One month

Can’t believe little Miss Mabel is now 4 weeks old. It feels like we just brought her home from the hospital yesterday. Yet the other day when we were giving her a bath, S said “I can’t remember anymore how we spent our time before she was here. What did we do all evening?” It’s true. Those evenings of binge watching our shows and lazily enjoying our dinner are over. And it’s way better now than I ever thought it would be.

This is a happy baby. She has no problem letting us know when she’s hungry or needs a new diaper, she goes from 0-60 in no time. But she seems to only cry when she’s trying to communicate her needs and we haven’t dealt with any major meltdowns since adding formula to the mix. (knock on wood)

Having said that, we have wandered into the phase I’ve read about where newborns are fussy in the evenings. She’s cluster feeding, drinking smaller amounts of milk every 45min to an hour each evening this week. But the fussiness seems to be well contained as long as we keep her moving between her feeding. This kiddo loves being bounced, rocked, gently jiggled, walked, you name it. I read that this is very common while newborns are adjusting to being outside the womb. In utero, they were used to near constant movement as we walked around and went about our usual business all day. Mabel definitely loves movement. I spend many hours on the birthing ball or in the rocking chair. Last night we even danced around the house to Aretha Franklin. 

Music that calms her down: the soundtrack to Les Mis (I have an advanced degree in theatre design and a real soft spot for musicals). We also downloaded some albums from a company called Rockabye Baby. They take popular musicians and convert their songs to instrumental lullabies. We have the Prince, Radiohead, and Pink Floyd albums. They also make one with Cure songs that I want to download next. It’s surprisingly joyful to dance around the house to an instrumental version of Little Red Corvette featuring a xylophone. 

Sleep: it’s getting better. Mabel still has the occasional night of waking up every hour and a half, but for the most part she’s sleeping in 2 1/2 – 3 hour chunks. She still prefers sleeping in our arms or on our chests. Last night we finally got serious about getting her used to the bassinet. She slept for about 3 hours in there (a record!), woke up around 2:30am to eat and then slept for another 2 hours before getting fussy. I brought her into bed with us for the last couple of hours before we started our day. But that’s  progress! While Mabel was in the bassinet, it was so nice to cuddle with S again in bed. It felt like it had been forever since we were able to spoon!

Ive made it a priority to try to get dressed every day and brush my teeth before noon. The two times I’ve become overwhelmed with parenting responsibilities and started crying, it was late evening and I was still wearing my pjs from the night before and I hadn’t brushed my teeth or washed my face all day. It’s amazing what putting on a pair of pants and brushing your teeth can do to your mental state. I also try to get out of the house more often. It can get pretty lonely being cooped up in a house all day. Even just a walk around the neighborhood with Mabel in the carrier helps. Maybe it’s the vitamin D.

Overall, I feel like we’re settling into this whole parenthood thing. I haven’t tried to implement any sort of schedule with Mabel yet. Just feed her when she’s hungry and let her sleep when she’s sleepy. At some point this summer I’ll try to get her on some sort of general  schedule before I go back to work in mid August and she’s left with a nanny. When did you guys start implementing a schedule? Did it just sort of happen organically as the baby matured? 

multitasking is hard

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I cried over spilled milk the other day. Really.

Breastfeeding is rough you guys. It feels like an uphill battle to try to get my milk supply up to par. The other night I was warming up the breast milk I had just pumped earlier that evening – a measly 1 oz. I was holding Mabel and opening the bottle to test the temperature of the milk when it slipped and fell to the floor. Half of it spilled out before S could reach down and pick it up. A half ounce was lost. And I just started crying. All the smelly herbs I’m taking, the uncomfortable pumping sessions – the half ounce that was lost represented a lot of work on my end. So I had a good cry over it. Then fed Mabel the half ounce that was left and supplemented with formula.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Mabel has been a pro at latching from the beginning. She was only about 10 min old when she started rooting around on my chest and immediately latched onto my boob. But over the next 4 days, it got harder. 

Mabel would get frustrated after a few minutes of breastfeeding and I’d have to calm her down and try again. My nipples started cracking and bleeding and I had big scabs develop on both nipples. By the time she was 3 days old, each nursing session resulted in both of us crying – her from frustration and hunger, me from pain. At her first Aftercare appt, the lactation nurse told us Mabel had a pretty deep tongue tie. I was so relieved to find out there was a reason for all the pain. Mabel couldn’t push her tongue forward enough to cushion underneath my nipple, so it was getting clamped right on the ridge of her gums where her teeth will grow in. She also was super inefficient at sucking. Which explained why she would nurse for 2 hours nonstop and still be hungry. After looking at the state of my nipples and how much weight Mabel had lost (7% of her birth weight), the nurse scheduled us to have the tie clipped that afternoon. 

