Sunday, October 5, 2014


It's 50 degrees outside. 

And I have no socks that fit my son. 

He has everything else a baby could ever need or want. But he's never needed socks before and it didn't cross my mind last I was at Target. 

So maybe he'll go to mass in his footsie pajamas. We'll see how it warms up. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Birthing Bubba I

Someone said that blogs are like plants--they need to be fed and watered regularly to thrive. I must admit both my writing and horticultural endeavors have been pretty neglected as of late. I wanted to remember everything about birthing my son, so I've been piecing together my memories here and there. I'm nowhere near finished. But since I have not posted anything else in a month, here's my start . . . the gory details you've been waiting for! Or not. So, if all things bloody and cervical bother you, stop reading now. You've been warned. 

Waaaaaay back, earlier this spring:

On my due date, having a sit in the nursery-to-be
My due date came and went with baby seemingly content to stay inside. That was fine with me. My pregnancy had been relatively smooth up to that point, and I knew this was the easiest part of parenting. Fetuses are so darn portable, you know? I loved my belly. I loved being pregnant. I was in no rush. All my hippie-crunchy birthing books told me baby would come when he or she was ready. Waiting was not a problem, and I had no inclination to try all those home induction tricks that the desperate mommies on the pregnancy [web] forum were stressing over. Sitting over a steaming cup of coffee? No thank you. Eating 5 pounds of fresh pineapple? My tongue hurt thinking about it. I was relaxed letting things be. 

I was scheduled to work Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights. Monday morning Ryan picked me up from work. It was pouring rain and I had a routine fetal non-stress test scheduled. Those are kinda nice. You lay back and relax for 10-20 minutes and they monitor baby's heart rhythm and any contractions you may have. 

Baby checked out just fine. I was about 3 days "overdue" and dilated 2cm. Random, painless contractions had been coming and going over the weekend. I guess those were Braxton-hicks. They weren't achy; just a noticeable tightening over my abdomen. 

I was prepared to wait it out another week or so if need be. But apparently my ob was not. "The baby needs to come by 41 weeks," he said, adding that the risks of post term delivery outweighed the risks of induction. "You don't want to wind up with a c-section if we can avoid it." 

Whaaat? I told him that everyone in my family delivered late. I said that I was born a full two weeks late. "You were lucky," he replied. He added that my [slightly] elevated blood pressure and borderline glucose challenge test necessitated delivery before the week was out. 

I argued about it for a bit, feeling very disinfranchised, but got nowhere. I reluctantly signed the consent for an induction via pitocin. 

From there on out, all the wind was sucked out of my sails. People always ask "when is that baby coming?" It never bothered me before, now it hit a nerve. I felt all this pressure to deliver ASAP; my peaceful pregnancy was over. 

At home I read up on all the risks of pitocin use--which were at least as awful as I already knew--just to justify my feelings. To be fair, I also reviewed a study which supported my ob's position, finding that moms with pregnancy induced hypertension tended to fare better with induction versus a watch and wait plan. BUT, I didn't have full blown HTN, so I'm not sure how those findings related to my particular situation.

I was supposed to work the next two nights, but couldn't sleep at all, dreading an induction. I called out and started my FMLA. Everyone at work knew I had already past my due date, so no one was really surprised. 

I know women get induced all the time, and many even request it. But this was my first pregnancy. I really wanted the experience of a natural labor, especially the beginning. What does the process feel like? What will my body do? Some things you just can't learn on a pit drip. 

For the rest of the day following my Dr's appointment I just sulked. I wasn't excited about the baby anymore. The pregnancy felt wasted. I started wondering how soon I could have a second child and get another chance to do it "right." Those feelings weren't rational. I'm certainly not proud of them. But that's how badly I was dreading medical intervention. 

Tuesday I figured I'd start walking, which Ryan had been encouraging me to do (though all the walking at work hadn't made a difference so far). So we went up and down the neighborhood with Kip on a leash. In the afternoon we went to that 4winds grocery place. I had never been there before, but quickly understood why everyone raves about it. We picked up gyro meat for dinner and a box of Jordanian almonds. The grocer, after trying to sell us every item in the deli, told me I'd be having a boy since the baby favored my right side. 

