Friday, June 18, 2010

Sometimes Life Is Not Fair

I am having a hard couple of days. Yesterday I found out that my friend's sister is going through almost the same thing I went through with our first pregnancy. Our first baby. To make a long story short, they got an incompatible with life diagnosis at 18 weeks. She had a D&E.

This girl is someone I have known since high school, but not someone I would call a good friend. We were, however, kindred spirits in recent years. She had a really hard time getting pregnant. A really, really hard time. Much harder than me. So even though we were not close, we understood a part of each other's lives in a way that even my closest friends could not. And I am just so sad for her. Because I know how she feels. And I know what's in store for her. And it fucking sucks. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. And she has tried SO hard to get pregnant. And it FINALLY worked. And she made it safely out of the first trimester. And then this happens. Its just not fair. And it fucking sucks.

As soon as I found out, a lot of the feelings came flooding back. I've been crying and tearing up for two days. Pictures from three years ago come into my head and then I picture this girl going through it now and it makes me so sad. Pictures like sitting on the couch not knowing what to do. Just having no idea what to do now. Or laying in bed, trying to sleep and then the tears come again and they turn into uncontrollable sobs and you just cry and cry and cry into your husband's chest. Or thinking to yourself - is this real? Is this really happening? No, this cannot be happening. I remember these things and then I imagine that 15 miles from here, someone I know is feeling that pain and confusion and heart break and my heart aches for her.

While I was on the phone with my friend as he was telling me about his sister, Finn stopped playing and just looked at me. He does that a lot. He likes to listen to people talking. But he was looking at me so intently, with a serious expression on his face, like was really listening and understanding. And I looked at him as I was hearing this horrible news and remembering my own loss and I thought - thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for this beautiful baby who brought me out of the darkness and helped to heal my heart. And then he smiled a big smile at me. When I got off the phone, I picked him and hugged him very tightly. Which he does not always like, especially when he's playing. But this time, he let me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Dark Times

I just read a post from a new mom who is beyond tired, breastfeeding nonstop which makes for extra sore nipples, and dealing with a baby that seems to be getting increasingly fussy and hard to put to sleep. Sounds VERY familiar to me. That's where I was a few short months ago. Brings me right back. I could have written that exact post when my son was three weeks old.

Two things struck me as I read her post. Number one, I am SO thankful that we are out of the "dark times." My brutally honest friend coined this phrase after she had her daughter. She is the friend who will always tell you like it is. And boy she held nothing back about motherhood. She talked about pooping during pushing, how bad it hurt to poop the first time after giving birth, how coo-coo crazy she felt from sleep-deprivation, how once she let her baby just scream in her crib for an hour when she couldn't take it anymore, how she had to take a vicodin and drink a half a bottle of wine before she and her husband had their first post-baby sex....all those beautiful stories that back then made me think to myself "I am NOT ready to be a mom." I think it helped prepare me for the dark times. I mean, no one can REALLY be ready for the dark times. Even though someone may have told you all about it you don't really understand how dark it is until you are experiencing it yourself. But I'm glad she told me so I had SOME idea of the suckiness I was in for.

The other thing that struck me as I read this blogger's post was, how come we don't hear more about the "dark times?" Why aren't we more prepared for them? Shouldn't we be more honest with each other? Shouldn't we let people know how hard it is? Are we afraid of sounding ungrateful? Whiny? Wimpy? Like we don't know what we're doing?

The first few months of motherhood were wonderful and amazing and BLAH BLAH BLAH. Of COURSE its wonderful to have a new baby and of COURSE I felt incredibly grateful after all the shit we went through to get here. I would look at my teeny tiny and baby and just smile and feel the deepest sense of happiness I have ever felt. He would yawn in a cute way and I would cry. I took 250 pictures of him a day because he was so friggin cute and I wanted to remember him that small forever. I feel a love for my son that I have never known. Not even close. I love, love, LOVE being a mom. And all the wonderfulness makes the suckiness worth it in the end.

But, let's be honest. There are things about the first few months that fucking SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. That are unbelievably hard. I now believe that sleep-deprivation is torture. Being that tired is awful. I did not sleep for longer than 3 hours for 3 months. And getting 3 hours was a damn treat. Usually it was in 2 hour increments. I still rarely get more than 3 hours in a row. And breastfeeding does NOT just come naturally to everyone. My nipples hurt so bad I would cry out in pain or quietly cry during an entire feeding so I didn't scare the baby. My nipples didn't stop hurting for over two months. They STILL hurt sometimes. And the crying. Oh sweet Lord, the crying. The crying that is so loud and so shrill and right in your ear and never seems to end? The crying that makes you think to yourself for a second- seriously, I wanted a baby? Or maybe you can't even think because you are in a catatonic state so that you can survive the endless crying. Or maybe the baby is actually asleep but you still hear the crying ringing in your ears? And the not knowing what you're doing. Wondering if your milk supply is good enough. Wondering if the baby is crying because something serious is wrong with him. Wondering why their poop is that color. Wondering if they are still breathing. The endless wondering and not really knowing and googling....

