What I wish I knew: The breastfeeding edition.

So I have decided to put together s series of posts called “What I Wish I Knew” which will feature several topics that I started out very uneducated on, but now feel as though I have amassed a small amount of wisdom that I would like to be able to:

  • Recall for baby #2
  • Share with other parents who may find some value in it

I definitely don’t have all of the answers (yet…I’m working on it 😉) but I’ve encountered a few cool tricks and learned a few hard lessons that have helped to make me a stronger, happier, more efficient mama.

First up is breastfeeding.

Which has pretty much been the bane of my existence for the last 8 weeks.

My breastfeeding journey started about 2 hours after I gave birth when a lactation consultant showed up in my hospital room wheeling a hospital grade Medela pump and a roughly cut piece of stretchy fabric that she made into a makeshift hands-free nursing bra. She instructed me to put the conical breast shields over my nipples, followed by the fabric which she cut holes into so the shields would poke out and could be connected to the collection cups so I could pump without having to use my hands to hold everything up.

Lesson #1: Pack a hands-free nursing bra in my hospital bag.

While I am planning on addressing all of the “things” I have found that have proven to be wonderful and helpful in another blog post, I do absolutely love the Lanisoh Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra and actually bought two of them so that I had a backup handy for when the first was dirty.

The lactation consultant also gave me a sterile kit of brand new medela accessories which I was able to take home when I left the hospital along with two small, plastic basins to use to wash and rinse the parts, a small bottle brush, and a travel sized bottle of dish soap. It was kind of amazing. It got my wife and I used to the process of cleaning and caring for the pump parts before we left the hospital. I dont know if every hospital offers that and I dont plan on giving birth anywhere else in the future, but it may be worth checking to see what your hospital offers and packing some of that if they don’t. I dont know what we would have done without those things (probably not pumped and if we did: probably not effectively clean the parts).

Of course, the plan was to feed baby directly from by breasts, but her NICU stay threw a wrench in those plans.

I wasn’t able to hold my daughter for the first 13 hours of her life, let alone feed her. So I did the next best thing: I pumped:

  • 15 minutes
  • Every two hours
  • On the highest setting

 

Which brings me to lessons two and three:

Lesson #2: Power Pump

Lesson #3: Chill on the crazy high pump settings. This isn’t 50 Shades of Grey. Your nipples will thank you.

So I didn’t find out about power pumping until my daughter was about a week old. The premise is: you pump several times throughout a one hour period with breaks in between (the schedule I found and used is: pump 20 minutes, rest 10, pump 10, rest 10, pump 10). The idea is that it tricks your body into thinking that baby is cluster feeding so you produce more milk. I wish I knew that in the early few days so I could have worked on boosting my supply a little sooner. I don’t know when you’re SUPPOSED to introduce power pumping, but since I didn’t have access to my own little cluster feeder I’d imagine it would have helped.

Instead, I pumped every 2 hours…scraping the insides of the cones and cups when I was finished with a spongy swab to make little colostrum-sicles to rub inside of my daughter’s mouth because I didnt make enough drops to even fill a silicone nipple, let alone a bottle.

I also wish I had relaxed a bit on the pump settings. In the first few days, I could pump on the highest settings with no problems. I don’t know if I was working on adrenaline and didn’t feel the pain, or if perhaps my nipples were just too naive to know what was coming, but after the first few days I began to get blanched nipples after each pumping session and I was in pretty intense pain. I even had to stop nursing temporarily because the pain of my daughter’s mouth touching my nipples was enough to make me cry.

I thought the issue was a poor latch, but after multiple meetings with a lactation consultant, we realized that she was latching fine and I learned that I was pumping at too high a setting (though “too high” is different for everyone. Bottom line: do what FEELS right. Not what you think you are obligated to do).

