Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baby's First Straightjacket?

I saw an ad on baby center that asked "Has your baby ever peed all over his clothes?", and caught the words diaper & wrap, so I figured I'd click on over and see what I thought would be a diaper cover type thing.
Instead, I saw this:
It's called the Baby Bubadoo, and is described as a 'changing wrap". Evidently, the idea is to wrap up baby's arms and hands to keep him or her from moving and touching during a diaper change, and to provide a waterproof cover for baby's clothing during the change.
Sounds like a good idea, but I can't get over the fact that it looks like a straight jacket, and my son would probably scream and cry if I put this on him, being that he hates diaper changes already (but hates being wet even more - the fussing or crying starts as soon as he pees and doesn't stop until the new, clean, diaper is on). It also doesn't address my main diaper problem - not his hands, but the way he keeps kicking his feet and manages to rub poop on his ankles if I'm not really careful when he has a messy diaper.

Has anyone actually seen one of these wraps? Does it look as "off" in reality as it does in the pic? Would you consider using it on your child?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Robbie's Birth Story (LONG, with pics)

After having no Braxton-Hicks contractions or “false labor” the entire pregnancy, I wasn’t really sure what to expect labor to feel like. On March 23, I was nervous because I was 10 days past my “due date” and had a midwife appointment the next day. My mom was staying with us and getting worried about me being “past due”, and the last ultrasound had predicted a 10 pound 12 ounce baby, so I was feeling like I needed to hurry up and go into labor or there was going to be even more pressure on me to ask for an induction at the appointment or early the next week, just to hurry up and have the baby. I didn’t want to take any herbs, castor oil, etc, and really didn’t want to use medications for induction either, but I sort of relented and figured I’d try fooling around some with my husband, because I heard it could induce labor, and the natural prostaglandins would help soften my cervix as well. Apparently, it worked, but now I wonder if we didn’t try to rush things too much.

Afterwards, I couldn’t sleep because my lower back was hurting like crazy and I was nauseous and having cramps below my belly button. I ended up Googling early labor signs and started timing the contractions around 3 or 4am, when I was sure they really were contractions, as well as breaking out the Blackberry and “tweeting” a few updates on what was happening. When my husband’s alarm went off around 4am, I told him he might as well call out of work, because I was in labor and we were going to have a baby today instead. I was planning on waiting until my midwife’s office opened and going there first to see if I was in labor, but the contractions were pretty steady and 3-4 minutes apart, so Billy (my husband) woke up my mom while I took a shower, and we started loading up the car to go to the hospital. Over an hour passed and they were still coming about 3 minutes apart, so we figured we’d better go ahead to the hospital (everything I’d read or been told said to do so when contractions were 5 minutes apart for over an hour, and my mom and sister both had quick labors, so we were worried about waiting too late). I was a little confused because the pain wasn’t really bad, but the timing was so close I agreed it was better to be safe, and we left for the hospital a little after 6am.

I was still feeling pretty normal when I got to the hospital, and declined a wheelchair so I could walk to my own room. They checked me and I was only dilated 1cm and 70% effaced but, because I was having regular contractions they decided to monitor me to see what was going on and decide whether to admit me or send me back home. The monitor showed regular contractions about 3½ minutes apart, so they said I should stay a while and see what happened. Part of me wishes I had went home or went out and walked, but I stayed in the hospital instead, because I worried my mom would think I was sort of nuts for wanting to leave the hospital while in labor and go hit the track instead (my original plan had been to labor at home as long as possible, walk as much as I could, and try to wait until I was at least 6-7cm before going to the hospital, but I had no real way of judging that other than relying on timing the contractions). Around 7:50am, they told me to plan on staying, so I had my husband call my doula and tell her I was in labor. He also called the film crew (we were in one of the Discovery Health shows) to let them know to be ready, which turned out the be a pain in the butt because they kept calling back all day wanting to know how far along I was, when he was going to be born, etc, so they could make it there in time but not show up too early – if that was predictable, it would’ve saved everyone involved a lot of waiting and decision making.

I was trying to walk around and move as much as possible, to dilate more, and to get the contractions to pick up – they were still pretty regular, but not very strong feeling (then again, I have a high pain tolerance, and was afraid at first I might me underestimating them, because they were close together and looked strong on the monitor). A little past 10am, my midwife showed up and checked me. I was dilated to 3cm, 75% effaced, and the contractions were coming about 2-4 minutes apart, so they decided to officially admit me to the hospital. My doula had just arrived, and I was snacking on cheese, fruit, crackers, and Propel water to give me some energy, and using the hourly “breaks” when I was stuck in bed on the fetal monitor to update my status on Twitter.

I continued trying to walk the halls as much as I could, change positions, and sit/bounce on my birthing ball, but it seemed like every time I really got into a good rhythm or pattern my “hour” was up and I had to get back in bed for the fetal monitor. After 2pm, I was still only at 3cm. Baby & I were doing well, but I was getting impatient with my lack of progress, and feeling like all the laying in bed was slowing things down and I needed to be moving more. I kept thinking I would love to be able to go for a walk at one of the nearby parks – it was the first nice Spring day, 74 degrees outside, and sunny with a slight breeze. One of the nurses was really getting on my nerves, because she kept “forgetting” about me, and trying to keep me on the monitor 30-45 minutes out of the hour, then kept mentioning how I was headed for a c-section if I didn’t progress more, which was the last thing I wanted to hear at that time (she also got pretty bossy about some other things, which led to my midwife taking her aside and talking to her – things got better after that, whatever was said). I remember being so ticked off at one point that I told my doula if I heard the word c-section one more time I was going to go home and have the baby in my living room – at the time, I was half serious.

