Sunday, April 13, 2014

More sleep stuff



If you've been reading lately, you may have heard me complain about sleep.  The lack of it, really.  If Teddy had been our second baby, I'm guessing he would have been our last.  Or, at least, he wouldn't have had a sibling so close in age.  He is a really, really terrible sleeper.  After the first week, when he settled into his pattern of 2-3 hour stretches of sleep, I felt a little crazy.  But I looked forward to him being a little older, remembering that by the one month mark both of our girls were sleeping a bit better.  One month came and went, with no real change.  At his two-month appointment I asked the pediatrician about this, hoping for some encouragement.  She said that by 4 months, almost all breastfed infants are doing pretty well.

Right before 3 months, he started giving us a couple 4-5 hour stretches, and I thought we had made it.  Into the land of I-can-tolerate-this-for-a-while.  But a few days later he got sick, and went to hourly wake ups.  And then this past week it got even worse, with half-hour wake ups (or, perhaps, never really going to sleep, but I was too tired to be sure).  I didn't even feel safe driving.  I found myself on roads I didn't even remember turning down.  One particularly bad 3 a.m. I gave up.  I bough the Ferber e-book and read.  Not all of it, but enough of it, and particularly the parts that were relevant for us.

That makes the third sleep book I purchased.  The No-cry Sleep Solution (total crap, if you ask me), which we read with thoughts of sleep-training MJ.  The Sleepeasy Solution, which worked for Greta (who really didn't require much of anything, but it was helpful when we decided we had to get her sleeping a little better).  But Teddy's still so little, and only Ferber purports to be able to do anything with babies that little.  So Ferber it was.

In one night we took away the swaddle, the pacifier, and put him on his tummy (not a Ferber recommendation, but something I felt was necessary).  I was so sleep deprived the risk of SIDS seemed minimal, though the next day I freaked out and bought a movement monitor after having nightmares of him stopping breathing.  Ferber recommends letting them cry for 3 minutes, then checking on them, 5 minutes, check, 7 minutes, check and 10 minutes.  The first 3 minutes, the first time, was torture, as he screamed bloody murder.  I checked on him, he calmed down, then cried a bit more, but I didn't have to go in a second time.  It was awfully quick.  Although he cried a bit longer at subsequent wake ups, they were always more like fussing in which he calmed himself down.  The first night he woke only 3 times.  The second night only twice.  By the 3rd night he was putting himself to sleep.

I've always been opposed to hardcore sleep training.  I don't think a baby this age needs to be forced into some rigorous schedule.  As such, I'm really not trying to get him to sleep through the night, just trying to get him to sleep.  He now wakes twice a night, eats and goes back to sleep.  I can tolerate that.  I fully expect some sort of regression in the future, because he seems to be waking unnecessarily to eat, but I'd rather worry about that when he's older and has the physical control to comfort himself more easily.  The whole thing makes me wonder, if we'd done some sort of sleep training with MJ, whether she would sleep better now.  She still struggles to put herself to sleep unless she is totally exhausted, whereas Greta is expert at it.  Although I don't think I could have handled Ferber's suggestion that if the child gets so upset they puke, you just quietly clean it up and leave again, neither Greta or Teddy has had much issue at all with sleep training.  The couple minutes of crying they endured (I think we had one half-hour spell with Greta and that was it) is certainly less than the amount MJ cried as we struggled to get her to sleep without actually sleep training her.

My perspective on this has changed so much since having kids.  From first kid to third my position has mostly reversed (though I still don't support the rigorous schedules that some parents strive for).  If you have the mental capacity to be a sane and kind person with very little sleep, then go for it and wake hourly.  I did not.  My children certainly benefit more from a well rested mom and the ability to put themselves to sleep, and the little bit of crying they went through seems minuscule in comparison.

I really appreciate the comments and support that people left for me here and on instagram.  I'm sure this isn't the end of our sleep troubles, as Teddy still flails so much and is so active that I see more in our future.  But we've reached a place where I can be more sane for the next bit until we go through some other sleep transition.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Help.

Worst night of sleep yet.  I am absolutely losing my mind.  Does anyone have any thoughts, encouragement or ideas on what to do with this kid? Sleep training for a baby this young?  I have tried everything, but he is up every 45 minutes.  He starts the night by putting himself to sleep, which all the sleep books say is the key.  We've tried swaddled. Swung.  What am I missing?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Three months together




If I had written this post when Teddy actually turned 3 months, a week ago, I would have slightly different things to say.  Partly because I was on vacation and feeling blissed out, and partly because he had finally figured out how to sleep.

A week later, a week late, neither of those things are true.  Husband has been out of town the past couple days, and for the past week Teddy has been up 7+ times a night.  I've long since figured out that every parent claims their kid didn't sleep the first year.  I was actually the anomaly in claiming that mine were pretty good sleepers the first year.  But upon further inquiry, I have discovered that most people who claim this actually had fairly decent sleepers.  Up a few times a night, which I consider to be totally doable.  Even Greta, my best sleeper, was up a couple times a night the first year, and I counted that as good sleep.

Teddy is in a totally different league.  I really stop counting how many times I'm up once I get past 3 or 4, because what does it matter?  He's up a  Lot.  Sometimes sustained wake ups, a bunch in a row, so did he ever really go to sleep?  Did I?  The math gets fuzzy.

For reasons I don't understand, when we were in Florida last week he slept quite good.  Up 3ish times a night, totally doable.  Then he got sick and started waking up a ton (understandable) and has been terrible since.  What has changed?  I don't know.

So this 3rd month has been dominated by a lack of sleep.  Worse sleep, even, than previously (with the exception of that one week...)  We've tried having him sleep on his tummy.  There was a lot of soul searching before that decision, and a lot of arguments between hubs and I, until we both got so exhausted we decided we'd do just about anything to get him to sleep.  He sleep pretty good on his tummy, if he'd go to sleep.

But then, a week ago, he started rolling over.  Just like that.  I hadn't given him any tummy time in Florida, and felt guilty.  When we got home I put him on his tummy and he flipped right over.  I did it again, he rolled again.  Both ways.  Neither girl was rolling this early, so I was shocked, especially because he don't get much tummy time (he can't be left so exposed with Greta around).

I had some much needed time away this month, with the help of our wonderful baby sitter.  It's such a glorious feeling to actually miss him a little bit.  To not feel the constant craziness of being surrounded by these little people, and actually get reminded of what a miracle it is to be in charge of all these little people.  It's a weird little world we've built for ourselves here.  Time spent out in the adult world reminds me of how surreal all these kids and their needs are.

This was also the month when I got better and braver about taking all of them out.  Particularly our travel to Florida, which was fairly epic.  What is so amazing to me is how much street cred we get for our passel.  Walking through the airport with three littles, when I actually had a husband to help, I heard echoes of "oh my gosh, look at all those kids" or "wow, busy mama" all around us.  In some sense I really appreciate the recognition that this is hard.  It's not just in my head that it's hard, it's universally recognized as hard.  But it also makes me wonder, because this didn't use to be so uncommon.  What has changed that now everyone thinks it's so difficult to have 3 little kids when it used to be the norm?

I spend much of my time feeling like I'm losing my mind. Everyone crying, all the time.  Greta constantly crying, because she's at that age of frustration where she can't really talk and yet has such clear ideas about what she wants.  Most of the time, it's because she wants me to pick her up when I'm holding Teddy or because she's frustrated she can't manage to carry more stuff.

But I digress, little man.  As before, this post is less about you and more about all of us.  Because that's how it is these days, you just don't get alone time.  Though that reminds me, we actually did get time alone!  Our friends Erin and Ben offered to take both girls for a night, which was just amazing.  It was the first time I got to be alone with Teddy since the hospital, and it was so nice.  So peaceful.  Hubs was working, so we got to hang out with some folks and just chat, something I never get to do while chasing 2 other littles.

At your 2 month appt. (about 3 weeks late) I found that you are doing just great.  Growing great.  GIANT head, 99th percentile now.  I swear it doesn't even look that giant to me, but I must just be used to it.  You hold it up so well, it seems to not phase you.

