Saturday, November 19, 2016

More Must Haves

  • NoseFrida Snot Sucker - This is one of those products that you can laugh at all you want, but it is a lifesaver! Basically, you press a tube against your baby's nostril, and then suck on a connected tube to literally suck the snot out of your baby's nose. There is a filter in between the two tubes, so you are not going to suck their snot into your mouth or anything! We tried using the bulb syringe nasal aspirator at first, and those things are a joke! The snot sucker has been a life saver as we've rolled into cold season because Lewis has been waking up with a snotty nose every morning. This is a must have!
  • Portable white noise machine: I think I wrote about white noise in my last "must haves" blog post. We've been using white noise with Lewis since pretty much the beginning, but when he was about two months old, I realized how much white noise could help us when we're out and about. Lewis doesn't mind his carseat as long as the car is moving but he's generally not content to hangout in it and wouldn't stay asleep if he fell asleep in it. I started using my phone to play white noise for him and it helped A LOT in his carseat, but then I was without my phone and the battery would run down pretty quick. So we bought the Marpac Hushh portable white noise machine. We just hook it on his carseat when we're going to be out and about and it really helps him stay calm in his seat!  We even use this machine at night now because our other one broke. It has a great volume range and has three sound options. We also take this to daycare with him so he can have white noise during his naps.
  • Bottle drying rack:  We introduced Lewis to a bottle at about 3 weeks and gave him a couple bottles a week, to make sure he would continue taking a bottle. Now that he's in daycare, he gets bottles everyday. So we needed a place to dry bottles, as well as my pump parts.  We use the Boon Patch drying rack, and I love it. It's cute, minimal, and functional. There are a couple different shapes, but I like the Patch the best. One Patch will hold 4-5 bottles, so we ended up buying two to accommodate bottles and pump parts. Boon also sells "accessories" that fit into the drying rack, like the Twig, which dries bottle nipples and small pump parts (I can't say I love the Twig. There are only a few "branches" that are long enough/at the necessary angle to hold the nipples we use. But it works ok)
  • Swaddle sack: Lewis resisted swaddling early on, but we started up again when he was maybe a month old and it has really been a life saver. We never had much luck swaddling with blankets, so we bought some ZiggyBaby swaddle sacks. These worked fine, but he outgrew them pretty quick. A friend loaned us some SwaddleMe sacks that are a similar design to the Ziggybaby, but seem like a higher quality material. With both of these, I sometimes struggled to get a tight swaddle because his hands would easily find a way out. My true favorite swaddle sack is the Halo. We started with the newborn fleece swaddle sack. I love how warm it is, because Greg and I like to keep the house pretty cool at night, so this gives me comfort that he will stay nice and cozy. I also love how wide the swaddle wings are, I feel like they really hug his entire torso and easily cover his hands. It's super easy to get a tight swaddle. I bought a size small cotton Halo swaddle sack for daytime sleep, but haven't used it a ton yet. It's been harder to get a tight swaddle in, and I'm not sure if the material has anything to do with it (less friction?) or if he is just too small for it.
  • Hands free pumping bra: Now that I'm back at work, I'm pumping three times a day. A hands free bra allows me to relax while I'm pumping, and to use my hands for other things. I ordered this PumpEase  hands free bra first - meh. It's basically a stretchy strapless bra with slits for the pump flanges. It has three rows of hooks and eyes in the front, so not very adjustable. The small bra was too small for me and the medium was too big. As the bottles filled with milk, the bra couldn't hold them up anymore. My local breastfeeding retail store, Milkworks, sells the Simple Wishes hands free bra, so I decided to try it out. It's 100x better! The SimpleWishes bra comes with a velcro panel in the back so you can truly get a custom fit for you. It zips up the front and comes with a front extension to accommodate how far apart your breasts are. It also comes with straps, but you don't really need them because you can fit this bra exactly to you. This bra also has a better design for the slits for the pump flanges. One friend said she got a crappy knock off when she ordered from Amazon though, so buyer beware.
  • Nursing Pads: I don't leak a ton, but I feel like the one time I don't wear pads, I leak. So I really use them as more of a paranoid precaution. I hated throwing away the disposable pads, since they were hardly getting any use, but I was wary of the reusable kinds that seemed really thick. I ordered Kiddo Care nursing pads on Amazon and I am pretty happy with them! They're big and thick enough that I wouldn't be able to wear them with a thin, tight shirt, but I'm not wearing a whole lot of those these days anyways. These were a great, inexpensive option for a reusable nursing pad.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Back to work!

