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Happy news friends!

Dilation: 1.5-2cm (about the same as a week ago, but not shabby either – also, about what I expected)

Effacement: 85-90% !!! With Justin, when I was admitted for my induction at 42 weeks I was only at 40%! What this means: my cervix is “very ripe” and ready to go at any time the contractions decide to kick into gear!

Station: -1. This one too is pretty exciting for me. This means li’l Miss Georgia is settling well into my pelvis. When I was admitted for induction with Justin, he was at -3 (VERY high in my belly). This also means that non-medical induction techniques are MORE likely to work (ie. stripping of membranes, foley catheter induction, etc) because she’s already putting some pressure on my cervix!

WOOT! Good news! I also asked the midwife when the earliest she’d consider stripping membranes would be. She said next week, but admitted to doing a very “thorough” exam when she was getting my stats (like, just shy of “stripping” anyway). As a result, I’ve had LOTS of really good, though light, contractions all afternoon. I’ll take every single one I can get at this point since each one brings us that much closer to meeting our little girl!

Now, for a little realism here: This does not mean I’m going into labor at any moment. What it does mean is that things are pointing to both an earlier delivery (when compared with Justin), and a far reduced risk of medical induction. I’m VERY happy with this!

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So, we’re trying to fine-tune Justin’s sleep before baby comes since he’s been waking 2-3 times a night, and sleeping so restlessly (like rolling on to the floor a few times a night even), and then being a total bear the next day. So, at the advice of Justin’s Developmental Pediatrician at Children’s, we tried last night to just use one of his 2 sleep meds (with the thinking being that he was losing sensitivity to the other – so take him off for a week, add it back…). He slept maybe 1.5-2hrs at regular time, then woke up and was up playing until 4am! Whooo boy! I’m thinking the other med is still working! At least somewhat!

For anyone playing the pre-labor home game here are today’s stats (37 weeks + 6 days):

Dilation: 1.5 cm

Effacement: 50%

That’s slightly further along than I was with Justin at this point. Here’s hoping this also means that little Miss Georgia decides to make her debut a bit less overdue than Mr. Justin did!

My last post was nearly 5 months ago.  Ugh… so much has happened in, you know, life.  

Justin is doing great.  He’s plenty dramatic at times – he still throws tantrums daily that look like overgrown versions of a 2-year-old’s over-tired meltdown.  At the same time, he’s so sweet: If I’m home when he gets up in the morning, he comes and climbs into bed with me, snuggles in and smiles and says, “Hi Momma.”  It’s only a matter of moments before he demands I do something for him, but those precious moments are just that: precious.  Since I last posted, school has started again and Justin is out of the house for a full 4 hours 4 days a week.  He’s also started bi-weekly private speech therapy.  

 

Our “tiny baby” is growing lots.   I’m now wrapping up week 26.  Morning sickness tapered off around weeks 12-13 with a net momma weight loss of 12lbs.  It got bad enough that I could only keep water down with the help of a hefty dose of Zofran – which came with its own dose of unpleasant side effects.  Since then my job has been eating well: easy on the carbs, up on the protein, and watching my portions with the end goal of sliding into 40 weeks as close to 0lbs net gained.  So far I’m on track, rounding out the end of month 6 having only gained back 3 of the pounds I lost during the first trimester.  I’ve had almost no bloating (with Justin, by the time I found out I was even pregnant, I couldn’t wear my wedding ring), and over all, I feel pretty damn good.  Recently I’ve had some trouble with hip pain from what has been diagnosed as SI joint dysfunction (where my pelvic bones aren’t lining up the way they should with my coccyx) which can lead to some pretty knarly spasms.  Fortunately, it hasn’t gotten me in any trouble at work, and I continue to work as many hours as I can (40+).  

 

Last month we found out for certain that we are indeed expecting a sweet little GIRL!  We’re of course thrilled for so many reasons, not the least of which is simply that our autism risk is lower with a girl.  I had an ultrasound at 18 weeks and again at 21.  Both times our little baby was very busy sucking her thumb and pedaling her little feet.  At the last one, I actually got to see her wave her little fingers at me – one, two, three, four, five!  She’s measuring right on target, and there’s been no mention of moving due dates like there was when Justin kept measuring bigger and bigger.  