For what it’s worth, I use a Spectra S2 pump and operate it on Cycle 54, Level 5 for the most part. I switch it around a little and start it out on Cycle 70 Level 3 (its the “massage” mode that is supposed to encourage your “let down” (milk release) but I don’t really think I have a “let down”. Milk never really flows freely: my pump has to work for it.

Which brings me to:

Lesson #4: Boosting your supply by finding the right foods/supplements

My sister in law gifted me with Mother’s Milk Tea and some Munchkin Milkmakers Lactation Bars (in the mixed berry flavor if you’re wondering). The tea was…meh. The bars were not my favorite (they tasted like something I’ve eaten before…maybe some kind of cereal bar). And neither seemed to increase my milk supply.

Then I tried lactation cookies: Munchkin Milkmakers Chocolate Chip cookies. While they tasted PHENOMENAL (for store bought cookies) I also didn’t notice a big change in my supply.

Then I tried a homemade recipe that I found online:

https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/02/lactation-cookies/

A few changes I made were to use two full eggs (something a reviewer suggested), I used a flax/chia blend in place of the flax seed (only because it was all I had on hand), I cut the sugar down by 1/4 cup, and I swapped Whole Wheat Pastry Flour in place of the white flour (it’s all I really bake with anymore, and it swaps pretty beautifully into almost any recipe that calls for white flour in my opinion). The cookies are delicious and they are probably more nutritionally dense than a lot of store bought sweets, so I’ve decided to keep making them to keep around when a craving hits, even though I also haven’t noticed a big difference with them. I figured: it can’t hurt.

I also eat oatmeal for breakfast. (no change)

Quinoa for lunch (also nope)

I occasionally enjoy a dark beer as a treat (nada).

Salmon, spinach, blueberries (no, no, no)

Then I tried fenugreek/blessed thistle supplements. I *MAY* have had a slight increase from them. Jury is out. Still working on finishing the bottle.

Then as a last resort I tried a supplement called Goat’s Rue. I think I have finally had an increase, but not like the photos online depict. I didn’t go from pumping 1 ounce to 4 ounces. I went from pumping maybe half to 3/4 an ounce per hour to *maybe* a full ounce an hour during certain pumping sessions. Nothing major.

I’m going to finish the bottle and decide whether I want to continue using it.

Long story short: I don’t have a miracle suggestion for anyone looking for one. Rather, I can say with relative certainty that NOTHING is really a miracle for everyone. My sister-in-law drank the tea and ate the bars and pumped 4 ounces per sitting usually. I am lucky to get 2 ounces in a pump session (which I assume is what my daughter consumes when she breastfeeds directly. I just mention pumping as I can measure it).

So we have elected to supplement with formula as my daughter was not gaining weight quickly initially and was constantly crying. Once we began supplementing and feeding her more, the crying dramatically decreased and she seemed like a much happier baby once we started it.

I still have a lot of guilt about the fact that she isn’t surviving on breastmilk alone. When I encounter people with freezer stashes of breastmilk I get so jealous.

Before I gave birth, I was researching stand alone freezers for my breastmilk reserves. I just assumed everyone’s body worked like that.

I think my late intro to feeding my daughter coupled with a significant blood loss during childbirth may have decreased my supply (I found out later that I had a pretty bad hemmorage and I needed two iron transfusions while in the hospital).

Which leads us to our final lesson:

Lesson #5: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others, Dum Dum.

I grew a human. Then I pushed it out of a tiny hold in my body. And now my body makes food for it.

I mean, that’s pretty amazing.

So it doesn’t make enough food. Fortunately we have science and people figured out how to make a processed alternative to my food and my baby is gaining weight and not constantly crying from hunger.

Some people don’t make enough food. Some people don’t make any food. Some people can’t get the baby out on their own. Some people can’t keep the baby in as long as they would like. Some people have problems while baby is growing.

Making a baby isn’t easy. I think that everyone who cares enough to worry (or who cares but doesn’t worry…God bless those women. I hope to be among their ranks, one day) is doing a good job.