This is my last week of maternity leave. I definitely have mixed feelings about it! Lewis will be going to daycare, and while i feel very comfortable with the quality of care he'll receive, of course I worry. I know that when the day comes, I'm going to feel some separation anxiety, but right now, what has me most worried is how Lewis will nap.

Right now I feel like I spend most of my day putting him down for naps because he gets tired and fussy pretty fast after waking up, but takes a lot of short naps. Every now and then he'll have a killer 2+ hour nap, but most of his naps are 30-45 minutes. He gets fussy about 30 min to an hour after waking up and we repeat the nap cycle.

Right now he's taking his naps in a swing. It's what works for us, but at daycare he'll be napping in a crib. When I try to put him down for naps in his bassinet, unless he's pretty passed out, he screams, so this could be interesting. I keep reminding myself that these people have seen hundreds of children and will know how to take care of him, and he'll be fine. But I just have this mental image of him being so tired and screaming but refusing to fall asleep in the crib. I guess we'll see :/ (and a caveat... Please no sleep advice. I've already read a million things and we're just trying to do what works for us)

I feel a little guilty admitting this, but in some ways I'm excited to take him to daycare. Staying home with him has been a little challenging for me. I know we're in a difficult stage right now and it won't always be this way, but I feel pretty exasperated after a long day of playing "put Lewis down for a nap" all day. I love the time I get with him when he's awake and happy. He's started smiling and would give me bigger smiles than Greg for awhile. I feel like he does recognize me as someone who takes care of him. I love that, and it freaks me out to think of going from being with him all day everyday to only being with him evenings and weekends. But I don't know how people do it! Staying home with him has made me feel an enormous amount of pressure to get everything right. And Lewis is a pretty passionate child, so it's easy to feel like I'm doing everything wrong.

I read something the other day that really resonated with me as I prepare to return to work. Someone on Facebook said "motherhood is not a job; it's a relationship". I'm still his mother even if I'm not the one changing his diaper, feeding him, etc., all day. Nothing can take away the special relationship of me being his mother. Of course I knew that, and i know that kids who go to daycare still grow up knowing who their mom and dad are and that their mom and dad love them, but it's easy to forget that and worry, especially right now as I'm being cut off cold turkey!

Of course I also worry about how we'll manage meals and housework once we're both back at work. And I definitely worry about how I'll function if I'm sleep deprived. Lewis and I have been sleeping in until 9 most morning and now we're going to have to wake up early! He sleeps good most nights, but we have rough nights here and there. Since I'm breastfeeding, I handle almost all of the nighttime duties, and going back to work means no more napping for me! This will be yet another new phase in our lives that we will adjust to.

Maternity leave went by really fast. As a friend put it, "the days are long, but the weeks go fast." In the midst of the painful parts, it didn't feel fast, but here I am, 12 weeks almost over. I'm incredibly grateful to have had this time with him, but here's to the next phase!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My must haves (mom edition)

I was thinking the other day about what products have made my life a lot better as the mother of a newborn and I figured I would share! Next up, my must haves for baby boy.

