Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Busy, Busy Weekend

This past weekend was a busy one for us, thus my absence of late. I'm still working on my feeding journal with Jax, we're still having some issues, and I've done TONS more research online to try and resolve things, and I promise that I'll update on that one day later this week. But for now, I'll tell you about our weekend!

First off, we only had the one kiddo this weekend. This is how our schedule works: Brent gets Tanner every 1st, 3rd and if there is a 5th Friday of the month for that weekend; I get Jenna every other weekend except for when her Dad and I need to swap weekends for this or that; and of course, we have Jax 24/7. So at any given point in time we always have one kiddo now, and possibly two or three kiddos, depending on the schedule. This weekend it was just us and Jax.

And he is doing so well at adjusting to a schedule (or maybe I should say that we've finally found a schedule that he's ok with following!) that we decided that take the weekend and "celebrate." Friday night I had my first strawberry pina colada since last Thanksgiving (that's when we found out we were pregnant) and it was yummy yummy yummy. Yes, I got a buzz! And as much as it just hurt me to pump the milk out and throw it away, I was a good mommy and did just that.

Then on Saturday, we hosted a small BBQ with some of our friends at our house. There were a few friends who still haven't managed to come by at good times to meet Jax, so we bought some chicken and fixins and fired up the grill (a cold front came through Austin and it was only in the 90's at the end of the week!) and had some friends over. A good time was had by all, and I'm proud to say that everyone respected our new status as parents and they all left around 9pm...thanks, guys!

On Sunday we took a road trip. Or just a Sunday drive, if you want to be technical. Brent found a new grouping of restaurants out in between San Marcos and Wimberly and we decided to drive out that way (towards Devil's Backbone) and check them out. The restaurants have actually been there a while now, but they're new to us and those areas are growing so much that we just spent the late morning/early afternoon driving around checking out all the changes in those areas.

I'm happy to say that the pizza and small brewery that makes up the Wimberly Brewing Co. was awesome! The establishment seems to be family owned and operated and everything that we had was yummy...from the New York style pizza, to the amber ale that Brent tried out and including the pecan brownie that I couldn't resist for dessert. It was all good - go check it out if you're in the area. There are actually three restaurants there, and we'll definitely be going back there to try out the other two!

We pulled off the road to snap some pictures of our day. Here are some of the views that we took in...the Texas Hill Country just doesn't get any prettier than this!
We also took a quick self-portrait from the top of Devil's Backbone...I swear that I didn't feel anywhere near as rough as I look!
I'm glad to say that Jax did well during the ride. He woke up a time or two to put in his two cents, but other than those brief moments, he was a good little traveler. He did wake up while we ate so that he could eat too, but in the family establishment, we were the only customers (it was late for lunch) and I think the owners said they have 13 kids we fit right in sitting there enjoying our lunch while taking turns feeding him a bottle while we ate!

But when we got home, Jax and I curled up and Brent snuck this shot in...
It was a great weekend. Did you do something nice and relaxing too?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tummy Time - Love/Hate?

Well, I'm hoping that this is normal for most I'll ask my other Moms out there and see what kind of response I get.

Does your infant love...or hate...tummy time?

Jax passed his one month mark last week, actually almost a week and a half ago so we tried tummy time for a little while this past weekend. I can't really say with any degree of believability that it was a rousing success. He does SO well holding his head up off of our shoulders now that I thought that it was time to try some tummy time. But maybe I jumped the gun a bit.

Here's some pics so that you can decide...At first he's just hanging out, not really sure what's going on...

Then he's like "Hey, what a minute...something's different here."

He does manage to lift his head up and turn it a few times, just checking out the situation...

And now he's NOT that happy with this new thing!

Finally, he's back in his "normal" position on his Boppy and he's thinking "Now THIS is more like it!"

Yeah, I know that he's still cute, Mom...but I don't really think that he was all that crazy about tummy time.

Maybe that's just the way that it's supposed to be at first. You try new things and since it's a new thing, they're not sure how to respond. Maybe he'll grow to like it. And yes, we tried it both with the Boppy and without the Boppy...there wasn't much difference in how he reacted. It was all around a "what the heck are you doing NOW you crazy lady?" look on his face no matter if I used the pillow or not.

Oh well. I'm sure it won't be the last time in his life that he has THAT thought!! LOL!

So what do you think Moms...did your little one take to tummy time immediately, or did he/she grow to love it? Or would getting one of those tummy time play mats maybe help things out? I hadn't thought about that before...or maybe am I trying tummy time a bit too early?

What do you think?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

They really do...there are some days that I consider myself to be a fairly funny person, but I kid you not that our kids (one of the three) crack us up on a daily basis. Since we don't have them all the time, I guess it's not really a daily basis, but you know what I mean.

Now Jax doesn't really say all that much yet. He's not saying anything right now, as he's been crying so long that he's starting to sound hoarse...but that's just how some days go, right? He obviously can't talk yet, but I guarantee you that he's the loudest or noisiest baby you've ever met. And I'm not referring to his crying jags. I'm talking about normal, every day baby noises. Grunts, groans, whimpers and squeals...he's got your baby beat hands down! He might not be the brightest, smartest or most ahead of his age group on other things (like some Moms, I'm not all about comparing my baby's progress to the next child's)...but he can out-grunt, out-groan or just flat out make more noise than any other baby that I've ever know. And that's when he's sound asleep! LOL!

Tanner comes up with some good ones too. But Jenna, she's the source of most of our laughter. She says the strangest things. And the funniest part of it all is that she's not even trying to be funny. Of course, once she realizes that we think whatever she did is funny, she continues to ham it up like a good little comedian. Here's a couple of her most recent Jenna-isms...

The other night we were giving ourselves a rare treat by eating out and in typical fashion, Brent and I were getting a good chuckle out of some of the other patrons in the restaurant. (Oh, don't judge, you know that you do it too! I mean, people just make it so easy sometimes!) But I guess that we're going to have to learn to be a little less obvious about it, because Jenna caught on to who we were talking about and what we were making fun of - there was a man in the restaurant that was wearing what had to be the worlds shortest pair of pants that can still be called pants on a man. And he was short to boot, one of the shortest men that I can ever remember seeing, and of course, we were making fun of his pants as we tend to do.

When out of the blue, baby girl pipes up and says "Well, maybe they're just pants for miniatures."

Excuse me, say what? Miniatures? When we asked her what she meant, she said "You know, the little short people. Miniatures." After rolling on the floor in laughter, and getting the image of life-size porcelain figurines moving around life-like, we explained to Jenna that they're not called miniatures, but midgets. Or litte people, not little short people.

We're still laughing over that one...and it's been almost a week ago now.

Or when the other day we were driving somewhere and Jax was in his car seat a bit upset about being confined, or in the car, or just upset to be upset. Who knows? Anyway, we were discussing his crying and how to soothe him, when Jenna pipes up from the back seat and says "Well, I don't know about you, but I just rub his nose and he gets real quiet. Maybe you should try that." And she just said it so matter-of-factly, like it was common sense to rub a crying baby's nose to get him to stop.

We had a good laugh at her over that one. Until later that evening when we were at home and Jax was upset about something else and sure enough, Jenna walked right over after Brent and I had both tried every trick up our sleeves to make him quit crying (to no avail) and started gently stroking his nose - top to bottom and over again. Wouldn't you know that he not only stopped crying but WENT TO SLEEP?!??!?

Yeah, turns out that she had the last laugh on that Jenna-ism! And the really funny part? It only works for Jenna. Brent and I have both tried it, and although it sometimes helps him stop crying for me, it doesn't work as well as when Jenna does it. And it doesn't seem to work at all when Brent does it. Jenna's offered him some advice on how to do it better...but that didn't help matters either!

So for all the times that they might drive you to least they provide laughter right along with it! Children are truly a blessing...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Breastfeeding 101

Is there a class somewhere that I should have taken? Oh, was that part of those birthing classes that I opted to skip out on since I've already been there and done that? Oops! My bad!

Anyway, I guess that I didn't figure that I needed all of that since I wasn't originally planning on breastfeeding at all...but I had to learn REAL quick what this stuff was all about. And I thought that I was doing good, things were going well, and he was gaining weight. Plenty of weight apparently since almost everyone that sees him makes a comment about what a "big boy" he is...I try not to take umbrage, but it takes a LOT of self-control!

So imagine my surprise when after 4 weeks go by and I publicly congratulate myself on this blog at how well things were going, that I must have jinxed myself. Because sure as shit, this week the shit really hit the fan.

Like I said, things were going well and then all of a sudden he started having problems when feeding. He would fuss and pull off repeatedly at every single feeding. He was also coughing/choking during the feedings. And don't get me started on the spit up. Oh, all the spit up. I was really confused for a couple of days, trying to sort through it all...but being too busy with back to school schedules to put much thought into it.

