Monday, March 19, 2012

A Little of This, A Little of That

I hope everyone had a good weekend!  Ours was great!  (Actually, my weekdays and weekends aren't all that different except Jonathan is home [which is a lovely addition, don't get me wrong.])  But either way, we aren't doing too much stuff.

I couldn't help but think about St. Patrick's Days of yore on Saturday.  Sleeping in, getting some Fino's, then maybe heading to Celtic to enjoy friends and green brews.  This year, Bates' second nighttime feeding had me awake until 6:45am and then he woke up for the day about 8:30.  Oh well.  At least he was in the spirit.
O'Baby!  (This was a gift from a baby shower.)

Other than that - here are some random rambles.

1) Bates is 3 weeks old!  Big boy!

2) After I've been pumping for a week and measuring ounces Bates takes in per day, he's back up (and a little above) his birth weight!

3) Thanks for all the lovely comments on my breastfeeding post.  It's such a personal thing - and it seems like everyone has their opinion on what they think is correct.  Thanks for your words of encouragement.

4) We're doing newborn pictures this afternoon with a cool local photographer, Ramblin' Rose.  I looked into her for our wedding photography, but she was booked.  We were happy with the woman who shot our wedding, but she's now pursuing other things and isn't doing straight-up photography anymore.  But I love the look of the newborn sample shots on Ramblin's website, so I hope we get some good ones!

5) My mom will be here until tomorrow.  I'll miss her help around here. :(

6) Jonathan and I had two dates this weekend!  My mom stayed home with Bates so we could go out to dinner Saturday and Sunday night.  On Saturday, I had sushi!  The first time in 10 months!  It was glorious.

7) We've watched a lot of basketball this weekend.  All the upsets are crazy!  We were obviously quite disappointed Memphis lost to St. Louis.  Next year, boys...

8) I never thought I'd be one of those moms who constantly checks to make sure her kid is breathing at night...but I am.  Bates is in a bassinet next to our bed, and multiple times a night, I use the light from my cell phone to make sure his swaddle blanket is moving up and down.

9) We've been putting him in his crib for one of his daytime naps.  He looks so teeny tiny in that big bed!  (Also, we have this awesome baby monitor that has a sensor pad under the mattress that detects movement [like breathing].  So if he stops moving for x amount of seconds, an alarm goes off so we can go check on him.)

10) Everything is blooming in Memphis because temps have been in the 80s.  My mom's allergies are going crazy.  I was curious why my own allergies were ok.  Then I realized it's because I rarely leave the house.  Awesome.

11) I'm excited to be able to exercise again.  I've been going on slow walks around the neighborhood, but nothing more than that until after my 6-week postpartum check up.  I'm about 5 pounds away from my pre-preg weight and I don't think I'll get back there until I can move more.  (Side note, even though 5 pounds isn't really anything major, none of my pre-preg clothes are fitting right.  My stomach is still expanded, so all my pants create an enormous muffin top.)  My goal is to be back at weight and clothing size by the time we get Bates baptized, which is tentatively scheduled for early June.  I'm not beating myself up, though.  Actually, the opposite - I'm thanking my lucky stars for good genes which essentially had me 5 pounds away from my pre-preg weight about 5 days after his birth.

12) We got this big guy in the mail the other day from my dad.

That's all I've got right now.  I hope everyone is well.  And like I said in the last post, I'm hoping to be able to get more on here soon!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Walking Milk Factory

As you guys can probably imagine, I did a lot of research on breastfeeding before Bates was born.  Some of it was by default (that is, most books on childbirth or the different stages of your pregnancy end with a chapter on BFing).  I also rented some DVDs and a textbook from the library at the hospital.  And one of our childbirth classes devoted a session to it.  I felt pretty prepared.

Here is what I've noticed, though.  In all of those DVDs and books, certain aspects of the whole experience are left out.

1) In no video do you see a woman trying to breastfeed a crying baby.  In theory you should feed the baby before he cries, in actuality, that doesn't happen.  (And as you can imagine, no video shows a woman trying to breastfeed an inconsolable, wailing baby either.)

2) In no video do you see anything other than a passive, calm baby.  There are no hands flailing around, no legs kicking with all their strength, no head jerking back and forth.  You never see a baby latch on and then jerk his head back with all his might (while still latched on).  Or see a baby latch on and then, because he's so squirmy, rip at the breast (while still latched on) with his hands.  There's never a wrestling match between mother and baby in the videos.

