Saturday, May 24, 2008

Such sweet sorrow...

Went to the pediatrician today with Charlie-bean. Had to bring a poop sample for the doc to take a look. Turns out poor Charlie had some blood in his poo and is a full fledged milk and soy intolerant little boy (the blood confirmed their suspicions).

That means that, while I was allowed to limit my dairy intake before, now I have to completely eradicate any trace of dairy (and soy) from my diet now in order to keep Charlie happy and healthy. Charlie's doctor may want to put him on a different formula yet again (more elemental) and that probably means more $$$. It motivates me even more to try and be successful with the breastfeeding.

Also added to the list of foods I'm not allowed to eat- anything from a cow (including beef), soy (obviously), chocolate-that brings a tear to my eye, caffienated anything, acidic fruits, most grains and nuts, spicy foods and pretty much every type of veggie I like (they are all too gassy for Charlie's tummy). Thinking it won't be hard to lose those last few pounds of pregnancy weight- because there's not much I can eat ha, ha! I'm starting to feel like a glutton for punishment.

I do have to say that despite all the obstacles we've hit, there is a silver lining for Mommy. I lost about 20lbs in less than two weeks- and I'm thinking I've lost more since I was last weighed at the docs, because my maternity jeans are getting looser.

Tonight I will be baking cookies with light olive oil instead of butter because I cannot go a day without the sweet, warm and chewy goodness of cookies.

My first 'Mom moment'

Yesterday was a long day since Charlie had had a tough night, the night before. His tummy is still adjusting to the new formula I've been supplementing with so he is up with painful gas and is mucousy/gaggy. In the morning I jumped in the shower and had Charlie set up in the bathroom, cozily nestled in his carseat. He started to fuss a bit mid way through my shower so I rushed to finish up and tend to him.

Last night as Joe and I were spending time playing with the baby I went to push a stray strand of hair behind my ear and I, err, felt something. I scratched my ear and looked in my hand to find a nice chunk of dial soap. I seriously had half a bar of soap stuck behind my ear. The real Mom moment: When I turned to Joe and said, "At least it's not spit up."

Eye of newt and toe of frog...

I want to be honest about my experience with breastfeeding (BFing) thus far. I'll preface this by saying I have desperately wanted to be successful at breastfeeding my baby exclusively, I had no idea how difficult that accomplishment could possibly be- and I'm not there yet.

The trouble for me began when I was not able to breastfeed Charlie immediately after my c-section. He fell into a deep 'slumber' after I came out of recovery and although I tried that night several times, he wasn't latching. The next morning Charlie was circumcised and was even more woozy. Around noon time I had a lactation consultant help me try again and this time we were somewhat successful, even though he was falling asleep every couple minutes. Although I had a setback when my pain got ahead of me and, not being aware that I had to request pain medication, I was a mess towards the early afternoon and most of the night.

The rest of my hospital stay I made sure I was available "on demand" for Charlie around the clock. I started to develop blisters on my nipples, but hearing stories from other women, I knew it would be painful so I just took it. Poor Charlie ended up spitting up some of his feedings because there was so much blood he had taken in.

We came home on Friday, May 2nd and I continued to try and nurse him around the clock. Friday night we settled in around 9:30 pm with Charlie in his bassinet beside me. At ten he was crying to eat so I nursed him for about a half hour, burped him and then put him down to rest. Fifteen minutes passed and he was crying again, and rooting like crazy so I put him on my other side and went for another half hour. This was how the whole evening played out from 10pm until 7am, he wanted to nurse.

I had read that newborns can 'cluster feed' to try and bring your milk in more and the lactation consultant told me he wouldn't eat if he wasn't hungry so I didn't stop him. Joe stayed up with me most of that night, but at about 3am I told him to get some rest. I remember Joe waking up at 5am and seeing me sway with Charlie in my arms at the edge of the bed. Joe said, "Oh no you're still awake," and then I burst into tears!