We care.

We are trying.

Our babies are loved.

The rest will work itself out.

Happy breastfeeding, mamas.

 

 

Mommy guilt.

So the last few days have gotten somewhat better. With each day that passes, I feel like my daughter drops us a few more breadcrumbs about who she is and what she wants.

 

….and then we still have nights like last night when she wailed for two hours and pulled so hard on my nipple while I was breastfeeding her that I thought she was going tear part of it off, and she furiously shook her head and scratched at her face and my chest despite the fact that I did everything I could think of to soothe her. Then she promptly fell asleep at 1:30 am and slept until 6am. A gift, perhaps, for the terror she subjected us to the night before?

Those nights are impossible when I am living them and I get so frustrated and I verbalize how frustrated I am with her (I dont yell, but I definitely talk in an angry voice). Then afterward when the dust settles I feel so guilty for being upset in the moment and just want to love and cuddle her and help her to understand that I was never mad…just frustrated, tired, and afraid that it would never end – or worse: that something was wrong with her.

Part of the reason why she slept so long last night was that my wife and I invested in a soothing baby bassinet called a “Snoo”. Its way overpriced (though I suppose that is subjective), and we used my wife’s accrued credit card reward points plus as gift that her Godmother gave us to cover 3/4 of the cost. The bassinet senses when baby is fussing and adjusts its white noise and rocking to calm the baby down (and it’s all controlled by an app). She slept well last night, took a 2 hour nap in it earlier today, and has been asleep now since 9 pm or so (it’s currently 10:30 pm). While I thought I’d feel elation after last night’s pre-bed debacle, I just feel guilty that shes sleeping. I’m not soothing her or feeding her – in fact, she slept through a feeding last night (and I did too since I was so tired) and I just feel bad that I’m not holding and feeding her now (when I typically would be).

Things that I also feel guilt for:

-My poor breastmilk supply (I’ve been pumping an ounce or so every 2 hours which hasn’t been nearly enough to accommodate what she wants to eat)

-The fact that we bottle feed her the breastmilk often (which started when she was in the hospital as that was the only option initially in the NICU, and then they wanted me to monitor her intake in order to help reduce her jaundice. They encouraged us to syringe or bottle feed my colostrum along with donor breastmilk – which we chose over formula – so we knew how much she was eating. We continued that at home to help us better understand her weight gain, and just got into that habit).

-Her naps (I feel like I should be holding and cuddling her, but enjoy napping and/or preparing dinner or catching up on chores when she falls asleep and I can rest her in the Rock N Play or now the Snoo).

-The fact that she is already growing and changing and I WISHED FOR IT, because I desperately want to understand her…but at the same time, I want her to be little forever. I feel like I dont spend nearly enough time just staring at her and cementing her sweet little coos and expressions in my heart before she stops doing them.

I don’t know, I suppose that some of this guilt is just sadness that time is already passing and my tiny newborn is already going to be a month old and I should have enjoyed it all so much more.

In the meantime, I’m going to resolve to try to capitalize on every moment that I can, and try not to get frustrated as easily and just love on this sweet little babe for as long as I can before she becomes a bigger crawling babe, then a walking and talking babe…

No matter what, time will pass exactly the same way so I might as well enjoy this ride. 😊💜

Motherhood is hard.

The last 24 hours have been HARD.

I mean, really freaking hard.

I’ve only known my daughter for about 3 weeks now, but sometimes it feels like we have a rhythm established. I feel like I have some semblance of a clue why she is crying.

Then she throws us off. It’s not a diaper change, food, or seemingly comfort she’s after.  And in those moments – when she is shrieking so loudly and violently that she sends herself into a coughing fit – I feel like the most inadequate parent. I feel like some dummy in a slapstick  comedy who cant react quickly enough and fumbles around until something works by chance.

And then I cry.

I cant even say that no one told me that it would be this hard.