I have cut down 2 pumping sessions this month, so I am now pumping only 6 times a day, and not much at night.  I actually might have done that last month, I don't remember.  It's been at least 4 weeks now, and I was doing fine.  You were getting about a bottle a day of formula, so not bad.  But then we travelled to florida.  I think the irregular schedule messed with everything, and my supply dipped significantly.  I can't decide how much to care.  I alternate between desperately wanting to stop, just for the sanity saver, and feeling like I should work to increase my supply.  I find it frustrating that I'm pumping just as much as I was and am getting so much less.  My supply has significantly dipped around this time with all the kids, so maybe that's just how it works?  Maybe I consistently mess up at the same time with all of them?  This is such a fraught topic for me.  I can't wait to be done so I never have to stress about breastfeeding again.  Definitely not a high point for me.

Alright, little man.  I've bemoaning all the problems, but I have to mention that you're awfully cute.  You are such a little chatterbox.  I was looking back at Greta's and MJ's posts, and they were not chatting this much by now.  For weeks now, you chatter away and look like you're trying to have a real conversation.  When we are in public, you will grin and chatter at strangers and do your darnedest to get them to look at you.  You've spent a lot of time this month in the Moby, and have recently become intolerant of facing in, insisting on looking at the world around you.  This part reminds me of MJ, who was also incredibly social at a very young age, and may mean we have another crazy, social butterfly on our hands.  Your favorite thing in the world is to watch people talking, and you love story time for this reason.  You are quite definitely fascinated by language in a way that I don't remember the girls being.  Once we get this sleep thing figured out, life will become glorious.  Because you are such a wonderful addition to our family, and the fun that you add is just amazing.  Please, please little guy, start sleeping.  That's all I ask.

Love always,
Mama

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here's how it is for us.



I find myself drawn to every article and blog post that discusses having lots of kids.  Am I seeking advice?  Comfort?  Reassurance?  All of those, I suspect.  I feel like an anomaly, having this many little ones.  I don't have any close friends with more than 2 kids, therefore few sounding boards.  (Though we do have three neighbors down the block with three older kids, and I see them as hope that, in fact, one can survive all this.

It turns out, though, that 3 kids is not all that uncommon.  According to the U.S. Census, 28% of women have 3 or more kids by the age of 44.  I find this to be pretty shocking, because I often feel we are swimming in children.  It seems that we are the anomaly, having this many children.  Three children.  Who does that?  What I can't seem to figure out is what sort of spacing is common. 3 kids under 5 seems pretty crazy.  2 kids under 2 seems even crazier.

Here are the things that I find so notable about our numbers so far.

1)  The sheer physicality of this time is astounding.  When I sit down at the end of the night, after the kids are in bed and the necessary chores completed, my whole body aches.  I feel I have run a race.  Each and every day.  Much of this is the age of the kids, I know.  I am often having to lug a baby in a carseat in one arm and a squirming toddler in a snowsuit in the other.  Or I am picking up a toddler and putting her in the high chair whilst I am holding a baby in the other arm and giving him a bottle with my chin as my third hand.

2)  I don't necessarily long for the naps to align themselves.  While it is a nice break when it happens, it is a nice break when anybody is sleeping.  If one or two of them are sleeping (the baby and/or the toddler), that gives me a chance to spend some quality time with the big kid.  That's when we spend time reading or chatting.  If all the naps aligned, I would never get alone time with anyone.

3) I am so thankful that I was a hard ass with the girls sleep.  When I found out I was pregnant with Teddy, I decided Greta needed to become a perfect sleeper.  We did cry-it-out, and she is a perfect sleeper now.  I read other blogs where women are getting up with all of their kids, and I just know I couldn't handle that.  I can't be a nice enough person.  Better they cry a little bit and figure out how to sleep, than cry a lot later on because Mom is too tired to be nice to them.

4)  The car seat thing doesn't even phase me anymore.  I used to get annoyed with having to strap one kid into a car seat.  I absolutely dreaded dealing with three kids in car seats.  I care less now than I did with one kid in a car seat.  Because really?  It doesn't matter.  It is what it is, it's not going to change.  If only I could start to feel that way about the messy house.  It still drives me nuts, every single day.

5)  The husband has really stepped up to the plate.  Whereas before he left me to do a lot of the parenting (and parenting prep), he now steps up to help constantly.  It has made a huge difference.  We're lucky if we get an hour to ourselves at the end of the night, and often have to forsake sleep to make it happen.  But at least we're in it together.

6)  When the kids are awake, there is no space in my head for anything other than parenting.  The days go oh-so-quickly, even if we're stuck inside, because every possible moment is filled with some little person's want or need.  For the most part this is fun.  But I also find it's affected my health.  With three plugged ducts, a round of mastitis and a UTI turned kidney infection, I have realized that I don't even make time for my basic needs.  Feeding myself, giving myself water and a bathroom break, are often put off until nap time and bed time.  With my latest infection I realized something has to give.  I now pump a lot less than I was.  And I force myself to drink a lot more water.  So far, it has worked out better.

7)  My poor oldest.  She has always been so independent.  So with the advent of two littler ones, I have relied on her a lot.  She loves it, in some ways.  But I also know that I probably expect more out of her than most 4-year-olds can deliver.  I often forget she's still so little.  It's not until I have a rare outing alone with her that I remember she's still a little kid.  She is not as grown up as she so often seems in the presence of her younger siblings.  I have to remind myself constantly to cut her more slack (and often fail to remember this altogether until the husband reminds me that I'm not being fair to her).  We still have a contentious relationship.  I am reading a book on parenting preschoolers to hopefully remedy that.  It has helped a bit so far, though I have a long way to go.

8) It is fascinating to see even little Greta learn to help.  She has become pretty adept at finding Teddy's pacifier when he's crying.  The fact that everyone is pitching in, without even having to be asked, is something I hadn't expected.

This is life with three, two months in.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Holding on by our fingernails: 2 months as a family of 5

He almost always has a skeptical look on his face.  I think he's wondering how he got assigned to this particular family.
Little dude, this post is a lot less about you than it is about us.  Because you do what babies do.  Namely, everything but sleep.  I should be used to it by now, but I am not.  The reality that you are a troubled sleeper is finally sinking in.  There is no magic age you need to hit in order to sleep better, I think you are just a generally crappy sleeper.  Up 3 to 5 times every night.  It is terrible.  Your longest stretch is from about 7 to 12 most nights, though sometimes it's just 7 to 10.  But the earliest I could climb into bed, if I tried very hard and got all my chores done quickly, would be 8.  And if I want a moment to myself, then it's more like 9.  I have learned that if I do that, and don't have a drop of alcohol (which upsets my sleep just enough) and don't have a drop of coffee after about 8:30 in the morning, then I can survive with some grace.

But gosh, all that is hard.  I am such a night owl, always have been.  I feel a bit crazed going to bed so early.  And I love to have a beer after the kids go to bed.  And I love coffee.  All these things... go against my nature.  Against my habits.  Sometimes I do them anyway, and then I am tired and grumpy and lose my temper, primarily with MJ.

I think that if you were our second child you would have been our last.  Someday you'll have to thank Greta for being a pretty great sleeper.  The upside, that gives me hope, is that you generally go to sleep pretty easily.  Sometimes I look over at you in your bouncy seat and you are sound asleep.  Without a peep, you just drift off.  So at some point, maybe you'll become a good sleeper?  I have nothing against sleep training this time around.  When I feel you are ready, it will be time.  For the sake of everyone in this family, mama needs better sleep.  I can't forsake everyone else.  So that is coming down the pipeline.

This has been a tough month.  I really should be writing more, because I'm sure my sleep deprived brain will remember nothing.  We went with some friends to a cabin up north, which was lovely.  Just to get away for a couple days.  No chores to do.  Arriving to a tidy cabin with no toys scattered everywhere.  No bathrooms to clean.  Getting to just chat with friends, in spite of our children's early bedtimes.  It was lovely.