-Good water bottle - I had a strong headache for about a week early on because I wasn't drinking enough water to make up for the water I was losing through breastfeeding. I started off using my hospital cup but it spills too easily so I couldn't just throw it around where I needed it, meaning it was often out of arm's reach sitting on the coffee table while I was on the couch nursing. It also didn't stay cold very long and I strongly prefer cold water. So I pulled the trigger and purchased a Hydro Flask, which I've had my eye on for awhile. I got the 18 oz for cupholder fit and portability, and purchased the straw lid to facilitate one handed drinking (this was cheaper at our local Dicks Sporting Goods than on Amazon). I can lay it on the couch next to me and it doesn't leak and my water is always cold! I'm still struggling to drink enough water during the day so I'm contemplating buying the 32 oz to keep at home so I don't have to deal with refilling as much.
-Breast pump - I wasn't anticipating needing the pump as early as I did. I ended up pumping colostrum in the hospital to hopefully avoid needing to supplement with formula again. After my milk came in, I needed the pump to help with engorgement. I've used it to pump for bottles so we can make sure Lewis continues to take a bottle. And of course I'll need it when I go back to work! I chose the Spectra S2, which is a relatively unknown pump. It's hospital grade and a closed system (milk doesn't get in the tubing). I think it's Korean and just recently started selling in the US. All the reviews I read raved about it and said it was a step above the popular Medela pump. Its claim is that it is more gentle and better at mimicking an infant's suckle. I don't have anything to compare to, but I really like it!
-Breastfeeding app - I didn't realize the nurses at the hospital would need to know when he ate and for how long, and when he pooped and peed. They gave me a paper chart to use but obviously an app would be easier to keep up with. I use "Glow Baby" and it's great. The home menu allows you to easily track breast and bottle feeding, wet and dirty diapers, and sleep with the tap of a button. For breastfeeding and sleeping, you can manually enter the time, or use a timer through the app. Nowadays, I mainly use it for the breastfeeding because it's easy to lose track of how long it's been since he's eaten. I also use it for the dirty diapers now since he's been going a few days without one and it's easy to forget how long it's been since he pooped!
-Video monitor - I use to roll my eyes about video monitors - "Parents have been raising babies for thousands of years without video monitors, parents these days just need to calm down!" Yeah... It's amazing what changes when you're a parent. I planned on keeping Lewis in our room for at least the first few months of his life, but I quickly found out that I could not sleep with him in there. Babies make a lot of noise in their sleep! You already don't get much sleep with a newborn, so you really need to be able to sleep when the baby is sleeping. We moved him to his own room after all of our guests left, at about five weeks. But moving him to his own room that early made me nervous! The video minor lets me see him and know that he's ok while giving me some space to help me sleep soundly while he's sleeping at night. We borrowed this monitor and I'm trying to decide whether to buy it or this one.
-Recliner - I didn't think I would want a recliner because they are so big and his room is so small! But I soon realized I would greatly benefit from a comfy chair! I looked at a few different types of chairs (gliders, rockers, and recliners) and the recliner definitely won out because I can fall asleep in it. It keeps me comfy for rocking him to sleep at night and during nighttime feedings, and if he's having a hard time sleeping, I can recline with him in my chest and we can both sleep

-Kindle app- I always have my phone while I'm nursing, and when you're checking Facebook, instagram, and your blog reader every couple hours, not much is changing, especially in the middle of the night. The kindle app lets me read a book in the dark! I use this less now that he nurses quicker, but this is really the main way I could read a book, since I can do it while holding baby boy.
- Coconut oil - this has come in handy for multiple things. It was first recommended for sore nipples. I didn't really care for the Lansinoh brand lanolin cream. It's really thick and kind of hurt to apply. Plus it seemed to weird Lewis out. The coconut oil is easier to apply and safe and natural and didn't seem to bother Lewis. I also had some intense...ahem... chafing from wearing huge pads for days on end and the coconut oil helped immensely with that. Finally, Lewis gets dry skin on his forehead, and you're not supposed to use lotion on their faces, so coconut oil it is!

