Tuesday, October 28, 2008

3 Weeks

Today we've hit the 3 week mark. It gets better with every week, although I don't know if I would say that time is flying by. When I step back, it does not seem like I've been on maternity leave for an entire month already. However on a day by day basis time seems to move slowly given that my days consist of feeding, diaper changing, daytime television, general household upkeep and the occasional errand to the outside world. I'm not complaining. This change is temporary and well worth it for Miss Jillian. But admittedly I'm missing the intellectual stimulation from work that watching Regis and Kelly or the View just cannot provide.

The theme of the past week has been trying to let go of guilt and enjoy Jillian. I had prepared myself for depression, sadness and hormonal shifts after having a baby. What I had not expected was an enormous amount of guilt and inadequacy, which I think were heightened by the problems with breastfeeding. As I mentioned in my last post, we had problems breastfeeding after Jillian's NICU stay, and while I loved providing my baby with breast milk I hated pumping. I found the pressure to pump regularly enough to maintain my supply overwhelming. Late night pumpings took time away from what precious little sleep I was getting. Or when I would finally find a free minute to pump, it seemed like Jillian would start fussing. Soon I found myself resenting both pumping and Jillian. So in the end, I decided to give it up. I'm not proud of the decision and it certainly came with many tears. But in the end, I decided that it was more important for me to relax and enjoy my time with Jillian, and the past couple days have confirmed that choice to be a good one for me. (Please if you have anything negative to say about my decision keep it to yourself. I know this is a sensitive issue for people, but I hope people can respect my choice enough to keep their opinions to themselves.)

The sleep situation at night has been getting better thanks to the swing. Last night I actually got 4 (yes 4!) hours of uninterrupted sleep. With today's FedEx delivery of the Miracle Blanket, I'm hopeful that such sleep trends will continue. Also at C's recommendation my Moby Wrap arrived today, and I've been testing the contraption out. I'm finding that online shopping is a necessity with a newborn. How did mom's survive before the internet?

Jillian is starting to get fussy so I'd better go. I'm curious to see what week 4 brings. The first few weeks have been so much about trial and error in terms of figuring out what does and doesn't work. I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it all, but still constantly nervous that this whole experiment is going to explode in my face.

Friday, October 24, 2008

One day at a time

I know that it isn't going to be like this forever. Someday she'll sleep for more than two to three hours at a time. Someday she'll be able to sleep in a crib rather than on me or in a swing or in a bouncy seat. Someday she'll be able to go longer than a few hours between feedings. Someday she'll do a little more than eat, poop and sleep all day. I'm very much looking forward to someday. But I have to keep reminding myself that as slow as these days are, I'll look back on them as fleeting moments. It has helped so much to hear from those of you that have been here before or are here now. Hearing that all this is normal and that it gets easier is enormously reassuring.

Here are a few more random thoughts:
  • For anyone out there who is fortunate enough to be able to plan births (which excludes most of my readership) I highly recommend not having a baby just before a major election. Daytime TV is boring enough (from noon to 4pm your only choices are court shows, Jerry Springer or soaps). But adding in all the political commercials is simply unbearable. Do people really make decisions based on these?
  • I was pretty worried after I gained 45 pounds by the end of the pregnancy. Well as of today I have lost 35 pounds of that. I guess I really had retained a lot of water! I can now cross my fingers and find my ankles again.
  • Maybe this isn't the most mature observation in the world, but I had no idea that babies fart and burp so much. This girl can be seriously embarrassing in public. Nobody is buying that such noises are coming from such a cute little thing and not myself.
Anyhow, I had better go as we are having a particularly fussy morning around here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2 Weeks

