Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tummy Time!

We put Jack down on the Boppy for some official tummy time for the first time today. This is supposed to help a baby strengthen their neck and arm muscles since they will instinctively push up to look around. Some babies don't like tummy time at first, but Jack seemed to like it. He didn't cry at least!

He just kind of tried to lift his head up to look around and kicked his feet. I got down on his level to talk to him to try to keep him stimulated. I figured it would be kind of boring just to lay there by himself facing the ground.

And of course I got some cute pictures because that's what I do... take pictures of my new little model : )

Then he needed to chillax in his seat for a little while. Clearly in this pic he's saying "Whew! Tummy time is hard, yo.".

And here's some more gratuitous Jack cuteness:

We ran some errands today and Jack was great, basically slept the whole time. We then decided to take a bit of a leap and go to our first dinner out in a restaurant as a family. We just got home from Max & Erma's a bit ago and Jack slept nearly the whole time in his car seat while Mark and I got a chance to eat dinner together. It was a very nice treat!

I feel like I'm getting a handle on this whole taking Jack out and about thing, but I can't believe that he's going to be a month old tomorrow!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Accomplishment of Sorts

I can wear my pre-pregnancy jeans! Woot!

I suppose that's not really an accomplishment per se because it's not like I actually did much to lose the weight, it's kind of a byproduct of the baby being removed from my body, but I'm excited just the same!

For weeks I have avoided my jeans like the plague. I was so scared that they wouldn't fit and then I'd be upset about it. However, the maternity jeans that I was still wearing when I had to were getting way too big, so I took the leap and they fit!

Honestly, I'm going to miss maternity clothes. They're comfy and it's okay to look fat in them. Now it's back to the real world of clothes with real waists and buttons.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear Adult Beverages,

How I have missed you! You and your fuzzy, nummy goodness! Please never leave my life again! *smooches*

Saturday, Mark and I kicked off the start of Spring with some BBQ Ribs and Beer Margaritas! That's right. I said BEER Margaritas. You can stop making that face like Mark's because they're delish. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it! And I've posted the recipe so you can. You can thank me later. : )

We've really been enjoying this fab weather! Jack and I have been taking a daily walk. Of course it's a short one, just around our little block, because I'm still getting on my feet. He seems to really like it, he falls right to sleep as soon as we're in motion! It's nice just to get out of the house for a bit to get some fresh air and sun.

Today was our first family trip to the grocery store. Jack did very well and basically slept the whole time. I think I'm nervous about taking him out and about for no reason. The next hurdle will be for me to take him out on my own. I don't think I'm ready for that yet!

Beer Margaritas

12 oz. Frozen limeade concentrate
12 oz. Water
6-12 oz. Tequila (depending on how strong you want it!)
12 oz. Beer (I used Corona)

Mix the frozen limeade, water, and tequila together until fully combined. Add in beer. Enjoy.

(Recipe from AllRecipes)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Breastfeeding = FAIL

Leading up to Jack's birth I was still undecided as to the feeding method we would use. I had done a lot of reading about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, but I just wasn't 100% convinced that the benefits of breast milk outweighed the time and energy commitments associated with breastfeeding.

I had serious questions as to how much I would enjoy nursing and I didn't want to put even more stress on myself. Taking care of a newborn is demanding enough! Also, I really questioned the fact that other people would not be involved in feeding the baby as I would be the sole food source. And on top of all that, I have quite a bit of experience with babies, but no one close to me has ever nursed their baby.

I was very unsure of this whole thing. Regardless, early on in my pregnancy I decided that I would at least try breastfeeding and give it a fair shot. I felt that I couldn't commit one way or the other without experiencing it first.

When we finally got time to nurse it was nearly 2 hours post-birth. For some reason I was very nervous about putting him to the breast. Suddenly the time had come and it was like I had no clue what to do. I think I actually asked the nurse if it was okay to nurse him : ) And of course it was, so she helped me get him situated and he latched right on. It was a strange experience, but it actually did feel natural.

Those first few days were challenging. Jack wanted (and needed) to nurse every hour or two, but every time we got him latched on he would fall right to sleep so breastfeeding became a three person job - Jack, Mark, and I were all needed to complete a successful feeding as strange as that sounds! Mark paid a lot of attention to the Lactation Consultants at the hospital and became remarkably adept at keeping Jack stimulated so that he would remain latched on and actively sucking. Often it would take 45 minutes to an hour to get him fed! Even though I was VERY sore, I was actually enjoying the process. It was a very gratifying experience.

