Friday, March 29, 2013

Here and there

Here and there

My baby isn't looking so newborn-y these days. Things are going well and I feel like I'm getting into the swing of two kids, but I'm a little perturbed over how fast it's going. He's already a month old! After a month, I think I've finally decided on a blog nickname for him. I shot own MB's first suggestion and he shot down mine, and then he suggested Eli, a name I'd pitched and been denied for both kids. I always thought having an Elliott would be nice, with Eli for a nickname, so I think that's what he'll be when I write about him here. Baby E!

We went back to see the lactation consultant again the day after my last post. It had been a really hard week prior to that, and I was not feeling good about how things were going. The time I was spending pumping and washing bottles was not balancing out well against the time I was spending holding the baby and taking care of Nico. I was tired, stressed out, and fairly miserable. The lactation consultant, awesomely, sat me down and the first words out of her mouth were, "Tell me what you want to do." There was no pressure, no hard sell. I did almost tear up and start crying (haaaaaate) but managed to hold my shit together and tell her that as much as I'd love to say I'm all in like I was with Nico, the 8 - 12 times a day pumping plan was not working for me. She assured me that doing whatever I could handle was the best plan. I went home with a new plan - pump at least six times a day, nurse on demand, see what happens. I had already started supplementing him with formula, and as much as it's not what I hoped for it's also not that big a deal so far. I dreaded it, but then when I gave him the first bottle of formula, it just wasn't as big a blow as I expected. I think it helped that it happened while we had friends over to celebrate my birthday and I didn't have time to get all emo about it. For now we're nursing as much as we can, I'm trying to get six pumpings per day, and we're rolling along. Elliott is up to 10 pounds 13 ounces, so I figure it's working for him.

I always wished I did a series of stuffed-animal-for-scale monthly pics with Nico, so I'm going to try to stay on top of doing it for Eli.

I suppose I've technically been cheating on my weight restriction, but sitting at home for six weeks with both kids was just not an option and it's gone okay. My parents have been great and have been taking Nico to preschool and then to their house to play afterward on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It has helped so much with his cabin fever and has also given me some much-appreciated time to snuggle up with the baby on the couch. Over the last two weeks I managed to get both kids out to Nico's playgroup twice, the library once, and a Spring Break / Easter party. Because Elliott is such a good sleeper, he's been pretty portable. He falls asleep in his carseat and then stays asleep in his stroller for up to several hours. For the Easter party I knew the stroller wasn't a good option and carrying him very far in the carseat is still officially not allowed. I decided to try wearing him in our hand-me-down Snugli and it went great. We did that again at the library today and he snoozed through Nico's toddler craft program in it. I never wore Nico because we only had a pouch sling that I didn't feel confident using and he clearly hated. I spent most of my time at home with him anyway, so it was never really an issue. I tried wearing Elliott in a Moby wrap a few weeks back and while it went okay, he was quite skeptical. At the time my incision wasn't quite healed well enough for me to wear him anyway, so the experience left me feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure. Turns out E tolerates the Snugli much better and I'm healed enough now that I carried him around for two hours at the party with only a little twinge from my incision. Progress!

not a Moby fan

thinks maybe this isn't so bad

Elliott also had his first bath and seemed completely unfazed. Afterward his hair was all soft and standing straight up from his head like dandelion fluff. Recommend!

Nico has two egg hunts under his belt already. The first one was at his preschool class party on the 21st. It was very sweet…his teacher herded the class of five little three-year-old boys into the courtyard and told them they'd each get to find eight eggs. Once released to hunt, Nico ran down the path, spotted an egg, shouted "There's an Easter egg!" and kept going. His teacher had to remind him to pick it up and put it into his little basket. He remembered what he was doing for the egg hunt at this week's party. He was given a spot in the roped-off little kids' area of the yard but promptly hopped the rope and took off in search of eggs elsewhere. The best part of the whole party, though, was Nico chasing bubbles and shouting, "I'm gonna POP YOU!" I feel pretty confident that he's ready for the big family egg hunt with his cousins on Sunday.

I said, "Hold up your basket!" So he did.

One more Nico story, just because it's such a perfect encapsulation of how he is right now. I had to take him to get blood drawn for a follow-up allergy screening after his class Easter party. I think he remembered the first one and was rightfully nervous, but he tried SO HARD to be brave. My mom went with us since I was worried if I tried lone wolfing it the baby would need something and start screaming right in the middle of things. She ended up carrying Nico back to the blood draw area from the waiting room and holding him for the procedure. As she carried him, I saw his little face and he was trying so hard not to cry. It was heartbreaking. He did cry but he wasn't over the top about it and had nearly stopped by the time it was over. And then the second, literally the very second, the nurse took the needle out of his arm, he chirped "Thank you, doctor!" in the brightest, most cheerful voice. It was among the cutest things ever. Since then, he's also been taking pieces of string or the pull strings on toys and holding them as if connected to trucks and saying "The doctor is taking out some of his blood!" Oh, kid.