I suppose there are people who find breastfeeding relatively easy, who have babies who "sleep through the night" at 6 weeks, who get back to having sex and it feels GREAT, who take showers and put on makeup every day....I kind of hate those people. But I think that in reality most people go through the "dark times." And I think its okay to talk about them. We SHOULD talk about them. To be honest about how hard it is. Not because complaining is a wonderful thing, but because when things are that sucky and hard you have to be able to talk about to to get through it. Its nice to feel like you are not alone, you are not a moron, you are not crazy and your baby is not some devil-incarnate but actually quite normal.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Chapter Ends

One of my favorite bloggers is ending her blog. I'm sure it wasn't the very FIRST babylost/infertility blog I ever read, but it was the first one that really meant something to me. Its the first blog I ever commented on. In fact, I signed up for this blog just so I could comment on hers. As soon as I read one of her posts, I had to read them all. She was friggin awesome - funny, smart, irreverant, brutally honest, a little twisted. She used lots of profanity and made up witty phrases. She didn't find the answers for her losses in religion or "everything happens for a reason." She wasn't overly sappy or boo-hoo, poor me. When I read her blog, I laughed, I cried, I related. I'm not sure why I'm using the past tense, she hasn't died or anything. She just has a new baby. And I guess that when she was pregnant she promised herself and her husband that when the baby was born, she would end her blog. And this is a huge thing to me. Because I found her blog when I was at the lowest point in my life and reading about her struggles helped me with my own. And now that I am in an incredibly happy point in my life, now that I'm finally the mother of a real, live baby, she is moving on because SHE is in that same wonderful place.

I don't exactly remember how I stumbled upon the infertility/babylost blogs...oh wait, yes I do. I was about to start my first round of injections and was nervous about it so I googled something related to how to do it or how it feels or possible side effects or something like that. And eventually my surfing brought me to the Creme de la Creme list on Stirrup Queens. And I just started reading. And reading. And reading. I read for HOURS. And I found this world of people who were going through the same thing I was. People who had trouble getting pregnant. People who lost babies. Even a couple of people who had anencephaly babies. These women were writing about so much of what I had been thinking and feeling and experiencing. After feeling so numb and confused and alone for almost two years, I found people like me writing about experiences that I could relate to. Unlike all my close friends, these women didn't get pregnant three minutes after saying "I want to have a baby." Unlike anyone I was close to in real life, many of these women had lost their babies.

Now I have to say, I believe I have the best friends in the world. Almost all of my friends and family were incredibly loving and supportive. I'm not sure how I could have gotten through losing the baby without them. And while love and support are important, so are shared experiences. For two years I had lots of love and support but very little shared experiences. The blogworld gave me that on a daily basis. It has been an important part of processing our losses and the struggle to get pregnant.

Now I mostly just read blogs. I occasionally will comment, but just reading is mostly enough for me. I know some people make real friendships online, but that just hasn't seemed to happen for me. I'm not sure why. Maybe I don't read and write regularly enough. And I think I have hard enough time really opening up to people and communicating in real, face-to-face life with people I have know for years. I get my comfort from just reading and writing and lurking about the blogworld. And I think that's okay.

But this blogger who is ending her blog? I will really miss her. Which feels a little weird because I don't really KNOW her. Although actually, I probably know things about her that people in her real life don't know. And our shared experiences make us kindred spirits in a way. I honestly feel like we could be friends in real life. And I know she would have continued to make me laugh and cry if she were to write about the joys and challenges of being a mother. I will miss her, but at the same time, I don't need her like I did before. I don't need to read as much and I don't need to write as much because I am in a different place I accomplished the goal and so did she - we birthed our babies. They are here, alive and healthy. Having my son doesn't erase the past or make me forget what it took to bring him into my life, but it sure does help.

So adios my favorite blogger. And thank you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Birth Story

I went to a St. Paddy's Day party this past Saturday and saw some friends I used to work with. The friends I worked with when I lost the baby. Who covered my classes, wrote lesson plans, found ways for me to get paid for the sick days even though I had used up my allotment for the year, who packed up my room when I had the second loss and missed the end of the school year, who still invite me to all their events even though I haven't worked with them in two years. They are truly wonderful people. The best people I've ever worked with. Why oh why did I leave that job?

But that's not what this post is about. I mention the party because they asked me about the birth and as I was telling the story I realized I'm already forgetting things. Greg corrected me a couple of times or added things I had COMPLETELY forgotten (which is probably for the best). So before I forget all the gory details, I shall attempt to get the story down for posterity's sake.

I had Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks before I gave birth. We even ended up in Labor and Delivery twice because they were so frequent. They weren't really painful, just uncomfortable. So on Christmas Eve, when they went from uncomfortable to painful, I didn't think TOO much of it. I had been running around all day getting ready for Christmas - wrapping presents, baking, doing laundry. I thought I was just overdoing it. I just needed to drink a bunch of water and get off my feet. But when we went to my parents house for dinner, I started keeping my eye on the clock and told the husband not to drink too much just in case. As the night went on, they got more painful and more regular, but I think I was in denial. I kept saying, "I'm sure this isn't it." My family told me afterwards that they could tell that I was actually in pain and that this WAS in fact it. While we were opening presents, I felt like I was in a fog. I kept having to stop and concentrate to get through them. I even had my sister in law do a little trim on my hair. I joked that if I was going to have my baby that night, I wanted my hair to look good in the pictures. I guess I am just THAT vain. And actually, after 32 hours of labor, the only thing that looked good in the pictures was my baby and my hair. But I am jumping ahead...

