Monday, February 28, 2011

spring!

I'm eating watermelon. Granted, it's from Honduras. (How big is my carbon footprint today?) Earlier I had some sweet tea. And planted tomatoes and cucumbers. Spring, my friends? Has sprung. It could not be a more lovely day. (And loving the macro lens. Thank, Hubby.)






Friday, February 25, 2011

month one


Dear Daughter,

First, I know your one month birthday has come and gone before I could get this written. I'm going to cut myself some slack, though, because (1) I did remember that it was your one month birthday on the actual day, (2), I actually took pictures of you on that day, and (3) I've kept us both alive and doing at least fairly well this past month.

I can't believe the time has gone by so quickly. I think about the new moms who go back to work after 6 weeks and have no idea how they do that. I have no idea how I'm going to do it at 12. Whenever that thought pops into my head ("I'm 1/4 of the way through leave," "I'm 1/3 of the way through leave") I try to ignore it.

You have really been quite an easy addition to the family. Knock on wood. You've been an eating champ since day one (literally). When you were a few days old, you were diagnosed with jaundice and we had to supplement with formula for a few days. You had no trouble taking the bottle. No trouble switching back and forth between bottle and boob. As the month wore on and I forced you to take a pacifier a few times instead of screaming in public (or whipping out a boob at the bank, etc.) you took right to it, too. And, again, didn't have any problems eating. This has been awesome.

I'll be honest with you, though. Pumping has been a challenge for me. I wanted to start as soon as I could so that we'd have enough food for you to eat when I go back to work. Right now I'm having doubts that I'll be able to successfully do this. I'm really trying since I know it's best for you.

One thing that I hadn't expected was to feel so differently (emotionally) so soon. I don't want to let you down. Or for you to feel pain or disappointment. And seeing or hearing anything regarding hurt children or parents somehow being separated from their children? Lordy. It impacts me much more now. I'm pretty fond of you, kiddo. It didn't take long to feel attached.

Your #1 activity this month has been sleeping (although I feel like eating tries to overtake that spot sometimes). The first week or so was great. You slept a lot and it didn't take much to get you to fall asleep. You hardly ever cried and when you did, it was almost always because you were hungry. Then you got to be a little crankypants during the evenings. This was a little sad because it was often right when your dad was coming home and would last until bedtime. Fortunately, your crying doesn't hurt him like it does me. If our roles were reversed, I would have felt awful that the only time I saw you was during your least, um, endearing part of the day. But, lo! It seems like your pattern has been broken this last week or so. Thank God! You do seem to want to eat more during those evening hours and still do get cranky to some degree but it's not 3 hours of screaming. Your daddy was great at getting you to sleep during those hard nights. He'd walk with you and "shhh" or hum or sing made up songs. Many a time he'd put you down only to have you immediately start screaming again and have to start all over. And then he'd have to go to work the next day. He's been really good with you and with me. One day you'll understand how hormones can make you crazy and you'll understand that sentence a bit more.

Your daddy has also been great with bath time. The first time we tried it, you did not like it. But since then, it really calms you down. He bathed you this morning and then handed you to me to dry off. I foolishly didn't bring a diaper with me so you proceeded to pee through the towel and onto my pants. I think it was the first time someone else had wet my pants. And you know what? Pee, poo, barf, etc? None of it bothers me, even when it's on me (but I'm guessing only if it came from you).

During the month you've increased the amount of time you're awake and not eating. I don't know if there was more than 5 minutes of this at first. Now you'll sometimes go between feedings without sleeping at all. You like looking at faces and just this last week have gotten really good at imitating people when they make their mouth into an O or stick out their tongue. You smile sometimes but never intentionally. Even that, though, gives me such an emotional reaction. I can't wait until you do it and mean it. I was also thinking the other day about what it will be like when you hug me back. It's enough to make me tear up just thinking about it. This motherhood stuff is crazy...

We've also been working on strengthening your neck and leg muscles and giving you a bit of tummy time. We talk about how hard it is to hold up that giant head but really I think it's that you have such a dainty little neck. It's usually squished down so when we see it, I'm surprised at how thin it is. You're getting better at using it, though.

When we've gone out, people often think you're a boy. I think folks may default to this especially when you don't have a girl in all pink with a giant hair bow. Since you're still in newborn clothes, most of the things you wear are gender-neutral. Some of the newborn stuff is really rather form-fitting these days, though. But the 0-3 month stuff is too big. Go figure. People have been super generous by sending gifts and you'll have some awesome little outfits to wear when you get a bit bigger. And strangers often comment on your hair, of course. There's just so much of it and it looks a little crazy sometimes (which I love). We're not sure if it will stay light brown or if it will all fall out and come back completely different. Your roots look blonde so maybe... I'm still holding out for a hint of red, though.