Everyone did.

But everyone also told me pregnancy was hard, and I skated through it effortlessly with only a few small bumps in the road, so I guess I (mistakenly) figured I’d have this “mom thing” on lock down as well. (Spoiler alert: I was wrong.)

Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do (which says a lot because work through me quite a few curveballs this year and made me question my career choice and sanity at times).

But unlike work when my boss says, “I’m sorry you had to take on this really tough task. I’m sorry your day sucked. You’re doing a good job,” my daughter just cries.

It doesn’t matter if I pumped enough for her to feel full two hours ago if I cant do it again now.

It doesn’t matter if she nurses on one side: if its empty she wants the other which is sore and raw from her poor latch and I can barely put a cotton bra over it sometimes, let alone allow my child to try to extract food from it.

It doesn’t matter if I just changed her diaper 30 seconds before she noisily asserts that she’ll be needing a new clean one (ugh…that one gets me every time).

It doesn’t matter if I’m brushing my teeth for the first time of the day at 4pm…if she needs me, she needs me now…not after the timer on my sonicare says my teeth are clean.

It doesn’t matter if every intention in my body is good: she doesn’t know that and she still needs whatever she needs: usually faster than I can react to provide it which cues the blood curdling cries.

Other people keep telling me that it gets easier. They understand. The beginning is tough.

All I want is for my daughter to understand that I’m trying. I’m trying really hard and her cries break my heart everytime and make me feel like my efforts are never enough.

I long for the day when she can articulate her needs. I look forward to being able to tell her how much I love her and have her understand.

For now it’s just hard.

 

 

The rest of our hospital stay.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind. I’m sitting here writing listening to the soundtrack of my breast pump churning and wheezing and the little peanut is across the room cooing in her Rock N’ Play (which has been a Godsend since this child won’t sleep in many other places). I’m hoping that her little chirps are just indicators of sweet dreams and not the signs of her waking as I’m not even close to being done everything I intended to work on this afternoon.

Plans.

Go.

Out.

The.

Window.

When you have a newborn.

I mean, I knew that. People told me that.  But – I still thought my child might be different.

I can’t believe she has been out of my body for more than two weeks. Three weeks ago, I would have struggled to recall what life was like before my big belly. I didn’t remember what it was like to be able to paint my toenails, or shave in the shower, sleep on my stomach, or savor the rich taste of a glass of merlot. Now I’m struggling to recall what those tiny kicks felt like, or the weekly drives to the doctor’s office for my nonstress tests, or the round fullness of my pregnant belly.

I miss it SO much, sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong: I love that she is lying across from me. I love her tiny noises, the way her mouth curls up into a smile randomly (and then uncurls just as I grab my phone to take a picture), or the way she purses her lips with milk dripping from the corners when I pull her away from my breast.

I love how she wags her head and shakes her fists when she doesn’t get food fast enough: it’s like she is already demanding a space for herself in the world…asserting her needs…helping me to understand life on her terms.

But its not the same as when she was inside. She’ll never be as safe and secure. I’ll never be quite as full of life. We’ll never be physically connected ever again. And that made me just a little sad when it all finally set in.

The first night home from the hospital was hard.

Well, the hospital itself was hard.

Hadley was born at 7am, and I didn’t get to hold her until about 6pm that evening (I think…everything was a blur at that point due to the sheer exhaustion of having been awake for almost two days straight with short cat naps in between). They wheeled me in to see her in the NICU for the first time around 9am, I think. I watched her through the glass dome of her incubator and was only able to hold her hand and push her pacifier back in when she began to cry (which made ME cry). The soundtrack of our first official meeting was the bubbling noise of her CPAP machine, and all of the beeps from the monitors she was hooked up to. She had a tiny bruise on one hand from where they tried to insert an IV but failed (and she had one to match on the other hand once they finally removed her IV).

