Sunday, May 8, 2016

One

I'm finally posting this on the day that Jack turns 13 months, but I figure since it's also Mother's Day, it's sort of symbolic. And also I'm a terrible blogger. (Ha, case in point. I had this scheduled to go out on Sunday. For some reason it didn't. This is my life right now.)

Jack is one. I can hardly believe it. I know every mom says that, but it's so crazy that just a year ago he was still inside my tummy. As he was playing with little plastic eggs this Easter, I remembered that last Easter I was a big round blob on my couch. Bobby and I didn't even travel to see my family like we always do because I was too uncomfortable. Even though I was still two weeks from my due date, Jack was born only four days later. Everything has felt like that recently. There's been so much of "Last year, this was my last day of work" (Apr 3), or "At this moment last year, my water broke in the hospital parking lot" (Apr 8, 4:30 p.m.) or "Last year, I took our tiny newborn to Bobby's first softball tournament of the season, and now he's running around on his own" (first weekend in May) or "Last year at my first sand volleyball game, I was so nervous to dive and split my stiches back open." (6 weeks ppd)

We had a small birthday party for Jack - just my parents and two of our close couple friends and their two kids. It was totally a Pinterest party with handmade decorations, a full themed buffet of delicious, homemade food, and a ton of fun party games! Just kidding...did you forget who's blog you're reading? We ordered Pizza Hut and I managed to scrounge together some chips and make boxed cupcakes. And Jack couldn't have been happier.


On to the stats:
Size
At his 12-month appointment, Jack was 23.9 pounds and 29.75 inches. He's in mostly 12 month clothes, occasionally some 9 month pants, since he has short legs. But his 12 months pjs are getting stretched to their limit, so we may be heading in the 18 month direction. He's in size 5 diapers, and can still manage to leak through overnight diapers and soak his jammies nightly. I don't complain too much, since he sleeps close to 12 hours a night now.

Sleep
Speaking of sleep - sleep is good! There was a point in my life where I thought I would never sleep again. At least not for any substantial length of time. I mean, I'm still tired a lot of the time, and when Bobby asked what I wanted for Mother's Day, I said (without hesitation) "a really long nap," but I get 7-8 hours most nights (if I go to bed at a decent hour). Jack is somewhere in the 2-1 nap transition. Like today, he slept until 8:30 a.m. So I put him down for his nap at 12:15 p.m. He babbled and rolled around in his crib til 12:30. He should get a couple hours in and make it til bedtime. BUT...often on one nap days, he needs a slightly earlier bedtime, which means he'll probably wake up earlier tomorrow morning, which means he'll need 2 naps...but on 2 naps, he has a later bedtime and tends to sleep in a little bit. So...you can see the endless circle. Obviously one solution would be to wake him up at the same time every morning. But on days that I work, it's kind of nice to be able to get ready without someone tugging on my leg the whole time. And on days I don't work, I can also sleep in a bit, or enjoy my breakfast by myself. So, we're in nap transition limbo. And for right now, it works. I'm a big fan of not fixing what isn't broken.

Movement
Jack's been walking completely on his own since 10ish months, and occasionally runs. Especially towards people's knee caps or collar bones (if sitting on the floor), which he loves to headbutt at full speed. I often get comments about how well he gets around for his age. He's the only one in our Baby and Me class that can walk - though he is a month or so older than all the other kids - but he was walking at their age.

Language
He has a handful of words: mama, dada, ball (bop), duck (dut), up, banana (nana), diaper, moo (when he sees a picture of a cow), bubbles, dog, and cottage cheese (this is my favorite. It's so cute. It's generally only one he'll repeat, not say on his own, and it comes out like "cot cheese" but it's freaking adorable). He'll also repeat "brush teeth" if we say it first. He'll also say "pu-pu-pu-pu" when he sees a picture of a pig, so I'm guessing that one is close. There may be a few more I'm forgetting, but those are the ones he uses consistently.

Likes
He loves books. While we play in the living room, he constantly picks up books and brings them over to me and climbs on my lap. It's very sweet and makes this English major very proud. My parents got him a quiet book for his birthday, so he loves to play with all the snaps and hooks on it. He can't do everything, but I love these and I think it's a toy that will grow with him (and maybe keep him quiet someday in the car/restaurants/church without the use of electronics? I can dream!).

Jack loves watching cars out the window and playing outside. We're hoping to fence in our backyard this summer, which would give him more freedom, and I wouldn't have to be right on top of him - trying to convince him not to run and grab the neighbors firepit or kick his ball into the street.

Growth
I did take monthly photos, but I never posted them here since I was nowhere near getting around to posting every month. So here's a big dump of all of them. I printed them and attached to scrapbook paper and hung on our wall above his high chair for Jack's birthday. Everyone loved looking at them, and they're actually still up. Eventually they should make their way into his baby book...but I'm about as good about updating that as I am at posting here. It's crazy to see how much he's grown and changed in the last year, and I kind of like to be able to look at little tiny Mr. Burns Jack every day.

