Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Today was an important day.

Today, Maggie and I ventured out of the house.

The original plan was to go to the store. We were running low on formula and diapers and other things that aren't as important - like food for Mommy and Daddy. Well, I decided to stop by my place of employment on hiatus, Blue Cliff.

It was an unannounced visit. I think those kinds might be for the best right now, until I know I can promise to be somewhere and not have some crushing bout with anxiety and stay stuck to the couch. Well, it takes a cold front to get me moving, I guess.

So, somehow, everything works out. She's fed, comfortable, wrapped in multiple Eskimo-worthy layers and we're out the door!

I also decided to use a carrier for the first time. The car seat/carrier thingy that comes in and out of the car and is used on the stroller weighs a ton. I am interested in lean and tone arms, but I'm also interested in not dropping my child out of exhaustion. Well, wouldn't you know! That worked out too. Maggie was so comfortable in her carrier that she immediately dropped a deuce. (Pooped.) So, she met some of my co-workers (and new adoring fans) smelling like a poop. I don't think anyone minded.

Well, my plan to stay 10 minutes (stupid plan) turned into close to an hour and a half. It was really nice to catch up with some of them and have a conversation with an adult during day light hours.

After we left Blue Cliff, we headed over to Wal Mart. I re-strapped her into the carrier, where she immediately fell into a deep coma-worthy sleep and I shopped for our needs with little worries. I did worry that she was suffocating herself against my sweat-shirt, so I kept a constant vigil on the position of her head. I got everything we needed, except formula. They didn't have the specific one she likes, and from our experience last week with formula experimentation - you don't change what isn't broke!

Today, I was determined to change some things. I had a mini-meltdown last night - fueled by sleepiness and frustration. I had an epiphany of sorts:

I want to give anyone who is about to have a baby, or who is thinking of having a baby some advice. DON'T READ.

I spent my pregnancy reading and reading. I consumed baby manuals like air. Google and I were communicating telepathically. It's like we were one, I used it so much.

I planned on solely breast feeding, subscribed to the church of attachment parenting and thought about Dr. Sears on a daily basis. I bought cloth diapers and slings and carriers and wraps. I was NEVER going to give my baby a pacifier or let her sleep anywhere but on me or her bed.

NONE of those things have come true. Instead of behaving like she came with a manual, Maggie has been her own, individual, unique baby. Wow, who'd a thunk it??

Because of my initial consumption of knowledge, when things didn't turn out like I planned - like using a pacifier or letting her sleep in the stroller - instead of going with the flow, I felt like a failure. I was allowing compromises in my planning to allow Maggie to happier and more comfortable, but wasn't allowing those compromises any room in my mind. I was blaming myself for things not panning out like the books, magazines, articles and whatever else said they should.

Now, that's the key word - SHOULD. It's really a poisonous word. Nothing about a newborn SHOULD be. Let's make the obvious exceptions of general health and well-being like weight gain and appetite and things like that.

Everything else may fit into the category of "SHOULD" but that "SHOULD" is only for YOUR baby.

I was looking forward to many things. And one main thing was - and is - breast feeding. My milk is at a current state of "trickle." At this point there is no discernible change when I get some. I did do some research, and it could be because of my hypothyroidism and the fact that a new baby and new routines have led me to not take my meds appropriately. I made an appointment with my endocrinologist and will find out if there is a possibility of building my supply back up. And, if there isn't, I need to let go of the rigid thoughts that breast fed babies are the only healthy babies out there and continue to formula feed. The rigidity of my thoughts are killing my buzz.

We also got cloth diapers. I still plan on using those diapers, but I will begin to use them after she's no longer a "newborn" and is peeing less than 250 times a day. I still have yet to make a judgement call here.

I got a couple of messages after my last posting, and I'm sorry that I didn't respond to any of them. I will here:

Reglan - as far as I can tell from what my OB has told me - is no longer prescribed by responsible doctors because of the side-effects and "bad press" it was getting. I haven't tried any thing herbal yet, but plan on it.

I will always be open to suggestions and advice. So, if you are a mom and are willing to offer it, I'll always have one ear open to it. BUT - my new mantra is this (and I hope that if anyone reads this, may consider it too):

A baby changes your life. Your perspective. Your attitude. Your responsibility is to make sure this baby's life is happy, healthy and good. Don't let your rigidity force your baby to suffer. Don't let your rigidity force you to suffer. Stay flexible and you will stay happy.

So, here I am - a hypochondriac at heart, changing my belief system to accommodate Maggie. I have to. If I didn't, we'd all be unhappy.