There was also a bout of mastitis two weeks ago.  And a clogged duct before that (or was that last month?).  I've never had these problems before, but have already had three of them since Teddy has been born.  We did a bit of breastfeeding this month, but he's still just terrible at it.  Nurses for a bit, just enough to take the edge off his hunger, and then he's hungry again 20 minutes later.  I still end up needing to pump because he doesn't nurse well.  I tried to just go for it while we were at the cabin and hubs was there to help, figuring baby boy would figure it out if that was his only option.  But no.  I basically just spent 2 solid days nursing.  It was terrible.  So I still try to nurse on occasion, but have pretty much given up hope.  Especially after that bout of mastitis, it's just not worth risking that he doesn't empty me and then I get a clogged duct.  In fact, now that I think about it, I think it's been about 4 days since I last even tried.  This recent study again makes me question whether the hour (usually more) I spend pumping every day is truly worthwhile.  Even Greta has come to hate my pump, because she knows it means I will be sitting down, not playing, not doing what she wants for a while.  She hears me say "I have to pump" and freaks out.  I don't know how much longer I'll continue.  I have stopped pumping as much at night, usually just once or twice, for the sake of more sleep.  That has helped, though doesn't do any favors to my supply.  Ugh.  I'm just tired of thinking about it, stressing about it, wondering if I'm making the best decision.

Teddy has remained healthy despite a few viruses making their way through the house.  Protective benefits of breastmilk?  Responsible hand-washing habits?  Who's to say.  This month, he became happy just sitting there.  He did not need to be constantly held.  If he's well fed and not overly tired I can set him down while I wash dishes or eat lunch and he just looks around.  His sisters make sure he has plenty to look at, so I can't imagine he's bored.  And Greta has started to learn how to be nice to him.  Which includes getting his pacifier when he cries and not trying to scratch his eyeballs out.

We also found a nanny this month.  She's a college student, an early education major, and the girls just love her.  This past week we had our first date night, and I also had an afternoon to get some work done (in preparation for this class I'll be teaching this summer).  I was so nervous about finding a nanny, and leaving the kids with someone we didn't really know, and I now feel so comfortable.  Greta climbed right into her lap like she'd known her forever.  In fact, I've never seen Greta so comfortable with someone she didn't know.  It is the best feeling to have a nanny hired and feel completely comfortable with it all.  On top of that, she actually picked up after the kids (something I've had such a hard time getting a babysitter to do!)  She is everything we were hoping for.

All in all, I can mostly just say we're surviving.  We knew having kids this close in age would be challenging, and we were so very right.  Our social life has mostly disappeared.  Anything other than just surviving with the kids is a rare event.  Part of this is the cold, which has been extreme this year.  I am hopeful that when the weather turns Teddy will be sleeping better, and we'll reach the magical land of well rested, home made meals, long walks for exercise and all those healthy things that will make us better.  In the meantime, here we are.  Thankful for the amnesiac effects of fatigue and early childhood on us and the littles.  But also making sure I record this so as not to think this was a magical, care free time.

I love you little man.  I'm so glad you're part of our family and you really do make everything feel complete.  Perhaps all these wake-ups are just your way of insuring you get some quality one-on-one mama time, just like the girls had in their day.  I'm trying to soak in your babyness while I can, and remember how fleeting these days are.  Give me a few more zzz's and I promise to do a better job at all of that.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Oh, G.



In all the rush and chaos of your new brother, I forgot that you passed a milestone, too.  18 months.  All toddler, all the time.  I have loved every age you've been through, even the ones I sort of dreaded, such as this.  Your sister was a very hard toddler, so I sort of dreaded it this time.  I'm not sure that you're much easier, but this time I was prepared.  I knew what I was up against.  And because you're home with me, you get a lot more sleep and therefore a happier kid.  It turns out that if your kid is destroying your house but is smiling and laughing while you do it, it's hard not to smile and laugh yourself.  Even while watching your socks get put in the garbage can.

A few of your faves at this age.
- Chattering all. the. time.  I understand only a small number of the things that come out of your mouth, but you seem convinced that you're having a conversation with me.  I will never know whether there's actual content behind your gibberish, or whether you're just imitating the patterns of speech you hear around you.  I suspect the latter, but you seem to think the former.
- Putting babies to bed.  All over the house.  In every nook and cranny.  You also love to steal your brothers bottles when he's finished with them and either stick them in your play kitchen or give them to your babies.
- Your sister.  Everything she does is fascinating to you.  If she wants to play with you, you are always on board.  It is cool that she is also starting to find you so fun.  Despite occasional tussles over toys, you seem to have the makings of a wonderful friendship.
- Fruit.  Spaghetti.  Frozen peas.  ORANGES ALL THE TIME.  Salmon.
- Tormenting poor Vito.  Your land yourself in timeout for this constantly and yet it seems to make no difference.  I do not know how to get this to stop.  He seems to be getting more frustrated with you, though then you go get a pile of dog food and bring it to him and he forgives you.
- Saying hi to strangers.  I absolutely love this.  Often you're sitting in the cart at the grocery store, and everyone that walks by simply must say hello to you. You will insistently shout "Hi!  Hi!  HI!HI!HI!" until they pay attention and say hi back.  Without fail it brings a smile to everyone's face.

G, you get more fun and more precocious by the day.  You are growing up fast, largely because you want to do what your sister does, and already seem to be ready to put the high chair away.  You already pay attention to letters and ask me what they are.  And books, all. the. time.  They are your constant companion.  Although I constantly compare and contrast you to your sister, I love seeing you become your own person.  You have rocked my world little one, and now you're starting to rock everyone else's.  Thanks for joining our family.

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The last 1-month post





Little man,

I can't believe we're already a month into this gig.  As before, it continues to amaze me how much faster the newborn phase goes than the late-pregnancy phase.

You and I are really just getting to know one another.  I am trying to soak up every moment of your babyhood because I know I won't get these moments again.  I love taking a nap with you cradled in my arms, and know full well that is not the kind of thing you get to do with any baby other than your own.  And your older sisters show me just how little time I have to enjoy it, as they instantly squirm out of my arms to play with a toy or chase each other around the house.

I think breastfeeding is just not going to happen for us, but I'm happy that I'm still able to provide all your nutrition, and in the end it probably works better for our life at the moment. Trying to chase a toddler if you take 45 minutes to eat just won't cut it.  You will probably never get the attention from me that your sisters have gotten, but instead you will get extra attention from two amazing older sisters.  That seems like a fair trade, especially since you get to have them forever.  Your sisters adore you, even if G expresses that by trying to poke you in the eye or steal your pacifier.  I look forward to having you all gang up on your Dad and I someday (I may regret saying that).  But I think the three of you may turn out to be the best of friends, a thought that just warms my heart.

At one month old, you sleep fairly decently, usually giving us a couple 3 to 4 hour stretches at night.  I'm hoping this is the month that you start to sleep even better so we can feel a little more human.  You are also a loud, loud little man.  You get absolutely furious if we don't instantly tend to your needs.  No helpless newborn cry for you, you make it clear that you are MAD.  I'd have to say that your favorite thing is when we blow-dry your bum after a diaper change, which instantly calms you down (and helps combat diaper rash.)

You will forever be the third, but you will also forever be my baby.  The baby.  You marked the occasion of your first month on earth by smiling at me this afternoon.  I tried to get a picture but it was little more than a flicker.  Watching your face light up, though, was such a beautiful promise of things to come and softens the blow of the days that have already passed me by.  Thanks for joining our team little one.

Love,
Mama

Monday, January 27, 2014

Day in the Life, Winter 2014

Another Day in the Life!  If you want to know about these, read more on Laura's blog here:
http://navigatingthemothership.blogspot.com/2014/01/winter-day-in-life-coming-up.html

Or, if you want to read my past posts, find them here:
http://baby-mamas-drama.blogspot.com/search/label/day%20in%20the%20life


I wish I had done one of these when MJ was a baby.  I think I remember how I felt about things, and what I spent my time doing, but I'm sure this is colored by later experience.  To the extent that I have the ability to plan my life, this will be the last 'Day in the Life' post written under the influence of a newborn.  As before, I wrote this as a 24-hour post because that's how newborns operate.

This was January 20th to 21st, 2014.  MJ was 4 yrs and 4 months, Greta was 18 months and Teddy was 3 1/2 weeks.  As you might expect, this was written in a haze.  I decided to write this on the day my Mom left town.  She arrived a week-and-a-half before Teddy was born and had been staying with us since.  I had been dreading her departure and wasn't sure how we'd manage without her.  Part of me was looking forward to it, just because I'd been dreading it for so long.  I'm a rip the band-aid off quickly kind of girl, and when I dread something I just want it to be over.  (But Mom, we miss you a great deal.  It's nice that we're figuring out how to survive on our own, though.)