 

My big challenges?  

Keeping the pregnancy a secret from donors – since as soon as the cat’s out of the bag professionalism is super hard to maintain in my type of workplace.  Fortunately for now, my lab coat is as un-form-fitting and ill-fitting as a refrigerator box.  

The other thing is finding time to fulfill my almost extreme urge to do projects of a particularly domestic nature.  Sewing, baking, generally getting the house in order.  Not clinical “nesting”, but suffice it to say that I’m making due with crazy amounts of checklists that I just keep chipping away at.  And yes, I will be shampooing the carpet in December, and have already made 5 new receiving blankets.  🙂

Ok.  It might not seem like much.  All kids potty train at some point or another.  Though, you have to admit, few take a full 2.5 years from first try to first success. 

My little boy is 4-years 3-months old.  We knew it might take him longer to potty train than most with his developmental delays, so we’ve tried to be patient.  We’ve been told by his specialist not to expect regular success on the potty until around age 5.  We have tried E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. 

Today, I took Justin to the bathroom because he’d done the deed (#2) in his diaper, and thanks to the super-sensitive nose bequeathed to me by my current pregnancy it could NOT wait.  Got him in there, cleaned him up, then had him sit on the potty as usual.  To spare my nose further assault I opted to leave the room a moment to get a plastic bag to put the stench into.  When I returned, Justin was still happily sitting there.  At this moment though, I heard something.  It was the sound of a tiny person peeing.  I didn’t believe it at first.  In fact, it wasn’t until he got up and I got him dressed that I looked into the toilet and saw something incredible: yellow water. 

OH MY FREAKIN’ GOODNESS!!  YELLOW WATER!!!! 

It took a minute to let it sink in to my brain what had happened.  Seriously!  I went out to Justin and asked him, “Justin, did you put pee in the potty?  Did you go potty?!”  As is his nature he looked at me half ambivalent, half disinterested then left to go play without saying a word.

Now I have to not let it go to my head, because naturally I’m thinking all of the following things all at once:

Holy Crap!  What just happened?  Was that real?  I am SO PROUD!  Does this mean that *maybe* he’ll be mostly potty trained by the time the new baby comes?!  Will he even do it again? 

If nothing else, I’ll take this one success and hope it happens again very soon!  Gotta remind myself that one step forward – even if the next one doesn’t come for a VERY long time, is still a step forward.  Right?

 

Today, May 22, 2012 I am 7 weeks 4 days pregnant with pregnancy #3. So far the numbers (HcG, Progesterone) have looked good. I’ve been nauseous, had the sore boobs, and the roller-coaster emotions of a hormone-riddled well, pregnant lady.  I’ve been taking 100mg of Progesterone each day as a little bit of an insurance policy.  We got pregnant on our first attempt following our official “okay-to-try-again” from the midwife.

I haven’t told many people, mostly out of fear. I mean we announced at Church at 5 weeks because we are in desperate need of their prayers. But other than that, I don’t even think most of my family knows.  Only 2 friends at work know.

This pregnancy has, in many ways, been more terrifying than the last one.  I wake up every single morning and jab the girls to make sure they still hurt.  On mornings when they hurt less, I freak out.  I’ve had a couple of crazy cravings already: Rolo candy and on a separate occasion, Kraft American Cheese Singles.  I fight nausea every day.  In week 6 alone I lost 3.8lbs, and I’ve probably lost more this week.  I’m not throwing up, but between the food aversions, the plain ol’ nausea, and the fear of throwing up (or at least hours of dry-heaving) if I do eat I’m lucky if I take in 800 calories a day.  I’m already in maternity pants – my scrubs were loose to begin with and they are just starting to get snug – my regular jeans aren’t even close to being button-able.

Despite all this, I am terrified at what I might see on my ultrasound today.  What I’m desperately praying to see is a robust heartbeat, good placental placement, and growth on target.   What if we see a repeat of last time?  What if something is very wrong?

For the moment, I’m taking comfort in having woken up with the Trisagion Hymn in my head.  For the moment, I’ll embrace it with the hope that it holds me through my fear this morning.

