Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless (Word-ful?) Wednesday

I love people's Wordless Wednesday posts. And I would like to start doing it. But today when I was picking out a picture to start, the one I kept coming back to was this one. And honestly, it needs some words to explain why it sticks out to me.

Pictures by Sara Corman Photography

I love my birth pictures. Like really love them. I will cherish looking back at those and remembering that day and that pain and that joy and those tears. It was an amazing day. The thing that is so interesting to me is that something about the way they look makes the whole experience seem so quiet and so peaceful. Maybe it's the black and white, maybe it's the fact that she somehow caught every beautiful moment and when I look, even though I was there and I experienced it, I don't see the fear and the wave of up and down that was going through me in those hours. But this picture says more.

In this moment, you can't tell, but I was screaming. Literally at the top of my lungs screaming. In this moment, I was terrified. I was thinking to myself, "do I want an epidural? Is this my breaking point? Do they even have time to get me one? Will I regret it if they do?" It was the moment that I thought in my head that I didn't think I could do it. And at the same time, it was the moment that I focused my attention, I bared everything, both figuratively and in a few minutes - literally - to just get Lux out. It was my moment of greatest weakness in the labor and then my moment of greatest strength.

It was the moment I said, "I will do this. No matter what."
 
As a mom, don't we continue to have these moments? The moments where we're thinking, "I can't do this, can I? Can I really keep going?" and they always must be followed immediately by the same resolve: I will do this. No matter what.

And maybe it's Wordless Wednesday, but that deserves some words.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life

Today was a little rough. With newborns, I feel like your whole life revolves around eating, sleeping and pooping, and if one of those goes wrong one day, things feel a little out of control. But with my new decision to focus on the things I am loving at this point, I decided to sit down and focus. 
 
First of all, I made a list of things I'm loving right now...
I'm loving when Lux snuggles her face as close into my neck as it can get and then lets out this little sigh.
I'm loving when Isis asks to hold her sister and then tells me, "mom, she's really special."
I'm loving the me-time I get on good nap days!
I'm loving the fact that Lux sleeps really well at night. (We've had 2 different 5+ hour stretches this week!)
I'm loving the moments when Lew and I look at each other and just laugh or smile or shrug because we're sharing this experience and although we get tired and frustrated, we do it together.
 
Then, I spent some time looking for encouragement from others...
Kara's post on Motherhood was really inspiring
The Rookie Moms post on things to do on maternity leave prompted me to make my own list (look for it in a future post)
Marc & Angel's post about 12 Things You Should Know for Sure really made me think
 
The last one led me to really think about where I'm at right now. Marc & Angel post tons of lists - which I love. I'm all about lists. Their list on that post began with this: The beginning is always the hardest. Man, isn't that the truth? In pretty much everything, I find that to be true. The beginning of the school year, the beginning of a new job, the beginning of the week, and definitely the beginning of a newborn's life. It's hard to introduce a child to the world - and you know what? It should be. Put that in the same category as where I stand on natural labor - that for me, I believe it shouldn't be easy or painless to bring a child into the world. It should be a sacrifice. It's true of the newborn stage as well. It isn't supposed to be easy to help a child learn about the world, because the world isn't easy. It's a challenge. Introducing a child to that world is something that I feel honored to have been allowed to participate in...twice
 
Now partner Marc & Angel's first point with a couple of their others: Most good things don't come easy and The most important thing you can control is your mind. And I basically feel like God was like, "hey Cameron, read this post today because you need to change your perspective." Yes, God, I'm listening. I get it. I don't think that things are any less difficult and I don't love the newborn stage any more than I've already said, but I do think that the thing that gets me through it is changing my perspective. I mean, we all know I'm not going to be able to change a newborn. She's going to do what she's going to do. I can encourage certain things - and believe me, I try to - but it's me that needs to change in this to stay sane on the rough days. The rough days are going to come. But I would rather take the rough days with the good than to not have either.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Newborn Summary: Week 2

This week has been better in some ways and harder in others. Ah, the journey with a newborn.
 
Gas: She still isn't showing any gas issues. I'm thankful for that!
 
Nursing: Nursing is still going well. She's eating a full feeding every time. I'm doing single side nursing and she's nursing for anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes on a side when she nurses. I did this with Isis, too when she was a newborn & there was a growth spurt where she started eating from both sides every time. We'll see if Lux does the same. There still hasn't been a growth spurt yet, so I'm waiting for that.
 
I did have a slight problem with her latching on the right side. She would do great on the left, but it always hurt pretty bad when she'd first latch on the right. I talked to my midwife about it at my 2 week appointment and she helped me get it right. It's been better since then. I did have a couple of those nights this week where I woke up super leaky. That's never fun. But I've been sleeping in a bra with the breastfeeding pads. Those things itch like crazy, but at least I don't leak all over the bed.
Lux is still sleeping through most feedings, but I'm still trying to keep her awake. She does better during the day. At night I basically just nurse her & put her right back in the crib. It's basically nursing her to sleep at night, which I am not a fan of, but I'm just going with it these first few weeks. She's sleeping so great that I'm not going to mess anything up right now.
 
Burping: I have been trying to burp Lux after each feeding during the day. I don't burp her at night because she's asleep when I finish nursing her & I just put her in bed. During the day, she will burp every once in a while after a feeding, but not every time and usually it's just one little burp. She's got a really tight latch, so I'm just wondering if she's not taking in a ton of air when she eats. I have found that she burps better if she's swaddled because she is more stretched straight out and doesn't have her legs all curled up.
 
Waketime: I've been trying to keep her awake for a few minutes after her feedings during the day. I try to get her back in the crib within 35 minutes of waking up. It's tough because if she's really fallen asleep while nursing, it's hard to wake her up afterwards. And then sometimes if we are going out somewhere or we have visitors, she'll get passed around and be a little overstimulated and then she has too much wake time and it's pretty much ridiculous trying to get her to sleep. 
 