When Greg and I got home and I decided to call Labor and Delivery because the contractions were 5 to 6 minutes apart. They told me that since my water hadn't broken and I hadn't lost the plug to just stay at home for the time being - take a shower, try to sleep, etc. I did take a shower and I tried to sleep but I couldn't. The pain was too bad. It got progressively worse and worse. When they were about 4 minutes apart, I decided we were going in. By this time, it was 6 o'clock in the morning on Christmas Day. We were so excited because we were going to get a baby for Christmas!

At this point, the contractions were really starting to hurt. Not just hurt, but HURT. I was SURE they would check me right in and out would come a baby a couple of hours later. Ha. The triage nurse checked me and said I was only 1 and a half centimeters dilated!!! I was like....EXCUSE ME? Even though I had lost my plug in the bathroom while changing in to the hospital gown (which, by the way was GUH-ROSS - the plug, not the gown), she was about to send me home or out for a walk. But then I felt a whole bunch of wetness in the nether-region. She checked me and said "Well, your water broke, that's your ticket in." Woo hoo! Again, I was SURE that now that my water had broken, things would start moving along and we would have a baby in a few hours. Ha.

Now let me stop here and say that I didn't really have a birth plan. The only thing I cared about was having a live baby. That was the plan. However that could be accomplished was okay with me. But I did have this feeling like I wanted to go natural as long as I could. I never said I would definitely NOT get an epidural, I never said that I felt that using drugs in labor was EVIL or anything. But I did say I would try to go as long as I could without them. I just felt like, natural childbirth is NATURAL. That's the way women have done it for thousands of years. If they can do it, I can do it. I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, went to the birthing classes, bought a birthing ball. I was ready to give natural childbirth the old college try. Ha.

Approximately 1 hour after checking into our room, I asked for Fentanyl. I didn't want to do the epidural yet because I still wanted to be able to get up. But I was so friggin tired and the pain was keeping me from sleeping. So I thought, one shot of this stuff, I'll sleep a little and then we'll finish up. Let's just say I told myself this THREE times and never got to sleep. The Fentanyl helped dull the pain a LITTLE. All the while, I was doing my breathing and attempting the relaxation techniques, trying different positions, the husband was holding my hand, massaging my back - we were doing all the things we had learned. And I was doing okay.

Then came this hour period (my husband will say it was 10 minutes) of contraction after contraction. NO breaks in between. It was pretty awful. Let's just say this is when I asked (begged) for the epidural. Me, the person who used to pass out in the waiting room before having a blood test, asked someone to stick a needle in my spine (and didn't even flinch when they did it by the way). When the epidural had taken effect, I turned to Greg and said - and WHY did I wait so long to get this? Before the epidural - bad. After the epidural - good. So no more natural childbirth.

They checked me again after the epidural was started. I was only THREE centimeters dilated. It was noon on Christmas, I had been in labor for 20 hours and I was only dilated three centimeters! But I still thought I would have a baby for Christmas. I mean, how could I not right? Ha.

So the next 12 hours are a bit of a blur. They put an oxygen mask on me when the baby's heart rate dropped. They tried pitocin to move things along and then stopped it when the baby's heart rate dropped. There were a few scary moments when my nurses rushed in to move me around when the baby's heart rate dropped for no apparent reason. It always went right back up and they told me not to worry, that lots of babies do this. Not worry? Yeah right. I had my eyes on the monitor ALL DAY. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't pay attention to the TV (we brought some West Wing DVDs). I didn't freak out or vocalize my fears, but I was definitely nervous. I kept thinking - I can't have made it this far to lose him now.

Around 10pm (we had just about given up on having the baby for Christmas), my nurse told me it was time to push. Yay! After 30 hours of labor, I finally got to DO something and the end was near! It was my nurse, Greg and me. They held my legs. I pushed. I felt great. Things were progressing. Greg even got to take a peek at the top of his head starting to show through. The epidural made me comfortable but I could still feel the contractions so I knew when to push. My nurse was fabulous. She and Greg were cheering me along and supporting me. This was the best hour of the whole labor experience.

And then it all went bad. The monitor starting beeping LOUDLY. HIs heart rate was dropping again. Only really low this time. The doors bursts open and doctors and nurses rush in. They turned on all the lights. They all stood at the foot of the bed and around me, pushing my legs back, telling me to push the hardest I ever pushed. I'm thinking, I HAVE BEEN. I could hear the monitor beeping this whole time and it was the worst sound - like a knife in my heart. The doctor decided to try to vaccuum him out. I had to push while she was doing this. I officially started to lose it at this point. I was crying and pushing and praying. I kept looking at Greg and he was so calm. Telling me I'm doing great, its going to be okay. He kept me from have a total breakdown. Because I just really started to feel like, it wasn't going to happen. For nine months I had kept the fear at bay, focused on the positive, slowly but surely relaxed and let my guard down a bit and now, at the very end, something scary was happening. Something was going wrong. Again. And I was so afraid of losing him. It was a truly horrible few minutes.

At some point, his heart rate stabilized. I can't remember when. It may have been before the doctor told me she thought we needed to do a c-section or after. But I VIVIDLY remember saying "Do whatever you have to do to get my baby out alive." And I kept asking one of the nurses 'Is he okay now?" Since the danger had past, they probably thought I was being a bit dramatic. But I was done waiting and trying to remain calm and feeling scared. I just wanted him OUT.