Somehow I've managed to survive to see Jillian reach the ripe old age of 2 weeks. I haven't had quite enough sleep to write a coherent post, so we'll have to settle with a smattering of random thoughts.
  • Having a newborn is hard. Yeah, I know this is sort of a "no sh*%" statement. I knew it would be, but it is the sort of thing that is impossible to understand without experience. I've never felt so incompetent, nervous, guilty, stressed out and yet insanely happy in my life, although it gets a little better every day as I gain confidence. I haven't had a tearful melt down yet, which I'm rather surprised by. On the other hand, my appetite has seemingly disappeared, which is downright bizarre for me. Normally I'm the poster child for stress eating. It is just as well though, because I have no time to eat these days anyhow.
  • Newborns come with a ton of paperwork. There is getting the birth certificate, getting added to 2 medical insurances, getting short-term disability paperwork submitted, completing a battery of tests from hearing to labs, and scheduling and going to doctor's appointments. Oh and I loved how the nurse at the hospital handed me a book on caring for my newborn to read in my spare time. I could not have imagined a busier, less relaxing hospital stay.
  • Jillian's appetite on the other hand is voracious. Today at her 2 week appointment, she weighed in at 8 lbs 13 oz...a gain of 11 oz over her birth weight.
  • Breastfeeding has not gone as planned, largely because of her NICU stay where they supplemented her with formula. She has taken to the ease of the bottle, and the only reaction my breast gets is relentless screaming. I am pumping so she is getting breast milk for about half her meals. I admit it is tough though, because I really loved the connection of breastfeeding and I despise pumping. If Jeramy wasn't here to encourage me, I would have given up a week ago.
  • I've noticed that she is more awake this week than last. Less fussy (knock on wood) too. After a feeding she likes to hang out and stare at me, which is fine except for the middle of the night.
  • I mistakenly assumed that babies fall asleep on their own and are happy to sleep in their crib or bassinet or whatever sleeping arrangement is provided. Jillian must be rocked to sleep, and if she is not sufficiently asleep when you lay her down she'll be up again within minutes. As such the only way we've managed to get sleep at night is together in my recliner in the living room. While I'm not exactly thrilled with this arrangement, I am getting sleep this way. I just hope to figure out a more suitable alternative in the next couple of months.
  • Every day it seems like I learn a new trick for getting things done with a newborn. If she wants to be held but I need to do the laundry, I can put her in the sling. If I want a shower but she wants to hang around looking at me, I put her in the bouncy seat in the bathroom. If I feed her in the boppy pillow, I have a hand free to do whatever I want.
  • Jeramy has been working 60 hours a week and it appears that this will continue for at least the next month. Normally I'm a big fan of overtime and the extra money it brings in. However, we both wish the timing might have been a little better.
  • Luckily I've had a lot of help. Last week, somebody came over to help out for a little while every day. This week, somebody will be here every other day. While I didn't think I'd need the help before having Jillian, I quickly changed my mind. It has been nice to have the luxury of working up to doing everything on my own.
  • I'm reading The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. I absolutely love it. The techniques described really work, and the first chapter alone has made a huge difference in the past couple of days.
  • Jillian's BFF (Rebecca Marie) was born last Thursday. Amazingly our friends Jenny and Jeff have somehow been on the same life timeline as Jeramy and myself. I've gone to school with them both since 7th grade, they were also high school sweethearts, they got married less than a year after us, and now we have had baby girls within 9 days of each other (I was 8 days late and Jenny 10 days early). We visited them on Sunday and snapped some pictures. Doesn't Jillian look huge in comparison?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Birth Story

I had best get this all written down for the sake of history at least before I forget. It is amazing how quickly you forget about labor after the little one arrives. I think it is because you are so very in love with them...or maybe it's because you're just to exhausted!

I had been having small contractions on and off all weekend. More than anything they were very frustrated because I wanted to be in real labor, everybody was calling hoping I was in real labor, but I was not. And there was nothing to actually do all weekend, so we just sat around and waited, and waited, and waited.

Monday afternoon I went to my 41 week appointment. Dr. C was out so her colleague Dr. W saw me. It was the same old song and dance as previous appointments but now I was further dilated to about 3 cm. Dr. W stripped my membranes again only she was way more extreme than Dr. C. By the time I got home at 3:30pm contractions were much stronger than before and getting closer together.

