Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wish I had more time to write more coherently.

1. Breastfeeding is a challenge. As soon as I think I have it figured out, something changes. I'm still waiting for it to get easy.

2. Some nights, little man will fall asleep nursing, I'll put him in his bassinet, and he'll sleep for 2ish hours. Other nights, he wants nothing to do with the bassinet and will only sleep in my arms, and then he'll sleep for 4ish hours. What gives? I'm not really all that comfortable with co-sleeping in that way, and I don't get good rest when he's in my bed. Some nights maybe he just needs mommy more than others?

3. I would be just about completely healed from my c-section by now, except that, like an idiot, I decided to get the stroller out and go for a walk Saturday morning. Carrying the heavy ass stroller up our porch steps totally effed up the right side of my abdomen, which is now very swollen, and I have bruises all over. I'm a bit afraid of what my gyno will say at my postpartum checkup today.

4. I can't believe my little man is 2 weeks old today. His cord fell off last night. I feel like he has already started changing so much! He goes to the ped tomorrow and will hopefully be back at his birth weight. If not, I'm afraid they will give me a speech about supplementing formula, which I am not at all interested in doing. (AT. ALL.)

5. We got the ergo out and played with it this morning. Once it cools off tonight I hope to go for another walk with that instead of the stroller.

6. I think someone is going to have to literally push me out the door to get me to leave the house. I have been pumping and have plenty now to leave him with my husband for a few hours. But I'm afraid to go.

7. Pumping mystifies me. I have worked up to 3x a day (4x on a good day) and I consistently get about 1.5-2 ounces a day. I'm happy with that. But it's completely unpredictable when I'll get a good amount and when I'll be eeking it out drop by drop.

8. I have watched more tv in the past week than the rest of my life put together. Right now I'm enjoying the show New Girl.

9. I am much better, emotionally, than I have been. The first few days home from the hospital were really, really rough. Everything felt so raw. Sometimes I could hardly look at him because his little face just broke my heart. Things feel better now.

10. The hardest part, by far, of parenting (for me) is learning to silence the voices around you and listen to your gut about what is right for your child. It's difficult when you're new at this and everyone you go to for advice (La Leche League, the pediatrician, the Lactation Consultant, your friends, the internet) contradicts one another. I have stopped going to people for advice for a while and I'm just trying to make my own decisions (one mistake at a time).

11. Breastfeeding is a lot easier with a smart phone. I am reading all of your posts, but it's hard to comment one-handed, on a mobile device, at 3 am.

12. Sometimes I ache to be pregnant with him again. Sometimes I really miss having him all to myself. When he hiccups, I think about how they felt inside of me. But on the other hand, I spend far less time in the restroom and I can finally (!!!) sleep on my stomach again! When I miss being pregnant, I just tell myself I can get pregnant again, which I hope is true.

More later, for now, here's a photo of my sweet little boy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some observations - 6 days post partum

1. I don't think I got the tone right in the past few posts. There were a lot of hard things about the hospital stay, but mainly it was joyous. Seeing my husband hold his son for the first time. Watching my dad meet his first grandchild. Kissing Alexander's feet. I'm sorry I focused so much on the negative! Maybe I need to pick better times to write.

2. Here is how I feel about parenting for the first 6 days. It's like you won a billion dollars in the lottery. All of your dreams have come true! You feel ecstatic and on top of the world. Everyone is happy for you. The only catch is that you have to carry the one billion dollars, in cash, on you at all times, and let's just say that you live in the inner city, in a high crime area, and let's also say that you have to wear a sign that flashes neon that says "I have a billion dollars cash on my person." It's the most incredible feeling, but it also leaves you feeling very vulnerable. Or maybe that's just the hormones?

3. Speaking of hormones, we have now identified two separate entities: Lulu and "Mona", as in Hormonal Mona. I warn my husband when Mona is coming out. When this is the case, you can find me staring into the baby's face, weeping about the fact that he will eventually grow up and stop being so small. My heart hurts preemptively that he'll be a teenager some day and think I'm lame. When I am Mona, I am also just overwhelmed with joy and can cry for 15 minutes about his lips.

4. Becoming a mom is amazing. Equally great is watching your husband become a father. I've never seen so much tenderness in his face. I have fallen in love with him all over again. It helps that he is especially supportive and loving - just an incredible man to begin with.

5. Unfortunately, today my husband was diagnosed with diabetes. He's 32 years old. I have refused to google this and read all of the horrible things that go along with it. My heart hurts about it and I can't really face it with a 6 day old baby.