Thursday, September 29, 2016


I didn't transition into motherhood very gracefully. I cried A LOT. Sometimes because I was worried about Lewis right now.. Is he getting enough to eat? Are we taking care of him? Is he cold/hot? Sometimes because I was worried about Lewis in the future... what if he gets sick? What if we lose him? What if he makes bad choices? Sometimes because I was worried about my future... what if I get sick? What if I don't live to see him grow up? Very dramatic, huh?  I felt a lot of anxiety in the first weeks too. Not all the time, but almost once a day, and usually in the evenings, it would hit me and I would feel very out of control and panicky. When we took him to his first pediatrician appointment I felt extremely anxious about him getting sick from the waiting room. I felt like I was already at capacity in my life in terms of what I could handle, and the thought of him getting sick panicked me.  One day, Greg and I went on a short walk downtown, and whenever we passed strangers, I felt so scared that they were going to do something to us. Fortunately, the anxiety quieted down within the first two weeks.

The main thing I struggled with was this total shift in my life, the realization that the quiet, simple, selfish life of just a few days prior was over. I was so tightly tied to this little person who depended on me so completely for his survival. I couldn't just decide I needed a nap or needed to go to bed or needed to run an errand whenever I wanted to. I felt like I couldn't do ANYTHING because I was so tied to his feeding schedule. Hmm... no time to go take a shower cuz he'll need to eat again in 30 minutes. It no longer mattered what I wanted, because I would do anything for that little man, to keep him happy, even at my expense.  I mourned my old life heavily, and this new life felt so hard. I knew that having a baby would be a lot of work, but knowing it and living it are two very different things. I had no idea the emotional toll it would take on me. I am a creature of habit and I thrive off my routine. It was so hard for me to adjust to a life of total unpredictability.

I was even emotional about how emotional I was being. I had looked forward to being a mom for so long... Why was I not enjoying it? Was I wrong to think I wanted to be a mom? I had these ideas of having at least 3 kids, but I honestly couldn't fathom ever doing this again. Was this family I imagined not going to happen because I was so not cut out to be a mom? I really struggled with why I was struggling so much and what it meant about me.

I saw other women who were still pregnant talk about how they couldn't wait to have their babies and I just wanted to shout "stay pregnant as long as possible! This sucks, avoid it as long as you can!"

It took several weeks until I started to feel anywhere close to normal. I'd say at 5 weeks postpartum I've only started feeling better in the last week or so.

Lewis has already grown so much in the past 5 weeks, but I honestly can't say that I want time to slow down. He's tiny and adorable, and I love that, but knowing that the newborn stage will end is the only thing that keeps me going sometimes. I'm not sure anyone talks very openly about how awful the newborn stage is, we all just share adorable picture that make it seem like it's all rainbows and sunshine. Maybe some people really do think it is rainbows and sunshine. But for me, it's been extremely hard, discouraging, and generally unpleasant. Don't get me wrong, I won't trade this time in because it means we have Lewis in our life. But I have to admit it's generally been pretty unpleasant.

There are happy times. When he is awake and focusing and looks me in the eye. When he wakes up at night to eat and I marvel at his tiny little bottle that I am sustaining. When is sleeping so adorably, with his hands always up by his face. When he's sleeping on my chest and I feel so proud to be providing the peace and comfort he needs. I'm feeling a lot more in control of my emotions, a lot more adjusted to my new life, a lot happier. But, it's still extremely difficult!

Lately what I struggle with is lack of sleep (it's hard to feel like I have the energy to do everything it takes to try to keep a fussy Lewis happy when all I can think about is sleep) and a minor lack of identity (I feel like I don't have much to say about my day when Greg comes home from work. But I feel like myself, I'm not crying everyday anymore, and I'm figuring out this new life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The hospital stay

We stayed in the hospital all day the 20th and 21st and were ready to check out around noon on the 22nd. I loved the hospital we were at and truly appreciated all of my nurses. Everyone was so kind and helpful and I really felt taken care of. They got me out of bed the evening of the 20th and I sat in a recliner and had dinner, before getting back in bed. Because I was bed bound, Greg was on diaper and swaddle duty and he did great! I loved seeing him with his son, I could tell he loved being a father already, and loved this little guy.