That evening I knew things were beginning to happen--but would they happen in time? I was having lots of Braxton Hicks, and I think I lost my mucous plug ( it looked like a little jellyfish swimming to the bottom of the toilet . . . because you just had to know that). Also, my bowels were, uh, cleaning house. I knew these were all [possible] preparatory signs, but I didn't get my hopes up too high. I knew some women lost their plugs weeks or days before delivery and sometimes just regenerated new ones. And maybe something I ate just wasn't agreeing with me. 

We spent the early evening at our new house. My father in law was working on installing the dry wall for the living room. I avoided the dust by staying outside and took out my frustrations on all the virginia creeper and scuppernon vines choking the azaleas. Maybe in the back of my mind I was hoping I'd break my water with all the yanking and pulling. 

Later that night, around one in the morning, the contractions felt different than Braxton hicks.  They felt like period cramps and were coming every three to five minutes. At two am they were still coming in regular intervals. My doc had said to come in to the hospital if they were every five minutes for an hour (check) even if they didn't feel strong (check). At this point I was getting a little excited and woke Ryan up. I really didn't think the contractions were bad at all, but I was afraid of delivering quickly like my sister and decided to play it safe. Besides, two thirty in the morning was a perfect time to slip out of the house. We were staying with my inlaws and I didn't want to cause any you're-gonna-have-a-baby! commotion. 

We checked into the ER and were sent upstairs to L&D. One of my coworkers said "I'm supposed to wheel you up there, you know." I declined. I could walk just fine and I really didn't want to sit in a gross wheelchair. I mean, I sanitize wheelchairs when I'm through with them, but I don't know if everyone else does. 

The labor and delivery unit was pretty quiet. A nurse called "Barb" took us to a room where I took a whiz quiz, changed into a hospital gown, and had the fetal monitors strapped onto me.  I had brought my own sheets and gown, but had left them in the car. We weren't sure if we'd be staying. 

Barb verified that I was having contractions regularly, but I was only dilated 3cm. An hour later I was still at 3cm. Another hour later--about 6am--I hadn't budged so they sent me home. The contractions were pretty uncomfortable but they were short lived and not debilitating. I was still scared of having a precipitous birth, and the contractions remained frequent. Barb told me to come back when they were "too strong to talk or walk through." Ok. Home we went. But first I stopped in the cardiac unit to say hey to my coworkers and pick up my spare keys that I had left in my locker. I took an alternate route out of the building. I didn't want the ER folks seeing me leave--I felt like a phony now.

Neither of us had slept much, so I went back to bed while Ryan ran to Tom Thumb for his cancer sticks. He brought back Snickers and gummy sours for me. I ate a few pieces and slept until about 0800 when the contractions were too uncomfortable to sleep through. I was still, uh, leaking some, and had been since about 1am. At the time I presumed it was the remnants of the cervical plug coming out. In retrospect I should have suspected my water had broken. 

Ryan was sleeping so I got up and walked around a bit. His parents had already left for work, which was nice because I didn't want an audience. I had a strong feeling this baby was coming today and figured I should get as many calories in as possible. I took two bites of a banana and promptly vomited into the kitchen sink. 

It was about 0900 and I had to pause for the contractions now. They were getting pretty strong. I started to get fixated on riding in a car and getting in and out of a car. In between contractions I was fine. But I was starting to get paranoid thoughts, like what if another contraction came--and it stayed? And then I wouldn't be able to move, and how well would Ryan drag me in and out of the car? I woke him up and told him we were leaving. Again. 

"Are you sure?" He was afraid of getting turned away again and looking like silly first timers. I was afraid of having the baby at home. Off we went. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Only once

I realized yesterday that I've been blessed with a difficult sleeper. I mean, I've known Bubba is a tricky fellow to keep asleep, but I hadn't thought about how lucky I am that he is the way he is. 