We were in the hospital about 2 1/2 days post-birth. I kept asking the nurses and LCs when my milk would come in, whether the c-section would pose any problems to that process, and whether Jack was getting enough food. They assured me that as long as I was getting enough stimulation (and trust me, I definitely was!) then my milk would be in any time. I was also assured that my body was definitely doing its job and producing plenty of food for the baby.

So we went home. And I continued nursing. Jack was eating con.stan.tly. and it was hard for all of us to keep up with! I was tired and healing from surgery my nipples were sore and my milk still wasn't in.

4 days post-birth, no milk. 5 days post-birth, no milk. A week, no milk. We started to get worried and suspect that he wasn't getting enough food because he didn't have any dirty diapers and very few wet ones. 8 days post-birth we took Jack for his 1 week appointment with his pediatrician. We then found out that he had lost nearly a pound since his birth! Clearly he was not getting enough food.

I discussed with his ped the fact that my milk had yet to come in. She confirmed that it probably should have been in at that point. She suggested that I try an herbal supplement, Fenugreek. She also said that we needed to offer him the breast and let him feed, then supplement him with an ounce or two of formula. To that I also decided that I would try to pump periodically to stimulate milk production.

So we started the process of nursing and supplementing and pumping and it was tough, but 2 days later we took Jack back to the ped for a weight check to make sure that he was gaining weight and sure enough he had gained 4 ounces in 2 days. That was great news! Finally we were able to see that he was getting the food that he needed. By that point I could feel that I had a little bit more milk than I had previously and I could also see a little bit. So we were told to keep up with the nursing and supplementing and return in a week for another weight check.

Towards the end of the 2nd week postpartum my milk still hadn't fully come in and it was really hard to keep up with the nursing and supplementing. While nursing he would latch on and try to nurse, then unlatch a cry because he wasn't getting what he needed, then re-latch. It made for very long and difficult nursing sessions! We think he was experiencing nipple confusion because when we would then try to bottle feed him formula he would have trouble figuring out what he needed to do. So then we were trying to supplement his feedings with formula using a syringe. It was just crazy considering how many times a day a newborn needs to eat!

So we had a big discussion about what was best for Jack and for us. Ultimately we decided that it was best to switch him over exclusively to formula. I'm bummed about it because I did enjoy nursing and I know that breast milk does have advantages to formula and I think that Jack was good at nursing, it was just me and my body that couldn't produce what he needed. Not to mention we had put so much energy into making the process work. This makes me sad.

However, he's doing great on formula and it's so much easier for everyone involved. It really reassures us that we know exactly the amount of food that he's getting. We took him back to the ped yesterday - where he peed all over the place including on Mommy! For the record I've been peed on a number of times due to diaper malfunctions, and now this doctor's office shenanigans, Mark has not - and he has gained another 6 ounces! The doctor is pleased and he's nearly back to his birth weight.

Monday, March 15, 2010

2 Weeks!

I can't believe Jack is already 2 weeks old! This time has gone by so quickly! We have spent every day since his birth just catering to his every need. We are in a constant cycle of feeding, changing diapers, and his sleeping every two hours. Breaking your days down into 2 hour increments really makes the time go quickly!

Here are some memorable things from the first two weeks:

- Jack has realized that he has more space than he used to while in my tummy. He now does big full body stretches, but he does tend to still keep his hands balled up near his chin and his legs folded up near his body. Guess he's just more comfortable that way!

- He likes his bouncy seat and often naps there, but he gets upset when the vibration, which is on a timer, switches off. He kind of stirs and gets an angry old man face. He usually goes right back to sleep when it's turned back on.

- He makes the best faces! I wish I could capture them all on camera. They range from a concerned, furrowed brow, to what seems to be wide-eyed amazement when he's focusing on new things.

- Jack lost nearly a pound post-birth. We starved him for a week and didn't realize. Poor guy!

- He loved nursing and took well to it, unfortunately my body didn't cooperate. More on this later.

- While we were in the hospital he slept alllll the time. Wouldn't even wake up for feedings. The first handful of nights we were home Jack would sleep during the day after feedings, but didn't want any part of it at night. Those were some long nights... mostly for Daddy.