Saturday played out similarly with tons of feedings and at this point my breasts ached so badly I thought they might fall off. Sunday we kept Charlie up for most of the day and he slept better that night, but I was beginning to dread each feeding because the pain so white searing hot.

Monday we had our first pediatrician appointment and my group has a lactation consultant so she can in to visit with me as well. She took one look at my chest and told me that I needed to start pumping exclusively to allow myself to heal. In addition to that she told me I had multiple blockages and should see a therapist about it. The final blow was that poor Charlie had lost another ounce and I would need to start supplementing with formula. I left the office in tears feeling quite defeated- oh and with a prescrip for nipple ointment-oy.

I had the appointment for ultrasound therapy to clear out my blockages on Wednesday (between Monday and Wednesday I was still a mess physically with the pain and pumping around the clock was not helping with the extreme sleep deprivation). The only time they could fit me in was 7:15am in a town that was a half hour from our house. Totally insane but I was desperate for help so I went.

The therapist was extremely cruel to me. She berated me for showing up on time, saying I should have arrived at 7am to fill out paperwork and that she would not be able to give me a full treatment because of that. I had a breakdown (probably my 20th!) in the patient room and basically begged her to help me. If I wasn't so desperate to be out of pain I would have told her off. Looking back now I can't believe how awful she was, to a new mom in such a vulnerable position.

Anyways she gives me the treatment and what she calls is a "massage" after the treatment. Says it will be slightly uncomfortable. The word "massage" implies soothing and gentleness to me. This was much closer to a form of medieval torture. One of the worst experiences of my life. Again I digress...

This is where things start to get fuzzy for me, because, this journey as I have called it, has been marked with so many obstacles that I'd like to forget most of it. The pain continues, I call local La Leche League contacts, I have a lactation consultant make a house call, call the hospital nurse line and my pediatrician for help as well. The lactation consultant initially prescribes fenugreek and blessed thistle, two herbal supplements to help increase milk production. These, in addition to goat's rue (prescribed to me at a later time) are the reason for my post title. I felt like I needed to dance naked by a waning moon-wiccan style- to try and make this breastfeeding thing work.

In the interim of all of this Charlie proves to be both milk and soy intolerant, so the formulas he was on caused him a lot of grief as well and kept us up most nights (gagging, mucousy, painful gas). I felt and still feel awful for my poor baby, as he continues trying to adjust to the Alimentum formula and is having trouble.

I am now on domperidone (a prescription med) to try and up my milk supply, in addition to pumping around the clock. The pumping has been difficult and painful still because I haven't been able to find a "flange" that fits my breasts and that has led to chafing and yet more pain. Also, having to pump around the clock and then feed the baby, change the baby and feed myself and then start the cycle again takes up the whole day and doesn't leave much time for rest. So now you know why I have been incommunicado for quite a while.

I must say that there have been several times in this journey where I have wanted to quit because of the pain mostly. The pain I experienced from the c-section (which was pretty intense) pales in comparison to the pain I've had with BFing. Maybe it's also because it's coupled with a pain in my heart for this being so tough, something I wanted so desperately to work, to be able to bond with my sweet little boy and nourish him at the same time. I haven't given up yet, I keep thinking back on everything I've gone through so far.

I went to a post partum class at my hospital on Friday. It was great to get out and to talk with other women going through similar situations. I have to admit that I felt a pang of jealousy for those women though, because every single one of them breeastfed their baby at some point during the class. Although I also felt a bit of hope when one woman told me that she had to pump exclusively for 5 weeks and now was successfully breastfeeding exclusively. I hope I can be a success story too.

Charlie's Birth Story

I'm ashamed it took me this long to get Charlie's birth story up on my blog, but here it is, forgive the typos and long-windedness, I'm on minimal sleep here...