(tapping fingers together) "Excellent"




 


This was the best I got this month. He was too enthralled in the bear.
 




On his first birthday. What a little boy - definitely not a baby anymore!
And since it's FINALLY spring here in Minnesota, our cherry tree has blossomed. That always calls for a photoshoot in this house.

That little tongue. He does EVERYTHING with his tongue out.

My two favorite boys

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Boob Talk

Here it is. I'm going to get this post done. It's been in the works, both in draft form and in my head for months. Today I'm going to finish it. It's not going to be as pretty and polished as I would like, but here it goes.

From Day 1, I didn't love breastfeeding. I mean, I didn't really expect to. I'm not really the kind of person that is obsessed with "bonding" anyway. I have close friends, I have casual friends, I have acquaintances, I have soul mates. All of whom I have bonded with in one way or another. And with the exception of my mother, none of that bonding has involved drinking milk from their bodies.

We didn't get off to a great start. In the hospital, Jack didn't latch well. I had a few really helpful nurses, I had a few nurses who handed him to me and told me to point his mouth toward my boob. I wasn't producing any milk, he wasn't transferring any milk, and it seemed doomed. We ended up using a nipple shield which helped a lot with his latch/my pain. A lactation consultant also suggested pumping - so after every feeding, I pumped for 20 minutes. I didn't even need bottles attached to the pump - after 20 minutes, there was only ever a drop or two of colostrum on the flanges that Bobby or a nurse would wipe off with their finger and let Jack lick. But the LC praised me and said that was awesome and to keep at it.

When Jack was five days old, he had his tongue tie clipped. That was the same day my milk came in. I kept up pumping after every feeding and built a nice freezer stash (this was the smartest thing I ever did, and probably the only reason we're going to make it a full year...more on that later though).

The first four months were not easy. My supply was great - in addition to full time nursing, I generally pumped at least an extra bottle to keep in the fridge, plus an extra bag to freeze. But it was still painful, and we used the nipple shield for a full four months.

I didn't love it, and I felt bad about that. But other than my nipple pain and annoyance at not being able to be away from my baby or pump for more than two hours, there wasn't really any reason to stop.

Plus - the one thing I did love about breastfeeding was how it helped me lose weight. I gained less than 30 pounds during pregnancy. I left the hospital down 15ish. At 6 weeks, I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight (though it was still shifted pretty significantly. I do not have my pre-pregnancy body). At 8 weeks, I could fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I'm still hovering about 5 pounds below my pp weight. And the ONLY reason for that is breastfeeding. I haven't been working out as much as I want (read: at all) and my eating is absolutely terrible. But I'm burning calories!

And for the record, I don't think it did much for bonding. Bobby has never once breastfed Jack (which I think is pretty darn unfair), and they are best friends. And who really thinks you can't bond while giving your baby a bottle? I mean, are you handing your newborn a bottle and walking away? Figure it out on your own, kid! You're five days old, can't you feed yourself yet? You're still cuddled up, snuggled together, watching those sweet eyes thanking you for providing them nourishment. We did plenty of bottles of pumped milk to give my nipples a break. And those times were just as sweet and special as actual nursing. Maybe more so because I wasn't wincing and trying to fix a bad latch.

"Breastfeeding is the easy part."

I don't even know when it happened. Somewhere around five and half months, I realized that nursing was easy. I could do it while walking, in public without a cover (and still not showing any skin), in my car. It was easier than having bottles prepared and kept cold. I had all Jack's food with me all the time. It required no pre-planning. I didn't even realize when I stopped hating breastfeeding.


My mom is of the formula generation. She breastfed my sister and me for 3-4 months and switched to formula around the time we started solids and started getting teeth (apparently we were biters). According to her, that's what everyone did - if they breastfed at all. The accepted theory was that formula and solids made babies sleep longer, so starting both of those as early as possible was best for everyone. She continually brought up these points to me and asked how long I was going to keep breastfeeding, especially when we started Jack on solids at 5.5 months.

And that's when I said the above words: Breastfeeding is the easy part. Even as they left my mouth, I couldn't believe I said them. Easy? When did it get easy? Remember those nightmare days of marathon pumping, bleeding nipples, lanolin stains...plus waking up in pools of my own milk when Jack had a long stretch of sleep? Or getting up to pump at 2 a.m. - despite the fact that my 3-month-old was going to sleep through the night - because there was no way I could sleep with the boulders on my chest? Now it was different. He only took 15-20 minutes to eat, and only ever three hours or so. My nipples were fine. I pumped before bed and froze the extra. No engorgement, no leaking, no greasy lanolin.