6. It occurs to me several times a day that my son is perfect. This may not exactly be a unique feeling among new parents, but it sure feels good.

7. Alex was born at 6 lb 4 oz, left the hospital on Saturday at 5 lb 7 oz, and today (Monday) is 5 lb 12 oz. Five ounces gained in two days! Yay breastfeeding.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The rest of the hospital stay.

So, where did we leave off? The first trip to the bathroom was terrible. But the day after the section, I woke up and ate breakfast and things turned around. The next trips weren't bad. I got my catheter out, got unhooked from the IV. My husband showered me!! Then, I put on real clothes instead of a hospital gown and I really started feeling like a person again.

Baby was a bit fussy day and night 2. He didn't want to sleep unless he was being held. This actually provided me some of my favorite moments of the hospital stay. Even though it's totally dangerous, I would be breastfeeding him in my bed and then just snuggle up to him and we'd sleep together. The moments when I woke up (as much as I could, since I never fell totally asleep with his tiny body next to me) and saw him there, smelled him, are some of the best moments of my life. It was like all of my dreams had come true, which I guess they had.

I started having serious cavewoman instincts. Every morning they would take him to the nursery for his pediatrician visit and I ached when he was gone. I almost couldn't let them roll him out of the room, but I did, and even though I was exhausted I would just lie there waiting until he could come back.

I had a bit of a breakdown during night 2 because baby was fussy. He'd get very fussy after eating and in my mind, my breast milk was making him mad. Silly, but it felt true at the time.

Night three was pretty bad. The night nurse said his bilirubin was high, and warned us that he may get discharged a day later than planned. She suggested feeding as often as possible because he hadn't pooped enough, and getting him to eliminate would help get rid of the jaundice.

So we had a marathon night of forcing baby to eat and not sleeping. We were in rough shape in the morning. They took the baby to the nursery and kept asking me "has your milk come in yet?" I thought it was starting to, but honestly didn't know. My breasts felt hard and sore but I had just spent all night forcefully breastfeeding, so I didn't know how to reply. Because both nurses and the pediatrician asked me this, I felt like it was my fault that he was having jaundice problems. I took a shower and I cried my heart out. It was the worst feeling.

Turns out baby did have jaundice, pretty badly too. So while I was discharged on Friday, he was not, and we were allowed to stay at the hospital, in our room, as a "boarder", free of charge. (he was the patient, not me, but I could sleep in the room, etc.)

This was so, so hard for me. I was not allowed to hold him except to feed him, and I was told it was very important for him to stay in the isolette under the lights every possible minute. Since he's such a leisurely eater, this meant I really couldn't breastfeed him or he wouldn't be under the lights enough to make a difference. So I did a combination of quick breastfeeding (just 10 minutes or so), pumping and feeding from a bottle (pumping on the day your milk comes in is terrible, I don't recommend it), and feeding some formula. I wasn't happy about supplementing formula and introducing a bottle already. But, say what you will about formula, it kept him full a lot longer than my breastmilk, which allowed him to stay under the lights more and get better more quickly.

I cried so hard the entire morning he was under the lights - this was all yesterday. My breasts hurt and I was so tired, and it was so hard to see him in the scary machine. It just made him look way more sick than he was. And the little eye mask was very heartbreaking to me.

Also, the hormones were completely overwhelming. I woke up from one nap and it was like I was an infant myself. I just wandered around crying. The machine made everything in the room look blue, and I thought my purple cell phone was my husband's blue cell phone. I cried choking sobs because I thought I had the wrong cell phone. Seriously, if you have not had your baby yet, this is my warning to you: postpartum hormones are NO JOKE.

I haven't really expressed it well in these blog posts, but I want to add that I had excellent care the entire time I was in the hospital. I loved all of my nurses. Everyone was so nice and compassionate. Yesterday, when we couldn't take him home as planned, was very tough for me, but I kept reminding myself that a little jaundice is nothing compared to what we feared we were up against when we found out he was coming early. Rationally, I knew it was all okay, but the hormones and lack of sleep made it hard (this is still something I'm dealing with, even though we came home today).

