Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A story I wish I read 4 or 5 months ago

I've gone back and forth about whether I wanted to blog about this. It is, after all, about my boobs. And being the good Christian girl I am, I'm not supposed to talk about my boobs to the general public. However, I wish someone would have shared this story with me. So many of my friends have new babies or are pregnant. I just want people to know it doesn't always go like what you read in books.

That said, if you're a guy, please feel free to skip this one if you want ;)

I wrote before about how I was meeting with a Lactation Consultant a few days after Lorelai was born. In the beginning, nursing sucked SO bad. Cracking, bleeding, tenderness. It was excruiating. I pumped or gave her formula just so I didn't have to nurse her. I dreaded feeding her. But I had my baby buddies to talk to and we all seemed to be in the same boat. It sucked for all of us.

What was different for me is that I kept telling my Lactation Consultant "I don't think my milk has come in yet". One of my baby buddies told me hers came in while she was in the hospital. That suddenly she bumped her boob and it was hard as a rock. I kept waiting for that moment. 2 weeks after Lorelai was born, I just had to accept that that moment was not happening for me. My milk was in. I just couldn't feel it. At all. I never engorged. I don't feel a let down. I don't know when breast is empty or full. I just have to guess. But everything you read talks about let down and women who leak at inopportune times and you HAVE to make sure you empty one breast before offering the next. I felt like everything I read or knew about breastfeeding didn't apply to me.

About 2 weeks after her birth I had a follow up appointment with my midwife. I explained to her the pain that I was feeling trying to feed and how she had a bad latch I couldn't seem to correct. She checked her mouth and said she had a really strong lip tie. She told me about her son who had one (that went undiagnosed) and how she nursed through it but when she became pregnant at 10 months, he wasn't able to bring her supply back up to continue nursing. Then when he was older he had to go through 2 years of speech therapy. I knew that even if it didn't solve our nursing problems I wanted to get it fixed. It may save us some speech therapy down the road.

So I suffered through nursing until we could get in to see the doctor for her lip tie. It never ever stopped hurting. In fact, when we went to Vermont before Christmas they started hurting again so bad I thought I had an infection. They also started bleeding again. Other than that, I just got used to the pain and accepted that that was how it was going to be.

I always had this nagging feeling about my supply though. I always felt like I was making just enough while everyone else gets this great abundant supply in the beginning (I'm sure women who suffer from mastisis wouldn't use "great" to describe it- goes to show you there's always 2 ways to look at things). I was so nervous about going back to work. I always felt like my breastfeeding days were numbered. Like any day was going to be the last day I could keep up. I built up a small freezer stash of extra milk. Sometimes it would take me 3 days to pump enough for one bottle. Sometimes I could put back two bottles a day. It was never consistent. When I started work, I had 28 bottles worth in the freezer. It sounds like a lot but considering she would need 5-6 of those per day if I wasn't nursing, it's not that much. If I could pump enough for 2 bottles each day, I could nurse her on my lunch breaks and I wouldn't need my freezer stash. But if I only pumped enough for one bottle, we'd have to use a freezer bag. I only had enough to do that for about a month. So every day I had this pressure on me to pump enough for the next day. For the first week, I did it. Then the weekend came and I actually had an extra bottle or two. Slowly, after a few weeks, I was actually 5 days ahead and got to start freezing again. I was ecstatic. I could breathe. I wasn't under so much pressure to get 10 oz/day.

Then my grandpa died.

While I halfheartedly pumped in Ohio, it wasn't like when I pump at work. When I pump at work, it's during times when Lorelai would be nursing. So when I'm with her, and I'm nursing, I don't really have the opportunity to pump. Not much anyway. I did manage to freeze two bags when I was there. Those got us started my next day back to work. But a week of being off scheduled really wreaked havoc on my supply.

Oh and did I mention she decieded to have a growth spurt in the middle of all this?

So last week was my first week really back on schedule. Pumping was no going well. During my morning pumping session I was only getting 3-4 oz, where I used to get 5-6. I had to pump twice a night to make up the difference so she had milk for the next day. My supply wasn't bouncing back. And then, the daycare needed to use two of the freezer bags because she was so hungry two afternoons she needed an extra bottle. And then Friday. Friday I only pumped 1 1/2 oz that morning. I went home Friday with 3 1/2 oz. It looks me until 3 AM Monday morning to pump enough for her to take to daycare yesterday.

Yesterday morning I pumped less than 2 oz. I sent her to daycare with only one bottle today. It was a very humbling moment for me.  I was talking to one of my friends about this yesterday. It hurts my ego more than anything. My elitest mentality. I knew so much about breastfeeding before I actually tried to do it. I was so cocky. I read all the literature. Everything you read makes it sound so simple. Everyone can breast feed. It just takes work. Drink this. Take that. Do this. Then all your problems will be solved. Even the LC subscribes to this idealistic, you'll pump as much as she eats, scenario that just hasn't been the case for me. My breastfeeding story doesn't sound like everything I've read. And honestly, I don't know what it's like to be bad at something I really want to do. 

Want to know what I've tried. Well here's the list I sent the LC:

-Nurse on demand
-Skin to skin
-Baby wearing
-Different nursing positions
-Manual pump (Medela)
-Dual electric pump (pump in style)
-Hand expression
-Not wearing an underwire bra
-Not wearing a bra
-Drinking 100+oz of liquid every day with 64+oz of it being water
-Mother's Milk tea
-Lactation Cookies with oatmeal, brewers yeast and flaxseed meal
-Eating oatmeal for breakfast
-Pumping while looking at pictures of Lorelai
-Pumping while watching videos of Lorelai
-Massage breast while pumping and nursing

So last night I scheduled another appointment with the Lactation Consultant Honestly, I don't think she can tell me anything I don't already know. But maybe she has some new herb for me to try or something. Or maybe I'll respond better to a hospital grade pump. I'm going to give it one more try. But now, more than ever, I feel like my days are numbered. You know, because I numbered them. On a calendar. 34 more work days until Lorelai is 6 months old. 25 more bags of milk. 

