Thursday, December 31, 2009

Two Tiny Miracles

Let me start by saying that I'm not prone to being skinny. My grandma weighs well over 200 pounds and she's just five feet tall. I've always carried around a good 10 pounds more than I'd like and to be movie star skinny, I'd have to drop another 20 after that. Aside from some bad genes, I have a bum knee that makes certain exercises off-limits for me. It's not a bum knee in the sense that it hurts every once in awhile, it's truly a lemon. I've had three, that's right three, major surgeries on it over the past 10 years.

I gained 42 pounds while I was pregnant. Ugh. Given my poor genes, high weight gain, and inability to engage in really strenuous exercise, I was fully expecting to carry around some extra pounds and a flabby tummy for a good long while after having James. In what I can only call a miracle. . .

1) I am wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans. I actually fit into them within a week of James' birth. I'll concede that these are stretchy and were my "fat jeans" before being pregnant, but still! Today I tried to fit into one of my regular pre-pregnancy jeans and I was able to get them on, but buttoning them appeared to be impossible. I know I have a ways to go, but I'm shocked and pleased that I'm as small as I am this quickly. I haven't weighed myself and don't plan to until my 6-week postpartum visit.

2) My wedding ring fits again! I stopped wearing it around 5 months because it was summer and my fingers were swelling due to the heat and pregnancy. I'd tried to wear it a couple times over the past few weeks, but it was too tight. Today, it fit! The timing couldn't be better because tomorrow is our five-year wedding anniversary.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Very Merry Christmas

Our holiday was so great! On Christmas Eve, we had my uncle and family over for drinks and appetizers, then I had my heart set on watching Love Actually since it's one of my favorite holiday movies. We don't own the movie and the weather was too bad to make a trip to Blockbuster, so I was hoping to find a way to pay-per-view it through our cable company. Brett told me to open one of my Christmas presents early and it was a copy of Love Actually. I'm always amazed at how he can anticipate exactly what I'll want.

We were hit by a blizzard beginning on Christmas Eve, which I thought would prevent my dad and brother from coming to town, especially since both of them get nervous about driving in bad weather. When I woke up Christmas day and called both of them around 10 am, I was shocked to find out that they were both on their way to town. My mom was already staying with us, so the whole family was together on Christmas. My parents divorced about three years ago and this was the first Christmas they were comfortable spending as a family. It was really nice for us all to be together. We opened gifts, napped, played games, and enjoyed a full holiday meal that my mom prepared.

James did great throughout the day and even slept well last night. He slept one really long stretch of 4.5 hours.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mommys are Awesome

I feel like we turned a corner over the past 48 hours. After what can only be described as a total meltdown on Sunday, things are looking up. First off, I took a trip on Monday to the "Mommy and Me Boutique" at a local hospital. It's a pretty awesome store with tons of breastfeeding-related products. I bought tubing for my breast pump, a Lansinoh Latch Assist nipple everter, and two more Soothie pacifiers. The best part of the visit was that the store has a newborn scale and was able to weigh James -- he was 8 lbs 7.5 oz, meaning that he met the target of surpassing his birthweight by two weeks of age. He'd been weighed the previous Monday at the pediatrician's office and was 7 lbs 10 oz, so he gained about 13 ounces last week. It was a mental load off to know that he was gaining weight.

Starting Monday night, I decided to really focus on weaning him from the nipple shield because I was worried the shield might impact my supply. I was planning to gradually move away from the shield, but I'm pleased to report that James is a bit of a superstar and, with a little more work each BFing session, was able to move away from the shield completely. We more or less stopped cold turkey and haven't used the shield since 7 pm Monday night.

The other great development is that I've started being more diligent about making sure he gets fed every two to three hours, as opposed to just feeding on cue. Until now, I've been reluctant to wake him for feedings during the day, but I think that's contributed to his poor sleep over night. If he sleeps enough that it's been 2.5 hours from the previous feeding, I'll change his diaper, which is usually enough to wake him up to nurse. As a result, he's stopped marathon/cluster feeding at night, which gives mommy some extra sleep.

The last and best news is that my mom is here and it helps so much! She seems to have the special touch and helped us over night last night. Under her magic powers, she found a pretty sure-fire way to get him back to sleep after feedings -- we double swaddle him, rock him for 10 minutes, then lay him in his crib with a hand on his belly for a couple minutes longer. With this system in place, I was able to get a decent night's sleep! His longest sleep stretch was still just under three hours, but since I can nurse him and get him back to sleep faster, I ended up with more sleep.

In other news, I've started pumping once a day around 7 pm in an attempt to have a few ounces of breast milk stored in our freezer in case I need to be away for more than a couple hours. We were going to go out for a nice dinner with my brother and sister-in-law and leave the baby with my mom, but there's a terrible winter storm coming, so they decided to leave early for their out-of-town Christmas plans. Brett and I's five-year wedding anniversary is New Year's Day and my mom is coming up to watch James, so hopefully we'll have enough frozen breast milk for Brett and I to have a night out in celebration.

One other thing that was too cute not to mention -- my mom and I took James to my grandma's nursing home today. She has the beginnings of dementia, among multiple health issues, but she's just obsessed with this kid! We dressed him in a Santa outfit and he looked so cute. My grandma was so proud and wanted us to wheel her around the nursing home so she could show him off. She hardly ever leaves her room, so the fact that she was so excited to wheel around the nursing home was surprising. She kept saying, "What do you think of my little Santa? Isn't he the cutest thing ever?" I haven't seen her that happy and animated in a really long time.