When I finally caught up on things (sleep, mainly) I realized that this behavior probably wasn't normal. I don't have too many friends that actually breastfed, and barely any family members to turn to, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks...I could call AW! She breastfed all three of her kids, and is on old college friend of mine. I don't know why it took me so long to make 2 and 2 equal 4, I mean, I just saw her a few weeks ago when she and her family came to town and we all had lunch one day. We had several conversations during that lunch about breastfeeding, but still it took me a little long to make the I said, lack of sleep around here lately!

I quickly called her at work to see if she could give me any advice. You see, I was under the impression that one of the advantages of breastfeeding was the lack of spit up involved with feedings. Turns out that I was just mistaken or just misinformed. AW was able to tell me that one of her boys had major spit up problems during his first year and she was able to offer me several tips/advice to try to see if they helped.

The main thing that she advised me to do was to start a feeding journal. To record details of each feeding so that I could try to take notice of any patterns. She suggested this to me, as with lack of sleep she recalls that details get lost in the mix, and she also said that if I ended up consulting a doctor about the problem then I would have the journal for them to notice things that I wasn't seeing. Her other suggestions were more common sense - feed him in a more upright position, burp in the middle of each side - not just in between sides, and stocking up on burp rags! Just kidding, I threw that last one in.

Following her suggestions, I started the journal today. And already it's helped me...I could clearly see that he's mainly having troubles on the feedings when I start with my left side. The feedings that I start with my right side seem to go easier, with less fussing and spit up. But since there was still spit up happening, I did what most people urge you NOT to do...I googled "breastfeeding spitting up" and found a whole world of information.

After reading through several websites and Q&A posts, I found a link that I thought really hit home. And as things like this often happen, that link led to another link, which led to another link. And I finally read something that sounded very familiar. It turns out that some of the other "symptoms" that Jax was having I hadn't even really tied to the spitting up problem and they might all be related. The choking, gasping and fussiness during feedings? Yeah, they can go right along with spitting up if the cause of the spit up is overproduction of milk.

Overproduction of milk? Come again? You mean that making too much milk is a bad thing? Apparently so...

Now that I've read more about this subject, I really think that this could be some of our problems. I tried some of the suggestions on dealing with this to help the feedings easier on your baby at our last feeding and surprisingly enough, it went MUCH more smoothly...with NO spit up at the end. I'll keep you all informed as the days go by, letting you know what works, more about what can cause overproduction of milk, and how we're dealing with things.

Anyone else out there having/have had problems with too much breast milk? I'd love to hear about your experience and what you did to fix the problem - both for yourself and your little one...thanks!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our "Big" Third-Grader

I put the word big into quotes because she's probably the smallest third grader in the whole school...our little runt!

Yesterday was her first day of school and there were SO many changes between this year and last year! This year she's become aware of what she's wearing and a little "fashionista" is starting to emerge - there's no longer any shopping to be done without her being present. She's very aware of her appearance this year, especially conscientious about her teeth. I can't help you there kid - thank Grammy and Mommy's good genes for those beauties! She's got a dental check-up later on during the month and I just know it will result in a consultation with an orthodontist...

This year also brought on the embarrassment factor. She rolled her eyes when I brought out the camera yesterday morning, and although she wanted me (and Jax) to walk her inside to her classroom instead of just dropping her off, she told me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT to bring the camera inside. The thought of me taking her picture of her first day of school in front of her friends was just too much to bear! Then, when we walked inside and she saw other (older) kids having their pictures taken by their parents, she conceded that I could have brought my camera too...

I was a good Mom and just went along with it...she was nervous enough as it these were snapped right before we got in the car to leave the house.
She was insistent about me walking her inside, then when we got to her classroom it was "Peace. I'm out." No good-bye. No hugs. No "I love you, Mom." Okay, I'll admit to exagerrating a bit...she did not actually say the words peace or the phrase I'm out. But she might as well have. She walked right into her room and started socializing (talking) and dear old Mom was left in the hallway.

Don't worry - I didn't let her get away with that...I made her come back out and give me a hug. But I conceded the point that she IS growing up and I did it around the side of the door so that her friends wouldn't see...because I remember what it's like to be eight years old, starting 3rd grade - the smallest one in the classroom, with the biggest front teeth!

The good news? She'll grow into her teeth and they'll give her a beautiful smile one day that everyone will compliment her on. The bad news? It'll be a few years yet before that happens!

Monday, August 23, 2010

One Month're one month old today. In some ways the time has just flown by and I can't believe that we've had you for a month already, and in other ways, it seems like you've always been here with us! Maybe that's the lack of sleep causing us to lose track of time as you've kept us hopping on our toes all month long!

But we're getting better...slowly but surely we're learning all of your signals. Which cries are for real, which ones are fake. Which ones mean "Feed Me!" and which ones mean "Change me, please!" and which ones just indicate a need to be held for a few minites. At first they all sounded the same, but you're teaching us each and we've really appreciated your patience with us while we're figuring you out. (That was sarcasm, in case you didn't get it..)

At one month old, you're really getting a handle on holding your head up all by yourself. I would say that you can hold up your head for about 30 seconds before you go all "floppy" on me again, and that's excellent progress! It helps with the burping...and your eyes aren't quite as cross-eyed as they used to be. You're starting to focus them in (without crossing them!) and you stare intently at nothing on the ceiling for long periods of time. You also stare at us, too. You follow voices with your eyes and since you can move your head so well, you follow with your head too...especially mommy's and daddy's voice.
You are fascinated (it seems) with big brother and big sister. You stare at them very intently for long stretches, which is nice because it occupies you and gives mom and dad a much-needed break every once in a while.

You are starting to smile. On cue, and not from gas. We think that in the last week we've heard a laugh/chuckle or two out of you, but it's not quite so frequent to say that you're actually laughing. But you're getting there!

You have mastered the art of rolling onto your side. Especially to the right side. Which makes diaper changes even more challenging than they already were - dodging pee and all is SO much fun! You prefer to lay on your side now, but still sleep mostly on your back as I'm a little nervous about the side-sleeping thing. Since you can move your head so well, I probably shouldn't be, but that's how moms are...

Your digestive tract seems to have settled itself within the last week. You're still taking mainly breastmilk, and the diarrhea that plagued you (and us!) those first few weeks seems to be slowly going away. You're still dirty at most diaper changes, but it's a LOT less than it was, in both volume and messiness - sorry if that's TMI! And that's helping the constant diaper rash that you had the first few weeks of your life. Does that mean that nakey-nakey time on the front porch has to stop? Oh no, no, no - you LOVE being nakey-nakey outside and I wouldn't take that away from you for anything!
So obviously we're still working on the focusing without crossing our eyes thing...maybe I shouldn't mark that skill down as "Mastered" quite yet...

You also love your bath time still, especially at the end after all the washing is done and mom/dad take you out of the infant sling and let you "float" in the water. That's your favorite thing!! (And no, he's not really floating, we're holding him in the water, just allowing him to move around freely in it...we're not just seeing if he can swim.)

You've finally got your days and nights fixed it seems...for the most part. You still like to act up once in a while and not sleep one night here and there, but that's normal too. You're sleeping 4-5 hours at a time now, which we really appreciate. Now, if you could just stop with the grunting and groaning sounds...they're SUPER loud and wake us up still during that last hour before you actually wake up. Mainly because we think that they're a signal that you're about to wake up and so we get ready to get up...then come to find out, you're just squirming around and making noise while you're sound asleep! Let's work on NOT doing that, ok? Thanks!
I think that he's thinking "Whatever, crazy lady!"

You're eating 3.5 ounces right now during the day, every three hours. And I've started slipping you a full 4 ounces in the bottle that daddy feeds you before bedtime...maybe that's helping you sleep better, huh? A full belly! You're still taking mainly breastmilk, but I've got three or four types of formula on standby awaiting my decision about whether to continue breastfeeding or not within the next week or two. The past few days I've noticed a change in my milk production, so it may be decided for me...who knows? All I know is that you're growing well...some of the newborn size clothes are getting too tight across your belly, so I know that you're being well-fed for now!

You're just too cute for words...but then again, I'm biased. You are a blessing to us...even on those hard days/nights. We wouldn't trade you for anything, and we're just so excited to see more and more of your personality show itself during these next few months!

Love you, baby boy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Some of My Favorite Things

No, not rain drops on roses or whiskers on kittens - although those things are great too!

But I'm talking about some of my favorite baby items. Some of these are things that I bought for myself, some where things that I registered for and some where thoughtful gifts from friends/family that have become things that I couldn't live without. I know that this list will change and evolve over time as he gets older and moves into different stages, but I thought that I'd share what I have been loving the most during this first month.

Here you go!
Microwavable bottle sterilizer bags - I saw these on OMGMom's blog found here. (I'm not even going to tell you to follow her, because I can't believe that there are people out there that don't know about her! She cracks me up daily!) I took her suggestion to heart and bought some of these myself, and she was right. How convenient - they're small, taking up no space in my limited-counter-space-kitchen, fold up well for travel (although I haven't really gone anywhere) and they're cheap. I got mine at Target (the Munchkin brand, but there are other brands) for like $5 - that included 6 of the bags that can be re-used 20 times. There's even a chart on the back of the bag for you to mark the uses on so that your sleep-deprived brain doesn't actually have to try and remember when you've used it 20 times. Great for bottles and breatfeeding pump parts/accessories.