Something interesting we learned from the Pediatrician: It might be too dark and quiet at night. Babies sleep to avoid noise and that's likely why he slept better during the day. We added a nightlight, his swing, and some heartbeat sounds and it worked! He sleeps much better at nighttime now.

- Jack will not immediately go into a giant, loud, angry cry. He usually just does a little "heh-he heh-he heh-he" cry to let us know he's awake/wet/hungry/wants to be held and it's almost like he's saying "I need something... don't make me angry because I will cry".

- He smiles! I know people say it's just gas and I know that it's involuntary. It's not like he can do it on command, but quite often we see big full smiles. They happen while he's sleeping, or while he's just relaxing. I like to think that it's a manifestation of him being happy even if he doesn't know it's happening.

- Jack has the biggest hands and feet I've ever seen on a newborn! These are most definitely not from me! He reminds me of a puppy who needs to grow into his paws. To complement these hands and feet he has skinny little frog legs! : )

- He likes to scare Mommy and Daddy by lifting his head. He really does act like he's a little older. I'm not sure if the fact that he was born a week past my due date has anything to do with this or not. He doesn't just lift his head momentarily, he lifts his head to turn it, or to look at you, or to dive his whole body to the side. He has amazing control. I think he'll get the hang of the whole head thing pretty early.

- Oddly, he likes to lean to the right. Always. He does it whether he's in his bouncy seat on an incline, or laying flat in the bassinet.

- Jack just started getting real tears when he cries. Somehow it makes those cries sadder.

- He had his first real bath last night (in his tub vs. a sponge bath like he had been getting) and he only cried at the very beginning. After that he relaxed and didn't act scared at all even when we were rinsing his hair. He's very brave!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jack's Birth Story (Part 2)

As soon as we were settled into our new room another nurse came in to give me an IV. At that time I was given a dose of Nubain at my request for the pain. It was glorious for me. Kicked right in and relieved the pain while making me feel nice and out of it.

Around 2AM the anesthesiologist came in to give me my epidural. Due to a recently changed hospital policy the support person is no longer allowed in the room when the epidural is given. So my husband left the room and ran down to the car to grab a few things. I was still nice and relaxed from my dose of drugs earlier so I had no problems getting the epidural. Well, except when he put something in my back and said "you may feel a shooting pain down your leg. Try not to move". Right after he said that I had the shooting pain - which wasn't really a pain per say, it was more like an electric zing, almost like when the doctor hits your knee to check your reflex - there was no way I could hold still. My leg pretty much involuntarily jumped! I guess that knocked the epidural catheter out of place and they had to redo it. I didn't have the pain the second time so all was supposed to be well.

Right after I was situated back on the bed the baby's heart rate started to drop. So I was pushed over onto my side and an oxygen mask was put on my face. A bunch of people rushed into the room and things got very scary. Someone went out to get my husband and in the meantime the baby's heart rate went back up - thank goodness! According to someone who was talking to me - I don't remember who... - the baby's heart rate dropped because he couldn't tolerate the Nubain.

After that I thought we were on our way to pain free goodness. Not quite. The Nubain wore off and I realized that the epidural had only affected my right side and not very well at that. To top things off they would only let me lay on my left side because anytime I shifted the baby's heart rate dropped. The pain was terrible because it was so concentrated and I was getting sore from laying in one spot for so long. I was miserable.

The anesthesiologist came back in during the 4 o'clock hour to try re-dosing my epidural through the same catheter. It didn't work. Around 5am we decided with my nurse that they would try to completely redo the epidural, but we were no longer the only people there. Apparently there were now about 7 women in labor on the floor and I was now third in line for an epidural. So I suffered, unable to move.

Around 6.30am the anesthesiologist came back to re-do my epidural. Let me tell you, getting it a second time was HELL. At that point I was in pain and I was already hooked up to tons of wires and tubes and I had a catheter in, all of which I could feel and I had to sit just so and hold perfectly still in order for the doctor to do his job. It was terrible. The only thing that got me through it was telling myself that I would be able to relax afterwards. At the same time I was begging the universe for this to work!

