing as a means of monitoring it. At my 3rd weekly appointment, we talked about at my next appointment having my membranes stripped, which could potentially start the process of labor. The week prior I was dilated to a 2 and effaced about 80%. Having had several storms come and go, and more frequent contractions due to the barometric pressure changes, I thought for sure I would have progressed by my fourth weekly appointment on Monday, November 8th. To my surprise, there had been little to no change from the week prior. My blood pressure was even higer than weeks past, and Dr. Barton was worried that I might be developing toxemia, so instead of stripping my membranes, he sent me for blood work and told me to come back the following Monday which would have been November 15th (two days AFTER you were due!). He said that I should go home and relax for the afternoon and that they would let me know if the blood work showed anything indicating toxemia. If there was any problem, they would call me back and have me come in to get induced. I got the call an hour or so later from Dr. Barton. Everything looked okay. My next appointment was scheduled for Monday, November 15th. Two days AFTER you were due. I was sure that I was going to go through another week tired, uncomfortable and awaiting your debut.

This same night, Daddy had a meeting with some people he was doing some web design work for. I was home relaxing on the couch, watching shows and dozing off from time to time. When daddy came home, he was still working, but sitting on the couch with me as he did. I fell asleep yet again around 9:30. This happened quite frequently and i would usually wake up a short while later to go into bed or daddy would wake me up to go to bed when he too was ready. I had no idea when I dozed off that this would be the last “cat nap” I would have before you came into our lives. Around 10:00 p.m. I sat up on the couch, having waken up due to a “wet” sensation and I utter the words that meant it was time. “I think my water just broke!” Daddy kind of laughed and asked if I was sure, I told him that either my water just broker or I had wet my pants. I went to the bathroom to check, and sure enough – it was time to go to the hospital.

We waited for Uncle James to come to the house and get Tess and Ella, and I packed up a few additional items that I wanted for my hospital bag. We got to the hospital around 11:30pm. After uttering into a speaker that we thought we were ready to have a baby, the nurse’s station buzzed us into the Labor & Delivery unit. They took us back to what would be our delivery room and sent in a l&d nurse who was to check me to make sure that my water had in fact broken. If not, we would probably be sent home. After confirming what we already knew, I was hooked up to an IV and monitor to check my contractions and your heartbeat. I wasn’t contracting and was still only dilated to a 2. Due to the risk of infection, Dr. Barton requested that the nurse start administering petocin, a drug that should help speed the process of contracting and dilation. As the petocin continued to drip into the IV and the vein in my arm, the contractions began to intensify and become more frequent. They were unlike anything I’ve ever felt and after a short while, I decided with the help and encouragement of your dad, Aunt Jenn, and Grandma Freed that it was time for me to get an epidural. Everyone stayed in the room as the antisthesiologist did his work. When the epidural was done, and the numbing agent dripping, I soon got relief from the contractions and my labor was able to progress without any discomfort whatsoever. Within a couple of hours, I had dilated from a 2 to an 8 – excellent and very quick progression! The nurse told me she thought it would be another hour or so until we were ready to start pushing. Twenty minutes later, I was dilated ten centimeters, and the work to bring you into this world would begin.

At 4:00 a.m., with your Daddy, Aunt Jenn, Grandma Freed, the labor nurse, Dr. Barton and a medical student all in the room, I started pushing at the direction of our nurse through the first of five contractions that delivered you out of my womb, and into our lives. The hour of your beautiful existence would begin at 4:13 a.m., on Tuesday November 9th, 2010. You were 6 pounds, 5 ounces and 20 inches long.

As soon as I saw you my eyes flooded with tears. You were still a little grey, and had gunk all over you, but you were the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Doctor Barton placed you on my tummy, and daddy was able to cut the cord that had sustained your life for the last 10 months. Only moments later you were whisked away to be measured, weighed, and given a shot of vitamin K. While doctor Barton worked to stitch me up, I laid there crying tears of absolute joy, while listening to you from across the room as you cried for some sense of familiarity. In just a few short minutes, you were done being tended to, and the nurse came and placed you inside my hospital gown on my chest. Your skin now touching mine, the screams and crying that were taking so much from your little lungs suddenly became silence as you laid with mommy for the first time. It was a moment of pure magic, that I will never forget and wish I could put into words the magnitude of. My baby was here, and in that moment, I was swallowed up by a love I have never before experienced, and nothing else mattered.

The hours, days, weeks, and months to come bring your “firsts”. Your first bath, which daddy gave you in the afternoon the day you were born. Your first poop (yes, I went there), your first nights sleep,  first time meeting friends and family. You have Jaundice, so you are whisked away several times a day while we’re in the hospital for tests to monitor the levels and check other things like body temperature, blood sugar levels, and a slew of other tests that all came back perfectly healthy. We meet your pediatrician, Dr. John Wall for the first time. He checks in on you each day to make sure all is well. You meet family members and friends for the first time. Grandma and Grandpa Freed came back, so did Aunt Jenn, Uncle James, Uncle Joe and Aunt Chancie. Because they are under 14, you weren’t able to meet your cousins Gage and Tate until after we came home from the hospital. Grandma Bowers also came to visit, Auntie Laura H., Stephen Kiger and Auntie Brittney, Auntie Jen, Auntie Summer, and Auntie Jules. Your Auntie’s aren’t of direct relation, but they are some of mommy’s best friends, and are so excited that you are here! We also saw Daddy’s friend Matt. There are SO many people who want to meet you! Everyone agreed that you are such a beautiful baby!

When we left the hospital, your jaundice levels had gone from 12 to 16 and you were down to 5lbs 12 oz., which was almost enough loss of weight for Dr. Wall to be concerned. My milk hadn’t come in yet, and he thought as soon as it did that it would help push the jaundice out, and you would start gaining weight quickly. So we left the hospital on Thursday, November 11th to bring you home. I was so excited to get you home, introduce you to Tess and Ella, and settle in as a family. I can’t tell you how surreal it is, leaving the house one day and coming home another with you in our arms. We worked so hard to get the entire house ready for you, and we were elated to get you home to surroundings that would soon become familiar to you.

On November 12th, your Aunt Jessica came over to take some photos of you. She is an amazing photographer and some of the pictures she took are absolutely stunning. You are such a beautiful baby! The first time I saw them I literally cried. Both because you had already changed so much since they were taken, but also because the captured you and your only days-old mannerisms so perfectly. You were so young, but are already such an individual. You are absolutely perfect. 🙂

That same day, we also went back to Cottonwood Pediatrics to have your jaundice levels checked again. Dr. Wall wasn’t in so we saw Dr. Wirkus. He sent us back to IMC to have another billirubin test and you were such a trooper when they lance your little heel to draw some blood. The results come back and your level is still 16, so Dr. Wirkus advises that we may need to supplement you with formula to try to get the jaundice moving out of your system. Within an hour, my milk came in and i was able to begin feeding you without supplementing formula with plans to go back to the pediatrician’s on Tuesday for a checkup exactly a week after you were born. We spent that weekend at home as I was still very sore and recovering from giving birth, nonetheless Daddy and I are loving every moment of this new adventure with you.

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