Witching Hour: I'm adding a section for the witching hour because Isis definitely did this and Lux is trying to. Every night from about 6 to 8, starting this week, she got fussy. Isis did this where we would basically have to hold her and walk her around the house, but for the most part she would just scream. With Lux, she started this week and she would eat and then we'd put her down somewhere to sleep while we got Isis ready for bed. She'd start screaming at some point in the process and we'd be going in to calm her down every once in a while throughout the bedtime routine for Isis. It was a little crazy. I'd end up having to just feed her again to get her to sleep. Once you got her really asleep, she'd be fine and stay asleep.
 
After a few days, we started troubleshooting. The last 2 days, we've focused on feeding her somewhere around 6 and then again around 8. In between, she might fuss or cry or something, but after the 8-ish feeding, she would go to sleep when we put her down & stay asleep for several hours. We are going to keep trying this cluster feeding at night to see if it helps. Although last night (Thursday night) she had a really rough night. We tried everything from the swing to a pacifier to even nursing her & nothing would help her go to sleep. I guess I'll follow up next week to share how this continues to work out!
 
Swaddling: This is another part of our nighttime routine that I feel like I need to document. After several days, we started swaddling her at the end of last week. She seems to just hate it at first, but she sleeps longer stretches once she goes to sleep if she is swaddled. We are using the SwaddleMe blankets so she can't get out of them. We definitely swaddle throughout the entire night. I tried a couple of days letting her nap unswaddled, but she just didn't sleep as well. So we are now swaddling for all her naps, too. Although I'm experimenting today with 1 arm out in the swaddle.
 
Nighttime Sleep: She really is doing so great with nighttime sleep! I said before that I'm basically nursing her to sleep in the middle of the night and putting her down. Again, not my favorite thing to do, but it's working now. I'll stop at some point in the next couple of weeks and focus on putting her down awake. Probably around 5 weeks. Here's her summary of our nights:
 
Night 1 - Friday night - She ate before bed (meaning waketime after) at 5:45 and 7:45, she then woke up to eat at 9:00, 10:40, 12:20, 3:50, 4:30 and 7:30. She was again in the pack & play in our closet. This was a rougher night.
 
Night 2 - Saturday night -She ate before bed at 5:00, 6:15, 7:00 and 8:00. She was having the witching hour here. She then woke up at night at 11:15, 2:45 and 6:15. This was also the first night that we put her to bed in her crib at night. She clearly did better in there once we got her to sleep.
 
Night 3 - Sunday night - She ate before bed at 5:00, 7:00, 8:30 and 10:00. She was pretty fussy this whole time, even though we were able to get her to sleep a little between 8:30 and 10:00. She then woke up at night at 1:20, 4:50 and then 8:15. She was again in her crib and did good once she was asleep for the night.
 
Night 4 - Monday night - She ate before bed at 6:30 and 8:15. She did better with the witching hour stuff this night because I tried to feed her closer together. She then woke up at 10:30, 2:15 and 7:00. She did that one long stretch from 2:15 to 7:00, which was really exciting! Except it was the first night I had some major leaking in terms of breastfeeding. And from now on, she's in her crib for nighttime sleep.
 
Night 5 - Tuesday night - She ate before bed at 6:00 and 8:00. She did awesome this night in terms of witching hour. Still fussy, but she went right to sleep after the 8:00 feeding, which made things much easier. She woke up at night at 11:50, 2:30 and 6:30. Again, a longer stretch from 2:30 to 6:30!
 
Night 6 - Wednesday night - She ate before bed at 5:20 and then 8:00. She was really sleepy this night, probably because she had a rough nap day this day. She slept straight from about 3:30 to 7:30. I was able to wake her up just enough to eat at 5:20, but she basically fell right back asleep and we had to wake her up at 7:30 to try to feed her again. I kept her up for a little while from 7:30 to 8:00, then fed her and put her right down. She woke up at 11:45, 3:15 and 6:50.
 
Night 7 - Thursday night -She ate before bed at 6:00 and 8:00, but she had a really bad witching hour in between those 2 and then after. I had to feed her again at 9:45 and she finally fell asleep. She woke up at 1:30 and 5:00 and then I woke her up at 7:30 to start the day. This was the roughest night in terms of going to bed, but she still did great once the night was started.
 
Naps: I tried to start focusing her naps in her crib as much as possible this week. Some days she would do great and others it would be rough. The biggest problem is figuring out the appropriate wake time. I'm trying to get her back down within 35 minutes of waking up. On a good nap, she will cry for a minute or 2, fuss on and off for about 20 minutes and then fall asleep. On a bad nap, she will cry a lot or just fuss on and off throughout the whole nap. She won't take a pacifier, but we are trying some different ones to see if that will help with some of her nap stuff.
 
One of the biggest problems is that she is more of a suck-to-soothe baby, but she won't take a pacifier. So that leaves me. If she won't sleep, the thing that will get her to sleep is to nurse. But if she's just taken a big feeding and then an hour later you're still trying to get her to sleep, so I nurse her, she will spit up a bunch. She doesn't really spit up if you let her get a full feeding and then wait 3 hours for the next full feeding. She's not had a growth spurt yet, so she's not looking to EAT more often, she just wants to suck on something. So again, we're trying lots of pacifiers. Hoping something works for naps.
 
The positive thing here is that she will nap in her crib and that about half the time I can put her down awake and she will fall asleep in there after a little fussing. It's also positive that she clearly has her days and nights worked out. There's no question that her sleep at night is a lot different. So I am happy about that.
 
The negative thing here is that Lewis has been helping me a lot with nap stuff because he was able to stay home for 2 weeks from work with FMLA. And I think because he doesn't smell like milk, she will fall asleep if he rocks her in the glider. So he's been doing that for some naps. He started back to work today (Friday), so he's not here anymore to help with the nap stuff. I'm interested to see how next week goes when it's just me.
 
Sibling: Isis is still doing great with Lux in terms of the way she feels about her. She's still really excited about her being there. She actually is really attached to her already. The other day, Lux was crying and Lewis was rocking her in the glider. If Lux is crying, Isis doesn't deal with it well. So Isis went & grabbed her blanket, curled up in my lap and sucked her thumb because she was worried about her. We are worried right now about the fact that Isis is showing signs of getting a cold or something. Not super pumped about that part of having 2 kids - where Isis will bring home germs from the babysitter and stuff and potentially give it to Lux. Hoping that my breastfeeding gives Lux some immune assistance in that department!
 
