Archive | May, 2021

Neola Bethany: 1 Week

21 May

Neola was one week old on May 19, our 14-year wedding anniversary.

Unfortunately, her first week of life outside the womb was a blur of doctor appointments. We got discharged from the hospital the day after she was born, around 5 PM. Since I was Group B Strep positive, they wanted us to go see our pediatrician for a checkup right away the next day just to make sure everything was ok. So we did.

Before our appointment with the pediatrician though, we had to stop back by the hospital for Neola to get her hearing test redone (her right ear had failed the day before, but the way they test the hearing is so pathetic!!). She passed that time just fine. We also met with the lactation consultant because Neola was having trouble latching in the hospital, so one of my nurses helped me start using a nipple shield (which I’ve never used before). We weighed her before and after feeding, and she didn’t really gain anything, but we chalked it up to my milk not fully being in yet.

At the appointment with the pediatrician afterward, we discovered that Neola’s weight was down to 7 lbs 7 oz (from 8 lbs 4 oz at birth). Since my milk was just starting to come in that day, Dr. Winter wanted us to come back on Monday for a weight check.

At the appointment on Monday, Neola was down to 7 lbs 4 oz. I nursed her while we were there, and we weighed her before and after, and she had only eaten 0.5 oz. No wonder she wasn’t gaining weight! They also wanted her bilirubin to be checked, so the lab come up and poked her heel. Poor girl! It took the lab tech a good 10 minutes to get the blood, and even then, she wasn’t sure it was enough. (It was.) Her bilirubin level came back at 17.7 — high, but apparently not high enough to treat.

We scheduled another appointment with the lactation consultant for Wednesday. In the meantime, Dr. Winter told us we should start supplementing her nursing sessions with bottles. Since I was already using a nipple shield, she explained, there wouldn’t be any nipple confusion with using bottles that early. At her age, Neola should be drinking 2 oz per feeding, at least every 3 hours.

Neola took to the bottles like a champ. We started her off at 1 oz, but quickly increased it to 2 oz. I was mostly able to pump 2 oz consistently after nursing attempts, but we did get some premade formula from the pediatrician, who said we could mix breastmilk and formula together if we needed to (and we needed to).

At our appointment with the lactation consultant on Wednesday (the day Neola turned 1 week old), Neola had gained 4.5 oz! She was up to 7 lbs 10.5 oz, which meant she was only 7% down from her birth weight (from 11% before). They apparently want babies to be back up to their birth weight by 2 weeks, so I feel like she’s right on track for that. We again weighed her before and after a feeding, and she only took in 6 mL with the whole nursing session. She latches fine, but just doesn’t suck fast or strong enough to get my milk to let down — with or without the nipple shield. Part of that is the sleepiness from the jaundice. She got a heel poke after that appointment, and her bilirubin was up to 18.8. (Since I’m posting this a little late, I can say that she got heel pokes again on Thursday and Friday, and she went down to 18.2, then 17.3, which satisfied our pediatrician. So we are done checking her bilirubin!)

She’s had plenty of wet and poopy diapers, and her poops started off as the dark meconium, but have changed to the yellow mustard color. She is sleeping much better now that she’s taking in enough milk, but part of that might be the jaundice. She has a hard time staying awake drinking a bottle, and falls asleep almost immediately when I try nursing her. I’m going to keep trying to nurse her, but for now, bottles seem to be the way she’s going to build up her strength and energy.

Which means I pump every 3 hours, even at night. Valine, the lactation consultant, gave me some tips on how to maintain my milk supply while pumping, since when I’ve pumped before after I went back to work, my milk supply eventually dried up. I discovered that my breast pump flanges are a size too small, and I wasn’t pumping long enough. Just since yesterday, I’ve seen my pumping yield go from 2 oz every time, to 2.5-3 oz. So that’s encouraging!

As far as personality, Neola hates being cold, and has strongly disliked diaper changes overall. She has a good loud cry when she is upset. When she’s awake, she is pretty mellow and likes being held. She seems to prefer either not having her arms swaddled, or just one swaddled. She sometimes takes a pacifier.

She’s been sleeping in her swing or the rock ‘n’ play during the day, and just the rock ‘n’ play at night. Sometimes we have to wake her up to eat, and sometimes she wakes up on her own. I just borrowed a Moby wrap from a friend so that when my MIL goes home, it’ll be easier to be outside doing stuff with the other kids. And we bought a new car seat that snaps into our jogging stroller (our old one expired) so we can take her on walks that way too.

Emma and Annabelle were over the moon for Neola right away, and very eager to help, which was a little stressful because they wanted to do things slightly outside their capabilities, and they were competing against each other for turns holding Neola. But now they’ve mellowed out a little, and are better about taking turns.

Corbin says Baby is cute and brings her toys. He also likes bringing me my nipple shield — “Try it!”