By 5pm the contractions were getting more intense, around 3 minutes apart, and I figured I had to be dilating more, so my husband started blowing up the birth pool and filling it with warm water. Around 6pm, my midwife came back in to check me and talk with me some. I was 80% effaced, but still only dilated 3cm and -2 station. My midwife said that we could break my water to see if the additional pressure from the baby without the cushion of fluid would allow me to dilate more, but that it would make the contractions more painful. There was also a good chance that there would be meconium in the fluid, since I had gone past 41 weeks, and that would mean I would have to stay hooked up to the monitors. It would also mean we were looking at a possible c-section if labor didn’t pick back up and start progressing within a few hours after my water was broken. We decided the best thing to do would be wait until the next day, so I could rest and see if things would pick up on their own. If I was looking at the chance of a surgical delivery, it made more since not to risk having it in the middle of the night when everyone would be tired and probably not at their best, and I was wanting to hold off as long as possible to avoid that outcome anyway. The best thing is that she changed the orders so I only had to be on the monitor 15 minutes every 4 hours, and told the nurse not to wake me in the night to check me, so I could get some rest, and have time out of bed to try to get the contractions going more.

After the midwife left, my doula massaged my ankles, feet, and hands. It felt great and helped me to relax some, and she was also stimulating some acupressure points to make the contractions get stronger and closer together. Around 7pm, I decided to get in the birthing pool for a while, to help me relax. The water felt great, but I worried about relaxing too much and stopping any progress I was making, so I got out of the tub around 8 and went walking some more in the halls. The contractions would get stronger for a while then fade back out. For a while, my mom and doula both left, and my husband and I tried some nipple stimulation and time together just cuddling to try to relax me and get the contractions to pick back up. It worked some, but I was getting tense because I felt like people were giving up on me and assuming I was heading for a c-section, and it was making me tense because I was aggravated with them and starting to lose faith in myself and my body.

Around 9pm, the Discovery camera crew showed up to film part of my labor for the documentary. I was back in the birth pool at this point, so I just did the interview from their (in a swimsuit top and lycra skirt, so I was covered up). I don’t really remember much of the interview, just that I was glad it was done because Billy was getting ill that they kept calling, and it made me feel like he was mad at me because I was the one who’d agreed to the whole television thing.

Around 10:30, my midwife came and checked me again, and I was still at 3cm with no real progress. She recommended trying to rest and starting over again tomorrow. I think she know how frustrated I was getting, and she even offered to stay the night at the hospital, but I thought it was best for everyone to get what sleep they could in case tomorrow was another long day. At midnight, my husband took my mom back to our house so she could sleep, then came back to the hospital because I wanted him there with me overnight. My doula stayed with me until he got back because I was still having contractions every 3 minutes, just strong enough to keep me awake. When Billy got back, we decided it was best for her to go home and get some rest as well, and we’d see everyone in the morning and hope for some progress.
I didn’t get much sleep, but I tried to relax and put myself in a more positive frame of mind. About the time I was dosing off, around 3:30am, the nurse came in to put me on the monitor – I remembered my midwife saying not to wake me up, but she’d already woken me, so I figured it was easier to let them do it than to try to argue and end up waking my husband as well (he was sleeping like a baby the whole time). My midwife came in at 7:30 and checked me again. No change, but she said that not unusual since I had been relaxing in bed all night. She said she’d be back around noon to check me again. My doula had arrived a little beforehand, and she walked with me out in the hallway some more while my husband warmed up the birth pool again. I had planned not to get in the pool until I was past 5cm originally, but at this point labor wasn’t really going to slow down much more, and the warm water was helping me relax, which I needed badly. I was having regular contractions again from the walking, but was getting so tense and sore in my lower back – I wonder if all the tension wasn’t keeping my body from relaxing enough to open up. One crazy thing that started the night before and continued all day – I kept having to pee like crazy, but never felt like my bladder was emptying – it’s like everything in my body was just claming down and refusing to let go. My doula reminded me to keep drinking water to stay hydrated, and I ate a little more fruit, cheese, and crackers for energy, because I figured I’d be put on NOP (no food/drink) soon if I hadn’t made any progress. My husband talked to me some about the baby, name choices, etc, to try to distract me, but I felt like everyone had pretty much given up on any hope of a natural birth, and it was wearing me down and keeping me from getting into my “zone”.