A little after 7am the second epidural seemed to take well. I was finally able to relax some so my husband decided to quickly run home (about 10 mins away) to let our dog out. It was decided that the epidural had slowed down my labor (of course) so they hooked me up to Pitocin (of course). Shortly thereafter the nurse came rushing in to roll me to my left side again and hook me back up to oxygen because the baby's heart rate had dropped again. Several doctors rushed in to the room while I tried to remain calm and at some point I was given a shot of something to stop my labor completely. Thank goodness that worked and the baby's heart rate came back up again. It was determined that the baby wasn't tolerating labor well. My contractions were really strong and my uterus wasn't relaxing in between giving him a chance to rest. They didn't say that it was the Pitocin that caused it, but that's my guess.

Mark got back around 8am and felt bad about missing the action again. I'm glad he wasn't there, it was scary. At that point they checked me again and I was at 6 cms dilated, 100% effaced and baby's head was at a zero station.

All was well for a little bit, then around 11am I started to feel a lot of really uncomfortable pressure. They were still keeping me laying on one side which didn't help at all. The pressure than progressed to pressure and pain combined. They said there was nothing they could do for what I was feeling and I was only about 7 cms dilated. Every time I had a contraction I could feel it, so around that time I began having to breathe through every contraction. So much for my epidural. They had me back on the Pitocin and had increased the amount at some point so my contractions were literally one minute long coming every other minute and sometimes back to back. I controlled the pain with breathing forever, but eventually it was just too much to control, not to mention I wasn't allowed to move (even though I could, freely because the stupid epidural didn't work!). I was miserable and there wasn't anything I could do about it.

Around 1pm I was dilated to 8 cms and by late afternoon I was still there, no progress made. My nurse-midwife came to check me around 5pm and at that point she told me that she recommended a c-section. The baby wasn't doing well, I wasn't doing well, and despite the fact that I had been on 2 antibiotics all day my temperature was going up because my water had been broken for so long and they thought I might be getting an infection. (Something I forgot to note - when they broke my water early in the morning they saw some meconium so they started me on some sort of saline something to flush out my uterus as well as 2 types of antibiotics. At this point I also lost hope that I would be able to hold the baby immediately after delivery or put him skin to skin. This was my first loss of the day.)

I asked a lot of questions about our options and ultimately decided to go ahead with the c-section based upon our situation. I was pretty upset. This was exactly what I had hoped to avoid for so many reasons, but it seemed like the best and safest option for us at that point. Once the decision was made everything went very quickly. My primary OB/GYN came in to discuss with us what would happen and I signed some forms. Mark was given some scrubs to put on and I was wheeled into the operating room.

I had to sit in pain again to be given a spinal block. After it was administered I was FINALLY pain free, but unfortunately I was now laying on an operating table with a blue curtain blocking my view of my lower half. It didn't matter because I had kept my eyes closed the entire time so as to try to remain calm. The operating room scared me. It was so clinical. I kept thinking that I had seen this happen so many times on baby shows and I never thought it would happen to me, but now it was. I tried to block everything from my mind but my soon to be born baby. Once Mark came in it helped me some and very shortly thereafter we had a baby!

Jack Michael was born at 6:01pm weighing in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces, and 20 inches in length. His little cries were the best thing I had heard in a long time and as soon as they brought him around the curtain I saw his cute little monkey feet wiggling at me! We got to snap a few pictures and they cleaned him up. There were no problems with his lungs as a result of the meconium or the c-section thank goodness and then he was whisked away for a mandatory hour to be warmed and checked and all that. This was the worst part, but at least Mark was able to go with him.

They brought him to me about an hour and a half later while I was recovering back in my labor room and I finally got to hold him. By 9pm we were settled into our postpartum room with our new baby and we were exhausted! We had been up for nearly 40 hours with no sleep. I was able to nurse and then we all went to sleep.

That first night I was up all night. I don't think I got more than an hour or two of sleep. I constantly had to be awake for something. I nursed Jack almost constantly and if I wasn't nursing then I was being checked by a nurse and they slowly started removing tubes and such from me. I know they did at least one blood draw that night and they kept bringing in oral medication for me to take. Also, I had these things on my legs that were like blood pressure cuffs. They went off probably every 10-15 minutes. Apparently they were to prevent blood clots. At 5am the nurse had me on my feet because I had to walk for a bit. The spinal block had worn off and it actually felt good to get up and move around. It had been over 24 hours since I had been able to.