3) In the videos, the baby latches on once and is done.  It doesn't take 10 tries (all of which feel like good latches) before the baby is happy enough to finally start feeding.

4) In the videos, breastfeeding takes an appropriate amount of time.  The baby latches, eats, disconnects from the breast, and is satisfied and ready for a burp.  It doesn't take an hour and a half.  The baby doesn't fall asleep every 10 minutes and need to be woken up (thus re-starting the cycle of trying to find the perfect latch).

5) This might be TMI, but in no video do you see open wounds on a woman's nipple that scab over, but get the scab ripped off at the next feeding.

So yeah, even though I was "prepared" to breastfeed, I had no idea what I was in for.  The whole experience was taking a toll on me.  I found myself anxious before feedings, anticipating the wrestling match that was about to take place.  At night, I was unable to eat a lot of dinner because my stomach sort of hurt (which I think was my anxiety about the night ahead of trying to feed).  During the actual event, I became really frustrated and often cried as much as the inconsolable baby.  There was one night that was just over the top and made me scream for Jonathan to take the baby because I didn't think I could handle being around him anymore.  Not exactly the idyllic bonding experience I was going for when I decided to breastfeed.

I met with 2 lactation consultants while we were still in the hospital, then I had a phone consultation with one and a follow up, in-person meeting with her a couple days later.  I would come off of those talks feeling good, and we'd have maybe one good feed, then it would all go downhill again.

And so on Friday last week, I made a decision.  Nipple confusion or not, I was going to pump and give Bates bottles of breastmilk instead of nursing him.

And you guys, oh my gosh.  This has seriously (not to be dramatic) changed my relationship with my son.  I am able to pump milk and feed it to him in a loving, bonding experience.  We still get to have lots of snuggle time, but there's none of the frustration for either of us.  My open wounds are healing.  I'm not in serious pain when I pump.  I don't have to be aggressive and pin down his arms and legs while trying to get him to latch.  And, daddy can be a part of feedings, too.

Thankfully, it seems I have an abundant milk supply, which makes the exclusive pumping do-able.  This is our solution at the moment.  I think once I'm completely healed I'll try to take him to breast again to see how it goes (since we had the bottom of his tongue slightly clipped at the doctor on Friday).  But I'm pretty happy with where things are right now.  I sort of feel like a slave to the pump.  But at the same time, if my options are slave away with the machine or give him formula, I'll take the machine for now.  I don't like that we won't have the ease of feeding if we're out and about, but at the same time, given the way our feedings were going, I wouldn't have been able to nurse him in public.  Actually, I tried to nurse him at the doctor's office on Friday and instead we had to cancel our post-doctor errand so I could drive home and feed him because we just couldn't do it away from all the pillows and such we needed.  (Not to mention the doctor probably wouldn't have wanted a room tied up for an hour and a half while he took his sweet time to eat.)

His weight wasn't back up where it should've been at the doctor either, so we're hoping with some monitoring of ounces per day he'll get back up to birth weight.

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Week One

So - it's been one week with our little man.  My oh my how one's life can change in just a few hours!  It's crazy that a week can make you almost forget how your whole life used to be.

Generally speaking, I think things are going well...

-Sleep is greatly lacking.  The little man sleeps fine at night - for a baby.  So basically we're up every few hours or so to nurse.  That's a pretty weird schedule for an adult to get used to.

-Nursing is going decent to not good, I'd say.  It feels like 2 steps forward, 1 step back.  We'll have a great feeding followed by an awful one.  Bates is freaking strong - so usually when we first settle in to nurse, it's this battle between me and his strong arms and legs that flail around and try to grab things.  After some drama with a nipple shield (and the baby only willing to nurse when I had one on), we're now pretty much off it, unless he's really, really restless.  I'm hoping to get some pumping into the mix, as well.  I had a phone consultation with a lactation specialist yesterday and I'm hoping I can actually meet with her today to get her help.

-Emotionally I've been ok.  Definitely some postpartum weepiness going on, but it doesn't feel overwhelming or constant.  Hopefully it will get better every day.

-I've been overwhelmed with Jonathan's patience and helpfulness.  I have to say that patience isn't necessarily my strongest personality trait - and a lot of times, I just assume that because Jonathan and I are so much alike, he has the same weaknesses as me.  But really, he's suuuuper patient.  I can't tell you how many times I've snapped at him in frustration about something and he just jumps in, totally helpful and calm.  Also, he's pretty much taken over housework and meal prep, which is awesome.  (And he's been a great dad so far, too - total package, guys, total package.)