My midwife came around 12:15pm, and I was still only at 3cm. I was 100% effaced and baby was still at -1 station, so she asked if she could break my waters as a last attempt to get things moving (we had agreed no pitocin, cytotec, etc ahead of time – I did not want any of these medications because of risks, and she did not like using pit for large babies or “failure to progress” because she said usually there was a reason if they were taking a while to come, and the meds just ended up causing distress and more problems in those cases). Because there was meconium in the fluid, I had to be kept on the monitor until the birth. I knew that if I hadn’t made any more progress or dilated further within 2 hours, then she’d call the doctor and plan for a c-section that afternoon. My husband and doula began emptying the birth pool and putting it away to make more space in the room, and I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to have my baby in the water, but hopeful that my labor would pick up and I’d still be able to have him vaginally, because the contractions certainly hurt much worse while stuck in bed (I had no pain medications during labor, didn’t really need/want them even at this point, but it was lot more uncomfortable not having the water or as much movement to help deal with things).

At 2:15pm, my midwife checked me again, and there was still no change. She told me she was so sorry that things weren’t working, but we’d tried everything we could, and I would probably have to have the baby by cesarean. She asked me if this was OK, and I agreed to it, because I didn’t see any change happening either, especially now that I was stuck in bed, and didn’t want to wait too long and risk having problems. She told me she would check one more time just before the surgery, but that we would go through with it if there was no change then. I cried for a while after she left the room, because I didn’t know what else to do. I’d tried so hard to plan and do everything to have the best birth I could, and things were just not turning out that way. Everyone was supportive and tried to comfort me, but I don’t think anyone really knew how much it would’ve meant to me to be able to have the kind of birth I had planned, because I really wanted the first few moments of my baby’s life to be calm, peaceful, and bonding with me, not sudden, sterile, and surrounded by strangers. My midwife told me the surgery was scheduled for 5:30pm, and they’d come get me around 5 to put in the spinal for anesthesia. Waiting until then was the hardest part of the whole labor – I was still having contractions, and now they really hurt since I was laying on the bed and just physically and emotionally drained, plus it seemed so pointless to me to be having these contractions now without an epidural or pain medication since I was having a c-section anyway.

While I spoke with the anesthesiologist and signed the consent forms, my husband dressed in scrubs so he could go to the OR with me, and my doula explained to him what was going to happen, and tried to prepare him as best she could. They stayed outside the doors while I got the spinal, then my husband came in to be with me, and my doula went and got my mom so she could wait with her to see the baby.

The surgery itself wasn’t as bad as I’d expected, but it was still pretty freaky just knowing what they were doing and not feeling or seeing anything. My midwife had asked my husband if she should come, and he told her I’d feel better with her there, which I did, and my pediatrician had just gotten off call, so she also came to the ER, so she was able to check my son immediately after birth. They kept me informed about what was happening, sent in a nurse with a digital camera to take photos for us, and followed as much of my birth plan as they could, which I really appreciate, and the doctor and anesthesiologist were both talking to me to help keep me calm. Two things I appreciate, that I didn’t realize are not the norm, is that they did not restrain my arms – just told me to keep them flat and behind the drape, and they did not do a regular catheter, just an “in and out” under anesthesia to drain my bladder because I told them I’d been having trouble peeing all day. I knew when they got my baby out, because I heard one of the nurses say “Oh, my God”, and the doctor quickly assured me that he was OK and looked healthy, and I heard him come out screaming (so loud they said you could hear it at the end of the hall, past 2 sets of doors, where my mom & doula were waiting).  I remember asking If he was OK, and then saying “It’s not twins, is it?” when I heard that – it turns out the cord was around his neck twice, and his head was turned partially facing my hip, which was keeping him wedged up high and not giving him enough slack in the cord to descend, which is why I didn’t dilate more – his head wasn’t pressing on my cervix enough for it to open and, if it had, there could’ve been complications that would’ve made the birth much more risky. It took what seemed like forever, but was probably a few minutes, for them to check his first Apgar score, then they brought him over for me to see and touch him before taking him to the nursery. My husband and mom went to the nursery with the baby, and my doula stayed to wait for me and accompany me back to the room (they have the surgery suites on the L&D floor, so I was able to recover in my room, which also meant they could get the baby to me much sooner). I asked my doctor about a possible VBAC while he was sewing me up, and he said that he thought I’d be a good candidate for one, and would talk to me at my next midwife appointment about the possibility (he’s very open to them, just wants me to wait at least 18 months between births to give everything plenty of time to heal, but said that he’d be fine with it even with another baby post-dates or expected to be big). He did use the double layer sutures on my uterus, which are supposed to be stronger and safer for births after cesarean.

While I was being cleaned up and changing clothes after the surgery, they filled me in on the details – Robbie was born at 5:43pm, weighed 10 lbs. 3oz., and was 22 inches long. His Apgars were 8 & 9, which are very good (and explain the loud crying at birth - good, strong lungs).

My pediatrician came in and double checked with me about what procedures we did and did not want done in the nursery, so I am very glad she stayed. I had already discussed with her, and had in my birth plan, that we were not circumcising him or getting the Hepatitis B vaccination at birth, and that we were also declining the Vitamin K shot to give oral drops instead and wanting to delay the Erythromycin (eye drops) until after he’d breastfed (I didn’t want them at all, but was under the impression that they’re required by law because of one of NC’s administrative health codes). The nursery nurse had an issue with this and, when Billy told her we were declining all of the above and he wanted the baby to see more before getting the eye drops, threatened to call social services over it. The pediatrician told me I could decline it all and, if an issue was made of it, she’d speak up on our behalf, so she went back and told the nurse we were waiving everything but the PKU (heel stick) and blood sugar check (because of his size), and that he was to be brought to my room immediately. I am so glad she was there to help stick up for us, and that my husband never let the baby out of his sight.

