Saturday, October 17, 2015

9 Months

9 Month Check-in

Weight: 18 lbs 10 oz. He only gained half of a pound in a month and he dropped down a bit percentile-wise, but his doctor said not to worry. The important thing is that he is gaining!

Height: 29.5 inches 

Hair: Still rocking the mullet comb-over, still a little blondie


Sleep: Another month in sleep hell  for us! I had flashbacks to our rock bottom four months ago. It's been the perfect storm over here - separation anxiety, teething, leaps. On our worst night it took me two hours to get him back to sleep, then he woke up two hours later and it took me another two and a half hours to get him down again. Fun. Most nights aren't that bad. It's tough with the teething because he gets super clingy. Sometimes I just give up and we sleep in bed together. We manage to get 5-7 hours blocks of sleep that way. In better news, he's been napping well! His first nap has jumped from 30-45 minutes to 60-90 and his second nap went from 25-40 minutes to 45-90. I'll take it!

Milestones: 1) He got his third tooth (Did he have that last month? I forgot to record it in his baby book.). He currently has three more coming through but they're taking their sweet time. 2) Still working on standing, but he can hold it for longer stretches. 3) He's taken a few steps. I definitely wouldn't call it walking, but they were really steps not just diving falls. 4) He waves! This actually happened at 9 months 3 days, but whatever, I'm putting it here. The first time he did it, he waved hi to my dad on Skype and it was like he'd been waving his whole life.  Then later that night, he waved bye to Seth at bedtime.

Likes: Reading, his dogs, skeletons (Halloween decorations), scrambled eggs, puffs, his snuggle bunny doll and book, swimming/bath time, club soda, drinking club soda out of mom's cup, birds   

Dislikes: I don't even need to change this one. Still hates - HATES - having his diaper changed and getting dressed. Also hates raspberries and kiwis.

What's going on: The biggest change has been with E's eating. We changed formulas and it has made a dramatic improvement. He eats! He finishes every bottle that I offer! I don't have to worry anymore! I'm not sure if he prefers the taste or if he knows this formula doesn't bother him, but something makes him like this one better. It has been an enormous relief for me. It used to be a battle to get him to eat 1 or 2 oz and now he will eat 6-7 oz in just a few minutes. He still spits up a lot, but it doesn't matter because he's eating enough.

We also stopped breastfeeding. It's been two weeks since he last nursed. My heart is still broken. It was hard, really hard. Probably more so for me than for E. I miss it so much. If I think about it, I start crying. I hate that I felt like I had to stop earlier that I wanted to. I hate that I felt like I was stuck with shitty options because of my endo (1. keep nursing, but stay on the mini pill and go crazy, 2. stop nursing and try different BC that doesn't make you crazy, 3. stop nursing and try to get pregnant). But this is how it is. I'm sure I'll feel better eventually. E seems okay. He sometimes tries to latch onto my chest and his new comfort mechanism is to put his hand down my shirt (fun), but overall I think he handled it well. Still. I'm sad. Did I mention that already?

What's Next: E will have to go in for his second flu shot next month and then hopefully he won't need to be seen again until his 12 month (12 month?!?) well visit. I've already started planning his first birthday party. We're going with the "Winter Onederland" theme. I'm making the invitations and decorations and I found a winter theme clip art set on Etsy with a little husky dog. I'm so pumped!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

8 Months

8 Month Check-in
I'm on time! E was completely unimpressed with my attempts at a cute photo this month. Ah well. We tried.

Weight: 18 lbs

Height: Still 29 inches

Hair: His mullet-hawk is getting extra long. We have to do a full on comb-over after his baths.

EyesI think they'll probably stay blue at this point, right?

Sleep: Not bad. Most nights he sleeps 4-7 hours, wakes to eat once and then sleeps until morning. The other nights, he will wake a second time. I'm happy with this and he seems to be doing well. We are having some trouble with separation anxiety, but that's just something he'll grow out of eventually. 

Milestones: It was another big month for E. Actually, he sort of crammed it all into one week. 1) He finally started doing a proper on-all-fours crawl. 2) He learned to go from his belly to a sit position. 3) He figured out how to stand in his crib. 4) He says "mama" all the time now and he knows that it means me! I have been waiting 3 years for that moment and it's exactly as amazing as I imagined it would be. 5) He can free stand on his own for a few seconds at a time.

Likes: I think his two favorite things are reading and his dogs. I love the reading because it means we can sit still for 20 minutes. I also love that he loves the dogs and I love that they love him. He likes to chase them and let them lick his hands. Binks and Bear hate when he cries and they'll start howling whenever E gets upset. It's awesome.

Dislikes: Still hates - HATES - having his diaper changed and getting dressed. I don't know if it's PTSD from when he had horrible diaper rash or what. It's challenging though.

What's going on: Things are pretty good. We're still struggling with the eating most days, but we have had two awesome days in a row so I'm not going to dwell on it. It seems that E will eat when he's hungry so I just need to relax about it. I'm doing everything that I can. He will be fine. 

Things are going really well for me too in terms of the PPD/PPA. I have been feeling really good lately. I've made a big effort to get more involved in my local mom group and I actually met a few other girls (women? ladies? what are we?) that have babies around E's age. It's been really nice to have plans to look forward to and people to talk to. I also stopped taking the pill and I've been weaning very gradually. I think both of those things have also helped a lot as well. 

What's Next: For E, next up will be his 9 moth appointment. For me, well....

