Archive | April, 2013

Emma: 3 Weeks

29 Apr

Emma was quite a bit fussier during her third week than she has been up to this point. I think part of the problem is that I have an oversupply of milk, or it lets down really fast, so she has to gulp the milk down to keep up. Sometimes she ends up choking and coughing, which leads to her spitting quite a bit of it up. And she frequently acts frustrated and angry when nursing – something I read in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding can be caused by an oversupply/fast letdown. On a slightly related note, she also hates a dirty diaper at the end of a feeding. She cries like her world is ending.

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Besides Emma being hard to console at times, and peeing on the changing table when her diaper’s off more times than I can count, perhaps the most challenging thing this week has been all the grunting Emma does at night. After she’s eaten, I get her to sleep and put her in her swing (where she sleeps for the time being). She sleeps peacefully for anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and then starts grunting/moaning. She’s not actually awake though. She’ll make a little noise, then be quiet for 5 minutes. A little more noise, then quiet.

I have been just letting her stay in her swing while she does it, because usually I have only gone to bed about 30-45 minutes beforehand. But it disrupts my sleep because every time she makes noise, I hold my breath, waiting for it to turn into crying. It seems like she starts making the noise when she’s ready to eat again, but not quite alert. Even though I do get up and feed her before she starts crying (which ends up being about 2-3 hours between feedings), I think it might just be best if I got up and fed her right when she started grunting, instead of waiting the 15-45 minutes that I do (but that’s easier said than done at 4 am).

IMG_4539 (Large)In other big news, Emma drank 3 ounces from a bottle this week and kept it down! Based on your guys’ advice, we bought a Dr. Brown’s bottle and that worked like a charm. She’s also started taking a pacifier, though that is something I definitely want to use more for emergencies (like when she wants to nurse when we’re out running errands), rather than on a regular basis. I had been worried about overfeeding Emma but reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and doing a little online research has convinced me that overfeeding an breastfed infant would be pretty hard to do. (I also asked our pediatrician about it and she said the same thing.)

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Travis’ family has been out here visiting since last Friday, so we’ve been able to get a little bit of break which has been really nice. Emma’s big outing this week was a short hike at Lair O’ the Bear on Saturday. The trail was a little bumpy but Emma slept through the whole thing. She woke up while we were eating lunch though, so I had to go nurse her in the car.

IMG_4537 (Large) IMG_4528 (Large) IMG_4530 (Large) IMG_4531 (Large) IMG_4532 (Large)All things considered, I feel like I’m getting into more of a groove with the whole motherhood and breastfeeding thing. I can recognize better when Emma is sending cues that she wants to eat soon, and getting up in the middle of the night has been slightly easier.

Oh and the weather here has been BEAUTIFUL lately so we’ve been spending more time outside and that definitely helps my mood.

Well, we’re off to Colorado Springs for the day! Happy Monday!

Exercise Post-Baby

26 Apr

Like I mentioned yesterday, my post-baby ab muscles are a joke. I discovered this very quickly when I attempted to do the postnatal ab workout included on my Prenatal Pilates DVD. I lasted about 2 minutes and turned it off – plank exercises will not be happening for quite some time. The Prenatal Pilates workouts themselves are more of my speed and ability right now.

My main form of exercise so far has been walking – because I had that tightness under my rib cage, I started out just walking to the end of the street and back. When I started feeling better, I walked my normal dog loop of 1.15 miles, which takes me about 20-25 minutes. And then one day, it was sunny and I was so antsy to get out and jog that I went for it. That was 12 days postpartum.

Stupid? Too soon? Perhaps. But in my defense, my doctor said I could do any exercise that I felt up to, as long as I used common sense. And my bleeding had already stopped, I didn’t have any cramps or pain before or after, and I took it really slow, and walked a lot – so much so that my average pace for my 2 mile walk/jog was 15:58/mile. My jogging intervals were around a 12:30-12:40 pace.

And it was wonderful being out there. It felt like I picked up right where I had left off in pregnancy (at the same slow shuffle), and it got me even more pumped up to get back into running. But I could definitely notice my lack of core strength, and I do realize that my body has gone through a lot and I don’t want to jump into anything too intense too soon. So for now, I’m going to limit my jogs to one a week, and really listen to my body. For the rest of my workouts, I’ll be doing Prenatal Pilates, sit-ups and push-ups to build up my core strength, walking, and hopefully some swimming (now that I can go in the middle of the day, when it’s not busy!).

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I’m planning to find a race in late summer/early fall to train for, since I love having a goal, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy getting out there.

(Side note: On my jog, I didn’t take Emma, only the pooches. Just in case you were concerned about her being in a jogging stroller so young.)