By 7pm, Robbie was brought in to the room with me, along with my husband, my mom, and my doula (yes, I’m vain, but I didn’t want anyone in there until I had been cleaned up some and changed gowns). Robbie breastfed immediately and the nurses said his latch was great. From that point on, he did not leave my bed or the bassinet right beside of it – there was no way I was going to send him to the nursery without me, so all tests, including the hearing test, were done right there in the room. They were going to bring in a warmer at first because he was a little cold, but I got the nurse to bring us a bunch of warm blankets for the bed, and managed to keep is temperature up with him laying on my chest under the blankets instead. It was so great finally getting to hold him and bond with him.

I was kept in the hospital the next day for recovery from the birth and surgery, and was up walking around by that morning (no catheter, so after using a bedpan once because I couldn’t get up, I made my mind up to walk to the bathroom a couple hours later). Most of that day was spent bonding with my baby and nursing him every couple hours, trying to get some rest in between. The doctor came by to check on me, the pediatrician checked the bay, and my midwife came by (on her day off) to see how we were both doing. The next morning, I was walking around and sitting up a fair amount, baby and I were both doing well, so we were released to go home. My mom stayed for a few more days, and my husband had 2 days before he had to go back to work, then I was pretty much on my own during the day time. It was overwhelming at first, because it took a lot of time and energy trying to take care of a baby and recover from surgery, but in a way I was glad to have some alone time with the baby and a chance to get some rest.

The Pregnancy Backstory & Doctor Drama

Robbie is a month old today, and I’m just not getting around to writing his birth story. The first couple weeks after he was born, I was still processing a lot of feelings from the birth, and wasn’t emotionally able to write it, and I’ve just been busy in the past two trying to get used to taking care of him and balancing it out with everything else. I am so happy to finally have my baby boy with me, but the birth and pregnancy were both long and not at all what I had expected. Robbie’s birth story will be my next post, but I feel like I should also tell some of the things leading up to it, just so people know what the whole experience was before we ever even got to the hospital.

I had tried to get pregnant for over 8 years, been told I “probably” had PCOS (and do seem to fit the profile and symptom patterns I’ve read for it), then that I was infertile, so the pregnancy was a surprise. When I found out I was pregnant, I was happy, but was recovering from a car accident and had been out of work for 3 months on disability, while my husband had been unemployed going on 7 months. He ended up getting a job soon after, which was good, because I suffered from hyperemesis and blackouts (thought they were seizures, but all tests for those were clear), which ended up costing me my job around 7 months into the pregnancy. We were both very happy, but worried about finances, especially with the loss of my job and later realization that most other jobs I would be qualified for around here pay about 50-60% of what I was making, before deducting the cost of childcare. This explains some about the amount of stress we were both under during the pregnancy, and a major reason things were really tense between the hubby and I – during my pregnancy, I realized that a lot of the ways he talked and behaved toward me fit the definition of emotional abuse, so I spent a lot of time considering both divorce and counseling, neither of which we can afford, and even more time sitting at home alone and crying.

Since I hadn’t planned on having children, and hadn’t been able to afford preventative healthcare for several years, I did not have an OB I was seeing when I got pregnant. I started out at one office, because they had a big midwife program, but was immediately “risked out” and told I’d have to see the OBs, because I was overweight and have a past history of leukemia. They also told me they did not do waterbirths, and that the closest hospital that allowed it was in Asheville, an hour and a half away. I later found out that all of the local hospitals allow them, and a few have tubs right in the labor/delivery rooms. My husband did not like them from the start and after 2 visits where we were pretty much brushed off and ignored for asking questions, I ended up being taken to the hospital for the first blackout/seizure episode at work. The ER doctor there referred me to the OB office and, even after that, I did not see a doctor, just a CAN who took my blood pressure and checked my sugar, and scheduled my for a 3 hour glucose test because I was “probably going to have gestational diabetes” due to my weight. The GD test was negative, but I passed out again a few weeks later, and my husband took me to our local hospital, where the doctor recommended another OB and made me an appointment with them, after my husband told him how our current practice was handling it. After I told them I switched doctors, the first practice called my parents twice trying to reach me, instead of calling me, which had my dad worried to death because he thought I was sick. I still don’t know what the point of that was.