Jeramy and I decided to go to labor and delivery at 6:00pm. Much to my dismay I was still only 3 cm dilated and that did not change even after an hour of walking. They just were not close enough together or strong enough the nurses said. What scared me more was how horrible the contractions were. I asked if they could send me home with something to alleviate the pain, but Dr. W who was on call that night wouldn't allow for anything but tylenol. So they sent me home and expected to see me in the morning.

That night was horrible even after a couple tylenol PM. Contractions were about 10 minutes apart. So all night I would sleep for about 7 minutes, have a killer contraction for about 2 minutes, and then fall asleep in the next minute. Jeramy went to bed to catch a few winks, because I figured he would need the energy. By morning the contractions were still further apart than the L&D nurses wanted (2-3 minutes) but I just couldn't handle the pain anymore. After swearing that I'd never be one of those wussy woman screaming in pain like I'd watched on all those baby shows the week before there I was. When Dr. C's office opened, I made Jeramy call them and explain my situation. They said if they contractions were that painful to go to L&D. We arrived at 10am, and I was at 4cm so they admitted me. The next words out of my mouth were "can I have my epidural now?"

I got a room and the anesthesiologist arrived around 11:30am. Jeramy held my hand as they had me curl up in bed like a shrimp and insert that big needle. The whole procedure was nothing compared to the contractions, and because the contractions were so far apart I only had one during that time. I remember thinking this will be the last contraction that I feel as it passed to keep me motivated and focused. Within minutes my legs were tingly and I was happy. Soon after Dr. C arrived, broke my water and I was at 5cm.

A couple hours later I was only at 6cm so they started pitocin. I was shaking from the epi but was happy to deal with that over the pain. All day they had problems picking up my contractions with the monitors and eventually they put in a device to monitor them from within. Even with the pitocin they weren't very strong. Plus Jillian was sunny side up (which was what was causing that awful back labor), and she was not turning despite many hourly position changes. Later then ended up turning off the pitocin because her heart rate kept going up on it. At that point I was at 7cm and still now showing a regular contraction pattern. Plus I was now running a fever. Around 7pm, the nurse mentioned the words c section and soon after the on call doc, Dr. H was discussing that very option with me.

In the end we decided to go for it. I was worn out from a night of labor without sleep and an afternoon of unrelentless shaking. It seemed like there were so many factors against a natural delivery, although the official reason given for the c section was lack of progress after 24 hours of labor and fetal distress on pitocin. We had to wait in line for a couple hours for an open OR, but around 9pm Jeramy was suited up and they were rolling me back.

It was so strange to be on the operating table. I wasn't afraid of the surgery, but it was strange to be awake for it. What would I feel? They turned up the epi and my legs got really warm. They called Jeramy back even before the drop cloth was up. Things moved fast and before I knew it they were tugging Jillian out. I heard the words "wow, she has a big head" (so much for the u/s tech's reassurances on that front) and apparently she was wedged down in my pelvis. Then all of the sudden there was the weirdest release of pressure and Jillian was out. They gave us a quick look over the drop cloth and then began suctioning and suctioning and suctioning. She'd swallowed a lot of fluid, and was spitting that up for the next day or so. Jeramy and I just looked at each other with tears in our eyes. She was absolutely beautiful. Finally they gave her to Jeramy and he brought her to me. I couldn't hold her of course as I was still shaking from the epi. She was amazing.

Finally they got me all stitched up. That took much longer than the getting her out part! They had Jeramy push the baby's cart and they pushed me back to the room. Along the way we passed the waiting room where tons of family and friends were awaiting a glimpse of our new little girl. Back in the room there was all sorts of stuff that had to be done from more cleaning to weighing to warming, etc. It seemed like forever before I got to hold her.

Sorry for the long-winded and not particularly well written story. I just wanted to make sure I got these fleeting memories written down while I still had a chance. So far being a parent is amazing and stressful and fun all wrapped up into one. I just can't believe that Jeramy and I have come together (with a little help of course) to bring this beautiful little being into existence.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy to be Home

As Jeramy mentioned in the comments to the last message, we all got home on Saturday. I don't have much time (or energy) to post right now, so all I will say is that it has been quite the learning experience. As difficult as it has been at times, it is still completely worthwhile. While I knew it would be challenging, everybody is right that nothing can prepare you for parenthood and caring for a newborn.