It's been an interesting first month. Thanks for being such a good baby and for hanging in there while we figure all of this out. And thanks for making me a mother. I'll thank both you and the hormones for making me emotional after typing that sentence. Looking forward to Month 2.



Tuesday, February 08, 2011

the birth story

Finally, right? Still getting the hang of this whole parenting gig but things are going better than I expected. I think we've started the first growth spurt because Little Miss Thang has been Cranky. Pants. And hungry. Often. Good thing she's cute. I was looking at her over the weekend and thinking that it seemed like she was longer and hoped she had at least reached her birth weight since she lost the higher end of normal within the first four days. She had her 2-week pedi follow-up yesterday and it was confirmed. She was up 1 lb 1 oz and over an inch from Day 4. Yea! Ok, so on with the story (which you'll want to avoid if you're squeamish)...

On Saturday evening (the 22nd), I started having some random light contractions. It wasn't just that the crappy movie Hubby was watching was making me sick. (Seriously, what's with men and watching bad movies? Like Jean Claude Van Damme bad.) They were just light cramping but I felt good knowing that something was happening and that there would at least be progress at my next OB visit on Tuesday. And it was nice to know that I could actually feel them since my entire belly had been so tight for so long. The contractions stopped around 9 pm but I had also started to lose my mucus plug (I know, TMI--more to come). A little freaky but progress! Real contractions doing real work!

At around 3:30 am on Sunday morning I woke up to a little stronger contractions. They were also a little more regular but still spread apart (maybe 12-15 minutes). I timed them for about an hour and then went back to sleep. They were kind of off and on throughout the early part of Sunday but I figured this was the beginning of real labor. Hubby was still skeptical. He had a To Do list for the day and I told him he may want to get started on it that morning. So he got a haircut and honestly I can't remember what else. We went for a walk with Maggie and the neighbors' dog sometime in the early afternoon. Contractions were a little stronger as I felt like I needed to at least pause when they came on but I could still relax and breathe through them.

The Brother had texted earlier in the day to see if we wanted to come over for dinner and football. I told him we might but I thought I was in labor. Around 7 pm I told him that we'd run by but just pick up food to go. I was just getting a little tired of being in the house so Hubby drove us over there (about a 5-minute drive). Contractions were about 7 minutes apart at this point. They seemed to having gotten closer together a bit more quickly than I expected. We got to The Brother's at about 7:20, I get out of the car and my water breaks. I had read/heard that if it breaks and you're standing up, it's just a trickle. Uh, not for me. Gushing. Even though the baby's head had been low for weeks. No doubt that it was my water breaking instead of me peeing because no 40-week pregnant woman has been able to pee that much at one time in months. Perhaps Hubby finally realized we were actually having a baby. So he still runs inside and goes all 911 on people. He points at The Brother and tells him to get the food. He points at SIL and tells her to get towels. I wish I could have seen that but I was just uncomfortably standing by the car. They wanted to know if we were going straight to the hospital or home and Hubby has no idea. He makes it back and I tell him we're going home. We needed to get our things, and our plan was to labor at home as long as possible.

I send a few e-mails to friends and family as well as work folks. They were all saved as drafts so I wouldn't have to think about what to say or who to send to. Hubby walked the dog and loaded the car. We called the doctor's office and basically told the on-call doctor that we were headed to the hospital. Contractions had quickly gone to about 3.5 minutes apart.

We got to the hospital room around 9:30 pm and contractions were still frequent and getting stronger and longer. I was able to make it through them until about 1:00 am (Monday now) when I decided I wanted the epidural. I don't know what would have happened without the epidural. I probably would have labored less long but who knows. Contractions were 1 minute long with only about a minute of recovery in between and they were painful. No relaxation technique was going to work for me. I couldn't really talk through them so I had to quickly try to tell Hubby what to do and what was going on before the next one came. I got the epidural at about 1:30 and was about 6-7 cm dilated at that point. Seeing that needle and hearing horror stories about epidurals had been part of the reason I wanted to avoid one but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. And I did a good job at staying still during the multiple contractions I had while he prepped and placed it. Perfect dosing because 10-15 minutes later I couldn't feel the pain. I still knew when I was having contractions because the baby's butt was STILL POKING ME. And I've heard that people couldn't feel their legs but I could. They just felt like they were a little asleep but I could move them and change positions as needed. I could also nap, which was awesome. It was a dark and stormy night--perfect for calmly laboring.

