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.