 The next morning, they took my catheter out and told me to call them when I needed to use the restroom, so they could help me out of bed. After successfully getting out of bed at that point, they told me I was free to get up on my own.

I'd read that moving around soon after a c section is really helpful with recovery so I tried to get up regularly. We walked around the maternity unit, I walked in my room, etc. The immediate aftermath of the c section wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I never needed any prescription pain medications once what they gave me through the epidural wore off, I just took Motrin and Tylenol. I was grateful to be in a hospital bed that inclined and reclined for me so I didn't have to lift myself up from laying down to feed him or get out of bed. At some point, the doctor came to check on me and took the dressing off my incision, which shocked me. I couldn't believe the incision would just be exposed from there on out! Once the incision uncovered and they took out the iv, I was able to shower, which was a nerve wracking experience. The nurses told me I was a model c section patient because I got up and walked frequently :)

Lewis was a sleepy little guy in the hospital. The first time I fed him, he latched and sucked for quite awhile. After that, he was constantly showing the hunger cues, but wouldn't really wake up to eat. That was challenging for me because I felt like I was constantly trying to feed him. Eventually, the sound of him sucking on his fingers would make my toes curl, cuz I knew it meant I needed to try feeding him again! But looking back, I'm glad I persevered and kept trying to feed him on demand because I think it was really important in helping my milk come in after the c section.

We had to feed him an ounce of formula in the hospital because he didn't pee in his first 24 hours. That broke my heart and scared me that he would prefer a bottle over me, but luckily he didn't show any signs of confusion.  Lewis barely ever cried, only when he was being disturbed, like a diaper change or something. He liked to be held and Greg and I were more than happy to snuggle him!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Birth Story

The obgyn, Dr. Peterson, scheduled the turning procedure for Saturday, August 20th, at 8 am, so we had a somewhat firm date for when baby would be here. If the procedure was successful, I'd be induced and likely have the baby the 20th or 21st. If it wasn't successful, I was already going to be in the OR, with an epidural, and baby was full term, so Dr. Peterson would just do the c section right then and there. I did not like knowing the date - it kind of stressed me out! I slept great my whole pregnancy up until when we knew the date because I started feeling really anxious.

When we checked in at the hospital that morning, they immediately got me hooked up to monitors, signing consents and answering medical history questions. I got an iv and they started fluids before the epidural. The epidural wasn't bad at all. I felt some of what the anesthesiologist called "zingers" down my tailbone, but it didn't hurt at all and it felt so cool when he pushed the medicine in haha. My legs also felt really cool, like I was floating on a cloud.

They rolled me into the OR at about 9. It felt weird to be getting rolled into the OR when baby and I were perfectly healthy. The turning procedure was quite unpleasant. I was very grateful for the epidural! Dr. Peterson did not hold back, she dug right in and pushed HARD. I got really light headed cuz she was kind of pushing up into my lungs so the anesthesiologist gave me oxygen. They tried turning him one way and he wasn't budging, so they took a break and checked his heart rate and he was doing fine. They tried turning him the other way and he wouldn't budge and his heart rate dropped to 70. They rolled me on my side and his heart rate recovered perfectly. Dr. Peterson asked us if we wanted her to try again. She said he wasn't budging, but she could try again, but he did go into distress and there's no way of knowing why. Greg and I felt like there wasn't a good enough chance that he would turn for us to run the risk of trying again. That was a hard decision to make cuz I knew what I was really deciding was whether or not I was going to have a c section right then and there.

We said not to try again, and it was go time. Tons more people came into the OR and they moved me to the operating table. I started getting really emotional, not because I was disappointed in the outcome, but because I knew we were moments away from meeting our little one.