I hope to write a little bit tomorrow about coming home and my first impressions of parenthood : )

Friday, May 18, 2012

C-section recap

Tuesday, c-section day, Alexander's birthday, was a day I'll never forget for the rest of my life. I guess I got all of my anxiety out of my system in the weekend prior to the birth, because I was very calm and collected as we prepared for the procedure. Only when I got to the OR and prepared to get my spinal did I get nervous, and that was mainly because 1) my husband wasn't allowed to be with me for that part, and 2) it was SO COLD that I was shivering and worrying that I wouldn't be able to stop before they put the needle, you know, in my spine.
Once the spinal was in, things moved very quickly. My legs and feet started going numb, and they placed the catheter. They tilted my bed steeply to the left and my left leg kept falling off while I was powerless to move it back! It was creepy.
You can't feel any pain during the section, but you do feel pressure. I felt pressure on my chest and heard them say "Wow, her heart is racing". I felt them pulling and tugging on things to get to him. Then, I felt a major lightening sensation and I knew he was no longer in my body. It's difficult to explain, but it was cool.
Once he was born, my husband followed him to the table in the corner with the pediatrician. I turned my head and was able to watch him be weighed, measured and cleaned up. A got to cut the cord, not while it was still attached to me, obviously, but he got to trim the part that was attached to him. He said it was a little weird. I was so glad he got to do this! It was one part of a vaginal birth I didn't want him to miss out on.
While I was being sewn up, they brought him over to me and the anesthesiologist helped me hold him for the first time. I can't remember a single thought that really went through my head at that time. Everything was so overwhelming! I do remember joking with the doctor, "That's 6 pounds I don't have to lose!" The anesthesiologist was the first person I told his name to. I liked her a lot, she was way kinder than her job required.
Then we were wheeled into the recovery room where we both held and admired him for a while. I nursed for the first time. He is an excellent nurser - great latch and strong suck, although he's often too tired and falls asleep at the breast. I just remember thinking that I was so lucky he could breathe and I could spend that time with him. 
The rest of the day and night are a bit of a blur. Lots of family held him. It took a few hours to be able to move my legs again. I sat on a pad that slowly accumulated blood, and I didn't enjoy that very much. I was cathed all day and night. I wasn't allowed to eat until I passed gas, and then I was cautioned to take it slow so I mainly ate jello and popsicles. We slept, but fitfully because we thought for sure he'd stop breathing at any moment. One time I stood at the edge of the bed with the help of two nurses.
At about 5am Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I walked to the bathroom. It was horrible. I hadn't eaten since dinner on Monday (except for some jello cups). The pain was bad, I was bleeding down my leg, and there were catheter and IV tubes all around me. My blood pressure dropped severely and it seemed like it took forever to get back to my bed! I share this because this was the worst the entire recovery has been, and I think it was primarily because I lacked strength. If I had eaten a little something I think it would have been far less scary.
I hope to go over the rest of the days in this much detail soon : ) (I wrote this while pumping, yes, I am that awesome already, no, I'm not happy that I'm already pumping, but I'll give you details later).
Much love to all of you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Our little man

Alexander John was born yesterday, 5/15/12 at 9:12 am. He weighed 6lbs, 3oz and was 19 inches long. I promise he's happier than he looks in these photos.

The c-section wasn't super fun but it didn't last long. I will always remember the anesthesiologist lowering the surgical screen so I could see a little, cheesy hand sticking up from out of my body. I heard the doctors say "He's got some meat on his bones!" and knew we didn't need to worry. He needed a bit of oxygen for just a moment right after birth, but other than that he's been perfectly healthy.

I am recovering well and will be going home on Friday. I hope to give you more details soon.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dear Baby

Dear Baby-
There are so many unknowns, and they have been keeping mommy awake at night.

Will you be healthy? What will you look like? How small will you really be? Are you going to have your daddy's gorgeous eyes? I kind of hope one part of you is really chubby, your cheeks or your little thighs or something. I hope you're not so little that there's nothing to squeeze and pinch - that would make me sad.

Will you be a happy baby, or angry that you came into this world a tiny bit early? What will be your favorite way to be held? Are you going to like my breasts or are they going to frustrate your tiny body and be disregarded for a bottle?

And these are just the unknowns in your first few days. There are so many other things in your life I can't predict.

So let's focus on what we do know.

When know what we're going to name you. We know that we are doing the best thing by delivering you early. We know that both you and I have good doctors to care for us, and a daddy/husband who is going to make the early days so much more comfortable. We know that you have a dog brother and sister at home who are going to be relieved when you are finally here and they can stop waiting for some unknown event to occur.

We know that we will love you with all of our hearts, no matter what shape you're in when you are born. And I guess that's all that matters.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The craziest day

Well yesterday was crazy.

The baby did great on the NST, which was a relief. When my OB came in the room, she started by telling us that the baby is above the 3rd percentile in growth, which is good, but is less than 10%, which is not-so-good. Then, without ceremony, she said "So we're going to deliver at 37 weeks."

