Month One–It gets better!

It’s been a little over one month since my precious princess was born, and it’s been hard, fun, upsetting, and a learning experience, but I have learned, it does  get better!

Week One: M was born after 36 hours of labor. She had a minor fever after birth and a mild heart murmur, so they ran all sorts of extra tests. I was freaking out. I was upset. I was scared. Her fever was attributed to me having 3 epidurals, and her EKG and blood pressure tests all came back normal. She didn’t like to latch on the right side, so my nipple had 2 small blisters and a crack, making it really hard to nurse her on that side due to pain. By day 6, her heart murmur was much more quiet, and I cried almost as much as her when she got her first Hep B vaccine.  She woke up every hour to eat or just fuss.
Week Two: She started sleeping a little better, but not if we had her out during the day; going out for visits to Grandpa and Grandma G’s farm meant no sleep at night. My nipple healed and nursing on the right side became tolerable. My pain from labor, however, was still intolerable. Still using padsicles (I’ll be adding a post about these very soon!), still using Dermoplast spray with the blue top (ahhhhh heaven in a can!), still using lidocaine gel. By a full 2 weeks old, her heart murmur was almost silent.
Week Three: M started waking up only 2-3 times a night, except when we go out. She loves snuggle time with Daddy, but also loves to pull his beard and chest hair. We’ve tried 4 types of bottles so Daddy can feed her, but she won’t take any of them. I’m lucky if I can get a 5 minute shower. By the end of the week, I finally feel good enough to leave the house and bring her to Opa and Kitty’s (my dad and stepmom), Grandpa R’s (father in law), Grandma Peach’s (grandmother in law), and even out to Pizza Hut with a friend of mine and her one year old
Week Four: M started the week fussy and ended it fussy. She also got a rash from using Huggies Lil’ Snugglers, and it has yet to go away, despite trying all sorts of stuff. For the fussiness, we tried gas drops, we tried extra burping, we tried lots of extra snuggles. The only thing that has worked has been snuggles. Needless to say, I have gotten nothing done, but at least my pain was gone and she still ate great. M has started giggling in her sleep, which makes all the fussiness worth it. She also weighs 10lbs 14 oz, which means she is up 1lb 8oz since birth!

While there were ups and downs with each week that went by, it gradually got better. She started sleeping better, I learned more about her and her needs, and we (her father and I) have had some great bonding time with our little girl. While it was pretty hard at times, it got a lot better than it was when we first brought her home. It just takes a while to learn about your baby, adjust to your baby, and for your baby to learn you and learn being outside of the womb. Frustrating as it can be, it does get better!

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“You’re so unprepared!”

I grew up around younger kids and babies. Hell, I babysat a 9 month old when I was 8! Well, babysat for like a half an hour. But still. And for the first 2 years of my little brothers life I was there for everything; he was born when I was 14 (and awkard…and only had 2 close friends), so I helped with a lot of stuff, including staying home from school if he was sick. I’ve been around babies. I’ve had experience.

That being said, I’m a first time mom. And as a first time mom, I was worried about everything when I was pregnant. Not just with what was happening to and in my body, but with preparing for our daughters arrival. Having been so concerned about whether or not we had what we needed, I looked for guidance from some of the women in my family (who happen to live in MA, while my husband and I live in WI). When I told them what I had, I got laughed at. I had:

  • 6 packs of size 1 diapers
  • 1 pack of newborn diapers
  • 10 newborn onesies
  • 2 newborn pants
  • 5 newborn sleepers
  • 25-30 0-3 month onesies
  • 12 0-3 month pants
  • 3 0-3 month sweaters
  • 5 0-3 month dresses/rompers
  • 15 blankets
  • 15 receiving blankets for use as burp rags
  • 3 things of wipes containing 64 wipes each
  • 1 economy case of wipes containing 448 wipes
  • 1 big bottle and small bottle of lotion
  • 1 big bottle and one normal bottle of baby wash
  • 3 towels, 14 washcloths
  • 1 tube of Desitin, 1 tube of Desitin petroleum jelly.

Plus the crib, pack and play with bassinet setting, a swing, 2 bouncer/vibratey chairs, 2 nursing pillows, and all my breastfeeding supplies. And I will repeat it: I GOT LAUGHED AT! I was told that I was “so naive” and that I “had no clue what I was getting myself into”.