And I'm really trying hard not to struggle with the idea of her having formula, because I fully support other moms who decide to formula feed and I realize now that there's a lot that goes into deciding to give your baby formula (at least for some women). And some women don't have much of a choice at all. But I can't get over that "breast is best" mantra playing in my head. And it stirs up all those feelings of inadequacies from my childhood and if breast is best than, by god, Lorelai needs breast. Because she is going to have the best of everything  because I didn't and I had to work really hard to prove myself and to make people accept me. 

And it's absolutely baseless- I know that in my head. I just can't convince my heart that she will be ok, just like every other baby in the world who was fed formula. There are lots of smart, healthy babies who had formula. And I'm not even talking full formula. I still plan to breastfeed as much as I can. And it's not like she hasn't had formula before. I supplemented in the beginning. In those hard days. And I was nothing but thankful for every doctor and formula company who sent me those samples that I snubbed my nose at before she was born. But it was a convenience. I didn't HAVE to. Now I feel like I'm being forced into it. I just hang out here in limbo between being relieved by the burdon of trying to make this work and being really disappointed in myself because I can't make this happen. It has everything to do with me and hardly any to do with Lorelai.

On the way to work I kept thinking about how I could only give her one bottle today. And "Need You Now" by Plumb came on the radio and I realized I hadn't surrendered this to God. I've been trying SO HARD to make this work by myself. I just need to let it go.

So I'm sharing my story. In case someone else is struggling like I struggled. I'm giving myself, and you, permission to let it go. As a mommy, it's my job to make sure that baby's tummy is full. Whether its fast food chicken nuggets or organic grilled veggies. Sometimes you just can't cook dinner. Nourishment. That's the end game. Not my ego.

"Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Teach your parents well

DISCLAIMER: This is probably one of those topics I'm not supposed to share with other people. Aren't we all supposed to pretend like things are shiny and perfect in our lives? Well, here's a bit of honesty for you. Well, I guess it's really more for me. But it's not my most shining moment, I'll say that.

I've spent the night cleaning. The mood strikes me every now and then I the piles that I normally pay little attention to suddenly need to be cleaned up immediately. That struck me about 5:30 tonight- I needed everything clean.

As I was lifting the cowhide rug in the livingroom to give it a shake and sweep the floor, I started thinking of my mom. She bought it for me the Christmas we moved into the house. I asked for it specifically. I always wanted one. Craig hates it and I love it. Mom thought it was an odd request, but one she granted, none the less.

So as I thought about Mom, it struck me: I miss her.

That may sound odd, since she died almost 7 months ago. Honestly, I blocked so much of that because I was pregnant that I haven't really felt much about it. I didn't really allow myself to process it. I couldn't dwell on it because I felt like the fact that I didn't have parents anymore might just consume me. I had to focus on getting a baby safely into the world. I didn't have time or the energy to fall apart. It felt weird that she wasn't here. I felt shock. Disbelief (big time). I feel a void. I thought of her often. I felt urges to call her. But it was hard to say I missed her.

Honestly, it's hard to grieve for someone you've already grieved. My mom was never the same after her third DWI. Her husband and I have talked about it and we both believe some sort of permanent damage was done. She would talk in circles, telling you the same thing over and over or asking you something she already asked you. And she wasn't always able to come to logical conclusions on things. It was more than our normal not seeing eye to eye. She was different. And it was hard. And she was very depressed. And lonely. She had been my entire life, but it had increased in severity the last several years of her life. I honestly can't count the number of times she threatened to kill herself. And I tried and tried and tried to get her to turn things around. To get out of the house. To volunteer. To get a job. To start a hobby. To stop taking all the pills. To stop drinking all the diet coke. To stop drinking. To eat well. To love herself. But I couldn't. She had to make all those decisions for herself. And she wouldn't. So I stepped back. I put up walls. I came to terms with the situation- this is how she is. This is how she's always going to be. This is how she chooses to live her life. All I can do is support her when she makes good decisions and hope they stick. And unless she asks, I'll try not to say anything about the bad. The mom I knew who baked hundreds of cookies at Christmas and dressed nice and fixed her hair and makeup everyday and loved to dance and have a good time- she wasn't there anymore. And though she said she told everyone she knew how proud she was of me, she used to talk about me to my dad or my brother. Resentful of the things I achieved or did. She said I was spoiled and she thought that I thought I was better than everyone else. Holier than thou, she liked to say. She started to hide things from me if she knew I didn't approve of them. Not well, mind you, but there was a definite wedge between us.

So when she died, I was shocked. I was sad. But it was hard to miss her. It was hard to miss so much bad.

But as I swept the hallway this evening, I realized it's been long enough now. I've healed some. I miss her.

I told Craig when she died that it was kind of a blessing in disguise. There's no question that both of my parents had their faults. And it broke my heart that Lorelai would never know either of them. Would never see me in either of them. Would never understand. But now, she just gets to see this shiny pristine memory of them. She gets to know them by the good stories we tell. The pictures of happy times. She won't be awakened by phone calls at midnight like I was sometimes. She's spared from all of the yucky stuff. She only knows what we tell her. Wouldn't it be nice if people only knew the good things about you?

When my dad died, the memory of his frail cancer filled body was so fresh in my mind that I didn't think I would ever remember him healthy again. I couldn't- I tried. When I thought of my dad, it was a shell of who he used to be. Then slowly, I started to remember him happy and full of life. And all that bad is still there. I don't think I'll ever forget that. But when I think of my dad, it's all good things now.

The same was true when Mom died. When I thought of her, I thought of the bad, even though we had had a couple good weeks towards the end. But I'm finding it easier to remember her kindness. Her love. And I miss her. I don't know that I'll ever feel closure about it. She was gone too soon. I never had a chance to say goodbye. But I can say, without hesitation now, that I miss her.

I've said since Dad died that time doesn't heal all wounds. But maybe it does heal some of them.