I really wasn't surprised by this at all, but all of the blood left my husband's face. I've never seen him look like that before in my life! He kind of gasped out loud. He looked like he might cry or throw up. My OB kept glancing at me like "is he going to be okay?"

We discussed the things that may happen after delivery, and the necessity of a c-section in this case. I asked if any tests would be done to determine lung function, and she said quite bluntly no, because it doesn't matter, he needs to come out regardless of how his lungs are. I asked if I'd get a steroid shot and she said there's really no use for it after 34 weeks.

So, that's settled. I was feeling pretty okay with it all, besides being concerned for A. He still looked quite shaken. All in all, it took him about an hour to come to terms with the fact that we have just a few days remaining in this pregnancy, as opposed to the weeks he thought we had.

The timing works great this way. He's on break between semesters, so he'll have a solid three weeks to stay home with me and the baby before going back to work. I'm happy about that, especially since I'll need TLC too while I'm recovering from the c-section.

Me? Well, my emotions are all over the place. I am a bit of a mess.

Overall, I'm excited to meet my son on Tuesday. I'm also scared that he won't be as healthy as he would have been if he could have baked a bit longer. I'm terrified that he'll have to go to the NICU and I'll have hours or days before I can hold him. I feel sort of like a failure that I can't grow him any longer. I thought IUGR was usually an issue with uterus shape or something, which I didn't think I needed to worry about.

I'm a little sad that I'll never experience any labor. I'll never know what a contraction feels like. It's disappointing, but it kind of fits the theme of how this pregnancy began: everything was very clinical, scientific, deliberate. No room for having a bottle of wine and a romantic evening to conceive your child - we're doing the painful retrieval, ICSI, just about as interventionist as you can possibly get. Similarly, there's no time to languish at home, waiting for contractions and a bloody show, 18 hours of labor. Nope, get that baby out of there so he can start growing.

I'm quite nervous about how all of this will impact breastfeeding. The issue of his growth puts a lot of pressure on me to produce and do it well and do it quickly. Also, if he can't be with me right away, we're kind of setting ourselves up for problems in that department, aren't we?

I'm a little scared of a c-section. Not too scared, because I know so many women who have had one that it can't be that bad, but just scared of something new happening to my body involving a scalpel and lots of anesthesia.

I'm overwhelmed to know exactly what day my pregnancy will end. I will wake up on Tuesday and that's the last day I'll be pregnant for years - what if it's my last day, ever, being pregnant? I'm trying to memorize the way this little one feels when he moves inside me, because what if I never feel that again?

So yeah, lots of strands in the old duder's head here. I'm going to keep busy this weekend cleaning and trying to get a lot of rest. In just a week we'll be home from the hospital with our baby.

Friday, May 11, 2012

5/15 will be a nice birthday

Baby is growth restricted and will be delivered at 37 weeks. There will be a scheduled c-section since he’s breech.

So that means…next Tuesday, May 15.

We were warned that there may be some NICU time, or he may come out breathing just fine. Either way, it’s time for him to come out of me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Update - baby drama

So I got to my ultrasound this afternoon. The first thing the tech said was “Do you think he has turned?” I said “No, his head is right here”, and I pointed. I was right! Still breech.

Then the measurements started. I knew right away we had an issue. I am 36w2d and the measurements were rolling in primarily around 32-34 weeks, I saw one at 29w5d (that was the head).

We waited 30 minutes between the ultrasound and my visit with the NP. I think they were talking the whole time, going over my scan. My husband also saw the small measurements and said “I think you’re going to go over your due date because he’s so small.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him what I thought was probably coming!

Basically, we got the c-section talk, and the early baby talk. The NP didn’t want to speak for my OB, but said that the baby hasn’t grown much and is still measuring small. Basically, it might be better to get him out earlier so he can breastfeed, than keep him inside where he’s not growing well.

My OB is going to call me tomorrow with a plan. Options range from “let’s do another growth scan later and decide then” to “I’m sending you for a level 2 ultrasound for better measurements” to “let’s do an amnio to check lung function and deliver early”.

I asked a ton of questions. I verified that we’re still thinking small baby not birth defects or something’s really wrong here. The NP said that if I were 30 weeks and we were seeing such a slow down in growth, she’d be very concerned. But since I’m over 36, there’s not much to worry about.

I wasn’t surprised by anything they said. My husband, on the other hand, was a little shocked to hear we may be having this baby SOON.

UPDATE: The doctor’s office just called. I’m to go in for a non-stress test tomorrow morning and meet with my OB afterwards. I’ll keep you posted!

the smug mommy club

I work in a department of 25 people. I am the only one of the 25 who does not have children. In the department, there are three units. My unit consists of me and five other women (plus my supervisor). Four of us are the same age, while the two others are 45 and 60+.