She'll kill me for including this, but I love this picture.  It's Nana being an awesome Nana.
8:15 p.m. The girls are in bed, so my Mom and I sit down to watch Downton Abbey. Hubs is working an evening shift, so she stayed an extra day to help with the kiddos.  It's nice to have someone to watch Downton with, because the hubs totally dislikes it.  He watched half of an episode, commented that no one had made a single joke and was done with it (he must not have watched a segment with Maggie Smith, though.)  We hold Teddy while we watch and he drifts off to sleep.

Testing the low-light capabilities of my iPhone and introducing Teddy to British drama.
9:15 p.m. Finish the show, hugs goodnight and goodbye because she'll be catching a cab to the airport early in the morning.  My Mom is a crier, I know I've inherited this from her.  If she ever leaves without tears I'll wonder what's wrong.  I know I should go straight to bed, but with Mom around I've been getting extra sleep and I'm not very tired.  I climb in bed and read Looking For Alaska.  Since Teddy was born I've been reading books on my phone.  I like that it's one handed, and since I always have my phone with me I don't have to wonder where I put down my book.  I thought I'd hate e-books but have really been enjoying them, may have to invest in a Kindle.  

9:45 p.m. Greta wakes up and cries half heartedly.  I debate going in but feel it will only make things worse.  Not sure why she's awake.  She has a charming and weird habit of piling books in her crib (like, 10 at a time) and "reading" them in the dark after I put her to bed at night.  Then she falls asleep on top of them, and I wonder if these wake ups are because she wakes up uncomfortable from sleeping on a pile of books.  She finally falls back asleep, so I brush my teeth and slather on moisturizer. (I've really started to notice the eye wrinkles emerging).  I climb in bed at 10.  Toss and turn until 10:30, because I slept in too late this morning and drank coffee too late.

1:10 a.m. Teddy wakes up.  I give him a bottle and go potty (I can't stop calling it "potty", even when the 4-year-old isn't around.  Wonder when I'll go back to saying "take a piss").

1:25 a.m.  Start pumping.  This is the terrible part of exclusively pumping, though usually he takes a few minutes to settle so it's probably not time lost.  I also don't pump for very long at night, so it's really not too bad.  I check the internet, whilst trying not to wake up too much.  While I pump I replace Teddy's pacifier and hope he falls into a deeper sleep.

The scene while I pump, every night, every day.  The swaddle/wubbanub combo works magic.

1:36  a.m.  Finish. 9 oz.  Only so much because he slept so long (he went to bed at ~8, while we were watching Downton Abbey).  This is a mixed blessing; it's not good for my milk supply, but I appreciate the sleep too much to complain, and I'm still producing plenty. I rinse the pump stuff.  When MJ was a baby I was so high strung about washing and sanitizing pump parts.  This time I'm much more lax, and it allows me a lot less stress.  I often just rinse the parts and let them dry.  Considering breast milk is antimicrobial I've decided this is plenty clean for overnight use.  I potty again and put Teddy's pacifier back in his mouth again.  He looks awfully awake but I turn the light off anyways and hope for the best.

1:46 a.m. Climb in bed.  Chug some water.  Hopefully asleep by 2:00...

4:50 a.m.  Teddy up.  I wake up my Mom because she wanted to feed him again before she leaves, then I start pumping.  Didn't sleep very well during that last stretch.  Not sure why but Greta starts crying again.   She's been so upset the past couple days. Teething?  I just don't know.  She calms herself down and I hope she doesn't wake early.  One kid awake at night is enough.

5:00 a.m. Finish pumping.  6.5 oz.  Wash stuff.  Store milk (I store it in a cooler bag in my room at night so I don't have to take it down to the fridge).   Give my mom a hug and crawl back into bed. She says she'll change Teddy and put him back to sleep.

5:45 a.m.  Mom leaves.  Teddy promptly wakes back up and I bring him into bed with me.  He does this every night, where he is restless but still sleepy for the last few hours of the night.  I get intermittent sleep until 7:00.  He's restless so I give him another bottle.  I swear I hear someone downstairs and wake up hubs to go check (I was being delusional).   He also checks on the girls, who are awake. He  gets them dressed and climbs back into bed until 7:30.  He informs me he'll get up with them so I pop in earplugs, hoping Teddy will sleep a bit so I can sleep a bit.  At 8:00 I'm still periodically popping in his pacifier.  I try him in the swing.  No good.  This is the first kid we've had who doesn't like the swing, and I find it frustrating (though not as frustrating as hubs finds it).

8:20 a.m.  I give up.  I pump and decide I'm up for the day.  Hubs takes MJ to school.  She is already lamenting Nana's absence, as are we all.

8:40 a.m.  Give Teddy a bottle.  Greta makes the morning joyous, as she often does.  She continues to make me feel like such a rockstar in the morning, thinking I'm the most amazing thing in the world when she first sees me. Lands in timeout, many times, for harassing Vito.  I put Teddy in the Moby so that he'll calm down, as he wants to be held constantly. I have a feeling this kid is going to live in the moby for a while.  I eat a breakfast of Cheerios and a hard-boiled egg, and Greta insists on sharing it with me. I'm excited I finally convinced the kids to eat hard-boiled eggs, they're the ultimate in portable protein. Greta and I "discuss" different body parts, which is her poking me and me telling her what she's poking.  She knows "belly", "eye", "nose", "cheek", "toes", "tongue", and "arm".   

9:10 a.m.  Commence bottle washing and kitchen cleaning.  The morning rush, getting 2 very hungry children fed and MJ off to school, is always crazy and leaves quite a mess.  The bottle stack in the morning is always pretty immense.  Hubs comes down from the shower and we discuss the day.    I have dreaded this day, my mom leaving, for weeks now. In some sense it's nice to know the worst is finally over, though.

Love watching these two play. As hubs has expressed, he likes the kids once they find him funny.  Greta finds him hilarious, so they're best buds.

9:30 a.m. Take Teddy out of the Moby and hand him to hubs, so I can go to the bathroom and take a shower.  Lucky thing he has an easy day today.  I weigh myself, 13 more pounds to go to get to pre-baby weight.  15 pounds to get to pre-pre-baby weight (I was only 8 months out when I got pregnant, hadn't quite hit pre-pregnancy weight.  8 months... that makes me sound like a crazy person).

9:50 a.m. While I'm taking a shower hubs comes in to lament his realization that he has to work during the Super Bowl.  I'm not as sympathetic as I should be, I feel like I can't handle any one else complaining to me, whether through words or crying.  I ask him to leave.  He sets Teddy down so he can take a conference call, who promptly starts screaming for 5 minutes while I finish getting out of the shower.  I know it's illogical, but I fear he has been conditioned to only sleep while being held, which was much easier when there was an extra pair of hands around.  (the rest of the week has shown me this is true, but I don't think it's anyone's fault, just how he's made.)
Post shower.  Clean, but that's about as much as I can say.  The chaos surrounds me.  I thought about throwing out the unflattering photos, but that just wouldn't be authentic, now would it?

10:00 a.m. I get Teddy to sleep in his cradle, swaddled with a pacifier.  I have to close the doors to his room so Greta can't get to him.  I start putting the huge piles of clothes away.  I keep having to put Teddy's pacifier back in and finally decide he's hungry.

10:15 a.m. I get pumping stuff, bottle and nipple shield. I attempt to nurse Teddy but he immediately falls asleep.  I had hoped he would learn to nurse before my mom left.   I'm not sure how much longer I can continue pumping.  I find this so frustrating.  Greta retrieves piles of clean socks from Nana's room and scatters them about while I try to nurse.  All he does is sleep while  latched on just like when he first started nursing.

Thankfully Greta is happy to entertain herself while I pump, but it always involves destroying his room.


10:30 a.m. I give up and put him back in his cradle.  Five minutes later he's up again and I try again. He falls asleep again.


Sleepy boy.  He's awfully cute, even when he refuses to nurse.
10:40 a.m. I give in and give him a bottle.  He takes 2 ounces and pukes up a fair amount.  So of course, now I question if he was hungry at all.  I pump while he lays in his cradle and Greta makes a mess of his room.
I cannot take my eyes off her for a second.  Not surprisingly, she has no sense of his fragility. 

10:55 a.m. Finish pumping.  Rinse stuff.  Husband comes downstairs after finishing his conference call and I start crying.  He loves when I randomly bombard him with tears.  I just feel overwhelmed and tired, not sure how I'm going to do it all.  Teddy does not want to be put down for a moment, which wouldn't bother me if he was the only kid, but he's not.  