Breastfeeding as the "easy part" was actually in reference to starting solids. We started at 5.5 months because Jack was showing signs of reflux. Getting some oatmeal in him, especially before bed, seemed to help. But this meant having available food for him - even on the go. I had to pre-plan if we were going out. Or if we had a spontaneous trip, I had to try to come up with something he could eat. I had to somehow squeeze in an actual lunch - between nursing sessions, naps, diaper changes, plus trying to leave the house occasionally...how was this all going to happen? We had originally intended to do a more Baby Led Weaning approach, but for various reasons, it didn't work out. We started with mostly purees and that meant I had to either have a store-bought puree available, or have access to a blender. That's why I told my mom breastfeeding was the easy part. The hard part was spoon feeding a flailing baby. And getting enough food into his mouth (and not on his face, his hands, his shirt, his hair) that it calmed his reflux.

Somewhere around six months, I got my period back. My supply took a nosedive. Since it was now easy, I didn't really want to give up yet. So I did the oatmeal, gallons of water, Gatorade, Fenugreek thing and brought it back up. Then I got sick. Another nosedive. Then my period again. Oh, and Jack was allergic to sleep at this point, so I was sleeping in 45 minutes intervals. Also not great for milk supply. It was rough. I started giving Jack bottles of pumped milk before bed. I knew my supply was low in the evening (my before-bed pumping dropped from a solid 4-5 ounces to 2 on a good night. On a bad night, less than an ounce) and I wanted to be sure he wasn't going to bed hungry. I'd pump later to make up for the bottle, but I wasn't getting anywhere close to what he was eating. It was disheartening. I felt defeated. I felt like a failure. It took us this long to figure it out and everything was going well and now my body was failing me again. It sucked. I seemed to be producing enough to keep Jack happy during the day, so I decided to just take it day by day.

Bobby was super supportive. He reminded me all the time that this was exactly what my freezer stash was for. There was no reason to just keep saving it. We'd use it up, and then we'd use formula. No big deal. I relaxed a little (even though the speed at which we were/are burning through my stash is a bit alarming), but I'm just taking it a day at a time.

"When did you become such a breastfeeding advocate?"

Around 8-9 months, Jack because super distracted. I was never sure he was eating enough because he'd nurse for less than five minutes at a time. I couldn't really tell if it was because that's all the supply I had, or if he'd just rather play than eat. He was eating massive amounts of solids, and I checked with his pediatrician at his 9-month check up, and he said it was fine. Some kids nurse a lot, some eat a lot of solids, and Jack was healthy, hitting his milestones, so he wasn't worried.

My mom is again responsible for the above quote. She was once again (around 8 months) asking how long I was planning on nursing. I said I didn't know. A year, if I could make it. So she asked, "When did you become such a breastfeeding advocate?" I almost laughed. In fact, I may have. I mean, I'm not really. I'm definitely not a lactivist. I honestly have no opinion on how any other mom chooses to feed her baby. Right now, at this moment, breastfeeding and supplementing with our freezer stash was working. I didn't see any reason to change it.

Now, before this makes my mom sound like a horrible person, she's really not. And I don't mean that she's actually trying to undermine my breastfeeding experience either. When this conversation happened, we were in the pit of our sleep hell. I was getting up 10-12 times a night, and nursing most of those times just to get Jack back to sleep. I know she was saying this because she thought I needed a break. She thought if I wasn't nursing, she and my dad could watch Jack for a whole day and let me sleep (and not worry about pumping). They could even take him for the night. I would stop putting so much pressure on myself to guzzle gallons of water. And stop drinking that nasty tea.

Part of this makes no sense to me, even as I'm writing it. I didn't ever love breastfeeding, I'm not sure why I was so hesitant to stop. Why did even care if we kept going? I have nothing against formula. We even have a bunch of cans in our cupboard that came as samples when I was pregnant. I was using some of the pre-mixed stuff to make things like french toast for Jack. I have no idea what was driving this insane inner need to breastfeed my baby for a year. Before Jack was born, before I was pregnant, I never even thought about breastfeeding. It never once crossed my mind. Even as my friends had kids, I never really noticed who breastfed and who used formula.

When I was pregnant, I decided I'd give nursing a try. Why not? Free milk, right? I figured we'd attempt it, and if it worked, great. If not, we'd supplement. It was the same thought I had about having a natural birth. We'd try - but whatever happened would be fine. (Note: That didn't work. I'm Team C-Section.)

Once Jack was born, I decided I'd at least breastfeed a week. That would be giving it a fair shot. He'd get the "liquid gold" colostrum, get off to a good start, we'd "bond," and if that's all he got, at least he got off to a good start. After a week, things were going okay. I decided to try to make it a month. Then to my 6-week incision check. Then Jack's 2-month appointment. Then 3 months. Then 6. When I was at my height of pumping/storing/building my stash, I thought I might be able to quit breastfeeding on my birthday (Feb 2) and still have enough pumped milk for Jack to make it a year (Apr 8). When I started going though my stash much more quickly than I planned, and not being able to replace it at the same rate, I hoped I could at least quit pumping on my birthday - still nurse during the day, but not have to pump to replace the night bottle or for any other missed feeds. That also didn't happen.