Also, I couldn't have imagined how much I would love this little girl. It has been absolutely amazing to watch Jeramy with her too. He is a very active father, and I could never have done this without him. We are both sad that he must go back to work tomorrow, but luckily my wonderful mother-in-law is coming over tomorrow to help and my friend Jenny (who is on maternity leave awaiting the arrival of her first) will be here Wednesday.

I hope everything is going well for you all. I'm so behind on blog reading that I'm afraid to open Google Reader. I'm sure I'll get caught up eventually, but in the meantime I'm concentrating on taking care of Jillian and myself.

And of course here are a few more pics to tide you over...

Friday, October 10, 2008

In the NICU

If there was one thing I did not expect in delivering a baby at 41 weeks it was a NICU stay, but that is exactly where Jillian is at this moment. Yesterday around 4pm she spiked a temperature of 102 degrees. That is when the chaos broke loose. Our family practice doc who we're using for Jillian's pediatrician recommended a bunch of tests that needed to be done in the NICU. Jeramy was at a union meeting, so I went over with the nurse to have them done. Needless to say I was pretty scared and emotional but had managed to keep some control. Well when we arrived in the NICU, we found out that out doc, Dr. M, had talked with the NICU doc, Dr. L, and decided to transfer her to the care of the NICU (first Dr. L told me this and then Dr. M talked to me about this on the nurse's cell phone. They wanted to give her antibiotics, and they cannot do this in labor and delivery. Plus they wanted to run all sorts of tests: CBC, chest x-ray, blood culture and spinal tap. Obviously now I'm completely in tears, trying to talk with Dr. L in some sort of coherent manner, and watching them start a bunch of procedures on Jillian. In the meantime my Aunt Cheryl had arrived to visit in the middle of all this, and was brought into the NICU with me. Plus the nurse had let me call Jeramy on her cell phone to get him back to the hospital. There were a million things happening and there were lots of scary words flying around from sepsis to meningitis. Right after Jeramy arrived and met Dr. L, they sent us back to our room so that they could do the spinal tap.

The good news is that the early tests and chest x-ray came back clean. They were not able to get any spinal fluid from the spinal tap, but they did not need to repeat it at this point at least. By later that night her temperature had also gone back down. This morning another NICU doc said she'll finish the rest of her antibiotics by tomorrow, and if her temp stays down we can probably take her home then. In the meantime, the on-call OB offered to let me stay in the hospital another day, which is more comfortable than hanging out in the NICU the whole time (although it is nice and Jillian has a private room). She's also now on a combination of breast feeding, pumping and supplementing with formula, but the lactation consultant here is excellent and has spent a lot of time with me trying to figure out how to make it work for the transition home. Prior to the NICU I had only breastfed her.

Anyhow, this is a long and rambling email. But honestly that is kind of the chaos that describes the past few days. I am thankful that at least we were still at the hospital, because except for the thermometer readings, Jillian did not seem at all sick. She didn't even feel feverish. They had kept me in the hospital one extra day because I was running a temperature during labor, which peaked right after delivery. So they needed to keep me on antibiotics for 24 hours after delivery and then monitor me for another 24 hours after that. They never figured out why I ran a temperature, but if it was an infection of some sort that could have been passed to Jillian. At this point, it is hard to say exactly what happened, but thankfully doctors are extremely cautious when it comes to infants.

Once again it feels like my blog title seems to resound with me. No matter how well I prepare, no matter how much I read, and no matter how straight forward my pregnancy may have been, I just cannot prepare for everything life hands to me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thanks Everybody

Thanks so much for everybody's comments. Jeramy has been reading them all to me over the past couple of days. I see that he and Jaime did a great job keeping you updated including some fabulous pics of my unshowered self (thanks Jeramy, LOL!). We should be heading home tomorrow. But up for today are a shower, learning how to function without abdominal muscles, and passing gas (apparently a requirement for getting out of here.)