We are also having some difficulties with Isis that I think are related to adding a new sibling. She cries all the time now when something happens or she doesn't get what she wants. The babysitter even commented on it and was worried. Isis never cries at the babysitter. She's always really chill when she's there. She's been crying more lately there and at home. Lewis and I think that she is seeing that Lux cries to get what she wants and we respond, so Isis is trying to cry to get what she wants. Needless to say, we are responding differently. We are still trying to affirm her and affirm her anger or frustration or feelings, but we are talking to her about how she can use her words to tell us what she wants, while Lux can't. She also tells us all the time that she is the baby and she wants us to hold her like a baby and she will pick up the pacifiers that Lux doesn't like and put them in her mouth. It's actually kind-of amusing because Isis doesn't like pacifiers, so she doesn't suck on them. She just puts it in her mouth and looks at you and then takes it out after a minute. It's all a part of the transition. We're just trying to be consistent.
 
Schedule: We're trying to do the consistent bedtime and waketime still. But I go with whenever she wakes up that is close to 7:00. Some days this is 6:30 and some days this is 7:15. If she's not up by about 7:15, I wake her up. At night, my ideal day would be feeding her around 6:00 and then around 8:00 and then putting her to bed. As you can see with the nighttime sleep above, this doesn't always work out perfectly. During the day, I am still focusing on every 2.5 to 3 hours with a cluster feed at night before bed. I'm also focusing on waketime of about 40 minutes, so I try to get her down within 35 minutes of waking up. This obviously is not consistent, but it's my goal.
 
Mom stuff: I'm still feeling great! Getting out of the house, watching some Vampire Diaries for fun, obviously blogging again - which is a fantastic outlet for me with a new baby. I think that's why my blogging slacked for a while. For one, I didn't have much to say and also because I didn't need that outlet. Now I do. I'm also focusing on keeping my house clean and laundry done. I absolutely LOVE being in my new house with a baby and not in my old townhouse. Having more room feels so much better! Keeping it clean feels even better than that! It's tough to keep the kitchen clean right now. Lewis is helping with that a lot. People are bringing us food and gifts, so the kitchen tends to get cluttered. 
 
I had my 2 week appointment the other day and she said I can start going back to the gym now. She said to take it easy and do about half what I did before. I'm not going to start just yet, but maybe this weekend I'll go at some point! I still had 19 pounds extra to lose, meaning I've lost 16 since she was born - most of that obviously baby & water weight right after birth. She also said she can put in my Implanon in about 2 weeks. That's the birth control I'm going to use this time. It's progesterone-only, which is what I wanted. I'm done with the birth control that has estrogen in it. That also means it's safe to use with breastfeeding. I wanted to wait until my milk supply was set up well, but I'm thinking I'll be good at about 4 weeks.
 
I went into school this week to get my picture taken for the yearbook and to stop in and see my students and the other 4th grade teachers. It was really fun! It was great to see my students! I really miss them, but I'm also happy to get this time at home with Lux. I know how important it is to be present at school, but you only get these first few weeks with your baby once in their life. I would hate to look back and think that I missed them. having 12 weeks is really a blessing. You just don't get that time back and as hard as the newborn stage is and as much as I've shared that I don't like it, it is still a time I wouldn't want to miss or leave up to someone else.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Newborns: Let's Be Honest

My friend Emily sent me this article yesterday & I have to say I laughed out loud & then read it to Lewis & then sat down & went "whew!" Because it is so refreshing to hear someone else say exactly what I'm thinking. And that is...

I do not like the newborn stage.

I thought I would enjoy it more this time than I did with Isis. And I do, for sure. But I really hated it with Isis, so there was lots of room for improvement there. This time I'm enjoying it more and emotionally I feel 100% different, but that doesn't mean I love this stage. 
 
Don't get me wrong, I love my newborns. I loved Isis the moment I found out she was really in there! I loved Lux from the same moment and I loved them both throughout the pregnancy and birth and now. But being a mom and loving your kids does not mean that you love every stage of childhood. I am just not a newborn kind of mom. 

I love when babies start sleeping more consistently. I love when babies start interacting more, whether it's a smile or a laugh, or man, I'd even take holding eye contact! I love when babies are awake more and play. I love when babies move and crawl and walk. Yes, I know, lots of mommies are of the opinion that they love when they stay where you put them. I don't care. I'd rather they go! Because you can tell that they want to get going from birth, they just can't. I love when babies give kisses and say mama and dada and when they have arm control and head control. I do love babies! And I pretty  much adore toddlers! I just don't love the newborn stage.

I don't enjoy not knowing what to expect from my day. I don't enjoy not being able to soothe a crying newborn with anything except putting them to my breast. I don't enjoy sore nipples or leaking or wearing pads (breast or otherwise). I don't enjoy being worried about germs constantly. I don't enjoy waking up at night, or worse just not knowing how many times you'll have to wake up at night. I can do a night waking and really enjoy that one-on-one time when there is only 1 feeding at night. I don't enjoy being tethered to my house the majority of the time. I don't enjoy getting naps established and consistent with a newborn. I don't enjoy diapering, swaddling and then feeding a newborn, only to hear that massive poop sound that tells you that you're about to have to unswaddle and re-diaper even though you just got them ready to put down to sleep.

Frustration.

I don't love it.

I will do this one more time. We want three children and I look forward to the day when we have three kids over the age of 2. That will be a challenge, I know, but I promise I'll love that more than the newborn stage. So for now, I keep telling myself, "Cameron, you WILL do this one more time." Because I'm mentally preparing now - almost 3 years out - for the last time I will go through the newborn stage. Yes, I need that much preparation before I can do it again. I also need no more than 1 child in diapers.

I also have decided that, taking a cue from the author of the blog Emily sent me, that I need to focus on the things at each point that I do love and am enjoying. So I'm going to make that a focus for myself.

What about you? Do you love the newborn stage? Is there a stage that you don't love so much?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lux: A Birth Story

First of all, the birth pictures were all taken by Sara Corman Photography
Please check out her blog for more!
 