That's all the ramblings for now. I'm looking forward to our low-key Christmas. We're having a Christmas Eve Happy Hour tomorrow night for our extended family members and then my mom, dad, and brother are spending Christmas day at our place. My mom's doing all the cooking, so it should be a very mellow day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Post Partum Overwhelmed

I gave my husband and myself quite a scare this past weekend. First off, let me explain just how stressful the weekend was, because that's some important context. Brett's ENTIRE family was in town. They celebrate Christmas together every year a weekend before the actual holiday. They live all over the county -- North Carolina, California, and Oklahoma. In an attempt to make things easy on us, they decided to converge in Kansas City this year. I know they meant well, but having 23 out-of-town relatives around when my baby wasn't even two weeks old ended up being very overwhelming. They all stayed at a nearby hotel, which helped.

We ended up hosting them all for dinner on Friday night. This was all a last-minute thing because no one had made any plans for how these people would eat/be entertained. We had the food catered, but it was still a lot of work. The worst part is that James is a really good sleeper when people are holding him. Of course, everyone wanted a chance to hold him, so he slept the entire time from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm, then he wasn't really tired that night.

On Saturday, there was a family picture scheduled (because nothing's as fun as having your picture taken when you are 12 days postpartum). This turned into a stressor because James wanted to be fed as soon as I got out of the shower, so my hair dried before I had a chance to style it, then I didn't have time to get it wet and start all over again, which resulted in some flat, weird-looking hair. That evening, we went to my brother and sister-in-law's house for dinner and gifts. Yet again, James slept the whole time only to be wide awake when bedtime rolled around.

After all this, I ended up having a really bad day Sunday. I was sleepy from two nights of bad baby sleep. I was overwhelmed from not getting to "sleep when the baby sleeps." This resulted in a crying spell that lasted just about the entire day. Brett was sweet and watched James for an hour and a half so I could have some time to run errands. I ended up texting my mom (I knew I'd cry if I talked to her on the phone) and asked her to come up early. She was planning to come Wednesday evening, but after my teary, frantic plea for help, she's coming this afternoon.

I was worried (and so was Brett, I think) that Sunday was the beginning of postpartum depression, but I haven't cried since then. I simply think the weekend was too much too soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2 Weeks of Motherhood

Yes, you'll probably notice that I am writing this post at 2:30 am. It is the early morning hours and I'm sitting with a Boppy around the waist and an amazingly hungry little boy at my breast. I've heard there's a 10 day growth spurt, but I feel like every day's a growth spurt with this little guy. He spends the days so calm and sleepy, then ends up very hungry throughout the night. I've started changing his diaper more frequently during the day in the hopes of waking him up for more frequent daytime feedings. Last night, he nursed every 30 minutes from 11 pm to 4 am!! I was a tired mommy. He did end up sleeping for 4.5 hours after that, though.

As I ponder my first two weeks of motherhood, I'm struck mostly by the high's and low's. Here they are...

Mommy High #1: I've never felt so proud of my body as the first time I breastfed James and knew that he was getting everything he needed from me. When he pulled away from my breast with a little stream of milk trickling down his chin, I was filled with pride. I've said lots of mean things about my body in the course of my lifetime. Sure, I'm shorter than I'd like and have always carried around an extra 10 pounds that I can't seem to lose. Despite all these shortcomings, my body's really coming through when it matters most.

Mommy High #2: James has started being alert for 30 minute stretches throughout the day. I swear I could sit for hours on end and just stare into his eyes. Half the time he's looking at the nearest light or ceiling fan, but every once in awhile he focuses in on me. I've read that he's most likely looking at my mouth, eyebrows, or hairline, not my eyes. I guess I don't even care what he's looking at. I just love knowing that his eyes are open and he's taking in the world around him.

Mommy High #3: This one's just a wee bit vain, but let's go with it anyway. I am wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans!! This victory comes with a number of caveats. First off, they were definitely my "fat" jeans. Secondly, they have some pretty serious strechiness to them. Lastly, they give me a pretty mean muffin top. Nonetheless, I can put them on, zip them, and even wear them comfortably. It makes me feel like a normal person again to wear pants with functioning zippers.

Mommy Low #1: Two nights ago when James was up for about 5 hours wanting to be nursed, my patience wore thin. Brett and I were both awake trying to get the little bugger to sleep, but nothing seemed to work. At one point, I moby wrapped him to me and started walking around the house. He continued to cry and my frustration reached a boiling point. I started crying and walked over to Brett, saying curtly, "Get him off of me." It all ended up okay when James slept for 4.5 hours later that night -- his longest stretch yet, but it was so frustrating until then.

Mommy Low #2: Just may have been earlier tonight. We celebrated Christmas with Brett's extended family. I had two drinks over the course of the entire evening, but Brett drank as he normally does. I was so jealous that he could drink all he wanted and simultaneously petrified that we were in for another long night with James. I was short with Brett, which he didn't deserve because he's been nothing but an amazing father and an equal contributor to all the work that comes with a new baby.

Mommy Low #3: Last weekend when my mom left after being with us for 5 days, I cried. I cried like a little girl. My mom started crying first because she was sad to leave the baby, then I started crying because I was scared shitless at the prospect of taking care of this kid without her. She's coming back in just a few days, so that'll be nice.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And we all say ahhhh

Yesterday was James' one-week birthday! We are still getting used to one another, but it's going well. Breastfeeding is coming along nicely. We went to the pediatrician last Friday and he was down to 7 lbs 2 oz, which was more than 10% weight loss from birth. We had to go back Monday and make sure he was gaining weight and he was up to 7 lbs 10 oz, which is an excellent gain.

Mommy has flat nipples that got even flatter when her milk came in, so we still use a nipple shield to latch on sometimes. According to the pediatrician, we can continue using it, as long as he continues gaining weight. The concern is that a nipple shield gets in the way of mom's body producing enough milk, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for us.