2.5 Weeks Postpartum

25 Apr

It’s been 2.5 weeks since I gave birth to our little Biscuit. Here’s how things have been going…

Physical Recovery

The physical recovery process has been a lot easier than I expected. The thing I was most scared about was tearing during birth and having stitches and lots of blood to deal with for weeks afterward. Well, it really wasn’t that bad.   Even though I had stitches for a second degree tear and they were pretty uncomfortable for several days that first week (causing me to sit down very daintily and lean to one side), that was the worst of it. I used all of the supplies from the hospital for the first week and a half or so – a water bottle to rinse with, witch hazel pads, hydro-cortisone cream, benzicane spray. Now, the bleeding has stopped, my stitches have dissolved and I feel *almost* completely normal in that regard.

Another uncomfortable aspect of recovery was the after-pains of my uterus shrinking. It wasn’t that painful – it just felt like mild period cramps, which I found more annoying and uncomfortable. But then, after going through labor, my pain scale might be a little bit skewed.

What has surprised me most, though, has been how having absolutely no ab muscles has affected me. When I was still in the hospital, Travis and I tried to take a walk so I could get out of the room but I had this horrible pain/tightness in my chest right under my rib cage. It wasn’t hard to breathe – it just felt tight. I also had a hard time standing up for an extended period of time. That continued for the next couple of weeks – when we went to Target with my parents, I had to sit down in the garbage can aisle while we debated which one to get.  At first, I thought it was a lung issue but my mom suggested that it was muscular. Now that it’s gotten a lot better (and is pretty much gone), I have to agree with her. I’ll do a separate post about exercise and what a joke my abs are. 😉

Body Image / Weight

By the time I got home from the hospital, I was down 10 pounds. By the end of the first week, I was down 15. At 2 weeks postpartum, I was down 20. Now at 2.5 weeks postpartum, I’m down 22 pounds, putting me 13 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. (I weighed myself so often out of curiosity, not obsession.)

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As my belly has shrunk, I’ve discovered a few more stretch marks on the lower right side. They’re barely noticeable so I’m not too disheartened. I’m in no hurry to bare my belly anyway, since I still have the linea negra – which also extended to the inside of my belly button. It looks pretty strange.

Since most of the weight I gained during pregnancy was in my belly and boobs, I can actually get my pre-pregnancy pants on. But I wouldn’t say they fit – I’m pretty sure the button would fly off if I tried to sit in them, so I’m still wearing all maternity pants. I’m wearing some pre-pregnancy tops, but some still look a little strange/small/short so I’m also still wearing a lot of the tanks and sweaters I wore during pregnancy. And with the limitations of needing to wear something easy to nurse in, it feels like my wardrobe has actually shrunk postpartum, instead of expanding like I thought it would. So getting dressed in real clothes is still rife with frustration this side of pregnancy. So is finding a nursing bra that fits me and is lined so that I don’t have to show everyone the shape of my nursing pads. Seriously, some of the nursing bra designs I’ve seen are completely asinine – like a horizontal seam right across the middle of the cup. In what universe is that a good idea?

On a related note, I was also looking forward to sleeping on my stomach, but my boobs are so full and tender that it’s not even a temptation now. But I have been sleeping on my back, and that has been nice.

In happier news, I can finally wear my wedding ring again and my cankles are finally gone, so my boots also fit (which has been nice considering all the snow we’ve been getting!).

Emotional

The emotional adjustment to motherhood has been like a tame roller coaster – not a wild ride, but with some ups and downs. Breastfeeding has been the hardest part. While I do consider myself very blessed with how breastfeeding has gone so far, it’s still hard to be the only one who can feed Emma. On the days that I’m having a hard time, I feel like all my freedom is gone – I can’t hang out with friends, go to the store, exercise, or even take a nap because just about the time I decide to do one of those things, Emma wakes up because she’s hungry or wants to be held.

I’ve also felt overwhelmed by worries about making the wrong choices now – like, if we let her sleep in her swing every night, is it going to be a battle for months to get her to sleep in her crib? If we give her a pacifier because she wants to suck on something but isn’t hungry, will she still demand it when she’s 3? Then there’s the whole daunting list of things yet to do for developing their cognitive functions and motor skills, etc. I definitely feel under-equipped often.

I think part of the reason things have been hard emotionally is that it’s been snowing so much here that I haven’t been able to (or wanted to, really) get out of the house a ton. But probably the bigger reason is that like usual, I’ve been gritting my teeth to get through this, instead of going to God or Travis for help. Yesterday, I had a great time in the Word and was reminded that God’s grace is sufficient for each day, no matter what the day holds, and that I can let these hard times drive me to God and deepen my communion with Him – because He has said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And with Travis, I just need to let go of my complex to do everything myself, and ask for his help.

I would like to do a separate post about how baby has affected our marriage so far, but I’ll just mention that even though there have been moments of tension when Emma is fussy and crying and we’re both at a loss and frustrated, having a baby has brought us closer together. We work as a team, and I love seeing how Travis loves Emma, and how he seeks to serve me in any way he can. Something I prayed about a lot before Emma came was that I wouldn’t constantly make Travis do things my way, but that I would respect him as a father and decision-maker. I’m happy to say that that hasn’t even been an issue! Perhaps it’s because I’m less confident in my own tactics than I thought I would be, or maybe it’s just because Travis is a wonderful father, but even when Travis does things differently than I would, I don’t feel the need to “correct” him. That’s evidence of God’s grace.