 39 weeks, 2 days - the morning of the induction

I spent the last several weeks of this pregnancy in a lot of discomfort. It was difficult for me this time to work at the end. My heartburn was really difficult to deal with as time went on. My body was more fatigued than it had been with Isis as well. I just found myself ready to be done with pregnancy earlier than I’d anticipated. As I’d started dilating, I thought that things were progressing and that labor was coming soon, but my body continued to progress and labor continued to wait.

I met with my midwife for my 38 week appointment and I started going in 2 days in a row so she could sweep my membranes and try to move things along. Still nothing. So she told me that since I was at 4-5 cm and since I had a vaginal birth with Isis and progressed to 10 cm on my own, that she was willing to break my water to start labor once I was 39 weeks.  After some discussion with Lewis, we decided to do this on Friday, October 12. I would be 39 weeks and 2 days.

They set up the appointment for 5:00am. We got there at 5, did all the check-in paperwork and had lab work done. After about an hour, we were done and had to just wait in our room for my midwife, Melissa. She was coming about 7:30 or 8:00. I took a nap. Melissa arrived at 8:00am and after talking for a few minutes, she broke my water about 8:30am. She said that I should get up and walk around to try to start labor. My options if it didn’t start were to use a breast pump to stimulate contractions or to go on a Pitocin drip for about an hour and then come off to see if my body will do it naturally. I was just praying for labor to start on its own.

For the next 2 hours, we walked the halls, bounced on an exercise ball and walked around the hospital room. Slowly I started having some contractions. By about 10:15am they were actually coming more regularly and were anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes apart, but they didn’t hurt a lot, just felt like lots of pressure. 

Around noon, Melissa came to check on me. Contractions were feeling more real at that point and I knew for sure I was in active labor. They were about 2-3 minutes apart and were more consistent. I was alternating between walking around the hallways to bouncing on the exercise ball to standing by the window in my room. Lewis was there with me as well as my best friend Diana who attended my first birth. My friend Sara, who was taking pictures of the birth, was also there this whole time. Diana had to leave soon after lunch because her husband had to work, so she left to watch her kids for a little while with plans to come back once she had a back-up sitter.

I think one of my favorite things about natural labor is the fact that you can control the pace of things to a certain extent. After such a long labor with Isis, I knew what things to look for and what to try to speed things up or slow things down. I walked the halls when I wanted things to get started or speed up. Contractions always became more regular, closer together and stronger when I did this. I would start to get tired or sore after walking & having contractions for a little while, so then I would go back to the room to bounce on the exercise ball. Contractions were still regular when I did this, but they were easier to deal with on the ball when I wasn’t standing up and it gave my legs and feet a rest. When I was ready to start things up again, I would go walk.

When I was for sure labor was really going, I tried to get in the tub. I was lucky enough to again get the only labor room with a tub! I absolutely love the tub and it definitely makes contractions a lot easier to deal with, and with Isis, as my first natural labor, I used the tub a lot and really appreciated it. This time, with a second natural labor that I was less scared of and that I knew I wanted to progress faster, I was disappointed when I found that getting in the tub definitely made things easier, but also slowed things down. Contractions continued to come regularly, but they were slower and further apart. I decided this wasn’t what I wanted, so I got out and went back to walk the halls.

At this point, it was about 2:00pm. My contractions were still about 2-3 minutes apart. I had the nurse check me and she said I was still only at a full 5 cm. This was really frustrating and so I went back to walking the halls. They started to come stronger as I walked the halls and I would have to make a little noise to get through them. This was when I knew things were finally progressing.

For me, labor goes like this: First, contractions are basically just lots of pressure and I’m able to talk and move around through them basically like nothing is going on. Then, contractions are more painful and require me to breathe through them, but I can still stay quiet and I go back to myself and my regular conversations in between them. Then they continue to get more painful and I have to kind of groan or make more noise to get through them, but again in between them I can still maintain conversation and come back to myself. Finally, the last stage is when the contractions are so strong that I am basically loudly groaning or yelling, even could be described as growling and I’m not able to come back to myself in between them. They are closer together at that point and I’m having to focus on breathing in between to keep myself as calm as possible.

So when I started having to make noise to get through them, I felt good about things moving forward. I continued to walk the hall for about an hour. I came back in the room and had contractions for about 30 minutes sitting on the exercise ball. At that point, they were getting stronger and I was moaning to get through them. I started to notice that contractions would slowly build and then at their peak, I would feel almost like a jolt of additional pain and it would catch my breath every time. I was still maintaining an ongoing conversation with Lewis and with Sara, but Lewis told Diana about this point that she needed to come back. In between contractions, we were still laughing and talking like normal.


Right about 3:30, I didn’t notice a huge change in my contractions, but something changed and I could feel it internally and all of a sudden I had a hard time pulling myself back into the normal conversation in between contractions. I had 2 contractions like that and I looked at Lewis and I go, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I said “I’m breaking” and I started to cry a little bit. Another contraction hit really hard and I told Sara to get the nurse as I was in the middle of a contraction and Lewis was helping me. I told the nurse to check me again. I also told her that if she said I was at 6 cm, I was going to be mad. I could feel a very noticeable difference in the contractions and I was really having to make noise to get through them.

The next part felt like it lasted a lot longer than it really did. The nurse said I was at 7 cm and needless to say, I was not happy with this. I again looked at Lewis and said that I didn’t know if I could do this. He continued to offer me support and tell me I could do it and he never let me see him break, which I found out later he did for a second. Another major contraction hit and as I was moaning through this one, I felt hands rubbing my legs and I realized that Diana had come back. 

As soon as the contraction was over and I saw her, she hugged me and I started crying. With the next contraction, I told the nurse – not quite as nicely as I would’ve in a different situation – that I wanted Melissa and I wanted her now. I saw her quickly leave the room and by the time I was having the next contraction, Melissa was there.

I told Melissa that I didn’t think I could do this and she told me she thought I needed to switch positions and get on my hands and knees with my body leaning over the back of the bed. I got in that position, immediately got really hot and they took off my hospital gown, brought in a fan to blow on my face and put cold wet towels on my back and face. The contractions were coming on top of each other at this point and I think I had maybe 2 before I felt something shift inside me. All of a sudden I knew that Lux had dropped down in the birth canal. I yelled, “I think she’s coming out! I think she’s coming out!” I felt Melissa check and all of a sudden I heard Diana telling me that Melissa was putting on her birth gear, that all the nurses for the baby were in the room and that they were putting down the pads on the bed for birth.