Jack is 10.5 months old. I'm pretty sure I have another month of freezer milk left (including what I'm currently pumping). At 11.5ish months, I've been given the go-ahead to begin transitioning to whole milk. I'll have to recount my frozen ounces again, but I think I can quit pumping at the beginning of March. I'll still be nursing during the day mostly, but start transitioning to more cups with part pumped milk, part whole milk.

But it still isn't easy. In fact, I just made (and ate in 3 days) a batch of lactation cookies. I'm once again doing my best to boost my supply just to make it a year. I really wouldn't care if we had to start supplementing with formula during the day for a few feeds (although Jack hates it - so it would be a battle).

But a few weeks ago, I had this overwhelming sadness that I would make it this far, yet not quite a year. Even if I could only keep one feed, even if it was the 4 a.m. one, I was desperate to keep it. I never have, and still don't, love breastfeeding, but I was just hit with this overwhelming desire to nurse Jack for the last time on the morning of his first birthday. To relive those moments I first held him. To realize how far we've come. From how tiny he felt and how awkward it was for me to try to nurse him the first time. To now. To how awkward it is these days because Jack is half my height and barely fits in my lap. His legs hang off and kick against anything he can get his feet against. To remember that we've sat here and done this every single day; many, many times a day. In many, many ways I'm so ready to wean. No part of me wants to go past a year. But I do want that memory. That picturesque moment in the early hours of his birthday. I'm not a sentimental, emotional person. So the fact that I want this so badly confuses me. But there it is.

I don't know why any of this matters so much to me. Other than calorie burn, I don't know why I didn't just start on formula a long time ago. I have no idea if it's related to infertility, or just my general tendency to be stubborn goal oriented. Whatever the case, for now, I'm pushing on. Maybe I'll make it a year, maybe not. I keep telling myself the same thing I did in the beginning: I'll nurse the next time Jack needs to eat. Maybe that will be the last time, maybe not. I just need to make it through the next feed. One day at a time.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Longer on the Outside

Jack is nine months old. He's officially been on the outside longer than he was on the inside. I suppose it's time for me to update about him, even if no one reads this anymore. I might like to remember this someday.

He is now 20 pounds, 10 ounces and 29 inches long. His weight really slowed in the last few months because he is so freaking active. He started crawling a week before he turned 7 months. A few days later, he was pulling to stand. On Everything. Now he can easily cruise around the room holding on to furniture/toys/walls/people's legs. He has a perpetual bruise on the middle of his forehead from letting go and attempting to walk.

He is still breastfed - barely. He is so distracted, I feel like the only full feedings he gets are the early morning one and the bottle of pumped milk before bed. Then he snacks for a few minutes at a time throughout the day. He eats a ton of solids though. We're working on using a sippy cup because at one year I am done nursing. It's been a good experience; I'm glad I'm doing it; it's beautiful; we've saved a boatload of money on formula; yadda, yadda, yadda; but I'm ready to be done. I'm ready to have my body back. I'm ready to be free from the pump. I have a whole post drafted in my head about the whole breastfeeding experience. Maybe someday I'll get it written.

Sleep. I guess I can talk about sleep now. It was rough there for awhile. I actually have a post drafted that I wrote at a really low point in our sleep deprivation nightmare that lasted about 4 months. A post that would get me kicked out of the infertility community permanently. I was not in a good place. I hadn't slept for more than 2 straight hours in months. I had a constant migraine. My vision was fuzzy. I was afraid to drive anywhere because I knew I would fall asleep at the wheel. I laid down during most of Jack's naps, but they only lasted 30 minutes, so it didn't help much. Many days I would lie on the couch while Jack played on the floor and just try to keep my eyes open. And in my really low moments, I admitted that this was why I was infertile. I never should have messed with nature. I wasn't cut out to handle this. I wished I wasn't a mom.

Things were not getting better. Jack was waking up at least every 2 hours during the night, often more. I was in an ugly pit of depression. Bobby was doing everything he could to help, but he works 9 hour days. He'd take vacation when he could and let me sleep, but it hardly made a dent in my exhaustion.

So we did it. We started sleep training. We tried no cry methods and baby whispering. It'd work for a few days, but nothing substantial. Same with Ferber checks. On Christmas Day, we bit the bullet. We let Jack cry himself to sleep for as long as it took, with no intervention from us.

1 hour, 14 minutes. Since Bobby was off the next day, he agreed to take the full night, and I would sleep. Jack woke again at 12:30 and cried for 10 minutes. Again at 2:30 a.m. for an hour and a half. Slept til 7:30 a.m.

The next night he cried 44 minutes at bedtime, 29 minutes at 1 a.m., a quick feed at 4 a.m. and slept til 7 a.m.

Night 3, he cried 46 minutes at bed time, 8 minutes at 1:30, up for the day at 7 a.m.

He had one 40 minute relapse on Night 6 an hour after bedtime, but I think I messed up his schedule and he went to bed too early. Other than that, he goes to bed awake with zero crying, one feed after 4 a.m. and generally goes back to sleep until 6:30 or 7 a.m. Occasionally he'll wake up and fuss for a few minutes in the middle of the night, but he puts himself back to sleep in less than 5 minutes.