Our friend came and took newborn pics of James on Saturday. He sent us five as a sneak peek and I am absolutely in love with them. I don't mean to brag, but my kid is really stinking cute.

This hat always results in this pissed off face. . .

This is the pic we are using for our birth announcement.

I love the way this one was edited.

I like the simplicity of this one.

He looks a little dubious of the whole photo shoot thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lessons Learned: Hospital Bag

I am super duper detail-oriented, so I tried to really pay attention to whether my hospital bag contained everything we needed for our hospital stay. I also tried to think about what items we packed and didn't end up needing.

Here's a list of everything we packed with some commentary:

  • Waterproof pad and old towels - Had these in the car in case my water broke, but didn't need it.
  • Insurance info
  • Birth plan (10 copies) - 10 copies was way too much. I had read on some website that you need to have multiple copies on hand to share with all the different medical staff you'll meet. I just shared one copy with the triage nurse when we were admitted and then the hospital made sure that my birth plan was clearly visible in my file. When we switched nurses, I'd ask if they needed their own copy and they always said that they had already seen it on my file.
  • Nursing bra - I didn't wear this at all. I put it on, but it was too inconvenient. At least during your hospital stay, I'd recommend going bra/tankless since it makes BFing a lot easier.
  • Nursing pads - Didn't use these either. Your milk won't come in during your hospital stay, so nursing pads aren't necessary.
  • Nursing tank - Again, I tried this out, but it got in the way of easy BFing.
  • Chapstick - a MUST!
  • Toiletries - Pack the standard stuff you'd pack for a short weekend trip.
  • Eye drops - I get really bad dry eyes, but I was so preoccupied that I never noticed or used the eye drops.
  • Headband - I brought a head band which came in really handy since it was an easy way to make my ragamuffin hair look just a little better.
  • Makeup - I'm so glad that I packed my makeup. It may seem vain, but I put on some makeup after the epi and before I delivered. I also showered, did my hair and put on makeup every day we were in the hospital. It felt fantastic every time.
  • Hair dryer - I didn't need this because the hospital had one in every mother/baby recovery room.
  • Bath towel - I actually did use this. The hospital provided plenty of towels, but they were tiny.
  • 2 washcloths - Saw these on someone else's list, so I packed them, but I really didn't use them.
  • Flip flops - I saw this one someone else's list. They felt like the hospital shower was grimy, but I didn't find that to be the case at all.
  • Food - We brought granola bars, clementines, peanut butter, and string cheese. All of it was useful. I know hospital policy is that you don't eat during labor, but I had small bits of food here and there and am glad I did. The clementines were my favorite thing. I ate them shortly after delivering and they tasted SO GOOD to me.
  • Coins - Someone else recommended packing coins so Brett could get food. The hospital's nourishment rooms had everything he needed, though.
  • Cameras, cell phones, camcorders, laptops and their chargers - We used every last bit of technology that we brought. I don't regret bringing any of it.
  • Cord to upload photos - We were so anxious to share the good news with family and friends that we uploaded pictures of the baby within a few hours of delivery.
  • Bradley book - We referenced this a few times.
  • ipod - Used the laptop instead.
  • Relaxation aids - lavender oil, tennis balls in a sock, back massager, microwavable rice bag. I don't regret bringing a single one of these things. When my contractions got really bad, we tried every trick we could think of. The heated bag was a surprisingly big help.
  • Body pillow - This helped me get comfortable while laboring.
  • Husband's changes of clothes
  • Husband's toiletries
  • Husband's swimsuit - Didn't end up using this.
  • Going home outfit and shoes for me - You obviously have to wear clothes to leave the hospital. Be forewarned that you'll probably look a little terrible. I packed maternity jeans and a nonmaternity sweater. The jeans felt great, but the sweater was a little tight over my tummy. I'd recommend packing a sweatshirt or something else with a lot of give in the tummy.
  • Maternity underwear - I learned a lesson on this one. I wore into the hospital and packed a few pairs of nice maternity underwear (not fancy underwear but $7 per pair underwear!)| They both ended up almost completely ruined. I figured that I could wear them while I labored and then wear the hospital's mesh undies afterwards, but the truth is that even the underwear you wear while laboring will probably get ruined.
  • 3 pairs of warm socks - I didn't use any of the socks I brought. I found that wearing slippers was much more comfortable, especially since they had rubber treads and I could wear those as we walked the hospital halls.
  • Robe - Loved having this around. nightgown - I packed a long-sleeve, knee-length nightgown and it was really comfy. I should've packed more of these.
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 pair sweats - I had planned to wear sweats and a t-shirt, but the sweats weren't comfortable. During recovery, you have to wear mesh undies, giant pads, and sometimes an ice pack to help keep down swelling. By the time I got all this in my underwear, there was no way I wanted to squeeze into pants. If I could do it again, I wouldn't even consider bringing any pants at all.
  • Slippers
  • Magazines - Didn't use these.
  • Warm blanket for baby - Used this because it was 13 degrees out when we took James home!
  • Going home outfit for baby - I packed one 0 to 3 month outfit, but it was way too big on him. My 8 pound baby ended up wearing a preemie sleeper home from the hospital. I would recommend bringing one 0 to 3 month outfit and one preemie outfit.
  • 2 caps for baby - I think we brought more than this and used them all. Of course, I'm kind of into hats for the little guy, so this might just be personal preference.
  • Baby book
  • Colace - Didn't need this at the hospital, but needed it shortly thereafter at home.
  • Diapers - Didn't need to pack these. The hospital gave us a package of newborn diapers.
  • Diaper bag - Filled this up with James' outfit, blankies, etc.
  • Wipes - Didn't need these either since the hospital provided them.
  • Newborn booties
  • Newborn mittens - Didn't use these.
  • 2 receiving blankets - Didn't need these since the hospital provided. The hospital's receiving blankets were awesome. We brought our own "cute" ones, but they weren't as big and warm as the hospital's.
  • Empty paper sacks - This was a brilliant inclusion. We ended up leaving with way more stuff than we came with, so we used paper sacks to help cart everything home.
  • Things for when you get home - Motrin and super maxi pads.
What else I should've brought:
  • Boppy - I had my mom bring up my Boppy. It really helped a lot in the early days of BFing.
  • Thank you notes - I wish I would have packed a few simple thank you notes to leave for the nurses who took particularly good care of us.
  • Hearty food for Brett - When we checked into the hospital, Brett was starving. It was 11 pm, so there were no options at the hospital. He ended up scrounging up the stuff for a PB&J, but I wish we'd thought ahead and either eaten before leaving home or picked something up on the way to the hospital.
  • Pajamas - As mentioned above, I didn't pack the right pajamas. Pants are simply not a good idea right after delivering.
  • Normal pads - I wasn't prepared for the amount of bloody show I experienced. I used the hospital's pads but they were so huge and more than I needed before delivering. I had a couple pantyliners in my purse, but they weren't nearly big enough. If I could do it again, I'd bring some normal-sized pads to wear while laboring.
  • Clothes for Brett - Brett just brought one change of clothes. I think he was planning to go home and get cleaned up, but he stayed with James and I the entire time, which meant he wore the same clothes most of the time.
  • Iron - I lost enough blood in delivering that I need to take iron supplements for awhile. I didn't need these at the hospital, but had to have someone pick them up for me shortly after coming home.
  • Breast cream - I can't believe I dropped the ball on this one. I could've sworn I'd packed breast cream, but I didn't. The hospital gave me a sample tube of theirs, but it wasn't as soothing as the Lansinoh that I'm using now.
  • Soothies - These gel pads by Medela are super comfy. I highly recommend them for comfort during the first few days of BFing.
If I could do it again, I would've packed one bag of the items I'd need for labor and delivery and another of things I'd need during recovery. After I delivered, I didn't need my body pillow, relaxation aids, etc. I could've sent those home with someone had they been packed separately.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sweet Baby James