 

Up?  Down?  Happy?  Sad?  Anxious?  Frustrated?

Yes.

All of the above.

I’m now a full 9.5 weeks pregnant with a baby who stopped growing at just under 6 weeks (See my last blog post, “Sophia”)

I have come to accept that my baby is not growing and now find myself in this strange limbo.  A sense of finality juxtaposed by what feels like an eternity continuing on.  I’ve had the slightest bit of cramping, but not so much as the tiniest amount of spotting.  My mind wants to let go, to start the next adventure, but my body just won’t.  My heart aches for the loss of my baby, and yet I want to put it all behind me.

I saw the midwife on Thursday, on what should have been my first prenatal visit.  Matt and I went to her beautiful home office – with its warm colors and soothing smells and atmosphere.  Beautiful pictures of mothers and newborns together – soaking up each others’ presence covering one of the walls.  I don’t think jealousy was what I was feeling.  Just sadness.  I wanted that to be me, to be us: me holding and nursing and cuddling my sweet little baby.  Matt squeezing my shoulder.  Justin petting his new sibling’s little baby-fuzz capped head.

I feel guilty wanting her to pass.  She’s my baby – no matter how small.

I’ve gotten good at ignoring it all.  I can even laugh – go a few days without crying.  Then I have moments like these – where it just hurts.  I feel a bit lost, alone, and frustrated.  God has a plan, but I’m having some difficulty seeing what it is.  I am weary of just waiting and doing nothing –  but the alternative is frightening to me.  I don’t know how I should feel, or even what to focus on.   There are those who see me fairing better than they would have anticipated, and there are those who are the opposite – that I’m making mountains out of molehills (after all, this kind of thing  happens every day).  Deep down, I want to believe both of them – like it would give me some kind of guideline, some practical way of coping that I’m clearly missing since i just keep switching sides.  Maybe it’s just the hormones.  Maybe I’m just flipping insane.  Either way, I need some peace.  I need for however I’m feeling in the moment to be okay.  To be “normal”.

When I was 2 weeks “overdue” with Justin, I really thought that nothing could be worse than the countless hours of waiting for my son to be born.  Now I know that waiting for the arrival of a life, a beginning, is better than waiting for the arrival of an ending.

I just want it to be over.  Lord, please, have mercy.  Bring speedy resolution to my suffering.

Tomorrow, Saturday, February 19th is the Saturday of Souls – we will be in Church honoring our child.  A candle will be lit for the child that will never taste the air or feel her mothers touch.

I left off part one with us leaving St. Joe’s.  One of the things I had been looking forward to at the conclusion of my pregnancy was the re-addition of caffeine.  Being tired and starving from only eating the horrible hospital food, we stopped at Burger King on the way home from the hospital.  We didn’t even go straight home, we went from the hospital, to the burger joint, and then home.  Of course though, this would be one of many cold meals to come.  The one thing I could do was sip that diet coke.  It was delicious, completely unlike Justin’s behavior after nursing on a caffeinated boob.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that caffeine even in moderation would have to wait.  Every time I consumed it, Justin would get fussy, inconsolable, and appeared completely uncomfortable. 

The first few nights at home were painfully hard.  I called my mom at 2am nearly every night that weekend in tears.  My nipples hurt, the nipple shield was a pain in the butt, and Justin was not soothed.  I had become a 24-hour-a-day pacifier.  That first Sunday was Western Easter Sunday.  And at 5am that morning, I had had enough.  We packed up the baby, got dressed, and went to the only store open at 5am on Easter: Walgreens.  God bless those Sikhs who work odd hours and holidays that Christians wouldn’t dream of.   There I was in Walgreens, with a 3-day-old infant in the car with my husband at 5am, blurry-eyed and desperate staring blankly at the 3 kinds of pacifiers they carried.  The first pacifier I selected turned out to have been recalled (as reported by the cash register), so back to the baby aisle I went.  Finally, I found and bought the only other pacifier remaining that wasn’t intended for a 6-month-old.  Back at home, that pacifier packaging was quickly discarded, the pacifier washed and promptly inserted into my exhausted newborn’s mouth.  Swaddled and placed in his crib happily sucking away, we all slept for 5 hours straight.  To this day, that was the best 5 hours of sleep I have EVER gotten.  Later that morning, my milk came in.  I praised God for that.  My son was hungry, and seemed much more satisfied that day despite, I would later learn, being the “King of the Non-Nutritive Latch”. 