Monday, January 6, 2014

8 weeks later

Well, I started this blog 2 days ago, when she was 8 weeks old, but she had other plans in mind. We've had a few sleepless days in a row. She sleeps great at night, but unless we take her on a car ride, she does not nap during the day for longer than 5 or 10 min at a time. I like that she's awake but she still doesn't have much interest in toys and she can't sit up and doesn't want to sit in her swing or bouncer long, so it means a whole lot of snuggle time, which is a sweet but makes it really hard to get anything done. Friday I wanted to make chicken spaghetti and she was giving me a hard time. I had her in the carrier, but it's hard for me to reach things when I'm wearing her and I figured boiling water probably wasn't safe for her to be that close to, haha. She was screaming at me when Craig walked in the door. I said "oh thank God! Here!" and handed her off so I could stir and hold the bowl at the same time, haha.

Two weeks from today will be my first day back at work. I thought I was coming to terms with it, but I had a mini panic about it last night (you know, at 1:30 AM- when you think rationally about everything). It overwhelms me to think about trying to keep her on breastmilk while I work. I can't pump enough at one time to cover what she eats at one time. We nurse fine. She gets plenty. She's gaining tons of weight. We're all good there. I hate that I need to jeopardize that so we can live more comfortably. I don't want to. I want to keep living in baby land, where we stay in bed till 9 AM, and I don't have to get dressed if I don't want to (or she doesn't want me to, haha) and we can nurse, and read books, and pretend to play, and cuddle all day long. Because soon she will be playing. And crawling. And learning so much about the world around her. I want to teach it to her. I want to be the one who shows her new things, takes her new places. I want to be the first person she crawls to. I don't mind that the sink is full of dishes and there is laundry on the couch and that sometimes I have to lay her on the rug in the bathroom just so I can pee. I would take all of that any day over being at my office 8 hours a day.

And I don't even know who just typed that. That's not me. That's not the Alison who graduated in 3.5 years because she worked her ass off all the time (21 hours my last semester!). That's not the Alison who had dreams of wearing a pantsuit and heels and carrying a briefcase into a downtown high rise, making the big bucks and driving a fancy car. I always, always wanted to have children. But I never tried to merge those two worlds. I always pictured myself as a really successful businesswoman and a great mom, but not at the same time. I don't know why. It never crossed my mind that I had separated them like that until now. I never pictured what my life would be like as a working mom. And I think it's really unfair that I have to do both now.

Have to is a strong word. Craig and I have always been fairly conservative financially. When we bought a house, we made sure it was one we could afford on one person's salary, just in case. But we pictured that as an emergency situation. Something temporary. And we have goals now. We still need to pay off our cars. We want a boat. If we still live in Louisiana, I want to put Lorelai in private school. All of Craig's family lives on the other side of the country- we want to see them occasionally. That all takes money. And I want to see my husband. I don't want him to work around the clock. So I tell myself that I have to sacrifice something good for something better. Life will be much more comfortable if I have an income. And maybe one day when we don't have car payments and we don't have to pay mortgage insurance on our house, we'll have more breathing room and I won't have to work so hard.

Or maybe by then I'll have it all figured out. I'll enjoy living in both worlds. Most women seem to. I thought I'd be one of them. I thought I'd be one of the ones who said "oh by 6 weeks I was ready to go back to work!" But I'm not. I like my job. I like my coworkers. The company I work for is fantastic. I still feel like I finally have everything I worked so hard to get (and I don't have to wear a pantsuit and heels!). I just don't want someone else to raise my child.

We travel to Ft. Worth (again) tomorrow for her lip tie procedure. I had one of those ah-ha moments last week when I realized my benefits have all reset since it's a new year so now I can use my Flex Spending card for the procedure instead of cash. It was one of those moments that I really felt like God orchestrated. The procedure is a little over $500. We originally had it scheduled for the day before we flew to Vermont in December. The horrible ice storm kept us from making it to their office though.

So we flew to Vermont and on our way home the next week, I got a text from our office manager saying she had to talk to me that day. So I called her from the Houston airport. There was a misunderstanding in my Short Term Disability payments. Basically, instead of receiving 6 weeks of pay while I was out, I was only going to receive 4, because they counted the first 2 weeks (in which they don't pay you so I had taken vacation time). I had already planned to take 2 extra weeks unpaid. This meant I would have to take 4. I had had approximately 3 hours of sleep the night before and had just gotten off a 4 hour flight with my newborn. This news hit me so hard I was ugly crying in the middle of the Houston airport. According to the disability company, I should be coming back to work 3 days later. The thought of going back to work that soon, and losing out on money I had meticulously budgeted for was so overwhelming in my sleep deprived, emotional state.

But we got home, I ran numbers, and I saw that we would be ok. And I breathed. But it made us tighten up.

So when I realized I didn't have to use our cash for her appointment, the lightbulb finally went off. I was so upset when we couldn't get to Ft. Worth that I had to hold back tears the whole way home from Dallas (I cry a lot these days, haha). But it turned out being a blessing in disguise because money ended up being tighter than I thought and because I couldn't get back in until after the first of the year, now we don't have to use our cash for the appointment. A blessing in disguise.

So I'm going to try to savor these last weeks. And keep telling myself I'll still have weekends. Craig works Saturdays so every Saturday will be Mommy Daughter day. And keep begging my boss to change my schedule to 4-10s so I have an extra day at home with her.

She is growing like a weed. She rolled over 2 weeks ago at my friend's house, which I read she isn't supposed to be able to do for a few more months! She had done it the night before too, but I had her chest laying on a pillow on her tummy time mat so I thought she had just used the pillow for leverage. The girls at the office think she's teething too. She's smiling more every day, but I still can't tell if it's intentional or not. She stares at toys, but won't reach out for them or hold them yet. She loves being read to. We read a lot of books. And she has a great bedtime routine. We swaddle her, I make sure her tummy is full (before or after the swaddle), then put her in her bassinet. I read her a story, then turn on some white noise and give her her paci. She doesn't always go right to sleep, but she lays there content until she does. No crying. We're not a "cry-it-out" family. She's way too young for that. If she cries, it's because she needs something (usually food!). She usually sleeps from around 10 or 11 until 5 or 6 before she needs to nurse. She nurses for 8 minutes or so then goes right back to sleep for about 2 hours. Works great for us. Like I said, it's just during the day where she doesn't want to sleep.