As soon as they clipped her tongue tie, we had a nursing session and everything seemed to be ok. I felt immediate relief and less pain.

However, over the next week, Mabel would still get frustrated at the boob about half the time. She cried a lot. I thought maybe she was just a fussy baby. At our next weight check a week after her tongue tie was clipped, we found out she wasn’t gaining as much weight as they hoped. She was gaining an average of 1/2 oz a day, which is on the very low end of normal. The lactation nurse watched us nurse for a session and weighed Mabel right afterwards and we found out she wasn’t getting much milk from me. 

So my insurance sent me the Medela Symphony pump and I’m pumping 4-5 times a day. I’m also taking Brewers yeast tablets, a really gross liquid herb mixture of fenugreek and fennel seed, and I’m eating oatmeal every day. Also trying to make sure I drink plenty of water (I’m bad about not taking in enough liquids). 

So I’m pumping, giving  Mabel what I pumped at her next feeding session and then supplementing with formula if she’s still hungry (which she almost always is.) I try to always end each feeding session with her nursing, so she starts associating my boobs with her full belly. 

I’ve seen a small improvement in my supply. In the mornings I have a lot more milk and I can usually exclusively nurse her for her early morning (6am) feeding and she is able to fill her belly and pass out for her morning nap. My morning pumping sessions usually yield 2-3 ounces (the total from pumping both breasts). By afternoon and evening though, I’m lucky if I get an ounce from pumping. But one good sign? I noticed yesterday that I’m starting to leak! I woke up to Mabel crying and looked down and saw both boobs had started leaking for the first time, leaving two big wet spots on my tank top. That’s promising, right? Also, the big scabs on my nipples finally healed completely a couple days ago, which is a relief. 

I have to admit, Mabel is a much happier baby since we started supplementing with formula. She hardly ever cries now unless we’re taking too long to feed her. She’s sleeping better and growing like a weed. We’re starting to see the beginnings of chubby rolls on her arms and legs. I go back and forth between being mad at my body for not providing enough for my baby and reminding myself that it’s ok if she has to have some formula. The important thing is she’s being fed and she’s thriving. 

To end this really long post, here are some really cute photos.

Mabel’s Birth Story

It’s so bizarre to think that this time two weeks ago, we were getting ready to leave the hospital with our new daughter, learning the ropes to breastfeeding and staring at her in amazement. Now here I am with sore nipples, in my pjs with unwashed hair and a sleeping baby in my arms. Heaven.

Her birth story really starts on Sunday, May 22nd.  I was only having sporadic contractions at that point and felt like she might be a good solid week late. As I was stepping into the shower that morning, however, I had a small gush of bright red blood run down my leg. At first I thought it was my mucus plug, but realized there was nothing mucus-y about it. It was just blood. I called S into the bathroom and while we were staring at my leg, there was another small gush. I took a quick shower and then called the nurses line at our hospital. I wasn’t too concerned, Mabel had been really active all night and I figured the blood was just from my cervix dilating. The nurse concurred that everything was probably fine, but she wanted me to stop by L&D anyway to check Mabel’s heartbeat and make sure she was ok. So off we went.

An hour later and after a disappointing cervix check (cervix hadn’t budged since my OB appt 5 days earlier), we left the hospital. I figured things were starting to happen but we likely wouldn’t meet our gummy bear until the end of the week. 

I’m not sure if it was the cervix check or things just started moving quickly on their own, but Sunday night I started having contractions about 20 min apart. I timed them for awhile and then just decided to get as much sleep as I could. 

When I woke up Monday morning, the contractions were about 10 min apart. S needed to run into work to quickly wrap up some projects before her maternity leave started, so I told her I’d call her as soon as the contractions were closer together and let her know when she needed to come home. While I bounced on the birth ball and tried to distract myself by watching reruns of The West Wing, S fed the cats, gave them their medicine (this is an important fact later) and left for work.

The contractions continued and around 1pm, I went out in the backyard to let our two cats have some outdoor time. I noticed our 15 year old cat was walking funny, as if he were drunk. He kept stumbling and falling over. I brought him inside and gave him some water and he continued to stumble around the house like he was drunk. Mind you, this cat has lost a lot of weight in the past year and our vet doesn’t know why – all his blood work and urinalysis results are normal for  an older cat. So I freaked out, called S and told her to meet me at the animal hospital. 