Anyway, here's to a successful outing today, and many more to come! Here's to sleeping in the stroller and pacifiers!! Here's to disposable diapers! Here's to newborn formula!

None of it is what I expected, and even though it isn't, I still love every minute.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Part Deux: Bringing Home Baby

In Part 1, I detailed the birth of my Little Maggie. I did actually forget a couple of things....just minor details: during one of my particularly bad contractions, in the flailing of my arms, I knocked Mike's glasses off. And, somehow, during the pushing, my IV popped off and I bled all over the place. Just minor details. :)

So, the delivery is the easy part. It's everything that comes after that's hard.

Seems like pushing an 8 pound kid out of your vagina would be the hardest part, but no such luck. The next couple of days after were basically easy too. Day 3, or Going Home Day, began the challenge.

First of all, for hours and hours after they are born, most babies have no interest in eating. They only have an interest in sleeping, which is good because they are putting themselves in some sort of sleep coma that helps their swelling go down and their alien shaped heads get back to normal. Maggie didn't actually nurse until about 3am the night after she was born. That started it.

I was, and am, very committed to breast feeding. Even through the early days when my nipples looked like beef jerky because Maggie wasn't latching well. I knew that that was part of the drill until both of us got accustomed and acquainted with nursing.

We had her home for a single day when we had to bring her back to the hospital. We tested her bilirubin levels and they were high. Not high enough to cause brain damage, but the doctors didn't want them to get any higher. And - get this - breast fed babies have a more difficult time removing bilirubin from their blood than formula fed babies.

So, for nearly 3 days, my tiny baby had to be separated from me for hours and hours - basically except for feedings - and put into an incubator with blue light to reduce her bili levels. It was very stressful and emotionally draining. It's very hard to see such a tiny person stuck in this plastic box for so long. Especially when that tiny person is your baby. Every day, they had to poke her heel and test her levels and when we admitted into the room, they actually had to draw blood from her tiny arm. It was so hard. Lots of tears were shed those days, all by me. It's really unfair to put an emotionally and hormonally unstable new mother in that situation.

Luckily, after a couple of days, we were able to come home. She was still yellow, but her levels had gone down and the rebound would be easily combatted by her body.

So, we had a second homecoming.

I had continued to breast feed her all throughout this ordeal and into the following week. My mom (Mimi) came Monday and stayed until Thursday. During these few days, Maggie was crying alot, unsatisfied and gassy. I read an article about lactose overload. It made perfect sense to me, that a baby could get only large amounts of foremilk, and not enough hindmilk, which would cause an excessive amount of gas because of the low amounts of fats in the foremilk. I knew this had to be happening to Maggie. So, I tried to slow down and not stress about switching breasts during feedings. It seemed to work.

Breast feeding is a guessing game. I read an entire book and took a class. I also met with a lactation consultant. Nothing really prepared me for the challenges of nursing. No one really tells you how hard it is until you run into problems, then they tell you that while babies have the natural instinct to suck, not all babies know how. And, not all breasts are the same. So, each baby has to get to know its own set, if you know what I mean. When you start having problems is when they tell you that the time it takes to get good at nursing can take days, weeks or months. Or, never.

I was really having a problem with the uncertainty of it. I couldn't tell if she was getting enough. It certainly didn't seem like it. She was always hungry. She cried alot. I was having so much anxiety. I started to dislike breast feeding because of the anxiety it was causing. I was crying at nearly every feeding out of frustration and pain. It was the end of the second week of her life, and she still couldn't latch effectively. Then, late that Friday night, I got sick. I got sick with a stomach virus.

Thankfully, the day before Maggie was born, Mike and I bought a breast pump. I had only used it once before that day, but I was really glad we had it at that point, so that I could pump and stay quarantined away from the rest of the family. Those couple of days pumping and feeding were wonderful. I could literally see how much milk she was getting.

When I felt better, I let her nurse again, and those same feelings of anxiety and fear came back again. I made a decision and talked to her pediatrician about it the next day. I decided to exclusively pump and feed her.

That helped ease my anxiety for a while, but in the beginning, I was pumping over 3 oz per session. And, gradually, it turned into less and less. So much less that, even with her occasionally nursing to try to stimulate my milk, we started supplementing with formula.

I felt - and still feel, sometimes - like a failure. I keep hearing about people who have flawless nursing experiences and wonder if they were truly flawless or, do they just leave out all the difficult, frustrating and hopeless parts??

As of today, I am still pumping every 2 or 3 hours and only getting about an ounce, sometimes a little more each time. So, it will take about 3-4 pumping sessions to make one bottle of breast milk for her. That's not enough.