Bottle Draining Tray - this is something that was gifted to me that I did NOT register for. Had I known about such a thing, though, it totally would have been on my registry! It's been a lifesaver for me, and I can't imagine washing bottles without it. Not to mention that it's SO cute because it looks like a little patch of wheat grass! My friend (find her blog here) gifted this to me, and warned me that she normally doesn't buy gifts that aren't registered for, but that she saw this and couldn't resist. I mean, isn't it the cutest? You simply wash your bottles, then put them on the grass mat to air dry. Once they're dry, I use the sterilizer bags to sterilize and then the bottles go back on the grass mat to finish drying. Every so often, I drain the water out, and it's easy-peasy. Yes, I know that you can dry bottles in your normal dish drainer, but I like having a seperate place just for the bottles. I mean, who knows when the last time I cleaned my dish drainer was? Plus, being a more compact size, this is easier to clean. I just love it and would recommend it to any new mom!

Medela Nipple Shields - I've already written about these wonderful devices here. I won't say more, you can read about their wonderfulness over on that post.

Hospital blankets - these beauties, I stole. Yep, I'm admitting that I have a problem. Although technically, Brent stole them. But it was at my suggestion. They're the perfect weight in thickness (not too cool or too hot) and unlike other receiving blankets that you buy, they're a perfect square. Which makes them the BEST blankets EVER for swaddling. Even better than those pre-preapred snuggly things. Seriously, trust me on this one. You pay for the stuff either way, so you might as well take home two or three. Or five or six like we did! We literally use one every single day. The Boppy Pillow - this has been my new BFF. He literally spent the entire first week of his life in this pillow. Yeah, it wasn't until last week (that's three weeks old) that I finally saw the big SLEEP with a big, red "X" marked across it in reference to letting babies sleep in the Boppy pillow. I hope that I'm not castrated for doing this, but I honestly didn't see the warning. But in my defense, he can't roll over, when he's placed on his back the worst that can happen is that he can get all scrunched down in the middle - but we watch him really close for that and readjust him when needed. I promise! Either way, now that I know about the sleep warning - I still let him sleep in there during the day - he just loves it so much!
Swing - this is the swing that we have by Graco. You don't have to use the same swing that we do, but I can recommend it. It was super easy to assemble and the batteries don't run out quite as fast as I was worried that they would. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to buy me some rechargable D batteries as soon as I remember to get them the next time I go to the store! Anyway, we just assembled his swing last week and so far it seems to be a hit. The swing has 6 adjustable swing levels, as well as both music and nature sounds and the cradle part also has two vibrating speeds. Love that! Most of the time when we put him into the swing, he goes right to sleep. It's not 100% reliable as a means to stop the crying, but for the most part he loves it! Thanks Mom!

So that's it for now. Like I said earlier, I'm sure that as he grows and his needs change, my list of Favorite Things will also change, but for the first month, I don't think that I could have made it without these things! I hope this helps you out!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Question for the "Pros"

I wrote here the other day about breastfeeding. I tried to focus mainly on the actual feeding process, and my own experiences with it. What I didn’t talk about was my one “problem” with breastfeeding. Which might or might not be an actual problem. Let me explain.

The feedings were going well, and the only thing that concerned me was how loose his stools were. I really hope that’s not TMI, but you’re here – you’ve read my birth story, you know that I have a baby - surely poop was bound to come up in conversation sooner or later, right? Everyone assured me that breastfed babies have very loose stools, and I tried not to be concerned. But when he was having SO many loose stools that he had a horrible diaper rash (to the point of a bleeding bottom!) I started to worry. When I discussed it with my dr and his dr, they each told me several things.

#1 – it could be my diet. Maybe he was having some problems processing dairy and I could try to cut out all dairy (or a majority of it) and see if that helped things out. My dr was quick to blame it on dairy. His dr? Not so much. She said that I could try it, but it might or might not help.

#2 – it could be the diapers or wipes. Switch brands and types. Try the sensitive ones that are fragrance free. Done and done. I prefer Huggies diapers and they seem to keep him a bit drier, in my opinion. But I will say that the Pampers Sensitive wipes are much softer than the Hggies ones.

#3 – maybe nothing would help. His digestive tract might just need some time to mature and develop a bit and then before I knew it the loose stools would disappear and he would drop down to one poopy diaper a day, just like magic. In the meantime, I should try to let him air-dry as much as possible, use creams and treat it as I could.

So I’ve been mostly dairy-free for about two weeks now. I’ve cheated every once in a while (a girl can live only so long without pizza and ice cream!) and I’m not reading all the labels for those ingredients that mean “Milk” but don’t say “Milk.” But I’m cutting the main things out – you know, the obvious ones. Initially, I thought that I saw a big improvement. Now? I’m not so sure. I took him off breastmilk for a day and a half, and fed him the special formula that’s soy-based, not milk-based to see if that helped.

Yes, he had fewer poopy diapers, but just horrible, horrific gas troubles – followed with vicious bouts of screaming. So that didn’t work, to state the obvious.

The other day, I bought three other types of formula (just small cans) to try and see if they work better. They’re all milk-based, but formulated for fussiness and gas, ones that are partially broken down already to help him with the digestive process. But I honestly don’t know when I’ll try them out. He’s been back on the boob for several days now, and seems fine. Yes, he’s still got loose stools, but with 20-30 minutes spent on the front porch having some “nakey-nakey” time the diaper rash is a thing of the past.

So I ask you, my dear readers. Anyone else encounter this with breastfeeding? Anyone else worry about the dairy in their diet, or how many loose stools there are? Or am I just being paranoid? There are days that I feel like breastfeeding puts SO much pressure on the mom – that whenever something isn’t exactly right with your baby, it’s blamed on the mother’s milk. But maybe even if he was on formula I would have these concerns – or a different set of concerns altogether. Who knows?

Does anyone have any insight or thoughts on this? Just wondering.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Great Breastfeeding Debate

Before I gave birth, I didn't talk a lot about my feelings on breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding. For one thing, I feel that this is a very personal choice, and one that each woman should make on their own. For another thing, I think that there is a lot of pressure out there these days on women to choose breast over bottle. There's a lot of criticism for not choosing the "right" option, and many other bloggers have been crucified for their choices. So I kept sort of quiet about my own feelings.

Now that my choice has been made, and I've mentioned a few times that I've been working on this post, you obiously know that I'm breastfeeding. But, like my birth story, this is not the route that I had planned on taking. I hope that by putting my thoughts on "paper" my own experiences can help some other woman out there who might be as on the fence as I was about breastfeeding.

Before I begin, let me say that I try not to judge others for their choices, or the reasons behind them, and I hope that my readers can do the same for me. If I offend anyone, please forgive. Some of my opinoins might not be your opinions, and things that matter to me might or might not matter to you. I hope that we can overcome those differences and still be friends. Basically, don't hate me if you don't agree with me, ok? Thanks!

First of all, you should know that I did not breastfeed my daughter. I had no desire or inclination to even try it, and I had heard from several women that if you didn't have the slightest inkling to do so, then you shouldn't attempt it. There were several reasons why I made the decision - no maternity leave time off, I worked in an office with only 3 other women and about 25 men, with no private area other than a bathroom that was unisex (need I say more?), and that lack of desire that I've already mentioned. So I didn’t even attempt to breastfeed with my daughter. When my milk came in, I stopped it right away.

With this pregnancy, for the first time, I wondered about breastfeeding. Like if I should attempt it and if I would like doing it. You see, as bad as it sounds, my first and foremost thought wasn't that breastfeeding might be the best for my child. My first thoughts were for my own comfort level. That sounds really mean, until you remember that I've had a child. A child that was 100% formula-fed. And she's completely healthy. She's a little pip-squeak, but that's genetics, not what she ate as an infant. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that my daughter's been healthier than several other kids her age that I know were breastfed. So when people made the argument to me that breastfeeding is the best for the infant, I already know that this argument isn't necessarily true.

Yes, there are things that breastmilk can do for an infant that formula can't. I agree with that statement. I know that there are immunities and such that can be passed from mother to child that a child cannot get from formula. But once you've had a child that made it through those first few scary years with no really horrible diseases and such, and they did it without getting any of those immunities from me, then you become a little jaded on that point as well.

See, it's not as bad as it sounds that my child's well-being wasn't first on my mind. Really.

What was first on my mind? All the horror stories that I've either read or heard about from other women who breastfed and had problems. Even those women who didn't have problems feeding necessarily still had negative things to say about what breastfeeding did to their body. To their breasts, more specifically. There's everything from cracked nipples, bleeding, teething infants, clogged ducts, milk fever, change in shape of either nipples or breasts and the list could go on and on. Just like when you're pregnant and you hear every horror story about birth defects and deformities known to man, the same happens when you tell people that you're not sure about breastfeeding.