I asked if I could hold her and the NICU nurse scolded me: reminding me that she needed that time in the incubator and that the doctor would tell me when I could hold her.

That was so hard. She was MINE – just mine – for nine months. I knew her rhythmic kicks and she knew my heartbeat. And all of the sudden she belonged to a NICU nurse and I was simply a visitor.

I had a really tough time with that entire experience. I felt like I didnt know my child when she came home from the hospital and it hit me like a ton of bricks when I finally considered how traumatic her departure from me was after her birth.

My labor was so fast and intense and she came rocketing into this world quicker than I had a chance to process. Then she was whirled away to be measured and assessed while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.

I was so bone tired that I didnt really process what was happening:

That we didn’t get to delay her cord clamping to give her a few extra minutes to build up her iron supply.

We didnt get skin-to-skin right away to give us a chance to bond and get to know each other.

I didnt get to feed her right away to help us bond and help my milk supply to come in faster.

I really didn’t “meet” my daughter until much later.

I joked that they could have taken my baby and given me back another and I wouldnt have known the difference.

That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? What mother doesn’t instinctively know her baby. But I felt like I didn’t. And that made me very sad.

I know everything was done in her best interest. I know she is healthy and more importantly – alive – because of the efforts of that medical staff. But it was still hard and emotional.

Before she was released from the NICU, I was able to see her four more times. That evening around 6 they allowed me to feed her after a lactation consultant visited me in my room earlier in the day for a lesson on breast feeding and pumping (thank God for that woman because breastfeeding is harder than it looks….more on that, later).

We went back with both sets of our parents later that night and again in the middle of the night to breastfeed. We went back for one final visit the following morning to feed her and give her a bath. I thought I knew how to bath a baby, but apparently there was more to it than I knew (like: wash the face first and dont use the same part of the cloth to wipe their eyes twice).

Around 4pm that next day (Sunday as I would later learn…what a blur of a stay) they brought her back to my room. She was all bundled up in the standard hospital blanket with a purple knit hat. I still wonder who made that – it gave me some comfort that she was adorned with something cozy and personal during part of her NICU stay.

They let us know that night that her bilirubin levels were high (which means that she had some jaundice) and they recommended phototherapy which commenced on Monday and earned us an extra day in the hospital. Fortunately, they allowed us to “room in” with Hadley so we didnt have to leave her and we were all able to go home together on Tuesday.

If you’ve never experienced phototherapy for a newborn: it looks cool but is actually torture. She had to lay on the equivalent of a bright tanning bed with foam goggles and she had to be naked (sans a diaper) and be swaddled down to the surface of the light board.

She hated it and cried hysterically all day, which led to us frequently picking her up to feed and comfort her which led to an extra 12 hours with the light when they came to re-test her later that night. In the middle of the night she was pretty much over the whole ordeal and cried hysterically at which point I said, “screw it” and swaddled her (against the rules since her swaddled skin wasnt exposed to the light). She slept soundly for two hours at which point I woke up in a sweat, terrified that I hadn’t heard her in two hours (the longest we’d gone with silence before that on the light treatment was about 20 minutes) and I was to find her not breathing. Both she and my wife (who was sleeping on a cot next to her) were sound asleep. Evidently the swaddle session helped her to reset and I was able to get her to sleep for the rest of the night without any major issues. No more two hour stretches but I think she slept for an hour at a time which was great.

I was super nervous for her morning blood test after basically removing her from the light for two hours, but I wasnt torturing the kid any more than she needed to be: we all needed that sleep and she desperately needed that comfort after the rough start to her life.

Fortunately she passed both that as well as the following blood test and we were discharged that afternoon.

That Monday (the day of the phototherapy) was HARD. I didnt leave the room all day and it rained so it just left me feeling very down. It was also tough because we had almost hourly checks from various hospital staff throughout our weekend stay, but that stopped on Monday when I was discharged and just “roomed in” with my daughter. The peace was nice, but when you have a newborn (especially a sick one) it is nice to just talk to other people. It helped me maintain sanity and normalcy: even though I didn’t know any of the staff particularly well.