Sunday (April 27th) was a pretty uncomfortable day and I ended up spending most of the day laid out on the bed with Joe. I was having contractions but they were still not consistent in timing so I held off on calling the doctor - didn't feel like making another trip that would be a false alarm. We tried going to bed early but I woke up around 11 with pain and tightening, I was able to get myself back to sleep for a few hours and woken up again around 2 am. From 2 until about 6:30 I had stronger contractions at about 7 minutes apart and was pretty uncomfortable. Fell back asleep until 8 am and decided to give the doctor a call.

I called the office and let them know that I had been up most of the night with more painful contractions that had started to space out around 6 minutes apart and wanted to see if I could move my appointment up earlier in the day since it was scheduled for 2:45pm. The nurse mentioned she would rather speak to the doctor on call about whether I should actually go into the hospital, which shocked me a bit. She told me she would call back after speaking with him. I had already asked Joe to work from home so he was with me.

The nurse called me back pretty quickly and said my doctor wanted to have me checked at the hospital. In a state of semi-shock, because deep down in my heart I knew this was it, I finished getting ready for the day, blew out my hair and threw on a little make-up to make myself feel better. Joe helped out by cleaning out the dishwasher, taking the trash out, cleaning Malc's box out and straightening up. We made it over to the hospital at about 9:30 am and I was pretty uncomfortable.

The nurses "checked" me into a room in labor and delivery and set up the monitors to check the baby's heart rate and contractions. After putting in an IV with fluids and monitoring me for about a half hour it looked as though I was having regular contractions but not really "strong" enough. My doctor was in surgery so another doctor from my group came in and checked out how dilated I was. I was about 4 centimeters and 60% effaced at that point so he decided to break my water to make things progress faster. It was an extremely surreal experience to have my water broken for me, not a bit painful, but it just made reality set in for me that we were now not going to leave the hospital.

After my water broke the contractions came on every 11/2 to two minutes very strong and to a new level of pain that I had never explored before. They called the anesthiologist for my epidural and he came within a half hour, thank god. Epidural went in perfectly, the doctor and nurse were amazing (no pain, my only concern was trying to sit still during a contraction). Joe stepped out to get something to eat while I had the epidural and came back with a pizza. I remember wondering to myself, why the heck he was having pizza for breakfast- little did I know it was already 12:30pm.

The epidural started to kick in after about ten minutes. I was able to relax a little bit and tried to take the advice of the nurse and have Joe and I get a little rest. I could still feel the pressure and tightening on my belly but, the pain was gone. After about an hour of contracting and watching HGTV (I couldn't rest!) my doctor came in to take how much I had progressed. He determined I was still only 4 cm dilated at that point- no progress. When he finished examining me we both noticed that I passed a large mass of tissue.

About a half hour after my doctor checked me I was watching the monitors for the baby. Suddenly the baby's heart rate declined. It had been averaging around 140 bpm. I watched as the rate continued to drop all the way down to 60 bpm. Joe and I looked at each other fearfully and I hit the call button. As I was pushing the call button my doctor and nurse came rushing into the room. They tried to reposition me on my side to get the baby's heart rate back up- no luck. They had me get on my hands and knees, and the heart rate seemed to improve ever so slightly (still less than 80 bpm).

My doctor told me that he thought a c-section was necessary as I was only 4cm dilated and they baby was showing signs of distress. He would have considered having me deliver vaginally if I were fully dilated. The nurse handed me release forms to sign and they wheeled me off to the OR. I couldn't believe how fast everything had happened; we had only arrived at 9:30 in the morning and were going to have this baby before 3pm. I wasn't able to absorb it all. Time seemed to lose it's meaning that whole day.

Poor Joe had to stand and wait in his scrubs, as he watched me pushed down the hallway. The doctors, nurses, and neonatologist were all wonderful to me as I was prepped.

Joe came in and my doc told he was going to get started. I remember him telling me that he was going to give me a "bikini line incision", very surreal when all I could think about was the baby. I jumped when they cut into me with the cautery pen (despite their checking to see if I was numb); they had to up the epidural. Within minutes I heard my doctor telling me the baby's head was out, then the shoulders, finally he announced, "It's a boy!" Joe and I looked at each other and simultaneously burst into tears and laughed from joy. Little Charlie was bellowing quite a cry himself.