And to be perfectly honest, not to share TMI, but I like my boobs. Sure, they aren’t as perky in my 30s as they were while in my 20s, but that's to be expected. I think that they're one of my better features of my body, and I really didn't want them messed up. I know that's selfish, I really do. And I don't mean to be selfish, but hey - it's my body. And trying to be honest here, it was a major concern for me. I don't want to do something that's uncomfortable or painful to me. I mean, making the decision to do something that causes pleasure is an easy decision. Deciding to do something that can potentially cause pain is another thing entirely.

But yet, despite all of those arguments, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me to consider all of my options. This little voice was saying "what if" in the quietest voice possible and I couldn't help but maybe listen a bit. What if I regretted never trying breastfeeding? What if it wasn’t as bad as I had heard? What if I really liked it? So I gathered information where I could, read all of the blog posts from other new moms on their experiences with breastfeeding that I could find. And I thought. Then I thought some more. And on the day of my son's birth, I was still thinking.

I know what you're thinking, Mom. Typical, huh? Yeah, pretty much!

In the end, the decision to breastfeed or not was made for me. You see, with all of the complications that I had during Jax’s birth, it was recommended that I breastfeed for my own health. Apparently breastfeeding helps the body make the uterus contract and stop clotting, and if you’ve read my birth story, then you know that I was having a problem with that not happening. Stopping the clotting was of utmost importance, for one to stop the clots and for another to conserve what blood was left in my body! I know that sounds extreme, but it’s really the truth. When faced with the options to either try breastfeeding (at least for a little while) or have a blood transfusion - the choice was pretty easy for me.

And to my surprise, Jax seemed to be a natural at it. He learned to latch on within the first day or so, with the help of the nipple shields that I’ve already talked about here. I breastfed him in the hospital and supplemented with the formula that they provided me since my milk wasn’t fully in yet. He was doing well on my colostrum and once we got home and settled in, my milk came in within a day or so. And even though I was a newbie with this type of feeding, by his two-week check-up he’d regained his birth weight plus another pound. Yea, I was doing something right!

Now the only question is how long will I continue to do this? I can’t answer that right now. I did have to find a breast-pump, my boobs are much more comfortable for me having one! I got lucky and scored a great used one off of my favorite shopping site – Craigslist. It’s a Medela pump (the back-pack style), the Pump In Style Advanced, and it came with all sorts of extras that the lady selling it threw in there. It’s easily a $300 system (not counting those extras) and she sold it to me for $85!!! Yes, you read that right. $85. It was a great score for me, and I can easily turn around and resell it myself when I’m done with it. Naturally, I went out and bought new parts for the pieces that touch me (and new tubing as well) which cost me another $35 - but still, it was a heck of a deal.

So, I’d easily be able to take along my pump when I return to work and pump there and continue to breastfeed at home. But I don’t know that I want to do that. I didn’t really have a goal set in my head for how long I wanted to be able to do this. At first, I figured that I’d like to do it for six weeks. I figure that if I’m not going to pump at work, I would need to stop two weeks before going back to work in order to get my milk stopped. And right now, I’ve made it almost 4 weeks. Will I continue past the six week mark? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.

I guess that I’ll just take it one day at a time. For now, I’m shocked at how much I enjoy doing it and how easy it is for both of us. He seems to be thriving on my milk, which is a good thing, and I know that I’m doing something really good for him, with all of the extra benefits for me! Yes, the rumors about weight loss and breastfeeding being related are totally true – I’m at least 10 pounds below my starting pregnancy weight right now and losing each day even though I eat like it’s going out of style!

If you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, I hope that this helped you a little bit. There’s not scientific facts, or sources to read and help you decide. Just my own experience with not being sure, trying it and loving it. There are some moms that go through some really tough times while breastfeeding (I totally draw the line at stopping when the teeth come in!) and there are all sorts of problems that can come up while breastfeeding. But it can also go the exact opposite way. It can be natural, and easy, and mostly pain-free!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just So "Dog-Gone" Cute!

They really make the CUTEST kids clothes, don't they? I mean, check out the little guy getting his morning bottle...

If you weren't sure how cute it really is...check out the feet!

I just smile SO big when he wears this sleeper!

Thanks "Aunt" Brandi!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Miracle of Birth

I see this picture...taken just days after he was born.

He's so small that the "coming home" outfit that we bought him just swallows him whole.

Now, nearly three weeks old, and almost a pound and a half heavier, I did you really fit inside of me? I mean, really...can someone tell me how that was possible?

I thought that by looking at some pictures of him in the hospital that it would make more sense to me and seem more possible. Maybe it was more possible then becuase my stomach was still flabby and puffy from giving birth (not that it's rock hard or anything now, I'm just saying).

But even looking at these pictures of how small he was, I still marvel at the beauty and miracle of birth. Isn't it phenomenal?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

National Fussy Baby Day???

Calling all Moms out there...was it just me, or was your baby especially fussy yesterday? Like between the hours of 1pm and 10pm? Yeah, makes for a long afternoon and evening. I hear you...

On the one hand, I hope that it wasn't just my baby. And on the other hand, I really hope that I had some company in my misery. I don't wish bad things on you all, but I was using every trick that I have in my book and NOTHING was working.

I didn't know what was going on, I've had to limit my dairy intake in an effort to relieve his dirty diaper problems and I hadn't cheated in two that wasn't it. It seemed as if all of the signs that he was giving out were for upset tummy/gas, but he didn't burp/fart before he calmed down. You know, to take a break before he started up again within 10 minutes.

So, in desperation, at his 10pm feeding last night, I made up a bottle of formula and tried that. I can't really say that it worked. He slept like a champ (according to my wonderful Aunt who stayed up with him and let me go to bed!) until sometime around 3am and then took a breast-milk bottle and went right back to sleep. Until I scooped him up around 6:30am and we climbed into my bed to snuggle a bit before his 7am feeding.

Since those last two feedings, and ALL feedings today were breastmilk...I really don't know what was going on. Which leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, it was National Fussy Baby Day and I didn't get the memo. That HAD to be the problem!

He's been good all day long today, and right now he's perfectly content after his bathtime with Daddy to lay on a blanket on the floor behind me and let me crank out a few posts...yeah, I know...regular posts...what a concept! In celebration, I thought I'd share some shots of the little guy. Enjoy!

See how happy he is tonight? Yeah, different story from last night...
He wasn't really sure what that crazy lady with the bright light was doing...but whatever!
See that mark right below his mouth? Yeah, he did that tonight while feeding...scratched himself. I need to trim his nails tonight when he drifts off for a bit...
See all of that fuzzy hair? Maybe there IS something to those old wives tales about heartburn during pregnancy means your baby will come out with lots of hair!
And here's my favorite shot of the night. I zoomed in too close, so I had to take it to black/white for it to show up...
Isn't he sweet?!?!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

May I Recommend?

This little gadget...

What is that, you ask? Well, I'll tell you - it's my new Best Friend! I'm only sort of joking...

Seriously though, it's the Medela Nipple Shield, and it comes in three or four sizes, so that it fits your niple perfectly. And I think that it has seriously made breastfeeding easier on both myself and my little one.

I promise that I'm working on gathering my thoughts on breastfeeding into a post. There are some people that are pro-breast, and some that are not. I think that I might have a unique perspective on the whole subject as someone who did NOT breastfeed her first child, but is doing it this time around - and it sort of took me by surprise that I'm doing it this time.

But while I'm still working on that post, I thought that I'd share this little guy with you. You can find it sometimes at Target, but usually at Babies R Us or a Medela dealer/store, and it retails for $20 on the Medela site online, but I'm pretty sure that I paid around $10 at BRU...but I would totally pay $20 a piece...and I have three. One for upstairs, one for downstairs and one for the diaper bag.

This shield covers your nipple area (held on by suction) and protects your nipple from some of the harsher side effects of breastfeeding. Now, it says on the product that it's mainly for people with flat/inverted nipples to help the baby latch on...I don't know about that. I've never really thought about my nipples and if they're flat or not. But they gave me one of these at the hospital when Jax and I were both learning how to feed and he was having some trouble getting a good latch.

Since then, I've seen that the shield really could be a lifesaver. Cracked nipples? Little teeth? Not as much of a problem here since you have something between your nipple and the baby. I still do use nipple butter once every other day or so, just as a preventative measure against cracks and soreness, but I've seen no hint of cracks or bleeding and I think that I'm just being overly cautious.

In case you're wondering, the shield is BPA/DEHP free...just like most bottles today, so you're safe there. And my little guy? He doesn't mind it at all. In fact, I think that it maybe helps him avoid nipple confusion when he takes a bottle of breast milk at certain times - either when we're out or so someone else can feed him while I get some zzzz's.