After I collect myself, I put Teddy in the Moby and do dishes.  Hubs helps feed Greta lunch and I get a marinade ready for some salmon I bought the day before at the grocery store.  He's being super helpful today (and doesn't even know I'm doing a day in the life).  He cuts up some green beans for dinner and gets Greta a third helping of lunch (this girl eats!). She's been much happier today, thankfully.

No picture of my day would be complete without a photo of my coffee cup.  It is crucial to everything.

11:30 a.m. Everyone is fed.  Teddy is asleep, finally.  I put him in his cradle and cross my fingers- he stays asleep!  I put the rest of the laundry away.  Bedroom isn't clean but at least it's not buried so deep.  Greta plays downstairs with dad.  I hope she'll go to sleep soon while Teddy is sleeping.  She comes upstairs and helps me put clean sheets on the guest room bed.  She keeps trying to climb on it and put her baby to bed but I tell her she has to wait until it's made.
Greta loves "helping" with the laundry, though that means it will end up somewhere unexpected.  Here, the basket has become a baby crib (which means the clothes have been dumped on the floor somewhere).

12:00 p.m. Teddy starts making noises.  I try giving him his pacifier but he's clearly hungry; I feed him another bottle but he's still not satiated.  I give him another ounce, for 4 ounces total (a ton for him!) and then I Moby him.  Hubs leaves for work and Greta waves goodbye to him from the window; this occupies her for a good 10 minutes.  Greta is not acting very tired but it's her nap time so I decide to try, largely because I'm aching for a break.  She piles 7 books on my lap then climbs up to read.  Some of the books are on the long side and she gets fed up and throws them on the ground; even she knows she has a short attention span.  When we finish the pile I put her in her crib (with the pile of books) and say "Night-night".  Still not sleepy looking but happy, so I'm hopeful.

Teddy, all Moby'd up.  I don't know how I'd survive without this thing.

12:30 p.m. I put Teddy in his cradle and pump.  I hear her with one of her noisy books while I pump, but eventually there is no sound so she must be asleep.  I rinse pump parts but decide not to deal with anything else so I can get a break. I lay Teddy on the bed next to me, eat some popcorn (in bed!) and catch up on some emails while he looks around.  I get out his play mat, which I can't do while Greta is awake because she'll stomp on him.  He stares at the toys intently so I convince myself he is being enriched.  Among other things, I look at flights for a trip we're taking to Florida in March with some friends.  Just thinking about the sunshine is enough to warm me up.
Mesmerized by the playmat?  Or so I tell myself to assuage the guilt of a much-needed break.

1:50 p.m. I lay Teddy in his cradle and wonder if he’ll sleep.  With some objection, he finally sleeps.  I peruse Pinterest for some projects to do with Greta and read the New York Times.

2:30 p.m. Greta is up!  I hadn't even realized how long she'd been asleep until I looked at the time.  For the first time all day I feel somewhat calm and rejuvenated, maybe I can do this.  The quiet and rest was needed.  

OMG!! A new toy arrived while I was sleeping!!!

When I get G from her crib she is a hot mess for no apparent reason.  Usually long naps mean happy Greta but apparently not today.  We head downstairs (she insists on being carried) and she drinks an entire sippy cup of water; thirsty, I guess.  I cut up a cantaloupe and she has some for snack.  I manage to get all the dishes put away and the dishwasher loaded.  I'm feeling very accomplished, it's amazing how much more productive I can be without a baby strapped to me.

3:00 Despite some squawks Teddy is still asleep so I decide to get as much done as possible.  I pick up the living room a bit and have a dance party with G; we've been loving Justin Timberlake lately.  We play with stacking animals and she is amazed by them, for some reason.  Then she puts them in the oven, obviously.  She decides she wants to play on her own (one of my saving graces in this new 3-kid-adventure is how much she loves playing by herself.)  I call Fossil to order some new parts for hubs watch, and they inform me that they no longer carry those parts, and offer an $85 gift card if I send the watch back.  Score for me!

I don't even bother taking the Moby off.  Greta is enjoying making faces in the mirror (and looks so much like MJ in this photo.)

3:20 p.m. Hubs come home.  He has decided to reorganize our first aid kit and stopped to pick up supplies.  My fatigue hits me suddenly, out of the blue.  I go upstairs to pump; hubs stays downstairs to work on his first aid kit and watch G.  I'm already looking forward to bed time.

What?  Don't your kids play with pill bottles too?  

3:30 p.m. Finish pumping.  4 oz.  Hubs and I have a discussion of where MJ will be in school next year, because we have to decide if we're going to submit her registration for her current (private, expensive) school.  Next year she would be eligible for public preschool but we currently have her enrolled in private preschool, so trying to decide whether to continue her in private kindergarten or try to get her into public kindergarten.  It's slightly complicated and all because of when her birthday falls.  You can read about it here.  Anyway, we decide to pay the registration for private kindergarten and possibly swallow that cost if something public works out.  

I warm up the car to go get MJ.  When I leave G is scattering Vito's dog food throughout the house and hubs is still organizing the first aid kid.
I know this will end badly, but sometimes I just let it go.  These days even more so.

4:00 p.m. I get in the van (by myself!  Teddy's still asleep!) to go pick up MJ.  I turn in her school registration and talk to everyone (teachers, staff) about Teddy.  I've only briefly seen them since he was born and apparently MJ has been talking about him constantly.  They're starting a unit on pets and MJ begs me to bring in Vito and leave him at school for the day.  Instead we decide to bring him in briefly in the morning next week, and the secretary offers to help watch Greta while we visit (though I think she wanted to watch Teddy, but he's easy to stick in a carrier when we're out.)  

In the van MJ discusses Martin Luther King Jr. Day (which was yesterday).  I had meant to talk about it with her but never did, so I'm glad they did at school.  I'm a bit amazed by the level of detail they went into in school, including talking about how he was killed for his beliefs.  There is some confusion, though, because MJ is under the impression that it was MLK who threw Rosa Parks off the bus.  She also feels that Rosa Parks was being "bad" because she wasn't listening when they asked her to move.  I discuss civil disobedience, trying to figure out how to frame it so that she doesn't use it as an excuse not to listen.

Somehow, the conversation devolves into a discussion of who was born first, Santa Claus or MLK.  I love post-school conversations.  We also discuss who she played with at school, and she says "nobody", which feeds my weird mom fear that she's struggling with friends at school.  Her desire to change the subject just feeds my fears.  ::sigh::

4:45 p.m.  We arrive home.   There is dog food everywhere on the kitchen floor.  Having the husband watch the kids is sometimes a mixed bag.  MJ kindly helps pick it up and I put Vito's food on the counter, which of course leads to frustration for Greta. I peel and boil potatoes for mashed potatoes, then preheat the oven for the fish.  Unfortunately, it doesn't light.  Our oven has intermittent lighting problems and probably has for 2 years.  It also sometimes flashes an error code.  I bought a part to fix it 6 months ago (!) and finally installed it a couple days earlier.  I knew it would fix the error code issue but didn't know if it would fix the lighting issue.  I am disappointed to find it has not and sheepishly ask Aaron to light the stove.  I am amazed he has put up with these oven problems for so long, I probably would by much less tolerant if the roles were reversed.  I promise him I'll call an appliance repair man.

5:00 p.m. Convince hubs to check on Teddy, who has been sleeping for 3 hours now.  In the chaos of working on dinner I'm not sure if hubs woke him up or if he happened to wake up.  At any rate, hubs feeds him 2 oz while I finish dinner.

5:15 p.m.  We eat!  I'm feeling pretty accomplished for getting a real meal on the table after our first day with 3 kids, though I know much of it is because hubs has been around to help.  It is the only fish recipe I like and thankfully the family loves it, or we would never eat fish.
A not very pretty picture and a very messy table.  But photo evidence nonetheless.
  
5:45 p.m.  Teddy is still not content, so I give him 2 more oz and we FaceTime with Baba (my mother-in-law).  Hubs is being very helpful picking up from dinner while we sit, and the smoothness of the day is not lost on me.  I am too spacey to be much of a conversationalist, but the girls chat in their own way.