The c-section was a bit of a blur too. Mind you, I had been awake for over 48 hours at this point. But I do know that I did NOT like it. No duh right? I mean, it was worth it. I'd do it again. I'd do it a hundred more times. I would have done ANYTHING to get my baby out and into my arms. But, honestly, I found it very disturbing. The whole being awake while your opened up thing. Especially after Greg and the baby left and they were finishing me up. I felt very alone. And nauseous. And cold. And scared. They had to bring in a second surgeon to help. Apparently they thought they nicked my bladder and there was "lots of cleaning up to do." I could hear them talking behind the drape but they weren't telling me anything directly so I was scared. Afterwards when I was in recovery the doctor told me that "this was not your average c-section." Awesome. She said that because I had been in labor for so long (over 30 hours) and the baby had started to descend into the birth canal, it was harder to get him out and clean me up.

But now let's backtrack to the good stuff. The moment I will never forget. I heard him cry before I actually saw him. He cried as soon as they got him out. The most wonderful sound I have ever heard. I remember thinking - that's a good strong cry. HE'S OKAY. He's alive. WE MADE IT.

A nurse swept him up and past me over to a table. They asked Greg what his name was and he said we didn't know yet. He looked over at me like "Well?", but he knew what name I really wanted. We had gone in with two or three possibilities, but wanted to wait to decide until we saw the baby. He told me he looked at the baby, saw his red cheeks and his angry-looking little face (I'd be angry too after what he went through to get out of there) and knew that Finley was perfect.

They measured and weighed him. I remember thinking - 6 pounds 15 ounces? That's not very big. I gained 50 pounds and he measured big at every ultrasound AND after trying to vacuum him out, the doctor said she thought maybe he was too big to come out that way. Hence the c-section. Obviously this was not the case. They told me later that he was sunny side up and after 30 hours of labor he was probably just too tired to get out that way. This also explains the HORRENDOUS back labor I had.

They wrapped him up and brought him over to me. He was so adorable. His face was all squished and red. He did look like a cute little angry Irishman. I got to touch his cheeks and tell him that he was beautiful and that I loved him. I just felt such wonder. I was looking at MY baby. It was surreal. And amazing. Not amazing like, "your new hair cut is amazing" or "this lasagna is amazing." But amazing like, nothing in my life can ever match this moment. Amazing like, this beautiful little person was just inside of me and now here he is looking at me. Unfortunately, I also felt terribly nauseous and was thinking to myself - don't puke on your baby. Just don't puke on the baby. After a few minutes they said they had to take him to the nursery. It took a few hours to get me finished up, into recovery, and then to our room. Our nurse said we could leave the baby in the nursery so we could get some sleep, but there was no way we weren't having him with us. I had only gotten a few moments with him in the three hours since he had been born and I needed him with me.

***Okay, I started writing this post a month ago and finally came back to finish it. And after re-reading it, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I feel like maybe I was focusing the story too much on how hard it was. But I mean, who really cares about how hard it was getting him here? Yes, 32 hours of labor was hard. Yes, there were scary moments. No, having a c-section was not ideal. I would much rather have pushed him out and had him immediately placed on my chest with Greg standing next to us for a beautiful, calm, non-puky, family bonding moment. But that's not how it turned out. Such is life. The whole three year process of trying to have a baby was hard. The pregnancy was hard. Birthing him was hard. Life can be difficult. But so what? He is here. He is healthy and beautiful. And I am very aware that some people don't have that. Some people are still where I was a year ago. Some people would do anything to get to have 32 hours of labor and a c-section. That's how I felt a year ago. The hard stuff about the birth is the stuff I had trouble remembering and for some reason felt the need to get down on paper before I forgot it. The wonderful moments like hearing him cry and seeing him for the first time are burned in my memory. Those are mental pictures and sounds that I will never forget.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This Year is Different

So Sunday was March 7. Three years ago on that date, I terminated my pregnancy. My baby girl died on March 7. She had anencephaly, no chance at life outside my womb. The week that we found out our baby's diagnosis, made our choice and lost her was the worst week of my life. I had never known such a loss, such sadness or experienced such grief before. March 7, 2007 marked the beginning of a very difficult period in my life. That loss would be followed by difficulty getting pregnant again, a second loss, more difficulty getting pregnant and then trying to conceive through fertility treatments. Those experiences changed me. Who I was and how I looked at the world shifted.

And I pretty much felt like shit for about 3 years. I mean, I was able to function quite well - continue working, take a vacation here and there, see friends, even celebrate the births of many of my friends' babies. I went to baby showers and kid birthday parties, I enjoyed the holidays with my family, I loved to sit in the sun and read, my husband and I worked on our house and the backyard.....I feel like I kept on living. I mean, what was the alternative? Curl up into a ball and cry for three years? Become bitter and angry, withdraw from the people who loved me? No. I was determined not to do those things. But there was a hole in my heart and a sadness in my being that was always there. Even when I felt pretty okay. Something was missing from my life - the baby that I lost and the baby I still wanted so badly - and that was always present. It wasn't necessarily always at the forefront of my mind, but it was always lurking in the background. Always with me. Even when I got pregnant with my son. The fear of losing him too was always present. Every milestone was surreal. I was cautious and careful with my heart. And while I slowly but surely allowed myself to enjoy moments of my pregnancy, not until I heard him cry after they took him out of me could I breathe deeply and let go of that fear.