So...we're those parents. We did full extinction Cry It Out. We're terrible people who must hate our kid. Judge all you want. I'm well rested enough to take any criticism these days.

Jack's a good kid, and I'm a better mom now. We do much more playing and activities. We take a weekly Baby and Me class. We go on adventures. He loves going to Cabela's to look at the animals, especially the fish. My mom got us a family pass to the Minnesota Zoo for Christmas, so I'm excited to start going there whenever we can.


Other things...Bobby's brother moved in with us at the beginning of December. He's got a mountain of student loan debt (and didn't graduate...so not a lot of job prospects either...), plus credit card debt. He was crashing at a friend's house since he doesn't have enough money for an apartment, but they finally booted him after six months. His car doesn't run and he had no where to go. It hasn't been the best situation for me, home all day with a baby - plus breastfeeding, pumping, etc - not things I want to do in front of my brother-in-law. We're managing, but I'm seriously hoping he can find a place soon.

I'm also working two mornings a week for a few hours. It's been pretty perfect. I'm tutoring at the high school in an elective class. It's good for me to get out, and good for Jack to have a few hours without me. He's having some rough separation anxiety right now. I am at a loss for what to do about it, so advice is certainly welcome.

Last Friday, we had 20ish* weather, so it was perfect for building a snowman. Jack had fun playing in the snow as long as one of us was holding him. When we set him down, well...this might be my new favorite picture of him.

Plus here's a bonus picture from Christmas Eve:

As always, I will try to update more often, but in any down time, I'm mostly trying to dig myself out from the pile of laundry, dishes, and Cheerios from under the high chair. If you're still following - thank you. I need this place much more than any of you, but I do appreciate you coming along for the ride.  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sixth Months

Jack turned 6 months old last Thursday. I don't even know how that happened. He's napping at the moment, and since I can pretty much set my watch by his exactly 30-minute naps, this is going to be quick.

Stats: 18 pounds, 3 ounces; 26.75 inches long

Teeth: None, not even started - though he's been drooling like crazy for the last 4 months. Maybe eventually?

Sleep: Next. I don't want to talk about this.

Milestones: Can roll both ways, sit up by himself for several minutes, get to hands and knees and rock back and forth, can scoot backwards and in a circle.

Likes: Food - baby oatmeal, sweet potatoes, bananas, pears. When I sit him on my stomach and do crunches. Playing with Daddy's beard. Sitting on the front porch swing. Wheels on the Bus.

Dislikes: Food - avocado, squash, peas. Being put into his car seat. Sleeping.

Nicknames: Spuds, Bobo, Big Fat Baby

That's about it.

Other things...I made it to 6 months breastfeeding!!! This shocks me almost as much as the fact that I've kept a baby alive for 6 whole months. I'd like to make it a year, and I have a pretty good freezer stash going, so it might actually happen. J is pretty distracted now during the day, so it can be hard to get a full feeding in him every few hours (which is probably part of the reason he's waking up so much at night...but I don't want to talk about sleep in this post. It will make me weep for the days when I used to sleep in til noon on the weekends).

Jack was also diagnosed with reflux, which sort of prompted our starting solids a little early. Those were a rough few weeks, but the combination of solids + Zantac seems to be helping, I guess. 

I'm still staying at home for now, minus coaching volleyball. My season will be done next weekend after our state tournament, and I have mixed feelings about it. It was really nice to have something that was just mine - a guaranteed few hours away from the house and baby things every day. But we've had a pretty disappointing season, and we really haven't played up to our potential at all. The girls I have this year aren't very competitive or driven, and that's hard for me to coach. They don't seem to mind losing to teams we should beat, or not playing our best. That bothers me a lot, so it's been a bit of a rough year.

Some day I plan to update this blog more regularly, even if no one reads anymore and it's just for me. I've been terrible about keeping Jack's baby book updated, so I'd like to record some of his life somewhere.

Bonus, some photos of the boy.

Trying to crawl away while I was in the bathroom.
We call this his Godfather face. Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.
Just hanging out at Target.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Prodigal Blogger

Well, friends. I'm back. Sort of. I can't promise posting here will be very regular or interesting, but I do have plans to do a better job. I've also been barely keeping up with reading all your blogs, but I'm trying! I'm mostly caught up - but I've been a terrible commenter. It's easier to read than comment with a flailing, distracted 4-month old (now almost 5-month old...that's how long it's taken me to write this post) monster attached to your boob.