-I think having grandparents in town is going to be pretty awesome.  It already has been and it's only a week.

-I'm shocked at how little extra time I have to do anything.  The baby sleeps a lot, but it's not really like that's free time for me.  He's usually either sleeping on me, or is in a sleeping apparatus where he can't be unsupervised.  Also, he's often in this sleepy/awake state where he wants attention or he starts crying.  I mean, don't get me wrong, there's lots of nice relaxing/down time, but just not in the way there would be if there wasn't a baby.

That's about all I have time to post about right now.  Here's our first family walk:

And having some tummy time with daddy:

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Birth of Bates

I said to Jonathan on Friday (2/24), "I think we'll have the baby on Sunday."  It was the due date I'd calculated after charting my cycles for more than a year before we got pregnant.  Given the exact timing of the way everything had gone, I assumed the baby would come when he was due, as well.  I left work Friday pretty sure I wouldn't be back.  I bought stuff at the grocery store on Friday that would help us through the first week home with a newborn.  Saturday during the day we went over all our materials from our childbirth classes.  We were ready.

I was super mucus-y and crampy during the day on Saturday, providing even more confirmation for my Sunday prediction.  Saturday night, we had our "last supper" at 3 Angels Diner and then got some YoLo.  We were lounging around watching Animal Planet (<-------- really cool thing to do on Saturday night) and I took a shower at 9.  Once I got out, I knew I would go into labor that night.  I just knew.  So Jonathan and I tried to pick up the house a little.  About 10, I got what had to be the first "real" contraction I'd ever had.  Not long or painful, but definitely the real thing.  So we decided to go to bed to try to sleep as much as possible.

I slept until about 12 and then contracted by myself for maybe 45 minutes in bed (one, so I could confirm it actually was labor, and two, so Jonathan could get as much sleep as possible [since he wouldn't have the same hormonal endorphine rush after labor that would help me lose a night of sleep]).  But I had to get him up around 12:45 because I needed help.

I labored in bed using a Bradley-ish Method until probably 3:30.  With the Bradley Method, you lie completely still in bed in a fully supported position that allows all your muscles to relax while you focus on relaxation, not tensing your muscles, and breathing.  I had a heating pad (which was AWESOME - all laboring women should use one!) on my abdomen and Jonathan would massage my lower back.  For me, the contractions had 3 manifestations: 1) intense menstrual-like (or gas/diarrhea) cramping, 2) intense lower back pain in the achy way your back feels when you have your period, or 3) both of those at the same time.  While I was Bradley-ing, contractions were probably 5-7 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 30-60 seconds.  There wasn't an entirely reliable pattern and while they were strong sensations, I was closing my eyes between each one and trying to snooze.  (Side note: we were using a phone app to time them.)

Around 3:30, I needed to move a little more.  So we did a few contractions where I would lean against the bed on pillows and Jonathan would give counter-pressure on my lower back.  That wasn't working awesomely, so we spent the rest of our time at home with me sitting on an exercise ball and Jonathan sitting behind me providing counter-pressure on my back while I would sort of lean forward into the abdominal pain.  We did, in fact, listen to the labor playlist once we got out of bed (the slow/easy listening one), which was nice.  The room was dark and there was a light on down the hall, so it was a calm environment.

While on the ball, things got really intense and a lot more painful.  Eventually the contractions were lasting 45 seconds to 1 minute+ and would come anywhere from 3-5 minutes apart, sometimes coming on top of each other without a break in between.

Mentally, I was feeling pretty resilient.  I was in a ton of pain, but at the same time, I felt really committed to the idea of unmedicated birth.  I think at one point I thought, “if this is going to go like this for 5 more hours, I can’t do it,” but then this other little thought would pop in and say, “dude, you read all those books, went to those classes, watched those movies, you need to do it without meds or you’ve seriously wasted your time.”  Ha – my internal monologue is harsh!

We had initially planned to head to the hospital when contractions were strong (45-60 seconds) and consistently coming every 3-4 minutes for more than an hour.  We also wanted to watch my “emotional signposts” for a noticeable shift in the intensity of the contractions.  My doctor said that would happen – that I would be going along with contractions and then at some point, I would notice the last couple were a lot harder than the previous ones.

Jonathan was the one to suggest we get ready to go to the hospital.  It was 5am and he said if I had 2 more big ones before 5:10, we needed to go.  After one contraction, I said I needed to start getting dressed – it was a noticeable shift and we needed to get on.