On some days, the girls at work are my best friends. They give great advice and listen to me blow off steam when I need to. They threw me a baby shower, inundated me with hundreds of dollars of hand-me-downs (including a top-of-the-line breast pump), and supported me through all of my infertility/IVF stuff.

On other days, I want to go home and crawl in bed and never talk to them again. They can so quickly become vicious, undercutting, and cruelly judgmental. They are strong, working mothers who for some reason can’t feel confident in their identities and have to constantly cut down the choices and actions of other women.

In my head I have started referring to this as the “smug mommy club”. Because even though they clearly have deep insecurities about their child rearing (as I’m sure all parents do), they act as though they always know the best thing for their child, and for everyone else’s child.

But they don’t.

These women supported me so graciously through the early, scary weeks of pregnancy. Then, they made me feel worthless for choosing cloth diapers, even though they knew nothing about modern cloth. They celebrated milestones of the pregnancy with me, but I have intentionally withheld our choice not to circumcise because I know it will make me the subject of ridicule.

The worst part is that these women are my friends. I count them among people I truly care about. Usually, they are great people. It’s just that sometimes the smug mommy switch flips on and I can’t be around them.

As much whining as I’ve done on this blog, I have gotten through almost all of this pregnancy without becoming the whiny, self-absorbed pregnant woman I used to hate. At least, I feel like I have.

I hope that means I can become a mother without unintentionally joining the smug mommy club. I want no part of that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy nine months!

Well, as of yesterday I am 36 weeks – or 9 months – pregnant. You better believe I’m going to remind my husband of this frequently. You want me to do the dishes? I’m 9 months pregnant! I need another nap, honey, I’m 9 months pregnant. Can you share your candy, please, I’m NINE MONTHS PREGNANT! ; )

Everything feels surreal these days. Nothing seems important except this baby. I don’t care about work (at all), and in the evenings all I do is watch tv or read and think “This is one of my last nights of just relaxing”. Last night I woke up around 3 and couldn’t fall back asleep for an hour. My husband woke up too and we talked about what the baby is going to be like. Mentally, I am 100% baby, all day long, all the time.

The hospital bag is packed, sitting by the door along with the car seat, a Boppy pillow, and a little sticky note of things that should be thrown in the bag last minute (my husband’s contact solution and case, our camera, etc).

I have a growth ultrasound and appointment tomorrow. I’m a bit nervous because, if we believe the scale, I have lost a pound in the past two weeks. I feel like I have definitely gotten bigger though, so I guess we’ll see what the doctor says.

Friday we’re both going to the mall where they’re having a car seat installation event. Once we do that and we put the swing together, we are officially as prepared as we can be for this little one.

Let’s just hope it’s not another 6 weeks before he gets here! I think a 39 week baby would be perfect : )

Sunday, May 6, 2012

35w5d, ramblings

  1. We finished our childbirth class, which I loved. Every approach was covered: epidural vs some pain killers vs natural birth; c-section, vaginal, and assisted deliveries, etc. I feel much more prepared just knowing the process that will happen either way I deliver.
  2. Last week we also took a two-part breastfeeding class. The information was pretty general but I still learned a lot. She told us how to manually express our milk, so I tried it when I got home. Seriously! There is baby juice in my breasts! It dropped out 3-4 drops from each side! I was so amazed by this, and also a tiny bit freaked out. I certainly have more respect for my breasts now. It was nice to get to know the lactation consultant I'll be working with.
  3. The LC told us that they give mom and baby a “golden hour” immediately after delivery to try to nurse, skin to skin. I had a very stressful morning last week trying to explain this to my mom, who just wants "five minutes" with the baby before I start to nurse. For now, the plan is my husband just won't announce that the baby has been born until we're ready for visitors.
  4. We went on a Serious Shopping Extravaganza with all of our gift cards to get remaining things off of our registry. We are almost 100% ready to bring baby home now. The only big thing we have left is to install our car seat bases and assemble the swing when it arrives.
  5. I am 99% sure baby is still breech. I feel kicks that are low and internal (like, on my organs, not my abdomen), and I think I feel his head lodged against my right side. The other night he started making really jerky movements, butting his head against the skin under my right ribcage. I was like "You can't get out that way! Point your head at my hoo-ha, there's an escape hatch down there!"
  6. I have another ultrasound to check growth on Thursday, and I meet with the NP. Then I go to weekly appointments.