About that 5-month old monster (since I know that's what you're really here for), he's amazing. He's cute, he's smiley, he has the chubbiest cheeks that just beg to be kissed. He loves his daddy. He sleeps through the night (ha! he did at the initial writing of this post. Now we're back to 2 wake ups. Hello, 4-month sleep regression). He's blown out every brand of diaper we've tried. He sometimes bites my nipple. After a 5:30 a.m. feeding, he'll often pull off, and look up at me with the biggest, happiest smile you've ever seen. And be so wide awake and want to play. I beg him to please just go back to sleep for another hour and then we can play. But he just keeps cooing and laughing and being so freaking adorable that even though I'm more exhausted than I ever thought possible, we play 17 rounds of peek-a-boo, sing "The Wheels on the Bus" (even though I totally just make things up that are on the bus and make weird sound effects cuz I can't remember the real words), play with his toes, try to keep him from licking ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING in sight (his arm, the sheets on the bed, my hair, my phone, etc.), and eventually he'll drift off to sleep next to me for a few more hours. He's a good kid. But he's also sometimes a turd.

J also recently graduated physical therapy! He had torticollis, which was causing plagiocephaly, and Dr. G. prescribed physical therapy at his 2-month appointment. We did the therapy in hopes of avoiding a helmet, and J did amazing! At his 4-month appointment, Dr. G. called his head "beautiful." It really is rounding out much better in the back, and he definitely has more mobility in his neck and can turn both ways now. I guess the torticollis is fairly common, especially with our combo of giant breech baby + short mom. He didn't love the stretches, and I hated doing them at home when he'd give me pouty faces and cry, but Bobby continually reminded me that this wasn't the last time we were going to do what's best for him, even if he hated it.

Jack now rolls back to tummy all. the. time (yeah, diaper changes and bath time have gotten really exciting), but he's now forgotten how to roll tummy to back, which he learned about 2 months ago. We had to stop swaddling, which is what I think destroyed his beautiful sleep, but we're working on it. He sleeps on his tummy now, in his crib, in his own room. We're thinking about starting him on solid food. Who is this big boy and where did my tiny baby go!?

Other things...breastfeeding is still going pretty well. I mean, I do have occasional breakdowns when I'm convinced my milk was drying up. J goes through crazy growth spurts because he will eat constantly and never seem satisfied. And then when I would pump, my output seems pretty low. But a few days of guzzling water, Gatorade, Mother's Milk tea, and oatmeal - plus nursing/pumping every hour for a day gets me back on track. It's hard, though. Harder than I ever thought. But I have to say I'm proud of myself for making it almost 5 months. We had a rough start - J losing 12% of his birthweight in the hospital, supplementing with formula in the hospital, pumping in the hospital, syringe feeding, SNS feeding, tongue tie, lip tie, bad latch, nipple shield, lazy eater, sore nipples, clogged ducts - we had it all. But I just kept telling myself I wasn't going to quit on my worst day. And then it started to get easier. And when my nipples couldn't take it anymore, I'd switch to exclusively pumping for a few days, then go back to nursing when they were healed. I wanted to make it a week. Then a month, then 6 weeks, then 3 months. Right now the goal is 6 months (with the ultimate goal of one year). We'll see how it goes. I won't quit on my worst day.

I'm also 3 weeks into to my volleyball season. I'm amazingly less tired this year (dare I say that having a baby is less exhausting than working full time plus being pregnant? it sure feels like it), and much less nauseous. And no longer terrified a stray ball is going to hit me in the stomach. But it's also more complicated, since I'm constantly worried about finding a babysitter, having enough milk pumped, wondering what the heck I'm going to do with a baby when we have a full weekend tournament in another state. So yeah, some things are much easier than last year, and somethings are much harder.

We recently returned from our Duluth vacation. We celebrated our 5-year anniversary in the same city where we honeymooned. The same city (and same hotel) where a year ago we conceived Jack. It was cathartic, I think, returning to a city we love so much with a child we longed for for so many years. Healing, you could call it.

I'll never forget those rough years of infertility, but looking at this kid every day makes it all worth it.