The second OB practice seemed better. I had gone there for GYN work when I first moved to Morganton, so I was a little familiar with them, but concerned that they never did manage to locate my records from when I’d been a patient the first time (aggravating because they had copies of my charts all the way back to age 16, from 3 other doctors in 2 other cities, including much of the lab results from early PCOS/hormone testing I’d love to see now, in relation to some of the breastfeeding issues I’ve been having). The first doctor we saw was great – very understanding, listened to our concerns supportive of natural birth and waterbirth, and took his time. The second doctor was OK, but I didn’t like him as much as the first; of course, he ended up doing most of my prenatal visits. He said things were OK, but kept putting me off when I asked about bringing a copy of my birth plan to discuss, and always seemed to be in a hurry. When I started asking about specific things later in the pregnancy, he dismissed many of them as “against hospital policy”, even when he’d said he was OK with them early on. This made me nervous, but it was meeting the third doctor in the team that made me leave that practice for good – I had never met him before, yet two of the first things he said to me were comments on my weight and history of cancer, and why I “thought” I could have a natural birth. With no medical reason other than his own prejudice, he gave me his opinion that I should just schedule and early c-section, and told me that if he was on call when I had birth I’d be in the bed on my back once he got there because he “wasn’t going to get on the floor to deliver a baby”. He also informed me (not asked) that he’d be starting vaginal exams and my next visit and would sweep my membranes, then recommended scheduling a cesarean section at 38 weeks, telling me I’d be “required” to have one at 40 weeks if not, because he didn’t “let” women go past their due dates. I was too shocked by the whole appointment to say much, but I freaked out when I got home, told my husband about it, and he was pissed. That night, I started looking up information on local midwives (Office #2 used to have midwives, but I never met the one who was still there, and the other 3 were no longer with them. Besides, the one CNM left was in rotation with the on-call doctors, so there was no guarantee she’d attend my birth even if I chose her as my provider).

Looking online, I found only a few practices in my area with midwives (CNMs), but one came very highly recommended for water births in particular, and the OB she worked with also had a lot of recommendations and positive comments from local women – both seemed to be very supportive of natural birth and to follow the woman’s wishes for her care. They did not have privileges at the local hospital, but worked at one about the same distance away, so I figured I’d tour that hospital first to see if I’d be comfortable giving birth there. The hospital was older and not as fancy, but I had been there for surgery once and the care I received was very good. The labor & delivery tour also made me think it was better suited to my plans for birth – they had tubs in the rooms for labor, but said it was OK to bring my inflatable pool if I preferred, and seemed much more laid back and open to letting labor and birth happen on their own, where the previous hospital had a more crisis-oriented approach to birth (like they were expecting problems & complications), and the focus of their tour was on their NICU and cesarean facilities, rather than on the experience and standard of care the mother could expect for herself and her child. Finding that I was OK with the hospital, I was very optimistic going to meet and interview the midwife.

When I did interview the midwife, I knew within a few minutes that I would probably be transferring my care to her. One of the things I loved is that she took her time instead of seeming rushed, and asked question that showed she cared about me as a person and the whole experience of my birth, rather than just the medical side of things. I really appreciated that we started out just talking in the office, to see if our expectations and experiences would be compatible, and if we would be on the same page regarding the birth (if the previous doctors had done this, it would’ve saved a lot of wasted time and stress, because it would’ve been clear things weren’t going to work out). She asked if I had a copy of my birth plan when I mentioned that my other doctor has said it was unrealistic, and we talked about why I wanted certain things done, but she said it all looked fine to her and that the hospital would be OK with all of it as well. She encouraged me to meet her backup OB as well, just in case, and told me he was also very laid back and hands-off toward natural birth, which made me feel better. She also told me any procedures were up to me, and that we could skip the cervical checks during pregnancy and labor, unless I just wanted to know. Overall, my instincts just told me this was the right choice, and I really liked the feeling I got from her and from the whole office staff, like birth was something natural that we were working together in, not some big scary thing that was happening to me where I was supposed to give up control and decision making to someone in authority. When the birth ended up not going the way I had hoped for, this became really important to me, and I think it made all the difference in how I view to overall experience.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I just read this poem for the first time, and thought I'd share it with my readers:

-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --
Not "Found in Old St. Paul's Church"! -- see below

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

The poem itself has an interesting history. For more info, click here or see wikipedia for a shorter version.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Observations on (New) Parenthood

I realized last night why magazines are so popular with mothers of young children and, I suppose, with women in general - short articles and sidebars can be all you have time to read, especially while trying to manage a household and take care of a child (yeah, I still don't know how women with several children do it, and I'm a little worried about myself once Robbie learns to walk). I've always been a pretty voracious reader, and will often finish an entire book in one sitting, and most novels within a few days. Now, it's taken me over a week to get through one magazine, mostly read in bits and pieces in the bathroom while the baby was napping. The novel I'd started on and took to the hospital with me when he was born is still sitting, unfinished, on the table beside my chair - I think I've read one chapter in the last month, and wonder if I'll ever be get around to reading it, or starting on any of the new books I bought in the last couple months.

That's just a small thing, but it's still surprising me how much having a baby is changing even small little things in my life and daily routine. I bought a few trendy purses right before I got pregnant, on a last minute shopping fling with my mom, but I find it's much easier to carry a diaper bag and throw my wallet, keys, & cell phone in there with the baby's stuff than to carry a purse as well. I also never realized how different it was going to be even going to a restaurant - he's too small for a regular high chair, so eating out involves bringing not only the baby and diaper bag, but also an infant seat (reclines, so he doesn't have to hold his head up) that has to be strapped to the chair, and usually calls for a feeding and diaper change at some point in the evening (on a good night, he eats while we wait for the food, and doesn't need changing until right before we leave). I've also learned to bring 2 changes of clothes for him, and at least one for me, everywhere we go.