My cycle is back! We went to see Dr. M back in August to talk about what we need to do to prepare for a FET. He recommended that I wean and said that as soon as my cycle is back, I can call him and we can get started. I'll need to do one month of testing (blood work, trial transfer, etc) and then we're good to go. Right now, Seth and I are thinking that we'll sit this cycle out and then get started with testing on the next cycle. As long as things are fairly regular, that would mean we'd be doing a FET in November. I'm happy with that. I'd be happy to start sooner, but I think this will be good. It means I don't have to rush to completely wean. I can nurse for at least one more month and then possibly during the testing cycle as well. That would put us at 9.5 months which is way longer than I ever thought I'd be able to keep doing this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

7 Months

7 Month Check-in
Weight: We went to the pedi for a sick visit and E was 16 lbs 15 oz. Not a huge gain, but a gain! 

Height: 29 inches! Height-wise he's almost growing out of his 9 month sleepers.

Hair: Still rocking the mullet-hawk. And still looking like a little blondie.

EyesBeautiful blue

Sleep: Mostly awesome. E is still sleeping for decent stretches and still waking about twice a night. However, the past week was a nightmare. We were back to waking up every two hours. Sometimes more frequently, sometimes less but he never slept more than 2.5 hours. I think it was because of the second tooth. The first one was no big deal, but this one caused a shit show due to teething. Possibly. See below.

Milestones: So many! 1) E can army crawl and inch worm. He gets up on all fours, but he has no idea what to do with his arms once he's there. He tries to move forward with just his legs but it doesn't work so he drops back down to his belly and moves on. 2) He got his first two teeth! 3) E said his first "word"! He can say ba ba. He also said his second word - da da. WTF E. That's messed up. Don't you know who gets up with you all night? He has no idea what they mean though. 4) He can pull himself up into a stand. Such a stong little guy!

Likes: Still loves reading, standing, his anchor teether, his doggies, trying to claw his mama's face off, being carried, listening to music, swimming and eating (pears, prunes and peas are favorites)

Dislikes: Still dislikes drinking and getting dressed, doesn't really care for sitting in his car seat on the plane

What's going on: Ugh. This month was tough. E is being so difficult about eating. Depending on how well he sleeps, I am nursing 2-6 times a day. He gets 4 bottles of formula each day. I try to give him 24 oz of formula a day because that is the minimum recommended for a baby who eats solids and we rarely come close to that. He usually only eats 2 oz at a time which is ridiculous for a 6-7 month old. I consider it a good day if we hit 20 oz, but usually it's more like 12-15 oz. It's possible that E is getting more breast milk than I think, but because he's small and still spitting up a ton we tried reflux meds. 

Things started getting a little better. He would have good days and bad days, but he was still spitting up a lot. After his first tooth came in, we decided to stop the meds to see if it had just been a teething problem. Pretty much right after that is when hell week started and his second tooth came through. It's so frustrating. Was he in pain and sleeping like shit because we stopped the meds or because of the tooth? It's impossible to know. We decided to start the meds again. I guess we'll just do 2-3 weeks on the meds and then 2-3 weeks off to see if we can figure it out.

What's Next: Next up is the 9 month appointment in October.

6 Months

Just a little bit late. I'm trying to catch up. I'd love to be able to show this to E someday.

6 Month Check-in
Weight: E was 16 lbs 12 oz. I think that was close to the 30th percentile! 

Height: 28 inches long. He's so tall!

Hair: He has an awesome fauxhawk or upside mullet. It still looks brown sometimes, blond other times.

Eyes: Still blue

Sleep: This has been the best month yet. E typically sleeps 4 hours or more for his first stretch and then he's only been waking 2 twice before getting up around 7:30. He's really good about going to bed too. It's been amazing - such a huge change from the past two months.

Milestones: He's been a pro at sitting for awhile. As soon as he learned to sit, he started trying to stand. He's very good at standing if I help prop him up against the sofa or a table.

Likes: Reading, trying to stand, his anchor teether, eating (sometimes)

Dislikes: Drinking (bottle or breast), getting dressed, having his diaper changed

What's going on: The biggest thing going on this past month was that E started eating solids (just oatmeal) and sleeping so much better. Unfortunately, he does not tolerate the oatmeal well. He's a very sensitive little boy (wonder where he gets that). It makes him constipated and gives him a terrible diaper rash. The doctor said that the oatmeal changes the acidity of poop. That's exactly what the rash looks like - an acid burn. Poor E. Luckily it clears up pretty quickly as soon as we stop the oatmeal. 

What's Next: Next up is the 9 month appointment in October.

Monday, June 15, 2015

5 Months

5 Month Check-in
Weight: E was 13 lbs 12 oz at his 4 month checkup. Since we've started combo
feeding/supplementing, he has definitely gained weight. I kind of want to take him in for a weight check to reassure myself that we're on the right track, but really there's no denying that he's doing well right now.

Height: I measured him last week and he's up to 27.5 inches - 96th percentile!

Hair: Still coming in. It always looks different - blond, light brown, strawberry did I get a blond baby?

Eyes: Blue like his papa!

Sleep: Getting better! We're having more good nights mixed in with the bad. I am afraid to jinx it but it looks like the napping strike might be coming to an end!

Milestones: When he was 4 months old, I predicted that he would be sitting by 5 months since he seemed so interested in it. But nothing happened. Then last weekend, he suddenly got the hang of sitting propped on his hands. Within a week he was sitting on his own! He's still wobbly, but he can sit without his hands and he can even reach for and play with toys. It's so much fun!

