Monday, August 11, 2014

The latest episode in the Mommy Guilt Saga

So you all know by my last post that I made the decision to breastfeed Sadie, for financial reasons. Having an unpaid maternity leave when you are the primary breadwinner in your family forces you to make some deep financial decisions in order to keep your roof over your head.

I never really had anything against BFing per se, but I always thought it wasn't for me. I didn't even give it a second thought with Jack, he was going to be formula fed and that was it. I didn't think I would have the emotional stability or stamina to go through all the difficulties of establishing a good BFing relationship like I had read about. I saw the struggles my friends and family went through trying to BF their children, and I never thought I could handle it, so I never entertained the thought of trying.

But when you are faced with the thought of possibly losing your house because of inability to pay your mortgage during your maternity leave, you do what you have to.

And deep down, I know there was some little part of me that just wanted to try. Just to see if I could do it. A challenge of sorts.

So I rallied my troops. I borrowed books from BFF T, I had a bunch of long heart to hearts with all my BFFs trying to get over my hang-ups regarding BFing. Mizzle was on board, he told me he would support whatever decision I made and follow my lead. And the ability to get a breast pump for free courtesy of ObamaCare? Well that was pretty awesome too.

I made sure every nurse and LC in the hospital knew that although this was my second child, this was my first time BFing, and I had NO IDEA what I was doing. After Sadie was born, because of the meds I'm on and the fact that the cord was wrapped, she was taken to the level 2 nursery before I really got to hold her. After about 45 minutes, she came back and the nurse said "she's looking for something to suckle!" First of all, I absolutely HATE the word suckle. Gross. Gives me the heebie jeebies. Not exactly the feeling you want when you first start, right? Well she just latched Sadie on and was like see ya later and left. Um, how long do I leave her on? Do I burp her? When do I switch sides? Do I wake her up if she falls asleep?

The LCs in the hospital were pretty helpful, but I never really felt super confident about anything before I left the hospital. Admittedly, its not like I took a BFing class or anything, that was my choice. I don't really dig the group learning thing, never have, never will. When we got home we tried to feed her every 2-3 hours, but sometimes she would sleep for a 6 hour stretch and was literally impossible to wake up. My milk didn't fully come in until day 6, so that was a little on the long side as well. We did supplement with formula from the beginning (thank you samples!) so she was being fed and we didn't have a screaming starving baby which was nice.

But she was a pain in the ass to nurse. She would pop off every minute or so, she was arching her back, she was difficult to burp. And then the projectile vomiting started, which was what brought us to the reflux diagnosis and got us an rx for Zantac. I thought maybe she would do better with bottles, so I began pumping and giving her bottles of breastmilk. I was pumping about 6 times a day, and getting a total of 2 oz at each pump, so I had enough to feed her. But I was paranoid about missing a pump. I knew that she was more efficient than the machine and my supply depended on close contact with her.

When she was around 3 weeks old I went to see an LC recommended by my pediatrician, and also the same LC that BFF T had seen. The LC was amazing. My favorite thing? She said "eating is business, you put that baby to breast and feed her and if she falls asleep or is using you as a pacifier, you unlatch her and put her down. She needs to learn to eat and be done". I liked that she didn't expect me to nurse this child for hours on end. She taught me switch nursing, perfected the hold and her latch and just gave me some general tips. We did a weighted feed, and I found that even though Sadie wasn't nursing for the textbook 15-20 minutes a side, she was getting enough milk. She's just a fast nurser and I have a good supply. Winning!

But the screaming continued. She was a fussy baby. There would be days where she would scream for 3 hours straight, completely inconsolable. It was better when we started Zantac, but she was literally impossible to settle down after nursing. It didn't matter if she was fed with a bottle, or if I nursed her. We tried supplementing with Similac for Supplementation, and also a short trial of soy formula (DISASTER). I had always heard of babies falling asleep while nursing, or the classic "milk drunk" photos that you see all over IG & FB. I have one of those photos. It was the day my milk came in, and it never happened again. She was impossible to settle down after nursing. Mike and I spent hours bouncing on an exercise ball, or putting her swaddled in the swing at top speed. We slept in shifts in the rocking chair in her room, holding her upright. She would be so mad/uncomfortable/distressed when she was crying that she would scratch her face, and no matter how often I clipped her nails, she still scratched herself.

People always ask, "how is the baby? Is she a good baby?" I wanted so badly to reply "no, she's miserable. She cries all the time and never seems comfortable or content" I knew some of this was the reflux, but I knew there was something else and I had no idea what it was. My diet doesn't include a lot of dairy, I do have about 2 cups of coffee every day, we do eat pasta with red sauce and I'll have salsa occasionally. I knew that if elimination diet was on the horizon, that I would be done.