6:10 p.m.  Pump.  G puts babies to bed around me, which is her newest past time.  She also spends time hitting them with a spoon; I'm not sure what this is supposed to represent, but I swear she didn't learn it from me.
This baby is being put to bed on the changing table.  (She was gleeful when she found it there the next morning.)
I don't even remember when this happened.  Sometimes moments of the day glide right past me.
6:20 p.m.  Finish pumping. Another 4 oz.  Bedtime is in sight.  We go downstairs and I finish cleaning up the kitchen and pack MJ's lunch.  I send MJ upstairs to put pajamas on.  Tonights tantrum (because there is always some sort of bedtime tantrum) is because she wants to tuck her dad in.  We all go upstairs to read books. I put Greta's PJs on while hubs starts reading, and when I finish she melts down and flails on the floor.  I read, then lights go out and the night light goes on.  Greta gets a 4 oz bottle of milk (I know) while I chat with MJ about her day.   I put Greta in her crib with her pile of books and give the girls hugs and kisses.

7:10 p.m. Pump again.  4 more oz.  Moo.  Grab a beer and my book.  Chill with Teddy until he falls asleep.  Another day down.

The cycle starts again.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

MJisms

MJ:  Watch me do a magic trick!!  It's amazing, you'll never believe it.

Me:  Okay.  I'll watch.

::MJ squints her eyes and looks at the light hanging over the dining room table::

MJ: Do you see that?  Isn't that amazing?

Me:  Do you realize that just because you can see something doesn't mean I can see it?  Whatever you're doing to make the light look weird only you can see, no one else.

MJ:  ::silence::



The birth story



Little man is 3 weeks old today.  Seems like if I don't get this birth story written soon, it may never happen.

Read at your own risk (menfolk).  As with any birth story, there is talk of potentially icky things.

Prologue
For those of you what may not know my back story, this was my third birth.  My first birth, 4 years ago, ended in an emergency c-section after 2.5 hours of pushing.  The OB who performed the c-section later referred to it as "Vaginal birth with C-section".  You can read about it here and here.  I spent the next 3 years blaming myself for the c-section, thinking I wasn't pushing effectively because I got an epidural.

So for my next birth, 1.5 years ago, I planned very carefully.  I decided I wanted a VBAC, and was told I was a good candidate for it.  I switched to a small practice with an exceptionally good VBAC success rate.  I hired a doula.  I had the birth I wanted in the beginning, arriving at the hospital 8 cm dilated.  I didn't get an epidural.  At first.  But after an hour-and-a-half of pushing, I was shaking so badly I knew I wasn't effectively pushing, and ended up with an epidural.  This was ultimately a good decision.  After 2 more hours of pushing, she was born.  But not without a lot of drama that very nearly resulted in a repeat c-section.  It was almost exactly like my first birth.  With that experience, I forgave myself for my first birth and moved on.  Recovery was better than the first birth, but a VBAC was not the magic bullet I had hoped for.  The full story of Greta's birth can be found here.

And then this guy.  I spent the last few months of pregnancy facing great indecision on whether or not to have a scheduled c-section.  Although a lot of the midwives were fond of telling me this birth would be totally different because I'd done it once, what they did not seem to recall is that they'd told me the same thing last time.  I was so very close to a c-section last time.  If this guy was a bit bigger?  Or later term and under greater distress?  I knew my chance of a c-section was fairly high, despite what many of the midwives told me.  I did have one who had a frank discussion with me, and said "It's clear you don't have easy births, and whatever you decide is entirely understandable."  It was so nice to have someone acknowledge that (and she ended up being the midwife who was at Teddy's birth).

I ended up deciding to go for the VBAC, because I just couldn't bring myself to not even try.  I knew I'd jump to a c-section fairly quickly if it looked like I was heading that way, though I also knew it'd be a hard labor no matter what.  I don't have easy labors.  That's how it is.

I stumbled on this article a few days before my due date.  I have a tendency to search the scholarly literature when I'm in late pregnancy.  It is a nice review of the VBAC research, and points out the interesting statistic that women who have an emergency c-section after they have fully dilated have only a 13% VBAC success rate in a subsequent pregnancy.  Seriously.  This made me feel like a little bit of a rock star for Greta's birth, but also made me wonder why I was told I was an "excellent candidate" for a VBAC.

That's quite a prologue.  Now for the actual story.

Chapter 1
(Don't worry, there's only one chapter.)

With my first two births, I felt totally euphoric before birth began.  So of course I expected the same sensation to precede my third birth.  There were a couple times, in the weeks leading up to my due date, that I was convinced I was about to go into labor.  I did not.

The night before I actually went into labor I was feeling anything but euphoric.  We had some friends over for dinner and I was feeling borderline antisocial.  Perhaps it's because I had such a rough late pregnancy this time.  I thought I had a rough time the last two times, but it was nothing compared to this.  I was tired, I was sore, I was very, very over it.   As everyone is at 40 weeks & 1 day.  But still.

Hubs and I crawled into bed at a very reasonable 10 p.m on December 27th, the day after my due date.  He often works nights and weekends but had had a very normal schedule since early December, and it was nice to have him home.  My mom had arrived a week earlier, so everything was in place.  But I felt that all eyes were on me, waiting for something to happen.  This was the very reason I had not had any family in town for earlier births, but this time we really needed someone to watch the girls when I went to the hospital.

Anyway.  I couldn't sleep.  I had been having trouble sleeping in general, but this time I really couldn't sleep.  I tossed and turned until 2 a.m., trying to not wake up hubs.  I played Candy Crush on my phone, which has been very good at putting me to sleep.  For that matter, I finally beat Candy Crush. I also read the entire internet.  All of it.  At 2 a.m., after beating Candy Crush, I finally got out of bed.  I felt very hot so I took my temperature. 99 degrees.  I googled whether a slight fever is an indicator of impending labor.  It is, along with every other symptom known to man.  I went downstairs and got an apple and some juice.

I sat on the couch and stared at the Christmas tree.  I was glad I had not had him before Christmas, because I got to enjoy a wonderful Christmas with the girls.  But now I was ready.  I wondered if I felt a contraction, but I had wondered that many times over the past couple days.  The day before, at my midwife appointment, I had been 1.5 cm dilated.  I got back in bed at 2:15 or 2:30 and finally fell asleep.

At 3:00 a.m. I was woken up by a contraction.  With my previous births I'd woken up after a night of sleep with contractions, so I always wondered if they came on gradually.  This time, they clearly came on pretty suddenly.  I timed the next several; 5 to 7 minutes apart, about a minute long.  The pain brought back memories of labor.  When I'd gone into labor before I'd felt energized and excited.  Yes, they hurt, but things were happening!  Baby was almost here!  This time, I felt very much that I didn't want to do this.  I wanted to quit.  This was going to be hard.

By 3:30 I gave up on sleep and got out of bed.  I finished packing my hospital bag, and put absurd things like makeup in there.  Hubs woke up and asked me what I was doing, and I explained I was in labor.  I don't think he believed me at first.  My contractions had gotten rather weird; 2-5 minutes apart but very short.  After everything was packed hubs convinced me to get back in bed and try to sleep.  He was being remarkably sweet, not at all annoyed by being woken up.  He watched me for a bit, and when I had a contraction he smiled "Ahhh.... that looks like a real contraction."  I was glad at that moment that he'd been through this before and he knew what we were in for.  He held my hand and half-dozed while I laid there.  The contractions returned to normal, about 7-8 minutes apart, 1 minute long.

At 4:45 I got out of bed.  I had some peanut butter toast and at some point decided they were getting worse.  I did not want to wait so long this time to go to the hospital.  I knew my labors progress fairly quickly (apart from the pushing part) and I wanted to be settled into our room before things got too rough.  So I called the midwife at 5:30.  She had just gotten back from the hospital and I felt bad waking her up, since her shift was done at 8:00.  She encouraged me to labor at home for a bit, but I decided to head in at 6:00.  It was time.  I did not want to do this, and I just wanted to check things off the list that had to get done.  The biggest hurdle in front of me was transitioning into the hospital.  On the drive to the hospital hubs was jazzed.  Cracking jokes.  I tried to play along.  I informed him I fully planned to get an epidural.  My head was not in this.  I was tired.  I just wanted to be done.