I’ve also noticed that my ability to hope in God’s goodness and faithfulness is directly correlated to how much sleep I get, or what time of day it is. When I’m up at 3 am to feed Emma, it’s a lot harder to trust things will get better than it is at 11 am, when I’ve had my coffee and it’s sunny outside. Because of that, this verse is especially relevant to me right now:

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)

And I think that about covers it for now!

Emma: 2 Weeks

22 Apr

Our baby girl is now 2 weeks (and one day) old.

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Time is already going by too fast! I tell ya, some days it feels like I wake up and before I know it, it’s 5 pm. Between daily laundry, nursing and sleeping in until 9 or 10 if Emma lets me, I often drink my coffee at noon and shower at 4 pm.

My parents left last Sunday so this was the first week that it was just me and Travis with the Biscuit. Travis works from home, which is really nice because I can move the swing into the office or set up the baby monitor and go run an errand while Emma is sleeping and Travis keeps an eye on her. It’s also nice for him because he can come say hi while taking a break and also get his Emma fix during lunch (while giving Mommy a break!).

Travis and I have worked out a rough schedule for sleeping at night – I go to bed around 9 or 9:3o while Travis stays up with Emma – sometimes, she’s a little fussy or takes a while to get to sleep so he comforts her while I get some sleep. Around midnight-ish, Travis wakes me up for Emma’s midnight snack (assuming she’s acting hungry) and goes to bed himself. Then I take over from there, getting up whenever I hear Emma starting to grunt and smack her lips. Since Travis is working right now and I’m not, I’m bearing the brunt of the night duty – he couldn’t do much more than change her diaper anyway. I’m hoping that once we get Emma to take a bottle, Travis could handle the midnight feeding so I could get more like 5 or 6 hours of sleep at once, instead of only 2 or 3.

Emma lost her umbilical cord stump on Saturday, which completely grossed Travis out. It was dangling by a thread, so we used a nail clipper to snip it off completely.

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It’s a belly button!

That meant Emma got her first real bath! She fussed a lot less when she could actually be in the water (we still use the infant sling that hooks to the bathtub). We use the sprayer attached to the sink to get her wet and wash her hair – it works really well.

She is noticeably more alert this week – yesterday, I took her on a walk and she stayed awake the whole time. She’s also started crying for reasons other than being hungry – wet diaper, being overstimulated, wanting a different position – but she’s still pretty easy to comfort, once we figure out the issue.

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She’s also a lot more gassy/poopy and spitty. Some of her farts are impressively loud and long considering her size, and her diapers are starting to stink a bit more. In the wee morning hours of yesterday, Emma had just finished a rather eager feeding session and was drifting off to sleep when all of a sudden, she burped and then puked everywhere – on my clothes, the blanket, my nursing pillow, herself. I think it was caused by her eating too much, too fast.

I’ve tried drinking a glass of wine a couple times after feeding Emma in the evening but it seems that that’s always the time she decides to wake up early to feed. So I think I’m going to wait until we figure out the bottle situation until I try that again. It’s the same with when I use my breast pump – instead of going 3 hours in between feedings, she only goes 2. Then I don’t have the amount of milk she wants and she ends up getting frustrated. Another situation that will be greatly relieved once we can get her to take a bottle, and keep it down.

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We had our 2 week well baby appointment today and Emma now weighs 7 lbs 8.5 oz! Her birth weight was 7 lbs 6 oz, but at her last appointment, she was 6 lbs 14 oz, so the doctor was pleased with her gain. Yay Emma!

Travis and I are big fans of nicknames and have come up with several for Emma:

  • Em Diggity
  • Jellybean
  • Bobble head
  • Lizard tongue

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The thing I was looking forward to the most about having a baby was the cuddle time. Since I’m nursing, though, that makes up the majority of the time Emma and I spend together. When she’s sleeping, I usually give her to Travis or put her in her swing so I can do things like eat, take a shower, blog, drink my coffee, do laundry, tidy up, go shopping – in short, be productive. But I can get so caught in getting things done that I miss the moment. So yesterday, I forced myself to let things go and instead, take a nap with my baby girl.

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IMG_4493 (Large)Holding her reminds me that all of this is so worth it, and helps me appreciate what a blessing she is.

Tomorrow, I’ll post about my recovery and adjustment to motherhood.

Breastfeeding So Far

18 Apr

Since nursing Emma takes up a lot of my time these days, I thought I’d talk about how things are going, what has worked well and what hasn’t.

As I mentioned before, Emma wasn’t interested in nursing right away due to all the air and amniotic fluid that she had ingested during birth. After we got that out, she was a lot more interested in nursing, and started nursing for about 20-45 minutes per breast the second day, and 10-30 minutes per breast the third day. She was still pretty sleepy so I was waking her up to eat every 2-3 hours, which was sometimes a little challenging.

Sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, my milk came in. I don’t think I experienced engorgement per se – I just noticed that my breasts were very full and hard, and I started leaking milk easily. Emma’s feedings started to last around 15 minutes per side (once she was able to get properly latched despite my fullness). Since Emma had low intermediate jaundice levels, I made sure to keep waking her about every 3 hours, even if she would’ve slept longer, because feeding and peeing/pooping helps clear jaundice up faster, and her weight loss had been mildly concerning (8.5% down).

At first, breastfeeding was very painful. Emma is a ‘barracuda baby’ with a very strong suck, and before she learned what to do, she wouldn’t open her mouth wide enough for me to get a proper latch. The lactation consultants didn’t work on Sunday, so I was flying blind all day Sunday and Sunday night. The next day, one of the nurses noticed that I had a couple of ‘hickies’ – places where Emma hadn’t latched correctly – which could turn into painful sores. I got a lot of help and advice on Monday in the hospital, which was great and very appreciated.

Emma latches like a pro now, and most breastfeeding sessions feel completely fine and not painful at all. But every once in a while, Emma latches on and it’s painful for the first 30 seconds or so, until my nipples get re-used to everything.

Emma hasn’t settled into a schedule yet – the time she goes between feedings and how long she feeds varies constantly. At first, I was setting an alarm clock so that I’d get up when I needed to feed Emma, but since I’ve been getting in at least 8 feedings per day, and Emma has plenty of wet and dirty diapers, I’ve started letting her determine when to feed during the night.

The night before last, she slept for 3 hours between feedings (4 hours from start to start), but then last night, she woke up every 2. Sometimes she nurses for 30 minutes on each side, other times just 10. The shorter she nurses during a session, the more frequently she wants to nurse. Today, I’ve been nursing her about every 2 hours (from start time to start time) because she’s only been nursing for about 10 minutes each side. But I’ve also noticed that the more she nurses during the day, the less frequent she nurses at night. So we’re still just figuring things out.

One of the most noticeable things about breastfeeding is how hungry it makes me. I swear, marathon training runger is nothing compared to this! My appetite is probably influenced by my being up at all hours of the day and night, but I am eating more now than I did during pregnancy, or during marathon training. I’m not complaining. 😉

Gear

Because nursing was so painful for the first few days, I was desperate for something to help. I tried the cold breast gel pads but they didn’t seem to help me much. My lifesaver has been Medela Tender Care Lanolin.

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I try to remember to apply this after every feeding, and after I shower – I can definitely tell when I’ve forgotten. I think it helps keep my nipples hydrated, so that it doesn’t hurt as much for them to be pulled on. Just a note that the lanolin does seem to leave a residue on bras, so I recommend using it in conjunction with nursing pads.

Speaking of which, I’ve been using the Lansinoh nursing pads and they have been working well.

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They have sticky pads on the back so that they stick to your bra, but if you didn’t want to use the sticky parts, you could just leave the paper on. Some nursing bras have little pockets built in to hold nursing pads, so the sticky parts aren’t as necessary.

Another thing that has been a huge help is the My Brest Friend pillow.

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Since my breasts have been pretty full while waiting for my breast pump to come, I have been nursing Emma pretty much exclusively using the football hold. This pillow works well for that, since the clip keeps it in place around my waist and it supports Emma. It’s also pretty firm, so it’s a good burping surface and doubles as a good pillow to rest my arm on (when it’s not around my waist) as I rock Emma to sleep.

The breast pump I ended up getting is the Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breast Pump – my insurance didn’t cover the Medela one I had wanted. The lactation consultant told me that the Ameda pump is a good pump, it just doesn’t last as long or stand up to as much use as the Medela does.

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The version I got didn’t come with a carry bag, but I found one that will work well for $11 at Walmart. It also only comes with 2 collection bottles, so I might look into getting a couple more, or I might just use regular bottles to store the expressed milk in.

I’ve used the pump twice so far, and been able to express 2 oz total – about 1 feeding for Emma at this point. We’ve also tried to introduce bottles, but so far have been pretty unsuccessful. Emma isn’t that sure about the rubber nipple, and any milk that she has ingested has promptly been spit back up in massive quantities. I think she’s swallowing too much air, so we might be on the hunt for a different bottle style (we have been using the Tommee Tippee bottles).

I bought a couple of nursing bras from The Nursing Nook shop at the hospital. One of the bras was pretty expensive ($60) and I’m not completely sold on it, so I think I’m going to return it and keep looking. But nursing bras are definitely the way to go – it’s so easy to just pull up your shirt, unhook the clasp and fold down the front! I’ll probably get some nursing tanks once I go back to work as well. Unfortunately, my breasts have grown yet another cup size, which means I’ll most likely have to buy bigger sports bras too. Bras are so expensive!