I had a follow-up with the LC this past Thursday and it was great. She did another weighted feed, Sadie was getting plenty of milk and my supply had increased. We made a plan for how I could build a freezer stash for going back to work. I left feeling confident and like "I got this".

Friday she had a great day. I thought I was finally getting her down to a routine, and figuring out her cues. She was fussy as hell that evening, but that's her usual (yup, we have a little colic going on too). She slept great that night, woke up Saturday morning around 9 and all hell broke loose. I fed her, and then she started screaming. She cried literally until 11:15 when my ILs came to pick up Jack to bring him out for the day. She took a 30-40 minute break so I could take a shower, but then she woke up. And she started screaming again. I tried to feed her, she wouldn't have it.

I brought her in the bathroom with me, turned the fan and shower on and looked at the window. I thought about bashing my head through it. Literally. But I didn't. Instead, I leaned my head against the cold tile wall, clamped my hands over my ears and screamed as loud as I possibly could. I knelt down on the floor with my face against the floor and sobbed for like 10 minutes. I cried so hard that I broke blood vessels under my eyes. She stopped crying for some reason, maybe I scared the crap out of her, I don't know. I knew she was hungry, it had been about 2.5 hours since she actually ate, so I said to myself, fuck it.

I went downstairs, got a sample can of Similac Sensitive (what Jack was on) and mixed up a bottle. She sucked it down and passed out for 3 hours.

That was my end point. I knew there was something about BFing that wasn't working for her, that was making her miserable and uncomfortable. In my scientific mind, I thought if I could eliminate the variable of breastmilk and replace it with the the constant of formula, then at least I could better figure out what was making her so uncomfortable.

We continued the switch for the past 2 days, and she has been so much better. Yes she is still fussy and evenings still suck, but now she falls asleep after eating, burps easier and just seems less uncomfortable. And I'm not sobbing on the bathroom floor or thinking about bashing my head through a window.

I feel ironically free, like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. But at the same time, I feel guilty for not trying. For not doing the elimination diet. When I had thought about BFing while pregnant, I always thought that the reason that I would end up quitting would be because I was in too much pain or I wouldn't have enough supply. I never planned for BFing not working for Sadie, I always thought it would be a problem with me. But it wasn't. I didn't have any pain, I had a great supply.

But now that she is on formula, she is a happier baby. And I need to keep telling myself that is what matters, its not about me wanting to continue nursing that is important, its about what is making Sadie more comfortable. And I wish I didn't have to quit. I like the fact that my body is actually cooperating for once and doing something its supposed to. It's empowering to think that you can nourish your child solely from yourself and nothing else.

So I'm dealing with the guilt of quitting, the guilt of feeling like I'm wussing out on the elimination diet.

Naturally I've spent a lot of time hashing this out and rationalizing it with Mizzle, my mom & sister Kellie, and BFF T. My mom corrected me when I said that I was quitting - she said
"Shan, you aren't quitting, I've never known you to quit anything in your life. It's not quitting - you are just making a different choice" 
And then of course BFF T, the one who BF'd her child the longest out of all of our friends, the one who made it look so easy, said to me:
"Dude you overcame all those hangups and fears to do this, and you did it! It's pretty f*cking awesome that you tried, you should be proud of yourself!" 
So I did it. 4 weeks, 6 days of breastfeeding. At least I can say that I tried, and at least I can be confident knowing that the reason I stopped was to benefit my child. And really, that's what being a mother is all about - doing what is best for your child.


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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

1 Month!

It's been a month? Really?

Weight: 8 lbs 14 oz (50th %ile)
Length: 21.25" (70th %ile)

Eats: Well, never thought I'd be writing this, but Sadie is breastfed. Yup, she is. My reason? MONEY. Formula is expensive. My maternity leave is unpaid. Enough said. We are supplementing with formula here and there, and I have no doubt my supply will tank when I go back to work in October, but for now, we are enjoying the cheap eats. She eats about every 3 hours, and she is an impatient little thing! And one little piece of wisdom - shallots & garlic do not make for a happy baby the following day...