I'm entertaining myself with my iPhone right now after giving up on slumber. The birds have just started chirping outside, and there's a faint glow coming through the curtains, but the sun isn't up just yet. Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter are some of the few things I can do in the dark with one hand while my other arm cradles my sleeping son.

Last night he went to bed in his bassinet around 2230. I brushed my teeth, flossed, and was catching zzz's myself about an hour later. But I've been mostly awake since his 1am nursing. He usually gets squirmy and calls out to eat, nurses in a semi-conscious state for about 10 minutes, and is back to bed. I'm impressed how he can swallow a full meal without really waking up. 

I wish I could stay drowsy like he is, but I'm too alert by the time he finishes. I actually did fall back asleep around 0325, but he woke us up again at 0345, so I'm not sure that counts ; p

As the dawn approaches, he gets more and more restless. By 4 or 5 am I have to pick him up and take him into bed with me so that he might sleep till 7 (when he finally poops). He fidgets and squirms and I'm scared he'll roll face down into the bedding, so I stay vigilant. 

You know what though? This little guy is 4 months old already. I know "he'll always be my baby" and all, and I know toddlers and children can be sweet and snuggly too, but this first year of infancy and true babyhood is A THIRD OF THE WAY OVER. And this is time we're never getting back. Might we have other kids? Maybe. Maybe not. Even if we do, this period with him--my first born little boy--is running water. 

Those poor moms with babies who sleep through the night: they miss half the experience! Bubba has already grown into an "easier" baby. For the first 10 weeks or so, he had to be held all. the. time. And he wanted to nurse every 45 to 90 minutes. 

People said I was spoiling him. People said he cried because he was held too much. People warned that he was "using" me as a "human pacifier."

I'm glad I trusted my gut and disregarded that rubbish. 

Here we are just a few months down the road and he may go 3 hours sometimes between feedings. He can watch contentedly from his swing or play mat while we make or eat dinner or fold laundry . . . for a little while at least. I wish I knew the high-need intensity of those first few weeks was a passing phase; I wouldn't have stressed as much. 

The best parenting advice I've been given was from my coworker who has a single, grown son. I was nearly full-term and talking about how much maternity leave to take. 

"Liz, they're only little once."

I've remembered her words every time I've gotten up in the night, every time he won't sleep without the boob within an inch of his face. What would I have done if he had been an easier baby and, say, taken naps in his swing? Filed paperwork? Washed more dishes? All good projects, but does anything compare to this?

Nope. I'm thankful my child is vocal enough to keep his mother's priorities straight. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Instagram win

Funny what can happen in a year.

I was scrolling through some old tweets and saw this pity-party note from 2013:

 referring to this night with Bruce the kitty cat:

 . . . not knowing that wee little Bubba the Blastocyst was just getting started.

I suppose retrospect is 20/20, huh?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My hunger games

I'm doing an experiment right now and it's driving me a little crazy. 

Baby has had problems with gas pains for a long time--since he was just a few weeks old. Also, almost all of his stools are runny, mucousy green. Different references tell me different things. Some say green stools can be normal; others say it can be a sign of an irritated gut. 

His doctor isn't too concerned since he is growing wildly (95th percentile for his weight and age). You only have to glance at this chunky monkey to know he is not malnourished. But my pediatrician is not the one having to hold him when he's writhing in pain every other day. Fart, little buddy, please just fart. Oh and he tries so hard I swear he's gonna blow a gasket. He sounds like a weightlifter in the mornings. 

Bubba's temperament is quite sweet. I don't think this is real colic--like the babies that mysteriously cry inconsolably for hours on end. So I've been wondering if there's an allergen in my diet that's getting into the breast milk. 

Suspecting this, I cut out virtually all dairy products weeks ago with some but not much improvement. I wasn't very thorough in eliminating "hidden" dairy; you know, there's whey protein in almost every thing!