Joe was able to hold him and brought him close to me, unfortunately I couldn't touch him because my arms were strapped down from the surgery. It took about a half hour from them to put me back together and then I was wheeled into the recovery room. My doctor then shared with me how his intuition had told him I wasn't going to be able to deliver vaginally. A little strange, seeing as I had had a dream Sunday night that I had to have a c-section because of the baby's declining heart rate. He also thought I might have had a placental abruption (the mass of tissue I had passed earlier in the day), and that could have been the cause for the sudden drop in Charlie's heart rate.

I wasn't able to nurse Charlie on the spot because of my time in the recovery room. My Mom made it to the hospital at that point and she was allowed to come back and see me. After about an hour I was wheeled down to the nursery and able to hold my little guy for the first time. Here's our first shot together :o)

Recovery was tough and slow going. I found out after the fact that Charlie was sunny-side up, which my doctor thinks added to his going under distress. I remember feeling him try to descend for a week before. I would feel a lot of pressure and pain and then he would travel north again and I would feel a little relief. Poor guy was trying!

I plan on sharing our breastfeeding ‘journey' in my next entry. For me, breastfeeding has been far more difficult than L&D and recovery. But we'll save that for another day.

Charlie has both Joe and I wrapped around his tiny finger ;o)

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned...

It has been way too long since my last post. I'm ashamed it's taken me so long to write up Charlie's birth sotry, but with all the obstacles we've hit with breastfeeding I've had no time to clean the house, let alone type! And I am neurotic about having a clean house.

Anyways, I promise to have the birth story up ASAP...

Can't help myself...

I plan on providing an update and lengthy post of my adventures in breastfeeding very soon. But until then, I just have to share this picture I shot of Charlie-bean while he was taking a nap on Daddy the other night.