Last but not least, I’ve used my nursing cover a few times, but it is definitely tricky to do so without showing what I’m trying to keep covered. It’s also a little tricky to see what I’m doing – I think it’ll be easier with an older child who has better neck control and needs less assistance from mommy.

Anyway, that’s my breastfeeding experience so far. It’s exhausting, but going well. I know that a lot of women have challenging experiences with nursing, so I’m definitely very blessed.

Emma’s First Week

15 Apr

I had good intentions of posting this update yesterday but all the days and nights of minimal sleep caught up with me. And Emma decided that she wanted to eat every hour between 5 and 9 pm – but then she slept for 5 hours straight, and then another 4 after I fed her. (I was ok with letting her sleep longer because I had fed her 11 times throughout the day.)

Emma spent her first week sleeping, going to the doctor, nursing and getting out and about. 🙂

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Sleep

Emma sleeps best in late afternoon. I almost always have to wake her up to feed during that time. Otherwise, she starts moving around, grunting and smacking her lips about 3 hours from the start of her last feeding. If I wait too long to feed her after she does that, she has a meltdown (the only time she really cries) so I try to not let it go that far. And if we try to change her diaper before feeding her, she is not happy.

The first couple of nights we were home, Emma slept a few hours in her cradle in our room, which made me hopeful that it wouldn’t be a battle for her to sleep there. But the past couple of nights, Emma has wanted nothing to do with the cradle, so Travis and I have had to hold her or put her in her swing and sleep in the living room. I love holding her, but it makes for a long night. Luckily, our glider is awesome and it’s fairly easy to hold her and sleep at the same time.

Emma loves being swaddled, so we’ve been using our Halo sleep sack and SwaddleMe wraps a lot, even when she’s awake but mostly when we put her down to sleep. She also loves her 2-in-1 swing/vibrating chair.

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Going to the Doctor

We came home from the hospital on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday, we made the 5-minute trek over to the pediatrician for checks on weight and jaundice levels. Her bilirubin came back around the same intermediate level on both days, so they felt that as long as she was eating and peeing/pooping ok, she would be fine. She had lost 8.5% of her birth weight on Wednesday, but by her appointment on Thursday, she was up 3 oz! So she’s doing well with feeding and gaining weight too.

Nursing

My milk came in by Wednesday morning and Emma started being really fussy about nursing. She’d latch on, suck a few times, and then pull off. I could tell she was hungry because she’d get upset and open her mouth again, only to latch on and pull off after just a few seconds. This would go on for 10-15 minutes before I could get her latched on for a good feeding.

On Friday, we went back to the hospital to meet with the lactation consultant. She weighed her before I fed her, after one breast, and then again after both. Based on Emma’s weight, she needs about 19 oz of milk a day, which breaks down to about 2 oz a feeding. Emma ate almost exactly 2 oz during our feeding. Apparently, her fussy behavior was due to my breasts being overfull and her having a difficult time latching on. I don’t have my breast pump yet, since I had to wait until Emma was born to order through insurance (but it should arrive tomorrow) so there wasn’t a ton I could do about expressing milk, but I did learn that pinching my areola into a ‘sandwich’ helped her get latched better, sooner.

I’ll do a separate post about breastfeeding, but for now I’ll just say that it’s going well and I feel very blessed to be able to bond with Emma that way, even if it does mean little sleep and sore nipples.

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Getting Out and About

Emma’s first shopping trip was to Target and she slept through the whole thing. It’s so fun taking her places!

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On Saturday, we also took her on a trip to Best Buy, a Craigslist meetup, and Babies R Us. We didn’t time that one very well, though, because we got stuck in traffic and she ended up being hungry even before our first stop. I stayed in the car at Best Buy to feed her, then we all sat in the car after meeting the Craigslist person (we found a nightstand for the nursery!) so I could finish feeding her enough to tide her over. She was content until we got into Babies R Us, then she started to crack. So we bought our stuff and left.

By the time we got out to the car, she was losing it. I let her suck on my finger on the way home, and that made her happy. I know they say that pacifiers shouldn’t be introduced until breastfeeding is well-established (and it’s only been a week) but I think a pacifier in emergency situations would be fine if it helps her avoid a meltdown. Not sure she’ll like pacifiers though – we tried two different kinds yesterday in church and she wasn’t interested in either. So we’ll see.

Speaking of church yesterday… I fed her right before we left the house, hoping she’d sleep through the whole church service. Not so. She made it through worship and the break before the sermon, but about 5 minutes into the sermon, she started waking up. I took her out of her carseat and gave her to Travis, we tried the pacifiers, but I ended up just taking her to the nursing moms’ room and nursing her the rest of the service. A few of my friends were in there too, so it was fun to catch up with them. It’s probably something I’ll have to get used to, unless I start bringing a bottle for her, but they post the sermons online so I can listen to them later. Although, even if I did bring a bottle for her, I’d still probably leave the sanctuary because Emma is an incredibly loud eater! She likes to moan and coo the whole time. It’s very cute, but it’d also be very distracting to everyone else.