And I don't think I truly appreciated what I was feeling and how I made my way through life before until after my son was born. You know how you never know how bad you really felt until you feel better? And actually, I think its more that I wasn't really FEELING. Not completely anyway. I wasn't miserable all the time, I just wasn't ever truly happy. I felt grey. Sometimes just a little grey and sometimes very grey, but definitely grey. And now the color is back. Having my son fills me with joy and brings me peace.

That doesn't mean I have forgotten how we got here. Or what we lost along the way. I still cried on Sunday for my baby girl. I thought about her all day. But its different this year. I cried and then looked at my beautiful baby boy who has filled the hole in my heart. Who has put the color back in my life. And I could smile through the tears.

On the second morning we were in the hospital, the doctor who did rounds was the doctor who performed the D&E three years ago. I haven't seen her since then, but I recognized her name instantly. And she recognized me. She said she was so happy to see me under these circumstances. After she left, I broke down and sobbed. I mean I cried like I haven't cried for almost three years. Cried like I almost never do. Just sobbed and sobbed. I cried because I hadn't thought about my first baby once since my son had been born two days earlier. Not once until I saw the doctor. That made me feel guilty and free at the same time. Guilty because I always imagined that she would be on my mind right as he was born and the first times I looked at him - like I wanted her to be a part of it and not forgotten. But I also felt freed. Freed from the pain and sadness of the past three years. Free because I could cry and cry and cry for the baby I lost, but then I could go and pick up my son and feel such overwhelming love and joy. I could feel, really FEEL, both extremes. I feel like that doctor came to me that morning for a reason.

This year is different. Better. Better doesn't begin to describe it. I am so blessed and grateful.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tired in my bones.....

My son is two months old (last Friday). Which means I have have not had a good sleep for 2 months. And I'm really starting to feel it. I feel like an old woman. At the end of the day I ACHE. My back and my legs HURT. My bones ache. And since that can't be attributed to working out or doing excessive physical activity, I chalk it up to complete and total exhaustion. In a way, I've gotten used to the lack of sleep. I can function quite normally throughout the day. I just really feel it in my body. And see it on my face. Oh the luggage under my eyes. And my skin is pretty hurting as well. I swear I look 5 years older than before I had the baby.

So I think I have to figure out how to get the husband to take a night or early morning feeding. Don't get me wrong - he is more than willing. He seems to feel quite guilty that he has been able to sleep so well. Its just that because of the hyperlactation thing, pumping is sort of a no-no, so I have been the only one able to feed him (which, by the way, means that the longest stretch of sleep that I have had in 2 months is a little over 3 hours...). And his work schedule is so wacky, its hard to know which feeding to put him on. But I have to do something. I need to get a good stretch in here and there. Its time.

On the baby front, my son gets cuter by the day. I can't believe how quickly he grows and changes. Lots of smiles and coos - I just love sitting and talking to him. And he "talks" back! He is such a neat little guy. He loves to smile and laugh. And other times he just stares at me with this look that I don't quite know how to describe. It feels like he is looking into me so deeply, so intently. It seems like an older person's look. I just wonder WHAT is he thinking? Forgive the juvenile phrase, but being his mother, watching him grow....its the best thing ever.

Thankfully his tummy is better - only one or two bad episodes a day instead of 24 hour misery. Either he's growing into his digestive system or my dairy-free diet or a combination both is helping.

He had his two month doctor's appointment. Dr. L says he is perfectly healthy and gaining weight at a good pace. He weighs almost 10 and a half pounds - 25th percentile, he's a little fella. He also got his first shots. He did NOT like that - I mean, why would he right? He scuh-REAMED bloody murder for 10 minutes or so and then passed out. The nurses said things like "Isn't it so hard to hear him cry like that?" and "The mommies usually cry more than the baby." I think that was some sort of a remark because I did not cry. Don't get me wrong, I hated to see my little guy in pain, but I have heard him cry like that MANY TIMES. That kind of crying was upsetting like a month and a half ago.

So I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of things around here. We have good days and bad. But we seem to have more and more good ones. I am SO glad that I am not working. First of all, I just don't know how I would do it. Between the lack of sleep and the breastfeeding...I think it would push me over the edge. Second of all, I don't want to be away from him. I get to see everything he does. Hear all his new noises. Put him in the new outfits. Peek in and look at him while he takes a nap. Soothe him when he cries. He's growing so fast - I don't want to miss anything.

Well, I can miss an hour or two (or three or four) here and there.....for some me-time or some girl-time which I have finally gotten to enjoy and do TRULY enjoy. Pedicures never felt so wonderful. A Bloody Mary at brunch with some of my buddies never tasted so good. Grocery shopping was never so fun. The little things have taken on a whole new meaning.....

Sunday, January 31, 2010

This is a rollercoaster

So being a mother is like a riding rollercoaster - highs and lows, ups and downs and all that. No duh right? Moments of joy and excitement, fun and exhileration, and moments of "I'm not sure I like this, I want to get off."

Let's start with the lows and then end on a high note:

1. My son had a week of almost unbearable fussiness. I mean the kid was either eating, asleep (for very brief periods of time) or screaming in pain (tummy/gas issues, maybe reflux...more on that later). Almost zero happy awake time. He was miserable and there was NOTHING I COULD DO. And that was awful. My baby was shrieking in pain and I could not help him. And I was so friggin sleep deprived, I just wanted to cry. Or lay down on the floor and sleep and let him cry. I did cry a few times, but I never laid on the floor. Things have improved, but I never fully appreciated how a shrieking newborn can make you crazy. Just 15 minutes of it feels like a lifetime.