Our little man has made his debut! James Murrow H. was born at 4:23 pm on Monday, December 7th. He weighed in at 8 lbs. 3 oz. and 19.25 inches in length. He has daddy's dark brown hair, dimpled chin, and perfect coloring and mommy's round cheeks, little ears, and penchant for side sleeping.

And for all the gory details, here's James' birth story...

On Friday, December 4th at 38w6d, my MW stripped my membranes in an attempt to kickstart labor, thus allowing me to avoid an induction scheduled for Wednesday, December 9th. I went to work afterwards and felt crampy with a little bloody show, but it was completely tolerable. I had already planned to make Friday my last day at work, which ended up working out perfectly. Friday night, we went out for a nice dinner, thinking it might be our last chance. In the middle of dinner I noticed that my "cramps" were coming, peaking, and going. We timed them a bit during dinner and they were pretty consistently 5 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds. Rather than flipping out, I decided to ignore them since they were so mild and hardly painful at all.

I had some trouble sleeping from Friday to Saturday since every so often there would be a cramp/contraction that was severe enough to wake me. I probably woke up about every hour having to pee or in response to a bad contraction. On Saturday, the cramps were the same -- mild and ignorable until around 1 pm when I had my first contraction that was painful enough that I felt the need to stop what I was doing and concentrate on breathing through them. We learned in our birthing class that this "early labor" stage can easily last for a long time, so it's best to ignore it for as long as you can. Therefore, we went and saw The Blind Side Saturday afternoon and visited with my grandma. By Saturday night, the contractions were pretty intense, but they were so inconsistent. We wanted to wait to go the hospital until they were about 5 minutes apart for a full hour, but they never got that consistent. We tried walking and bouncy balling to get things more regular, but that never worked.

The contractions were bad enough by Saturday night that I wasn't able to fall asleep. When 4 am rolled around and I still hadn't slept a wink, I decided to call the MW. She suggested that I take a bath and a couple Tylenol PMs. If this wasn't "it," that would be enough to space out the contractions and maybe end the "false labor." If this was the real thing then I'd need some rest and the Tylenol PM would help me get it. I ended up scoring three hours of sleep, which would be all the sleep I got from Saturday morning at 8 am to Monday afternoon at 2 pm. Thank God for those three hours!

On Sunday morning, my contractions continued their frustrating pattern of being intense, but completely irregular. Again, we attempted to go about our business as usual, which meant a trip to Michael's to buy the materials for making a plaque for James' nursery door. Around 8:15 pm that night, my bloody show which had been occurring throughout the weekend turned to a bright red color and became much heavier. We decided that this was scary enough that we at least wanted to go to the hospital and make sure the baby and I were both handling things okay. We called the MW's office and let them know we were on our way. When we arrived, I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. The triage nurse wanted me to walk around the hospital for at least an hour to make sure I was progressing enough to be admitted. At 11:30 pm, I was officially admitted.

After an hour and a half of walking, I was 4 cm dilated, which was enough for them to admit me. Since my birth plan was to go natural, we were given one of the two birthing suites with a whirlpool and shower, which was awesome. From 11:30 pm to 5:30 am, we walked the halls of the hospital, labored in the tub, and used our Bradley techniques to work through the contractions. I found it helped a lot to drape myself over a chair while Brett applied a warm compress and rubbed my lower back with tennis balls stuffed into a sock. For 20 minutes of every hour, I had to be connected to the heart rate and contraction monitors and those were the toughest 20 minutes since I couldn't move to different positions to help deal with the labor.