Sleeps: Once she is asleep, she is asleep. Girl sleeps heavy and hard, but getting here there is another story. She hates being put to bed, and will only fall asleep in your arms being bounced/rocked/swayed and then put down. She can go 5-6 hour stretches, and usually wakes up between 2-4 am to eat, then back down again until about 6 am when she is up for the day. Initially she was only sleeping in her bouncer or Rock N Play (RNP) until we got her reflux somewhat under control with Zantac (more on that later), but for the last 2 nights she has been able to sleep in her bassinet (with a towel under the mattress to prop it up a little bit. And another exciting sleep thing? So far, she sleeps through vacuuming. At first I was like OMG she's going to wake up with the vacuum and then when I realized she slept through it, I was like DUH, she's been listening to me vacuum like a crazy person every day when she was on the inside!

Likes: Being held. She is perfectly content to be in your arms bounced around all the live long day. She also is a huge fan of this little cow plush rattle that we have, she loves to stare at it when she is on her play mat.

Dislikes: Being in her carseat when the car is not moving or the seat is not being swung back and forth. If it's not moving, get her the hell out.

Milestones: Not too much to report on this front, she is just getting used to life on the outside I guess :) Her umbilical cord stump fell off right on schedule at about 10 days, despite the fact that it got superficially infected and smelled so.damn.bad. I felt awful for her, she was my sweet week old baby girl and she smelled like rotting flesh :( poor thing. She had her first bath that day and she didn't really like it at all, but now she is starting to like baths. She had her first shot at the pediatrician's office today (the 2nd Hep B vax). Not really a milestone, but she has been on Zantac now for 8 days. For about 2 weeks she was absolutely miserable all the time. Lots and lots of crying, screaming, arching her back, squirming and kicking her legs. No amount of gripe water or Mylicon was helping. Then she started with the projectile vomiting. And then when you laid her down on her playmat or in the bassinet (even after waiting 30 minutes after eating), she would scream bloody murder for hours. I knew something was up, I mean I know she's a picky/fussy baby, but this was not right. She never seemed to calm down. Finally, after 4 pediatrician appointments, we finally got an rx for Zantac. Within about 4-5 days, she was definitely improved. She is puking less, we can lay her down almost flat, and she has decreased her fussy/screaming time to about 4 hours in the evening leading up to bedtime. So, moral of that story is that Mommy is always right.

Little Chicken,
I have no idea why I call you that, but it just fits. You are my fuzzy little chicken. It's been a bit of a crazy month, and I know we are still just trying to get to know each other. I must say, I love that you recognize our voices and you calm down and start looking around for us when we talk to you. I can tell that you are going to be a very social little girl. 
Oh, you and your are always putting your hands up in front of your face, and when you get really mad and start crying hard, you usually end up scratching your face. I think you want to suck on your fingers or your thumb, but you haven't quite mastered that yet.
You love your big bro, and you are so awesome at tolerating his smothering hugs and kisses. He loves to give you toys and make sure that you have your pacifier or that we know you are hungry. I think you guys are going to get along great and have so much fun playing together.
My favorite thing so far is to snuggle you when you are sleeping. The times that you are awake have been so tumultuous over the past few weeks, that the few times that you are asleep content in my arms I just like to kiss your cheeks and nuzzle your soft skin.
Sadie Sadie Pretty's been so fun getting to know you and I'm already looking forward to the future and how much joy you will continue to bring to our lives.
I love you my baby girl,

Big Brother Jack wanted in on the picture taking action :)


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Monday, August 4, 2014

Girl: A Birth Story

"And though she be but little, she is fierce."
A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare

The date had been set for quite some time...July 5, 2014. The day that we were to start on the journey to meeting our baby girl. All plans were set in place to make sure that Big Brother Jack was taken care of: Auntie Kellie was coming up the day before, and Auntie T, Gramma & Doodz were coming on the 5th. Mike was going to be off of work for about 4 days. It was all perfectly planned. Bags were packed. Lists were made. Coming home outfit was washed and carefully folded, then placed in the painstakingly packed diaper bag. We were ready.

Because I was to be induced because of my blood pressure (chronic hypertension, no signs of preeclampsia or IUGR for Girl), we were told to expect a call from L&D that morning between 6am-10am to tell us when to come to the hospital. Of course, I couldn't sleep all night. I was sobbing the night before because it was my last time putting Jack to bed as my only baby, so emotions were running high. Cell phones and fully charged house phones on our nightstands were silent, until about 9:30 AM, when L&D called. 

Hurricane Arthur was coming up the eastern seaboard, and we were amidst rain and fluctuating barometric pressures, which I figured was going to break every woman's water within spitting distance of Mount Auburn. Well, I was right. L&D was full. The nurse said they would call back at noon and give me an update. I couldn't sit still. I was so anxious. Kellie and Mike were doing their best to keep me sane, but if anyone knows me, I need a plan. I don't do waiting and maybe.