We also took Emma on several walks in her BabyTrend jogging stroller. We just snap her Graco carseat in and go. The stroller is awesome so far – it pushes really easily, rides smoothly and I think we’ll be very satisfied with it. Since this post is getting pretty long, I’ll save the specifics of walking and the possibilities of jogging for another post. 🙂

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Dogs

Just a quick note that the dogs have adapted really well to having Emma home. They like to sniff her a lot. And Katy is very protective of her – Charlie acts pretty much the same as before. More details to come…

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At one week, Emma LOVES:

  • Being swaddled
  • Being held
  • Nursing and sucking
  • The vibrating chair and swing
  • Hearing our voices (reading her a book knocks her out)

Emma DOESN’T LIKE:

  • Baths
  • Having her diaper or clothes changed
  • Not being able to latch on to nurse
  • Being on her back when not being held
  • When the dogs shake with their collars on

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All in all, Emma is amazing and we are so in love with her. Whenever I have a hard time getting up at night to feed her (which is often), one look at her face reminds me that it’s so worth it. I’m trying to consciously soak up this time with a heart of thanksgiving because I know it will go too fast.

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Emma’s Birth Story, Part 3

13 Apr

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 2

The first day of recovery in the hospital was incredibly overwhelming. I was exhausted, with a new baby that didn’t want to breastfeed, and there was a steady parade of hospital staff, doctors and nurses through our room at all hours. We didn’t even get to “bed” until 4 am Sunday morning, and even then, Emma was not a fan of being in her bassinet alone so I ended up holding her quite a bit while sleeping very lightly sitting up in bed.

Emma wasn’t interested in breastfeeding right away – she was gagging and coughing up bubbles a lot. Later on Sunday, one of the nurses suggested that we put a tube down her throat into her stomach to get some of the gunk out that she likely swallowed during birth. We agreed, though it broke my heart to think about her enduring that, but I’m glad we did it, because she had about 10 ccs of air and a bunch of amniotic fluid mixed with saliva in there. The procedure didn’t clear things up completely right away but we noticed she was much more content and willing to feed.

My parents came to visit for a few hours a couple times each day, which was nice. They got to see and hold Emma, and Travis and I got a little bit of a break. We were told numerous times to sleep when Emma was sleeping, but that was nearly impossible with how many people came into our room what seemed like every hour – our pediatrician, my doctor and nurses, volunteers with cookies, housekeeping, specialists doing infant tests, etc. We wished that we had a “Do Not Disturb” sign.

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IMG_4390 (Large) IMG_4387 (Large) IMG_4388 (Large)Emma getting her hearing test done – she passed on both ears!

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Because my water had been broken for over 18 hours before Emma was born, she was required to stay in the hospital the full 48 hours. The doctors weren’t really that worried about her since I had been given 4 doses of penicillin over the course of labor, but they wanted to make sure. That meant we weren’t allowed to go home until Tuesday around noon. It was a little frustrating, but I knew it was in our best interest. Emma also had low intermediate jaundice levels so we were supposed to see our pediatrician on Wednesday or Thursday.

That first day, I was panicking a little inside. Everything was so new and overwhelming, breastfeeding seemed daunting, I was exhausted and wondering how in the world I ever thought it was a good idea to have a baby.

Sunday and Monday nights, Emma went through the very common cluster feeding stage, which meant that I was up pretty much all night. Travis did give me a couple of 2-hour stretches when he was able to keep Emma content, which helped a ton. It’s amazing what a little sleep can do to your outlook on life! That, coupled with nursing/latching help from some great nurses and the lactation consultant, encouraged me that this whole baby thing was doable – I just needed to be patient and get through the first few weeks.

Finally, Tuesday came and we were able to go home. We packed up all of our stuff, put Emma in her car seat and got wheeled downstairs. And what odds that we went home in the 2nd worst snowstorm Denver has seen this year. Emma likes her snowstorms I guess.

It felt so great to be home! We put Emma in her swing almost immediately and were delighted to find that she really enjoys it.

IMG_4393 (Large)She does not, however, like her diaper being changed when she’s hungry.

IMG_4395 (Large)She’s a really good baby overall though. Her eyes melt my heart.

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I’ll give more specifics later, but it’s been great to be able to be home. I love nursing Emma in our glider and it’s great sleeping in my own bed for the few naps I get each day (over 24 hours, usually about 3-4 naps for 2 hours each). I’m not getting a ton of sleep, but I’ve been able to adapt for the most part.

The best part about being home is having Emma with us. It still feels a bit unreal but we are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl!

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 2

12 Apr

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1

Because Lauren suspected that Emma was facing the wrong way, she brought the peanut ball for me to put between my legs, in hopes that lying on my side with my legs spread would encourage Emma to turn. I laid on my right side for about an hour and then the doctor came in, broke my bulging bag of waters (which I couldn’t feel because of the blessedly effective epidural!) and said I was at about 9 cm. Lauren helped me switch to my left side, and let Travis and I rest for another hour. I couldn’t sleep, knowing that the pushing stage was right around the corner, but it was nice to just lay there for a while.