I know that our bodies are supposed to be these amazing tools and that our bodies "know" when our milk should increase....but HOW? How long does it take for the body to make more? My body is progressively making less. I will continue to give her whatever my body makes for as long as my body makes it. It just seems like I'm going in a different direction than biology here. All the literature I've read tell me that as long as I keep pumping at a regular 2-3 hour interval schedule, that my milk supply should maintain. I have not found that to be true with me. Very frustrating and discouraging.

Despite all of the nursing troubles, life with Maggie has been pretty amazing. Her and I just hang out together all day and I get to notice all of the things that change about her every day. Like her eyelashes growing. And her head getting bigger. Her sounds. She's grown so much. She's getting baths and can almost fit into clothes that aren't newborn sizes. I've taken about 400 pictures of her.

This past Thursday, for Thanksgiving, my mom, Mema, brother and sister-in-law all came and we had lunch together. Maggie got to meet another great grandmother. We had 4 generations here that day. No photographic evidence. We are waiting til Christmas and getting dressed up before we take pictures.

I'm up way too late. Time to get my beauty/momma sleep.

Here's some pictures of my sweet baby girl.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hey, Maggie!

Well, after nearly three weeks of getting to know my little daughter, I finally feel comfortable enough to put her down for a few minutes to update my blog.

I think this will have to be a Three Part blog, just to cover all the bases from my last posting. I mean, so much has happened. I gave birth to baby, we brought her home. We brought her back to the hospital, and brought her home again. And, since then, we've been getting used to being full time parents to a newborn.

So, I'll start this opus with the delivery. That is the logical beginning to this journey, after the pregnancy, of course.

The basic timeline for my delivery is as follows:
Midnight 11-01-10, arrive at Labor & Delivery
2:30am, pitocin drip is started (let the fun begin!)
7:30am, Doc comes in and breaks water (now, the party's started)
9:30am, ask Nurse Judy (love) for something to take the edge off
12:40pm, begin pushing
1:17pm, Maggie is born!
1:30pm, I meet her
4:30pm, moved to postnatal room
5pm 11-03-10, check out!

Now, don't think I'm going to leave you with such an abbreviated account of that day. That just wouldn't be right. But, at this point, many of the details are a little fuzzy. My natural oxytocin and estrogen and momma hormones have been pumping for just under three weeks, blocking out any unpleasantness. But, not entirely. Some things are still fresh in my mind. Very fresh.

My birth experience didn't happen exactly like I had planned, but I think it came very close. From my previous posts, you should know that I planned a natural childbirth. That came true. I didn't want an episiotomy, but I got one. That's ok...nothing to be sad about. Mike was my "coach" and he hung in there and was the only thing that got me through sometimes. Overall, it was very close to what I had envisioned.

So, I'll start from the beginning. My anxiety levels the day before check in were through the roof. I couldn't sit still. Resting really wasn't an option. So, we went to Target and Walmart and bought some supplies, including a breast pump - which you will find out about more in Part II. I did manage to get a little sleep and at around 11:15pm, I was in the shower, scrubbing my belly with that soap and scrubber they give you. No time for anxiety now.

In fact, at that point, I had reached a certain level of peace. I knew that I was going to delivery a baby and I needed to relax. And I did.

We checked in to a very quiet hospital. They made me change into that lovely gown, took blood and inserted the IV (OUCH, I MEAN, DOUBLE OUCH). I feel asleep. I slept until 2:30 when the nurse came in to start my pitocin drip. I can't remember her name, but she was very nice. Bubbly. I'm glad she was my night nurse and not my delivery nurse. Too bubbly for delivery. Just bubbly enough to wake me up constantly to check my blood pressure and increase the pitocin.

After the pit was started, I felt some cramping, but nothing was uncomfortable enough to keep me awake. So, I slept on and off until about 7. There was a shift change at 7, and Judy came to work. Judy is an older woman. 40 years experience delivering babies. Very friendly, but there was definitely an air of authority and no nonsense about her. She didn't bullshit or mince words. She was perfect.

At 730, Dr. Russell came by to break my water. I forget how many centimeters I was at that point. I think I remember that I hadn't changed much. I think I was about 3. I remember being very disappointed. I thought I'd be like 6 at that point. No such luck. I do remember that breaking my water was no big deal. I didn't even feel wet. I went back to sleep.

It didn't take long from there for my contractions to increase. They were still at levels I could control with breathing, but I knew that I would need to rest more and I was beginning to wonder if that was going to be able to happen.

The pain wasn't something entirely unfamiliar. I had had period cramping that was around the same intensity, but the pitocin magnified everything. By 9:30, I was very uncomfortable. The kind of uncomfortable that made interactions difficult and I had to concentrate very hard on my breathing. I barely have any recollection of visitors. I know my brother got there some time around then. Sorry, Jeremy, but I don't really remember too much from that morning.