TWO WEEKS TO 3 MONTHS IN:

The next few weeks I was mercifully visited by my midwife and a visiting nurse from the Mother Baby Center.   Both we immensely helpful in helping me move to actually feeding my son rather than being a sore, over-tired, human pacifier.  We worked on a schedule, tried a bunch of holds, figured out how to use my nursing pillow correctly, and most importantly worked more on our little latch problem.  Turned out that a lot of our problem was simply that Justin could not figure out how to latch appropriately to actually stimulate much milk flow which, in turn, left him constantly hungry.  Within two weeks I got my first blocked duct (a golf ball sized knot right next to my breast bone on the right side).  At the advice of my home nurse, I pumped using my newly acquired breastpump.  It worked, and soon the knot was gone.  I did get another gift as a result though.  My right side was now a full 2 cup sizes bigger than my left.  

This is not something they tell you when you’re getting ready to have a baby: that it’s possible to end up completely lopsided.  Being vain as any woman, thoughts ran through my head that I would never be able to wear a normal bra again.  That my husband would think I was a freak, and most of all, that it would be noticeable to EVERYONE who saw me.  Fortunately, none of those things came to pass.  And for those of you reading this who haven’t been through this, or haven’t had kids yet, I’ll tell you now: after weaning my son, I’m no longer lopsided – though it did take a few months.

I’d love to say that nursing got easier.  In some ways, I simply learned to manage, in others, I was as frustrated as before.

 I both dreaded and looked forward to Church those first few months.  On the one hand, I knew that I would be totally distracted from worship, and that Justin would have a blowout or need to nurse right at the most inopportune moment.  On the other hand, there were two other and (as I viewed them) more successfully nursing moms there with me in the cry room that I could hopefully observe their technique for nursing in public without looking like a voyeur.  

The first few weeks, I hadn’t figured out how to nurse in public so I’d leave the Church and go nurse in the car under the cover of tinted windows.  That’s the thing about being new to breastfeeding – it’s not the smooth, beautiful image that you think of when you’re reading the books or talking to LaLecheLeague people.  Nope.  Not at all.  It’s awkward, and at times I’m sure, grotesque.  Do you pull the shirt up or down?  How much skin needs to be exposed to get a good hold for my kid to latch on?  I don’t have my nursing pillow, how do I hold my baby and do the “C” thing to hold the boob right?  How many people am I willing to flash to avoid nursing my kid on a public toilet (yeah, that’s sanitary)?  What do I do if he comes off?  Eventually I got one of those cool BebeAuLait nursing covers which resolved many of these issues as it was big enough and stayed put well enough that I could fiddle with the nipple shield without flashing everyone as I tried not to drop my son on the floor. 

 This is the first time in my life that I’d wished I lived in one of those secluded African tribes where the women never wear shirts or bras, and it was expected that people would see you hanging out.  Not because I wanted to be seen, but because it seems like in those cultures that if one woman saw you having trouble, she would jump in and show you how to do it right.  I really do think that is something that is lacking in our culture.  I know some of it comes from the fact that breastfeeding is just now becoming more common for the first time in about 100 years, so very few of our mothers or other leader-type women in our circles are very experienced with it. 

By the time Justin was 8 weeks old, I had been through multiple blocked ducts, thrush (which by the way was best helped with regular treatment with genetian violet, vinegar, and warm-saline water dips), and one infection that was never completely diagnosed (because doctors aren’t well-versed in the complications of nursing mothers) but that had left my nipples peeling off in chunks and actually smelling of some bacterial growth.  GROSS.  I literally spent days in our recliner with Justin on the “MyBrestFriend” nursing pillow, boobs hanging out, both of us fighting sleep, repeating the Jesus prayer to avoid bursting into tears.  I sometimes resented my son’s need to nurse because it hurt so much. 