The contractions kept up their fast pace even after the epidural. I fairly quickly made it to 9 cm and the nurse thought we'd have a baby by about 3:00. But 9 to 9.5 cm took awhile. And then 9.5 to 10 cm took even longer. The baby's position was slightly off so the nurse had me change positions and it straightened her out. I could feel the pressure to push but only during contractions. The nurse told me to tell her when I felt it all the time. It's interesting that you can feel all that pressure but it doesn't really hurt.

So once I made it through transition and it was time to push, the contractions slowed WAY down. Instead of the normal few minutes in between, mine waited every 8 minutes. I pushed for about an hour but any progress I made in moving her down was lost since there was so much time before the next contraction. I ended up getting pitocin to help speed things along. I figured I already had the epidural; the pain of pitocin-induced contractions wasn't going to bother me and this baby really needed to make some progress. After that, I still ended up pushing for another 2 hours. The baby handled all these contractions and pushing quite well. I had a few hits of oxygen at one point as the baby got a bit stressed but really nothing concerning. I guess the good part about all of this is that my doctor was able to be there to deliver the baby. The on-call doctor had never even come in my room to introduce herself. Whatever. The rest of the staff was great.

My OB is wonderful. She's encouraging and empathetic. She could tell by looking at me (me=girl bits) that I had been pushing for a long time. She stayed in to watch my pushing for a bit and then left for awhile. That's a little discouraging. And might I add that even with drugs, pushing is HARD WORK. Sheesh. So she comes back in a little later and actually puts gloves on and they break down the bed so it feels like I may have a baby after all. After a few more rounds of pushing, she tells me that she thinks if she used just a little light suction the baby could be out with the next contraction. I asked Hubby if he thought that was ok and he did. I really didn't want to have to use suction but was so tired and just wanted to be done so that's what we did. My OB just needed one gentle pull to get her out. I was pushing so hard and had my eyes closed that someone had to say, "Mama, open your eyes. Here's your baby." And someone was kind enough to say that it was a girl.

Throughout my pregnancy, my OB knew I wanted limited interventions and was at least going to try to go drug-free. We had also talked about donating the cord blood but the collection kit didn't come in time (it actually never came and I still haven't heard anything back from them). Since that was out, we wanted to see if we could wait a few minutes to let the cord stop pulsing before cutting it. We also wanted the baby to stay on my belly for at least 20 minutes or so and not be immediately whisked away for weighing and cleaning and things. During our hospital tour, it didn't seem like these things would be options but they totally were with the staff who was there. After a few minutes, Hubby cut the cord. The baby was placed on me while the placenta was delivered (totally forgot about that) and I got stitches. Turns out that pushing for so long = swelling and swelling = inability to stretch as much as normal. So a few minor tears plus a whopping 3rd degree. That's the only part of me that doesn't feel recovered from the birth now 2 weeks later.

A few random things. It was amazing to have this little person out of me. While everyone over the last few weeks has commented on how small she is, I would just look at her and think that I couldn't believe that entire human was just inside me. That I had been carrying her around. When I feel her little heels and elbows I am reminded of how they felt when jabbing me from the inside. They feel so familiar. When they placed her on me, she cried pretty quickly. Then she gave me the sad lower lip. I immediately knew that that lip would break my heart for the rest of my life. She really did have a lot of hair and it wasn't at all red. I was a little surprised about that. Also surprised that of the 4 names we had narrowed it down to, the one that was my favorite going in just immediately felt wrong. So we were down to 3. We felt like we needed to see her cleaned up before deciding, though. And, finally, Hubby was fantastic through all of it. He remains fantastic 2 weeks later. We're very lucky to have him.

And about that name... We still didn't have one by the time she had her first visitors. After they left, I told Hubby that I'd be ok with any of the three we had left on the list and that he could pick. He picked Scarlett. I made sure he was sure and we went with that. I had wanted Caroline for her middle name because it was my dad's mother's middle name. She was a fantastic grandmother and woman and I can only hope our daughter somehow gets some of her characteristics. Hubby wasn't 100% sold on it but let me have it. Note to all men out there, this is a good move as your wife just pushed a human out of her. I expected her name to get lots of Scarlett Johansson references but only one person mentioned her and that was about a week and a half later. Most people go straight to Gone With the Wind. I'm ok with that since I enjoy the book/movie and also because it was Mom's favorite. I think she would have approved of the name, and I know she would have been thrilled that her daughter now has one of her own. It's really unbelievable.