Tips for New Moms

The past week or so I've been trying to jot down thoughts/ideas/tips that have worked for me to share with a dear friend of mine that is due in June. I decided to share these tips, because I know some of the ladies from BOTB check out my blog occasionally. If I can make someone else's transition into motherhood ever so slightly easier then it's worth the typing! Take what works for you and forget about the rest. Here goes:
  • Personally, for me it was more important to have help at home when we left the hospital than during labor and delivery and the hospital stay. L&D nurses are extremely supportive and perform most of the tasks of a doula and you have your husband also there for you. Postpartum nurses are angels, they will do everything to take care of you and make you as comfortable as possible. The environment you'll experience at the hospital will be so supportive and loving, so rest assured on that.
  • Take advantage of the nurses at the hospital and let them take the baby often to the nursery, you'll need your rest, don't feel guilty because you'll have the rest of your life to be with that baby- you need to take care of you right now. Back to my original point, if you can have a family member or even a nurse come to stay with you for at least a few days, do it. You'll need someone to make sure you are nourished, having time to heal and rest.
  • Have night lights and clocks in every room if you can, you will be up often at night and want to keep everything soothing and low key, and not have to turn on bright lights to change a diaper or go to the bathroom yourself. You'll need the clocks to monitor feeding times and diaper changes.
  • Joe created a log for me to stay organized on feedings and diaper changes- your pediatrician will want to know all this information each time you go for check-ups and it will help for you to know for your own sanity that you are on track with progress. The worksheet he set up had the day's date at the top and 6 columns with the following headings- Feedings: Start Time, Breast/Formula/Pump, Total Mins; & Diapers: Pee, Poo; and then an Other column just to jot any other notes/observations you may want. I use the other column to jot down how much I pump per breast, how much formula I gave him (since I've had to supplement).
  • Don't focus on buying onesies as much, in the beginning you'll want to use the side snap kimono tees and pants to give the umbilical cord less ‘trauma'/chafing. Also, it may freak you out to have to pull shirts over the baby's head at first.
  • Halo sleep sacks are the best thing since sliced bread, buy at least 5 of them in the newborn size. I only had one and had to wash it every day. I didn't feel comfortable swaddling Charlie in a blanket without a fastener/Velcro because I worried it would un-do and get near his face/nose and he would suffocate while I was sleeping. Yes my neuroses continue! But, honestly it will give you peace. And babies love being tightly wrapped despite the fuss they may give you initially when your pinning their arms down (gently).
  • Wake that baby up during the day every two to three hours and try to keep him awake for stretches of time during the afternoon and early evening. My little Charlie had his days and nights totally mixed initially and I did not get one wink of sleep the first two nights- I was a walking zombie. Making sure he is awake during the day I've been able to manage only three feedings/diaper changes in the middle of the night and clock in between 4 ½- 6 hours of sleep. Lots better than zero sleep. Ways to keep baby up- night time baths, taking his clothes off (just a diaper on) tickling his chest with a soft dry washcloth, tummy time (he'll need 30 mins off his back a day -good thing for Daddy to do to bond)- bear in mind he will cry, but crying in the day means he's awake and you will get sleep at night!
  • Crying will make you tense up and cringe initially- you won't want to hear your baby upset. It's actually good for them- their only way to communicate, so don't feel like you have to hurry/rush to calm the baby (I did). After a few days the crying won't make you want to cry!
  • Speaking of crying, feel free to do so at will- I have several mini melt-downs a day, it's to be expected, like tea kettle releasing a little pressure here and there-let your husband know it's totally normal and that he just needs to be super supportive and understanding and loving to you in those first days. The hormones will do it in addition to just feeling overwhelmed with the newness of everything. I was bawling my eyes out when we left the hospital, so don't feel like your crazy if the same happens for you. It will get better- that's been my mantra and it has proven true.
  • Have a bassinet or Pack-n-Play in your bedroom so the baby is beside your bed and you can check on him often. You won't feel comfortable being away from your little one in the beginning and have a low light flashlight beside your bed so you can check on him whenever you feel the need.
  • Stock up on Fougera brand A&D ointment- it is amazing and I use it copiously on the circumcision and Charlie's bum. The "Original" Brand A&D ointment (darker red and yellow logo) is yellow in color and will make it extremely difficult for you to determine if it's pee in the diaper or just extra ointment. Made it hard for me. Speaking of pee and poo: a poo counts as a ½ dollar sized stain in the diaper to a full blow-out (those are fun Ha!) so make sure you count those little poos too.
  • If you're planning on breastfeeding make sure you bring your Boppy or breastfeeding support pillow with you to the hospital. The hospital pillows suck and don't provide enough support for your neck let alone breastfeeding (so bring a pillow you sleeping too.
  • Take acidophilus if you are BFing to help prevent Thrush and to help your digestive system recover from the L&D.
  • A simple calculation to determine how much food baby needs- 2 ½ x current weight=total oz feeding (either formula or breast milk per feeding) Divide that number by ten (for ten feedings in 24 hours) and that is how many ounces per feeding baby will need.