About 15 minutes before Lauren returned, I started feeling the contractions again – though they weren’t painful at all, I could just feel the tightening like Braxton Hicks. I also started feeling downward pressure during each contraction, which I hoped meant that the time for pushing was close. By that point, it was also after midnight, which meant Emma would be born on her due date!

When Lauren returned to check my cervix, Emma had descended into the birth canal and was right there. Lauren had me do a practice push, mentioned that she thought Emma had turned, then went to get the doctor and all the supplies for delivery. It was finally time! She brought a big mirror that I could look into to see Emma come out, which was very cool.

While we waited for the doctor, I pushed with a few more contractions and could see Emma’s head and hair. The doctor arrived, I pushed with two more contractions, and there Emma was! Seeing her come out was hands down the Coolest. Thing. Ever. I was finally seeing the little being that had been in my belly for 9 months! Once she was out, they placed her on my chest for skin to skin. She was covered in vernix and beautiful – I couldn’t believe that this was my daughter.

While the nurses wiped Emma off on my chest, the doctor delivered the placenta and began stitching me up – I had a second degree tear. I could feel the tugging of her sewing but it wasn’t painful at all.

After a while, the nurses took Emma to weigh her and do their tests just across the room.

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Lauren cleaned me up and then my parents arrived.

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IMG_4381 (Large) They didn’t stay long – only about 10 minutes – because it was about 2 am and we still had to move to the recovery room.

After my parents left, Lauren and the other nurse helped me to the bathroom, which was interesting because I couldn’t stand – my legs just buckled underneath me. Meanwhile, Travis packed up all of our stuff and I was put in a wheelchair for moving to the recovery room. Emma was placed on my chest for skin to skin while we made the journey up a floor, because her temperature was a little too low.

Even though my labor went nothing like I had wanted – my water broke but didn’t start active labor, I had to get Pitocin and an epidural, Emma was facing the wrong way – I am very satisfied with the experience.  I am glad that I experienced the real pain of labor but do not for an instant regret my decision to get an epidural. I know that I held out as long as I possibly could, and it made the pushing stage short and easy. I also am thrilled that I was able to avoid a c-section.

Coming up: Our stay in the hospital…

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1

11 Apr

I finished my last day of work on Friday. Like any other lazy Friday night, Travis and I ate leftovers for dinner, watched TV and I went to bed around 9:30. At 12:30 am, I was rolling over in bed when I felt a huge gush of warm water. It felt very surreal as it dawned on me that my water had broken. We were going to have a baby sooner than later! Luckily, I had put puppy pads and a garbage bag on the bed under the sheets so our mattress didn’t get wet at all, and my amniotic fluid was clear so our sheets were fine after a wash.

I called to Travis from bed, told him my water had just broken and asked him to grab me a towel, since I knew from reading copious amounts of birth stories that what had gushed out of me was by no means all of it. He grabbed me a towel and I raced to the bathroom holding it in place. I immediately called my doctor’s office and the on-call doctor said I didn’t need to rush in right away since it was the middle of the night and I wasn’t contracting yet – I could wait until things started to happen.

I knew it would be a good idea to get some more sleep while things were still comfortable, but adrenaline had kicked in and my mind wouldn’t stop reeling. So I sat on the couch and read, made some no-bake energy bites, slept an hour, read some more. My contractions were pretty irregular in intensity and timing – some were semi-painful, others felt just like Braxton Hicks. Some were 6 minutes apart, others were 15.

Finally, at 7 am, I decided it had been long enough so I called the doctor again and asked him if I should wait until things were more regular, or come in then. He said to come in. Travis and I leisurely loaded up our stuff, made a stop at Walgreen’s, and got to the hospital around 8 am.

They had our room all ready and got us checked in quickly. The amazing thing about the hospital we gave birth at is that the labor and delivery wing is SO quiet and relaxed. It’s pretty much the opposite you would expect for a place where so much action happens. But it was very nice.

We got all the paperwork squared away, then the nurse checked to make sure my water really had broken, which it was. She also checked my cervix and I was only 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. I was a little bummed that it was still so early but it wasn’t that surprising.

Since I had tested positive for Group B Strep, they got my first IV dose of penicillin going. I would get a dose every 4 hours until baby was born. The medicine is so concentrated that it burns a little going in – made my arm feel really heavy and achy. But the nurses were able to adjust the drip rate so that the discomfort was minimal.

IMG_4362 (Large)Getting my first dose of penicillin

My first nurse, Shelley, was great. She was very respectful of my desire to avoid Pitocin and any pain medication, and instead, labor naturally and out of bed as much as possible. After my first penicillin dose was done, they capped off my IV. Travis and I walked some laps around the labor and delivery floor, watched a movie while I sat on the birthing ball, and did a crossword. My contractions were coming more regularly – about every 5-6 minutes. They were also getting more intense, but I could still talk and walk through them. I talked to the doctor and he recommended starting to think about augmenting labor, since at the rate things were going, it could end up being a very long day.