Finally at 5:30 am, I asked the nurse to check me. I was really expecting to have made quite a bit of progress after 6 hours of hard labor. When she said I was 5 cm dilated/100% effaced, I was a little disheartened. We continued to labor until 9 am, when our MW made rounds. During this time, the contractions were getting more intense and harder to breathe through, plus I was frustrated that we had so far left to go. The whole sleep deprivation probably didn't help either. When the MW came in, she said that she knew I had been in labor for a very long time and that I was operating without much sleep to fuel me. She suggested we choose one of four options: go home and see if labor would progress quicker there, take some light meds to "take the edge off," break my water to speed things up, or get an epidural/pitocin combo to move things along.

I knew that going home wasn't an option for me since we'd already made it this far and it seemed unlikely that I'd be more comfortable at home. The light meds she was suggesting could cross the placenta, which I didn't want for the baby's sake. I also figured that if I was going to take meds for pain control, I may as well go for the "big kahuna," the epidural. We were torn between having her break my water or the epi/pitocin combo. On the one hand, breaking my water was a more natural option, but it also would likely make my contractions much more painful and close together. We decided to have her break my water. We agreed that we would give that option one hour and then assess whether we wanted an epidural at that time.

This is the part where my labor took a turn for the worse and the pain simply became too much. The actual breaking of the water was completely painless. It happened to be at the very beginning of a 20 minute stretch when I needed to be monitored. Those were 20 very difficult minutes, as the contractions hurt about 3 times as much and were coming in rapid succession. To top it all off, I had to be stationary. After those 20 minutes, I moved to the tub. Being in water made the contractions space out a little, but they still hurt just as bad. I don't totally remember this part, but Brett said that I was shaking during contractions. At one point, I started throwing up. In the middle of these, I looked at Brett and simply said, "I don't want to do this."

In Bradley classes, you learn that there's a "transition" that occurs between first and second stage labor when a laboring woman throws up and expresses self-doubt. This mirrored exactly what I was experiencing at this time. We decided we'd get checked again to see if we'd miraculously progressed quickly and were on the verge of second stage. When the nurse checked me, I was 6 cm. I knew I wouldn't be able to get myself to 10 cm like this and still have the energy left to actually push. Our labor/delivery nurse, Kelsey, was absolutely AWESOME. She had been completely supportive of my efforts to go natural, coaching me through contractions, never recommending pain meds, and generally following our birth plan to a tee. When she checked me and I was still only 6 cm, we made it clear that we wanted the epi and we wanted it quick. She was awesome and got everything set up and the anesthesiologist to us in about 15 minutes. I got the epi around 10:30 am. Inserting the epi didn't hurt at all, compared to the contractions. What amazes me is that I was able to stay still while he inserted it. The contractions were so awful, but I think I was able to suck it up and sit still through them so I could get some relief.

The whole labor changed so much for the better after I got the epi. I was able to take a short nap and even whipped out a handheld mirror and put on some makeup. Around 1:30 pm, I was 8-9 centimeters and fully effaced. At 3:30 pm, I was fully dilated and effaced. My MW's office is just across the street, so she was on her way over to "catch" the baby. Around 3:45 pm, a few nurses started guiding me through some practice contractions. At that same time, Kelsey came in and said that her shift was ending early because they were overstaffed. She gave me a big hug and wished me luck, saying she was really sad she wouldn't be around to meet the baby. She also said that she'd try to make say she had paperwork to do so she could at least stay a little longer.

My MW came after just one practice push and started guiding me through the real pushes. Since I couldn't feel my contractions, she had to tell me when to start and stop pushing. After just two or three more pushes, my MW said that she could easily see the baby's head and that he had a full head of dark hair. I was so excited that he had Brett's dark hair. Knowing that gave me some extra pushing motivation. I did a couple more pushes and Brett asked if I could reach down and feel the baby's head. I did and it felt so surreal. On the next push, I started puking, which really sucked. I hadn't eaten much during the labor, so I was mostly dry-heaving. It sucked because I wanted to be pushing but couldn't while I was vomiting. I vomited quite a few times and the MW said that the baby was moving lower each time. After that I pushed just once or twice more and he slithered out. They placed him directly on my chest and it was a moment that will change me and my life forever. He looked so perfect and I was instantly so proud of him.

I only pushed for about 30 minutes, so our nurse Kelsey was still around and able to be there for the birth. She had our camera ready and took some first moments pics for us. The placenta was slow to deliver, so my MW ended up reaching up there to help it detach. No part of the pushing was very painful. Even when he was crowning, I could hardly feel it, thanks to the epi. I ended up with a first degree tear and just one stitch. By the time he was cleaned, measured, weighed and I was stitched up, the epi had worn off and I felt back to my old self.

Our little man has been such a joy. He's such a sleepy fellow that it's been hard to breastfeed him enough, but we're working on that. Overall, I'm so pleased with our labor and delivery. It was long, almost as long as this birth story, and I ended up with an epidural which was not part of my plan. However, I truly believe that this long of a labor would have ended in a c-section for many women. I'm grateful that our Bradley classes gave us the tools to turn a 52 hour labor into a vaginal birth. I also wish that I had placed a little less pressure on myself to deliver naturally. Ultimately, I feel like James and I are no better or worse off for having had a medicated delivery. I put myself through a lot of psychological stress by wrapping my sense of self up in having a natural delivery.

So, there you have it. We are home resting, breastfeeding, and learning as much as we can about our sweet baby boy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Being in "Labor" is Hard

If there's anything I really hate, it's not knowing what's going on and that's exactly the situation I'm in right now. I'm not really in active labor, but I'm having occasional contractions that are painful enough that they stop me in my tracks.