Likes: Rolling, sitting, "standing", bath time, middle of the night parties, his dogs, his outdoor swing, reading

Dislikes: Getting dressed, rolling from front to back

What's Next: We don't really have anything going on until his 6 month appointment in mid-July. Until then we'll just be hanging out having fun. We'll be taking E on his first beach vacation in two weeks and I can't wait for that!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Survival Mode

Holy shit. These past 3-4 weeks have been a nightmare. Which is funny because nightmares typically require sleep. There has been very little sleep in our home recently.

This rough patch started right after E learned to roll at 15 weeks. We had to ditch the swaddle before he was ready and it was really tough on him. He still had a strong startle reflex. It was so hard to get him down to sleep because he would wake up right away. At the worst point, he was waking up every 30-60 minutes. We would end up holding or rocking him for over an hour trying to get him into a deep enough sleep to lay him back down.

About two weeks later, E went on a napping strike. He really only naps for 30-50 minutes. A nap longer than an hour is a rare treat. I have no idea how to help him. We've tried everything - nursing to sleep, going in the crib awake, wrap sacks, zipadeezips, sleepers, sleep sheep, white noise - nothing gets him past that 50 minute mark consistently. It's tough because he's overtired and I end up spending 12 hours alone with a cranky baby.

At some point, I lost it. I had a breakdown. Seth knew I had finally reached some limit, so he took off work to stay home with me. My mom made plans to fly down to be with me for a few days. I made an appointment to talk to my doctor about PPD/PPA.

I knew something wasn't right, but I wasn't sure if it was PPD/PPA. I thought it was probably just situational depression - I'm beyond exhausted and so, so lonely without any family within 1200 miles. But that one morning, the morning that I lost it, I knew that something wasn't right. I wasn't handling the every day things the way that I should be. I was getting so overwhelmed and frustrated with the littlest things and that was making the bigger things even more difficult to handle. I've seen my doctor twice now and it has helped. I'll keep seeing her as needed.

We also had E's 4 month appointment. His doctor was not impressed with his weight or weight gain. He had been at the doctor's a week before this appointment, so we knew that he had no gained an ounce. He also had not doubled his birth weight yet. They encouraged me to supplement with a little formula, but I was really resisting it. We worked so hard to breastfeed and I wasn't ready to accept that it wasn't working. However, after I talked to my doctor about the PPD/PPA, something clicked. I realized that breastfeeding was contributing so much to my anxiety. I was constantly worried that E wasn't eating enough, that something wasn't right. I was finally ready to accept that it might not be best for us.

Luckily, we found a formula that E will tolerate. At first, I was just going to go cold turkey but I didn't even get a few hours into it before I changed my mind. I still wasn't ready to let it go. I decided that I would try doing formula during the day and nurse at night. That's what I'm doing now. My new plan is to just keep doing that as long as my body keeps up.

I think that I made the right decision. I can see the difference in E. He sleeps better. Not good, but better. He's gaining weight! He just looks healthier. It's probably not something that anyone else would notice, but I see the difference. I don't know what the problem was. Maybe I had a low supply (I don't think so). Maybe he was never able to get a good latch and it was just too much work for him. I'll never know and I will always wonder what happened.

Even though I think it's for the best, I'm still very sad that nursing is coming to an end for us. I cry often. It's bringing up a lot of feeling I had before E was born. I'm angry at my body. I'm bitter that I have to add to the list of things my body is supposed to do but doesn't. I'm starting to hate hearing people talk about breastfeeding the same way I hated hearing about honeymoon, cycle 1 and condom babies. I know that breastfeeding advocates think that almost all problems are in your head or can be fixed by a lactation consultant. It really bugs me that anyone could think I didn't try hard enough for my son. Bullfuck. I've had plenty of opportunities to prove that I would and will do whatever it takes for him. I know that I did everything in my power to make it work. Continuing to breast feed exclusively would have been for me, not for E. Anyone who doesn't believe that can suck it.

For now, I'm just trying to get through one day and night at a time. On a good night, E will only wake every 3 hours, nurse and go right back to sleep. On a bad/regular night, he's up every 1.5-2 hours plus an hour long party between 2 and 4 AM. It sucks but, like they say, it won't be like this forever. Sleep deprivation is torture but it will pass. The memories I have of nursing E at night and watching the contented look on his face as he snuggles into my arms, so happy and safe, will be with me forever.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

4 Months

I can't believe it's been 4 months since E was born. I still think about that day all time because I don't ever want to forget any of the details.

I am so in love with him and grateful for every second that I spend with him, but these past 4 months have definitely been full of ups and downs. Some things are better (breastfeeding and sleeping) and some things are getting worse (loneliness and anxiety, for me). I'm doing my best to take it one day at a time and focus on all of the amazing things happening in E's life.

4 Month Check-in
Weight: He doesn't have his 4 month visit until next week, but I think he's at least 13.5 pounds. Maybe even 14. It seems like he's finally growing really well. We just moved up to the 3-6 month clothes!

Height: I measured him as 25.5 - 26 inches long. He's a tall little boy!

Hair: It's finally starting to grow! Looks like it's a light reddish brown.

Eyes: They're like a denim blue and they look gray in some lights.

Sleep: Oh my gosh. Weeks 12-15 were pretty much a nightmare. He was waking up every 60-90 minutes almost every night and only getting about 6-7 hours total. This past week, we've had more good nights than bad (nursing 2-3 times, 9-10 hours of sleep) so I'm hopeful that that phase is coming to an end. For now.