I'll post more and the full birth story sometime soon. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a pic of my favorite two people in the world:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

18 Hours old.

Here's some pictures of Jen and Jillian.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jillian is here

It finally happened!
19.5" long
8 Lbs 2 oz
Mom and baby are doing good!


8:36pm 10/07/08

Heading in for c-section

Admitted to the hospital

Jen has finally been admitted to the hospital. She had her epidural about noon, and now is best friends with the anathesiologist. She is feeling 100% pain free now. Jen is dilated to 5cm and the doctor just broke her water. The doc wll be back to check on her in an hour. I will leave an update later. She is in the birth center at Valley Medical Center in room 2304.
Jeramy (the DH)

Jen is dilated between 6&7cm. The doc is giving her pitocin to help her dilate more. Hopefully this will all be over with tonight.

5:38pm-not much change

6:51pm- No change, looking like a C-section tonight.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Still Here, Still Pregnant

Okay, so that wasn't exactly what I was hoping the title to my next post would be, but at my appointment today there were more signs of progress. I'm now 2-3 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and her head is in a much better position than it was on Friday. I saw the on call doctor today (Dr. W), and she went ahead and stripped my membranes again...if pain is any indicator she was much more thorough with that than Dr. C was last week. I've been having mild contractions about 10 minutes apart since about 2am, and immediately following the appointment they got much stronger. Dr. W said she thought I probably would not make it to my next appointment on Thursday.

What welcome news after a frustrating weekend of contractions that came and went. I've definitely been getting quite testy, as anybody who has called me for an update on whether or not I'd had the baby could attest!

So hopefully this really will be my last post before Jillian is born. My sister or hubby will be sure to update you guys!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Getting Anxious

I feel like I've been pretty patient so far, but after a week of being at home without a baby I'm starting to get pretty antsy. Today with the rain setting in outside, I was feeling rather depressed and claustrophobic and wondering if this baby would ever decide to arrive on her own. I have been feeling crampy for the past 24 hours, and then around noon I lost some of the mucous plug. This is probably TMI but I haven't been so excited over a vaginal discharge since first seeing egg-white cervical mucous after going off the pill. I immediately called Jeramy, who informed me that labor often starts within 1 to 3 days after losing the plug. Apparently he read that in a magazine. Let's just say that masculine-oriented reading material is severely lacking at the OB's office, and there is a whole lot of time to kill during those non-stress tests. So maybe we'll have a baby this weekend. I'd cross my fingers if they weren't so swollen.

Earlier in the day, I spent some time looking at old baby photos of Jeramy and myself and getting excited over who Jillian might look like. Here are some of the photos of each of us to serve as reference for after she arrives (they really scream the late 70's don't they!).

Me at 1/2 hour old...nice conehead, huh?

Me at 10 months old and still a bit of a baldy

Jeramy as a little baby. I think we look kind of similar, except his head is much nicer shaped (he was a c-section baby)

Jeramy a little bit older. He had some seriously gorgeous, thick locks.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Not Much Progress

Today brought the second doctor appointment of the week. Everything is looking good. BP is fine. Amniotic fluid levels are fine. The heartbeat is fine. Unfortunately there wasn't much for progress towards actually delivering this little girl. No contractions. Still dilated at 1cm. Dr. C did say my cervix seemed softer and that Jillian moved into a better position. She stripped my membranes so we'll see if that helps at all. If the baby hasn't arrived by next Thursday's appointment, then she'll schedule an induction.

Oh and we got the u/s tech to measure the head size, which has been a tremendous source of nervousness for me given the size of Jeramy's. Luckily she proclaimed it to be completely average. Phew!

We're getting anxious for Jillian to arrive, although I'm trying to remain patient. Jeramy is especially antsy. He keeps tapping my belly and instructing her to come out. Unfortunately it seems like she's like her mom...stubborn and running late!

I did get some u/s pictures, but it is difficult to make much out at this stage of the game. You can kind of make out a ghostly image of her face in this picture. Do you think she looks like Jeramy or me? (Either answer would probably be correct given that we look an awful lot alike).