Apparently party + blood draw was way too much excitement for one day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Days go by

Days go by

I'm glad I didn't make any high-flying promises that I'd blog more after the baby arrived. It's not even that having two kids is a lot more time-consuming than having one, really. It is more time-consuming, but not extremely so. But just like with Nico, I ended up having milk supply issues with little Baby Needs-a-Blog-Pseudonym. I should probably write a whole separate post on that since I have a lot of pent-up frustration that needs venting. The short version is that Baby started out with a bad, painful latch. We saw a lactation consultant the Friday after he was born and started working to fix the latch. It was starting to go well, I dared to let myself hope I'd get to have a normal nursing relationship with this baby, and then about a week after our first LC appointment, he started a nursing strike. He didn't nurse from Saturday at 11 pm until last Tuesday at our second LC appointment which I made after trying to get him to nurse all day Sunday and half of Monday to no avail. At the Tuesday appointment I got confirmation that my supply is crap again and I will admit I took it really hard. It's a shitty feeling to fail utterly at something that is supposed to be "easy" and "natural" and best for your baby. I've been instructed to pump 8 - 12 times a day for 20 minutes a day. Twelve times is not happening. I can barely fit in 8 sessions without leaving the boys to their own devices for much more time than I'd like and without passing on every opportunity to leave the house or have people over. I'm willing to do everything I reasonably can to make as much milk as I can for Baby T, but not at the expense of everything else in our lives or his needs or his brother's needs. We'll see how things go. He's nursing again but I don't think he's getting much out on his own. Right now I'm pumping as much as I can to give him by bottle and chowing down fenugreek and hoping for the best.

Adding to this shit sandwich of a situation, in the midst of the baby's nursing strike, Nico developed a runny nose that turned into a cough that turned into a scary wheeze that turned into him feeling so miserable that he fell asleep on the rug with his matchbox cars at 6:30 on Tuesday evening. I took him to the doctor first thing Wednesday where he got a diagnosis of croup and an ear infection. After his appointment I took both boys to visit my coworkers. While we were waiting for a few people to get back, Nico asked to feed the office turtles. I took him out to feed them and it was this really sweet, cute moment…until I took my eyes off him for literally maybe 30 seconds and the cage lid slammed down on his hand and badly cut one of his fingers. I was about ready to quit the whole world by the end of that day. Anyway, Nico's nearly recovered, his finger is almost healed, and the baby goes in for another weight check tomorrow. So far Nico is being very sweet to the baby and the baby is being pretty easy on me other than the nursing disaster which isn't his fault. I had a nice weekend after a crap week. Having a baby in the house again is wonderful and it's making me appreciate and enjoy my big kid even more, too, which is a nice bonus. We're just going to keep on going and see how things turn out. Meanwhile, have some kid pictures. Some days I still can't believe there are two of them!

one week old and briefly back up to birth weight

waiting on brother to finish his swimming lesson

two weeks old, burrowed in

tiny sweater!

pitiful sick toddler; also, LIMBS EVERYWHERE

working to rebuild his cheekfat reserves

contemplating a rescue mission

possibly one of the greatest baby photos of all time, yes?

baby's first unsightly self-inflicted fingernail mauling

Reading:  Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

Playing:  Babel by Mumford & Sons

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Baby boy

Baby boy

I suppose in a way scheduled C-sections make for unexciting birth stories, but Baby Trilobite deserves his story anyway. I don't think I ever wrote about it, but I was hoping for a VBAC. Nico's C-section birth was a surprisingly positive experience, but I was worried about the recovery and how I'd be able to handle a new baby and a large, active toddler during six weeks of weight restrictions. My OB was on board, though she cautioned me from the beginning that there were no guarantees and she never seemed too convinced of the chances that it would actually happen. When I first discussed it with her, I asked her what my odds were of success at my due date and if I went past due, and she said she wasn't sure of percentages for either, but that the odds of success definitely would decrease with an overdue baby. I went ahead and scheduled a repeat C-section for the morning of my due date and decided not to fret over it too much. I suppose a tiny part of me will always wonder if I would have gone into labor eventually and been able to deliver, but it's a pretty miniscule part. All I know is there was no action at all by my 39 week appointment and no changes during the following week. It seems I'm really good at growing babies but not so good at having them on my own.

Since we'd booked so far ahead, we were able to get the early appointment and had to show up at the hospital at 5:30 AM to check in and begin prep. We dropped Nico and Indy off at my parents' house on Sunday evening. Nico was SO excited...I'd told him at bedtime on Saturday that he got to spend the night at Grandma's the following night, and he started asking to go to Grandma's house literally the moment he woke up Sunday. I figured he wouldn't miss us too much. After we dropped them off, MB took me out for a nice grownup dinner. My plan was to come home and go to bed early, but I was full of nervous energy and ended up staying up late cleaning up the house. Once I finally did go to bed, I couldn't sleep. I think I might've slept for an hour at most. I had expected to get nervous the next morning, but I really didn't. We went to the hospital and I was kind of surprised how quickly everything moved. They took us right to our room and had me get into the gown and put on the monitors. True to his wriggly ways, Baby kept squirming out of the reach of the monitor and it took several adjustments before they were able to finally get a 15 minute strip of heart readings. I didn't hear (and no one mentioned) his previous heart arrhythmia, which had seemed absent at his 38-week and 39-week OB checkups as well. Even though the nurse admitted I have "great veins," for some reason the first two IVs she tried to start failed. Those hurt worse than I remember from last time. The second time she blew my vein and blood started to make a big bubble under the skin on the back of my hand. I didn't see it because I was smart enough to keep my eyes firmly averted, but MB saw it happen and had to go sit down. Poor dude. She turned the task over to one of the other nurses who was able to start one in my other hand, luckily on the first try. I had to sign and initial a bunch of papers. I kept expecting the anesthesiologist to come in and talk to me since that was requested in our birth plan, but no one ever did. I didn't really care much since I remembered the procedure from last time. (Later I realized that we totally forgot to turn in our birth plan at all, so it's a good thing we didn't want anything fancy.) There did seem to be rather a lot of waiting toward the end, but I had a book to read and I never got jittery. Finally it was time for one last bathroom break, the horrible sour-lemon anti-nausea medicine, and the short trip to the OR.