Milestones: E rolled over from front to back at 13 weeks. I was so proud! At 15 weeks, we could tell that he was really trying to roll back to front. He was getting so frustrated and ended up finding his feet instead. The next day, I put him on the floor to change his diaper and he flipped right over to his belly! This time I was more horrified than proud. We were trying unsuccessfully to transition out of the swaddle and this meant we'd have to go cold turkey. Thankfully, the merlin sleepsuit is working for us because he is a little rollie pollie!

Likes: Rolling, his bunny blanket, sitting upright, mom, his puppy brothers

Dislikes: Laying down/reclining, getting dressed, getting strapped into his car seat

What's Next: E will have his 4 month visit and next round of vaccines next week. Hopefully he handles it well. I'm really looking forward to seeing how much he weighs. Breastfeeding is going pretty well now and we're supplementing with a little formula once a day (helps with my anxiety SO much) so I'm hopeful that he finally jumped above the 25th percentile.

I have no idea what E will learn to do next, but I bet he'll be sitting on his own by 5 months. Maybe he'll grow some more hair too.

Monday, April 13, 2015

3 Months

I can't believe that E is three months old. It was one year ago this week that I started stimming for E's IVF cycle. I still can't believe how incredibly lucky we have been.  It's so weird. In some ways, I can't believe he's actually here and mine and in other ways I can't even remember what my life was like without him. Every day I am grateful to have him in my life.

E is doing so well. He's a long and skinny little peanut, but he's growing really well. He was 7 pounds 2 ounces at birth and at 12 weeks, he was 11 pounds 12 ounces! He's always "talking" and laughing and lately he's been trying to eat everything that he can get his hands on. We all survived his first cold and his first trip on an airplane! We're all settling into a pretty good routine and things are much less stressful at home.

E's favorite things: playing on his play mat, going for walks with his brothers, riding in his "big boy" stroller, "talking", taking baths, eating (especially in the middle of the night)

E's least favorite things: Hmm. There aren't too many things. He's a pretty happy guy. He doesn't really like it when the person holding him sits down. Doesn't really love tummy time either.

As for me, I'm still breastfeeding! I made it to 3 months, which was my revised goal. We went to the lactation consultant a few weeks ago and she identified a number of potential issues - vasospasms due to Raynaud's phenomenon, a strong letdown which probably caused/causes E to bite down and E has a high arched palate (like his dad). I also saw a dermatologist who confirmed that we do not have a yeast infection. I started treating the vasospasms with heating pads, but that's really all we could do. I think that my letdown/supply must have adjusted or maybe E just got better at handling it as he got bigger because things have really improved. My nipple is still fucked, but it really doesn't hurt that much when I'm nursing. I've been pumping less often so I'm wondering if maybe the pump has been a big part of the problem all along. Who knows? I'm so relieved that I was able to reach my goal. I think that E really enjoys nursing and I'm glad that I didn't have to take that from him (although he takes to the bottle pretty well too). I probably wouldn't have been able to do it if I didn't have such amazing support. Thank you to everyone!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Liquid Fucking Gold

I am so tired of hearing the phrase "liquid gold". If anyone mentions "liquid gold" to me again, they had better be talking about an ice cold beer.

In case you haven't heard, breast milk is referred to as liquid gold. I get it. It's the most healthy, most natural, most magical food you can give your baby. Fine. I don't disagree that breast milk is awesome. If I did, I wouldn't be putting myself through hell to make sure E gets it. But I believe the phrase "liquid gold" was designed to make women feel guilty. If breast milk is liquid gold, how could you possibly consider feeding your baby anything else? Even if you didn't have a choice in the matter, you hear that phrase and the implication is that what you're feeding your baby is just not as good.

We're still having a really shitty time with the breastfeeding. I won't go into all of the details, but it's been pretty awful. I spend most days in tears or in a state of panic. I'm still so angry that this is so difficult for us. I'm so sad that I'm not enjoying this with E. I'm terrified of feeding times. I spend so much time trying to decide when to pump, when to nurse, when to grab a bottle. I hate it. I know that I'm reaching the end of my rope, but I just keep trying to hold on no matter how miserable I am. All because of the lure of the liquid fucking gold.

If I'm honest with myself, I think that I will be much happier if I move on from the breastfeeding and start giving E formula. I won't be in pain. I won't have to worry about how much he is eating. I won't have to worry about when, where, how or what he is going to eat next. I believe that he will grow into a very happy and healthy boy if I feed him formula. I've seen so many other formula fed babies leading happy healthy lives. In fact, Seth recently found out that he was only breastfed for 2.5 months. He's a very happy, healthy guy. He's not obese, he doesn't have allergies and he's almost never sick. And he has a fucking PhD. Formula didn't ruin him. I guess we'll never know how glorious he would have been if he had been given liquid gold for the full first year, but I think he turned out just fine regardless.

Despite that, I just can't get myself to move on yet. I'm on a roller coaster. I'm determined to make it work. I convince myself that I'll figure it out, it will get easier. Then we hit a rough patch and I start spiraling back down. Then I tell myself that formula will be fine. I spend my free time researching formula and reading stories on Fearless Formula Feeder. I feel great. I'm going to make the switch and we'll be so happy. Then I feel my boobs fill up and I think - I have all of this liquid gold, I just need to get it to him. Just one more feed. Maybe it will be different. And then I start the cycle over again.

I'm supposed to go to the lactation center on Thursday, but I'm going to call in the morning to find out if they can see me sooner. I'm desperate. Either they will help me or I'll finally feel like I did everything I could to make it work. Hopefully I get one of the good consultants. If I get the anti-formula lady again, I will take a bottle of liquid gold and shove it up her ass.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Free Time!!