There are other things that I never imagined either, one being how in love I am with my little man, and how much time I can spend just looking at him and thinking how cute & precious he is. Another is how much my life would change - even simple decisions like going back to finish my education or working, even part-time, are being weighed against how it would effect his life and my time with him - it turns out a lot of the decisions I thought were pretty simple no longer are, because right now I could not imagine leaving him in someone else's care. In taking care of him, I am taking better care of myself too, because I'm wanting to model healthy habits for him, and be able to play and be more active so I can share things he might enjoy as he grows up.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Post-Baby Fitness Plan - Train for a Triathlon (Hey, Why Not?)

First of all, I want to update anyone reading past posts on the baby & I. He went to the pediatrician for another weight check yesterday and is doing well, within 1 ounce of his birth weight. We have one more check next week and, if he's still gaining good, will go back to the regular schedule. I am still breastfeeding him whenever possible, but also having to offer expressed milk & some formula a few times a day when he is still hungry. My supply has definitely increased over the past week though, so hopefully we will be back to exclusivly breastfeeding soon. All-in-all, he's doing well, an inch and a half longer than at birth (almost 2 feet already!), and seems happier and more playful & alert. I am also doing better, much happier and more relaxed overall and less stressed out over the baby and everything else.

Since I am 3 weeks out from the surgery/delivery, I am feeling better and trying to be more active, without overdoing it. My doctor cleared me to walk as much as I felt like, provided I didn't push too hard or go past the point where it started hurting, or I started bleeding worse. A year ago, I was starting out running, and training for a 5k(3 mile race), but I haven't really done much since then, due to a car accident and surgery, then finding out I was pregnant and being told to limit activity right as I was recovering from that. I decided I will run a 5k in October, which gives me plenty of time to heal and train, and then noticed a local sprint triathlon (250 meter swim, 20k bike and a 5k run) in September. Thinking about it, a mix of swimming, biking, & running would be a more balanced fitness program (with some weight training & yoga or pilates thrown in for flexibility), so I decided to start training for the triathlon as soon as I'm cleared to run and do more.

For now, I am just walking until the doctor clears me to do more (and my abs finish healing), following the Conservative Couch to 5k program, and will be adding the runs in slowly starting in the 2nd or 3rd week of May (which gives me 7 or 8 weights of recovery time). I will probably add biking 2-3 times a week at about the same time, because I am getting myself a Cannondale road bike for my birthday on May 2. Swimming, I will start either in May or June, depending on which pool or fitness center I end up joining (one place has annual memberships starting in June, the others run for 12 months from whenever you sign up). This is one expensive sport to get started in, but it will be worth it if I stick with it, so I am trying to get the best gear I can without spending a bunch.

My goal for September is just to finish (in 2 1/2 hours, but only because that's the cut-off time for the race), but I can totally see myself competing, more against my own time and distance limits than against others. My two long-term goals right now are the Ridge to Bridge Marathon in 2011, and then the Beach to Battleship Triathlon in 2012 (and possibly the Hal-Ironman distance B2B in 2011). That puts me back to my original (over a year ago) goal of completing a marathon before I turn 30, and adds the challenge of an Ironman-distance marathon (2.4mi swim, 112mi bike, 26.2mi run) when I am 30. Sounds crazy, but also sounds fun, and doable if I can stay off my butt and in one piece long enough to train for them.

I am aware that this seems a little extreme, but it's something I really want to do, just to prove to myself that I can. I know others might be skeptical - I have spent most of my life avoiding running at any chance (hey, that's why I learned to shoot), and haven't swam or rode a bike since college, but I am giving myself plenty of time to train and prepare - I figure if I survive the training and finish the first one, then I can work on improving my speed and fitness level from there. My doctor thinks I am healthy enough to do this, and the guy at the bike shop didn't laugh when I drug my almost 300lb butt in there and told him I was looking for an entry-level triathlon bike, so at least I have 2 votes of confidence. Now I just have to do it, but posting my goals on here will go a long way toward that; it's sort of like a dare - if you go on the internet and say you're gonna do something, the post floats around in cyberspace forever, so you might as well do it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Having People to Talk With Helps

I still have a lot of concerns, especially as far as breastfeeding goes, but things overall are looking much better. A lot of this is because I finally got some support and took a little bit of a break.

My family is all on the other end of the state, and I don't have many close friends nearby (combo of people moving and me isolating myself either from depression or not wanting to invite people over when the house was so cluttered, and working the opposite schedule from most of the world for so long), so I was trying to do things on my own.

I finally found support and help in places I was overlooking. Not surprisingly, one of these places is online. I've had a lot of help from people I only "know" online, especially considering how many of them only know me from my blog or Twitter account, which have just been around for a few months. Twitter and Facebook have both been lifesavers, as far as a place for "real time" conversations when things have gotten hard to deal with lately. Blogging has helped in a different way, by giving me a release and somewhere to let all of these thoughts and feelings out, without worrying so much about the reactions of my friends and family (I think my mom may have found this blog recently, but most of my family & local friends do not know the URL, if they even know I blog). I also joined the ICAN message boards and, while I haven't posted an introduction yet, just reading other women's stories has helped a lot, because I see I'm not the only one having this sort of reaction to the circumstances surrounding my birth experience.