Relaxing on vacation in Duluth

Ready for the first Vikings preseason game

Chilling in his pool

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2 Week Wait

Today was supposed to be my 40 week appointment. Instead it was changed to my 2 week incision check and J's 2 week well baby check up. It's crazy, since I was pretty sure I'd still be pregnant at 40 weeks, 1 day. Bobby's work had a pool guessing gender, weight, height, and birthdate. I laughed at anyone who had me going early. I told Bobby to guess April 24. Even that seemed ambitious. J was born April 8. I cannot believe I have had a baby for 2 weeks - or really that I have a baby at all. This was the fastest 2 week wait ever!
I'm working on a post about post partum necessities and things I've learned (and wished someone would have told me before), but it takes awhile to get things typed up since I'm now blogging almost exclusively from my phone during overnight feedings. Not the easiest way to get things written.
My incision is apparently healing amazingly well according to the PA I saw. I finally got up the courage to look at it when I got home and it does look pretty good. Just like a purple line drawn with a pencil. The stretch marks and little pooch above it are another story. However I'm only 7 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, so I'm not too upset. Except my official pre-pregnancy weight was about 10-20 pounds higher than my ideal weight, so I still have quite a bit of work to do.
My appointment was at 3, and Baby J's was as at 3:30, so the plan was for Bobby to get J's insurance info and registration figured out during my appointment, and I would be done in plenty of time to see Dr G with them. Except they got called back early, so by the time I was done, a nurse had to go find them and bring me to their room. She warned me that "He's had an eventful day."
I didn't know what that meant, but I walked in to see a frazzled looking Bobby holding a diapered J with a burp cloth over his belly, the contents of our diaper bag scattered on the floor.
Before I go on, I have to explain that J is such a good baby. He rarely cries or fusses, even when he's being passed around. And he's never spit up before.
However, apparently he'd vomited for the first time just seconds before he got called back for his appointment. And then again while Bobby was cleaning him up. As Bobby was undressing him, J's umbilical cord stump fell off and bled. Then he projectile pooped while being weighed (naked, of course). As Bobby and the nurse cleaned him up, he then peed all over both of them and his clothes. And vomited once more on Bobby, just for good measure.
I missed all of this while I was at my incision check. Poor Bobby felt like he was in a Hugh Grant movie, except he was much less charmingly befuddled.
J has had some issues already - he had to have a tongue tie clipped at 6 days, as he had lost 12% of his birth rate early on. It didn't help that my milk didn't come in for a full five days either. He also failed the hearing test in his right ear several times, so we have and audiologist appointment next month. Today Dr G also found an issue with his circumcision, so had to fix that (so painful looking, poor baby screamed so much!), and he has a bit of skin irritation around his neck that we have to have rechecked later this week.
Sometimes it feels like we can't catch a break, but I know that all in all we're really lucky. There are so many babies sicker and with much bigger problems than ours. We are so grateful for our little boy and how healthy and happy he is.
At least when he's not painting the doctor's office with his body fluids.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Baby Story

The story of Jack's birth starts with my 38 week appointment on Tuesday. When Dr G felt around my belly for his position, he noted that baby was really low in my pelvis - which was a good improvement from the week before. But then he frowned. Once again, my "good amount of ab definition" was having him second guess whether baby was really head down. This is still hilarious to me, because even not pregnant, I have roughly the ab definition of the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

However we moved on to the cervical check. Dr. G stuck pretty much his entire fist up to his elbow inside me and felt around. He couldn't get a good feeling on the skull line, but he wasn't sure he was feeling a butt either. So he sent me for an ultrasound.

The ultrasound quickly confirmed what I dreaded. Baby was breech.

We then met with the head of the OB department,  Dr R, to go over our options: basically attempt an ECV, schedule a c-section for 39.5 weeks, or wait to go into labor on my own and then get a c-section.

Well, none of these options were really what I was planning on my baby's birth to look like. I was pretty disappointed and totally unsure of what to do. I almost wrote a blog post about everything to get your thoughts, but I was still too shocked and unsure to put anything into words.

The ECV had risks and I knew it was painful. Plus I was positive it wouldn't work. Call it mother's intuition or my general pessimism around this pregnancy, but for whatever reason,  I was fairly confident baby was not going to move.

I had some qualms about scheduling a c-section. What if my dates were off and it made baby too early? What if it interfered with the hormones for bonding and breastfeeding? Babies are supposed to come when they're ready. As uncomfortable and sick of being pregnant as I was, I felt bad about forcing baby out - especially before its due date.

But waiting to go into labor had its own risks. Dr. G and Dr. R stressed I shouldn't let myself get too dilated or have too many contractions. They didn't want baby any lower in my pelvis. I was already dilated to 2 at my appointment and thinning out. But they both reminded me it could still be weeks until baby was ready.

We finally made it home Tuesday night with all this new information and big life-changing decisions to make. So naturally Bobby went to Fast and Furious 7 with some friends and I took a bubble bath and went to bed. Except the cervical check from hell was plaguing me with bad bleeding, tons of mucous discharge, and what felt like menstrual cramps.

In fact, I was up most of the night trying to clean up blood and mucous and wondering if this was what losing my mucous plug meant, or if Dr G had just really irritated things. The cramps weren't too painful, and I did wonder briefly if they were contractions, but it was pretty constant - not timeable - so I tried to ignore them and sleep. Plus, when I pooped the next morning, they seemed to subside. Glad I didn't spend all night trying to time my poop!

Bobby left for work Wednesday morning and I tried to sleep for a few hours. Eventually I got up, but I was feeling super lazy. I had to make some phone calls about our breast pump insurance coverage, my summer volleyball team sponsorship, and eventually I texted Dr G and asked him to call me so we could discuss my options. He texted back that he'd call soon, but he didn't get back to me til afternoon.

We went over the options again - ECV, scheduled c-section, or c-section after going into labor. Then I briefly brought up the mucous, bleeding, and cramping. He didn't like the cramping, so he suggested I call and go to labor and delivery just to get checked out. It was likely nothing, but he didn't want my cervix to change too much, since I was dilated some already. I told him I had a few things to do, but I'd go get checked out around 4 when Bobby got home.

I called L&D and they had already heard from Dr G and were expecting me. I told them I wasn't really having contractions, and I felt fine but I'd be there in a few hours. They seemed reluctant to let me wait that long, but I really wanted to wait for Bobby.