Not only did I feel embarrassed that I asked, but I felt like an inadequate mother, and it made my husband feel like an inadequate father and provider. I went out and bought a few more newborn-size sleepers (despite having been told by my midwife to “expect at least an 8 pound baby” if I had her at my due date, despite me being almost 10 pounds, and despite my husband being 11lb 4oz). I got 3 more pairs of 0-3 month pants. I considered buying more newborn diapers, but I decided that if we needed them, I would have my husband get them while I was in the hospital still.

Well, I had a 9lb 4 oz baby 2 weeks after my due date. Newborn diapers didn’t fit her, not even at the hospital. Newborn onesies? Out of the question! Newborn pants fit, just because she kept her little legs all scrunched up. So going out and buying that extra stuff? Pointless.

She’s now 1 month old, still wearing 0-3 month stuff, and we haven’t even gone through all the size 1 diapers yet. We have yet to use up the little bottle of lotion (despite putting it on her daily), and have yet to use even half of the normal size bottle of baby wash. She has worn most of her 0-3 sleepers, and maybe 6 of her onesies, and 4 pairs of pants. That’s it.  I should have trusted my gut instinct, and stuck with what we had. Don’t get me wrong, advice can be great, but sometimes you already know what you need or what’s best.

Moral #1: Trust your instincts, momma!

Moral #2: You don’t need a crazy amount of stuff when you bring home baby. Sure, it’s nice to have a lot, but prioritize–get more of what your little one will wear (like sleepers, in my case) and less of the other stuff (seriously…30 onesies in ONE SIZE!?) in order to save space and money.

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(Birth) Plans change!

Let me start of by saying I’m 100% behind birth plans. They are a great way to let your care providers (midwife, doctor, nurses, etc) know what you want, especially when you are in pain and don’t want to answer 8 million questions about pain relief methods, how you plan on feeding your child, etc. But plans can change. A birth plan is a general guideline of what you want, not a magical piece of paper that will make it all happen the way you want. Take my labor with my little girl, for example. My birth plan was nice to have, so that we didn’t need to answer so many questions, but things certainly did not go as we would have liked. Either way, my little girl is here, and this is something to be grateful for.
My Birth Plan:

  • NO induction medication unless medically necessary (ha! I was more than a week overdue–with very good calculations because I had been charting  my cycles pre-pregnancy and knew the exact day I ovulated–and sceduled to be induced. I went into labor the day before my induction, but was not progressing very well and was induced anyway.)
  • NO c-section unless there is an emergency need for one (I didn’t have one, but boy was I begging for one after 32 hours of labor…and up until I had her after 36 hours of labor.)
  • IV pain medication as tolerated (IV pain meds were fabulous between contractions…during contractions, on the other hand, I still felt everything and as my husband puts it, I was “a complete bitch during contractions, even with the dope!”)
  • Wait until 5-6 cm before getting epidural (hahahha! 5-6cm? Try begging for one at 2.5cm! It could have been the back labor or my shitty pain tolerance, but I was begging for one for a long time…from about 5 am to around 9 or 10 am when I finally got one…while still only being about 3.5cm. I think they just felt bad for me. Oh, and I ended up getting 3 epidurals. Long story)
  • Husband to cut the cord
  • Exclusively breastfeeding
  • Hydrotherapy for pain (helped for about 5 minutes, then I was back to “I’m ready to kill anyone who comes near me”)
  • Wait until first Dr. visit before giving baby her Hep B shot
  • Husband not allowed to look while I’m pushing (He looked. He watched. He laughed because she had so much hair that I had “a mohawk sticking out” of my crotch. Thanks, honey!)

I had a birth plan, and I knew that it was not guarantee. Did it all work as I would have liked? No. Was I brokenhearted? No. I still had my baby girl, she was still healthy, and everything went fairly well (aside from 36 hours of labor and 2 failed epidurals). Just as plans with anything else can change, birth plans can change as well. They should call them “Birth Wishes”, because wishes don’t always come true, and “Birth Plan” can be misleading.

I suggest having a birth plan so that your care providers know your desires, but don’t get your heart set on things happening just as planned. Be ready to change your plans, if you need it. And don’t feel bad if the plans do change. I felt like a failure for getting the epidural when I did, but it helped (except for a spot the size of a softball on the right side of my stomach, or the 2nd one that didn’t work at all.) and all in all it was ok because me and my daughter made it through with only minor issues (my 2 failed epidurals, lots of stitches after having a 9lb 4oz baby, and both of us had fevers from the epidurals). Plans change, and you just have to go with the flow, listen to your body, and do what you feel is best.