I went into the MW's office on Friday morning and she stripped my membranes. I have to admit that it was pretty uncomfortable, but it only took a couple minutes, so I could handle it pretty easily. Ever since then, I've been having bloody show. Starting Friday night, I was having consistent contractions that were about 5 minutes apart, but they were so mild that I could easily ignore them, so I did.

Starting Saturday afternoon, I began having pretty intense contractions, but they have yet to get on a close, consistent timetable, so I've spent most of the past 24 hours breathing through them and attempting to time them. They are bad enough that I had a hard time sleeping and didn't make it to sleep until 5 am this morning. I only got a few hours of sleep and even that was interrupted pretty often by contractions. I'm not sure what the best course of action is -- do I just go into the hospital in hopes that they can monitor my contractions and maybe give me some tips for speeding things up? Do I continue to mill around at home? It's so hard to know what to do. We said we'd labor at home until my contractions were about 5 minutes apart pretty consistently, but they aren't to that point yet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'll Take It

I had another exam today. Baby looked "sleepy, but happy," according to my MW. He just barely passed the NST. We also found out that I tested positive for Group B Strep, which really just means I may need some extra antibiotics come delivery time. Toward the end of the appointment, she hadn't done an internal and I asked if she planned to. I felt sort of stupid, as if I was asking, "Are you sure you don't want to stick your fingers up my vag today?" But, I'm really trying to beat the clock here and go into labor spontaneously prior to December 14th, otherwise I'll have to be induced.

Knowing my dilation/effacement really doesn't change the course of the future, but it really does make me feel better just to know if my body's gearing up to do this on its own. So, she said she'd check me if I wanted her to and I did. Last week, I was 1 cm/60% effaced and today I am 2 cm/70% effaced. Woohoo!

I know, I know, women can walk around like this for weeks and weeks without labor actually starting. However, it's more encouraging than being 0 cm/0% effaced. I've spent the afternoon researching whether there's any correlation between being dilated and actually starting active labor. I haven't found much, but I have to believe that there is at least some correlation.

I also feel like it shows my MW that my body's on track to do this on its own. I feel like she'll be less likely to recommend induction at 40 weeks if my body has been showing consistent progress up to that point.

She also said that if my cervix is favorable next week, she can strip my membranes. I asked her what "favorable" meant because I thought you just had to be dilated enough to get a finger in there. She said that since membrane stripping can be painful, she'll only do it if she's pretty sure it'll jumpstart labor, which will depend on my cervix. I'm off to spend the next week walking and having sex (not at the same time) in hopes of at least getting some more progress next week.

Also, I'm wondering if the MW last week either accidentally or intentionally stripped my membranes during my internal. I had one internal around 24 weeks after my spotting scare and didn't have any bleeding after that. I also haven't had any cramping or bleeding after today's internal. But, after last week's internal I had some pretty significant bleeding right afterwards and passed a few large clots/mucous clumps. I think it's a little weird that there would be one internal with lots of cramping and spotting and two with none at all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

37 Weeks and Counting

As of this past Saturday, I am lugging around a full-term baby. I'm so excited that he'll be here soon, but I'm so anxious because I want him here now. Aside from some pretty intense spotting after last week's internal (and we're talking enough spotting that I wonder if it wasn't part of my mucus plug) and some low, menstrual-like cramps, the wait continues. I spent yesterday afternoon walking, a half hour last night rocking and bouncing on an exercise ball, and forced my husband to have sex with me last night (ok, maybe not forced, as he really took no convincing).

I feel torn between being patient and letting Cashew show up on his own schedule and forcing things along to avoid an induction. We're still three weeks away from the likely induction date, so he still has plenty of time to decide to come out on his own.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pregnancy Etiquette 101

As I close in on the end of my first pregnancy, I've been contemplating the do's and don'ts of interacting with pregnant women. Here we go...


1. Tell a pregnant woman that she's "glowing." Yeah, it may not be true and we may even be fully aware that it's not true, but we're also vulnerable enough to believe anything anyone tells us, especially if it makes us feel like we're part of some miraculous process rather than victims of an unfortunate illness.

2. Make comments about the bump looking like a basketball. One of the best things I've been told is that I'm carrying the baby all out front like a basketball. I've seen the stretch marks on my hips and thighs, so I know that this baby weight is dispersed over a much wider swath than just my belly, but please lie to me anyway.

3. Offer me your seat/hold the door/pick things up that I drop on the floor. I'm not a big fan of playing the pregnancy card, but the truth is that it's very touching when friends, family members, and even random strangers offer to help out.

4. Touch my belly. This is totally personal preference, but it really doesn't bug me when people touch my belly, especially because I've found that almost everyone asks first. I'm excited and proud to be pregnant and people touching my belly simply lets me know that they're excited about it too.

5. Tell me about your pregnancy, labor, delivery, and kids. I've been amazed at how animated so many women become when they are talking about their own experiences with pregnancy and the early days of motherhood. It's really touching to see seemingly hard-ass women melt when talking about their kids. I'm also all in favor of receiving as much advice as people want to give me. It's completely free, makes people feel like they are helping, gives me some ideas, and it's totally up to me to follow it or not.

Don't (many of these are courtesy my mother-in-law):

1. Ask a pregnant woman how much weight she's gained. I would think this would go without saying, but apparently not. There's pretty much no way in hell that I want anyone to know the exact number of pounds I've gained. I am hardly willing to tally it up myself.

2. Make any comments suggesting that she/the baby is big. This would include saying things like, "Wow, you're only 7 months along! I thought you were further along than that." or "Does your doctor tell you that he's going to be a big baby?" or "I can't believe you're only X weeks more pregnant than Jane, she looks so much littler than you." I am of the belief that pregnancy should be a nine month hiatus from feeling self-conscious about your body.