I ended up staying in the hospital for 3 days and was released on Wednesday morning at my request. I think I slept a total of 5 or 6 hours the entire time we were there. We have been working on getting settled in to home life ever since!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Jack's Birth Story (Part 1)

The first contraction hit me right around 7pm on Saturday (Feb. 27th). I was 40 weeks, 6 days pregnant by my doctor's calculations. We had an induction scheduled for the following evening and were sure that this baby was never coming on his own so we had spent the day getting things done around the house in preparation for going to the hospital the next day.

The very first contraction was PAIN.FUL. In fact, I had no idea that it was a contraction because it did not feel anything like how they had been described to me. The baby had been sitting so low for so long that I had a lot of nerve pain the last few weeks so I figured it was just more of the same.

Of course as soon as I seemed to be in pain Mark was asking if it was a contraction because we had been waiting for the onset of labor for so long. I told him I didn't think so, but like so many times before we noted the time in case a pattern did establish.

About 20 minutes later I had another terrible pain. Again, did not feel like a contraction. I didn't feel my belly tighten, I didn't feel pain all over, all I felt was pain in my lower abdomen/pelvic region which is where all of my pain had been centered for the last several weeks. At that point I decided I would jump in the shower and maybe it would make me feel better.

I took a nice hot shower without incident and when I got out Mark asked me if I had any more pains. I told him no, the shower must have helped relax me. When I got back to my bedroom however I ended up doubled over the bed in pain again. I had spoken too soon. This was my third contraction, just as strong as the first two and they were still about 20 minutes apart.

I laid in bed while another contraction or two passed. I decided I'd call my doctor and see what they said. When the doctor on call contacted me back, I discussed with her what I was experiencing. She wasn't sure, but said it was likely contractions and I should head to the hospital if they got into a pattern where they were lasting a minute and coming every 5 minutes for an hour. When I got off the phone with the doctor I called my mom to tell here what I was experiencing. She said it didn't sound like any kind of contractions she had ever felt.

After my calls I ended up out in the family room on the couch and having a few more pains. At that point I was thinking they were contractions because of the frequency/pattern as well as the fact that I could feel them building, peak, and then going away. However, I was still concerned because they were so much stronger than I had expected and not like anything that had been described to me. There was no gradual building and I had never been able to talk through them. I was also worried that something might be wrong.

At this point the pains were coming every 10 to 15 minutes and it had only been a couple of hours. I went to the bathroom and as I was walking back out I was hit with another pain that landed me on the floor in a ball. I was to the point of not even being able to breathe through them let alone talk during the pain and I think a lot of that was because I didn't know if something was wrong or if I was really in labor. I still wasn't convinced.

I told Mark that I wanted to go to the hospital to have everything checked and find out for sure what was going on. He readily agreed so we gathered our bags which had been packed for weeks and headed out for the hospital around 10.30pm.

At the hospital I was sent to triage in Labor and Delivery where I put on a hospital gown and was hooked up to monitors which kept track of the baby's heartbeat and my contractions. As soon as they hooked me up to the monitor the nurse was able to confirm that I was in fact having contractions and they were happening frequently. We made a good decision to go to the hospital because in the 10 minutes it took us to get there my contractions started coming every 2 to 5 minutes. The nurse checked my cervix and said that I was 3 cm dilated and still 80% effaced.

After I was on the monitors for a while the nurse contacted my doctor who said they wanted me to walk around for an hour and then be rechecked. AN HOUR. Have I mentioned that the pain was really bad? Every time I had a contraction it felt like my pelvis was going to break. Ouch. But walk we did.

I think we were the only people there at the time. I shuffled around the halls while holding Mark's hand. Every couple of minutes I had to stop and grip the railing where I tried my hardest to relax and breathe through the contractions. Well, apparently my whine/breathe was kind of loud because after a half hour of these shenanigans the nurse came to us and said that I could stop now, they were convinced that I was in active labor and they wanted to admit me.

Around 1am Sunday morning (2/28) I shuffled over to my new room, which I hardly remember because I was in so much pain, and then things started to get crazy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Finally! Jack Michael is Here!

I'll make time to post a full birth story eventually, but here's a pic to tide you over!

Jack was born at 6:01 pm on Sunday, February 28th via c-section following nearly 24 hours of labor! He weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and measured 20 inches in length. I actually ended up going into labor on my own Saturday evening. We are all healthy and I'm healing nicely. I will have tons more pictures and info to post once I get a spare minute!