And that’s Neola at 1 week old!

Neola’s Birth Story

14 May

Neola Bethany was born on May 12, five days before her due date of May 17. She was 8 lbs 4 oz and 20 inches long, with a full head of hair like Annabelle and Corbin.

This time around, I decided to do an elective induction. Corbin was 8 lbs 15 oz at 39.5 weeks, and even though we knew we were having a girl and boys tend to be bigger than girls, subsequent babies tend to be bigger too. So to avoid a bigger baby, and be able to arrange childcare for our other kids easier, I was induced.

We were told to arrive at the hospital around 7 AM. We were moving slow the morning of the 12th, so we got there closer to 7:30. The birthing floor was really quiet that day, so the nurses were expecting us, and showed us right to our room.

First, we talked about the plan with my nurses, Jess and Katy — I was Group B Strep positive, so needed to have antibiotics started first thing. I was already dilated to 2 cm at my last OB appt so was hoping that the doctor would break my water first to see if that would start things without Pitocin. If not, then we would start Pitocin. While the antibiotics got going, Katy got us checked in. I watched part of a Burn Notice episode on my phone while waiting for the OB on call, Dr. Senica, to arrive.

At 9:15, Dr. Senica attempted to break my bag. It was tough apparently, and he tried a few times before saying he thought he nicked it. My antibiotics had a little bit longer to go, and while I sat there in bed, I felt some leakage, and discovered that indeed, my water had broken. After the first round of antibiotics were done, the nurses unhooked me and Travis and I walked the birthing floor for a while. I ate some Jello, sat on the birthing ball a little, then they hooked me back up to monitor baby and contractions for a bit. Nothing much was happening, so I walked around some more.

By 12:15, things still weren’t happening, so we started Pitocin with my second round of antibiotics. Travis ate lunch. I was super hungry, but apparently, they don’t let women in labor eat anything but a clear diet anymore in case of emergency c-section (sad day!).

Before the Pitocin had had a chance to kick in, I had a few real contractions so things had started to pick up a little. With the Pitocin, I started having contractions more consistently, and they were getting stronger. At 1:15, they increased my Pitocin to 4. Once they were satisfied with seeing baby’s heartbeat during contractions (now 3 minutes apart) and had checked my cervix (now dilated to 4 cm, 75% effaced), I decided to labor in the tub for a bit. The contractions were strong enough that I had to stop talking and breathe during them, but felt pretty normal otherwise.

After 30 minutes in the tub or so, I decided that the contractions were strong enough to warrant nitrous oxide. So I got out of the tub, got back in bed, and started nitrous oxide around 2:30. Travis got my music going on the bluetooth speaker.

By 3:15, I was starting to feel a lot of pressure, and the pain was getting to be incredibly intense, so I asked to be checked. I was 7.5 cm and almost fully thinned out. My nurse Jess said she thought I would be ready to push soon, so she asked the front desk to nurse to page Dr. Senica. “Tell him she’s at 7.5 cm and feeling pushy.” This was also the point where I started questioning why I had thought it would be a good idea to not get an epidural. Jess said she could start the liter of fluids for an epidural, but she didn’t think I would make it (it takes at least 45 minutes). The point of no return.

Contractions got incredibly intense from there. They were 1-2 minutes apart, lasting for a minute. I kept my eyes shut the whole time, and was in the zone. I shifted in bed from sitting cross-legged to hanging one leg off the side so that Travis could massage my lower back during contractions. The pain radiated through my lower back to my sides and hips.

For the most part, the nitrous oxide really helped to take the edge off the contractions, but as I entered transition, and got closer to pushing, the nitrous actually felt like a burden to hold, and I was groaning/moaning so much during them that I couldn’t breathe the gas in, so I ended up not using it a ton. I did use it a little between contractions.

At some point, I started feeling a lot of downward pressure, and was starting to scream a little at the pain, so Dr. Senica came in. He checked me and said I was still right around 8 cm (if he stretched it), but I was in such an incredible amount of pain, and feeling so much pressure during contractions, that I think he decided to stay and help baby along. Having to bend my legs into the stirrups with that pain in my sides and back — oh man, it was absolutely horrible. Suddenly, so many memories of my other birth sans epidural came flooding back. And just why am I doing this again!?!

During the next few contractions, Dr. Senica tried to help my cervix dilate those last few centimeters so that I could start pushing. He had me gently push with a few contractions too, and then he said I could go for it. I have never felt that kind of pain. I think because this labor went so much faster than with Annabelle (my other unmedicated birth), it was that much more intense. I was screaming my head off, with the nurses and Travis holding my legs up (because I just wanted to straighten them from the back/side pain), everyone in the room telling me I had to push now, and I could do it, and hold my breath in and bear down with everything I had, and I felt completely confident that the description I used last time — that it feels like you’re taking the biggest poop in the world and it’s tearing your insides out along with it — was 100% accurate. During contractions, I wanted to cry because I just wanted to pain to be over, but it wouldn’t be over unless I just pushed through it.