Speaking of which, someone is up from her carseat nap...time to eat!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

21 Days of Lorelai

Hard to believe she's actually 3 weeks old today. It doesn't feel like we've been home for 3 weeks. More like 3 days. I feel like things are still that new. Still that hard. Of course, it's been a busy 3 weeks. That probably contributes to my feeling of time loss.

So when she was born, my brother was still living with us. We tried to get him his own place before she was born and things didn't work out. I never minded him staying, and was actually really thankful for the help, but I felt like we should be bringing a baby home without me having to worry about keeping a shirt on all the time, ya know? I'd have enough on my plate. So he was still with us when she arrived.

As you other mothers may know, the baby isn't the only thing that arrives. The baby brings this emotional roller coaster that for the most part, has been more like a kiddy ride for me. I've been lucky- no uncontrollable sobbing or anything. Until my brother moved out. Whoa did I take that hard. Seeing the guest room empty for the first time, I walked in and looked around and cried. I felt like it was my child moving out. I felt like I was losing my brother. It was so hard for me to think about not seeing him every day. And I know in my head that I'm not being logical and that there's no reason for me to be sad but I couldn't help it. And I kept on my brave face, but it made me tear up more than once during those first few days.

The roller coaster has also made it hard for me to find my place in my marriage since the baby is here. Craig adores her. And when I watch him with her, it makes me so happy that his is my husband. That has been, hands down, the best part of having her here. But sometimes, I start to worry. Does he like her more than me? Does he still like me at all? And we're SO busy being Mom and Dad that we have basically NO time to be Wife and Husband. And for almost 6 years, that's what we've been. Very affectionate, very touchy feely, kissy kissy, Husband and Wife. I've never had to share Craig with anyone else. I was the center of his world. I got all the attention. And now, I don't. And sometimes, if I'm being honest, that makes me sad. I miss being Wifey sometimes. And I know this is just a phase and pretty soon we'll be able to go to bed at the same time and kiss each other goodnight, but in those rare moments where we can finally cuddle on the couch I realize how much I miss it.

And nursing...whoa. I read all the horror stories before I had her. I messaged my friend April and asked "Is it really THAT bad? It sounds terrifying!" She assured me that it wasn't. I wasn't that lucky though. Blisters, scabs, excruciating pain. That's what nursing has been like for me. I finally broke down and fixed her a bottle of formula (thank God Enfamil sent us samples!). I've been supplementing with one bottle almost every day since, either because of the pain, or because I'm not brave enough to nurse her in public yet.

So I called a Lactation Consultant. She came over and spent a few hours with us. We worked on getting her to latch better. And sometimes, it's not so bad. Then when I had my checkup with my midwife I told her about the troubles I had had. She took a look at realized Lorelai has a pretty strong lip tie, which can be pretty easily corrected, but the only person she had to recommend was in Ft. Worth. She told me about her son, who had lip tie before she knew what it was. He was her third so she was much better at nursing than me and they just worked through it, but he, like Lorelai would often get frustrated and pop off and scream. Then when she became pregnant with her next, her son couldn't nurse enough to bring her supply back up so she had to wean him at 10 months. Then, when he was older, he ended up having to go to 2 years of speech therapy because he couldn't make the "mm" sound. So she highly recommended we get it fixed. I'm hoping this is our missing link. The pain is still really intense when she latches on. She gets frustrated. It's been a challenge to say the least!

You can read about lip tie here: http://theleakyboob.com/2012/11/the-basics-of-tongue-and-lip-tie-related-issues-assessment-and-treatment/

But overall, she has been such a good baby. We've only had 3 or 4 long nights where she didn't want to sleep, or stayed up for 4 or 5 hours. She isn't very fussy. We treated her for gas for the first time last night when we couldn't figure out why she was screaming. It was our first inconsolable moment. The Gripe Water seemed to help. She calmed down and eventually went to sleep. She does good in public because she pretty much just sleeps as long as we time everything right. She's more alert now. Her eyes make me melt! She makes the cutest faces! I love when I'm carrying her chest to chest and she lays her head on me. I love rubbing my face on her head. She's a great snuggler. I'm looking forward to her being more interactive!

I have all my birth pictures loaded onto my computer now. I wanted to share a few with you, because I know at least a few of you will be interested. If you're not, you can stop reading now ;) Here's some pictures from 3 weeks ago:

Labor at the birth center with Craig and Kyle

Contraction! Craig liked to time them still- I didn't care anymore, haha 
Midwife adding water to the birth tub


Another contraction

SO over it...

The midwife and her assistant coaching me through labor at the hospital

I like that you can see my monitor in this one

I love the look on my face here, haha

Oh Thank God it's over!

Oh... hey baby!

They convinced Craig to cut the cord- love the look on his face!

Finally sinking in what happened...

Doctor still working away...

 love this one

Our new little family :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

There and back again...the tale of Lorelai

Well if you're reading this, you probably already know that Lorelai is here. What you don't know is what it took to get her here. So here's our story (and I didn't sugar coat it, but hopefully you expect that from me)...

Lorelai was due Friday November 8. Only 4-5% of babies are born on their due date. I never ever ever would have thought she would be born on her due date. Not only because of that statistic, but because of my weight. Overweight women obviously have more fat cells and fat cells store estrogen and the more estrogen you have, the longer it takes for your body to go into labor. From the very beginning, I knew she was going to be late.

Friday morning at midnight I woke up needing to go to the bathroom. Nothing unusual. But I was feeling some pain. I assumed I was uncomfortable and may be having some gas too. I went back to sleep but woke up again at 1 AM. More pain. About 1:30, I decided I was having contractions and should probably start timing them. The first one I timed was 51 seconds long. The next one happened 9 minutes later and lasted for 55 seconds. Ok. Looks like these are significant. It was clear I wasn't going to be able to sleep so I got up. They started out slow, but there was a build up that got a little painful. Nothing I couldn't deal with though. I double checked the note from my midwife: call her when contractions are under 10 min apart and over 30 seconds long. It may not be "it", but it could be. I needed something to do. What does any fat girl do while she's timing contractions in the middle of the night? Start making sausage balls, of course. So I started mixing them up and got two trays in the oven. Though they were inconsistent, my contractions were all around 10 min apart. I thought we should at least give the midwife a heads up. I went to wake Craig at 3:30. I told him I thought we should call the midwife because I had been having contractions. He was very confused. He asked what I had been doing and I told him "making sausage balls". He said, "are you pulling my leg right now?" No! I showed him my timer app. I reiterated that I thought we should call the midwife. He said, well, I need to take a shower! I was like, it doesn't mean we're going to see her, it's just to give her a heads up. He still wanted to take a shower first. Ok honey. I went back to my sausage balls.