When I got home from the hospital I cried a lot the first few days. I thought I would transition gracefully into motherhood: I’ve wanted this my ENTIRE life. But everything made me cry. Signs of my pregnancy like the big U-shaped pillow on the bed that had been my best friend for the prior two months. Or the look of my deflated belly in the bathroom mirror complete with stretch marks that I hadn’t really seen as they were on the underside of my belly prior to Hadley’s birth. It looked like a basketball that had been used too hard in its final game and was now deflated – sitting on the sidelines.

Even the sight of Hadley’s bedroom made me sad. We decorated it in hopeful anticipation and having her home was so scary: I didnt know what she wanted or needed in those first few days, and everything was so overwhelming.

I also wasnt making enough for her to eat which was nerve wracking, and likely was related to the fact that I didnt feed her for the first 12 hours of her life. I’m still struggling with breastfeeding, but I think that warrants it’s own blog entry.

Despite all of these challenges and the hecticness with which her life started, the love I feel for this child is indescribable. Even though I get so overwhelmed when she cries (mostly because I never truly know the reason), I know that the reasons are so basic: food, sleep (or lack thereof) and comfort. That’s basically it. She is so innocent and full of possibility and hope and I want to keep that alive in her forever. I want to meet any need that she ever has before she has it. I want her to see the world as beautiful, and kind, and loving. I want to ensure that she never knows hunger or pain or heartache. I want to wrap her in my love every day for the rest of her life.

I guess that’s what  being a parent is, right? Loving and supporting your child through everything, and taking the bad moments on the chin: knowing there are more good ones to come.

If that’s not it: let me know when you figure out the secret, will you? 😊

In the interim: some pictures of our little love:

 

What a delivery.

I am going to try to jot down the short version from my phone here in my hospital room, but will work on transcribing some of the little details later.

We checked into the hospital for our scheduled induction at 7pm on Thursday night and sometime around 9:30 they finally had a room ready.

They prescribed me a drug called Cervadil which is basically like a tiny dry tampon that is inserted vaginally for 12 hours. It was uncomfortable going in and coming out – at which time they advised that it had done little to progress my cervical ripening as I was still only about 1 cm dialated. Around 11am on Friday they removed the cervadil and started me on oral misoprostal (which was a little hard for me because I had taken that some drug vaginally to induce my miscarriage last year so it brought all kinds of emotions with it) and after 2 rounds spaced 4 hours apart each, I was STILL only about 2 cm dialated. They gave me a 3rd dose around 8pm which did induce more contractions and cramping, but they prescribed me 5 mg of Ambien to sleep and said I likely wouldnt feel those “mild” contractions throughout the night.

If you are good at guessing…they were wrong. I felt them about an hour into the most restful sleep I’d gotten since arriving at the hospital and the doctor prescribed me an IV painkiller since they said it was too early for an epidural. The nurse also did another cervical check ahead of my midnight miso dosage and said that my cervix was thinning even more and that I looked to be perhaps another cm dialated. She must have done a spectacular job of her exam as I fully lost my mucous plug when she was done. Everytime I went to the bathroom (which was often as they had me on IV fluids) I kept wiping away pieces of the plug. Then, around 2-3am I started to feel small droplets of liquid on my leg when I would get up to use the bathroom so I figured my water was breaking or I was becoming incontinent.

I was really loopy from the ambien and the painkiller (both of which the doctors assured me were safe for both baby and I) and I lost track of time but think I was getting up in 5 minute increments at one point to pee. After the last time as round 4:30 am, I climbed back in bed and felt a pretty major contraction at which point I felt a gush and I was laying in a puddle of my own fluid. My wife hurried to call the nurse to advise her of my water breaking and by the time she came in I was howling in pain and told her that I KNEW the baby would be coming quickly and felt a guttural need to start pushing. She told me it was too soon, and rushed to find an anesthesiologist to administer my epidural. While she was gone, I had several back-to-back contractions and another nurse stopped in and said she would go to track down our nurse. By this point, I was literally squeezing my legs shut and doing everything I could not to push as my poor wife frantically paced the room and tried to predict what command I would bark next so she could keep me as comfortable as possible.