And those zzzz's are SO precious these days!

I just thought that I'd share that product with you other moms out there. Don't hate me if you try it and it's not your cup of tea. I like it, but maybe that's just me!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Best Laid Plans - My Birth Story, Part III

Need to catch up? Click to read Part I or Part II...

When we last left off, Jax's heart rate kept dropping with no discernible explanation for why and the dr was making the decision of whether to let me continue with labor or to prep the OR.

It didn't take her long to decide. And once she made the decision to take Jax via c-section, there was a flurry of activity within our L&D room. Nurses were rushing around everywhere, I could see Brent out of the corner of my eye putting on scrubs so that he could accompany me into the OR and I was being hooked up and unhooked to several different machines. You know, the same types of machines that I was already hooked up to but this time they were mobile.

It was literally less than 5 minutes later that they started wheeling me down the hall towards the OR. And that's when it hit me. That's when the tears started. I couldn't stop them or control them. I wasn't trying to cry, I really wasn't. But I was scared. Like really scared. When I say that I don't do well with needles, I mean that I REALLY don't do well with needles. The dr kept misunderstanding my tears and she kept apologizing to me, telling me again and again that we had tried to do it my way, and he just wasn't coming out and now for his health we had to take him this way.

Truth be told, I wasn't crying because I didn't get my way. I was literally scared shitless of being awake during the c-section procedure. Feeling the pressure as they took my baby out of me. Being awake to hear the dr ask for the scalpel was just my undoing. Literally my undoing.

We got to the OR way too fast for my comfort level, and when they wheeled me inside, they made Brent stand outside. One of the nurses told me that once they had me ready and prepped then they would be back to get him and bring him inside. So, there I am scared shitless and they WHEEL ME IN ALONE. ALL ALONE. More tears ensued.

I wasn't really aware of what was going on at this point. I know that there were two people at my head, a nurse and the anethesiologist, talking to me, working on increasing the epidural dosage to prep me for surgery and the poor nurse kept talking to me, trying to calm me down and calm my nerves. Not that it helped, but it was really sweet of her to try. And the whole time that they're doing all of this, someone is still pumping on my stomach and monitoring Jax's heart rate to keep it elevated.

Right about the time someone tells one of the nurses to go and get my husband and bring him into the OR, they test my lower extremities to see if the meds have kicked in and we're green for surgery. Imagine everyone's surprise when I let out a big old "OOOWWWWW!!!!" when they poke my left side. And it was loud, let me tell you. I don't know what they poked me with, but I felt all of it. And I really can't say who was more surprised - me or them. LOL!

Apparently, the left side of my body rejected (for whatever reason) the anethesia. My right side was nice and numb, but in case you didn't know, they can't do a c-section on only one side of your body. It has to go all the way across. The decision was then made to put me under general anethesia. Imagine my relief. It's what I had asked for all along, the total knock out, not hearing it all or feeling anything. I was told that it was too tricky to do it that way, but apparently we were at the point of no return and Jax was coming out right then and this was just going to have to be the way that it was. Period. No questions asked.

So the nurse that was leaving to go and get Brent was stopped cold by my cry of pain. Once it was announced that I was going all the way under, she had the unfortunate job of going outside to my stressed out husband and telling him that due to unforseen complications he would not be allowed inside the OR. She did tell him what happened so that he wouldn't worry too much, but he was crushed. Absolutely crushed. He wanted to be there to see it all (he's NOT a wuss like me!) and cut the cord and all that jazz, and was now being denied that privelege.

He went back to the L&D room where our family and friends were gathered and waited. Of course, he tells me that no sooner than he had taken his scrubs off and repeated the information to everyone than the dr walked in holding Jax out to him to hold. She knew what it meant to Brent to be there, and she later told us that she broke a few hospital rules herself taking the baby out of the OR so quickly to him. Of course, she was followed by the baby nurses, and Jax was in good hands.

After allowing Jax to be held for a while by his proud Dad and passed around to everyone in the room, the nurses stepped in to take him over to the baby station and start grading him on his Apgar levels/scores and cleaning him up a bit. It was at this point that Brent started asking nurses when he could go back to Recovery to see me. And that's when one of the well-meaning nurses told him that I didn't want to see him.

Which wasn't entirely true. She took my words out of context. At least she did go on and give him my full statement, which knowing me as well as he does, he totally understood. But I'm sure that at first he was still a little hurt to hear that I didn't want to see him. You see, when I came around in Recovery, I didn't know what had happened. I was really out of it, and when it all came rushing back guess what came back with the memories?

If you answered the tears, you'd be right. I was crying buckets again. Mainly because I was a little loopy and not sure of my surroundings and looking for a friendly face. Which you would think my husband's face would have worked nicely for that, right? Wrong. When the nurse asked me if I would like to see Brent, I said "No. It'll just make me cry harder. I need a few minutes."

I meant it in the nicest way possible. My throat hurt (later I figured out that this was from the breathing tube) and I knew that the tears were just making matters worse. The two nurses watching over me in Recovery were really trying to help calm me down, but I knew that the sight of either Brent or Jax at that moment was going to start the waterworks again.

To give me a little bit of credit, within 5-10 minutes I had calmed down enough and I was ready to see both of them. Brent came back to Recovery and visited with me for a few minutes, but didn't have Jax with him. Luckily, he had brought his phone along, and there were several pictures that I could view. Brent was crying, I was crying a little bit again, and we were two happy parents. I was sad that things didn't happen the way that we had wanted, but was completely over the moon that everything was ok. Jax was fine. And I was in some pain, but doing ok.

Brent explained to me at this point that the umbilical cord had been wrapped around Jax's neck. Just looped there once, and pretty loosely, so there was no great concern about any damage done, but it was the only thing that the dr could see that was preventing him from engaging and making progress towards the vaginal delivery that I had wanted.

About the time that he finished these explanations to me, the nurses needed to check out my "girl parts" and Brent opted to go back to the room (they were moving us into a regular post-delivery room) and oversee things there.

The nurses assured him that I would be in the room within about 15 minutes or so.
Except that's not what happened...stay tuned for the last twist in my birth story. I promise it's the end!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Two Week Check-ups

Well, the boy and I both had our two week check-ups this past week. I couldn't remember when newborns get their first round of shots (come to find out it's 2 months, not weeks) and I was REALLY worried about taking him since our nights have been so rough this past week! Lucky for both of us that he only had to do part II of the PKU heel stick and his pain was over. No overnight fevers or fussiness due to shots in this household - now if we could just clear up the other fussiness.

After cooing over Jax for a few minutes, my dr got down to checking me over. She offered up several suggestions to help with Jax's tummy problems, including suggesting that I go dairy-free. Not really sure how I feel about that, but if his fussiness has anything to do with his little raw bottom, I'm MORE than willing to try anything! She also suggested some different wipes, which I went out and bought, so we'll see.

My incision looked great, she removed all the steri-tape strips so that I look less like a Frankenstein on my belly and checked out my sutures. She was happy to see that most of the center stitches had already dissolved, and I'm left with just the ones on each end. But she warned me that my lines didn't exactly match up and she was disappointed with herself for that. I told her that I could really care less at this point.

You know what I was happy to see? THE SCALE! Yeah, I said it. The Scale. I weighed in on Thursday at 6 lbs UNDER my starting pregnancy weight. Wow! They say that breastfeeding really burns the calories, and I guess that I'm walking proof of it. My ending pregnancy gain was a total of 23 pounds, but you could say that it was only 18 true pounds as that last week of a 5 pound gain was more than likely water due to all the swelling in my legs. So, two weeks later, I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight plus an additional extra few pounds lost.

Now, that doesn't mean that I'm wearing anything other than maternity clothes still. Partly because my incision area is still a bit tender and normal clothes are typically low-cut, you know? And partly because in these past two weeks I haven't had to leave the house that often. Or go anywhere really important. I am fitting into some of my regular yoga pants and stretchy work-out type clothes that I don't mind wearing around the house or to run to Target in. But regular jeans? Haven't tried them yet. Maybe next week.

For Jax's appt, he did great. The length measurement is still off from what the hospital says, by half an inch. So he was either 21.5 inches at birth (according to the hospital) or he's 21 inches now and shrunk half an inch in the past two weeks (according to the Pediatrician). I think that maybe they're just not stretching him enough, but that's just my theory. Either way, he's doing well and thriving as he's gained back to his birth weight plus a little more than a pound. His official two week stats are:

Height - 21 inches
Weight- 8 pounds, 5 ounces

So for all the times that you feel like you might not be doing it all right when you have a newborn and they can't really communicate with you to tell you what's wrong, I know that I'm at least supplying him with enough food. I hadn't planned on breastfeeding, that's a whole other post that I'm working on, but I am doing it. He's eating solely breast milk, and it must be good as he's gaining weight and right on track with where he should be.