After Craig took his shower, we finally called the midwife around 4 AM. Charlotte, my midwife, told me to call her back if anything changed and if they spread out to around 15 minutes apart to try to get some sleep because I would need it. Ok. I told Craig I wanted to go up to my office. It was supposed to be my last day of work so I had a few loose ends to tie up but I didn't want to be timing contractions at work. Plus I hadn't slept all night. Craig took me up to my office so I could take care of the last minute items I had on my plate, sent a few emails to co-workers and my boss, and said goodbye to work until next year.

Before we got home, my brother texted us. He's been staying with us and while we were gone, the dog woke him up barking. He sent a text to see if we were ok. We were pulling into the driveway so I went in and got back to my sausage balls. Kyle came out of his room and said "Don't you people ever sleep?" We filled him in. He asked if he should call into work and we told him no, that this could go on for a while and I assured him that we'd still be there when he got off work. Craig decided to stay home with me though, just in case, so around 6 he called in sick. My contractions were around 13-14 minutes apart by then so I decided to try and get some sleep.

I dozed off and on from 6-8. Word was starting to spread so the texts had started coming in. I focused on resting as much as possible. I fell back asleep around 10:30 for another hour. Craig slept too, but he slept until like 2. I was getting restless. The contractions were getting more intense and losing their "build up". Unfortunately they weren't getting any more regular. Sometimes 6 minutes apart, sometimes 13. Super frustrating. I was hungry and convinced Craig to take me to IHOP. Got some food in me and came back and got in bed. Waiting, waiting, waiting. From 9:30-10:30, all the contractions were less than 10 minutes apart, sometimes 3 minutes, sometimes 8 minutes. No consistency. We decide to call the midwife at 10. She tells us to time for 30 more minutes and give her a call. At 10:30 she tells us to head over to the birth center. It's finally go time!

We arrive at the birth center around 11. Kyle follows us over. Bre and Laci meet us there. My contractions are pretty painful at this point. I no longer care about how far apart they are. Not my problem anymore, haha. We finally make it to midnight Saturday. Lorelai had officially missed her due date.

For the next 7 hours, I labor at the birth center. The midwife checks me around 12:30. She says I'm dilated to a 3 or 4 and completely effaced, which she says is a big deal for a first time mom. I Google what it means because I have no idea. I am in serious pain. She doesn't want to let me get into the birth tub until I'm dilated to a 6. So I lay in bed in the birthing room. Nothing provides any relief. I think about all the techniques I read about, all the birth stories I read. I think about women who say bending over or being on their knees helped. I think about women who say they walked through the pain. I think about women who swayed or rocked through the pain. Nothing helps, not even a little. It's just relentless pain. Around 5 AM, Charlotte checks me and says I'm at a 5 and that she'll let me get in the birth tub for 2 hours. She's a little concerned about my blood pressure and things the tub may help. She said if I don't dilate and if it doesn't bring my blood pressure down, we're going to have to talk about transporting to the hospital.

I'm ecstatic about being able to get in the birth tub because I'm convinced this is the magical pain relief I've been waiting on. I climb in and do feel instant relief. The first contraction comes. Much better. Then the second...ok, that hurts more. By the 3rd or 4th contraction, they hurt just as bad as they did out of the water. I try leaning over the side. Nope. Not helping. I try to just focus on how good it feels between contractions to be in the water. I'm miserable. I get out of the tub and go sit with Craig on a lounger. I'm exhausted. I just want this to be over. Charlotte comes to get me shortly after. My blood pressure did go down some, but I'm still at a 5. I think this is never going to be over. While I was in the tub, Charlotte received the results of the 24 hour urinalysis she had me do earlier in the week. My protein is a little above normal. She's concerned about keeping me at the birth center in case I need treatment after birth. She tells me we need to call my doctor and head back to Shreveport. I am too exhausted to care.

We call Willis Knighton and find out my doctor is not on call. Again, I'm too tired to care. I just want it to be over. Charlotte encourages me to eat something on the way since I won't be able to eat when I get to the hospital. We drive through McDonalds and I order a smoothie and some oatmeal but only get the smoothie down. I'm having really intense contractions on the drive to Shreveport. Miserable. Tired. We finally get to the hospital and walk into labor and delivery. I'm trying to explain to them that we're transporting from a birth center and that my midwife is on the way but that I'm one of Dr. Bellmann's patients. I have no desire to talk to anyone and have a hard time getting out sentences. They finally realize and start barraging Craig with questions. I tell them I'm dilated to a 5 and they have me put on a gown so they can check me. The nurses decide I'm only a 3. Great. I've regressed. Awesome. However, they check my chart and luckily Dr. Bellman had put in a note for them to call her directly if I came in. I'm thankful. It sounds like I don't have to have a stranger deliver the baby.

The nurses come back after they talk to the Dr. They tell me I have 3 options. I'm in no mood for 3 options. The only option I care about is getting the baby out. They explain to me that I'm not "technically" in labor and that if I had come in off the street they wouldn't admit me. Excuse me?! Not in labor?! Look you can call if what you want, but I've been having contractions for 30 or 31 hours now. I'm in terrible pain. Don't tell me I'm not in labor. Luckily Charlotte comes in. I'm looking to her for clarification. I don't understand what the crazy people are saying. Charlotte had told me there were pain medicines they could give me by IV. That sounded fabulous! Sign me up! They decide to start me on an IV of Demerol and phenegren. Then depending on how I progressed, they would start Pitocin. The Demerol knocks me out. However, it has NO effect on the contractions. Now I can barely focus on anything between contractions. I live in this painful world where all that exists are contractions. I have an IV in one hand, a blood pressure cuff on my other arm and a pulse oximeter on my finger. I literally just keep thinking, this is never going to end. This is my world for the next 6 hours or so.