You guys: it was INTENSE.

At one point I started screaming, “where the fuck are all of the doctors and nurses and why are we alone?! Call for someone….anyone!” (I apologized to everyone afterward and thanked them all for their help. It was like I had no control over my body, words, or emotions in those intense moments.).

Our nurse came back in and coaxed me onto my back in bed and checked me again, indicating that I was 8-10 cm and indeed ready to push, and she called for the doctor.

They had everything down to a science. She pushed with me for about an hour (it felt like 15 minutes and I- oddly – began to doze off between contractions/pushes), and I thought it was going to be just me, my wife, and the nurse delivering the baby as no one else was in the room.

All of the sudden – it was if we were in a TV medical drama and one-by-one a series of nurses, the doctor, the pediatric doctor, and assistants were in the room and they quickly “broke the bed” (I was sleeping in a bed that split  in two and stirrups pulled up at the bottom so the doctor could more easily catch the baby). I didnt know why at the time but a few times they rolled me on my side between pushes and I later found out that it was because baby’s heart rate was dropping.

Finally, I saw the doctor smile and I bore down with all of my weight and felt something warm and slippery and they put baby girl on my chest to clean everything out. Then they whisked her away to a table at the front of the room to be examined. While she scored an 8 on the apgar scale, she had some trouble clearing out her lungs due to her rapid delivery and she is currently in the NICU recovering. I am hoping she will be in our arms this evening or tomorrow morning as it is absolutely heartbreaking to be away from her and to watch her cry helplessly in an incubator and not be able to fully hold her and comfort her.

Again, there are a lot of parts missing to this story (like the rapid fire contractions I experienced after the cervadil on Friday morning) but overall, it was an amazing experience (far less painful than anticpated) and I somehow found the strength to not only deliver vaginally, but to do so without an epidural: something I NEVER though I could do.

And miss Hadley is absolutely perfect, and I still cant believe I have a daughter.

I’ll get a picture up after her NICU stay…promise!

Love to everyone. Xoxo.

39 weeks: almost at the end.

When I last left off writing, I was getting ready to go into battle with a giant mosquito and a serger. Bug lovers….cover your eyes for this part:

The mosquito met an untimely demise. Hey, it was either me or it, and I’m not savvy (or fast) enough to go find a jar and somehow manage to catch it and slide a paper underneath it and release it outside. And anyway: I don’t want any mosquito born illnesses either. So I squished it with a fly swatter and that was that.

The serger made out better. I threaded it in about 10 minutes, and quickly whipped up a knit receiving blanket, followed by a baby hat and finally a pair of pants.

Alright, so I made the blanket that day, the hat a few days later, and the pants about a month and a half after that, but I did it. whalepantshatblanketI am hopeful that the pants will fit well and plan on making more. It was a pretty cool pattern I found from a website called Baste and Gather and the pants are called “Baby Got Back” as they have an extra panel in the rear for babies with larger cloth diapered booties. I have heard that some pants fit poorly with cloth diapers so I’m excited to try these!