We arrived at the hospital and I was thankful to be able to walk myself.  To not be screaming in pain in the entry way.  I was also thankful that I had some tough contractions on the way so that I didn't look like a faker.  I got settled in my room.  Answered their questions.  Abided by their poking and prodding, which I would not have been able to do if I'd waited.  When they finally checked me I was 4 cm.  That seemed like a good number, and I was glad we had come when we did.

I was finally able to get in the tub.  The midwife arrived.  She was one of my favorites, very kind and patient.  After watching me for a while she agreed I had come at the right time.  Everyone was encouraging me to get up and move.  I couldn't help feeling they just didn't get it.  I'm fine right where I am. I am enduring, I want to be left to endure.  Getting up and moving requires energy I just don't have.  They seemed to think that I was stalling, but when they finally convinced me to get out of the tub and check me at 8:00, I was dilated to 6 "stretchy to 7".  It was then that I decided I needed an epidural.  I had already decided it, really, but that was the time.

The midwife clearly felt I was making a bad decision.  She was borderline pushy in trying to dissuade me from getting an epidural.  In my first two births I would have appreciated this.  This time, though, I knew something she did not seem to remember.  I knew I still had a long haul in front of me.  I knew that early labor goes fast but pushing does not.  I was nowhere near the end.  I was exhausted.  An epidural would allow me to rest and save my energy for the pushing phase.  At 9:00 the epidural was in and the new midwife had come on.  When they checked me right after, I was 9.5 cm dilated.  So I had sat still during transition while they inserted a giant needle in my back.  Go me.  The anesthesiologist was a borderline D-bag, but he did a superb job.  It took away the pain but I could still move my legs.  It was exactly what I needed.

I was finally able to get some rest.  I was feeling absolutely delirious from exhaustion.   At 11:00 Teddy was still rather high up, and they made the decision to break my water (something that had happened spontaneously in my first two births.)  He immediately started having some heart rate issues, so they had me turn on my side until his heart rate returned to normal.  This was bringing back memories of my past two births.  The midwife made the decision to allow me to "labor down", since his heart rate was good and the epidural was in, which means that I just laid there and allowed my body to do the work.  I didn't push to try to speed things along.  At noon they had me try pushing, because he was coming down so slowly, but not much came of it and his heart rate dipped down again.  So I laid there and napped some more.  I don't remember what station I was at what time, but I slowly made progress.  The midwife suspected, as did I, that once pushing really began his heart rate would suffer, just like my last births, so she let him get as far as possible before I had to start pushing.  Sometime around 2:30 I mentioned that I was starting to feel the urge to push.  I could feel the contractions, they just weren't particularly painful.  I could also feel all my pelvic muscles.  Like I said, the ideal epidural.

By 3:00 everything was in place.  I started to push, and he made some progress.  At some point, he got rather stuck, and the midwife later told me that she watched as his head slowly turned with each contraction, until he was finally able to push past a bone.  She said it was very weird to see.  I wore out pretty quickly and his heart rate was really suffering, dipping down very low.  The midwife decided to call in the NICU team, "just in case", as well as the on-call OB.  Luckily for me, the OB in the hospital that day happened to be the OB from the clinic I go to, and the same one who was at Greta's birth.  She remembered Greta's birth and this was following suit.  I started to wonder if I was close to a c-section, but they didn't seem to think so.  Finally, the OB told me I had one more chance to push him out or she'd try the vacuum.  He came out on that push.

But of course, the drama wasn't over.  He was very blue.  I'm not sure if I'll ever forget the mental image of how blue he was, and he wasn't crying.  Hubs didn't even cut the cord, they just snipped it and moved him to the warming table.  It seemed like forever until he cried, and I was sobbing, very scared.  The midwife was working on getting the placenta out, and massaging my uterus, and she seemed to think I was in pain while in fact I was just listening for crying.  His birth hadn't been nearly as scary as MJ and Greta's, and yet here he was not breathing.  Finally, I heard him cry.  Hubs later told me it was about 80 seconds before he took a breath.

And then he was fine.  He "pinked right up" and nursed pretty well.  He was 9 lb 5 oz, with a 15" noggin (that puts him in the 93rd percentile).  I had a second-degree tear but apparently not very deep.  Although I was sore, I was able to get up and walk right after (the epidural had apparently worn out).  I made the mistake of feeling "down there" and it all felt like I would imagine someone's face would after getting beaten up.  But by the next morning everything felt pretty normal.

Three days later I was walking around the Mall of America like a normal person (except that I was at the Mall of America 3 days post-partum, making me definitely not normal).  It was a phenomenally easy recovery compared to my other two.  It dawned on me, for the first time, how much of a woman's first couple months can be dictated by the birth itself.  That women who have an easy birth are not even in the same hemisphere when discussing those first weeks (or even months) with a new baby.  Because the way I felt, and my capabilities, were worlds away from my first birth experience, and probably still a world away from my second birth experience.  I was so thankful for my midwife, and for her appreciation for how my body worked, and how I birth.  She read my chart and knew what to expect, and she wasn't impatient.  She later told me she had to keep catching herself when she felt like maybe I should start pushing, and remind herself to let me go as long as possible before pushing.  And she was right.

All in all, I'm really glad this was my last birth.  Pregnancy and birth is not a magical time for me.  I love newborns, I do fine as a postpartum gal, but the precursor is only something to be endured.  I'm so thankful for modern medicine, and for this beautiful, healthy baby boy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The first week down

(I started this post when he really was just a week old.  But, as with everything, I am behind.  So now he's 11 days old... practically an old man in newborn terms.)

First off, welcome back folks.  Nothing like having a baby to make you reassess your blog priorities.  (What?!  Really? I don't know).  I moved my blog to Tumblr in August, because I found that Blogger didn't allow me to do a few of the things I wanted to do.  While it did many things well, ultimately I was very frustrated with the platform, so I'm back!  Good old blogger.  I think I'm just not young and hip enough to really get Tumblr.  All the cool kids are doing it, I know, but I'm no longer cool and no longer a kid.  If you have any questions about that transition feel free to ask, but I'll leave it at that.

I apologize for cluttering your feed, that will stop now, too.

And if you haven't already heard through some other social media outlet, I had a boy!  Theodore.  We're still thinking about nicknames... Teddy?  Theo?  TJ?  They're all in rotation.



I'll get to the birth story... sometime.  It was far and away my easiest birth, which is lucky because adding a third kid... is no joke.  I already feel Mama guilt because he's already not getting the attention the others had.  The first few days home I kept forgetting about him, that he was part of our family.  One day I almost walked out of the house without him.  Maybe part of this is having an easy birth, because I often forget I just gave birth.  With the others it was ever-present in my mind.

There are many moments that I feel like "what did we do..."   But there are also many moments when I'm so glad that he's here.  So glad that he's ours.  I look at his sisters, swarming around him, and am so glad he's part of our chaos.

He is, by and large, a very easy baby.  When he was first born, he took about 80 seconds before he breathed.  It was terrifying.  And he finally cried after a couple minutes, but apart from that nothing much could make him cry.  His first couple days he made barely a peep.

But then he got home.  And he got loud.  He's usually happy, but if he gets hungry he screams so loud.  It wakes up every other child in the house.  So we aim to not let him get hungry.

He nursed well the first day, then not well at all.  Nothing would wake him up.  In the hospital they weren't too concerned, but it continued and when we had our first doctor's visit he was down 11% for weight.  So we tried a couple other things.  I tried a nipple shield one time and he has never latched well since.  I had needed a nipple shield with my girls due to trouble latching, and it was never so addictive.  But then he continued to drop, down 14% for weight, so we had to start the complicated pump-and-supplement routine.  Given our experience with the nipple shield, I knew it was dangerous, but felt it was unavoidable.  Since having a bottle, he has only latched and nursed well twice. Ugh.

So now, I am basically exclusively pumping.  Which is terrible.  I continue to try to get him to latch, and he sort of does but then just stops nursing.  Greta was the same, and then one day she just figured it out, though my supply tanked after a couple months and the lactation consultant thinks she was just never very good at nursing.  So maybe I'll be able to provide milk longer this way?  I just don't understand how it is that three children have had such nursing issues. Is it my anatomy?  Am I doing something wrong early on?  Is our lactation consultant offering bad advice?  All of them have lost a ton of weight, all of them have had to be supplemented from early on (with pumped milk) and none of them have ever been great in the long term.  Why?  These boobs have served me well enough in life, but they seem to struggle when it comes to the little ones.  But this is the first time I've been exclusively  pumping.  I just don't have the time for breastfeeding drama.  I can't sit and work on it for 2 hours or feed every 40 minutes when there are two other kids to tend to.  So maybe this will be better in the long run?  My supply is already way up from what it was, maybe this is sustainable... maybe....  though relying on a pump seems like a terrible way to function.