Charlotte and her assistant Miranda try to coach me through the contractions. I just want to cry. Nothing makes them better. And they start making me be in different positions. They all hurt. No relief. I'm vaguely aware of Kyle, Bre, and Laci. I reach out for Craig's hand, or anyone else, when I have contractions to feel a connection to something besides pain. I keep thinking about the book I read to prepare me for labor. There's a chapter called "The Compassionate Use of Drugs and Epidurals". Two hours in a row they have checked me and I've dilated 1 cm during each of those hours. I feel like it's still going to take 3 or 4 hours to get to 10. I can't do this anymore. I tell Charlotte I can't do it. She tells me she thinks I can. Everyone around me is being so good and so encouraging. They tell me I'm doing a great job. I just want to cry. I just cannot handle anymore. I decide I want an epidural. I need something to relieve the pain. They tell me it could be 30 minutes before the anesthesiologist gets there. It seems like an eternity. They tell me I have to be absolutely still during the epidural. They have me practice while we wait. I have to internalize the pain to keep from flailing. I'm not sure I can do it.

I'm still not sure, and don't want to know, how they administer an epidural, but it sounded like gravel being ground between the discs in my back. I just kept telling myself, relief is coming! After each contraction, they told me, this could be the last one you feel. I clung to that. I finally laid back down. But I kept feeling contractions! Only now, it was just on the right side of my pelvis. They think the medicine didn't make it's way over so they have me lay on my side. As soon as I roll over, my contraction quickly changes from just pain to having to push. I can't verbalize how I'm feeling. I think someone will notice the change in my breathing. No one seems to. I keep pushing when I feel the overwheling need to. I have to get off my side. I try to tell them. They tell me the doctor will come back and try to adjust my epidural. When he comes back, he asks where I'm feeling them. I want to show him but I'm laying on my side. I can't think of the words to tell him. He asks if it's in my pelvis and I say yes. He tells me the epidural won't help with that, it can only help with pain in my abdomen. No relief. He asks a nurse to check my dilation. 9 1/2. They decided that while I was receiving the epidural, I transitioned. I finally tell them I want to push. They call the doctor.

I have NO interest in waiting for the doctor. I want the baby out and I want her out now. I don't understand why everyone is standing around. I don't want to wait. I want someone to come stand at the end of the bed because I'm getting this baby out. I ask "where is she?!" because she's taking too long. Charlotte tells me to do what my body feels like it needs to do. I push. The doctor finally shows up and they prep me. They tell me that they want me to push for 10 seconds, 3 times, during my next contraction. I remember reading not to do that and think "I'll do what I want" in my head. The contraction comes and I push. They tell me to take a deep breath and keep going. I don't want to. But I do and I feel like the baby is here or pretty close. One or two more pushes and finally, the baby is out. It's over. Thank God it's over. They lay her on my chest. I just so relieved it's over. I look at Craig and he's tearing up. Only then to stop to think about what just happened. We have a baby girl. I focus on Craig. His reaction was the best part to me. I try to take everything else in. I just keep thinking how glad I am that it's over.

So at 3:47 PM on November 9, our baby girl made her entrance. 38 hours after I first started timing contractions. 6 lbs, 5 oz, 19 inches long. Healthy as can be. She's so soft and snuggly. I love that. And I love how Craig is already wrapped around her finger.

I am still physically exhausted from the long labor. My arms and shoulders ache from bracing through contractions. My chest is sore from trying to breathe through them. I know it will take a while to recover from that. And as soon as she was born, my blood pressure dropped down lower than it normally is, so we ended up having nothing to worry about. Since I was healthy and she was healthy, they let us go home yesterday. It felt so good to sleep in my own bed!

So now we're working on getting into our new routine. Nursing has been really challenging, to put it nicely, so we have a Lactation Consultant coming by tomorrow. Then, hopefully, the really hard stuff will be behind us and I can really enjoy her. I'll be glad when the hardest problem I have is only sleeping 3 hours at a time. I have to say, I'm really looking forward to that.

Thank you so much for everyone who has sent us a sweet message or called or texted. We appreciate everyone so much. Thank you for your patience while we focus on us for a little bit. We'll be back in touch with everyone soon :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gummy Bear: 39 Weeks

Gummy Bear: 39 Weeks!

Baby is: 6-7 lbs or so. Not much wiggle room. Head down and facing my spine. Dropped a few weeks ago. Taking her sweet time coming to meet us though ;)

Cravings: Sweets! I want cookies or something for dessert like every night. I'm fine during the day but I always want to end the day with a sweet. And milk. Been drinking a lot of milk!

Aversions: Nothing really. Nothing really sounds good, but nothing really grosses me out to think about

Drinking: Water, Milk, V8 V Fusion

Clothes: Comfy! Mostly pants and t shirts.

Gender: It's a girl! Full steam ahead on the hairbows, headbands and ruffly bloomers!

What I miss: My hips/pelvis not hurting.

What I’m looking forward to: My last day of work before maternity leave! 5 more days!

I didn't realize it had been 6 weeks since my last update, but I hadn't updated because everything seemed so monotonous. However, I've learned I should really be thankful for the monotony. It means nothing "bad" has happened.

I made a brief post about my two birth buddies yesterday on Facebook. When we started sharing news that we were expecting, I found out 2 other people were not only expecting, but due the same week I was! All with our first. It's been so nice having two people so close to me, going through the same things at the same time. Two people to compare and contrast with. Two people seeing difference health care providers that we could all compare notes with. Two people who's stories and backgrounds were much different than mine. I never felt alone. I didn't realize until yesterday how comforting that was.