So they called at noon, and said that they were still full, but that I was to come in for monitoring (NST and BPP) and we could "talk logistics" when I got there. I was pissed. I wanted this to happen today. It was all planned out. This was the day things were supposed to happen, can't something just go my way for once? 

So we packed up, I had the foresight to bring our bags just in case. Jack was going outside in the backyard to play in his pool. I picked him up and squeezed him, gave him a bunch of kisses on the cheek. That was the last time I would pick up my sweet boy as my only child. My Baby Nugget.

We got to L&D around 1pm  and were put into a triage room, I was strapped onto the monitor. My BP was the usual 140s/80s-90s. Girl looked awesome on the NST. I was having a few very tiny contractions. My nurse, Lisa (who was the nurse that I was with as a student on L&D and I saw my first birth with her), said they had one woman pushing, and 2 other ladies at 6 and 7 cm, so that was the possibility of 3 beds opening up. While we were on the NST and she was trying to book the ultrasound we heard 2 babies being born. I had a feeling that we were going to be able to stay. The doc on call, Dr. Hotchkiss, came in to check me and I was 3 cm and 100% effaced, a little bit of a change from when my doc checked me that Monday. The charge nurse came in and said that they had a bed available. 

We were moved into room 6 (my favorite number!) and Lisa was still my nurse. Dr. Hotchkiss, Mike and I made the decision to start with breaking my water. That was at 3:30. Then, we were set off to go walking around to see if things would start on their own. I felt a few little contractions, but nothing major. At 5:30 we started Pitocin. Every 30 minutes, the nurse would increase the dose by 2. At 7 pm shift change, my nurse was Deirdre, who used to work at the hospital I now work at. Of course the World Cup was on, so we watched one of the semi-final games. Then, we watched a movie on Netflix. Around 8pm-ish, the contractions started to pick up in intensity. I was able to get through them just by closing my eyes, breathing and trying to imagine it washing away. At one point I remember Mike saying to me that he didn't even know I was having a contraction unless he was looking at me. 

I knew with this delivery that I wanted to experience labor. For some reason, I wanted to feel some of the pain, I wanted to know what that was all about, since I didn't really feel much with Jack. Dr. Hotchkiss checked me again around 9:30ish and I was only 4-5 cm. I couldn't believe that was all, but the nurse and doc said that was great progress, and considering that I had a lot of bloody show, they thought I was about to progress to the active phase of labor. So we made the decision before things got bad that I would get the epidural. I wanted to feel pain, but I'm no masochist, let's be realistic. So I got up to use the bathroom, I made Mike come with me because I wasn't sure how I would do in there by myself with these really painful contractions. They were at the point where I couldn't talk through them and it was hard to breathe and focus. When I got in the bathroom I had a huge one and had to grab onto the wall and thank God he was there, because I could barely stand up it hurt so bad.

The anesthesiologist set everything up, Mike was kicked to the waiting room and I got that needle shoved in my back. It took a few tries which sucked because I had a few contractions during the whole thing, and being hunched over unable to move while having a contraction is pretty awful. Once it was in, Deirdre said she was going to put my catheter in and asked if I wanted her to get Mike at this point. I was like, um no, let's wait till after the catheter. Dude might pass out, and well, just no.

Once the epi was in it definitely took moreso on my left side and I couldn't even lift that leg or turn over on my own. The contraction monitor kept losing track of the contractions and Girl was moving around in there so they kept losing her on the monitor. Dr. Hotchkiss had come in and said that she had to assist the other MD on that night in a c-section, but that the midwife was around and knew all about me and would step in if need be. At one point Deirdre came in and said they saw a few decels on the monitor, so she flipped me onto my other side. About every 10-20 minutes or so for the next hour, she would come in and adjust things because they weren't picking up on the monitor. I was exhausted and was almost falling asleep...but then around 11:45 or so I felt a lot of pressure. I had been feeling pressure, but it would come and go so I figured it was the contractions. Well at this point it wasn't stopping. So I nudge Mike and wake him up and tell him. He asks if I want a pillow or something (he was half asleep), and I told him "I think you should get the nurse, I think this is it". Bang, he shot out of that chair like a cannon. 