I started feeling an intense urge to bear down and push all the time. I don’t even know if I was having contractions in particular, I was just having the urge to push over and over. My body was in pain and my mind was focused on nothing, but getting her out. I have to say, this is the most raw and primal I have ever been in my life. The noises I was making, the feelings I was having, the intense focus to do nothing but get this baby out all came from a place that I couldn’t even control. My body knew what to do. My mind knew what to do. I couldn’t have stopped pushing even if I wanted to. I could still feel Lewis up by my head and back and because we had been planning throughout the pregnancy for him to catch the baby when she came out, I yelled, “Lewis are you going to catch her??” Because I didn’t think he realized that she was really coming out and fast. I heard them get him gloves and within the next couple of pushes, he was there to catch her.

I felt something strange when I was pushing. With Isis, I remember her head felt smooth and round and then her body felt bumpy as it was coming out. When I was trying to push out Lux’s head, it felt almost bumpy and I couldn’t figure out why. I found out later that her hand was right up by her chin and she was basically stuck in the birth canal. Melissa had to reach up and kind-of guide things and move things a little bit and I pushed harder and Lux came out like Superman with her arm first. I also found out later that because of her position with her arm, that I probably wouldn’t have been able to push her out if I had been on my back pushing, so I’m happy for several reasons that I was on my hands & knees & that I didn’t have an epidural. I felt a lot more in control of my own pushing & obviously it was a better position for pushing a baby who was positioned differently.

Lewis caught her, handed her through my legs up to me and she was out! I find it just crazy that from the first moment I told Lewis that I didn’t think I could do it until the moment I pushed her out was less than 30 minutes. It went by in a blur. I really believe that in natural labor, every mom reaches that point when she thinks she can’t do it, but it is always right at that last point before you enter the final stage. So for any moms looking to go natural, accept that moment and push hard right through it because you’re almost done.

Over the next few minutes, they got me turned over onto my back and put Lux up on my chest. At my hospital, they do what is called kangaroo care, where the babies are placed skin to skin on mom’s chest for at least the first hour after birth. They do the APGAR, the footprints, the first feeding and everything there. So Lux and I started our time together in that position while Melissa finished up everything with me as far as birth and afterbirth goes. Lux had her first feeding a few minutes after she was born. She latched on immediately and fed for about 45 minutes!

Looking back over the whole experience, I am so grateful and so overwhelmed with several different emotions. I am happy to have had a much shorter labor than I had with Isis. I am happy that I was more confident in the process of labor this time. I knew what to do to speed things up or slow things down. I also had incredible support again. Lewis was a rock and was so encouraging and positive. It helped that he knew more about what to expect this time and knew what everything meant and what to say. Diana was also so strong and so helpful. When she came in the end, it was perfect timing and exactly what I needed to get through those last moments. I am extremely grateful for my nurse-midwife. She is one of the most wonderful people that I know and she just happens to also be an incredible midwife. She knew exactly what to do and what to say and she was available as soon as I asked for her. When she came in at the end, her suggestions moved things on so that those last moments were so fast and as comfortable as they could’ve been. Her presence in the delivery room brings such peace and confidence for me.

This picture is Isis giving Lux a kiss through the window the first time she saw her.

My birth experiences with both girls were very different. I am so grateful for both of them and wouldn’t ask for a different way to bring them into the world. I am so happy to know that I was able to have 2 natural labors with no complications. I know that with all the difficulties that can happen, that this is truly a blessing and I am thankful for it. Now I have 2 beautiful girls who are both healthy and doing wonderful! I feel truly blessed!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Newborn Summary: Week 1

With this being baby #2, I find myself constantly checking back on my blog to try to see what Isis was doing at this age and what strategies I was trying for her to eat and sleep well. I can't remember and I didn't keep consistent track as specifically as I would've liked. I realize this isn't really a benefit for everyone or something that everyone would want to read, but I need to post it for me because we plan on having a 3rd child and I want to be able to go back and look at what I was doing this time! So if these are interesting to you, then great, if not, ignore and move on because I'm posting them for me! I'm also using the guides that the Chronicles of a Babywise Mom blog uses because they just make sense to me! Her blog is fabulous and pretty much a daily read of mine in the first year!
Newborn Summary Label on Babywise Mom blog
Newborn Index on Babywise Mom blog
 

Gas: So far Lux hasn't shown any signs of gas issues. She had a couple of individual times in the first day or 2 at home from the hospital that we could tell she was having a little gas pain. She didn't have a BM for the first day or so at home. When we went to the doctor, he helped in that department, which was interesting. Other than that, we haven't had any issues yet!

Nursing: Lux is a fabulous nurser! Isis had a hard time in the hospital and wouldn't latch on. I ended up having to use the nipple shield, which wasn't my favorite. Lux started nursing within the first 10 minutes after birth and she latched on perfectly and nursed for about 45 minutes! She has nursed consistently and for a full feeding every time since then with no issues. One of my biggest focuses when it comes to nursing a baby is that I work for full feedings every time and I don't let them snack at the breast or just nurse for comfort. 

One thing about nursing with Lux that is good in terms of nursing, but an issue in terms of my future scheduling, is that she falls asleep at the breast every single time she feeds. She has yet to not do this. She is a very sleepy newborn. The good thing is that unlike Isis, she will keep nursing even when she's asleep. Reflex, I guess. She will be eating and swallowing and everything and I can tell she is asleep while she's doing it. Isis wasn't like this. If Isis fell asleep while she was nursing, she would stop sucking. So it's great that Lux still takes a full feeding even if she falls asleep, but it's not great when I'm trying to do an Eat-Wake-Sleep pattern and she falls asleep every time she eats. Right now it's a struggle to get her to have any wake time at all after she eats.