I feel like this is the first time in about two weeks that I've had access to both of my hands. Turns out babies are really needy!

First, I want to say thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement on my post about breastfeeding. I never got a chance to sit down at the computer to respond to each of you, but I read each comment (more than once) and it meant so much to me.

E is about 6.5 weeks now! He's awesome. He's spending more time awake and he loves to smile and play on his activity mat. He's getting pretty good at his little push-ups during tummy time. He's also super nosy and he loves to lean back and just stare at my face, which I absolutely love <3

Like I said, I haven't had much free time the past two weeks. Things have been a little rough. The sleep deprivation is really hitting me. E rarely sleeps more than 2 hours at a time and often it's less than 2 hours. During the day, he usually refuses to nap in his crib. It's hard to find time to eat or shower. I'm usually home by myself for 11+ a hours a day and it's really lonely. When Seth gets home, he takes the baby but I spend my "free time" making dinner and doing laundry. Around dinner time, I start to get anxiety about getting through another night with little sleep.

The other big problem has been the breastfeeding. Things were going so well and then all of sudden last week we started having issues again. E fusses and wiggles around while he's eating and my nips are really damaged. We do have a mild case of thrush and I'm really, really hoping that that is causing the trouble for us. I've had a few miserable days, but I keep reminding myself not to give up on our worst day. Hopefully this will pass after we finish our treatment.

It's not just the physical pain that bothers me though. I'm still dealing with a ton of guilt and anger about the whole thing. I've spent a day or two (or ten) just crying through feedings. I'm so angry that we missed out on so many experiences because of IF and I'm angry that my body is still "failing" me. There are still so many mental and emotional scars from IF and I don't think they will ever go away.

All that said - those things are temporary! I will sleep again. Breastfeeding will get better or it won't and I'll finally decide that the best decision for us is to stop. In the meantime, I'm trying to enjoy every second because I know he's going to grow up so fast. In fact, E finally grew out of his newborn clothes. I cried packing them up yesterday. Ah well. On to the next batch of cute outfits!

Note: It took me over 36 hours to finish this post so I guess I'm not that free. But we are getting more sleep! I'm happy to report that E officially "slept through the night" last night. He slept for 5.5 hours, ate and then slept for 3.5 hours more. It was amazing. Though in true first-time-mom fashion, I only slept for 4 hours during the first stretch because I was worrying that something was wrong!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Breastfeeding Sucks

No pun intended. I had no idea that it was possible to absolutely hate and love something simultaneously. If I had had a free minute to write this last week, it would have been another doom and gloom post but - SPOILER ALERT - this tale has a happy ending. Or least a happy middle. Hopefully our breastfeeding saga is far from over. And hopefully it remains a happy tale.

I  mentioned before that I had a terrible engorgement experience and that E was having a hard time latching well which led to some cracked and bleeding nipples. Those are exactly as awesome as they sound. It was all incredibly painful and ridiculously frustrating. Add on the anxiety of wondering whether or not E was getting enough to eat, the guilt about being unable to do something that is supposed to be so "natural" and the pressure from the "breast is best" campaign. All of that combined to make our first two weeks together a little bit miserable. I'm not sure who cried more often - me or E. Probably me.

I think it was mostly the guilt that got to me. It broke my heart when E was hungry and he would turn toward me looking for something to eat and I couldn't give him anything. I was sad that we wouldn't get to have that special alone time together that he could never share with anyone else. I was angry too. Getting pregnant was difficult enough, why did we have to have trouble with breastfeeding too? It just seemed unfair.

We finally got in to see a lactation consultant during the second week. She confirmed that E wasn't latching well and tried to help us figure out some positions and techniques that might help him. She also mentioned that E had a tongue-tie and that his tongue was tight. After going home and Googling it, I made an appointment with an ENT specialist to see if there was anything that we could or should do about that. I was desperate for anything that might help us with the breastfeeding. The ENT doctor said that E did have a tongue-tie, but that it was mild. He said that E would mostly likely grow out of it and that he didn't believe it would ever have any impact on speech later on. We still had the option of clipping the tie, but I knew that doing so would have been an emotional decision based on my desperation so we decided not to do it.

After a few more days of misery, I decided that I just could not breastfeed. I really wanted E to get some breast milk (mostly for the antibodies) so I threw myself into exclusively pumping. It was okay the first day. I was pumping enough milk to feed E through the day and night. The problem is that that shit is time consuming. You spend 20-30 minutes giving the baby a bottle. Then you spend some time getting the baby to lay down or settle in a chair or swing. Then you spend about 30 minutes pumping. And then 10 more washing your pump parts. By the time you're done, the baby is ready to eat again. I lost it on the third day. I just felt like I wasn't getting to spend any time with E because I was too busy trying to pump. It just didn't feel like the right solution for us.

That's when I got my second (actually it was probably my third or fourth) wind. I watched some more You Tube videos on latching and gave it another try. I was so determined for this to work. And for whatever reason - it did. We got through a whole day with E breastfeeding and me not feeling any pain. And then another day and another. Who knows what happened. I'm guessing that E just sort of grew into it. Maybe he just wasn't used to opening his mouth wide enough before then. I think I also got better at holding him in a good position.

It's been about a week now and we're still doing pretty well. We have good days and bad days. Some days, he latches on perfectly and eats well. Other days, he seems to fuss a lot or falls asleep after eating for only a few minutes. I still have some anxiety about whether he's actually getting enough. We have been bottle feeding him breast milk at night. That's working well for us because I can keep track of how much he's eating and I also think it helps him sleep more soundly at night.