I spoke with his dr about the loose stools and diarrhea to the point of his raw, bleeding bottom (that's actually only happened once) and she suggested the normal things - air drying, lots of butt cream/ointment, and sensitive skin wipes. When I asked her specifically about the dairy issue that my dr and I had talked about the day before (I had already cut out dairy as of the day before) she was a little more hesitant to say that's what it was.

I was both relieved and worried at the same time to hear this. I was hoping that she would agree and tell me to go off of dairy products and that would explain some of his fussiness at night. But she thinks that his days/nights are just mixed up and that my diet doesn't have anything to do with it. But she also said that it might help, and couldn't really hurt to try it and see. She was also a lot less strict about it, and said that it might be a slight intolerance to milk products and told me that I could still have SOME dairy, just not as much as normal. And she also said that with some experiementation, I might even be able to pinpoint it to specific dairy products, such as milk might bother him, but cheese doesn't.

That was nice to hear, because I honestly don't know how long I can go without pizza. I'm just being honest! I'll do it for his sake, as long as I can, but living without pizza? I don't know. And ice cream? Ooh, this just sounds harder and harder every time I think about it.

But really, I'm on day 3 and it's not that bad. I'm not being strict about it, like I know that our margarine does have whey (milk) in it, but I still use a few dabs on my toast and waffles. But I have avoided cheese and milk for the past 3 days and it's ok. I'd love a DQ Blizzard, but I can also still live without it for now.

So I'll make do with snow cones - I must get one today! - and just dream about eating ice cream for a little while longer. I should either see an improvement or no change at all within a week or so, according to both of the drs, and I can decide at that point whether to continue to cut out dairy or to keep eating it.

Have you had to change your diet while breastfeeding? Did it really make a difference? I know that this lady has had lots of luck with cutting our dairy from her diet, but I don't think that my little guy is anywhere near as fussy as her little boy was being, so I don't know.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"First Bath"

Well, I'd be lying if I said that Jax got his first bath today...that was last week. But today he got his first bath when Mommy remembered to bring her let's just pretend and let this be his "first" bath, ok? OK!

Jax REALLY enjoys his bath. He does great "sitting" in his little tub-thingy and enjoys the actual bathing process. It's the getting out part that he doesn't really like - must take after his Mamam, huh? Lord knows I spent a good quarter of my pregnancy in the tub...LOL!

Since I didn't remember the camera until he was out of the tub, here's some shots of him "being a froggie"...
I'm telling you, as long as he's all wrapped up, the world is good!
And here he is all ready for bedtime...don't you just love these sleep sacks??? I do!
Nightie night!

The Best Laid Plans - My Birth Story, Part II

Did you miss out on Part I? Read it here. Then come back!

After calming down a notch (or twenty) we headed off to the maternity ward of our hospital. We had finished making our phone calls, my parents were starting their long drives to get here in time, and Brent's parents were going to pick up and keep Tanner for us and collect our hospital bags for us. We had done all that we could do up to this point, and there really wasn't anything else to do except check in, settle in and have this baby!

We walked up to the nurses desk, and true to her word, my dr had already notified them of our pending arrival. They had a room all ready for us, and showed us where to go. I was instructed to disrobe, put on the hospital gown and get into bed - the nurse would be back in a few minutes to start the check-in procedures.

Check-in procedures. Yeah, read "start your IV." Which for me, was the second biggest thing that I was dreading. Yes, I know that you have to have an IV, as I've done this before. But I didn't like it then either. My biggest fear? Ending up in the OR for a c-section. That involved more than needles. There's scalpels, staples, breathing tubes, lines and incisions. Ugh. I'm getting the shivers just typing out the words.

Anyway, we explored our L&D room a bit - it was pretty large, and Brent was really taken with the baby's corner of the room where the warming tray and lights were already set up and all. He thought that was just the coolest thing ever! And he kept saying over and over "Babe - imagine, our baby boy is going to be here (gesturing with his hands to the baby bed) in a few hours!" There was a large bathroom with a double-size shower, and a closet full of laboring tools such as birthing balls, etc. Not to mention both a rocker and a couch that folded out to a full-size bed. Don't get all excited, Brent assured me that it wasn't nearly as comfortable as a real bed!

We settled in, me with my back naked for all the world to see, and waited for the nurse to come back. When she did, she settled in at her computer to input all sorts of information about both of us and the baby and our pregnancy thus far. She warned me ahead of time that she had 50 million questions, and she was right! It took almost an hour, but at the end of it the hospital knew everything about me, Brent and the baby that they could possibly need to know and more.
Then came the consent forms. Everything that I was being admitted for had risks associated with the procedure, from the aversion therapy to the induction process, and I had to sign my life away on three or four short forms. After signing the forms and consenting to the treatments, you're pretty much done. Signed, sealed and delivered. Or soon to be delivering?

The nurse had warned us before the game of twenty questions started that the aversion therapy session was going to run a bit later than they had originally thought. My dr wanted to have an anesthesiologist on standby in case I couldn't deal with the pain - just what I wanted to know right then, right? And the anesthesiologist on call that night had just gone into a surgery that would last about an hour. So, the dr wasn't planning on coming in until the good drug dr was ready, and that gave the nurses plenty of time to admit me and prep me.

By prep me, read "start IV line." I had pre-warned the nurse about my troubles with needles and sticks and she came prepared. I think that she brought not ONE extra nurse, but TWO! I guess she took me seriously, huh? One of the nurses, Becky, proclaimed to have an anti-fainting trick up her sleeve and wanted to try it. Her trick? To open up an alcohol wipe and hold it under my nose (kinda like smelling salts) to give me something else to focus on. I have to admit that it worked. I got a little weak-behind-the-knees at one point, but held on and pushed through it just like a big girl. I would say that I had my big-girl panties on, but I've already admitted to being nakey-nakey beneath my gown, so there goes that.

Once that was done we settled in to wait. Around 8pm my dr came in and told us that it was almost time to start. She offered me the epidrual from the get go, but I chose to try to make it through without anything. Don't ask me why, I honestly don't know. I mean, it's been my experience in the past that when you're in labor and someone offers you drugs, it's ok to say yes. I guess maybe since I technically wasn't in labor yet I didn't want to take them? Who knows.

Either way, she gathered the nurses, had me sign off on one last form and positioned the bed and Brent to where she wanted them to better assist me. Then she picked up that tube of gooey stuff that they squeeze on you during your sonograms and took the cap off. Yeah. The cap came off. And the ENTIRE contents of the bottle were then put onto my baby bump. I think that it was at this point that I started making jokes about the process being sort of like a "massage." The fact that the dr and both nurses started laughing should have clued me in. Not that I really thought that it would be like a massage for real, but I was trying to lighten the moment and it worked.

She rubbed the gooey stuff around on my belly and then positioned my bed all the way down so that she had a good position to start pushing Jax around and then she began. I would like to say that I completely remember all of the details about this process, but I don't. It hurt. A lot. But it wasn't unbearable. She pushed and pushed and then would pause and give me a rest while leaving pressure on my belly to prevent Jax from going right back. She gave me big breaks at each quarter turn that she completed, but I couldn't wait for the last quarter turn to be done and over with.

The great news is that the aversion therapy worked like a charm. Sure, it hurt a bit, but honestly it wasn't as bad as I had been expecting. I wouldn't recommend it over a picnic in a park, but it had to be done and it worked beautifully. Now that Jax was in the right position, head down, he needed to engage and not turn around. Which meant that my water had to be broken.

This is a small point that I missed during the previous talks with my dr. I knew that being induced meant having Pitocin to initiate contractions, that much I knew.

What I didn't know is that before they start the Pitocin, they break your water. Or maybe I should say with my unique situation that meant that they needed to break my water first. This would prevent Jax from turning back around into his favorite position (transverse) due to the lack of fluid allowing him to turn. You see, when she did my sono back in her office, she also measured my fluid levels. Apparently you have to have a good amount of amniotic fluid left in order for aversion therapy to have a better chance of succeedng. Normally the week before your delivery date, your fluid level measures around 10. I had 18. (I'm not entirely sure about what the water is measured in - Liters, Gallons, whatever - so I'll refrain from saying what it is. Either way, normal was 10 and I was at an 18.)

I'll be perfectly honest here and tell you that her breaking my waters hurt a HELL of a lot more than the aversion therapy. I meant a LOT more. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that while she was down there trying to speed things along, she also stripped my membranes. Then she used the big "crochet hook" to break my bag. Or maybe I should say tried to break my bag.

Some fluid came out, but not the big gush that she was expecting with my fluid levels. She didn't think that she got a good puncture out of the procedure, so she left me for an hour to see what would happen and then come back to check me in an hour. In the meantime they started the Pitocin on me to get my contractions going.

Right before all the excitement started, my friend T (MOH) got to the hospital so she was there for all the procedures and to help Brent take my mind off of things while the hour long wait passed. Brent's parents had also been by to visit for a minute before all the "fun" began so that we had our things. We were sending texts out to family and friends to give updates, and knew that we were just playing a waiting game at this point.