We ended up not leaving the house until 5:30 because I had a ton of really intense contractions while I was trying to primp a little and get dressed.  The drive to the hospital sort of sucked – but it wasn’t entirely eventful.  There’s not a whole lot of traffic at 5:30 in the morning.  Thankfully everything slowed down a little, so I only remember a couple contractions while we were en route.

When you get to the hospital to check in for L&D, you first get sent to a triage room where they check your progress to see if you’re ready to be admitted.  Jonathan couldn’t come back until they confirmed that.  I went into the room with two nurses.  Contractions were really strong and close at this point, BUT, the good news: I was 6 centimeters!  Definitely going to be admitted at that point.  (They went and told Jonathan, so he came back with our two hospital bags, an exercise ball, and a cooler.  He said when he got to the door and saw the state I was in, he dropped all the crap in the hallway and came into the room, the ball rolling around the empty hallway, ha.)

In the triage room they want you on a fetal monitor for 20 minutes to see how the baby responds to contractions.  In that 20 minute time, they ask you a bunch of questions to admit you to the hospital.  As I was answering these questions, I was having serious, intensely painful contractions.  It was a strange juxtaposition because I was in the worst pain of my life, yet answering stuff like, “what are your dietary preferences” and “is there any cancer in your family.”  In the meantime, they were also trying to get an IV in so I could have the Penicillin for the Strep B.  Three people came in to try and couldn’t get it.  (Have I mentioned yet that throughout the whole labor, my body was convulsively shaking?  Like, naked in Antarctica shaking.)

I started to feel strong vaginal pressure and the nurses told me it was probably the water bag pushing down.  In an enormous gush, the water broke.  Then things spun into motion.

There was meconium in the water (which can be a sign the baby’s in distress).  I remember one nurse yelling, “we’ve got mec!” and the other one ripping the fetal monitors off and saying, “we’re done with this.”  They put me on the bed and quickly wheeled me down the hall to the delivery room.  It had been less than the 20 minutes they wanted me on the monitor.

When we got to the room and I got onto the bed in there, I started to panic a little because I felt the need to push.  I was holding on to one of the nurses through a contraction saying, “I need to push, I need to push.”  Next I remember the other one saying, “she’s complete, get the doctor in here!”  That is to say, I went through transition (the hardest part of labor) in less than 20 minutes while answering hospital admittance questions.

My doctor walked in and we set up in the birthing position (a supported, sitting squat) we’d discussed.  I pushed through a few contractions like that, trying to get the hang of it.  To me, it felt like I had a nice long break in between each pushing contraction, maybe 5 minutes?  But Jonathan said it was more like 2-3 minutes.

After a couple contractions my doctor said, “can we try a new position for just the next one, and if it’s awful, we’ll go back to this?”  I agreed, so they reclined the bed a little bit more and I held my legs up behind the knees (Jonathan held one).  This position hurt my tailbone, but the doctor said that was just what I would feel, given the way the baby pushes on it as it’s coming out.  Since this position was working much better, we went with it.

The next thing I remember, after a couple more pushing contractions was my doctor getting up from the bed and saying, “I’m going to put my gown on now, you’re about to have a baby.”

I was in a ton of pain.  I think they call this the “ring of fire” or “rim of fire” something like that – that is, when the baby’s head is about to come out.  At the same time, though, I felt mentally strong because I knew the pain would be over in less than a minute.

And it was!  I pushed through the next contraction, felt the baby’s head come out, and then felt the rest of him sort of flop out onto the bed.  Someone said “it’s a boy!” and I looked down to see his boy parts before they set him on my chest.  I think I kept saying, “holy crap” or something silly because I was in complete awe that 1) I’d just done that, and 2) my baby was sitting on my chest.  It was one of the best, most surreal experiences of my life.

Overall, everything about the labor and delivery was perfect (sans that I couldn’t get the antibiotic).  Literally, it went as wonderfully as I would’ve dreamed.  I’m so glad: my doctor was on call; it went as freaking fast as it did; the nurses were great; the pain didn’t turn me into some kind of monster; the baby was fine (despite the meconium and the lack of antibiotic) – just everything.

And of course, the best part of the whole thing is our sweet little boy!  (Jonathan said afterwards he was shocked to see boy parts – he felt positive it was a girl.)

Bates is a week old.  Hopefully as we get this parent thing figured out, I can blog more!