The c section was also rather unpleasant. You're numb but you can feel things moving around. I felt when they pushed down on my tummy to push him out of the incision. He cried immediately and they let Greg peek over to see if he was a boy or a girl. He was a beautiful, perfect baby boy. They wiped him down and immediately brought him to my chest, where he stopped crying immediately. That was an amazing feeling!

It took them about 20-30 min to finish sewing me back up. I just remember wanting it to be over. At one point I got really nauseous. They took Lewis away to weigh and measure and I started dry heaving. The anesthesiologist gave me some medicine that helped a lot. He told me the reason I was feeling sick is that they took my uterus outside of my body to see it back up and now they were putting it back in. Yikes!

As a side note, my anesthesiologist was incredible. He honestly made the experience for me. He stood by my head the whole time, spoke calmly and reassuringly to me, patted my shoulder and head, and responded to my every  need. I was so incredible grateful for him, and I was glad I got to see him later in the day so I could thank him for everything he did for me. I cannot imagine what it would have been like without him, I think I would have felt a lot more panicked and sick.

Once I was feeling better and Lewis was weighed and measured, they gave him back to me and wheeled us back to our room. It was over! He was here! I had a c section! So crazy to process.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Breech Baby

I'm pretty sure I know the day baby Palmer turned breech. I don't remember the exact date, but one night around 30/31 weeks, I got up to go to the bathroom and noticed pressure up in my ribs. Up until this point, he had been laying transverse (side to side) across the bottom of my stomach, so this was a new feeling! Of course I didn't know he was breech, but I knew he was in a different position.

My midwife checked for his head at my 32 week appointment by feeling around on my belly and told me he wasn't head down. This wasn't ideal, since most babies are head down by 32 weeks, but there was plenty of time and room for that to change. But, being the planner that I am, I started learning more about what that meant for our options and started preparing myself for the possibility of a c section.

Around 34 weeks, I started doing various stretches/exercises to encourage baby to turn head down. This included laying upside down on a reclined ironing board, bouncing on a birth ball, applying a cold compress to the top of my tummy and playing music to the bottom, etc. I also started seeing a chiropractor. Somehow it all felt very futile, he just didn't want to budge. It became kind of frustrating to know that this was all totally out of my control; there was no magic bullet for getting him head down. I also had hopes of at least attempting a natural childbirth through meditation and relaxation, which requires months of practice before birth and it was really hard to make myself practice knowing a vaginal delivery wasn't even possible unless baby was head down. 

As my pregnancy progressed, I started to talk more seriously with my midwives about our options. If we couldn't get baby head down, I would obviously have to have a c section. However, there is a procedure where they can attempt to turn the baby manually by pressing on his head and butt from the outside of my stomach. The midwives refer patients to a local obgyn for the procedure, and this local obgyn does the procedure at 39 weeks, with an epidural, in the operating room. The epidural makes sure mom's abdominal muscles are totally relaxed and being in the operating room helps in case anything goes wrong.

The doctor and my midwife both recommended induction if the procedure was successful, to avoid the risk of baby turning breech again, but mainly because my placenta was in the front and it was likely that it would suffer some trauma from the procedure. I had a hard time with that decision. I felt like my body wasn't ready to be induced and that it would be a long, stressful, potentially unsuccessful experience. I asked a million questions about induction but ultimately felt like I needed to trust their professional opinions. So this baby was likely going to be born by c section or by induction, neither of which was an ideal scenario to me.

There were a lot of emotions that I started processing at this time. Why wasn't my baby turning head down? What was I doing wrong? Why wouldn't I get to at least attempt the birth I always envisioned? My body couldn't get pregnant right and now it couldn't even prepare for delivery right.

It was hard to feel so helpless, but I told myself I wasn't going to let this ruin my birth experience. Baby was doing fine- he didn't care that he was breech. Either way, we were going to get him here, and there was no point getting upset about something I couldn't control.