But apart from that, super easy baby.  Sleeps well.  Falls asleep easily.  We haven't had to use any device, such as a swing or bouncy seat, to keep him happy.  I just set him down, and he stares around and if he's tired he's goes to sleep.  No drama, no fuss.  Our pediatrician today commented "So... this isn't your first baby... so I assume you guys know that's not predictive of anything?"  Yes, I suppose we do, but it does give us hope... we keep saying we need a calm one....

The girls have adjusted well.  MJ is happy about having him here but otherwise unfazed.  He basically impacts her not at all, especially because she is such a Daddy's girl these days.  Greta is doing better.  The first day was a little confusing, I think.  But she is generally not jealous, unless she is tired and wants to sit in my lap while I am holding him.  She doesn't have a general jealousy, wherein she is upset whenever I hold him.  She has very specific jealousy, when I would have been holding her and am instead holding him and she wants her place back.  Even that, though, is getting better and she is often satisfied to sit next to me.  She brings him toys and pacifiers (if she can get her mitts on one) and is always concerned when he cries.  In fact, it is just about the only thing that wakes her up at night these days, and if she hears him crying she is wide awake.  Her concern for him is endearing, and I am hopeful they will become good pals over the next year.  Their closeness in age is overwhelming at times, and she can't be left with him for even an instant because she just doesn't understand all the ways she can hurt him.  But she seems to really like him, and likes having him here.

My Mom has been here for the past 3 weeks.  She will be here for about another week and a half (if she can stand us that long), and I am terrified for her departure.  The hubs will be back at work and real life will be... real.  As easy a baby boy as he has been, the reality of tending to three kids needs is daunting.  I have narrowed it down to this: it will mean no break at all during the day and an 8 or 8:30 bedtime.  Which means there will just be no time in the day for anything other than the children.  I know that's sort of what I asked for, but it is still hard to adjust to.  Especially with no family around and therefore no real breaks.  Come February I think I will be looking for a babysitter for help one day a week.

This post is getting long... I feel that Blogger better enables the rambling that I am so very fond of.  So look forward to more of that.

Here's a photo of the 5 of us:
It's unflattering to pretty much everyone other than the menfolk.  But that's okay, because it's real.  My friend Erin took it last week, 4 days post-partum, and looking at it brings the reality of it all back to me, again and again.  There are 5 of us now.  And this is it, this will be our family forever.  It's so very exciting to me.  It's like that moment you finally meet all your teammates and you start to feel each other out.  Start to envision your future together.  Try to picture what obstacles you'll overcome and whether you'll win the championship.  This is my team, and I couldn't be happier about it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Christmas season, the Christmas baby

39 weeks and 4 days. Today is the day (in gestation equivalents) that Greta was born. MJ was born 8 days later than this.
I have so far managed to not get too impatient. My Mom arrived 5 days ago, and it has been such a blessing to have her here. I was in a very, very bad state for the week prior to her arrival. I essentially put myself on self-imposed bed rest a couple days before I hit 38 weeks, because I could barely walk. The round ligament pain was so intense it would cause my knees to buckle, and I spent much of my day in tears from the pain. I stopped doing much of anything, laid on the couch most of the day, and was incredibly thankful that Greta was good at entertaining herself.
After a couple days of this, I got a bit better. Picking up Greta seems to have been the main culprit. The added weight, plus the awkward position I had to carry her in because of my giant belly, was just too much. I still was in pain by the end of the day, but I could do the barest minimum of tasks (load the dishwasher, for example).
My Mom arrived last Wednesday, and I am finally back to feeling like a fairly functional human. Having someone here to help has made all the difference. Yesterday I managed to bake cookies (oh my!) and put away three loads of laundry and clean the bedroom and change the sheets on all the beds. A week ago the idea of putting away half a basket of clothes was beyond me.  I am always glad to have my Mom visit, but I have never before been so glad to have her here.  I’m trying to not wear her out, but being as she is currently in bed with a stomach bug I’m not sure that I’ve succeeded on that front.
Aside from that, I’m just trying to be patient. I feel like I’m close, within a few days, but I’m trying to not think that way because I know how crazy it will make me if I’m wrong. There’s enough happening at the moment to keep me occupied, but once Christmas passes the waiting will feel especially difficult, I suspect. Husband will be back at work, my Mom will still be here if she hasn’t gotten sick of me yet, and all eyes will be on my uterus.
Sleep is really, really terrible. I seem unable to sleep more than a couple hours at a stretch. So I tend to fall asleep at midnight, sleep a couple hours, toss and turn for a couple hours, sleep a couple hours then get up. Then muddle through the morning and take a nap when Greta takes a nap. I am unable to remember how I functioned when I was pregnant with Greta and working full time. This time around, I have developed some sleep apnea as well, and wake up gasping for breath because my throat has closed off.
I am doing my best to try to enjoy my time with the girls, though. MJ is off school for the next two weeks and I’m trying to embrace everything 4. A couple weekends ago her and I met up with Erin and Annie and few other folks at a Holiday High Tea. It’s always so nice to spend some quality alone time with MJ, and makes me remember how special this age is, and how I so often miss it out of frustration or distraction. So I’m making strides, and it is helping. I’m trying to do something special for her or with her each day; the other day I made a scavenger hunt for her. Today it was letting her stay up late to eat cake. These little things have already brought us closer, and I need to keep it up. She’s been changing lately, in good and bad ways, and I see that she’s becoming her future self. I need to be more careful about the paths that I lay down for her. I read something about how the way we talk to our kids becomes their inner voice, and I want her inner voice to be different than the way I’ve been talking to her. So I’m trying to change that.
She’s become more sullen lately, not always the happy and exuberant child but sometimes grumpy or moody, and I’m finding this difficult to adjust to. But that is also making her more human. More of a real person instead of the animated character that is a toddler. She gets sad about friendships at school, or about arguments that DH and I have, and this is what makes her human. So I need to learn to appreciate this, too.
Greta, on the other hand, I’m finding to be just joyous. Trouble making, mess making, but gleeful and happy. I thoroughly enjoy this age, and although I was a little sad when she started walking and left babyhood behind, I’m finding it so fun to see more and more of her personality emerge. She understands quite a lot now, including “time-out” which she has landed herself in all of 3 times for viciously harassing our poor dog. She understands full sentences such as “Go find your sissy, I think she’s upstairs.” She constructs block towers (4 blocks high! and then MJ doesn’t understand why I’m not impressed by the same thing from her…) She loves to wrestle, drag baby dolls around the house and read books non-stop.
She loves her sister, always, and wants to be doing whatever MJ is doing. I find myself sympathizing so much more with Greta as the younger child, when she gets left out of something and is sad about it. I was talking to my Mom about this, who was the oldest, and she similarly sympathizes more with MJ. It’s a part of parenting I had not thought about before.
But these girls are just amazing. I feel lucky to be their mom, and lucky that I am currently past the tough couple weeks in which I was not appreciating anything about being anyones mom. I can’t believe Christmas is in 2 days! I feel like I missed a good two weeks of this Christmas season because of this pregnancy, which makes me sad. I love everything about Christmas, and haven’t gotten to do nearly as much as I had hoped to this year. I guess I still did pretty good, but much of it was a blur. The tree is up, the presents are wrapped and under the tree. The cards are sent. I didn’t think I’d get to those cookies we baked yesterday but was so happy that we did. I would have liked to do more crafts and made the season more magical, but at this moment I feel lucky for having survived. I feel blessed for our warm house (whilst it is VERY cold outside), far too many presents, my health, the help that I’ve had when I have needed it so very much, this baby that will eventually arrive, and for moments of pure joy amongst all the very tough ones.
On a side note, I think I will be moving this blog back to Blogger. My Tumblr experiment has been interesting, but I just don’t like the platform and am thinking of migrating back. I realize I may lose followers (again) but that is just the way of it. Ultimately, this an archive for me, and I find this archival format very frustrating. So look for some changes at some point….