Around this time, I became a “pump and serve” mom.  I would pump only, then serve that milk in a bottle to Justin.  The pump didn’t grind or chew, and I never had to worry about whether or not I got completely empty because I could see it.  That was great.  The downside was spending precious maternity-leave time at the sink washing pump parts and bottles instead of playing with my ever growing wonderful little boy.  When I got all healed up, I was determined to not only wean Justin back to the breast, but to eventually get him off the nipple shield too.  It took a while, but with patience, and I think Justin finally figuring out this whole nursing thing, I got him off the bottle and on to the nipple shield on the breast, to the bare breast.  Lots of folks said it couldn’t be done.  I did it.  By the time I returned to work when Justin was 12 weeks old, Justin could nurse without the nipple shield almost all the time (it was a little tougher when he was really tired).  For the first time, I didn’t dread nursing.  I finally felt like I could do it thanks to my experience and figuring out how to reach out for help with nursing from other moms around me.

There’s one person who is pretty integral to this whole process who I haven’t talked about much yet: my wonderful, supportive, and encouraging husband.  Those first few months I relied on him to get any sleep at all, and to find my own humanity amid my “milk machine” state of being.  There was really very little he could do to make nursing work on his own other than to give me the space to work things out with our baby.  I am deeply appreciative of his respect in my decision to breastfeed, for putting up with me pushing him away when I was jealous of him being the one who could just play with our son, not just feed him.  He has changed his share of diapers, prepared his share of meals, and provided the hugs and reassurance I needed to get through this tough first period. 

Next up in Part 3: my return to work and adventures in teething!

Hi everyone.  This is a blog I’ve been planning to write for some time: it’s the story of my nursing relationship with my son, Justin Elias Owen.  Since I have breastfed/nursed Justin into toddlerhood and I’ve not kept it a secret, it is not unusual these days to get asked all sorts of questions about breastfeeding from all kinds of different people in my life.  It’s no burden, and I enjoy helping other moms be comfortable with their choice to breastfeed, as well as encourage them when it’s tough.  And it is often tough.

A little background and a disclaimer, I feel, is appropriate.  I’m no lactation consultant, I’m no midwife, I hold no degree in anything really useful when it comes to breastfeeding.  I haven’t really even read any books particularly related to breastfeeding except what I could pick up from an article here and there on the internet.  It might get a little graphic and most definitely personal.  This is just my story.  Well, our story. 

BIRTH AND THE FIRST FEW DAYS:

Justin was born at 11:14pm on March 19, 2008.  This was 15 days past my latest calculated due date (one ultrasound suggested my due date was Feb 28, another March 5).  Up until this point my focus had been on preparing for labor, preparing for the birth, preparing our tiny apartment for our tiny little person.  Okay, not so tiny.  9lbs 2oz is not exactly little in the newborn world.  I had acquired a breastpump, courtesy my dad and eBay, as well as the most highly recommended nursing pillow: the “My Brest Friend”.  That was pretty much it.  Boy, was I unprepared.

I had this dream that my son would be born in a peaceful environment with a midwife and doula (and Matt of course) at the Bellingham Birth Center.  Quiet of bustle not related to his entrance.  He would come out, I would hold him, skin-to-skin, and nurse him and cuddle him – the cord would be cut after it stopped pulsating and we’d be together.  Well, that’s not what I got, and neither did Justin or his dad.  At 40 weeks (due date time), we started looking at getting labor started naturally.  The midwife did the sweeping of membranes thing.  That did nothing.  I used Blue and Black Cohosh several times a day for longer than I’d like to remember.  I must’ve walked 20 miles those last two weeks.  If I was sitting, I was on our balance ball bouncing and stretching out my hips.  We had a great number of false alarms.  Well, not really false – I’d had classic Braxton-Hicks type contractions for the whole month prior.  These were different, rhythmic, escalating in strength, and would move closer together with time.  I’d work this way for 10 hours at a time, working hard enough to work up a sweat, and lose my breath.  Then it would stop.  So, back to the midwife we went, at 41 weeks and 6 days.  They did a balloon catheter induction, and I walked around the mall for 3 hours with a tube taped to my leg.  No luck.  Next was the castor oil.  I vomited mightily, and other things, but only got about an hours worth of contractions out of it.  The next day I checked in to St. Joe’s to be induced.  There we tried the cervix-softening gel to no avail.  After a few hours of waiting, the OB and the nurses decided to let me get some rest and we’d start the dreaded Pitocin early the next morning. 