So I called him around 2, urged him to not panic but let him know we were going in for monitoring that night. I told him to finish up work - and maybe wrap things up for the week, just in case - but I also needed him to go pick up a check from my volleyball sponsor on his way home. No hurry.

I laid down, telling myself to relax and get some sleep if this was the real thing but I didn't think it was. This was way too easy to be labor. I figured we'd be sent home from monitoring, but I threw together a few overnight bags anyway.

Eventually Bobby came home around 4 pm. He kind of putzed around, but I think he was taking his cues from me. I assured him we'd be sent home that night.

Well...we got to the hospital and as I stepped down out of the truck, there was a huge gush. My water broke. Hollywood style. In the parking lot. Now my pants were soaked. And I sort of started to panic. This was really happening - and it was super uncomfortable walking with really wet pants.

Thankfully Bobby took over and got me to just keep walking. We went into the main entrance and basically everyone ignored us. I shuffled to the bathroom to try to contain the leaking, but it was useless. We finally made it up to labor and delivery where they buzzed us in.

Dr. R was on call, so he was sitting at the desk. They were talking about me. He told us he wasn't supposed to see us so soon. 

 "I think my water broke," I blurted out.

A nurse standing behind me smiled and said, "I think you're right."

They took us into a triage room and I changed into a gown. They began the check in process. I was dilated to 4 cm. This was definitely it. It was about 4:30 and Dr R came in to chat with us. He looked at the clock. "You guys should have a baby by 6:15."

The next hour went so fast and excruciatingly slow. I was having pretty strong contractions, which wouldn't have seemed so bad if I was actually laboring and working up to pushing. But knowing that they were all for nothing kind of sucked.

I met with the anesthesiologist team and a bunch of nurses. Dr. G came too, and I was so thankful. I didn't actually know if he'd be there, since Dr R was doing the c-section, but he was since he's the baby's doctor. He attended the whole thing, and sat with Bobby (who was extremely grateful for the calming presence) and then did all the baby after care.

Finally I was walked down to the OR. They helped me on the table, gave me heated blankets and the anesthesiologist did his thing on my spine. It wasn't too bad, mostly because I was ready to be done with contractions at that point. I laid down, they gave me oxygen and put up a sheet.

Dr G and Bobby came in and sat by my head. The delivery team made small talk, and Dr G told me it was because everything had to be timed, plus they wanted me to feel calm. I was pretty out of it - between the rush in, the drugs, and the oxygen. They all made guesses about the gender. Only Bobby and one other nurse said boy.

The c-section itself felt weird. I could feel my belly being manipulated and my organs moved around, but no sharp pain. Though it was pretty uncomfortable. And it took longer than I expected. I just wanted baby out!

Finally, I heard Dr. R say he could see baby's head. More tugging, and then he announced, "Dad and nurse Tara were right. We have a boy."

They held him briefly by my face, and then Dr. G took him to a little station to assess him. He was really purple, but crying. They assured me it was a good cry. They worked on him at the station, and it was close to my head so I could see everything and Bobby was right there too. I thought they'd take him away and I'd be alone, since everything happened so fast, we didn't have anyone else at the hospital. Thankfully they were just a few feet away while the team finished sewing me up. It took awhile to finish my surgery part, but they wrapped baby up and Bobby held him while sitting on the stool by my head. Jack was so chill and good. And of course Bobby is a baby whisperer, so he did great. I could see them both and I was so happy.

The big shock was when they weighed Jack. Dr G had been telling me he was pretty sure baby would be around 6 pounds at birth, due to my height/weight and my belly consistently measuring small. So it was surprising to everyone in the room when he weighed in 8 pounds, 5 ounces. 2 weeks early! Dr. G later told me that I likely would have ended up with a c-section even if he wasn't breech, since he didn't think a baby that big would have fit through my pelvis. And that would have been after many hours of hard labor. So I am thankful things worked out the way they did.

We had three nights in the hospital - it was a whirlwind trying to call our parents and families that night after the mandatory recovery time. It was about 10 pm then, and no one knew we were even at the hospital. It just happened too fast.

We're home now and mostly doing well. Jack is such a calm kid, even when we've had big groups visit and pass him around. He does have his days and nights mixed up, so he's really chill all day and then won't go to sleep at night unless he's being held.

Breastfeeding has been an adventure. It's tough - my nipple are raw and I had to use a nipple shield and start pumping in the hospital. We had to supplement with a bit of formula too, since I don't think I was producing anything for a few days and Jack dropped close to a pound pretty quickly. Hopefully my milk will come in soon.

Healing from the c-section has been hard. The incision looks great (according to all doctors/nurses/Bobby/my mom - I can't actually see it, and I'm a little scared to look), and Dr. R even said I'd be a good candidate for a VBAC in the future if I wanted. It's painful to get around, and my back is sore from compensating for not using my abs, but I'm getting there.

Oh and sleep is a million times more comfortable now than being 9 months pregnant - so those of you who are still getting there, it does get better!

And it's totally worth it.