The lonely stool where MB sat last time to wait while I was prepped had been replaced by a rocking chair and a big poster above it on the wall that said "Waiting on a miracle!" Cheesy, yes, but I thought it was sweet. Once again I had to walk into the OR from my rolling bed, which I still think is funny. This time I was much more aware of the really does look just like a set on TV with all the lights and the machines and cabinets full of stuff. I remember warily eyeing the table with all the creepy surgical clamps and such. While we were waiting on the anesthesiologist and doctors, I sat on the edge of the operating table hugging the pillow my nurse had given me. "All the Single Ladies" came on the radio and the nurses joked about having a flash mob. I said if only my baby was a girl, it could've been his signature song. (I suppose if he later has an affinity for Beyonce, we'll know why.) It seemed like all the nurses had a nurse-in-training along for the day, but I didn't mind. After just a bit the anesthesiologist came in and I liked him a lot. He was kind of a dad-feeling guy, warm and friendly. I was surprisingly not nervous for the spinal either, and that was done in no time. They asked beforehand if I'd want a warm blanket and I said I did, remembering how cold and shivery I'd been during Nico's delivery. Once they got the spinal in they got the warm blanket and the anesthesiologist asked me "How much does your husband want to see?" I said "As little as possible!" (Last time I asked MB after the fact if he'd watched Nico being born. He said no, but that he'd accidentally caught a glimpse over the drape when he first came in. "It was...not good," was his grim report.) I told them I'd like to see the baby once he was out, but not anything else. It seemed like they put the drape up extra high, presumably for MB's protection.

MB came in and sat down. I started to feel kind of gross right away, which didn't happen last time. I guess my head was slightly lower than the rest of me or something, because I immediately started to get that blood rushing to the head feeling and my sinuses became totally blocked within a few minutes. I couldn't breathe at all through my nose, so I was trying to take even deep breaths in and out through my mouth. Other than that the surgery itself was fine. When the doctor saw the baby she exclaimed that he had lots of hair and I called out "What color is it?" They told me it was dark, he started to cry (I was grateful that he didn't make me wait), and a few moments later one of the nurses brought the baby over near my head so I could peek past the drape and see him just for a few seconds. I saw dark hair and chubby cheeks and fat little thighs and then they whisked him off to finish cleaning him up. I could hear everyone chatting about him as they worked. Apparently he was wiggling and kicking like crazy because the nurse trying to cut his cord called out to me "He must've been really active...we're trying to cut his cord and he won't stop kicking us!" My OB told the assisting doctor about his Doppler-dodging antics at his checkups. There was a general noise of impressed-ness when they put him on the scale. Someone said, "Big baby!" and told us he weighed 9 lbs 7.3 ounces (the newborn nursery later weighed him at 9 lbs 1 oz, and his lactation nurse suspects that was more accurate). Before too long MB got to hold him skin-to-skin. By then I was feeling really nauseated and twisting my head back to look at them only made it worse. I suppose its kind of awful to say, but at that point I was focused more on not vomiting than I was at trying to look at the baby. The anesthesiologist was really good with asking frequently how I was doing so I told him I was feeling sick. He told me my blood pressure had dropped and that might be the cause, and that he'd add something to my meds to help counteract that. It did help after a few minutes, but I spent a touch-and-go bit of time with one of those tiny pink kidney-shaped bowls on my chest and got dangerously close to barfing. Luckily I felt better by the time they'd finished up and I was able to hold the baby on my chest for the ride back to recovery. I had another terrible bout of nausea there but they were able to give me something in my IV to knock it back again. Thank goodness because i really, really did not want to throw up.

With Nico my nurse told me to get him on the breast right away, but this time no one said anything. I asked if I could just nurse him whenever and they told me I could try to nurse as soon as I felt ready. I had joked before having him that I wouldn't remember how to nurse, but it went just fine. He latched right on and nursed for almost an hour. I wouldn't say I immediately fell head over heels for him. I think he felt like a tiny stranger at first. Just like with Nico, it kind of crept up on me gradually as the hectic pace of the morning faded and the baby slept the day sweetly away, carrying me gently into a new life as the mother of two beautiful boys.