IMG_4365 (Large)With our dolphin back massager – great for the first part of labor

Around noon, I got my second dose of penicillin and had my cervix checked again, so I could make a decision about augmenting labor. I had made no progress – still just 2 cm, 80%. So I agreed to have them start me on Pitocin. I had really hoped to avoid it, knowing it would make labor harder, but at that point, it had been 12 hours since my water broke, and my body was doing pretty much nothing on its own.

They got the Pitocin going around 1:30, starting at a dose of 2 (what that means specifically, I don’t know). They increased the dose by 2 every 30 minutes. Not long after, my contractions started getting serious – they were coming every 2-3 minutes and the intensity was building. I had started off being able to do abdominal breathing through contractions. Then I had to start moaning a little on the exhale to help keep control.

I was sitting in the glider next to the bed and my back starting to really hurt with each contraction, so I had Travis apply counter-pressure during each contraction, which helped, but was tough for him to do. With the nurse’s help, we rearranged the bed into a chair and that made it a lot easier for Travis to reach my back.

By 5:30, the Pitocin was up to a dose of 8, contractions were coming on top of each other every 1-2 minutes, and the back labor was excruciating. Every contraction, I thought “I can’t do this anymore. I am in so much pain.” Travis was great at encouraging me to keep with it, reminding me that each contraction was bringing us closer to Emma.

Since I had read that contractions can be that close together during transition, I hoped that maybe I was making quite a bit of progress, which would explain why things were so intense. But when they checked my cervix, I was only at 5 cm. Four hours of horrible pain and I had only changed 3 cm! I wanted to cry and despair. If things kept going at that rate, I had hours of labor ahead of me.

Finally, I caved and accepted some pain medication – Fentynal – through my IV, and they also dialed my Pitocin back to a 2. The pain meds made me really dizzy and relaxed, but did absolutely nothing for the pain in my back, which was there even when I wasn’t having a contraction, and was agonizing during one. Moreover, I had to lay down on my back during the hour that the pain meds were ‘working’, which made things even worse – Emma’s heel jammed up into my ribs on each contraction, which just compounded the pain.

By 7 pm, I was starting to lose it. Even laboring standing up was horrible. The pain was so unbelievable that I started seriously contemplating getting an epidural, even though I had really wanted to avoid one. I just didn’t see how I could make it several more hours at the rate I was going, with the pain that I was in. And I was so tired by that point that I could no longer relax during each contraction – I tensed up, writhing in pain, moaning as loud as I possibly could, even though I knew that tensing up was hindering my uterus from doing its thing.

My nurse Shelley introduced my night nurse, Lauren. Lauren was awesome. She was so supportive and helpful. Shelley explained to Lauren that I was contemplating an epidural. I asked for my cervix to be checked again, and I was only 6 cm dilated. Lauren also noticed that I had a bulging bag of water – amniotic fluid that had collected above my cervix, preventing the baby from bearing down as much as she should. Lauren explained that I could have the doctor break it in hopes that things would speed up, but it would probably make things more intense. I couldn’t imagine more intense. She also explained that my back labor was so bad most likely because Emma was facing ‘sunny side up’ – which I knew could make the pushing stage even more painful, and possibly end up requiring a c-section. For all of those reasons, I decided that an epidural was my best option for survival so I finally caved and asked for one.

The anesthesiologist arrived 15 minutes later. The time he spent getting set up and the epidural put in were the longest 10 minutes of my life. The epidural didn’t hurt much more than getting a shot. I was lucky in that it didn’t make me itchy, but unlucky in the fact that the epidural didn’t work. I could still feel and move my legs, and my back labor was still just as intense as ever. It did work enough for me to be able to lie down comfortably and rest in between contractions, but each contraction was still ridiculously painful.

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Thank God for Lauren and the anesthesiologist, who refused to give up on helping me get relief. They suggested higher doses, additional meds, which I accepted reluctantly – worried about the effects on Emma of all the drugs – but none of which worked for the back labor. Finally, after about 45 minutes and learning that I was still only dilated 8 cm, the anesthesiologist suggested that he adjust the epidural tubing to see if that would help, and if it didn’t, he would replace the epidural. I agreed, skeptical that it would work but I was at my wits end. At that point, I had been laboring on Pitocin for over 8 hours.

The adjustment took about 10 minutes and involved a very painful process of ripping tape off my back, but once he got it all situated again, it was only about 20 minutes later that I started feeling real relief. Thirty minutes later, I was pain free.

To be continued…

Welcome Emma Grace

8 Apr

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20130407_124054Emma Grace decided to be born on her due date 4/7/13 at 12:48 a.m. She weighed 7 lbs 6 oz and was 20 inches long. We get to go home from the hospital tomorrow morning.

Will update more later!