Water broken by the OB after a few hours of Pitocin induced labor, it was very obviously discovered that Justin had (as Matt puts it) “Pooped in his fishbowl”.  Translation: lots of meconium.  So the “Pit of despair” was continued.  Hours later, Justin was tugged out of me after a “stem-to-stern” episiotomy and cord immediately cut, and my son, limp and quiet was whisked across the room to a table surrounded by a team of respiratory therapists for life-saving rescusitation.  Heart rate had been good, but, having “pooped in his fishbowl” Justin had inhaled into his lungs A LOT of his own poo.  I still remember more than two years later the feeling of fear and anxiety as I chanted, “Cry, baby!! Cry!  Please, just cry!  Breathe!”.  We waited what felt like an eternity to hear those first few sputtering cries (it was, in fact, nearly 2 full minutes).  He was then wrapped up, given to his dad, and then given to me to hold for the first time for just a moment before he was taken away to the nursery for 3 full hours (for examination and to make sure he was stable after his respiritory ordeal).  I have debated with myself many times whether or not to post this picture, but I finally feel like I can share it.  I fight tears every time I see it as it captures my very first meeting with my son:

No time for nursing, cuddling, or anything close to what I had imagined/hoped for.  For the next three hours I was alone (Matt went with Justin to the nursery), in the dark, buzzing with the events I’d just experienced.  Tired but fearfully concerned for my child, wanting to be close to him, to see him, to have a comforting hand to hold in my first hours of being a mother who had only seen her child for 2 minutes of the 3 hours of being in the world.  I wanted desperately to touch him, count his fingers and toes, see his hair – but I couldn’t.  “I just want to see my son” didn’t seem an appropriate response for the call I wanted to make to the nurse.  Instead I waited, prayed, and hoped.  After that first three hours, I was moved to a regular, non-delivery room where I got to see Matt and finally, my son.  I held him, but was afraid to try to nurse.  I didn’t know what to do. 

 The next morning I got brave and tried.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I had been given these horribly drawn pictures of how to hold the breast for nursing a newborn, descriptions that were clearly meant for someone who was a B cup with picturesque nipples.  I just couldn’t get it to work, to look like the picture, to get him to latch without hurting me.  Was my body messed up?  Was I the wrong shape completely?  I had a cracked nipple within hours of the first attempt at nursing.  One hospital lactation consultant came with questions, concerns, and not a lot of patience for where I was coming from.  She tried, it was just a frustrating situation.  Inverted nipples are not helpful for nursing.  This poor lactation consultant brought a lot of equipment I was previously unfamiliar with: weird things like breast shells, soothing packs (which did squat), lanolin, and a nipple shield.  Holy crap this was gonna be complicated!  I thought it was supposed to be natural, normal, simple. 

By the time we left the hospital, I had one bleeding nipple which happened to be the only one I could ever seem to get a reasonable latch on, and another which just ached with the idea of even trying again.  Only the nipple shield helped at all, to keep me from crying in pain the whole time we tried to nurse.  I was determined not to use any formula, no pacifiers, nothing.  This was it, and if I was going to have one thing the way I wanted it, this was it.  I was going to breastfeed my son.  I was not going to wimp out.  I was not going to give in.  And I didn’t.

To be continued…

In an effort to get Justin interested in even sitting on potty, we’ve resorted to keeping a small container of mini chips ahoy cookies in our bathroom. He only gets one, and only when he sits on the potty.

Now, at least, he’ll allow you to put him on the potty. Then he’ll sit and cry there chewing on his “bat-oom cook-ay”. Sigh. We want to make potty training a positive experience, but how do we get him even interested in putting his excrement in the dang toilet? We’re hoping that “Bathroom cookies” at least take the “why would I do that when I could just go in my diaper?” out of the equation. When he sits on the potty we congratulate him and cheer, and tell him what a wonderful big boy he is… lots of positive reinforcement.

Any ideas?

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