Another positive thing about nursing with Lux is that she is gaining weight steadily! We had to go to the pediatrician the day after we came home from the hospital, which was a Monday. We went back 2 days later on Wednesday and she had gained 6 oz. The doctor said they like to see them gain and oz a day, so she's clearly doing well! Isis was like this as well. I think I just produce a lot of milk and working for the full feedings helps them get all of it. I pumped the other day because I got a little uncomfortable and I got 6 oz after feeding Lux fully from both sides! So that's good! Hoping that keeps up when I go back to work and I have to pump at school.
 
Last thing to note, my milk came in on Monday, our first full day home from the hospital. Since then I've been trying to feed her every 2.5 to 3 hours. At first I was offering both sides, but she has recently (at the beginning of week 2) started nursing one side at a time for about 15-20  minutes total.
 
Burping: I don't think I'm a good burper, but I've still been trying with Lux. I honestly think she has only burped once or twice since birth. She hasn't had any major reflux or gas issues, so I think she's okay, but I'm still trying to burp her when I can.
 
Waketime: Right now, Lux is a sleepy newborn, as I said before. She will have some wake time with each feeding. I mainly just change her diaper, change her clothes if it's morning or evening, feed her and every couple of days we do a bath. Other than that, her wake time is very minimal. For the most part, she is back to sleep within minutes of feeding, if not immediately after because she didn't wake up after feeding (see above where I explain that she falls asleep at the breast every single time). 
 
She has had a couple of days where she got overstimulated. We've had lots of visitors and so it is always difficult when she is passed around and it wakes her up a lot. If she goes longer than 45 minutes being awake, it becomes difficult for her to go back to sleep. We've had some rough afternoons or evenings because of this, but overall it's rare.

Nighttime Sleep: At the hospital, she was basically asleep the entire time. We sent her to the nursery both nights and each time they brought her back, they said that she had been asleep the whole time. When we got home, it was more of a transition.

Night 1 - Sunday night - she ate at 8:30pm, 11:00pm, 1:00am, 2:00am, 5:00am and 7:30am. She slept a lot of the night in the bouncy seat next to my bed. She didn't do great with it and it was a rough night. She also seemed to hate the swaddle and when we let her out, the arm movements that newborns have kept waking her up.

Night 2 - Monday night - she ate at 7:00pm, 8:40pm, 10:40pm, 12:15am, 3:00am, 5:50am and 7:45am. She slept most of this night in our little co-sleeper thing that fits in the middle of our king size bed and has the sides on it so that we are still separated from her and it's like her own little bed in our bed. She did a little better with this, but it was still rough. Again, she wasn't loving the swaddle and woke a lot because of her arm movements.

Night 3 - Tuesday night - she ate at 8:15pm, 10:00pm, 11:00pm, 1:30am, 2:30am, 5:00am and 7:45am. She also slept in the co-sleeper thing this night, although I think later on this night, I just pulled her down next to me and let her sleep beside me. This is not something I'm really comfortable doing, but she slept better. I didn't, though.

Night 4 - Wednesday night - she ate at 7:40pm, 9:15pm, 10:30pm, 11:30pm, 2:20am and 6:30am. We've been having a rough start to our nights, but them past 10 or 11, she will go longer stretches and sleep really well. This night she was again sleeping down next to me. She slept better after 11, but again I didn't. It just makes me really scared to have a baby sleeping next to me in bed. I'm just not a co-sleeper by nature. Also, this night was the first night that I stopped waking her up to eat. When I went to the doctor and they said she had gained 6 oz in 2 days and that I could just let her do what she does at night, I have just been letting her wake me up when she's ready to eat.

Night 5 - Thursday night - she ate at 7:40pm, 9:15pm, 11:00pm, 2:40am, 5:50am and 7:40am. This night, we tried the SwaddleMe blanket and we put her in the pack & play in our bedroom. She cried for a little while because she couldn't get her arms free, but she ended up falling asleep and did great! When she woke up after 9pm, I unswaddled her, changed her diaper, re-swaddled her, nursed her and then put her straight down. She went back to sleep in the pack & play each time after that. We are trying to wake her up around 7:15/7:30am, because that's when Isis is getting up each morning.

Naps: For the whole first week, she basically took naps wherever. I might've been holding her, Lewis might've been holding her, she might've been in the bouncy seat or laying on the couch next to me. She slept better during the day than at night and I've had to wake her for every feeding. 

Sibling: Isis has loved helping with Lux. She wants to help change every diaper. She will bring you the diaper and the wipes, then she will take the dirty diaper and throw it away in the trash can. She also frequently asks to hold her. She helped us with her bath the other day by putting lotion on her legs when we were done. She also likes to brush her hair after the bath. She is constantly telling me how pretty Lux is and how she is "so sweet, mommy" and "so special." The first week, we had no real outbursts from Isis or jealousy. The only issues were when she wanted to help more than she could at that moment, like that she wants to hold her when I have to feed her.

Schedule: During the day, we focus on a morning wake time around 7:15/7:30am, then I feed her every 2.5 to 3 hours and we have a bedtime around 7:30/7:45pm. I don't wake her at night, I just feed her when she wakes up. If she does happen to be awake for a full waketime, I try to get her down for a nap within 40-45 minutes of waking up.

Mom Stuff: My emotions have been much more manageable this first week than they were with Isis. I had about 4 or 5 crying episodes and 4 out of the 5 of them were because I was overwhelmed with being so happy! Most of them had to do with Isis doing something sweet with Lux and me just loving it! I've also made it a point to get out of the house at least once a day. Most of the first week, that included going to the doctor or going to Orange Leaf to get ice cream! 

I haven't had nearly as much pain in my bottom as I had with Isis and I think that is both because labor and pushing was way shorter and also because I didn't have to have any stitches at all. The only problem with that is that I've felt so good that I pushed myself a little too hard. On Thursday, I decided to take the stroller and walk Lux to pick up Isis from the babysitter. That afternoon and evening, my bottom was hurting a lot worse and I started bleeding worse again. I had just pushed myself too hard too soon. I think that also led to my crying episode that night that wasn't related to something good, but rather being overwhelmed. Since then, I've been trying to just take it easy.