On a more personal level, I am getting a ton of emotional support and help from my birth team, which I hadn't really been planning on. My midwife and her staff have helped a lot by taking time to talk with me, and to just listen and cry with me at one of the postpartum visits when I was still trying to process everything. It helped a lot to hear that it was normal to feel so emotional, and that they understood why I was feeling a loss over not having a natural birth and sharing those first moments with my son when he was born, because my husband just cannot relate to that at all (like he said, he'll never be able to give birth, so he can't understand why the details are so important). My doula, Debbie, has also been wonderful, staying in touch with my by phone and email to see how I'm doing, and offering to babysit so I can get some needed rest, or to go walk with me so I can get out of the house and in the sunshine and fresh air for a while, and have another woman to talk to who will be understanding.

Saturday afternoon was a big help to me all around. I was a little annoyed because I'd been wanting to spend the weekend just hanging out with my husband and the baby, because I don't feel like we've had much time to bond as a family yet, and my husband and I haven't really talked much about anything important since before Robbie was born. Instead, my father-in-law called and wanted some things done around his house, so my husband spent most of the day down there with him. Debbie had emailed me the night before about getting together, so I called her back and told her it would be a good time, because I was at home alone with the baby anyway. She offered to watch him for a few hours so I could sleep, but I didn't think I'd be able to, so we got the stroller and went to the Greenway and walked instead. It was nice getting out of the house, and getting back into some physical activity, although I think I may have overdone it a little bit. More than anything though, it just helped to be away from home for a while and to have someone to talk to.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Breastfeeding Updates

Not much has really changed since my last post, but I do know a little more about what's going on, and am trying to deal with them as best I can. I still have this real feeling that my body keeps letting me down, and I am not sure how to handle that. I am feeling a little better overall, still fairly emotional but not crying over every little thing and nothing at all so much anymore. I am coming to terms with my birth experience more, and will probably write Robbie's birth story some time in the next week or two, which should help me even more. After asking some more questions of my midwife and the doctor who did the surgery, I do feel that it was necessary and we made the right choice, but I am still mourning my "vision" of a natural, gentle birth, and the loss of being able to see and feel my son come into this world, and to be with him during his first minutes of life outside the womb.

Breastfeeding is not going well. I am still determined to try, I am going to keep breastfeeding as much as I can. Right now, though, it's looking like my supply is really low, and so far herbal & dietary supplements have not been enough to bring it to where it needs to be. I saw my midwife Tuesday for a lactation consult, and baby's latch and everything is good, but we had some concerns about my supply. I told her it seemed like the baby was losing weight again, and she got me in at the pediatrician's office, which confirmed it, so I will be supplementing him for now. I am renting a hospital-grade breast pump, but still not pumping near enough to make up for the difference. We are hoping that the pumping will help bring up my supply, and I am still trying to get in touch with one of the lactation consultants my midwife recommended, to see what else we can do. I am determined to make this succeed, but I am wondering if determination is enough (because it obviously wasn't in birth).

One thing I'm having major trouble with right now is the whole guilt thing, and second-guessing myself. I keep trying to do what's best for my son, and I feel like I keep screwing it up. I feel really badly because I know he was going hungry for several days and losing weight, and it was my fault because he was not getting enough milk to meet his needs (even though I didn't know about the supply thing & he was nursing regularly, I should have known because of the low number of diapers). Now, I feel bad for having to give him formula, because I worry about how safe it may be since there have been so many recalls, and because I worry that by supplementing I am just decreasing my milk supply even further or making him prefer it over breastmilk. It all seemed so easy in the hospital, when he latched right on and seemed satisfied in the first few days, so I had no reason to think I would run into problems.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Baby Blues & Breastfeeding Problems - My First Week As A Mother

At one week postpartum now, I'm still feeling like a combination between the last two photos now. I have been avoiding most online stuff, including blogging, and keeping my phone off, because I'm very emotional and not wanting to "deal with" anything, including contact with other people. I'm very hesitant to even blog about this, but I feel like someone needs to, because everyone is telling me this is normal, but it's not something many people share, and is really catching me off guard. My midwife says it seems more like just the regular "baby blues" to her than postpartum depression yet, but in some ways I feel a lot more out of sorts with this than I did with major depressive disorder in the past.

I have spent so much of the past week crying. Some of it was in labor, not from the pain, but just because I was overwhelmed, felt very unsupported by my husband, and like everyone was just waiting on me to give up or thinking I was being unrealistic for not having went ahead and planned a c-section (I laid there and cried for about half an hour when we decided that's what we were going to have to do but, in a way, getting those feelings out ahead of time made me feel better about it). No, it's just random. I am so worried about doing things "right" and afraid I'm letting my baby down. It literally breaks my heart to hear him cry, and I feel so helpless when I don't know why he's crying and can't do anything to fix it or make him stop, so I usually just end up holding him and crying along with him.