Post-feeding snuggles are my favorite.
It's not perfect yet. E spits up a lot when he breastfeeds. Google tells me that we might have an issue with strong letdown/oversupply. It might be that he's getting too much milk too quickly and his little stomach can't handle it. Hopefully if that's the case, the problem will sort itself out when my supply regulates. The other problem I'm still having is my anxiety. I've always had some sensory issues and I really really don't like the feeling of full boobs. When they start to fill up, I'm hyper-aware of it. It's really hard for me to ignore the feeling and I get so afraid that I'm going to get engorged again or that I'll get an infection if they don't empty right away. I really hate it and I'm just hoping that it's something I will get used to.

Breastfeeding is great and I'm really grateful that it's starting to work out for us, but I do wish there wasn't so much pressure on moms to make it work. Maybe it's the "best" (I don't know) but that doesn't mean that the other options aren't great too. It sucks that so many people (myself obviously included) feel like they're failing or giving up if they can't or don't breastfeed. I need to work on be kinder to myself. It wasn't my fault that I couldn't get pregnant and it won't be my fault if it turns out that breastfeeding is not the best choice for me and E. For now, we're doing the best that we can and we'll just have to wait and see how things go!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hell Week

Some people told me that the first week is the hardest. Other people have said that the second week is the worst because you've lost the "we just had a baby" high. Now that E is just over two weeks I would have to say that, for us, the first week was the most difficult (though it really hasn't gotten much easier yet). There were two things that made our first week with E even more difficult than I expected:

 1) The fucking bili blanket.

The day after E was born, a nurse came by the check him for jaundice. The initial test results were a little high (his bilirubin level was 9.9, I think they were looking for below 9). They took him to lab to draw his blood and that test showed that the bilirubin was at 10.2. From that evening until we left the hospital, E had to be in a box under the bili lights. No big deal. Lots of babies have mild jaundice. I spent five days in the hospital when I was born (probably for the same reason that E had it - blood incompatibility between mom and baby).

 By the time we were ready to be discharged, E's bilirubin level had continued to increase so we were sent home with a bili blanket. If you've never seen one, it like a flexible panel about 18 inches long by 4 inches wide with bright blue bili lights. It has a big ass cord on the bottom so you have to stick it up the back of the baby's shirt and lay them down on it. We were told that E should be on the blanket round the clock unless he was being changed. Some horses said leave him on it to feed, others said it was okay to take him off it for feedings.

 I know there are much worse things that a new baby and new parents have to deal with, but the bili blanket sucked too. It was hard to hold him. It sucked to see him uncomfortable. It was tough to feed him on the blanket and when he was off the blanket, I felt like we had to rush through feedings to get him back on the lights quickly.

 We also had to get up and out of the house every morning for a 7:45 AM appointment to check his bilirubin levels. It is fucking hard to get a newborn ready and out of the house at anytime let alone that early in the morning after getting little sleep. I also hated bringing him into a germy doctor's office every day. We had to do that from day 4 through 8.

 It was also really frustrating because it was the weekend which meant we saw a different on-call doctor at each appointment. I felt like we were getting different opinions from each one. Some weren't concerned at all, others wanted us to be super strict with the blanket. It was just all so confusing.

 I'm actually convinced that the hospital and the medical supply company are running some kind of scam. I never heard of a bili blanket before we left the hospital. However, practically every single nurse or doctor that we talked to (I can think of at least five) said that their child needed a bili blanket. Really? Everyone has jaundice these days? I know it's common, but I just had a weird feeling about the whole thing.

Anyway - on Monday, day 7, they decided that E's bilirubin was at a safe level so we could stop using the blanket. We still had to go back for one more check-up on Tuesday, but even though his levels rose slightly they decided that E would be fine. We were so pumped to return that fucking blanket. (Oh and the day the medical supply people came to pick it up, another truck from the same company was delivering a bili blanket to another family in our neighborhood. Really? Scammers.)

2) Breastfeeding.
 l have always wanted to breastfeed. I am not against formula feeding at. I know plenty of healthy, happy formula fed babies. I just wanted to have that experience with my baby. However, it's been a bit of a disaster so far.

At first, it seemed like things were going okay. Two days after E was born, I noticed that my boobs were starting to look enormous. I figured that my milk was coming in or something. My nipples also started hurting between feedings as well. I figured that was normal too. A few nurses had checked on me and said that E and I looked great but when we finally saw the lactation consultant a few hours before we were discharged, she knew right away that something was wrong. She told me that E wasn't latching properly and I was on my way to an engorgement problem. She tried to help us get a good latch but since we were getting ready to leave, she highly recommended that I pump to try to prevent severe engorgement.

 It didn't help. I spent the next two days in a lot of pain thanks to my enormous, solid, lumpy boobs. They were unreal. The were so full and hard that it was impossible for E to latch at all so they just kept filling. The full feeling drove me insane. I tried expressing some milk manually, but it was so painful and it took so long to massage all of the lumps out. I was terrified of getting  an infection or having my boobs explode.

 Finally (and I don't know why I waited so long), I pumped the shit out of them and got some relief. It was amazing. We started trying nursing again, but E still couldn't get a good latch. I spent the better half of the first week crying. Because of the pain, because of the frustration, because I had no idea if E was getting enough to eat. It was tough. Breastfeeding is not easy. I can and will devote an entire post to this topic another time.