2. My husband and I had our first big fight since the baby was born. Now I have written before about how wonderful he is, but no one is perfect right? I won't go into details, but he made me quite angry. This whole newborn period is very stressful and I guess we're figuring out how to navigate it without taking the stress out on each other and how best to support each other.

3. My son spit up blood. A gush of bright red blood that went all over his face, sleeper and the changing pad. It was very upsetting. Now I knew that it was probably from me - he had dots of blood in his spit up a day or two before and the advice nurse I spoke to said it was most likely from my nipples (which are still incredibly sore and obviously bleeding a little). But seeing that much blood come out of his mouth was not a happy moment. I called the advice nurse again and again she said it was probably from me. My head knew this, my heart did not like it. The fact that my nipples are bleeding is bad enough. Seeing it come of out of my son's mouth was not cool.

4. I took a picture of poo. Since this whole fussy/bad tummy period started, the kid's poops have stopped looking like "normal" newborn poops (the mustard, seedy ones - and by the way, tell me this. Why seedy? I assume there are no seeds in breast milk so why are there seedy things in his poop?). He had green ass-plosion poops. Watery messes. Then it was a medium brown. Then he moved on to very dark brown. One of those is what I ended up taking a picture of. It just didn't seem right. And the bad poops combined with the gas and fussiness - I just thought his doctor might need to know what they looked like. Luckily, when we saw the doctor, Finn had a huge ass-plosion so he could see one in real time. I did not have to bust out my camera. By the way, I have never talked or cared about poo so much in my life. When my smartass brother came to visit the first time, he said "So, do you guys just sit around and talk about poo now?" Yup. Pretty much.

5. Breastfeeding is still a struggle. Let's see - my nipples still HURT REAL BAD, I may have hyperlactation syndrome which is causing my son to have horrible tummy problems, or we may have thrush which is causing us both pain, turns out he is NOT a good latcher and I have let him do it wrong for a month, he also uses his tongue wrong so its giving my nipples the equivalent of rug burn....what else? And all of these are "maybe's." According to the lactation consultant, there is no way to know for SURE what is causing us both pain, so its trial and error. Try this for a few days and see if it works. If it doesn't try this for a few days and see what happens. Very frustrating. And meanwhile, while we trial and error this, he and I are still both hurting.

Okay, now for the highs.

1. HE SMILED AT ME. A big ol' smile while he was awake and looking and cooing at me. OMIGOD it was wonderful. I had seen some half-smiles before. And he's been smiling in his sleep for a couple of weeks. But this was DEFINITELY a smile FOR ME and it was amazing.

2. I recognized my son's cry. When we went to see his doctor to figure out this tummy stuff my mom came with us (G$ had to work). After the appointment, I went to the pharmacy to get some Mylicon and she stayed with him in the waiting area. While I was waiting in line, I heard a baby wail. And I knew it was him. Sure enough, my mom walks by the pharmacy with my shrieking kid to push him around the parking lot. Now maybe this is a "no duh." Of course you know your own kid's cry. But it made me feel like such a mom. I just wanted to tell everyone in line with me, "that's MY baby's cry and I KNEW it." It was one of those moments that makes me realize I am finally a part of the club I spent years wanting to join. One of those moments that I've seen people have or hear my friends tell stories about. And it happened to ME.

3. After a week of awful fussiness and nearly sleepless nights, my son let me sleep on and off for 12 hours. Granted I had to get up every 2-3 hours to feed him, but then he would fall back to sleep pretty easily and therefore, so could I. Omigod, I felt like a new woman the next day.

4. I went to the appointment with the lactation consultant by myself. I felt well enough to carry the car seat, deal with stroller and the diaper bag, the whole nine yards. And when we came out of the appointment and it was POURING rain outside, I didn't freak out. I also didn't have an umbrella and I was parked quite far from the entrance. A wonderful lady held her umbrella over us and we struggled to the car. I got soaked as I got him and all our gear in the car. The baby shrieked. But I did it. By myself. And I just laughed about it once we were safely in the car.

So there you have it. I'm sure there are more things I could add to both lists, but I can't remember them due to sleep deprivation. But I will say this: this is SO HARD. So totally worth it, but REALLY REALLY hard. And wonderful.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finn Photos

I mean he is seriously the cutest baby ever right?

Friday, January 22, 2010

4 Weeks Already?!

Four weeks ago, I gave birth to my son. Four weeks ago my world became infinitely richer and my life completely changed. These last four weeks have flown by and at the same time, it feels like he's been here forever. In honor of surviving four weeks of caring for my newborn, I've compiled a list.