In the hospital, my husband and midwife were adamant about getting him to me as early as possible to breastfeed, and he did great. He latched right on and started nursing and, although he had trouble on one side a few times, there were no issues, and the nurses all said he was doing great. He was also not fussy at all and hardly ever cried. The first day home he did pretty good, but he started crying that evening and was hard to comfort or calm down. My husband and I got into an argument, and I was having trouble relaxing to nurse. I really needed his help, and he was going to leave instead. My sister called in the middle of all this, and her and my mom came over so I wouldn't be alone. They brought stuff for sandwiches and were trying to be helpful, but just ended up telling me how impossible it was for them to breastfeed, how the baby sounded hungry, and I should just give him a bottle of formula. This went on most of the next day (Sunday), too, and just had me worried, upset, doubting myself, and having major troubles nursing.

Sunday night, I decided to block out all the negativity, relax, and take him into the bedroom to feed him, so we had peace and quiet instead of distractions and stress from people, television, etc. He settled down and ate much better there. On Monday morning, I had a visit at the pediatrician's office with a nurse practitioner who is supposed to specialize in breastfeeding issues. Not surprisingly, considering the troubles over the weekend, baby had lost too much weight (down to 8lb12oz from 10lb3). I asked for suggestions or advice on breastfeeding  to increase my milk supply, but he just gave me some formula samples and told me to supplement with a bottle after each feeding. I asked about a tube or sns to avoid nipple confusion, but he sort of blew off my concerns and said weight was his only concern and a bottle would be fine.

I felt so guilty giving him formula, but I didn't know what else to do, and he seemed so satisfied afterward, even though it made me even more worried about my milk. I didn't think to call anyone else, because I figured it would just confirm I couldn't breastfeed him, and I didn't want to hear that from anybody else. The good thing is he was back up to 9lb2oz at the weight check 2 days later, but the whole thing has my so upset and worried and doubting myself every time I feed him or he cries and doesn't stop after a minute or so.

I went to my midwife appointment on Tuesday, and just started crying when she asked how the baby was doing. I told her he was losing weight and I was worried about him, and not really getting any help from the pediatrician's office. She asked why I didn't call her, and told me she was there for any help I needed with the baby, not just the birth. She also said she'd thought about calling to check on me and wished she had, but hadn't wanted to wake me up. We (me, my midwife, her assistant, and a nurse), ended up just standing in the office for a while crying while they consoled me and told me I could breastfeed successfully and was not starving my baby (everyone knew how important a natural birth was to me and how much I wanted to avoid a c-section, and know this is one of the last things I had left that I really wanted for my baby and I). She made me feel a lot better about things, suggested some things to try and ways to slowly wean him off the supplements and back onto the breast exclusively, and set up an appointment with a lactation consultant for me next Tuesday.

Right now, I'm still worried, and trying to go without the formula, but gave him an ounce twice during late night & early morning feedings, just so I could get a little rest. I feel bad about that, because I thought I could get him back off it fast, but it's the only way for me to get any rest, and I don't know how to cope otherwise. I tried to pump some milk, to use that instead of formula, but the pump I have (one of the cheap Evenflo hand pumps) isn't working worth a damn - I can get more milk expressing by hand. I've had a headache since 2am, that even the Percocet is not helping, that I am assuming is from exhaustion. He still isn't having the regular bowel movements I keep hearing about (it's been one a day, none today yet, and  very thin, almost like pee, instead of  "seedy" or "yogurty"), so I'm worried about that as well. I'm hoping to make it until Tuesday, and maybe get some answers and help then.

I don't want people to get the wrong impression from this post. I am so in love with this little baby, and he is worth whatever it takes to get him healthy and raise him best, I am just so overwhelmed right now, and I don't know what to do. I love him so much, it's heartbreaking to thing that he's hurting or not doing well, and not knowing what to do or if there is even a problem, to "fix". A lot of times, it's just pure joy to hold him and watch him sleep or see the expressions he makes as he looks around at the world, but I have spent so much of the time too worried and exhausted to enjoy it all. I know now that a lot of other mothers go through the same type of thing, but I really underestimated it until I found myself in the middle of it. My mom went home early Wednesday morning, and my husband is back to work all day, and not very supportive of me to begin with, so I feel like it's me and baby against the world right now in so many ways.

I Have A Son!

Robert Matthew Butler was born Thursday, March 25 at 5:47pm.
He was 10 lb, 3 oz & 22 inches long, with Apgar's of 8/9.

While I had 41 hours of natural labor, mostly in water, he had to be born by Cesarean section, because I never dilated past 3cm and labor was not progressing any further. We also found out the cord was wrapped around his head twice, which may have had a part in holding him up from moving down any further. Even though the birth did not go "according to plan", most of the nursing staff was great, and my midwife, doula, and the doctor who performed the section were all wonderful about not rushing things or forcing me into interventions or early decisions, so I was allowed time to wait for nature to move things along, and to adjust to the changes in plan when it became clear that wasn't going to happen. Overall, it was still a good experience because of the level of compassion and understanding that everyone involved showed, and because during the surgery I still felt empowered and in control of my birth experience.

I will  do a more detailed birth story later, when I have time and more energy, and my doula's version of the birth story, to help a little more with the details and timeline [most of my reference points are from the tweets I sent during labor]. For now, I just wanted to let everyone know we're doing well, but not online much because I'm still getting the hang of everything and having a rough time with "baby blues" and being alone right now (mom is back home & hubby is back at work - I am alone with the baby and still sore from surgery, plus very emotional right now).
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