Off I went to the vet with our cat. S met me there and then we were called into the examination room. I noticed on the car ride to the vet that my contractions were a little closer than 10 min apart but I didn’t think anything of it. In the exam room, they definitely felt closer together, but I didn’t time them as I was listening to the vet. She was concerned for Burn and trying to figure out why he was so wobbly. She was using scary phrases like “degenerative neurological disorder.” We were discussing his usual morning routine and I mentioned that S gave home his glucosamine supplement that morning, so he wasn’t on new medication. (This cat has arthritis.) S then mentioned, “yeah, the white capsule, right?” 

Oh man. 

His glucosamine capsule is green. However, we do have cat sedatives in white capsules (for when we have to take our other cat in the car. If he’s not slightly sedated, he will pee, poop and vomit from the stress.) And when we do have to give the sedative to the other cat, we give him about 1/3 of the powder from the capsule, not a whole pill.

So it turns out our 15 year old cat was acting drugged out of his mind because he WAS drugged out of his mind.

With that mystery solved, we went to pay at the reception desk  and I realized my contractions were about 5 min apart and getting stronger. We decided to drop the cat off at home, grab out hospital stuff, and head to the hospital. Exciting!

I quickly showered at home and got dressed, having to stop every few minutes to breathe through a contraction. We headed out and made it to the hospital quickly.

Once we were checked into triage, the contractions started coming in full force, taking my breath away. I was only 3 cm dilated, but the contractions were maybe 2 min apart. My water broke about 30 min after we arrived and the contractions got even harder to handle. It seriously felt like my hips were going to break apart. The only relief was to rock back and forth and have S push my hips together, as if to keep them from breaking. 

They got us to a delivery room and did a cervical check. After just a couple hours, I had gone from 3 cm to 7.5 cm dilated. They were trying to draw blood, but my contractions were so close together, they couldn’t do it fast enough. At that point I realized I wanted an epidural. I thought I’d be able to work through the pain, but it was so constant I just kept fantasizing about relief.

It still took a couple of hours before they gave me the epidural. They had to put in an IV and draw my blood to check for platelets or something. Finally, I got it when I was around 8 cm dilated. The midwife told me if I didn’t get the epidural, the baby would likely arrive in about an hour and a half / two hours.bthe epidural would likely slow down labor. I still chose the epidural. The contractions were coming so quickly, one right on top of another, I couldn’t imagine even lasting an hour and a half. I would be exhausted by the time I started pushing.

The epidural was administered and I felt instant relief. I still felt the pressure of the contractions, but the pain was gone. Everything seemed to calm down and my body was relaxed for the first time that day. S and I ate Popsicles and napped for a couple of hours. It was heavenly.

A coupe hours later, it was time to push. It was so calm and quiet, I really appreciated how the staff made it an intimate experience. There weren’t a million people in the room. Just S, myself and a nurse. I got to watch in a mirror as Mabel’s head started coming into view. Once her head was about to crown, the midwife and pediatrician came into the room. It was still very quiet and calm, lights dimmed, people whispering. Mabel’s head appeared, along with a lot of meconium. They unwrapped the umbilical cord for her neck and then proceeded to bring the rest of her out. The midwife had me reach down, grab Mabel and pull her out of my body myself and flop her on my chest. It was truly amazing. 

Because of the meconium, Mabel had trouble breathing at first. The pediatrician looked her over while she was on my chest and decided they need to intervene to help her breathe. So they took her over to the incubator and took a lot of gross fluid out of her lungs. S was over there watching the whole time. Once her lungs were clear, she was put back on my chest. It was the  strangest feeling to see this tiny human that had just been inside me. She immediately started rooting around and trying to nurse. And that is the beginning of our love story.

Since then we’ve had issues with breastfeeding, which I’ll post about soon. This child is a passionate and impatient lady, but she is definitely the best thing to ever happen to us. I’m so excited we have the entire summer together to bond and get to know each other. She’s already completely stolen our hearts.

Post Partum Hives?

Hello world,

It’s been a whirlwind week and a half of motherhood. I’m in the middle of typing out Mabel’s birth story and hope to put it up here this weekend. Also, lots to say on breastfeeding and sleep deprivation as it’s been a bit of a struggle in this household. I feel like maybe we’re starting to sorta get the hang of this parenting thing. More on that later.
But for now, is it common to be covered in hives postpartum?!? I didn’t have any weird skin reactions while pregnant, but right after giving birth, I had some raised bumps around my belly button that itched like CRAZY. And now I have these weird rashes on both thighs and calves. And tonight the tops of my feet started itching. What the hell is going on? Is this from the quick drop in hormones? Is this PUPPS or PEPS or whatever it’s called these days? I just want to cover my belly and legs in about 3 inches of calamine lotion.