3. Insist that she take your chair/let you carry something, etc. I am always happy when people offer to help me out, but I get truly annoyed when they insist on something. As an example, at one of my showers, my aunt offered me her chair (nice). I said thanks, but that I was more comfortable standing. She made a huge fuss over it and wouldn't shut up until I took her chair. The problem is that I was truly more comfortable standing. At that time, I had a baby's butt stuck in my rib cage and standing was the only thing that gave him the space he needed to disengage his tush from my ribs.

4. Give me advice that I've already chosen not to follow. Yes, I understand that you may feel like a minivan is the only possible mode of transportation for a family, but please don't tell me this repeatedly right after I show you our new SUV. At that point, it's not advice, since I've clearly already made a decision. Instead, it's just a passive guilt trip.

5. Tell me my birth plan is stupid. The way in which women give birth is a highly personal and individualized decision and I totally respect that fact. We are planning for a natural birth, but I wouldn't consider judging someone who opts for a medicated birth or even a planned C-section. Different strokes for different folks. What bugs me is when I tell people that we are taking Bradley classes and planning for a natural birth and they reply, "Good luck with that. That'll change as soon as you feel a contraction." I just find it such a cynical response. Even if you are completely right and I cave the instance my cervix starts dilating, please be polite enough to say, "That's great. I really hope it goes how you want it to." All the doubting comments from friends, family, and strangers are actually giving me more motivation to go natural. I'm starting to dread the thought of telling some of these naysayers that I got an epidural.

6. Ask me what we're naming it. I've made this mistake myself in the past before being pregnant. It really puts people on the spot and creates an awkward situation when I have to explain that we aren't sharing names in advance. Instead, I like it when people simply say, "Are you sharing the name in advance?" This gives me the clear option of saying, "No" and conveys that the person understands that many people don't want to share the name until the birthday rolls around.

I've been mulling these over all day and hope that I have the memory capacity to follow them the rest of my life. When you aren't pregnant, it's sort of easy to forget how some seemingly meaningless comments can sting.

In other news, we had a day full of doctor's appointments on Tuesday. My GD is well-controlled by adjustments to my diet, so I've been given the go-ahead to check my blood sugar 4x per day rather than 7. We also did a growth ultrasound on Tuesday to make sure the baby's not too big since that's the risk with GD babies. Luckily, he's in the 53rd percentile, weighting 6.5 pounds right now and on track to be about 8 pounds at 40 weeks. I also got my first internal and am 1 cm dilated and 60% effaced. At 36.5 weeks, it doesn't mean much, but I'm still encouraged to know my body's headed in the right direction. If I haven't gone into labor on my own by 40 weeks, I'll have to be induced, which I'm trying to avoid because it's harder to go natural since medically induced contractions are supposedly stronger and more painful. Being dilated at all is great because it gives my midwife the space she'll need to strip my membranes at 38.5 weeks if I haven't gone into labor yet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Baby Party

Here's a video of Cashew playing in my belly this afternoon.

Work Shower

My coworkers had a shower for me this past Thursday.  It was so touching that they all thought of me.  I figured they'd all pitch in for a big gift or a gift certificate, but each and every person brought their own gift for Cashew.  We got lots of stuff, including some super cute clothes, a sleep positioner, and lots of diapers.  Between the work shower gifts and gift cards, we officially have everything we need for the baby.

I'll be 36 weeks tomorrow and am really crossing my fingers that he'll come early.  My husband is out of town this weekend going to a basketball and football game at our alma mater.  I'm trying not to begrudge him his fun, but it does kind of stink knowing that he's out drinking and hanging with the guys while I'm here eating crappy low-carb food and washing the baby's new clothes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Almost Finished Nursery

Now that we have just about a month to go, it's crunch time.  We're about 98% ready for this baby, meaning the hospital bag is packed, the baby clothes are washed, the freezer is filled with extra meals, and even the Christmas presents are purchased and wrapped.

Here are some pics of the nursery that will be Cashew's...

This rocking chair is the same one my mom rocked me in.  My friend custom made the seat cushion and "Rock-A-Bye Baby" pillow.  The fabric matches the curtains in the room.

Cashew already has quite the library started.  The shelf above the library is filled with A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books.

Brett and I painted the wall stripes.  The toy trucks on the top of the changing table were Brett's dad's when he was a kid.

Here you can see lots of Classic Pooh stuff.  Once he's born, we'll be adding his initials to the H to make a monogram. 

These are the curtains Gina made.  I love this paper lantern over the rocking chair.  I think it'll be a soothing spot for middle of the night feedings.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Great Debate

As if I don't have enough to worry about, my mother decided to take a stand this weekend and forcefully voice her opinion that we need to baptize the baby. Her first choice would be that we baptize him in the Catholic church, but I am no longer a practicing Catholic and Brett never was, so I don't want to baptize the baby in the Catholic church.

Since moving here, we've been looking for a christian church that we are both comfortable with and I think we've finally found one. I told my mom that we would probably get the baby baptized there. While she's not happy that it's not a Catholic church, her newest "requirement" is that we have a big party to celebrate the baptism. My problem is that neither Brett nor I care particularly much about whether the baby's baptized or not. We are doing it, at least partially, for my mom. It just seems disingenuous to have a party to celebrate something that we aren't really that into.

I also don't want the stress of planning and hosting a party for the baptism. Furthermore, I don't want our friends and family members to feel like it's one more thing they have to bring us a present for. They've already done so much for us.

The party is apparently super important to my mom, as is the Catholic baptism thing. She has said that the first time she is alone with the baby, she plans to baptize him herself. This just feels like a huge intrusion.