My friend Emily set us up with a takethemameal.com plan and she emailed lots of our friends to see if they wanted to sign up to bring us food for the first couple of weeks of being home with a newborn. A bunch of people have signed up and it has been the most incredible blessing to have people bring us food each day! We haven't had to worry about cooking or preparing anything and with an (almost) 3 year old and then a newborn, that's just so helpful!!

Adjusting

It's so crazy to me how different it has been going from 1 child to 2. The transition from 0 to 1 for us was really rough. If you read back through some of my posts from when Isis was first born, you'll find that it was incredibly emotionally draining. I didn't know how to deal with the emotions, the hormones, the lack of sleep and the fears. It took me at least 2 months to really work through some of that and probably the first 6 months before I felt like I was really back to myself again.

This time, it has been completely different. I think part of it is knowing what to expect. It's also helpful when your labor is a total of 4-6 hours rather than 21. I didn't start Lux's life with a huge sleep deficit just from labor. It's also different because I have lots of tools in my belt to figure out how to adjust to Lux's needs and personality. I know what I tried with Isis and I have been able to try those things with Lux and find what works. It was a little scary at first because I had Isis and I really knew Isis. I didn't know Lux yet. She has her own things that comfort her and her own personality in terms of eating and sleeping. So it was scary knowing that I needed to take the time to learn all of her specifics.

Luckily this time, it's been easier to adjust and to figure out those things for her. For one, she's a lot more cuddly and easily comforted than Isis was. It's easier to find something that makes her feel better and sleep well. She's a little easier to read. It's also interesting how it feels to add a second child rather than a first. With Isis, it was like she became our entire world and if she had a bad day, I had a bad day. If she didn't sleep, I was super worried about it and upset. If she was crying, I had a hard time dealing with it. This time, I don't have the luxury of wrapping my whole world around Lux. She's had to come in to the family we've already established and it's been fun to just see how she is incorporated to what we already had. Isis loves interacting with her and Lewis and I both love getting one-on-one time with her. It's good that I can't just focus on her because if she has a bad day, we have to just keep going because we have Isis and we have a lot more to think about. There are times I have to cater to Isis and times I have to cater to Lux. And honestly, that's a relief rather than a stress. 

As someone who thrives under a routine and who has reaped the benefits of a consistent daily routine with one child, it's also strange to be back into that mindset. Isis' daily schedule is so simple now that I hadn't really even thought about it for about a year. It's been the same. But the first year to 18 months of her life, I was thinking about her routine all the time. I'm back there with Lux. What's neat about that is that because we already function under a routine, Lux has just naturally fallen into that with us. We have a consistent waketime with Isis and a consistent bedtime. Lux already has the same thing. Therefore, at 10 days old, we already have days that look about the same. I'm going to talk more about that in a later post. 

Right now, I just wanted to share how positive it has been to add another member to our family! I am loving it and excited to be off for 12 weeks to really get to know Lux and get her set up in our family!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lux Violet

Lux Violet
Born Friday, October 12 at 3:56pm
7 lbs 15 oz
20 inches long

I've been enjoying the last week or so & haven't taken the time to blog about everything. Lux finally arrived & it has been really amazing! Welcoming a second child into the world was extremely challenging, but also so fulfilling! I have loved adding a new member to our family & seeing how it changes the dynamic between all of us. It has been a really enjoyable change & I'm happy to say that Isis is dealing with it really well! She loves helping & holding her & always wants to tell me how pretty she is.
 
I've been working on my birth story. It's a little long, but I think I'm just going to leave it as it is. I want to remember it fully. I also had a birth photographer this time & I'm excited to share some of her pictures! All of that is coming up in the next week!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pregnancy Update: 38 weeks

Weight: I've gained 35 pounds total. Each appointment now, I'm right at that point, not really gaining anymore. I was even a pound less last week and now back up to 35 pounds total this week. I'm happy with my weight gain. It's about 5 pounds more than I gained with Isis, but it's a second baby and it's warmer outside, so I've noticed more fluid retention and a little more swelling in my feet and legs than I had with Isis. I can still fit in a few non-maternity shirts, but with pants, there are 2 pairs of maternity capri jeans that I can fit in, a pair of maternity leggings and a couple of pairs of sweatpants that I fit in. That's it. So considering the temperature dropped today, I'm hoping she comes soon because I don't really have any warm weather pants that fit me right now!

Aversions: None! Yay!

Cravings: Ice cream - Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip or anything from Orange Leaf. I want it all the time. Not indulging myself, though, because I'm happy staying at my 35 pound weight gain. LOL. I'm also still craving Arby's. Weird.

Differences this time: The main difference I've been experiencing lately is how my body is preparing for labor. With Isis, I was checked at 36 weeks and my cervix was still closed. I didn't start dilating until 37 weeks. I went from 1 cm to 4 cm in 2 1/2 weeks and Isis was born 3 days early. This time, I was checked at 35 weeks because I was having so many strong Braxton Hicks and I was already 1 cm. I'm now 38 weeks & in 3 weeks, I've gone from 1 cm to 4 cm and I'm 100% effaced with a "really bulging" bag of water (sorry for all the cervical medical lingo). But this still apparently means nothing because she's not here yet. So I'm just waiting. Not so patiently, mind you. Another thing that is very different is my job. With Isis, I was working as a personal assistant for my friend's mom, who is also Lewis' boss now. I loved it. It was actually really fun and it was also perfect for a pregnant woman because if I got too tired or sore, I could sit and relax as needed. This time, I'm teaching. So actually this past week, I realized that I was pushing myself a little harder than my mind and body were okay with and I decided to stay home. I had 3 1/2 days until fall break with school anyway and I wasn't going to come back after fall break, so essentially I got a few days at home by myself to mentally prepare (and wait impatiently) for baby! I ran a lot of errands, went to the gym, got a lot of stuff done, and now I feel ready.

Heartburn: The Nexium that was prescribed at my 30 week appointment has absolutely changed my life!! I have still had a couple of individual issues, but that's it. As a whole, my days are great, no heartburn! At night, I drink milk before bed to just give that extra boost of help, but it's been wonderful!