(P.S. the whale pattern that is going one way up one leg and the other way down the other is um…intentional. Yes, I meant to do that 😉 )

http://www.basteandgather.com/blog/free-sewing-pattern-baby-got-back-leggings-for-cloth-diapered-babies

I then made another set with a head band, knot cap, and a big receiving blanket to match a set I had seen online for about 4x the price. I thought it would be cute for photos in the hospital as I’ll have a somewhat-matching navy blue bathrobe to wear in the hospital. We still aren’t sure if babes is a boy or a girl, but are ready to go with a little bow just in case. I figured a BLUE bow would somewhat be breaking stereotypical gender norms, right?

bowhatblanket

 

So we are at Week 39. Overall, I’ve had an uneventful pregnancy (which is just fine by me since the rest of my life has had enough events for me AND baby). After the shower, I started to get nervous that some symptoms that showed up would be staying for the remainder of the pregnancy (I had some pretty severe pain in my left rib at one point, heartburn, and some back pain while sleeping) but everything ended up being mild and short lasting. I feel like one of the luckiest pregnant women. I am actually really sad that its almost over.

Tomorrow will likely be the last full day with baby inside. They are inducing me tomorrow evening due to the single umbilical artery (the recommendation is to not exceed your due date with this diagnosis and since I’m due on Sunday the latest they wanted to have the delivery is Friday – hence a Thursday evening induction).

I’m feeling a decent amount of pressure. I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and they did a membrane sweep along with my standard cervical check. I’m hoping that helps to bring on labor without the drugs: I’ve heard that pitocin inductions are much more painful than regular deliveries.

Doctor said that I’m 80% effaced, a little more than a centimeter dilated, and that baby’s head was pretty low. In fact, both he and the doctor who checked me last week said they could touch the baby’s head during my cervical check. I’m not sure if that’s normal or not, but I can totally feel that pressure when I walk or sit.

This baby has been so chill throughout my pregnancy, though. They move regularly enough for us to feel comfortable that they are safe (though we did have a “scare” or two that was quickly quelled by our doctors and a brief kick count), but I haven’t had anything crazy. I’ve heard of women being woken up in the middle of the night. This baby has done that maybe three times this entire pregnancy. The kicks are usually pretty gentle and always make me smile.

I don’t know if I’ll feel differently after delivery, but I really think that after we complete our family (which we are still discussing how/when we want to) I’d like to be a surrogate for another couple who can’t have their own baby: particularly a gay couple if I can. I think it would be something wonderful that I could do with a body that seems to tolerate pregnancy relatively well, given the hardships we’d encountered to get here.

I had no gestational diabetes, my blood pressure has been excellent, I’ve felt great, I didn’t gain a TON of weight (though I did increase six pounds from last week to today which is odd given my overall weight gain of 40 pounds) and I just think it would be a cool gift for another couple. Again – may feel totally different in a few days after giving birth, but it’s a thought for sure.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled to meet this babe and absolutely terrified of labor. I don’t tend to tolerate pain well, and I’m just so afraid that I’ll chicken out and not be able to go through with the vaginal delivery. Women have told me that you find strength that you didn’t know you had during the labor process: I just hope that is true for me, too.

We finished the peanut’s bedroom. I’m attempting to incorporate some minimalist concepts into our lives, so even though we already have a lot of baby “things” as a result of our shower, we’re really trying to minimize any other nonessentials that we bring in to keep down the clutter and focus on things that really make our lives better. I’m happy with the neatness of the room and am hopeful that we can keep it this way as baby grows. I love to watch YouTube videos featuring minimalist lifestyles – some of it is a bit too advanced for me, but I love incorporating as much as I can. I welcome any suggestions that any of you may have! Would also love any cloth diapering tips if any cloth diapering mamas follow me here.

(please ignore the backpack and items on the floor. I was packing the babe’s hospital bag and really just wanted a quick picture before I finished this blog.)

babysroom

 

I really need to get better with my updates. Wishing you all well and I can’t wait to update this blog with a birth story and vitals on the baby after tomorrow.

xoxo

Seeing red.

On a scale of one to really-fucking-petty, how bad is it if someone genuinely considers cutting out extended family who can’t seem to help themselves from gleefully proclaiming their support of Trump in spite of the vile things he continues to do and the havoc that he stands to personally wreak on their little family with his Supreme Court Pick? Asking for a friend….