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Why breastfeeding kicks ass

Don’t confuse this for a “I’m better than you because I breastfeed” post, this is a “Here’s why I love breastfeeding, and why it’s worth at least giving it a try” post. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, I’ll admit that. It can be hard (but isn’t always…don’t let people scare you). It can be messy (Ever have a baby unlatch when you’re just starting a letdown?). It can be embarrassing (leaky boobs, nip slips,

That love, that bond, that nutrition...nothing like mommy milk, no matter how it's given!

That love, that bond, that nutrition…nothing like mommy milk, no matter how it’s given!

and breast pads, oh my!). It can be one of the most rewarding things you can do as a mother.
So why do I love breastfeeding?

  • Have you seen the price of formula lately? Even a 12oz can of powder formula can cost you around $10, and that’s the minimum!
  • That sleepy, milk-drunk face you see only with breastfed babies (eyes half open, mouth open slightly smirked, milk drool on the chin…too cute!)
  • It’s always sterile (when straight from the boob)
  • The way your baby looks at you (eyes big, looking up at you like “Thank you, Mommy!”)
  • It can lower chances of postpartum depression (and what mother doesn’t at least somewhat worry about that, especially those who are having their first, or who have a history of depression or have had PPD with previous children).
  • Colostrum, the first milk that comes when you deliver, is super great for baby, full of anti-bodies, fat, and protein (that means that even if you can only nurse for a few days, you did a great job and gave your baby an extra boost!)
  • All the good stuff breast milk has to offer to baby, like water, calories, carbs, (good) fats, DHA/ARA, white blood cells and immunoglobins, just to name a few (to see more, check out http://doublethink.us.com/paala/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/whats-in-breastmilk-poster-canada.jpg)
  • It automatically adjusts to the needs of your little munchkin.
  • Can lower the risk of SIDS
  • Always on tap.
  • It’s something only you can provide for your child (unless you have donor milk, in which case, it still comes from a human mommy, not a cow).
  • It’s super easy for baby to digest.
  • It can lower the chance of breast cancer and some forms of ovarian cancer in women who breastfeed, as well as help shrink your uterus back to normal after delivery.
  • That bond is amazing! The oxytocin released during breastfeeding does more than just get your letdown going; oxytocin is the “love hormone”, so it amplifies the feelings of love and the bond between mom and baby.
  • Can help reduce and prevent jaundice in newborns
  • Can help lower chances of diabetes in mother and baby.
  • No matter how messy it can be, it sure is funny when baby unlatches and milk shoots halfway across the room. Even better if it catches your dog by surprise! (Maybe I have a sick sense of humor.)
  • Breast milk has everything your baby needs (except vitamin D, which can come through breast milk when moms eat a diet rich in D, but generally speaking, it just doesn’t have quite enough), and will adjust as your baby grows.

I could go on and on about the benefits of breastfeeding. I can also tell you that it can be hard. At first, my little girl latched great on the left side immediately, but my right nipple ended up with a blister by the end of her first 24 hours of life. Yes, a blister. On my nipple. When my milk came in, my breast were super engorged, despite trying everything I could (cabbage leaves, hot shower, hot compress, Advil, tight bra so they were immobilized, hand expressing or pumping, rubbing gently); you name it, I tried it. I was getting pretty damn discouraged–my boobs hurt, they were rock solid even after feeding, and I had a nipple with blisters and even a crack, despite using Lanolin cream and cooling gel nipple pads.
After a week and a half, it got easier. By two weeks, it was wonderful. By four weeks, I’m writing about why I love breastfeeding. I’m so glad I didn’t give up. Sometimes, you just have to try your hardest and hope for the best. Even when you think you can’t do it, there are people there to help you and support you, whether it’s your significant other, your mom, your sister, your best friend, or a lactation counselor. Whether you pump, hand express, nurse, or use donor milk, you are doing the best for your child, even when it seems tough. I had to tell myself that a lot at first, but I got through the tough part, and my 9lb 4oz, 20.5″ baby is now 10lbs 14 oz, 22″ at 1 month old.

Do you have a breastfeeding story to share?

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“I haven’t had morning sickness”–a lesson in speaking too soon

I found out I was pregnant very early on. When I say very early, I mean only about 8 days after I ovulated.  I pretty much knew a few days after implantation. Thanks to charting basal body temperature, ovulation signs, and what felt like a million other things, along with Dollar General, cheapy, $1 pregnancy tests, I was able to know I was pregnant almost as soon as it happened, which was pretty exciting and nerve racking. Medically, I found out at 3 weeks pregnant (based on last menstrual period). Like many, I thought that morning sickness was one of the first signs of pregnancy. I was wrong.