Name: Isis now knows the baby's name and will tell anyone if they ask her. Because of this, a lot of people know the name now. But I'm still not telling until she's here! It is really fun, though because Isis refers to her sister's room as ______'s room and her toys as _______'s toys and she even picked out a blanket to give her at the hospital and we were back at Target the other day, where she found the blanket, and I pointed to it and said "who has a blanket like that?" and she goes "Baby sister _______ does!!" Oh I'm so excited to see the bond between these 2 girls throughout their lives!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thoughts on an Upcoming Birth

Maternity pictures by Sara Corman Photography
 
I am laying in bed, trying to take a nap, and I can't stop thinking about what is coming soon. With Isis, I didn't start dilating until I was 37 weeks. I went from 1 cm to almost 4 cm in 2 1/2 weeks and Isis was born 3 days early. This time, I was having lots of strong Braxton Hicks contractions from 23 weeks or so on, so when I got to 35 weeks and was feeling a lot of pressure in my bottom all the time, I asked to be checked. I was already 1 cm at that point. I am now 38weeks and 3 days. I'm at a full 4 cm and 100% effaced. I've decided that with baby #3, I will not be checked until I hit my due date - if I get that far. Because clearly it doesn't mean anything and it just gives me anxiety to sit here thinking that things could get started at any moment, but they don't.

It's also interesting this time because it's a second birth. I had Isis with no medical interventions, no IV, no medication, etc. For me, I just have always felt that birth is a rite of passage. It shouldn't be painless to bring a child into the world. I want to feel every moment of it and experience that with them. It puts perspective on the whole thing for me. It makes me feel powerful and encouraged, but at the same time humble and weak in the right ways. I have to rely so much on God, my husband, and the people around me that it is both the strongest and weakest I am in my life and I think there is such a beauty in that. With Isis, I didn't know what to expect. I had told everyone that I wanted a natural birth and I got mainly lots of negative comments or eye rolls or people who basically thought I'd feel the pain and ask for the epidural. So I was feeling both headstrong and determined to do it natural and also scared to death because what if all these people are right? What if it's so bad that I really can't do it? I've never really thought of myself as someone with an incredibly high tolerance for pain or even someone who is very courageous in scary situations. It was possible I couldn't do it. Fast forward through a long, natural labor, and turns out, I can do it. And man, did that feel awesome to say! 

This time, it's different because I know what to expect in terms of pain and possibly even length. I know how long and tiring and terrifying labor can be. I still have those same fears - what if I can't do it? What if I'm not as strong as I think I am? The difference now is that I also remember doing it. No one has questioned me when I say I want to do it natural again because they remember that I did it. I remember those gutteral cries in the last stage and through pushing. I remember going so inward in my mind that I don't remember much at all about what was happening around me. I remember the fear and then the relief immediately after she was born. I remember the first time I held her and me thinking "I just did this. I brought you into the world." I remember feeling powerful and strong and confident. Nobody could take that away from me. I need that feeling again now. 

There is so much fear that comes with being a mom. All of a sudden your heart basically lives outside your body. I heard a quote about that once and I was like, "oh my gosh, yes!" There are so many things that can hurt your children and you want to protect them and love them and keep them from anything negative. But you have to live through the pain, the sickness, the tears, the tantrums, the fights, to also experience the love and the joy and the unexplainable about of pride that comes from seeing your child experience life fully. I think birth is such a perfect representation of this. The pain with the joy. The fear with the accomplishment.

I feel like I'm ready - as ready as I can be - to start this journey again. To experience it this time again with Lewis, but also with Isis. To watch the world change through her eyes and to watch it open up for the first time again for her baby sister. I'm ready. I'm still scared. I still have questions. I still doubt myself at times. But oh the things I have learned in the last 3 years through that fear, those questions, that doubt. Bring it on.

On a side note, I re-read Melissa at Dear Baby's birth stories for her daughter Everly and her son Arlo again today. I had tears down my cheeks at the end of them and felt even more encouragement from a mom who had been where I was. If you're pregnant or just want to read something beautiful, check those out.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Packing my Hospital Bag

I've already packed my hospital bag, but I thought maybe I'd share what I'm bringing this time. There are a few things different from last time.

For me:
Pair of sweatpants/yoga pants
the comfortable, not super tight kind
2 t-shirts
comfortable, easy to pull up to nurse, so not tight
1 cute nightgown & a cute robe
I got a cute nursing one at Motherhood Maternity. Last time I didn't bring anything like this. I just slept in a t-shirt. But I remember just feeling frumpy and I wanted to feel somewhat cute after birth.
4 pairs of underwear
I bring extras because it's messy after birth & you never know. Also along those lines, I bring the older ones that are really comfortable - think your period pair, ladies. Another thought on this topic, if you have a preference on ginormous pads, bring your own, but in my opinion, none of them are comfortable so I just use the hospital ones.
Nursing bra
a comfortable one, notice the comfort theme
Couple of nursing pads
Just in case things get messy, although with Isis, my milk didn't come in until I got home, so things really weren't messy at all at the hospital.
Toiletries
for me this includes toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, deodorant, my own washcloths & hand towel, hair brush, headband & ponytail holders
Makeup
yes I am that girl that puts on makeup in the hospital. I don't care. People are taking pictures & I feel more confident & I just gave birth, so I'd like to look somewhat attractive.
Hair straightener
I wash my hair at night, let it air dry as I sleep & then I straighten it in the morning. I'll do it 1 day at the hospital, then leave my hair as it is for a day. Again, pictures & confidence!
Pair of socks
just in case the floor is cold, but I kinda prefer to be sock-free
iPad
Digital Camera
Cell phone & cell phone charger

For baby:
3 outfits
2 normal ones, 1 home from the hospital outfit. Although I must say, I'm not sure yet if I'll use the regular outfits. I didn't with Isis. I just used the home from the hospital outfit. And these are the one-piece footed outfits, not separates. Although her home from the hospital outfit this time is 2 pieces because it was cuuuuute.
2 receiving blankets & a few burp cloths
I just think my receiving blankets are cuter to be honest.
1 hat
a cute pink one that matches all her outfits!
Boppy!
this is 1 thing I did not bring with Isis and I wish I had! Makes nursing so much easier!!
Hand mitts
I didn't bring these with Isis, but I will this time! Those new baby fingernails are sharp!


What would you add? Or take off?
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