Two and a half weeks ago, my first birth buddy, my sister in law, went in for her routine weekly appointment. She had not been feeling well and was in a lot of (what seemed to me) unrelated to pregnancy pain. Neither of us knew why her arm or her jaw would be hurting. She seemed miserable though. At her appointment, they found out her blood pressure was high and sent her for some tests to see if she had developed preeclampsia. It's pregnancy related high blood pressure. The only "treatment" really is to get the baby out. There's some things you can do to mitigate the problem, but the only solution is to give birth. So they decided to induce her. Her blood pressure was so high that they had to put her on medicine and monitor her a while before they could try to induce. For me to be on the other side of the country, it was very stressful. We had grown pretty close throughout pregnancy, emailing almost daily. Now I felt so cut off. And scared! We were in this together! We were going to have our babies together! And if she's being induced that means her baby will be here any time. That means my baby could be here anytime! I'm not ready for that! So I teetered between wanting to know what was going on every minute and trying to give everyone up there some space and not bug them. My Mother in Law did a good job of giving me updates though. My SIL ended up having something much more serious than preeclampsia. They diagnosed with with a life threatening variant called HELLP Syndrome. I read up on it here. How scary! It was time to get the baby out as quiclky and safely as possible. They did try inducing her but she didn't progress fast enough, so my adorable niece was born by c-section while I was sound asleep in the middle of the night. I was thankful mommy and baby were both safe and healthy. It was stressful for me to be so far away though.

So my first birth buddy had a c-section. The one thing I am most terrified of. People say I'm brave for wanting to do things naturally. It doesn't feel brave to me. It feels normal. People having c-sections seem brave to me. That's terrifying. But I realized one thing when I found out my SIL was having problems- I'm more ok with it than I thought. I just kept waiting for them to do it so the baby was here. I thought that even if I was in a similar situation that I would be heartbroken and distraught about needing a c-section. But I had a peace about knowing that was the best thing for her. I know that sounds silly, to have a peace about someone else's birth, but it helped me realize that if I was in that situation, it wouldn't be as distraught or heartbroken as I thought. THAT is what doctors are for. Emergencies. That's what they do best. She was in the best possible place she could be. And while I still don't want to be forced into one unnecessarily, I know that if one becomes medically necessary, I will cope with that better than I thought.

Two weeks passed from my SIL's routine appointment that turned into a birth. My other birth buddy is an old friend who now works with me. My appointments are on Tuesdays, hers on Wednesdays. After my run of the mill appointments Tuesday, we joked about hers. How you're only there for a few minutes. How no one was going with her because she would just be in and out and there was nothing for anyone to be there for. Boring. Routine. So she goes in for her boring, routine, should be in and out appointment. The doctor's office was running behind so she texted that she wouldn't be back to work that afternoon. Not too long after that though, we found out her blood pressure was up and they were keeping her for observation. Still not that uncommon. They ended up telling her to be on bedrest for 24 hours and I believe had her doing a urine collection. Thursday was pouring down rain. I texted her to tell her she "picked" the perfect day to be on bedrest! I was jealous, haha. She had her appointment on Friday morning at 9. On Friday I texted her that I was anxiously awaiting an update. Not too long after, I received a text that the baby was born by emergency c-section at 8:30 that morning! What?! Panic set in again. Her baby's here. I'm the last one now. OMG. I'm not ready for this! And what happened last night?! I waited until I got home last night to check in. She said she went in around midnight because her blood pressure went up. They induced her but his heart rate dropped so they ended up doing a c-section. So crazy! Her blood pressure has been better than mine this whole time! Then all the sudden, bam! Baby! It still boggles my mind how fast you can go from normal and routine to an emergency situation.

So for me, I'm just trying to remain calm. On Wednesday, my feet decided they were done being normal. I now have seemingly permanent sausage feet. Trying to be thankful they waited this long. I have literally everything prepped that I can possibly think of, and then some! In the past few weeks I have:

  • washed all the baby clothes, towels, sheets and blankets
  • arranged and put away all the clothes
  • cleaned, hung and put away everything in the nursery
  • installed the car seat in my car
  • installed a car seat base in Craig's truck
  • put a waterproof cover on my mattress
  • sent all the thank you cards for gifts we received
  • put together the swing
  • installed a walk through baby gate
  • ensured she has warm clothes for our trip to Vermont in December
  • put together her toy box
  • had my car detailed
  • made "padsicles"
  • purchased extra pajamas to wear around the house while I recover
  • had our house deep cleaned
  • packed a bag complete with clothes, snacks and games for me
  • packed a bag with clothes and diapers for Lorelai
  • ordered and received my birth kit (stuff the midwife and I need for birth and delivery)
  • packed the bags and birth kit into my car
And I even have a pedicure scheduled for this afternoon. 

I think I've officially run out of prepping things to do. 

And because I am SO prepped, she will not make an appearance for another 3 weeks, haha. 

Seriously though, I've made no progress on the labor front. I'm skipping next week with the OB and only going to see my midwife. Seeing both of them every week is cumbersome. And redundant. It was crazy to get an appointment card that's after my due date though (for my next OB appointment). 

So a common question I get now is "how long?" My answer is until it's no longer safe for her to be in there, or of course until she's ready. Whichever comes first. I won't make the call and neither will my OB. I'm leaving that in my midwife's hands. I sought out a midwife because I don't trust the medical profression to make an unbiased decision about my well being. I trust them 100% in an emergency situation. But doctors don't know what to do with healthy people. And while my OB has been very kind and understanding and lately even supportive, I still can't remove that seed of doubt that she would make a call that is convenient for her or easier or something she'd rather do, rather than what is medically necessary. I know, without a doubt, that if my midwife says it's time to go to the hospital, it's time to go to the hospital. I trust her to look out for me and the baby and if what's best is being induced at the hospital, than that's what we're going to do. Otherwise, I'm riding it out.