10 Things I Could Not Have Lived Without in the First Four Weeks of My Son's Life

1. My Husband. He gets the number one spot. I have a wonderful husband. I cannot imagine doing this without him. I honestly don't know how single mothers do it. Or mothers with shitty husbands. My husband makes me feel safe and loved and supported. He cheered me on during my 32 hours of labor. He stayed calm and made me believe that everything would be okay when the baby was in distress and they prepped me for the C-section. He helped me in and out of bed (in the hospital) and on and off the couch (at home). He slept on the floor of our living room for almost 2 weeks when I could only sleep on the couch so he could be there to help me feed the baby at night. He dried me off after a shower and helped me get dressed when I couldn't lift my legs or bend over. He told me I looked beautiful when I know I looked like shit. He cooked, cleaned, changed diapers (I didn't change a diaper for over a week), answered the phone and dealt with visitors. I could go on and o During labor and the birth and the first weeks after, I was definitely the most vulnerable I have ever been in my entire life. I am not good at being vulnerable. I pride myself on being strong and able to handle anything. Being vulnerable is hard for me. And to feel that way and to have a partner who was there to help me through it....I feel such a deeper love for him. He has been just amazing. And on top of all that, he is a GREAT father.

2. My Meds. Oh vicodin how I love thee (and miss thee). Motrin ain't bad either. The combination of the two is heavenly. During our hospital stay, the nurses had to administer every dose. I get that. They can't just leave me with a bottle of Vicodin while I am in their care. But if they missed my "pill time" (which they frequently did) I would pick up my little phone and call them and GENTLY remind them to come put me out of my agony. The nurses who got me my meds on time were my favorite - I loved and appreciated them (I had almost all great nurses and I know they are overworked and my stupid pills are not necessarily THE most important thing for them at any given moment. But you get a little bitchy when you are in pain right?) I knew EXACTLY when four hours (for vicodin) and 6 hours (for Motrin) was up. I now truly appreciate the concept of "staying ahead of the pain." When we got home, Greg made a spread sheet to keep track of feedings, poo and pee, and my meds. That chart was my best friend. And I really understand how people can get addicted to pain meds. They make you feel so good. Oh, and one more pill. Colace. Oh Colace. Considering how bad trips to the bathroom were with me taking it twice a day....I can't imagine how things would have been without it.

3. Lansinoh. My poor nipples. At some point I assume they will stop hurting? I'm already on my second tube of Lansinoh. One of my book club buddies recommended Lansinoh when Iwas still pregnant. She spoke of it so passionately and lovingly. Now I understand why she was adamant that I have some ready to go.

4. Tivo. I loved tivo before and I hella love it now. Makes those late night (or morning or mid day) feedings fly by. I love my Law and Order reruns during the night feedings. You can't watch a new show that time of night. You might fall asleep and miss something. And its hard to hear the TV when burping the babe. So reruns of my favorite show are perfect. And my new shows are recorded, waiting for me to get a free moment to watch them (I can't believe how much stuff I have waiting for me on tivo - Grey's, Project Runway, Daily Show. I guess I'll get caught up when he goes to preschool).

5. The Swing. My friend lent me her swing. The big Fisher Price Papasan one. Turns out that thing is my best friend. Because after sleeping happily for almost two weeks in the pack and play, my son decided he could only sleep in the swing. Oh, he'd also be happy to sleep ON me or in my ARMS, but since that is not really an option (except for the occasional nap when I am desperate), the swing it is. I would not get any sleep if it wasn't for that swing. And at first I felt a little weird about it (okay, I still feel a teeny tiny weird about it). Like, should he really be sleeping in his swing? Is it safe? Am I starting some horrible habit? And I decided that he is still brand new - you can't spoil them at this age right? And I HAVE TO SLEEP. So whatever.

6. Food Brought by Family and Friends. I would have starved without it. Or had to live on protein bars and potato chips. People who bring new moms food are AWESOME. I vow to always be that guy in the future.

7. The Internet. Email and Facebook were my little window to the world since the only trips I took out of the house were to the doctor or short walks around the neighborhood. Reading the blogs made me feel better - reading about people I've followed for awhile have their babies, or progress through their pregnancy or get pregnant made me feel happy. And reading about people with babies the same age as mine go through the same things that I am going through makes me feel better, like I am not alone. And boy, Google has gotten a workout - I've looked up countless things I was worried about - newborn sleep patterns, reflux, thrush, breastfeeding problems, c-section recovery.....just to name a few. My husband would say this is a NEGATIVE thing about the internet, that I need to relax and not worry, but he is wrong.

8. A Great Swaddling Blanket. Needs to be square. And big. Stretchy is nice too.

9. The Boppy. My neck, arms and shoulders are pretty goddamn sore. But they would be infinitely worse without the Boppy (and the 5 other pillows I keep handy).

10. My camera and the Flip. Because I have to record every adorable moment of my little son's life! I think he already hates it when the flash is constantly going off but I just tell him to get used to it - I'll be annoying him in this way for the rest of his life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Poor gassy baby

So we had a rough night last night. Little man was up for several hours with gas (I think it was gas - so hard to know what's really going on with them since they can't tell you what's wrong - that's the most annoying thing about those newborns).

Anyways..... after one night of the h*ppiest b*by on the block, we were back to fussy baby. I was SO happy after we had a night of "every three hour feedings and then the kid goes down pretty easily." It was heaven. But the Universe quickly brought me back down to Earth. I expected as much, but after only one night? Doesn't seem fair.

On Tuesday, G$ and I watched the Happpiest video, swaddled our kid right up, shushed like crazy people and jiggled him right to sleep after every feeding. It made for some good laughs. I wish we had the camera out for me jiggling him as I walked to the swing. But it WORKED.