Shortly after that is when I asked for something to take the edge off. Judy went and either got someone to give me Stadol or she did. Again, I don't remember the details. I remember Judy told me that the Stadol would be like having a margarita.

It didn't take long to take effect, and honestly, it did nothing to ease the pain of the contractions. I DID, however, knock me completely out. The last thing I remember saying is "I've never had a margarita that made me feel like this."

So, I got my rest. I don't know how long I was out. But, I know that when I was lucid again, everything happened really quickly, but not quickly enough.

The contractions started coming hard and strong and there was no break in between. I was getting desperate. I could feel my hold on sanity slipping and slipping quick. I could control most of my contractions, but only if I could physically emote as well as breathe. Let me explain. If I lost my concentration for even a second, the pain was enough to make me get the urge to jump out of the bed. So, I had this method. It worked 85% of the time. I would inhale with my head back and exhale by throwing my head forward. But, the best method for controlling the urge to run or climb the walls was to combine the head movements with this arm/pull/push thing. I'd grab a big handful of Mike's shirt and inhale by pulling him forward to me, and then exhale and push him away. Poor guy was pretty manhandled by the end of the birth.

It's difficult to organize my thoughts about the entire delivery. I can tell you that so much of it was just like people tell you. The labor is hard. It takes some serious resolve to go through it. I've been through it and I can honestly say that I still don't know what true labor feels like. I had augmented labor. Augmented labor is harder. The contractions are relentless, no breaks. At some point around 8 centimeters, Judy offered the epidural. I thought hard about it. I was nearing the end of my rope. I was shaking. I was tired. I was in some serious discomfort. I had literally said at least twice that I wanted it to be over. That I was ready. But, I still couldn't get over my fear. Even at the end of my rope, I couldn't allow some one to put a needle into my spinal cavity.

Luckily, those last two centimeters went in about 10 minutes. I felt each one. That's one thing about going natural. I was hyper aware of each and every step. I knew that even though I was at the end of my rope and I was shaking, I knew that I was close to the end. I knew that I was in the worst part and that soon, I would be pushing. But, the worst part was really bad. I couldn't sit still, but I couldn't get up. I wanted to push, but couldn't. I wanted to sit up, but it hurt. I wanted to lay down, but it hurt. I wanted to do a lot of things. I was boiling hot. I ripped off my gown. Judy covered my breasts with a towel. I did NOT care if I was butt naked. Nothing mattered at that point but getting that baby out!

The pushing. Wow. It's just like they say. Everything gets better. The contractions practically go away. But, it's hard. For the first few minutes, I couldn't tell if I was making any progress. Then, her head started to pass under my pubic bone. And, I could feel it. It was crazy. There was a lot of pressure. I stalled a little here. It was hard to create the pushing pressure needed to get her out. I couldn't tell if I was pushing in the right place. Judy literally had to put her fingers on my perineum so I could have a goal. But, when it worked, it worked. I could feel her head pass under my pubic bone, and come out. I could also feel my doctor numb up the area. I didn't initially want the episiotomy, but my doc said "I don't want you to tear up by your clitoris" and I didn't protest. I felt him cut me, and she came right out at that point.

I reached down and touched her. Her head looked alien and she was all bloody, but she was amazing looking to me. My little baby. The baby nurse took her at that point and her and daddy went to the other end of the room to weigh and all the other stuff they do to babies after they come out. I got stitched up. I started active labor around 9 am and all was said and done at 1:17pm. Pretty dang quick! And, I slept through so much of it!

The first time I held Maggie, she was wrapped in about 4 blankets and had that little hat on. Literally a little bundle of joy. She didn't want to nurse, just sleep. I was starving. She was exhausted from her journey

Judy told me that I could eat after I got up and peed twice, so I got up and peed both times. I was up and walking very soon after delivery.

Maggie continued to have difficulty getting the hang of breast feeding, but at 3am that night, something clicked and she drank for the first time. I wonder if that's why she's fond of being awake at 3 am now. Ha.

Those hours after she was born are hard for me to remember. I do remember that everyone kept telling me to put her in the plastic baby bed, but I slept with her on my chest the first night, and next to me the next night. I was so nervous to leave her alone. She was so small. Leaving her alone in that plastic box seemed so horrible. So, I didn't. :)

She's still most comfortable passed out on my chest. And, I like it like that.

TO BE CONTINUED....Part II, Bringing Home Baby will come soon!!

Here's pictures of her Birth Day.