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.


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:

Or, if you want to read my past posts, find them here:

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


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.

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.