Part of me wants to take the path of least resistance and give her everything she wants just to shut her up. But, part of me recognizes that this is a decision that needs to be made by my husband and I and that her opinion really doesn't matter. I feel like she is oftentimes inserting herself into my marriage in really unproductive ways. It's like she has no respect for the fact that Brett and I need to make some decisions on our own and she needs to learn to respect those decisions.

I'm frustrated that she's bringing it up now because I have a lot to deal with anyway. Between finishing up my last weeks of work, managing the GD, worrying about the health of this baby, and finishing up odds 'n' ends before his arrival, the last thing I need is another huge religious showdown with my mother.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Since I'm Whining

I'll just continue. We had our 10th birthing class last night. This instructor has been a major annoyance to me. I'm fine with her instructing us on the Bradley birth method, but she's also been quite opinionated about non-birth things like vaccinations, circumcision, even the H1N1 vaccine. Given that she's not a trained medical professional and only has training in the Bradley birthing method, I feel like she has no credibility on other issues.

She's been advising us against the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines, at one point claiming that they aren't recommended for pregnant women, which is completely false. She's a total hippie and claimed that you'll only get sick if you allow yourself to think you'll get sick. She believes that thoughts become things and negative thinking about illness will make you sick. I think this is BS and have gotten both the H1N1 and seasonal flu shots.

Anyhow, we show up for class last night and she is coughing, sneezing, and totally hoarse. She says, "I'm sick, but don't worry I don't have a fever." I think it's totally irresponsible to invite 7 pregnant women into your home when you are sick. At the very least, she should have emailed us all to let us know her symptoms so we could make the decision about whether we were comfortable being exposed to her. Once we got there, I felt like it would be too rude to turn around and leave since she was sick.

As we left last night, my husband quipped, "I guess she thought herself sick."

Why Yes, I'd Love for You to Watch My Child

Tuesday night I visited one more in-home child care provider. I'd like to share with you three red flags that should always warn you not to allow someone to watch your child 40+ hours per week...

1) When asked why she's registered than licensed, she said, "Well, if you are registered, the state allows you to self-police and if you are licensed, they police you. Besides, it's extra paperwork, which I'm not a fan of." That's right, she pretty much said that she didn't want anyone coming into check on the safety and cleanliness of her care.

2) I asked to see which part of her home infants sleep in. She led me to her living room, pointed at it through a doorway (we couldn't go in because there was a babygate up), and didn't even turn the lights on so I could see the room clearly. If there are sections of their home that they won't let you walk through or even see, that's a problem.

3) I asked whether she thought she'd have any openings in March 2010. She said that she has an open slot right now. I, of course, said that I assumed she'd fill that slot prior to March 2010. She said that if I gave her a one-week deposit, she'd save the slot for me. That's right, she has so little faith in her ability to attract one more child that she'll take $200 to reserve a slot four months in advance.

Now, my personal pet peeve is that she had some derogatory political cartoons on her fridge. I'm generally pretty liberal and I know that not everyone is, but I don't want my child to be watched by someone who is going to push their political views on him, particularly if I disagree with their politics. In addition to the political cartoons, she started talking about health reform and how Obama's trying to turn us into Canada. Big. Mistake. I just so happen to work in health care and have a masters degree in health policy. I also happen to be very supportive of health reform. Again, I don't think everyone has to agree with my politics, but I think it would be a wise business strategy to not push your politics on parents.

So, the end result is that she absolutely doesn't have our business.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gestational Diabetes

I heard back from the doctor's office on Tuesday that I have gestational diabetes. I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the news. On the one hand, I do have a family history of type II diabetes, on the other, I'm a pretty healthy person. Pre-pregnancy, I was a pretty dedicated exerciser and generally ate healthfully, although I've always had a sweet tooth.

I've really been feeling guilty about it, like there was something I did or failed to do that made me have GD. Luckily, one of my best friends is a doctor and she has done a great job of reassuring me that since I have a family predisposition, there's nothing I could've done to prevent it. Now, I just need to focus on eating a low carb diet and monitoring my blood sugar. That's the best thing I can do for my baby.

I met with a dietitian yesterday to get a meal plan and learn to use the glucometer. The meal plan isn't terribly restrictive, but I did find myself hungry yesterday after following it. I think I need to add a little more protein and veggies at each meal in order to keep myself from getting too hungry. The dietitian was very nice, but the whole thing feels very overwhelming to me. I've had to watch my diet closely my entire life since I do have a family history of diabetes and have always teetered on the upper range of a "normal" BMI. I was really enjoying the fact that pregnancy gave me a brief respite from watching my food so closely, but the GD ends that.

Between worrying about the GD and getting ready for the baby, I just felt so overwhelmed yesterday. I tried my best to keep the tears at bay, but ended up crying in the dietitian's office, which was so embarassing. She was super nice about it, even saying, "I'm menopausal, I know hormones make it hard." I cried for a solid hour and a half after leaving her office. It was awful.

Brett and I sat down together last night and planned out three GD-friendly breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Then we went to the store and bought the groceries I'll need to stick to the GD diet. I feel a lot better now that I've had time to figure out my plan of attack.

In addition to the diet changes, I have to see my MW weekly now and get NSTs twice a week. Luckily, my boss is letting me keep track of those appointments and count them as sick leave. I get 12-weeks of maternity leave, regardless of how much leave I have banked. The only thing is that I get full pay for each day of leave that I have accrued vs. 60% pay once I run out of leave. This really isn't too big of a deal to me, though.

My MW did say that the GD diagnosis means that they will not allow me to go past my due date. Since I am pretty insistent on a natural, spontaneous labor, I asked her if we could do everything possible to induce labor naturally. I think this will entail lots of sex, walking, and her stripping my membranes at 38.5 weeks. Here's hoping this baby comes early on his own so that I can have the natural delivery I want.