Despite all of that, we survived. It wasn't as blissful as I would have liked, but we made it through the week. E is healthy and (I think) happy. I am hopeful that things won't always be this hard even though I honestly can't see how we're going to get to that point yet.

Monday, January 26, 2015

E's Birth Story

Now that I have my new hands free pumping bra in the mail, I have a few minutes to myself (pumping counts as my personal time now) to share E's birth story. This will be long as fuck.

Monday, January 12th
9:30 AM: Monday started out like every other Monday during the past month. I woke up and headed into my OB's office for my weekly check-up. I was 39 weeks 1 day. I'd been ~90% effaced and 3 cm dilated for weeks and had been using Evening Primrose Oil for one week, so I was hoping for a bit of progress. Nothing. Everything was the same. My doctor again said that I was looking great, that baby was low and ready to go and that she didn't expect to see me for my next appointment. We did schedule a 40 week check-up and an NST just in case. My favorite nurse recommended that we continue to take long walks and have sex.

8:00 PM - 12:00 AM: So we did. About five minutes later, I started feeling period-like cramps that I was pretty sure were coming in waves. I just laid in bed quietly for a little bit before saying anything to Seth. Around 10:00, I told Seth that I was having contractions and that we should start timing them. I was really anxious about A) making sure it wasn't a false alarm and B) making sure we got to the hospital in time to get the antibiotics for the GBS. Once I figured out how to time them correctly, I realized they were coming every 4 minutes and lasting one minute. I called my mom in Philly and she insisted that I go to the hospital immediately. I decided to take a shower instead - I wanted to be as fresh as possible during L&D - but once I was in there I felt like the contractions were really coming more quickly and getting stronger. I hurried up and told Seth that we needed to leave right away. We grabbed our bags, kissed our pups good-bye and headed to the hospital!

Tuesday, January 13th 12:30 AM - 1:45 AM: By the time we got into triage, the contractions were getting stronger and I couldn't talk through them, but I managed. I remember staring at a yellow sign and just breathing through them quietly. The whole time this was happening, Seth was watching the monitor. Every time a contraction would start, his face would light up and he'd tell me that another one was coming. No shit. Part of me wanted to punch his smiling face, but mostly I just laughed. We're scientists - we love data. I knew I'd be doing the same thing if our positions were reversed. When the triage nurse finally gave me the most painful pelvic exam I have ever experienced (I was 100% sure that I wanted an epidural at this point), I was still about 90% effaced but dilated 5 cm. We were admitted and sent to a labor room!

2:00 - 6:00 AM: In the labor room, my contractions got really bad. The only thing that helped was holding on to Seth and rocking back and forth. Soon they started drawing my blood and prepping me for the epidural and I actually started to doze off which was awesome. Next came the epidural. This was by far my least favorite part of the whole experience. It is a really weird feeling. You just shouldn't feel pressure in your spine like that. It freaked me the fuck out (they need to invent an epidural for an epidural) . Luckily, they were able to get it in okay and soon I was happy and ready to get some sleep. Which I sort of did. My blood pressure was measured every 15 minutes and I had to go on an oxygen mask for most of the night (turns out E didn't like me being on my left side), but I did get some rest. Seth slept great.

6:00 AM: The nurses came in and checked me - I was only at 7 cm! WTF. It had been four hours since my last check. They told me that my doctor, Dr. F, would be in around 8:00 to check me again and decide what we were going to do. By the way, my doctor only delivers on Tuesdays. I was so pumped that I went into labor on the one day that she would actually be there. It really worked out perfectly.

8:00 AM: Dr. F arrived and it's the same story - I was only dilated 7 cm. I can't remember what we did at this point. More waiting I think. More ice chips. The most delicious ice chips I had ever tasted.

9:00 AM: My parents arrived!  They got on a 7:00 AM flight expecting to have a grandson when they landed in Florida, but that's not what happened. I'm so glad that they made it here in time. It was really nice to have them there. They were able to hang out in my room with us for awhile. Epidurals are awesome. It was like I wasn't in labor at all.

9:45 AM: Dr. F checked me again and told me that I was at 9 cm and she broke my water. We also arranged my bed so that I was sitting up in order to get the baby to move down so more. My doctor said she wanted me to hang out in that position for a few hours so that when it was time to push, the baby would just come right out. She told me that she'd be back at noon, but if I felt like I was "holding in a giant shit", I should tell the nurses so they could let her know that it was time. Yes, those were her exact words. If you know me at all, you know that I couldn't have found a more perfect doctor for me.

11:30 AM: I sent my parents to go get something to eat and around 12:00 Dr. F popped in to see how I was doing. I told her I didn't feel any different, but she decided to check me before she went to pick up her daughter (another IVF baby). Thank God she did. She said I was at 10 cm and ready to go. The next thing I know, she's calling the nurse back in and they're rearranging my bed and getting me into position to push. Despite being in labor for over 12 hours, it all seemed like it happened so fast!

12:00 PM: This next part was so much better than I ever expected it would be. It was just Seth, my doctor, a nurse and a nursing student in the room with me. My doctor had Seth and the nurse each hold one of my legs (Seth didn't expect that - I think he was pretty nervous at this point!). She actually sat in bed with me and started coaching me on how to push. We were going to push for 3 sets of 10 seconds at each contraction. We did two practice rounds before getting started. It took me two or three tries to get the hang of it, but within five minutes Seth and my doctor were telling me that they could see the baby's head (I didn't want to look). Seth was awesome. If he was still nervous, he didn't show it. He kept telling me what a great job I was doing and kept me calm and motivated. After another two or three rounds of pushing, Seth told me that the baby was almost out, that we were so close!