So Deirdre brought in Elsa the midwife, who checked me and said that I was 10 cm and Girl was right there ready to come out. I was feeling so much pressure at this point, and was kind of freaking out a little bit because my body was almost taking over and pushing without me being able to really control it. Elsa was so sweet and had the most calming demeanor, she was just lovely. Dr. Hotchkiss came in just as I was about to start pushing and Elsa offered for her to "catch" the baby, since apparently they thought that this was going to be a quick, easy delivery since I'm a 2nd time mom. All this was happening around midnight, and they didn't think it was going to be much longer.

At this point I had the realization that the epidural was not working for the southernmost parts, if you know what I mean. My back and stomach felt great, but everything else felt like it was on fire and ripping to pieces. At one point the anesthesiologist actually poked his head in and asked how the epi was working, to which Deirdre curtly replied "she's pushing. Thanks". So I was pushing. I would feel the contraction start up and without me even controlling it, my breathing would get all heavy and then my body just took over. It was kind of surreal. I couldn't even open my eyes, I was trying so hard to focus. I just remember thinking how bad this was hurting and if I was going to be able to actually do this.

Since I had my eyes closed I didn't see this, but Mike said there was a rather touchy moment. I remember Dr. Hotchkiss telling me not to push, that there was "a cord", which meant that the cord was wrapped up somehow. Well, it was actually wrapped around her neck, around her chest and back under her arm. So every time I pushed, she would crown and almost come out, but then was tethered by her cord and got sucked back in. So after they removed the cord twice, she came flying out. I pushed for a total of about 20 minutes.

On July 6, 2014 at 12:29 AM, an 8 lb, 0.3 oz, 20 3/4" Sadie Katherine was placed on my stomach and she immediately looked up at me. My sweet baby girl that we had waited so long for - she was finally here.

Life would never be the same.

Because of my medication and blood pressure, the pediatrician was at the bedside and she was only on my stomach for a few seconds before she was whisked away to the warmer. She immediately started to cry, which was such an awesome sound. Her eyes were wide open, she was looking around, and kicking those legs like crazy - just like when she was inside.

After they gave her some oxygen and checked her out, I got to hold her for a few minutes before they took her to the special care nursery. She was only there for about 45 minutes before they brought her back to us, because she was doing so awesome. Her forehead was bruised from being wrapped and tethered, so my poor little girl had a sticker on her bassinet that said "I have a bruise on my face" so that no one thought anything was acutely wrong.

After about an hour in L&D, a room was ready for us on the post-partum wing, so we were wheeled over there. We had a nice quiet room at the end of the hallway with a view of Boston & the Charles River. I held my little girl in my arms while Mike snoozed away and we watched the sun rise. I remember thinking how perfect everything was. I got the birth experience that I wanted. I have a full term healthy baby in my arms. My handsome husband is sleeping at my side. My amazing son was home sleeping in his bed surrounded by my loving family. It really doesn't get better than that.

Later on that day my family brought Jack to meet his baby sister...and what an amazing moment that was. That moment was one of those moments you've waited your whole life for, when the world stops around you and you are only focused on one thing. Seeing my son meet my daughter for the first time...words are difficult to describe it. So that my friends, is a post for another day. Plus, I need another box of tissues before I write that post...

Our days in the hospital were pretty uneventful, a much different experience than the one we had with Jack. Sadie passed her hearing test on the 2nd try (first time her left ear failed because she was all full of fluid. The tech said when the delivery is so fast not all the fluid gets squished out of the ears), we didn't have to worry about a car seat test, and she passed her congenital heart defect screening test. Her bilirubin screening was normal too, which was a relief for me because I was worried all that bruising was going to make her bili go up and we were going to have another day in the hospital and be under the lights.

The day we went home Mike came after dropping Jack off at daycare and picked up me and Sadie. Mike had picked out her going-home outfit, so I thought it would be appropriate that he get her dressed. It made my heart swell, seeing my big strong husband dress his dainty little girl in a dress. We tucked her in her carseat, stopped in the hallway to say thank you and snap a quick family pic and we were on our way home. Hard to believe it was all over, so fast.

Sadie Sadie Pretty Lady,
My sweet baby girl...I'm so happy that you are finally with us. I knew from the moment I felt you kicking in my belly that you were going to be someone special. I knew you would have a spunk about you and have an energy that we will likely spend our lives trying to catch up with. It's hard to say that you are everything that I ever dreamed you would be, because you are so much more than that. I feel like I've known you my whole life, but yet this is still our first time meeting. 
Sadie we are so excited to watch you grow and blossom into the wonderful person we know you will be. Until then, we are going to snuggle you and love you like none other. Your brother will show you the ways of the world, and we will be there to guide you both. We already love you so much little so much.
Mommy & Daddy


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