Hoping we could do better, I've started an elimination diet. It means sticking with only the most hypoallergenic/easily digestible foods to see if symptoms improve. I've heard this part can take weeks; some offending proteins can hang in your system for a long time. If things do get better, I'll periodically eat new foods one at a time to see if I can zero in on a culprit. The usual suspects are dairy, wheat, corn, citrus, nuts, seafood, and soy: Basically everything I like to eat. 

I need to figure this out. I'm worried I won't be able to pump enough milk when I return to work next week and may have to supplement with formula. Most all formulas are dairy or soy based : (

In the meantime, I've been living on chicken, rice, sweet potatoes, and pears for five days now. I made macaroni and cheese the other day for Ryan and wanted so badly to lick my fingers after squeezing that fluorescent orange gooey goodness into the pot. And then we had to shop at Sam's Club today for dry goods . . . 

Oooooh. It's gonna be a long two weeks. I'm already dreaming about food. For real. Preggo cravings have NOTHING on post partum/breastfeeding cravings. Nothing. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

First night

. . . in the new house! I feel like a queen. 

Pictures of this guy's room later. I came home from an afternoon on the west side  to find his nursery all set up. Daddy must have spent the better part of his day doing it. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Two Months

So, we've kept a newborn alive for a whopping two months! Yay us!

This little guy is changing so rapidly. Whenever I think there is finally a pattern to his habits, something changes. We have virtually no routine. Some days he decides that bedtime is 2000. Other nights it's not until 2300. For one blessed week he would take a 4-5 hour stretch of sleep at night. Then he stopped and returned to his 2-3 hour intervals for night nursing.  At least he does seem to have his days and nights straight. He may eat frequently, but he usually stays in drowsy-mode during the night hours. 

He is a man of contradictions. When he was just hatched, it was a struggle to feed him because he was so drowsy. For the first few days we had to really stimulate him to stay awake and nurse: we tickled his toes, swabbed him with cool wet wipes, etc. Now he eats. All. The. Time.  Except for a long nap, he usually nurses every 45-90 minutes. Sunday afternoon he went almost 3 hours--mostly awake--between feedings and I was astonished. Overall, he's gaining weight like a champ, so mama is happy. He's already outgrown a bagful of newborn clothes. 

Meanwhile, I am learning to breastfeed everywhere--on a nature trail, Target, parking lots, restaurants, in the shower--because at some point (maybe 3 weeks?) I realized that if I didn't loosen up my nursing preferences, we would be stuck 24/7 in the bedroom rocker chair. And I would go a little crazy (or more so than I've already become). 

He was originally a hard sleeper. He would sleep fast in the baby swing despite the dog barking or the dishwasher being loaded. Now he's very peculiar about sleep. 'Seems that humans are the only acceptable cribs these days. If the timing is right, he'll fall asleep in his car seat. If the timing is wrong ( i.e. if he's awake and alert), no car ride is short enough : (

He hated having his diaper changed for the first few weeks--'screamed bloody murder. But lately he hasn't minded them at all. He's totally distracted looking at the ceiling lights and around the room. I wonder if his vision is expanding and perhaps that's helped. 'Good thing, because we go through diapers like it's nobody's business. I'm so relieved the ordeal isn't tortuous like it once was.  

I'm also thankful that he tolerates showers and baths well, even when water occasionally gets in his face. I want to bathe him after any social or family event. He inevitably gets passed around and around the room, and he always comes back to me smelling like funky old lady perfume.  

My favorite new tricks of his are the smiles and baby talk. He smiled in his sleep within the first 24 hours of being born. But it wasn't until week 5 or 6 that he clearly smiled in response to a person while awake. The baby talk started about the same time. It's amazing to see such a little guy do such a personal thing. I mean, so much of baby care is centered around the basic body functions. But to hear him purposefully make variable sounds and keep eye contact in response to other persons is sooo sweet. He clearly wants to be part of the conversation! And he sounds like a dolphin btw. 

I'm hoping his next achievement will be making peace with the ergo baby carrier. I don't mind carrying him all the time, but I'd love to have two hands free.  

Month three, here we come . . .