12:20 PM: All of a sudden, Dr. F told me to put my hands "in the middle". I had no idea what the fuck she meant, so finally someone grabbed my hands and I felt something kind of warm and squishy and Dr. F told me to pull my baby out. What?? I wasn't expecting that either. But I did it and I'm glad that I did. I reached down, grabbed under his arms and pulled my little E out into the world. This is when I finally opened my eyes. I took one look at him and started laughing and crying and reaching for him. He was perfect. He was everything I always imagined. He was mine.

They laid E on my chest for a few minutes which was amazing. They had to take him away for a bit to do some more suctioning because he was coughing a lot. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. They brought him back briefly, but had to take him away again because my doctor was stitching up a minor tear (not even close to as bad as I had imagined) and then they had to deal with some extra bleeding. They gave me a shot to help with that and then Dr. F had to stick her hand up my vag and dig around a bit, but eventually they got it under control.

The whole time this was going on,  I just wanted to hold E so badly. It felt like forever before they brought him back even though it was probably more like 10 minutes. Finally, we were ready for each other and we got to spend more skin-to-skin time together and we started breastfeeding (more on that later). It was amazing. I can't even describe the happiness, the relief, the disbelief that I felt seeing and holding my son for the first time. I don't want to ever forget that feeling. The other thing that I don't ever want to forget is the look on Seth's face when he saw his son for the first time and they way he followed him around the room. He kept looking back at me and I know he was thinking the same thing as me - He's real, he's perfect, he's mine.

So that's how little E was born. I feel like I had the perfect labor and delivery experience for me and I'm very grateful for that because I know that so often things don't work out that way. I know how lucky I am to have had such a wonderful experience and to have such a healthy little boy. I'm trying to focus on that during the rough moments - and there have been TONS of rough moments during these first two weeks. That will be the topic my next post...Hell Week.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

He's here!!!

No 40 weeks post for me! I have an outside baby! My little E was born on Tuesday, January 13th at 12:20 PM (39w2d). He was 7 pounds 2 ounces and 21 inches long. He's absolutely perfect and we are so so in love with him already.

Labor and delivery was a pretty awesome experience for me. I will share E's birth story when I have more time.

Being a mother is even more amazing than I imagined, but it has definitely been a difficult five days. I'll share those details at some point too, but for now I just want to share some pictures of my little peanut!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

39 weeks - ONE!!

How far along: 39 weeks 

Countdown to EDD: One week/7 days!!!

Baby is the size of a: Watermelon. We had a growth scan this week and they estimated that he weighs about 7 pounds 3 ounces.

Physical symptoms: Just generally sore and uncomfortable plus chapped crotch from taking evening primrose oil. Oh and heartburn.

Mood: Ugh. Yesterday was terrible. The chapped crotch just got to be too much. The diaper rash cream just wasn't cutting it. I felt so bad because I was getting so annoyed with Seth simply because he was happy and I was not. I did NOT take the EPO last night. My doctor recommended it, but she also says that it's really important to do whatever you need to do to stay in a good place mentally. Diaper rash was doing nothing good for my mental state.   

Total Weight Gain/Loss:  I don't know. I imagine more than +25, but I really don't want to find out.

Maternity clothes: Yes, plus yoga pants and some of Seth's clothes. I look awesome.    

Sleep: Still decent

Best moment of the week: Seeing Baby E at the growth scan. Next time I see him, he'll be an outside baby!

Movement: Still wild

Food cravings/aversions: Nothing in particular. I did buy a six pack of beer though. To be enjoyed after Baby E is born, of course.

Sex: Boy

Labor signs: Same as last week. I may have had some very mild real contractions last night, but they didn't last or wake me up and I haven't felt any today (just the BH). I will be so annoyed if the motherfucking EPO hasn't done anything to my cervix. It probably hasn't it. I only used it six days.

What I miss: Not having a fire crotch.

What I am looking forward to: Not having a fire crotch. And Baby E's due date!

Milestones: Baby E is considered full term today! 

Showing yet: Please excuse my "outfit". I'll put pants on eventually, but you know how I feel about real clothes on Sundays. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

38 weeks -TWO!!

How far along: 38 weeks 

Countdown to EDD: Ahhh!! Two weeks/13 days

Baby is the size of a: Pumpkin

Physical symptoms: Uncomfortable and sore - lots of pelvic/hip pain - but it's not terrible.    

Mood: Pretty good!   

Total Weight Gain/Loss: No change since last week. I think I'm about +25. 

Maternity clothes: Still mixing maternity and regular, still favoring PJs and yoga pants.      

Sleep: Not bad. I'm back to peeing every hour and sometimes I think of something that keeps me up for awhile.

Best moment of the week: My sister booked a last minute flight to visit me so that has been awesome. 

Movement: I think he finally made his way around to facing my back which is the "ideal" position. His feet are now kicking out my right side and his butt is always popping out around my belly button.

Food cravings/aversions: Nothing in particular.

Sex: Boy

Labor signs: Prelabor: No change - still ~90% effaced and 3 cm dilated. Despite this progress, my doctor still recommends taking Evening Primrose Oil so I'll give it a shot.

What I miss: Getting out of bed or out a chair on my own and without pain.

What I am looking forward to: We have our last growth scan on Thursday so I'm looking forward to seeing my inside baby one more time!

Milestones: This Sunday, baby will be 39 weeks - full term! I can't believe it. 

Showing yet: I feel giant.