So my weekly wisdom? I don't care how you get there or how it differs from your original plan...are you alive and well? Is your baby? Then you've had a successful birth. Don't let anyone (yourself included) tell you otherwise.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

nicknames

I don't necessarily know why for some of them, but a few things the baby has been called:
  1. Her actual name (note, this list is not in order of frequency)
  2. The Baby
  3. Pterodactyl (because of her short, shrill cry)
  4. Baby Bird (same as #3)
  5. Chicken (no idea)
  6. Stinkpants
  7. Miss Petunia Stinkybottom (6 & 7 seem somewhat self-explanatory although I don't know about the "Miss Petunia" part)
  8. Munchkin
  9. Little One (8 & 9 also self-explanatory)
  10. Mama
  11. Little Mama (also call the dog #9 & 10)
  12. Grunty
  13. Gruntypants

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

about a week later

The thing about pregnancy is that women only recently started to talk a little candidly about the, um, less desirable parts. Even the books kind of minimized things. You need to find frank authors and friends and pump them for information. Then comes labor and delivery. One of my friends recently mentioned that there's even less information about what comes after the baby. While friends and family coo over the wonderful new addition, mom is often left out in the cold to deal with all sorts of weird things lumped into the category of "recovery." All I have to say is thank God for the blogs and books and friends who were willing to give a realistic picture of what to expect because a lot of this stuff would freak you the heck out if blindsided by it. With that, I figure I'll do one more recap post similar to the pregnancy ones.

Total weight gain: I tell ya, I'm glad people said that you appear 6-7 months pregnant even after you've gotten rid of amniotic fluid, placenta, and that bundle of joy. And if you need fluids, Lordy. Can we say puffy? In this last week, however, I'm down about half the weight I gained. Still in maternity pants but I can wear a few of my larger pre-baby shirts. Weirdly exciting.

Movement: This baby moves around a lot still. :) One fun thing to note is that her little elbows and heels feel so familiar to me. Those things jabbed me in my left side for months.

Cravings: Let's just say we haven't had to cook at all. Everything everyone has brought over has been fantastic.

Symptoms: This is the real reason for this post even though I know it's out of order since I haven't posted the birth story yet. Just wanted to get this out there. First, it's weird that some pregnancy symptoms immediatly are gone while others unexpectedly linger. Not surprisingly, still a little bit of baby brain, lots of waking in the middle of the night. I've had limited crazy dreams because it doesn't seem like I'm dreaming as much. No more hip pain but still with the round ligament pain. I sure wish that one would have gone away. Still have good hair. Puffiness subsided enough to be able to get my rings back on. No more digestive issues, the one sensitive spot on my gums is gone, and no more snotty nose (not sure if I mentioned those last two before). After the first few nights of just wanting to make sure she's breathing, no insomnia at all. New since birth? Various types of boob uncomfortableness that has really lessened up already. And, of course, bigger boobs. Woohoo. Jiggly, Santa-like belly with that giant belly button. And really all of me feels softer--even parts that I swear didn't before. I'm pretty sure I still have wider hips. And my girl bits have seen better days. Thank goodness for drugs and sitz baths. But, honestly, it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It seems like a lot of improvement was made in such a short time. Between Wednesday when we came home (when I wasn't feeling that great) to Friday...wow, world of difference. It's nice to be able to easily go up and down the stairs, to put on shoes and socks, to pick something up off the floor.

Belly button: Never became an outie. Woohoo. Now, though? It's deep and a lot wider than before. I'm hoping that will repair itself as my skin (hopefully) gets a little more back to normal.

Preparations: As far as preparations for recovery? I bought some things that I thought I'd need but you can only prepare so much. If you've never breastfed I don't think you get how different this is for you lifestyle (even if your "lifestyle" is hanging out at home). I needed to run to Target for a few clothing items and nursing bras that would help facilitate the whole process.

Milestones: You know, there's a baby.

Weekly wisdom: For me, I think it helped to be prepared for the worst while tentatively hoping for the best. I'm hugely and pleasantly surprised by my recovery so far as well as life with a newborn. That she's super cute is just a bonus.

I know this is all pretty scattered. Tried to get it written over many baby breaks today. I have a feeling you may have to get used to this...