My dr returned to check me an hour later. As she had suspected earlier, she did not get a good break on my water, so we did the procedure again. It wasn't really any less painful the second time around, but it was slightly better since she didn't have to strip my membranes. This time, when she was done, there was the expected big rush of fluids out and the nurses proceeded to "pack me" with towels. I guess that I should mention that I was not allowed out of the hospital bed from this point forward as they were having troubles keeping the monitors where they needed to be.

Even though the nurses were good about moving me around from side to side and trying various positions to help me labor better/easier, I got stiff as the night wore on. I was having contractions regularly, like every three minutes, but I wasn't really feeling much pain. Of course, when the nurses checked me, I was only dilated to 2 cm. I was making progress, and Jax was staying where he was supposed to be, but it was slow going.

By 1 or 2am, I was feeling the contractions and breathing through them. My Mom and step-dad had arrived right after 11pm, and my Dad and step-mom had also gotten there. As my Dad has his own motorhome, and that's what they had traveled in, they left early on to get some rest. Around 1-2am, I had decided that I was ready for the epidural. I was measuring 3 cm at that point, and my dr had already signed off on me receiving the epidural. The anethesiologist came in and got to work. Now, I don't remember much about the process of receiving the epidural with my daughter's birth. Mainly because the anethesiologist had an assistant who had rather large breasts (very buxom) and all that I remember was that she grabbed my face and planted it into her cleavage. So I was a little distracted through the actual epidural process that time around.

There was no assistant this time, and I was very aware during the process. It didn't really hurt, but wasn't completely comfortable. At this point though, I wanted some relief and some sleep. And I really wanted some food. I had last eaten at lunch, and I was allowed all the ice chips, water and popsicles that I could eat. But let me tell you, those popsicles were a lifesaver! Just not really all that filling.

By 2am, everyone else had left except for Brent. My Mom and step-dad and T had left to go to our house to get some sleep. My step-sister was the only person left, and she came in for a bit to visit until I started to drift off. Brent and I both tried to get some sleep, but with nurses coming in every 30 minutes to check this or that, sleep is hard to come by.

Around 4am, things started to get really interesting. The baby's monitor had started going off every 5-10 minutes. Now, when it would go off, nurses would rush into the room and re-adjust the monitors on me to try to get a better reading on his vitals. Around 5am, the dr had been notified and she visited us to check out the situation for herself.

When she did a pelvic check on me, she noted that I was dilated to 4cm, but the baby had not engaged or descended very far into my pelvic canal. And even though the Pitocin had been administered all night, they kept having to shut it off when the baby's heart rate would drop. So I was having to start back at level 2 on the Pitocin every hour or so. In other words, we weren't making much progress.

She said that she would give me another hour to try to make better progress and she increased the Pitocin to 10 to try to help me out, but warned me that if in an hour I hadn't made progress that we would have to discuss other options. The baby was not responding well to either the positions, the Pitocin or whatever and his and my well-being had to be put first.

During the hour that passed, the nurses tried all sorts of positions for me. Although I'd been given an epidural, I still had control of my legs and could help them move me around. We tried my left side, my right side, on my hands and knees.

But no matter which position that they put me into, within a few minutes Jax's heart rate would fall again and they would all rush in to massage my belly. When I realized that the dr rubbing my belly and making me rock back and forth on the bed was sort of like CPR through my belly, I understood that the situation was maybe a little more serious than they were totally telling us.

Don't get me wrong. Our dr was honest with us from the get go. But I think that she was trying not to alarm me or cause me any distress that might also affect the baby at that point. But when I got what was happening and that unless she was rubbing/rocking my belly his heart rate was falling, I knew that we were in a little bit of trouble. I knew then that thiings were serious and we were going to have to make some serious decisions. Fast.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Best Laid Plans - My Birth Story, Part I

You know by now that I'm the type of person who likes to know what's going on. I like to have a plan, even if it's just a loose one. It doesn't have to be intricate and detailed, but I like to have a general idea of what's happening. Call it controlling, call it Type A personality, call it what you will - that's just me. And I approached my upcoming birth no differently. I didn't do a lot of research, as I'd done this thing before, and my vision really was just that things would go a lot like last time. You know, I would have some contractions, feel the time getting closer, my water would break, then we'd go to the hospital and have a baby.
Simple. To the point.

My "birth plan" if you could call it that, had two main bullet points: I wanted drugs and Brent wanted to cut the cord. Beyond that, the rest was just details that I didn't have any need or desire to know about. Easy, peasy.

I'd like to tell you that I got exactly what I had envisioned or what I wanted. That would be a GREAT story to tell, even if it would be a bit on the boring side. Boring is ok with me, by the way. But I don't have a boring birth story. I got the exact opposite of my "birth plan." I had excitement, drama, high emotions. You name it. I had it.

So here goes. My birth story.

It all started innocently enough. I wrote here about some problems with increased swelling, which prompted an emergency visit to the drs office to be check for pre-eclampsia. If you read that post, you know that they checked me out and sent me home, with instructions to come back the next day for my regular weekly appointment. It was my 39 week appointment. I went home a bit disappointed, but relieved that nothing major was wrong with either the baby or myself.

The next morning, it was all that I could do to get out of bed. I was literally dragging as far as energy levels were concerned, but I could feel the need to go into work for as long as I could so that I could wrap some things up. Deep down inside, I just knew that things needed to be as wrapped up as I could get them today, just in case. I went to work, did my thing, and was relieved to get finished by 11am. I knew that staying until my normal time of 1pm was out of the question, as my legs were starting to swell right above my ankles already and all the "fun" stuff the day before happened between noon and 1pm. My goal was to be on my way home before noon, and I was able to leave around 11am.

I came home, settled into bed, and took a quick nap. My alarm went off at 1pm so that I could wake up with enough time to make myself some lunch before a 2pm conference call that I couldn't miss. I made a grilled cheese sandwhich and had some Pringles, and then dialed in for my call. It ended around 2:30pm, which worked out well for my 3pm drs appt.

Just as I got into my car to leave the house for my appt, Brent called to tell me that he was running late. He had been sent home earlier during the day due to lack of deliveries needed that day, and had gone to lunch with his Dad while I took my nap. While at lunch, his boss called him back in to work, and he had to go in to make two "quick" deliveries. Those deliveries ended up taking almost 2 hours, and he was calling to tell me that although he was done with his last delivery he was about 30-45 minutes away. He was rushing as fast as he safely could manage to make it to the drs office in time, but realized that being there at 3pm was out of the question.

I encouraged him to drive safely and take his time. I reminded him that the week before we had had to sit in the waiting room for an hour before being seen in the back, and that he probably had plenty of time.

Yeah, you know how this is going to go, right? When I walked into the drs office to check in, there was one other person in the waiting room. And I wasn't early. Yeah.

I spent ten minutes in the front before being called back. I texted Brent to let him know and proceeded to be weighed and measured. You know, the fun stuff. Turns out that it's not so much fun to get weighed during week 39. The scale was showing that I had gained 5 POUNDS in one week. Now, for some people maybe this isn't alarming. But for someone that had gained a total of 18 pounds through the WHOLE pregnancy, this was alarming. Then I looked down at my feet and knew the reason for the big gain. My friend, water. Once again, despite laying down for the past 4 hours, my legs were swollen all the way up to my knees.

Which meant that I had to pee in a cup again. I was slightly more talented at accomplishing this task than I had been the day before, and managed not to pee on my hand. Probably just luck, not skill. While they tested my protein levels again, my blood pressure was checked (normal) and I was all set to wait another 20 minutes to see the dr. Thus buying Brent a little more time.

And she walked in 5 minutes later. It was REALLY not my day!

We talked for a few minutes (as I hadn't seen her the day before) and discussed that although the swelling was uncomfortable and slightly alarming, all other signs of pre-eclampsia were missing - which was a relief. Then she took out her tape to measure me. And got quiet. When she started feeling around my belly in different spots and making "hmmm" sounds, I couldn't take it any longer and I asked what was wrong.

She said maybe nothing, but had I felt any large movements in the past few days. I answered honestly that the last day or so there had been a decrease in movement altogether, but had felt nothing that I would classify as "big." This apparently was the wrong answer. She told me that she wanted to hook me up to the fetal monitor to count movements, but that first she needed to take a sonogram to confirm her suspicions.

As I got settled into the sono room, she confided in me that she felt that Jax had "disengaged" and was free floating again. Further bad news revealed that he was no longer in the head down position favorable for birth, but that she thought that he was sideways. Now, if you've been following along for any length of time, you might recall that him being breech has been my biggest fear all throughout this pregnancy. I don't really know why, other than normally when babies are in the breech position, it leads to a C-section for delivery, which I would be trying to avoid at all costs. Me and needles are NOT friends. Ergo, me and major abdominal surgery would also NOT be friends.