First, I had tested early because I was so emotional, I figured if I wasn’t pregnant, I was going crazy and taking my husband with me! Otherwise, I was sure that I was out of that cycle of trying to conceive. Then, when I tested positive, I thought “Hey, I haven’t gotten sick yet! Alright!”. As each week went by without my even feeling slightly ill, I kept thinking “I’m gonna get through this without any morning sickness.”, and I even told some friends that due to my lack of morning sickness, I thought that I would have a pretty easy pregnancy. Yeah, at this point, you can start figuring that things went the other direction.

Almost as soon as I passed the six week mark (but still before seven weeks) I started feeling sick. Very sick. I threw up once, then, due to my hatred of vomiting and the fact that I always felt ill, I started eating popsicles and drinking water–nothing more. But even then I was getting sick.  Working with a bunch of catty women (I was a Certified Nurse Aide), I always heard “That’s normal!” and “Suck it up!”, so I did. For about 6 weeks. During those six weeks, my routine was this: wake up at noon (I worked second shift), eat an italian ice or popsicle slowly so I (fingers crossed) wouldn’t get sick. Get dressed and be to work at 2:45 (possibly a little later if I pulled over to throw up), wipe adult butts while holding bile in my mouth until I could get to the bathroom, rinsing out my mouth, repeat butt wiping and heaving. Go on break and try to rest to save energy, wipe butts again, get out of work at 11 pm, go home, put wood in the wood stove, and shower (possibly vomit bile and/or water in the shower), let the dog out, vomit in the snow, go to sleep. My poor husband lived on bologna sandwiches, hotdogs, and ramen noodles; I couldn’t even make those for him! To make matters even worse, our wedding was to be when I was eight weeks pregnant, leaving me sick as a dog and pretending to feel fabulous (after over a year of planning, there was NO way we were pushing it back…we had already set invites, booked the date at the church, and I had bought my dress. Pushing it back until after the baby or until I felt better just was not an option) while really wanting to puke on the alter. Hurray.

At my 12 week appointment, my midwife, who I was meeting for the first time, asked if I had any sickness or lost any weight. I simply said yes. She asked how much. I told her that I hardly ate anything in the last 6 weeks, almost passed out at work, and lost 18 pounds. Her eyes got huge and she pushed back my appointment; at that moment, getting me hooked up to an IV was much more important than anything else. So, after finding my little ones heartbeat, I was sent to the hospital portion of the clinic and given 2 bags of lactate ringers, along with an IV dose of Zofran. When I finished my appointment with my midwife, Glenda, I was given a prescription for Zofran. If you don’t know, Zofran is also given to patients who are going though chemotherapy to help them with nausea. Yeah, it’s that strong. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or as I shorten it to, HG.

At 14 weeks I had to go back again. My weight had stabilized, but I hadn’t gained even an ounce. At that point, I was placed on Meclizine as well (which is over the counter and used for motion sickness), which worked enough for me to start gaining weight. But still, I was vomiting at work (sometimes even in residents trash cans, toilets, or commodes–thank God old women love pregnant people!), I was still on a restricted diet (not by choice, but by food aversions). I stopped working at around 28 weeks (a topic I’ll further discuss on a different post), and the hyperemesis didn’t subside until around 30 weeks. Even then I would have random flair ups.

The morals of the story:
1. There is a reason why all the books say to call your care provider if you are vomiting or not able to eat for 24 hours. Hyperemesis can end in the death of the fetus, and even the mother. It’s nothing to screw around with. Normal morning sickness comes and goes. If you have super ultra mega morning sickness, call your damn doctor or midwife ASAP. It’s not normal and it’s not a joke.
2. Don’t speak to soon. I had said that I thought I was going to get off easy, have minimal to no morning sickness, and I ended up getting so sick (and being so stupid by not calling my midwife) that I risked my life and the life of my unborn child. Next time, if I don’t feel sick, I’m sure not going to assume I’m gonna have nine months of joy and not puking.

 

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I’m a Different Kind of Mommy

I started trying to conceive at 19 years old.
    I’m a different kind of mommy.
I live over 1,000 miles from the rest of my family.
    I’m a different kind of mommy.
I married my best friend (who I met in high school).
    I’m a different kind of mommy.
I let my baby sleep in my bed.
    I’m a different kind of mommy.
I chose to stay home with my child.
    I’m a different kind of mommy.
I have tattoos (some of which I have done myself).
    I’m a different kind of mommy.
I breastfeed my baby.
    I’m a different kind of mommy.
I have a history of anxiety and depression.
    I’m a different kind of mommy.
I don’t care that
    I’m a different kind of mommy.

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