As I bore down during contractions (Travis wrote down that I pushed 8-10 times), there were points where my body just took over and pushed for me, which is kind of cool when you think about it that the body knows what to do, but it also makes me feel out of control and scared. Finally, baby’s head was out. I had to take a break though — everyone kept telling me, “The head is out. You need to keep pushing.” After a break, I did it. I screamed louder than ever, and it was SO incredibly painful there are not even words to describe it, but FINALLY baby’s body came out. Neola was born!! She came out crying right away. Like last time, I laid there for a while completely dazed and saying “Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.”

Dr. Senica clamped the cord, then had Travis cut it. Neola was completely covered in vernix, so the nurses toweled her off a little before putting her on me skin-to-skin. (I still got completely covered in the sticky white stuff.) Meanwhile, Dr. Senica was pushing on my stomach to release the placenta. One more push from me, and the placenta was out. I asked Dr. Senica if I had torn — he said there was one small nick, but that if he could stop the bleeding with a little pressure, I wouldn’t need any stitches (and he was able to, so yay!) The nurse took baby’s vitals while the rest of them cleaned up the birthing mess. I asked to get some pain meds for the afterbirth pains, because with Corbin, they were intense.

After a little while, I handed Neola to Travis so that I could eat my dinner. With just the baby blankets on, she ended up getting too cold (body temp was down to 97 something). So they brought her back to me for more skin to skin. She started moving her mouth so I tried nursing her, and she did latch a little that first time.

By 6 PM, Neola’s body temp had stabilized enough that they were able to weigh her, give her a bath, the eye drops, etc. Then I took a short bath to soak my bum, which felt amazing.

Between 6 and 9 PM, it was a cycle of checking mom’s and baby’s vitals, seeing if Neola would nurse (she wanted to suck on something, but wasn’t latching), and me eating. I ate 2 personal pizzas, 2 bowls of fruit, a brownie, a chocolate pudding, and a fig bar.

A little after 9 PM, my night nurse, Heather, brought me a stool softener and more pain meds, and then we tried to go to bed. Travis walked Neola around the room for a while, but she wouldn’t settle, so I took her and tried to nurse. She wasn’t interested — she was spitting up amniotic fluid — so I just held her upright in the chair for a few hours, and she slept well that way.

During the night, I showed Heather that Neola wasn’t latching, or that she would latch but then stop sucking almost right away, and she ended up bringing me a nipple shield to use, which helped a lot. Neola was still sleepy enough that she wasn’t interested most of the time, but it did increase her sucking when she was interested.

Unfortunately, the combination of Tylenol 3 every four hours and Ibuprofen every eight wasn’t enough to keep on top of the afterbirth pains, so I ended up cramping quite a bit during the night. But Heather brought me some heating pads, and those really helped a ton. I had her reheat them probably half a dozen times.

Travis took a shift with Neola during the night, and toward morning, Heather helped me do skin to skin again in bed with Neola, and she slept contentedly that way for several hours (which meant mommy got some sleep too!). That is a sweet memory with my last little newborn.

Just before 7:30 AM, Heather introduced our new nurse, Amber. Then the pediatric nurse came in (I was nursing at the time, so she came back a little later), as well as the OB on call. They all said that as long as baby passed her 24-hour tests, and we scheduled a follow-up with our pediatrician for the next day (because of my being Group B Strep positive), we could go home at 24 hours.

We ate breakfast, Travis took a quick shower, and then around 11 AM, Travis left to meet the kids and his mom at a park (they were all missing us), and get coffee from Caribou. I tried to rest during that time, but Neola wanted to nurse. After he got back, I downed my coffee while the nurses took Neola’s newborn photos, and then I laid down for an hour or 2. I didn’t technically get to sleep (too much commotion in our room), but I was 80% out of it. Then Neola wanted to nurse again.

Around 3:15, Travis was napping, but I woke him up to take Neola so that I could shower and pack before 4:03, which is when the nurses were going to come do Neola’s 24-hour tests. While they did her tests, Travis ran a load of stuff out to the car. By 4:45, all the tests were done, and we were on our way out to the car to head home with our newest little. By 5:15, we were home! Big sisters ran outside, ecstatic to meet little sister. So sweet. My heart was bursting.

And that’s Neola’s birth story!! More details to come in her weekly updates.

Annabelle Lyn: 6 Years

10 May

Annabelle turned six on March 27. She’s just finishing Kindergarten (homeschooling) and will be in 1st Grade next year! That doesn’t seem possible.

For her birthday this year, Nana and Papa K came down in the morning for presents and cake, and then just our family went to Upnorth Bounce House and had dinner at China Garden. We also had a joint birthday celebration/sleepover at a hotel and waterpark for her and Emma with a couple neighbor friends.