When I said something about him being breech, the dr was "nice" enough to correct me and explain that Jax was not breech - breech is feet down. Jax was apparently nice and happy in a transverse position - totally sideways across my abdomen. And Jax wasn't JUST transverse, he was also backwards, with his butt to my cervix. The most completely unfavorable position for birth possible. Any type of birth, by the way, even a C-section from this postion was almost impossible to safely deliver as there would be nothing for the dr to grab onto to pull him out once she had me opened up. At least, not without "feeling around in there to find something" and possibly doing some damage to me.

At this point, I asked her to stop talking. I was FREAKING OUT!

She concentrated on the sonogram pictures that were coming up, and was happy to report that she was right and Jax was transverse. And backwards. I'm not sure, but I think that she was expecting me to be happier for her being right. That didn't really happen.

By now she could see that I was freaking out, not that I was trying to hide it or anything, and she suggested that we call Brent. I had mentioned when she first came in that he was on his way but running late. As he's only missed one appt throughout the whole pregnancy, she understood my need to have him there, and wanted him with me before we started discussing options. Since she wanted me to spend half an hour or so on the fetal monitors anyway, I could call him and tell him to hurry and then we could do the monitoring while we waited on him to arrive.

Naturally, getting a phone call that he needed to hurry because the dr wanted to discuss "our options" was enough to send his speedometer up another level. It was already running pretty high. He arrived in less than 5 minutes, much to my relief. I tried to explain what I knew at that point, but as it was very limited information he wasn't satisfied and we were both anxious to see the dr.

Luckily, she came in right away to talk to us. She explained to Brent again what was going on with Jax's position and why delivery of any type would be difficult.

Then she started in on our options. Since I was at 38 weeks, 6 days I could technically be induced the next day or midnight that night since that's when I would hit the important 39 week mark. (It's a hospital rule or something.) But that option wouldn't be recommended as he wasn't in the right position. She strongly encouraged one of two other options.

Option 1 was to allow her to attempt to turn Jax around into the right position. It's called manual aversion therapy or something like that. She explained that the process to us, she would admit us into the hospital right away then come down once I was all checked in and attempt to turn Jax into the right postion from the outside. This mainly involved pushing him around through my stomach with the use of sonogram gel to make it slick and "easier" on me. She explained the risks of this option being that he could turn back around before I went into labor, or that Jax might not respond favorably to being pushed around and she would have to go in and do an emergency C-section.

Oh, and turning him around meant turning him in a 3/4 circle since he was backwards. You see, his head was on my right side, so she would have to turn him head up, then head to the left, and then finally head down towards the pelvic region. Just so you get the full picture.

The pros to this option would be that the aversion would work and Jax would get into the right position. That I would stay admitted to the hospital and she would induce me immediately in order to hopefully keep him from turning back around. I might be able to deliver normally (vaginally) and stay far away from the OR.

Option 2 was to schedule my C-section for early the next morning. I could go home and relax for the night (as if!) and come back at like 4am to be admitted and readied for surgery that might be a little more difficult due to his position.

To sum it all up for you, all roads seemed to be leading to C-section. Because my dr was VERY honest about the slim chance that I had of the vaginal delivery that I was wanting. She was willing to let me attempt it, but also honest enough to tell me that it might not be doable. We both knew that the options were really broken down into two steps, with the first step being doing the aversion therapy to turn him. Either way, letting her attempt that first would give Jax and I a better chance, no matter if the birth was vaginal or C-section. After only a moment of eye contact between the two of us, with no words spoken, we agreed to let her do the turning and increase our chances at a safer delivery.

She released us from the office and told us to move our cars around to the front of the hospital and go straight to the Maternity Services desk and check in.

Wait. What? You mean NOW? As in, right now, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 or your bags from the house NOW? Oh. And that's when the tears started.

As I left the drs office, I was trying really hard not to cry, but totally not succeeding at it. The tears were streaming down my face and Brent was trying unsuccessfully to console me. We made a few phone calls - parents, work, friends and such - and I cried through it all. As I talked with my Mom, I totally lost it and wailed out "I know that it's going to be OK, but this is NOT how I pictured this happening?!?! This isn't what I wanted!"

Because you know, it matters what I want at this point...yeah, not so much.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Best Laid Plans - My Birth Story, Part IV

If you need to catch up with where the rest of us are, click to read Parts I, II, or III of my birth story.

When the nurses pulled my gown up and my whatever was covering my "girl parts" down, they were apparently checking both the incision and the bleeding issue. I was packed down with towels and those monster pads pretty well, and when they pulled everything off, I saw the concern on their face.

Apparently there was a lot of blood. Like a LOT a lot. Not just a little more than normal, but a LOT. And mixed in with the blood were some clots.

Now clotting is nothing new to me, I usually clot during my normal periods. And clotting (as it was explained to me by the nurses) is a normal reaction in the body to the trauma of the wound created during the c-section. And you normally want your body to clot. Except after having a c-section? For whatever reason, after birth you DON'T want clots.

If you don't want clots at all, you definitely don't want large clots. Which is
what I started passing. Let me describe the size to you like they told me. Baseball size.


The one nurse called for back-up in the form of Becky, the head nurse to confirm what she was seeing. Becky rated it more the size of a golf ball, which is better, but still pretty large. And then, sorry if this is TMI, right about the time that they're all standing around staring at me, they changed my dressings/pads and then I passed an even larger clot. Becky rated this one the size of a baseball for sure.

So the dr was called back. Because apparently this is a serious thing. When I finally got someone to give me a second and give me some answers, I was told that if the clotting couldn't get under control then I would have to go back into the OR for a second surgery.

You can imagine my reaction. Yep, you got it. Tears. I didn't WANT another surgery, dammit. I'd already had one that I didn't want - there was no way in hell that I was having another one. The dr came and looked me over, ordered a new Pitocin drip to help my uterus contract from the inside, and assigned two nurses to stand there massaging my uterus from the outside.

Let me let you in on a little secret. If you've gone through aversion therapy, almost 10 hours of labor, and then had major abdominal surgery the very LAST thing that you want is someone massaging your uterus from the outside. But I didn't really get a vote at this point. And let's face it. A little pain and discomfort was WAY worth avoiding another surgery, right? Right.

I don't really know how much time passed. I was given all the ice chips that I could eat and at some point while they were monitering me (I'm guessing after several hours had passed and I should have been out long before now) a nurse came and asked if I wanted to see my Mother. Actually, she laughed and told me that my Mom was demanding to see me and didn't care if I wanted to see her or not. You see, I'm still her little girl no matter how old I am, and she needed to see for herself that I was ok.

I can't remember if Brent came back for a second visit before or after my Mom came in, but like I said, time kinda stood still for me back in Recovery while we waited to see if the Pitocin and the massage therapy were going to do the job or not. My loved ones were very concerned. Not only was there the threat of another surgery, but by this point I had lost a lot of blood and there was some talk about a transfusion being needed. Another thing that I didn't want. (This really wasn't my day of getting what I wanted, was it?)

Luckily for me, I made progress, enough to be moved out of Recovery and into my room to be around our family and friends. Unfortunately for me, once they moved me and got me settled all that water and ice chips came back up. Like repeatedly. I'm pretty sure it was at this point that I banned all pictures being taken of me. I felt like death warmed over, was sure that I smelled and looked like it, and didn't want any record of my appearance at that moment. Call me vain, I don't care.

They gave me a shot of something for the vomiting/nausea and another shot of something for the pain, and slowly by surely the room kind of cleared out for a bit. I think that I got a little nap in and once I was awake again, I felt like a new woman. I was ready to hold my baby, ready to see my family and friends that had been with us all night and through the long day (it was past 4pm at this point, and I went in for the c-section at 6am). Our other kids showed up, our family welcomed in the new addition and I was cleared for a dinner of clear liquids.

Keep in mind that the last time I had eaten was 28 hours earlier. I was thrilled to order that chicken broth, apple juice and Jell-O. It was the best dinner I had eaten in a LONG time, I tell you! Once my dinner arrived, most of our guests left us to get some rest and we settled in for the first night with our new little one.

Of course, before I could go to bed, the nurses had me get up out of bed and walk around...they don't mess around I tell you. They want you up and moving as soon as possible! I'll admit that although I didn't like the first nurse that made me get up, she was right and each time that I got up afterwards was easier and easier.

Besides, the sooner that I could make it to the bathroom and back, the sooner my catheter could be removed and I could take a shower! Woohoo! It's the small things, I tell you.

So that's it. That's my birth story. I know that it was long (Sorry - you know that I'm long-winded), but believe me living through it felt even longer. Of course, here I am almost two weeks later and Mother Nature is working her magic on me and making it not seem all that bad. Sure, I didn't get the delivery that I wanted, but the dr assures me that if I did want to have another little kiddo, that I would be a good candidate to try for a vaginal delivery at that point instead of having to do another c-section. It doesn't seem as bad now as it did then, and I have a beautiful baby boy in return...I couldn't be happier!

Jaxon Paul - Born July 23rd at 6:13am