  • If you want to breastfeed I would recommend buying (Medela Pump in Style is fantastic)/renting a pump to have as soon as you return home. Everyone told me not to buy one, that it was unnecessary in the first month. The problems I ran into made it necessary for me to have one almost immediately so I was very happy I hadn't listened to others on that.
  • The Nursing Mother's Companion is a fantastic reference book. I've been using it daily.
  • Should you bottle feed baby, you may see him spit up a lot more, and even get a little mucousy spit up after a feeding. It's normal you may just need to burp him more often during the feeding.
  • Dr.Brown's are the best bottle/nipple combo if you need to do breast and bottle feeding to supplement- it has the slowest release that mimicks the breast more than any other brand-we found this out by trial and error.
  • It's also amazing how many bottles/burp cloths/side snap tops/wipes and diapers you need-buy in big quantities because you'll go through them fast.
  • Bring a nursing tank and comfy maternity yoga pants to the hospital. Since I had a longer stay with the c-section, it was a huge morale booster to be out of the awful hospital gown.
  • Speaking of the hospital, the pads are humongous! I brought my own maxis because they were more comfortable. And the panties they provide are a yucky mesh- very sexy ha! I brought my own black underwear, but I'm crazy particular about things like that.
  • Try to bring some of your favorite non-perishable snacks with you and pack in your hospital bag. It's easier to just have things handy in your room (I went to Costco and bought a pkgs of cookies, individual serving sizes of fruit leather, Combos cheese pretzels etc- you will need the calories-at least I did). It's also important to have the food on hand because you'll need to have something in your stomach to take your pain medication otherwise you'll be nauseous. If your pain meds are not in line with the scheduled delivery of your three main meals, then that could be a problem.
  • Speaking of pain medication, my hospital's Maternity Ward informed me that all medications were by request only, meaning they won't bring them to you every 4-6 hours etc- you must ask for them. I wasn't aware of this the day after my c-section and ended up getting behind the ball with the pain medication and it really threw me for a loop, was a very difficult day and night. You may want to check what your hospital does as a protocol.
  • Also know and inform your nurses immediately of what pain meds work and don't work for you. They wanted to give me percoset and that makes me vomit so we had to try out a few other alternatives before finding the right one (for me it was Toradol).
  • A few other things not to be concerned about-my doctor decided to break my water to move the labor along, it did not hurt at all- was a bit shocking to me ha, but I didn't feel a bit of pain. The contractions after your water breaks are much more intense and I will say painful, so make sure you have that anesthesiologist on the way. Just breath and know your getting closer and it will be over soon and you'll get to meet your baby :o)
  • The epidural was completely painless for me, so do not have any concerns about that. You can even jump (I did as a reflex in anticipation- not pain) and be ok. Once the epidural is set up it will take about 7 minutes to fully take effect, you may feel hot cold or tingly- all totally normal. I only felt a tightening or pressure with my contractions after it took effect, absolutely no pain whatsoever. All I have to say is thank God for epidurals -and women who choose to go without are amazing.
  • Not sure if you've had to have internal exam yet or not at your OB, but those were totally painless also, I spotted a little after some of the later ones, but they were pain free.
  • Let the house go to crap initially -I didn't let go and should have because it hampered my recovery. Let that helper or your husband attend to the crazy amounts of laundry and giving the pets extra attention, you will need to focus only on you and the baby initially.
  • It's totally normal to feel overwhelmed at first, each day you will build a little more confidence in yourself and your abilities.
Pet Tips
  • Know in your heart that your pets will be ok with a little less attention. My Malc is adjusting fine. He's plumped up a bit from all the treats I've given him out of guilt ha, but I have found some time each day to be with him and pet him (and that's with having to make doctor appointments and pump 8 times a day- which is extremely time consuming) Remember you're home all day and that is a lot more time with him even if it's not "face time." That will provide him comfort.
  • Speaking of pets, make sure you have a tent/canopy/cover for the baby's crib and bassinet, I was na├»ve thinking we could hold off on that and we had to lock Malc out of the bedroom for five days which gave me more guilt that I didn't need.
I had fears about not bonding with the baby while I was pregnant- When we were in the OR and the doctor told us "It's a boy!" and I saw him in Joe's arms I fell totally in love with him. In the days that followed that love grew even more, so don't be fearful of that. Know that even if you do feel a little less connected that it grows in time. Just know you're stronger and more capable than you think :o)

The bean has arrived!

Today is my due date, but someone decided to come a week early ;o) I haven't had enough time to complete the bean birth story, but thought I would share a picture and the stats.

Charles Joseph arrived into the world on April 28, 2008 at 2:48 pm. Little Charlie is 6 lbs 12 oz, 20 inches long and absolutely perfect. I feel incredibly blessed that God gave me this beautiful, sweet little boy. More to come...

Bean set to arrive today.

More details to follow.................

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