Size

Annabelle is 46 lbs (60%) and 3 ft 10 inches tall (61%). She is wearing size 6/6X or Small for clothes, and size 12 shoes.

Eating

Annabelle still LOVES yogurt, and eats it every morning for breakfast. She also loves quesadillas (on the stove, not in the microwave), PB&J sandwiches, bacon, scrambled eggs, fig bars, applesauce, most fruit, cucumbers, shrimp, and pizza. She is not a fan of mac & cheese (though will eat it occasionally), carrots, and most dinners we make.

Sleeping

Annabelle will still occasionally nap if given the opportunity, but most days she wakes up between 6:30 and 7, and goes to bed between 7:30 and 8. Every once in a while, she has an accident in the middle of the night but for the most part, she is able to wake up and go potty in the bathroom.

The girls still share a room, though they are now downstairs. At first, they were in an area at the far end of our basement that didn’t have a door or wall, but now that area has a door and a wall, and the girls have moved into the other bedroom downstairs. We bought them a bunk bed too — Annabelle is on the bottom bunk. The girls still go to bed at the same time, and usually wake up together or within 30 minutes of one another.

Development

Academically, Annabelle likes doing hands-on things like cutting, gluing, coloring, tracing, worksheets, etc. and has less patience for things that only involve thinking, talking, or listening. Whenever we use manipulatives in math, she takes forever and a day rearranging them, and telling me everything except the actual answer. She took the Iowa Basic Skills Test just last week, and during the listening portion when she was supposed to listen to a story and then choose the picture that corresponded, she would imagine her own story and choose the picture based on that. She loves telling stories, and talks so fast and excitedly that it can be hard to understand her.

Annabelle is still working on mastering letters and their sounds, identifying written numbers, and doing simple addition and subtraction, but she’s definitely made progress this year. With letters, i and j are hard for her to remember, and with counting, she gets tripped up on the switch in tens (20, 30, 40, etc.). But we have been working through the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and she has learned how to sound words out. She also did well with the lessons in her math book. Her attention span in the other subjects like History and Literature was a little spotty, and she frequently complained about not wanting to do school, but since she was only in Kindergarten, I didn’t really push it much. But my expectations will be higher next year!

Homeschooling this year has meant lots and lots and LOTS of sibling time. Annabelle plays well with both Emma and Corbin. She is very easygoing and willing to share most of the time (though sometimes she does get possessive of things that she hasn’t had much of a turn with, due to her siblings’ hogging it).

When disagreeing or fighting with Emma, Annabelle tends to have meltdowns and come crying to us instead of handling the situation herself (but Emma is bigger and stronger, so I kind of get it). Travis and I have to intentionally remind ourselves that most likely, the situation isn’t as bad as Annabelle is making it out to be. We have been trying to use Connected Families’ Peace Process model to mediate conflict, which involves getting both girls calm, asking for both sides to share their point of view, and then asking questions that help them think of a solution to the problem.

Annabelle and Corbin don’t fight all that often (unless he destroys something she was playing with, or they both want the same toy), and generally Annabelle enjoys having a younger sibling who is mostly willing to do what she wants to do (Emma tends to be the ringleader when Annabelle plays with her). Corbin doesn’t always cooperate though, so Annabelle is really looking forward to having a baby sister who can’t say no to rides in the stroller, or being held like a baby.

Emma and Annabelle still spend most of their time playing Barbies, dolls, or dressing up as princesses, but they also enjoy playing in the woods, imagining they are like the Boxcar Children. Annabelle loves making mud pies, cakes, and other concoctions in buckets and pie pans with dirt, sticks, rocks, leaves, mulch, and pine cones.

Annabelle hates getting her hair brushed, and almost always had a head of very unruly hair, but she has gotten better at being able to brush it herself when we ask her to, or when we’re going somewhere.

The girls’ room has been downstairs since this past January, and Annabelle would never remember to put socks on when she got dressed. Then when we wanted to go outside and were putting on winter gear, she would realize she didn’t have socks, and whine for someone else to go downstairs to get her socks because it’s “just so far away” down there. We started telling her to “remember socks!” when we sent her down to get dressed. Thankfully the season for socks has passed for the time being, but we are seriously contemplating storing their socks upstairs in the foyer for winter.

Annabelle is ofte goofy and has the best facial expressions. Some examples:

This past winter, Annabelle went ice fishing with Travis several times, and actually caught some fish on her own! When we were down in Florida during February, Annabelle also went mini-golfing for the first time, and rode carnival rides like the Scrambler and Pirate Ship for (almost) the first time. We also found a couple of baby turtles in the swimming pool that we rescued to safety in the nearby pond.

And that’s Annabelle at 6 years!