My dad got me the video for a shower gift - I'm not sure why I waited until the kid was almost 4 weeks old to watch it. Brilliant (note to self - watch how-to videos BEFORE the baby is born). I think it could have saved me some pretty brutal nights. But I really like it - the whole concept of the 4th trimester makes sense to me. And my little man really does take to the 5 s's. I mean, we were already swaddling and shushing, but the happiest swaddle is WAY better than what I was doing - he can hardly get his arms out now and I think that keeps him much more calm. The little monkey would always wriggle his arms out before - the strength on this little guy is crazy. But the side thing was new to me. And the side with jiggling combo works like a charm. He is even sort of taking a pacifier after I used the strategy I saw in the video (I am ALL for the pacifier and I have been so sad that my kid would just spit it out or SCREAM at you if you dared to try to put it in his mouth). So anyways, like I said, Tuesday night was heaven.

Then came Wednesday. After the 3am feeding, he started to fuss and I quickly went through the 5 s's. None of them worked. Or they would work for a bit and then I would try to put him down and he would start up again. Then there was the time I had him completely asleep, in the swing, me snug in my blankies on the couch, about to fall asleep.....he starts to cry again.

Poor guy had gas. I just know it. During the feeding, I tried to burp him like I always do, but he would cry and cry and want back on so bad, that I just let him. I was HOPING he didn't need to burp, but I knew he probably did. He also pulled himself off violently a couple of times (that felt fecking GREAT) like he was in pain. So I burped him in all the positions I could think of and I jiggled him and talked to him and bounced him. He was SO tired - yawning and nodding off. I could tell he wanted to go to sleep so bad, he just couldn't. Slowly but surely we got some burps out, I fed him again and he finally settled down. My darling husband told me to go to bed (he had gotten up to help after two hours) - he would stay up with the baby. So I did. And I woke up two glorious hours later to hear my little dude crying, ready for the next feeding. And did the baby sleep that whole two hours? Of course he did. Because it was my husband's shift right?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time is flying by.....

My little boy is asleep in his swing (the only place he will sleep lately), I have had a cup of coffee, checked my email, Facebook and some blogs, used the bathroom, did my hair (sort of) and put on some powder and covered up the luggage under my eyes - its a good morning. Why do my hair and put on some makeup? Its not like I am going to leave the house or anything. Well, after two days of barely showering and doing NOTHING to fix myself up and therefore feeling like shit any time I accidentally caught my reflection in a mirror or window, I decided that, if I can, I will take the 5 minutes in the morning to make myself look a little better because it makes me FEEL better.

Anyways...I caught up on some blogs of ladies who had their babies around the same time as we did. Apparently we are all having similar, no strike that...the EXACT same experiences and challenges with sleeping, breastfeeding, fussy babies, etc etc. It makes me feel better to know I am not alone. I am not a bad mother. My baby is not a horrible, fussy baby. This is just the way it goes. Phew. Of course I already KNEW all of this, but its nice to get a concrete reminder, to see that somewhere in the world, mothers are going through the same things that I am.

And then I read this one post that was about all the things the mother wanted to remember. All the wonderful things her baby does that she loves and doesn't want to forget. She wrote this long, beautiful list of things her baby does and how he looks when he sleeps and how clothes that were too big now fit. And she wrote about how much he has changed already....and I started to cry. Because I feel the same way. I look at my little boy and I can't believe how much has happened and ho much he has changed in three and a half short weeks. And it really hit me how fast time is flying by.

Will I remember how he only opens one eye when he waking up or about to fall asleep and he looks like this adorable little Popeye? Or how he makes these wonderful squeaking noises? Or how he will suddenly thrust one arm in the air as if to say "power to the people?" Or how sometimes the one arm thrust will look more like he is raising his hand to ask a "Um mom, can you please change my diaper?" Or how he absolutely swam in the monster sleeper when I first put it on him the week we got home...and now its almost too small? Or how he smiles in his sleep and its just the most beautiful thing I have ever seen?

I want to remember all these things. I want to write them down. I want to take more pictures. And, as difficult as these first weeks are, I wish that time would slow down.

So..I am determined to write more. I have said this before and nothing came of it - and that was when I was pregnant and had all the time in the world to write or read or watch TV or leave the house or cook or do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to!!!! But I digress.

If I can get a small post in every day or two, I will be happy. I should say happy-ER. Because as tired and overwhelmed as I am and as difficult as this whole newborn thing is, this is the happiest I have ever been.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Son

My son was born on December 26 at 12:12am. He was 6 pounds 15 ounces and 21 inches long. He is healthy and beautiful and I am so in love. I could stare at him all day. I've only had him (on the outside) in my life for 17 days and it feels like forever. It is WONDERFUL (and tiring and overwhelming and surreal and painful - for my boobs anyways - and a million other things.....).

I think we are are doing pretty well. But the days just seem to get away from me. I can't believe he is already 2 and half weeks old. All of a sudden it will be dark out and I think - what did I do today? Feed my baby (the breastfeeding has had its ups and downs), try to get some sleep, have some visitors...not much else. Although we are starting to get into a tiny bit of a routine and I am finally feeling better and able to get up and around on my own (Finn's birth was 32 hours of labor and then a c-section).

This is the first time I've logged onto the blogs since he was born and I have so many to read and so much to catch up on. And at some point, I will write out his birth story and post some pictures. But my little man is starting to fuss a bit so I must go and check on him.