The longest my midwife ever had someone go is about 42 1/2 weeks, and she's made it clear that it makes her uncomfortable. BUT, if the baby is healthy, there's no reason to rush things. My OB has already started saying I need to think about "when" we make the call. I told my birth buddies that I don't like feeling like I'm already being pressured into making a decision about being induced when I'm not even full term yet. I told my OB and midwife that to me, the only way it ends if I'm induced is by c-section, especially if I haven't progressed any on my own. My midwife explained that there are some more gentle ways to induce than going straight to pitocin and should we end up having to go that route, my midwife would be there at the hospital acting as my doula and being sure that I'm treated and kindly and naturally as possible. If I get to 41 weeks, she wants a biophysical profile done to make sure the baby is ok. She said she's only ever had one person score kind of borderline on that test, but she still has to make sure baby's ok so we know if it's safe to continue the pregnancy. The OB has said there is medically no reason to let me go past 42 week. The baby has no more developing to do and will only gain weight which will make her bigger and harder to deliver (which I reminded her that the baby has been measuring small and I didn't see size as being an issue. hello, have you seen my hips! haha). BUT, she assured me that if the baby is ok, it's not necessarily a hard stop for her. I told her I thought doctors weren't allowed to let women go past 42 weeks or it was considered malpractice. She said it was more an issue of informed consent but if the baby's healthy, it's not a wall we can't cross. The bottom line is neither my OB or midwife are crazy about me going past 42 weeks, and it would likely be a very tense and highly monitored situation from both sides if we get there. 

So why do I think we may have to worry about it? Well, I have had a healthy pregnancy (so far). The baby seems just fine where she's at. Overweight women just typically take longer to go into labor because their fat cells store estrogen and more estrogen just means it takes your body longer. So since I'm healthy and we're letting things progress naturally, it means I'm probably not going to be in the 5% of women who have their baby on their due date. I've known that from the beginning and am totally ok with that. I just want her here safely with as little medical intervention as possible. I feel like things will go a lot more smoothly if I go into labor on my own. So as you think of me over the next few days (weeks, haha), just pray that my body will do what it's designed to do and that she will come on her own. 

One way or another, gummy bear will be a baby bear very soon. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Gummy Bear: 33 Weeks

Gummy Bear: 33 Weeks!

Baby is: running out of wiggle room. Should be in the 4lb range, but it's been a while since I've had an ultrasound.

Cravings: Nothing

Aversions: Nothing really here either. I still don't prefer to eat meat by itself, but I'm doing better with it.

Drinking: Water, Milk, V8 V Fusion & Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Clothes: Comfy! Mostly pants and t shirts.

Gender: It's a girl! Full steam ahead on the hairbows, headbands and ruffly bloomers!

What I miss: Not having to wake up so many times to pee. Being able to take NyQuil!

What I’m looking forward to: My shower tomorrow!

I'm on day 7 of a cold. Really ready for it to pass. The most miserable parts are behind me, but I still have the lingering stuffy nose and coughing. And tiredness. But that's probably more than just the cold. Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, for sure!

In other news, I've spent a good deal of time the past few weeks trying to find/arrange for a birth class. At my last midwife appt (about 4 weeks ago), I asked her about classes. According to all the apps, it was time for us to look into taking one. She gave me the name of the person who usually does their birth classes. I waited a week or two but finally called her to see what she had available (pet peeve: people without online calendars). She asked when my due date was, said she didn't have anything planned right now and planned to be out of town a lot in October. She would check her schedule and let me know what/if she was able to work anything out. She said she didn't even have anyone to recommend me to because no one else she knew was offering classes right now. Well good. I was hopeful that we'd be able to work something out, but then I never got a call or email from her. I called her on Wednesday and left her a message and still haven't heard back. It looks like that's a no-go.

I had a lead for another potential class, but the person was almost 2 hours from me. Not very practical for a two day class. I talked to the instructor though. She said if I could get some more interest, I could host the class. That doesn't really thrill me either. I could also do a private "condensed" class with her, for the same amount as a two day class, but with a private class fee added. More money, less class. *Sigh*

So I went back to my midwife and explained my dilemma. She said I wasn't the only one needing a class and that she would look at hosting one at the birth center. Awesome. My problems have been solved! But then she posted on Facebook that she was looking at hosting one between October 15 and Thanksgiving. Uh, my due date is November 8. I emailed her to remind her and encourage her to do it as close to October 15 as she could. She wrote back that she has several births scheduled at the beginning of October so she wouldn't be able to host it until the middle of the month at the earliest but that she was looking at October 26. Yikes. I'll be 38 weeks then. Like, she'll be on call for my birth then. She said she was still trying to look for some options for me though. Then she emailed me about someone hosting a class tomorrow, which I can't go to because of my shower. The only Saturday between now and my birth that I can't make it. I wrote her back to tell her this Saturday is a no-go and so is Sunday October 6 because of my shower that day. I asked if she had any recommendations on books or DVDs or something. I, at this point, don't think a birth class is in the cards for me. I mean, I could see what some of the local hospitals have available, but even the doctors in the hospitals tell their patients the classes aren't worth taking. Plus, I'm not sure they would really help me have a natural child birth. I guess it would be better than absolutely nothing though. I don't know.

But this has really made me think- what do I need out of a birth class? You know what I've realized over the past few weeks?

I am not afraid of labor.

I'm not. I'm not afraid of the pain. I'm not afraid of the delivery. I have a peace about it. I just know, it's going to be ok. I'm going to be ok. Lorelai is going to be ok. I don't have any anxiety about it. It is what it is. It's going to hurt. It's going to be hard. I'm not going to want people asking me a ton of questions. But I'm not afraid.

But, that IS what worries me. Like there has to be something I'm missing. Something I'm not understanding about the labor and delivery process. I want to be able to talk it through somebody. I want to know how to cope with the pain. I want Craig to feel confident to help me through the tough times instead of asking "what do you need?". I want to know what I could be doing now to help prepare my body for labor. I want to feel prepared because I know what's going to/could happen, not just because I feel at peace with the process.

It seems careless to just assume "it's going to be fine, women have been doing this for thousands of years". They have. And a lot of women have died during childbirth. And the culture was SO much different than it used to be. People don't talk about birth anymore. Americans are scared of childbirth. We don't have the support of a house full of women who have all had children to help us through. The general public doesn't know how to get through a natural childbirth. I was born via c-section. My mom couldn't have helped me. My grandmothers have been gone for a long time. Most all my friends have had epidurals, if not c-sections. There are times when I definitely feel alone in this. And I know I have my friends for love and support, but not necessarily advice. I don't like feeling like I just have to figure out out. There has to be an easier way. I know I like to do things my own way, but I don't want to do it at the expense of making labor any harder than it's going to be. And I can read all the books and websites and watch all the DVDs, but there's nothing like sitting down and talking to someone who has been there.